Tag Archives: reading

big magic

2 Nov

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I just finished reading “Big Magic : Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book club. I’ve been a fan of Gilbert’s work ever since I read “Eat, Pray, Love”- a book that people either seem to love or hate. I personally loved it. I remember devouring it in a few short days and being consumed with her journey. Considering I am also a travel nut I enjoyed reading about Italy, India & Indonesia. That book planted a seed in me to one day visit Bali and the famous medicine man Ketut, who she receives a reading when in Bali and I did both last year on our honeymoon. I was feeling very connected to the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert in that moment!

“Big Magic” is a guide of sorts on how to live a creative life. That doesn’t mean just writing (although Elizabeth does talk a lot about writing because it happens to be her creative passion) but encompasses something larger: instead exploring any activity that takes you out of yourself and opens you to the experience of wonder and joy. This could mean weaving, drawing, dancing, it could mean running a farm, tap dancing, learning a new lanugaue…the options are endless!

I have been seeking inspiration recently so this book spoke to me. It made me think about the times in my life that I have been most fulfilled and it is most definitely when I feel creatively alive. I think back to when I started this blog- I was in a funk at the time and instinctively knew that to break free from its hold, I had to create, write, explore & learn. I had to get back in touch with the part of myself that comes alive when I am living a creative and inspired existence. That year I learned how to cook, I learned how to tango, I drove across the country taking photos and writing. All these activities brought me such profound joy and isn’t that the point of living? Why don’t we give our creative pursuits more energy?

This book reminded me that it’s ok to spend an afternoon painting for no other reason than it feels good and makes you happy…and that is a life worth living in my opinion.

Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book…

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”

“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

“creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

“But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”

“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust—and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.”

“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.”

“But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work.”

“Because often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection).”

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all the paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise- you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

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Gilbert explored some of the ideas in the book in two TED talks, 2009’s “Your Elusive Creative Genius” and 2014’s “Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating.”

my fall/winter book list: part 1

17 Sep

I realize that I am setting myself up for failure with the length of my desired fall / winter reading list. But I can’t help it! There are so many books I’ve been wanting to read. I figure if I read half of them, I’d be happy. I’ve decided to split my list into two posts to make it more digestible. So here goes…the first seven books I’d like to read this fall/winter.

I’d love to hear what you guys are reading too….maybe I’ll add to my list! ha.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

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Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

Their eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

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When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds …

‘For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more.’ Zadie Smith

We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

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fall / winter 2015

9 Sep

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(image found via pinterest)

With 2015 nearing to a close…I know, I know, we still have four full months, but once September hits I can’t help but reflect on how I want the year to wrap up. September – December always seems to fly by and I find myself surprised every year on January 1st- it almost seems impossible that we are there again. The next four months also happen to be my absolute favorite time of year- I find myself most creatively alive during this time. I also love everything to do with the holidays and what they represent- family dinners, our wedding anniversary, carving pumpkins, dressing Frankie up for Halloween, cooking, warmth, bundling up, decorating trees, cuddling & new beginnings.

The last eight months have been an introspective time for me. Rather than exploring the world around me, as I usually do, I have been instead making the journey within. I knew at the start of 2015 that something was off.  I had baggage that I still hadn’t worked through and I was dragging it around with me. I couldn’t hide from it anymore. It was time to do the hard work, even if that meant that other things had to be put on the back burner. Something very hard for a person who desires immediate results like me to come to terms with. Instead I had to trust the process. It reminded me of that quote by Zora Neale Hurston –  “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Thus far this year has most definitely been asking me some questions. Ones that needed answering and ones that positively shifted something in me once I did. I feel empowered and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Life man, such a wild ride sometimes, right?

When reflecting about how I want the next few months to unfold, it was clear to me that I want them to feed my soul, creative mind, relationships, home & belly. I want to soak in every bit of goodness that 2015 has left to offer me. I have a feeling the next four months will bring an entirely different energy than the first eight did and I am ready for that new energy.

Some of the ways I would like to spend the next few months…

Deepening my meditation practice. I know I have only been scratching at the surface and I am feeling a pull towards more. In addition to developing a stronger home practice I want to explore Unplug Meditation, Against The Stream & Shambhala Center.

Reading! There are fifteen (I might be setting myself up for failure on this one) books I would love to read before the end of the year. I’ll share them in a later post.

Cooking- I plan on spending some quality time in the kitchen! Again, there is something about fall and winter that inspire me to want to cook. I love hearty recipes and the feeling of warmth that comes from the kitchen this time of year.

I would love to put a small dinner party together in our home each month to bring our family and friends together. I want to make a point to enjoy the ones that matter most in my life. I also love to entertain.

I want to finish a few work projects that have been on the back burner for many many many months. As I mentioned previously, I put some things on the back burner to focus on me and it’s time to dust them off. They involve getting two book proposals finished and ready to submit in the new year and revamping my personal website which has been in purgatory for the last six months.

Practicing yoga. I want to make my yoga practice more of a priority over the next few months. My love for it has been renewed recently and I would love to keep the love affair going. My body just feels so much more balanced when I am practicing regularly.

I would love to finally find a property for the business Brian and I have been building with a few partners this past year. I can’t wait to share about it in the new year! Granted we find a property and the ball gets moving.

My home life- one of the most important aspects of my life. It has been in an incredibly solid and fulfilling place and I want to continue to watch it grow.

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There are years that ask questions and years that answer,

Years that

fall apart

and years that come together…

There are years that cry and years that laugh,

Years that wonder

And years that strike and clap and thunder.

. . .

Your job isn’t to know — not right now, not quite yet.

Your job is simply

to breathe,

to trust,

to rest

To know that it is all a part of the path —

The mystery and the clarity

The hardship and delight

The darkness and the light alike.

. . .

Dear One,

Haven’t you heard?

“This place where you are right now

God circled on a map for you.”

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happy list

13 Jul

happy post

(image found via pinterest)

things that made me happy this weekend…

The Girl On The Train. I literally did not put it down all weekend. I even woke up at 3am on Sunday morning and found myself strapping on a camping headlamp to continue reading it quietly in the dark as Brian slept next to me. To say I was obsessed is an understatement.

Dinner at Lukshon with my in-laws to celebrate my birthday. Hands down the best meal I have had in ages. Every dish was filled with such an intoxicating mix of flavors. I’m still dreaming about the lobster roll “banh mi”

That Frank didn’t drown in a koi pond this weekend. We were visiting our old neighbor at his new pad and enjoying some time in his garden when I heard a loud splash. It sounded like a bowling ball had rolled into the water. I immediately knew it was Frankie. I ran over to the pond just in time to see Frank pop up from under the water with his eyes as big as saucers. Poor little guy looked terrified. Luckily Brian was nearby and quickly yanked him out. PHEW. I’m not sure Frank will ever explore bodies of water again.

Masters Of Sex. Such a smart & sexy show.

A Sunday night pasta dinner made with love by my husband. He was so excited to use the cherry tomatoes from his garden in a recipe.

A cheerful bouquet of orange tulips my girlfriend Taline sent me for my birthday.

Long summer days & sunsets at 8pm

The project 30 Q&A that I will be posting tomorrow. It’s such a great read

Allowing myself to take it slow

This incredibly inspiring TED talk by our friend Adi Jaffe. It’s a very interesting fifteen minutes if you have the time! FUCK SHAME!

 

currently: on the ground next to my bed

8 Jul

books

In a perfect world this post would have been entitled “currently: on my nightstand” but I don’t have a nightstand. I must change this nightstand situation soon because the pile of books next to my side of the bed is getting out of hand. I trip over them constantly. Although, they do come in handy when I am in need a surface to balance my water and chapstick on. Anyways, my bedroom layout/makeover is for another post…a home decor post. This post is about books! Are you guys reading anything good?? I have a handful of books going right now. It depends on my mood which one I pick up on a given day. Does anybody else read 5 books at a time? Or do I just have commitment issues?

Currently on the floor…next to my bed…

“The Brain That Changed Itself” by Norman Doidge

I’ve been interested in the powers of the human brain recently, so I found this book about neuroplasticity fascinating. Until recently the brain was thought to be hardwired and unchangeable- much like a machine. But new research shows that the brain is a plastic, living organ that can change its structure and function…and not only in infancy like originally thought but well into old age. I’m not usually one to read books that you can find in the science section at the bookstore but this one reads different from a wordy textbook. It is filled with personal stories of triumph- ranging from stroke patients to amputees…to my personal favorite…a woman who recovers from the damage to her inner ear’s vestibular system.

“Bird By Bird: some instructions on writing and life” by Anne Lamott

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

One of my favorite excerpts from the book. The way her brother felt about his report on birds is how I feel about life some days. Not the fabulous parts but the parts that feel hard. I doubt I am alone here. Sometimes certain tasks, projects, lessons and days for that matter seem completely overwhelming and all you can do is take it bird by bird. As you can probably tell from the title of the book it’s not only a book about how to navigate life but also how to navigate being a writer. Anne Lamott is such a soulful and funny writer. I have a major crush on her.

“The Girl On The Train” by Paula Hawkins

I know. I know. I’m so late to girl on the train party. It seems like everybody and their mother has read this book- and loved it for that matter.. I think it’s taken me so long to read it because I was waiting to borrow it from a friend but no one seems to have paper books anymore. Instead everyone has an electronic device. Clearly, I am late to the electronic device party as well. I just hate the idea of saying goodbye to books. Anyway, I’ve seem to have diverged. Back to the girl on the train. I’ve barely just begun it but I have a feeling I’m going to devour it quickly.

“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz

I have read this book a million times and it never disappoints. It’s always next to my bed and I pick it up from time to time when I am in need of some wisdom. The author Don Miguel Ruiz shares four principles (1- Be impeccable with your word 2- Don’t take anything personally 3- Don’t make assumptions 4. Always do your best ) to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. Has anyone not read this book? You must run out and buy it immediately if you have not. It’s so so so good.

“Euphoria” by Lily King 

My mom passed along this book to me after reading it and loving it. I have yet to begin it but it’s up next after The Girl On The Train. Here’s the synopsis…Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ‘30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is “dazzling … suspenseful … brilliant…an exhilarating novel.”—Boston Globe. Sounds like an interesting read, right? Has anybody read it?

“Taking The Leap” by Pema Chodron 

And lastly, Taking The Leap….yet another book that has a permanent place next to my bed (as you can probably tell by its ripped cover). The always inspiring Pema Chodron draws on the Buddhist concept of shenpa to help one understand how certain habits of the mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction. But once recognize these patterns, they instantly begin to lose their hold on us and we can begin to change our lives for the better. I pick it up often when I am in need of her reboot.

….so what are you guys reading???

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” – Emilia Fox

 

 

currently : two

28 Feb

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Reading: Did you know that I am reading “The Goldfinch”??? Kidddding. I think I’ve mentioned it 100 times in the last two weeks. But seriously it’s that GOOD. I find myself thinking about the characters all day long…in the shower, in the car, at work, in bar method class…they are consuming my mind!

Thinking about: upcoming travel! Up first- my best girlfriend Rachel’s bachelorette in Napa at the end of March. I am beyond excited for the weekend. There is nothing better than celebrating people you love and adore during happy times in their life as well as girls trips in general. I am a fan of a girls weekend. Then on April 24th Bri and I are off on our one month honeymoon to Vietnam and Bali. Seriously, is this real life?? I’ve only dreamed of going to these places and now it’s becoming a reality. I am so grateful I found a man who loves travel as much as I do. We still have so much planning to do. We still haven’t booked a single hotel! We are staying in all weekend and buckling down on booking stuff.

Listening to: I’m on a “LCD Soundsystem” Pandora kick. I seem to love every song that it picks. They all make me want to DANCE. Also, listening to Frank play with his new squeaky ball. I have my mom to thank for this purchase. It’s seriously the most annoying sound in the world and he LOVES it. When I hide it from he becomes depressed and frantically searches every inch of the house for it. It’s sad to watch. It’s sitting in a drawer right now…I don’t have the heart to trash it.

Watching: House Of Cards, True Detective & The Americans…and when I start to feel too high brow I throw on Real Housewives of BH. Oh and of course I’ll be watching the Oscars this Sunday. I seriously look forward to it every year.

Loving: Our new kitchen island! We finally have a hug space to eat on…well we don’t have new counter stools yet but we are almost there. I can’t believe how much it has changed the space. The marble we had prior made the space feel cold but with our new wood top suddenly our super modern loft feels warm. I’m in love. I’m also in love with the rain we are getting in LA right now. My heaven.

favorite quote of the week : “I’ve learned that faith means trusting in advance what only makes sense in reverse” – Philip Yancey

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