I’m a sucker for self help books. I admit it. Mostly because I don’t think anyone can read just one and magically fix their life. I think personal growth is something we work on our whole lives, and reading books with new ideas, processes, or tools are helpful reminders to focus our time and energy where we most want to.
So if you’re a self help junkie like myself, or you know someone who is, here are the latest ones I’ve read and recommend.
Self Help Books Worth Buzzing About
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
By Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
I checked this book out from the library and admittedly did not pick it up until it was almost due, and there were holds on it, so I couldn’t renew it. The irony of the fact I had to speed read a book about making time is not lost on me.
Still, this book was a great read with easily digestible sections intermixed with drawings and chart examples. The authors come from technology backgrounds at Google and YouTube. While they both enjoy and appreciate technology, they recognized that it was stealing much of their time away from family and other life goals. They offered practical ways to cut back on screen time and refocus your energy.
What I learned: By implementing some of their tactics, I reduced my mindless scrolling on my phone and how I use my social media by 40%. As someone who earned her nickname of “Wi-fi” from her spouse, I know my husband was impressed with this change.
Recommended for: people looking to reduce or better manage screen time in their lives, tech gurus, business minds
The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness
By Paula Poundstone
More of an experimental memoir than a self help book, Poundstone’s book chronicles her attempts at getting fit, organized, and learning new skills. Bonus selling point: while listening to the audiobook in the breakroom, one of our library volunteers listened in while washing some toys and both of us were laughing out loud.
Candid about her moderate celebrity status, Poundstone shares real troubles and issues that are identifiable to many. Her self deprecating humor is laugh out loud at moments, and poignant at others.
What I learned: Have a sense of humor about self help. Poundstone takes both martial arts and dance classes and sees strengths and weaknesses in her abilities with both, but that doesn’t prevent her from finding happiness in the trying.
Recommended for: humor fans, humor writers, parents, anyone looking for some motivation and courage to try new experiences/skills
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg
This book was one of my favorite reads of the year, and I probably annoyed a lot of people talking about it. Ha!
With examples covering everything from employee culture to drastic lifestyle changes, tragic accidents to court cases, Duhigg explains how habits play a key role in our lives. The book doesn’t view habits as good or bad, but they can certainly play to our successes or vices. And when you understand how habits work, you have more awareness of how to change them.
What I learned: Many of the examples shared were jaw dropping upon breakdown, especially how habits play a role in our marketing culture. Being aware of that, I felt I had more mindfulness around spending habits and company culture. I also understood what elements I needed to play if I wanted to change habits, and I reduced my fast food intake and diet using them.
Recommended for: goal setters, knowledge seekers, marketers, business minds, managers, those in customer service, teachers, coaches, mentors
An older read, but still very relevant. Tracy’s book emphasizes starting your day with the tasks that are the largest or most productive, the “frogs”. Many of us fall into productivity traps like checking emails, and we don’t get around to the larger projects we need to address in a timely fashion. Tackling the most crucial to do’s first ensure increased productivity and fulfillment.
What I learned: Eat That Frog is a short read and includes enough tips and tricks to help you re-channel your focus to make it worthwhile. While the tips didn’t seem new or unexpected, I found it to be a good reminder for anyone with procrastination problems, like myself.
Recommended for: procrastinators, office workers, writers, business minds, anyone interested in productivity boosters
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
By Eckhart Tolle
If you’ve wondered what “living in the now” means, this book explains that. Broken into definitions, explanations, examples, and questions and answers, Tolle illustrates the power of the mind to live in the present. He discusses aspects of ego, listening, subconscious, and more.
What I learned: I’ll be honest, I struggled with this read. There were parts that made me think and I did some journaling around this topic. However, this book is not for everyone, and I admittedly wandered while listening because some of the ideas are very intellectual and I am not well practiced in “the now.” But don’t let me stop you, give it a try.
Recommended for: spiritual seekers, meditation lovers, those with an interest in self awareness
With chapters broken up by the lies Hollis told herself, she goes on to portray how she challenged her own negative thinking and moved past it. Women will find Hollis’ book very identifiable as we all battle “trying to have it all.”
Hollis keeps it real, though. She does not pretend to have all the answers or have everything figured out. She advocates for therapy, faith, and family/friend support that keep her on the right track, and admits she’s still working on things. Written like a great coffee chat with your girlfriend, Hollis is honest, open, and at times very funny.
What I learned: We all spend more time in our own heads than in anyone else’s, so why not make that a pleasant place to be and stop beating yourself up. Get help where you need it, and take control back to follow your dreams.
Recommended for: entrepreneurs, parents, couples, self help book junkies, lifestyle readers, feminists
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
By Gary John Bishop
Here’s the self help book for people who think they don’t like self help books. With no nonsense callouts, and a dash of humor too, Bishop provides the steps you need to take to, well, unfuck yourself.
Bishop points out the realistic fact that we’re all going to die someday, and you don’t want to get there and discover you have regrets about things you had the power to change. Offering tips to help you through the mental homework, this book asks you to consider both what you’re willing and what you’re unwilling (which can be just as important) to do.
What I learned: This book focuses on the stories we tell ourselves, so part of Bishop’s plan is for us to understand where our own stories come from. By knowing why we think the way do, we can prepare for the struggles that we’ll face in trying to change it, making that change more lasting.
Recommend for: anyone, but especially those facing transitions in their lives
Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment
By August McLaughlin
Combining personal tribulations with a wealth of science to back it up, McLaughlin has created a guide for every woman. Finally, a no shame space for discussing sexual health that advocates whatever path works for you.
From the basic to the advanced, this book is written as if you’re talking with your girlfriends, but full of medically accurate information and body positive / sex positive language.
What I learned: Many women are raised to feel shame about their bodies and their sexuality. McLaughlin’s book is a welcome and much needed addition to the bookshelf. And as a former reproductive health advocate, I wish I’d had this book to refer to students and share with the women I encountered in classes.
Recommended for: all persons who identify as female, people with questions about their sexuality, fans of body positivity/sex positivity, feminists, those who work in healthcare/teach sex ed
Own Your Glow is a beautiful combination of storytelling, self help guidance, journal prompts, and practices. Song lists and inspiring quotes are also sprinkled in.
Whether it’s overcoming hardships, dealing with change, or finding the courage to pursue your dreams, Thomas writes to the reader as if she’s a personal coach and mentor for each.
What I learned: I loved Thomas’ journal prompts to ponder the lessons more fully. The book is full of self love and self care practices. It is a total confidence boosting read.
Recommended for: women in need of a pep talk, journal writers, mothers, entrepreneurs
Those are the self help books I’ve read so far this year.
What titles are on your must read list?
How many of you have a stack of books you’re planning to read? Someday, right? And how many of you add to that list every year? I’m with you! I needed to know what happened in the Lunar Chronicles too!
That’s why I love the reading challenge created by Estella’s Revenge called #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. I joined up last year and read 38 out of 131 books. I think I started with double that amount on the shelves (and floor), but one of the books I read was The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I sold/gave away 125 books.
I’ve created my current bookshelf list for 2017, should you wish to peruse my shelves.
(And it’s safe to say I’ll be doing this reading challenge for years to come, because let’s face it, I will keep buying books. But now, I do read more that I currently own versus buying QUITE so many.)
I’m also using the book A Year of Reading to diversify what I read this year. This guidebook separates each month with a theme and gives six different book ideas for that theme. I love its diversity in authors and in genre.
It’s inclusive of authors of color, something I was looking to include more of this year in my reading, and the genre options include fiction and nonfiction, but also more marginalized categories like graphic novels, poetry, and short story anthologies.
The themes range from serious to fun, with a mix of genre styles within them. January was all about happiness, so very timely for that new year, new you vibe.
This month, I completed The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman.
Kalman’s book is different than most books I’ve read because it is also an art book. The pages are her colorful paintings and photography of people, places, and things that catch her eye – whether passing by on the street or musing over a historical figure.
This is a book you could read in a day. But I chose not to. I wanted to savor it.
On a surface level, it’s an easy book to read for reading’s sake. But I wanted to muse along with her. Sometimes I learned about a historical figure, or a family member of hers, or even the intricacy of a tassel on a chair. So what you really get out of Kalman’s book is that happiness is found in the little things. The day to day moments where we stop. And just look. Just listen.
What reading challenges are you doing this year, formal or otherwise?
What books have you read recently that made you think?
The past year has been a transitional one for me. I quit my job of six years, I was unemployed and financially broke for months, I wrote a full draft of my book, and I got a new job that I love!
It seems the winds of change weren’t done for me after just one year. I took on the task of planning an international wedding. I continued working on my book. I had a secret civil ceremony abroad. And then my family and I laid my brother-in-law to rest. Four days later, Joe and I had our stateside wedding ceremony and revealed our big surprise.
It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve undergone so many emotional extremes – some of which in one week’s time. I know I lived it. But I can’t believe it. I just knew it was time that I start taking care of myself. Mentally and physically.
The big push to get started came after reading Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. It’s amazing and well-researched. And I had the pleasure of meeting her at BlogHer14. In her book, she discusses the strengths and increased productivity from exercising meditation, getting enough sleep at night, and separating ourselves from technology for awhile.
I started practicing a few of her tips, like not checking social media an hour before bedtime – and going to bed earlier!
About a month ago, my best friend asked me if I wanted to do the 21 Day Fix challenge with her. It’s a daily workout and meal plan. I was in the midst of the wedding and decided not to, but when it came up again this month, I said yes.
And that brings me to all the green food I’ve eaten.
I’m eating a lot of green food.
Everything I’m eating is GREEN!
In addition, I also ate peas, green beans, and asparagus.
I started worrying that if I continued to eat so many green foods, I would eventually turn GREEN!
And then I’d look like an Oompa Loompa!!!
But I still crave junk food sometimes.
I’m liking how I feel so far. Taking care of ourselves is a luxury most of us don’t honor. But I’m glad I timed myself out and did this. My brain and body feel energized and are able to start processing the events of this past year.
What are you doing for yourself this week?
Well the cat’s out of the bag now and we revealed our big surprise to our wedding guests and you that we’ve secretly been married for a month now.
Surprise!!! *throws rice confetti and releases the doves*
Here’s what people are saying about it:
“It was the best wedding I’ve never been to!”
“Most fun we’ve had at a wedding in a long time!”
“It’s so romantic and beautiful.”
“How did you keep it a secret so well? We loved it!”
We are eternally grateful that everyone supported our actions and thought what we did was romantic and dreamlike. It really was.
I mean, look where we were! Can you blame us?
Our wedding day in Santorini was relaxing. Since our wedding wasn’t until sunset, we actually lounged the whole morning, swimming and hanging out in our private jacuzzi with glasses of Assyrtiko wine.
I’ve heard that every wedding day has its minor glitches and mine involved my flat iron.
While we had planned ahead and purchased an international adapter plug, Joe had warned me about voltage conversion issues. So far, things had worked out when it came to charging our camera and my laptop. While getting ready for the big event, I plugged my flat iron in to use it to smooth my bangs down and planned to curl the rest of my hair.
Yes, I know that sounds weird. I use my FLAT iron to CURL my hair. Just trust me it works, and I like how the curls turn out better than with a curling iron.
I had recently just purchased a new flat iron as well. It was so beautiful, a shiny new red handle and it worked really well.
I was straightening my bangs when I heard this little sizzling noise. And about 5 seconds later I dropped the flat iron to the floor because that sizzle I heard was the inside of the HANDLE burning up and scalding my palm. VOLTAGE CONVERSION ISSUE!!!
This day is not about my hair. This day is not about my hair. This day is not about my hair.
Those are the words I repeated to myself in the mirror as I stared at my straight hair. They were followed by gratitude to the gods for the fact that I had smoothed my bangs and NOT begun curling my hair or else I’d have ended up with some half-headed poodle-ized catastrophe.
And my new straightener…ended up in the trash. 😦
In the end it worked out.
Joe also played a trick on me on our wedding day. We’d been talking the week before we left about our wedding vows and all he’d tell me about his were that he “had a good idea” of what he was going to say and he didn’t need to write them down because he didn’t want them “to sound rehearsed.”
Okay, fine. But know that I had stepped up my game when it came to writing wedding vows. When Joe and I first started dating, I was still in college and wrote a lot of spoken word poems. Some even, for Joe. It’d been years since I’d written one. As a meaningful gesture, I wrote my vows in a spoken word poem for him.
The morning of our wedding, we both had to rewrite our vows nicely on fresh paper because we’d only packed the rough drafts. So I wrote mine out on one end of our room, and he wrote his on the other. I finished rewriting mine, meanwhile Joe is still sitting there – slightly staring into the abyss, periodically writing something down.
That worm! Is he just writing his vows NOW?!!
So our wedding time came and I was unsure what Joe’s vows would be. I was half preparing for a bulleted list of nonsense.
So what the heck had he been twiddling with for so freaking long?
My twerp of a husband was messing with me. That whole time he was sitting there pretending to struggle with his vows, he was scribbling Bruno Mars song lyrics on the back of the paper!
I’ll get you for this, my pretty!
Everyone we worked with from our Grecian wedding planner’s company was wonderful. We had so much fun laughing with them, enjoying our happy moment of foreverness, taking in as much beauty as our eyes would let us, and sharing cake and champagne with them as well as our hotel staff, who felt like our long distance Greek family members while we stayed there.
Thank you to everyone who supported us and our big surprise!
We so enjoy sharing our 2 special weddings with you all.
Have you ever kept a big secret from your closest loved ones?
How did it go over when you finally told them?
When you look in the mirror, how do you feel about yourself?
And we’re being honest here.
Do you believe the only value it shows is what’s on the outside? Does the mirror, to you, amplify your flaws or acknowledge the human being that you are with phenomenal virtues inside and out?
Does the mirror reflect your worth?
This is the question that a group of women from Austen, TX came together to answer. But first, they started a band.
Their group is called The Mrs.
Unable to connect with the songs they were hearing on the radio, well past the years of the teenage heartbreak and club beats, they sought to create music inspired by their own lives as passionate – and busy – wives, mothers, and girlfriends.
The all-female rock band is comprised of drummer Andra Liemandt, lead vocalists/guitarists Mandy Prater and Jennifer Zavaleta, vocals/keyboardist Larissa Ness, and bassist Jenny Mason.
They wrote a song called ‘I’m Enough.’ And from that song, they gave birth to a movement.
They plastered stickers around every mirror and window they came across with messages like “You’re awesome,” “I’m Enough,” and “You’ve never looked better!” Then they took it a step further and concocted what some might dub ‘a magic mirror’, a talking mirror that surprised women all over the county.
At first glance, the mirror on the wall appears ordinary. When you walk up to it, all you see is your reflection.
And then a voice comes on.
That voice greets you, perhaps by name. That voice tells you you’re beautiful. That voice tells you you are loved. That voice tells you you’re enough.
The Mrs. performed at BlogHer live on Saturday, and their talking mirror was in the vendor hall all weekend. My pal, August McLaughlin, and I got to experience the talking mirror firsthand before we even knew what it was!
I went up to it first. I put the headphones on and immediately this friendly voice greeted me, “Hi Jess! Look at that gorgeous red hair!”
The person behind the mirror told me I was beautiful. She told me I had beautiful, clear skin.
I started crying.
I wasn’t making-a-scene-hysterical, I just genuinely teared up. I don’t tell myself my skin is beautiful.
As my 30th birthday gets closer, I’ve been battling some body dysmorphia. I wrote about it in To Conceal and Carry…My Muffin Top. Besides recent weight gain, I have trouble with adult acne. It began as “teenage” acne, then “college” acne, and morphed into adulthood “I’ve paid thousands of dollars on skincare and make-up” acne. I know my skin has changed and that it has improved. But when I look in the mirror, I see only the bumps, the redness, the scarring.
I knew my attacks on myself were really bad when I nonchalantly made the comment to my sister, “You know how people sometimes ask you ‘If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?’ Well, mine would be clear skin. That’s all I want. CLEAR skin!”
I immediately felt hurt when I said it. Hurt by my OWN words. I had always been the girl who wanted to fly. How had I let myself get so stuck?
Even on my wedding day, my biggest fear was my face. Not the hundreds of dollars we paid in legal paperwork for an international wedding, or traveling to a foreign country with my wedding dress, or that Joe had not written his vows until the day of (he actually had, but was messing with me for fun). No, I was freaking out over my face. I wanted perfect skin for my wedding day, and that was the one thing beyond my grasp.
I started a mantra, “This day is not about my face. This day is not about my face.” And I said it every morning as I put my make up on for that whole week before our wedding.
So yah. I started crying when the woman behind the mirror told me I had clear skin. And then she told me my writing mattered. That my words brought joy and laughter and insight to others. And I felt – this may sound silly – but I felt like I sprouted wings. Little baby wings that flapped and triggered my brain to say “Go after your dreams.”
And remember I’m enough.
Do you need to be reminded?
Follow more of the movement on Twitter using the hashtag #ImEnough.
This weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending Blogher ’14.
I can’t even begin to decompress and describe the mind bomb that is this conference. 4,000 bloggers, most of them women, in scenic California, partying it up, networking, and honoring each others’ voices.
I arrived in San Jose, CA on Thursday afternoon and was greeted by cupcakes (made out of lentils???) in a beautiful city. I ask you, does it get any better than that?
Who was on the list?
Jenny Lawson – who you may know as The Bloggess, and author of the hilarious memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I met her, and we talked about funny female authors, and we both just finished reading Nora Ephron for the first time, and she signed my book “Knock Knock, Mofo”. Isn’t she great?
Tig Notaro – the comedian best known for her stand up show discussing the humor and heft of having breast cancer. You can download free tracks of her stand up at her site here, including clips from her famous show, Live.
Arianna Huffington – as in the founder of The Huffington Post! Best speech of the keynotes; she was inspiring, charming, funny, and flawless. And you know what? I met her too, and I spoke to her in Greek! *seriously might faint just thinking how awesome that was*
Kerry Washington – the actor and activist. She shared behind the scenes stories from her show, Scandal, as well as why civil rights and philanthropy are so important.
BlogHer is drastically different than writers conferences, in my opinion. When you go to a writers conference, there’s a pretty strict schedule of classes to attend. It’s more about learning, networking, and deciding about indie vs. traditional publishing routes. It’s awesome and definitely motivating, but different.
1. BlogHer is basically a giant party.
No I’m not kidding. That’s how it feels. Everyone is smiling. Everyone wants to meet people. Everyone wants to know what you blog about and which classes you attended, and which yogurt you picked in the Yoplait #tasteoff challenge!
Shocker! We picked Yoplait.
That’s me and the illustrious August McLaughlin
hanging out with a giant spoon. #GoodTimes
The Expo room with all the vendors is fun to bum around. And for those looking to write sponsored posts, the connections are yours for the making!
2. The Keynotes
See above. Then wipe the drool from your chin. I can’t wait to see who’s on board for next year’s keynotes.
3. Voices of the Year Community Keynote
If you want to hear the voices that are groundbreaking in the blogosphere, attend the VOTY celebration. I was in awe of these women. And I want to share them all with you. Here are the 12 Voices of the Year that spoke at the conference. (All were phenomenal, but I starred the ones that spoke the most to me personally.)
*Parri Sontag ~ Her Royal Thighness ~ Leisure Suits, Braces, and Beanies: My Life as a Dodgeball Target
Kristin Vanderhey Shaw ~ Two Cannoli ~ More Than Words
Tammy Soong ~ World’s Worst Moms ~ First Reason Not to Get a Tattoo: Your Mom Probably Has One
*A’driane Nieves ~ Butterfly Confessions ~ America’s Not Here For Us
*Meredith Bland ~ Pile of Babies ~ 9 Awesome Things About Having a Physical Disability
*Janelle Hanchett ~ Renegade Mothering ~ We Don’t Start With Needles in Our Arms
Phyllis Myung ~ The Napkin Hoarder ~ Sometimes I Still Wish I Was White
Ashley Garrett ~ Baddest Mother Ever ~ It’s All One Life
*August McLaughlin ~ August McLaughlin’s Blog ~ My Big Brindle Heart: A Love Story
*Grace Sandra ~ Grace Sandra’s Blog ~ Letting The Stupid Little Ni**er Go
Jenna Hatfield ~ Stop, Drop, & Blog ~ The Bridge That is Any Bridge
Lisa Page Rosenberg ~ Smacksy ~ The View From Here
4. Networking and Friendships
There are 4,000 bloggers in one building and you get to hang out with them!!! I actually ran out of business cards.
Also, meet bloggers you follow online.
After using Twitter as a ginger beacon homing device, I met up with Aussa Lorens from Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.
You know who else I Twitter stalked?
Hege and Cotille from StitchFix! Photo coming soon as it’s on Cotille’s phone, but the girls will be sharing their photos from BlogHer and all the StitchFix fashionistas at the conference using the hashtag #StitchFixInTheWild.
*double squeeee* I even went out to dinner with them! And we leisured on Santana Row, San Jose’s trendy hot spot for restaurants and clothing boutiques.
But best of all was meeting fellow blogger, longtime friend, and founder of #GirlBoner radio – August McLaughlin!
5. BlogHer is literally a giant party.
The end of the conference is a big, outdoor party. And Rev Run from Run DMC was the dj. #ILoveThe90s
Do you need any more reasons than that?
So, will I see you at BlogHer next year?
Hello Everyone! I’ve been training all last week (and still am) in a new Manager Position, so forgive me for not visiting as many of you as I try to. And worse, for not working on that WIP like I should be. I’m currently sitting at 51K on Oops Baby (the WIP). I’ll update you soon! In the meantime, I’ve been reading some great stuff and thought it was time for another mash up! Grab your coffee and settle in!
With summer finally here, are you feeling like you have nothing to wear? Are you on a tight budget and trying to re-purpose your closet? Nina Badzin shares Wardrobe Rescue – Her story of getting help from a Style Expert who matched up clothes that were already in her closet!
Speaking of wardrobes…What does your footwear say about your love life? The hilarious Tawna Fenske asks herself just that in Judging My Love Life By My Footwear.
Looking for a little life recharge from the solitary writer’s life? Joe Warnimont shares Breaking Through Writing Solitude with ideas to escape cabin fever and refuel again!
The Packing Tips You Don’t Want to Miss
Romance writer Erin Knightley packs 8 days worth of travel into one carry on bag! Need to see it to believe it? She’s got a video! It’s beautiful! I will definitely be implementing her tips when Joe and I take our road trip again this summer. How to Pack for Nationals
Wondering where to go on your next vacation? I am so excited for author Patricia Sands who joined forces with Women’s Travel Network to plan a trip to Provence, France touring the sites from her book, The Promise of Provence. Looking at the itinerary, it sounds like the trip of a lifetime! Come to France With Us Next June!
Remember when planes were fun? People dressed up to travel and the food was elegant. Renee Schuls-Jacobson reminisces When Flying Was Fun.
Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Laugh
Jenny Hansen of the blog, More Cowbell, shares Dumb State Laws That Made Me Laugh. A few of my favorites from Jenny’s home state, California:
- No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour. (Whew.)
- It is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale.
- Animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of taverns, schools, or places of worship.
Amy at Left to Write was Freshly Pressed with the post Am I a Millenial? As someone who questions this constantly myself, I feel her pain. I too grew up with a rotary phone in the house and thought the best boy band was New Kids on the Block. And yet I Instagram, therefore I am… ???
Pimp and Promote
Glitter Queen and California Girl, Tameri Etherton, is getting ready to launch her new website. She’s got a great teaser of what it looks like in the form of the coolest business cards ever as well as a name competition to name her dragon mascot! Dragon Names! RWA Prep! Movies! It’s all here today!
One of my favorite new blogs to read is Madge Madigan‘s. Looking for a laugh from a woman with real
snark spark? Ok, snark too. She’s been offering her book, When Life Gives You Lemons…At Least You Won’t Get Scurvy for great deals lately so keep posted to get your copy!
Two of my favorite ladies in one place! Tiffany A. White interviews paranormal writer/blogger Catie Rhodes! Get her take on Ghosts, Haunted Houses, and Forever Road!
Geek Goddess and Steampunk Warrior Ellie Ann has released her debut novel, The Silver Sickle, and a new website! Nab your copy today!
Post-apocalyptic writer Piper Bayard still has her Reader/Blogger Challenge going on to win some PR/Schwag in honor of her amazing new book, Firelands – which I am reading and LOVING! She recently blogged about Currency of the Apocalypse – Whatcha Got?
What did I miss?
Feel free to promote a post of your own in the comments! See you there!
It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier! Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us! Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring. Take it away, Kirsten!
Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.
The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.
So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?
There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.
The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.
So how does it work?
Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?
Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?
We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?
And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.
No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.
Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective. Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us. I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible. You’re right, that is beautiful!
See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!
*This post was originally published through the Life List Club Blog on April 27, 2012. Thought it was time for another discussion.
I was driving home one night listening to my guilty pleasure, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the topic for the evening really stunned me. The radio host, Joy Cardin, was speaking with Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development especially twentysomethings.
Dr. Jay is the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Dr. Jay works as an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia and keeps a private practice as well. Interacting with so many college students and recent graduates, she noticed the hits and misses my generation was making time and time again.
When asked why she wrote the book, Dr. Jay said she’s trying to make an impact on the 50 million twentysomethings who are looking for guidance in their lives while still being treated like an adult.
So why are the twenties so defining?
- 80% of life’s most defining moments take place before the age of 35.
- 70% of lifetime wage growth happens in the first 10 years of a career.
- More than half of us are married or living with our longterm partners.
- Our fertility rates peak in our twenties.
- And our brains do their last growth spurt in our twenties.
If you had the same reaction I did, you’re probably thinking, “Sweet God, it’s all over! I may as well start digging my grave, drop down in it, along with my unfinished book, my birth control pills, and any other unfulfilled dreams while we’re funeralizing!”
Fear not! Dr. Jay says Never Give Up.
She does emphasize that my generation is in the midst of some crucial crossroads and the decisions we make now CAN AND DO impact the rest of our lives.
She talks about “identity capital” which she defines as the collateral you build up so when you go in for an interview the person looks at your resume and says “Oh that’s interesting, tell me more about that!” We know we’re in an economic crisis right now. The job market is not ideal. The Veteran Generation is staying employed longer in need of more stability, and yet year after year more college graduates are flooding the market. We’ve got all four generations competing and cohabiting the workforce. Ages 20 – 70+.
Many of us twentysomethings opted for an alternative route. I’m sure all of you know someone who decided to take time off, travel the world, date around, etc. Dr. Jay’s concern with some of these routes is that for those individuals they’re having a harder time trying to get back on track whether it’s the job field or family planning. Employers start to look at your resume and think “hmm, you really haven’t done too much” and the person that stands out is the twentysomething who jumped right in and planned their career path just like an adult, setting goals or achieving higher degrees, whatever it might be.
In regards to family planning, she wants twentysomethings to be aware of fertility information. Women’s fertility peaks at 28. What she tends to hear from the twentysomethings she counsels, is so many of them spend time in cohabitation with a partner or spouse for 4-5 years before they realize that maybe that relationship should have only lasted a year.
Now, I will totally say that family planning is a personal choice! And Dr. Jay agreed. What she wants is for us to have the facts about fertility so we are thoughtful in planning who our partners are as well as when we want to start having children because the health risks are increased the later into the 30′s you are.
That being said, I may have ran in from the car, found Joe, and screamed something like, “We have to start having babies now, my fertility is peaking!!! What are we doing with our lives??!”
So then he said, “You’re not allowed to listen to the radio anymore…”
Our generation is at its peak for adaptation. If there is something you are unhappy about in life, or you’re wanting to make changes, then do it! We have the capability to transform and rise to the occasion.
When I graduated from college, I started having anxiety attacks. I panicked about “what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!” I fell in suit and took the first full time job that came my way. I worked all the time, and was too exhausted to pursue my writing or hang out with friends. You know what, I got really sad and really bored real fast! It’s been an ongoing process to change. While I’ve done well for myself career-wise, I quickly learned that what makes me happy is writing and travel, and if I was going to get that back in my life that meant change!
So, three years ago I started blogging! And I met amazing writers and readers online! Through them, I got involved with some writing contests and critique groups. I also saved up my money and used my vacation time to attend writing conferences and travel around the world.
There is hope! And it’s never too late! All of us can define the decade we’re living in!
So what are you waiting for?! What’s on your life list?
What do you think about Dr. Jay’s theory and your 20′s being the Defining Decade? Are you currently in your 20′s? Would you do anything differently if you could go back? What advice do you have for a new adult in their 20’s, or for parents raising a 20-somthing?
Happy Friday Everyone! We’re taking a change from guilty pleasures to talk about happiness. Specifically, that age old question, Can Money Buy You Happiness? Please welcome the author of The Power of Happiness, Timothy McKinney!
Plus: He’s offering 3 lucky commenters a chance to win an e-copy of his book! Leave a comment on today’s post to enter, or double your chances by also leaving a comment on my book review of The Power of Happiness here. All comments must be in by Sunday, September 16th 5pm to win!
Can You REALLY Buy Happiness With Money?
“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”
-Helen Gurley Brown
This past month, American cultural icon Helen Gurley Brown passed away after a lifetime of helping people challenge their beliefs. And, her quote about money really captures the age-old question, “Can money buy happiness?”
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as one would think. To illustrate the challenge, let’s look at two people—one with money and one without. To keep as many things constant as possible, let’s imagine that these two people are twin brothers, Bill and Bob. They are, of course, the same age, have the same parents, and grew up in the same environment. They have the same level of health and are both in sales. They’re both married and have two children each. The main difference between the two brothers is that Bill made an investment when he was in college that made him a lot of money. Bob invested the same amount in a different company and didn’t see a return on his investment.
Bill and Bob have a sister, Bonnie. One day, Bonnie comes to her brothers and tells them that her husband has left and taken all of their money. She’s got young children and doesn’t know how she’ll make the rent. She asks her brothers for a small loan. Bob is struggling to pay his own rent and doesn’t have any extra to give his sister. He feels awful, but must tell his sister, “I don’t have the money right now, but why don’t you and the kids come over to dinner this weekend. I can’t give you financial support, but I can give you emotional support.” Bill has plenty of money and is easily able to give his sister the money. “Don’t worry about it, Sis. It’s my gift to you.”
Later that week, Bill and Bob’s mother ends up in the hospital after a fall. She’s broken her hip and needs surgery. Unfortunately, her insurance won’t cover the entire cost of the surgery. Bill says to his mother, “It’s okay, Mom. I can cover the gap. You just worry about getting better.” Bob visits his mom, too. He brings her a huge bouquet of flowers and a copy of her favorite book. He spends the afternoon with his mother in the hospital reading to her.
The next month, during the brothers’ annual “Guys Weekend,” Bill and Bob are sitting on a small boat on a lake doing some fishing. The subject of happiness comes up. “Bill, are you happy in your life?” asks Bob.
“Yeah, I am. Of course, there are some things I would change…”
“What would you change, Bill? You have all the money you could possibly want. What would make your life better?”
“Well, Bob, I kind of envy you sometimes. Everyone in the family knows that when there is a financial bind, they can come to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love having the ability to solve problems with money. But I envy the personal connection that you seem to have with everyone. It’s almost as if because you don’t have the financial resources I have, you’re forced to give another kind of support. Money is the easiest kind of support there is to give, and sometimes I think it makes me a bit lazy. What about you, Bob? Are you happy?”
“Yes, I’m happy. But, I’d change some things, too. I do wish I had more money. I think I would be happier if I did. It makes me feel awful when I can’t help Bonnie or Mom. I feel like if I just had the money to solve their problems, then I wouldn’t have to feel terrible for other people so much.”
The brothers lapsed into silence for a few moments and contemplated this. Finally, Bill broke the silence. “I guess it’s like this. Having money makes it easier to do the things that make you happy. It doesn’t MAKE you happy, but it takes away the stresses that can make happiness elusive.”
Bob agreed. “Yeah. I don’t think that one of us is more or less happy than the other, Bill. We each use the resources we have to do the things we can to make others happy. It’s about serving others and giving, whether it’s money or another form of support.”
This story perfectly captures the paradox of money and happiness. You can be happy with money, or you can be miserable with money. You can be happy without money, or you can be miserable with no money. But, there’s no question that having money can at least ameliorate some of the stresses that can make one unhappy. Perhaps, Henry David Thoreau said it best…
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
Timothy McKinney lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife Cindy and their two children, Heather and Robbie. He went to the University of Southern California, where he received degrees in Business and Psychology. Since 1997, Tim has been a corporate trainer who conducts workshops on subjects related to happiness and workplace effectiveness. He is a passionate vegetarian who enjoys SCUBA Diving in the Kelp Forests of Catalina Island.