Monthly Archives: April 2018

What are the 20 best books ever?

That’s a hard question and one I thought I was supposed to answer. So I pondered it deeply.

Part of being a writer is being a reader, and a rewarding part of being a reader is connecting with other readers. I’ve been meaning to get involved with Goodreads, to connect with other readers, but have been “too busy.” My book club friends get recommendations off of Goodreads. I go along with whatever they find. My clients mention Goodreads, and I nod and act like I know what they’re talking about (that’s a habit I’m still trying to put down and a whole different blog post).

My marketing team suggested I take the plunge and asked me to rate my top twenty books ever. Well, that’s what I thought they asked me to do. They actually asked me to rate twenty books. I’m the one who made it more daunting.

Because how do you choose your top twenty books EVER? The books I loved as a child? They’re there. The books that changed my life? They’re there. I felt such pressure to “recommend” the “right” books, so that everyone who engaged with me on Goodreads would know the real me and would walk away with something powerful that could help them be their real them.

That’s kinda BS, but it’s the pressure I put on myself. And why I managed to make a simple task so challenging is perhaps fodder for another blog post.

But although it was daunting, it was also fun. I enjoyed scouring the bookshelves, pulling out the “right” ones to include. What did I read (and reread, and reread) when I was younger? What was important to me as I matured? As I left the cult and tried to redefine myself? What saved my soul and life as I climbed out of the depths of despair? Little Women is in there. Sex Tips for Girls is in there. Alcoholics Anonymous is in there. Radical Acceptance is in there. All great books. All books that capture the essence of me at different points in my life.

It was fun to explain myself through my reading. It was fun to offer suggestions to others. It was fun to review the books (and hope that, in time, others review To the Moon and Back – and give it lots of stars!).

It is funny that I took a simple task and made it essential and therefore harder. I need to keep thinking and looking to see where else I do that. It is funny that I tried to get involved with Goodreads “perfectly,” but those of you who know, and are coming to know, me know that I do that pretty much all the time.

Did I mention that The Gifts of Imperfection was also on my list?

What are your favorite books ever? It is fun to think about, and I’d love to know. (And come join me on Goodreads, if you’re not there. I’m having fun getting more involved.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Let your head go

That’s what the yoga instructor said. “Let your head go.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about physically releasing the muscles in our necks, thinking about relaxing and not holding our heads up, as we eased into humble warrior pose. Needless to say, I heard a bunch more.

I did ground my feet and feel the strength of my legs. I did bow my torso down towards the ground and aim my shoulder under my front leg. I did (my best to) clasp my hands behind my back and allow my arms to raise away from my back…as much as they would go. And I did let my head go. And I let my head go again.

As I held the pose, hearing the instructor repeat her loving challenge for us to let our heads go, I thought about how else I could let my head go.

I aim to let my heart and soul lead my daily actions more than my head. I aim to come from love – for myself and others – and live for joy. I aim to get out of my head and my “stinking thinking,” as I once heard it described, so that I can feel life more fully and show up as my best self.

And my head likes to get very involved in every process.

Now I’m not arguing against thinking things through. I’m not recommending that I don’t use my beautiful, powerful brain to figure things out. I’m not suggesting that there is no value in the incredible value that my mind brings to situations and challenges and opportunities.

But I know my ability to get lost in my thinking. I know my potential to overthink and, especially, over-worry. I have an amazing knack for getting lost in fear or over-analysis.

So I’m practicing letting my head go, just as I practiced during humble warrior.

I’m watching my thoughts and questioning if I need to follow the trail they’re carving in my brain. I’m observing the stories I make up in my mind and challenging myself to breathe, look again, and allow for a different – maybe even more pleasant – story. I’m noticing and noticing and noticing again.

I’m still invested in my meditation practice. I hope I always will be. I’ve witnessed how I can reach more stillness more often, and I love it. I’ve felt myself calm my heart, soul, and mind when the “stinking thinking” gets racing. And I love it.

I’ve let my head go. Again and again and again.

I’m going to let my head go some more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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I’m not really a writer

I ran in college. As exercise. Well, really as anorexic over-exercise. I never liked it. I hated it in fact.

Over the years I would try running now and again and realize I still hated it. Really hated it. I swore I would never run.

Then my older child started running, and I started running so that we could run together. Then I kept running. I now run at least a couple times a week, and I have two friends I run with most of those times. They’re both way stronger runners than I am. In fact, I refer to them as runners, and me, well I only admit that I run. I’m not a runner; I run with my friends who are runners. No surprise, they correct me. They tell me I am a runner.

Last Wednesday was my (first of many I hope) author event. It was a wonderful event put on by Daralyse Lyons, the transformational storyteller, who has written twenty (yes twenty) books. The event also featured two really cool authors, Helen W. Mallon and Heidi Doheny Jay. You MUST check out their work! Heidi interviewed over 400 men and shares their perspectives on sex and relationships. Helen writes fiction that reflects true life – to talk about the things that we can’t talk about, and you can download her short stories, free of charge, on any device through True Courage Books. These authors are all fascinating and inspiring to listen to…and read.

The first question from Daralyse, “Why are you a writer?” I believe I answered third. My answer? “I don’t see myself as a writer; I just wrote a book.” (Well technically two books. I’ve published a book for work – The Power of Thoughtful Leadership – that is a compilation of posts from my Thoughtful Leaders blog. And most of those I write.)

So I run but I’m not a runner, and I’ve written two books and I’m not a writer. Funny huh? At least I’m honest about the weirdness in my brain.

The other funny thing about my writing and my memoir? I’m the first to tell you that I don’t have many memories from my childhood. I often ask my brother, “What happened then?”

All that aside, my (hopefully first of many) author event was Wednesday, and it was tons of fun. I used my spectacular line, “the best seats I ever had at Madison Square Garden were at my mother’s wedding, and the best cocaine I ever had was from my father’s friend the judge.” I told the great story about getting lost in Greenwich Village when I was about eight and I refused to cross against the light at 8th Street and 6th Avenue. (Ask my brother how old I was. He’ll remember.) And about how when I finally found Broome Street Bar where my dad, Danny, was bartending, there was a strange bald-headed man behind the bar instead of Danny. (It was Danny. He shaved his head one night while drunk.) And about how a few months later he showed up at my school play with a bald head, a top hat, a tooth-gap in his mouth because he’d lost a tooth in a bar fight, and a tooth earring hanging from his ear because he’d made the tooth into an earring.

At the end of the night someone said to me, “I can’t wait to read your book. It sounds hilarious.” I’d never thought of it that way.

I also (huge smile) had numerous other people tell me they couldn’t wait to read To the Moon and Back and two people who bought The Power of Thoughtful Leadership and asked me to autograph it for them.

It was a really, really fun night. And maybe I am a writer. I’m soon to be a (twice) published author.

PS – Dara is hosting another Storytelling and the Stage event on May 3. It should be at least as amazing!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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