Posted in Books That Changed My Life, inspiring activities, Lists

13 Things You Should Get Rid of in 2012

I have started thinking about New Year’s Resolutions lately. Not that I am going to make any, but I am thinking about things that I would like to do, or see happen in the coming 12 months. Mostly I think of adding things to my life when I think of changing it, but sometimes it’s more interesting to think about getting rid of things.

I think I have managed to get rid of most of the following 13 things from my life for the most part, but it’s always good to be reminded of what does not serve. I really think that that these things Have. Got. To. Go.

1. The extra 13 pounds you gained during the holidays (and before). Fewer cookies, more cardio.

2. Grouchy people.  Get rid of them. If you are married to them or they are your children or your relatives you are going to have a hard time with this one.  One thing I do with grouchy, negative people is laugh at them.  Yeah.  A grump pretty much hates not being taken seriously and will avoid you or move out of your vicinity if you make light of their situation.

3.  Get rid of dirt, grime, filth.  Clean your space. Throw stuff out. Get a dumpster if that’s what it will take. Do this. It’s important to your mental health.

4. Get rid of your fear of hard work, fear of success, fear of failure, and of all the other scary (non-existent) monsters under the bed. Stop procrastinating.

5. Get rid of the idea that you are going to live forever, or that you are probably going to die at a very old age and that you still have a lot of time left to get your act together.  You don’t.  The days are long, but the years are short.  Make things happen.  Now.  Don’t defer doing what you always wanted to do.

6. Get rid of the idea that only big things count.  Everything counts, and just like Mother Teresa said, we can’t do great things, only small things with great love.  Get rid of the idea that there are “small things that don’t count.”  The smallest little act of kindness or consideration counts.

7. Get rid of the need to be thanked or appreciated for anything.  People don’t write thank-you notes any more.  (When was the last time you wrote one?) So don’t work for the nod. Do your job, or whatever you do, because you want to do it and derive pleasure from just doing it.  Nobody is going to give you a trophy just because you played, or tried your best.  Life isn’t Little League.  Stop expecting praise.

8. Get rid of laziness.  Start by never admitting that you feel lazy even when you do.  Never say the word lazy.  Banish it from your vocabulary.  Don’t call anyone else lazy either.  Lazy does not exist anymore.  Get rid of the whole idea of it.

9. Get rid of bored, too.  Once you’re past age 3, there is no excuse for bored. Once you realize that you are going to die some day, there is no more “bored.” Never be bored.  Bored is just a form of lazy and we kicked that one to the curb in number 8.

10. Get rid of all your slovenly health habits.  Really people, floss.  I’m serious about this. Brushing your teeth doesn’t count.  Brushing your teeth doesn’t do a damn thing except make your mouth feel pretty.  There’s still garbage dumps worth of crap between each tooth.  Floss.

11. Get rid of other bad habits, too. Like eating on the run, or in front of the TV or computer.  Eat as much as you want, just don’t do anything else while you’re doing it and then just watch as those 13 pounds we talked about in number 1 disappear.

12. Get rid of anger.  Stop getting angry. It doesn’t help you or the person you’re angry with.  Ever.  Instead, develop your non-violent communication skills. There is a book that will help with this.  Get it, and start learning how to think in terms of identifying your needs and trying to get them met with the help of others.  And if you can’t?  Give up on them.  Seriously.  Take my word for this.

13. Get rid of complaining.  Complaining makes you a living breathing crap magnet.  Don’t complain anymore and walk away (actually, run) from chronic complainers.  If they don’t have an audience they’ll stop.  They really will. You can even try making a game of this. This book tells you how.

And finally (this one is just for me), Get rid of your need to hand out unsolicited advice or  tell people what they should get rid of on your blog.

It’s annoying.

Posted in Books That Changed My Life

Foisting Books on People

I really don’t want to be a foister, but I am.  I am reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin at the moment and all I want to do is buy 20 copies and give them to people, press it into their hands with that annoying, desperate pleading in my eyes and say, “Pleeeeze!  You simply MUST read this!!”

And I’m not even finished it yet; I’m only on page 120.  This is such an important book (I believe), it’s about becoming indispensable.  Like all his books, it’s brilliant, super easy to read, and so very RIGHT!

Here are a few of my underlinings:

“The job is not your work; what you do with your heart and soul is the work.” (p.97)

“When you have a boss, your job is to please the boss, not to change her. It’s okay to have someone you work for, someone who watches over you, someone who pays you. But the moment you treat that person like a boss, like someone in charge of your movements and your output,  you are a cog, not an artist.”

And here is what linchpins (aka indispensable people) do:

“They produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money. They do more than they’re paid to, on their own, because they value quality for its own sake, and they want to do good work. They need to do good work.  Anything less feels intellectually dishonest, and like a waste of time.” (p. 36)

The whole book is about doing emotional labor, work from the heart, work that goes beyond what’s required.

It’s a great book and you should read it!  Now! Today!  Go on Amazon and order it! If you can’t afford it, I’ll buy it for you, just let me know.

And here I am being a “foister” and I really hate foisters.  When someone tells me that I have to read something, I feel this icky pressure, particularly if I know, love and respect the person.

It’s just that we might not have the same interests, the same taste in books.  The person foisting also might not understand  that I have a STACK *this high* of books already queued up, waiting for some time to open up to get to, and their recommendation is just adding to the pressure of that stack.

But all that being said, if you want to be indispensable? If you want to live in a world where people are going the extra mile in their lives and in their work? If you’ve ever experienced first-hand a person who makes a business simply because they give so much more than they  have to, who are emotionally invested in their jobs and in their life? If you want the recipe for this?  Linchpin by Seth Godin

(Sorry for the foist.)

Posted in Books That Changed My Life

Books That Changed My Life #2

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down The Bones completely ruined my handwriting.

We’re talking about years of Palmer Method here, countless copybooks splotched up with ovals and push-pulls.  And today?  Can’t even sign my own goddam name on my credit card receipts with any sort of legibility.

I totally blame Natalie Goldberg.

In Writing Down The Bones, a book that I credit for making me a writer—good, bad or mediocre, she said that you just take your pen and …GO.

No concern with grammar, punctuation, spelling, or Palmer Method.  The only important thing?  Keep up with your thoughts.  Thoughts fly, the pen is s-l-o-w, so you need to scribble like a fiend.  Not holds barred.  Write everything.  Write crazy, bawdy, self-pitying, self-congratulatory. Write funny, satirical, ironical.  Write irreverent. Write crap.  But write.  Write it all down as fast as you can think it.  Don’t miss a thought, and for that, speed is required.  And speed entails slovenly when it comes to handwriting.  “Chicken scratch” would be a compliment.

So after years of Writing Down The Bones, my perfect Catholic School Palmer Method Oval and Push Pull handwriting is totally and irrevocably gone.

Along with the right answers to catechism questions, saddle shoes, and my goody-goody I’m-Not-Supposed-To-Even-Think-That-Way mindset.

Now, I don’t even give a shit.  I just go.

Natalie Goldberg ruined my handwriting, and set me free, and made me a writer.

Thanks, Nat.


Posted in Books That Changed My Life

Books That Changed My Life #1

I listened to the This American Life podcast the other day and the theme was “Books That Changed My Life.”

(Ira Glass, the host, thought it was a rather unusual idea that a book could change a person’s life. Whatever, Ira.)

Not me.  Oh no. There have been many books that have completely changed the trajectory of my life.

The first one I thought of (but maybe not the first one that changed my life) was Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan.

I think it was 1976.  I was a senior in college.  I don’t even remember where I bought this book.  The college bookstore?  Walden Books at the Mall?  Who knows.

All I remember was taking it out every afternoon, spreading an old beach towel on the green shag carpet of the house I was living in, and doing it.  28 days in a row without a miss.

The blonde model on the cover wore a leotard and tights (with feet).  The illustrations were in black and white.  Each day there were a few exercises (yeah, he called them “exercises” not “asanas”), followed by a little one page “Thought for the Day.”  And then there were these words:

Do not do any additional Yoga exercising today.

Really?? This was revolutionary.  That a book about something good for you would not advocate doing it as much as possible and as hard as you could for as long as you could, was a totally novel concept to me.  And kinda crazy.  And intriguing.

Why wasn’t I allowed to do any more today?  Would something bad happen if I did more of these yoga exercises in one day?  I wasn’t going to take any chances.  I obeyed.  And everyday I came back for more.

I think it was that mandatory stop that kept me curious, interested, and hungry.  (I once heard about a Guinness World Record holder who ate an entire Volkswagon.  He did it by swallowing one little piece a day.)

That Hittleman book hooked me on yoga.  It also revealed to me an essential piece of my basic nature: as long as I can do something a little bit every day, and not have to swallow a whole big thing in one gulp, I could learn yoga, or eat a Volkswagon.