On my bookshelf
I take New Year's resolutions quite seriously. Not the "I want to half myself" kind, but the I want to re-invent myself at my work, I want to feel more energetic to jump out of bed in the morning, and I want to eat more mindfully without any devices at the table. Concrete goals. The ones that are truly well thought through, and are meant to make you come out of the New Year better, feeling accomplished, and happier.
In 2013 I sat down, and analyzed my year. I found that I was either putting everything into my business at the time or into my boyfriend at the time (now turned husband). There was barely anytime for me to have a hobby, time to do something that I loved. I had achieved the incredible goal of “do what you love”: I had turned my hobbies of exercise, cooking, and teaching into a business. And I loved what I was doing it, but I was still burning out, barely sleeping, and just not feeling right. I needed something just for me, that wasn’t about growing my business more or working on my relationship. Something I could have fun with.
So I looked back and thought long and hard about what I used to enjoy as a child. It was reading. I absolutely loved snuggling close to my parents in bed, and learning to read these amazing stories of other people, seeing the world through their eyes. I used to read on the way to school, between dance rehearsals, and late at night. Every free moment was spent devouring every book I could get my hands on. And it suddenly hit me. I had not picked up a single book since I had moved to Shanghai in 2011. 3 years I had jumped from clients, to class, to meetings, to building a team, and it was all getting too much.
On December 31st 2013 I decided I would read one book a week in the next year. That meant 52 books. Go big or go home, right? I mean, if you are daring something new, it might as well be this totally outrageous goal. And so I got to it. I downloaded a bunch of books I was interested in on my Kindle, I read authors I loved in the past, and read a ton in the self development world. And by the end of 2014, I had accomplished that goal. 52 books later I found myself so excited about the smell of a new book, the promise of new things I could learn. It was by far quickly becoming my favorite time of the day. And since then, I have continued to read 52 books a year. Of course the themes changed as I went through pregnancy, birth, motherhood, giving up work, and moving across the globe. But the main theme is still there. I absolutely love my books!
I have decided to create this page and share one book a month with you that has truly made me think, made me learn something new, and sparked a new love for life in me. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have!
Pick of the month: September
“I don’t want or need a guru. My uncertainty and my anchor, my questions and answers, my search and my truth all lie within my soul. The same is true for every one of us. We may rely on others and turn to others for help, but ultimately our answers come from within.”
When Deepak Chopra’s daughter struggles with living a meaningful life with healthy eating habits, exercising, meditating, being present, taking care of herself - you know everything we “regular” people struggle with - then I feel somewhat better about all of my own screw ups and bad habits I can’t seem to kick. Mallika Chopra entwines her story of her personal upbringing with one of the New Age thought leaders of our generation with real tips we can all implement to live a life with more purpose, peace, and joy.
“I believe in the power of expressing intents, but I also know that without action they’re often empty words. Every once in a while an intent seems to manifest almost magically, like a gift from the universe. Most of the time, though, we need to pay attention and look for opportunities to bring our intents to life. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you need to take action.”
The fact that Mallika was given a mantra for meditating in her childhood, yet still has the same monkey mind about her kids’ school day when she meditates, it makes me want to be her best friend. It just shows us, it is a lifelong lesson and journey. We never become masters at anything, we constantly keep trying. Because it is all about the journey, and never the freaking goal. No book has ever put that more into perspective for me than this one.
Mallika has two kids, works, has a home life, a family life, and all of the other commitments we all have as adults. Yes, she also has an impressive list of friends she can just call up for advice like Eckhart Tolle and Marianne Williamson, but she seems so grounded and down to earth about all of it.
“What I need to do now is find my own retreat - the version that works for me - in my life at home. We all need to make moments for reflection, and create sacred spaces for awareness, to reconnect, to reenergize, and to recommit.”
There is a story where she goes on a retreat to exercise and eat healthy to get in shape. However, as soon as she returns home, old habits come back, and she finds it incredibly hard to stick to her goals of weight loss she had set for herself. This is something I as a wellness practitioner have always thought about. As much as I love working one-on-one with people or have them come to one of my classes or workshops, I always want to empower them to find a practice that they can do at home. It doesn’t matter how hard you can work in an exercise class once a week, if for the other six days you just sit in front of the TV. Embracing that life is messy, and not always perfect to exercise or eat or meditate or do whatever we need and want to do for self care, that’s when we truly win. Because when we can whip up a healthy dinner in 15 minutes every single night, even though it’s not photography worthy, that’s when we can truly see changes in our life and health.
“We nurture everyone else at the expense of taking care of ourselves. And while we benefit from giving to others - tending our flock is so deeply satisfying, it must surely be woven into our DNA - we won’t feel fully whole until we allow ourselves the same privilege. We must open ourselves to love, accept help, seek support, and trust that there are forces beyond our control that can provide guidance, comfort, grounding, and safe passage.”
This quote is why I have decided to pick this book as book of the month. As you may know, I am obsessed with helping mothers live a better life by taking care of themselves. And this book is truly an ode to mothers. A way to kick back and prioritize how you want to take care of yourself. There are many tips to choose from in this book, from cutting yourself some slack on how you eat or exercise, to meditating, doing a mind map of what makes you happy in life, having a gratitude practice, tuning into your body and trusting it’s messages, and so much more.
“In our extroverted, selfie-crazed culture, there’s constant pressure to stand out, to be different, to make a mark, to be seen. But it’s OK for all of us to be ordinary and accept what our lives bring us in the moment."
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