Strong

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Over the last few months I’ve read some books by some strong female voices. In order of my favorites:

  • “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton
  • “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer
  • “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
  • “Bossypants” by Tina Fey
  • “Yes Please” by Amy Pohler

Now I’m not even going to pretend they were literary masterpieces. The 3 by comedians I selected just to crack myself up, and I did laugh a lot. But “Love Warrior” was game changing for me and “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” had a chapter on domestic violence that brought me to tears. The powerful strong feminine messages in these books boil down to:

  • You can do hard shit, absolutely anything you set your mind out to do, like hike 1,100 miles solo in the wilderness, or leave a relationship that isn’t serving you, or make haters eat their own words
  • Being a successful career woman, be prepared to ignore the naysayers which are most often catty non-career women (can we all just stop cutting each other down?)
  • You’ve got to live a life of introspection and continual reassessment- we’ve got to wrestle with understanding who we are and what we need to make peace with ourselves and be able to truly love anyone else

P.S. and if you loved Glennon’s book, check out this news which will make you love her even more

Excerpts from “The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life”

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I finished this easy read on the plane last weekend. A light read that captures exactly the reasons why I love running- the freedom, release, exploration, and peace. ┬áHere are my favorite parts of the book to share with you, which I’ve shared in some yoga classes the last few weeks :

  • “Why run? And that is: I run because I am an animal. I run because it is part of my genetic wiring. I run because millions of years of evolution have left me programmed to run. And, finally, I run because there’s no better way to see the sun rise and set. What the years have shown me is that running clarifies the thinking process as well as purifies the body. I think best- most broadly and most fully- when I am running.”
  • Doesn’t take skill. Blood rushes to the brain increasing creativity and “the brain spins out the most fantastical thoughts.”
  • “Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or other new beginnings. Starting lines are one of the most important stations in life. We need to do more than just avoid them. We need to actively seek them out. Otherwise, we grow stagnant. We will disappear into black holes. Remember that if you don’t go to the starting line, you will never view the whole course with all its possibilities.”
  • “Running removes us briefly from the fragmentation and depersonalizations of the digital world. It gets us away from everything else…alone at last, we resort to our oldest technologies- listening and talking. Running seems to break down barriers. When we run, we are already so exposed, often nearly naked in our shirts and t-shirts, huffing and puffing, purified by the effort. Briefly removed from the defenses and secrets we maintain in so much of our lives, we feel less need to hide our private thoughts, loves, fears, and stresses. We share. And our sharing begets more sharing in return. Let human connection provide you with the electricity you need to be happy.”
  • “Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.”
  • About ignoring time when running: “I let the 60 seconds fill me. It’s a much more energizing way to live.”
  • “Sometimes my main reason for running is to simply see where my brain will go while my body is meandering through the local trails or roadways. It can never be predicted, and it’s always a surprise.”
  • “I can’t imagine someone not listening to the world around them- the birds, the rainfall, their friends, the crunch of running shoes on new-fallen snow. Or simply their own thoughts. The ability to listen, in all its forms, seems to me one of our most-human gifts. We cannot learn without listening; we cannot empathize without listening; we cannot make big decisions without listening to both heart and mind. Whether a decision is purely personal or involves dozens or even hundreds of others, you alone are the person who has to make it, and you can only do it after listening to your own internal monologue.”
  • “Running, of course, teaches us to move on. There is always another day, another workout, another mile, another race. But more important, it teaches us to listen to ourselves and believe in ourselves.”
  • “Shoes can’t make you faster. Only dedication, consistency, passion, and hard training can make you faster…Success comes from within. It comes from consistent dedication to core principles and values…The answers lie within, not outside. The best solutions are achieved from personal resolve.”
  • “Any struggle is a thousand times easier when you have a partner.”
  • “And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.” -George Sheehan
  • “Our greatest glory is not never falling, but in rising every time we fall” -Confucius
  • “The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.” -George Sheehan
  • “In running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.” -Glenn Cunningham
  • “Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us find out what we are made of.” -Pattisue Plumer
  • “If people were possessed by reason, running marathons would not work. But we are not creatures of reason. We are creatures of passion.” -Noel Carroll
  • Running opens “veins of creative and reflective thought.”
  • “While running at first appears to depend on great physical strength and endurance, it is in fact, based almost entirely on strength of mind. Those who have the will will succeed.”
  • “It’s distance, not speed, that holds the answers.” -John Bingham
  • “Regeneration is hard work, like everything else. It doesn’t just happen. You have to believe it first. Then you must enact it.”

Excerpts from “Big Magic”

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I just finished this book this weekend, recommended to me by some amazing Denver yoginis & artists. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author most famous for the wild success of “Eat, Pray, Love” and this book is a pretty cool urge to go on a ride with creativity and to uncover the treasures within you that the Universe has placed there.

The direct quotes below are in quotation marks. The thoughts without quotation marks are me paraphrasing from her work. The first quote is what I shared in all of my yoga classes last week ­čÖé

  • “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? Those treasures hope you do. Surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. We are all walking repositories of buried treasures. The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can ever find them.”
  • “Express your inner most truth aloud.”
  • “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them”
  • It seems the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.
  • Story of her neighbor Eileen who gets tattoos on whims. “‘Oh, but you misunderstand. It’s not permanent. It’s just temporary.’ ‘You mean all your tattoos are temporary?’ ‘No, my tattoos are permanent. It’s just my body that’s temporary. So is yours. We’re only here on earth for a short while so I decided a long time ago that I want to decorate myself as playfully as I can while I still have time.’┬áLike Eileen I also want to live the most vividly decorated temporary life that I can. I don’t just mean physically, I mean emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors or new sounds or big love or risky decisions or strange experiences or weird endeavors or sudden changes or even failure. I am going to spend as much time as I can creating delightful things out of my existence because that’s what brings me awake and that’s what brings me alive.”
  • Love her commentary and caution on expensive college advanced degrees and private universities and coming out with debt in exchange for a fake make believe validation that you’re legit, when YOU decide if you’re legit or not.
  • “Music is nothing more than decoration for the imagination”
  • You kill your creativity by demanding that it provide your paycheck
  • Regarding having an affair with your creativity: “Let yourself fall in love with your creativity like that and see what happens. Stop treating your creativity like its a tired old unhappy marriage, a grind, a drag, and start regarding it with the fresh eyes of a passionate lover.” Also try to present yourself to your creativity as if you are sexy, someone worthy to spend time with.
  • The worst thing about perfectionism is it disguises itself as a virtue. Perfectionism is just fear in fancy heals and mink coat.
  • Too many women are afraid to put forth their work unless it is completely perfect. They hold back.┬áMen often have an amazing over confidence about themselves. They will tell themselves they are 41% qualified for a given task or job and apply for the job and often somehow grow into it in an amazing successful away. However when it comes to women they say. “I am 99.8% qualified for this task for this job so I must wait until I get that last smidge perfected.” Women often hold themselves back by thinking that they need to be perfect. This came about because of all of human history. But it’s up to us women to break this within ourselves. We must understand that perfectionism is an illusion. Everything will be open to criticism.
  • If I am not actively creating something, likely I am actively destroying something either myself or relationship. We need to be actively engaged in some kind of activity that lights us up so much that we forget to resent our enemies and we forget to brood on our insecurities. Prayer can do it for some of us, community service can do it, sex can do it, exercise can do it, substance abuse can do it with terrible consequences, but creative living can most certainly do it. Creativity has a way of sweeping you up and holding your attention for a sweet and magical spell, with the added benefit that you have souvenir something that you’ve created that is beautiful that reminds you of that magical time in your life.
  • Creativity comes to the tricksters not the martyrs
  • “Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing unexpected places and may even eventually lead you to your passion…. Or it may lead you nowhere. You may spend your whole life following your curiosity and have absolutely nothing to show for it at the end except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence and devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they’ve lived a rich and splendid life.”
  • Know the difference between your ego and your soul. Sometimes it’s just your ego that gets offended but never your soul.
  • I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, what is it that you want, dear one? The answer is always the same. More wonder please. As long as I am still moving in that direction toward wonder then I know that I will always be fine in my soul, which is where it counts.
  • Be the giant red lobster and walk into the ballroom (to understand this one you have to read the last story in her book, lol)

I love how Liz Gilbert beautifully wrote a guide to writers, artists, musicians, anyone about how we need to RELAX and not take things so seriously, to have an affair with our creativity, to nurture it, to take a road trip with it, to follow the trail of clues of curiosity.  Be lit up in life. Whatever that might look like for you. Love.