Podcasts Worth a Listen

There are thousands of podcasts out there – it can be overwhelming to dive in and start listening. No matter your interest, there’s a podcast that covers it. I deeply enjoy reading about creativity and happiness, so these podcasts intrigue and delight me. Many people listen while they’re doing other things – driving, walking the dog, cleaning the house – but with these podcasts, I find I need to listen with a pen and paper nearby so I can take notes; they’re that good. Another bonus:  these all hit the time-limit sweet spot for me, anywhere from 40 minutes to just over an hour. Any shorter and I wonder “What’s the point?” Any longer and I think “Who has time for that?!”  Continue reading

My (Pretty Much) Whole30

Have you heard of the Whole30? Maybe you kind of know what it is? Well, I did one. Here’s how it went down. Brace yourself, this is kind of a long one. Thank goodness for amateur food photography.
Wait, what exactly is the Whole30? In a nutshell, it’s 30 days of no-excuses super clean eating. You focus on whole, unprocessed foods of the highest quality you can afford, and eliminate all foods that have been found to cause any kind of inflammation, cravings, or irritation in your body. The idea is to do some internal healing – gut, hormones, and blood sugar levels, etc., and also get a firm handle on any emotional issues involved with food. So what does that mean, exactly? As I heard someone say the other day: If you can grow it, farm it, or fish it, you can eat it. Which is pretty close.  Continue reading

Taking Stock

Any kind of life change affords one the opportunity to do some reflecting, a little looking forward, and the chance to contemplate what’s next. And what’s here now. It may seem silly, but how often do we pause to look around right where we are?

Earlier this year, I shifted my focus to more cerebral pursuits – I wanted to make creativity a priority again, to get in a better mindset overall. At the gym, I had had my foot on the gas for too long, so to speak. And so I did. I eased up a little. I still trained – but only three or four times a week instead of four or five. I stopped going heavier, instead making sure my workouts were consistent and made me feel good, not whipped. And when I got home, I read books on creativity and did some writing. Nothing worth publishing, nothing for public eyes. And while it didn’t seem like I was accomplishing anything at the time, it allowed me to grease the wheels and just start. Along the way I closed up the blog and excused myself from social media – just to quiet my mind for a little while. Enough with all the external information, it was time to just look around at the here and now – in my neighborhood, in my own world, in my head. Or, as I explained it to a friend:  just do me for a while. Continue reading

10% Happier by Dan Harris

10% Happier:  How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works – A True Story

Harris Cover ShotI stumbled upon this book while in the middle of a bathroom renovation (more on that next week). I needed an audiobook to help pass the time, and this was advertised on the home page of Audible. I had no idea at the time it was becoming such a sensation. I liked the idea of a first person narrative about someone else’s dabbling in self-help and self-improvement. In our house, we’re not shy about books on self-improvement. I listened to preview, and liked this Dan Harris character. I don’t watch evening news or morning shows, so I have to say I wasn’t familiar with him. (Which made listening to the book maybe more entertaining? I had no idea what the narrator looked like.)

To the nuts and bolts – this isn’t a self-help book, so you won’t really find that here. But what you will find is a candid, wry, humorous take on one man’s journey to find something to keep him afloat. It’s entertaining and insightful, not a combination you find very often.  Harris seems pretty normal, aside from his anxiety and depression being accelerated by wartime reporting for primetime television. His experiences could be those of anyone. Being in the journalism world, Harris had unique access to interview some quite notable figures, everyone from Christian evangelicals to Eckhart Tolle. But what struck me as endearing, is that even after his conversations with these up-and-coming, famous, or infamous people, he still just buys the books and does the homework, like the rest of us do it. And in 10% Happier, he didn’t let the notoriety of any of these folks cloud the way he distilled their message. It either worked or didn’t. I won’t get into specifics over the different avenues that Harris explores, those are part of the value of the story. But what he arrives at in the end makes very good sense.

I can’t recall if it’s in the book, or if it was in an interview I read, but something that made me appreciate Harris, and his book, even more was that he said he originally wanted the title to be “The Voice in My Head is an Asshole.”  And that’s something I can relate to.