Eight Books Every Woman Must Read

Stories of Truth, Beauty and Courage

I admit it: I’m a compulsive bookworm with eclectic tastes. I’m currently listening to a book about a wacky physics theory and I’m reading a novel set in the 1940s about a family of mixed raced singers. Between these two, I peek into the pages of a memoir written by a life coach as well as an experimental book of poetry/prose. So of course my mind whirred when asked to write a blog post about the books I thought every woman should read. I know I’ve missed many great books. In fact, though I love fiction the most, I’ve concentrated on nonfiction here. When I consider what every woman should read, I think of truth, beauty and courage. Great nonfiction mainlines these themes, at least the nonfiction I’ve selected does. You may not love all of these books as much as I do, but I promise you that each has an important message. No waste of time or money here…
 
Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
By Pema Chodron
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to love Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s wisdom. I recommend all her books (I especially enjoy listening to the audio versions), but in this book she offers methods for embracing chaos, confusion and uncertainty. Chodron’s point is that we can use challenges as a path to greater awakening.
 
Raising Elijah: Protecting our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis
By Sandra Steingraber
Sandra Steingraber, a brilliant scientist and mother of two young children, links the private world of parenting to the public world of environmental policy-making. She expertly shows how the ongoing environmental crisis is a crisis of family life. I read this several years ago and it forever changed my perspective. A must-read for all the mamas out there!
 
Dying to be Me: My Journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing
By Anita Moorjani
Author Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down. At one point she says she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth and what she says was the cause of her disease. Unlike most people in Moorjani’s state, she (obviously) survived. This is her account of cancer, healing, fear, “being love,” and the magnificence of each and every human. Definitely a book for the open minded, but it’s not just for women. I persuaded my husband to read this one – and he also loved it.
 
Rising Strong
By Brene Brown
Brené Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston who spent the past 13+ years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. She says Rising Strong is for the brave and brokenhearted. I think of it as a manifesto for how to stand up after a fall and be better for it.
 
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail
By Cheryl Strayed
In the wake of her mother’s death and her own divorce, 26-year-old hiking neophyte Cheryl Strayed hit the Pacific Coast Trail alone and hoofed more than a thousand miles from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. It’s not the destination, but the journey – as Strayed’s warm and funny storytelling proves. Skip the movie, read this book!

Find A Way
By Diana Nyad
In 2013, 64-year-old Diana Nyad finally accomplished the epic feat she’d failed to do at the age of 30. She swam 111 miles from Cuba to Florida in an amazing show of endurance and human will in fifty-three hours. This beautifully written memoir reminds us to never, ever give up and that we’re never too old to chase dreams.
 
The Beauty Experiment
By Phoebe Baker Hyde
Writer Phoebe Baker Hyde gave up makeup, haircuts and jewelry for a whole year in hopes of revealing something she’d paid lip service to but never quite believed in—her inner beauty. This book chronicles an admirable quest for self-acceptance. It’s a must-read especially if you broker in beauty or if you’d never go out of the house without eyeliner. Just because you read it doesn’t mean you’ll ditch beauty, but her story will open your eyes.
  
Finding Your Way in a Wild, New World: reclaim your true nature to create the life you want
By Martha Beck
Martha Beck is often called the most famous life coach in the world. Here she talks about what you should be doing with your “one wild and precious life.” Sound interesting? Then you must be what Beck calls a “wayfinder.” This book is the wayfinder’s guide to life. Go ahead, be guided.
 

Empowered Entrepreneurship

5 signs you’re ready to start your own business

Whether it was after a grueling week at the office, on the heels of a maternity leave you weren’t quite ready to finish or part of an ever-present yearning for the freedom of making your own schedule, most of us have wanted to be our own bosses at some point. However, as appealing as the flexibility, increased earning potential and idea of not having to answer to anyone other than yourself are, working for yourself comes with its own set of complications. Are you ready to make the leap into entrepreneurship?
 
Here are five signs you might be:
 
You’re passionate
Whatever it is you’re planning to do, you’re super psyched about it. This is important because the only way you’ll have the energy to springboard yourself through the inevitable rejections that will come on your path to success, is if you have total confidence in your game plan. On that note…
 
You have a clear and concise game plan
Building any kind of business requires putting one foot in front of the other in a planned direction. Sure, there are bound to be unexpected curves in the road and you may need to readjust. However, no business thrown together on the fly yields its optimal results for the long haul. And the long haul is what you’re in for, which brings us to, our next clue:
 
You know how to manage time and expectations
It’s not just that you need to have time in order to succeed as your own boss, it’s that you must know how to use your time wisely. A day will undoubtedly come when your flexibility gets misinterpreted to mean your work schedule is secondary. Unless you know how to set boundaries and reschedule around changes, you’ll wind up falling behind, which will cost you time, money or most likely, both.
 
You’re not afraid of risk, success or failure
Starting off as an entrepreneur is never easy; it requires a realistic, but optimistic attitude and general lack of fear. If you’re afraid of failure, you won’t take adequate risk. If you’re afraid of risk, you’ll fall short of your potential – or maybe not take off at all. And if you fear success (believe it or not, lots of us do!), you’ll find ways to talk yourself out of doing what it takes to get there. Instead, you have to be operating from a stable place where you’re well informed, take a few calculated risks and are willing to let the cards fall where they may. Which likely means…
 
You’re at least financially solvent
You don’t have to be rich to start your own business. But if you’re looking for a quick return – or worse, need it in order to stay afloat – you may want to bide your time. While necessity is the mother of invention, survival mode isn’t a sound foundation from which to build a business. Don’t cash in your 401-K or quit your day job until you know you can sustain yourself without them.

 

One Resolution You Can Keep…

Breathe Better!

Parties, gifts, food, friends, relatives…sounds like a blast, right? Sometimes, however, the holidays are a bit too much of a good thing. That’s why so many of us experience an early-January crash. The gifts have long been purchased, given, taken back. Goodies eaten and regretted. New Year resolutions made and broken. When the crash comes, though, we have something new for you to consider: How about making a very simple post-holiday de-stressing commitment to yourself?
 
We’re not talking about a costly trip to a spa or calling in a masseur (though, yes, that does sound nice).  We’re talking about implementing a simple breathing technique that will give you maximum de-stressing at almost no cost.
 
Guy Gabriel, a yoga instructor based in Burbank, CA, says one of the simplest de-stressing techniques can be done by carving out just a few seconds. Several times a day, simply close your eyes and concentrate for a few moments on breathing in and out of your nose.
 
“When you concentrate on your breath, you intentionally tell your body to change from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system,” says Gabriel. Think about it this way: the parasympathetic system is the body’s relaxed, I-got-this mode. The sympathetic system kicks in when you’re frazzled, overwhelmed and stressed. While it’s worthwhile to be in sympathetic mode for short periods of time such as life-threatening emergencies, in general humans function better and are happier if they stay in the parasympathetic zone. Sadly, too many of us operate in the frazzled, sympathetic system mode most of the time.
 
If you like the feeling of your parasympathetic system kicking in, though, you can even take the practice up a notch by doing what Gabriel calls three-part breathing. Here’s how you do it: Lie down flat on your back, close your eyes and breathe into your belly, mid-chest, upper chest, hold your breath for a count and exhale through your nose. Repeat. Simple, right?
 
“If you do this practice a couple of times a day for 5 minutes even, it'll pay off in spades. You’ll get hooked on de-stressing and want to operate in this zone more and more,” says Gabriel. “Gradually, over time, you’ll train yourself to be able to connect to the parasympathetic system most of the time.” Sounds like a resolution worth keeping!
 

Weather the Winter Beautifully

5 Look Good, Feel Good Pick-Me-Ups

Style is more than the makeup and the clothes we wear.  It’s also about self-confidence, the way we carry ourselves, and the smile on our face.  And at times it has an awful lot to do with how well we’re dealing with the weather. For those long days when the winter’s been frightful, lift your style and spirits with this fresh batch of hot new ideas.
 
1. Add a shot of Rose Quartz and Serenity, Pantone Color Institute’s 2016 picks for Color of the Year to your cosmetic choices. Both the gentile rose and airy blue shades have already been previewed as eye liners and shadows on runways ‘round the world. Try a rosy toned lip color for a fresh modern attitude. And did we hear you ask… French manicure in Serenity and Rosy Quartz? Yes. Of course! It’s the perfect new combo.
 
2. Cold weather doesn’t have a monopoly on black or blue jeans. Wear your white denims this winter. The warmth and weight of the tops and accessories you pair with them is what makes them work this season. Shop your closet for sweaters in dark tones to wear with black booties or shoes for bold contrast.
 
3. When anything gets you down or stressed, take just two personal minutes to get into the power pose or the Wonder Woman stance that social psychologist Ann Cuddy has made an internet sensation. Stand tall, feet apart, wrists at your sides and chin up. Don’t you feel bigger, mightier, more assertive? Research studies agree that it creates a body/mind connection that’s powerful.
 
4. Try winding down with the latest craze in zen-like experiences by coloring in the intricate patterns and scenes that make up the pages of coloring books for grown-ups. Some call it art “therapy” because the simple fill-in-the-blanks exercise, using colored pencils or pens, is creative, relaxing and ultimately allows you to forget your worries on the pages.
 
5. Smile more. Science has proof that we feel better after we smile. Watch yourself smile in a mirror to experience the good change in mood even more deeply. We look better when we smile, so send out more smiling selfies. The fish face may be the selfie look of the moment, but research says a big beautiful smile will up your attractiveness rating any day!
 
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