Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson

Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson

remodelistaRemodelista is another de-cluttering book. This one encourages readers to utilize storage containers made out of natural materials, to hang items in unexpected places and to make your space functional and beautiful.

Maybe I’ve reached my limit on these types of books. For example, I loved The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but that was one of the first books of this kind that I read.

I know not everyone responds well to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of considering the spirit of your stuff, but that clicked with me, for whatever reason. Must be a hippie thing.

I thought this one was a bit ridiculous. It just wouldn’t work for me in my real life with my crazy pets, busy family and serious amounts of stuff.

My main problem with this one is illustrated quite clearly on the cover. We’ve got two brooms, a towel, an umbrella, some string and a large bucket hung right over a cat drinking from a water bowl.

I can think of a hundred reasons why that wouldn’t work for me, but let’s start with three:

First of all, the kitties would think I was trying to kill them- hanging menacing items over the watering hole. And, let’s be honest, with my poor hanging-things-up skill, it just might.

Second, putting string high up but visible is inviting a kitty disaster. They would hunt the heck out of that string, probably using the umbrella as a climbing wall to get to it, destroying my artfully arranged buckets and mops in the process.

Third, where would I put the rest of my family’s entryway stuff? We’ve got a lot more than that in just umbrellas, not even counting the brooms, swiffer mops, you-name-it.

The result: easy-to-maintain spaces that are both orderly and artful, personal and purposeful. Because, ultimately, the goal isn’t a flawless, impossible-to-maintain showcase. The aim is an unencumbered life in a house that makes you happy.” pg 9.

All of the rooms and cabinets in this book had like three things in them. It’s just not realistic.

That being said, I did like the “Daily Rituals” on pg 18. The authors included “seven simple habits” to adopt every day to make your life easier. They include activities like making your bed and opening the mail.

I can handle that.

I also liked the ‘Herb and Spice Drawer’ suggestion on page 70. My spices are a jumble of bottles and sizes and it’s nearly impossible to find anything quickly.

The authors suggest storing herbs and spices in: “Uniform glass jars- we like small paint jars from the art supply store.”Then, label the tops. It’s a simple solution but one that never occurred to me.

Only recommended for people who have calm cats and very few items. Other than the suggestions mentioned, I can’t see myself using very many of the tips from Remodelista.

Thanks for reading!

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How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn

How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn

howtobehappyHow to Be Happy, Dammit is a succinct, brightly colored treatise on enlightenment. Coming in around 230 pages with only a few words per page, this is a book that can be read over the course of a lunch hour or *ahem* during other short breaks in your life on a porcelain throne.

It doesn’t use an abundance of coarse language (see title), but it does utilize a few words to get the point across.

The book is broken down into short life lessons that feed into the next. “Life Lesson 1: Pain exists. Life can hurt. Like a lot. Even when you’re good, you can get whacked. Without apology. Without explanation.” pgs 14-15.

That’s the life lesson about being born. Can’t really argue with that.

My child was born wailing before she was even entirely out. I was wailing too, for different reasons of course, but life can hurt. No doubt.

I found meaning in “Life Lesson 6: Never go shopping for kiwis in a shoe store. Some people just don’t have what you need. So why waste time, banging on their doors, ringing their bells, demanding service?” pgs 38-39. I think I’m still learning that one.

“Life Lesson 19: This is a world of duality: of good and bad, yin and yang, decaffeinated and caffeinated. So you must always be prepared!” pg 112. Decaffeinated? Poor souls…

In the chapter on self-programming, we get this wisdom: Life Lesson 27: The world is your mirror.” pg 174.

I don’t think folks realize that either.

Recommended for people who are interested in spirituality, but don’t necessarily have a lot of time or patience for more touchy-feely books. How to Be Happy, Dammit delivers on its title. Now let’s all go be happy. Dammit. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story by Steve Kamb

Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story by Steve Kamb

levelupSteve Kamb, the creator of nerdfitness.com, offers behavioral games and community support to assist readers in becoming their best self. It’s the self help genre meets gamification.

Steve was addicted to video games, miserable at his job and disappointed with life. “I still love those games and movies and enjoy the entertainment they provide. They’re a part of who I am as a person. The problem was that they had become a way to avoid the unhappiness in my real life while also allowing me to continue doing nothing about it.” pg xi

The game that had him hopelessly hooked was EverQuest. “What had begun as a fun way to blow off some steam after school or work quickly became an addiction.” pg 5.

So, Steve took what he loved best about the game- the levels, the endless quests, the secrets- and created an online community in which the members support each other to become the best whatever-it-is you want to be through just those things.

Essentially, Steve takes the hero’s journey, as described by Joseph Campbell, and crafts a way to implement that into your life through your own preferences. “Life is meant to be lived on your own terms.” pg 23

I picked this up because I recently read a behavioral game book and I wanted to see what the theory would look like in action. Steve has done a solid job making his game completely customizable.

He provides examples between the chapters of people who have used his game to “level up” their lives. The results are impressive.

“The truth is that most people fear change. They, themselves, might want to change but don’t want to put forth the effort and energy to make it happen.”pg 57.

With Level Up Your Life, Steve gives readers the tools to make their lives into a game of their choosing. Recommended for gamers and the young at heart.

Thanks for reading!

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works 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  by Dan Harris

10 happierDan Harris had problems, like all of us, but unlike all of us, he was beginning to experience some of the messier symptoms of his dysfunctional inner world in front of millions of people.

He sought help and jumped into the meditation world with both feet. I think its why most people find their way into spiritual practices- something isn’t working quite right in their life and they need to change from the inside out. So, they look for a process of inner change and run smack into meditation.

However, Dan isn’t drinking the kool-aid of the new age movement. He questions every practice for its practical benefits and searches for scientific experimentation to back up those benefits.

In essence, he brings the investigative skills that he applies to his job as a news anchor to the practice of meditation and it’s a delight to read.

I loved this. Dan had the same initial reaction to Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra that I did. One of them seems too mellow to be real and the other seems to market himself too well to be that spiritual.

Over time, I’ve come to love both of those authors/gurus for their wisdom, but they are both just out of this world. Harris isn’t afraid to point that out.

In conclusion, I’d recommend 10% Happier to anyone who wants to become 10% happier- isn’t that all of us?

Also, anyone who has read Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra may also enjoy this, if only for the surprisingly accurate descriptions of their foibles. Anyone who wants to try meditation but feels like they don’t have time, couldn’t do it if they tried, or doesn’t know where to start may find some inspiration from this book.

And, finally, anyone who is fed up with the hippie-dippie-trippie feeling that most spiritual memoirs give them, will find a kindred soul in Dan Harris.

Thanks for reading!

Art Of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander

Art Of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander

art of possibilityThe Art of Possibility takes a psychologist and a musician and smooshes their ideologies together to create a self help program.

“Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.” pg 1.

The various practices that are discussed in The Art of Possibility seek to create those new frames.

One of my favorite chapters was: Being a Contribution. In it, the authors suggest playing life like a game. “The purpose of describing, say, your professional life or your family traditions as a game is twofold. You instantly shift the context from one of survival to one of opportunity for growth. You also have the choice of imagining other games you might prefer to play in these realms.” pg 59.

As a gamer, that’s an idea that I can easily assimilate into my life. 🙂

I also enjoyed: The Way Things Are“Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are … It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense.” pg 100.

A little bit of Buddhist philosophy can go a long way.

One of my complaints about this book is that I don’t think that it fit together as seamlessly as they were hoping it would.

Also, I feel like non-musicians may not get as much out of this book as I did. It is rather heavy on the music stories and metaphors.

But, like many self-help books, it is packed with actionable suggestions and feel-good stories. Recommended for those looking to inject a little more possibility into their lives.

Thanks for reading!

The Power of Personality: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Combine to Amazing Effect by Sylvia Loehken

The Power of Personality: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Combine to Amazing Effect by Sylvia Loehken

powerpersonalityThe Power of Personality is more than just another book that picks apart the obvious differences between introverts, centroverts, and extroverts. It delves very deeply into the strengths and possible hurdles that each face in business, social situations, and with each other.

Loehken presents management techniques for the different personality types and how one might leverage innate characteristics for the most positive outcome possible in a variety of ways. I found the book to be very helpful in explaining my own reactions to most perceived conflicts.

I hope to utilize what I’ve learned in the future to harness my strengths while minimizing the others. Some of my more damaging introverted tendencies are that I’m conflict/contact adverse and easily overstimulated in every day life.

I thought when Loehken discusses how the different personality types view each other that her descriptions were spot on. I think I do tend to categorize most extroverts as loud, unthinking buffoons. My mistake.

I suppose that extroverts view me as “boring, lame duck, sensitive flower, unsociable, professional worrier, reader, timid”pg 51. I never considered why.

Perhaps now with a more educated mindset, I can embrace personality differences and work more smoothly with extroverts. Rather than, in my previous experience, pushing them away so that I can have some peace and quiet.

The other portion of the book that I enjoyed is Chapter 8: Stressful Encounters: Status Games pg 161. It reminded me of a book on body language, I Can Read You Like a Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People Are Really Sending with Their Body Language. But, instead of just focusing on body language, Loehken goes into all manner of status symbols, interactions, and conversational cues.

She dissects how, particularly introverts, do themselves a disservice in their professional and personal lives because of how they perceive and react to conflict. It blew my mind.

It may be because this is a European book (the price on the back is listed in pounds) but I have never read anything like this in an American business book. Loehken talks about the unwritten rules of polite society and how, in sometimes subconscious ways, we shape our relationships and our status to the people around us.

One of her tips for dominating or owning space that I’m going to integrate into my life (right now!) is to sit fully on an office chair instead of perching on the edge. “If you take the whole seating area of a chair, this has a higher status effect than someone who only takes up half the seat or sits on the edge.”pg 175. Lesson learned.

The weak part of this book was any of the bits that dealt with centrovists. Basically, Loehken kept saying (paraphrasing in my own words) ‘If you’re a centrovist, you enjoy the benefits from both types of personalities and will therefore be more successful in whatever it is that we’re talking about in this section.’

It got kind of annoying after awhile because Loehken tells us that everyone exists on a scale of personality (we’re rarely entirely one type or another from situation to situation) so the centrovist advice could have been most applicable for every reader. Unfortunately, it felt more like a ‘Captain Obvious’ moment every time it came up rather than a revelation.

If you enjoyed The Power of Personality, I’d suggest reading I Can Read You Like a Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People Are Really Sending with Their Body Language. It deals with body language rather than the driving personality behind the body, but it is still illuminating. It helps readers monitor the involuntary signals that we send out in our day to day interactions, how to leverage your movements and to send the message that you want to send, rather than broadcasting your internal mindset unintentionally.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check! Thanks for reading!

Time in a Bottle: Mastering the Experience of Life by Howard Falco

Time in a Bottle: Mastering the Experience of Life by Howard Falco

timeinabottleTime in a Bottle is a self help book about changing your perceptions to improve your life. Though not a new message, some readers may find this book worth the time.

Howard Falco presents this knowledge with a spiritual slant. Readers who are turned off by that kind of thing may want to choose another book.

The main premise: “Our misunderstanding of time- how our thoughts relate to time, how time is actually created, and how time seems limited- is one of the biggest reasons we suffer and at times feel hopeless or powerless in our lives.” pg 1, introduction.

One of the ways to “master the experience of life” is to realize that you are infinite potential like the universe itself: “You are a part of infinity. To the degree that you feel that life is finite and limited, you will act out of this fear, and work to create an experience that is a result of this fear.” pg 33.

I agree that mindset is important to determining your life’s path. Love and fear seem to be the two driving forces of our world. Wonder why that is…

Falco also discusses giving up resistance to how life is: “It is critical that you know that the ending of your resistance toward any particular thing (sickness, layoffs, war, family, financial trouble, death, political chaos, natural disasters, etc.) is not in anyway condoning these terrible things or giving up on change. It is simply the full acknowledgment that for the moment this is what is happening.” pg 40

He talks about giving up regrets about the past that could potentially be holding you back: “This is not about accepting that something had to happen to you; it is about acknowledging that it did happen and standing in front of the universe saying, “I trust that there is perfection and a specific, divine purpose for my past and the exact way it unfolded. Because of this, I am realizing more of my unlimited potential for the future.” So then, unburdened, you step into your future with faith.

Falco incorporates quotes from famous philosophers and scientists along with anecdotal stories to illustrate his points. As I said, no new wisdom here, but plenty of good reminders to trust, forgive and move forward to a life outside of time.