What I’m Reading Now

Essentialism diagram of chaos to order

I’m a big fan of meditation and yoga, and everything I’m learning about buddhism is bringing me more and more wisdom and inner peace. I’m also irreverent and sarcastic, and probably used to make fun of people who talked about ‘inner peace’. Life is messy 🙂 

So, while my reading lately has been spiritually enriching (Rebecca Solnit’s Field Guide to Getting Lost touched my soul in ways I didn’t know were possible – I’m still re-reading it often, then sitting in awe while I digest it), I thought I’d drift back into mainstream business productivity books for some straight-talking, practical inspiration.

Wow, did I find it with Greg McKeown’s Essentialism! . This guy has a fancy MBA and is writing for corporate business types and entrepreneurs and what he is saying is pure gold. 

He says, “I’ve coached “successful” people in the quiet pain of trying desperately to do everything, perfectly, now. I have seen people trapped by controlling managers and unaware that they do not “have to” do all the thankless busywork they are asked to do.” SAME. HERE. I’ve been both the person doing it and the coach to those still trapped. 

He gives reasons and ways to eliminate and say no to everything that isn’t essential. And in doing so, to produce better, more fulfilling work and enjoy a more fulfilling life. 

“I challenge you here and now to make a commitment to make room to enjoy the essential. Do you think for one second you will regret such a decision? Is it at all likely you will wake up one day and say, “I wish I had been less true to myself and done all the nonessential things others expected of me?””

Give this one a read, your life will be better for it, guaranteed.

(Nope, no affiliate links – I don’t get money for any of this, just sharing my enthusiasm!)

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Finish Chewing Before Filling Your Fork: A lesson in decluttering

food on forks

It was in an article about the Queen of England that I read about this habit. She takes a small amount of food into her mouth, puts down her fork and chews completely before loading her fork for another bite. As someone who approached every meal as if it were a speed-eating contest … I was interested in the idea of slowing down and dining more like royalty, less like a wild dog. I quickly (haha see what I did there?) followed the Queen’s example, and found I enjoyed my food much more when I savoured it one small mouthful at a time. (This post is not actually about eating habits, but as a side note: With the help of a charming little book called “How to Eat” by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, I further grew my eating habits to become almost meditative – highly recommend it.)

The lesson about eating had a big impact on the rest of my life too. I noticed that I was always gathering up new things before I’d finished chewing what I had. I bought books as though I were building a library. I gathered up scads of cheap yarn to go with the reams of crochet patterns I was always adding to a pinterest board. And surfing the internet. Well. There are always so many awesome ideas out there, I had to explore them all. It was my bookmarks list that put me over the edge, when I realized I had overwhelming indigestion from all the information I was trying to digest as I crammed more and more in. I was setting up a new computer and was asked about importing bookmarks. I had so many folders within folders and random sites, I spend an hour just trying to make sense of the mess, never mind actually read any of the information on any of the sites. I deleted them all. All. And my life’s been immeasurably better for it!

Stop shopping for new things and new ideas. Use what you have. Do not buy or borrow any new books until you’ve read the ones you have. You may find you have some that you aren’t actually interested in reading after all – give them away or sell them, someone else is ready to read them right now, and you’re not. And from now on, finish the one you’re reading before getting a new one. When you get that new one, you know you will read it right away because you’re picking one you’re interested in right in that moment. Marie Kondo explains this well in her https://konmari.com/collections/books/products/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up.

The thing with the books, and yarn, and everything else, was that I spent so much time gathering it, managing it, and searching through it, only to find that I rarely had what I wanted at the time. I often ended up getting something new anyway.

I deleted most of my pinterest boards and similar ‘storage of ideas’ sites and folders too. I keep a couple, to gather up ideas around one or two specific projects that I’m actively working on at a time. When the projects are done, I delete them. When I’m going to start a project, it’s easy to find great information, and it’s more relevant information because I’m actually using it right away.

Back to food. I love cooking (this is new – I didn’t used to have time to love cooking, now I savour the process, the simple tasks of chopping and stirring, the smells and tastes and textures, mmmm.) I was tempted to gather up ALL THE RECIPES but I’d learned from royalty, and when I see a new recipe I want to try, I either plan and make it within the next few days, or I don’t save the recipe. I don’t have any recipes sitting around that I haven’t tried – when I’m done chewing on the ones I do have, I pick up my fork and load it with a new one 🙂