Category Archives: Literature

[Reading is Sexy] Catching Inspiration with ‘The Net and The Butterfly’

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Oftentimes, the mind likes to play tricks on the heart, dolling out various forms of creative comas; for me, these generally come in the form of writer’s block.  Somewhere, in the back of my brain, I’ve deemed my sentences as pedantic, my metaphors aren’t juicy enough, my epiphanies aren’t anywhere near novel or the syntax resembles that of a kindergartners.   This is all fine and well if you’re not trying to make a name for yourself in the creative sector, or a living off of being a writer; but for the rest of us, well, that’s a horse of a very different color.

Enter: The Net and the Butterfly.

For all the times I’ve started a blog post and let it sit on the back burner, created a cover letter that I’ve then torn to digital shreds, or haven’t been able to put my finger on a press release, The Net and the Butterfly has released me from my anxieties of incomplete creativity and put me on the path for success. The brainchild of authors Olivia Fox Cabane, who penned The Charisma Myth, and Judah Pollack of The Chaos Imperative, this is perfect resource for any and every individual that’s looking to innovate their mental state and put a fresh spin on their success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for their next big break, or need a simple kick in the ass to get a project started – this is the book for you.  Take charge of your creativity and catalyze your inner momentum with engaging exercises, apt anecdotes to get your head spinning and solid solutions for whatever is sullying your sanity.

Hypothetically, you could finish this book in a single sitting – it’s wonderfully written and mentally probing, if you do it right; but by doing so, you’re  not doing yourself any huge favors, and you’re probably cutting corners by not marinating on the mental floss the book has given you. Pace yourself properly and really digest what you read by getting through one, maybe two, chapters a night and actually doing all of the exercises, you’ll be surprised by what works for you, and you’ll could be so immersed and enthralled in that new reality that you might just carry it over to your day to day life, maybe without even thinking about it. So whatever your vocation, or trepidation, is – The Net and the Butterfly posits some great knowledge and reignites the creative flame; and I’m speaking from personal experience.

For more on The Net and the Butterfly, head to the official website – or if you’ve caught the vibe and want more, snag your own copy on Amazon!

 

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[Write On] Adventures in Literature: My 2015 Reading Challenge

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Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
[Mark Twain]

First things first, let me just drop this knowledge on you – Reading is Sexy; and don’t let a person tell you anything differently!  I don’t mean reading articles from HuffPo, Lost at E Minor, Mother Jones or Science Daily on your smart phone or tablet. I’m talking tangible, hold’em in your hand and smell the page; wafting in wanderlust and adventure, syllable after syllable; ending up in a world you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams while you’ve stayed static, stuck on the couch with your head in the clouds. When I was younger, my appetite for literature was almost insufferable for my family – every meal, every car ride, every turn – there I was, ears billowing out hushed musical tones while my mind wandered feverishly through the chapters. 

As I grew older, I realized that my penchant for reading was only matched by my aptitude for math.  Over the course of several family reunions in Washington I was taught how to use long division and counted by powers of two to fall asleep. Nature and nurture seemed to have a field day when it came to determining my true passion in life – on one hand, I could eat, sleep and breathe data, numbers and patterns – there’s something so simple, so logical, so straightforward about the output of data. In a similar but opposite context, I love extrapolating on the English Language, enamoring my work with poetic justice and jubilant prose while challenging the definition of sentence structure and simile.  And let’s not forget, the joys of reading – of traveling infinitely inwards, shooting through the future and somersaulting through the past while staying firmly, yet delicately, in place.

It only makes sense through both nature and nurture.  As the granddaughter of one of the creators of the ENIAC and great granddaughter of one of the only female writer of the Harlem Renaissance, it makes all too much sense that I’d find a unique penchant for both and be able to put it to work. But that’s not to say that I don’t find myself getting writer’s block every now and again. In my last few years as music journalist for The DJ List, I’ve had the wonderfully unique opportunity to ask music professionals how they get over an uncreative slump –  they all tell me that fully immersing themselves in art has always worked the trick – and by in large, I absolutely agree. Both literature and music have a therapeutic, cathartic way of affecting my daily outlook, and my daily output.   Fully immersing myself in another persons passionate creative endeavor more than fuels my fire to foster new ideas, or simply push through and finish what I’ve started.  As far as my writing, personal, music blogging, gonzo journalism and the like are concerned – reading is by far the best way to expand my horizons on what I’m capable of, and the literature that already exists within the world.  Through proper perusal of passionate creations, I see ways that I can make my own more harmonic, melodic, whimsical and descriptive.

Last year, my best friend challenged me to find my Top Ten Works of Literary NonFiction and that was a wonderful blast from the past but truth be told, my reading has waned in the last decade. Since College has ended, I’ve been on a perpetual mission to educate myself – in any way possible, and books have done just that for me. To out myself now – Book Clubs don’t do much for me, except potentially give me a room of disappointed faces when I announce that I’ve read three different books that definitely were not assigned while I’ve definitely avoided what we were all told to read. I get reading inspiration from across the board and I have to admit that for the last few years, with the influx of all sorts of social media, my reading offline had fallen by the wayside – but I’ve taken a bold stand to that and say no more.

Amazon has a wonderful book buy-back (well, technically – it’s an “anything” buy-back program, but whatever) where you can get books for as little as 1¢ (plus Shipping, so 5 bucks total – which is still awesome!) that I’ve been (ab)using since college.  Like rare wildflowers, there’ve been an influx of lending libraries popping up around Los Angeles, as well as Corvallis where my family lives – and there’s a corner of my heart that’s infinitely happier for that. Beautiful bookstores, though few and far between, are havens of literature and apparently, actual Libraries still exist – and now you can rent CDs, DVDs, Blu Rays, Video Games and so much more than just books! On the flip side, if you’re looking to catalog your library or expand your literary horizons – I’m a huge fan of GoodReads, it’s basically the Facebook of reading; you can find your friends, explore authors and use your cell phone to barcode scan your bookshelves.  It’s a book nerds dream – and if you go on it, you should definitely add me!

For 2015, I’ve decided to inspire my creative side with a reading challenge and figured 25 books over the course of the year was doable.  Sure, I have to basically billow through a book biweekly – but with all the absent minded things I tend to do around my house, not to mention the bouts of latent lackadaisical laziness and semi-permanent procrastination due to writer’s block, and I could easily reach my goal; if not surpass it!  We’re just past

The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture, Matt RidleyThe Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture

In my personal opinion, science is one of the most beautiful subjects to write about – taking a process, breaking it down with language and reinforcing connection through poetic prose, symbolic symbolism and delicate diction.  In a sea of science authors, Matt Ridley stands out with other greats of our generation like Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, Simon Singh and Brian Greene.  A personal fangirl of his writing since I was graduating High School in 2003, as a budding young biochemist at one point in my life I was enamored by books like Genome, The Red Queen Theory and The Origins of Virtue.  ‘The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns On Nurture’ is a wonderful encounter with ideals we’ve been familiar with grade school – except instead of pitting them against each other, Matt Ridley makes an excellent argument for how nature and nurture work in tandem to produce the genetic world in which we thrive.

The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

The Joyous Cosmology, Alan Watts

I’ve been recommended various Alan Watts books over the years, but it took until the past month to finally get through one.  Taking into account how in love I was with Huxley‘s Doors of Perception and Pinchbeck‘s Breaking Open The Head, The Joyous Cosmology was a no-brainer first choice.

A lyrically written journey into the mind, Alan Watts impeccably conveys his journey into human consciousness, the ego and the psyche. A must read for anyone intent on exploring the bounds of the mind. Watts does poetic justice to moments where words typically won’t suffice, on a journey through the internal, mental and emotional manifestdestiny of the human race in the 21st century. And speaking of Watts and Huxley, while doing some research I found a wonderful interview from 1968 of Alan Watts and Laura Huxley, Aldous‘ late wife.

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras: With Light, Color, Sound, Crystals, and Aromatherapy

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras Joy Gardner

After experiencing a menagerie of types of healing and transformational moments at festivals along the West Coast, from Lightning in a Bottle to Shambhala Music Festival, I’ve been eager to learn some myself. During my first LIB, I watched as festies relaxed under billowing trees while a plethora of instruments were tuned around them and this past year, I watched as a sonic soundbath featuring tuning forks alleviated stress and relaxed my entire campsite.  In Canada, I had my chakras read and realigned by a happy camper, explaining beforehand that last year he set a personal record by reading the palms of 50 people – last year, he wanted to break 100.

It’s purported through ancient scripture that the universe is held together with vibration and sound, and the more I read into vibrational healing the more I truly understand what this means.

The Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

The Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Michael Schenider 

This is my latest, and it’s a goodie. Mathematics is the language of the universe, and this wonderfully engaging and hands on approach from Michael Schenider is one of the best explanations of how math plays into the world as we currently know it.  From the formation of gems and minerals to hexagonal shape of beehives and formation of historic sculptures and art from sacred geometry, this is a must read for math people, and non-math people, alike.  Every chapter contains a section on how to construct various shapes like the platonic solids, promoting a beautiful discussion while delving into the history of our current numeric system.

My bookshelf is literally toppling over with reads, which makes me incredibly indecisive on what to pick up next.  I’ve been reading The Alchemist outloud with Danny and it’s brings a whole new element to the read, and on my own I’ve been itching to get through some Alan Watts books, as well as an Alex Grey book on The Mission of Art. What are your recommendations for my next read? What’s on your bookshelf that you just can’t wait to dive in to? Let me know in the comments below!

[My Top Ten] Works of Literary Non-Fiction

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Just the other morning, my best friend from childhood tagged me in a brand new Facebook Challenge; in the back of my head, all I could pray was that it had nothing to do with Ice, Buckets or viral infamy – instead, I was urged to impart some wisdom in the form of books.  Finally – a challenge I can get behind! Eagerly, I did an about face to my towering library of literature and smiled to myself; I wasn’t sure what the true challenge would be, finding a group of friends that shared my bibliophile-esque ways – or narrowing my whimsical reading list down to only ten books. Regardless, I finally finagled my way to a list of ten (well, eleven – if you count my second Daniel Goleman rec), but all in all – these are the authors that have spoken to my soul over the past few decades.  Even if you don’t pick a book from this list, I highly urge you to find an author, subject, time period or style that you enjoy and dive into it head first, heart second.

Reading is my favorite form of escapism, because you can keep one foot grounded in reality while your imagination takes off like a wild wind. Whether they’re tense tales of mystery, bold epiphanies dressed as mental manifest destiny, revolutionary scientific discoveries and deep rooted philosophical questions – I absolutely love it.  I devour words for breakfast and snack on syntax for dessert, have an affinity for alliteration and an unrequited love of symbolism, analogy and metaphor.  And my brain – it acts like a sponge; every new piece I read, whether novel, poem or song lyric has pushed me to evolve my style of writing.  Each and every one of these books, and authors, has touched my life for the better and I’ve seen the world with new eyes time and time again because of the wonder and beauty they’ve inspired in the world around me, as well as this weird little world inside my head.  Without further ado, these are the ten non-fiction books that have influenced my life, in no particular order other than my memory.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

A wonderful expose into the nature, and importance, of emotional intelligence.  I was first recommended this read by my Counselor in High School – though I didn’t read it until my early twenties, this has been one of my favorite Non Fiction reads.  I highly suggest ‘Social Intelligence’ as a follow-up if this piques your fancy.

On the Genealogy of Morals

In college, I waited until essentially the last second to complete my English requirement – the last quarter of my Senior Year, if you want to get specific.  But, the course – Comparative African Literature – was well worth the wait and the Professors and TAs were some of my favorite of my entire collegiate career.  At the end of the quarter, we got to pick our own essay topics – I was just descending into Nietzsche’s writings and ended up comparing Neo-Colonialism in Africa to the deep rooted Judaeo-Christian ideals of morality and ethics. Needless to say, both proved to be interesting reads.

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination

With literary prowess and an incredible knack for storytelling, Robert Jourdain weaves one of my favorite stories – your brain on music.  I live, eat, sleep, breathe music – I wake up with songs in my head, and immediately head to my laptop to turn off the silence of the world.  Tunes, melodies, lyrics – they circle around me and I love how they can bring me to both tears and the height of ecstasy.  In this book, Jourdain takes a scientific approach to music – conveying how tone, melody, melody and composition all play into each other, and just why each and every one of us is so enthralled by it.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Like most of the authors on this list, to only put one Ruiz book on this list is potential blasphemy – every last piece he’s written I’ve eagerly gobbled up with my eyes and have felt better for it.  But, for anyone that hasn’t had experience with his books – The Four Agreements is an excellent place to start.  The simple premise, is that everyone should live by four essential agreements – Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.  With mantras like that, how could you possibly go wrong?

The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell

Mmm, Huxley. Where do I even begin – this was recommended by a few friends when I mentioned I was looking for an adventure, and a mental adventure is what I got.  Huxley circumnavigates the brain and delves into unmapped areas of human consciousness.  It’s an incredible read; take the journey.

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If Huxley is your cup of tea, Daniel Pinchbeck is your tall tumblr of Whisky; taking a page from Huxley’s mental explorations, Pinchbeck ventures into contemporary Shamanism with the assistance of modern psychedelics.

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

I found this book on my bookshelf a few years ago, I think my step-mother handed it down (she always gives me great reads) and it stayed there for years – but I was going through some difficult times and needed a mental adjustment.  ‘It’s Easier Than You Think’ provided just that. Through personal anecdote and tiny stories, humor and introspection, Sylvia Boorstein slowly but surely helped change my mindset towards a more positive way of life in the way of the Buddha.  

The World Without Us

Time for a little thought experiment: the dinosaurs were wiped out long before us, and there’s a chance humanity won’t last either – what happens to the world if the human race becomes extinct?  It’s not the most pleasant question to ask yourself, but in the realm of possibilities – why not indulge your brain – Alan Weisman sure did, and the results are astounding. There’s so much manmade infrastructure, like subway systems and dams, that will simply lay waste and become overrun by the original ecological state of the region.  Parts of the world would almost become unrecognizable within centuries.  It’s a wonderful read, and definitely made me think of the effect of global industrialization

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A book….about Numbers? Yep – you’re damn right it is.  Math is the Yin to the Written Yang – words can be flowery, beautiful, whimsical and shift in meaning – but numbers are static, stoic, firm and steady; they’re an exact science, and they’re one of the greatest discoveries of all time.  Tobias Dantzig provides an excellent account of the history of the numbers themselves; though not everyone likes reading about mathematics – if you happen to be a fan of the subject, you won’t be able to put this book down.

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This is the year of now – instant food, instant drinks, instant payments, insta-grams and a gogogo lifestyle are all indicative of a grandiose shift in global consciousness from stopping to smell the flowers, to filtering them in LoFi and throwing hashtags on them. Now, I love how tech-savvy the world has become – but I have a big fear that a lot of people are forgetting that it’s okay to walk instead of drive, call instead of text, send mail instead of email, cook a homemade dinner as opposed to popping something in the microwave.  Through example after example, Carl Honere exemplifies his issue with the ‘Cult of Speed’ and has converted me into a Slow-Life believer.

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood WarriorI literally grew up on a basketball court. Go back – farther back than High School, farther than Middle and even Elementary School…I can remember being 3 years old and my dad lifting me up to “shoot” my first shots on a big hoop, I remember watching, awe inspired, as players gracefully glided like gazelles up and down the court.  When I was at my most competitive, playing for a club team, my middle school team and being scouted for High School – my parents passed this book on to me and I eagerly lapped it up.  Phil Jackson is an idol in so many ways, and his words – and stories – truly spoke to me.  Whether you were a player, a coach or simply just love the game – this is an excellent read and I promise you won’t be putting it down anytime soon.