I feel kind of strange going back to share the books that influenced me a lot in 2017, but when I started thinking about the books that I’ve been reading in 2018, I couldn’t have gotten here without the books that came before, and I haven’t been as good about sharing in recent years. (I’ll get to that in a later post.)
Above you can see a peek at my studio space in our great room. I’ve started daily art practice this past month and my space is filling with pieces that inspire me, along with just changing me as a person. (Though the flower sprig print on my countertop is from one of my favorite shops Rifle Paper Co., the rest are mine.) I’m filling sketchbooks and pages and canvases with exercises and practice.
I’m not sure that I can put a solid timeline to these books, but I do know that I started the first of them last spring. There was a shorter list from 2016 that I’d be happy to share, but I thought this would be a great place to start sharing my journey!
We all come to places and moments in our life where we sit at a crossroads. We’ve taken some hits and hurts, been on some U-turns, and one day sit down and ask ourselves how we got to the place that we’re in. Hurt. Stuck. Bitter. Sad. Anxious. Maybe depressed, even. It’s no one person’s fault, and our life isn’t terrible. (To be clear, I don’t blame any one person, and my husband has always been supportive. I love how people sometimes jump to conclusions when you share a glimpse into your personal life! Haha!)
A couple of years ago, I started to realize in my day to day, successful routine, I’d lost my ability to be resilient. (I credit Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong for helping me see that. Her work has saved my life.) I’d slowly been working my way through her books and realizing how much her words resonated with me. In order to deal with how tough the world was, I had begun to retreat into myself. I’m happy to say, not anymore. Now I feel led to share the books that helped my on that journey of not just healing from the hurts, but learning how my special vulnerabilities also show my talents, gifts, purpose, and power in this life.
That brings us to today’s list of amazing books. Get ready to experience an amazing journey if you read any of them. Granted – you have to keep in mind that what you take away from each work will depend on you, your mindset, and where you are in life today.
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I’ve never watched any of Shonda’s shows – I know, I know. But, I’ve never really watched any major television series. I’m weird like that. I tend to lose interest part way through and forget that the series even exists. I credit this to a childhood without television. The amazing writing in television + the invention of Netflix has kinda changed that for me in recent years, but moving on. I found Shonda through her TED talk My Year of Saying Yes to Everything. Watch it. Then you’ll understand why I grabbed the book. Worth every page. As we get older, it gets easy to fall into routines, make decisions around other people’s expectation of us, or bend to what we feel our “responsibilities” are.
Side note: TED Talks are amazing. That’s also how I found Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and countless other mentors that have helped me grow!
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – If you’ve ever had anyone (or general culture, or family, or friends, or lots of someones) tell you that living a creative life is crazy, will leave you broke, lead you to be irresponsible, make it impossible to make a great living, or maybe even make you a “bad” person, this is a book to help you debunk myths and embrace your creative artist self and career. “Creativity is God’s gift to you – you using your creativity is your gift back to God.” This one kept popping up in my podcasts and feeds – most notably in the podcast Art for Your Ear hosted by The Jealous Curator/Danielle Kryssa. So many of the artists that she interviewed talked about it being an important part of their journey as an artist, so I picked it up last summer. Life changing. I grabbed the journal that came with the set and did the journaling exercises for the full twelve weeks. Danielle has also been very honest about how teachers, culture, people influenced her to choose a more “sensible” career in graphic design instead of fine art.
The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho – This book helped me restore a sense of wonder, mystery, and faith. It shares so many things, but one of the key things I personally took away from this fictional story is that you don’t have to see the ending in order to begin. Artist’s careers aren’t like doctor’s or lawyers. What you do need to be able to do is see opportunities, and take the risk when the opportunity comes when it feels right. It’s scary to have the journey unfold in front of you, but that’s how life goes. If our heart is in the right place, things will work out – and most of the lumps and bumps along the way are just there to teach us and make us better people. I actually grabbed this on iBook, and then had to grab the paper copy at Barnes and Noble one day when I walked by.
Your Best Year 2018 by Lisa Jacobs – Art brain confession here – I’m only somewhat organized when it comes to planning. Ok, I’m not sure where I fall on the scale, because I typically have life events planned at least a month in advance, I’ve got a solid meal plan for our family, homeschooling has a system, etc., but Lisa gets real here. I’ve grown my business steadily for the last 8 years, and I had an accounting system, a shipping/fulfillment system, and a rough idea of how and when I’d release new collections. I never realized that all of these things are on the back end of planning process – not really a plan to propel me forward. Kind of like putting the cart before the horse? Lisa helped me see the BIG picture – think about where I am, and where I want to be, then build systems, goals, and plans to work steadily toward those things with the whole year in mind. She’s got separate business AND life versions to help you not just envision where to go, but help you plan how to get there. When I heard about Lisa Jacobs through Bonnie Christine, I immediately knew I was on board and needed in. I joined her Luminaries women’s business group and it’s been invaluable for me!
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – In Brene’s latest book she tackles standing for what you believe in and standing firm and true to who you are. Sometimes it means standing alone, feeling foolish, and just plain being brave. Oh, my heart. Courage is an essential part of walking through this life, both for yourself and on behalf of others. Brene talks about how to graciously and kindly confront people and situation that arise when people cast judgement, and well intentioned or not, disagree strongly with your choices. We live in an era of oversimplifying huge, complicated issues, and Brene emphasizes empathy and engagement. We can only experience true belonging when we are willing to walk alone. In short, we must learn to belong to ourself first, before we seek belonging with others.
I know I’ve shared a LOT of information in this post, but my only hope is that you find something that helps you move yourself. Because regardless of how many super supportive or not-supportive-at-all people you have around you, it starts inside. Every day that you wake up is new, and you can choose a new beginning for yourself, like I did.