Essential Reads for True You

I love to read. I read constantly, usually more than one book at a time. When I look over a lifetime of books, the ones that stand out are more than just good. These books rise to the top because they inspire me, change me, or heal me. Here are a few of them.

 I want to know…Have you read these books? How did they affect you? What books shaped you?

Getting Things Done

I considered myself an organized person when I first read Getting Things Done book ten years ago. In retrospect, I didn’t have a clue. Oh, I had systems, and quadrant prioritizing, and a color-coded DayTimer, but I also had anxiety, sleepless nights, and a nagging feeling I might be climbing the wrong mountain (I was, but that’s a different story).

An effective organizational system takes that angst away, and replaces it with greater productivity and creativity. Though highly-structured and discipline-driven, the point of GTD is to exist in the Zen state of “mind like water” in which you are able to be fully present to the moment because you know all of your commitments and responsibilities are captured in a system you trust. Trust is the bottom line in GTD. Either you fully trust your system (peace), or you devote some part of your psyche to the impossible task of mentally managing your world (unease).

Until you experience it for yourself, there is no way to imagine the pure, unburdened elation that comes at 5:00 on Friday, when “In” is empty, and everything is collected and organized into a trusted system.

It’s freedom, true freedom, and I wish it for you.


I'm not as busy as I used to be, and that's a good thing. This book has something to do with that.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it's about how to get the right things done. Essentialism is defined as the relentless pursuit of less but better. The core truths of Essentialism are:
I choose to. This shifts our focus to options vs actions. We always have the ability to choose. Even when we think we don't. Even when the cost is high. Even when we don't want to. Recognizing and accepting that there are always trade-offs isn't a let-down; it's empowering.
Only a few things really matter. Building upon the Pareto Principle--80% of our results come from 20% of our effort--McKeown makes the case for scrutinizing our efforts for what is and isn't producing results. Once I really understood John Maxwell's statement, "You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything," I am pleased to find things that used to upset or worry me, now, just roll off my back.
I can do anything but not everything. I learned that every "yes" has a flip side: you're always saying "no" to something. This realization has raised the value of my "yes." If it's not a HELL YES, it's a no.

For a Type A person like me, pushing to the limit is not hard. What's hard is not pushing at all. It's been hard--I mean, required real effort--to give up pushing so much, but my life is richer because of it.

The Big Leap

Ask yourself:
•Am I willing to increase the amount of time every day I feel good inside?
•How much love and abundance am I willing to allow?
•Am I willing to feel good and have my life go well all the time?

The answers might not be as obvious as you think. It's actually quite difficult for most people--me, for sure!--to expand our capacity for enjoyment, abundance, love and creativity beyond a certain point.

Instead of getting frustrated, get this book.

This book affected me in a rare way. It permanently altered my understanding in 3 areas:

The Upper Limit Problem--complex and insidious ways we sabotage our own success. Author warns, "When you attain higher levels of success, you often create personal drams in your life" to hold you back. We Upper Limit ourselves by worry, criticism and blame, deflection, squabbling, or getting sick or hurt.

The Zone of Genius--the state of effortless creativity which expresses our highest gifts with minimum effort. This is where we want to spend most of our time.

Einstein Time--a shift from the Newtonian paradigm, which assumes a scarcity of time, to Einstein Time, which is infinitely expansive and limitless. Basically, the author points out that we are not victims of time but the creators of time. Consider his argument, "You'll never have enough time to do the things you don't really want to do."

This is one of those books that stays with you. The truths it presents are so profound, once you know them, you can't un-know them ever again.

A Path with Heart

Jack Kornfield eloquently and beautifully boils all of life’s most complex paradigms, all of religions’ deepest quests, all of our daily struggles, down to this: “Learn to listen to that voice within yourself just here and now. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things. …If you can’t find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you will find it?” (p. 333). He teaches his message of universal love with such gentleness, such compassion, that I feel loved and accepted by an intimate friend.

This book leaves me inspired, changed. Each time I read it, new truths are revealed like old friends; they were there all along, waiting for me. The first time I read it—while my world was topsy-turvy from divorce—very little of it made sense to me. I searched Kornfield’s words for reasons “Why:” Why did my marriage end? Why did my husband lie? Why didn’t things work out? Why didn’t we love each other enough? My search for answers was so narrow and focused that I missed them in the broad and simple truths of A Path with Heart. Whole chunks of it were incomprehensible to me, written in a language I didn’t yet understand. But there were pieces—glistening sparks of truth—that resounded within me in some familiar and ancient way. Statements like, “The unawakened mind tends to make war against the way things are,” (p.22) and, “The longing for love…is underneath all of our activities,” (p. 18) made me go, “Huh?” There was truth there—it resonated deep within me—and although I didn’t truly understand it, it stayed with me. I returned my borrowed copy of the book and bought one; I knew I would read it again.
This is the power of A Path with Heart: it is a mirror that contains what the reader is ready to see. The wisdoms Kornfield shares are universal and ancient and found in many, many texts. Kornfield’s gift is boiling them down to their essence, to their simplest unit, so they can permeate a wounded, closed heart like mine. Each reading of this book makes my heart very tender--open, healing, and learning new things.

A Path with Heart teaches meditation and mindfulness. Kornfield is able to avoid the trappings of the many different schools of thought on mediation—within Buddhism and beyond—and teach the reader the core of how to meditate so that it becomes a way of life.


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