In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


1 Comment

Resistance Is Utile

(No, that’s not a typo. Here, let me Google that for you.)

I recently finished listening to The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. His writing style is challenging for me to follow on audio, because each section is only loosely connected to its neighbors – like a sitcom where the episodes are only generally related the others, by the same characters and place setting. It was especially difficult for me to keep up since I was navigating my commute as well.

But I am glad I stuck with it, because he makes several excellent points throughout the book. The one which struck me most is that “resistance has meaning”. Which should have been a refresher for me rather than a revelation, because I did read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which was the foil for this particular idea.

To sum it up rather poorly: the most important work you have to do (“art” as Godin calls it) is what your lizard brain least wants you to do. Creating art makes you vulnerable. Opening up to connections with others through you art also opens you up to the possibility of rejection. Maybe as bad or worse: the possibility of realizing no one cares about your art.

So when you realize you are procrastinating on taking action, it’s helpful to inspect the underlying motives. Maybe it’s truly something you don’t want to do. (Me when I have to make phone calls. Always.) But maybe it’s the voice of the resistance, the lizard brain trying to protect you from the ultimate terror, a fate worse even than death: public humiliation. At least death (in this world) is final; shame hovers over you for the rest of your life, even if only in your own scarred, tattered memories.

If you listen intently, you’ll recognize the voice of the resistance trembles like a frightened child on the brink of tears.

Instead of resisting resistance, we should strive to recognize it and embrace it as a sign we are on the verge of creating art.

When I don’t have (make) the time to write… when my to-do list is SO LONG it even includes folding laundry… that is the voice of resistance. Rather than fight it, I should embrace it, maybe offer it a cup of tea, and go write, origami-folded laundry be damned. (I’m sorry, KonMari!)

When I stick to the safe topics – recipes, plant identification, garden updates – that is the voice of resistance.

When I have to read just a few more articles or blog posts or books, so I really know my stuff before I write – that is the voice of the resistance.

When I feel like there is no point because no one reads my blog anyway (except my three regulars – thank you!) – that is not only resistance, but evidence that I need to write more so I get better. Because as Godin explains, if your art isn’t connecting, you don’t give up – you make better art.

What art are you resisting?


2 Comments

Terrible Names for Good Ideas

I’m listening to the audiobook version of How to be Alive by Colin Beavan. So far it has been enjoyable with lots of interesting perspectives and insights. And the book is read by the author, which I definitely prefer.

[Side note – the audio is free through hoopladigital.com in partnership with my local library, and it does NOT include all the “enhanced digital content” that would have been on the actual disks if I had purchased them in the store.]

Anyway, while I like a lot of Mr. Beavan’s ideas, I find his names for them, um, less than inspiring. Take for example, the “Ukulele Approach”. This is his term for small, easy actions that one can take to help bring your life more in line with your values. Even if you can’t solve big issues like world hunger or universal clean drinking water, anyone can smile more, help an elderly person carry their groceries, etc. He provides a list of 19 examples and they are all great suggestions. Just … the name for them … hmmmmm …

[Side note 2 – I finally know how to spell ukulele after writing this post.]

But the point is, Mr. Beavan’s list inspired me to compose my own. Some of the items are on his list as well, because I liked them so much. Without further ado, my own list of 19 easy small steps I can take to live a life better aligned to my values:

  1. Pick up litter while walking
  2. Eat a more plant-based diet
  3. Feed my family more locally sourced food
  4. Forage more to learn about my local ecology
  5. Drink less booze
  6. Eat less sugar
  7. Eat more fermented / cultured foods
  8. Buy more clothes used
  9. Shift what clothing I do buy to be more natural fibers rather than synthetic
  10. Improve the energy efficiency of my home through insulation foam, caulking and weather stripping
  11. Watch TV less
  12. Buy less stuff, especially things which are ‘labor saving’ gadgets or ‘convenience’ devices, or only serve one highly specialized purpose
  13. Spend my dollars at local and / or ethically and socially conscious businesses
  14. Give more complements
  15. Smile more
  16. Support my daughters’ unique personalities and individual traits and empower them to be strong women
  17. Buy seeds evolved for my climate so the garden needs less energy to support
  18. Participate in seed exchanges
  19. If given the choice, use and buy things that can be ‘returned to the soil’ at the end of their functional life

How will it go? Only time will tell, BUT I can definitely say, it has been a while since I last composed a list that made me feel excited, rather than anxious!


Leave a comment

Skinny Bitch: The Aftermath

I recently wrapped up listening to Skinny BitchTechnically, it was the “deluxe” edition that included Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, complete with recipes.  Well, annoyingly enough, the Digital eLibrary Consortium version of the audiobook did not actually have any way to get to the recipes.  There should have been a DRM PDF that went with the audiobook, but, oh well.

But I digress. 

Skinny Bitch is a sassy, no-holds-barred exposé on every reason imaginable as to why you shouldn’t consume animal products.   Even if you don’t agree with their argument, you’ll probably keep listening (reading) just to hear what they say next: these ladies have foul mouths the likes of which you rarely encounter in books!

I found the book particularly compelling because I’ve been down this road before.   I was vegetarian for a while in high school and college, primarily for health reasons but also because of how animals were treated in factory farms.  As I grew older, vegetarianism became more a force of habit than anything I truly believed in.  Then I realized that just because my diet was “vegetarian” didn’t make it healthy. So at that point, I went back to the omnivorous ways of my youth.

Yet some things you never really forget.

I have been mostly vegetarian for about a week now.   It was like flipping a switch.  One minute I ate meat, the next I didn’t.  I nibbled a piece of chicken at a Memorial Day cookout, but even that grossed me out.  That’s the biggest difference so far between vegetarian-as-a-teen and vegetarian-as-a-grown-up – as a kid it was very abstract, so while I “knew” why I didn’t want to eat meat, I didn’t feel it.  Now I feel it. 

I am also eating vegan more meals than not.   Another difference between now and then, when I didn’t object so strongly to dairy. 

I’m taking a more moderate approach with husband and kids.  While he listened to the companion book, Skinny Bastard, he doesn’t want to give up meat & dairy – although he acknowledges the health benefits of cutting back.  We are currently researching local sources of pesticide-, growth-hormone- and antibiotic-free critters. As for the kids, I don’t plan on forcing them to follow this lifestyle.  Although who knows, maybe Rory and Kim will come out with Skinny Brat next.


Leave a comment

Playing Catch Up

I’m falling behind in my book reviews.  I’m consuming so much content lately, I’m having trouble making time to write up anything!

The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence, by Deepak Chopra.

This book had so. much. potential.  I have enjoyed other works by Chopra so I was excited to stumble on this one at my local library.  The premise is that the little (and big!) coincidences in life have meaning, and you should pay attention to coincidence, serendipity, and other events of synchronicity.  I wish the book had gone further into how to bring about or leverage these coincidences.  The book recommends 30 minutes of meditation twice a day with chanting, and getting in touch with your avatar(s), and paying attention to your dreams.  

…um, ok… I guess that works for some people, but I was looking for more!

Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create the Life You Really Want!,  by Jennifer White.  I listed to the unabridged audiobook – all eight hours!  This one impressed me very much, as it was very thorough.  However, I had two complaints.

1)  The original book came with worksheets, but the audiobook version did not include them.   I actually want to find a used copy of the book so I can go back and do the exercises.   This is one of those rare books where the exercises are actually useful and thought-provoking.

2)  The fundamental premise of this book is that you need to do more of “what you’re brilliant at” in your job / career.  By spending more of your time on your “brilliance”, you’ll maximize your income potential.  This is pretty powerful, especially in contrast with the gurus who assert you must do what you “love” to make money.  However, the author could have provided a little more guidance on how to find out what one’s brilliance is.  Which makes the rest of the book less useful.


Leave a comment

If it ain’t broke… I still want a shot at making it better!

I am a fixer.  I like having things to fix.  If I’m not fixing something, I become fidgety and anxious, and then I turn my need to tinker on myself.  I’m not broken, per se, but I’m sure I can always be better.

Thus, on my reading/listening list you’ll see a lot of books that are most easily classified as “self help” although a lot of them are “spiritual” and – especially lately – there is a smattering of business-related reading thrown in as well.

I’m done (or as done as I’m getting, anyway!) with my current “On Deck” titles, so before I get new ones let me say a word about the old ones.

Making a Difference by Being Yourself: Using Your Personality Type at Work and in Relationships

The book is based on using your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator preference to talk about how you can get increased job satisfaction by focusing on what types of difference you can make. I was drawn to this book because I’m constantly kvetching that I don’t feel like I make any difference on the job.  Any book that promises to help is worth a read.  And I did find it VERY satisfying.   This whole time, I have been defining “making a difference” in a very grand way.  Nurses make a difference.  Physical therapists make a difference.  People who work every day with people to make their lives better – those are the people who make a difference.  Those of us with IT careers are doomed to irrelevance, left hoping that our technological traces someday have some impact on the lives of an anonymous user we will never know.  When I saw the title of this book, I couldn’t pass it up!

Some people poo-poo MBTI and similar personality type frameworks as having as much basis in reality as astrology.  Personally, I found that knowing my type has helped enormously in understanding why I respond the way I do in various situations.  And _Make a Difference by Being Yourself_ was just as helpful.  It focuses on the middle two letters – the core of your personality – and then gives various scenarios on how people with that type can make a difference on the job (and in relationships, for that matter).  I am an “NT”, or “Visionary”, and we love being the expert, the advisor, the person who explains things in such a way that others “get it”, the forward thinker, the big picture promoter, the advocate for progress.  After reading the chapter on Visionaries, I understood what makes a “good day” for me on the job.  Whenever I help fix a problem or teach somebody something new, or demonstrate how a great new idea will help make things better, that is a good day.  Whenever someone doubts my competence, or whenever I think nothing I do will ever have a lasting impact – that progress is basically impossible – that’s when I come home from work frustrated and angry and looking for a new job.  Since I actually like what I do (most of the time), just this bit of insight alone was worth reading this book.  Now when I feel that anguish in the office, I’ll be better equipped to deal with it and move on.

I think anyone who knows they should enjoy their job, but somehow doesn’t, should read this book.

Lazy Man’s Guide to Riches (Audio Book)

I am glad I did not spend the money on this book.  I have to agree with several Amazon.com reviewers who despaired of the extent to which Richard G. Nixon drowned the original author’s content with his own.  Since I never read the original 70s version, I was left to speculate how much content was “original” and how much was “new”.  My personal guess is that most of it is new.  The only thing which sounded like it could be original was some of the “believe in yourself” type stuff, and the ultimate punch line: the “secret” to the lazy man’s guide to riches is Direct Response Marketing.  This apparently translates to “advertise EVERYWHERE about your product.”  Um, ok…you still have to have a product or service to sell first.

A particular beef I have about the eBook – which I accessed for free with my library card – is that it kept. on. referring. to. the. workbook.  I didn’t have a workbook, and on several occasions I found myself frustrated at what seemed like FINALLY getting to the good part when the narrator would say “See your workbook for more details.”  ACK! 

I didn’t finish listening to the whole thing… the last several chapters were specific to internet marketing (again, not part of the original content), and when I want to read up more on that I will find a book specific to the topic.  I’m moving on!