What I’m Reading Now
The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander
and Benjamin Zander, Penguin Books, 2002.
This book has a lyrical quality that reflects the profession and
passon of Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. It reads
like (as Ben would say) "a long line of music" -- more than the
sum of its notes. The authors include many stories (much more
engaging than plain old "examples") that illustrate how the resolution
of sticky issues and real life challenges really IS possible. As a
coach, I'm all about seeing the possibilities, and this book has taken
my thinking about creating frameworks for possibility to new
Other Books I Like
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Twentieth Anniversary Edition, Patheon Books, 1975.
Beautifully written, personal and yet universal, almost every sentence in this book deserves to be a free standing quote. Don't let the fact that it was written in 1955 mislead you - this book's language, simplicity and message are very much "today." Despite all of the changes in society and in women's lives over the last five decades, women continue to find it difficult to find time for solitude and reflection amidst the demands of life.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh contemplates the ebb and flow of the lives of women with children, the challenges of daily living in the modern world, and the many ways that our culture devalues and distances us from the blessings of solitude and retreat.
This book is a gift passed down to us through time - I urge you to gratefully accept it. Keep your journal nearby - the small size and simplicity of this book belie its impact. This book makes excellent retreat reading, and will make your reading time feel like a retreat.
Note: a 50th anniversary edition of this book is now available at booksellers, and many libraries stock prior editions of this timeless classic.
Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm and Focused All Day Long and Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Unwind from the Day & Make the Most of Your Night, both by Jeffrey Brantley, M.D. and Wendy Millstine. New Harbinger Publications, 2005 and 2006.
The names of these books say it all. Wonderful, short, doable, effective practices.
The Breath of God, by Nancy Roth. Seabury Books, 2006.
If you have taken yoga or meditation classes grounded in "eastern" religions, you may be surprised to learn that Christian practice can also incorporate breath and body awareness. Nancy Roth, an Episcopal priest, provides simple instruction and basic exercises which use the breath (both literally and figuratively) as an aid to prayer - including contemplation, reflection, verbal prayer and the prayer of action. Roth maintains that "prayer is a discovery of who we are, and also of who we are called to become as we open ourselves every more fully to the breath of God." This book is a wonderfully accessible introduction to contemplative practices within the traditions of Christianity.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - and it's all small stuff, by Richard Carlson. Hyperion Books, 1996.
No doubt you've heard of this book. Simple essays and exercises to help you stop "sweating" and start living.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. Free Press, 2004.
When it was first published in 1990, this book put the word "proactive" in the personal leadership training lexicon. An oldie but goodie. Or take a look at one of Covey's newer books applying the seven habits to families, teens, etc.
Improv Wisdom, by Patricia Ryan Madson. Harmony/Bell Tower, 2005
The subtitle of this book says it all: "Don't Prepare, Just Show Up." Madson, an improv professor with a Buddhist slant, applies the lessons of improv (e.g., be present, help your fellow actors, move the story along now, don't wait for the perfect line) to life. A small book that packs a big mind-bending punch. One of my all-time favorite books.