There are two phrases that caught my attention last year – both have become affirmations of mine as part of my self-care routine. One is the title of this blog – more about this uplifting source of musical inspiration at the end. And the other I read in a book last year – “self-care is a form of social activism” – declared by the brilliant Dr. James Rouse in his beautifully crafted book made lovingly with his wife, Dr. Debra Rouse – Think, Eat, Move, Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life. In addition to their truly magnificent treatise on living well, three more books by amazingly talented human beings – Dr. Emily Nagoski, Jacquie Somerville, and Dr. Greg Wells – gave me life-changing insights that I’ve incorporated into my routine, my way of being – with brilliant results and elevating me to a higher starting point for this year of awesomeness.
Let me share with you what stuck with me and hope you explore the books, and the music at the end, to find what is meaningful and motivating for you. What books did you read last year that have made your life better? What lyrics do you sing over and over again to move you forward?
Come as You Are – The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
Emily Nagoski, PhD
As Emily notes at the beginning of the book, ‘the science of women’s sexual well being is young’. She has crafted a brilliant resource for every adult no matter their gender or stage of their sexual journey. It is full of useful insights backed by science and complementary examples of real-life stories of relevant experiences.
It is laid out in four parts – Part 1 includes the topics of anatomy, sexual personality, and context; Part 2 includes emotional context and cultural context; Part 3 includes arousal and desire; Part 4 includes orgasm and meta-emotions.
The concepts of context, brakes and accelerators resonated the most with me. As did her sleepy hedgehog model of emotional management, which essentially is a process to help work through the doubts or insecurities playing out in your head and limiting or preventing a beautiful experience with your partner:
- Step 1 – give it a name, e.g. sleepy hedgehog.
- Step 2 – sit peacefully with it on your lap.
- Step 3 – figure out what it needs.
- Step 4 – tell your partner.
- Step 5 – collaborate to help the sleepy hedgehog.
She encourages replacing self-criticism with self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness – ‘allowing negative meta-emotions, feelings to complete their cycles and release them to create space for the new goal’. In the context of her book, she indicates that – ‘the right goal is whatever is true about you right now’.
This book is a bridge to understanding each other more as human beings and it will, I believe, change the conversation.
Think Eat Move Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life
Dr. James Rouse, Dr. Debra Rouse
Dr. James and Dr. Debra share beautifully brilliant strategy for complete life wellness with ‘loving, empowered proactive self-care’. Having had the pleasure of hearing Dr. James speak twice over the past two years, I know that anyone who reads this book and implements any of its practices will evolve into the very best human being possible. He exudes love and is on a mission to change the world – one bite of kale at a time.
The four sections of this book, Think, Eat, Move and Thrive, are complemented by supporting routine templates and recipes to aid you on your wellness journey.
What resonated the most for me in the Think section is WWLD – or what would love do? This is a practice that I do my very best in applying each day – especially when life’s situations get complicated. It serves me well – and is hard sometimes. As they say, ‘when you come from love, you come from a place of wholeness, a place of service’.
Taking heed of their advocacy for plant-based food – specifically dark leafy greens, blueberries, turmeric and avocadoes – in the Eat section has had the biggest impact on my health. Along with regular exercise being ‘present in my body and mindful in every movement’ as they write about in the Move section, I dropped two dress sizes by the end of 2017 and am on my way to three – and now having a great deal more energy, in general.
In the Thrive section, their thoughts on ‘excelling and going beyond self-imposed limits’ rang true for me. They proport that to thrive is, ‘to really know yourself, know your passions, your purpose, your deepest longings, your mission and your vision for your life’. Simple naked insights that often stare at us blankly waiting for us to choose to act – and when we do, the results propel us to continue moving forward on fire.
This book, made with a deep love for all of humanity, will inspire you to take the most amazing care of yourself.
My Scandalous Little Rule Book: A Scandalous Guide to Sensational Success!
Jacquie’s book is as vivacious as she is – having first-hand knowledge, cocktails with her and a bunch of conference mates last June at the Ritz in Toronto. It is a fun-loving raw introspective of what is means to truly be a woman in the world today – full of her personal stories and stark advice on how to tap into and live to your full potential, and as a woman. It is the most honest, hilarious, blushingly shocking at times, and helpful book about women, for women, by a woman that I’ve ever read in my entire life.
She begins with some simple advice – ‘Stop being so cautious. Take a risk, achieve some major stuff, and have some fun’. Many more such insights from her resonate with me, including:
- There are no coincidences in life
- When life presents you opportunities, trust yourself and jump
- I have so much love to give – love kept suppressed for fear that vulnerability would leave me weak and pathetic
- Regret will hold you back from ever being fully you
- Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
- Clarity is my life coach and my voice of reason
- It’s your energy that is causing you grief
- We all come by our issues honestly
- Most of us don’t have any idea what our true limits are – we haven’t come close to tapping into our full potential
- Love others fully and with an open heart
- Look for lessons in your challenges
- Grab life by the balls
This book is a must read for all women who march to the beat of their own drum – or really want to!
The Ripple Effect: Sleep Better, Eat Better, Move Better, Think Better
Greg Wells, PhD
Dr. Greg Wells is a truly brilliant orator. I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing him speak twice in the past two years. He shares meaningful, complex information about living the best life you possibly can and does it in such a thoughtfully crafted manner that you feel like you’ve just taken a half-semester 3rd year medical sciences university course in the span of a couple of hours – understanding every word of it! His book is just as eloquent and has had an equally positive transformative effect on the routines of my life.
In the Getting Started chapter, the section about dream setting stood out for me probably because I forgot what it meant to dream big along the way. Dr. Greg highlights the power of dreaming big:
‘Dreaming BIG, then making small, consistent improvements,
can revolutionize your health and your life.
If you really want to achieve something, dream yourself into doing it.
Dream setting is powerful.
And it is the most effective way to change your life for the better.’
Supporting the concept of making small, consistent improvements, Dr. Greg’s 1% Tips are well peppered throughout the book and are easily implementable routine changes. As well, his approach in dealing with ‘insurmountable challenges’ that we are often faced with in life aligns with my Dad’s approach of practicing patience. Dr. Greg states that we don’t have to necessarily ‘try harder, react and charge ahead’ – he espouses the benefits of stepping back, resting, recovering, regenerating, and responding strategically. This is one of the best changes I’ve made, try hard to stick to, and is making a noticeable difference in every aspect of my life.
Many of the 1% changes I’ve made are found in the Sleep Better section of the book. Dr. Greg believes that, ‘the foundation of human health and performance is sleeping soundly’. One of the research findings that he shares that says it all for me is that, ‘you can literally wash your brain of waste products and damage each night, if you sleep well’. And even more important than sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night is sleeping on a regular schedule.
In the Move Better section, he shares with us that some research shows that ‘as little as 15 minutes of exercise each day is enough to decrease our risk of certain cancers by 24 – 50%’. This is an incredibly compelling reason to get and to stay active every day. He also shares with us one of his big dreams in this section, specifically – ‘that exercise, physical activity and training become part of life for almost everyone on the planet, and that we are all as healthy as we can be as a result’.
The Eat Better section is full of research backed information about what and how we eat – for example, plant-based foods, Omega-3 fatty acids, safe sustainable fish, probiotics like that found in fermented food and hydrating with water. He recommends checking out the following food guides based on actual research: Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Eating Plate and Brazil’s healthy eating recommendations. Also, the section about the duality of inflammation in our bodies was eye opening one for me – specifically, ‘inflammation is a powerful process that helps repair and regenerate the tissues in our bodies and brains, but if we don’t eat well, are inactive, and sleep poorly, low-grade inflammation develops’- which can become incredibly dire to our overall health.
In the Think Better section, Dr. Greg shares amazing tips, such as how to think clearly to build mental health and happiness, recognize the presence of stress and minimize its negative effects, and get into a state of flow to perform at your absolute best.
This is more than a book – it is a rallying cry. I do hope that many components of it will become part of your daily routine to help you become the best possible healthy version of yourself.
“Every Day Your Future Can Begin”
Lyrics by Scott McMahon, singer and songwriter based in London, UK
To buy his music, go to his cool website: https://www.scottmcmahononline.com/
To understand more about the magic of this incredible artist and beautiful man, check out my Soldiers of Love post: https://anaphoraonline.com/2017/12/13/
Explore his website to find the album and the song that holds these precious lyrics, this powerful truth – then listen to the tone of his voice when he sings it – simply exponential inspiration.