Becoming an Essentialist

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown stood on my nightstand for weeks. It was a nightly reminder of how I have been wanting to shift things in my life.

It all comes down to this: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

Our lives are filled with such informational clutter. Physical clutter too. We collect news articles on Flipboard, old pairs of jeans that we swear we’ll fit into again someday, email subscriptions (because we needed that free offer and never thought to unsubscribe even though we don’t even read those emails) — the list goes on.

Somewhere in the process of accumulating (and wanting to feel like we’re keeping up), our freedom and our clarity are lost. Not permanently so, but we forget them in the piles in our heads and in our homes.

Essentialism provided a series of perfect notes reminding me that an extra hour of sleep mean more productivity, not less; that if it isn’t a clear yes, it’s a clear no; and that with limits and boundaries we become limitless.

As much as we’ve been heard that ‘less is more’, the concept takes time to integrate. This book does a brilliant job of helping with those illustrations, and at the end, I was sold on being an essentialist in everything I do.

For me, the biggest struggle is the art of the graceful no — or how to say yes to the things that really matter. It’s not that I forget what really matters, only that I love helping people so much in my business, I sometimes fail to see the trade-off — what free time I might be losing by taking on another project. My new mantra? “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” Those extra moments of reflection are key for creating space.

Obviously, there’s so much more I could talk about and dive into here, I’ll let you find the gems that suit you perfectly. I guarantee, by the end, you’ll be transforming into an Essentialist too.

On Amazon: Essentialism

The 2013 Project

books_shutterhacks

In 2012, I read 85 books. Some were recommended by friends. Others I sought out. A few serendipitously crossed my path as I wandered around my local library.

For 2013, I decided to do something different. I began asking a few of my particularly close friends for a short list of books that have influenced them or changed their perspective on the world.

It makes sense: ask the people who have inspired me most to share what’s inspired them.

I started to reflect on what books have most influenced me in the past. Here’s the shortlist:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Blue Truth by David Deida
The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

I’m still getting lists in. Some books have been suggested twice. Others are a bit more obscure and hard to find. But I really can’t wait to read these books — and getting to know my friends better as I do.

My 2013 Project list is on Goodreads — you can see all the books I’ve read there. And if you ever want to talk to me about a book, just drop me an email!

Now tell me: What books have inspired you the most? Leave your list below so I can check them out! I’d love to add some of your recommendations to my 2013 project list!

{photograph by shutterhacks}

The Crown of Embers {a giveaway}

A few weeks ago, a special package arrived in my mail box. In it was a sweet note from a friend and an advanced copy of The Crown of Embers, the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. (This package was better than Christmas and my birthday, combined, and I spent several minutes dancing in glee.)

Since first reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I have been telling everyone I know to pick up a copy. Rae is an incredibly compelling storyteller and creates a world that you wish you could physically drop into. There are unexpected twists and turns (I promise you won’t see them coming), and your heart aches for the characters. Aches. (Especially in her latest book.) But what ranks her books among my favorites ever is her powerful message for women, whether you’re 16 or 31 or whatever age. Her books are about a young woman discovering how incredible she is, loving for all the right reasons, and finding her power.

The Crown of Embers is officially released tomorrow, but as I have an extra preordered copy arriving by post to me, I thought there would be no better way to celebrate and get a few more people addicted to Rae Carson’s novels than with a giveaway.

Here’s what you get: The Girl of Fire and Thorns AND The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson AND homemade cookies or some other treat from me, to sustain you because you won’t want to move once you start reading.

Here’s what you need to do: Leave a comment below and tell me something awesome about yourself. Sing your praises. Comments without an awesome you-fact won’t count.

Other details: The winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Open to US and Canadian residents only (sorry other fantastic people). One entry per person Contest closes at 9pm EST tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Winner will be contacted by email and this post will be updated with the winner’s name.  For those of you who don’t win, go out and buy this book and its prequel. Trust me.

WINNER! Random.org chose #15 – bonnie. Congrats!

{photo by me. this giveaway was entirely my idea and all books are paid for by me. neither the publisher nor author are involved.}

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.