July 2009

Letters to a Young Artist

It’s definitely no secret that I’m a huge Julia Cameron fan. Cameron’s books have helped carry me through so many tides when no raft ever seemed to be in sight. I attribute The Artist’s Way as the thing that saved me from utter insanity and despair after losing a job, and have simply devoured many of her texts since.

That’s why I was a little surprised when I read Letters to a Young Artist. Cameron’s normally supportive yet firm voice seemed to be much firmer than normal, which left me feeling a little displaced. In the book, Cameron addresses a young artist (the reader) who is hypothetically sending her letters. She offers the artist advice, disrupts his/her complaints and excuses, and basically tells him/her to get to that page, already!

A Library of Gratitude

Though gratitude seems to be a fad these days—with everyone from Oprah to the makers of The Secret promoting being grateful every day—the fact remains that gratitude is one of the most powerful, moving things that exists.

Think of the moment you change your thinking from resenting your lot in life to being grateful for what you have—or even for what ills have befallen you. What happens? You start to feel lighter. Things seem to be just a bit less bleak—perhaps even brighter. And speaking from my own experience—as well as dozens of people I’ve known—I know that it also gets bigger over time until you start to feel good much more often than you feel badly.

365 Ways to Live a Simple and Spiritual Life

Our last spiritual book review covered something you can do every day in order to make a difference in the world. Today I’d like to share another simple but meaningful edition that offers another daily dose of spirituality and simplicity.

365 Ways to Live a Simple and Spiritual Life by Madonna Gauding provides a daily dose of a broad range of spirituality. Gauding shares that this book depicts her own spiritual journey, and covers a wide range of topics, from spirituality to a healthy home environment, debt reduction to alternative gift-giving, preventative health care to free (or nearly so) entertainment. Gauding says of our hectic world, “Somewhere along the line we have confused standard of living with quality of life. And clearly they are not the same.”

The Difference a Day Makes

If you feel a bit helpless in today’s world—with so much economic hardship, war, and violence in the news bombarding you from every angle—and think just one little person can’t make a difference, think again. History is full of people who made huge contributions all on their own, from Mother Theresa to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. Each one of these people started small, just like you and me, and worked to accomplish great things.

But you know what? You don’t even have to do great things to make a difference. Like ripples in water, a single person can touch people for miles and miles and not even know about it. The kindness you share with a single soul today could affect hundreds tomorrow.

Heart Steps

Julia Cameron’s works have been known to touch millions of peo

ple, change lives and empower people who never even toyed with the idea of art to beco

me full-fledged artists. Heart Steps: Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life is no different from any of her other works in this regard.

Have you ever tried an affirmation—a short, specific thought or saying to repeat to yourself over a period of time in order to empower yourself? Something like “I am powerful and brave” or “I ace every interview with ease”? Many people attempting to lose weight, abandon low self-esteem and infuse their lives with positivity utilize affirmations to bring about these changes.

Your Life is Your Message

The title of this small book grabbed me as soon as I saw it, and I’m very glad that I decided to check it out. Eknath Easwaran’s Your Life is Your Message: Finding Harmony with Yourself, Others and the Earth is a thin, seemingly plain book that’s filled with bite-sized morsels of spirituality that will seep into your veins like waves of nirvana.

Easwaran, who was friends with Mahatma Gandhi, shares lessons he’s picked up throughout his life from Gandhi, his own grandmother, and many other sources. He delivers a very simple message: in order to change the world—whether we want to stop wars, help the environment, or solve hunger—we must always first start with ourselves. In fact, he maintains, we can change the world just by changing ourselves. He offers short anecdotes and spiritual lessons throughout the book to help us do just that.