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Book Review: The Art of Fear by Kristen Ulmer

Fear can be a powerful thing. It can bring us to our knees, freeze us in our tracks, and paralyze us. It can warn us of danger – either real or imagined. Fear can also motivate us and drive us, then sabotage us right before we’re about to receive what we’ve been striving for. Fear can also be moved past and turned into a positive factor in our lives. This is what Kristen Ulmer discusses in her book, The Art of Fear

It is so important to keep fear from biting us in the back when we’re trying to do great things. For many, the fear of failure keeps them from acting on their dreams, for others, the fear of success can be a powerful demotivator. Ulmer implores us to reshape the way we think of fear – to shift our thinking from fear being a weakness to the idea that fear is, instead a natural emotion, a “curiosity.” If you’ve been struggling with fear, this book can help you to reshape the way you think about its role in your life. 

About The Art of Fear

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 13, 2017)

A revolutionary guide to acknowledging fear and developing the tools we need to build a healthy relationship with this confusing emotionand use it as a positive force in our lives.

We all feel fear. Yet we are often taught to ignore it, overcome it, push past it. But to what benefit?  This is the essential question that guides Kristen Ulmer’s remarkable exploration of our most misunderstood emotion in The Art of Fear.

Once recognized as the best extreme skier in the world (an honor she held for twelve years), Ulmer knows fear well. In this conversation-changing book, she argues that fear is not here to cause us problems—and that in fact, the only true issue we face with fear is our misguided reaction to it (not the fear itself).

Rebuilding our understanding of fear from the ground up, Ulmer starts by exploring why we’ve come to view it as a negative. From here, she unpacks fear and shows it to be just one of 10,000 voices that make up our reality, here to help us come alive alongside joy, love, and gratitude. Introducing a mindfulness tool called “Shift,” Ulmer teaches readers how to experience fear in a simpler, more authentic way, transforming our relationship with this emotion from that of a draining battle into one that’s in line with our true nature.

Influenced by Ulmer’s own complicated relationship with fear and her over 15 years as a mindset facilitator, The Art of Fear will reconstruct the way we react to and experience fear—empowering us to easily and permanently address the underlying cause of our fear-based problems, and setting us on course to live a happier, more expansive future.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Meaghan M. Golden

About Kristen Ulmer

Kristen Ulmer is a facilitator who draws from her tenure as the best woman extreme skier in the world for twelve years and from thousands of hours facilitating clients on the subject of fear. Her work has been featured on NPR and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Outside magazine, and many other publications. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Find out more about Kristen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Book Review: It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson

Who doesn’t love a cheesy Lifetime movie? I’m a huge fan of them myself, and sometimes I give into the guilty pleasure of following along some whacked-out tale that gives me the warm fuzzies at the end. That’s kind of how It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson is. This novel is pure guilty-pleasure reading. It’s a very quick read, perfect for sitting with by the pool this summer.  Have fun with a romp in the Hamptons, living large alongside Katie Doyle. 

About It Happens in the Hamptons

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 9, 2017)

In the Hamptons, everyday people are as complicated and fascinating as millionaires…

When Katie Doyle moves across the country to the Hamptons, she is hoping to find summer employment, new friends for her young son, and a chance to explore a new love affair with George, a dazzling investor. What she finds is a strange cocktail of classes, where society’s one-percenters vacation alongside local, hardworking people who’ve lived in the Hamptons for generations. Though she’s looking forward to her move, Katie is wary about mingling in her boyfriend’s East Coast elite circles. She soon discovers Southampton isn’t all that it seems to be on the surface—and neither are the people who live there.

As George takes Katie on a whirlwind tour of country clubs, haute couture, and lavish events, Katie is amazed to witness sudden whims becoming dire needs, extramarital affairs blossoming right and left, and people purchasing friends and loyalties like a pair of shoes. Even the middle-class townspeople maintain determined façades while maneuvering like sharks among the wealthy summer invaders.

The more Katie becomes immersed, the more she learns the stories of both the upstairs and downstairs, the upper crust and middle of the road. The combustion between classes becomes explosive as the summer tears on. Betrayals, a sexual predator, and a missing person lost in murky waves drive the reader on a racing Learjet through impossible twists and turns before landing at the shocking conclusion. When Katie meets Luke, a marine biologist and teacher, he makes her what it is she really wants as she understands the life she’s begun for herself is built on shifting Hamptons’ dunes.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Eric Strifler Photography

About Holly Peterson

Holly Peterson is the author the May 2017 social satire fiction release, It Happens in the Hamptons. In 2016, she curated an outdoor cooking book, Assouline’s Smoke and Fire: Recipes and Menus for Outdoor Entertaining. In 2014, she published The Idea of Him and of the New York Times bestseller The Manny in 2007.  She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Award-winning Producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering everthing from trials of the century to global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Town and Country, The Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Decor, Departures and numerous other publications.

Find out more about Holly at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

The Teenager Graduated and Baby 4 is Here

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks involving a high school graduation AND a birth. The upswing? There is a beautiful and healthy new baby in our lives, the teenager gets to go off to college in August, and I’ll be able to enjoy a glass of wine with Wining Husband on our anniversary in a couple weeks. The downswing? Baby 4 is here due to an emergency induction.

First, the graduation. The teenager blows me away with how accomplished he is at 18. You should see the stack of medals and awards he has accumulated. I do not think it is possible to be more proud of him than I am. He’s going off to college on multiple performing art and merit scholarships in the fall. I want to eat up as much time with him as possible before he heads off. I am so glad I got to see him walk across the stage. On Monday, it didn’t look like I would be able to do that.

 

From Low Risk to a Cause for Concern

In March and April, I was hit by a nasty, nasty respiratory virus that knocked me out for a few weeks. On top of it, I had some family issues going on in the background, that evidently were enough to create a good amount of stress. I noticed at my doctors’ appointments that my blood pressure, normally in the 115/60 range, had started to creep up. I was gaining more weight than is normal for me at the end of pregnancy. I started to look for other warning signs and red flags for preeclampsia.

On Thursday, May 4th, I woke up and my feet were extremely swollen.   I put my feet up and tried to stay off of them as much as possible until my OB appointment in the afternoon. The swelling did not go down, even though I was resting. I even took a nap on my left side. We got to my appointment, and my blood pressure was the highest it had been. They collected a urine sample, and I was sent home with instructions to go right into labor and delivery should I develop a headache or visual disturbances. 

Will I Make Graduation?

I heard nothing back on Friday, so I assumed no news was good news. However, I continued to feel worse in terms of fatigue levels. Saturday we did graduation prep – we got decorations and the teenager’s graduation gifts. I’d intended to finish up any client work and an outstanding customer order over the weekend, but just heading out for that bit of activity wore me out. I felt that something was wrong, very wrong. It was more than just anxiety. I knew there was something not right. I took it easy, only because I had no choice. I couldn’t focus, and I felt like heck. On Sunday, the contractions began – but they wouldn’t get regular. I started to worry I wouldn’t make it to Tuesday’s graduation.

Late Monday afternoon, I finally heard back from my doctor’s office. It turned out I DID have protein in my urine and glucose. They wanted me to come in again the next day, Tuesday, for further evaluation.  

A Very Risky Situation

I went in. My blood pressure was very elevated, over the 140/90 threshold. I still hadn’t had a headache or vision disturbances, but I did feel really out of it. Plus, I was nauseous and having horrible heartburn. I also was having a hard time catching my breath. Just the short walk from the bed to the bathroom was wearing me out. My OB wanted me to go in for immediate induction, but she agreed that if I could pass the non-stress test that I could go to graduation and then head in for induction right afterward. I was hooked up to the monitor, but Princess Ladybug was fluttering all about and they couldn’t get a good tape on her. So, it was off for a biophysical profile ultrasound to ensure that she was safe. 30 minutes later, I was cleared to head to graduation. I was in a world of back pain, but I ate, I visited with my sister who had come in to support my teenager for graduation, and then I rested with Princess Boogie Oogie and the Chunky Monkey until it was time to head to graduation. 

Mid-graduation, my head started to hurt, and my ears started to ring. I started to feel even worse. I was very glad I was being induced soon. I watched the teenager walk across the stage, clapped, watched the closing, took pictures, scarfed down some food, dropped the small people off at their grandparents’ house, made sure the teenager got to his grad night celebration, and headed in to begin the induction. When we got in, my blood pressure was the highest it’s ever been in my life. I felt completely awful. 

19 Hours Later…

19 hours of unblocked (no epidural, no pain medication) natural except for Pitocin labor later, Princess Ladybug made her appearance. There was cord compression going on, and I tried to remain calm for the purpose of getting her into this world as quickly and safely as possible.  I was 38 weeks along, she was 6lbs 11oz and 19.75″ long. My husband cut the cord, and my sister was there for the entire birth…and yes, I was making goofy jokes and faces on a yoga ball when I was dilated to 7 cm because I was trying to remain calm and focused to get through the pain and get baby here as soon as possible. By that time, my blood pressure had returned to normal, and the headache had turned into a hunger and thirst headache. The swelling had gone down a good bit. My OB decided not to give me magnesium sulfate unless the headache persisted through eating, having some caffeine, resting, and hydrating. Baby was examined by the pediatrician – and she looked great!  

We Got to Go Home!

The next day, after the 24 hour testing for myself and Princess Ladybug, we were able to go home. Everything had returned to normal for me, and Princess Ladybug was doing great. She’s the smallest birth weight of my 4 kids.  I still have to be on the lookout for any sudden change – particularly a headache that won’t go away or blood pressure that goes up for the next 6 weeks. Moreover, because I had preeclampsia, I’m now at an elevated risk for preeclampsia should I become pregnant again and my stroke and heart attack risk have doubled. It’s really important (as if it weren’t before) for me to stay on top of my health. I’m not going to lie. I’m an emotional wreck. I’d been hoping that in a couple of years that we would try for the last baby, baby 5. Now, we’ll see what my OB says. That may be too risky to my health and that baby’s health. I have four kids who need me earthside. 

Preeclampsia Warning Signs

The thing that saved both mine and Princess Ladybug’s lives was familiarity with the warning signs of preeclampsia. I had a mild case of it that could have become much worse had I not had great medical care and raised a concern over the swelling. Here are the warning signs. Share them with the women you know. It’s also important to note that you might not feel any symptoms, hence why its so important to have regular prenatal care where your blood pressure and labs are carefully monitored.

  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher, or significantly higher than your baseline – 15 degrees for diastolic, 30 degrees for systolic).
  • Protein in your urine
  • Swelling – particularly in the face, hands, and feet
  • Headaches that do not go away with Tylenol, food, water, or rest
  • Sudden onset of nausea or vomiting after mid-pregnancy 
  • Abdominal and/or shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Weight gain of 2 or more pounds in a week
  • Vision changes including flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity or blurry vision and spots
  • Super fast and strong reflexes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety, racing pulse, mental confusion, or a sense of doom

I was lucky, as my symptoms largely disappeared during late labor and after birth. Many women are not so lucky. Preeclampsia occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period in 5-8% of pregnancies. It can progress really quickly after 20 weeks. Preeclampsia, HELLP Syndrome and eclampsia are responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 infant deaths every year.

You can learn more about preeclampsia and learn how you can help with research on this disorder at the Preeclampsia Foundation’s website. 

I am running behind on book reviews, client work, and customer orders at the moment. I am doing my best to work through the backlog, but my health has to come first. 

I am so glad and so thankful that Princess Ladybug and I are both here in this world. 

Review of How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of different interests. In fact, while I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be a writer, it hasn’t been easy eliminating other potential career paths. I also LOVE architecture. In another lifetime, I’d totally be an architect. Maybe I’ll go back to school and get an MFA in fiction writing…oh wait, maybe I’ll go and do a MPA and work for the city. I already have an MA in philosophy and most of a Ph.D. in the same discipline, but for a while, I toyed with the idea of getting an MFA in creative writing and social justice then getting a joint Ph.D./JD in social justice law and political theory. Yup.  I can be a bit of a hot mess when it comes to deciding what I want to be – AND I’M GROWN UP…sort of…kind of…maybe.

So when I had the opportunity to review Emilie Wapnick’s How to Be Everything, I was really excited. Maybe now I could figure out how to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do within a lifetime. I love her concept of a multipotentialite, what I need now is a strategy for making that work in my favor. The chapter on productivity was especially helpful. Since I have so many projects all the time, keeping track of them and making sure I progress on the projects waiting in the wings can be a bit daunting. 

If you’re looking for a way to make it all work, this is a handy book to have on hand. What would you do if you could figure out how to be everything? 

About How to Be Everything

• Hardcover: 240 pages
• Publisher: HarperOne (May 2, 2017)

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a familiar question we’re all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don’t.

Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn’t make you a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” Your endless curiosity doesn’t mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.

How to Be Everything helps you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. Based on her popular TED talk, “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”, Emilie Wapnick flips the script on conventional career advice. Instead of suggesting that you specialize, choose a niche or accumulate 10,000 hours of practice in a single area, Wapnick provides a practical framework for building a sustainable life around ALL of your passions.
You’ll discover:
•  Why your multipotentiality is your biggest strength, especially in today’s uncertain job market.
•  How to make a living and structure your work if you have many skills and interests.
•  How to focus on multiple projects and make progress on all of them.
•  How to handle common insecurities such as the fear of not being the best, the guilt associated with losing interest in something you used to love and the challenge of explaining “what you do” to others.

Not fitting neatly into a box can be a beautiful thing. How to Be Everything teaches you how to design a life, at any age and stage of your career, that allows you to be fully you, and find the kind of work you’ll love.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Emilie Wapnick

Emilie Wapnick is a speaker, career coach, blogger, and community leader. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike.com, where she helps multipotentialites integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Unable to settle on a single path, Emilie studied music, art, film production, and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University in 2011. Emilie is a TED speaker and has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, The Financial Times, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker. Her TED talk, “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling,” has been viewed over 3.5 million times, and has been translated into 36 languages. She has been hired as a guest speaker and workshop facilitator at universities, high schools, and organizations across the United States and internationally.

Find out more about Emilie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Book Review: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

No matter how great life seems, things like depression, anxiety, and nervous breakdowns can hit at any time. For Mark Lukach, and his wife, Giulia, mental illness hit after Giulia turned twenty-seven. Lukach chronicles their life with mental illness and the way that mental illness shapes a marriage. The story that Lukach tells is poignant and page-turning. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to find out what was happening with Giulia whether she got better, and how Mark and their marriage fared through all of this. 

As someone who has suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety, it was really good to read a book from the perspective of someone who has been the partner of the person struggling against mental illness. I recommend this book and hope that it helps to de-stimgatize mental illness.

About My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (May 2, 2017)

A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Mark Lukach

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son, Jonas, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.

Book Review: Signs and Seasons by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

What’s your sign? I’m a Scorpio. Supposedly, that makes me intense, passionate, determined, loyal, and obsessive – among other things. While those are all qualities I possess, I’m not sure if they’re qualities I possess because I’m me or because I’m a Scorpio. Either way, it’s fun to think about the way that the stars we were born under affect our lives. In Signs and Seasons by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber with Chef John Oaks, the authors ask the question, “What are the best foods for each astrological sign?” They then provide a variety of recipes to answer that question.

As a Scorpio, my foods are “pumpkins, chocolate, oysters, artichokes, mushrooms, onions, beets and lobster” and my herbs are “cumin” and “garlic.” (26) That’s partly true…except I don’t like oysters, because slimy, and I’ve only had lobster once and wasn’t much a fan. Regardless of the accuracy, the recipes in the book look delicious, and it’s a fun way to choose a menu for your dinner party guests.  This would make a fun gift for a friend getting his or her own place for the first time. 

About Signs and Seasons

• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: HarperElixir (May 2, 2017)

Discover how to eat for your sign and nourish your soul in Signs and Seasons, the one-of-a-kind cookbook that pairs chef-driven seasonal recipes with deep insight into how astrology shapes our appetites, from iconic astrologer Monte Farber and artist Amy Zerner.

Food connects us to our families, history, culture, and to the natural world itself—to the seasons and the cycle of life. Just as our path around the sun—and through the Zodiac—dictates the seasons, the seasons dictate what will flourish, from the tender greens of early spring to late summer’s lush and impossible perfect tomatoes.

In Signs and Seasons, Farber and Zerner—along with chef John Okas—take home cooks through the four seasons and each of their astrological signs in over 95 tantalizing seasonal recipes that include starters; meat, seafood, and vegetarian mains; sides; and desserts for each sign.

Inspired by the cuisine of the Mediterranean, home of the Greco-Roman cultures that named the planets after their gods, Signs and Seasons teaches you how to:

·         Feed friends and loved ones based on their signs and the season

·         Deepen your understanding of Nature and the Universe

·         Discover how astrology shapes our personalities, tastes, and appetites

Whether exploring the “Twin nature” and “Mercurial spirit” of ramps (a spring delicacy well suited Geminis) in a recipe for Ramps al Olio or the historical association of saffron with Venus in the recipe for Roasted Corn Orecchiette, Signs and Seasons is the perfect guide for eating in a way that emphasizes both sensual nourishment and psychic satisfaction. Beautifully photographed in full color by Monte Farber and illustrated by Amy Zerner, Signs and Seasons is a one-of-a-kind source of inspiration for astrology enthusiasts and home chefs alike.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Authors:

Since 1988, AMY ZERNER, a U.S. National Endowment for the Arts award-winning fine artist, and her husband, author MONTE FARBER, have created what they call their family of “spiritual power tools,” including The Enchanted Tarot, Instant Tarot, Sun Sign Secrets, Karma Cards, Little Reminders: The Law of Attraction Deck, Chakra Meditation Kit, The Truth Fairy Pendulum Kit, The Soulmate Path and Quantum Affirmations. There are over two million copies of their works in print in sixteen languages. The couple lives in East Hampton, NY. They believe that adding love, light, and laughter to everything one cooks is essential to creating great meals and a great life.  More at www.theenchantedworld.net.

CHEF JOHN OKAS began his career in childhood, cooking alongside his Sicilian grandmother in their family kitchen. He has cooked at Paradox in Manhattan, Georgette’s in Easthampton, and the Captiva Inn in Florida. Under the pen name John Penza, he is the author of Sicilian-American Pasta and Sicilian Vegetarian Cooking. He currently lives in Bridgehampton, New York, where he is a personal chef and is also associated with the Highway Restaurant.

Book Review: Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet

What labels do you wear? I’m not talking about Coach or Gucci or Channel, I’m talking about the labels others have given you. “Supermom” is one that’s been thrown around at me. “Wife,” “Mother,” “Type-A,” “Introvert,” “Neurotic,” are others. When we receive labels, it can be hard to break out of them. I know in graduate school, receiving the label “outstanding Ph.D. candidate” made me extremely anxious. I didn’t feel like such a label fit me. In Maureen Chiquet’s Beyond The Label, she takes a hard look at the labels women have received and how we can break through from them to lead a life that is our own. 

The way she does this, however, is unique. She tells her own story of how she left college and the path that she took to become a CEO. Through her journey, she had to break out of every and label that had been set for her.  At the end of one chapter, she writes:

Long story short: No opportunity is ever too small to show you what you can accomplish, and no boss is ever so mean that you can’t learn something, even if it’s only to show you how not to lead. If you keep your eyes open, if you’re willing to reframe and recast what you’re seeing–yes to go beyond the label–you’ll find plenty of raw material to help you make your case.

It’s way easy to miss opportunities because we choose not to see beyond the label or because we choose to focus only on the negative. If instead, we turn around such experiences and look for what we can learn from them, this can help us to move forward to higher levels of success. Here’s a little insight into the way I do things: After I finish a project for a client or customer, I create a brief project closing document. In this document, I list what was involved with the project, a photo of the finished product if applicable, and I list off any challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned that cropped up. This helps me to continually improve my work process. 

Chiquet’s point is an important one – we need to rise beyond the labels we give things – both in our own lives and when looking at the opportunities and challenges that come our way.

How will you go beyond the label?

About Beyond the Label

• Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperBusiness (April 18, 2017)

The former global CEO of Chanel charts her unlikely path from literature major to global chief executive, guiding readers to move beyond the confines of staid expectations and discover their own true paths, strengths, and leadership values.

Driven. Shy. Leader. Wife. Mother. We live in a world of categories — labels designed to tell the world, and ourselves, who we are and ought to be. Some we may covet, others we may fear or disdain; but creating a life that’s truly your own, means learning to define yourself on your own terms.

In Beyond the Label, Maureen Chiquet charts her unlikely path from literature major to global chief executive. Sharing the inklings, risks and (re)defining moments that have shaped her exemplary career, Chiquet seeks to inspire a new generation of women, liberal arts grads, and unconventional thinkers to cultivate a way of living and leading that is all their own.

Through vivid storytelling and provocative insights, Chiquet guides readers to consider the pressing questions and inherent paradoxes of creating a successful, fulfilling life in today’s increasingly complex and competitive world.

“Why should we separate art from business, feelings from logic, intuition from judgment?” Chiquet poses. “Who decided you can’t be determined and flexible, introspective and attuned, mother and top executive? And where does it state standing unflinchingly in your vulnerability, embracing your femininity, won’t make you stronger?”

Wise, inspiring, and deeply felt, Beyond the Label is for anyone who longs for a life without limits on who she is or who she will become.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Maureen Chiquet

Maureen Chiquet began her career in marketing at L’Oreal Paris in 1985. She has worked at The Gap, helped launch Old Navy, and was president of Banana Republic before becoming COO and President of US operations of Chanel in 2003. In 2007 she became its first Global CEO, where she oversaw the business and brand’s world-wide expansion. She left Chanel in 2016 to focus on writing, speaking, and developing new leadership initiatives. She is a Trustee to the Yale Corporation and fellow of Yale University, where she graduated in 1985.

Book Review: The Compassionate Achiever by Christopher L. Kukk, Ph.D.

One of my other projects is a blog called “Activism My Way.” It’s a project I’m passionate about and that I’d love to work on more. I use the blog to encourage others to get involved in their communities and help others. I feel that being engaged in a community and doing service work is one of the important things that makes an individual well-rounded and can really propel an individual to success. Dr. Christopher L. Kukk has dedicated an entire book, The Compassionate Achiever, to achieving new heights of success through helping others. 

Kukk starts with the premise that compassion must be taught, and then outlines how to learn compassion. His book serves both as a study of compassion and how to develop it and a workbook with exercises that will help you to cultivate compassion within yourself.  For example, Kukk spends a section on open questions vs. closed questions to help develop your communication – and listening – skills. He gives a list of examples of each – and then asks that readers then convert their own closed questions into open questions. 

The Compassionate Achiever is a must-read for anyone who would like to expand his or her repertoire of success skills. In 2017, one of the best things we can do is help others. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who would like to cultivate compassion in themselves and in their team members. 

About The Compassionate Achiever

• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: HarperOne (March 7, 2017)

A powerful, practical guide for cultivating compassion—the scientifically proven foundation for personal achievement and success at work, at home, and in the community.

For decades, we’ve been told the key to prosperity is to look out for number one. But recent science shows that to achieve durable success, we need to be more than just achievers; we need to be compassionate achievers.

New research in biology, neuroscience, and economics have found that compassion—recognizing a problem or caring about another’s pain and making a commitment to help—not only improves others’ lives; it can transform our own. Based on the most recent studies from a wide range of fields, The Compassionate Achiever reveals the profound benefits of practicing compassion including more constructive relationships, improved intelligence, and increased resiliency. To help us achieve these benefits, Christopher L. Kukk, the founding Director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation, shares his unique 4-step program for cultivating compassion.

Kukk makes clear that practicing compassion isn’t about being a martyr or a paragon of virtue; it’s about rejecting rage and indifference and choosing instead to be a thoughtful, caring problem-solver. He identifies the skills every compassionate achiever should master—listening, understanding, connecting, and acting—and outlines how to develop each, with clear explanations, easy-to-implement strategies, actionable exercises, and real-world examples.

With the The Compassionate Achiever everyone wins—we can each achieve success in our own lives and create more productive workplaces, and healthier, less violent communities.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Christopher L. Kukk

Christopher L. Kukk, Ph.D., is a professor of political science and social science at Western Connecticut State University; founding director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation; and faculty advisor for the University and City of Compassion initiatives. He is also cofounder and CEO of InnovOwl LLC, a research and consulting start-up for solving micro and macro problems through innovative education. He was an international security fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a counterintelligence agent for the United States Army, and a research associate for Cambridge Energy Research Associates. He lives in Brookfield, Connecticut.

Find out more about Dr. Kukk at his website, and connect with him on Twitter.

Book Review: Extreme You

When you want to be successful, it’s important to find mentors and those you can learn from. Sarah Robb O’Hagan is one such person. She worked hard to get where she is, and she wants to help others climb the ladder of success. She talks about taking chances, letting go of pride, and proper planning. The great thing about her book, Extreme You is that she writes as though she’s talking to you over coffee or cocktails. This separates Extreme You from other books in this genre.  

The other thing I appreciate about Extreme You is that O’Hagan isn’t just some woman with a high-earning career. She’s also a mom, she’s someone who failed before she climbed the ladder, she’s a friend. It can be easy to dismiss women who are successful when you are a mother because you can say “but I can’t do that while I have young children” or “women can’t have it all.” Here’s someone who appears to have it all – at least from what I’ve read in the book and in the backstory. 

I recommend this to anyone who wants to get ahead and who is willing to put in the work necessary to be successful. 

About Extreme You

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: HarperBusiness (April 4, 2017)

“Every once in a while, you need someone standing by your shoulder, inspiring you, cheering you on, pushing you to go further. Sarah might be just the coach you’re looking for.”—Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

As a child, Sarah Robb O’Hagan dreamed she could be a champion. Her early efforts failed to reveal a natural superstar, but she refused to settle for average. Through dramatic successes and epic fails, she studied how extraordinary people in sports, entertainment and business set and achieve extremely personal goals. Sarah became an executive at Virgin Atlantic and Nike, and despite being fired twice in her twenties, she went on to become the global president of Gatorade and of Equinox—as well as a wife, mother, and endurance athlete.

In every challenging situation, personal or professional, individuals face the pressure to play it safe and conform to the accepted norms. But doing so comes with heavy costs: passions stifled, talents ignored, and opportunities squelched. The bolder choice is to embrace what Sarah calls Extreme You: to confidently bring all that is distinctive and relevant about yourself to everything you do.

Inspiring, surprising, and practical, Extreme You is her training program for becoming the best version of yourself.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Sarah Robb O’Hagan

Sarah Robb O’Hagan is an executive, activist, and entrepreneur, and the founder of Extreme You, a movement to unleash high performance. As the global president of Gatorade, she led its reinvention and turnaround, and she is the former president of Equinox Fitness Clubs. Named one of Forbes’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” she has also held leadership positions at Nike and Virgin Atlantic Airways.  She is now the CEO of the fitness company Flywheel Sports. A sought-after expert on innovation, brand reinvention, health, fitness, and inspiring human performance, Sarah lives with her family in New York.

Follow Sarah on Twitter, and check out the website for Extreme You.

Book Review: Head Strong by Dave Asprey

Years ago, in a galaxy far-far away known as junior college, I took a biological psychology class. In that class, we studied a lot of different things, but primarily focused on the brain and how its chemicals affected our personalities. It’s where I learned an overview of how to tell from a drawing if a child has been physically abused, and it was where I learned another tip that would serve me through my college years:

  • For optimal academic performance, be sure you’re in the same brain-state when you’re taking a test as you were when studying the material. If you had coffee while studying, be sure to have coffee while taking the test. If you were having a beer while studying, have a beer while taking the test. 

Now, it’s been some odd years since I took that class, so I don’t really remember the source of that advice – I can tell you that when it came to coffee, my favorite vice, I followed the advice. It appeared to hold true, but whether that is because of the coffee brain state or just because I studied well remains to be proven.

All that said, when I was offered the opportunity to review Head Strong by Dave Asprey, I was excited to take advantage of the opportunity. I am always looking for good ways to boost my brain power and be more productive, and Asprey promises results in two weeks. 

In the chapter on brain fuel, I was happy to see that my beloved coffee made the top of the list. I do kind of worry about the section on ketosis. During that alternate life in junior college, I also took a nutrition class. Ketosis is not a good thing, it’s a malnourished state. I know ketogenic diets and carb-cutting diets are very popular here in the United States, but it’s important to note that whether it is safe to induce this state is something that is highly debated among medical professionals. Taking ketosis too far can cause the breakdown of organs and muscle tissue, coma, and even death. Now, Asprey does mention that ketones can cause muscle damage. My advice? I’ve taken just one class on nutrition. It was years ago. I’m not up on the latest research. If you plan on inducing ketosis in order to create more brain energy, PLEASE check with your family doctor first.

He also has a chapter on foods to avoid. MSG, GMOs, Flouride, and other things I avoid because of their affects on my body and brain are in this chapter. For some people, they may call pseudoscience, but I have found if I avoid the things he talks about in this chapter, I do indeed feel better. 

The book is worth checking out and reading. I’m even more curious about trying bulletproof coffee (Apsrey happens to be the creator of the stuff) after reading it. I recommend it with the caveat that you may want to check with your doctor before making any drastic changes to diet. The book does have some great recipes and some good exercise routines for those without a lot of time. 

About Head Strong

• Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave (April 4, 2017)

From the creator of Bulletproof Coffee and author of the bestselling The Bulletproof Diet comes a revolutionary plan to upgrade your brainpower—in two weeks or less.

For the last decade, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey has worked with world-renowned doctors and scientists to uncover the latest, most innovative methods for making humans perform better—a process known as “biohacking.” In his first book, The Bulletproof Diet, he shared his biohacking tips for taking control of your own biology. Now, in Head Strong, Asprey shows readers how to biohack their way to a sharper, smarter, faster, more resilient brain.

Imagine feeling like your mind is operating at its clearest and sharpest, and being able—possibly for the first time in your life—to do more in less time? What it suddenly became easier to do the very hardest things you do? Or if you could feel 100% confident about your intellect, and never again fear being the person in the room who just isn’t smart enough, or can’t remember something important? How would you treat people if the mood swings, short temper, and food cravings that disrupt your day could simply disappear?

In Head Strong, Asprey shows us that all of this is possible—and more. Using his simple lifestyle modifications (or “hacks”) to take advantage of how the structure of your brain works, readers will learn how to take their mental performance to the next level. Combining the latest findings in neuroscience and neurobiology with a hacker-inspired “get it done now” perspective, Asprey offers a program structured around key areas of brain performance that will help you:

  • Power the brain with exactly what it needs to perform at its best all day long
  • Eliminate the sources of “kryptonite,” both nutritional and environmental, that make the brain slower.
  • Supercharge the cellular powerhouses of our brains, the mitochondria, to eliminate cravings and turn up mental focus.
  • Reverse inflammation to perform better right now, then stay sharp and energized well into your golden years.
  • Promote neuron growth to enhance processing speed and reinforce new learning—hotwiring your brain for success.

Asprey’s easy to follow, two-week program offers a detailed plan to supercharge brain performance, including: which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, how to incorporate the right kinds of physical activity into your day, a detox protocol for your home and body; meditation and breathing for performance, recommended brain-boosting supplements; and how to adjust the lighting in your home and work space to give your brain the quality light it thrives on.

A better brain—and a happier, easier, more productive life—is within reach. You just need to get Head Strong.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Dave Asprey

DAVE ASPREY, founder of the Bulletproof Executive blog, is a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur who spent fifteen years and over $300,000 learning to hack his own biology. Dave lost one hundred pounds without counting calories or doing excessive exercise; upgraded his IQ by more than twenty points; and lowered his biological age–all the while learning to sleep better in less time. Mastering these seemingly impossible things transformed him into a better entrepreneur, a better husband and a better father. Dave’s blog reaches 1.5 million unique monthly visitors, and his #1 ranked podcast has been downloaded 5 million times.

You can also connect with Dave on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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