I don’t now about you, but I love peaking into the lives of likeminded folk, to learn about what lights them up, inspires their dreams, or gives them hope. Hearing about the places they enjoy going, what they listen to, what they find delightful, fuels my imagination, whilst also refocusing my attention on all the things in my own life that are blessed or inspiring.
My very favourite examples of peering into other's lives are the regular sharings of Marianne Elliot and Alexandra Franzen, as well as the inimitable musings of Maria Popova in her blog Brain Pickings. I could (and often do) get lost for eons in Maria Popova’s interwoven explorations of ideas, people and philosophies.
With my appreciation for these wonderful women in mind, I wanted to share with you a love-list of what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and experiencing in 2015. Some of these are old favourites that have been with me for years without ever growing old. Others are sparklingly new, and exciting. I hope you find herein something to light you up. I’d love to hear about your own inspirations or how you enjoyed any discoveries from this list, on my Facebook page here.
YOKE magazine. Have I mentioned I love YOKE magazine? I think I’ve talked about it about a thousand times this year, but here I go again. YOKE magazine. Sydney original. An ethical, fascinating and powerful read about the lives of artists, yoga practitioners and everyone in between.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali with commentary by Swami Venkatesananda – specifically this version. I stumbled on this editionof the sutras in an ashram, and for the first time could really relate through humour and insight, to this ancient text. This version is hard to track down for less than seven hundred dollars, but I found one at abe books for only $25 when I waited a while for it to pop up. It was worth the wait.
Danielle La Porte blog. Simple. Astute. Savvy. Fresh. Her regular emails are among the only mailing lists I receive that I am excited to open and read - even on busy days.
Resilience by Anne Deveson. I’m now reading this book for the third time. I borrowed it first when I was in my early twenties, then again a few years ago. On my birthday this year my partner gave me my own copy, and now I’m reading it once more. Every read reveals layers of new understanding about this vital human quality of resilience. Where we find it, how we cultivate it, how we lose or miss out on it, and what we can do to strengthen it in our communities and ourselves. Seamlessly weaving research with memoir, this is my favourite example of literary non-fiction.
Yoga and Body Image. I pre-ordered this book before it was published. That's how excited I was to read it. It didn't let me down. 25 essays from incredible teachers, practitioners and thinkers from a range of genders, skin colours and walks of life. A refreshing and much-needed conversation that nourishes me every time I open it up, which I;m stilling doing a year after first reading it.
Mary Oliver - Wild Geese, Selected Poems. My favourite book of poetry from my favourite poet, who never fails to make life juicier and more intimate. I’ll let Mary Oliver speak on her own behalf through her poems, since she has a way with words I cannot begin to eludicidate. You can also hear a wonderful interview with Mary on my favourite podacst here.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. A few days after it arrived in the post last month, I read this book in a single sitting. I haven’t yet gone back to revisit it’s contents but I suspect I will time and time again. An invaluable perspective on creativity and inspiration from a woman who certainly walks her talk.
The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou. Honestly, Maya Angelou led a life that is more than enough to justify a tome like this. The biggest book I’ve read since Shantaram, and absolutely captivating from the very beginning. It tells a tale of one woman’s sincere liberation, not only from the constraints of life in the deep south of the USA during the era of the KKK, but of her own self-limitations across decades. A remarkable life.
Meditations From The Mat by Rolf Gates. This book is my daily go-to. Literally. Every day I read a page of this book on my yoga mat to start my practice. Even when I don’t do a full physical practice I still sit and open a page and contemplate it for a few minutes in silence. Each page of my copy is dog-eared, and both the front and back covers have worn off after years of carrying it in my gypsy life.
The Guardian Weekly. With so much media providing overwhleming or unclear messages, this publication is my go-to for reliable updates of what's going on in the world beyond my yoga mat. Reading the news is something I often find disturbing, but also invaluable as it widens my circle of compassion and keeps my feet firmly on the ground in my work with social activism.
I don’t watch that much really, since I don't have a TV. But I love a good TED talk, sneaky iview time on my laptop when I'm tired, or a good movie. A couple of these are clips that others shared on facebook, which I found unforgettable.
I'm not a 'dancer' per se, but I LOVE to dance. Almost as much as I love to dance, I love to watch dancing. This little dance clip is right up there with those that have won my heart thanks it its pure playfulness and joy.
Learning to Drive. I saw this film a couple of weeks ago with my 92 (almost 93) year old Grandma. We both thought it was delightful - despite the cheesy rom-com trailer it. It's a human tale so simple and touching, it reminded me one of my favourite films of all time - The Visitor.
The Honourable Woman. It’s been years since I got hooked on a TV series, but this 8-part political thriller was an exception. Despite the disturbing and sometimes harrowing nature of the content, its extraordinary acting and plot held my interest over 8 weeks of Iview devotion, as the series explored the complexities of conflict in the middle-east.
Embracing Pain - A three minute intro the the work of Joanna Macy, whose book Active Hope I mentioned above. The writing and speaking of this matriarch of activism and spiritual connection has fuelled much of my own work these past few years.
Anything from the 80s or early 90s whilst dancing ridiculously and shamelessly around the living room (wonderful alone, but extra points if you can recruit your family/friends to join in your shenanigans).
Spotify. I barely open iTunes anymore. Spotify has changed my experience of how I listen to music. I now explore other people’s playlists and music collections and regulalry discover something new. Great for creating playlists for yoga classes and workshops....
‘On Being’ Podcast. Since I discovered this podcast earlier in the year when listening to an interview with Mary Oliver, I’ve been listening to at least one episode each week. In-depth conversations with diverse people, from nun,s to university professors and social activists, talking about what lies at the heart of their life and values. So enriching.
Michael Franti Live– see him if you can! He offers himself with absolutely unapologetic loved-up glory and had a rooom full of awkward wollongong uni students hugging and singing together about the joy of connection. Seeing him borders on a gospel gathering in a refreshingly non-evangelical way, but rather infectious and inspiring.
Many of these are less about direct links and more about prompts and possibilities based on things that I've experienced this year that have filled me up and lit me up all at once.
Yogaglo. I’m hooked. I adore having access to some amazing senior teachers in my own home. It’s a pretty amazing model they’ve created, and affordable too. Though of course nothing can replace my love of a real in-the-flesh yoga class. A rightly so, because the livelihood of yoga teachers and vibrancy of the yoga student community rely on us doing not only online classes but also group classes together.
Group yoga practice by the beach in my town. The yoga teachers and student community in my area have been gathering every few months for a sunrise yoga practice together on a headland overlooking the ocean. It’s a great way to come together and share our love of this practice.
Camping by a river. I recently camped on my uncle's sprawling land beside the Wollondilly River with a motley crew of family and friends. A river anywhere will do as long as you can swim, watch fish leaping, and generally lollop around in a playful way for a day or three.
The Flame Tree Community Food Co-op. There’s nothing quite like a food co-op or farmers market to gather the community around quality, ethical food. We’ve always come together around food as humans, but the big supermarkets are pushing the relationship between growers and consumers to the margins. I love my local food co-op …it reminds me that we can create incredible things together when we put our hearts and minds into it. Is there one near you?
Once a month I meet with a group of five creative women for a 'Mastermind' morning - which basically means we get to talk about where we're at in our projects and lives, drink tea, munch on fresh fruit and laugh at ourselves and this mad, wonderful life as we figure out how to move forward towards our dreams. The creative life can get lonely at times as we tap away at our projects in our own heads, so coming together is a refreshing change in routine. It was started by the wonderful Kelly Ryan, who has since moved on to have her bub in the Hunter Valley. Starting your own group is as simple as identifying creative people in your area and inviting them to get together for a focused, creative catch-up.
That's about it for now. Hope you've found some juicy inspiration - as I have - among this list of goodness.
I'll sign off with Mary Oliver, since she tends to say things best...