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It’s past Memorial Day, so in these parts it means that summer is officially in session. I know that many people have a reading list for the summer. I have not been one of those people. I don’t tend to read books as a “start here, finish book, start the next” type of reader. I tend to pick up about four or five books and read them spottily and sometime finish them, sometimes not.

My bookshelf has been crammed with books that I thought would be great to read, but I’ve never gotten to them. In the quest to be more intentional and to actually do things that I say I want to do, I’ve decided to publish my summer reading list and write a review of each book after I’m finished. I don’t tend to read fiction and as you’ll see most of them have something to do with spiritual, career, or productivity matters (or all three at once!) I wish I liked to read fiction, but as you see they are all non-fiction

Here are the books that I’ve decided I want to try to finish this summer:

  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book has been suggested to me more times that I can imagine from so many people, and I understand this is about how we can be with our creative selves.
  • Transitions by William Bridges: Career development is all about changes, and this is the standard book in my field. I’ve never read it before, so this is sort of my “good medicine” that I really need to experience.

  • Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone: I, like so many, have some internal issues to work though, and this book was recommended by my friend Elsa (a mental health counselor) as a good resource for looking at this issue.
  • Planets in Work by Jamie Binder: Another recommendation from Elsa. I have been researching archetypes, and I’ve been looking at how those show up in astrological readings. This looks at how astrology could be used in career development decisions.
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: This book was given to me by Casey Miller and he read this many times on his cross country bike trip. I’ve seen videos of Tolle speaking, but never read any of his works. It’s about time.
  • Awakening in Time by Pamela Kristan: I was at a presentation Pam gave at the Theosophical Society of Boston, and Pam’s work has to do with the intersection of productivity and spirituality. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley. I had to see how I can incorporate her ideas into my work.
  • Living & Loving Well by Joseph Stuczynski: Joe presented at Easton Mountain a few years ago, and his work focuses on getting clear with our values in order to make good decisions in our lives, especially about our personal relationships. This is more of a workbook to clarify your goals, so this should be a quick win in getting it done!
  • Mastering Respectful Confrontation by Joe Weston: Joe is an amazing human being and presenter, and I have been to numerous workshops that he has done, and this book puts done in words what he preaches. Joe’s main concept is that the concept of power in our culture has gotten to be connected more with physical strength and power over others, and he bases his alternative vision on Easter philosophy as the power within and with other people, and how we can have conversations that empower everyone and don’t deny our own needs. This is great stuff!
  • Making It All Work by David Allen: I have been a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) fan for a number of years, as David Allen’s philosophy about personal productivity is all about how to free yourself from the stress of life and having a “mind like water” so that you can easily accomplish things in your life without fretting about them. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar last year that David personally taught, and Making It All Work is the continuation of those theories.
  • How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek: In 2008, I was part of an online weight loss challenge through (which I won!) and DIAKADI Body was the exercise consultants on this. Though continuing to follow their great advice, I found out about Paul Chek’s work, which integrates the concepts of health, exercise, and nutrition with a more holistic & spiritual sense that really attracted me. I don’t know it so well, but have liked what I’ve seen.
  • Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: This book was given to me by my boss back in the early 1990’s, and while I’m obviously interested in it, I never finished this book that was one of the first on the subject. It’s time. Thanks Dave!
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: Dan’s research into what makes us really happy (as opposed to what we say makes us happy) has been really enlightening to me, as I work with people to get at the core of their happiness.
  • Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good by Manuel Villacorta: In the aforementioned weight loss challenge, Manuel’s crew at MV Nutrition in San Francisco was invaluable to giving me the knowledge to eat better and lose weight. This is a new book that just came out last month, and again, I need to read it to remind myself of all the knowledge that I’ve learned (and maybe forgotten!) I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this book!

I might not get them all finished by Labor Day but it’s an intention (not at goal!).

So, what are you reading? Do you have any comments or experiences with any of these books?


Here are the most interesting stories I’ve found this week! Enjoy!

So, what’s gotten your attention this week?


I just got back from a great dance weekend where I got to contra dance, English Country Dance, waltz, and catch up with many friends who I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to in a while. This community has been a constant support to me and gets to the core of my creative life, which is music and dance in a GLBT context. In the story of the past few years, I’ve been exploring other parts of my life, and I’m now looking to see how I can integrate this part of me that has been  secure back into my life.

That, and I need to get back into dancing shape. I’m a sore puppy today, and I even tried to pace myself. I guess that and I’m not 25 anymore. More transitions.

What really touched me is that I connected with two friends, one who just started a new job and another unemployed and looking, and they both mentioned that they read this blog and have gotten either techniques, context, understanding, or all three. I try to bring whatever insight (or crazy idea) I have, and it’s nice to know that others have gotten benefit from it. I never know who reads this blog, so it’s nice to get some positive feedback, as that gives me impetus to keep writing.

As usual, I like to see this in the broader context of how each of us shows up in the world and makes an impact. It made my day that I found out others appreciated what I had to say, and that it made a difference in their lives.  You never know what it is that you have to offer will make a difference to others, whether it’s the knowledge you share, or the acknowledgment that you made a difference.

So, if this blog has helped you, let me know, and what ways are you making a difference to others?

As many of you know, I went through a big health and fitness transition a few years ago. I had a major illness ten years ago (burst appendix that wasn’t caught, leading to peritonitis and getting close to death) and after that, this man who had just completed the Boston Marathon three years earlier couldn’t exercise and ballooned up to 196 lbs.

Ken at his heaviest - 2006

That might not seem like much compared to other overweight people, but I’ve got a rather small frame and that’s a lot of weight on me (as you can see by the picture).  After my divorce and a lot of inner work, I managed through exercise and working with a nutritionist to lose 43 lbs., getting down to my lowest at 153 lbs.  This whole process was an issue of my taking control of my life and saying what was important and working toward that goal. I had a little set back from my illness about a year ago, and I’m about 10 lbs. over that weight, but I’m working to get that off again and get down to where I can get back into my 30″ pants.

Ken in 2009

I’m not much of a TV watcher, but one show I do like is The Biggest Loser.  While there is a lot of twists and turns to the show, that part I like about it is that people are facing the things that have been keeping them back, making good choices for themselves, and working consistently to make improvements to their lives.  It’s sometimes hard to watch, but it shows it’s not easy.

Last night on the show, one contestant, Arthur, who topped out at approximately 645 lbs., was voted off the show.  It was a very emotional time, as everyone there knew that he really needed to be there to help him live, but Arthur had also made a lot of bad decisions and had really upset a lot of people.  As Bob Harper posted today on his blog, Arthur made a lot of decisions out of fear, and usually those weren’t good decisions for him overall.

I see with my clients that many times people make a lot of bad decisions in their careers because they come out of a position of fear. What if another job doesn’t come up?, I should take this job because the economy is bad., I’ll never get a good job with my experience., etc.  Granted, I’m a firm believer in reality, and understand that you sometimes have to make compromises in your life, but what I’ve found many people do is shy away completely from the possibilities when it gets rough.  You have to know what you are facing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move forward.  If you know what you want and know what you need to do to get it, then all you have to do is follow your plan and take the action steps to do it.  This is living out of personal power instead of fear.  I think many people would have much happier lives if they worked this way.

So, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, what happens to a dream deferred, and what are you doing to take control of your dreams?

I’m riding the train this morning with a whole bunch of other people heading into the city, and I’m scanning their faces. Some look quiet and serene. Some look focused and tense. What is similar with all these people is that they are all heading somewhere for a purpose. For most, the purpose is to get to work.

The question of what gets you up in the morning is what motivates you. The word motivate makes me think of a car engine starting. It’s that initial spark that that initiates all other actions. For many, that spark is missing and coffee fills the void. Usually, what gets you going is something that answers one if your core needs. It could be the need to help another, complete a task, or to have motivated others to make a change that affects the world. We are all very individualistic in our motivations. That is why we gravitate to certain areas if work. I’m motivated by making a difference in people’s lives and having them acknowledging that with me. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be motivated in the field or architecture or engineering.

Many times when I work with clients, the issue of motivation if central to them feeling stuck. They can be successful in their current careers, but it doesn’t get them up in the morning. My sign in identifying that is what subjects make them talk more excitedly and get them to smile more. And it’s not just that they want to do those things, but the reasons behind them. This is another opportunity to work in your own personal power.  What do you want?

So, what gets your heart racing?

Note: To discover more about your motivations, consider coming to my career exploration workshop at Easton Mountain, Finding Your Calling: Making Connections Between Your Spirit and Your Work on March 18-20, 2011.  Please let your friends know about it!

I’ll be a guest speaker on The Quest of Life radio show on WRPI-FM on Friday, December 17, 2010 and my topic will be Connecting Your Spirit and Your Work. The next few blog posts will go into more talk about the points that I’ll be speaking on there.

Every day, I have to go out and go for a walk.  It can be a blizzard, but I need to go outside, even if it’s just to breathe the air for a few minutes.  I’ve mostly realized this when I’m in those situations of having to do a “working lunch” where I’m expected to sit inside all day, and I don’t get a break. I need it for the physical as well as the mental aspects.  I just need to get away from it all.  When I don’t get it, I’m a crabby, sorry monster. (Granted, this goes when I don’t get my tea in the morning too, but that’s something different.)

There are other aspects that are really important to me too, such as feeling respected by my co-workers for what I bring to the table, getting to work directly with others on problems, having others say “Thank You! You helped me do things I didn’t realize I could do.”, and other such things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  We all have these things for us, and what I’ve found is that they are different for every person.

Maybe for you, it’s really important to accomplish a project.  Maybe it’s that you get to work with a lot of people interaction. Maybe it’s that you have very little people interaction and a lot of quiet time.  Whatever it is, it’s what is important to you to do you work and feel good about it.  I always ask people to tell me about the situations where they have felt great about what they got done, and what are the circumstances of it.  It might be a boss that really was supportive, or one that just told you what to do and trusted that you’d get it down.  These environments are the fertile soil that you need to grow. Just like some plants grow best in full sun and others in sandy earth, we’re all have different needs.

So, what’s the environment that you need to grown?

Again, remember to let people know about the Finding Your Calling workshop at Easton Mountain, March 18-20, 2011!

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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