The past weeks I had this nagging feeling that I needed to keep up with Morrie&Me but I’m not going to bother you with guilt or regret for not keeping up. As life goes, other things require your time, energy and attention and that’s perfectly fine!
Although there are many great books to read, every now and then I feel like rereading one of the books I’ve read before. Sometimes I really liked the story, sometimes the book was very inspiring, sometimes for no particular reason at all. READ MORE
At this second day of 2018, I’d like to take a brief moment to look back at the past year. A year that has kept me so busy, especially the second half of it, that I barely had the time and energy to keep up with Morrie&Me.
Than what has been keeping you so busy? You might wonder… Well this year has been all about 3 big milestones for me and I can hardly believe how much has happened these past few months!
written by Martje Haverkamp & Emilie Sobers, published by Uitgeverij Unieboek | Het Spectrum bv
genre life-lessons, 188 pages
written by Bear Grylls, published by Transworld Publishers
genre non-fiction / self-help, 284 pages
Since my boyfriend kept mentioning this book I decided to give it to him as a birthday present. Not having any clue who Bear Grylls is and what the book’s all about. But as soon as I bought it, I realized I’d love this book as much as my boyfriend would. The 284 pages are filled with 75 precious life lessons, personal experiences and hard-earned wisdom. Written down by a man who not only knows how to stay alive in extreme circumstances, but also knows how to translate these experiences into the most down to earth, to the point and valuable life lessons. A book that had to be read!
Even though I’d not yet heard of the man, it turns out that Mr. Grylls is one of the most well known people around the world, when it comes to survival and outdoor adventure. Starting with training martial arts as a child, Bear joined the British Special Forces as a young man. While serving the 21 SAS he gained many experiences, perfected his skills and trained his heart and mind.
Over the years Bear Grylls has written 20 books and this one is an insider’s guide on how to follow your heart and live an empowered, effective, fun-filled life. As a former member of the SAS, Bear knows first handed how hard life’s challenges can be and how good it feels to keep holding on and to not give up.
A book filled with so many useful lessons can be hard to summarize. Picking my 5 favorite lessons might give you an idea why I loved this book and its author so much. So here they are :
And because it’s incredibly hard to pick only 5, I decided to give a little encore :
Do you get what I mean? It all sounds very logical and sometimes even funny. But we all struggle with motivation or inspiration sometimes. According to Bear, champions never stay down for long. That’s why we need to keep feeding motivation into our brains and souls every single day, that’s what this survival guide is all about.
Having read quite a lot of self-help books, this one is definitely one of the quickest and easiest reads of all. The 75 chapters are very short and concise, they all add a new lesson or insight and together they add up to one overall story. It’s a book that can be read in just a day or two, or to have laying around to pick up every now and then for just that piece of advise suitable for your specific situation or mood. If you’re in an instant need of motivation, this book will be the perfect cure!
– Bear Grylls
written by Inez van Oord, published by Kosmos Uitgevers
genre nonfiction / lifestyle, 263 pages
As long as I can remember, magazines always attracted my attention. Especially beautifully designed magazines, combining pretty pictures with interesting stories and topics. Being the founder of some of the most successful Dutch magazines, I’d heard of Inez van Oord before. I’d read her magazines and more recently found articles about her; about her life and the brave decisions she’s made. When I found out Inez had written a personal book about life, I just couldn’t wait to check it out.
Inez’ natural talent for identifying trends helped her to translate the elements that are missing in life, into magazines that can count on big fanbases. Her magazines Seasons (about living a pure and natural lifestyle) and Happinez (about living a spiritual and mindful life) are great examples of following your guts and making dreams come true. But despite her former success, Inez’ third attempt to set up a new magazine called ‘Humanize’, unfortunately didn’t work out the way she’d envisioned and left her with one question : What to do now?
That’s when creativity kicked back in and Inez decided to write the book she’d been thinking about for many years; a book about living life and finding your balance. The book that has been declared the best spiritual book of 2016. With this book, Inez got back on track and shows once more that following your dreams and guts can make you a very happy and successful person.
Having a lifelong fascination for circles (hence the typical Happinez cover design), this time Inez refers to life itself as a circle. A circle like a compass; a compass with ‘Mind’ as North and ‘Body’ being South, ‘Self’ as East and ‘Others’ being West. A compass to help us find our own balance within those four poles. A compass that can guide us back to the centre of it all, back to the essence of what makes life worth living.
The book is a quick and easy read and the illustrations that complement the stories make reading it even more enjoyable. The book can be divided into two parts. In the first section Inez explains the four quarters of the compass and links them to her own professional and personal life. She tells about her career in the magazine world, how it started and took shape, her struggles and successes. The second part of the book focuses on the reader. Inez hands us tools to help us find our way back to the centre of our own compasses.
To be honest, I read this book mostly because of the first part in which Inez tells about her career. The second part I’m sure can be very helpful for a lot of people, but I think I’d already found my answers to those questions via other ways. Nevertheless I loved reading this book, because it’s a good example of how the most honest and personal stories often are the most inspiring and can help others to make their own decisions.
written by Gretchen Rubin, published by Harper Collins Publishers
genre non fiction / self help, 292 pages
The first time I came across this book in a store I had just finished reading ‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion. Having loved reading Simion’s novel I felt drawn to ‘The Happiness Project’ immediately, hoping it would tell a similar story. But it did not.
Actually this is a totally different story and not at all what I expected, but it turns out that I like it even more!
One morning like many others Gretchen Rubin, a NYC-based writer and mother of 2 young children, has the sudden realization that she’s in danger of wasting her life. She feels like the years are passing her by and decides it’s time for a change. Not because she isn’t happy, but because she knows she can be happier.
Knowing nothing will change unless she makes it change, she decides to dedicate a year trying to be happier and starts her own happiness project. A project that results in a blog, a website and eventually turn into a book. The book that I’ve been reading, several times.
– Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen’s happiness project can be divided into 3 stages. First comes the preparation stage, a moment to identify what brings you positive feelings (such as joy and happiness) and what does bring negative feelings (such as guilt, anger and boredom). After that you focus on the making of resolutions, concrete actions that’ll boost your happiness. Goal of the final stage is the keeping of your resolutions.
Since all the great truths about happiness have already been laid out, Gretchen didn’t expect her findings to be new. But as for many changes, the difficulty lies within the action, not within the knowledge. Her methodical approach for putting her happiness ideas into practice in her life (including resolutions, commandments, secrets of adulthood and a scoring chart) makes it very easy to start of on your own project. Conquering your own idiosyncratic faults and limitations, changing your own life.
Gretchen Rubin shows in a very effective and enjoyable way, how to change your life, without changing it. Reading about her happiness project, her personal insights and experiences, is not only fun and interesting but also inspires you to start your own happiness project or just stick to some resolutions that you’re willing to keep.
To learn more about Gretchen, the Happiness Project and other projects she’s working on, have a look at her website.
written by Cheryl Strayed, published by Luitingh-Sluithoff
genre Memoirs / non fiction, 384 pages
With a fascination for traveling, especially in combination with soul searching and the contemplation of life, my boyfriend chose very well to give me the book ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed as a birthday present. Having seen the movie shortly after it came out, I hadn’t read the book yet. And as soon as the wrapping paper came off I couldn’t wait any longer and started reading immediately.
It’s the summer of ’95 when 26 year-old Cheryl makes one of the biggest and probably most impulsive decisions of her life. Four years after losing her mother, Cheryl finds her family scattered and her marriage broken. Accidentally coming across a book about the Pacific Crest Trail at a gasstation, she decides this is what she wants to do, this is what she needs to do. Not knowing what she is getting herself into, her adventure starts then & there.
With nothing left to lose, Cheryl sells most of her belongings and without any experience or training starts her 3-month journey. During those months she hikes 1700 km / 1100 miles from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to end at the ‘Bridge of the Gods’ in Washington State, all by herself.
During the book, we get to know Cheryl as a strong and independent woman, who’s determination helps her to heal her broken heart and become the woman she wants to be. The book presents a mixture of all the emotions, pleasures and terrors she has to overcome during her solo hike. We are there with her when she feels lonely, when she meets wonderful people, when she feels overwhelmed and when she’s terrified. Cheryl shows us a wonderful and inspiring example of how you can’t always control your circumstances, but can control the way you’re dealing with them.
Even though I read the Dutch translation, it’s obvious to me that Cheryl is a very good story teller. I loved how she intertwined passages from her past into the story of her hike, without becoming unnecessary personal or emotional. We get to know Cheryl and her situation very well and therefore get even more respect for the guts she shows and the choices she has made.
What I loved about the book was that it immediate takes you into the mindset and atmosphere of travel, the feelings of adventure, despite the discomfort and loneliness. This book resurrected in me the itch to travel again, starting on my couch reading lovely books like this one.
written by Annejet van der Zijl, published by Querido
genre literary nonfiction, 280 pages
During an interview on the Dutch television last year, Mrs. Van der Zijl – one the most famous authors of literary nonfiction in the Netherlands – mentioned that she just finished writing this book. She told the presenter how she, like most people, always is searching for something. How the writing of her books, the searching for the stories, keeps bringing adventures, new worlds and beauty into her life. This interview made me curious to read her newest work, a book about the amazing life of a beautiful woman.
Being the first biography I’ve ever read, ‘De Amerikaanse Prinses’ (the American Princess) totally blew me away. Allene Tew (1872-1955) was a woman who used her limitations as a motivation to give shape to her own life and managed to live the lives of many people in one single lifetime.
Growing up in Jamestown as a descendant of the first settlers in America, Allene was raised in an entrepreneurial environment. This childhood in combination with her good looks and adventurous character, were all that was needed for a life like no other.
Reading her story, we not only get to know a lot about Allene, her family, her friends and the social scenes she was being a part of. The book also tells us a lot about our history and gives an overview of the world as it was during Allenes life; the First and Second World War influencing daily life in both Europe and America, industrial revolutions, technical discoveries and developments and social changes making enormous differences to the lives of the people during the different eras of Allene’s life.
An informative and fascinating biography that tells us the story of a woman that was decades ahead of her time. A woman who despite many disappointments, sadness and difficulties, never let go of her dreams and ambitions. A strong and independent woman who, thanks to her resilience and perseverance, never lost courage and always kept moving on. A woman who can still be an example for women today!
The book was completed with pictures of Allene and her family during different life stages.
Reading this book was an absolute pleasure. Not only is Allene Tew’s life very intriguing, the way it was written, with all the background information, was as beautifully as the story itself. It could easily have been an overkill of information, a complex and exhausting book to read, but it was not like that at all. As soon as you start reading this book, you just want to know what is going to happen, how the life of this woman evolves, how she deals with the difficulties that come her way and how she keeps standing strong, no matter what.
– Annejet van der Zijl
“Maybe Allenes biggest achievement – even more than her wealth, her titels, her many houses and her imposing guestbook.
Was that she, despite what she had experienced and endured, had never lost the ability to enjoy her life and be grateful for it.”
– Annejet van der Zijl
starring the Minimalists, directed by Matt D’Avella
launched in 2016, 78 minutes
They say that ideas float through the air and all you have to do is grab them. If you don’t somebody else will, sometimes several people will. When I came across an article in the newspaper about people joining the Tiny House Movement in the Netherlands, in my mind it got immediately linked to the documentary that my boyfriend and I had watched the previous evening. A documentary definitely worth telling you guys about!
‘Minimalism’ is a fascinating documentary about minimizing your life. A life in which less means more. A lifestyle conflicting with the western ideal in which materialism equals happiness. We’ve all heard of Marie-does it spark joy-Kondo who taught us how to get rid off all the stuff that we don’t need. Well, for some people that is only the beginning.
– Ryan Nicodemus
In this documentary we get to know people that brought minimalism to an even higher level. For example Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, also known as ‘The Minimalists’.
We follow Ryan and Joshua on their tour through America. A tour on which they try to introduce this ideal of living a minimalistic lifestyle to as many people as possible. They go to conferences, give presentations and take part on radio and tv shows to talk about the significant difference changing from a consumeristic lifestyle to a minimalistic lifestyle has made. Both men are now feeling so much happier, no longer working long days to earn a lot of money to buy things they don’t really want or need.
The documentary introduces not just Ryan and Joshua’s version of a minimal lifestyle, but many more people that at a certain point in their life decided to take back control and live life differently.
What really inspires me is how they all explain that living a less excessive life makes life so much easier and enjoyable. There is no more worrying about what to wear when you can choose between five first choice-sweaters instead of a hundred seconds. Something simple like owning less clothes would surely make the morning ritual of many men and women much less stressful (not even mentioning what this would mean for our natural environment and the people working in all those mass production processes.)
Having watched this documentary and having read the article really helps and inspires me to keep focusing on the important things in life. To keep living my life intentionally, to make decisions that will increase mine and other people’s happiness, not just the number on my bank account. When living a more minimal life, life won’t be perfect, nor easy, but it will be simple.
– Joshua Fields Millburn
To learn more about the minimalists, have a look at their website.
written by Giulio Cesare Giacobbe, published by Mana
genre educational, 160 pages
As a yoga and pilates practitioner, I’ve always considered following meditation lessons as well. But I either couldn’t find the time or the right meditation class to actually do so. When my colleague, who’s an even more fanatic yogi, told me about this book, about the lessons it teaches you and how much it had brought her, I simply couldn’t wait to read it and start the course myself.
Giulio’s son Yuri was a Bodhisattva, a reincarnation of the Buddha. When Yuri was only 27 he past away and transferred his buddhism to his father. A man who unlike his son, considered himself to be an old sinner. But Giulio changed into a buddha. He found enlightenment and realized that it’s possible for everybody to become a buddha too. Buddhism no longer was just a theory to him, it became something real and finally resulted in this book.
Even though what you’re reading now is a book review. It would be more correct to call this a short course for getting a buddhist state of mind, in the form of a book. The book not only provides us with a clear and easy to understand explanation of the base principles on which a buddhistic mindset can be build. These principles have also been translated into a 5 week course that can be followed and completed by everybody who’s open and willing to do so.
It is not a book about religion. It’s a book about a psychological method with a practical goal; to end your mental suffering and achieve a permanent state of serenity. Perhaps this all might sound complicated or maybe even a bit far fetched. But don’t worry, it really isn’t. The writer explains the essence of a buddhistic mind in a very clear and easy to understand way. And the five assignments derive from this explanation very naturally. Really everybody can do this.
Reading the book is only the beginning. The writer proposes you first read the book completely, before starting the assignments that each take at least a week. I’ve read the book twice but haven’t finished all the courses yet. I prefer to take more time for each assignment and really let it sink in. But I’m sure that in some weeks, I as well will reach the ultimate goal and become a buddha. Wouldn’t you like to give it a try?
written by Mitch Albom, published by Doubleday
genre autobiography, 192 pages
A friend warmly recommended Tuesdays with Morrie to me, he said it’s one of the most wonderful and inspiring books he’d ever read. I bought the book and read it within just a couple of hours. That’s how Morrie came into my life, and I’m sure he’ll never leave.
This book is the final thesis Mitch Albom writes for his old professor Morrie Schwartz. Unfortunately Morrie has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and knows the end of his life is nearing. Morrie’s body is getting weaker every day. Despite this horrible disease Morrie focuses on the little joys that are left in his life, he surrounds himself with the people he loves and feels blessed for having the time to say goodbye.
One of his many visitors is Mitch, a former student who accidentally hears about the circumstances of his old professor when Ted Koppel of ABC-tv’s Nightline interviews Morrie for the first time*. After the show Mitch travels to West Newton to say goodbye to his ‘coach’, as he used to call Morrie, not knowing that this visit will be the start of the last class Morrie will ever teach; once a week by a window in his home study, discussing ‘the Meaning of life’. For this class no books are needed, the lessons are taught from experience. The class meets on Tuesdays.
Of course I’ve never known Morrie personally, but it’s clear to me the book breathes his voice, his passion and his positivism, which makes the content even more inspirational. I guess it’s impossible to honor a man like him and to write a book review that covers all the valuable lessons that can be learned, both from his words and his actions. Therefore I’ll share with you my own five favourite lessons Tuesdays with Morrie has given me about ‘the Meaning of life’:
Morrie teaches us that the way to get meaning into your life is to devote ourself to loving others, devote ourself to your community around us and devote ourself to creating something that gives purpose and meaning.
– Morrie Schwartz
Tuesdays with Morrie is a very personal and honest story. Actually it’s Mitch telling Morrie’s story; his wisdom and lessons and how the progressive illness he has to deal with impacts Morrie’s life completely. At the same time Mitch tells about his own life, about choices he has made and new insights he gets during his time with Morrie. He describes how the disease and Morrie’s dysfunctional body bring them closer every Tuesday. The book is both easy to read, and at the same time overflowing with life lessons. That’s why you might like to take a little more time to process all of Morrie’s wisdom. Many quotes will stick with you for a very long time, if not forever.
Having read this book, I just couldn’t get enough of Morrie – hence the name of this blog, as an ode to Morrie and all the other inspiring people and writers, who share their often hard-learned lessons and insights with us. While searching on the internet for more Morrie background information, I came across the actual interviews of Ted Koppel with Morrie, of course I have to share this video with you.
It’s funny how somebody you’ve never met, but whose words you’ve read, can feel so familiar and warm. Morrie’s lessons, his passion and his wisdom will live on for ever and ever. He was and still is a teacher. Have you ever had a teacher like this?