Let go, be bold, unfold!

If you aren’t following the Where is My Guru Facebook page, we’ve announced my first Book Guru book! I got to choose the book I’d take with me to a desert island. It took a little thought—and then I realized I had the perfect book.

Longtime blog readers will recognize this as one of my absolute favorites: Flora Bowley’s Brave Intuitive Painting. There’s a sneak peek from my much-loved personal copy, below. Isn’t it gorgeous? I am so excited to share this amazing book with WIMG’s listeners! If you are looking to tap into your own creativity and explore art, Bowley is an inspiring teacher. Read more on the WIMG blog or tune in Friday at at 11am to listen live!



Wow. Just wow.

It feels like a million things are happening at once. Wait, scratch that: a million fantastic things, including:

  • Nick, Jenn, & I were added to the Where Is My Guru About page. I do my first Book Guru radio segment this week. Friday! It’s going to be about a classic book that I love. Just wait, you’ll love the book. And we’ve decided on my second book which is new and exciting and will be released soon.  I am trying not to die of radio newbie nervousness in the interim.
  • It’s All Yoga, Baby ran my guest post on the Bikram scandal and abuse scandals in yoga on Friday, which is getting a really positive response from readers. Go on over and comment.
  • I realized that, because of the Daily Muse’s content sharing relationship with Forbes, my interview with Susan Cain from last year–about introverts at work–was on Forbes’ website. Which is hilarious, as this may be the only time “Forbes” and my name appear in the same sentence (I wish it was the billionaires’ list, but a girl can dream of book sales, right?). Susan Cain was an amazing interview, so if you’re an introvert or know an introvert, you’ll love her.
  • You should go vote for one of my favorite yoga blogs, The Bliss Project, by watching Manon’s video. She’s trying to win a contest to fund her yoga teacher training! It looks like fun!

What Do Happy People Know?

I was skimming Dan Baker’s What Happy People Know tonight and ran across this passage: “In childhood, our spirits were unbridled and unbroken…As we get older, though, and have to solve all our own problems, we become increasingly obsessed with what it takes to survive in this world. Our basic balance begins to shift–from spirit to survival–and we lose our love for life.”

Baker’s solution? Cultivating what he calls the “12 Qualities of Happiness,” which are:

  • Love
  • Optimism
  • Courage
  • A sense of freedom
  • Proactivity
  • Security
  • Health
  • Spirituality
  • Altruism
  • Perspective
  • Humor
  • Purpose

Baker describes these attributes in more detail, but it struck me as I was reading that the late Roger Ebert possessed many, if not all, of these qualities. Despite illnesses and physical limitations, he retained his sense of humor, wonder, and purpose in life. As this lovely Slate article by Dana Stevens mentioned, “Ebert [responded] to Siskel’s criticism that he tends to go too easy on “cheap exploitative schlock” like The Players Club with this telling reply: “I also have the greatest respect for you, Gene, but if you have a flaw, it is that you are parsimonious with your enjoyment, parceling it out as if you are afraid you will prematurely expend your lifetime share.” Joy—in movies, in conversation, in language, in life—was not something that Roger Ebert meted out parsimoniously. He had more than enough to last a lifetime, and now that he’s gone, he’s left so much behind.”

The NYT reviews “The Perfume Lover”

I’ve been sick, first with what I thought were early spring allergies, then with flu-like symptoms, for the past two weeks. But I’m beginning to feel a bit better and I can finally smell and taste things again. Isn’t it funny how much sense of smell impacts appetite? For a few days, the idea of eating left me cold. I couldn’t wait to feel better again. Luckily, my nose is coming back–and so is my interest in reading about perfume. I stumbled across this New York Times review of Denyse Beaulieu’s new memoir about perfume via the twitter feed of Victoria Frolova of Bois de Jasmin (@boisdejasmin). Beaulieu’s memoir, The Perfume Lover, is going on my Amazon wishlist. According to the NYT, the book blends perfume science with anecdotes from Beaulieu’s romantic life. She holds a doctorate in French literature, blogs at Grain de Musc, and is known in France for her work as an author and translator of erotic novels. She’s collaborated with L’Artisan Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour on Seville à l’Aube. According to the article:

The idea for the perfume was ignited when she and Mr. Duchaufour were swapping travel stories and she told him of being seduced by a young man during Holy Week in Andalusia.

“That was the most exotic story I could offer him,” Ms. Beaulieu said, adding, “Perfumers are like confessors.” After listening to all the details of her adventure, Mr. Duchaufour made 128 “mods” (industry-speak for versions) before he, with Ms. Beaulieu evaluating each one, arrived at a final interpretation of that lustful night, which took place against a fragrant backdrop of orange blossom, blond tobacco and frankincense from religious processions. 

Doesn’t that make you want to smell Seville à l’Aube? L’Artisan is a French niche brand known for their unconventional scents, like the woody and masculine Mechant Loup (translation: Bad Wolf!), the spices of the circus-inspired Dzing!, and Passage d’Enfer, whose name has a double-meaning. It is named for the company’s address on a street in Paris, which literally translates to “passage to Hell,” but something about the scent also reminds me of funerals. It smells like cold lilies and cedar chests, all at once. I ordered a bottle sight unsmelled years ago and could never wear it. I do, however, love L’Artisan’s Vanilia, which you can read about here. It’s a very smoky, spicy vanilla, not a cotton candy one. Sadly, it looks like the Vanilia I sampled a few years ago has been discontinued and possibly replaced by a Vanilla Absolute.

In a bit of book nerd kismet, the NYT reviewer is Laren Stover, author of two of my favorite books: The Bohemian Manifesto and The Bombshell Manual of Style. I love Stover’s fun, irreverent approach; she describes herself as a kind of “social scientist” exploring the cultures of 20th century bombshells and boho types. And her books are very perfume-friendly.


Blind Date With A Book

Have you heard of the “blind date with a book” concept? It’s a recent trend in library programming and sometimes combined with events for Valentine’s Day. Books are wrapped in concealing covers and readers check them out without knowing what’s inside. My friend & co-worker, Jamie, posted an article on FB about it. We decided we’d do our own little “blind date” book swap. I wrapped hers in pink and coral construction paper and doodled little designs on it, plus a clue to the actual book title. Any guesses?


It’s Annie Choi’s funny memoir of growing up Korean-American in California, Happy Birthday or Whatever. I chose it because I thought Jamie would appreciate Choi’s sarcastic sense of humor. Here’s the book she picked for me:
Recognize the border of the book? Pretty, right? It’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I’ve never read, but I hear is wonderful. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Other stuff I’m reading or want to read soon:

  • Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time 
  • Carol Horton’s Yoga PhD  
  • Christina Sell’s Yoga from the Inside Out 
  • Ruth Riechl’s Garlic and Sapphires 


Happy National Tortellini Day! Do you celebrate many holidays? I’m trying to celebrate more, so today I made cheese tortellini in broth for dinner. Yum! If you’re looking for ways to brighten your day, take a look at this calendar. The 17th is “Random Act of Kindness Day,” while the 31st of March is “Eiffel Tower Day,” y’all! I love it.

What I’m reading: Srikumar Rao’s Happiness At Work. He’s given a really nice TED talk on reshaping your attitude here.



Here’s my latest Daily Muse column on funny, odd, and strange true-life stories.

A fun discovery

Have you read anything from UC-Berkeley’s “Greater Good” center? Among their “core themes” of research and writing is happiness, as well as mindfulness and altruism. Explore here. Want something else fun to do this weekend? Take Keri Smith’s advice in the amazing How to Be An Explorer of the World  and uncover a mystery:




A sneak peek…

My Daily Muse column for tomorrow is all about guilty pleasures, so I thought I’d mention my favorite reading on that theme: Jennifer L. Pozner’s Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. Pozner deconstructs the popular tropes of the genre, those “desperate women and douchey dudes,” to reveal the production secrets and common editing manipulations that shape the ostensibly “real-life” storylines on our television. Of course, they’re fake! For more information, see Pozner’s website and her hilarious webisode series, “Reality Rehab with Dr. Jenn.”

New Books & Interviews….

I’m reading Sonja Lyubormirsky’s The Myths of Happiness this weekend. Her initial chapters focus on family and relationships; for example, how parenting impacts your happiness, why the initial infatuation with a romantic partner fades, and how to revive it, while later sections will cover work and related issues. One interesting thing that Lyubormirsky discusses is how novelty is good for individuals and relationships: couples who add new and challenging activities, like travel, to their life report greater happiness than those who have a set routine, and so do singles. It’s based on a psychological term called “hedonic adaptation”–we adapt very quickly to new jobs, houses, and material possessions and our first blast of happiness fades–what once was exciting becomes merely pleasant or we take it totally for granted. Even though Lyubormirsky’s approach is very grounded in the sciences, I can see a lot of overlap between her data and Tammy Strobel’s suggestions about downsizing in You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap!). That new car? The new wears off, so you’re better off spending more time with family and friends and less time working to buy stuff.

Other cool things that happened this week on the Internet: