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Presence [book review]

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In 2016, I have read or listened to 42 books. One of my favorite reads of this year has been Presence by Amy Cuddy (published 2015). The audiobook is read by the author which I highly recommend. I’m sure the written media is equally excellent, but there is something about hearing the stories that are inspiring.

Amy opens the book with her own story of a serious auto accident and head trauma.  I don’t want to be a spoiler. So I will only tell you she talks about the obstacles she struggles to overcome. Most importantly, she struggles to learn to be present and authentic while adjusting to this “new normal”.

Amy’s trials provoke a passion within her to teach others how to be their best and boldest selves. It is not about arrogance, but about confidence to be the people we were destined to be.

Cuddy shares biological and social scientific studies to enhance her discoveries. It is the science as well as the stories that give credibility to the book. Even more so, her science and stories bring hope to those who struggle with self-confidence in an extroverted, fast paced world.

This book is for anyone who struggles with self-confidence. It is for the introvert who desires to present their best self in the moment instead of after the fact. It is for the leader who desires to help others be their best selves. Really, it is for anyone who wants to be more present in this life.

The new year is just around the corner. And 2017 could be your best year yet. Add this book to your reading list. Don’t spend 2017 sleeping in a recliner. Learn to be present and experience life with eyes wide open.

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Thanksgiving Tradition

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Holidays are a part of every season. Part of what makes holidays so memorable are the traditions we create each year. Some of the traditions are cultural. Some of them are specific to religion, country of origin, or personal family customs.

Thanksgiving in America comes with some stringent traditions. Most of us wouldn’t think of celebrating without turkey and pumpkin pie. Other cultural traditions are semi-optional, like cranberry sauce (yuck) and football.

Here, in Detroit, we have the option of freezing our rear ends off  while we watch the parade march down Woodward Avenue (yes, the one in the song). In addition, we torture ourselves by watching our native football team (Detroit Lions: you probably have not heard of them) fail miserably in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.

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Traditions are important, but they can also drive us crazy with anxiety and stress. We work so diligently to bring back those memories and feelings of the past. Sometimes we are left empty and depressed because it doesn’t meet our unrealistic expectations.

If you find that your traditions are causing you more grief than joy, then here are a few things you can do this holiday season.

Stop and Reflect

Takes some time to stop and reflect on those traditions and customs that seem to rule your holiday. Why do you do them? Why or how did it begin? Do you find any value in continuing this tradition? What would happen if you didn’t do it?

Consider a Break

Consider taking a year off from that particular tradition. It may be that it doesn’t fit with your current season of life. It doesn’t mean you can’t reinstitute it next year. It simply means you are taking a break.

Consider a New Tradition

Seasons come and go. It may be that you are now the parent/grandparent. And with your role change comes new traditions and customs to pass along. Sometimes we cling so tightly to the past that we forget to experience the present. Be creative. Let go of the past to begin something new.

Be Thankful

Take some time this holiday season to be thankful. Your stress may be that you have not stopped to enjoy the traditions you already have now. Learn to be truly present this holiday season and enjoy each tradition God has given to you.

For my family, we are doing something new this year. We are still keeping some of those things unique to our family, but we are reshaping them for a new day. But, yes, there will still be turkey!

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Recliner Recommendations [November]

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People ask me what I am reading, watching, or listening to. Here are some Recliner Recommendations for the month of November.

Audiobook: Presence by Amy Cuddy

I’m currently listening to this book in audio form (about 97% done). I give it a five-star rating! Amy has done her research well and tells us how we can learn to be present even in stressful situations. This book has great implications for those of us who struggle with self-doubt or insecurity. But it is equally provocative for the high-achiever. Put it on your “must read” list!

Podcast: Introvert Entrepreneur 

I started listening to this podcast a few months ago. It is an excellent resource for those who recognize themselves as introverts. Beth Bielow gives advice on how we can be successful when we lean into our introversion. And her guests are equally encouraging.

Watching: The Blacklist 

I’m not much of a television person. However, there is usually one show I am following. Right now, it’s The Blacklist. James Spader is amazing! It’s my fun outlet and I hope you check it out.

Reading: The Homiletical Plot by Lowry

I’m reading this book in paperback form. I know. Some of us still do that sort of thing! It is a challenging read, but I am finding it helpful. It is written for the pastor, but I can see it would be useful for anyone who gives oral presentations.

Sermon Series: Half Truths by Adam Hamilton

I recently finished preaching a series inspired by Adam Hamilton’s book, Half Truths. We had a great response from this series. So many found freedom from misrepresented doctrine they had come to believe. It would be a great resource for pastors or individuals.

Scripture I’m pondering:

“But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites…” Exodus 1:12

Hope these are helpful. Check it out and pass it on. And feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments.

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