It isn't a joke. It's my recent reading list. Simplicity, tribes and potatoes are the subjects of three different non-fiction books I just finished reading. I had jotted down the titles on a sticky note as a reminder to write reviews for you. As I looked at the list, it occurred to me that the combination of books, itself, had a different story to tell. That these three disparate books happened to convene on my nightstand at the same time seems rather odd, but it perfectly illustrates the trio of forces I'm forever working to simplify and balance in my daily life: professional, parenting, and personal.
- Tribes, by Seth Godin: This is a brilliant little book about turning ideas into movements and stepping up as a leader. Reading it inspired a major shift in perspective for me, and the ripple effects are ongoing.
- Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne: I can't say enough wonderful things about Kim John Payne. In this book, Payne makes a compelling case against the "too much, too soon, too fast" pace of modern life that we've come to accept as normal, and how this accumulated stress shows up in our children as a variety of behavior disorders. His solution is to aim for simplicity in our family life in four key areas: de-cluttering the home environment, (I'm already a freakish minimalist, so we're good on that one) establishing rhythms and predictability, (working on that) maintaining balanced schedules, (trying) and filtering out the adult world (yep, TV really is brain poison).
- Potatoes, not Prozac, by Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons: I wouldn't have ever discovered this book by its title, since antidepressants are not my thing, but it's actually a book about sugar sensitivity and healing sugar addiction. Now that? That's my thing. She lays out a 7-step plan for naturally balancing your brain chemicals and beating sugar addiction.
The Connections If we use the letters I assigned to each of the three books, A, B & C, and plug them into this handy Venn diagram*, I can illustrate what these all have to do with one another.
- A-B: Right after I finished reading Tribes, I began reading Simplicity Parenting, and decided to check out the website. Lo and behold, either Kim John Payne had just read Tribes too, or it was an interesting bit of coincidence, but darned if this wasn't the perfect example of Godin's principles in action! Payne was taking his ideas and turning them into a movement – something that went beyond selling a book. He was setting up trainings for Simplicity Coaches to help them help families. He was encouraging community groups to form around Simplicity Parenting so parents could support one another in their efforts to simplify. Word was spreading fast, and within six months, the book was already in its third printing. Just as I was pondering how I would implement what I'd learned from Tribes, here was a model right in my niche. Handy!
- B-C: What might Simplicity Parenting have to do with sugar addiction, you ask? I think the connection is two-fold. First, the science Dr. DesMaisons reveals behind sugar sensitivity is fascinating, and just might explain most of my character flaws. In brief, sugar sensitive individuals happen to have low levels of serotonin, blood sugar, and beta-endorphins, (yes - all three!) and this triple-threat chemical imbalance results in all kinds of unpleasant behaviors and feelings, not to mention sugar cravings which only throw things further out of whack. I'm convinced I'd be a more patient, happy, and serene mama if my brain chemicals were better balanced. I'm working on that. (I'm still on step 2, so I have a ways to go, but so far, so good.) Plus, speaking for the universal "we," when we're happy, we don't need to look outside of ourselves for fulfillment; we don't have the need to fill each day of the week with play dates, or buy our kids more toys, or fill our houses with more stuff, or watch TV to escape. Implementing the pillars of Simplicity Parenting is a lot easier when we're happy and at ease with ourselves.
The second connection between these two books is that in exploring my own reactions to sugar, I'm becoming even more aware of Lucas' sensitivity to sugar. I noticed early on that it made him crazy-annoying, and so we already avoided obvious sugars like candy or even fruit roll-ups. But I'm learning to give him more protein at each meal and to cut out the carby snacks. We're replacing crackers and such with whole food snacks like apples, which hit the bloodstream slowly and steadily over time, and carrots, which give him the satisfaction of crunching on something. Eliminating the over-stimulation of sugar and processed foods, especially if a child is sugar-sensitive, is one more way to reduce a child's stress level and bring their behavior back into the normal range.
- C-A: Finally, Potatoes not Prozac and Tribes; Really? There's a connection? Absolutely! I was so jazzed after reading Tribes that I launched into a flurry of journaling activity and a whole new take on my writing and my mission. (More on that later.) I was passionate, focused, and confident that I was the one for this mission! Not-coincidentally, I was just coming off of being sick, and so I'd been eating well to get well for about two weeks. (Plus, I'd been taking the flower essences!) That meant I hadn't been eating chocolate of and on all day, every day, as is my norm. Once I felt better, I went back to my beloved chocolate in its many luscious forms, and lost some steam … and focus … and confidence. This cycle felt all too familiar to me. That's when I started reading Potatoes not Prozac and discovered that passion, focus and confidence, among many other things, are in short supply when you're dealing with sugar sensitivity. By consuming so much sugar, I was pretty much short-circuiting my progress on ANYTHING. By implementing Dr. DesMaison's seven steps, I hope to get my brain chemicals back in balance so I can fully implement what I learned from Seth Godin and step into my work with confidence and clarity.
Pulling from the wisdom in all three books, I feel like I have the tools I need to keep my professional life oriented toward meaningful goals while creating more simplicity and balance in our home life. Plus I'm gaining more energy, clarity, confidence, and optimism to help me stay on track with both of those now that I'm easing myself away from sugar addiction. This was a triple-whammy kick in the pants. Yes!
Do you find any of your current book combinations intriguing or insightful? Or is it just me - and the fact that I woke up at 3am this morning and decided to write instead of go back to bed? I'd love to hear from you!
*Created by Matts Halldin