Tag Archives: Joanna Macy

My Top 10 Books to Inspire You

Tzivia Gover Author PicksThis post was written in response to a question posed by the librarians at Boston Public Library, where I’ll be speaking about my book Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life Thursday, January 14, at 6 p.m. as part of the Boston Public Library’s Author Talks Series. 

Q: What are the 10 Books that Inspire You Most?

It wasn’t easy to come up with my “Ten Favorite Books to Inspire You”—but it was fun to give the question some thought. As a writer I have an entire village of favorite books that inspire me on my shelves. (I live in a relatively small space, otherwise I’d have an entire metropolis of favorites!) But which ones might inspire you as well? To narrow it down, I began by flipping through the pages of Joy in Every Moment, my latest book, which includes quotes from many of the books that have inspired me to live my best life—one moment at a time. Then I added a few more to come up with a highlights list that includes books of poetry, philosophy, self-help, psychology, and fiction. I hope you find something here to inspire you! Enjoy.

  1. The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: The fictional character, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, inspired me to “choose the better story”—a reminder I turn to again and again.
  2. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman: I re-read this book-length poem with a group of friends almost every year on the Fourth of July (the anniversary of the book’s publication). It takes us about two hours to read the entire poem aloud, and each time I feel inspired to try to do my part to live up to Whitman’s vision of true equality and democracy.
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl: A psychiatrist imprisoned in a concentration camp comes away recommitted to his belief that we can live positive and purposeful lives filled with meaning—no matter what the circumstances. Now that inspires me.
  4. You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay: As a young woman, this classic self-help book inspired—and empowered—me, to wake up to the role our thoughts play in manifesting our lives.
  5. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung: My dreams are a constant source of inspiration to me. Jung’s work helps me to explore them, trust them, and find meanings within them.
  6. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo: With joy as the organizing principle for getting one’s house in order, this quirky little book inspires me to experience my surroundings in a richer way!
  7. From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen Butler: This book inspires me to grab my pen, nearly as soon as I open my eyes in the morning—and start to write.
  8. Active Hope, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone: I turn to this book again and again when I need to be inspired to live from my heart in a time of great challenges to our magnificent planet.
  9. Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: Pearls of wisdom wrapped in humor and humility and delivered with gloves-off, gut-wrenching candor—that’s what I call inspiration.
  10. Comfortable With Uncertainty, by Pema Chödrön: I have this book in paperback and in an MP3 file on my iPod so I can read or listen to it any time, including at 4 a.m. on nights when I can’t sleep. This book inspires me to face difficult situations and emotions with a loving heart.

May these books inspire you, too. Or better yet, may you be inspired to share with others your ten most inspiring books!

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[Originally Published by Boston Public Library http://www.bpl.org/press/2016/01/08/author-picks-tzivia-govers-top-ten-books-to-inspire-you/]

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Awake (& Alive) in the Dream

A dreamer’s reflections on ecology, activism, and becoming lucid

On Saturday night, during my stay at Rowe Conference Center for a weekend workshop to empower ecological activists led by Joanna Macy, I had what could be called a reverse lucid dream.

In a typical lucid dream, one becomes aware she is dreaming and can thus begin to exercise volition within the dream. In this case, during the dream I suddenly became aware that I was awake. The fact that I was, of course, incorrect, is not the point.

What is interesting however is that within the dream, when I (falsely) determined that I was awake, I had the same reaction I normally do when I’m dreaming and become lucid; I felt a rush of excitement and alertness. Whereas in a lucid dream I might announce joyously, “I’m dreaming, this is a dream!” In this case I called out in the dream, “I’m awake, I’m alive!”

Again, as in a lucid dream, each detail of the dreamscape, which I mistook in this case for my waking environment, took on a quality of ultra-real vitality. I stood at the foot of a staircase and in my newly awake and aware dream state I marveled at the grain of the wood on the steps below my feet, the gentle curve of the banister beneath my hand, and the rich hues of the carpets and walls. Most of all, I became acutely aware of the fact that I was present and experiencing all of this.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!” I exclaimed.

Waking that morning in a second floor bedroom of the farmhouse at Rowe Camp and Conference Center, where I’d been immersed in Macy’s program for environmental engagement in the face of devastating climate change, I realized the dream encapsulated perfectly the workshop’s message.

In this historical era of environmental plunder it is easy to slip into a communal dream and sleepwalk through our days, unconscious and disconnected, as all around us plant and animal species succumb to extinction.

But in the workshop with Macy, we were called to be present. Together we woke to the pain and suffering of our planet. We felt our frozen hearts melt into tears and laughter as we celebrated, mourned, danced, sang, played, told stories, and gave voice to each beautiful thing we would miss if climate disaster continues on its current course.

On the day of my dream, Macy led us through an exercise in which we took an imaginary voyage to the year 2214, some seven generations into the future, to hear from our distant progeny as they looked back on our time and wondered why we didn’t we do more—and how we managed to do as much as we did to protect the environment against the ravages of corporate greed. This exercise helped me feel how precious our existence truly is. Of all the people who ever lived on Earth, and all the generations who might come after us, we are the only ones here now to breathe air, drink water, and delight in the sunshine and breezes. We are the ones who carry life forward, and who can affect the quality of life that will be available to our heirs.

The dream gave me a new vision of lucidity, and Macy’s workshop renewed my motivation to carry it out. Yes, it’s exciting to wake within the dream—but it is even more so to wake within our lives: to feel the exquisite joy, pain, beauty, and fragility of our existence.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These can be the watchwords of our ecological faith.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These words can be a mantra keeps our spirits from drifting off to sleep as we confront the realities of our time.

“I’m awake, I’m alive!”

These syllables can shake us from our stupor.

Say it with me: “I’m awake. I’m alive.”

And so we begin to dream a new dream.

ZzzZzzZzzzZ

For another take on lucid dreaming, click here.

To learn about 350 Dreamers, a group that dreams together for global healing, click here.

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