Wednesday, April 18, 2018


by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles

Do you know what your Ikigai is?  Welcome to the book Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, the story of the Japanese secret to a long and happy life.  The Japanese word for Ikigai means “the reason you breathe, the reason for living.”  We find our reason for living by concentrating on what is good/important/what gives us joy and not focusing on what appears urgent in our lives. Ikigai is our passion, our mission and the work we love to do.  The authors study a place in this world with the most centenarians: Okinawa, Japan.  They interview and learn many things about stress (some amount is good for us), how we eat (or should), how much sleep we get (7-9 hours, more than that will make you retire), be around good people (talk often and engage) to form your community, and do what you love… forever. Never retire, do what you love, and be around people who love you.  The book ends with the following ten rules to incorporate Ikigai in your life:    

1.       Stay active don’t retire, keep doing things of value – people die when they give it up

2.       Take it slow, walk slowly and you will go far

3.       Don’t fill your stomach, less is more.  80% rule don’t stuff ourselves.  Be like those in Okinawa, eat small portions

4.       Surround yourself with good friends, they are the best medicine

5.       Get in shape for your next birthday, and be like water moves, it’s best when it flows – be like it

6.       Smile.  A cheerful attitude attracts others.  Be in the “here and now” and find the possibilities that life offers

7.       Reconnect with nature. Be a part of the natural world and get back to the roots of life

8.       Give thanks to nature and ancestors and family and friends and to that which gives you joy

9.       Live in the moment, that’s what we are given.  Don’t regret the past nor fear the future. Today is all that you have - make the most of it and make it worth remembering

10.   Follow your Ikigai and give meaning to your days and share YOU.  And never forget…your mission is to discover your Ikigai

A really simple and thoughtful read.  Good ideas that, if we all embraced, we would feel less stressed and more confident/self-assured.  Go find your meaning! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Truth About Stories

The Truth About Stories
by Thomas King

I decided to read a book that was recommended to me at the NASPA Conference this year as I have always been interested in the art of storytelling.  So picking up The Truth About Stories by Thomas King was a no-brainer for me.  King is a Native American and discusses the history and importance of story-telling as a form of education and community-bonding among his families.  Storytelling has been long associated with the Native American community, and King begins with the story of “how the world began” and the who influenced his storytelling.  I love this statement from him in particular: “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are… through my language, I understand I am being spoken to, I’m not the one speaking.  The words are coming from many tongues and mouths of the people from the land around them….”  He shares that “you’ll never believe what happened” is a phrase that captures the listener and begins the storytelling journey.  King notes, “we have choices, a world in which creation is a solidary, individual act or a world in which creation is a shared activity… a world that begins in harmony and slides toward chaos or a world that begins in chaos and moves toward harmony; a world marked by competition or a world determined by cooperation.”  That is our dilemma.  The series of chapters (essays) examines the role of oral presentation through history and how it is linked to the culture of the Native people.  King divulges personal hardships in drawing the reader into his philosophy, from a colleague who commits suicide, to an adopted child who is physically challenged, to how family members are removed from their community, all with special meaning that needs to be evoked in the story.  He has a talent to draw the reader into his life and the unique lives of the Native people.  I have much to learn from enhancing my skills as a storyteller from readings of an educator who has dedicated his life to listening and bringing to life people who have crossed his path.  A book well worth reading.