There aren't many opportunities to walk around quoting Master P but as a woman who spent much of her Spelman matriculation wanting to be the California version of a "No Limit Soldier", when an opportunity presents itself--I'm gonna take it. And if you don't know who he is that's okay--I promise you'll still get something out of this. 

P wasn't lying when he said to "get your mind" right. HOW you think and WHAT you think about will literally determine the entire course of your life--it's a proven scientific fact. And I know that sounds all hellfire & brimstone-ish kinda is. As Oprah & I like to stress, you are responsible for your life. And your thoughts? They really do become things. If you think it's impossible or too hard, if you think you're not good enough, not pretty enough, too dark, too pale, too chunky or too...whatever, then your life is gonna reflect exactly that. 'Cause like the old folks used to say, you can't get sugar outta shit. You just can't.

I wasn't born to parents who pushed me to defy convention. Instead they were both traditionally educated & traditionally employed so what they knew to teach me was what THEY knew---the traditional route. Get a degree.Be an employee. Start a 401K. Play it safe. Color inside the lines. And there's nothing specifically wrong with those things...except that that route wasn't actually MY calling. Yes, I did what I was told--got the degree, did my bid in corporate America, stashed some money in a 401K--but when I started to spread my wings it quickly became clear that the wind was taking me in a different direction--one in which they hadn't been & that, to a certain extent, they couldn't help me with.  At some point I had to start taking responsibility for the dreams that were calling but between some limiting beliefs I'd learned at home and other falsehoods I'd picked up from old friends &  loves, I was definitely carrying some stuff that didn't belong to me. The day finally came, though, when I was ready to choose better thoughts. So I put my beloved fiction novels aside & started to read more non-fiction, practical books that could help bridge the gap between where I was & where I wanted to be. Books that would give me an empowering new outlook on the things I DID know & to help me learn the things I didn't yet know. And this was not a one-time move, mind you. Like, you can't just read a few books & think "Ok, now I'm good!!" Nah, boo. It takes time, effort & consistency to rewrite those old stories & change the negative loop that invariably says I never get picked.Success won't happen for me. I need to be different than who/what I am to be accepted. Renewing your mind is a DAILY process--not something you can quickly do while on vacation or in between commercial breaks of your favorite show. 

The number one question I get from people is HOW??How can I be more confident in my work? How do I find the right clients? How do I charge what I'm worth? How do I take the first step to do what what is calling me? And my answer is alllllllllways the same: Read. Read. And read some more.  Because Yeah, sometimes you'll need the practical know-how to get from point A to point B but most of the time...what we really need to learn are the basics: to believe in ourselves more, be comfortable in making mistakes, have the courage to tell the truth. And no amount of money or accolades can make those things happen.

So here's a list of 10 of the books I always recommend to people--the ones that helped me get MY mind right. I like to read them again every few years or will revisit a specific title depending on what's going on in my life so these are also the ones I never lend out! Each time I read I write the date inside the cover & all of my notes/underlines in each book help me act like a journal of my life . FYI, this list isn't in order of importance & it is by no means an exhaustive--just a few of the ones that come up most frequently!  

  1. Tiny Beautiful things: Advice on love & life from Dear Sugar, Cheryl Strayed.It's not thekinda book that normally makes a top 10 list but I LOVE this one. I didn't read Wild & didn't know much about her before I saw the movie but her her advice & feedback in this book is so spot on. It's direct, it's funny & but most importantly, it's honest & thoughtful. The exact kind of advice that resonates with me most. Everyone should have a friend like this who owns her own shit & will also call you on yours.
  2. A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson. I refer to this like a Bible! A great book about shifting your thoughts & perceptions from fear-based thinking to love-based thinking....wherein, we each find the miracles.
  3. The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard. As the intro begs, Why, having been endowed with the courageous heart of a lion, do we live as mice? Thoughtful read on what it REALLY takes to govern your own life.
  4. The Game of Life & How to Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn. The best way to describe the premise of this book is, "change what you see and what you see will change." It's an attitude-shifter & has been a popular title since it's original 1925 publication.
  5. The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz asks us to make 4 agreements to ourselves as a means of experiencing the greatest level of personal freedom. 2 of them, Don't take anything personal and Don't make assumptions have definitely changed my life and have been pivital in teaching me that what other people do is never, ever ever about me. Not to be missed.
  6. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. The phrases It is written and The Universe always conspires in your favor are each written almost 10 times throughout this book. A great story about the importance of following your heart & paying attention to omens in your life. And dare I essential book to read.
  7. Peace From Broken Pieces, Iyanla Vanzant. There couldn't have been a better title for this book! I loved reading Iyanla retell the major stories of her life as she unpacked her own unconscious pathologies--around her relationships with her family, men, her children, the evolution of her work & how things went so wrong in her partnership with Oprah. If you're honest with yourself, you might see some of your own stuff show up in her story, too.
  8. The Courage to Be Yourself, Sue Patton Thoele.!!! Written specifically to a female audience, it's really about having/gaining the courage to live boldly with emotional strength & self-esteem. And yes, these are things most of us tend to think we have but there are so many ways--consciously & unconsciously--that we as women give our power up! Sue will get you back on track in line.
  9. The Power of Purpose, Richard J. Leider.One of the better books I've read about seeking meaning beyond yourself (in work) and the thoughtful process of choosing how to best use your gifts to serve others. It's an easy, practical read and, IMO, a worthwhile one.
  10. The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer.I'm obsessed with Singer's 2nd book, The Surrender Experiment, but I picked his first title since everything started here. And you'll understand the telling of his own story better if you understand the view from which he lives. It's all about freeing your mind from the "habitual thoughts, emotions & energy patterns that limit your consciousness." But if you decided to read The Surrender Experiment first, I wouldn't be mad--both books are so, so good.

What titles have mattered most to you??