April is Inspiration Month at Books for Better Living and I can’t think of anyone who has been more inspired or inspiring than Lisa Napoli, author of RADIO SHANGRI LA: What I Discovered on my Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Lisa began her career by moving, sight unseen, to Atlanta, Georgia to work for a somewhat unknown cable news channel jokingly called “Chicken Noodle News” or CNN. She has worked for The New York Times CyberTimes and MSNBC as well. Her personal life is also inspiring; she learned to swim at age thirty-seven; she cooks up a pot of soup every Friday night; she invites friends to cook with her at homeless shelters; and she regularly opens her home to people she knows and some she does not.
We at Books for Better Living are especially inspired by her work with READ Global to build libraries and bring books to Bhutan.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Lisa and I think she will inspire you as she has all of us:
CC: You’ve done so many exciting things. Do you actively seek out inspiration or does inspiration find you?
LN: Inspiration is everywhere! I don’t go looking for it, exactly, but I do stay open to the fact that even the most mundane experience can trigger ideas. Like walking around. I mean, if you actually walk, not multitask, but allow yourself to soak up what you’re seeing, wherever you go, who knows what can happen? Let your brain slow down a bit and be surprised at what hops on.
I also like to think I’m open to new ideas and people. That said, I make a lot of time for quiet and swimming.
CC: Many people are inspired but never see it come through to fruition. What would you recommend to those of us who need that extra push to take the leap?
LN: If you absolutely love something and are passionate about it, you will make time for it and you will make it happen. If it’s just a cool idea (we all have them every day) then maybe it’s just an idea and that’s all it needs to be.
I find that focusing on one thing, and simply doing it, rather than talking about doing it, meeting about it, dissecting it, helps. Of course that’s easier to say than to do. Knowing when to bail on a project, and re-focus, is important, too. I’m not sure there are any secrets to it other than trying and maturing.
CC: What do you think about personal goal setting? Is it helpful or does it get in the way of inspiration and/or fate?
LN: It’s great to have goals; as long as they don’t stress you out. “I must be a published author in the next 6 months” or “I must be married and have two children by age 35” are counterproductive. Here’s a more positive way to get at your intentions: “I need to explore new work possibilities that are more fulfilling.” “I am going to learn to make pastries and start that baking class” or “I am going to practice yoga each day, either at home or at the Y” are, to me, a better way at it.
Be open to possibilities rather than being strangled by the monster of expectation.
CC: In RSL you write about how before you traveled to Bhutan you questioned some of your life choices. RADIO SHANGRI LA has gotten great feedback and I know you have inspired people like the kids at La Jolla Country Day School to help build libraries in Bhutan; myself and other BBL-ers included! Does that change the way you feel about yourself? Do you see yourself as inspirational?
LN: Instead of feeling dread at my encroaching wrinkles or what I did or didn’t do, now I feel so positive about what I can do, what I can give in the future. I want people, particularly women, to see that there isn’t just one way to live or to be…that husbands (partners??) and kids are great, but not the only way. That careers are great, but not all there is. I want everyone to see that if you step outside your own wants and needs and realize how good it is to help others, you’ll feel better in the end. That’s what my whole book is about and I’m delighted that message carries through.
CC: If you have a bucket list—what’s next on it?
LN: No bucket lists. No way!. Just keep growing and being a good human, and who knows what will happen?
CC: One of my favorite parts of the book is in the Acknowledgements you write—“Here’s to believing that the next person you meet could very well be a source of adventure, if not an agent of change.” What an inspiring thought!
LN: Thank YOU for inspiring me! And for taking the time to read Radio Shangri-La.
Lisa’s adventures and work with READ Global have inspired us to help out too! Like us on facebook and Books for Better Living and Random House Inc. will donate a $1 in your name to READ Global. Read more here!