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A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life: Self Expression and Spiritual Practice for Those Who Have Time for Neither Paperback – May 14, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is wise, passionate and delight-full. As a teacher and performer, and now as an author, Nina Wise shows us how to bring creativity, spirituality, and joy into our day-to-day lives. I have found this book, like its author, a pleasure to know–provocative and creatively stimulating. I recommend it to anyone who wants to enliven and lighten up their lives."
–Lama Surya Das

"An empowering, joyful, and celebratory guide to a fuller life. Creativity is enhanced when we learn to play, dare to break the rules, dance, sing, laugh. Nina Wise is wise indeed! She teaches us to expand our senses and to connect body and soul while having fun. This wonderful book could change my life...."–Isabel Allende

"Nine Wise joins great talent with spiritual understanding. No one else I know so intimately joins the sublime and the absurd, surface and depth, the high and the low. Her range is enormous."–Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones

"Nina Wise invites us to join the dance of life in an artful world–to respond to all of life's offerings including the difficult ones with our birthright of creative expression. She shows us how our own capacity for expression can lift us out of our confusion, afford us greater understanding, and allow us to respond to our suffering with deeper compassion."
–Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

From the Inside Flap

A captivating performance artist and teacher, Nina Wise has dedicated her life to tapping the wisdom that emerges from spontaneity. Under Wise's guidance, thousands have discovered the healing power of spontaneous movement, storytelling, vocalizing, and other forms of unedited self-expression. Now she shares the time-tested discoveries of her surprising and spirited workshops in A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life.

In clearly-explained, ten-minute exercises that can be performed almost anywhere, Nina Wise points the way towards a fuller, more creative life. She invites us to rediscover the body, to fall in love with language, and most of all to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Wise's voice is invigorating and warm as she provides a remarkable antidote to anyone struggling with burnout, past traumas, everyday stresses, or specific fears. A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life helps us unlock deep sources of peace and leads us to discover the robust creativity that lies at the heart of our being.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (May 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767910079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767910071
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nina Wise subtitles her wonderful book, "Self-expression and spritual practice
for those who have time for neither." And she could have added, for those who
don't habitually shop at the Self-Improvement section of the store. I had my
qualms but I had first heard the author's name from an impeccable source so I
carried on and bought it. I quickly realised this wasn't Buddhism Lite or
Self-Realization in Five Minutes a Day. Nina Wise has spent thirty years
performing and leading workshops in improvisation. She brings decades of
experience in an art whose principal act is a requirement, as she describes it
elsewhere, to "(find) words for the story the body wants to tell" and where
"nothing in the psyche feels prepared, ready, secure-the stroll from backstage
to centerstage is an act of faith." It is a scary description and her courage
and commitment are everywhere evident. In this brilliant book we get the
benefits of that commitment as she offers dozens of ten-minute "practices"
drawn from every area of the arts -- singing, drawing, writing, role-playing,
dancing --- wonderful hints that invite us to play: to play with the senses;
play with our sense of self, with our life-history; play with friends, with
lovers, with strangers; play with pain and sickness and bereavement, with loss
and disappointment, anger and frustration, play with happiness. They remind
us to take ten minutes NOW to play, but to play with attention, as adults, to
wake up. She shows that unlocking creativity and self-expression has the
widest consequences: "We are not who we think we are --- we are not what we
do, we are not our age ... our gender or sexual preference ... where we live
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I was very skeptical of this book (how can you not be with a name like that), but it ended up proving to be a meaningful read. It's not profound in it's concept: the author simply gives you inner "permission" to act on your impulses and emotions. These suggestions are constuctive and sneak into your thinking throughout your day. It's the kind of book that is not jaw dropping when your done, it's meaning trickles slowly and frees you a little.
The author did make you feel great but my only concern is that it made her feel greater. Some passages bordered on bragging but still made you feel as though you also had something to contribute. This book proved me wrong, all in all, and is worth giving a shot.
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Format: Paperback
(from an article by Caren Goldman): Nina Wise shows us that we don't need a crowbar to cram creativity--an "inborn aspect of being alive"--into our overbooked lives. Wise, a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants and an award-winning performance artist (see NinaWise.com), believes that we find the keys to a creative life when we give ourselves permission to allow whatever arises "to gain expression." Using her brief creativity exercises, we can step into the realm of our spiritual natures and onto playful and profound paths to creative self-expression--in 10 minutes or less. One simple practice that can be done almost anywhere invites us to "doodle" or improvise with our voices, like scat singers...."Solutions to both technical and emotional knots arise when we soften our minds and our hearts, when we relax," Wise adds...Ultimately, readers who follow Wise's advice will develop the freedom to experience a big, new, free, happy and unusual life and feel more alive in the process.--Body & Soul, May 2002
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Format: Paperback
As a teenager, I once took out a couple of library books that purportedly tested your creativity. According to them, I failed miserably because I didn't come up with the "right" answers, and it was years before I realized that I'd actually been TOO creative for the tests! But their approach is typical of how narrowly our educational system defines creativity: if you have a gift for (say) drawing or singing, you can become a professional in the arts, but otherwise creativity is irrelevant to most people's daily lives. And, anyway, even if you feel that you'd enjoy taking a pottery class or an acting workshop, you have more important things to do with your time and money. Nina Wise shows us how to circumvent both of these obstacles and bring creative expression into our lives. The crucial factor is awareness, both of ourselves and of the world around us. Her exercises give us the opportunity to know ourselves as complex beings, with bodies as well as minds and spirits, and to appreciate the beauty and complexity of even the most mundane aspects of our surroundings. Becoming more aware isn't necessarily easy, or fun, or reassuring, but it can enrich anyone's life immensely. I heartily recommend this book to everyone -- especially those who think "I'm not creative" or "I have nothing to say": you are, and you do, and this is how you find out.
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Are you having enough fun in your life? Enough play? Do you feel a lack of self expression welling up inside you? (It may not even be said, only felt). Remember when you used to dance, and frolic, and sing, and make up ditties, and hang out more often? This book reconnects you to that place, and to heart and soul, without being sentimental or infantile like a lot of creativity workshops or New Age pablum. This is a book that integrates the rarest of combinations - meaning and play (and soul). You know, like party with a purpose. It's hard to describe what goes on here, but it's sure to bring sparks and fun into every day of your life. And it's WAY cheaper than a workshop or therapy!
I've taken many workshops with Nina over the last six or seven years, and this book distills ALL of what she teaches and more. It's a gold mine for your self - and your friends. A perfect book to give for any occasion - birthday, graduation, wedding, Christmas. Who couldn't use a book like this?
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