Unauthorized Biographies by Shaun Boothe

James Brown

Bob Marley

Muhammed Ali

Martin Luther King Jr. & Barack Obama

Jimi Hendrix

Sean [Diddy] Combs


“20 Questions That Could Change Your Life” (by Martha Beck)

If you’re like most people, you became obsessed with questions around the age of two or three, and scientists now know that continuing to ask them can help keep your mind nimble however old you eventually become. So when someone suggested I put together a list of the 20 most important questions we should all be asking ourselves, I was thrilled. Initially.

Then I became confused about which questions to ask, because of course, as I soon realized, context is everything. In terms of saving your life, the key question is, “Did I remember to fasten my seat belt?” In terms of saving money, “How much do I need to retire before I’m 90?” is a strong contender. If daily usefulness is the point, “What’ll I wear?” and “What should I eat first?” might lead the list. And for the philosophically minded, “To be or not to be?” really is the question.

Because I’m far too psychologically fragile to make sense of this subjective morass, I made the bold decision to pass the buck. The 20 questions that follow are based on “crowdsourcing,” meaning I asked a whole mess of actual, free-range women what they thought every woman should ask herself. Thanks to all of you who sent in entries via social media.

The questions included here are composites of those that were suggested most often, though I’ve mushed them together and rephrased some for brevity. Asking them today could redirect your life. Answering them every day will transform it.

1. What questions should I be asking myself?

At first I thought asking yourself what you should be asking yourself was redundant. It isn’t. Without this question, you wouldn’t ask any others, so it gets top billing. It creates an alert, thoughtful mind state, ideal for ferreting out the information you most need in every situation. Ask it frequently.

2. Is this what I wBoldant to be doing?

This very moment is, always, the only moment in which you can make changes. Knowing which changes are best for you comes, always, from assessing what you feel. Ask yourself many times every day if you like what you’re doing. If the answer is no, start noticing what you’d prefer. Thus begins the revolution.

3. Why worry?

These two words, considered sincerely, can radically reconfigure the landscape of your mind. Worry rarely leads to positive action; it’s just painful, useless fear about hypothetical events, which scuttles happiness rather than ensuring it. Some psychologists say that by focusing on gratitude, we can shut down the part of the brain that worries. It actually works!

4. Why do I like {cupcakes} more than I like {people}?

Feel free to switch out the words in brackets: You may like TV more than exercise, or bad boys more than nice guys, or burglary more than reading. Whatever the particulars, every woman has something she likes more than the somethings she’s supposed to like. But forcing “virtues” — trying to like people more than cupcakes — drives us to vices that offer false freedom from oppression. Stop trying to like the things you don’t like, and many vices will disappear on their own.

5. How do I want the world to be different because I lived in it?

Your existence is already a factor in world history — now, what sort of factor do you want it to be? Maybe you know you’re here to create worldwide prosperity, a beautiful family, or one really excellent bagel. If your impressions are more vague, keep asking this question. Eventually you’ll glimpse clearer outlines of your destiny. Live by design, not by accident.

6. How do I want to be different because I lived in this world?

In small ways or large, your life will change the world — and in small ways or large, the world will change you. What experiences do you want to have during your brief sojourn here? Make a list. Make a vision board. Make a promise. This won’t control your future, but it will shape it.

7. Are {vegans} better people?

Again, it doesn’t have to be vegans; the brackets are for you to fill in. Substitute the virtue squad that makes you feel worst about yourself, the one you’ll never have the discipline to join, whether it’s ultra-marathoners or mothers who never raise their voices. Whatever group you’re asking about, the answer to this question is no.

8. What is my body telling me?

As I often say, my mind is a two-bit whore — by which I mean that my self-justifying brain, like any self-justifying brain, will happily absorb beliefs based on biases, ego gratification, magical thinking, or just plain error. The body knows better. It’s a wise, capable creature. It recoils from what’s bad for us, and leans into what’s good. Let it.

9. How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk?

I believe this question was originally posed by Lao Tzu, who also wrote, “To become learned, each day add something. To become enlightened, each day drop something.” Face it: You’d be better off without some of your relationships, many of your possessions, and most of your thoughts. Chuck your chic-chick junk, chic chick. Enlightenment awaits.

10. What’s so funny?

Adults tend to put this question to children in a homicidal-sounding snarl, which is probably why as you grew up, your laughter rate dropped from 400 times a day (for toddlers) to the grown-up daily average of 15. Regain your youth by laughing at every possible situation. Then, please, tell us what’s funny — about everyday life, about human nature, even about pain and fear. We’ll pay you anything.

11. Where am I wrong?

This might well be the most powerful question on our list — as Socrates believed, we gain our first measure of intelligence when we first admit our own ignorance. Your ego wants you to avoid noticing where you may have bad information or unworkable ideas. But you’ll gain far more capability and respect by asking where you’re wrong than by insisting you’re right.

12. What potential memories am I bartering, and is the profit worth the price?

I once read a story about a world where people sold memories the way we can sell plasma. The protagonist was an addict who’d pawned many memories for drugs but had sworn never to sell his memory of falling in love. His addiction won. Afterward he was unaware of his loss, lacking the memory he’d sold. But for the reader, the trade-off was ghastly to contemplate. Every time you choose social acceptance over your heart’s desires, or financial gain over ethics, or your comfort zone over the adventure you were born to experience, you’re making a similar deal. Don’t.

13. Am I the only one struggling not to {fart} during {yoga}?

I felt profoundly liberated when this issue was raised on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” Not everyone does yoga, but SNL reminded me that everyone dreads committing some sort of gaffe. Substitute your greatest shame-fear: crying at work, belching in church, throwing up on the prime minister of Japan. Then know you aren’t alone. Everyone worries about such faux pas, and many have committed them (well, maybe not the throwing up on PMs). Accepting this is a bold step toward mental health and a just society.

14. What do I love to practice?

Some psychologists believe that no one is born with any particular talent and that all skill is gained through practice. Studies have shown that masters are simply people who’ve practiced a skill intensely for 10,000 hours or more. That requires loving — not liking, loving — what you do. If you really want to excel, go where you’re passionate enough to practice.

15. Where could I work less and achieve more?

To maximize time spent practicing your passions, minimize everything else. These days you can find machines or human helpers to assist with almost anything. Author Timothy Ferriss “batches” job tasks into his famous “four-hour workweek.” My client Cindy has an e-mail ghostwriter. Another client, Angela, hired an assistant in the Philippines who flawlessly tracks her schedule and her investments. Get creative with available resources to find more time in your life and life in your time.

16. How can I keep myself absolutely safe?

Ask this question just to remind yourself of the answer: You can’t. Life is inherently uncertain. The way to cope with that reality is not to control and avoid your way into a rigid little demi-life, but to develop courage. Doing what you long to do, despite fear, will accomplish this.

17. Where should I break the rules?

If everyone kept all the rules, we’d still be practicing cherished traditions like child marriage, slavery, and public hangings. The way humans become humane is by assessing from the heart, rather than the rule book, where the justice of a situation lies. Sometimes you have to break the rules around you to keep the rules within you.

18. So say I lived in that fabulous house in Tuscany, with untold wealth, a gorgeous, adoring mate, and a full staff of servants…then what?

We can get so obsessed with acquiring fabulous lives that we forget to live. When my clients ask themselves this question, they almost always discover that their “perfect life” pastimes are already available. Sharing joy with loved ones, spending time in nature, finding inner peace, writing your novel, plotting revenge — you can do all these things right now. Begin!

19. Are my thoughts hurting or healing?

Your situation may endanger your life and limbs, but only your thoughts can endanger your happiness. Telling yourself a miserable mental story about your circumstances creates suffering. Telling yourself a more positive and grateful story, studies show, increases happiness. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, choose thoughts that knit your heart together, rather than tear it apart.

20. Really truly: Is this what I want to be doing?

It’s been several seconds since you asked this. Ask it again. Not to make yourself petulant or frustrated — just to see if it’s possible to choose anything, and I mean any little thing, that would make your present experience more delightful. Thus continues the revolution.

-- (Oprah.com) --

Cultist Spring 2011


A blog that poses one question: If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.

Surprisingly rare are the practical answers, with only the occasional laptop, wallet, or phone being saved. Sometimes the sentimental and one-of-a-kind can be more important than the level headed or pragmatic.

Name: John Tinseth
Age: 53
Location: New York City
Occupation: Insurance Consultant / Writer
Website: http://thetrad.blogspot.com/

List: (Top to Bottom, Left to Right)
Canadian Army Blanket: Stolen last day of Canadian Airborne School, Griesbach Barracks, Edmonton Alberta - 1978
WW II German Infantry Belt. War souvenir from grandfather, SGM Tinseth
Trungpa quote from 1999 calendar, “To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life.”
Canadian Parachutist Wings - Not stolen
Vietnam era sewing kit Army buttons from father, Lt Col Tinseth
WWII whistle from SGM Tinseth
National Park Ranger Badge and ID - Statue of Liberty National Monument
Randall Attack Survival Knife Model 18 from Lt Col Tinseth
Dunhill Lighter - Smoke free almost 3 yrs but can’t give up the lighter.

Name: Maggie Rudy
Age: 52
Location: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: artist, children’s book illustrator
Blog: mouseshouses.blogspot.com

Jackie, my childhood doll
my wallet, made from a feed sack
a postcard from Maurice Sendak, received in response to a fan letter I wrote in 1970
my great-grandmother’s prom dress
my glasses
pictures of my sons
a bird brooch, given to me by my husband
a photograph of my dad, circa 1938 by Brett Weston
little felt mice characters that I made
my laptop

Name: Luca Cavallaro
Age: 34
Location: New York
Occupation: Designer
Website: http://officineottiche.tumblr.com/

Alma Lou, she would even be enough.
If I have time:
Hard drive, for memories that my brain failed to store.
Sunglasses, I feel naked without them.
Wallet, a gift from my wife.
My father’s old camera, I promised him to take good care.
Sneaker, emergency orange.
In the black box, my vintage eyewear collection (favorite only).
Vintage leather mask, in case I have to protect my face from the flames.
Dieter Rams alarm clock, I don’t wake up on my own.
Orange hummer, if i have to brake some windows during the escape.
Life buoy ring, in case of flooding. In Italy we say:” le sfighe non vengono mai da sole”, misfortunes never come alone

Name: Luca Mariani
Age: 33
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Occupation: Director
Website: http://www.lucamariani.me/

Mamiya RB67
Coconut broken with my head
Macassino Blanco by Gonzalo Malaga
Wood cow used to make my short film MATU
Barbie Glitter Head
Jack Daniel’s with moustaches
Toy gun
Snowglobe of Milan

Name: Hannah Queen
Age: 20
Location: Blue Ridge, Georgia
Occupation: Photographer
Website: http://www.honeyandjam.com/

basket of family photos, old and new
cast iron skillet
leather bracelet with mustard seed charm, which was my grandmothers
leather bracelet, a gift from my mom
l’occitane lavender hand cream
l’oreal voluminous million lashes
lancome teint idole ultra
letters & postcards from friends
favorite tea towel, which was a gift
the complete works of jane austen
blue ball jar, filled with river rocks. souvenirs from a perfect day.
minnetonka moccasins
favorite wooden spoon
two forks from old family silverware
twig spoon, a gift from a friend
not pictured, canon 5d mark ii

Name: Hollister Hovey
Location: Brooklyn New York
Occupation: Interior Designer
Website: http://hollisterhovey.blogspot.com/

Top hat box from Constantinople - my key purchase on my trip to Istanbul. I practically cried when the flight attendant forced me to gate check it.
Driving gloves - They’re perfectly broken in and barely warm at all, but I wear them all winter.
Hand-painted 1940s Louis Vuitton suitcase - a recent find and maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever purchased.
1920s Danish portrait of mother and child - the first painting I bought on eBay. It’s such a sweet tender scene - with great little sailor outfits.
Prada clutch - I went into the Prada shop to buy perfume and came out with this. It was the first in a long, growing line of impulse purse purchases. I regret none of them.
Scottish military print - a set of six of these used to hang in the guest bedroom of my childhood home. They now hang on my walls and I’d grab them all. The frames have this wonderful little red line that makes them pop off the wall perfectly.
H monogrammed needlepoint pillow - my parents used to needlepoint together for hours while watching TV. They made this one. It’s backed in rich tan velvet - and if a person has one, it’s my favorite pillow of all time.
Taxidermy black bear head - rescued from the wall of a wonderful old bookshop in Camden, ME. I’ve named him, well, Camden.
Hermes stable belt - the only thing I could afford on my first trip to Hermes in Paris. It’s actually a stable belt. For a horse. Thank goodness it wraps around twice.
Baule sculpture - my first eBay purchase - ever. The start of one of the slipperiest slopes since the the beginning of the internet.
Passport - with no where to live, it’s best to get out of Dodge.
Family photos - I’d take more than two - in fact, they’d be my top priority.
Glasses - I’m blind as a bat, they’re necessities.
Porcupine quill box - One of my prized possessions handed down from my mom. It’s sort of been the inspiration for my whole style.

Name: David Coggins
Location: New York
Occupation: Writer
Website: http://www.groverscleveland.com/

Great Gatsby (1st Ed.)
2 good pens
Bottle opener
Cigar holder
Favorite English suit
Cleverley brogues
Olch tie
Antique casino chip
Plastic cowboy
Smythson calendar
Calling card


Obsessives: Soda Pop

YT comments:

"This is such a fantastic profile piece. The guy comes off as so knowledgeable and so jolly that I want to go to LA just to try his sodas. Any time I get jaded with work I just watch this because he's so filled with enthusiasm I can't help but cheer up!"

- galaxyhorsevideofilm

"This guy is so gangsta! Such a BEAST! We need more people like this man running stores! This is freedom right here people. None of that false freedom crap the big companies make you believe."

- Uitsdo

"If everyone cared about their customers, and their business partners, and the history of their products and what makes each unique, and the environment, and fairness and true competition in business regulations the way John Nese does, this could be a great country again. I don't even care for soda that much anymore, but I think he just showed me why."

- theLunchMovie

"This guy loves his work. One should be able to bottle his passion for his work. Watch and ask yourself if You enjoy your work with the same passion."

- healthyadjustments

"That was a pretty interesting video and i learned a lot from it.
And look at how much he's learned just for playing in a soda shop all day."

- MrDoeofan23

"I like people that love their jobs .. No matter how simple it is you can make it magical like this man. Seriously he brought magic to this shop."

- resistanceunion