Category Archives: Books

Invisible Counselors

I’ve always been a big fan and follower of The Art of Manliness. Back in 2012, they posted an article called “The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors.” The premise of the article is to create a sort of imaginary team of mentors you can consult with for advice and inspiration throughout one’s life. After reading the article I decided to create my own, and it has really been highly beneficial. (See mine below)

If this sounds a little absurd or even silly, just think about it like this;  the idea around it is to study and emulate great minds of the past and present … as these mentors can be either alive or dead.

Since creating my cabinet of counselors, I have constantly turned to them when I’m unsure of something, when I need inspiration, or need a sort of life reset (something I discuss in my article called Weekend Morning Routine).

Your cabinet can help you steady yourself  when struggling with difficult decisions or going through troubling times.  You can simply ask yourself “What would ____ do?” in a certain situation that can keep you going in the right direction.

fullsizeoutput_1168

Picking Your Counselors

1. Pick the members of your cabinet.

This is the fun part! You can choose as many people as you’d like to become part of your imaginary team of advisers. As I mentioned, they can be living or dead, real or even fictional … such as Sherlock Holmes. This is for you specifically, no one else, so choose who you really want.

The people on your cabinet don’t have to be perfect; remember, they are human beings too … flaws and all. You can actually take their flaws and use them to your advantage. For example, Hemingway is one of my advisers  and as much as I love his adventurous side and manly prowess, he had a reputation for being sexist and a bit of a womanizer – something that I don’t want to be. So, I use Hemingway for the things I admire, but take heed of his short comings, and remind myself to not be that way.

2. Learn as much about your invisible counselors as possible.

In order for your counselors to best advise you, you will need to study as much about their lives as you can.  Get your hands on as many biographies as you can and try to read all of their work.

I would recommend picking only 4  to 6 advisers … the men or women you admire the most , and really go in-depth with your research. Try to learn their strengths, their weaknesses, what made them successful, study their habits.

3. Consult with your counselors.

Each counselor will have their own unique skill-set, so depending on what is going on in your life, or the type of advice you need, you will want to have different advisers that can help you in various aspects.

Perhaps you will want to work your way through each adviser one month at a time, like I did to start. But the great part about this is, you can take this on however best suits you. Remember, this should be fun, never a chore, and keep in mind that you are utilizing them to help you.

For me, I also use a note pad to jot down quotes or tidbits of information that I can always use for quick reference.

My Invisible Counselors

1. Marcus Aurelius 

L0XGobsaTEKKo4A0mCZmmg

The Emperor’s Handbook is the book I turn to the most. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor and he was the last of the rulers traditionally known as the Five Good Emperors. He was a practitioner of Stoicism, and his personal philosophical writings, which later came to be called Meditations, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy.

In this book, Marcus continuously points out that man lives only for the present, as the past is gone and the future is uncertain. Man, therefore must not live in regrets or overly worry about the future or death.

When I’m angry, when I feel stressed, this is the book I open and read through. His words have a way of putting things in perspective … a way of saying; “Get your head out of your ass.”

2.  Teddy Roosevelt

fullsizeoutput_116e

Teddy is a man’s man. I turn to him to raise my adventurous spirit. I look at the life he lived and it makes me get off the couch, to quit being lazy … it makes me ask the question; “what have you done today?”

Teddy lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War. He was the Governor of New York, the Vice President under William McKinley and rose to President after McKinley’s assassination. He began construction of the Panama Canal,  won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize and founded the Bull Moose Party.

I read all of this and think; yeah … I need to to do some shit today!

Roosevelt was blind in one eye after a boxing injury in the White House.  He suffered a detached retina in a bout in 1908, and stopped fighting. He switched to jiu-jitsu instead.

Fun Fact: How Teddy Bears Started: While on a hunting trip as President, guides in Mississippi had arranged for Roosevelt to shoot an old bear they had tied to a tree. Roosevelt refused to do so, on sporting grounds. (Instead, he had someone else shoot the bear.) The first part of the incident became a newspaper cartoon, which then inspired a shopkeeper to sell stuffed bears, with Roosevelt’s permission.

3. Thomas Jefferson

fullsizeoutput_1169

My favorite president, and someone that I also look to to get me motivated to live a full life. A true Renaissance man, TJ had a real thirst for knowledge, and understanding. Not sure if he was ever a master of any one thing … but he tried …  something I can relate to.

Thomas Jefferson really, really liked books. After his retirement, he sold his library of 6,500 volumes to the Library of Congress after it was ransacked by the British. Jefferson needed the cash to pay off debts, but he started buying more books. “I cannot live without books,” he told John Adams.

Jefferson the architect. He designed the rotunda for the University of Virginia, his own home at Monticello, and the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Monticello has some good resources about what he called the “hobby of my old age,” though architecture actually a lifetime pursuit. Monticello and the University of Virginia are on the World Heritage List.

Jefferson the wine snob.  He had two vineyards at Monticello, which he apparently used to experiment with. Acknowledged as a great wine expert of early America, he sought to promote wine as an alternative to whiskey and cider.

Jefferson the agriculturalist. He believed in the United States as an agrarian society, in part, because it would make the nation independent from other nations. Jefferson practiced what he taught: He was one of the first American farmers to employ crop rotation and redesigned the plow to make it more efficient.

Jefferson the paleontologist. He was also obsessed with fossils and was involved in a great debate about the mammoth that became a political cause. Jefferson raised the profile of paleontology as president, and he has a mammoth named after him.

Jefferson the astronomer. Jefferson loved stargazing almost as much as he liked books. He made sure astronomy was taught at the University of Virginia, and he designed what may have been the first observatory in the United States.

Jefferson the writer. He was a prolific writer during his lifetime, with his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom included in his epitaph (instead of his two terms as president). The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress includes about 27,000 documents, including his extensive correspondence with key historical figures.

4. Hunter S. Thompson

fullsizeoutput_116c

Hunter S. Thompson is my wild card, and probably my first choice for the one person (dead or alive) that I would invite to diner.

He held people accountable, took swine to task, highlighted the absurdity of the 60’s and despised Richard Nixon.

He’s best known for his book Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, but his novel The Rum Diary is the title I have read the most (and typically read once a year).

I own every book this man has written and every biography that has been put out about him. If you are not too familiar with Hunter and his work, go out and get The Great Shark Hunt and Hell’s Angles … but be prepared, you will never be the same again.

Fun Fact:

Bill Murray (who once played Hunter in the film Where the Buffalo Roam) called Johnny Depp (who was playing Hunter in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas at the time in 1998) and told him this:  “Make your next role drastically different from Hunter. Otherwise you’ll find yourself 10 years from now still doing him.”

Indeed … in my opinion, if you watch Fear & Loathing and then watch Pirates of the Caribbean … the mannerisms are VERY similar.

After Hunter’s passing, Depp was responsible for blasting Hunters ashes out of a cannon! You can watch it on Youtube.

Other attendees at this ceremony included John Kerry, Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn, Josh Hartnett and Ralph Steadman.

For writing inspiration and to be inspired to live a little on the edge … Hunter is my guy.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is the ones who have gone over.”

 “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.

5. Robert Kennedy

fullsizeoutput_116b

I always preferred Bobby over John F. Kennedy. JFK was the face, but Bobby was the brains. RFK was a complex man, someone who changed his mind on how he viewed things throughout his life and career. He could be loving and at other times crude, and extremely demanding.

He quarreled with Jimmy Hoffa, ran most of JFK’s political campaigns, failed the 3rd grade, hated Lyndon Johnson and many historians credit Bobby for getting us through the Cuban Missile crisis (read 13 Days).

I like Bobby because he was so complex and the epitome of the phrase; work hard, play hard.

6. Ernest Hemingway

fullsizeoutput_116d

Ernest Hemingway, like Teddy Roosevelt, was a man’s man.

Aside from Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is my second most read book.

Hemingway made his first visit to Pamplona, Spain after hearing about it from his literary mentor, Gertrude Stein. The city and the spectacle of bullfighting made such an impression on him that he chose it as the setting for The Sun Also Rises. He attended the Pamplona fiesta a total of nine times and, in 1932, published a non-fiction guidebook about bullfighting called Death in the Afternoon which is also one of my favorite books.

Ernest also lead an eventful life. During WWI, an 18-year-old Hemingway volunteered as a canteen worker and an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross on the Austro-Italian Front. In June 1918, while giving out chocolate and cigarettes to the soldiers, he was wounded by an Austrian mortar shell. He was knocked unconscious and buried in the earth of the dugout. Shrapnel hit him in the right foot, knee, thighs, scalp, and hand. Despite these injuries, when he came to he picked up one of the wounded Italian soldiers and carried him to the first aid station. For his bravery, he was awarded an Italian medal of valor.

During WWII, Hemingway used his fishing boat, the Pilar, to hunt for German U-Boats that had entered Caribbean waters.

While vacationing in Africa, he survived two plane crashes in the span of two days. In one instance, his plane caught fire on the runway. With the plane door jammed closed, he used his head as a battering ram and butted it open.

Hemingways had many short-comings, but he was tough, a romantic and incredible writer… winning the 1954 for his work The Old Man and the Sea.

I hope you enjoyed my list on counselors and really hope you create your own. Love a comment below and let me know who you choose to be your advisors

Thanks for reading!

Helmise: Not Your Momma’s Alphabet Cards

 

unnamed

 

If you are a parent of a little one, a person living in the majestic south, or just an individual who gets inspired by cute and creative ideas, you need to pay close attention to this story.

The age of the small business is returning , with the help of online shopping. Creative people with a beautiful concept now have the chance to really make a go of things. With an idea, some savvy marketing, and a compelling story, individuals can now begin to actually live the real American Dream, instead of helping someone else live it.

Helmsie is one of those dreams, and it’s a story that we want people to know about.

Here at the Southern Blueprint we try to promote and showcase all the talented people that live in this beautiful area, and although we typically don’t highlight this type of product, we think it’s a worth-wild endeavor, and something that we hope people will support.

unnamed

Helmsie looks to provide thoughtful, Southern inspired products for littles, parents, and people who love the South.  In the current marketplace, there is a shortage of baby and kid products that blend seamlessly with the style of those who love a soft and fresh color palette. Helmsie hopes to fill a little of that gap.

37D96826-16EE-4F1C-B95E-8C88BE795C1E.jpg

Owners Karla and Sarah first met living right down the road from one another in Athens, Georgia in a neighborhood called Normaltown. Karla is a surface designer who lives for a good repeat pattern. She has years of experience designing products for various brands including wallpaper for Hygge + West. Sarah is an engineer who collects a small town’s worth of vintage jewelry. She primarily handles the business side of things for the brand.
After many years of wanting to collaborate on a project, they decided to go all in and start a business. Helmsie is the result of years of dear friendship and a desire to see functional and beautiful products in the marketplace.  When they found themselves new mothers several years ago, their focus became clear: creating Southern inspired, fun and stylish kid products that they would want to buy and have in their homes. Karla and Sarah love adding their unique and collected view of the South, much of which is inspired by Georgia living, to their products.
unnamed
Helmsie’s hope is that the brand reflects the rich and unique culture of the South. It is important to Karla and Sarah that Helmsie showcase a new South that is modern and welcoming, yet still boasts of rich colors, style, and timeless charm for which it is known.
____
Helmsie launched a couple of weeks ago and their first product, Not Your Momma’s Alphabet Cards, is available for preorder on Kickstarter now. Backers of the campaign receive significant discounts on multiple sets of the ABC cards and their fine art prints.
unnamed

Southern Reads: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

img_0824

 

It has been over 20 years since the publication of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In that span, John Berendt’s  book has racked up approximately 2,700,000 hard cover sales as well as over 1,300,000 in paperbacks sales. It also spent 216 weeks on top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.

“Rule number one: Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when things happen. That’s when you find out everything you want to know.”

In case you are one of the few who haven’t read the the book as of yet, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil recounts the trials of the eccentric antique dealer Jim Williams, who was accused of murdering Danny Hansford on May 2, 1981, in Williams’ home, the beautiful and architecturally renowned Mercer-Williams House.

mercer-williams

Jim Williams’ murder trials serves as the dramatic thread that binds together fascinating characters such as The Lady Chablis, a club performer with a manly secret, the piano-playing con artist Joe Odom,  the voodoo priestess Minerva, the lady of 6,000 songs Emma Kelly, attorney Sonny Seiler and many other mysterious real life characters of Savannah.

John Berendt

The author John Berendt lived in a small apartment just off Forsyth Park and spent eight years taking notes and penning what would become a best seller, putting Savannah in the travel destination spotlight. Hotel-motel tax revenues rose about twenty-five percent in the two years following publication of the book, and cottage industries related to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil sprang up, as did trolley tours of the main sites.

The book won the Southern Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction.

The rights were sold to Warner Brothers to make a film adaptation and Clint Eastwood was brought on to direct. On May 5, 1997, shooting began on Monterey Square in Savannah. The cast included Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams, Jude Law as Danny Hansford, John Cusack as the John Berendt character (renamed John Kelso), Paul Hipp as Joe Odom, Jack Thompson as Sonny Seiler (Seiler himself played the judge in the trial), Irma P. Hall as Minerva, and Eastwood’s daughter Alison as Mandy Nichols (a romantic interest of Odom in the book, of Kelso in the movie).

You can read more about the beautiful Mercer-Williams house (in which Danny Williams was shot) here as like all things in Savannah it also has a mysterious  past

“We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’ In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’ In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is ‘What would you like to drink?”

 

Southern Reads: The Proud Highway by Hunter S. Thompson

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” – Hunter S. Thompson

img_0826

In wild and fascinating letters to people such as Norman Mailer,  Charles Kuralt, Tom Wolfe, Lyndon Johnson,  Joan Baez, and the NRA, Kentucky’s native son, Hunter S. Thompson captures the essence of the 1960s in America. He does this through his brash and sardonic perspective that is unapologetic … showing no mercy and pulling no punches.

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”- Hunter S. Thompson

The Proud Highway is Hunter’s life biography, written in real time in the form of letters to anyone he had a bone to pick with, or a question that needed answering. Most of the time they come across as wild rants, bordering on gibberish, yet if you read closely, you will find genius. If you really want to learn anything about Hunter, here is the best place to do it with the most accuracy. These correspondence are a clear insight into the mind of a drunken southern gentleman on the verge of greatness. I have many favourite authors, but Hunter is at the peak and this particular book is the reason why.  This is not Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is writing in it’s purest form that is both hilarious and shocking, yet always honest (at least in his own mind). I hope you enjoy!

Below is one of the correspondence included in the book:

Municipal Court Magistrate, Town Hall, West Milford, NJ November 6, 1959:

Dear Sir,
Earlier today I was given a summons to appear before your court on November 9, on a charge of ‘leaving the scene of an accident.’ I shall have to decline this appearance, and I hope this letter will explain why. By November 9, I shall be well out of the state of New Jersey, but I don’t want to leave without explaining my position…” 

“So, faced with a choice of paying a minimum of $25 for falling off a motor scooter on a public road, and fleeing the state to avoid prosecution, I chose to leave the state. I am a free-lance writer and simply cannot affort to pay a fine of $25 or more at this time. And, since I obviously left the scene and am therefore guilty, I would have no choice but to go to jail in lieu of paying the fine…”

“So, we are all criminals: those of us who skid and fall on damp, unmarked roads, and those others who stop and give aid to the injured. If this situation is not patently ridiculous to you, then I can only congratulate myself on having the good sense to avoid an appearance in your court…”