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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Day 106: Sometimes We Have to Find Our Knees

In Beauty, Books, life, Sadness, Thoughts on March 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

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If you have ever read the book Little Bee then you probably remember this line:

“Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.”

Or this one:

“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, ‘I survived’.”

Some days I feel like I’m writing a very sad story, and some moments I feel like my scars are so deep they’re imprinted on my heart. The cover of the Little Bee story features a black silhouette of Little Bee’s profile and written all over her face is scrawled the title in twisted and tangled letters. I have to admit, I couldn’t even make out the title of the book in the store, and it wasn’t until I began to read that I realized it read–Little Bee. Looking at the book again tonight sitting her aside my computer, I realize the letters are Little Bee’s scars written all over her face, her face then plastered on her story.

Tonight I sit trying to make sense of my own scars, trying to sort out which ones are jagged, raised, white from years of settling, fresh with redness and newness. I’m a thinker. Sometimes I spend hours trying to figure out these scars, how to wipe them away and make myself flawless again. Tonight I am reminded that scars never disappear, they are marks of survival, they are part of our story that got the chance to keep being written.

I fell to my knees in prayer, not because I’m religious, but because I needed some thing else to hear my story even if it was just the air. I needed to show my scars, to itemize them, and then I needed to remember that a sad story means that I am alive and with the flick of a page I will turn around to smile again.

a whit.

Day 104: I’m Ready to Read Again

In Blogging, Books, Christmas, Holidays, Reading, Writing on December 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

blowing-leavesYesterday was a wonderful day.

As I emerged from my drab office building, I was overcome with the power of the wind. I didn’t notice it at first, I must have been caught up in a thought but as I glanced out the corner of my window the leaves swirled. Then, driving out of the parking lot, I felt my car gently shake and a loud clunk—obviously an acorn had struck me side on. Then I knew the wind was blowing, hard.

It’s those gentle reminders, whether they’re nature’s acorn or self-induced subtle incidents—like the time I put the toothpaste in the refrigerator—that wake you up. As we enter the holiday season, it’s important to think about the concept of thankfulness. This year I have a lot to be thankful for, as I have every year. I, however, like many others, at times, get off track. I get caught up in those swirling leaves, swooshing around, busily, allowing everything around me to become a blur. Then an acorn hits me on the head and I STOP.

This pause is probably what inspired this very blog post, it’s what woke me up to the simple pleasures in my life. In that moment yesterday, I remembered how much I love writing. How much I’ve missed it, how long it has been since I’ve blogged. Then I got to thinking about another thing that I love…reading. As I’ve spent the better part of the last eight years working on degrees in English, my studies have dulled my love for reading—almost scarily. I found myself in recent months with no desire to ever read again. What a scary thought, a life without books—my books have taken me on so many inspiring journeys, inspired so many wonderful conversations with random strangers, and led to so many new ways of ‘seeing.’

The other day I felt a spark as I walked through Barnes of Noble, I saw Gladwell’s new book—David and Goliath—and I almost bought it. Then today I realized how much I miss my books. How ready I am to have them back in my life, which also made me realize the greatness of

pauses

“A temporary stop in action”

Pauses as I see it are great in two different, but equally important, ways.

They allow us a cessation of any given activity chosen to pause, therefore provoking an even deeper love for that thing once it is resumed; and,

They offer us a moment to stop the chaos (noted above) and reflect, recharge, and realign.

Although pauses can be hard sometimes, we can be left missing the thing that so commonly decorates our life, they allow us to also see the real value of that thing. Sometimes, too, they allow us to place it more appropriately within our existence. I can’t wait to read

Schroder
Bough Down
Meaty
Her
David and Goliath
Falling to Earth
I Want to Show You More

Please pause this holiday season.

Happy Christmas!

Day 98: P.S. I Love You

In Books, Humanity, life, Love, Marriage, UK, Women on October 13, 2013 at 3:01 am

When I first saw the film P.S. I Love You, I knew it would always be a favorite of mine. It took me all the way across the world to Ireland, and it inspired my hike through the Wicklow National Forest–the very place where Holly met Jerry. Those that know me, know that I can, and do, watch this film over and over and over–

They often ask me, “why do you love it so much? It’s such a sad story.” While it does have its sad elements, I think there is something terribly empowering about the film. In it Holly has to learn how to make a life of her own because when Jerry dies Holly’s identity dies with him; he’s all she has ever known. She has to learn how to be by herself, one of the hardest lessons someone can endure in this life, and she has to learn how to build the very life that she questions at the start of the film, “I just see all of our friends buying houses and having babies–I wonder when our life is going to start?” Jerry laughs, “Our life has already begun, this is it, this is our life Holly.” After Jerry dies, Holly gets letters from him, the letters aren’t for Jerry, even though he claims they’re sent because “he just can’t let go yet.” They’re for Holly. They act as a mentor on her powerful, and oftentimes difficult journey.

I think we learn to love the things that we identify with. In an interview with the author of the book that inspired the film, the author describes this very feeling, “Writing this book was a very lonely process, but in a lot of ways it was very similar to what Holly experiences within the novel. It’s an isolating process, but you always come out on the other end better for it.”

I don’t watch the film for the “love story” aspect, I watch it because it reminds me how to be powerful and courageous. I watch it because it reminds me that this is my life and I shape the journey (part of the reason I went to Ireland two years ago). At the end of the film Holly’s mother tells her, “just remember that if we’re all alone then at least we’re all in that together too.” 142098210V

Day 79: Let The Tour Commence…{How I Decorate Series}

In Blogging, Blogs, Books, DIY, Home Decor on February 27, 2013 at 4:16 am

I was waiting to finish decorating my rental {I figure by the time I come close to finishing we’ll be moving to a new place}.

I was waiting to get my “real” camera charged.

Well, I’m waiting no longer.

I’ve decided to commence my “How I Decorate” Series.

For this first set, I am featuring my pre-existing built-in bookshelf {sometimes rentals have cool things like this, sometimes}, now if only I could get those “used saves” stickers off–

I think I’ve just discovered a great 7 year-old chore, bwhahahaha. Turns out interior design isn’t my only strong suit. smiles.

For my bookcase, I decided to integrate the old, the new, and of course, accents of nature which is a central theme throughout my home.

ChromeBookend

Bookends are a great way to modernize through bringing in a hint of the past. I found my chrome horse bookend, or rather it found me, pairless, and thus 5$ at Homegoods. You can make your own though, probably for less than what I paid–or pretty darn close.

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{photo courtesy of houseofearnest.com}

For my shelf I focused on bringing a little sparkly in with the vintage.  The Nester does a lot of this, it lends to a real coherent look because the outlandish stuff is off-set by the antique colors, and thus my chrome coral. I found the owl for 5$ at Homegoods because he is missing an ear {a little tilt and it’s all gone} the bust was a thrift store find.  I got the painted silver coral and old world sand timer at Homegoods too. Since I am an English scholar, I have to make mention of the books, both are great, Lolita and China Men. Oh, and of course my IKEA/thrifted map of Paris, although I am thinking this might be a cool idea now that I am traveling more.

Bookshelf

Bookshelf2

a whit.

Daily Cupcake: Blogs I Love

In Blogging, Blogs, Books, Children, Education, Family, Mother, Motherhood, Women, Writing on February 24, 2013 at 8:28 am

Today’s cupcake, Blogs I Love goes out to this blog–a blog about being a mom and author–two of my favorite things [although I haven’t quite accomplished the author thing, yet].  I am just waiting for my early retirement, a new macbook, and a house with an office.

The author of this blog also wrote the book Sparkly Green Earrings a novel that chronicles life and being a family…

before I became a mother I had no idea that it would be the hardest and best thing I would do in my life. that I would look at this little person and see so much of myself…my sense of humor, smile, and ability to create drama out of nothing…and I can start to think you’re just like me but you’re not, you’re your own person–you are the dream we couldn’t have imagined and I wrote this book for you. love mama

As mothers we do so many things for our children–like drive home to get a different booster seat so our 2nd grader looks cool as he drives to the school fire station field trip, and clean up dog poop so our kids can know the beauty of loving something that loves them back threefold, and go to the store and buy 7 of the same pair of shorts because they are his “favorite” and that way he won’t know he’s not wearing the same outfit everyday. There are the usual things people always mention [probably the people who don’t have kids yet]…midnight feedings, tantrums, yada yada yada.  It’s the unusual things, though, like bribing your kid to leave the toilet seat down and tricking them out of candy by saying it’s owie medicine–that’s what makes a mother. You can enter to win a free, signed copy of Melanie’s book Sparkly Green Earrings here.

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a mom whit.

HOLSTEE AUGUST: Remember to Love Because It’s What Makes You Real

In Books, Esteem, Friendship, Happiness, Holstee Manifesto, Humanity, Laughter, life, Love, Teaching, Thoughts, Writing on August 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Love is such an interesting emotion, it’s one of the things that makes me feel vulnerable, but being loved is truly what makes us real–just like the Skin Horse says. It doesn’t happen to people who break easily because love takes toughness, endurance, and perseverance. Love is not like the romance film, it’s much more real than that, and I oftentimes wonder if the people in this world, the ones who truly know how to love, are only those who have endured an entire lifetime giving it to someone. I think it just might take those loose joints, lost hair, and shabbiness to truly understand what it means to love. Perhaps that’s why we’re given an entire lifetime to pursue it, perfect it, and understand it.

In looking through the Holstee Manifesto and it’s proclamations, which we have now made it through in entirety, the only words that appear more than once throughout are: life and love. This provokes something in me, it reminds me of the importance of living a life of sought love. That’s what the manifesto begs. It’s not easy, it will hurt at times, but it’s like this quote states:

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HOLSTEE JUNE: OPEN YOUR MIND, ARMS, AND HEART TO NEW THINGS AND PEOPLE

In Beauty, Books, Fiction, Holstee Manifesto, Humanity, life, literature, Men, Thoughts, Women, Writing on June 30, 2012 at 4:13 am

This book kind of pisses me off, kind of.  Anyway, you should read it, if not for anything else then at least for the controversy surrounding it.  I guess the guy James, who coincidentally reminded me of an alcoholic I once dated also named James, made up parts of the entire non-fiction memoir.  He got baited by Oprah (poor guy–not really).  And the funniest part of it all, after a heated law suit it was determined by the publisher that readers could get a full refund of the book by presenting their original receipt, and a ripped out page 165 (in some basement somewhere there’s a HUGE ripped out pile of Frey’s page 165s–or maybe he wanted them back personally), with a signed affidavit that they we’re essentially ‘scarred’ by the intentional misleading facts within the book.  If you did that, you are crazier than the author.

Like any good author though, Frey said that he did feel the facts within the book were ‘true’ for him because that’s how he felt or acted in his own mind, essentially he related his perceived persona versus factual experiences–coo koo AND brilliant (I bet his publisher thought up that one after consulting a literary theorist at Yale).

All of that said, there are parts of this novel that really resonated with me, I even shed a tear or two by the end (which I never would have imagined). Like this one,

If you understand that all things change constantly, there is nothing that you will hold on to, all things change….Trying to control the future is like trying to take the place of the Master Carpenter.  When you handle the Master Carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand….Knowing other people is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom.  Mastering other people is strength, mastering yourself is power.  If you realize that what you have is enough, you are rich truly rich.  Stay in the center and embrace peace, simplicity, patience and compassion.

If you want to shrink something, you must first expand it.  If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish.  If you want to take something, you must allow it to be given.  The soft will overcome the hard.  The slow will beat the fast.  Don’t tell people the way, just show them the results.

As James learns to embrace these principals, he begins to heal.  He’s an addict, I am not.  I’ve known addicts, though. One thing you learn from the novel, the most important thing I would argue, is that we all have a piece of addict within us.  Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

The Manifesto says, OPEN YOUR MIND, ARMS, AND HEART TO NEW THINGS AND PEOPLE.

James meets a girl in rehab, Lilly, he loves her very much.  When she is scared or alone, he tells her, “Remember the word Ever.” Ever means always, he means to tell her that he will always love her but I think it means more than that too.  It references this earlier continuum of life, throughout life we must EVER open our souls to the people and things that are around us.  It is in this that the Million Little Pieces come together to make something whole–love.  Love is being whole.

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