Art, Books

Book Recommendation: Day Six and Some Art

I took a few days off from my book recommendations and from writing my novel so that I could make some art that was swirling around in my head and needed to come out.

 

The Sun and Her FlowersNow that I’ve fed the starving artist part of myself, I am back to writing my novel, and I am back with another book recommendation: The Sun and Her Flowers by rupi kaur. I had previously read her book of poems, Milk and Honey, and loved it, but the The Sun and Her Flowers reached me at my core. The poetry is as beautiful as it is brutal. It is about love, loss, and sexual assault. It is about the aftermath of sexual assault and how it affects every aspect of the self. It is about all the things we do because we believe we are not enough as we are. I related to so much of this book, and it worked like a salve for my soul.

 

Books

Book Recommendation: Day Five

My fifth book recommendation is one I read when I was going through a difficult breakup: A Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman. This book had sat on my shelf, unread, for many years, but for some reason, during this particularly difficult time in my life, it called out to me. I was hooked the moment I began reading it. The book takes a tender, but honest look at the inner workings of the author’s relationship with her husband, and what happened when the relationship and life routine they had settled into was abruptly and permanently altered by her husband’s stroke. This book really challenged my ideas about what a relationship should look like. I realized that I had held an idealized version of what I thought a relationship should look like in my mind, and that I had held all of my relationships up to that unattainable standard. The book shows in a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking way, what most of us already know, that relationships are not easy, and just how far they can be pushed beyond tolerable limits and still survive. It shows how our relationships can be reshaped, redefined, remolded, sometimes without our wanting them to and still remain.
Books

Book Recommendation: Day Three

Many, many years ago, on New’s Years Eve, I had written down all the things I had wanted to accomplish in the next year. I wrote the list on one of the pages in the front of my Day-Timer, and promptly forgot all about it. A year later, when I went to put the next year’s calendar refill into my Day-Timer, I found it again. When I read it, I was floored because I had accomplished every single thing on the list, and these weren’t small things, these were really big dreams that I had, dreams I had no idea how to “make” happen, things like “become a firefighter.”

downloadAfter that experience, I wanted to know more about why that had worked so well. That is when I came across my next book recommendation: Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. This is another of my permanent collection books. It is a book I turn to when I need a sense of hope. Klauser discusses her own experiences with writing things down and how miraculous the practice was at created what she wanted in her life. I am always looking for ways to believe in some kind of magic while still having a sense of control about it. This practice of writing things down is something that has worked well for me since.

In my experience, it seems the act of writing things down, and then letting them go (out of my mind), works best. I have a very large glass jar that it’s very difficult to get things out of and is dark blue so I can’t see into it. I write things I am most anxious about, things I wish I could have, and big dreams I hope to accomplish onto little strips of paper and then drop them into the jar. Every new year, I shake out the papers from the jar, and I am astounded by how many things 1) I forgot I had written down and 2) were miraculously taken care of. So many of them were HUGE worries that I was incredibly anxious about, and I was amazed at how they seemed so small in hindsight (once they were magically resolved of course). However, if there are things that I pull out of the jar that have not been resolved or achieved, then I re-evaluate whether they are sill important to me, and if they are, I drop them back into the jar for the next year. It is a practice that is very similar to that first New Year’s resolution list I wrote in my Day-Timer and then forgot about, and it is, to date, the most successful practice I’ve had that has allowed me to be able to look back on the things that I’ve wanted, written down, and dare I say, made happen.

Books, Uncategorized

Book Recommendation: Day Two

When my son was hospitalized in a residential facility several years ago, I was devastated. When even the staff of the residential facility didn’t know what to do to help him, I started to try to figure things out on my own. One of the practices that helped us both was something I learned from today’s book recommendation: Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro.

DevotionI learned a lot from this book, mostly to just accept where I was at, and that there wasn’t just ONE way to be spiritual. It was okay to collect what worked for me from many different practices, and develop my own spiritual practice. But, what I learned from this book that had the most profound impact on my son and me was the Metta meditation which Shapiro discusses on page 36.

At the time that I found this book, my son had a hard time processing conversations. At the age of 18 months, he had lost his ability to walk, talk, and most other basic functions. He eventually gained back speech, but it had begun as echolalia, and then progressed from there. However, even though he had gained back his speech fully by the time he went into the residential facility (oftentimes being described as the “little professor” because of his adult-like speech), he still had difficulty processing and understanding what others were saying. In addition, he had an acute need for repetition which had presented itself as a severe form of OCD.

I believe it was these aspects of him, as well as my wholehearted belief that even though I couldn’t change nature, I could certainly pour on as much positive nurture as possible, that made the Metta mediation process stand out to me. So, I created a personalized Metta prayer from several different sources and read it to him every night on the telephone when he was in the hospital and every night before he went to bed when he was home for visits. By the time he was released, we had both memorized it, and repeated it often when we felt any kind of anxiety or sense of being out of control. I still have one of the handwritten copies I had made and keep it in my purse where it can easily be accessed.

Our Metta Prayer

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be strong.

May I be filled with love.

May I live with ease.

May I slow down and be more present.

May my heart be open to all that is.

May I have clarity of thought.

May I have clarity of speech.

May I have clarity of action.

Namaste.

This made a huge difference in our lives, and shortly after, my son began to write his own positive affirmations on post-it notes and post them all over the house to help him remember to be positive even though everything in his mind was telling him to be otherwise. I believe this practice is part of why he has not been hospitalized in the past six years.

A quick note: At the time I first read Devotion, I wrote a review on my other blog. If you’d like to know more about the book, you can read my thoughts here.