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Book Anxiety – It’s a Thing

bookofjoyUnless you’re suffering from the worst case of Montezuma’s revenge, coming home from a holiday mostly always sucks.

Besides going back to w-o-r-k, there’s the unpacking, and answering emails, and getting back to all the shit you wanted a rest from in the first place. Responsibility is overrated.

On top of my already raging general anxiety about everything, I now have book anxiety. Wonderful.

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This time I thought I was smart. I prepared for the back-to-work crash. Prior to leaving for my holiday I purchased a brand-spanking-new book and placed it next to my bedside. Ah, yes, a little escapism.

However, while in Ireland and France, I loaded up on…yah, you got it – books.

You’ve heard people use the saying, “My eyes are bigger than my stomach.” If you haven’t, I’m not sure where you hang out.

There has also got to be a saying for bookworms who indulge in purchasing books but have tiny amounts of time in which  to consume them.

I am guilty of disobeying my doctor’s orders and having a decluttered bedside. It is cluttered with books and magazines and more books. So many books and such little time…

Since the grand unpack, I have added;

Book of Kells by Bernard Meehan

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Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation,

 

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Stamped with the precious Shakespeare & Co ink, I might add! So very exciting for a bookworm! Eeek!

Imaginary Journey by Elvire De Brissac

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These have all been added to my bedside pile which already includes a Historical Herbal Medicinal Guide, two books by Caroline Myss, a Kurt Vonnegut novel, a trashy romance, and a book of Irish fairytales all on a lovely bed  of seasonal magazines.

I’m also on the cusp of losing my e-copy of The Book of Joy that I borrowed to read on the airplane.

Oh, the stress! The incredible stress of being a bookish woman!

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Do Not Wash the Floor: Putting on Your Big Hat

tiredwomanDoes it amaze you that the people you live with (aka your family) know where to go get stuff but they can’t remember how to put it away? It kind of makes you twitch doesn’t it? The high level of frustration which comes with lack of respect for your  time.

If I took a survey of all of my women-friends and asked how they were feeling, most of them would answer the same way; Tired.

I’m tired.

Fatigue. It seems to be a running theme among women in their 40’s. Most are smack in the middle of feeling the pressure of their long-forgotten wild selves tugging relentlessly at their heart-strings.  We’re now in the middle of our  lifetime on this earth, and we can feel it in our bones.

We can feel it slip away every time that we clean up someone else’s mess, and every time we sweep the floor.

Time seems to have accelerated just as we need things to slow down.  Something inside of us feels like it needs to be uncaged.  If we listen hard enough, we can hear our goddess call out from deep down in the dark visceral places of our suppressed soul: Let me out!

How the hell do we do that?!

We must use our precious energy to build firm boundaries and defend them with (and for) our lives. For the majority of women, the idea of leaving work, taking time to rediscover and recover their passions is an impossible ideal.  Yet, we must take time away to listen to our own intuition.

Another way to strengthen connection to intuition is to refuse to allow anyone to repress your vivid energies…that means your opinions, your thoughts, your ideas, your values, your morals, your ideals.

I’m a woman of strength and courage, and I even find that carving out time for this self-care is a tug-of-war. We all know that days off are filled with domestic chores which women are expected to do; organizing, planning and preparing meals, laundry, the never-ending business of tidying and picking up miscellaneous crap.

One day, years later, after washing the kitchen and living room floors by hand, she slipped into her very best silk blouse, buttoned her long skirt, and pinned on her big hat.  She pressed her husband’s shotgun to the roof of her mouth and pulled the trigger. Every woman alive knows why she washed the floors first.

Taking time to refresh your spirit in the privacy of your own thoughts is essential. Understanding where those thoughts are coming from, helps to understand why we’re so damn tired.

During busy times, creative pursuits may be put on hold, and our time even more precious. For these times, I reach for a book. A few minutes of quiet time to read words of wisdom from other women always sustains me.

For the these important moments during the day when you get to nourish your divine feminine, I suggest a few good reads;

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy
  3. Women & Power by Mary Beard
  4. Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes ( I confess, I can’t get enough of this book right now…reading and re-reading)
  5. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty & Change by Pema Chodrun

Whatever you do, do not wash the floors. Let someone else take a turn.

Put on your best silk blouse, button up your skirt, put on your big hat and go out into the world.

We need one another at this time in our lives more than ever before ladies, and we need to see our courage and hunger for life reflected back to us by our peers when we aren’t feeling that courageous ourselves.

All quotes taken from Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
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Best Books for Fall

chickensWe’re all busy enough without feeling like we have to keep up with the reading list that’s padding the pockets of the wealthy (aka Heather’s Picks). In other words, these selections are not promoted by the CEO of a retail empire, although I am linking you to that empire as I’m a huge fan of the variety that they have to offer. Hypocrite consumer? You betcha!

These are the reading picks of a writer who barely squeaks out time to scratch a legible signature between working and parenting and trying to have a life.

So, here you are darlings. These are the books I hope to get to before I’m too old to comprehend what I’m reading or before December, whichever comes first.

 

  1. The Big Thing by Phyllis Korkki
  2. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  3. Breaking Through Power by Ralph Nader
  4. Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco
  5. Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier

Hopefully I get through at least a few of these before something else catches my eye. And yes, I’m dead serious about the chickens.

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Uncorked Part 1: A Little Of the Heming-Way Becomes Her

heming wayWhatever story you buy about the character of Ernest Hemingway, you have to admit that he’s a hell of a writer. He lived a remarkably interesting life, and didn’t pull any punches.

Personally, I find the stories and myths about his life fascinating. Maybe it’s the era within which he lived, keeping company with Picasso, the Fitzgerald’s, and the fascinating Gertrude Stein.

Maybe I just love men who are assholes. That could very well be it.

There have been books written, tongue-in-cheek, on the ‘Heming-Way’; How to be a manly man.  In case you can’t read the font, the cover of the book reads; “How to unleash the booze-inhaling, animal-slaughtering, war-glorifying, hairy-chested, retro-sexual legend within, Just Like Papa!”

After reading Hemingway in Love, I fell in love (writer to writer of course darlings) a little more with Mr. Hemingway.  This from a woman who has written in his old haunts in Havana and Paris, France.

You see, the book is a tale of regret regarding lost love. Or rather, love pissed away by ego and, well, that’s it.  Just ego.

Spoiler alert; during a twilight-years  discussion with his dear pal F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway admits to the failure of his grand affair (basically he left his first wife whom he met, fell in love with and married while he was a nobody, for a spoiled rich girl who got whatever she wanted, including Papa). inlove

I made a mistake with Pauline, that’s all. A goddam fatal mistake….No mater what they tell you about reliving the past, it’s not a bridge…She tried to use her wealth to connect us, but it just put me off. I’d made it on my own and I had to keep it that way.

Ahh, yes, there you have it. “I’d made it on my own“.

So many women have made it on their own, in spite of….

…you name it; sexual abuse, poverty, physical abuse. Whatever it is, choose your poison.

Others have not had to face such adversity, and so, they have never had the necessity of having to cultivate their inner Heming-way; toughening up with no one to pour their pink champagne or hold them while they cry.

I for one have never had a father (brother, husband, uncle…..) look out for my best interest or protect his little girl. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done on my own and under my own steam.

Women who have had to walk with their heads held up high, without the benefit of daddy, husband or family-money funded Louboutin’s know what it’s like to have to maintain some rough edges in order to cut through the barbed-wire of independent life.

Kindness matters, yet sometimes a lady has to know when to drop an f-bomb to get the fair result of her efforts. A little booze-inhaling, retro-sexuality can go a long way as a salve to the harsh reality of single living, and letting the silver-spoon-in-mouth born crowd know that you mean business, and have the balls to carry that business out.

As Hemingway allegedly said, reliving the past is not a bridge. We all live, and we all learn. Bridges burn and crumble.

The Her-heming-way’s among us know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep and plaster on a smile in the morning so you can bring home the bacon. They know that reliving the past is definitely not a bridge , and they’re glad that it’s not.

To all of the Her-Heming-Way ladies out there,  I salute you.

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Sunday Morning Meditation: Book Love is Nothing Unless You Give it Away

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The Little Engine that Could, Frog and Toad, Anne of Green Gables….

Sunday morning. Yah, I’m not a morning person. Not at all.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown to appreciate the quiet of morning. It allows me to sip my coffee at my little writing desk or on the patio when the weather is warm, take in the sunshine, and contemplate what is.

Sunday I try to read the paper, do some writing, and if I’m really lucky, I can quiet my mind enough to read a book. If I’m not working.

When I’m on a roll, I devour books like Fred Flintstone devours Whateverosaurus ribs.

I love sharing that passion for reading with little ones, especially those who are so tiny that they sound out each word letter by letter.

When they finally make sense of an entire word or an entire sentence, their faces light up like they’ve unlocked the secret door to a new kingdom. And they have.

I remember the joy in reading Shel Silverstein’s, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the bittersweetness of life captured so poignantly in the The Giving Tree, in such a simple way that even a small child could relate to. I rediscovered Silverstein’s work as an adult in such giggly classics as My Uncle Oswald. If you need a laugh, you need this book.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

~Shel Silverstein~

My favourite books as a child were; The Little Engine that Could (which as turned into a mantra of mine), Frog and Toad, and Anne of Green Gables. What were yours?

Years ago, I struggled to read. I was not the first kid in the room to raise their hand at circle time to give it a go. No, I suffered from shyness, and was sent for remedial help. Today I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature. We all come to reading, knowledge, and the wonder of the world around us in our own time.

Wishing you the joy of reading, and the magic of sharing that joy with a young person. Happy Sunday…

PS; For the adults out there, some favourite books that I would suggest are:

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald G. May, Bring Me the Rhinoseros by John Tarrant, and The Heart of the World by Ian Baker, Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version, Moon over Marekesh by Nazneen Sheikh and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (because we all need to be reminded that there is magic in life).

Wishing you the joy of reading, and of sharing that with some of the younger people in your life.

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A Literary Life Examined: Part 2

harukias I was saying, my gut instinct was telling me it was time to clear out my bookshelves.

Did this mean that I had an impending move? Perhaps making space in my bedroom and writing shrine meant that I was spiritually making room for my new novel or maybe even a new man?

Ok, maybe it’s as simple as my shelves were double banked, and stacked to bursting, while the piles of books on the floor were becoming dangerous to my clumsy self.

Opening the package with my two newest books, An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou, and The Nature of Personal Reality, I realized that I didn’t have a place put them, and that I also needed to get out more.

I equate e-books with vibrators. Not the real thing, but they’ll do in a pinch. I clearly needed to make more room for more books, and clear a path for a permanent man in my life.

First, I got rid of the majority of novels. Although I had enjoyed them, I knew that the likelihood of me ever re-reading them was slim.

Kitschy little coffee-table books were next. Although some of them were adorable, and had been given to me by sweethearts and friends, I bagged those up as well. My hope was to rid myself of enough books to get rid of one of four bookshelves.

Well over 100 books have been placed in bags ready for….??? Perhaps a trip to the Salvation Army shop, or maybe stuffed in the shed until the community yard sale? I only know that getting rid of them feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

As I sat here writing, looking at my still-full shelves, I had a Dr. Phil, “Get Real” moment with myself. After gulping my last mouthful of lukewarm tea, I got up and forced myself to remove more books from the shelves.

The last of the books to leave were old text books that had belonged to my grandparents. I allowed myself to keep two, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language from 1909, and a text-book of shorter poems (most are over 4 pages long) from 1924. The poetry book is the same one that my maternal grandmother read ‘The Highwayman’ from when I was a little girl.

As a young parent, I read, The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can do to Shape Boys Into Exceptional Men, and held on to that book for dear life. Time for that to go….

I let go of my Billy’s Best Bottles annual wine guidebooks. Billy Munnelly, please go back to your pre-2009 style and go back to print. Us writer-wino types miss having something to inspire our cheap-but-cheerful creative wine rants.

My NRSV of the good-ole Bible is my most weathered book, and it remains in place next to a copy of the Tao te Ching, Quarn, Heart Sutra and Bhagavad Gita. Leo Buscaglia, the Dali Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh  bookend the same shelf.

My “So You Wanna Be a Sexy Bitch“, is stacked on my half-read Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Been there, done it all, got the bruises. My friend the Amazing C will likely inherit these via snail mail care package at some point, along with a return of unopened sex toys and some Godiva chocolate. My Psychology & Religion textbooks stayed along with the Canadian Press Stylebook, my collection of Jimmy Buffett novels and Leonard Cohen’s perfect musings.

Leadership books concerned with corporate greed or capitalism found their way to the bags, but leadership books that spoke to personal leadership and whole-being stayed.  My dreamer’s dictionary and Animal Speak stayed beside my bed. I let go of the textbooks about early Christianity, literary journals, and the self-help books that I read when my marriage was unraveling.

My running and meditation books stayed, and the Haruki Murakami book, What I talk about When I Talk About Running earned a special place on the shelf of the books I refer to on a regular basis.

The obscure books about the Santeria Religion, sociological history books about the Salem Witch Trials, and Black Skin White  Mask – the book I was required to dissect for my acceptance into a graduate studies program also stayed. Books from my post-colonial theatre class were relegated to the bags-to-go.  Some of the Venetian and Moroccan history books were packed away. I kept only a few, enough to encourage me to chase my dreams, even if my feet feel like lead sometimes and my spirit is a bit ragged.

Books that melted my heart stayed;

The Last Friend by Tahar Ben Jalloum

Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Bones of the Master by George Crane

Gertrude and Alice by Diana Southam

I kept Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie, and my collection of Margaret Atwood’s the Journals of Susanna Moodie.

Anything by Anais Nin stayed.

The factual book that made me laugh the most and I’ve recommended to not a few friends, A Walk in The Woods also stayed.

I kept Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Thoreau, Orwell, Neruda, Ginsberg, Neruda, Garcia and two copies of the Great Gatsby.

Sentimentality lends itself well to my ability to empathize at work and in my personal life, but it sure as hell binds up my space with knickknacks and other energy sucking objects.

Anyone stepping back to consider what’s left on my bookshelves would be wise to know my secret; these books aren not intellectual fodder. I am attached to them in the same way that I am attached to the old blue serving plate that my grandmother wrapped and secretly tucked into my suitcase just months before she died.

I keep them here because they speak to my heart’s desires.

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A Literary Life Examined: Part I

bookshelfBy the time I was 26, I was already orphaned, divorced, and a parent.

Life, in all of it’s complex mystery was starting over for me. I was frightened, but I was young, and unlike the almost 40-year-old me, I was convinced that the years ahead would be the best, most successful and full of love.

The written word had always held a powerful hold over me. Whether it was a brochure, travel advertisement, novel or text-book, I was intrigued by reading things I didn’t know about, or have any experience with.

So, at the tender age of 26, moving from small town life to the city, I fell in love with big bookstores, fabulously romantic used bookstores, men who had cultivated their intellect and with reading anything I could get my hands on. Tim Sander’s 2002, “Love is the Killer APP”, changed how and what I read;

When we were kids, we loved to role-play, and doctor was one of our best roles.

Try it again today. Prescribe books to contacts like a doctor would prescribe

medications for patients. (p102)

And so it began. My absolutely insatiable adult-appetite for reading. No book, magazine, e-zine, chapbook or greeting card has been safe from my clutches since then.

As a child I read to escape. As an adult, I began to read in order to satisfy my lust to figure things out.

Fast forward to today.

Having been fascinated by men who are primarily interested in their own intellect, I am still single, and surrounded by ceiling-high piles of books.

My graduate studies interests have ranged from South American and Caribbean liberation theology to bio-ethics. I have an English & Religious Studies degree, a professional designation and an advanced something or other for helping recently traumatized folks recover from crisis. I know how to tie surgical knots, Egyptian embalming techniques and how to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue. Men who can discuss politics, psychology, baseball and not get lost in their GQ ego’s turn me on.

“If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t f^(K him”, posted one of my social media friends.  Yes, I thought, wise advice. Men who lack a proper bookshelf or a decent stack of books on an appropriate number of seemingly unrelated subjects aren’t really the kind of fella I can have a decent conversation with. Perhaps the quote should have read, “If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t expect a thoughtful conversation, just  f^(k him.”

But I digress…..

This morning, with the sun shining high, and the arrival of spring just around the corner, I decided I needed to make room in my room. It was time to hold myself to the sage advice of a decluttering expert, “If it’s not beautiful or useful, get rid of it.” I immediately packed a bag for my teenager and kicked him out…..

Kidding.

By far the most difficult ‘stuff’ for me to part from has always been my books. As a writer, I go back to many of them, rereading for style, content, and most importantly inspiration.  As a professional and speaker, I go back to create engaging presentations and educational pieces. Why on earth would anyone get rid of such an expansive library right in their very own home.

Well, mostly because they (AKA ‘I’),  live in a small 950 square foot garden town home, and the public-library is a 5 minute walk along a lake trail.  Oh, yes, and I’m trying to get over my literary attachment issues.

While leading the cull of words written on paper, I was able to clear out at least 120 books, but there were some I just couldn’t resist keeping on the shelves…..

Stay tuned for, A Literary Life Examined Part II