Unless 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.
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…
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!
We’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.
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.”
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:
Someone I love dearly, a best friend and wonderful person is suffering so deeply that the only caring I can offer is to hope that he knows he is loved as he suffers through what is, I’m sure, one of his ‘Dark Nights of the Soul’.
What my heart tells me to do is to keep reminding him of that, but what I know I have to do is let him find his own way, and hope that during the darkest of times, he knows that he is loved.
I want to call, text, send emails, books, quotes, stories, cards and carrier pigeons. I want to wrap him up and protect him from the demons only he can face and conquer.
I want to stomp my feet and shake my fist at the sky and….
To be honest, I’m not sure, as I’ve been having what I like to describe as, “The Dark Night of the Whateveryoucallit”. In other words, I don’t like to admit that I’m sad, depressed, angry, frightened or broken-hearted.
I like to breathe deeply and remember that whether or not I like it, I will wake up tomorrow and slog through the difficult emotions.
I like to remind myself that it’s ok to come home, cry myself to sleep and let this sadness snake its way through my body until I’m strangled by it.
I like to remember that ignoring it, or raging against it will not make it less painful or faster to go away.
Although it is painful to experience the ‘darker emotions’, the more you allow yourself to feel these in their gruesome fullness, the more cathartic it is. It’s scary as hell, but why use your energy fighting something you must face?
That’s been my experience anyway. Instead of running away from it, I just let it wash over me, seep into my bones, and tumble as tears from my eyes. Whenever we emerge from these darker times, we are a changed person, often with more capacity for love, compassion and empathy. The storms polish us like sea glass that has been worn smooth from being tossed ruthlessly against the rocks, and then gently brought to shore.
I’ll share with you some of the things that I’ve learned about not resisting painful emotions;
1)You have to reach out to people. Don’t roll your eyes and stop reading. Everyone has their own life, but friends are always willing to listen and do what they can.
2) There is alchemy in every human encounter; each person is at the same time giver and recipient. Helpers are gifted the opportunity to help, by those in need.
3) No emotion is permanent, so there’s no point running away from the hard stuff. It stays there until you’re too exhausted from chasing the next item of retail therapy, cigarette, joint, drink, lay or thrill-seeking adventure. Then you’re just left worn out and having to deal with what you spent all of your energy running away from
4)We all screw up. We all stumble backward once in a while when we need to be reminded of why we didn’t stay there in the first place ( bad relationships, addictions, habits…you get the gist of what I’m saying here…).
5)Life goes on, even when you don’t ever want to wake up, it goes on. See #1 and #8 when you really are suffering.
6)Guilt and shame are chosen emotions. They’re tough ones to overcome because they whisper evil things to our ego, and ego is a ruthless critic. Looking deeply and compassionately at guilt and shame can ease a lot of internal suffering.
7)When you are able to, offering your compassion and love to another human being may be emotionally risky, but it’s totally worth it.
8) Talking does help. Language helps us process, but it also invites different perspectives and the occasionally necessary reality check.
For those barely able to take the next step through the dark night of their own soul, I wish you peace.
For those of you who care about someone who is going through this, I also wish you peace.
Be kind to yourself and be kind to one another. Be gentle…and stock up on tissue ’cause you’re gonna need it.
Mixed in with bag of qualifications and academic letters is an English degree. I’ve studied and written and read some of the best literature on the planet according to the almighty ‘They’.
I have also read a lot of smut. During certain moods and times of the year, I devour Harlequin novels like a Canadian eating blueberry flapjacks. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of reading a genre that most people won’t admit to enjoying.
Alas, I will come out of the chick-lit closet and admit that I’m a lover of lovers, love-stories, and happily-ever-afters. Go ahead and look down your long, literary noses. I can take your criticism, because I know that somewhere out there in the crowd of literature snobs are the bazillion hypocrites with reams of chick-lit stashed under the mattresses.
This afternoon I picked up another Nora Roberts novel, Jewels of the Sun. It’s an older novel, but, like most other things that I read, including philosophy, religious texts and business books, it has come at the right time and I can relate to it;
All the signs were there, had been there hovering and humming around her for months. The edginess, the short temper, the tendency toward daydreaming and forgetfulness. There’d been a lack of motivation, of energy, or purpose.
Most working women can relate to feeling like this at some time or another. I happen to work in a profession traditionally (as in from the dawn of time) dominated by men. Work isn’t just work, it’s working to change the entire language of what it means to be a professional.
As a barely middle-class, well-educated single parent, just keeping up with the demands of every day living is exhausting, so much so that I forget what it means to be feminine. It is an indulgence that I can not often afford to feel or express.
When I pick up a piece of chick-lit, I can escape into characters who mirror exactly what I’m feeling;
Every morning the simple task of getting out of bed to dress for the day’s [work] had taken on the proportions of scaling a mountain. Worse, a mountain she had absolutely no interest in seeing from a distance much less climbing…
Imagine, she thought, not having to talk to anyone for several days in a row! Not being asked questions and expected to know the answers. Not making small talk…No schedule that must be adhered to.
Not only are there characters written who normalize the exhaustion I feel, but they have lovely old crones who are well rooted in the goddess of the earth dishing out advice;
…Still, it’s a good spot, the hill, for looking inside yourself ot your heart’s desire. You look inside yours while you’re there.
Ah yes, the sweet temptation of foreign vistas and solitude. We all need a bit of prodding to leave our comfort zones and get back to our own authentic selves. A gal can only get by on daydreaming in local coffeeshops or long-hot-candle-lit-baths-so-you-can’t-see-the-grime, for so long.
While I begin the final countdown to my own time-out on the sea, I will internalize the advice of the old granny in the book;
…don’t stand back too long and watch the rest of the world. Life’s so much shorter than you think.