Kitchen Table Wisdom

Summer Reading (part I)

I’ve been wishing for years now I could clone myself. In order to have enough time to do all the reading (& writing) I’d really like to do, there would have to be at least 2 more of me. (Of course, neither the world nor I would really want that to happen!?)

Well…I’ve been reading some very fine books this summer. You might enjoy some of them too!

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, is the amazing story of a woman whose childhood was…hmmm…a little on the harrowing side, I’d say, by middle-class North American standards. I’m tempted to give my own children a copy of the book with the inscription “And you thought your Dad & I made mistakes!?!?!” Ms. Walls’ parents were…well…not your run-of-the-mill people, shall we say, & it seems a miracle their children became such strong individuals as adults. It’s a well-written & fascinating book. A real testament to the resilience of the human spirit…

This Is It – Dialogues on the Nature of Oneness (including interviews with Eckhart Tolle, U.G. Krishnamurti and Tony Parsons), by Jan Kersschot, is one I know I’ll be dipping into over & over again. In the Foreword, Tony Parsons (author of The Open Secret & As It Is) says “This is It invites the seeker to investigate the possibility that there is no one and nothing that needs to be liberated. The author speaks easily and clearly about moving beyond effort, belief and path into a new perception that sees everything as the expression of wholeness.” A very neat & sometimes challenging read. For me, the phrase “This is it” resonated right away. (My most recent posting on religion – My Religion – outlines some of the problems I see with much of “organized” religion.)

Falling Apart in One Piece – One optimist’s journey through the hell of divorce, by Stacy Morrison, is a book I reviewed very recently on the blog – here. An awesome read!

Three Cups of Tea – One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (yes, I know, I know – I ought to have read this one years ago, but… I didn’t!) is the incredibly inspiring tale of Greg Mortenson & his work over the past 17 years to build schools in rural Pakistan. One day in 1993 he was coming down from a gruelling climb (a failed attempt to scale “K2,” the world’s 2nd-highest mountain) & got “lost.” So begins the amazing saga of his work & determination & the eventual creation of (then) 53 schools in poor & remote areas with the help of the organization he co-founded, the Central Asia Institute.

Having just read Three Cups of Tea, I then borrowed Sally Armstrong’s book Veiled Threat – The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan. A most informative & inspiring book! Seeing the book reminded me I’d once heard Ms. Armstrong speak, & that she was then encouraging women to host potluck dinners as fundraisers for teachers in Afghanistan. I’d actually forgotten I’d co-hosted one of these myself, with a friend – & got wondering…is anyone still doing that?? If not, why not? Such an easy & fun way to get together with friends & also raise money for a great cause! (The money raised could be donated to the Mortenson group, the Central Asia Institute.)

Stones into Schools – Promoting Peace with Books, not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan is Greg Mortenson’s 2nd book, which I’ve just started in on. Would that we all had a tenth of this man’s energy & drive. We’d sure change the world mighty quick if we did!

Moving along to the fiction department:

The Bishop’s Man is a very fine book indeed. Linden MacIntyre’s fictional (& Giller prize-winning) tale of an insider enforcer, if you will, in a Catholic establishment riddled with…hmmm…language is failing me here. I always have a hard time knowing how to speak politely about priests who sexually abuse children. (Very occasionally, politeness seems a wee bit over-rated, don’t you think??) Well. The novel is a page-turner. Wildly well-written, interesting & challenging. So glad I finally picked this one up!

Noah’s Compass is a novel by Anne Tyler, long one of my favourite writers. Ms. Tyler’s characters are always…different. They often seem quite eccentric – yet are always so well drawn that one very much enjoys reading about their lives. Ms. Tyler blew me right out the water in this one with her recounting of (formerRoman slave & later Stoic philosopher) Epictetus’s lesson about everything having two “handles.”(1) Wow! That sent a shiver through me. Some of those ancient philosopher dudes sure knew a thing or two, eh?? For sure, also, you would never go wrong reading any Anne Tyler novel. I only wish she’s publish several every year!

Beatrice & Virgil is Yann Martel’s latest book. I gobbled it up yesterday in one big gulp. Wow! What a story. Unusual, disturbing – rather brilliant, I’d have to say. I love Martel’s sneaky way of letting readers know a little bit about what it’s like to be a well-known writer. Come to think of it, the whole plot is pretty sneaky, really. But as I said, rather brilliant…

I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake recently. Vonnegut is another of my all-time favourite writers. I’ve been reading his books for close to 40 years now! As it happens, I have an utterly hopeless memory for novels – the “up” side to this being I can re-read them & enjoy them every bit as much the 2nd time around! For sure, I re-read Vonnegut books & always find him brilliant & hilarious. He nails our society right to the wall, in such pointed ways that you marvel at his ability with the English language. Sometimes it makes one despair – but a laugh at human nature (& Vonnegut’s unique sense of humour) is never very far off. If you haven’t read any Kurt Vonnegut, what the heck are you waiting for? (Cat’s Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five would be great ones to begin with… One of his last books is a collection of essays called Man Without a Country; also brilliant!)

Two books I go back & back to are Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser & Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal, by Rachel Naomi Remen. I always like to put in a plug for these two because they are such moving, healing, helpful, wonderful books. (the posts ‘Broken – or Broken Open?’& ‘Lonely & Terrifed: Just Another ‘Bozo on the Bus’ will give you more of an idea about Lesser’s book. The post ‘Crying – Honouring Our Pain’ tells you how I sometimes use Kitchen Table Wisdom to jump-start the tears when nothing else is making them flow...)

There are 6 zillion other books I’m also crazy about! The postings ‘Books that could change your life!’ & ‘Books That Could Change the World!’ provide 2 lists of books I’ve found very, very special & from which I’ve learned a very great deal over the years.

Reading… I can never get enough of it. I’m addicted!!

And libraries – definitely my candidate for all-time-best-human-invention ever!! (Have you ever met a library you didn’t like? I rest my case…)

Happy reading!!

Janet

p.s. A week or so later: Gotta add here a mention of Philip Simmons's wonderful Learning to Fall - The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, which I have been making my way through slowly - due to the fact that I'm reading about 5 books right now, & also want to do this one justice. Simmons wrote the book while dying of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), & it is wonderfully thoughtful & ... compassionate & wise. Many of us have our own reasons - as we speak - to pick up some words of wisdom about living well "under the gun," as it were. This is well worth a good look!!

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “If a book doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?” – Alice Walker


(1) From Wikipedia: “Everything has two handles, one by which it may be borne, the other by which it may not. If your brother sin against you lay not hold of it by the handle of his injustice, for by that it may not be borne: but rather by this, that he is your brother, the comrade of your youth; and thus you will lay hold on it so that it may be borne.”

 

Crying. “Honouring Our Pain.”

<written March 19/10>

When I was a child, my older siblings used to call me a “crybaby.” They were right; I was! Of course, they teased me unmercifully & delighted in making me cry. Ah well, eh? They had their reasons for resenting me, hmm? Families are complicated critters…

Eventually, & it took me a humiliating-to-admit number of years, I finally learned to not cry in the face of the teasing. I became “tough.” Being tough – & resilient – is good, on the whole, I think, & my toughness & resilience have served me well, & will very likely continue to do so.

But we are human beings, are we not? Along with our toughness, our thick skins, we need to be able to feel deeply in order to be truly human. (Perhaps if we all felt more – allowed more deep & disturbing feelings in, there would be fewer wars & less violence in general, hmm? Oh there I go again – always aiming for the stars; don’t mind me…)

I do know I’ve been learning again to cry, & how good it makes me feel afterward. The old (or more recent) scars & wounds are still there, but magically, the pain of them is vastly diminished. I feel lighter. Free-er.

Joanna Macy says we need to “honour our pain.”(1) When we simply “stuff” it – push it down, pretend it isn’t there, it sickens us from the in-side out. Dulls us. Saps our energy.

Lots of us harbour plenty of old pain. Childhood wounds. Relationship heartbreaks. Ancient resentments. It’s good to let loose all this old…shit. Let the pus out of the wound(s), as it were. A good cry – even a wrenching howling session – would probably do wonders for most of us!

As Macy & John Seed learned in their despair & empowerment work, we actually free up energy when we speak out loud about our fears & our despair.

In Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa,(2) a book I’m reading at the moment, author Antjie Krog talks about the tears of a woman testifying in front of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose crying has a huge impact on those who hear her testimony. Krog says “The academics say pain destroys language and this brings about an immediate reversion to a prelinguistic state – and to witness that cry was to witness the destruction of language…was to realize that to remember the past of this country is to be thrown back into a time before language. And to get that memory, to fix it in words, to capture it with the precise image, is to be present at the birth of language itself. But more practically, this particular memory at last captured in words can no longer haunt you, push you around, bewilder you, because you have taken control of it – you can move it wherever you want to. So maybe this is what the commission is all about – finding words for that cry of Nomonde Calata.”(3)

When I re-read those words, I came/come close to tears myself (confession: I still don’t cry very easily). So many people I know had (I pause as I write this, looking for the definitive adjective)…awful…horrid…painful…nasty…soul-destroying things happen to them in their childhoods. Some of us can recall & articulate some of these so-painful things. Many have spent a lifetime repressing the memories (which chews up a fair chunk of our energy & vitality, as it happens).

Women often seem more able to articulate & thus wrestle with these ancient wounds, whereas men are often unable to do so. (For a variety of good reasons! I recommend that everyone on the planet read the book Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey(4) in order to understand why so many men have so much trouble getting in touch with their feelings & their pain. It’s a wonderful, wonderful practical & compassionate book.)

We don’t & really cannot let the pain & baggage go until we articulate it.

It is such a catharsis to say out loud something like (in my own case, to make this very personal indeed & no, I had no intention of saying this when I sat down to write this; the words are simply flying right off the end of my pen!) “My father didn’t give a rat’s ass about me.”

I can say that now with so much less emotional freight attached to it (& no, as it happens, that isn’t the only childhood wound, there was other stuff too. But for me, that was the most crushing thing, the one I pushed down the hardest, for sooooooooo many decades…).

Phew. Didn’t know that’s where this little essay was heading!?

Well. Your friendly local anarchist (that’s me!) says, have a good old wrenching cry from time to time. It will make you feel ever so much better.

As Joanna Macy advises, we need to honour our pain.(5) This does not make us weaker, it actually makes us stronger. More resilient. Maybe even a little more fierce…but in a good way, I think….

Flonda Scott Maxwell said, “You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.”

Reality is a little fierce these days. I reckon we need to be a little fierce to wrestle with it! (Fierce, but kind. Compassionate. Caring. Active…)

Janet

p.s. There are two authors who write wonderfully well & whose wise & compassionate words help unleash the tears for me when I know I need to cry but the tears aren’t coming. Rachel Naomi Remen’s awesome book Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories That Heal is … awesome!! The essay called “In Flight” will do it for me every time… Elizabeth Lesser is another emotion-unlocker for me (you must read Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow). I swear by both these books & their respective writers. I wrote about my introduction to Ms. Lesser in the essay “Lonely & Terrified: Just Another Bozo on the Bus.”

p.p.s. I’ve been “sitting on” this essay, but figured it was time to post it. Weeks after writing it, I’ve now come in contact with two books by Alice Miller – hooey!! Did these books ever jump into my arms! & right at the right time. From Rage to Courage and The Body Never Lies – The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting. Haven’t read the 2nd one yet, but am sure looking forward to it!

'Quote of the Day' with this post: “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” – Joseph Campbell

 

(1) There are several posts on this blog about Joanna Macy, a Buddhist scholar/writer & activist I greatly admire.

(2) Times Books/ Random House, 1998. Such a great book!!

(3) Pages 53 – 57.

(4) Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, Calvin Sandborn, New Society Publishers, 2007.

(5) Embracing Pain - 4-minute Tim Wilson film featuring Joanna Macy. You can find it here

Elephants. Showing up. Staying out of the way.

<drafted Feb. 4/10>

Ever since the phrase “an elephant in the room”  was introduced to me, I’ve been crazy about the concept. It’s so … useful!!

When Marissa mentioned the expression to me, she was referring to the phenomenon of being at a wedding involving a family of divorce. Everyone skirts around the underlying hostilities, baggage & inevitable tensions – as though there were an invisible elephant in the room. (Sure must use up a lot of energy, ya think?)

Gotta tell you, I’ve had way more experience with elephants than I care to enumerate.

Then too, & oddly enough, I am both a bit of an elephant myself, & sometimes (usually in different locales), an elephant caller. It is not only not particularly easy being in either role, it sometimes seems to make people around me a little uncomfortable too (my poor kids, eh??). Yet very often, people do tell me they enjoy my honesty & openness (I guess I sometimes say the things other people think, but are too afraid to say…).

It is also true, as I am only just now beginning to realize, that in a certain few relationships, when there have been rather large elephants lurking & I did not call them, things later blew up in very messy, unpleasant ways.

So, sheesh! I’m not sure what the lesson here is.

The other odd balancing act I seem to be ever navigating is the showing up/staying out of the way dynamic.

I believe quite passionately in “showing up” – which in my case takes the form of involvement in environmental activism, excessively honest blogging & trying to “be there” for friends & loved ones going through hard times.

Three writers I greatly admire talk about “showing up.” Joanna Macy spoke of the importance of our showing up with respect to the environmental crisis at a talk she gave in Toronto last June.

Elizabeth Lesser speaks of it in her awesome book Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow (the essay entitled 'For Hugo'). Joan Halifax says in her book Being with Dying – Cultivating Compassion & Fearlessness in the Presence of Death that there ought to be a sign saying “Show Up” at her monastery in Santa Fe.

Come to think of it, I’m certain Rachel Naomi Remen says plenty about it in her wonderful book Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories That Heal – if not perhaps in that exact phrase. Dr. Remen is, after all, all about showing up…

I greatly admire these women’s thoughts & writings & the awesome work each is engaged in – & totally embrace the concept of “showing up.”

And yet, & yet…

My experiences as an elephant in the room – & a frequent elephant caller – but a sometimes not-courageous enough elephant caller keep landing me in sticky, messy, damn-near-tragic situations, relationship-wise.

What is a person to do??

*******

Well. The clouds have blown away & the sun is shining brilliantly & my horrific cough has seemingly calmed itself down, at least for the moment. The act of writing down my thoughts has simultaneously lifted my spirits in the rather miraculous way it so often does. And I am recalling the words of two people whose wisdom often offers me so much comfort.

Elizabeth Lesser reminds us in Broken Open that we are all, after all, just fellow “bozos on the bus." No one has got it all together all the time. (Pema Chödron is also brilliant & sooooo compassionate on this score in her books The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving KindnessWhen Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times).

We are all works in progress, hmm?

I’ll have to keep right on wrestling with the odd dynamics of being an elephant in the room, an elephant caller, & when to “show up” & when to "stay out of the way.” (I have a horror of being “in the way” that I can only assume stems from my … challenging… childhood years. It’s an ever-present dynamic in my life. Still rassling with that one, for sure!)

Eckhart Tolle’s reminder that “This too will pass” will continue to offer its eternal wisdom, strength & wider sense of perspective.

(& then too, my own phrase “Cut your losses. Go where the energy is” will continue to serve me well – especially when I remember to follow my own good advice!!)

Janet

P.S. I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle & have mentioned him in several blog posts. If you know nothing at all about him, why not read the postings Pain Bodies on Parade (or Oh, To Be a Duck), Ducks, Unlimited; Humans?? Also Unlimited & Flap Your Wings.

'Quote of the day' with this post: "A dead end is just a good place to turn around." ~ Naomi Judd

 

Life Philosophy (as of Dec. 10/09)

<Dec. 10/09>

Interesting times, hmmm? On the planet (economic crises, hunger crises, refugee crises, water crises, climate CRISIS; Copenhagen COP15 U.N. meetings taking place as I draft this), & also in my personal life (my family & friends would agree I seem to have a perennially anything-other-than-boring life…).

As many of us know, there is a Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times.” Our blessing, and our curse, hmm?

Well. I promised my up-to-date life philosophy, so here goes:

I think we’re mostly here to learn & to grow & to love each other – and to keep on getting better & better at all three.

(Dr.) Rachel Naomi Remen said in her awesome book Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal, “Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons. A certain percentage of those who have survived near-death experiences speak of a common insight which afforded a glimpse of life’s basic lesson plan. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class. So fulfilling life’s purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt.” (1)

I think she got that very right.

Writer Anne Lamott said in her lovely book Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith (quoting her minister, I believe), “…the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. You sit with people,” she said, “you bring them juice and graham crackers.”

I think she’s right too.

In Bird by Bird – Some Instructions on Writing & Life, Lamott said “E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.” (Ms. Lamott is just plain chockfull of words of wisdom, as you can see…)

I do not think we human beings are here to

  • work ourselves to death
  • amass great fortunes or piles of “stuff”
  • kill one another or destroy the planet
  • break our backs trying to “look good”
  • break our backs trying to be “bigshots”
  • make others like us (in both senses of that expression: make people fond of us, or make them act & believe the way we do).

I do believe we’re here to love one another, grow spiritually (don’t worry, you non-believers; you can do this without faith in any kind of deity), contribute in positive, life-affirming ways to our fellow human creatures/the Earth, heal ourselves & the planet.

Evolve as a species away from violence, greed, & terminal self-absorption and toward generosity of spirit, love, compassion & all that other fine stuff.

Call me ‘Pollyanna’ & naïve as heck; it doesn’t bother me in the slightest!!

I personally have spent many years as a mother & environmental advocate/activist/writer, and will very likely continue in this vein. This is clearly not only my “calling” in life, this stuff totally turns my crank!!!

In the face of all kinds of crises, both the current & looming variety, I will also continue to advocate:

  • building community
  • finding (& sharing) our personal “gift”
  • being ourselves, being authentic
  • having authentic relationships
  • knowing our “wealth” lies primarily in our relationships (Plato said “Your wealth is where your friends are” & we don’t seem to be able to top him there.)
  • investigating helpful spiritual teachers/writings/practices/words of wisdom
  • living in the moment; in the present, in the very, very Here & Now
  • living life to the fullest!!

Music, love, Nature, laughter…fun!! Life is a joyous, precious gift, Dear Reader – not some serious & fun-less funeral dirge!

There is a Buddhist saying, “Life is a joyful participation in a world of sorrows.”

How to live our lives, so we can promote our own (& everyone’s) health, healing, well-being; the health & growth & evolution of our species?

In the face of deaths – both “personal” & perhaps even that of our own as a species – how are we to act?

I think, with courage…conviction…energy…compassion…love…generosity…determination…kindness…feistiness… unselfishness…dignity…& most especially, gratitude.

I believe we are each capable of moving mountains when we act with courage & conviction(2) – always allowing our conscience to be an ever-present force within us – & then, as they say, “detaching from the outcome.”

The results of our actions are out of our control.

Act, then let go

And whatever else we may do, celebrate this great wondrous spectacle of Life & Earth!

(And say, as often as humanly possible – in memory of that brilliant, thoughtful, irascible & wildly articulate old Pall smoker, the writer Kurt Vonnegut – “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!”)

Janet

A Few Relevant Quotations:

“I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” Henry Miller

“Truth comes only to those who must have it, who want it badly enough. And gifts of healing come only to those willing to change.” – Doris Janzen Longacre in the Foreword to her book “Living More with Less”

“Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966.

“Change is never inevitable, change is always carried in on the shoulders of those who bring change with them.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.” ~ Norman Cousins

“The single most important contribution any of us can make to the planet is a return to frugality.” Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN

“The saving of the world from impending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of the non-conforming minority.” – Martin Luther King

“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Choice is so important because it actually constitutes what it means to be a person.” – Joanna Macy in 'World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal'

“…you also know that each action undertaken with pure intent has repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern.” – Joanna Macy in 'World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal'

“Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” – Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown in ‘Coming Back to Life – Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World’ (New Society Publishers, 1998).

“If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. People who can open up to the web of life that called us into being.” – Joanna Macy

“We do not need to protect ourselves from change, for our very nature is change.” – Joanna Macy in 'World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal'

“But now comes the daunting revelation, that we are all called to be saints – not good necessarily, or pious or devout – but saints in the sense of just caring for each other.” – Joanna Macy in 'World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice & Ecological Renewal’

“Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” ~ Michael Lerner, quoted in ‘The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community,’ by David Korten


(1) More on this book in the posting ‘Book & Bed Day.'

(2) One hopes that everyone’s courage & convictions do not involve murder & mayhem – or even selfishness, intolerance & inflexibility; for my part, I fail to see how such things can help us move forward as individuals, or as a species…

Book & “Bed Day”

<March 1‘09>

Today has been an … interesting sort of day. One of what I refer to as a “bed day.” Sometimes “bed days” happen because I have absolutely zero energy – no “oomph” at all. Today’s, on the other hand, was a sad bed day. I’m occasionally kind of sad over some personal life circumstances. Most of the time, I’m pretty OK, but other times, I feel like I’ve fallen to the bottom of what Winnie-the-Pooh & Piglet would call a Very Deep Pit.

I do know that really feeling the feelings (as opposed to just “stuffing” them) is the only way to get through them (lotsa folks still don’t grasp this, I gather).

So I very gently allowed myself this Very Deep Pit “bed day.”

I read an entire novel, & it had me not merely laughing out loud at times, but laughing until my nose wiggled! (yes, one of my personal little peculiarities. When something is REALLY funny, I laugh so hard my nose wiggles, then I feel a tad on the ridiculous side – & laugh some more. Today, though, it’s only the cats & I, & they didn’t seem to notice or care.)

The novel, btw, is called The Tall Pine Polka & it’s by Linda Landvik. I’ve been finding her novels quite a delight! (I started with Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons – loved it! & then read Oh My Stars! And liked it a lot too. I’ll keep on to all her others…)

Then, I read some of Ten Lost Years 1929-1939 – Memories of Canadians Who Survived the Depression (Barry Broadfoot; quite the book! Sobering – not the kind you read at one fell swoop), & then I realized it was time for a cry.

Tears don’t come to me all that easily (slight understatement here), so I picked up Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories That Heal, by (Dr.) Rachel Naomi Remen. This book is an absolute gem. The stories in it are full of such wisdom & compassion that it moves me incredibly every single time I pick it up. I can’t praise her book highly enough.

We all hurt; we’re all in pain one way or another – at one level or another – at least sometimes…but reading Rachel Naomi Remen makes you realize you’re not alone in the pain & loneliness you feel; someone understands.

The story “In Flight” does it for me every time – it brought on the tears I needed, & now I feel much lighter.

These are challenging times on Planet Earth; is it not so? I know my life is challenging – & frankly, I positively have “the willies” sometimes at the state of the world.

Laughter & tears (hmm; let’s not forget singing! Last night I belted out some songs while listening to Randy Bachman on good old CBC radio; that too was grand!) – & books...

Well. Thank God for laughter, tears, singing, friends, walking, daughters & books, is about all I can say.

Out of the pit tomorrow, for sure!

Janet

p.s. Other books I dipped into today: Learning to Fall – The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, by Philip Simmons; The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie and Still Here – Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying, by Ram Dass.Not a dud in the lot………

p.p.s. 'Quote for the day' with this post: “A book should serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka