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“Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?”

The opening line of President Obama’s newest book just tugs at the heart of every parent.  I know I ask my daughter this almost every single day!  All I want is for my daughter to grow up with a strong self-esteem and realize she can be and do ANYTHING she wants to be and do!  This book follows along those same lines and uses people from our history as examples….Creative like Georgia O’Keeffe, smart like Albert Einstein, strong like Helen Keller…….

This book is filled with beautiful pictures and inspiring words to reach right to the heart of your young daughter!  I loved every word of it.  Even if you are not an Obama supporter, the words in this book cross party lines and get down to what is important!  Encouraging and inspiring your daughters to be the best possible person they can be!

One of the things that really got to me was the very last page…the last 4 lines.  I totally believe that we are all ONE…that you and I are ONE…that the past and I are ONE.  And here in the last 4 lines, it says…..

“Have I told you that they are all part of you?

Have i told you that you are one of them,

and that you are the future?

And have i told you that I love you?”

Beautiful!!!!!!!!

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This is one of those children books that I wasn’t sure if I read when I was in my college children’s lit class or not.  Since it is written by Shel Silverstein, I would be surprised that I didn’t read it, but I just couldn’t remember it.  I have always heard people talk about the book, but it just wasn’t jogging my memory.  So it found its way onto my list!  December 30, 2010…it’s about time I became acquainted with The Giving Tree!

A very simple story about a boy who grows up with a tree.   You get to follow the relationship between the boy and the tree through out the years and see just how much the boy asks of the tree (either verbally or just assuming it) and just how far the tree is willing to go in the giving.

I read some info about it after I read the book and I guess there are 2 camps of thought about the book.  I’ll let you do the research, but for the blog, I will just share my own thoughts. Okay?  Great!

My first thought was this story was about the sacrificial mom syndrome.  I had a very good friend many years ago who brought this idea up to me.  As stay at home moms, we gave and gave and gave to our children and never took the time to take care of ourselves.  In the end, that kind of giving  (even to those beautiful children whom we love so much) is harmful.  There comes a time, when we as parents need to say, “Honey, I just need a moment.”  or “No, Honey, I can’t get that for you because its jut not in the budget.”  There is no harm in saying “no” and it is certainly a lesson I have had to learn as a parent.

Honestly, I’m not certain if I like this book or not.  It is kind of sad..to me.  But to others, it may be like a warm hug.  It really is about perception, and you would have to read it for yourself to understand.  If you have read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on the story.  It is just bitter-sweet for me.  I want to like it. I want to love it.  But I just can’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling about it.

I am in the home stretch of my 52 books in 52 weeks The God Project blog..only 4 books to go, and I have chosen to finish up with 4 children’s books.  Two of them were already on my reading list, but the other 2 I found on the shelf and found to be very important reads.

My Princess Boy is one of them!

This year we have seen so  many young men kill themselves because of anti-gay bullying.  This brought on the “It Get’s Better” YouTube channel and project.  It spurred rallies all over the country.  And it really stirred me.  As I have said before in this blog, I was bullied my whole childhood.  I know what it is like.  I watched my own children get bullied for various reasons.  I have seen it from both ends, and its ugly.  So when I saw the title of this book, I HAD to pick it up and choose it for this blog!  The message is IMPORTANT and timely.

This book is a true story written by a mom who’s 4-year-old son loves to dress in girls clothing.  Instead of forcing her hand and saying..”No!  Little boys don’t dress that way!” she has embraced his creativity and reinforced her love for him.  As a  matter of fact, his whole family has embraced him and loves him for who he is and has no plans on changing him any time soon!  This is so refreshing!

Love & self-esteem start at home!  We as parents need to nurture our children and love them for who they are.  Give them the space to figure it out for themselves.  We need to be able to let go of what we think we want for our children and give them space to be themselves.  Why do we as parents insist on living through our children instead of letting them live their own lives with our loving support?  And it goes beyond what happens at home.  I know some parents will say, “Well its okay to dress like this at home, but when you are out in public, that’s a different matter.”  No!  It’s not.  What does that tell the child?  That you have to pretend to be something you are not so others will not laugh at you and like you?  Talk about starting your child off with a complex!  And it tells your child that you don’t support them and that they can not come to you with their true feelings and issues.

I know how hard it is to watch your child being bullied.  I know how hard it is to see them come home in tears and refuse to want to go to school.  This book is such an inspiration to parents who’s children are being bullied.  It’s an inspiration to kids who just want to be themselves!  It’s such a great tool for the school to use to show the individuality we each have and should be shared and celebrated instead of bullied and put down!

I applaud Cheryl and her family for being such great parents.  And I applaud the school their child goes to for supporting this little boy in his individuality and creativity!

Please visit http://www.myprincessboy.com to learn more about this amazing book and the family behind it.  There is also an amazing interview with Cheryl and her son on YouTube that you can check out!

So I leave you with this question:  How do you support the children in your life in their individuality?  What do YOU do when you see a little boy in the store dressed up like a princess or a little girl in the store who is dressed like a boy?  Or let’s take it a step further…what do YOU do when you see ADULTS who dress like the other gender?  Be honest.  What do you think (even to yourself where no one else can hear you)?  Just some food for thought!

Blessings!

“We all have a spiritual purpose, a mission, that we have been pursuing without being fully aware of it, and once we bring it completely into consciousness, our lives can  take off.”  This sentence found in the last 3rd of the book just about sums it all up for me.  We have a spiritual purpose for this life.  I know I do. I know I was called to, or whatever you want to call it, at a very young age.  I know that I have spent my entire life “chasing it” trying to figure out “where to go from here”…”what I want to be when I grow up”.  I know that I have spent a great deal of my life trying to “control” it instead of letting it flow to me.  Living in the flow, instead of forcing the issue.  That is the only way to have it come to me.  But I guess I wasn’t exactly ready for it, that is, until this year.  Not until doing this 52 books in 52 weeks project.

This book has been on my “to read list” for YEARS!  I have seen the movie, but never got around to reading it.  As a matter of fact, it was on my list to read this year way early on in the year, but it has taken me to number 48 at week number 52 to actually get it read.  But ya know what?  It came at the perfect time!

This book reinforces much of what I believe spiritually.  It talks about energy, personal conflicts and why we have them, about coincidences and how we pay attention to them we realize they are not coincidences rather our intuition talking to us!  The idea (in this book) is that there are 9 insights left to us by the Mayans, and these 9 insights show us the way to evolve and become more spiritually connected and in tune people.  The insights give us a better way to live..a better way to understand what the Christ was teaching us through is life…..  It is so beautiful!

Like usual, I underlined and dog-eared every other page.  This book was that profound.  However, like the story itself, I think I will let you discover the insights on your own..the way you are lead to them.  That is the only way you will truly understand them.

I will tell you to pay attention to “coincidences” in your life.  For example, let’s take a look at how I became employed at Bogus Basin as a cashier in the Simplot Lodge.    I did NOT want to work in the Simplot Lodge. It is the busiest lodge and can get quite messy.  It has been my perception that it can be very loud with lots of screaming teens and children.  In the past I have been very sensitive to that many people.  It did not sound enjoyable to me.  Then as my son Nate was trying to apply for a buser’s job on-line for Simplot Lodge, I was trying to help him and accidentally clicked on it and applied for MYSELF for a busser in the Simplot Lodge.  A busser!!!!  So totally NOT what I wanted.  I tried and tried and tried very unsuccessfully to remove this from my on-line jobs profile for Bogus. Even though the button said “unclick” or whatever, it would not allow me to remove it.  Ah well.  Then, I got the call from the Simplot Manager wanting me to interview for THAT position.  I told the manager (Gary) that it was an accident and I didn’t want the job.  Instead, he asked me to come in any way just to start the process.  I agreed.  I got called for the interview, Nate did not.  I felt horrible.  I was getting a job, that I didn’t even want, and Nate wasn’t even getting called at all.

I went to the interview; as we talked the subject of Nate came up.  Gary wrote down his name and said he would call him.  He did.  Nate went to the interview and said that if I had not gotten called first, he didn’t think he would have ever gotten called.  Yay!  Then I got the job offer, and so did Nate.  I took the offer, but still hoped the other 5 jobs I applied for would come through.  I only got interviewed for ONE of the other jobs.  I didn’t get that job.  Instead I ended up with a cashier’s job in Simplot Lodge (even though I applied for busser, Gary said he wanted me as Cashier).

It turns out, it is PERFECT!!!!!!  I LOVE  my job, and miss it when I’m not there!  I love the people I work with.  I love the guests I get to serve. I love everything about it.

Great…so that is one coincidence.  It is ONE example of how following the coincidences all the way through will lead  you to wear you need to be and maybe  even help other people at the same time.  So what is my next step in following these coincidences?  On our first work newsletter there was a section about taking your own professional growth into your hands.  If there is someone at work who has the qualities or experiences you would like to learn from, then talk to them.  Well, Bogus is a non-profit recreational facility.  In my job, I get to see all the ‘big wigs” who run the mountain and talk to them on a daily basis.  My next step is getting to know them better and make a date to have lunch or dinner with them and see if I can learn how to go about getting my non-profit recreational facility (roller rink) up and running!

This is what The Celestine Prophecy talks about… one of my favorite quotes says:  “The universe is energy, energy that responds to our expectations.  People are part of that energy universe too, so when we have a question, the people show up who have the answer.”   I have followed the energy to the right place for the universe to provide me with the people I think will be able to help me!  I ask the questions, and the universe gave me the answers!

Here is another great quote.  Beside it, I wrote, “My work!”.  During this part of the book, the main character describes a dream he was having about being in this raging river and if he fights the river it would drown him, but if he didn’t fight against it…”It woudl have carried me to the key.  What are you saying?  That if i don’t fight against this situation that I  might still get the answers I want?”  His friend replied, “I’m not saying anything.  The dream is saying.”

Why do we fight against what is right, even when at first glance it looks wrong.  If we stop trying to control our lives and live in the flow and be OPEN to what the universe is sharing with us, we will wind up right where we are supposed to be and life will be bliss!  When we are filled with energy and living in the flow, all of our questions will be answered and we would feel like a fish out of water trying to gasp for our next breath!  It’s beautiful!

I will leave you with one more great quote that sums up not only this book and the lessons learned from it, but also my year…..

“I guess I’ve woken up and seen the world as a mysterious place that provides everything we need, if we get clear and get on the path.”

Blessings!

It’s interesting how and why some of these book have been read this year.  This one I already owned and it was in  my library.  It is such a beautiful little book, but I haven’t read it in years, and I didn’t remember how it even came to me.  (Though I found out on Facebook after posting about it..my Sis in Law (Misty) told  me she gave it to me *laugh*).

Anyway, 2 nights ago, my 18-year-old son, Nate, broke up with his 15-year-old girl friend who has been emotional unstable for a while now.  He has only dated her for like a month.  Really not long at all.  We were afraid that when he broke up with her, she would try to kill herself.  Well a couple of hours after he broke up with  her, that is exactly what she did.  She took 45 pills (so she thinks)….a mixture of OTC’s and prescriptions.  When she told Nate that she was doing it, we called the police and they arrived just in time.  She had already stopped breathing.  But they were able to bring her back.  It was very scary..still is, truthfully.

So yesterday, she asked me to come visit her in the hospital.  She told me she could use the support.  As I was getting dressed in my bedroom, I felt the need to bring something to her.  I looked around, and I saw this stuffed frog holding onto a hear that said “hug me”.  It was given to me by a very dear friend of mine when I was sick.  I decided I would take that so she would have something to hold on to when she was feeling sad.  Then I heard this inner voice say I needed to take her a book. I thought it was a book that Tracy (my hubby) had given  me years ago when I was very sad and needed someone.  I thought I knew exactly where it was.  I went down to  my library and looked, but what jumped out of me was Cassandra’s Angel.  I took it off the shelf and read it.

A little girl who spent her life hearing other people tell her that she was a mess, she was different, she was incorrigible, that she didn’t matter.  She was sad and felt alone.  But these were all someone else’s stories they were projecting on to her.  The she met her angel who told her that she is a light in this world and she was beautiful and smart and not to listen to other people’s opinions but to only listen to her own heart and light.

Such a beautiful story with beautiful pictures!  And it was PERFECT to take to a teenager who had just tried to kill herself…who was feeling all of these things….

So I took the frog and the book to the hospital and read it to Katie.  I gave it to her and told her that whenever she is feeling lonely or sad or less than amazing, to pick up the book and remember she is loved and beautiful and amazing!  I just hope that one day she will really understand the meaning of the story and truly understand just how amazing she is in her own right!

My prayers continue to be with Katie………

You just never know when a book is going to jump out at you…when you least expect it, the PERFECT book will call out to you….  have you been listening?????

So there I was, walking through the book store  making a bee line to the children’s section when I saw this cute little puppy dog on the cover of a  book and it was on sale for $4.98.  Add that to my to my favorite word ever, “Bliss”, it was a MUST HAVE!!!!!

I was once told that the quickest way to feel happiness is to play with a pet.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.  I have never been a big animal person.  I have always had pets, but I have never really been attached to them so I really didn’t understand this.  Until I was really sad and my cat came up to me to love me and make me feel better.  Then my dog would ask me to play and I would laugh so hard at him.  And I fell in love with my animals.  They have taught me some big lessons.  So it was fun picking up this book and learning some lessons on happiness from Trixie the dog.

I also have to say that it was fun reading a book by Dean Koontz that was on the “light and fluffy” side :).

This book was written from Trixie’s point of view, and was a little odd to read at first.  But as soon as I fell into the rhythm of the writing, it all began to make sense, and I really enjoyed the book.

According to Trixie, “the road to bliss is paved with dog wisdom.” And there are 8 steps.  I will not tell you what those steps are; that is for you to read and find out!  But here are some lessons I learned while reading Trixie’s thoughts:

1) Sit still and be quiet.  Meditation is good.

2)  The rising moon at the bottom of a finger nail is beautiful.  I  never really noticed this before!

3) Life without a cookie is unthinkable!

4) “Pleasure without beauty is just empty thrill”…kinda like Sex without love…..hmmm….same thing, yes?

5) “The world is a gift to  make you happy.”

6) “Here is what real meaning is like.  Maybe you’re meant to give kindness to one special child.  Child grows up, is healer or wise leader.  then your purpose was as big as any king’s, maybe bigger.”  Being a stay at home mom….priceless and so very important!

7) “It is what it is.”  “No Kidding.  if it isn’t what it is, then what would it be?  And if it is what it isn’t, what the hell is going on here?”

8)  “Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.” ~ St. Francis

9)  If I want to remain young, I must play and laugh more!

10) Grief is cleansing.

Bonus reminder:  Be grateful!!!!!!!!

This book is filled with such heart warming and profound wisdom..straight from the dog’s mouth!  You will laugh and maybe even cry while reading this book.  One thing is for certain, you will smile!!!!!

“Though I didn’t know it, I was in a dangerous place now.  Having determined that this world was the only one I had–or would ever have–here I was, in conscious mistrust of its core.  And on the other hand, it had been confirmed that the outside world, the one that I had been trying to escape into since I could walk, was not my home either.  I was a misfit in both places.  The only true home I had was inside the notes of music, inside the all-consuming world of white ivory keys and their black flat and sharp companions.”………….

The passage above comes early in this book, thoughts from a 14-year-old Adelaide.  Being raised in an  ultra-conservative home where a girl/woman’s hair was a glory to God, where dancing was not allowed, public bathing (swimming) was not allowed, as well as so many other “thou shalt nots” (as I call them).  From such an early age she wanted to run away and explore, calling herself a gypsy; yet she was stuck in a home with an overbearing mother and father who was emotionally absent most of the time. What she knew to be HER truth and what she was being raised with conflicted on a daily basis, and she found solace and place of “belonging” in her music.  I too shared this kind of confusion in my childhood faith and struggle in my home and solace in my music…..  this was just many of the similarities between Addie and I that I found between the covers of this book!

This book is such a beautiful and heart-warming journey “Walking From Religion to Spirit” (as the cover of the book says).  Isn’t this what this blog is all about?  Well kind of anyway, right?  I, too, was raised in a conservative Christian home.  Though admittedly I was allowed to wear what I want, dance, swim and certainly didn’t have any rules in my house.  The only rules in MY house were that you were to be a God-fearing, tongues speaking, baptised Christian.  Scratch that, these rules weren’t the rules of my house, but they were certainly the rules for ME.  My brothers didn’t have to live by these same rules.  I’m not sure why, but as I read this book and even typed that last sentenced, it dawned on me that possibly the reason that I was the ONLY child out of 4 that was supposed to live by these rules is because I was closest to my mother and I was expected to be a shining light for her.  (Mother daughter issues…….this book is filled with them!)

Anyway, back to the book.  I LOVED it!  I love the history behind the words.  I love the visuals created by the words.  Every time I turned a page, I felt like Addie could have been telling my own story from Religion to Spirit.  I even learned a bit bout my own father and the way he must have been raised (though Addie is nearly 20  years older than my dad would have been today).  More than just her spiritual journey, there are a plethora of insights into being what I call a “sacrificial mom” (or even wife)…of being that care taker.  I found myself self saying out loud…”Hey, Addie!  That is what I am dealing with right now!!!!  Thank you!!!”

All the way through I kept thinking how incredibly blessed I am to have Addie as a member of my church.  This book was released on her 90th birthday…at my church.  Even though I have been attending this church since January, I had never met her until purchasing her book and having her sign it.  When I smiled and wished her a “Happy Birthday” I had no idea just how much this book would  mean to me and how it would touch my life!  Now all I can think about his how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing woman and possible friend in my church.  I can’t wait to send her a card and thank her personally!

Addie’s story is such a blessing and inspiration to all women out there searching for their spiritual path…for all moms out there who give so much to their families…for all the wives who just might  give too much of themselves to their husbands….to women who suddenly find themselves empty-nesters and wondering what the heck to do next!  For all the women out there who say, “I’m too old to do this…..”  you should read this book!

Have you heard the saying, “the only thing constant in life is change”?  Addie’s book is a perfect reminder of that.   As a matter of fact, one of my favorite quotes in the book says, “For me, the status quo, however appealing, never shone as brightly as the radiance of change.”  You get to follow her journey as she moves from parsonage (the home of a pastor) to parsonage and finally to her own homes.  You get to follow her journey that starts in New York and ends in Idaho and takes you places in between.  You get to cry at the unfairness of abuse, face fear in the face of disease, revel in the feeling of first love, feel the darkness of depression and the climb back out to light.  You get to sit with Addie at the bedside of her loved ones as she says goodbye, and you get to say goodbye too.  You get the thrill of not just becoming a mother..but of becoming a grandmother AND a great-grandmother!  This book is a fascinating and exciting read!

I find myself having a hard time sharing what I have learned from this book, but I will say that there are no coincidences in life…….and just as Addie mentions being led to our church (CSL) for a reason (this book), I feel as though I have been led to CSL for a reason…one of them being this book!

I will close with this thought.  Lately, I have been feeling “old”.  I’m only 41.  Yes, this is young.  I never felt old until I started in a sport where the women start retiring in their mid to late 30’s and I was just getting started!  Trying to get onto a Roller Derby team at the age of 41 seems kinda crazy.  And with my new schedule, I will be 42 by the time I can get drafted!  That is even crazier!  Then to add salt to the wound I was inflicting upon myself, I started to read a book on menopause.  The book is written by one of my favorite, entertaining local authors, but the idea of me going through menopause just made me feel even older!  I had to stop reading it.  The next book I picked up was this one, and towards the end of the book, there is this great quote from Addie reminding me that 41 is still very young!  “The new energy breathed into my home lifted my spirits and supported the feeling that, at the age of eighty-three, I was entering the best era of my life.”

Go, Addie, Go!!!!

I’m not gonna lie.  I am  not even sure how to write about this book.  I will tell you that a little over 40 days ago my husband and I had our yearly fight.  Yes, we have one a year and it’s always over the same thing…. his raging libido and my libido that just barely has a pulse.  This is a common argument among married couples so we aren’t alone.  Though in the throws of this argument, both of us feel quite alone.  I will also tell you that this particular subject (sex) is the ONLY subject that has ever brought  our marriage to its knees.

The argument is always the same…he wants more and I feel like I don’t get what I need outside of the bedroom.  No, I’m not telling stories outside of class.  This is just a truth of our lives, and I’m willing to bet its the truth for many marriages.  When a woman doesn’t feel like she is getting what she needs outside of the bedroom,  physical intimacy is just not what she wants to give to him.  Then it becomes a vicious cycle.  Doesn’t it?  I know you have been there!

So we have tried therapy…not much help and I won’t get into it.  Let’s just say Boise,Idaho,  is much too small of a place when it comes to finding good therapists.  Desperate for guidance and help, we decided we would try anything.  We rented the movie Fireproof….about making your marriage “fireproof”..surviving anything.  We knew it was a conservative Christian movie on  marriage, but we thought we would watch it anyway.  It ended up being more about “accepting Christ as your Savior” than it was about saving a marriage.  The movie  pretty much turned my husband (and myself) off.  So in hopes that the book it was based on (The Love Dare) was a bit different, I purchased the book and started the journey….  The Love Dare.

The Love Dare gives you 40 days of dares to follow in hopes of helping your marriage grow stronger.  All of it is based on traditional, conservative Christian values.  It has been featured on Focus on the Family.  If you are a fan of Focus on the Family and/or are a Christian with traditional marriage values then this book is for you!  It is full of traditional wisdom, advice and Bible verses!

I, on the other hand,  was skeptical at best when I started this book.  Let’s face it, I bought it for TRACY to read..not for me.  But he didn’t pick up the book for an entire week.  Instead, I picked it up and started taking on the Dares.  At first I was resentful.  I resented the fact that (in my perception) Tracy wasn’t doing any thing to make “us” better.  It was all me.  It was all of my fault and all of me trying to fix it.  It felt very one-sided.  But I kept going through the dares telling myself to “trust the process” (this becomes very important come about day 35..I’ll explain later).  Eventually, I started seeing some change in Tracy and the way he treated me.  This Love Dare stuff was working!  Yay!!!!  We started communicating better.  He started doing little things for me around the house.  My “love tank” (as mentioned in The 5 Love Languages which I read while doing the dare and have already blogged on) was filling up!  Yay!!!!

Then came days 19, 20 and 21!  This is where the book turns to a very Christian book…daring you to pray the prayer of repentance and accepting God into your heart.  Most of the days AFTER days 20 and 21 are focused not on the  marriage itself but on your personal relationship with Jesus and how this pertains to your marriage.  Even going as far as to say, “The truth is, you can’t live without Him (God) and you can’t love without Him.  But there is no telling what He could do in your  marriage if you put your trust in Him.”  So, unless I accept the Christian God, I can not give or receive true love?  My marriage won’t work?  I beg to differ!  I take a great exception to this!  There are millions of marriages that thrive and the spouses do not ascribe to the Christian belief!

With that said, I do believe there are some great points in this book.  And even in the pages I just mentioned, I found that as long as I translated what the book was saying into my own personal spiritual belief and trusted the process, it made a heck of a lot of sense.  In pages 19-21 it talks about asking Christ into your heart.  I do not believe God lives outside of me.  I believe that I am and always have been ONE/UNIFIED with God.  I believe God IS love and God IS perfect…and since I am ONE/UNIFIED with God (and so is my mate) then I have only to Recognize this and know this to be true..to remember this…and then I am UNIFIED with that same love that this book refers to.  And YES!  It helped me with my marriage :).

I loved the Dares in this book…especially in the beginning :).  They were great reminders of how I should show up in my marriage…patience, kindness, selflessness, thoughtful, and so much more!  After ever day (40 in total) of reading, you will receive a dare and then a place to reflect on that day’s dare.  I did learn a great deal about myself and it was totally worth the time and the days it took to do it.  I will continue with much of what I read in  mind.  Remember when I said I would talk about “trusting the process”?  Well here it is.  All the way through, I kept telling myself to let go of the completely Christian stuff that would normally turn  me off and just “trust the process”.  Well around day 35, I started week 7 of my seminary class, and the title of the workbook section for week 7 was “Trust the process of life”.  There are no coincidences in life!  I love how  my life works perfectly!  Being able to blend what I  learned in this book and what I know to be the truth about my spiritual beliefs was a fun challenge and very enlightening :).

Like I said, this book is conservative Christian and I totally believe it is the IT book on marriage for a Christian couple.  It is phenomenal.  I’m still look for the IT book on  marriage for those of us who are metaphysical and more spiritual.  My husband told me that  maybe I should write my own book…umm..ya..not going to happen.  Who would listen to me anyway?  *laugh*  Aside from the fact that we have been together for 27 years and with the exception of the once a year discussion we are incredibly  happy, why else would someone want to learn  marriage secrets from me?  However, I really wish someone would take The Love Dare and re-write it and re-word it from a Religious Science perspective :).  It might have been easy for me to re-think it while I was reading it, but I guarantee you, it would piss some other people off.  *laugh*  Which is a shame…because it really is a great marriage book :).

 

THE BEST $7.95 I HAVE EVER SPENT ON A BOOK!!!!!!!

This is a short 122 page book that will have you using just about as many tissues to wipe away the tears!

Okay, to be fair, I have to say that I knew when I picked up a book with this title, that I was going to shed a tear or two.  I knew I was picking up a book that was going to be heart warming.  But seriously, I had no idea just how much this book would affect me!

Follow the story of a young journalist on a mission to have her story land on page 1A (above the fold) of her newspaper.  Like they say about every goal in life, it’s not about the destination in life, but the journey TO the destination.  So true for this book and the story of our young Heroine.

Life is filled with so many amazing lessons about being strong, following your dreams, being forgiving and forgiven, never letting go, letting go, and giving back.  This book just reiterates all of that!

More importantly, reading this book reminded me of so many lessons in my own life, and lessons that I hope I have passed on to my children.  Though, to be honest, it can be challenging to pass on some lessons to your children without the same life shattering experiences to provide the ground work.

I have shared my story with my children numerous times, and I hope they have really HEARD it.

Christmas Fire

 

Christmas in my home was always exciting!  In 1980, this statement was never more true.  I was 11 years old and I had three brothers: Matt age 21, Mark age 17, and Michael 10. With 4 children in our house, you can imagine the excitement around the Christmas tree!  The Christmas season always started the day after Thanksgiving.  Each year, my mom would take us kids out to pick out the best Christmas tree; then we would bring it home and decorate it.  Soon after the decorating was completed, the presents started appearing!  From the moment the presents started appearing under the tree, right up until the magic moment on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents, my little brother and I spent countless hours digging through the presents, reading the tags, shaking them, and counting.  One year, we counted over 120 presents under the Christmas tree!  It was absolutely magical!  In 1980, the presents were already starting to pile up and Michael and I were counting the days until we could open our gifts!  Life had different plans.

 

It was a typical busy day in my home.  My two older brothers,  were both working.  I had been invited to stay the night at my best friend Noelle’s house.  My little brother Michael was home watching TV and my parents had plans to go out for the evening.  Michael was left alone for most of the early evening.  He decided he was going to make popcorn, which back then had to be cooked over the stove.  He had done this plenty of times, so it was no big deal.  After eating his popcorn he headed out to his friend’s house to spend the night.  The house was empty, until my parents came home and went straight to bed.  Then Matt and Mark came home and went straight to their rooms to sleep.

 

The next morning Matt was gone as soon as the sun rose.  My parents were up pretty early as well.  They went into Mark’s room to get the car keys, and they left (leaving Mark’s bedroom door open behind them).  Mark was the only person left in the house, and he was sound asleep; that was until the smoke woke him up.  Coughing, Mark woke up dazed and confused as the smoke-filled his bedroom.  He jumped out of bed and threw the stereo through his bedroom window and then he got himself out  He called the fire department and then waited.

 

I had just spent a fun night at Noelle’s house and we were riding our roller skates back to my house when we heard sirens heading in our direction.  We turned around, “Look, Noelle!  A fire truck is heading this direction!  I think it’s going to my house!”  Noelle looked in the direction of the truck, “No it’s not, Martha.  Just watch.”  We watched the fire truck race past us and down the street.  We watched as it turned right on my street.  A sickening feeling rolled through my body.  We skated faster towards my street and reached the alley that ran behind my house.

 

I looked down the alley and saw the smoke.  “Look, Noelle, the smoke is right where my house is!”  I raced to take off my skates.  “Martha.  It’s not your house.  Everything is fine.”  “No,” I said, “It IS my house!  I have to run!”

 

I took off running down my street, racing towards my house.  I saw the 2 fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, and neighbors all around my house.  The black smoke was spiraling into the sky, and I KNEW it was my house long before I ever got there.  When I was 3 doors down from my house Mrs. Mac stopped me and held me tight.  “Mrs. Mac!  It’s my house isn’t it?  My house is on fire!”  Mrs. Mac held me tight as I sobbed in her arms, “Yes, sweetie, it is your house.  Mark was in the house, but he is safe. No one else is home now.  Everything will be alright.”

 

Right after that, my brother Mark came running up to me.  Together we stayed in each other’s arms as we watched the firemen dowse the flames out with their hoses.  After the fire was out, the firemen came up to me one by one giving me hugs.  “Excuse me, Mr. Fireman, can you  tell me what happened to my pets?”  He held my hands, “Your dogs were in the back yard, and they are fine.”  “But, Mr. Fireman, what about my bird that was in my bedroom?  What about our cat?”  The look in his face said it all, and I broke back down into tears.  He couldn’t save my bird, and there was no sign of our cat.

 

Eventually, my parents returned home.  My oldest brother was called home and my little brother, Michael had been retrieved.  The firemen told us that the fire had started in the kitchen at the stove.  “Someone left the stove on, and that’s what started the fire,” they said. The last person in the kitchen had been Michael as he cooked his popcorn over the stove.

 

Since our family was so big, we had to be separated.  Each of the kids went to a different friend’s home, and my parents went to yet another friend’s home.  We were separated for a week or so until my parents could find a house for us to rent until my childhood home was rebuilt

 

Finally my parents found a small, run down house for us to move into.  It was too small for our family, and my little brother had to sleep in the living room on the rented furniture we had until our home and our furniture was repaired.  We moved into our rental house on Christmas Eve.  When we moved in, all we had to bring to the house were a few articles of clothing, rental furniture, and a metal card table with folding chairs for a dining table.  That night, instead of making our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Tamales and Chili, my mom and I went shopping.  Instead of buying toys and games, my mom and I shopped for plates, silverware, pots & pans, groceries and some more clothes for the family.

 

Instead of wrapping presents and putting them under the Christmas tree, my mom emptied the shopping bags and put the items we just purchased on the card table.  These necessities were our presents, and for the first time in my young life, I realized what Christmas was really about.  It had nothing to do with how many presents were under a Christmas tree.  It had nothing to do with toys and games.  It had everything to do with family and love!  And the best Christmas present I could ever receive is the gift of my family being together happy and healthy.

 

There are so many great lessons in this book and with less than 2 months till Christmas and the stores already playing Christmas carols, I high recommend reading this book to restore some sanity in your life in regards to the holidays.  And with the invention of a child’s gift registry, I highly recommend having your children read this book..or at least sharing the message with them!  It just might change yours and their lives!

Admittedly, what I know about Maya Angelou is very little and mostly from Oprah’s TV show.  I have read a couple of her poems, which have touched me.  But until I picked up this book, I have never spent any quality time with Maya Angelou’s thoughts or words.  The title of this book spoke to me because I have always thought about the books I would gather and hand my daughter as a gift as she transitions from girl to woman.  This book is now one of those books that will be passed down.

This book is a quick one day read of 28 short stories/essays and a few poems about life as an African American woman, pregnancy, rape, being a daughter, coming of age, spirituality and so much more!  I  had some very profound moments while reading this book, and I found quite a few parallels with her thoughts on racism and my thoughts on the discrimination of LGBT individuals.

I spend a great deal of my time volunteering, and I donate money when I can.  I have never spent any time looking up the word “philanthropist”, but thankfully Maya Angelou has.   “The word philanthropy was taken from the two Greek words.  phil–lover of; and anthro–mankind.  So, philanthropists are lovers of humanity.”  She talks about how they show their love through large sums of money and how she would classify herself as “charitable”.  “The charitable say in effect, ‘I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need.  I would like to share my excess with you.’  Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.”

She finishes her thought by saying, “I may  never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.  I am happy to describe myself as charitable.”

I loved her thoughts on this.

There is a chapter called “Morocco” where she tells a story of her trip to that country.  She was a young naive 25-year-old woman who was not versed in the ways of the Moroccan people.  She tells a humorous tale that reminds us to learn about the customs of the countries we want to visit.  This story actually had me laughing out loud.  I may never look at raisins the same way again!

A lesson in gratitude:

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.  Today I am blessed.”

A thought on strangers and friends:

“I learned that a friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”

There was another story she told about her life with  her ex husband.  “Within two days of our meeting we knew were in love together and had to be in life together.”  To me, the thought of being in love together instead of in love with each other, was so beautiful and such a great way to express what love truly is.

Then as I was finishing the book, in the last “chapter” called “Keep the Faith” she describes a persons spiritual journey as this…”It is in the search itself that one finds the ecstasy.”  And so it is!