Sunday, March 28, 2010

Balance Beam

As I've struggled with my vertigo, I emailed an old friend who runs a website for women called Wisdom Woman.  Her response was that a physical issue is linked to our spiritual being.  Something  else in my life must be out of kilter since I'm having difficulty with balance.  It's not only in my ears.

The other night, I lay in bed trying to have a conversation with God over the constant ringing in my ears.  I could barely hear Him.  I asked for help being a better wife, a better friend, a better person, all things I've been having a hard time with lately.  Through the din, I heard a message.
"You're asking for the wrong guidance."  Now I know God doesn't choose sides and use the word right and wrong.  His path for me has been set.  I'd been asking to take a fork in the road that doesn't exist.

The next morning I set out to restore balance in my life.  A spring cleaning of sorts.  I wanted to restore order to my personal stuff.  Months of neglect had left my cupboards and drawers in a shambles.  First stop.  The vanity in the bathroom.

I emptied the cupboards and started scrubbing.  Richard decided to get in on the action in the other two bathrooms and did the same.  Here's what I learned.   We have 15 unused tubes of toothpaste, 4 bottles of shampoo, 2 and a half boxes of teeth whitening strips, 6 bottles of Windex and a sample of moisturizing face masque that I put on while I worked.  I now have 3 new shades of lipstick and enough body lotion to keep me smooth and supple well into my nineties.

I managed to fill two garbage bags with unwanted junk and long expired cold medicine.  The four boxes of trash bags lined up in the garage will last a few more years so I can purge more often without worry.

It's no wonder I have 76 unread books on my shelf.  I feel better.  Lighter.  Today, I tackle my office.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Same Kind of Different as Me is a Ginger pick.  I remember buying this book at Books A Million and then putting it on the shelf when something I thought looked more interesting came along.  The bottom shelf.  I call it a Ginger pick since there were many other books on that bottom shelf and she selected this one to use as a chew toy.  Once I retrieved it from her, I examined it and deemed it still readable.  Back on the shelf it went.  A higher shelf this time.

As I turned each page the book crackled as teeth marks separated.  The noise added a new dimension to the usual silence of reading.  This is a true story of a wealthy art dealer from Texas and the bond he developed with a homeless man named Denver.  Deborah is Ron's kind an loving wife who drags him kicking and screaming to serve meals at the homeless shelter. 

Deborah's story is told through the eyes of Ron and Denver.  Her kindness and compassion is felt in different ways by the men who loved her.  Ron loved her from the moment he laid eyes on her and made her his wife.  Denver loved her for never passing judgment on the homeless people she tirelessly served.  She died never losing faith in either of them.  They let her go to God knowing she was never far away from them. 

Same Kind of Different as Me made me cry and helped me to understand the power of God and the love He wants us to have in our lives.  He also has lessons for each of us that we need to learn.  Ginger knew what she was doing when she picked this book for me.  I needed a little kick to plant my feet back on the ground.  This was just the ticket. 

It has to go in the trash however, since the cover is missing and one pretty crucial page inside.  The corners are worn and there are teeth marks galore!  I rate this book 4 out of 5.  It's worth it to get your own copy. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Cave by Jose Saramago

I believe The Cave came to me by way of my sister, Martha.  I know it came a very long time ago.  It has a big read sticker on the front that says 'Now Only $7.99'. 

The Cave is one that I just slogged through for a variety of reasons.  Jose Saramago is from Portugal and is a self described atheist and pessimist.  I should have looked him up on Wikipedia before I started reading this.  But he also won the Nobel Prize for literature.  Maybe I could learn something. 

The novel is translated from Portuguese.  Dialogue is embedded in the text.  It's one big paragraph so I found it very difficult to read.  Cipriano and his daughter, Marta are very likable characters.   They struggle to make an honest living as potters.  Marta's husband Marcal works at The Center as a security guard.  The family will all move to The Center as soon as Marcal's promotion comes through.

Frankly it took me awhile to understand what The Center really was all about.  Or why Cipriano was so desperate to please the people there with his wares.  The family didn't move until the last 50 pages and then immediately discovered the cave with the dead bodies.  I didn't really get the symbolism so I skimmed through the last 100 pages or so.  The family left The Center, went back home, picked up the dog and Cipriano's new girlfriend and drove off into the sunset.  I didn't understand why they didn't just go back home.

In any event The Cave is now officially off my bookshelf.  I rate it 2 out of 5.  I think it does have some literary finesse even it it was over my head.  Tomorrow morning I'm off to the library to make a donation.  I'm sure there are plenty of intellectuals out there that would love The Cave. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Now What??

I made the decision to move myself on to step 3.  It says, 'Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God'.  This is a little confusing for me.  Somewhere around my fiftieth birthday God stepped in and gave me a good talking to.  I needed it. 

I really look at 50 as a huge turning point in my life.  I finally realized I was not in charge.  I'm more calm and less stressed.  That's when I got off the treadmill called climbing the corporate ladder.  He convinced me I had more to offer in this world.  Before I get out of bed each morning I pray to restore my faith in Him.  I thank God for the blessing of a new day as I open the blinds and peer out into my beautiful bird filled backyard.  I ask Him to walk by my side.

Lately I've been slacking in the prayer department.  It's difficult to concentrate while the room is spinning and my ears constantly ring.  I'm dealing with a bad bout of vertigo.  After numerous blood tests, brain scans and a trip to the ear, nose and throat doctor,  I'm told they don't know what causes it and it will go away.  But I have to wait it out.  In case you were wondering, I do have a brain and it's perfectly normal.  I was really hoping for the magic pill however, because this is really annoying.  Communication with God has been spotty at best in the past few weeks. 

I know that He stood by my side and had me leave the bookstore last week empty handed.  I'm not really sure what I need to do for this step.  I thought I had turned my  life over to His care many years ago.  Maybe I turned over some of my life and just not the part pertaining to books.  That would be just like me to try to retain control over something.  I wish this ear ringing would stop.  Then maybe I could hear what I'm supposed to be hearing.

Is the message this?  I should get out that unread book sitting on my shelf that has to do with women in recovery.  And read it.   

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

I have quite a few classic and celebrated authors of the past on my shelf.  They are beginning to pop up on my list.  I feel it's important to my writing career to study what made these authors so popular.  They are written in an unfamiliar style telling stories of a lifestyle that is old fashioned and foreign in contemporary times. 
I bought The Painted Veil off Amazon after watching the movie on HBO.  I hadn't read any Maugham since high school so I thought this story looked interesting.  I'm also attracted to stories with a Chinese influence.  You'll see that more and more as I move through the list.  The Painted Veil has really nothing to do with China.  It's the story of poor shallow, Kitty who marries Walter in order to beat her homely, younger sister down the aisle. Walter takes her to Hong Kong where she falls in love with the charming and dapper, Charles.  Her loathing of Walter only grows in proportion to her ever increasing desire for the also married Charles. 
Knowing Kitty has been unfaithful, Walter takes her to a remote village in China to help fight a cholera epidemic.  It is here that Kitty finally grows up.  Walter indirectly shows her what a cad Charles is and that the true meaning of self worth is in the care and comfort of others.  Not until Walter dies, does Kitty come to know the influence he has made in her soul.  We watch Kitty find meaning and dimension in her life.  As readers we watch her come full circle as a woman from petty and shallow to loving and compassionate.  By the end we welcome Kitty into our hearts. 
The Painted Veil is a classic.  I rate this story 5 out of 5.  If you'd like to take a trip back in time, The Painted Veil doesn't disappoint. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Moving On

I think I'm making progress. I've been stuck on step 2 for quite sometime.  I think now it's time to move forward.

Yesterday I had a meeting at the local bookstore with some members of my writing group.  I think you all know what happens when I walk into a bookstore.  I break out in a cold sweat, tempted to buy each and every book that I lay my eyes on. 
"Buy yourself a book while you're there," said Richard.
"You know I'm not supposed to buy any more books until I read what's on the shelf," I responded, loving him all the more for giving me permission to do what I longed to do.  At that moment, in my mind, his acceptance was all I needed to indulged myself.
"You deserve it.  Get yourself something." He kissed me goodbye.
"OK," I answered, the book selected and the money spent and I hadn't even left the house yet.

I browsed the shelves while I waited for members of my group.  My selection list grew to five new titles as I walked the aisles.  Richard said it was OK.  I was all set to make my purchases as soon as our meeting concluded.

For an hour, my team worked together on our project.  I took notes and added input while trying to block the call of the thousands of books from my mind.  I struggled to focus on our project as the voices of enticing stories begged me to take them home.  Meeting over, I got up and walked to the door while chatting with a friend.  She opened the door and I followed her outside.

"Thanks for saving me," I said as we walked to the parking lot.
"Saving you from what?" she asked.
"You know I'm not supposed to buy any new books.  If you'd left me in there alone, I would have succumbed to the temptation."
She rolled her eyes.  "I have a stack of books at home to read.  I had to get out of there myself."
Belief in that higher Power moved me out of harm's way.  I'm not alone.  I'm moving on to step 3.

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