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Monday, April 21, 2014

My recent reading list has consisted of. . .

What do you do if you don't have tv? A friend just asked that question the other day. In unison we both said "read books" only their statement ended with a question mark and mine ended with an exclamation point.

The truth is I'd given up watching tv months before I moved out of the house and into The Glampette. While traveling last year I realized I was much happier, more balanced, and more productive without the distraction.

When I was younger I was a voracious reader. Over the years I continued to read but reading time was relegated to while I was riding buses, at the laundromat, or flying on a plane. Now? I read almost every day both in the trailer and sometimes while waiting in my car since I often toss the book I'm reading into my purse when I leave for the day.

Currently I've been reading books recommended to me by friends and readers here on the blog. With the rough patch I've been going through they've guided me to books they feel will help me though my current challenges.

My dear friend Tracy not only recommended this book, she sent it to me as a gift. "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar" is my kind of advice column. As gentle and nurturing as it is brutally honest the book is a collection of old and new columns from Cheryl Strayed's stint as the advice columnist of "The Rumpus." Her replies are often shocking in their perspectives, the kinds of things you may think to yourself but would never say aloud. In the trials and tribulations of her readers it's easy to find strength in yourself as you realize you can be just as strong and resilient as Strayed encourages her readers to be.

BTW, Tracy is the same friend who sent me Cheryl Strayed's other book "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" that I reviewed a few months ago. It also resonated with me because even though she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on her own with virtually no experience, the solitude she sought and found was as healing to her as the 13,000 miles The Glampette took me last year.

I won't tell you who recommended Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" to me because he said he would deny being the one who recommended it :) He'd hate to blow his tough guy image buy admitting he reads and recommends Maya Angelou, or more accurately that he first learned of her while watching Oprah. LOL

I've been aware of Dr. Angelou for many years but have to admit this was the first time I'd read one of her books. A noted author, poet, and women's rights advocate she is a voice for Black American women who broke social barriers by sharing her story in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." The book is about what it was like to grow up in the deep south and many of the struggles she faced, endured, and overcame up to the age of 17. That she had the courage to rise above things that had happened to her is inspiration enough for anyone to not allow circumstances to dictate their character, that one can face ugliness and not become cynical, bitter, or evil themselves.

I'm glad my friend recommended this book. I did find strength in it and look forward to reading more books by Dr. Angelou.

The most recent book I finished was unlike any book I'd read before. "Women Who Run With the Wolves" (written by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Ph. D. a Jungian analyst) was recommended to me in a private message by Lee, a reader of this blog. It wasn't an easy read by any  means. It took months to finish partly because I had to stop reading (far more often than usual) to look up definitions to words like analysands, endarkenment, umbilici, zygote, and anathema. But the effort was worth it.

At first I was confused, then I began to see why Lee had suggested it to me. When I got to around page 200 I knew without a shadow of a doubt why she had written to me. She had seen the "Wild Woman" in my blog postings and knew, without knowing me, the book would resonate with me deeply as I am currently actively on a journey both internally and externally.

The book focuses on the existence, neglect, and revitalization of women's intuition, our instinctual nature, and how the stories handed down from the past are in fact lessons and affirmations that can be drawn from to learn how to find, nurture, and preserve the wild nature that exists in each of us.

If you are a determined reader who wants to follow the road less traveled, the path inward to find and enrich your spirit, your very soul, you will make it through this book too. Don't rush. Take your time. Understand and absorb the author's message.

Lee thank you for the suggestion. I'm glad I found out about this book and plan to read it again, several more times. In many ways it reminded me of when I read the book "Awakening to the Sacred" by Lama Surya Das. The themes of the books are different but at the same time as I read I kept thinking to myself or even saying aloud "My people" or "Yes, that's me!" For me, reading about psychology or religion has less to do with the societal perception of the institutions and far more to do with how I as an individual can apply and relate to the parts of them that make me feel more whole, help me to find my inner strength, and guide me in the right direction to find contentment and balance.

If you have any books you think I would enjoy reading please tell me about them. I'm always looking for new things to read that will inspire me to continue on facing life's challenges with an open mind, optimism, and fortitude. 

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