Tiny Beautiful Things

2013/09/29

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This may be my all time favorite book. Which is no small statement. I love Sugar so much. I want to be Sugar. I find her mix of unconditional compassion and truth telling totally staggering. I am so in love with the experience of being human right now. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And this book really speaks to all the pain and joy that being human means. This not a book for you if you're not ready to embrace human mistakes or some healthy profanity, but the beauty and love behind it all is a force.

What I loved:
All of it.

What I learned:
People make mistakes. Bad things happen. Love is powerful enough.

A favorite passage:
...but compassion isn't about solutions. It's about giving all the love that you've got.

Or just close your eyes and remember everything you already know. Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far guide you onward into whatever crazy beauty awaits.



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Almost

2013/09/23

I've been trying for a week now to put together a post of my latest adventure in the Grand Canyon, but non-emergency status items on my list get pretty low priority these days. Basically my decision tree every evening looks something like this: First priority goes to kiddo and church related obligations. If my evening's free then if I work if I my brain is still functional. There is always work to do! But often that's not even an option and I just lay limp on my bed and veg out with my BFF Netflix. I'm not quite ready to wrap my head around a write up of our hike, but I did finally manage to cull the 2,000 photos from the trip (that number is not hyperbole, there were eight women each with a camera and a legacy to build) to just a few hundred that I've place over here. Baby steps.

To be read at my funeral

2013/09/14

And every day until then. 

When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, towards silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Ready... Set...

2013/09/12

Transcendent

2013/09/09

I had a conversation with a friend this last weekend about the best moments of the summer. Made me feel list-y and reflective. So I gave it some more thought in order to write down on this here little blog.

 5. Listening to bluegrass on a random Monday night at Flipnotics. This is the least self contained "moment" on my list. I say that because even though the actual moment was great, this spot is more a reflection of my general relationship to live music right now. And hanging out late nights with friends. And not having to wake up to teach in the morning. Good stuff.

4. Entering the Library of Congress. I was completely awe struck when I first walked into the rotunda. I didn't fully understand what was in store for me physically or conceptually and it was such a revelation. Supporting the beauty of this moment was my rekindled love affair with the printed word this summer - feels like home.

3. Stargazing and night swimming at Inks Lake. As I mentioned in my prior post, I was worried this whole endeavor would be a lost cause as we drove out to our campsite in the pouring rain. Thankfully the beautiful, beautiful stars graciously appeared in fully glory shortly after we set up camp. The water was perfection and the lovely company and conversation of friends made this a perfect moment.

2. The twenty minutes or so I sat transfixed by this painting. (Which is ten thousand times more amazing in person.) Or maybe it was the time I spent gaping at the collection of Rodins. Or the awe I felt standing six inches away from a DaVinci. The list goes on and on. The art museums in D.C. were for me incredibly nourishing. Nourishing in such an essential way I feel amazed that I've lived almost 37 years on the planet without visiting them before. How did I ever survive?

1. Walking into the National Cathedral. I know I went on and on about my trip to D.C. and it's various forms of breathtakingness, but this was the most grand and moving, yet spiritual and tender of all the places I saw. The architecture was amazing, the stained glass was divine, but the spirit there was transcendent. 

It was, in fact, a great summer.

Life After Life

Life After LifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm having a hard time deciding a rating for this book. I would probably say I enjoyed it three stars but recognize that it deserves four. The writing and the story are both very fine, but I listened to this book and the peculiarities of the narrative made me frequently feel lost in the story. I do hate finishing a book that I think I should have enjoyed more than I did. Feels like a waste.


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Cheer

2013/09/05

First volleyball game of the year and Tessa's out to cheer. Makes me happy to see her involved. The temperature in this middle school gym, not so much.

The Husband's Secret

2013/09/02

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book came along just as I had a long weekend and needed a good page turner. The plot swept me along and before I knew it I had devoured all 400 pages in just a few days. It might not be the finest literature out there, but it was compulsively readable and there are some pretty delicious and gritty questions to mull over.

What I loved:
Great story. I am always so curious about what makes a book a page turner. Moriarty certainly has it figured out. I also like a bit of moral ambiguity to chew on.

What I learned:
Certainly made me think a bit about the nature of honesty and secrets. I don't know if there's a real take away though, mostly just a fun read.


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Wild

2013/09/01

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So many reasons to love this book. It's been quite a while since I've read a good memoir, which I love. This one was spot on for where I'm at right now. I found her writing beautiful and her experience captivating. There was a lot I couldn't relate to when it comes to her personal make up, but she wrote in a way that was honest and empathetic.

What I loved:
Her honesty. The way she wrote about her heartache and grief in a very "doing" way. It resonated with me deeply.

What I learned:
Every memoir or good piece of literature I encounter paints a fuller picture of humanity for me. That is the biggest high. It's right up there with good conversation among my favorite ways to be educated.

There were a lot to choose from, but this might be my favorite line in the whole book:
"Perhaps by now I had come far enough that I had the guts to be afraid."


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