Tuesday, August 16, 2011


by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

I've always loved this poem and may have even posted about it before but today really needed and wanted to read it again and share it with the universe. It amazes me how at times people can choose to be other than kind to one another. Life is hard enough without the added stress of unkindness but alas through loss and we begin to feel how connected we really are to every other living being.

"What we reject out there is only, after all, what we reject in ourselves; and the most numbing pain comes from the protected heart." Roger Housden in "Ten Poems to Open Your Heart"

May you see your connection to every thing you come into contact with and may you not only show kindness to those people or things, may they recipricate in kindness.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

While visiting my mom in Texas, we made our nightly runs to the bookstore, imagine that...I work all week in a bookstore and then when I'm off of work where do I hang out? In a bookstore...So while scanning the gender studies shelf, I came across an interesting book titled Dear John, I Love Jane edited by Candace Walsh & Laura Andre. There is a forward by Dr. Lisa Diamond author of Sexual Fluidity which I bought a couple of years ago.

The Dear John book includes 27 essays written by women who have left a man for a woman. They are all true and honest stories, some will make you cry, others will make you wish for that first experience again, the excitement, the newness, the scary yet inticing unexplored territory of the first time.

Dr. Lisa Diamond's book Sexual Fluidity was a book I picked up when I was trying to understand my attraction to women, my transition from being married to falling in love with a woman. My family is open and accepting, my mother is a professional artist so diversity was a part of my upbringing and I even have an aunt who is a lesbian so there was never any shame surrounding homosexuality. I was curious how my preference could just change at the age of forty. No warning, no latency, never thought twice about it. Maybe I was so busy from such a young age raising kids, fulfilling familial responsibilities that I wasn't aware of my sexuality. Somehow, having children so young must have paired sex with pro-creation or something. Diamond's book explained a lot about the female's sexual fluidity and although it was extremely scientific, it did give me some sense of normalcy in regards to my experience.

In Dear John, I Love Jane, I found first hand tales of women falling in love with another woman. These stories aren't all happy and certainly some end very sad yet they are true and that is what I look for in writing, honesty and truth. Funny enough, one of the essays is an excerpt titled First Date With Ann from a book written by Meridith Maran that I read in a religion class I took at SMU back in 1996 called What It's Like to Live Now about a woman leaving her husband for a woman. I didn't even think anything about it when I read it at the age of 29, guess I was too busy trying to graduate with two young children and a husband to relate to her story. Guess I didn't have time or energy to think about sex lol...

I highly recommend this book for all women and men as it can give some insight into the struggles involved with a woman discovering her attraction to another woman. It isn't an easy journey. She suffers from hurting those she loves, her husband, her children, her family, the other woman and mostly herself. I know first-hand the guilt that comes from waking up so to speak from an unfulfilled marriage. Once my eyes were opened, there was no going back and the thought of the harm I caused to those that loved me was excruciating. I made the choice to love myself enough to get out. Some women in these stories didn't take the leap. Some didn't have the support. Some did. Some left for another woman. Some left for themselves. The best word to describe all of these women that shared their stories with the world is BRAVE...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It never fails that when I walk back into the receiving department of the bookstore I work in, I see a book on the pile of new books just received, yet to be shelved, and salivate over it and feel I'll never be happy unless I have it as my own. I tuck it under my arm and slink out of the receiving department so as not to piss anyone off that I've grabbed a new book before it even made it to the floor. I take it to my office and drool over it until the end of the day when at that point the newness has either worn off or I still believe I can't live without it and proceed to the register to buy said book.
Today, I saw a book that caught my eye. It's the second book by this author about her experience with cancer and I've seen her documentary about her experience and loved it. It's called Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor: More Rebellion and Fire for your Healing Journey by Kris Carr. Now I absolutely loved her first book Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips for her creativity and photos and honesty even though it can bring tears to my eyes but then again, I love something that can move me to tears. I debated whether buying a book about surviving cancer would jinx me as I don't have and don't plan on getting that diagnosis, ever...However, her message about surviving against all odds, about healing, about empowerment, basically about living and thriving not just maintaining for however long we are meant to be in this physical body. I think it is a message everyone can benefit from the same way I think we can all benefit from the 12 steps whether we have an addiction or not.
Some of the section titles are; Mind, Body aka Lovin' the Temple, Jesus, Buddha, Elvis, ETC.
One quote I turned to that immediately caught my eye and my heart "I feel naked and abandoned. I do my very best. I work so hard to "let go" of all the nasties in me, to do the "right" thing, and yet here I am drifting in a shit storm! I'd crawl on broken glass to go back, but I know I can't. So what should I do? How do I tie my shoe so I can take one step forward?" Wow, even though I am healthy, thank God, I've felt this way on one occasion or another. I think we have all felt this way and had to find the "survivor" inside that would and could get us through the challenge and to the other side.
So, thinking that an ounce of prevention is worth, oh I can't remember the rest, I'm buying this book for the survivor in me, for the fighter against all odds of the daily trials and tribulations I encounter and I want to toast in honor of Kris Carr and ask that you check her out online http://www.crazysexycancer.com/ she is a kick butt kind of gal I wish the best for and thank from the bottom of my heart for her inspiration and strength and creativity! What a positive woman! Oh and it doesn't hurt that she's hot!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Inspiring Use of Creative Energy

Cutting for Stone Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Can I just start by saying this is one of the best books I've read in a few years. It starts out strong and doesn't let up. I was very surprised to discover how much I enjoyed reading about the field of medicine and the different perspectives of the different doctors and what they valued. I admire Abraham Verghese's ability to write so creatively and paint this picture of Ethiopa that made me want to visit this village. The members of this community are like one big family and yet they are so very different I guess not that different from a real family in that way. I was deeply moved by the relationship between Shiva and Marion. I've often wondered about the emotions of twins and if they can feel what the other feels even when seperated by miles. I would highly recommend this book if you love reading about remote villages, eccentric characters, medicine, psychology and so much more. This book starts with the birth of two boys and the death of their mother during labor and ends when they are grown so the reader really gets lost in this epic tale of love, family, extended friends, and the sacrifices people make out of love and compassion.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/386187.Midnight_in_the_Garden_of_Good_and_Evil">Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4952.John_Berendt">John Berendt

My rating: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/78795365">4 of 5 starsI enjoyed this book. It read like a novel and if it weren't for my book club choosing it, I wouldn't have read it as I'm not inclined to read something in the true crime genre. It didn't read like a crime novel or even a true account but more literary and colorful. I especially enjoyed the eccentric characters and southern culture as I wasn't born in the South and wasn't raised with this high society etiquette and customs or expectations. I now want to learn more about Sherman's invasion and the Civil War and look forward to the next time I'm able to visit Savannah and see all of the places he mentions in the book. I highly recommend this book for those that enjoy history, suspense, character development and more...
http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/392536-carla">View all my reviews >>

Monday, July 20, 2009

What A Bookstore For Women Should Be

The Education of Harriet Hatfield The Education of Harriet Hatfield by May Sarton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be charming and endearing. After Harriet's loss of her lifelong partner Vickie, she begins to realize how dependent and sheltered her life was in that relationship. She never regrets being with Vickie as she is the love of her life and always will be however she starts to step outside of her comfort zone and opens a feminist bookstore in a diverse but somewhat conservative area. With a few threats and attacks on her opening such a place, she never stops remembering why she wanted the bookstore, to provide a safe place for women to come together and communicate, share ideas and offer eachother support. This "third place" as we sometimes hear it referred to, has always been taken for granted by men as they have the local pub or bar down the street and "boys night out". Harriet felt the need of this type of community for women and even after a tragic event occurs, she never stops believing she's done the right thing. She meets a diverse group of people, men and women, that come to her with their problems and often times she feels like a counselor. I think it might be the first time in her life she's felt needed and liked for being herself and not in Vickie's shadow. In this book, I saw how tough it must have been back then to come out and be gay, to call yourself a Lesbian and not fear for the loss your job, the loss of your family and friends right down to the loss of yourself. I would highly recommend this book to those that feel they are swimming upstream and discriminated against. In the end, we are much more alike than different inside.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I couldn't wait to read this book as it was mentioned by several authors I admire as one of their favorite books. I found it difficult to get into and was often confused due to the different storylines (two couples) switching back and forth. I'm thinking this book might include what they call Magical Realism and more and more I am learning I don't care for it as it confuses me.

I do think Kumdera has a way with storytelling and their is vision in his way with words. I enjoyed the cultural aspects and background of what was going on during the Soviet invasion of Prague. I didn't particularly love any of the characters so I wasn't really all that concerned about their story.

It seemed that Tomas was never satisfied and continued to search for the newest adventure only to be left unfulfilled again. His wife Tereza seems to be the most melencholy and loyal in the book however I can't understand how she is able to accept Tomas' unfaithfulness and merely pouts or gets upset. It felt like she was in a viscious cycle of hanging on and letting go of their relationship and life together.

It was hard at times to tell dreams from reality and I can see why this book would be great in a group discussion as there is so much going on with symbolism and dreams.

I was crying while reading about Karenin's death and felt so sad for Tereza's loss of her beloved companion.

I would recommend this book to someone who likes classics, literary fiction, books that make you think and possibly to a book group looking for a good discussion.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
cannot say enough how much i loved this book. i so much enjoyed the correspondence between juliet and the islanders. getting tho know each character through their letters filled with opinions, experiences and gossip was such a great way to see them from different perspectives. i admired the fact that juliet followed her heart and allowed her life to unfold wherever she felt connected. if we all had the ability or the freedom or the lack of fear to just go wherever we felt called it seems our lives would be filled with relationships and experiences. i don't think she'll look back one day and regret she never lived to the fullest. i highly recommend this book for those that value relationships, new experiences, meeting different and quirky people and love learning about other's experiences.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Full Circle Perspective

Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories by Elizabeth Strout

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I just loved this collection of short stories involving the character of Olive Kitteridge in one way or another. I've never much like to read short stories for some reason. Maybe they leave me wanting more or maybe I just haven't given them a chance. However, these short stories were different in that they each gave a portrayal of Olive. She may be a customer, a mother, a wife, a friend, the neighbor or just walking through in a cameo appearance. By showing us Olive from every angle and everyone's point of view, I got a fuller perspective of her through different situations. Had I only read one of the stories, I might have misjudged her, thought her frigid or cranky or stubborn but by seeing her behavior outside of one situation, I was able to empathize with her and truly see her softness, insecurities and vulnerability. I like her and think she is spunky if not a little grumpy and set in her ways but maybe I'm weird but for some reason I feel when we have lived a long life and experienced heartache and loss and worked and contributed to society, we have earned a little attitude even if it is a little irritating to be around...

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The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
One of my book club members wanted to read a Sarah Waters and most everyone had read Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith but me of course so we went with Waters newest book. Being that it is the first Waters book I've read, I found her writing to be amazing. Her attention to detail and character development was great. I haven't read many period pieces or any ghost stories so this was totally new ground to walk on. I found that I like period writing, especially when it involves a simpler, less technelogical society. I can relate to characters that aren't sitting in front of a tv or playing video games or surfing the net. I admired Carloline's independence and mind of her own attitude. Dr. Faraday was a little needy and annoyed me to no end near the end of the book, he felt like a stalker. I would have loved more of the haunting and ghost story to be used as those scenes seemed to move the story along fast and I found myself waiting for the next, often too long...

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

For the Love of Books

An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books by Wendy Werris

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book as I work in a bookstore and find the publishing industry full of good stories. After reading this book, it made me wish things were simpler now, the way they were when the sales reps would visit the stores in their territory with a few titles they were selling and the buyer or bookstore owner/manager would decide if and how many based on their customer base. I realize it might still be somewhat like this at the indies but unfortunately I work at a big box store and our stock is chosen by people in New York. I love hearing about the relationships Wendy built in the business. Not so fond of the "good ole boys" but hey they are still around unfortunately, especially in the South. I loved reading about someone who loves and obsesses over books as much as I. Sometimes I think I'm the only one but after reading this, I realize there are others, if only a small portion of the population, at least I'm not alone.

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April Decatur Women's Book Club Book

Loving Frank: A Novel Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
wow, what a book...i'm so happy this was recommended for one of my book clubs as i wouldn't have picked it up. i found it so interesting to learn about not only Frank Lloyd Wright but a little about architecture and what was going on in the early 1900s in regards to politics, current events, society in general and I'm especially grateful to have learned a little about Mamah. She was an amazing woman in so many ways. I could totally relate to her longing for a more fulfilling relationship, more intimate and with an equal that could challenge her and make her think. I too am a lover of learning and seem to think intellectual stimulation is as strong if not stronger than any other kind, at least for me. I felt for her having to make choices that no matter what she did, someone would suffer, her, or her children, or Edwin her husband. It does seem that to follow one's heart often hurts others and that if we could just put our own longings, our own desires and passions aside and be there for others, life would be easier but it wouldn't be authentic either and as I've gotten older, authenticity has become more and more important to me. I highly recommend this book for many reasons, the historical aspect, the relationship dynamics are real and honest if painful, and the total surprise in the end. Makes me want to read more about Mamah and Frank outside of this book.

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