Tag Archives: books

How Pile of Books Taught Me to Let Go

Spring has sprung, and my 2017 quest to live mindfully, with less clutter, has continued.

I was inspired by an article to try the popular KonMari Method of cleaning. The basic idea is to collect all items of a similar nature from around the home and place them in one pile.

Once gathered, it is much easier to decide what to recycle, give away, or keep. One should start with items with little attachment, like magazines. I easily gave them all away. Then, work toward others with more attachment, like for me, an English major, it is books. I wanted to keep them all forever, no matter how dusty they might be.

Picture this: a tall stack of books with different shapes and colors. How high is the stack in your mind?

Make it grow, so much so that the image from Shel Silverstein’s poem, “Sara Silvia Cynthia Stout,”comes to mind. From the smaller sized Life’s Little Instruction Book and Talking Dirty to the Queen of Clean, to the larger Book of Awakening, there they stood staring at me. It became immediately evident that these books offered a reflection of my life. The titles mirrored the many sides of me and my changes along the way.

Books like KonMari Method and The Minimalists held my hand when I resembled a potential mad woman: cleaning, scrubbing, and purging relentlessly for days. Those titles taught me about my tangled emotions caused by our overload of things.

I faced the fear of perceived judgment; thinking others would judge my ability to be a good wife or mother by how clean my home was. By sorting and clearing, I did the same to the thoughts in my head. As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

Less stuff in the house equals less stuff to pick off of the ground. I looked forward to more time focused on life’s joys.

Some of the books reminded me of when I acted like a pig in a pile of corn. What was happening in life that I couldn’t slow down and taste my food? When life threw too many lemons my way, I needed to be taught how to sit and sweetly sip lemonade instead. So, I read. Guidebooks like Eight Weeks to Optimum Health and collections of recipes came to the rescue by Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and much more. I found better foods to crunch and reminded myself how nice meals are at a slower pace.

The lost athlete inside me was in that stack, too. I went from having fun playing sports every day to being injured and idle. Looking back, why did I smack so many tennis balls? Why did I walk at a pro’s pace? Why did I cycle for hours on end? Books like the Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance and The Power of Now helped me center my thoughts when I needed focus. Now in my hands, I wondered if I could let those titles go. I wanted to gain all of that back after my knee surgery and rehabilitation.

I thought back to what I needed when I started participating in the 30-day hot yoga challenges over and over again. Meditations from the Mat and 40 Days to Personal Revolution walked me through my quest for self-care. They brought me closer to an inner knowledge and some peace. Those might be the titles to hang on to as my new knee may need a gentler approach.

Lastly, I saw in that stack books my sense of wonder and thirst for something greater. Awareness, How to Have a Mary Heart in a Martha World, The Urban Monk, Ethics in the Real World, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, Love Wins, Tao of Pooh, Kids are Worth It, The Four Agreements, Living Beautifully, and multi-colored prayer books stood out from the crowd. They were among the cherished titles that I have highlighted, scribbled upon, and stained throughout their time in my hands. Each one graciously guided me as life ebbed and flowed.

How was I to know which books to keep and which to toss? The KonMari Method encourages the reader to hold each individual item collected in their hands and feel the response. Does the item bring joy or a memory of joy? If it truly brings joy, one may decide to keep it. However, if it brings up memories or other emotions, let it go. Memories are already with us: We don’t need the tangible reminder collecting dust.

I imagined all of those books in one backpack that I needed to carry for the rest of my life. Then, I laughed—I’m still a book nut with genuine joy in more than a few works. So, I imagined all of those books in a larger roller bag instead.

As I began the next phase, I did it. I, literally, let go. Goodbye to the melancholy. So long to the search for something more. I was happy in the present moment and did not need the crutches that got me here. I kept more than I had originally intended, but most of the stack is gone.

Hopefully, they will now help someone new.

Are there items weighing down your space, thoughts, or life?

Do they look at you as a reminder of what was?

Why are they still with you?

Do you still need them?

If you are ready to make changes, try the KonMari Method. I highly recommend it.

Seeing everything thing you own of one item in a single pile certainly made an impact on me.

~Author: Kate Fleming 

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Open Wounds

They say the worst wounds, the deadliest of them, aren’t the ones people see on the outside. They’re the ones that make us bleed internally. It reminds me of what J.K. Rowling once said, that some wounds run too deep for the healing. True, but I want to do something about mine; I can’t nurse them forever and continue bleeding so, I followed Oprah’s example. She said: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

What I did was gathered all the poems I have been writing for the last two years, bundle them into a book and published my first anthology of poetry. They are about pain, longing, desires, dreams, hope, life and love done in a variety of formats. You can find them here  or click the image widget on the upper right side of my blog page, it will take you directly to the site.

Thank you in advance for checking it out and please feel free to pass the word around.

I Did It!

After years of deliberation, self-doubt; hesitation and being a coward; I finally did it. I published my first E-book! No more hiding, no more excuses. It is out there now. There is nothing I can do about it. I would appreciate so much if you check it out and maybe purchase it? Thank you in advance.

Here is the link: The House Across The Street 

There is also an image widget on the top right hand side of my blog page. You can simply click it and it will take you there.

Synopsis:

What if everything you believe in turns out to be nothing but lies? What if everything you hold dear is nothing but a figment of your own imagination? What if the love that you thought was for keeps doesn’t exist at all? What if you don’t know anymore who you can trust including your own self? What if you begin doubting everyone, everything, even your own sanity? What if your almost perfect world suddenly crumbles around you and there is no one you can turn to?

When R.M. came home one day from school and found out that the house across the street wasn’t anymore for sale he thought: Finally, a new neighbor. He never suspected that the seemingly simple and ordinary occurrence would start a series of events that will change the core of his existence and will have a great impact on his future. For R. M. life was about to change that day and not for the better…

See you there!

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Dying…

I was in the charity shop this afternoon trying to find some interesting books to read finding none and I thought: “How sad.”

How sad it is to see those empty shelves that used to house hundreds of books one can get lost in it for hours at times. Now, they are gone. I went to a lot of such places this weekend in the hope of finding some suitable reading materials but what’s on offer was so little compare to couple of years ago.

There was a time that books are everywhere. You cannot turn a corner without bumping into a bookstore, but in my city alone, several of those shops have closed their doors due to low patronage. It breaks my heart to witness another dying culture.

 When browsing in second hand bookstores, not only customers are spoilt for choice they can be selective as well for there were products in abundance; now, that privilege is a thing of the past. I began to notice the decline in offer when I failed to find my favourite authors among the selection. First, I settled for finding good books. It doesn’t matter who wrote them as long as the stories are interesting enough to keep me busy. I am a voracious reader anyway, and I can consume great quantity of materials on so short time that if I am going to purchase all my reading pleasure brand new, I will be soon on the edge of bankruptcy. That’s why I frequent charity shops to sustain my needs.

When even good books became rarity, I talked myself into buying paperbacks that are “good enough.” That was also a time when I consider going to a library. But I hate rules and I dislike deadlines and I tend to abuse my books by bringing them everywhere and not using bookmarkers because I tend to lose them, I fold a corner of a page instead. Underlining the passages I like and highlighting them with coloured markers are some of my sinful preoccupation while reading. I think no library would appreciate that.

Now, even mediocre books are very hard to find. Especially if one is looking for reading materials that are written in English but living in a country that does not have English as principal language. I am aware that there is this thing called E-Book, and that is about the only thing I know about it. Frankly, I am not interested knowing also. At least, not yet. Not as long as I can find printed materials to read. It reminds me of the time that I stupidly refused to change my nationality out of principle. Till someone opened my eyes to the possibilities and advantages of acquiring one and to be honest, I had no choice. Not, if I want to see my children growing up.

Why I am not interested in using E- Book? Well… there are so many reasons, but the most important of them all is because I believe that the ultimate reading experience involves holding an actual book. Something you can smell (I love smelling books, old or new) caress the pages… there is something erotic about turning those folios (or leaves if you preferred) books turn me on and I unwittingly impart this knowledge to my ex who never hesitated to use it against me whenever he deemed appropriate.

One of my secret fantasies is to be locked up in a vast library (or a museum) for a week, living side by side with all of those magnificent stories. It’s better than travelling sometimes and certainly preferable than having sex. I imagine gliding my hand across their spines, feeling the textures, the hardness, embracing their aroma… the thoughts that thousands, probably millions of people handled them, found knowledge and solace between their pages is a humbling experience.

But my first love is dying. Dying in the hands of modern society. The same society who used to respect and recognize the value and power of printed materials by making them available for everyone who seeks to be educated and advance in any field. The same society who became knowledgeable with the help of books is now ignoring and casting them away in exchange for modern technology.  I know that the only constant in this world is changes but can we at least preserve some of our most prominent culture/tradition/heritage/whatever? A lot of those are disappearing in the name of progress which makes me question if we are really improving.

I am aware that there are great buildings that houses rare volumes. But I am not talking about those. I am talking about the accessibility of tangible educational reading materials to ordinary mortals in the comfort of their own homes, in their own tempo. I rather get rid of those fashion glossy magazines and gossip tabloids in favour of bringing back the good old books. And comics and snail mails, etc. But that is for another post…  

Now, I’m scared. I’m scared that one day the only way I can see books is from behind protected glass, admiring it from a distance, which makes me think of pictures of Dinosaurs and certain animals that you can only see from afar in the zoo. If you’re lucky.

Isn’t it a sad, sad affair?

 

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Oops

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ”  1 Corinthians 13

Religion is supposed to be our comfort when the hard times come. God is our rod and our staff, the Great Psalm declares; He will be with us and bear us up when we take that inevitable walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Another Psalm assures us that God is our refuge and our strength, although the people who were victims of all evils might dispute that. Let’s say plainly what Saint Paul meant when he spoke of that darkened glass. He meant we are supposed to take it all on faith. If our faith is strong, we’ll go to heaven, and we’ll understand the whole thing when we get there. As if life were a joke, and heaven the place where the cosmic punchline is finally explained to us.

Christ taught us to to turn the other cheeks and love our enemies. We pay the concept lip service, but when most of us are struck, we try to pay back double. Christ drove the money changers from the temple, but we all know those quick-buck artists never stay away for long, if you’ve ever sat yourself down to a rousing game of church bingo or heard a radio preacher begging for money, you know exactly what I mean. Isaiah prophesied that the day would come when we’d beat out swords into plowshares, but all they’ve been beaten into in our current dark age is atomic bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

And what do we get for our faith? For centuries we’ve given this church or that one our gifts of blood and treasure? The assurance that heaven is waiting for us at the end of it all, and when we get there, the punchline will be explained and we will say, ” Oh, yeah! Now I get it.” That’s the big pay off. It’s dinned into our ears from our earliest days; heaven, heaven, heaven! We will see our lost children, our dear mothers will take us in their arms! That’s the carrot. The stick we ‘re beaten with is hell, hell, hell! A Sheol of eternal damnation and torment. We tell young children that they stand in danger of eternal fire if they steal a piece of penny candy or lie about how they got their new shoes wet.

There is no proof of this after-life destination; no backbone of science; there is only the bald assurance, coupled with our powerful need to believe that it all make sense. Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then, when you need the benefits you paid for so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist.

We came from a mystery and it’s to a mystery we go. Maybe there is something there, but it’s not God as any church understands Him. Look at the babble of conflicting beliefs and you will know that. They cancel each other out and leave nothing. Believe what you want to believe but I tell you this: behind Saint Paul’s darkened glass, there is nothing but a lie… 

~ Stephen King (Revival)

 

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Second Time Around

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Summer of ’42 by Herman Raucher 

My copy of the book is dog-eared, couple of pages are torn and the front and back cover are loose but if there is a fire, this book is the first one I’m going to grab to rescue. Why? Because it is honest, the narratives easy to read and understand, the characters are real and warm, and the story recognizable. I will not bore you with the details of my own stories. Enough to mention that my loving ex often referred to me in the past as Miss Summer of ’42.

This particular passage is forever engraved in my memory because I know it to be true. So I was told many times. Each time by a different Hermie.

“The house was her house. And nothing, from the first moment he saw her, and no one who had happened to him since had ever been as frightening and as confusing or could have done more to make him feel more sure, more insecure, more important, and less significant.” 

This book is the kind of book that you can rely on to accompany you through life. Both during the sad as well as the happy times. It never fails to put smile on my face and warm my heart every time I pick it up. At some point in our lives, there is always a Summer of ’42 of some sort. No?

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Quote Me

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

That would be a quote from Erik The Phantom as Susan Kay wrote it. Strange that this specific quote is nowhere to be found elsewhere but in the book itself. It is not included in the list of quotes from the same story/movie in Goodreads or BrainyQuotes. You must read the whole book to find it. I like this particular passage because it is dark, dry, cynical and oh, so true. It goes like this:

“Happiness is like the first intoxication of morphine. It doesn’t last very long.”

 There is also another quote from the same character in the same story that I like a lot. Again, it exists nowhere but in the book. It says: 

“Time ravages beauty and preserves plain(li)ness.”

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Book Of Counted Sorrows

Can our future be cleanly shorn

from a life to which we’re born?

Is each of us a creature free –

Or trapped at birth by destiny?

 

Pity those who believe the latter.

Without freedom, nothing matters.

Hope is the destination that we seek.

Love is the road that leads to hope.

 Courage is the motor that drives us.

We travel out of darkness into faith.

 

All of us are travelers lost,

Out tickets arranged at cost

Unknown but beyond our means.

This odd itinerary of scenes

– enigmatic, strange, unreal –

Leaves us unsure how to feel.

No postmortem journey is rife

With more mystery than life.

 

At the point where hope and reason part,

lies the spot where madness gets a start.

Hope to make the world kinder and free –

but flowers of hope root in reality…

 

~ Dean Koontz

 

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The Phantom

You have to spend one day as or with your favorite fictional character. Which one would it be and what would you do?

That would be Erik The Phantom as written by Susan Kay.

I know that there are other books out there about the same subject including the original by Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux but the difference is Ms. Kay gave Erik a back story; her book begins when he was born and ended when he became The Phantom. While the majority only know him as the “ghost” at the Paris Opera House, she introduced us the boy before he became the man.

In this book, the author let us see the person behind the mask, the hows and whys he becomes what the world famously known him for. Susan Kay successfully portrayed him as a victim of circumstances instead of a villain, an ugly one. In this book you will see his beauty, his longings, his sufferings and dreams, like any normal human being. In her book, Erik became as real as anyone of us out there and I love him.

I want to spend a day with this character if only to show him that not everyone is cruel, that some people could see beneath the exterior, that love is not always based on appearance alone; that someone could love him the way he is: amazingly genuine and lovable creature. I want to see his genius in person, watch him draw, build, play and compost music; I want to take care of him even just for a while…

Erik had spoken so many quotable quotes that will stay with me forever. Here are the three that made the most impression on me:

“Happiness is like the first intoxication of morphine; it doesn’t last very long.”

“Time ravages beauty and preserves plainness.”

“None of us can choose where we shall love…”

God, I love the boy…

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Bedtime Stories

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?

Favorite book… Bedtime Stories… Hmmm… We couldn’t afford to buy books and we were always living in the middle of nowhere and library didn’t exist in small barrio schools in my time so, that option/opportunity/chance never presented itself when I was young. Only when I was in high school I had discovered the likes of Hemingway, Sandburg and St. Vincent Millay though I must admit  I didn’t fully grasped or understood their works then. 

But we had battery operated transistor radio. My father’s most priced possession and a necessity for tracking the course of the weather. Like it or not we listened to versified debates, singing contests, and drama/horror/action series till we fall asleep. Programs my father seemed to favored.

For variety my mother told us stories and recited poems of the great Edgar Allan Poe, Greek mythology and Jason and the Argonauts. For my part, I wrote my own fantasy stories, school plays and poems. But favorite books I never had as a child.

Did it influence the person I am now? Definitely. Our past, background and upbringing make us who we are.  And Edgar Allan Poe is still and will always be my hero. 

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Nature

What is your inspiration? What moves you? What is it that never fails to motivate you, to get you going, or make you happy?

My inspiration? Nature. Nature and its never-ending cycles and phases, ever-changing faces, and multiple facets. It never fails to move and motivate me and at times makes me momentarily happy. I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic. Someone wrote (I think it’s Byron)

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”

Anne Frank said:

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. 

And to directly quote Van Gogh: “I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”

To Whom It May Concern

I opened a book I recently purchased from a charity shop.  A piece of paper fluttered to the floor. I picked it up and started reading. It says:

I’ll be back. I don’t know how long it will take but I will. And if our love is strong enough, I will find you there waiting for me. 

I closed the book. I don’t know what to think.

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Serially Yours (Part One)

There was this gorgeous natural pool between two mountains with cute, small waterfall descending from one side and a river with reasonable fast current down on the other side with a picturesque bamboo bridge across.

I like the place because it was kind of private, peaceful and the fauna and flora were simply breath-taking. I was stripped down from the waist up and ready to hit the water when I saw her.

She didn’t see me at first; she was deep in thoughts concentrating on negotiating the narrow, steep path leading down to the pool. She was wearing a blue bikini with green and yellow flower pattern with a matching pareo tied around her hips. She was so beautiful! The sight of her almost took my breath away.

When she was almost at the bottom of the steps, she saw me. A strange mixture of surprise and fear (?) registered on her face. But that was only for a fraction of a second, she quickly pivoted on her heels and run!

But I was quick. I only wanted to stop her and talk, thinking this maybe my only chance to catch her alone, I simply cannot let her go away.

 I caught up with her easily. This is my terrain, my playground; I know this place better than anyone, I grew up here, negotiating treacherous surfaces is a second nature to me. She on the other hand is a city girl, I know. Too bad for her.

When I reached her something I never planned happened. What I did was___ grabbed her, turned her towards me, pulled her closer and kissed her passionately. It happened so fast she didn’t get the chance to react. Why she must tasted so sweet and so soft to hold I right away lost control of myself?

I pulled her even closer against me, she let a moan, she said: “Oh, Michael.” And went limp in my arms.  My knees buckled, my legs turned to Jell-O, my mind went blank, and suddenly the world had stop from turning. I heard thunder and lightning everywhere and I was stiff as a pole.

When I carried and laid her on the grass, she did not resist. It was starting to get dark. When I lay next to her; she closed her eyes and bit her lips. We kissed hungrily for a while, touching, exploring. I was only beginning to discover where everything is. I never realized that a kiss could taste like heaven I didn’t want to stop.

The moment I removed her bikini top, she gave me a look I never seen before anywhere or from anyone in my life. Not even on her. All I know was what the look did to my blood ‒ boil!

When I pulled the rest of the bikini all the way down, she clung to me passionately, we’re like two people drowning; very fast and there was no tomorrow. When I entered her, I thought I was going to pass out from ecstasy. It was good. No, better than good, better than anything I have ever experience so far, it was worth dying twice over.

When I murmured in her ear that I have no idea it would be like this, she said: “You don’t see nothing yet.” And she showed me. Not one, not twice, but six times over!

We laid side by side afterwards looking at the moon.

Then she said: “Now, what?”

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images: 4ever.eu & pinterest