Being Zen has been sitting in my library book basket for a couple of weeks. I even had to renew it once b/c it was lingering & threatening to move to "overdue" status. It's not that I didn't like it - it's just that I was having a hard time getting into it. Which, in retrospect, is pretty funny given that I could apply that comment to my meditation practice a lot of the time.
When I picked up the book again today, I thought I'd just read a few pages while I ate brunch. Instead, I found myself scrambling for post it notes to mark the passages that I wanted to remember (the only downside to library books is the inability to highlight!).
A favorite passage about resistance -
Resistance comes in many forms: not wanting to sit in meditation, choosing to spin off into our mental world, suppressing or avoiding emotional pain, finding fault with ourselves and our lives. No matter what form it takes, resistance brings no peace. Whatever we resist, we actually strengthen, because we solidify it, empowering it to stay in our life.
And this, about experiencing emotions -
It is in these darker moments, when we feel overwhelmed, that we are apt to judge ourselves most harshly. We're likely to solidify the most negative core beliefs about ourselves, seeing ourselves as weak, as losers, as hopeless. It's at this point that we most need a sense of heart, of kindness, of lightness, in the practice. We do this by learning to breathe into the heartspace, thereby undercutting the relentless self-judgement of our deeply held beliefs.
And finally, this -
We can come to see - to experience - that we are not broken, that we were never broken, and that we don't need to be fixed. This is the essence of the practice life: continuing to see through the crippling boundaries that we ourselves maintain with our blind belief in the solid reality of our substitute life.
Powerful stuff. I know that not everyone in my life understands why I practice meditation. I suspect that more than a few think that I've just been drinking the hippie VT water for too long. The work that Ezra Bayda talks about in this book - working with believed thoughts, working through the broken parts - that's why I practice.
When I'm committed to something...I'm all in. I've been reading. A lot. Disclaimers: I read really fast, so I can knock off an average length book in day or two. I buy Nook books...but I also joined our local (well, Burlington...so neighboring) library, AND I recieve e-books to review through NetGalley. There is no shortage of words in my life. I'm also chronically behind on laundry. In the past 2 weeks, I've read...
Gone Girl: A Novel: dark, twisty, & good.
A Reliable Wife: dark, twisty...and okay.
Magic Hour: A Novel: Intriguing (Hope is reading this now)
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life : Still working on this one - liking it so far!
The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss & Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution : both for reviews, so more to come!
(the above are aff links, meaning that if about a thousand people clicked on those links & bought the books, I'd be paid enough in affliate earnings to buy...a postage stamp. Which I'd use to send one of the thousand a thank you card.)
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Yes, Chef is supposed to be an "orphan-done-good" story. Anyone who follows the New York foodie scene, or the celeb chef foodie scene probably knows who Marcus Samuelsson is. Born in Ethiopia, orphaned when his mother died of TB, adopted by a Swedish family....goes on to become an award winning chef. Yes, I skipped a lot in between.
Yes, Chef follows a peculiar cadence that left me feeling a bit disoriented. Marcus traveled alot in his training, and you'll bounce around while reading about those journeys. I found that the nostalgic bits - meeting his 14 year old daughter, meeting his Ethiopian father - were written in merely as an attempt to take the edge off of his ego. I felt particularly lost when the book veered into a history of Harlem while explaining why Marcus chose to open a restaurant there. Uhm, didn't he grow up in Sweden? Pretty sure that's not Harlem.
Oh, did you catch that? Meeting his 14 year old daughter. He was well aware of her birth, and chose to let his mother be his "representative" in facilitating child support. I get that he was young. I get that the pregnancy was unplanned (and clearly not prevented), but his decision to simply carry on as if his daughter didn't exist triggered every abandonment issue that I have (and trust me, I've got a LOT). He talks of finally meeting her & wanting to apologize & blah, blah, blah...then conveniently leaves her (& her mother) out of the acknowlegments. A small detail? Maybe, but it really bugged me. Oh, and her birth (or their meeting) doesn't even rate a mention on his life timeline on his blog. He lost major respect points for those omissions.
I found the tone of the book to be rather insincere. To be fair, the book is ghost-written - so who knows what the tone would have been if Marcus did the writing (we know he can cook, but who knows if he can write). There's quite a bit of name dropping in the middle of the book, so if you're like me & don't know all the celeb chefs by heart, you'll be a little dazed (and possibly bored). Marcus (& his writer) tell the tale of rising through the ranks, breaking down racial barriers, and bringing culture into the kitchen. Bravo, but...let's not ignore the fact that Marcus was raised by a Swedish family who provided the support for him to travel & train across Europe. This is NOT a projects-to-prosperity story, as much as Marcus tries to paint it that way.
Clearly, Marcus Samuelsson is a talented chef. I'd suggest that he continue to focus on the kitchen. Yes, Chef left me saying no, thanks. (sorry, couldn't resist)
A digital copy of this book was provided through NetGalley. I haven't been compensated for this review. Opinions expressed are my own.
hello to SO MANY great book recommendations. thank you, thank you, thank you! I've compiled everything into one pdf. If you'd like a copy, you can print from here. I am currently finishing up Yes, Chef! (a review copy), starting The Creative Habit, and have Magic Hour (the library was out of Winter Garden), and A Reliable Wife waiting in the wings. (aff links)
hello to a very exciting venture for Kelly Purkey. I don't even stamp, and I still want to buy these.
hello to a week w/o Hope. She's off to Calgary for Stampede. Despite the fact that she attends university in another country, I still get nervous when she travels.
hello to a Meditation Revolution. 28 days. Daily reminders in your inbox. Wanna take a seat with me?
hello to a very busy week ahead - freelance work keeping pace with real life work, and fitting in time for the gym + healthy cooking along the way.
disclaimer: if you're NOT reading this in Google Reader, simply ignore the design/theme...started playing around with it and quickly realized that a) it's too late at night and b) i have less than zero patience for ANYTHING tonight. moving right along...
At various points during our vacation, one or more of us was reading. At the beach, by the pool, in the rainforest, on the porch of the house...actual books, Nooks, and iphones. Lots of reading. While comparing titles & favorites, we quickly realized a simple truth...
Katrina needs to add some variety to her reading.
Barb, Kelly, & Chloe exchanged thoughts & reviews about a number of books that they've all read. The common thread? Mostly fiction. Guess what I rarely read? Yep...fiction. I found myself feeling downright illiterate as they rattled off books & authors that I've never heard of.
I don't really know when I stopped reading fiction. I've certainly picked up a novel here & there over the years, but my go-to genres are self-help, memoir, and cookbooks (yes, I actually read them, I don't just skip to the recipes). Self-help is a bit of a misnomer - it's not as if I'm strictly reading psychology books. Let's just say that I lean toward be better books. Interestingly, some of my favorite books were absolutely NOT enjoyed by the other girls. (edited to add - I just checked my list from last year - when I commited to reading at least 26 books. Only 6 were fiction -and 3 of those were The Hunger Games trilogy.)
So, I'm now committing myself to expanding my horizons over the next few months. I'll be babysitting some books for Chloe while she's living in Japan. I'm going to join the Burlington library b/c my Nook budget directly competes with my Starbucks budget...and we might as well just be honest about which one will win. I'm even considering joining a local book club with complete strangers that I found on meetup.com (the introvert in me shudders). Y'all should know by now that I throw myself into new projects with fierce intensity & determination. This "read more, read different" campaign is no different (see what I did there? totally tried to channel CZ and her move more, eat well slogan. imitation is the highest form of flattery.)
My process looks like this -
Start with a list of books that Barb, Kelly, & Chloe recommended. Download samples onto Nook. Look through the "people also bought" lists and add more samples. Read samples. Delete those that don't excite me in the least. Add those that peak my interest to my library list. And finally...
Ask my dear blog readers for their recos. Would you kindly leave a comment with 3-5 titles that you think that I absolutely should not miss? Thanks in advance! (and to be fair - don't JUST give me fiction. No genre is off limits!)
PS. I'm sure someone will ask - yes, I'm already on GoodReads. However, I cannot wrap my head around yet another social-media-like site. I'm taking baby steps.
A confession (that isn't much of a surprise to anyone who knows me) - I am a self-help book junkie. Especially motivational self-help books. Yep. I loooove a good pep talk. Those motivation posters with a photo of a tree, and some quip about growth? LOVE. So, when this book popped up on NetGalley, it was a no-brainer to request it.
I sat down with The Firestarter Sessions one day...and almost immediately closed it. NOT b/c it was bad...rather b/c I wasn't ready for how MUCH it was. It's real. It's honest. It's a bit in your face. It rips every single well-practiced excuse right out from under you.
And for that?
Well, I now have a girl-crush on Danielle LaPorte.
The promos for the book tout is as "the permission slip you've been waiting for." I'd say it's not just a permission slip - it's practically a command that says "get off your *ss and do what you've been saying to yourself that you should do."
Buy it. Read it. Do something with your life.
A digital copy of this book was provided through NetGalley. I haven't been compensated for this review. Opinions expressed are my own.
There exists a small circle of women that I claim as my best friends. I have to say that with a plural ending b/c it is impossible to choose just one who towers above the rest. They are my people, my tribe, my safety net, my history, my sounding board...they are an integral part of my story. Some I have known since kindergarten (an astounding honor, given how many times I've moved). Some may as well be family. Some I met online, just a few years ago, but I've lost track of when I didn't know them. And then, there are the imaginary friends. Imaginary only in the sense that I don't know them "for real"...and they don't know me at all. They are women who I can imagine sitting down with a bottle (or three) of wine and sharing stories and trading tears for laughter. They represent who I want to be when I grow up...even though most are younger than me. They are wise and creative and brave.
One of them is Susannah Conway.
I ordered this i know (aff) last week, not willing to be patient & find out if it would be available for nook. As I pulled into the driveway after a morning with Colleen @ the farmer's market, I remembered that it was due to arrive. I planned to unwrap it, read a few pages, and then set about completing the to-do list that has been demanding my attention.
I spent most of the day on the couch.
I started reading, and audibly gasped on the second page of the intro...y'know, the pages BEFORE the pages that are actually numbered? I read this...
"It's entirely possible to squash your pain down and carry on with your life, but one day it will catch up with you. One day a little tear will appear in the blanket and then, with an almighty rip, all your crap comes tumbling out. This is a good thing in the long run."
At that point, I put the book down. I picked up my car keys, drove to the corner store, and bought another bottle of wine. And I cancelled any plans of productivity that I might have had.
Susannah's book is the story of unraveling & recovery in the years following the death of her partner. She tells her very personal story with a raw honesty that brought me to tears, and also found me shaking my head in agreement & empathy. The loss that I am dealing with is not of the physical sort, but it represents a death nonetheless. Susannah's description of her journey through grief felt so familiar. I haven't yet allowed myself to really mourn the death of a seventeen-year relationship. Are you allowed to mourn when the death is your own choosing? I've only just begun to talk about it, to say the words out loud. With an almighty rip.
"Our lives are not lived in a straight line; the choices and decisions we make take us in many directions, the crashes and collisions shunting us off our paths until we pick up the breadcrumb trail and get back on our way."
If I'm being brutally honest, I felt like sh*t when I finished this book (early on Sunday morning, less than 24 hrs after its arrival). I was angry with myself for not coming out of this darkness with the insight & reflection that Susannah achieved. I catalogued, for the millionth time, my failures & shortcomings. I was exhausted & emotionally drained. And then I looked back at one of the many passages that I highlighted on a dog-eared page...
"I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves, we can truly make a difference in the world."
That particular page (pg 217) ends with the question & declaration..."Are you ready to try? Let's do this."
I said in instagram/twitter that it was safe to say that this book was life-changing. I honestly feel that way. It's the universe reminding me that I'm not entirely alone - that others are dealing with the painful reality that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I'll be signing up for Susannah's Unraveling class in the fall. And I'll be re-reading this book while I wait.
I think that I've mentioned before that I am a cookbook junkie. Love exploring new titles. So when this cookbook showed up as a NetGalley option, I quickly raised my hand (pick me, pick me!)...
Here's what one of the authors has to say about the book -
"I've discovered that there are just two important tricks to getting delicious, healthy meals on the table. The first is choosing lots of fresh, unprocessed foods, and the second is having a foolproof plan to get you in and out of the kitchen quickly. This book delivers on both."—Karen Ansel
That pretty much sums up my goal for daily meals, so sign me up! The recipes in this book are so approachable, so do-able that you'll really have NO reason to not cook up a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I also think that this would be the perfect cookbook to share with your kids - the recipes are really that managable.
So far, I'm a fan of the Egg Sandwhiches with Wilted Spinach, the Spinach, Pear, and Pomegranate Salad, and the Broccoli Rabe & Ricotta Crostini. I've got a dozen other recipes bookmarked to try. I'll be ordering a copy of this book when it's released in April - everything about it is just straight up inspiring. Lovely photography, great styling, and even a spunky font. Love, love, and love.
Healthy in a Hurry (aff) is available on Amazon in April, but you can pre-order it now!
I'm spending this Foodie Friday in NYC (eating fabulous food, of course), so today I thought I'd do a long-overdue review of this Giada cookbook. First, a confession/reminder - I don't watch much TV, so I have only seen Giada on The Food Network if I happen to catch an episode on a Jet Blue flight. So it wasn't really the lure of Giada that made me want to try this cookbook - it was the lure of "weeknights." Now, a disclaimer - I don't have little kids. I don't need to get dinner on the table at 6:00 to facilitate an early bedtime. Most nights I get home from work/gym around 7 and dinner is on the table by 8. I know that is late for a lot of of you. So just know that my idea of quick/easy might be a little different than yours. Also know that I enjoy planning meals & cooking them (another post on that soon, Mom!) - so most of the time, dinner doesn't feel like a chore to me. Wow. Long intro!
In short, this cookbook rocks. I found myself choosing at least one, and usually several, recipes per week. Risotto with Currants, Feta, & Pine Nuts is now a family favorite. There's a Whole Wheat Penne & Arugula recipe (that I can't recall the name of) that was really yummy. I've read a few other reviews of this cookbook that complain that using fresh herbs, micro greens, and specialty cheeses isn't realistic. I disagree - adding in a few out-of-the-ordinary ingredients are what made this cookbook fun for me. Currants in risotto? Huh? They're fabulous. That same recipe is responsible for my current obsession with feta cheese. There's a nice mix of veg and meat recipes - and a few recipes that I just altered a bit to make veg.
We'll all have to wait just a bit to add this one to our bookshelves - it releases in March. (although I've already got it on pre-order...I liked it that much) I've been on a bit of a cookbook binge lately - what do you think I should add to my collection?
disclaimer - I was provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher via netGalley.com. I was not compensated for this review, and the opinion expressed is my own.