Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Book Thief



The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. 

When was the last time you read a book or saw a movie that stuck like glue in your thoughts for several days?  The kind of story where you find you just can't rid your mind of the characters spirit, depth, and determination.  And for some reason it touched a part of your heart and a had lasting effect on you.  Well, this story did just that for me.  The writing is creative, intelligent, thought provoking, both horrific and kind, a bit whimsy, there is foreshadowing, and just something I haven't come across in a long time. 

The story is about Liesel, a foster child during WWII who has a love for books.  Although she cannot read or write she steals her first book at her little brother's funeral.  This is where we come to know the narrator.  And not just any narrator, he is Death, or otherwise known as the Grim Reaper.  I know, sounds morbid.  But it's really not.  Death's first encounter with Liesel is here at her brother's funeral. One of my favorite lines in the book by Death is about human nature, "So much good, so much evil, just add water."  Just so clever.

Liesel never knew her father.  After her little brother's funeral, her mother disappears and she goes to live with Hans and Rosa her foster parents.  Her foster father is a gentle soul and very kind to her.  He teaches her how to read and write.  But her love for books and the stories inside them are brought to life by Max, the Jewish refugee they are hiding in their basement.  Who Liesel becomes to love like a brother.

He teaches her the importance of words.  How to see them, describe them, and feel them.  To be imaginative.  Everyday she comes home from school, he asks her to tell tales with imagery about her day and what she saw.  As a Christmas gift, he paints over the pages of Hitler's book "Mein Kamph." Blank pages for her to write her story.  Which at the end, we find is the book Death has been narrating.

Anyway, there is so much to say about this book and movie.  So many other important characters and story lines, such as abandonment, guilt, perceived cowardliness, and humanity that are critical to the story.  Just one of the many things, and definitely not the moral of the story,  I came away with is that she had three mother's in her life: her birth mother, foster mother, and the woman that befriended her with the books she let read and later steal, or as Liesel would say borrow.  This woman, through horrific circumstance came to be her final mother.  Love knows no boundaries.
  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Aging Gracefully...A Real Knee Slapper!

I'm aging, and the world is seeing it.
-Ray Romano

Around my birthday for the last several years,  age decides to pull a cute little knee slapper on me.  "Hey, you're the bees knees. Ha, I got you to look, just take a gander at those suckers.  Don't look the same as when you were 20 or 30, do they?  And wait, Oh I'm laughing too hard, look in the mirror.  Yes, just around the corner of your mouth...right there...where you smile.  See that?  Why ain't that funny!"

Aging gracefully, that is the knee slapping question.  What is aging gracefully how the heck can I get 'er done?  I happen to think it lies within one's attitude and self awareness.  I watched Deepak on Super Soul Sunday and he spoke about his wife being his teacher on self-esteem.  He said her innate high self-esteem taught him, "Do not confuse your image with your self.  The real self within you is beneath no one.  It's immune to criticism and it's fearless." Deepak explains, "Your self image is what other people think of you and your self is what you think of you."

Knowing yourself is about self-confidence, attitude, acceptance, and general happiness.  Let's be real, caring about how others see us is just part of human nature.  I'm not opposed to anyone getting a little repair work.  Hey, a little self-maintenance never hurts in the self-esteem department.  But how much is too much and for whom is it being done? Personally, I'm exhausted at what I see on the tele.  A lot of women my age with overly plumped up faces and lips trying to hold on to the way they looked in their 20's.  What's wrong with looking 40, 50, 60, or 70 and being fearless to outward criticism?

I get it, I want to look decent when I look in the mirror at my image.  I would be lying if I said it didn't matter, because it does.  I wish I were more evolved.  But I do know, self care is crucial. Caring for what I eat, how I groom, how I keep my muscles strong.  I like to eat healthy and work out, because I like how it makes me feel on the inside and how it makes me look (image) on the outside.  It all boils down to balance.  Do what 'cha gotta do.

As for now, I choose self, which includes a little here (work my body-self image) and a lot there (work my attitude-self).   So, I'll be the 40+ year old with the fine lines, wrinkles, and creases around the knees.  Because it's gonna happen and I'm ok with that image.  But, I won't lie.  I'll do what I gotta do and slow it down with a good dose of Olay Regenerist cream slathered on the face nightly and the daily squats to rock that once 20 year old tight ass!

"Nothing brings down walls as surely as acceptance."
-Deepak Chopra, The Third Jesus:  The Christ We Cannot Ignore

This weeks cause:  4 Paws 4 Ability. Their mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities and veterans who have lost use of limbs and hearing; help with animal rescue, and educate the public regarding use of service dogs in public places. 

Just a sampling of the super cool tee's available this week.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dummie's Guide to Blog Post Titles...

Is it weird in here, or is it just me?
-Steven Wright


Oh boy, oh boy...I just thought I was oh, so very popular in the blogging world.  Even with my brief hiatus of, "Finding my blogging voice." I kept getting numerous hits and my numbers were oh, so wonderfully high.

Allow me to give you a little back story...we bloggers like to check our stat reports on our blog traffic from time to time.  How many hits did I get today, week, month?  It's a fun game (let's be real it's good for the ego). Also, you can see where your hits are coming from.  And you can even go to sites like vampirestat.com  and plug in your blog name and view what your 'blog worth' is at the moment.  Yea, it's true.  And I have no idea what that actually means and how to even utilize informatin like that.

As I was going through finding my blog voice crisis, I kept getting all these anonymous hits and my somewhat high traffic numbers just didn't make sense to me.  I was like what the?  Golly gee you really, really like me (my Sally Field Oscar moment)! Gosh, I feel so important, face blushing, hands in pockets, foot kicking up sand.  

The funny thing is, most of the time the hits are on this one particular post of mine. Hmmm...head scratcher.  I can be a bit naive and slow to react at times.  This seems odd, maybe I should look in to this. Why is this one blog post title, My Favorite App...AllWomenStalk, getting so many hits and where are they coming from?

Well, I'll just check and click.click.click on these sites that are just so supportive of me! Oh.My.Goodness. Who is this lady? What.is.she.doingggg?  Oh, golly gee, hello skin...how in the?...hello things I really do.not.need.to.see!  Grab yo sunglasses 'cuz the sun is shinin' and it ain't in the sky.  Get my drift...   

If it's a penny for your thoughts and you put in your two cents worth, then someone, somewhere is making a penny.
-Steven Wright

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Self Care Says What?


“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” 
― Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar





I can recall three times in my life when words literally jumped off the page from what I was reading.  It was like I had a magnifying glass embedded in my eyes.  Each time this happened to me, I was looking for answers for something I was going through.  The first time was when I was a teenager and reading from my bible.  Second, when I was a newlywed and reading from a newspaper.  The third time was just the other day when I was reading from a text from a really good friend of mine (I like to call her one of my life teachers).

I was having one of those self-pity days and complaining and whining about feeling like a bloated whale and not wanting to give up a certain thing in my diet that makes me feel special (but not really good for me), grande soy latte anyone?  Poor me. Yea, like whatever, as she pointedly flips her hair.  Well...this is what I read, "Use the way you are feeling about your body to start on a new path to self care." Willis said what? Why are the words self care vibrating in large font in front of my eyes?  What the?  Self-care? Ohhhh...I get it.  It's about having concern for myself and not about self deprivation. I never thought of it that way. I need to change how I think.  I need to change my perspective of poor, pitiful me look what I need to give up because I am unable to feel special without it, as she removes the ba ba from her mouth.  Instead, see it through the eyes of this is the change I should make in order to feel better and take better care of myself.  It's a good thing! The conversation was more than just the drink. The point she was making is if I am feeling unease in my body that means I must not be taking care of me. How can I find a solution while complaining about the problem? Instead, use the way I feel as fuel to drive my thinking on a new path of self care.  As my parents would say, Hallelujah Nathan!

    "Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about."
-Stephen Richards


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

They Say....

We think we live in the world, but the world lives in us.
-Deepak Chopra
They say...life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you're going to get.  You could also say, "You never know what to expect next."  In the movie, Forrest Gump,  Mama says to Forrest further in the quote, "You know, they've got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don't like others?  And you eat all the ones you don't like as much?  I always think about that when something painful comes up." So, as the saying goes, each chocolate is different and you never know what you're going to bite in to.

The box of chocolate is just like our life.  As each piece of chocolate is different and unique, so is each day that we are so fortunate to wake up to and breath in.  Chaos and circumstances can arise that challenge us and test our integrity and character.  Or, the day can hold beauty, laughter, and happiness if we are wise enough to recognize its power. As Deepak conveys in the quote above, we all live in the same world, however the way we live is established on how we were trained, what we know based on our experiences, and how those experiences and training create the way we think.  For instance, when life presents a challenge how will you spin that challenge in your mind?  Where will you allow your thoughts to go? I believe our thoughts create our world.  And the universe will match those thoughts.  So if we are choosing happiness or acceptance, then the universe will give us a match.  If we are choosing bitterness or victimization then the universe will find a perfect fit for that too.  So how do we better our thoughts to make sure we don't allow them to spin out of control?  Well, we can relax (breathe), take a step back (remove ourselves from the situation either physically or mentally), and view the circumstance from all view points.  Not just our own ego driven view point. Instead of reacting (or over reacting) we can make a conscious choice how and where we allow our emotions to go and not compete with the insulted emotion.  And last, talk with ourselves.  Think positively and have confidence in our own abilities, which can help you and me overcome the challenges that life brings..."Now just polish these off, and everything will be ok, life is like a box of chocolates."

The greater part of human pain is unnecessary.  It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.
-Eckhart Tolle

A shout out to my new fabulous friends Lisa, Memaw, and Auntie Bert (The Forga Clan)!  
Thank you for our fun conversation and kind, encouraging words about this blog.  

Peace Bella's,
Sevenly.org charity of the week End7, your purchase protects 14 children from 7 debilitating diseases for 1 year

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let that Hair Whip in the Wind Ya'll!


"I am living breathing freedom"
-Hiroko Sakai

I was driving home from taking my knuckleheads to school this morning and witnessed a dog leaning out the back seat window of a car.  As I was watching the dog's hair blowing in the wind, big huge smile on his face (or wind in his cheeks.it's how you look at it), and his chest out with his body standing bold without a care in the world a few things came over me.  First, the word carefree came to mind.  Second, the feeling of happiness (because I smiled), laughter (because he was so stinkn' cute he made me chuckle), and pleasure (because he looked like he was enjoying himself).  Third, the concept that acting carefree brings on the feeling of freedom.  And freedom mixed with happiness, laughter, and pleasure breeds contentment.  And contentment means an ease of mind which fuels the thought that life is yours and you can control it.  It's that simple.
 "For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For your last minute Christmas shopping please stop by Sevenly.  Charity of the week is Invisible Girl Project.  Let's help give young girls of India a chance to know what it feels like to be and feel carefree.  As of this posting over $18,000 has been raised this week.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kindness is a Non-Negotiable

"Three things in human life are important:  
the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind."
-Henry James
creative-commons

I live by what I like to call my non-negotiables.  My brother was my biggest teacher with this concept.  My number one non-negotiable is kindness.  To me, kindness is the easiest and most simple push of the little black and white chip in the domino effect of living in harmony and peacefully with ourselves and others.

With kindness you will find:  Helpfulness and without disagreement; friendliness and without hurtful behavior; graciousness and without sarcasm; patience and without resistance; compassion and without indifference; mindfulness and without bitterness.

Kindness starts with how we treat ourselves and how we treat the people (or animals) we live with.  It begins with a smile.  It ends with the way we interact and react with each other, even when we don't feel like it or it's just plain hard.  We don't always get it right. But it's a mindful effort.

I teach my knuckleheads all the time that if they are not speaking and acting kindly to each other and then show kindness to their friends, teachers, or strangers then it's dishonest. Bottom line, it's fake.  It's not living an authentic life.

For kindness starts with the ones that are closest to us.  The ones we rely on daily.  The ones we live with.  The ones we seek comfort from. How can we treat our brother, sister, mother, spouse, father, roommate, or pet unkindly and then go out to the world and show kindness to the the checkout lady at the grocer?  Doesn't make sense to me.  It starts at home. That's where kindness begins.  Then, it will trickle down to every being we come in contact with. 
Where does kindness start with you?
"All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries."
-Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Monday, December 16, 2013

Totally Full of It -This is hitting home!


Could she be reading my mind?  Is she psychic?  Have my thoughts transcended in to someone else's brain?  Is that even possible?  I see it as a miracle when I come across an article or over-hear a conversation about something I am struggling with.  It's like the person is reading my stinkin' mind and saying just what I am having trouble putting in to my own words or down in writing.  Yes folks, it's no coincidence when this happens.  I think it's law of attraction.  I believe when we stumble upon these, "Did that person just read my mind?"convo's," it's the universes way of saying you are not alone...step across the line and join the club (I am sure my english teacher friends are going to rip me on my sentence structure today, oh well). I have attracted what I have been focusing my mind on. My struggle with blogging. 

I feel like I am either at a stop sign or crossroads with blogging.  I have no idea how I stumbled upon the blog Full of it.  But hallalur! I am glad I did.  I hope you take the time to read her article, Hanging up my Blogging Stocking.  She wrote exactly what I have been feeling, thinking, grieving, and struggling with self disappointment over.  She validated that it is ok to take a break from something worth doing.  Sometimes, blogging can get overwhelming with grinding out somewhat interesting, entertaining, or uplifting content.  At times, I have felt like I've been ho'ing myself out through social media just to gain traffic, bleh.  After reading her article,  I feel a bit more empowered and feeling it is ok to take a step back and reevaluate.  It doesn't mean that I am necessarily moving backwards.  Which is what I had convinced myself of.  Hiatus or no hiatus.  But not forever.  I hope you'll come back now, ya hear.
A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” 
― Ray Davis

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Tiny Mad Idea


Today remind yourself to appreciate every aspect of where you are today in mind, spirit, body, and circumstance.  Not where you were yesterday or where you think you want to be tomorrow.  For some reason this morning, I remembered a statement that was told to me when I was 19 years old by my much older and wiser friend of 23 (I know...perspective right).  I remember I was complaining or whining or both about some sort of self-image issue.  Which probably sounded something like, "I wish my thighs were skinnier, ugh!" The reality of course, they were already itty bitty to begin with.  We both were aerobic instructors at the time, late '80's, so go figure.  She said to appreciate everything about myself now, because one day I will look back and see myself for how I really was and wonder what was all the worry and self-doubt about.  Because it all existed in my mind.  And mind meaning my ego.

There's a great vlog about releasing the ego over at gabby.tv   She hit the nail on the head when she quoted a message from the book, A Course in Miracles,  which is to laugh at the ego's tiny mad idea.  Gabby say's to laugh, think, and talk your way out of the ego's mad idea to see the insanity in it.  This breaks the hold it has on you and causes you to detach from the ego's tiny mad idea.  Go check out her vlog to get a better understanding of what she is talking about.  And live in the moment along with me today.

"I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds.  Sometimes in smiles."
-Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life's Passage's

Friends change like rites of passage and it's important to keep people in your life who make you shine brighter and reflect who you are.  -Latham Thomas
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