Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Nov 2, 2011

Waiting for Joy

It's been an exhausting few weeks, mentally more than anything.
I can't wait for everything to be over and to have my X out of my face. It will be soon,  looking forward to the joy of living.  The children are impatient too but I think they are handling it better than I am. In fact they play the 'game' quite well.  They seem almost stoic about  their father's behaviour, which is escalating in terms of the show of power and aggression. They do not want me confronting him. I have to wait it out.
He thinks he's winning, well he can have his illusion.


My latest diversion is reading Eric Fromm, it's seriously tough text to follow but here and there there is light on particular subjects of interest. Here's something I want to remember particularly from his discussion....I keep trying to imagine how and what it would be/feel like in this ultimate situation of true Joy.

Eric Fromm writes about the difference between joy and pleasure and that what God wants for us is Joy as a virtue of living in the mode of being. Pleasure is transient, momentary and a product of possessions and the need to have.

Master Eckhart's thinking interprets it such.."When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten..
...when the Father laughs to the son and the son laughs back to the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love and love gives the persons [of the Trinity] of which the Holy Spirit is one. .................
Joy, then, is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming oneself"

Dec 9, 2010

We are not Perfect

Why do I feel the need to defend my imperfections ?
We cannot be perfect in whatever we have chosen to do. But we can work hard at it and perform the best we can be. So why worry over what you are not doing right.  Instead, worry how you could do better.

In reading C S Lewis' Screwtape letters, I come to understand a little more about the purpose of our creator.
To fulfill our purpose on earth, we need to make ourselves worthy.
To make ourselves worthy, we need to forget our self.
By forgetting our self, we strive for others and improving their lot.

Truth and honesty is at the basis for all things we do. To others, to ourselves, to God.
What is our motive? Is it self-serving or God-serving? Sometimes the answer may not be so simple or to our liking but it comes down to that fact that we are not perfect and of course, God knows this.

We have weaknesses and our self-consciousness and selfishness keep us from freeing our thoughts totally when speaking to God.
Our temptation is drawn from our inner most wants and 
in Screwtape's(devil) words of instruction to his demon nephew-in-training....
"The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment."

I am not perfect. Accept it. 

Dec 4, 2010

Spring cleaning & reading habits

My last assignment was finally handed in and that weight is off my shoulders. It's time to prepare for Christmas.
It has been a year since I got the 5 ft tree. Last year I put it up alone, this year, the kids will do it.

The rainy season has kicked in too. Christmas is always wet for us, not white.

The personal stuff still weighs heavy on my mind but I am practicing at managing it.  Proceedings are not over yet, a couple of hurdles yet to go over what is called the 'ancillaries.'  But I am less worried over that.

Today saw the slow beginning of spring cleaning. The first are the children's bookshelves. There are so many good books and yet the boys who need to get in the most reading have the toughest time about it. They are not into my definition of 'good' books, they are into beast master,  monster,...  ghost and creature, ..power or action figure fiction.
I end up buying books they will read so that they do read.

Why is it so much harder for boys to read books than girls?

I was thinking maybe I should pay them to read the good books !

I had to make space painfully and so many of these books will have to go to the thrift shop because I know they will never get read at all here. So sad.

The new year will hold many new experiences for us, and keeping those in mind, I am looking forward to it.
Like the rain that washes the air clean, so too the new year will bring us a cleansing of the negative.

Oct 11, 2010

Mine only

No one can be there exactly 
where  I am or have been, 
it is uniquely mine. 
The feeling of fear and fearlessness 
at once beating at each other
in a realm of emotion
winding its way to free us,
the mess of impression and expression 
is wholly mine.

(HA 2010)

"The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.

Today I am blessed. "    

- Maya Angelou's  Letter to My Daughter

Apr 21, 2010

Hope for Life .. from Victor Frankl

Words to ponder....
Viktor E Frankl - 'Man's Search for Meaning , The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust'

The meaning of life ....' it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us'...

'Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.'

'Every situation is distinquished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.'

The answer lies in right action, and right conduct. Man must have a 'why' and that will determine his 'how.

This true story is a truly inspiring read and offers much hope for man. 

Mar 4, 2010

Remove Obstacles

I have slowed down the frequency of posting lately, only because I am falling behind and find myself racing to catch up with the train. It's been hectic but I am trying to stay centered and 'sane' inspite of everything.
I mentioned before that I have also taken up a course and so I have a couple of assignments to complete on top of the daily normal, usual and the extraordinary stuff that goes on called life.

My first thought today was -   is it  'life is for living' or 'living is for life' ?

Besides that,  I thought to share something interesting I read today from a book by Irvin D Yalom....
We all have the natural human instinct to live life, to grow and develop, to be well, to be happy. 
Therefore we don't need to work so hard at these, we merely need to recognise and remove the obstacles that block our paths and we will easily be on our way to achieving them.

Feb 11, 2010

Some Miracles Take Time

This is the title of a book by Art E Berg and his wife, it tells a story of miracles in love, tragedy and triumph. The main point throughout is that miracles do not happen instantaneously but  take time to grow. 'Patience and faith can compel things to happen that otherwise never would have come to pass'. 

Most often it is our driving need for things to happen with instant results and skepticism that blinds us to them and prevents their(miracles) growth.
It is true there are more miracles today than in any age, we just need to open ourselves up to see them in the most unexpected places and persons.

Interestingly, this past week some of you related such stories.
Every child's growth is unique, every discovery they make is a miracle, if you read these posts you get that, Sandra's post  How are you Unique.  I read Farila's story as one of an open relationship with God that only a child is capable of having - unassuming, unafraid, honest.
You can be a miracle for an elderly person, Marty's post relates a chance meeting,  being more present in the present leads to an experience
Farila's miracle story in Miracles do happen, there are many miracles here that came with faith.

Life is filled with the good and the bad, and it is affirmed over and over that you can't have one without the other. But even through the bad, there are graces to be had. And out of them we will find a path that will lead us to our prize.

A lovely poem by an unknown author
Not 'til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unfold the pattern,
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads were as needful
In the skillful weaver's hand,
As the threads of Gold and Silver
In the pattern that he planned.

Feb 8, 2010

Reading 'Emma'

I've been reading Emma and taking a long time too. Jane Austen certainly knows her characters. While Emma is sensible and very conscious of others' thoughts and feelings, she seems to have totally overlooked her own self awareness, her own feelings.  And thank goodness she did not give away her desired partner out of her own goodness before she came to the realization.
But Emma is not perfect either, she tends to get caught up in her own web and strays from objectivity until it is too late.

Women today have not changed overly much in our innate characters, have we?

Feb 4, 2010

Happy endings & Roses

Below is one of my favourite poems by George Eliot, her dream in the 19th century still works for me today.
If I went by writer's names, I would have totally bypassed this piece all together because the first book I read by George Eliot during my school days was 'The Mill on The Floss'.  It was such a sad story (depressing too, the story of a young girl) it left quite an impression, I never picked up another book by her.  
I don't like sad endings I confess - be it book or movie..probably life too.   I try to avoid them (can't do that in life though !). Strangely, now that I think back on it,  I did quite a few of those tragedies in school like King Lear, Coriolanus, Wuthering Heights, Things Fall Apart (except for Midsummer Night's Dream) few more...were they trying to depress us (late teens) out of Literature !!  ......that's enough of that.. let's move on to peaceful images..
You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!
(Roses by G Eliot)

Jan 26, 2010

Random thoughts from stories of old England

I have a thing for old English novels, stories, movies revolving around old England especially late 18th and early 19th Century.  There's something fresh and innocent in the way that young ladies and children are characterized, portrayed in the old English countryside and the way conversations are created.  And romance ah, well, they don't make them like they use too. (lol).
I could not appreciate the novels until my late 20s, when the unfolding of the story becomes less compelling than the imagery, beautiful descriptions, the formal and the flowery language.

And sometimes wisdom comes through in the most unexpected moments.
In this book I am currently reading by Isak Dinesan (Karen Blixen) 'The Angelic Avengers' one of the young ladies(Zosine) says this to her friend(Lucan) who claims she has no imagination and therefore would not experience adventure.
"But perhaps that is just the way of the world .. and destiny will lose her interest in those people who are themselves capable of inventing things. She will leave them to have things happen to them within their own imagination. But with you she will take trouble to contrive the most extraordinary events."

It sounds like - take charge of your life or she(Destiny) will do it for you.
Now that is an interesting thought, a scary thought .. what is destiny's definition of 'extraordinary events' I wonder.

Here's another interesting prose about being Loved  .." The beauty of nature, music, poetry and art are all inextricably bound up with the idea of love. The woman who has denied love, she had then dimly guessed, will no longer dare to learn a poem by heart, to listen to a song, to pick the wild flowers of the woods, or the roses of her garden. Now, in pain and ecstasy, she knew for certain that the magic kingdom of beauty, sweetness and poetry in this world is open to the lovers as to its lawful heirs.".....  
If that is true, at least we do come out of it with more.

Oct 31, 2009

Emptiness for Fulfillment

I've been readng 'Encounters with Merton' by Henri J M Nouwen and I wanted to share a part that interests me and that is on 'emptying oneself' which was also discussed in M S Peck's book. Thomas Merton was into such deep contemplation of the meaning of life, the search for God, his self and so much more; his thoughts and journey is so complex I am not able to spell it out clearly.
Merton reflects that emptying our selves will  help us do away with fear.  This is done by detachment, to claim nothing and possess nothing not even his life. We will then be able to "stand without fear in a violent world"  Nouwen adds that "detachment does not mean shirking one's responsibilities. Rather it is a supremely active deed that makes it possible to move unprejudiced and unafraid into the center of the evil".
Merton wrote "If I remembered that I have nothing called my own that will not be lost anyway, that only what is not mine but God's will ever live, then I would not fear so many false fears."

Merton reflected that learning the secret of our nothingness will lead us to find our true selves, because what will be left, is us 'made in His image and likeness'.
Paradoxically it appears, emptying our true selves will give us our fill of answers to many questions and we will then know the way to go.

I have come some way(a tiny fraction) of letting go and giving it up to Him and that has truly made me feel less afraid of the unknown.  So I can only imagine what it must feel like (thousand times more liberating ?) IF I COULD go the whole way.

Oct 15, 2009

Living and Dying Well - M Scott Peck

Part 2-3 of Denial of the Soul

Dr Peck's theological and religious leaning comes through quite strongly in his advise on how we should approach death. It is as if he too was searching for a way to the ultimate stage of acceptance.
The second half of the book draws a parallel between living and dying and Dr Peck discusses what it means to do both well and in communion with God or one's deepest self (soul) for secularists. There are stages that we go through in any situation of trouble or crisis and it applies to dying too.  (Kubler-Ross stages of learning)

Dr Peck puts forth that human beings are meant to continue learning and developing, most often we stop learning because we do not get pass the denial stage. The soul he believes, is not created to stagnate 'why would God not only create us but continue to nurture us unless we were developable. Unless God desired our development, our learning?' This he feels is the meaning of life.

Dying gives us the opportunity for learning and soul development. By opting for Euthanasia however we are denying the meaning of human existence and attempting to 'escape the reason for our being', 'it shortchanges ourselves.'  In his experience with dying individuals, the final stage of Acceptance appears to lead one to an ethereal awareness of self,  they seem to emanate 'light that embraces their company', no sadness is experienced.
When we are depressed, the healing of depression requires that there be (existential)l suffering. When we seek out answers to our troubled feelings, we come out on the other side with learning and wisdom on a higher plane. Interestingly he says sometimes the solution could mean there is no solution, we accept that and move on.  Dr Peck describes that to arrive at enlightenment we need to recognise our shortcomings and give up 'things of the ego' - arrogance, excessive competitiveness, need for self-esteem, righteousness etc. We need to identify it and realise we 'can give it up' and do it.  It is about making a choice to continue learning, to develop the inner being and thus we should continue to live until we cannot.

Death of the ego or letting go can be painful. Dr Peck likens these episodes of working at depression to 'little deaths'. One of these characteristics is the 'need to be in control'. Certain forms of Euthanasia or assisted suicides is motivated by this need to control our exit from life.  But Dr Peck maintains that it is not up to us to decide when. In such cases that need (ego), means forgoing cooperation with the Creator and forgoing the ultimate enlightenment of 'emptying ourselves'.  The relief of suffering at the expense of hastening death is acceptable as opposed to shortening life to avoid facing death. Extreme pain and suffering without viable relief is the influencing factor and timing is not of our choosing.
In the final part of the book part 3, Dr Peck discusses different ways to handle terminal illness, their aftercare and suggests methods and counseling for individual medical contexts and also proposes pastoral advisors for meeting the needs of the soul.

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
I believe there is a close parallel in religious writings that many of us can identify with - 'to die in order to live'.

I am finished with the book but not really done with it (if you know what I mean).

Sep 21, 2009

Self-conflict & Mortality

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
I am currently reading M Scott Peck's book 'Denial of the Soul'. Have almost completed Part 1 and impatient to get to Part 2 which is on the spiritual aspects of the subject. The book addresses Euthanasia and Mortality, through medical and spiritual perspectives of individuals.
Apart from discovering more on the mind, the other reason why I picked this book up, is to discover if it is wrong or right to say that I don't want to live that long a life just upto 68 and not 90.. would suffice. I don't think the book will deliver an answer, only God can, but it will give me food for thought. Yes I know it sounds like a strange thing to think about but haven't you ever wondered about it. This topic actually comes up in discussion with my insurance agent who constantly advises me to save more for my future.

Part 1 attempts to uncover definitions, reasons and causes on why we are conflicted, is it right to give up, when we should(alternatively to pull the plug).. from medical and psychiatric points of view.
For most of us, we are able to deal with conflicts and overcome them. Depression is a bi-product if we are not able to solve conflicts. So depression is normal I 'm happy to discover. And depression (Peck describes it like we are in a cage trapped) is apparently useful to us as it helps us grow.
It is interesting to know that conflicts which are inherent in the human condition, are considered psychological pain. These are the simple everyday issues, M S Peck describes these ranging from husband/ wife difficulties, not enough money, job stress, are children  a drag to competitive existence. As long as the world order is not in sync with us (does not conform according to our thinking), we are in conflict. ....  (To continue click on Read more below)

Aug 8, 2009

To Be (Insane) or Not to Be (Sane)

A while back, I decided I would read one of Paulo Coelho's books. Call me prejudiced, but I have a preference for reading books by women rather than men. It's more about the style and thought processes. There is a certain directness in men's writing which is fine depending on the type of novel. For some stories I like to linger and for some I can't wait to know how it ends.

I also must tell you, I hate sad endings but for some strange reason I picked 'Veronika Decides To Die'. The story takes place in Slovenia, did you know it used to be Yugoslavia?

I found it extremely thought-provoking, not sad. It's a very good read, unique in the telling and how it unfolds. It's a little contrary, but there is much about human nature I can identify with.
For those of you who, like me, prefer happy endings, you'll be glad to hear she didn't die in the end.

It's about Veronika, a young girl who wanted to die, she attempted it but failed. She then finds herself in a mental asylum, and again waits to die because that's how she has been diagnosed.
What's intriguing is her journey of discovery; discoveries about herself, her inner experience in the asylum, with other inmates, about the subject of sanity and insanity. While in the asylum she sets herself free and lets go of her inhibitions because as she says " I'm crazy, I'm allowed to do this. I can hate, I can pound away at the piano. Since when have mental patients known how to play notes in the right order?'

Many instances in the story allude to the fact that we would like to behave in some manner that would be considered insane but because of society's expectations we are not free to do so. For Veronika 'she expended most of her energy in trying to behave in accordance with the image she had created for herself'.'

Among the characters, a number of inmates were not-truly-insane, but they were there because 'they looked for the easiest way out; a separate reality'; and remained there for different reasons of security, normalcy and freedom . They are rational enough to say to the nurses " This is a mental hospital. No one is obliged to behave the way you do'. Because of Veronika, the not-truly-insane start to re look at their lives and now think that it is time leave the asylum. One of them, who is released feels she will be better off now in the outside world because she has the license to speak freely, since people know she was in the asylum previously.

As for Veronika, having made discoveries and experiences for herself, she purged her baggage. But, because she believed she only had a few days, Veronika now wished to live.

I have been thinking about it, to pick another of Paulo's books, I hope it will be just as appealing.

Jul 29, 2009 this...

"If I had to summarize their* message ..- it is that we are all stuck together in the moment of history, and the most appropriate response to each other is compassion and a sharing of laughter. After all we don't really have a clue as to what is going on here, if anything, and most likely we aren't really in charge of very much of it anyway, and in the end the joke seems to be on all of us. Knowing that, we can relax a little and dispense with any blame. So far, as human beings, our greatest gifts, aside from the ability to make good painkillers, are our feelings of love and sense of humor."

in short... live life, don't dwell too much on it about it !

Quote from Wes 'Scoop' Nisker (2001)- 'The Essential Crazy Wisdom' .. it's a real crazy read.. as books go..

*['their' refer to the sages, scientists, fools, early philosophers, genius., wise men, presidents...]

Jul 26, 2009

The Choice to Make

Bringing up kids to be confident is hard work. I talked about my middle child earlier. Inspite of his constant pessimism and attempts to push me away, I keep telling him I love him anyway because I just do. He comes around eventually when it sinks in but also forgets soon enough. .. I just have to keep knocking at his door.

This brings to mind the line - ‘We do not have to love. We choose to love’. .. .this is a good place to share where it came from.
I spent the morning hunting for the book, there were many good examples in there, I recall about relationships and how to love. In dealing with kids, we need to consciously think and act positively to the child’s advantage in any given situation (especially in the bad) and build on the circumstance for their growth rather than react. Evaluate, look for the positive.. let the child learn...

Stephen R Covey’s book (7 Habits of Highly Effective Families) puts it very simply that the difference between us and the animals is that, we are capable of placing a ‘pause’ between stimulus and response. We are capable of pro-active behaviour because we have 4 gifts to use during the ‘pause’ to help our response to another human being; these being self-awareness, conscience, imagination, and independent will.

The quote is by the writer M Scott Peck who said
“The desire to love is not itself love….Love is an act of will …. Namely an intention and action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made.”

Keep at it!

Jul 25, 2009

Interesting Books

I love books. From fiction to romance to inspirational (even marketing).
The inspirational authors I've read over the years and sometime re-read include
Victoria Moran's - Creating a Charmed Life
Henri Nouwen..- numerous books both inspirational and spiritual uplifting...
Robet J Wicks - Living a Gentle Passionate Life
Wanda Nash - At Ease with Stress
A J Russel - God Calling - a special book that was recommended to me by a close friend. Sometimes you just need an answer now and that's when this book comes in handy.

Looking at the various books that I have, tells me that I have been searching for a while (and still searching)for answers and encouragement for myself and my kids.

Words move and show us how lives can change for the better, paint hope and encourage us to move on with our lives whether it's with or without change. It colours our thoughts in future planning and expectations, all with the desire to improve living.

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