Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal

My mother-in-law bought me The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal for Christmas and I've been gradually working through it for the last couple of months. I finished it at the end of July, but haven't had time to post about it really until now. When I got this book, I made a commitment to myself that I was really going to DO the book, instead of just reading it, tossing it aside, and gobbling down the next one on my stack. So, I did. It took me about 4 months or so to work through it. It is actually laid out in a 12-month format. The subtitle is "How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate, and Re-Balance Your Life," which is just what I felt like I needed! As a funny little side note, when I first started reading the book, I had a lovely little leather bound fancy notebook to do the journaling/reflective exercises in. I discovered I was never doing them--it never felt like the right time. Then, I bought a Pirates of the Caribbean notebook at Wal-Mart featuring a large photo of Orlando Bloom on the cover and lo and behold, I started doing the journaling exercises in it and finished the book right up! I had to laugh at myself--Hark! I have found thee, my muse, and thy name is Orlando Bloom (especially in rakish, unbuttoned-pirate-shirt attire!)

The author of this book also has a blog that I enjoy reading.

Working through this book coupled with then working through another book I hope to post about soon (The Life Organizer), did actually help me to make some hard decisions about the various roles in my life. I have this long standing tendency to read really great self-help books, nodding along in agreement the whole time and thinking, "this book changed my life!", but then, as I noted earlier, immediately hopping along to the next book without necessarily integrating the wisdom, ideas, or approach of the prior "life changing" book. So...I decided in January after reading Practically Perfect in Every Way (a book I STILL have not yet managed to blog about even though I finished in in JANUARY, because I have a lot to say about it--I took pages and pages of notes for a blog post, but have never transcribed them...), to read less self-help books, but also to use more of what I read in them when I read them. I have lots of reflections on this subject, but they are languishing with good old Orlando at the moment, waiting for me to type them all up!

On a separate note, my best friend welcomed her family's sixth child into the family last weekend! It sounds like it was a beautiful unassisted birth and I'm so happy for their beautiful family! The weekend he was born, I was sorting through some folders of papers and came across a poem I'd copied from Mothering magazine that brought a tear to my eye. It is called "Take Pictures" and is a poignant look at how fast it all goes. Here is a link to it on the Mothering site, conveniently. The end gets me in my heart every time I read it,

"Holding tight to my neck, my son
trusts - he knows no other way - my touch lightly
dries his tears. I am his queen, his goddess, handily
his slave. Blink, it's a photo again, a trick of the eye,

a frozen captive of time, paper, light and silver: my son
is a grown man: he drinks from his own hand. Reader, I
urge you, spin slowly, take pictures, remember to laugh."(emphasis mine).

Anyway, reading this poem felt like a tribute of sorts to the birth of this fresh, new little guy. I think I'm going to post it somewhere where I can see it regularly.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


From the Zen calendar:

"It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away. Puzzling."

--Robert M. Pirsig

"Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm."

--Robert Louis Stevenson

This week I finished reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which was very funny. Memoir series of essays about the crazy family and sometimes horrible life of David Sedaris. Reads like a novel (a funny one).

I also read the super quick The Meaning of Life, which is like a little picture book.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Quick catch up

It has been super busy around here lately, but I wanted to go ahead and try for a quick catch-up.

A couple of weeks ago I finished a great book. It had intrigue, suspense, dirty double-crossers, backstabbing, plots, conspiracies, and more. Was it a new mystery novel? No! It was The Politics of Breastfeeding! Seriously, this was a phenomenal book. I bought it over two years ago and it took me a long time to get to it on my to-read shelf, because I was kind of thinking, "how interesting could this be?" It was great. I really recommend it. It will make you outraged and shocked though! This was my surprise hit of the year. Someday I might get around to sharing some great quotes from this book, but probably not because there are so many more books to read...

Speaking of my to-read shelf, you may be surprised--or throughly NOT surprised--to know that I have probably 80 books on my to-read shelf. I also have about 30 on my Amazon wishlist, 10 on my Bookins want list, and about 30 more on my library wish list (as in, books I want to read, but don't want to buy).

Quite some time ago, I also finished reading Creating a Charmed Life. This was one of those inspirational/motivational books that I read a little snippet of at a time after my morning yoga. In one of the sections--"Choose Actual Over Virtual Reality"-- it s aid,"There's a saying that goes, 'Some people make things happen. Others watch things happen. The rest wonder what happened.' The watchers are rapidly outnumbering both other groups, but real life is participatory. It balances consumption with production. And when you leave it there's less regret, because you know without any doubt that you were here."

I also read the book Living in Balance. Lots of good quotes, but kind of slow reading. The content was right up my alley, but the pace and style of the book was unengaging and actually kind of boring to get through. Quote of a quote I really liked:

"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible, to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."

--Dawna Markova

Today, I also finished reading my brand new copy of Prepared Childbirth: The Educator's Guide. I'd heard this was a "must have" for CBEs. I did find several things I could use right away and I'm incorporating them into the next series I have (starts next week). However, I didn't find that much that was new or fresh to me. It actually just reinforced that I've put together a pretty good and complete "curriculum" for my birth classes and maybe I need to stop trying to find even more and more curriculums to draw from--my own program is good how it is!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Playful Parenting

Last week I finished reading a really good book from the library called Playful Parenting. I don't have time right now to write much about it, but I really recommend it! A quote I liked from it: "That's why I recommend that parents not send their children to their rooms to cry alone, or leave them alone to cry themselves to sleep. It is more time-consuming to stay with them, to help them let out their feelings of loneliness and sadness, but those feelings don't go away just because we shut the door on them. In fact, I am starting to see eight-, nine-, and ten-year-olds in my practice whose parents followed the advice to 'let them cry it out' when the children were babies. These infants were seen as manipulating parents into cuddling with them or lying down with them to sleep. These children are now having trouble sleeping through the night because of fears, nightmares, and worries. In my less mature moments, I feel like saying, 'I told you so!'"

There was also a section about children feeling powerless (or isolated) and the author talked about attitudes in our society towards power: "Where is the true power? Why is it so rare? The answer starts with our society, which is ambivalent about power. We seek it and admire it, but we mistrust it...At the same time, empowerment is a buzzword in psychology, and all efforts are supposed to be made to empower children. We use the same word--power--to apply to vastly different things...I generally use the word confidence to refer to the positive side of power--the power to stand up for what is right, the power to be adventurous (within safe limits), the power to know your own inner strength, the power to achieve a goal, the power of happy play. On the other side is powerlessness, which often looks like passivity, inhibition, timidity, fearfulness, and whining..."

This section made me think about birth (of course) because "empowerment" is a commonly used word when talking about giving birth/preparing women to give birth. I liked his re-framing of "positive power" as "confidence" because that is truly what I think women need in order to give birth--they need confidence, a sense of personal power and inner strength. Also, I think the end result of meeting your own needs in some way is empowerment--in a variety of situations. For example, I recently sewed something for a gift for a friend of mine. I don't use the sewing machine much and after I cut out the garment, I thought about calling my mom and asking her to just sew it for me--that would have been easier. However, I didn't, and I sewed it all myself, plus then another one for myself ;-) As I did it and remembered how to thread the machine, refill the bobbin, etc. I thought, "this is empowering!"--sure I could have asked for help, but it feels really good to do it myself. I think birth is like that too--it feels good to do it yourself and doing it yourself, makes you feel good about yourself. That is not to say that asking for help when you need is not a strength in its own way--it is--but just that accomplishing something under your own power has motional/psychological rewards. It feels good. It is empowering.

Also from the library I had Voluntary Simplicity. This book has been on my to-read list since 2002!! LOL! I had it on hold at the Columbia library for about a year and it never came in because it was lost. So, I had it on my Amazon wishlist for ages and no one ever bought it for me. So...what do you know, I found it at the library in which I hold a newly-re-beloved library card. And, after all this time, I took it back half read. I simply did not enjoy it or connect with it well at all. What a letdown! I almost NEVER quit reading something in the middle. This was the first book I've done that with all year, I think.