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Archive for the category “Non-Fiction”

My Own Physical Exhaustion

Hello Dear Followers,

It’s pretty late right now, but after a few weeks of not writing or sharing a blog post with you, I thought I’d hop on for a moment.

I am in the middle of reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, and she is now deep in her hike in Pacific Crest Trail.  She’s now talking about the physical toll this hike is doing to her, and all I could think was, I could never do this much physical labor on my body, or take a hike.. exercise.. whatever.

But I realized as I went on reading that I had. Ok, so maybe not the same as Strayed had, but her account brought me back to 2005.  This was the year I left working retail to work at a spa and salon…( okay, so you’re probably wondering how on earth there is a similarity.)  Trust me there is.

I had gone through some terribly depressing times then, anxiety ridden,  angry, sad… you name it.  And working in my hometown’s mall, just wasn’t helping any.  I always saw someone I knew!  And all I wanted to do at the time was getting away from seeing people I didn’t necessarily want to see.

This is when (by the Grace of God) I got a job a salon and spa in a town away.  I didn’t work as a front desk girl either, I worked as a spa attendant.  I worked folding laundry, washing laundry, serving food, cleaning the spa and salon.  This was unlike anything I had ever done or ever dreamed of doing.

It was physically challenging, I was on my feet five days a week, constantly cleaning, washing, folding etc.  It was physically draining.  But what did it do for me?  It helped me work through my shit.  Work through the intensity of the pain I was feeling at the time.  I found a new part of me, and one that was coming back to life as time went on.

I was eating a lot again, ( I hadn’t eaten properly in months),  I was sleeping (because I was exhausted) and I was thinking of better things than before.  It was my life saver.

Now, you’re probably still wondering what the comparison is, well it’s the working of the body to calm the mind.  And I think by what I am reading of Strayed’s account, this is exactly what she is doing, she’s on a new path (no pun intended)  as was I during that period in my life.

When you are in this state, it is so important to find your outlet, whether it be a hike in the woods or some other meditative exercise. I did.

Until next time.

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Take a Hike… Why Don’t Ya?

HikersonknifesedgeHello Dear Followers,

I finished part one of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed  and I have a mixture of thoughts about all that has happened so far.  As I mentioned in my last post, the over-arching theme was “survival.”

I still believe that to be true about this woman, who suffered such a great loss that she decided she was going to work through this loss by taking a hike.. for 3 months!

As I had read on past the point that she had lost her Mom, I read about what lead her to want to hike the trail and I began to become judgmental,  I didn’t mean to.  I had to figure out what was making me judge this woman’s journey,  what made her leave everything she knew behind to hike a huge trail when she’s never hiked before.

At one point I found myself saying, “But is she nuts?” Take a trip to Europe, lay on an island for three months, but I had to stop myself and realize, this wasn’t my journey to take and it was clear she had to work through some pretty tough stuff and what better place than on a hiking trail.

In the midst of my judgement, I often found myself  saying, “Another aimless wanderer.” And I couldn’t grasp it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.

When “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert did her soul searching expedition, I thought “Wow, that’s brave, I want to do that.”  Leave everything behind and just go and figure stuff out, figure life out.  I felt this way for a number of years, she became my idol.  I can’t seem to relate to Strayed in the same way.   I don’t understand why she wouldn’t stay and help her family get through this difficult time?

I also don’t know her nor do I really understand her loss.   Again, her journey.

In my judgment I also find curiosity, how is she going to make it through? What will she learn from the experience?

Have any of you been on a soul searching journey that took you to exotic places like the Pacific Crest Trail or somewhere else in the world?  What did you learn from it?  Where did you go and why?

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below! I’d love to hear more stories like this.

Until later…

Image by PCTA.org 

One Word: Survival

Hello Dear Followers,

I have begun reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  So far, so good. It’s a memoir which tells the story about how Strayed embarked on a hiking trip through the Pacific Crest Trail which is a 1,100 trail which spans the states of California / Oregon / Washington, USA / British Columbia, Canada. She started this journey in 1995 in an effort for “self-discovery” after losing her mother.

I found the story to be very fascinating, brave and eye-opening, because here is this young woman embarking on a journey she has never embarked on before (this reminds me of another woman I have read... let’s see if you can guess who I am thinking about, they’re friends too!).

So the first chapter, the one word that kept circulating throughout my mind was – SURVIVAL.  This word is ingrained in this woman’s DNA. She has had to know how to survive since she was a young girl, through many trials her family faced.  Whether it was poverty, an abusive father, and later a sick mother. Survival didn’t begin when she decided to take this trip, that is definitely for sure.

Is survival always that hard like Cheryl’s? No. Survival can be simply dealing with our own inner demons that get claw their way into our minds on a daily basis, and waking up every morning is survival.  Our lives however, aren’t meant be survived, they are meant to be lived.

Anyway, I plan to continue on after I finish this post with “Wild” if you are joining along with me, or have read the book already, please feel free to chime in!

Until next time…

 

“And I Love That” – Kyle Cease

Hello Dear Followers,

KyleCeaseBook

Image by Amazon.com

I just finished the book “I Hope I Screw This Up” by Kyle Cease.  I was reading this for a Facebook book club I am part of.  I thought overall the book was pretty good,  however it didn’t move me like other “self-help” books have in the past. I am not sure why. I found it hard to take him seriously, maybe he made too many jokes or put too many pictures in his book.

One thing however stood out. He said whenever you have a fear-based thought add “And I love that” to the end of the sentence.  I just about started laughing hysterically. Because it changes the thought entirely.  It makes the thought easier to bear and puts a different spin on fear.

I also took part in some of his exercises where he asked readers to name their assets, the things they loved in life and that was heartwarming.

I think if you are looking for a light read that is both helpful and humorous, I do recommend this book.

Smart or Beautiful?

lovewarriorHello Dear Followers,

Over the years, my best friend and I have had several conversations ranging in various topics, in one of our conversations, I had asked what I thought was rather a simple question, “Why can’t people just be themselves?”

She answered immediately with, “Do you know how fuckin’ hard that is to do?”

I replied, “No, I don’t.” Because I didn’t.  I didn’t know because I was always myself.  Maybe it was pure ignorance, but I just didn’t know how to be anyone else.

She then said, “Well, I guess you have had a higher sense of self.”

I began to think at that point, whether there had been a time I wasn’t myself. But I couldn’t think of a one.

I recently began reading “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton.  A book that everyone (including the author) is calling “a book about marriage.” I suppose that is true, I just haven’t gotten to the marriage part yet.

I am in the beginning, where the author talks about who she was growing up or rather who she wasn’t.

She talks about how in her younger years she was always considered beautiful by those who came in contact with her.   As I was reading this, several things she said struck me and it’s this:

“When strangers admire me, I practice returning their attention. I understand that beauty is a form of kindness. It is for giving away and I try to be generous.”

She goes on to say that her parents tried to instill balance in her life by telling her she was smart as well.

“I’m an early reader, and at four, converse like an adult.” “But soon I realize that smart is more complicated than beautiful….”  “I begin to understand that beauty warms people and smart cools people.” 

Let me preface this by saying, I am smart. Always have been, somewhat absent minded, but smart just the same. I grew up loving to read, I enjoyed history and studying people and the world around me. Beautiful wasn’t a word I would exactly use to describe myself.

As I have gotten older, I embraced all of these “smart” aspects me and accepting that I wasn’t physically beautiful.  Sure, I have physical traits that I love, but I was never completely happy with it all.

People reading this might say things like, “Beauty only runs skin deep.” or “Think more of yourself, Daniela.”

I never wanted to play the dumb blonde to get noticed, I never knew how to flirt or if I did, I didn’t use it.  I loved that I loved to read, I loved that I knew I thought differently than most girls my age, but does this get the attention of the opposite sex?  No. You hardly get noticed.

Glennon goes on to talk about how she became someone else as she got older, having a “representative” of sorts, getting involved in things that could destroy anyone.

Anyway, I think this is an excellent and easy read, definitely worth diving into.  While this is one of six books I am reading right now, I will definitely get back to you with more thoughts as I continue on with this book.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

150 Pages of Big Magic

Hello Dear Followers,

Big MagicIn the short time I’ve followed author Elizabeth Gilbert, (particularly after “Eat,Pray,Love” came out),  I realized she isn’t just some author she is a good friend.  So it is no wonder when she wrote the following words that I thought of my dear friend who has been imparting the same exact wisdom that Liz is bestowing upon those reading her wonderful book “Big Magic.”

The passage that struck a chord with me is this:  “Let people have their opinions. More than that, let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your creative work.”  

The line that struck me is this (wait for it) – “And always remember that people’s judgements about you are none of your business.” 

Done.

For me personally, this doesn’t only speak volumes in terms of my “creative work” but also in my personal life.  I have struggled tremendously with this over the years, and as I have gotten older I realized that I can’t stop anyone’s opinions no more than anyone can stop mine.  So why bother getting all bothered by it?

When I read this entire passage, I said,  “what did my friend have a chat with Liz about this?” Because she has been telling me those exact words forever.  And I still don’t think I can wrap my head around it.

Of course Liz had some other wonderful passages to share with her readers, but I will not give it away because you definitely need to take the time to immerse yourself in her book, especially if you are like me who is trying to live a creative life though writing and reading regularly.

To add to the passage above, here is another line I love – “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to. Actually don’t even bother answering, just keep doing your thing.” 

Until next time folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newtown

newtownML1-198x300Hello Dear Followers,

It has been several months since I last wrote, ( I have to be honest, I lost my password to this site).  But several months ago I read the book, “Newtown: An American Tragedy”  by Matthew Lysiak.  A journalist like myself,  he spent several months following the attacks learning all he could about the tragedy.

I read this book in less than 24 hours, it was a great book, with the exception of a few mistakes the author made since he wasn’t from Connecticut or checked his facts regarding the area in which the tragedy took place.

I read it because I wanted to know more than what I already knew about this horrific event in our nation’s history.  I was one of many journalists living in Connecticut during the time of the shooting that reported on it.  I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

I was actually at home the day it happened,  just had my morning coffee, I was on Facebook when the news broke.  Of course, I immediately called my editor ready to do what was needed to cover this story. My editor had me stay back (I think to protect me from what I was going to see and hear about this tragedy)  my two co-workers were the first in our company to cover the story, while I stayed back and covered anything that was needed for social media.

At the time we didn’t realize how big of an event this actually was, news was coming out in pieces, the numbers of victims were growing and news crews from all over the country wanted a piece of this story.  This small town had now become the focus of everyone’s conversations and fears, laws were being created to prevent a horrific situation like this from happening again in another school.

Sometime during that morning when I had heard the principal had been shot and killed and news reports had released the name of the principal, I realized I knew her.  I had interviewed her numerous times when she had been in another school district before Sandy Hook Elementary.  I had heard her give several presentations during board of education meetings,  I wrote the story about her leaving the school district for Sandy Hook.

It was a shock to the system to know that this woman I had seen so many times had been brutally murdered by senseless sick individual.

Like I said earlier in the post,  I thought the author did a great job with the book, he paid close attention to detail. What I didn’t care for was hearing about the shooter’s life and his family’s life and who he was. I didn’t believe that much attention should have been given to someone who deserves no glorification whatsoever.

I almost felt like the reporter wanted us to hear the shooter’s side, like there was some justification for what he did or that we should as the public feel remorse for him and his family.  The shooter and his family deserved none of this.

I understand that when writing a story, any story for that matter, you must tell all sides in order to be accurate, but I felt too much time was spent doing this.  I found myself skipping chapters here and there. I didn’t want to hear about the mother or  her son.

I read the book because I wanted to see how accurate the story would be told, would the author/reporter leave anything out, would he be gracious to this small town that had everyone’s eyes on them for several months.  I do believe he tried his best to tell the story the way he knew how.

After the shooting that cold December morning,  we immediately (my fellow co-workers and I)  went to work. I wanted to do a story about the principal since I knew so many of her friends and former co-workers in the district I covered.

My co-workers covered other aspects of the story,  clarifying rumors that had circulated, trying to get in touch with family members of victims and so on.

While many believed that the media had intruded on this small town, some of us did our best to be respectful despite what the public wants to believe. While so many of us thought it was crazy to see people like Anderson Cooper standing in a town no one would ever know about if it wasn’t for this tragedy,  as Connecticut reporters we felt we needed to tell the story because Connecticut was our home.

Until next time… (sooner than this time I hope!)

 

 

 

I’m a Quiet one

Hello Dear Followers,

I am going to share a little secret with you – I am quiet.  I have been quiet my entire life, never really facing conflict head on, never speaking up, very introverted in how I lived my life. Only taking chances with situations when I felt I absolutely needed to or I would run the risk of losing sleep.

So you can probably see why I am a writer.  Why my greatest form of communication is through the art of writing.  It has always been the best way I communicated with the world.  I was always a thinker, sometimes  I have thought too much about things, never acting on anything always fearful what people might say to what I had to say.

I found a book  titled “Quiet” by Susan Cain a few months ago. It grabbed my attention because it spoke to my personality, who I have been my entire life and I wanted to learn more about my personality and why I do the things I do.

Why spending time in a bookstore and why I collect books in general, why driving through the countryside in my car by myself is bliss. I wanted to learn more about all of this.   Why I would prefer a night in a coffee shop or a dinner with friends much more than a loud and crowded club/bar.

I wanted to learn more about me.

When I told people on Facebook through my Facebook status that I was reading this book, a friend of mine called me a “Facebook extrovert” which is totally true, because as secluded as I’d prefer to be, I want to be heard and what better place can you be heard without physically being seen than Facebook?

I’ve often told people that I have always been awkward when it comes to speaking to people in social situations or with members of the opposite sex, my introverted self needs to feel you out,  I need to see if it’s safe to get to know you  before I allow myself to.

A friend of mine asked,  “Then how are you a journalist?” I told her I had absolutely no idea.  The idea of talking to someone one-on-one and trying to pull answers out of someone was definitely not something I enjoyed doing especially in a social setting.  But I did it for my job. It was somehow different.  I did it because I had to.

Image by citypaper.com

Image by citypaper.com

Another friend of mine said to me recently “when something is bothering you, you should speak up, who cares?” He was very right, but I was never good at verbalizing my thoughts, because my thoughts are so many that sometimes what makes sense to me may not always to another person.

I’ve taken a lot of risks as an introvert, I’ve  fought to fix things I have cared deeply about no matter how uncomfortable I am doing so.  This is where my strength comes through. I’d rather run and hide than deal with anything head on, but I have.

I have spent my entire life always thinking, thinking, thinking and wondering and coming up with conclusions (eventually) that I may not have, if I hadn’t.

My mother and others who should be now know how introverted I am, still tell me I need to “come out of my shell”  or “you need to speak up” etc. etc.

I feel more than I say, I see more than many people realize, as introverts often do.

So I right now I am reading “Quiet” and so far I would say I recommend it.

Until next time…

American Wife

Image courtesy of http://www.ew.com.

Hello Dear Followers,

For September, I’ve decided I will be reading “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. The book, some say is loosely based on former First Lady Laura Bush.  

According to Amazon.com, on what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

I have to say, I had a difficult time choosing a book for September.  I had no idea what I wanted to read this month or what I was even in the mood for.  I had toyed with the idea of taking two months to read “A. Lincoln: A Biography” by Ronald C. White Jr.

I found in searching for a new book that I have a lot of books based on real people’s lives.  I am so fascinated by people and what their lives were about, who they are or were.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this along with me, if you are.  I think its a good read.

Until next time…

Randy Pausch

Photo of Randy Pausch, courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Hello Dear Followers,

It took me way longer than I thought it would to finish “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, however I have finished it and can now give you my closing thoughts on the book.

I thought overall the book was very good, a lot of life lessons that we often take for granted. It seemed like the ongoing theme in the book was to have fun in life and dream.  We so often forget to do both, or give up on our dreams because too often reality sets in.

In my last post I asked followers if they were to vanish tomorrow, what would be their last words of wisdom to those they were leaving behind? Maybe vanish isn’t the correct word, I’d have to go with die. If you were to die tomorrow, what would be the last words of wisdom you would leave as your legacy?

( I hate thinking about dying) but I’d say just let go to things that are holding you back, don’t hold on to things that happened in your past and just live. I know its easier said than done, because we are so defined by our experiences and so impacted by the people in our lives.

I also recommend to not sweat the small stuff, because seriously life is too short.  Mr. Pausch was dying of cancer, do you think towards the end of his life he was worried about the small stuff? I doubt it. I think about those dying of cancer and how those of us that are healthy are so quick to worry about the little things in life we make them big things. What I have learned too is that it is not the end of the world, you just keep going forward. What you might think is the end of the world yesterday, may not even phase you tomorrow.

Also let go of the toxic people in your life that bring you down, you don’t need them, they do nothing to your personal growth.

All these “words of wisdom” may sound cliche or redundant, but its true.

Have fun even if you aren’t having fun, have fun. Be happy.  Okay. I think I have given you all enough of my words of wisdom for one day.

But I thank Mr. Pausch for his inspiration book and I now think of his family as they continue to go on with their lives.  I dedicate this blog to Mr. Pausch.

Until next time…

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