Harry Potter

Have I told you lately how much I love Harry Potter?  I remember when the books first came out.  I lived in Columbus, Ohio and worked at a daycare center.  One of the mother’s had set up a booth selling Girl Scout Cookies in the entry way and was reading one of the books in between sales.  I remember thinking it was odd that an adult would be so swept away by a children’s book.

For two more years, everywhere I went it was Harry Potter this and Harry Potter that.  Yet I still refused to read the books.  Finally, I was given a gift certificate from my school for the book fair and I used it to buy the first 4 books.  That was in 2002, I believe.

When we moved to Texas, I was lonely and bored.  There was nothing else to do for the weeks I waited to move into my new classroom, so I picked up the books.  I was hooked immediately.  I wouldn’t and couldn’t put them down.  I read all four in a few weeks.

I didn’t complete the series until 2007, when I finally pushed through book 5 (which I must admit the first 300 pages dragged) and eagerly devoured 6 and 7.  That book series was just amazing, so rich and full of nuggets of wisdom.

I didn’t really get into the movies until the 5th one.  Ironically that one was my least favorite book, but favorite movie.  I have really enjoyed watching those kids grow up on the big screen.  It amazes me that each of the actors stuck with the project til the end.  The most recent movie is just as I expected-great.  When I first saw the movie poster for it (the one pictured above), I swear it brought tears to my eyes, and the movie didn’t disappoint.

Tonight we are having a movie night for our Uniteens at church and we will be watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. On Sunday, we will start a spiritual curriculum called Lumindorf that is based on the Harry Potter series.  My neighbor is letting me borrow her copy of the movie and joked with me about whether I was sure it was safe to show the movie in a church. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a religious person in my life years ago.

I know there are certain fundamental groups that took issue with Harry Potter because of the witches and wizards theme.  At that time, I asked this person, who is Southern Baptist, if she had a problem with it.  Her answer to me was that it wasn’t the magical themes that bothered her but the fact that the kids continuously broke the rules.  At the time that was very logical reasoning to me and to a point I even agreed.  Now all these years later, I think it’s the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine break all those rules that makes them so heroic.  Ultimately they were guided from within, every step of the way.  They were always presented with situations they needed to face head on.  They never disregarded the rules and always felt guilty and readily awaited their punishments.  But the rules they broke needed to be broken and somehow they knew in each of those moments there wasn’t another choice.

I am so happy to be a part of a spiritual community that is willing to find truth in many different sources and doesn’t depend on just one book for all their answers.  I am happy that I can use an imaginative and enjoyable piece of literature to teach these kids about positive living and the many ways Spirit can work in their lives.

Writing About On Writing

So I figured I mentioned Stephen King and his wonderful memoir/writing book enough that I should expound on it in a post.  So this post is about On Writing and what I gained by reading it.

First things first is that I had a click about what to write.  He talks about how often times people try to write what they think is good or popular but is not what they actually like.  For Stephen, he is a really good writer and he really likes the horror genre.  Critics often questioned why he used his talent to write some of the stuff he did and the answer was that he enjoyed it and it came easily.  You could argue that that is why it was so well-received by the public.  When I think back on the books I’ve loved over the years they include some magic and fantasy intertwined with reality.  The Harry Potter Series and The Time Traveler’s Wife were my absolute favorites.  That is the sort of thing I am writing now (well was writing till I came to that screeching halt..more on that in a bit) and is basically what my last book was.  So despite the fact that the stuff I write and like is not the stuff the members of my writing group are drawn to, it is most definitely the right thing for me.

The next piece of advice I got and found that it confirmed what my gut had been telling me all along was this:  “First write with the door closed, then write with it open.”  I’m not sure if the quote is exactly right but the gist is when you are working on a first draft show it to no one until it is finished.   If you show your work to people as you go you may get good feedback which will cause you to get ahead of yourself and start planning the future of the book instead of just writing it.  If you get bad feedback you may get discouraged and come to a screeching halt.  I knew exactly what he was talking about because I made this mistake.  I started writing my novel and chapter by chapter started sharing it with others, friends and my writing group.  I got some great feedback that got those wheels turning and stars clouding my vision.  I got some bad feedback that made me want to cry and tear the whole thing up.  The whole time my inner voice kept telling me to STOP sharing it.  I didn’t.  Ultimately I ran out of steam.  The balloon of excitement that contained the book deflated little by little until I found myself no longer writing it.

Which I guess brings me to the last bit of advice which is that quote I featured last Sunday.  “If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”  I don’t think I’m a great writer, in fact I still struggle with even calling myself a writer at all.  For me that phrase (I am a writer)  is more like an affirmation…something I say until it becomes true.   But I do know that I’ve always loved putting words together and sharing them with people.  I know that I feel a little more alive when I write something that moves someone in some way.  For many years (about 11 I think)  I didn’t write.  God had given me something I could do and I didn’t do it.  For three years though, I’ve been doing it.  I’d like to do it more.  The only reason I’m excited to see Callee go off to kindergarten next year is the promise of 3 or more good hours a day of uninterrupted writing time.  I think it will be my heaven or at least my salvation.

The book was filled with great advice and fascinating stories about Stephen’s life.  If definitely made me feel better about my own writing.  I don’t yet have the hours in my schedule that he suggests putting in (3-6 per day) but I will do what I can and hopefully embrace those hours when they arrive.    Thank you, Stephen King, for your wonderful book.

What’s Up Down There?

Most of you know that I write for a website called Owning Pink (technically I should have a button here, but I’m just not that computer savvy and couldn’t get it on the page).  I met Lissa Rankin M.D. in May of 09 about a week or so after she launched her website/blog on Twitter.  I was immediately hooked on Owning Pink and in awe of Lissa.  I must admit that in the past year and a  half she has been my biggest inspiration.  Every milestone I have watched her achieve has somehow felt like it also belonged to me.  I am so emotionally invested in her mission and success!!  All that being said, her book What’s Up Down There: Questions You Would Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She was Your Best Friend was released on September 28th and I pre-ordered 3 copies (one for me and two to give away).

The weekend my books arrived I was out of town.  My daughters informed me I had a package while we were catching a ride with a friend.  Knowing I’d ordered extras, I turned to my friend and asked it she wanted a book about vaginas.  She answered with a resounding NO!  I wanted to defend the book and insist my friend take a copy, but honestly in that moment I thought what if it is just a book about vaginas?  What if it’s boring or worse what if it’s full of embarrassing tidbits that would make my conservative friends squirm?

I’d been advertising the book and telling everyone on FB to pre-order it and I had promised myself that I would write a review once I read it.  Now that I had the book, my big fear was that I wouldn’t like it. If I didn’t like it I decided I’d stick to the old rule: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

After only a few pages I quickly discovered all my fears were unfounded.  This was Lissa at her finest.  I’d been reading her words for over a year and this book was just an extended version of the beautiful posts she writes on Owning Pink.  I could hardly believe that I found myself unable to put down a book that can be found in the women’s health section of the bookstore.  The book is almost 400 pages and I read it in about 3 days.

What’s Up Down There is full of valuable information.  It answers so many of the questions you had/have and are too embarrassed to ask and answers some that you may never think of.  Almost every answer given includes a story from Lissa’s personal experience as a woman or a doctor.  You really feel like you are having a conversation with Lissa.  There were several times where I had the urge to be like “Oh my gosh, let me tell you about this time that…” then I would remember Lissa wasn’t sitting in front of me telling me these stories, I was reading them.  (I resisted the urge to email her with my OMG stories because I’d be willing to bet those emails are flooding into her inbox these days.)

The book has a wonderful flow and is broken up easily so that you can pick it up and read a quick section while the angel hair pasta is cooking or you’re waiting for your kids to put their shoes on before going for a walk.  It has stories that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe a little bit.  It has information about every stage of life from puberty to beyond menopause.  The underlying and most valuable lesson in this book is that you are wonderful just as you are.  Lissa is all about love and this book invites women to love every inch of themselves including all those girly parts that we often curse.

If you are a woman and someone asks you if you would like a book about Vaginas, ask what the title of the book is.  If it’s What’s Up Down There by Lissa Rankin M.D., SAY YES!  Do not miss the opportunity to read this book, even if parts of it make you blush and think heavens me it’s worth it!!  And if you are a man, consider reading it so that you’ll understand a little about what the women or girls in your life are and will be going through (also you might learn a few tricks to use in the bedroom).

Ramblings

I have had no burst of inspiration today.  There’s no words of wisdom or deep questions I have for myself or you.  I’m writing this on Sunday, April 25.  The 25th of each month is no longer just another day.  The 25th will forever be the date that signifies one more month without Amy in my life.  Someone wrote the other day on Facebook that they think of her everyday.  I paused for a moment realizing that I don’t think of her as much anymore.  Everyday seems like a lot, but compared to every minute it is not.  For so many weeks, maybe even months, a minute could not pass without a memory or thought of Amy coming to mind.  But yes, like the friend on Facebook, I do still think of her everyday.  Yesterday I was on the couch reading and I stopped for a moment to think of her.  I looked up from my book and on PBS was a commercial for a documentary about frogs.  Today the girls brought me yet another mysterious toy frog that they found in their room.  She’s still sending me signs.  I hope she never stops.

I used a gift certificate and bought two books yesterday:  Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I started reading them both yesterday.  Apparently The Master Key System is a 24 week program.  You are supposed to read each chapter over a week period and apply what you are learning.  I’m excited about it, but hope that I can stick with it.  I’ve bought and read several books like this one and never treated them like a class, but instead just devoured them and placed them back on the bookshelf.  Intellectually I understand a lot of what (I think) is going to be presented in this book, but it is really time to take it to the next level.  The best way to get to that next level is to use the book as suggested.

The other book, Love Without Conditions, is just wonderful.  Seeing as I had my belief in Jesus shaken a bit a week or so ago, this book is just what I needed.  It is not a channeled book specifically, but the text comes through the author from Jesus.  Ferrini says in the introduction that we all have access to Jesus and can commune with him and get the same information from within our consciousness directly from him.  I believe that because I have experienced it!  I have realized through some of the comments I received on that post, some answers I received within, and from what I read in this book that I really don’t need absolute proof of Jesus’ human existence on this earth for me to know that he is a spiritual teacher for me.  His words and lessons will not change.

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great work/school week and for those of you who might be wondering…I did sign up to give a talk at church this summer.

Ask Yourself This (4)

I skipped a week of writing about my book group because last week’s topic didn’t bring forth anything I felt that I could really write about.  Over the past few days I started reading the book “Writing Down Your Soul” and can now answer  one of those questions  we discussed from “Ask Yourself This” differently.

The question was:

Who am I trying to change?

When I answered it with my group I admitted that yes there are people that I would like to see change.  I would love to be able to find more common ground and be better understood by some that are most important to me.  Currently though, I am not actively trying to change them.  In fact, I’d say I’m so focused on our differences that I am as emotionally far away from them as I have ever been.  And that, of course, is something I’d like to change about myself…but not the point of this post.

So, confident in the idea that I’m not trying to change anyone else, I sat down and began reading Janet Conner’s book.  After only reading the introduction I was thinking oh my, I should really buy this book for X and I must tell Y about it and surely it would change Z’s life completely. Instead of thinking about how much the book and suggested exercises would help me, I was making a list of other people that it could “save.”  Books have been my way of trying to change people.  I am SO excited about all that I have learned and the ways in which I’ve grown over the past few years that I want to share it with others.  I read something wonderful and send it on to friends.  I insist if they read it their life will change.  What I forget is that everyone is right where they are supposed to be.  If they need my assistance they will ask for it.  If they want to read something new, they can request a recommendation from me.

Change must come from the inside out.  I can be heart felt about my beliefs but I can not force someone else to embrace them.  I can discover freedom through meditation, journaling, and reading spiritual books but I can not demand that anyone else does any of those things.  Everyone has their own paths and destinies.  I can teach by my example and perhaps even plant seeds, but I can’t expect anything to happen.  The most important thing I can do is change the way I view the world and have an open and accepting heart.

There was a quote that was mentioned during our meeting and I’m not sure who said it and where it is printed, but it goes something like this:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of doing things differently.”

This is an actual quote I found and I still don’t think it was the one that we talked about in group but close:

“Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.” -Spencer Johnson

Tales From the Trips

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve gotten a glimpse of John Cave Osborne, either through his supportive comments or inspirational click story.  What I have learned about John through our exchange of blog comments, tweets, and emails is that he is an extremely kind and loving soul.  As I’ve watched him step onto this cyber-scene and build a community, I’ve also seen how magnetic his personality is.  John is one of those people you want to get to know.  Luckily for us, he has written a memoir that documents his journey,  so we can do just that.

Tales From the Trips: How Three Babies Turned Our World Upside-Down documents John’s life from the moment he got the message to call his wife, Caroline, after her first OBGYN appointment up to when the first of their triplets started walking.  He did an amazing job of putting me right there in his life with him.  I could feel the love he had for his family as well as I could hear the sarcasm in Caroline’s voice as she rebutted so many of John’s jokes.  I loved getting to know Tammy and Brenda, and was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would become of Stone Creek.  This was so much more than a parenting memoir.  It had humor, suspense, excitement, concern, and love.  But webbed every so gently through the pages of the book was the Osborne’s spirituality and faith.

I think most of us learn when we become parents that we have to let go of our ideas of perfection.  Kids are messy and chaotic.  Upon welcoming three new lives into this world and into their family, I think Caroline, John, and Alli learned this lesson to an incredible degree.  One of my favorite lines in the book followed the description of the triplets baptism.  Needless to say it didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope.  John says “As Caroline, Alli, and I exited the sanctuary with our babies in tow, I thanked God for perfect imperfection…..”

I wanted to take the time to tell you all how much I enjoyed reading this book and how grateful I am to have met John in this cyber-world.  If you like memoirs, daddy bloggers, funny guys who love sports, dogs, babies, or strong southern women I highly recommend reading this book.  You can buy it on John’s blog at a very good price!!

Ask Yourself This (2)

This week our group met to discuss Chapter 2 in the book “Ask Yourself This” by Wendy Craig-Purcell.  This chapter was a tough one because it required you to take a good look at who you are right now.  The first question was:

Who do I think I am? (Do I focus on my light or do I dwell upon my shadow?)

I realize the effectiveness of positive thinking.  I like to think that I have become a glass-half-full kind of person, but when I answered this question I saw something different.  Despite all the books I’ve read and the stuff I’ve written about the importance of accepting, embracing, and loving yourself fully, I still struggle.  When I answered the question “Who do I think I am?’ a list of negative traits came up and onto the page: forgetful, disorganized, flakey, not good at balancing relationships…  I didn’t let myself go further and tried to think of some positives: kind, generous, smart, creative… But even as I was writing those that shady voice was piping in you’re not generous, you didn’t even send your dad a birthday present… you’re not creative, you can’t even follow through on that idea you have…you forget things and you…

So there it was staring back at me.  I do in fact dwell upon my shadow.  When I was young I pegged every positive person as conceited.  If anyone complimented me, instead of saying thanks, I’d argue they were wrong.  That was somehow noble, I guess.  If I was average, I would be a threat to no one.  If no one was threatened by me, then there would be no reason for them not to like me.  For the most part it worked.  I think everyone either liked me or had a totally neutral opinion of me. I was quiet, friendly, and went along with the crowd.

I’ve taken a big step in the past year by starting this blog and putting myself out here in an honest way.  In this place I can say all the things I think and believe without having to see the reaction because most of the time people decide not to comment.  There are a number of people who I think read that I would never have the courage to state my ideas to in person.  I think there are people who have stopped reading my blog because they don’t want to know the truth about me.  I very often feel huge amounts of fear as I am about to publish a post.  I fear the rejection.  My thoughts are not average.  People who thought I was “one of them” are discovering that either I am not, or they have to redefine what “one of them” means.

So who am I right now:

I am a person on a journey, questioning everything.  I am kind and generous with bouts of forgetfulness.  I’m creative, but disorganized.  Common sense is my most valuable attribute.  I say yes to being the best mother and wife I can be, learning, spiritual growth, creating,and connecting with others.   I am looking for ways that I can contribute to the greater good and see where I fit into the puzzle.