Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Off My Bookshelf: The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan

This week I finished, "The Last Days of Cafe Leila" by Donia Bijan.

I enjoyed this book immensely.
Noor is a wife, mother, daughter and sister, whose life has unraveled. She travels from California, back to her childhood home in Syria with her teenage daughter. From there she discovers her father is dying, and begins to see her purpose in life as something bigger and more selfless than she has ever realized. It is a story of how a family and its business became who they were and how societal violence ripped their world apart.

My favorite quotes:
"It seemed they had jumped the glass walls of the fish bowl to roam the room, while their mothers circled inside." 
"The floodgates opened then and they wailed openly and without restraint. It's not something they had planned, but that's how it is when you come to a clearing. How else to let go of all that was inside them?"
"Nothing between them now but a wound, not forgotten, not even forgiven, but accepted."
"Ferry came to lightly grasp her elbow propping her up, and she stood between her girls with a comforting arm around each, wondering how the story of her life would someday be etched into stone in the dash between two dates." 
"Maybe we don't really grow up until our parents die, she thought....Because if our parents didn't exalt us, we spend our adults lives blaming them - for not doing this and not doing that, not being "supportive," not making an appearance at our first recital, being overprotective or aloof, damaging our self-esteem. Yet at our best or worst, who sees everything? Who knows us best? Who waits and waits to see what we yet may be? Then one day they're gone and it's just you and there's nothing left to squeeze, no one to blame for the dismay over the course your life has taken. Once the tears have stopped, it's just the here and now and the desire to do better, to be closer to the person you want to be."
 "...I want to show you that our lives have meaning beyond the everyday things we dwell on. We play a part, however small, in the times in which we live - we are not here just for ourselves."

Thursday, November 23, 2017

5 Ways to Make Someone's Birthday Special

My birthday was this week and what started out as a normal Monday ended up to be a day of wonderful surprises. What I learned from this birthday is that it doesn't take much to make someone's birthday a little extra special.  All it takes is a little effort and a few minutes. Here's what I learned about how to make your family or friends feel loved on their birthday.

  1. Wake them with a birthday text
  2. Take them out to lunch.
  3. Buy them a thoughtful gift.
  4. Send them a birthday card by snail mail and include a piece of gum.
  5. Visit them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Off My Bookshelf: "Braving the Wilderness" by Brene Brown

I finished listening to Brene Brown’s newest book, “Braving the Wilderness,” while traveling this weekend. I think I need to read it about ten more times to really let it sink into my brain and heart.

It’s interesting that I have been thinking a lot about belonging lately, about how nice it is when I enter the local yarn shop, River Wools, and the owner looks up and says, “hey, Beth,” or when I go to Wise Pies and they know my usual order. There is something so good about feeling like you belong somewhere.

What I realize from reading Brown’s book is that because I️ feel that connection I am able to live in community with people who are very different than me in other areas. Because I have moved in, moved closer to people, I am known and they are known. Now their differences don’t make us enemies. They are my friends, and make me a better person.

I can brave the wilderness of not thinking exactly like others around me because now I can see them as a person. I know their children names, their dog's breed. I like the same books, movies, etc. We have the same hobbies. I don’t have to be exactly like a person to feel a sense of belonging and friendship. Its important, in our society, to move beyond those like us and get closer to those unlike us.

Brown writes:
“True belonging is a spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find a sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.”

“True belonging doesn’t require that you change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Off My Needles: 30 HATS!

I knit 30 hats in the past five weeks! My arms and shoulders were sore, but my heart was happy because I was doing what makes me the most happy. Knitting.

My friend had a table at a craft bazaar and invited me to use half of it. And I said, "YES". It was one of the scariest things I've done. I said yes to a dream. And then I got busy and knit, and knit, and knit.

The hats were soft and beautiful.I was so proud of them, but also scared that no one would like them. But I worried in vain because several people admired my work and commented on how beautiful they were. The crowd was small and mostly not the type of people who wore hats. So I only sold six.

Even though I didn't make enough money at the bazaar to cover the cost of all the yarn and pompoms, I had a blast fulfilling my dream. And I'm not one bit sorry that I have a bunch of hats to figure out what to do with or that I didn't make a boat-load of money. Why? Because I said yes to something big and scary. I said yes to a dream.

Here's what I learned. Saying yes is scary. But doing the work is life-giving. Success is found in the doing, not in the result. And now I am ready do say yes to the next dream, and it doesn't seem so frightening to me.