Book Finds

Good Morning to you all from Paradise, aka a rustic cottage on a sweet little lake 3 miles from the Maine coast. I have been here for two idyllic weeks, reading, hiking, kayaking, swimming, rendezvousing with my family. Add a little lobster, some wine and some chocolate – not to mention one sunny day after another, and you see why I label it “Paradise.”
The first thing I pack when I’m on my way to such a destination is – take a guess, here – my books. As in far too many, glad I’m driving, not flying, so that I can enjoy the luxury of deciding on the spot which one calls the loudest to me!
This trip: two books that I’d like to comment on. First, one that should be on every woman’s shelf, at the ready: Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star. (You may know Beck from Real Simple magazine, or other of her amazing books . . .)
In North Star, Beck’s three major topics are Tuning in to Your Essential Self, (as opposed to the societally imprinted version) Reading Your Emotional Compass (sometimes we are so swallowed in circumstances we aren’t even aware of what the central motivating emotion is) and a comprehensive look at what happens in our lives following “catalytic events.” (These may be either shocks, opportunities, or transitions – whichever, they throw us into periods of change which follow a predictable course.) Knowing these elements of cyclic change can be very helpful.
The book includes exercises to help readers get beyond theory and into their own lives. It’s very powerful, comforting, helpful! My only “complaint” is that I found her exercise templates too small, confining . . . no matter: I designated a small notebook for the exercises, which worked for me.
I’d like to share two quotes from the book:
“You cannot control anyone else’s journey through life. Focus on your own. Compassion, honesty, self-scrutiny, and an open mind are the only ‘one way’ to interact sanely and successfully with others.”
“The closer you get to the life you were meant to live, the more work and play, ‘connection’ and friendship will blur together and eventually become one. That is the taste and texture of your hero’s saga. Enjoy.”
The second book I read is Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed. I remembered being so moved by Lamb’s This Much I Know is True. His latest book did not disappoint. I sobbed at the end, a mixture of sadness and “redemption,” I guess – that no matter how messy and painful life is, love is more powerful, no matter what. It’s not what you’d call light “beach reading,” but it gives one a lot to think about, and heightens a sense of compassion for those in pain – hopefully including a large dose of compassion for self!
A quote:  “Hi, Mo – it’s me again. I just wanted to let you know that that I do believe there’s life after love, and also that there is love, still, after a life is over.”

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