Living a thousand lives

Reading has long been my companion, my medicine, a therapist, the lover of my soul, a saviour of sorts. We became acquainted very early, and by 8 were inseparable. So much so that I always chose to stay home and read instead of going to the Saturday evening movies with my siblings. It was an addiction that brought me joy and wonder and allowed me to live a thousand lives. Most people only get one.

When I was experiencing the angst of preteen conflict with big problems like a flat chest,  Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret was my guide. Anne of Green Gables – the whole boxed set- went to Hawaii with me in my thirteenth year; what fun we had together traipsing over the fields of Prince Edward Island! Later, To Kill a Mockingbird inspired me to change the world; I joined the school newspaper. The Old Man and the Sea was the only book in the house I hadn’t read. It looks like a fish story, I thought, and didn’t think I’d be interested. But I was hungry and had nothing else to read. Turned out to be a story about life and one of my favourite books. I could go on; I’ve read at least a thousand and lived a thousand lives.

I found out I had cancer. I must get a book or three, I said. Well, actually, first I said, Will I lose my hair? Then… I must get a book or three. And I did. Now I was ready to fight.

Divorce led me to the bookstore. With an armload, I found a way to cope.

Someone I love is fighting anxiety, depression, loneliness, or one of the many other afflictions afflicting so many, there’s a book or three to help. I found them.

I started running. And read every book I could find on running. Born to Run is my fav.

Yoga changed my life and my limbs. I read 13 yoga books. I know because Drew gave them all to me for Christmas that year! The Course in Miracles is at the top of my list, but it requires patience…I’ve been working through it for two years already!

You get the picture. Books are my best friends. I love their smell. Their feel. Their curves. Their story. I’m going to share with you what I’m presently reading, and I’d love to hear about your favs. Disclaimer: I’m big on learning so hopefully you don’t tire easily! A lot of the books I read are about personal growth. I also love biographies and autobiographies; I’m inspired by the stories of those who have persevered and accomplished great things. Every now and then I read fiction and am thrilled when I find one that I love! Last week, I read three books, but I’m going to tell you about one that was life changing for me,

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.

First thing I’ll say is get a Hi-Liter and use it! You will not be able to remember all the life-changing moments … there were so many for me … without one.

It’s about vulnerability. Now that’s not a topic for the faint-hearted. Emotional exposure? Uncertainty? Risk?  I’m still sorting through this, but I’m pretty sure uncertainty isn’t my biggest issue. For the most part, I’m not worried about tomorrow. Often people ask what I’m going to do when I’m finished school and I’m confused, “Oh shit! I don’t know! I hadn’t thought about that!” I’m learning a lot and so enjoying the process that it’s enough-at least for now!

But emotional exposure. God. Help. Me. I would rather go to the dentist a hundred times before I admit that I’m scared, or weak, or lonely, or envious, or all those other imperfect emotions. So instead of admit that I’m discouraged or weary or lonely, it goes something like this. “WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DOES ANYTHING AROUND HERE?” f-bomb….. “I’VE HAD IT WITH THIS SHIT SHOW!!!” f-bomb, f-bomb…. “MAYBE YOU’LL ALL APPRECIATE ME WHEN I’M GONE!!!” f-bomb, f-bomb, f-bomb…. OR I just get quiet, and sad; my shoulders droop dejectedly, and I softly sigh every now and then…it’s such a hard life I have…My kids actually prefer the screaming maniac version; martyrdom apparently doesn’t suit me!

Lately, instead, thank you Brene, I’ve been saying weird stuff like,

“I’m sorry I let you down; I could have been a better friend.” 

“I’m scared of the marathon I’m about to run; I don’t like failing.”

“I’m jealous of all the beautiful people on Facebook. I have a menobelly and many wrinkles.”

And emotional truth is so soft on my skin, like a silk nightie. Comforting to my heart like flannel sheets in the winter. So liberating. And restful. Easy like Sunday morning.

Making me more willing to take risks. Now, I’ve always been a risk-taker…but these are different. The type of risks that involve people laughing at you, or talking behind your back.

“Who does she think she is?!” 

“No, I don’t want to be your friend.”

“You’re not pretty enough, skinny enough, young enough!”

Those kinds of risks. The risky ones.

Curiously, even in the face of rejection, there is personal fulfillment in vulnerability. You feel like you really gave it your all …. not just brawn and brains but your whole heart. Makes me think of my kids….I gave them my whole heart, and what a beautiful thing they became!

Read this book. And start living a thousand beautiful lives. Most people only get one.

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