The Kindness of Strangers

Be Kind - We are all fighting

One of my goals for this year is to be more flexible, specifically to relearn how to do splits. While I am not exactly the creaky old crone I could be, I am definitely not as flexible as I used to be. Aging? Already? This one I can work on.

Got tested about a different style of flexibility this weekend. Hand plans to spend the weekend with the man & his family for Superbowl, a birthday & a few other things. Due to scheduling some work in another city in between Charlotte (where our families are) & Wilmington (home), we weren’t able to drive in together. Which meant I got to come into town early & spend some time with the little dude (& of course the rest of the family). What we didn’t plan was his car cracking up & leaving him stuck in Wilmington.

After a trying week for both of us & not getting to see each other much, it was not ok. I wanted to scream. Bummed to say the least.

After the initial anger, we both agreed it was better to just relax and enjoy our weekends even if not as planned or even together. ENJOY. There is my word of the year again. So I’m trying. There are worse things that easily could have happen. Still sometimes life is just frustrating. Today as I watched my nephew have a breakdown because he didn’t want to take his nap, I thought about how maybe we as adults should embrace the meltdown tantrums. Just release the feelings & express ourselves. Then again should I be taking life advice from a 20 month old? Probably not. Have to admit hearing him yell my name in his little munchkin voice to come save him from his daddy trying to get him to sleep kind of melted me.

Although it’s not quite the one I wanted to spend the weekend with, at least I get to watch the big game tomorrow with one of my favorite guys. Still making memories & suddenly I have more time to read now. Maybe I will even get to knock out another book on my way to 50!

Recently I did finish a book that I have to say surprised me.

I’m a big fan of catching Amazon freebies & when I saw that one about someone traveling across America by hitchhiking I thought why not? So I added The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America to my stash & didn’t think much about it. After finishing Wild, I really wanted something travel related & discovered this find again on my Kindle. Thanks to a blog I read regularly, Crazy Running Girl, I also discovered there is a bloggers’ book club that has started up by Sarah Ohm where we get a topic each month to read our interpretation of & then blog about the books read. Right up my alley! January’s theme is Motivational Book, which Kindness of Strangers ended up being for me.

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

No I’m not going hitchhiking anytime soon, but this memoir by Mike McIntyre did inspire me to think about how kind people really can be. I’ve started looking at people walking near roads a tad differently too.

Mike finds himself in a place where he isn’t sure of his life. Frustrations with a relationship and career lead him to decide to toss aside his job, responsibilities and fears and walk from his home in California to a place on the east coast called Cape Fear. Which strangely enough is where I live! Truth be told the Cape Fear is a river and the Cape Fear he is heading towards is just the area considered as the river basin for that river. He doesn’t realize this but the whole time reading I was confused by his talking about going to Cape Fear, North Carolina. “No such place” I would mental argue each time I read it.

His rule is simple. He is going to get from California to North Carolina, coast to coast, without a single penny. No cash. No credit or debit cards. No checks. Nothing. Not carried on him & not accepted from anyone along the way. In this era (he did this trek in the mid-90s), this concept seems absolutely crazy. Completely letting go of control and trusting that he will find people to provide a place to stay, rides, food and the occasional necessities like a bathroom or shower once in a while.

Equipped with a sign and a backpack he starts off simply thumbing from town to town. Along the way he meets some very unique characters as you might imagine. Knowing this is a true story both gives me faith in people and scares me slightly. You really just don’t know who to trust and who not to sometimes.

“Sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers

I won’t give away much more, but I did find his travels very entertaining. His leap of faith is one I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to attempt, but my wanderlust is rev’d up. I’m more likely to trust the wilderness of nature like Cheryl Strayed in Wild than the people along the highways across the US!

“There was a time in this country when you were a jerk if you passed somebody in need. Now you’re a fool for helping. Gangs, drugs, murderers, rapists, thieves, carjackers. Why risk it? I Don’t Want to Get Involved has become a national motto.”
Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

Something to think about. Are you the kind stranger or the one who drives past?



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the 10 Day YOU Challenge: 4

This weekend was AMAZING! Seriously haven’t felt that happy in a LONG time.

Got to play around & get hugs from the cutest lil nephew in the world. Got to celebrate my sister being around another year. Then there was FANFEST!

Friday night was incredible. Has been far too long since I had been in the Panthers home stadium. Watching the rookies & veterans on that field confirmed that it isn’t that long til the real games start again which makes me a very excited girl. Hated hearing of injuries already happening but guess that is just one of those things that happens at training camp.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So excited!  The fireworks closing to the night wasn’t a bad way to end the evening either. Even with the ambien it was really hard to go to sleep I was so excited!

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and yes I went all out because WHY NOT? Already dreading the days where I need to look “professional” for work, or an upcoming internship, and I have to ditch the vividly colored hair. It really is just amazing what colors can do. I don’t think I would ever stop switching it up if I didn’t have to. Loving it. One last hurrah I guess. The salt water & additional showers I take from going to the beach wash it out quicker than normal so I may be able to squeeze in one more round before I have to kiss it goodbye for at least a while.

Tonight here is stormy & after getting back home from the Charlotte trip late, a night of reading in bed sounds heavenly. PJs on. Dinner done. Time to kick back with the kindle!

10-Day-You-Challenge

At any moment I am in the middle of a dozen books. A novel, some nonfiction ones, maybe something spiritualish & then one paper one at least for the beach trips since I don’t dare submit the kindle to the sand or saltwater. So when I saw 4 books I thought why not list a few I am currently reading.

4 BOOKS

4. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

3. Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman

2. Winds of Salem by Melissa de la Cruz

1. The Champagne Diet: Eat, Drink & Celebrate Your Way to a Healthy Mind & Body! by Cara Alwill Leyba (LOVED her first book,  Sparkle: The Girl’s Guide to Living a Deliciously Dazzling, Wildly Effervescent, Kick-Ass Life,  too!)

 

Beware the Books with Boys on the covers

I can no longer go to the book store that sits a block from my house.  Thanks to a frigging kids book on the discount rack.

Just enjoying a few kids books delighting in the pictures and stories & remembering days where I was tucked in & read to nightly.  I was lucky enough to come from two parents who encouraged reading & took the time regularly to read to us.  When we were old enough they were sure to ensure library visits or shopping trips had us stocked with tales to read on our own.  There were many days that I was kept out of trouble due to being glued to discovering what worlds lie within two covers.

From time to time I peruse the racks and check out the children’s section in addition to the more age appropriate ones.  Usually I get bored pretty quick and move on.  For some reason, maybe it is the season of the inner child, I found myself reading a couple during my visit today.

However, I was not ready for the book with the smiling kid tearing up the toilet paper on the cover.  Looked innocent and playful enough.

Why does this book sit there without any warning labels or indications of what lies between the covers?  Waiting to strike its pain to those when they least expect it.  Confused?

Wikipedia summarizes the story as…

As the story begins, a son has just been born. The story then continues through the life of the boy until he is a grown man. The mother continues to rock her son to sleep singing “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Later, the role is reversed and he holds his elderly mother and says “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my Mommy you’ll be.” At the very end of the story, the mother passes away and her son is the father of a little girl, rocking her to sleep; singing the same song that his mother used to sing to him.

While I knew with a title like Love You Forever it might be sentimental, I was NOT read for the tears falling & the crushed feeling I got.  Lets just say I didn’t get to the part where the son has his own daughter or the mother passes.  The image of the son holding his mom was all I could take.

There it was midst the goofy stories of animals exploring life and learning, various editions of familiar takes retold in countless ways and simple words for babies board books.  Like a black widow spider hanging out in the playland ball pit.  No foreboding or hint of the way it can swiftly change a happy day into sorrow.

Try to play it off like I had something in my eye, but that didn’t really fool anyone especially when I started the sniffling.  UG!  Yup… I am now able to say I have broken down in a public place.  Check that one off my life or bucket list.  Great.

Maybe it is the season or stress of everything going on or perhaps it is the evil words of the pages with pictures.  Book burning anyone?

Thankfully the reviews from places like Amazon make me feel a little less alone in my weepy experience.  Sounds like this is one that tugs at many heartstrings.

& some people dare say books are boring! Ha!

Honoring Patricia Monaghan

Some books seem to come into your life by divine intervention.  They are there with the words you need to read at just the right time.  Patricia Monaghan wrote several of those such books for me.

Sadly she passed on from this world this weekend on November 10th, 2012 after battling cancer.

For me she gave me a sense of connection at a time when I was blossoming in my realization that divinity was not strictly a male characteristic and celebrating the goddesses celebrates the divinity within.  Her books warmed my heart and provided guidance many times.  She had a gift of being able to seamlessly rope together stories & myths of cultures spanning the globe in unity.

 

She understood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and shared her experiences having it in the family.  She faced the monster of cancer when she lost her husband, Robert Shea, and her words inspired me to feel like the way I felt wasn’t so unusual after all.  In her writing, The Spirit of Chaos and the Chaos of Spirit, which originally was published in the  SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2005 issue of Quest magazine, she put it better than ever I had heard before: “Nothing is “just right” when someone you love is terminally ill.”  You learn to accept the chaos and try to roll with it knowing that it isn’t right & nothing will ever make it feel so.  His advice to her is something I discovered and strive to achieve “He once told me that the secret of happiness is to live like you have cancer, but not actually have cancer.”  If only it were easy to live life like we didn’t have the tomorrows to push off those things we want to do.

Her books also brought truths to light.  Through hard times, I could look to them for inspiration or at least some comfort and a feeling of kinship.  As she wrote in the forward for the Goddess Path, “This book is not the path; it is only a signpost on the road.”  So many times advice on troubles or choices can be found in books for me.  Her texts seem to always have answers I needed to hear as I walk my path.  I feel truly blessed for those signposts accompanying me.

Thankful that they live on even now as she has left.

If ever there is doubt that one life doesn’t effect

others, she is proof to me.  Even though I never met her she has blessed my life many times over and continues to do so.  Every one is connected and we all can impact others.  Who will our ripples into the world touch?

“This is out world, our life, our death.  And divine force resides in all of it, even in what seems monstrous to our eyes.”  ~Patricia Monaghan, from November 1oth in the Goddess Companion

Go On Guess

Guess what’s different….

Really.  Did you notice?

Nope. Not my hair or nails.  I didn’t change my purse (although I should soon). All out of guesses?

I’ve added a new widget to track the reading this year!

Look it’s over there to the Right! —->

well… you have to look down just a bit further on the side here, but its there.

I promise.

Turns out one of my favorite new finds in websites, Goodreads, is challenging readers to set a goal for the number of books the will read in 2012.  Since reading is always a goal for me, I went ahead & added my name to the list.

A couple of years ago I set the 3 books a month goal. Last year, I may as well have been illiterate.  So I went what I thought would be a good goal – one per month.  12 books for the year seemed like a good plan.

As I type this, I can proudly say I have completed THREE books since the start of the year.  Evidently being sick has an upside – time to read.

Finished the 3rd last night and already started number four today while working out.  Still slow & steady (and severely congested!) but I walked for 30 minutes while reading.  Again not looking to break world records, just trying to retrain myself that this is a non-negotiable part of each day.  Like reading.

Honestly maybe 12 books this year isn’t such a good goal.  Maybe I’m not reaching high enough.  So I’m upping the ante.  Doubling it actually!  Hoping that this is something that will be a challenge, but motivating at the same time.

Also thinking that with 17 days down, there are only 83 days away from my Kindle Fire.  April 9th can’t come soon enough.

So read anything good lately?

Hoping that I’m not the only one who is reading still.  Feel free to leave me some suggestions on what to read next.  I have a few titles in mind, but you never know where you might find the next best thing! So share…. leave me a comment on what you are reading or wish you were, or just finished.  Are you up for taking the challenge?  How many are you pledging to read in 2012?

Outside of a dog a book is man’s best.

Since adding the 10 on 10 aspect to this blog, I have really started to look forward to the 10th of each month.  Its a chance to just give without a reason or giving myself grief about “can I afford to do this?”, “is there a better way to spend this cash”… nope.  Budgeted & its not my money – its to be shared.  More than that its a chance to support in efforts I care about or are inspired by.

This month I am certainly inspired.

Having just finished a book within a couple of days, I am officially bitten by the reading bug.  Started book number 3 of 2012 – still another non-fiction one that is slowly being read, but another fiction work has sucked me in.  I know reading on the treadmill isn’t going to win any races, but it certainly made that 30 minutes fly faster than ever!

I am so grateful for being able to read.

Its a gift that my parents gave to me early in life.  Teachers who knew that by learning to read, you give keys to life.  So many lessons and secrets that would never be discovered otherwise are found within the pages bound in each cover.  Knowledge, guidance, confirmation and reminders.  Even a space to get away from life..  all discovered in books.  The library was a place where we were very familiar, even before the days where my Dad retired from teaching to work there.  New books were always coming into our house.  So many nights spent together reading “just one more story” before we were tucked in & lights out.

evidently my sister was really excited to hear about the Baskin Robbins adventures

Historically, (WAY back when) I know it was something taught to boys, not girls – since it was more for business and government which was not for the fairer sex.  Now I am lucky enough to live in an era where barely anything is off limits for me as a girl.  I can explore the world equally.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”  ~Sir Richard Steele

Part of me still struggles with reading electronically, but it works.  It is easy & I guess eco-friendly.  But there is a magic beauty to be found in turning a page to find written words there for you to see.

So this month, I want to share the gift.

I want to help others to read.

There is nothing that will ever give me a glimpse into what the world is like for someone who is illiterate, but I know from work that there are adults locally who simply do not have the skill.  It breaks my heart & I have to wonder what life they have had to endure to reach adulthood without anyone being there who was able to connect in a way that they learned.

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” ~Mortimer J. Adler

So my gift this month is to the Cape Fear Literacy Council.

This group works hard to enable local residents to learn to read.  They work with those who are just learning to read and people who are learning to understand English.  They offer a place for everyone to grow in their learning.

What better gift to give right now?

Even when reality seems hard to face, a vacation from the day can be found in a book.

So thank you Mom & Dad.  You have enabled me to go further than you can imagine by taking the time to share with me this love of reading.  I know it probably wasn’t a quick or easy task, but I truly am grateful.

Jumping on the 31 Day Wagon – Day One

31 days of daily reading
I have noticed several blogs starting 31 days of something or another.  Great way to build habits we want.
Lately I have been thinking how I used to read so much more than I do now.  Sure I read online –  blogs, news, google, wiki this or that.  But actual no power needed, flip the pages reading has slowed back down in this house.  No bueno.
So here goes.  Day One.  A MINIMUM of 15 minutes of nothing but me and a book.
What will you be doing for the next 31 days?