Books that Define Me, Part 1

Published August 1, 2012 by silvergirl3

This idea of writing about books that define me and that one would need to read in order to understand me comes courtesy of the fabulous Joslyn Hamilton and her Creative Truth or Dare project.  When she posted this creative dare on the project’s facebook page, I decided to join in.  But I thought it would also be fun to go a little further and write about why these books mean so much to me.  And because I’m such a voracious reader, I may add a few more to the list.

1. The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman

This picture book dates back to my earliest days as a reader and probably even before I learned to read.  I’m pretty sure it’s one of those books that I had read to me so often that I memorized it.  Looking back now on my love for it then, I think it was the whole concept of home that really resonated with me even as a child, especially as a child.  I was an extremely anxious youngster but home was always safe in my mind. I connected to the story line of Mr. and Mrs. Bird looking for a new house and then realizing that their old cozy house was the best home after all.

2. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I discovered the lovely world of Lucy Maud Montgomery as a pre-teen and I gobbled up all of her books that I could get my hands on.  In Anne, I found my own “kindred spirit”: a dreamy, introverted, somewhat awkward child.  I loved the poetry with which she spoke and I still have memories of sitting down with my diary and imitating her flowery language when describing my own world.

3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I read this juvenile novel as an adult and I just fell in love.  It embodies so much that I believe in: authenticity, being free-spirited, kindness, compassion and so much more.  We could all learn so much from Stargirl.

4. Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig

This book is a memoir about the author’s struggles with ocd, specifically her scrupulosity.  I connected with this book so much because of my own obsessive struggles.  Unlike some memoirs about ocd, Traig’s struggles were different enough from my own that while I could relate, they didn’t trigger my particular brand of anxiety.  I went through a phase where I was reading every ocd memoir out there and even branching out to memoirs about those with other mental illnesses.  Devil in the Details was my favourite, though.

5. Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross

A beautifully written story, Pope Joan appealed to my love of historical fiction as well as both my Catholic upbringing and feminist beliefs.  Joan was a tremendously strong woman who followed her calling despite society’s and the institutional Catholic Church’s belief  that her gender made her unfit to be a priestly servant of God.  When I first read this book, I was in the midst of my fight to change the Catholic Church for the better and although my beliefs about religion have evolved and I no longer see merit in fighting within the Church walls, I will always support the strong women (and men) who do.

6. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I started learning about feminist spirituality and women’s spirituality in my undergrad and Diamant’s novel, The Red Tent was a superb addition to my repertoire on the subject.  To honour women’s experiences and women’s stories outside of man-made religious tradition was a new and exciting thing for me at that time.  I don’t remember a lot of details about the Red Tent these days, but whenever I think of it, I recall feeling a sense of wholeness and a reminder of how amazing it is to be female.

Imaginary Dialogue

Published June 9, 2012 by silvergirl3

I’ve joined this amazing new journalling website and when you first join, you get some prompts for journalling.  The most recent one was to create imaginary conversations with people you’d really like to have a conversation with.  So, the other day, I had one of those encounters where you really want to say something witty and biting but you’re not sure you want to deal with the fall out so instead of having unsavoury consequences, I chose to journal the conversation I’d like to have.  Here is the journal entry I posted:

Ooh, I’ve been waiting to take a stab at this conversation all day today! A little background: Though I was raised Catholic, very little of the dogma and doctrine resonate with me. Like *very* little–I agree with some of the basics like “love your neighbour” and generally don’t be an asshole (I may be paraphrasing.. ;) But I have some acquaintances who are my “friends” on Facebook that are pretty conservative Catholics and I’m ok with that as long as they’re respectful of me and what I believe in. So, here in Ontario, Canada, our premier Dalton McGuinty put forth a bill that has been passed that says that any student at any school in Ontario (public or Catholic school) who wants to start a gay-straight alliance or any other anti-bullying club must be allowed. I was thrilled with this news but there’s been a whole lotta uproar in the Catholic communities. One of my conservative Catholic friends posted a link and wrote some intelligent commentary about the new bill. I disagreed with him but again, he was respectful so I was ok. But some of HIS friends…oh my lord. So the first line in this dialogue is a real quote from a real Catholic on facebook, the rest will be imaginary response. 

Greg: This is more evidence of the current day “gay mafia”. There is not one particular organization or a single organized group, but there are many who have been pushing the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender-whatevermoves agenda. It is obscene and hypocritical that they have been using the real issue of bullying to promote their sexual orientation agenda instead of actually trying to stop bullying.

Me: Haha, good one, Greg. You almost had me going there for a minute…

Greg: I don’t see what’s so funny.

Me: Wait, you weren’t joking??? 

Greg: …

Me: Ahhhh, the gay mafia! They’re gonna force us all to have makeovers!!! The horror! (I hope this doesn’t offend anyone…I know it’s a stereotype but it’s just meant in good fun in response to the ridiculousness of the idea of a gay mafia)

Greg: This is NOT a laughing matter. The gay mafia is a real threat to the traditional family and traditional marriage. What’s next? I love my dog, should I be allowed to marry him. And what about polygamy? Are you ok with that? What about marrying off children? Supporting the gay agenda is a slippery slope. (I have heard these insane arguments ad nauseum…)

Me: …you’re pulling my leg, right? You just watched that episode of Will and Grace where Elton John guest stars as the head of the gay mafia, right? I love that episode, by the way!

Greg: That show is the work of the devil in the guise of a sitcom.

Me: Wow…I don’t even know how to talk to you. So…uh…have a nice day? *runs away*

 

Monday Moments

Published June 4, 2012 by silvergirl3

I’ve been trying to think of something to write in my little neglected blog and I was thinking about my adorable nephews and I got an idea.  In an attempt to write in this blog at least once a week, I’m starting a Monday Moments series where I write a short description of an awesome moment that happened to me in the past week.  So without further ado…

Picture this, if you will.  A cherub-faced 2 year old boy who has found two mismatched and over-sized-for-his-little-hands oven mitts  in the kitchen, proceeding to sing “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…” complete with oven mitt clapping.  I’m not sure if I can convey just how adorable and hilarious this was so you’ll just have to take my word for it. :)

Today was Awesome

Published April 30, 2012 by silvergirl3

I went for a walk today.  I wandered through my neighbourhood and to the little park nearby.  The park has a beautiful woodlot in it where my nephews often play.  I’d never before walked in the woodlot by myself though.   I took some fun, beautiful pictures but I also just stood in the middle of the trees and noticed.  The wind rustled through the leaves above me, the birds tweeted to each other and I met an adorable baby grey squirrel. At first the baby was a bit cautious but then started to play peekaboo as I followed it around the tree.  Eventually he/she (I’m not sure which) hopped down to the ground and bounced over to another tree.  There was little hollow in the bottom of the tree and he sat in there for a bit.  He allowed me to get quite close to him.  He stared at me and licked his paws, then ran up the inside of the tree.  I waited patiently and could hear him shuffling around and then he’d come back down again and hang out with me some more.  It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.  I spoke to him quietly the way I talk to dogs and he chattered back as if we really were having some kind of inter-species conversation.  When he was bored with the tree hollow, he hopped off across the ground and over the paths and then he waited, allowed me to follow and kept going.  Even when my allergies acted up and I had a bit of a coughing fit, he didn’t run away. He trusted me and obviously enjoyed my company.  It was so amazing to have such an intimate connection with a wild animal.  I hope to go back soon and maybe he’ll remember me.

My Imaginary Masters’ Thesis

Published April 7, 2012 by silvergirl3

With all the reading I’ve been doing for my other blog, Worldy Reads, I’ve been thinking a lot about literature and all the interesting facets therein.  I’ve been thinking about great literature versus the writings of/for the people and about how there was a time when all fiction was considered sentimental garbage by some.  If I were to do a Masters in English Literature, this would be the topic: Women’s Literature (“Chick Lit”) throughout the Centuries: from Jane Austen to Sophie Kinsella.  Right?? How great would that be??

Good Friday

Published April 6, 2012 by silvergirl3

I decided this morning that I would attend church with my family for the Good Friday service.  As I was walking in, I took a lovely picture of the Mary statue in the church garden surrounded by daffodils.  That was symbolic for me as something that I feel I can take away from the tradition of my birth.  I’ve always felt close to Mary, the mother of Jesus as a symbol of strength and womanhood (real womanhood, not the saintly virgin version) and also the feminine aspect of the Divine.  As I sat in the pew, waiting for the Mass to begin, I made a conscious decision to take an emotional step back.  I can no longer be as devoted to this Catholic faith as I once was (as liberal and progressive as I’ve always been, there still was a time when I considered myself devoted), nor do I want to continue to carry the anger and cynicism towards and about all things Catholic.  So my spirit stepped back and looked at the mass in a more objective way, as a respectful guest in a tradition that no longer fits.  I was able to see the good and leave the rest.  There are people within Catholicism that are referred to as “cafeteria Catholics”.  When labelled as such by an orthodox, conservative Catholic, it’s generally a condemnation but it can also be a badge of pride that the progressives call themselves.  I used to proudly proclaim myself one! Now I don’t feel Catholic enough to even call myself that anymore but I still respect those who stay with their beliefs but think for themselves and discern their own truths rather than allowing doctrine, dogma and traditional philosophy to enslave their minds and hearts.

As I listened to the Stations of the Cross from the perspective of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I felt the love that the historical Mary must have felt for her son Jesus and the pain of seeing him suffer.  As I listened to the words describing Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, I was reminded about empathy and compassion and the integral nature they play in our lives and our world.  Some of the reading was sort of like an examination of conscience which I could appreciate.  While I don’t like the focus on sin that seems to permeate many Christian denominations, it is a fact that we don’t always live up to our potential for kindness, love, generosity, and peace.  And it’s not a bad thing to be given a little nudge regarding the way we live our lives and how we can be better people.

There was a response we said after each station: “Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”  The first couple times, I responded with the rest of the congregation because it’s what I’ve done every year since childhood, then I thought about that phrase and wondered if I should be saying it because I don’t really believe that Jesus died for our sins nor do I believe that we’re all so horrible that God needed a punishable scapegoat in return.  What I noticed though, is that although the words weren’t meaningful to me, I enjoyed the feeling of speaking in unison with a church full of people.  It was kind of like chanting in Sanskrit in a yoga class. The words themselves are meaningless to me but they bring about a sense of community simply in the recitation.

Going to Good Friday mass with my consciousness raised and the ability to look objectively and critically but not angrily or disrespectfully was a really interesting experiment.  I can pretty much guarantee that if my family stops going to church, I would too but because I like to share my life with them, I think I’ve found a way to join in the ceremonies without losing my true way. As Rachelle Mee-Chapman would say, I’m a fringe dweller and that’s ok. :)

Finally, what I probably loved best about the service was turning around and seeing a boy of about 8 or 9 asking to hold his baby brother.  His mom carefully handed the infant over and the boy was so gentle and loving and held that baby like a little daddy or uncle.  Those little moments is really what it’s all about for me.

On the Eve of the Tridium…

Published April 6, 2012 by silvergirl3

As we approach Good Friday, the day that Christians traditionally commemorate the day that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, I sit here a bit lost and confused.  My faith has gone through so much transformation over the last 15 years that my faith today wouldn’t recognize my faith back then.  Well, maybe it would see a passing resemblance…  The idea of going to church tomorrow has absolutely no appeal.  Listening to gospel readings telling of Christ’s death on the cross again–the same readings I’ve heard every year since I can remember and which do nothing to inspire me.  I’m not sure I can do it.

This Easter weekend, there are things that inspire me though.  Babysitting my nephew for the past 5 days and playing with him has filled these days with such joy! We hugged our teddy bears and played with superhero figures–I convinced him that they like to hug, dance and play just as much as they like to fight. ;) We danced and sang, we made silly faces and crazy noises.  We ran and jumped and I even changed some disgusting diapers which is really a true testament of love, right?

Another inspiration was lunch today with a sweet friend.  Talking, laughing and sharing a meal with someone who really gets you and vice versa–what could be better?

And I’m also loving Flock, the online relig-ish group I’ve joined, facilitated by Rachelle Mee-Chapman, a phenomenal interfaith spiritual director.  I get giddy thinking about checking out the Flock Facebook page everyday where we all connect in our searching and faithful experimenting.

These are just a few of the things for which I’m grateful this Easter.  As spring and the season of hope and new life come upon us, there are many things that fill my heart.

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