Booking It Forward

In my opinion reading and holidays go together like peas and carrots. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading all the time–vacation or not–but it brings me a special brand of guilt-free joy while on holidays, because I don’t feel torn that I should be doing something else instead of spending time engrossed in a book. Reading on holidays really is the perfect marriage. Give me a poolside lounge chair, a bottle of sunscreen, bottle of water, and a good book and I’ll be content for hours and hours.

One of the books I brought with me to Maui is The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney. Funny story: I’ve actually had the book for a while, as I purchased it in November prior to our fall break vacation. I carted it with me all the way to Aruba and back without even cracking the spine. And between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the routine obligations of everyday life, and all the other books I’ve had on the go, I hadn’t found the time to read it until our holiday this past week in Maui.

TheNest

Just to be clear, this post is neither to review nor endorse The Nest. Rather, it is to share an idea that I was divinely presented as I reflected on one of the book’s more subtle themes. Although understated and slow to unravel, the theme resonated with me deeply, building to a dramatic crescendo as multiple plot lines converged upon each other in its concluding pages. The theme to which I am referring is the universality and interconnectedness of life that we see both in fiction and reality. In stories and in real life, these connections are what bring us pleasure and pain; they form the basis of our experience here on earth, and are the essence of our shared humanity.

So, as I mentioned, a seed was planted when I thought how nice it would be to finish the book and leave it behind, at first just thinking of lightening my carry-on load, even if just a little… I could simply leave the book on a lounge chair by the pool, or as a welcome gift in our rented condo unit for the next set of vacationers who would be staying there. And then, just as quickly as the first thought danced across my consciousness, my mind took a sharp turn in a different direction.

Circling around the notion of how many miles this book had already traveled (by air, over both land and sea), starting its journey from my home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada to Aruba and back; and then to Maui, Hawaii, I began to entertain how I could share my love of reading and travel, together. The formless idea began to solidify and take shape, details and logistics rattling back and forth like a pinball inside my head.

So I’ve decided to leave the book at the Kahului International Airport (OGG) in Maui with a message inside its cover. I am going to Book It Forward! Just like paying it forward, but with a book.

My hope is that a fellow book lover and traveler will find it in the airport and picks it up, perhaps even to read en route to his or her next destination. And when that person is finished reading, that he or she will pass the book along to another traveling reader? And so on, and so on, each successive traveling reader following suit by booking it forward.

How awesome is it to think about all the places this book may go, and all the people who might read this copy? I am giddy and filled will the hopefulness of a child at the prospect of setting this book free into the world—my very own message in a bottle.

If, by the grace of the universe, my copy of The Nest has made it into your hands, please leave a comment below!

Update: my husband and daughter didn’t think it was sufficient to simply leave the book on an airport bench, so they took the matter into their own hands. Last night before boarding our flight, they handed the book off to a young woman. All I know is she had just landed in Maui via Seattle. The wheels have been set in motion and this Booking It Forward adventure has officially begun…

Booking It Forward

In my opinion reading and holidays go together like peas and carrots. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading all the time–vacation or not–but it brings me a special brand of guilt-free joy while on holidays, because I don’t feel torn that I should be doing something else instead of spending time engrossed in a book. Reading on holidays really is the perfect marriage. Give me a poolside lounge chair, a bottle of sunscreen, bottle of water, and a good book and I’ll be content for hours and hours.

One of the books I brought with me to Maui is The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney. Funny story: I’ve actually had the book for a while, as I purchased it in November prior to our fall break vacation. I carted it with me all the way to Aruba and back without even cracking the spine. And between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the routine obligations of everyday life, and all the other books I’ve had on the go, I hadn’t found the time to read it until our holiday this past week in Maui.

TheNest

Just to be clear, this post is neither to review nor endorse The Nest. Rather, it is to share an idea that I was divinely presented as I reflected on one of the book’s more subtle themes. Although understated and slow to unravel, the theme resonated with me deeply, building to a dramatic crescendo as multiple plot lines converged upon each other in its concluding pages. The theme to which I am referring is the universality and interconnectedness of life that we see both in fiction and reality. In stories and in real life, these connections are what bring us pleasure and pain; they form the basis of our experience here on earth, and are the essence of our shared humanity.

So, as I mentioned, a seed was planted when I thought how nice it would be to finish the book and leave it behind, at first just thinking of lightening my carry-on load, even if just a little… I could simply leave the book on a lounge chair by the pool, or as a welcome gift in our rented condo unit for the next set of vacationers who would be staying there. And then, just as quickly as the first thought danced across my consciousness, my mind took a sharp turn in a different direction.

Circling around the notion of how many miles this book had already traveled (by air, over both land and sea), starting its journey from my home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada to Aruba and back; and then to Maui, Hawaii, I began to entertain how I could share my love of reading and travel, together. The formless idea began to solidify and take shape, details and logistics rattling back and forth like a pinball inside my head.

So I’ve decided to leave the book at the Kahului International Airport (OGG) in Maui with a message inside its cover. I am going to Book It Forward! The equivalent of paying it forward with a book. It is just that simple.

My hope is that a fellow book lover and traveler will find it in the airport and picks it up, perhaps even to read en route to his or her next destination. And when that person is finished reading, that he or she will pass the book along to another traveling reader? And so on, and so on, each successive traveling reader following suit by booking it forward.

How awesome is it to think about all the places this book may go, and all the people who might read this copy? I am giddy and filled will the hopefulness of a child at the prospect of setting this book free into the world—my very own message in a bottle.

If, by the grace of the universe, my copy of The Nest has  made it into your hands, please leave a comment below!

Update: my husband and daughter didn’t think it was sufficient to simply leave the book on an airport bench. Instead, they took the matter into their own hands. Last night before boarding our flight, they handed the book off to a young woman. All I know is she had just landed in Maui via Seattle. The wheels have been set in motion and the Booking It Forward adventure has officially begun…

Calling All Love Warriors

Is the true mark of a good book one that’s been referred by numerous friends, approved by critics, and reached the top of the bestseller list? If you ask me, the best indication of a book’s merit is its ability to strike a chord and hit me where I’m going to feel it—right in my humanity.

And that’s pretty much exactly what Glennon Doyle Melton’s, Love Warrior, did. It hit me square in the face and simultaneously yanked at my heartstrings, while calling into question all of the darkness and light of being a woman and what it really means to be human.

book cover.JPG

I hadn’t even heard of the author until about a month and a half ago, when a Facebook friend began posting about reading Love Warrior. She apologized to her family and friends to let them know she would be holed up in her bedroom for as long as it took to get through all of the pages of this particular story, which I distinctly recall her referring to as intense.

At the time I wasn’t sure why, but I was compelled to get my hands on a copy of this memoir by an author about whom the only thing I knew was that she went by three names. Having just finished Love Warrior and being left emotionally depleted and somehow hopeful and also changed and as though I want to read it all over again in order to soak up more of its goodness, I am again compelled to let the world know this book is an absolute must read.

I couldn’t have predicted the way in which Love Warrior would affect me, finding its way into the deepest, darkest crevices of my heart. It’s not just because I feel a strange sense of sisterhood toward the author, who obviously understands the cause and effect of being a highly sensitive person in an often intensely insensitive world. It’s not just because she has an uncanny ability to turn a phrase so simply and beautifully that it is, at once, both breathtaking and heartbreaking. (She’s exactly the type of powerful female author I aspire to become.) It’s not just because her life story is both riveting and compelling. It’s not the profound choice that she’s made over and over again to carve her path guided by trust and faith. And it’s also not just because her experiences, and her choices in reaction to them, resonated for me so deeply that I can’t even explain it, and have been left with no other choice but to feel it in the depths of my soul. It’s not just any one of these things in isolation. It’s actually all of them, and so much more.

This story reminded me of being at an interesting and critical point in my own life; standing at a crossroads where unexpected pieces of my past are converging to form the present. Similarly, Melton poignantly reflects on her experience of being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and writer while overcoming the odds stacked against her. And to top it all off, she does all of this with an unparalleled sense of grace, the likes of which are rarely seen in our time.

The totality of Melton’s story of unlearning everything she once thought she knew and unbecoming everything she thought she was, is eerily familiar to me. This must be why her words have landed so close to my own heart, shattering it into tiny pieces and leaving me to pick up the debris.

While the circumstances of her life path are quite different from mine, there are a number of common threads too similar to be ignored. Warp threads are spun by two women trying to make sense of their lives and figure out their place in the world. The weft threads are the sheer determination that, no matter what happens along the way, these two women will always choose the path of honesty and remaining true to themselves. The interweaving of warp and weft has created the fabric of our lives, both Melton’s and mine.

On a side note, every time my kids and husband came home over the past few days to find me sobbing as I made my way through the final five chapters, they would always ask, “You’re reading that book again, aren’t you?” And on these occasions, they would ask me with great concern what the book was about and why it was so upsetting to me. Each and every time I failed to find adequate words to express the intense feelings it was eliciting from within me. But what I can say is this: Love Warrior landed in my lap at just the right time, allowing me to open my heart and shed a few layers of its skin as I was immersed  in a story that took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from disbelief, loss, and grief to acceptance, faith, grace, and love, and everything in between.

It doesn’t quite do justice to Glennon Doyle Melton’s gift as a writer to say I enjoyed Love Warrior, and it simply wasn’t possible for me to ignore the urge to write this post. Because doing so is the most honest choice and the next right thing I can do to honour where I am at right now. (And also because this is important work and everyone needs to read it.)

LoveWarrior.PNG

Love Warrior has reminded me of our shared humanity and the need to keep coming back to love in these tumultuous times. It dug up and forced me to feel some deep emotional baggage that I’ve been carrying (even though I didn’t really want to). And, yes, I’m just going to go ahead and say it—it’s changed the way I choose to look at the world.

I actually enjoyed this book so much I just may go read it all over again. And if you want to read something interesting and important that was created out of the only force that matters and on which we all need to focus more of our attention during this lifetime, dare I say, so should you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a copy, fix yourself a tea or coffee, get cozy, and start reading Love Warrior today.

Perhaps you’ve already read Love Warrior? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

One small step for mypharelady = one giant leap for my self-worth

If there’s one thing I know it’s that I can be a stubborn, slow learner. If there’s another thing I know it’s that slow and steady still gets you to the finish line.

After finishing my second half marathon I was adamant that I’d never complete a full marathon. In my mind, doing anything for a distance of 42 km and what would likely take me over five hours is the definition of insanity. No, thank you. Not for this girl. It’s really quite funny how, in certain moments like these, we feel we have all the answers. Everything is absolutely black and white. Yet, with a little time, some learning, and a lot of perspective, we can—and quite often do—change our minds.

Despite having completed a number of races, which by most people’s standards would qualify me as a runner, I’ve always struggled with the moniker. Similarly, despite making a living for close to 15 years by writing, not to mention running this blog and having a dream of writing and publishing a book of my own, calling myself a writer has always felt a little uncomfortable.

I can imagine anyone reading this right now is probably scratching their head and wondering what the hell long distance running and writing have to do with each other. The answer, at least in my case, is quite a lot. Both can take a toll on us: taxing our bodies, zapping our energy, and depleting us mentally. Both require tremendous focus, dedication, and most of all courage. Both require that the participant never give up hope of reaching their final destination—whether it be crossing the finish line or sharing their work with the world by publishing a book.

And I guess that’s precisely why I finally went ahead and purchased the domain name {mypharelady.com}. You see, when I originally created this blog about 2.5 years ago, I just couldn’t justify the expense for a personal blog that was little more than a hobby. Fast forward a few short years and I now see how that decision was less about the cost and more about subconsciously keeping myself small.

It has taken moldways_newdoorse some time to see the fault in my earlier perspective, and also that I still have a ways to go in the self-love and self-worth department. But I also realize staying where I am, in the nice warm fluffy walls of my comfort zone, won’t change anything either.

Is there any way to guarantee the small investment I’ve made in registering this domain will yield any kind of financial return? No. Is giving myself a gentle kick in the ass to get out of my comfort zone and taking a giant leap of faith just what I need? Hell ya and ‘nuff said.

While I must admit that running a full marathon still isn’t anywhere on my radar (I don’t feel the need to prove to myself that I can do it), I am determined to write and publish a book. Therefore, I intend to continue trudging forward, slowly and steadily down the long and winding road, until I reach the finish line.

I’d like to know…

Have you ever felt confined by your comfort zone and, if so, what did you do to shake things up?

And

In the face of self-doubt and other setbacks, how do you keep yourself focused on achieving your dreams and goals?

My story is unfolding, with major changes and subtle shifts

This summer has been a time of significant transition for me—a time of both major changes and subtle shifts. My daughter finished Grade 2 and my son graduated from Kindergarten, I left my job at the end of June, and I somehow finally summoned the courage to announce to the world that I plan to pursue my dream of becoming a published author.

While I’ve always insisted on working outside of the home (I felt I had something valid to offer the world and felt strongly that staying home with the kids wasn’t right for me), over the last year it became increasingly apparent that my children needed to have me around more than I needed to have a career, even if I was only working part time.

At first this message came masquerading as something else, but as time went on it got louder and much more obvious. This dance went on for a while but I began to see through the veiled disguise, eventually coming to understand being available to my children was the answer I didn’t know I was looking for, yet desperately needed to find.

But don’t let me fool you into thinking the decision to become a stay-at-home mom was an easy one for me to make, nor that it wasn’t met with any resistance on my part. In fact, resistance might just be the understatement of the century. My ego screamed and kicked and dug its heels in on this one. My identity as a career woman—a working mother—has guided every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years, and I was fiercely determined not to let go of the “working” part. I was extremely emotional just discussing the idea of not working, and I cried as I gave notice to my employer, all the while knowing it was what I needed to do.

As more friends and family members learn about my decision, many have asked about my motives and how it feels to assume this new role on a full-time basis. It’s not an easy question for me to answer, as I have mixed emotions and likely will for some time. What I do know, on the other hand, is this: the major changes that I’ve recently initiated are precipitating several smaller and more subtle shifts, which seem to be coming at me, fast and furious, in a successive chain reaction.

These subtle shifts have helped me to realize it’s time, once and for all, to release the pain and stagnant energy that is not serving me in the pursuit of my greatest good. I am learning to let go of things I can’t control. I am allowing myself to love and be loved. I am listening to my intuition more freely and uncovering what I desire most, which for the moment is to create, to nurture, to express love, and to receive love into my heart.

I want to live my life on purpose, starting right now with just one season (thanks to Melsha Shea for creating #SummerOnPurpose). This summer I want to be the most loving mother I can possibly be for my two beautiful children. I want to experience, through them, what being a kid is all about—having fun, playing, and seeing the world through innocent eyes with childlike wonder. I want to grow flowers and vegetables in my backyard. I want to do more art journaling. (Art journaling is an incredibly therapeutic process, and I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t already done so. Check out http://www.jenngarman.com. She’s a great teacher!) I want to read, cook, bake, dance, and move. Oh, yes, and I want to WRITE!

My first art journal page, "My story is unfolding"

My first art journal page, “My story is unfolding”

Through a series of synchronicities, I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop on How to Write and Publish Your First Book in Seven Steps, presented by Kelly Falardeau and Carrie Kohan. These two wise women removed the mystery around book publishing by providing a series of practical and easy-to-follow steps, as well as sharing a process to capture my ideas and create outlines for the books I want to write. Further, Carrie Kohan rocked my world with her ability to “read” me, while confirming my deeply held belief about the incredible healing power of meditation. The workshop was both simple and extremely powerful, as it helped me realize I can stretch beyond my perceived limitations and pursue my passion of writing. With the knowledge Kelly and Carrie shared, and as I remain open to the possibilities life brings, I will share my words and stories with the world.

All of these changes in a relatively short period of time has felt like a whirlwind. It all feels like a bit much for a girl who prefers life to happen on her terms while having both feet firmly planted on the ground. But I can honestly say, without reservation, that my soul is downright giddy to have uncovered this path. So I’d like to thank the universe for these major changes and subtle shifts that are leading me to my truth. It’s like a reassuring pat on the back that’s letting me know, in no uncertain terms, I’m on the right track and my story is unfolding exactly how it’s supposed to.