Lessons Learned & Random Ramblings

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“My Name is Memory” ~ a review of sorts… June 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 3:07 pm

I read A LOT – usually several books a week. I also read really fast. My husband jokes that sometimes on weekends when we sit down on the couch to relax he watches a few innings of a ball game and I read a book. He says all the time “you have a few minutes, why don’t you read a book?” He is only exaggerating slightly.

I LOVE to read and I love to talk about books. I love my book club and discussing the stories we read, debating the plot and defending the characters. If reading was a profession, I like to think I’d be among the best. I haven’t quite figured out why I don’t write more on this blog about the books I read but maybe someday….

Anyways, I’ll try to find my way to my point! I recently read “My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares. I am a big fan of the author – I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and I enjoyed “The Last Summer of You & Me”. I will admit that when I picked up this book I was a bit skeptical…the jacket of the book was intriguing but also a big vague. I was afraid that it would turn out to be a wanna-be Twilight story. I will also admit that I was wrong about that.

The story has a very interesting premise. To me, the overall theme was that our souls never die – they inhabit new bodies and new environments, face new challenges and interact with new people and situations, but they retain the important parts life to life – the things they have learned, the lessons and characteristics they value, the love they feel for others. In the book it presents the idea that only a remarkable few people can “remember” their past lives and therefore they remain connected to the souls that they loved – even if those souls are in new people and if those new people don’t remember the past or the connection. Sound complicated? I struggled a bit with the book at first – the narrator tells his own story but several other characters become the focus of chapters and the time periods jump tremendously – from 541 to 2009 – and settings from all over the world are featured. Once I got used to the back and forth and connected with the voices of the characters I found myself really enjoying the story and caring about what happened to the characters.

If this were a real review, I’d recommend it the book. I will also confess that I hope for a sequel….

What really struck me though was the way the characters connect to each other throughout the book in truly incredible ways – the soul of an old male friend inhabits the body of a young girl but can still be recognized, a young man can still feel love for the soul now inhabiting an elderly woman in need of comfort, a young woman reaches out to a child. I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation but, in fairness, I don’t know that I don’t believe in it either. This book definitely challenged my thoughts on the subject.

This is why I liked the book – it made me think. Have you ever felt instantly connected to someone – either as friends or romantic partners? Have you ever wondered how it seems as though you have known someone forever when you’ve only recently met? This has happened to me on more than one occasion and I wonder sometimes if there is more to the connection than liking the same restaurant or movie or choosing the same grad school program or being in the same general line of work. The same has happened in reverse – I’ve instantly known I don’t like someone or can’t trust someone with no logical reason why – just a gut feeling that something is off. Is my intuition finely tuned or could it perhaps be something more? I am not sure I can totally buy the idea of previous connections in the way the book presents them but I definitely believe that there is something bigger out there and maybe it helps us to meet people and connect to those that are our meant to be our “soul mates”…

Something else to the long list of life’s mysteries to ponder….if you read the book, please let me know what you think!

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What I miss about childhood… June 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 1:51 pm

The trick is growing up without growing old.  ~ Casey Stengel

While driving to work this morning I caught the end of a conversation on the radio about what people miss most about childhood. In the few minutes I listened I had to smile at many of the things callers mentioned: community games (kickball, soccer, baseball); family meals & movie nights; new school clothes and supplies; etc. Several callers even mentioned family vacations, childhood pets and specific hobbies they have now outgrown. It was a very varied and interesting list and each one reminded me of my own experiences.

I was very lucky. My sister and I had a great childhood and I have wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends. I have great photos to look back on and people to reminisce with. However, there are things that I miss about childhood, including:

  • The freedom to draw outside the lines  – as a child we pick whatever colors we want and don’t necessarily follow the pre-drawn outlines. Pink hair and purple skin – go for it. A lime green house with purple grass and yellow clouds – make it happen. As we grow up we learn the rules – the acceptable colors of grass and sky, the importance of following the rules and drawing in the lines – but as children we just enjoy the moment and allow ourselves to draw what we feel inspired to draw.
  • The sense of absolute confidence in what we like and who we are – I remember liking a different color weekly (blue, purple, yellow) and wanting to be something different when I grew up each week as well (baseball player, teacher, writer, princess). I also remember having my heroes – people in my life, baseball players my dad admired, characters in cartoons or television shows. When asked, I was so certain of my answers and didn’t second guess myself – even as the answers changed regularly. As an adult, I still have likes and dislikes (everyone does!) but because they don’t necessarily change on a whim anymore, I am not always nearly as confident in putting it out there for others to judge.
  • Having a best friend and believing that person would never go away – my best friends growing up (other than my cousins) were named Darren & Sandra. We were friends from infant playgroup through 2nd grade. We were going to be friends forever until my family moved and we were too young to stay in touch. However, I vividly remember the security that came from having a “best friend” as a child.
  • The unwavering belief that anything is possible – I don’t think as a child I ever questioned whether or not I could be a baseball playing princess. In fact, it seemed to make complete sense to me. I never questioned the existence of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I had a fantastic array of imaginary friends and shared our adventures with my family.  I believed that I could accomplish anything that I put my heart and mind to. As an adult, I still believe some of this – a baseball playing princess would still make me smile – but my beliefs are probably a bit more grounded.

The act of putting this list together was more thought-provoking than I thought it would be. I find that when I think about it I am still all for coloring outside the lines but perhaps on a more limited basis. I am also a big fan of my best friend(s) and I am pretty confident that we will remain friends for whatever length of time “forever” winds up being. I also still tend to be pretty optimistic and do believe that anything is possible with the right balance of work, faith and luck.

I love the opening quote by Casey Stengel – it is a great reminder that we don’t have to give up our childhood beliefs and wishes when we grow up. Instead, we need to find ways to grow up that maintain the most important parts.

 

Do what you love… June 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 5:39 pm

“In a very real sense, we are the authors of our own lives.” ~ Mandy Aftel

My fabulous best friend sent me a small book in the mail recently. The title is: “do what you love”. The book features quotes from various people on creating your life and loving what you create. I’ve been staring at it periodically since receiving it. I flip through the pages, read the note my friend included, allow myself to feel inspired. It is pretty amazing what a 3X3 book can do!

The quote by Aftel is my current favorite from the book, though that changes day-to-day. As a writer, I love the idea of authoring my own life. I love to believe that we have some amount of control over our destiny. I love that as the author we can erase as necessary, repeat as necessary and change as necessary. It makes me feel empowered.

Change is coming for me. I’ve been working toward it for a few months now but my plan as of today is to make the big, giant, scary leap next week. I have gone through various emotions – fear, panic, excitement, pride, utter panic, much excitement. It changes daily as I get closer to doing what I have wanted to do for a while now. I go back and forth between thinking I might be crazy and having complete confidence that by trusting my gut and taking this leap that good things will happen. I practice worst-case scenarios until my husband makes me laugh and I realize I am being ridiculous. I panic about paying for groceries until my husband reminds me that we won’t starve even if things don’t get figured out immediately. I call myself crazy until my sister reminds me that when things make you miserable, change is a necessity. I underestimate myself until my best friend reminds me that she thinks I’m fabulous…and then she sends a book with great quotes in case I forget.

The journey of the last few months hasn’t been one that you can chronicle on a map. It has been one of trust and faith. It has been one that has reminded me that I am the author of my own life and I can make things happen. If it doesn’t work out exactly the way I hope, I can rewrite and revise. Most importantly, if I forget the lessons that have learned along the way, I can always go back and reread them. My story is, in many ways, just beginning and I can’t wait to see what happens next.