Archives for posts with tag: recommended reading

I am sitting with my thoughts, taking a moment for myself out of a busy day. I’m contemplating life, love, art – you know, the important things. 🙂 I smile when I recall the new book I’ve only just started reading, which promises to satisfy other creative impulses than those fulfilled by paint and canvas.

It brings back long-forgotten memories, too.

I contemplate a tiny art project I am undertaking.

The studio is not yet ready for larger work… I think I can make room for something very small.

I take time for brilliantly blue autumn skies.

…And passing clouds.

I let moments overtake me. Breathing. Relaxing. Letting my mind wander a bit. Soon enough, it is time to begin again. 🙂

Hey, don’t forget to upgrade your software. You know we become what we practice, sure, but don’t forget we can upgrade our own software anytime – through the magic of reading! It’s true. It’s even a wonderful time for it; it’s Banned Books Week!

If you’ve been following along, you’ve already watched this video, and maybe you’re also experiencing some difficulty getting into a book (and maybe you remember when it was much much easier to do)… It’s not too late to take back your attention span. It’s going to take practice, and it’s going to take a very specific new beginning. Are you ready for it? Here’s how it works:

  1. Turn off your device, or at least silence your notifications.
  2. Pick up a book.
  3. Begin reading.
  4. Keep reading.
  5. Go back to reading.
  6. Seriously, are you not reading?
  7. READ!

Yep. It’s that easy. 😉

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of lists you can start with… here. Here. Here. Over here, too. One thing there is no shortage of? Books. Read some!

The ease and convenience of the Internet is no substitution for learning a subject with depth, or enjoying a long involved tale, or riding the emotional roller-coaster of poetry. Kind of a similar magnitude of difference as between “small talk” and deeply intimate conversations, actually. No need to coast through your existence being unimaginably facile, though; books exist (and so do deeply intimate conversations between very authentic people).

I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve not yet read.

Books, rather pleasantly, also give one time to soak things in, and give full consideration to new learning – no rushing necessary. I often set one aside and come back to it with greater appreciation or understanding, or having taken time to cross-reference a point that needed some clarification (or just to look up a word I didn’t understand in that context). Books don’t “turn it into an argument” if I disagree, either, they just wait for me to turn the page and learn more, which may broaden my perspective.

…You may be getting the impression I’m a huge fan of reading. 🙂 I am. It’s true. It’s a thing. I love to read.

I don’t read as much as I once did. Internet. I can clearly correlate the decline in my reading to the increase in my time online. Huh. I bet my software is way out of date as a result. It’s time to upgrade!

It’s time to begin again.

What are you reading?

This guy writes way better than I do, and this morning I am reading his work; the new post from Wait But Why. He knows the map is not the world, but also understands that we are each our own cartographer. He writes using allegories, metaphors, and analogies. He’s funny, smart, and on point.  So, this morning, I am just going to enjoy my coffee and read. Totally time well spent. Join me? 😉

I am sipping my coffee, listening to the demands of crows beyond the open patio door. The aquarium, behind me here, trickles softly; I almost don’t hear it moment-to-moment, I am so used to the sound of it. The sound of distant traffic is a hushed murmur still farther beyond, and not a disruption of the still morning – although when I am most stressed out the sounds of humanity are more than I can bear, even at a distance. I sift through ideas, and notions, musing contentedly about this-n-that, unconcerned about the passage of time and the still blank page. There is no point hurrying life, really, is there? Eventually the passage of minutes will take me to the edge of some moment that requires action, but that is not now.

“Now” is for hot coffee, birdsong, and words if I find them.

I have lived alone for a bit more than a month. Thinking about the date reminds me that I must pay the rent on my way to work…and that marijuana became legal in Oregon today. I’m not sure which is more directly relevant to me, today; I will spend the day at work, and certainly neither cannabis nor rent factor in that experience. It’ll be nice to come home to a home, though – so rent is clearly important. I’ll be coming home to cannabis as well, inasmuch as it remains the only medication that eases many of my PTSD symptoms, especially if I am in crisis. I don’t write much about it. I’m not sure I know how. I do know it works, and as of today being a consumer of cannabis is just a little bit less stressful in Oregon.

Worth paying for. The sticky note on the inside of my front door this morning says 'don't forget the rent!'

Worth paying for. The sticky note on the inside of my front door this morning says ‘don’t forget the rent!’

This morning I continue to experience a feeling that has been lingering in the background for a couple of days now; I feel a bit ‘over loaded’… or something. Maybe a bit distracted…by something…or something. I’m not sure quite what the feeling is, but I notice that what eases it most is solitude, and stillness. I get the solitude fairly easily by canceling plans and choosing to be alone. The stillness seems a tad more problematic, lately. The world throws distractions at me almost continuously, and I am again facing mindfulness as a beginner – perhaps I always must? No stereo this morning, or yesterday – I love music and dance, but those are not stillness. The last couple evenings I have struggled to choose wisely, often finding myself flipping on a video that I then do not actually watch, instead restlessly doing other things, and half listening to it. Sometimes I sit down to read, and manage a page or two before sleep finds me…or distraction pushes the book beyond reach and I pursue some other activity, but without real focus. I take steps to paint, and find myself hanging paintings instead, or only sketching rather distractedly.

I am frustrated in a small way by my lack of focus, but I don’t view it as any sort of personal failure or character flaw; more likely my broken brain is working on something I can’t quite get at directly, and the overwork in the background of my thinking fractures my conscious direction and intent. The stillness is needful, getting to it requires verbs, and more verbs after that – particularly some verbs that give every appearance of lacking actual action. Meditation. More meditation after I meditate, and perhaps, some more meditation after that. No, I’m not kidding, but I’m also not certain that I quite have the well-developed adult will and discipline to do this simple thing that I need for and from myself. I am a child. I am a beginner. I am unrealized potential. The choice is in front of me and there are most definitely verbs involved. There will be more practice. Everyday practice, every day.

I am not feeling critical of myself, and I am not disappointed with my choices thus far. I am keeping a lovely home for myself, and I have been enjoying cooking for one – and in some cases taking on some rather more complicated recipes that I might have, had I been concerned about the needs or expectations of others. It’s been fun playing house with myself. I tend my beautiful garden, and eat healthy food. I practice good practices and keep good company. I am enjoying my experience – but on another level I have been sort of ‘taking it easy’. There is more ‘work’ to be done sorting out the chaos and damage, and I have been, in a very real sense, taking a break from all that to settle in here, and get a feel for living solo. My recent level of distractibility – and willingness to be distracted – has been an emotional vacation of sorts. This morning I recognize it so clearly, and with the good-natured tolerance of any parent, I am ready to look into the face of the child within and remind her there is work to be done. There will be no shortage of healthy meals, good rest, excellent self-care, and fun – but there is a purpose to choosing this lifestyle that goes beyond contentment, and it is time to get back to work.

"The Shelf" - everything I need for being and becoming.

“The Shelf” – everything I need for being and becoming.

I suspect that my sudden urgent desire to organize the books on my book shelves was fueled, in part, by my recognition that it is time to get back to the demanding work at hand of healing, and nurturing this broken brain, and this fractured soul. The shelf nearest me while I write holds all the most critical [to me] reference material on which I rely for information regarding my brain injury, mindfulness practices, cognition, language, and relationship building (with self and others). No book ‘makes the shelf’ unless it proves itself worthy – otherwise, there is plenty of room on other shelves along the wall. My kindle also has ‘the shelf’; a collection of similarly prized and limited tomes, some of which are duplicated in real books in my library, others which I could not so easily afford to own in any format besides digital. (Some of the science books are quite expensive.) I am ready. I am capable. The trick, of course, is that there is only ever ‘now’ during which I can work on me, effectively. 🙂

The sweet fruit of commitment, will, and action await me.

The sweet fruit of commitment, will, and action await me.

It is a lovely summer. I have everything I truly need (and more). I am safe in my home and free to pursue any endeavor I care to. I have ‘now’, and I have all the words in the world. I have any measure of stillness I am capable of embracing, and sustaining. Today is a very good day to get back to work on this amazing project I call ‘me’.


I woke from a sound sleep with some difficulty. The alarm rather insistently simply continued to beep until I finally pulled myself free of my dreams and shut it off. I lay quietly for some time, trying to remember why the alarm was going off on a Sunday, but certain there must be a reason for it. I smiled thinking of yesterday, of Friday, of lovely days to come…Right. I’m working today. Still not awake, I rise and begin going through the motions of a work morning, peculiarly out of sequence and with little awareness.

A different coffee, on a different day.

A different coffee, on a different day.

It was my first sip of coffee that really got my attention – not because it is coffee, and a lovely taste of morning, oh no, not in the least – it’s dreadful. Well, to be fair, why would I expect differently? I was so careless and inattentive making it that it qualifies as having been made solely because hot water passed through ground coffee and found its way to a cup. LOL I pause for breath, and really give myself a chance for my brain to boot up. My consciousness is barely coming online – I usually don’t actually make the coffee until I am able to do so mindfully, and present in the experience; a good pour over results in extraordinary coffee, a sloppy, careless, inattentive, imprecise pour over results in a far less satisfying brew.

Robotically, I put the warm mug to my lips again, and again I am dismayed at the coffee. Lesson learned? I pour it out and make myself a properly well done cup of coffee, mindfully and present in the moment – I deserve the very best from myself, for myself, and taking the time for a good cup of coffee is more than a ‘treat’ for me, it is one of the first things I do each day to treat myself well. It’s very much worth “doing right”.

There are verbs involved.

There are verbs involved.

The window was wide open yesterday, for some time, while the air conditioner was being installed. This morning I woke with a handful of mosquito bites, where my arms were exposed to the air while I slept. I am unsurprised. They are obviously just mosquito bites, and I don’t fuss with them, or worry about them; they itch a bit regardless. I smile thinking about ‘the birthday spider’ (my traveling partner spotted a spider at an inconvenient moment, and it was dealt with, no freak outs required). There have been far fewer unwelcome visitors since I began taking strong measures to manage them. It is summer in the Pacific Northwest, and I live alongside a wetlands park – mosquitoes and spiders share the area, and this is a known thing – I just want to keep them out of the apartment, generally. 🙂

Life’s curriculum is never completed, summer or not – no spring break, no time out for the holidays, no recess. I was talking over lessons learned about living a polyamorous lifestyle with an interested friend, and because I am no expert on matters of love, I referenced those whose knowledge, experience, and expertise I rely on, myself. I’ve learned a lot about love with my traveling partner, and I’ve read far and wide all manner of words about love and loving. It’s uncommon to find a proper ‘handbook’ on this sort of thing, but I have found three really good ones, myself, that tend to cover the basics of love, loving – and loving more:

  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a great starting point on a basic foundation in good emotional self-care. I am quite certain, from my own experience, that failing to treat myself truly well is a limiting factor when I turn my affection toward loving someone else. There are a number of other weightier tomes I could turn to, but this one covers most of what I ever needed – given committed practice. I regularly revisit this one. It was recommended by my traveling partner and has not yet let me down…but it’s not on point regarding ethical non-monogamy or polyamory, it’s more…how to be a basically decent human being to myself and others.
  • Then there’s How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is simply the utter essence of Love, in words. It is the most basic expression of what it takes to love well and skillfully, in any form a relationship may take. It’s not really a guide, or a rule book, it is simply ‘how to love’ – there are verbs involved, but given this book I’d expect any whole, sane, rational person could nurture love even beginning in its absence, perhaps. Certainly, when I read this book, I realized that this is indeed how I would like to be loved. I am learning to love more skillfully through the simple practices it outlines.
  • There is a book that is entirely on point and quite skillfully written. It not only covers what works – it covers what doesn’t work, and why it generally doesn’t work, and how to avoid the pitfalls. I regularly recommended the content when it existed only as a website, and I recommend it as a book now – More Than Two, by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, and this is the book I suggested to my friend. It is rich with basics and I suspect any sort of relationship benefits from the knowledge within its pages, but it is very specifically written about the many sorts of relationships thrown into the rather large bucket of ‘all consensual adult relationships that are not monogamous’ – of which there are actually many sorts.
Conveniently for sale where words are sold.

Conveniently for sale where words are sold.

My friend and I walked to Powell’s, nearby – itself a wonder of human knowledge – and found that they had More Than Two in stock. I bought a copy for my own library, with the explicit commitment to share it with my friend; I can’t answer all his questions so easily. I have recently observed that I have read all the books I own – it’s a very nearly accurate statement. (I started Fourier, and Pascal, but struggled with their work at the time I made the attempt, and haven’t returned to them.) It’s also a personal commitment; books are not merely objects of beauty in my decor. I use my porcelain demi-tasse cups, however antique, and I read my books. When yesterday began to wind down, and all the chores were completed, I took up the new book in my hand, relaxed in a comfortable chair, put my feet up, and went to the contents in search of content I hadn’t already read online.  Some time later I paused –  I was learning! There is more to learn. I learn best through my mistakes, and More Than Two opened to pages and pages of details of recent mistakes that suddenly seemed much clearer, and more readily understood in the provided context of the book. I will be a better lover, and a better partner, when the knowledge gained becomes actions resulting from better choices. 🙂

Yesterday ended well. Today begins similarly well, if a bit clumsily at first. Each passing day in my new home reinforces how important the choices I make are for my longer term well-being. Relationships matter, and there too I have choices – rather a lot of choices. I am learning that the choices I make in my relationships with others are affected by the choices I make regarding my relationship with myself; putting myself last, or failing to put myself on my own agenda at all, has lasting consequences in my relationships with others. Even the relationships themselves are choices; choosing to maintain a relationship with someone who treats me poorly may be an investment in long-term growth, and a promise of a better future, but it is as likely to be a compromise with serious consequences for my quality of life, and the ‘may be’ may not pay off, ever. My traveling partner taught me the value of being treated well in my relationships – and for me there is no turning back now (he’s set the bar pretty high for my idea of ‘being treated well’, too). My relationships need to be built on my Big 5: respect, consideration, reciprocity, compassion, and openness. Compromising my Big 5 doesn’t work for me.

Another coffee, another day, made with love.

Another coffee, another day, made with love.


I sip my coffee contentedly, considering my traveling partner with a smile, considering my friend, my life, and the future of love. Today is a good day for The Big 5, and The Art of Being. Today is a good day to enjoy my experience. It’s enough.