What I’ve Been Reading Recently…

So, it turns out that being out of school is much more conducive to picking up a volume of the written word and perusing it for pleasure.

In the past month I think I’ve read… 5 books? I’m losing count now. I figured that this prodigious amount of reading merited some reviews of these books. I’ve been excessively excited about most of them and dying to recommend them to people, so… thanks for being my guinea pigs! šŸ˜‰

Without further ado…

1. Immortal Diamond – Richard Rohr
My friend loaned me this book about a month and a half ago (maybe more? sorry, H, I’ll get it back to you soon) when I said I needed more spiritual reading for my mornings. What a powerhouse of a book. Reading it kind of made me think about being a Christian again. In the most non-traditional sense possible. At heart, I think I’m just a mystic no matter what religion it’s tied to. This book is all about transcending the ego (or transmuting/transforming it, depending on what language you’d like to use) and finding the immortal diamond within us all. That’s a really, really pithy way to describe the entire book. Honestly I just suggest getting it yourself if you are interested in any type of mysticism. It’s a great read. I honestly need to go through it again; there is SO MUCH there.

2. The Desire Map – Danielle Laporte
I mentioned this book in my last post. Danielle Laporte is a life coach and has produced an insane amount of material. This book came along right when my quarter life crisis first hit and I jumped at it. A blogger friend of mine was offering the opportunity to do an online book group for it and I thought it was the perfect opportunity. So I’ve been working through it now for about 2 months. Namely, I’ve discovered I’m truly motivated by the 6Ā core feelings (she calls them CDFs or Core Desired Feelings) thatĀ I mentioned in my last post – Sacred, Grounded, Belonging, Flow, Electric, andĀ Liberated. I’ve had these words for about a month now and I have definitely noticed them in all facets of my life. Furthermore, it helps me to live much more intentionally. Danielle recommends steering your entire life towards these feelings – her message? To feel good, of course! That’s pretty much the point of the book: figure out what feelings are core for you, and live in a way directed to them. AKA following your bliss. I highly recommend this book if you need a new way of looking at goals or if goal setting wears you out! I promise this version of it won’t!

3. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
This is the only fiction book I’ve read in the past couple of months, so far. And to be honest? I was not and am not impressed. Everyone was all ga-ga over this book and gushing about how SAD it was and how PROFOUND it was. Maybe it was supposed to be ironic? Maybe that was the point? I really don’t care. It was awful. It was another cliched cancer book, and I read a ton of those as a teenager so I am really over this trend. Plus, the entire plot was so predictable. I personally like creative, interesting, different books that radically shift one’s mindset on something. Like Perks of Being a Wallflower when it came out. Now that was a book. This one… well… nope. (Yes, it pretty much is NOT a book but a piece of cancer fan fic)

4. If The Buddha Dated – Charlotte Kasl
So, my therapist recommended this book to me months ago when I complained about feeling totally inept at dating and relationships with men. Of course I promptly ignored his book suggestion untilĀ I felt really desperate. Then I picked up this book. OMG you guys. I’m telling you. If you read ANY book on dating, read this one. And it’s not just good for people actively dating. It’s a spiritual approach to the whole thing (mostly Buddhist, but Charlotte is Sufi, Buddhist, and Quaker, soĀ it’sĀ not all Buddhist). It talks about centering yourself first and living out of a spontaneous authentic center as the basis for all you do. A-MAAHHH-ZING. Thanks, therapist… you were right, again.

5. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
I’m just finishing this book up and wow. I got it as an e-book from the library, and I have historically started out slow in reading e-books. Well, this book started as a slow read for me, and then I have absolutely devoured it. The mythic ideas throughout have been fascinating. I find myself realizing what he talks about – we live in a society that has no main myth. I can feel the ache while I read other myths, the longing for a core myth of my own and the relation in my soul to the myths he mentioned. They’ve become informative and transformative for me just in reading through this. This book has been hitting me in the gut and has provided several eye-opening realizations. Recommend, recommend! If you haven’t read it yet – DO!

Next up on my reading list, I have Island by Aldous Huxley, finishing off The Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and Many Roads, One Journey by Charlotte Kasl. That last one might be considered a bit blasphemous by some of my friends. But I like living outside the lines. I want a full perspective on recovery, not just a program one. And I’m curious to hear her perspective. I’ll let you know what I think after I read the book.

What have you been reading? What are some recommendations you have? What do you want to read next?

[Ps. I am NOT being compensated for any of these reviews – they are purely based on my own opinion]

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My Life is Full – Learning to Prioritize

It’s been in the last couple of months I finally started getting what people with a lot of time in 12-step meant by saying, “My life got really full.” Recently, my life has gotten very full.

Back a couple of years ago when I started recovery, I couldn’t tell you what I truly loved. I couldn’t tell you if I liked to rock climb, or mountain bike, or run, or take photos. I had lost myself completely, within my addiction and with the addiction of others in my life. (On that note, I definitely qualify for Al-Anon; someday I will work a set of steps in there, but AFTER I finish up my steps for my other 2 programs)

Today?

Well let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

First of all, there’s the random business of trying to get my blog out there, which takes a lot of work. Also, I’m trying to get a promotion at my job. I had my first interview this week and have a second one next Tuesday. So I’ve felt like I have to be on top of my game completely at work right now. Between both of those, that’s kept me a bit crazy.

Last Friday night (the 21st), I read a spoken-word poem at a poetry slam. I then left the poetry slam, went to a local coffee shop, and on impulse read the poem AGAIN to all the coffee shop patrons. I love spoken word poetry terribly much… at my first slam I knew that these were MY people. They got everything I’ve ever thought since I was 15 years old. It was like walking into a 12-step meeting for the first time, except slightly different.

On Monday night, I attended my Buddhist sangha that I am a part of and, thankfully, sat and meditated with my community for awhile. Lovely.

Then I went to a philosophy discussion group at a local coffeeshop, with a old friend turned new friend (long but awesome back story). We read a philosophy text before coming, and then discuss. Intellectual stimulation for the win!

The next morning, Tuesday, I had coffee with my mom before work. Just needed to reconnect with my mama, who I haven’t seen in awhile. šŸ™‚

Tuesday night, had dinner with aforementioned friend and her husband, one of the bright spots of my week. Her husband is the main person who was by my side the day of the shooting. We haven’t really connected again since, but I keep running into Candace, his wife, and we have so much in common it’s ridiculous. We talk about Rachel Held Evans and fundamentalism recovery and conflict resolution and feminism. It’s pretty much fantastic. So we decided to make it all official and be for real friends (haha). The whole night was fantastic and I’m still jazzed thinking about it.

I did make kind of a mistake on Thursday night when I went out with a work friend. She got drunk in front of me. I probably should have left earlier than I did. I didn’t feel at ALL jealous. In fact I was so glad that I wasn’t going to be regretting what I was saying the next morning, or feeling super nauseous, which when I’m in my spiritually fit mind, I HATE feeling – nausea is the worst (My drunk mind doesn’t give a f*ck, in fact it’s like it wants me to be nauseous). So it wasn’t the jealousy factor. It was just that, I have been really busy and honestly, have not been taking time in the morning to center myself. Being around that un-sober energy was really unsettling.

However, it showed me that prioritizing is very important for me. I’ve gotten off center a bit this week because I want to be open, friendly, giving, generous. Ā Those are ALL good things. The problem is when I ignore the inner voice that says “you need to say no to this right now.” I ignored that voice on Thursday night and had to really work to re-center myself. I’ve ignored that voice, too, that says I need to slow it down a little and take a little more time for myself, to ground myself in the mornings at least. (Good timing, too… I’m on Step 11 in my love addiction work – HA, Higher Power!)

I’ve learned a little though. I tried not to stay in self hatred about it. I pulled myself towards compassion today and just realized that centering myself is a huge priority for me, because I grew up in an environment where I was centered around someone else. It’s extremely important, vital really, for me to watch that now. But also to be gentle when I get off center because it’s such an ingrained pattern of mine. I learned it very well for 20+ years. So, it’s really okay, Laurie, that you’re off center right now. This feels normal for you so you just stepped back into an old role. Those were my sweet words to myself on Friday.

So then I went and saw a recovery friend. Talked to one of my sponsors. And went to a combined AA and Al-Anon meeting Friday night. A meeting Saturday morning. A meeting Saturday night. A meeting this morning. In other words, I made my recovery and my Higher Power a priority for me.

Today, I get why people say that their life is full and they have to make sure to keep recovery a priority. It’s happening to me. It’s beautiful, a miracle really! I couldn’t have imagined I would ever get to this place in life! I am beyond thrilled to have such amazing friends, such a lovely community both in and out of my 12-step work.

But it’s also really vital for me to remember why I got here in the first place. To touch back with my recovery community, with my program, with my step work. If I can stay in touch with that, and re-center myself with my Higher Power, I can keep the strength to say no when I need. I can say to friends, “No, I’m sorry, I need to go home now,” instead of pulling a Thursday night and staying in a place that’s pulling me away from myself.

Like the old-timers like to say… I have to make my recovery, and my spirituality, a priority. When I do that, all the rest will fall into place.