Archive | 1:58 pm

Women’s Journeys Better Than Fiction

12 Apr

on-the-way-to-satoriLately I have been thinking about some true life stories of women who have tackled the tough task of leaving it all behind and embarking on incredible journeys of self-discovery. I stumbled upon a book I once loved and it got me thinking that I’ve always loved these stories and soaked them up like great fiction. But in these cases, the stories are documented and real, and here are just a few I highly recommend.

On the Way to Satori was written by Gerta Ital, a German-born actress who entered a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery late in life. She recorded her experiences in two books, The Master, the Monks and I: A Western Woman’s Experience of Zen, and the one I read, On the Way to Satori: A Woman’s Experience of Enlightenment. Both books were published in German in the mid-1960s, but were not translated into English until much later. She recounted the physically and emotionally harsh conditions of being the first Western woman admitted to a Zen monastery.

Then there is The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey written by Taisha Abelar with a forward by Carlos Castaneda. Abelar, an anthropologist, recalls the mysterious and mystical journey which took her on many leaps of faith into the world of sorcery. In the late 60s, she was sketching in the mountains around Tucson, Arizona when she met a Mexican woman named Clara Grau. With intensity, gravity and fortitude, Grau convinced Abelar to visit her house in Sonora, Mexico– right then, and right there. Facing her own feelings of being directionless and confused about her future, she went. What followed was a powerful entry into a family of sorcerers which produced powerful healers and wisepeople like Castaneda.

eatpraylove1And more recently, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert hit a major nerve with women seeking purpose, meaning and real clarity in their lives. Though she didn’t shave her head or become inducted into a secret world of magic, Gilbert did have life-changing moment after moment in a global trek which spanned Italy, India and Bali.

The bottom line with all these fine reads is that the real experiences of these brave women have produced books that are as mesmerizing, surprising, enchanting and deeply inspiring as any novel you could crawl into. Check them out.

Solar System 101

12 Apr

My son is two years and four months old and he can name each planet in the solar system… in order… repeatedly. This makes me think that 1) I need to crack some books and 2) the kid is smart. He’s always been very verbal, but it occurs to me now– when I hear his sweet, chirpy toddler voice point out the difference between Neptune and Uranus (without laughing)– that I am in for the ride of my life.

Ben can also tell you who Galileo was, that the planets revolve around the sun, that the moon is very big, heavy, gray, beautiful and far away and several names of moons around other planets that I can’t remember. We’ve decided that Ben has quickly graduated from Baby Einstein to Cosmos within the space of four months. He asks questions, we answer them, and that is the heart of his learning process. This makes me uneasy about introducing school to him and we’ve been looking into a variety of options.

For now, when we learn about the universe and the world, I’m happy to say that Ben has the benefit of a scientific Dad and a poetic Mom. Yesterday, we clipped incredible pink cabbage roses, red knock-out roses and some other beautiful flora from our garden to give to our neighbors. When he asked, “why flowers, Mama?” my husband chimed in and said “plants and flowers clean the air and provide oxygen so we can breathe.” Then I said “flowers remind us that beauty is the fuel of life, and sharing it is one of life’s great pleasures.” Obviously, we don’t talk don’t down to Ben, and I think he “gets” more than we give him credit for.

I’ve been proud of Ben since the day he was born, and I know now that he has inherited mine and my husband’s deep love of learning, nature, play and words. But he can keep the trains. Yes, he definitely keep the trains.


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