Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Read Memoirs of a Catastrophe

1) Take Me home by Tessa Cunningham - 3 

When Tessa Cunningham's ninety-five year old father fell and broke his hip, it was clear that this previously independent man could no longer live on his own. A care home seemed the best option. But visiting him one day, he held Tessa's hand just a little too long, and in his eyes she saw the yearning he was too proud (and loving) to articulate: Please take me home. Tessa had just recovered from breast cancer, was in the throes of getting divorced, her daughters were leaving home (soon to head off to university). Already struggling with three of a woman's worst fears, battling bitterness and betrayal, she couldn't cope with any extra stress. And yet she found herself moving her dad in, along with his zimmer frame, collection of hearing aid batteries, monogrammed hankies and tins of Black Bullet mints. Her dad can't abide moaners, is given to tactless remarks and, as he's deaf, is definitely not the best listener in the world. Yet in the months that followed, his unexpected wisdom and irrepressible ebullience helped heal Tessa's pain. Written with searing honesty, Take Me Home is a funny, touching, inspirational story that teaches us the true value of contentment.

This was the first "catastrophe" book i read and i enjoyed it but i didn't feel connected with the author and despite all she had been through i didn't feel inspired by her journey.

2) Loves Last Gift by Bébhinn Ramsay -

Bébhinn Ramsay was only 31 when her husband died suddenly, leaving her widowed with two small children. In the aftermath of his death she tried to come to terms with the sense of lonelieness, loss, injustice, and devastation she felt at the premature death of the father of her children, and the great love of her life. Here we see Bébhinn retrace the steps of her relationship with Alastair from when they met and fell in love in London, to the birth of their two sons, to when he died over the course of three days while on vacation in America, to the days, weeks, months, and years that followed his death. In a searingly honest and at times heartbreaking account she describes the ways she tried to come to terms with his senseless death, and how, through opening her mind and her heart, she ultimately found acceptance, peace, and eventual happiness.

This was the second book i read.  I found it really moving and interesting as my worst fear is that G will die and how i will cope.  I got a few links to further reading from it.

3) Lets Take the long way home by Gail Caldwell -

“It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”

So begins this gorgeous memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell, a testament to the power of friendship, a story of how an extraordinary bond between two women can illuminate the loneliest, funniest, hardest moments in life, including the final and ultimate challenge.

They met over their dogs. Both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story, became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol, to their relationships with men and colleagues, to their love of books. They walked the woods of New England and rowed on the Charles River, and the miles they logged on land and water became a measure of the interior ground they covered. From disparate backgrounds but with striking emotional similarities, these two private, fiercely self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen. 

The friendship helped them define the ordinary moments of life as the ones worth cherishing. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this moving memoir about treasuring and losing a best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is a celebration of life and of the transformations that come from intimate connection—and it affirms, once again, why Gail Caldwell is recognized as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

Book 3, I found the descriptions of alcoholism in this book.  The loss of her best friend was detailed movingly and realistically   I felt emotional thinking about those i do not want to lose.

4) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank  ★s

In Amsterdam, in the summer of 1942, the Nazis forced teenager Anne Frank and her family into hiding. For over two years, they, another family and a German dentist lived in a 'secret annexe', fearing discovery. All that time, Anne kept a diary.

An intimate record of tension and struggle, adolescence and confinement, anger and heartbreak, Anne Frank's diary is one of those unique documents, famed throughout the world, that portrays innocence and humanity, suffering and survival in the starkest and most moving terms.

I was amazed at how well Anne wrote.  I also found it good to know that teenagers were the same then as they are now.  The diary was sweet, funny and heartbreaking.  I was so happy when she kissed Peter.

5) Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat

In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just sixteen years old, was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death for political crimes. Until then, her life in Tehran had centered around school, summer parties at the lake, and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.

Soon she was arrested with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two guards interrogated her. One beat her into unconsciousness; the other, Ali, fell in love with her.

Sentenced to death for refusing to give up the names of her friends, she was minutes from being executed when Ali, using his family connections to Ayatollah Khomeini, plucked her from the firing squad and had her sentence reduced to life in prison. But he exacted a shocking price for saving her life -- with a dizzying combination of terror and tenderness, he asked her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith for Islam. If she didn't, he would see to it that her family was harmed. She spent the next two years as a prisoner of the state, and of the man who held her life, and her family's lives, in his hands.

Lyrical, passionate, and suffused throughout with grace and sensitivity, Marina Nemat's memoir is like no other. Her search for emotional redemption envelops her jailers, her husband and his family, and the country of her birth -- each of whom she grants the greatest gift of all: forgiveness.

This was a wonderful / awful story.  It was moving and made me realise how lucky i am to live in a "free" county.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Imitate a Spiritual Leader - Mata Amritanandamayi Devi


  • In this universe it is love that binds everything together. Love is the very foundation, beauty and fulfillment of life.

  • Is God a Man or a Woman ? The answer to this question is neither---- God is That. But if you must give God a gender, God is more female than male, for he is contained in She.

  • Look at the optimism of Nature. Nothing can stop it. Only the ego makes humans pessimistic, and this causes suffering.

  • Only when goodness awakens within, will one's personality and actions gain beauty and strength.

  • Serving the world with love and cooperation, you will find your own true Self. As you help those in need, selfishness will fall away, and without even noticing you will find your own fulfillment.

  • When love overflows and is expressed through every word & deed, we call it Compassion. That is the goal of religion.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Happiness Project - August

August Resolutions:

  • Read memoirs of a catastrophe
  • Keep a gratitude notebook
  • Imitate a spiritual master
The spiritual master i will be imitating will be Mata Amritanandamayi 

I plan to read The diary of Anne Frank.  I don't know if this technically counts as a catastrophe but i think it does.

I already try to keep a gratitude notebook but i'll try and be more regular with it.

My July resolutions went well.  I tried to but needful things including a radio for work and starting my christmas shopping.  I also bought a nice dress and some jewelry to go to wedding.