Secretary Clinton and Dr. Clinton are the perfect choices to co-author a book on women’s courage and resilience with over 100 examplesof other courageous and resilient women throughout their lives. Each profile is given respect and admiration and both Clintons strive to express how these women influenced and affected their lives. It is such an important book for young girls to see and read about those who have come before and led the way to our present. One day, some of us will be in a similar book recounting how we changed the world for the better.
I have a daughter who I would describe as courageous and resilient. She’s as kind and generous as she is self-absorbed (as all teenagers are wont to do), but while being kind, she is also someone who stands up for herself, and will not hesitate to give you her opinion. She is the best of me. I hope to be her when I grow up.
The Book of Gutsy Women can be found for purchase in any bookstore, online retailer, and as an e-book as well as borrowing it from the library. However you can get the book, you should read it. I read about five profiles a day, sometimes more.
It’s a great way to start off Women’s History Month.
I’ve spent a couple of days looking at Florida’s list of banned books, and it is disproportionately authors of color. There are many with authors and references to LGBT+ issues and information, but diversity seems to be the “problem” for Florida’s governor, from banning books about Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente to calling the AP African-American course “contrary to Florida law” and states that it “significantly lacks educational value.”
There is a list of 176 books from one county alone. I’ve chosen a few to highlight the ridiculousness of this ban. I will say that some of the books on the list are not for all ages, but almost no book is. That is where parenting comes into play. I help my own kids choose books, and when I have a question (which I have had in the past) I speak to the teacher, and we sort it out. I try not to censor my kids, but I do if I need to base on age-appropriateness.
I will also say, in all fairness, that many of the books on the list will be returned to the school libraries after they are examined and approved. I wonder what is the point of having a professional educator and librarian who spend years becoming experts in their field only to have a parent, who has a bias against certain kinds of books make the decision for all the parents in the school system. It makes no sense. And yes, I will stand by my characterization of a biased parent. Look at some of these books (these are in no particular order, and you may google them for descriptions, but some are obvious).
Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller by Doreen Rappaport and Linda Kukuk
Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac
Time to Pray by Maha Addasi, Ned Gannon, and Nuha Albitar [If this book was about Christian prayer, do you think it would have been questioned?]
Thank You, Jackie Robinson by Barbara Cohen & Richard Cuffari
My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Raot and Nina Sabnami
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan and R. Gregory Christie
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault, and Ted Rand [These are the same authors of Here Are My Hands, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, preschool aged books that I used when I taught early-childhood.]
Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin [What could this book be about?]
Celia Cruz: Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers and Julie Maren [In 2011, she appeared on a US postage stamp]
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Chief Seattle and Susan Jeffers [This is a book I used in early childhood programs often.]
Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII by Marissa Moss and Yuko Marissa Shimizu
Black Frontiers: A History of African American Heroes in the Old West by Lillian Schlissel
The #1 banned book is George Orwell’s 1984. Also banned are The Dictionary, The Bible, and Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl.
Profiles of banned books from Carnegie Mellon can be found here.
Banned Books Week will be the week of October 1 through 7 in 2023. In 2015, according to the Banned Books Week website, nine out of ten books banned contained diverse content. What does that tell you?
If you are having trouble finding a banned book in your area, and you are between the ages of 13 and 21, you can go online to the Brooklyn Library and get their e-card that lets you take out books online, so you can read the books. Email them at: email@example.com
If you are a New York State resident and teenager, you can apply for BPL’s free e-card here.
Another place to get information on banned books (and other books) is the American Library Association. They are the oldest and largest library association in the world.
Read banned books. Read all books. Speak up against this authoritarianism. We are on the slippery slope.
As promised on Instagram, a list of St. Brigid‘s symbols in the above sketch.
St. Brigid’s Cloak – she is said to have been at the birth of Jesus and wrapped him in her cloak. Her cloak has also been told to have grown when offered land for her monastery the size of her cloak. I seem to recall that I’ve also heard her cloak referred to as the night sky with constellations shining on or through it. (I will need to search out my notes and return later this week when I find it – I need it to be true!)
A mug of beer. St. Brigid is known to have turned water into beer, including a lake.
The Triskele. Not only a symbol of Brigid, but the triskele is a triple spiral, often meaning the three roads of life: past, present, future. It may also reference the Holy Trinity.
A Shepherd’s Crook or Bishop’s Crozier. Brigid is considered to have done the works of a Bishop in her position as Abbess of the monastery at Kildare. She led masses and preached.
Medieval-style Goose. She is often depicted with geese as well as cows.
A couple of years ago, I bought this Kindle book through a discount posting, and I read it daily for one year. It was eye-opening in many ways. The first was my introduction to Thomas Merton and his way of thinking and his life as a mystic. Another thing that struck me as mystifying was how much Merton’s words, written from 1952 to 1968 made perfect sense in today’s world with the upheaval here in the states with the 2016 election and subsequent events. It was hard for me to reconcile the timelessness of his words that fit so well in our modern world and with his death in 1968. I couldn’t believe that this wasn’t written that year or the year before I read it.
Each month’s journal entries begin with Merton’s pen and ink drawing or black & white photograph. Each day is an easy to read, thought-provoking way to begin your day. The entries have been chosen and edited by Jonathan Montaldo. As much as I wanted to read ahead, I disciplined myself and stuck to the meditation per day schedule that the book is written in.
Celebrate the anniversary of Merton’s birth (108 years) by beginning this yearly devotional today.
I keep reading on social media how the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a missing week. I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but I would offer that it feels like one, long continuous day. My husband has been working as have my kids, but the rest of the time it feels as though not a moment has passed, and now suddenly it is 2023, and we’re off to the races and making resolutions (not quite yet) and making our beds (ha, ha, I doubt it!), and trying to make this year better than the last.
Our year ended with my (hopefully continuing) recovery from falling down the stairs and being rear-ended and losing our (and finding another miraculously) car, so in some respects it will, well, I’m not going to jinx it. It will be what it is.
I heard a homily the other day about living in the present. I am not good at that. The homilist went on to say that looking back creates anxiety and looking forward to the future creates depression, something I’ve heard before, but being in the present moment will keep you grounded. It’s a nice idea, but like saying cheer up to the person with depression, it doesn’t quite work for everyone. Nothing does. We try what we will try, and hope for the best, and move forward. Just keep swimming as Dory says.
Although swimming’s not my forte.
Unfortunately, I did not complete my reading challenge. For the last several years I’ve chosen my age as the number of books that I commit to read for the year. I’ve surpassed that usually, but this year, I fell short: only 49 books. I have written more this year and I think that’s part of why my reading fell short. Any time I would have had for reading, I was working on NaNoWriMo and my book while also planning out next semester’s classes. I mentioned in another post that I’d like to plan a writer’s retreat, but that is in its infancy. I’m not sure that I could facilitate such a large undertaking, but who knows? I hadn’t thought about teaching classes (not seriously anyway), and while I’ve still been anxiety-riddled, I did get some good feedback, and that has helped my confidence and motivation.
For 2023, my reading challenge number is 56. I’ve already started with a couple of devotionals and a Michael Crichton book I started last month. My brother got me Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, one of the books on my wish list, so that’s next! Wish me luck.
We did have some astonishing things happen in the last few days of the year and since Christmas.
For one thing, we actually finished an entire bag of bagels without throwing any of them away wastefully. This might fall under miraculously because usually by the second bagel we forget we have them especially if it’s a workday.
We also completely finished our Christmas roast beef with no leftovers. We had our Christmas dinner, we brought a plate to our son who was working (complete with dessert), and I made two Shepherd’s Pies throughout the week.
We also discovered some new television, or should I say streaming? We had dropped all of our television and streaming services except cable (that’s going soon) and Disney Plus since we watch it all the time, but for vacation we re-signed for HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix. My son wanted HBO, so he subscribed, and Hulu was on a good deal, and we were waiting for the holidays to catch up on our Netflix shows. There are really quite a lot of things to watch.
We finished as much as we could of Stargirl, which has one more season before cancellation. I finally got to see Black Adam and Belfast, both highly recommended for differing reasons.
We also started Wednesday (wasn’t interested when I first heard about it, but I am obsessed – it is phenomenal!) and we finished Derry Girls. Today, my daughter and I are going to watch Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, after she gets home from work and after dinner.
Waiting in the wings are the Banshees of Inisherin and another re-watch of Spider-Man: No Way Home (I loved that movie!)
Writing Intentions are taking a bit more effort to form along with other New Year’s intentions. They will be in another post that I’m hoping to write this week. I’m also thinking of ways to earn money with my writing, but that is also for the more in-depth writing intentions post. I’ve seen writers I respect on Substack, but I’m not sure if that’s for me. I enjoy my time here on this site, and I don’t want to create several spaces that are just repetitions of one another. It deserves further study, and any suggestions and thoughts are welcome in the comments.
I’m hoping to keep up my optimism despite some sweeping changes, a few of which are/were unplanned and unwelcome, but moving forward is all that can be done this week and the next and reevaluate as things come up.
I’ve often talked and written about how profoundly life-altering it was when I returned from my first (and at the time I thought only) trip to Wales. It was barely forty-eight hours and yet it left an indelible mark on my soul. It led me down new paths that branched off and created new adventures and journeys within these past thirty-five years. If I recall correctly, that first summer was spent working at (the now defunct) Waldenbook’s bookstore, where as an employee I received a 33% discount, and folks wonder why I had less money at the end of the summer than I started with. I was straightening and dusting books, and performing an additional wide plethora of mindless tasks when I noticed a small mass market paperback book high on a shelf. It was the title that drew my attention: Here Be Dragons. I thought it would be fantastical and in line with my hobby of playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I was to be disappointed in that, and extremely gratified to discover that it was a novel based in medieval Wales centering on the life and world of the Prince of Wales, Llywelyn Fawr.
I was drawn into this story quickly. This is the only book that I’ve owned three copies of: one that I read several times and gave to someone to read, a new copy to replace that one, and a digital copy for my Kindle. There were two subsequent novels, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, now know more or less as The Welsh Trilogy. I was all in.
The author, Sharon Kay Penman had a way of bringing me into the medieval age, and I read the rest of her books – all of them – voraciously. Not one was a disappointment. One of the things that drew me so deep was Penman’s Author’s Notes, where she discussed and explained her researching process and she defined some of the things that seemed implausible but that had in fact actually happened.
Lady Joanna’s affair, the burning of the prince’s bed, and the execution of her lover. True.
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, the prince’s son was held hostage by King John and the terms of his release were detailed in the Magna Carta; yes, THE Magna Carta. True.
Eleanor de Montfort kidnapped by pirates. True.
And much more.
Earlier this week, I discovered that Ms. Penman died in early 2021. I am heartbroken, but I’ve discovered her last published book, The Land Beyond the Sea, which I began this afternoon. The memories of reading her well-researched and well-developed books will continue to inspire me as I continue to gain insight into the process of writing and the joy of reading.
“We’d become aliens in our own land,” he’d warned, “denied our own laws, our own language, even our yesterdays, for a conquered people are not allowed a prideful past. Worst of all, we’d be leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of misery and loss, a future bereft of hope.” ― Sharon Kay Penman, The Reckoning
“But in all honesty, I do not find it so peculiar a notion, that a Welshman should rule Wales.” ― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow
“Poor Wales. So far from Heaven, so close to England.” ― Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons
“Fretting about time’s passing will not slow it down one whit.” ― Sharon Kay Penman, Here be Dragons
“for each age interprets the past in the light of its own biases.” ― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow
Apparently, yesterday was World Book Day. I thought that was last month. Books are a central part of my day, every day. I’m currently reading four – two are religious books, one is a daily through Easter and the second is a weekly for the entire liturgical year. The other two are: Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy by Jamie Raskin Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir by Marie Yovanavitch
My Top 5 Books in the last six months are (and yes, I’m well aware that there are more than five books on this list.):
The entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could by Adam B. Schiff After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made by Ben Rhodes Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown State of Terror: A Novel by Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times Magazine Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci Mankiller: A Chief and Her People by Wilma Mankiller and Michael Wallis
I mentioned earlier today that I participated in a scavenger hunt this past weekend. The hunt consists of a long list of items to find, do, create and then submit for judging which occurs way in the future. Today with the hunt long over, I completed one item from the kids’ section of the list. These are items geared towards younger ages, usually for lower points because of their level of difficulty or ease. I made a bookmark (see below).
I might be asked why did I make this bookmark when the hunt was already over. It was one of the items that I wanted to do; I don’t know why, although it does do to remind myself and others of the importance and benefit of lists. They are certainly a valuable part of my mental health toolbox. Sometimes, I’d say they are essential and a powerful way to keep track of what I’ve done and what I’ve still yet to do.
Seeing it all laid out in brainstormed order with no numbers or priorities lets me see it all, and allows me to choose one or two to get done even on a bad day. Crossing each item off after they’ve been completed is a positive reinforcement that is beneficial to those of us with anxiety or depressive disorders as well as ADHD, autism, and a whole host of things that slow us down and get in our way, whether we’re overtly aware of them or not.
I’ve written previously of journals, and one thing I’ve done this season is use a small spiral notebook/journal that fits inside my purse to keep my master list. It’s handy and it’s easy and unobtrusive to sneak a quick look at. It also leaves me space to keep a master list and a grocery lists separate and along side it. At the moment, filing my taxes should be at the top of every list.
I wrote recently about my intense enthusiasm for the Amelia Peabody books, and one of the things that attracted me to Amelia and her style is her use of lists. Whether it’s for packing and travel, or solving the murder, or planning a dinner party for her archaeologist friends, her lists are indispensible.
This past weekend was spent in scavenger hunting fun! Since the pandemic, they’ve (GISH) been doing more and more mini-hunts to give people on lockdown something to do and raise money for charity. This most recent hunt was called a Book Bash and most of the items centered around reading and writing. My go-to’s if you will. With my writing retreat cancelled I found myself with nothing* to do so I signed up at the last minute.
[*Nothing to do means: cleaning house, taking a shower, going to mass, planning and cooking dinner, writing, preparing and filing my taxes, typing up interfaith meeting notes, writing and sending Cursillo reports, and half a dozen other things that are still on my to-do list, but hey who doens’t have 48 hours to spend aimlessly. I also signed up for a free vision journal workshop at a food co-op.]
Aimlessly doesn’t accurately describe the weekend, but I think you get the drift of the lack of impulse control I sometimes have.
Before I share the few items I did, I want to share the link to the charity that we supported with our registration fees: World Central Kitchen for their current humanitarian work in Ukraine. Their leader is Chef Jose Andres who leads with his heart and encourages giving especially where getting hungry people their necessary nourishment. If you have the mean, please give generously. They are on the ground in the world’s poorest and dangerous places, bringing hope with their meals.
Last week was kind of extraordinary. I am making great effort to attend Mass on Sundays on Facebook regularly, religiously if you will. There is a routine of the mass structure at our parish, and I’m sure it parallels many parishes: Music, Announcements, Prayer for the Deceased, Stand, Processional, Mass begins.
When there is a change to this, I can tell simply by who is milling about near the altar during the first musical portion. On this second Sunday of Lent, I saw our parish trustees. I felt tense. I felt anxiety creeping in and when they approached the ambo and stated that they’d be reading a letter from the Bishop, it did not help my tension and anxiety.
As I’ve mentioned previously (probably too many for some), my parish priest died suddenly in October and we’ve been waiting to hear about a new priestly appointment. This was that announcement. I held my breath, not that I have any control over the choice or know many of the priests very well, but still, I waited with literal bated breath.
It turns out that I do know this priest who will soon become my new priest. I actually cried. I was happy (and am) that he will be joining our parish. I’m feeling excited as I write this, nervous but not apprehensive and I think the announcement was the catalyst that set my week on the right path, although it was a very busy week planned (as is this one).
You will see from the labyrinth photos that I ran out of room and needed TWO more extensions. Unbelievable. The one negative was the my writing retreat scheduled for next week was cancelled, but again, I can muddle through and self-direct my own writing retreat while simultaneously doing a writing/reading scavenger hunt.
I had several close moments where I felt G-d’s presence palpably, I listened and learned, I wrote and I drew and I kept up with my readings. The week was overflowing with grace and spirit.
Looking back on last week, I am also looking forward to this busy week. Celebrated my son’s twenty-fifth birthday last night and today I am Zooming all day.