Archive for the ‘inspiration’ category

The Saturday Book Shop – All Along You Were Blooming

February 20, 2021

The words of Morgan Harper Nichols wrap you in gratitude, in grounded open empathy, in beauty, in heart song — and especially in hope.



All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living by Morgan Harper Nichols is one of those books you can pick up at any time of day, read a few pages, and come away with a perspective polished up with grace. As beautifully illustrated as it is written, these poems shine light through the bumps, the worries, the hard unknowns, the shadows, the joys & Love—as if her hand unfurled a prayer through the pages.

An artist, poet, and musician, Morgan Harper Nichols’ work touches the weary, the wisdom, and wonder of life. Her compassion and kindness beams through in her writings and art, and she quickly grew a devoted audience on Instagram. This book is a blessing. And Nichols has a new book, How Far You Have Come, slated for release in Spring 2021. 

Morgan Harper Nichols has also just launched a phone app called Storyteller, that delivers daily messages of encouragement alongside beautiful original art. Enjoy the inspired talents of this extraordinary bestselling young author and artist. ❤️

 

The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart

February 13, 2021

Most book stores do not have a section labelled “Simply Enchanting”, but they ought to, and this book definitely falls into that category of undefinable magic (mixed with true science) that will no doubt make it a contemporary classic for young readers—and everyone young at heart too.

The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story by Maria Popova with illustrations by Ping Zhu is a children’s book that holds a fascinating story with down-to-earth wisdom alongside soaring wonder of the ages within its covers. (And if you’re a book printing/design geek like me, you’ll notice that not only the stunning pages, but even the end papers of the covers are delicately and brilliantly illustrated. The tiny details of book production, along with the inner workings of tiny gliding snails zing me.) Three years in the making, the book is quite timely, especially in these times:

“A love story, a time story, an invitation not to mistake difference for defect and to welcome, across the accordion scales of time and space, diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.” – Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s name is familiar if you’re a reader of her fabulous BrainPickings site where she mesmerizes us all with her passionate and poetic writings about all things books, art, design, poetry, music, marvels, philosophy: LIFE.

Popova is after my own heart here when she describes so wonderfully what I have long felt about the best of children’s books:

“Great children’s books move young hearts, yes, but they also move the great common heart that beats in the chest of humanity by articulating in the language of children, which is the language of simplicity and absolute sincerity, the elemental truths of being: what it means to love, what it means to be mortal, what it means to live with our fragilities and our frissons. As such, children’s books are miniature works of philosophy, works of wonder and wonderment that bypass our ordinary resistances and our cerebral modes of understanding, entering the backdoor of consciousness with their soft, surefooted gait to remind us who and what we are.” – Maria Popova

There’s more to Popova’s behind-the-scenes about writing this gem, as well as more photos of the gorgeous inside pages of the book here.

And while we’re on the subject of snails, and because it’s the day before Valentine’s, I’ll leave you with a little poem I wrote back in 2014 about embracing the spirit of snails and all they can teach us about unexpected blessings of perspective, whether we’re in full tilt hummingbird-heartbeat doings mode or embracing the reminders of slow and steady rhythms of just being that come our way … Happy Heart Day All! ❤️❤️❤️

OF SNAILS AND TRAILS
by Paula Boyd Farrington

 

I read about Totem Animals
whose essence shows The Way
The article said if you don’t know yours,
Be aware: it will somehow speak to you; show up during your day
 
And there you were
when I went out to the car
In plain view—a darling little snail
On the rear view mirror: driver’s side
 
Oh no, I groan …
I don’t want my totem to be a SNAIL!
Sluggish. Slow. Escargot.
No, thank you. No. Just … no.
 
But there you are again
In the evening dusk
climbing outside the kitchen window,
seemingly everywhere I look.
 
Oh my. Not what I wanted to see.
Why couldn’t I have glimpsed a National Geographic Gazelle?
A Lion. A Jaguar. A Hawk. A Flamingo!
Something powerful or exotic. Oh hell.
 
But there you are.
Carrying your likeness of a gratitude symbol
upon your mandala of a spiral shell,
your home right with you, wherever you may dwell.
 
Let me look closer, your antennae sweeping out
Stretching forward, inquisitively sensing the air
I watch you quietly know where you’re going,
on your own glossy path, climbing here and there.
 
Let me rethink this tiny powerhouse of Now
to warm to What Is
seeing anew the natural grace
In everything that lives.
 
This little snail is more than cute,
It fulfills an important role
Recycles organic matter,
Strong and steady it goes and goes.
 
And your giant ocean cousin?
All pink lipped with curvy shell,
known as an aphrodisiac,
her majesty feeds the islands well.
 
Named the Queen Conch.
She sometimes sports a pearl.
A royal snail in aqua seas
Classic beauty, a crown of whorls.
 
So can I embrace this totem tale?
As a celebration of gentler slower trails?
Of gliding along smoothly through time & tide?
The heart’s humble wisdom says: oh, snail—be mine! ❤️
Paula Boyd Farrington ©2014Oh! And one last time-oriented p.s. … I had the pleasure of getting to create the art for the cover of this Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue coffee table book (and wrote a poem inside about my first flight to Exuma!). The book is filled with gorgeous photos by Alessandro Sarno, holding a reverent gaze on life in this beautiful chain of islands surrounded by some of the most stunning clear ocean waters anywhere. It’s perfect for anyone who loves The Bahamas or whose heart wants to visit. The publisher is offering a 20% discount through Valentine’s Weekend. Link to the site is here.

 

Enjoy & see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

 

The Saturday Book Shop – How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

February 7, 2021

February is Black History Month—a nationally recognized celebration that asks all Americans to reflect on accomplishments, contributions, and the significant roles African Americans have played in U.S. history. This book, How Long ’til Black Future Month by award-winning bestselling author, N.K. Jemisin, asks compelling questions, weaving personal histories and vivid future speculations throughout her first collection of short stories. This contemporary science fiction is told with deftly bold imagination: thought-provoking + mind-and-heart-expanding.

  

From the back cover blurb:

“One of the most exiting and original new voices in modern fiction. N.K. Jemisin’s work has been described as “intricate and extraordinary” (New York Times) “astounding” (NPR Books) and “break[ing] uncharted ground” (Library Journal). The first writer in history to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row, Jemisin equally challenges and delights in her first collection of short fiction with narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. How Long ’til Black Future Month offers the perfect introduction to one of the most important writers of her generation.”

Black Imagination, curated by Natasha Marin, is a diverse sample of black voices, as noted on the fly leaf:

” … This dynamic collection of Black voices works like an incantation of origin, healing, and imagination. Born from a series of conceptual art exhibitions, the perspectives gathered here are nowhere near monochromatic. Each insists on their own variance and challenges every reader to witness for themselves that Black Lives (and Imaginations) Matter.”

• CLICK HERE FOR OPRAH’S LIST OF 125 BLACK-OWNED BOOKSTORES IN AMERICA THAT AMPLIFY THE BEST IN LITERATURE.

• FOR MORE BOOKS ABOUT BLACK HISTORY,  CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND SELECTIONS FROM THE ICONIC INDEPENDENT NYC STRAND BOOK STORE.

• THERE’S ALSO A WONDERFUL Bravery Magazine LIST OF BOOKS THAT INSPIRE BRAVERY: BLACK HISTORY BOOKS FOR KIDS HERE.

And a reminder to check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-round Onward Book Club devoted to spotlighting, studying, and celebrating the work of Black female authors at the link here.

See you next week at The Saturday Book Shop …

  

 

The Saturday Book Shop – The Lost Spells

January 30, 2021

Just one exquisite little book today: The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris.

The simple majesty of this book gently opens your heart with quietly elegant poetry, rhyme, and riveting watercolors—an artful honoring of the natural world that is truly spellbinding in its sense of wonder.

I am admittedly writing this while still in the thrall of getting to stand in the glow of the recent Full Wolf Moon. Bathing in the moonbeams of the moment is akin to the celebration of language and devoted images attentively rendered here. I adore how the pages lift the spirit to the stars while keeping your feet firmly planted in the earth’s exceptional and softly soaring beauty and magic. An excerpt from the Introduction:

” … Loss is the tune of our age, hard to miss and hard to bear. Creatures, places and words disappear, day after day, year on year. But there has always been singing in dark times—and wonder is needed now more than ever. ‘To enchant’ means both to make magic and to sing out. So let these spells ring far and wide; speak their words and seek their art, let the wild world into your eyes, your voice, your heart.”

The Lost Spells is a “little sister” to 2017’s The Lost Words — another treasure by the same author and illustrator. There’s a delightful video interview with the author here (thanks to the fabulous Waterstones in London). In the video you can glimpse some of the amazing illustrations and hear select readings by Robert Macfarlane along with his thoughts and backstory in creating these inspiring works.

Thank you for visiting The Saturday Book Shop. So wonderful to get to share enthusiasms for books here (or in the comments if you wish).

AND A REMINDER OF OTHER WONDERFUL PLACES WHERE BOOKS ARE CELEBRATED

I am especially fond of the marvelously thoughtful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, Austin Kleon’s brilliant and eclectic weekly newsletter and blog, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s new Onward book club as sources of sharing a wide wealth of writings and books. Well worth being on their mailing lists.

That’s it for now, other than a plea to support local independent booksellers whenever you can—these intrepid entrepreneurs have made the publishing world go round for a long long time and are essential nooks of civilization and creative caffeine everywhere!

Here’s to all the writers and artists and wonder-seekers who creatively lose themselves in the zone of conjuring natural-found joy and magic through their reverent gazes.

Monday Musings

January 25, 2021

Mixing up a vintage ARTChix mermaid image with layers of ink painted papers, and wisps of photos for a digi-collage ocean dreamscape to gently stir the imagination when it’s easy to feel a bit underwater these days. Wishing you waves of whimsy and wonder splashed throughout your week … 🧜‍♀️

The Saturday Book Shop – Trees, Glorious Trees

January 24, 2021

Welcome back to The Saturday Book Shop (which originally started here.).

The ongoing and everyday marvel of trees is on my mind this week. Books and trees. Trees and books. They are intertwined and connected at their very essence. We leaf through stories, ideas, adventures, wisdom, poetry, insights, and shared written human experiences thanks to pages made (mostly) from trees. 

I have long been enchanted by trees. And books. So many. Highly recommend these books for fellow tree lovers:

 This beautiful coffee table book, Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, with gorgeous photography and writing, tells tales of 50 of the most historic and inspiring trees around the world. Wonderful to learn there is a tree that still stands on the site where the Magna Carta was signed, as well as learning where the phrase “knock on wood” originally came from. So many moving, uplifting, and poignant stories told here through the living spirits of wise old trees.

Another favorite story, beautifully written and illustrated is about Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

Wangari Maathai’s story is an amazing portrait in courage, dedication, and commitment, where the simple act of planting trees sparked resistance and equal determination to reclaim the environment of her beloved Kenya. Her determination led to a movement of peace, reconciliation, and healing that lights the way for all of us going forward into this time of looking for common ground and changing the world one loving, earth-friendly tree-loving act at a time. This inspiring book soars with light and life and spectacular illustrations.

AND HOORAY for the new books soon available by Amanda Gorman, the young poet and self-described bookworm that wow-ed everyone at the Inauguration. Such heart and talent. Brava for her work and books that will be available in 2021


 

“… there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; if only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman

 Happy Reading and have an especially lovely tree-appreciating week ahead! Please feel free to share any special favorite book titles about trees in the comments!

The Saturday Book Shop – Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 16, 2021

The enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his life’s work is celebrated in the United States this weekend. Seemed an apt moment to spotlight the last book he wrote, which is, sadly, still timely: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? The issues addressed in his book echo deeply today, and point the way forward for fulfilling the dream of civil rights. For the important work of amplifying dignity. For increasing equal opportunity and equal justice under law. For protecting voting rights. For uplifting a living wage. For well being for all along the road ahead. For coming together in kindness and caring in everyday acts of service that matter even while isolating at home. (Thanks, CNN, for a great list of ways to serve, even from home, here.)

From the publisher’s overview:

“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.”

There’s also a great list of 20 Martin Luther King Jr Books in Honor of MLK Day here.

Here’s honoring hearts and hands coming together as we move into a new chapter. And here’s a link for re-listening to Dr. King’s I Have A Dream” speech. Will be thinking of that dream during next week’s Inauguration, and cheering for President-elect Joe Biden, and for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the first woman and first woman of color to be inaugurated as Vice President of the United States of America.

Dr. King took us all to church. Thank God for his life and the blessing of his leadership. May America move forward in healing with all due speed, peacefully, and forever in gratitude of his light and determination and grace. Amen.

 

 

 

The Saturday Book Shop – How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

January 9, 2021

Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings by Rob Brezsny is a book that I gladly turn to in both joyous moments as well as crazy, horrible times like what transpired in Washington D.C. last week. This book is a gem whenever we need to catch our collective breath and pause to gather strength in fighting the good fight and renewing our focus on becoming a maestro of “rowdy bliss”, as Brezsny likes to say.

Brezsny’s writing helps re-gather a focus on beauty and truth, even in the midst of being witness to a Wannabe Tinpot Dictator extolling the virtues of America’s “freedom” while abdicating responsibility for preserving the hard-fought democracy foundations needed to keep “equal justice under law” moving forward and shining Liberty’s light, albeit imperfectly. Brezsny’s optimism doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the horrible and tragic in the world. His work is more thoughtful and intelligent and eye-twinkling-good-mischief-kinda-gonzo than that. I adore his unique way of reminding us how much more we have going for us even during challenging times, and it helps me re-ground. I needed it today. Here’s a quick excerpt from the book:

“Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up. Through some magic you don’t fully understand, you’re still breathing and your heart is beating, even though you’ve been unconscious for many hours. The air is a mix of gases that’s just right for your body’s needs, as it was before you fell asleep.

You can see! Light of many colors floods into your eyes, registered by nerves that took God or evolution or some process millions of years to perfect. The interesting gift of these vivid hues is made possible by an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun, which continually detonates nuclear reactions in order to convert its own body into light and heat and energy for your personal use.

You can’t live without the sun’s inexhaustible flood of unconditional love. Every move you make depends on it. Luckily, it never fails you. Did you know that your personal star is located at the precise distance from you to be of consummate service? If it were any closer, you’d fry, and if it were any farther away, you’d freeze. Is that just a happy accident? Or is it a sign of favor—a big, broad hint, from a cosmic intelligence that adores you?” — Rob Brezsny

Here’s to January 20, 2021, and to all the long-neglected work we will get to begin as the country turns a new page. God Bless Us All (and especially the amazing Stacey Abrams and all those dedicated volunteers who work to champion voting rights!) … and God Bless The United States of America (which has a beautiful little booklet called “The Constitution” which could probably use an amended edition).

“The American Dream & Experiment: Held Together with Safety Pins (There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen)” ©2016

All for now. See you next week here at The Saturday Book Shop …

The Saturday Book Shop – January 2, 2021

January 2, 2021

“A hymn of love to the world.”

That’s what author Elizabeth Gilbert says about the book I want to share with you today—and what a true description it is.

I am totally enthralled by Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

What a treasure this book is. The stories captivate with a blend of gentle beauty, facts, history, reverence, humor, and gratitude that are expertly and unforgettably woven together to help: “…people remember that what’s good for the land is also good for the people.”

It seems a good place to be, here in this first Saturday of 2021. A place where we’ve had more time to reflect and pause to notice the generous gifts of the earth while contemplating how we reciprocate that grace and care. This is what Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about so well, so wholeheartedly.

My beloved Bahamas is right now facing a potential threat to the pristine, abundant, and incredibly gorgeous waters that surround their 700 cays and islands. Pleas, petitions, and every know legal action and prayer are engaged today in urging that no further licenses be issued to drill oil in these irreplaceable waters. To risk an oil spill is unthinkable. The current administration did not negotiate the current drilling permits and has stated their opposition to it. Public support in The Bahamas and abroad is strong to cease the oil drilling, and it needs to be stronger yet. If you want to sign this petition to help save The Bahamas from oil drilling, please sign here. More background information on the situation is here.


… AND A REMINDER ABOUT MORE PLACES TO FIND WONDERFUL BOOKS & TERRIFIC WRITINGS ABOUT BOOKS IN THE NEW YEAR …

In my original post about the start of The Saturday Book Shop, I noted that I’m especially fond of the marvelously thoughtful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, as well as Austin Kleon’s brilliant and eclectic weekly newsletter and blog. Elizabeth Gilbert has a new Onward book club that’s worth checking out too. All of these sources offer a wide wealth of writings and inspirations about books. Well worth being on their mailing lists.

That’s it for now, other than an ongoing plea to support local independent booksellerswhenever you can—these intrepid entrepreneurs have made the publishing world go round for a long long time and are essential nooks of civilization and creative caffeine everywhere!

What are you reading to begin this New Year? Would love to hear what’s on your nightstand table or in your book bag or e-reader if you want to share in the comments. See you next Saturday … 📚

“A book is a present you can open again and again.”

 

The Saturday Book Shop – December 26, 2020

December 26, 2020

It’s a glorious blue-sky, warm-sun and briskly BEAUTIFUL day-after-Christmas here in the warm-winter tropics of South Florida. Far too fine to be doing anything but masking up and being out enjoying all this not-too-hot, not-too-cold kinda bliss. Whether you’re reading this in the midst of a magical snowy wonderland up north or grabbing a sweater for a walk along breezy island shores, this is the sort of moment to really celebrate the complex blessings of our environment. And this book, The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, does that so well …

In an excerpt from the flyleaf:

“In this impassioned and inspiring book, world-renowned marine ecologist Enric Sala illuminates the many reasons why preserving Earth’s biodiversity makes logical, emotional, and economic sense.

Using key moments from his own scientific awakening (and introducing us to a colorful cast of teachers and colleagues along the way), Sala reveals that out survival depends on all species. From microbes to mammals, from seaweed to sharks, every living thing plays a crucial role in our interwoven biosphere. The natural world, he explains, is a perfect circular economy, where every species, in life and in death, sustains everything else.

Sala also builds a cogent argument for the practical value of preserving our planet’s wild places, demonstrating the long-lasting economic benefits of establishing wilderness preserves on land and no-catch zones in the ocean. And, in a timely epilogue, Sala shows how saving nature can save us all, by reversingcondiqtions that led to the coronavirus pandemic and preventing other global catastrophes.”

I am enjoying his mantra for re-wilding our planet and the myriad bio habitat examples Sala provides underscoring how we truly are—all of us—in this together. It will be more important than ever in the new year to move forward with innovative ways of preserving our precious planet. Read the first chapter of the Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson if you have any doubt about that. Or watch the newly released George Clooney-directed The Midnight Sky Netflix movie for a touching and beautifully poignant tale that opens our hearts more fully to the urgency of saving the earth.

Wishing you a blessed New Year. And if you feel like chiming in here in the comments with where and what you’re reading (or looking forward to reading!), I’d love to hear it. Now back out to enjoy this gorgeous day …

 


%d bloggers like this: