Archive for the ‘making a difference’ category

The Saturday Book Shop: Bisa Butler—Portraits

April 3, 2021

I am in awe of Bisa’s Butler’s art. Her work creates stunning and powerful portraits made from myriad vibrant fabrics and patterns, cut and stitched together with meaning and a depth that almost defies description. Her portraits speak of a multitude of life layers, generations, and experiences that are expertly woven into a new picture both moving and mesmerizing in its depth and humanity.

Bisa Butler—Portraits was published in conjunction with an exhibit by the same name that opened at the Art Institute of Chicago last fall, and where it continues through September 6, 2021.

The catalogue is exquisitely done. 96 beautiful pages of Butler’s incredible art, along with wonderful essays focusing on her influences, process, and stories held within the individual art pieces. Printed in Italy. Hardbound. This book leaves you feeling as if you almost got to be at the exhibit. Always better to get to see original art in person, but this book brings me closer, and I’m grateful for it during this time.

Bisa Butler’s work is a treasure. This catalogue captures both the intricacies of her art and how her work illuminates the family album of humanity.

Thank you for being here at The Saturday Book Shop for a few minutes during this holiday weekend amidst Easter — Passover — and Springtime celebrations of the Revival and Renewal of The Spirit. Hallelujah! ❤️🙏🏼❤️

The Saturday Book Shop – The Art of Aliveness

March 27, 2021

The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most is a new book by Flora Bowley, who taught me, via her Bloom True online course, about intuitive painting back in 2014.

Just released a few days ago, this book is about way more than painting. The stories she tells here are personal and leave me feeling as if I’ve just had a chance to sit in on one of her sought-after in-person workshops!

The timing on this book couldn’t be better as we all have this pause in the world to reflect more deeply on the underpinnings of creating a joy-filled life. Filled with prompts and exercises as well as generosity and vulnerability, this book applies the soulful “Be Bold. Let Go. Unfold” mantra into memorable lessons of discovery for forging your own empowered path of fulfillment. She shares her insights into moving effortlessly between both structure and free-flowing freedom—a fluid trust forged in strengthening intuition and self understanding. 

Flora Bowley has been a pivotal part of my own creative journey and I adore her work PLUS the way her practice of creativity flows through every aspect of her life. She taught me about layers. She taught me about contrasts. She taught me there’s no wasted paint. And that’s especially important moving forward as the layers of time are brushed on.

I can already tell this will be a read-and-reread kinda book favorite. I’m still learning. We’re all still learning and discovering and can use reminders of what we already know. The wisdom, pain, inspiration, renewal, and permission-giving Flora shares here encourages connection, reconnection, and living by creative wellness, whether you paint or not.

Here’s wishing everyone green new days of Spring sunshine, a beautiful full moon this Sunday, smooth vaccinations, a wonderful Passover, a Happy Palm Sunday, and paperbacks like this one by Flora that you can take along to read on your next walk, picnic, or pause by the water.

Always happy to hear what’s on your reading table right now or any book club favorites you’re enjoying. 

Thanks for being here and see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop.

© 2104 paula boyd farrington my first brave intuitive painting as inspired by Flora Bowley

The Saturday Book Shop – Dusk Night Dawn

March 14, 2021

I think I have a copy of every single book Anne Lamott has ever written, so I’m excited to read this new one that seems quite timely:  Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage. 

Anne Lamott has a way of holding all the ups and downs with a warmth, thoughtfulness, and smart sense of humor that somehow puts things into perspective with a quirky and endearing blend of honesty and steady grace. Her stories are seriously funny and rock solid in staying open to love, even when it ain’t easy. Uplifting and hopeful, without shying away from any of the awfulness out there, Anne Lamott helps renew the faith and the laughter within life’s most fallible and fabulous moments—quiet tender places where the heart asks the important questions and anchors us back to the divine roses within our thorny humanity. 

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers:  Hallelujah Anyway; Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; StitchesSome Assembly RequiredGrace (Eventually)Plan BTraveling Mercies; Bird by Bird; and Operating Instructions.

I can’t believe it’s time already to be looking at setting our clocks forward at the beginning Daylight Savings Time later tonight. Augh. Maybe a couple chapters of this new book will help me get through this annual “Spring Forward” transition that usually feels anything but!

Happy Reading All, and see you back here next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

The Saturday Book Shop – 100 Unknown Women

March 6, 2021

I love this book any time, but especially on International Women’s Day.

She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It by Hannah Jewell.

This book is witty, wise, WONDERFUL. Can’t recommend it enough. Amazing stories about women doing all sorts of things we didn’t know about because they were too often left out of the history books. Hannah Jewell is a terrific writer. Funny. Empowering. Memorable.  She’s created a totally bad ass tribute to forgotten women throughout history. Mega-inspiring. And laugh out loud funny.

The hot pink and electric chartreuse green drew me to the cover when I found this right after it was published 3 years ago. The stories and bold perspective kept me coming back to this book again and again for reminders about women who fearlessly and fully lived life. Colorful. Bold. Satirical and insightful. In the best possible ways. A little shocking. A whole lot enlightening.

Shake up your bookshelf.

Hope to see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop, which is published pretty much every Saturday talking about books I like. Love to hear from you in the comments about books you like and/or any page-turners you’re reading these days.

The Saturday Book Shop – Small Wonder

February 27, 2021

Small Wonder is a collection of essays by one of my all-time favorite authors: Barbara Kingsolver. This collection of essays was originally published in 2002 and written in response to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. Still, it feels quite timely in trying to wrap our hearts and minds around the unique challenges facing all of us today … holding fast to the little moments of life and love that make up the big picture—and making our natural inclination to hold hope and light more bearable, more together, even when we’re apart and it sometimes feels as if so much has shifted.

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I’ve only just discovered this book. I thought I knew all the books this author had written, yet finding it now just underscores the notion that we all get a glimpse of when being led to a book or re-reading a book: that it finds its way to us at just the right time and in just the right way to fully receive the precious stories it holds. Barbara Kingsolver’s unique way of capturing moments of loss as well as laughter—amidst the dailiness of myriad mundane miracles that often lead to the grandest ongoing hopes and resolve—makes her essays, novels, and non-fiction a complete joy to read. They’re inspiring like a glimpse of an early-rising wide full moon on a clear bright night. Thank you, Barbara Kingsolver, for writing, and for continuing to write.

The royalties from this book support the work of Physician’s for Social Responsibility, Habitat for Humanity, Environmental Defense, and the humanitarian aid project called Heifer International. The copy of the book I’m showing above is a hardcover copy. Paperback is also available (with a different cover).

From my bookshelf to yours … Happy Reading!

 

Would love to hear in the comments if you’re finding time to read these days and any titles that have caught your attention or favorites you’re re-reading.

Look forward to seeing you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop

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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 – 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.

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.

 

 

 


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