Book Review: My Father’s Writings

 

For as long as I’ve known Jim Durham, he’s been a man who’s scribbled his writings and presentations on cocktail napkins.  In every conversation, you see his mind running a million miles a minute and you just know he’s inspired to think about something new, explore a different direction and somehow find a way to put it all together for you.

That’s what he’s done in My Father’s Writings:  An Inspiring Journey through Life, Love and a Lifetime of Memories (Balboa Press, 2012).  He’s collected and compiled years of his Holiday Letters, musings, poems and heart-felt stories into a single book.  While the writings are pure Jim, he uses a third-person literary device wherein a “son” compiles the “father’s” writings after the father’s untimely death in an air plane crash.  As Jim describes in the epilogue, “I think I needed to write about my writings in the third person to be comfortable with the inevitable, deeply personal revelations that flow from these words.”

Knowing an author personally changes the way you read the book.  In My Father’s Writings, I remembered some of the same stories Jim shared with me when we met at industry conferences or client meetings.  Sometimes, the “son” and the “father”  roles confused me — I knew in fact both were Jim’s alter egos.  Mostly though I was impressed with the time it must have taken to organize his various writings and then string them together in a story line.

The more I read, the more I confirmed that Jim and I are kindred spirits — seeking meaning in everyday actions and trying to find places for heart-rendering life events.  He tells the stories of his broken heart and joy in finding new love, in losing a child and adapting to life with a special-needs son.  We read about his professional success and fears of being good enough.  Through it all, Jim writes and these writings fill the book and punctuate his stories. He’s written a Holiday Letter for years (and I’m usually on the distribution list) that tries to make sense of life events and share connections between friends.  He shares the voice he’s found in making motivational speeches.  And he shares his hopes and dreams for how his writings might touch people.

“Have you ever thought about what your message would be to your family if you knew you were going to die,” Jim writes.  “Am I the only one who thinks about these things?”  No, Jim, there are lots of us like you — who wonder if we make a difference, who question our path and who appreciate how connected we all are.

It’s a lovely read.

My Father’s Writings is available at amazon.com

 

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Saved by an Angel: Book Review

18th century rendition of a guardian angel.

Image via Wikipedia

The light in the bedroom flickered and roused me from sleep.  It must have been 3:00 a.m.  I closed my eyes, hoping to fall back sleep.  Zzzzt.  The lights flickered on again but I defiantly kept my eyes closed.  Annoying, I thought and rolled over, confident I could find sleep and avoid the flickering lights for the rest of the night.  And then, the thought that completely woke me up flitted through my weary noggin:  “As you read Saved by an Angel, you’ll likely notice more of the interactions you have with your own guardian angels,” author Doreen Virtue (www.angeltherapy.com) wrote in the book’s preface.

Just a week earlier I started reading Saved by an Angel, somewhat sure it would be a quick read.  I was wrong.  Fourteen chapters are packed with individual, real life stories of people who, explains Virtue, have been saved or changed by angelic intervention.  Although I’d heard a great deal about Doreen Virtue and knew she was as much as of an “angel expert”  as any one could be — with a trove of angel-centered books to her credit — I had yet to personally read any of her material.  Although I consider myself a student of metaphysical books, angels had really not been my thing.

But there was beauty in starting my angel reading with more than a hundred stories from “real” people.  These first-person accounts span the gamut — from healing messages to help from mysterious strangers, from visions of deceased loved ones to answered prayers — and are tend short (a page or so in most cases) and simply written.  For example, in a story called Illumination, a young woman sees an ongoing car headed straight at her and then sees the car illuminate in a “glorious light” and knows her life will be spared.  It is.  As she tells her story, she relays, “Not that I don’t believe in angels, but nothing like that had ever happened to me!  I know now that my vision helped me more than I can understand…..” Sincere stories like this are not easy reads.  After I’d read a story or two, I put the book down to think about them.  What was the author’s motivation?  Why would they submit the story for publication?  In nearly every case, a single angel intervention changed someone’s life.  The compiled stories are compelling and inspirational, not at all what I expected when I considered reading the book.

Following the many stories, Part II of the book includes Virtue’s plan for readers to see their own angels.  At just 32 pages (of 253), it is the smallest section of the book and provides strategies for angel-viewing enhancement — Virtue says many of the same techniques she teaches in her popular seminars and programs.  Her seven-day plan includes stocking up on “earthly supplies and shop for foods that will enhance your psychic ability” including fruits and vegetables as well as specific meditations, journal writing, chanting and the like.  As someone who’s life was saved by an angel during an armed carjacking in 1995, Virtue has dedicated her life to researching and teaching about these sorts of experiences.  As she notes, when Baylor University conducted a survey of 1,700 American adults (many of whom didn’t consider themselves religious) in 2008, 55% reported that they have been “protected from harm by a guardian angel.”

Statistics aside, I enjoyed reading the real-life stories and felt a connection to each of them.

And so there I lay watching lights flicker in the middle of the night, half-wondering if an angel was going to appear or some other strange hijinx might ensue.  Slowly I folded the comforter back and crept over to the light switch.  Here I discovered that someone had left the dimmer switch on just a tad, which more than likely create the electrical charges from the lights.  Or had it?

When you read a book about angels, it’s important to keep your mind open.

Saved by an Angel by Doreen Virtue is available for purchase via Hay House (http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?id=5614) and at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

 From time to time, I review books from Hay House authors.  www.hayhouse.com   I received the book from Hay House for review purposes and was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Book Review — Maps, Frogs, Artists: What’s Right for You?

As a new feature on Anne on Fire, I am now reviewing books from Hay House authors.  www.hayhouse.com   I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of our Life
Colette Baron-Reid

 The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life

“We change the world from the inside out, and that’s why I’ve written this book,” explains Colette Baron-Reid in the introduction to her book, The Map:  Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life.  It’s a theme that has resonated with me since the early 1980s when my sister Susie gave me a copy of Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming by Richard Bandler (Paperback – June 1979).  The theme reappeared in the 1990s when I began reading Sonia Choquette’s (www.soniachoquette.com) work about spirit and the way we can consciously raise our vibrations. The theme returned to my desk again a couple of years ago when I finally read and followed the daily writing instructions in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (www.theartistsway.com). 

That the confluence of all the thoughts and theories from these other books flowed forward while reading The Map made it a truly integrated and enjoyable experience, even if I doubt I’ll follow the exercises to the letter of the law like I did with The Artist’s Way.  The beauty of books like Baron-Reid’s for me is partly in gaining a peek inside someone else’s creativity and ways of coping.

In The Map, Baron-Reid suggests we become our own oracles and traverse through a metaphorical map of life’s archetypical characters and situations to find personal peace and meaning.  Her magic lands, wands and companions remind me that there is no one best way to do anything; but that finding a talisman that works to put life in context at the different points of our lives is something valuable.  

Neuro-linguistic programming co-founders, Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder, believed that NLP would be useful in “finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives.  They advocated the potential for self-determination through overcoming learned limitations and emphasized well-being and healthy functioning. Artist’s Way author Julia Camera challenged the label of being a called creativity expert, explaining, “My books are not creative theory,” she explains. “They spring straight out of my own creative practice. In a sense, I am the floor sample of my own tool kit. When we are unblocked we can have remarkable and diverse adventures.”

In the same way, Baron-Reid is her own magic wand, sharing how the techniques in the book brought together the threads of her own story and gave them meaning.  An addict, the daughter of a closet Holocaust survivor, a bulimic and an intuitive, she says she sought out her own way to heal her life.  Her hybrid approach to doing so is The Map and by her own words, it was a process that transformed her.

Both Cameron and Baron-Reid are alcoholics and I was struck by how they both have created worlds of somewhat strict context for themselves and for the price of the books, for others.  Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has sold more than 2 million copies so certainly her disciplined approach to bringing out the artist within can work.  While I agree that creating a framework is useful, I personally like to hop between approaches and try out any number of them, not getting too fixed on any one for too long.  I prefer being more of a self-awareness dabbler and that is why I liked Baron-Reid’s book.  It seemed that she too has dabbled and in The Map, brings together her favored outcomes to guide her life.

For any student of self-awareness, that is the challenge:  How to find the kernels of both structure and meaning so that you feel good in your own skin and confident on your journey.  To my way of thinking, it doesn’t matter whether you follow a map or NLP or an artist’s way – and they may actually be the same things just packaged in different ways.  What matters is the self-awareness and for that, The Map may just be your key.

The Map is available for purchase on the Hay House website http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?id=5286 as well as at www.amazon.com  and www.barnesandnoble.com.