Three Seeds Under

searching for wholeness in a fractured world

Archive for the tag “100 Things”

(100 books) 7 – Born to Run

I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run on a whim right after Christmas. The first day I opened it up, I read half of it in one go, then (buoyed up by that second-hand runner’s high) downloaded a Couch to 5k app, pulled on some sweats, and left the apartment before I could talk myself into doing something sane like making buttered noodles instead. Yeah, I don’t know what got into me either, except that I had suddenly become indignant at myself for denying my body what is, apparently, its God-given right to be able to run barefoot for miles on end.

Borntorun

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(100 books) 6 – Ecstasia by Francesca Lia Block

In the carnival city of Elysia, the land of youth, life is a sweet excess of costumes, parties, food, drink, and debauchery. Four friends live together there and play in a band called Ecstasia. Then their drummer, Rafe, falls in love with a tight-rope walker who has a secret linking her to Underground, where the elderly are banished. Their doomed romance drives the entire band to explore the shadows hidden beneath the city and in their own hearts.

Ecstasia

I read Ecstasia for the first time in middle school, and completely fell under its spell. I carried it with me nearly everywhere I went. I wore through three copies in nearly as many years — as you can see, my current is still ragged and dog-eared, the binding coming free. I read it so many times that I still have certain passages almost memorized. But why did it have such an impact on me?

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(100 books) 5 – The Wood Wife

In Bellingham, we lived in a haunted attic apartment an easy walk from downtown. On Saturday mornings, we slept in, then walked downtown for chocolate croissants at La Vie En Rose and coffee at The Black Drop. I used to bring my laptop to Boulevard park and write while watching boats move across the bay. We visited used bookstores, shopped at the food co-op a few blocks from our apartment, and caught live music whenever we could. When my car broke down, I didn’t bother to replace it — we lived right across from the bus terminal, and I could get just about anywhere I wanted to go by foot or public transit. I lived in a world of blues, greens, and grays; the bay, the evergreens, and the mountains all washed together, their edges smoothed and rounded by the constant rain.

When we moved to Yakima so that I could start my teaching career, it might as well have been another planet. Forget about walking — half of the streets didn’t even have sidewalks. The few city busses only ran sporadically. We drove everywhere — to the grocery store, to church, to my school, twenty minutes away. Most of the buildings were tagged with graffiti. The best bookstore was the now-closed Borders in Union Gap. Even the landscape looked different — it reminded me, more than anything, of the planets Spaceman Spiff explored in Calvin and Hobbes. The sun was too bright. The heat too oppressive. The hills on the horizon constantly startled me. I didn’t know a single person. The only familiar things were Drew and the cat, and both of them felt as shaken as I was, the three of us rattling around our enormous (to us) rental house like the dandelion seeds blowing across the front yard, scattered and adrift.

On my first day of teaching, I was a nervous wreck. For the past month, I’d had nightmares about out-of-control classes. I’d done my student teaching with sixth graders, but here, I’d be working at a high school. I was terrified that the kids would be rude; that they’d hate me, or I them; that they’d break into fights; that they wouldn’t listen to me; that I wasn’t cut out for teaching at all.

That was the day Drew gave me a pair of turquoise earrings, along with the little hand-drawn charm:

Protection

The bunny girl stands for me. I love bunnies. But the turquoise, the spirals, the “for protection,” all of that came from The Wood Wife, by Terri Windling.

Woodwife

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(100 books) 4 – Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

I’ve always loved the idea of waking early and setting aside some time in the morning for spirituality — a walk to the park, a session of morning pages, a few minutes of prayer or meditation, or even a chapter in an inspirational book. Since I began teaching, those mornings have been much rarer than they used to be. In an effort to encourage myself to wake up earlier, I set up a little altar space in the living room, complete with a full-spectrum sun lamp, a chalice, and a basket of books.

My altar
Here is a little snapshot of my altar I took using Instagram. The tulips were a gift from my husband; the Persephone and Hades plaque is a recent find from Seattle.

Despite that incentive, I still struggle to drag myself out of bed with any time to spare in the morning. That is why it took me several months to make it through Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

The care of the soul

At any rate, even as I closed the last page of Care of the Soul a few months ago, I knew that it would be a book I’d refer back to often. Sure enough, I’ve been thinking of it a lot lately, maybe because my husband, Drew, recently referenced it in his learning blog. Lately, I’ve been struggling to find a sense of stability in my life. I find myself craving the structure of purposeful discipline. Too often, it’s a struggle just to eat dinner before 9 o’clock. I’m trying to impose some order on my life, chipping away at the chaos with a day planner and the sort of desperate smile that stretches our faces just before we burst into overwhelmed tears. I knew at once that Care of the Soul would become a powerful ally in this quest for stability.

I found myself nodding when Moore wrote, “Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with “fixing” a central flaw as with attending to the small details of daily life, as well as to major decisions and changes.” Those small details are the ones I struggle with the most. It’s easy enough for me to scrub down my kitchen once a week, but so much harder to keep it clean, to load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters before bed so that I can wake to a clean palette for my morning smoothie and coffee. I want to learn to cultivate beauty in my life, for beauty nourishes the soul. And I want to spend another series of mornings re-reading this book — I feel like I’ve only begun to glimpse the lessons it can teach me.

This morning, again, I tumbled out of bed with barely enough time to shower, dress, and jump in the car for work. I’m going to bed too late again tonight. But I’m going to challenge myself anyway — I’m going to set my cell phone alarm for 5:00 a.m. tomorrow and scrape myself out of bed without hitting snooze a dozen times first. If nothing else, I’d like to spend 15 minutes with my mood lamp and a cup of coffee tomorrow morning. It’s a little thing, but it is on such little rituals that we build the foundation of our lives.

(100 books) 3 – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Next in the 100 Books challenge is a far more recent read — Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. For the past few years, I’ve been slowly working my way through the mythic fiction reading list from the very-much missed Journal of Mythic Arts. I say “slowly” because, summer break excluded, my reading time since becoming a teacher is pretty much limited to ten minutes or so snatched before bed a few nights a week. If it weren’t for Audible, I would probably be one of those Americans who only reads a book a year.

Well, probably not one of those Americans. But maybe only ten books . . .

Anyway, I’m always happy to find books from the reading list on Audible, so last spring, I downloaded Kafka on the Shore. It completely transfixed me. I actually found myself inventing errands that involved driving just to keep on listening to it. Part of that is the performance — Oliver La Sueur and Sean Barett do a phenomenal job of bringing Murakami’s characters to life. But the performance alone doesn’t explain why I eagerly picked up my own paperback copy of Kafka on the Shore while at Powells a few months later, along with another of Murakami’s books, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

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(100 Books) 2 – Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint

Last week, I started off the one hundred book challenge with Monica Furlong’s Wise Child, a novel I loved as a child. This week, I’m highlighting a favorite from my teenage years — the wonderful collection of short stories that provided my introduction to Charles de Lint’s writing.

Dreamsunderfoot

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(100 Books) 1 – Wise Child by Monica Furlong

This first in my series of books that have shaped my life is a children’s novel I first encountered in the fourth grade. Twenty years later, it is still one of my favorites. Monica Furlong’s Wise Child tells the story of a little girl growing up in a remote Scottish village. Nicknamed “Wise Child” for her big eyes and penchant for using big words, the protagonist is sent to live with the village witch, Juniper, when her grandmother dies. At Juniper’s house, Wise Child learns a bit about magic and a lot about love.

Wisechild

Although I initially loved the book for Wise Child’s initiation into Juniper’s magical world, one idea from Wise Child has remained with me as I’ve grown older — mindful domesticity.

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100 Things Challenge

I challenged Drew to the 100 Things challenge, and of course, he had to speed ahead and beat me to the first post while I was doing yoga! I guess I’ll have to try to be the slow and steady spouse in this challenge. Anyway, I’m going to be doing a series of posts on 100 books that shaped my life. My plan is to post one book every Monday. Entry one will be up in a few minutes, but I wanted to test out my new WordPress client with this smaller entry first.


{Take the 100 Things challenge!}

Anyone care to join in the challenge with us?

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