Tag Archives: books

30 Days of Wisdom — Day 9: So, We Meet A’Twain …


We are just humming along. It has been colder than cold here the last few days, but we don’t stop on the 30 Days of Wisdom Express. (That was super cheesy.)

Here’s today’s quote:

In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”
― Mark Twain
tags: bookroom, books, libraries, wisdom 7207 likes

Yes. My mom had tons of books; they are still there. Lots of books on art, literature, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Moliére, Hemingway, Chekov, Tolstoy, etc., it goes on and on. She had lots of books in gorgeous wooden book cases. Tiny books, big books, books with leather covers, books with paper covers. She loved books. I remember, as much as Twain’s quote is true, just feeling smarter by being near them. Of course, I would never touch them. That would belie my coolness; and it was practically verboten.

As a child, I remember the books were super important to Mom.

I remember her sitting on the phone for several calls’ worth of inquiries to different small and antique booksellers to find certain books. To Mom, books were more than books; they were statements.

Her private collection of books were much less fancy, but equally important. They were in my parents’ bedroom: they were paperbacks or huge volumes of literature anthologies, even trashy novels. The ones which were in book cases that lined the long hallway of our Buffalo house when I was growing up were in-between books: personal, but public and popular for the most part but they were still impressive; they were meant to be seen. You didn’t just “take a book to look through” from the living room. Adults did that or you would look at the books with her beside you.

Super-thin paper, she would handle them delicately, but anxiously. I didn’t understand it other than to know they were important.

Twain is right though — I did feel smarter just from being around them. I knew my mother’s collection of books was impressive and in some small way, because she was so taken by them, I was proud of them. Or was it envy?

This is heading in a direction that has nothing to do with the quote.

Back to the quote. Yes! A good book room will infuse you with wisdom. But I don’t get that same feeling from a large bookstore, do you? I feel like at a bookstore, it’s all about sales, not wisdom. It’s about getting you in to buy the book so you will walk away with the bag emblazoned with the logo on it. In a public library, I feel much the same way. The point of a library is that you are there to learn what you don’t already know. In a personal library, it feels somehow different. It feels like to me, that you can absorb the gift of the volumes simply by knowing they exist.

Books say a lot about the people who own them.

In my bookcases (yes, we have several) rhyme and reason have been abandoned. My books run the gamut from Nicholas Sparks to Malcolm Gladwell; from Homer to Dickens; from Anita Shreve to Roz Chast; from Twain to Schulz. Mom always gave books as gifts. I admired that for the most part, as I aged. When I was younger I really didn’t want them, but she knew how important they were. She bought me a set of very early editions of Babar the Elephant from a dusty old bookstore in Hamilton, Ontario. She also gave me her copy of Gone With The Wind and a host of others. She inscribed them all. As she grew older, the books she gave me became more playful. Now that I look back on that, I think it’s interesting. Just as I was ready to talk to her about my favorite writers, she started giving me Mary Higgins Clark mysteries, which I enjoyed. I also have books on yoga, spirituality, camp fire songs and card games. My books are for reading, escaping and enjoyment.

As for Twain, the same can be said of a fantastic art collection or a home filled with a truly loving family. When in a gallery, I feel smarter just by being sucked in by the art. When I visited the Ai Wei Wei exhibit last year at the Corcoran, I was immediately enlightened. When I’m in the company of authentic, loving people, I feel authentic and loving.

Any time you get a chance to hang out with books is a good time.

I haven’t spent much time with Mom’s books; it’s hard for me still. They all remind me so much of her. I’m sorry, I’m a little caught up. I’m writing this early — for me it’s Sunday and it was my dad’s birthday. He brought over a cake and I made lasagna. Mom wasn’t here, so it was our first one since she died and I’m feeling a lot of everything. I think that’s why I keep going back to Mom in this post. There’s simply no way for me to talk about books without talking about Mom. Gah. I’m gonna stop here.

Books are awesome. Never stop reading.

Thank you.

Missives from the Mat 6 — Meh-tough-is-icks. Re-entry and Resuming #numerology #kundalini #yoga #chakras #nabhi #kriya #bacon #metaphysics


Metaphysics. Argh.

So, coming back from the retreat, I’ve got lots of woo-woo on the brain. It’s normal and the week at the beach helped me to distill it with my logistical reality.

At the retreat I ate this:

vegetarian polenta lasagne. lots of amazing food like this for 16 days prepared by a professional chef. i was spoiled.

caprese salads and vegetarian polenta lasagne. lots of amazing food like this for 16 days prepared by a professional chef. i was spoiled.

At the beach I ate this:


bacon. tons of it. prepared by another and wholly separate (former) professional chef who also spoiled us.

My re-entry has been relatively smooth. There are bumps here and there. I’m trying very hard to get back into the yoga practice I enjoyed while on the retreat. It’s hard. I did a couple days’ worth before the beach trip but then I had to put the brakes on that completely while there because I didn’t want to draw too much contrast to what I experienced in the mountains versus what I was experiencing at the beach. Plus, if I’m paying any attention at all to the lessons learned or at least taught on the retreat, it’s two things: 1) to live in the moment and enjoy where you are; and 2) that there is no difference, per se between the experiences and no judgement of either. We are all existing together, not separately. It’s just the venues and the players that have changed, but in the essence of life: we are all doing the best we can every day to do the best we can.

So this morning, I was ready. I set my alarm last night and I woke at 6:30 (got out of bed at 6:45) to go to my office with my books and resume the mediation and the kriya assignment I’ve been encouraged to continue (start) to address my “path” number, 3, which also represents the 3rd chakra, which as the fates would have it, has really been my lifelong challenge/opportunity. So, yoga being what it is, it’s all tied together: the meditation and kriya is called the “nabhi kriya” and it also addresses the 3rd chakra. The 3rd chakra is the Nike chakra, the “just do it” chakra. It is represented by the color yellow (which is often a significant part of my dreams). Threes are sort of the middle child of the numerology world (from http://www.numerology.com/numerology-numbers/3) …

The number 3 is like a gifted teenager who is still under the protection of its parents: a bit spoiled, certainly scattered and perpetually in need of guidance. However, the most obvious traits of the 3 are in the creative field. A powerful need to express feelings, ideas and visions of the imagination, coupled with an extroverted personality, makes it likely that a person with 3s in key points of their Numerology chart will seek a career in art, especially the verbal arts. His or her social skills are also excellent. Charm, wit and a sense of humor help a 3 individual along his or her path, and if that weren’t enough, good looks and compelling charisma make this “kid” particularly attractive.

Blah blah blah. Tell me something I didn’t deny know. Look! There’s Elvis!

I have known for years, nay, decades, that I’ve had a special on-off relationship with my 3rd chakra. I love the guts it gives me to do some things and I bemoan the guts it requires of me to do other things. I’m great as a first-responder: I’m there with a lasagna, a joke and a shoulder when someone needs it. But when it comes to me… erm… Elvis? Anyone?

No wonder so many are drawn to those with 3s in their charts. Followers are even willing to forgive less favorable traits exhibited by 3s, like a lack of focus and direction, a tendency to procrastinate, an inability to finish projects and an unwillingness to take responsibility. On the other hand, there is a superficial side to the 3 that can be harder to look past: a narcissistic streak, a vanity, a need to be the center of attention. It is easy for the optimistic 3 to enjoy day-to-day life as long as all is well, but when challenging issues arise, it can become quickly apparent that most of the 3’s focus has been on that sunny exterior, leaving its internal fortitude lacking. Without much moral strength or spiritual depth, a 3 can easily succumb to difficulties unless friends and family move in to support it.

‘Internal fortitude lacking.’ OUCH. It explains some of my stomach issues, some of my food “sensitivities” and the fact that my lower back hurts because I perceive my lower abdominals as weak (I refer to the zone affectionately as “Midge”) and I honestly can say that I feel it “talking” to me from time to time.

For the 3 to become a well-rounded, balanced and happy person, it must learn discipline. Some lucky 3s who exhibit talent early in life (such as gifted dancers or musical prodigies) are placed in an environment with just the sort of discipline that a 3 needs to protect these talents. Another unique quality of the 3 is its tendency to be “lucky,” or rather, to be in the right place at the right time. This may be connected to its innate sense of rhythm; timing can be measured in seconds or in years, by the beating of a heart or by the movement of the stars. It is all only a matter of scale, either way, the 3 seems to be in tune with the cyclical nature of our surroundings.

Yes, I am keenly aware of timing, both internally and externally. I can sometimes feel my heartbeat in my forearms and ears if am still. I can hear it when I sleep, which I reeeeeeally like to do, so yep: guilty as charged on that whole ‘discipline’ thing. I used to be really disciplined… that’s the bad side of a 3: we can be obSESSive… (as I sing the “sess!” part).

So, my 3 needs work. My spiritual and effective weakness in this area was made crystal clear to me during the retreat. We were on the deck one day and were going over the chakras as manifested in the physical sense. I volunteered to demonstrate my 3rd chakra’s solidity and grounding anemic condition for all my soul sisters to see. It was humbling. I knew I was “weak” in the Nike department, I put up a good front and I do lots of physical and personal growth things that other people don’t or won’t do, but the thing I really want to do, the thing I was bred, raised, educated and groomed (and apparently numerologically destined) to do: write a book and get it out there, is my kryptonite.

Yet despite all my “YOU CAN DO IT!” memes, I’m still hiding in the corner under a threadbare blankie, looking for Elvis.

The way this yogini went after my 3rd chakra intention was with loving and supportive compassion, but with the precision and aggressiveness of an excimer laser. She was amazing. Why did I subject myself to this? Because I paid almost $4,200 for the entire thing and by God, I was going to get all I could out of it.  

I knew it then and I know it now: It’s no surprise to me that my 3rd chakra is out of balance. I even knew it was really out of balance. What blew my mind was that it was part of my numerology. But of course! Why wouldn’t it be part of my numerology? Fine… but my PATH? The very thing … the essence of what will bring me to myself?! Phuuuuuch.

So I’m in. I commit to at least 40 days of the nabhi kriya.

This morning I’m all alone; and that aloneness makes me very self-conscious. For the first time in a while, I understand what “strength in numbers” means (all references to numerology notwithstanding here).

What I learned this morning is that I’m rusty. I forgot to rub my hands together to create a connection between the left and right hemispheres of my brain. I forgot to put on some sort of music to keep me from wondering if anyone was walking outside the room.

Once I figured that out, I tuned in: I chanted “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” and totally forgot to breathe correctly. I ran out of breath. So I had to start again. I rolled my eyes at myself, which I can’t believe I did, so I immediately apologized to myself and said “Self, get over it, you’re rusty. It’s OK. You’re trying. Start again. Remember the hands this time.” So I did. I found the music, I rubbed my hands together, I inhaled deeply and I chanted.








I immediately missed my friends from the retreat. I opened my eyes and looked around to see if anyone was laughing and pointing at me. Of course no one was, I was alone, desperately alone in fact, but I was still terribly self conscious.

But I realized I had an ally: my beautiful wool and silk light blue shawl that I bought at the retreat. I had a new blankie. A power blankie. No! A cape! My kundalini cape! I could not only hide under her, but she could bring me some focus too, and some strength, and identification with growth.

She would remind me of those days when I wore her on the deck in the chilly morning fogs. She kept me warm. She allowed me to feel a part of the tribe there, she also helped to feel safe doing what I am earnestly committed to doing: creating a solid 3rd chakra point in my body and my spirit to push me to get things done.

that's me in the background.

that’s me in the background. just seeing this picture transports me to that awesome deck and all those wonderful souls. the woman in the foreground was my roommate. aren’t the shawls gorge?

So I got her out and smelled her gentle woolen scent and I unfurled her and got started.

I warmed up. I closed my eyes again and mustered my courage. I did the sufi rolls and the “washing machine” torso twists (elbows up, hands on shoulders and twist from side to side inhaling on the left, exhaling on the right) and some other arm thingies and …

Then I determined it was time to do the kriya to address my 3 life path and my 3rd chakra.

Find the book that has the kriya. Find the book. Where is the book? Where is the freakin’ Kundalini Yoga book? Did I leave it at the retreat? No. I’ve had it since coming home.

Fine. Do the other kriya, the Adi Shakti.

No. I’m here to start the nabhi.

On and on it went. I consumed about 30 minutes looking for the book. Then I found it. Then I looked at the kriya.

Ooofda. Leg lifts. A freakin’ ton of leg lifts. Well, doing 40 or 90 or 180 or 1,000 days of this on a daily basis should definitely resolve any “Midge” issues… 

It reminded me of the calisthenics we used to do at day camp. I still haven’t done any comparative analysis on the matter, but the timing of Yogi Bhajan’s arrival to the United States to share the technology of kundalini yoga dovetails suspiciously close to the fitness trend of calisthenics that I remember my mother doing three times.

Irony in the irony: today’s experience directly showed me how out of balance my 3 is: I was logistically unprepared. I started at 7:00am, but I didn’t have my stuff. I went online to find the kriya and meandered the yoga sites. I found it, several times, but I talked myself out of using the online ones because they weren’t >insert Veruca Salt< The One In The Book!

I wasted time, being self-indulgent. Trust me… I see it all now, I’m paying attention and I was paying some attention then too, but I told mySelf to shut up. By 10:30, I was finished, I was committed. It might’ve been the world’s longest nabhi kriya ever, but I did it.

I did almost all of it for the recommended times too. I am pleased to announce that my core is strong, but my low back needs some support, so I allowed the support, no judging. I can tell you this: when I’m done, my abs are going to be insane. I read online that someone said this kriya saved her life. I am just hopeful it will give me mine back.

I feel like all I’m doing is barking at you guys… please chime in and say hello. Ask me questions! I’ll be happy to answer them!

Thank you.

Guest Posts Today



I’m not here today.

And technically yesterday, I wasn’t here either, but I was, when I wrote “Hail Marys” in my random, stream of consciousness way as I processed what happened at The Boston Marathon.

Today: I am pontificating at the lovely and creative watercolor and collage studios of the equally lovely Lillian Connelly. She was daring enough to ask me to write about the creative process, and true to my definition of it (to create something out of nothing), I managed to do just that. You will see a picture of my scary desk. And then it will all be quite clear… She’s one of those people… You can find me here: http://itsadomelife.com/2013/04/examining-the-creative-mind-molly-field.html

Yesterday: I was also at Peevish Penman where I waxed … confusedly about online book reviews and my notions of whether any unbiased ones exist; I discuss my fear of writing a book because I don’t want to ask anyone for favorable reviews as well as the petulant-like behavior of brand-new writers who are disgusted when their first tome ever doesn’t hit the coveted 5-star mark. You’ll also see why I don’t believe in 5-star reviews. You’ll also see how Carole Anne from the movie “Poltergeist” has anything to do with my thinking in that arena and you will recall the horror of JoBeth Williams when she slipped into her family’s as-yet unbuilt pool and how I feel like her when I read a shitty unedited self-published first book. (Just a little thought: being able to type doesn’t make me a better writer; it just makes me a faster bad writer.) Go here: http://peevishpenman.blogspot.com/2013/04/poltergeist-and-online-book-reviews.html

Tomorrow: fiction.

Thank you.

In the Donzerly Light #2 — Books


I woke early with Thing 1 this morning; Mr. Grass Oil had a meeting he had to prepare for so I took the bleary-eyed shift.

It’s the last few days before Christmas break. Thing 1 broke the silence in the kitchen. “We’re watching a movie today in English. You know, because break’s coming.”

“Oh yeah? Anything good? I hope it’s not a movie on book-binding.”

“What? No, it’s the movie of Of Mice and Men. I’m pretty pumped. I loved that book.”

“Oh yeah? I’m so glad; Steinbeck is a master. It’s very powerful; a classic.”

“Yes, it’s amazing. It’s the best book I’ve read in a really long time. I had to read the ending, like five more times over and over again because I couldn’t get my head around it; it was so unexpected.”


“You read the book, right? I mean, the ending is, just so … well, you do remember the ending, right?” he asked.

“Mmm-hmm.” I murmured. “Mmmmmwell, it’s been a while. I don’t recall…” as I busied myself and averted eye contact.

“Oh, well then I won’t spoil it for you; I just thought …”

“It’s 6:31. You better get ready. I will read it again. And then we can discuss.”

“Sure. Oh, yeah, it’s getting late. She’s been arriving earlier and earlier this week.”

“Well, yes, you better get going then. Here’s your backpack.”

“I love you.”

“Yeah. Me too. Bye mom…”

The sound of an incoming school bus hisses and then we see her in the distance, barreling through the pre-dawn dusk. He picks up his pace, I see our neighbor, Caroline, walk by with her long beautiful hair flapping, the light from our porch lanterns bouncing off her locks as she says, “Holy cow, is that her already?!”

“Have a good day guys. I love you.”

I better go see if I can get it on Netflix. There’s no way I can read that book before he comes home from school. Or maybe I can.

Rats… the cleaning ladies are coming today.

What do I read? Lots of random stuff. My favorite magazines are Vanity Fair and The Week. I have a brilliant stack of The New Yorkers to prove I have a subscription to it; but who has time to read them? Every article is four hours long. But they’re so good.

I just saw a plug for a book in The Week that sounded interesting. My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount, is a photographic collection of photographs of famous authors’, artists’,  actors’ and other cultural celebrities’ bookshelves. In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s 1/2 of a shelf of just one of our 12 bookcases. Each of the boys have their own bookcase, jammed with Suess to Faulkner; from Ripley’s to Rowling.

Lots of humor, as if that were a surprise...

Lots of everything; mostly humor, though, as if that were a surprise…

I’ve read a lot of those books; and because I have a Kindle, there are several books I own and have read that you can’t see. That’s the problem with the e-readers: I love books. But I’m not a book freak. I’ve seen people on “Hoarders” who’ve collected them to the point of being a fire hazard. But… to quote Gloria Upsin in “Auntie Mame,” “they’re so decorative.”

I hereby promise to read as much of Of Mice and Men as I possibly can today. That would be the first time I’ve read it; I think. For Thing 1. And for integrity.

Thank you.

What’s on your bookshelf?