I must confess I got this book out of the library hesitantly – the unspoken thought of losing one of my babies is enough to make me cry without the harsh truth of reading the reality of another mother’s journey.
The book - ‘Hannah’s Gift – Lessons from a Life Fully Lived‘ by Maria Housden – is however, exquisite.
It details the lessons and the journey of her experience losing her daughter Hannah to cancer at 3 years old.
I cried (of course) but the book was so beautiful, so poignant and didn’t cause a moment of gripping fear about my own babies. It was an amazing mix of real raw grief and true, experienced-life full and beautiful.
The sections – Truth, Joy, Faith, Compassion and Wonder – are profound and moving. I consumed this book in an afternoon but I know I will be processing its lessons for some time.
Here are a couple of my absolute favourite quotes from the book
Joy is the magic and stillness that stand on the threshold of every moment, the experience of giving and living fully, without expecting anything in return. Because joy knows no rules, it isn’t afraid to be imperfect, and it can surprise us even in the darkest places.
It was the quality of presence and attention that I brought to what I was doing, not the activity itself, that made it what it was.
Hannah taught me that there is a death more painful than the one that took her body from this world: a soul suffocated by fear leaves too many joys unlived.
Even if you aren’t a parent or you have never lived the loss of a precious person in your life I think this book will move you, encourage you and make you delight in the really aware of the great gift that life is. It also enforces my desire to be a more intentional and delighted Mama.
While we were on holiday I read 8 books in 2 weeks (this is why I hardly read during the year once I start a book I don’t want to put it down until I’m finished!).
Over the next couple of weeks I want to talk about a few of them.
Listening Below the Noise A Meditation on the Practice of Silence by Anne D LeClaire
I’m naturally a chatterbox. I tend to be the whole conversation at times and I make the lofty promise ‘Never an uncomfortable silence when I am in the room!’ So reading a book like this always feels a bit scary to me. I mean I know I should be quiet more but I have such a lot of good things to share with the world. (arrogance anyone??)
But I loved this book. It felt like a therapy and sometimes it even stung a little – like when the author challenges that sometimes we fill up the day with noise because we are afraid of what we might have to deal with in the silence. And that we think others need our wonderful wisdom instead of just needing someone to listen (boy I find that hard!).
Anne herself has for the past 9 years kept every second Monday as a day of silence and it has transformed her life.
As part of slowing myself down this year and listening to the voice of heaven I want to carve out some times of silence for myself.
This book is incredibly easy to read, a little like a diary in some ways. If you feel life is clanging too loudly and rushing too fast I would so suggest you take the time to read this book. Especially if you feel you have no time to enjoy life as it races past you.
This month I read ‘Better Off’ by Eric Brende
I SO enjoyed this book. The book is a social/technology experiment that the author tried on himself and his new wife as they attempted to live without any technology for 18 months.
The author was doing a degree in the impacts of technology on our lives and the way that the things we have in our lives that are so touted to make life easier and more convenient/relaxing/enjoyable can actually be doing the very opposite.
In order to try this out they lived in a community somewhere in the United States (location deliberately not shared by the author) that is considered extreme even by the Amish in terms of its stance on technology.
I found this book compelling to read it is challenging in terms of the impact no technology had on their lives – more leisure time, the manner in which relationships and community develops and the skills that are required. Brende says in the book our attitudes about people who live in these communities or in places in the world without technology is that the people will be unskilled labourers forced into a life of hard physical work. His experience was very much the opposite.
This book is gentle in its encouragement and attitude. There is no feeling of pious condemnation on those who use technology but it definitely challenged me about our cultural life values and how much we work and are enslaved by debt, money and the inability to provide our own needs without technology, mass-production, convenience stores….
In all this though it made me feel hopeful and excited about what we can do for ourselves when we exercise conscious choice about HOW we live in all areas of our lives.
The book is very easy – diary like – to read and I would thoroughly recommend it. I got my copy out from the local library. Regardless of how you feel about the need for technology or otherwise it is a great glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of those who deliberately choose to live without it.
Made From Scratch is written by Jenna Woginrich.
In it she explores what it is to be a country girl in a city job and home.
Throughout the book she tries different things to make her ‘homestead dream’ come true.
The book itself is easily read and has some very good information and guidance for people wanting to explore chickens, bees, growing their own food and making their own music, amongst other things. Jenna also has a blog but I am assuming from the picture on the header (different now from when I first looked at it) that she now does have a homestead of her own.
The book is American so there are parts, particularly resources that don’t really relate to those outside of the US. Definitely a good read for anyone wanting to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle.
It has got some recommended reading though which has led me to discover a new author for next month’s book… more about that in July.
As you may have noticed last month I didn’t read a book.
Well officially I read a couple of books of the New Testament but that’s not counted for my ‘reading a book every month’ goal.
This month I read a book called The Daring Female’s Guide to Ecstatic Living by Natasha Kogan.
It was pretty easy to read. The premise of the book is that it is full of ‘dares’ to challenge you to live more fully and take more risks with your life.
It had some sections that were great for me to read about trying things you know you won’t be good at (I never really do that) and doing something you love for 10 minutes every day and daring to take risks and detours along the way.
I guess I am in a place at the moment where I am very happy to be (bringing up my babies) so I don’t feel like this is the time for me to take risks in my career or pursue a passion that I’ve always dreamed of. Even so I think this book is a good encourgaer not to be afraid to make the most of your life.
It’s a good book to read when you are at a cross-roads or hitting a bit of a mid-year slump and need some motivation.
As part of my plan to look after ‘this one brain’ I have I am aiming to read and review a book every month.
January’s book is ‘A Home Companion – A Year of Living Like My Nana’ by NZ author Wendyl Nissen.
Since I decided to read and review this it has been popping up all over other blogs I read. Which goes to show I am totally on the button!! (I really am so uncool!)
I bought this book after attending an evening with Wendyl Nissen last year. It is part biography of a year and part recipe book for all sorts of ‘alternative’ products.
This book is going to be instrumental in helping me to live more green this year. With its help I am planning to make my own washing powder, soap, moisturizer, bread, cleaning products…. Once a month a friend and I are going to get together and make all these for the month to come so we are not left racing to the supermarket because we ran out of time.
I like Wendyl’s writing style. She is very conversational in her tone. You can imagine catching up with her over a coffee and listening to the same tales.
I appreciate the fact that she has tried every one of her recipes and has in fact being living like a nana for some time but she is still attractive, cares about her appearance (at least in public) and doesn’t write her message like a condemnation to those who aren’t there yet with their own lifestyles.
I’ll let you know how the recipes go. If nothing else I enjoyed reading this book and I am going to enjoy a monthly ‘hippy’ session with my lovely friend Kyleigh. We plan to share the love and have a band of happy hippies on board by the end of the year. I guess that might come down to how well, or otherwise, my crystal deodorant stick works out for me!
If you’d like to try some natural recipes of your own she has heaps free on her website. The bread I made the other day was from this book too.