Tag Archives: books

Oh, Pens and Paper, You Make Me So Hot and Bothered

I was thoroughly excited last night to organize my bookshelf and watch Law & Order re-runs while drinking wine with Dan.

I was actually E-X-C-I-T-E-D.

Is something wrong with me? Like in a I-get-pumped-when-I-see-school-supplies kind of way?

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Filed under August 2008, Eat, Pray, Run

Hate Your Job? Keep on Movin’ Forward

Today, I thought I would travel back to the original inspiration for this blog, the memoir Eat, Pray, Love. I was looking back at old posts and realized that we have not discussed the book — which leans so much on a quite basic, wide-spread spiritual belief — for quite some time.

I came across this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Web site and found it fabulously true, not only about creative work, but life in general:

“In the end, I love this work. I have always loved this work. My suggestion is that you start with the love and then work very hard and try to let go of the results. Cast out your will, and then cut the line. Please try, also, not to go totally freaking insane in the process . . . We need more creation, not more destruction . . . Become a knight, a force of diligence and faith. I don’t know how else to do it except that way. As the great poet Jack Gilbert said once to young writer, when she asked him for advice about her own poems: ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.'”

I recently had a conversation with my fiancé, Dan, in relation to this very way of thinking. Sometimes it seems tough or impossible or whatever negative word you want to insert here, but loving your work really is so vital to helping ensure a more peaceful way of life. We all have experienced, or may still be in that very place, a time when going to work was blah and the hours (minutes, seconds) on the clock seemed to drag by. And while it may seem more easy for some to assert that this is not a good way to live, the fact of the matter is sometimes it takes a bit of “suffering” to get where you truly want to be.

The hope, however, is that, as Gilbert said, we can each move forward and bring or life’s work to light. What else, then, would be the purpose of living?

No one is saying it is easy, sugar, spice and everything nice, but what if it could end up that way for at least the majority of the time?

And, don’t get me wrong, I know this battle it tougher for some than others. But when it is all said and done, would you rather lose the fight or show the world what you’ve got?

It may difficult, but I have faith that it is worth the ride . . .

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Filed under May 2008, Pray

Let’s Go Shopping!

woman-shopping.jpgGuess what?! Now you can shop for all of the exciting books, movies, products, and even groceries that I talk about every day by checking out the new Eat, Pray, Run Store! The store is currently featuring some of my favorite novels, exercise DVDs and gear, and most-loved writing books. What’s more, you can always easily access the store by clicking on the tab at the top of this page.

Check back over the next few days to find some of my favorite grocery items and more!
Note: You must click on the categories to the right of the page in order to see the products!

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Filed under Eat, March 2008, Pray, Run

Anne Lamott Does the Spiritual Jig

anne-lamott-2.jpgMy sister and I went to see author Anne Lamott speak a little more than a week ago at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall right here in Pittsburgh.

I have two things to say about Ms. Lamott:

1.) She is incredible and inspiring and goofy and spiritual and hilarious and make-you-want-to-laugh-out-loud, but cry all at the same time.

2.) She really is just fabulous.

OK, so that was more like 18 things rolled into 2 thoughts, but it would really be quite difficult to sum up her wonderfulness in bulleted points anyway.

She is one of those people who just has a presence; her simple being could make you feel a multitude of emotions before she ever even gets the chance to speak.

Lamott opened the event, which was sponsored by the Community of Reconciliation Church, by reading from her latest book Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, a collection of essays that was preceded by two other books about faith, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

My sister and I laughed the whole way through her reading — not only did her writing and words paint fantastic pictures, but her animated voice and expressions made the essay come to life.

After her talk, Lamott spoke about her writing and life, and how she thought faith played a part in the greater scheme of both those things. I particularly enjoyed when she talked about how she and her boyfriend have been taking dance lessons.

“And we are just horrible,” she said, joining the audience in laughter.

She told the audience about the foxtrot and how it is the first dance that is taught to beginners.bird_bird-2.jpg

“And the steps are slow, slow, quick, quick,” Lamott said, showing the audience the simple foot movements.

And just when you begin to think, “Now what does this have to do with faith?” Lamott tells you just how much a few movements can apply to the great laws of the universe:

“If you want to grow in the spirit, you start where you are, and you go in baby steps,” she said. “And it’s slow, slow, quick, quick.”

How cool is that? Think for a moment about what Lamott is suggesting; it is so simple and so complex all at the same time.

If faith and spirit are like the foxtrot, then really the only true way to achieve either would be to move slowly, and then take a few quick “steps” forward. This is really quite practical if you consider it in the grand scheme of things. When one decides to, as Lamott puts it, “Grow in the spirit,” it is never an overnight affair. Discovering that faith takes time, baby steps if you may.

However, when one does begin to uncover the contents of spirit and grace, quick movements are made in that direction. One might assume then, that she has achieved a better understanding of faith. But nevertheless, something is always thrown in her path to deter her from that course; a roadblock to the greater parts of the spirit. A test in faith has been aimed at the spiritual pursuer, and the steps become slow, slow once again.

And the path to spiritual growth continues just like that — forever. Because spirituality is not a new piece of clothing of which to try. Instead, it is a consistent swarm of choices and observations for one to make. And the decisions will not always fit like your favorite pair of jeans. Because growing in the spirit is simply not that comfortable. It takes thousands of try-ons, and even then, one will often find himself at the beginning, searching for that perfect “fit” once again.

Lamott finished that portion of her talk by quoting E.L. Doctorow, the author of Ragtime. He once said:

“Writing is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

While that quote means so many things to the writer in me, it is interesting to think of it in a spiritual manner as well. Because the truth is, that road is no more well lit than that which is only illuminated by headlights.

But, when it comes right down to it, you can continue along that way forever. And the steps along the way?

Slow, slow, quick quick.

6 Comments

Filed under March 2008, Pray

The Magic of a Tiny World In a Speck of Dust — It Can Make Your Day!

If you have ever read the unforgettable works of Dr. Seuss, then you are well aware of the magic his stories possess. When I was younger, — and even still now — I used to love to read his books, such as The Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I always figured that anyone who is referred to by a moniker like Dr. Seuss just must be naturally fabulous.

catinthehat.jpgThe great Seuss’ birthday was Sunday, March 2nd. But if you forgot to celebrate, that’s OK because many people and groups devote the entire month of March to celebrating the children’s literary guru.

What’s more, a movie version of Seuss’ book Horton Hears A Who is coming out in theaters on March 14th. For those of you who do not know the story, horton-hears-a-who.jpgan elephant named Horton one day hears a cry for help from a speck of dust, only to discover the world of Whoville. The book follows his journey to protect the speck, and the struggle of the Whos to make themselves heard to an unbelieving world. In the end, Horton wins and persuades the Whos to make as much noise as possible to prove their existence.

The movie version of Horton Hears a Who stars the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett, just to name a few.

This story of Horton reminds me so much of the many magical notions that are lost upon us as we grow older. No one believes in Whoville or the tooth fairy anymore and if they do, like Horton they are laughed at by the world that surrounds them.

When I was younger, I was positive that fairies inhabited the world and were responsible for much of the sparkle in my life — my creativity, magical thinking and laughter. As I grew older, life began to teach me otherwise.

But who is to say that Santa Claus and pixies and the Tooth Fairy do not exist? Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think that a big, jolly man slides down my chimney every Christmas Eve (I don’t even have a gosh darn chimney!), nor do I believe that the Easter Bunny leaves me my favorite, Peeps, every holiday.

But I do think that the belief in the spirit of magic is a necessary one. How else are we to understand the little things that glitter in our daily lives? I may no longer believe in fairies that sit outside eating the maple syrup snow cones I have made for them, but I do know for sure that the pot of “Fairy Dust” from my grandmother that sits in a jar on my dresser makes me smile. The simple notion of magic in the air makes me happy. And I think that anyone who has chosen to continue the essence of magic will agree that it allows you to know a tiny secret of which others are missing out.theborrowers.jpg

No, my mother no longer believes as she did when she was young that The Borrowers have stolen her missing things. But while she may not trust that a minuscule person has pocketed her eyeglasses, she knows one thing is absolute — the mere thought of a small man, hunched over with her frames on his back makes her grin.

And losing the glasses? Well, it’s not that big of a deal after all.

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Filed under March 2008

Eat Good Food … But Not That.

eat-this-2.jpg I hope you know by now that this blog is not about weight loss. I know I am not fat, and I am not going to try to give you any advice about “shedding those last pounds.” Even though I believe there is a great purpose for all of those efforts, Eat, Pray, Run is, instead, about achieving total wellness — for you and for me.

The other day, my fiance and I went to the bookstore and he bought me a couple of books that he thought might give me some food for thought — no pun intended! — for my blog. He is really cool like that. One book he got me was Eat This, Not That: Thousands of Simple Food Swaps That Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds-or More! by David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief at Men’s Health magazine, and Matt Goulding.

At first I was like, “Great, honey. What are you trying to tell me?”

But then, I started flipping through the book and realized it was really neat! Eat This, Not That was exactly the message I am trying to convey through this blog; it was all about making better choices for complete health.

The authors of the book came up with this genius idea of taking the menus of several popular food chains, and putting food choices from those menus into the “Eat This” or “Not That!” categories.

For example, you may be surprised to learn the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder without cheese is a better choice than the Premium Grilled Chicken Club sandwich. Weighing in at 410 calories and 9 g fat (7 g saturated), the Quarter Pounder burger beats out the chicken sandwich’s 570 calories and 21 g fat (7 g saturated).

We had just been to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro that night, so I was excited to see if I had made some good decisions. I am usually pretty good with picking healthy foods, but it is was interesting to see just how good I am!

I ate the Citrus Soy Salmon with brown rice and asparagus, but I don’t know the nutrition content of it because it was from a specialty menu.

rockin-salmon.jpg

I only ate about 1/3 of the portion because I was so full from loading up on appetizers — two Chicken Lettuce Wraps, two Vegetable Spring Rolls, some Sesame Soy Cucumbers and a glass of red wine, but shhh!

Still, my decisions seemed like fairly clean, healthy options, while still allowing me to have a bit of fun.

Anyway, according to the book, one of the “Eat This” choices at P.F. Chang’s is the Wild Alaskan Sockeye steamed with ginger. This dish has 750 calories and 50 g fat (8 g saturated). On the other hand, an big no-no, “Not That!” option is the Sriracha Shrimp Salad, totaling 1,130 calories and 46 g fat (7 g saturated). Other “Eat This” options include the Seared Ahi Tuna, Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, and the Sichuan-Style Asparagus. The not-so-diet-friendly options menu items include the Salt & Pepper Calamari, Kung Pao Chicken and Spicy Green Beans (Go figure, a veggie!). Lastly, the “Weapon of Mass Destrution” is the Lo Mein Pork. The impact? 1, 820 calories and 127 g fat (23 g saturated). YIKES!!

The book also comes packed with all kinds of interesting facts, — Did you know you can save 17 grams of fat by replacing mayo on a Burger King WHOPPER with barbecue sauce? — the best kind of cookies to choose at the supermarket, and the healthiest choices from basic menus, such as a typical Mexican restaurant’s food selections.

But, anyway, I must make a point. I am not going to walk around with my Eat This, Not That book in my purse. I don’t want to be “that girl,” whipping out my health book just so I can make a dinner decision. What I do want you to understand, however, is the purpose of a book such as this. I am interested in Eat This, Not That, and books of the sort, because it makes you think twice. It is a fantastic resource for helping me — and you! — to make more educated decisions.

So, I am going crazy learning about all of this stuff. I keep reading and saying, “Are you kidding?!” and “Holy crap!” I am driving my fiance crazy with thousands of, “Did you know…?” I am sure he is so glad he bought this book for me!

By the way did you know any sandwich at Subway can be made into a salad? How cool is that?!

OK, OK, I am done now….

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Filed under Eat, February 2008