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Books - Powerful Inspiration

Live, Light, Love - Enlighten Me Please!

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Reading fills the soul, the mind and educates more than any other art form.  Opening a new book is similar to charting an unknown course across the open sea.   There isn't a day in my life that does not involve reading a book whether for pleasure, curiosity, for a book club, to learn something new or to help understand myself or others along this journey called life.  My latest is called The Gown by Jennifer Robson.  The novel is set in London after WWII and in present day Toronto, Canada.   The story is about those that created, designed and embroidered Queen Elizabeth's II, wedding gown during the aftermath of WWII in 1947. Life was bleak, little food, destruction, poverty abound yet two women from different backgrounds forged a friendship that lasted and was never forgotten.   Which brings me full circle in finding a couple of books that expound on what is friendship, what is love, what does it mean to pause, what is listening and how to keep moving forward with passion and kindness.  There are two books that are exceptional. Thank you to my dear friends who recommended them to me. 

"I've Been Thinking" Maria Shriver

Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life

Maria Shriver is a prominent woman who has forged many different roles including daughter of a mother who founded the Special Olympics, niece of a former President and Senators, First Lady of the State of California, journalist, author, Alzheimer's advocate, mother of four and the list goes on.  To the outside world, we see an image of someone who appears confident, calm and supposedly has it all.  However, what we envision isn't always completely accurate.   "I've Been Thinking" is an insight into the challenges that Shriver and many of us face in everyday life.  The book contains short essays with quotes and prayers on happiness, listening, letting go, death of loved ones, complaining, positivism, perfection is an illusion, being present and so much more with the ultimate goal of loving yourself first and being your own best friend.   We all make mistakes but do you beat yourself up or move forward?  Shriver's writing style is uplifting, warm, compassionate, intelligent and a precious gift.  "I've Been Thinking" was also published in the perfect size for throwing into a tote.  Which means one can refresh and read at any moment for a pick me up or reminder of what is important.  These gems promise to inspire, to remember what is important, to learn, to understand and to experience a meaningful and joy filled life of  hope and love. 

Quotes from "I've Been Thinking" Maria Shriver

"I am not what happened to me.  I am what I chose to become." Carl Jung

You are a jewel.  "The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently." Pema Chodron

"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have." Eckhart Tolle

"Sometimes, life is gonna hit you in the head with a brick.  Don't lose faith." Steve Jobs

"Perfection doesn't make you feel perfect. It makes you feel inadequate."  Maria

PS:  If you want to receive Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper - News and Views for a Meaningful Life weekly - subscribe to the following - Click on this link:  Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper

"The Noticer" Andy Andrews

Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective. 

Jones is the central character in this charming short story lined with different life lessons in each chapter. He meets with the residents of Orange Beach, Alabama and helps them see the path from despair to gratefulness and contentment. The story is about understanding perspective and recognizing the miracles in moments and the greatness uncovered in daily struggles.   The book opens your eyes and helps to untangle situations, to be honest, to be kind, to be open and most importantly to be grateful rather than envious, unhappy, competitive or sad.   There are so many topics covered in this short novel that one must read again. Use a highlighter to capture the jewels sprinkled throughout each chapter.  There is one particular chapter that was an eye opener for me.  Did you ever wonder how people receive love?  Easy question right.  You will think from hugs, being kind, talking wisely, giving back and yet Jones explains why disagreements, disappointments occur when we do not fully understand how one actually receives love from another.  Maybe you know people who seem happy when you do something for them, others who just want to chat or maybe some like to be touched?  Did you know that this was their primary way of receiving love?  I didn't.  Jones lists out four types of love using animals to describe the type of love someone needs in order to be considered love. Once you understand what you, your spouse, family members, friends etc., needs to feel loved, you will have unlocked a special key to spreading love and happiness.

Love - Chapter 3 - I extracted some text and added my own

1. Physical Contact - Are you a Cat?  People who speak the dialect of physical contact tend to feel most loved when touched  Anything from a pat on the back, hug, kiss etc., makes them feel loved.  Like a cat.  Cats require physical contact.  They want to be touched and in turn express love to you by touching you back.  Cats don't pay attention to what you say or do.  They just want to be touched.   My word of caution is with this type of love is that not everyone wants to touch others.  However, if you know someone who only receives love through touch then this knowledge will help you. 

2.  Quality Time - Are you a Canary? To a person that speaks this dialect, it doesn't matter if you touch them, do something for them, or tell them repeatedly that you love them.  They only thing that matters is quality time together.   A canary says "Just be with me".  They do not notice food or water.  A canary is happiest when you sit and listen carefully to its song.  A canary requires and loves attention.  My word of caution for this type of person is that you might feel drained after listening nonstop to someone.  Be wary and work towards a two-way conversation. 

3.  Spoken Words of Approval - Are you a Puppy?   To feel love one needs spoken words of approval similar to a puppy.  Tell a puppy how wonderful he is and his whole body wags.  There is a word of caution to those who love a puppy dog or someone who requires words of approval. Nothing is more devastating than words of disapproval spoken in an angry tone of voice.  Like a puppy, this person will cower under attack.  The repercussions from harsh words to the puppy can be  difficult to smooth over.  The puppy must learn that receiving someones approval is not always the best path to feeling loved.  And, those with tones of disapproval need to curb their words and tone around the puppy. 

4.  Favors and Deeds - Are you a Goldfish?  They feel love when something is done for them.   A goldfish feels love purely on favors and deeds.  You can't really touch them, you can't hear them and they do not want your affirmation. They do not need quality time or care if you are there or not.  They just want you to feed them and clean the bowl.  This is someone who wants the trash taken out or a favor to help them accomplish something.  They only feel love when others "do" for them.  My word of caution is that after awhile it can be difficult to continually "do something" to make this person feel loved.   You could become a doormat or a pleaser, which doesn't foster good self care.  Step wisely. 

The overall point of learning how love is received by others is to foster kinder communication.  After all, we just want to be heard and loved.

If you enjoy this book - Andrews has a new book out:  "The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and sometimes Perspective Finds"   I haven't read but have ordered.

Quotes from The Noticer - Andy Andrews

“Remember, whatever you focus upon, increases...When you focus on the things you need, you'll find those needs increasing. If you concentrate your thoughts on what you don't have, you will soon be concentrating on other things that you had forgotten you don't have-and feel worse! If you set your mind on loss, you are more likely to lose...But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life.” 

“Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely. Don't squander your words or your thoughts. Consider that even the simplest actions you take for your lives matter beyond measure...and they matter forever.” 

“A life filled with opportunities and encouragement finds more and more opportunities and encouragement, and success becomes inevitable.” 

Well, there you have it.  Two books that are bound to inspire, fulfill and motivate us to live a better life and to be a better person.  Why not dig deep, search your soul and sing with gratitude, grace and joy.  After all life is a box of chocolates and why not chose only the best for yourself.   Be kind and loving to yourself too.  And, don't forget you are your own best friend.

Happy Valentines Day! 


Forever Chic Style by Kim Hardwick


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