Tag: books

What I Learned From Siddhartha Part I


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse came into my life at the perfect time.  My soul was yearning for something deep, and Siddhartha delivered.  It’s been on my book list for over a year – sometimes you wonder how those serendipities work themselves out.  It’s magical.

Background of the Book:

To give a little background for those who have not read it, Siddhartha is a young boy who leaves the faith of his father to go on his own spiritual journey.  It follows him through five major shifts in his life and through to his old age.  He experiences and leaves beautiful relationships along the way, always remaining loyal to his purpose and ideals.

At one point Siddartha feels very, very alone.  He didn’t belong to the Brahmin’s anymore, nor the Samana’s.  He had nowhere to say anymore, “I belong here.”  He felt like something was gone from him, he had shed his skin like a snake does.  It left him lonelier than ever.  Yet it allowed him to see the world new for the first time… things that were always there, but now viewing with new eyes.

My Own Story With Loneliness:

I know this pain of loneliness.  The first time I felt this level of loneliness was in my first marriage.  I had entered into this contract with my boyfriend, and God, to be married and become one.  But we never became one… not physically, not spiritually, not emotionally.  I didn’t believe in divorce.  So I did what I had to… I lived the lie.  I lived a quiet, lonely death, where the outside world saw the facade, the life we wanted them to see.  (I can’t go here right now – it’s too deep, too much for right here in this post.  For more of this, please subscribe to The Virgin Wife Chronicles.)

The second time I experienced this level of loneliness was when I was converting to a faith not of my family.  I was transitioning from feeling like I belonged in my family, my tribe, to not fitting anymore, and grasping at straws to learn how to fit differently.  And then I was in this transit space where I felt like I didn’t belong in my family and I wasn’t part of this new tribe that I was converting into yet.

I can tell you that these dark chasms (and that is what they are) are where we find ourselves.  No longer do we get to parade a banner belonging to this group or that tribe… instead we are left alone, with only our own thoughts, demons, prayers, and epiphanies.  There are no coattails to ride, no thoughts to borrow, no cloaks to cling to.  It’s a space that will either lead us to death and despair, or to life and joy.  Our choice.  Our courage.  Our bravery.

I wish I knew how to help others choose the path of life and joy.  But I don’t know how I did it.  I don’t know how I went from my path of destruction to my path of life.  I was headed for death.  Truly headed for death.  (Do I have to say it?)  And then, after years of disconnected prayers, stacks of books, torrents of tears, depths of despair, something gave.  I found courage.  I took baby steps.  I chose life.  I survived.  I’m living.  I’m breathing.  That world I left behind feels like some remote incarnation.

But I can’t tell you ‘how’.

It’s an answer I seek diligently.  I want nothing more than to be able to tell you ‘how’.

In the meantime, keep moving.  Keep breathing.  Keep praying.  Keep reading.

Maybe that is the ‘how’.

Just keep going.

Related posts:

Captain of My Ship? Master of My Destiny?
Why I Befriended the Outcasts and Misfits
Book Video Trailer For The Virgin Wife Chronicles

Seeing the Trees Through the Forest by Stepping Back


Seeing the Trees Through the Forest

Seeing the Trees Through the Forest

The last day and a half I’ve been in the biggest funk.  I received an email that literally just shut me down (I’d so like to think that I’m above that).  In reflection, I realize it wasn’t the email that shut me down – that just happened to be what pushed me over the edge.  I had set myself up for failure over the preceding weeks, and it was bound to happen.  The email was inconsequential.

With the quickly approaching release of my first chronicle in my memoirs, I’ve just been a ball of stress and emotions.  I’ve been over analyzing every little technical detail as far as how it should be released… like, release it on this blog, or create a new one?  How should it look and feel?  What should the domain name be?  Do I let just anyone read it or do they have to be a subscriber? And on, and on.

While these technical details are important – it’s the content that will prove to be most important.  And I’ve been covering up fears of my writing being good enough with technical details.  While I’ve told myself I can’t release it yet because I don’t have these technical details in place, the truth is, I’m not even sure which chronicle to release first.  I’ve re-written all the chronicles that I have so far, over and over again.

When I get in such a funk, I realize that I just need to step away for awhile.  When you are in the forest, you can’t see the entirety of the trees.  So I took a step back and read.  That’s what I do.  That’s what inspires me.  I was drawn to Siddartha.

Seeing the Trees Through the Forest | Photo by Mark

Seeing the Trees Through the Forest | Photo by Mark

Siddartha was written by Herman Hesse, originally in German in 1951 and is about the spiritual journey of a boy named Siddartha.  Siddartha’s name is made up of two Sanskrit words, meaning: he who has found meaning of existence.

Do you ever have books on your list to read for years before you ever get to them?  And then when you finally do, you are absolutely amazed at how perfectly you needed that book at that moment in your life?  This is that for me now.  I’ve been able to escape for a couple of hours, forgot all pending deadlines, and just absorb myself into this fascinating book.

I’m ready to walk back into the woods…

Related posts:

The Problem of Pain | Blaming God
~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~

Book Video Trailer For The Virgin Wife Chronicles

The Virgin Wife Chronicles

I am so excited to have my Book Video Trailer for The Virgin Wife Chronicles complete!  This took many arduous hours to make – my first time using Windows Movie Maker.  I have to say, it’s a great program and reasonably easy to use for a first-timer who was just committed to figuring it out.

Please feel free to give me your feedback – good, bad, ugly. My hope with this video is to generate interest and reflect the tone for the book… a little bit haunting, a little bit beautiful. And, of course, I want people to be interested enough after seeing it, to take action, go to the site, and read the online serial (which is coming VERY soon… I promise!).

I am all ears to your initial reaction to it, your critique, feedback, suggestions, etc.

Thanks so much!

Related posts:

Captain of My Ship? Master of My Destiny?
My Memoirs Beckon to be Written
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Giveaway Winner For February: Hand Wash Cold

Thank you to everyone who participated in the February Giveaway for Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller!  For those that knew about the giveaway but didn’t enter, would you mind taking a moment to participate in the poll below?  Your anonymous feedback is important to me so I can improve future giveaways.  Thanks!

And the winner is…

Wylie Hunt, who commented: “I would love to read this book. I have been following her blog for quite some time.”

Congratulations, Wylie!

Wylie was chosen by random.org:

February Giveaway Winner for Hand Wash Cold

In case you missed this one, be sure to subscribe to email updates so you never miss another giveaway again.  Giveaways are at random times each month.

If you are in need of some inspiration to find love for the life you have (instead of only for the one you pine for), I can’t recommend highly enough that you click over to Amazon and purchase a copy of Hand Wash Cold for yourself.

Thank you, Maezen, for your wonderful book and refreshing retreat.

Related posts:

* Giveaway * Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller
Seeing the Trees Through the Forest by Stepping Back
Giveaway | Not a Pretty Girl

Captain of My Ship? Master of My Destiny?

Gustov Klimt: The Tree of Life

Gustov Klimt: The Tree of Life

This morning I shed some major tears over my battle with infertility.  I cried because tomorrow I will be a 35-year-old, childless woman.  I cried because I also realized, for the first time, that I’m scared to have a baby.  I have so many fears surrounding having a child, that I’ve kept hidden from myself.  But it’s all surfacing now.  And I’m wondering how much of my own fears have blocked my body from doing what is most natural.

Because I’ve always wanted children so badly, I’ve always had a fear of not being able to have children.  I have fears about not actually being the mother I intend to be.  I have fears about being an old mom, and especially about Mark being an old father (he’s 16 years older than me).  I have fears about giving birth to an unwell child.  I have fears about not being able to provide for my child the way I want to.  And the truth is, since I’ve been married, life circumstances have not been all that favorable to bring a child into.  Do I have a subconscious block from getting pregnant and keeping a growing fetus in my womb?

If this is true, then I want to throw a tantrum right now.  Well, the truth is, I already threw a tantrum this morning.  Many, many, many mothers have children intentionally, and unintentionally, wanting the child they carry, and not wanting the child they carry.  So why should I be any different?  Why would my thoughts contribute one way or the other, when so many other mother’s thoughts were irrelevant?  Yet somehow still, I am open that my fears are a contributing factor in my struggle.  Am I that powerful?

I don’t want to throw tantrums.  I don’t want to think life unfair.  I want to surrender to life and it’s curve balls.  Or at least, what I perceive to be curve balls, only because I had other plans that life did not have for me.  I know I sound like a I’m open to being tossed around by circumstances.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I finally am.  Maybe I’ve held on too tightly to the idea that I am the one and only designer of my life.  Boho Girl recommended this book some time ago, and this morning I read this passage from “Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life“, and it kind of shifted something inside me:

“[Life] is the last word.  Life interrupts us when we are at our most self-assured.  Life diverts us when we are hell-bent on going elsewhere.  Life arrives in a precise and yet unplanned sequence to deliver exactly what we need in order to realize our greatest potential (I know this!).  The delivery is not often what we would choose, and almost never how we intend to satisfy ourselves, because our potential is well beyond our limited, ego-bound choices and self-serving intentions.”

Since I was an adolescent, I started believing that I was the Captain of my Ship, Master of my Destiny.  Now, I am only sure that I am Captain of my response to life, Master of my emotions and clarity.  I think this is good.  I think this is right.  Life does have a way of throwing curve balls.  Life corrects our course when we go off track of what we intended to accomplish before we were born.  It supports us, whether we recognize that support or not.

Here is another passage from “Hand Wash Cold” that speaks deeply to me now:

“You might think, for instance, that the life you have is not at all the life you had in mind and so it doesn’t constitute your real life at all.  Your real life is the life you pine for, the life you’re planning or the life you’ve already lost, the life fulfilled by the person, place, [etc], of your dreams.  This is the life we are most devoted to: the life we don’t have.”

The life we don’t have… ouch.  It’s true.  I’ve been devoted to the life I don’t have.  The life I pine for every day.  The life with my husband and two kids, self-sustained, living on a rural farm, homeschooling, learning, and crafting my days away.  Instead, I’m a childless woman, living with my husband in my parents home after economic devastation to our business, and in the early, struggling phase of a new business.  That is my life.  I’ve lost the 4000 square foot home, the Cadillac Escalade, the Utopian neighborhood.

My life can’t begin again some other day – the day I have my children and my farm.  My life is here, now.  And so is yours.  We’ve got to accept it and live in it.  We’ve got to find our home in it.

Jill O'Flannery | Cherry Blossoms

Jill O'Flannery | Cherry Blossoms

I surrender.

*Update: This post was syndicated at BlogHer on February 13th, 2011!

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

Related posts:

Infertility Prayer | Show Me the Way to Peace
Christmas No. 35
Healing Lazarus from Poisoning | My Lessons