Defining Sanity and Humanity

31iQzpiE6HL._BO1,204,203,200_

I’ve been away from my blog for some time. Knowing it exists, and that I would return, was always a comforting thought. I am pages from completing a fascinating, enlightening, true story and could wait, no longer, to share it.
I am grappling with the term “forever changed” by this book. Instead, I think it is more accurate, in my own case, to say “finally aware” or “forever defined”.
This is a firsthand story of a brain scientist’s stroke. There is a wealth of science about symptoms and perceptions, from the victim’s view. It is an essential part of the story and, really, not hard to learn and appreciate but the overall message and “insight” into the human psyche will “blow you away”!
We are a single being which operates, through our world, by using two separate, yet connected, brain hemispheres. The story exposes the purpose and function of those hemispheres in enlightening detail. The author’s conclusions about the necessity for both to function in unison in order to offer a life “rich” in a common conscientiousness are extraordinary, possibly, life changing.
As I read this book, I was thankful for my years with children for my primarily hopeful perspective about living “in the moment”. Jill Bolte Taylor hits the “nail on the head”, in my opinion, about how much of our own happiness is a matter of how we CHOSE to perceive the world. Embracing how ordinary events make us “feel” (emotionally and physiologically) just may be the biggest tool in the counteracting of everyday depression and sadness.
The author does not disregard the fact that our mental health is subject to chemical reactions beyond our control. The awareness that we CAN control much of it, though, (beyond brain damage and illness) offers a primer in a more fulfilling, happy, existence.
Incidentally, the carefree, forgiving, nature of man’s best friend seems to further explain why our Left Brains (containing speech and ego) can be our worst enemy if left to control too much of our time. On the other hand, who wants children, or dogs, making critical decisions?
As with everything we learn about life, balance is the best medicine.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the wisdom between the covers of this book!

  • How to recognize a stroke.
  • How to treat stroke victims.
  • The recuperative power of sleep.
  • How our brains interpret the world.
  • The importance of patience and kindness.

I give this book 11 stars out of 10.

Advertisements

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks…Book Review

51fQ2i0cc+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
An amazing story that needed telling!

This book is a non-fictional glimpse of scientific advances and the horrid racial inequality in our “not very distant” past. It is a riveting read. The story chronicles the struggles of poor black folks during the 50’s and 60’s, in a way, that will leave you forever changed. The sacrifices of those who advanced medical research are present, along with, the greed which always follows the money.

Many of the legal, and ethical, dilemmas, exposed in this text, are unresolved to this day. The author does not attempt to decide the “right” from “wrong” but, very effectively, invites the reader into the lives of real people. I laughed, I cried, and I feel enlightened by this book. A must read for those who endeavor to be educated and informed.

Going Wild

51gpiNPzMPL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)As I’ve stated before, this blog is meant to be a journal for my grandchildren. I wish I could have one from my grandparents. I would love to see their inner thoughts and principles documented to be shared with future generations. I was lucky. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents. Their memories and principles are a part of who I am.

Even though I spend an enormous amount of time (by today’s standards) with my granddaughters, I still enjoy accumulating thoughts for their pleasure and reflection one day.

I am currently reading a book which touches something very dear to me. It is The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. I suspect there will be a greater need for the wisdom, presented between these covers, in the future and want to document my first impression of this book.

The connection between human beings and “Mother Nature” is fading. I believe that we must not allow our kids to grow up in, what I believe, is a two-dimensional environment. When we are out-of-doors and surrounded by natural things, we absorb an appreciation of our worth and rejuvenate our sense of well-being. Just the other day, my granddaughter (age 8) was feeling ultra-emotional about being left behind by her mother. I said, “Why don’t you go outside for awhile?” She did. The transformation was immediate. She calmed and came back indoors wearing a smile. This method, of adding balance, works for me everyday. I sometimes just step outside for a few moments yet find my mood benefits very much.

I’ve hardly dipped into the book but already know what, I believe, the author knows about our integral connection to the natural world and its importance to human health. I have described my feelings in the forest as “comfortably insignificant”. Somehow, the realization of forces and life struggles outside of one’s own “bubble” put things in a wonderful perspective.

The first evidence this book cited, was the “instinctive intuition” available to those who have had a nature connection in their lives, as opposed to, those who have not. A study of soldiers who have avoided roadside bombs simply from their “whole view” of their surroundings is quite revealing. Those soldiers who came from rural settings, and/or had hunted or hiked the wilds, somehow noticed the “something’s wrong with this picture” element. Their success in identifying “trouble”, well out weighed, those who had spent their youthful time in front of TV and video realities. I call the latter, a “two-dimensional” view. These people are not accustom to using ALL of their senses in order to navigate the world. They have never felt fully vulnerable like one does in the wild. Total safety, allows us not to need the details and detective work of survival. Interestingly, the other group who was “in tune” with danger, and had highly developed instincts, were those from rough neighborhoods in the cities. Feeling vulnerable, obviously, makes us wise and sharp.

My time in the woods has offered me the view, of a deer approaching, from my sense of smell alone. On a few occasions, I have smelled the wet fur (somewhat like a wet dog) before I have heard or seen the animal. We humans have many amazing abilities that our indoor existence has atrophied. These instincts are not simply meant to be kept alive but, may be crucial, in keeping us alive.

As far as detective work, I use it all of the time. Until now, I thought everyone did. For instance, this may seem weird, but I have a bird feeder within view of my bathroom window. It is very close to my parking area behind the house. In the morning, I am often in the bathroom when my day care friends arrive. If I believe I hear a car in my driveway, I look to my bird feeder. If the birds are still boldly feeding, I know a car really did not enter the area. If the birds scatter, then I expect a door slam to follow.

Everyday, I tell my kids to be detectives. Just last week, I was changing a diaper, right after the “drop off” time. I turned to one kid and said,” Your mom left the diaper bag in the car last night, didn’t she?” The 6-year-old was surprised and said, “Yes…she did!”

Then I asked her, how did I know that fact? She shrugged.
“It’s in the clues. Your brother’s diaper wipes are very cold. If she had just put them into the car, they would be warm.”

We use the “detective method” all day long. I believe it is very much a part of keeping kids really engaged with their environment. The skills for logical deduction are very important.

So, I will post other enlightening finds from this exceptional book. In the meantime, make time to be “wild”. 😉

In The Lake of the Woods- Book Review

41E95Y1K45L._SS500_Just finished this book and I’m in the usual fog that follows. Gripping and disturbing are often adjectives applied to books. They fit completely in this case.

There are historical references, many of which I remember in real-time. The old understood fact, that society is forgetful, certainly has me reeling. I had also forgotten those events.

Forgetting is necessary in order to carry on after atrocities. But when we forget, do we place understanding in the hands of historians? Then again, there are some things, like the recent tragedy in a Connecticut school, that can never be understood. It will never be known how many people were wounded…scarred forever, and the lack of understanding of such events fester forever in our subconsciousness. Never Solved…Never Resolved…EVER.

So what do we do? We wait. Time doesn’t ever heal anything. It just allows for those scarred individuals to, one day, all turn to dust and, with them, the direct, hurtfulness of the unimaginable.

This book returns us to the time of the Vietnam War through the life of John Wade. It reintroduced atrocities that have yet, in 2013, to become dust. It skillfully asks the question, How can we forget? It produces characters that are directly and indirectly victims of things that they don’t understand. Most of those things, they don’t want to understand but the effects are real enough to destroy their lives. The horrific ripples are toxic and live on and keep destroying as if the horrors faced are living beasts attached by an umbilical to the witnesses.

Tim O’Brien obviously was/is one of those scarred by the war. He makes a case for living beyond personal nightmares, especially when they are the only ones faced in a lifetime. But John Wade has endured a piling on of nightmares. His hauntings intermingle and grow larger and fiercer with every attempt he makes to forget them. Not having answers, as an adult, is troubling. Needing answers, as a child, can leave a person hopelessly lost.

I couldn’t put this down. I was a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. Some might say, the ending asks more questions than it gives answers. I believe this book was about the gray area between what is real and what we cannot understand. It certainly made me feel powerless to ever make things right. Happiness is an illusion after tragedy and the best survivors are merely “magicians”.

Book Review: Crow Lake

I just read a book that I want to recommend very highly. Usually, I take an exception to foul language, unbelievable characters or a message that is not my own.

None of those apply with Crow Lake.

The reverence for a rural life, the comfort that can be found when one embraces a love of learning, and the possibilities for triumph over tragedy, are poignantly clear in this story. It also taught me that strength and success can take many shapes and come from unlikely places. Mary Lawson‘s description of the emotional effect of tragedy upon children was outstanding. Her story, about the unfairness of circumstance, a reminder to us all that good people can make all the difference.

If you are in awe of Nature…this book is also “right up your alley”.

This poster sums up the book better than I.

Book Review ~ The Lost Mother

I have already mentioned that my vacation (last week) was less than wonderful due to relentless heat and humidity, yet, I keep finding wonderful snippets rising, like cream, to the surface of my memory of it.

I read a gripping story while perspiring in a shady spot. This was another of my “browsing for books off of the library shelf” finds. I thoroughly enjoyed this story as I laughed, cried and bit my lip in anger. The sweltering heat and humidity did not exist for me while I was immersed in this tale of hard times for two children during the Great Depression. The overall theme of the powerlessness of children to direct their own lives could be applied to any time period, though, and reminds us that the blessing of family and loved ones is not necessarily afforded to everyone.

The story does have a superb ending after a roller coaster ride that envelopes the reader and makes this book unable to be put down. Just when things couldn’t get worse, they do, in a totally believable way. Not unlike To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lost Mother is told primarily through the vulnerable mind and naive heart of a twelve year old named Thomas. His hopes and sorrows become the reader’s. Tears streaked my face as the story concluded with a few surprises …I intend to read more of Mary Mc Garry Morris’ work.