As many of you know, I love few things better than making new discoveries, however small. I enjoy experimenting with fresh ideas, recipes, art techniques, etc., whether I fail or succeed. Today, on Day 39 of my first 40 day round of practicing the amazing Vimala Alphabet, I am as thrilled by the process as I was at the very beginning; I will continue my morning pen-to-paper meditation indefinitely, and I am so excited to see what happens. I guess that falls into the ‘success’ category, and there is a reason for that, beyond my love of the technique–I do well with a concrete goal, as in, ‘do this for 40 (or some other number) days’, because I need structure. Sticking with a project gives the brain time enough to build new pathways, and I take a lot of satisfaction in working through the early challenges, hanging in there, and just generally showing up. And so much of life is about showing up, suiting up and playing the game.
Clearly, I have benefited from the alphabet process in ways that go beyond the gifts of each letter (and trust me, they are significant); I have been reminded of the value of good old-fashioned practice, and that will serve me well in every area of my life. Committing to doing something every day, no matter what, is a profound discipline in its own right, and I plan to use it to reach other goals, such as losing weight, learning to speak Italian fluently and to play the banjo. Thanks to modern technology, it is much easier to master such skills–just about everything can be found on YouTube. Facebook and other social media sites offer wonderful opportunities to join groups of like-minded people, ask questions, and learn new and better approaches to reaching specific goals.
Will I succeed? Who knows? I’ll give it 40 days, and see what happens. In my experience, no sincere effort is wasted, because something will be learned–even if it is ‘this is not for me’–and that’s good, because what really matters here is not so much the end result (I will never be appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, nor will I be a featured artist on the Grand Ole Opry), but the act of learning itself. Statistics prove unequivocally that lifelong learners are happier, healthier and much more likely to remain mentally sharp as they age.
A few good books:
FLUENT FOREVER, by Gabriel Wyner
FLUENT IN 3 MONTHS, by Benny Lewis
BRAIN-POWERED WEIGHT LOSS, by Eliza Kingsford (I am SUPER excited about this one.)
BUDDHA’S DIET, by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond. (Non religious, and very sensible advice.)
Novels I’ve enjoyed while recovering: GOOD-BYE FOR NOW, by Laurie Frankel. (This book would make a great movie. It’s highly original, with likable characters.)
I FOUND YOU, by Lisa Jewell.
THE BOOK OF SUMMER, by Michelle Gable
WINDFALL, by Jennifer E. Smith
GINNY MOON, by Benjamin Ludwig (This story is REALLY special.)
JACKIE’S GIRL, by Kathy McKeon
MRS. KENNEDY AND ME, by Clint Hill. (In case you haven’t noticed, I am an admirer of this particular Kennedy)
DRIVING MISS NORMA, by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle (An amazing account of living–and dying–well)
PRIESTDADDY, by Patricia Lockwood (Quite irreverent, so not for everyone, but I enjoyed every word.)
LOVE LIFE, by Rob Lowe (The man is not only ridiculously good-looking, he’s smart as hell. There’s a lot of wisdom here.)
LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, by Dianne Hales. (I have spent quite a bit of time in Italy, and, after London, it is my favorite place in Europe. I speak what I call boat-person Italian, as in “Not hot water my apartment”, and have just enough high school Spanish to confuse myself, but I dearly love the language, and the way words are not only spoken, but caressed. Whether I return to Italy or not, I want to reach a level of competency.)
That’s my reading/listening list for now, though it is far from complete. As I’ve said in previous blogs, I have virtually gorged on books since I got sick. Some went unmentioned because of my policy of never dissing another author’s work; I know full well what is involved in writing a book and, besides, opinions are subjective. We all have certain biases, often unconscious. Other readers may love the very same book–after all, as my dear (and witty) friend Robyn Carr says, “It blew up somebody’s skirt, or it wouldn’t have been published.”
Be well, be happy and, most of all, be kind. It’s a challenging world out there and, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, if we don’t all learn to hang together, we shall almost certainly hang separately.