Tag Archive | Novel

Laughter in the Rain

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“The stranger is here. I can feel it. She’s close.
The words vibrated in the dark room and stirred the night air inside the small izba at the far end of Tivil, where two dark-haired figures leaned close across a table within an uncertain circle of light. A measured sprinkle of aromatic powder sent a spiral of flashes swirling out from the single candle flame that burned before them. Together they inhaled its delicate fragrance.
‘I’ve drawn her close,’ Rafik murmured. ‘So close I can hear her heartbeat in Tivil.’
His hand hovered over a black cloth on which lay a heavy crystal sphere. It gleamed, shimmered, and seemed to pulse in the darkness as the gypsy’s hand circled above it, slow and attentive, listening to its voice.
‘What do you hear?’ whispered the olive-skinned girl.
‘I hear her heart tearing. I hear her blood spilling, drop by drop, and yet…I hear her laughing.’ The sound was sweet as birdsong in his ears.”
(The Red Scarf, Kate Furnivall, pp. 52) 

Isn’t this beautiful?! It’s out of a novel I’m reading that takes place in 1933 about a young woman who escapes a Siberian labor camp to try to help another prisoner escape later. 
Labor camps are prisons where many innocent people were locked up unjustly and for stupid reasons like just disagreeing with authority.
They are tortured and not taken care of. They are worked sometimes literally to death. They are killed if they make mistakes or do not submit to authority. Many died before their sentence was up. This story isn’t real but labor camps were.

In prison, this young woman, Sofia, meets another young woman, Anna, and they become very close friends. Anna saves Sofia’s life when Sofia gets cut and it becomes infected. She cares for her day and night until it heals. The guards and others do not take care of the prisoners and couldn’t care less if they die, are sick or in pain. 
Anna tells Sofia often, about the boy she loves and hasn’t seen in years. Sofia takes great pleasure in the beautiful stories Anna tells. It’s what sees her through the pain of being locked away in a labor camp day after day, year after year. 
Anna becomes deathly ill and Sofia wants to get her out of there and get her proper care but Anna is too sick to escape so Sofia risks her life escaping so she can go find Anna’s lover and bring him back to her so Anna can escape.
I haven’t read much of the book yet but on the back it says Sofia finds Anna’s love, the boy she still loves after all these years, and Sofia falls in love with him! Uhh ohh! :-/

But it’s more than just a love story involving romantic & platonic love. It’s a mystery and full of danger and adventure. It has a lot of substance and the characters have depth unlike a lot of characters in romantic love stories, who seem one-dimensional.
I love how it’s a love story that involves both friendship love & romantic love. I love novels about friendship. 

This book has over 400 pages. I’m on page 73.

So I don’t know what happens later in the story but it seems Sofia finds herself in a position where she can potentially make a choice to betray her friend or remain loyal but deny herself the love she has for her friend’s man. I hope she will choose loyalty to her friend. 

 I want to share the scene above because it’s beautiful and mysterious and I believe it’s a positive message how we can find joy & laughter even in the midst of sorrow, anxiety, and uncertainty. 

The man and young girl above are father & daughter, Rafik and Zenia, and the teenage girl, Zenia, finds the young woman, Sofia, stealing vegetables out of their garden before Sofia suffers a head injury and falls unconscious. The father and daughter take Sofia in, knowing she’s a fugitive and it can put their own lives in danger. But they are good people who want to help her. The man and his daughter have some psychic abilities. They don’t know everything though and the daughter’s are not as strong as her father’s.

It’s a lovely book if the part I read up until now is any indication. 

So, I hope you are having a great day or night and lots of love to you! ❤

😀

Xoxo Kim 

You’ve got LOVE mail!! <3

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“No stars are out tonight but we’re shining our own light.”

In the novel I previously wrote about, “The Last of Her Kind,” one character, a young woman, who I wrote about here,loves Mick Jagger and she heard that he was receiving “hate mail” so she decided to send him LOVE mail!

She writes this:

“I understand that you have received a lot of hate mail and even THREATS AGAINST YOUR LIFE. This has really freaked me out and has made me decide to write you LOVE MAIL every day. I don’t want you ever to forget that your true fans cherish and adore you and will always stand by you.” (pp. 170-1)

I just LOVE this concept! Not just sending someone love mail, that too, but bringing light and positivity into places where there is a lot of darkness and pain or negativity. It’s great to be positive in general but it’s especially important to bring light & love to places where it’s really lacking. 

I love how this character decides to take action to bring love to a place that she knows needs more. She is kind enough to reach out and remind the man that people still love him. He may or may not need that reminder or even care about all the people who loathe or even love him. But it’s still good to see someone putting love out into the world. It’s the best we can do. ❤

If we see someone receiving unpleasant messages on social media, let's make it a point to write that person positive or encouraging messages. If we meet or know someone who is hopeless, let's attempt to bring some sense of hope to that person. Maybe it won't work but maybe it will and at least the person will see someone cares. Let's brighten a dark room with the light of our smiles. Bring our own sunshine to a rainy day. Send healing energy to someone sick or in pain.
Let's remind people that for all the negative they encounter, there's so much more positive.
Like the character in the book reminds Mick, while there's so much hate directed at him, there's also so much love.
Let's focus more on the LOVE. ❤
Wherever we see that positivity, inspiration, light, or love is lacking, let's bring our own to those places. ❤

And remember when someone unnecessarily criticizes us, writes us a rude message, doesn't like us, wants to see us fall…there's way more people who do like us and ones who would if they knew us. There's more who want to bring us up and see us succeed. It's sometimes easy to focus on the one or few unpleasant comments or remarks or experiences. But there's more love in the world than negativity. 

Also, as I mentioned in my other posts about this book, on pages 79-81, there is a rape scene in case you read the book and want to skip it.

And here’s a sweet song:

All I Need – Jack Wagner – mobile

All I Need – desktop

Lots & lots of LOVE & hugs to you, whoever you are, wherever you are!! 😀

Xoxo Kim ❤

Yin-yang

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In a previous post,Embracing the Light,I mentioned I’m reading a novel called, “The Last of Her Kind” about two girls who were best friends in college for a couple years then had a bad argument and ended their friendship but the woman telling the story, many years later, still thinks of her former friend very frequently and is still impacted by her friend even though she has not seen her in years. She seems to no longer have any hostility for the girl who was once her best friend.

This isn’t a book review. I’m still reading the book, I haven’t reached the end yet. It’s a very great book, incredibly realistic and deep. There are beautiful scenes in this book. I will share one here.

But first I will again mention like I did in my other post, that there is a brief rape scene in the book. Whenever I write/talk about books that I know there is sexual violence in, I caution people in case anyone wants to avoid that part. I know it can be extremely traumatic for some people to read if they have experienced some kind of trauma. So on pages 79-81, the narrator talks about when she was raped by a stranger in a park, as a college girl. The worst of it is on page 80 in the book I’m reading. I think it’s a good idea if we all caution anyone we tell about a movie or book that has a scene like that. Even if people stop reading/watching after they begin,it can be too late and post traumatic stress or flash backs or any distress can already be triggered. Or some people feel that once they begin something, they have to complete it or may not realize after they begin reading/watching, how bad it will be. It’s always good to try to help in any way we can and a simple caution can help prevent a serious trigger for someone. They may still read/watch anyway and that’s up to them but it’s good just to let them know. 

(there won’t be any really big spoilers here but if you prefer not to know anything more about the book you may not want to continue reading if you plan to read the book)

Anyway, here is one of the beautiful scenes I will share out of this book:

“She lit a few candles around the room and she lit some joss sticks and she got out her guitar. I listened to her sing and wondered when she had become so good. Her voice was assured and pure and vibrant with feeling. The songs she sang were mostly songs she had written herself, and they were about love and pain and what was right with the world and what was wrong with it, and for all she had suffered she praised the wounded world and sang of her tender feelings for man, she sang angelically of hope and forgiveness, and I was blown away by this kid’s wisdom and goodness, and I was proud. Maybe my little sister didn’t have to go back to school. Maybe she knew everything already.” (pp.181)

How beautiful! The narrator, Georgette, has this to say about her little sister. 

Her sister is severely mentally ill and struggles with substance addiction and some physical illnesses,she cannot have children, she was also abused as a child and had, and still in some ways has a very difficult life. She has recurrent psychiatric hospitalizations. She doesn’t have a complete high school education. But she is full of deep wisdom, and often is able to keep hope and wonder alive and not only praise the good in the world but celebrate the bad with the good through her music, writing, and just in her being. She has a kind and gentle heart. 

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This is only a fiction book but there are real people like this too. Those who choose to cherish the good and use the negative aspects of life to their advantage by creating whatever it is they feel a calling to create…music, artistic material, singing, dancing, writing….or anything. We can take our pain and struggles and allow them to deepen our empathy and compassion for others. And we can take all our pain and joy and beauty and create something. Even something as simple as a blog post or message to help inspire or uplift others. 

Life doesn’t have to be perfect or without pain to be good. Life is beautiful even with the pain. Sometimes we may forget to celebrate the good when we’re too consumed in the pain, negativity, or distress and it’s great to have reminders.  

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(the sky wasn’t really this bright & pink, I put an effect on it but it’s pretty isn’t it?!) 😀

The world is full of bad but it’s also full of good. When we see on the news or are involved in tragedies like massacres or hurricanes and tornadoes, floods, fires, accidents, sickness….we see/feel/know the devastation. But we also see/feel/know the love and compassion of others, even strangers, that comes pouring in to those in need. We see people volunteering time, donating money and other material objects, offering to help, and just sending positive comments and well wishes. For every rude comment we receive on social media, we receive many more loving ones. 

There is more love, more light, more good than pain. And it's all what we focus on that will stand out. We don't have to deny the negativity, we can help it when we can and accept it and use it for good when we cannot help or prevent it. 

This beautiful scene is a great reminder to bring more hope and forgiveness to the world, more love and light and acceptance. We can't all sing and play instruments and write songs like this girl but we all have some way to bring beauty to the world even if it's just a warm smile or positive attitude or just sharing an uplifting quote. 

We all have the ability to put more light out into the world. ❤

Much love to you! 😀

Xoxo Kim 

Befriending our emotions

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“Life isn’t about learning how to weather the storm. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”~Vivian Greene

I read a novel, which I posted about last week, called “First Do No Evil” by Dr. Carey Baldwin, medical doctor and author, wife, mother, and with quite a few advanced degrees! She writes mystery books. The books are part of a series but can also be read individually. They’re mostly about doctors, usually a thirty something year old woman with a painful past who is now in some sort of trouble, like being stalked or the target of murder/homicide attempt, who meets a man who tries to help her and they begin to fall in love. The books are full of mystery, adventure, and romance. The characters are of substance and the stories are fascinating, page turners. Dr. Baldwin, the author of this book, former clinical psychologist, and now a family medical doctor, is a hopeless romantic and a genius! So her novels include romance along with the thrilling mystery and adventure.  Her books are intended for adults, not appropriate for teenages, as they contain explicit sexual scenes and adult language/content, and physical violence, even murder. Some romance novels are hallow, with no depth, not much of a plot, but these ones are not like that. They are full of beauty and amazing life lessons. 

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Here is one such lesson: 

“Above the clunking of snow chains, at last, Danny heard his phone. Grabbing it, he checked the display. It was the captain. His breathing grew ragged, and the hairs on the back of his neck lifted. Fear can do funny things to a man. It can paralyze his diaphragm and vocal cords so he can hardly breathe, so he can’t even manage to scream for help; or it can pump his muscles so full of adrenaline he can fend off an army of aliens. Fear can be a man’s worst enemy, or his best friend. Danny knew he had a choice. 
He chose friend.” 

This is a fantastic reminder of how seemingly negative or unpleasant emotions can serve a purpose if we allow them to. 

Guilt – can trigger us to make things right – it can inspire us to say sorry if we wronged someone, tell the truth, and avoid doing things to hurt others and be more mindful of our actions.

Anger – can fuel us or break us. When we get super angry about a certain issue or at a certain person, anger can trigger us to reach out to do something. Reach out not in a destructive way but in a productive way to help or to try to make things better. If we are angry about a political cause, for example, we can reach out in compassion and love to help, not give into the fury and react in a hostile way. Love and compassion can inspire us to act and so can anger and fury when we use it in a constructive way. 

Sadness – When we are sad, we can reach out to help or uplift others in similar situations. Our own sadness can deepen our empathy.  

Grief and loss– grief can help us in a similar way and can inspire us to build our lives into something better, we can become like new, use our grief to push us forward and rebuild ourselves while also reaching out in love and empathy to console others. 

Disappointment/sense of failure/frustration – teach us lessons and motivate us to work even harder. We can acquire/develop more skills along the way and use our experiences to help others. 

Pain of any kind can be our catalyst for positive change in general and can deepen our wisdom and strength and empathy. Pain can bring us to ruin and then we can take that ruin and become even better. Sometimes after experiencing severe pain of any sort, we can change our lives to be better in general than even before that pain. 

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Jealousy – When we feel jealous that someone has something we don’t, that jealousy can inspire us to work harder for what we want or to work on ourselves to accept how we are instead of wanting what we cannot have. It can also provoke us to look within and see what is going on, to see what we feel is lacking or why we feel that way. Then we can become even better/stronger than before. 

Fear/panic – fear can pump us to act or trigger us to collapse and we can choose which to allow.

Unpleasant seeming emotions can inspire and motivate us to create, to build, to reach out, to survive. 

Depression, anxiety, chronic pain, illness…anything that seems negative or unpleasant can be our friend, our teacher, our motivation. 

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Think about your unpleasant emotions. How have they helped you? How can they help you now and in the future? How can you use them to your advantage instead of letting them drag you down?  What can they teach you? Tapping into the wisdom of each experience and emotion is a skill that we can develop to be better. 

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~Let pain make you better, not bitter.~

I’m wishing you much love and light today and always. I hope you are having a beautiful day or night wherever you are! ❤

Xoxo Kim 😀

Today <3

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“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman

Today is a very cold, very gray, beautiful wet day. It’s not exactly raining but everything seems wet. It’s night now but all day was gray and beautiful. It’s very cold, almost like Winter or the end of Fall. It’s bittersweet. I know it’s probably the last day or one of the last days that is cold. I LOVE all four seasons and they all have their blessings and unique qualities. They are all beautiful. I cherish each one and try to always be mindful of the beauty they are. But it’s always Winter inside my heart. In Winter and Fall I rarely wish for warm days. In Summer, there are more days I long for, even crave Winter or Fall. 

I’m soaking up every single bit of wet cold beauty I can today! 
Today on my way to Buddhist meditation class I was astounded by the almost palpable beauty. It was almost as if I could touch it, not touch the beautiful things but touch or hold the beauty itself. Touch or hold the concept, the very essence of beauty. I felt very alive and felt the heartbeat of the city become one with my own, as if throbbing in my chest, pulsing through my veins. I felt it deep in my bones, tingling in every cell of my body. Every breath I took, I felt I was breathing in the sounds, the sights, the scents, the intense beauty of the city. This feeling is not new to me but it always feels new. I feel it often, sometimes immensely, sometimes more quietly, sometimes not at all. But I can never get used to it. Sometimes this feeling, this life inside disappears for so long I am convinced it will never be back again. Then out of the blue, it comes and tightly embraces me like a long lost friend who promises to always come back to me.  

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This feeling has always come naturally to me but with practice and certain experiences, I have come to strengthen it. Sometimes it comes out of the blue, like today. And sometimes I can summon it on my own. 

One thing that I find that helps me deepen this sense of beauty and gratitude and awe of everything around me, is taking pictures/photography.  For people who are interested in capturing beauty in artistic forms like painting, drawing, or photography, whether as a hobby or professional career, it can be easier to see, feel, taste the beauty all around because our brains get trained to see things and look for things to capture in a photo or painting or drawing. Then even when we’re not out looking, even when we are without our phones or cameras or paints and pencils, these little gems jump out at us. The more interested I have become in taking pictures, the more developed my sense of awe has become. I originally loved taking pictures because I feel so much beauty and want to capture & share it, but then picture taking only enhanced that feeling of awe in me.

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Photography, painting, drawing, writing…. can all capture simple beauty in a way that makes it stand out more than it does in “real life.” I think many of us generally overlook very simple, very mundane things such as reflections, shadows, a sliver of light creeping through the slit as a result of a door on a dark room being ajar when the hall or other room outside is lit. We often stand in awe or deep appreciation of something dramatically beautiful such as bright, colorful flowers, a beautiful woman in a wedding dress on her wedding day or in stiletto heels and tight blue jeans walking down a street, a dramatic sunset over the ocean waves while lounging on a beach, a baby who is just born, an expensive mansion, an exotic animal, amazing looking food, an incredible looking car, an elegant dress, a flashing diamond ring,…you get the picture! But how often do we look in wonder at a shadow on a ground, maybe a shadow of a tree or person, the way sunlight reflects on signs or cars, the fuzz on a honeybee, the gentle illumination of street lights on a dark street at night, tattered signs, faded poles at busstops with the bus numbers on them, old pay phones, broken glass glittering in the daylight against concrete, an empty beer bottle resting in vibrant green glass, a lemon floating in iced tea, glistening ice cubes chilling a cup of soda….for many, it’s probably never or extremely rarely. But in photography, paintings, drawings, and writing like poetry or novels or descriptions, these things can be beautifully captured and portrayed in artistic forms that can’t help but force us to see, notice, feel the beauty of them, these things we tend to ignore in real life outside of artistic creations. 

And for people who engage in these activities, they can help us further ingrain our habit of seeing and feeling the beauty in real life outside of poetry and novels and photos and paintings or drawings. They help deepen our wonder at the things our eyes and hearts catch. They make it easier for simple treasures to jump out at us as we’re walking up a city street, sitting quietly at a riverside, driving on a busy expressway, meditatively peering out a bus window on a dreary gray day or a green day with life blossoming all around. 

But not everyone is interested in photography or painting, writing, or drawing. Whatever you’re interested in though, it’s fantastic to pursue it, engage in it, get lost in it and let it reel you in. This can bring you to life, fill you with passion for all of life, enthuse you in general. When we are so happy and passionate in one aspect of life, it can carry over into other aspects, even ones that aren’t so great at the moment. It’s like falling in love or having a big crush. You know the intoxicated feeling when you meet someone you are very attracted to or seeing someone you are in love with? That feeling carries over to everywhere and suddenly life is amazing in ways you never really noticed or forgot about…it can be like this even if we aren’t in love with someone. It’s falling in love with life itself. 

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We don’t need “big” things, lots of money, kids, or romantic love to feel this way often. These things are great too but we don’t need them to be in love with life. All we have to do is open our eyes, heart, and look, see, feel, stop ignoring the simple things, the mundane things, the blessings surrounding us always. You don’t have to be a photographer, a painter, or an artist of any kind. 

“Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most every thing I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream
Everything I want the world to be
Is now comin’ true especially for me” ~ the Carpenters 

Imagine feeling this way everyday or at least very often or even just more often than now.

It’s possible.  

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Isn’t this beautiful?! It just goes to show how someone can inspire us and we can see life through that person’s eyes every now and then even if we aren’t interested in the same things. We can feed off of the passion, life, enthusiasm of others. This police officer is deeply inspired by his wife who is a painter with a passionate thirst for life, and while at work, he wishes she was there. This is out of a fiction book I’m reading called “First Do No Evil,” Book 1 in a series by Dr. Carey Baldwin who is an author, a medical doctor/family doctor, and has like two ph.d’s as well, she’s a wife and mother of multiple children. Ummm…is she like Wonder Woman?! I read Book 2 in this series already, not realizing it’s a series. They can be read together or separately and in any order and still make sense. The same characters appear in the books and there’s some subtle references to other books but the author makes it still make sense just to read one individually. She’s an amazing writer of mystery books. It seems most of her books are about doctors. Usually her main characters are a very strong,
beautiful, compassionate, loving, and broken woman who is 30 something years old, has a very painful past, a medical degree, and gets into trouble like is being stalked and needs help. I love her characters and how much depth they have. They are so realistic. And she’s a doc herself so she knows her stuff! Her novels involve romance, mystery, adventure, and healing. They also involve humor, sometimes I laugh hysterically, uncontrollably. They contain adult content in certain scenes. Very vulgar language at some points, and hot sexy scenes, definitely only for adults. Amazing plots, characters, and endings!

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Let’s remember to allow others to inspire us and remember to be the inspiration to anyone we can!

I hope you are having a wonderful day or night wherever you are! Much love to you!

Xoxo Kim

Sharing is Caring <3

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I’m reading a beautiful novel called “The Well of Loneliness” by Radclyffe Hall, which takes place in the 1920’s and is classified as “Lesbian fiction.” It’s considered to be the very first novel to condemn homophobia and the unfair treatment of gay people. It was originally published in 1928.

While it’s not an autobiography,  it is inspired by the author’s real life. It’s said to be the “thinly disguised story of Radclyffe Hall’s own life.”  It’s about a woman named Stephen who is considered to be very different than the average woman. She’s somewhat masculine and is a lesbian. Even when she’s not open about her sexual orientation, people can kind of sense it. But this is the 20’s and not only is homosexuality condemned by society, it’s not even thought of much and almost never talked about. Even though people have an idea of the concept, it’s like they don’t even know what it’s called or how to even talk about it in words or fathom it. It’s so unheard of, it’s like there’s not even a word for it, it seems in this novel. They all have an idea about Stephen, that she’s not how she “should be.” As a child she was said not to have the “pretty little ways” of the other little girls. She wanted short hair and to be a boy.
Since she was a child, she worked out unlike other little girls. Now she’s muscular and considered to be unusual. She also fences “like a man.” She doesn’t like girly things and dresses in masculine suits with ties.
She is considered quite attractive, just not in a feminine way. 
She’s kind of shy, lacks confidence, and often feels as if she’s being mocked by those around her. 
But she knows what she wants and goes for it even though others criticize and exclude her. I love how Stephen loves and cares deeply for animals. And people too.

People know as a young woman she’s not romantically interested at all in men. And they do not like this at all. She is only interested in being friends with men. 
But men/boys feel threatened by her because she’s better at boy activities than even they are.

Even Stephen herself doesn’t understand what is going on. She knows, as the people in her community suspect, that she’s only romantically attracted to women. She thinks there is something wrong with her but also she knows there’s nothing wrong with her. She knows her attraction and love for other women is not wrong or unnatural or immoral but she can’t help but feel in some way that there’s something “wrong” with her because of how others treat her. 

To her, her love feels so right, so natural, so strong, it can’t possibly be wrong.
Most people won’t accept her. They gossip about her very unkindly. The only two people who seem to accept her, homosexuality and all, are her dad and her teacher.
The novel is about how she falls in love with a woman who loves her back and no one around them accepts this and won’t even let them in their houses. This puts a kind of strain on their relationship. Then a man comes along and says he can give Stephen’s lover the “respectability” that Stephen cannot if she will leave Stephen for him. This is a threat to their relationship and puts their love for one another to the test. 

One of the most beautiful lines in the novel is:

“‘You’re neither unnatural, nor abominable, nor mad; you’re as much a part of what people call nature as anyone else; only you’re unexplained as yet- you’ve not got your niche in creation. But some day that will come, and meanwhile don’t shrink from yourself, but just face yourself calmly and bravely. Have courage; do the best you can with your burden. But above all be honourable. Cling to your honour for the sake of those who share the same burden. For their sakes show the world that people like you and they can be quite as selfless and fine as the rest of mankind. Let your life go to prove this- it would be a really great life-work, Stephen.'” (pp. 154)

One of the characters in the book plans to say this to Stephen but she has to be careful or they both can get into social trouble if it’s overheard by others, Stephen for being a lesbian, the other character for supporting her . 

Isn’t this beautiful?! While there’s nothing intrinsic to homosexuality itself that is painful or immoral or wrong or detrimental and there’s nothing about consensual adult homosexual encounters/relationships that is wrong, to many lgbtq people, it can feel that way because of the way others view and treat them or their sexuality.  Homosexuality isn’t a burden. What is the burden, is having to put up with prejudicial attitudes and discrimination. 

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I think the line I shared above can apply to all of us with any situation we have whether good, bad, or neutral. We can have a situation that is painful or frustrating or distressing either because of the thing itself or the way people view the thing. For example when someone has depression or anxiety, that itself is not good, and on top of it, people often misunderstand or misjudge those who struggle with those disorders. And then there are even good things that can become painful because of how other people react. Like some goals and dreams some people have which may not be supported by friends and family of the person. For example, some people want to be an artist and the family won’t accept it, maybe thinking it’s pointless or that the person won’t get much money or get anywhere in life being an artist. But being an artist of any sort is a great thing! It’s amazing. But it won’t always feel that way with other people pressuring them to be/do something else. Stephen or anyone can have a beautiful romantic relationship with a lover of the same gender or even a different gender but it can feel “wrong” or painful because other people try to get in the way for whatever reason. 

But as this line in the book shows, there’s always someone out there somewhere in a similar situation who can really be helped in some way by our stories. They may be feeling very lonely and hopeless and knowing examples of others in similar situations can bring them consolation, inspiration, motivation, and help them muster the strength to keep going. 

It’s not always easy to share our stories because no matter what there’s always going to be those who criticize unnecessarily, mock, judge, try to get in the way…,whether they are friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers. 

 But I think it’s worth it to share our stories, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the taboo, and the unthinkable…to help others somehow. Some people want desperately to share their story of a life situation they experience/d but they are deathly afraid of being judged. It’s ok to be afraid. But I think we can “feel the fear and do it anyway.” There’s someone, many someones, out there who need us and can draw on our strength. When people criticize us unnecessarily and judge us negatively, we can love them and move forward, letting them judge and criticize. It has nothing to do with us or how we really are. 

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I love this book even though I haven’t read it all yet. It’s so beautiful, the story, the love, the imagery, the boldness, and how it’s written, almost poetically. The beauty and imagery just flow. And it’s written with passion and deep understanding as the author herself, has in reality experienced very similar circumstances as Stephen.  It’s a very old story but it’s not written in a way that is hard to understand. I was expecting to not understand some things as the English language long ago wasn’t exactly the same as now and in some old texts they had to allude to certain taboo concepts like homosexuality, suicide, adultery…as those things were considered unthinkable. But this book is quite candid. It’s said to be “Shockingly candid for its time.”

There’s not much allusion. The author is upfront in her writing. I love the candor. The author, I feel, is a hero for having the courage to write this novel back then, when she would have been horribly judged and  criticized, discriminated against. In fact, her novel was banned and her literary career was almost ended.  Imagine how many people were/are helped and inspired by this novel. Sadly, these things linger even today but fortunately they are often less severe than way back then, still, they are all too common. I think this novel is a gift to the world (and I haven’t even read the entire thing yet. Lol) I’m happy she had the balls to write and get it published back then. Imagine the strength it took. Even today lgbtq people are discriminated against and the targets of prejudicial attitudes, so imagine how much more courage it took back in the 20’s to put her story out there! 

So I find so much wisdom in the story and feel I must share it!

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Much love to you! ❤

😀

Xoxo Kim ❤

Sometimes we can all use a reminder <3

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I’m reading a novel called “When Crickets Cry,” and it’s beautiful, I read over half. It’s quite the page turner. 

It’s another one of those books I got just because I like the title/cover. I think I mentioned here before that I do in fact judge books by their covers. 😀 It’s ok though, it’s usually a positive judgment!

;-D

And here, I actually love the content as well!

I’m going to write about it later after I read the entire thing. I have so much highlighted throughout the book that I find beautiful and inspirational and there’s one thing I want to share today.

This is an excerpt or brief conversation out of the book.

It’s not a big spoiler in case you’re intending to read the book; it doesn’t give anything away to ruin the ending (not that I read the end but I’m assuming it’s no big shocker, however the concept does hone in on one of the main themes of the book) or anything. But if you would prefer not to know anything at all until reading it you know to stop reading here. This wisdom applies to all of us whether or not we read this book. 

A retired heart/transplant surgeon is talking to another character, the other character is the narrator of the book so he’s telling this of his conversation with the retired surgeon:

Surgeon:

“‘I knew a farmer once,’ he started, staring out over the fence. ‘Think his name was James. Had an orange tree, a lot like that one. It hadn’t bloomed in several years and wasn’t looking too good. Still had green on it, but not much. One morning I caught him standing next to it, sizing it up and murmuring to himself. In one hand he held a hammer, and in the other he held three twelve-inch spikes. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me to stand back, and then he drove one of the spikes into the trunk, about knee height. That nail split the thin skin on that tree, and the farther in he drove it, the more white ooze seeped out around the head of the nail. He drove a second at waist level and a third about here.’ He raised his hand level with his collarbone.” 

The second character asks:

“‘Why?’ I asked.”

Retired surgeon:

“That’s exactly what I asked him. You know what he said? “

Second character :

“I took the bait. ‘What?'”

Retired surgeon :

“‘He said,’ ‘Sometimes trees forget they were meant to blossom and just need to be reminded.'” 

Second character :

“I look at the three spikes and asked ‘Why not ten spikes?’ He shook his head and eyed the tree. ‘Nope, three is a good enough dose. Don’t want to kill it, just remind it.'”

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I think this is perfect. Sometimes we do need reminders that we are meant to bloom, meant to be fantastic, to be amazing. And it’s good to gently remind others as well as ourselves. 

Have you ever given up on who or what you are for any reason? Maybe you kept trying and not succeeding how you intended. Maybe you were criticized by others in some way, rejected, hurt, broken, exhausted….so you just quit.

Maybe quit something specifically or just quit participating fully, in this life, just walking around feeling stagnant, bland, blah, depressed, maybe succumbing to your bed or walking around like a zombie, not taking advantage of the gift of life we have all been blessed with.

It’s ok, you just need a gentle, sweet, reminder now and again to get back up and embrace you for you.

Since I’m prone to depression, I need reminders, sometimes frequently. Reminders to get back up and blossom into the me I know I am underneath the despair and pain.

I also appreciate the message of gentleness here. 

“Nope, three is a good enough dose. Don’t want to kill it, just remind it.”

We don’t want to be preachy or offensive, giving unsolicited or uncalled for, unwelcome advice, or use a condescending tone. There are appropriate occasions and appropriate ways to provide someone with truly uplifting, comforting, and inspiring reminders. 

It’s almost never good to say “get over it,” “pull yourself out of it,” or “it’s not that bad,” even if we’re intending this in a positive way, when to that person it really feels like the end of the world.  

It’s good to be firm but warm in some cases. 

We can use our intuition or knowledge to detect what stage of the problem someone is in. For example, if someone just experiences a breakup of a relationship or loses a person or pet to death, it’s probably not at all helpful to be saying potentially inspiring, motivational,  or uplifting things like “you’ll move on, find someone better, heal quickly, be happy again, recover….” those things are appropriate in some cases, at some stages but it’s too soon when it just occurs. No one really wants to hear it when two seconds ago, the person’s heart was ripped out and trampled on or when the person is currently in the throes of the deepest, blackest depression. 

At first it’s good just to attempt to provide a sense of comfort, listening, a hug, just being present, helping the person with everyday tasks to make things easier…

Also, sharing quotes, songs, and books on social media just to people in general is a great idea, then people can find it that way and can embrace it or leave it without it being in their faces or condescending. If it resonates with them, they can pursue it more, if not, they can click it off.  

Please, don’t give up, find your little specks of “green” that you still posses like the tree in the little story above. So much wisdom. Then nourish those bits of green in you until they blossom into beautiful vibrant leaves like the dawn of Spring. Keep going, baby, you got this!

😀 

Xoxo Kim ❤

3:00AM

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“Let’s cherish every moment we have been giving; the time is passing by…” ~ Kool & the Gang

Hello,  My name is Henry Bins and I have Henry Bins. Lol jk That’s an inside joke to myself. ;-D

I read a fiction book called “3:00AM” about a man named Henry Bins and he has a very rare sleep disorder which was named after him because he is one of three people in the world to have it and he was the first to be diagnosed.

He says “My name is Henry Bins and I have Henry Bins!” lol

It’s like a mixture of comedy, suspense, thriller, adventure, drama, love, mystery…I guess you can say. I love it!

The disorder causes him to sleep 23 out of 24 hours a day. It’s beyond his control. He wakes up every morning at 3:00am then just drops wherever he is at 4:00am and goes to sleep.

He had this disorder his whole life. It’s no walk in the park for him but he learned to live with it. He learned to adjust and cherish every moment he has awake.

His mom left him and his dad when he was a child and his dad brought him up and loves him unconditionally. He always wanted Henry to be as normal as possible and he made sure he was educated and well socialized. He would teach him reading and writing and he would bring children to their house at 3:00 am to play with Henry. Henry is about 36 years old in the novel, I think, and he’s as “normal” as can be.

He uses the Internet and goes out running and listens to music. But every single minute, literally, has to be planned out so he can get the most out of his life and be home safely in bed before he drops.

It’s also a murder mystery, this book. One morning just before 4:00 he was in his bedroom and he heard a woman scream like she was being murdered. Because she was being murdered. 

They live near Washington D.C.

He looked out his window at her house across the street and saw Connor Sullivan,  44th president of the United States, walking out and the president looked up and saw Henry! Then Henry dropped to the floor asleep. And woke up all stiff and injured. He doesn’t drift off to sleep around 4:00am, he will literally drop and sleep with absolutely no control. He already ended up in an emergency room occasionally because of dropping to sleep and being injured when he was out places too late.

He learned to make sure he’s in bed right before 4:00am.

There’s no known cure for this (fictional) disorder.

Because of knowing his time is limited, he carefully plans to make the most of literally every single minute he’s awake. He is mindful of all the ways he can have fun, of all the beauty around him. He cherishes each and every moment he’s awake. He knows at 4:00am he will be asleep until the next day. He had a few girlfriends at different points but it never worked out because they couldn’t handle his disorder. He says the only thing worse than being or having Henry Bins is being in love with Henry Bins. 

He plays video games, listens to music, runs for fun, reads books, checks out online dating websites, plays cards with his dad, has a stock business, a cat, and is generally happy. He pretty much has a full life. He sometimes wonders what it would be like if he did not have this disorder. He wonders if he would be married with kids but he knows he can’t be wasting minutes sulking or wondering “what if…???”

Henry says:

“I force myself to stay in the moment. I don’t have time for the past or the future. My life is the present. For many years I played the what if game. What if I had a normal life? Where would I be? Would I be married? Would I have kids? But then twenty or thirty minutes would be gone. Wasted. Thinking about things that I can’t change. That are unchangeable.”

See how this can apply to most of us to some extent? Who doesn’t at least once think “What if….?” We may think what if we were different or our lives were somehow different…what if we made a different choice, weren’t struggling with things beyond our control, looked different, were married or married to someone else, chose to go to school instead of certain jobs, did not have to put up with certain people, had more money…..

But all we have is now and what we currently are. It’s good to work to better ourselves but not fret or obsess over what we can’t change, what could have or should have been, or negatively compare our lives to others. 

He doesn’t have much but what he does have is enough. He has one hour each day and he knows how to make the most of it.

Henry wakes up and he says, about the green numbers on his electronic clock,

“The glowing green embers also tell me it’s 3:01am. 
One minute gone.” 

Three minutes later after going online and checking his accounts, he says:

“3:04. 
Four minutes gone.”

There is a profound revelation here.

“One minute gone.”

“Two minutes gone.”

“Three minutes gone…”

(he doesn’t count down like this throughout the entire book – that may be kind of annoying lol)

Henry, because of his disorder, only has a limited amount of time so he knows not to waste any of it at all. 

Every single moment is important and worthy of being embraced. 

For every minute he must decide what he wants to do that minute, what is worth it. Does he want to read, listen to a song, play a video game, masturbate(lol he decides that at this moment it isn’t worth it)…? Each minute he does something he doesn’t really care to do is a minute wasted, a minute he can never have back. 

But guess what?! It’s not because of his sleep disorder that he only has a limited amount of time! This is true for all of us! His case is just more dramatic than most of ours but none of us has an unlimited supply of minutes awake!

One day, just like Henry Bins, we will drop except we won’t get back up again.

Henry was forced to realize this because of his condition. We are not usually forced by life circumstances to realize this to the depth that Henry is. Some people diagnosed with terminal illnesses or ones who have a near death experience see this much more deeply than probably the average person.

In some ways, his disorder allows him to even live more fully than a person without a disorder like this. What we may see as life hindering actually sets him free. To live more deeply, more completely, more sweetly than the rest.

He says

“…I spend a perfect minute watching a trawler sucked downstream by the sweeping black current. I used to wonder what it would look like during the light of day, how the water would look under a burning sun and puffy white clouds, but day didn’t exist in my world. Only night. Only darkness.”

I love this statement for a couple of reasons. It shows how much many people take for granted. The simple beauty we too often overlook.  The beauty of day and night. It shows us how we have access to mundane things we overlook everyday that some people long to have and never do. Like daylight. Some people are always in the dark. 
The next morning you wake up to the light of day, look around you and pretend you are Henry Bins finally seeing the light of day. Look with new eyes like you have never seen beauty in the sun. Isn’t it lovely?
 This statement also shows acceptance. He can’t have day where he lives in his position and he just cherishes what he does have.

He knows it’s not wise to spend his moments being concerned over stuff he can’t do much about currently. 

“The corpse of the woman continuously creeps into my thoughts as I run, but each time I am able to ward it off with a tight squeeze of my eyes and a gaze up at the starry sky. This is my time. Not hers.”

Sometimes we have to practice self-care and not put too much time and energy into other people’s problems and stuff we can’t change. This is especially poignant when we realize our time is limited. I think we all, or most of us,  grow up with the knowledge we won’t be around forever. But knowing and realizing/feeling it are two different concepts. Once we feel it to a certain depth, we may be more motivated to change our ways to live in the present moment mindfully, with gratitude.

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Since Henry’s time is especially limited, he checks his cell phone a lot for the minute. He has to so he can get back home safely and plan out how much of each thing he would like to engage in.

Since he lives near a murder scene, he is questioned by detectives. 

The one detective wonders why he almost  constantly checks his phone. She says,

“What’s one minute to the next at three in the morning?”

Henry is infuriated.

This detective does not know of Henry’s condition and he doesn’t care to explain it to her. 

Also, he made a big mistake and he does have something to hide.

He says to the reader,

“Those minutes are my life, I nearly scream. Those minutes that you take so much for granted because you get a thousand of them each day are priceless to me. Your life is measured by title, wealth, and status. My life is measured in grains of sand, trickling from one teardrop to the other.
My nostrils flare when I’m angry and I wonder if Ray feels a small gust of wind. Taking a calm breath, I ponder telling her that I’m Henry Bins and I have Henry Bins. I don’t.” 

(Ingrid Ray is the homicide detective – it’s cute because Henry and her have a little crush on each other! Lol)

At one point Henry says,

“It’s like Christmas, each minute a beautifully wrapped gift just waiting to be opened. Should I allow myself an extra minute in the shower? Could I read three more pages of my book? Run another quarter mile? Watch a YouTube video? Watch the swimming pool scene from Wild Things, twice?”

Isn’t this beautiful? Each minute of his life is a beautiful gift. Each minute itself. Every minute to him is full of wonder and possibility. If only we would all think this way quite often! 

After reading this novel I noticed a change in me even without trying. I came to have an even deeper appreciation for my minutes and became even more mindful after just reading this book once. Then I began to apply the concept consciously and intentionally even more than I used to, the concept that each minute is a gift. A perfect gift. A minute is brief, fleeting. But it’s something. And every minute matters. 

Have you ever wasted minutes? I sure have. Have you ever waited for a bus or train and just keep anxiously looking up the street as if it will make it appear or keep looking at your watch? Or keep thinking where in the hell is this bus or train? Or have you ever waited somewhere for someone to pick you up to go somewhere and when it’s nearing the hour the person should be coming for you, you don’t just sit and be peaceful, instead you feel like just getting it over with and like there’s no point in starting anything like reading or watching a movie or anything because you will be leaving soon, in just a matter of minutes?

But even five minutes is enough to be some kind of productive. One minute is.  You can read a few pages of a book, meditate, write in a journal, a draft for a blog post… If you’re waiting for a bus I don’t think I would recommend deep meditation or maybe not reading and definitely not listening to music with earphones. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings for safety purposes. I do read and listen to music while out and about, occasionally, but I don’t recommend it to others. But you can take in the scene around you or think more productive thoughts than “when is this bus coming?!” or “let’s get this over with!!!”

Those few minutes are minutes that will be lost forever. Let us cherish them completely.

I try not to waste any minute now. The thing that really got this concept to sink in is in the beginning with the “one minute gone…two minutes gone…” That’s so true. For all of us.

I’m not Henry Bins and I don’t have Henry Bins. Lol 
But just like Henry Bins, I do not have a limitless supply of minutes. I can fall asleep at 4:00am and never wake up.

It’s not likely but not impossible. I’m sure I will live to be old, old, old and hopefully indefinite life extension will be a reality and we will all live much longer. But we all have something in common with Henry Bins. 
Each minute is a gift.

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I was careful not to give away any big spoilers. This is a murder mystery but with a deeper message. I strongly recommend it. 
I made it seem really cheesy and sappy here(I’m really into cheese and sap…) but it’s really not. The sappiness is all mine. Lol It’s a fascinating work of fiction both about a murder mystery and a very rare (fictional) disorder and how the man copes and lives with it. But it also has this deeper message. 

This reminds of of a teacher I had in high school, Dr. Zhender. He always told us in every class that no amount of time is too short. 
We can learn something of value in just a few short minutes. At the end of class instead of letting us talk or stand by the door, he would make us sit and watch part of a movie for the last five or ten minutes insisting that we never waste a minute.

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And it reminds me of a professor I had in college for Sociology. Professor Grasmuck. She did the same exact thing. In college when we have an exam we can leave whenever we turn our paper in and when class ends early we often are allowed to leave. If it only takes us ten minutes to complete an exam, we can leave or if a lecture ends early, but never in her class. She made us sit there and told us to read or something or listen to her music. At the end of every class she made us listen to music saying it would do us good. If a student tried to walk out, she would yell “sit back down now!” as if we were children! Lol But I liked it; to me it seemed like an act of caring and I missed high school when we were under the authority of the teachers. In college that’s not how it is. Professor Grasmuck was always very sweet and friendly, very caring and passionate. I have always loved that about her, how moved she would be over the stuff she was teaching us, she really feels it. She was always deeply touched over injustices and the misfortunes of others and how they would help each other.  She just did not want any time wasted in her class. She wanted us to learn and take in all the music and information we could in her class. Every minute counted. Every minute counts. 

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Dr. Z, Henry Bins, & Professor Grasmuck know that every minute is a gift and a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow and cherish.

This is a great lesson to us all!

😀

Xoxo Kim

Another Fall in Philadelphia <3

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“I prefer Winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” ~Andrew Wyeth

I’m so thrilled and filled with immense gratitude that Fall is finally here! It feels like being embraced by a long lost friend! I am just bursting with joy! The day is cool and the nights have been so cool. There are crunchy leaves all around and Pumpkin goodness in every store! I just love it.

I love living in a place where we have four seasons, each very different than the one before and the one after. The thrill of a new season is enthralling! 

I love Hall & Oates, two Philadelphia boys and one of my favorite groups since I was a little girl, for as long as I can remember. I have been listening to their song “Fall in Philadelphia” and my heart wells up with even more gratitude and thrills! Fall in Philadelphia is just the best, nothing can be better! The cobblestone streets, Center City, the Eastern State Penitentiary, the brilliant colors, old buildings, people everywhere, septa busses, trolleys, tour busses, the beauty and love that throbs through the city…
I am beyond blessed.





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Also,

I’m reading a novel called “The Bird Eater” which is said in the reviews to be one of the scariest books ever written! Even people who said they never get scared over books or movies confessed to being scared out of their wits. Lol  I only read like forty pages and I think there over 200. I have been waiting till Fall to read it so I can read it on cool nights all wrapped up in blankets with my little pomeranian boy!

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It’s very good! It’s like we’re unsure if the main character is mentally ill/psychotic or if there’s ghosts haunting him!

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Also, here are some of my favorite Autumn quotes!!

1.) Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like
they’re falling in love with the ground.
Andrea Gibson

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2.)  I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
L.M. Montgomery

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3) Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

4.) I want to say something so embarrassing about September that even the leaves start blushing and turning red.
Jarod Kintz

5.) Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.
Chad Sugg

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I’m falling for this season already. It’s magic!! 😀

I hope everyone is having a wonderful first day of Fall!! 😀

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&persist_app=1&v=Lxpjj3Bp5zg

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 Xoxo Kim

Ugly-beautiful

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“And she’s so pretty cause she will never be…
She’s so pretty to me, to me, to me.
It doesn’t matter what everybody sees.” ~ Jude
 
I’m reading a novel called “My Grandfather’s Eyes.” I don’t know which page I’m on since it’s a Kindle book on my phone and the Kindle books don’t always show a page number. I don’t even know how many pages are in the book. I’m not at the very beginning but not quite to the middle. I know because of the virtual line showing reading progress.

What I read up until now is thoroughly beautiful. The main character, Alexandra or Alex, is something like a psychopath. She’s around thirty-two years old. Alex has no concern, love, affection, care, empathy, or any positive emotion for anyone in the world except for one person, her best friend Lizzy. She loves Elizabeth, or Lizzy, more than anything and anyone else in the entire world and would even die for her if she had to to save Liz’s life. They were best friends since Kindergarten and Alex was always in love with Lizzy but never acted on her romantic interest in her.
Alex was born with a facial deformity, a bump on her forehead and dark moles, some of which are hairy, and grow darker and bigger across the side of her face as the years go on. Alex’s dad took her when she was a little girl, to a cosmetic surgeon to have them removed but Alex refused. She has always loved her moles.

Even as a young woman in college, she cherishes her deformity, she thinks they add to her beauty. But it has always hurt her how most other people would react to her for her whole life, even her own family, her own mom. Many just stare while others say cruel things to and about her.

What I read until now leaves me to believe, for now(i think later she may go on a killing spree or something but not sure), that Alex is more indifferent to people than vicious or cruel, although she does think about and desire killing certain people and she murders her own husband who she was never in love with but he truly loved her. The two loves of her life have always been reading and Lizzy.

She doesn’t care about other people’s pain, she shows no empathy or concern when others come to her with problems or when she witnesses someone suffering. Sometimes she just doesn’t care and sometimes she actually takes pleasure in it. She’s somewhat sadistic.  She has absolutely no regard for human life.

Except Liz’s life. She cries for her when she’s hurt or when she misses her.

Lizzy is a beautiful, thin girl, with long blonde hair, flawless in appearance except for one thing. In high school she made a mistake in chemistry class and burned her hand up her arm which caused severe damage and is now disfigured. She thinks it’s repulsive but Alex finds it beautiful in the same way she knows her own deformity is beautiful. Lizzy is aggressive and funny. She’s intelligent but doesn’t care to display her intelligence. She’s also a thief.

Alex’s facial deformity doesn’t and never has fazed Lizzy. And Lizzy defends Alex when people stare or say rude things. She even kisses Alex goodbye on her “ugliest” and biggest mole.

“As I try to read, there is one thought that overwhelms me: He did not look at my moles. I am sure of this. There is only one other person who does not see them. My Lizzy.” ~ Alex

This may just be the most beautiful line in the book. I just love how she says “does not see them” Instead of “does not look at them” or “does not have a problem with them…” It’s just they don’t see them. They look straight through and see her for her.

The book is Alex reminiscing and telling us about different stages of her life, flashing back and forth.  

What I find beautiful is that the author shows how beauty can be found in ugly things or ugly things can be beautiful themselves. There is beauty in pain and darkness, in sadness, and struggles. Sometimes we can overlook “ugliness” and see the beauty in it or we can actually see “ugly” things, themselves, as beautiful. Maybe something is beautiful because it’s sad or dark or unusual or different.

She loves reading so much that her decision for which university to attend is based on the beautiful library.

“…the Gothic Hall complete with turrets and gargoyles – where I will study English Literature. It is ugly-beautiful and will suit me very well. A fitting place in which to study the works of great authors. I feel the hairs bristle on the back of my neck with the excitement it generates in me.” ~ Alex

It’s beautiful because it’s ugly. It’s dark and aggressive and enthralling.

And even though Alex is like a psycho, her self-love is so very beautiful to me. She’s extremely arrogant but also has genuine love for all that she is in and out. She embraces her ugliness and flaws and refuses to conceal them for what others think and say.

Some people mistake self-love as conceit or arrogance but this character, Alex, with both traits, arrogance and genuine self love, is an embodiment of the sharp difference. Arrogance isn’t love. Someone can be arrogant or act arrogant but have no true love for herself and someone can love herself and not be arrogant. Alex is both. She even admits that she “wears her arrogance like a badge.” But she genuinely appreciates her own physical features and her personality traits. She’s an intellectual with no patience for simple, less intelligent minds and trivial drama.

I also like how Alex isn’t a very beautiful character on the inside but there’s so much beauty to be seen in her anyway. The novel isn’t about a sweet, loving, innocent girl who lives a life of goodness but happens to have a physical deformity where the author plays on our empathy to overlook her physical ugliness but see straight through to her obviously beautiful loving heart of gold and love her anyway.

That would be easy.

This? This is challenging because beneath her physical deformity lies a deformed or ugly heart as well. But it’s impossible not to see incredible traits in her anyway. Like her self love even though she was tormented for being deformed her whole life, her indestructible love for her best friend that she would do anything for even if it puts her out, her passion for literature, the way she appreciates and basks in the simple joys of living like lakes and quietude, the way she bursts out laughing uncontrollably for no reason when she meets the man she’ll eventually marry, her intelligence, and dedication to her goals. We see her humanness as well as her monstrous side. And there are little bits of beauty scattered throughout.

I have felt guilt and various other emotions reading this book. Guilt for judging and guilt for adoring a psycho’s positive qualities and even some of her ugliness. I love when novels provoke uncomfortable as well as beautiful and positive emotions in me, when they force us to question ourselves in awkward ways. I don’t promote what she does but I can’t overlook her beautiful qualities. 

It reminds me to be like that with real people who may not be my favorite, ones with qualities I don’t care much for. I don’t have to be their best friend or be head over heels in love with them but I can still work to see the beauty in them and appreciate it.

Here is a beautiful quote out of the book about her looking at herself in a mirror, by the main character, Alex:

“In the mirror, I see a woman sitting bolt upright in her chair, with her handbag on her lap. She has long mousy hair, parted in the middle, her scalp white in the harsh fluorescent light. There is a large, dark mass spreading across the side of her face. I think her elegantly middle-aged, sensuously beautiful. I cannot identify with her. I see her smile, first with her eyes, which remain young, and then with the whole of her face. We fuse together, and I feel an energy building inside me, so that my reflection seems to disturb the air in the room, like a breeze across the surface of a lake.  It is a lake I have visited many times in my dreams. We are luminous and powerful.”

This is in a hospital after Alex’s husband dies. No one knows she murdered or tried to murder him. She planned to kill him but after she did, she wasn’t prepared for the feeling that would hit her, the reality of his death. She wanted him dead but after hearing those words, it was hard to accept and come to terms with the fact that  her husband is dead, that she killed him. She wasn’t shattered and is ultimately happy with her choice to kill, but she felt awkward, uncomfortable at first. She started to dissociate. 
Like, feeling as if one part of herself is no longer connected to another. Like her body and her mind or inner self, disconnect. Some people feel as if they leave their body when they dissociate,  after a serious trauma like assault of some sort, for example.

People don’t choose true dissociation but this excerpt reminds me of how many of us often hold ourselves to greater standards than we hold others. We judge our bodies and self worth in ways we wouldn’t judge our sister or best friend. “I have rolls or stretch marks, or am not a size 2 or have scars or acne…or whatever…so I’m hideous, fat, worthless, no good, ugly, not beautiful….” But would you ever say or think that about someone close to you? Or even a stranger? Chances are, no! Try to look into a mirror and kind of dissociate, not like a mental illness or result of a traumatic experience but remain unbiased, not shadowed by self critical thoughts. Take a good look at yourself and pretend you aren’t you. 

Look at your beauty with new eyes, with a stranger’s eyes. If you weren’t you and not so judgmental, if you weren’t brainwashed by the media or society’s concept of beautiful perfection, would you think you are ugly, horrible, not beautiful? Would you think you’re beautiful? Now take the beauty you see and feel and know, and become you again, the whole you, let you and the person in the mirror fuse together. Love one another as the whole that is you.

This book is already so thought-provoking and inspiring.

But….

I read some reviews and I think there may be some violence later in the book, maybe violent sexual scenes. Sometimes I don’t read much about a book, reviews or even the basic description, before reading. I like to go into it completely unbiased, not knowing. Sometimes I read a few reviews and for this I did and a couple said something about there being some “uncalled for sexual violence” or something like that, in the book that does nothing for the story but be disturbing. I read so many books and reviews though that I don’t always remember which reviews are for which books. For all I know those reviews are for another book!  I can tolerate extreme violence in books if the book is really good or has a deeper message other than just violence for thrill. It doesn’t thrill me.

 I felt drawn to this book immediately but then read something that contributed to me deciding not to buy it. And I think it’s the reviews that said there’s uncalled for horrific violence. But then I bought it anyway because what I did read about it in other reviews, the love she has for her Lizzy is so beautiful and it pulled me in and I also love the title. Yes I do judge books by their covers. Lol And even if that’s true that there’s unnecessary violence later, I’m happy I did buy it because of the deep insights I have already come to know just by reading what I did. But I can’t actually recommend the book without knowing the rest, especially if it has scenes that can trigger distress in someone who may have experienced trauma of some sort. Empathy while reading a book is one thing for a person who never experienced serious trauma but for someone who has, it can be completely  different, like the person is reliving it, the body can be like literally living it over, causing severe distress and pain. So I am careful recommending books without warnings.

“My moles continue to grow and darken. I take less care to hide the bump on my head, and I wonder whether my deformities will eventually take me over. I am impatient with them, wishing they would stabilize. I think I notice people staring more, and imagine they are whispering to each other but I decide that I will not try to hide myself away. It will be easier if the people who are alienated by such things have the chance to avoid me, and I reason that those who are indifferent to them will not care.” ~ Alex

I love this and completely agree. I would never want friends or people who like me only because they don’t know something about me that if they found out later they would reject me for it, whatever it may be. We don’t have to like everything about a person we like but we can accept, tolerate, or overlook it and love the person as a whole. I don’t necessarily want someone to like every single thing about me, like all of my opinions or anything, and I won’t conceal something just to have them like me or not reject me. It’s like an asshole repellent,if you show your ugliness or controversial views or something right off, you weed out the assholes and the true ones are still standing by your side. Or if you’re the asshole and people are going to reject you for it then they can back off and the ones who don’t mind asshole-ness will still be there. 
I don’t always like people’s opinions but I often appreciate the courage it takes them to stand up for whatever it is and the passion that drives them.

I am what I am whether I conceal it or not and whether someone likes it or not. So why deny or repress it? Instead I will give people the chance to know me and embrace me or know me and reject me.

My love for fiction has deepened dramatically over the last year and one thing I love about it is how the novels can teach us even
 deeper empathy and greater compassion and understanding for real people and real life situations. We can’t always see or know why people do the things they do and it can be easy to judge and direct hostility towards them without any ounce of empathy or understanding but in books, authors bring their characters alive, stripping them raw, so we can hear their every thought and know their motives and intentions, and we can then, have compassion even more and understanding for the characters. We can extend that to real people and situations.

Understanding and empathy do not necessarily entail or require encouragement of or promoting something. I can understand and be empathetic of a person doing something wrong or not good but not promote or encourage it. I love when authors challenge us. This author is clearly brilliant, not just in writing but her deep understanding of life.

The girl’s wedding day is on June 25th in the book and that’s today for real! Lol what a coincidence that I read that today!

Is that something only I would be thrilled over? 

;-D
I hear that a lot “only you, Kim!” or “only you would think or notice that, only you would laugh at that…!”

Xoxo Kim

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – Scott Hamilton

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