Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Commercial

The other day I said I had seen my first holiday commercial of the season.  Here it is, the new (to me, anyway) Hershey's holiday commercial.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Healing With Words by Diana Raab

Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey by Diana Raab is more than a memoir about one woman’s experience with breast cancer.  Merging short memoir chapters with poetry inspired by her experiences, Raab takes her story one step further by adding journaling prompts with blank pages so that the reader can fully interact and engage not only with Raab’s experience but their own.  Not only does Raab share her intimate experience with breast cancer but she allows the reader space to breathe into their own writing.

There are some printing problems which suggest poor editing on the publisher’s part.  I found this hugely disappointing because Raab’s experience deserves better than a poorly produced book.  However, I would recommend this book without hesitation to any woman who has experienced breast cancer whether recently diagnosed or fully recovered.  Although I have not had breast cancer myself, I have found lumps in my body (twice in my breast and thrice elsewhere) so I was able to respond fully to the prompts that precede the diagnosis of a positive test result.

How grateful I continue to be for my negative test results I cannot emphasize enough!

I am just overwhelmed with how beautifully Raab combines these various forms of sharing–her own memories first in prose form and then condensed into poetry alongside journaling prompts.  The book includes a list of resources for those people who are living with breast cancer as well as a bibliography.  Raab’s belief that writing helped heal her is so perfectly manifested on the pages of this book that readers will inevitably learn to trust their own voice on the page, through Raab’s book initially but then beyond, one would imagine, in their own journals.  Hopefully, future print runs will correct the weird mistakes that are sprinkled throughout the text.

I want to also note that all of the author’s proceeds are donated to the Mayo Clinic.  She also has a blog to which you can subscribe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl has all the usual elements, for better or worse, as his other children’s novels.  At least of the ones I’ve read, anyway, which isn’t many so maybe I’m being a bit harsh.  But seriously, I think I’m over Dahl after three of his novels.

Okay.  What I like about Dahl is he is so subversive. The grandmother in this story tells her grandson not to bathe and obviously doesn’t care if he goes to school or not.  Of course, she also smokes cigars so I’m not sure that she is portrayed as the bastion of wisdom.  That she knows more about witches than most adults may make her more aware but no more intelligent than the rest of the adults who obviously walk around clueless and unaware of what is really going on.  In fact, they are all pretty stupid.

Except for the witches.  Witches are all women and all evil.  There are some bad things that are male, according to Dahl, but they are not as horrible as women.  Never ever as bad as women.  And get this:  witches are in truth bald, have ugly hands and feet.  Of course, they wear disguises so nobody sees these things.

And this is where I was so fired-up and offended.  Maybe it’s the image of my mother’s shaved head during her cancer treatment that has me stepping back and wondering why a woman’s appearance continues to be evidence of her virtue and/or merit.  Clearly these women are evil because they look different when you see them without their prettiness painted on or they have their ugliness covered up.

Ugh.  Seriously?  Are we still thinking this way?  Why yes, obviously we are.  Overweight little girls are hardly as virtuous or even as intelligent as pretty skinny ones.  And I am tired of it.  I can suffer it in older literature.  I forgive racism in older literature as well.  But I don’t suffer it kindly in contemporary literature and I found it outrageous that sexism continues.

I used to read novels to my children and if I had read this one to them I would have been outraged and felt guilty for sharing it with my daughter ever. And I would have felt betrayed.  Because I’d read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach as a child and loved them both.  But now that I think more deeply, there does seem to be lack of heroic female characters.  Then again, writers often write what they know and maybe Dahl, for all his subversive imagination, was unable to imagine a woman as anything but foolish or evil.

Or maybe I’m too unforgiving to take with any grace his saying that bald women are “indecent.”

And dammit, I really wanted to love this book.  I truly did.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reiki Links

Happiness is a Lifestyle: Reiki in Theory and Treatment

This article talks about how emotional pain can impact us on a physical level and how Reiki can help. The writer believes Reiki can heal, above and beyond our expectations and shares how Sister Eileen, who was harshly criticized by her peers for using Reiki, healed her scoliosis.

When Reiki Becomes The Teacher and Guide

In this article, the writer shares how she teaches Reiki and encourages her students to incorporate it in their lives. (One of hte things she recommends is using Reiki during yoga. I chuckled because every time I do any energy focused practice, whether its yoga or taiji or qigong, the Reiki energy always flows. It is not a conscious choice. It just happens. This is why I occasionally dedicate my practice to other people.)

This is a good overview of Usui Reiki, the type of Reiki which I myself practice. There are many schools of Reiki but all trace their roots back to Dr. Usui.

There is a great deal of misinformation about Reiki online so I want to also share links to sites that share the history of Reiki without including the erroneous information that one can easily find online.   These links will be redundant in content but the way one person shares information may be more accessible to one reader than to another.

It is my intention to begin sharing these links on a weekly basis.