Best Book Quotes of the Week

Best Book Lines

I found it difficult to narrow my favorite quotes down this week. I was off of work for much of the week and had time to read some great stuff.

Stumbled upon a new-to-me blog Book Notes Plus and was reminded of the wisdom of Albert Einstein.

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

As the school year draws to a close, I try to keep this lesson in mind. The high school I work, even with its high college-prep standards, does a great job celebrating the individual genius of each student. I need to keep this in mind at all times with my three sons as they find their places in this world.

From Laura McBride, We Are Called to Rise

“The way I see it, nothing in life is a rehearsal. It’s not preparation for anything else. There’s no getting ready for it. There’s no waiting for the real part to begin. Not ever. This is it.”

I haven’t read this book yet, but based on the quotes friends are posting on blogs and Goodreads, I’m going to love it. A reminder to live each moment phrased in a way that appeals to my theater loving soul.

From Norman Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

Related to the quotes above, a clever quote full of hope. This was my favorite Goodreads Quote of the Day this week and immediately took me back to when I taught this book to a gifted reader during my short grammar school stint. I somehow never read this book as a child and was completely charmed by Juster’s brilliance with satire that worked for both young readers and a jaded adult like me.

From Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats

“To a Japanese person, Wal-Mart is awesome, the capitalist equivalent of the wide open spaces and endless horizons of the American geographical frontier. All this for the taking!”

Ozeki has a marvelous way of making me look at modern life in a new way. I love the image of Wal-Mart as an endless horizon, all for our taking. In this book she is contrasting cultures (another thing she does so well), but also driving at simple human truths. I just love her writing…

…which led me to look back on quotes I loved from another of her books, A Tale for the Time Being.

 “Sometimes when she told stories about the past her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out. ”

From Mary Miller, The Last Days of California

“Why didn’t I feel things the way others felt them? It wasn’t that I didn’t care about people. It was more like I couldn’t really believe they were real.”

In this passage Miller cuts right to the heart of her character’s insecurities and reminded me so much of those teenage days when I believed I was so different from everyone else. The world, and the people in it, existed only in relation to me. I didn’t love this book as a whole, but I loved some of Miller’s observations about growing up.

 

I’d love to know what lines have caught your attention.

Best Book Quotes of the Week

Best Book Lines

A little late this week, but I want to keep the quote momentum going.

 

From the late, brilliant Maya Angelou, with whose work I spent a great deal of time this week.

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

I was unfamiliar with this one but saw it posted by many, many women whom I admire (obviously, for good reason).

“Does my sassiness offend you?”

I listened to Dr. Angelou recite her empowering poem Still I Rise and this one line stood out as something I long to say. I often feel the need to apologize for my “big personality” — this line reminded me that the problem might lie in others, not in me.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I heard it; I said it; I read it; I hold it in my heart.

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

I’ve followed Angelou on social media since I started using it. This was the last of her written words that I “liked.”

 

From Michael Cunningham, The Snow Queen

“Here’s the sting of livingness. He’s back after his nightly voyage of sleep, all clarity and purpose; he’s renewed his citizenship in the world of people who strive and connect, people who mean business, people who burn and want, who remember everything, who walk lucid and unafraid.

The Snow Queen wasn’t the best book I read all week, but it certainly contained the strongest writing. I can’t get the phrase “sting of livingness” out of my mind. There is a sharp bitterness that comes when you believe the rest of the world is going about their business happily and easily which Cunningham captures precisely.

 

From Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Possibilities

“I just want to know everything,” I say. We walk toward the door.

There really is nothing else to do but know the things we want to know.”

In The Possibilities, Sarah St. John is still reeling from her son’s death in an avalanche. She wants answers to everything about his unknowable life. Without being maudlin or morose, Hemmings captures that frustration of grief that the “knowing” has come to an end.

 

From Jonathan Tropper, Everything  Changes

“People brush past us on the street in endless waves…completely oblivious to the holocaust of an entire world casually imploding in their midst.”

Melodramatic? Certainly. But I do love Tropper’s way with words. His character’s self-awareness really shows in the drama of his personal holocaust imploding. It’s part of a great scene as this novel reaches a climax.

 

I’d love to know what lines have caught your attention.

Daily Prompt: Struggling to Set a Good Example.

Failure_Freeway

Failure_Freeway (Photo credit: StormKatt)

Describe your last attempt to learn something that didn’t come easily to you?

You know how as parents we’re supposed to lead by example? Well, in terms of learning new things, I’m an “epic fail” as my sons would say. I avoid “new” like the plague.

This is not all negative of course. I would argue that I know my own strengths, and in the areas of communication and consensus-building, I excel. I can hold my own on a computer, in social settings, and certainly in the work place. I have a marvelous husband who takes care of all of the home and auto complications (aren’t we deliciously retro?), so I’ve never had to struggle with wiring or plumbing.

I admit my tendency to make the less challenging choice, when possible.

But, in the behavior of my sons, I’ve seen my tendency to avoid challenge in a more negative light. One of my sons struggles in sports. It just doesn’t come easily, the way school and music do. And, really, it breaks my heart to see how badly he wants to be an athletic success, and to fear that it will never happen for him.

And yet, he tries. He tries partly because we won’t let him quit. Once he signs on to a team or a class, he has to follow through. We’ll help him and practice with him, but ultimately, he’s the one on the court or on the field and he gets out there and just does it. (He doesn’t always do it with the best attitude or a big smile, but he does it nonetheless.)

There was a year where he chose not to play his favorite sport because it “wasn’t fun anymore.” My husband and I were fine with his decision, but as he sat on the sidelines and watched his brothers and friends play, he determined to try again. “I think I want to play again next year.” I know he’ll struggle, and feel frustrated and sometimes take it out on us, but I am so proud he wants to try.

So instead of modeling the behavior for my kids, I’m following my son’s lead. I’m trying to open myself up to new skills.

When I started my new job this year, I had to learn a new design program, Adobe Illustrator. I didn’t have a ton of design skills to begin with, and was only familiar with InDesign. In fact, my bosses were open to purchasing a new design program, but I realized that all the files I would need were already in Illustrator. I was being silly. I could learn a new program, right?

I’m still learning (and I still think Illustrator is often frustratingly non-intuitive), but I’m using it almost every day and getting happier with the finished product all the time. I’ve added several other programs to my resume in a few short months. I’ve improved my photography skills by sheer determination and practice, not letting my fear of failure prevent my success.

I will not quit because something is challenging. I will meet that challenge, overcome it, and move on to the next. Because that’s life, right? I will try to do this with good humor and an ability to appreciate failure as a part of the process instead of a final result.

This is the model I want to provide for my sons.

Thanks, once again, to Daily Prompt for inspiring this post.

This post puts me in mind of Frank Sinatra singing “High Hopes”.  Just what did make that little ole ant think he could move a rubber tree plant?

Daily Prompt: Quote Me

 

Although I’ve followed WordPress‘s Daily Prompt for many months, I have not often jumped on board and followed up with a post. They may rattle around in the back of my mind and inspire me days, weeks or even month’s later. But this one stopped me. This is easy I thought.

I love quotes. I Pin quotes. I Google Quotes. I eagerly await the Daily Quote from Goodreads. I stop what I’m reading to copy quotes.

But a quote to which I return over and over? That challenge narrowed the field considerably. I have several quotes about reading and books, but they are not where I turn for inspiration or motivation. When I’m in a bad place, or in need of a push, I turn to the brilliant Toni Morrison.

If you wanna fly

Monday Quote: How do I measure success?

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.”
Susan B. Anthony

I admit it. Deep inside of me lives a numbers girl – one who wants to chart, measure and order everything. I’m convinced that if I could just assign each thing in life a place value, I could organize it. Judging by the chaos in my life, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t opt to become a mathematician.

But social media milestones are the same to me. I can become obsessed with the numbers. How many page views? Did anyone retweet? Have I posted 5 times each week? Any new Facebook comments? How close am I to my book reading goal? Has my Klout score changed?

This blog, which I began in March as a personal writing exercise, has taken on a milestone life of its own. Early on, my dear friend Patti cautioned me not to get wrapped up in WordPress stats. (Like standardized tests, they are only one measure of reach I guess.) But I’m like a junkie – checking page views and search terms, wondering when my number of followers will hit triple digits. Is it true that early week posts have more life than those posted on Fridays?

I understand how crazy this is. My blog is not commercial. I don’t have any sort of life changing mission (unless you count inspiring someone to pick up a book.) This isn’t my job.

I need to write. I like to share. It should not matter if that sharing happens with one person or one hundred. My friend Molly wrote on her blog that she writes for everyone and no one in particular. I love that idea. I just need to accept it and live by it.

And I am inspired by Susan B. Anthony. Alena’s life cannot be measured by followers or views or comments. I must measure my life, my sense of success, by “the stray dogs that amble in.” If a book moves me, I will write about it. If I have a good story to tell, I will tell it. I will choose quotes that reflect or inspire my life.

And, this week at least, I will avoid chasing milestones. I’m going stats-free for a week. Then I will see if I feel and more or less fulfilled as a blogger.

Wish me luck.

Monday Quote — Coming Home

“Standing here, in this quiet house where I can hear the birds chirping out back, I think I’m kind of getting the concept of closure. It’s no big dramatic before-after. It’s more like that melancholy feeling you get at the end of a really good vacation. Something special is ending, and you’re sad, but you can’t be that sad because, hey, it was good while it lasted, and there’ll be other vacations, other good times.”
―    Gayle Forman,    Where She Went

Oh how I hope Ms. Forman is correct. I am home from 7 days of complete relaxation and sunshine and I am desperately trying to hold on to that mood. But how do you hold on to the sense of timelessness when the alarm clock sounds, e-mails need to be checked and appointments need to be kept? Life is rushing at me with all its messy requirements — doctors appointments, deadlines, babysitting schedules and laundry included.

So I’m not sad, but, yes, melancholy sounds right.

We have vacationed at the same spot every year (save one) for 8 summers. Beachwalk offers us a short drive to a different world. It’s a world where my kids don’t fight,

we can spend hours each day on the beach,

I have seemingly endless hours to read brilliant books,

and sunsets appear brighter than ever.

I love this world. My husband and my sons and my mom also love this world, which makes Beachwalk even more special.

Meals and snacks are unscheduled. I am more inclined to open a new book than update my news-feed, leaving me disconnected enough to truly recharge. Whether my sons wake up and grab a fishing pole, or take a bike ride around the quiet streets or head to the park with balls and gloves, they are completely at home and entertained.We all know our way around the resort’s streets, providing a sense of security as our boys roam free.

Our Beachwalk world feels simultaneously fresh and familiar.

Now we are home. It’s definitely familiar, and I am refreshed.

I will not be sad. I will be thrilled at how great it was to live in that other world. I will look forward to my eventual return and the good times to come.

Monday Quote: Resilience

The heart is a very, very resilient little muscle. It really is.”
Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters

I’m a worrier. I’ve covered this ground on my blog before, but I’m specifically talking about the way I worry over my sons. I worry about their skin and bones. I worry about the way the “world” forces its way into their minds. But, mostly, I worry about their hearts. I want to prevent that little muscle from breaking more than anything.

When my boys were babies and toddlers, I was repeatedly advised to not worry so much.

“You’d be surprised at how babies bounce.” (Yes, someone said that to me.)

“They don’t break easily.”

“Little boys are tough.”

“He’ll get over it faster than you will.”

I heard all of this and more, but still, I worry about their precious little hearts. Last week I tried to prepare by 10 year-old’s psyche for the sure-to-be-disappointing baseball tournament – our first ever. I had been warned by other parents that our team couldn’t really compete with the other travel teams in the league. Our city had, in fact, lost by a score of 32-3 last year.

But how do you tell a little boy, chosen for this All Star team for the very first time that he wouldn’t emerge victorious? Wouldn’t it be worse to crush his hope than to deal with disappointment? Every night for three weeks, we dropped him off for two hours of practice in the hot sun. He never complained about the heat, or the commitment. He donned all the catching equipment every day and soaked up his coaches’ praise like a sponge. In fact, he blossomed.

We made the 45-minute trip to the tournament site with a supremely confident player. It only took a ½ inning for all that bravado to disintegrate, as his team struggled to keep up. Plays that had come easily during the regular season now appeared impossible. I watched with my heart in my throat as my sweet boy tried to keep tears at bay returning to his dugout. The strong hitting he had shown all summer evaporated in the face of new pitchers.

Although his team rallied in the second inning, they lost via the “mercy” rule, down by 10 runs in the fourth. (By the way – I’m not sure the word “mercy” is any less cruel than “slaughter rule” when it comes to 10 year-old boys.)

As I feared, he took responsibility for the loss upon his own slim shoulders, blaming himself for every missed out and missed swing. His coach called it…telling him that he had the biggest heart of any player. That big heart was broken and there was nothing I could do but reinforce his coach’s message that they win and lose as a team, always.

Night two was more of the same. I secretly hoped that his coach would pull him out and let someone else catch just to relieve that sense of responsibility. But, he played every inning, just as he had practiced. Less than 2 hours later, the umpire invoked the “mercy” rule. His team was finished. Double elimination. Double heartbreak.

Shoulders sagging, tears brimming, he made his way to the car. I tried to stay positive. My husband and I told him we were proud of his play, his attitude, his poise. He stared out the window for about the half the ride and then, visibly, shed his disappointment.

I saw his posture change, his face brighten. “Well, at least I don’t have to go to practice every night anymore. And I get to keep my jersey and my hat. Isn’t that cool Mom?”

Worry not, Mom. Resilience comes naturally to little hearts.