Book tour: pasta, prayer beads, plumeria

How can a book be both light and deep?

That was my thought last year when I read this current pick of the Barren Bi+tches Book Brigade, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

When I say “light,” I don’t mean lightweight. I mean enlightening. I loved the way Gilbert struggled with and balanced her head and her heart, and the lengths she would go to in order to find alignment. I related well to her story, and I lived vicariously through this book a life I might have had.

Here are my three questions and answers. After them, you’ll find out how to see what others on the tour are saying.

The author, because of personal traumas, decides to go on a spiritual/emotional journey. Have you ever gone through such a journey because of a personal trauma? And what did you learn about yourself?

Many years ago, I came back from living a year in Japan, and I had a spot on my lung. The treatment options were drastic: (1) a lifetime of steroids (which could affect fertility — hah!); (2) an experimental drug that wasn’t available in this country; or (3) a lobectomy, removal of that part of my lung.

Needless to say, I didn’t like any of my options.

About that time, a modern-day mystic named Ethel entered my life. Thus began a spiritual journey I am still on today. As I clear away crap, I have made room in my life for the man who would become my husband (a better man than I’d ever dreamed of), my children (ohhhh, how I’m grateful for these two), and improved health. There are ever-deepening layers of knowing and loving myself.

I wrote in more detail about this here. And you can check out my posts labeled”Mindfulness if you’d like to know more.

The author learns Italian for the pure love of it (no real practical reason). Have you wanted to learn something just for the pure sake of the knowledge? Did you pursue it and how did it make you feel once you had done it?

I’m laughing because blogging is something I do for no practical reason. I do it for fun. I make virtually no money (unless you just happen to click on any of the Google or BlogHer ads you see here, or order from my Amazon or Yoga ads — go on, be the first).

Blogging is a bit like a journey. I travel inward as I think, feel, and clarify. I travel outward as I read your posts and get to know you. And sometimes, I literally travel to meet you.

Blogging makes me feel great. If only laundry did, as well.

In Chapter 60, the plumber/poet from New Zealand gives Liz some Instructions for Freedom. #7: “Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.” To what extent has any suffering you’ve experienced in response to your own struggles (such as infertility, loss, illness) been inevitable? Natural but unhelpful? Useless? Does the suffering serve any purpose for you? Is that purpose enough to justify ongoing suffering?

Here’s what I believe is true. That doesn’t mean I always live as though I believe it.

Suffering is a choice. Being uncomfortable has a purpose — to get us to change something that isn’t working. The signal to pursue pleasure is much more subtle than is the signal to end pain. When my higher self calls me to expand and grow, it often has to resort to the latter.

For example, I thought infertility would kill me. I thought my life was over, bleak, meaningless. But it was all just a story that was happening to the temporal me (let’s call her Small Lori). But infertility was not the defining theme for the timeless me, my spirit, my higher self (let’s call her Big Lori). Rather, it was what called Small Lori to grow, to rise above, to plow through, to toughen up, to open up. Clearing and opening like this enables the Small and the Big to unite for periods of time.*

So, to get back to the question: Is it inevitable? Yes (except for people who come into this life fully actualized). Natural? Yes. Like a caterpillar must become goo in a cocoon before it emerges as a butterfly. Unhelpful or useless? No. Not when prompted by Big Lori. Small Lori, however, does create unhelpful and useless suffering and drama on occasion. (OK. More frequently than that.)

So simple, yet not easy.

* Please note that I am speaking only about my own suffering. I would not presume to understand anyone else’s or to simplify it in these terms.

Great book. Read it if you haven’t.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens (http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/). You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty (with author participation).

16 thoughts on “Book tour: pasta, prayer beads, plumeria”

  1. “Blogging is a bit like a journey. I travel inward as I think, feel, and clarify. I travel outward as I read your posts and get to know you. And sometimes, I literally travel to meet you.”What a great way to describe blogging (and for me, a few of the bulletin boards I visit). My online experience has truly helped me to grow as a person.

  2. I, too, “loved the way Gilbert struggled with and balanced her head and her heart, and the lengths she would go to in order to find alignment.”You’ve also taught us, Lori, so much about balance, peace and spirituality. Thank you for that (and I am going to look into Rolfing. I’ll have the time, right? ;-)

  3. I loved this book so much, and you are right on when you say it’s both light and deep. She has such a good sense of humour, even when dealing with stuff that is so difficult. And nothing cuts through the murky waters better than a good laugh that comes from that flash of insight about how ridiculous we humans can be at times. I really liked what you wrote about suffering, too – how it unites the two parts of yourself, and lets the temporal you in on some of the big, poorly-kept (thank goodness!) secrets of the universe – that we are all splendid, loveable beings just searching for freedom, happiness, and wholeness. Great way of looking at it, Lori!

  4. I enjoyed your thoughts on Big Lori and Small Lori but I have to wonder… do you really think of yourself that way? I always like to think of myself as medium-sized. :)

  5. Also here on the Book tour… I also liked Eat, Pray, Love a lot and really enjoyed your answers to the questions you picked to ponder, especially the last one. I do think we have a hand in our own suffering at times, at least in how we choose to react to what happens in our life. I think there is a quote that says something like “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you decide to deal with it/your attitude towards it.”Anyway, thank you for sharing. I will have to follow some of the links you shared to learn more about you, your husband, your children and your spirituality.

  6. I would say the whole loss/IF experience has been a personal trauma, & I’ve been on a journey ever since then to figure out what the rest of my life is going to look like and mean. I’m still learning. ; ) Great questions & answers!

  7. Ah yes, why can’t laundry (or clean the bathroom for that matter) make me giddy :)Wise words in your response to #3 and it goes along with the controlling our thoughts theme in the book. Yes, some suffering in physical and there isn’t always a way around it but it is so much worse when we choose to dwell in a bad space along side it. Of course, it is not always easy to let it go but every effort helps a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. I loved reading your thoughts on this book, esp. about the Big and Small Loris. Such great insight.In fact, if I were to assemble a discussion group on this book, you would be one of the first people on my list to invite because I would so love to hear more of your thoughts regarding the book.

  9. Ah yes, why can’t laundry (or clean the bathroom for that matter) make me giddy :)Wise words in your response to #3 and it goes along with the controlling our thoughts theme in the book. Yes, some suffering in physical and there isn’t always a way around it but it is so much worse when we choose to dwell in a bad space along side it. Of course, it is not always easy to let it go but every effort helps a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. I loved reading your thoughts on this book, esp. about the Big and Small Loris. Such great insight.In fact, if I were to assemble a discussion group on this book, you would be one of the first people on my list to invite because I would so love to hear more of your thoughts regarding the book.

  11. Your Ethel link is powerful. That she surprised you so much, and helped you avoid all of those treatment options, is so wonderful. I like how Elizabeth had so many spiritual teachers in her year, and some of whom, like Richard from Texas, you’d never expect such wisdom from. And I like how your Ethel was like that — unexpectedly healing and wise.Kind of makes you think who else in our worlds is healing us and helping us more than we yet realize.

  12. I absolutely love the analogy of the small and large Lori and I’m trying to think of times that my two Melissas were one with each other, the smaller melding perfectly into the larger whole.It’s so funny that blogging didn’t even cross my mind as an activity. But it’s true–though it’s practical function for me is cheap therapy.The song that reminds me of you every time I hear it? Constant Craving. It’s playing on a cd that has been in my car for over a week so I am constantly thinking of you. At least once a day when it loops through.

  13. Lori,OMG! Your comment on my blog absolutely freaked me out! Just picture this: I’m watching the BlogHer video for the 2nd time and I’m at the part when you’re talking about mob-victim mentality and all of sudden a message pops up saying I have a comment on my blog; I quickly peak at the comment and…it’s YOU! I’ve still got goosebumps. I’m going to have write about this on my blog. I loved the video – that’s why I’m watching it for the 2nd time. I love the idea of bridges. I work with the Portuguese Fertility Association where I’m head of the network of support groups we’ve set up nation wide. I’ve been trying collate ideas to work with on the blog of our association. And I love the idea of bridges. And how about a bridge with Portugal? Adoption is such an important area in our work. Thank you so much for your comment…it was like getting an autograph from a celebrity!Anna Pires

What say you?