A friend recommended this author to me a couple months ago when we'd been discussing the topic of mindfulness. The author shares some of the most usefA friend recommended this author to me a couple months ago when we'd been discussing the topic of mindfulness. The author shares some of the most useful practical techniques for working through the ups and downs of daily life: how to improve patience with oneself and others, how to deal with conflict and difficult circumstances out of our control, how to have courage despite uncertainty. Like the teachings of Christ, it's not an easy path Pema and the Buddhists present ("turn the other cheek", "love thy enemy"). In fact it's a very rigorous one that challenges us to stare the most difficult aspects of life in the face, accept them with gratitude and grow through them. There is a lot of emphasis on seeing yourself clearly, examining even your most unseemly shortcomings and working through them, a very much inside-out approach. There's also emphasis on staying with and "leaning into" our challenges rather than escaping them. She talks a lot about a "subtle nervousness" we all have and our proclivity to seek out distractions to try and ignore what needs to change within.
A couple quotes:
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that's all that's happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness--life's painful aspect--softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody's eyes because you feel you haven't got anything to lose--you're just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We'd be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn't have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”...more
This is one of the best books I've read in a while and highly recommend. It's only 80 or so pages. Each "letter" is a Gospel topic address to his chilThis is one of the best books I've read in a while and highly recommend. It's only 80 or so pages. Each "letter" is a Gospel topic address to his children about his experiences and what he's come to learn over the years. The topics are all familiar but presented in an fresh, original way. Miller's perspective is unlike anything I've ever read before; but not a lot unlike a Terryl Givens, Bruce C. Hafen, or C.S. Lewis. While devout, Miller isn't afraid to take on the challenges of suffering, faith, science, church history, and other such topics in his letters. But his message is one of inspiration and belief.
The best I can do to convey the power of his ideas and writing is with a favorite quote:
"You must bare wholeheartedly the fact that the work of living your life can't be done by anyone else. This is basic Mormonism. You are an agent loose in the world, and as Paul puts it, you must 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". You'll be surprised how true this is. From the near side of trying, it may look like things have been pretty well mapped out for you. Just stick to the plan. Memorize your Articles of Faith, get your merit badges signed off, complete your Personal Progress, get good grades, go on a mission, go to the temple, get married, etc. There may be a few details here and there to handle, but nothing major. You’ve got a map, you just have to follow it.
But once you get to work you’ll be unnerved by the distance between the neat map in your hand and the rough terrain at your feet. Fighting to coordinate the two, you’ll be tempted to throw the whole thing over...but even sound maps are just maps. They are no substitute for real roads.
The gap between theory and practice is often biggest with the simplest things. You’ve promised to pray but you’ll spend a lifetime learning how to pray. You’ve promised to study the scriptures, but you’ll spend a lifetime learning how to read them. And you’ve promised to give God everything…but you’ll spend a lifetime learning how to consecrate even a part. You cannot forfeit responsibility for this how. You cannot wait for someone else to do them for you. If you do not work things out for yourself, they will not be done. You must learn how to body your religion out into the world with your own fingers and toes, eyes and ears, flesh and bones. This can only be done from the inside out.
You are a pioneer. Life has never before been lived in your body. Everything must be done again, as if for the first time. You are an aboriginal Adam, a primal Eve. You are a Mormon.” ...more
This is an education in mindfulness and living in the present that every person needs. We spend much of our life on autopilot, slaves to our runaway mThis is an education in mindfulness and living in the present that every person needs. We spend much of our life on autopilot, slaves to our runaway minds. Rarely do we take the time to quiet our internal dialogue and focus on the moment, constantly caught up in the future and past. Tolle goes so far to call this condition "insanity," that we're always seeking for gratification in future experiences but never finding it.
He begins the book with his personal history of being severally depressed the first 20+ years of his life. After one particularly distressing night he "woke up" in the morning and started seeing life in a completely different way. Tolle never preaches one religion but takes wisdom from each and incorporates them into his ideas of "living in the now." By this he doesn't mean "living for today" so much as being aware of what is happening in the moment, taking control of our internal dialog, and living fully in the now. This doesn't mean we plan for the future, but we do give up being obsessed with it and the past.
A quote by another reviewer that I thought summed it up well: "Tolle implores the reader to take the reigns of his own mind, focus on the beauty and love around him, just like we all did when we were children and the world was full of wonder. We are still in that same world, but our vision has been clouded by meetings, appointments, paperwork, debt, clocks ticking, deadlines approaching, past frustrations and dissapointments, the list goes on and on and on if you let it. Tolle suggest that we have the power to focus on this very moment, as it is the only one we really have."
I listened to this on audio and admittedly stopped half way through, which may have been different reading it, because while the first half contained most of his shared wisdom, the second half got a bit metaphysical. Basically, the first half was more practical, relate-eable, where the second half was more speculative....more
It was ok, entertaining story in a sci-fi setting, which is what I was going for during my drive to work. I liked the first book, Old Man's War, betteIt was ok, entertaining story in a sci-fi setting, which is what I was going for during my drive to work. I liked the first book, Old Man's War, better and might continue with the series. ...more
In the future the Moon has become a penal colony and after several generations the citizens decide to revolt against the governing authority. It's theIn the future the Moon has become a penal colony and after several generations the citizens decide to revolt against the governing authority. It's the story of a revolution, libertarian ideals, free market economics, and a self-aware supercomputer named Mike. Overall, great story, thinking man's sci-fi at it's best. Similar in many ways to his novel Starship Troopers, which is one of my all-time favorites....more
Apparently the author, Martin Seligman, is sort of the authority on this subject. I've heard his name come up now and again in reference to the subjecApparently the author, Martin Seligman, is sort of the authority on this subject. I've heard his name come up now and again in reference to the subject. There is an adult version called Learned Optimism. I initially picked this up to help my daughter, a pretty smart kid, who was going through a bit of a pessimistic streak, but I knew I needed it as well. And I benefited from it a lot, but I've tried to pass on some of the principles to her. What I like best about Seligman is the optimism he teaches isn't a fake, inaccurate view of the world and self optimism, but what he calls "accurate optimism", one that weighs both the positive and negative, and seeks to accentuate the positive while still being realistic about world and self.
The book begins by decrying the "self esteem movement" that started in the 60s and very much alive today and jumps into the fact that "feeling good" and "doing well" must be tied to reality. Our kids gain confidence and improved self concept eventually are based on realities about themselves, not just the nice things we say -- tied to their "commerce with the world." It goes into depth about depression and different strategies for adults and children to deal with it using different cognitive strategies that must be practiced. He's always open to the fact that some need medication to cope with severe depression, but believes that for many it can be avoided through practiced cognitive strategies.
I could go on, but overall great book I'd recommend. I'm sure his Learned Optimism is excellent as well....more
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel/Disney's upcoming films, so thought I'd try the comic and learn more about the team/universe. The story and cGuardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel/Disney's upcoming films, so thought I'd try the comic and learn more about the team/universe. The story and characters are great, more funny, ragtag than the Avengers. I really enjoy the art, Rocket Racoon is great. Almost finished with all three volumes, but overall (with the exception of a couple issues) have enjoyed them. ...more
I wasn't expecting a lot just a fun read, but it was surprisingly good. Where I expected a mindless action book, the author brought the main characterI wasn't expecting a lot just a fun read, but it was surprisingly good. Where I expected a mindless action book, the author brought the main character, Ghost Lead, to life and expertly demonstrated the complexities of war in a place like Afghanistan, an insurgency, where the enemy of often elusive and blends in with the local population. The CIA is involved, has different motives, often his orders to eliminate a Taliban commander are in conflict with the U.S. base commander's plans. The plot gets a bit messy through the middle, but otherwise enjoyed it throughout....more
If you're into military sci-fi, sci-fi with depth (Ender's Game, Starship Troopers) I can't recommend this book enough. The overarching theme is the pIf you're into military sci-fi, sci-fi with depth (Ender's Game, Starship Troopers) I can't recommend this book enough. The overarching theme is the psychological effects of war, the story and characters are excellent. Loved the ending. Highly recommend.
The GoodReads description: "Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth's most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man's mind.
This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat-and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all."...more
If military history interests you, I can't recommend this book enough. Not only is the story of Outlaw Platoon's tour of duty in Afghanistan gripping,If military history interests you, I can't recommend this book enough. Not only is the story of Outlaw Platoon's tour of duty in Afghanistan gripping, it is incredibly well written. Despite being a tough-as-nails Platoon Leader, I had to appreciate the author Sean Parnell's nerdier side, his love for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. During one mission he calls an area "The Gates of Mordor." Over time Outlaw Platoon gained a reputation among the Taliban in the area, who feared them, calling them "The Green Skulls" after a logo painted on all their trucks. It's nothing short of amazing to follow what these infantrymen struggled through against all odds. ...more
This is the history of the post 9/11 "secret wars" of the CIA and Pentagon primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a few other terrorist areas as wThis is the history of the post 9/11 "secret wars" of the CIA and Pentagon primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a few other terrorist areas as well (Southeast Asia, Yemen, Somalia).
Much of the book is about the struggle between the Pentagon and CIA over who is waging which part of the war as the Pentagon starts gathering its own intelligence and the CIA begins targeting high-value targets. Pre-9/11 the CIA had strict orders about not killing, a job primarily left to the military, but early on permission was given to strike at targets approved by the President. It goes into detail about how the CIA is often used covertly since the President has a direct line to it, examples being JFK in Cuba and Reagan in Nicaragua.
The book also goes into detail about private contractors, firms like Blackwater and other private companies who were gathering their own intelligence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and selling it to the Pentagon and CIA.
A few of the chapters are devoted to the drone strikes first authorized by Bush and escalated during Obama's presidency. The author points out that Obama was quick to condemn Bush's approval of the detention-and-interrogation programs, but had no problem signing off on a multitude of drone strikes on the same type of individuals. Basically, he was opposed to "torturing" them, but had no problem killing them. The book discusses the pros and cons of drone strikes, that they are safe for the Pentagon/CIA and fairly effective, yet often result in high civilian casualties and are based on faulty intelligence.
Overall, very fascinating read. Great insight into the "shadow wars" going on in that area of the world and a fair critique of the CIA/White House who has become far too comfortable with "targeted killing programs." ...more
The is the firsthand account of Major Rusty Bradley and his team of Green Berets as they trek from Kandahar, Afghanistan to the Panjwayi Valley to supThe is the firsthand account of Major Rusty Bradley and his team of Green Berets as they trek from Kandahar, Afghanistan to the Panjwayi Valley to support the Canadian military while running out the Taliban forces and taking a hill call Sperwan Ghar. What the Special Forces team endured and accomplished during Operation Medusa is nothing short of amazing. I learned a lot about the Army ODAs (Green Berets/A-Teams). One of their primary purposes is to train the local Afghan army, learn the language, culture, and lead them into battle. Overall, interesting read, highly recommend to anyone interested in military history. ...more
Mostly enjoyed this book because the time period (early 1900s) interests me. America was on the rise, the Captains of Industry were running the show,Mostly enjoyed this book because the time period (early 1900s) interests me. America was on the rise, the Captains of Industry were running the show, anarchists and labor movements on the rise. The author created interested stories around several of the well-known characters: JP Morgan, Henry Ford, Houdini, Scott Joplin, Evelyn Nesbit, Emma Goldman. Overall enjoyable and interesting read. ...more