This is going to be one of my longer commentaries because this book was just, wow. Beautiful, powerful, and moving. The timing of this read (listen) dThis is going to be one of my longer commentaries because this book was just, wow. Beautiful, powerful, and moving. The timing of this read (listen) dovetails with something the author and I both have in common, daughters.
This is the story of an only child who lost her mother when she was about 14 and her father when she was in her early 20’s (this was an audiobook, so I didn’t write down the exact ages). She also lost a dear friend to cancer in college with whom she made a pact of a message or symbols that only they knew with the promise to try to contact each other through spiritual means. The book details her journey of not only hoping to contact her friend and family but answer the bigger philosophical question, what happens after we die?
Her journey takes her to visits to some of the country’s most famous mediums, such as Theresa Caputo, James van Praagh, and John Edward. She even asks John Edwards (I think it was him), well, where are the spirits? He says everywhere. It is like asking where is the Internet? I thought this was a great metaphor. She investigates the world’s religions on death, has past life regressions with the famous Brian Weiss who wrote, Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives, conducted séances and used Ouija boards. I won’t spoil it by saying what she uncovered, but know that it was beautiful and heart-wrenching, especially near the end of the book when she loses two other friends to breast cancer at the age of 37. I was working in the yard listening at this time and had to fight back the tears.
At the end of each chapter, the author writes a letter to her daughters telling them about the journey, about death, and most importantly about life. She shared her experiences on how to live life to the fullest and how to become happy, strong women. At first, I thought they were a little over the top, but as the book unfolded and the author suffered additional losses, it was clear that these were truly heart-felt.
I don’t know if I’m getting this exactly right, but essentially she says that people are sad when loved ones die because they believe the love is gone. Through her journey however, she finds that those who passed are still with us always and the love is not gone because we are the love.
It is these letters that coincided with a recent experience I had with my daughters but in my case they wrote the note about me about their lives thus far. At my daughters’ high school, seniors are invited to write a 700-word essay nominating their dad for King Dad at the Daddy/Daughter Dance. Twenty-two senior girls did so this year which was the most in the four years of our attendance. In front of 800 dads/daughters the top 3 are read by one student with the winner being read last. Both of my daughters submitted entries. So I actually had 2 shots at the title. As the first was read, I told my daughter well, we're still in the running. As the second was read I said the same thing. Then the last one was read and it was daughter’s essay, making me King Dad!! As her essay was being read, she began crying which in turn choked me up as I fought back from tearing up in front of the other dads at our table.
I can't even read it without tears. I am stunned to see how much she remembers I am so proud of both girls every day and love them very much. I know I’ll be a disaster when it comes time for me to walk them down the aisle but it will be a moment I’ll relish and cherish. So, this is what my daughter wrote and I am happy to immortalize it here.
He coached soccer, plays baseball, has an unlimited arsenal of dad jokes he pulls from daily, sings the national anthem with more enthusiasm with little talent and as loud as the entire United Center combined and vaguely resembles the dad from “Full House.” From an outsider looking in, my dad’s qualities create the perfect recipe for a typical suburban dad. Yet, to me, my dad is more than typical. He is my king. What sets him apart is his undying supportiveness, hard work and incredible ability to deal with my stubbornness.
My dad never forgets to remind me how growing up he would shout, “Stop getting big!” This would be followed by my high-pitched giggles and explaining “Dad, you’re silly. I can’t help it.” Some nights, like tonight, at our last daddy-daughter dance after nine consecutive attendances, I wish I had listened to him. Yet, he has prepared me to get big, so one day I can do great things for others. He has supported me and encouraged me to do anything that would make me a better person, even if in sometimes roundabout ways. I am proud to say that my dad never let me win anything as a child. He taught me the importance of having fun in games, even if I lost every, single time. Sure, there were times in first grade I would cry and pout over it, but those few times I beat him in Candy Land or Hi Ho Cherry-o, I was never more excited. It was those many game days that made me the competitive but good sport I am today. He was also supportive of me when it came to athletics. You could say I was never exactly coordinated. Yet, he was by my side, being the assistant coach and my biggest fan to motivate me.
Through endless days of work and doing whatever he could to ensure that I received the best possible education, my dad never failed to put my sister and me first. I am so thankful for everything he has done to make sure I was healthy and happy, like even running through a hurricane to get food for our family. Despite everything materialistic he has passed on to me, the biggest devotion he has gifted me with is the quality time we have spent together. One of my earliest and favorite memories was in elementary school when we would spend at least an hour a night with my dad reading Harry Potter to my sister and me. As he would read with funny, unique voices for each character, I would practice nail filing skills on his fingers and toes. This lead to some interesting conversations at his next meeting with his co-worker, stunned in the face, saying “Dude, why are your nails so shiny?” I think it was his love that turned that probably embarrassing moment into pride of how much time he had spent with his daughters. Over the years, we stopped reading at night and his nails have dulled, yet I am happy to say that we still spend time together in new ways. Whether it is watching the Blackhawks or doing those, old, cheesy yoga videos that my friends- and his friends- would make fun of us for, I look forward to the time together. And yes Dad, they are cheesy.
I hope to follow in my dad’s footsteps and be as intelligent, caring, kind and generous person as he was to me. As our favorite song to dance to, “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman, says “So I will dance with Cinderella/ While she is still here in my arms/ ‘Cause I knew something the prince never knew.” It’s true. My dad knows me better than anyone in the world. He has taught me everything as I grew, cried, laughed and learned through the best and worst times of my life. Yet, what Chapman has wrong, is that we will never stop dancing together. A prince may never understand how I came to be the person I am completely, but my dad made me who I am. That’s what makes him my king. The goofiest, dorkiest, smartest king in the entire world.
After I’ve finished writing this, I realized I can give you the Cliff Notes version, but doing it at the beginning would not have been as cathartic for me. Remember, life is short. Live every moment and love it with others. You won’t be here forever, but when you’re gone, your love will carry on through them....more
We humans are social animals. We’re programmed to interact with others. We need companionship. Given that, can you imagine being the last of your raceWe humans are social animals. We’re programmed to interact with others. We need companionship. Given that, can you imagine being the last of your race/tribe?
This is the horrifying true story of Brazilian land owners pitted against the Indians (their word, not mine). This is the modern day; South American version of what happened to Native Americans in North America, except the technology has improved. According to Brazilian law, land in the areas featured cannot be developed if Indians are found on the land. Well, you can imagine how these land owners and developers feel about Indians. Some accuse those protecting the Indians, of shipping them in from other countries to stop development. The isolated nature of the area gives the bad folks an opportunity to remove the Indians themselves. Place your bets, 21st century weapons versus bows and arrows. Some examples ways they wiped out the Indians and removed all trace of their existence was despicable. It was as if the Indians were roaches and had to be exterminated. One particular sickening method still haunts me weeks after listening to it (audiobook). The Indians (like everyone) like sugar. Once, those seeking to eliminate the Indians dropped bags of sugar into a forest clearing for them. Once the entire village was there to retrieve it, they fire bombed them from helicopters. In another village, sugar packets laced with arsenic was given to the Indians. It was disgusting and made me ill. God forbid aliens would ever want the Earth for some purpose. I imagine humankind would be treated in similar fashion.
Another interesting aspect of the book was first contact. It was exciting to hear the description of what first contact is like. First, the Indian protectors left tools for the last of the tribe featured in the book. Then slowly you just observe each other from a distance. The Indian speaks his own unknown language so signing is very important. Then over a long period of time a cautious trust seems to develop, so you move closer while always showing you have no weapons as the ever-wary Indian keeps an arrow aimed at you. I won’t spoil it and tell you whether a rapport is established or not but it is one of the most captivating parts of the book.
Essentially, the question is, should this one man be able to die on his land and hold up its “development” that would likely benefit many others? The Brazilian government (with whom I obviously agree) says yes but, in these rural areas much corruption exists and a blind eye is turned toward this genocide. It is a moral dilemma for a developing country and is presented as the Trolley Car Problem. If you want to know more about the Trolley Car problem check out http://people.howstuffworks.com/troll....
Believe me; long after finishing this one, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. ...more
Disclaimer: I am a believer. A believer that alien life exists and they have been visiting Earth as long as humanity has existed.
Where to begin on thiDisclaimer: I am a believer. A believer that alien life exists and they have been visiting Earth as long as humanity has existed.
Where to begin on this one? As I was listening to the excellent narration by Paul Castanzo, I kept thinking is this fiction or non-fiction? I came to the conclusion that it was categorized (in my mind) as historical fiction. Then I got to the Afterword and there it was officially stated that, "It is a project that involves science and history, politics and religion, fiction and non-fiction. All of these elements are woven together in an effort to express a singular truth."
This first book in a coming series captured all the key events in recent UFO history and weaved them into one coherent story/theory. Everything was there for believers including: Betty/Barney Hill, Men In Black, Roswell, Area 51, flying saucers, government projects such as Project Paperclip, and UFOs at US missile bases. This is the X-Files on a grand scale and made for an exciting read. The truth is out there and one day we’ll all know of it. ...more
This is a book I listened to for free on Audible Channels. It’s ironic because I usually can’t listen to an audiobook while working because I cannot fThis is a book I listened to for free on Audible Channels. It’s ironic because I usually can’t listen to an audiobook while working because I cannot focus solely upon it and this book is all about focusing upon what you are doing at THIS moment. Surprisingly, I was able (at least I feel I was able) to multi-task, listening and working. Granted, this is a slow time of the year and the work right now is not too arduous.
Again, this is another book where there isn't anything new. I’ve been on a little streak in which I’m encountering books where everything seems to be a rehash of what I already know. Could it be possible that I now know everything? LOL.
This book was less than a four hour listen and can be summed up by shifting from product to process. In other words, focus on what you are doing now as opposed to the future goal. If you are trying to learn a new skill, focus on the practice (what you are doing now) and don’t think about your ultimate goal for which you are undertaking the practice. Be in the present by simply learning and doing. This combines some Eastern philosophy which I encountered during my years of yoga practice (no mind, focus on what you’re doing now) with The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything...Fast. Simplify your activity, keep it short and take it slow, but keep at it.
As 99% of the narration I hear is typically great, I don’t comment on it unless there is something particular about which I need to call out. In this case, the narrator is also the author. His speech pattern of over enunciation was grating and sounded preachy. It was so annoying that if I paid for this one, I would have returned it....more
If you’ve read other books on this topic, I don’t feel there is much new here. However, I still believe this to be a worthy read because of all the inIf you’ve read other books on this topic, I don’t feel there is much new here. However, I still believe this to be a worthy read because of all the intriguing stories regarding past life experiences. I find these absolutely fascinating -- learning how children born to a new family can identify still living family members from a previous life and be able to tell stories that only the deceased (now living again) family member would know. So cool!
I think this aspect of reincarnation/past life experiences appeals to me because I am a time travel aficionado and I view this as a form of time travel. I would love to be hypnotized to see what past lives I may have lived. Then I don’t have to dream about time travel as I will then know I have already lived past lives. I’m sure I was always an average Joe just as I am today, but still, to know more is alluring. ...more