ALMOST EVERYTHING by Anne Lamott

I want to share this with you. I received an invite to listen to a Podcast, an interview with Anne Lamott. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, she’s predominantly and non-fiction author of the most memorable Bird By Bird, a must read if you have ever thought of writing a book or doing anything creative at all. 

By Stacey Camp on Goodreads

5 Stars:

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

“Haters want us to hate them because hate is incapacitating. When we hate, we can’t operate from our real selves, which is our strength.”

Oh Anne Lamott, how do you manage to rip my heart into pieces and then mend it ever so carefully back together? This is what Lamott calls a paradox or conundrum, that life brings both immense joy and heart-wrenching pain, pain that, at times, is unbearable. Take her discussion of having children:

“We are consumed by the most intense love for one another and the joy of living, along with the grief and terror that we and our babies will know unbelievable hurt: broken bones, bad boyfriends, old age…Every day we’re in the grip of the impossible conundrum: the truth that it’s over in a blink, and we may be near the end, and that we have to live as if it’s going to be okay, no matter what.”

Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope is meandering and rambling in the most poignant way, a method of writing only Lamott can get away with. It is structured around themes that she wants to share with her grandchild, stories she wants to pass on that she deems critical for one’s survival in a brutal world.

As with Lamott’s other books, I highlighted nearly everything. So many beautiful passages, so much wisdom that has come from the pain that Lamott has known well. This is not a pain she monopolizes. Rather, this book is about how pain is part of the human condition. And because it can happen to any one of us, Lamott believes that we must find peace and happiness every single day. That joy cannot come from a number on a scale or your paystub, though:

“Could you say this about yourself right now, that you have immense and intrinsic value, at your current weight and income level, while waiting to hear if you got the job or didn’t, or sold your book or didn’t? This idea that I had all the value I’d ever needed was concealed from me my whole life. I want a refund.”

“The opposite of love is the bathroom scale.”

Lamott argues that happiness is not found in materiality but something that is omnipresent, waiting to be found in the most mundane places. There is also beauty in grief and beauty in tragedy, though she certainly does not argue that there is a rhyme or reason as to who gets saddled with grief in this universe. Grief is not a lesson to learn, forced upon those who have sinned.

“We do get a taste of the spheres in birdsong, eclipses, the surf, tangerines. In the dark, we see the stars. In the aftermath of a devastating fire, the sun rose red. To pay close attention to and mostly accept your life, inside and out and around your body, is to be halfway home.”

How do we cultivate this love of the quotidian? Through play, observing the world around you, through helping others, and, of course, through reading:

“Books! To fling myself into a book, to be carried away to another world while being at my most grounded, on my butt or in my bed or favorite chair, is literally how I have survived to be here at all. Someone else is doing the living for me, and all I have to do is let their stories, humor, knowledge, and images – some of which I’ll never forget – flow through me, even as I forget to turn off the car when I arrive at my destination.”

As always, Lamott also has some brilliant things to say about writing:

“Write because you have to, because the process brings great satisfaction. Write because you have a story to tell, not because you think publishing will make you the person you always wanted to be. There is approximately zero chance of that happening.”

“We have to cultivate the habits of curiosity and paying attention, which are essential to living rich lives and writing. You raise your eyes out of the pit, which is so miserable and stifling to be in and which tried to grab you and keep you there, until something sneaky hauled you out and changed you.”

Lamott won’t give you easy answers about life in this book, but she will give you a lot to chew on. She challenges you to be reflexive, to examine what’s holding you back in life and what you need to move forward – that these things are not a one size fits all sort of solution. We need to dig deep and find that with which we struggle: confront it and learn to live with it the best we can.

Above all else, she asks her reader to sit with the world: watch it, learn from it, listen to it, breathe it in. For “God is often in solitude and quiet, through the still, small voice – in the breeze, not the thunder.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I loved this book. I love nearly everything Lamott writes ( Bird by Bird is one of my all-time favorite books!). Thank you to Edelweiss, Anne Lamott, and Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House for an advanced reader copy of Almost Everything.


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And let me add this NUMBER 1 Best Selling book by Anne Lamott. This is every author all time favorite handbook. It’s been described by many as a book with advice on writing and on life in general!

 

BIRD BY BIRD

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How to deal with a broken heart…

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Have you ever been in a position where someone was crying out for help with romantic issues and you didn’t know how to save her? I was talking to a friend recently and I felt her sense of hopelessness. I did some research on the internet.

I came across this super cynical quote, needless to say, it’s anonymous!

“I have a better piece of advice: Don’t ever fall in love in the first place. Just don’t do it. It always leads to heartbreak and it’s never worth it. If you never let yourself fall in love with anyone, then you will never have to worry about getting over a broken heart. It’s as simple as that.”

My friend is a writer, which makes it double-challenging because you already know she lives in her head. And she’s an incurable romantic–10X the romance part. Imagine where her mind takes her! But here’s the crux of her challenge. When she’s feeling okay, she deals really well with the stress of career vs. following her dreams and her heart. But when she becomes ill, and her life goes into slow motion, watch out. She spirals quickly.

You see, she won’t admit it even to herself, but she’s fallen in love with an impossible situation. There’s no point in going into the details. If you think of all the things that make a sensible relationship work–or not work–the ‘not work part’ that’s her relationship. Status, family, distance, goals, dreams, the list is endless. There is no way to console her. And let me tell you, I’ve tried. I’m the eternal optimist. It doesn’t matter what happens in life, I will find a positive spin. But I can’t seem to help my dear friend out of this one. Nope. She’s inconsolable.

I tried laughter. I told her to go get her hair done, shop, have a massage–that always works, right? But her only response to me was this:

“When I met him, I had a good talk with myself. I saw the impossibility even as I found myself falling hard. I know I’m in love with a man who’s all wrong for me. But in my heart, he’s the guy I’ve waited for my whole life. He’s not my first love, but I feel he will be my last. When I feel normal, I can deal with the sadness. But when I’m sick, it all comes to the surface and all I want to do is cry and hide from the world.”

I’m at a loss with suggestions for dealing with self-pity. Could she be depressed and has been hiding it even from herself?

I found a few suggestions on how to deal with a broken heart. I’m not sure they will work but maybe I can try sharing them with her.

  1. Take heart, you will get through this, (I tried that. She ignored me.)
  2. Talk to someone who cares. (that’s not working.)
  3. Let yourself feel the pain. (She is definitely doing that.)
  4. Learn something from this experience. (If I say that to her right now, she’s likely to hit me!)
  5. Don’t fall in love again!! (Well, at least that one made her laugh out loud!)

And, finally, I added the one that really made her smile “This shit will make for a really great book!”

and the beat goes on…

 



Check out Lynda’s  latest release on inexplicable #LOVE

 Lie To Me an exposé on sex for money

 

 

 

The Top Love Stories of the 21st Century.

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Image may be subject to ©

I found this lovely article and thought I’d share TOP 10 LOVE Stories of the 21st Century.  Thanks, BookPage at Kobo

Everyone has a different opinion of Valentine’s Day. It’s a groan-worthy Hallmark holiday. The most romantic day of the year. An occasion to watch bad romantic comedies with friends. An excuse to eat an entire box of Russell Stover candies.

No matter how you feel, you can probably agree that books that celebrate love—whether pulse-pounding romantic love, obsessive love, familial love or love between friends—are books to cherish. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we want to share our Top 10 Love Stories of the 21st Century (so far). Now grab a hunk of chocolate and keep reading . . .

Bel Canto (2001): Would any list of love stories be complete without this novel? The relationships in a group of terrorists and hostages sound anything but sexy—but trust me that this unusual cast will have you crying and sighing after about 30 minutes of reading. Bonus: You’ll find yourself in love with opera after author Ann Patchett has cast her spell.
Read more in BookPage.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003): Audrey Niffenegger’s story of Henry (a punk-loving, time-traveling librarian) and Clare (an artist) has become a contemporary classic. It’s clever, heart-breaking and romantic—and I envy the reader who hasn’t discovered it yet.
Read more in BookPage.

The History of Love (2005): “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” Need I say more about Nicole Krauss’s wonderful book?
Read more in BookPage.

The Myth of You & Me (2005): Leah Stewart’s graceful story attempts to answer this central question: Can a friendship ever be mended once the bonds of trust have been shattered? This is one of our favorite novels about the complicated love between friends.
Read more in BookPage.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005): Lisa See writes beautifully about two girls in 19th-century China who build a friendship that exceeds even their love for their own families.
Read more in BookPage.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007): Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel addresses teenage love, obsessive love, unrequited love and more. It’s hip, high-energy and hysterical.
Read more in BookPage.

The Post-Birthday World (2007): Lionel Shriver’s cleverly constructed novel (think Sliding Doors) is about passionate love, comfortable love and the love that could have been. If you love to ask “What if?” this book is for you.
Read more in BookPage.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008): This delightful novel about the people of the Channel Island of Guernsey includes a tender love story that will make your heart flutter. Even better, the novel itself is practically an ode to book lovers. (And the way author Annie Barrows finished the book for her dying aunt Mary Ann Shaffer is lovely, too.)
Read more in BookPage.

My Abandonment (2009): This pick falls into the “unconventional” category of love stories, but we think Peter Rock’s spare, haunting novel is one of the most fascinating stories of parent/child love published in recent years.
Read more in BookPage.

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity (2010): Kate Braestrup’s memoir of navigating a later-in-life romance and a new marriage will leave you moved and filled with joy.
Read more in BookPage.

Do you agree with the list? What are your favorite love stories of the 21st century?

I would LOVE to add my memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On

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color ceased to exist

 

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Blue

 

a whistle blows

March winds

carry your spirit

waves bow, welcome you

moms and calves

breaching

learning

playing

b e i n g

 

I wandered the shoreline

sea shells crusty under

naked feet

toes tickled by waters

wanting to dance

 

you moved in burnt orange

I lived in hot pink

we thought the sapphire of the sea

might be our compromise

 

we walked

c l o s e r

I could almost feel

your kiss against

my waiting soul

 

and then your breath stopped

and my heart screamed black

the winds began to howl

and the whales were still

 

and for a time

color ceased to exist

 

© I (Spy) Love Lynda Filler

 

On how to improve your writing skills

 

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I’ve been asked on Quora how I improve my writing skills. A good question don’t you think?

 

  1. Writing is learned by reading—and writing. So the first thing to do would be to read more. This month I will produce a 25000-word novella—I’m at 8000 words today, and I will probably have read 6 novels or more before year-end.
  2. I have over 650,000 views on my Quora answers. I started writing on here a few months ago, I think in the summer. I always write my answer on this page, then copy/paste to Word to check grammar and spelling. As an author I have certain mistakes I make over and over again—a stubborn slow learner. Then I correct the essay and copy/paste back. In these last few months, my organizational skills have improved, my sentence structure and grammar have advanced. Now I can write an answer and if I’m in a hurry, I post. Quora has definitely helped me work on my writing skills.
  3. If you have a style like I do, or your writing has been compared to certain authors, hone your style and do so by reading everything the other mentor/authors have written. For example, with the release of my first novel I was compared to Lee Childs, David Baldacci, and Clive Cussler. Not too shabby. I read the latest Childs and Baldacci books over the past two weeks. So find your style and get better and better at it.
  4. If you are published as I am on Amazon.com: Lynda Filler: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle read your reviews. And not just the good ones. I struggled with an aspect of one of my books, the readers picked up on the same challenge. So although my reviews are high 4.4/5 I recognized an issue and I eliminated it in the next book. So fans may love your message but are quick to let you know where you can improve. They will let you know what you do right and what you do wrong. They offer invaluable feedback.

“Explode onto the page”

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One of the best parts of my job as a professional book reviewer is discovering new indie talent, but even more importantly watching that writing talent grow and mature over the years and the books. This is very much the case with this author, Lynda Filler. I had read some of her earlier books and although I enjoyed them and I had a feeling there was something special about her writing and her stories, it is only now, with her latest book, Lie To Me, that I can see that talent literally explode onto the page and excite me, as a reader.
Lie to Me, is a hard-hitting, powerful story about male prostitution in Mexico, as told through the eyes of Layla, an American writer who lives in Puerto Vallarta and writes, freelance for a magazine in the US, and also through the individual male prostitute’s perspectives. Layla is fascinated by both the older men and women who come to Mexico looking for sex and the young, Mexican men who provide it for them, for a fee. What motivates them and how do they cope with the emotional attachments that so often invariably form? Layla also has her own personal demons and is convinced that love, especially with a young Mexican man, is not only silly but counterproductive to her work. she loves the sex, but shuns the attachments, or at least tries desperately hard to do so.
Lie to Me is incredibly well written, tight, taut, descriptive, and everything I’d expect from a long-time, well-established, professional author. It thrills me to see the depth of the writing and the emotions Filler is now able to extract from her work. This is a wonderful story of an alternative lifestyle that may well be eye-opening for some, but fascinating nonetheless. For me, it gave me an insight into a world I knew existed, but like Filler, I guess I wondered how it all worked for the participants. I wonder no more and that is totally due to Filler’s excellent work.
I would definitely recommend this read to anyone who has secretly yearned to escape the rat-race, if even for a short time and indulge in the pleasures and the exotic mystery of another race and culture. With Lies to Me, you can do that, without any attendant risk. A fantastic read and all credit to the author, Lynda Filler. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
5 Stars.  Grant Leishman

Hope

 

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© Lynda Filler Photography

 

 

 

Hope

I know you are

a fantasy

                                                                             and still

 

I never

give up hope

 

 

 

 

© Lynda Filler, I (Spy) Love

 

 

 

 

 

(Re)Use Me

 

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(Re)Use

 

I want to use you

to move

to grow

to flow

into a life

I’ve never lived

 

I want to hold you close

inside a heart

revived alive

no longer afraid

to take

a chance

on living/loving again

 

I want to remember

the good

the certainty

that life

and love

can come

from unexpected places

 

don’t worry my love

I will write this out

over and over again

 

and then

I will

let

you

go

 

© (RE) Use, I (Spy) Love

(To) Sea

 

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© Lynda Filler Photography

 

(To) Sea

is it in the wind

the salty breeze

that kisses ocean-wet shoulders

and sends a chill

down between my breasts

 

or in the sand

silken

a welcome caress

to hot pink toes

 

or is it in the baby snails

that crawl

beneath the burden

of heavy shells

nature’s sunblock

 

or is it the memory

of moments spent

loving you

smiles that lighten my heart

sighs that escape

from passion-filled lips

 

the waves gently carry

and pull me out from shore

toss and turn and cover me

reminding me

to let life

and love flow

 

it’s in God’s hands now

 

© (To) Sea, I (Spy) Love by Lynda Filler