The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

At the risk of sounding cheesy, there are books that leave footprints across my soul – books that touch the broken pieces and heal the inner wounds that haunt.  The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft is one of those books.  Eloquent.  Beautiful.  Exquisite.  I am a better person for having read this book.

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Penelope Sparrow only wanted to dance.  After a traumatic fall from the balcony of her high rise apartment,  she wakes partially paralyzed in a hospital bed and everything she ever wanted begins to fade away.  Amnesia, friend or foe, prevents Penelope from remembering what caused her fall in the first place.  With intense physical therapy, Penelope is able to walk and move once again… but the movement of dance isn’t welcome.  Memories of rejection begin to replace the amnesia-void and Penelope isn’t eager to walk back into the dancing community.  She rejects her hunger for movement, her creative thirst, and her dance cravings.

“It also hurts me, you know.  To watch you suffer… you’re starving… you’ve got to find a way to feed yourself.”‘

When everything in Penelope’s life comes crashing down again, she learns to once again embrace the movement of true love, forgiveness, and hope.  She learns the importance of feeding her body and soul and finds the courage to embrace the “divinity” of her creative talent… and she learns to value her expression whether the impact be, big or small.

Dancers and human beings alike all have their own metaphorical balconies.  The plunge into the dark emotional void paralyzes desires to create and love and express the art of the soul.  We strap ourselves to our “I-give-up-hospital-beds” and refuse to accept the rejection we feel in our lives.  Fear of rejection, anxiety that we are not good enough, and the constant stress that we don’t have enough time, prevents us from embracing the expression of our souls.   And at times, we jump while screaming into the wild void that “I will never create again.”  We paralyze the soul, bruise the heart, and destroy dreams.

Kathryn Craft and Penelope Sparrow helped me realize that jumping into the “emotional void” isn’t healthy. It blocks my expression and cuts me off from God.  The Art of Falling gave me the courage to embrace the vulnerability a little more and to avoid my metaphorical balcony.  To live is to create and love and express the language of our souls.

“… and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

As a general rule, I don’t read a lot of books about the WWII/Holocaust.  The words of Anne Frank, Escape from Warsaw, The Book Thief, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society paint a picture of a time that haunts my soul.  What happened to society – to people as a whole – to inspire such hatred and violence?  How did people find the courage to continue living despite such hard times?  The courage embedded within the hearts of many people inspires and amazes me while the hatred and violence of others frighten me beyond belief.

download Centered around the time of WWII/Holocaust, Saving Amelie  by Cathy Gohlke is the story of a four-year-old deaf German girl, daughter to a prominent German officer.  Having an “imperfect” child is a stain upon the father’s “record” that he is unwilling to have.  Arrangements are made for Amelie to attend a facility specialized in caring for disabled children without the mother’s consent.  Rumors have it that children like Amelie, once admitted, are never seen alive again.  Desperate to save the life of her daughter, the mother reaches out to her childhood friend Rachel for assistance.

Rachel, a daughter to a prominent American researcher, is hesitant to accept her friend’s request.  Her father’s research has shown the power of eugenics and she isn’t quite sure where she stands.  Her friend must be over-reacting.  After a spin of events, Rachel is forced to flee and enter hiding herself along with the deaf Amelie.   Saving Amelie knits together a beautiful story of individuals learning to love and sacrifice despite the risks.  It is the story of people learning to look beyond their needs to help a stranger, sister, and friend.  The words of this book, while they were powerful, made me see the importance of looking beyond my own needs in all circumstances.

History enthusiasts and non-history-enthusiasts will unite within the pages of Saving Amelie because every soul – regardless of age, gender, and race – has value.  It doesn’t matter when, where, or how – this value exists.  I walked away from this book with a renewed desire to teach my children the importance of respecting the people that surround us.  The only “true crime” against humanity is committed when we fail to honor the light, the life, and the love of the souls that surround us on a daily basis.  We are created equal in the eyes of God, and we must strive to remember that in all times, in all things, and in all places.

 

–Book was provided by Tyndale House for my honest review.

Tortoise and the Wave

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The popular children’s story, Tortoise and the Hare, tells of a race held between an overly-confident hare and a consistent tortoise.  The hare, upon recognizing that he is winning the race, lies down to nap before the finish line.  When the hare awakens, he discovers that the slow, but steady tortoise is inches away from winning the race.  The hare jumps up, and runs towards the finish line in an attempt to reclaim his title as the “fastest.”  In the end, the steady tortoise wins the race – reminding all of us that “slow and steady wins the race.”

I find that I have more in common with the hare than the tortoise.  I want to loose my belly-post-baby-weight today, I want the dishes done, and I want to finish writing that book in the next hour.  I push myself hard and then crash while the slow and steady pull ahead.    I don’t know slow-and-steady, instead I know dash-and-crash.

While sitting on the beach in Hawaii, the waves of the ocean pushed their way slowly up the beach.  With each and every swoop, they inched their way up closer to my sun-burned legs and sandy towel.  Up and back, push and pull, crash and crack. Like the tortoise, the water progressed slowly without a ruler, scale, or calculator.  Even when it didn’t appear to be so, the water succeed because it continued to splash and move.

With four young kids, I often feel that one step towards my goal is five big steps in the opposite direction.  Success hinges upon a completed book, an empty sink, and a happy number on the scale.  I stay up late, wake up early, and try to “squeeze in” as much as I can without depriving my children of my attention.  Dish by dish and word by word, I can put the calculators and rulers away.  It doesn’t matter how much I accomplish in one day, it only matters that I try.   The efforts may not feel big today, but eventually I will reach the finish line – slow and steady.  

The Owl, the Grasshopper, and You…

We have been studying the story of the Owl and the Grasshopper by Aesop this week during our language arts lessons.

In the story, a grasshopper is busily making music in the middle of the day next to the home of a sleeping owl.  The owl, upon awakening, asks the grasshopper to leave.  It is day time and owls sleep during the day.

The grasshopper claims that he has rights to play and ignores the owl’s request.

The owl is a sneaky little fellow.  When the grasshopper begins to play his music, he interrupts the grasshopper with a tale about his special wine sent to him from the gods above.  Rumor has it that Apollo himself drinks the same wine.  Would the grasshopper like to share a drink?  The grasshopper quickly agrees and excitedly jumps to the home of the owl.

When – wack!  The owl pounces upon the grasshopper and eats him right up.

The moral of this story is:  Do not let flattery throw you off your guard against an enemy.

I would like to take it one step further.

Sometimes people have the tendency to look around for outside validation to support who they are and what they should be doing in their lives.  They spend their time strapped to a treadmill, counting calories, and obsessively updating their social media statuses in an attempt to win the flattery of others.  While flattery is nice to receive, it should not dictate lives.

Running around in search of kind words and the “wine of Apollo” is not a happy life to live.  Fragile, insecure, flattery-addicted-hearts are easy to “wack down” with unkind words – intentional or not.  And instead of living a life with purpose, the person looking for flattery will spend their entire life chasing around those compliments instead of fulfilling their life mission and dreams.

In the end, the desire to receive kind words gobbles up a person’s soul.  Dreams should never be sacrificed for a “wine” that doesn’t exist. Do not let flattery throw you off your guard and away from your life dreams.

quiet wisdom

Wisdom isn’t always rooted in old-fashioned, high quality, psychological advice.  The act of quieting our mind to listen and understand the troubles of another is wisdom in and of itself.  Quiet wisdom is confident and mature, it understands that my “shoes” are different from yours and my ways are not always the best.   Quiet wisdom acknowledges that most of the time people just need to be heard, listened to, and loved – without judgement.

Quiet wisdom unites souls and bandages the emotional wounds of the heart.

Next times someone needs advice, trying listening instead of talking.

everyone is lonely

crowd-of-people-300x187BAD NEWS:  There is a party going on without you.  Yes, you.

GOOD NEWS: You are not alone.  Billions of others people, like yourself, didn’t merit an invitation either.

The world is filled with lonely people that are secretly wondering if they will ever be invited.  It doesn’t matter how old, how skinny, or how fashionable they are – people are lonely.  We are wired to crave connection and friendship.  We need people to survive just as badly as we need food, air, and water.

Next time you find yourself wondering if you are the only one not invited – plan your own party.  Reach out to the person standing next to you.  Chances are they are wondering too.

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