Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

I love this book.

Unexpectedly, I received this book as a gift. A new friend was telling me about it. She was floating and swirling with emotion and passion as she spoke of this book I was so intrigued. I put it on my mental list of “get this book and read it”. What is truly amazing that although RF and I are new friends, she knew me well enough to realize my TBR pile is LONG. We are kindred spirits in that sometimes you read a book and you NEED to talk about it. You NEED to share it and know that it is wrapping up your loved ones in its wisdom and imagination. We saw each other on a retreat in April when she was gushing over this book. In May she presented me with the book and I was overjoyed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect and found myself pulled into this book with self examining interest. Although it isn’t a book about self healing and change, it is exactly was it became. I appreciate the opportunity to look deeply into my own practice of reciprocity and my relationship with our natural world. I discovered a liberation in sorts and began to embrace gratitude on a whole new level. “Braiding Sweetgrass” has begun to assist me in understanding my role in global harmony and change.

 

Money talks

opposite of spoiled

I just walked away from another conversation about money, kids and savings. So let me take this opportunity to talk about a book I am reading and recommending.  It seems like recently I am going about my day and all of a sudden I find myself talking or thinking about this book.  I have been reading through it in pieces but I am now recommitting to giving a page to page read and review. In case you can get a copy before I finish…it is facilitating amazing conversations about money in my every day life. Get it. Read it. Let’s talk.

4 Lines!

Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?

One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.

I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.

We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.

Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”

Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.

I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.

swoon.

My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.

The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.

We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.

 

 

Shakespeare and my kids 1

I have begun reading the first few chapters of “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare”. It’s easy to already see how to implement this into my life. I’m excited.

The other night, after I read the first two Chapters, I went into Juliana’s room to get ready for Bedtime. We cuddled, read stories and began to get drowsy.

She rolled over to look at me and said, “mummy what were you reading?”

“A book about one of my favorite writers and how I can help you to read and love his work. ”

“Who is it Mummy?”

“Shakespeare”

“Can we meet him? Go see him?”

“In a way, we can see his plays performed. Shakespeare is no longer alive. He died a long time ago. ”

“Mummy, is Shakespeare a dinosaur?”

I chuckled and hugged her. We are on our way because my daughter LOVES dinosaurs. “Yes in a way my dear he is. I love you. We will start reading his stuff together soon.”

This is going to be enlightening!

Anna Karenina is an Albatross

I am on a 10 book challenge. This may seem daunting to some and trivial to others.

While having lunch with some colleagues late June, we decided to go on a 10 book challenge. We all said we would try to read 10 books in 8 weeks.  While discussing, I admitted that each summer I like to read or reread at least one classic novel.  Well, thats where it all went to sh*t. A few of my co-workers had exclaimed that they had just purchased Anna Karenina at a book sale. I thought how strange ( not understanding that it was a library’s way of dumping a bunch of copies of a book no one reads!) So we decided that within our 10 book challenge Anna would enter the line up.

WTF were we thinking?

I went to the library and checked out a copy. Holy cinder block!

I began read and it took me what seemed like an eternity to get to page 8. I am a slow reader but this is painful. I checked in with the others. Some had started the book and were silently cursing Tolstoy and others had yet to embark.

It is comical really, every page I turned felt like a weight around my neck and I was sinking deeper into a slow death.

I chose another book to read for a while. Then I read five other books. My daughter took the bookmark out of A.K. Is that a sign?

The beast

Now the question is – do I try again? Do I start over? Or do I just let this classic go and watch the movie?

Suggestions greatly appreciated.