Thursday, May 13, 2021

Book Review (Story) of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken:A Memoir of Learning to Believe You're Gonna Be Okay.'


[As posted HERE]

[I began writing this on 2/6/2021]

The summer of 2020 was hard.  I had thought we were visiting home (Michigan) and then COVID numbers in Michigan soared.   The grief was overpowering, along with loneliness and fear.  In the midst of this, a friend put a post on Facebook that I clicked on and read.  Soothed for the first time in months, I kept reading.  It was a blog by some guy named Sean of the South.  I’d never heard of him.  Before I knew it, I had subscribed to his blog. Everyday I checked in to read his latest blog post.  Sean Dietrich’s words captured so much.  Often I would be just waiting to read it, as if I was in a desert where no water is. Every day, I still read his blog.  Later, I began following Sean’s instagram page (@seanofthesouth), then his wife Jamie’s (@jamiemdietrich).  I really like Jamie; she loves to cook and bake. Then I realized that Sean had a new novel coming out. While doing dishes, I listened to a podcast by @shawnsmucker interviewing Sean about his new novel.  I wanted to read Sean’s memoir before his novel came out.  After finding his memoir online and reading the book blurb, I realized Sean had gone through nearly unspeakable trauma.  He did not just lose his father to suicide; he nearly lost his mother to murder.  

Now Sean, if you have read his blog, writes about happy things. Sean sees normal people and realizes their personal victories. He calls nursing homes and talks to people who survived an awful lot.  He has kids writing to him with their anguish. He has adults who do the same. And he writes to them, to all of us, about the pain of our lives but also the hope.  If Sean can do this daily on his blog and he went through that as a kid and his memoir is about: “Learning to Believe You're Gonna Be Okay”! Well, that I needed to read.  So I ordered it, then and there!  It came Friday.  Because I am a wife, am responsible for meals and need sleep, I did not finish the book until Saturday.  If I had been single, I would have lived on cereal and milk until I finished the book.  Surely I would have swallowed it whole, needing only one day.

Instead, I was laughing for over 5 minutes, maybe 10, because of a funny story Sean told about his Uncle.  My Husband asked me, “what are you laughing so much about?”  I began reading it outloud to my Husband. Soon my Husband began quoting Sean: “we did not make good time that day.”  By Saturday morning I was getting an impromptu lesson on negative exponents and fractions because I began reading aloud Sean’s chapter on his wife teaching him math.  After breakfast I was standing by the kitchen sink reading out loud about his wife Jamie and how “Sleep Jamie” is not one to meet in a dark alley.  I asked my Husband if he emphasized with Sean, who narrates needing to figure out how to live with four different incarnations of his wife.  My Husband’s answer: a short laugh before saying “that’s for sure!”  By lunch I was reading aloud the entire chapter on how Sean met his wife who immediately asked him for tea in the church fellowship hall.    

I called my Mom while I finished laundry and told her about Sean’s book.  Before I knew it, it was Saturday early evening.  So we went to church for vespers and got takeout afterwards for dinner.  Dinner done, with my Husband still quoting Sean, I went back to reading.  And I saw how Sean weaved his story deeper and deeper into our hearts. I saw how he carried his book, in it’s beautiful flourish, home.  

If you want to read a memoir showing how a child can survive great trauma, dropping out of school in the 7th grade, and then grow up to marry, become a musician, public speaker and writer, read Sean’s book.  If you want to laugh or need some solace, look no further.  If you want to read a well written book, you will love Sean’s. Surely, this is a book I will need to read again, perhaps all in one day.

Thursday: Blessings At Hand

A lot of blessing today.
I texted my sister-friend asking if she had time to help
me with something (I had a book purchase I was not sure of
that was more a question of myself and discernment,
as she knows me so well and for so long, she was able to help me
decide and for that I am so grateful). 
And then we talked about other books, ideas and also
Elder Sophrony and his books.
So that was super great.
Lunch and dinner were thankfully easy.
I FINALLY did my final edits on my review of Sean's wonderful
memoir.... sadly the Instagram model did not allow for the whole
thing to be in one long comment and somehow something went wrong
and there is a type-o in the second half (the letter n of all things?!)
but I did not want to delete it as IG is bad enough with connecting comments
with the text at hand. 
So HERE it is.  I think I will also post it as a separate blog post. 
I began reading yet ANOTHER book LOL.
Beginning to Pray for Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.
I wrote about a page in my writing project.
That was great.
I am thinking of how to break up my large project into manageable parts
for the purpose of project management and editing. 
So that's good.
I took a walk and did about 18 minutes/mile and that's astounding for me.
I am not always that good; my record is a 15 minute mile. 
But I am seeing improvement and pray that it stays.
I've been walking nearly every day since lockdown and made
a really concentrated effort to improve my physical/emotional well being
when I went home last year to MI, doing lots of walks for that purpose
and praying to have better habits.
It helps that my Husband and I at least begin our walks together.
If/when he goes back to work post-pandemic, 
I will have to learn to be disciplined to do this by myself.
but for now, I am glad to have him home
and for the routine we have.
Routine are the most difficult for me to 
maintain so I can only pray that I do.
Like keeping the house tidy, it's a constant struggle
and effort.  And I am making most of the messes 
(my Husband has the office to himself and if that is
a mess outside of my small area, it's not mine).
Anyway.  I am not holding my breath for perfection here.
I make messes as easy as most people take breath each moment! 
May God bless, save and have mercy on us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

"I love the month of May"

My Grandma told me today,
She loves the Month of May,
the new green leaves, the flowering trees,
the relief of Spring after the cold, bare winter.
Finally, I got to talk with her
and folded laundry as I talked and listened.
I have headphone with a mouth piece for my smart phone.
I talked also with my Mom and that was a blessing.
And, miracle of miracles, I got laundry done,
finally the dishwasher and dishes are caught up,
the house if fairly tidy...
I will have more laundry to put away tomorrow
but with leftovers for lunch and dinner already,
it feels like the house, for a day anyway, is a bit more
And, as per usual, I am reading 4 or so books at once. 
Actually 5 maybe 6.  But you know :)
My writing and research project goes sweeping along, 
with unexpected rabbit holes of research that pull me in
and all of a sudden I am somewhere else but yet more clear
about part of what I was researching prior to the new 
rabbit hole of reading.
I went on a lovely walk this morning.
The pictures above are from it.
I love May like my Grandma does for the new green of the leaves,
the beautiful layers of greens... 
I hope you are well.
Or if not, then I pray that God gives you strength to
sustain you in whatever challenges you are facing.
May Christ have mercy on us and save us! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tuesday, the weeks fly by

Today was beautiful and sunny.
I thank God that tonight I walked 
in the remaining beauty of the day.
I am reading up on various things that happened in the last
decades of our world and trying to make sense of them all.
Also still reading man: target of God by Elder Zacharias which is 
at times a bit complicated but really great book for me to be reading,
to help me make sense of what is Christian, what is Orthodox Christian and why
and what and how it is different than other ideas and even religions in the world
(religions not meaning different branches of Christianity here). 
On Sunday I baked chicken legs.
Today I made easy beef stroganoff.
which is so great to eat with Cunningham's Rescue Biscuits.
I pray you are well, by which I mean under and trusting in Christ's care for you.
May Christ keep us in His care and save us! 

Friday, May 07, 2021

Bright Friday 2021


Isn't this vintage Easter Greetings card lovely?! 
It was emailed to me!
Speaking of emails, my one account is just over flowing and I spent hours
yesterday going through many emails for the large writing project I 
am working on, printing a lot of research
(a lot on Godel's incompleteness theorem and
Douglas Hofstadter (he wrote a Pulitzer prize nonfiction
book in 1979 and seems to be an Atheistic Zen follower 
from what I can gather). 
Why am I reading a Physicist? Well, if I complete my writing project
and edit it (I wish this would only take 1 year but...), I can let you know.
Meanwhile, I am having a lot of fun reading about ideas.
I don't agree with all that Hofstadter believes but find him
to be a science person who loves language, games within language
and he's helpful in tracking changes in thought over the last 100+ years.
It's fascinating how much science/theology/philosophy/literature/music/art
all play together creating lots of links, circling back, forwards, in-between each other,
intersecting or not intersecting but being next to each other.
It's all very beautiful and playful.
At the same time, I am continuing to read Man, Target of God which helps me 
articulate some things that I feel that Hofstadter's views are missing
or at least put into relief, how his views and Orthodox Christian views,
differ and come to startlingly different conclusions about what a person is,
the nature of the universe and of the existence of God.
And this sort of thing, the discovery of differences and a deeper
understanding of how radically different Christianity is, 
is very much my kind of fun.  
Speaking of playful on the Pascha Bright Week Table, I found 
my shrinking Kulich to be really cute.  Here's it's progression over the week...

Very cute, eh? :)
Tomorrow, DV, Bright Saturday, we will have the last of this
lovely Kulich from Holy Cross Monastery and enjoy
the wonderfulness one last time.
It stayed wonderfully in the fridge, all week!
(We kept it frozen in the freezer until Holy Saturday and then put it in 
the fridge to thaw.)
It's thick without being heavy, the raisins are delightful and moist,
the frosting has lemon in it, from what I gather and is
sweet and has a 'zing' at the same time.
All and all, it's such a special treat!
Well, wow, this week has been so busy.
Joyful seasons often have some struggles in them as well
and I am not exception to this nearly universal rule.
I am so glad that at least I have things to do and focus on 
that are not as difficult.
I re-read Gary Schmidt's Wednesday Wars and OK, For Now
and they were delightful, insightful re-reads. 
I pray that you all are doing well or, if struggling, that you know
that God is not abandoning you to face your struggles alone.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
God bless and keep you! 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Great and Holy Pascha + Bright Monday 2021

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!
Greetings on this Bright and Holy Week! 
Pascha is so deeply beautiful!
These pictures are in reverse chronological order
(I was too tired to fix them) but it shows you first
the feast we had at home and then the feast we had at church, 
which church was first and then home.
I was blessed with a lot of Pascha treats from others
and am so grateful.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures!
We got very little sleep Pascha night 
(the service ended after 3, I think and we got to our beds
a bit after 5 AM!)
and so I don't have a lot of words at present but
we did rest lots today and at lots of delicious food!
Christ is Risen!
May His Resurrection console us no matter
what we may be facing in life!