January 2015 FEATURES
BOOK REVIEW: The grace in Aging
The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older by Kathleen Dowling Singh is especially geared towards those in their 60s and beyond. Even those of us who haven’t reached those decades yet can benefit from reading it—the book can help us anticipate what lies ahead for us and help us understand what our older relatives and friends are experiencing now.
One of the topics that the author addresses is “Opening to Our Own Mortality.” She writes, “Contemplating our own mortality can spur a sense of urgency.” She goes on to say, “The urgency is to become more earnest, more sincere, more aligned in our spiritual intention.”
In subsequent chapters, Singh discusses topics such as silence, forgiveness, presence and life review. In each case, she looks at the topic from the perspective of liberation. For example, in the chapter on forgiveness, she talks about "liberation from aversion" and "freedom from anger and judgment." She conveys that forgiveness allows us to free our awareness from the “mental affliction of aversion.”
In this book, Singh doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of aging. Early on, she discusses “predictable sufferings,” which are various types of losses that may occur as we age. Another interesting point is that she strongly advocates a daily meditative practice; however, there is quite a bit that’s useful in the book even for those not inclined to such a practice.
More than anything, The Grace in Aging makes it clear how important the concluding phase of our lives can be. As Singh states, “If we have any desire to awaken, this is our last chance.”
5 SOUNDTRACKS TO BOOST YOUR ENERGY
There’s nothing else like a lively movie soundtrack to help a person to get moving on a dreary winter’s day. Here are 5 good options to consider:
1) Beyond the Sea. The life story of Bobby Darin—Kevin Spacey plays Darin and, yes, Spacey sings in the film. The soundtrack includes energetic numbers such as Darin’s first hit, “Splish Splash.”
2) De-Lovely. Another life story—Cole Porter, in this case. The album includes classics such as “Anything Goes” and “You’re the Top.”
3) Mary Poppins. Not just for kids, by any means. The movie, which has gotten renewed attention due to the film Saving Mr. Banks, has a vibrant soundtrack that’s punctuated by a few slower numbers.
4) The Music Man. One of the most invigorating movie soundtracks you’ll ever encounter, perhaps in part because the storyline includes a marching band.
5) South Pacific. A musical that, in some ways, was ahead of its time. It features songs such as “Some Enchanted Evening” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy.”
WORD OF THE MONTH: CreativITY
A hallmark of a creative project is that when we start out, we don’t know what we’re going to end up with. As a quote attributed to the writer Ray Bradbury succinctly states, “Creativity is a continual surprise.” We may have a flash of creative inspiration at the outset, but as we interact with the page or the paint or whatever medium we are using, a project may well take us in very surprising directions.
The creative process can be thought of as a journey. Like all journeys, it happens over the course of time. Though the world may focus on the end result, the process of being creative is its own reward. According to Marianne Williamson, “The highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative.”
It’s important to remember that all of us can be creative. The joy of creativity is not something that is just reserved for people who are considered to be professional artists. We can bring creativity to various aspects of our lives, even when we are doing something as ordinary as composing an email message or preparing a meal. At its core, creativity is about self-expression and self-revelation. We all have the capability to express and reveal ourselves through our creative actions.
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Looking Ahead
In the winter months, it can be uplifting to spend a few minutes on occasion looking ahead to the types of experiences that will await us when the weather warms up. We might anticipate gardening or summer sports or visiting the water’s edge.