Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Reads: Featuring a Mennonite, a Mother and a Goddess

Let's face it, Mother's are pretty simple creatures and don't require much on our special day. We love home-made cards, breakfast in bed, flowers or anything resembling a foot rub. I love books. I have found the tactile sensation of thumbing pages, underlining passages and triumphantly slamming it shut after the final words are read is one of my favorite ways to "Unplug and Recharge." To celebrate Mother's Day, consider giving your mom a new book, a nice cup of tea and some spaciousness to become lost in a great story.

And I do mean b-o-o-k, not some sort of electronic gadget thing-a-ma-jig. I must admit, I am a dinosaur, and cannot bring myself to use a Kindle. It seems sacrilegious somehow. This past weekend I was returning home from the Wisdom 2.0 conference- essentially an "early Mother's Day" gift for me of hanging out with friends, colleagues and fascinating people for three days with nary a kid in sight.

As our plane prepared to take off and fly across the country, I had a couple new books ready to roll, and was psyched. My seatmate, in 12D, took out his Kindle, pushed the "on" button - and nothing happened. Apparently, he fell asleep reading it the night before, the battery was dead, and he was now out of luck for the 3.5 hours in the air. I swear he was fuming for a half hour, while I smugly buried my nose in the musty smelling pages of sweet delight.

Whether you love the Kindle or book, here are three gems I have recently read that would make a fabulous Mother's Day gift. I selected three different genres; including a hilarious memoir on par with Eat, Pray, Love, a poignant address from mother to her young children, and an inspiring collection of essays from an 'A-list' group that will inspire and energize.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen recently came out in paperback, and is a classic laugh out loud memoir that is impossible to put down, and reads like a great chit chat with your best friend in a coffee joint. Janzen's book opens with the triple whammy of hearing her control freak husband is leaving her for a guy named Bob he met on, followed by suffering a horrible car accident, and facing an academic sabbatical to fill. In order to cope and heal, she journeyed home to her parents and her deeply conservative Mennonite roots. Within the first ten pages I was cracking up, engaged, and hooked on Janzen's easy breezy style, and sublime use of words- like calling the Mennonites " turbo-dorks."

No one can say it better than Janzen herself. Check it out:

Kelly Corrigan is the author of bestselling book The Middle Place, and YouTube sensation, with over 4.6 million hits on her essay "Transcending: Words on Women and Strength," about her Mother and her circle of friends called "the hens." If you didn't see it last year, belly up to the monitor with Mom, and bring some Kleenex. It is the ultimate tribute to women, and their ability to hold each other up.

Corrigan's follow up book, Lift, is a delicate, funny, and piercingly honest letter to her young daughters. Recognizing the precious "little girl" phase is quickly fading away, Corrigan sat down, and decided to describe "how it is with us" and capture the realities of motherhood in an age they are likely to forget as adults. Motherhood is hardly a picnic, and in fact is filled with turbulence, fears and sometimes regrets. The title, Lift, reflects the paradox of the mothering metahor. "Turbulence is the only way to get altitude, to get lift. Without turbulence, the sky is just a big blue hole. Without turbulence, you sink." I loved this little book like savoring a favorite piece of dark chocolate with rock salt.

Here is Corrigan sharing a passage of the book at home with her girls:

Finally, a dear friend of mine sent me a new book called Goddess Shift- Women Leading for a Change- a non-fiction anthology of essays that is very different from the two lighter reads above. This book is hard core inspirational collection of essays from a truly amazing list of women including Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Barbara Walters, Riane Eisler, Venus and Serena Williams, Jane Fonda, Riane Eisler , Oprah Winfrey, and Angelina Jolie.

A fabulous gift to leave by the bedside, each of the essays are geared to celebrate how far women have come, and to honor those on the forefront. Stephanie Marohn, the editor, describes it as,
"a celebration of our new community, the vision of a more just and loving world. Gathered in this book are some of our living goddesses who have much to say about what women bring to leadership, how women can empower themselves, and how women are creating change in all walks of life."

Goddess Shift offers personal insights that collectively are a deep treasure for women of all ages. Of particular note is all of the royalties are being donated to non-profit organizations that support women's change, including the Global Fund for Women, Capacitar, and Tostan.

Here is a wonderful interview from this week on Fox News about the book, featuring Olympia Dukakis talking about the goddess. Fox News and the Goddess? WOW!

Celebrate all the women in your life who have mothered you in some way. The women who made you laugh, made you cry, or inspired you with their love and leadership. Do you have any special books to share that celebrate women's journeys, motherhood or empowerment? Love to hear them in the comments below and Happy Mother's Day.

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