41 Books and Counting

I love goodreads, probably because I’m an obsessive list maker.  Goodreads lets you keep track of books you’ve read, want to read, and are currently reading.  (I can even scan book bar codes from my iPhone to add to my lists thanks to their app!)  This was the first year that I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read and my total count is 41 this year! I’m a little bit proud. I’ll try to finish four more before the end of December and make it an even 45.

Rediscovering the San Francisco Public Library had a lot to do with the number of books I devoured. Until this year, I hadn’t visited a library since college.  I forgot how libraries open my heart wide with the possibility. The smell, the beautiful architecture, the plastic covers on the hard backs, the wooden slab tables with green Banker’s Lamps at each seat. When we moved this summer, we moved within walking distance to our neighborhood branch. I had no more excuses.  I’d dragged my feet about getting a library card because I was happy to support our local bookstores. We have at least five in walking distance.  One of things I love most about San Francisco is the number of independent bookstores there are.

There was a problem though. Every once in a while I’d buy a book that looked great at the outset, only to find out 100 pages in that I wasn’t really going to love this one.  Since I’d bought it, I would dutifully press on making myself read page after page.  Eventually I’d stay away from reading altogether to avoid the drudgery of slogging through a book that just wasn’t for me. The only reward was the relief of being done with it.

I discovered a beautiful thing when I started visiting my library.  I don’t have to read books I don’t like.  After I’ve given a book a fair chance I can slip it through the book return slot without an ounce of guilt.  I can also request books from any library in the system – some 2.2 million books – and have them put on hold and delivered to my local branch. ALL FOR FREE.  Unbelievable.

Ink and paper books make my heart beat faster.  Whenever I check out a book from the library that I absolutely love, I’ll buy it to add to my bookshelf at home.

(C) Open Hearted

(c) Open Hearted

A Prayer for the Home

Mezuzah in Kauai

Mezuzah in Kauai (c) Open Hearted

I became Jewish in the spring of this year.  I’m not an overtly religious person, but I enjoy the spiritual comfort of finding home in a religious framework.  I’d grown up without one and started exploring Judaism after I met my husband.  H is not particularly religious either, but considers himself without a doubt Jewish.

One of my favorite Jewish traditions is the mezuzah a little bit of parchment with prayers written upon it, wrapped up tight inside a small box hung on the doorpost of Jewish homes.  I always feel comforted when I walk by ours, reminded that our home is a blessed one.

The first thing I noticed about this little cottage we’re staying in, in Kauai, was the mezuzah at the door post.  One glance made me feel connected to the people who owned this home and the place.  The words were quite fitting too: “May this home be blessed with peace and tranquility.”

That is exactly what we have found here.

Finding Bliss

Morning View from the Lanai (c) Open Hearted

Morning View from the Lanai (c) Open Hearted

I found pure blissed out heaven this morning. We woke up to this view from the back porch of the tiny cottage we rented in Kauai.  H and I planned this trip with about five days notice deciding on a whim that we needed to get up and out of San Francisco for a while.  H is in between jobs and headed in to a challenging work environment. We’re staring down the last three months of my pregnancy before our family becomes three. Time keeps rushing by us at breathtaking speed.  We needed to create a calm moment for ourselves. I’m hoping we find even greater joy on the other side of this birth, but the uncertainty and total relinquishment of control is stressful.

We came to Kauai for our honeymoon a year and a half ago and it was less than a perfect trip.  The hotel was like a parking lot in the middle of a golf course (stay away from the Westin Kauai).  We hadn’t done much research on the weather and weren’t prepared for the dramatic thunderstorms common on the North Shore.  The emotional overwhelm of the wedding made it really hard for me to relax and enjoy. I was overjoyed to be married to H, but the sheer overload of feelings around the wedding left me a little shell-shocked.  Ever since we finished that trip, I’ve wanted a redo on our honeymoon.  Now became the perfect time.

Coming back I had a completely different attitude, open to whatever experience was in store for us.  This morning I found the peace and stillness that I usually only get for a moment or two at the end of a really great yoga practice.  I wish I could find this kind of joy and stillness in the midst of my every day life in San Francisco – tap into gratitude and find the beauty and joy in the every day.  We’re only on day one of the trip and I know I’ll come home restored, my well filled up again to overflowing.  It will be more than enough to sustain me through this next transition and I’m very grateful for that.