Monthly Archives: November 2009

Creative Flowdreaming by Summer McStravick

Many years ago I started listening to Hay House Radio online (www.hayhouseradio.com). There’s some seriously kooky names for some of the programs.  Ex. – “Angel Therapy”, “Feng Shui and Space Cleaning Secrets of Your Animal Guides.” Among the weird hosts there were a few gems I listened to faithfully and applied to my life and got good results. I can’t recommend this radio station enough if you work in a hostile environment or for an asshole employer.

One of the gems is a show called Flowdreaming with Summer McStravick. It was the perfect blend of contemporary spirituality and stress reduction techniques. Her main platform was teaching people how to use a blend of meditation, daydreaming, and focus to change their lives. It made me all warm and tingly all over and made me feel hopeful again about my life.

Summer published her first book about Flowdreaming in 2006, and it was the perfect manual to supplement her radio show. In her second book Creative Flowdreaming, Summer sets up some pretty big promises for her book, like how she didn’t rely on scientific evidence and instead reveals personal information as her support. And nothing lends believability like getting rid of icky science and going with personal accounts.

The first third of the book held up nicely and flowed with what she started in her first book, but then it took a weird turn. Around the middle, Summer started to sound like she just found out how the universe works and now she’s telling us the “truth” that she, all by herself, discovered. It has such a tone of “This IS what you should believe because it’s what I know to be true” and “if you want a better life faster than you better adopt these beliefs as soon as possible.” But it’s common sense stuff to anyone remotely practicing in the New Age arena.

The book spirals down into what reads like Summer just trying to convince herself of some newfound spirituality diet she started on. This book really turned me off from any book she writes in the future and her radio show. After reading this, I just can’t listen to her anymore and take her serious.

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Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris

My sister gave me an NPR compilation CD for Christmas last year, and I was intrigued since I never listen to NPR, my sister knew this, and still she got that CD for me. I started listening to the little stories and they were all so good. By far the best recording was an extremely funny story called “SantaLand Dairies” read by the author David Sedaris. I had never heard of him before and the end of the recording mentioned his book by name.

I went out and bought two of this little gem, one for me and one for my sister to give her next Christmas. The Christmas I gave her the book we took turns reading to each other from it. It really got us into the Christmas spirit better than when Grandma would prolong the inevitable gift opening by reading about a long eared donkey that carried Mary before she gave birth to Jesus. A new Christmas tradition was born by reading part of one of the stories from this book, only after we opened our gifts.

The characters in David’s stories are so real. In a few pages, he creates people you can enthusiastically hate or completely relate to. That’s the best part. There’s always so much I can relate to. Working retail right before Christmas, getting days off from school because of a snow delay, watching a poorly acted elementary school pageant. And they’re all so funny.

There are one of two dud stories, but a dud by David is still far better than a lot of other comedy fiction I’ve read. His best story is “SantaLand Diaries” which had so much more detail than the recording I fell in love with. The next best story is called “Us and Them” about a family that moves next door to David, but they don’t believe in watching TV. He remarks about how odd it is they seem to like talking to each other at dinner and they go on fishing trips on the weekends. The best part of the story is when the neighbors show up on Nov. 1st to trick or treat because they were out of town on a trip for Halloween, and now David and his sisters must give the neighbor kids some of their hard earned candy. Reading how David must decide which candy to give up and eventually how his mother must intervene are hilarious.

David is a master at taking his seeming innocent point of view narration and turning it into the twist of the stories. I look forward to reading more of his books now that I have discovered he wrote more than this one.

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Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

What a quick read. I thought I was going to get a job at a parenting magazine, and since I’m not a parent, I went out and bought a bunch of books on baby raising. I didn’t get the job, and didn’t bother reading this. I finally gave this book a read this weekend.

The author advertises her book as a no nonsense, straight shooting, telling it like it is, reporting from the trenches, real book about having a baby. None of the cutesy fluffy “motherhood is wonder” drab. She lays down the law that she hates it when people tell her how to raise her kid, and she’s going to give the reader the honest look at motherhood no one has dared to put into print.

Yeah, that’s not what this book is. When she starts talking about how she’s a big producer and writer living in LA, that pretty discounts this book will be relatable to 95% of the people who have children. The book reads like it’s a throwaway script of jokes that didn’t make the cut for a crappy parenthood TV show. One such gem is “if you’re dying for your child to speak Chinese, why not adopt a Chinese kid? The upside is in a few years they can do your taxes. On the other hand, they’ll cost you a bundle in car insurance.”

Like I said, I’ve never had a child, and this book still didn’t seem to line up with anything any of my friends who do have kids have told me about motherhood. She goes to great lengths to prove she’s not one of those crazy alpha moms. The ones who take charge at mommy and me classes or demands the toys are sterilized before a play date. With the great use of italics, sentences that begin with “Believe me”, and overused cliches, she tries to prove she was a laid back, cool mom right out of the gate, and that’s what all new moms should try to be. Maybe she was so oblivious before having her first child that literally everything related to a baby was new to her, but there’s so much she makes a big deal out of that even I knew as commonplace.

It’s probably because I couldn’t relate to all the screaming, sleepless nights, or something biting my boobs, but I just didn’t find this book that entertaining. If you are sleep deprived and want to read someone trying to tell you in fifty different ways how much that sucks, then you might really enjoy this.

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A New Book Year!

Today marks the start of a new Cannonball Read year.  Last year I completed 23 books.  This year looks much more promising since I only have to read to 52 total.

I really don’t like to read. This is the equivalent of eating mushrooms (yuck) or listening to rap music. I just don’t do it. But I have hope. I will be rereading some of the good books I read last year because they were that good and I get more out of them at each reading.

The blogs are to follow!

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