From A Mississippi Poet

Hey!

In the spring, I had an unexpected offer to review two books of poetry by an author from my home state of Mississippi. I was and still am so flattered that someone would ask me to review their work and post a review online. I have to admit along with the surge of excitement also came the weight of realization of “what if.” I worried about what if I disliked the work, what would I say, and then how would I review the work kindly and gently but honestly? Fortunately, that worry was lifted and unfounded as I began to read Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s books of poetry.In his Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke instructs a young writer –

“write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember.”

This sage advice perfectly captures what Patricia Neely-Dorsey has accomplished in her work. For those from Mississippi, a sense of home and place will resonate strongly in the words and take you to the front porch, the church potluck, to musings about Elvis, and even to the budding of love. But, I believe her words transcend beyond the borders of our state and reach any who feel a connection to their home, to a simple life filled with the love of place, family, and friends as well as those who are curious about what it means to be southern.

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is a woman who cares deeply for her home state and is a reflection and vocal proponent of showcasing Mississippi’s finer points. She is the recipient of the title Official Goodwill Ambassador of Mississippi by Governor Phil Bryant and one of her newer poems (not included in these two books), Meet My Mississippi, is being considered for selection as the official state poem. Her poem, Country Living, below, is included in a textbook for high school students in Germany learning English as a second language.

From Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia:

Country Living

It’s grassroots.

It’s simple.

It’s basic, not plush.

Uncomplicated.

Uncluttered.

Unhurried.

Unrushed.

It’s relaxed.

Unpolluted.

Unequaled.

Unmatched.

From My Magnolia Memories and Musings:

Them Blues

Somebody’s always singing

Them Monday Morning blues songs

Them sho’nuff done me wrong songs

Them stayed out all night long songs

Them moaning, groaning love songs

Them bear your heart and soul songs

Them feel it in your bones songs

Them make you weak and strong songs

Them letting go and holding on songs

Them totally yours and mine songs

Them everybody knows songs…

We ALL love them blues…songs

One of my favorites is about reading but has a twist. From Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia:

Avid Reader

I want to be

Your favorite book,

That you read

Over and over again,

From cover to cover,

And get lost in the story.

Not a fairy tale.

Not a mystery.

No cliff hangers.

Just

A Plain

Old Fashioned

Love Story

If you love what you’ve just read and would like to learn more about Patricia, check out her website found here. Her books can be purchased on her website or you can also find her on Facebook here.

Blessings,

Mimi

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isaiah 32:18

Tidying the Nest

Hey!

Earlier in the summer amidst all of the clutter and chaos my house became after we began a renovation on an RV all summer (post to come), I looked around and thought, “This house is a disaster and as soon as the kids move out I’m purging all this stuff BIG time!” Technically, I might have actually said that statement out loud more than a few times. I think my receptors to words like clean, tidy, organized, and stress-free were heightened because I heard these words everywhere associated with Marie Kondo’s book. So, after much hype on blogs and GMA, I drank the koolaid and bought the book.

Ms. Kondo is touted as an organizer extraordinaire. She has developed a method of organizing called the KonMari method that has literally swept Japan’s households clean of clutter. Ms. Kondo describes her methods in detail throughout the book as well as sharing some of her personal history. All of that aside, I was underwhelmed by the book. I’ve read organizing books before, and just maybe I was hoping for a cleaning fairy wand, but I was disappointed.

What I did like about the book:

Her methods for folding are genius. I’m still working through the discarding of my clothes but I’m impressed so far. As a lifetime baller of socks, the idea for storing socks has really helped me save time and helped me to quickly get to the socks that I want. Also, the order and manner of discarding is unique. When I sorted my tops, for instance, the book instructs you to pile all of your tops from everywhere in the house (except the ones in the laundry) together to sort. Instead of room by room or closet by closet, she has you gather all of the like items into the same location before you discard. I found this idea easier than other methods and quicker. Lastly, Ms. Kondo states that the discard will take months. She’s right. Her approach is more comprehensive but I believe it will yield better results. This idea is obvious yet candidly refreshing.

 

What I did not like about the book:

Some of the practices that she would like you to incorporate as you are tidying are unrealistic and are perhaps better understood in a Japanese culture. I found some of them odd and off-putting. For instance, she suggests that you remove all of the contents from your purse each night, thank the purse for its service and allow it to rest for the evening before refilling the purse in the morning. Not going to happen here. Poor purse. She also requests that you verbally greet your home when you arrive and as you tidy your space and discard items that you thank the items for their service. Again, not for me. These practices are probably a reflection of her Shinto beliefs.

Ms. Kondo also shares parts of her personal history to explain her passion for organizing. I found most of these personal stories distracting to the book’s purpose. One story would’ve been sufficient instead of interspersed throughout the book. Perhaps, these personal insights would’ve been better suited to a memoir rather than a book on organizing. In addition, I also found the English translation glitchy at times. While the words were probably translated right, the overall gist was wonky in these places.

 

Ms. Kondo’s mantra to use while discarding is: Does it spark joy?  Overall, I’d say this book is a 2.5 stars joy out of 5 stars joy rating. I’m encouraged to use what I like from the book and discard the rest.

Blessings,

Mimi

So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 The Message

 

Books, Books, Books

Hey!

Books and summertime go together, don’t you think? I do and I have been steadily reading this summer. I only wish I could forego all of my daily chores to sit and read for hours on end. Ah, that would be bliss!

At the start of the year, Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy issued a reading challenge: Read 12 books in 12 different categories in 12 months. She chose the categories and those participating chose their own books. I’ve been nibbling away at the categories and now have only 2 left to go! As far as my own personal goal to read 50 books this year, I’m on the right track with 32 read so far for the year.

#1 A book I’ve been meaning to read: Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner: This book sat on my nightstand for a couple of years. I enjoyed it and felt parts were spot on for me but I liked her book girl meets God more. A solid 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

#2 A book published this yearThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: I loved this book as much as the first one, The Queen of the Tearling. The story headed into a different direction than I expected but I’m all in for the third one. I can’t wait to see the movie with Emma Watson!  4 stars

#3 A book in a genre I don’t typically readHorrorstor by Grady Hendrix: Creepy, easy to read, quick paced and not my cup of tea. I gave this book 2.5 stars because I did like the concept of using the store as a setting which added to the creepy factor and I liked the graphics used throughout the book.

#4 A book from my childhood: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: Still love this wonderful story. I gave this book 5 stars because of sentimental reasons and because I do feel the story is excellent as well as the writing.

#5 A book that was originally written in a different language: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke: Originally written in German, this story is about a young man seeking advice from the poet. Lots of wonderful thoughts and quotes on life and writing. 4.5 stars

#6 A book everyone has read but me: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult: I couldn’t finish it. I tried really hard. I read it for book club and I read half of it [200 pages] and sort of skimmed the rest. I just don’t like Jodi Picoult’s style of writing. Everyone kept telling me I would love this one because it was not like her others. I disagree. It was exactly like her others. No rating, wouldn’t be fair.

#7 A book I chose because of the cover: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai: I’m reading this book now. The story is as beautiful as the cover. A girl accompanies her grandmother back to their native Vietnam to discover what happened to her grandfather and is learning about the value of family. Right now, the book is hovering in the 4 star region.

#8 A book by a favorite author: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good  by Jan Karon: I loved being back in Mitford with all of the familiar characters. The book did feel a little like a swan song. 4 stars because I adore this series.

#9 A book recommended by someone with great taste: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay: My friend Nancy suggested this book to me and I loved it and have recommended it to others. I ordered her second book the minute I finished this one. 4 stars

#10 A book thats currently on the bestseller listThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: This book is also not a typical genre for me but I read it for book club. I thought the book was well written and I enjoyed it but I was so stressed out reading it which is why I don’t normally read this genre, psychological thriller. 4 stars

My last 2 categories to conquer are: A book my mom loves and a book I should have read in high school. If you’d like to read my full review on any of these books (except for A Wrinkle in Time and Listen, Slowly), you can find them by clicking on the Goodreads bar on the right hand side of the page.

Blessings,

Mimi

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 NIV Bible

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hey!

Months have passed since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t wait to share. I’ve read some good books, some I’m-not-sure-how-I-feel-about-it books, and some real duds. The book I can’t wait to share — I haven’t even finished yet. This book is that good!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure, a young blind girl, lives with her father in Paris. When Marie-Laure went blind at age 6, her father built an exact, dollhouse sized replica of their neighborhood so that she could learn to navigate her surroundings. Marie-Laure’s father serves as the locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When the Nazis invade Paris, Marie-Laure and her father escape to live with his uncle in Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure’s father is entrusted by the director of the museum with the keeping of a very important gem which might be one of three fakes or the original since the Nazis are collecting items of value.

Werner along with his sister, Jutta are orphans who are raised in a group home in Zollverein, Germany. Werner is exceptionally bright and becomes fascinated by a radio that he finds. He teaches himself how to build and fix radios which grabs the attention of a Nazi Officer who has Werner sent to a Hitler Youth Center. Werner is brutally trained for service as well as receiving additional training with radios. He is selected for a special assignment along with his team to track the transmissions of the Resistance and eliminate the enemy.

 “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”  Anthony Doerr

The story is told in flashbacks and flashforwards with the stories of Werner and Marie-Laure intermingled. Their stories begin to merge as the book progresses toward its conclusion. All The Light We Cannot See is beautifully crafted with layers of reflection. A few of which are what it means to hear, to see, to be courageous, and the symbolism of light and waves. A finalist for the National Book Award for 2014, this book would make a wonderful book club choice.

Click here to hear the author read a portion of the book.

Blessings,

Mimi

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  Isaiah 9:2 NIV Bible