Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

Book Review: Real Men Don’t Apologize by Jim Belushi

Real Men Don’t Apologize

James Belushi

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st ed/1st printing edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401301827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301828
  • WARNING: This is not my typical kind of post and I’m not sure it’s family friendly — but it is 100% me. Like it or leave it. Remember that dream I had about Jim last week? Well, I decided to dig into it and see if perhaps I might be able to learn something – so I bought his book. I never watched According to Jim because it was on Tuesdays and well, Fox rules Tuesday night. ;-D I have no idea what that show is about, but I do know about the book. I’m giving it 4 stars out of 5.

    Okay, I’ll admit it, I used to cry when Mr. Rogers came on TV. Why? Because he scared me.  My Grandfather owned a hardware store near Syracuse NY, and the rest of the men worked in construction.  My mother was a book-keeper for several construction companies. I had men around, they just didn’t wear cardigan sweaters and penny loafers. The men in my life came with blood, sweat, tears, mouths and beer. Mr Rogers looked like the creepy neighbor up the street all the kids were told to stay away from.

    Surrounded by construction, and raised by a single Mom, it’s really no surprise that I grew up to become the only female on an all male crew at Sprint Communications in Chicago back in 1987. These guys taught me everything I know about hard work, telecom and the essentials of smoking, drinking and swearing. (Something my husband has spent 22 years trying to unteach me) Even my Father-in-law was a Teamster and he taught me how to play poker and let me swear when his son wasn’t around. Dad is gone now, but oh I loved him.

     As frequently as I’d punch one of guys I worked with in the arm for “being a pig” I always knew I was the safest when I was with my crew. I could trust them — because they were men who behaved like real men when it counted. They protected me when I needed protection and they kicked me in the backside when I needed that as well. They were honest and they were real.

    The only exception to this rule is the married slime ball who tried to sleep with me when we were on a job together in Dallas. I turned him down and it wasn’t pretty. He was kinda mad. My shift manager found out and after verbally reaming me for being so stupid (I’d been flirting with the guy because I thought I could get away with it.) he sent me back to Chicago. The guys took me out, and filled me in on the facts of life, like I’ve never heard – the complete and unabridged version not fit for this blog.

    I was only 22, on my own for the first time and grateful to have men in my life who gave it to me straight, held me accountable, and protected me when needed. I owe a lot of who I am as a women today, to these men.  I never saw dipshit again. Rumor has it they sent him to work with the rats in the sewers. I’ve been to our warehouse on Wacker drive, I’ve seen those rats. (They are bigger than my dog) and I’m happy he found a home away from home.

    So what does all that have to do with Jim Belushi’s book, Real Men Don’t Apologize? A lot. I’m setting the scene. While this book is obviously written by a man for men — I enjoyed it. Yes, it’s sometimes rude, crude and vile and yes I did at times wish I could punch him in the arm for “being a pig,” however,  my past experience with men helps me sift through the BS. He has a lot of great truths in here that I believe women should know about. The problem is, most women I know wouldn’t be able to sift through or stomach the raw nature of his writing and that’s a shame some of it is actually laugh out loud funny. And some of it requires an interpreter — which is where my husband really came in handy. I’ll add — much to his dismay, there are some things that should just stay between the guys. He’s right. I didn’t need to really understand all of that.

    I read this book in two days. You don’t believe me, go look at my kitchen, it’s a mess. I’ll get it cleaned up. There were pieces in this book that kicked me in the gut – it reminded me of the good old days of Chicago and my crew, God how I miss those guys. There are things here I need to learn and do for myself and I’ll leave that for another day and another blog. 

    Real men don’t apologize for who they are – even in face of a woman who is trying to make them — That’s big ladies. If you are a harpie or someone bent on castrating a man, this book will really upset you. Jim’s advice to men – know who you are, live who you are, and know your boundaries, are great adages for women as well. (Things I’m not doing well right now)  It’s also good to know Belushi’s Five commandments — and Jim or Jim’s attorney, please forgive me — But I HAVE to share this – my husband has the same “rules.” This is what respect looks like to both my husband and apparently to Jim.

    1. Thou Shalt Not Shush Me – ever
    2.  Thou Shalt Not Steal 
    3.  Thou Shalt Not Banish Me to the Couch – this is a non-negotiable rule in our house, has been since I met my husband in 1987. Unless I’m snoring and then he banishes himself. (which of course I never do.)
    4. Thou Shalt not Compete with Me (Personal note: women don’t always know what competing looks like to you guys – really wish he’d expounded here.)
    5. Thou Shalt not expect an apology for something I am not sorrieth for

    This is an excellent book — language and crudeness aside — he speaks well of his wife Jenny and his children and the sweetest thing in it – the end. He tells what the ONE thing Jenny gave him that no other woman ever did — and to find that out, you have to read the book.

     If you’re brave, check it out – skim through the “yuckier” stuff if you have to, but I warn you don’t skim too far he’s buried some wonderful surprises in there.

    And for those who’d rather just judge the title of the book — don’t. Under no circumstances does he ever say, be a jerk, treat people badly and make no excuses. He sets the scene very early about that. Chapter One I believe in a “man quiz” — Real men own their mess — and I’m sorry is a manipulative word – if you did something wrong, own it and clean it up do not blame shift. And that — is respectful.

    To order his book check out the web page: Jim Belushi or to check out his newest show The Defenders on CBS

    This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All rights reserved. No goods or services were received in exchange for this review.