Friday, June 20, 2014

Post-Divorce Self-Help Books, and . . . Books for the Bar

Author Dawn Powell, 1914
I'm a great lover of cocktail culture, but it just doesn't feel right to hit my favorite craft cocktail bars alone on the weekends.

However . . . opening time, at around 5:30pm on a Saturday can be great.  No one's there, no one is coveting your seat at the bar, and it's a great time to crack open a book and enjoy a creative libation.

But there is a quandary here:  I want to recommend two of the books that helped me most in getting through my divorce and post-divorce trauma with one mini-tragedy after another, but do you really want to take a self-help book into a bar?

I self-helped myself like crazy, reading literally dozens of pop-psych books on depression, anxiety, stress, divorce, co-dependency, positive thinking, midlife dating, and more.  But I don't want you to have to read through all of those thousands of pages.

In particular, the midlife dating guides were worst.  The conventional wisdom:  Get cracking, sister.  You'll have to claw like a tiger and be ready to serve your man like never before just to get a sub-par guy to pay attention to you.  Because, sorry, at midlife, available single women are the cream of the crop, while their single male counterparts are the maladjusted, misanthropic leftovers.  And, we have to fight over them . . . or spend the rest of our lives alone.  Don't read these books, ladies!

Here are my top two woo-woo must-reads:

Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
I Need Your Love:  Is that True? by Byron Katie

Both of these books will put your mind in a better place, without dozens of complex steps or mind-bending concepts to internalize.  Both are straight-forward, clear, and you'll have your aha moment inside of an hour.

But . . . do you want to be seen reading the aforementioned woo-woo in public?  Hmmm, probably not.

So, let me recommend the following tales of women who made their own choices in life, and wouldn't be afraid to have a cocktail on their own:
The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
The Women by T.C. Boyle
Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers by Jane Robinson

In the spirit of the cocktail's heyday, I also recommend any novel by Dawn Powell,but especially my favorite, Angels on Toast.  Here's a wonderful salon.com encomium about Powell, "How Dawn Powell can save your life," from 1999.  And, find her Wikipedia bio here.  If you're fascinated by Manhattan from the 1930s through 1950s (as I am), you'll want to know about this neglected author.

Try it:  If your friends are all occupied, and you're just dying to get out of the house on a less-than-beautiful Saturday or Sunday afternoon, hit one of your town's upscale cocktail bars, and kick back with a book and a little borrowed panache.  Pretty soon, the charm and charisma will be all yours.

Let me know how it goes and what you decided to read : ) .

Friday, June 6, 2014

Going to church

Having been raised Roman Catholic, there's a lot of conscious and subconscious suffering, guilt, and focus on sin that's a part of the worship experience.  Not to mention the lack of respect for women within the church.  But, still, it's wonderful to be able to participate in a spiritual experience on Sundays, and attending Mass isn't the only way to go.

For a while, I attended Bodhi Spiritual Center, 2746 N. Magnolia Ave., a Chicago-based branch of the Center for Spiritual Living.  If you've ever read self-help authors in the mold of Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer, you'll be familiar with the beliefs that are espoused at Bodhi.  Every service is an uplifting experience.

My one caveat is:  Don't expect to make friends here.  I'd been attending Sunday services plus miscellaneous events for about two years, and it remained impossible to break into this community without attending instructional classes at the church at $200 and up for a series.

An acquaintance suggested that the best way to make friends is to volunteer for the welcome team, or sign-up for another volunteer group at the church.  If you're ready to make an immediate commitment to be all-in, this might be a great path to take.

Without putting in some elbow grease behind the scenes, it's kind of depressing to try to strike up a conversation over coffee in the fellowship hall after services. Feels a little like visiting from Mars.

But, even if you're not a joiner, you can still enjoy:
  • A hug at the door as you enter the sanctuary
  • Great, uplifting contemporary music at every service
  • Inspiring, thought-provoking sermons based on new-thought tenets such as positive thinking, affirmations, non-judgment of others, and gratitude
  • Brief one-on-one prayer after service with a licensed spiritual counselor
  • Oneness blessing after service, which is a lovely laying on of hands to transfer spiritual energy to the receiver (very powerful and energizing feeling)
If it sounds like a nice start to Sunday morning, see if there's a Center for Spiritual Living in your city.

All in all, a very pleasant worship experience -- without the hell and damnation -- and then on to the solo Sunday brunch with an inspirational book in tow, or maybe an internet date.