Category Archives: Readers’ Resources

All we need is TIME TO READ

Not so very long ago, a small group of librarians had the idea to create a monthly “Podcast Bookclub” to which anyone could subscribe and follow along.

We are super excited to announce that today (Friday, February 2, 2018) is the launch day for our first episode! You can find us at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca or wherever you find your other podcasts.

Time to Read Event Banner

We are calling it “Time to Read” and we would love it if you gave it a listen. Our first selection is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. When we announced this project on Twitter last month,  Margaret Atwood HERSELF tweeted her approval, so no pressure, right?

atwood tweet

“Passionate and Witty”? You be the judge!

Without giving too much away, in addition to talking about Margaret Atwood and her dystopian novel, we veer off on tangents involving sloths, CD-ROMs, Blade Runner, and Keanu Reeves. To learn more you’ll just have to listen. Haven’t read Oryx and Crake yet? What are you waiting for? The cool thing about podcasts is that they will be still available for listening down the road, so you can always go back and revisit old episodes.

Going forward, we are hoping that you, our online community of readers, can be a part of this project too. We’d love it if you’d like to read each month’s selection along with us, and send us your opinions, thoughts and questions ahead of time. We’ll even give you a shout out during the episode if you include your first name and home library branch. We’ll be eagerly checking our inbox at:

wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

You’ll also be able to find us on Instagram,  Twitter and Facebook, and we would love to hear from you after you listen as well. Even if you disagree with us. ESPECIALLY if you disagree with us! It’s all about getting a discussion going, and connecting in new and different ways.

 

 

Next month’s book will be Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I can’t wait to find out what all of us, and all of YOU, have to say about it.

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TIME TO READ: A WPL Podcast

Trevor

Remember When….

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” — Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite things to do when I was little, was bake with my mom.  She’d pull out our matching aprons, I’d grab a chair to pull up next to the counter, and together we’d mix, stir, measure and pour.  If I was lucky, she’d let me crack the eggs.  And forgiving as she was, she’d then pick out all of the eggshells that inevitably landed in the batter!

To this day, the smell of cookies baking in the oven reminds me of this wonderful memory.  What an incredible gift, to be able to cultivate a feeling of warmth, happiness and love, simply from an aroma! Memories are powerful.  And the amazing thing is, they last a lifetime!

I recently read an article on The Incredible Power of Nostalgia, and I was fascinated to learn about the scientific research being done on memories, reminiscing, and “nostalgizing.” In a 2012 study published in the journal Memory, Routledge and his colleagues showed that nostalgizing helps people relate their past experiences to their present lives in order to make greater meaning of it all. The result can boost their mood and reduce stress. “Nostalgia increases feelings of social connectedness to others,” he says. “Nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely.”

All the more reason to flip through that dusty photo album, call up on old friend, or pick up that “old favourite” book!  Here are a few childhood classics to stir up those feel good memories:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
One evening Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight. Armed only with an oversize purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of wonder and excitement. Harold and his trusty crayon travel through woods and across seas and past dragons before returning to bed, safe and sound. Full of funny twists and surprises, this charming story shows just how far your imagination can take you.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast lunch and dinner.
But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers.  Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food. the town was a mess and the people feared for their lives.  Something had to be done, and in a hurry.

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig
Pete’s father starts kneading the dough. Next, some oil is generously applied. (Its really water.) And then some tomatoes. (They’re really checkers.) When the dough gets tickled, it laughs like crazy.

Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Viorst
He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV.  What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever.  The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

~ Lindsay

 

Dear Diary,

Here I go again. I haven’t given up (yet) on writing regularly in a journal and have that stack of attempts to prove it! (Do I really need to buy a brand new journal when I’m going to try my hand at it again?! I really must stop doing that.)

Anyhow, I recently decided to take this journaling bull by the horns. Before I give up on doing this, I wanted to see if I was missing something. So I went to the library to get some ideas – inspiration – anything! I can’t be the first person who wants to keep a journal, but struggles with sustaining it, right?

So I got on my coat and scarf, because Winnipeg’s winter is on the way, and walked to my neighbourhood library branch. I found out what area these books are in (the non-fiction 808.066 section) and started browsing the shelves. I was quite surprised by the options!

 

The big question that I needed answered was: why would I want to journal when our life is so busy? Well, Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling by Katie Dalebout talks about how journaling is a great tool for change, clearing your mind, and helping you to get “unstuck”. Similarly, Keeping a Journal You Love by Sheila Bender and Note to Self by Samara O’Shea talk about how journaling is great for self-expression and also helps you focus on the moments in life that beg further exploration. All three books also provided many exercises, prompts, and techniques to use to get started. Nice!

I also needed to find a way to reduce my self-induced pressure to write a page a day. (This is a biggie!) This quote from Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal: The Art of Transforming a Life into Stories by Alexandra Johnson gave me some much needed perspective.

Who knew that our kitchen calendar that is chock full of writing was “silently recording the heroic of the everyday”? I felt hope and pride start to well up inside of me.

But there was one final thing that I needed to know: can I take a different approach to journaling? That’s when I found Start Journaling: An Art Journaling Workbook by Kristy Conlin. It focuses on the visual journal that combines images with words. Add paint! Add collage! With this approach, I can blend writing with colours and images. I can get creative! How cool is that? Another book that shared the visual approach was Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures by Cathy Johnson.

So I left the library feeling like a weight had been lifted. Gone is my image of the journal as a book with a little lock and key and the feeling of pressure that I need to fill at least one page a day. Nuh-uh – times. have. changed! I’m feeling really good about this. And even better, I already have some ideas for when I write/draw in my journal tomorrow…

Reegan

Think Big Thoughts

Up here on the fourth floor of the Millennium Library we’re having fun finding books about philosophy – including the philosophy of…just about anything!  Come join us to see what we have on show or let your mind wander through some of the titles below.

The Story of Philosophy
by Bryan Magee

“The Story of Philosophy, Revised and Updated gives you the information you need to think about life’s greatest questions, opening up the world of philosophical ideas in a way that can be easily understood by students and by anyone fascinated by the ways we form our social, political, and ethical ideas.”

What Philosophy Can Do
by Gary Gutting

“How can we have meaningful debates with political opponents? How can we distinguish reliable science from over-hyped media reports? How can we talk sensibly about God? In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting takes a philosopher’s scalpel to modern life’s biggest questions and the most powerful forces in our society–politics, science, religion, education, and capitalism–to show how we can improve our discussions of contentious contemporary issues.”

Tsawalk: A  Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview
by Richard Atleo

“In Tsawalk, hereditary chief Umeek develops a theory of “Tsawalk,” meaning “one,” that views the nature of existence as an integrated and orderly whole, and thereby recognizes the intrinsic relationship between the physical and spiritual. Umeek demonstrates how Tsawalk provides a viable theoretical alternative that both complements and expands the view of reality presented by Western science. Tsawalk, he argues, allows both Western and indigenous views to be combined in order to advance our understanding of the universe.”

A Philosophy of Walking
by Frédéric Gros

“In A Philosophy of Walking , leading thinker Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B – the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble – and reveals what they say about us.”

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy
by Michael Patton and Kevin Cannon

“In The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy, Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon introduce us to the grand tradition of examined living. With the wisecracking Heraclitus as our guide, we travel down the winding river of philosophy, meeting influential thinkers from nearly three millennia of Western thought and witnessing great debates over everything from ethics to the concept of the self to the nature of reality.”

-Monique

 

Fall is full of great titles!

My main responsibility as a collections librarian is to buy adult nonfiction for Winnipeg Public Library’s 20 branches. Publishers release catalogues of forthcoming titles three times a year: winter, spring/summer and fall. This year’s fall catalogue is chocked full with great titles that will be released just in time to spend time reading a good book before the hustle and bustle of the winter holidays.

Below is a brief list of titles accompanied by the publisher’s annotations that I’m looking forward to reading the most this fall.

Bollywood KitchenBollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films by Sri Rao

Indian cuisine and Indian cinema (known as Bollywood) share much in common – bold colors and flavors with plenty of drama. But to the uninitiated, they can seem dizzying. Let Sri Rao be your guide. As one of the only Americans working in Bollywood, Sri is an expert on Indian musical films, and as an avid cook, he’s taken his mom’s authentic, home-cooked recipes and adapted them for the modern, American kitchen.

In this book you’ll find dinner menus and brunch menus, menus for kids and menus for cocktail parties. Along with each healthy and easy-to-prepare meal, Sri has paired one of his favorite Bollywood movies. Every one of these films is a musical, packed with dazzling song-and-dance numbers that are the hallmark of Bollywood, beloved by millions of fans all over the world. Sri will introduce each film to you, explaining why you’ll love it, and letting you in on some juicy morsels from behind the scenes.

 

BookshopsBookshops: A Reader’s History by Jorge Carrión and translated by Peter Bush

Jorge Carrión collects bookshops: from Gotham Book Mart and the Strand Bookstore in New York City to City Lights Bookshop and Green Apple Books in San Francisco and all the bright spots in between (Prairie Lights, Tattered Cover, and countless others). In this thought-provoking, vivid, and entertaining essay, Carrión meditates on the importance of the bookshop as a cultural and intellectual space. Filled with anecdotes from the histories of some of the famous (and not-so-famous) shops he visits on his travels, thoughtful considerations of challenges faced by bookstores, and fascinating digressions on their political and social impact, Bookshops is both a manifesto and a love letter to these spaces that transform readers’ lives.

 

godGod by Reza Aslan

A fascinating account of religion’s origin and a call to embrace a deeper, more expansive understanding of the divine from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot.

More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more peaceful, universal spirituality unencumbered by the urge to foist our human characteristics upon the divine. Whether you believe in one God or many gods or no god at all, God: A Human History will transform the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.

 

Inner Life

The Inner Life of Animals Love, Grief, and Compassion — Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohlleben

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben’s personal experiences in forests and fields.

Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us—and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.

 

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The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

The River of Consciousness reflects Oliver Sacks at his wisest and most humane, as he examines some of the human animal’s most remarkable faculties: memory, creativity, consciousness, and our present, ongoing evolution.

Before his death, Sacks personally collected into this one volume his recent essays, never before published in book form, which he felt best displayed his passionate engagement with his most compelling and seminal ideas. The book, lucid and accessible as ever, is a mirror of his own consciousness, discovering in his personal and humane interactions with others, unique insight, and fresh meaning.

  • Phil

For Science!

disappearingspoon.jpgThere’s a misconception that some carry around after tossing their graduation caps and cleaning out their high school lockers that reading about science is boring. And while, yes, the subject matter in the wrong hands can be tedious and dull, some of the best stories come out of scientific serendipity, odd foot notes, and tangential study. One of my favourite genres to read is what some refer to as “cocktail-party science”. Likely, this is intended as a disparaging remark, conjuring up a vision of a 1960s affair where the ladies have long drapey silk scarves that they toss about saying, “Psshaw, science! I don’t even know the meaning of the word!” and the men all have oddly tight-fitting suits and giant cigars stuffed into the corners of their mouths as they guffaw themselves into a thick cloud of smoke.

So, here’s a short (hah!) list of some of my favourite nonfiction (science) authors and titles; the ones that will have you bothering those in your immediate vicinity with bursts of, “Did you know…?” and, “Listen to this…” until they sigh heavily, gather up their things, and find somewhere else to sit/work/live:

violiniststhumb.jpgSam Kean: Look, I’m not even going to pretend that this whole blog post wasn’t initially a thinly veiled love letter to Sam Kean’s writing. He tops out all my lists of accessible, fun to read nonfiction, exploding with facts that I have to read aloud to my cat because my husband has had, in his words, “enough, already”. Kean’s first book, The Disappearing Spoon, covers the curiosities of the periodic table (stay with me), his later books delve into genetics (The Violinist’s Thumb), neuroscience (The Case of the Dueling Neurosurgeons), and coming out this July a title about the most captivating topic of all: air! (Caesar’s Last Breath).

 

 

packingformars.jpgPacking for Mars by Mary Roach. Mary Roach is another science journalist who grabs onto a subject and shakes it until all the fun stuff falls out. She then slams that fun stuff between book covers and makes a million dollars*. If you’re not interested in the details, dangers, and possibilities of space travel, Roach has also covered the topics of digestion (Guts), the alimentary canal more generally (Gulp), sex (Bonk), human cadavers (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), and, most recently, the history of warfare (Grunt).

 

workingstiff.jpgIf the word “cadavers” up there sparked your interest, you should also check out Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Judy Melinek. This title follows Dr. Melinek’s years working as a forensic pathologist (she started her training in New York City just two months prior to September 2001), as well as countless bizarre and fascinating cases of investigating and determining cause of death.

smokegetsinyoureyes.jpgCover image for Curtains : adventures of an undertaker-in-trainingIf you’ll permit me to stretch this macabre topic a little further: there’ve also been a few books written about those trying out employment at crematoriums and funeral homes. Try out The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, and Curtains: Adventures in Undertaking by Tom Jokinen which takes place at a local Winnipeg funeral home.

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Okay, let’s lighten things up a bit with a little ornithology: The Thing with Feathers: the surprising lives of birds and what they reveal about being human by Noah K. Strycker. If you’ve ever wanted to cross the threshold into the realm of bird journalism, you’ve found your entry point. It’s a thoroughly engaging, almost poetic look at the lives of our winged friends. But, caveat lector: this one comes with a high likelihood of bombarding those around you with factoids aplenty.

 

wickedplants.jpgWickedbugs.jpg drunkenbotanist.jpg

Want something lighter still? Amy Stewart covers the understated and quietly terrifying world of both plants (Wicked Plants) and bugs (you guessed it, Wicked Bugs). If you’re interested in never taking another hike without incessantly glancing around as though the whole world was trying to take you out, these are books you’ll want to devour. If you’d rather examine plants for their more useful qualities, try Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist for how to incorporate your yard/park/local plant conservatory (don’t try that last one, it probably won’t end well) into your next nightcap.

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If bugs aren’t small enough for you, I suggest you try I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. Yong examines the world of microbes and their critical importance for all life on earth, both large and small. Thoroughly readable, this study of all the microscopic beings that take up residence in and on our bodies will have you rethinking the concept of ever being truly alone.

 

asapscience.jpgLastly (because I have to stop this rambling at some point), for those who may “psshaw” their way through a discussion of scientific merit, take a peek within the pages of ASAP Science: answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors & unexplained phenomena by M. Moffit and G. Brown. With a title like that, I’m sure it needs further explanation. Based on the successful YouTube channel (AsapSCIENCE), this book covers important topics like if your eyeballs could really fly out of your head when you sneeze and why we tend to hate photos of ourselves, all while using science! It’s also filled with cartoony illustrations to help break up all those darn words. For an ever-so-slightly more sophisticated mash-up of science and graphics, you simply must get your hands on The Infographic Guide to Science by Tom Cabot which is pretty much a never ending picture playground for nerds. It’s chock-full of brightly coloured and immaculately designed infographics starting with the Big Bang and concluding with Artificial Intelligence which, if Hollywood has taught me anything, is truly where we will all meet our end.

I guarantee** if you get a few of these titles under your belt you’ll have ample fodder for your next cocktail party. Would you pick up a science nonfiction title the next time you pop into the library? Have a favourite title I missed? What should I read next? These are all engaging questions.

For Science!

Laura

*This may be both a gross oversimplification and exaggeration

**absolutely not a real guarantee

The Legacy of Wonder Woman

The new Wonder Woman movie comes out this weekend, and I have very high hopes that a female superhero movie will finally be up to snuff with the movies from the Marvel cinematic universe as well as some of the DC movies. The film features some fantastic and strong actors such as Robin Wright, Gal Gadot, and Connie Nielsen, just to name a few, and was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins; therefore it should hopefully pass the Bechdel test.

In the past, studios seemed to be reluctant to create action films with strong female leads and about female superheroes, whether due to the fact that  Catwoman with Halle Barry did not do well (which I don’t believe was Halle Barry’s fault) or their belief that female superheroes don’t attract a large audience. It does seem that Hollywood is hearing the outcry of fans who want a strong female lead in action movies, with the most recent two Star Wars films featuring such heroines, Supergirl on the small screen and now Wonder Woman. This gives me hope that they might finally make a Black Widow movie, or that the Captain Marvel movie which was recently announced will be just as good as many of the Marvel films.

The library has plenty of graphic novels that cover all your favourite female superheroes, as well as some heroines who may not be categorized as superheroes but still possess some pretty awesome powers and abilities.

Catwoman

catwoman

Depicted sometimes as a villain, sometimes an ally and sometimes a love interest for Batman, Catwoman wears many different suits. A woman who goes by her own moral code and one protects those closest to her, she makes for an interesting female character and, naturally, has her own set of graphic novels and is featured in Batman graphic novels as well. Check them out at the library, they’re purrfect!

Supergirl

supergirl

Superman’s “super” cousin has come to the small screen with great success. You can read more of her adventures in these graphic novels where, unlike Superman, she came to earth as a teenager and must navigate *gulp* high school and all the difficulties that go along with it while learning how to use and control her powers.

The X-Men with Jean Grey and Storm

jeangrey    storm

We may not have many stand-alone volumes of Jean Grey and Storm, both members of the X-Men, but we do have some great graphic novels with both of these characters who possess some pretty incredible abilities such as reading minds and telekinesis or controlling the weather. The X-Men series features many more strong female characters and superheroes that I couldn’t possibly list all of here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy

Though Buffy may not be your typical superhero, she was created by Joss Whedon, director of two of the amazing Avengers films. She fights off demons, vampires and any other crazy supernatural beings that come to Sunnydale and endanger the citizens of her town. The series also includes other strong female characters such as Willow, Buffy’s best friend and Tara, Willow’s friend and eventual love interest. The TV series was absolutely fantastic, and the graphic novels offer a nice fix for those of you missing Buffy Summers on your TV screen.

Anita Blake

anitablake

Originally written as a novel, the first few books in Laurell K. Hamilton’s series have been made into graphic novels and feature, similar to Buffy, a vampire hunter who is also a hired detective and an animator, one who raises the dead to help families say goodbye. The characters are wonderful and the world-building excellent, check out the graphic novel and/or the novels, both available through the library.

 

Wonder Woman

wonderwoman

I can’t do a Wonder Woman movie blog without also talking about the Wonder Woman comics, of which the library has tons! Diana Prince’s adventures on her own as well as with other Justice League members make for fantastic reading and excellent preparation and background research before the movie comes out!

 

 

And check out this new release:

wonderwoman2

Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Warrior by Landry Q. Walker contains all the facts, history and information on the long-lived legacy of Diana Prince.

This list is certainly not exhaustive! There are plenty of other great female heroes out there; let me know your favourites in the comments below.

Fingers crossed Wonder Woman lives up to the hype. I’m seeing it in AVX this weekend and I sure hope it’s good–if not, I’ll just keep hoping for a Black Widow movie…

Aileen

Letting Go

Summer is finally on its way! As I write this the trees outside are greening up and we’ve finally gotten around to packing away the last of the winter wear.  This time of year is also when many of us start thinking about how we can tidy up and lighten up our living spaces.  We got a bit of a start recently at our house as we swept a winter’s worth of dust out of the gazebo and I at least began to think about finally going through the couple hundred old CDs that still take up space in our living room.

The spring and summer months are also a great time to start on projects, whether those be around the house, in the yard or even tuning up a car. For great websites, information and book suggestions for all those topics and more, check out our DIY Home, Garden & Auto Repair Info Guide.

Need some inspiration to kickstart your decluttering? We’ve got you covered there too.

The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi

 

 

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time by Erin Rooney Doland

 

 

Pretty and Organized: Clutter-free with 30 Easy-to-Make Decorative Storage Ideas for Every Room in Your Home by Jane Hughes

 

 

Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking, Discover New Habits, Free Your Home by Joshua Becker

 

 

And, of course, titles from the most recent Queen of Decluttering – Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.

Need even more inspiration?  Find dozens more titles here.

Monique

How Do We Retire With Dignity?

After 30 years of working in administrative support at Winnipeg Public Library – mostly as a desktop publisher and marketing assistant – I am retiring at the end of June. Immediately upon deciding I felt a wave of sadness for having to say goodbye to my co-workers (who have been great to work alongside) and tasks like making posters or web pages that sing or taking photos for our newsletter that make others smile. I also felt relief like an untied balloon finally able to (slowly) lose its long-stored air. I could mentally begin to let go of work responsibilities which always tended to weigh on me. There was also a refreshing note of expectation as I began to anticipate new rhythms, including more time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. (Perhaps more reflective writing, cooking and gardening?)

But how do we retire with dignity and not a ton of regret? I’m not entirely sure. I haven’t navigated this transition before so I am by no means an expert. It’s likely a different challenge and experience for each individual, but I have noticed there are a lot of library resources right here that can help with the process. What a privilege it is to be part of a library that serves so many in so many meaningful ways!

There are self-help books that help you to think financially smarter about retirement or how to set goals and a bucket list for a more ‘fulfilling’ next life chapter. The ‘Parachute’ series is one such resource.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-18-at-12.32.06-PM.pngWhat Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement by John E. Nelson

“Today’s economic realities have reset our expectations of what retirement is, yet there’s still the promise for what it can be: a life stage filled with more freedom and potential then ever…What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirement offers both a holistic, big picture look at these years as well as practical tools and exercises to help you build a life full of security, vitality, and community.” (Publisher summary)

 

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How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski

“The key to achieving an active and satisfying retirement involves a great deal more than having adequate financial resources; it also encompasses all other aspects of life–interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits, physical well-being, mental well-being, and solid social support.” (Publisher summary)

I’m imagining retirement as a transition into something less definable than ‘fading gently into the sunset’. Maybe it’s time to take stock of my life and its many mistakes and learn from them as best I can. How can I be of service to others when I don’t have a 9-4:30 job anymore? How can I work on neglected parts of my life with hope and not give in to despair? After all the external labels like ‘Library Marketing Assistant’ are stripped from me, who am I anyways? Somehow I think reflective books as well as works of fiction and movies might be the ticket for me, and maybe for others too.

Here are just a few alternatives for those dreaming about retirement, or who are about to go down this hopeful yet scary path into the unknown with me:

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This perhaps is a movie and a book about how not to retire, a cautionary tale about leaving your job in bitterness!

” …Fredrik Backman’s heartwarming debut is a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step… At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.
But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible….”

aboutschmidt.jpg
About Schmidt directed by Alexander Payne

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Louis Begley, this fascinating movie is about self-discovery of a very ordinary person:

“Warren Schmidt is a retired insurance salesman, who at age 66 has no particular plans other than to drive around in the motor home his wife insisted they buy. He’s not altogether bitter, but not happy either, as everything his wife does annoys him, and he disapproves of the man his daughter is about to marry. When his wife suddenly dies, he sets out to postpone the imminent marriage of his daughter to a man he doesn’t like, while coping with discoveries about his late wife and himself in the process.” (rottentomates.com summary)

index-2.aspx.jpegFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr

“In Falling Upward, Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up.’ Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as ‘falling upward.’ In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens and loss is gain. This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.” (Publisher summary)

I imagine I concur. Retirement will not be much of anything unless I’ve learned – or am learning – at least from some of the mistakes from my ‘first half of life’.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This is a quirky yet lovable book about a recently retired man who decides to make profound changes to his predictable life. His long-suffering wife is surprised when he decides to walk 500 miles in an attempt to save a dying work colleague. “It’s the proverbial case of a man going out to mail a letter and never coming home.” (Publisher quote)

Think ‘Forrest Gump’ for the middle-aged. I have an affinity for this book since I took a walking tour of England last summer, but not for 500 miles! Walking I find is a great metaphor for exploring outer and inner worlds at the same time.

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Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Ann Lamott

“…Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by ‘facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.’ It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere — ‘within us and outside us, all around us’, and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as ‘kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.” (Publisher summary)

Wow. That’s a lot to learn, but I do have the rest of my life. I guess we all do.

Au revoir!

  • Lyle

 

 

Walk or I’ll punch you.

On a frantic October morning, I had one second of inattention and fell down a flight of stairs which resulted in a snapped 5th metatarsal and a chipped ankle. I ended up in a cast and spent the entire month of November looking out my front window. With the beautiful weather, cyclists abounded, the neighbours walked their dogs, children played. Stuck with only the fish for company, I sat, seething inwardly. With nothing to watch on T.V. but the American election, I started knitting pussy hats. And thinking…

About death…I hate to break this to you but we are all terminal. And since April is Cancer Awareness Month, here are your chances: 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes; 1 in 4 will die of the disease…let that hit you…I’ll wait…Truth is we all know someone who has been affected. Looking around Winnipeg, many of our dearest friends have authored compelling books on the subject.

“I am the reason you walk. I created you so that you might walk this earth.”*

 

Reading Melanie Penner’s Our Hope Adventure feels like you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend. Melanie was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and when she was told that it was terminal, she wrote a blog which eventually became her legacy to her family. Although she struggled with how to accept losing all of the good in her life, she did so by taking her husband’s advice to count their blessings every day. She chose to keep focused on the gains she would achieve through her faith. She bravely told her story at many speaking engagements, using her voice to teach others about cancer and to share her absolute faith that God had a plan for her even though she faced such hardships. She challenged all of her followers “to tell someone you love what they mean to you and why you value them…..it has the power to change them and you”.

Born in Roseisle,  Melanie Penner moved to Winnipeg to pursue an Education degree. She was a teacher in the St-James School Division and member of the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church.  You can listen to her interview with Pastor Terry Janke about gains and losses (Phil 3:7 – 11). 

 

“I am the reason you walk. I gave you motivation so you would continue to walk even when the path became difficult, even seemingly impossible.”

 

As Wayne Tefs describes in Dead Man on a Bike, he was motivated to chase away his black thoughts by biking many of the world’s most beautiful cycle paths. He proclaims that a cancer diagnosis can be the best thing that ever happened to you because it gave him his “Punch in the Face” moment… Why ME? …Then comes the moment when you get “helicopter vision”. It is when you realize that all of your materialistic concerns are no longer important. He used his time on his bike to meditate about appreciating the Zen of menial tasks, of embracing love everywhere he found it and of taking solace in doing everything he could while he still had the time. He encourages his readers to be proactive; for him it was the key to well-being. Keep moving forward, keep riding, and most of all enjoy the scenery.

Wayne Tefs was born in St-Boniface, Manitoba and grew up in Northwestern Ontario. After moving to Winnipeg, he became head of the English at St-John’s Ravenscourt School. He was the co-founder of Turnstone Press and author of many articles, biographies and novels.

 

“I am the reason you walk. I animated you with that driving force called love, which compelled you to help others who had forgotten they were brothers and sisters to take steps back towards one another.”

 

In The Reason You Walk, Wab Kinew writes about how his life was also changed when his father, Tobasonakwut, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Seeking to heal their fractured relationship, Wab embarked on a journey to reconcile with his father. Tobasonakwut was a respected elected leader and a beloved traditional chief who endured a traumatic childhood in residential school. Together, they courageously attempted to repair their family bond. They did so by remembering the lessons of the Anishinaabe travelling song Nigosha anisha wenji-bimoseyan (I am the reason you walk). “We ought to recognize that our greatest battle is not with one another but with our pain, our problems and our flaws. To be hurt, yet forgive, to do wrong, but forgive yourself, to depart from this world leaving only love. This is the reason you walk”.

Wab Kinew was born in the Onigaming First Nation and is the associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. He is a member of Midewin and an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He is currently the MLA for Fort Rouge in Manitoba.

 

“And now, my son, as that journey comes to an end, I am the reason you walk,”

 

Dennis Maione’s What I Learned from Cancer is his journey through two bouts of colon cancer, both considered primary. Maione, with the help of friends he calls the “background bookworms”, discovered through persistent research that a particular strain of the Lynch syndrome happens to be prevalent in Manitoba’s Mennonite community. As a result, he is genetically predisposed to cancer and that his children may have inherited the same gene. And indeed, they discover that his son is affected. Even though he and his son live under the specter of cancer, they live life fully. Maione gives practical advice such as how to talk to doctors and how to organize your community around you. He encourages his readers to research their conditions, get tested regularly and never to lose hope.

Dennis Maione lives in Winnipeg and is a member of the Manitoba Writers Guild, the Creative Non-Fiction Collective Society, the Manitoba Storytelling Guild and the Writers’ Union of Canada. He maintains a website and blog here.

 

“For I am calling you home. Walk home with me on that everlasting road.”

 

If you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis, I encourage you to use your local librarian as a background bookworm. We excel at finding information. Be it cancer cookbooks, how to cope with grief or trying to reconcile with family, the library will find the resources you need. Can’t leave home? We have eBooks and audiobooks through OverDrive. Need a doctor? Look here. Every journey starts with putting one foot in front of the other, start walking!

6 months, 7 pussy hats and 1 Women’s March later, my foot is now considered healed. I wish I could say the same about the state of the world. All that sitting and thinking made me realize that I can do better. My injury was a blessing in the sense that it gave me a helicopter’s perspective of how important it is to be able to walk. I appreciate that so much more now. So, I will live in the moment. I will appreciate life. I will continue to read so that I may walk in other people’s shoes. I just had my Punch in the Face Moment (lite). When will you have yours?

In memory of Cyril Dufault.

-Colette

*This and the other similar quotes come from Wab Kinew’s book, The Reason You Walk.