Be Here Now

 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” ~Eckhart Tolle

 

Now more than ever it seems that life is ridiculously busy.  The evolution of technology which was intended to make life easier has instead created more problems and accelerated the pace of our lives to a ridiculous, unsustainable velocity.  Just listen to someone yelling at Siri if you don’t believe me. We’ve gotten so advanced that we’re de-evolving in some ways. Instead of using the prefrontal cortex of our brains, which manages planning, emotional reactions and solving problems we’re in a continual state of overdrive on the amygdalla, which governs our fight or flight reactions and our sense of fear.

In the midst of all of this sound and fury seeking tranquility and calm can feel like another source of stress. Finding the perfect time and place to contemplate life is a very tall order, but meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting in the lotus position in an empty room for hours at a time. Meditative practices can be done anytime and anywhere, and the benefits are immediate and amazing.

 

Wherever You Go There You Are   wherever

Each chapter of this book offers a new insight into ways to bring more mindfulness and relaxation into everyday life, even when you’re washing dishes or driving to work. The mindfulness practices Jon Kabat-Zinn  writes about are easy and accessible techniques to bring a little meditation into your daily routine. With a little practice, it becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth, and can have as many health benefits.

 

Taming the Drunken Monkey           taming

Not only does this book have one of the top 10 non fiction book titles of all time (it’s number 8 on my list) it contains an intriguing mix of  Eastern medicine, Western therapies and ancient teachings. William Miklaus has brought these concepts together in a way that speaks to someone looking for physical benefits as well as to someone in search of a more creative way of living.

 

When Things Fall Apart         when

Pema Chordron is the first American woman to become a fully ordained Buddhist monk. She has written numerous books, and is the director of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. This is a book to be read slowly and in stages, in order to begin to absorb the teachings. I found myself with more questions than answers by the end, but surprisingly it wasn’t frustrating, more like walking through a narrow gap in a hedge to find more beautiful gardens to explore.

 

A Boy Named Queen     

If you’re not looking to contemplate, but still feel flooded and overwhelmed, try checking out A Boy Named Queen. In this children’s book,  Queen teaches a classmate a great lesson about filtering out the cruel words of their schoolmates. Sara Cassidy wrote this book for children, but the message  works just as well for adults who need to take a step back from all of the unwanted input that is constantly bombarding us.

Even if just reading the word meditation immediately fills you with fear and loathing, you can still find some measure of calm and centeredness in our super saturated, super speedy world. Just take a moment, take a breath, and be here now.

-Lori

 

 

 

The Business of War: The Canadian Home Front in the First World War

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The Winnipeg Public Library is hosting a new traveling exhibit created by the Canadian Centre for the Great War open to the general public at the Millennium Library.  The exhibit “The Business of War: Canadian Businesses and the First World War” is located on the 4th floor and is about Canada’s wartime mobilization on the home front. Its panels explore how Canadian businesses large and small aided the war effort by supplying goods and helping to lift people’s spirits and raise money in order to keep support our troops and the overall Allied cause.  While warfare throughout the ages always required soldiers fighting on battlefields, the First World War also came to require of Canadians an unprecedented mobilization of all their resources and that is where the term “home front” was coined.  Library materials related to the exhibit are displayed as well so you can further your knowledge about this topic.

Image result for The Great War and Canadian Society: An Oral History  Cover image for Hometown horizons : local responses to Canada's Great War

One of the library’s older (published in 1978) but valuable title that is filled with personal accounts of this time period is The Great War and Canadian Society: An Oral History.  The book was written when Canadians who had lived through that time were still able to provide a living link to our history and the testimonies included come from people from all walks of life, ages, and locations.  I definitely recommend it for those interested in reading about men and women’s experiences in wartime Canada.
In Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War, historian Robert Rutherdale has chosen three Canadian towns (Lethbridge, Alberta, Guelph, Ontario, and Trois-Rivières, Quebec) in order to explore the local social history of the war, and how it affected these communities in different ways.  The demonizing of potential “enemy aliens” and other subversive forces is explored in Lethbridge as one internment camp was built there, as well as local citizens’ reactions to its presence.  The Conscription Crisis where efforts of Canadians to avoid being drafted resulted in aggressive raids to collect draft dodgers is explored in Guelph.  The rift that developed between returning veterans’ experiences on the front versus the second-hand and heavily censored portrayal made available on the home front is also explored, as well as the break with the past the war had on many aspects of life, notably on the role of women in the work force.
Cover image for Fight or pay : soldiers' families in the Great War
Desmond Morton’s book Fight or pay : soldiers’ families in the Great War is about those who were left to carry on when sons and husbands were sent overseas to fight and how the government’s early efforts to create a safety net were spurred by war’s traumatic impact on the home front. It’s often overlooked that the conflict ended up costing lives at home as well as the front as numerous families lost their main provider and had to rely on charity (such as the Patriotic Fund) and limited military pensions from Ottawa at a time where attitudes toward such support was quite negative.  It also heralded a new reality where both the state and private philanthropists were managing family decisions that had never been their business before.   This book will be of interest to those wanting to increase their understanding of the issues that faced the families and the fighting men in 1914-1918.

Cover image for Firing lines : three Canadian women write the First World War

Firing lines : three Canadian women write the First World War by Debbie Marshall is the story of three Canadian journalists who were present in both France and England during the pivotal events of the conflict and reported their personal observations in letters, articles and books.  Mary MacLeod Moore, a writer for Saturday Night magazine , covered the war’s impact on women, from the munitions factories to the kitchens of London’s tenements. Beatrice Nasmyth, a writer for the Vancouver Province, managed the successful wartime political campaign of Canadian Roberta MacAdams and attended the Versailles Peace Conference as Premier Arthur Sifton’s press secretary. Elizabeth Montizambert was in France during the war and witnessed the suffering of its people first-hand. She was often near the fighting, serving as a canteen worker and writing about her experiences for the Montreal Gazette.

Cover image for No free man : Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience
About 8,000 Canadian civilians were imprisoned during the First World War because of their ethnic ties to Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other enemy nations. Although not as well-known as the later internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, these incarcerations played a crucial role in shaping debates about Canadian citizenship, diversity, and loyalty and this is what No free man : Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience by Bohdan Kordan aims to demonstrate.  Re-settled in a network of government-run camps throughout Canada, they were forcibly mobilized in the war effort, most often in agriculture or lumber industries.  This is a valuable book about the dark side of our country’s war effort that remains as pertinent to our present world as then.
Come and check it out.
Louis-Philippe

Pride Began With a Riot

WPL Pride

Happy Pride everyone!  This year is the 30th anniversary of the pride parade in Winnipeg and its guaranteed to be a fabulous time.

Did you know that in the past authorities in the United States and Canada would regularly raid and shut down gay bars and arrest the staff and patrons?  On June 28, 1969, New York City a spontaneous riot happened at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. When police began arresting people  a crowd gathered and police had to barricade themselves inside the bar for most of the night.  Led by transgender activists like Sylvia Rivera – this was part of what sparked the gay rights movement and this is why Pride is held in June – to commemorate the demonstrations that took place that night.

Here are some great book available at WPL if you’d like to learn more:

Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution – by David Carter

Stonewall: Breaking out in the fight for gay rights – by Ann Bausum

Queer: a Graphic History – by Meg John Barker

A Queer history of the United States by Michael Bronski

Queer Street: rise and fall of an American culture 1947-1985 by James McCourt

Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada by Tom Warner

Queers Were Here

Queers were here : heroes & icons of queer Canada by Robin Ganev and RJ Gilmour

If you are interested in the history of LGBTTQ+ community in Winnipeg check out this great little documentary: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/absolutelycanadian/one-gay-city-a-history-of-lgbt-life-in-winnipeg-1.3607205

Go to Winnipeg Public Library’s LGBTTQ+ Info Guide for more archival and historical resources on the LGBTTQ+ community.

Winnipeg Public library staff will be out for 2017 Winnipeg Pride parade happening on Sunday, June 4th.

See you there!

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

Real Food for Families

Making healthy choices in the kitchen is essential to your family’s health.  And yet, society is struggling against a relentless storm of less and less home cooking….and more and more processed food.  Don’t give in, and do not follow suit.  Protect your family, and invest in a healthy lifestyle.

I’m a bit crazy about “real” food.  OK, a lot crazy about “real” food.  I love to cook, and I’m pretty obsessed about simple, natural, wholesome ingredients.  I wasn’t always so obsessed though.  Growing up, some of my favorite foods were Zoodles, Fruit Loops, Kraft Dinner, and (gasp!) Cheez Whiz on toast.  It wasn’t until I moved away from home, and started cooking my own meals, that I realized how great it feels to prepare and eat nutritious dishes that actually fuel my body.

Cut scene, enter two kids.  Suddenly, I was responsible for the well-being of two little munchkins, whose bodies were growing and thriving, based on the meals that I was putting in front of them.  Not only that, I felt a renewed sense of duty to be the healthiest possible “me” I could be, in order to ensure my own longevity and health as a mother.  I want to, not only, be able to keep up with my kids, but inspire them as time goes by.

But things get complicated with kids.  You see, cooking for two adults who get excited about, say….grilled eggplant, was easy.  Cooking for two kids under the age of 4?  Extremely challenging.  It’s the pickiness factor that is the most frustrating thing.  Trust me, I know.  Neither of my kids will eat chicken without peanut butter spread on it.  And every time one of them spits out the food I lovingly prepared (“yyyyuuuuuck”), it does hurt a little.  But in the end, I know that if I offer them healthy choices, they will not starve themselves.  And I will be teaching them an important lesson about food, and how it has the power to deliver a healthy life.

Creativity is key with kids.  And cooking is no different.  So when I’m looking for a little inspiration, I wander over to the cookbook section of the library, and take a few books home with me.  Below, you will find a few of my favorites, tried, tested and true:

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake
The creator of the 100 Days of Real Food blog draws from her hugely popular website to offer simple, affordable, family-friendly recipes and practical advice for eliminating processed foods from your family’s diet.

Inspired by Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, Lisa Leake decided her family’s eating habits needed an overhaul. She, her husband, and their two small girls pledged to go 100 days without eating highly processed or refined foods–a challenge she opened to readers on her blog.

Now, she shares their story, offering insights and cost-conscious recipes everyone can use to enjoy wholesome natural food–whole grains, fruits and vegetables, seafood, locally raised meats, natural juices, dried fruit, seeds, popcorn, natural honey, and more.

Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh and Easy Recipes by Catherine McCord
Every parent knows how difficult it is to get to get kids eating happily and healthily. Catherine McCord has the answer: Weelicious! Creator of the wildly popular blog Weelicious.com, Catherine, who honed her cooking skills at Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education, strongly believes in the “one family/one meal” idea–preparing a single, scrumptious meal the entire family can sit down and enjoy together rather than having to act as “short order cook” for kids who each want something different. In Weelicious, she offers dozens of recipes and tips for creating quick, easy, healthy, and fun food that moms, dads, and young children of any age will absolutely adore–from the most persnickety infants to the pickiest grade-schoolers.

The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes
We all know that kids need to eat right and get the nutrition they need to be their best all day long. So why not make lunches that will power their growing brains and bodies? Making lunches at home is a great way to keep your child healthy. Not only does it allow you to nourish your child with the most pure and wholesome ingredients, but it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing what has gone into every bite your little one takes. Full of recipes to suit every age and stage, The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet shows you how simple and easy it is to prepare food that’ll be the envy of the lunch table. The 200+ adorable and inspiring recipes in this book are just as much a joy to make as they are to eat! There are even entire lunchbox meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. Make your own super-delicious, super-nutritious homemade lunches today–it’s guaranteed to be at the top of the class!

Little Bento by Michele Olivier
Your challenge: Packing a healthy lunch for your picky little eater. Your solution: The bento box! Little Bento is your ultimate bento guide to planning, preparing, and assembling yummy, wholesome, easy bento box lunches that your kids will actually eat. Say “buh-bye” to the stress of getting your kids to eat, and “hello” to the deliciously simple bento box with:

Over 100 seasonally-inspired bento recipes and 32 photos of fully-assembled bento boxes for easy guidance Expert guidance from mom, food blogger, and bestselling author of Little Foodie, Michele Olivier, who shows you how to make balanced bento meals using the #1 selling kids’ lunch box A weekly bento meal planning worksheet with helpful tips for planning your bento lunches in advance Quick reference bento ingredient lists assist in making safe decisions for food sensitive or allergic eaters.

How to Feed a Family by Laura Keogh
What could be more important to parents than a healthy, well-fed family? As two urban, working moms, Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh learned quickly how challenging healthy meal-times can be. So they joined forces to create the Sweet Potato Chronicles, a website written for, and by, non-judgmental moms, packed full of nutritious recipes for families.

In the How to Feed a Family cookbook, Laura and Ceri have selected their very favorite recipes, to create a collection of more than 100 for all ages to enjoy. These are recipes that are tailored specifically to families: they are simple, fast, easy-to-follow, and use ingredients that are readily-available at your local grocery store. Ceri and Laura unveil their tried, tested and true tricks for turning nutritious, sophisticated dishes into kid-friendly masterpieces, that will guarantee you success at meal-time, time and time again.

~ Lindsay

 

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

Canadian SF & fantasy

This weekend is not only Victoria Day, traditionally the first long weekend of the summer, but also the 34th Keycon–Manitoba’s annual science fiction & fantasy convention.

This year their Guest of Honour is Canadian author Kelley Armstrong. She’s written more than forty books: fantasy, thrillers, and horror for teen and adult readers. WPL is pleased to host her at an author talk at 2 pm today (Friday, May 19) in the Carol Shields Auditorium on the 2nd floor of Millennium Library. Come say hello to  Kelley and discover more about her fictional worlds!

If you’re interested in checking out Keycon, it takes place at the Radisson Hotel May 19 to 21. For more information on special guests, programming, and more, check out their website.

Thinking about Keycon reminded me how many great science fiction and fantasy authors are Canadian, or have strong ties to this country. Here are just a few of them:

 William Gibson–although he was born in the U.S., he’s lived in Canada since 1967– envisioned the concept of cyberspace before it even existed, in his classic debut novel Neuromancer. His work has gradually evolved into near-future stories about the influence of technology and social media on society, which are often eerily accurate. As he pointed out in 2003, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

 Silvia Moren0-Garcia is a Mexican-Canadian fantasy writer and editor whose books place unsettlingly strange events in down-to-earth settings. In her latest novel, Certain Dark Things, Mexico City is an oasis in a sea of vampires, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay.

Nalo Hopkinson is another international author–born in Jamaica, she splits her time between California and Canada. Her award-winning novel Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto.

And there are many other Canadian SF & fantasy writers to try. If you enjoy military SF, check out Tanya Huff‘s Confederation series about space marines. Guy Gavriel Kay is famous for his historical fantasy; Robert Charles Wilson‘s mind-bending science fiction often plays with timelines; and Robert Sawyer writes fast-paced, classic SF adventure.

Don’t forget one of the quintessential Canadian authors, Margaret Atwood, either! Several of her classic novels–The Handmaid’s Tale, the MaddAddam trilogy–draw heavily on speculative themes and tropes, even if she claims that she doesn’t write science fiction.

On Victoria Day, hopefully the weather will be perfect to sit out in your backyard, at the neighbourhood park, or on the beach, and crack open a refreshing Canadian read.

Danielle

Queer Memoirs

I love reading memoirs because unlike fiction, you know as the reader this is the writer’s version of the events that happened in their lives.  It is the edited version of course, which makes it that much more intriguing. The authors have to ask themselves what they want to share and who they want to name and what details should remain quiet. The magic of queer memoirs is that these create narratives that give voice to LGBTTQ+ experiences.  Definitely not a new genre and there are so many authors to check out!  Audre Lorde, Alison Bechdel, Leslie Fienberg and Jeanette Winterson  have written autobiographies, and they are all available at Winnipeg Public Library!  Read on for some suggestions of recent memoirs that have caught my eye.

 

Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

This book is a quick, engaging read that contains some heavy content. It is a relatable coming of age story about Toronto-based activist/writer/artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha that details being broke, queer, and living with a disability in the 90’s, interspersed with the writers fraught relationship with her parents.

 

How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea

Speaking of coming of age stories, “How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea” is a memoir that focuses on becoming an adult. This title reads as a series of essays with advice for the reader. What I appreciated most about this book is the author’s honesty about how her path to “adulthood” has been a rather slow and twisty one, which I’m sure many of us can relate to.

 

A Two-Spirit Journey by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer

This book (technically an autobiography) details the amazing and very difficult events in the life of Ma-Nee Chacaby, an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian.  Chacaby discusses how she was taught traditional knowledge by her grandmother, learning to survive through trapping and hunting.  She also details her experiences with abuse, racism, addiction and poverty. Chacaby overcame these barriers, helping many people throughout her life including her own children and foster children. While not technically a memoir I had to put this item on the list as it is an incredibly inspiring book that has many gifts to offer potential readers.

 

My Body is Yours by Michael V. Smith

The first sentence of this book sets the tone – “I spent the first thirty years of my life trying to disappear”. Michael Smith grew up in a small town and did not fit into the strict understanding of gender and sexuality. His honesty in this memoir is striking, examining his life as a young queer person growing up in a working class town and not holding back all of the gritty details.

 

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir by Kate Bornstein

This is “the true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today.” Kate Bornstein has a writing style that will bring the reader in and keep engaged from the first page. Bornstein explores her gender transition journey and doesn’t shy away from a lot of facts about her life.  An honest and brave book recommended for anyone looking for a little inspiration.

 

Check out the LGBTTQ+ Info Guide for more books suggestions, new books, local resources and more.

Kim

Never Neverland Grows Up

Have you ever heard the saying “youth is wasted on the young”?

Hitting some of those milestones of adulthood (first time away from home, first credit card bill, first time burning dinner, first time making a doctor/dentist appointment) has really given me an appreciation for the carefree years of childhood.

During my teenage years, when all I really knew of adulthood was that I’d be able to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I so chose (full disclosure: I do this), I spent a lot of energy congratulating myself for being wise beyond my years, knowing I would ace this whole adulthood thing. Ah, nothing like the bratty confidence of youth! You know who else is bratty and youthful?

Peter Pan

I never paid much attention when I watched the animated Disney movie as a child, but as much as Peter can be seen as a loveable scamp, he is also a bit of a jerk.  The fact is though, that overconfidence and a disregard for the wellbeing of others are both fairly small concerns in comparison to some of the darker themes lurking beneath the layer of fairy dust that covers Neverland.

The tension between growing old or staying young forever and gaining wisdom or remaining ignorant drives the story of Peter Pan. Modern retellings explore this tension from different angles, adding new and interesting dimension to this classic children’s story, and I find myself more intrigued by the story of Neverland as an adult than I ever did as a child. I guess there really is something to this whole growing up business (beyond the bills and extra responsibilities, I mean).

Here are just a few of the new imaginings of J.M. Barrie’s immortal boy that you can find at the library. See for yourself what you think of the new Neverland!

Never Never by Brianna Shrum

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole.

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child-at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

When fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan deep in the forbidden woods of Neverland, the two form a bond that’s impossible to break, but also impossible to hold on to.  As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily.  However, when Wendy Darling, a girl who is everything Tiger Lily is not arrives on the island, Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.

Adding to the interest of this book is the fact that it’s told from the point of view of the very famous fairy, Tinkerbell herself.

Everland by Wendy Spinale

In this dystopian spin on the Peter Pan story, London is a ruin, destroyed by German bombs and ravaged by the Horologia virus. The Marauders of the ruthless Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer seize the children who are immune to the virus in the hope that their blood will produce a cure–their latest victim is sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling’s younger sister and Gwen will do anything to get her back, even join up with Pete and his gang of Lost Boys living in a city hidden underground.

Once Upon A Time

This TV series reimagines many of your favourite Disney characters, from Prince Charming and Snow White to Rumpelstiltskin and the Evil Queen. Binge watch enough episodes and you’ll meet Captain Hook and Peter Pan as well!

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Never Ever by Sara Saedi

On her seventeenth birthday, Wylie and her brothers are whisked away by the enigmatic Phinn to an island where teenagers never grow up. This could be Wylie’s dream come true, but mysterious disappearances make her expect that there’s more to life on the island than Phinn is telling her.

Are you a fan of retellings in general? If so, do you have a favourite? Or would you rather just read the original? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Happy reading,
Megan

 

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….”

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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