Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Sweet Serenity of Books


The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


I'm discovering that living on your own involves a lot of trial and error.

Broke a knick-knack? Oh yeah, I've got super glue in my junk drawer! Hmmm, doesn't it harden right away? Since some is leaking out of the tube, I can just pick it off and throw it in the trash.

*one second later*

Nope, that stuff is definitely still wet and sticky.

*two seconds later*

Man, my fingers and thumbs are coated in glue...

*a minute or so later*

Google, here I come!

(Apparently warm water, soap, patience, and time work fine. I'm glue-free again!)

Made some popcorn on the stove (go me!). It's sort of burnt, but a little bit of melted butter should help. Hmmm, I don't really have super small bowls, but I could use this metal measuring cup, right? 

*about six or seven seconds later*

Stop the microwave! If that electrical spark is any indication, that probably wasn't one of my brighter moments.

(I quickly removed the metal measuring cup and transferred the butter to a small, microwave-safe cup.)

Yeah, some of these things I should have remembered or known from my previous twenty-three years of life. Honestly, I'm kind of scared to find out what other sort of silly (but important) things I've forgotten or never really thought about, LOL.

In all the stress of settling into a new place, working in a more-structured schedule, and figuring out how to do all the big and little things I need to do to get by, I've found a "sweet serenity" and cheer in my books.

The Art of Creative Living

My living/dining room is my "Thomas Kinkade Room." Thomas Kinkade painting, Thomas Kinkade tapestry, my grandparents' Thomas Kinkade clock, a Thomas Kinkade lighted church, and a couple of Thomas Kinkade books. On a whim, I decided to pick up one of them while I was eating breakfast. (Breakfast is awfully quiet when you're on your own, getting ready for work at seven in the morning.)

The Art of Creative Living...seems fitting for a writing/marketing job, right? I've only re-read a few chapters, and I'm not sure I completely agree with how everything is worded/presented, but still, I'm enjoying revisiting this one. The first section talks about solitude and finding a quiet place within yourself where you can both retreat when the stresses of life close in and also begin the creative process. I definitely agree that taking time to be still before God and even yourself is so crucial to having a good attitude and embracing creativity. I'm looking forward to diving a little more into this one - plus, I love seeing Thomas Kinkade paintings. I guess this book is my new breakfast companion. ;)

One of Us

One of my very favorite series when I was in elementary school was the "Disney Girls" series. I confess that I was only-so-slightly (or maybe a lot) obsessed. I loved the thought of being a Disney princess, and I loved the way the author brought a touch of that magic to the lives of everyday girls. From martial arts classes, to making a gingerbread "castle" for school, to going on a trip to Disney World, I adored following the group's adventures.

 Some of the books I've edited, written, or publicized, along with the Disney Girls series (on their sides) and my Bibles on my bookcase in my apartment. :)

Anyway, when I was packing for the big move, I decided to take this series off our "children's" shelf downstairs and bring them with me. And since I've moved in I re-read the first book, One of Us. There's something incredibly comforting about re-immersing yourself in childhood favorites and dreams. Funny enough, I'm back in a place where I could relate to being the "new girl" and making new friends. ;) The theme of belonging, of longing to be a part of something special, resonates with me even now. (The guest pastor at the church I visited today even gave a sermon on community - how important it is, and how we're built with a desire to be connected with God and with other people.)

I'm thinking that I'd like to re-read the rest of the series sometime...maybe sooner rather than later! So cute, and I just love all the adventures they have and how the stories of the princesses they love reflect in their lives.

A Snicker of Magic

Huge S/O to Kara from Flowers of Quiet Happiness for introducing me to my new lunch companion, A Snicker of Magic! She convinced me that this is a book well worth reading, and from what I can tell so far, she is so right.

I started this on my birthday back in June, but I'm only now getting farther into it. I decided to pull it up on my Kindle one lunch at work. Let me tell you, I'm in love. The simple but profound ideas shared in such creative ways... The cutest characters and display of magical realism... And the way words are woven together to present such warm and cozy and beautiful word pictures... It's really quite the fun read!

Here's a quote from the book (button from the author's Pinterest page):


Revisiting old book friends and making new ones brings this quote home for me. Yes, there is still magic in the air! I'm so grateful for the precious gifts of imagination, creativity, and words.

What books - old or new - have reminded you lately that "there is still magic in the air" or provided you with some much-needed serenity?

10 comments:

Courtney Phillips said...

Haha @ the metal in the microwave!

My favorite books to read growing up were The Babysitter's Club ones. My sisters owned nearly all of them, so they were passed on to me. Not sure where they are now.

Some days, I look to forward to moving out of my parents' house...then I remember how easily I can scare myself. I would be freaked out every night if I lived alone.

:)

Buckley Bergdorf said...

Aunt Amber,

Our Mom has days when she wishes for peace and quiet during breakfast! But I like to sit on her lap, Bogey tries to jump on the table and drink the milk in her cereal, and the girls are usually into something or another . . . She says our house is a zoo!

Soooo . . . are you sure you don't want some cats? We are a guarantee against having a peaceful breakfast . . . :D

Cindy V said...

Amber,

Some of this stuff may seem unfamiliar and there will be a big learning curve right now as you adjust to things in your new life . . . But, you're a quick learner and soon you'll get the important stuff figured out. Then you'll be enjoying your new adventure and having some fun along the way!

And well, life is always full of new things to learn, no matter where you are along the journey. That's just one of the great blessings God has given us -- the chance to grow and learn and become even better people!

Kara said...

Believe me, I *completely* understand about all the things you learn once you're out on your own! The worst so far? Having to smash a HUGE spider in my bathroom. *shudder* Seriously was as big as my hand. That's when I decided this grown up thing was for the birds. ;P

Take heart though! It can only get better from here. Right? :D

Thanks for the s/o! I'm so pleased that someone else I know is reading (and enjoying) this story! ...the way words are woven together to present such warm and cozy and beautiful word pictures... Love that. You described it perfectly!

When all other parts of your life are in chaotic change (a good change, but still), it's absolutely wonderful to have something comforting and unchanging (i.e. beloved stories). I completely understand that as well. I've done a lot of revisiting of old favorites in my moments of "why did I think this was a good idea again?". And childhood favorites are so nice to revisit. :)

Lovely post, Amber! I loved it. And I hope things keep on the upward swing for you! :)

Amber Stokes said...

Courtney,

I know, right?? I can't believe I did that. I think I knew it wasn't right, but I thought that a few seconds wouldn't hurt anything. :P

You know, I think I sort of recall that series... Looked it up on Google, and it looks/sounds kind of familiar! Not sure if I read them or not. Anywho, that's so cool that you and your sisters all got to enjoy the books. :)

LOL about scaring yourself! You know what scares me? Bills. Well, and spiders/bugs. And car issues. And having to be brave. :P

Oh, life! ;)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Buckley,

Hahaha, you sound like a troublemaker! Now that you mention all that, maybe it *is* really nice having a quiet breakfast. ;)

I do really miss Mr. Murphy and Muffin Man, craziness and all. Unfortunately, we can't have cats here. :( (Not that it would have been good to bring either cat with me...but still.) There are some stray cats around here, though, so at least I still get to see cats. ;) And hopefully I'll get to visit M & M on occasion when I go home for holidays and such!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

Your belief in me and your encouragement mean so much! You're the best, "Aunt" Cindy! :)

It's so true that there will always be new things to learn, and that the ability to grow (and the experience of it) is a blessing. Thank you for the reminder!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

I so appreciate your understanding! Thank you for walking this path before me and sending some encouragement my way. :) I hope things are going well for you!

EEEEK about the spider! Ick, ick, ick! There were quite a few spiders outside my apartment door, but my mom sprayed some spider stuff, and I do have some peppermint extract that I can use to make a solution to spray around if I start seeing too many inside. I am NOT a fan of spiders...or any bugs, really. :P

Yes, I'm so glad you introduced me to A Snicker of Magic! I'm getting close to the end now, and it's such a sweet story. But I love the way the magical realism is done... It's just so accepted among the characters - out there, but familiar at the same time. :) And isn't there a quote about books being the best kind of magic? Well, and then there's Shrek the Third, where Merlin says, "How about a hug? That's the best kind of magic." I can just picture him in his knee-length robe and socks with sandals, LOL.

Anyway, I didn't fully appreciate all you went through in the last months/year until now, when I'm starting to experience it, myself. I'm grateful for your understanding. :) And I get it now - the comfort of children's books, which you had been talking about! It's sort of hitting home for me more, now, and I'm glad for old and new favorite books. :)

~Amber

Ganise C. said...

Love reminding myself of the beautiful experience I had through literature throughout the years.

Lovely post, Amber!

Hope everything is well with you.

I wanted to also invite you to my new blog. Please feel free to drop by anytime and to leave as many comments as you want -- EVERYONE is welcome to do so as a matter of fact :-)

http://revesbleus.blogspot.ca/

Amber Stokes said...

Ganise,

Yes - a good thing to remember, isn't it? In the book I'm currently reading (Thorn by Intisar Khanani), there's a scene where the heroine mentions that she misses her books back at home...but then, she appreciates the time she has now to dwell on the things she learned from them. I liked that thought. :)

Anyway, so glad you enjoyed the post - and YAY about your new blog! That's awesome that you've returned to blogging, my friend. :) Thank you for sharing the link - lookin' good!

I'm doing pretty well... Just got to beat the heat and try to be more productive outside of work on my writing and blogging and whatnot. ;) Hope you are doing well, too!

~Amber