Archive for Books

A Blessing

Looking for “inspiration” – a juicy tidbit to post this morning – I came across this blessing from someone who has inspired me deeply for many years, someone I (like so many others) hold dear to my heart; the late great John O’Donohue.

Here’s John’s blessing, taken from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong:

May you listen to your longing to be free.

May the frames of your belonging be large enough for the dreams of your soul.

May you arise each day with a voice of blessing

whispering in your heart that something good is going to happen to you.

May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.

May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

May you never place walls between the light and yourself.

May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt, fear, disappointment, and despair.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

May it be so, and to John’s beautiful blessing I add the collective prayer that we all “arise each day with a voice of blessing”, and recognize each other and all that lives as part of our sacred circle of belonging.

Moved by Mountains

Several months ago I received review copies of Tom Reed's two exquisite photography & text books, the hardback Granite Avatars of Patagonia (2009) and recently released paperback Moved by a Mountain: Inspiration from an Alpine View in Alaska (2013).

The idea was to review them for Gatherings, the online Ecopsychology journal I co-founded and have edited for most of the last decade.

Due to travel, work deadlines, and the ordinary extraordinary catastrophes and celebrations of everyday life, it's taken me all this time to finish the reviews. But I have to say that the books are both so stunning that I only hope the reviews do enough justice to their profound beauty that there will be a rush on orders when everyone wants their own copy for Christmas (and the author will forgive my tardy delivery). 
Anyway, I thought I'd include some of the images and links to my reviews here in the Beauty Dialogues as well, since Reed's search for the deeper meaning and purpose of beauty resonates so deeply with me and is what this blog is all about.

Speaking of which, here's Tom Reed at TedX in Homer Alaska, speaking on "Natural Beauty and Aesthetic Arrest".

Read my full reviews (including some wonderful quotes) of these fabulous inspiring books here (or just cut to the chase and buy your copies now – I guarantee you won't be disappointed):

Moved by a Mountain: Inspiration from an Alpine View in Alaska
My Review
Buy Now

The Granite Avatars of Patagonia
My Review
Buy Now

Invitation to Wonder

BookI'm reading the coolest book right now; it's called Invitation to Wonder: A Journey Through the Seasons, by Elizabeth Ayers.

Invitation to Wonder is a delightful meander on nature, cycles, metaphor and physicality, and touches on so many subjects you might not have otherwise connected. I'm just starting to read, but already finding it full of wonder and insight.

Talking about the mystery of birdsong, which apparently only male birds do (and only in the spring to attract a mate), Ayers says that because young birds learn their songs from their fathers, variations build up over the years to create disctinctive regional "dialects".

She says that bird-song is probably more individual artistic creation than species-specific expression, and goes on to report a fascinating biological fact:

"Experiments with zebra finches prove that birds actually rehearse their songs in sleep, using their dream time to hone a whole range of improvzations they'll implement come dawn."

Perhaps I find this fascinating partly because of how I too experience creativity in that liminal dream state. I often wake up with particularly pleasing phrasing for something I'm trying to write about, and Ayer's words make me wonder if I've been "rehearsing" the sounds and word patterns for the prose in my sleep. I know I also sometimes work out a design problem or find a particular shade of color I need for a painting when I'm dreaming, waking up with the answer as I surface into the new day… Isn't it interesting that we share this phenomenon with our bird relatives, too?

But what about you? I'm curious… do you ever work things out your dreams?

The Shape of Design

I get a lot of email communications, and most of them are fairly easy to delete, but one I almost always pay attention to is Very Short List, because it's full of really cool things and it's delivered in a concise and nicely laid out format.

Design-bookThe lastest issue of vsl featured this beautiful book by Frank Chimero. I'm probably the ideal target audience for an hook like this and I followed the link to find an elegant little website dedicated to the book, with a wonderful design sensibility, fancifully illustrated chapter headings, and a great story at its core.

Chimero raised the money to write the book through a campaign on Kickstarter. The disarmingly simple video he created to sell his idea to potential funders (who gave him a total of $112,159 towards the project) talks about the book being not only for designers, but for everyone who makes things. He says that's all of us, and that "The Future is Something You Make".

There's a video of him presenting at the 2011 Build Conference in Belfast, which is not short but what I watched of it was compelling and if the topic thrills you like it does me, it's probably well worth watching.

Of course I ordered the book (which is offered in both print and digital format), so I'll let you know if it's as great as his promotions for it are. I know I'm excited to find out!