Literacy and then some

I have recently given myself permission to read for pleasure again. This has been a long time coming. I have been elbow-deep in so many creative projects, with even more pressing things on my to-do list related to home maintenance, family obligations, and mundane tasks, that I had begun to view books as "time luxuries" I could not afford. On the contrary, it has been reiterated to me by multiple trusted sources that if I am to remain intellectually sharp and artistically inspired, I must not neglect the important personal growth that devotion to reading great authors' works affords.

That said, in the past thirty days I have gleaned inspiration from books by Twyla Tharp, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Diane Ackerman, Sarah Palin, Eugenia Price and Edith Wharton, among others. Turning toward women whose ideas and/or language mastery enrich my experience has proven to bring a sense of well-being and balance back into a formerly crowded and stressed existence. These women have aptly reminded me that life's beauty, simplicity and opportunities for growth are mine today, but only if I claim and cherish them. I also am choosing more and more how my time will be spent rather than defaulting to the work that piles up around me. Several years ago I gave up television entirely--I proudly state that I have not owned a TV since 2011 (the only time I miss having a TV is during the Olympics!) Freedom from the tyranny of TV has loosed so much time that I now spend practicing, writing, composing, or sharing quality time with my husband. The act of choosing to create something, or to finish something I have started, provides more of the sense of accomplishment and productivity I continually seek.

But I don't stop there. In addition to carving out time to read, I have proactively purchased Grammy-nominated albums that I found appealing and inspiring during the 2018 Grammy deliberation process. I have enjoyed listening to those for artistic reasons as well as for pure entertainment. Also, last summer I purchased a book of photographs at Brookgreen Gardens, which showcased the beautiful sculptures, landscapes and etched poems posted throughout that gorgeous property near Myrtle Beach, SC, and so I have been enjoying a refresher of last summer's vacation. My awareness about things that interest me has piqued: a book of Scottish poetry, a hyacinth in a flower shop, a set of hand-drawn note cards… and I have realized that the part of me that loves life is nurtured when I allow myself these simple indulgences. For too many years I deprived myself of everything that I could conceivably live without, but now I am finding joy in allowing that once-deprived girl to experience the gift of procuring something that sets her heart aflutter.

To my compatriots in this boat: may you discover the blessing of granting yourself simple pleasures--like reading classic literature (which increases your vocabulary, contentment, and general knowledge), taking creative excursions to museums, botanical gardens, and beaches, purchasing and listening to music by artists you admire and would like to support, and engaging in more self-nurturing activities. We live in a world that pulls us in a million distracting directions, and we are drawn into trances by technology that will not let us go. Imagine how creative and productive we all would be if more of our time were spent writing that book, practicing that aria, beginning that project, or finishing that long-awaited goal? You can do it. So can I. Success and triumph await.

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