A Mother’s Love: For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I was (unknowingly) seeking a book that dives into the powerful and complicated mother-son dynamic when my eyes landed on Mitch Albom’s For One More Day sitting idly on the library shelves. Something about the blurb featuring the quote “Every family is a ghost story…” captivated me.

For One More Day explores the story of a mother and a son and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This compact book packs a punch with what seemed like honest intentions on reconciling the hurt, love, and power dynamic over the decades within the Benetto family.For One More Day- bookspoils

I breezed through the first half, anticipating a reality-based retelling on mother-son connections, however, I was quickly given a lifetime movie in its place, when I was expecting something to hit as deeply as Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018. Charles “Chick” Benetto is too frustrating for his own good. Honestly, his mother opening her arms to him after he spits in her face so many times is what makes her a true hero; a mother. She even invented a whole new way to say ILY: “I love you every day!”
She worked her butt off to send him to college to become a mensch and all he does is run off to his daddy at the first glance. She makes the effort time and again to communicate, he brushes her off with an “I’m busy. Maybe next week.” He gives up on fulfilling her dream to see him with a college degree only to make his father happy (which he’ll never be) by chasing the big leagues. F R U S T R A T I N G.

“I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes.
“The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”
I could spend a lot of time talking about my life after baseball. But that pretty much says it.”

Speaking on frustration, the father is a piece of garbage. He never provided for them, or paid the basic alimony and living expenses after he up and left, and yet he stills perceives to live the best of both worlds, where he gets to slip in and out of Chick’s highlighted points in life. All he wants is to benefit himself by living vicariously through his son’s baseball career.

“Not surprisingly, my father faded with my athletic career.”

Another point: This also didn’t keep its full promise of delving into the mother-son dynamic when it focuses the majority of the story on unwrapping the mystery. So I cherished those chapters titled “Times My Mother Stood Up for Me” and “Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother” that showcase exactly what it is that I seek in this book: the complexity of family interactions and the details that make up our daily lives.For One More Day mother It blows wide open so many truths we hold out to be self-evident when it comes to parents and their kids and the impact they have on each other’s world.

“Sometimes your kids will say the nastiest things, won’t they, Rose? You want to ask, ‘Whose child is this?’”
Rose chuckled.
“But usually, they’re just in some kind of pain. They need to work it out.”
She shot me a look. “Remember, Charley. Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”
To hurt the way they hurt? Was that what I had done? Had I wanted to see on my mother’s face the rejection I felt from my father? Had my daughter done the same to me?”

This made me sit still till I let it fully sink in. There’s so much truth in the phrase “Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”

It’s stirring moments like these, simply, the small joys and frictions in life we tend to overlook over the years till they’re gone out of our grasp, that made this book shine over the bad.

Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.”

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Review: soft magic. by Upile Chisala

soft magic. is the debut collection of prose and poetry by Malawian writer, Upile Chisala. This book explores the self, joy, blackness, gender, matters of the heart, the experience of Diaspora, spirituality and most of all, how we survive. soft magic. is a shared healing journey.

I so crave that feeling poetry collections evoke in my reading experience, so stumbling across soft magic. was, well, magic.

I do have to note that the tiny amount of poems that feature aimless, filler poetry lines derailed the epic scope of the ones that shine so brightly. But I want to focus on those adoring pieces, mainly concerning love and knowing your self-worth.

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Life and death in the hands of the tongue.

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It was well worth reading through this whole collection just to reach this one poem.

As well as this great follow-up:

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I never tire of discovering well-written and memorable poetry collections and the featured pieces in soft magic. are one for the books.

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Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

“I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”― Joan Didion

I was in need of a Nonfiction read to compel me from the start when I came upon Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert starts off this very book by writing about a reclusive poet she’s passionate about (“I loved him dearly from a respectful distance”), and I became swept up in the accessible, talkative writing tone. It’s the classic case of ‘I should’ve been bored me but instead, I was fascinated.’ The author has an eye for telling stories and introducing people, as I noticed the further I read on.

I was officially won over when she exposed her earlier years riddled with fear. Unlike a lot of self-help books I read in the past, the author in here actually offered up a lot of specific advice and dared to venture into her easily scared childhood to give examples of things that petrified her, so that we could see that she wasn’t all talk and no show.

“My fear was a song with only one note—only one word, actually—and that word was “STOP!” My fear never had anything more interesting or subtle to offer than that one emphatic word, repeated at full volume on an endless loop: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!”
Which means that my fear always made predictably boring decisions, like a choose-your-own-ending book that always had the same ending: nothingness.
I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear. I figured out that everyone’s song of fear has exactly that same tedious lyric: “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!” True, the volume may vary from person to person, but the song itself never changes, because all of us humans were equipped with the same basic fear package when we were being knitted in our mothers’ wombs.”

Her honest and raw take on such a close topic to my heart made me bond with her.

And this fearsome line thrown at fear was utterly exquisite to read:

“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”

But I considered Big Magic a truly successful read for me when I was finally moved to open up a new document and release over 1K words in a sitting before I’d even finished reading. The author really has a way with words so that I can give “this creative endeavor my wholehearted effort.”

Also, her recalling the “exhilarating encounter between a human being and divine creative inspiration” by showing the story behind Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and her subtle connection to it was something else entirely.

“There’s no logical explanation for why this occurs. How can two people who have never heard of each other’s work both arrive at the same scientific conclusions at the same historical moment? Yet it happens more often than you might imagine. When the nineteenth-century Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai invented non-Euclidean geometry, his father urged him to publish his findings immediately, before someone else landed on the same idea, saying, “When the time is ripe for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

The kick in the butt I need because I keep thinking I have all the time in the world to write.

As well as this next passage that touches on putting her work out there and her subsequent rejection letters:

“I knew that nobody was ever going to knock on my apartment door and say, “We understand that a very talented unpublished young writer lives here, and we would like to help her advance her career.” No, I would have to announce myself, and so I did announce myself. Repeatedly. I remember having the distinct sense that I might never wear them down—those faceless, nameless guardians of the gate that I was tirelessly besieging. They might never give in to me. They might never let me in. It might never work.
It didn’t matter.”

“Recognizing this reality—that the reaction doesn’t belong to you—is the only sane way to create. ”

I will admit, however, that there were a couple of minor hindrances to my overall enjoyment of the book. It mostly turned out to be so when the advice wasn’t applicable to my current situation or when it was an argument already repeated numerous times before.

If anything, the most cherished lesson I took from Big Magic was to pay closer attention to all the noise in my head. Sometimes taking a step back and listening intuitively to my thought process was the solution to releasing myself from a burden. Simply put, the author reassured me to trust myself in “following the trail of curiosity”.

One of the most exciting moments, however, came when I finally found the mastermind behind one of my favorite sayings shared online that I couldn’t trace back. It goes as follows:

“Long ago, when I was in my insecure twenties, I met a clever, independent, creative, and powerful woman in her mid-seventies, who offered me a superb piece of life wisdom.
She said: “We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”

I’ve repeated this last line one too many times in the past year, so it was worth coming across this read just to make the connection!

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Big Magic, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!