Tag Archives: novel

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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The Power of Now

The Power of Now is, to say the least, POWERFUL. Eckhart Tolle does a phenomenal job expressing the importance of the present and how it can change your life. Being in the Now is something I have tried to stress in some of my earlier blogs focusing on meditation and awareness. While meditation is one way to get there, through this book you will find that you can be in this moment every second of every day. Luckily for you, the audiobook is now free for 30 days from Audible.com. This company is affiliated with Amazon and you do have to check out with your information secured for after the trial ends. However, if you listen to it everyday, I promise you can finish it and end the renewal before it comes to bite you. If your still unsure about signing up, you can always head to your local library and find either the book or audio recording there. Anyways, I highly recommend it! Even though there is not much mention of addiction, you will find this book incredibly resourceful. Below is a review from the Audible website.” -Enjoy, Robyn

Review from Audible.com:

To make the journey into The Power of Now you need to leave your analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. Access to the Now is everywhere – in the body, the silence, and the space all around you. These are the keys to enter a state of inner peace. They can be used to bring you into the Now, the present moment, where problems do not exist. It is here you find your joy and are able to embrace your true self. It is here you discover that you are already complete and perfect.

Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language in a question and answer format. The words themselves are the signposts to guide you on your journey. There are new discoveries to be made along the way: you are not your mind, you can find your way out of psychological pain, authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now. When you become fully present and accepting of what is, you open yourself to the transforming experience of The Power of Now.

 

 

Must Read: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

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“Ever since I saw the series of Orange is the New Black on Netflix before I went to rehab, I had recommended it to all the girls I had met that had been in jail. After hearing their experiences of being locked up in prison for months or years, I knew this was something they could relate to. I find that when we can relate to something, we feel less alone, less of a need to isolate. Things of our past no longer seem so daunting. Instead they appear as experiences that have only made us stronger. Piper might not have been a heroin addict but in her time spent behind bars, she met many and could sympathize with most every woman she that came into her life during her year sentence. I found this book to be heartbreaking yet hilarious. Opening my eyes to a rock bottom I hope to never hit! Below is a summary and make sure you watch the series too, you won’t be disappointed!” -Love and light, Robyn

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In 1998, Piper Kerman was working as a freelance producer in New York City and living a peaceful life with her magazine editor boyfriend, Larry. When two police officers arrived at their door one morning, Kerman assumed it must have something to do with the apartment building. In fact, they were there to arrest her on conspiracy drug charges related to her role in a heroin trafficking ring several years earlier.

At the time of her arrest, Kerman’s family, friends and boyfriend had no idea about her criminal past. Despite their assurances that a “nice blond lady” would never do time, Kerman ultimately served eleven months at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a memoir ensued. The result is a perceptive, if imperfect inside look at our criminal justice system and the women who cycle through it.

Kerman begins by describing how, in 1992, she found herself a recent Smith College graduate from a good Boston family “with a thirst for bohemian counterculture and no clear plan.” She stuck around her college town waiting tables and soon began dating an older woman named Nora, who revealed on their first date that she was part of an international heroin trafficking network. While this disclosure may have prompted a “Check, please!” from your average gal, a young Kerman found it “exciting beyond belief.”

She spent the next four months traveling the world on heroin-smuggling missions with Nora and her crew: Hanging out in Bali beach clubs, wandering through Paris, and transporting drug money (but never actual drugs), before realizing that she was getting in too deep and breaking all ties. When Kerman reflects on this time, she seems unwilling or unable to explore her motivations, and more often resorts to describing her lifestyle in list form. A typical recollection: “We worked, we threw parties, we went skinny-dipping or sledding, we fucked, sometimes we fell in love. We got tattoos.”

In contrast, her depiction of arriving at the prison in 2004—saying goodbye to Larry, surrendering all her possessions—is poignant and thoroughly-rendered. If the author seems hard to relate to in her wild-child days, empathy abounds as she skillfully describes her sense of terror upon losing all freedom.

Contrary to her fears, most of her fellow inmates approach her with warmth and concern. Descriptions of their small acts of kindness are remarkably touching. When one woman shares a commissary root beer float that Kerman has not yet been approved to buy for herself, you feel so vicariously grateful that she may as well have given Kerman a kidney.

The author is soon showing newbies the ropes, helping her fellow inmates with schoolwork, and lending them books. (Unlike most women at Danbury, she receives a steady stream of mail and reading material from family and friends.)

She learns that prison life is sometimes brutal (guards sexually abuse inmates with impunity), often humiliating (the women are subject to strip searches at any time), and generally tedious. Still, deep friendships spring up; surrogate mother-daughter relationships are cultivated. The inmates throw birthday parties, complete with inspired microwave creations. (Kerman’s specialty is prison cheesecake. She supplies the recipe, which calls for a whole container of coffee creamer and nearly an entire bottle of lemon juice.)

Kerman excels at chronicling the other women and their struggles, from teenagers doing time for drug-related crimes to a 69-year-old nun in jail for trespassing as part of a peaceful protest at a missile silo. In one haunting scene, inmates are briefly reunited with their children for a field day—the separation afterward is brutal, and Kerman weeps. At another point, Kerman grieves over the fact that some inmates are actually afraid to leave prison because their neighborhoods are “more desperate and dangerous than jails.”

She is less successful at talking about herself. Occasionally, she opens up, and these moments are powerful. But, a public relations executive by trade, Kerman is often frustratingly careful, polite. She paints nearly everyone pretty rosily and without much nuance.

Everyone, that is, except “The Fed.” Interwoven with the women’s stories are facts about the War on Drugs, with which Kerman makes no effort to hide her anger and bafflement. While acknowledging her privileged background, Kerman never fully dispels the reader’s discomfort when she more or less conflates her own case with those of the majority of the women around her. Drug use has wreaked havoc on so many of their lives, a fact that ultimately makes Kerman aware of “the people who suffered because of what people like me had done.”

Though certain aspects of her own story never quite seem resolved, her sympathetic portraits of these people stay with you long after the book is through.

Summary from Chicago Tribune by J. Courtney Sullivan

Anatomy of Addiction (Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug; Cocaine) by Howard Markel

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“I’ve studied psychology in school (along with a slew of other random things!) and found Freud to be my favourite. Sure, he was the guy that talked all about sex but he was also the guy that talked about dreams and the ego. He was quite controversial in his day and I always found his work and depth of thought to be so intriguing and inspiring. Thats how I was first draw to this book while I was searching for informative novels on addiction. But as I read the description, I found that he had a similar problem as me. He was a coke addict!

This book takes place back in the day but was incredibly relatable and filled with, well, Anatomy of Addiction! Not all of people like these kinds of non-fiction but I have enjoyed it thus far and I am very excited to finish it!” -Love and light, Robyn

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From acclaimed medical historian Howard Markel, author of When Germs Travel, the astonishing account of the years-long cocaine use of Sigmund Freud, young, ambitious neurologist, and William Halsted, the equally young, pathfinding surgeon. Markel writes of the physical and emotional damage caused by the then-heralded wonder drug, and how each man ultimately changed the world in spite of it—or because of it. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery.

Both men were practicing medicine at the same time in the 1880s: Freud at the Vienna General Hospital, Halsted at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. Markel writes that Freud began to experiment with cocaine as a way of studying its therapeutic uses—as an antidote for the overprescribed morphine, which had made addicts of so many, and as a treatment for depression.

Halsted, an acclaimed surgeon even then, was curious about cocaine’s effectiveness as an anesthetic and injected the drug into his arm to prove his theory. Neither Freud nor Halsted, nor their colleagues, had any idea of the drug’s potential to dominate and endanger their lives. Addiction as a bona fide medical diagnosis didn’t even exist in the elite medical circles they inhabited.

In An Anatomy of Addiction, Markel writes about the life and work of each man, showing how each came to know about cocaine; how Freud found that the drug cured his indigestion, dulled his aches, and relieved his depression. The author writes that Freud, after a few months of taking the magical drug, published a treatise on it, Über Coca, in which he described his “most gorgeous excitement.” The paper marked a major shift in Freud’s work: he turned from studying the anatomy of the brain to exploring the human psyche.

Halsted, one of the most revered of American surgeons, became the head of surgery at the newly built Johns Hopkins Hospital and then professor of surgery, the hospital’s most exalted position, committing himself repeatedly to Butler Hospital, an insane asylum, to withdraw from his out-of control cocaine use.

Halsted invented modern surgery as we know it today: devising new ways to safely invade the body in search of cures and pioneering modern surgical techniques that controlled bleeding and promoted healing. He insisted on thorough hand washing, on scrub-downs and whites for doctors and nurses, on sterility in the operating room—even inventing the surgical glove, which he designed and had the Goodyear Rubber Company make for him—accomplishing all of this as he struggled to conquer his unyielding desire for cocaine.

An Anatomy of Addiction tells the tragic and heroic story of each man, accidentally struck down in his prime by an insidious malady: tragic because of the time, relationships, and health cocaine forced each to squander; heroic in the intense battle each man waged to overcome his affliction as he conquered his own world with his visionary healing gifts. Here is the full story, long overlooked, told in its rich historical context.

Take Six

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Here, she feels stable. Here, she has a fresh start. The scene is familiar but only from the years spent visiting her grandparents and wandering the streets that surrounded her with shopping centers full of chain supermarkets and restaurants. She remembers the only store that was remotely unique was called Twist Treat in the shape of a large swirl of pink ice cream in a giant kiddy cone. They always armed her with extra sprinkles on the side and she would dip her chocolate ice cream in the bowl to replenish the sweetness. She reminisces and digresses. She can’t escape the fact that she left behind her home three days ago. Twenty years of the same people, places and things made her feel nauseous. She had to leave, it was her only choice for sanity.

She walked around for miles, up and down the same streets. She drove around uptown, glancing at the little shops and old nooks she used to hang around. Tears rolled down her face but she couldn’t help but smile. This was depressing to think about– leaving her home– but she was so excited. This meant she was one step closer to independence. She had a plan. A master plan to get her long overdue “proper” education that could really take her places.

Since she first heard her father tell her, “if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, at least believe in something,” she was determined to find the answers to life and death. She studied all the great texts in high school, only to find the same patterns disheveled in creative tales and sonnets. All this information only made her more confused. So she busied her mind with something else; art and music. It wasn’t long until the expression and lack of answers led her to experimenting with her reality through drugs. Soon enough she only became concerned with consciousness and lost all desire to pursue her hobbies. When she ran away from philosophy, she made a mistake. The search kept her going at the time, art was just a distraction. When her addiction took over to later reveal her disorders, she morphed into an egocentric, hopeless disaster. But now that she realizes this, she is able to recognize her passion that has followed her all along.

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She had always been afraid to pursue a philosophy major because she thought the only thing you could to with that is become a writer or a teacher. At this point, she just didn’t care. Those two options didn’t seem so bad anymore. She daydreamed that one day she might be able to conjure up a novel outlining her two months of insanity. She was inspired by all the books she has read while she is in recovery; books about addiction, bipolar disorder and the psychotic mind. She was so intrigued with the memoirs that completely related to her, she felt like she was no longer alone. These people had been best selling authors, brave and admirable for they’re ability to tell their truths so vividly to the world. She knew she would need a lot of strength to dig out those memories she tried so hard to suppress but she thought it was worth it to explore herself enough to help another struggling addict/bipolar. She would need to do extensive interviews with the people that went through it with her. That would require another trip to India… As scary as that thought was, it made her feel warm. She fell in love with India and all the people who helped her along the way. She would want to write down every single experience– even the most embarrassing and shameful. She cringes at the idea of any of her loved ones reading her stories but she had been open up until this point, publishing her journal in front of the whole world. While maybe the whole world wasn’t reading it, they most certainly could. And maybe someday they would. She has big ambitions. Maybe even “grandiose.” But she didn’t care anymore. This is what drove her. This is what kept her clean. This is what kept her sane. This is what kept her alive.

Must Read: A Million Little Pieces by James Fey

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“Although I have heard some of this novel is false, I can’t help think to myself; does that really matter? I think many addicts are lying conniving and down-right selfish people (and I can say that because I am one). Of course there are many good characteristics of an addict that can prove over time, but many of us tell to exaggerate war stories and bend the truth. The point is, James Fey had the balls enough to even admit and do something about his disease. This courageous, this is admirable. Check out the online descriptions and review from Amazon.com below.” -Love, Robyn
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Book Description
At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.

Amazon Review by Brad Thomas Parsons
The electrifying opening of James Frey’s debut memoir, A Million Little Pieces, smash-cuts to the then 23-year-old author on a Chicago-bound plane “covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood.” Wanted by authorities in three states, without ID or any money, his face mangled and missing four front teeth, Frey is on a steep descent from a dark marathon of drug abuse. His stunned family checks him into a famed Minnesota drug treatment center where a doctor promises “he will be dead within a few days” if he starts to use again, and where Frey spends two agonizing months of detox confronting “The Fury” head on:

I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.

One of the more harrowing sections is when Frey submits to major dental surgery without the benefit of anesthesia or painkillers (he fights the mind-blowing waves of “bayonet” pain by digging his fingers into two old tennis balls until his nails crack). His fellow patients include a damaged crack addict with whom Frey wades into an ill-fated relationship, a federal judge, a former championship boxer, and a mobster (who, upon his release, throws a hilarious surf-and-turf bacchanal, complete with pay-per-view boxing). In the book’s epilogue, when Frey ticks off a terse update on everyone, you can almost hear the Jim Carroll Band’s brutal survivor’s lament “People Who Died” kicking in on the soundtrack of the inevitable film adaptation.

The rage-fueled memoir is kept in check by Frey’s cool, minimalist style. Like his steady mantra, “I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal,” Frey’s use of repetition takes on a crisp, lyrical quality which lends itself to the surreal experience. The book could have benefited from being a bit leaner. Nearly 400 pages is a long time to spend under Frey’s influence, and the stylistic acrobatics (no quotation marks, random capitalization, left-aligned text, wild paragraph breaks) may seem too self-conscious for some readers, but beyond the literary fireworks lurks a fierce debut.

Must Read: Sane- Mental Illness, Addiction, and the Twelve Steps by Marya Hornbacher

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“This is my next ‘must read’ book. I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but I have read Madness and it was one of the most relatable and amazingly written books I have ever read. For those of you suffering with Bipolar disorder, thats the book for you. Those of you suffering with eating disorders, her first book Wasted is one you should look into. This one however, seems like a great novel for all addicts, focusing on co-occurring disorders and working the 12 steps!” – Much Love, Robyn

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Marya Hornbacher, author of the international best sellers Madness and Wasted, offers an enlightening examination of the Twelve Steps for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

In this beautifully written recovery handbook, New York Times best-selling author Marya Hornbacher applies the wisdom earned from her struggle with a severe mental illness and addiction to offer an honest and illuminating examination of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for those with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.

Relaying her recovery experiences, and those of the people with whom she has shared her journey, Hornbacher guides readers through the maze of special issues that make working each Step a unique challenge for those with co-occurring disorders.

She addresses the difficulty that many with a mental illness have with finding support in a recovery program that often discourages talk about emotional problems, and the therapy and medication that they require. At the same time, Hornbacher reveals how the Twelve Steps can offer insights, spiritual sustenance, and practical guidance to enhance stability for those who truly have to approach sanity and sobriety one day at a time.

““The difference between now and the years when I lived in chaos is that I now have the knowledge, the tools, and the support to handle any kind of challenge, any kind of change.” Hornbacher (Madness) writes with honesty, empathy, and personal experience as someone with Bipolar Disorder who has struggled with addiction. She explores the meaning of the Twelve Steps in daily life to someone struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both. From perceptions of addicts (“that we can, by force of will, gain control over the substance to which we’re addicted, and that our failure to do that is simply more proof that we are failures as people”) to the “God problem” of the Twelve Steps, Hornbacher reaches out to readers in a clear, surprisingly lyrical voice that seeks to understand, assist, and explain. The Steps, she argues, “help us through the difficult passages, and they teach us to take joy in the discoveries we make as we go. What I am discovering as I work and rework the Steps over time is that there is no end to this journey.” For anyone seeking to understand or conquer addiction, her book will be a valuable guide and pocket mentor.”

— Publisher’s Weekly