There are people who live with such terrible, all-consuming pain, that the beauty offered up by the world every day goes completely ignored or unseen. Glorious pink and orange sunsets, or tree branches covered in snow, glittering under an early morning sky, are heavily cloaked.
Then, there’s Ruthie Lindsey, who breathtakingly pushed through her pain to transform darkness into beauty. I came across her interview on The Great Discontent, and was so deeply moved by her story. Living with debilitating chronic pain as a result of a car accident, then the death of her beloved father, closely followed by the dissolution of her marriage would have been grounds to completely check out, to throw in the towel and build a cocoon to disappear into. With the help of family and friends, instead she carefully and beautifully put her life back together through her design work, and began to see inspiration everywhere. Her interview is filled with so many nuggets of wisdom and honesty that I had to share it here knowing that some of you might find comfort in her words.
I am still living through much of the pain I have carried my whole life in a beat up suitcase that never leaves my side. Ruthie, however, has shown me an entirely new way of living, one that I can relate to on so many levels. I have been that person, completely blind to my talents because I have let pain obscure my view, and it has placed so many limitations on my abilities. Learning to shed that is a slow, but necessary process in order to connect with the deepest part of me that wants to create work that will affect people in positive ways. I hope that whatever your pain is, you are learning to do the same.
I’m always on the hunt for books that affect me viscerally, that carve spaces and bury themselves deep in my soul. The latest to keep me up at night is Anthony Marra’s debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. His perfectly drawn characters became friends, and long after turning the last page, I still find myself wondering after their welfare. An excerpt from this extraordinary book, to dazzle you:
“At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. Despite the shock wave of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the mast, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it.”
When I first built this place, I was not quite sure what I wanted it to represent. I initially thought it would be a nice spot to share the things that I found interesting. However, through most (not all; my last post holds a great deal of meaning and importance) of the things I posted, I felt a lack of cohesiveness and depth. I found myself questioning why I was posting anything at all, if it really mattered, and if it aligned with who I am. I stepped away, and focused on my writing in other areas, and poured my whole being into that.
Instead of the blog disappearing from my radar, however, the opposite happened. Every time I came across a great article, some amazing writing advice, or art that made my jaw drop, I found myself wanting to post about it. ‘You Are Made of Stars’ lived constantly in the back of my mind. It kind of swam around in a pool filled with bigger, crazier ideas that popped up, ones that ultimately I was never quite sure enough of to pursue. This place though, it remained constant, and beckoned continuously.
So, I return, in the hopes that I can delve a little bit deeper. I feel much more confident that I can do this from an authentic place, with my whole heart and soul behind it.
I would be more than happy if you decide to make this little spot a part of your life, and hopefully, you find something that makes you think, that inspires you, reassures you, or simply brings you joy.
Last year I had the pleasure of featuring work from one of my favourite people in the whole wide world, Renuka of the popular blog Pocketful of Perspective. Recently, she published an e-book featuring a compilation of her quotes called Make Room for Good, a massive accomplishment cementing her status as a true inspiration to the people who learn and take pleasure from her words. The beauty of the book mirrors that of her blog; words deftly sewn together with the sole purpose of helping people lay the groundwork for living a good and fulfilling life. I had the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss the book, her motivations for writing it, and the things that inspire her. I hope you enjoy the interview, and purchase your own copy of Make Room for Good available at Amazon.ca for the incredibly affordable price of $2.99. It will illuminate your life!
Hi Renuka! Thank you so much for meeting with me to talk about your new book, Make Room for Good. First, I must say congratulations! The book is wonderfully filled to the brim with inspiration, as well as pure and simple goodness. After reading it for the first time, I think I had somewhere around three hundred life affirming epiphanies.
300?! That’s amazing, thank you so much Rasheeda! I always love hearing about the positive responses readers are having to the book. It means a great deal to me, it really does. And reading your blog is a part of my weekly routine, so to be featured on it is such a wonderful thing for me.
You’re welcome, and thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it! The book is wonderful, so I’d like to begin by asking what inspired you to write it?
During the darkest days of my life, while dealing with the losses of my father and sister, I was looking for an outlet to grieve; a way to make sense of my pain. Problems to me always felt ‘resolved’ when I wrote about them. And so writing about my feelings became a cathartic process for me. It was during this time that I realized, no matter how much difficulty I was faced with, a part of me always felt hopeful about life. I felt at home in this part of me that wanted to see the good in spite of the unfortunate. So I began to write about the triumph born out of tragedy, and I left it at that. It wasn’t until I began sharing the quotes on a social networking site that I discovered people were using my words to make sense of their own pain. The fact that this was helping others the way it had helped me was all the motivation I needed to start my blog, ‘Pocketful Of Perspective’ last year. It was from here that my book came to be.
I remember growing up seeing the iconic yellow covers of National Geographic strewn throughout my house. My father collected them, and let them pile up everywhere. At first, he had to talk me into reading them, but eventually I sought them out on my own. They were second-hand and out-dated, though I never cared because they brought so much into my small world. I would flip through the ‘latest’ issue for hours, and imagine the places which existed beyond the walls of my house and my lower-middle class neighbourhood. The very first map I tacked up in my childhood bedroom came from the middle of the magazine, and hung right over my bed. It was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep, and the first thing I saw in the morning, illuminated by wisps of morning light.
In retrospect, it seemed like my father had been deliberately nurturing something inside me, a feeling he had known intimately while growing up on the seashores of Guyana. He always wanted to travel and explore the world, but simply could not afford to. All of these years later, I can see that by bringing those incredible magazines into our home, he wished so much more for me. I know that the feeling I have embedded in my heart and soul, the restless, adventurous, want-to-see-the-entire-world feeling, I can attribute to my father and those wonderful, old National Geographics.
If yellow magazines containing all of the world’s secrets are as dear a friend to you as they have been for me, I’m sure you will deeply appreciate the National Geographic Tumblr, filled with images from its archives. Set aside some time, and wander a bit. I’m sure you’ll quite enjoy your trip.
I’ve started reading The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, the masterful debut of Ayana Mathis, and I can tell you in complete honesty that I’m dumbfounded by its simple beauty. I’m barely a few pages in, but I already feel that familiar tug of connection between me and this book’s characters. I’m spellbound.
Mathis is utterly likeable as well. I’ve probably watched her Super Soul Sunday Interview with Oprah ten times, and could totally watch it again. Here’s my favourite bit, where she talks about her favourite books:
These hand-made calligraphy name-necklaces by brevity are so beautiful. I’ve wanted to wear ‘Rasheeda’ all done in fancy script around my neck every since the early days of Sex and the City, when Carrie so proudly wore her own iconic name necklace. I’m not a huge jewelry wearer, and the pieces I tend to gravitate towards are simpler, more delicate. This definitely fits the bill! I am totally buying one for myself one day, as a reward for doing something which pays me enough money to afford it.