Our Book Club read for March was Toni Morrison’s The Source of Self Regard . I was really eager to get into it because of everyone’s reaction when she passed away in 2019, there was such sadness at the loss of a great literary mind YET, I had struggled to really get into her writing. Prior to this read, I had only read God Help The Child and I quite enjoyed it.
Her command of language and how she uses it to say what she says. I felt like I was in primary school turning to my dictionary for every second word but it was worth it. As a wordsmith she contorts language to do and say exactly what she needs to do and impart the feeling she needs.
Her writing confirmed that you can’t be such an accomplished writer and not read widely. Girl reads. Widely.
How she talks about language and what it can and can’t achieve. You feel it and you enjoy the experience of it all.
I enjoyed her talking about her writing process and how she thinks of it / approaches it.
Now to some specific themes and quotes that I loved from each of them.
The Foreign / Being Foreign
In the second essay she talks through Camara Laye’s book of how a white man would migrate back to Africa and how he prepares himself. Even then, there is still some caucasity.
The idea of home and how layered it is. No one knows this more than me, what is home and what makes it home?
She refers to James Baldwin in her tribute to him as follows: “your life refuses summation … and invites contemplation.”
Frederick Douglass talking about his grandmother, and James Baldwin talking about his father, and Simone de Beauvoir talking about her mother, these people are my access to me; they are my entrance into my own interior life. And that is so true, we understand ourselves best by looking at our families and those nearest and dearest to us.
But writing is not simply recollecting or reminiscing or even epiphany. It is doing, creating a narrative infused [ …] with legitimate and authentic characteristics of the culture.
the Afro-American presence in American literature
The so called every day life of black people is certainly lovely to live, but whoever is living it must know that each day of his “everyday” black life is a triumph of matter over mind and sentiment over common sense. And if he doesn’t know that, then he doesn’t know anything at all.
We are halfway through the BSF Study of Matthew and the lesson I am getting in this season of my Christian walk is just how similar I am to my toddler. And it is a very humbling lesson.
I obviously have a toddler and spend so much time with her. Now toddlers are amazing little people. Funny, impulsive, willful, have no idea of what danger is or what could happen in ever situation. They are loveable but can also be tiring and that is exactly how I have seen myself revealed through the first 13 chapters we have looked at thus far.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22 - 25)
In the James citation above, we see that when we look intently at God’s Laws, we should our true selves magnified and this should draw us to repentance and to a deeper and more mature relationship with Christ. If we look, feel drawn to a particular response and then just as quickly forget, then its pointless. So while tough, its encouraging that I can see myself as maybe God sees me and this has two results. One, that I am striving towards God in deeper obedience to His will and two: it is helping me parent my daughter differently. Even when I mess up or frustrate Him, He still loves me. There are consequences to sin and all the mess I get into and while painful, I can trust God that His love and ways are perfect. I should and will show my daughter the right way, emphasize that, discipline when she falls short but over and above that in all ways I will continue to love her and show her that she is loved. Ultimately, my heart is filled with such gratitude that this is the God I love and serve and how faithful to me He is. What a faithful and loving God.
I love Cup of Jo. The blog content and the community of readers that gather around it. It is a very beautiful space on the internet and what I secretly wish for this here little space.
She recently had a blog post on family rituals and I decided to steal a few to start with my child(ren) as they get older. So here goes and please also check it out.
To keep things simple at Christmas, we each get 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I am planning to use this model with my children (someday)!
My MIL had three curious kids who would shake gifts put under the tree before Christmas day. She invented Christmas “code names” to write on the presents. From then on the kids didn’t know whose presents were whose and would stop peeking. On Christmas day each kid gets to guess who’s assigned to each code name and she reveals the results at the end. My husband is now 33 and the tradition is still alive! She always chooses a different theme. Sometimes they are so abstract we spend hours just trying to guess what the theme is. Last year it was types of dairy cow (Holstein, Normande, Guernsey, Belted Galloway) and the year before it was cities in Ireland (Cork, Killkenny, Limerick, Dungarvan). One year she did locations of WWII battle sites. She keeps us on our toes and I always look forward to it.
“When my (very adult now) kids were smaller, I began asking for their self-portraits as my birthday gift. Many years later, I enjoy the most incredible archive of their growing artistic skills, evolving concepts of self, and interests at the time. It’s still what I ask for, and they happily explore new media, formats and methods each year — often their portraits coordinate incredibly well with no overt communication. Can’t recommend this enough. Only wish we’d begun even earlier!”
A nice tradition I have started with my kids is giving a special book on their birthday. Instead of a greeting card, we pick a book that means something that year (a book we borrowed many times from the library, a little story about a place we travelled to, about getting a sibling, etc) and we write a note on the front page or wherever we can fit it talking about memorable things of that year and hopes for the year ahead. I plan to give my kids a book with a love note every year for as long as I live
She doesn’t know it yet, but I invest money each month for my goddaughter, in the amount of her age. $1 a month when she was 1, $2 when she turned two, ect ect. She will be 11 next month! I plan to give her the money when she graduates high school or turns 18. It is a fairly low financial commitment from me each month, but should hopefully be a very nice gift for her one day. AND it will be a great lesson in compound interest and investing in your future 😉
The night before the first day of school we eat under the dining room table instead of on top of it. My kids are little (4 and 7) so they find this exciting and a wacky way to end summer and start the year!
This being Day 8902 of lockdown (not really, it’s Day 54 here) and working remotely as we take care of the 14-month old. I wanted to share the one thing I have learnt about my Mr and new work mate:
He is really passionate about his work. He is genial and well liked and regarded by his workmates. They really respect him too. He is also very serious when at work. Less positively, he hates to do any kind of project admin. Oh and his day involves being in so many meetings / calls.
It’s been interesting to see this side of him as the last time we worked so closely together was back at Varsity.
What have you learnt about yourself or your partner / housemate(s) as you worked from home? If you and your partner regularly work from home, what have you learnt from each other at this time?