Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Healing Power of the Book (Club)

It has been quiet on BettyRants for the last two weeks, and this has been driving me crazy. That is, unfortunately what happens when it is time for school to start again. After enjoying a summer full of magical moments of free time to write, read, tweet, photograph, draw, and explore to my heart's content, suddenly every moment of every day belongs to someone else. Every day and night is suddenly overfilled with things that need to be done immediately, if not sooner.  That is quite an adjustment to make.  It's a good thing I love what I do.

Anyway, after going ninety miles an hour with my hair on fire for the last two weeks, I finally had the opportunity to stop and slow down for a little while yesterday while I caught up with my book club.  For the last few years, my mother and I have belonged to a book club made up of lifelong friends who have become family.  In theory, we meet monthly, and each woman takes a turn choosing a book.  Our tastes, like we, are vastly different, so we read all kinds of stuff that we would never see without The Club.  We usually meet at someone's house and all bring food and drink that is connected to the book.  We go a little crazy in our preparations; the more creative, the better.  When we read Arcadia Falls, by Carol Goodman in the early days, Mom helped me pull grapevine out of her yard which I wove into a wreath to put around the outside of the pan of roasted root vegetables that I made to represent the twisted roots that recurred throughout the book.  It was awesome, and not even close to the most creative thing there that day!

We eat, drink, laugh, and sometimes even talk about the book.  Usually what begins as a discussion of the book ultimately leads to a discussion of life as we know it.  When we make it happen, it is sacred time.  The Club is made up of two generations of women, some of whom have known each other since birth.  Some are working while raising babies and young children, some work and have children who are grown, some have children in The Club, and some have four-legged children.  Our beliefs and politics may be different, but when we meet for Book Club, none of that matters.  We are friends who let down our hair, kick off our shoes, and have fun for a few hours.

Delicious Coconut Cocktail
It had been a few months since we had all been able to make our schedules work to get together for Book Club.  Between work, kids, and life in general, we are a busy bunch.  It seems like everyone I know is busy these days.  We are busier than we used to be, busier than we want to be, busier than we need to be, just busy.  We get so busy that we forget to stop and connect face-to-face with the people that help energize us.

For our Summer meeting, we read On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.  It was a quick read about two people who, after a plane crash, learn to survive together on an deserted island.  Since we had all been so busy lately, we decided to meet at a beach-themed restaurant.  Bahama Breeze, overlooking the water between Tampa and Clearwater, was a fantastic choice!  Coconuts featured prominently in the book, so a coconut cocktail was high on my priority list.  Theirs was perfect!

Our fun centerpiece
As we were in public, the decorations were mostly set already, but C, J & J brought a bag filled with kids' toys to use as a centerpiece representing different parts of the book, some of which, like the chickens, I had forgotten.  What a clever way to remind us of the story!  The toys provided a great jumping off point to begin our discussion of the book.  We actually found ourselves delving deeper into questions about this story than we have in a while, and the conversation was most exhilarating.

Our Survival Kits

To help us remember On the Beach, each of us was given a "survival kit" filled with items mentioned in the book that they either missed or managed to find to make it through their time on the island.  The thing that they said that they most wanted was a cold Coke over ice, so a little Coke was included for each of us.  It was creative and thoughtful, as always.

Possibly the coolest moment of the day came as we were wrapping up.  My mom, SandiPaints, looked over my shoulder into Tampa Bay and saw a dolphin playing in the water.  Again, dolphins figured prominently in the book.  We were all transfixed watching to see the fin pop up again. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and energizing at the same time.  For all of us.  Just as it should have been.

As the afternoon storm rolled in over the water, our little club parted.   But we have already planned our next meetings through March, promising not to let so much time pass again without this wonderful, inspiring connection.  I have always known that books have the potential to take me anywhere, to make me feel better.  Now I know that sharing these books, and this time, with amazing women has a restorative power all its own.


  1. Replies
    1. It really is. Wish you were closer so you could play with us!

  2. Sounds like a great time!
    One of the nice things about going back to a routine is it lets us get back to the fun parts of the routine.

    And dolphins!!!

    1. Excellent point, Guap.
      And dolphins! You gotta love the dolphins!

  3. I agree...perfectly said! I,too, had forgotten how much I love our get-togethers and am really looking forward to September! I love you guys and am so thankful to have each of you in my life, even if we only see each other for a few hours each month.

    1. And now to you I will say perfectly said,
      Thanks for being one of the great treasures of my life.