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Read-a-Chapter: Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach
Title of Book: ODDITIES & ENTITIES
Author: Roland Allnach
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
PURCHASE ODDITIES & ENTITIES HERE
BO N E VI EW
Before Allison knew the meaning of words or the context of visions, she knew the Curmudgeon. It was there, lodged in her earliest memories, the memories that imbed themselves deep in the psyche to shadow all future memories. When she lay in her crib as a pale and lumpy baby, she didn’t know to cry when it came in her room, when it passed through her walls as if their existence were some unsubstantiated rumor rather than studs, slats, and plaster. And though at any greater age she might have cowered and screamed, in her unclouded infantile mind there was no reference for fear or judgment, only the absorbance of what was. Perhaps the Curmudgeon knew this but, then again, perhaps not. As the years passed, it was a matter of little importance.
She remembered her first years of school. She was different; this realization was as stark as the full moon visits of the Curmudgeon were fantastic. When other children clamored to play in the sun and warmth, she found herself possessed by an ever-present chill. She felt most comfortable wearing black, without perceiving any conscious decision to that end. She preferr ed to stay inside, or in places of deep shade or shadow, and gaze out at the light. It wasn’t that she shunned the warm light of the Florida sun, but the glare seemed to scald her eyes with its white intensity. Her eyes were her source of distinction, after all. Vast for her narrow face, their luminous, sea green irises formed tidal pools about the tight black dots of her pupils. Her stare was one that few could bear for long. Children and teachers alike found her unblinking silence a most uncomfortable experience, and her mute distraction in school led to the inevitable conclusion that she wasn’t very bright.
She had no friends. Her world, though, wasn’t as lonesome as it may have seemed.
She lived with her grandmother, a reclusive widow of Creole descent, who wandered about their old manor house singing under her breath in her broken French dialect. Allison loved the old house, despite its state of disrepair and the ratty look of its worn exterior, with the few remaining patches of white paint peeling off the grayed wood clapboard. The oak floors creaked, but there was something timeless about the place, with its high ceilings, spacious rooms and front colonnade. The house was surrounded by ancient southern oaks; they were broad, stately trees, the likes of which one could only find in Florida. Their sinewy, gargantuan branches split off low from the trunk, with gray-green leaves poking out between dangling veils of Spanish moss. The trees shielded Allison from the sun, and provided a home for squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The Curmudgeon would leave their cleaned skulls on her windowsill as gifts when the moon waxed in silvery twilight.
Her parents loved her—or so they claimed, when she would see them. They seemed more like friends than her elders. She often watched them with curious eyes, peering from her window at night as they frolicked about the front lawn. Her mother, very much a younger vision of her grandmother, had long dark hair, hair that would sway about her as she danced naked under the trees at night. Her father would be there with her, dancing naked as well, the strange designs tattooed down his back often blending with the swaying lengths of Spanish moss. They claimed to be moon cultists, though Allison had no idea what that meant. It was of no matter. Soon enough they became part of the night, passing to her dreams forever.
The memory of that change was the first emotional turmoil of her secluded little life. She was seven, and her parents had come out for the weekend. It was one of those times when her parents sat under the sprawling branches of the oaks, drinking and smoking throughout the day until they lay back on a blanket, their glazed eyes hidden behind their sunglasses. The hours drifted by, and the day faded to the lazy serenity of a Florida evening. Beneath long, golden rays of sunshine they began to stir, rising from their stupor to a restless sense of wanderlust. They came in the house after dinner, settling themselves at the table and exchanging small talk as Allison ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. They smiled over Allison’s drawings, complimenting her budding artistic skills, and talked to her grandmother about some plans for the next weekend. Even at her young age Allison could tell her grandmother humored them. Her parents didn’t have a false bone in their body, but they were not reliable people. Free spirits, her grandmother would say.
Yet as those thoughts rolled about Allison’s head her eyes seemed to blur, and she stared at her parents with that unnerving, unblinking gaze of hers. Her heart began to race, her skin tingled, and then it came to her: not a shadow, but a different kind of light than the sun, a light that seemed to seep from within her parents, until the tactile periphery of their bodies became a pale shadow over the ivory glow of their skeletons. She trembled in her seat as the sight gained clarity until she could see all their bones in all their minute detail, but then it changed, changed in a way that froze her blood in her veins. Black fracture lines spread across the smooth ivory like running rivers of ink, until every bone in their bodies was broken to jagged ruin.
Her grandmother called her name, snapping her out of her stupor. She blinked, then screamed and ran from the table to the living room. Her parents and grandmother came after her, but she buried her head under the couch pillows. Despite the pillows, the moment she opened her eyes she could see them, right through the pillows and couch, standing there in their shattered translucence. She ran for her room, scratching at her eyes, and that was when things changed. Her grandmother charged after her, following her to her room, and tore through every drawer until she found the small collection of skulls Allison kept—the tokens the Curmudgeon had left her. Her grandmother stuffed her in her closet, closed the door to her room, and sat outside the door. She could hear her grandmother’s voice, even in the dark of the closet. She clamped her eyes shut; it was a desperate final measure to blot out the sight of her parents. She could see them, through the walls, through the floor, through the trees, as they hopped on her father’s motorcycle and raced off. She screamed for them to stop, but she was a child with a trifling voice, stuffed in a closet.
She cried herself to sleep.
– Excerpted from Chapter 1, Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach
Read a Chapter: Waking Up Happy by Jill Muehrcke
Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at Beyond the Books! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope by Jill Muehrcke. Ordering information follows. If you would like to learn more about Jill, visit her website at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com.
WAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE: Powerful, absorbing, and beautifully written, this first-of-its-kind book of transformation and healing includes memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, along with exercises readers can do to make the same transformations in their own lives.
Half of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the Recovery Foundation helping people build new lives – so every time someone buys a book, they will be helping someone TRANSFORM THEIR LIFE!
You Are the Sculptor and the Stone
It began with a dream. As a freelance writer, I’m always looking for new writing projects, and one night I dreamed of climbing a mountain with several other women, passing through fierce storms, and arriving at a sunlit peak where we could see the paths we’d taken, gleaming below us, and realized we could help others find their own trails, supporting them on their climb, and helping them avoid the obstacles that had made our ascent so painful.
Because of this dream, I was sure I was meant to join with other women to write a book, using our experiences to help others. I waited for the book to take shape in my mind. Before I went to sleep, I asked my dream sherpa to offer guidance. But I had no more revelatory dreams, and in time I put the idea aside.
Then one day I was talking to my granddaughter, Shyloh, a beautiful young woman who had just turned twenty-one and was one of the brightest lights of my life. She’d recently been to rehab, gotten off drugs, and was telling me about a place called Connections, where she was receiving the support she needed to lead a new, sober life.
As it happened, the woman who’d started Connections, Shelly Dutch, was profiled that month in the magazine Wisconsin Woman, and Shyloh gave me the piece to read. She also talked about her counselor at Connections, Skye, who had an idea for a book relating the stories of people who’d come to Connections. These amazing men and women were, like phoenixes, rising up from the fires of addiction and using the ashes to fashion brand-new lives.
This, I realized, was the book I was meant to write, and Shyloh, Shelly, and Skye were the climbing companions of my dream. We each had a powerful spark within us, but it took the synchrony of my talk with Shyloh to drive our energies toward a common purpose.
For years, I’d been collecting ideas about the process of change because of my own recovery journey. I realized that all the research I’d done after I stopped drinking and the strategies I’d used to turn my life around could be woven into this book of memoirs to help others on their voyages of change.
Skye already had the book’s title – Waking Up Happy — and its premise – focusing not on the misery of people’s addictions but on the joyous journey of recovery. Shelly donated Connections’ meeting rooms, where we began strategizing and found people whose stories were begging to be told.
Like Skye, I’d read many memoirs of addiction and finished each one wishing there had been less immersion in the years of addiction, relapse, and anguish and more on the gratifying
process of recovering and building a new life. But what happened next? I always found myself asking. How did these tortured souls go on to lead meaningful lives? What were their secrets? The title Skye chose for the book resounded with us because we’d all had the experience
of waking up miserable, detesting ourselves for what we’d become. The crowning splendor of a new life is that feeling you have upon waking – that all’s right with the world and that you have a productive place in it.
Connections Counseling Center – the haven Shelly has designed for people in recovery — is itself a place of joy. Those who enter the warm, cozy space feel welcomed and embraced.
On my first visit there, Skye showed me two walls – one of sorrow and one of jubilation. The first wall is covered with pictures of Connections’ clients who have died – of overdoses, in car crashes, and in all the other ways people kill themselves, by design or accident, when they’ve forgotten how to love themselves.
The second wall is made up of collages of people who have lived to celebrate one or more years of sobriety. Each collage has been created with photos of the person laughing with friends and pictures symbolizing key points on the person’s journey.
“Both walls have powerful messages,” Skye said. “The first makes it clear that addiction is a serious disease. People die from it, and many others come close to dying. But my work isn’t depressing. It’s a joyous job, counseling people who are changing their lives. The second wall reflects that miracle of transformation.”
Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song,
Bittersweet and strange,
Finding you can change,
Learning you were wrong.
–Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Beauty and the Beast
There are many reasons why you may want to change your life. If you have an addiction, habit, or intolerable situation that’s devastating your life, you may realize you must make a drastic shift. If you’re in a relationship that’s diminishing rather than enhancing your best self, or if you’re eating the wrong foods, hurting your body, or doing other self-destructive things, you know, deep inside, that you can’t continue on that path. And as you pass through different phases in your life – as you become a parent, for example, or an empty-nester or a retiree – radical adjustments are necessary.
Changing your life isn’t easy. It means learning to know yourself. It means creating yourself anew. Because you’re both the sculptor and the stone, it’s a wrenching task.
And yet every sculptor knows that the piece of art that’s meant to be already exists: It’s a matter of carving its essence from material that’s already there. When asked how the granite bear came to be, the sculptor says, “I just cut away everything that wasn’t a bear.”
All of us in this book have worked long hours stripping away the false, burdensome, excess parts of ourselves to bring our truest spirits into being. Because we’re all addicts of one sort or another, it’s those addictions – to drugs, to habits that suffocated our authentic selves, to people who hurt and abused us and quelled our power– it’s those addictions we chisel at every day.
You needn’t be an addict to feel the clarion call to remold yourself. Everyone’s life cries out for transformation. If you don’t change and grow, you die: Bit by bit, day by day, your innermost soul dwindles and perishes. The cost of not continuing to grow is ultimately feeling half-dead.
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Change doesn’t happen in a moment. But often there’s an instant that signals the need for an evolution into something new. Buried in that instant you’ll often find the power of synchronicity.
Synchronicity may be a vague concept for you until one day events come together in an “Aha!’ moment and it becomes crystal clear how everything’s connected, for synchronicity is all about connection. It’s about turning points, signposts that signal a new route. It’s about the way life surprises you when your heart’s open to the universe of possibilities.
This book was born through a series of synchronous events – circumstances too filled with significance to be mere coincidence. The psychologist Carl Jung described synchronicity as a link that goes beyond simple cause and effect to become meaningful, a fusion of elements that, when they merge, turn into something new. Sometimes a synchronous moment causes a major shift, pointing the way toward a deeper purpose, and that’s our hope for you – that as you peruse this book, you’ll find a story, suggestion, or life lesson that resonates in just the right way, touching you at a moment when you’re ready to take a leap toward a new life.
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hand.
You’re the artist of your own life. All you need do is pick up the tools for change and begin to use them. Each false start is a carving crucial to the final piece of art, paving the way for you to sculpt your greatest creation: the beautiful self that lies within the stone.
– Excerpted from Waking Up Happy. All rights reserved.
Read a Chapter: Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss by Nicolette Dumke
Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at Beyond the Books! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss by Nicolette Dumke. Ordering information follows. Enjoy!
Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss answers the question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” Because it’s hard to put a puzzle together if you’re missing some of the pieces. We’ve been missing or ignoring the most important pieces in the puzzle of how our bodies determine whether to store or burn fat. Those puzzle pieces are hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and others. In addition, we’ve been given some puzzle pieces that don’t belong or fit in the weight-control puzzle. Much of what we’ve heard about dieting and exercise is incorrect and can cause loss of muscle mass instead of fat or even result in weight gain. The idea that weight is determined solely by “calories in minus calories out” is an assumption not based in reality. Most weight-loss diets require us to endure hunger much of the time, but hunger means that our blood sugar is falling or low and our insulin level may be rising. Prolonged hunger leads to the release of adrenal hormones, and the hormonal cascade which follows results in the inability to burn our own body fat as well as causing any fat we eat to be stored rather than burned to give us energy. Another problem with most weight loss diets is that they strictly dictate food choices, lack the flexibility that those on special diets for food allergies or gluten-intolerance require, and deprive us of pleasure. Individuals with food allergies face additional weight-loss challenges such as inflammation due to allergies which can lead to our master weight control hormone, leptin, being unable to do its job of maintaining a healthy weight. Those with gluten intolerance often eat a diet too high rice. Rice is the only grain which is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form; thus eating too much of it will raise insulin levels and cause the body to deposit fat. Although the recipes in this book were developed for those on special diets, non-sensitive people will enjoy them as well, and the weight loss principles in this book will help anyone lose weight. (A chapter of recipes made with wheat and other problematic foods is included for those on unrestricted diets). The most frustrating deficiency of conventional weight loss diets is that they don’t work long-term. Low-calorie, low-fat diets can lead to loss of muscle mass, and with less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so we need less food. Rare is the person who loses weight by counting calories and keeps it off after they liberalize their diet! However, continual dieting for the rest of your life is not the way you need to live, and you do not have to be deprived of pleasure in order to lose weight. Overweight is not due to a lack of willpower. Rather, it is due to a chemical imbalance in our bodies. Once we begin to correct that imbalance by applying the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we can lose weight without hunger or deprivation and can maintain a healthy weight permanently and easily by regaining normal self-regulating hormonal control of our weight.
@ Nicolette Dumke All Rights Reserved
My grandmother could have used this book. Grandma Jiannetti, who died when I was six months old, was described to me as five-by-five – five feet tall and five feet wide. (Judging from the pictures, such as the one below of her with my dad, maybe her width was exaggerated). When my parents traveled to Italy for the first time when I was 14, they met her brother, Pietro Savioli, who was six-by-three, literally. Grandma, her brother, and several members of my paternal extended family had and have what family members call “the Savioli body type.”
My mother used to say, “Grandma was big, but my, how she could move.” Then she would describe the sound of her rapid footsteps and how quickly she covered ground when she walked. My father told stories about how she could hoe a row of vegetables with lightning speed. He described her bending straight from the waist to wrap and tie bunches of the Paschal celery which was the family’s cash crop. She could wrap several bunches in the time it took him to do one as he worked with her when he was in his teens.
Not only did Grandma work hard on the family farm, she did everything else vigorously because of her personality and perhaps also because she had so much to do. My father was born later in her life. His sister, Louise, was fifteen, and because Grandma needed to get back to the fields to work, my aunt left school after the eighth grade to take care of my father. Although my aunt was a very intelligent woman and wanted to attend high school, she never seemed to regret having given up her personal opportunities to help raise my father.
I remember hearing a conversation between my mother and Aunt Louise when I was young. My mother said that Grandma was stubborn. My aunt said, “No, she just had determination.” Determination, along with a dedication to hard work, is very much a part of the Savioli personality. Grandma, in her “determination,” didn’t let anyone push her around. When a salesman came to the house, she would open the door, say, “No speak-a the English,” and slam the door in his face. She was an independent thinker, and some things just had to be done her way.
However, the most significant characteristic of the Savioli personality was and is a passionate love for family. When my father’s family moved from the coal mining country of southern Colorado to the Denver area to farm, Grandma insisted that they live near a school so her children could receive a good education. They bought a parcel of land with a hundred-year-old farm house just three blocks from a good primary school.
When I was born, Grandma was dying of cancer. In those days, it was thought that if a person were told that she had a terminal illness, she would give up and die quickly. Thus, nobody told her what she had. My mother said that Grandma’s greatest joy would have been to hold me, her newborn granddaughter, in her arms. Unfortunately, she never held me because she was afraid that she would give me her illness. Instead she sat by my cradle and rocked me while singing to me in Italian.
When my father was dying of cancer many years later, he became anemic and the doctors suggested that blood transfusions would give him more energy. I told him that I wanted to donate blood as a way of giving back just a little to him for his lifetime of love and hard work for me. He told me that he had said the same thing to his mother years before, and she told him to pass the love on to his children instead. My dad said that he wouldn’t take blood from me because I needed my strength to keep up with my two young boys. (My younger son, John, was a very frisky two-year-old at the time). He told me that the best way I could thank him would be to pass on the legacy of love to his two beloved grandsons.
This book is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother and father, two of the originators of the legacy of love, to my husband and sons who love me now as I love them, and to all readers of this book who have the Savioli body type. To you I say – you are important. You were put here for a reason and a purpose. There are people who need you, and/or there will be those who need you in the future. When you find it difficult to take charge of your health for your own sake, let your love for those who need you be your motivation. If you are an independent thinker with the Savioli “determination” as well as the body type, rest assured that this book will not dictate to you. It is designed to be flexible and therefore practical for those on special diets, and this flexibility allows you to personalize it to insure enjoyment of your food as well. You can use it to do things your way as you lose weight and improve your health.
– Book excerpt from Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss. Purchase your copy at Amazon for only $23.95 by clicking here!