Lots of Candles and Wisdom

Posted on July 21st, 2015, by iMinerva

It helps to know you’re not alone.  Not that I’m a fan of the “Misery Loves Company” tribe, I just like to know I’m not the only crazy at the asylum. Anna Quindlen, who celebrated her 62nd birthday this July, shares her life progression in her book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  Section topics cover “stuff,”  marriage, girlfriends, children, aging, faith and mortality, and a lot of other life issues that pop up between the candle blow-outs.  Her insights are so pointed that I kept having “aha” moments throughout the book.

All the moments we stress over thinking they are personal challenges or karma as we travel life’s journey, turn out to be moments, worries, disappointments, and joys shared by women of the universe – particularly women of our generation. One of my favorite chapters is the very first entitled “Stuff.”  “I have a lot of stuff.  I bet you do, too.  Sofas, settees, bureaus, bookshelves.  Dishes, bowls, pottery, glass, candlesticks, serving trays, paperweights.”  Quindlen spends the chapter categorizing various collections gathered from college and marriage and kids and family and good friends and, well, life.  I’m sure this recounting hit me gobsmack in my frontal lobe as I’m circling through my closets and drawers and file cabinets and basement and garage stressing over how to get rid of the past forty-years’ accumulation assembled in my probably-too-big house.  She quotes Thoreau, “‘Simplify, simplify.'”  But then, Thoreau lived on the pond, he didn’t live in three separate houses in three separate states.

I love her insights on “Girlfriends” known from her youth to wise womanhood.  Every mother/grandmother/aunt should share this chapter with every young girl in her village.  There are true girlfriends and there are girl friends and there have always been mean girls.  Quindlen quotes Virginia Woolf, “‘I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.'”

I have to thank my high school girlfriend, Lynn, who recommended this as her favorite book of all time.  She reads a lot and belongs to book clubs and was the smartest gal in our class so she’s a trusted authority.  I’ve given Lots of Candles to a half-dozen gal pals and the response is always the same.  There’s wisdom, and laughter and  shared experiences that help bring a new understanding to our lives.  Enjoy.


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