The World of Castle Waiting

jacket-aspxCastle Waiting by Linda Medley is a graphic novel in two volumes that depicts a world where horses walk upright and wield swords. A world of ghosts and amulets and curses. And yet, a world of  everyday life that deals with such things as the logistics of cooking for a crowd, doing the laundry, and whether it’s more important for underwear to be functional or interesting.

And through it all, one plucky heroine named Jain travels in search of the legendary Castle Waiting, a sanctuary for anyone who needs it. The characters are wonderful and no one bats an eye at any being, no matter how different: talking storks, annoying sprites, bearded ladies, the mentally unstable, the warriors are all taken in stride and regarded with compassion and a touch of humor.

A small demon  patrols the neighborhood around Castle Waiting looking for souls to corrupt. Sprites infest the castle walls. A lion with wings watches silently and mysteriously, sometimes from the roof and sometimes from the nearby woods. And Jain, who has spent months on the road, arrives just in time for the birth of her baby, whose father is as much of a mystery as everything else in the castle.

castleMeticulously drawn and by turns touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking, this story sucked me right in. With a deft hand,  Medley strews literary references throughout the story and skewers old fairy tales. One reading simply is not sufficient. Only through multiple readings will you be able to catch all the allusions and details. Each panel not only features the major characters but a wealth of of background action. (Watch for the sprites stealing things while no one notices.) The architectural detail of the castle made my wanna-be architect heart beat faster.

This is not a utopian story. People die. There are thieves, baby-nappers, and violence. Jain starts her journey by escaping from an abusive husband. Yet, in a way, Castle Waiting is a utopia. Bickering happens and personalities clash, but underneath it all there is an unquestioning acceptance of everyone.

It seems like a wonderful place to be. It is just quirky enough for my taste and there are enough adventures to keep boredom at bay. The characters bowl in the castle halls. They eat Turkish Delight. They dye their hair red and hold impromptu tea parties.  And each one has a story that is slowly revealed though the (so far) two volumes.

Jain Solander from the graphic novel Castle Waiting. Artist: Linda Medley.

From Castle Waiting, Vol. 1. Copyright Linda Medley.

Did I mention that Castle Waiting has a library complete with a ghost? I want to go live there.

Take a look at other Graphic Novels available at the Cheshire Library.

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Seeking Rest in a Busy World

Rest is hard to find. Our homes, schools, and public places are filled with sound and activities. People talk, electronic devices ping, beep, and trill. Machines hum. We are plugged in 24/7.

Our lives have become a hive of constant connection. We are never alone! And quiet time is so necessary for well-being. A recent study looked at the benefits of time alone. It turns out, even extroverts need alone time and that time spent alone makes people feel more rested, which contributes to their well-being.

james_tissot_-_quietAnd the activities that people in the study found the most restful?
1. Reading.
2. Being in a natural environment.
3. Time spent alone.

So grab a book and head outside for some quality alone time. It’s good for body and soul.

 

Want to know more about the benefits of rest? Try these titles. Just want to relax? Check out the downloadable music suggestions at the end of this post. For a full list of relaxation resources, click here.

jacket-aspxSilence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise / Thich Nĥát Hạnh. (Hardcover)
One of the world’s most beloved teachers and Zen masters shares a profound, concise, and practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.

jacket-aspxThe art of stillness : adventures in going nowhere / Pico Iyer. (Hardcover)
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

jacket-aspxStillness speaks / Eckhart Tolle. (ebook)
If you connect to the stillness within, you move beyond your active mind and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.

 

 

jacket-aspxRelaxation revolution : enhancing your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing / Herbert Benson and William Proctor. (Downloadable Audiobook)
Using the mind to quiet the body not only eases stress, it actually alters the activity of thousands of genes, promoting wellness. Science now proves that relaxation not only changes how a patient feels physically and emotionally, it has the power to transform genes, molecules, cells, and other physiological functions to relieve a variety of afflictions.

vector-musical-1Downloadable Music

Positive thinking, vol. 1 – music for meditation, relaxation & yoga

Guided meditation guided relaxation & guided imagery for the body and mind

Classical music for relaxation vol.1

Spa music: relaxing music for massage therapy, spa, yoga, stress relief, meditation and sleeping

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Dealing with Anxiety

face-sad-sweatingAngst, anxiety, stress,–whichever way you describe it, it’s a feeling everyone has experienced and the last few months have raised anxiety and stress levels higher than ever.

While everyone feels the occasional need to crawl into a blanket fort, most of us don’t have that luxury. Yet some days soldiering on can be painful, if not impossible.

If you are looking for a little ease or a way to calm your inner alarms, check out some of the materials we have on the subject of anxiety.

Books

jacket-aspxThe 10 best anxiety busters : simple strategies to take control of your worry / Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg
Learn ten simple techniques from breathing exercises and relaxation practices to thought-stopping techniques and strategies that put an end to catastrophizing once and for all.

My age of anxiety : fear, hope, dread, and the search for peace of mind / Scott Stossel
The author recounts his lifelong battle with anxiety, showing the many manifestations of the disorder as well as the treatments that have been developed to counteract it.

The anxiety toolkit : strategies for fine-tuning your mind and moving past your stuck points / Alice Boyes
While reducing your anxiety level to zero isn’t possible or useful (anxiety can actually be helpful!), you can learn to successfully manage symptoms  with tips and tricks you can employ in everyday life. You’ll discover how anxiety works and learn strategies to help you cope with common anxiety ‘stuck’ points.

Seeking serenity : the 10 new rules for health and happiness in the age of anxiety / Amanda Enayati
Seeking Serenity presents ten revolutionary principles developed from the emerging science of stress and reinforced by literature, philosophy and age-old spiritual wisdom that help us to differentiate between destructive and constructive stress, and to master stress in everyday life.

eBooks

jacket-aspxThe stress solution: using empathy and cognitive behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and develop resilience / Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, EdD, PhD
“We work too much, sleep too little, love with half a heart, and wonder why we are unhappy and unhealthy,” writes clinical psychologist Arthur Ciaramicoli. Learn simple, realistic, powerful techniques for using empathy and cognitive behavioral therapy to perceive situations accurately and correct distorted thinking.

Anxiety Attacks : Conquering Your Insecurities, Anxieties and Fears / Atcheson, Lucy.
Discover how and why your doubts make you feel trapped and insecure and how you can acknowledge them in a healthy way and break free of their negative influence.

10 steps to take charge of your emotional life overcoming anxiety, distress, and depression through whole-person healing / Eve A. Wood
Dr. Wood makes healing a simple process that anyone can understand. She walks you through ten steps that encompass examples, stories, exercises, and guidance. You’ll take stock of where you are and discover what you can do to transform your life.

Downloadable Audiobooks

jacket-aspxFreeing yourself from anxiety : 4 simple steps to overcome worry and create the life you want / Tamar E. Chansky
This book explains that the solution is not positive thinking but possible thinking. Armed with these strategies, listeners can achieve accurate perceptions of their lives that can liberate them from fear and perfectionism.

The mindful way through anxiety / Susan M. Orsillo, PhD
A powerful new alternative that can help you break free of anxiety by fundamentally changing how you relate to it.

Stopping the noise in your head: the new way to overcome anxiety and worry / Reid Wilson, PhD
Learn how to confront anxiety head-on. Drawing on a range of sources, from firefighters and fitness instructors to Sir Isaac Newton and Muhammad Ali, this book demonstrates the importance of shifting your perspective and stepping toward your challenges in order to regain control of your life.

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Help for New Years Resolutions

new-years-resolutionsEveryone has good intentions at the start of a new year, and why not? A new year is a great time for a new beginning. If you need help with some of your New Year resolutions, it’s the perfect time to take a look at lynda.com.

lynda.com is an online learning site with over 3,000 courses that’s available to all Cheshire Library cardholders. Login from the library’s website!

Here are some suggested courses to get you started on your new year! To view the courses in-depth, grab your library card and head over to our eLearning page where you can login to lynda.com.

smileHappiness Tips: (Weekly Tips)
Get a new happiness tip every Monday to help you live a happier life. Learn practical, actionable techniques for finding more time for the things you love and maximizing your day-to-day happiness.

moneyPersonal Finance Tips: (Weekly Tips)
Each week, receive a new tip, designed to help you make smart decisions about your money.

5 Personal Finance Tips: 9 minutes, 18 seconds.
This short course provides time-tested tips on managing your spending, managing your fixed costs (regular monthly expenses), creating a budget, investing, and saving money.

face-sad-sweatingManaging Stress: 21 minutes, 2 seconds.
With the right techniques, you can reduce the amount of stress in your life. In this short course, author and retired MBA professor Dr. Todd Dewett shares his tips for managing stress, including identifying your triggers, managing responses, and making positive personal choices.

thumbs_upDisrupting Yourself: 24 minutes, 28 seconds.
Disrupting yourself is the secret to breaking into a new field, never settling for less, and achieving more. In this course, author, Harvard Business Review blogger, and consultant Whitney Johnson walks you through her seven-step model to disrupt yourself and move to the next level in your career.

power_fist_Powerless to Powerful: Taking Control: 60 minutes.
In this course, executive coach and LinkedIn’s head of organizational development Fred Kofman helps you make the choice to embrace life’s challenges, to go from victim to hero, and shows how to help others do the same through support and coaching.

push_back_timeManaging Your Time: 11 minutes, 11 seconds.
Learn four time-management tips that help everyone from busy executives to new employees get more out of their work day.

Time Management Tips: 43 minutes, 1 second.
Learn about everything from managing emails and calendars to setting priorities, reducing interruptions, crafting a “productivity mindset,” and creating a more comfortable and effective work environment.

chakra-meditationMindfulness: 1 hour, 16 minutes.
UCLA professor and executive coach John Ullmen, PhD, explains the fundamentals of mindfulness and provides step-by-step methods that anyone can use.

aide-memoireImproving Your Memory: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
This fascinating course explains how and when to employ tricks such as mnemonic devices, rhymes, stories, and alliteration. And it explains the best methods for different situations, like remembering names, important dates, passwords, to-do lists, quotes, and more.

3 Ways to Enjoy a Minimalist Holiday

christmas-fireplaceA blog post that dares to ask the question, is it possible to celebrate the holidays without the clutter and overabundance that characterizes most households during December? Let’s rephrase that: is it possible to do away with the clutter and overabundance and still have a fun holiday?

You bet! First, study after study has shown that happiness comes from experiences not from things. Second less stuff means less stress. Third, fewer gifts equals more money, and more money is the equivalent of greater peace of mind.

Of course minimalism does not mean no gifts. It just means less. It means fewer, more meaningful remembrances for loved ones. Think quality, not quantity.

Make and Give Homemade Gifts.

jacket-aspxFor instance, Country Living Christmas Joys: Decorating, Crafts & Recipes has chapters titled “Handmade gifts from the heart” and “Homemade Gifts from  the kitchen”. Gifts of food are great because they are an experience, both the making and the eating. And food is a gift that leaves nothing behind but good memories.

Enjoy Shared Experiences.

jacket-aspxShared experiences are another memory-maker that creates fun and costs little to nothing. Family holiday movie nights are a great way to celebrate all month long. Make special treats and check out a holiday DVD or blu-ray or stay in the warmth of your house and download a Christmas movie.

 

Give.

jacketAnd let’s not forget the gift of giving. The Giving Way to Happiness : Stories and Science Behind the Transformative Power of Giving by Jenny Santi discusses the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, and makes the case that the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us.

It’s simple. Cook. Eat. Share. Laugh. Give. Enjoy.