Book Review: “Blooming Bare”

Cover illustration: Asher Berard

“Blooming Bare”

Author: Morgan Richard Olivier
Publisher: Concise Publishing (North Carolina, USA)
Publication Date: February 2021
Genre: Self-help, inspirational, poetry
Pages: 277

Written by Morgan Richard Olivier of New Iberia, Louisiana, this book is a collection of affirmations that you can read whenever you need a little reassurance or a big confidence boost. The book’s title, “Blooming Bare” is part acronym with “BARE” representing the four sections and themes of the book: Breaking; Assessing; Redirecting; and Embracing.

From the book’s introduction, the author states that she “so badly wanted to find my place in this world and in the hearts of the people who resonated in mind that I got lost along the way. I found burdens, bruising, and brokenness. Yet, in all of those, I found the awareness and meaning to push through my pain and see the bigger picture.”

I read the book in one sitting and found myself putting sticky notes on dozens of the author’s revelations (often written as poems) that struck a chord with me. For example:

An excerpt from Untitled, page 70:

We make time for people and things
that mean something to us.

If someone loves you,
they will give you their effort
-not their excuses.

An excerpt from Bigger, page 100:

Don't let small minds or small towns lead you to limit your dreams, make you feel stuck in their idea of you or cause you to believe that what you see is all that is out there.

An excerpt from Wait for It, page 139:

What's meant and aligned for you will come at the right time. It will come at a time that you are truly ready to handle, appreciate, and understand it.

An excerpt from Growing Pains, page 149:

If it doesn't help you grow, you need to let it go.
As difficult as it may be to release people, mindsets, and environments that are familiar to you-I promise the burden is much heavier whenever you try to carry them into a season where they don't belong.

An excerpt from I'm A Woman, page 244:

I'm not a princess looking to fit in glass slippers.
I'm a queen who is ready and able to shatter glass ceilings.

The following entry appears toward the end of the book (in the Embracing section), but it was my introduction to the author’s work when I first saw it on Instagram.

An excerpt from Unapologetic, page 264:

I'm no longer the “I'll always be there for you” type of person. It's not because I don't love you or because I think I'm too good now. It's because I know my worth and have to protect the person I'm becoming.

Without ever going into specifics, the author manages to relay the many relatable challenges she has experienced and how she came out stronger and wiser. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had when I was desperately searching and shaping my own identity in my twenties! If I’d had this book then, I would’ve been a little less hard on myself. The author’s words remind you to keep the faith because everything works out eventually.

Overall, this book serves as a soothing reminder to take care of yourself, specifically your mental wellbeing. That’s great advice at any age!

About the Author

Morgan Richard Olivier is an American author, advocate, wife, and speaker. Her goal is to crush the image and pursuit of perfection by captivating the raw beauty of sincere progress.

You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you purchase her book through her website like I did, she will sign it for you (just let her know when you order the book that you want it signed).

Valentine’s Day: Hearts, Roses, and a Poem

my untitled painting (2015)

I recently learned that there’s a big difference between « Joyeuse Saint Valentin » in France and “Happy Valentine’s Day” in the United States.

While the greetings mean the same thing, Valentine’s Day in France is for couples, so only partners would greet each other « Joyeuse Saint Valentin. »

However, in the U.S., everyone wishes each other a “Happy Valentine’s Day” on February 14 — it’s not just for couples.

It’s common for friends and colleagues to say it to each other, too. Thanks to the American TV comedy, Parks & Recreation, there’s even a “Galentine’s Day” to celebrate female friendship (on February 13). Many people also give special toys to their pets on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day at work

Valentine’s Day at work

Valentine’s Day at work

In grade school, we’re taught to exchange candy hearts and handmade cards with the entire class so no one feels left out.

But how can one feel special if everyone gets a “You’re the best, Valentine!” card?

A little creativity, thoughtfulness, and humor go a long way! One year, my younger daughter’s classmate gave her this delightful Valentine:

a Valentine heart, with arteries and veins!

Valentine’s Day is serious business

If only simple gestures were enough! For many people, though, it’s go big or go home. As if quantity or size equaled the measure of love one has for another, we learn to give/expect over-the-top experiences, like fancy dinners, hot-air balloon rides, or ziplining through treetops.

We give/expect enormous teddy bears, heart-shaped boxes of decadent chocolate, sparkly jewelry, and giant bouquets of fragrant flowers.

As a result, upwards of $20 billion dollars is spent on Valentine’s Day gifts and fancy dinners each year here in the U.S.

With the pandemic and restaurant dining restrictions still in effect, however, I wonder how Valentine’s Day spending will change this year.

What I know for sure is that my family and I will be having a simple dinner at home this year.

Every year, my dear husband and I tell each other that we don’t want any Valentine’s Day gifts. Then I coyly remind him that I’ll take one white rose (my favorite!) over a dozen red ones any day!

white rose: a symbol of purity, innocence, and youth

red rose: a symbol of love and passion

yellow rose: a symbol of friendship

Poem: Une amie qui s’appelait Rose

I once wrote a poem about an anthropomorphic/personified flower for one of my French classes. If Rose were a person, how would they feel?

Translated from French:

A friend named Rose 🥀

“I see life through rose-colored glasses…”

Someone sang

I will sing too

“I live the life of a rose …”

I will dance in the morning water

I’ll be there for you

You can give me

To your friends and to your wife

You can offer me to them

Have you quarreled?

Give me to this person

And she will forgive you

Are you sick?

I am the best medicine.

Are you dreaming?

Breathe me in.

I am real.

When you were sad, I was there

When you were crying, I received

Your tears – the water of your eyes

One, two, three

On my arms

I thought it was

The morning water

So, I started to dance

You were smiling

You were no longer sad

And then you discovered

That she still loved you

So, you continued your love affair …

While I danced

In my tears …

The water of my eyes for you

I wonder, “Is this the life of a rose?”

– from my book, “The Quiet Child – Poems” (2007)

🥀

Will you accept this rose? 🌹

These days, when I think about the gesture of giving flowers, popular TV shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette come to mind. After their incredible dates that include fancy dinners, hot-air balloon rides, and ziplining through treetops, the Bachelor(ette) asks their love interest, “Will you accept this rose?”

Thinking about my poem, perhaps one should be asking: “Will this rose accept you?” 😉

Gratuitous scene from Titanic (screenshot taken at dental office waiting room!)

What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day/La Saint-Valentin? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️🌹

Book Review: “Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back”

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back

Author: Alicia Cook

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Genre: Poetry; 240 pages

My thoughts

I enjoy reading and writing poems. I’ve even self-published several books of my own poems. While I admit writing them was cathartic, the poems helped only me.

The poems in the book, “Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back” are different. Mental health advocate and author, Alicia Cook offers poems that aim to help others.

I’m happy to see contemporary poems written in this sort of navel-gazing, confessional style gaining in popularity; however, the thought that so many people share similar trauma makes me feel a kinship and a sense of dread simultaneously.

Track Thirty-Three by Alicia Cook

The Devil's making lemonade
out of my dilemmas.
I'm not antisocial-
but I don't speak venom.
It's a slippery slope,
to deny it or cope.
Won't know 'til I hit water
if I will sink or float.

The more you console me,
the lonelier I get.
I know you can't handle
the loose threads in my head
I must be something to see,
weeping under the willow tree,
trying to get out the knots
in the necklace you gave me...

(an excerpt from page 40)

Since the book is a mixtape, the poems have track numbers instead of titles. I liked that I didn’t have an idea what the poem was going to be about until I read it. Common themes are love, grief, hope, with frequent mentions of anxiety, drugs, and alcohol.

At the end of each poem, there’s a name of a song and artist that the speaker of the poem is currently listening to, which is a fun feature if you love music.

🎧 (By the way, I’m currently listening to Courage to Change by Sia) 🎶

I recommend this poetry book to:

  • poetry fans
  • readers who think that they just don’t “get” poetry
  • people who need a break from vitriol

Overall, the poems drive home the point of a popular quote going around social media that goes something like, “Be kind. You don’t know the struggles others may be going through.” A smiling face doesn’t always mean that all is well.

In challenging times like these, especially, even a quick message shows you care. It could make someone’s day!

About the Author

Alicia Cook has written 2016’s bestselling book of poetry, Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately; 2018’s I Hope My Voice Doesn’t Skip; and 2020’s Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back.

Cook dedicates much of her life to shedding light on how drug addiction impacts the mental health of families.

She received an MBA from Saint Peter’s University and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Georgian Court University. She currently resides in Newark, NJ. She loves her family and iced coffee.

You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

To buy the book, visit her website or Amazon (this is not an affiliate link).

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

In 2013, I Wrote a Book of 40-Syllable Poems and Called It ‘Quarantine’

For the past few weeks, not a day has gone by without encountering the word ‘quarantine’ – usually used as a verb meaning “to isolate to prevent the spread of a disease.”

As a noun, quarantine means a period of 40 days. It comes from the Latin word, quadrāgintā, which also means forty.

Today is April 25, 2020 and it’s Day 40 of shelter in place (in Northern California, at least). So does that mean our quarantine is over?

Sadly, no. We still don’t know when restrictions will be eased or lifted.

I Wrote a Book of 40-Syllable Poems and Called It ‘Quarantine’

In 2013, the year I turned 40, I wrote several 40-syllable poems and published them along with some of my favorite snapshots at the time.

I called my project ‘Quarantine’ because I wanted to emphasize the theme of forty: 40-syllable poems written by a 40-year-old. Yeah, I thought I was so clever.

But not in my wildest imagination did I think that there would be a pandemic and that most of the world would be living under quarantine.

It was the furthest thing from my mind when I decided on a title for my book of poems and snapshots.

“inside/outside”

These days, I think about the word all the time. The idea that we may be in quarantine indefinitely has even inspired me to write a new 40-syllable poem that I call “inside/outside”:

outside

we show our shells

inside

we see ourselves

outside

we cover face

inside

a change of pace

outside

we are exposed

inside

beneath our clothes

grace, strength

who knows?

Quarantine book of poems coverBlurb.com

My gift to you

If you’d like to read my book, click on the image above. Then click on “Preview” to view all 40 pages.

I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.

Wednesday Postcard: San Francisco, California

Photo on postcard: L. Keenan

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco, California.

caption on the back of the postcard

“Founded in 1953 by poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics.”

For more information:

A Short History of City Lights

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, à bientôt!

Poem: Épine chérie

Translated from French:

Darling Thorn

Like a thorn

You hurt me

Like a thorn

You protected the flower

Like a thorn

You touched me deeply

Like a thorn

You made my blood run

Like a thorn

There is an untold number

But you were the one I wanted

So I picked you

But you pricked me instead

Like a thorn

I’ll remove you

And lick my wounds

Like a thorn

You’ll leave a scar

And I’ll look at it

While thinking of you

Because that’s all I have

As someone

Without a thorn.

🥀

From The Quiet Child – Poems

(c) 2007 Darlene C Alvarez (that’s me/c’est moi)

If You’re Learning French, Read These 3 Books

When my daughter’s French teacher recently asked for donations of new or gently used French-language books to add to her classroom’s library, these three books immediately came to mind:

  • Ourika by Claire de Duras
  • Mes parents by Hervé Guibert
  • Paroles by Jacques Prévert

book cover photos from Amazon

I had to read these books for my French classes and I recommend them to anyone who’s learning French.

Ourika by Claire de Duras

Published in 1823, this novella tells the story of a young woman from Senegal named Ourika. When she was a young girl, she was sent to live with a Parisian family, with whom she felt normal. All’s well until she overhears a snide remark that makes Ourika feel like an outsider. This novella explores her feelings as she tries to make sense of her racial identity.

Mes parents by Hervé Guibert

In this 1986 part-autobiographic novel, the author talks about his unconventional childhood and tumultuous relationship with his parents and other non-conforming relatives.

Paroles by Jacques Prévert

This one is a book of poems, containing Page d’écriture, which I had to memorize and recite in class. It starts like a counting song with a nursery rhyme melody.

Deux et deux quatre

Quatre et quatre huit

Huit et huit font seize…

Répétez ! dit le maître

Deux et deux quatre

Quatre et quatre huit

Huit et huit font seize…

Mais voilà l’oiseau-lyre

qui passe dans le ciel

l’enfant le voit

l’enfant l’entend

l’enfant l’appelle :

Sauve-moi

joue avec moi

oiseau ! …

Translation:

2 and 2 make 4

4 and 4 make 8

8 and 8 make 16…

Repeat ! Says the teacher

2 and 2 make 4

4 and 4 make 8

8 and 8 make 16

But look at the lyrebird

passing in the sky

The child sees it

The child hears it

The child calls to it :

Save me

Play with me

bird ! …

For me, reading these books made learning fun and my comprehension of written French improved considerably. These books are also relatively short reads, which I’ll admit is part of the appeal!

What are your favorite French books? Let me know in the comments below.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs

img_9316Do you need some new blogs to read or follow? These are a few of my favorite blogs:

From inspirational travel stories and gorgeous travel photography to mouthwatering recipes and heartwarming poetry, as well as honest reviews of books, products, and restaurants, the talented writers and content creators behind these blogs consistently inspire me. See for yourself and visit these blogs today!

What are some of your favorite blogs to read? Let me know in the comments below.