on August 10, 2012
This book is a lovely treat for any writer or anyone who wants to create more time for reflection. I joined the online "Questions" course (run by Fiona at Writing Our Way Home) in January 2012, a little bit midstream (the book is divided by seasons and starts with autumn), but the beauty of the book's structure -- and of life -- is that a year can start whenever you want it to. You can jump into "A Year of Questions" any time and return to it forever. It is truly a keeper.
As a bonus, I think Fiona might be a touch psychic -- I find that one question naturally leads into the next, and the themes often dovetail with ideas that have already come up in my own life. Or it could be that the course has raised my antennae for paying attention in general, which I'm sure is true.
Each week has a two-piece set-up -- a short but sweet essay in which Fiona shares her personal insights and experiences around a theme, such as "Feeling Lost and Being OK with Feeling Lost" or "The Secret of Life." She adds a few questions to live with for the week, along with inspirational quotes, prompts for writing and suggestions for how to explore the questions in the real world.
The book and the course have a gentleness that is carried over by the Rilke quote on which they are based: "Have patience with everything unresolved and try to love the questions themselves."
Two thumbs up for this deeply felt and expressed, juicy and accessible treat.
on October 2, 2012
This book is like an artful little poetry book - even though it's not a book of poems. Simple and profound at the same time. I love Fiona's way of saying so much with carefully chosen words. I read her other book The Most Beautiful Thing and loved her writing style. Her writing is so beautiful that I kept reading and reading this book, rather than sopping to do the exercises on my own! Ah well....I really enjoyed this thought-provoking book of joyful questions and was able to reflect on how they apply to my own life. If you like intriguing party conversations or contemplating the simple joys and gifts of your life, definitely check this book out!
on September 6, 2012
Really enjoyed this book! Flew through from cover to cover, as it was such a smooth trip from one section to the next. Insightful questions lead you to reflect upon your own values to determine what's important to you and help you learn to better focus on those bits of your life that are most meaningful to you. I know I'll be revisiting parts of this book to refresh my memory and reconsider the lessons offered. The book itself is perfectly suited both for a full "speed read", and also for a slow dipping "peace by piece". ;-)
on September 29, 2007
This book is a great read for those who appreciate a sympathetic companion on the road to intentional awareness.
I have enjoyed Fiona's sharp eye for the overlooked and missed treasures of each day regularly recorded on her "a small stone" blog. Fiona has the enviable ability to capture salient feelings, insights, and humour in a few choice words. Her gentle encouragement to face the complexities of being who you are is a happy antidote to the many voices trying to convince you to be someone you're not. Her friendly voice and cheerful enthusiasm are infectious.
I also like Fiona's honesty, and she starts her book the way I wish all books started, with a clear outline of what to expect from, and how best to use, the book. She wonders aloud about her reader, and through this wondering I felt included. What a thing to be included right from the start of a book. She gives her credentials, and answers the "why should you listen to me" question. Have you ever wondered, "Is this author's advice coming from an academic understanding, personal experience, or both?" Fiona tells you right from the start. Like a good writer should, she has ingested whole years of words, ideas, observations, and poetic turns of phrase, from countless books, and synthesised it all into accessible prose, studded with observations from her daily life. The beauty of literature married to the experiential.
Each selection starts with an anecdote or experience from Fiona's life, followed by some questions and a suggestion for the week, and a couple of choice quotes. The questions are not the sorts that have yes or no answers, they are the kind that make you look into space while your inner eye probes the neural web of your heart, coaxing out answers that you want to find. There are themes that run through the book such as simplicity, the importance of reflective thinking, and making friends with the difficult bits of you.
As part of the age-old and newly discovered wisdom of adequacy, Fiona appears to believe that her reader has the answers to the questions she put forth. Think how nice it would be to spend a year with a fellow traveler like that!
on August 29, 2012
A Year of Questions: How to Slow Down and Fall in Love with Life is a lovely book -- although the author comes from a distinct spiritual background (which is very different from mine), she is brilliant at ensuring it isn't the centerpiece of the book -- it complements her writing but doesn't intrude and so the book allows for everyone to be able to use it.
What I deeply appreciated was the fact that you can dip into it from time to time (it is divided by season) or you can read it all at once -- which I did because it was so helpful. The questions at the end of the little vignettes were slow, careful proddings into the conscious, and helped me think about the time I need to spend with myself in order for me to be healthy -- processing emotions, paying attention to how events are affecting me, and learning to be still and enjoy the sun on my face or the wind in my hair.
A lot of wisdom is shared through the book, and it was definitely helped by Fiona's heritage -- she's from the British Isles and you can tell -- the crisp, professional tone she uses, the vocabulary (delightful), and her polite, gentle affirmation of the need for self-reflection, quiet time, and time off.
I'll be re-reading this again once fall hits, in hopes of discovering more about falling in love with my life.