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Garden in the East: The Spiritual Life of the Body Paperback – December 15, 2016
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"Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, organization, and presentation, "Garden in the East" is very highly recommended."
"Carlson is writing about a whole, integrated, and flourishing approach to life, even as she addresses topics including comparison, setbacks, and balanced eating. As she learns to love her own midlife body, she calls her readers to cherish their lives and bodies instead of warring with them."
-Englewood Review of Books
About the Author
Angela Doll Carlson is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist whose work has appeared in publications such as St. Katherine Review, Rock & Sling Journal, Ruminate Magazine, Ink & Letters, Whale Road Review, Elephant Journal, Relief Journal, and Art House America. Her memoir, Nearly Orthodox: On Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition, was published in 2014.
Angela currently lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, David, and her four outrageously spirited yet remarkably likable children. You can find her writing online at NearlyOrthodox.com, MrsMetaphor.com, and hear her podcast, The Wilderness Journal, on AncientFaith.com.
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Angela's background as a personal trainer is evident in her deep awareness of the body. She uses her formidable skills as a poet to weave an engaging prose vision of the body's graces: organic, dynamic, sacred.
This book brought me peace with my body and helped me understand the rich beauty of being created. I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with their place in the world or who wants to grow deeper into a sense of their sacred selves.
“In my best moments, I am grateful to be walking around, upright and active. In those moments, I am not noticing the forward jut of my head, misaligned form age and bad postural habits built up over time. I am not worried about the creaking of my knees or my elbows. In my best moments, I am thinking about deep issues like world peace and schoolyard bullies and what’s for dinner.”
Oh how I love those moments when I am not obsessing over my body! For me, those “best moments” usually involve writing, editing, reading, or watching an excellent movie or television drama. Sometimes they involve music. Or taking in the beauty of a spectacular sunset, at the Mississippi River (three blocks from my house) or a beach on the Gulf of Mexico. I can easily pour out my love and appreciation for these things and places that bring me joy. So why can’t I express that same love for my body, my garden I’ve been given to tend? Carlson says:
“This body is a garden and it is mine. I am responsible for its care. I am responsible for the words I use when I describe it, even to myself, even when I’m alone.”
Carlson continues the garden metaphor, even laying out for us parallels involving loving and caring for both, which includes the way we speak to our garden. I’ve never been much into growing things, and I’ve certainly never spoken to my plants. But I used to talk to my cat all the time. And the tone in my voice told her she was loved, just as the tone in our voices sends a positive message to our children, our spouses, our friends. So how should we speak to our bodies? Carlson says we should tell our body that we love it. That it is good and strong and beautiful—an amazing mystery created by God and given to us to cradle our spirits and allow our souls to grow and be happy and at peace.
Maybe if I learn to talk to my body, I’ll eventually learn to love it. Or at least not to hate it.