Archive | Beach Reads

Forever Changed

From the moment I learned that words created sentences which led to paragraphs which led to stories, I was hooked reading_little_womenon books. Thanks to my mother’s love of books as well, new books always made their way into my hands.

The tales of Dick and Jane soon led to Little Golden Books and it wasn’t long before I graduated from I Can Read to the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the adventures of Cherry Ames.

My reading world shifted when my thirst for more propelled me back in time to four young ladies coming of age during the Civil War. For the first time, a book made me shed tears upon the typewritten pages.

Yes, I’m talking about the unfolding of the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and Louisa May Alcott’s classic story Little Women.

Before I explored the world of the March sisters, books told me stories. Little Women transported me to another place and time. I wanted to be friends with Laurie and find a way to make Beth healthy. I understood Meg’s desires to be seen as a real lady. Though I knew I should have disliked Amy, I really wanted to sit beside her and comfort her when other girls made fun of her.

louisamayalcottAnd, of course, I wanted to create like Jo March.

Little Women opened my eyes to bigger stories and complex characters that longed for – and created – different ways of existence. Upon reading Little Women, I learned the books didn’t just entertain me; they moved me emotionally and allowed me to see the world through the eyes of the characters.

From that point forward, when I opened a book I wasn’t a little girl in her room in Mansfield, Texas; I was transported to other places and times. I wasn’t limited to being an unsophisticated girl in a small Southern town, I could be anything…anywhere.

I had forgotten about the world of the March sisters until I began researching places to visit in and around Boston.

As I looked at the details for visiting Minute Man National Park and seeing the place where the Revolutionary War began, I discovered that I could visit the place where Louisa May Alcott wrote the book that shifted how I saw the written word.

Visiting Orchard House became my top priority for exploration for my solo explorations.

Standing in the bedroom of Louisa May Alcott and looking out the window next to her desk, again I am forever changed.

orchardhouse_arrivalI fall in love with May Alcott for her desire to bring beauty to her family and believe that Amy is a mere shadow of her namesake.

And I understand Louisa in a way I never could as a girl. Her love of words and the desire to bring her family out of poverty by using her innate talent is incredibly admirable. Could it allow me to see the work I did during my gypsy years to keep my family afloat in a different way?

I am reminded that the words we read have impact upon us now, thirty years from now and a hundred years from now. And that the pursuit of our desires is beyond what the moment gives us; it clings to us for all the days of our life.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
–Louisa May Alcott

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Summer Love Notes Challenge #2

As I may have mentioned before, I spent at least a week at my grandmother’s house each summer. It was my mother’s mother and she lived in Waxahachie, a thirty minute ride from our home in Mansfield.

Being the only kid in a settled neighborhood, I had to entertain myself. Once I had exhausted the tales of the Soap

Little girl with a book on a tree branch

Little girl with a book on a tree branch

Operas, I escaped into my books.

Of course, I was always hungry for new stories, but it seems as if summertime kicked that desire up a notch.

When I first realized that the Oak tree in my grandmother’s front yard was perfect for climbing, I explored. Soon, I sought an old 2×4 to nail into the branches so that I could create a space to lean into. Thus became my summer ritual: I would take a pillow or two up into the oak tree and lean it against the board I’d nailed into it’s willing branches.

I’d finish breakfast and an early morning stroll around the block, then I would bring a bottle of Dr. Pepper and my latest book and climb up into the tree where I would perch until 11, when it was time for The Young and the Restless.
We watched her stories unfold and I got lost in the worlds of the characters, but when General Hospital concluded at 3 PM, I’d head back out into the front yard with my book, read and observe the world go by.

My favorite books were books that were a part of a series: Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames. I also read Perry Mason and any book with a series of characters I could get to know.

I would chain-read: one book led to another and another. I got to know the characters, and then they became my imaginary friends. Each book invited me back into their lives.

When I got older, my mother tried to get me away from such juvenile books, but those characters were comforting.
During the school year, I often read books assigned to me, but in the summer it was all about the simple act of reading for pleasure.

This year, I have rekindled my pleasure reading desires. I read a lot of serious books for work about psychology, relationships, and all sorts of serious topics.

But I also have given myself permission to read for the pure pleasure of enjoying the characters and their stories. From Cleo Coyle to James Patterson to Juliet Blackwell, the books I read for pleasure may not be of high academic summer_love_challenge2value, but they provide me with pleasure.

I may not be climbing a tree to read them, but losing myself in the lives of fictional characters is a delicious escape.

Recently I read an article about the rise of erotica thanks to eBooks. You can read anything on an eReader and no one really knows what it is. It often feels embarrassing to admit you’re reading “Hexes and Hemlines” to someone when they’re telling you all about their deep dive into the works of Dickens, but I believe that any book has the ability to transport us into a deeper relationship with ourselves by experiencing the lives of others (even fictional characters).

That’s my new Challenge to you:  Read for PURE PLEASURE.


Between now and July 15th, choose a book for the pure pleasure of getting lost in the story, not for it’s academic or social values. Just because you enjoy the adventures, trials and tribulations that only the pages of a book can bring you.

And while you’re out indulging in whatever Literary Delights strike your fancy, snap a photo and share it in your Social Media Streams (Facebook, Instagram) and tag it: #SummerLoveNotes – That way, we can all share in a love or Summer Reading!

Note: This Summer Love Notes Challenge #2 runs until July 15th.

About the Author – Debra Smouse

debrasmouse200x300 I’m Debra Smouse, a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle. I can help you detangle all your clutter, fall in love with yourself and your life, and unleash your inner sex kitten.

My truth? In order to live life the way you were meant to, you must fall in love with the day-to-day activity of living.

I spend my days writing and working with people who want to change the world, beginning with themselves.

A life coach and writer, me and my Gypsy Soul have stopped their constant roaming and have settled down in Dayton, OH where I share life’s adventures with the man of my dreams.

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