Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

Thebull

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Well I've decided to join the party. I've ordered the four horseman trilogy and feel that it's a good time to read the books and see if I can open myself up to them.
I've struggled to read anything for a couple of years now so I hope the story's can spark my imagination and I can contribute to the thread helping myself in the process.
 

Arwenn

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But now, I find myself actually relaxing and able to check in on the world and see what a freaking farce it all is, and just realize that there is nothing any of us can do to change it for all those people who have chosen that mess, but we can DREAM of a different reality, and continue to send out a signal that we don't agree with the one we find ourselves in.
It’s nice to have something to positively dissociate to, that’s for sure. Some of these books are relaxing (because you know that there’s a happy ending) but some stories are so good, I’m literally losing sleep, staying up up late as I can’t put the book down! :lol:

I’m also re-reading the Wave, and there are some sessions and excerpts that really bring home the need for keeping up the positive energy (emphases mine):

Wave Vol. 3, Ch 24
Q: (T) In other words, if I get angry and realize that I am being more angry than I should be, and I change that to something positive, and feed that back to them while they have their amplifiers wide open, will that affect them? Sour their milk, so to speak?
A: Now you are “fighting fire with fire.”
Q: (T) Well, is that something that we are supposed to be doing?
A: Open. But what does phrase imply?
Q: (L) What they are saying is, I think, when you feel yourself getting angry, the only way to stop the whole thing is to stop being angry and be happy or at peace. When you are happy and at peace there is not in you the desire to send anything back.
A: Bingo.
~
A: No. If you choose, you may have only positive emotions
.
Q: (T) Now, if I have only positive emotions, which is a nice thing to have and I’d like to have that, what does that do to the sensor equipment of the Lizzies?
A: Cancels them.
Q: (T) So they are tuned to negative frequencies?
A: Yes.
Q: (T) Having positive feelings cuts off the implants. If I cut off the sensors by having positive feelings, what will the Lizards do?
A: Go elsewhere.

Q: (L) Be aware, though, that when you first start turning this off that they may increase their efforts for a period and then finally they realize that you are really in charge here and then they go away.
A: Exactly.
Q: (L) So, when you first get a clue and you start getting a grip on your emotions and dealing with everything that happens to you with acceptance and knowledge that all is a manifestation of your own creation and for your ultimate good, for a period of time they may try ten times harder to get you back as a food source, but then once they realize they can’t, then they do finally let loose?
~
Q: ...(L) The major point here is that knowledge breeds awareness which gives you the ability to detect it when they try to influence you in very subtle ways so that you can begin to control your mind and resist early on and that is the key.
A: Close enough.
Q: (L) And you have to be disciplined and persist with positive thoughts and feelings sometimes in the face of incredible adversity. No one said it was going to be easy, but it is worth it.

Wave Vol.3, Ch 26:
Q: (T) When we put out energy as positive or negative energy, there are beings on other levels that feed on this energy. Is this true?
A: Yes.
Q: (T) Okay, and you said that the Lizzies feed on the negative energy?
A: Yes.
Q: (T) Who feeds on the positive energy?
A: You do.
Q: (T) How do we feed on the positive energy?
A: Progression toward union with the one, i.e., level 7.
Q: (L) In other words, you fuel your own generator instead of fueling someone else’s
.
 

Seamus

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I'm not caught up with this thread yet... I started with @Chu's recommendation of Anne Gracie's Marriage of Convenience series and I just finished the first book Marry in Haste earlier today. I tried to keep what I've read so far in this thread in mind while reading the book, especially the advice to pay attention to how the book affected me.

I found this book to be a real page turner once I got into it. Its not the genre that I would normally choose, but I used to read a lot of fiction when I was younger and I love stories with good characters who grow and support each other and sacrifice for one another. I was surprised by how moving the resolution of the story was for me. I felt emotion welling up in my solar plexus and chest that brought tears several times in the last part of the book. I was relieved that there were no annoying romantic comedy cliches or cliffhangers at the end of the book. I was so relieved and touched by how the characters stood by one another and every part of the story has a happy ending. The villains all got their comeuppance and the fates were with the heroes and heroines. That's the kind of world I would like to live in.

I'm looking forward to starting the next book in the series, thanks for starting this project Laura.
 
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Laura

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I know everybody is busy reading, and that is good; but don't forget to check in here on the forum, follow the threads that interest you, and put your reading observations here. This is not a totally solitary activity! Staying "in tune" with one another is important!
 

Mariama

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I was most impressed by the closeness and camaraderie of the 4 male main characters. That type of friendship is rare and highly prized. The way they worked together to take care of problems was a great example of cherished masculine nature.

That is what moved me the most in the third book of Anne Gracie's "Marriage of Convenience" series where the main character is focused on finding and helping his mates, initially at the expense of his marriage OSIT, but then later on he finds a better solution which honours his marriage AND his friends. Stephen Covey calls it 'the third way' in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when we come up with creative solutions that help all parties involved, instead of compromising which could hurt others or ourselves. Reading these novels makes me realise that I have always identified with men more (a result of past lives, this life?), but that seems to be slowly changing. It's the reason why I could identify with the main character of the fourth book Georgiana/George as she was more of a boy until she got married and learnt to get in touch with her feminine/motherly side. The character also irked me, so that should tell me something. :-D

I loved the fourth book of the "Marriage of Convenience" series especially, because Georgiana is more proactive and seeks out advice from more experienced women who help her understand herself better, OSIT. In short, the power of networking. I am now reading Grace Burrowes's 'The Duke's Disaster' and see the same thing happening and it is really moving to see how the people around us can help us see ourselves and others more clearly.
I did not have a positive impression of the 4 romance stories. Being a healthcare professional I was taught of the many ways I could get entangled in an unequal/unhealthy relationship with patients. Each of the storylines triggered my 'don't go there' learned response. Because of the this I felt that their relationships were built upon a unequal/unhealthy foundation. They only achieved a resolution of their difficult relationships, to built a life of happiness under such flawed foundation, by an over active libido. I just could not buy the happy~ever~aftering.

I have a feeling that I maybe throwing cold water on these romance novels because the authors seem to enjoy the thrill of delicious naughtiness. Not that I would not enjoy such temptations but I only see the dark side of such romance because of my professional training. I am not sure how to get past this.
How about reading these novels as a husband and man instead of a healthcare professional, while being aware that your training may have primed you in a certain way? Just observe your reactions and keep reading?

These novels also teach us about ourselves, our buffers, our unwillingness to 'go there' where the going is difficult, the narratives we tell ourselves and so on.
 

loreta

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If I think about Ian and Beth in the book "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzy" (Jennifer Ashley), we can see that both of them "work" their emotions with intelligence and care. That is the basic, under my humble point of vue, of a good couple. If you are afraid the other will be there to help you, if you ask for help. If you are sick also. If the other is afraid or blocked, if he asks or she asks for help, help. Be a column for you companion.

It can take years, in real life. In a novel it take less. ;-D But the general idea is the same. Communication.


Ian is an Asperger that is ready to do the work. In real life it is more complicated, Aspergers do not see there is a problem. You can be like Beth, to no avail. Some Asperger make an effort to change, or to be aware of the consequences of their attitudes that are really, really dire for the couple. Ian is one of them, he cares, he knows that Beth can help him even inside the fear. There are some therapies to help Asperger and to help the companion. The difficulty is to make aware to an Asperger that he is one? I know because I live with one and sometimes I want to throw away the towel.

Beth is an heroine, without fear even if her life was complicated also. She is strong and valiant. I like her.
 

Scottie

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I knocked off Sons of Sin Vol 3: What a Duke Dares. It became my new favorite. I don't want to spoil anything, but it seems the characters become more interesting and their problems become a bit deeper as the series goes on.

But THEN I read SOS Vol 4: A Scoundrel by Moonlight. Just finished that one yesterday. WAWA WEEWA, that one's good!

Again, we have 2 retarded characters who learn to be not retarded as they grow on each other. I suppose I could relate to both of them better than the other books since they're both as stubborn as mules. I just couldn't stop reading Vol 4. It was not conducive to going to sleep early... :whistle:

One thing that occurred to me especially as I read Vol 4 was I found it kind of irritating that the male characters are rich, famous, and they all have some kind of history as being rakes to one extent or another. They're experience with women is generally limited to, um, ladies of the night, shall we say.

Then suddenly, they meet this one woman and they turn into gently caressing perfect lovers. That seemed kind of unrealistic. I mentioned this at breakfast the other day, and L pointed out that the times then were quite different - including the fact that there were "gentlemen's clubs" and gatherings of that sort where guys actually talked about 'guy stuff' in a more serious way. I dunno about anybody else, but that was sorely lacking in my own life.

That actually fits with the stories in Vols 3 and 4 as this group of ducal types each find the Woman of Their Dreams, one at a time... and they watch the other single guys struggle with themselves and their newfound loves while trying to help each other.

So, maybe not entirely unrealistic... But it did highlight for me the dramatic difference between the past and present. For example, the only "gentlemen's clubs" that exist today are the stripper kind. Also, it was quite clear in the past that while women may not have had the right to vote and that kind of thing, the idea that they were totally powerless at the hands of Evil Men is absurd. Or maybe: The idea that THESE particular strong women were helpless is absurd. In some cases, they were more powerful than the men. But in the end, it wasn't about who wore the pants; the point is how together, they both become better and stronger and more whole while sorting their own nonsense out - as well as that of their partner.

Well, okay, so these are idealized stories, for sure. Still, there is a stark contrast between then and now, especially in terms of traditional gender roles and the modern variants. And in all the books there is so much to see and learn from the characters' different internal struggles that clashed with the demands of society at that time. In that sense, I also find them kind of inspirational.

Anyway, I'm on to Vol 4.5 now, and then it's time to switch gears and read the "Marry in ____" series.
:lkj: <--- should be sleeping
 

genero81

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So I'm reading the first of the Mackenzie series and I was aware that after reading the more toned down Balogh, the sex scenes might be a little more racy, but :-O Anyway, after absorbing the initial shock, I was reading last night and as Ashley was ever so masterfully, and detailed in outlining one of those particular types of scenarios, I was feeling this incredible energy (obviously originating from the sexual center) radiating through my entire body. No wonder these books are so popular!

These days, pretty much every show created has to have a sex scene. But 90% of the time, I just find it annoying. It usually seems forced and unnecessary to the plot line. And I'm usually hoping it's short so it will get back to the actual story. But these books are an entirely different experience.

For what that's worth.
 

Yas

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I'm on the third book of the Marriage of Convenience series and I'm also reading the third book of the Mackenzies series in between. I like these stories very much. The Mackenzies series is a bit more spicy, true, but I think the author also deals with emotions very well and the characters become very interesting over time. The Marriage of Convenience series is very sweet, but it also shows an array of very realistic characters with quite a realistic psychological makeup.

As others, I notice that I can find bits of myself and others in the characters and even if the circumstances are somewhat different, most of the emotions resonate with my own emotions and the stories bring them up, giving me a chance to look at them again and talk about them even. Maybe that's also part of it. I mean, reading about these emotions can help us put words into our own emotions. What's also very interesting is that for some people, some parts of the novels are more touching than what they are for me, while some other parts almost made me cry. I suppose this is because we resonate differently with the emotions and circumstances that the characters are going through depending on our own experiences, psychological makeup, etc.

One of the most touching bits for me so far what the part in Marry in Haste where Em gets the support from her new family and her husband declares that he will always believe in her, despite all the rumors, despite the mistakes she's done. And the author also describes how she is not going to remain trapped by her past, and how she will do the best with what she has.

Then, in the second book of the series, I find it amazing how Lilly refuses to be a victim and finds strength to overcome the terrible things she went through in the story and in her life.

In the second book of the Mackenzies series, it was very touching to read about Isabella's insight on the fact that she was focusing too much on herself and her own pain, not realizing how she was loved by her husband and that he made sacrifices for her too.

So it's true that it may seem that the novels focus more on how men learn to love, as some have pointed out, but the women in the stories also go through a process of learning, in some cases, they learn how to understand their husbands, how to give to them and communicate with them, but also, they learn about themselves and how to overcome their own internal consideration.

I never thought these novels would be so inspiring. Even though the general story is a bit similar in all of them (and I think that could have something to do with what Arwenn mentioned about the Hero's Journey), the details are rich, because that's where you see different personalities, different people, who manage to work together, to become family, to help one another, despite what they've been through in live. Also, what is interesting is that these characters seem to assume their responsibility as in doing the best with what they've got. We don't read about their complaining on their circumstances. They may resist and reject some aspects of their life at the beginning, but they're not complaining, they struggle and then they learn to let go, to forgive themselves and others, to find joy and meaning in family and love.

Another aspect of this reading exercise that I've been thinking about is the aspect of the impact it may have apart from the cleansing and learning already mentioned. I was listening to a book about self-discipline yesterday and it talked about some research done on motivation. It talked about this idea that being able to visualize an aim connected with positive emotions is crucial in keeping people motivated and therefore keeping them on track to accomplish their aim. They talk about it as a source of energy, which reminded me that some have said here that they feel more energetic by reading these novels. So I thought that perhaps this could have something to do with what we're doing with the novels. They help us visualize positive relationships (not only romantic ones but also friendship and family) with positive outcomes, bringing up feelings of hope, joy, purpose, honor, strength, caring, etc, which help us create some sort of anchor, or maybe a compass would be a better word. They help us nurture those positive feelings and ideals, which serve as a positive force that moves us towards those very same ideals, especially because they inspire us to manifest those ideals in our lives.
 

beetlemaniac

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I had a session with my therapist yesterday where we discussed my new reading habit, and what it could be assisting in. I came to the idea that I was starting to understand what the attraction of these novels were, especially to women. I am finding myself becoming increasingly engrossed in this exercise. I'm at Sons of Sin 2 (A Rake's Midnight Kiss) after finishing the first book (Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed) - it's been a hectic rat race at work (which I want to disengage from) and I have not had the energy to read more but I have both kindle and audible versions which I can use together now that I've synchronized my audible account with the kindle app. I prefer reading text though, the emotions that characters are going through just shine way more than just listening to narration. I think I'm a lot more lazy when it comes to comprehending spoken word than written, which is a danger because of subconscious effects of the information that is delivered to the brain without any critical distance, so more psychic hygiene also required on that front.

But all in all it's been super fun and a guilty pleasure in a sense. I find myself looking forward to when I can go back to my dream world again when at work. Positive dissociation is at maximum in this case. I am also pretty cagey about my reading habits with other people, like last week I was speaking to an attractive female colleague and it came to my mind to talk about the romance reading but I held my tongue, it's like I didn't want to share that part of my life with her - it was too precious to be dispersed like that. I don't know if this is a good thing because I can gauge that she wouldn't have had too much of a "weirded-out" reaction from knowing that I read them, if at all, and is it being selfish to not want to share what brings you joy/pleasure/happiness?

Another aspect of this reading exercise that I've been thinking about is the aspect of the impact it may have apart from the cleansing and learning already mentioned. I was listening to a book about self-discipline yesterday and it talked about some research done on motivation. It talked about this idea that being able to visualize an aim connected with positive emotions is crucial in keeping people motivated and therefore keeping them on track to accomplish their aim. They talk about it as a source of energy, which reminded me that some have said here that they feel more energetic by reading these novels. So I thought that perhaps this could have something to do with what we're doing with the novels. They help us visualize positive relationships (not only romantic ones but also friendship and family) with positive outcomes, bringing up feelings of hope, joy, purpose, honor, strength, caring, etc, which help us create some sort of anchor, or maybe a compass would be a better word. They help us nurture those positive feelings and ideals, which serve as a positive force that moves us towards those very same ideals, especially because they inspire us to manifest those ideals in our lives.

Thank you for this, Yas. It makes sense to me. I had what I thought were positive aims in my job, to be more focused on my engineering field of expertise and it drove me on, but the fruits were little and frustration very high. I don't think the rat race in the corporate world is something which suits me very well and I'm trying to disengage from it. The reading assignment has come at a really great time when I find my energy being more and more subsumed into this corporate hierarchy - I have a secret place where I can live a different life and it gives me hope and anticipation which makes difficulties at work a lot more bearable.

Just finished reading Anne Gracie's Marriage of Convenience series of four books.

The formula seems to be the same for each. The surface, or world face, portrayed values, are underpinned by other, more hidden, natural strengths (that are unknown) by both partners. As time progresses in the relationship, often after a rocky start, each partner brings out the hidden strenghts in the other. The surface values are subsumed by each. By the time of the last chapter or so, tears are brought to my eyes (in each of the four books) with reading how the two partners have blossomed together with the once hidden, new, strengths fully to the fore and the bond between the two partners deepened and strengthened.

I really appreciated your comment here, Ollie. I'm wondering if, as we read these books, are we going through a similar process of peeling those layers of surface-level values to what's deep in our core, and maybe get closer to who we are, our own personal authenticity which could be connected to the emotional center that is cleared out and a sexual center that functions correctly? Essentially bringing in more balance into our functioning as individuals.
 

thorbiorn

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I come to a very interesting conclusion, and the most important is that these "books for women" aren't really for the women, but for everyone.
From Session 30 August 2009, there is an interesting comment:
30 May 2009

Q: (J) Who broke in to ________’s store?

A: In this instance it was just cabin fever craziness. But beware in the future. {The owner} should also be aware of his emotional vulnerability to "break in". He should read Pinkola Estes...

Q: (L) Women Who Run With the Wolves. But that's for women.

A: It also applies to men.
In the thread about this book: Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes there is some great commentary which I think also connects to what I experience while reading some of the stories attached like beads on strings in the books I have read in the Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell:
One of the ways this book works is by the use of stories and tales, by conveying a message through a story we put ourselves into, and become part of the story, one of those characters, rather then detaching and the subject being outside ourselves.
In the books I have read, the characters often have a part of themselves that is overshadowed by fear, trauma, ignorance, regrets or dilemmas and which hold them back from engaging with life. Reading the stories can offer a possibility to relate to and learn about my own fears etc. It seems to be working, and I can understand something I could not see before.
 

thorbiorn

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While reading the book, especially the last third of the book I remembered the C's session with Ceasar, from a few years ago, and the message that we get there that we must be true to ourselves and fear nothing. It was something like that I don't remember the exact words.
Funny you mention this; I thought about the exact same thing. Here is the passage:
Q: (Atriedes) If you could give 3 pieces of advice to the world, what would they be?

A: I was wrong to think I could change the masses by example. Humans are fickle and self-centered for the most part. Thus, if you wish to really effect changes, it can only be done by early education, and even then it is fragile and will not last. In the end you must be true to your own nature and fear nothing. If you do that you may make a difference after you are gone. That is not exactly what you are looking for, but there are no 3 pieces of advice that serve all events.
 

loreta

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These days, pretty much every show created has to have a sex scene. But 90% of the time, I just find it annoying. It usually seems forced and unnecessary to the plot line. And I'm usually hoping it's short so it will get back to the actual story. But these books are an entirely different experience.
You are right. Today sex is vulgar, gratuitus. In the novels is different. First of all the scenes are not vulgar at all but view from respect not just of the characters but of the bodies also. The bodies express emotion, warm, confort. The erotic scenes are also part of a relation, a relation with understanding, a moment of intimacy, something that lacks these days. And we can see a woman and a man doing something that is natural in harmony and pleasure. It is not ugly and it is not bestial. It is mental and physical at the same time.
 

loreta

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Funny you mention this; I thought about the exact same thing. Here is the passage:
The bold part is sad and not sad at the same time. That reminds me the way of seeing life for Etty Hillesum that I am reading also these days. She was what she was not only for her present, that was terrible, but also for the future, specially for the future. Not her future because she knew that she will die in a concentration camp, but the future generations. In her diary she insists on this idea very strongly.
 

thorbiorn

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That reminds me the way of seeing life for Etty Hillesum that I am reading also these days.
The Wiki about Etty Hillesum gives this quote: "Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold You responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last." It is also used in a video about her life available in 20 languages.

Now, if one relates this quote to the determination with which the female protagonist in What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin series by Campbell) defends love to the last, one might say that by defending her inner love, and what she truly believes in, fear is overcome - eventually also within herself. The difference with regard to the quote is that in the book, this love does change the circumstances while in the situation Etty Hillesum found herself, much less could be done, though she still managed to make peace with her parents in a concentration camp.
 
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