One Hundred Story Summer: Adventure in Empathy, Week 1

Last week, I shared my plan to read one hundred stories this summer.  While I allowing a wide open field, any fiction counts, I also have some intentions for my grand adventure.

  • Read authors from many backgrounds, not just white folk.
  • Gain understanding and empathy for lifestyles and cultures unlike my own.
  • Learn about culture.
  • Focus without being “busy”
  • Re-visit well-loved favorites.
  • Have conversations about fun, interesting, difficult or controversial issues.
  • Gain a better understanding of myself.
  • Have fun.

I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to lose myself in a book.  I’ve used books as escape, comfort, adventure, and for companionship.  My reading ranges across most genres. I generally go where ever my reading muse takes me, a pattern I will follow this summer too. However, I also plan to be more intentional and self-aware in my reading.  I want to get outside my own experience and as Atticus Finch prescribed, “climb into [someone’s] skin and walk around in it.”

I can’t be another ethnicity, or change my cultural upbringing, but I don’t have to accept it as the superior or majority experience. Essentially, I hope to increase my ability to empathize with someone I may never actually meet. Expanding my experience, even my reading experience, with the human condition will help me connect with humanity instead of ignoring it, or worse, judging it.  My summer reading adventure is active resistance against the callous indifference generated by a constantly overwhelming news cycle.

This week started off wonderfully.

What I read this week

Underground Airlines

I shared a bit about this book last week, having just started it that morning. This served as the third book in an excellent book grouping covering the themes of slavery, racial ethics, and race relations.

Underground Airlines approaches these issues from an alternate reality. Abraham Lincoln does not become President and thus, never implements emancipation. The ramifications of this change reach farther than I could have imagined. The ideas of power, freedom and survival are deftly woven as a fast-paced thriller filled with double-cross and deception.  I loved every minute of it.

This is How It Always Is

I heard about this book on the What Should I read Next podcast. After hearing Anne Bogel of WSIRN call it a favorite of the year, I grabbed it off the New release shelf at the library without looking inside the cover. Here is what met me when I finally did.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

What follows is an exquisite exploration of the things which determine who we are (hint: it’s not what’s under our pants), and how those things may constantly change.  It’s a beautiful exploration of family, relationships, acceptance and humanity. The subject matter is incredibly important and is handled with equal parts of humor and heartache. Full of hope and secrets, fairy tales and sibling rivalry, this story has impressed itself on my soul. Rich and detailed writing make a great story into a beautiful journey.

The Grownup 

 This book keeps showing up on my recommended reads list on Amazon. I enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but I haven’t read anything by her since. When I saw it sitting on the end of the library shelf last week, I snagged it. This book is only sixty pages having been originally published in a collection of paranormal stories by George R R Martin. Honestly, I’m glad to have finished it in less than a hour. Because it was so short, it felt rushed. There was no time for character or atmosphere development.  The ending felt jumbled by too many possible twists, too conveniently assembled. It seemed as though it wanted to be haunting and mysterious in the vein of James’ turn of the screw, but that’s a feat which cannot be managed in so short a time. I’ll read more Flynn for sure, but I won’t recommend this one to anyone.

Those who Journey with me: Voices in my Head Pt 2

Yesterday I wrote about finding the courage to tell my story, and why telling our stories matters.  I’ve been writing about the three boxes: order>disorder>reorder.  Until now, my journey through the box of disorder has been like my dirty little secret.  I don’t often talk about publicly about this because it makes people uncomfortable, or it looks bad, or it’s not what’s expected from someone in my position. Honestly, much of the pressure to not talk is internal. I struggle with a high level fear of rejection, for obvious reasons, but as I said, that’s not the narrative I’m accepting anymore.

Church is a funny sort of creature, both the theological construct and the various local tribes. In order to belong, we have to believe and practice certain things. Over time these things become sacred, unquestionable. They are the way things are, the markers which come to identify who is in the tribe, and who is not in the tribe.  When we start to question these markers, the push-back can be both cruel and severe. Or sometimes it’s more subtle, a quiet and gentle withdrawal, a dismissal delivered congenially behind closed doors. Whatever the method, it hurts, deeply. I’ve seen it happen in multiple ways in my own life and watched it happen publicly and terribly to others.

Which is why I kept my own counsel, mostly.  Fortunately, I’m a reader, so I relied on what came most naturally to me to find support. I went to books. Books turned to podcasts. I found a few lovely, courageous people who were also deconstructing, who could sit with the questions I asked, and who honored me by sharing their own. I may most often wish to be a hermit, but this process of deconstruction is nearly unbearable without some form of community. 

Today I want to share a few voices that have meant the most to me over these last few years. Perhaps you need them too, or maybe you will one day.  

7: an Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and Beauty will Save the world by Brian Zahnd.  I credit these two books as the ones that started it all. Or perhaps it’s better to call them the books which finally gave permission for me to explore a different way of faith.  They gave voice to what had already begun to stir in my soul. They are spiritual catalysts.  Brian Zahnd went on to publish Water to Wine last year, a semi-autobiographical account of his own disorder/reorder journey, which I devoured in two days.

Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar.  This is the book which helped me believe I was not crazy.  All the emotional wreckage I was sorting through, I found in this book. I read story after story of those who also survived the journey. I learned how they did, and that no two journeys are exactly the same. Faith became mysterious, organic and impossible to predict. I learned there are paths for those of us who leave The Path too.

Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty and The Bible Tells Me So.  I read the Bible Tells me so before I read Sin of Certainty, mainly because the second book wasn’t published yet. When I recommend them to others, I advise reading them the other way around though.  The Sin of Certainty is another journey of disorder story, encompassing faith from many aspects and embracing the idea of mystery, questions and the unknowable. The Bible Tells Me So deals specifically with scripture, introducing alternate perceptions and various accepted theological understandings.  For those of us who have learned there is only one way to look at scripture, this is a doorway to a whole new world, inhabited by more than just heretics and fringe lunatics.

Brian McLaren – A New Kind of Christian and A Generous Orthodoxy.  One thing I appreciate about these new-to-me authors and their stories is their overarching willingness to say, this is what I think, but I might be wrong. I’ve never lived in a spiritual space where the possibility of being wrong was tolerable. Being right has always been very, very important. But Brian’s is a voice willing to speculate, to have a conversation. He makes room.  It’s feels not only refreshing and lovely, but welcoming and safe.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans and Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey. I could write for days and days the way these two brave, beautiful souls have ministered to me through their words and witness. I desperately needed women of faith who’d been on this journey too. Their pain and their passion mirrored my own; their desperation to know God in a way they hadn’t previously even known was possible, made it possible for me as well. Because they shared their story, I believed I, too, could reconstruct a living faith eventually.

There are others, many others, voices I am just discovering or ones that would take me down rabbit trails to a dozen other titles and voices if I listed even one more. 

I want to finish by listing a few podcasts which have also helped my sanity tremendously.

Rob Bell, the Robcast – Far and away the voice I have relied on most heavily in the podcast world.

The Liturgists – generally topical, this podcast provides the voices of several folks as well as guest speakers.

The Deconstructionists – A great podcast for those who are deconstructing, but who also want to connect and reconstruct in new and exciting ways.

Brian Zahnd – As the voice who started all of this, I seldom miss his weekly sermon. When I need a reminder to inhabit the Kingdom and reject the empire, Brian delivers.

Greg Boyd – Greg is new to my list of voices. I hear his books would probably also make my booklist above, but so far I have only enjoyed his podcast. Challenging, engaging and relevant. He’s currently at the top of my list.

The voices in our head: Why story matters

I relied on many voices to help me through the box of disorder. Of all the voices who share about their experiences, Rob Bell’s is one of the kindest, wittiest and most inspiring in my world, currently. Each week, when I listen to his podcast, I find myself agreeing, stopping to swear (which is apparently how I voice my agreement when it’s too strong to keep inside), or sending quotes and links to anyone who will listen. Most people aren’t as excited as I am, probably. Having felt alone for a very long time, I throw connecting moments out like candy from a parade float and hope it reaches someone who really needs it.

Anyway, I was listening to the Robcast recently, specifically, The Importance of Boredom (weeks later and this is still rolling around in my soul so maybe you would like it too). He tells the story his wife’s experience with pregnancy induced asthma, which was terrifying. After the trauma of daily fearing for her life, she would talk with Rob about her story: how it felt, what happened, what she thought, over and over. She talked about it every day until finally the experience was actually in the past instead of continually happening to her in her mind.

Trauma is like that.

It isn’t only mental. It’s physical. It’s on our cells. Scientists can find it in our hair and our fingernails months after the events themselves. We carry it, and often we carry it silently, pushing it down into deep dark corners and hoping it will just go away.

But trauma is not like that.

Trauma grows in dark places and secrets. It gets bigger, and hairier, and meaner. The only true cure for trauma is light and love. Light and love over time, sometimes a long time. Sometimes days and weeks and months of bringing our trauma out into the light until finally it begins to fade, never leaving us entirely, but certainly becoming more like all the other events that make up who we are instead of THE event which defines us.

Love and light and time.

I listened to this podcast within the first few days of deciding to write for one hundred days. When I heard this part about trauma I wanted to yell, That’s it!!! to anyone who would listen.

Over the last seven years, aside from my messy spiritual disintegration:

  • we’ve been kicked out of church,
  • lost our home,
  • filed for bankruptcy,
  • my brother endured his own trauma of stage 4 colon cancer,
  • my mom had a melanoma on her face,
  • two of my three children have graduated,
  • all three children have started college,
  • we’ve lost two close friends to suicide and
  • endured several episodes of “not the same, but feels the same” as my previous spiritual abuse.

But only some of these things are socially acceptable to talk about, or at least, that’s the message I received. The rest are private, or make other people look bad, or are bad for the church, or so many other reasons why it was simply easier to not tell my story.

So I didn’t. And in the dark spaces it grew teeth, and claws, and these things became who I am instead of just things that happened to me. Because I couldn’t put them in the past where they belong, they jumbled up and piled up, and stacked up, always in my face, always part of my present, always something I had to be afraid and ashamed of. Always.

Every single day.

Until I finally decided that the chips will fall where they will. It’s time to let my story out. Again and again. As many times as I need to share it, until finally, it becomes merely part of me instead of defining me.

So you’ll forgive me if you’ve heard this one before, but I’m not done telling my story yet. Even though it’s no longer happening, I’m still living it inside. I’m still understanding all the ways it broke me and strengthened me and changed me. Stories matter. They are how we heal, how we tell the voices in our head what really happened.

Maybe you have a story too. Maybe it’s big and scary and ugly and all up in your business day after day. I encourage you to find a safe space, a person who loves to hear the same story time after time, a recovery group, a therapist. Tell your story; bring it out into the light. Let someone love you right in the middle of that great, big, hairy-scary mess.

I promise, pinky-swear even, with light and love over time, it really does get better. It never goes away, but we learn to live with it. The weight becomes bearable, and we become ourselves again.

The Box of Disorder: How I survived when I burned it all down

A few weeks ago, before I lost my brain to whole 30 and fourteen unexpected schedule crises, I wrote a bit about the three boxes: order< disorder< reorder. I learned about these boxes from Richard Rohr. Whether or not he originated the thought, I don’t know. I’m just glad I heard him speak of them. You can read about order here and disorder here. But I want to take a bit longer and talk about my own disorder story.

I believe everyone’s journey is unique; we don’t all walk the same path even when we are headed in the same direction. But I also know there is power in “me too”, and it’s very important for those of us on the disorder journey to hear this, because it can be an extremely lonely time.

I wrote earlier that sometimes the disorder starts with a simple question, and so it did with me. Back when I used to love to study scripture – a feeling it’s hard for me to remember now; the Bible and I approach each other gently now, like lovers who said too many horrible things in a fight and haven’t fully recovered – I read something which contradicted everything I’d been taught about Jewish people. Namely, they missed the boat in Jesus and so were lost to salvation. But what I was reading, didn’t support this idea at all.

Excited by my ‘discovery,’ I began to share with others. Their response is what you probably expect.

No. You’re wrong. God doesn’t work like that.

Their utter refusal to even entertain these, to me, exciting and beautiful revelations left me feeling diminished. Their tone when they rebuked me left me feeling ashamed. Questions open the doors to dangerous ideas; we sure don’t want to go down any slippery slopes.

Except I did.

I could write for days and weeks if I enumerated all the reasons the cracks in my iron-clad theology grew, personal relationships became strained and snapped. The dissonance in the doctrine I knew and what I was actually finding in scripture was too loud. I knew too much of what happens behind closed doors in churches (hint: people I placed unfairly on pedestals acting altogether human). All these things contributed their weight.  I struggled, floundered and pushed back.

Then we were kicked out of church.

I know now, after years of struggling with this huge, suffocating burden, that pushing back against the system was only part of the reason for our eviction. Ego, dysfunction, resentment and jealousy took part in the decision. I was not innocent of some of the uglier motives, but I no longer believe I deserved what I got. For years, I carried the weight of responsibility for this eviscerating event. When I took it upon myself, I also decided I would be the one to fix it and prevent it from ever happening again.

Obviously, the way to prevent pain was to be the best little evangelical pastor wife I could be. You can’t evict perfection, right?

I threw myself into my wifely position at our new church home attending all the services, promoting all the programs, keeping the nursery. I crossed all the t’s, dotted all the i’s and made countless covered dishes. The box of order was my security blanket, the thing that would keep me from ever being hurt again.

Except I kept getting hurt. Human relationships are messy; we can’t avoid hurt in this world unless we remove ourselves to a desert cave. Even then, we may still end up wounded. My wounds only added to the internal pressure I felt from denying all my questions and struggles from before. I couldn’t continue to embrace things I knew weren’t the final Truth and remain true to myself. If I embraced these dissonant doctrines, I was going to lose core pieces of my self entirely, and I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

The breakdown was not a lovely time. At all.

It was messy and painful. I ached and wept and railed in fury, isolated and shut down. I wounded people with sharp edges and anger. Honestly, I’m lucky to have anyone still withe me, who knew me before. I lost many along the way. Fortunately, despite all my fear of intimacy and strangers, I knew I needed professional help.  I spent many hours in the office of a therapist, a beautiful, open-minded soul who made space for my disaster and told me again and again and again that there was room in God’s love for even this.

That message, apart from religion or expectations or appearances or all the other things I hated about myself and everything else….Just God and space and LOVE…is the one thing I held, pressed right up against my heart, tight, tight, tight, tight.

Then I razed the rest.

Once I knew, really knew, God’s love held room for my disaster, I wanted nothing else. I wanted to rebuild my self piece by piece: likes, dislikes, theology, philosophy, relationships, dreams, hopes, all of it. Everything. Nothing was sacred, not even the sacred.

But first, I sat in the ashes. I mourned. I wept. God made space for it and me even as I railed against Him for my own decision. I cursed Him for my lonliness. I turned away from Him in my disappointment. But even in this, I found space. I found love.  Companions sat with me in the ashes, wisely speaking no platitudes, correction or rebuke. Simply bearing witness to the death of so many things.

Not everyone experiences disorder on this scale, but some do. I foolishly built my identity on something which couldn’t last, so when the time for disorder came, as it does for all of us, most of my identity disintegrated with it.

But there’s hope. Always hope. While we are still in the box of disorder hope does not leave us. In fact, it builds the bridge to the box of reorder, which is where we are going next.

Someone else’s weather: Because some days you write a poem instead

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When dreams are dry and meaning rises slowly.
Wondering, bemused,
What would I wear today?
If I walked someone else’s streets
Instead of these familiar places where stories taste stale.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When home seems unfamiliar and the walls too tight.
Wondering how the wind sounds
Sweeping someone else’s streets
Singing in the trees or playfully cavorting through wide open spaces.
Wrapped in smells sharp and sweet
Or tantalizingly filled with the scent of hurried humanity.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When the hour is late and night lingers long.
Imagining my surprise when
Someone else’s sunshine wakes me
Is it ocean or mountain, or buildings high and blaring horns
Waiting to greet my rumpled face when I peel back the curtain?

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When choices are spare and hope runs fickle
While thunderclouds billow across my soul.
When someone else’s possibilities seem more likely
Than anything brewing at home.
I watch the weather and imagine myself
growing under someone else’s sun.

 

Sometimes I try and try to force words out that seem relevant or witty, and who reads poetry anyhow? (Hi Heather! I see you there waving) But today was a day when the words wanted to say what they had to say. Not a bad day or a challenging day or a day when anything is wrong at all. It’s simply not always up to me what comes out and when, or what form it takes. So if today is too weird and poetical, that’s ok. We all get to be who we need to be, and grown-ups don’t have to read books-or poems, or blogs-if they don’t want to. But sometimes, writers really do have to write them.

Minimalism and Flexibility: How to stay sane when everything happens at once

When I woke up this gloriously cool morning, I thought to myself , “Man it’s nice to have a slow paced Monday ahead.”  Then everything changed, and suddenly, I’m filling-in, rearranging, TCoB and all the other things that happen on a not-relaxing day.

And it’s ok. It really is.

One of the things that’s great about my life right now is my level of flexibility. Partially because I’m in an in-between season, but mostly I have minimalism to thank for the space to manage a day when all the unexpected things happen at the same time.

Last week I wrote about my obsession with moving and changing things (we have a new smaller bed arriving today, whoo hoo!). Seeing my stuff through a minimalist’s eyes has certainly reduced the amount of belonging in my home. But minimalism isn’t really about stuff. It includes stuff, and for me it began with getting rid of stuff. At it’s heart, minimalism is about making space for what’s most important, and embracing those things fully.

While minimalism may have started with my stuff, it became about making space for who I am. Minimalism is why, when I reached the end of my ability to function without some alone time last week, I was able to move everything aside and make space for self care. I’m not flexible because I have a clean counter-tops, but because the commitments I make on my calendar, to my family, with my friends and for myself are all things which matter most, instead of a jumble of possibly good opportunities with no real relationship to who I am. Breathing space matters, so I make room for it. I schedule it in, and I honor that commitment without guilt.

It takes some courage to apply minimalism to my schedule. It means sometimes I am generous with my No. For instance, we’ve filled May with delightfully fun and celebratory events for people I love deeply, including myself–BIRTHDAY GIRL! Plus, I have two weekly commitments for ministries in which I am heavily invested. Which means anything else that comes up is 99.5% likely to receive a no response.  Yes, I may disappoint people. They may feel I, somehow, let them down. Maybe, but probably not.

The thing is, I have a tendency to see myself with an inflated sense of self-importance. I like to believe I am needed by more people than I am. This isn’t to say I am not appreciated; I am and I know that. But in many instances, I am replaceable, and I believe it’s very healthy to realize this. It doesn’t mean I am not loved. It means I understand where I fit in the world. This understanding is a very freeing way to relate to everyone and everything around me. It helps me make decisions without guilt or resentment. My yes is yes, and my no is no. Those to whom I am irreplaceable, my husband, my children, my family, my intimate relationships, they are the ones who will receive my greatest focus. Other things may be important, but they aren’t permanent, and that’s ok.

All of this self-awareness is possible because minimalism encourages self-exploration and discovery. I know myself better, because I have made space to understand who I am and how I tick. Clearing away the clutter, physical, mental, spiritual and in my schedule, makes room for options and flexibility. It’s why I may feel some stress today, but not nearly crisis or meltdown level. I’ve made space to honor true emergencies, and still meet my most important responsibilities. Everything else is adjustable. It’s truly liberating to be able to say that and mean it.

Something Fun Sunday: Ep. 2, Poetry and the Dance of Joy

I don’t know about you, but after a busy week, I am ready for some fun! Even if my week is full of mostly good things, when I reach the end of a long stretch of busy days, I’m glad for a few days of breathing room at the end of it. Aside from tackling my demons, leading a community care class, and writing every day, I also managed to watch a season of Gilmore Girls. I spend a lot of time thinking about food since I decided to do a modified Whole 30, pescatarian style. Suddenly and without planning, I also changed my morning walk to a morning run. I haven’t run very regularly since the half marathon. I like me when I am a runner. It’s an activity that does great things for me even while making me grunt and sweat and sometimes cry a little.

Oh, and I came up with really fun summer reading plan for myself!

We’ve also experienced some heavy emotional things this week, so I’ve been especially glad of my heightened awareness of things which make me smile, and especially laugh out loud. So without further ado, something fun for Sunday.

On Tuesday we were so fortunate to be able to see Matilda the Musical at the Fox Theater. I didn’t know much about the show going into it, but oh my goodness! What fun! The music was so fun and whimsical. The staging was absolutely fantastic, and the actress who played Matilda was just divine. Way back in the stone age, Hunky and I met performing on stage.  Early in our marriage we had tickets to the whole Broadway season at Bob Carr auditorium. But it’s been so long, I had tucked all the memories of just how magical theater is away down inside. I’m so glad they are awake again now and that we got to have such a fun night.

(I’m also not at all sorry that I snapped at rowdy eighth grade boys mid-performance and made them afraid.)

Speaking of good musical theater, I had entirely forgotten about this gem of a show

I don’t even remember who posted this on facebook, but I watched it at least five times and almost laughed until I cried.

Speaking of genius, have you seen this amazing poem floating around this week? I truly love sharp and beautiful word craft, and this perfectly fits the bill. Ah, mansplaining.

MansplainAnd one more very quick thing, a book I have very much been looking forward to not only released this week, it went immediately on sale! Tsh doesn’t know this, but we are kindred spirits. Contemplative and longing to wander. She actually wanders far more than I do, so I’m living vicariously through her.  I was willing to wait for my birthday to pick this up, but instead, I caved, bought it on sale, and already started it. Lovely.
Here’s a link to the digital version, which is the only version on sale.


Tsh Oxenrider, At Home in the World

 

Friends, I hope we all have a week filled with beauty and laughter and the encouragement of friends when the first two are hard to find.

One hundred story summer: The beginning of a grand adventure

I’ve been thinking about summer–the long, hot, humid, stuck indoors summer–and how to make it more enjoyable.  Lately, adding reading to my weekly goal list has increased my reading time while cutting out the “you’re being lazy” guilt soundtrack. I thought about the books I read/ am reading this week, how even a fictional story makes a person more empathetic and increases awareness on very non-fiction subjects. These thinkerly thoughts birthed an idea, a sort of crazy, wonderful idea. Remember the other day when I said I love a numbered challenge?  I created a challenge, a goal and an indulgence all wrapped up in one shiny package: the 100 story summer.


Starting today, and going through Labor Day, I’m going to read 100 stories. True, it’s not quite summer but my A/C is already running, so close enough! Then, every Saturday, I’ll share about them here on the blog. After all, I have one hundred days of writing -81 now!- to fill. Usually, I drift through summer time, binge watching Netflix and finding ways to avoid being outside in daylight. This adventure keeps me out of the sun and focused on a destination. It’s the best of all worlds. Not to mention making a dent in the amazing hoard of unread books sitting on my kindle.


I’m going on a story adventure! You’re invited, too.


This week I read/am reading an amazing trifecta of racially related books. I didn’t plan to read them all together like this, but I’m so glad the due dates aligned on them to make it so. What an amazing journey.


The Underground Railroad – If you are one of the few people who haven’t heard the premise here it is very briefly. Set in pre-Civil War America, this story follows the escape of slave woman from the South to the North. The twist: the Underground Railroad is a literal railroad people ride from one stop to the next. The story is harrowing and dreadful in so many ways. While the railroad is an imaginary device, the rest of the story only seems surreal in its cruelty, hatred and violence. Sadly, those elements are all very real.  Yet somehow despite the brutality, the overwhelming theme is one of fierce hope, inspiring perseverance and the depth of courage within people who refuse to participate in racial dehumanization.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – This book has been on my reading list for a long time. I tend to believe that most books fall in my lap at exactly the perfect time, and so it has been with this one. This story seems as though it should be imaginary, a bizarre, dystopic, sci-fi depiction of medical science. Only it isn’t. It’s a true story about what happens (and is still happening) when when the ends justify the means, any means at all.


The misuse of Henrietta Lacks, both cells and person, alongside the echoes of racial injustice and poverty that echo through the generations of this story are heartbreaking. The author puts a human face on a biological nightmare by telling the story of the Lacks family, as well as the HELA cells. It’s absolutely riveting. I’ll be unpacking how I feel about this one for a very long  time.


Underground Airlines – I only started this one this morning, but after 78 pages, I am ALL IN. This novel is set in present day with a twist, the Civil War never happened. In four states, The Hard Four, slave labor, plantation style is alive and well.  I didn’t expect the author’s recreation of global economics and scientific and technological advancement as a result. Without the Civil War, it really is a whole new world. The social commentary is scathing and altogether too close to present day reality.  It’s a thriller, but so much more than that.


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Can I be Honest a moment? Thoughts from a disgruntled procrastinator

Can I be honest a moment? I really hate Georgia summer. I mean L-O-A-T-H-E with every fiber of my being.  I’m trying to convince myself that “at least the mornings are still cool; It’s not so bad.”  But we’re already running the air conditioning every day, and I’m super bummed about it.  If there is a hotter, more humid, more unrelenting place in the world, I never ever ever ever want to go there. Blech.


I started a modified whole 30 eating plan on Monday. It’s mostly ok until the evening rolls around. Then I want to eat all the things including actual non-edible objects.  I’ve eaten nearly a pound of pistachios in three days in an attempt to keep myself from throwing down cheese, or chocolate chips or rice or bread.  On Wednesday, I almost murdered every person I encountered including the people who are the actual lights of my life and my dog.  I’m over that now, but those evening munchies are hanging right on.

I can’t stop watching Gilmore Girls. Call me late to the party again, but I have never watched it before. I started in January (after we entered political bizarro world) and finally, I have made it to season seven.  It’s like I’m cramming for the world’s most caffeinated and cleverly dialogued exam. I’m binge watching six or seven episodes a day. Must. get. to. the. end. so I can live again. Yes, I will totally watch A Year in the Life. NO! No one has spoiled it for me, so keep your opinion to yourself, Missy! (Oh hey, there’s some of the Whole 30 anger).

I am the world’s worst procrastinator. It’s something I struggle with all the time, and while I have made huge strides with it, I still find myself putting off what needs to be done. Then I rush, rush, rush at the end and beat myself up for it. Isn’t that a mean way to be to myself? I’m just sharing this because it’s 6pm Friday night, and I am only now sitting down to write today. All day long, I knew I needed to do this but I didn’t. So here I am. This whole self-awareness thing, and finishing what I start thing, and being creative thing, it’s easier in the morning. Please remind me of that tomorrow.

 Seriously, what is up with Starbucks and unicorns? Why are people acting so shocked and appalled at this drink (which looks like fairy vomit if you ask me.)? I’ll sit down and drink a cup of Starbucks any day, but friends, all their flavored drinks are sugared up garbage. It’s fine if you like it because every person gets to make their own choices about what they put in their body. But let’s all take a deep breath and stop acting like Starbucks has crossed some sort of moral sugar line with their latest drink option.  If you thought it was healthy to begin with, unicorns aren’t the only delusion you may need to be concerned about.

Incidentally, I don’t know if it’s the dreadful advent of summer or the fact that I just watched a Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls–complete with snow–but today I listened to the first Christmas music of 2017. It may be a record. I swear it was only a song or two, but still. It’s April. My anywhere-but-here vibes are spilling over my holiday boundaries. Maybe I’ll just have a little mini-Christmas celebration each month on the 25th.

Just in case you thought I have it all together all the time around here, I thought I’d take a moment to be honest. Some days are good. Some are bad, and some you just lay your cards on the table and air the whole thing out. And now, I have another Gilmore Girl episode calling my name.

The intersection of margin and play: A Playful Manifesto reboot

Nothing feels more expansive to me than an unscheduled stretch of time.  When I take a day to refocus, I swear, I can actually feel my brain, my physical brain, relax.  Learning how to create margin in my schedule and responsibilities is an on-going process, but I am getting much better at it.

While I not looking at my to-do list and not vacuuming the bedroom, my brain was deliciously occupied with plans and fun projects for the summer (I can barely stand not to write about it today, but I’m saving that fun for the weekend. It’s going to be great!). I hooked new yarn and dreamed about our new bed. For a little while, I stood outside and glowered at the tomatoes which aren’t going to grow anymore apparently.  I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls, or seven. What?!! I’m almost done with the whole show!

In other words, today was great big unruly, lazy, restful enjoyment, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it. It’s true; I require a good deal of margin to be at my best, but I’ve decided my best is worth the wait.

Last week, I planned to start a sort of throw-back Thursday theme, sharing writing which originally appeared on the Middle Places blog (A moment of silence, please.  They were good years). Instead, I decided not to stress over an in-depth project today.

However, while I was sorting through the word treasures, I found this fun little piece from last summer, which completely fits my mood today.  I remember feeling full of hope and inspiration when I wrote it. Which helps me believe that maybe I don’t hate everything anymore. Maybe I just hate some things, now. It seems a little writing, running, music, booking and hooking and great deal of margin is exactly what I need in this season.

So as a reminder to us all: The playfulness manifesto, a reboot

 

Playful Manifesto

Today, I will not lose myself in the mundane or the hum-drum.
Time is precious and happy memories last a lifetime;
No one reaches the end of their days with regret over unwashed laundry.

I may make a to-do list, but I reserve the right to leave items for tomorrow.
I may sleep in, or I may get up early to see the sunrise.
Some weeks I will do both,
And take naps.

Refusing to hurry, I will waste time.
If there is cake, I will eat it.
As often as possible
Yes! will be my response to myself and my loved ones.
I will read books that make me feel.
I will watch movies and eat popcorn.
Since, both ice cream and watermelon both have healing properties,
I will have second helpings of both

I will smile often,
Be in pictures with my family.
 The words “beach body” or “bikini ready”
will not be a measure of self worth.
I will wear pajama pants at inappropriate hours.
As the sun sets,
I will drive fast with the windows down and the radio on
Full blast.
I will live in the moment.
When I forget to live in the moment,
I will breath deeply and try again.
Then I will try again.
I won’t stop trying.

I will swim in the lake.
 Lie in the sun,
Rest.
I will stop looking at the time while rushing everywhere.

Playfulness is as important to life as discipline and responsibility.
I will not lose myself in in should and must.
Instead, I will laugh, because laughter is a miracle.
Embracing imperfection I will remember
just because I can’t do a thing perfectly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be weird.
or eat cake and ice cream for breakfast.
I don’t have to conform to the modern definition of anything.

 Now, let’s go out and play.