May I Be

Friday, June 23, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, I read a poem by E.E. Cummings that really resonated with me. It was one of those instances where the poem found me at the right time. My Mom saw the book (titled 73 Poems) lying at the top of a stack of poetry books and said, "Read number 43."

So, I did. And then I read it a few more times. And then I thought about it for days afterwards. And then I got out my journal and copied one of the lines down and drafted a little list of my own.

May I be...

holy
satisfied
full of joy
full of peace
patient
humble
GLAD
helpful
kind
compassionate
quiet

None of these things come naturally to me. Just being real. Getting to know people and deciding how we're going to explain ourselves to them has a way of bringing us face to face with who we really are. If moving teaches you one thing, it's the truth about who you are. 

People want to know where you came from and why you're here and where you're going. They want to know what you like to do and what you hope to do. They want to see you laugh and some of them want to know what makes you cry. 

You listen to their questions and do your best to give them answers. You ask questions of your own and you wait for them to come with answers. And then you go home and you  think about the people who already know you and you wonder how long it's going to take to get to that place with the people you're just now getting around to letting in. 

And then, you read an old poem on some random night in May and you carry it around with you and everything comes full circle. Your life is full and you are who you are, but it's never too late to think about who you want to be. You make a list and you trust that God won't leave you where He found you. 

And that's why I like poetry!

What's on your list of things to be?


What I've Been Reading

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My last reading update was already a few months ago. I've read some doozies, but I've also read some really great things that I have been soooo looking forward to telling you about.

  

Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham // I can't remember how I found out about this book...After my recent trip to Provincetown, I was in the mood for more MA. This book isn't one I'd recommend, but I will say that it was just as quirky and beautiful as Provincetown itself.

A Life in Letters F. Scott Fiztgerald // I picked this book up within 24 hours of being home from MA to take care of a little Fitzgerald craving I had. It was just what I needed. It's a monster of a book, but for someone as crazy about the Fitzgeralds as I am, it was a real treat. In July, I get to read one of his novels for the first time for the last time. Reading over the letters he wrote to his wife and his parents and his daughter and his friends and strangers and his wife's doctors was a great way to get to know him while I looked forward to the end of a journey. He was honest with people. He offered writing advice at every chance. I look forward to re-reading his books!

A Beautiful Place to Die by Philip R. Craig // My attempt to tell a friend what I had been reading when I had to admit to having just finished this book clued me into my true feelings about it. Craig has a whole series of these Martha's Vineyard mysteries (seeing the theme here?) and I had HIGH hopes. It was three parts cozy mystery one part where did that come from. If you're looking for a cozy mystery with a great setting, I'd recommend Laura Childs's Tea Shop series!

  

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier // This skinny little book took me nearly two months to get through. It was what I would call a literary thriller and it was REALLY good. For whatever reason, I just wasn't in the mood when I first picked it up. This one is for lovers of Mary Higgins Clark, whose style DEFINITELY imitates du Maurier's in the best possible way. I'd recommend saving it for fall, as it is just the kind of moody suspense fit for the days that are growing shorter and colder.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly // Towards the end of April, I found myself in a serious reading rut. This book club read helped to pull me out of that. We saw the movie before I picked up the book, but my friend Shauna provided the motivation I needed to stick with it. This books reads like a history of America and of both planes and rockets and of women and of civil rights. There's always more than meets the eye and Shetterly attempted to bring the truth into the open as she collected the stories behind the figures that needed a little solving.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles // Another book club read. This is the first novel to really hook me in months. It's formatted and arranged in a unique way. There is TONS of dialogue, but it's rapid fire conversation that keeps even detail loving people like me engaged. In case you haven't figured it out, this book is one I couldn't WAIT to tell you about. I was impressed! The nod to George Washington and the setting of 1930's NYC couldn't be beat. Up until the last section, I thought this might be one of those books that I'd be passing around to EVERYONE for months to come. Things went a little crazy in the last section. A little crazier than I'm personally comfortable with. And then, the Epilogue comes around and makes everything all better again. This is one of those beautiful novels that moves along even though not a whole lot is happening. There are characters you can't quite figure out and you have no idea what the point of the book is going to be. The words are crafted in a way that has you reaching for a pencil every once in a while to copy down a sentence you want to remember. If you've read this one already, please tell me so we can talk about it!

Coming soon is "This Side of Paradise"...I can hardly wait!

What have you been reading lately?

Life Lately

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 9, 2017
During my little blogging break, life was full of so many things just like it always is. 

I've been:

* Cleaning and organizing to prepare for and to make up for my time away. It's good to leave a clean a house. It's good to have a clean house too.

* Going to the movies in the middle of the night. Just before I left, I got a text saying we were going to  Pirates after one of my brother and sister's performances. I ran a brush through my hair and trooped down to the theatre in my comfy clothes. I even managed to stay awake for the whole thing!!!

* Watching my brother and sister do more of what they love on the stage. Shows and showcases and more shows. It'll be slowing down soon, but for now, we're in the thick of it and they're shining BRIGHT!

* Traveling to SC and GA and NC. I was gone for two weeks and have so very much to say about the whole trip. For now, I'll just say, I can hardly believe it's already behind me.

* Hiking every chance I get. My most recent excursions all happened in the south, but I've got plans for lots more in the months to come!

* Geocaching with whoever wants to go. My Mom and I did a brand new series here in town and then I took my Dad and my Aunt out for their first time while I was in SC. We completed my first ever geotrail and I am the proud owner of my first geocoin. It's the little things, you guys!

* Getting together with friends and family to eat and visit and stare at each other see the whites of each other's eyes. Texting and FB and talking on the phone are all great, but you cannot beat time to be TOGETHER in person. My two weeks in the south were alllll about getting time with people I don't get to see nearly enough. I'm home now and have continued my attempts to get together with people I don't see enough of since moving here.

* Holing up to write. Between writing contests, people reminding me to keep at it, and a couple of my favorite writers, it seems that inspiration and motivation are everywhere. I've been writing anywhere and everywhere and even saying no to things to make time to write. It's been good to recognize the place writing can and should have.

So, that's what's been happening with me...What have you been up to lately?







Another Saturday Night

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 12, 2017
Last time I wrote, Memorial Day weekend hadn't even happened yet. It still felt like spring and the promise of summer had me STOKED. Summer is here. I've been swimming and my trip to SC has come and gone. I've napped in the sun and sipped that first iced toasted marshmallow latte of the season (and taught you how to make your own). My freckles are back and everyone is commenting on them. Summer will forever and always be my favorite. 

I still haven't planted my garden. In fact, it's been several weeks since I've done anything other than sit out there to read which means a good round of weed patrol is going to have to happen before I can even THINK of planting anything. I wonder what kind of harvest I'll have now that it's as late as it is. We'll find out!

I've been thinking about the future and summer commitments and writing and what it takes to keep things straight. The answer to it all is staying in God's Word. The future is in his hands. The strength to keep our word comes from Him. The reason for writing is that storytelling is rooted in Him. Distractions and alternatives are all around us, but so is His truth. There's a rap for this...I've got my head to the heavens.

I've been in a Sam Cooke mood lately. It all started  several years ago when Joy the Baker mentioned a man that walked through her neighborhood singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" every single morning. Well, one of my characters listens to Cooke, so I have been too. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm turning into one of those people who "knows" their characters. This particular character drinks his coffee black and has a gray cat named Scott, in case you're wondering.

It's Saturday night and I made plans to stay home to get some writing done. So, I'm off to work on a fiction piece that's due in a few days. I'll be back here again soon. In the meantime, what are you up to this weekend?


On Making Time To Write

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


This post has been sitting around in my drafts folder since April 14. I've come back to it a few times to polish it up and I've finally decided it's time to share it here. Whether you are a writer or someone trying to make time for something else, I hope this post inspires you to stick with it! 

The writing life has a huge appeal to some people. The thing about writing is that it takes time. You have to sift through your ideas. You have to give your undivided attention to the task of arranging and rearranging words until an idea turns into something that can be passed around. No piece is ever truly finished even though you always have to make the call to move on and work on something else at some point.

I get the most joy out of finishing a first draft. I know it's good if it leaves me feeling a little breathless. The panic doesn't set in until after the final round of edits happen and I turn it over for someone else to read. All of a sudden, it doesn't seem good enough. I wonder what they'll think of my work and of me and if handing it over was really such a good idea after all. Which is ridiculous. The very point of writing is that people will take what you've written and enjoy it in their own way.

In a lot of ways, it seems as though my time in this town has made me a writer. I've used the time and routine that life here has granted me to push myself as a writer. To put myself out there. To hand my work over. To welcome people who know me in real life to this space (and to not be totally weirded out when they find their way here on their own).

There's a man from church that referred to me as "the writer" for the longest time. I didn't know how to feel about it at first, but then I realized that there was nothing wrong with that title. Last summer, I was out with my brother one day and a guy that was looking to hire him, turned to me and asked if I was a writer. I still have no idea what prompted that question, but for some reason, he asked it and I fumbled with just how to answer him. Back in February, I found out that someone I'd known of for quite a while is a writer. After I asked him about it, he didn't miss a beat before asking me if I write.

Writing has been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. It was something I did, but that I tended to keep to myself. It's a solitary activity. Something that you don't assume people will understand. Somehow I never gave it up. I kept at it. I didn't let my own doubts or fears choke it out. If I'm honest, writing isn't something that I decide to do, it's basically something that I must do. It's part of who I am.

I read about people's writing routines and how they make time to write and I feel foolish sometimes. There's the woman who pays someone to keep her children for two 3 hour chunks each week so that she can go write. There is Marina and her resolve to write for 12 hours each week during what would have otherwise been spent on a club that she didn't get into. And then there is me. I spend a fair amount of time writing. I have a notebook that I take with me when I have an idea in my head and expect to have some time to get it down on paper.

If I'm honest, I think about these years that God has granted me and I want to be able to look back on them knowing that I used them well. I want to make replacements of my own. I want to set aside time to write and I want to USE it.

The writing life appeals to people who know what it is to BE writers. They have teachers and friends and people telling them that they have to write and they know it's true.  My friend Jeremiah said something the other day that I haven't been able to shake...He said that it's so easy to write and yet even easier not to. And he's right. When you're a writer, the words come. Give yourself a quiet hour and a piece of paper or a Word document and you'll be able to crank out 1500 or even 2000 words on ANY given subject. They may be junk, but they'll come. For people who write, writing is easy. Creativity feeds on creativity. Inspiration will come in the shower, at a stop light, in the grocery store, in the garden, and sometimes even in your sleep.

But, Jeremiah is right. It's even easier not to write. To let the days turn into weeks where you don't get anything down or where you don't go back to what you wrote in order to turn it into something better. To keep what you've written to yourself and to let it die in a dusty old notebook or some forgotten folder on your computer. It's easier to come up with excuses of things that you could or should be doing instead of writing than it is to set aside time to write and to discipline yourself to make the most of that time.

Here I am...With all kinds of spare moments to work on a novel or on essays that I could submit to contests and literary magazines. With something that is some kind of gift. With the opportunity to be the writer that God seems to have made me to be. I don't always know what kinds of words I should put down or what kinds of stories I should tell. Here's to making the time and using the time and doing what it is we've been put here to do. Whatever it is, we can't take the easy way out. We've got work to do.

What's the thing that you are called to put time into?