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Monday, December 26, 2016

What's Making Me Happy Today.

  • The cold, cold water in my pink bottle.
  • Watching Oliver circle through his toys and play with each one.
  • Josh enjoying the NASA jacket I gave him.
  • Oliver's love of green apples.
  • My metallic green pen.
  • Laughing on the phone with Mom.
  • How close I am to my reading goal!
  • Cracker Barrel memories. 
  • Looking at an unopen box of crayons.
  • The peace I'm floating around in.
  • Finding out that maybe I do like gravy a little.
  • The fact that no one is going away today or tomorrow.
  • Writing in pink.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I feel I've written a lot on this. I'm not as obsessed with snowflakes (especially ornaments) as I used to be, but I still love them.

When I was little, I watched Faerie Tale Theatre's version of "The Snow Queen." All the emphasis on ice and snowflakes probably fueled my later obsession. They seemed so enchanted.

Friends often gave me snowflake ornaments as gifts. They seemed to enjoy playing with that theme. Melissa gave me a light blue snowflake throw blanket and a set of snowflake dishes that I still use.

I used to find beautiful, big pictures, designs, or backgrounds in magazines, tear them out, and make snowflakes of them. I remember one perfume page full of roses; it made a lovely rose snowflake.

I have narrowed down my collection of ornaments so that I have no duplicates. I love the glittery mess they make. I'm not great at decorating a tree, but our tree is full of snowflakes and seems just right.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Christmas Spirit.

I'd really like to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I haven't for a few years. But I'm not too old--no one is. How can I do this?
  • Buy gifts bit by bit instead of all at once. Even if we have little money, I enjoy finding gifts. It requires creative thinking.
  • Bring in our little faux tree from storage and plug in the lights.
  • Maybe decorate the tree with my collection of snowflake ornaments.
  • Go on a Christmas lights drive. Oliver would probably enjoy that now.
  • Play Aaron Neville's Christmas album. The bells at the beginning of the first track mark, for me, the official start of the Christmas season. 
  • Write in red, green, and gold.
  • Go in cinnamon-scented stores like Kirklands.
  • Burn cheap cinnamon candles.
  • Play James Taylor's Christmas album. 
  • Remember Christmases. Write about them or find them in old journals.
What gets you into the spirit?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wasted Gifts.

"The gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness..."
Joan Didion, "On Self-Respect"

I think I'm guilty of all of these. I don't write stories now because I'm overwhelmed with other issues but also because I'm too lazy. I could make it happen if I wanted to enough.

I haven't pursued or stayed devoted to many of my potential gifts. I don't want to sing or dance. I don't want to send my little words out for rejection. If I'm not good at what should be my best talents...well, that's something to be afraid of. I also know that a lot of unpleasantness comes with publication.

Carelessness...well, I probably have not fully appreciated and nurtured my gifts. Maybe I have put off finding out what my talents are.

A wasted gift sounds terrible. Maybe I can somehow add these thoughts to my day. Am I being lazy when I should be creative, productive, or studious? Am I letting fear dictate what I do? Am I being careless and missing great opportunities? Maybe that will give me a push.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Favorite Artists Part II.

I have a few more favorites.

Josephine Wall--I first saw her work on a big poster above my friend's purple couch. People have bought me journals and little books with her art, not even realizing she's a favorite. But I like that people link her work to me. It is so gorgeous. So many stories can be hidden in one painting. The details, the shadows, the light, feathers, moons, keys, fairies, and goddesses...I could stare for days. Luckily, she made a book, and I bought it years ago.

How can one not love Mary Engelbreit? She was features in an issue of the American Girl magazine. She talked about how her mother kept a jar full of pencils on the table and how she cleaned out a linen closet to make Mary a tiny studio. I think my grandmother liked her too, so I was a fan as a child. ME's art often includes plump little kids, girls with attitude, literacy encouragement, and delightful layers of clothes and home decor. I subscribed to her magazine, Home Companion, until it disappeared. I have a few books of her work though.

Mary Blair is a relatively new interest for me. Watching behind-the-scenes for a Disney movie, I learned that Blair had done so much concept art work for Disney movies. I have a Cinderella book with her strange, dream-like illustrations. My in-laws gave me a book of her art. I need to spend more time looking at my art books.

Cicely Mary Barker was in my life far back. I think maybe my grandparents gave me a book of her flower fairies. Barker drew fairies that looked like children and wore clothes made of their flowers or trees. My favorites were the Willow Fairy and the Fuchsia Fairy. I tried to determine which fairy looked most like me or my friends. Those flower fairies awakened my love of fairies long before I know any of these other artists. Oh! And every fairy had his or her own poem. So CMB also brought poetry to me.

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Favorite Artists Part I.

SARK writes inspiring books that encourage creative experience, assertive living, and independent healing. Most of her books are in her handwriting, and many are colorful with her quirky drawing and painting. I'm overdue to read more. Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper is my favorite.

K. Y. Craft's art simply floors me, like champagne glitter will rise right out of the pages and settle on my face and shoulders. Everything is so ornate. I probably like her Twelve Dancing Princesses most (it's also my favorite fairy tale, with "Cinderella" close by). The first journal I ever finished had K. Y. Craft's art on it.

Amy Brown is a dear favorite. I discovered her in two very different places when I was around 15. Once was in Astoria, Oregon. Her beautiful small prints were on display in a gift shop. I bought two: a blue rose fairy and a pink fairy putting on ballet shoes. The other time was at Hot Topic on journals and car accessories. On our first Christmas, Josh gave me her second book of collected art and a sheet of her intricate temporary tattoos. I would go to the Dancing Moon, a New-Age-y shop in Boone, to look at her greeting cards and books. Now, we probably have at least 12 prints of her art around the house. A couple have mermaids and one has a dragon. Possibly my favorite, a larger print hangs above our couch. At first, it just looks like a fairy couple gazing at each other with such certainty and dignity. But look again to see that the male fairy is cradling a tiny, sleeping fairy baby.

Monday, October 31, 2016

My Little Luxuries.

  • An occasional daytime bath.
  • Magnum Mini chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars.
  • Listening to showtunes while I get ready.
  • Diving into learning about a show after I see it.
  • Fresh Sugar lip balm.
  • Burning my peppermint marshmallow candle before company.
  • Sitting in the car and talking for a while before getting out.
  • Icy water in my almost-1-liter bottle.
  • Writing in color.
  • Playing music loudly when I'm in the car alone.
  • Dr. Pepper in the morning.
  • Just looking at the art in our living room.
  • The big purple blanket I brought from the bedroom to my armchair in the living room.
  • Ordering two beverages (water and a soda) at restaurants.
  • Looking at the pond after rain.
  • Seeing baby animals (ducklings and goslings) in the spring, right through our window.
  • The three of us, all eating different food but all sitting together at the table for dinner.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Few People Know That...

  • I loathe squash.
  • I'm terrible at parking but even worse at getting out of a parking space.
  • I met Dennis DeYoung of Styx. Oh, wait, I tell everyone that.
  • I can tread water for over an hour.
  • My hair has a lot of red in sunlight.
  • I drink a ton of water. I tracked my water intake for 24 hours a couple years ago: 7.5 liters.
  • I was homeschooled for 2nd-8th grades.
  • I used to spend two separate months a year with family in Washington state.
  • I don't live anywhere near any extended family except my cousin Steve and his family in SC.
  • The first vehicle I drove was a big pick-up truck. I was around 10 and on my family's ranch.
  • I got to play the princess in a children's theatre version of Aladdin.
  • I lip-synced "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in a bizarre costume as part of a children's theatre insane production of Oz.
  • I'm on volume 161 of my journal.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Favorite Collections

What makes a collection? If it's a good one, it's a gathering of objects, similar in appearance or purpose, which reveals a person's personality and joys or fears.

I would love making a collection of emerald objects. I do feel some connection to Oz.

I have quite a collection of necklaces. Several were birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gifts from Josh. Many necklaces are hanging from hooks (like a silver seahorse key rack), and the rest are in separate zip bags in a pretty box. I used to have more, but I gave many to my mom to wear or to dismantle for crafts. But I love necklaces. I love how a necklace can completely change an outfit or an attitude.

I have a collection of Faerie Glen fairy figurines. They're gorgeous. In so many moves, many have lost their wings. But they are still lovely. My favorites are in our bedroom.

I collect journals, of course. And pens. I think I have a great fear of not being able to write.

I love my illustrated fairy tale books. In my search over several years, I've found some stars.

I also love my musical theatre souvenir programs with their vivid images and bright color, pushing me back into that experience in the audience.

Some of the joy of collections is the joy of discovering and acquiring more objects. I don't have the funds for that now, but I try to put that energy into enjoying my collections as they are. Sometimes, my apartment feels like a wonderland to me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Odd Wishes.

These are the kinds of wishes that roll around in one's bedside table's drawer.
  • I wish I had a vanilla milkshake and a giant Pottery Barn Teen catalog.
  • I wish I were better at spellings. It's gotten worse in the last couple of years.
  • I wish that I could get back to a healthier weight and that my efforts would actually have an impact.
  • I wish I were eating a nutty brownie and vanilla ice cream with my dad.
  • Alternative: I wish I were eating Snickers pie from Cooker with my dad.
  • I wish I could still dance a little just to show it off.
  • I wish my fingernails wouldn't grow past a certain point. 
  • I wish I were eating pastry with warm brie and honey outside the Blue Moon Cafe with my mom.
  • I wish I had learned to play the piano.
  • I wish my hair wouldn't frizz.
  • I wish I had a lighter version of my swimming obsession back.
  • I wish I could have individual pockets in my savings account--gifts, summer, travel...
  • I wish Sunset Boulevard and Starlight Express would tour now.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Culling and Curating.

I'm not sure why I'm suddenly okay with reducing the number of books in our library. What am I cleaning out? Do I feel choked by objects, unable to enjoy the rest, the most beautiful?

I have a Pull-Ups box full of books, several of which I just read recently. I've been going through the the sticky-flagged pages and writing down the quotations in a Cinderella composition book. The box will go to 2nd and Charles, where I'll get store credit. The newer books are easier to let go. I work slowly through the older books, the ones that have been part of our many homes. 

I want our bookshelves to convey who we are. I want to feel lighter. 

Of course, I have so many books I've not read yet, so I have a lot of work ahead of me. The best news is that I'm kind of crashing through books lately. It's a wonderful, empowering, and joyful experience.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


It may have a negative connotation, but what a delicious word! It makes me think of chocolate and velvet. I guess taste and touch are major channels. Here are some examples of my kind of decadence, rich and sometimes frivolous happiness, maybe the sort in which I should indulge more often.
  • getting comfortable alone with a book for hours.
  • reading a magazine cover-to-cover in one sitting (I did this on my 30th birthday).
  • clean, slightly worn sheets.
  • mermaid stamps, stickers, and so on. That kind of magic should be easier to find!
  • laughing my head off with one of the people I most love to talk to.
  • multiple acknowledgements of a blog post I thought would interest no one.
  • Gold pens.
  • Dove chocolates with peanut butter.
  • Magnum mini ice cream bars.
  • Dr. Pepper right when I need it and so cold.
  • Bingeing on a show as I did with Bates Motel.
  • Fleece pants.
  • Writing fast and pushing the pen hard.
  • Noticing a word I just learned out in the world.
  • Buying multiples of something I adore.
  • Holding hands.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

On Trend.

I love trends because they help me get what I want. When I started public high school at 16, I wanted to fit in. I don't know if I wanted to get attention or just to slip into the background by looking like others. Ombre was in style then too, and I remember my pink-to-hot-pink pants. I loved the sparkle jeans. My favorite pair had little pink and white stars sprinkled over the glitter and fringe.

Since then, I haven't paid much attention to trends unless they are something I already like. I pay most attention to colors. My mom and I love deep greens, so we were excited when it became "color of the year" or something. We couldn't find green anywhere, and suddenly, it was everywhere! Like magic.

But I also ignore a lot of trends. Matte makeup is big deal right now. I love everything that shimmers or sparkles, so I pay little attention to newer makeup. I will say, though, that Urban Decay still has the right idea with the Moondust products. When something I love is on trend (and preferrably, on sale), I take advantage of the opportunity if I can.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Bloom Where You're Planted."

I've been seeing this on Mary Engelbreit's art work since I was a child. I never thought about it much. But looking back, I think of the move my family and I made from TN to NC. I was 12, and as far as I can remember or interpret, I did not bloom. I was mad for my best (and only) NC friend. I stepped into warm, black pools of self-loathing thoughts, and I'm surprised I ever came out of them.

Hannah and Melissa arrived in my life and were certainly lights I needed.

For the first time, after 5 or 6 years of moving almost every year, Josh and I have finally lived in one city for nearly 5 years. I finally feel as if someone planted me here. It's not a perfect place, but I think that I can bloom here and that I already have done so at least a little.

I took a big risk on friendship, and we won. I've discovered the reasons for a lot of my out-of-control sorrow. I can't get those years back, but I can use what I've learned. I'm still learning when to water and what to prune.

I can find so much here. I can become what I hope to be here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Unexpected Joys.

  • A server at Cracker Barrel gave me a frosted mug with my school-sized milk cartons.
  • When I made my first order to Papaya Art my box included 3 or 4 free, glittery greeting cards.
  • My mom is going to try to make a blanket out of my special, pretty, old T-shirts. I'd love cuddling up with those memories.
  • Closing the shower curtain--instant bathroom makeover.
  • Watching Riverdance again.
  • All of Urban Decay's Moondust products. I test them on my wrist at Ulta.
  • Watching most of my favorite movies again with Bruce. I had a good excuse to watch them!
  • Bruce brought us 2 cases of water bottles during Hurricane Matthew.
  • Cold water near the end of a shower. 
  • Cleaning out the fridge...kind of satisfying.
  • Regular, repeating appointments for me and Oliver makes life so much easier.
  • I like iced mocha, and I can get it in a bottle or carton at the grocery store.
  • Staying on track with my GoodReads annual reading goal (50 for the year!).
  • Books that demand my attention.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Light Tomorrow with Today."

This quotation by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is so encouraging but also offers a major challenge. When I encounter it, I always want to be still and ponder it.

Here's one trouble I see: how can I light the lamps and candles while saving nothing? I've been trying not to save objects or experiences for later. But often, when I have a great experience or use a new gift, I fill with light that can spill into the next day.

I also try to think of yesterday's me, today's me, and tomorrow's me as a group of friends who need to be good to each other and help each other. So I wonder,
  • What can I do to heal yesterday?
  • How can I use what yesterday taught me?
  • What new habits can I work on today and pass to tomorrow?
  • What messes has yesterday left for me? How can I improve the situation?
  • What can I do to give tomorrow some brilliance like hope?
  • How can I avoid leaving a mess for tomorrow.
  • How can yesterday, today, and tomorrow all respect each other?
  • If I build a beautiful day today, what is likely to happen tomorrow?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Live the Story You Want to Tell."

I saw this on a journal at Barnes. I kept thinking about it.

I love telling stories. Often, this is oral, autobiographical storytelling. I love seeing an appreciative audience. A couple of people have told me that I'm good at that storytelling, so that probably makes me run wild.

I also like to tell stories in writing. I've written endless emails to close friends, detailing events in my life. But I can also make up stories, and they can be whatever I want them to be.

I have new stories to tell my best friend almost every day. They're simple: Oliver jumping off furniture, funny exchanges between Josh and me, songs and words my family made up.

Some stories are good because they're full of opportunities for catharsis. Or they're good for an embarrassed laugh. But I keep coming back to the journal that said, "Live the story you want to tell." It seemed to be speaking to me directly.

I want to tell a story about a girl who loved theatre and shared this delicate passion with someone else.

I want to tell a story about a girl who watched all the Disney Princess movies she'd missed.

I want to tell a story about a girl who took the train to D.C. and took in the art there.

I want to tell a story about a girl who wrote every day.

I want to tell a story about a girl who never stopped reading.

I want to tell a story about a woman who told the truth about who she was.

I want to tell a story about a woman who fought back.

I want to tell a story about a woman who let others fight for her too.

I want to tell a story about a woman who stopped being scared.

And yes, I eventually bought the journal.

Monday, October 10, 2016

About Pink.

Generally, my favorite colors are purple and green. Sitting in my living room, the only pink I see is a Disney Princess tote bag and a page flag with space for tiny notes. But I try to keep some pink accessible.

Audrey Hepburn believed in pink, so it real must have some magic, right there with kissing.

I love pink pens, especially ballpoint. They glide so easily. I love pink eyeshadow as long as it is metallic or sparkly. I sometimes have to switch to another palette once or twice to get it right.

If anything needs a boost, I may try to remedy the problem with pink. Sometimes, I say, "I need some pink in my life right now." A hot pink shirt, preferably with Disney Princess design, can be helpful. The lighter pink shirts can make me look like Ive used all kinds of beauty products even if I've used none. It seems to give me an endearing flush. She when I shop, I pay attention to pink.

Green makes me feel empowered and capable. Purple makes me feel apart from the world but highly creative. And...I guess pink makes me feel beautiful.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What to Try (or Try Again).

  • Wearing liquid eyeliner
  • Wearing an anklet, if I can find one
  • Tackling the Bronte and Austen books I've not read yet
  • Using my fountain pen in my journals, trusting the paper to handle it
  • Swimming. The manic joy it gave me last summer has drained away, but maybe I can still enjoy it
  • Writing letters. I could just send encouragement postcards. I haven't written a letter in a long time.
  • Making another collage. I used to love making collages. Watercolors, magazine images, charms, glitter...
  • Wearing more of my work clothes--no saving for someday!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gift Stories.

Gifts are my primary love language. Objects hold much meaning for me. I remember how I got them or who gave them to me. Just about every object in my home has a story. This two gifts have been on my mind:

Many years ago, my aunt Brietta sent me a round, silver box with concentric circles of round stones in all colors. Though it has held ordinary objects (push pins, swirly paperclips, a coin), it seems like a place where a gypsy girl would keep something magical.

A couple of Christmases ago, Mom gave me an 8-inch Madame Alexander Jo doll. Mom and I both love Little Women (my son calls her Marmee) and Madame Alexander. This gift was full of meaning. For a long time, I saw myself as Beth--sweet but weak and sick and so very shy. My mom suggested that I was more like Jo--a writer, fiery and independent though out of place. I began to see myself differently after that. So the doll is a symbol and reminder of that for me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What I Want to Teach Oliver.

My son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the beginning of the year. So I'm having to shift expectations, do a lot of paperwork, and learn how to be a good mama to him right where he is.

Here are a few things I hope to teach him or help him learn:
  • I would love to teach Oliver to read. I can think of few greater gifts I could give him. I don't know how to do it, but I'll try.
  • I want to teach him to love reading. He often sees Josh and me with books. Oliver already seems to cherish some of his books. Life probably will not be easy for him, but reading strengthens and soothes.
  • I'd like to teach him to cook and sew. Unfortunately, I do neither. Maybe his grandmothers will teach him.
  • I want to teach him ways to manage his disorder. My experience won't be the same as his, but I'm determined to help in small, practical ways. I occasionally have instincts about what will help him in a bad moment. I need to learn more about ASD.
  • I'd love to teach him to love musical theatre. Those memories turn on a light inside.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Life Enchantments (Not "Hacks!").

  • Buy a baby bottle brush to wash cups and glasses easily.
  • Keep your favorite necklaces on display (key hooks or even push pins will work). Put the rest of your necklaces in individual Zip Locks (no tangling!) in a pretty box.
  • Use a bead organizer from a craft store to organize earrings. Buy a smaller version of the box for travel.
  • Use what Josh calls a house purse (any tote bag will do) to contain your current reading and projects, so you can move them room to room easily.
  • Arrange books by color for a beautiful display.
  • If you have a lot of tank tops like I do (I have a rainbow of colors; I often wear tank tops under my shirts to show a little less skin), roll them up and place them upright in a decorative box. You won't have to dig for the color you need!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Whimsy and Wonder.

The Pottery Barn Teen catalog (which I love) put these two pretty words together on a spread. Both words sound just like their meanings. Whimsy has that light wh sound like a fairy's breath before a giggle. The sy is a bit grounding, giving the word some authority. It's compelling. And wonder has that magical w. But the ond has those grounding consonants that tie the word to an object...probably something that shines. Whimsy flits. Wonder stops to gaze in awe.

I can see the two words like fraternal twin sisters. Wonder collected glittering rocks and smooth branches as she wants to climb every tree she sees. Whimsy collects coins (which she gives to Wonder), feathers, bits of foil wrappers, and flowers too pretty to be called weeds. Wonder is too slow for Whimsy, and Whimsy is too flighty for Wonder, but they adore each other.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Favorite Verbs (Sound or Meaning).

  • Scribble
  • Write
  • Read
  • Impress
  • Discover
  • Express
  • Peruse
  • Kiss
  • Cradle
  • Purchase
  • Shine
  • Gild
  • Rest
  • Snuggle
  • Explore
  • Gather
  • Collect
  • Sip
  • Stack
  • Swim
  • Trust
  • Believe
  • Enjoy
  • Dance
  • Spin
  • Twirl
  • Shuffle
  • Consume
  • Surprise
  • Fulfill
  • Embroider
  • Fashion
  • Study
  • Desire
  • Sleep
  • Chime
  • Color
  • Sparkle
  • Glimmer
  • Caress
  • Curate
  • Cultivate
What are your favorite verbs?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What Enchants Me.

  • My (very) old copy of YM Beauty. All that talk of fancy makeup soothes me even when I remember but don't take out the magazine.
  • The massive music box at the Biltmore's Christmas shop.
  • Oliver's little pajama pants with tigers on them.
  • The book stacks by my bed, promising great reading adventures coming soon.
  • The mermaid drawing my mother made for me.
  • The moment as the theatre when the lights fade and the orchestra gives the first notes of the overture.
  • A well-stocked Gelly Roll display.
  • Oliver's sneaking into our bed at night--we usually don't know until morning.
  • A little sparkle on random objects like hair ties.
  • Bic For Her pink and purple pens. They're beautiful; I don't even care about the faulty branding and advertising. 
  • Rock candy reminds me of going to the candy store with my best girl friends during Winterfest in Gatlinburg. I remember being so happy then.
  • Instant messaging and texting--they still don't seem real. I remember Dad showing me that I could IM with my friend Tracy.
  • Sephora. The feeling of darkness surrounding well-lit displays of bottles, palettes, and compacts with wild colors and plenty of glitter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Sampling of What I Get Excited About.

  • Putting on makeup the next day.
  • Brushing my hair (so I can use the Belle brush Bruce gave me).
  • Checking the mail even though it's mostly bills and junk.
  • Hearing the crack and pop of opening a can (even if it's not mine).
  • Feeling touch so soft most people would giggle.
  • Hearing the terrible crunching sound as Josh uses his mangled key when he comes home.
  • Seeing bits of my hair curl in the heat.
  • Seeing frogs when I'm on a night walk.
  • Trying to believe that my car and my iPod talk to each other.
  • Feeling proud of a dinner I merely warmed.
  • Getting Oliver to eat baby carrots.
  • Inhaling the smell of an airplane's interior.
  • Correctly guessing what Oliver is saying.
  • Getting Oliver ready for his first day of preschool.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Little Perspective.

Like most of you, I've seen the photo of the wounded boy in Syria and the video of him and the rescue worker who brought him to the ambulance. Since it's become a controversy, I won't post it here, but I do want to share how it has adjusted my attitude a bit.

My sweet boy was diagnosed with autism early this year. I felt so ignorant; I didn't know what to do for him. But I've done more paperwork in the last several months than I've done, probably, in all my life. I threw applications and packets in several directions, hoping someone would answer. Oliver has been in speech and occupational therapy for a few months. And we recently found out he was placed in an Early Intervention special education preschool that is at an elementary school minutes from our house. It was such a relief, and it seemed like the best option at this point.

But school begins two weeks from yesterday, and I've been aching at the thought of leaving my child with people I don't know and without the skills to do simple tasks like pay for a carton of milk in the cafeteria. My own lower school experiences were pretty miserable for me and for my parents, likely the result of separation anxiety and social anxiety. I'm scared of this happening to Oliver.

But this morning, some new thoughts formed as I saw that photo of that little boy. Oliver will be without me and Josh, but we are safe, and one of us (or someone else we trust) will be there to pick him up every day. He doesn't have to wonder if he's alone. I pray for kind teachers and assistants who will notice his needs and help him. He will be in a clean space that is a cool shelter from the blistering heat. It will be a colorful space full of so much that will be delightfully new to him rather than frighteningly new. I hope he will learn to be excited about his school.

I hope I will too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A List of Lists I Should Make.

This is silly since many of my posts are lists. They make me feel more imaginative and structured and more creative and energized. So here are some ideas I may use for future list entries:
  • Reasons I married Josh.
  • Brief descriptions of every place I've lived since I left my parents' home.
  • Favorite movies with one-sentence justifications.
  • My favorite fictional characters.
  • Memorable clothes--pieces of clothing with strong associations.
  • Important colors and how they affect me.
  • Reasons I should start eating breakfast again. 
  • Favorite names and the characters they conjure.
  • Things I can't stand.
  • What I feel I'm always waiting for.
  • Color coding ideas.
  • Questions I'd ask God.
  • My favorite toys of Oliver's.
  • My own life hacks (enchantments!)
  • Strange ways I've fallen asleep.
  • People who have challenged me.
What are some lists you'd like to see on this blog?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Surprising Favorites.

  • Museum-ish gift shops
  • Oliver's colorful little plastic bowls--great for setting out Oliver snacks
  • My Ariel jacket--gray with teal stitching
  • Oliver's loud singing 
  • Blackberry ginger ale saved for when I have a stomach ache
  • Dropping ice because Oliver loves rushing to retrieve it
  • Boys who like books (but I'm booked)
  • Figuring out school uniforms and lunches
  • Buying school supplies that aren't for me
  • Pretty paper straws (they don't fall apart!)
  • Jennifer McMahon
  • Eyeliner that is still on my wrist almost a week after I tried it on
  • Talking about makeup while I'm shopping
  • Hearing about what Oliver did and learned when I wasn't with him
  • Having set up and corrected appointments
  • Finding a cold water bottle in the fridge

Monday, August 1, 2016

LTs: Literary Tasks.

LTs help me focus. They keep me connected to some of my most important selves: the reader and the writer.
  • Pages: I sometimes assign myself a number of pages to fill in my journal each day. Lately, it's been two, regardless of the journal's size. I try to push beyond that though.
  • Chapters: Right now, I'm reading three books at once. My goal is to read one chapter (or essay or story) from each book every day. It's not overwhelming, even if I'm not crazy about the book. And I can always read more of something else when I'm caught up.
  • Quotations: I mark special lines and passages when I read. Later, I go back and write those down in one of my quotation books. I save the best of the books I read this way. I'm quite behind on this LT!
  • Prompts: I use prompts I make up or find, write them at the top of a future journal page, and respond to them later.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Unexpected Joys.

  • Binge watching Bates Motel by myself.
  • Eating sunflower seeds, especially on a long drive with Mom.
  • Writing and making collages in a notebook at 3 a.m. next to a dorm entrance.
  • Feeling so eager about the mail even though I knew it would hold rejections. It meant I was trying!
  • Swimming in a deep lake, treading water for an hour.
  • Taking Oliver to speech and occupational therapy and talking about him with his therapists.
  • Being a mother.
  • The low, dirty pond behind our apartment.
  • Draining a pen. I have to find another pen, but I feel accomplished.
  • Enjoying True Grit.
  • Bruce.
  • Journaling for about 16 years off and on--but mostly on. 
  • Teaching. I have some great memories.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

In My Makeup Bag.

 I love makeup. It helps me be confident, and it's another way to be expressive and creative. Of course, I wish everything had glitter in it. This bag is too small for my eyeshadow palettes, but it holds most of what I use each day.

The bag itself is beggining to fall apart. It's gunmetal-glitter gray with whirling musical notes (peeling) hot pink accents. I bought it maybe 13 years ago. It was connected to VH-1's Save the Music. The bag may not last much longer.

But the contents! Some hair clips, hair ties and bobby pins have sunk to the bottom along with a sewing kit's pair of tiny scissors.


L'Oreal's True Match Powder in Neutral Soft Ivory. I've been wearing this instead of foundation this summer.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen 55.

An eyeshadow brush and a crease brush. I've completely gotten over little sponge eyeshadow applicators. I use a brush or clean fingers.

A sparkly pink Too Faced eye pencil sharpener.


A sample of Benefit Benetint, which I use as lip stain.

Revlon Balm Stain in Honey (mauve-ish pink) and Romantic (red). I often wear one of these over the Benetint.

Nars lip pencil sample in Cruella (red).

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Ruby (best lip balm line I've tried).


Purple eyelash curler

Buxom mascara sample (love it).

Cover Girl eyeshadow quad in Breathtaking Blues. Great sparkle!

Ulta Glitter Eye Top Coat in Fairy Princess (wildly glittery champagne) and Gold Digger (bright metallic gold).

Sephora mini turquoise sparkle shadow sample.

Ulta Gold glitter eyeliner

Stila Smudge Stick eyeliners in Triggerfish (gunmetal silver) and Tetra (just-right purple).

Urban Decay eyeshadow single in Uzi (so much silver glitterr!)

Revlon Diamond Lust eyeshadow in Starry Pink

Nyx Roll-On Shimmer in Onyx (gray/black sparkle), Light Blue, Purple, and Mauve Pink. They are so easy to apply (and correct) as eyeshadow. Roll it on, perfect it with your fingers, and you're done. I've really only seen Nyx at Ulta, and they're under $5.

What makes other people's makeup bags so interesting?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Quick Thoughts on Spreading Glitter.

At 16, I often sprinkled glitter into my bag, books, and journal. Just seeing those glints in random places (oh, how they travel!) reminds me that life is worth living and that wonderful experiences and objects exist.

My marshmallow body glitter makes me feel beautiful because I'm sparkly and sweetened.

I have a small white box that contains most of my glitters in little jars and bottles. I can pick a glitter for the day and blow it like a kiss.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How I Want to Travel.

I recently had the great idea that Mom and I should go to Paris someday, just us. She would be braver and more informed than I. We could skip this and spend forever on that. She said she couldn't go until my stepdad Shane got to go. I wish Paris trips were unlimited! We could all go together too, and the traveling companions would make each trip different.

I got to go see Phantom twice in one year. Shows can feel like traveling. I used to be kind of obsessed with time travel.

I'd like to do a road trip of sorts...focused on bookstores (chain and independent) and aquariums. I would buy at least one book in each state, and I would scribble or even write stories in every aquarium. I don't know who would want to join that. Maybe Josh would.

I used to enjoy packing. Now, it's stressful, but I used to love selecting what I'd have with me on a plan or in a hotel room. I had to have a notebook. That's still true.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Messes That Suggest a Full Life.

A dashed stack of books suggesting that someone tried to add one book too many or upset the stack while removing a certain volume.

A spread or pile of pens--someone has been admiring the collection or searching for a certain color and texture or effect to use for that moment's writing.

Glitter on the counter from making a miniature relaxation jar.

A spread of rejected clothes for a safe, meaningful job.

Family mess mixed in with personal or creative work, like a photo and design clippings.

Sticky notes, notebooks, binders, pens, highlighters, index cards--a mess from working to learn.

My "house purse" spilling magazines, markers, sticky flags, clippings, books...the rations for my spirit and mind. I have plenty of stores to replenish the bag. But first, I have to be present for that steady feast.

Monday, July 25, 2016


  • Rock concerts--anticipation!
  • Shows--costumes, the orchestra tuning up
  • Oliver's voluntarily cuddling with me
  • The text message sound on my phone
  • The crack of opening a soda can
  • Sonic--those big drinks!
  • Recognizing an actor
  • Updating Bruce on everything
  • Going out to shop or explore with Mom
  • Seeing someone open a gift from me
  • Seeing books on writing
  • Fairy tale retellings
  • Playing on GoodReads
  • The mail
  • Doctor Who
  • Starting a movie with Bruce
  • Cine Barre 
  • Shirley Temples
  • Arrival of food at a restaurant
  • Seeing Mom's new crafts
  • The intro of "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Beauty Underneath"
  • The coming Beauty and the Beast movie
  • Most Disney stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Creative To-Do List.

  • Find an easily accessible place for my illustrated fairy tales and art books.
  • Write in one of my composition books all the quotations I've marked in special books.
  • Go on another coloring date with crayons and colored pencils at the library. Bruce and I did this a couple of weeks ago.
  • Revise Essential Showtunes playlist on Spotify.
  • Put stickers in the journals I'll use soon.
  • Continue to watch movie musicals regularly.
  • Go places that push me to be a reader and a writer, such as Barnes, Paper Source, Michaels...just looking around can spark something.
  • Work on my design scrapbook with all its beautiful rooms.
  • Spend 15 minutes a day on Pinterest. Let the images flow over me.
  • Keep creating a special, quiet space in the guest room.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Celebrate the Art of Being You.

Those words caught my attention in a Pottery Barn Teen catalog. Celebrate is a beautiful word. Though I don't drink, I like the image of starry champagne flutes on a silver tray.

I guess it's easy for our true selves to sink below the surface of our roles. So much of life requires carefully-constructed personae. That's a lot of work, and it often means little energy and time are left for being oneself. So when we do manage it, if only for an afternoon scribble or work on a sewing project, that is something worth celebrating.

One must do what one loves. If I'm not reading or not writing, something is wrong or will be. I think it's a cycle: the more I skip reading, the worse I feel. And the worse I feel, the less likely I am to write.

Sometimes, Josh will tell me I'm a great wife and mother. Then, he'll say that he wants me to work on being Becky. When he sees me reading or writing, he often says how much he likes to see me doing Becky things. He makes me feel proud (never guilty) about taking care of my truest self, which, I suppose, is what he fell in love with in the first place.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Read Past It.

Read past it and write through it. These have been charms for me lately. Reading helps me skip over troubles that I can't control--it give me brain some time to rest. Writing through it usually means writing about the trouble until it has little power over me.

When I had a nightmare as a child, Mom would sometimes tell me to read--to cleanse my mind of the scary images.

Falling asleep while reading is rather blissful.

Lately, Oliver has often observed Josh and I both reading. And now, Oliver loves taking out his own books and "reading" them to us. The modeling seems to be working!

I think of reading books as a vital life skill.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Buying More Books.

I love the thought of buying more books. But I have to finish at least one before I buy another. When I finished Night Sister, I immediately ordered another novel by Jennifer McMahon. I'll probably want to read all her books.

Ideally, I'll give away or sell (to 2nd and Charles) a book before I buy another. I want to have more of an in-and-out system with my books, holding onto my dearest and most useful ones (and the ones I haven't read yet--which is a great number!). I no longer feel the need to keep all of the books I've read.

Amazon sells most used books for as little at 1 cent plus $3.99 shipping. $4! We get most of our books this way.

But there is an enchantment to wandering through a bookstore, finding a treasure, and buying it directly. This should happen occasionally. It's just thrilling. Ask or Barnes gift cards, so you can buy books on-site without guilt.

How do you get and keep your books?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Favorite Songs.

These are in no particular order.
  • "Hysteria" by Def Leppard
  • "Send Her My Love" by Journey
  • "Melody" by Steve Perry
  • "Up on a Roof" by James Taylor
  • "I Want It All" by Edwin McCain
  • "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" by Corinne Bailey Rae
  • "The Phantom of the Opera" from Phantom
  • "Waiting in Vain" by Annie Lennox
  • "There's Me" from the concept album for Starlight Express
  • "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins
  • "Rocket Man" by Elton John
  • "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby
  • "Light" from Next to Normal
  • "Guardian" by Alanis Morisette
  • "Right Here Waiting for You" by Richard Marx
  • "Trial by Fire" by Journey
  • "Show Me Light" by Ramin Karimloo
  • "Save Me" by Richard Marx
  • "Ships" by Patty Loveless
  • "When Love and Hate Collide" by Def Leppard
  • "There's No One Like You" by Sarah Brightman
  • "If Only Quartet" from The Little Mermaid
  • "What about Us?" by John Barrowman
  • "I Do" from Starlight Express

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Words I Wish Described Me.

Some of these may describe me sometimes. Others...not so much! Some may even contradict each other. But they are worth striving for.
  • Luminous!
  • Clever
  • Kind
  • Warm
  • Loyal
  • Fierce
  • Strong
  • Lovable
  • Sweet
  • Brave
  • Fascinating
  • Mysterious
  • Competent
  • Incandescent
  • Stunning
  • Ethereal
  • Reliable
  • Creative
  • Articulate
  • Brilliant
  • Graceful
  • Passionate
  • Thrilling
  • Slender
  • Thoughtful
  • Gentle
  • Quiet
  • Confident
  • Peaceful
  • Sparkling
  • Quick
  • Joyful
  • Well-read
  • Comfortable
  • Loving
  • Surprising
Which descriptions do you want most?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Some Happy Thoughts.

  • My husband put a glow-in-the-dark solar system on our bedroom ceiling.
  • Live-action Beauty and the Beast comes out next year!
  • Oliver knows my name.
  • My mom drew me a beautiful mermaid, and I look at the picture several times a day.
  • Blue an violet mason jars exist.
  • Bruce gave me a glitter library (it's labeled as such!).
  • I have so many books to read.
  • I can read and write. What worlds I can access because of that!
  • Oliver is up to the 32nd percentile in weight. He doesn't seem so brittle anymore.
  • My bedroom lamps have scalloped shades with beads.
  • Our 10th wedding anniversary isn't far away.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Literary Subscription Box.

Subscription boxes are so big right now, and they are so varied! Cosmetics, clothes, even books. Some send a book plus interesting items that go along with it.

I love the thought of it, and I think putting the boxes together would be fun. If I had more money, I would certainly subscribe to a few.

If I were putting together a box for F451, I would include matches, a lighter with a candle (for a safe fire experience!), one of the great shirts from Out of Print, and other strange banned books. I'd have to re-read the book to get more ideas. It's the kind of thing I can see Josh, Bruce, and Mom working on with me.

If I did one for Night Sister, which I just read, I would include Entertainment Weekly for cutting out celebrity photos like Sylvie did, a flashlight with extra batteries, a reporter's notebook and pen for jotting down clues, and Juicy Fruit gum (You'll have to read it!).

What kind of subscription box would you like?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Some Favorite Things.

  • Watching Oliver eat a green apple.
  • Hydrangeas--colorful joy puffs.
  • Finding wild violets.
  • Walking with wisteria dripping beside me.
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (Magic Shell is an unnecessary but lovely addition).
  • Book passages that make me smile or laugh--not just on the inside.
  • Fireworks, an almost overwhelmingly fantastic store in the SEA-TAC airport.
  • Cherries plucked from someone else's fridge.
  • Crushed ice.
  • Sharing the too-small armchair with Oliver.
  • Sarah Addision Allen's writing magical realism set in NC.
  • Revisiting my book of fairies and deciding which fairies look like people in my life.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bookstore Games.

Note: If you don't have the money to buy books at a regular bookstore, check Amazon, which has cheap used books. See if a used bookstore or a library has what you need. Or make a list and buy when you are able.
  • Check every bay (individual bookcase) and try to find at least one book you've read. If you haven't read anything on a bay, chose, buy, and read a book from that bay. This is more fun with a friend.
  • Pick a color. Seek 3+ interesting-looking books with covers or spines in that color. Share your discoveries with a friend and select one book to buy and read.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt for a close friend. Hide literary clues or shared-memory-driven hints to the next book. Make the last destination interesting. 
  • Write tiny, encouraging notes and hide them among the books. Customers or staff will eventually find them.
  • Go with a friend and each choose books the other needs. These can be a combination of silly and sincere.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bright, Whole, and Engaged.

These words came to me somehow, maybe through a book or maybe just something that my mind had been churning like sea glass.

Bright, Whole, Engaged. This is how I want to approach the world, my close relationships, my creative work, and myself.

I know that when I'm overwhelmed, overstimulated, or just fried, my lights dim. I'm looking out through a fog. Or I'm trapped in the fog. But I want to be bright--alert, clever, attentive.

Often, though less so lately, I don't feel whole. It's as if some experiences have burned, hacked, or drowned away some of me. But I heal continuously. I'm on the way to whole.

Engaging is something I often avoid. But maybe a little more engagement would help me be whole, bright.

These are words to keep in my pocket and discover over and over.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Winter Journal.

One of my happiest writing memories is of having a beautiful snow fairy journal and writing in it (only with my favorite purple, pink, an blue pens) on a plane to Paris. Doesn't everything in that sentence sound lovely?

Stephen Mackey was the artist. I already loved snowflakes, so his combining those with fairies was, obviously, magic. And then, someone put it on the cover of a spiral-bound journal. Amazing. And the image had a silvery shift in the light.

I probably should re-read that whole journal. I wonder what I'd find.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Ideal Journal.

I've had so many wonderful journals with many of these characteristics but perhaps not all of them. I usually just see a journal and check its pages to know we belong together for a few weeks or months. But these are the qualities I like best in a journal:
  • Smooth pages that take pens easily.
  • Strong, thick cover that will provide a writing surface.
  • Thick pages that can accept fountain pens and markers without bleeding.
  • A beautiful cover that draws my attention.
  • An easily portable size, about the size of a quality paperback.
  • Inspirational quotations on each spread.
  • A ribbon bookmark.
  • A pocket at the back.
  • No perforations. 
  • Lies flat. It could be a spiral journal with a spiral that doesn't twist or come loose.
  • An elastic closure.
  • And...a little glitter on the cover would certainly be welcome.
I like hunting for these qualities. But of course, the cover comes first, luring me to test the pages.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Packing for a Three-Month Stay in Martha's Vineyard.

I'm reading about Susan Branch (one of my favorite artists) doing this when her life was a mess. I thought, "How can you pack for that?" I know I'd miss all my books, my filled journals, even some furniture.

I'd bring
  • Several books and hope to find more at a library or little bookshop.
  • My current journal and 4 or 5 blank ones. 
  • My favorite movies and favorite background movies that don't require my attention.
  • My laptop--hopefully for writing books or stories.
  • My coziest fleece lounge wear. 
  • A couple of dresses and my gold sparkle heels just in case.
  • Comfortable clothes.
  • Necklaces--I enjoy wearing them even when I'm alone.
  • Illustrated fairy tale books to soothe me.
I'd have to ship some of this!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Making Libraries for Each Other.

I read in the The Gospel According to Coco Chanel that Chanel hired someone to buy first editions of all the books Coco ought to have read. That fascinated me. It seems so intimate and so trusting: someone else selecting what will fill one's mind and alter one's thoughts. But I guess we participate in this every time we share a book or give or receive one as a gift. Often, Josh and my dad give me several books for my birthday. That has a great impact.

I like the idea of creative a library for someone I love. Maybe I'd fill just one bookcase. Even this would be a major challenge. Mom has already read a great many of the books I've read, but I'd still try. Josh is usually aware of what I'm reading. And I don't know if I could fill a bookcase for Oliver once he's reading, but I'd include Louisa May Alcott books, Matilda, the Narnia books, James and the Giant Peach, Stargirl...

Josh might fill a bookcase for me with a lot of books I wouldn't understand. But I know Frankenstein and To Kill a Mockingbird would be there (and I will read them). We have pushed each other to read some of the same books. My contributions might not interest him--some key Francesca Lia Block books, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Writing Down the Bones...

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Book a Day.

I've written about this before, but it interests me so much. I'd like to meet some people who do that--discover their habits and ask them about the effects of so much reading.

I might be able to do it if I gathered enough poetry and children's chapter books. Imagine a year of 300+ books! I like taking my time with books, but I don't want to fall behind, and I don't want to miss some treasure double-stacked on my bookshelf.

A new favorite movie of mine, God Help the Girl, has one song with the line, "I read a book a day like an apple." I love that. I do think that all kinds of reading can contribute to intelligence, awareness, imagination, confidence, and common decency.

Lately, I've become a stronger, more determined and more successful as a reader. This comes and goes depending on my practice. I've been reading for hours. Maybe that can get even better.

Friday, July 1, 2016

No Saving.

I like this idea of not saving. It makes sense because anything could happen before a person gets to use or enjoy something he or she had been saving for some future event or feeling.

I do quite a bit of misguided saving. For tomorrow, for when I'm ready, for when conditions are perfect. I could lose my chance. But I'm also just depriving myself of joy when in fact, more joys will follow.

Some of these are especially silly.
  • Stickers. Sometimes, I find myself not using the prettiest ones. I buy stickers to use in my journals, so I should use them! I have plenty (though I'm always watching for more!).
  • Bubble bath and such. I save my favorite scents, but I should just jump in and enjoy them.
  • Journals. I save the best for some more appropriate time. Silly.
  • Books. I do this less often now, but I've almost unconsciously saved the most delicious-seeming books for some future self. 
My future self will find and create more joy and more beauty. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Childhood Loves.

"What one loves in childhood stay in the heart forever."

~Mary Jo Putney

My childhood was rich with theatre--the showtunes, the occasional show (like my dad taking me to Sunset Boulevard), and some of my own acting. I gave up on the acting, but theatre and its music are more a part of me than ever. Daily! I feel that I'm honoring my childhood self.

I still love dolls and tiny things. As a little-little, I adored a set of tiny colored pencils. Many of my favorite tiny things are on my necklaces--little charms like keys and fairies that help me stay connected to my early self.

I read books for older children as well, and I've read some of them aloud to Oliver. I want him to have a childhood full of sustaining joys that he can carry with him into adulthood.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Storm Fairies.

--Henry Beston

I read this somewhere, and I love the idea of storm fairies. What do they do? Do they live inside storms? Do they bring storms? Or is the storm a metaphor?

I like the thought of being a storm fairy. Maybe I'd sleep wrapped up in wet, gray clouds. Maybe the thunder would tell me secrets, and the lightning would fall in love with me, illuminating my silver dress and gun metal eyes.

There would be others, but I would tell myself I didn't need them--they wouldn't even do their work properly. They would jump among clouds, causing small downpours where they didn't belong. Really, they should have been flower guardians or something light. Their giggles would distract me.

I would be passionate about the rain. It would be a relief for me.

No beautiful spring boy would catch my attention, even with his rain-sprinkled roses.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

As If Everything Is a Miracle.

This was Albert Einstein: "You can live as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is." I've read this before, but it caught me this time. It reminds me of Roald Dahl's saying, "Those who do not believe in the magic will never find it!"

I trust that wonderful things will happen, even though I know that terrible things will happen too.

Some of those miracles I might overlook:
  • The breeze and sun on the huge trees across the pond.
  • Still having a Dr. Pepper to drink on the morning of grocery day.
  • Oliver's jumping dances.
  • A long-missing earring suddenly reappearing. 
  • A dead pen's suddenly working again. 
  • When Josh or Bruce and I say the same words at the same time. 
  • My long-lost Tinkerbell ring, which Mom found.
  • Finishing a book, every time.

Monday, June 27, 2016


I choose
  • to forgive myself
  • to forgive as much as I can
  • to believe in God
  • a literary life
  • to read 50+ books this year
  • to read 500+ books in my 30s.
  • to be patient and kind--or at least try really hard
  • to be an engaged mother
  • to help Oliver believe that books are magical
  • to introduce Oliver to musical theatre and give him the chances my parents and grandparents gave to me.
  • to see the best in my husband
  • to keep journaling
  • to learn more about the illnesses in my family
  • to enjoy the beauty that is already in my home and life.
  • to remember how blessed I am
  • to live happily ever after

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Some of My Favorite Places.

  • My childhood home. My best friend lived there, and then, my parents bought it. It's so packed with memory, and I remember the house's details. Many of my dreams take place in that house.
  • My guest room. It feels quiet and and of separate from the rest of the house. I love the book-lined walls, the denim chaise, and the window that seems to attract sunlight. I write there, play with stickers, or just lean back.
  • My teen and young adult years' library in Charlotte. I haven't been there in years, but I have good memories of carrying stacks of books to a table and skimming them while I scribbled.
  • Pansy Cottage, a town home that Mom rented for a while. It was beautiful and well-designed. It was tiny but comfortable. The town home seemed enchanted, a place to heal and laugh.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Write Your Own Ticket.

I have loved Levenger, which sells fountain pens and other marvelous literary tools and toys, since my dad somehow discovered it. My parents gave me a whole treasure chest of beautiful bottled inks from Levenger.

So this sentence in the catalog caught my attention. How could I write myself a ticket, and what would it be for? An event? Travel?

I guess that in one way it means giving myself permission. If I want to write a book, I'm in charge. Encouragement is great, and I loved the guidance of my many teachers. But I can't wait on others' blessings.

It may also mean that I set the terms. When and where and how. Also, I can write my own ticket to wellness. Even metaphorical exercises like that can ease hurt and stress. A ticket can get me into new states of being. A ticket to be happy even when I'm sad too. A ticket to believe I'm beautiful. A ticket to tell all the truth.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What I Should Be Reading.

First, I'm going to say that I think any reading at any time is beneficial. I'm pleased with what I'm reading now. I mix up genres when I read more than one book at a time. I try to gear up for the challenges. Here are some of the books on my reading guilt list.
  •  To Kill a Mockingbird. Josh has made it clear that I need to read this. I think most people near my age read it in middle school, but I was homeschooled.
  • Frankenstein. Both Josh and Bruce have talked to me about this one.
  • Dracula. This is my own thought.
  • Austen. I've only read two of her books. I think I own them all now, so why wait? I'm probably intimidated, not having read anything from that time in so long.
  • Bronte. This is the same as the Austen situation. I want to read all the novels. 
  • 100 Years of Solitude, which has been on my list for a long time. It certainly intimidates me.
How do you tackle a challenging read?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Last Day of 30.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Before my birthdays, I like to think about what I've accomplished during the year. I think of it as earning another year.

As a 30-year-old,
  • I've been a pretty successful stay-at-home mama.
  • I've taken care of a child with special needs. 
  • I've managed appointments with several specialists for Oliver.
  • I've done mountains of paperwork concerning Oliver. 
  • I've worked hard to manage my own health.
  • I've read 44 books.
  • I've been to 11 shows.
  • I've re-watched many of my favorite movies.
  • I've maintained my closest relationships.
This has not been an easy year. But I think I've done my best. Let's see what 31 is all about.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Strange Joys.

I don't think many of my oys are strange, but I'll try a list. When I'm writing a list, items usually start to queue up.
  • Singing songs I've made up about Oliver.
  • Putting Oliver in the middle and holding his hands while we cross a parking lot.
  • Renting movies online and watching them alone. 
  • Searching online for a color and letting those purple or green or pink images wash over me.
  • Keeping a blog that no one reads.
  • Seeing a stack of books fall over.
  • Organizing pens around the house and in bags and wherever I might need them. I have several pretty little pouches.
  • Trying a prompt even when I think it won't go anywhere.
  • Eating a cold, salted boiled egg.
  • Getting a hug so hard that it pops my back.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Stark Intensity.

I don't know what entered my mind when I read these words or what made me want to respond. Not much gives me the experience of stark intensity. I have to be completely absorbed, and the experience has to come at me like the glint on a knife.
  • Seeing the chandelier rise up from the stage in Phantom. It affects me that way every time!
  • Reading The Book of Lost Things. It had me alert and sometimes mortified. It was a great book.
  • Giving birth. I was completely tuned into my body and Oliver's. The pain made me focus harder.
  • Getting a massage (usually from Josh). That touch is so important that the rest of me seems to back away.
  • Thirst. I take a medication that makes me truly mad with thirst. The arrival of water is just as intense a relief.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Color Coding.

I love color coding. Seeing a group of objects in shades of one color is incredibly soothing and satisfying for me. I also like assigning colors to ideas and topics.

When I write in my journal, I use the same color pen all day. It's easier to look back and find something that way.

I have Oliver's medical and therapy records in teal file folders in purple hanging files. I don't like having to dig through those, but the colors help.

In college, I didn't separate my notes. I had one big spiral notebook, and I used a different color pen for each class I was taking. When I studied for music appreciation class, I knew I just needed to study all the green notes, never minding the colors between.

I like to shelve my books according to color. It's beautiful, especially the purples and pinks.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Building and Maintaining an Adult Friendship.

Bruce and I are quite different in the ways we've experienced friendship. He makes friends easily and likes almost everyone with little effort. I had a pocket of close friends until my family and I moved when I was 12. My best friend was Keely. I couldn't make new friends until I was 14 and met Melissa. She and I got through a lot together during our teen and early adult years.

Bruce came to a new state to teach. I lived far from my friends. Bruce and I met, and we helped each other at work. I knew that an adult friendship, particularly one that included me, would be quite different. These are some of the steps I learned.
  • Recognize the investment. Bruce was relaxed and happy about the whole deal while I was making myself crazy, believing myself incapable of managing another relationship. We both had to realize that it was going to be hard work (a least for a time).
  • Decide on a level of risk. Investing that much is always a risk. I decided to go all in and see what happened. 
  • Build up experiences. We went to movies and regional shows. Every little shared experience, like examining all the pens at Staples, strengthened our bond. 
  • Get the secrets over with. I think Bruce knows every bad thing I've done. He's heard most of my stories. He claims to have no secrets. Hmm.
  • Read together. For the first year or so, we read books together. I think we read 5 or 6 and discussed them as we went. It was our tiny book club. This brought up a lot of ideas we never would have discussed otherwise.
  • Release your sense of humor. I think we've merged on what we find funny, and we can make each other laugh pretty easily. 
  • Hug. Bruce a master hugger. I'm sure that made us closer more quickly. 
  • Schedule. Bruce didn't like this at first, but with work and family, it was practical. For me, it was imperative know when we would see each other again. Bruce has embraced the scheduling! It makes me feel much more secure.
I'm glad I tried all this and learned from it. It has gotten a lot easier.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Kind of Reader I Should Be.

I love characters that authors describe as voracious readers. What a great compliment. I think I've been voracious in my thoughts if not in practice.

But reading is a vital practice for me. I haven't been a very confident reader--I read too slowly, I'll never get through that long book, the language may be over my head, this book may take all my attention and distract me from all else. These doubts haven't done anything for me, so it's probably time to get rid of them and focus instead on being a strong reader: adventurous, curious, brave, attentive.
  • Attentive: I usually have this one. Maybe I have too much--I reread lines and paragraphs to make sure I got everything. I need at least a little time in a quiet reading environment.
  • Curious: I get curious looking at new release bays at the library. I need to roam Barnes more and check GoodReads more often.
  • Adventurous: a challenging book should be fun.
  • Brave: no more worrying about whether I'm a strong enough reader. I'll get stronger, especially if I'm sharpening my mind on a challenging book.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Loving Gold Too.

I've always loved silver. I thought of gold as my mother's signature tone. She seemed like a princess from a book, a little golden light always with her.

Gold seemed warm while silver had a chill like stars. Growing up, I rarely wore major jewelry. I would wear one simple necklace (a choker with shining hot pink beads from my mother...a tiny silver oval locket from my boyfriend at the time) every day. I wore an Irish wedding band for a long time. My great grandmother gave me a silver and turquoise owl ring.

But ust in the last few years, I've started loving gold too. Interestingly enough, Mom now primarily wears silver or white gold! Maybe this representes other changes we've both made or experienced. Several of my necklaces, including the one I wear most days, are gold tone. I love certain Betsey Johnson necklaces especially, and most of those are gold tone.

My metals are mixed, hanging together from hooks and knobs in my room, and they both shine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stories about Hair.

My hair has been every length, from all the way down my back to a pixie cut. It's been natural brown and reddish brown and dyed red and black.

My pixie cut and dark dye were my most extreme change. I was 23. Terrible things had happened. I'd said I'd never dye my hair, but the world was different. I needed to be different. I'd always wondered if I could pull off a pixie anyway.

Cutting hair in response to experiences wasn't new. I cut my hair shoulder-length when I was 18 over a break-up. But it was more than just some break-up, and I knew I had to be a new person to live past it. My lovely Melissa was there, encouraging me both about the hair and the life.

I cut my hair into a bob before Josh retruned from the army with a medical discharge. Our lives were not going to be what I'd imagined and accepted. I wanted Josh to see I'd changed, that I was changing with him.

But I actually feel most like myself with long hair, even if it's frizzy or unhealthy. I've had a few perms, and I do love curls, so that may happen again someday.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Exchanging Books.

I've thought it would be interesting for Josh and I to choosing books the other should read over the next year. I like the idea, but he might choose books that are too difficult or disturbing for me, and he might not like what I choose either. But I guess that branching out is the point. Books could shape one's mind and refine a personality, challenge the reader, or simply help the reader better understand the other person. 

Here are my ideas for Josh:
  1. Dangerous Angels
  2. The Good Earth
  3. The Sugar Queen
  4. How I Live Now
  5. Jane Eyre
  6. Wuthering Heights
  7. Writing down the Bones
  8. Ghost Girl 
  9. 5 Love Languages
  10. Living a Beautiful Life
This is a pretty good start. 10 might be good for a year the first time; we'd still have plenty of time for our own books. Just for fun, I'll ask Josh which books he would choose for me.