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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.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Book a Day.

In the movie God Help the Girl, the character Eve sings, "I read a book a day like an apple." I like how this connects reading to health.

I read a memoir of someone who moved into Shakespeare and Company. Besides helping to run the store, the only rent was that he had to read a whole book every day and let the owner quiz him.

The thought of reading a book a day is fascinating and fightening. Think what that amount of literature could do to one's heart and mind! It could be magical. How on earth would I find the time to read so much? Maybe I have concentration problems and get distracted too easily. I know I don't use all my free minutes well. If I'm nervous, I can't read at all.

When we lived in a remote town when Josh taught his first year of high school, I was working on my thesis and reading books the faculty had assigned. My goal was to read 100 books that year, but I often finished a book each day. I didn't start and finish in one day all the time, but I usually had a rotation of books going at once. I read poetry aloud, and when I'm really present for poetry, I swim through it quickly. I consider those 100+ books one of my best accomplishments. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016


If someone had never met me but saw my jewelry laid out on a table, he or she might think me vain or materialistic. That person wouldn't even know how many necklaces I gave to Mom to dismantle for crafts!

But another person might find the jewelry interesting and the owner creative.I have so many kinds of necklaces and earrings. I only have 2 or 3 pieces of real jewelry. I love costume jewelry. A lot of mine comes from Ann Taylor Loft or Betsey Johnson. I'm good at hunting for sales.

I was at the mall with Mom, Shane, Josh, and Oliver a few years ago when Mom noticed a short, gold-tone necklace with three purple-rhinestone-adorned snowflakes. It was too perfect. It was too expensive. I bought it anyway, and I put it on right then.

During a major sale at Banana Republic, Mom and I found a necklace in black, silver tone, and gold tone with several large chains and matching keys of varying shapes and sizes. It makes me think of a darker version of The Secret Garden. 

Jewelry is fun and expressive for me, and it boosts my confidence. I'm trying to wear some each day even though I'm not working. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

How to Stay in Love (and Make it Work!) for 10 Years.

Somehow, Josh and I have done this. We had rocky beginnings, and I often regard our relationship as a miracle. And while I still believe that, I want to think about what we've done, practically, to keep our relationship strong, happy, and fun.
  • Find common interests or experiences as soon as possible. Josh and I were taking two of the same classes, so we were pre-connected through theatre and poetry. We found music and movies we both liked. These are little bits of relationship glue.
  • Gather experiences together, such as visiting botanical gardens, going out to a movie or play, going to concerts, or talking about books at Barnes and Noble.
  • Touch. Don't skip the joy of holding hands. This one is tricky, but touch (even a touch on the shoulder) wakes up all those bonding hormones. This can build a close connection quickly and can patch a relationship that is facing challenges. So keep touching no matter how long you've been together.
  • Learn the other person's sense of humor. Try to merge it with yours. Laughter creates intimacy too. Make inside jokes over time.
  • Tell your secrets. Invest when it feels like a bearable risk. 
  • Commit to avoiding destructive behaviors such as shouting and name calling. These can wreck in minutes what you've worked on for years.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Ways to Stay Engaged with Your Journal.

One can have a life-long relationship with a journal. The journal itself will change over time, just as the person writing will. One beautiful aspect of the journal is that it is a kind of writing that is open to everyone--not only to aspiring or professional writers. But any long-term relationship needs adjustments. Here are some ideas for keeping your journaling fresh.
  • Play with color. If your journals are plain, try one a colorful cover and colorful or screen printed pages.
  • Shop for future volumes. Go to Barnes, a stationery shop, or a gift shop. Seeing those empty journals may make you want to scribble.
  • Stop worrying about being messy. If your handwriting changes daily, it's just reflecting your changing moods.
  • Use different kinds of writing utensils: markers, ballpoints, metallic or glitter Gelly Rolls, a fountain pen...focus on the tactile experience. Find your favorites.
  • Doodle. Add stickers. Make a mess.
  • If you find inspiring questions, quotations, or phrases, write them on a new page. Respond to the prompt on that page right away, or flag it an come back to it later.
  • If you love an expensive journal but feel bad about buying it, remember that you may use it daily for months. Maybe that's worthwhile!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Favorite Objects.

I have a close relationship with concrete objects. I could tell stories about most of the objects in my house. Object draw me to others and connect me to myself. Here are some of my favorites:
  • The silky green button-down blouse Mom gave me. I remember her buying it. She let me wear it to my reading at Queens, and I felt that my reading went well. Mom had the shirt for years, and I was so surprised when she gave it to me. Good memories live in the stitches.
  • My blanket. It's soft, pink, and stretchy. I've had it since I was a baby, and I still sleep with it. Falling asleep without it is difficult.
  • My collection/selection of pens. These inspire me to write, and they can match any mood.
  • My makeup. I love all the colors and the degrees of shimmer. It makes me feel more like myself, and it gives me a way to express how I feel on a given day.
  • My denim chaise lounge. I taught an extra class to buy this. It's elegant (chaise) in a sassy (denim) way. I need to use it more.
  • My necklaces. I seriously reduced my collection recently, but I still have many beautiful necklaces that make me feel confident and pretty.
What are some of your favorite objects?