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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Kind of Prayer.

I feel perplexed and wordless. But I'd rather say the wrong thing than say nothing.

As a person with panic disorder, I live in great fear every day. I dread what many or most barely notice. And I know how fear cripples my ability to love.

Fear coupled with hate breeds cruelty, violence, and evil. This can splatter far beyond the actual objects of the fear and hate. It can cover everything.

Every person needs to acknowledge his or her fear. His or her hate.

Love has got to be stronger than hate.

Love has got to be bigger than fear.

Love coupled with kindness creates hope.

We need hope desperately.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What I Can Look Forward To.

I'm not feeling my best. Actually, my feelings are ominous. I only know a few ways to combat that, and one is happy anticipation. So what can I look forward to?
  • The mail. It comes almost every day, and even though it's mostly bills and EOBs, I look forward to it. I just recently got a surprise gift in the mail!
  • Time with Josh on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Josh doesn't go to the office every day in the summer, and Oliver goes to ABA (for autism treatment). We might run errands, exercise together, or just nap.
  • The next book. I have so many great books waiting for me. Of course, I have to finish the current book.
  • Seeing family. I try to see my family once a month or so. I can always look forward to so much laughter.
  • Putting on makeup. I do this almost every day, and as long as I'm not too rushed, it's fun. I play around with colors and mix older products with newer ones. I still have samples I've not yet tried.
  • Using my current favorite pen. It's soft and black with a gold clip and a white end that makes it look like a magician's wand. The tip is almost needle thin. I write with it daily.
What do you look forward to when you're in a thick gloom or worse?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beauty Wish List.

Since I was 16 (half my life!), I've always had a big beauty wish list. I don't know if any shopping is as fun as shopping for makeup. I love it alone and with a companion. I love it in a bright Ulta or a shadowy Sephora. I love the colors and sparks that catch my eye. I love swatching the colors on my wrist, seeing which ones really sparkle like they do in the pan and which ones last on my skin. I'm not doing much shopping these days, but these items are at the top of my wish list.

1. Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Eye Shadow Trio in Peace. These sea glass shades stun me, and they all glitter or glimmer. I have trouble finding blues that shimmer and suit me. But these are perfect. I received a sample of Bobbi Brown's Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Golden Pink, and I've been paying attention to Bobbi Brown ever since. Funny, I used to think she was too grown-up for me! But I'm suddenly 32, and she has a lot of the glitter I love.

2. Too Faced Glitter Bomb Eyeshadow Collection. I like every color! When does that happen? The palette has plenty of pinks, which I'm loving right now, and the sea foam shade with the blue glitter is gorgeous. I'm so glad to see that sparkles are coming back. I can't wait to play with this at Ulta or our mini Sephora in J. C. Penny's. By the way, Too Faced is my second favorite beauty brand (after Urban Decay).

3. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Cruel. This shimmery red will complete my Snow White look! And I love the shiny metal tube. I love UB for continuing with shimmers and metallics despite the matte trend (though UD certainly does matte too!).

4. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Bloom. This is a newish pink shade I want to try. Sugar Lip is amazing--the perfect blend of lip balm and lipstick. I've gotten Mom hooked on it too. I think we both discovered it when two mini balms were the birthday gift from Sephora. The rosy metal tubes are so fancy. At $24, though, I won't be buying Sugar any time soon!

5. Marc Jacobs Beauty Twinkle Pop Stick Eyeshadow in Frannie 408 (white shimmer),
6. Shoshanna 414 (teal shimmer), and
7. On the Verge 412 (grape shimmer). I fell hard for Marc Jacobs Beauty when I tested his Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in (Luna)Tic 64 on my wrist. The color, shimmer, and texture were just perfect. I think I thought I wasn't good enough for Marc Jacobs. Psssh. And right now, I'm so into crayon or stick eyeshadow, so these are dreamy.

8. Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eye Shadow in Silver Lilac,
9. Ballet Pink, and
10. Sunlight. I have a custom Bobbi Brown eyeshadow palette with space for six shadows. The palette currently holds one! It's a pretty purple shimmer, and I'd love to give it some sparkly friends.

11. LORAC's Beauty and the Beast Cheek Palette and
12. Beauty and the Beast PRO Eyeshadow Palette. I don't need to tell you why these are so awesome. I was so happy to see them; I'm still mourning the death of the Disney-Sephora collaboration. The packaging here is lovely, and I love the variety. If I had to choose between these two, surprisingly, I would pick the cheek palette. I'd use the colors for blush and for eyeshadow. I've never had anything by LORAC.

13. Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner in Spandex (dark blue),
14. AMP (light blue), and
15. Junkshow (hot pink). I have this in ACDC (purple). It's fun to use on its own but also looks good over a matte black eyeliner. I love the Cinderella blue (AMP) especially.

Those top the list! What kinds of wish lists are you hiding?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Loving What I Have.

For much of our marriage, Josh and I have been broke. I have plenty of memories of more prosperous points. One of my favorites is of eating take-out Panera every Sunday on our huge balcony in Charlotte. I remember the fun of shopping for work clothes at Loft with my mom and of buying journals wherever I found special ones. Right now, we're leveled because I'm too sick (or would quickly become too sick) to work, Josh can't find supplementary work (and he's working hard already), we all have hundreds of dollars in prescription and doctor copays, Oliver is starting new autism treatment, and more.

I love shopping. To me, it's more like curating areas of my life. I love choosing writing tools and makeup especially. I'm not fixated on clothes or furniture or home goods right now, though I've certainly been there with manic intensity (literally bipolar).

So. I have to focus more on loving what I already have. Only when I'm in a blaze of mania am I likely to buy something I won't love forever. Even then, it's rare. I have a lot of objects, but they are specific to me, chosen for my life or treasured as gifts. They help me be who I am and want to be, or they remind me of that.

I have writing tools to last a lifetime. I have enough journals and pens to last, though special tools will still go on my wish lists. Some of the journals are incredibly beautiful, and most have pages I've adorned with stickers, an easy way to add a little personalized beauty and magic. I have a ton of pens, and I use them. I alternate colors and match them to the journal's cover art.

I also have a lot of makeup. I've loved eye makeup for many years, but I've more recently been interested in lipstick too. Applying makeup is a reliably fun part of my day. Right now, I'm trying to create a different look every time I wear makeup--it helps me rediscover and make good use of what I have. Still, I have a wish list for makeup too, of course! I may even share it with you.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What Makes Me Feel Beautiful.

  • Jeans that fit. Even if I don't like the size I need.
  • Unexpected glitter on my skin, such as finding sparkles on my hands after using a glitter gel pen.
  • Dancing, even if I'm just playing around at home.
  • Jewelry. Earrings and necklaces are another way to express my style, and they make me feel confident. Out in the world, I get more compliments on my jewelry than anything else.
  • Displaying photos of myself when I was truly happy. I have one in my living room. It reminds me of how capable I am of happiness and how pretty that happiness can be. It's also just a great photo of Oliver and me, so I see it when I visit family too.
  • Being told I'm beautiful. As I've said, I get this from two men every day and on sweet rare occasions from others. People do need to be told they look great; I need to remember that.
  • Swimming. I feel fluid and bright in the water.
  • Hearing that I'm graceful. A few people have said this (when I was 12, 20...), and it's one of the best compliments.
  • Wearing pink. Pink seems to do what even makeup can't. I feel aglow when I wear certain shades of pink.
  • Wearing rings. Someone complimented my hands when I was 14, and I've never forgotten it. I love adding sparkle to my hands--rings catch the light and adorn my hands, which are precious tools without which I couldn't turn a page.
  • Writing by hand. The pose and movement feel lovely, and I know I must glimmer when I'm deep in one of the actions I love most.
  • Having Good Mother Moments. A good mother is always beautiful. I feel a little of that beauty when I know I'm effectively guiding Oliver or showing him love.
  • Getting eye contact from Oliver. Occasionally, he will smile, tilt his head, and gaze into my eyes for several seconds. I drop everything and feel like I must have wings.
  • Wearing lipstick. I went years without caring for lipstick, but now, I'm enjoying it, especially if it sparkles. I've even started using lip liner! I like having some control over the face I show each day.
  • Wearing eye makeup. I like my green eyes, and I like framing them. It's a way to play and express myself.
  • Good leave-in conditioner. My hair is naturally unruly and tangled. But if it's trimmed and shiny and dark, I feel like Snow White.
  • Embracing my skin. I'm quite pale, but I enjoy the contrast with my hair.
  • Complimenting others. When I notice and comment on others' appearance, for some reason, I feel pretty too.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Current Emergencies.

  • I'm nearly out of mermaid stickers.
  • I don't have enough store credit to buy the mermaid journals at 2nd and Charles.
  • My birthday has passed, and I must live without eating carrot cake twice a day.
  • I can't buy all the sparkly makeup in the world (especially this).
  • I'm not automatically getting thin.
  • I won't see Phantom until March.
  • My black eyeliner is transferring.
  • The Phantom refuses to sing to me through the mirror on my door.
  • Terrence Mann never wrote me back.
  • The Handmaid's Tale is over. Until NEXT YEAR.
  • Rain has soaked the ankles of my jeans. Shudder.
  • I can't find my Beauty and the Beast sweatshirt (edit: Josh found it).
  • I won't be going to Disney World any time soon.
  • Mail doesn't come on Sundays. Mail is the original Chick Fil-A.
  • I look forward to mail, and then, it's bills.
  • I'm terrible at painting my nails.
  • I can't say essential words like giraffe, kimono, and mischievous.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last Day of 31.

Every year on the day before my birthday, I take some time to write about or at least ponder all that I've done in the previous year. I feel like I should earn the next year. Thirty-one has not been an easy year, so I'm going to do my best with this.
  • I've adjusted to being a stay-at-home mother--not the best one, but a functional one.
  • I spent the entire year trying to get Oliver set up in ABA therapy. And tomorrow, on my birthday, Oliver will meet his own ABA technician who will work with him one-on-one for 20 hours a week.
  • I got Oliver into pre-Kindergarten--much paperwork and plenty of meetings (with help from Mom).
  • I recovered from my first broken bone.
  • I embraced stability when I had it and didn't despair when I lost it. I'm scraping along.
  • I watched my blog exceed 100,000 views.
  • I read 39 books.
My list is usually much longer, but some of these are especially impactful or took an especially long time. So, do you think that's enough?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

My Unrealistic Wish List!

  • Always-swift reading ability.
  • A box of each Sunburst Metallic Gel pen color.
  • A sudden ability to play the piano.
  • A sudden ability to play the bass guitar (or at least the bass for "Money for Nothing").
  • A large collection of all the discontinued Dark Stardust Gelly Roll pens.
  • A long visit to English with lots of walking about.
  • Perfect pronunciation.
  • A night or two alone with Josh in a fancy hotel.
  • A week at Disney World with a happy Oliver (and money for souvenirs!).
  • Quick travel to visit Melissa.
  • All the books on my GoodReads want-to-read list.
  • Perfectly painted nails at all times with no action or effort from me.
  • Chocolate-covered strawberries always in  my fridge.
  • Always having room (and spare calories) for dessert.
  • A small collection of 10-inch Cisette Madame Alexander dolls.
  • Blue Moon Cafe's chocolate and brie croissant paninis always available.
  • Clothes that put themselves away (by color!).
  • Regular massages with oils that don't give me a rash.
  • Pretty, practical storage for all my jewelry.
  • To read a magazine every day and then donate it (unless it's really special, of course).
  • Frequent roller skating.
  • Never needing to wake up before 7.
  • Being in control of when I fall asleep.
  • A sugar glider.
  • Seahorses...and someone to take care of them.
  • A collage in my room of all Bella Pilar's greeting cards.
  • Endless Target gift cards.
  • Spreadable brie any time (it's often out of stock).
  • A sudden appreciation of hot and cold tea.
  • Tickets to Phantom  in surrounding cities.
  • Precise makeup application with my own flair every time.
  • Hair that stays dyed and trimmed.
  • Lollia bubble baths.
  • That Bruce and I will always live near each other.
  • A full-size Sephora in our city.
  • A Paper Source in our city.
  • A Papyrus in our city.
  • Reaching and maintaining my good weight.
  • Unlimited funds to buy other people gifts.
  • An annual mountain trip with Keely.
  • Easy, present storage of my journals.
  • Free access to beauty and stationery subscription boxes.
  • The return of the faux marble pens I loved in 6th grade.
  • The sudden ability to play the clarinet.
  • The ability to see a whole room in one color.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Kind of Girl.

I want to be the kind of girl who
  • Sips hot tea while watching the sunrise.
  • Feels pretty every day.
  • Wears makeup just for fun even if staying home.
  • Buys a book and immediately reads it.
  • Always uses Love stamps.
  • Uses wax and a seal.
  • Plays piano and clarinet.
  • Writes letters every week.
  • Forgives everyone, even if she doesn't reinstate everyone.
  • Doesn't ever find books intimidating.
  • Always knows when to trust and when to question.
  • Is perfectly slender but not too thin.
  • Is a very patient mother.
  • Has better instincts and capabilities if someone needs help.
  • Is good at stuffing maximum meaning into every minute, especially when alone.
  • Isn't afraid of lighting a match.
  • Likes her own feet.
  • Isn't afraid of simple conversations.
  • Speaks French. Why not?
  • Is good at painting her own nails.
  • Is skilled at appropriate discipline.
  • Is not afraid of Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Can trust her own mind.
  • Always finds time to read and write.
  • Walks gracefully without losing her balance.
  • Can earn a living by reviewing notebooks/journals and writing utensils.
  • Sings a little, draws a little...a whole sampling of talents.
  • Likes coffee and other hot beverages.
  • Still writes poetry and stories.
  • Feels comfortable with dogs.
  • Keeps up with her blogs!
  • Is more girl than woman but knows how to be both.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Best Bits of Christmas Songs.

Some Christmas songs are so joyful and hopeful that I want to keep them with me all the time. These are two of my favorite lyrics.

"Tidings of comfort and joy." I feel I could wrap these words around me like a fleecy coat. Do I pay attention to such tidings? Do I let myself rest in comfort and joy? Often, I don't. I don't accept comfort when people or circumstances offer it. I back away from joy, perhaps because I'm afraid of losing it. But these lyrics are so hopeful that they remind me to let comfort and joy wash over me.

"All is calm; all is bright." I gave this to one of my journals as a title. I have loved these words for so long. I waited too long to buy a Pottery Barn pillow with these words in chalkboard style on the cover. Calm and bright are so perfect. That's how I want to be. That's how I want to see the world--not just safe but thriving. That's how I want to see myself. Not knowing these were favorite lyrics, Bruce gave me a black box with these words in gold letters and gold polka dots. It's on my nightstand where I see it night and day.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Favorite Objects.

Of course, this is a just a sampling, and it's in no particular order.
  • A pouch my mom made for me. It's purple with a pale pink zipper and tiny fairies! I use it for the pens I'm using in my journal. Right now, it's full of blue, gold, and purple.
  • My blanket. I don't know where it came from, but I've had it since I was a baby. I'm still attached to it, and I sleep with it under my head.
  • My current journal. I form an attachment to the journal I'm using. It's full of my thoughts, serious and trivial. It travels with me.
  • A beautiful charm necklace my mother made for me. My favorite things seem to have come to protect or encourage me--snowflakes, seahorses, fairies, words themselves.
  • My past journals. In a way, these are my life's work. I worry about what will happen to them when I die. They are starting to grow past their boundaries on my shelf. My encapsulate whole seasons and such details of my life.
  • A rhinestone Tinkerbell necklace. Josh bought it for me on one of the darkest days of my life. Now, it reassures me that I can be okay.
  • My fountain pens. They are beautiful, amazing. I wanted one so much as a child. To satisfy that child, I have a white pen and a hot pink one. 
  • My music on Spotify. It helps me when I do chores and get ready.
  • My makeup. It gives me something to play with every day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Exceptional Friends.

I've not had a great many close friends in my life, but many of them have been amazing and still are.

The Tennessee girls (Keely, Kendall, Leah, Tracy) and I share so many precious and ridiculous memories. "Murder in the dark" and a winking card game come to mind. We have so many laugh-until-you-hurt slumber parties. We went to church camp together. They often embraced my obsessions and let me direct wild plays. We all cried the last night I saw them before moving out of state.

Harmony was older than us, but boy did she and I have fun. Riding a Wave Runner, jumping into the lake, crawling around in various forts in the attic, under the stairs, and under the house. We played hide and seek in the dark. She always made me feel loved.

Keely specifically was so clearly my best friend from birth that it seemed predestined. She was there, in person or on the phone, for most of my growing-up experiences. She (along with my mother) was my original definition of beauty.

Melissa and I met when we were 14. We became friends immediately. So many notes, letters, chicken sandwiches, shopping trips, and shared secrets. We have walked through such terrible things together. And we've shared so much laughter and outrageous gift giving. We often kept each other going.

And I'm so blessed now to have a relatively new friend who lives in the complex next door. Bruce and I met at work, and we carpooled for a long time. He has read books about my illness to help him understand and know what to do. We've read books together--a tiny book club. He has helped me sand down the edges of my most painful memories. We laugh so much that Josh says we'll get kicked out of stores. Bruce takes an interest in all I do. I know I could trust him with the worst.

I've been so lucky to have these precious friends.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Delight: February and March.

Delight is my word of the year. Am I seeking it enough? Creating it enough? Giving it to others enough? Absorbing it and celebrating it enough? I hope so, but I'm sure I can do more. Here are some tastes of delight from the past month.
  • Gold pens that are expensive but write forever.
  • Using trendy planner stickers in my journal.
  • Only need 5 out of my 20 Amazon subscriptions.
  • Looking at an entire magazine. More than one!
  • A new "how to be French" book--my guilty pleasure. Some are wonderful; some are terrible.
  • Drinking iced mocha in the evening.
  • Getting Oliver to eat broccoli (he loves it!).
  • So many sticky flags that are characters from books (Thanks, Bruce).
  • Watching Oliver dance.
  • Oliver's singing Tears for Fears in the bathtub.
  • Buying a birthday gift for my mom.
  • Josh found vanilla Dippin Dots at the nearby gas station. He came home with 5 pouches.
  • Finding Rags and Bones (fairy tale retellings) for $2.50.
  • Looking at books with Bruce.
  • Taking photos of Josh and Oliver cuddling in their sleep.
  • Putting stickers in a teal journal that says, "She leaves a little sparkle everywhere she goes."
  • Thinking about what Josh and I will do during his spring break. which will give us time alone at home while Oliver is at school.
  • Asking for a love note and getting one.
  • Not being too lay to go to the gym with Josh.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Joy and Hope.

Where joy is, hope is nearby.

I remember being 9 or 10 years old and feeling scared and guilty about the fact that I was not joyful. I was shy and sullen without my team of friends and sometimes even with them. I decorated a binder with the theme of joy. I wrote down scriptures, hymn lyrics, and sermon notes related to joy. I meditated on these, and I prayed.

What was wrong with me? I felt happy when I played and sang to showtunes endlessly. I felt a tremendous energy when I bossed my friends into putting on plays and lip-sync musicals. Nothing really turned off the deep-seated, quiet terror that something was wrong with me, that I was somehow bad or broken.

I learned to cling to joy as I grew up. The fear in me was still present but was not a stomach-crushing boulder. I fell in love with Irish step dance after seeing Riverdance with my friend Kendall. I took lessons and competed for 3 years. I felt joy--using my energy well, discovering a talent.

This gave me hope--joy could exist for me, safe places existed, and safe people existed and could perhaps handle the emotional and mental weight of me. I could be or become okay.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I'm Looking forward To...

  • Giving Mom her birthday gift. I love giving people presents. Mom and I have great fun exchanging gifts.
  • Seeing Beauty and the Beast with Mom and maybe getting McDonald's spicy Coke and DP afterward. Eh, Mama?
  • My next bath.
  • Catching up to my reading goal pace. I will make it happen!
  • Reading more of Tell the Wolves I'm Home.
  • Reading a magazine I got on the evolution of the Beauty and the Beast tale.
  • Seeing The Bodyguard in Durham.
  • Seeing Phantom for the sixth time next year.
  • Spending next week with Josh--he's on spring break, but Oliver will be in school!
  • Having my hair dyed black again.
  • Watching Documentary Now and the recent episodes of Bates Motel.
  • Some kind of traveling.
  • Magic time to read all my magazines.
  • New books from Francesca Lia Block, Marisa de los Santos, Amy Gerstler, Sarah Addison Allen, Jennifer McMahon, and others.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Relationship with Green.

I don't remember much about my relationship with green while I was growing up. Maybe it reminds me of Girl Scouts. I also remember a forest green knit skirt and matching top. It made me feel grown up. From ages 12 to 15, I was a competitive Irish step dancer, so I formed a connection with kelly green especially.

Green didn't really make my list of potential favorite colors. The shift may have happened when I was an older teenager, and my mom bought a gorgeous, silky green button-down top. It was one of the prettiest things I'd ever seen. She let me wear it for my public reading for my MFA, and it boosted my confidence. Fairly recently, she gave me the shirt. Amazing. I need to wear it to the theatre.

Anyway, I was a purple girl, Mom was a pink girl, but we both fell in love with green. When I started teaching, I had to figure out what to wear and how to wear it. I had almost nothing that was work-appropriate, so Mom and I often tried on clothes together at Loft. We found this beautiful emerald short-sleeved cardigan and loved it so much that we each bought one.

We also found a gorgeous moss green crushed velvet jacket, which Mom said I deserved. When Mom thinks I deserve something, I take it seriously.

Green makes me feel awake and alive. It empowers me, whether it's a shirt, a pen, or some awesome green eye makeup.

Monday, March 6, 2017

More about Pink.

I wrote about pink recently, but I want to write some more about it.

I can see more of it around the house today. Two finished journals on the ottoman, one with a lollipop tree and one with hearts. The back of my phone case. My baby pink coat on a hook. A pink legal pad with endless to-do lists. The back of an inspirational pillow. A dish towel with a bead-sprinkled cupcake on it. A board book called I Like Myself.

I don't own a lot of pink clothes and such, but they always make me feel pretty. It's a confidence boost, and I feel more serene. I've probably written about the awesome hot pink ombre pants I had as a high school junior.

Actually, our bathroom is all pink and purple polka dots. Josh is such a good sport. However, he says he likes the way I decorate.

Levenger used to make Pinkly, a gorgeous hot pink ink. It shone in a glass bottle. Luckily, I still have some.

Pink reminds me of my mom, who has always loved pink. I think of her roses and of Aurora, her favorite princess, in her magical pink-blue dress.

So far, I have resisted a beautiful pink one piece from Old Navy. I did not, however, resist the Sephora brand Diamond Eyeliner, which is black with pink glitter. Perfect.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Times I've Felt Most Loved Part I.

This is just a small selection.
  • My dad took me to see Phantom when I was 8. I had been obsessed with it. He validated and participated in that Phantom (and theatre in general) obsession.
  • My parents gave me tickets to Phantom (I promise these aren't all about Phantom) for my...22nd birthday. Mom even decorated a gift bag with a still from the show and lots of black and silver ribbons. I have that pinned to the wall by my bed.
  • My dad sent me the song "Comfort You" by Erick Baker. The lyrics show acceptance and validation for a daughter's mental or emotional struggles.
  • My mom told me about Edwin McCain's song "I Want It All," which also made me feel accepted and valuable. I feel better every time I hear it.
  • A high school teacher seemed geniunely sad that I was switching schools. He said, "We haven't hurt you. We've helped you." Now, it makes me wonder what he noticed. He also wrote great recommendations for me. He described me as introspective, a kind word to sum up my personality and some of my flaws. 
  • Bruce told me about Alanis Morisette's song "Guardian." Noticing a pattern? I'll write more about these kinds of songs soon. 
  • When I was 15, I had a terrible break-up aftermath issue, and my friend Jamie stayed up with me as I cried for hours.
  • Josh encourages me all the time. He always seems happy and even surprised to see me, even if I were just right around the corner.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Unlimited Time and Funds.

Let's go ahead and add unlimited courage. Now, what might I do?
  • Earn my M.A. in children's literature
  • Take several classes in Egyptian art and culture
  • Join regional theatre, even for silent roles
  • Follow a Phantom of the Opera tour and explore the cities
  • Take a writing class with Francesca Lia Block
  • But a set of high-quality, matching white bookcases
  • Make collages again and put them on etsy. 
  • Join all kinds of subscription boxes
  • Pay someone to paint my nails properly with my polish (I have a good collection)
  • Visit all my old friends in Nashville at least once a year
  • Expand my Madame Alexander doll collection just a bit
  • Focus on writing stories and then sending them out--see what happens! I'd do it like a day job
  • Send care packages regularly to people I love
  • Try a support group
  • See more ballet
  • Get a texture treatment for large, lazy curls
  • Have seahorses and someone to take proper care of them
  • Take courses in handwriting analysis
  • Take Keely and Melissa on some kind of road trip
  • Go to shows in Vegas with Bruce
  • Get all my teeth fixed up and sparkly white
  • Pay everything off--student loans, medical bills, etc.
  • Always be in a creative writing class or group

Friday, February 17, 2017

Don't Be Afraid of a Book.

This isn't so much about my giving you advice and a challenge. It's more like my coaching myself.

My husband will pick up any giant old first edition from the library at the college where he teaches. He never questions his strength as a reader. I do think that some of this comes from his wide interests--the books do keep his attention.

But if a book seems too long or dense, I usually don't give it a chance to fascinate me. I have several partly-read books in GoodReads limbo because putting the books down completely would feel like failure.

Recently, I spent forever on one book--I couldn't take the style. But now, I'm about 3/4 through it, and it was a gift. I need to learn to push through if I insist on finishing a difficult book.

I'm 4 books behind on my reading goal! But I can overcome that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sparkle.

Right now, on little jewelry dishes and big wooden, painted signs, I see words about sparkling---leave some sparkle behind, don't let anyone dull it...I wonder why.

Often, when people have looked me in the face, they have commented on glitter around my eyes and falling to my cheeks as if a craft session went wrong. They don't exactly look happy when I say it's on purpose, but they seem to change gears in their thinking. So I do think something as minor as makeup can influence people. It influences me too--I look sparkly, and I start to feel sparkly too.

Early Francesca Lia Block books make me sparkle inside--all those spun-sugar details and mind-opening ideas carried inside the characters.... They change my approach to the world.

I think laughter makes me sparkle too. And the people to whom I'm closest are hilarious.

Even blogging brings out some shimmer. I focus, often on something beautiful or life-sustaining. And I remember why I want to be here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Seeing and Creating Symbolism.

When I taught, I often discussed symbolism. I told my students that symbolism wasn't just something they had to dig for in a literature paper. I talked about how they recognize, whether consciously or not, symbols in their daily lives both in the moment and in later reflection. We talked about simple objects, such as a wedding band, and how the meaning is probably different for each of us when we go deeper.

We use symbols to remind ourselves and show others who we are. I want as much meaning or memory as possible in whatever I surround myself with.

My parents gave me a beautiful ring for my graduation with my MFA. To me, the ring didn't just represent their love for me. It showed me that they accepted and supported my passion for writing, that they were proud of it.

The symbols around us can change our lives in so many ways.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What I'd Take Home to Mars.

Two movies I've loved lately are Passengers and The Space between Us. In the latter, a handful of astronauts go to Mars to live. I guess new supplies and people would arrive, but that would be after months or years. So, assuming obvious necessary items would be in place, what would I bring or request? I have to imagine it as if I'm single and childless--it's terrible otherwise. Some items won't be realistic, but just go with me.
  • Hair ties
  • Sticky flags
  • Access to favorite movies
  • Lots of working writing utensils
  • Fresh Sugar lip balms
  • Fun makeup, depending on gravity
  • My blanket, of course
  • Some beautiful silk flowers: violets, mini daffodils, mini tulips, white and pink roses
  • My Disney graphic tees for PJs
  • Natalie Goldberg books
  • Francesca Lia Block books
  • Fleece pants
  • Nail polish for hidden toes
  • Some pretty postcards for my quarters
  • A pretty calendar--Papaya, Susan Branch, K. Y. Craft...
  • My most beautiful journals--plenty of them. The finished journals would have a safe home on Earth.
  • A good glasses-cleaning cloth
  • Cute socks
  • The ultimate hair brush
  • Letters from people I love--I'd ask in advance.
  • My Ariel jacket
  • Access to so many books, some of them concrete
  • My Madame Alexander Cinderella doll
  • Icebreakers Cinnamon Mints
  • A few of my most beautiful fairy tale books
  • Laminated photos
  • Puffs with lotion
Most of the items I chose because they would help me remember my self and feel like myself, if only for a little bit of time.

What's on your list?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

So Much Joy.

I get so much joy out of

  • The faux opal and silver ring that came out of a bath bomb.
  • Cheap ballpoints that write beautifully.
  • Anyone telling me that Josh and I are doing well with Oliver. We need all the encouragement we can get.
  • Eye contact and hugs with both arms from Oliver.
  • Forgetting how silly my laugh can sound.
  • A kind word about my blogs from someone I never would have expected the posts.
  • Liking every nail polish in the set.
  • One of my parents saying or writing, "I'm proud of you."
  • Putting on sweats after a cold swim. 
  • Finding out that my brother liked the book I sent him for his birthday.
  • Figuring out what to wear to a show.
  • Just cinnamon toast for dinner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Delight! in January and February.

Delight is my word for 2017. So I want to check in and make sure I'm seeking, creating, and noticing it. Here's a small list of delights:
  • Writing in a journal with hearts all over the cover. 
  • Glitter stickers that make a delightful mess. 
  • A large, golden Beauty and the Beast journal I plan to use in March.
  • Passengers, a romantic sci-fi movie I loved.
  • The Space between Us, also a sci-fi romance that I look forward to seeing again.
  • Using a pen with an unexpected shade of pink.
  • Seeing a wild musical with Bruce.
  • Making plans to see Mom.
  • Finding the gorgeous green earrings I'd lost.
  • Receiving my first $10 Birchbox so quickly.
  • Ibuprofen's immediately wiping out my jaw pain.
  • Finding my black top with black beads and gold sequins.
  • Allowing myself to watch funny videos on YouTube.
  • Watching trailers for new movies I might actually go see.
  • Wearing my pretty scarves.
  • Oliver's singing and dancing with me to showtunes every morning as I get ready.
  • A massage from Josh that can distract me from pain.
  • Seeing fewer bills in the mail.
  • Two dudes telling me daily that I'm beautiful.
  • Dressing up for a show with a black and gold brocade jacket I found for $16 at Old Navy. 
  • Josh's putting up tiny glowing stars on Oliver's ceiling and, at bedtime, Oliver's telling me to "Look at the stars!"

Monday, February 6, 2017

At My Age.

I've recently seen two great movies. One made me feel older; the other made me feel younger.

And I'm thinking that I should never ask to be older or younger. I should play with what I have. Anyone older than I would say I'm still young, but I also have a massive responsibility to keep myself well. Gathering wisdom, gathering peace, and gathering delight (There's that word of the year!) are incredibly important tasks. Fill the attic and the basement. Fill the freezer in the garage--not to hoard but to keep a steady supply on the rough days.

One of my favorite quotations (I may be paraphrasing badly) is from Iris Murdoch: "The secret of a happy life is continuous small treats."

The texture of the towels you use every day.
A pair of just-right earrings you haven't worn in months.
A postcard to send--touching someone's heart with about 3 minutes of effort.

The treats, the delights, don't have to be new. They don't have to be concrete objects. Notice the look on your best friend's face when you can tell that you've made all of his or her worry and stress disappear for those moments.

Even now, I don't have a great many moments free from fear, but I cherish them. I keep them.

As for wisdom, it just suddenly appears nose-to-nose with me.

And I'd better pay attention.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Someone Keeps Buying Them.

I love going to Barnes and looking at the journals, especially when I find one I've never seen before. It's a thrill even if it's not a journal I would buy. It means people are still buying jounals and gifts to themselves or others.

And that means that to some degree, people still believe in the power of scribbling. They must believe that a person can heal inner damage, develop a writing talent, spill secrets, or just pass the time pleasurably in a book waiting for the person's words. Something pretty and sturdy and completely one's own--what object could be more soothing?

I used to think I'd never be able to fill up a journal. Now I've done it 163 times over the last 17 years. Filling a whole notebook or journal with one's words (and drawings, quotations, or anything) is such an empowering experience. It always feels awesome, whether it takes two weeks (as it did when I was a manic 16-year-old) or two years.

Journaling has kept me tethered to Earth. It has helped me when my hold on reality was weak. It has calmed my anxiety and accepted my grief again and again. It changes the way I look at and experience the world because I'm thinking of how I'll describe it in my journal, which will enhance my delight or soften my fear. Journaling is one of the elements that may have kept me alive this long. And I've held onto it instead of pushing it away. It is one of the strongest, purest loves of my life.

Someone knows some of this intuitively (or maybe from experience) and wants that help (and that joy!) for himself or herself or for someone else who just might be open to a journaling life.

So I'll keep going to the journal section, greeting the journals I'll never want to buy, the ones I'll never think I can afford, and the twins of ones I've already written in or that are waiting in a green polka-dot box under my bed. And sometimes, I see something new and feel glad that whether or not people are scribbling, they are seeing a journal's potential and buying it as a gift or as a gift to themselves.

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Mixing Paints on Dinner Plates."

--Jennifer McMahon, Dismantled

This book was thrilling and confusing, but the memory of this image is clear. This moment in the book captured, for me, an important skill that an artist (and I include writers in this, as well as many other artists that I know too little about) must have or develop. These girls managed to get the paint but apparently couldn't afford or justify wooden palettes. Yet the palette is such a strong image representing the artist, perhaps as much so as the easel. But artists are also, supposedly, resourceful, irreverent, and unpredictable. I also notice the symbolism in the objects, intentionally or unintentionally stating that basic human needs (like food) are inferior to the demands of art.

Writing is different in that it doesn't require the same kind of physical labor (okay, that's up for debate), and the tools are simpler. For scribbling (writing practice), I just need a notebook and a couple of pens. I upgrade those supplies because I prefer hardcover journals and a rainbow of pens in many forms. When I want to do product writing (a poem, a story), I go to the laptop, which most writers have or have access to.

But this mixing paints on dinner plates is an image that still grabs me. I like to search for common threads among all kinds of artists.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Stamps and Stickers.

Some of my favorite memories are of shopping for stickers and rubber stamps with my Nanna. I'm not sure how old I was...10-14? Scrapbooking was so popular then, so a lot of related shops popped up. One shop we visited was in what seemed like a cute little retail village.

I think about those outings whenever I put stickers in my journal. The ones I bought (I remember saving up sometimes) or that Nanna gave me are long gone, following the narrative of my life through their corners on old journal pages. I do, however, still have a lot of stamps from that time. They live in a hot pink box and in a pink tin with black chandeliers on it.

Stickers are my favorite, but I do love stamps--beautiful, reusable. I even got some in my stocking last Christmas! And last night, I tried using stamps instead of stickers in a journal. Most of them turned out well.

I remember the wonder of all those designs. Nanna gave me another source of beauty and creativity, and my life has some more bright-bright spots because of it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Book Seasons.

Some years ago, I was trying to write short stories and realized that I had actually read very few volumes of stories. I love those I'd read at Queens, but I knew I was far from prepared to write my own.

So I decided to have a "short story summer." I read lots of different books, but I focused on short stories. I bought them used and checked them out from the library's new releases. Josh bought me a volume for my birthday and wrote in it: "For your short story summer."

So now, I realize that I've not read many short stories lately. So I want to bring back the short story summer but also add
  • The Children's Lit Winter
  • The Young Adult Spring
  • The Memoir/Diary Fall
I won't limit myself to these, but they will be my focus. I should be reading novels and poetry all the time.

The Children's Lit focus starts now!

Friday, January 20, 2017

About Purple.

Purple was my first favorite color before I learned that pink was the more acceptable color. So my favorite color was pink. Then, I decided to rebel and love blue best. I was nearing adulthood when I went back to purple and added green as a close second. You see, colors are so very important.

When I'd been teaching for a while, I was amazed to find beautiful plum dress pants. I had a new way to wear my favorite color.

I remember shopping with Mom at Francesca's. I saw a violet jacket with puffed shoulders, asymmetrical buttons, ruffles at the wrist, and a striped cotton lining. It was a necessary jacket, and I should wear it more.

Grape Jolly Ranchers. Mmm.

Purple hanging files and a purple glitter inbox on Josh's desk. Luckily, I love purple and teal, and I have a lot of both in the house, and those are the colors of Josh's favorite sports team.

I love writing in purple. It often seems like the right color for my words.