Books Read in May, 2022.

“The Health Catalyst—How to Harness the Power of Ayurveda to Self-Heal and achieve Optimal Wellness” by Avanti Kumar-Singh, MD

Ayurveda is a health catalyst. Like a catalyst in a chemical reaction, it will increase the rate of healing to transform your health and, ultimately, your life.

I was listening to an episode of “The Good Life Project” called “Wellness, Women & Wisdom.” Kumar-Singh was one of the women begin interviewed. Being a yoga teacher at a studio that is deeply connected to ayurveda, I was immediately drawn in to what she had to say. so much so that I immediately ordered her book.

I love the idea of having control over my own health. Of living in rhythm with nature. Of accessing my inner healer. 

She explains it simply yet in a way that resonates, using her own story of healing that led her back to her roots.

A sentence I underlined:

Over time, I found what was missing in Western medicine—the connection of the patient to their inner knowing of what healing and health are.

“Stolen Focus—Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again” by Johann Hari

“I don’t understand what you’re asking for,” the man in Target in Boston kept saying to me.

Never have I read a book that left me feeling so terrified and hopeful.

Through meticulous research and personal anecdotes, Hari describes the costs to ourselves and the world as we continue to lose our ability to focus. Yes, it is about technology in general, and social media in particular but there are so many other factors at play: the crappy food we eat, the sleep we don’t get, the playtime our kids are not allowed, the polluted air we breathe. They all contribute to our inability to focus and when we can’t focus we can not think deeply and when we can’t think deeply we can not solve the huge problems we are facing. 

It is terrifying. I found this passage particularly chilling:

“Democracy requires the ability of a population to pay attention long enough to identify real problems, distinguish them from fantasies, come up with solutions, and hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver them. If we lose that, we lose our ability to have a fully functioning society. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this crisis in paying attention has taken place at the same time as the worst crisis of democracy since the 1930’s. People who can’t focus will be more drawn to simplistic authoritarian solutions—and less likely to see clearly when they fail. A world full of attention-deprived citizens alternating between Twitter and Snapchat will be a world of cascading crises where we can’t get a handle of any of them.”

But he offers solutions. They aren’t easy. He also offers examples of problems that have felt insurmountable in the past but due to the diligent effort of a group of citizens, thing changed whether it was gaining women’s or gay rights, getting lead of gas and paint or removing CFC’s from hairspray.

It won’t be easy. But the consequences of doing another are catastrophic. Start by reading this book. Then take another step. And another. And another. It’s how anything ever gets done. 

A sentence I underlined:

“If you see the world through fragments, your empathy often doesn’t kick in, in the way that it does when you engage with something in a sustained, focused way.”

“The Grace Year” by Kim Liggett

No one speaks of the grace year.

In this community, girls are sent away at age 16 in order to rid themselves of their “magic.” If they survive the year in the wild they return prettified and ready for marriage. 

Tierney James has different dreams. Literal dreams in her sleep that are forbidden and if anyone else found out she would be in danger. But she also dreams of a better life, lived on her own terms.

The year is filled with dangers from poachers hunting them to bottle and sell their magic to the dangers that lurk within the circle of girls themselves.

It felt like a cross between “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

A sentence I underlined:

“Out there, the veil between our world and the unknown feels so thin that you could punch a hole right through it.”

A sentence I underlined because it was chilling:

“The women aren’t allowed to own pets in the county. We are the pets.”

“Burnout—The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA

“This is a book for any woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she had to do, and yet still worried she was not doing ‘enough.’”

Which, I imagine, is almost every women ever. 

My therapist recommended this book to me on Wednesday. After our session I got out my phone and saw that our local store carried it, went and got it, underlined the first sentence and many, many more throughout and finished it 4 days later.

It’s a must read. It goes beyond the usual self-help genre and dives into the why behind our need to constantly do and give of ourselves while judging ourselves for never doing and giving enough. 

Honestly, this is a must-read and it could actually transform our lives, our selves and even society. Dare I say, it may even begin the much-needed dismantling of the patriarchy which is at the root of the issue. 

One of the many sentences I underlined:

“What if the shape we grew into was just accepted as the natural shape of our bodies, as lovable each new day as it was on the day we were born?”

“Women, Food and Hormones” by Sara Gottfried, MD

“Few things on earth are as misunderstood as women, food, and hormones.”

I was hesitant to pick up a book about food. I have tried letting going of dieting and scales. I am trying to stay focused on making peace with my body. But lately I have felt like crap physically, mentally, emotionally. I’m sure it is the stress of living in these times. I also had an inkling ti might be something more. Whenever I have a physical, my numbers are decent but borderline and the dietary suggestions they offer are usually what I am already doing. I have felt for a few years now that sugar is not my friend but when I mentioned it to my doctor she had no reaction. So, when I heard about this book, I thought it might give me a new perspective. It did.

Now, I haven’t gone full keto like she suggests with testing my levels daily. But I have made some big changes and I already have noticed big changes that have nothing to do with weight. I have cut way  back on sugar. (Goodbye to my soy chai.) I have cut out most grains and am focused on lots of fresh vegetables and good proteins and healthy fats. It’s only been a week but I feel more mental clarity, more energy. I am sleeping better without needing to take something every single night. And the weird, almost arthritic pain that I felt in my two middle fingers is almost completely gone. 

What this book did was give me information that confirmed what I already felt was true for my body. And now that I am seeing results, it makes it easier to stick with it. 

A sentence I underlined:

“I’ve seen it again and again in my practice: women come to me feeling overtired, cranky, frazzled, and—inevitably—lamenting th extra pounds they’v put on despite their best efforts to exercise and eat right.”

“Art Matters—Because your Imagination Can Change the World” by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Ridell

“I believe it is difficult to kill an idea because ideas are invisible and contagious, and they are fast.”

If the weight of the world makes you question whether your art matters, read this book. You can sit down and take 30 minutes to read the whole thing. You will leave inspired, refreshed and believing in the value of what you yearn to create, Trust me.

A sentence I underlined:

“We have an obligation to read for pleasure.”

Finding Refuge in a Heavy World

The weight of the world feels, well, very heavy these days.

In fact, for me, it has felt heavy for quite a few years. Ever since November 8, 2016.

Then there was the weight of the pandemic.

Then the weight of losing my mother-in-law and my husband had to drive back to bury her by himself because of Covid.

Then there was the weight of unexpectedly losing my best friend of 40 years in July of 2020. I still carry and will always carry that.

Then we had to put our dog down in 2021. On. My. Birthday.

Then there’s the weight of just daily living and learning how to be true empty-nesters living on social security after an earlier than expected retirement.

Then there was this week and the leaked SCOTUS memo. It has hit me hard. It has me vacillating between rage and despair.

I took my pup for a walk today and saw this tree sitting on its own little island in the water. It reminded me that I need to balance the weight of the world by seeking my own little islands of refuge.

I need to intentionally create spaces and places within my life where I feel safe and nourished and nurtured. Mostly where I feel present in the moment. Not a moment I am afraid of happening even if I know it will. Not moments that have already happened that I still carry with me. But this moment. Right here.

I can find refuge in:

~ my yoga practice including meditation

~ walking outside

~ writing and reading

~ playing with my pup

~ hanging with family and friends

When I take myself out for a walk in nature, it reminds me that the world is so bigger and more beautiful than what the narrow view of the world through the lens of social media and the news would lead me to believe.

My next island of refuge needs to be intentional use of my phone and social media. I try this every few weeks or so. It’s hard. I take apps off my phone. I keep my phone in another room. I use apps that block the internet. It works. For a little while.

It’s a process for sure. I do know that too much screen time leaves me feeling less safe, less present. I do know that my phone is not a refuge.

As I continue to seek and explore this space of refuge, i will use these words by Tara Brach as a guide:

“We find true refuge whenever we recognize the silent space of awareness behind all our busy doing and striving. We find refuge whenever our hearts open with tenderness and love. We find refuge whenever we connect with the innate clarity and intelligence of our true nature.”

~ Tara Brach

Books Read in April 2022.

“I Didn’t Do the thing Today—Letting Go of Productivity Guilt” by Madeleine Gore

There will be days like these. days that aren’t our day. Days we don’t seize. Days when we wished to accomplish more.

Just about every page of this resonated with me. It felt like she was speaking to my soul.

I am really satisfied with what I do in a day.Even after writing something every single day for the last six years, i still find ways to belittle that accomplishment. It’s rather exhausting. 

It feels like some thin-lipped, stick-up-her-butt, rigid woman is following me around all day, shaking her head as she makes notes of all the ways I am not doing or being enough. 

This book helped. It helps to know it is not just me.

It helps to read the words that my mind often spins.

It helps to get some tools to help deal with this idea of needing to always be doing and being more that I already am. 

I underlined so many things but here are just a couple:

“Personally, I’ve long made a pastime of drafting ideal daily routines for myself, filling row after row of my notepad with perfectly timed steps, convinced that if i could just get my routine right, I could get my life right.” (I scrawled YES!! in the margin.)

“We’re bound to be inconsistent because our daily experiences, emotions, and desires are inconsistent.” (This is something I am beginning to truly understand and accept.)

“For Small Creatures Such as We—Rituals for Finding Meaning in our Unlikely World” by Sasha Sagan

When I was little and my dad was alive he would take me to see the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

Her father, of course, was Carl Sagan. This gem of a book is shimmering with the way she was raised by her dad and her mom writer, Ann Druyan.

She was raised by secular parents who instilled in her a great respect for science, curiosity and the awe of being alive. What i loved about this book, was that it wasn’t heavy and dark. It actually is a light in the darkness. It is a little guided tour of history as well as a guidebook on how to celebrate the awe-inspiring luck and beauty of being alive in this world.

A sentence I underlined: 

“Being alive was presented to me as profoundly beautiful and staggeringly unlikely, a sacred miracle of random chance. 

It Started with a Broken Heart.

Inspired by the poem “Kintsugi” by James Crews. Thank you to Laurie Wagner for the prompt.

It started with a broken heart.

Her literal broken heart. The scar slicing the center of her being. I remember having to take out a couple of stitches at home. I’m the artist, she was the scientist. But I did it. She was so proud of me. She told everyone how well I did. How out of my comfort zone it was but I did it anyway because she needed me to.

We thought—or did we just fervently hope—that her heart was no longer broken?

When her heart stopped in the middle of the night in July of 2020, I was awake in my own bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. I think my soul felt that her soul was leaving her body.

When her heart stopped, my heart broke.

It has felt broken for a couple of years now. The pandemic broke it. Grief at losing her broke it. Grief at losing my sweet pup broke it. And today, just when I thought it couldn’t break anymore, it has shattered at the news of Roe v Wade being gutted.

I am 56 years old.

My child-bearing days are behind me. But we know this isn’t about that, right?

We know it’s about controlling women by controlling our bodies.

It’s about trying to strip us of our power.

What they don’t understand is that our broken hearts don’t make us weak.

They empower us.

To step up.

To wake up.

To take action.

We carry these shards of our hearts as weapons against those who seek to dehumanize us. Who seek to reduce us to a single body part.

We carry the bloody, pulsing wreck of our hearts forward.

Always forward.

They want us to give up.

To stand down.

To retreat.

What happens is exactly the opposite.

We allow the cracks to let in the rage and the light, the despair and the love.

We lovingly fill in the cracks with awareness, with action, with truth, with love.

These broken hearts continue to beat and we march on to that beat. Letting it propel us into action.

We carry these bloodied hearts of ours with such tenderness. It would be easier to lock them inside a box where it feels safe. Ignoring the violence against us. Ignoring those trying to silence us.

But these broken-hearted warriors don’t play like that.

Fuck no.

We don’t retreat, we rise.

We don’t hide, we seek.

We march ever forward, knowing that our true power resides in the cracks of our hearts. We know that the cracks seek out the broken hearts of others. We come together, letting the gold of our solidarity fill in the cracks, the holes, the gaps, bonding us to each other.

We understand in our bones that our hearts become stronger with each crack.

That we bend but don’t break.

At times it feels like my heart is a solid gold mass from filling in the many, many cracks. But I know that it is still pulsing within the gold.

That it marches on.

Why I Care about Abortion Rights at 56.

Image found via Pinterest.

I am a 56-year old woman whose child-bearing days are far behind her. So, why do I care about abortion rights? Why am I rattling around my house, feeling like I want to crawl out of my skin after learning that the SCOTUS intends to gut Roe v Wade?

Many reasons.

  1. The only reason I never had to make the choice to have or not have an abortion is because I was lucky. Lucky that a one of my one-night stands never resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. Lucky  that I never got pregnant before I was ready. Lucky that I was never raped. Lucky that I could afford to have a baby when I finally was pregnant by choice. It was luck. Would I have decided to have an abortion under different circumstances? Probably but I truly don’t know. The point is, it was my choice. 
  2. Even though this decision doesn’t impact my reproductive rights personally, I understand that it is so much bigger than me. Just as wearing a mask is much bigger than just protecting myself. 
  3. I understand that this aggressive assault on Roe v Wade is part of a long game plan. A plan to dismantle the rights of every minority whether it be reproductive or contraceptive rights, voting rights, marriage equality, etc…They won’t be satisfied until this is a white Christian nation embracing only their values and forcing those values on every single citizen. 
  4. I believe in bodily autonomy for every human being. If you need a kidney and I have a kidney that matches, nobody can force me to give it to you. It is my choice even though it would save your life. Organs can’t be harvested after death unless explicit consent has already been given. Corpses will have more bodily autonomy than women in this country.
  5. I don’t believe that your religious beliefs should be the basis of constitutional law. 
  6. I know there is no banning abortion, there is only banning safe abortion.
  7. I know that affluent white women will still have access. (You know that the wives, mistresses and daughters of conservative men will still be able to get abortions.) This will disproportionately impact minorities and those living paycheck to paycheck.
  8. Finally, I am horrified for my daughters and nieces to have to live in a country that sees them as breeders first, human beings second. 

Here are some places to donate:

Teen Vogue

Charity Navigator

NARAL

NAF

Planned Parenthood

Books Read in March 2022.

“To Paradise” a novel by Hanya Yanagihara

He had come into the habit, before dinner, of taking a walk around the park: ten laps, as slow as he pleased on some evenings, briskly on others, and then back up the stairs of the house to wash his hands and straighten his tie before descending again to the table. 

This novel, all 704 pages of it, was amazing, enthralling and so distressing. It explores alternate versions of America starting with the 1890’s where New York is part of the Free States and people are able to love and live with whomever they please. This section revolves around a young man who is being raised by his grandfather. He arranges a suitable partner in marriage for him but he is drawn to a music teacher whose past makes him highly unsuitable. 

Then we move into New York in the 1990’s and the AIDS epidemic where a young man from Hawaii lives with his much older and wealthier partner. 

Finally, we end with the 2090’ s where America has been turned into a fascist, authoritarian state dealing with pandemics and new viruses, declining fertility and population. To try and increase the population, new rules are implemented giving preference to fertile couples able to procreate. 

It’s a stunning story that sweeps you into all three worlds that are linked by setting, characters and the longing to love and be loved as we are.

A sentence I underlined because it moved me:

“Some of us will die, but others of us will keep doing what we always have, continuing on our own oblivious way, doing what our nature compels us to, silent and unknowable and unstoppable in our rhythms.”

“Euphoric—Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You” by Karolina Rzakowolska

I can’t believe I love mornings so much.

I picked this up because I’ve been feeling like I want to drink lately. Not exactly wanting to, but thinking why the hell shouldn’t I drink with the world being as it is these days. I needed a reminder of why I quit in the first place. This book helped with that.

It reminded me of how awful I felt after just glass or two of wine. How it wrecked my sleep. How dangerous it is to my health. 

The one thing that bugged me though is that it felt a little too cheerleader-ish. Like stopping drinking would solve all your problems. For sure, it helps. But it is definitely not a magic wand. If anything, things get worse before they get better as we begin to have to, you know, feels things. All the things we drank so we wouldn’t feel them. She doesn’t delve much into the darker aspects. She is more focused on helping people dramatically improve the quality of their life just as she did. There’s an 8-week program that helps guide you into not drinking. This may have been more helpful when I first stopped drinking over 900 days ago. But it did what I needed to to this now which is remind me that I made the right decision.

A sentence I underlined: 

“Alcohol is a sleep-interrupting, cancer-causing, brain-altering, depression-producing, fulfillment-robbing, confidence-faking substance that quashes your natural drive.”

“Must Love Books” a novel by Shauna Robinson

Would you recommend this job to a friend?

I came across a list of books that featured books, writing and/or publishing in the storyline. I wrote them all down then the very next day went to return a book at the library and found this one on the new release shelf. It was from the list!

Nora is an editorial Assistant at Parsons Press. There have been a lot of changes lately making what she thought was the first step toward her dream job a little less dreamy. when they cut her salary it is even less dreamy and forces Nora to make a move that surprises even herself. We follow Nora as she deals with the repercussions of that choice and struggles to increase her happiness level.

I definitely needed something lighter to read and entertain me. And this did the trick.Though it isn’t light-hearted. Nora struggles with being in a rut that brings with it some pretty dark thoughts. I loved getting a behind-the-scenes look at the the publishing world. And having a little love story thrown in doesn’t hurt. But that isn’t central to the story. Nora is the center of her own story and her own happiness. 

A sentence I underlined because, girl, same: 

“I think I have a tendency to accept what I’m given instead of asking for what I want.”

“Wish You Were Here” a novel by Jodi Picoult

When I was six years old, I painted a corner of the sky.

Diana and Finn have a plan. They have both been relentlessly working toward that plan together. She find s an engagement ring in th ack of a drawer and just knows that he is going to prove on their upcoming trip to the Galapagos. But then Covid hits the city. Finn is a surgical resident and desperately needed at the hospital. He urges Diana to take the trip anyway. She does and ends up quarantined on a little island for two months. Tow months that changes everything she thought she knew about herself and the life she had planned. 

It’s a lovely story about memory and reality and where the two meet and diverge. 

A sentence I underlined:

“I know everyone makes mistakes—but until recently, I have held everyone to a standard where making mistakes is a weakness. Me included—I haven’t given myself the grace to screw up, to do better next time. It is exhausting, trying to never step off of the path, worrying that if I do, I’ll never get back on track.”

Books Read in February 2022.

The Paper Palace” a novel by Miranda Cowley Heller

Things come from nowhere.

The structure of this novel really fascinates me. There is the present day story, told in the span of 24 hours. Then there is the more complex family story that spans 50 years. It is a story layered with secrets, thick with yearning and regret. It hooked me and didn’t let go until I read the last sentence and even then it didn’t let go as I searched online for discussions about the ending. It never went where I thought it was going. The characters and events contained to surprise up until the very end.

A sentence I underlined:

Peter frowns, looks at me as if he’s seen something just under the surface of my skin, tiny broken capillaries, or a bluish hue—something that shouldn’t be exposed to the light, adn I feel the creep of shame, of exposure. 

“Modern Lovers” a novel by Emma Straub

In June, the book club was at Zoe’s house, which meant that Elizabeth had to carry her heavy ceramic bowl of spinach salad with walnuts and bits of crumbled goat cheese a grand total of half a block.

Occurring over the course one summer, we follow the lives of two families deeply connected from college to the present where they now I’ve on the same block. Marriages are shifting if not actually a bit rocky. Their kids are growing up and becoming adults right before their eyes. They are being hounded by Hollywood for the life rights to the story of their now deceased bandmate which causes all kinds of complications which lead to secrets which lead to secrets from the past emerging.

One of the things I paid close attention to was how she shifted the point-of view from chapter to chapter. It is something I am working on in my own novel.

By the time I came to the end, I felt I had been on my own summer vacation with these characters. And I loved how she revealed what happened to them through little newspaper clippings at the end. 

2 sentences I underlined because they made me laugh out loud:

“Most of the time, Harry didn’t think much about how his parents had been cool. It mattered to his daily life significantly less than English muffins, slightly more than the existence of remote-control helicopters.

Always Happy Hour” stories by Mary Miller

He leaves her a series of drawings on a sheet of typing paper.

A collection of stories about young women who are lost, who are yearning to be seen, to be loved they way they want to be seen and loved if only they knew what that was. The story feel gritty with reality. They are the kind of stories that leave me spinning with all of my own thoughts about my life, observing my life and thoughts as if in third person, as if I am a character in my own story. Which I guess we all are. 

One particular sentence fragment felt like the thread that ties them all together: “…attaching our lives to the sad, impermanent lives of others.”

A sentence I underlined:

“She looks at him and feels happy, but the happiness is heavy, like something should be done with it.”

“Instructions to a Self: A Diary of Becoming” by Jen Lee

Day 34 at home.

I want to tell you about the little things.

Where to even start as I sit here having just finished reading it, the words still echoing deep within me?

Start here: I underlined something on every single page. I underlined phrases or sentences that I want to use as prompts in my own writing. I underlined sentences that made me feel less alone in the aloneness of this pandemic. I underlined words that expressed feelings and thoughts I did know I had. I underlined a lot.

And here: It reminds me of a current May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude.” Of course, Sarton’s was chosen, Lee’s solitude was forced upon her as upon all of us when we had to shelter-in-place.

Or here: So much felt deeply familiar and resonant as I read. Then, I got to the end and she gave a shout out to Laurie Wagner and her 27 Wildest Days that she shared in the early days of the pandemic. 27 days that I clung to like a life raft, taking each prompt and letting it lead me to some sort of solid ground if even for a moment.

Then there is this: The last official day is July 27, 2020 which is the day my best friend died. The next entry is the epilogue on July 28, 2020. And I can’t help but think that a chapter or whole book of my life also ended on July 27 and that I am now creating a life from this epilogue and that there will be many other endings as epilogues, a constant dance between the two.

So, get this book. It is deep comfort in these times of deep uncertainty.

One of the many, many, many sentences I underlined:

“To surrender oneself to the great unraveling of who we once knew ourselves to be so there’s an opening for who we’re becoming to step through.”

“The Sentence” a novel by Louise Erdrich

While in prison, I received a dictionary.

Great first sentence! How could a book lover and story lover not continue reading?

Taking place in a haunted indie bookstore over the course of one pivotal year, “The Sentence” grapples with ghosts and racism, indigenous culture and Covid, the complexities of marriage and isolation. So basically, this novel has it all. It was hard to put down. So many layers, so many beautiful sentences. Go read it.

A passage I underlined because of the beautiful and very specific way a character is described:

“Pen moves with a childish eagerness, jerkily, especially when excited. And she was excited about Christmas because she loves anything with rites, angels, make-believe, chocolate, or gifts. She glowed these days as though lighted from the inside by a Yule log.”

“How High We Go in the Dark” a novel by Sequoia Nagamatsu

In Siberia, the thawing ground was a ceiling on the verge of collapse, sodden with ice melt and the mammoth detritus of prehistory.

Reading this book now was either perfecting or the worst timing. Probably both. More perfect though, I think. 

Structured as linked stories to form a novel, the thread running through them was the Arctic Plague that emerged when the permafrost began to melt. So, there’s: a pandemic (more brutal than our current one); research to find a cure and vaccine; and death becomes big business. Then there’s the verge into speculative fiction as a pig who is being used as a test subject develops language skills and the researcher bonds with it after losing his own son to the virus. We learn of a theme park that caters to parents trying to give their terminally ill children one last day of joy before putting them on a ride that will euthanize them. We verge further into science fiction as a story takes us on a cosmic quest to find a new planet to call home. 

It’s a daring and compassionate story of life and death, forgiveness and redemption, despair and hope. Which is what makes it more of a perfect time to read it than the worst. It left me with hope. This sentence in particular: “My father used to say our planet and everyone on it was made of pure possibility and that’s what made us special, made us able to crate, become anything we wanted.”

A sentence I underlined for the precise mood it creates as it describes the city:

“I sat on the fire escape outside my room and gazed at the city trying to resuscitate itself—a blimp floating over the bay, an ad projected onto its side for a new school of mortuary science, the bells of cable cars running up and down Powell Street for the few tourists brave enough to visit, someone playing a saxophone down below.”

“Faith—Trusting Your own Deepest Experience” by Sharon Salzberg

Each of us tells ourselves some kind of story about who we are and what our life is about.

I found this little gem of a book on one of my many bookshelves and it was the perfect way to end the month of February. She offers the idea of faith as a refuge far beyond its religious connotations and with the state of the world as it is, I am desperately and intentionally seeking faith and hope. She shares her own experiences with faith and meditation throughout her own spiritual quest with, guiding us to find our own path into faith, into trusting our own deepest experience.

A sentence I underlined:

“Even in times of immense suffering, it is faith that enables us to relate to the present moment in such a way that we can go on, we can move forward, instead of becoming lost in resignation or despair.”

The Grace of Missing a Day of Writing.

I woke up this morning and one of the first things I thought of was I didn’t write yesterday.

At first I was panicked. And so disappointed in myself. And slightly ashamed. It wasn’t a choice. I just forgot. I got caught up in other things. After watching the SOTU, I went to bed, finished reading my page count for the day so that I can finish all 706 pages of “To Paradise” in two weeks before returning it to the library.

I just forgot.

One of my first thoughts was “Well, that was a waste of time.” Meaning all those says in a row of writing. Over 1800. But that’s not true. It wasn’t a waste.

It established a habit that I needed to establish.

I wrote a lot. I finished a novel. I am working on another one. I filled dozens of notebooks with writing practice and morning pages which helped me process all the anxiety and grief of the last few years.

So, definitely not a waste.

The first thing I did this morning was write. Missing a day didn’t change the fact that I am a writer. If anything, it has helped me learn to give myself grace. To not be such a perfectionist that the tiniest error tosses me away.

If anything, it has taught me to just start again. Start where I am. To not be tossed away by my own rigid expecations.

Just this week I have intentionally chosen not to meditate some days. I get so swept up in seeing all the days in a rows on the Insight Timer app that some days I just phone it in in order to get credit for that day. I decided to stop phoning it in. That the process of meditating and fitting it into my days was more important than the illusion of perfection.

I think the Universe saw that as a very good thing and decided it might be a good idea for me to apply the same lesson to my writing.

So, that is what I am doing.

I missed a day. Okay, today I write.

It is teaching me that I have to do the thing I value most first thing.

It is teaching me to stop trapping myself in these tiny boxes of perfection.

It is teaching me to embrace the imperfect process of living and release the draining mindset of perfection.

It is teaching me to show myself grace and release the binds of shame

And when I can show myself grace, I am able offer it to the world around me.

Top 5 Words that Resonate Deeply.

Image found via Pinterest
  1. Temenos: A sacred circle where one can be oneself without fear
  2. Latibule: a hiding place; a place of safety and comfort
  3. Hiraeth: a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past
  4. Meraki: To do something with soul, creativity or love, leaving a piece of yourself in to what you are doing
  5. Shoshin: the practice of seeing life with wonder
  6. Bonus word: Saudade: a nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved then lost; “the love that remains”

Prompt: Write a story, essay, poem or blog post using one of these words as the theme.

The Power of Creating a Vision.

According to many, today is a powerful manifestation portal. 2/22/2022. We won’t have another like this until 2/22/2222. It is thought to be a rare, special cosmic event that has the energy to turn wishes into reality. Help grow your intuition. Emotional healing. Positive financial gains. Achieving goals quickly. Feelings of relief from what you are stressed about.

Even if you think this is all nonsense, opening yourself up to possibility or potential is worth considering. Connecting with what you want to manifest is never a futile endeavor.

One way I learn what I want is by creating vision boards. i started doing them around the new year when my daughters were young. We’d sit at the table surrounded by stacks of magazines, scissors, glue sticks and paper. I loved seeing them get excited about seeing what they wanted. I loved seeing them claim those desires. I loved seeing them not afraid to want what they wanted.

I loved seeing them not afraid to want what they wanted.

I still create a vision board each year. I have even taught a Vision Board workshop a few times. It’s a fun yet powerful way to gain some clarity as we move ahead.

In addition to a vision board, I also choose (or they choose me!) a few words about how I want to feeling in the coming year. Check out Danielle LaPorte for more details on this. The words act as a compass for me. It’s less about what I want to do and more about who I want to be.

This year, I took a photo of one of my vision boards, added my words to it and made it the wallpaper on my phone. This year, I also created a vision board specifically dedicated to my writing life.

The types of vision boards you can create are limited only by your imagination. Create one around: all that you are grateful for, where you’d love to travel, the kind of world you want to live in, your ideal relationship, healing your health or body image. There are endless possibilities.

Whether you believe in the power of a particular day, I invite you to set aside some time today to dream about how you want your lif to look, how you want to feel.

Let yourself want what you want.


My writing life vision board.