books + reading · reading

#soul #mind

Usually I read fiction and I write nonfiction.  This has been my pattern for several years.

Lately, this has flipped.  I’m devouring nonfiction – memoirs, books about writing – and busily writing short stories whenever I get the chance.

I love the feeling I get when I have a good idea for a short story.  I get a little obsessed – but in a good way, not a oh my gosh what am I going to do with my wild precious life way.

No short story ideas are consuming my mind currently, however, so I’m taking the opportunity to do a little writing about myself.

I learned how to crochet when I was 20 years old.  I’d just started a year with AmeriCorps, and a few of my fellow Corps members were volunteering for a local charity, crocheting or knitting hats or baby blankets for children and families in need.  A friend taught me, and then everyone in my family got a scarf for Christmas.

I still crochet, almost 15 years later.  I’m not much more advanced than I was back then; most of the things I create are square.  I’ve been working on a baby blanket on and off for the past year.  I make a little progress every Monday morning, when I have a standing meeting with some good friends to drink coffee and share.

There’s a thing that happens when you’re crocheting.  Yarn gets tangled.  Even if you’re really careful – yarn gets tangled.  And it doesn’t just get a little tangled, at least not in my world.  It somehow comes to life and enters into a passionate samba that results in yarn criss-crossing back and forth through my crochet bag, on the floor, around the legs of the table holding my coffee, and then weaving back together into a giant, unmistakable, unavoidable knot.

I’m accustomed to these knots.  When I notice them, I sit patiently and untangle a little at a time.  I don’t rush; if I start to notice that I’m not making progress, I tear the yarn, remove the knot, and tie the two new ends together, and continue crocheting.

Every once in a while, a friend will notice me calmly untangling, tugging, pulling, and they will explode with frustration for (or perhaps at?) me.  “How do you do that?” they ask, bewildered.  “I would lose my mind.”

The first time I heard this, I paused.  I lose my mind a MINIMUM of five times monthly.  And that is generous.  I would say, more honestly, that I sometimes lose my mind every single day.  

But this particular issue – tangled yarn – does not make me lose my mind.  Clearly I have reached enlightenment, even if it’s just in this one uber-specific area of living.

But usually, in my life, I’m more like that friend.  I rip and I tear at the tangled yarn.  I spend days agonizing over how the damn yarn got tangled in the first place, and beating myself for allowing the tangling to occur.

This week, however, something has shifted.  I have the same ‘problems’ I had last week.  But I’m not trying to mentally wrestle them into submission.  I’m patiently and calmly untangling threads with little stress or worry.

 

Nothing has changed but my attitude and my approach.  And I’m incredibly grateful for the mental reprieve.

books + reading · reading · recovery · writing

I Heart Glennon – Part Two #mind

I just finished devouring Glennon Doyle’s memoir Love Warrior.  

I identify with so much of what Glennon writes.  To give an extremely limited snapshot for anyone who hasn’t read her books or explored her blog, Momastery, Glennon experienced bulimia and alcoholism for many years.  She had what sounds like a spiritual awakening when she became pregnant with her son in her mid-twenties and has been sober ever since.  She writes about love, family, suffering, pain, rising, God, and humanity.  Her writing radiates with strength and honesty.

I actually hadn’t even heard Glennon’s name until she married Abby Wambach, one of my fave USWNT soccer stars.  This makes me laugh.  You can be talented, successful, famous – but I won’t become a fan until you marry a gay icon.  LOL.

My story is similar to Glennon’s.  The food/body stuff.  The alcohol stuff.  There’s a lot of overlap between the things I think and write about and the things Glennon writes about.

I don’t presume to know what’s inside Glennon’s mind.  I barely understand my own thoughts.  But some of the similarities in our stories make me think about acceptance, insecurity, self-consciousness, internalizing behaviors, ways we cope.  My thoughts have been swirling ever since reading Love Warrior and Glennon’s first book, Carry On Warrior, which I actually liked even better than her memoir.

80b82721e439d4beeed073f0d68d8eea

I started my blog in 2015 when I was in the middle of a really difficult time in my life. The blog saved me a little every day.  Writing saved me a little every day.  Glennon writes, “Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.”  She also writes, “I am happiest when I have finished an essay that says what I mean.”

I love this.  All of this.  I also adore the way Glennon describes her creative process.  (I’m quoting her post, but you can read the full text here!

I get an idea. It feels like a little seed inside of me, taking root.

It start growing and growing and maturing and gets so big it starts pushing out of me. I love this part I love, I love, I love this part. I feel so FULL. Kind of like I really, really have to pee. Ready to explode. This is the BEFORE.

Then, when I can’t take the beautiful pressure anymore—I sit down at the computer and it comes out. It pours out onto the screen and the good news is: Now it’s out. The bad news is: It looks like crap. So I have to work. Hours and hours of work is what turns a pouring out into actual art. THIS IS THE DURING.

When it’s finally art, I read it. I see that it’s good, because I answered the call. Then push it out into the world. I give it away.

That’s it.

THERE IS NO AFTER.

It’s not time to follow my art around, making sure everyone gets it. It’s not mine to protect. I gave it away.

Now it’s time to REST.

So I rest and wait for the BEFORE TO START AGAIN. I wait for the pressure to start to build again.

All the magic of art is in the BEFORE, THE DURING, and the REST.

I love this.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how to work writing and creativity into my daily life.  And the best luck I’ve had has been following a process similar to this.  I don’t have six-hour-long blocks of time to sit down at a computer and write and write and write, as much as I’d like to.

But I can let little ideas bubble up in my mind, and get curious about them, and maybe scribble down a line or two throughout the day.  And then – and then – when I finally do get an hour with my laptop, I can let loose and let the words fly onto the page.

Here is just one more of the many Glennon quotes that I want to remember:

About spirituality and faith: “I teach them that faith is not a club to belong to but a current to surrender to.  I teach them that they’ll know they’re in the current when they are becoming kinder and gentler and more open and grateful and when they feel constantly carried toward people they fear so they can fall in love and stop being afraid.”

next

books + reading · reading · recovery · writing

I Heart Glennon – Part One #mind

How did it take me so long to find Glennon Doyle Melton?

I love her.  I love her the way we love writers who could be good friends if the fates aligned.  I’ve officially added her to my list of Women I Simultaneously Admire & Envy.

giphy (2)I was recently re-reading this post from April 2015, a time when I was thinking a lot about the Women I Simultaneously Admire & Envy.  Brene Brown.  Cheryl Strayed.  Elizabeth Gilbert.  Gretchen Rubin.  Women who write – women who are all about self-discovery and personal growth – women who are honest and talented and have created lives that seem to include, from my faraway view, freedom and authenticity.

Glennon Doyle is now on the list, too.  However, I have to confess that before I started exploring her writing, I had a bit of a resentment toward Glennon.  The story of her success is one I envy – she was a stay-at-home mom and she started writing beautiful, honest messages on her blog.  Her writing was powerful and it caught fire.  She’s now a published writer who works for herself.

This made me mad.  I have similar resentments to other people – mainly writers.  If you’re younger than me and a published writer, I will experience a twinge of envy and resentment toward you.  Especially if you were able to achieve success while home wearing yoga pants.

However, when I dig deep, I know that my real resentment is toward myself, for not taking the time and energy to work on making a career as a writer.  Or not even a career – a hobby.  A side hustle.  Whatever is needed so that I feel I am exercising my creativity, expressing myself honestly and authentically through my writing.  Glennon does this.  Once I started to read her words – I finished Carry On Warrior in a day and am halfway through her new memoir – my resentment melted away, replaced by inspiration and hope.  Glennon writes, “I am happiest when I have finished an essay that says what I mean.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

So it’s not about resentment toward women writers who are successful; it’s about resentment toward myself for not following my heart.

And then.  There’s this one other thing.

The more people find success in this area – writing related to spirit, self-discovery, and personal growth – the more I am afraid that there won’t be enough room for me to have success, too.  I worry that all the good stories have already been told.  I worry that all the good books have already been written.

Ugh.  Brene Brown already told me that I have enough!  That we live in a culture of scarcity and that we need to practice gratitude and overcome our fears of “never enough.”  But I am all about scarcity and fear of the dark, apparently.  I have all the symptoms: it’s hard for me to be happy when people around me achieve success in one of *my* areas; I’m constantly comparing myself and my journey to others; and I struggle with setting and working toward long-term goals, because I secretly think they are too good to be true.

I’m a work-in-progress – progress not perfection.  Al;so, I started googling Glennon quotes while writing this and I’m pretty sure she’s watching me via some sort of candid camera, because this is the first quote that popped up:

envy

Sing it, sister.  Message received.  More on my love of Glennon to come.

books + reading · reading

My Ideal Bookshelf #heart #mind

My sister has been working on a really fun project – commissioning a painting of her favorite books from http://www.idealbookshelf.com.

Of course, this got me thinking about my ideal bookshelf, and I realized that I haven’t yet listed my all-time favorite books on heartsoulmindbody.  WHAT IF SOMEONE WANTS TO SURPRISE ME WITH A PAINTING OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS?  Where 63b18e7dc58e89f264592c3cfeb82912would they get my list?!

Anyway – ahem.  In no particular order:

The Gifts Of Imperfection – Brene Brown

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

Animal Vegetable Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver

Boomsday – Christopher Buckley

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

The Witch Of Portobello – Paolo Coelho

Ishmael – Daniel Quinn

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

Anne Of The Island – L.M. Montgomery

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Seven Types Of Ambiguity – Elliot Perlman

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

The Brooklyn Follies – Paul Auster616573e4317d6dbe1d5e253550f53c13

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

Bird By Bird – Anne Lamott

The Baron In The Trees – Italo Calvino

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being – Milan Kundera

Writing Down The Bones – Natalie Goldberg

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues – Tom Robbins

Buddhism Plain And Simple – Steve Hagen

The thing is – when one of my favorite bookstores, Ukazoo Books, closed down temporarily (they’re reopening soon!), I went on a supportive shopping spree and bought a lot of my favorite titles.  So – I may not ever need a painting like my sister has.  🙂  Time will tell.

reading · writing

Dreams and Desires, Please Come True #mind

When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.when-you-want-something-all-the-universe-conspires-in-helping-you-to-achieve-it-paulo-coelho-alchemist

Paolo Coelho said that, in The Alchemist.  I loved this book, but I don’t remember the context of this quote at all.  So when I say it to myself, my internal voice – the judger, the critic, the ego – says, “Really?  The universe conspires to make everything work out?  Just because you want it?”  Pause.  “Really?”

There are a lot of wishes on my wish list currently.  I am wishing for a new day job and for success and productivity in my side hustle.  I am ALSO wishing for better all-around self-care.  I want a job and a side hustle with which I am obsessed.  Right now, I feel half-hearted about just about everything I’m doing.

I want time to write.  I want time to think.  I want to feel happy and enthrLife-is-nothing-if-yourealled and obsessed with my everyday life.

I want to write.  I want to help people.  I want to work for myself.  I want to feel independent and energized and motivated and free.

Lately, this blog contains a lot of ranting and raving and venting.  Much more of that than me actually writing and creating.  But it is what it is for now.

I’m ready for a change.  I’m ready for a life transformation.  I’m ready to be done with my fears and the bullshit that’s been holding me back.
transformation

balance · books + reading · reading

Lessons From My Time Log #LessonsLearned

So I started keeping a time log, a la Laura Vanderkam, to solve the mystery of what the heck I do with my 168 hours each week.

Currently, it’s been abandoned.  I am pretty sure it’s stuck in a desk drawer at my office.

I may pick it up again, or I may start a new time log.  OR I’ll abandon it.  But no matter what, I’ve already gathered a few takeaways from this endeavor.

Takeaway # 1: You have a commute that eats up at least 6 or 7 of your hours each week.  You need to figure out a way to use it well.

Takeaway # 2: Each of us has core competencies – things we do better than anyone else in the world.  We are best served when we spend most of our time engaged in our core competencies and outsource everything else.  (I think mine are nurturing my family, nurturing myself, writing, reading,

Takeaway # 3: I multitask.  A lot.  Many of my increments were labelled as “something/something else.”  (Edgar/dishes.  Talking to Tee/laundry.)  I don’t know if this bad – but it’s something I noticed.

Takeaway # 4: You manage what you measure.  Just keeping the time log helped me to be more mindful and intentional about how I spent my hours.

We’ll see if I go further with this.  That’s all I’ve got for now.

16425847_1205422602845365_4881679443156294839_n

books + reading · reading

I Can’t Stop Reading Notorious RBG #mind #spirit

I am often mocked for the size of my handbag.

I almost always carry a huge, heavy purse – heavy because I carry my planner, a journal, and at least one book everywhere I go.

I even bring my books to work, even though I know I won’t get to read while I’m there.

For the past week, every day at work I’ve had at least one moment at work when I’ve looked longingly at the book sticking out of my bag:

Why have I not always been obsessed with RBG?

I’ve been in a reading rut lately.  Work’s been crazy (ugh) and there hasn’t been a lot of time to really sink into a book.

That changed with NotoriousRBG: The Life And Times Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I’m not usually that into nonfiction, but I ate this book up.  READ IT.