reading · writing

What To Do With ME Time #mind #soul

Having ME Time is exponentially more valuable now that I’m a parent.  This morning, I was gifted an extra two hours of ME time thanks to a two-hour delayed opening at my office.  I debated going into the office early, but rejected that idea quickly.  Our friend comes to the house every Tuesday to watch Teddy and her son, so extra Teddy time was out.  It’s miserably cold outside (hence the two-hour delay) so taking a walk or a jog is out.  Inevitably I end up spending my ME time doing one of my two favorite things: reading or writing.

On weekend days, Teddy naps for an hour or two in the afternoon. That’s a solid chunk of ME time, and I usually set it aside for reading or writing.

reading-is-the-inhale-writing-is-the-exhale-quote-1The thing is – I feel a little guilty when I decide to read instead of write.  If writing’s my dream, and I need practice and commitment and hard work to achieve my dream, then shouldn’t I focus on that for all or most of my precious ME time?

No.  Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.  If I never inhale, how can I exhale?  If I never read, how do I feed the part of me that fell so in love with the written word that I feel compelled to write myself?

This weekend, I experienced this conflict, and ended up typing away on the blog and taking little breaks to read.  It helped that the book I was reading was Story Craft, a nonfiction book about writing narrative nonfiction stories.  It feeds both my love of reading and my motivation to get better at writing.

 

reading

#mind #BookBinge

One change in my life since adopting my son: I cannot, under any circumstances, read books about babies or young children dying or being abducted.

UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

I was about a chapter into a book recently – a mystery/thriller, which is a genre I love – when a baby disappeared from her crib.  OUT.  I immediately closed the book and moved on.

This could change in the future, of course.  I’ve found that my Literary Palate has changed throughout my life.  In middle school and high school, I read my grandmother’s Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins Clark novels.  I used to despise memoirs and now they’re among my favorites.  Additionally, I used to force myself to finish books, even if I was losing interest in them, and I NEVER do that anymore.

Currently, I’m in the middle of a bit of a #BookBinge, which started in early December.  Coincidentally, a lot of the books I’m reading are fiction but with rich history or real current events woven into the story.  I find this really interesting.  It’s a crazy, surreal time in history at this moment, and I’m trying to wrap my head around what’s happening and think how to incorporate it into my writing.

I’m reading three books at the moment – Shrill by Lindy WestStorycraft by Jack Hart, and The White Album by Joan Didion.  To further enable my obsession with books and reading, my sister added me to an awesome Facebook group of readers who love sharing their thoughts and recommendations about different books.  It’s amazing, and is another outlet for my look of reading comics and memes.  how i spend money comic

 

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.

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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.”

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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.