books + reading · podcasts · reading · snapshots

All The Things (April 2018)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and rethinking about the blog recently.  I have BIG plans in my head!

One thing I am always rethinking is how to do snapshots – brief mini-posts that are more like a “here’s a bunch of stuff I either like or don’t like or just want to blab about.”

For now, this is what I’ve got: a monthly report of all the things. By which I mean, all the things I’m reading, listening to – or whatever else is relevant.

Things I’m Reading: Behold The Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue. Only a few chapters in. So good so far! Also I have 58 items checked out at the library, which is sort of out of control but also I needed them all.

Things I’m Listening To: You guys – my podcast diet is HUGE right now.

A while ago, I reached out to my social media community and got a bunch of recommendations for non-news non-politics podcasts. One of the best recommendations I got was for The Girl Next Door, a podcast that’s basically two next-door neighbors chatting about life, marriage, parenting, self-care, personality, self-reflection – a smorgasboard of my favorite topics.  I absolutely love it. And, I realized, this kind of podcast is my jam – two smart and insightful females talking about how they live and love and parent and create.

Well, it turns out that there are other podcasts that follow this same format. I have fallen into a rabbit hole of friendly podcasts focused on parenting, minimalism, and work-life balance. It is unending, and awesome. But also overwhelming.

I’ve decided to zero in on The Mom Hour now that I’ve finished listening to The Girl Next Door archives. I’ll report back!

Things I’m Working On: Publishing two blog posts a week, which I’ve never attempted before. I think it’s doable. We’ll see!

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books + reading · reading · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #mind #soul

There are, once again, a million mini blog posts floating around in my brain and in my draft folder.  So, without further adieu, a list of random things I’m grateful for:

  • The mystery novels of Louise Penny.  SO FREAKING GOOD.  I started them in the fall (recommended by Hillary Rodham Clinton herself, who is so far a Reliable Book Recommender), and I read all thirteen by the beginning of 2018.  Plus, she announced recently that another book will come out this year.  Yay!
  • This quote from W. Kamau Bell’s book : “Being in my twenties was not helpful for my comedy development because I had nothing going on to talk about.  It wasn’t until I got to my thirties that I had real material.”  I have a constant voice in my head whispering that it’s too late to be a writer.  SHUT UP VOICE KAMAU SAYS NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME.
  • Finding time to meditate.  I’ve been working hard to remember to make time to meditate, and I’ve been doing pretty well.  This was one of my New Year’s Resolutions, and it’s really important to me that I keep it; I’ve been coming to terms with the knowledge that I’m a pretty anxious person, and I believe me26904349_1050168465122347_6526983749737775596_nditation will help me to calm my mind during those paralyzing anxious moments. I’m hoping that a little bit of discipline – sticking with a routine of meditating every day – will help me to increase my overall joy.
  • Rediscovering Buddhism.  I read Buddhism Plain and Simple, by Steve Hagen, about 15 years ago; that was my first introduction to Buddhism, and I loved it.  Now I’m reading another Hagen book, Buddhism Is Not What You Think, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I’m thinking about making a habit out of always having a spiritual book close by; sometimes just reading a few pages out of a book about meditation is enough to help me calm my mind.

Enough for now.  These posts are kind of a dumping ground for random thoughts, but my mind clears up after I write them, so – worth it.

snapshots · writing

Update #mind #soul #heart

There was a big gap in my blogging in 2017.  I wrote a post and published it on October 11 and then didn’t post again for the rest of the year. 

When I’m away from the blog for a while, I’m never able to immediately create a post the day I return.  I always need to start by reacquainting myself with the terrain – the computer, the typing, the subjects and topics that have accumulated in my head during my (usually unintended) leave of absence.

I’ve spent the past week doing just that – sifting through the thoughts I drafted two months ago, scribbling notes about what’s been happening in my life during November and December 2017, and crafting new thoughts for the new year.

Here’s a snapshot of the last two months of my life:

-I attempted a NaNoWriMo challenge – writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days – during November 2017.  I stuck with it for the first half of the month, and then got busy and distracted and did not complete the challenge.  I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo at least three times, and I’ve never finished it.  I think this says something about my work habits, my writing style.  I don’t feel bad about it.  At all.

My attempt to achieve NaNoWriMo is part of why I’ve been absent from blogging.  I don’t regret doing it – I stuck with it for about two weeks, and I produced a lot of solid content – but I do think my soul suffers when I’m away from the blog for too long.  It’s my release valve; without it, everything gets all jammed up.

-Tee and I have been blissfully reading Louise Penny’s mystery novels, all featuring a wonderful main character named Chief Inspector Gamache.  I first heard about the books in an interview Hillary Rodham Clinton did on one of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, so I like to think of these books as part of a book club that HRC started without knowing it.  There are 13 books in the series (so far), and I just finished reading the tenth book, The Long Way Home.  Now, I am distracting myself with other books, because Tee is a book behind me (she’s currently reading #9) and I am going to BURST if I can’t talk to her about #9 and #10 ASAP!

-Last night, I attended a writing group at my local library for the first time.  It was great, and I hope I go back.  I’m eager to find a community of writers with whom I can talk and share and connect.

-One of my biggest goals for 2018 is to let go of “what-do-I-do-with-my-work-life” angst and embrace my writing.  I have a flexible, semi-low-stress job that allows me to daydream about stories during my endless driving time and actually write during my off time.

I’ve been struggling with the question of what I really want to be when I grow up for months now.  Recently Jon Favreau (of Pod Save America, another of my favorite podcasts) shared some advice, paraphrased here: There are people who want to be someone and there are people who want to do something, and you should always strive to be the latter.  I want to write, and I want to become good at writing.  I’d rather end my life thinking “I was a good writer” than end my life thinking “I published a bunch of stuff that I don’t think is good.”  The second part’s not in my control, anyway.     

More to come!

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family · snapshots · writing

SNAPSHOT #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

So much to do and SO LITTLE WRITING GETTING DONE.

My intention (and my hope) is to write every evening after Teddy goes to sleep.  Which is what I’m doing tonight.

It’s been a while.  Hence, a snapshot:

-I’ve been busily prepping for NaNoWriMo by working on a memoir every chance I get.  The novel I’m going to write during November is fiction, but I worry that I won’t be able to write really authentic fiction until I’ve written my life story.  When I’m writing fiction that has similarities to my real life, I start to get tangled up and confused – which is the truth, and which is the story?  So I’m writing out the facts – just the facts.  #mind #soul

-Lots of #heart food lately – visits with my mom, time with extended family, time with friends, and time with Teddy and Tee.

-Oh, #soul.  I’ve recently realized how powerful anxiety is in my life.  It twists and turns and churns, and it generally takes the form of an obsessive and draining need to seek something that I don’t have and can’t control.  (The adoption.  The perfect job.)  I am praying for the time and space to be able to address my anxiety through meditation, yoga, and radical self-care.

-Tee and I took a rare overnight trip to do some hiking and adventuring with Teddy recently.  It was lovely.  It’s hard to really relax and connect at home – there’s always so much on the farm and around the house that needs to get done.  A getaway was the perfect prescription to fall stress.    #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

-Hillary Rodham Clinton recommended a mystery novel to me, so I read it and so did my fellow Wild Peace Book Club members!  We haven’t read a book together for a long time, but who can say no to HRC?  The book is Still Life by Louise Penny, and it’s the first in a series of books featuring Inspector Gamache.  I’m halfway through the second book in the series, and loving it; I’ve been reading a lot of books about writing recently, and it’s a nice break to indulge in fiction.

So much to be thankful for.  #blessed

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podcasts · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #recommendations #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

It’s been a minute.

Time for a snapshot!  But I’ve been getting bored with my snapshots lately, too.  So I’m going to try to mix it up this time around and make this post all about recommendations.

Recommendation # 1: Try a new podcast.  

My podcast diet is constantly evolving.  This month, two new additions:  1. Mom And Dad Are Fighting, a parenting podcast from Slate.  (Which I never would have discovered, except that I’m a proud Slate Plus member.  Holla!)  The hosts talk through parenting challenges, triumphs, fails, theories, etc.  It’s not about being a perfect parent – it’s just real people talking about questions they have and situations they’ve faced.  I started listening on a whim, and I’m enjoying it so far; today I went back to the beginning of the show and I’m now happily moving through the archive.  2. I also am LOVING Sam Sanders’ new NPR podcast, which is called (ahem) It’s Been A Minute.)  #mind

Recommendation # 2: If you’re trying to form a new habit, find a writer whose book inspires you to get going with it.  

A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to read a book about cooking.  NOT a cookbook – I have cookbooks, and I still don’t enjoy cooking.  I have never liked cooking.  Before I met Tee, I ate hummus and pretzels for dinner almost every night.  (Happily!)  But now, I sometimes wish that I wanted to cook dinner, and that it was an enjoyable activity for me.

I decided that I wanted to read a book that would inspire me – a book that would make me want to cook something.  

My friend The Naturalist recommended An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.  It is PERFECT – a good writer, writing about cooking in a way that makes me want to cook.  I can’t explain it.  I just hope it lasts!  #mind #body #soul

Recommendation # 3: Request books at the library way in advance.  

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT BRENE BROWN HAS A NEW BOOK COMING OUT?!  So exciting!  The book is out on September 12th – which is actually the same day that Gretchen Rubin’s new book comes out.  They both have been pre-ordered from the Baltimore County Public Library.   #mind #soul

Recommendation # 4: Let it flow.  

My creativity bug is continuing to bite, and it feels wonderful!  I’ve been working on a few different short stories – I’ve even submitted two to writing contests!  (I’m quite sure I won’t win a thing.  But I’ve spent a long time being afraid of rejection.  I decided that the way to get over this is to be rejected a LOT so I will be immune to it.)  #soul #mind

Oh!  I also participated in a writing group at my local library last week.  The other writers were really nice and supportive.  This was a big step for me.  #heart #mind #spirit

Recommendation # 5: Keep your sense of humor.

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blogging · books + reading · snapshots · writing

SNAPSHOT #mind #soul #spirit

The pretext of my blogging is that I write about balance – about ways that I nourish my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, and my spirit.

Every once in a while, I find myself with a scattering of thoughts I want to share, and I include a snapshot – just a little list of ways that I’m nourishing each aspect of self.  These lists help me to feel grounded and less scattered.  They’re also a good reminder of what I am nourishing and what I’m neglecting.

Here’s today’s snapshot:

-I am on a crazy Book Binge right now!  It started with Glennon Doyle’s two books, followed by Roxane Gay’s Hunger (incredible), and then Before The Fall by Noah Hawley (so good).  I just finished one of my Book Of The Month Club books, The Love Interest, and have moved on to No One Knows by J. T. Ellison.  #mind

-In early June, I spent several days my commute listening to Brene Brown’s latest CD, Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice.  She is amazing.  The CD is amazing.  My number one takeaway was this: you have to recognize when something – a conflict, a resentment – has you hooked.  You have to make a note when something has gotten under your skin, and get curious about it.  #mind #soul

-I am trying something new: posting a quote-slash-picture on my heartsoulmindbody Facebook page every day.  I really don’t know why I decided to do this, but I’m enjoying it.  It’s almost like a little daily check-in or prayer; the quote reveals itself when the time is right, and I put it out in the universe.  I have maybe three followers on the heartsoulmindbody Facebook page (you can follow here if you want), so it’s not really about connecting or publicizing.  It’s just a little message from me to the universe, or from the universe to me.  #soul

-I wrote a story!  It’s been a really long time since I finished a short story, and I have felt wonderful ever since the idea for their story popped into my head.  It is flawed and needs editing, and it will never be perfect.  But I wrote it, and I’m so, so grateful.  #mind #soul

podcasts · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #mind #heart

Time for a snapshot:

-Of course I listened to S*Town, the new podcast from Serial and This American Life.  It was great.   #mind

-SPRING BREAK used to mean a trip.  Now it means a week at home with Teddy.  Heavenly.  #heart

-My #soul work has been lacking.  I’ve been going to meetings on a weekly basis, which is always wonderful.  But other than that, I’ve been a nervous wrecking ball of anxiety, angsting over people, places, and things, and not doing a whole lot of #soul work to combat the chaos.  However, Teddy and I did take a walk today to g
ather redbff8174ca64ede0ad29311ac5569eff01uds and other wildflowers growing around Wild Peace Farm.  Our house is full of wildflowers.    It’s officially spring, and that’s definitely #soul food.

-Some of the challenges of having a SPRING BREAK week at home: excess snacking and lots of time to zone out watching FRIENDS episodes while cuddling Edgar.  I’m majorly in need of some #body work.

I’m on the cusp of making some really wonderful changes for the benefit of balance.  Stay tuned!