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!

26168522_1406156256163388_6026196114624591141_n (1)

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.





family · podcasts · recovery · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #heartsoulmindbody

Time for a snapshot:

#soul – I discovered a delightful new podcast – The Mindful Kind – and I’ve been working my way through the archive.  It’s helping me to keep my focus on mindfulness and to maintain my formal and informal daily mindfulness practice.

I also got to have a really good talk with a group of wise and gentle women to start off my Saturday this morning.  Excellent #soul food.

#heart – Tee and I went on our first date since Teddy’s homecoming today!  Ice skating and dinner at an Italian restaurant, with Teddy’s aunt and uncle baby-sitting and his four cousins “helping.”

#body – I’ve gone on snowy runs several days this week – trying to get myself back on track with my running game.  When I’m running regularly, it rehonestally helps me to maintain good balance and to stay in a good headspace.

#mind – I’m taking an online writing course and have been able to carve out a LITTLE time for writing.  There could always be more – but I’m happy to be slowly building up this habit.

Life has been pretty overwhelming recently.  My professional life is pretty chaotic, and I’m waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying for guidance as to what the next right thing to do is.

I very much want my life to be a genuine reflection of who am.  Trying to balance that with making a living is proving a challenge.  But Tee and I got to have some good talks about next steps and job possibilities today.  So I feel hopeful.  Hopeful that maybe something will work out that’s even better than I could have imagined.15672769_10154307145279372_6453315953913161698_n

books + reading · podcasts · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #mind #soul #heart #spirit

Yet another snapshot –

-My sister signed me up for Book Of The Month Club for my birthday.  So fun!  My first book is The Most Dangerous Place On Earth, by Lindsey Lee Johnson, and it’s great so far.  BUT I’m only halfway through.  (#mommyhood – I talked big talk about still being a reader when Teddy first came home, but I now realize I was able to read a lot while he was napping twelve times a day.  As his nap time decreases, my reading time is taking a hit!)  #heart #mind

-I binge-listened to In The Dark, a podcast about a child abduction and murder from the 1980s.  It was compelling, for the most part, but for me it lost some of it’s grab as the season pushed onward.  It could just have been the topic, which was horrifying and terrible at the start and just grew more so as the podcast progressed.  Anyway – it was definitely well-made anImage result for matisse painter in the olive groved interesting.  #mind

-Tee and I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art a few weeks ago to see the Matisse-Diebenkorn exhibit.  This was Teddy’s second art museum adventure and he performed remarkably well.  My favorite painting of the day is pictured here; like a small child, my favorite images tend to be paintings of things I like – books, coffee, rivers, and, of course, trees.  #soul #heart #mind #spirit

-When I’m not sure exactly what to write next, I sometimes browse through posts I’ve saved on Facebook.  Today I did this and discovered two wonderful new websites to explore – Introvert Doodles, a site with comics about (duh) being an introvert; and Sweatpants And Coffee, which seems to be an online magazine with lots of articles and images focused on comfort.  #mind #soul


-I enrolled in a new fiction writing course online!  So excited.  I have zero extra time to devote to this, but I’m doing it anyway.  Going to try to defy the laws of time and space.  #spirit #mind

More to come!