My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Space and light and order--those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.~Le Corbusier
It can be merciful to have the right tool at just the right moment. I have a miniature hammer. At the bottom of the handle, I can turn a knob and three sizes of Phillips-Head screw drivers fit inside one another. I have used the hammer for decades and it has proven reliable on numerous occasions. Like the hammer, a few life practices act as tools to encourage light and space and order for living. As I look back over 2022, here are a few tools I've found useful. As always, take what you want from these posts and leave the rest.
Movement: How many times do we hear that exercise is needful for health, especially brain health? Sometimes the plethora of messages induce feelings of guilt, because we aren't moving as much as we could. And there are so many options for exercise to choose from. What works for a friend, may not work for you. Perhaps it could be helpful to think about merely decreasing sedentary habits and increasing movement. I found on YouTube a type of movement that is a good tool to help me stay consistent with exercise. I like the Australian instructors. I like their accents and that they have low, medium and high levels for the workouts. They use real people in their videos that are not picture perfect, like me. Enclosed is a link to Team Body Project, and representative of their many workout sessions. Participating with them most days, helps bring order to my life, and clears my mind, helps keep me energized. Team Body Project
Music: Thankfully, there are as many music genres as there are people. I love to listen to music while writing. I find music to be one of the most helpful tools for bringing light and hope to my creative process. The music of Yiruma has been my soundtrack for years. providing joy and comfort. My brain is able to relax when I listen to him. Along with a scented candle and a cup of tea, Yiruma's melodies feel as needful for writing as does my miniature hammer with its trifecta of screwdrivers for home projects. Here is a taste for you to try: Yiruma
To be quiet in spirit and believe in your pace, your way of doing things.~Journal entry, May 2022
It is December. Hard to believe we have turned the page to the last month of 2022. Many are taking their Christmas decorations from the attic and lacing lights through branches of pine boughs, stringing bursts of white light around windows. Last night I walked about our condo complex under a bright moon, soft tendrils of air blowing my bangs away from my face, warm for the last evening of November. I felt the embrace of the holiday season, lights blinking, casting blue and red shadows on the pathway as I made my way around the circle. I came home, lit a candle, made myself a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and grabbed my journal. I wanted to reflect upon the previous months of 2022. What had I come away with? What did I need to remember?
I wrote that I often live life attempting to control things I can't--like trying to eat Jell-O with a fork, the gelatin slipping from the tines. I people please too much and write out lists of shoulds that I never reach. I don't listen to myself.
I read further...
I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.~From Hosea 2:15, The Message Bible)
Books find me. This week the title is Corrections in Ink, a memoir by Keri Blakinger. The author writes of her history of substance use and subsequent two-year sentence in prison for drug possession. Even during the misery of incarceration, she became sober (despite having opportunity to use substances while in prison) and wrote on every scrap of paper she could find, the story of her experience behind bars. It is an intense, well-written read. She created a successful life post-incarceration and now works for The Marshall Project, a non-profit online news organization that raises issues that lead to criminal justice reform.
Ms. Blakinger's story pulled at my heart, and caused me to remember the years I conducted risk-reduction groups at the county jail as part of my job as a substance use counselor. Each time I went inside, my crossover bag was thoroughly checked. No cell phones. No materials with staples. No paper clips. Surrender my driver's license. I had to be escorted by a guard to the women's unit. There was a particular smell I inhaled as I walked along the hallways--an amalgamation of bleach and the sharp-scent of anxiety. The guard would buzz me into a locked alcove while I waited to enter the cell block. Sometimes I might have to stay in that tiny foyer for twenty or thirty minutes before I could go in. The space was stuffed with bags of dirty laundry waiting to be picked up. I told myself, "At least you can leave soon."
The sunlight is dancing along the whitecaps. It looks as if the sea were filled with thousands upon thousands of flickering stars.~Dani Shapiro (From Signal Fires)
I live near water. The ocean is not far away. There are bridges that span acres of the sea in my geography. There is marsh land. Swamps too. I have appreciation for all of it. This week I crossed a bridge and witnessed the sunlight spangling over the blue water. Sailboats gliding in cottony silence. To witness this beauty was something to behold on an ordinary day. All that gleaming water like thousands and thousands of flickering stars.
As I drove, a memory of childhood came to me. My grandmother and I often watched television together. And when a Billy Graham crusade was televised, we were glued to the screen. My grandmother loved Billy Graham. It would be hard not to love him, I guess. His handsome face and his thick, wavy brown hair. The distinctive North Carolina accent bidding people to listen to the gospel of grace, the love of Jesus. At the end of his sermon Reverend Graham would say something like, "Jesus is bidding you come. Come to Him. He offers forgiveness and salvation. Don't wait. Come now." And the hymn would be playing, "Oh Lamb Of God, I come. I come." My grandmother would say to me, "Look at all the people. There's a sea of people going to the front because they understand that Jesus loves them and forgives their sins." And my grandmother would sing the hymn under her breath, "Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt. Fighting within and fears without, O Lamb of God, I come. I come."
It is something--it can be everything--to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters while the drinking and boasting and reciting and fighting go on below; a fellow bird whom you look after and find bugs and seeds for, one who will patch your bruises and straighten your ruffled feathers and mourn over your hurts when you accidentally fly into something you can't handle.~Wallace Stegner (From The Spectator Bird)
She hadn't planned on the conversation. My sister told me she went out to walk her dog. Right before she was about to go inside, her neighbor pulled up beside her and rolled down her window. "There I stood in the middle of the cul-de-sac, but it was early in the morning so there was no one else around, no cars that we were holding up." My sister said that she had had little contact with the neighbor. They'd been friendly, talking about their plants and the weather, but nothing deep. However, the neighbor began to pour out something intimate, something intense. The neighbor said right there on the street with the window rolled down, "I don't know how my husband could do this to me. Am I just to forget about seventeen years of marriage? And now he's remarried and I don't have much money. I'm supposed to be retired and now I've had to find a job. I can't forget about him."
My sister said her dog laid down in the street, sensing not to pull on the lead to get into the house for his kibble.