So I have some books to tell you about. This is my To Be Read pile, I’ve read only a couple of these books and the rest are waiting in the wings for me.
Top to Bottom: Gifts from the Sea, A Beautiful Composition of Broken, Keep Moving, The Art of Gathering, All Along You Were Blooming, Tiny Beautiful Things, A Moveable Feast, The Wisdom of Your Body, Braiding Sweetgrass, Shameless, Untamed, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Life is in the Transitions. I’ve made an easier list for you here, on amazon.
Gifts from the Sea, I read almost every year. My mom gave me this book and it’s a favorite, in constant rotation. The poetry by Maggie Smith and ‘All Along You Were Blooming’ have been life-preservers for me this past year.
Tiny Beautiful Things is one of my favorite collection of essays. Sheryl writes with such honesty, such integrity with empathy. She bullshits zero and I cry my way through her ability to connect to strangers.
The other titles, I’ve maybe tried to get into but haven’t been able to or I simply haven’t cracked the spine yet. I buy books (and very much love the library) but buying an authors words feels like believing in myself every time I Add to Cart. I’m a messy reader, too. I underline and take notes and re-read passages and earmark for later. I love the proof in the pages that I’ve gone somewhere between chapters.
I keep poetry on my Notes app on my phone. Little sentences, prose, that come to me while I’m driving or in the produce aisle of the grocery store. In my kitchen, I keep junk mail envelopes and often have little ditties come to me while I’m cooking or washing dishes by hand.
I can’t remember where I was when this one came to me, but it was one of those lightbulb moments where my skin prickles and everything comes into focus.
“Once my good is gone, am I still bad?”Jodi Schaap
There are relationships in my life who have made this the script for me – but I have believed it, endorsed it. I cosigned this assignment. Pay retribution for all your bad by being good, and we’ll see what you’re left with. It kind of hit me between the eyes, once my good is gone … am I still bad? When do I get off this ride? Because I want to stop proving to no one that I’m not bad. I want to be bad, if I am, and I want to be good, if I am. But I want to stop using one to negate the other.
This is a hard one for me. I wouldn’t have thought I was a people pleaser but it turns out it matters to me what people think of me. I’m a huge fan of the truth but not everyone gets access to every chapter and I’ve had to work through just doing the work so I can look in the mirror and be pleased. No other voices needed.
I am forever running toward the water. Through the trees, if at all possible. In the rain, even better. I want to be on her shore drowning in her vast silence while she laps away all my fear. This is the one place I can count on to hold me.
I feel like a rabid animal in my emotions, most of the time. Trying to tame them so I can name them but really, just hanging on for the ride so they don’t run roughshod all over my life. And when I’m on the shore looking across the endless horizon, I know deep in my soul, that I am not wild but am being set free. And this is it what it feels like to be really be me.
Another place I am always trying to get back to is home. We’ve established this, but I am a homebody. I love being home. And I love being alone at home (which for the past 2 years is kind of a joke, but I’m adjusting). As an enneagram 5w4, I have a very short battery life. Recharging, solitude and quiet, is a large portion of my personal wellbeing diet. When I’m out with friends and I’m ON, I have no problem being on. Especially if I’ve prepared for it.
Mostly though, if it’s near water and there are trees involved somehow; I’m there. Gardens. Parks. We detour for Botanical Gardens. The sense of wonder I have when I’m outside is unmatched to anything else I’ve looked for.
10 Things to Tell You: 3 Changes I’m Making to Find Balance – I’m a regular listener of Laura’s. She comes from a similar background and talks about how different “then and now” is often, which I really enjoy her take on choosing herself and not the small town expectation of “this is how we do it” mentality I know the Midwest soaks in. What really spoke to me about this episode, specifically, is how down to earth her approach is to finding balance. Less liquids, yes. I think a lot of us let the lines blur between “fun, happy hour!” to “daily glass of wine to get through this” since March of 2020. I know I did, and hearing someone else spearhead this conversation was so needed for me at the time I listened to it.
For the Love Podcast: Your Body is YOU with Dr. Hilary McBride – “… or I can look at my body and say, ‘Ohhh, you’re remembering. You’re remembering all of the times that it has been so scary to be in this particular seat. No wonder you’re getting my heart racing. You’re trying to tell me to pay attention.’ So we have a body that is wired to keep us safe, to keep us alive and we misconstrue some of the messages our bodies give us, or send to other people as being inconvenient/problematic; when really what they’re doing is they’re telling the story of what we’ve been through. And they’re actually pointing us in the direction of what we need to do to heal. They’re saying ‘There is still some stuff here that you think is happening that actually was over a long time ago and it’s time for you to heal this part. And I’m telling you it’s time to do some healing by giving you all this information.'” (Time marker 22:35)
So, holy fuck. The entire podcast is yes for me. And I think the next book, right to the top of my list, is The Wisdom of Your Body by Hilary McBride.
Armchair Expert: Nadia Bolz-Weber – I appreciate almost every conversation I listen to when Dax is involved. Is he crass? Can be an asshole? Stokes the fire a bit? Yea, 100%. And I love how friggen smart he is. How he thinks through situations from all sides, how he can actually appreciate different view points than he holds and how he he holds space for the questions. He has a lot of opinions, but he’s never above being wrong about them. So, I think this was the first time I was introduced to Nadia Bolz-Weber and she is dynamic and I love her. I’m a huge fan of people who do the hard work to dismantle the bullshit of religion to end up back in the room with a heart to help us along the way.
Armchair Expert: Susan Burton – I still can’t stop thinking about this one. It sits in my craw, often. This woman has done so much, with so little … and she just kept doing the next thing. I’m paraphrasing here – but it’s as if her mind thinks “I can help 3 women right now, but I see a need for 30. So, we’re going to help all 30 and make room for the 100 coming.” And I can’t stop thinking about how she says yes.
The Moth: The Date Jar – Huge fan of The Moth and storytelling, in general. This one feels kind of silly to include here but I cried listening to her story. There was such a beautiful bit of closure for her in the midst of a breaking heart, which ended up being the beginning of a wonderful new adventure. Letting other people hold us when the bottom falls out, when plans were made but the players who were supposed to be there are no longer in the game with us. This story was about connection, relationship and ultimately … her choosing herself anyway. I love a good love story.
10 Things to Tell You: 10 Tips to Wardrobe Confidence – Sometimes I just need to hear other women say things out-loud. Laura does this often, for me. She has such a level headed way about her but she thinks the way I do. And she says it out-loud. Without apologizing (too much). Some of the things I wonder about, I honestly think it’s just me. I don’t bother to ask or I wait for someone else to wonder aloud … when I go looking for answers, it’s rarely because I’m missing one. I don’t know what I don’t know. And I love the conversations about all things I wouldn’t normally find myself in. Fashion? Yep, that ticks the boxes. Especially having a body that I haven’t ever had before. We’re larger than we used to be, but I can still look good. I feel good, why wouldn’t I dress that way? It’s a good one, you should give it a listen.
The Moth: Council of Dads – Wow. Well, this is my gateway drug to storytelling and podcasts. I remember where we were, as a family, on the backroads in New York state … taking the “no highways” route to a camp ground and Aaron and I ended up sobbing through this story. Our kids were younger, little chirping voices in the back of the van, and everything is always raw for me when we talk about Dads. Having lost mine when I was only 21 and having a irreparable relationship with a birthfather, stories like this rock me. Knowing Aaron’s group of friends from high school are this kind of close that, should something ever happen, we have access to our own council of dads … and the conversations this one episode has prompted in our lives, in our marriage, in our wills. He’s the author of Life is in the Transitions, which is on my list. It might get shoved to the top of the list, as well. Right behind Hilary’s new release. But, if you listen to only one: make it this one. It’s fantastic.
Well, friends. We’ve made it this far. It’s hailing/raining outside my window and the last vibrant yellow leaves are hanging on while a flurry of her friends float around on the invisible breeze. I have my favorite “writing” playlist bumping through my earphones and my desk is a mess of notes and papers. I live in organized chaos, just like my heart. We’re all there, just a little unhinged.
This is the song I have on repeat lately: Winter/Fall by Matthew Chaim.
But I keep falling
Keep writing these poems
To find out what’s frozen inside of me
So let me in these momentsMatthew Chaim
Let me begin the healing
Let me fix what’s broken
And melt away your wounds
Let go, Let’s go.