Poem: A Prayer for the Balance.



I asked to know real Grace.
It is my namesake
and I have a feeling I need it.
Instead,
I fight.
I break things.
I break.

So I ask,
God, what can this mean?

Is it a name,
or a thing that lives and breathes?
Does it pardon me, or teach me that I’ve been wrong?

On Sunday mornings,
I believe that there is more to it than a church pew.

On other days, I am caught.

Between hospital beds
and the place where harsh words are said,
in that precarious, miraculous balance
between life 

and death,

I then feel it sustaining me.

book·ish : Book Keeping Collection.

Created by British jewelry and textile designer Betty Pepper, these works of art in her Book Keeping Collection are a beautiful reminder: never judge a book by its cover, but by what you find within it.

book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Inspired By.

I tear myself away from reading this book to bring you a few inspirational posts from around the interwebs. I’ve been on vacation [glorious vacation!] visiting family in Michigan, celebrating my mom’s birthday, and catching up on rest, relaxation and writing. I’ve worked up some new ideas for the blog, and I implemented a new poetry section here this week.

The following posts, like this time away, have been a breath of fresh air to me this week.

Insecurity kills. “You are worth far more then what you do, so don’t flood the internet with you rantings of what you wish you were.”

What to do when your blog growth plateaus. Guest blogger Adam McLane shares some great tips on keeping up the pace when you begin to feel stagnant. My favorite tip: Read a book.

Sometimes I need this reminder: travel young. It’s important. I know this, because I’ve done it. But sometimes in my nostalgia for good memories, I forget that my hunger to see new places isn’t a misguided need for escape, but rather a yearning for new opportunities to grow. Travel is a necessary discipline.

The best kind of friendship is encouraging, loving and brutally honest. I’m thankful for the friends in my life who share this with me, because like Jon Acuff shared this week, it’s the kind that will help you get better.

Writing a blog: is it about truth, or traffic? It’s easy to get the two confused.

And from Enuma Okoro: For the love of God, Write.

And in case you missed them, my new poem and a stunning word portrait.

And finally, I’m seeing this movie tonight for the second time in a week… Yes, it’s that good.

Have a good weekend, friends.

Poem : The Zest.

My fist tight,
I learn to squeeze the lemon
with the same might and firmness that life requires of me.
Whether working with my hands,
fingers sticky with pith and juice,
or working with my head,
thoughts bursting forward toward mind-bending possibilities,
I demand fruit,
flavor,
all that it can give me.
So that when I sit down to rest,
I find the spread delicious,
my self satisfied and spent.

book·ish : Sokol’s Word Portraits

John Sokol’s Word Portraits are an astonishing blend of art and the written word. From specific passages of literature, Sokol creates portraits of the author in their own words, like the one below of Flannery O’Connor, which rendered my speechless when I found it on Pinterest.

book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

Birthday Blessings.

This Thursday my mom will turn the big 5-0. Birthdays are always special, but this one feels especially victorious. She’s made it through a hard year struggling with treatment after treatment, surgery after surgery to combat her metastatic breast cancer.
And so we thought, what better reason to celebrate this milestone than with a surprise birthday party full of friends, family, flowers and good food?
[Beautiful flowers from grown and arranged by Aunt Denise.]
[Our sugar-coma-inducing cupcakes. Aren't they lovely?]
My aunts [my dad's sister and his brothers' wives, and my mother's sister], cousins and I emailed, called, schemed, and prayed for months to plan the party. And then we baked, and cooked, and whipped, and frosted, and decorated, and talked, and laughed.
[The women behind every good party.]
It took a lot of prayer, a lot of planning, a lot of lying through my teeth and maybe more frosting than one body should really consume in one weekend, but we pulled it off. She was surprised!

No one spilled the beans, even though most of the party guests saw her in church yesterday morning. In faith, we refrained from canceling it even though she spent a few days in the hospital last week.
And in faith, we celebrated, thanking God for a beautiful day full of energy and joy and time together.
[The brood: Dad, Mom, Adam, Jacob, Matt.]


[My in-laws.]
[Forever friends.]
[Group hug!]
[The birthday girl!]
It was everything we could have hoped for. I’m a happy, relieved, thankful kind of exhausted.
Maybe you and your family have reason to worry, to wonder what the next few months and years will be like, to think that maybe now is not the time to celebrate. I know how that feels.
But this weekend, all my fear and concern and doubt was replaced by something much more important :
Faith.
Faith to believe that even though it seems like a time to fear the future, tomorrow will be a good day. Faith to believe that life is worth celebrating, even when it’s hard. Faith to believe that He knows our hopes and plans, and He’s working on our behalf.
So, don’t hesitate to celebrate. Do it now. Do it while you can, even if you can’t be sure what today, tomorrow, or next week will hold. Do it together, because family is our best resource for support and strength.
Pray hard. Make memories. Eat everything. And whatever happens, choose to celebrate.

Poem: In Sleep



In sleep I dream of strange things
Closets, lobsters, dead dogs
and old friends
Boats and voices
Vivid colors that fade to black and white
Earnest feelings that ache in waking life.
When I’m tired I wish for sleep
When I sleep,
I fall
Hoping to find something -
A sweet lie,
A vacation,
A kiss I needed -
But always I wake up
And my mind is too revealed.

book·ish : It All Ends 7.15.

As I write this, I realize I was kidding myself to think that what I feel for this beloved series would ever fit in a single blog post. But then, if you’ve been reading my blog and know me at all, you are likely a fan of the series, too. In which case, we both know that emotional connections to stories like Harry Potter cannot be explained in words.
Yes, I am tearing up even as I write this. Because the series that accompanied my adolescence, the characters that even now speak to me about bravery, friendship, and love that concurs death, are about to light the silver screen for the final time.
The books will always be here. The movies will be playing over and over for years to come. Still, there’s something about seeing this series come to a close that puts things in perspective: I am a grown-up now. Life moves on. I am no longer that 13-year-old, frizzy-haired, introverted word-nerd reading
The Goblet of Fire under my covers at 3 a.m.

Source: eblekage.tumblr.com via Bethany on Pinterest

The small, shining faces of Harry [Daniel Radcliffe], Ron [Rupert Grint] and Hermione [Emma Watson] seem adorably dwarfed and baby-ish in retrospect. Next to their matured versions, we have proof that although it feels like just yesterday, 10 years worth of yesterdays have passed since they first appeared in The Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001.
A lot has happened.

For them and for us.
We’ve grown, too, together and in our own ways. Just like these fictional characters that feel so deeply real, we have struggled to hold our world together, to step forward when no one else will, to accept those very different from ourselves, to understand our enemies, to cling to love and friendship in our darkest moments, to decide who we are and who we could be. And we’ve survived, too.
So Jo, thank you for giving my generation a renewed love for reading, a true understanding for the power of literature to influence lives.
Whitney, dear cousin, thank you for all the times you let me come over and read the newest installment within 24 hours, and for helping me sneak off to the theater to see the latest film.
Harry, it’s been a pleasure. Expecto Patronum.
~


book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

book·ish : Women of Letters with Jane Flanagan

A more perfectly bookish post, I may never publish. It’s all of my favorite things together: female authors, Etsy and Jane Flanagan of one of my daily must-reads: Ill Seen, Ill Said. In addition to sharing insightful thoughts and bits of inspiration, Jane owns the charming little webshop Coterie. Take a look at Jane’s curation of Etsy pieces, Women of Letters, a collection inspired by her favorite female writers including Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf and Flannery O’Connor.
And I love her thoughts on incorporating a love for all things literary into daily life : 

“And while it’s unlikely that any of us would adopt the style of these writers verbatim, I like the idea of including a little nod, in your home or your wardrobe, to a favourite writer, character or book.”


book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*

The Shrinking Margin.

If only there existed a magic button for my life, one that I could press to give me that time and space my mind needs to feel rested again. Today I find myself feeling cramped and small and crazed, oppressed by my insecurity. Oppressed by my inability to juggle and format and finish the things I need to do. Do you ever feel that way? This is how I’ve felt intermittently for the last few weeks. 
Summer is my favorite season, because I feel an exuberance in the warmth of each day, an unquenchable need to celebrate life in all its green and flourishing glory. Each wedding, party, cook out, firework, each slice of watermelon and ice cold beverage wet with condensation is a joy to me. I don’t want it to end.

I don’t want to miss it.
And so I struggle in this paradox: in a season that I should celebrate and relax and enjoy the lengthened days, I find myself so overcommitted and busy that the days feel like they’re flying by without me. My calendar and my mind are so full that I have no space to breathe and enjoy it. I find myself living in the margins of my life, which are shrinking by the second.
It’s no wonder, then, that when I think about writing, I’m too worried about whatever else I should be doing to feel at peace with my creativity. For me, writing is a process of roaming through the recesses of thought and imagination, of exploration and rabbit holes and contemplative ideas. And I haven’t made time or space for that recently. So when I sit down to write, and I turn inward to my thoughts and feelings, what I find is a mess – much like the explosion of laundry that has barricaded the path from bed to my closet. Not an inspiring landscape to live in.
Perhaps a three day weekend to celebrate independence is as close as I will get to that magic time and space button, so long as I don’t try to cram it full of going and doing. I won’t be checking my email. I won’t be looking at the time. And I will try my hardest not to think about the coming work week or what I think someone else thinks I should be doing with my time. 
It is my time. It is my life. No one else can create it for me. 
Time to breathe. Time to think. Time to restore rest and writing for me. 
To celebrate, here are a few links from around the www that have inspired me this week: 
Why Todd Henry hopes to die empty.
Two recent sources of inspiration and motivation: Jeff Goins and Darrell Vesterfelt. A great quote from Jeff’s talk with Darrell about the inherent narcissism that comes with being a writer:
“Because writing is an internal act, as is any form of art. And the journey of looking inwardly to bring something out can sometimes be hindered. We can look inside ourselves and never get out.”
And after the concert I went to on Monday, I can’t stop listening to The Swell Season again, particularly this song. [My apologies - there's not a video of a live performance for this.]
For all my single ladies out there, keep believing. We have entered the era of The Return of the Nice Guy. Swoon.
Speaking of nice guys, I married one. Yes, this is a shameless, mushy plug for my music man Matthew Jason. I’m abundantly thankful that I married an artist, someone who understands the roller coaster ride of creativity in all its awkward, crying, mascara-streaked glory. [Obviously, we're talking about me, here, not Matt. My husband does not wear mascara.] He lives to play his heart out, and he always inspires me to keep going. [Fan him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. It would mean a lot to both of us.]
[Image found here.]
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