And then we could read…

Listing 14 books by women that I’d like to reread, just made me think of more.

“For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of — to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.”
― Virginia WoolfTo the Lighthouse


At my 3-day workshop in November I was given a handout called “What To Do When You Feel Stuck.” I have referred to this handout dozens of times in the last few months, and it has really, really helped. So I’m going to share it with you, in particular the 6 steps borrowed from Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks.

1. Say “I’m stuck” over a few times in your mind [I say it out loud, but I am out here in a cabin in the back yard where no one can hear me], listen to the tone of voice and ask: Whose voice is it? Where is it coming from, the front, back, or side of your mind? (no right or wrong answers)

2. How are you experiencing the feeling in your body? What are the sensations associated with being stuck? (e.g., knot in stomach, queasy, neck tight, pressure in chest)

3. What do these sensations remind you of? How is it familiar? With whom are these feelings associated? When in your life did they first begin?

4. What do you need to learn from being stuck? [I like to ask, “What’s my assignment?”] What message do you need to pay the most attention to?

5. What do you need to do about these feelings of stuckness? Do you need to talk with someone? Are there actions you need to take?

6. Who can best support you in attaining real freedom right now in your life? Who will be unflinchingly honest with you? Who will you be unflinchingly honest with? How can you get the support you want in becoming free?

If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them!



Happy Valentine’s Day

hearthandsApparently there is something afoot on the web, or in the TwitterVerse, called #READWOMEN2014 (look up the Huffington Post article for more information). The idea made its way to me via Kathleen Kirk’s excellent blog, Wait! I Have a Blog?

So, for you, for Valentine’s Day, 14 novels by women, recommended by moi. These are all books I have read, reread, and/or plan to read again. They are not all contemporary novels, though I tried to stick to at least the 20th century. I could have listed LOTS more, and I decided to limit myself to one title per author. That was hard, too.

1. Paradise, Toni Morrison
2. Olive Kitteridge  Elizabeth Strout
3. The Beginning of Spring,  Penelope Fitzgerald
4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,  Rachel Joyce
5. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,  Helen Simonson
6. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,  Anne Tyler
7. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
8. Winter Wheat, Mildred Walker
9. The Moonflower Vine, Jetta Carleton
10. Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, Rumor Godden
11. The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty (I’ll have to save Grace Paley for my list of favorite short-fiction writers)
12. The Outlander, Gil Adamson
13. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
14. The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean

Currently I am reading Elizabeth’s George’s Just One Evil Act. Next up, Cuckoo’s Calling, which (despite the “Robert Galbraith” on the cover) is written by J. K. Rowling. Then, Have His Carcase, which I have read before (by the way), by Dorothy L. Sayers. I am on a mystery binge. 

Now, back to writing. Happy VD!

One more book on my list…

…as if there aren’t enough.

But this hit all my monsters-in-literature buttons. A bonus. And it’s an audio file, which meant I could play a hand of spider solitaire while listening.

To listen to NPR’s interview with Marcel Theroux about his new novel, Strange Bodies:
Marcel Theroux

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

James Rhodes

I came across this article (and the accompanying videos) at Steven Pressfield’s blog (which I read faithfully–it’s brilliant). The article originally appeared in The Guardian, and I promise you (if you are one of those creative crazy people like me, always looking for inspiration), you will love it, too.

James Rhodes: Find What You Love and Let It Kill You (link to The Guardian article)

My friend Karen W. once told me something that, despite many years of gainful and sometimes soul-sucking employment, I have never forgotten. The world has plenty of business majors and people who will do anything for money. If you can do what you love, because you love it, even if you never make money at it–that’s your gift to the world. 

Did you hear that? Here’s how James Rhodes puts it: “Do the math. We can function—sometimes quite brilliantly—on six hours’ sleep a night. Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can’t even smoke?”

Read the article and watch the videos. I mean it!

Fighting Perfection

em1This is for Shawna: The link will take you to Kaitlin Johnson’s guest post at the Superstition Review blog.

Reading it, I remembered a story my mother used to tell about me. According to Mom, I refused to color (remember those coloring books and the Crayolas from childhood) until I could do it perfectly. I watched my older brother. My mom showed me what to do, but I stood by and watched. When I did start coloring, I did it flawlessly, all in the lines. Green trees, blue sky, brown dogs, smoke curling from perfect houses.

I think of my own daughters and their love of a mess. When Annie and Pearl were in preschool they used to come home covered in paint. I said to their teacher, “Can’t they wear smocks?” And not just their teacher but every adult in earshot turned and said, “They do!” Pearl, especially, loved anything with texture. Carving pumpkins, she still has to get her hands in the guts of the beast and FEEL everything. The more smeared up her hands and arms, the better. Worms, dirt, the ocean. I could tell you story after story of  full body immersion.

I said (above) that this post is for my friend Shawna. But I think it’s really for me. Bethany: don’t be afraid to make a mess.