Winter’s Wonder


There’s a beauty in the starkness of winter. The hard black lines against crystal white brilliance. The miracle of an infinite number of tiny individual flakes seemingly broken off from the white sky and falling to the earth.

But I lose my wonder sometimes in the grey sky and endless stretches of monotone. I might even lose myself on occasion. Trapped, buried, hiding where it feels safe. Inside by myself.

Winter hurts—my hands, my joints, my mind—and I’m tempted to stop there.

Continue reading “Winter’s Wonder”

Unstuck

Unless you’ve been living in Antarctica, under a rock, 100 feet under the ocean, you know it’s January.

Most folks out there are blogging about their goals for 2017 or their review of 2016.

But somehow, I got stuck in November.

My mom has been having some health issues, I’m having some health issues, my good friend has had more loss than anyone should have in a handful of months, work has sent me a few difficult projects, and I’m pulled between two of my own book worlds: One that I semi-finished about a year ago, and now I’m knee deep in edits. And I started the other by writing 50,000 words during November.

In the last few weeks, every time I sit down to write, my brain freezes. It’s terrifying. I have no words. I’ve started a host of articles, blogs, letters, and left a ream of blank paper, hours of blank screens in my wake. Continue reading “Unstuck”

When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born

A little over a year ago, I was walking through one of my favorite places—a local craft store—and picked up a book on Zentangles for my daughter. My girl has a distinct artistic bent, and I thought she’d have fun with these doodles.

Well, it wasn’t long until she was begging me to sit with her and try them.

“Babe,” I said. “I canNOT do those.” Big emphasis on the not.

But she persisted, batting her little girl eyelashes. So I sat my “haven’t had an art class since I was 12” self down to spend time with my girl. It was a decision based on the knowledge that it wouldn’t be long before I was too uncool to hang with the girls.

And boy was I surprised. Continue reading “When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born”

A Few Weeks ‘Til Christmas—A Gift for the Weary

Weary‘Twas a few weeks before Christmas. Not a creature was stirring, except for the mother. There were clothes to be folded, parties to plan, stores to be shopped for 52 people, plus the school bus driver and kind widow next door.

Though the world was all nestled knee-deep in the snow, nightmarish to-do lists danced ’round in my head.

My pillow, cold and lonely, was waiting for my long winter’s nap, but there was, quite simply, no rest to be found.

Deprived of sleep, my brain went all wonky, my temper was shrinking, while my waistline expanded, and I’m dead certain it was torture.

Cookies to bake, but my brain’s on log sawing. Was that one cup or two? One and a half will do.

I’m waiting for St. Nick to pop from the chimney all jolly and droll. But I’m afraid he’s not coming and I’m all on my own.

I may have to rethink the ban on his shelf elf’s patrol…if only it means he’ll help fill the stockings.

I can’t keep my eyes open.

My head falls to the counter with a jerk. And I turn with a lurch, while laying fingers aside my noggin, I fall into my bed, eyes closed in an instant.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

May you find a smidgen of peace…
and perhaps a nice nap.

Did you like this blogpost? I’d love to have you and your friends come along with me. Please click one of the links below to share with others. Or click the follow tab in the bottom right corner and subscribe to Beautiful. Ugly. Me. I’d love to have you with me. Have a Blessed Week!

Conquering Fear and Following Your Calling

conquer-fearSome of you probably know that I spent the 30 days of November writing 50,000 words on my next novel—that’s about 200 pages…basically an entire book. It was a challenge for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Writing with that kind of speed is NOT how I normally write. I’ve always been a little like Ernest Hemingway—reading over what I’d written and editing that before moving forward bit by bit every day.

I thought going for speed might be a good exercise. Help me learn new skills. Stretch me. You know, make me better.

And it might do that yet. But at the moment, with everything that was going on in my family, I wonder if the story I started was worth it.

Every novelist knows that there are points along the way where you hate what you’ve written. But I fear this is different.

Did I push myself into a place I wasn’t called to go? And now I’m overwhelmed in the quicksand that is my book. I’ve too many elements, perhaps not enough research.

I feel as if I didn’t give myself the space to do it right. Sure, I can go back and fix it… maybe.

fdr-quoteIf this character hadn’t been haunting me for 5 years, I might give up. But the more I think on it, the more I think my fear of the character has everything to do with why I veered off in a direction I hadn’t intended on.

Isn’t that like life?

The things we fear most are often the things we’re called to do. Tweet This

So today, I will again tackle the book. Reworking, rewriting, replotting.

I will look straight into fear and walk into it, if for no other reason than most fear runs when it encounters confidence.

I will hunt fear today and invite you to do the same. Tweet This

Did you like this blogpost? I’d love to have you and your friends come along with me. Please click one of the links below to share with others. Or click the follow tab in the bottom right corner and subscribe to Beautiful. Ugly. Me. I’d love to have you with me. Have a Blessed Week!

 

Ode to Tradition

traditionThese days we are full-flung into the season of family and celebration. It’s all making me feel a little bit like Tevye from the famous musical, Fiddler on the Roof, stomping around the house crying, “Tradition!” I’m just missing the big bushy beard and belly to jiggle…OK a few other things too. But you know what I mean.

So here’s my nod to tradition:

At my house, we’ve already hosted Thanksgiving, gone to the tree farm, and trimmed our tree. We’re edging into December and we’re living in Thanksmas at the moment—halfway between pumpkins and snowflakes…Tradition!

We’ve made gingerbread houses and peppermint bark, we’re prepping for Christmas cookies and eating leftover pecan pie. My waistline might be expanding if I didn’t hit the treadmill at 5 am…Tradition!

My kids try to sneak peaks at the packages I’ve hidden on the top shelf of the closet. I’ve been bit by the same generous bug as St. Nicholas and there are presents for nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, including a new game for us to all play together…Tradition!

Somewhere under a pile of school papers is the advent calendar. Every night, we clear space enough space on the table to avoid a fire hazard, when we light the Advent candles, and read a special Christmas book…Tradition!

We’ve smiled for pictures that are perfect. Stuffed messes away. We clean up real nice, but we’re starting to fray.

So purpose and meaning we seek, packing shoeboxes full of toys for kids who’ve nothing, put together scarves for the homeless, given presents to the local foster group home. And, while good and necessary and right, it still lacks a bit of something.

Perhaps it’s a leftover melancholy from my childhood, where traditions were few and far between. But as I sit here in the quiet, with my coffee, I wonder if meaning comes less from tradition, and more from the consistent presence of a loving friend or parent.

So yes, tradition has purpose and contributes to meaning. But it’s my presence inside those traditions that make the difference. And somehow that’s a little freeing.

Wishing you a blessed week…and one full of meaning with a side of holiday tradition.Tweet This

Tweet This

Did you like this blogpost? I’d love to have you and your friends come along with me. Please click one of the links below to share with others. Or click the follow tab in the bottom right corner and subscribe to Beautiful. Ugly. Me. I’d love to have you with me. Have a Blessed Week!

Beautiful Thanksgiving

beautiful-thanksgiving

A few years back, on a whim, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. While it might sound drastic, the book changed my life, and set me on a path that led to me starting this blog—finding beauty even when it isn’t pretty.

I’ve spent the last year studying beauty, looking for it in the most unlikely places—a friend’s horrific divorce, a sink full of dirty dishes, the death of a friend’s dad, arguments with my daughter—and mostly finding it hiding underneath life’s debris.

I found that our differences (political, ethnic, religious, etc.) are critical to creating a beautiful tapestry.

I found beauty in nature, in my own failings, when I wallow, and even in coffee.

Fact is, I find beauty nearly everywhere I look, and I am thankful.Tweet This

And that thankfulness truly has led to a better life, even science confirms it.

In the last year, I’ve watched the world shake under the strain of terror attacks, political disagreements, and war. I’ve seen people polarized against each other, and watched as darkness seemed to win. In those times and places, I’ve become more desperate for thankfulness.

And as I’ve searched and poured out thanksgiving, I’ve found it easier to see beauty, and easier to be thankful…and it’s a beautiful cycle.

So this Thanksgiving season, I’m hoping you’ll join me in searching out beauty. It may not be easy—my sink is currently overflowing with dishes, I have to run to the grocery store (again), and my friend’s cancer is still there—but perhaps together we can add just a touch of beautiful Thanksgiving to the world.

Did you like this blogpost? I’d love to have you and your friends come along with me. Please click one of the links below to share with others. Or click the follow tab in the bottom right corner and subscribe to Beautiful. Ugly. Me. I’d love to have you with me. Have a Blessed Week!

Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle

butterflyWe live near one of the most beautiful places I know, Frederick Meijer Garden. It’s a world-renown sculpture park and botanical garden.

Every March and April this organization bring in hundreds of butterfly chrysalis and moth cocoons and allow them to hatch within the confines of the tropical garden. The visitors walk inside a dreamland of fluttering color.

Awhile back, I took my daughter early specifically to watch a different display than the flying butterflies. We came to watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.

It’d been a rough not the night before. Emotion overflowed my senses and my girl and I needed the retreat. Continue reading “Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle”

Oh the Humanity—Importance of Beauty

importance-of-beautyAs I sit here writing, a fall wind is rippling through the trees, late afternoon sun is dripping horizontal gold through my curtains. The riot of color outside my window makes me smile. It is, undoubtedly and, for us non-philosophy students, unarguably beautiful.

This golden snippet of time is something I look forward to all year round. The memory of days like this is what gets me through the bleak winter months. Well, that and my down parka.

See, there’s something about beauty—especially in it’s classical, fall afternoon sense.

Part of being human is the ability to recognize, look forward to, and remember beauty. Tweet This

I’m fairly certain that my dog, Odie, as smart and crazy as he is, fails to really recognize the breeze, the trees, or even a perfectly cooked steak as beautiful.

He may lift his nose in appreciation, but he fails to be profoundly thankful or reflective about a gorgeous day. Continue reading “Oh the Humanity—Importance of Beauty”

Beauty Defined

beauty-definedI suppose if we’re going to discuss beauty, it’d be important to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Definitions are slippery things…especially when you’re arguing that the thing you’re defining is of life and death importance, which we’ll get to next week.

Let’s start easy. I think most of us can agree on the first aspect. Continue reading “Beauty Defined”