the habit of being_early 2015 reads


“We wear clothes, and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that is who we are.”
—Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

After finishing The Empathy Exams in early January I picked A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and while I never thought it would appeal to me, it did. Hugely. This book restored my faith in the future of the novel. I knew nothing about Chechnya yet the writing drew me in and as the pieces began to come together, I was speechless. This is seamless storytelling and lyric language at its best.

I picked up Station Eleven next which was good, even great in parts. After all the hype around it, I expected more. This is the story of survival after a pandemic and there were many glimmers of a good story but the book bounces around like a crazy ball and the glimmers fizzle out. The plot with the graphic novel was ridiculous (imo).

Up next, Dept of Speculation which is not quite a novel, more like a very fragmented long short story. Speculation made me hurt for the woman and laugh at her joke: “Why couldn’t the Buddhist vacuum in corners? Because she had no attachments.”


PS I get a lot of emails about books so I’ve put a Bookish link in the nav bar. If you click on the link you’ll be taken to every post in that category. Likewise you can scroll down to see my reading lists by year.

  • Okay. I clearly need to find myself a copy of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. But I have two big fat books I’ll be attempting first, Green Henry and The Golden Notebook. I don’t often read big fat books, so we’ll see how it goes… Happy reading!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Oh my, it has been forever since I read any Lessing! Maybe undergrad? I remember beginning with The Golden Notebook at the end of spring semester and then spending the entire summer in a Lessing bender. Enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • I really didn’t like Jenny Offill’s novella and every time I saw it on a best-of list at the end of the year I disliked it even more. It may border on hate at this point. A rare experience.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      sprite, there were things i liked (the style), things i disliked (her and with a vengeance)—i definitely don’t think it lived up to the hype.ReplyCancel

  • I am thrilled that no matter how crazy your life is you still read and take the time to come here and share. I appreciate each and every one of your book reviews and I know I’ve told you that before, but it’s the truth.

  • I just picked up station Eleven from the library. Perhaps I should set it aside and find A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Thanks as always for the recommendations and a bit of your literary insight.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Heather, Station Eleven was good but coming on the heels of A Constellation…, well, it really wasn’t fair to Station Eleven. But I still think it was worth the read and definitely left me thinking “what if”.ReplyCancel

  • Bambi

    Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I just loved this story. I sunk deep into the characters. I will have to check out the other books you mentioned. Love your book posts.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie

    Adding to my reading list, as usual. I love that you inspire my bookish life.ReplyCancel

  • I enjoyed A Constellation and assigned it to my literature class last year–the students had to use it and write a literary research paper on Chechnya. Ouch!! I was fortunate to get “Tony” to do a Skype interview, too, and he answered all of my students questions from what looked like his bathroom. But afterwards, I realized I had the recorded volume down too low and could not replay it for my class. ): Looks like I won’t be taking over for Terry Gross anytime soon, but I loved him and his book!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Rebecca, I love you for this. We are truly kindred spirits!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_2.21.15


Since I was last in this space, Mardi Gras came and went, as did my birthday. The Japanese Magnolias are in bloom and believe it or not, I’ve even spotted a few Azaleas in bloom. The Mister has been home this past week and the rhythm of our days has been a bit off (understatement). Morning walks, runs to the café with him and the Camellia, afternoons spent working while the kids frolicked about outside. Monday will be hard—easing back into some semblance of routine, digging back into learning. Maybe we should put it off until Tuesday?

While most of my attention these last weeks has been spent on readying this and this for the printer and am now elbow deep reading for the upcoming issue of Kindred, there have been some small changes to this site and more are on the way. If you receive the monthly missive I send out, you know this already, but for those that don’t, changes are afoot. Good changes. Solid changes. Changes that have me feeling energized which is welcome—six years in this space and I was feeling a bit Meh. Now? I’m feeling a definite Hell yes! The monthly prompts can now be found here and there are some snazzy buttons in the sidebar for the most popular categories.

I’m still plotting away and if you responded to the questions in the newsletter, I’m taking your responses into consideration. If there is something you would like to see more of in this space, feel free to email me or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Today blew in blustery and overcast, it was a regular Hundred Acre Wood kind of day. The kids are outside attempting to fly kites, I can hear their laughter through the open window and it’s inviting me outside.

Be well my friends.

  • I remember the days when my husband was self employed and at home a lot, I too felt like our rhythm was all over the place. When he went back to being employed I didn’t miss that bit at all! I hope you get back into the swing of things this week.

    A belated Happy Birthday to you.ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    My husband retired just after the new year, so we are establishing a new normal and rhythm here. Love the last paragraph. Conjures up all sorts of images and memories of kite flying as a kid and Winnie the Pooh.ReplyCancel

  • beautiful photograph and glad the tweaks are having an energising effect! I love the new look, and the quote too!ReplyCancel

  • we are still in the midst of winter and I’m enjoying it overall. The frigid temps have curtailed my daily walks and that is my only gripe to date. Soon the weather will break and I’ll be out and about again. Happy birthday and I’m excited that you are excited!!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      No walk here today either as it is cold and raining. Hope you see some sun & warmth soon!ReplyCancel

  • Good changes…like the sound of that! Kites and laughter…wonderful : ) Wishing you a happy week xReplyCancel

  • change is good! love the sidebar navigation. and “in celebration of dailiness” a mighty “YES” to that!!

    more writing inspiration, please!! I always enjoy your perceptive on this, your calling. I’ve also thought it would be wonderful to hear (or maybe you offer a class) on how, as a writer, you use your prompts as a launching point in your writing. does this make sense? I have some sense of what works for me and it’s not necessarily a method..beginning with the thoughts that start stirring in my brain and go from there (and sometimes that is so very hard!!). such randomness, I know. maybe what I’m getting at is an offering of a writing course for us beginners. maybe Write Now is the answer and I just need to be brave and enroll next time :o).

    thank you, my friend and take care!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      april, i’m happy to help. i touched on this a bit in wholly ordinary but maybe need to expand upon it? would love to discuss it with you. email me (and include your bday—i owe you a good turn)!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny

    Amanda your site is like curling up with a cozy blanket and friend. That’s the magic you’ve created. So happy to hear it’s still going strong. It’s an important place for many people.
    Looks like Spring!
    Take Care,

  • I hope a comfortable rhythm is returning to your days and you are continuing to enjoy those magnolias.ReplyCancel

the habit of being_constancy


This week got away from me. The sun hidden away, the yard (and kids) a muddy mess. Two knitting projects off the needles and gifted to their recipients before being photographed. There have been the constants that come with this time of year: cups of smoky lapsang consumed, a batch of cookies, winter squash soup, wool socks drying, quilts and books left abandoned on the sofa.

There has been work, the kind that brings a deep satisfaction. Something about the work and this time of year brings to mind my high school English class, the teacher up front reading Melville, Shaw whilst my mind and heart were only half present, ears only half-tuned in until something in a single line of poetry or prose brought me to attention, focused my breath, and made me feel. What was it?

There has been adoration of baby toes. And sleeping baby fingers curled gently into fists. There has been much nuzzling and inhaling of babyness, my nose buried in her neck, the top of her head. It is a familiar sweetness, one that brings joy and a tinge of sadness as I marvel over her so big! so soon! and whisper plea, stay a wee babe a bit longer sweet love. There is still the glow of twinkle lights, a basket of wool waiting to be looped and stitched into something useful. There are candles and diffusers making our home cozy. Overflowing bookshelves, paintings drying on the dining room table, the hum of the dryer, the sound of Bach’s Cello Suites coming from the living room, the sounds of this soundtrack coming from the Red Bean’s room. There is a cat asleep in my favorite sitting spot which doesn’t matter because as soon as I sit down someone will need something. These are my constants and I’m devoted to celebrating them.


PS: If you’ve considered joining Cornerstone, registration will be closing at the end of January. If, like me, your good intentions are already faltering, maybe community and a bit of guidance in the get-it-done department will be just what you need. I signed up to set a strong foundation for 2015, my year of planning, intention, and legacy building; it’s not too late to set yourself up for a great year too! Yes, I’m an affiliate but I having already dug in and gotten my fingers dirty so to speak, it’s worth it and that is why I’m sharing it with you.


+++ Joining in with others inspired by the prompts here.

  • Our week’s seem pretty similar and I for one am glad to see the sun today, it’s been too long.

    Enjoy soaking in all that baby goodness, I miss it.

    PS- Are you on Goodreads? I admire your taste in books so very much, finally joined the site and would love to follow you. You have expanded my book reading more than another other than my Dad, thank you.ReplyCancel

    • That should read ‘you have expanded my book reading more than anyone except my Dad’. :)ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Love hearing this, Tracey! I am on Goodreads :)ReplyCancel

      • Janet

        How can we look you up on GoodReads?ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten

    So much to celebrate. It’s just all about spotting the perfection. XReplyCancel

  • They are very much worth celebrating! It is the time for cosying up, candles and twinkly lights…wishing you a wonderful weekend xxReplyCancel

  • Felicia Jones

    Oh, I had a moment this afternoon when I felt an acute sadness as I remembered squeezing chubby legs and nibbling on tiny toes. My baby is now 18 and away at school. Where, oh where, did the time go?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Shhhh Felicia! Trying not to think about that ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Ah, those sweet baby legs and feet.
    Those are some perfect constants. I can see why you are celebrating them.ReplyCancel

  • Those baby legs! Too cute. And I love your piece. Just reading it makes me feel calmer. Your voice is really soothing here.ReplyCancel

  • Our children are a constant to us, as are our homes. Places to retreat to when we need to. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.ReplyCancel

  • you paint a lovely picture of babies and children and life abundant! love those baby feet :)ReplyCancel

  • i love the word constant and you paint such beautiful pictures of it.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny

    Will I ever not shed a few tears when I read posts like yours? Beautifully expressed for all of us. You do help remind me that even if you have a whole houseful of babies, they all do indeed grow up. I marvel at my almost 6 year old and my 2 year old. How can I see it happening day by day but struck dumb at certain moments of their lives when they seem so old. You remind me to cherish every drop. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Goodness! I go into hibernation for a bit and Wow!!! I know life continues on all around, but there’s nothing like a new baby to point that out. Congratulations! I hope all is well. Take care!!ReplyCancel

  • Overflowing bookcases, candles, Bach’s Cello Suites and chubby baby thighs. Bliss.ReplyCancel

the habit of being_celebratingdailiness6#celebratingdailiness is a hashtag. A way of life. A way of seeing the beauty in the mundane. An embracing of the here, the now, the perfect, the imperfect. This is my plan for 2015.

Why? Because I want to cultivate a sense of wonder. If you’ve taken this course you have already heard me wax on about the importance of the ordinary, the dailiness in both my life and creative process.

I think of Welty and her words and work that both point to real things. “Abstraction always being the enemy of art,” her fiction rests in particulars, never the general, and in particular things as experienced in reality. Her writing is a celebration of particularity, of details.

I think of Walker Percy, a southerner, a fellow wayfarer and seeker, and of his “holiness of the ordinary.” I can think of no better way to be serenely at home than to celebrate the ordinary, the details, the dailiness. This year I commit to open myself up to the wonder and the mystery around me.

Want to revel in dailiness with me this year?

  • Find me on Instagram where I’ll be using the hashtag #celebratingdailiness.
  • Tag your Instagram posts and tweets with #celebratingdailiness.
  • Have a blog post you’d like to share? Link up in the comments of this post or share a link to your post here.
  • You can search for all #celebratingdailiness posts on Twitter and Instagram simply by searching #celebratingdailiness.

Need a #celebratingdailiness image for your blog? Find them here. If you click on “share” you’ll get the url for each image for easy use on your site.


  • Kirsten

    I’m loving this. Thank you for being an inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • I am not on instagram or twitter, but I will be following the dailiness in my world and making sure I make note of it.
    Enjoy your beautiful world!ReplyCancel

  • Manise

    Love your new hashtag! A fun way to share.ReplyCancel

  • Love this idea, Amanda! I will plan on joining in!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa

    Ann, I LOVE this! I NEED this. Thanks, my friend.ReplyCancel

  • I love this idea and the images that you captured for blog use! So perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Perfect.ReplyCancel

  • A lovely idea :). I am not on Twitter or Instagram so not able to share but I do blog each week about the ordinary moments in my week.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Looking forward to seeing your ordinary moments!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Bonin

    You and I are terribly kindred. How grateful I am to call you friend. This is perfection.ReplyCancel

  • […] #celebratingdailiness […]ReplyCancel

  • Using the hashtag has been a great way to find the beauty in my dailiness again. Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • ok, i’m in, and just IGed one. ;)ReplyCancel

  • First of all, I enjoy your writing whenever I visit. It’s a kind of simple poetry – a flow to your words that relaxes, captivates and inspires at all once… even if all you’re saying is hi. :) Secondly, I love the idea “celebrating dailiness”. It’s perfect for me – a mother – where my days seem nothing but mundane. It’s what I strive for everyday; seeing the extraordinary beauty in quotidian life. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Thank you for your kind words, Alexa!ReplyCancel

  • […] #celebratingdailiness […]ReplyCancel

  • […] There is still the glow of twinkle lights, a basket of wool waiting to be looped and stitched into something useful. There are candles and diffusers making our home cozy. Overflowing bookshelves, paintings drying on the dining room table, the hum of the dryer, the sound of Bach’s Cello Suites coming from the living room, the sounds of this soundtrack coming from the Red Bean’s room. There is a cat asleep in my favorite sitting spot which doesn’t matter because as soon as I sit down someone will need something. These are my constants and I’m devoted to celebrating them. […]ReplyCancel

  • What a lovely idea. I aim to look at the small wonders and delights that every day brings, but it will be nice to also be part of a community of people who are aiming to do the same.ReplyCancel

  • Yes! Your intention of celebrating dailiness truly resonates with my own desire to notice and delight in the simple daily moments that beautify, enrich, and touch my life. I equally love your shift towards simplifying your web presence and am enjoying following your blog. Your writing and images are like kindred friends. Thank you!ReplyCancel

the habit of being_jan 2015


I have ideas (big, small, in between) for 2015, for this life of mine. I have a plan, loose here, concrete there. As I mentioned on Instagram yesterday, I’m not the sort to choose a word, to make resolutions. I live life, I sink down into it, do gentle course corrections when I stray too far from the path.

I think of the time available to me each day and get depressed. There is not enough time to get in all the things each and every day. I can’t do it all so I’ve been thinking long and hard about the things I love doing, about the things I never regret spending my time on, about the things that fill me and leave me empty. What this means is that change is, as ever, afoot. I’m fully expecting I’ll have to make some big changes, cut some losses. Scary. Hopefully liberating.

The plan as it stands now:

  • Finish the essay burning in my brain no matter how painful, how raw it leaves me feeling. It needs to be done so I can move onto the next one.
  • I’m participating in Cornerstone. This is new for me but just a few days in, I’m starting to see things, to see how I need more details in my loose plan. And so I’m in, committed, and looking forward to a bit of accountability. Sound like something you might need? Maybe I’ll see you over there and we can be accountable together. (Note: that is an affiliate link but if I didn’t find it useful, I wouldn’t share it with you so keep that in mind.)
  • Put out two lit mags and five books this year.
  • Read great books.
  • Draw more, lots more.
  • Stick my head out more. Have coffee with a friend. Have a phone chat with a friend. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy with my hermit ways.
  • #hellomorningcoffee was fun and I’ll still do it but I’m kicking off 2015 with #celebratingdailiness—if you’re on Instagram, I’d love it if you’d join me!

There’s more. Much more but this is what I know for certain now.

Happy New Year my friends! May your 2015 be bright.


  • Happy New Year, Amanda! I’m in Cornerstone as well, looking for guidance + getting clear on my plan. I wish all good things for you and your beautiful family in 2015. xoReplyCancel

  • I agree with you about feeling like there’s too much to do, so much that we want to do and coming to terms with what must go. It’s painful but liberating, as you say. I am doing the same. :)

    I love your list. It has challenges, hard work but also rewards involved.

    Happy 2015 to you – it will be amazing!ReplyCancel

  • That sounds like a wonderful list of aspirations, I hope you find the time to fit them in. You right that we have to decide what is important to make time for as we cannot do everything.ReplyCancel

  • With your words (and others like Lori), I have thought a lot about what is truly needed in my life. On what do I want to focus and spend my precious time? I struggle at times, because I have my kiddos to consider as well. I think part of my constant course correction is recognizing what works and really sinking into those moments and digging a bit deeper. So good to see what you are thinking as this new year dawns.ReplyCancel

  • Jen

    So well said. As always. So much rings true.
    Best wishes for 2015!ReplyCancel

  • Hooray for more drawing!

    And a happy new year to you.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Thank you, Kortney! Happy and blessed New Year to you and yours :)ReplyCancel

  • Cutting losses here’s the only way sometimes! Loved reading your plans, however loose, it all sounds great! Wishing you good things in 2015 xReplyCancel

  • Less on line, more in person. Write. Take pictures. January will be pinhole month.ReplyCancel

  • I love your plans for the new year. I will look into Cornerstone, thank you for the recommendation!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      My pleasure, Imene! I know you’re a planner and organization junkie at heart just like me ;-)ReplyCancel

  • I wish you a wonderful 2015 and I know you will achieve all of your goals :) Happy new year!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Thank you, Karen, and happy 2015 to you!ReplyCancel

  • Love the dailiness idea – celebrate the ordinary! Happy New YearReplyCancel

  • P.S. What is Cornerstone?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Juliann, Cornerstone is a year long program with accountability to help keep me focused on creating what I want in my life/my work/my community!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke

    Dailiness is a great idea. I get wrapped up in big schemes and drive myself batty. Cornerstone looks interesting. My big idea of the new year is to start saying no. Especially no to parties, however fun, with friends that are at night and Hisband cannot attend. Happy new year!ReplyCancel

  • Happy New Year! I’m drawing more too. I bought fancy drawing pens and I must say they are so fun to use. I need to read way more. I read picture books to the girls and gardening books and blogs but not enough fiction.ReplyCancel

  • it years of work to whittle down to my priorities. i’m a HUGE Scanner and enjoy so much.
    like you, in not one for resolutions, but for the first i have a word this year. probably change in a few months lol, but it’s my intention for Now. and my word has smatterings of being a little less hermity this year. it’s a year for outwardness for me.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Bonin

    A perfect plan.
    Much love my friend.ReplyCancel

  • Good for you, planning is everything! :)ReplyCancel