Waiting for the exhale

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It is that time of year when things begin to snowball and I go, go, go until I crash grumpily. This year I am determined to do better, to make better choices. Rather than pushing through by sheer will alone and waiting until the gifts are open and the feast done I am giving myself permission to exhale as needed. No need to wait for the exhale. I’m taking this one slow and easy, exhaling at will.

If you are looking for a slower season, one to savor rather than rush through headlong, join me in #celebratingdailiness on IG (I’m here!). We can exhale together as needed and share some quiet, restorative moments.

On the bookish front

I haven’t done a post on my reading in a while as I’ve been posting the books I’ve read over here. But I recently spent time with two books that were sent to me and were a bit off the beaten path. The first was Julia Cameron Gray’s poetry collection, Lady Crawford. The second was Faithful Gardener by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

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Lady Crawford is like looking through a peephole into the inner-life of a woman who married into a distantly-related-to-royalty family. The poems in this collection are born from a life filled with parties and travel. As her life becomes one of ease and duty, a self is shed as she fully becomes  Lady Crawford. The opening stanza to one of my favorites, “Bess Houdini”

The ring on my hand is a sparkler alright,
a rich old lady ring I’ll grow
into as the years swell and I harden,
carbonized into a jewel of a wife.
It’s a magician’s trick: put a girl
in a box, abracadabra her into marriage.

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Monica sent Faithful Gardener. I have no idea how this never surfaced on my radar as I was (and am) a huge fan of Women Who Run With the Wolves. But one of the things I love best about reading is the way the right title will land in your hands at the right time. This is a slim volume populated with linked tales about love, loss, survival, and the lessons she learned from her immigrant uncle. Within these pages are stories we all need to be touch by.

PS: If you don’t yet know Monica, pop over to Bohemian Twilight on FB. I make it a point to check in with her postings for the Full and New Moons as her astro insight and knowledge are impeccable and allow me to operate with purpose and understanding.

I will…

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I had a list of I wills I wrote a while back. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I’m talking about: I will get up and have my coffee before the kids. I will move more. I will make time to write daily. I will remember the time my children spend under my roof is fleeting.

I have to laugh at myself. At my naiveté. I mean really, I’ve been doing this parenting gig long enough to know better. And of course there is my penchant for procrastinating. I should have written but instead I will fly by the seat of my pants, succumb to distraction, and then complain about my lack of time. Then I remember the first few lines of this poem by Tess Gallagher:

I STOP WRITING THE POEM

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.

And I shall do the plenty. And I shall procrastinate and succumb to distraction. Somewhere in between it all I’ll write a few words. I’ll do the same tomorrow. And the next day and the next.

Reading: American Housewife

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I picked up American Housewife at the library on a whim. It had been on my reading radar for a while but I thought I had finished with the housewife-as-literature genre. I was wrong.

This book is the housewife equivalent to your snarky friend. Reading American Housewife was like sitting with my snarky friend, sharing a bottle of wine, and just letting it all hang out. Read this book at the right time and you’ll thank me.

Notes from Sunday

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We are de-stuffing. A major work of bringing out all the boxes, sorting through, making decisions of what to keep, what to toss but only after we have moments of our lives flash before our eyes and remember our former selves.

I opened a box to find a half-complete Fulbright application. I had forgotten that particular dream until the papers I’d neatly tucked away brought it rushing back. And my cv, my thesis, my dissertation all on a colorful collection of 3.5″ floppy disks! The kids: What are those? Kids, let me tell me you about the old days before thumb drives. They simply looked at me in disbelief.

And boxes of books I’d read for grad school and for pleasure back when my mind could trace a thought for longer than 30 seconds. And small, delicate things I’d picked up on my travels wrapped in Italian newspaper. We sorted through old photos, old letters. I listed lots of baby clothes on Ebay. The house is still in a state of disorder but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

My 13yo son: It is like you had this whole other life. Oh, I did, I did.

Reading: Floating in My Mother’s Palm

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Some acts of faith, I believe, have the power to grant us something infinitely wiser than we imagine

Two young, precocious female protagonists in a row. I’m on a streak! Floating in My Mother’s Palm—have you read it? It isn’t so much as a novel as it is stories which seamlessly offer up a glimpse of provincial life in post WWII Germany—all through the eyes of young Hanna Malter. Not to worry, Hegi doesn’t focus on politics or the effects of the war but on the life of young Hanna.

Hanna is growing up in a small German town, Burgdorf, populated by an eclectic cast of characters. The daughter of a dentist and an artist mother, she is often left under the charge of a strict, but forgiving house keeper. Young Hanna is influenced by the gossip of the local librarian, her mother’s unconventional ways, and her parent’s tenants. Everyone within Hana’s sphere has a story to tell and each a secret to keep.

This is a light read, one made more manageable by the small stories about different people in the village and it would make a great addition to your nightstand book pile!

PS: For those that care about such things, my September reading list is up over here.

Reading: Ellen Foster

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I cannot fathom how this book didn’t come across my radar before now. It’s everything I want in a book: great writing, Southern flavor, a precocious protagonist, an orphan. And yet, Ellen Foster only appeared on my radar last month. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this little gem of a book was blurbed by Eudora Welty and Walker Percy.

Ellen’s tale begins with this doozie of a sentence: “When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy.” And from there we are in her world, a world of abuse, tragedy on the heels of tragedy and yet, in the midst of it all, Ellen, or “old Ellen” as she calls herself, is a survivor full of grit and hope.

x

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