In Memory of Natalie

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Not My Highest Calling (On Middle Places)



The church isn’t the only place that gets it wrong.

A commenter on Facebook pointed this out to me, and she’s correct. However, being a Southern-raised girl who married a minister… the church is where I’ve seen it most.

“Motherhood is a woman’s highest calling.”

This is a lie. Or, at the very least, it is a lie for most women. It is a lie piled high and heavy on young girls’ hearts. Or, at the very least, it was piled high and heavy onto mine.

I have to take a quick moment to point out… my parents NEVER taught me this. My father isn’t even a Christian, and he certainly never pressured me to have kids one day. He never pressured me to do much of anything except always use sarcasm and fight hard for what I want. My mother encouraged me to stand on my own two feet and she worked her fingers to the bone to make sure I had every opportunity to do so.

But I digress.

Once I left my little country church for a bigger church with a youth group, I noticed things. Sunday school classes were arranged by age and family status. When I finished high school, I moved to the college & young adult class. There was also a singles class, a young marrieds class, and then came the couples with babies and so on and so forth. The oddness of this never crossed my mind until I married and had my first child.

I was only 20-years-old, and the church didn’t know where to put me. By age, I should have been in the college Sunday School class, but that was an epic fail. Those kids were hungover from partying or talking about Econ classes. I was caring for an infant with reflux and battling Postpartum Depression. So we were moved to a class for couples with kids. These people were all in their thirties and forties and mostly ignored us as still being kids ourselves.


CONTINUE READING ON MIDDLE PLACES

Monday, May 11, 2015

Currently: May is a Pious Fraud

Current Books: I just read Bone Gap and was swept off my feet. Now I am reading Yes, Please, because I really need to laugh. I am listening to the audio of Before I Fall. I also just listened to Belzhar and loved it.

Current Playlist: Hitting shuffle on iTunes and seeing what comes up

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I just ate Taco Bell.

Current Colors: Bright red

Current Food: Pepperoni and cheese

Current Drink: Manzanita Sol

Current Favorite Favorite: Stress Away oil blend rubbed on my wrists. I keep sniffing my wrists.

Current Wishlist: A haircut

Current Needs: Peace, patience, stamina


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Current Triumph: I survived the weekend.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Weekends

Current Indulgence: I think I am going to make brownies in a few minutes.

Current Mood: At this exact moment, I am okay. Mostly, lately, I am a big ball of anxiety (hence the Stress Away on my wrists and the hatred of weekends).

Current Outfit: jeans, Bell Jar tee, white sweater, sparkly back Toms

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He doesn't always understand me, but he always tries and he is always supportive. He encourages me to feel my feelings. He doesn't freak when I text him thirty times in ten minutes.


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Current Quote: “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it.” -Amy Poehler

Current Photo:
Jamberries on my tootsies



Title taken from:  "May is a pious fraud of the almanac." - James R. Lowell

Monday, April 27, 2015

10 Things About My Writing

There is a lot of non-writing stuff going on in my life right now, and I am struggling to focus on much of anything. But my little blog was feeling neglected. Inspired by the lovely Tara Sim, I am going to share ten random things about my writing...

1. In between fiction projects, I focus on poetry. I think of it as a sorbet between courses. I truly believe my poetry makes my fiction better. Recently, I have been using the poem-a-day prompts from Poetic Asides to help me jumpstart my muse.

2. I dream of writing a series for kids, and I have the first manuscript already written. It is called Via & Fia, inspired by my best friend's two daughters, Olivia and Sophia.

3. I go through phases with writing locations. I wrote most of my last completed manuscript sitting on my bed, but I did almost all of the revision work in my husband's office at the intern's desk. I also write in a recliner a lot, and I wrote one whole book at a desk in my kitchen.

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4. People buy me journals and I love journals. But I don't do a lot of longhand writing. My hand cramps really quickly. I do usually write poetry by hand. I do that during sermons pretty often, and I like having a journal in my purse at all times. My journals are full of everything from poems to prayers to scenes for whatever book I'm working on.


5.  Most of my fiction somehow involves poetry. The last book relied heavily on Edna St. Vincent Millay and the book before that wrapped around "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" (Emily Dickinson).

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6. I have one manuscript that includes a dark brown cocker spaniel named Steven Tyler. In my dreams, someone tells him about the book and he laughs and I get to meet him.

7. When I finish a book-length project, it takes me a while to recover. I get to the point I am sure I will never have another idea and never feel passionate enough to start a new story. And then I hear a voice in my head and I have to write it down and before I know it, I am deeply engrossed in another project and feeling all alive and happy again.

8. I have a concept I want to use for a grown-up novel. I have a lot of the details worked out in my head but the very idea of writing something for adults makes me short of breath. For now, it will wait. I have details but no character talking in my head to give it voice. Once a character speaks, I will be able to work through the fear.

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9.  I struggle with what to read when I am writing. I can't help but be influenced by whatever I am taking in, so I like it to be far away from what I am writing. I read poetry while writing fiction. I will read nonfiction work related to my story's theme or details. I will read fantasy novels and mysteries... whatever is different. 

10. I also struggle with reading while revising and editing. I find myself taking the books apart instead of enjoying them. This last time, I cured that by reading Mercedes Lackey. Her stories are so far from what I write, it is much easier to disappear into them.

It had been a while since I did a list post. They are always fun. Anything else you'd like to know 10 things about?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Horse Dreams on Middle Places



I ride horses when I’m sleeping…

Horseback riding is one of those things I always wanted to do but never could. As a little girl, my best friend would get off our bus at a horse farm and take vaulting lessons once a week. I watched longingly from the window as she walked toward the barns. Sometimes I went with her and sat to the side, watching but never allowed to participate. My family couldn’t afford for me to ride horses. Once, my friend’s family took me with them on a trail ride at the YMCA and it is one of my favorite memories in the world.

When I think of happiness and freedom, I think of riding a horse.

When we first moved to Tupelo, we were renters, on the lookout for a home to buy. I fell in love with a specific house that I drove past daily. It was out of our price range, but I couldn’t shake my need for it.

Why did I love that house so much?

It backed up to a horse farm.

Click here to continue reading on Middle Places

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Slow



I wake up slow, dreams lingering, whether good 
or dark or strange, they hold 
my arms and whisper. I wake up slow 
and stumble through routine, because routine 
is another kind of medication for me, 
an antidepressant that doesn’t come inside 
orange bottles. I have to want it. 

Breakfast. Meds. Reading something spiritual and then 
there is coffee and the kids are gone to school and the house 
is quiet for a while. I am slow though - 
slow to get started. 

Dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher, and the coffee 
drips into the cup and 
should I pack boxes or work on a project? 
I have an essay due and the floor needs to be mopped. 
Again. 

Sisyphus. 
Me. 
Up the hill of the day until 
the school bell rings and the kids come home, 
and I am tense, trying to balance one son’s moods and 
the other’s exuberance with my own 
exposed nerves, no pills entirely shielding 
me from this. 

I ride the wave, 
and the black water swirls 
so slow, 
no hurricane today, 
just a bathtub draining. 

Back down the hill, I am Sisyphus, 
until the sun sets and the clock blinks an okay time 
to sleep. 

I fall into the fresh cleaned sheets 
and vivid dreams... 

fall slow.

HT


I'm needing a jumpstart and a poet friend, Shaindel, mentioned these Poem-A-Day prompts for April. This one was to write a poem about an adjective.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Currently: A Bright Cold Day

Current Books: I read Love Letters to the Dead this week, and it was so good. So. So. So. Good. I'm having a lot of trouble focusing on reading lately, for various reasons, so I keep starting books and abandoning them. This is out of the ordinary for me, and I hope it goes away soon. I am reading Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith and listening to the audio of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm hooked on both, so I should be able to focus and finish them.

Current Playlist: Audio books and podcasts. I started listening to the Happier podcast and love it. I just wish I could figure out why the podcast app cuts off the ends of most of the podcasts I download.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Binge-watching 30 Rock while doing laundry and computer work.

Current Colors: Dark teal and orange

Current Food: Ben & Jerry's strawberry cheesecake ice cream

Current Drink: Coffee with dulce de leche creamer

Current Favorite Favorite: It was a long weekend full of heavy stuff, and my sweet kitty, The Doctor, seemed to sense that and cuddled with me a lot. So he is my favorite favorite right now.

Current Wishlist: New clothes for spring

Current Needs: Renovations on my house to be complete so our realtor can take photos and get it on the market

Current Triumph: I came through the hard weekend without totally losing it, so I call that a win.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Medication side effects

Current Indulgence: I am about to make a cup of coffee and sit with a book for a little while.

Current Mood: I feel good today. :)

Current Outfit: My 1984 sweatshirt from Out of Print Clothing, dark jeans, sneakers, and bookworm Jamberry wraps on my nails

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He has been painting and doing yard work non-stop to get this house ready to sale.

Current Quote: “My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.” ― Maggie Stiefvater

Current Photo:




Title taken from: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” -George Orwell, 1984

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Boat is Shrinking



I shared a bit about mental illness over on Middle Places earlier this week. It has been on my mind a lot lately for so many reasons. Some of those reasons were discussed in the previous post (writing mental illness authentically in fiction) and some aren't mine to share. But one of those reasons is myself and my medication. Knowing when a medication has stopped working, or is not working as well, can be difficult.

You mean it's not as simple as finding a med that works and then taking it everyday and TA DA! All better?

Right.

I think of my medication as a boat.

Depression, in my life, is a raging river. It will drown me if I let it. Most people have emotional rivers, and sometimes those rivers rage. Sometimes they are calm. My river is forever in the rapids.

A medication that works is a boat. It doesn't take me off the river, but it lets me live my life. I can still feel the rhythm of the water underneath me.

A good medication isn't a big boat. We aren't talking a cruise ship, where I sip margaritas and read and everything is rainbows and chocolates on my pillow. That isn't reality. I need a boat big enough to protect me but small enough that I am still connected to myself.

A medication that isn't working as well becomes a life raft. I'm not drowning, but I am a little too close to those rapids for my mental health to remain stable. I have to hold on tight and be alert.

If I act then... talk to my doctor, take care of myself, etc... I can climb back into the bigger boat. If I don't act... if I try to ignore my situation, I will find my life raft shrinking. Eventually, I am bobbing down the river in a life vest, trying to keep my head above water.

Lately, I've noticed my boat shrinking. It's not quite down to a life raft yet. I'm in a canoe maybe. I'm gripping my oar and trusting other people to paddle with me.

There are all sorts of boats. All sorts of treatments. The same options don't work for everyone and they don't work forever.

I was just thinking of all of this and thought I would share. I got such a positive response when I wrote about mental illness before. Who knows... maybe someone will read this and realize they are drowning.

If that is you, please ask for help. Reach out, friend. Let someone pull you into the boat.

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