It’s been a while since I did a Manic Monday post, so I thought I’d pop on and give you the rundown of what’s going on in my world. Actually, to be honest, I was inspired to write this post so I could post the photo of the flower bud on the left. I saw it, and it spoke to me on a very deep level, one of those visible, spiritual sparks that just made me sit in silent wonder. Whatever it takes to get me here, right?
So that beautiful blossom you see here? We all know what’s just on the other side of surrender. Blossoming, beauty, transformation. The same is true for us, if we trust the process. This week, can you loosen your grip and let go enough to begin the transformation. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Even just a small loosening will allow your petals to unfurl. Blossom today, right where you are planted.
And now, on to the rest of our show.
Bookshelf: I always have multiple books going, usually a few different types. I can only read one novel at a time, and at this point that novel is The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for years. Not sure why. But, last week, when I was going remote camping, I needed something light and okay to get wet, so I decided that was the book. I’m loving it, but I’ve always loved Ann Patchett. (If you haven’t read State of Wonder, go get it and dive in. So amazing.) I am also just starting Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, which I picked up at at Dove & Hudson used books in Albany recently. It had been on my Amazon Wish List for years. Now it’s on my nightstand. I’ve become a big fan of memoir in the past couple of years. I can’t imagine I’ll ever write one, but I’m intrigued by how others do.
Soundtrack: I haven’t been listening to a ton of music lately, but when I do it’s often the new Taylor Swift album, Folklore. It’s a beautiful album. Even if you’re not typically a Swiftie, it’s worth checking out. I also tend to listen to a lot of spiritual music that verges on weird. Okay, it’s straight up weird. Wahe Guru by White Sun is one of my current favorites. I find it so soothing. Sometimes I just tell Alexa to play it while I’m making the bed or getting dressed. Calms my nerves. Now, what I AM listening to regularly, are my latest Audible selections. I just finished I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou — and read by Maya Angelou. Powerful, poetic, painful. If you have never read this book, I highly recommend listening to Maya tell her story. I’m following that up with Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest. Another beautiful book, one I wish I would have written. As the title suggests, it’s about being present in our own lives in a very God-centered way. I may buy the hard copy after I finish the audio version.
Viewfinder: So much beauty out there in the world, despite the challenges we all face, individually and collectively, these days. I cannot get enough of the Rose of Sharon in my backyard and the birds and bees flying around and entertaining me on a full-time basis. Here are a couple of shots from the yard:
Menu: Lots of fresh produce this time of year, so that means lots of good meals, some cooked over a campfire. (A special kind of awesome.) Just yesterday I made Giambotta, which is the Italian version of Ratatouille, a vegetable stew chock full of summer goodness: eggplant, zucchini, green beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and garlic, of course. Oh and lots of fresh basil torn up and thrown in at the last minute. You can serve it over crusty bread, over rice or couscous, or over pasta, as was our preference (big surprise). Here’s a photo of the end result:
GPS: We did not get to do a family vacation this year due to COVID, so that was a great disappointment, but I was lucky enough to be able to catch a few days of mother-daughter camping with Chiara up in the Adirondack Mountains. We spent one day at Pyramid Life Center before heading to a remote camp site nearby. What makes it remote? We have to bring all our gear in by canoe and kayak. We paddle everything across the lake, firewood included, and set up camp in a beautiful little spot where we can listen to the loons as we sleep in our tent at night, float around in crystal clear water, read as we swing in a travel hammock or sit by the fire, and generally forget the real world. There is zero cell service, which is a beautiful thing. And I get to spend quality time with my daughter and another mom-daughter duo.
Datebook: Some good news on the datebook front. Finally after months of quarantine and social distancing. The retreat I’m leading at Pyramid Life Center in September is ON. I have nine people signed up so far. Room for about 10 more while maintaining social distance requirements. Stillpoint: Creating Calm amid the Chaos will be offered Sept. 11-13 at the always beautiful Pyramid Life Center. It will be semi-silent (silent breakfasts and evenings after closing talks). There will be an opportunity for kayaking, hiking, collaging, journaling, praying, talking, and, above all, resting and renewing. The cost is only $150 and that includes the retreat, rustic accommodations, and all meals, all in a socially distanced setting. Below is a photo from my recent visit to Pyramid and one from a previous retreat. Sign up HERE if you’re interested (just scroll down in the dropdown until you see Stillpoint), or shoot me an email if you have additional questions.