on the occasion of my 100th post

There’s a lot to read on the world wide web and so little time to read it. So thanks!

The 100th post is a lot of pressure.

I feel like there should be cake. Picaken to be exact.

(This one was a blueberry pie encased in lemon cake. The Queen of Desserts.)

Or maybe there should be a present under your seat . . . go ahead. Look. ūüôā

How about a picture of my cat? Who could apparently be making me crazy??? (DO NOT click that link if you love your cat. Don’t. Don’t do it. But if you must, bookmark it and get right back here.) Inside joke for those who chose to read: So now the new question is Crazy Cat Lady: which came first the crazy or the cat? Also, like any of us needed one more thing to worry about. Or to add fuel to the cat-haters’ fire.

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Apparently, she’s into reading now.

But seriously, thank you for reading and for coming back to this piece of cyberspace again and again. There’s a lot to read on the world wide web and so little time to read it. So thanks! I appreciate every read, every like, every comment (well, except spam and the few hater comments I’ve received), every share.

I started this blog three and a half years ago. (Don’t do the math. I am definitely an inconsistent blogger). “Addiction, recovery and faith” is where this piece of writing began. You can read about that here.

Every now and then though, I find that I need to write something different. Because that’s heavy stuff.

Besides you all seem to like it when I write other things . . . ironically, my most-read post of all time is about skipping school to go to the Super Bowl parade . .  . you know everybody loves a rebel.

Anyway, I’ll get back to the heavy stuff, but I do like variety. And joy. Joy is good. I hope that readers who come looking for encouragement in their battle with addiction — whether it’s their’s personally or a loved one’s — see that it’s possible to have joy again. Because in the middle of it, everything seems so hopeless.

So tonight, if you are willing to play along, and in honor of Throwback Thursday (how convenient is that?), please choose one of the posts below to visit.

Thank you!

most read posts about addiction

there’s something I have to tell you

most read post about recovery

a note from Dave

most read post about faith

when I fear I have lost my flavor

most read post of all time

12 great things you learn when you skip school to go to a Super Bowl Parade

* * * * *

Thanks for reading!

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17 things I say to my kids that I really should say to myself

If anyone anywhere very desperately needed to take her own advice, it would be me.

If anyone anywhere very desperately needed to take her own advice, it would be me.

Things I say to my kids hourly, daily, and every so often:

1.  You need to be drinking water ALL the time!

2.  Get off the internet and do something productive.

3.  Eat some protein.

4.  What you really need to do is get ready the night before.

5.  Put that back where you got it.

6.  Be diligent.

7. Make good choices.

8. ¬†Stop saying negative things about yourself, you’re going to end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy.

9.  You can do this.

10. ¬†You don’t have to be the best. Just do your best and let it be what it is.

I talk a good game. Don’t you wish you were one of my kids?

* * * * *

It’s amazing how when you ask God to open up your eyes to where you’re missing the mark, He shows you.

Sometimes the answer comes like a punch in the gut. Sometimes, it’s an echo. Your own words coming back to you.

You can do this, I hear myself say . . .

11.  Focus.

12.  Do your best with what you have.

13. ¬†God gave you a gift — use it.

14.  Quit comparing.

15. ¬†Don’t be so afraid of rejection.

16. ¬†Keep at it and don’t quit.

* * * * *

There are seasons . . .

. . . you stick to it and see change. You master the piece through practice. You labor over tedious assignments to get an A. You dribble incessantly in every spare minute and make the team.

And then there are seasons . . .

When you do all the things. Practically killing yourself to get there. And the promotion doesn’t happen. The part goes to someone else. The ref makes bad calls and you are defeated.

There are people — I used to be one of them¬†— who thrive in that spot. ¬†Don’t tell me I can’t because it will only make me work harder.

But as I dispense these true true phrases to my kids, I realize a thing about myself. Because I’ve seen it not happen like it should too many times. Cynical. I am cynical.

Because there are places where men’s voices are heard over¬†women’s. Where tall dancers are cast and short ones aren’t. Where popularity wins over goodness. Where bankruptcy gets a pass and paying off debt takes decades. Where good suffers and evil is rewarded.

Yes, bad happens. Yes, the bad guys sometimes win. Yes, it isn’t fair.

But it doesn’t mean you’re a loser, or that you don’t have talent, or that you’re not worth listening to. Not in any way. And maybe that’s the most important thing I really should say to myself:

17. Tell yourself the truth. Over and over. Whenever lies begin to fill your head, tell them the Truth.

* * * * *
1500 size Live the Season

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P.S. That’s my mom pep talk. I”ll leave the rest to this guy . . .

 

Michael Jordan

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Also, if you click on it, you can watch the commercial.

beginning again and again

“In dishwashing, I approach the moral realm; there are days when it seems a miracle to be able to make dirty things clean.” — Kathleen Norris

This is the third of three posts on books that have inspired me in this season of my life. Grab your coffee, read the post, and then go check out one of Kathleen Norris’s books.¬†(There are two authors named Kathleen Norris — this one is an essayist and poet.)¬†

* * * * *

Writers on writing and the writer’s all life seem to eventually get around to the mundane aspects of keeping house.

I think because it’s the housekeeping that gets most in the way of writing . . .

but I bet Kathleen Norris came up with these great lines when she was doing the chores:

“In dishwashing, I approach the moral realm;
there are days when it seems a miracle to be able to make dirty things clean.”

“Both housework and poetry require that I pull disparate things together,
sort through the odd pieces of my life,
and try to make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Deep words for a Monday morning. And it’s about to get deeper . . .

Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life

person of faith

Sometimes, you read a book at exactly the right time and it makes a pierce-the-soul sort of impression on you. Whatever is in the writing of the story, somehow you feel like it’s yours, too.

That’s how I feel about writers like Madeleine L’Engle and¬†Kathleen Norris. ¬†They blend the writer’s life with family, housework, grief, faith, prayer and work.

Kathleen Norris is a Presbyterian who spent some time reviving from a particularly dry, discouraging season in a monastery. She describes the liturgy, prayers, and quiet in ways that express the healing combination of prayer and scripture reading and living in community.

Acedia & Me is where I started this Live the Season series for Write 31 Days. In this book, she dives further into the reasons for the seasons of discouragement and what met her there and pulled her out.

She talks about walking away from the Church and from her faith in God for a season, only to hear Him inviting her back through the kindness and love of a small-town, hymn-singing Protestant church and a bunch of monks:

However true and even beautiful this turning of times and seasons may be,

I tend to resist it as a necessary aspect of the spiritual life. Monastic writers

have always emphasized that maintaining a life of prayer means being willing

to start over, after one has acted in a sinful or destructive way. Both pride and

acedia will assert themselves, and it may appear that we are so far gone we may

as well give up and not embarrass ourselves further by pretending to be

anything but failures. It seems foolish to believe that the door is still open, that

there is always another chance. I may accept this intellectually, but I have come to

appreciate its depths only through experience. Just when I seem to have my life

in balance and imagine I can remain in this happy state forever, I lose sight of

the value of contemplation and prayer, and try to live without it. Soon enough,

once again, I am picking myself up out of the ashes.

–Kathleen Norris, Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life

This is so true and yet I wish it wasn’t. Strange that it’s so difficult to pray when things are going well. And then¬†the crash comes and we realize what we are missing and we pray until things are in balance again and then we try life on our own again. It’s a cycle, like the seasons.

Also . . . don’t you wish you could go live at a monastery for a few months? Or at least every Monday . . .

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As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.  Psalm 103:13-14

don’t give up your day job

All the work I am called to do lends itself to the art of writing if I listen and let it.

I just realized there are probably a zillion posts and articles on the internet with that title. Normally, I would check to see and tell you just how many. But it doesn’t really matter because you are reading this one for some reason, and I don’t want to waste your time with facts . . .

This is the second in my series (a book for all seasons) within a series (Live the Season) which is not in any way a blog “inception”¬†because that’s not really what that word means. Unless by “inception” you do not mean “dream within a dream” but rather “the beginning.” (And now I need to go back and watch that movie again to see if the person/people who gave it that title were actually far more brilliant than the ingenious plot . . .)

Anyway . . .

This post is about a book that has been especially inspiring for this season of my life.

Actually, maybe it IS after all an “inception” because it sparked my desire to read all sorts of autobiographies/memoirs about writing by people who write. Which I will write about later . . .

The book is Quitter by Jon Acuff and you can read all about it on Amazon.

But what it did for me was to remind me that:

A. I am my own patron of the arts.

I have no Medici family to fund my dreams. Many great artists of the Renaissance had to paint portraits of spoiled duchesses in order to have the means to paint the images in their souls. None of that analogy is in Quitter and I am no Botticelli . . . it’s just the thought that has worked for me when I begin to dream of doing nothing with my days but writing whatever and whenever I feel like it.

B. No one has time and yet everyone has time.

You have the perfect amount of time each day for the things that matter most. The key is spending time on those things. Few would boldly declare, “Today, watching television for two hours was one of the most important things I need to get done.” Yet that’s where we sometimes spend entire evenings.

The operative word in the phrase “enough time” is not time. It’s enough. And the truth you should accept is that you will probably never have “enough time to pursue your dream. But every day somebody somewhere is making magic with the less-than-enough time he has. So can you, if you stop focusing on the amount of time you have and start focusing on the amount of tasks that really matter. — Jon Acuff, Quitter

And so, instead of wallowing in the fact that I had to use all my creativity on writing for others for pay, I just went ahead and started writing the books in my heart.

Which led to blogging, because writing books was taking too long and the internet was where I went a decade ago to find help when I needed it most. I figured there were people out there like me looking for help, too. I  tested out how much I could say about addiction and recovery and life without shrinking back in fear and to put our story together in words and see if it was a story worth telling to more than a roomful of people who knew us.

I also blogged to re-find my voice — because when you are a copywriter, you write in the voices of others, for them, for their purposes and goals.

C. Embrace your day job and learn through it.

Not just copywriting, but mothering and being a wife. All the work I am called to do lends itself to the art of writing if I listen and let it.

The goal of this book is to get you to do what you love, with the life you already have. — Jon Acuff, Quitter

There’s much more, but it’s Saturday and I have a messy room to clean, a grocery list to make and a family to pay attention to. I’ve written more than enough for today. See? Learning.

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a book for all seasons and an invitation to share

I really want to squeeze in a little chat about books. And I’m hoping you’ll join me!

It’s the weekend! Date with husband, coat shopping with child, football game, two soccer games, a birthday party to go to, a baby shower for a friend, church . . . so much to do!

But I really want to squeeze in a little chat about books. And I’m hoping you’ll join me!

I’m going to write a little post each day this weekend about a book that is really helping me live this season of my life more fully — all of them deeply influential for me right now.

And I would love to hear from you about books that are helping you Live the Season you are in, too.

You’re invited¬†to join¬†in the comments below with:

  • the name of the book and author
  • what season you’re living
  • what you love about the book/why you’d recommend it

*** Bloggers: If you are joining me by writing about your Live the Season book or books on your own blog, be sure to put a link to your post in the comments with a few sentences of preview. I can’t wait to read your posts! And if you don’t mind mentioning my post with a link, that would be nice, too.

I’m starting with an immensely practical book. The sort with lists and stuff like that.

Saturday, I’ll write about a book that inspires me in my work.

And Sunday, I’ll focus on a more spiritual book.

So here goes:

an immensely practical book that is saving my sanity at home:

The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

I am super envious of people who are both creative and organized.

I have tried every housecleaning system under the sun and have come to the conclusion that the art of housekeeping is definitely personality driven.

And those of us without a sincere love of order, who could care less about piles as long as they’re hidden, who ALWAYS have to shut AT LEAST one door when there are visitors have a considerable amount of trouble learning good housekeeping skills from people who are naturally offended by mess . . . at least I do.

I want a house clean enough that I’m not embarrassed, but lax enough that my family feels¬†comfortable. Also, I hate daily maintenance. So¬†The House that Cleans Itself¬†— which was given to me for Christmas by my mother a few years ago —¬†was written just for me.

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One of our two ridiculous cats. Who sprawls on everything and impedes all productivity.

The author, Mindy Starns Clark, gets me. And my husband will concur that this was the best gift he’s ever received from my mother — next to me that is.

I think she’s so good at helping me fix the mess in my home because she really thinks like I do. She is a writer, and here’s a quote:

Problem: You have a hard time remembering to pause, think, and do when it comes to the actions of daily life. Your brain is usually quite busy working on something unrelated to your body, so many of your physical actions are done without conscious thought. For example, when you’re brushing your teeth, chances are you are also designing a living room, plotting a novel, or planting a garden — in your head at least.

Also, she is a sage . . . and she reads my mind without even knowing me at all:

Problem: You are a perfectionist, or similarly, you are an all-or-nothing cleaner. You’re not going to clean at all unless you can do it right and/or do it completely. The problem is that life doesn’t often allow the luxury of that much uninterrupted time.

Pegged.

Perfectionists and all-or-nothingers can absolutely paralyze themselves, preferring complete inaction to doing something imperfectly or incompletely. Consequently, they miss out on a lot of life because they avoid having people come to their homes except when their places are perfectly clean.

Ouch!

This should be the goal of every perfectionist: to not need to be perfect. This should be the goal of every all-or-nothinger: to not have to finish everything. Ask God to begin to work such a change in you.

And she doesn’t just leave you there, she gives you step by step instructions on how to get your house in order. It’s do-able and maintainable — even for this crazy creative. ¬†My whole family loves the system. But in writing this post, I realized we need a refresher.

Who wants to clean when there’s so much writing to be done? Not me.

So what about you, friend? What practical book is helping you Live the Season?

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a season of uncertainty and certainty

I wrote so many thoughts over the weekend and not one of them is ready for print. Not even on the internet.

I did, however, have a breakthrough last night when I realized the post I had written was the very thing I needed for something else but was definitely not the right thing to post here.

Sometimes, I wish I had written things for people to read when I was so sure, so certain of equations and sums.

If I am this sort of wife then, if I am this sort of mom then, if I am this sort of worker then . . .

But I’m very glad I didn’t. Because now, as much as I may like to think a thing should be this way, or this effort should produce this result, I know¬†outcomes are not always up to me.

Perhaps that is the real crisis of mid-life.

Suddenly, the things you thought were real and true and guaranteed do not turn out as you expected.

The marriage you thought was unbreakable is broken. The effort you put in seems wasted. Children grow up and make their own choices in spite of (and sometimes to spite) you.

I am more reluctant now to open my mouth with certainty. Because what will come of it all is not yet known.

Because the important of yesterday fades as the walk becomes more by faith less by sight. Where I once thought I had a measure of control, I have discovered I have none at all. And the great mystery to me is that the less I am sure of myself, the more I am sure of God.

Because if you ask me if I believe people can change, I will say yes without a shade of doubt.

Ask me if there is hope in the worst of circumstances, and I will say always and never give up.

Ask me if the broken can be restored, and I will say nothing is so broken it cannot be mended.

Ask me how to parent a child, and I will say pray always without ceasing.

Ask me how to keep a marriage together, and I will say forgive.

Most things I write need to sit a while . . . and then filter through life and be worked out . . .

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a solitary space

So here I sit, in the hotel bathroom. In silence at last. Hearing my thoughts. Reflecting . . . . I want to live my season of noise and be fully awake to it.

Well, it happened. Ten days in to the challenge to post every day and I hit a wall.

Which I choose to believe means I am human. And that important things demanded my all the last two days. And that I’m too old to stay up after midnight more than a night or two in a row. And that this Howard Johnson’s hotel room is entirely uninspiring. And I can’t seem to block out the ESPN the boys are watching.

I had ALL DAY . . . my husband drove across the state, and I sat and wrote a piece for work. We stopped at a Starbucks and I sent it off and we got back in the car and drove some more.

I must have started ten different blog posts between Ellensburg and Spokane. At least.

Every one of them put me to sleep. Or maybe it was the culmination of ridiculously late nights and early mornings colliding with delicious, warm, feet-up-on-the-dashboard, car sunshine.

Or the radio . . . I just can’t tune out Taylor Swift¬†to write. (Unless I’m already deep in creative thought. Then I can drive for miles and never notice I’ve been listening to the sports station Dave¬†left on.)

When I’m home alone, I write in silence. No movies. No music. Nothing. I can’t think in notes and lyrics when other words and tunes¬†compete for space in my head.

¬†. . . there aren’t many hours of silence, are there?¬†

The older the kids get, the later they go to bed. Sometimes, I am actually the first to bed at night. After all the years of being the one to tuck in, I love when the boys tuck me into bed and parade by to give me a good night kiss . . .

So here I sit, in the hotel bathroom. In silence at last. Hearing my thoughts. Reflecting on a lovely evening of dinner before the show with our college girl and then front row seats to delightful comedic musical theatre, watching her dance and sing. It was a marvelous opening night for The Drowsy Chaperone with hundreds of highly entertained parents, alumni, students and guests.

She inspires me, that one.

I think about the courage it takes to audition, which she’s probably done 50 times in the last nine years. And I think about how I hold my writing close so many times and am fearful of risks.

And I think about the writers who inspired me to pursue my dreams of writing and the commitment it takes to do it on top of all the other things they have to do like work and live and raise children and be married and have friends and do things, and I respect them all the more for their years of labor and for getting it out there into the daunting world already so full of words.

Another late night, then.

Only quickly as I can (though not quite twenty minutes)¬†because I can’t be so tired anymore. I want to live in my season of noise and be fully awake to it. Because one day the quiet will not be a precious commodity and I refuse to add regrets.

Here’s to hitting that publish button again —

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a season of fragments

Creating meaning from scattered moments, half hours, and hours takes strength and purpose and vision. It’s too, too easy to just languish in the not enough time to do.

Our days are often fragments:

Unfinished sentences.

Unfinished conversations.

Unfinished laundry.

Unfinished books read and written.

Here a little, there a little, line upon line.*

Pieces of time connected by strands of musts, shoulds, and ought to’s.

Creating meaning from scattered moments, half hours, and hours takes strength and purpose and vision. It’s too, too easy to just languish in the not enough time to do.

I’m time-challenged.

Always ten, fifteen, thirty minutes late. I stretch the time to fit my need, or want.

Projects can span days, months, years. Put away for seasons or until seasons, finishing is elusive.

But lately, I’ve been challenged.

Challenged to love and really live in the pieces of time I would normally pass, believing them too small:

15 minutes of contemplative prayer,

1 hour of power to get jobs done,** and

20 minutes to write.

To appreciate the fragments and to piece them together.

To use what I have wisely and not ask for more.

* * * * *

My sister, Tamara Rice, is a wonderful writer in a season of work on other writers’ words. She’s been an editor for almost 20 years and these days, is doing it full time while being mom and wife and friend and sister.

We both took time this summer to do as many things with our kids as possible. We are counting summers with children at home now. And there aren’t as many as we’d like. Our babies are twelve years old.

Tamara wrote a piece in a fragment of time at the end of the summer, and I asked if I could share it here while I’m talking about Live the Season. Here’s an excerpt:

Because I’ve Got 20 Minutes …

I neglect my writing in the summer months.

Since my children got out of school 10 weeks ago I have posted precisely four times, and two of them should barely count as blog posts, since one was a photograph with a single sentence and the other was a 200-word writing exercise.

Maybe this shouldn’t count either.

You see, I have set my alarm for 20 minutes‚ÄĒyes, exactly 20‚ÄĒand have promised my daughter that when my alarm goes off I will hit publish and get back to our day, because she is more important than filling the blogosphere with more words and opinions or even stories and feelings.

* * * * * *

Read the rest of my sister’s wonderful post over on her blog, Hopefully Known. Yes, written completely in 20 minutes. While you’re there, check out some of her other writing. She’s amazing.

Making the most of our time, as fragmented as it is, brings satisfaction.

I want to be content with pieces.

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*Isaiah 28:13

**that’s for another post

 

a season of good enough

if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

There is this thing I struggle with, and maybe you do, too.

I hit a roadblock of disappointment, and then I am faced with a choice. I can either climb out of discouragement, embrace what is and let go of what is not. Or, choose to stay and wallow in the what is not until it hardens around me and I am stuck.

I’m not talking about grief. I mean disappointment. Maybe frustration. Something that slows me to a grinding halt.

I’m realizing how much of an all or nothing sort of person I am. If I can’t do it well, or the way I envision it, well then, I’d rather not do it.

I wrestle with this all the time.

In my yard.

In my house.

On my desk.

In conversations.

With photo albums.

With Exercise.

With relationships.

With writing.

Volunteering at school.

Praying.

It’s a heavy expectation I put on myself.¬†

And if you’re like me, you really don’t have time to do it¬†perfectly. Sometimes not even decently.

Sometimes, I have to skip the gourmet, make it from scratch dinners I love to prepare because in order to be able to eat together tonight, dinner has to be done in 20 minutes.

I need to master the art of making the most of minutes. And I don’t mean a constant flurry of busy.

What I mean is, being content with sliding those pictures into old fashioned sleeves instead of waiting for the week of nothing that will never happen, in which I will create gorgeous scrapbooks out of 20 years of over snapping pictures.

I mean cleaning the room even if I hate the furniture.

I mean saying¬†something even if it isn’t worded exactly right.

I mean learning the discipline of¬†just writing for a half an hour. Because I don’t have six.

And then let it be, and go to bed.

What about you? What keeps you from being satisfied with good enough?

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