Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why We Want the World To End by Aspen Bassett

photo by Matt Johnson via Creative Commons

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!}

In my lifetime, I’ve seen countless videos, news reports, TV shows, and movies critiquing what’s wrong in our world. I’ve read blogs, books, newspapers, and Sunday comics blaming others or even ourselves for things that haven’t even happened yet. Or for things that can’t be proven. I’m twenty three years old and I’ve been told the world is going to end within the year so many times it’s become a joke. Heck, my family hosted a party for the apocalypse in 2012. Obviously, we were stood up. I would say thankfully but I know too many people who don’t agree. The world can’t get better, they say, just get it over with already.

Why do we want the world to end? Because it’s bad? Because corruption has leaked into every home? No. Because we’ve stopped loving each other. The world is in a depression and I don’t just mean financially. Let’s look at all the signs of chronic depression shall we?

According to HelpGuide.org, a non-profit guide to mental health and well-being, there are around six possible tells to see if a person is going through chronic depression and every single one of them applies to us as a nation, possibly as a world.

1. “You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult."

There are eleven screens in my family’s living room alone on an average day. There are four of us in the house. Everyone I know owns a smart phone and has it within arm’s reach at all times. Is it for emergencies? Yes. But not the 911 calls we all pretend it’s for. These screens save us, distract us from the national scale depression. We don’t want to think about the world or how hard it would be to make a difference. We don’t want to drown in to-do lists and the must-dos of life which our ancestors had to face head on. Scientists actually have a name for it. Screen Addiction. It’s today’s drug of choice and it’s completely FDA approved. Why deal with life when you can just turn on the TV and skim through Pinterest? Seriously, I’m asking as an addict. But I know there are other addictions out there too. Alcohol, drugs, coffee, pills, oh how the list goes on. They’re Band-Aids for a problem much bigger than the highest dose of your preferred poison. Because life is hard and most people I’ve met are aware that it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s just a job. It’s just a family reunion. It’s just a date. So why is everything so difficult to us?

2. “You feel hopeless or helpless.”


Not feeling in control of your life is the root cause of stress. Superheroes are really big in our literary world right now. Why do you think that is? Personally, I think there’s a lot of reasons but the biggest one is that superheroes have control. They insist on it. They stand on rooftops with bloodied knees and say “I have hope and I can help.” That’s nice to see after a long day of “I can’t do this” and “where would I even start?” Sometimes it’s not about going to the theater and watching a cute boy in tights defeat the bad guy with his puppy dog eyes. It’s about having something to believe in, something to remind us as a country, no as a world, that people can make a difference. Maybe you identify with the caped ones and wish “if only I had the power to help those around me.” Or maybe, at times much like myself, you identify with the ones on the ground looking up with soot on their cheeks and fear in their eyes because they need an extra hand. Perhaps, in a way, we as a nation crave superheroes because we want that look of hope back in our mirrors. We want to remember what it’s like to believe in something strong enough to hold our fears and sadness.

3. “You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.”

Have you ever been on Facebook and it seems like every post is a negative commentary on some random thing that happened? And then everyone gets in this argument about whether or not it was really negative, if they had a point, or if they just need to shut up and stop listening to sad music all the time? And you’re innocently scrolling down the website thinking “90% of you would never have said that in person.” Or maybe you watch this awesome YouTube video about some gifted singer and then you scroll down and everyone’s bashing her because her teeth weren’t straight? I know so many people who are good but when they get on the Internet, they almost all change personalities. Take me for example. I have to watch myself when I’m online because there’s no repercussions if I written-ly attack the people I don’t agree with. But it’s not just the negative comments on twitter or whatever else is out there that depressed people have a hard time controlling. It’s the thoughts inside one’s mind. Can you think of anything or anyone that, as soon as the idea crosses your mind, you’re bitter? That’s it, you think, it’s people like that that’s why the world is ending. I personally don’t know anyone who can confidently say “There’s no soul I can’t love.” Remember, tolerate and love are two very different words.

4. “You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating.”

Yay! That’s an easy one for America! In the top three of the most obese countries. Last I checked anyway but that was before we made such a fuss about twinkies. Deepak Chopra wrote a book called What Are You Hungry For which talks about why we can’t control our cravings. Why I prefer to over eat rather than stop when I feel comfortable or deal with the things I have to do after lunch. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. I’m too busy eating fries and Pinteresting to actually read it. The hit TV show Supernatural had a seasonal villain who manipulated our food in order to turn us into the perfect herd. I personally don’t think they were too far off from the truth. But the sad fact stands that all the food manipulation and corruption is out there in the open. People know. They just don’t care. Some food industries take out the nutrients in their products so our bodies will insist we eat more in order to get the required amount. This is a fact yet I still buy their products.

5. “You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual.”


Is it just me or are we in a lot of wars right now? And I’m not just talking overseas. I’m talking right here at home. In the schools and movie theaters and everywhere else that people shoot or attack or go crazy. People yell and scream at each other and maybe you don’t see it all the time but it’s there and it’s in your town. I know, there are times when I tell myself I can be patient, I can shrug it off because it’s not a big deal and logically I know it’s nothing worth making a fuss over but something inside me feels like the camel’s back the moment it snaps. Suddenly, I’m struggling to control my voice, my tears are already on high, and we’re bashing pet peeves like gladiators to the death.

Then there’s the last but certainly not the least tell of chronic depression. The big ol’ number six.

6. “You have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case.)”

 Okay, maybe the big literary wave of post-apocalyptic literature isn’t a subconscious plea for the end of the world. Maybe there aren’t people out there warning us that if we don’t change our ways, the sun will eat us up. But would you turn your head if your friend had suicidal thoughts? Are we not, as a nation and possibly a world, crying out for help? Do we not fear that our future holds only sun burns and empty wells, too many people and not enough bees? The world could end. That I believe. But if it does it will be by its own hand.

If a person has suicidal thoughts, they’re encouraged to reach out for help both to those who love them and a professional. If a world is feeling suicidal, to whom can it turn? Who loves the world unconditionally?

And that, my friend, is the clincher. Because the world is a combination of every single being within it. Every soul, body, and mistake. Yet we are plagued with racism, sexism and so many other kinds of -isms that people just started hyphenating them. The problem isn’t racism because we’re all one race. It’s not sexism because it’s not just one gender’s problem. It’s all conditional-ism because it’s about people who refuse to love until certain conditions have been met. It’s about seeing the world as one being that hates itself, can’t see any point to go on, and doesn’t have anyone to turn to for help. It’s about seeing the people around us as parts of the same being, who need hope and can give it back.

I love the parenthesis in the last sign of depression. “Seek help immediately if this is the case.” I do believe the world is seeking help. It’s going inward. It’s asking us. Alone, we cannot do it. Together, it could be as easy as breathing. I guess there’s only one way to know for sure. Love the people around you and allow yourself to become aware of any changes. Does your personal world become healthier? Like an organ regaining strength? It did to me. Either way, thank you for reading, and I love you.



Aspen Bassett is a writer who works as a librarian on her spare time. She's been published in multiple anthologies including Oomph: A Little Super Goes A Long Way, Inaccurate Realities: Time Travel, and Inaccurate Realities: Superpowers. Follow her on her website aspenbassett.com to see how to turn your life into a hero's quest.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Amazon Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015

photo by Jonas Tana via Creative Commons

I love reading physical books -- I love the feel of the covers against my palms, the heft of the book, the smell of the pages. But when I am breastfeeding, I find myself with a lot of down time where I'd like to read, but holding a physical book is just clunky. Enter Amazon Kindle + their apps wonderful (free!) apps. I read so. many. books during my breastfeeding seasons thanks to them!

I also value a good deal. I have a serious problem paying $9.99 for a digital book that I won't be able to resell or give away when I'm done with it. But price those puppies at $2.99 or less and I'm sold. And because I've been spending so much time combing the internets for Kindle deals, I thought I'd aggregate some of my findings for you here on the blog, irregularly and as I can, because breastfeeding.

I haven't read all these, but they are all books that I really want to read and that the reviews speak highly of, and most of them are temporarily marked down from higher prices (a few are permanently cheapie cheap cheap). All prices are in USD. Many of these titles are free for Kindle Unlimited members and/or are available in the Kindle Lending Library, so be sure to check for those options to save even more money.

Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089LOG2A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0089LOG2A&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=GIIXH7AP6AO2YKTK
 The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IQZB14/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005IQZB14&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=GOKT7Z4U623Y6Q4
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Price: $3.99
Genre: Memoir, Travel/Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005ZOBNOI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005ZOBNOI&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=2IHORDDKNVWQ6DUA
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Price: $2.99
Genre: Young Adult


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ANSS5K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001ANSS5K&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=D64BH3QZFXL5SVHJ
Paper Towns by John Green
Price: $3.99
Genre: Young Adult

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0027MJU00/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0027MJU00&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=LW3G5PRIDXDIY66N
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery, Thriller


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004JN1D3M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004JN1D3M&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=54VAZLJKQNZH2BTY
Price: $4.99
Genre: Humor, Memoir

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008LQ239G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008LQ239G&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=7ZDU4CWLPD6ACDRX
Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction, Short Stories

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FC2L1O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000FC2L1O&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=RAPJQGTQMEYES3KV
Outlander (Book 1) by Diana Gabaldon
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ULP98BQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00ULP98BQ&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=ITNZRUYQ3U2BEVCL
Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Comments: Game of scones! Get it? Get it? :D

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LM4EBO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009LM4EBO&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=JKTG5B4DTQABKPRA
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
Price: $1.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I've been stocking up on romantic fiction to keep my head in the zone while I write the sequel to The Light Between Us, and I've had my eye on this one for a while, but until now the price has been too high for me. This is book one in a seven book series, and the rest of the series is on sale, too.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M7C185A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00M7C185A&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=YUVBUV4ZON53SWI3
The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank
Price: $0.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I read this book and really loved it. The sex scenes were a little too graphic for my tastes, but most romance readers expect some hot sex scenes, and they didn't detract from the rest of the book for me. This is book one in a trilogy, and the other books are currently on sale at $3.99.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1477827218/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1477827218&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=K4ZFMTPWPKLQXH4O
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram
Price: $3.99
Genre: Historical/Biographical Fiction
Comments: The hard copy of this book is also on sale at the moment for $6.99, down from $14.95.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DB367IW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DB367IW&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=B7O24JRN7TX2TYQO
The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K0IRXHU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K0IRXHU&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=WBUV7MPHKVNOXPVO
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Z4FNGU2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00Z4FNGU2&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=2UU6IJ4ZAA226574
The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Romance

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0105SNQWU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0105SNQWU&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=U5ERPE3DDGPAEIMZ
The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATLA8I4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00ATLA8I4&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=NGNKFS5VAMHL6ETH
Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RZQHZGE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00RZQHZGE&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=F6F3PW5ISUR7CE2L
For Sure and Certain by Anya Monroe
Price: $3.99
Genre: YA Romance
Comments: I've been following along with indie writer Anya Monroe for a while now, and I'm smitten with her books, her Instagram, her blog. Go and read everything she has to offer, now.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0103OEBWK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0103OEBWK&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=ISCJHQ5ZE3Z62DLX
Secrets Don't Keep by Elora Ramirez
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Comments: You've met Elora here on the blog before. She is awesome, and another indie author. This is her latest book, and a new release.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013RC9L3E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B013RC9L3E&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=O4O6D3XODJ5XSWVH
Price: $4.99
Genre: Poetry
Comments: You've also met Heather before. She just released this book of poetry this week!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X06PXJE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00X06PXJE&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=6UMPZO7QPPIZ6TEU
Six Dollar Family by Stacy Barr
Price: $2.99
Genre: Personal Finance (Non-fiction)
Comments: Okay, I do not think this book is necessarily going to help anyone make six figures (and the author doesn't either, based on the book's introduction). However, I am AWFUL at budgeting/finances/planning in general. I saw this book come up under the #KindleDeals hashtag on Twitter, and after reading the excerpt and reviews I bought it because I thought it could help me. One week into implementing only one or two of Barr's suggestions and it is helping me. Good for personal finance newbies!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QMLW34M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00QMLW34M&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=MOOYJPFPNNYMEA2Y
Emotion Amplifiers by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Price: $0.00
Genre: Dictionaries & Thesauruses, Reference (Non-fiction)
Comments: I own this one, and think it's an indispensable writing tool, especially for free.



That's all I've got for now. What are you reading? Have you seen other good book deals out there? Share in the comments!

*this post contains affiliate links. thank you for supporting the blog!

Friday, August 21, 2015

because once you are Real you can’t be ugly by Teresa Robinson

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!} 

art by Teresa

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The initial response to Suffering {emotional overwhelm, betrayal, pain, delays, slander, distress, death} is Denial: personal resistance to avoid acceptance. We slam the door in its face upon arrival and deny its very existence. Then as we stand braced against that closed door, we immediately commence racking our brain for reasons to explain {blame}:
  • Why did this happen?
  • What did I do?
  • What didn’t I do?
  • Who caused this?
  • Who must pay?

Questions asked to serve as white noise in the surreal, soundless emptiness that follows the thundering noise of our life as it slams into the brick wall of suffering. We instinctively wrap our-self in the faux comfort and rationalization that our suffering is “unexpected” — that it is not that bad, that we are not as bad off as {fill-in-the-blank}.

The pounding continues within this tailspin of pretending to control the suffering as we move into Denial — as we self-medicate by increasing the passionate intensity of our questioning. Until our emotions escalate and converge — angrily demanding a plan be devised to resolve the question of:
  • How will I survive this?

Anger stands waiting on-deck, shape-shifting as visceral blame, stoic indifference and impassioned busyness. All the while mauling us from within as we isolate our-self from anyone whose presence would threaten this inner processing; secretly blaming them for abandoning us in our time of need.

Then the circular frustration of Bargaining — if-only’s and when-oh-when’s? — it rages as we enter the eye of the suffering storm within us … Shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios that somehow would have spared us from this turmoil. Bargaining with our-self, believing:
  • I need to prevent this from happening again.

Cue Hopelessness and Depression because Suffering is not something we want to accept — and yet we futilely seek a means of avoiding it. Even as we know there is nothing we can do about it; even as we desperately seek guarantees and solutions and someone to carry the blame. Suffering is part of living. There are guarantees or deals to be made.

We circle back to Denial because we desperately want safety, some sort of a powerful force field, a razor-wire fence — a boundary Suffering cannot cross.


It doesn’t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. — Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


The safety is being Real. Denial and resistance merely intensify suffering.
The reality is: bad things happen — a lot. Our {living} includes suffering and hardship in varying levels every single day.

Being Real facilitates Acceptance. The space where we can exhale, pull away from our intercourse with paranoia, and open the blinds of our heart to see the light of Truth. The space we hold for mourning the loss caused by suffering, and for love to comfort us; to be sustained with each inhale and exhale.

Let us allow suffering its place; liberating us from the loss of energy and vision. Let us allow our flailing to serve us — strengthening us as we become Real.



Teresa Robinson aka stargardener believes each day is a canvas awaiting the elements we decide have meaning. She maps her way through with torn bits of paper, words of found poetry and splashes of paint and ink; posting field notes to Right Brain Planner and on Instagram

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Blessing for Your Rebel Heart by Amanda Fall

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!} 

photos by Amanda Fall

May you feel wildly
heartpoundingly
genuinely
loved . . .
just as you are.

May you never again
diminish or debase,
soften or smother
your fiery spirit,
the unchained
roar
of you.

May you believe
your (whole) story matters,
even/especially the mucky bits,
the secrets you usually keep,
the broken pieces you try to hide.

May you believe your worthiness
does not depend on anyone or anything
other than your own
trueness,
the ringing gong you have ignored
too long, the come-to-attention
your soul is calling,
calling.

May you lose yourself
in raucous laughter,
in weep-wails
from your rebel heart,
in holy howls
of yes.

May you relax, whole-soul,
into knowing you are
radiant, through & through:
even/especially
when you feel like
a total MESS.

May you feel alive
and powerful
and free,

beautiful
worthy
loved

from the top of your head
to the tips of your toes.

Just as you are.
Here. Now.



Amanda Fall is a truth-teller, love-believer, sacred-seeker, and heart-on-her-sleever. She is the proud creator, editor, and publisher of The Phoenix Soul, a fiercely indie digital magazine and community honoring life’s grit and grace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

One More Push by Alise Chaffins

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

“One more push.”

I’d been around the birth block four previous times. I knew what those words meant. It was almost time. Almost time to hear the cries. Almost time to hold the squirming little body. Almost time to sniff the top of a baby head while pulling him close to feel that ache and release of nursing him.

But not this time. Less that 24 hours before, we found that our son had died before he was born. One more push and we would become the butt of every horrible “dead baby” joke. One more push and we would have our son, but only for a moment. One more push and we would go back to just being two. One more push and everything would change, but not in the way I had anticipated.

The doctor who was sitting at my feet was quieter than any I had experienced before. There were machines in the room, keeping watch over the process, but only for me. Only one heartbeat being monitored. No lamp warming up the area where our son would be laid. No pediatrician on call, waiting to give us an apgar score.

I took my husband’s hand, closed my eyes, and pushed. My sister placed her hand on my leg and encouraged me. My dad sat patiently by, whispering prayers as the moments slipped by.

Groans escaped my lips. They had a sense of familiarity to them, the groans of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman in transition. But they were accompanied by a foreign sound. Grief wove its way through those cries. Because I knew that this transition wasn’t from woman to mother, but from woman to the nameless person whose child precedes them in death.

I surrendered to the pain and pressure and allowed our son's body to pass from me to the world where we could hold and caress his body, but never him.

I wonder today about his own journey. His own birthing from this world to the next.

Was there Someone holding his hand as he made that journey from here to what lies beyond? Was there Someone encouraging him, whispering to him? Was there someone to let him know that it was time to surrender?

Was there Someone saying to him, "One more push"?

My faith, often smaller than a mustard seed but still holding on, says yes. It says that one day, all of us, saints and sinners alike, will hear the voice telling us, "One more push." An on that day, we will all be held.




Alise Chaffins is a wife, mother, eater of soup, and lover of Oxford commas. You can generally find her behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends and family random movie quotes. She blogs at knittingsoul.com. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

NIGHT CYCLES: Poetry for a Dark Night of the Soul {Book Release!}

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0996623809

I'm having a hard time finding words for today. Today, my book of poetry, NIGHT CYCLES, launches. Like, people are reading it. And that is both exciting and terrifying.

This is completely different from the launch of THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. While I definitely worked hard on that book and was proud of my efforts and the resulting book, it had mostly been a fun experiment. Could I write a sassy, semi-smutty romance novel? Challenge accepted, mission accomplished.

But NIGHT CYCLES? This was not a lighthearted experiment. The poems contained within this book are born out of my deepest questions, fears, hopes, and imaginings. They come from a much deeper place. And so it is much more vulnerable of a thing to give them over to readers.

The stakes are higher, because they mean more to me.
But because they mean more to me, that also makes it more exciting to have people read them.

What a complicated thing a book release can be for a writer!

Overall, though, I am mostly thrilled that the book is out at last. I wrote most of the poems that comprise NIGHT CYCLES between 2013 and 2014, when I was going through the "dark night of the soul," "a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God, like that described by Saint John of the Cross" (source). Outer and inner forces converged upon me -- lingering grief over the stillbirth of our daughter . . . my husband's new atheism . . . my own depression -- forcing me to look to the questions forming in my soul that I'd been ignoring for quite a long time. I found the faith I'd so valued crumbling in my hands.

If grief taught me anything, it's that the only way out is through, and so I plunged into the depths of my dark night. And out of that came these poems -- poems of confusion and sadness, anger and loneliness, and also poems of freedom and rebirth and mysterious hope that just won't quit.

And now, I offer them to you. During my dark night, poetry by Rilke, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Mark Nepo, and more were among the few solid comforts I could lay my hands on. They sustained me, nourished me, helped me to understand that I was not alone, that there was light coming if only I'd hold out for it.

I hope that my poems do something like that for you. I hope that they are a lifeline, a challenge, a four course meal.

I hope you enjoy them. Thank you for coming along with me on the journey of writing and releasing them. Here's an excerpt, with all the where-to-get-a-copy details below:


the wildest one

do you dare to step in-
to the vulnerable black, stripped
to the soul with human blindness –

when the full and weeping
moon steps from the shade
of a tumult of mountains –

when, in the fragrant dim,
day's tree stump transforms
into some nether-worldly other –

when time's skin is thin and you are
bared – when there is nothing
between you and the Wildest One

whose name is your own?



Here are The Details!
Want to get your own copy of NIGHT CYCLES? Here's all the info:

Paperback:
  • Amazon*
  • Signed copies
  • Createspace (for readers outside the USA -- this offers the most reasonable shipping rates on paperback copies)
  • You can also request NIGHT CYCLES at your local library and bookshop. A great way to support local businesses!
Ebook:
 *When you purchase the paperback on Amazon, you get the Kindle edition for free!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Introducing THE BOOK OF LAZARUS {Free on Kindle!}

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01288WWKC

I'm not sure that I've talked about it much, but I majored in creative writing in college. And graduated cum laude, with honors, thankyouverymuch.

But when I graduated, I (and probably most of the people who knew me) wondered what the heck I was going to do with a liberal arts degree in that subject. I thought I wasn't likely very good, so what was the point in trying to write, right? So I pushed writing to the side and tried to pursue more practical avenues.

Except here I am, lots more years later than I feel comfortable with, writing. Trying to make a career of it. Finding myself more and more on the page -- of my own words, and of others'. It's kind of awesome. Writing is in my blood. I couldn't get rid of it, even when I tried.

And this week, I made a discovery that is so exciting to me -- I found one of the short stories I wrote during my college days.

You see, I made zero effort to hang onto any of the things I wrote before 2005. I thought it didn't matter.

Until it did, until I came back to writing again and again. Until I wished that I'd saved some things.

But this week -- I found one of them. Accidentally saved, but saved nonetheless. It is my favorite piece of writing from the work I did in college. Safe.

Whew.

SO, all that to say . . . I love this short story, and I've published it for Kindle. It's usually $0.99 (because Amazon won't let me make it perpetually free), but today through Monday, July 27, it is FREE. It's a funny story about the resurrection of Lazarus, and I'd love love love for you to check it out.  Here's a peek (you can also download this same preview on Goodreads, here):


The Book of Lazarus

a short story


I always thought that when you died, that was the end, fine, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred didrachmas. I was wrong.
I'm not talking about the afterlife, either. I've learned -- from very reliable sources, I might add – that there is something after we all die, but that's not the issue. The issue is that I always figured that once you die, that's it. One minute you're here, the next you're not. What the "next" part is, I was not sure, but I had always been positive that you die only once. However horrible or painful it may be, it's a one-time-only deal.
When I lay dying -- of leprosy, which is rather unpleasant -- I felt a bit apprehensive about the actual moment of passing over. My sisters, Mary and Martha, had assured me that I'd go to Heaven once the Savior did his work and all that, but that wasn't what I was worried about. I was most concerned with the physical act of dying. I'd think about getting to Heaven once I was on the other side.
So, after months of lying in excruciating pain, my skin slowly being eaten away, the leprosy finally won, and I died. The sickness had torn into me with an alarming appetite, until it was difficult to breathe or even blink. When I died, my last breath was a long awaited sigh of relief.
I don't remember much from after my death, it's all become very dim and gray now. One thing I do recall, though, is how comfortable it was. I didn't care about anything or anybody. I didn’t even care about myself. It was like sleeping in the softest feather bed in the world, or taking the longest, most luxurious bubble bath without the water ever getting cold. Fears and doubts and notions about my own well-being faded away. There was no need for worry, everything was clearly under seamless management. From time to time, hazy figures would pass through my view, as if I saw them through a fog, but I didn't pay them any attention. I was warm and cozy, and couldn't feel a thing beyond that. It was quite lovely.
A slow and lazy distress bubbled up within me when one of the figures became distinct from the hazy background. It took me a few moments to even understand or recognize this new development, and when I did, I heard a vaguely familiar musical voice.
"Lazarus," it said, "come out!"
Come out? In my benumbed and blissful state, I could barely comprehend the words, or that they were words at all, much less consider obeying them. Next thing I knew, there came a rushing sound, and I could feel a pall wind blowing through my idyllic comfort, sending goose bumps down the arms and chest that I had nearly forgotten were a part of me. It stopped, and I found myself lying in a dark place. Dark, but not the previous comfortable darkness of my limbo state. This felt cold and unwelcoming. I shivered.
I remained as I was for a few minutes, hoping to pass back into my earlier oblivion. I thought that if I ignored it all, perhaps the new developments would fade away like the trailing end of a storm. Unfortunately, I only became more aware that I was lying on something hard and cold. My spine began to throb against the unyielding surface beneath me as a damp chill began to seep through my skin.
I sat up, feeling rough cloth scratch against my raw flesh. I couldn't see anything, as if I was blindfolded. With stiff arms, I reached up and patted my face. Something was covering it. I tried to pull it away, but it was wrapped around my head. Slowly, joints cracking in dismay, I found an end of the cloth tucked behind my ear and unwound it.
I was sitting on a ledge in a small cave. The ceiling was low and pebbled, but the walls were smooth for the most part. My sore eyes stared at the dry reeds covering the sandy floor, at the perfume bottle resting next to the ledge, at the dirty swatch of linen draped across my hands. Investigating further, I found that my entire body was enveloped in linen that smelled vaguely of decay. Something in my mind began to tick, trying to work out what these things meant, as my heart starting beating faster, thumping against my ribs. This place seemed uncomfortably familiar.
It came to me. I had been in a place like this before. When my parents' last child was born dead, they had wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a small cave near the grazing fields where I used to take our sheep herd to feed. A cave like the one I was in.
A man cleared his throat behind me. I jerked my head around, muscles beginning to warm into a reality of dull and pulsing aches.
"Jesus!" I yelped, heart beating too fast. He stood in the large crack that was the entrance to the cave, eyebrow crooked. 

"Come on," Jesus hissed. "You're screwing up my miracle."


(And if you want to leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, I would be so, so grateful!)