Friday, January 23, 2015

The Now of Motherhood

Time is slipping away from me.

As January dawned, I found myself suddenly halfway through this pregnancy.

Just five more months before my life gets really interesting/challenging/beautiful/sleep-deprived, I thought to myself.  What do you want to accomplish in that time?

I meant it as a challenge to myself.  A professional challenge, and a creativity challenge.  How many words could I put to paper in five months?  How many paintings could I finish?  How many new followers/sales/[insert-your-favorite-measure-of-success-here] could I accrue?

And so I began.  I began to work on my novel again, to step it up in the art department, and --

I quickly found myself running out of gas
and caring.

The fire that normally burns within me, begging to roar and light and flare, wasn't.

Because it was busy.
Making a person.

I looked back at my New Year's question to to myself.  What do you want to accomplish in this time, Beth -- in these last months of your last pregnancy?

And the answer that rose from my soul was so unexpected, yet dripped with truth.

I want to enjoy the remains of this pregnancy as much as possible.  To sink into this sacred time.

I want to soak up the last months with my oldest son as the only child in the house, because (if all goes well) it'll never be just him and me, and him and me and his daddy, ever again. I want to build an excessive amount of Lego towers, and play-dough burritos, and go on an extravagant amount of adventures.

I want to rub my belly, and wander through books, and nibble dark chocolate, and wrap myself in soft blankets.

I want to visit with my kindred, to paint when I feel like it, to journal and meditate as I can, not as I "should." 

I want to play.  I want to stretch this aching body.  I want to stare into the widening sky, at the circling of the moon.  I want to lay on the earth and feel her move beneath my bones.

I want to be here, in this time, fully present.

Most of all, I want to not trade this time, this this-is-the-only-chance-I-get time to meet goals whose time will come, and come without such a steep price tag.

It feels strange, to still be learning (or relearning, or learning again for the first time) this after the steep educational curve of stillbirth.  Wasn't that enough?  And yet, I remain human, and sometimes it's hard to soften into my own motherheart, when so many of my beautiful friends are putting themselves out there, creating amazing things with great courage.  I want to be out there, too. 

But not at the price of right here, and right now.  Not at the price of missing this blue-eyed boy grinning at me with the universe inside him, or that baby nudging me from the inside. 

And so, I smooth my palms across my swelling abdomen, and fold my two year old into my arms when he'll let me, and trace fingertips over my husband's grizzled face, and know that this is more than enough.


Monday, January 5, 2015

5 Ways Writing a Book is Totally Like Being Pregnant
image by Ellen Kohlenberg via a Creative Commons license

I know, I know.  It's one of the oldest and most cliched writing metaphors around.  Writing a book = being pregnant.  Pish posh, tell us something new.

But I can't, because I'm writing a book.  And I'm pregnant.  And I can't stop thinking about the ways in which the two connect.

And anyway, it's only cliche because it's true -- like, really, really true, which is why people make the analogy so often.

So I give you, straight from the pregnant writer's mouth:  5 Ways Writing a Book is Totally Like Being Pregnant.

1.  It takes a long time.

Writing a book and growing a baby take a really long time.  Like, really long.  I'm 21 weeks pregnant as I write this, and I feel like I've been pregnant f o r e v e r -- and I'm only halfway.  That's what I feel like when I'm writing, too: look at me go, I'm so professional, I've been writing every day for weeks . . . and my word count is only at 30,000 words -- and that's not even counting editing and querying/submitting/publishing.

*cue tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth*

It's not necessarily a bad thing that it takes a long time for a book and baby to form (actually, it's a really good thing for babies  -- prematurity is no fun for anyone involved, it seems).  But when it feels like you're holding your breath -- and I always feel like I'm holding my breath when I'm writing a novel, and when I'm pregnant -- well, that gets really hard after a while. 

2.  It really hurts.

You've been pregnant for what must certainly have been a lifetime.  You've got stretch marks, ankles the size of both the Dakotas, and you're peeing every fifteen minutes (in the toilet, if you're lucky).  And then, after all that, the Very Best Day -- the day you finally get to meet this precious, most-wanted and incredibly tiny and adorable person -- also happens to be the Most Painful Day of the whole run.  You're doing really well if you come through with only the most excruciating physical experience of your life and and a vagina that's so sore you're terrified to try going #2 anytime soon.

Writing a book is kind of the same way.  You write -- and write, and write -- for weeks, months, maybe years.  You get feedback, constructive critiques, and edit the hell out of that manuscript.  All of this takes major guts.  And then at the end of it all, you get to look forward to the experience of basically begging agents and publishers to pretty please just look at this book you've given your life away over.  Or you indie publish, and get to do all the final edits, dreaded formatting (I'm looking at you, Kindle), cover design, marketing (argh!), and release day glories.  You're doing really well if you come through with only a couple of venomous one star reviews.

3.  It's kind of scary.

I think pregnancy is a beautiful and sacred time, a time of exquisite mystery and opportunity.  But it also can be really scary, particularly if pregnancy loss or infertility have played a role in your life.  Even if those villains haven't paid to a visit, though, pregnancy is, at times, weird and kind of terrifying.  All this stuff is happening to your body and you're just watching it happen.  Pregnancy also brings with it higher risk factors and scary potential complications.  And as if that wasn't enough, pregnancy concludes with your body essentially tearing itself open to painfully excrete an entirely new human being through your hoo-ha.  And then you spend the rest of your life half-sick with worry about all the many horrifying things that could befall your amazing and (it feels like) stupidly fragile child (who decided humanity could be this fragile? obviously not a mother).  Basically, being pregnant (or trying to get pregnant, or adopt) takes major balls.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart either.  Ernest Hemingway famously said, "There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at at typewriter and open a vein" -- and that pretty much sums it up.  Want to write a book?  Prepare to turn your soul inside out and scrape its insides raw.  Ruthlessly edit said soul scrapings before turning them loose into the world, where you stand a good chance that they will be dismissed/judged/misunderstood/ignored.  More soul bleeding will ensue, whether your book is beloved or reviled.  Rinse, repeat.

4.  It's thankless.

If you want a career or life calling in which the people you relentlessly give everything you have for fall over themselves to thank you -- parenthood is not it.  My son is still very small, but it seems like the last thing to expect, that at some point he'll start falling all over himself to show his gratitude for my efforts.

You don't get into parenthood for the glory (is there any glory?).  You do it for the love -- the love you have for this mind-blowingly awesome person who may or may not roll his eyes at your awkwardness every five seconds starting at puberty.  You do it for the love first, and hope that you don't screw it up too badly.

Books, too.  Unless you're really lucky or really good -- or, better yet, a combination of both -- you're not going to hit it big with your first book.  Or your second.  Or maybe even your tenth.  And anyway, if you're doing this kind of gut-wrenching worth only for the fame and glory -- well, there's got to be an easier way to get said glory. 

No.  You do it for the love.  For the love of words, of dreaming up new things, of your characters, of communication, of the sensation of lay letters down across the page.  You do it for the love first, and hope that your words will mean something to someone, but know that it's okay (if hard) if you are the only someone. 

5.  It's totally worth it.

Some days I wonder if getting into this whole motherhood thing was the best idea.  It's kind of a lot of work, and I tend to get heartsick with worry in a way that I never used to before.  Plus I'm pretty low on sleep, with no reprieve in sight.

But then I look at my son -- this unimaginably beautiful and sweet and amazing and hilarious and sacred person -- and I can't imagine a life without him in it.  He's worth it all.

Same with writing.  Words have been my lifeline for most of my years, and writing them is not only sometimes the most fun thing of all time and sometimes the thing which leaves me tearing at my hair in despair -- but its necessary.  It's life, self-care, therapy, community, and soul-exploration.  It's holy ground, and I can't imagine life without writing in it.

And while writing novels isn't quite like writing a blog -- definitely less self-care in the novel department -- it's still necessary.  It is somehow a part of me, not to mention a lifelong dream.  To not write would be a sort of death at the soul level.  And so I write, even when it hurts, even when the words come out all wrong, and I never seem to know how to end the damn thing.

My son is my heart.  Writing is my heart's work. 

* * *

I'm sure there are more connections, but I'm too pregnant to think (there's another one -- pregnancy + writing will completely sap your brain of the power to think about anything other than pregnancy/writing).  So I'll leave you with a really cute intersection of babies and book-writing from when my son was even tinier than he is now, and I'd decided that simultaneously breastfeeding and writing was a thing I could do (hint: it wasn't, not for this brain):

You're welcome.

Now, your turn.  What's your favorite "writing a a book is totally like being pregnant" connection?  Feel free to sub any other art form (or, um, anything, really) in for writing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Word of the Year {#OneWord365}

from my painting Heart-Follower
For the past couple of years, I've picked a guiding word or phrase for each 365 day run, hoping that this would help me to better hone in on my goals for that period of time.  And -- the practice has been life-changing for me, in beautiful and challenging ways.

This year, I'm doing it again.

But I feel like picking this year's word is particularly challenging, because 2015 is (if all goes well) a birthing year.  We'll be welcoming a new baby into our lives in the spring, so the majority of my energy in 2015 will be poured into my childrens' lives, not into my personal goals.  And that is wonderful, and sacred, tear-inducing and at times grueling -- it is the life of a mama. 

So I need a word that will carry me through those early days of caring for an infant, with little sleep and leaking breasts and the riches of cupping tiny toes in my palm and cradling this sweet slip of a miracle to my chest.  Of transforming into a mom with two very small people in my care, two sets of crankiness, and two bundles of heart-rending beauty and golden snuggles.

But I also need a word that will carry me to the start of those days.

To, and then through.  How could one word possibly span all of that?

I really didn't think it was possible.  So I waited, fretting, and tried to remember to breathe, trust.

And then, sure enough, as November rolled over into December, a word began pursuing me.  It really felt like that.  Not that I found it, but that it found me.  And my heart leapt when it did.


Play was the word.

Play, God, the Universe, and Everything seemed to be whispering to my soul.  Be free.  Enjoy.  Go lightly.  

Play with your children.
Play with paint and papers and glue.
Play with your words.
Play with spirit.
Play with courage, and with trying new things, and with going to bed early.
Play with new books, and old ones.
Play with your food.
Play with intimacy, with love, with your beloved and your self.
Play with the moon and the stars and the sun.
Play with your body, with its movements and pauses and sacred rhythms.
Play with the breath.
Play with knowing and not.
Play with friends and friendship.
Play with forgiveness and release and opening palms.

Play with everything imaginable and unimaginable.  Embark upon everyday adventures.  Frolic along with a treasure map to yourself.  Look for the fun.  Look for the joy.  Get a little dirty, and enjoy this gorgeous tangle of a life.


And so I will.

I will be posting about my year of Play here on the blog.  But if you'd like to really see inside my 2015, follow along with the hashtag #myplayfulyear2015 on Instagram.

Are you picking a word or phrase or theme of the year for 2015?  If so, I'd love to know what it is and what it means to you.  And don't forget to link up with the One Word 365 site if you blog about it!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Delicious Words: The Best of Books Devoured in 2014

I love reading.  L O V E reading.  Books have sustained me through some of the hardest challenges of my life.  They are inspiration, education, and sanctuary.  They challenge and uproot.  They uplift my whole person.

That said . . . I've been rather lax in my reading.  Part of it is that being a mama takes up a lot of time (in an awesome way), but then after my sweet boy goes to bed, it's honestly easier to take in some TV shows on Amazon Prime than it is to pick up a book.

Still, my goal was to read ten books in 2014 (I know, I know, such a small goal for a woman who professes to L O V E reading), and I exceeded that.  So yay me.  And also yay to the fact that reading, even what feels like a paltry amount, has reminded me of just how much I need to be reading.  Not just because it is awesome and good for your brain and nourishing to me on a personal level, but also as a writer.  If I want to be a professional writer, I need to be a professional reader, too.

Here are some of my [highly professional?] favorite reads of 2014.


The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd.  This was my first read of the year, and oh man, was it a good one -- and kind of perfect that it was my premiere book of 2014.  It's an autobiographical account of author Kidd's journey out of patriarchy and into her own self.  Perfect for any woman seeking to embrace her own woman-ness in a deeper way.

“I often went to Catholic mass or Eucharist at the Episcopal church, nourished by the symbol and power of this profound feeding ritual. It never occurred to me how odd it was that women, who have presided over the domain of food and feeding for thousands of years, were historically and routinely barred from presiding over it in a spiritual context. And when the priest held out the host and said, "This is my body, given for you," not once did I recognize that it is women in the act of breastfeeding who most truly embody those words and who are also most excluded from ritually saying them.” 

- from The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Immortal Diamond: The Search For Our True Self by Richard Rohr.  If you follow me on social media, you may already know that I read a good deal of Rohr's works this year.  I even started a free book on Facebook for other Rohr readers.  So I probably don't have to tell you that I really (really, really) like what Rohr has to say.  Reading this Franciscan's priest's words helped move me from seeing the world, and specifically matters of spirituality and faith, in black and white (otherwise known as dualism) to opening up to a greater and more mysterious spectrum of existence and possibility.  Read it if you're weary of spiritual shoulds and are looking for another way.  I also recommend The Naked Now, Job and the Mystery of Suffering, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, and Falling Upward, all by Rohr and all among my 2014 reads.

“Metaphor is the only possible language available to religion because it alone is honest about Mystery.” 

- from Immortal Diamond

Red, Hot, and Holy: A Heretic's Love Story by Sera Beak.  I have something of a love/hate relationship with this book.  I felt like the book's description made promises that the book itself did not deliver on.  However, I have to put it on this list anyway because I love how committed Beak is to finding her whole self, no matter the cost.  Don't read this is a self-help book (that's what messed me up, I think -- read her The Red Book if that's what you need) but as an autobiographical love story between one woman and her Holy.

“Ideas aren’t helping you anymore, Sera. Concepts have run their course. Paradigms pop. Theories leak. Techniques are only top-offs. Beliefs brush away. Books close. Workshops end. What truly transforms is this Closeness with Me. You gotta hug Me so tight that nothing comes between Us.” 

- from Red, Hot, and Holy

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  I haven't finished this yet, despite having started it at the end of 2013.  It's not the kind of book you can rush through.  I find it hard to read more than a few pages at a time, because it is rich and healing and alive.  It is a collection of retold myths and fairytales.  Required reading for the awakening woman.

“If you have yet to be called an incorrigable, defiant woman, don't worry, there is still time.” 

- from Women Who Run With the Wolves


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  This book.  This book.  It is perhaps the best book I read this year.  It is a work of art, leaving me breathless like few works of fiction ever have.  It is hard, and lovely, and challenging, and sacred.  Go.  Read it.  Now.  I'll wait.  (And read Ness's other works afterward, because those are really quite good, too.)

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” 

- from A Monster Calls

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.  This trilogy isn't high art like Ness's book.  But it is really, really fun.  And it's set in a fantasy world based loosely in Russian culture, which I found unique and refreshing.  The story can be a little predictable, but Bardugo makes up for that with lots of engaging adventure, bloodshed, characters that you care about (pirates!!!!), and romance that I didn't hate.  Like I said,  I had a blast reading these, and couldn't stop until I'd consumed all three back to back to back.

“Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.” 

- from Siege and Storm, book 2 of the Grisha Trilogy

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin Lafevers.  I started this series in 2013, but the final book only released this November.  I have been practically panting for it all year, and per-ordered it so I'd get it on release day -- I never pre-order books.  I basically love this trilogy with all my heart.  It's about assassin nuns (assassin nuns, people!!!) set in medieval Burgundy.  Snarky, deliciously dark at times, full of ass-kicking women, they are SO GOOD. 

“I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face.” 

- from Grave Mercy, book 1 of the His Fair Assassin Trilogy

Magdalen Rising by Elizabeth Cunningham.  This book is the first in The Maeve Chronicles, a series retelling the story of Mary Magdalen.  Under Cunningham's care, Mary becomes the fierce and fiery Celtic (eeek!) Maeve, who is raised by seven mothers and goes off for training under the Druids once she comes of age.  Trigger warning: there is sexual violence which, while not explicit, is nonetheless devastating.  Honestly, although it took me awhile to come around to it, this is one of the reasons I love this book.  It's the best fictional representation of sexual violence I've seen because, as with true life sex crimes, it completely stops and reroutes the story.  Nothing is the same after this intimate shattering.  I'm looking forward to reading the remaining books in the series.

“I've outgrown my childhood name, and I haven't found a new one yet.”

- from Magdalen Rising

Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke.  No best-of-books list would be complete without poetry.  And Rilke's poetry is so, so rich.  It is just what I needed to read: the words of a mystic, questioning, reaching into the darkness, and learning to be satisfied with not-knowing.  Rilke's poetry echoes my own heart's throbbing.

“I circle around God, that primordial tower. / I have been circling for thousands of years, / And I still don't know: am I a falcon, / A storm, or a great song?” 

- from Rilke's Book of Hours

The Anatomy of Being by Shinji Moon.  I'm still working my way through this collection of poetry, but it is powerful.  Visceral, electric, and full of emotion.  And I love that Moon independently published it.  Basically, yum.

“You will lie to everyone you love. / They will love you anyways.” 

- from The Anatomy of Being

Friends' books

This list would not be complete without mentioning the bravery of my friends who published books in 2014.  I've blogged about a couple, but here they are in their totality, all gorgeous and worth reading(I feel pretty sure I'm forgetting someone . . . if so, my deepest apologies! pregnancy brain strikes again -- remind me and I will happily add yours to the list!)

For 2015 . . .

I've already started reading some of the books that will become my best-books-of-2015 list, I can just feel it.  Like A Discovery of Witches, for example, which I'm currently devouring.  I'd like to read more fiction across a variety of genres, styles, and topics, both for fun and for my edification as a writer.  I tend toward reading a lot of more self-help-y kind of books (usually spiritual ones), particularly when I feel like my heart is spinning.  So more fiction for 2015.

I'd also like to read more parenting books.  I've bought a decent bunch of them over the past two years, and have barely touched them.  I'd like to finish one or two.

Similar to my accumulation of parenting books, I've accumulated even more books on writing over the years -- and again haven't read most of them.  So I'm planning on reading more of those, particularly Writing Begins With the Breath because, well, writing tends to bring out the worst of my neuroses, so writing + breathing sounds like a better plan than writing + emotional eating, or writing + floundering in self-doubt, or writing + depression.

Looking back over this list, I notice that the authors mentioned are predominantly white.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is curious.  I'd like to widen my range of authors, to take in the experiences of those who don't look like me.  I think it's important, as a person and as a writer.  I've already started doing this with my son's books, expanding our picture book collection with stories featuring non-white characters and both male and female main characters, as well as purchasing toys that aren't all male, or the kind of toys marketed only for males.  It's time to challenge myself and expand my mind in some of the same ways as I'm doing for my son.  One book I'm particularly looking forward to/nervous about reading is Writing the Other, which delves into penning characters of a different ethnicity than the author.

And more poetry.  Because poetry = awesome.

On top of that, a number of my friends are publishing new books in 2015, so I'm also looking forward to getting my hands on those.

Most of all, though -- I've purchased a TON of books I haven't read yet in the last year or two.  So my main book goals for 2015 are to a) read a bunch, and b) buy no more books!  (Anyone else have a book buying problem?)

I'm also having a baby in the spring if all goes well, so I'm setting these book (and all 2015) goals with fluidity and grace.  Who knows how much time I'll have to read/create/brush my teeth in the second half of the year, so I'm holding everything quite loosely (or trying to). 

Okay, enough from me.  Your turn!  What were some of your favorite reads of 2014?  Anyone with me in the assassin nun fangirling?  How about your reading hopes for the new year?

*this post contains affiliate links. thanks for support the blog!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#VATMOSS To Affect (and Decimate?) Small Business
UPDATE: I am not pulling my Kindle books off the EU market.  This whole VATMOSS this is incredibly confusing, and I'm grateful for the folks who pointed me toward resources (like this one) that show that in cases where the digital product is sold through a marketplace (such as Kindle books through Amazon), it is the marketplace and not the owner of the product that is responsible for the new tax.  So that's good.  But future ecourses of mine will only be open to non-EU folks.  Ugh what a mess, huh?

I'm leaving the original post up because there's important info in here, but WILL be keeping my Kindle books on the EU market.

You may or may not have heard of the new European Union VAT tax which is being applied to the sale of digital/downloadable items like books, music, ecourses, and more.  It's strangely not getting a lot of publicity, even though it is going to adversely affect many, many small businesses and independent artists like myself.  Basically, business owners are being required to pay an additional tax to the home countries of EU residents that purchase ditial items from them.  I find it all incredibly confusing, but you can read more about the VAT tax here, and this is one of the best articles I've found delineating what is taxable under the new tax and what's not.

That's all very interesting and brain-imploding, Beth.  But, um, why are you writing about it?

Here's the deal.  I love doing business with customers the world over (thank you!).  However, at this time I don't bring in nearly enough income (or, uh, hardly any income) to warrant registering and paying for the new EU VAT tax.  So, as of January 1, 2015, my ebooks will no longer be available to buyers within the European Union.  December 30, 2014, is the last day to purchase the Kindle edition of The Light Between Us and Life After Eating Disorder.  I'm also removing The Light Between Us from Smashwords because there doesn't seem to be a way to make it only available to non-EU customers.  In addition, unless this law changes, my future ebooks and ecourses will not be sold to residents of the EU.

Which totally sucks.

That said, right now the tax does not apply to physical items purchased online, so EU residents can still buy my art prints and originals and hard copies of my books.  So that's good.  Be aware, though -- there's talk of applying the VAT tax to physical goods in 2016, and Australia's also looking to implement the same kind of tax.  So if you're as upset as I am by these laws, either as a seller or a customer, please write to your local representative and encourage them to rethink how this new tax is negatively impacting the global small business economy.  I have, and will continue to.

So this is kind of a lame end-of-the-year post. But it's what is best for my business right now.  If in the future I bring in more income and can afford to pay the VAT tax, then I will happily reopen my eproducts to EU residents.  Until that time, it's out of my hands.  I'm very sorry, and very sad that it's come to this.  Please know that I treasure your interest and your business and your readership immensely. 

That said, there are still a handful of hours to get your Kindle copy of my books before this whole VAT mess goes into place.  So if you've been waiting, now's the time.

Thanks, and hope your transition into 2015 is peaceful and soft.

*image by Dave Dugdale under creative commons

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Free Quickie Mixed Media Art Demo: "Moon and Stars"

I've been wanting to do more fast art demo videos for you and, now that I'm getting a bit of energy back post-first trimester, I have!  It's fun to do these quick videos for you, with minimal editing but (hopefully) a good bargain of inspiration for just a few minutes' of watching time.  I really enjoy watching other artists' fast painting videos, and I hope you enjoy this one.  And if you are hungry for more art-in-motion videos, you can find the rest of mine here.

Here is the finished version of this painting, entitled "Moon and Stars" (and prints are up for grabs in the shop here):

Thanks for watching!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Believe in the Night {On Decembers}

There's something about December.

I've long resisted it.  The depth of night . . . the buzzing of the holidays . . . the overabundance of delicious and bad-for-you things in all the places. 

I used to say that this was my least favorite time of the year.  And that was before my baby was stillborn days before Thanksgiving.

But this year feels different.

Maybe it's that I'm resting with the hibernating earth, staying away from the manic hustle and bustle of holiday to-do lists and presents and unnecessary obligations.  Maybe it's that I'm doing the holidays my way, perhaps for the first time, and choosing only what is nourishing and enlightening for my spirit.  I feel like I'm wrapped up in a cloak of star-marked night, breathing in time with the bears sleeping winter away in their mountain dens.

Maybe it's that I'm pregnant -- a time that always makes me feel more visceral, more embodied, more sexy and sacred.  Maybe it's my body waxing around the seed of life in the darkness within that makes me appreciate this time of thick, cold night.

Or maybe it's that it's my fearless year (just for a little while longer now), and I'm reaping the benefits of challenging myself to find treasures in winter's darkness. That I'm learning to not run from the dark, but slowly turn my face toward it and invite it in for tea.

This year is different.

I hope next year is different in the same kind of way, too, more and more different-in-a-needed-way, as I learn to trust this soul of mine, and the feeling coursing through my marrow. 

I hope I never forget to honor these long, dark nights. 

I believe in the night, when dreams run free across the stilled landscape.  When the moon wanes and waxes and wanes above, her eternal dance that tells us so much about ourselves.  When the stars play behind the wandering clouds, and all the earth is a question.  When I teach myself again and again, and sometimes learn, to surrender to myself, to this body, to rest.  When slumber makes us children again for a time, trusting in what is, if only for this night.

I nestle into December's darkness and try to heed the quiet throb of my own heart's pace.

"You, darkness, of whom I am born–
I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.
It let’s me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, from Rilke's Book of Hours*

Your turn: how is your December different this year?  Is it a welcome kind of different, or something less desirable?  How would you like it to be different next year?  Let your thoughts wander over how you can make December 2015 a good-different for yourself.

*affiliate link