Sometimes Mondays

. . . feel kinda weird.

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According to the calendar, fall has arrived. But it hasn't really felt much like . . . fall . . . in my corner of the world. Not yet. Oh, sure. There have been a few days where there's been a little nip in the air. And the sun is certainly rising later/setting earlier than it was a month or two ago. 

But the leaves are still not turning.
And there hasn't been even the lightest hint of a frost.

And that's really weird.

In fact, we are on track here . . . for the latest "first frost" ever. The weather-folk are pushing that date for my area into early-mid November. (Usually it would have happened by now.) And we're having the latest "peak color" in decades (maybe ever) throughout the state.

I guess that explains why . . . I'm still wearing shorts and flip-flops (sometimes with sweatshirts, but still). And I haven't brought out my warm clothes yet. And I only just this weekend pulled out my pumpkin collection to decorate inside my house. I'm still working in my garden and watering containers that would normally be in the compost heap by now.

Very weird.
But I guess I still have plenty of time to plant my fall bulbs!

(How about you? Has fall arrived in your neck of the woods?)


Another Week of Questions: Friday

This week, I'm asking you questions.

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Today's question is . .  just for fun.

It's a fall "this is or that." If you have an Instagram account, you've no doubt seen these sort of things pop up in your feed. Someone posts a "this or that" list. You're encouraged to take a screen shot of the list, edit to choose your responses, and then repost on Instagram with a tag. I always think they look fun, but I never take the time to do them. 

So here's today's "question" . . . 

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Instead of screenshotting or uploading . . . just copy the following, paste it into the comment field, and indicate your answers. (I've tried it myself and it seems to work.) (Yes. It's kind of awkward? But maybe fun anyway?)

Candles or Fairy Lights
Tea or Spiced Cider
Caramel Apple or Pumpkin Pie
Sweaters or Flannel
Leggings or Sweat Pants
Boots or Uggs
Scary Movie or Haunted House
Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
PSL or Chai
Scarves or Cozy Socks

As for me . . . 

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This. Or That.
I can't wait to see what YOU choose.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions this week! I've loved reading the stories and thoughts and memories you've shared.
Happy Friday -- and enjoy your weekend.


Another Week of Questions: Thursday

This week, I'm asking you questions!

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Today's question is about . . . your Halloween memories.

When you were a kid, what do you remember most about Halloween? What kind of costumes did you wear for Halloween? How is Halloween different now . . . than it was when you were a kid?

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As for me . . . Halloween was an exciting day for me, as a kid. But it was much different than it is now! Much more low-key . . . Our costumes were thrown together at the last moment from whatever we happened to have lying around the house. We did have school Halloween parties, but costumes weren't part of it at my school. And Halloween decorations were more likely to be of the cardboard variety. (We did have a big, jointed, cardboard skeleton I particularly enjoyed "posing" to tape into our living room window.) The photo above (I'm the bunny, by the way, age 2 1/2 and already bossing my younger cousins around . . .) is the ONLY photo of me in a Halloween costume in my collection of family photos! Halloween wasn't such a big deal, and my costumes were nothing to write home about. Times, they do change . . . 

How about YOU?
I'm curious about your Halloween memories!


Another Week of Questions: Wednesday

This week, I'm asking you questions!

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Today's question is about . . . arts and crafts.

If you were unconcerned about resources (time, money, equipment, geography) and skill (perceived or otherwise), what arts or crafts activity would you be interested in learning or undertaking?

As for me? Oh, there are so many! (Dyeing. Weaving. Jewelry making. Art quilting. Pattern design.) But the one I'd really like to try?

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How about YOU?
What would you like to try?


Another Week of Questions: Tuesday

This week, I'm asking you questions!

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Today's question . . . is about dreams.

Do you wake up remembering your dreams? Are they vivid - or do they fade away? And . . . do you have any recurring dreams?

As for me . . . I'm afraid I'm not much of a dreamer. Or, maybe it's that I am not much of a rememberer when it comes to my dreams. I'm rarely aware of dreaming, and if I do have a glimmer of something, it generally fades before I've even grabbed my first cup of coffee. There are times, though, when my dreaming wakes me up . . . and it always seems to be the a dream with the same sort of theme: Frustration. In these dreams, it seems I'm always trying to get ready to go somewhere or do something with a specific time element (a job, a trip, some sort of engagement, on my way to pick someone up, etc.), but situations keep unfolding that prevent me from making any forward progress. No matter what I do, in my dream I can't make any headway! My clothes won't fit and then I get lost in my own house or I lose my keys and forget my passport and can't find a gas station . . . just endless annoyances. And it goes on and on and on and I get more and more frustrated in my dream . . . until I wake up. And then I'm always flooded with relief that it wasn't a real situation and I really DO know where my passport is!

How about YOU?
I'm curious to hear about your dreams!


Another Week of Questions: Monday

Last July, I tried something different . . . and it turned out to be pretty fun . . . so I'm going to do it again! 

Every day this week, I'm going to ask YOU a question.
(You can answer in the comments.)

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Today's question . . . is about keeping track of yourself.

Do you track anything . . . habits, intentions, or the like? And if you do, what kind of system do you use?

I track . . . all kinds of things. Mostly, I just jot things down in my daily planner (which is very loosely based on a bullet journal, but not nearly that "system-y"). I track fitness plans and dinner menus, blog post ideas and moon cycles, medications, that kind of thing.

But I also track . . . whether I'm on track.

You see, several years ago, when my one-little-word for the year was balance, I figured out that there are five things I need every day to maintain my personal equilibrium. These five things are: Meditation, movement, time to reflect (journaling), time outside (weather be damned), and some sort of creative activity. Ever since I figured out my "five things," I've tracked them in my planner. 

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This basic and simple tracker . . . works for me. I know there are a million different ways to track personal habits and intentions of this nature -- from more formal bullet journaling to downloadable checklists to highly specialized apps. As for me, I just prefer a good old-fashioned paper-and-pencil checklist. I just like being able to "see" that I'm doing okay . . . or that I'm headed for trouble - balance-wise - with a quick glance at my "tracker." If there are too many blank spots or inconsistencies, I can course-correct. Or batten down the hatches.

(Besides, I really like filling in those little grid squares!)

How about YOU?
Do you keep track of yourself?
And what system do you use to keep track of it?

I can't wait to hear your stories!

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Be sure to check back tomorrow . . . for a new question.

 


Museum of Me: On the Cusp of Adolescence

Last month I "opened" the Museum of Me. 

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And this month I'm back with another exhibit. . .  Growing Up: On the Cusp of Adolescence.

From the early 1990s until 2007, I worked as the Executive Director of a private women's foundation in Grand Rapids. (Best job EVER.) (The foundation has since "spent down" its assets and is no longer an active foundation.) Anyway, early in my tenure at the foundation, Harvard researcher Carol Gilligan had just published a groundbreaking piece on the developement of adolescent girls. Gilligan found that girls at age 11 were on top of the world. They were confident, sure, outspoken. They knew who they were. But. By age 16, those same girls were . . . not. Gilligan found that as they went through adolescence, girls quickly got the societal/cultural message that they should keep quiet and say nothing.

Back in 1991 - as a personal "survivor" of that very phenomenon AND as the mother of a 2-year-old daughter - I was deeply disturbed by Gilligan's findings. I made it my mission at the foundation to do whatever I could to change things for the girls of the 1990s. (Of course, recent research finds that not much has changed for girls in the past 30 years. It's hard to move the needle when it comes to social and cultural norms. But that's for another day.)

I used to keep this photo of myself in my office at the foundation.

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It's me. Age 11. 

I've always loved this picture of myself as a young girl. There aren't many photos of me at this age/stage of my life, so it feels . . . precious. It was taken in the summer of 1970 when I had just returned home from two weeks at my first-ever sleep-away camp experience. Although I had a great time at camp, I had also been terribly homesick, and I was thrilled to get back home to my family and my house and my own room . . . which had been totally transformed while I was away! So I'm posing here, fresh from camp (wearing my trusty camp sweatshirt) in my newly-painted and decked out room at home.

But there's more to this photo than just a welcome-home-from-camp memory. Because in this photo, I am on the cusp of adolescence. And I can see it.

I was an 11-year-old with Big Ideas! I knew what I liked, and I was pretty vocal about what I didn't. I was a ballet dancer and a swimmer. I was learning to play the flute. I loved to read and was proud to have been the school spelling bee champ for 3 years running. I liked to draw and make things. I liked to play games and had a big imagination. I bossed people around a lot. I had a crush on Donny Osmond. And David Cassidy. But I was also a Motown fan and loved listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. I dreamed about being an astronaut. Or an artist. Or a fashion designer . . . even though I wasn't worried about the clothes I wore. If you asked me then, I'd have told you I was was smart and fast and strong. 

Just like Carol Gilligan said . . . the "me" in that photo, age 11 . . . was confident, sure, and outspoken.

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A few weeks later  . . . I started middle school. And then several months after that, I moved half way across the country and started a whole new life in a new state in a new (and bigger) junior high school. A lot of my 11-year-old confidence and sure-footedness . . . evaporated. Some of it was puberty. Some of it was family turmoil. Some of it was moving and losing familiar people and childhood friends at a pivotal age. Most of it was just that mine field that is . . . adolescence. A lot it was the pervasive cultural and societal messages about who was "pretty" and how girls "ought" be. Those messages? They did me in. 

For a while.

Eventually, I found my footing again. I practiced things I was good at. I stopped feeling bad about being smart and "bookish" and an introvert. I started keeping a diary. I shed toxic relationships and dropped friends-who-weren't-really-friends. I went to college. Met Tom. I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't.

And gradually, I . . . found myself.

In the end, I "met up" with my 11-year-old self again . . . and became more like her.
(Turns out . . . we have a lot in common.)
And these two photos of me in my new purple bedroom - on the cusp of adolescence - are a perfect reminder to me. . .  of just that!

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Now that I've officially created The Museum of Me, you can watch for new exhibits . . . maybe once or twice a month. And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of my prompts) and we can talk about ourselves together. (It might be fun?)

 


What Are the Chances

. . . that I can turn THIS little pile of wool scraps . . . 

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into THIS charming little Halloween item????

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I picked this kit up in a moment of weakness at my one-and-only Rhinebeck experience back in 2015 (Hi, Patty!). Each fall since, I pull the kit out of my "craft closet" sometime in September . . . and I carefully read through the instructions and take inventory of my materials . . . and decide THIS IS THE YEAR.  And then I (humbly) put it back in it the closet after Halloween. Unstarted. Again. 

So.

What are the chances, d'you think, that THIS IS THE YEAR? 
(Keeping in mind that I have that test knit to finish before the end of the month. AND that I'm sewing Erin a dress to wear in a wedding later this month, too.

Can I?
Or . . . 
Not?

(And does this happen to anyone else? Or is it just me???)

 

 

 


Read With Us . . . Right On Through the Holidays

Read With Us Fall

It's a Big Day!

The Read With Us "reveal!"
(Drumroll, please!)

After MUCH discussion and a lot of back-and-forth, Bonny and Carole and I finally settled on Matrix by Lauren Groff for our next Read With Us book selection.

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For the first time in Read With Us history, I've already read the book we chose . . . so I am confident it'll make for a GREAT book group discussion. (In fact, I can't wait to talk about this one with you.) 

First of all, separate this title from the movie franchise with the same name (almost - the book title does not include "the"). You won't find Neo, Trinity, or Morpheus in these pages. But you will find . . . witchy feminist medieval nuns! When you first read the description of this quite marvelous book, you may be turned off by phrases like . . . "12th century," "impoverished abbey," "convent," and "French poetry." But I encourage you to Read On! 

I wasn't sold on this book myself when I first heard about it, but my ears perked right up when it made the National Book Award long list. And then I read a reader-review on Goodreads that described Matrix as “medieval girlboss fantasia” -- and I couldn't resist. In fact, now that I've read the book, I can’t get that phrase out of my head. Because, yeah. That’s it exactly. Author Lauren Groff creates a fictional history for Marie de France (a real-life figure) that treats her as a superhero (as much as 12th century nuns can be superheroes ), able to battle hunger, poverty, and disease in male-dominated medieval society. And - let me tell you - it totally works.

There is no doubt that Groff’s imaginative and creative invention of a history -- for an actual woman-of-history with no history -- makes for an excellent read. Beautiful prose, a brilliant sense of place and time, and fascinating characters put this novel in the well-worth-reading category. It’s original and thought-provoking with layers of complexity -- and it will make an excellent book group selection.

We'll be talking more about the book and providing some background information throughout November. Then . . . mark your calendars now for our blog book discussions AND a Zoom discussion on Tuesday, January 11 (7:00 pm Eastern time; Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel). That gives you plenty of time to get your hands on the book -- and Read With Us . . . right on through the holidays!

(Besides, who doesn’t like to imagine a small society of like-minded individuals walling themselves off from the flames of the world outside? "Medieval girlboss fantasia" indeed!)

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Previous Read With Us book selections:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

 


Revving Up . . . for October

October is here!  A month full of beautiful fall landscapes (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), pumpkin spice everything, and tempting miniature candy bars. Seriously, October is one of my favorite months of the year.

So let's get our October engines revving, shall we?

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On the first Monday of the month, I share random things that have caught my eye. Interesting articles, little factoids, and inspiring this-and-that, for the most part. Things that might help get your day started in a revved-up kind of way.

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Let's start things off with a quote . . . 

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
            --- W.B. Yeats

Every week, I find a quote that suits my mood and I write it in my (old school) planner . . . right at the top where I am reminded of it each day. This week, I want to acknowledge the change-of-seasons magic I'm seeing all around me. I want to tune my senses into the sights, the smells, the sounds, and all the feels of fall. (And maybe I'll even grab a PSL . . . so I can enjoy the taste, too!)

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Let's move on to some . . . book talk. If you're a Reader, you probably love this time of year. Fall is always reserved for the biggest book releases of the season (lining up with most of the major literary award deadlines AND the holiday gift-giving season) -- but this year, there are EVEN MORE big book releases than usual. Why? Oh, because of the pandemic, of course. (What hasn't it impacted, huh?)

Anyway. Lots of books! Lots of really GOOD books.
But how to decide which books to read first?

Well. Literary Hub has put together a little flowchart to help you decide!

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(And . . . stay tuned for the latest Read With Us book announcement coming tomorrow.)
(HINT: It's a book on the flowchart.)

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Next, I've got a little-bit-factoid, little-bit-try-this. Last month, I read a horrifying little article in the New York Times about The Cotton Tote Crisis. As in . . . how did an environmental solution (reusable cotton tote bags) become part of the problem?

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Cotton tote bags (like the three I have hanging on the back of my bathroom/dressing room door here) have created an entirely new environmental problem. It turns out that ONE organic cotton tote . . . needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production. That's DAILY use for 54 years!!! (And I have 3 bags just right there on that one door handle, and that translates to daily use for 162 years.) (Yikes.) What's the deal, you ask? Well. Cotton . . . is very water intensive to process. And there are, of course, the forced labor issues. And . . . you can't recycle or compost most textiles, including organic cotton.

What to do? Here's an article with a few simple suggestions for what to do with your resusable tote collection. My strategy from here on out? Not to grab any new bags (because apparently I have enough to last for several lifetimes as it is).

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In the Express Yourself Department . . . did you know that there is a World Emoji Day?  (I totally missed it, but apparently it's celebrated on July 17 each year.)

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Anyway, Adobe Products released their 2021 Global Emoji Trend Report on World Emoji Day back in July with some (not so surprising) results: People like using emojis to express their feelings and show empathy in a world of digital communication. You can read the results here. And you can see all the new emojis coming out sometime in 2021/2022 here. (My favorite is the melting face emoji. . . )

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Are you looking for something pumpkin-y to make this fall? (And I'm not talking food.)

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Here are three fiber-y ideas for you:

Here's a sweet little pumpkin pincushion to make (which would also look very cute and festive without any pins) (just sayin) from Doodle & Stitch. It's a simple design - you don't need pattern pieces - and the directions are included in the post. You just need felt and some stuffing! (Stitching can be done on a sewing machine or by hand.)

If you feel like knitting up some pumpkins, there are tons of patterns on Ravelry. I've made this one before (BONUS! It's a freebie!). If you're looking for something a little more . . . complete . . . this one is is adorable -- and you could create an entire pumpkin patch (not free). And I love the shape of this pumpkin pattern - available with a knit AND a crochet option (another freebie!).

Or maybe you want to try your hand at sculpted needle felting? Pumpkins (like the ones I made, above) are a great place to start! You can nab a kit (with everything you need to make more than 3 pumpkins, including detailed instructions and access to a video tutorial) from Felted Sky.

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And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us.

Happy October, everyone.