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June 2020

Still Rooted. Still Flowing.

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Here we are.
At the midpoint of 2020.
(Hard to believe, I know.) (Time is so out-of-whack.)
(SO. OUT. OF. WHACK.)

Usually . . . in the Before Times . . . about now I'd be looking back at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I'd be assessing. Figuring out if my goals were working. If they were actually a reasonable set of guidelines. Or not. And plot out where I might need to go next.

But this year?

Well.

First of all, I didn't ever SET any goals for myself for 2020.

(Prescient? Ummm. No.)

I didn't go along with the "20 for 20" thing.

(Clairvoyant? Ummm. No.)

It was just . . . with a word like "flow" . . . well. You just don't want to box yourself in now, do you?

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Instead, I set myself a few wide-open intentions for 2020:

  • be healthy and get strong
  • practice the things I love
  • pay attention to the moon
  • be kind
  • let love flow
  • focus on flexibility and stretching
  • keep my eyes open
  • be mindful of the world I live in
  • SHOW UP
  • make space

Hmmm.

I kinda look like a freaking genius now, don't I? 

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Because never ever in my history . . . have I established a set of intentions that so perfectly fits the reality . . . of the life that is unfolding. (But maybe we could all say that for whatever word we picked this year. Because these words do seem to show us things -- if we allow them to.)

So. Where I am at the mid-point with my word?

FLOW.

Point yourself in a direction.
See where it takes you.
And ride it out, baby. Ride it out.

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How about you? How are you doing? And if you have a word for 2020, how is it serving you?

 


Start. Your. D@mn. Engines.

Yep. It's the last Monday in June. And I see no significant improvement in my Mood.
(Working on it though.) 
Let's go. Time to . . . 

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As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend.

(And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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"Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up."
        --- Brené Brown

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I'm showing up.
It might not be pretty.
But here I am.
(How about you?)

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It's the tail end of June already.
And the end of Pride Month. 

Ever wonder how the rainbow flag came to be the symbol of the LGBTQIA movement? Well. Here's the story. (And it's a good one!)

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When Erin was a little girl, one of our favorite books to read together was Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. For both of us, that book was pure wonder! The colors. The textures. The story. The magic. I was entranced by the quilt behind the story. (And the colors.) Erin was completely taken by a little girl who could fly!!! 

Ever since seeing that book for the first time, I have been enamored with the work of Faith Ringgold. I was able to see it in person when I was in Washngton D.C. during the mid-90s and caught a special exhibition. I was thrilled over the weekend when I found this blog post from Selvedge Magazine about her work -- which includes a couple of interviews. I highly recommend spending some time getting to know Faith Ringgold. (And if you haven't discovered Tar Beach . . . oh. do check it out! You'll be delighted!)

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If you've ever seen Hamilton, you already know this:

You'll never be satisfied . . . (ahem) with seeing it once.

Take it from me. I've seen it FOUR times. And every time - before the first act is even over - I'm already telling myself I MUST (simply MUST) see it again.

So.

I am counting down the days until July 3 -- when the film version of the Broadway musical comes to Disney Plus. (I signed up for Disney Plus just for the occasion!) If you haven't been able to see Hamilton yet, here's your chance! (Or if you're like me and just haven't been able to see it ENOUGH.)

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I know, I know. I wish she wasn't still around either. But Corona Lisa still has Things To Say.

First, you probably already saw this, but just in case you didn't . . . here's a little PSA for you. The FDA put out a "do not use" warning about hand sanitizer made be a company called Eskbiochem last week. The sanitizer uses a toxic ingredient (methanol) that can be absorbed through the skin. So you might want to check out the list of santizing products they make. 

Next, are you wondering about going to the dentist these days? I was due for my regular cleaning appointment in late March. Obviously, that was canceled. But the office called to reschedule. I asked a lot of questions . . . and found out that my dentist had installed an entirely new filtering HVAC system AND implemented many coronavirus "practices." I was convinced, and I set up my appointment for late July (it took a while to get in because I requested a first-of-day appointment to lessen my risk even further). Here's an article from the Washington Post about what to look for as you return to the dentist. (Turns out it's a whole lot safer than going for . . . oh, say a drink at a bar.)

And finally. I know most of you are already pros at wearing your masks. But here are some helpful tips for finding, proper fitting, and wearing masks (from the NY Times). Maybe you can share them with a new mask-wearer in your life.

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Well. It may be awhile before we're welcome in Europe, but we can still take an Armchair Adventure. This week, here's an incredible journey to the Dolomites in Italy. Happy (armchair) travels to you!

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 


Fridays Are For Poetry

If you've been reading along this week, you know I've been in A Mood.

And whenever I'm in A Mood -- any kind of mood, really -- I can always find poetry that mirrors the way I feel; that gives me the words I need at the moment. I've been reading poetry for a long time . . . long enough to know which poets might best suit my current mood. This week? I grabbed Jane Hirshfield off my shelf. I opened the book at random (which is how I read poetry) and immediately found a few poems that were perfect for me for now.

I'm going to share one of my favorite Jane Hirshfield poems today. I know I've shared it before (it's been a long time, though), so forgive me for the repeat. It just seems particularly relevant.

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Balance
Jane Hirshfield

Balance is noticed most when almost failed of --  

in an elephant's delicate wavering
on her circus stool, for instance,
or that moment
when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back.

There are, too, its mysterious departures.

Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked,
a metal bowl clangs to the floor,
the weight of drying water all that altered;
a painting vertical for years
one morning - why? - requires a restoring tap.

You have felt it disappearing
from your own capricious heart --
a restlessness enters, the smallest leaning begins.

Already then inevitable,
the full collision,
the life you will describe afterward always as 'after.'

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)

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Today's poem was published in Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems, by Jane Hirshfield , 2016, Bloodaxe Books.  Information about the poet can be found here

 


Like . . . REALLY Unraveled!

Look at it . . . 

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Just sitting there.

Looking all ready to . . . Become Something!

(Fooled you, though.)

Just Monday morning, those lovely balls of yarn were behaving ever so nicely all knit up as Clues #1-3 of Kirsten Kapur's current mystery shawl. The yarn (Jill Draper's Ansel) is lovely and knits up beautifully. The design is interesting and clever, and the clues flow so well from each other (as Kirsten's designs always do). It's entertaining knitting, for sure, and I know the shawl will be a stunner when it's all finished.

But you know what?

It's just not my style.

I was not completely sold after the first clue, and was really having some doubts after the second. But . . . I knew I needed to give the whole thing a bit more "real estate" to judge it fairly, so I knit the third clue. And just kept thinking to myself . . . hmmmmm. I'm thinking no. But I decided to see what happens with the fourth clue before making any final decisions about continuing.

When I saw clue 4 (which, to be fair, does look like fun knitting and a very clever design), I knew that it just wasn't going to work for me.

So I ripped.
And re-wound.
Totally unraveled.

This year's mystery shawl will be beautiful, I know. And I can't wait to see all the other knitters' stunning finished shawls. I'll be content, though, with my decision to unravel. No regrets. Because I will have listened to my own heart . . .  and just let it go!

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What's the most surprising thing you've ever unraveled? And did you regret letting it go?

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Be sure to join Kat today for more tales of "unraveling."


Out of Whack

I've been feeling a bit . . . discombobulated . . . lately.
It's not a big deal. It's just kinda . . .there.
I'm not sure exactly what it is.
But probably part State of the World, part Global Pandemic, and part Always-Burning-Toxic-Dumpster-Hellfire. Coupled with just some general, everyday, bland personal malaise.

Basically, I'm out of balance.

Too much yang. Need a little yin.
(Or vice versa.)

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So I've started the day with yoga.
Followed by a long meditation session.
Now I'm gonna put in my best balancing earrings. . . 
and keep my head down for the rest of the day while I try to find my flow.

What do you do . . . when you're feeling out of balance?

 

 


First Monday of Summer

Happy Summer!

I hope you all enjoyed a lovely solstice evening. It felt pretty weird for Tom and I not to be hosting our annual solstice party. That said, it was kind of nice to enjoy a low-key summer evening with just the two of us. 

And now it's the first Monday of summer. Time to . . .

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As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend.

(And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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"Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness."    --- Mary Oliver

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Like many of you, I am working especially hard these days to learn all I can about race in America. It's hard work - but I'm determined to listen and learn, apply those learnings in my day-to-day life, and - bottom line - be a better person and do what I can to bring about change.

Here's an article from the Columbia Journalism Review that explains why it is appropriate to capitalize 'Black' -- and not 'white' when referring to racial groups. It's worth the read! (And also, just to add, the Associated Press style guide did announce that it had changed its writing style guide - the "bible for journalists" - to capitalize the "b" in Black last Friday.)

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Take a few moments and scroll through these gorgeous images by artist Tawny Chatmon in her collection The Redemption 2018-2019. Breathtakingly beautiful. (If you click on any of the images on the site, you can see a bigger version and then you can scroll through each piece.)

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I have followed Lewis Miller - of Flower Flash fame - for years and years on Instagram. (Flowers are magical! He proves it every day.) His floral designs are incredible, always an inspiration -- and the "flashes" he creates on the streets of NYC are AMAZING. You can read more about him in this profile article from the New York Times -- and if you're looking for some inspiration in your Instagram feed, he is truly worth following.

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And now . . . the biggest rabbit hole I've discovered in a while! Each Sunday (beginning last January), The Atlantic adds to Fifty -- a photo collection from each state in the nation. (A new state collection is added each Sunday.) Oh, we may not be able to travel very easily right now . . . but we can certainly visit each state in the US through these incredible photo collections. 

Go ahead. Click in. Get lost in this armchair adventure!

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 

 


Sharing a Poem . . . and Something More

A poem . . . on a beautiful day in a week that's been full of beautiful days!

Enjoy.

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When Life Seems a To-Do List
Marjorie Saiser

When the squares of the week fill
with musts and shoulds,

when I swim in the heaviness of it,
the headlines, the fear and hate,

then with luck, something like a slice of moon
will arrive clean as bone

and beside it on that dark slate
a star will lodge near the cusp

and with luck I will have you
to see it with, the two of us,

fools stepping out the backdoor
in our pajamas.

Is that Venus? -- I think so -- Let's
call it Venus, cuddling up to the moon

and there are stars further away
sending out rays that will not

reach us in our lifetimes
but we are choosing, before the chaos

starts up again,
to stand in this particular light.

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)

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Today's poem was published in The Woman in the Moon, by Marjorie Saiser, 2018, The Backwaters Press.  Information about the poet can be found here

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The Something More. If you're looking for a meaningful way to observe Juneteenth today, check out this special collection of historical photographs, poems, and articles from The New York Times. And if you're just looking for a good explanation of Juneteenth (how it came to be and why it's particularly relevant now), here's a good article from Vox.

 


Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2020

Saturday is the summer solstice . . . so it's time for me to wrap up my spring reading with a Top Five books list.

I read a lot during the last 3 months! I had made a serendipitous pick-up at my library the day before it closed for the pandemic, so I had a fresh stack of 7 books to read. Plus there were audiobook downloads and ebook loans and books from my own library to keep me occupied. Truly an embarrassment of riches!

Here we go . . . with the Top Five: Best of My Spring Reading 2020 list:

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I was reading this extraordinary book, Aperiogon by Colum McCann, just as the pandemic shutdowns were beginning. This book will stay with me forever! Not because of my timing (although I will probably always have a link in my brain between this book and the world falling apart all around me) but because it may be the best book I've ever read. It is a brilliant, layered portrait of friendship, grief, and moving forward under the most challenging of circumstances. It is . . . moving, powerful, poignant -- and unlike any other book I have read.  I highly, highly recommend this one (and especially the audiobook version, where it is a special treat to hear it read by the author).

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I have read most of Anne Enright's books over the years, but somehow missed reading her 2007 Man Booker Prize winning entry The Gathering. It may not have been the best book to read during the early days of the pandemic, but there it was . . . in my library pile. The Gathering is a beautiful book of characters and feelings, and probably won’t appeal to those craving action. That said, it is a gorgeous and very precise look at the workings of one woman’s mind loosed by tragedy and reflection; a redemption story of family love and memory, beautifully written and tenderly told. I recommend this one especially for readers who enjoy contemporary Irish literature.

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The Far Field by new author Madhuri Vijay was another book in my pandemic library pile. I really enjoyed this one -- a beautiful and compelling read about good intentions gone bad. It builds slowly . . . until, suddenly, you realize you just can’t put it down. The writing is lovely -- clean and crisp, with wonderful descriptions of the setting; the characters are well-developed and believable. I’ll look forward to more books from this new author. Highly recommended.

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I debated leaving this book, Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, off my Top Five list . . . because it is a re-read for me. But then I decided I liked it too much to leave it off! Last fall I read The Topeka School . . . which reminded me how much I love Ben Lerner’s writing. I decided then that I would re-read his Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04 over the summer, just to immerse myself in Lerner’s words again. (I guess you could say that Ben Lerner is my literary “crush” . . .) I was a bit apprehensive about re-reading. Frequently I regret re-reading books I really loved the first time around because they just don’t stand up to the test of time for me. Not to worry, though. I enjoyed Leaving the Atocha Station as much (maybe even more) with a second read. I highly recommend this one, knowing that it won’t be to everyone’s taste. But for my friends who appreciate words and how they can be formed (more than plot) . . . well, this is a book for them!

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And now I have the series of books that got me through the pandemic spring: all four installments of the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowlings). While they aren't perfect, they are certainly entertaining! I was surprised and delighted with the series -- perfect for my mood during the early pandemic, stay-at-home days. I enjoyed the developing characters of Cormoran and Robin, and found the murder storyline to be entertaining and engaging. Excellent storytelling -- and I especially enjoyed the  fabulous narration by Robert Glenister. I'm ready for a break from these books now (until a new installment comes out later this summer), but I highly recommend them for your summer reading. (Note: These are not "cozy" mysteries. If you're squeamish, there is some gruesomeness and gore. . .)

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How about you?
What books would make it to your Top Five list of spring reading?

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If you want to see what I'm reading now, or check out my recent reviews on Goodreads, just check out the sidebar here on my blog.  You can find me here on Goodreads.  And you can read my other Top Five lists by clicking the links below:

Top Five: Best of My Winter Reading 2020

Top Five: Best of My Fall Reading 2019

Top Five: Best of My Summer Reading 2019

 


An Altogether Different Destination

This week . . . I'm supposed to be biking through the Scottish countryside.

But I'm not.
Of course.

Instead, I took a little trip to "sleeve island."

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Yep.
That's two sets of sleeves there. Adult-sized sleeves for this cardigan for me. And baby-sized sleeves for this cardigan for a gift (for a great niece due next month).

An altogether different destination, indeed.

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Head on over to Kat's today for more Unraveled posts.