Tag Archives: Contentment

Can you smell the cinnamon?

21 Nov

There’s nothing quite like baking pumpkin pie with the best dad in the world. 🙂 I hope all of you enjoy your yummy food tomorrow. Though Thanksgiving is traditionally a day that we spend being thankful for what we have, I think it’s also important to realize that each one of us should take a small amount of time to ourselves. Whether it means taking a walk in the woods or reading for about 20 minutes, we all need a break from people sometimes in order to appreciate the moment, and to just be. 

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Why we need more memoirists.

10 Nov

In the right hands, a memoir is the flecks of gold panned out of a great, muddy river. A memoir is those flecks melted down into a shapable liquid that can be molded and hammered into a single bright band to be worn on a finger, something you could point to and say, “This? Oh, this is my life.” Everyone has a muddy river, but very few have the vision, patience, and talent to turn it into something so beautiful. That is why the writer matters, so that we can not only learn from her experience but find a way to shape our own. -Ann Patchett, afterword of Autobiography of a Face

Though I do love everything about this quote from the afterword of Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face, the last line of the quote is what really speaks to me. Since I am in the process of writing my own memoir, over the past few months I’ve vowed to read more memoirs to gain a greater understanding of the genre I’m trying to be a part of. Spending more time reading memoirs rather than fiction, I’ve begun to realize what’s so appealing about them. Memoirs tell the stories of people…they dive deep into the love, pain, fear, excitement, love, and joy that has filled each and every one of those stories. People love reading about people. That’s a fact. However, more than that, I think memoirs allow readers to find pieces of themselves in the memoirist, even though the understanding behind those pieces may feel unclear. Either way, those pieces, however different, provide connection…a sense of belonging that was otherwise lacking.

It may seem obvious that the desire for more memoirists in our society is strong. However, though that may be true, the fact of the matter is that writing about one’s own life isn’t easy. It’s hard. Really, really hard. It’s the process of stripping away every mask that you’ve hidden behind for much of your life. It’s what happens when you force your true self out into the harsh light of day, continually resisting the urge to look away in shame. In my opinion, writing a memoir shows vulnerability. It shows courage, strength, and every emotion that we experience throughout our lives. Through vulnerability, it shows authenticity in its rarest form, and that in itself is truly miraculous.

Through reading Lucy Grealy’s memoir, Autobiography of a Face, I’ve started to understand just what memoirists can offer. Other than providing us with the obvious pieces that connect to form a complete, living, breathing life, memoirists give us the opportunity to embrace our own vulnerabilities rather than shrinking behind them. They allow us to come face to face with the contentment that results from being able to face your past, scars and all, head on. They give us the chance to find our true selves, no matter how frightening or foreign that part of us may be. They present us with the opportunity to love ourselves, which in turn allows others to love us just as much, if not more.

When in Ireland, travel to push through writer’s block.

3 Jul

After yesterday’s post (When in Ireland, write through the uncertainty) I have been really introspective. Introspective about my writing, my life, my current experiences. Though I normally get introspective when I talk about my writing, I was especially introspective last night.

I’ve been told that travel is great for writers because being in a new place with new people can help boost creativity and the writer’s spark that most writers can understand on some level. I agree that travel is a great way to broaden one’s perspective in order to create a writing style with more variety. However, what about those times when you’re traveling and you’re just blocked? Completely and utterly blocked.

Other than the uncertainty post I wrote yesterday, I’m pretty much stuck in a rut. I know I need to write. I need it like every single person on Earth needs water. However, I just can’t seem to grab hold of something that takes more than a day to write. I’m writing daily blog posts, and those are hard enough to get out these days. I’m used to my blog posts being pretty easy to write out. Even the posts that tend to be pretty emotionally heavy, the looming thought that I’ll feel better once I get the words out is what pushes me forward, what pushes me to keep typing until the only thing that I feel is relief, relaxation, and maybe happiness. Recently though, writing my blog posts has been hard. I love it. I do. I’ve felt so much happier since beginning this blog last November, and it’s never been something that I’ve had to force. I’ve always wanted to write my daily posts. I still do want to write them, even now. I guess it’s just not quite as easy right now.

As writers, I know we all get stuck though. And those of us who are true writers push through the writer’s block and keep on going. And that’s what I’m doing. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not faced with moments where I’m staring at my computer screen waiting for the words to come to me. Waiting for them, all the while knowing that they will come eventually. They will. They have to. They are what I know, who I am, and what makes me feel alive.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

30 May

In continuing with my “Barbara Kingsolver kick,” I read Prodigal Summer. It was a bit different from the other Kingsolver novels that I have read because of its strong focus on nature and the natural world that surrounds us, but I think that is one of the reasons that I really loved it (since I am a mountain/nature girl at heart). Here’s the synopsis according to Amazon.com:

Barbara Kingsolver’s fifth novel is a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel’s intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.

Of the three “stories” that made up the novel (Mr. Garrett, Lusa, and Deanna), I was most drawn to the character of Deanna. She is a wildlife biologist that lives alone in the southern Appalachian mountains who observes coyotes that live in the surrounding wilderness that she calls her home. I think I was most drawn to Deanna because of her satisfaction with living alone and isolated from the world, content to live among nature rather than humans. That is not to say that I would isolate myself that severely with no contact with the outside world. However, I understand the fact that Deanna is content with living among the wilderness. In that sense, she is not alone. She’s surrounded by woods and creatures that she has a strong connection with than she does with humans. Don’t get me wrong. I’m social. However, I love the mountains. Numerous times this past semester, I left campus and headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway (only about a 7 minute drive from campus). I’d bring along my camera and a book, and I’d be perfectly content. There were times when I did bring along a friend or two, and that was fun. However, I was most content when I went alone. I think that is because when it was just me, my camera, and a book, I was able to move at my own pace, stop at whatever overlook I wanted, and sit gazing out at the Blue Ridge mountains for as long as I wanted. I could just sit and appreciate the beauty around me, and most of the time, I left the Parkway with a clearer head and a stronger love for the Blue Ridge Mountains that I am so happy to call home.

Therefore, if you love nature, I highly recommend this book. It’s amazing!

Barbara Kingsolver Quotes.

12 May

Since I’ve been on a recently discovered Barbara Kingsolver kick lately (I just finished The Bean Trees and am now reading Pigs In Heaven), I thought I’d share some Barbara Kingsolver quotes since I haven’t done a quotes post in a while (Quotes obtained from goodreads.com).

  1. “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
  2. “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
  3. “It’s what you do that makes your soul.”
  4. “What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?”
  5. “If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.”
  6. “In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”
  7. “Morning always comes.”
  8. “Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job…And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.”
  9. “Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.”
  10. “It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. ”
  11. “To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.”
  12. “She kept swimming out into life because she hadn’t yet found a rock to stand on.”
  13. “In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again
  14. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.”
  15. “That was when we smelled the rain. It was so strong it seemed like more than just a smell. When we stretched out our hands we could practically feel it rising up from the ground. I don’t know how a person could ever describe that scent.”
  16. “If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can.”
  17. “It’s one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else.”
  18. “Anybody can get worked up, if they have the intention. It’s peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose.”
  19. “People read books to escape the uncertainties of life.”
  20. “Don’t wait for the muse. She has a lousy work ethic. Writers just write.”

Happy Saturday everyone! Is there a particular author that has some of your favorite quotes? What are they?

Become Aware.

25 Mar

I went to my first early morning meditation class today at Asheville Community Yoga. Even though it was raining most of the day, it was nice to be leaving campus before much of the campus was awake. I love the quiet that comes with the rain in the mountains, and I’m happy I got to experience it “by myself” this morning. There were only me and 3 other people at ACY for the early morning meditation (not including Michael, the instructor), which was actually kind of nice. For the first part of the class, we spent time “waking up our bodies” so that when we sat for meditation we’d be awake and focused. The beginning exercises felt good, especially the stretches and the movements that allowed us to make our bodies feel as comfortable as possible (like massaging our neck and back).

We then sat down, and we began by counting our breaths. We’d inhale and count 1-2-3 and then count again on the exhale. After about 5 or 6 breaths this way, Michael rang a bell in order to signal the beginning of our meditation. Michael said that we’d sit and meditate for 20 minutes, and then the ringing of the bell would indicate the end of the meditation. Michael reminded us throughout to concentrate on our breath when we started to get lost/when our mind began to wander. In the beginning, I thought that 20 minutes of sitting and breathing would feel like forever. However, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Though I did have to return to counting my breaths a good bit, the experience was quite eye-opening.

Through the simple act of sitting and breathing in and out, I became more aware of myself….more aware of my body…and more aware of the world around me. It was a great way to start my morning, especially since I felt refreshed and prepared to begin my day of studying and homework. I can’t wait to go back in a week!

I hope you all have had a happy Sunday.