I’ve been a languid writer of late, everyone. I know that discipline begets inspiration, and both of these noble qualities are eluding me recently. Is it laziness? Busyness? Preoccupation? The jury is out. But I look at the page, and I’m frustrated. I push the page with the back of my pencil, then walk away. “Maybe tomorrow,” I think. My mind reels with a thousand thoughts in no direction.

Writing is a sport, a practice, a discipline. And I am out of shape.

Yet still, in this dry time, I am not wholly lacking. Writing is good for my soul and my mind, and I need it. But it is not the only thing. Recently, the rhythms taking place around my kitchen are keeping me and comforting me and inspiring me. Menu planning and setting a table, chopping vegetables and melting butter in my cast iron, deglazing a pan and sticking a skewer in a muffin. These routines of planning and cooking and cleaning and repeating are just so familiar to me. This is what I grew up around. These are the activities that comfort me, that I understand, that make me feel like my feet are on the ground again.

Because even when my well is feeling dry, I can look to the greats– rifle through my cookbooks and my mother’s salvaged copies of Cooks Illustrated — and make something worth sharing. When I can’t find my way, I can find my way through my beaten up old recipe journal. I can feel inspired, and I can feel that power of creating something good and giving it freely to those I love.

I am, as Shauna says, getting to the place, where the most important words are, “I love you, and dinner’s at 6.” And that feels plenty inspiring.

food

Chris and I are approaching a young year of homeownership. Such a low milemarker on this life together but worthwhile nonetheless, for us at least.

The other weekend, as we stayed inside on one particularly summery Saturday to chip away at some lingering projects, I felt this peace here in this little house– despite the not-so-distant wish that we were at the pool instead of vacuuming. The peace is just this: that when you love your home and the ones you share it with, not much can compete.

The older I’ve gotten, the more hard, demanding, impactful decisions I’ve had to make– like that’s any surprise. To take this job or that. To move here or there. To commit to this or that. And what I’ve realized is that you can cruise through this life. Go here, take that, sure that will work, why not, that seems like a decent fix.

But I think about this little house and this little life that Chris and I have carved out, and all that is good and joyful has not been a product of nonchalance or acquiescence. I’m learning– like hopefully many young people turning into adults– that the good life is the thoughtful life.

Chris and I belabor over decisions– sometimes to a paralyzing, anesthetic extent. But still, we think about it. We think about our motives, we pray, we wait, we listen. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this means we don’t make a decision or sometimes we say no, but at least when we do make a choice, we know why we’re doing it. This house on this street with this little porch and backyard is a result of that. The little dog collapsing at my feet was a result of that. Our physical life all around us is bursting with stories of conversations and patience and sorting and understanding.

Now, I want to pull all the other things under this umbrella of thoughtfulness. That which is routine, innate– that which comes so natural because it’s so easy– that too bows to the lens of discernment and wisdom. Because the fruit of these choices is contentment and, God bless it, gratitude. Or like how I feel in this home now, as if absolutely nothing could be better for us.

backyard

This is a busy season. Isn’t every season? But seriously. We’ve been flung from shower to wedding to shower to birthday. And let’s be honest, these events can hold your time hostage (or, really what you perceive to be your time…). More travel, another gift, and look, I forgot a card again. Shocker.

Then I remember the comments I hear from co-workers and other acquaintances casually referencing, ‘well, I’m not going to any more weddings these days. Everyone I know is just getting divorced now.’

I’ve had a bad attitude, rotten really. Because here’s the thing. Why do I not bask in these celebrations? For isn’t this what life is made of and made for? Aren’t these the things that make life worth it…all? People who love each other so much they want to commit their lives to serving the other? People who love each other so much that they want to make a life together? People who love one another so much they want to celebrate one person’s existence, simply because that person is here and they are a joy?

fathers day

I was with all my sisters this weekend to celebrate my dad for father’s day, and it was these weirdos around this weird, somewhat contrived holiday that reminded me this life is good.

I think this is what they call perspective. [Quickly followed by a sincere apology for my rotten attitude about all the social engagements of recent.] I’m proud to be doing this life among so many admirable and delightful people who are doing brave and beautiful things, like get married and have babies. And I hope and pray against a time where all this joy ends.

As a disclaimer, I am quite aware my blog has fallen to the wayside of recent. Of course, I’d love to rectify it, but let’s be honest, there are other important things that are detracting from it. I’m becoming okay (sorta, kinda, maybe) with the rhythms that are right for me now, which are different than the ones when I began this blog, and will be different in another year. But I would love to spend more time here. Anyway, let’s move on…

Recently I’ve been trying to take a harder look at myself. Self-reflection: truly, deeply, and at times, painfully.  And for the first time in a while, it’s been self-reflection with the hope and desire to change. See, I’ve noticed some things in my self that I haven’t particularly been proud of. Bitterness, anger, judgment, to name a few. And I’m not impressed.

Instead of the casual, “I know myself” and “I’m self-aware” speak that I’ve been accustomed to saying, I’m ready to know myself and want to be different, or at least, better. Because I’m learning, yes now, I’m learning that there’s a difference between those two things. And you can have either without the other.

So I’m seeing in myself a lack of grace. Blurring lines between was is true and what is right. That space between what is certain and just, and the love and acceptance that transcends all of what we deserve, that’s the space I’m lost in. Spinning around like a dog chasing his tail, too focused on what I want and what I think to see the field in front of my eyes.

All this to say, I’m learning about myself because I need to. I don’t want to be the person who becomes more bitter or cynical or negative with age. I want to be the woman whose character is more like an aura– radiating and full.

But for now, I’m gonna go play with the corgi in my kitchen and drink a glass of wine. Because sometimes learning grace means first learning you just don’t got it all.

wendell at the pond

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the content we create and the content we seek. And honestly, I’m coming up frustrated. Because here’s the thing y’all: recently, I’ve been bored. Like really bored. Then, I went for a walk with my crazy corgi puppy and I felt rain and I felt this visceral anger at the lasting winter cold. Then I read Wise Blood and my jaw dropped and my heart raced. Gosh, I even think I started sweating. And then, I went to an Easter service, and I cried and my broken bits all felt redeemed.

What I mean to say is: I’m bored with what’s out there. On so many magazines, in so many publications, on so many screens. I’m tired of the same conversations and the same aesthetics. And I’m tired of irony and satire without depth and feeling.

About a million people posted this article last week to all sorts of social media outlets. And it bears repeating. People nowadays need authenticity, not talking heads or inch-deep rhetoric whose most intelligent contribution is a snarky remark. We need conviction and honesty. We need some earnest voices, living in earnest places, loving what they love.

I went to The Listening Room last month where this singer-songwriter named Twain played. I’ve seen enough singer-songwriters to know that for so many of them- if you’ve seen one, you’ve seem them all. Except this was different. There was something about his earnestness on stage, his rawness and his imperfection, but yet above all his conviction, that kept us enraptured. At the end of his 30 minute set, the audience stood to their feet as he meekly bowed off the stage, escaping into some dark corridor. The standing ovation felt like a wave of communal demand– we need more of this.

So here I am, looking outside all the “usual” places for inspiration. I’m going back to the wilderness, going back to the old literature, and going back into myself for what I will create, not emulate. I’m looking to relationships, and spirituality, and isolation for the meaning I’m not finding in the temporal fleeting trends of this season.

On that note, I leave you with this:

Great art must be achieved through the integrity of its own internal principles. Irony alone has no principles and no inherent purpose beyond mockery and destruction. The best examples of irony artfully expose lies, yet irony in itself has no aspiration to honesty, or anything else for that matter.

So, where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit? Where does Glory Hallelujah meet integrity? 

-Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll, “Irony is Ruining our Culture”