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”

Sometimes I feel like there’s this misconception about me– or you or anyone really. The idea is that we have arrived. It’s something I’ve heard before of me and of others– “How did you do it?” And “How does it feel now that you’ve accomplished this thing?”

I just worked.

And it feels the same.

Here’s the thing, whether your craft is writing or building relationships or hosting dinners or taking photographs, there is no moment where we kick up our feet, dust off our hands, and say, that was a great accomplishment. I can be done now. That’s just not how it works when you’ve got this thing in you that must be refined and reworked and shaped and shared and repeated. Athletes play until their bodies don’t let them anymore. Writers write until they lose them selves or their minds.

I barely remember any “release dates.” What I remember is the process because that’s where the meaning is for me. I remember tears and anguish, and I remember inspiration and dizzy typing. Getting published just seems like a, oh that’s nice that this wasn’t entirely for myself. Or the occasional, hooray I can feed myself today!

I say this now because, one, I don’t want anyone to have misconceptions about me. And two, because I’m feeling restless and I want to be honest about this life I lead. I’m restless for understanding what all this writing is for. I’m restless for understanding my platform and my audience and my future. There is no arrival here yet, I assure you.

And now I’m turning this page back to you: did you ever feel like you arrived? Do you feel restless with your call? Tell me I’m not just a crazy-lady. Or tell me I am. It’s cool and I won’t be offended.

[Soundtrack for the post: U2 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For']

I wish I could tell you how many blog posts, over the years, that I’ve started and never finished. Not because I lost motivation, not because I got lazy, but because it became– for lack of a better term– not worth it. Or, not what I want to put out into cyberspace or on a page somewhere.

In today’s waterfalls of content, it’s hard not to feel like I’m just adding to this gushing white noise. You get enough of it already– between recipes and listicles and tutorials, you can learn it all with just a few bookmarks in your browser. This puts a writer in an interesting place.

But I guess my purpose has never been to teach you anything, really. It’s been to be here, and ask the questions that don’t yet have answers. To be here and to reflect this life, and maybe your life, and these joys, these inspirations, these dark places and the good ones, in the hope that I’m not alone and that you’re not alone.

Bear with me here, but in CS Lewis’s ever-after, there is sinking and there is standing firm. In the world we live in now, the qualities which are most real aren’t yet solid to us– grace, compassion, truth, loyalty, wisdom, relationships. We understand these concepts but they are ethereal, irresolute, not physical. Our hope is that these are the lasting things though, the most real, the most infinte.

But the things on this earth that are solid? Firm? Tactile? They fade into nothingness as these lives pass. And I don’t want to concern myself with these things, these sinking things, regardless of how solid they feel right now.

All that philosophical nonsense to say, I don’t think my writing will be the writing to teach you something, anything. But, if you want to engage the mysteries and complexities of this day-to-day living, trying to discern what is real and what is sinking, and what is loving and what is less, let’s keep talking.

Am I crazy for craving this? Maybe. But I’ll still be here, writing my crazy heart out.

[Also, if you want to have a conversation about Wendell Berry, or pie baking, or puppies, or Jason Isbell's music, and how all of these things engage these mysteries and give us hope, I'd like to do that too.]