What I’m Into – June 2014

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Summer always seems to sneak up on me, and this year was no exception.  June felt like even more of a whirl, because we moved into our new house the first week of the month.  We’re well into July, and we are still unpacking, but happily, our beautiful house is starting to feel like home.

In addition to packing, this month has been stuffed to the gills with volunteering, a quick weekend trip to see my brother and his family,  and the wonderfully busyness of musical theatre creativity, with Phantom rehearsals in full swing for the better part of the summer.

 Blogisphere Bounty

The Nester: Why the World Needs the Makers to Say No Boldly  

 {I read Myquillyn’s blog everyday, and am a charter member to her family’s genius site, Hopeologie.  This post is one of the many reasons I am a fan.}

I’ve learned that I am the ONLY person who will protect my own creativity and livelihood.

~Myquillyn Smith

 

Addie Zierman: 10 Books in My Writer’s Toolbox , Summer Is For Reading & her series on blogging - brilliant!

 {I devour resource posts like these – they are one of the reasons I love the blogisphere.}

 

I don’t know how to experience summer without the silent soundtrack of someone else’s words. I breathe in the smell of sunscreen and bug repellent and damp, lake air, and it makes me want to read.

~Addie Zierman

 

Michelle DeRusha:  There’s More Than One Way To Get the Work Done (the Writing Life)   

{Michelle was one of my first friends/connections in the blogging world.  She is a fantastic writer, and I love her honesty and candor.  She regularly inspires me with her words.}

Donald Miller is correct about one thing: writing a book does demand your all. It requires a fierce dedication, unwavering perseverance, militant discipline and sacrifice. You can’t write a book without making radical adjustments to life as you know it.

But know this, too: writing a book in the midst of ordinary life may not be perfect or ideal, and it may not be what your dream of the writing life looked like way back when you were an English major, but it can be done and done well.

~Michelle DeRusha

 

Alia Joy:  Writing Questions Blog Hop 

{Alia’s writing is some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in the blogisphere.  Read all of her words that you stumble upon, I promise it will be worth it to your soul.} 

My pen is my weapon of choice to fight off the darkness that comes when depression looms, it’s my compass for navigating my messy mind, my even messier heart. It’s my mirror to show what’s really there when everything else has been washed away and only the words that speak truth remain. It’s the prayers I leak onto the page, it’s the rally cry to be all in when it’s so easy to check out. It’s my wail and lament and why God. It is the hard questions and the breadcrumb trail to find my way home.

~Alia Joy

 

Tsh Oxenreider & Family:  Hello to the Art of Simple Travel 

{I have been following Tsh’s blog and podcasts for quite some time, especially since she rebranded her blog to The Art of Simple.  I have also been very excited to see her launch this new travel blog, as she and her family experience one of my dreams in traveling the world.  Even more incredible to me is that she gets to blog, and write about a book about the whole experience.  My dream job on a platter.  I will be reading every post.  I would LOVE to write for a site like this one day.}

 As our family of five revs up to explore and travel as a daily part of our modus operandi, we craved a space to share with you our love of travel.

To encourage you to get out “there,” even if it’s a block away. To bravely think outside the box. To take risks together as a family, and to wield your privilege and responsibility wisely. To not be scared to immerse in the different.

~Tsh Oxenreider

 

Anne Lamott’s Facebook Status Updates, in particular, this one. {About her book writing process, and upcoming book.}

We stitch together quilts of meaning to keep us warm and safe, with whatever patches of beauty and utility we have on hand. We help each other laugh, against all odds. Barry Lopez was right: after all is said and done, all we have are compassion and stories.

~Anne Lamott

 

Sarah Bessey’s videos at The Work of the People - my favorite one is on detoxing from ‘not enough’ posted this month on Sarah’s blog.

 

Foodie Finds

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A SCRUMPTIOUS recipe for Panzanella Salad from Geoffrey Zakarian on The Food Network’s new show, The Kitchen.

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I’ve never been a big artichoke eater (with the exception of marinated artichoke hearts in my salads), but THIS.DISH.  Its truly the best artichoke you will ever eat — slightly buttered and salted, steamed, then grilled to perfection.  Finished off with a touch of juice from a grilled lemon on top, and served with a dipping sauce of chipotle mayo that’s slap-your-g’ma-good—this appetizer is now one of my favorite foodie finds ever.  {If you’re local to Fort Worth, you can enjoy this appetizer here.}

 

Books

What I Read

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Yes, I am one of the last people I know to read this book.  I did so purposefully.  I lost my Mom, Grandmother, Grandfather and a good few other folks to cancer, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle reading a whole book about terminally ill cancer kids.

The book really was as wonderfully written, and charming as everyone told me it would be.  Some parts were hard to read, because I had flashbacks of my own experience of losing loved ones.  But all in all, my fellow bloggers and friends were right: its a beautiful read.

I’ve never been one for ‘trigger points’ in my reading.  But I realized reading about people experiencing this disease may very well be one for me.   If you have a similar story, perhaps consider that before reading, but regardless, I strongly recommend this riveting and vulnerable read.

What I’m Reading

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler,  The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Tables In The Wilderness by Preston Yancey, The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski, Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor & Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.

HomeGoodness
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Since I’m now a full-on ‘burbs dweller, I’ve been checking out my shopping options for furnishing our new home on a budget.  People, how am I now JUST discovering the fabulousness that is HomeGoods?  

So far, I’ve found the beautiful small area rug pictured above, a handful of GORGEOUS journals–all for $4 or less {two favorites are pictured above}, a planter head/bust statue, a regular small bust that I plan to cover with chalk paint and put in my study, and a small mat for our dog’s food for the kitchen.   We also found a HUGE, soft rug for the dining room that we tried out, but it didn’t look right in the space.  {We were able to wrap it up and return it the next day, which was a helpful convenience.}   I know it will be a regular pit stop for me, as we decorate and finish moving into our new home.

What I Listened To

Sarah Mclachlan – Shine: This newest album of Sarah’s is one of the best I’ve heard from her in a long while.  Its acoustic, and soft and is a perfect fit for my mood in the summer.

All Sons & Daughters {technically a spring release, but I’m just now listening to it regularly.}

Coldplay – Ghost Stories: Though my husband disagrees, this is one of my favorite Coldplay albums to come along in the past few years.  I love the moody, introspective vibe of the record when played from start to finish.  I also LOVE blaring “A Sky Full of Stars” in my car, to get myself energized for Phantom rehearsals.

 

Hope-o-logie

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I have been LOVING this monthly service, hosted by a beautiful family of artists, including The Nester (Myquillyn Smith), Emily Freeman (of the Chatting At The Sky blog), and their dad, radio host/blogger/writer Gary Morland.  I’ve been a charter member since April, and the material they create each month is truly life-giving.

What it is and how it works: each month Hopeologie has a new theme that drives that month’s offered content, including multiple articles, DIY projects, (sometimes) videos, worksheets to help you process through the theme, as well as (my favorite feature) beautiful–and sometimes practical, like this month–printables created by Annie Barnett.

They make sure that you can download all of the material, and have given great tips on how to create your own ‘Hopeologie’ notebook.  {The cover of my own Hopeologie book has one of my favorite printables pictured above.}  Oooo, and how could I forget the podcasts?!   They are usually at least 2, which are informative, fun and funny.  (In particular, the Sister-o-logie podcast between sisters Myquillyn & Emily is always full of laughs).

So far, they’ve had themes like hospitality, rest, and imperfection – right up my alley.  If you even halfway enjoy either the Nester or Emily’s blogs,  I think you’ll enjoy Hopeologie as much as I do.

{By the way, I am in no way an affiliate, or getting compensated to say any of those things.  I just really love their work, and I think you will too.}

 

More June Favorites

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I alluded at the end of last month’s post to our moving this month.  We moved everything we own into a beautiful house that even smells new the first week of June.

This is one of the views that takes my breath away.  I’m in love with the wood beams on the ceiling of our family room, and the darkly colored wood, and cool, smooth granite in our kitchen.  I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought I’d live in a house I find so beautiful.

But even better than the aesthetics, is the way we feel in our home.  My first day there, I thought I’d miss our old house.  And our old house was also WONDERFUL.  But I didn’t miss it one bit.  This place we have found feels good.  It feels like a respite, a haven, a place to be imperfect and comfortable and a place to grow.

I’m hoping to share more pictures in the coming months as we go through the process of decorating, which only slightly terrifies me.   (I’ve been reading this fantastic book to get me through the process.)

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I very happily bought my first new pair of character shoes in years for Phantom rehearsals.  {And to be clear: I’m not performing in the version of Phantom that 99% of the world’s population knows, the Andrew Lloyd Webber version on Broadway.  This is the same story by a different composer, written by Maury Yeston.  The script is by Arthur Kopit.  Its beautiful and fun and a dreamy, dreamy show to be a part of.  If you’re local to Dallas/Fort Worth, treat yourself to a wonderful afternoon/evening of theatre!}

When I was a full-time performer, I had multiple pairs of characters in beige and black,  along with my tap, jazz and ballet shoes.   Its amazing that something as simple as a pair of shoes can aid so much in your creative process.  I’d equate it to the perfect laptop or pen for the writer–an essential tool.

I’ve waited quite awhile to perform in a musical once again, and I don’t take it lightly.    I’ve also reached the age and stage in my life when performing in a show is no longer just a ‘job’, but a gift.  I can’t wait to share more with you about my creative adventures later this summer.

 

Well, considering in a week or so, it’ll be time for the July What I’m Into linkup, I should probably hit ‘publish’ on this old post.  

{Any affiliate links used help support this blog – thanks!}

What were you into in June?

What I WAS Into ~ May 2014 : {The I-CANT-BELIEVE-SHE’S-STILL-BLOGGING-EDITION!}

whatimintomay2014 Well, HELLO blogisphere friends!

To say I’ve been quiet on the blog is a major understatement.

I’ve been writing a post in my head for WEEKS to share all the reasons why this space has been silent.

But the truth of the matter is, life is full and fruitful and though the main reasons for not writing lately have included buying and selling our house, getting settled in, working at church, and auditioning {& booking!} for musical theatre gigs like a maniac, that doesn’t even tell the full story.

Like so many other bloggers lately, I’ve been in need of some media REST.  (Micha Boyett writes about it beautifully here.  And Sarah Bessey practically takes the words out of my mouth through her own story here.)    When the exhaustion of keeping up with the Joneses mixes with a full plate, the thing that had to take a back seat for me in this season, was my blogging.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been furiously writing in my journal and on my laptop, and brainstorming idea after idea for this blog space, and my future dreams of writing e-books and print books. ALL THAT TO SAY, I think I’ve finally come up for air, so to speak.

I’m excited to share with you more of my creative adventures this summer, and I’ve decided to write about them in a way I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

So, while these last few paragraphs should no doubt have been their own blog post, I wanted to tack them onto a post that I have been meaning to publish for the last month. Leigh’s linkups are my favorite.  They help me chronicle my life and take stock of my personal journey.  They are also a favorite blogisphere resource of mine for the best recommendations on books, products, blogs, and more.

All that to say, here’s  my not-quite-finished, should’ve-been-published-weeks-ago,  hurried summary of May.  If you’re still reading, I can’t thank you enough.  I’m looking forward to actually linking up with my June recap post – sweet bejeebus, how is it already almost July?!?

I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to this spring in the comments!

{FYI:  If that long-winded spiel above hadn’t been in this post, the words below are where the  post originally began.  Thanks for obliging me, friends.}

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There are some months that feel like they have thrown you in the wash and rinse cycle {that was last month for me}.  Then there are some months that feel like they’ve tossed you into a ride on a tilt-a-whirl.  Welcome to my May.

We received glorious news that our house was in the process of being sold, and then, through a dizzying turn of events, we discovered we did not have a house to move into.

Though there was a tiny part of me that enjoyed the adventure of waking up to a new challenge or schedule everyday, I was overwhelmed in most areas of my life, and that unfortunately, included my writing and blogging.

I gulped large breaths of air into my lungs, hid my head in books when I needed to de-stress, and took solace in my sweet husband.  I also buried my head in the blogisphere sand, as I felt piles of guilt for falling behind in my goals.   I fell behind on a  deadline last month, which left me continually mortified and racked with shame whenever I opened my blog page to write.

There was real beauty this month, but the reality is, there was also the major stress of busyness.  I’m more than grateful that this month was full of the good kind of stress, but it also became apparent fast that this month was a short season where the blog had to take a backseat.

Blogisphere Beauties

Addie Zierman:  Why I Don’t Write About the Hot Button Issues 

{Amen, sister. Grateful that Addie wrote out my thoughts on this subject, MUCH better than I could.}

Another Addie Gem: Writing Is Hard  

{Yes Ma’m, that’ll Preach, Word-to-your-Mother, insert-wackadoo-exclamation here!  I am struggling to write good work on even the smallest level, so it gave me some solace that a writer I admire so much that just published a BRILLIANT AND AMAZING BOOK also has all the feels about this.  Addie talks about her upcoming book, writing it and and her writing process here – a must read.}

Sarah Bessey @ SheLoves Magazine: Chasing A Dream In the Midst & In the Afters 

{Sarah always seem to pull thoughts and dreams out of my head in her beautifully written blog posts.  Though I don’t have children, I resonate so deeply with her heartfelt story of chasing dreams in the midst and in ‘the afters’.  Another must read.}

Shauna Niequist: Less  

{As we pack up our house to move, I am forcing my packrat-saving self to purge, purge, purge.  These words of Shauna’s helped me do that.}

Anne Bogel at The Art of Simple:  Why I’m Still Reading Novels In The Age of Social Media 

{Though Anne doesn’t share anything in this post I didn’t probably already know, she articulated so much truth here.  Love this post, and Anne’s prolific blogging skills!}

On My Blog

I’m beyond embarrassed that I have fallen into even more blogging obscurity than normal this spring.    It started in April, and then I became so overwhelmed with our house selling and buying, and packing–that I feel as though I’ve fallen almost completely off the blogging grid.

 I am unspeakably grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Red Couch book club at SheLoves Magazine, and this month, I shared a discussion post for one of my favorite recent reads, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.

I just finished writing a discussion post for another favorite book, Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food & Faith by Fred Bahnson.  His book is a glorious read – I’ll hope you’ll join us at SheLoves next month! {And check out Leigh’s introductory post on the book – it’s fantastic!}   Here’s a bit about the book from Fred himself:

 

Riveting Reads & Such
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What I Read
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

I loved Molly’s first memoir, A Homemade Life, and this one was just as good in my book.  (I may have even read this one faster than the last.)  Chronicling her journey into restaurant ownership with her husband, its personal, and lovely, and a quick read.  I loved her honesty about their journey as she helped her husband Brandon follow his dreams, and learned what she also needed personally for that dream to succeed.

People have been grumbling about the recipes in the book  (I suppose I do understand that its a little weird that she doesn’t include a pizza recipe, as their restaurant is a pizza joint.).  But I also get that, their recipes are part of their literal financial bread and butter so to speak, so it didn’t bother me.  I actually LOVED the recipes included in this book, more so that her first. Included are easy salads that are perfect for summer, pasta with vodka sauce and a slew of other dishes I’m excited to make (my best friend has my copy of the book, so I can’t reference them here).    Don’t miss this read–its perfect for summer.

A Year of No Sugar by Eve Schwab

Some people have taken issue with the title of this book, as it technically wasn’t ‘No Sugar’, but rather, no added sugar.  Told in memoir-style, Schwab details the year she and her  Vermont family swore off the sweet stuff.  They had cheat days each month (for special occasions, like birthdays), and family vacations.  {They went to Italy that year, and Eve only had one helping of gelato–a feat that would require Herculean patience in my book!}.  There’s lots of great information on sugar, and alternative sweetener options.  A fun read, and informative, too.

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith {The Nester}

This book really deserves its own blog post.  Like so many others on the internet, this book was one of my favorite reads of the year, thus far!

Myquillyn’s blog is one of my must-reads, and its the only decorating blog I read with any regularity.  The subtitle of the book is a resounding theme in its pages–”it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”–and its timely truth for us, as we are in a new house, and I am facing the daunting task of decorating.  Instead of dreading the process, Myquillyn’s book is helping me get excited to find my own way of expressing beauty and home in our living space.

What I’m Reading Now

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling, can’t you drop the alias by now?), The Soul Tells A Story by Vinita Hampton Wright, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown,  & The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Dinner Club {Is it ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’ club? Anyone?}

IMG_1291 We had our last dinner club in our old house in May.  A few of our closest friends,  Frank and I have been getting together once a month to cook together, and {as Shauna Niequist so eloquently puts it} find some life and community around the table.  My in-laws have also been a part of a supper club for years, and were part of our inspiration.  We’ve only met twice, and we’re excited to get together on the 4th of July and break in our beautiful kitchen at our new place!

Other May Highlights

One of the last beautiful spring days this month, I enjoyed a peaceful morning in our backyard–journaling, reading and drinking my morning tea.  It was a glorious way to enjoy our back yard before moving into a different house.   IMG_1396 IMG_1449

We had 3 weeks to pack up our house!  I enjoyed going through my books, as I shoved them all quickly into boxes.

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We found the house of our dreams this month–a true Godsend.   I love the hard wood floors, and the beams on the family room ceiling.  We’re so excited to be moving into our home this summer!

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I hope that I am finally back on track with writing these monthly posts, and linking up with Leigh–because truth be told, they are some of my favorite posts to write. {Affiliate links, if used, support this blog – thanks!}

What were you into this spring? 

Soil & Sacrament – The SheLoves Red Couch Book Discussion

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My best friend used to belong to a community church garden, smack dab in the middle of suburban Dallas. On the weekends, I would accompany her to a small patch of soil that felt like an oasis amidst the commonplace suburbs and concrete. Though sometimes I would complain and grumble about the heat, (my tolerance for summer’s high temps and mosquitos bites is low), Janie usually shushed me in her calming way, and gave me a job by putting a shovel, a rake, or a pair of soft gardening gloves in my hand.

Sometimes we picked weeds, sometimes we tilled the soil and on a few occasions, I was lucky enough to be along during a harvest, when we would bring home tasty morsels, like Swiss chard, cucumber, radishes and tomatoes by the handfuls.

Despite my limited knowledge of all things gardening, (let’s just say, I’ve unfortunately killed more than one cactus) I always feel nearer to God when close to the Earth.

 Head over to SheLoves Magazine to read the rest of this post.  

Please join our discussion in the comments or on Facebook!

Daring Greatly – The SheLoves Red Couch Book Club Discussion

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Full Disclosure: I feel like one of the last women in America to read Daring Greatly.

Unfortunately, this is probably because my pride got the best of me.  To be honest, I thought I didn’t need to read this book.

“Daring Greatly?  Didn’t I do that for years as a professional actor?,” I thought to myself. “Isn’t the epitome of vulnerability giving of our talents out into the world for producers, directors and the like who then decide if we’re ‘worthy’?  Doesn’t ‘literally’ singing for your supper ‘count’ as daring greatly?”

Clearly, I had have issues–with pride and approval seeking, for starters.

Please join me at SheLovesMagazine to read the rest of this post, and join in the discussion!

Sacro Speco {Sacred Space} & Where I’ve Been As of Late

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Its been a busy and somewhat chaotic time in my life these days.  I have had such high aspirations–many of them for this blog–and they have, quite frankly, had to fall by the wayside this month, as my husband and I have worked feverishly to put our house on the market.  I’ve also been spending my writing hours on future posts and articles that were way more difficult to write than they probably should have been.  Add to that, a huge round of auditions {and stinging rejections}, and there they are,  plain as day, {though not very romantic}–the reasons for the cobwebs and dust bunnies on the blog.

All that to say, if you’re still reading, I can’t thank you enough.  Thank you for remaining part of ‘my tribe’, and being ‘my people’.  I hope these short spurts of Sacro Speco have spoken at least a tiny bit of rest and peace into your lives.  I’ve got ideas and hopefully some fun plans for this weekly space in the future, but for now, I hope this is enough.

I’ll be sharing more inspiration in all manner of ways in the coming weeks–grace and peace to you this Palm Sunday, friends!