Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Bookcore

I thought I had to take another picture for this post. But then I looked through my phone and discovered what I really had to do is just narrow the selection.

With my focus on joy last year and my exploration of lush this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my aesthetic, not just in my home but also in my personal style. Once upon a time (like two decades), a friend commented that I dressed like a cartoon character. I tried to protest but then looked down at the black t-shirt, oversized green cardigan, and bright blue pants I was wearing. Ok, he had a point.

That may be the time in my life when I loved my look the most. It was mostly pieces in solid colors tempered with a lot of black, as it coincided with my goth “phase” (which, let’s be real – I never really grew out of. It’s a fun look that I still often enjoy breaking out today).

Then I read this article about bookcore (i.e., dressing like people who frequent bookstores). And I am fascinated, enchanted, and enthusiastic. Of course, this is my look. There’s not really one distinct thing that sets it apart (although the writer gives some key elements to look for toward the middle/end-ish). But looking at the pictures at the end, and reading through the whole piece, I think my particular brand of bookcore looks something like this:

  • Layers – Depending on the season, my trusty pea coat, sweaters, t-shirts, scarves. I particularly enjoy the suggestion of “a questionable hat.” After reading this article, I may have to start wearing blazers again (throwback to my early teaching days). Layers allow me to adjust to the store’s temperature so that I can spend a while there and still be comfortable. Speaking of comfort…
  • Low-heeled boots or other comfy footwear. I don’t know that I can commit to ugly shoes, but I do enjoy something with some support.
  • Knit skirts/tunics/dresses with leggings – Again, comfort is key. I technically own a pair of jeans and one or two pairs of trousers, but I don’t remember the last time I actually wore real pants. And why would I, when there are leggings? Real pants are so uncomfortable with their hard seams and lack of give. Also, they cover up my cute boots.
  • Backpack and/or tote bags – For my everyday bag, I need something that I can wear – leaving my hands/arms free for book browsing – that can also hold a book if I know I’m going to be standing in lines a lot that day and will need something to read. And I have so many tote bags, but I also use them regularly. Nice to think of them as an actual part of the look.

Bookcore definitely has taken over my home, as there are shelves and/or stacks of books in every single room. When you basically live surrounded by books, it just makes sense to dress the part.

I may have to do some reconnaissance this weekend to see how well I match the local bookcore aesthetic. Do your local bookstore patrons have a particular style?

Read Full Post »

Lush

My word for 2022 is LUSH. It’s the sort of word I feel compelled to type in all caps and use italics for emphasis. I like that. This is gonna be fun. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word LUSH means…

  1. “…having a lot of full and healthy growth”

I often come to the new year feeling as if I haven’t quite finished exploring the word for the previous one. In a way, this makes sense. Growth is continual, lifelong, etc. I wanted my word for 2022 to acknowledge that. My first thought was “nourish.” I wanted to look forward and continue to grow in all the things I have learned these past few years. I want to continue to have experiences and read books that explore joy, but also that feature hope, wild, alive, lucky, fun, true, and other core values.

But LUSH encompasses my underlying goal better. There is an implied immoderate quality to this word. Not just growth but a lot of growth. An abundance of growth. A fullness. All the growth I can possibly squeeze into this little pocket of time and space. Maybe I should add “rest” to that list above so that I remember that it, too, is important. Overworked and stressed out does not fit in with a lush lifestyle. Healthy is a vital part of the definition.

  1. “…covered with healthy green plants”

I am currently looking for a place in my apartment to put a huge Poinsettia that I bought in honor of my MeMaws for the Christmas season at church and gazing fondly at my faux Christmas tree. I don’t even want to think about what’s happening in the office with The Little Juniper That Could (but if I did want to think of it, I might confess that I fear its days are numbered. RIP, probably). On the porch outside, my briefly successful tomato plant has long given up the ghost (but that’s not my fault – that’s just on account-a it being not summer), but the flowers that died when I was caring for them have resurrected now that I’ve stopped doing anything, which seems unnecessarily petty of them.

When it comes to plants, I have great plans and motivation but little success. I’m going to take this part of the definition literally. My goal? Have a live, thriving plant in each room. Also, flowers on the table make me happy, so I’m going to make more of an effort to do that more often.

Don’t think I didn’t notice that they snuck in “healthy” again. I see what you did there, M-W.

  1. “…having a pleasingly rich quality”

I love this turn of phrase. Yes, I would like this to describe my life. In many ways, it already does. But wouldn’t it be amazing if just about every aspect of my life had a pleasingly rich quality? I think so. Let’s delve deeper into how to make that happen this year.

  1. “…lavishly productive: such as…”

…fertile. NOPE. Unless we’re talking about a fertile bank account. Or garden. Or birthing a book and an album. Otherwise? Nope, nope, nope.

…thriving. That would be lovely. Not just to make it through but to flourish. 

…abundant/plentiful. Are we talking about books? Trips? Friends? Coffee? Peace? Love? Kindness? Cash? To all of the above I say yes.

…prosperous/profitable. I could definitely handle a little prosperity. Let me go submit some more applications and write some more articles. What I would really like? Get paid for the work I already do in my spare time (and that I actually enjoy) so that I can ultimately spend more time doing it and also still have a place to live. #CapitalismIsTrash

…savory/delicious. I’m not sure if this means enjoying more savory and delicious things or recognizing how savory and delicious I am. Either way, I’m on board.

…appealing to the senses. As a sensory sensitive person, this is a welcome goal. Too much of my time and energy are spent having my focus derailed by extraneous, irritating sounds or that smell that NO ONE ELSE CAN SMELL BUT IT’S THERE I’M NOT IMAGINING IT BECAUSE IMAGINARY THINGS DON’T MAKE ME SNEEZE. Finding ways to better navigate (escape?) consistently assaulting environments would be grand.

…exuberant/profuse. With vigor and vitality, and without restraint. There are some areas of my life that could definitely use this treatment.

…opulent/sumptuous. Oh, gosh I love these words. Also known as rich, luxurious, lavish. Splendid. And ostentatiously so. These words make me want to crawl right into a cozy bed with scandalously soft fabrics and pillows of the exact right firmness. Or a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and some good cheese. 

And finally, speaking of wine…

  1. “…intoxicating liquor” or “…a habitual heavy drinker”

I mean, it’s not a goal, per se (although my limoncello, while mostly delicious, could use some tweaking). But if it happens, it happens. Here’s to enjoying life a little more and worrying about what all could go wrong a little less. Just as long as I remember to hydrate.

Read Full Post »

This was not a Christmas Eve 2020 fire. I was definitely fantasizing about throwing parts of 2020 into a fire, though.

Today’s December Reflections prompt is “one year ago today.” On this specific day, I was likely driving to the farm to spend time with the family. The vaccine wasn’t a thing yet, so I was still in general isolation – working from home, social distancing, endless Zoom meetings – and even more so in the week or two prior to seeing my parents. But in anticipation of the new year, I was also already starting my reflections on joy. I talked about comfort food and books and animals and the parts of being outside that I find least objectionable.

Throughout the month, I also wrote quite a bit about the difficulty of holding on to joy (and hope and other good things that we’re often told we’re supposed to feel, particularly around the holidays). I remember not being excited about joy being my word for the new year. There were too many moments it seemed too far-fetched to be a possibility. I felt particularly lonely last year at this time.

But there were already little sprouts of joy poking up through the soil. If you’ll indulge the navel-gazing (and you’re reading my blog, where that phenomenon often runs rampant, so I trust that you will):

“When I think of the characteristics I particularly love in a partner – and especially when I meet someone new who embodies a lot of those characteristics – there is that jolt. The familiar memory of loving someone combined with the anticipation of the possibility of feeling that way again? That feeling is pure magic. This is the sneaky good thing about joy that may just be my favorite part. It doesn’t just show up in the middle of a particular difficulty. It shows up, in part, specifically because of it. Joy will tailor itself to you.”

And that’s precisely what joy did all year long. Several things about the past year have not been easy or great, and a big part of how I handled them had to do with where the joy showed up. It’s become a bit of a navigator, and I really like that.

I wonder where it will lead next.

Read Full Post »

Bring Me Joy

My word for 2021 was joy, and I loved it. I think what made a big difference was the commitment to study it rather than just pondering or wandering about, looking for something that might resemble or cause feelings of joy. Choosing books with joy in the title was a simple way to keep it in the forefront of my mind, so I want to remember that in future years. Some books were humorous, some serious. The ones in this category I finished this year were (sometimes wildly out of order of planned start date):

  • The Joy of Being Online All the F*cking Time by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
  • Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
  • The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter
  • Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller
  • Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
  • The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Still working on The Joy of Cooking. It’s so long.

Because I was reading about it and reflecting on it a lot, it was easier not only to notice moments of joy when they happened but also to find ways to seek it out. Savoring a favorite dish, spending time with people I love, remembering habits and hobbies I enjoy rather than just tolerate, creating a comfortable and joyful space to inhabit, etc.

I’ve chosen a new word for next year, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop looking for new ways to explore joy:

  • Random acts of kindness, especially toward people in the service industry and retail (because whew – the things I have seen lately, particularly yesterday when finishing up the shopping – they all deserve raises, pastries, and foot rubs)
  • Making an even cozier, more joyful home
  • Love notes to friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Positive gossip (talking about how much you like someone behind their back) (and also to them – see above re: love notes)

I hope you all have at least one solid moment of joy this week (and every week forever).

Read Full Post »

Food and wine with friends is always a good day.

The prompt for today is “best day of 2021,” so I thumbed through my planner to find the best day. I was already up to five by April, so I just decided to go top ten. In order (somewhat) of occurrence:

  1. Inauguration Day (January 20) – I am not a person who believes that political leaders (particularly milquetoast, capitalist, and/or status-quo-y ones) are the answers to our problems. I suspect that in order for someone to make it to the highest offices in our country, they’ve probably had to (and will continue to) compromise a lot and do some pretty shady things that likely do more to add to our problems than to solve them. When I vote, it’s typically for the least objectionable person who could actually win whose future speeches are the least likely to inspire me to damage whatever screen I’m viewing them on. But I enjoyed Inauguration Day. I enjoyed hearing Amanda Gorman share The Hill We Climb, and I loved watching her capture the day on Instagram. The Bernie memes still make me laugh. It’s just a day to take a breath, and it was nice to do so.
  2. Spiderweb Loves You – This virtual performance on Valentine’s Day was a poem I pieced together from text conversations with Maggie and Michelle. As with our conversations, topics ranged from favorite TV moments to the stressors of the day. I love them both a lot, and I love that Spiderweb gives us a specific space each year to love on the people who are important to us.
  3. Birthday celebrations (technically spanned more than one day, but let’s be real – there are no rules here) – Between visiting Texas Tulips and having lunch with Tammy, wine/coffee/pastry/book shopping, dinner and hangout with CM and Sarah, an All Booked Up outing with Sarah and Joan, and new shelves and delicious early dinner with Steph, Nathan, Tammy, and Matt, I was especially well loved on the days surrounding my birthday in March.
  4. Wine and pizza at Fortunata with Kim and Beth – It was the perfect evening. Friends, food, wine, live music that we definitely sang along to, getting out of the house. Such a lovely time with two of my favorite people and some of my favorite simple pleasures.
  5. Denton Community Market – Maybe I went on opening day? The day I’m remembering was at least one of the first days in April that it was open for the season. I usually avoid DCM early on (let the crowds thin out and the summer veggies show up), but this year I was excited about it. At any rate, my favorite DCM day was the one where I saw (and hugged!) so many friends in person whom I had mostly just seen virtually for the past year.
  6. Maggie and Michelle weekend!!! In late May, Maggie and Michelle came to see me! It was so exciting. We ate delicious things, chatted, and watched TV for a long, luxurious weekend. I miss them so much. The weekend was so fun we decided that it needs to be a yearly(ish) ritual.
  7. In-person gatherings – My Cookbook club, church book club, and Follow the Reader are meeting in person again! We started getting together again about mid-year, and it’s been so nice. 
  8. Spiderweb at the farm – One of CM’s friends has a farm nearby (with sheep! And donkeys!), and we were invited over to lounge in the pool, enjoy the outside and make art a few evenings during the summer. It was an amazing little mid-week reprieve. 
  9. Colorado trip! I actually took a vacation this year. I went with Spiderfriends to a cabin in Colorado where we hiked (well, they hiked. I mostly wheezed and stayed at the cabin), read, played games and enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice to take a real break (from both jobs!) for a few days.
  10. Spiderdead – So many of my best and most memorable days include Spiderweb Salon. I really love these people and the community we have together. I got to help share a friend’s poetry during our yearly grief ritual, and it was a great experience. It was my first time performing on stage at Rubber Gloves, so that made it special to me, too.

The fact that 2021 holds so many best days for me indicates that I had a pretty good year. It hasn’t always felt that way, so this was a nice discovery.

Read Full Post »

Resolving 2021

I’m participating in December Reflections, a challenge issued by Susannah Conway every year, and many of the prompts are things I want to include in my musings about how 2021 went. So I’m going to wrap up the end-of-year review now and leave the rest of the month to post specific moments that stand out.

This was one of those years that some resolutions really took off while others did not. I listed five main goals at the beginning of the year:

  1. Read 120 books.
  2. Write 300,000 words for my copywriting job.
  3. Make spaces in my home “more inviting.”
  4. Build a steady practice for art/music/dance/creation.
  5. Pursue joy.

I definitely exceeded the 120 mark for books. It’s only December 2, and I’m already at 128 for the year. This is good news beyond just meeting a goal. It means that, for the most part, my focus and time management have been pretty consistent, all things considered. 

I did not meet my word count goal for my copywriting job, and I’m at peace with that. I feel like the person who made that goal was basking in some vacation time and also maybe looking at a new pair of boots that would be easier to justify buying with a little extra cash on hand. One thing I’ve learned by making resolutions is that the most realistic goals are not set when I’m in the midst of enjoying time off. That self forgets she has a full-time job and gets super ambitious. Dreams are great, but so is not having to work 60 hours every week. A reasonable schedule. That’s the real dream.

Regarding the cozy spaces in my apartment…I mean…maybe? Sort of? The goal was a bit vague overall, so whether or not I met it is also vague. I did get two cute bookshelves from Steph that make the living room look better, and I made the office a more workable space. I still don’t have people coming over regularly (and frankly, I’ve enjoyed the reprieve), so I don’t have a lot of motivation to tidy. I organized the office better so that Maggie would have a place to sleep when she and Michelle spent the weekend in May, and I got bored and rearranged my bedroom during Icepocalypse. My home still doesn’t look the way I want it to most days, though. The changes I did make have given me so much joy, though, that I will likely make more specific goals for next year.

I have probably written more this year than the previous two or three years combined (not counting my copywriting job). I am also collaborating with my friend Sarah on an album. I have not quite reached the lofty 25 hours of practice a week that my former self was going on about (lol when? When would I do that? What was I thinking?), but I have definitely made more room for and progress on creative pursuits this year.

I loved having “joy” as my word for 2021. I read quite a few delightful books on the subject, and even on bad days there are usually moments of light and longing and…aliveness (dare I even call it hope?). I’m sure I’m not done with the word, but I’ll talk more about that in depth later in the month.

I hope this year has been a good one for you so far, and I hope you have a lovely December as well.

Read Full Post »

November TBR

13 is a weird number of books to fit into a square, but I didn’t want one of them to feel left out, so here you go. Look how happy they all look in yellow.

I am going to tell you what books I’m reading this month, but first I want you to go read/watch this post. I love Jenny Lawson so much. If you feel the need to order a book today, might I suggest Nowhere?

I’m still finishing up some things from October, but I have book club tonight, so I will at least finish Greenlights today. If you’re interested, go with the audiobook, because Matthew McConaughey reads to you (if you like that sort of thing).

Book clubs:

Joy:

  • The Joy of Cooking – originally self-published by Irma Rombauer (assisted by Marion Rombauer Becker) but since updated and renewed and loved on by a slew of et al. The specific copy I have is an older version, but I don’t remember which edition.
  • Taste by Stanley Tucci

Independent Reads:

What are you reading this month?

Read Full Post »

Day 18 – Food Memoirs

No, I haven’t pilfered some of these from the library. They were bought legitimately through a library sale. But if I were ever going to steal a library book…it might be a food memoir.

In my main collection, fiction and nonfiction stay mostly separated (to the extent that they can – fantasy and reality often overlap in life, so I suppose it’s inevitable in books). On my foodie shelf, though, memoirs and novels about food and its influence on the world cohabitate with reckless abandon.

I enjoy all kinds of books, but when I am looking for something comforting and decadent, rich and nourishing, I go for books that talk about food. Whether its a food writer by trade telling tales of all the wonderful places where they’ve eaten delectable things, a cook sharing some of the wealth of their knowledge, or a favorite celebrity talking about what food means to them, I am riveted.

This is a fairly new preference of mine. The first food writer I remember reading was Ruth Reichl. I can’t remember if I started with Tender at the Bone or Comfort Me With Apples (I mean, those titles alone. Come on.), but I greedily started the second right after I finished the first. I couldn’t get enough. She talked about learning to cook and her years as a young food writer, including many of the people she met along the way. Danny Kaye’s lemon pasta is still one of my comfort food favorites.

I understand the way food weaves into a story on a fundamental level. Most of my own stories and strongest memories are tied to a taste or a smell. The scent of melting chocolate reminds me of Thanksgiving (both happy and tumultuous) with my family. I once broke down sobbing at the farmer’s market upon discovering cream crowder peas, much to the chagrin of the kind farmer who pointed them out to me and innocently asked, “Have you ever tried them?” I explained (between gasps) that I hadn’t had them since my grandma – who used to grow them in her garden and had died recently – made them. He listened to me ramble, a little misty-eyed himself, and I’m pretty sure he snuck an extra quarter pound into my bag.

My most recent acquisition is Stanley Tucci’s Taste. I planned to save it for November, when I’m tackling The Joy of Cooking as my joy selection, but I’m not sure I can wait that long. Never mind that I will watch or read anything Stanley Tucci ever does (have you seen him make a Negroni, because you should), or that I’ve daydreamed more than once what it might be like if Stanley Tucci were my boyfriend. The way he comes to life when he talks about food is irresistible. I am really excited to tuck into this book.

No matter what kind of memoir you like – adventure, romance, quiet reflection – I bet there is a food memoir you’d like. Here are a few lists with great selections if you’d like to try:

Have you had the joy of a food memoir yet? Which one is your favorite?

I’m writing about books this month.

Read Full Post »

Day 2 – October TBR

The TBR list grows exponentially. As much as I’m reading these days (for example, I finished 15 books in September), I still don’t usually make it all the way through my monthly TBR list. I’m ok with this. I look at these lists more as a “I’m going to start these books this month,” which is a better portrayal of what actually happens. This is how I get 40 books on my “currently reading” list on Goodreads, because I start them and then don’t take them off until I either finish them or decide I’m not interested enough to do so (rare, but it happens). 

So here are the things I’m interested in starting this month:

Joy

The joy selections this month are books I meant to start in past months but haven’t quite yet:

Community Reading

This section used to be reserved strictly for book club selections, but I find that the same spirit of camaraderie exists in less structured book discussions. So I’m also including things that I and a few book-loving friends are passing around (and thus gushing about together), things I’m reading for work, etc.

Additional Reads

These are books I’m may start/finish because they’re the next up in a series (big fan of series – more on that later in the month) or because someone is waiting for them so I have to take them back to the library soon or simply because it’s spooky season so I’m in the mood for witchy/gothic/horror/suspense themes.

It’s also likely that I’ll keep bingeing the next Phryne Fisher mystery (Greenwood), Cork O’Connor mystery (Krueger), or the latest Paisley Sutton or Harvey Beckett cozy (Bookens), and I may finally finish Braiding Sweetgrass (so good!) this month. 

What are you reading this month? Let’s gush about it together!

I’m talking about books for 31 days (and – let’s be real – the rest of my life).

Read Full Post »

31 Days of Books

I have loved books all my life. If you had asked different family members when I learned to read, you would probably have gotten a variety of answers. Mom would confirm that it wasn’t until I started first grade that I really started reading on my own, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, church nursery workers, and babysitters would have sworn that I started earlier. As soon as I could sit up and hold them, I could entertain myself for hours just by flipping through the pages of my favorite books. I even tricked MeMaw into thinking I could read when I was about three years old because Mom had read the Little Golden Book version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to me so many times that I could not only recite it from memory but also follow the words with my finger and turn the pages at the right time, just like she did. 

One of the clearest ways I find joy is through reading. I definitely have my preferences, but I’ll read almost anything, particularly if I have people to talk to about it. I am insatiably curious. If I don’t think I’m sufficiently informed on a subject, I may Google it first, but that’s mostly to find books on the subject so that I can delve more deeply into the topic. A cozy evening at home alone usually involves a comforting beverage and my latest fiction obsession. For what it’s worth, I think that would also be a great date. Bring your book, I’ll bring mine, and let’s see where this goes. Or let’s bring each other books that we love. So many possibilities.

I track my reading, not only through monthly TBR lists that I post here but also by rating the ones I finish through Goodreads. I set a yearly goal, and this is the first year I’m actually ahead of schedule (by 15 books!). This month, I’m going to be talking about different aspects of my reading life each day. I am likely to gush about books and genres I particularly love, give tips for reading more, proclaim my adoration of book clubs, and talk about what I look for in a bookshop or reading nook. Unlike my other 31 days series, I don’t have a set rhythm for general topics. I’ll just post thoughts in the order that they come to me and keep the master list here. Hope you enjoy it!

Day 1 – Favorite September Reads
Day 2 – October TBR
Day 3 – How I Track My Reading
Day 4 – Your Book Club Personality
Day 5 – First Book Club of the Month
Day 6 – Contemporary Romance
Day 7 – How To Read More
Day 8 – Five Favorite Bookish Apps
Day 9 – The Joy of Shelfies
Day 10 – Not a Competition
Day 11 – Books for Celebrating National Coming Out Day
Day 12 – Where I Read
Day 13 – Poetry
Day 14 – Favorite Children’s Books
Day 15 – 5 Books About Books
Day 16 – Library Book Club
Day 17 – Reading Cookbooks
Day 18 – Food Memoirs
Day 19 – Church Book Club
Day 20 – Foodie Fiction
Day 21 – How I Get Out of a Reading Rut
Day 22 – Five Authors I Will Always Read
Day 23 – Reading for a Cause
Day 24 – Strangelings, Happy Endings, and Nowhere
Day 25 – Surrounded (Minor Thesis on a Dream)
Day 26 – In Praise of Audiobooks
Day 27 – Memoirs
Day 28 – Follow The Reader
Day 29 – Five Books That Inspire Me
Day 30 – For the Love of Bookshops
Day 31 – Final Thoughts

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: