Archive for the ‘Story Sessions’ Category


I met Miah Oren through an online writers’ group called Story Sessions (now The Coterie), and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and watch the process of this story making its way into the world. Her first book, The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith, released on Tuesday, and you should all buy it immediately.  And yes, Mom and Dad, it comes in paperback as well.

1. I can’t wait to dive in to your book! Tell us about The Reluctant Missionary.

The Reluctant Missionary: A Journey From Failure to Faith describes my journey from idealistic young missionary to depressed, cynical teacher who was just trying to make it through each week. I had unrealistic expectations for myself, my team, and my hosts. And I didn’t know what to do when those expectations weren’t met.

2. What sets your book apart from other books written about mission experiences?

I haven’t read a book about missions that addresses failure. But I wish I had before going overseas. I wrote the book so others in missions and Christian ministry will know that they’re not alone in worrying about failure and that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

3. What was the biggest joy you faced in writing the book? The biggest hurdle?

The biggest joy in writing the book was discovering how all the pieces of that experience fit together. Even in draft 17 (of 23) I was adding characters. Of course they were there all along, but I hadn’t realized how their words and/or actions fully impacted my decisions.

The biggest hurdle was probably making the decision to publish in the first place. Originally this was an email to someone who was struggling as a missionary. Then I decided to expand the story “for posterity.” When I had 200 pages and was 95% done with the first draft, it finally occurred to me that it could be a book. But I was nervous about sharing the story because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I also know that my perspective probably isn’t correct. So many things I heard via rumors and gossip, through mangled translations from another language, or that I just misunderstood because I really wasn’t doing well personally. But this was the data I had at the time.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring mission workers, what would it be?

You are not responsible for any outcomes. It’s all up to God. Whether wonderful or terrible things happen, your obedience is more important, and you’re not responsible for “results” or “success.” Only God knows what success looks like. Whether fifty people come to Christ or no one, you are doing God’s important work by showing up.

5. What projects are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on the second draft of the mystery novel I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s about a girl who thinks she’s joining a convent, but it’s actually a secret international spy/detective agency.

Writing a memoir was hard. It’s a nice change to write about fictional characters whose feelings I don’t need to consider upon releasing the book.

I’m also working on a course called Photography for Writers. It keeps growing – it might be as long as a book by the time I’m done.

Miah Oren Photography-1-2

Miah is the author of The Reluctant Missionary, a memoir about the two years she spent overseas teaching English. She writes about learning to let go of perfectionism and embracing God’s plan for her life. She lives in Dallas where she dreams of someday having another cat. Connect with Miah online at http://www.miahoren.com.

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(Originally posted via Story Sessions)

Every week, Marvia Davidson gives us the chance to participate in Real Talk Tuesday, a synchroblog that explores writing our hard truths. So today, she’s answering my questions about it.

1. Give us the back story – where did you get the idea for Real Talk Tuesday?

I didn’t intend to start Real Talk Tuesday.  It was one of those things that just happened (though I think something like it was always rumbling around in my heart).  It was an offshoot of where I wanted to take my own writing, but I wanted to do it in community.  A few months ago I took part of a healing support group called Mending the Soul.  It’s changed my life, my perspective, and how I see authenticity and living out truth.  It was all about dealing with hard truths about one’s self and its impact on how we relate to people and issues in our lives.  It’s more than that, but that’s the impetus toward healing and restoration. You gotta talk about hard things.  You gotta work through all the junk that keeps you bound or that keeps you from not fully living and being your whole, God-made self.  If we’re really going to live out true and authentic lives, then we’ve got to wrestle with the depth and width of our pain.  Feel the feels, use our voice, say what we need, find safe people with whom we can fully be ourselves, know our power and authority, and not shrink back from the process of being real and whole all the time in every place.

2. You have great prompts that seem to resonate with a lot of people.  How do you come up with them?

Hmmm.  That’s a great question!  I do a lot of quiet pondering.  Many times they come between pauses, between breaths, when I’m not doing something or busying about life.  They come in wisps while walking in the evenings.  They come while staring at the moon.  They come while considering music, words, movies, and lyrics that resonate.  I sometimes wonder if these little phrases are pockets of holy hush meant to bring me back to the One – as though to remind me Whose I am and why I’m here.  Perhaps the resonance is a pull to Someone Greater…

3. In your invitation this week, you say, “As always may our words be seasoned with salt and grace.  May our words empower, encourage, and equip.” I love that. Why is this important to remember?

When I first started my blog, I only knew I wanted to write about life, faith, and leaning in when it gets hard.  It was never my intention to be any part of the hullabaloo that is the sometimes craziness of the blogosphere.  That just doesn’t jive with me.  When I think of legacy, I think of what I want to leave behind. I want to leave words that remind people to look up, look out, look within.  I want to leave words that remind men and women they matter.  You can’t do that when you’re mudslinging, disparaging, and berating.  That’s just not me.  Even though my blog is seen by few, what matters is that it be a place of grace.  I want my little corner of the internet to be a place of reprieve.

4. You are a champion of honoring voices.  What does that mean to you?

Mmmmm.  It may be life experience and what I’ve walked through, but there is something internally powerful about being seen and being heard by human flesh.  To hear another soul listen, look you in the eye, and offer not judgment is freeing.  I really first learned about this when I joined a recovery group in 2011.  It was a life changing experience.  I had a lot of hurts, habits, and hang ups that I felt very ashamed about.  The recovery community was a place of total acceptance.  No one was trying to fix me.  They allowed me to just be.  They showed me tools to help me – and they really did help me (that and leaning hard into faith in God).  To honor a voice is to welcome others and be a dignity restorer.  Jesus did that a lot, and I want to practice the same in my life.

5. Your new website is gorgeous.  What advice can you give to people wanting to branch out into hosting their own sites?

Ha! Ha!  For reals, though.  I just launched it.  I had no idea what I was doing, and to an extent still don’t, but I knew it needed to be done because it was just time.  It’s a work in progress like me.  I’m okay with that.  I have an idea of where I want it to go, but I can’t do it alone.  I am so inspired by the many women I see blossoming in the Story Sessions community.  They keep me going!  For those branching out, I’d say ask for help.  Ask lots of questions.  Trust your “style” gut.  I read a several blogs like Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt, and they were so helpful.  I can’t wait to get to do more with the blog.

6. What other projects are you working on?  What are you excited about?

I wrapped up writing a second memoir about tearing down lies, faith, and restoration.  My next step is editing, book cover design, and getting feedback from beta readers.  This is all new for me, and I’m excited about the project.  I hope to release it in December of 2014.  I am also excited to dive deeper into what it means to be a creative entrepreneur.  I have #alltheideas that won’t quit, and I want to do something with the ones that speak to my why and my what.  It’s never too late to work the dream, so I’m going after.  The rest… well, follow my blog or the Real Talk newsletter to find out more.


Marvia enjoys sharing the journey of life and living fully.  She’s a Christ follower learning to just “be.”  While her life may not be perfect, she is on the road to “be”-ing and authenticity in Christ.  Her desire is to share love, light, hope, words, thoughts, dreams, faith, and whatever else seems good and prudent.  She is drawn to encouraging, supporting, mentoring, and helping others.  You will find her walking the rockity-bumpity journey of life in the wide open spaces of Texas, sipping tea, drinking coffee, splattered with sugary flour dust while baking with family, laughing and snorting loudly, or dancing ridiculously just because.

Join her on the blogging at humanimpulse.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @MarviaDavidson.

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Story 101

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“The delights of the poet as I jotted them down turned out to be light, solitude, the natural world, love, time, creation itself. Suddenly after months of depression I am fully alive in all these areas, and awake.” – May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

The 2014 winter session was my first time to take Story 101.  In our first meeting, Elora asked us to take a few minutes to write down why we were there. Why were we taking the course?  What did we need? What did we expect to get out of it?

I wrote this:

Last year, I decided (finally admitted) that writing was what I wanted to do. What I was afraid to do. What failing at would break my heart more than any other possible failure. What I must do. This course is my leaping off point to make it an intentional part of my schedule instead of the whenever-I-get-around-to-it part of the schedule that it has been. I need this because I have two other jobs, so if something isn’t planned with a specific time attached to it, it usually doesn’t happen, no matter how much my soul needs it.

By the end of the course, this goal was realized. If that was all that I’d gotten out of Story 101, it would have been enough.  I would have been satisfied that I had gotten my money’s worth. 

A few weeks into the course, however, I discovered another reason that I was there – a reason that I never would have thought to make into a goal. You see, everyone who takes Story 101 probably has their favorite week(s). Some people really love the week on memoir, some soak up all the information on marketing yourself as a writer without losing your soul that they can, and some love discovering new modes of expression that they had not used before.

I’m the weirdo whose favorite week is the week of silence.

I have always required a relatively large measure of solitude in order to function as a proper human. I have also always harbored a relatively large measure of guilt for doing so. I have sometimes felt and have been accused of using it as an excuse to waste time. I have been expected to justify it to others and have tried in vain to do so. I have felt selfish. I have felt that, no matter how much time I tried to make for friends and family, that it was never quite enough.

Then, per Elora’s suggestion, I turned off the television and the Internet while I was home.  I wrote for an hour a day. I spent twenty minutes a day just sitting. I went on walks. I read May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude wherein one of my favorite poets wrote an ode to a lifestyle of solitude, describing it as the reason she was able to give so much beauty to the world.  

And my thoughts began to rewrite themselves.  

What felt selfish was now restorative. What felt like an excuse became a reason. What felt indulgent still felt indulgent, but in the best possible and most productive way.

What felt like not enough was suddenly rich and abundant.

I still have some of those doubts and feelings – old habits die hard. But now when they rear their wagging heads, I have ammunition against them, and I got it from Story 101.

There are many reasons that people take this course, and this fall is your last chance to take it live. Follow my affiliate link to the Story 101 syllabus, and you just might find your reason(s) lurking there.

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July is pigtail weather. July is also finding-things-to-do-indoors weather.

What I did:

For July 4th, I made Sloppy Joes (Mom’s recipe that is basically meat, ketchup, and sweet pickle relish – also good on lentils but drain the relish first to avoid soupiness), Caprese Salad bites (although mine didn’t look that pretty…in fact, they were mostly assemble-yourself bites), and White Sangria (after comparing several recipes, I just dumped peach nectar, vanilla vodka, brandied peaches – aside: delicious – and Moscato in a pitcher) and made everyone come to me.  Then I watched the fireworks from my couch.  Happy.

The DFW Story Sisters came to Denton this month.  So naturally, we hit the square.  We started at Jupiter House, wandered through Recycled Books and SCRAP, and followed dinner at Abbey Inn up with ice cream.

Michelle, Steve, and Savvy came to visit the next weekend.  They brought over Mr. Chopsticks for lunch, and then we spent the afternoon on the square collecting leaves, looking at books and candy, having a little dance party, eating ice cream at Beth Marie’s, and having dinner at LSA. 


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Her fannish glee in mid-squee.  We swear she picked Smallville up all on her own with no coaching. I love this little face!

Supper Club hit Wine Squared again this month.  I think we’re in love.

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What I read:

I again spent the month looking over cookbooks.  I’m going to stop pretending this is a seasonal thing. Cookbooks are my jam.  Ohhh…jam cookbook! *plots*

Moving on…

My two favorite recommendations:

 – Joy the Baker. If it were possible to make love to a cookbook…

And apparently, others have felt the same.  About every ten pages or so of the library’s copy, I would find crumbs or flour dust between the pages.  On the one hand, I totally understand.  These recipes demand immediate baking.  On the other hand, come on, people!  Library books are communal books!  All the more reason to buy my own copy, I guess.

Everything I have tried so far is glorious, but I especially recommend the vegan pumpkin walnut bread and the banana rum cake with brown butter frosting.  Or the goat cheese-pepper-cocoa truffles.  Or the coconut macaroon ice cream. Oh, I can’t choose.  Just buy it and make it all.

– The Runner’s World Cookbook. Part of me thinks, “Most of this information is on the Internet somewhere.  I could just look there for free.” I can’t bring myself to settle for that, though, when all of it is right here, neatly organized into one beautiful book. 

Reasons I will be buying this book:
1. The charts and lists. It gives a easy comparison guide for different grains, fats, and proteins. 
2. A basic whole grain pancake recipe, followed by two pages of batter and topping variations – most of which I would have never thought of on my own, and I experiment a lot. I can’t wait to try the Speakeasy Special and the Sweet Southerner pancakes.
3. Chicken Not Pie. As a loather of chicken pot pie, I appreciate a recipe that takes everything I would like about it and leaves out the rest.
4. Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto. This is an example of my favorite thing about this book – they took food I love and made in a slightly different way to make it new and interesting.

To watch:

This is a short list.  I’m making my way through Boston Legal.  It’s hilarious. I recommend it, if for no other reason than to see William Shatner and James Spader in flamingo costumes.

My favorite things people did on the Internet:

  1. Luke Harms tells married men how to act around women.
  2. Beth Morey takes on sex and marriage.
  3. Robin Korth became my hero. 
  4. Confused Cats Against Feminism.  Because they’re cats.
  5. I joined Equal Exchange’s Red Cherry Challenge – will you?
  6. All the #FaithFeminisms – but especially this one by Abi Bechtel.
  7. Reason #482 to love The Bloggess.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – come on over and tell us what you’re into!

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Shocking, isn’t it? Controversial?  Yes.  But it’s true.

I hate hashtags (and I am DELIGHTED that WordPress doesn’t recognize it as a word. I mean, WordPress also doesn’t recognize “WordPress” as a word, so it’s a small or possible even imaginary victory, but still).

Now, before you pull our your pointy lecturing finger, I concede that I get it.  I understand how useful they are. They are community-builders, and that is why, almost every Saturday, I happily put aside my personal feelings and post pictures on the Instagram with the tags #jointhestory and #storygrams. If I had a cat, half my posts there would be tagged #catsofinstagram (it’s possible that said cat would probably also have his or her own Facebook page, so…grain of salt), because have you clicked on that hashtag?  It will lead you to adorable and hilarious things. Hashtags are also essential when it comes to social media marketing. An added #amreading or #amwriting or #writing added to a link to a post will multiply traffic to said post. At least 75% (an estimate – and probably a conservative one) of my followers on Twitter, where all of my blog post links automatically go, found me via a hashtag. I have had people tell me that they followed me based on my frequent (if by frequent, one means once or twice a month) use of #idowhatiwant.

So I get it.  I KNOW. And I will use them – sparingly – in the manner in which they were intended to be used. I will market myself on social media.  I recognize self-promotion as a necessary evil part of the getting-people-to-read process.


I still hate hashtags. They are the sole reason I was so slow to warm up to Twitter. And now, they’re friggin’ everywhere. I cannot escape them. Oh, Twitter – what hast thou wrought?!

First of all, they’re shady.  They’re fake words pretending to be real words, and they promote laziness. I have the same disgruntled feelings about hashtags that I have about the use of “u” in place of “you” – or worse – “ur” in place of “you’re” or “your” (LEARN THE DIFFERENCE – IT’S NOT HARD. /mini-rant). It’s the chance to say one more thing without having to waste one of the precious 140 characters one is allowed on Twitter on a space.  It’s also the chance to avoid editing and choosing one’s words wisely so that they will actually fit into a succinct, 140-character message. One thing that Twitter lets me practice is getting across my message in fewer words – a practice one might argue I desperately need. And I suspect other people would benefit from such practice, too. So here’s a challenge – if your initial draft is 154 characters, instead of copping out by using shortcuts, Hemingway that shit so that you can use real words and still get your point across.

Second, instead of helping the message, hashtags actually distract me from the person sending it.  I have lost count of the times I have been scrolling through Instagram and see a large block of text under a beautiful picture taken by my friend Horatia (fake name – conglomerate prototype of multiple beloved friends). I say to myself, “Hey, self, let’s go see what gorgeous words Horatia has chosen to caption this stunning photograph,” only to discover upon first glance, that only five words of the caption actually came from my brilliant friend. The rest is a sea of hashtags pressuring me to go elsewhere and see other people’s pictures and words. And here’s the thing – if I gave a damn about those other pictures and words, I would be following the people who posted them. I’m not.  I am, however, following Horatia because her pictures and her words are important to me. I specifically chose to follow her because what she has to say has struck a chord with me, and when I see her name, I get excited about what she has to offer. And that’s what I want to see.

And again – I get it.  I understand that those hashtags are a way for other people to find her easily and see the glory of what Horatia has to offer the world. I support self-promotion, particularly for artists of all kinds and particularly for women, because we have been socialized to support others (particularly men) first and ourselves second (or third…or fiftieth…), and I’m all for breaking that ridiculous cycle.  But if I see more content promotion than content creation, I will eventually lose interest in the content, no matter how much I love and respect the person as a friend.

Third, I find hashtags aesthetically unpleasant. I know – I’m an old woman.  I mean, I’m not. At all.  I’m 39, which puts me in what Jill Conner Browne of Sweet Potato Queens fame (point of reference – for those who have ever enjoyed my margaritas, she’s where I got the recipe) terms the larval stage of my development as a human. But as someone who has vivid, adult-ish memories of life and reading before the Internet (point of reference – Google.com was registered as a domain name three months before I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree), in Internet terms, I am a dinosaur. And like all damn kids who need to get off my lawn, the Internet likes to screw with my expectations of how things are to be capitalized and spaced.  In this regard, hashtags are a visual nightmare. I recognize that there’s probably some legitimate, computer-codey reason why the spaces need to be left out to create a link.  But I need hashtags to evolve linguistically, because I also can’t help but notice that proper computer code stays backstage, out of sight, so as not to ruin the effect of the presentation.  Take note, hashtags.

And finally, let’s call hashtags what they are – advertising.They are the billboards of the intrawebs. And like billboards, they are effective.  They are great at directing attention to a specific corner of a saturated market. But for those of us who are acutely aware of and thus hypersensitive to the CONSTANT bombardment of people trying to sell us something, hashtags – like billboards – can really ruin the landscape. If this post hasn’t tipped you off, let me go ahead and spell it out – I am easily overstimulated. The Las Vegas Strip and Disney World? Not so much examples of my ideal vacation spot as they are examples of what I imagine Hell must be like. And I am not alone.  We might be the minority, but for those of us hindered by this affliction, repeat advertising (and the nature of hashtags is inherently repetitive) actually has the exact opposite of the intended effect. It all becomes noise, and we tend to go to great lengths to shut out noise.

So friends – please – do this old curmudgeon a favor – use hashtags, but use them sparingly.I want to hear what you have to say.  I’m probably even interested in buying what you’re selling.  I will do both these things willingly.  You don’t have to kick my cane out from under me and steal my purse.

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The Light Between Us ebook cover

(Originally posted at Story Sessions)

I pre-ordered a copy of Beth Morey’s new book The Light Between Us.  Then, because I just couldn’t wait for it to get to me, I grabbed the ebook the day it was free on Amazon.  Whether you read the paperback or ebook – this book will delight. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, follow these instructions:

1. Buy this book.
2. Find a large, uninterrupted block of time, because once you start, you’re not going to want to put it down. Have to work? Two words – personal day. Have kids?  One more word – babysitter.
3. Spend the day inhaling this book (on a beach with a cabana boy who brings you umbrella drinks, if at all possible).

The Light Between Us is the perfect beach read.  It’s fun and full of romantic angst, and some of the scenes will definitely steam up your sunglasses.

And now, I bring you Beth Morey:

1. As an indie author, you had a longer task list than the average author to get this book to print.  What was the most challenging part of the process?  What was your favorite part of the process?

The most challenging part was editing.  And then realizing that I hadn’t edited nearly well enough before I released my book.  That was, um, painful.  But also educational.  I still hate editing, though.

My favorite part was writing, and watching the story unfurl.  I have never felt so full of soul purpose, so in line with how I am made.  It was (and is) a very powerful experience.  I also loved picking out my cover.  The thrill that gave me was possibly embarrassingly strong, but I’ll own it.

2. You have mentioned that The Light Between Us was a romance, but not necessarily a Christian Romance.  Why is it important to make this distinction?

I kept having this curious experience.  I’d say that I was writing a romance, and then the person I was talking with would say, “Oh, I love Christian romances!”  But my book is not a Christian romance; The Light Between Us shares none of those standard Christian romance genre characteristics.  It is more explicit sexually and in terms of language, and the values of the characters are not at all what a reader would expect from a Christian novel.  Faith is barely mentioned.  So I felt I needed to make this distinction to be fair to my readers.  I didn’t want them to feel misled.  If I hadn’t been [LS1] such an openly Christian blogger, I don’t think I would have felt the need to delineate this.

3. What is the most surprising thing that has happened since The Light Between Us was released?

I have been able to not take on some seriously negative reviews of my book.  I am a person who has a deep (and unrealistic) need to be well-liked by everyone.  And writing a book and putting it out there for all the world to consume?  Yikes.  I had a coaching call with Elora a few weeks prior to my book’s release, and dealing with negative reviews was one of the three things I wanted to talk with her about.

That said, I think I’ve dealt surprisingly well with the negative reviews.  I have been able to find some distance, to take what’s constructive and leave the rest.  It has actually been a deeply growing experience.  I feel like I am maturing both as a writer and a woman through this experience.

4. Tell us about your new project. What are you working on now?

I am working on a contemporary fantasy that is based loosely upon Celtic myth, starring a main character named Eveleen.  It might be Young Adult, but I’m not sure yet.  In any case, it’s something completely different from The Light Between Us!  It’s also feeling a good bit longer than The Light Between Us.  My romance novel was a short novel, about 66,000 words long.  Eveleen’s story is currently 30,000 words long, and I’m feeling like the story is only just ramping up.

5. Who are your favorite writers? Why?

Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, Terry Tempest Williams.  They write with texture, grit.  It is a visceral experience to read them.  I feel as if I am almost literally chewing, tasting, and swallowing their words.  Also, they tend to write on multiple levels; a bird is never just a bird, a laugh is never just a laugh.  I long to write with this power.

6. If you could be a character in any story that you’ve ever read, what story would you want to join?  Why?

Oh wow.  What a question!  How can I choose?  Perhaps I could be Bastian of The Neverending Story, stealing away to a musty tumble of blankets in his school’s attic to literally fall into the book he was reading.  Or Lucy of The Chronicles of Narnia, with her courage and goodness and faith, not to mention all her adventures.

7. Finally, for the writers who have an idea for a book or have started the book or have even finished a manuscript…and now they’re stuck – what advice do you have for them?

Get help.  I could never have finished The Light Between Us without the support of dear friends.  I had a few friends who welcomed my daily emails bearing the new words I’d typed into being.  I didn’t need them to read these words, only to expect them, to receive them, and to come back with a resounding “you can do this; you are doing this!”  At about 30,000 words into The Light Between Us, I was ready to quit.  Their support rallied me, assuaged my doubt, and gave me strength to continue writing into the unknown.

You don’t have to work in a vacuum.  In fact, I think you should consider avoiding doing so.  Find a kindred or two that you trust, and ask them to walk with you.  Life begets life.


Beth writes, paints, and dreams in Montana.  She is the author of The Light Between Us, a new adult romance, and the creative healing workbook Life After Eating Disorder, and is also the owner of Epiphany Art Studio.  Her words and art have appeared in various publications, such as Somerset Studio, to linger on hot coals, Still Standing Magazine, Wild Goslings, and Disney’s Family Fun.  In addition to her quirky little family and their three naughty dogs, Beth is in love with luscious color, moon-gazing, and dancing wild.  She writes soul into flesh at her blog, and is saving the world at Act Small, Think Big.

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The word “we” makes me anxious.

My gut reaction to “we” is to feel left out. I’ve been part of that magical twosome, whether romantic or otherwise, that gives me a rant-listener, a breakfast partner, a perpetual plus-one, and a person who will call me out when I’m siding with the melodrama in my head. I also know what it’s like to go from “we” to “just me…again.”  It’s not pretty, even when it’s for a good reason or for the best. That transition makes me want to make friends with more of these:

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But then I breathe and look across the table.

And there’s Marvia and Alison and Kati Rose and Miah.

There’s always a new “we,” and if I don’t remember to say that, I am only telling half the story. God always gives me a new “we.”

I am a textbook introvert.  Read any list on how to approach those who need solitude to recharge their energy, and you’re pretty much reading a manual on how to get along with me. But I also have a pesky characteristic called connectedness.  I see patterns in everything, and I see how they work together. Give me a minute, and I can tell you how everyone’s actions affect everyone else. This can make me annoying at parties (or at work…or to the unfortunate soul sitting next to me on the bus when I first read the article that is going to piss me off that day…). I was once given an actual soapbox as a gift – partially as a nod to my fondness for standing upon them and partially as a jab at my physical shortness (to which I replied, “I don’t need height – I have minions.”). Connectedness is inherently communal.  So while community may not exactly energize me, it does seem to be a habitual, necessary occurrence in my life.

I have a lot of “we’s” –

  1. Online writer communities – I can never get away with not writing, not with Story Sessions and Andilit on the prowl.
  2. Supper Club – Bonded by our love of food, reading, and TV, this is a group who is not afraid to hear what I really think and is not afraid to tell me what they really think.
  3. Christ the Servant Lutheran Church – I’m new to them, so we’re still figuring each other out.  But they couldn’t be kinder or more welcoming, and I am learning a lot.  It’s nice to find a place where I feel both safe and challenged. Also, they let me be on their outreach team.  My first task? Taking inventory of our current coffee supplies and figuring out a budget for us to move toward being more intentional with fair trade purchases. And when I said no to working with the children (I love many specific children individually, but in packs or running about in public, they kinda freak me out. I blame working daycare.), they listened.  The first time. I’m so happy.
  4.  Various friends I met through Christ Fellowship and The-Church-Formerly-Known-As-Normal-Street (after all this time, I still don’t know the current name of the group.  Wow.) – Even though I am no longer meeting with them on Sundays, these are still the people I would call in an emergency. When I think of my very best friends, in Denton and beyond, I can trace almost all of them back to one (or both – love you, Steph) of these groups.
  5. Maggie and Michelle – They get their own space. They are often my first sounding board and my first readers. If you looked at the text messages on my phone, you would see that over half the total messages I send are to one or both of them. If I ever become obnoxiously wealthy, the first thing I’m going to do is pay off my student loan.  The second thing I’m going to do is buy each of them a house and hire Maggie as my personal assistant and Michelle as my social media coordinator so that they can move back to Denton. So, start making plans, you two.
  6. My family – This is the part where I get weepy with gratitude.  My family is my greatest support. My family is the reason I can’t say mean things about Republicans in general (even though the loud, extreme ones in the media really have it coming).  My conservative parents, sister, and brother-in-law are the most generous, most helpful, most supportive, most responsible, kindest, bravest, funniest, and just all around BEST people I know. I am who I am because of them, and I will be who I’m becoming because of them. I am lucky, lucky, lucky.

I might not have a plus-one right now, but that’s okay.  Because I have a plus-twenty.

I have the community I need.

Who’s your “we?” I’m linking up with Marvia’s Real Talk Tuesday – join us!

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This week has been a cornucopia of madness, so today’s post is accomplishing several goals.

  1. Last week’s assignment from Story 101 was to write something out of your comfort zone. I chose form poetry, because my poetry doesn’t generally like to follow the rules. My sonnet is giving me fits.  So hello, haiku.
  2. One of my goals made with the online writing group with Andilit was to post two blog posts this week.  This makes two.  Done!
  3. And I am linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, hosted this week by Crystal Stine.  Join us and add your two cents (or rather, five minutes). The prompt is “belong.”

And go:

You belong with me

Like cats curled together warm

Even in summer

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Sky plummets to earth

Horizon fights off the wind

Somehow they belong


A sea of people

Often I wonder – will I

Ever belong here?


Clouds burst; rain comes; lush

I breathe in the rooted ground,

Belonging to it.


And because I just can’t help myself…

Whirr, boil, brew, inhale

My heart belongs to coffee.

Bearable morning

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My original schedule for Getting It Together had this week being Adorn – the week I clean out the closet.  I decided, however, to switch it with Rest because:

  1. It’s our week of silence in Story 101.  We are to have a daily practice of silence – whatever that looks like for us.  Traditionally, I would use the week to be off Facebook and Twitter, but that’s not feasible for my work week (both at the workplaces I get paid a salary and my writing/other pursuits). My week of silence will be spent devoting at least 15 minutes every day to each of these restful practices – being quiet and still, reading (this one’s so going longer than 15 minutes), stretching or doing Pilates, writing poetry, and dancing. I’ve put aside specific times every day for these practices. If we’re being totally honest here – this is my favorite week in Story 101.
  2. Life has been stressful lately, and freakishly so, given how easy my summer was meant to have been. Life is really barreling over me. I need relief now.
  3. My bedroom is so full that I can’t really clear out a space around the closet to clean it anyway. It will all be easier and will require less cursing if I just do the bedroom first.
  4. I’ve stopped going to church.  Well, not officially.  I still mean to go.  I really do mean to go, sometime right up to the moment that it’s time to walk out the door.  Then I stop. This doesn’t have anything to do with them.  They’re wonderful. But my hiatus from church has taught me Sabbath. It has taught me what a day of rest really looks like, and now I require it.  I need a day of rest.  Before summer started and I began to move things around (read: into the bedroom), I could go to church in the morning and still come home and rejuvenate. My room is in chaos, though, so being home isn’t so restful. I end up stacking or moving or feverishly cleaning. Or I avoid stacking and moving and cleaning but spend the day with the knowledge – that all those things I need to do are lurking right behind that closed bedroom door – hovering over me like a cloud. This, too, is exhausting. I don’t have time for my weekly rest to require more time than it already does. I need to nest.

So this week is Rest.  The plan for the bedroom is twofold, because honestly – if I can just get the room clean and organized this week, it will be a miracle. So some of the fancier things I want to do will have to wait their turn.

Short-term goals:

  • Clear out. Go through all the boxes (some still packed from the last time I moved…two years ago) and get rid of everything that I don’t need or can’t realistically expect to use within the next year.
  • Organize.  Put whatever is left after I have cleared everything out to place.  If it doesn’t seem to have a place, reconsider if it’s really something I need to keep.
  • Clean. Dust and vacuum. Control the allergens that make me wake up stuffy every morning.

Long-term goals:

  • Make curtains out of the blue sheet set. 
  • Make a headboard, covered with the material from the fitted sheet of that set. I thought about making it to fit in the holes that my dad left in the platform frame, but after searching for DIY instructions on the subject, I ran across this gem.  I like the way it looks, and it seems to be a lot simpler to make than one that actually fits the bed frame.  So for my first foray into headboard-making, this is the one I’m going to go with. I also like that it includes instructions on how to make your own piping, because I’m totally doing that with an old, holey blanket that I was just going to throw out.
  • Rearrange so that there is room for my little blue chair somewhere in the room.  
  • Possibly get a chest (more drawers?) to hold linens to put at the end of the bed.
  • Put up coat rack behind door.

Whew.  I could have spent the whole summer just on my room, it seems. We’ll see how this goes.

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Oh, June.  I’m into you.  I didn’t expect to be.  Maybe the surprise of it is what makes it so mesmerizing.

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The snow cones don’t hurt, either.


Poetry, food, and friends.  Even with two jobs in full swing, June demands vacation reading. I moved my reading lamp to the bedroom, so I have been drenching myself in the poetry collections I keep on my bedside table every night and every morning.  Suddenly, waking up isn’t so hard to do.

Chocolat – Long-time lover of the movie (because Johnny Depp.  And chocolate.  But mostly Johnny Depp), I knew I’d love the book as well. This book will make you hungry…in so many ways.

Ruth Reichl’s debut novel Delicious! was wonderful.  I am biased, because having collected most of her other books and tried most of the recipes within them, I love her and sort of want to be her when I grow up, but Reichl knows how to tell a story.  Also – don’t worry – the gingerbread recipe is at the back of the book.

And my friend Beth Morey’s The Light Between Us was launched this month.  I ordered a paper copy but I couldn’t wait for it to get to me, so I grabbed an e-copy as well. It’s a fast read, because you don’t want to put it down.  This book + beach + mai tai = perfect day.


June was full of fun.

Our Supper Club went to Wine Squared for Sumptuous Sundays on Father’s Day. We enjoyed a wonderful three-course meal with wine pairings for each course which included the most glorious pork loin I’ve ever eaten and a port I actually enjoyed. We, of course, hastily signed up for their wine club.  We’re hooked.

Summer seems to be the time for transitions. Several friends have moved/are moving/got new jobs, so I got to celebrate with them. My old boss Dennis got a job at another school, so the Dean of Students office (where he worked at UNT) had a farewell party for him. Lisa from my book club moved back to the east coast, so we had a special book club meeting (read: night of wine and Texas-themed food/presents) to send her off.  And Jayne and Connor are moving to Juneau soon, so I got to see her last week and will see her again at their garage sale on Saturday.  Added bonus – I bought this adorable thing from them, which is the perfect cabinet for my liquor:

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Dear Savvy turned two.  What she’s into?  Daniel Tiger and butterflies.



(And cake.  And Daddy.)

Because none of us could make the in-person Story Sessions retreat in Austin, the DFW Story Sisters decided to have our own party.  Adela hosted us for an evening of wine, food, and conversation, and it was a balm to my soul.


Um, who knew about Arbonne and failed to tell me?  Kim lured me to a party one Friday with the promise of wine (pretty much the only reason I’ll ever leave my house on a Friday evening), and I’m so glad she did.  I tried all the things, and I AM NOT ALLERGIC TO ANY OF THEM. This never happens.  I ordered the daily face regime for sensitive skin and the deodorant, but I want to buy everything.  I’m having a party in August, and I’m at least going to sign up to be a preferred customer.

Equal Exchange’s Red Cherry Challenge -in addition to their already stellar business practices that ensure a livable wage and a workable business model for coffee farmers, Equal Exchange is donating ten cents for every pound of coffee purchased this year to the Red Cherry Fund, a grant program for farmers in El Salvador and Guatamala, where climate change has wreaked havoc on their businesses. I pledged to buy five pounds of coffee a month (which is actually a pretty conservative estimate for me).  Will you join the challenge?


The first weekend of the month, I did a little dogsitting, which means I also did a lot of Netflixing.  In one weekend, I watched Season 3 of Sherlock (!!!) and both seasons of Orange is the New Black (also !!!). The dogs were incredibly calm, aside from during that pesky storm incident, and I like to think it had something to do with my good taste in programming.

Well, I say they were calm.  This is the look you get from Maddie when you suggest that she “go outside” during OITNB:

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No one gives side eye like Maddie.

I also watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I liked it, but I don’t know if I would have liked it as much as I did if I hadn’t been chatting about it via Facebook with the Story Sessions while watching it. It was clever.  You should see it.

The Internet:

Women ignoring men as art

June 4 was National Hug Your Cat Day, and The Bloggess encouraged all of us to celebrate.

– This was followed two days later by National Donut Day. Mmmm….donut….*salivates*

– Addie Zierman wrote The Non-Blogger’s Guide to Blogging series. This is the first blogging series that hasn’t made me want to throw my hands up in the air (and wave them like I just don’t care) and erase everything I’ve ever done online because why bother if I’m not going to be perfect at it. If you want to improve your blog but can’t stand advice on how to improve your blog, go give it a read.

So you can see why I have such a crush on June this year.  Link up with us over at Leigh Kramer’s blog to let us know what you were into in June!

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