Time to reflect (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

I never imagined I could write 26 posts in 30 days. (Ok, for me it was 24 posts in 30 days, but more on that later!) I read about the A-Z Blogging Challenge on a Facebook group I joined after I started Jeff Goins’ Intentional Blogging Challenge. Disclaimer: note that I said I started Goins’ Challenge. I was ready for a little inspiration! I’d also finished my first Writing Workshop at Voice and Vessel and was finally a to z survivor 2016able to call myself a writer.

What I learned from the Blogging from A-Z Challenge:
1. I’m a slow writer.
2. I can write more than just book reviews–that “life” in my tag line always gave me fits
3. Writing every day takes discipline, but …
4. Writing every day is probably the best way to improve writing
5. Bloggers are interesting–and talented–folks
6. It helps to have a buddy to Challenge with–someone who can sympathize with your 6 AM wail email before work:”I’ve got nothin’ for Q!”  (Thanks, Denice!)
7. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat and I’ve found some more blog fun already–Julie Valerie’s Fiction Writer’s blog hop

Over the next few weeks, I plan to write about some of the new bloggers I’ve discovered, so you can pop by their blogs and take a peek, too. Oh, and those missing 2 posts? I actually used XYZ to end the Challenge because those letters just go togther, don’t they? And seem so. very. final.

And that XYZ business reminded me of a book I read at least a dozen years titled Ella Minnow Pea. (The book made its way to my classroom and, sadly–or maybe not–it disappeared from my shelves forever, into the hands of some teen reader.) It’s a novel in letters–epistolary, that is, and then some. The main character Ella (and, indeed, all residents of the island of Nollop) must obey the Council’s edict and omit certain letters of the alphabet from their daily speech as the letters drop–seemingly prophetically–from the founding father’s statue in the town square. Author Mark Dunn drops the letters from his narrative, as well, and the book is a word lover’s playground. The title Ella Minnow Pea–LMNOP–was the inspiration for my ABC and XYZ post.

I guess once a book blogger, always a book blogger.


XYZ or All Good Things Must Come To An End (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

Today is day 24 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The challenge began with A on April 1 and continues the alphabet throughout thethe little grey mouse month, except on Sundays. My theme for the month will be this blog’s tagline: life, books, and all things bookish, so you can expect a little bit of this ‘n that. I’m still reading, though, and I’ll add reviews whenever possible. Thirty days of blogging is a huge commitment for me, but I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting new blog friends.
Today’s word are letters: X, Y, Z

All good things must come to an end. There’s that slurpy ice cream at the bottom of a cone and the last dip of a chip at a party. There’s the credits rolling at the end of movie, the last gift opened at Christmas, one final bunch of lilacs until next May, the walk across the stage at high school graduation, and one last trip to the beach in August. There’s closing a book read straight through the day (and night).  Sooner rather than later, there will be one last day of school, one last hug.

I’ve met some new-to-me bloggers and read so many great posts I had a hard time keeping up. I’m grateful to the A-Z Blogging Challenge team for the time and energy they gave to keep the project running smoothly.

But all good things must come to an end–even the alphabet X Y Z.

So this is my X marks the spot. My thanks for the memories.

July gifts and graces

July joy darea scrappy black cat ♥ restoring order ♥ put-together & stylin’ ♥ morning prayer ♥ Miss Anna Pie ♥ baby on the move ♥ vote ♥ Fr. John ♥ fresh raspberries & cherries ♥ blue sky smilin’ at me ♥ this old dog ♥ laughing family ♥ try a new approach ♥ mid-life ♥ life’s work vs. life’s love ♥ stepping in ♥ homemade strawberry jam ♥ iced tea ♥ I never promised you a rose garden ♥ meadow blooming ♥ summer sun ♥ memories of a happy lab ♥ garden stepping stones ♥ garden haiku boulders ♥ weeping willow ♥ kitchen blinds ♥ detach ♥ soften ♥ singing with baby ♥ old hymns remembered ♥ soft molasses cookies ♥ this is my symphony ♥ just a glimpse ♥ summer dusk ♥ a tough old broad ♥ drifting away ♥ under my heart ♥ retirement in sight ♥ snapping green beans ♥ newly dripped coffee ♥ tussy mussy from the meadow ♥ my corner ♥ headspace ♥ new kids new year just around the corner ♥ morning sunshine ♥ my inventory ♥ making sense ♥ garden magic ♥ Raffi radio ♥ squeals of delight ♥ making it right ♥ standing on my own two feet ♥ life’s disappointments

* thanks to Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare 

Taking the Joy Dare with Jane Austen

I adore Jane Austen. I mean, I am so there. The countryside, all hedgerows and lanes; the homes—Northanger Abbey, Norland Park–gracious with their breakfast dishes and card rooms. And those Georgian manners, “high spirits and good humor” all around at a carriage ride after breakfast; or, letters hastily set aside with colourless faces.  Where new ribbons can make any bonnet both stylish and flattering. Oh, to spend my leisure time with the piano forte or my petit point and drawing (well, maybe not so much).

joy dareSo I was thrilled when I visited my local independent bookstore to choose a new journal and found this little gem: Jane Austen Novel Journal by Chronicle Books. Oh my goodness. (If you can’t find it locally, the journal is available at Gone Reading, a site with bookish gifts to die for—but more on that in another post!) The pages are sprinkled with quotes from her books; the layouts varied–some ruled, some pin-wheeled, some divided.

Now–me, a journal? Quite uncharacteristic. But I’m using Ann Voss’s Joy Dare this year to count up to one thousand gifts and graces. (You can print your own list of dares from her blog A Holy Experience.)  Because I’m stuck. I’ve had countless experiences of grace recently, worked through some incredibly difficult situations last year, and still I find myself restless. Heart-weary. How can that be in the face of so much that is good in my life? I’ve managed to successfully avoid that whole gratitude journal idea—too often (at least in the posts I read) I find it a kind of maudlin here’s-my-life-I’m-pretty-holy exhibition. Harsh, I know, but that’s how I read ’em. But I know I have to do something to rock myself out of this rut.

Enter the Joy Dare which I found via A Holy Experience via Mundane Faithfulness, evangelical Christian bloggers both. Now that’s not my spiritual bent, but I can sure appreciate that the list offers some guidelines without being proscriptive. It’s fresh. So Sunday I wrote down three “yellow gifts of fresh mercy”. Yesterday was “something above, below, beside” and today, “three startling graces of God”. Now this is something I can do (joyfully, I might add!), right along with Jane, because I think she just might understand: “It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible” (Northanger Abbey).

Which I intend to do.