Three Seeds Under

searching for wholeness in a fractured world

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starting up again

When your life changes dramatically (even in a good way), it can sometimes be hard to fall back into the swing of things. That’s the best excuse I can come up with for leaving this blog sitting vacant for six months. But being at Foolscap this weekend and meeting so many other writers gave me the kick in the pants I need to get back to it.

Regularly scheduled book reviews will start again tomorrow.

Clarion Write-a-Thon

I’m a big fan of the Clarion writer’s workshop. It has turned out some amazing authors, and looks like such a fun experience. Someday, I’d like to be able to participate in it. But for now, I can participate in the Write-a-Thon, to raise some money for this fantastic program, and get a bit of writing done, to boot!

My goal this summer is to draft, edit, and submit three new short stories. To help myself decide what to write, I spent this evening putting together a BINGO card (which Drew then made pretty for me). Each story that I write this summer should complete either a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal BINGO.

Slide1

But it wouldn’t be a Write-a-Thon without some audience participation! Therefore, I’m giving you all the chance to sponsor me if you also want to help out Clarion.

Amount Donated Incentive
$5 Your own, personalized BINGO card of writing prompts
$10 Editing and feedback* on any story under 5k, or one hour of cheerleading/brainstorming services via e-mail, IM or Skype
$20 Editing and feedback* on any story under 10k, or two hours of cheerleading/brainstorming services via e-mail, IM or Skype
$50 Editing and feedback* on any work under 50k, or on-call** cheerleading/brainstorming services via e-mail, IM, or Skype for an entire week! I will also throw in a Tarot reading for your current story or any of its characters.
$100 Editing and feedback* on any work under $100k, with on-call** cheerleading/brainstorming services via e-mail, IM or Skype for a month! In addition, you will get a Tarot reading for your current story or any of its characters, a personalized BINGO prompt card, a video trailer for your story, and something awesome*** handcrafted by yours truly.

* When it comes to editing and feedback, I’m very versatile. I can do surface-level polishing of spelling and grammar (be warned — I am an English teacher!), or I can give you more in-depth feedback on plot, characterization, or just about anything else you can think of.

** Within reason. I do need to eat and sleep, after all 🙂

** You can choose between any of my delicious baked goods, a pocket shrine or set of 10 inchies, or a poem.

Intrigued? Head over to my Write-a-Thon page and click “Sponsor this writer.”

The Art of Life

At our church every Sunday, we have a moment I treasure called Joys and Sorrows. The celebrant usually introduces it with, “As we travel through life, each of us comes upon high and low points in individual journeys. By sharing these peaks and valleys with others, our sorrows are lightened and our joys enhanced.” I’m not sure if this is a peak or a valley I’ve stumbled upon. Maybe it’s both — a swaying rope bridge suspended high over a valley. My blog has sat empty for a few weeks now while I started the journey across it. But now that I’m feeling more secure in my footing, I’m ready to share.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about Terri Windling’s fantastic novel, The Wood Wife, which I made a point of re-reading four years ago when my husband and I moved from the lovely bayside town of Bellingham to the shrub steppe desert of Yakima. It’s been a joy and a challenge living here — I’ve grown a lot, met some fabulous people, and even learned to appreciate the beauty of the red hills that loom like sleeping dinosaurs on the horizon. For awhile, we strongly considered buying a house and settling down here. But if we did, I think that’s just what it would feel like — settling.

In our hearts, we’ve never stopped thinking of Bellingham as home. We even have a map of Bellingham Bay over our mantle. Soon enough, we’re going to see it again in person. I’ve resigned from my job, and we’re preparing to move back to the town we love.

Mantle1

In The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, I found a quote that has been my motto: Leap, and the net will appear. I don’t have a new job lined up yet , and I’m going to miss the community we’ve found. We’ll almost certainly take a hit financially. But in a way, it’s never going to be easier to move than it is right now, while my husband is in graduate school and we don’t have any kids. It’s a leap of faith — but even if the net doesn’t materialize, hitting bottom, in this case, won’t be all that bad. God knows we’ve learned how to live cheaply in Bellingham. And this move will put us closer to family, and to used bookstores, and coffee shops, and public transit, and a million other things that have made my life poorer through missing them. At any rate, I’m seeing the road ahead, not as a trial, but as an adventure. I’m looking forward to these next few months, rickety footbridge and all!

(100 books) 4 – Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

I’ve always loved the idea of waking early and setting aside some time in the morning for spirituality — a walk to the park, a session of morning pages, a few minutes of prayer or meditation, or even a chapter in an inspirational book. Since I began teaching, those mornings have been much rarer than they used to be. In an effort to encourage myself to wake up earlier, I set up a little altar space in the living room, complete with a full-spectrum sun lamp, a chalice, and a basket of books.

My altar
Here is a little snapshot of my altar I took using Instagram. The tulips were a gift from my husband; the Persephone and Hades plaque is a recent find from Seattle.

Despite that incentive, I still struggle to drag myself out of bed with any time to spare in the morning. That is why it took me several months to make it through Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore.

The care of the soul

At any rate, even as I closed the last page of Care of the Soul a few months ago, I knew that it would be a book I’d refer back to often. Sure enough, I’ve been thinking of it a lot lately, maybe because my husband, Drew, recently referenced it in his learning blog. Lately, I’ve been struggling to find a sense of stability in my life. I find myself craving the structure of purposeful discipline. Too often, it’s a struggle just to eat dinner before 9 o’clock. I’m trying to impose some order on my life, chipping away at the chaos with a day planner and the sort of desperate smile that stretches our faces just before we burst into overwhelmed tears. I knew at once that Care of the Soul would become a powerful ally in this quest for stability.

I found myself nodding when Moore wrote, “Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with “fixing” a central flaw as with attending to the small details of daily life, as well as to major decisions and changes.” Those small details are the ones I struggle with the most. It’s easy enough for me to scrub down my kitchen once a week, but so much harder to keep it clean, to load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters before bed so that I can wake to a clean palette for my morning smoothie and coffee. I want to learn to cultivate beauty in my life, for beauty nourishes the soul. And I want to spend another series of mornings re-reading this book — I feel like I’ve only begun to glimpse the lessons it can teach me.

This morning, again, I tumbled out of bed with barely enough time to shower, dress, and jump in the car for work. I’m going to bed too late again tonight. But I’m going to challenge myself anyway — I’m going to set my cell phone alarm for 5:00 a.m. tomorrow and scrape myself out of bed without hitting snooze a dozen times first. If nothing else, I’d like to spend 15 minutes with my mood lamp and a cup of coffee tomorrow morning. It’s a little thing, but it is on such little rituals that we build the foundation of our lives.

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