I Went to Nest Fest and All I Bought was a Bunch of Books (so I’m giving them away!)

fullsizeoutput_1efb

We drove five hours down I-77, outrunning the rain, driving between mountains, watching the leaves go from patchwork back to green again, then landing where the sun shone bright on a field-full of artisans and musicians and writers and creatives of all types. We went to the big white barn. I knew my friend Shelly would be there, and Lisa, and Emily. That’s why I went—to see some friends. And before I even walked the grounds I ran out of cash because I bought so. many. books. My only regret? I didn’t buy more books. I wish I had bought Tim’s newest book—a beautiful Christmas story that seems to celebrate his love for his three “pixie” daughters, because amazon tells me they are out of stock. And I wanted Edie’s book too—I loved her Lenten devotional this year. And Logan was there and Myquillyn, of course, and so much loveliness!

Sometimes, I need to run away to find my way back home. You? Autumn fills me with the wanderlust and a road trip always cures the ill. Jeff came along with me—my favorite travel companion. He sees a lot, that man. Just sits back and watches. You know what he said to me after watching me hug on Shelly for a time, then sit at Lisa’s feet to catch up, and soak up some wisdom from Tim? “You need to write more,” he said. “It’s clear how happy this makes you.” He knows I’ve been struggling with words lately. We’ve been wrestling with the question of time and I’ve gradually arrived at a place of acceptance. Acceptance that my time needs to be invested in other things for a season. But he knows it makes me sad. Because, writers gotta write, right?

The next best thing to writing is rubbing shoulders with some special writers. So that’s what I did this weekend. And because writers need readers, to celebrate beautiful YOU, my dear reader, I’m giving away some books. I have a signed copy of Lisa Whittle’s newest book I Want God, a signed copy of Emily P. Freeman’s book Simply Tuesday (my favorite go-to book when I’m feeling very small), and a book that Shelly Miller was supposed to sign for you but didn’t. I discovered too late that she forgot to sign it.  But … her sweet hands held this book, I promise. So that’s a copy of Rhythms of Rest, not signed, but touched by the author. One lucky reader will win this awesome stack of books. Just leave a comment for a chance to win. If you share on social media, let me know and you’ll get extra entries for each way you share. Winner will be announced on Friday, 10/28. I’ll leave you with a few random shots from Nest Fest. xo

img_8734

fullsizeoutput_1ef5

fullsizeoutput_1ef7

fullsizeoutput_1ef8

fullsizeoutput_1efa

img_7809

img_7810

img_7813

img_7815

img_7817

The Right to Write: I Go Alone (book club)

image by Lívia Cristina L. C.

image by Lívia Cristina L. C.

This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here. Don’t forget about the giveaway on yesterday’s post.

One lovely thing about the Almost Empty Nest is the way I feel God restoring my creativity on a deeper level during this season. This is the story of one tool he is using to do this.

::

Every evening it’s the same. I feel the pull—feet need to walk. Sometimes Jeff goes with me, sometimes a friend. But many days…I go alone. These are the times I feel the breath of God, the times my restless heart feels peace. During these solitary walks I collect treasures untold—feed my muse.

Some gems from this week’s cache:

Streets glistening with memory of rain.
Air heavy with scent of fall.
Whispering creek threatening to spill.
Solitary feather floating on breeze.

In this week’s readings from The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, Julia Cameron encourages “Artist Dates”— a once-weekly solitary expedition to something festive that interests us…

We must go alone, she says.

We go alone because an Artist Date is half “artist” and half “date”. You are romancing, wooing, courting your creative consciousness. This is something that requires you and your inner artist to spend time alone…

These Artist Dates replenish our store of creativity—what Cameron calls the well. The well needs regular tending, she says.

… care and maintenance of our writing muscles are necessary for our writing stamina. This means that we must take the time and attention necessary to fill the well instead of drawing on it unrelentingly and without consciousness of our inner limits. While this may sound difficult or onerous, the payoff in terms of our writing lives is enormous. Even the smallest amount of self-nurturance will have an immediate and beneficial impact on our writing. A regular and gentle program of self-care will result in a level of ease and authority in our writing that is often astounding.

If I don’t go, my well will eventually run dry. If I don’t go alone, I don’t see. I don’t see the feather drifting on the wind.

I don’t feel myself lifted with the breeze … see the world beneath me passing by. I miss the chance to shed gravity—feel the burden of earth’s bindings slip away and take flight. I become the feather when I see this way. I am cupped by the Invisible Hand that ushers the wind.

Today? My well is filled to overflowing.

This week we learned about the Artist Date, about writing as a physical act, and the importance of sketching. What spoke to you in this week’s readings? Three more chapters for next week: Loneliness, Witness, and Why Don’t We Do It In the Road? In the meantime, fill the well.

Week 4: Witness
Week 3: Invite the Muse to Tea
Week 2: Write from Love
Week 1: Start Where You Are
Introduction: Invitation

Above image by Lívia Cristina L. C., sourced via Flickr, used with permission.

Almost Empty

Image by Lívia Cristina L. C., sourced via Flickr, used with permission.

Artist Date: Apiary

When the goldenrod bend their heads low in the meadow behind my house, I visit the apiary.
“That’s how you know the goldenrod is nectaring,” the beekeeper tells me on the telephone. “The tops fall over.” I’ve been trying to visit the honeybees for weeks now, but each morning when I call, the bee man tells me he’s too busy or the conditions aren’t right. “This isn’t a good day for working bees,” he says. “Let’s keep our eyes to the sky and see what Mother Nature throws us.”
Every day I check the weather. I stand out on the porch in the early morning and feel storms brewing in the air. In the night, I dream of honey. When I awaken, I carry a memory of amber—a dewy sweetness on my tongue.
I’m talking about the honeybees over at Tweetspeak poetry today. Will you join me?

Artist Date: Marinara

I hold the tomato in the palm of my hand. Red and round and perfect, it whispers to me in the early morning sun, I am more than what you see. I press its coolness to my nose, feel the damp that beads on its smooth surface, and I see the possibilities. 
The mid-August air has lost some of its heaviness already, the coolness of morning lingering longer each day. Most of the local schools are in session, my house is empty, and I am alone with the garden. The tomato vines bend low with plump fruit. I move between their leafy fullness, plucking as I go. My apron makes a handy basket—I gather up its skirt-like corners and soon it dips low in the center, filled with all these ruby-skinned gems.
Inside, I spread the bounty out on newspaper-covered counters. I cut a little X on the bottom of each round with a serrated knife. The pot of water sits on the stove to boil for dipping batches of plump fruit into roiling waves. They bump each other around for 15 seconds in the hot bath and then it’s time to blanch them in the waiting ice water. The skins slip off easily after their spa and I chop them into a thick puree with my food processor. 
I’m sharing an Artist Date over at Tweetspeak Poetry today. Will you join me for some yummy marinara?

Artist Date: Clover

The ground feels soft and springy under my bare feet and the pinkish, bobble-headed clover tickles that tender place in my arch. I’m careful where I step, mindful of the honeybees. The last bits of daylight eke over the edge of the horizon and I feel the temperature drop, the damp of dew settling in for the night.
I am walking the dog around the house, and this in-between hour with its amber light reminds me of when I was little and my sister insisted she heard two rabbits speaking to each other in the fading light of evening. My brothers and I knew this hour held magic and never doubted her. Now, as I round the corner of the house, I eye a long-eared cottontail dubiously. The dog keeps walking, oblivious to the trespasser’s presence.
We trace the warm brick of this place we live in and my mind is slipping back into checklists and chores when, suddenly, nightfall is announced with flashing lights. I blink into the rhododendron, squint my eyes in the dim light.

Fireflies.

Hey! I’m sharing an artist date over at Tweetspeak Poetry today. Will you join me for the rest of this luminescent account? 

Image by Robin Iversen Rönnlund. Used with permission.