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AdventWord

I’m gearing up for the first Sunday of Advent this weekend. Advent is one of my favorite seasons…in theory. I love it, but I want to do all the complicated things to make it Meaningful with a capital M. Which I recognize in my head is ridiculous. Especially for a season that is all about waiting and expectation and hoping, which frankly often means a whole lot of sitting around in stillness and quiet.

But last year, I endeavored to light the candles every day. Which in itself is not that much. But then after I lit the candle, I wanted to complete all the readings from the Book of Common Prayer for the day, which is not a bad goal but maybe not one to take on suddenly during one of the busiest months when I am not so great at doing that on a regular basis any other time of the year. Then after I read all the readings, I wanted to complete an art journal page reflecting the readings and also the word prompt from Advent Word (see image above) for the day that I had in my Advent calendar (which the previous year I had knitted and sewed together with my own two hands). This ritual was designed to play out against a playlist of seasonal hymns, perfectly timed to last the length that it took to finish all of the above.

This is not what waiting looks like. I’m exhausted just reading about it.

As you can imagine, there weren’t many days this actually happened. Specifically, looking back on my journal, I see that there were seven days out of the whole four weeks when I had time to do all of that, and I vividly remember doing two days’ pages at once on more than one occasion. Plans are only as good as their execution, so as plans go, this one was not awesome.

This year still has a plan, because otherwise Advent will pass on by without my giving it a thought other than on Sundays and Wednesdays. But it’s a slower plan that’s more conducive to hope and peace and joy and expectation. I still (will) have the candles (as soon as I buy them), because that part I did do every day last year, even if it was just during dinner. I will still use my cute calendar, but this year, as I have discovered that its little pockets are the perfect size for a tea bag or an Emergen-C packet or a single-serve bottle of hooch, I will simply be enjoying a daily beverage along with my candles/supper/staring at the Christmas tree lights.

There will likely be music in the background from my record player or a Spotify playlist. I will probably still read through some of the daily readings, as that is a habit I’d like to pick up this year, but I’m not going to make an issue of it or feel like I’m running behind if I don’t. I will also sporadically play along on Instagram with Advent Word or with Susannah Conway’s December Reflections prompts, because that’s fun.

But no extra stress or unreasonable to-do lists. Just waiting. And hope. And expecting. And joy. That’s what I hope to take from Advent this year.

 

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If I Had a Band…

photo 5It would be a cover band, because I am not a songwriter. And I have an obsession with cover bands. I could totally see myself being in one. My first album would be a collection of my favorite songs to belt out on a long drive.

In order of appearance:

1. Build Me Up, Buttercup (The Foundations) – I love this song. I might even say that it is my favorite song of all time. A theme song, if you will. The album will start with a regular cover or a respectful nod to the original. Who wants to be the drummer?

2. Don’t Fence Me In (Roy Rogers) – So much fun. Favorite line – “Gaze at the moon until I lose my senses.” Okay, I’m going to need a guitar player.

3. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye (The Casinos) – This is the song that I want to dance our first dance to at my wedding reception. You know, if ever such a thing should happen.

4. Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill) – Oh, riot!grrl music – yeah, this one’s going on there.

5. Crazy (Patsy Cline) – Because I’m from Texas. And this song sounds awesome with a jazzy vocal arrangement that the people of the world just need to hear.

6. Dream a Little Dream of Me (The Mamas and the Papas) – this one reminds me of an old friend, which is exactly what the middle of an album should be.

7. Scotch and Soda (Kingston Trio) – An opportunity to show off my smooth piano skills (that I would brush up on if I knew I’d have to play in public) to cover up the fact that my voice is, at best, mediocre? Yes, please.

8. Black Coffee (every jazz singer since the beginning of jazz) – Do I really need to explain why with this one? Although I’d have to bring in a guest vocalist on this one. Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald sang this, y’all. I can’t compete with that, nor would I sully the memory of their renditions by trying to do so.

9. For Your Love (Ed Townsend) – Such a pretty yet simple song.

10. Love Me (Treat Me Like a Fool) (Elvis Presley) – Another crowd pleaser. Thank you. Thank you very much.

11. Build Me Up, Buttercup (The Foundations)- ending where we began, except with a punk or riot!grrl version – because that’s just how my cover band would roll.

I really, really want to make this album now.

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Friday Five3

This week has been full of festivities and people helping and raising money and reaching out. Here are some small snippets that capture some of the work and the joy on the intrawebs this week.

  1. You have probably heard of the attack in Somalia that left over 300 dead in October. Even if you haven’t, it’s not too late to help. You can find links to the story as well as suggestions for getting involved here.
  2. Postmodern Jukebox and Wayne Brady sing a 30’s style Thriller. Also check out Sarah Reich, one of my favorite tap dancers, on his left.
  3. I love seeing how people dress up for Halloween. Favorites this year were Shonda Rhimes as Debbie Allen and Kristen Bell as Magnum, P.I.
  4. There are a lot of things going on in Denton this weekend. I might go to all of them. Or I might just go to the Friends of the Library book sale.
  5. And finally, here are some pictures of people who absolutely did not want the damn cats.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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There are few sounds that soothe me more than the sound of a record playing.

The perfect relaxing evening for me is the calm trifecta – records playing with a good book and soothing beverage in hand. I love evenings like this. I don’t get them every day, though, so do I just accept that I’m going to be stressed out until I can get to my next relaxing evening? Oh, no. That would be madness.

Rest is more than sleeping and taking time off. It doesn’t have to take large chunks of time that you have set aside. There are ways to incorporate a state of restfulness into your day, and they don’t have to be complicated. Doing so helps you maintain some of the balance and bypass some of the (*W#&(*#(@)Q! I don’t know about you, but I could do with a little less punctuational angst.

Mostly, restfulness hinges on something simple like remembering to take breaks. In said break, you can stretch, clear your head, breathe, or do any number of things that calm you down. Sometimes, you can do them right at your desk.

Part of the reason I am listing something that I do to rest everyday is to remind myself to take breaks. Most of the things I mention are longer activities, but I don’t want to discount the small things, because they add up.

So today, my restful act is remembering to take a few 5-minute breaks during the workday. So far, I’ve taken two, and it’s amazing how much more relaxed I feel than usual. Sounds like something I may want to consider making a part of every day.

 

I’m spending 31 days running wild. 

 

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Friday Five2

“Five” is more of a guideline, really.

Because I believe in reaching beyond limits and breaking all manner of ceilings, I’m not going to limit my links this week to five. I believe we can all benefit from going beyond our limits today (and also tomorrow…and for the next four years…). Going beyond our limits and doing and being more is something it would be good for us all to learn to practice.

Things I saved from the Internet this week:

  1. Happy birthday to Michelle Obama on Tuesday. BookBub lists five books she has mentioned loving, because reading and knowledge are power. And I love people who read to kids. This year, I want to follow her example. Reading to children is the only thing I miss from working daycare.
  2. Off the Shelf compiled a similar list of what has been on Barack Obama’s bookshelf.
  3. Ann Patchett wrote a touching goodbye tribute to the Obamas.
  4. My friend Bola has created a character that I can’t wait to see on the screen. A black mermaid? Yes, please. Follow The Water Phoenix on Facebook.
  5. I am not your Teachable Moment – from Everyday Feminism.
  6. Dallas is getting a new independent bookstore – Interabang Books, coming in May!
  7. Another reason to get a piano – studying/playing music is linked to increased civic engagement, improved reading comprehension, and better math skills. While I am firmly in the camp that believes that defending the study of music because it’s good for other things is “like defending kissing because it gives you stronger lip muscles for eating soup neatly,” I also recognize that it is good for other things. And we may need it to be good for other things…
  8. …because Betsy DeVos. Tell your senators no. Here are some ways.

And my favorite thing I’ve read this week – it’s long, but so worth it. To Obama, With Love, and Hate, and Desperation.

Edited to add – my friend Jamie Wright Bagley has a poetry e-course that is up on her website. It’s free, but it’s only available for a limited time. You want to do it!

 

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In no particular order, here are the highlights of my December.

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 1. Advent –

Quite possibly my favorite season of the liturgical year. Or maybe it’s just the only one I’m good at. I understand what it’s like to wait. Oh, how I understand waiting and all the complications that go with it. I put journal prompts in the pockets of my Advent calendar, and I got to go to mid-week services this year, which at least made the waiting less lonely.

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 2. A lesson in carols –

Our choir prepared extra songs for one of the services. It reminded me of being part of Christmas cantatas when I was younger. I didn’t even know I had missed doing that until this month.

 3. Person of Interest –

I LOVE THIS SHOW. I have watched through Season 4. If I cave and get cable, this show might be the reason.

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 4. Holiday snacks –

Another great thing about this time of year is the delicious snacking. I have had a ridiculous amount of sugar this month.

 5. A finals week without finals –

Finals week was pretty much just another week at work. It was a little busier with people handing in their keys before they left for the break, but no classes meant no grading, no constant barrage of emails from students who waited until the last possible moment to care about their grades, and no voice messages from the department secretary telling me that a student called because I hadn’t answered their email (that they sent an hour ago) and could I please call them back. It was such a peaceful week. I could get used to that.

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 6. Poetry class –

I am loving Beth Morey’s Poetry Is course (and her My Fearless Year 2016 mini-course – check it out – only $12) and the books that go with it. I have had sort of a dry spell with reading, but Poemcrazy and Writing Down the Bones have been an indulgent retreat.

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 7. Stephanie getting married –

My friend Steph got married! I am so happy for her and thrilled that I could be there for her special day.

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 8. Spending time with family –

Growing up, the picture you see above never would have happened at my parents’ house. Animals belonged outside, and if you wanted to play with them, you would just have to go outside, too. Now, Lola has her own special spots in the house where she likes to sit. Dad’s lap is one such spot.

 I went shopping with Tammy yesterday and found all sorts of treasures (Christmas tree – $20!). Then we spent the evening watching Once Upon a Time. We’re almost through season three. I cannot handle how much I like this show.

 9. Two weeks of vacation

I’ve had a restful (well…more restful. My neighborhood is loud and obnoxious) two weeks. Monday, I go back to work and have a little over a week to ease back into being there before the residents return.

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 10. Not putting up a Christmas tree –

Apparently, I used all my decorating energy on the Advent calendar, because I could not get motivated to put up a Christmas tree this year. About a week before Christmas, I finally admitted that it wasn’t going to happen. The candy canes on the curtain rods would just have to do.

 

 I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and tell us what you’re into this month!

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This is going to be short and sweet. I’m not that into July. Because OMG hot. I’m into July being over.

Y’all.  Y’ALL. You know how much I love Nina Simone.

Well. WELL:

Here, there was originally a great video of Lauryn Hill singing Feelin’ Good on the Tonight Show, but it has been taken down. If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to want to Google it. If you have seen it, you know you’re going to want to Google it again.

God bless Lauryn Hill. I need that album. NEED.

(I will make real sentences soon.)

To watch (other than that video, of course):

My sister and I have been watching White Collar. I just love this show. My heart cannot accept that it was canceled.

I blame the charm of Neal Caffrey for my sudden need to watch old Robert Redford/Paul Newman movies (think The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) this month.

To read:

My favorite thing I’ve read this month is Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. If I were to be an advice columnist, this is exactly the advice I would give. I have never agreed so fully and adamantly with pretty much everything someone said in a book as I did with this one.

To do:

It’s been a busy month, but I’ve been into the usual things – book clubs, supper club, random outings with friends. I did make time to enjoy this glorious thing:

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It’s a cold brew from Harvest House with a little vanilla bourbon tucked inside. HAPPY.

And that’s pretty much been the month.

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

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