Entering Lent and Leaving Social Media Behind: Welcoming a More Passive Life

What do you get when you cross Lent with Sabbath?

I’m about to find out.

Oyster Bay, Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Oyster Bay, Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Taken during last week's writers' retreat.

The last four years of moving to Virginia, living in Brooklyn as a “granny nanny,” writing a book, and traveling, have been wonderful. You might call this period of time The Active Life.

This style of living has been a great blessing to me. I relish waking up in the morning to a list of tasks to accomplish — and even more, going to bed after I have crossed them off my list. I even made a list of things to do when I went to a writers’ retreat!

Along the way, I have made thousands of new friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. I even have Flickr , Tumblr, and Pinterest accounts, although I did draw the line on actively using all of these. Facebook has been my favorite. Twitter next.

Because of social media, the launch of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World was fun! Without social media, book sales would not have exceeded my hopes and dreams. Audiences at book talks would have been smaller. I would have traveled less.

As grateful as I am for the Active Life made possible by social media, there’s a part of me that needs more time for rest and reflection.

I crave a more Passive Life for awhile. I want to surrender to silence.

To show you how my brain has  been trained, I wrote those words and then thought, “That would make a great tweet.” :-)

I need to stop looking for inspiring 140-character quotes and start listening to my own questions.

I need to return to my favorite red chair where I read, write in longhand, and pray.

The red chair with a view of the mountains.

The red chair with a view of the mountains.

I want to lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. I want to listen and notice.

When will the first signs of spring appear? How do the passages in the Lenten Meditation booklet stir signs of new life in my own spirit?

The Shenandoah Valley last Spring

The Shenandoah Valley last Spring

Here are the concrete steps I am taking. I make them public so that I will feel more accountable when I return.

1. I’m taking Facebook and Twitter off my phone.

2. I’m leaving my phone on my desk at night (and not taking it into the bedroom).

3. I’ll check my email, and I’ll send out a weekly Magical Memoir Moment to the people who have signed up to get one every week (see email signup on the upper right-hand column)

4. I’m giving up sugar while I’m at it!

Will I go crazy? I’ll keep track of my withdawal symptoms and try to go for walks when they get too bad. What else will I do?

I’ll spend a week helping out with grandchildren and another week in New York City getting ready to celebrate Owen’s fourth!! birthday and then Easter Sunday with my family in Pennsylvania.

I’ll also spend some time with that pesky Box in the Basement.

And when Easter comes, and Passover ends, I’ll come back here on April and report in.

I promise.

In the meantime, I leave you with this Irish blessing I’ll look at every day:

An Irish Blessing

An Irish Blessing

Yes, if you look carefully, you’ll see my reflection as I took that picture. That’s where I’ll be. Behind the glass of the internet, looking out into nature itself.

Taking inspiration from Whitman:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

Do you ever long to go on a social media fast or sabbatical? What questions do you have for me to think about during this last week before Ash Wednesday?

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Be a Namer! How Madeleine L’Engle Named My Vocation

Every writer hopes to find words that resonate in other lives.

And every reader chooses favorite writers, partly based on their proven power to penetrate the veil of death through language.

Madeleine L’Engle plays such a role in my life. Even though she died in 2007, she lives in my memory through her visits to Goshen College and, even more, through her books.

Be a Namer: An Admonition

Be a Namer: An Admonition

I encountered Madeleine L’Engle many times over the course of her 88 years. The first time, I was a young teacher who tried to read A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet). One of my tenth-grade students loved the book. I could not connect with it. I assumed that I just didn’t like fantasy, the genre, since the book had won a Newbery Award and was already a classic.

After fours years of graduate school and after becoming a mother, I tried the book again. This time I loved it. And as my son Anthony grew older, I placed this book and the others in the series on my list of books to read to him at night.

Mother and son taking in the view above Port au Prince

Mother and son taking in the view above Port au Prince

One night, as I was reading to Anthony from A Wind in the Door (second in the Time Quintet), I came across an exchange between Meg, the teenage heroine of the book, and an angel named Progo.

Progo is explaining why he is calling out the names of the stars. He knows they need to be named in order for peace to exist on earth.

The enemy of peace is a force called the Ecthroi, which Progo interprets to Meg this way:

“I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming – making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then the Echthroi will be vanquished.”

As I read these words to Anthony, tears began sliding down my cheeks. My own deepest desires surged through me. I wanted him to know his name. Anthony. A family name, yes. But also the name of the desert father St. Anthony, a Christian mystic and first monastic.

"Piero di Cosimo 025" by Piero di Cosimo - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piero_di_Cosimo_025.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Piero_di_Cosimo_025.jpg

From the Visitation of St. Nicholas and St. Anthony by Piero di Cosimo http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piero_di_Cosimo_025.jpg

St. Anthony was a namer.

When Madeleine L’Engle came to Goshen College and signed Anthony’s copy of The Wind and the Door, she reached me, too, with her message of “Be a Namer.”

I took on the role of Namer as mother and Namer as teacher.

As a result, I paid attention to my own literal name in Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World and have talked with my children, husband, students, colleagues, and friends about names and their importance in our lives.

I have also tried to reach the depth of metaphor Madeleine L’Engle discovered. My deepest desire is to contribute to peace by helping others find their names — their callings and purpose in life. In so doing, I have found my own.

Anthony has become a namer too. He has found his own way to follow Madeleine L’Engle’s advice. I think she would approve.

Anthony reads to Julia

Anthony reads to Julia

Does this idea of being a namer resonate with you? Have words from an author entered deeply into your own life and vocation? How?

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The Snowstorm that Wasn’t: Legendary Busts and Blizzards

Yesterday the internets were alive with jokes about the Great Storm Bust of 2015. For those who lived in NYC, especially, a huge gap emerged between the hyped predictions (“historic storm coming — two to three feet!) and the actual snowfall of between 1.5 and 10 inches in the greater NYC area.

From http://memegenerator.net/instance/58516356

The poor politicians and meteorologists had snowballs  — small ones — on their faces.

It could have been otherwise, of course.

The blizzard hit further north and east than predicted. It came. It just didn’t come to where the subways and media outlets connect nearly nine million people to the rest of the world.

Snowfall is like wine and fishing — the longer the distance in time, the greater the size and quality of the product.

I remember, for example, the Great Blizzard of 1958 — the year 42 inches of snow fell in Lancaster County and closed Fairland Elmentary School, where I was a student in fourth grade. You may remember reading about that school in Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

The snowstorms of that year never made it into the book. Nor did this picture of the Spahr Farm covered in two feet of snow.

Spahr Farm after the snow fell and wind died down, 1958

Spahr Farm after the snow fell and wind died down, 1958

My father and his neighbor Dan Martin worked together to create a path for the milk truck to use, since the road that connected our two farms had blown shut. They used tractors and trucks and saved the milk from having to be dumped, which would have been a calamity.

We children, however, loved the blizzards that year. We pressed our ears to the radio to hear “school closing” announcements. When the announcer finally said “Manheim Central Schools,” we shouted with joy and began to plan our adventures in the snow. Sleds, snowball battles, forts, snow angels, ice cream. We did it all.

Our soaked mittens, hats, snowsuits, and coats hung over the radiator to dry. Sometimes the smell of hot wool sizzling reminded us that they were dry enough to go outside and play again.

Now, when I look out my window and see snow, I just rejoice in the beauty.

January 2015 view from the deck

January 2015 view from the deck

It matters not to me whether blizzards come or not. Unless I am headed to an airport, which I am today. That’s the luxury of this stage of life.

Tell us your snow story, either recent or long ago. Have you survived real blizzards? Busts?

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Pittsburgh and Propelle: Where Fun and Family Meet

I came to Pittsburgh this week for two reasons: to spend some good face-to-face time with my daughter Kate and to get some help with my 2015 planning.

Kate at her work station in the co-working space on the first floor

Kate at her work station in the co-working space on the first floor

Yesterday was a “work” day for my four-day visit. We launched the work day at Whole Foods and then returned to the “sunny urban” AirBnB unit on the second floor.

I purchased two hours of time from Kate and her business partner Emily who are co-founders of a company called Propelle. They gave me the VIP treatment.

Kate prepared lunch, using her signature style -- sunny colors -- as snow fell outside.

Kate prepared lunch, using her signature style -- sunny colors -- as snow fell outside.

We looked at the long list of weekly activities I am now doing. Emily and Kate responded with some great suggestions to my request that we find a way to simplify website, newsletter, blog, and social media presence to give me more time for that project I announced way back in September 2014 — the box in the basement.

We talked for two hours, reviewing options. I was awed by the enthusiasm and quick minds and fingers of these two young women as they whizzed through the analytics on WordPress and MailChimp and explained how easy it would be to do XY and Z.

 

Emily and Kate, ready to serve up the challenges and suggest solutions.

Emily and Kate, ready to serve up the challenges and suggest solutions.

I picked their brains for two hours. Then we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

Later that same day, I got a summary of the suggestions. Now all I have to do is put them in practice. More about that in future posts.

In the meantime, I’m back to hanging out with just Kate.

Lucky me.

Kate in relaxed mode. She saw this pic and said, "I look like a mermaid!"

Kate in relaxed mode. Chillin' like a pink mermaid.

Does your weekly to-do list have too much on it? Have you ever hired a family member to help you? How did that go for you?

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A Week in Sarasota: The Bittersweet Disruption of Cars

As you read these words, I am heading back north from Sarasota, Florida.

Sunrise on the wing of the airplane on the way to the South.

Sunrise on the wing of the airplane on the way to the south.

I leave behind the palm trees, Gulf breezes, white sands, delicious fresh sea food, key lime pie, beach sunrises and sunsets, — and some wonderful surprises!

Photo by Janet Oberholtzer. I enjoyed speaking to her book club. I met nine new readers of BLUSH and felt like all of them were old friends.

Photo by Janet Oberholtzer. I enjoyed speaking to her book club. I met nine new readers of BLUSH and felt like all of them were old friends.

Two of the surprises had to do with cars.

A 1975 Olds 88 convertible. Friends gave us a memorable ride on Stuart's birthday.

A 1975 Olds 88 convertible. Friends gave us a memorable ride on Stuart's birthday. We didn't even know this beautiful vintage car existed until we took the trip.

 

Tesla Motors Showroom in Sarasota

Tesla Motors Showroom in Sarasota. Meeting a new vision of the future. We'll take this vision home and ponder it.

Just last week I described my approach to 2015 as “planning more and planning less.”

This week Stuart and I practiced what I preached last week.

We didn’t know we would be visiting a Tesla showroom. We had heard of Tesla, both the original inventor and the car named after him, so when one of our friends mentioned the fact that the new mall included a showroom, we decided to head over there. We were met by an “evangelist.”

If you want to get the flavor of the excitement on the floor, watch this video about the visionary CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk:

When we planned the trip months ago, we had five or six known appointments. Some were book talks. Some were related to Stuart’s work. We knew we would enjoy the weather and reunions with many friends.

What we didn’t know were the “bonuses,” all the sweeter because they were not planned.

There was sadness also. While we were enjoying beautiful cars in Florida, Uncle Ken passed away in Pennsylvania.

If you read Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, you remember that he and Daddy were best friends and that both of them loved cars. Our joy of discovery became bittersweet with the news of Uncle Ken’s death.

Uncle Ken (left) and Daddy (right) 1946. They shared a love of cars and farming. They were best friends until Daddy's death in 1980.

Uncle Ken (left) and Daddy (right) 1946. They shared a love of cars and farming. They were best friends until Daddy's death in 1980.

What bonuses popped into your life this week? Did any of them have to do with cars? Have you encountered bitter-sweetness in any of your discoveries?

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Plan More, Plan Less: Continuing the Search for Simplicity and Legacy By Reviewing 2014 and Sharing Goals for 2015

Last year at this time, I had a plan for 2014. I even wrote about it.  I heard back from many readers about my plan to CONNECT (my word for the year) and to continue the search for simplicity and legacy by creating goals centered on my mission: to prepare for the hour of my death by living one good day at a time.

Notes from 2014 planning. These are always on my right as I write.

Notes from 2014 planning. These stayed up all year and are always on my right as I write.

The process of end-of-year reflection is one I look forward to each year.

First, here are my three 2014 goals:

  • daily rituals that remind me of my mission: to prepare for the hour of my death by living one good day at a time, and to help others do the same.
  • travel to at least eight places (plans so far include Laurelville and Lancaster, PA; Mexico; Kansas City and other Kansas towns; Elkhart County, IN; Holland, MI). I would love to do a West Coast trip, a Canada trip. I am planning my travel for the year now, so please let me know if you would like me to speak in a location near you or have a venue in mind for a book talk. Have book, will travel. :-)
  • a possible new e-book using the best of Magical Memoir Moments to help inspire other people to remember stories from their past and build a legacy. If you have signed up in the right-hand corner, you get these weekly photos and short prompts from me. Would you value having the best of them in one e-book at a low price (likely between .99 – and 2.99)?

Grading my goals: (Once a teacher, always a teacher).

I give myself a B- on being faithful in daily rituals. The days that felt the best were ones that included silence, inspirational reading, prayer or meditation, exercise, and good conversation. Travel often disrupted the plan. I had to learn to simplify and shorten the ritual.

I give myself an A+ on travel and book talks.  2014 was a great year to CONNECT about the subject of story and memoir. So many ordinary lives are really extraordinary. Instead of focusing only on my own childhood memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World my talks were about the sacred nature of story itself. After reading Blush, many readers poured their hearts out to me. I was touched to read and hear their sacred stories.

I am convinced there is no such thing as an unimportant life.

 

Letters, notes, and emails illustrate the power of story.

Letters, notes, and emails illustrate the power of story.

As for that third possible goal? It gets an F. I found myself uninspired to do the work of figuring out how to turn Magical Memoir Moments into a book. The biggest barrier is technical. I don’t know how to locate the photos, in the right size, organize them and transfer them into a book. I don’t fret about leaving behind a goal that didn’t capture my imagination.

My friend Sherrey describes the need to stay flexible while making goals. And Elaine, the grief of no longer having plans after the death of a spouse. They illustrate the futility of thinking we are in control, especially in control of our health and our penultimate foe, death.

My friend Laurie, has a solution to this problem in how she approaches the subject of planning this year. Her word for the year is FLOW.

I determine to plan and to not be a slave of planning.

If I should die before I wake, I pray for grace.

I want to focus, therefore, on waking. On being as alive as I can be.

I have a daily partner to help me with that goal. A book, Wide Awake. Every Day, by an online friend Starla. From the short passage I read today, here is some advice I could use myself and share with you.

Plan more. Plan less.

—Starla King

A red book on a red chair.

A red book on a red chair.

 

So, today I will plan more by naming three goals for 2015.

1. Continue seeking simplicity and legacy by sitting in the red chair, thanking God for a new day, reading, and praying.

2. Continue to travel when called, visiting family often, and responding to invitations to speak with both generosity and appropriate boundaries.

3. Try to find time for The Box in the Basement. (I am amazed at how little I have done so far.) Try to consolidate social media efforts to preserve more time for memorabilia research and possible next memoir vignettes.

My word for the year, as I seek to be awake, is NOTICE.

To prepare for 2015, I’ll listen to two of my favorite people, Krista Tippett and Seth Godin, in this wonderful On Being podcast: The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating.

Now, your turn. Do you have a word to help you focus this year? Have you evaluated last year’s goals? How can we help you in this year’s goals?

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Eves-dropping: A Good Way to End 2014

Mother before the 39 family members showed up for the Hershey family gathering.

Mother before 39 family members showed up for the Hershey family gathering.

I created a new word today: “eves-dropping.”

Meaning?

To prepare a blog post on the eve of a holiday and then drop it on your readers.

Since Christmas and New Years this year fall on Thursdays, and this blog goes live regularly on Wednesdays, you get eves-drops.

As a way of celebrating the year-end of a great year, I send you a few holiday photos. Knowing you are busy, I’ll make the post short. Hope you enjoy seeing a few visual highlights of our last week.

The great grandchildren actually voted to let Great Grandma open her presents first. They helped!

The great grandchildren actually voted to let Great Grandma open her presents first. They helped her open them!

Last Sunday we had a lot of fun at Landis Homes which has a great community center for family events like ours.

After the party, we drove from Pennsylvania to Virginia with our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Stuart with his favorite audience.

Stuart with his favorite audience.

We extended Christmas two more days by going on walks, reading books, consuming homemade paella, and having more adventures in the car.

Harrisonburg has a great Children’s Museum. It was full of three-generation families, lots of our friends were enjoying family time there.

Owen and Julia loved the Green Room and practiced their make-up skills on me.

Owen and Julia loved the Green Room and practiced their make-up skills on me.

These are some eves-drops from Harrisonburg. How about adding some of yours? Can you name a holiday highlight to share with us?

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Christmas Eve: In the Bleak Midwinter

It’s a very quiet Christmas Eve at our house.

Fog covers the mountains.

Bleak Midwinter in the Shenandoah Valley

Bleak Midwinter in the Shenandoah Valley

We didn’t decorate a tree. No sound of children’s voices.

Quiet.

Our family had festive days together in November and will have more this weekend. Tomorrow there will be brunch in the home of friends.

But today it’s just us. And time.

Time for reviewing the year, mug in hand, wrapped in an afghan made by loving hands long ago.

Time for prayer for our troubled world. Black lives that matter. Police lives that matter too. Endless wars.

Christina Rosetti focused on bleakness at Christmas, turning away from tinsel and sleigh bells and snowmen who sing.

In 1872 she responded to a Scribner’s Monthly request for a Christmas poem with “In the Bleak Midwinter.” The poem appeared in her collected works, was set to music by the composer Gustav Holst, and published in the English Hymnal in 1906.

I invite you to get your own mug and afghan and listen and watch.

The bleak midwinter is calling me to celebrate Christmas quietly this year, to open no presents, just to give the babe my heart.

I immerse myself in bleakness and ask what it has to teach.

Have you been called by bleakness this holiday season? I’d love to hear how.

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Do You Say, “Have a Nice Day”? If Not, Why Not?

When you part from someone, do you have a favorite farewell blessing to utter?

Wikipedia CC image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_a_nice_day#mediaviewer/File:Smile_have_a_nice_day_sign.jpg

Wikipedia CC image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_a_nice_day#mediaviewer/File:Smile_have_a_nice_day_sign.jpg

Other languages, French, German, and Spanish, for example, have much more graceful words than the English “Good-Bye” or “So long!”

Witness this song written for English speakers about a famous multi-lingual Austrian family:

In America, in the decade that followed The Sound of Music, a new phrase came into popular parlance: “Have a nice day.”

I remember when the president of Eastern Mennonite College began ending his chapel talks in the late 1960′s with that phrase. I rather liked it. It seemed to personalize his magisterial presence in the pulpit.

But then came the backlash. Social critics found it easy to bash the superficiality of what became the ubiquitous end of a clerk-customer exchange in stores.

George Carlin became famous for his anti- “Have a Nice Day” routine laced with four-letter words. Just Google his name and the phrase and you can hear him.

Wikipedia has an amazingly detailed entry on this phrase, including arguments pro and con.

Why am I writing about this phrase today?

This will be my last post in the seven-part series about A Good Day. I’ve decided on an action step based on all this reflection and conversation at the end of 2014. I will look for ways to use this phrase, “Have a GOOD day” when it seems appropriate. I further resolve not to use the phrase flippantly, to look the other person in the eye, and to make a real Presence connection when I do so.

I’d love your thoughts. What is your history with this phrase? Hate it? Use it sparingly. Love it? When you switch from “nice” to “good” what difference does that make? Even if you don’t comment, I hope you have a GOOD day. :-)

P. S. This just in from my publisher Herald Press. It applies to all their books, not just BLUSH. Click on the link and look around: “On orders placed and shipped December 14–20, we are offering free shipping on items shipped via USPS priority, UPS delivery, or other standard shipping options within the continental United States. This offer does not include expedited shipping options (next day or second day) or guaranteed delivery by Christmas. The ‘Free Freight’ option will show under “Shipping Method” during check-out.” http://store.mennomedia.org/

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A Good Day is a Gutsy Day: How You Can Win a Free Book or Download a Bargain

It’s a good day today.

In no spectacular way.

It’s good just by waking up, alive, in a “warm” house (I’m grateful for the afghan made by my mother-in-law and a prayer shawl give to me by Mennonite women this fall). Then there was coffee, and breakfast with Stuart, who made the steel-cut oats.

Lots of time to look at the mountains, dramatic today with clouds of many colors hovering over them. Then more coffee. Any day with a book and a cuppa is good. Right?

My Gutsy Story Anthology, volume 2

And not just any book! A book about courage, My Gutsy Story Anthology: Inspirational Short Stories About Taking Chances and Changing Your Life (Volume 2) featuring many of my writing friends. I choose to make this a Good Day, a Gutsier Day, by inviting you to make friends with these writers also.

I read many stories in this wonderful anthology this morning.  I’ll give you a chance to do the same. Read on to find out how you can win a free copy of this anthology. In the meantime, I want you to meet  a few of the writers featured in the book with links that take you right to their websites.

Sonia Marsh

Sonia has created the Gutsy brand, first with Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island and now with a My Gutsy Story website that leads to edited books such as the one above. Below are six authors I did not know three years ago, but who now make up the tapestry of my everyday life because I continue reading their stories. The title of their individual stories in the Gutsy anthology follows their name, along with other ways you can become acquainted.

Janet Givens, “Leaving a Life I Loved”

Janet joined the Peace Corps at the age of 55 and wrote a gripping memoir about the experience: At Home on the Kazakh Steppe: A Peace Corps Memoir.  She blogs about “oh no moments” that make us gasp, negotiating boundaries, making connections, and embracing transitions at her website.

Marian Longenecker Beaman, “Gutsy in Ukraine”

Marian blogs at Plain and Fancy Girl. Anyone who has read my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World will love the amazingly creative and well-researched posts Marian publishes. She brings all of her wisdom from her “plain” heritage into the wider world of “fancy” professional life and draws all of these influences together into beautiful essays. She’s working on her own memoir, and I can’t wait to read it.

Laurie Buchanan, “From GED to Ph.D.”

Laurie’s philosophy as a transformative life coach is “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” Every Tuesday she delights, surprises, or challenges me with her short essays combining one picture with her unique slant on the visual and inner worlds. She’s the kind of friend who reads about a book tour and drives all the way from Boise to attend a book talk in Seattle. I’ll never forget that gesture of kindness. Get on Laurie’s list. You will thank me.

Leanne Dyck, “Rising Above Expectations”

Leanne Dyck was told as a child that she was uneducable. She has proved the teachers and social workers wrong and has become a published author, overcoming the challenges of dyslexia. Leanne interviewed me on her blog. I was delighted to find her inspiring story among the many other Gutsy stories in this anthology.

Victoria Noe, “I’m Not Gutsy, But You Are”

Victoria and I connected briefly at Book Expo America this year. We didn’t have enough time to get to know each other well, but today I got to know her better by reading her unique take on the meaning of “gutsy.” She’s had an amazing series of careers in theater, nonprofit organization leadership, activism, and now writing. She has written several books about friend grief and has been published in the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington Post. You can reach Viki , her blog, and her books, here.

Angela Marie Carter, “Poetry Saved My Life”

I’m particularly happy to end my list of friend’s Gutsy essays with Angela’s. In the words of Langston Hughes, life for her has “been no crystal stair,” but Angela has wrestled with the demons of child sexual abuse, parental alcoholism, and many other challenges by pouring her sorrows into language. It was a pleasure to share the podium with Angela this summer at a talk at our local public library and to exchange ideas over lunch a few times before and after her beautiful book of poetry Memory Chose a Woman’s Body. One of her poems in that volume has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. I will not be surprised to hear it has won. You can find Angela at her website.

Finally, I need to mention one other writer friend,

Joan Z. Rough

She doesn’t have an essay in this particular anthology, but she nominated me for a Lovely Blog Award a few weeks ago. I have not been able to respond until now. Joan lives just “across the mountain” from me in Charlottesville. Stuart and I have enjoyed getting to know Joan and her husband Bill. We don’t see enough of each other but enjoy every encounter. Joan is hard at work on her memoir called Me, Myself, and Mom: A Journey Through Love, Hate, and Healing. Coming soon! You can read the first chapter here.

Now, as promised, here is the offer. I have three My Gutsy Story Anthologies, Volume Two, to give away to those who comment below. Just answer this question “What is gutsy in your ordinary life today?

I’m also bursting to tell all my readers that Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World (Kindle edition) is on sale this week only. Tomorrow it will be the featured memoir on Bookbub. But you can jump to the head of the line and buy it for .99. Now! At this price you might want to add an e-copy even if you own the paperback. Thanks in advance for your support. And if you are interested, I’ll describe the BookBub experience after it’s over. Which leaves my with one more person to thank: Carol Bodensteiner, author and marketer extraordinaire. Check out both her books and blog too! Carol told me about BookBub.

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