The Perks of Huge Tonsils

I wasn’t excited when it started in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.

I was even less excited when it was worse the next morning. The tight collar of pain behind my swollen tonsils. A sore throat so debilitating I couldn’t even speak.

Not now,  I thought. I have so much to do.

With book publication just a few weeks away, deadlines are rushing toward me and the workload is piling up. Now is when I have to get sick?

I got home from the doctor’s office, diagnosed with a vague viral infection, and plunked down on the swing in the backyard. Drained. Weary. The medical advice sheet read: “Your body needs plenty of rest and quiet time.”

Rock back, forth. No energy even to get up and go to bed. Back, forth. The sun shone warm on my face, relaxing my skin, closing my eyes.

Clouds

Rest. 

Sickness has a way of calling off life. Suddenly all responsibilities are shuffled down in importance, secondary to regaining health and energy. It reminds you, forces you, to stop and notice.

Notice the puff of a dandelion suffused with autumn sun.

Dandelion

Notice the falling leaves, yellow as summer peaches.

Notice the “breath of heaven” heather, and remember why it’s called that.

Book publishing is full of deadlines–exciting, rewarding, stimulating deadlines, but sometimes I’ve gotten so caught up in the to-do list that I’ve forgotten to take time to just stop and notice.

And noticing is the foundation stone of so many things: thankfulness (particularly in focus this month), rest, and writing–what book publishing is really about. Writing comes from words, and words come from noticing. 

Fall leaves

And so having huge tonsils, which felt like a frustrating setback, led to some forcible, sweet rest. Time to sit still. To let the sunshine play over my hands and enjoy the warmth. To hear a tiny bird sing, close enough to touch. To keep the doctor’s orders, true whether we’re sick or well: your body needs plenty of rest and quiet time.

So, perhaps, does your soul.   

 

Blogiversary #2

I love fall. The student in me thinks of September, not January, as the beginning of the year. As the weather gets cooler, I get an almost Pavlovian excitement for office supplies, pumpkin spice lattes, and new beginnings.

Photo credit: Jason A. Samfield

But what almost took me by surprise is that this approaching fall season also marks my second blogiversary. I went to write this week’s blog post and realized it’ll be two years on Sunday! Which prompts a bit of reflection.

It’s a little harder to track this year’s progress than it was last year. I do know that I’ve published a total of 95 posts and accumulated nearly 20,000 page views since starting this blog in 2011 (numbers which thrill, startle, and humble me by turns). Sometimes numbers help me step back and get some perspective on the small routines I perform regularly.

This year I have branched out to share a wider variety of art forms, including poetry, photography, and excerpts from my novel-in-progress.

Speaking of which, that novel is in its 4th (and hopefully final) draft! Sometimes not losing vision in the last stage is the hardest part. I’m both eager and nervous to set out on the road to publication.

I struck the words “recent college graduate” from my Blogger profile. Now that I’m 2+ years out of academia, I think I’m really beginning to consider myself a working adult.

Which is beginning to make sense, now that my weeks are full with 15 tutoring students, regular freelance editing projects, novel revisions, and some very dear relationships that make my life full and sweet. Sometimes living has been so sweet that I’ve clean forgotten about blogging (that’s why there’s no December under the 2012 tab).

I had a chance to share my life story with some peers a few weeks ago and it gave me a chance to realize what this blog has done for me. Not only has it kept my writing muscles limber in busy times when other writing projects have gone into hibernation, but it’s been cathartic for me as well. Sometimes it’s easier to blurt out the truth in a public forum (especially online) than it is to be honest with your close friends and family.

Here I’ve reached new levels of honesty as I’ve broached subjects like vulnerability, loss, and lament poetry. What’s even better is that some of you have come to me and shared that my halting admissions of hurt, confusion, and failure have made you feel freer to admit your own struggles. And that makes it worth it.

It’s also been joyful to celebrate new beginnings throughout the year, noticing small magic, overflowing like popcorn, and cooing over adorable hedgehogs. It’s wonderful to celebrate fullness and joy. I think honesty about the empty and the hard makes this part even sweeter.

And with that, I commence celebrating blogiversary #2. No pumpkin spice lattes in my local Starbucks yet, but I’m waiting. Oh yes, I’m waiting.

Photo credit: brina_head


In the meanwhile, let this changing season give you a chance to reflect. What milestones are you celebrating? What are you looking forward to this school year? 

Halloween and the World Literacy Project

As I have previously confessed on this blog, I am a baking-challenged person. Today’s confession is that I’m also challenged at the visual arts. That means that this time of year, when people are putting cute little decorated vegetables on their doorsteps, shows me for the stick-figure artist I am. Also, I’m a klutz and big knives scare me. 
So rather than compete with my mom, who painted her pumpkin as an idyllic, full-color rendition of Bag End, complete with cotton-fluff smoke coming from the chimney…
…or risk chopping off my fingers with a big knife, this year I decided to bring my own branch of art to the pumpkin-decorating frenzy. 
Poetry! 
This pumpkin is my attempt both to sidestep artistic humiliation and contribute to world literacy levels and cultural awareness. Come on, little Rapunzels and Captain Americas. Have some candy. And some extra brain cells.

These famous opening lines spiral consecutively around the pumpkin, creating both a ghostly ambience and celebrating the beauty of words. 

Now, here’s the challenge. Using only these snippets of famous opening lines, plus the author’s name in the photo below, can you identify this poem? Ten kudos points to whoever gets it right (and no cheating by my friends or family members who’ve already seen it in person)! 

Ready, set, go!

First Rain

On Wednesday morning, September 5th, it rained.

All right, laugh, my friends in the Pacific Northwest. Here in California, it doesn’t just rain all the time. It isn’t something to be taken for granted. And not just if you work for the Water Department.

This morning’s rain only lasted a few minutes, just barely wet the ground, but it was special. Have you ever really watched it rain before? It’s magical.

It’s the first silver puddles of the season.

It’s dusty dribbles on Baby’s windshield that make me glad I didn’t wash her yesterday.

It’s dark thunderheads gilded with bright edges by a sun that’s there, but that you can’t see.

It’s sharp contrasts in the sky and wet asphalt on the ground.

It’s a fine veil sewn all over with silver stitches.

It’s an eager rustle, like the crinkle of a safe blanket coming up to your chin, like the whisper of a fairy godmother’s skirts.

It’s a soft, growing smell, a smell of motion and of rising, a halfway dusty smell, like the pages of an old book.

And it’s a cool breeze blowing through your house, straight through open windows, sweeping away the stagnant heat of a long, hot summer. It’s ushering in something new, an anticipation of what may be.


Fall is just around the corner! What do you look forward to about this new season?