Mental Health Monday – Doodles & ScribblesStandard
Sometimes, you just need a mindless break. But some of those mindless breaks can actually be mindful.
Yesterday, after mass, and the May crowning, and then praying the rosary in the garden there, I came home to my husband and daughter heading out for some Mother’s Day shopping, and I opted to stay home. What did I do with myself?
I sketched and I colored and I read.
The reading was a heavy, emotional book, and the coloring helped me through the traumatic chapter. As you can see from the photo, I wasn’t able to finish the coloring page. I plan to do some more tonight.
In addition to the sketches, I’ve included photos from this week. When I was in the depths of my depression, I’d drive a little bit and take photographs. At that time, my focus was on church architecture and really old cemeteries where the names were barely visible. Today, I take photos of nearly anything that catches my eye.
Drop some of your art and photos into the comments. And remember to breathe.
Happy Mother’s DayImage
Feast Day of St. Julian of NorwichImage
Adventures in Writing
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”Winston Churchill
Let’s try that again. The entire essay is gone. No recovering it, and we’re off to the races again. It won’t be as witty or a breathtaking example of fine writing, but it is what it is.
I woke up this morning with a ton of stuff on my mind, and in my mind, and my mind would not settle down. I thought of a great story to write about the holidays, but it would also make a great blog post, and it might be a good memoir essay for the prompt of “details, details” that I’ve been struggling with, but it was also a good piece of family history, and it was probably prompted by a conversation I had with a friend about the balancing of Passover and Easter. As an aside, I happened to look at a calendar, and next year Easter is March 31, and Passover is near the end of April, so that should cause less balancing and juggling and stress, but of course, we’ll see how it goes. The best laid plans and all.
The thoughts and memories were coming fast and furious, one thing after the other, and I tried to filter out other unrelated memories that happened in the same space I was writing about. I had twenty minutes before I had to leave, and I could use that time to get it down before it was gone forever. I’ll remember it, I told myself. No, you won’t. You never do. And to make matters worse in my head, I knew that NO ONE in the history of writing remembers when they say they’ll remember and will jot the thought down later. No. One.
You know it’s true.Continue reading
Black History in FilmStandard
I thought this was the perfect way to close out 2023’s Black History Month (although I have a few more posts that will appear throughout March – black history month is every month).
Slate article by Aisha Harris and Dan Kois: The New Black Film Canon
Their list begins in 1920 and goes through to 2022. They also include a list of the voters who helped create this list of the seventy-five greatest movies by Black directors. They also share where these great films can be viewed on streaming channels.
I wish I’d seen this during winter break!
International Book Giving DayStandard
International Book Giving Day Website
I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.Robert Louis Stevenson
Books are a uniquely portable magic.Stephen King
Books I Would Give to Everyone:
- The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede
- The Magic Tunnel by Caroline D. Emerson
Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we’re someone else.George Saunders
- WRITING: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style from the Copy Chief of Random House by Benjamin Dreyer
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- POLITICS: Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America by Jared Cohen
- MEMOIR: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- Life’s That Way by Jim Beaver
- SPIRITUAL: A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals by Thomas Merton
- A Walk with the Saints by James Martin, SJ
- POETRY: Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Poetry and Color by Mary O’Neill, John Wallner, illustrator
- FICTION: Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.Mary McLeod Bethune
I love the solitude of reading. I love the deep dive into someone else’s story, the delicious ache of a last page.Naomi Shihab Nye
Download and color your bookmark today!
St. Brigid’s DayStandard
As promised on Instagram, a list of St. Brigid‘s symbols in the above sketch.
- St. Brigid’s Cloak – she is said to have been at the birth of Jesus and wrapped him in her cloak. Her cloak has also been told to have grown when offered land for her monastery the size of her cloak. I seem to recall that I’ve also heard her cloak referred to as the night sky with constellations shining on or through it. (I will need to search out my notes and return later this week when I find it – I need it to be true!)
- A mug of beer. St. Brigid is known to have turned water into beer, including a lake.
- The Triskele. Not only a symbol of Brigid, but the triskele is a triple spiral, often meaning the three roads of life: past, present, future. It may also reference the Holy Trinity.
- A Shepherd’s Crook or Bishop’s Crozier. Brigid is considered to have done the works of a Bishop in her position as Abbess of the monastery at Kildare. She led masses and preached.
- Medieval-style Goose. She is often depicted with geese as well as cows.
One of my favorite books about St. Brigid is: Brigid’s Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan, illustrated by Helen Cann
I’m looking for a new title for this monthly series. They will continue to include quotations, photos/art, and reflections. Let me know any of your title ideas in the comments. I’m looking forward to your thoughts.
A few quotations that struck me for the new year (in no particular order):
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.Douglas Adams
And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.Ranier Maria Rilke
The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.Melody Beattie
You are your choices.Seneca
Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.Alan Cohen
You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.Mary Pickford
Every moment is a fresh beginning.TS Eliot
Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.Meister Eckhart
This post was a lot to write. And rewrite. I hope you will be able to draw out something for yourselves as I call myself out and set my intentions for the next few weeks. If you are inclined to add anything or offer any suggestions, please do so in the comments. they would be most welcome.
I offered a preview last week of goals, resolutions, whatever they’re to be called this year. That can be found here if you need a reminder of my first thoughts. At the end of that post, I said that I was going to take a break, read a chapter, play a game, and get dinner ready. I did almost none of those things. I’m sure we had dinner, but I can’t think of what it was. Even Saturday night’s dinner was in flux since no one took out the meat from the freezer despite multiple requests. Last night also. (Note that these requests were not always towards others in the house; I told myself to take them out and then forgot to, so it was a multi-person failure.) Pasta until the meat defrosts, I guess.
It’s probably not a bad thing that our (my) new year is off to a less than stellar start since the years that I’m all gung-ho and organized for will often fizzle out by February.
I plan to use my Instagram more, and that was one thing I did do last week: a post on intentions there. You can view it and click to visit there from my sidebar on the left. I will share the picture below since I’m going to try and use it as a guide for my intention setting.
Each one has a different thought process behind it, some from years past, others from spiritual direction, some that simply always come up again and again (like focus and intentionality). I may add some as the weeks go by and I settle into my new year.
None of these words are easy to implement in my day-to-day life. I plan to keep a small copy of the list, perhaps with the picture and reflect on it through January, as a mantra, a guide, an accountability checklist. By accountability, I simply mean is this something that I keep in my head. Is it something that I’m aware that I’m doing or am I ignoring it because it’s hard? It’s not a grading system – no A’s or B’s, no failing or unsatisfactory. Am I doing (it, whatever it is) with intentionality or am I sleep-walking through another day?
One thing that I can take a bow on is the following: About a year or two ago, I made the decision that I did not need the last word in online discussions. I also did not need to engage with everyone there. I will still call out lies and misinformation, but at some point, it’s time to walk away. Before I made this decision, I was anxiety-riddled constantly, needing to convince people of the truth, of the facts. This decision needs to be recommitted to every day. I need to know when to walk away, when to push. I’ve been proud of myself, and while this isn’t a new year focus it is something that continues to be encouraged. Every day is a new day.
I will still speak out.
In between birthday fun for my daughter, trying out new Christmas gifts, and just relaxing with the family, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday watching the vote for Speaker of the House. I have never seen such a shitshow on the floor of Congress, and it was a despicable showing on the second anniversary of January 6th. Two Republicans nearly came to blows, and one had to be dragged away. I was proud of my party; of their commitment to the people, to the advancement of new leadership without in-fighting and acrimony. Over the weekend, I posted part of the speech given by Minority Leader, NY Representative Hakeem Jeffries, where he took us to church so to speak. It was exhilarating, it was motivating, it was inspirational. I look forward to the day when he is Speaker. The Republicans can say they’re behavior was a lesson in democracy, but in reality, it was a lesson in dysfunction and chaos.
As I told my class last semester, everything is political. Everything. From the water that flows through our pipes to the roads we drive on, from the schools to the garbage pick-ups. We all need to be involved, every year, every election, every race. I guess that’s one of my goals. Civics 101.
Apart from politics, I need to see what priorities I need to keep and pull to the forefront. I’ve come up with three in particular, although there is always room for more. They are:
I need it all, and I need to learn how to blend them, how to connect them, how to live them, and how to balance them. I should add that word to the photo and list above: balance.
It’s all a balancing act. I’m a mom. I was a teacher. I can multi-task. I can also drop all the spinning plates. It happens. I need to accept that and move on – No. Not on; forward.
As I look at each of those words on the list and the three main places I want to focus on, how do I make it happen? How do I use all the tools available to me without constantly running around in circles, thinking I’m succeeding, but really only standing in the same place?
The first thing I’m going to do is to put a note on my calendar, about a week after Ash Wednesday. Lent is a good time for reevaluation, and I can see how and if I’ve moved forward between now and then.
I’m also going to list one specific, tangible goal here related to the three subjects of therapy (which includes talk, writing, art, etc.), writing, and faith. As I’ve said, and as I believe, they are all interconnected in my life. I rely on my faith in my writing, I write about my faith, talking through things (even if only with myself) – it’s all related and yet still separate enterprises that need their own nurturing and development.
The words sound easy, but we all know that it is also hard. Hard to change, hard to grow, hard to become something different, hard to change. With the internet and social media, we can all be so self-aware and easy to be swayed towards something, even simple, non-hazardous things: a glass or water or Diet Coke?
I know that I’m more outgoing in certain ways since becoming a regular online. I wonder how I managed without the online community that sustains me as much as my family does. I speak my mind more, sometimes to my detriment. I say yes more without saying no first. I realized that I protect myself by declining, and then “changing my mind.” It lets me have the time to think, but I’m getting more comfortable with saying yes (and no when appropriate).
How do I set goals and keep myself on a trajectory of moving forward?
NaNoWriMo really motivated me to write every day, and while I haven’t been writing every day, I have been writing a lot more. I don’t mind the writing without the external validation despite really loving (and needing) the validation. Writing a book won’t work that way, however. I can’t publish every little piece online, can I?
Where do I go from here?Continue reading