More things I love lately

The Merry Recluse by Caroline Knapp.  This book!  This woman’s voice!  Caroline and I share the experience of growing up in the same town, and I love the ways in which this particular place is threaded through her work.  But beyond that, I just love her voice.  I read Drinking, which I really liked, but the Merry Recluse I loved even more (not just because of the fabulous title).  A collection of her previously-published essays, the book touches on topics large and small and is, ultimately, a reflection on living in this world.

September afternoon, by Katrina Kenison. “The quieter I am, the more I hear.  The longer I am still, the more I see.  The more my heart opens, the more it fills.”  Yes.  YES.

Aidan’s letter to her 35 year old self triggered my powerful I-love-this reaction: a simultaneous smile and tears.  She writes of the swell of exasperation and deep, abiding love that so animates her life right now, and I know just what she’s talking about.  I also remembered the letter Aidan wrote to me on 35, four years ago, and marveled at how much changes and how much is the same.

 The Signature of All Things.  I am an unabashed, full-blown Eat, Pray, Love fan and I couldn’t wait for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel.  It took me a bit to get into it, but after about 60 pages I was entranced.  Most of all I adore the way the book meditates on the tension and interplay between the logical and the ineffable.

Current songs I’m loving: Bruises by Train, Here With Me by the Killers, Half Moon by Blind Pilot and, of course, Katy Perry’s Roar.

I write about things I love approximately every month.  You can find the previous posts here.

More things I love lately

I’m breaking with my three-day-a-week schedule to share a few things that I’ve loving lately.  I haven’t written one of these posts all summer, and I really enjoy them.  My previous reflections on what’s on my bedside table and my mind are here.

Literary & Legal: My old (by which I mean longtime, not elderly!) friend Kathryn Beaumont has started a fascinating blog.  She is a journalist, a lawyer, and a literary agent, and her blog showcases her broad intelligence and her curiosity, as well as her writing chops.  She features insights about the publishing and agenting world, interviews with interesting writers and agents and players in the space, and thoughts about her own writing and reading.  It’s quickly become a must-read for me.

Mindfulness: I have been fortunate to experience Karen Maezen Miller’s powerful work both in person and on the page.  In early September she published two back-to-back posts that I loved: 8 ways to raise a mindful child and 10 tips for a mindful home.  The posts made me gasp with their simple truth, and helped confirm that sometimes my most essential instincts are the truest ones.

Divergent: I. am. obsessed.  I read this book this weekend and can’t wait for the others.  It reminds me of The Hunger Games, of course, in that it’s both compellingly page-turning reading and a very thought-provoking premise.  Also in the strong female protagonist.

calm.com: I have been listening to the short guided meditations on the calm app on my iphone before bed.  They haven’t totally cracked my insomnia yet, but I do like them a lot.  Highly recommend.

What are you reading, listening to, and thinking about lately?  I’d love to know.

Things I love lately

Galit Breen’s beautiful piece, The Sadness in Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, dives directly into the dark heart of all that I struggle with most.  You have to let go of all that is not to embrace all that is.  I know this in my head, but apparently need to learn it over and over and over again in my heart.  Pieces like Galit’s help me do so.

All of Katrina Kenison’s writing brings me to tears, but this piece, Peonies, is on the short list of those that did so most quickly and fiercely.  Grace tiptoed into the room and asked if I was okay when she saw me reading the screen with tears streaming down my face.  Peonies, with their short and spectacular lives, a metaphor for all of ours?  Oh, yes.  And grieving the end of summer even as it begins?  Absolutely, yes.  This is so beautiful.

This piece, How Inviting the Unknown Helps Us Know Life More Richly, which references Nin, Rilke, Feynman, and Keats, gave me that warm swell of identification that I feel, rarely, when a piece of writing expresses something I’ve thought but been unable to articulate.  I love the assertion that life is about embracing the unknown rather than wrestling it into the submission of understanding.  Many thanks to my friend Stacey for sending it to me.

My friend Allison Slater Tate wrote a thoughtful piece called On staying home, regret, and the big world of the preschool parking lot.  She was responding to the essay about regretting staying home that hit such a nerve on the Huffington Post, and I love Allison’s reflective and honest words.  I also appreciate, and agree with, her crystalline clarity that there is no one right path.  And just because someone has regrets or misgivings about theirs, that does not apply to the rest of us.  In Allison’s writing, and, frankly, in her living, she reminds me that what we share as mothers is far more powerful than the different choices we make.

This essay in The Atlantic about the value of summer camps, A Summer Camp Lesson: Goodbye, and Go Away, Thank you Very Much, touched something deep and inchoate inside me.  I was in tears for most of Jessica Lahey’s article.  I think it’s because it reminded me of some of the essential and deeply-held things I want for my children.  We are absolutely, firmly a camp family, and this piece reminds me, powerfully, of why.

I’ve been on a tear of great books lately.  I read The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, All That Is by James Salter, Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.  And Early Decision by my dear friend Lacy Crawford, which comes out at the end of the summer.  I will write a full review, but I LOVED this book and know you will too.

I write these Things I Love posts approximately every month, and you can see them all here.

More things I love lately

Occasionally I have an experience where several people, all known to me but unknown to each other, send me the same article, image, or piece of writing.  That happened with this gorgeous piece:

On Friendship – Pam’s words at The Kitchen Witch’s site brought me to my knees.  I’ve written often about friendship, about the important ones that thrum through my life as essential as arteries, and about the vagaries of when and how we make friends.  I’m honored to call Pam a close friend; she is one of only two people in the entire world who read my first (clunky, painful) memoir, for example.  Pam: for everything, thank you.  The rest of you: read this piece.  You won’t regret it.

Noticing: How to Take a Walk in the Woods – I believe fiercely – perhaps above all else – in the power of noticing the world around us.  This piece reminds me of why.  I am also both the child of a scientist and a passionate devotee of the field.  “Refining our capacity to notice is an act of reverence that we can bring to everywhere and everywhen.”

Word Up– My adoration of Catherine Newman’s writing is well documented.  This essay, about talking about the origins of words with her children, moved me to both laughter and tears.  In her trademark voice, full of humor and tinged with pathos, Catherine reminds me that to understand words, where they come from, what they mean, is at the root of really seeing and comprehending the world.

My Avatar, My Self – I love everything Dani Shapiro writes, of course, but this piece in particular touched a nerve that’s been humming a lot for me lately.  She talks about the increasing trifurcation of our identities in the world today, where a writer has a “real” self, a “creative” self, and an “avatar” self.  I have been thinking about her essay and the questions it raises for the week since I read it.

Haven Retreats – I loved Laura Munson’s memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is.  I have also been privileged to get to know Laura both online and in person, where she was even more warm and wonderful than I had imagined.  In fact I missed seeing her last night at my friend Aidan’s house.  I recently learned about her Haven retreats and they have vaulted to the top of my fantasy things-to-do list.  The idea of spending time learning from Laura in the breathtaking Montana scenery (somewhere I’ve been, and loved, once before) is just head-spinningly wonderful.  Someday.

What’s on your bedside table, your kindle, your screen, your mind lately?

My previous Things I Love Lately posts are here.

Things I love lately

A Childless Bystander’s Baffled Hymn – this piece by Frank Bruni is both laugh-out-loud hilarious and deeply, pointedly true.  “They are toddlers, not Pakistan,” he points out, and asks, crucially, why our generation seems to think that this parenting effort is fraught with brand-new dangers and worries instead of one shared by centuries of humans.  Bruni made me think of my father’s oft-repeated adage to my sister and me, which I loathed as a child but find brilliant now: “You must be mistaking this for a democracy.”  Ultimately, I think his conclusion, which meshes with my belief that children are north of 80% nature instead of nurture, is tremendously liberating.  Just love them.  And give them boundaries.  Maybe it’s that simple?

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice – this book by Terry Tempest Williams just blew me away.  What an outrageously beautiful meditation on speaking out and staying silent, on the power of the natural world, and on the endless, complicated, echoing ways the mother-daughter relationship twists through all our days.  I loved it.

On Being Lost and Found – Ali Edwards’ lovely words on reclaiming herself, on wanting to live the length and the width of her life, really resonated with me.  As I wrote in my comment, for me the question is always: how do I reconcile the desire to reclaim something that was with the reality that sometimes we, and our lives, change in permanent ways?

Inhabiting a Moment – I love everything Katrina writes, that’s no secret.  But this post, about “the flotsam and jetsam that add up to days lived,” about the value and importance of recording the smallest details of an ordinary moment … well, it leveled me.  Just: yes.

Reasons My Son is Crying – This tumblr of pictures and captions reminds me of Honest Toddler with its hilarious rendering of the sometimes-absurd nature of life with small children.  So, so, so funny.

Lululemon studio pants – this has been a very busy week for me at work, and I’ve barely left my desk, let alone my house.  I have also basically not taken these pants off.

I write these round-ups of things I love lately about once a month.  They are all compiled here.

What are you reading, listening to, watching, and thinking about these days?