Here’s to more inspiration, friendship, unconditional kindness, and laughter than seems reasonable this season. Also, a healthy dose of wanderlust. And while you’re doling out the holiday cheer– don’t forget a health dose of gentle-loving-tenderness for yourself, okay?
At the end of September, I retreated. I spent four magical days in Albuquerque, New Mexico surrounded by other authors, learning and editing and talking and listening and laughing and writing and just being… still. Which is something I’ve talked a lot about here lately– this idea of rest and stillness, and the fact that it seems simultaneously necessary and a bit out of reach.
Leading up to the trip, I was very aware of what hadn’t happened since I attended last year. Most specifically that I hadn’t finished a book. I felt a little queasy about admitting I was still working on it. That it had been a slow year. That I still wasn’t quite sure where the whole thing was going. And then suddenly I was in the Atlanta airport and there were familiar faces. People that I had become accustomed to seeing only as tiny square profile pictures were right there, in person. Giving hugs. And I knew instantly that this was going to be everything I needed.
Post retreat, Jessica Topper, wrote a lovely reflection in which she described the experience as “the care and feeding of writers.” I keep coming back to that phrase. About how really when I talk about rest and stillness, I think I’m talking about being kind to myself and seeking experiences that nourish instead of tearing down. I didn’t sleep all that much more than usual in Albuquerque, but I was heard, understood and encouraged. And I have rested. Now to finish that book …
Huge thanks to Women’s Fiction Writers Association for creating this fabulous tribe (and especially to Orly Konig and the conference committee) and to Barbara Claypole White, Jessica Topper, and Mindy Miller for the photos in this post (because we all know I’m terrible at documenting my travels, or mostly anything except food & beer).
I talk about city life pretty regularly here on my blog, so you may or may not know that I grew up in Madison County– a fairly rural part of Virginia nestled at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Folks (including me) are still trying to figure out where exactly I got this huge dose of city-love that’s pretty much the polar opposite of my childhood experience (save for a week every summer with my grandparents in Roanoke, and lots of weekends with my friend Karen in a very walk-able suburb in Maryland– maybe that’s all it took?).
Anyway, all that to say, as a result of growing up on a farm, I had some awesome experiences, such as raising sheep for a 4-H project. Now, twenty-something-ish years later one of my friends, Becky, has a daughter who is raising sheep to participate in the very same 4-H show her mother and I did when we were her age. Naturally, when I was in my hometown last weekend, I had to go visit. Because– sheep. Sweet, kind little creatures that I named and fed, and walked and groomed and loved immensely. (Insert nostalgic sigh and wistful smile.) Continue reading
There’s a new farmer’s market in town (Thursdays 3pm – 7pm at the Turning Basin for those in Richmond, VA). My husband and I decided to walk down and give it a try. The verdict: it’s nice, not huge, but a great location and a good variety of vendors.
One of the vendors was an extremely friendly farmer who asked if we had put in our garden yet. We laughed and indicated that we had indeed filled a few pots on our patio with herbs and a pepper plant. He asked if we had planted any tomatoes and I explained my limited success with this in the past. He recommended a specific tomato and proceeded to give me a number of planting tips. So I handed over my $3.00 and walked home; the proud and newly educated owner of a baby tomato plant.
We planted it on the patio today. In the new container we bought ($16) with the bag of soil we bought ($6). Will I get $25 worth of tomatoes out of it? Maybe. Is there $25 worth of joy in talking to someone who understands growing things. In laughing with my husband about walking a mile home with a baby plant. In tucking it into the soil and watching it grow. I’d say absolutely yes!