Monday, February 27, 2017

Unexpected Paths

Image by Free Artistic Photos
 I love it when a book sets off a chain reaction; one book leading to another, which leads to another. Often when I discover an author I like, I want to read everything they’ve written. I’m sure we all do that. But I love when a book leads us in unexpected directions. (After reading The Fault in Our Stars, how many of us would have read An Imperial Affliction if it had been a real book?)

I just finished Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I’ve never been particularly interested in the subject of hypnosis, but while reading, I was intrigued by the way the MC spoke vivid images into her clients’ consciousness.I ended up at the library yesterday searching visualization techniques and guided imagery.

Image by Free Artistic Photos
I often experience anxiety in social situations, and in unfamiliar surroundings. When I traveled to New York City several years ago for Book Expo America, I Xeroxed pages from my daily spiritual reading and pulled them from my purse whenever I began to feel panicky. But I’m a visual learner. While I homeschooled my children, I was always drawing diagrams and making charts to help reinforce a concept (if not for them, for myself.) I love the idea of self healing with imagined images. So with that thought, I’ll leave you with some gorgeous photos (not mine) that help me feel relaxed and grounded.

Image by Free Artistic Photos
Image by Free Artistic Photos

What unexpected paths has reading led you down?

Monday, February 13, 2017

In Search of Balance

This week I thought a lot about balance: in work, in writing, in life. Probably because it’s February, everything is covered in snow and my four-year-old great niece asked me to take her to the playground. There’s an awesome seesaw that was installed last year at one of the neighborhood parks, made out of strong wood, with rubber tires underneath to prevent that terrible thumping that can happen when your riding partner unexpectedly disembarks. I thought about balance because she and I can’t ride that seesaw together. She needs someone else on her end to balance things out. Usually, she and my daughter would be on one side, while I'm on the other, but this week, it was just the two of us. It didn’t matter; with a blizzard that dumped a foot of snow days earlier and temperatures in the low 20s, there would be no playground visit.

Still the picture of the seesaw stayed with me all week. So many of life’s struggles can be boiled down to finding the right balance: Between eating healthy and eating what we want. Between taking care of your family, but also making time to stay in touch with friends. Between becoming so focused on the road to publication that we lose sight of the fact that we would write for the love of it, no matter what.

The more the image of that seesaw lingered, the more I thought about what happens once we climb on. Once we achieve that initial balance. Then it’s all about the ups and downs. Not only our own, but also our partner’s. Just as satisfying as being the one in the air is watching the smiling face across from you as they reach those heights. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes going to the playground worth it (when the temperature is above freezing and you are properly attired.)

It’s the joy of receiving a heart-shaped box full of chocolates and then the devastation of staring back at the empty box a week later and realizing you should be doing Zumba, or Pilates, or at least getting up from your desk to do a few deep-knee bends between reading emails.

It’s the high we get when we finish a manuscript, get the full request, have that agent call, countered by the disappointment of hanging up the phone with revision suggestions instead of an offer of representation.

When I look back at this blog, it’s been about the highs and lows. Those are the realities of life far more often than balance. I’d like this to be a place where we can both celebrate and commiserate those realities together. My heart was touched by all of you who came and commented on my last post. It reminded me of how wonderfully supportive the writing community is, and I’m so grateful for each one of you.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share with you a high point in my reading life. My daughter introduced me to the novels of Kasie West and I am completely hooked. She writes feel-good contemporary romances with great characterization and a lot of heart. Her latest, By Your Side, released last week and will soon be moving from my daughter's nightstand to my own. But really I recommend any of her titles. 

Do you have a high or low from this week to share?