Make Up Your Mind || Issue 09
Here I am, simplifying things! My newsletters tend to get long and unwieldy, taking much longer than they need to and, therefore, not happening consistently. My life is still full of things to read, think about, and listen to, but I am going to simplify the way I share them with you here in this newsletter. Aren't you glad? I feel like this will be doing us all a favor, and we need all the favors we can get these days.
Here we go:
READ, WATCH, LISTEN
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Excellent and beautiful. I read Gilead years ago and this fills in some holes. I love the way Robinson gets at the human emotions and thoughts so well, and she tells a story slowly, which is what I need these days. Lila's story is hard but redemptive.
On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry
"It is not that a poem or a painting or a palm tree or a person is 'true', but rather that it ignites the desire for truth..."
"It is as though beautiful things have been placed here and there throughout the world to serve as small wake-up calls to perceptions, spurring lapsed alertness back to its most acute level."
This book was a little over my head in places but so worth the read. I have several pages of quotes copied from it, and the book itself is more marked up than probably any I own.
The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
Short chapters! Encouragement to go slow! DeSalvo uses examples from her own and other writers' lives to encourage us to take the time it takes to write our books (did I just tell you a secret...?).
Your Invisible Masterpiece from Rebecca Reynolds
The Beautiful World Beside the Broken One from Margaret Renkl
You Do Not Have to Be Good: A Permission Slip from Lindsay Crandall
A Hidden Life
This is the only movie listed here because I'm bad at watching movies, but it was so good. I need to catch up on films directed by Terrence Malick.
Before I had my first baby I worked in a preschool, and my favorite thing was reading aloud to the kids—mostly Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. I couldn't wait to read them all to my own children. When my babies became teenagers, they introduced me to rap and hip-hop and totally changed my mind about (some of) the genre, so my rhythm-and-poetry-loving heart cannot get enough of Wes Tank's rap versions of Dr. Seuss on YouTube.
We missed attending The Imagination Redeemed conference from the Anselm Society, but since they moved the whole thing online, we all can enjoy the sessions! Tim and I aren't finished yet but so far my favorite has session was Heidi White's, on Finding Ourselves in the Larger Story.
Poetry and Beauty in Solitude with Dana Gioia, from The Trinity Forum
This is a great companion to On Beauty and Being Just from Scarry. Right from the start Gioia appealed to me when he said this presentation was "a town meeting for the city of God". Isn't that awesome? Spend an hour and have a pen ready—I have two pages of notes.
Billy Collins reads his poem A Dog and His Master.
Two podcasts with Karen Swallow Prior:
On Literature and the Bible on Prayerfully Woke
Read Better Books on Where Do We Go From Here
WHAT I WROTE
Since March I've written about being useful, keeping calendars, washing windows, doubling-down on goodness, being close to familiar things, the burden of thinking, and eucalyptus trees. If that all sounds random just remember: everything in my life is tied together by the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of God.
5 THINGS I LEARNED:
I can paint my nails like a happy 3 year old (just shmear it on) and all the polish will wash off my skin by the next day.
Even introverts need some face to face, one on one conversations. I'm getting better at this. Thanks to the people in my life who listen to me ramble until I find my point ; )
20 minutes is a short time to write but a long time to fiddle around on Instagram. Know what I mean?
Skunks eat worms. Skunks dig little holes in my yard at night to eat worms. I hate skunks.
Having a clean house is a slavery I will not go back to. The more time we spend outside the dirtier the inside gets, but who really cares?! My family does not. I need the outdoors. The indoors can be cleaned with two hours of family help on a Monday morning. So if you come over and my house is dirty, you know I've been enjoying myself.
Bonus: perfectionism is over-rated and keeps us from getting stuff done. (Read Finish by Jon Acuff.)
Thanks for reading, friends.
You can reply to this email or find me on Instagram and tell me what you're reading, watching, listening to, and enjoying. What are you learning about simplifying in this particular season?
I love to hear your ideas.