Well, hello and how lovely to see you! Hasn’t it been a long time? (I’m channelling my inner Miranda).
May has been a weird and wonderful month. I started off a little glum and lost, (that’s what happens when you go cold turkey off blogging and social media). Happily, I discovered eBay as a sort of nicorette patch to ease me off some of those withdrawal symptoms. Bid, bid, bid. It worked a treat, but let’s just say I have a LOT of summer clothes now. A LOT…
May has been about resting, and failing to rest, and trying again, and listening to Debussy and Beethoven and Mahler, and lying in the garden in the sunshine, and playing pirates and doctors with my little boy. This new rhythm feels kinda good.
It has also been about the HTB Leadership conference. Jon went in person to the conference in London, the boy went to play with grandparents and cousins, and I discovered to my delight that I could hear the whole conference streamed online. I couldn’t listen to all of it, but the parts I heard were amazing. It was really nice to feel, for the first time since 2008, that I had ‘been part’ of a national Christian Conference with my husband. Look out for a bonus post later this week with my favourite quotes from the conference.
Best of the Blogs (April and May)
- Abby Norman describes invisible illness so well – her post for Leanne Penny’s Love Showed Up series: When people say they are hurting, believe them.
- “When it comes to suffering, one of the cardinal rules drilled into us as counseling students was suffering is in the eye of the beholder. If someone is brutally attacked and yet they get over it quickly, truly get over it, believe them. If another person is “barely attacked” yet devastated by it, believe them. Don’t try to rank. Don’t say X > Y. Suffering is not a math equation, it is an experience.” – Amy Young. Brilliant stuff on suffering and grief from Amy Young living in The Messy Middle – What are the rules for suffering?
- Sarah Bessey – In which I am trying to obey my sadness
- Amy Young again – magnificently – on the value of anger: “Anger is a God-given gift”
M.E. and Disability:
- “Cuts to welfare impact human beings, particularly disabled people. Quite literally, when the government cut, we bleed.” Brilliant post from BenefitScroungingScum on welfare cuts and euthanasia, and how the two connect: The Right to Live and the Right to die.
- Toni Bernhard – always good – 3 Things the Chronically Ill Wish Their Loved Ones Knew.
- Powerful and poignant – my friend Jenny Rowbory tells her life with 9 years of severe, bedbound ME in 15 tweets, with pictures (on Storify).
On ‘Retreat’ – my #oneword365 – here are some resources.
- My friend Jamie Wright Bagley is one of those full-of-compassion sorts, and it comes through in her poetry. She has written a poetic Book of Hours, In Shadow and Sun, that mark the seven monasterial ‘hours’ of the day (lauds, matins, terce etc). The poems are a lovely meditation on the shifting seasons and times, and very restful to dip into. She totally had me at theses lines: “If joy comes in the morning, // She surely hit the snooze button today.” Download it for FREE here.
- My friend Tara Owens has launched the prayer and enneagram series. This is so amazingly useful. She has so many creative ideas for prayer! Here’s the post on my profile (type 2) and here’s the introduction to the series.
- Daily Prayer App from Church Of England website – praying Common Worship with the Church of England. Anything that can make the Book of Common Worship a simple thing is to be celebrated. Is is great – just download the app, and you have morning prayer, evening prayer, and compline, all especially personalised for that day, at the touch of a button. All for free. I am LOVING this.
- I’ve also just discovered Faithandworship.com, which has a beautiful collection of traditional and updated Celtic prayers and blessings – well worth checking out.
- Some notable accents missing (e.g. Manchester, Birmingham, Geordie) but impressive nonetheless: A Tour of accents across the British Isles performed in one take.
- Abby Norman has launched Scarcity Hunter – a series of emails that help you to avoid that fear of scarcity (not enough time! Not enough money! Not enough friends!) and restores your faith in radical generosity. She is one of my very favourite people in the world, and you should definitely sign up to her Scarcity Hunter mailing list.
- Amy Young is another of my very favourite people in the world – you should totally read her blog posts and sign up for her new quarterly newsletter. She is awesome.
- Boo Hoo Hoo – No Sinner. Think Janis Joplin, with Mustang Sally, and Commitments style music with a bit more grit and bite. Her voice is amazing – all fight and cigar smoke. I got a free sample from Noisetrade, and loved it so much I bought the album, and put it on whenever I need some motivation. Loving this album. Get it from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
- Map of love – Ahdaf Soueif. Beautiful love story, set in Egypt in early 1900s. Told by present day descendant, and it brought Egypt alive for me in a completely new way. Beautiful writing, and I could definitely see why it had been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. The final third of the book didn’t quite match up to the previous two thirds, mainly because instead of showing the politics through story, the characters spent a lot of time debating the politics. (I also dislike that in Russian novels, too, which is why I couldn’t get on with Anna Karenina.) I was glad to have read it, though, because the first two thirds were magnificent, and if you like Russian-style novels you’ll probably love this. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
- The Writing Life – Annie Dillard. A great book for writers. My copy is so filled with highlights it’s practically neon, cos MAN, she’s so quotable. Really short, but good, densely packed wisdom. The first chapters were so comforting – basically writing is so hard it’s kinda a masochistic endeavour. Then the last two chapters were so beautifully written I cried from the beauty. This is a must-read if you’re writing a book. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
- Writing down the bones – Natalie Goldberg. I’m reading through this book with a group of writer friends and loving it. Natalie Goldberg is consistently the writer who inspires me to actually put pen to paper and write. Get it from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
- Girl with a Pearl Earring – I thought I would hate this one, because I normally like my films to be full of plot and intrigue, but I was totally won over by this exquisitely crafted film. It’s one of those films that makes you appreciate cinematography. It was slow, but engrossing (which is unusual for me). It reminded me of Bright Star – another film that captures the heart of the art it is seeking to celebrate (Girl with a Pearl Earring celebrates VerMeer’s artwork, Bright Star celebrates Keats’ poetry). Do yourself a favour and see this film – you will feel all wholesome and like your soul has been watered. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
- American Idol – I thought the judges line-up and the final three were probably the best combination that I’ve seen in American Idol ever. I really hope all three judges stay next year. I am LOVING Harry’s glasses, and persuaded Jon to get some too. Alex and Jena were my very favourites, and I think when Jessica Meuse is singing her own songs she’ll be one to watch, so I was pretty pleased with the outcome).
- Gilmore Girls – has started repeats on 5*, and this makes me Oh. So. Happy. I am watching them every day. Sometimes, in a difficult situation I find myself asking, ‘WWLD’ (what would Lorelai do). Hopefully that’s not idolatry…
And finally… Some wise writerly quotes from my friends:
- “Write to make your reader uncomfortable”- Esther Emery
- “The poets are also the prophets”- Beth Morey
- “We write to not feel alone or to tell others that they are not alone.” – Tara Owens
Well – that’s enough to be going on with, I reckon! I’ll be posting later this week my quotes from the Leadership conference, and then I’ll be back with you at the end of June, and back to regular blogging in September. Have a lovely one!
Over to you:
- What were you into this month?