The Elegance of Reading on Your Writing

Photo of a hedgehogIt has been eons since I’ve written anything here on my blog, and for that I apologize. It’s not because I haven’t thought of you, my fabulous readers/followers, because believe me, I have…often.

The reason my blog has been silent for so long is because my life has been so packed with running, racing, and coaching—my other passions–that something had to give.

That something…which I can barely admit here because it’s truly unthinkable…is…reading.

Gasp. I know.

Considering how much I love to read, it’s not something I ever imagined I’d let happen. But being in constant motion over this past year, I could never keep my eyes open long enough to get to the bottom of a page, or stay focused long enough to swim in the magic of words on a Sunday afternoon.

And here’s the thing: without reading, there is no writing. At least no creative writing.

It’s that painfully simple.

When you are not enveloped in the beauty of language and pulled where your senses are awash in imagination, writing takes on a different quality. Oh sure, you can still knock out little blips here and there, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to eke out a gem or two, but to fully tap into your inner-writing amazing-ness, you’ve got to read.

Fortunately, after far too long, I’ve finally crossed back into the literary world, thanks to a morning run up the street with my dog.

Photo of neighborhood lending library

Our sweet neighbors set up a little neighborhood lending library in front of their house (yes, I live in Mayberry, thank you very much). On a whim I grabbed The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

That’s all it took.

The writing is so fine, I lingered over words and sentences longer than my morning cup of coffee (if you know me, you know how long that can be). We’re talking goosebump producing prose, and characters that make you continually contemplate the over-arching beauty and complexity of the world around us.

After reading this book, I feel like I can breathe again, like my right arm has been reattached, and I’m suddenly back to where I cannot ‘not write.’ It’s the same feeling I had when I knocked out over a dozen chapters of my book in progress, The Art of an Improbable Life, while at the same time writing magazine articles, blog posts and three-quarters of a novel—one whose ending still bumps around in my head.

Who knew that reading could have such a profound affect on one’s writing? Well, of course we all know how important reading is, but until you’ve survived a literary drought, you will never fully understand the depths of its importance.

Now that I’ve finished Barbery’s masterpiece, my mind is gleefully spinning, trying to decide which book to linger over next. I’m searching for one just as compelling as the last so I don’t let old habits creep back in and let other responsibilities become more important than my precious reading time.

Do you have any book recommendations for me? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo of doggy running partner, Doodles

 

PS: In the meantime, I thought I’d share a picture of my big brown running partner, Doodles. This was taken on a rare rainy day here in CA. He doesn’t go far, but somehow he always manages to take me where I need to be–like the lending library up the street.


Love Letters

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson and Sweet BugAaah, Mother’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year. Not because it’s the day I’m fed peeled grapes and fanned with a palm frond as I lay on my fainting couch having my toenails painted (especially since I don’t even own a fainting couch).

It’s because this day reminds me of how profoundly my life has changed since becoming a mom; how that little universe I was comfortably operating in shifted on its axis so dramatically that my head still spins ten years later. How my already happy, full, crazy life instantly became more textured and meaningful, and infinitely more challenging (in all the best ways).

Becoming a mom also suddenly compelled me to start doing things I never imagined I’d be doing. For example, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that when Sweet Bug was just a Tiny Bug in preschool that my love for her would inspire me to dig deep into my creative bucket and pull out a quirky idea that would soon transform into a special ritual for both of us.

It started out simply as a little note and sketch in Tiny Bug’s lunch box, but quickly evolved into a more elaborate daily dose of love and learning. Each day I’d chose a new word for her to learn then make a crayon drawing on her napkin and place the corresponding letter cookies in her lunch so she could match the cookies to the letters on the napkin before she enjoyed her tasty treats.

Every single day of preschool I made Tiny Bug a napkin. And yes, she ate and shared a lot of letter cookies, especially when they were long words (bad mommy).

These napkins were simply meant to be momentary messages of love, to connect the two of us while she was away at school, and to surprise her with a new word each day as an extra way to get her excited about learning.

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with Library page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with farm page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with house page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with star page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with the write page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with fish page

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with pink and purple pages

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with tree and spring pages

These napkins, which I made long after Tiny Bug went to bed each night, were never meant to be kept and saved. In fact, when Tiny Bug brought them home from school every day and insisted we keep them, I didn’t know what to do with them—especially the ones with glops of food spilled on them. For a long time I piled them in the corner of our kitchen counter. Eventually, they went into a drawer, then finally a box.

Photo of Becky Green Aaronson's book Love Letters with planet and colors pages

It was when we moved to a new house the real decision had to be made. Are we seriously going to move a pile of old napkins? I moaned. I’m sentimental, but not that sentimental. But Sweet Bug was adamant: “Mommy, these are special to me. You can’t throw them away.” So, as you may have guessed, Continue reading

Off and Running! Something New to Share

Sorry for the “radio silence” here on my blog, as my writing and blogging friend, Melissa, has so aptly referred to it.

Run Be Run Happy FeetWhen my blog is quiet, there’s always a reason…or ten. This time is no exception. I won’t list all the things that have consumed my writing time, but rather share the most exciting thing: a new blog/website I just launched called Run Be Run.

I know I’ve shared a few of my stories with you in the past about what running means to me, but in the last couple years this sport has taken a front seat in my life as I’ve started racing again and coaching several kids running teams. I wanted to create a site that not only shared my passion for the sport, but also celebrated the everyday joys and challenges of being a runner. And of course, there will be a large dollop of “life” thrown in along the way, because, well…that’s just who I am, never one to stick strictly to a script.

Run Be Run is still a work in progress, but I hope you’ll swing by and check it out. If you like what you see and would like to receive automatic updates each time I post a new tidbit, you can sign up via email in the right side of the blog. If not, I promise I won’t look at you sideways.

Here’s a peek at Run Be Run. You can click HERE or on the image below to go to the site.

Photo of Run Be Run website

I’ve missed connecting with you here, dear readers! I still plan to continue this blog and also my ongoing book project, The Art of an Improbable Life, so if you stick with me a bit longer, I’m hoping to be back up and blogging consistently once again. Thanks for all your support! My cup runneth over!

I can’t wait to catch up with you all! Tell me, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve done so far this year?

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. – Special Guest Post

Today I have the special honor of welcoming guest writer, Sweet Bug, to my blog. Yep, on this day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s a privilege to share her tribute to Dr. King, which comes in the form of a lovely cinquain.

King
brave, courageous
leading, caring, changing
inspiring others to dream on
hero

 

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr.

Now, it’s your turn! See if you can write a 5-line tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and leave it in the comment box below for all to enjoy. Don’t worry if you feel woefully inept at poetry. So do I, but I still found this to be a fun way to celebrate MLK, a man who made a profound impact on our world. And of course, it’s more the thought that counts–even if you don’t have the right number of syllables! 

A cinquain – which, by the way, is pronounced “sin-cane,” not “sin-kwane” – is a form of poetry that was created by American poet Adelaide Crapsey about 100 years ago, and is similar to Japanese poetic forms, such as haiku and tanka.

Though cinquains are just five lines long, the best ones tell a small story. Instead of just having descriptive words, they may also have an action (something happening), a feeling caused by the action, and a conclusion or ending.

The first and last lines have just two syllables, while the middle lines have more, so they end up with a diamond-like shape, similar to the poetic form called the diamante.

THE RULES OF A CINQUAIN

  1. Cinquains are five lines long.
  2. They have 2 syllables in the first line 4 in the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth line, and just 2 in the last line.
  3. Cinquains do not need to rhyme, but you can include rhymes if you want to.Source: Poetry4kids.com

A Delicious Interview with Editor Krista Harris

Edible Santa Barbara Winter 13 Cover Fortune CookiesWhen I’m not blogging, working on my book, or delving into other creative projects, I have the great pleasure of writing magazine articles. One of my favorite publications to write for, Edible Santa Barbara, is right here in my own backyard.

Krista Harris and her husband, Steve Brown, started Edible Santa Barbara in the spring of 2009 with hopes of sharing in-depth stories behind the food and culinary traditions of Santa Barbara County. This beautifully produced magazine provides a visual and literary feast for anyone interested in food.

This quarter I had the joy of writing about the history of fortune cookies. Though they may not have specific ties to Santa Barbara, per se, fortune cookies do have surprising and intriguing West Coast roots. Several other stories I written for the magazine over the past few years include pieces on artichokes, almonds and latte art.

Krista happens to be one of of my favorite editors to work with, so it gives me great pleasure to interview her here today. Take a peek to see what makes this shaker and mover tick, and see how her passion is elevating Santa Barbara’s food movement.

Portrait of Krista Harris Editor of Edible Santa Barbara

Q: Why did you start Edible SB? What was your motivation? Continue reading

Doodles Announces the Winner of the Creative Peeps Calendar

Congratulations, Tina Fariss Barbour! You are the winner of a 2014 Creative Peeps Inspirational Desk Calendar!

WINNA, WINNA, WINNA, I say! Woof!

Doodles 2014 Creative Peeps Desk Calendar Winner Tina Fariss Barbour

Send me an email to improbablelife (at) gmail with your mailing address and your calendar will be on its merry way.

Thanks for taking part in the fun and helping me get out of the doghouse. You’ll be happy to know my mom isn’t mad at me anymore for sneaking on to her computer. In fact, she said she has a whole new appreciation for me after reading all your comments. She’s even forgiven me for making her spill an entire glass of red wine all over her keyboard when I bumped her elbow a while back (even though it still glows purple).

I’m not super big on having my picture taken, but as you can see above, I tried to be a good sport. I’m smiling on the inside. Really, I am.

Hugs and kisses,
Doodles

Dancing with Gratitude for Nelson Mandela

Thank you Nelson Mandela for making such a profound difference in our world. Our hearts are heavy because you’re gone, but we’re also dancing weightlessly, filled with gratitude because you were born.

Photo of Nelson MandelaWatching the news last night, tears streaming down my face – a wine glass in one hand, a tissue in the other – I marveled at the dizzying affect Nelson Mandela had on my life, simply because Continue reading

Doodles Dispatch: Secret Guest Post and Giveaway

Labradoodle Blog Post Portrait

Hi there. Doodles, here.

My mom is super busy right now shipping out all the inspirational calendars she created, so while she’s wrapped up in that project, I thought I’d log on to her computer and share my Doodlicious two cents with you. Sneaky, huh?

Before I give you the dish though, I gotta tell you this great joke.

Ready? Okay, here it goes:

Q. What do you get when you cross a Beatle and an Australian dog?
A. Dingo Starr!

Baa haa haa. I crack myself up! Oh man…“This Dog is on Firrre!”

Oh-oh, I better pipe down before it get caught. I just heard my mom—the one they call Becky—walk down the hall. If she finds out I’m on her computer, she’s going to kill me—especially since I plan to share a few family secrets. Shhhhhhh.

First of all, you probably already sense this, but Continue reading

Something Special for My Creative and Inspired Peeps

2014 Creative Peeps Inspirational Calendar

I’m excited to share a new project with you, which combines many of my favorite things–designing, writing, and motivating others. It also celebrates the many inspiring people I surround myself with on a daily basis–artists and athletes. I’m especially happy because this project also lets me use my talents to help stand up to cancer. Here’s what I’ve been up to… Continue reading