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.


You may have noticed that I fell off the face of the blogosphere for a while. I didn’t leap off gracefully like so many talented bloggers who leave clues as to what they’ll be up to and when they’ll be back. I simply disappeared.

For that I apologize, especially to those of you who worried that something terrible happened.

LIfe has just been brimming full of…well…”stuff.” Good stuff. Bad stuff. Regular stuff. Ridiculous stuff. Magical stuff. Mundane stuff. Maybe you can relate.

But this post isn’t to talk about stuff.

This post is to say hello again and to thank you for making 2012 so memorable. One of the highlights of the year for me has been all the conversations we’ve had here on my blog (and yours). Your comments and your lives have inspired and dazzled me in ways you may never know.

For that I am grateful. And I’m grateful for all the connections, virtual and otherwise, blogging has created. It is a gift I do not take for granted.

As 2013 fast approaches, I hope you’ll think about swinging back by on New Year’s Day. Many of you know I LOVE the start of each new year. Woohoo! This year is no different. Except, well, one thing is decidedly different…

I’m Walking on Sunshine…

“And don’t it feel good?” Thank you Katrina and the Waves for planting that catchy little tune in my head, and thank you Tina Fariss Barbour for nominating me for the Sunshine Award. As Katrina would sing, “Yeah, if feels good!”

Sunshine blog award graphic

There’s nothing quite like sunshine to make me feel happy and light, and nothing like the blogging community to make me appreciative of its boundless support and generosity.

I’m told the Sunshine Award is given to: “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” 

It gives me great pleasure to receive the Sunshine Award from Tina Fariss Barbour who writes her powerful and honest blog, Bringing Along OCD. I met Tina through a women’s writing group called She Writes, and have since appreciated reading her blog, marveling at her journey with overcoming OCD and depression. By sharing her experiences and all she has learned (and continues to learn), Tina helps hundreds of people every day. I applaud not only her stellar writing, but her courage in sharing her journey, and shining a light on mental health issues which affect millions of people. Check out her blog if you or anybody you know is grappling with OCD, anxiety or depression. You will immediately gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like for those who live with it, and be inspired by how Tina is channeling it. Here’s the link: Bringing Along OCD.

As part of this award, I’m asked to answer ten random questions about myself. So here it goes…

1) What are you reading right now?
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Because my name is mother by Deborah Batterman
The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia McConnell (Yep, I’m trying to get inside the head of our new puppy)!

2) What is your favorite place to write?
In my backyard next to our roses and rosemary bush, near the orange tree–usually in my red chaise lounge.

3) Favorite season?
Summer time, summer time…sum sum, summer time!

4) Favorite sound?

5) Favorite gadget
iPod Shuffle (the size of a postage stamp–great for running). Guess I’d be a little lost without my iPhone too, but that might be a good thing.

6) Who inspires you?
People who don’t let their circumstances get in the way of greatness (Tina Fariss Barbour is a good example), and those who chase after their dreams and take risks without worrying about what others think.

7) Beer or wine?
Usually wine, but I also appreciate a nice cold Negra Modelo with a slice of lime once in a while.

8 ) What drives you?
Learning new things, sharing ideas, contributing in some small way.

9) Paisley or polka dots?
Both, but never together.

10) Favorite flower?
It’s a toss-up between tulips and hydrangeas, but then there are roses and camellias and lilies and wildflowers…and…

In the spirit of spreading sunshine to others, I’d like to pass The Sunshine Award along to the following bloggers:

Monica Medina at Monica’s Tangled Web
Debra Eve at Late Bloomer
Melissa at Writing for Daisies
Jayne Martin at  injaynesworld

Congratulations, ladies! Now go out and nominate other “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” And don’t forget to answer ten random questions about yourselves. Happy blogging!

The Art of Gratitude in the Blogging Community

If there were one word to best describe the blogging community, it would have to be “SUPPORTIVE.” In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been bowled over time and time again by the extreme kindness, generosity, and unwavering support of fellow bloggers.

And now I’ve been knocked over once again–this time with awards from several writers whom I enjoy and respect immensely. Each brings brightness and creativity to the web, and makes blogging not only uplifting, but infinitely fascinating.

Kreativ Blogger awardDeborah Batterman at The Things She Thinks About has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Deborah is not only a talented blogger, but the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, entitled, Shoes, Hair, Nails. She is perhaps the most generous author/blogger/social media whiz I’ve met–continually creating exceptional content for her own site and also sharing relevant, entertaining and just plain cool stuff with us via Facebook, Twitter and SheWrites. I have no idea where she finds the time to do all this, but it’s definitely worth seeing what Deborah is up to. Click on the links above or follow her on Twitter: @DEBatterman.

Candle lighter awardMelissa at Play 101 has nominated me for the Candle Lighter Award.

“The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.

The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”

It is a tremendous honor to receive this from Melissa because she exemplifies this award. Melissa is an extraordinary writer (former journalist, news anchor, all around smarty pants—in the best sense). She writes about life and children, and always leaves you wanting more. Not only is her blog filled with thoughtful content, but the comments she leaves on other blogs makes you yearn to write (and think) as eloquently as she does.

Hug Award GraphicArindam at Being Arindam has nominated me for the HUG Award (Hope Unites Globally). Arindam is a blogger who lives in India and shares his universal views on love and life through his words and pictures. His posts are always heart-felt, adding a glimmer of insight and hope about the broader world. I’m honored to receive this award from him.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.

“People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” (see this link for all the information regarding this award: HUG).

The Kreativ Blogger Award asks that I share seven things about myself with you that you don’t already know. This link tells about as much as anybody could ever possibly want to know about me: A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful (click on it if you’re interested).

The best part of receiving these awards is nominating others and paying it forward–sending a virtual hug and a high-five to fellow bloggers. Please check out their blogs and see why I’m thrilled to be nominating each of them.


Tracey Baptiste at Knitting with Pencils

Kay Bess at Sometimes Life…doesn’t turn out like you planned.

Brenda Moquez at Passionate Pursuits

Jessica Winters Mireles at Allegro non Tanto


Amber Dusick at Crappy Pictures

Harper Faulkner at All Write

Cindy Brown at Everyday Underwear


Sifting the Grain

Nancy MacMillan at Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Tina Barbour at Bringing Along OCD

Wow NOW Versatile Cow


OCTOBER 2011: I’ve been blogging for a little over a month now, and I must say, it has been a month to remember. I had no idea what to expect when I started this adventure so I guess I can’t say it has surpassed my expectations since I didn’t have any.

But I can say this: I’m completely bowled over by all the support and enthusiasm I have received from you. Your comments, emails and phone calls have reminded me why writing is so rewarding.

Here’s another reason why this first month has been so much fun:

The Versatile Blogger AwardThe Versatile Blogger Award was recently bestowed upon me by two bloggers whose work I admire very much: Michele Bunn (MediaMichelle) who writes Crossing the Line (Learning to fly over the mainstream), and Harper Faulkner who writes All Write (It’s All About Writing). Both are wordsmiths who leave me thinking, laughing, and celebrating life’s quirky and poignant moments. You won’t be disappointed when you check out their blogs. Thanks to both of them for nominating me.

As part of this award I’m asked to share 7 things most people don’t know about me, so here it goes:

1) Whenever I’m terrified to start something new, I know it’s the right thing to do.

2) I’m much more likely to cry when somebody does something nice for me than when I’m sad.

3) I won the 2nd grade spelling bee. How’s that for random trivia?

4) Red Vines have a wicked hold on me…licorice, that is!

5) I’m in total awe of teachers. Growing up, I always thought I’d be one (at least when I wasn’t dreaming of being an artist), but now I know I’d make a HORRIBLE teacher.

6) I write in a journal every day, and have done so for years. One of the most meaningful things I do is jot down my Perfect Moment from each day. Oh geez, I know that sounds way too Oprah’ish, but it’s true. It’s usually just a quick one-liner I scribble on the side of each day’s entry–like today will probably be, “The smell of eucalyptus trees after the rain,” or “Made it through my spinning class without too much pain.” The reason I do this is to remind myself to be grateful for what each day brings. I could be having a perfectly crappy day in every way, but no matter what, there’s always a perfect moment. Could be as simple as, “When the golf ball shattered our car windshield on the way home from picking up Olivia from camp, thankfully nobody got shards of glass in their eyes.”

7) I am fiercely proud of and grateful for my three older brothers. Each is as different as can be and each makes me a better person.

Photo of my three brothers

My three brothers: L to R Scott, Tim, Mark

My oldest brother, Mark, is a solid, spiritual, hard-working, electric guitar-playing, flyfishing, teddy bear who wells up at the drop of a hat. He walked me down the aisle (actually it was a trail) on my wedding day, and that’s something that will forever be etched in my memory. My middle brother, Tim, is the perfect mix of a Harley-riding, art-car driving, eccentric artist who’s stubborn, yet creative, fun-loving and fiercely protective of his peeps. I will never forget when I was a young kid playing street hockey with all the neighborhood boys and one of the kids started calling me names. Tim was right there ready to kick his ass. Scott is the youngest of the three and a bit of a wild card. He’s ridiculously smart, highly-caffeinated, athletic, and funny as hell. This guy can weave a tale, I tell you. Get him started on politics and be prepared to stay for the duration. My most recent reason to be proud of him is that after being in the newspaper industry for more than twenty years, he has chosen to go back to school to earn degrees for a second career. He’s in class with kids younger than his own son and he’s giving them all a serious run for their money–while still working full-time, I might add. Whoooyaaa for my three adorable brothers. Did I mention that I’m one proud and lucky sister?

Okay, so now you know a bundle of random stuff about me. Here’s the other rule of the award. I’m supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers for this award. Here’s a start, in no particular order. I’m so new to this blogging thing that I still have much to discover! If there’s a blog you know I should check out, please be sure to send me the link!

Allegro non tanto

The Things She Thinks About

Africa Inside

Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Latin Journeys

While the Dervish Dances

Play 101


And Away We Go The Dsylexic Writer

Frugal Healthy Simple

Traveling Through

Nominees, now it’s your turn to do the same!