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Archive for quotes

reading log . The Wander Society

Dead poets. Cryptic messages found in old book shops. Underground publications tacked to light poles. Faces blacked out in old black and white photographs. Mysterious hieroglyphs. Collages of artifacts and inspiration.

The world of The Wander Society by Keri Smith is a mysterious one with a call to explore the unplanned and the unexpected. The book begins with an experience in a book shop where the author finds a dog-eared copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and discovers a hand-written reference to “the wander society” with the directive, “Solvitur Ambulando” — Latin for “it is solved by walking.” In a short 175 pages, Smith describes her pursuits to discover more about this mysterious organization, encounter thinkers and writers who have espoused the precepts it embodies, and develop the practice of wandering herself.

Reaching back to some of the most prominent literary figures of the past several centuries, and including a great many naturalist authors and thinkers, The Wander Society offers a kind of “suggested reading” list for those interested in the pursuit of meandering and the transcendentalist approach to living connected to the present moment and the natural world of one’s surroundings. Part arts and craft instruction and part camping handbook, the book also includes an eclectic mix of how-tos, like how to find a “talisman,” how to pack for wandering, how to make a “wander station”, and how to carve a wandering stick. Beyond that, Smith offers a collection of wandering exercises to help Society members notice their surroundings in new ways, research and document their environment, and grow in their tolerance for unscheduled exploration. In addition to the instructions and literary inspiration, The Wander Society treatise also includes a subplot of chance discoveries of artifacts and handmade zines left by wanderers before, clues to finding wanderer hang-outs, and even a mysterious professor researching the organization.

Whether the existence of The Wander Society as a secret organization is factual or just the very creative product of Keri Smith’s vivid imagination and curiosity, the effect is the same. It’s a mesmerizing collection of visual images and ideas to inspire the reader to forge connections with the physical world around us, and indulge in the discipline of letting go of time and schedule constraints. Although I’m not a subscriber to the book’s suggestion that those stops along the wanderers path and the mystic talismans found there should be elevated to a sacred status, I loved its premise of setting aside opportunities to simply allow ourselves to go where the next step takes us. As we’re surrounded with what seems like a thousand channels and devices feeding us information, each one has an ability to schedule our every moment while removing nearly every element of uncertainty or surprise from our radar. The result is that the value of quietness, wonder, and exploration are sometimes overlooked.

This concept of wandering played a wonderful role in some of our summer together this year… even down to the fact that we began to rename some of our experiences as adventures! Although we didn’t spend much time wandering by foot in this Mississippi heat, we enjoyed several automobile adventures, giving ourselves the freedom to take unexplored highways and roads through scenery and towns we’ve never visited. We set aside times to let the French concept of “flanerie” govern our travels, stopping from one town to the next, wherever an interesting building or shop or hand painted sign captured our attention. I don’t know if that makes us unofficial members of The Wander Society, but I know it helped us make memories and find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. I’ve been wandering in a different way through some of the many photographs I took on our adventures, and I can’t wait to share some of the sights and inspiration from our wanderings. Stay tuned for upcoming posts to the sojourn field guide, my Frog Kisser category archiving some of our backroads, rural adventures, and wanderings.

August Beginnings [printable calendar]

August is here, and it brings our last week of summer vacation. Next Monday, my little ones (who have grown considerably taller almost before my eyes these last few weeks) head into a new school year, and my routine shifts again. It’s hard not to focus on August as an ending… the end of our carefree days together. The end of summer. The end of  unplanned trips and soaking up my loves. In fact, sometimes August is a really challenging month for me as I transition from noise and questions and activity and giggles in the house all day, to the quietness of alone time as my children are at school. After finally adjusting to grabbing time for work and creative projects in between the excitement of so much summer fun, I find that nothing zaps creativity and productivity quite like the deafening quiet of an empty house! Still, there is a kind of rest in the order of more scheduled days and the discipline of making new commitments. Last week, I came across a quote by the philosopher and theologian, Meister Eckhart, that really resonated with me… “And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Trust the magic of beginnings.

I forget sometimes that the magic of new possibilities rests in any beginning. We only need to keep our eyes open to notice it. These last few weeks, we’ve been making decisions about what extra-curricular activities the children want to be involved in this year, and I’ve been narrowing down some new directions for my businesses and new product ideas. I feel the pull in a few key areas for our family, and I’m actually excited to see what God has in store for us as we begin to follow. I’m excited that we’re actually paring down a couple of our evening activities so that we can focus on building faithfulness and continue to strengthen home base. I’m praying that as we say goodbye to all that we love about summer, we will be keenly aware and open to the new things God is bringing our way in this new season and schedule. I’m praying that we will trust the magic to come, and be prepared to wonder at how things settle in just as they’re meant to.

I decided to paint a portion of the Eckhart quote as a cut-away part of this month’s printable calendar. I hope to create a larger piece with the full quote, so watch for that! Meanwhile, I hope you’ll grab this little piece of free art to mark your August days. May it remind you to trust the magic in each one. Enjoy!

sketch journal 052217 . Summer Begins

Our summer vacation begins officially on Wednesday afternoon when the school year ends, and we can hardly wait! I’m very excited to have my children home with me for unscheduled time. The summer is usually a crazy balancing act of enjoying family activities and keeping up with freelance work for this short season of play and fun. 75 days. That’s how much time we have before another school year begins and they continue the inevitable rush to growing up. But, for summer, we all seem to stand still and just enjoy each other. I’m determined to take advantage of every minute — even those minutes when we are doing nothing special. Last year, in my daily journal, I wrote the number of days remaining in our summer vacation in the corner of each day’s box. It was a bittersweet discipline of watching these precious free days with everyone together, and recording our adventures on the best laptop for music production which also used to make awesome video films. This  morning as I added the countdown numbers to this week, I was reminded of this favorite quote from Thornon Wilder… “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Here’s to a summer of seeing and soaking up treasures!

letters to my children 040617 . DARE

Elisha and I have just finished up reading The Horse and His Boy, the third book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It’s a great romp with talking horses, war lords, intrigue, battle scenes, lion chases, and a peasant who finds out he’s the heir to a throne. Last night we read to the end where Bree, the proud, talking war horse who was captured and taken from Narnia for most of his life, balks at the reality of returning home for fear he might not know what it’s really like to be a Narnian after all. Elisha commented that Bree was really just looking for a way to fit in. Aren’t we all?

At various points in the story, Aslan, the great sacrificial king of Narnia makes himself known to the characters as more than a myth. We see that he has been by their side throughout the journey, protecting, pushing, shielding, and even inflicting pain in order to ensure not only the unfolding of their stories, but the strength of their character. Finally, as we see Bree struggle with his next steps, Aslan reveals himself unexpectedly and bids the humbled horse to “draw near.”

“Do not dare not to dare!” Aslan implores him.

What an amazing admonishment! We all have struggles. We all have humbling experiences and seasons of life. We all look for ways to fit in. We all wonder if we can. And, we all wrestle with being fearful of what comes next. I love this lesson that often the greater risk comes in NOT daring to step forward.

morning letters . wednesday 020316

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Happy Hump Day, friends! Here’s to believing in the beauty today 🙂

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Today I’m beginning my first work week of the new year! Yesterday capped off our two-week holiday vacation with family and togetherness, and the children’s first day back to school is definitely bittersweet. We’ve enjoyed a wonderful and sometimes challenging holiday season with many moments of joy with my babies, as well as a few moments of grief and melancholy. I don’t know where that comes from or why I still experience it, but I’ve learned to accept the feelings my spirit seems to need and allow  myself the grace to live in each moment as part of our on-going process.

My lettering practice is the start of a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem I read today. It’s serving as a great reminder to savor each moment and each day. To embrace it for whatever it brings and to leave it fully spent. A very apt goal as I start 2016.

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

ralph waldo emerson

morning letters . friday 092515

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Although I’m not a Catholic, it’s been pretty amazing to watch the historic visit of Pope Francis to our country this week. It strikes me that what really resonates about this head of state and leader of a world religion is his humility and wisdom. Yesterday, while I was working, I watched Pope Francis address the joint meeting of Congress on a live feed. I was very moved by his message, and probably equally moved by the slow, deliberate and even soft-spoken manner in which he delivered it. It seems pretty rare to hear a message completely void of bravado in a setting like that. Yet, he delivered it. If you haven’t seen the message, there is a transcript posted by the Washington Post, and it includes a video of the address. Pope Francis said many things that were very inspiring and challenging for how we live out faith day to day as humans and as a nation in our world today. This quote was just one of them.

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morning letters . monday 081715

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It’s a cloudy, drizzly Monday in Starkville, and the succulents are providing a breath of inspiration. And this quote form Erwin McManus in The Artisan Soul.

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Some Friday encouragement this week! I continually try to remind myself of the true uniqueness of each person, each day, each life. We do ourselves a continual disservice when we are satisfied with following.

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