We’re experiencing some threshold moments: the silent in-between spaces where we have left something behind but have not yet entered the next portal. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart expressed it this way,
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence in between.”
That interval between moments? That’s the space where we can be awake and ready for the next wonder.
You know what’s really beautiful in this moment? The lilacs.
Nature considers them “essential” as they hang in abundant clusters from their branches. They have shown up to spread the fragrance of the familiar into our world of ambiguity. With little regard for restrictions, the lilacs and magnolias, dogwoods and redbuds, are shaking off the grip of winter and spreading their glory onto a grateful canvas.
They are doing the essential work of being beautiful and sending healing.
Silent caregivers, these delicate buds nurture us back to curiosity; we are re-honing our ability to be astonished.
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”
Nancy Levin, Network for Gratefulness
If we are stuck living inside the uncertainty, it’s at least really nice to look around at what’s real; what returns and wildly splashes color onto the landscape — year after year.
Be watchful. It only happens in the silence in-between. Let’s try to hold these moments with greater openness, in that uneasy experience of curiosity and trust.
Coming from Captive Audiences, where highlights of passion and purpose come together, I’m your interviewing host, Laura Bartnick.
I’ll just dive right in because this discussion will include a lot of subjects and take some time and space.
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS, Meg, Mimika, Doctor Michelle, Tina, Misty, September, Michelle, and Kate! for ranking among the top 50 female podcasters list featured in the May 2020 Podcast Magazine!
I saw where the Podcast Magazine lists a significant group of editors for specializing in many diverse interests including: comedy, fiction, technology, t.v. and film, society, culture, news, history, education, music, science, religion, government, health, gadgets and gizmos, and sports. Whew! What a comprehensive list! I don’t expect these ratings to come from hosts who’ve just been reading Podcasting for Dummies, but who knows? Let’s check these gals out!
Now, your ratings came in a Mother’s Day Special Edition, so gals, are you all focused on motherhood? Will you briefly name your podcast and tagline or give us the purpose for your podcast?
Mimika Cooney: “I’m from Johannesburg to North Carolina, and places in between, I have Mimika TV Podcast an interview-chat show connecting you with today’s inspiring thought leaders. My show offers advice, inspiration, encouragement, leadership tools and tangible tips for empowering Kingdom minded leaders, entrepreneurs, authors and ministers of faith. We dive into important topics like faith, purpose, business, marketing, leadership, personal development, and mental health. Just like coffee with a friend, we get to the heart of the matter so you walk away inspired for action. I also run a boutique publishing & marketing agency at Mimika Media LLC. I connect the dots as a motivational speaker on ‘Discover Your Purpose’.”
Kate Brown Battistelli, from Franklin, Tennessee: “I’m the author of The God Dare. And, I also speak for events and I’m a mentor. You found me because I’m 1/3 of the MomtoMomPodcast.com. We’re three generations of moms who have experience nearly every season of motherhood. Our tagline is, “a podcast for every mom for every season”. We don’t have all the answers, but you can be sure that we’ll always point to the One Who does.”
Meg Glesener: At Letters From Home Podcast “Everyday Extraordinary Faith Stories”, we cover a lot of territory, from Tennessee to California to Washington. We love sending audio letters of encouragement to your doorstep! We bring you a new real faith story, every other week, from people of all ages and demographics. You will hear their dreams…their struggle…their pain…their life changing encounters and extraordinary moments. We pray that our listeners leave each episode, loving their God and their community more deeply. II Cor. 3:3. You can reach me at: email@example.com
“I’m Tina C. Smith: Raising Kids On Your Knees. I’m definitely focused on parenting and motherhood. This is a ministry dedicated to equipping parents to pray and parent life into the lives of their children.”
Michelle Bengtson: “Motivational speaker hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, I’m a board certified clinical neuropsychologist, blogger, and international speaker at Dr. Michelle Bengtson, and I speak and write about mental health and health issues, overcoming adversity, and finding hope, peace, and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. I’m the author of three award-winning books: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises, Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression, and the Hope Prevails Bible Study. I’m the host of the weekly podcast, Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson where we talk about every day real life issues but from a biblically-based, hope-filled perspective.”
Misty Hinckley Phillips: By His Grace Podcast– Empowering YOU to live By His Grace. She is the author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study, and the Spark Podcast Planner. (www.MistyPhillip.com) Misty is the founder of the Spark Christian Podcast Conference (www.SparkChristianPodcastConference.com), the first conference exclusively for Christian Podcasters. She is the Co-Founder of The Rocket Podcast Community (www.RocketPodcast.co), an online membership subscription community to coach, train podcasters. She currently serves as the Houston Connect Leader for Christian Women in Media. Misty and her family reside in the Houston, Texas area.
Laura Bartnick: How did you first characterize your audience, or how did you find out who was listening after you’d done your podcasting preparation and starting promotions?
Misty: Between analytics and social media interaction, I have access to a pretty good understanding of my target audience.
Laura Bartnick: What kind of analytics do you use, or is that a plug in or part of a software program or email platform?
Misty: I use a combination of analytics from my website, podcast, social media, and my email subscriber list.
Kate: Our audience is moms, typically from age 25 through 55.
Laura Bartnick: How did you find out who was listening?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve found through social media, and those who leave comments and share episodes that our audience tends to be middle-aged to older women who are going through life’s struggles and want to hear from someone who has been there, made it through, and can offer a hand to one who is in the trenches now.
Michelle Diercks: My audience is primarily women 35-55. I’ve learned this through my Instagram and Facebook analytics. I also have an email list and my audience engages with me through my email and on social media.
I’m going to pose this question in a way that sounds strange to my ear because the singular form of criteria is criterion. The standard and most common plural form is criteria; less common is criterions, so with that aside, do you know what the criteria were for being listed in Podcast Magazine, what surprised you most about this listing?
Misty Phillip: Our podcasts were voted on by peers and listeners. I was happily surprised to see so many faith-based podcasters in the top 50.
Laura Bartnick: Yes! So was I. It is always surprising to learn that so many faith-based programs come floating to the top as the cream, but welcomed to know. Hey all, were you tuned into a particular podcast, whether a story podcast or a self-help podcast, before you started podcasting yourself? Which one and what was your inspiration to learn about podcasting?
Meg: For me, it’s kind of crazy, but I started my podcast having only listened to 2 podcasts, 1 episode each! I hit the search bar in Apple Podcasts, and couldn’t find what i was looking for…and this thought popped in my head…maybe i should start a podcast? And what encourages me most, is hearing real life stories. As i followed this thought in my head, 30 faces popped in my mind, of beautiful, everyday people, like you and me whose lives I consider extraordinary, and have captured so many of these stories on Letters From Home Podcast. As i began podcasting I realized, what a wealth of wonderful podcasts are out there, like all of these ladies in our conversation. One podcast, that captivated me early on is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” Nora McInerny, draws u into each life’s tale…as they walk through calamity, and share how their world changes. I learn so much!
Tina: Interestingly, I never listened to podcasts until I started podcasting.
Laura Bartnick: Oh. I wonder if that is because podcasting is a relatively new media form?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I wasn’t a big podcast listener either, prior to starting my own show. I occasionally listened to More Than Small Talk or That Sounds Fun, but not on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, I felt in my gut that I was supposed to start a podcast for over two years before I took the leap.
Laura Bartnick: Okay, so being new to public broadcasting, it couldn’t have been an easy row to hoe. Please tell us about one technical struggle you’ve had and how you surmounted it. I mean, did someone mentor you in the difficulties?
Meg: Editing has been a challenge for me. In February 2020, I went to Spark Christian Podcasting Conference, where i met Misty, one of our other Top 50. One of the speakers Misty had lined up is Thomas Umstattd Jr. His talk packed so much into my apron pockets! Since then, on his suggestion, I have upgraded to Hindenburg. It is user-friendly and has cut down 3-4 hours of editing time per episode, what a gift!
Laura Bartnick: That’s amazing. I did an interview with someone this year who was very sick and had coughing fits while we were recording, so Hindenburg editing would have been useful to delete those episodes quickly between minutes and seconds to the second her voice recovered.
Tina: Yeah, the sound of a voice is so important. I started out with the wrong kind of mic. Eric Nevins helped me to find a mic that worked well and it totally changed the sound and quality. so the amount of editing changed drastically, saving tons of time.
Laura Bartnick: Ah! Nevins has helped me with several things too, the recording equipment, editing, and introducing me to Zoom. What a great guy, and I’m also a fan of his chat-based podcast, Halfway There.
Mimika: When I first started my show in 2013, I launched it as a live broadcast. This was before the days of Facebook or YouTube live so there were more challenges. I used a company that streamed the feed of my guest and I at a cost of $350 an episode! Obviously, the cost was prohibitive, so I switched to pre-recording the interviews on Skype, editing them myself and syndicating to YouTube and iTunes. When Blab came out and allowed live broadcasting through Google+, I was excited to go back to live shows. I personally enjoy the live format because of the audience interaction. After Blab shut down, I reverted back to pre-records using Zoom, post production edits, and syndicating to all audio platforms plus YouTube and my website (since mine is a video show). Now that we are at home dealing with home schooling and other responsibilities, I decided to revert to hosting the show live on Facebook to engage the audience in real time and reduce my post production efforts. So far, I’m loving it!
Laura Bartnick: Wow, Mimika, I thought I had tenacity. Just listening to all of these redirections and stuff makes me realize how incredibly flexible you had to be, and willing to research and do the new work. You probably also had to set aside any misgivings of making yourself look foolish until you learned the ropes. I’m impressed, Mimika.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Starting out, the editing presented my biggest challenge. It was a steep learning curve for me. Fortunately, I had a friend who was in radio who taught me some of the essential basics and then I grew from there.
Michelle Diercks: I am involved with a group called Hope*Writers. Alana Dawson who is now a Podcast coach, helped me work through the technical issues. She directed me to Pat Flynn’s Youtube channel. In the Hope*Writers group there are a number of podcasters, so I would post questions to them and they would help me.
Laura Bartnick: Michelle, that’s interesting that Hope*Writers sees the benefit of incorporating podcast hosting into a writer’s platform. Thanks, I know a lot of writers will be interested in knowing this.
Laura Bartnick: It’s interesting to me why you each have a different host platform. Can you explain for us why you chose the podcast platform host you have?
Misty: As an author and blogger too, I chose Blubrry as a host because because I have a Wordpress blog and their plugin seamlessly integrates with my site MistyPhillip.com.
Meg: I chose BuzzSprout after Googling videos on best podcast hosts, as well as consulting fellow podcasters regarding their hosts, pros and cons. BuzzSprout has been a very easy switch from Anchor. They have a nice interface, with design choices. They also have an easy plugin for websites using WordPress.
Tina: Honestly, I chose Anchor.fm because it was free and it was easy.
Michelle Diercks: I chose Libsyn because I was already using it for some audio devotionals that I had recorded.
Laura Bartnick: Thanks everybody. So tell us, what kind of personality interviews or programs pique your interest for featuring in your shows?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Wow! Well, I had my production calendar fairly set, and then COVID19 hit. Because I’m a neuropsychologist, speaker, and author with expertise in mental health issues, and depression and anxiety specifically, it became obvious to me that anxiety levels were escalating at unsurpassed levels. Because of that, I decided to throw my production calendar to the wind and opted instead to do an 8-week episode series about defeating anxiety during times of crisis. It has been a very popular series and a good fit for my listening audience. I’ve also had a lot of experience being interviewed on radio, so many of the questions I’ve been asked as a mental health expert have been turned into episodes on my show.
Misty Phillip: I look for interviews that both pique my interest and will also serve my audience well. On my show we center each topic around the struggles we face in life and we focus on how God gets us through.
Laura Bartnick: After you decide on a show, what kind of research do you do?
Dr. Michelle Bengston: my program is typically an interview format. Once I’ve learned of a potential guest who is interested in being on the show, I have them complete an introductory questionnaire to help determine if they are truly a good fit for my program. I research them on their website or social media, and if they’ve authored a book, I will read that ahead of time to help prepare me for the interview.
Misty: By His Grace Podcast, works with a combination of guests and friends coupled with a variety of PR firms who send me media kits for each of my guests. These media kits include biographical information, online presence, social media links and talking points. I will look for a unique angle, and research to best serve my audience. If they are an author, I will typically read their book before our interview.
Meg: A huge part of what I do at Letters From Home Podcast is personal, since it involves someone sharing their story, oftentimes difficult. Beforehand, I want to know how they are feeling about it, what they aren’t wanting to share, the major chapters of their lives, and some fun facts. Afterward, we always text or chat a couple of times. It is encouraging to hear how their families and friends are being inspired by their stories.
Laura Bartnick: How many people work on behalf of your podcast, and what are their duties?
Meg: Oh boy, it is definitely a family affair, Team Glesener! We have 8 kids, and every single one has been on the podcast, as well as all three grandkids. I love incorporating them as they are willing. Our daughter Hannah created the artwork, our teenage son Jordan has been my technical director, has created music for the intros and outros, and has done voice work. Our theater son, Josiah has also created music for the intros and outros, voice work, and was my first guest. Our daughter Eden has co-conducted interviews, & has been my millennial appeal consultant. My husband does teaching moments. In the day to day though, this Mama does 99% of everything.
Misty: I currently have a team of three. I am the host and do all of the marketing, promotion, and communication. My husband handles all of technical side of my website, and podcast production. My son is my assistant who helps with some graphic design and data management.
Tina: My son writes the music for my podcast and he does editing when needed.
Laura Bartnick: I’m seeing a trend here. It helps to have family members who are willing to help and are knowledgeable, or at least interested enough to learn some skills.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Yeah, three to four of us work on any one episode of the program. I’m in charge of hosting the show, researching guests, marketing and promoting the show. My husband has co-hosted with me on numerous episodes. My youngest son helps with editing. An assistant will help with the back end and create graphics.
Laura Bartnick: Hey, so at what point did you start realizing that your listeners had spiked?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: After I had been podcasting for approximately six months, Your Hope Filled Perspective really started gaining some traction, although I don’t know what to attribute that to.
Laura Bartnick: That spike happened to one of our authors, Tonya Jewel Blessing after about two and a half years. We never knew what caused it, but it has continued to grow steadily.
Meg: Letters From Home Podcast has had a steady growing general interest audience, too.
Laura Bartnick: Maybe it’s like a new author whose content is well-written enough that it takes off through word-of-mouth.
Are you following the Podcast Magazine on Twitter https://twitter.com/ThePodcastMag/photo or some other social media, sharing the love? When I went to Twitter to follow Podcast Magazine, I mentioned this interview. How do you layer publicity or reuse content?
Meg: I have been very active on Instagram and have followed and supported Podcast Magazine there, through posts and live stories. I love celebrating fellow podcasters, and podcasting in general. It is fun to use #’s and @’s, to draw attention to great podcasts, people might not know about. Twitter is a newer social media venue for me, and Podcast Magazine is one of the first accounts i followed.
Dr. Michelle Bengston: I’m much more active on FB and IG than I am on Twitter. But I love sharing other people’s podcasts, and support Podcast Magazine there.
Laura Bartnick: Do you find that posting upcoming interviews or shows helps you stir up interest or gains you followers?
Misty: I have a very engaged and growing social media presence. I use a variety of platforms to share about the podcast, and I definitely think it helps stir up interest.
Meg: Absolutely. It can be a win-win. Posting and tagging in stories ahead of time, can alert our listeners to a new author, podcaster, story, etc.; and if the interviewee is on social media, it can also alert their followers to a whole new audience.
Tina: Yes, I use Instagram and Facebook to announce my podcasts.
Mimika: When my show was pre-recorded, I put all my marketing efforts into pushing views after the show aired. Now that my show is hosted live, I can promoted it as an event and I’ve found it garners much more attention with the live format.
Dr. Michelle Bengston: I usually share about upcoming episodes on social media a couple days before a new episode drops, and then again on the day it releases. I think it helps build interest.
Laura Bartnick: How do you let your listeners know about an upcoming podcast so that they can tune in if they are particularly interested?
Mimika: I’ve always been a big believer in nurturing an engaged email list. By having loyal followers, I can ensure that every new event, podcast interview or book launch is received well. I think email marketing is one element of the marketing mix that many podcasters dismiss and focus too much on downloads and numbers. At the end of the day, we are creating content to support, nurture and empower listeners, so if they already love what we offer, why not make it easier for them to listen by sending an email?
Michelle Diercks: I use both Social Media and my email list to let my listeners know what is going on with the podcast.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Absolutely! It helps to remind your audience of your program because life is busy, they’ve got a lot on their mind. It also helps create conversation and learn what my listeners’ needs are.
Kate: We use Instagram and Facebook. Both of these are sharable announcements in case our listeners want to introduce someone to one of our podcasts.
Laura Bartnick: I can imagine that gaining new audience exposure is always a struggle. Do you use social media to announce your podcasts?
Misty: Yes! I use a variety of social media platforms and have found this very beneficial.
Meg: Always. On Instagram I do three posts per episode ahead of time, one with a photo of their family, one with a quote from their story, and then the episode cover. I just started using BuzzSprouts, free audio clip on my IG/FB stories, to give a sneak peek.
Mimika: Yes, utilizing my social media platforms is imperative in letting my audience know about the show. I love to repurpose content and recycle old interviews because I’m attracting new listeners on a regular basis, listeners who would enjoy past episodes too. It takes a lot of effort to create a podcast show that every piece of content I create needs to be re-usable, repurposed, or promotable on an evergreen basis.
16. I’ll admit, in both writing and publishing, there is a very lonely, agonizing element to the writing, the waiting and the marketing aspects. Okay, all of the phases are basically agonizing. Finding a tribe or community is helpful. In what ways do you act as a community of this female podcaster club or is this a competitive field?
Meg: Zero competition, 100% celebration. I view every female podcaster as part of my tribe. We are not alone. right? And personally, I love being surrounded by all of these wonderful women, trying to get more encouragement out to our hurting world.
Tina: Um-hmm. I find seeing other female Christian podcasters as competition is counter-productive to the calling we all have on our lives. We all have different voices and each voice is important. Our voices, together, are much louder in the grand scheme of things.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: We are better together. I don’t look at others as competition—there’s enough room for all of us. And when someone finishes reading one of my books or listening to one of my podcast episodes, they are going to look for another book to read or podcast to listen to. So, if I can help promote other podcasters, it helps my listeners, which is ultimately my goal.
Michelle Diercks: I don’t see other female Christian Podcasters as competition. Each one of us brings something different to the table through our stories and the stories we share about others.
Misty Phillip: I have created a variety of communities to celebrate other podcasters both in person and online. Locally I’ve run a Mastermind group of authors, bloggers, speakers, podcasters, and entrepreneurs to foster education and community for the past four years, and currently serve as the Houston Connect Leader for CWIMA. I also created Spark an online community and live event for Christian podcasters, and most recently Eric Nevins and I have partnered to form the Rocket Podcast Community which focuses on coaching and community. I believe all of our voices and messages are needed in our world today and I love to champion and collaborate with other women. In fact over half of the women in this article have been guests on my podcast.
Laura Bartnick: The world has been altered in the pandemic, but I’ve also seen some wonderful things come of the experience; how did Covid-19 change you, good or bad, or change your podcast?
Meg: One thing I have loved about COVID-19 is the sense that we are all in this together. A few weeks ago, i was feeling that my family was getting complacent, involved with good things-homework, cleaning, projects, but not thinking globally. So, we took a prayer drive through downtown Seattle. We stopped at 4 hospital parking lots, a jail, the police headquarters, a homeless encampment and a cemetery, and prayed in each parking lot, each family member at each stop. We prayed for the elderly, for the sick, for the front-line workers, for the cleaners, for the launderers, for the homeless, for the imprisoned, for the firemen, for the engaged, for those having to bury family, for teachers, for young moms, for families, for governments, and for the countries of the world. We went home, remembering, we are all in this together and every little bit helps.
Kate: We typically air every 2 weeks, but we added several episodes to help out since everyone had to suddenly homeschool during the pandemic. As all three of us are homeschoolers, we added extra episodes to give guidance to women who had never homeschooled before and were caught off guard and didn’t have any clue what to do now that their children were home from school.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Covid-19 put a temporary halt on my traveling, but the positive side to that is that I’ve had more time at home with my family and it’s given me time to batch record dozens of upcoming episodes. Covid-19 has made me much more grateful for the little joys in life. It has also helped change my perspective from “I have to,” to “I get to” which lets me live from a place of peace rather than panic.
Michelle Diercks: I added on some Facebook lives and events. My audience responded well to them. I think they were looking for a better connection and more interaction during this time.
Laura Bartnick: What kind of interviews or subjects will you be featuring in this upcoming year?
Meg: Holland Web! He’s one story I look forward to sharing. He’s a Dad who adopted two boys. Holland is a single young man in his twenties, and he just put out a wonderful parenting book, “Adventures in Fatherhood.” His story is remarkable.
Laura Bartnick: Yeah, wow, that is so rare, a single young man who has such a strong sense wanting to nurture! So, usually, people ask very productive women, “How do you get all of that done?”, and in this case, I’d want to pose that question to Holland.
Meg: I also have a friend who had an affair, that nearly ruined her marriage, but didn’t, so I want to interview her regarding how they worked through all of that.
Another friend has a ministry where she and her friends bring care packages to strippers.
Laura Bartnick: Oh, love that! I have a friend whose daughter died. Then she found out through her daughter’s friends offering their condolences, that her daughter was a dancer-stripper downtown with the majority of them. What a shock. But, she turned that experience into an array of new understandings and relationships when she began inviting them over.
Meg: Auralee Arkinsly, an author, gave me one good connection awhile back. It looks like a great list. I also have a friend who lost 125 pounds and is now leading Refit classes and podcasting about health. So many inspiring stories lined up, my guest list is so full through next year.
Misty: On my podcast we talk about the struggles we face in life and how God sees us through. So everything goes through that filter. We provide content that we believe will educate or inspire my audience.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve got some guests on upcoming episodes that have fascinating victory stories. I interviewed a former airline pilot, who earned the nickname “Miracle Man” because he suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job and shouldn’t be alive today but is. I also interviewed a woman who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and accidentally killed another individual and has had to live with that in her thoughts on a daily basis. I also interviewed a woman whose family went through financial devastation but has come out on the other side. So many amazing guests are coming up in the next year.
Michelle Diercks: My podcast focuses on God’s Word and helping women find Peace in God’s Presence, in all circumstances.
Laura Bartnick: Wow! This has been a special opportunity getting you all together for an interview. Thank you again for coming together for a lively and technical discussion – wait, can lively and technical be used in the same phrase? Well, it’s the definition of sparking- so thank you for coming together for a sparking conversation with the authors at Capture Books and Captive Audiences where highlights of passion and purpose come together.
Due to social distancing and quarantine requirements, I have noticed that many of us are finding ways to escape the torturous abundance of downtime. Gloom seems to be lurking in the shadows of the unknown. So, let’s talk about some of these escape methods, shall we?
Not homebodies or entertainers, some escape artists feel that “staying put” in a family group has become very trying on their patience.
Now I am not saying this in a bad way, just the opposite, I am just saying some people would rather be outside enjoying our world rather than caught up in the latest Netflix series. Needing the fresh air, these people are the ones you’ll find outdoors building raised flower beds and Koi ponds pretty much all by themselves. Solitude is a valid and beautiful way to get lost. Creating a secret garden is the design and physical digging of dirt and life, a tiny version of the world at home by good and proportional use of God’s creations. It’s a place to bring serenity in the midst of the anxiety created by the unknown.
We move on to those who need to escape to the country. They cannot stay put at home but don’t mind a bit of company in their explorations.
They are not thrilled with flower beds and fishponds. It’s an accomplishment if they get the yard mowed once a week. They need to go. They need to explore. They feel the need to get away from home. So where do we find these gypsy spirited people?
My first guess would be at the nearest lake or river. They could be sitting on the dock fishing and just enjoying the tranquility of wondering whether the fish will actually stay on the hook. Maybe they own a boat and they want to spend time trolling around the lake soaking up the sunshine (if there is any). Though they are not sequestered at home, they are still for the most part social distanced and quarantined.
Another means of escape this way is going on a day trip of exploration.I have a good friend who is one of those non-sit-stillers. She loves to go dancing or alternatively, be outdoors. With dancing clubs shut down, she discovered the option of taking day trips. She recently took a road trip to Arkansas and our newsfeed was full of photos of trains from this trip. Some of us in this narrowing, nervous world want to get out and enjoy the living and free world in which we still live. So, pack a lunch, grab a camera, and load up for a day trip of riding through the country.
Others enjoy staying home to learn a new hobby and escape into some future potential.
These are the introverted, creative ones. Those who do not want to be near anyone in case they don’t know how to behave socially in public, especially since the 6 ft. spacing rule was instituted. They are too busy playing, learning, and experimenting with something imaginative to worry about going out and about. They have learned to build a greenhouse or to crochet, knit, and maybe even sew since there is now a demand for face-masks. Some of them have taken to creating wonderful crafts that would likely be bought up in a heartbeat if all of the summer festivals had not been canceled. These crafters will be thrilled that Hobby Lobby has once again opened their doors. But they’ll need someone else to run and get them the craft supplies.
One of the best ways to evade today’s chaos is to get lost in the pages of a different time and place.
I remember my dad, born in 1918, telling me as though a badge of courage demanded the telling, that he only made to the 6th grade and had to start working to help support the family. I thought about this when I found my own quiet, sunny nook and read a book, actually a series of 2 books, set in the 1920’s.
The 1920s was a time of arranged marriages and families consisting of more than 2.2 children. It was a time when life was hard and if a child graduated 8th grade, then they were considered old enough to be married. The books were written by Tonya Jewel Blessing. The first one was The Whispering of the Willows and the second book was Melody of the Mulberries. Both of these were set in the Appalachian Mountains and revolved around the Ashby family, namely Emie Ashby. Opening the pages of book and partaking in a life that is not our own gets us away from the gloom and doom speculation and allows us to relax. I enjoyed being taken back in time to a place I have never been just so that I could get away from the everyday duties of being home and taking care of the house. I find it humorous that in today’s situation, West Virginia has become the great escape destination. So much so, that Governor Jim Justice has issued new state orders concerning non-residents fleeing to Appalachia to avoid COVID-19.
Overall, the world in which we live is far different than it was just 3 months ago.
As we look back, we already see how much has changed. Gone are the days of hanging out all night at the clubs or coffee shops. We don’t know who has been where or with whom, so we decide that we just can’t risk the health and wellbeing of our families. Even our esteemed Hollywood actors, such as Tom Hanks and his wife, have felt the grips of Covid-19. Into focus has come the question of legalities and civil rights in a whole-county lockdown. As we look back in time, we see how the American way of life has been forever impacted by so many different situations. Whether it be war, terrorism, racial tensions, or viruses, America is not what it once was in the years past.
It is a hard time in this new America of 2020, but nonetheless it is up to us to find the good and know that while we have faith, hope, and love, God has more.
Take this time to cherish the quiet moments of memories that you would have missed had you been rushing through your nightly routine in order to be able to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Whether you are finding escape into the earth, into new explorations, into the creative future, or into history, your personal preference will help you reinvent yourself and will offer a peaceful portion to a world engulfed in uncertainty.
Find out more about Cyndi Kay and her writing on her website.
By Kathy Joy, author of the Breath of Joy Seasonal Coffee Table Books
“Good Shoes Take You To Good Places” Seo Min Hyun
One thing we’re not using much of these days is shoes. I don’t know about you, but I’m mostly going barefoot around the house.
Shoe wear is optional while we remain sequestered at home.
A comfy pair of sneakers park themselves at my door for the occasional walk to the mailbox, or happily, a walk around the block; other than that, my work shoes lie dormant in the hall closet, grumpy about neglect and murmuring obscenities in the dark, behind the closet door.
There’s an artist in Fort Myers, Florida, who is busy painting sandals with messages of love and hope, decorating them with jewelry and then stringing them onto a line. Her name is Annette Brown, and her message is simple: “I think everybody needs to reach inside themselves and create something because we are all artists in whatever form.”
Annette’s neighbors are stepping up, decorating sneakers and pumps and sandals, creating visual reminders of creativity and survival.
It has become an outdoor gallery of curated shoe art. People are out walking, and they are looking up.
Life-giving messages are written, painted and glued onto the shoes to spread cheer for all passers-by.
Shoes are a pretty accurate reflection of our personalities – much like each our own handwritten signature, they are seals of style, a unique identifier for “you”, “me”, fashionable “us”.
On a walk recently I came across an old, worn-out pair of men’s work boots on a neighbor’s front porch. The leather was cracked, their soles were split and their laces tattered. Even so, they looked amazing.
Because inside of them, some creative person had planted a bright bunch of impatiens. The flowers nodded in the breeze as if to say, “Look! We can bloom here and re-purpose even this ratty pair of boots!”
New life inside of worn-out containers.
No longer serviceable for feet, yet perfectly whimsical to hold a cluster of perennials. We’re kind of like that: our bodies feel worn out at times, like a pair of old shoes. Tired, achy, holding the shape of a hug from six feet away. But, infuse laughter, spring flowers, a hug of safety, some repurposing, and our souls fill up these bodies with sudden vitality.
If we think of our weary souls as conduits for beauty, then maybe we can feel a new infusion of love, peace, kindness and growth. With good soil, water, sunshine and God’s provision, a worn-out soul can be rejuvenated.
We, like that shabby pair of work shoes, are quietly being re-purposed for the future. Strange soil is spilling into the holes. Unnecessary things are being shed. New and hybrid Seeds are being planted inside our worn leather, things that will sprout in due time and declare our resilience in new fruit and sweet blossoms. These things will delight our private days as well as our days when we are all back together.
Wiggle your toes and step into that.
“How beautiful are the feet of the messenger who brings good news!” Romans 10:15