It’s important, though, to remember the former elements of “normal” are still with us, if we will only take a minute to notice.
Take fireflies for instance. What a wonder a single firefly still is to me!
There’s a quote that’s traveled with me for a long time. It’ on my fridge:
Normal Day, Do not let me pass you by in search of some Rare and Perfect Tomorrow.
Mary Jean Iron
This power-packed memento has been a mainstay through all of life’s seasons. With every move, every new fridge, this little saying has traveled with me as a reminder of the splendor in little moments.
The little ordinary moments are ever-present while we sigh and long for: Brighter tomorrows, better sleep, happier children, perfectly manicured lawns, stronger connections, brighter lighting, exotic destinations, more flawless skin, shinier memories…
Here’s the thing. When we are off chasing after a happier reality, the one we’re IN is quietly passing us by.
I’m not asking you to embrace The Summer of Covid, but I am suggesting you uncover the good stuff inside this interval.
Your “normal” will look different than mine.
Here’s mine. The texture of my kiddo’s voice on the phone; it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about – the sound of her voice is life-affirming.
The smell of towels that have been line-dried in fresh air and sunshine.
Summer kids riding by my window on their bikes and skateboards.
Dandelions gone to seed.
Waking to sunlight,
That first sip of coffee,
the hypnotic hum of a lawnmower,
Old Glory rippling in the breeze.
a real letter in the mail,
my music jam,
fireflies in the whisper of dusk.
Not everything is a joy-bringer; some things are a slog through scary passages. But still – not everything is skewed into some narrow margin of “the New Normal”. We can still count on the ordinary, normal things. And those will sustain us.
Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign uphere for inspiring posts from this author!
“Weeding a bed of iris rhizomes in late summer taught me something about the Creator’s winnowing tactics.
“I had left the irises all spring and summer. Their roots became infiltrated with grass roots. It seemed daunting trying to pull out the grass that year. Every time I yanked at a few long pieces in irritation, the bed hollered, “I need your focused attention, please!”
So, in the fall, I decided to pull out all those evil pencil grasses choking my bed of prized spring flowers.
“It was difficult work digging up the entire bed and chopping apart or wrestling out the clumps of rhizomes.
“Hidden within each clump were grass roots that clung to the rhizomes as if they were the same thing, mimicking the iris rhizomes. The grass roots, though they looked succulent and almost identical to the hairs of the root, were not part of the root at all. They didn’t belong, they were fakers. They would never produce blossoms for me.
Even healthy, good grass is just “weedy” when woven into beds of blooming irises.
“When I tugged at each hair of the rhizome, they clung to the root because they belonged. When I tugged at a grass root, it would slide out of the other hairs, because it was not connected by anything other than dirt. This hard work made me think about the work the Lord does in pulling out the wild grasses in my life. He has to do this work even in the lives of very mature and colorful groups of people.
“Learning to thank the Gardener of our souls early on for the means in which He manhandles our lives helps us to recognize what keeps us healthy and blooming. Hardship means to bring us maturity and glory.
“Living a creative life is the closest sort of metaphor to living a life of faith that I can think of. Music infuses grace as a spirit-transforming wonder like a blessing. There are so many risks taken being creative and also living by faith. Yet there is hope! Inspiration. And, many self-adjustments. So many prayers. So much involvement and intervention of God. So much personal growth.
“Being creative in a godly sense means turning out something of positive purpose from very little.”
Pages 54-55, Chapter 3, Welcome to the Shivoo! (Bartnick)
Q: What is creativity in writing?
A: You give someone a disaster, and they find a human spirit pulling a wagon with a child in it.
Q: What is creativity in writing?
A: You give someone a maniac, and they put a history onto her like a sack of stones so that you find the salt of sympathetic tears, empathy weeping, dashed upon her oily hair. You learn God’s mercy, and maybe redemption. Learning to experience mercy can be an artistic leap for anybody. Page 56, Welcome to the Shivoo! (Bartnick)
How are you working to winnow out a good result from a bad situation? Below the ground, we all find good roots and tangly, weedy roots. Telling the full story in a memoir is surprisingly more compelling than just telling the flowery stuff.
A bridge is a meeting place, a possibility, a metaphor
Last Sunday, Chris and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, toured the covered bridges in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio. The region borders Pennsylvania. We viewed approximately ten bridges located almost exclusively on hard-to-find backcountry roads. The weather was delightful, and the homemade fried pies we found at a roadside stand delicious.
The quote by Jeannette Winterson is a new favorite of mine. As an author, I am also looking for a meeting place with other authors and readers; a possibility of sharing my books on numerous platforms; and direction, even in the form of a metaphor, about how to engage people with my writing.
Most of the bridges we viewed were old and worn, yet sturdy in form and function. Since my novels are set in the late 1920s, I understand the old and worn. I enjoy writing about legends, history, folklore, and people of the past. As an author, with the help of wonderful editors, I stick with writing form and function as much as possible. I do, however, lack form and function when it comes to marketing. I am constantly and consistently looking for new platforms to promote my books. Capture Books, a publishing house, has been extremely instrumental in helping me and has thankfully spurred me onward. Laura Bartnick is my representative. Her innovative ideas keep me on my toes.
This month, I am pleased to say that some new bridges have been crossed. An organization that promotes books that feature minority characters, Diversity Between the Pages, wrote an amazing blog about my latest novel. I have a podcast interview set up for next week. I am in the processing of writing an article for a Christian magazine, and I am excited about an virtual book tour with Prism Book Tours, on June 22-26.
Whether you are a writer, singer, teacher, leader, or dreamer remember to engage in bridge meetings, entertain possibilities, and examine metaphors.
Here’s a colorful picture of the hope. Lying on the ground are many colorful leaves.
Winter is approaching, but these leaves are making their statement, and a photographer was clever enough to memorialize the image.
Here, we believe that hope is realized in community.
Within the Books For Bonding Hearts agency, we share the author journey with many varied and colorful authors and speakers. We gather contacts for our author mailing lists. We help authors reach out to libraries and gather their publicity tools. We vet advertising opportunities. We record interviews for Captive Audiences or refer our authors to other podcasters, radio opportunities, and audio book companies see our first book Mister B or The Big Creek Series by Tonya Blessing, recorded by professional voice actress Courtney Patterson.
Books for Bonding Hearts is the agency helping a boutique publishing group, Capture Books.
Are you one of these colorful leaves on the ground? Tell me, what are you hoping for?
So many creatives swing on this pendulum between “spiritual talk” and “pragmatic living.”
Occasionally, the two ends of the pendulum meet up for coffee, and they discover what time it is. A piece of art should be born. It is born. Viola!
In fact, I met with a friend in the middle one day to ask her about her intentions regarding her own writing skills. “It’s time,” I said.
“Funny you should mention my writing!” She said. Many years ago she’d surprised herself by writing a piece of poetry in her history class. It seemed good to her, and so surprising. So, she decided to memorize it.
“What? Have you ever told anyone?”
“Not that I know of, no.”
“Do you still remember it?”
At the age of forty, she roundly quoted the whole thing without a hitch sitting in the passenger seat of my car.
And golly, it was good. When I told her so, she shrugged and sighed and said that since she had also written a song once, and then this poem, she was convinced that there was some creativity stuffed inside of her somewhere. But she had no idea where to find it again. She had been living between the “spiritual talk” and the “pragmatic living” for a very long time.
Creatives need community. We need to breathe where there is a view to grow the precious seeds of color. We need to keep track of time gained and time lost. We need to give each other assignments that bring our brains together with our spirits and cast that vision for a perfect landing.
We need to touch each other’s lives with our own creative voice, not just spiritual talk, or pragmatism. Our souls need to be filled with mojo!
If God’s grace isn’t guiding the actionable hours of your day, the choices and relationships you make, and your own creativity, then honestly? I wonder if you are hobbling God’s purpose squirming around inside you on the ground.
It was kind of fun to sew together the many small pieces so that I could take a good look at the bigger picture, that is, why we do what we do. My little exploration into video making, that is.
Why do we come alongside of authors and entrepreneurs?
Making the video was a discovery experiment, but it touched something inside me so valid and sweet, like piercing a shaken up can of soda, and the pop spewed in wonder like a fountain.
SEWING CREATIVE BITS TOGETHER CREATES VALUE
When someone uses his or her unique voice, it joins a variety of things together, as two pieces of fabric can be sewn into a shirt, a sleeve added, and buttons.
The cloth becomes larger than the sum of the parts when it becomes a shirt. It doubles its value.
This is why we are desperate for community. We use creative juices like threads sewn together for the purpose of creating a shirt, a pair of pants, a dress, or a pair of socks. Bits of fabric are no longer random. Like the need for tailoring the raw sheets of material into a garment, the threads of fabric find their purpose.
We need to find the meaning for the poetry of our existence.
An author might enter into an author co-op, or a hybrid publishing company, and discover that creative juices in many areas exist, not only do they exist, but they swell to overflowing in such company!
This is because
When authors see the benefits of applying business to their craft,
When they add up the expenses and profits and create line item budgets,
Then they open up a new brain synapses that
Triggers a sum where places of personal worth and value can land.
Understanding the quantum physics of a group effort in publishing and marketing is the math which defines the bottom line. This bottom line can trigger a God-given energy and value to a creative goal never before articulated, perhaps never faced.
Joining a publishing and marketing co-op puts a framework to creative dreams and hobby writing. We need to understand the costs, the additional work to build a goal. We need to be inspired by the possibilities of sales and speaking opportunities.
Joining a publishing and marketing co-op makes you accountable to be your own magnanimous best friend. A group like you! You can see the way then to invest in yourself. The group will help you understand that your God-given gifts are not only meant to make you curious, but they are meant for a greater good.
Welcome to the Shivoo! I wrote this book all about the power of community in publishing your prized manuscript and then making sure you reach the audience thirsting for it.
When we give ourselves this gracious gift of time to rest and dream and process in an community fashioned for accountability, it means that we are able to give a reason for the hope that lies with us on a very personal level in a uniquely styled expression.
May you rise up into your own Resurrection Day through Christ Jesus, and through His community, His Church, His body. May you unhobble that precious inner soul that God gave to you in hopes that you would use it. No one else was created like you.
Only you can speak your wonder into your world. Let’s go for it, shall we?