11–20 of 36 entries from the year: October 2017

Love Warrior

October 9th

November 2016 garden

 

Remember how I recently attended that Glennon Doyle event? They gave all the attendees her latest book on our way out the door. I finished “Love Warrior” this weekend while traveling.

I am new to the Glennon game, but lots of my girlfriends consider her up there next to Oprah, Jen Anniston and Reese Witherspoon in the hierarchy of famous women we look to for advice we should probably just figure out ourselves. After reading this, yes—I get it. I understand Glennon’s appeal. She is vulnerable and honest with her reader to a point that made me uncomfortable. She also reminds readers that faith has nothing to do with perfection.

There were a couple spots in this book that had me nodding and thinking, “I’ve got to write that down!”

{Enter the blog.}

“Most of the messages we receive every day are from people selling easy buttons. Marketers need us to believe that our pain is a mistake that can be solved with their product. As so they ask, ‘Feel lonely? Feel sad? Life hard? Well that’s certainly not because life can be lonely and sad and hard, so everybody feels that way. No, it’s because you don’t have this toy, these jeans, this hair, these countertops, this ice cream, this booze, this woman… fix your hot loneliness with this.’ So we consume and consume but it never works, because you can never get enough of what you don’t need. Our pain is not the poison; the lies about the pain are.”

Oh boy, do I get that. I have tried to buy my way out of unhappiness so many times, you’d think I’d realize it wouldn’t work. More expensive jeans. Fancy department store mascara. Another handbag. None of these made my pain better—if anything, my shopping without budgeting often made my life more difficult and anxiety laden.

The big takeaway I got from this quick read was about pain. Glennon is wrestling with her husband’s infidelity and whether or not she should stay in her marriage. Her pain is wholly different from anything I’ve experienced. And yet her writing about working through her pain made a lot of sense to me, especially in her relationship with God.

She writes, “I think about how the people who seem closest to God are often not dressed up and sitting in pews, but dressed down and sitting in folding chairs in recovery meetings. They have refused to cover themselves any longer. They are the ones who are no longer pretending. They are the ones who know. Pain led them to their rock bottom, and rock bottom is the beginning of any honest life, any spiritual journey. These are the ones who know that faith is standing before your maker and asking, ‘I just need to know if you can really know me and still love me.’ God’s yes to us is free and final. Our yeses to each other are harder to come by.”

Glennon’s story is also one of recovery and sobriety. She is an addict who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. She has to clean up, so she does. But it isn’t an easy or straight path and she has to tell herself regularly not to think about getting through the day, but getting through the next choice. Making the next choice a good one.

The final passage I’ll share also made me smile and resonated. It is beautifully written:

“Some loves are perennials—they survive the winter and bloom again. Other loves are annuals—beautiful and lush and full for a season and then back to the earth to die and create richer soil for new life to grow. The eventual result of both types of plants is new life. New life. Nothing wasted. No failure. Love never fails. Love is messy and beautiful and brutal—and real love, the dangerous kind—it changes us. It makes us new.”

3/5 bananas, absoloodle

~K

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Creating Family

October 6th

 

 

Sunday Funday

This week I attended a bris. As we stood around the living room, the mohel leading the group in prayer, I played with the other kids quietly in a corner until everyone was exclaiming “Mazel tov!” and singing and clapping. I’d been to one of these before, two years prior, for the same family’s first son. I knew what was going to happen and was happy to be distracted.

The naming portion of the ceremony is my favorite. By custom, as the mohel explained, the baby is not to be referred to by his name until after he is circumcised. Then he is officially welcomed into the world with his new name. This baby boy was named after his late great grandmother (H) and her best friend (R). Amanda, the mother, spoke about how her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend were tied to the hip. And now they would continue to always be together through her son’s name.

I started crying at the notion. Most in the room, including the parents, were also teary. One of the kids in my lap looked at me with wide eyes and said a bit too loudly, “Can we eat the cake now?” We all laughed.

When my parents moved to Texas more than 10 years ago, I found myself at the kitchen tables of my friends’ parents. I wiggled my way into their family vacations, Sunday dinners, and invitations to important events — anniversary parties, holidays, baptisms. I was thankful there was always an extra plate of food and often far too many questions and concern about what was going on in my life.

This bris, with my friends’ parents asking about my work, their nieces climbing all over me, and distant family chatting with me about recipes—it felt like I was home. Yes, it’s been more than a decade and I have my own family now. And yes, my parents are thriving and I’m happy for them. But also, yes: I miss them. I miss our Sunday tradition of bbq chicken, Rummicub, and bad television. I miss being able to craft with my mom. I miss swimming with my dad. I miss them being in my everyday life. Our time together now is infrequent and scheduled and often stressful.

As we head into the holiday season, I know I’m not alone in being more sentimental. It can be hard when the people you want there aren’t present—and vice versa. Here is to hoping our tables are full of laughter, and full of the family we’ve made, not just been given. And that there is enough wine to help ignore everything else.

~K

 

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Family
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Pap

October 2nd

Pap + Gram

My grandfather, Trevor, died in June. We had a memorial for him this weekend at his small church north of Tucson, tucked in the shadows of the Catalina Mountains. He joins my grandmother, who passed 4 years ago. Tucson seems empty without them. It is so very strange to visit and not see one of them.

A bit of what I shared at his service:

Trevor, or PapPap as his 6 grandchildren called him, was born September 2, 1926. He passed just a few months short of his 91st birthday. He was the oldest of four children raised in Wolfdale, Pennsylvania. His parents, Henry J. and Clarice Hague Beecham, had Trevor, Harry, Clarice – known as Sis – and Jack. Sis and Jack are still living.

When Pap graduated from Trinity High School, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific. He was in Okinawa when the treaty was signed on his 19th birthday, September 2, 1945. He returned to the United States via San Diego on New Years Eve, 1945 and would go on to continue for a few more months before honorably leaving the service.

One of the stories I remember Pap telling was how appalled he was, as a child who had grown up during the Great Depression, by the sheer waste of war. He talked about watching with horror as he and his fellow Navy men followed orders on their way home, dumping jeeps and other heavy materials off the back of the ship into the sea making the ship lighter. The only benefit was it made the trip home faster, or so they thought.

After the service, Pap attended LSU and remained an avid Tigers fan until his last days. I remember him fondly holding an LSU bottle opener that when tapped would play the fight song. He’d sit in his recliner on Saturday afternoons and cheer along with those in the stadium.

He returned to Washington, Pennsylvania in May of 1959 to start a job in finance. To his surprise and delight, waiting for him was the small town news that Maxine Pettit Donley, now a mother of two young boys, was recently divorced and had returned home to live with her parents on their family farm. Pap would tell us how Maxine had been the apple of his eye in high school, and he was considering reenlisting in the military, but instead stayed in Pennsylvania. They were married four months later. At the age of 33, he became a husband and a stepfather to two feisty boys, Kit age 8 and Rex age 5. His mother tried talking him out of the marriage; marrying a divorced woman with children was scandalous. He didn’t care.

Soon, Trevor would move his new family back to Louisiana. He continued working in finance in Lafayette. In the 1970s, they moved to Scottsdale, Arizona.

We gathered around their dining room table for countless meals, including one of Trevor’s favorites to prepare: gumbo. Cooking was next to football in Trevor’s heart. He loved to cook for others and enjoyed showing off the recipes he perfected during his time in Louisiana.

He was proud of his time and service at this church. He enjoyed serving as a deacon, elder and moderator. He liked being a lay speaker, choir member and Bible school teacher. On one of our last visits, he told me he once thought about going into the ministry because he loved to preach.

 

He was so happy that for his 90th birthday, his siblings – including Harry who was in good health at the time and Sis, who’d come all the way from Pennsylvania, surprised him for dinner and cake. I have photos of him crying, holding their hands, so thankful for their kindness. My Uncle Kit and Aunt Paula made sure the event went off without a hitch. In that moment, it felt like my grandmother was very much in the room as well.

I will dearly miss Trevor. I enjoyed speaking with him about books and travel. He loved me dearly in return. In his last days, I visited him with my husband, Jason. Pap hadn’t been well enough to attend our recent wedding. He held Jason’s hand and asked him to “take good care of me.”

With any luck, he is watching great football from heaven, sitting with my grandmother and great grandmother, and likely arguing with God.

Rest in peace, Pap. You will be missed.

 

 

 

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Family
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Empowered

October 1st

November 2016 garden

In the last week, I’ve attended a women’s conference at church, read a book by Brene Brown on imperfections, and attended Glennon Doyle’s Together conference with a girlfriend. I feel a little punch drunk on empowerment.

The women’s conference was titled “Known” and focused on recognizing how God has made each of us as perfect beings. We are created in His image, and when we compare ourselves to others, or speak poorly about ourselves—we are missing the point. Strong female stories are told again and again in the Bible. The story of the midwives who didn’t wait for Moses to lead the Exodus, but realized the pharaoh was going to bring hell upon their people and instead started rounding up the first-borns and hiding them, is just one example.

The conference speakers discussed the book of Galatians. Afterword, I took some time to read this book in its entirety, which didn’t take long. My experience with the Holy Spirit is one of me being a complete bone head and the Holy Spirit being the most patient, loving, hilarious person around. Regularly She’s like, “Um, dumb dumb. Didn’t we already discuss this? Didn’t I already teach you that lesson in 2004, 2006, again in 2006, the fall of 2009, and that one time in 2011?” — to paraphrase.

In reading Galatians, I’m reminded of how the Holy Spirit is walking along side us all, and there ready and willing to hold our hands and help us see what we cannot on our own, if (and that’s a big if) we are willing to reach out a hand and ask for the friendship. One of the speakers at Known said she was sure the Holy Spirit is a female because she’s “always there, bossy, and ready to get the job done.” That made me smile.

I’ve got one foot firmly planted in this evangelical church and the other dangling in the foyer of the United Methodist church where I was raised. The evangelical movement is traditionally far too conservative for my view of the world and my spiritual understanding. This is a longer post for another day. I need to spend some more time thinking about it, but like a pebble in my shoe, I miss the United Methodist church when I’m at the other church — and I feel like I’m not totally at home in either pew.

The Together conference was a group of women discussing their walks in life, with Glennon ending the three-hour-long discussion with a prayer. She recently left her husband to marry Abby Wambach of Olympic soccer fame. The pair briefly discussed their journey with sobriety, struggling to understand their love for each other and also honoring Christ, and how they are using their fame for good. At the Phoenix tour stop, this included interviewing female farm laborers who are trying to end sexual violence in the fields, and speaking with a Phoenix woman who leads an effort to end honor killings among tribal members in her home country of Pakistan.

There were a lot of tears. Tears of joy, of anger at the injustice in the world, and tears of hope that women can turn this unhappy world around.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.”

— Galatians 5: 22-23

~K

 

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Faith
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San Diego

September 12th

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

I had the chance to spend some time in San Diego last week for work, including a quick visit with my dear Sue. It was so nice to spend time after work wandering barefoot on the beach, hanging out in the pool and day dreaming.

I love the desert, but the beach is my happy place.

When I wasn’t lounging poolside, I was attending the National Association of Rural Mental Health’s annual meeting for a series of heavy, fascinating discussions. One presentation included research from rural Scotland, paired with similar populations in rural Texas. Sadly, there are three leading reasons why rural Americans now have a lower life expectancy than those in cities: opioids, alcohol and suicide.

We have a lot of work to do to improve our access to care for 50% of America’s population who lives in our rural communities.

~K

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Travel
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Danna’s Wedding

September 11th

My friend Danna was recently married. She is Navajo and invited us to attend her traditional ceremony in a hogan on tribal lands. We drove an hour north of Gallup, New Mexico to join a group of folks for a day of celebrations.

It was beautiful, meaningful day.

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

xo,

K

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Celebrate!
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Gifts in the wild

September 10th

September 2017

How cute is this kid?

I’m happy he loves his quilt.

 

~K

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handmade
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Talking Myself Through This

August 23rd

There is a part to writing novels that never gets easier: the critique. On Sunday, I sat with a group of trusted friends and listened to their thoughts on the first draft of my latest novel, “Counting Coup.” For nearly two hours, they discussed the characters and plot, the things they liked, and a bunch of stuff they didn’t.

And then I received first draft edits from my publishing editor and he had a different list of all that he liked and didn’t.

This is where my brain is still very much stuck in 3rd grade. The internal conversation goes a bit like this:

37-year-old me: Of course they gave you feedback. YOU ASKED FOR FEEDBACK. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

9-year-old me: They don’t love me. No one loves me. I hate everything.

I know. I’m ridiculous.

It is at this junction that I stopped, for more than a year, with “Basket Baby.” I put the edits on a shelf for a year before I could summon the courage to sit down and admit the story needed work.

CC does need work. They saw what I couldn’t. They also told me all of this as kindly as they could. They voluntarily spent hours upon hours reading my work and providing thoughtful advice. And my gut response was, “NOPE.”

The ego is a funny, evil thing. It let’s us hide our own imperfections, calling them quirks. It strokes our need for importance, and massages our ugliest characteristics. And when it is wounded, it cries like a 9-year-old girl.

For the next few months, I’ll be working through these changes. I know the bones to this story are there, and that they are great. I want to get it right.

~K

 

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Media, Novel, Writer School, Writing
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Oh, Montana

August 22nd

Montana 2017!

Jason and I spent last weekend visiting friends in Livingston, Montana—near Bozeman. This part of the world makes me swoon.

Annie Proulx gets it right.

Jason is a national park nut, so the chance to spend another vacation wearing dirt-colored clothing, covered in bug spray, tromping around until the point of exhaustion made his heart happy.

Montana 2017!

Have I told you about my husband’s passion for “backpacking vacations?”

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Visiting Adam and Ashley in Livingston was a good middle ground. We rented a cute basement apartment within walking distance of our friends. We did visit the park, and it was as breathtaking as I remembered.

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

We ate one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and we got to see grizzly bears and wolves at a rehabilitation center.

Montana 2017!

It was wild. It was comfortable. And of course, Adam was there—so face actually ached from laughing within an hour of landing.

We also had a chance to catch up with one of our dear friends who recently moved back to Bozeman. I’ll save the story about Mark and our nearly missed flight for another day.

Thank you, Montana. You are absolutely lovely and even a bit chilly in August—the perfect summer getaway.

~K

 

 

 

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Publishing Notes: Hiring an Agent

August 10th

Basket Baby signing

When I signed my first publishing contract with Asymmetrical last year, I was overjoyed that it included not only the contract for “Basket Baby,” but for first rights to my next three books, too. I had a unicorn in sight: a small press interested in a multi-book contract. It was time to write.

“Counting Coup” came together within a year, including considerable research and interviewing of individuals who attended Indian schools. The story, in parts, has been workshopped in a writing group, and heavily edited by my writing partner — Bert. It is still in the beta phase, with several copies out for final comments. I hope these will be minor and grammatical, not thematic. The pace of writing this story, by comparison to the first two, felt nothing short of magical. I was in the writing zone, and knowing I had a publisher to hand it off too made it that much more fun.

The next step in this career is to hire a literary agent. As a former member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, I have a handful of friends who are serious authors. We work on our love for telling stories when our day jobs allow. Add family obligations to this schedule, and the time for the business of selling books quickly falls away. Those with agents fare better. Their stories have marketing dollars behind them.

When writing query letters, you have to be your best cheerleader, which is uncomfortable. Like dating or interviewing, you want to provide just enough information to bring interest, but not too much. With my shoulders back, I am trying to sell myself to agents in New York and Los Angeles with a sincerity about my love of public health and writing.

Asymmetrical is in part run by “The Minimalists,” who you may know from their recent Netflix special, or their popular books and blog. It has been neat to be associated with Josh and Ryan in this small way. Sadly, the press will be closing later this year. The future of my next three books, including “Counting Coup,” is now uncertain.

As my old marathon coach and dear friend JT would say, “Time to put your head down.” In other words, don’t give up. Look at your feet, think of how far you’ve already come, and keep pushing.

Thanks for your continued support and reviews! Please pass your copy off to someone to read. Every reader helps spread the story.

-Kelli

 

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Novel, Writing
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