The Age Issue.

It’s funny. I don’t feel 24. And perhaps that’s because I’ve never been 24 and the feeling of it will settle into my skin as the next 365 days wear on. Sometimes, I feel older. The kind of older that comes with experiencing life at a faster pace than a lot of people my age. Sometimes, I feel way too young for the things I’m doing, especially when people have the habit of telling me so. Sometimes I feel far removed from the younger me, the adolescent me that felt quiet and sensitive and frizzy-haired. Sometimes I am her again, and the present feels like an alternate universe I stepped into, unknowingly, as I opened my closet to get dressed for school.
So what advice can I give myself as I step into a new year?
I think,
given the unpredictability of the present,
given the patience required in this stage of waiting and growing,
given the fact that I am now officially 24 years old and I do not have things figured out as 14-year-old me might have expected,
the thing I must do is learn.
I don’t want to have things figured out. I want to stay curious and hungry and restless enough to want to learn. I want to read and reflect and write and ask questions and search and pray so that the ideas and the answers and the possibilities keep coming. I want to begin each day with anticipation for what I will discover that day, understanding that whatever it is will not be the whole puzzle, but merely one more piece.
Learning is my motivation to live.
Here are a few posts that taught me something this week:
“I wonder if I’m still a writer or a content creator.” And 4 other things that I wish I didn’t have in common with every other writer/blogger on the planet.
Remember this post? Here’s another beautiful essay about the Fading Art of Letter Writing.
We’ve sheared the textile of our own lives. And it’s time to put down the scissors.
[Thanks Tyler for the great links yesterday!]
[Image via]

Inspired By.

Guess what, guys?
It’s my birthday! 
And what a good birthday it’s been. Hubs surprised me with a HUGE book – a complete collection of e.e. cummings. Does he know me well or what? Anyway, I’m going out for dinner with my closest loves tonight [at least my off-line ones, because I really do love all of you a whole lot], and I can hardly wait. But first, I wanted to wish you all a happy weekend, and ask for a wee little birthday present in return. Instead of me giving you a list of love-links today, can you give me a link in the comments to the best article or blog post you’ve read this week? I’ll share my own list of weekly favorites tomorrow, but for today, I’d love to see a few of yours.

Have a wonderful weekend – one full of life, full of color, full of wishes come true.


Inspired By.

Guilty pleasure confession: I’ve seen it about a million times now, but I love the first Sex and the City movie. [The second movie was horrible – a floppy storyline that was thrown together as what I hope will be a last ditch effort for another $300,000,000.]
Now go ahead. I know you want to.
Groan and roll your eyes and say, “Bethany, I thought you had better taste than to watch those heathens!” all you want, but I’m a sucker for a writerly heroine, any story line related to relationships and romance, and the fashion and glitz of a thriving metropolis like New York City. So, I watched the movie again last night, and googled “Love Letters of Great Men, Volume I.” Turns out, it was a fake book that Carrie was reading at the beginning of the film, until a Mr. John C. Kirkland realized that women round the world were now dying to get there hands on such a book, and so he compiled it. Genius.
Amidst my googling I found this site, and couldn’t resist sharing this note from the lovely Man in Black, Johnny Cash.
A sheet of lined yellow legal paper isolated on white.
Hey June, 
That’s really nice June. You’ve got a way with words and a way with me as well. 
The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout. 
Love John
The beauty of a handwritten note cannot be denied. There’s just something about it that feels so raw and tangible in a way that digitized communication will never be able to emulate. I know that when I’m feeling stuck and disconnected to my writing self, the best thing I can do is close my laptop and grab a pen and my notebook.
So my plea to you, instead of my usual Friday post of lovelinks, is short and simple and sappy to the core.
Write  a letter. To yourself, to your love, to your friend, to your future, to anyone that might need it. Be poetic and passionate enough to scrawl your thoughts, messy and unhindered.
Leave something to be found when you’re gone.

Inspired By.

Writing my guest post for Ally this week really got me thinking about relationships. Not just marriage, but all relationships – to people, to art, to work, to a habit, to an idea. We commit ourselves to a variety of different things, in word and in deed, on a daily basis. Don’t you think? And if you really think about it, your actions, your schedule, speak volumes about what you care about most. If you’re looking back on this week and thinking, hmm… that’s not what I want to be committed to, then you’re not the only one.

You may be tempted to spend your weekend as a continuation of your work week, scrambling like mad to finish a project.


You may be tempted to avoid any form of work all together and park yourself in front of your television.


You may be tempted to cling to the period of your life when things felt so much easier than they do right now, when you were a carefree college kid without any real responsibilities.


Put down your smart phone.

Step away from your inbox.

Turn off the TV.

Let go of the if-onlys and the I-wish-I-weres.

Read a few of these links and be inspired to commit yourself to something good. A healthy relationship. A life full of adventure. A habit of learning and going and doing.


She’s Married to Amazement.

I love this quote from Darrell about seeking direction versus wisdom:

“I can seek direction which is circumstantial, or seek the wisdom that will help direct my actions in all circumstances.”

Possibly the most romantic stay-in date that I’ve heard of in a long time.

Rob asks the question: what’s more important, a happy story or one that evokes strong emotion, even if it’s depressing?

Commit to story. It’s A Matter of Life and Death.

Confession: I’m an NPR addict. [Like you didn’t already know that…] This story, like so many that I hear on a daily basis, had me in tears and reminded me of this post I wrote a few months back.

So what are you committing to this weekend, and what are you letting go of?

Happy Friday, friends. [And happy fall.]

Inspired By.

Today I’m thinking about authenticity. Writers have the ability and responsibility to wield words and create meaning. We can construct whole worlds of fiction and fantasy. We can give artistic flair to the everyday human experience.

And so I think to myself: whatever we do, whatever we say, however we act, should be authentic to who we are. A story, however edited and rewritten, should ring true. So I strive to live a life authentic to what I feel, and what I believe to be true. But, by my nature and because I am human, I succeed marginally at best. I get caught up in constructing authenticity. And then I lose it. I give in to the belief that this is what they’ll want to read from me or this sounds better than the way it really happened or if I told them what I really think, they wouldn’t take me seriously.

Do you ever do that, rearrange your thoughts around what you believe people will respond to?

Do you blog for the bandwagon? Post about things that you believe will initiate comments and page views and tweets, or do you blog about things that really matter to you, the writer?

Do you edit your thoughts and words at the expense of your true voice?

Do you edit others at the expense of the truth in their own words?

On the one hand, you write for your audience. You write to give them a thought, a moment illustrated, a word of encouragement, a benefit from your experience. But we have to strike that balance between sharing our gift with others and exercising our gift simply because it is what we are called to do.

I’m convicted by the thought that when we write, we should not just write about writing, but about our lives.

As a very wise professor I know recently explained,

Art is not about art. It’s about everything else.

My blog is a blog about writing, but it is also a blog for my writing.

We can lose that authenticity and integrity for our work in a variety of ways, whether through writing about writing to avoid writing truth, or editing our thoughts and experiences to garner attention.

Here are a few posts from the interwebs that I appreciate for their authenticity.

The best reflection out of the many that were shared over the past week.

What good is a relationship without confrontation and commitment?

Is it right, or does it just feel right? How my generation deals with morality.

These bloggers are willing to share their true stories. I took the plunge and shared mine yesterday. Share yours. The world needs to witness it.

The Bravest and Most Beautiful Affair. [Heard rave reviews about the author‘s presentation on the importance of poetery at Story Conference today.]

And finally, a friend and I are starting a writer’s group in the Elgin/Chicago Suburbs. Are you interested? Join here.

Have a good weekend, friends.