Making life more bearable

Creativity can blossom anywhere, as this artist knows. Washington DC, April 2015

Creativity can blossom anywhere, as this artist knows. Washington DC, April 2015

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow…” Kurt Vonnegut

“What is the purpose of your blog?”  That’s a question others have asked occasionally in the years since I started this blog.  As far as I can remember, my answer is always the same.

“The purpose of my blog is to keep me from losing my mind.”

That’s not to say that I consider it art, except in the sense that Vonnegut describes above.  But I agree with him heartily when he asserts that creativity can make our souls grow, and our efforts to create will bear fruit in ways we do not imagine at the time we are working.

I started this blog because our family had been blindsided by devastating news that threatened to overwhelm us.  Even in our numb sorrow, we understood that we were far from alone in our suffering.  I hoped what I put online here would somehow help someone else in addition to helping me.  I had no idea blogging was a magic carpet that would take me to places where I had never been, and introduce me to wonderful people I could not otherwise have known.

In the beginning, I only knew that the act of producing each post — poring over photographs, reading quotations, piecing thoughts together — was a therapeutic process, one that healed my mind and gave it a respite from turmoil.  Stringing beads does the same thing, as does working with paper, scissors and glue.  Singing (badly) and painting (on a kindergarten level) also give my soul freedom from the unhealthy worries and fixations that are not conducive to surviving and thriving.

It’s probably the same for you.  Some who may read this post are accomplished artists and writers who have turned their talents to financial gain, but that sort of professional achievement is not necessary for the therapeutic benefit (and indeed, I suspect, may work against it in some cases).  Creativity is its own reward, watering the seeds in the garden of your mind so that beautiful and unexpected blooms may result.

This year I hope you will give yourself time and space to exercise whatever forms of creativity feed your soul.  Don’t worry about whether it’s ready for prime time or not.  You need not share it with anyone except yourself, especially in the beginning.  It doesn’t require a lot of money, either. Discount craft supplies and “found” collage materials and online musical inspiration and all sorts of writing and drawing implements, and any other items you may need for getting started, are widely available for nothing, or next to nothing.  So practice your art!  And get ready to grow.

 

54 Comments

  1. When I came back from my duty station in Kunsan, Korea I left my Korean wife behind because the USAF considered their base non-dependant. They didn’t want the soldiers shipping their American wives to Korea, forcing the Air Force to provide American style housing for them. As a result I had to leave my new wife in Korea until I could get back to the states, be discharged, find a job and save the money to fetch my Korean wife. Went I sent for her the worst thing possible happened, she disappeared. No one has ever seen her again. To put it mildly it was worth than death. I simply didn’t know what happened to her. I took to drinking, a bad habit to drown my sorrow. I would have to deal with that decision years later.

    • Bob, I am so sorry this happened to you. What a horrible thing to have to deal with. Yes, I agree it would be far worse than death, always to wonder what happened. Though it’s understandable that such a trauma could easily drive one to drink, I’m glad you have been able to move past that. Perhaps the artistry you express in your photography has been healing for you in some way. I know that your photos (especially the ones of animals) are beneficial to me and to many others.

      • I stopped drinking on the day I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

        • You made two life-changing decisions in one day, and I’m sure they were connected to each other on many levels. I’m so happy you were able to stop drinking without going through the many trips in and out of rehab that I’ve seen in two loved ones who were trying to quit. I will remember your resolve as I try to resist many of the habits I want to break…not true addictions, but deeply rooted in a behavioral sense. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. blseibel

    I am so glad you did decide to do the blog, although the catalyst was not so good the results are. Your blog helps me with new ideas to overcome the gloom that sometimes besets me, especially in the current journey I am on. Once again, thank you.

    Creativity ?.? I will have to think on that one, I have never thought of myself as very creative person? More often recently I have felt a lazy person has inhabited me or maybe my brain over works and my body becomes tired OR that is just a rationalization !?

    • Thanks so much for your kind words about the blog! It means a lot to me to think that anyone benefits from what I write here.

      I think we often call ourselves lazy when really we are overwhelmed and/or exhausted. I know I tend to do this, and it never helps anything to put myself down. That just makes me feel worse, which makes me LESS inclined to want to do anything about whatever is bugging me.

      As far as creativity goes, I think we are all creative in some way. Though that’s just my opinion, I know that many others share that viewpoint. Because I believe humans are made in God’s image, and God is the greatest creator of all time, I think it’s part of being human to be driven to create. If you think about it, scientists, parents, doctors, engineers, cab drivers and custodians all have to exercise a bit of creativity to do their jobs efficiently. In my mind, creativity is not limited to paint or music or dance or other things we typically think of as art. Having said that, I do think many of us who would enjoy drawing or crafting or dance or acting or music or photography or other forms of art are often inhibited from trying them for fear of looking foolish. Yet they can be very therapeutic, and often in the process of allowing ourselves to have some fun with artistic expression just for fun’s sake, we discover hidden talents. You might want to take what author Julia Cameron calls an “artist’s date” and stroll through a craft store, art gallery or other colorful venue, and see if you find yourself thinking “I’d like to try that.” Or simply pick up a pen and start to journal, write poems, brainstorm ideas or daydream on paper. If you enjoy it, you may have found an inexpensive hobby, and possibly more.

      • blseibel

        I may try those new grown up coloring books. I got one for my niece for Christmas and my daughter received 2. She even got one with a tea theme, maybe I will use that, if she allows, and have a cup of tea, combining ideas from 2 of your blogs!

        • Hey, that sounds like fun! If you finish any that you’d like to share, scan or snap a photo of them and send it our way. Maybe I should add a page to this blog — “Coloring Art Gallery” featuring artwork sent in by readers. Do add a cuppa to enjoy while you work. Tea makes everything more fun.

  3. So true !!

    • Thank you! I’m glad you agree. Creativity might be why you are able to be “youngatfifty” — maybe this year I can change my online name to “youngatsixty.” 😀

  4. You said it beautifully, Julia. Life is full of taxing situations and we can succumb to them or find a creative way to rise above the adversity. Writing was your start as it was for me. I started sewing out of necessity and found it very creative. When I’m creating something with my hands, my mind is not wallowing in it’s own miserable thinking. It can change the direction of the whole day. Writing puts it all in perspective and gets it out of your head. I think it’s a healthier way to cope. When I’m sewing, I’m not eating junk either. :)) Have a wonderful week and a great new year. I think you are a great “listener” too. 🙂

    • I do find that working with the hands is calming to the brain in a way that talking or thinking will never achieve. Good point about not eating when we’re busy with something else! My downfall is eating while reading. It’s so entrenched with me that whenever I sit down to read, I reach for food. I’m trying to start reaching for a tea cup, and believe it or not, I’ve even started walking around while reading. It’s not too hard once you get the hang of it, but I only do it indoors, for obvious reasons. 😀 Hope you have a great weekend!

      • I used to walk the mall while reading a book on my lunch hours when I worked there. Now I can’t do that since I need a cane for balance but maybe I can start listening to one while I walk? 🙂 Great idea, Julia!!! Thanks. If I could just listen to all the blogs I follow wouldn’t that be lovely? Have a great weekend too.

        • WOW, Marlene, what a fabulous idea — audioblogs! I wonder whether anyone is already digitizing them for people with visual impairment? Of course, there are speech synthesizers, but that would hardly translate the meaning or especially the personality in a blog post. What makes audiobooks so fabulous is that the good ones have very talented actors reading them, and the characters spring to life. I am totally hooked on them, and have been for 25 years now. BTW you can get endless wonderful audio titles free through your local public library – just download and go! I recommend those that use the Overdrive system, which is IMO the easiest and most intuitive system. Not everyone likes audiobooks, though. You need to be at least at little bit of an auditory learner, I think. But try it! If you get even a tenth of the enjoyment from audiobooks that I do, you’ll be very happy indeed. There is something synergistic about the combination of walking and listening. In fact, I think walking creates synergy with many other things (music, daydreaming, problem solving) — as St. Augustine supposedly said, “Solvitur Ambulando” (It Is Solved By Walking).

          • I did for many years listen to stories while walking the dog. What I found was that when the story got to a tense moment, I would slow down as though my action would help the tension. 🙂 If I want to keep the pace, I have to listen to music that has a beat. When sewing, only easy music works. I can’t concentrate on anything else. I’ve had whole chapters go by and have to go back again. But I love audio and want to listen more and read less. I agree, a good walk is how to solve many problems. Something happens in the brain. Moving meditation. We have rain again for 10 days at least. It’s back to yoga indoors. Have a wonderfilled week. Hugs, M

            • Marlene, I too have to go back at times and listen to things again, especially if I’m doing anything that involves any sort of problem solving or decision making, even on a minor level. I usually pause the story when crossing streets, for example. And not every book is good for an audio experience. I quickly learned not to even TRY to listen to William Faulkner! I probably had to reply each sentence about five times (only a slight exaggeration).

              Plus when I’m feeling really lethargic, I have to have some nice rock music to get me going, so music is what I listen to when exercising or walking on an “off” day. I felt so sad when I heard David Bowie died, because his music has been some of my favorite exercise music for a long time. I could never listen to a book while sewing; probably not even music. I find that weeding, light cleaning, tidying, dusting, chopping veggies etc. are great things to do with audiobooks. The story can turn a boring task into a relaxing, enjoyable time. Hope your rainy week is filled with indoor fun!

  5. Ann

    I thought the point of your blog was to give me something positive to read and enjoy😀. Seriously, your blog and everyone’s comments are a highlight of the day for me. Although I read the blog and comments regularly, I don’t always post. The news from the outside world is so upsetting that I fear I may become one of those retirees hiding in a cave ( mentioned in an earlier blog) when I went to the gym today, I made a point to speak to everyone including the front desk folks (advice from another of your blogs)

    Finding a creative outlet is still a challenge. I used to do needlework ( crewel, counted cross stitch etc..) but after years of doing that, one begins to run out of things to do with the resulting projects. My current volunteer project is helping digitize the DAR’Ss voluminous genealogy records. Though that’s hardly creative and certainly has no face-to-face interaction, reading some of the records is a fascinating peek into our country’s past.

    Sorry to be rambling so, this is the third day of roofers installing a new roof on our house, very loud!!

    • Ann, compliments such as the one you just gave me make me feel so happy. I have almost stopped watching the news, although I do try to stay at least somewhat in touch with the bigger events; I hear the NPR news on public radio when I’m driving, and Jeff fills me in from time to time when I overhear something he’s watching and yell “WHAT???” from the next room. I’m glad you were friendly with the folks at the gym. If enough of us start acting like humans to each other again, people might begin to miss having contact via something other than screens. I’m reading a book called Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, who is a professor at MIT. She give an in-depth snapshot of what the research says about how machines change us, and it’s pretty disturbing.

      My mother went through the same thing with her knitting and other crafts; she gave a lot away to nonprofit groups to sell at craft fairs, etc., but still had way more than she knew what to do with. When my father asked her one day “just how many afghans do you think we need?” that was it for her. In no time at all she had opened a health food store (this was 1977) and in just a few years she had a chain of three, one of which is still open. She closed the other two as she got older and couldn’t keep up with running them — and could never bear to let anyone else do it. But a lot of what we laughed at her for saying then is now mainstream medical advice– for example, she was the first person to tell me butter was way healthier than hydrogenated margarine. But I digress…

      I think it would be SO fascinating to work on the DAR genealogy. I’ve strolled past their building in DC several times and always wished I had the nerve to go in and look up one of my mother’s distant relatives who supposedly fought in the Revolutionary War. Maybe they will eventually send you to DC to help at their headquarters! Are you in the DAR? I thought about giving my sister a membership as a gift, but I need to get the documentation from my uncle; I think we’d have to have that before we could join.

      Oh how well I remember that noise of the roof being installed! We had a new roof put on at our townhome in 2011. It was such a relief when they finished! Hope you have a QUIET weekend!

      • Ann

        It’s Sunday and blissfully quiet!

        As a librarian, you would find the DAR library fascinating. You don’t have to be a member to visit the library located in the DAR building in DC. You can also access the resources online but an actual visit is interesting.

        After reading all the comments, I can see that caring for my many indoor plants is a creative outlet but I need more. I’ve ordered an Adult coloring book just because I love working with colors. As Raynard would say, I digress😀

        • Ann, don’t you just love those peaceful, quiet Sunday mornings and sleepy Sunday afternoons? Our morning worship starts late enough that we don’t ever need to rush around on Sunday mornings, and I really enjoy that.

          I’m glad to know I can visit the DAR library — I’ll have to plan to do that the next time I have some time to stroll around in DC.

          I think indoor plants are a fabulous way to be creative. They improve the air and the ambiance too. Plus the varieties are endless, though I’m not good at keeping the more fragile ones alive. In fact, Jeff is the one who keeps them alive; he’s so much better at remembering to water them. I hope you have fun with your adult coloring book. I hope to make more time for that myself this year. I think it goes great with audiobooks. Hey — didn’t you know that the unofficial motto of this blog is “We Digress!” 😀 Maybe I should put a tagline at the top of the page that says “Proudly digressing since 2012.”

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I often think I’m “in search of”! I suppose that’s why I bought the adult coloring book and artist’s pencils. The pages are still black and white, no color added by me. I think that’s sad, that I was excited to buy them, but haven’t taken the time to follow through with adding my style to those pages. That’s a starting point, just ADMITTING that I need to get creative. Thank you for your blog that delights me everyday! Love, Sheila 💛

    • Sheila, I think creativity is something that happens at its own pace, so don’t push yourself. Having said that, you might try putting on some Mozart or Haydn or Debussy or some good Celtic instrumentals — really anything that won’t distract you from what you’re doing or make you want to get up and dance (unless dancing is your art! 😀 ) Remember that we can be creative in everything we do. I think you are already creative in many ways. For example, your comments are quite unique because you add so many cute pics to them! Just having Walter is a creative thing to do, all those lovely colors. Thank YOU for being here. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. So, so agree, Julia! I was raised by artistic parents and our family was made of primarily musicians–some still make their living that way. But I stuck with writing as it was my deeper passion, perhaps I also felt it was mine, alone and I wrote only for myself as a child and teen. Then it became more important. But the truth is, I adore music and art and dancing and theater and all have played a big part in my living and doing. How wonderful, as you note, that we have art to help inspire as well as save our lives–and to share with others. And just be be able to create for the sake of it. Plus, do you agree, it brings us closer to our spiritual selves and to God? (I am also happy most of my children and grandchildren are creative types, even though they may complain of being “too emotional” or “sensitive”, at times. So it can be…and “so it goes” as Vonnegut often wrote.)

    • Yes, I totally agree that creativity is a spiritual thing that brings us closer to God, the great Creator. When we create, we are giving expression to intangible but very real aspects of living, such as the deep need for beauty, meaning and connection. More than any other discipline, the fine arts (as we used to call music, drama, dance, painting etc.) have shown me how much people have in common with each other all over the world, and across thousands of years. Perhaps this is why creativity is so therapeutic; it helps us feel less alone. I’m glad you decided to write even with all the other avenues of expression open to you. I think your exposure to music must have built the foundation for the writing. You are fortunate that your children and grandchildren will continue to create beauty and joy in your life! Thanks for your encouragement.

      • Thanks for the good response, Julia. I see we are of like minds in our faith and love of the arts and nature. Best to you and yours!

  8. sorry for typos–it got sent before I was done. But I just wanted to say–thanks for the post and best to you in your creative activities!

    • Thank you, Cynthia! I have the same problems when I comment on other people’s blogs. My most un-favorite thing is when it somehow all disappears and is lost. I’ve never figured out why that happens, but in my case, I think it has something to do with the shift key and typing too fast.

  9. Thanks, Julia. There is lots to ponder here. Like you, and most of us who blog, I never dreamed of the ongoing journey and enrichment I would one day derive from blogging. It’s extraordinary.

    I do something creative every day, without real attention or forethought. It feeds my soul. Creativity can be found in the way you make your bed, arrange pillows, hang towels, etc. I love taking photos, arranging objects in my home, putting flowers in a vase, etc. I find creativity in the garden and when I craft a card. My fairy garden is another wonderful outlet. Blogging is another great way to express and be creative. I tell everyone I meet “if you are thinking about starting a blog, do it!” Jump right in.

    You’re a wise woman to work against despair in this way. I’m glad to be along for the ride.

    • Alys, I think you make a good point here about how creativity is pervasive and influences all we do, even when we are unaware of it. In particular I think of the work people do at home; almost every aspect of rearing children and maintaining a home requires some sort of creativity (or maybe at times, improvisation would be a more apt term). I wonder why so many of us feel that reluctance or fear to “jump right in?” For me, the books of Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg helped me to get past that inhibition that told me I wasn’t good enough to try to write.

      I’m glad you are along for the ride, too…although I think it’s more of a carpool! 😀 A GIANT, global carpool! You are one of the ones who helped me so much to “get the hang of it” (blogging) in the early days, and I will always be grateful.

      • LB

        Sorry Ladies, but I keep jumping in on conversations (can you both tell that I’ve found time to catch up on blogging? and I’m still pondering my word for the year, too).
        Anyway, I just LOVE the giant, global carpool!!! What a visual I have in my mind!

        • LB, maybe you can tail the carpool on your bike in case there is some sort of mechanical breakdown. Then we can draw names to figure out who gets to ride with you to the nearest service station!

  10. Michael

    That quote is a keeper and he is also one of my favorite writers going back to college days when I first read- ” God bless you Mr. Rosewater” and of course “Slaughterhouse 5″ which was in part autobiographical.
    This blog entry is a challenge to me to take some things from the” back burner” and put them on the table. Have you seen these adult coloring books? Supposed to be kind of therapeutic. I have a friend who is O.C.D. and they may find those helpful. I have only seen a couple of pages and have not done any. I used to do Stained glass and have all the equipment, but have not done much with them. I read somewhere that 95 percent of 5 year olds are highly creative while adults- like 15 percent or less. What does that say about our schools with their cookie cutter methodologies.

    • I’ve never read any of Vonnegut; he’s on my “ought to read someday” list, but for some reason, I’ve never gotten around to him. The coloring books for adults are wonderful. Some of us were doing our own version of it for years, with rubber stamped images which we would color in. WOW, stained glass! I knew someone who worked in that medium and it was quite demanding and expensive. Did you burn out or just never have the time for it?

      Regarding the creativity in our kids, and how it decreases, I wouldn’t blame the schools. They have a well-nigh impossible task as it is, to take a classroom of 20-30 individuals and teach them all the same curriculum — and like it or not, we all do need some basic foundations in reading, math, history, languages, etc. I think far too much is expected of our schools; I think maybe 80% of a child’s learning happens elsewhere anyway. I blame the waning of creativity in adults on time pressure, mindless entertainment such as bad TV shows and movies, and the very practical demands that face us as adults. Kids don’t typically have to worry about feeding a family or earning a living wage, so their creativity has time to play. Its not for nothing that those who devote themselves to art are sometimes seen as living on the fringes of society; it’s very difficult to make a living at it. I think we would do well to emphasize the awareness of creativity as it is expressed in a variety of venues, and encourage each other to maintain our imaginative efforts in whatever ways we can. While we’re at it, those of us who have the means should support the arts as patrons and fans, which also jump-starts our creativity in other areas.

  11. Good morning, Julia! I agree – artistic expression is healing. It occupies my mind but allows me to work through a problem in the recesses of my mind, sometimes even as I remain blissfully unaware that I’m problem-solving. This is especially true when I’m creating something as a gift for someone else.
    Today we have the sticky-snow-on-every-branch thing going on here, so when the sun comes up, I may explore some photo opportunities. Or I might be kinder to my body (getting a sore throat) and do some indoor beautifying. (My delightful hanging bed did not make the trip from New Hampshire without sustaining some damage. At first I was overwhelmed, but I’ve filed a claim and started purchasing trim and paint needed to re-construct it.)
    Painting – even a wall – is hugely therapeutic to me!

    • WOW, a hanging bed! Is that anything like a sky chair? Sounds WONDERFUL! I was just thinking today (without regret) that we haven’t had any snow yet this winter. Hope you get some good photos while it’s still pretty. Be kind to your sore throat, though — maybe a nice cup of Throat Coat tea? Or green tea with fresh lemon juice? I admire people who know how to paint rooms. Jeff and I did a good bit of it in our first home, but since then, it has intimidated me. I’d probably experiment with color a lot more if I could change things up often. I can imagine that it would be therapeutic, though.

  12. The purpose of my blog is to write… something I have done in fits and starts over the years. My dad was always very encouraging about my writing and seemed pleased when I began a blog several years ago. Since his death recently, each post seems, in some way, to be a little note to him and a thank you for all his support. I’m very glad your blog has helped you maintain your sanity in the midst of scary times. I find it to be a gentle, reassuring place to come for a visit. Hope your new year brings many good things for you and your family.

    • I so identify with what you wrote about your Dad. It sounds as if we have parallel situations with our fathers. My Daddy always encouraged my writing, by sharing good authors with me and by praising even my earliest efforts. Almost every time I write, I think of some little exchange or influence of his on whatever topic I’m discussing.

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog. From the beginning, “a gentle, reassuring place to come for a visit” could have been my vision statement, if I’d had the clarity to create one. That is a wonderful goal to live up to, and I’ll keep trying! “Gentle” is not a word that has typically been used to describe me, so it’s a work in progress, but I find it so much easier to be kind when I am among kind people. ❤ Thanks again, and I wish you all the best too!

  13. Michael

    Who was the writer who said,”I write because I have to?”

    • I think it was all of them. 🙂

  14. Michael

    I watched a documentary with Bill Morris and Elie Wiesel called, “Beyond Hate.” Elie survived the camps and went on to write the wonderful work, “Night,” which concerns his time at Auschwitz and the death of his parents and sister. One of the most powerful pieces of autobiography I have ever read. He credits his survival to blind luck. as he was always on the verge of being culled out to the gas chambers, but somehow his number was out of range. He says that having survived the camp he had to write about it, in order to give the experience meaning. It was the only way he could make some sense out of his history. He went on to say that we can,” make an offering out of our lives moment by moment,” and at that point I lost him, or he lost me.

    • I have that book Night in both print and audio formats, but as short as it is, I still have not read it. I guess I am waiting for the right time, when I am in the mood for something that is both demanding and rewarding. I want to be able to focus on it — not light reading, for sure. I’m glad you recommend it. Re: his advice on making an offering of our lives — this is precisely what Paul taught in Romans 12 when he talks of making ourselves “a living sacrifice” by using our own unique gifts to serve others with humility and love. It’s easy for us to talk of doing such, but coming from one who endured what Wiesel survived, it’s especially powerful.

  15. Sheila

    Julia, a comment from Bill’s brother, John, was in reference to our “Porch Bunch” that I’d love to share. He said now that our 2016 calendar is fully operational, we’re all sitting (virtually) together on January’s porch in Greece! What a lovely thought….✨💛 Love to all,
    Sheila

    • Sheila, a lovely thought indeed on this VERY cold (relatively speaking — it’s actually 31 degrees right now) Virginia morning. Greece is certainly a fabulous winter retreat. Is that a jet ski in the distance? That comfy chair is going to be hard to get out of. Glad it’s a virtual one! BTW we got the package — how fun to have Christmas in January!! In typical fashion, the P. O. delivered the mail even though I had a hold on it, but it was still safe and sound on our front porch when we got back here last night. I’m letting Matt open the gifts one per day, which will give him something to smile about this week! Thanks so much!!

  16. Michael

    I am not sure what happened with Stained Glass. I keep thinking I will get back to it someday- but someday may turn out to be never. My daughter in law keeps asking for stuff. Kind of expensive hobby. Seems like there are several things I used to do.
    Have you heard of writer Hellen Ellis? She says she is a Southern lady living on the upper east side- Manhattan. She has a book of short stories out-“American Housewife.” She is also a professional poker player. She says when she writes she, “loses track of time.”
    When she sits in front of her computer she says, “Today I will write a story and someone is going to read it.” Fun interview on NPR. Once again.
    She describes her southern sensitivity; manners, a sense of place, ingenuity and a love of the macabre and Gothic histories. Sounds like a fun read.
    I went to my cousin’s memorial last week. Very sad. She was very devout -Catholic and had a wonderful singing voice and sang in several chorales. The priest, who was a personal friend, described her as full of life, bawdy, irreverent, with a wicked sense of humor. Not the typical list of superlatives you usually hear at such services but made her seem more real. Great lady with three grown sons and just a year older than I. I suppose I will have to get used to attending similar events in the not too far distant future.

    • Michael, I had never heard of that writer, but there are already 27 wish list holds for that book in the online book swap. I couldn’t find it in the public library catalog yet, but I will certainly keep looking for it. It sounds fun.

      I hope you do get back into the stained glass sometime. Maybe you could start with something small and work up to a really nice window. I think the demand for stained glass is probably greater than the number of artists out there producing it, which can’t be said for most arts or crafts. Probably has something to do with how difficult and expensive it is.

      I’m sorry for your loss. It really does hit home when we lose those who are so close in age to us. You mentioned getting used to funerals. I’ve had thoughts along those same lines recently. It’s one of the down sides of having a long life; the longer we live, the more goodbyes there will be. I suppose that is one thing that helps us feel peace about being in the last years of even the longest life. When we know and love more people who are already on the other side, it makes the thought of crossing over less dreaded. On the other side of the coin — when we lose someone dear, especially one who seemed “too young to die” it is comforting to think they are spared the sorrows that happen after they are gone. Though Daddy lived a good long life of 87 years, I have several times already thought “I’m glad he doesn’t have to be here to see/endure/suffer” this or that.

      • Sheila

        Julia, on the same page…. again. 😂 This time it’s a book page, thanks to Michael. I had just read a review page about “American Houewife”. I really identified with “pumped the salad spinner like it’s a CPR dummy”! I have sunbeams today, even though Clemson lost the championship game to Alabama. They’re still WINNERS! 🐯

        • For some reason, this comment appeared twice…see my reply to it below…

  17. Michael

    I should probably stop recommending books to you, but when I hear of a new Southern writer- it is hard not to mention. My own list is some hundreds long and I make notes in my calendar which I revisit from time to time reminding me of all I have not read. The lists that really get me are when they publish those top ten books of the year. This year I actually felt kind of haughty as I had read two books on the list- which is a first for me.
    I suppose we could also say funerals are in part a measure of our circle of love.
    The book Night is not light reading and I referred to it in my chaplain application.

    • Michael, I hope you never stop recommending books to me. I love reading books others recommend, and I can think of at least one or two I that I enjoyed, that I probably would not have known about if you had not told me. I love having a long reading list. It’s like a promise of future joy. I’m a bit strange in that respect because I can’t go anywhere without having some sort of reading material along, in case I end up with 5-10 minutes to spend with a book or magazine. I love tucking a Reader’s Digest into my purse or having my Kindle Paperwhite or Nook HD full of books or magazines along with me. E-readers are perfect for those of us who feel mildly anxious without a lot of books at hand. Also, I like having a wide range of different titles to match my mood or current circumstances. When the time is right to read Night, I know I will be glad I saved it.

      Yes, funerals are reminders to us of our circles of love, and of people who have given us blessings that will never leave us. Even those who were not our favorites, or whom we did not know very well, usually have left us with at least a few happy or helpful lessons for us to keep.

      • Sheila

        Julia, we’re on the same page….again. 😂 This time it’s a book page, thanks to Michael. I had just read a review page about “American Housewife”. I really identified with “pumped the salad spinner like it’s a CPR dummy”! Bill asked me once if IT was dead yet! I have sunbeams today, even though Clemson lost the championship football game last night to Alabama. They’re still WINNERS! 🐯

        • Hi Sheila, there was much rejoicing among our Alabama relatives after that game (my nephew works at the U of A) but as you say, it’s hard to think of Clemson as a loser in any category. HA! Love the salad spinner joke! Next time Bill asks that, tell him “yes, but it’s not dehydrated yet.” 😀 We both should read that book!

  18. Michael

    Let me know about that book ,” America Housewife.” I am also reading Nouwen’s “Can you drink this cup?” Kind of classic Nouwen.

    • Michael, I’ve been putting a lot of Nouwen’s books on my waitlist at the book swap. I’ve got a couple of books by Jean Vanier that I’m eager to read, too. So many books, so little time…

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