A skill a month…

…keeps the creativity flowing! This is one of the premises in my new life guide du jour, The Crossroads of Should & Must by Elle Luna.


I found it in one of my favorite local bookshops in my neighborhood, the Brookline Booksmith. The book’s striking visuals and paired down language challenge the reader to consider a duality in one’s own life. Simply – what must you do and what should you do? From there, the book helps the reader tease out the question and the roadblocks many of us encounter on the road to our own “must.” 

The strength in Luna’s piece is its ability to be both inspirational and practical at the same time. Unlike so many Instagrammed and pinned quotes overlaid on beautiful scenery usually touting nonsensical generalities, Luna digs into the meat of action in a limited space. 

My favorite of Luna’s action steps to discovering your must include, but are not limited too: asking your parent what you were like as a child, writing a set of two obituaries, one as if you were to die today and one as if you led the life you imagine, and acquiring a new skill a month.

I’ve spoken to my mother, father, and a few of my 7 siblings, I haven’t yet written my obituaries, and I’m working on my monthly skills. The hope is to find connections and patterns, even if they seem tenuous at first. Do you prefer working alone? Do you need a lot of feedback? When do you find your creativity sparked? In the short weeks since I read this book, I am already discovering some of my own patterns already (read: I like my independence).

I’ll share with you some of my new skills as I aquire them, or at least attempt to. June’s was – Grow Basil. Why you may ask? Well, when I was little,my mom loved to garden and could answer just about any question I had about flowers, planets, or their specific care. I remember with a nostalgic fondness putting on my too big gardening gloves and plopping down in the soil next to her. Her gardens are always beautiful and breathtaking. 

Living in an apartment outside a major city and working a demanding job in finance doesn’t afford me the luxury of really rediscovering this love of gardening right now, but I figured I could connect with that feeling on a smaller scale. See my basil plant below! 


I’m no expert, though someday I’d love to at least be a knowledgeable gardener. For now, I’ll stick with my basil, which looks like it could use a bigger pot! 

Stay tuned for July’s new skill. If you are able, pick up Luna’s book and let yourself be surprised as I was. Cheers to working towards our “musts” everyday! What is your “must”? What do you do simply for yourself? 

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Summer Reading Pic #1

Title:The Buried Giant

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Genre: Fiction

The Buried Giant is a true epic that takes us along with our lead characters through the rough and unknown post-Arthurian British countryside. While the tale is full of brilliant twists, magical superstitions, elegant displays of cunning, and sword-handling, at the heart of the piece we find a story about forgetting and growing old together. Axl and Beatrice find themselves forgetful due to a mist that has taken over their land. While navigating the landscape and their own memories, they come to question the weight and importance of memory as it pertains to their present and to love as a whole.

But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn’t like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die. – The Buried Giant

Check out my profile on Good Reads to see what else I’m digging into this summer. Share your summer reading picks in the comments section below!

 

 

Adam’s First Words

I’m a big fan of the Keel’s Simple Diary. My sister Elise gave me a set before I went abroad to Sweden and I still have so much fun using them. They are riddled with great prompts and philosophical questions that I find myself constantly wanting to explore on the page outside the confines of the lines provided. I’ll leave you with one I found last week – 

Adam’s first words to Eve were…

I found my mind racing and playing with different ideas, it was almost like a riddle begging to be solved. What can you come up with here? I can imagine thousands of different ways this conversation could play out. 

Next week I’ll share a list of some of the responses that I came up with. I would love to hear and share yours too! Feel free to comment below! 

Father Time 

I can hear his voice, a deep rich baritone reading Harry Potter to me. I can hear my own, editing for content appropriateness, reading David Sedaris to him. My father and I have always connected on the level of books. My vision of him will always be with a book in his hand, glasses perched on his nose, in his chair in the corner.

So it felt natural that for Father’s Day, my dad and I hit up some great NJ bookstores together. He instilled in me a love of the written word in all of its forms for as long as I can remember.

He loves to read just about anything and zips through books at lightening speed. He always has a recommendation or some insight. We always talk about what we are reading. I think I was the only girl at college who excitedly received Manila envelopes full of newspaper articles my father had saved for me in my mailbox.

It felt like the best way to spend a day celebrating him together. It celebrated this love he had instilled in me that we both share. It celebrated all he has taught me. A day spent together in a bookstore talking about the authors and the pages we love is the best ode to my father I could think of.

How did everyone else spend their Father’s Day? What books or stories do you remember your father sharing with you?

Here are some wonderful bookstores to check out if you are ever in northern NJ:

  • Old Book Shop – 4 John Street, Morristown, NJ
  • The Chatham Bookseller, Madison, NJ
  • Short Stories Community Book Hub, Madison, NJ

“Great writers steal”

“Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” This quote is attributed to T.S. Eliot, though has had so many different iterations, I’m not confident saying it even originated with him. Below, a quote attributed to Picasso, stolen by Banksy.

Banksy

How do the works of others inspire our own work? This is a question that comes into play for many artists. Whether it’s tracing back a piece of inspiration to its source, or openly collaborating with others.

Where do we draw the line between borrowing and stealing? And for that matter, how far back are we obligated to trace back a theme, trope, character, or motif to its source? Some argue that there are only a handful of stories that really exist, and that all stories from Harry Potter to the Desperate Housewives to the biblical parables are all just recreations of a few, essential, fundamental stories.

Referring back to known parables or stories, I believe, can greatly enhance your writing. It adds an entire layer of dimension without you as the writer having to do the footwork. There are cultural associations and assumptions that go hand in hand with known tales that can work with, or in contrast, to what you are aiming to do.

I know that currently in my own writing, I am ripping apart a piece I began a few months ago and fleshing it out. The story began as a “seed scene” as I like to think of it, and I am working on seeing where it wants to go from there. In my initial moment of inspiration, riding the Green line in Boston, I jotted down this scene in my Field Notes notebook (very handy by the way, find them here). As I wrote down the scene, I named the character Jonah, I’m not sure why exactly, I just went with my gut and flew from there.

In re-examining the scene and brainstorming, I was taken aback by how perfectly I could wind some Jonah in the belly of the whale into my story in a slight, but purposeful way. I would use this parable to do some of the heavy lifting for me. I hope to share that piece with you all in a few weeks’ time, and you can let me know if the thievery was worth it!

In the name of collaboration in all forms, find one of my favorite musical mashups: “Little Wrecking Ball