Welcome to our virtual café, where we'll chat about what I've been reading, writing, and doing over the past month. I invite you to have a seat, grab your inspirational beverage of choice, and join me in sharing a leisurely cup of caffeine for the soul.
What I'm Reading
For those of you who have enjoyed my recent binge-reading of everything Lauren Denton, welcome back. For those who are ready for me to review something different, I promise that will be the case next month, if for no other reason that Lauren doesn’t release her next book until several months into the new year.
While this wasn’t my favorite novel from Ms. Denton, the underlying themes of finding and coming home resonates with me as an author and human being. And the way her characters always find a way into your mind and heart has made me further appreciate the value of a story and the power it has to shape your thoughts about the future.
Read my complete review for The Summer House on Goodreads.
What I'm Writing
By the time this email is delivered to your inbox, Splendid Chaos will be three short days away from publication. As I’ve mentioned before, the journey in bringing Drew & Maria’s story to completion has been an exhausting but extremely rewarding one. For the past month or so, I’ve given myself a reprieve from writing new words. With the holiday season approaching alongside the flurry of college applications we’re working to submit for my son, my priorities have shifted in the short-term.
But this last week has been an enjoyable one for me on the writing front. After receiving a very insightful question from one of our community members, Cheryl, I was presented with the opportunity to immerse myself back inside the mind and heart of Claire Perkins, one of my favorite characters in all of Pigeon Grove.
Spending time looking thought the eyes of others, whether real or fictional, is illuminating on so many different levels. It helps me appreciate how people see things from varied perspectives, and as I’ve shared before, it’s one of two main reasons I love to write. The first is to connect—with people just like you. And the second, is to help navigate reality through the words and emotions of a story.
I want to sincerely thank you for joining me on this lifelong journey, and I hope you enjoy our visit with Claire this month. Grab a cup of tea, coffee, or inspirational beverage of choice, and join is in our online café for a shared cup of caffeine for the soul.
What I'm Doing
The only constant is change. And boy have we dealt with that constant over the past nine months and counting. To say it’s been chaotic is an obvious understatement. But there are at least two things that remain unchanged, and they provide solace during these crazy times.
Our family has remained extremely careful with how we interact in a socially responsible manner. Masks, social distancing, hand washing, and disinfecting measures have become the new normal in our household. But it’s so very important for us to find new ways to engage with the world and the outdoors in healthy but safe ways.
Enter the cabins at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Florida. Located just outside of Orlando, my son and I escaped for a two-day mini-vacation. It was amazing how just driving on new roads and seeing different sights along the way made such a huge difference in both our moods. But it’s what we hoped to see, and did catch sight of once we arrived, that brought a smile to both our faces.
That first unchanged thing I mentioned above? It’s the water temperature of the springs at this state park. It remains a balmy seventy-two degree year-round. And to the manatees who don’t have a layer of blubber to protect them from the chilly water temperatures at this time of year, it’s a welcome retreat and solace, for both them as well as the visitors who have the opportunity to watch them glide gracefully through the water, rotating left and right. They’re affectionately known in our household as “floaty potatoes”.
My son and I spent hours, just watching these gentle giants parade through the water in a way that surpassed the joy felt while watching any rendition of the Macy’s Day Parade. And that peaceful feeling carried over into the evening hours as we sat around a campfire, listening to the sounds of nature, reminiscing about old memories and planning new ones.
That second unchanged thing from the beginning of these thoughts? It’s hope. Even amidst the most unsettling and anxiety-inducing chaos, we have the wherewithal inside us to embrace hope. While we might not understand exactly what our new memories will look like, we do know with unwavering certainty, that just like those manatees, we’ll find warmer temperatures alongside the solace of a peaceful retreat. We only need a dash of hope and the will to keep swimming.
Lots of things about our world feel broken these days. There are pieces scattered all over the place, and sometimes those fragments are so mixed up with other bits that we don’t even know if all the splintered parts will ever go back together again. It’s a dismal way to look at things, I agree. But it’s important to realize that we have a choice, always. We can focus on the void left by those cracks and what is missing, or we can adjust our attention and turn it toward the positive possibilities. Just think about all the new and wonderful things we can plant in those new spaces. When we lean into hope and love, beautiful things bloom.
Until next month, stay inspired! And, as always, I welcome a short (or long) email to say hi or share your thoughts on this month's final sip...
Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.
~ Emily Dickinson ~