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When my friend, Laurie Petrisin, announced the release of her children’s book, Acorn and Button, I was so happy for her and couldn’t wait to read it.
A little backstory: Laurie taught my two kids art all the years I homeschooled them. I didn’t have money for private art lessons, so Laurie let me barter with her. I’d bring her gluten free treats, hummus, soup, and other homemade goodies, and she’d give them a generously long art lesson. I’m pretty sure we got the better end of the deal. My kids loved her and learned drawing, color, composition, watercolor, oil painting, and so much more.
This is a picture book about two very different personalities. Acorn is sweet, sensitive, creative, and carefree, while Button is more fastidious, uptight, proper, and careful. Think Frog and Toad, but different. No “I Can Read” stilted wording, for one. And much more colorful illustrations.
So Acorn and Button meet in the woods and become fast friends. They immediately begin having adventures together, make discoveries, and learn about life. Within each adventure is a little nugget of wisdom, even though it’s never preachy. This duo learn about bravery, kindness, creativity, the seasons/cycles of nature, helping each other, making the best of not-so-ideal situations, and more.
Illustrations abound on every page: they’re colorful, action-packed, and lively, so they’ll capture the attention of a range of ages. (I’m thinking ages 6–9, although perhaps a little younger or older.)
And while this is a picture book, it’s also a chapter book. Which means you’ll have a whole week of bedtime stories, although you know they’re going to beg for just one more chapter!
Acorn and Button by Laura Petrisin is full of heartwarming, appealing, relatable characters and stories that will hold your child’s attention and yours as well. I highly recommend this adorable picture book!
And congratulations to Laurie, for all the creative work, thought, energy, and love she put into bringing Acorn and Button to life.
What does being kind bring up for you? Is it paying for the meal or coffee or toll of the person behind you? Is it a hug or refraining from saying something sharp or critical to your friend or family member? Is it words of encouragement? Or making a delicious meal for someone who’s having a hard time?
Those examples are the easy side of being kind. There’s a tougher side to kindness as well.
Being kind can be releasing someone who needs you to let them move into the next chapter of their life. It can be ending work at a place of employment because it’s taking too high of an emotional toll. It can be encouraging yourself to go for a walk when you’re stressed or to eat a nutrition-packed lunch instead of fast food so you’ll feel great the rest of the day. It can be saying something that needs to be said, even though you don’t know how it’ll turn out.
One example of the difficult side of kindness from my own life is helping my 24-year-old son pack and get ready to move out West. My mother heart wants him to stay in this area, close to me, so I can see him, spend time with him, feed him, etc. But that wouldn’t be kindness if I pressured him to stay or to heaped guilt on him for deciding to go. It’s natural and healthy for young adults to leave the nest, to spread their wings, and fly off on adventures of their very own. I did my work of raising him, and now it’s time for him to fly.
Similarly, I didn’t hold my daughter back when she left a year and a half ago at age 18. The kind thing was to help her gather together and pack all the household things she’d need for life on her own. To hug her and say how proud I was of her for being so brave to go after her dreams. And I was there to wave her off down the road. After she left, I had two weeks where I was so exhausted I could hardly leave my bed. When I went to the grocery store or anywhere in our small college town, it felt empty. I was bereft and grieving. And it was ok. I slowly adjusted to it and eventually it became less painful. Still hard, but less intensely so.
I think I will have a period of grieving after my son goes as well, and that’s ok. As we know, the only constant in life is change. Everything is always and ever changing. And back to kindness, I will do the soft, gentle kind things for myself. And I will also encourage myself not to wallow in sadness, but to be grateful for all the years I had with both of my kids and for what beautiful young people they are. I will encourage myself to still practice meditation and yoga, to still move my body, to still eat the carrot salad, the kale, the right amount of protein for me. To dance, sing, laugh, and create. To drink tea and wine, tend my garden, to read and write and celebrate life in all its complex, bittersweet, glorious moments. I will be kind to myself.
What is the most recent you’ve said you don’t have time for? Is it a daily exercise/movement routine, yoga/meditation/prayer, cooking nutritious food, walking outside four walls, learning a new skill, or re-engaging with a hobby or interest?
I’ve said this phrase to myself or others in the past, but these days I use the phrases “I’m not making time for” or “I choose to spend time doing other things”. Because that’s the truth. All of us have time; what we choose to do with it is up to us. (There are some exceptions with amounts of free time based on privilege, of course, and the some of the underprivileged among us actually have little to no free time.)
I’m coming clean: there are three interests that I’ve not consistently made time for in the past few years: painting, music (practicing piano & guitar & songwriting), and writing (journaling, blogging, writing poetry and working on my memoir). In my heart and mind I see myself practicing, writing & creating new music, painting something good enough to hang on my wall, and writing a memoir and poetry collection.
All of those are activities I enjoy and desire to do, yet I don’t make time for them. Why? The first reason that pops into my mind is that it takes a lot of energy and focus to sit down and create and the end result will often not be good enough to turn into a finished product. Key words: end result.
There will be plenty of material that I create that will be just part of the creation and learning process — basically only for the experience itself. And that’s where my capitalistic mindset has me. If it’s not good enough to create a product and sell/sing/play/show it then what was the point? Time is money. I’ve heard this over and over. And all that time will be wasted “playing” rather than working.
And I do dance in the kitchen out of joy or to let out frustration, but when I think about it, I can find production or habit stacking within dance. I don’t consider dancing a waste of time because my body is getting some movement in and burning calories. Another line of thinking that has been passed down to me, so built-in it’s automatically how I think.
That’s why a daily physical yoga practice can be a fight in my mind sometimes too. How can I spend 30–60 minutes on movement that doesn’t result in several hundred calories burned ? Because unless it’s hot yoga or Ashtanga, it’s not a high calorie burner for me anyway. So then I still have to get my workout in.
And I’m not a naturally physically active person. I’m the stuck-in-my-head type who’s always thinking, dreaming, reading, etc. I often only work out because, firstly, I’m concerned about my appearance and only secondly, about my health. (More built-in patriarchal and capitalistic thinking. Ugh.)
And it takes mental and emotional energy to override these patterns of how we see ourselves and the world and do something different. To say:
This is not the only way of living life.
I can choose another perspective.
I can do something just for the experience of doing it. There are other benefits outside of production, work, attempting to make my body fit the cultural ideal, or any other unhealthy pressure that has been foisted on me.
I can choose to tend to my mental health.
I can choose to feed my spiritual hunger.
I can strum a guitar or practice piano simply because I enjoy it.
I can sit with a cup of tea and even a piece of something delicious because I crave rest and delight and space to simply be.
I can laugh and dance, talk to the plants, enjoy living.
I will always make time for work because I love it and because I live in this economic system and it’s necessary. I can also choose to make time for wonder, for awe, for rest, for play, for silliness, for being myself. I can take an honest look at how I spend the hours of my days and choose a kinder, slower, more intentional way of living.
I’m starting a monthly post on what themes came up for me during the previous month. Some bloggers write about “What I Learned in (insert month)” and that can make for fascinating reading. Maybe I’m a bit slower than most bloggers because I usually don’t learn lessons that quickly. It takes me some time for me to have a real “aha” moment and discover some deep truth about myself.
For now, I’m going to share all the random, and perhaps not so random, quotes, words, numbers, symbols, animals, etc., that keep showing themselves to me in a month. Sometimes these will carry over from month to month as in the case of the word “luminous” that has been following me around since January 2022 when I began looking for it once a day. And now I can’t stop seeing it!
Ok, so for April…
Luminous continues to be a familiar. Lightness of being. Illumination. Luminosity. And for May’s Kindred Spirits Literary Society poetry pick, I’m recommending the poetry collection Luminous: Poems and Inquiry for the Soul’s Journey by Laura Weaver. I have more discovery and inner work to be done before I experience a luminous quality within me. And the work can’t be rushed. It will unfold as I am ready.
11:11 was an almost daily sighting. 1 is considered a number of new beginnings. And April was certainly that! It was my first month working for myself after leaving the non-profit I’ve worked at since 2/20. So when I started seeing this number every day, I took it as a sign that I am on the right path. And that is one of its messages: “You’re on the right path,”. It’s a big green light. It signifies creativity, spirituality, and intuition, and manifestation.
Sadhguru says that 11 represents anything in the material world. So knowing that and by seeing this number everywhere, the message seems to be that my business is and will continue to be successful and that I made the right choice to focus my energy on growing my business.
Softness was a word that began to crop up toward the end of April. After a New Moon meditation with Camille Maurine I did have a moment of revelation. I saw how I hadn’t welcomed myself, or provided a soft and safe place for all of myself, for much of my life. It was like each time I came home to myself, I would judge myself in the entryway and decide if I should be put in the “Too Much” or “Not Enough” or “Bad” or “Disappointing” rooms. And I have a choice now to welcome myself in without criticism or a good/bad measuring stick, only with love and acceptance. This will likely take some repeating to sink in and I’m committed to it.
Sparrow at our kitchen windows. For weeks, we’ve had a sparrow pecking at and looking in our kitchen windows, which currently don’t have screens on them. I assume this sparrow is looking at his or her reflection, but it seems as if they’re looking in at us. It struck me last week that perhaps our sparrow symbolized something. Here are a few things sparrows symbolize: In ancient Celtic tradition, sparrows were keepers of ancestral knowledge; they symbolize freedom, hard work, good luck, rebirth, love, spiritual connection, in Chinese culture sparrows are harbingers of spring, and in the Bible, the presence of God and the love and care of God for everything.
“Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul…” This is from, again, Walt Whitman and can be found in his preface to ‘Leaves of Grass‘. Maybe this is a sign that I am supposed to read ‘Leaves of Grass‘ again? I haven’t read it since I was in high school and I would read it from such a different perspective at this place in my life. Over the course of the month, I heard it in Yoga Teacher Training, in a book on Permaculture, and in another book I’m reading. Maybe it’s time for me to let some stuff go? Things I believed true for most of my life and now am finding I can’t honestly embrace any longer.
Prayers of Honoring Grief by Pixie Lighthorse is a collection of sensitive and heartful prayers, reflection questions, and suggestions for processing grief with the aid of the four directions. If you’re in a season of grief or know someone who is, this would make a beautiful gift.
Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Book #2) by Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorites of the earlier books in the series. There are several intriguing cases for Mma Ramotswe to solve, and things to put right. And she always does. As always, if you haven’t given this series a try yet, please do!
Rachelle Kearns is a favorite artist of mine. I share her work from time to time. She paints all those circles–do you know who I mean? Anyway, she has a new print in the Mercyscape series called ‘Mercyscape’ – from dust that is so magical and glorious I can’t stop thinking about it.
If you are restless, if you are not able to sit peacefully and with stability, it is because you are not established in the now. Restlessness is the disease of our times, and the more we try to fill it with the consumption of things…the more the emptiness grows and the more restless we beome. We should remind each other that the now is the only thing that is solid and real. – Thich Nhat Hanh
The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our lives and our relationships. –T.K.V. Desikachar
Ok that’s a wrap! Let me know what you thought of this week’s inspo and have a great weekend. If you want the complete Friday Favorites list, join my Patreon “At the Well” tier.
This week I have a recipe, music, art, podcasts, books, aromatherapy, and a quote to share with you as inspiration. Enjoy!!!
My husband makes this meal at least twice a month: Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry. Delicious crispy tofu and green beans in a spicy, flavorful sauce over rice. It’s so so good!!
Starling Arrow is a five-woman acapella, spirit-folk group and their music is full of ethereal harmonies and lyrics, yet gutsy and powerful as well. I don’t like sad music and even though several songs are quieter and peaceful, there isn’t a real melancholic feel that makes me want to sob. You have to listen to them if you haven’t already. Cradle is their latest release and I’ve listened to it for three days straight and wish they were coming to Ithaca!
Business Made Simple with Donald Miller: The Secrets to Self-Discipline and Habit Formation In this episode, Don has a conversation with Craig Groeschel about discipline and habits. One thing Craig said that stood out to me is that we are disciplined in something, even if we often say to ourselves, “I wish I had more discipline.” We can be disciplined at the wrong things, such as sleeping in each morning instead of getting up and working out, or eating too many snacks each night, or whatever. We just need to direct that power to choose something over and over into an area of life we need it in.
The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith on Audible. Are you familiar with this mystery series? It’s a comforting collection to me that I listen to over and over. The earlier half of the series are the ones I like best. In this one, Mma Makutsi starts a new business and Mma Ramotswe solves a case of a cheating husband. All the regular characters, Mr. JLB Matakoni, Mma Potakwani, and the useless apprentices make appearances. It’s a feel-good series that I highly recommend.
Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths. This was the third Harbinder Kaur mystery novel I’ve read and it was pretty good. If you like her character, a lesbian of Indian descent, and a Sikh, you’ll enjoy seeing what happens to her next. I’m not giving anything away by saying she is now working in London. It’s not as much a favorite as some other detective series, but it’s worth continuing with if you like British mysteries.
Delicata House WomanKind Blend: This is my own blend of Clary Sage, Patchouli, Lavender, and Cardamom. I use it for pms/period related symptoms like feeling irritable, down, tired, or stressed. And I also use it when I want some extra nurturing. It’s a gorgeous floral, spicy, sensual, herbaceous blend and one of my hands-down favorite blends.
Delicata House New Moon Blend: Another one of my own blends that I used to bring in some magic for this week’s New Moon Gathering on Zoom. (I hope you come to next month’s 5/18 zoom New Moon Gathering!) Anyway this blend contains White Spruce, Lavender, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Frankincense Sacra, four potent and powerful essential oils. It is all at once heady and expansive, clarifying and grounding. Get ready to plant seeds of intention with the new moon…or use it anytime you want to start or re-start. Diffuse this blend for new beginnings of any kind or for spiritual practices or rituals.
(I’m not going to add anything to these words. Just let them soak into you.)
To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. – Victor Hugo
I hope you find some good inspiration and pass it on!
If you’d like to find out my complete Friday Favorites list, join my Patreon at the Kindred Spirits Literary Society tier or higher. That’s where I share it all.
On Fridays, I like to look back over the week at what inspired, encouraged or challenged me. My favorites can be podcasts, books, music, tv shows/films, art, quotes, Nature, or experiences. Enjoy!
Motivation by Brendon Burchard:
5 Daily Practices of All Leaders If you consider yourself a leader, here are the tips for how to keep yourself at your best, with your cup filled so you can encourage and serve your community.
For the Wild: An Anthology of the Anthropocene:
Rosemary Gladstar on Thriving While Planted Anything with Rosemary Gladstar in it is sure to be uplifting and connect us to the plants. Rosemary is considered the godmother of modern Western herbalism. She has a practical, wise outlook on life and about interacting and working with plants. What she says in this episode about the healing plants that move in after land has been disturbed is magical. I never thought about them quite that way. If you’re interested in herbalism, you will enjoy this episode.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a novel that stands apart from so many. Set in the mid-1950s-1960s, it’s about chemist and mother, Elizabeth Zott. She is a singular character–very straightforward, smart, and in love with chemistry. After she fails to get her PhD because of the misogynistic men in the chemistry department, she finds work at a local chemistry lab. There she meets Calvin, a savant who, since he’s a man, has no problem advancing his career. They meet and fall in love.
Fast forward several years to when Elizabeth is now a mother, a freelance chemist, and desperate for more income. She unexpectedly lands a job as host of Supper at Six, an afternoon tv cooking show for women. Using all her chemistry terminology as she cooks, and connecting it with life lessons, Elizabeth soon has a cult following of women all over the country. She’s famous, but she doesn’t want to be. She still wants to be a chemist. You have to read it to find out how it ends!
Whitstable Pearl, Series 2: I love how different and unexpected parts of life will interconnect, how themes will come up once you begin to put attention on something. I’ve been reading Katherine May’s new book Enchantment, and was enamored with her description of Whitstable, the English town where she lives, especially the sea where she likes to swim.
Then I saw that season 2 of Whitstable Pearl was available and dove right in. Being able to see the beach and scenes in the town was fascinating and helped me to appreciate Katherine May’s writing even more. I also enjoyed the mysteries in this series for themselves, which were not all murders. And one of the episodes is a take on the Hitchcock classic Rear Window and I was captivated. It does deal with the grief and loss and in a realistic, poignant way that anyone dealing with loss will understand.
Side note: I have a few Whitstable Pearl books on my Kindle that I haven’t read yet, so they are moving up on my TBR list.
To me, love isn't the opposite of hate.
It's the opposite of fear.
Maybe we can burn away fear
using love as the flame.
Maybe we can consciously hold that burn
any time fear attempts to return.
Maybe we can become
the very fire itself.
In April the ponds open like black blossoms, the moon swims in every one; there’s fire everywhere: frogs shouting their desire, their satisfaction. What we know: that time chops at us all like an iron hoe, that death is a state of paralysis. What we long for: joy before death, nights in the swale – everything else can wait but not this thrust from the root of the body. What we know: we are more than blood – we are more than our hunger and yet we belong to the moon and when the ponds open, when the burning begins the most thoughtful among us dreams of hurrying down into the black petals into the fire, into the night where time lies shattered into the body of another.
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.
by Annie Lighthart
Some evening, almost accidentally, you might yet understand
that you belong, are meant to be, are sheltered---
still foolish, but looking out the door with a contented heart.
This is what the king wants and the old man and woman
and even the busy young if you knew, and you have it
by no grace of your own, standing in the doorway
with loose empty hands. Now your heart lights your mind,
a little lantern bobbing within you,
giving out not thought or feeling but confluence,
something else. On what do you pour out this light?
The wet street is empty, one wren in the yard. Let us
redefine love and wreckage, time and weeds.
Pour out your lantern light on the grass, on the bird,
great and small worlds. Don't go inside for a long, long time.
You can find this poem in Pax by Annie Lighthart.