Last night I finished Christian Wiman’s latest book, He Held Radical Light: the Art of Faith, the Faith of Art. It’s a thoughtful, deep, intellectually stimulating book that, in some ways, reminded me of the works I used to read in a writing theory and ethics course, the kind where you don’t understand every single thing but you get the thesis of the piece, and that’s usually enough.

The book is about what do we want when we can’t stop wanting? It’s a mix of theology around art, Wiman’s memories of conversations he’s had with profound writers, and plenty of poetry to back it all up. I loved it.

Wiman’s work always seems to have such a depth and urgency to it, which is due in large part to his living with incurable blood cancer. I happened to be reading his story about meeting Mary Oliver just as I was learning of her death (Mary passed away on my birthday, just 11 days ago). It was exceptionally striking to read this poem of hers in the Wiman’s book just after she passed from life into life:

White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field by Mary Oliver

Coming down out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel, or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful, and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings—five feet apart—
and the grabbing thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys of the snow—
and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes
to lurk there, like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows—
so I thought:
maybe death isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light wrapping itself around us—
as soft as feathers—
that we are instantly weary of looking, and looking,
and shut our eyes, not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light—scalding, aortal light—
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.


A Home for Stories

Yesterday, I watched the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie, and I felt so empowered and inspired and goosebumpy with dreams of equality and justice.

Today I couldn’t get out of bed.

My coworkers are the best and they were able to step in for me at work, but the guilt is still real. Days like today often bring on lots of shame for me, enough shame to drown in– or at least to tread till I’m exhausted.

But today I just said to my body, “What do you need from me? I’m listening.”

“A hot shower, a healthy meal, a blanket and a story, Prozac and prayer,” it replied. “And a space to write about how I’m feeling.” Hence, this blog post.

How am I feeling? Stupid. Lonely. Ambitious. Tired. Creative. Eager. Upset. Grateful. Committed. Overwhelmed.

My head and shoulders hurt. My heart feels a little numb– no, not numb; it is still tender, but it feels like it has a little armor around it, a hard crust. There’s a part of me that feels grateful for the protection, but I know-know-know that armor is not actually a good thing, so I will chat it out with my therapist.

I have so many ideas that sometimes I feel like I will burst. Like they will come crawling out from under my skin. It’s uncomfortable.

But I’m grateful for it still. I want to be a home of endless stories.

I just need to let some out. I need to write.

It’s coming.

Sunday Snapshot

wimanReading: He Held Radical Light: the Art of Faith, the Faith of Art by Christian Wiman

Listening: old school Relient K. On blast.

Motivated: to clean and organize and write

Considering: the voices in my novel

Ignoring: online dating

marcjacobsGrateful: to everyone who made my birthday so special, and especially to Ashley for everything and for the palette I’ve been eyeing for months!

Learning: to not preempt a name pronunciation with an apology, but instead to make a true attempt first!

Missing: the One Who Got Away

Annoyed: to be missing the One Who Got Away

Deserving: more than to be missing the One Who Got Away


37 Lessons

371. Humility and vulnerability are key to leadership.

2. On this green earth, I will always be a work in progress.

3. There are so many more shades of gray than I ever imagined.

4. Grace, grace, grace: be generous with it, both for myself and for others.

5. Love is messy.

6. Carefully choose which hills are worth dying on.

7. Quit pretending like you don’t have issues and start working through them.

8. Everyone has issues.

9. I am good company, on my own.

10. “‘No’ is a complete sentence.” (Anne Lamott)

11. Boundaries are amazing.

12. Get a great mattress.

13. Required reading: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

14. Create a list of your guiding principles; refer to this often. I keep mine posted in my office and perpetually ask myself how I am exhibiting the four characters I’ve named most important in my life: grace, creativity, humility, faithfulness.

15. Invest in health.

16. Treat yo’ self.

17. You will absolutely not win the contests you don’t enter. Enter, ask, risk.

18. Freedom begets freedom.

19. Cultivate your own intuition. Compassionately push to hear more when you believe there is more to be heard.

20. Love things with incredible passion, especially the things others think are weird. My dad cries when he watches Triple Crown winner Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes race, and I love him wildly for this.

21. Kitten videos on Instagram are their own type of medicine.

22. Vitamin D and fish oil. Start now.

23. Find songs that make you cry and let them leech pain out of you.

24. Ask for what you need. I have had friends come over to sit with me while I read hard emails or open intimidating mail. This was small for them and huge for me.

25. Do things that make your own story more meaningful. (Required reading: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)

26. Vote. If you are a Christian, let the gospel guide your vote, not a party allegiance.

27. The body remembers trauma. Be kind.

28. Makeup can be battle paint; use it however you need.

29. Be careful with armor.

30. Compliments and encouragement cost nothing– give them out generously.

31. Take all measures to work through and eliminate shame.

32. Shitty first drafts and short assignments. (Required reading; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott)

33. Quit saying “fat.”

34. Naps can be holy. (Shout-out to Judith Hougen!)

35. Required reading: everything by Melina Marchetta.

36. Be intentional with people. Who in your life means so much that you will put in the extra effort?

37. Listen and learn.



I am 36, Going on 37 …


On the cusp of turning 37, these are my thoughts:

I have the loveliest friends, two amazing jobs that both are so meaningful, an incredible family that supports my goals and dreams, and a heart full of stories. This last year, I let the stories seep, then simmer, and now they are coming to a boil.

This website– Things Made Thinkable— says we do our best work in innovation at age 37, our best work in literature at age 45. I really, really want to feast on creativity this year.

The Place on Dalhousie


Melina Marchetta

First things first, Happy New Year!

Here are answers to frequently asked questions.

Release date of The Place on Dalhousie is 1st of April.

In Australian, it can be purchased at most bookstores and online.  There’ll also be an audio book coming out on the same day.

If you live outside Australia, you can pre-order the novel from The Book Depository.

Below I have extracts.  Don’t ask me to chose which of the three characters I love best, because I have equal love for all.


On the way home, her phone beeps a message and her heart leaps for an instant and it’s how she knows. It’s a Pavlov’s dog thing. The only person who texts her is SES Jesus so the instant euphoria at the sound of the buzz spells trouble. He’s texted her once or twice during the week. Wants to know how Toto’s doing, so…

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Battery Means Two Things


I want to shake things up, change the world, write stories that move hearts. But I also want naps.

I’ve survived a civil war with my own mind; now I engage in one with my body. Winning and losing have lost their definitions.

I’m thinking about so many things today: bioethics, Salt Novel, choices and death, the drivers behind attraction, myofascial massage, story structure, online dating, the writing workshop I am teaching in two weeks for which I am not sure I have enough to say.

I just want to curl up in strong arms that feel like a battery charging station, even if that’s not really how love works.

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OCD Poem

A few years ago, I made a phone call that changed my life.

Her name is Megan, and she is the most beautiful soul. She was a senior in high school, and I was calling her with a question about her application to my university. As we talked– quite vulnerably for two people in their first conversation– I felt like I was talking to my senior-year self.

I heard OCD in her words and between her words.

I said, “Megan, can I tell you a little about me?” and I shared about my own experiences with OCD. I remember her voice saying, “That … sounds like me.”

At the end of the conversation, I said, “Now, the second we hang up, you are probably going to second-guess everything you said and worry that you misled me. Don’t. You didn’t.”

She said, in a voice of awe– the kind you get when you know someone really sees you– “I was already starting to go there. You really do get it!”

“I really do!” I said.

aditya-saxena-410663-unsplashWe had such a great talk that night, the first of many great talks. Megan now goes the university where I work, and it’s my joy to watch her thrive in her majors and on the theatre stage, to see her with her friends, see her growth as the most lovely young lady.

Everything about Megan is delightful. And it is tremendously meaningful for me to have the conversations with her that I so desperately needed someone to have with me as a college student. Psychoanalyze that all you want. 🙂 My past self is healing through my friendship with this girl. I really adore her.

All that to say, she wrote this poem, and I wanted to share it with you!


It’s called OCD, an enemy,
With a gamut of tricks leading to slavery.
I just want someone to rescue me.
But there’s the catch,
Before I’m free I just have to fetch,
Or tell my mom, or say sorry to them,
Then I can kiss OCD goodbye again.
So I feel good and life is nice,
Until I trip, meet another vice,
Do another wrong or think something appalling,
OCD grabs tight to make me start stalling.
Cause the longer I wait, the more I engage,
The tighter he grips, the fiercer his rage.
Life in a corner is life in a cage,
Give in to OCD, live on his stage,
His wage, that never pays
But makes promises every day.
No one gets it, it’s all inside,
But it spills out ’cause he hates to hide.
But he loves the shadows where no one understands,
Where a girl is fighting him with trembling hands.
No part of life is completely free,
When controlled by OCD.
It’s not the funny quirk you think,
It’s not how many times you wash in the sink.
It’s deep and real and crafty and mean
It makes reality not what it seems.
It twists, distorts and sucks all life,
To present as an OCD sacrifice.
Never satiated, never appeased,
Never leaving a victim in peace.

she stops fighting, stops listening,
Never meets the eyes wickedly glistening,
Refuses to obey, stops cowering to his will,
Though at first it hurts, she works still.
And every fight she doesn’t pick,
With the enemy and his crafty tricks,
The weaker he grows, the less he attacks,
The more his shadow retreats back.

For those who are longing to be free,
Don’t play the game with OCD.
He wants you blinded never to see,
He wants nothing good for you or me.
Don’t play his game, don’t answer his jokes,
And soon his wagon will lose its spokes.
And you’ll be free from OCD.
No longer under bondage in slavery.