If the last two years have taught me anything, it’s that God is listening . . . “intently” (anyone recognize that Pirates of the Caribbean reference?).
My year of restoration also turned into my year of nonfiction. If you had asked me two years ago about nonfiction I would have responded, “boring, historical fiction is the jam!” I am particularly a fan of all things Philippa Gregory. I recommend starting with her Tudor series, chiefly The Other Boleyn Girl. But as much as I love the balance of a little bit of history with a little bit of intrigue and a splash of drama, those works were not going to provide the level of restoration nor transformation that I was pursuing. That I was requiring.
While on Spring Break with my two best beach buddies, we found ourselves one morning on a mission at the local Books-a-Million. Just three weeks post D & C, I was still feeling the emotional and physical ramifications of my fourteen week pregnancy. In girl talk, I was puffy. I went straight to the health and wellness section looking for some plant-based remedies. Two coworkers had transitioned into a full plant based diet and were feeling noticeable differences, which we all could noticeably see. My interests were piqued. I bought two books along with a collection of works by C. S. Lewis. Not typical beach reads: Plant Strong, The China Study, and The Screw Tape Letters.
But those three books, which I quickly devoured in less than five days, spurred on a ravenous appetite for knowledge, answers, and inspiration. At year’s end I had consumed dozens of nonfiction works and just one fiction: the highly anticipated script, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (I mean, come on! How could I not?!).
My sister-in-law, who possesses such natural insight and foresight, mailed me a food memoir as a birthday treat come early May. I had never heard of this genre but was quickly captivated by the title, Bread & Wine, two of my favorites right there on the cover. The author, Shauna Niequist, was unfamiliar but I quickly dove in those short anecdotal chapters that each concluded with one of her favorite family tested recipes.
It wasn’t just Shauna’s love of cooking or the way she constructed language that drew me in. It was her voice. That eloquent but raw, vulnerable voice that invited readers to jump right into her messy kitchen, pull a chair up, and breath in the deep aromas of home cooked life.
Bread & Wine made me want to write and cook. Write and make grocery lists. Write and mince garlic, splash olive oil, and bake bread. But that’s not why my sister-in-law mailed it to me. Shauna bravely writes about infertility and pregnancy, grief and loss, body image and acceptance, multitasking and being present, fasting and feast. Her voice was my voice. It was as if she was spilling truth straight from my soul onto the page. Intertwined among the vignettes of her life were little golden nuggets of such precise wisdom that I gobbled them up as much as I did her Blueberry Crisp.
“These are things I can't change. Not one of them. Can't fix, can't heal, can't put the broken pieces back together. But what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present; to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That's all any of us can do.” (Bread & Wine)
Within a week I was on Amazon ordering Shauna’s newest book, Present Over Perfect (STOP everything you are doing and order it now! Done? Ok, you may continue).
Thanks to Amazon’s little recommend feature, I was introduced to another anecdotal book by a quirky, non-traditional lawyer with a big smile (go follow him and “Sweet Maria” on Instagram for proof) and even bigger adventures. Bob Goff’s work Love Does dives right in the heart of what love does; it serves, it acts, it works.
Bob also unknowingly introduced me to my theme word for 2017 (drum roll, please) . . . whimsy ( I know, anticlimactic, blog title gave it away).
Bob writes, “Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That's what I want my life to be all about - full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.” (Love Does)
I loved that word so much. It immediately struck me as something I lacked. Never has an over anxious, checklist driven, control freak been called whimsical. I tucked that word away in my heart and continued reading. I came across this word again in Present Over Perfect a few months later. And then again, a month after that when reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst.
Both of these women had been influenced by Bob Goff. Both of these women knew Bob Goff (insert Will Ferrell as Elf, “I know him!”). Both of these women had been invited to his lake house and in a whim jumped off his dock, with water splashing and washing over them, emerging with a new focus on humor, play, and being fully present.
That’s it. I want to live a life of whimsy! Even Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) affirms, “What’s life without whimsy?”
But here’s the hard part. What is a year of whimsy going to look like? Well, for starters, I’m going to have to control less. Love more. Hope more. Be engaged. Be brave. And be present.
Whimsy is going to require focus. Whimsy is going to require energy. Whimsy is going to require nerve.
Want to follow along? Good! Because like they say, “the more the whimsier!” (Ok, they might not say that, but now they will).
Before we continue on this whimsical adventure together, here is my (hopefully) complete list of reads from 2016. (I say hopefully because I have given away and mailed off so many great books last year that I have lost count. If I’ve given you one that’s not on this list then feel free to add it in the comments below).
Maybe in reading order . . .
I’ll see you back next week for a lot more words and a little more whimsy.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation