Summer So Far: EDIT Podcast, 7 Books Worth Reading + Some ADR Truth
I haven't written here in a while. I'm not sure why. No, that's not true. I do know why, but it's more that the why is complex, layered. Yes, I've been busy in the way that we've all been busy. Busy with Life Stuff that looks different for each of us, but has a similar, identifiable essence. Life Stuff like end-of-school-year stuff for the girls, planning the summer for them, dealing (or trying to deal with) the ants that have invaded our pantry (ugh), the leaky air-conditioner (ugh), etc, etc. You know, the stuff, some really interesting and some really annoying but all plain necessary, that comes with being alive in this world.
Then there was an amazing, time-out-of-time trip to the Northern Wisconsin with Mom and my family, to a fishing club Dad went to as a kid, that I went to as a kid. The girls were in heaven there and my oldest caught her first five fish! She's hooked :) And the sunset on our first night? Epic.
Then there's the bigger stuff. Stuff like going to chemo with Mom. She's doing very well and I have come to cherish our Tuesdays at Sloan. Like truly cherish, not just say I cherish because I'm trying to make the best of something not-so-fun. Take last week. We sat there, in her little treatment suite, and we talked and talked. About life, about love, about marriage and family. We laughed a lot and there were pockets of silence too. And then when she was done and disconnected from all the drips, I joked that we should go shopping, that we deserved it! This was joke, but guess what we did? We went shopping, guys. We went to Barney's and tried on lots of fun summer clothes, modeling them for each other. It turned out to be a magical, memorable mama-daughter day.
I'm, well, kind of obsessed with #thedrylife.
Then there's the not-drinking stuff, which I tend to play down and minimize here probably because I'm fearful and don't want to seem preachy, but which has become VERY important to me, particularly in the last few months. Right before the new year, I started an Instagram feed to document my adventures in dry living and to connect with others who are dry or dry-curious. This little group has grown to include, as of this writing, 2,400+ people. This floors me. And excites me. Reminds me that I am far from alone in my curiosity, in my commitment.
Just this week, I launched a brand-new venture: EDIT Podcast: Editing Our Drinking and Our Lives with Jolene Park, a nutritionist and health coach in Denver, Colorado. We've been recording and working behind the scenes for many months now, but put out our first six episodes just a few days ago and whoa. The response has been nothing short of humbling. We have received so many letters and notes from people thanking us for having this conversation about the often incredibly lonely and under-explored gray area of drinking. And you know what? I feel nothing but good about having this conversation and putting it out there because, you guys, that was ME. Many years ago, there were so many mornings when I'd wake up hungover and sad and I'd pry open the laptop and try to find something, anything to tell me that I was not alone in my struggle. The fact that Jolene and I are creating something that might be found by those who need it most brings tears to my eyes. The best kind of tears. This is meaningful stuff; I know it.
It shall be a summer of BOOKS!
I've been working on a new novel. A book I'm very excited about. The other night I was supposed to go out with girlfriends. The plan was to meet for cocktails/mocktails on a rooftop and I was planning to go, but then I got sucked into my fictional world and I couldn't tear myself away. A good, good sign. My challenge, my ongoing challenge though: to focus on writing the book I want to write and not the book I think I should (oh, terrible word) write or that the ever-elusive market (another ick-mot) wants me to write.
I've been reading up a promiscuous STORM since the girls finished school. I cannot properly articulate how happy this has made me. To date, I've devoured seven books (see my fab stack above), a true hodgepodge of fiction and non-fiction. I loved some of these books (listed in the order I've read them) more than others, but each is worth reading:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. A powerful, profanity-laden ode to, well, the subtle art of not giving a FUCK. Manson's voice is no-nonsense electric and he implores us to focus in on what matters to us and to forget the rest. His personal story of loss at the book's end was poetic and chill-inducing and when I flipped the final page, I felt awake and liberated. One I will reread and recommend widely.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. A creepy, ultimately well-wrought lake-centric tale. I sometimes had a hard time keeping the living and dead characters straight, but could not put this book down. A powerful look at sisterhood and the importance of place, this was a twisty, satisfying read.
People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder. A fun, smart, snarky, ultimately touching window into the lives and minds in a dysfunctional family. This book did not attempt to be profound in any shape or form and I found this absolutely, deliciously refreshing. And who doesn't love a book about a wedding?
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro. Swoon. First of all, I'm obsessed with the cover of this book. But what's inside matches the winning yellow cover. A whimsical, beautifully-plotted story about the summer of 1992 on the fictional Avalon Island. The characters are interesting and sharply-drawn and there's plenty of suspense, too, and I love the information about, and symbolism of, the gypsy moths woven throughout. I keep thinking about the ending.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Picked this one up at the airport during a flight delay when I was fresh out of books and it didn't disappoint. Deliciously spooky and I loved the conceit: A woman is invited to a bachelorette party in a glass house in the woods, but she hasn't seen or spoken to the bride in ten years.
Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. Oh did I adore this book about books and the power of books. Will writes with humility and insight about how vital books have been in his life, how they have taught him often surprising things about himself and the world. He laces well-chosen stories from his own life with thoughtful analysis of many of the books that have affected him, many of which I will now add to my own list! If you are a fellow bookworm, you MUST read this.
Material Girl, Mystical World by Ruby Warrington. What a strange, kind of amazing, hot-pink book. Ruby is a former British fashion editor and founder of the Numinous and in this book, she lets us all in on the "high-vibe" life she now leads. There are chapters on astrology, tarot, shamanism and of particular interest to me, living life without substances. I'm not going to lie: this book, and Ruby's smart but chatty voice, captivated me and I may just go off to find my astrology chart.
So, lots of stuff going on here. Lots of books and snuggle time with my summer girls and a fair bit of losing myself on the page, which is always brilliant. Lots of thoughts and conversations about the Dry Life. Anyway... I wanted to check in and say hey, that I hope you are all well, embarking upon good summers of your own. I also wanted to say that if life is tough or uncertain right now, I hope that you are hanging in there and finding pockets of joy. This is proving to be a time of more light than dark for me, and for that I'm grateful, but I have not lost track of the fact that there have been seasons and summers of darkness for me, because there have been. And I've made it through them and I learned something along the way, a lot of somethings actually. And I just want to say that I'm sending love to all of you.
And I'll leave you guys with a quote I shared on my Drybe Instagram yesterday. It's a Rumi quote that I've long loved. It goes like this: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." I am going to spend some time this summer thinking about the idea of barriers to love and how to remove them (alcohol was a biggie for me, but I know there are others. Um, hey, social media.) Anyone want to brainstorm with me?
Okay, signing off to dance in my kitchen with my middle daughter. She's the only one awake and she's hovering behind me in her beloved ripped-at-the-knee-and-way-too-small leopard pajamas. Oh, wait. My littlest is coming down the stairs, too. We will forage for breakfast and slowly begin this summer day. Oh, wow. Now my big girl is here too. The four of us Rowley girls. Off to enjoy them, this bright summer day.