Monday, January 22, 2024

Quotes that Resonate this January

"A commonplace book is a highly personal anthology,
and part of the joy in creating one is that it gives a
deeper sense of self: by selecting fragments of language
that speak to you, you become more aware of your
own taste, beliefs and judgement."
MIRANDA MILLS, YouTube vlogger

Posted here are a few lines that I have gathered into my journal these beginning days of January. Each quote for me has meaning and brings a little something to the table while I dreamily mull what 2024 might look like—what I wishfully hope for in real life as the days unfold.

Perhaps you will find words that resonate with your own soul as you start a new week. I hope so.

December 29th
(As a writer I want to bring these words with me into the New Year)
"Because right now, there is someone
out there with a wound in the exact
shape of your words."

January 1st
"What a wonderful thought it is
that some of the best days of our
lives haven't even happened yet."

"Make something you
can give away."

January 2nd
"I'm getting better, happier, and
nicer as I grow older. So I would
be terrific in a couple hundred years."

January 3rd
"Because even with the dark parts and
the light parts and the good parts and the
bad parts, dinner must still be served."
PATTI CALLAHAN, Once Upon A Wardrobe, p. 102

January 4th
The word 'restoration' has been singing in my heart of late.
As I ponder what I yearn for in my life words begin to flow;
I write them down:
Restored health for my body,
Restored joy in my writing,
Renewed hope in God's goodness,
Hope and healing for our world,
My dreams and purpose restored,
A restoration of true hospitality with ease and grace,
Order, simplicity, and beauty in my home.
My own thoughts

January 5th
"(The) world remains 'bent' and smudged by generations
of the sins of humanity, but it is, deep down, still fresh
and radiant with the unquenchable glory of God, made
manifest to those with the eyes to see."
JANET MORLEY, Haphazard by Starlight, p. 142

January 7th
"But there always have been and always
will be people who are . . . starved for
nourishment. I am one of those readers and I am
also one who can occasionally provide this food.
That is all that really matters to me this morning."
MAY SARTON, Journal of a Solitude, p. 68

January 10th
"Always be on the lookout
for the presence of wonder."

"It is no bad thing to
celebrate a simple life."

January 12th
"Let go of old and tired things."
As seen on Instagram

January 15th
"Because you see so much
to make you sad, that doesn't mean
it is your duty to be unhappy."
HELEN MACINNES, While Still We Live, p. 228

January 19th
"I'm beginning to suspect that the second half
of life is about learning to let go of everything
I feverishly collected over the first half that
wasn't loving or human."

"If a book is well written,
I always find it too short."

January 20th
"Snow had fallen, snow on snow."

January 22nd
"I scribble my list of promises.
The ways I hope to be kind.
To be gentle. To forgive.
To try and try again."
BARBARA MAHANY, The Stillness of Winter

"It was her habit to build laughter
out of inadequate materials."
JOHN STEINBECK, Grapes of Wrath

Wishing you dear friends a beautiful week,

Photo Credit:
Image by Nennieinszweidrei from Pixabay

Saturday, January 13, 2024

A Literary Hero (Part 1): Lucy Maud Montgomery

"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.
"I don't exactly want to make people KNOW more... though I
know that IS the noblest ambition... but I'd love to make them
have a pleasanter time because of me... to have some little joy or
happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born."
L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

Recently I attended an online Afternoon Tea event with Hayley Solano at The Enchanted Book Club and author-artist Susan Branch. Their discussion was about literary heroes, in which Susan shared the book people who were her inspiration over her lifetime, people like Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Gladys Taber, and characters like Pollyanna who gave the world her glad game idea.

At the top of my list would be Lucy Maud Montgomery. For so many girls in my generation, it was almost a right of passage to be introduced to Ms Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I remember the thrill of learning that both Anne and her creator were Canadian. Just like me. And I grabbed hold of that beloved phrase 'kindred spirits'. Even at an early age, I longed for that special kinship, and I recognized that it could happen even with someone found in a book. They were, after all, real people. In my formative years, it was the storybook heroines like Anne and Emily who captured my imagination. Later it was Lucy Maud herself who became my inspiration as I began to make my way in life, trying to figure out how to live a beautiful life. I loved learning that Lucy Maud and I shared interests in things domestic, gardens, kitty cats, beauty in nature, and books. I think she gave me permission to allow myself to take pleasure in the beauty of the world around me, that it was okay to enjoy what I loved doing, to know myself better and like who I was. I appreciated knowing that Lucy Maud loved solitude but also truly enjoyed the society of others. I felt a kinship in that. Both her novels and later her published journals drew me into her world, a world that even helped me understand a little of my grandma's era who was born in the mid-1890s. I could picture things in my mind by her descriptions.

Eventually I found myself wanting to emulate Lucy Maud: I developed my letter writing skills; I took a more active interest in reading poetry and trying my hand at writing it; and I undertook what would become a life-long joy in journaling. All because of her. My hitherto hidden interest to write surfaced - I yearned to write, just like LMM (my nickname for her). Looking back I can trace how LMM influenced my life:

- She gave me heroines in my girlhood who were so real and alive to me. From Anne Shirley and Diana Barry to Emily of New Moon, I learned about friendship and getting along with people, dealing with life's disappointments, and taking joy in the little things around me.

- She gave me words and lines on which I could pin some of my own thoughts and desires, like the familiar, hopeful words, "Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it...yet." Written directly into a notebook for future reference, I cannot recall how often those words comforted me at the end of a day or week fraught with mistakes and missed opportunities. I was ever grateful for Anne's Shirley's optimism.

- She gave me a glimpse into a writer’s life - her struggles as well as her triumphs. This ignited something within me. I wanted to sit on the back step on a summer's evening and muse over lines of a would-be poem that described what I saw and how it captured my soul's imagination.

- Through her words, LMM let me delight in her discovery of beauty around her. Anne continued to be a shining example of someone ever seeking for what was good and lovely in the world. As Anne, via Lucy Maud's pen, described the joy of apple blossoms in spring, the full moon in a winter sky, or the softness of a kitty purring on a lap, I knew that's what I wanted for myself.

- LMM showed me how she felt about her own life and place in the world. She was clear in her own mind and heart. Which I believe helped me to come to some understanding of my own place in it. "The work for which we are fitted — which we are sent into this world to do — what a blessing it is and what fulness of joy it holds!" From The Selected Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Volume II, 5/23/1910

- She showed me how to journal. I was so excited to find her first journal, published in 1985, at the library. I chomped at the bit until the next one was edited and released. As a writer, LMM knew her journals eventually would be available to the public. My own first attempt at journaling started out chunky and choppy but as I matured, thankfully, so did my writing. Even when it was for my eyes only. It became good practice for when I'd write for a wider audience. And what fun to reread something I'd described in an old journal of mine and discover that it wasn't half bad. In her journals, LMM strove to write out her feelings both glad ones and sad ones as well as her thoughts and beliefs, her friendships, struggles, and experiences of the late 1800s and into the early 20th century. She wrote in such a way that sparkled with truth and creativity. I was inspired to describe my own life and the era I lived in, discovering how I felt about it all.

- Then I found out LMM was a keen letter writer. Of course, that was the way people stayed connected back in the day. Writing letters in my youth was still important, and it was through Lucy Maud's published collections of correspondence that I began to see how I could be more creative and interesting in my own letter writing efforts. I enjoyed reading about her literary friendships over several decades with her Scottish pen friend, George Boyd MacMillan, and with Ephraim Weber, who was a struggling young writer living in Alberta, Canada, when he began corresponding with LMM.

"... nothing gives me such a sense of life still being worth while
as to receive a letter from one of the  'kindred spirits' of the
leisurely old days. For a moment or two I find myself back there
in the unhurried years and emerge from my brief communion
with the past refreshed as if I had drunk a rejuvenating
draught from some magic spring."
L.M. Montgomery, Letter to MacMillan, August 26, 1924 

All these years later, Lucy Maud Montgomery remains my favourite literary hero and mentor from afar. I hope to meet her one day in the wild blue yonder so I can say thank you for her gentle guidance and influence over my life. She holds a special place in my heart.

There are others whose photos hang in my literary hero gallery, and I hope to write about two in the near future: Emily Dickinson and Mother Teresa. Now, who would you consider a literary hero—that special person you met through a book?

Wishing you a pleasant bookish day,
Photo credit:
Image by Pat_Photographies from Pixabay

Sunday, January 07, 2024

My One Weakness... Or Two or Three

"I should warn you, I am far from perfect.
I have many, many weaknesses."
Miss Dorcas Lane, Lark Rise to Candleford

The other morning Lorrie on her Fabric, Paper, Thread blog pondered what she feels she cannot resist. I enjoyed her list and was immediately reminded of Postmistress Miss Dorcas Lane on the well-loved PBS television series Lark Rise to Candleford. She was often known to mention something she considered her 'one weakness'. A person didn't have to watch long to realize that Miss Lane had a number of these little harmless weaknesses she couldn't resist.

It turns out, I have more than a few myself. And in making my little list, I realized several are food-related. Here are some things I cannot resist - the list is by no means exhaustive (wink):

1. Tea sandwiches. A plate of tiny sandwiches and I'm in seventh heaven.

2. Cake. A slice of delicious layer cake.
3. Chocolate. Jacek's bar of dark chocolate with sea salt. A single square smoothly satisfies. These are made from a local award-winning chocolatier.    

4. Cheetos Crunchy Cheesies. These are my favourite salty treat with Miss Vickie's potato chips a close second.

5. Stationery. I am beguiled by pretty book covers, well-designed notebooks, and artsy greeting cards.

6. Books. Mysteries, memoirs and biographies, historical novels, art books, to name a few. I never tire of books or reading. Seeing a used book store and my feet go there automatically.

What do you find hard to resist?

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Photo credit:
Top Image by Erika14666 from Pixabay