In lieu of trying to belong to any number of societies: Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes, the Inklings, and so on: I propose and establish one of my own. Don your intelligence cap at the door; dust off your logic and imagination; did you bring your inspiration and encouragement? We are shapers, my friends; lit lamps; light-bringers. Bring quotes*; poetry should be uplifting and thoughtful, or witty and clever, (or both). Humor is encouraged; laughter is invited back. Pull up a chair. Anyone for tea?

* C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, SHERLOCK HOLMES, G.K. CHESTERTON, N.D. WILSON, AND P.G. WODEHOUSE, ARE ENCOURAGED

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hello again


Bonjour mes amis!

After so long away from writing here, and with all the fullness that life can be (and the emptiness it can sometimes feel), I feel almost like a different person when I come back to this blog. A new person, hands poised above the keyboard, ready to leave my mark here. Is this still my place?

And so I am here to introduce myself today.
My name is Olivia. I am called Liv by most of the people who know me.
I am called to Live, by the one who writes my story, and yours, who spoke the stars into existence, and who loves every dandelion and tadpole even more than I do.

Stories are a theme here. I love stories. From the books on my shelves I have traveled and fought and learned and witnessed a thousand things. And every person I meet has an infinite soul and a long and varied story of their own with hidden struggles and private joys. I love to hear people laugh, see their eyes light up, and talk about things they are passionate about.

My story is long and complicated already, although I've only been around the sun twenty-four times. If you visit me in my tiny home, my Dandelion Den, I can tell you the story behind the bits of art on my wall, and the books on the shelf; even my mugs have stories. I have quotes up everywhere, from some of my favorite sources, to brighten my days, make me smile, and remind me what I love and who I want to be. And I'll give you a cutting of my spider-plant to take home with you.

These days are not filled with fabulous enterprises, or parties, or plans. It may only take a moment to tell you whether or not my calendar has plans for me this week. But that which fills my time is a different matter entirely. I may feel that I watch too many shows, or am cluttered with appointments, or remain unmotivated to do all the things on my list. But none of that can paint the picture of my days and hours here.

I found my unabridged audio of the Two Towers recently and have it on in my car, so that every time I drive somewhere I am surrounded by these long-time friends and the glorious inspiration and wisdom that is The Lord of the Rings. It is restorative to my very bones.

The music albums I've had on repeat recently are "Oh My My" by One Republic, and "American Dream" by Dominic Balli; "Crazy Talk" by Mat Kearney , and "In Between Dreams" by Jack Johnson (basically always on my repeat list). My listening to Shane and Shane doesn't fall into neat album categories of course, nor does my playlist from women of the faith... and all the other bits of music that fill my days, including that french rap song I'm trying to learn... speaking of which...

J'apprend le fran├žais! I've been learning French off and on for the last couple of years, but lately have been really throwing myself into it, and for a very good reason. I am visiting France in June! Absolutely thrilled about this trip--to be able to see some beloved places in Europe for the first time. And looking forward to putting into practice this language I've been trying to get a handle on.
I will be documenting my trip as much as possible with photos and insta-stories (in which I will speak French).
So if you see me staring off into the middle-distance more than usual, I am probably conjugating French verbs. Also... if you're  a francophone and want to converse with me to help me learn, let me know!

So my days are filled with great music, amateur dance moves, and muttering French under my breath; epic stories and beloved characters and generous laughter; podcasts and sweatshirts from Preemptive Love, the smiling and mischievous face of my goddaughter. I work at a coffee-shop in the morning, and in the afternoon take long walks in the sunshine, birdsong ringing through the trees and sky.

There are many places I want to visit, many things I want to do; there are people I really want to get to know, and friendships I want to hold on to. There is a great deal ahead of me, and a great deal behind. And sometimes the unknown stretches out in a daunting parabola. But greater than my fears is my hope. And greater than my courage is the steadfast love of the living God. And dawn is ever the hope of men, as Strider says.

Thank you for stopping by this corner of the internet today. I'd pour you a cup of tea if I could reach your mug. This turned into quite the ramble, so your patience is appreciated. Leave me a comment to let me know what fills your days. Do you want book recommendations? I love thinking about books...

The Lord of the Rings
A Gentleman in Moscow
Uneasy Money
Clouds of Witness
One Corpse Too Many
Death by Living

C'est tout pour ce soir.
bonne nuit mes gens

This is glorious


try it with a nap I dare you
or write an epic poem,
or cry
it soothes my soul like I can't even explain
the gladdest sad music I know

Are you ready for 2019?

Good morning, friends, and welcome to 2019. I'm off to work in a couple of hours, but I wanted to greet you all here first, and let you know a little of what I'm thinking about these days. Priorities change, so these lists might too. But I like to spark a little inspiration to get me started in January. I'd love to hear what your aspirations might be!

In the meantime, I'm wishing you a year filled with hope like dandelions, growth like a young tree, and light like the sunrise to shine into all the dark shadows.

19 Things I want to do in 2019 (no particular order):
  1. Adriene's 30 day yoga challenge
  2. Visit France
  3. Be a bridesmaid (my brother is getting married!)
  4. Do a ruthless closet-purge and home declutter
  5. Read 52 books
  6. Write more sonnets
  7. Illustrate my children's book
  8. Visit museums
  9. Make music
  10. Go ice-skating
  11. Make my own Oatmilk
  12. Host a couple of dinner parties
  13. Go cross-country skiiing
  14. Cook food from other countries (at least one country per month)
  15. Write a letter to my future self on my 25th birthday
  16. Watch Casablanca 
  17. Schedule time to do nothing
  18. Rearrange my furniture to keep things fresh
  19. Be a little more like Adaline Bowman

19 Things I want to fill my day with:
  1. Reading my Bible
  2. Learning French
  3. Dancing
  4. Drinking water 
  5. Green tea
  6. Crossword puzzles
  7. Impromptu yoga
  8. Classical music 
  9. Reading poetry
  10. Visiting parks
  11. Shane and Shane, and this playlist
  12. Good conversation 
  13. Candles
  14. All the music
  15. Quiet moments
  16. Laughter
  17. Uninterrupted study
  18. Brushing up on great artists
  19. Trust

My last list is a bit different. I know nothing about Chakras; I've only heard them mentioned in passing when doing yoga. But I saw this simple breakdown of them (on Pinterest I think), and thought it made an excellent model as I pray for my new year:

7. To Know 
6. To See 
5. To Speak 
4. To Love 
3. To Act 
2. To Feel 
1. To Be Here 

So I've elaborated:

7. To Know the goodness of God to my very marrow. 
6. To See the blessings and glories gifted to me in each daily moment.
5. To Speak life over the people around me, and myself; to build each other up.
4. To Love without fear (I have a laundry-list for this one, so I won't elaborate here) 
3. To Act not only in service, but in the freedom of Christ, supporting others because I am supported.
2. To Feel joy in my going out and my lying down, when I sit and when I rise, because the hand of my Lord is on me.
1. To Be Here and be stilland know that it is enough to rest in God.


In this year ahead, here are some pillars to light our way into the unknown.

"Lay down your life, and find that you have picked it up. Fear no raging beast. Be light to the darkness, life to the dead, love to the loveless, folly to the wise. Wage your war, and tell only tales of laughter" 
-NDW

"No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work's sake, and what men call originality will come unsought." -CSL

"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain." -CSL

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." -Jesus

"The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own." -CSL

'I don't know--I don't want to talk as much,' she said, denting her chin thoughtfully with her forefinger.  'It's nicer to think dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one's heart, like treasures.  I don't like to have them laughed at or wondered over.  And somehow I don't want to use big words any more.  It's almost a pity, isn't it, now that I'm really growing big enough to say them if I did want to.  It's fun to be almost grown up in some ways, but it's not the kind of fun I expected, Marilla.  There's so much to learn and do and think that there isn't time for big words.' -LMM


"To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished. Our goal was never to live; our goal is to love. It is the goal of all noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even your live itself." -NDW

Retrospect

Well, here comes my annual year-end post. I am drawn inexorably to write it each year, despite the fact that I'm always a little fuzzy on what I actually want to write about. This dilemma is worsened by the fact that it is inevitably written during the flurry of Christmas-time. Hopefully I'll get a chance to work on this post more during my few days off... maybe even dig up some inspiration for my 2019 post, which of course, is just around the corner.


As difficult as the small moments can be throughout the year, as deep as the trenches get, as far as the horizon feels away... I always love to look back on the year and all its hurdles and glories, the vast sweep of landscape crossed. While in the thick of it, what you feel is the endless climb (and God willing, the grass beneath your feet); but looking back you can appreciate the achievements and the ground covered. You can see the hills and valleys for their architectural interest, and appreciate them like art. That's not to say you now understand the meaning behind all the roughages, and those deep difficulties, but it's now like a story with plot and spin and intrigue, and hope for the pages ahead. The dark shadows on the underside of things show off the light playing about on top. This painting has its moody bits, but would you fault the artist? I like the rain

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks 2018 was a very long year. It seems to stretch out behind us strangely, and I can't believe the number of things that have happened...

House-hunting, and cleaning out the Pineapple House, and moving into my Dandelion Den in the Burrow, was all less than six months ago. I feel like I've been 24 forever. I can't figure out if my visit to Maryland was recently or a long time ago...
Back in the recesses of my 2018 memory was a glorious May that felt like half a summer because I spent almost every day hiking outdoors for hours and hours. I went from winter-palor-of-death to positively brown, in about two weeks. And then I promptly lost my tan because it rained so much during that summer I can't quite remember.
I've been going to Cities Church since Easter, and I can't imagine going anywhere else. Before that I visited South Carolina. And before that is blurrier still -- the black hole of winter, in which I read a flock of great books, took two Hillsdale courses, house-sat for different people, and sang for worship every Sunday, despite some pretty crippling depression.

And then there are the little things through the year that just don't feel so little. Those turbulent nights of the soul that stretch your personhood and force you to look at your wounds, allow them to throb, and beg the Healer to do what He loves to do. Those moments when your mind is scattered and fearful, or your heart feels bruised, or the space feels empty. When your muscles, especially those of motivation and meaning, are burning and begging. Those are the moments that bring you to grips with who you are and who God is.

These things which force us to cling to God are precisely what brings growth to our soul, and strength of mind to face what lies ahead with hope and faith. Experiencing the faithfulness of God through all that last year brought, is what helps us enter into each next year without fear.

And of course, my life is full to brimming with innumerable blessings, spread lavishly throughout my year and bringing hope and light to my days. And I want to be increasingly aware of these. It can be easy to take these for granted, to overlook them in weariness or discouragement. But the truth is, there is such beauty all around! Let's list just a few here...

Cities Church
 - my new church has changed so much about my life this year! My soul has been so nurtured by the sermons and the worship, and my community groups provides a place for fellowship, edification, and growth.

Wonderful coworkers
- seriously, these people make me glad to get to work each day; conversation, camaraderie, and a great deal of laughter and encouragement come out of my work hours. These people are straight-up gifts.

I visited South Carolina and Maryland (&D.C.)

Learned to roast coffee

Played soccer every Thursday throughout the summer

Found my own home to live in! {Dandelion Den}

Went on vacation with my family up north

Helped host some worship nights

Wrote a short story

Did the Whole30

And layered between these, and all throughout the year are the little moments that mean the most to you. When someone spends time with you when they didn't have to. Or when you read a book that's just so good you can't believe it. Or when you laugh until you cry because of something you found on the internet. Or when you feel the presence of God right beside you as you drive your car. Or when you are astounded by the beauty of trees and rocks and streams. Or when you watch the sunrise over the lake, and then a sunset the same day, with loons crying in the distance. Or when you find the mot juste. Or get a great hug. Or have the first sip of coffee on one of those days. Or when you do something ridiculous but are able to just laugh outright, because you feel safe. Or when a workout feels easy. Or when cooking is just so comforting. Or when a movie makes you laugh, and cry, and sing (Mary Poppins Returns). Or when you think of traveling the world. Or realize you have enough time for a nap. Or when you have an amazing conversation that goes all over the place, covering such a host of fascinating topics that neither of you can decide how you got there.

I hope in the New Year, I will choose to remember these things. That these will be what I fill journals with, and prayers of gratitude with. Rather than leaving journaling or deep prayer for the moments of frustration, I hope I overflow with good stories, proclaiming the blessings of God. May my knowledge of pain, and my feelings for the aching weight of the world, bring strength to my profession of joy. May it bring authenticity to my declaration of the goodness of God. May my need make the beauty and salvation and patience of God seem ever greater.

Below are the books I read in 2018. As always, I wish it were longer. But days are full, and there's not enough coffee in the world to make me not need naps! I'm off to finish my post to start out 2019, but if you have any book suggestions (or questions!) I would love to hear. Comment below!


Innocence -Dean Koontz (reread)

Little Book on the Christian Life -John Calvin

A Gentleman in Moscow -Amore Towles

The Shadowland -Elizabeth Kostova

All the Light We Cannot See -Anthony Doerr

Orthodoxy -G.K. Chesterton (reread)

Everyone Brave is Forgiven -Chris Cleave

A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs -Ellis Peters

The Confessions of Brother Haluin -Ellis Peters

Touch Not the Cat -Mary Stewart (reread)

Life Together -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Burning Maze -Rick Riordan

Dragon's Tooth -N.D. Wilson (reread)

Drowned Vault -N.D. Wilson (reread)

Scent of Water -Elizabeth Goudge (reread) 

Empire of Bones -N.D. Wilson (reread)

The Beautiful Mystery -Louise Penny

How the Light Gets In -Louise Penny

The Loving Life -Paul Miller

The Chestnut King -N.D. Wilson (reread)

Tiger in the Smoke -Margery Allingham (reread)

No Love Lost -Margery Allingham

Black Plumes -Margery Allingham

Uneasy Money -P.G. Wodehouse (reread)

The Person of Jesus -J.Gresham Machen

The Unfinished Clue -Georgette Heyer

Footsteps in the Dark -Georgette Heyer

Death in the Stocks -Georgette Heyer

Daughter of Time -Josephine Tey

Miss Pym Disposes -Josephine Tey

It Starts with Food -Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig

Shepherds Abiding -Jan Karon (reread)

Wordsmithy -Doug Wilson

Thornyhold -Mary Stewart

Thunder on the Right -Mary Stewart

Short stories by P.G. Wodehouse

The Things of Earth -Joe Rigney

A Study in Scarlet -Arthur Conan Doyle (reread)

All You Need to be Impossibly French -Helen Frith Powell

Christmas Beginning -Anne Perry

The Dark is Rising -Susan Cooper (reread)

The Reluctant Widow -Georgette Heyer (reread)

Strong Women of Doctor Who

For my next installment in A Series of Remarkable Characters I'm going to be talking about Amelia Pond and Clara Oswald, my personal favorite women of Doctor Who.

And yes, before we go any further,
Not big ones though

So here's a topsy-turvy list of things to learn from the Impossible Girl, and the Girl Who Waited.

1. Never underestimate the importance of a great outfit.
Related imageImage result for clara outfits
These girls have style. Personally, Clara's outfits are some of my favorites, but Amy too knows how to dress with some serious flair "for Rio!" and they both have a strong jacket game.* Along with the Doctor and his bowties and jackets (and fez) they save the world with significant sartorial panache, and you'd better believe that this has something to do with our #2

2. Be fabulous, and believe it.

One thing that I love about Amy and Clara is that they are impressed by the magnificent, filled with wonder at the incredible, but it doesn't make them back down. It doesn't make them doubt their own brilliance. They are quick to see the amazing in others, and are willing to go toe-to-toe with the clever and the terrible, and match their wits with anyone because, as the fellow says, 
"If not you, then who? If not now, then when?"

3. Use whatever you've got at your disposal

Whether it's Amy pausing the tape in Flesh and Stone, or Clara getting Rigsy to save the world with spray-paint, these women know how to take what they've got and make it do. Which makes them brilliant companions of course, because this is the Doctor's whole MO. Don't give up, don't walk away, preserve and protect, whatever the stakes.

4. You don't need a reason to be you
Image result for clara oswald does there have to be a reason?

5. You definitely don't need an excuse to be funny (or full of sass)

Image result for amy pond im easily worth two menRelated image


6. Don't be afraid to be the boss

Sometimes you're the one who knows what needs to happen. Go with it. Sometimes you're the only one keeping a level head. Own it. Along with this goes: it's okay to be intimidating as long as the people you care about know you are there for them no matter what.

7. Be the carers. 

Care, when nobody else will. Stay, when everyone runs away. Spread hope everywhere you go. Ask people if they're alright. Choose to still feel it, even when it hurts. Caring will lead you into a host of adventures, and helps keeps you on the right track in the throes of life.

8. Create family

Some family you're born with, some family you fall in love with (and marry), and some come into your life in entirely unexpected ways. But we can absolutely choose family. Hold onto the dear people in your life. Stick by them no matter what. Let them know when they're being ridiculous. Protect them from themselves sometimes. And if they stick around, be their family forever.
Related image
These two are my favorite examples of this {{so much love}}

9. Be brave. Be confident. Be optimistic. Be kind.

These are generally implied in the others we looked at, but are worth spelling out on their own. It is wonderful when we are protected and safe and with those we love: but this is not always the case. And when it is not, what we can be is "very, very brave"
"Don’t follow me under any circumstances." Vincent and The Doctor.  i loved this episode. it made me cry actually


10. "Don't give up

Not ever. Not for one single day. Be safe, when you can be. But always be amazing."

I think this is my favorite Who quote, however many other brilliant ones there are...

What's yours?

                       

*I have taken some serious style pointers from the women of Doctor Who over the years. I get my hoop earrings from Rose, and I had a serious mini-skirt-and-leggings phase inspired by Amy. Clara inspires my heeled boots and dress game. And I take my jacket collection very seriously.

November


"We never cease to be creatures; we never become God. However, the great promise, if Jesus' prayer is fulfilled, is that we will approach such a union of knowledge, love, and joy for all eternity, with ever-increasing speed. We finite beings are chasing the infinite, and therefore we'll never catch it (him!). But the increase of our knowledge of God and love for God and joy in God will continue, world without end, amen." --Joe Rigney, The Things of Earth

This was my view this morning as I read these words from a chapter expounding on the teaching and prayers of Jesus in John 13-17, as it related to the trinity, the glorification of God, and our 'becoming partakers of the divine nature' both in this world, and in the one to come. What glory!
In particular, that sentence about chasing the infinite conjured an immediate picture in my head, full of nostalgic and sensory meaning. The clouds outside the window and the uncertain gusty breezes came together with it, full of the joy, adventure, and mystery of a child chasing a kite.
It was an awakening of joy, a reminder of the very aliveness of this life, this journey. The Hope of Glory. It was a kind of reestablishment of the meaning of the running we do here on earth, and the worth of the glory that is to come: the home that we long for: that endless learning and being known: the mystery gradually and continually illuminated: the overwhelming love that not only washes over us, but that we are actively invited into, partakers in; sharing and learning and enveloped in the relationship of the triune God...

Needless to say, I am looking forward to more quiet moments appreciating the autumn here on my visit in Maryland, and to further chapters in that book!

I'm soaking it in. It's an especial blessing to get this extra glimpse of autumn here on the east coast, as Minnesota pretty nearly skipped it this year. This season is always one I particularly look forward to, as the quality of light and air seems to heighten my awareness of glory, of the unseen; of beauty, magic, and poetry.

Here's to another shower of autumn leaves, to new breaths of rich air. To a little poetry and pen, and many a walk and a bike-ride while I'm here.

Because, you know what will happen when I get home right? As soon as I've unpacked, and straightened my apartment, and gone back to work, that is...
I'll be moving right into the Winter season, folks! Embracing it with open arms. Fair warning!
Things are going to go full-on Hygge around here.

October


Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
- Robert Frost




"And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home." - Wendell Berry


It's been rather an odd October, and not only because we've had a couple of actual snow-falls already. This month has just been really full. I feel I'm running this way and that. My evenings are often busy, and when I'm not leaving the house, I'm cooking up a storm for the days and hours ahead.

So here's my honesty check-in for Whole30: 
It's day 26, and I'm on plan*. I've been eating well. I'm not sick of eggs yet. I've discovered and developed a bunch of new recipes and food-ideas. I'm excited about close-to-paleo eating for long-term. I'm learning to cook all sorts of things in my tiny kitchen; I'm meal-planning and prepping, and packing great lunches for work. 
But I still have really low energy. I've stopped doing yoga everyday, what with my rushing here and there, and my tiredness. I know that's not optimal, but there it is. I've just come down with a terrible cold, which is keeping me up at night, (not to mention making my spine and ears hurt, and my voice go out). And you know what? I could really go for some honey right now, on this throat. 
Since I'm so near day 30, I'll just wait. But I am looking forward to getting back to a little more food-freedom. Not so that I can go eat ice-cream, or even lots of gluten-free bread. I'm looking forward to cassava tortillas, a hot toddy, and paleo pumpkin pie. Also, some sort of chewy, paleo cinnamon cookie... It's weird things one craves.
I'll let you know if this changes, but I think for me, Whole30 is not a life-changing experience. My relationship with food was already rich and varied. This was a nice challenge, and I hope it did in fact reset a few things in my system, but my health is a long road, and this was just one curve. There's a long way to go. 
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep...

See you in November!

*Except I had that one cough-drop. And by the way today is looking, I may need more to get through the weekend. Sorry world.

My Hogwarts House dilemma

For a very long time, I didn't quite accept that I was a Ravenclaw. When one reads the Harry Potter books (which I did rather late in my teens) one is likely to identify with Gryffindor. After all, the central characters all make their home there. So not only do you feel their personal loyalty, but you are given a great deal more information about it, more stories developed within it, and you find it just overall more interesting because there's something happening

 A few years after reading the books (and knitting myself a scarlet and gold scarf) a friend convinced me to take the sorting quiz on Pottermore. And I rather expected to get Hufflepuff, what with my love of peace and cooking and hobbits. Part of me still identified with Gryffindor. So when I got Ravenclaw, I was a little nonplussed.
And here's where I get all controversial: I didn't particularly like any of the Ravenclaws that I knew. Luna Lovegood is of course the most well known, and nearly all we've got to go on, as far as the house goes (I didn't find much help in Cho Chang or Padma Patil). And I just didn't identify with Luna at all. Besides being lost in our heads as children, I didn't feel we had anything in common. I prefer Shawn Spencer. And it's extremely difficult to connect Ravenclaw with anyone but Luna.

But I've been thinking about it more recently, and have realized that Ravenclaw is not really a strange choice for me. I do highly value intelligence, and enjoy seeking it out. I adore both logic and poetry; and having to answer a riddle to gain entrance to the Ravenclaw common-room sounds right up my alley. So I began to give it more thought (because clearly I have nothing better to do).

There were still things about Hufflepuff and Gryffindor that attracted me. After all, as Cinderella puts it so well, aren't we to simply Have Courage and Be Kind?

If you've ever heard me talk about dandelions, then you know I have an especial fondness for them and their sunny strength. For the way they bloom early and in the toughest situations, able to crack concrete with their quiet persistence, "unafraid to be turned to ash, or cut or poisoned, ready to be born again". This to me, seems very Hufflepuff. And between Wind in the Willows, and Prince Caspian, badgers hold a very dear place in my heart. And have you seen the Hufflepuff common-room and their hobbit-windows? I am entirely jealous.
Image result for hufflepuff common room
The difficulty is, I have a many sided personality. I am fascinated by the sea, and comforted by a fireside. I will protect the children at any cost, or happily co-pilot your rescue mission into the darkest jungle. I don't get many chances for Gryffindor bravery, and I'm not generally one to stretch the rules, but there's something in all of us I think, that longs for the chance: for a cause big enough to give everything for: for a hill worth dying on. "Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery..."


So one day, I started making a list. Ravenclaw: For & Against. It looks kind of like this.

FOR:
Poetry
Blue (have you seen my house?)
Books (or my shelves?)
Puzzles and Riddles (I write them as well as solve them)
Codes (I memorized morse, and have you heard me talk about Bletchley?)
Found two pens in my boot the other day
I made this list
I recognize a khopesh on sight
Rain is my favorite
Art
Stars
Life long learning!
"this is my sister, otherwise known as google"
Sometimes I'm a know-it-all. I'm sorry everyone.
Rory Gilmore everybody
The Against was a little more ambiguous, because I had to gather (mostly from perusing the internet) consensus on the attributes... well... attributed to Ravenclaw.
The biggest contenders were really just the reasons mentioned above why I could be a Hufflepuff. Other reasons include but are not limited to:

I'm practical. I don't want to discuss theories unless they'll work.
I'm a hugger. No stand-offishness please.
I like hands-on. I'm an S, not an N (think Meyers-Briggs)
I'm not a pessimist. I over-prepare, but I hope for the best.

At any rate, the Against side just isn't very convincing.
So I will concede the point. I am a Ravenclaw.
As long as I can keep the fierceness of the Athena Cabin, the home of a hobbit, and the humor of Psmith (actually, I think he'd fit in rather well).
Most of all, can I still be Watson? Because as much as I crave knowledge, there is plenty I need never know. As much as I like puzzles, I like the resolution even better. I am a Watson, not a Sherlock. And as Chesterton says, I have an open mind only so that I can close it upon something sound. I love the challenge of the story, because I trust the Author.
I will be a dandelion wherever I fall.


And now it's time for one last bow like all your other selves. Eleven's hour is over now, the clock is striking twelves....

"Life is full of whimsical happenings, Watson"

~*~

"Wisdom begins in wonder" 
~socrates (sort of)

Gallifreyan

"Be curious, not judgmental" - walt whitman


And while we're at it, how about a Ravenclaw booklist from my shelves...

Queen of Attolia 
The Silver Chair 
Sherlock Holmes 
The Perilous Gard
The Dark is Rising   
"minds hold more than they know. particularly yours."

And a Riddle before you go:

You'll never know my depths
My surface may be smooth
But in my dark interior
My ways are cold, uncouth
I hold the tears of many
The sweat of labor too
I'm greatly loved by numbers
My thoughts are often blue
Deep, deep inside is life
And stories still untold
My heart will swell,
I rise and breathe
I am forever bold
My dance is like a storm
And rages uncontained
My partner is the moon
Without her I'd be chained
Un-quenching and unquenchable
My restless movements still the same
I'm difficult to fathom, yet
The whole world knows my name

Half-way through Whole30

Here's how it's going so far.

Best part: I got out of a food-rut (and a cooking rut). Because I was forced to meal-plan, lest I go hungry, I was able to come up with more interesting ideas than I could have on-the-spot. I've spent much more time doing the actual cooking and prep, which I believe enhances my enjoyment of the food. But I'm much more prepared for the hours and days ahead. I do some bulk cooking, but mostly just for tomorrow's lunch and so on. I've made back-up breakfasts and things for my freezer in case I have to run some days, but I haven't had to use most of them yet. I get hungry less often, and enjoy my food more fully. I feel more comfortable after eating, and I do believe it helps with my energy, even though I haven't gotten to the stage where I feel totally energized.

Worst part: The worst is just that it's expensive. I end up eating such large quantities of the whole foods I can eat. I miss a few foods, and I'm keeping track of which ones they are so that I can figure out how to incorporate them into my life afterward. (And watch patterns, and see if I completely loose cravings for certain foods). It's quite interesting. Yesterday I was eating a Larabar (for the first time during the month, I've really meal-planned enough that I haven't needed them), and I found that after half of it, I was ready to be done. It was just so sweet.

So if anyone is interested in recipes, I'd be happy to share mine, or pass along where I got them from. Some of my meals included...

Meatballs
Butternut squash soup
Shakshuka
Green soup
Picadillo and tostones
Cauliflower tabbouleh
Pork Curry

If anyone needs a personal chef, I volunteer!

October


I have this enormously long list of things I need to do, like clean my apartment and redecorate, make soup and pickles, memorize scripture, shower, plan ahead and make lists, read, go for a walk.
Instead I'm researching Hogwarts houses, and drinking Earl Grey.

These first October days have been brisk and cold, mostly rainy and grey, with a few spots of sunshine. I got the AC unit out of my window, and a couple of days ago I woke up and my radiator was warm to my touch. I haven't had time yet to reorganize for the autumn and winter, and I'm genuinely looking forward to it. But my days have been unusually full of people. It's been so good. Even in moments when I felt too weary to make conversation, each interaction brought life and connection. But there hasn't been much time around the edges. With a full week of work, and cooking every meal carefully for whole30, (and things that come up like car repairs and buying eggs), I mostly jot down lists of things on my mind, and to-do, and then crawl into bed.

 

Thankfully I've got this Saturday afternoon to procrastinate, and (hopefully) also get things done. I'm so looking forward to having my apartment reorganized and spruced up for the cold months. I want to use my desk more, and have my chair be this cozy place where I can curl up after work to read A Child's Calendar, and the Joe Rigney books I just bought. I can't wait to get back into listening to lectures and pouring through my Chesterton and Lewis again.
Read about Seven Values for Learning over on Sarah Clarkson's blog.


"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in fall" --F. Scott Fitzgerald


By the way... What Hogwarts House do you think I am?


Social media is like Oreos


Social media, like Oreos, gives you an immediate hit of dopamine (which is what makes it immediately pleasurable) but it does not contain the substance (think nutrition) of an actual friendship, the things that actually increase quality of life. This combination then produces guilt, discontent, cravings, and soon depression (because you don't want to stop, even though you're never satisfied). Sound a little like eating junk food? I thought so. Same results.

Is it ironic that I'm writing this on social media? Maybe. I'm just saying, fill your life up with real things, and you'll wonder why you kept scrolling through tumblr-feeds when you could have been grabbing coffee with a friend.

Does this have to do with the reading I'm doing for Whole30? Yeah, probably. But take it from someone who gets sick from both, it's worth thinking about. So go talk to someone you like, or get a pen-pal, or keep pursuing the people you're already loving and serving. The return is high.