“I just don’t think I can go this morning,” I tell H from the desk in the kitchen. He’s pulling his arms through his coat, wrapping a scarf around his neck, twisting an umbrella in his hands and packing his computer in preparation for a work day commute.
“You’ve said that about three times in the last fifteen minutes,” he says while pulling the zipper up on his coat. “It’s okay, you don’t need to feel guilty about not going to a women’s bible study.”
While he leaves the house every morning, boards a train with hundreds of strangers, and interacts with cohorts, my feet have stepped from my living room carpet onto the busy pavement four times in the last two weeks.
Writing books is like swimming in the deep end of a lake. The longer you swim around in the mystery, the longer it takes to get back to the surface. The more you explore the beauty of God, the more beautiful life becomes in the exploration.
An author lives in a continual paradox, from longing for release from a deadline to being drawn like an addict to crafting sentences.
My decision not to return to a normal rhythm of a weekly women’s cluster isn’t as much about guilt as it is about breaking a cycle of (required) isolation. In my quest to write meaningful words, I fear missing out on meaningful relationships. Rubbing shoulders, making eye contact, and hearing the intonation and cadence of someone’s voice – that’s what makes work-a-day life purposeful.
We are meant to be trees flourishing, deeply rooted in God’s wisdom and branching out into the world so others can rest upon our experiences. But wintering is also required because deprivation and difficult conditions create an inner sturdiness when inevitable hard seasons come.
Today, I’m sharing some of the things that are saving me from wilting this winter during dark London days and long quiet stretches of isolation.
Read Great Books
At the turn of the year, I accepted Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge. Reading one book a week — new titles as well as re-reading some I originally raced through — diverts my mind and soul from slumping into bleakness.
These are the titles savored this month:
All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth is a memoir that holds up a mirror for me. I found myself picking up her delicious story during lunch, after dinner, and just before turning in for the night. Edie’s redemptive story as the daughter of an alcoholic stirs a range of emotions. It was an honor to meet Edie at The Nest Fest last October where we signed books together in Myquillyn Smith’s white barn.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a book that so many of my friends were reading and sharing on social media. I’m so glad I started the year off with a page turner capturing a new perspective on WW2. The plot is full of passion, forgiveness, the realities of deprivation and the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity. I found myself thankful for running water, a stocked refrigerator and radiator’s pushing warmth in all the rooms of my house.
Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy is a beautifully written memoir of finding God while making a new home in Pennsylvania. Christie writes with captivating imagery and insightful perspective. As an avid gardener, her passion for horticulture throughout makes my heart long to extract beauty inherent in each season. I read a chapter or two and sometimes three during my quiet time before long writing days commenced.
I also enjoyed Eugene Peterson’s, Eat This Book, Waiting for God by Simone Weil and am halfway into The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel. All recommended reads but Waiting for God was more of a challenge to read than I normally prefer.
Listen to Smart People
The Hope*Writers podcasts are packed with fun, practical wisdom that make me feel less alone in my work and more part of a global community. I could listen to Emily Freeman and Myquillyn Smith talk all day but I choose to listen while cooking dinner. They are good company when chopping onions and stirring soup. The beauty of a podcast is that you can learn something new while being productive at the same time. Listen when it suits your schedule.
One Pot Meals
Because leftovers! The busy woman’s best friend is the slow cooker. Making meals in the crockpot during long work weeks equals a rhythm of actually thinking about dinner during breakfast. For those who create for a living, absentmindedness and general negligence of household duties during deadline seasons is a given. I return to these recipes and Kristin Schell’s website often for finding recipes that include what I already have in my pantry. Because who has time to grocery shop?!
Sitting in a chair for long periods is hard on my body and writing big chunks of content is mentally draining but I have a creative mind that also thinks rationally, a heart that can discern God’s nearness, and eyes that can read story. I work in pajamas from a warm, beautiful office tucked away on the top floor of a terrace house in London. When I practice thankfulness, a grisly cold day of cloud cover can produce springtime in the heart.
A daily Instagram post, a twice-a-day check in on Facebook, and weekly email interaction with the Sabbath Society community makes this extrovert’s heart happy. When I have long stretches of required time alone, virtual engagement saves me from slipping into a dark hole of loneliness. This beautiful collage from community hashtags — #SabbathSociety and #RhythmsOfRest illustrates we need our friends for encouragement, perspective, and sometimes empathy. Thank God for the interwebs during seasons when being physically present is nearly impossible.
What is Saving You?
A pretty calendar with quotes and prompts for making a rest a reality. This is what many of you are telling me in response to weekly Sabbath Society letters.
We started with a printable January calendar of quotes from the Beginnings chapter in Rhythms of Rest, scripture verses, and action steps to help make rest realistic in a new year.
I had no idea when I asked the creative team at Bethany House to consider making this calendar how transformative it would be for so many. This beautiful calendar is helping you rest mind, body and soul.
So, they are making one for every month of this year!! Woohoo!
Download your free printable February calendar. Buy a copy of Rhythms of Rest while it’s at a low price. Sign up to join the Sabbath Society community and receive a weekly letter based on the weekly prompts. Then share your photos with us — #SabbathSociety and #RhythmsOfRest.
Sabbath pauses save us from losing our way, they remind us to persevere when circumstances look bleak. Break a cycle of winter weariness with rest and put meaning back into your meaningful life.
What is saving you?
Join Modern Mrs. Darcy on Thursday, February 2 for a link up, a community sharing what is saving them as we approach the mid-point of the winter season.