Why It’s OK To Cry at Writing Retreats (or, At Least Ours): A Guest Post by Melanie Springer Mock

Dear Friends,

Today I’m delighted to share this space with my friend, Melanie, who is one of my major writing inspirations.

Although I was initially intimidated by her — she’s a real writer, after all, has authored several books, and is an award-winning professor of writing at a university —  I soon learned that Melanie is also an encourager, a kindness monger, a humble advocate and mentor, and a loyal friend. Now Melanie has released her latest book, my favorite so far, and I think you’ll see immediately why I’m sharing it (and her) with you. It’s titled Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else. For those of us who grew up in conservative Evangelical Christian culture and have felt enormous pressure to conform in order to fit in — for those of us who have desperately longed to be wildly and truly ourselves with all our magic and mess, as though that is who we were created to be all along — this book is a life-giver and a game changer. Vulnerable, funny, heart-wrenching, and deeply true, Melanie shows us the way to discover that we’re already worthy of love exactly as we are. Which is what I hope we do here every day. ...  read more

St. Jude: Patron Saint of Chaos and Impossible Causes

I’m in Hawaii, sitting next to an olive-green painted stucco wall on the concrete deck of the Kona Brewing Company drinking a half Lavaman Lager / half Hula Hefeweizen overlooking a Chevron gas station. The ocean is on the other side of the highway somewhere — probably — and my beer is nearly gone, very warm, and totally flat. Still delicious, though, because low standards for the win! ...  read more

8 Days of Giveaways! Day EIGHT: Just Short and Sweet

Hello, friends, and welcome to…

8 Days of Giveaways:
Day EIGHT!

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Just Short and Sweet

Here we are! Day EIGHT already of 8 Days of Giveaways, and we definitely get to go out on top, because today I get to give away a fun, trendy, brass necklace with thanks to my childhood friend, Blythe Rhoads who makes cool things AND is working to make life better for our friends across the world in Africa through her work with Ever Increasing Children’s School in Bukasa Village, Uganda. I cannot easily express how incredibly inspired I am by people like Blythe — and so many of our other artists featured this week — who seek to love our neighbors well and who remember we’re all neighbors. ...  read more

8 Days of Giveaways! Day SEVEN: Blossoms by Branching Out

Hello, friends and welcome to…

8 Days of Giveaways:
Day SEVEN!

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Photo Credit ©Nanci Imagery

Blossoms by Branching Out

Blossoms8Blossoms4Blossoms7I stumbled across Christine at a bazaar a few weeks ago, and I was completely enchanted by her hair blossoms. From teeny, tiny blooms in neutrals to HUGE, full, colorful flowers, I loved every one and bought my fair share because they’re afforable ($2-5 each), and I decided they’re perfect as stocking stuffers. Of course, that was before I decided to keep most of them for myself, but theoretically, they’re ideal to give away. ...  read more

8 Days of Giveaways! Day SIX: Nathan Rhoads

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8 Days of Giveaways:
Day SIX!

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Nathan Rhoads, Fine Artist

NathanRhoads2I’ve known Nathan since he was in diapers, which I’m positive is the way he was hoping I’d open this giveaway.

Nathan was one of those kids who was sweet and calm and kind; he reacted to my endearing high volume and my brother’s tendency to headbutt sweet, calm, kind children with bewilderment and confusion. But he was tenacious, man, and he stuck with us anyway, which proves there’s really nothing Nathan can’t overcome. Eventually, Nathan added a wicked funny sense of humor to his repertoire and a healthy dollop of sarcasm. Also, he and his wife named their two sons after whiskey, so I feel like we have something to work with, here. ...  read more

8 Days of Giveaways! Day FIVE: Sudara

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8 Days of Giveaways:
Day FIVE!

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PUNJAMMIES by Sudara

In September, I wrote to you about my successful quest for the perfect pajama pants. It was a quest I’d posed initially and facetiously as “of eternal significance” until I discovered PUNJAMMIES™ which are gorgeous, comfy jammy pants AND are made by Sudara, an organization that works to free women from sex slavery by giving them living wage jobs. “Every pair of PUNJAMMIES™,” in fact, “is named after a woman who is now steadily employed in a stable, living-wage job with a Sudara sewing center partnership.” ...  read more

8 Days of Giveaways! Day FOUR: Hooked by Hanna

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8 Days of Giveaways:
Day FOUR!hanna3

Hooked by Hanna

Hooked by Hanna is a cottage industry offering crochet creations of all kinds: unique hats, toys for babies and children, neckwear, etc. Items can be made to the customer’s preferences and specifications.

I Hanna1admit it; I’m hard wired to prefer buying gifts from artists and crafters and small business owners because, unselfishly, I want my money to benefit real people and not a group of already wealthy shareholders, and, selfishly, I really love giving one-of-a-kind gifts. Last Christmas, I pinged my friend Hanna, a crochet master and fellow bibliophile (pretty sure we could talk about books for hours), and ordered boot cuffs in cream and grey (for me) and in purple (for my high school daughter). Turns out, they were some of my favorite, favorite gifts last year. Pretty. Fun. Affordable. We still have them a year later, and they’ve held up perfectly — just like new, actually. My only complaint is Abby keeps stealing mine, the punk. ...  read more