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Showing posts from July, 2018

How To Be A Lovely Woman

She has such elegant, effortless posture, I imagine her as a little girl being taught to sit and walk with a book on her head. She smiles and speaks gently, kindly, to everyone she meets. You can depend on her to be punctual, careful, trustworthy. She is a lovely woman.

But her loveliness is not in her elegance. It is that she takes care of herself by holding her body safely, comfortably. Another woman with a sore back or troubled legs will stand differently (or perhaps even be wheelchair-bound) and still be lovely because her self-esteem, and concern for her well-being, resides above society's judgment.

Her loveliness is not about make-up, being a particular size, or wearing certain clothes. It is self-kindness and reverence for the resource a woman has been given to experience this life: her body, with all its unique beauty and tender needs.

Neither is her loveliness in her voice. She might be gruff-toned, a whisperer, or even mute, and still prove lovely. It is in her kindness …

A Letter from Sarah

Dear friends,

it's been somewhat of an eventful week for me, spent largely away from home, and social media consequently fell by the wayside. In one challenge, my computer broke. Miraculously, I was able to get another, and have now achieved a long-held dream of owning a pink computer. I lost some work on my current manuscript, despite regularly emailing it to myself as a preventative of such losses, but that was the very smallest of my concerns. However, yesterday's evening sky was an exultation of golden light, the moon softly kissing the world, a new bird singing at the unseen edges, all of it offering peace and love. A friend recently told me that if the world is material then Mystery is essential to balance and complete it, and when I look out my window at such everyday wonderments of nature, I think mystery is surely born in love.

I am returning slowly to my usual routine, thankful for the opportunity to rediscover what works well and what is in need of a change. Throug…

The Homes of Anne of Green Gables

I have been dipping into my collection of Anne Shirley books, usually in the evening, to bring peace to my mind and gentleness to my perspective. Something I've noticed along the way is how deeply the various homes affect me. They are equal in my mind to the human characters in the stories. Today I thought it might be fun to share my favourite homes in the Anne series, and maybe you have favourites you would share too in the comments section. I know this is a rather bloggish thing to do, but I'm deep in composition mode for two manuscripts, and haven't much creativity left over right now for blogposts, I'm afraid.

1. Ingleside.

I adore this home so much, I often daydream about living there - although I would not have a Susan in residence, nor hopefully mice in the pantry! An old family home of this kind - a mellow house, as Anne says - has such a warm character, and is full of domestic magic, joyful memories, which make me feel cosy just thinking of it. And I am in love…

A Book Can Be A Treasure Chest

The other day I was heading out for a place where I knew I'd be sitting waiting for several hours, so I took Anne of Avonlea with me to pass the time with loveliness. I seldom read this particular book from page to page, because I don't much care for Davy, but I do love to dip into its gentleness and magic, and then let my dreams carry me on. Some of its sentences are my favourites out of the whole series.

Last night, I read a few pages before going to sleep, and concluded that I should make it my regular practice to read a little of a lovely book every day. As the heroine in my own current work-in-progress says, "It seems only sensible to fill your mind with beauty, since you can. I'd rather remember pieces of poetry than scenes from a horror film."

Do you have books which you keep as reservoirs of loveliness and peace? Or a treasure chest containing wonders and exotic dreams of the world? Or a key to your own dreaming soul?

picture credit

The Sins of the Modern Feminist

There's as much magic in the little violet as in the greatest pine tree.
(from my current work-in-progress)

I recently participated in a conversation about womanhood, during which we got to confess our sins as modern feminists. Several women admitted to still shaving legs and armpits. Others said they liked prettiness. I said, amongst other things (for I have many sins) that I liked old-fashioned gentlemanly respect towards women, wearing dresses, romantic stories, motherhood, tea cups; that, in short, I liked being feminine, and was tired of apologising for it.

Another woman added that she thought the sadness of modern womanhood was how so often we are made to feel ashamed for being womanly. Of course, we have always been made to feel that way - it has been enshrined in laws and cultures for centuries. But sad indeed that now women have more freedom and equality (note the qualifying "more") we still carry within ourselves that sense of shame. So many of us try to devel…

The Quick and The Undead

Today I watched Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (although I had to look away several times) and was reminded by it of a story I wrote several years ago about Regency era zombies, long before I knew anything about P&P&Z. (I've actually never read the book.) Infact, the story began as a short piece for an online writing club, and was later extended for addition into The Coracle Sky. I did flirt with the idea of extending it again into a full-length novel, but never got around to it, and now of course I couldn't as it would look like a cheap imitation of P&P&Z despite being written in ignorance of that novel. I guess there are only so many story ideas in the world.

I enjoyed the movie so much, I decided to publish The Quick and the Undead online while still in the cheerful zombie mood. You can read it here. If you enjoy it, please feel welcome to share the link. However, be advised it's quite different from what you may be used to from me - although close…

The Blog Writer

I am writing this with the aid of a clattery old keyboard attached to my laptop because yesterday I splashed water on the laptop keyboard and it no longer works. I'm in a rather numb state in lieu of staying truly calm. I suppose the situation will work itself out, or not.

I've been contemplating lately my comfort zone when it comes to personal sharing on social media. This week someone online attacked me out of the blue and then blocked me when I replied reminding them I am a real person. I used to share a lot more personally in years past but things like that stopped me; however, I wondered if it would have happened this time if my individuality was more apparent in my words. And yet, what does a writer owe to the public?

For the past several years, I have been dealing with serious health issues. The situation in America affects me in a deeply personal way for reasons I'm disinclined to share; suffice it to say, the daily news is anguishing. As I type this, another great…


I dream of a garden. It is surrounded by high hedges and old, brave, billowing trees. Flowers grow there, and weeds that should be known as flowers, and fruit trees that I keep mostly for their blossom. Part of the garden is its horizons: its shadowy hills and suggestions of a distant sea. I do not want to leave the garden and go to those wilder places, I just want to hold their wild mystery.

Every day in the garden a sun shines gently. Every night it rains. And there is no news in the garden, no people who feel they have to give you the benefit of their opinion, no people who think they can just barge on in. The only information comes by birdsong and breeze. It tells of weather, wishes, peace.

In the garden there is tea. And I can eat all the shortbread biscuits and ginger cake I want without having to worry. I can sit in white dresses, a big rather foolish straw hat, and write whatever I please. No one will call my work brilliant just because it's what they like to read. They…

Staying Gentle In The Pain

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is to stay gentle and tender in the pain. But it's also the most important thing. What can I tell you to give you the strength to be tender if you ever need it?

I can tell you that you deserve to have a warm and soft place inside of yourself, no matter how hard things are. There's no reason why most people in the world don't deserve that. I can tell you that you belong here with us all, in this mad and lovely life, regardless of what you love and who you love. The beauty all around us if for you as much as it is for anyone.

I can tell you that I don't know why the pain has come, but it does seem to come to so many people, probably all the people at one time or another. It's not myriad, for all that it has different degrees of bearability and comes in different coats. For some, it's illness. For others, it's poverty. Or a thousand different things. What, doesn't really matter. Pain is pain, and it hurts, regardless o…

Don't Wait For Beauty

Don't wait for beauty. Make it. Be it. 

Use the good chinaware, for everyone you serve, including yourself, deserves honouring. Buy the cheaper bread and spend what money is left over on little pots of flowers. Write not the story that scares you but reflects what you find most beautiful and inspiring in the world. Light the candles for yourself. Put flowers and pearls in your hair, poems in your mouth, a coin in the hand of the homeless person. Think of others' comfort - it takes nothing real away from you to do so. Plant where there is only ragged grass. Smile where people are dour. Make the prettiness you don't see. Show the behaviour you want shown to yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world.

art by sue fenlon

The Woman At The Water

She went down to the water, because that's where dreaming women went. She was smoke and deep night stars, but they said water and so she went. She knew who she was, really, and still she felt she should look.

A small bird was singing, singing rain. No rain came - because in truth it was singing her name.

After a while she became restless, waterside, a little cold, a little bored. Or a whole lot. She went home, lit incence, opened her curtains to the dark velvet sky, the small white lights over hills. She drank tea with milk.

And her dreams were hill dreams, dark dreams, with no water in them. They were real dreams, just the same.

image credit: danielle cornell

Flowers for Kindred Spirits

Yesterday I made the long trek from town back to my home beside the little river. It's a rather dreary walk, with a clutter of bored houses on one side and copious traffic on the other. I was just doing it, and infact reading on my phone as I did it - merely getting home. But at one moment luckily I glanced up, and everything changed. I saw the white jasmine.

I'd gathered flowers from this bush a couple of weeks ago, and so it was with the delight of a friend that I hurried to it again, shared heartsong with its leaves, gathered several of its gentle star flowers. Returning to my walk, I felt myself lighter with the happiness of carrying flowers.

Then I saw camellias. And the last of some frilly blue flowers whose name I don't know. I stopped to visit a lavender bush which has been so often my only friend on this walk. I caught sight of a pale pink briar rose in someone's garden and had to pause a while and blink back tears. Winter roses have a hallowed beauty, I think…