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Words I Just Finished Reading

The Kitchen House
The Atomic Weight of Love
We're All Damaged
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Wishful Drinking
News of the World
The Forgotten Garden
Out of My Mind
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
My Not So Perfect Life
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
The Lost Wife
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Anna and the French Kiss
Little Bee

Julie's favorite books »


Nourishment and Toothbrushes

I think I’ve been using Mando’s toothbrush.  

After purchasing a super-sized pack of toothbrushes a few months ago (thanks, Costco), I pulled out the first two at the edge of the package and victoriously popped them into our toothbrush holder.  New toothbrushes, done; adulting, check!  But after about three weeks Mando said, “Could you please change out one of these toothbrushes since the two you chose are pretty much the closest shades of blue I can imagine?”  Ugh.  FINE. 

So I demoted a toothbrush to insanely detailed cleaning (the sort of which I have no real plan to do).  I put in a green toothbrush.  One blue, one green, problem solved. 

Except life has been tightly packed these past few months, and it’s taken a toll on my both my mental state and my formerly well-established life routines.  Getting ready in the morning has me trying for a land speed record; at the close of the day I use my electric toothbrush and compliment myself on my excellent oral hygiene.  So every morning I have the brief thought, “Which one is mine?”  But there’s no TIME, so I just grab one and think while I’m using it, “I really should sort this out, or pull out a pink toothbrush, or somehow find the FIVE SECONDS required to solve this issue.”  Then Nolan runs in reminding me that it’s band day so he has to walk to school and Eli shouts that he has a negative balance on his lunch account and it's lunacy.  And in all this time, I’ve said nothing to Mando, hoping that one day we’ll be brushing our teeth together and I’ll magically remember to note which toothbrush he has in his hand.  This has been going on for a long time.  I once threatened to murder Mando in his sleep if he ever used my bath towel again, so the hypocrisy of my silence isn’t wasted on me.  Whatever.  There’s too much happening. 

I have no space in the margins.  Fall is always a busy time: adjusting to school, establishing new routines, choosing Halloween costumes.  This fall feels even more full as I’m helping with a school event and I have that new job and life keeps ticking along and people keep wearing clothes and needing to be provided with food and then spilling the food and then there’s the homework.  Life keeps dishing out the need for time and presence and energy, and so much of it is rich and good and deeply tiring. 

In a busy season I’ve been searching out even the tiniest windows of time.  And I have relished them, those pauses for exhales.  Because time is tight, I’ve been asking the question I should always be asking: does this nourish me?  Spending time intentionally, even in small moments, leads me to self-care, to soul-care.  It’s helping me to release a lot of the noise: Facebook scrolling, wasted emotion, and any attempts at perfection were the first to go.  I’m exploring the opportunities that are already before me, embedded in even the busiest of seasons.  I’m finding, if I’m paying attention, there are plenty of tasks that are nourishing because they tend to our lives, or love our people, or bless our homes.  Laundry, vacuuming, opening the window and letting in the first gasps of the fall air: sustenance.  I purposefully ride my bike over the fall leaves so I can hear them crunch underneath my tires.  I’m reading five minutes of a book outside, feeling the breeze and hearing the birds, instead of staring down at my little screen.  I am mining for meaning, for joy, for beauty.  I am asking myself, “Will it nourish me?”  And even more specifically, because life is so malleable and shape-shifting, “Will it nourish me today?”

There’s been a lot of talk of saying yes and saying no, but I prefer this new question.  I recently heard someone say that if it’s not a “Hell, yes,” then it’s a “No.”  But to me that felt limiting.  Because life is full of ambivalence and confusion and painful but healing moments; although it may seem paradoxical, sometimes tending to myself means putting others ahead of my own tyrannous needs.  I don’t say, “Hell, YES I want to have that awkward conversation with my child!”  But is it nourishing?  Absolutely. 

Right now I’m writing this while Mando is at the driving range with the boys.  And although I want to be with them, I sort of hate the driving range.  I’m growing to enjoy golf, but the driving range feels really, really boring.  So when we were talking this morning, I said, “I think I’ll stay home and write,” knowing that today, I would feel nourished by writing.  Another day it may have been a yes, because I could hit my requisite five shots and be done with it, content to sit in the sun and read while they practiced their swings.  But regardless of the outcome, it all begins with the question, the attention, the pause for consideration; it begins with the quiet, intentional practices that bring us back to ourselves and to the Spirit. 

So may fall usher us in to the slower moments we crave (or the tiny moments we carve out of our hectic, growing-children days), and may we fill them with nourishment, and sustenance, and joy.  May we, as John O’Donohue puts it, take refuge in our senses, and open up to all the small miracles we rush through. 

Happy Fall, friends. 


* * *

Editor’s Note: Mando just read this and said, “Do you seriously not know which one is yours?  It’s the blue one.  Mine is the green one.”  His eye roll was just his special way of saying he adores everything about me.  

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