Wednesday, December 30, 2020

20 Takeaways of 2020

 

That photo was taken at 1:15 am on January 1st, 2020. Two tired, happy, danced-out people thinking that intentionally partying away the old year and welcoming the new year would make a difference. 

Well, at the very least, I've had the happy memory of that fun night to carry me through this year that did make a difference -- but not in any of the ways we expected! We certainly won't be partying this year, and I do believe bedtime will be a sensible 9 pm. 

When I sat down to think about 2020 and my impressions of it, the ideas came out as words, rather than sentences. So instead of a long essay, here are some thought-provoking ideas (based on my experience with the pandemic from my safe bubble in rural Nova Scotia, my tuning into the news several times a day, and my reading on social media). 

(in no particular order)

1. Sacrifice

2. Hoarding versus care packages

3. Family

4. Neighbours

5. Grief

6. Connection

7. Isolation

8. Essential (services; travel; interaction) 

9. Acceptance

10. Resilience (teachers; students)

11. Courage

12. Death

13. Uncertainty

14. Common good

15. Zoom versus room (online vs. in person)

16. Comfort

17. Fear (abuse; violence; school as safe space)

18. Masks

19. Need vs. want (shopping)

20. Creativity (adaptability; technology) 


For me, when I think back on 2020, I’m conscious of the sacrifices others made for the common good, especially those working in essential services. Health care was obvious, but we suddenly recognized that employees at grocery stores and coffee shops are essential workers, too.

The pandemic reinforced my belief that acceptance is only ever the way forward; resistance and denial are the path of heartbreak, hardship, and grief.

Speaking of grief, the past year also opened up our thinking about letting go – reminding us that loss isn’t just about the death of a person, and we are all affected by grief, whatever the reason is.

In many ways, 2020 made us more compassionate, more considerate, and more aware. At the same time, wow – humanity lost a lot of ground, and squandered its potential, yet again. 

If we are going to learn anything from the year 2020, if we are going to work on anything in 2021, it’s THE COMMON GOOD. That's the way forward, but it's going to take a real commitment to stay changed -- to have seen our potential and to start pushing back on those who want the world to remain the same. 

In 2021, the phrase, "We're all in this together" needs to become a mantra, rather than a cliche. It needs to become imbedded in our cells, in our beliefs, in our interactions and in our policies. 

I honestly believe we came thisclose, we actually reached the edge of that possibility, we saw the shimmer of the other side, and I remain committed to my optimism that we can make the world a better place for everyone.

Perhaps I sound hopelessly na├»ve, and perhaps that's another takeaway for me from 2020: I am more hopeful than ever that we can change, and stay changed. 

Happy New Year, my friends. May this year be kinder and gentler to you, yours, and everyone. xo 

 


Thursday, December 24, 2020

O Christmas Trees

 
Here are the trees I painted using the cuts leftover from building our gazebo two years ago, specifically the plywood from making the octagonal roof. 
My little painted trees in amongst my favourite real trees, including the birch tree that has guided my Tree Pose during morning yoga for 14 years. 

So we have arrived at Christmas Eve and it's a beautiful day here in north-western Nova Scotia, bright and cold. Sunshine before rain and wind tomorrow. We have a windchill of minus 13 this morning -- but a high forecasted for 6 degrees! 

I was up early this morning because I hadn't yet written my message for tonight's service and I don't like waiting until the last minute! You never know what can happen so it's always best to have it done. So in the quiet and dark of early morning (after feeding the pets, of course, so they wouldn't harass me), I sat down at my desk with my mug of chai tea and wrote a short message for the Christmas Eve audience. Here's an excerpt: 

~ We heard these words in our opening song, O Holy Night:
“A thrill of hope – a weary world rejoices.”

We are weary, aren’t we? 
Weary of letting go, of giving up, of not knowing. 
Weary of the chaos and confusion, of the uncertainty and anxiety, of the protests and problems, the hatred and the violence. 

So much unravelled this year, in our own lives and in the world. 
Much of it we couldn’t control, and it felt like it was happening all at once. 
It was exhausting, and it’s still exhausting. 

 It feels like the end of the world as we know it.

And here’s the good news: That’s IS the good news. That IS why we are rejoicing this Christmas. 

Because that’s what Christmas is really about. The end of the world as we know it. 
The end of one way of living, and the beginning of a new way. 
The way of love.

Love is an all-encompassing word that stands for a whole lot of more specific words – and actions: 
Kindness. Mercy. Peace. Justice.
Fairness. Compassion. Equality. 
Acceptance. Tolerance.
Hospitality. 

The WAY of love is also specific: An end to oppression and persecution, an end to poverty and the rich-getting-richer, end of tyranny and war-making, and the end of hoarding abundance. 

This year has opened our eyes – and our hearts – to those who have less, those who are quiet and humble, those who are grieving, those who hunger and thirst for honesty and decency, those who work for peace and justice.

Those who are weary. 

And we, too, are the weary ones. We are shaken out of our complacency, we are seeing with new eyes, we are ready to follow that star – and believe.  ~ 

Even though many of us are in lockdown, or preparing for it, are separated from family and friends, are "stuck" at home with all the same faces since March, there are so many blessings to count. It is better to be grateful than regretful. 
I love the lights at this time of year. My favourite part of the Christmas season is early morning yoga by the glow of the Christmas tree lights. 
And listening to the soundtrack of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" every day since December 1! 

May your favourite rituals of the season bring you comfort. 
May the lights of the season remind you that the real meaning of Christmas shines clearly no matter what is going on in the world. 
May you remember that Christmas is only one day -- but its spirit carries us through every single day.

From my home to yours, have yourself a lovely little Christmas -- be safe, be well, be ready!
Sara xo 




Monday, December 21, 2020

Blessing for the Longest Night

December 21, 2020


 
Here’s the thing: 
there will always be a 
longest
darkest
night
(even in a year of long, dark nights)

and we are not the first 
nor will this be the last time
to live through
sleep through
breathe
cry
hold a hand
through
a long, dark, cold, lonely night

we lament the cold, the dark, the un-ending-ness
we keen, we cry, we rage, we rant
yet
there is nothing we can do
to stop the turning of the earth
the cycling of the seasons
the passing of the days
the moments flitting by

Here’s another thing:
even the longest, darkest night
has some light in it
a light at the end of the hall
a light next to the bed
a light above the door

there is always a glimmer of welcome
in the middle of a long, dark journey

lights along the street 
guiding us home

lights far above our heads
those infinite eternal lights
that twinkle and sparkle
(to our earthly eyes) 
even when we can’t see them

EVEN WHEN WE CAN’T SEE THEM

because our eyes are closed
our heads are bowed
we are looking down instead of up
where there is always
always
a light shining

even if today is simply not the day
to believe in the light we cannot see
and a tomorrow that won’t be much different

but 
those infinite eternal lights
that make us *gasp* 
when we happen to look up
look way up
(with our earthly eyes)
that speak to us of possibilities
and transformation
and courage

are always there

like breath
and tears
and laughter
a hand to hold
also a shimmer of curiousity 
not if 
but how
we will live through
the longest, darkest night
(even in a year of long, dark nights) 

there
in the radiance
of the unknown
we linger
realizing 
we are the light-bearers
(even in a year of long, dark nights)


~ by Sara Jewell

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Angel Socks

 

As we countdown to Christmas 2020, what some might call "the worst Christmas ever," here is a story about what some might call my "worst Christmas ever" -- yet it wasn't. Christmas is just another day…

Three years after my father’s diagnosis with what we now call Early Onset Dementia (he was 60 years old) and a year after the birth of his first two grandchildren, my mother and I made the difficult decision to place my father in a long-term care facility. It took us a couple of attempts, but finally, in early December, he was admitted to the locked unit for those living with dementia.

My mother deserved to spend Christmas with the grandkids in the United States, so I booked her a flight, and waved her off a week after her husband was settled in, and a week before Christmas.

Despite all suggestions, some rather pointed, that it would be better, I didn’t stay away from the nursing home in order to let my father “get used to it”. The last thing we wanted was for him to believe he’d been abandoned so I spent every morning and every afternoon sitting or walking with him around the unit and in the main hallways.

On December 21st, a Sunday, I went back to the nursing home after supper because the Rita MacNeil Christmas Special was on the television that night and she was my father’s favourite female singer (we’d attended her Christmas concert in Peterborough two years earlier). As the show began at eight o’clock, I sat next to him on one of the vinyl couches in the lounge but we were not alone. All twenty-two of the residents of the locked unit had joined us to watch this Christmas special. The nurses began to dispense bedtime meds and snacks. I looked around at all these now-familiar faces and realized, These are my people and this is my life now: spending a relaxing evening in the secure ward watching TV. I’m not sure if I stood out more for my youth or for the fact I wasn’t wearing pajamas.

It had been eight days since Dad was admitted to this small, 22-bed unit on the main floor and despite my presence, it was obvious missed his wife. Every day he woke up in an unfamiliar room that he shared with a stranger and spent his day surrounded by twenty-two people he didn’t know and couldn’t ever get to know, having his most personal needs taken care of by women who were not his wife. In the course of three shifts, my father could have been looked after by six different women.

I had taped the official George-and-Ellen Christmas card from to Dad’s closet door and one of the regular day PSWs told me she points to their framed pictures on the window ledge and tells him those are his grandchildren.          

I was fine until someone would say it’s going to be a rough Christmas then I’d remember why it should be. Only, it wasn’t going to be rough, at least not for me. Acceptance is a wonderful thing. It allows Christmas to be what it is. The year before, it meant open-heart surgery on my parents’ infant grandchild, George, and a vigil until he recovered. This year, it meant dinner at noon in the Alzheimer unit at a nursing home. Christmas meant visiting Dad in the afternoon and spending the evening with the Warings, long-time family friends who were the only people to invite me for Christmas dinner when I was on my own.

When I arrived at their home, with the families of their four grown boys scattered through the house and dinner not ready yet, Mrs. Waring handed me a glass of wine and invited me to sit down on the couch in the quiet living room. A very bulky hand-knit sock lay against the arm of the couch.

“That’s for you,” she said.

She had filled a stocking for me. I can no longer remember everything that was in it but I think there was foot cream and emery boards, chocolates, and the match to the sock that was stuffed, socks she’d knitted herself.

I call them my “angel socks” even though they aren’t what you’d expect from an angel. They aren’t white with gold thread, they don’t glow, they aren’t winged, they certainly don’t have magic powers.

Or do they? 

Because these socks immediately conjure up this memory of her kindness. I will never, ever forget what Mrs. Waring did for me that Christmas of 2005, for what was not necessarily a difficult time – but a different time.

Few people have the kind of Christmas that is advertised on television, showcased in made-for-TV movies and presented to us in magazines. Illness, disability, and death don’t pause because there is a tree to be trimmed and presents to be opened and a turkey to be cooked. For some of us, Christmas is a time to be passed through as quickly as possible because of sadness, loneliness and stress.

On a Christmas Day when I woke up alone in our house with my traditional stocking still packed away in a box, on a Christmas Day when I sat with my father in a locked unit and realized no one else had a family member visit them, on a Christmas Day when my father didn’t know how to unwrap his few gifts, Mrs. Waring gave me my best ever Christmas gift: the most meaningful Christmas ever, and the lasting memory of what Christmas is really about.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Home For Christmas

The Jewell family, 1994

 One of my favourite Christmastime songs is “I’ll Home For Christmas” – if only in my dreams. Yep, it’s a sad song, one of yearning and wishing and remembering.

I always think of this as my Vancouver song – it’s the song I paid no attention to until my mid-twenties, when I lived in that city for five years, and didn’t go home (to Ontario) for Christmas.

My only memory of my first Christmas in Vancouver in 1996 is bittersweet. It snowed on Christmas Eve – a rare enough event – and I remember waking up early the next morning and taking the dog for a walk through snowy downtown streets when it was still dark and quiet. It was beautiful and it felt special. Newly married, I was sorry I wasn’t sharing it with my husband.

What does a “perfect Christmas” mean? A dark and snowy walk on empty city streets can bring as much joy as emptying stockings in a living room full of people. Streetlights shining on thick snow carries as much symbolism as lights twinkling on a tree. Dwell on the peace in the midst of gentle heartache.

It wasn’t until my father died in 2009 and I was going through boxes of photos at my parents’ house, looking for pictures to create the slide show of his life, that I noticed a pattern: my father wore red and green every Christmas. I always knew of one photo: Dad walking through the kitchen wearing only a pair of white Joe Boxers, and a pair of bright red socks. But going through all the pictures at once, I saw that every Christmas, every year, he wore red and green.

And I never knew until then, when he was gone, how much Christmas meant that much to him. His love of family went far deeper than I ever realized, because he didn’t talk about himself, or share his thoughts and feelings.

What does a “perfect Christmas” mean? Instead of obsessing over if-onlys and could-have-beens, dwell on the joy of learning something new about someone you love. Feel the poignancy of photos and memories, and let them provide comfort and contentment.

Recently, my mother shared with me how sad their first Christmas was without their two daughters at home. It was just the two of them, alone in their big house, for that first Christmas we were not together as a family. This happens – we grow up, move way, make our own way in the world – and it’s happening this year in particular – many people are not going home for Christmas because we are choosing safety and caution over gathering.  

What does a “perfect Christmas” mean? Acceptance is key. Dwell on the love – even if it’s long distance – and know that Christmas is just one day. There are memories to think about, and even if Christmas is a party for one, or a smaller gathering, there is always ONE new memory to make and to cherish.

This year, there is not such thing as a “perfect Christmas”; this year, we are weary, we are worried, we are ready to be done with this nonsense – and we’re not even at Christmas yet! But this year is different; we are grieving and we are celebrating at the same time, in smaller numbers, alone, just us. And we need to accept that, and dwell on what really matters.

This is an opportunity to let go of expectations, to let go of pressure to be perfect. Whatever we do on Christmas Day – a snowy walk through empty streets, waking up alone in an empty house, or wearing your special clothes even though no one will notice – is perfect and meaningful to us.

Christmas is just one day… and sometimes it means singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, knowing it’s just a dream. Just remember: the peace, the joy and the love is real. 


Monday, December 14, 2020

It's the Most Wonderful Gift of the Year

Cheeky, aren't I?!

Wanted you to know that as of this coming weekend, there will be a mere dozen copies of A Jewell of a Cookbook available for local, doorstep delivery just in time for Christmas. Yes, local only - I'd sold out but did a rush, priority order because I just can't say No to anyone looking for a book. That order won't be delivered until late this Friday, and there are already eight pre-orders. 

The perfect last-minute gift! Guaranteed to make someone smile -- and laugh -- and salivate! 


Contact me by phone (902 447 2789) or by email: jewellofawriter "at" gmail.com 



Friday, December 11, 2020

Closing A Door


Here I am,
out standing in my field,
holding the latest issue of At Home On the North Shore magazine.

It's my final issue writing for At Home.
And that means -- the final Field Notes column. 



I can hardly believe I'm writing that, even though I've known since the summer that this column was likely coming to an end. And I don't mean moving to a different publication. 
Field Notes has come to the end of its natural life. Anything more and I'll be trying too hard, reaching for topics and ideas that simply aren't there, not the way they were. 

I began writing the Field Notes column bi-weekly in the Oxford Journal newspaper in 2011. When that closed, it moved to the Citizen-Record newspaper, and in 2017, the Field Notes column was picked up by At Home.
Not a bad run for a column in rural Nova Scotia.

It's hard to explain why I don't have anything more to write about; it's not as if all the interesting people have disappeared or I've told all the stories. Likely I can pin it on two reasons, which are kind of related: I'm getting out and about less, especially since last March, but more than that, it's that my work and writing interests have shifted. Teaching is becoming more of a priority, and a possibility, and I'm writing more about spiritual ideas. 

Also, I'm not doing anything new in my rural life; I haven't expanded it beyond the chicken coop or the river. We don't get out into the woods as much, we don't go biking or hiking. I've written about that -- rebalancing my inside/outside time. Actually, it's not that my rural life as changed, nor am I less contented with it; it's that the focus of my work is shifting.

The field is still my space for peace and quiet, for solace, for finding courage, for long conversations with myself as I work through problems, but those thoughts aren't necessarily about rural Nova Scotia, and finding my heart and home there. But perhaps a spiritual side of the field will give me a new direction. 

What I'm counting on is this belief: that in order to open a new door, you actually have to close one. You can't keep on foot on one threshold while trying to open a new door. You need to commit: Close the door on one way of living/working/dreaming -- and be patient as the new door reveals itself to you. 

The pandemic has changed so much, and many people lost jobs or dreams that really mattered to them. Everyone's lives have shifted in some way, some more dramatically and tragically than others. I realize I'm among the lucky who have been minimally affected; yet the pandemic altered my writing career. I just have to wait and see how. 

I keep returning to one of the quotes taped to the wall above my writing desk, one I've shared before but takes on new meaning during this time of pandemic: 
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey." 
~ Wendell Berry 

I feel curious about the future, and I'm nurturing -- enjoying! -- that feeling because it feels good. It feels right. 

Letting go is hard, but letting go has power to change your life. 


Monday, November 30, 2020

At the Edge of the Unknown


Poet William Blake wrote, “In the universe, there are things that are known and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.”

And those doors are each a threshold so when we stand on a threshold, waiting and wondering, we are in a LIMINAL SPACE. 

The space between then and now. The in between. 

The word LIMINAL comes from the Latin word, “limens”, meaning threshold. Edge. Doorway.

And now, as we near the end of 2020 – a most unsettling, unrelenting, unforgettable year, as we begin the Season of Advent in the Christian church – a time of preparation and anticipation and expectation – we are at the threshold in so many ways. 

This is a time of waiting, and wondering; a time of enduring; a time of just being – standing at the threshold of what was, without knowing what will come when we step through that door. The door to a new year, the door to a new presidency, the door to a vaccine to help us live with the virus that has ravaged so many lives and livelihoods, the door beyond the changes the pandemic forced and cannot be reversed. 

Yet this pandemic is not the first or only liminal space we inhabit as human beings. We experience liminal spaces all the time. 

A change of employment. 
A diagnosis.
Dying. 
Grief. 
Betrayal, with its time between what happened and moving on, waiting to forgive or be forgiven. 

At its very least, liminal space is most often a time of discomfort and an opportunity to take stock of our living. 

The experience of liminal space encourages us to pause, breathe and live in the moment. To recognize that change is always happening, and to give us space to adjust and adapt and move forward – through the door – into what is new and different. 

It is not easy, not when it so often comes because of loss. Whether it is the loss of a job, a dream, a pet, a partner, there is grief, sometimes deep enough to render the light a mere glimmer. The loss of hope is perhaps the hardest loss – for what is our future without hope? 

So as we head into the month of December, into this season of waiting, of preparation and anticipation and expectation, this holiday time of year when it is almost impossible to bear the weight of sorrow and longing and anxiety, 

let us find the holy in our days – the moments of joy, the breaths of gratitude. 

Let us acknowledge the liminal space in which we now live and accept this threshold as part of the house we create with our living and loving and letting go. 
Let us remember there is grace and courage in this space, even if we’re flooding it with tears.
Let us remember to breathe, and wait, and prepare
for the moment when we are invited to step over the threshold 
and through the doorway from that which is known and into the unknown. 

Together. xo 

~ SJ 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Be Kind to Gentle Authors


Tomorrow is the Pugwash Farmers' Market Outdoor CHRISTMAS Market: Sunday, November 15, 11 am to 3 pm.
It was supposed to go today but today is cool and damp; tomorrow won't be wet but it will be cold. I'll be wearing my thermal long underwear to block that north wind gusting through Pugwash from the Northumberland Strait! 
It's funny -- and fortunate -- how farmers' markets have been able to survive and thrive during this time of pandemic lockdown, slowdown, and restrictions. Far too often, we don't take these "homemade" and "handmade" vendors seriously, but they offer good food and good products in a safe environment. 

I'll be there with my cookbook -- and I'm afraid tomorrow is the day I'll sell out. There was a big demand for books yesterday, for some reason, so I have a limited supply for the market. I was so concerned about having too many books left over that I got caught short; I re-ordered last night but that shipment won't come for two weeks. 
I've become a mini-Amazon (without the billions): I'll be taking orders and telling customers "Ships in one to two weeks!" There are worse problems to have! 

A gentleman called yesterday to see if he could drop by the house and buy a copy for his wife's birthday. "We really enjoyed your Field Notes," he told me. I assured him this collection of stories and recipes were simply more of that kind of writing. 

Another woman messaged me on Tuesday night to say she was reading Field Notes for the first time and those stories were exactly what she needs right now, "given our current world". 

And yesterday, Jean Mills, whose latest young adult novel is set in Pugwash, posted on Instagram -- on World Kindness Day -- that "Writing YA fiction means always competing with the bestseller titles of gritty, sassy, edgy teen experience. But I hope readers (and librarians and influencers and book bloggers) know that there's a place for gentler, subtler, kinder stories too." 

We need feel-good stories; we need to read books that make us unclench our jaws, and even smile, books that help us de-hunch our shoulders and breathe in deeply, perhaps even belly laugh, books that we think about while walking and look up to the sky with a sigh of contentment, an exhaled "Yes" that we wish that story hadn't ended. 

As I told the Grade 1-2 class I was in the other day, the world needs more puppies, not more zombies!

What's more interesting, however, that I spent two days with a writing friend at her home in Cape Breton, and came away more resolved than ever that my days as a professional writer -- a freelance writer, an author publishing books -- are over. Yet it seems every time I commit to giving up publishing (to focus on teaching, and my death & bereavement studies), someone comes along and tells me they love my writing and that I must keep doing it. 

That's results in a different kind of looking up at the sky and sighing, let me tell you. 



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Blessing From the Road

The Canso Causeway links mainland Nova Scotia with Cape Breton Island
 

(inspired by my recent one-woman road trip to visit a friend in Cape Breton; by oneself for three hours there and three hours back is plenty of thinking and observing time) 

Remember this, 
when you are clutching the wheel 
and riding the gas pedal and the brake,
not sure whether to gear up or gear down,
or maybe even flip on the hazard lights: 

You can drive when it’s foggy,
when you can only see what is around you
(the present)
but you can’t see in the distance
(the future)
because you know it’s safe
to believe the road will rise to meet you
even if you can’t see it
It will unfurl itself 
even as you are reach it 

Sometimes silence as you drive
is soothing
and surprising
Other times,
you need to turn up the music

As Taylor Swift sings, 
“I’ve been having a hard time adjusting
I had the shiniest wheels
Now they’re rusting” 

Remember this,
behind that hovering fog is the light
burning away those misty droplets
to reveal a glimmer, a gleam,
a beam, a beacon
Of course, it reveals there are mountains to climb,
and the road is never flat,
never straight,
and not always easy

And Taylor Swift sings,
“Hell was the journey but it brought me heaven”

Even if your backseat is full of regrets and what-ifs
and bitter recriminations,
all three wrestling for their own seatbelt,
even if you have to shout 
I’m going to stop this car – 
(although you won’t)
Just roll down the windows
and let them fly out with the dirty napkins
stained with the words you say to yourself 

And Jann Arden sings,
“These are the days
There’s life in your soul
Although your struggling to stay afloat
With nowhere on earth to go”

The signs are everywhere:
Nova Scotia Strong
and you are strong,
a tank full of courage and sorrow,
resilience and longing
Grief is an asphalt ribbon
stretching out ahead for years,
controlled access
and always under construction

And Jann Arden sings, 
“There’s life in you yet
Although you’re lost in the mire and the hate
And the bitterness of losing your faith
There’s light in your eyes
Full of hope and grace”

Because there are signs,
if you keep your eyes open:
Marshy Hope,
and Be Prepared to Stop,
and most wonderfully,
Divided Highway Ends,
and we all heave a sigh of relief
and honk our horns
as our shoulders detach from our ears,
and we can hope again,
even if the ground is wet and spongy. 

And Taylor Swift sings,
“I had a marvelous time ruining everything” 

Yet these are the days
when the holy moments 
are found in the fog
and the cloudless blue sky
in the chitchat at the gas station
and the four-fingered waves on country roads
where everyone thinks they know you
in the six eagles soaring over the causeway
in a slipstream between human and divine
and your white knuckles ease on the wheel
and you yield to the journey
as your spirit merges with the destination 
as a bridge from here to there

~ Sara Jewell 

Monday, November 02, 2020

The Shipping Department

 

Meet the supervisor of the shipping department! What else could I expect when I turn my dining room table over to the work of wrapping and taping and labelling? Lucky for me, only Leonard is the supervising type; I couldn't get any work done if all three cats felt they had to closely supervise this work. 

The books are selling well, but what I'm most grateful for is the enthusiastic response to the book. I knew there were people out there who like Field Notes, and like my style of writing, but the whole "Yay, another book!" response certainly fills my heart with joy. 

I had to do a second printing already, partly because I wanted those books to arrive before the election in the US tomorrow -- just in case. 
I've declared a moratorium on the news for the next two days. I'll check in on Wednesday morning before I head off to substitute teach but there's no point in becoming anxious about something over which I have no control; I can't say it doesn't affect me because I have family in Georgia, but as we say in the Jewell family, "Don't worry until there's something to worry about." 

Instead of the news, I'll simply watch the cats play in the packing paper. Here's Millie wondering what all the fuss is about. She'd rather have her nap in Nana's quiet room. 





Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Buy Local Matters More Than Ever


These are more efficient ways of reaching me -- and there is no security question with the e-transfer. A couple of friends have used a different email to send me money and it's been delightful seeing what they chose as a question -- the joys of friendship! 

The fun thing about this, and the hard work of self-publishing, is being everyone! I'm the writer, the editor, the photographer, the proofreader (although I also delegated this to Mother, who did a fantastic job), the typesetter, the formatter (is layouter a word?), the head of marketing and promotions, the head of sales, AND the entire shipping department -- although I get to delegate trips to the post office, too. 

Whew! This certainly has given me a new appreciation for book publishing. But I find that I love it. 

What's interesting is this: Creatives and artists - like writers and musicians - are having to find new ways of producing their work and reaching their audience. My friend and neighbour, singer/songwriter Christina Martin, just announced a virtual Christmas concert, with tickets $10. It's her first ticketed event. Everything else she's offered since the pandemic lockdown began, and live music venues shut down, has been supported through grants. 

Like me putting out my own book on my own, Christina is looking at other ways of generating revenue when our sectors have hit the pause button. 

It's scary, but also exciting -- in a scary way. I find producing this book, and getting to send it out into the world to my faithful readers and followers keeps the scary in check. Doing something gives me a sense of control that doing nothing doesn't have. 

I think, too, about the artisans who make mugs and paintings and all sorts of other handmade creations. They've lost their markets and festivals this year; like me, like Christina, we can still sell online but it's connecting with people there in a virtual world where we are bombarded with information and visuals and "sponsored" posts. 

It's really tough, but doing something helps. And you buying something from a creative and an artist -- a book, a ticket, a mug, a scarf, a necklace, a painting -- helps even more. 





Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Jewell of a Cookbook

 

Here she is, folks! 

My new book. 

I have three books on submission, a collection of essays that's been rejected a couple of times, plus the rejection of Field Notes 2 and the Field Notes cookbook a few years ago. 
What's a girl to do but take matters into her own hands and put out her own book? 
This is one way to take control of my creative life, my work and my goals, and reconnect with my loyal readers again. 

If you enjoyed Field Notes, you'll enjoy the 15 stories (essays) in this book. Same style, same humour, same cast of characters. 

Along with the stories about food are 40 of my favourite recipes. Including the famous oat cakes! I also added black and white photos, and I think they are delightful. 
If I'm honest, I think this book is delightful! I'm very pleased with how it turned out. 

This book represents three months of intense work -- and it is worth every hour and every dollar. Let me tell you, I have a new appreciation for what goes into creating a book and getting it out to the public; I think I quashed my mother's dream of starting a publishing company. 
I was writer, photographer, editor, transcriber, proofreader -- with an assist from Mother -- typesetter, formatter... and now the entire marketing and promotions department! 
I really enjoyed making A Jewell of a Cookbook and I hope you enjoy reading it. 
You get a quality product for $20

For those of you who live near me, I'll happily deliver - it will be great to see you again. 
Otherwise, the cost includes postage. (However, if going to England, postage is $20 because the book weighs over 200g.) 

I'm taking payment by cash, cheque or e-transfer. 
I'm not keen to put certain information on the blog, as I'm sure you understand, so please email me using the "CONTACT ME" link in the top right hand corner (note: that email is not the one to use for the e-transfer) and we'll work out the details. 
As soon as I receive payment, I'll put A Jewell of a Cookbook in the mail. 

Thank you in advance for your support. It's truly appreciated. xo  






Friday, October 23, 2020

A Hint About What I've Been Doing


My Super Secret Summer Sanity Saver project arrived ten days before expected. Wow! That was a much-needed boost and now it means I can announce what it is AND have it in my hands. I'm excited to hold it; the improvements I made based on the proof copy have improved it so much and it was worth all the effort. 

Leonard was very quick to inspect the two boxes but he was most delighted with all the packing paper and had a long nap after we were finished ooohing and aaaahing over the finished product. 

This feels so good...Can't wait to share it with you on Saturday! 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Visiting the Maples


These are the two maple trees back in the woods on the old road that runs from our house deep into the woods. The road used to go all the way through to the other road, used to be called Porter Road (I wish it still was, because that would be our address), and used to have houses along here.

People lived way back here? 
A friend of mine lives in a house that was moved from back here! 

It's hard for me to believe when I walk back there, what is now - sadly - "just" a logging road, that there were at least two houses here. 
But thankfully, because of one of those houses, these two gorgeous maple trees are still here. No one has cut them down because they are right on the edge of an old house foundation. They are saved by the relic of a long-ago time. Imagine: these trees might have been in the front yard of the house, overlooking the road regular people -- rather than single-minded loggers -- actually used for their daily living. 
Just a couple of years ago, the man who owns this particular land came to thin the spruce plantation that he planted around the old homestead. I was sure these trees would be cut down; after all, that's what we do, right? Cut down everything. I wrapped my arms around these trees and sobbed as I apologized to them, thanked them, told them I would miss them. 
But they were saved! Imagine my delight when I walked back again, just before cutting was to start, and saw the area around the trees taped off. 
So I continue to enjoy them, and thank them. 
When the dog and I walk back into the woods, in any season, we reach the beaver brook and I say, "Let's go say hello to the maples." 

It was in front of these trees, after a rain storm, that I found a horse shoe lying in the dirt of the old road. They are lucky trees. And I am lucky they were saved. 

What stories could they tell me? 


**Can I give you a hint about the stories I'm going to tell? 

I've been very busy juggling three jobs, plus my online course, and was able to announce on my Facebook author page that I was postponing the announcement of my new project. Then the project was delivered ten days ahead of schedule! So on Saturday, in this space, I'll announce what I've done with some of my stories. 


Monday, October 12, 2020

Giving Thanks For You

 

My friend Ethel sent me this quote this morning; she said it made her think of me and no wonder! I love it. It's from acclaimed Italian actress Eleonora Duse (1858-1924): 
If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy,
if a blade of grass springing up in the field has power to move you,
if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand,
rejoice, for your soul is alive.

Thank you, Ethel. That is perfect. And on this perfect autumn day, it's yet another reminder of why I love where I live.

And on this Thanksgiving Day,
allow me to thank you,
everyone who comes to this blog and reads these posts. 
Those of you who have been here since this blog launched in 2011,
who discovered me after Field Notes, the book, was published in 2016,
and who found me through the column in At Home On the North Shore magazine.

Thank you for reading the ideas and the stories I share. 

In the summer of 2019, I decided to give up writing. I’d finish the books I was working on,
but I wouldn’t write anymore unless any of them sold. I worked away on them, then the pandemic shut everything down and I kept writing – what else was I going to do? 

(I did submit them. There are three books on submission right now, but I have no idea when, or even if I'll ever hear back about any one of them, let alone three.)

Thank you for being part of my writing life. 
The focus of my living and my writing is shifting. I’m sure how but I can feel it shifting. It may result in a sharpening of focus of my writing, but it could also mean a letting go of the writing; getting a full-time job is becoming more of a draw as I grow weary of the constant hustle and financial instability of three freelance jobs. 
For now, I’m carrying on with the words. As I said, what else am I going to do?

Well, later this week, I'm going to reveal what else: my "Super Secret Summer Sanity Saver Project" that has kept discouragement and despair at bay because it gave me a reason to sit down at my desk and open up a file full of stories… 


Friday, October 09, 2020

Things I Will Miss When I Die

A locally-made apple & wine cider from Truro, Nova Scotia
 

Here's a little follow up to yesterday's post about a bucket list and what we want to do before we die. 

In my early writing days, every so often, I did an exercise called “What I’ll Miss When I Die” and it was just a list of things, done free flow, hand written. Two things I loved about writing the list: 1) It showed me what mattered to me at the time, and 2) One thing led to another without me thinking too hard. 
Watch: 
- strawberries
- homemade strawberry jam on toast 
- toast
- honey
- bees

None of those are “to do” things; just things I’d miss when I die, as they came to me. Sometimes the list would be thirty items long.
In a way, it was a kind of gratitude list before “radical gratitude” was a thing. (Ah, me, always ahead of the curve without ever knowing it!)
This kind of list appeals to me more than trying to come up with, and fulfill, a bucket list, but than again, I’m introverted, lazy and not brave so – 

Every so often, over the last couple of years, I've thought about starting the practice again, just sitting down and making the list. What does it say that I haven't done it? That I never get around to it, never make the time to sit with my notebook and write a list that is essentially my favourite things about my life now? 

What I will miss when I die - October 9, 2020: 
- sunshine
- red leaves
- squirrels
- finches
- Paula Red apples
- apple pie
- raisin pie
- birthdays
- chocolate cake
- carrot cake 
- ice cream
- ketchup potato chips
- fried potatoes
- pink wine
- chickens
- feathers
- eggs
- books
- pencils
....and I could go on but that's less than five minutes of realizing how much I love food but also how great my life is and that I'm not ready to leave it (although if I had to, I would be accepting of that, too). 

Also, there is something about writing the list by hand, seeing one's own handwriting in ink, that makes the list feel more personal, revealing, and meaningful. 



Thursday, October 08, 2020

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die

Dwayne flew my best friend, Sarah, down for my
surprise 40th birthday party in the spring of 2010

This fall, I decided to get a Certificate in Thanatology, which is the study of dying, death and bereavement. Assignment 4 in the first course, Introduction to Thanatology, asks me about my Bucket List. 

The term "bucket list" was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham for his 2007 movie, "The Bucket List". Technically, a bucket list is made when you are told you have x-number of months left to live. But as we do in our culture, we now use the phrase to refer to anything we want to do, even if it's easily accomplished next weekend. 

I don’t have a bucket list. If I did, I would have checked off the one and only item already: Be an author before I die. (Whew!) Of course, I’d like to publish more books but that’s out of my hands, especially now with publishing hitting the pause button because of the pandemic. 

Besides, anything I’d put on a “Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die” require a long commitment of time, money, and/or travel (the last of which is totally kiboshed by the pandemic):

- I’d like to have a pet pig and a couple of pet goats

- I’d like to have a donkey sanctuary

- I’d like Dwayne to see the Pacific Ocean (he went to Peggy’s Cove for the first time in 2019!)

- I’d like to take my mother to Ireland for her 80th birthday (next June – egads!)

- I’d like to live in Italy or Greece

A few years ago, I took horseback riding lessons, which could count as a Bucket List item if I’d been thinking in terms of “end of life”. I was thinking more of fulfilling a lifelong dream from childhood (like getting a pet pig) and overcoming a rather vague fear of large animals – it also became a “Summer of the Horse” column. 

I’d love to have a pair of horses so Dwayne and I could ride around the field but that’s another thing that requires  money. 

I asked my best friend, Sarah, if she has a Bucket List and she doesn’t either. “But we are going on a road trip,” she said but even then, we have no specific place we HAVE to go. I think at this point in our lives – we both turned fifty earlier this year – we’re influenced by one idea: We’re too old for this shit any longer. We're just going to do what we want, say what we want, and go where we want. 
For the assignment, however, I'm counting that as a Bucket List item: Road Trip with Sara.
 
In the weeks leading up to my milestone birthday in May, I asked myself what do I want to do in the next ten years. What one thing do I really want to accomplish before I turn 60?
And all that came up was: Publish another book (or more books). Being a writer is what I love and it suits the life I have -- and love -- here in rural Nova Scotia. 
Again, this pandemic has affected that work, and those hopes – I can’t do anything about publishing hitting the pause button but I also can’t do anything about the ideas in my head and the urge to share them. 

This assignment reminded me of what I realized back in April, in the lead-up to my 50th birthday: I am satisfied with my life. 

I’ve done a bit of travelling but never had the travel bug; I’ve lived in other places in Canada, rather than staying in the same place my entire life; I’ve been married twice, and lived in the city and the country and in-between so I know where I belong and with whom – and why; I have wonderful friends, some of whom have been in my life for thirty years; my mother lives with me and she’s a healthy, wisecracking, good-natured 79-year-old – I’m grateful and blessed we get along; I have a river on my doorstep and 72 acres behind the house, I get to see the sun rise and set; I have chickens and cats and a dog; and I live in a large house where I have my own writing space that is filled with books.
 
There is nothing I want or need to do. I am lucky. So when I’m dying, and looking back on my life, I won’t be wishing I’d lived in Italy or swam with dolphins or went on an Alaskan cruise. Sure, those would be great memories, but they aren't necessary to my life well-lived. When I die, I will go in the assurance that I was happy and loved and did work that mattered to others. And I was an author. 

If I’m lucky, my best friend will be there with me, and I’ll die laughing as we remember our epic road trip to wherever. 



Friday, October 02, 2020

A Blessing At the Beginning of October


Now that we are in October -- that bridge month of vibrant colour and cool, starlit nights that carries us from the heat and lushness of summer into the dark, stripped-down days of November -- here is a blessing I wrote as we continue to learn new ways of living with the pandemic, and political, upheaval and uncertainty. 

Do not give up.
This is life, 
and it is blessed
even when it is hard.

Do not give up. 
You are loved,
and you are blessed,
even when you are scared. 

Do not give up.
You are healed,
and it is a blessing,
even when you don't feel it,
because healing is love and peace
and a moment of joy
even when there are tears and pain.

Do not give up.
You are beloved,
you are known,
and you are not alone. 


~ Sara Jewell 





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Mother's New Pets

 

In July 2019, I took photos of a sweet mama raccoon on our front deck in the rain, eating the peanuts for the squirrels that I would hide behind the shovel so the blue jays -- greedy buggers -- wouldn't get them. 

I suspect that sweet mama is the raccoon that was hit by a car out front of our place, and I suspect these cuties, who are young, are her babies born in the spring. 

Mother feeds the finches and the squirrels on her balcony all summer (I know, I know) but once the blue jays returned, she had to put the squirrel platter under an inverted basket with holes cut out.

We call it "The Squirrel Cafe". Seriously. It's a thing. 

So these cuties climb up onto Mother's balcony every evening to raid the cafe (and freak out our three cats). They are not all that afraid of us; in fact, when I opened the sliding door to take a photo, the one of the left started to walk to the door -- as if I was inviting it in!

I might have been raised on "Frosty the Raccoon" but even I know better than to try and make a pet out of a raccoon. At least one I didn't rescue as a day-old baby... because those capable little hands... 

Note: If Mother starts to keep her door closed, and refuses to let the cats and dog into her room, I'll KNOW she's brought those two little cuties in for the winter! 




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dressing For the Living

The river shawl

I'm not sure what verb to use to describe this new work I'm doing. 
Do I...
conduct
perform
provide
do
...a funeral? 

I like the word "provide" because I'm using my talents and skills to be in service to someone in need. I am providing support, comfort, guidance, and reassurance on a most difficult day. A day that we dread -- the final goodbye -- but a day that is so important, so vital to our moving from the death and into life after death. 
I base my work on this belief: Done well, a funeral is a strong and essential memory that, over time, helps us heal the wound of loss and the ache of that wound. 

So, last Friday morning, I provided a graveside service for the family and friends of a man who passed way after a sudden, and brief, illness. His wife is a member of my church congregation, and someone who makes a point of messaging me with words of gratitude and encouragement. 
My turn to provide encouragement and comfort to her. 
I was honoured she asked me to do the service, and grateful she trusts me and my words. 
Now, the interesting part of doing funerals is what to wear? For a minister, it's the same outfit for every event: black pants, black shirt, white collar. But for me, I have to think hard about the image I present. 

This is how I was raised: That appearances matter and one should look professional. 
This is what I believe: Dressing nicely and being well-groomed is a sign of respect. We are a visual species -- we judge what we see, even before someone opens their mouth -- so dressing well tells others I take my work, and myself, seriously. I'm not an ordained minister so this provides me with credibility.   
Respect for the dead, and respect for the grieving. 

Since it was a sunny but cool morning and we were outside, in this town that a river runs through, I chose my white swallow dress and wore the river pattern shawl my friend Kerry knitted as a 50th birthday present. It gave me comfort and confidence as well, knowing I'd be facing a grieving woman I consider a friend, and also many people that I know. 

Afterwards, I overhead a woman -- a stranger to me -- say, "That was a lovely service. It was better than any funeral I've been to."
I don't share that out of ego, but out of relief and gratefulness -- because I got it right. It's my reassurance that the service I provided was the right one. That response means someone will think of the service I've provided, and feel good about it, feel better about the passing of their loved one, be comforted in the weeks and months to come by how we honoured their person, how we celebrated their life, and how we said good-bye. 

And it may have been better than any funeral that woman went to, but it certainly wasn't better than my father-in-law's funeral back in July. His funeral was perfect -- perfect for him and his life, perfect for his family, especially for my husband, and perfect for me to study and aspire to, because it was memorable, in its full-on funeral tradition. 

According to poet, author and funeral director, Thomas Lynch, of Michigan: 
"A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living where they need to be. There's no easy way to do this. So do it right: weep, laugh, watch, pray, love, live, give thanks and praise; comfort, mend, honor, and remember. Grief is the price we pay for being close to one another."

Amen. 


 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Taking Down the Prayer Flags


 The season is changing. 

My morning walk now begins at seven o'clock, just as the sun crests the trees on the other side of the river. This means I get to wave at Debbie, the bus driver, as she heads up the road to start her route. 
The mornings are gorgeous, but it means my work days begins later than it should. I'm not ready to shift yet from the morning walk in the crisp air to morning yoga in the living room, and the treadmill in the basement. 

We had two nights of frost, and all the flowers are done. The red poppies that suddenly emerged in the middle of the messy lawn where the two spruce trees blew down last year are shriveled up into memory. 
I was able to salvage enough sunflowers for two bouquets for church, and one more for the house. They are dripping pollen all over the dining room table. 
The chickens are able to roam outside the pen now, in the yard, in the cucumber patch. 

A husband and friend died this morning, and I know those who are grieving. My own husband sat down on a concrete block in the sunshine, to think about the news. Death is closer to home these days. 

The prayer flags are down, tucked away safely as the tropical storm that was Hurricane Teddy gets set to arrive tomorrow. I listened to the sound of their gentle flapping throughout our hot, dry summer. Now I'll listen to the rain and the wind. 

The sun shone today and it is warm. It is always the way before the storm arrives, and afterwards, we'll wake up to another sunny day, as if the storm never happened. 
The chickens peck at the grass and climb up the steps to the back deck. They follow me across the yard, hoping I have bread in my pockets, and curious as to what happens next. 


Friday, September 18, 2020

River Supper


Something happens
in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty,
in the middle of the familiar routines and new protocols,
at the end of a weekend,
at the end of the summer,
and you don't expect it. 

You don't even see it coming.

You arrive and greet everyone, 
you accept a glass of wine and help pass around 
bite-sized bacon-wrapped chestnuts and mushroom-cheese melts. 
The host hops in your husband's truck to go light the bonfire
and the hostess rallies everyone in the kitchen to carry food. 

You are handed a foil-covered pie 
and you follow the path through the woods to the gravel road 
that winds down
and down
towards the river. 

At the end of the walk, the pie still safely in your hands,
you come around a wide copse of poplar trees
who leaves are rustling in the evening wind,
the sound of water rushing in a stream,
and you see it before you:

a table covered in bottles and beverages,
a bonfire and a barbecue,
the field and the trees. 

Two men in conversation. 

Your breath catches in your throat and you think,
This. This is what I've been missing. This is what I've been craving.
This is what I need right now. 

This spot.
These long-lost friends. 
This sunset meal. 

Supper by the river. Hamburgers and sausages, sweet potato salad and green bean salad. 
Wine. Mint water. Iced tea. 
Pie.

I've never done something like this. 
We're so used to gathering on decks that this -- what words describe it? It felt like entering another world. It felt like coming home.
I don't know why I felt like that. I don't know why my heart leaped. I don't know why I exhaled like I'd been holding my breath for a very long time.

Perhaps it was just the unexpectedness,
the visual impact of the space,
the al fresco setting,
all coming together in that moment,
during this time
when gathering
is done with caution. 
Outside. Where it's safe to breathe.

That's it: This was abandon. This was freedom. This was elemental. 
Sky. Earth. Water. Fire. 
Friendship. Food. 
And laughter. 

All the while, the river flowed past us,
the tide rising,
as always, not unexpected, 
like our breath,
and we didn't even notice.



Thursday, September 10, 2020

Our Season of Sunflowers

The Giant Russians alongside the chicken coop



Despite knowing they won't be here for long,
they still choose to live their brightest lives.
~ Rupi Kaur

We've reached the end of the sunflower season and what a season it was. Our best ever in the seven years we've been growing sunflowers on our property.
For the first few years, they were small patches here and there -- in front of the chicken coop, or in a strip alongside the vegetable gardens. For the past five years, Dwayne has planted six rows -- 400 seeds! -- on the lot next door by the road. 
People ask, "Why do you plant so many sunflowers? Do you sell the flowers? Do you sell the seeds?"
It's not a business venture at all. We do it because it makes people happy. We live on a busy road so lots of people watch the progress from tilled soil to sprouts to the first blossoms. All through June and July, people would stop Dwayne in town and tell him about how well his plants were growing! 

I decided to plant sunflowers in the "dirt bath" area I created for the chickens along the sunny side of the coop -- a spot they've not yet used because they prefer my flower gardens! Once they are let out into the yard for their fall forage, I figure they'll see the sunflowers and make a beeline for the dirt underneath them. 

Speaking of bees, I'm not seeing as many this year as in previous years. In fact, every year, there are fewer and fewer bees. Over in Dwayne's patch, I should be able to hear the buzzing of bees flitting from flower to flower but sadly, it's too quiet. Only the occasional bee, instead of a bee per blossom. 

We need to pay attention to that, unless it's really too late. 

Dwayne's sunflowers are visible from a half a kilometre away.





Friday, September 04, 2020

In This House

 


It took me all summer, but I finally finished the signs inspired by my niece, Mimi, who made the same ones that her father nailed to a tree in the front yard of their Atlanta, Georgia, home. 

Only I can't bring myself to nail them to the pine tree by our driveway because our winter weather will be hard on the signs, even if they're lacquered, and I just don't want to drive nails into my tree. I'll have to work out how to wire them together then hang them from one or two nails. 

For now, my easel works perfectly as a display since these signs inspired this week's church message: In This House. They're in my kitchen right now but on Sunday morning, those signs and that easel will travel into town to the sanctuary where I get to say, "In THIS house, we believe..." 

You better believe it. I'm getting a little radical but you know what I say: I'm too old for this shit. We don't have much time left to fix this world and start living like decent human beings. We know how we are supposed to live; we simply choose not to do it. 

Please: Love your neighbour. Take care of each other. Don't be an asshole. 

That last one is from the Gospel According to Sara. 


Thursday, September 03, 2020

Inspiration


Inspiration is everywhere these days. I received a text this morning from a friend who bought Field Notes, the book, a couple of years ago, but moved -- and didn't find the book until she unpacked! 
Receiving her text and another friend's email inspired the following: 

These are discouraging days for everyone. A teacher friend who has started back to work in Ontario emailed me last night to say she didn't phone because she was in a crying kind of mood, "all work-related, everything's fine, just overwhelming".

Yeah. These are the days of the "crying kind of moods". Our work lives are complicated, even disheartening, at the best of times, let alone now, in the worst of times.

I'm filtering this through my personal experience as a writer to illustrate what we need to do: Reach out to each other and give a compliment. Right now is the right time to tell someone they are good at what they do.

Every day I wonder if I'll ever publish another book. I try to be okay with that, but honestly, I'm not okay with that - but I don't know what else to do. This morning, I received a note that read, in full:
“Good morning! I finished Field Notes last night – I loved it!! It is like you have taken the words from my own heart and put them on paper…so many similar stories ha ha. I even have a Christmas tree ornament I bought here years ago with the word “Laugh” on it. Scary & awesome. The story Funeral For A Mouse made me cry, I really felt that one. And the stories of you driving the car and teaching in the outdoor school made me laugh out loud ha ha. Such a good read – I will treasure this book!”

A book to treasure. Oh, my heart. 
It's amazing how one simple yet joy-filled text can give a person the energy to keep going, can help a person believe in themselves and what they do, even when everything is overwhelming.

We can't hug with our arms so let's hug with our words.

These are hard days but you are good at your job. Whether you're a teacher, a nurse, a barista, a janitor, a cashier -- just to name a few -- your work matters and makes a difference. Even if you don't see it, you will make a difference in at least one person's life each and every day. Keep going. Keep doing what you do. You are good at what you do. 

We need you.

Even when you're in a crying kind of mood.


~ by Sara Jewell, originally published on Facebook