I love writing these Armchair Chats—they are my way of virtually inviting you into my home, pouring you a cup of coffee, settling into the (very real) armchairs in my living room, and talking about what’s going on in our lives and what’s on our hearts. For the past few months, I’ve been toying around with the idea of moving these chats to a monthly email newsletter rather than housing them on the blog. Currently, the lovely people who are signed up to receive emails from me get each post delivered to their inboxes (so, about 2-3 a month). With this change, I’d send out just the one email every month, but I’d include a list of the posts I’ve written this month for your clicking and reading pleasure.
My desire here is to give some added value to my email subscribers, something that’s exclusive to them and that builds our relationship. I’m hoping that if I move to a newsletter format it will allow for more conversation, friend to friend and heart to heart.
Before I make any big changes, I’d love to know what you think about this idea. Could you take this 2-minute survey and let me know if you think this is a brilliant or terrible idea? I really value your feedback! (If the survey doesn’t show up for you below this paragraph, go ahead and click here.) Thank you!
Here’s what I learned, loved, and read in April.
What I Learned
- All that stress needs to get out. I posted on Instagram stories last week that whenever I have a life change coming up—even a good, exciting one—I always hit panic mode at some point. Not just minor worry, but full on panic: shallow breathing, racing heart, sometimes vomit, and always a desire to change my mind and haul it back to safety. Usually I try to muscle through mentally and emotionally, but this time, I went to Pilates class and walked out feeling like a different person. The more I learn to listen to my body, the more I see that energy is not as intangible as I once thought. It truly does build up in my blood, in my bones, in my spirit, and releasing that energy is necessary and good.
- Whole 30 is a lot easier the third time around. I’m in the middle of my third round, and it has been a breeze compared to the previous two (both of which were about three years ago). I think it’s because I’ve been doing so much work in my relationship to food in the last few years. I won’t lie: the main reason I’m doing Whole 30 is to lose a few pounds and reset my eating habits. I feel like what I’m learning most this time around is to simply be mindful of my eating choices. In mid-afternoon, I always reach for something crunchy and salty, and now I’m learning to ask, “If I eat this, will it make my body feel the way I want it to feel?” I also have a post coming soon about how Whole 30 helped me minimize decision fatigue.
What I Loved
- The Festival of Faith and Writing. I wrote all about it here, so I won’t repeat myself.
- Trader Joe’s Turkish Apricots. See “Whole 30” above. These are saving me in the tough moments.
- A Brief Guide to the Undernet (episode 192 of The Robcast). My favorite quote from the episode: “There is no correlation whatsoever between number of views and quality of content. . . . Maybe what you do inherently asks for way more commitment of people [as opposed to a viral video clip]. What you do in the world may require of people risk, cost, sacrifice, commitment, discipline, postponed gratification, intention. What you are here to give. . . might not reduce well to the limits and parameters of a cellphone screen.” And all the creatives living in the digital age said, “Amen.”
- This stage of parenting. I really love toddlerhood, but it has also been a long road of meltdowns, setting limits, creating boundaries, and trying our best to be calm, consistent, and respectful. In these last few weeks, I’ve started to feel like we are really reaping the benefits of all that hard work. I can sense a shift in Selah’s relationship to Dan and me: there is an even deeper trust and sense of security; she is starting to believe that we have her best interests in mind, even when we’re asking her to do something she doesn’t want to do; she knocks us over with hugs and kisses during playtime and even during meltdowns. Yes, there are still emotional explosions and limit testing. Yes, we still have to be hypervigilant about consistency. But experiencing the payoff is helping me stay patient and hopeful in the difficult moments.
What I Read
- Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I loved one of his previous books, A Man Called Ove, and I heard so much buzz about this one too. I was warned that this one is less whimsical and much darker, but holy cow—it’s dark. Not Gone Girl dark, but still hard to read at times, especially as the mother of a little girl. Basically, this book is about toxic masculinity and what we lose when we train little boys to be powerful, elite athletes. If we teach them to take what they want on the ice, on the field, to grab what they “deserve,” can they turn off that mentality when it comes to people? A haunting exploration of who holds power, who we believe, and the lengths we’ll go to in order to protect our loved ones.
- How to Fix a Broken Record by Amena Brown: Amena Brown is a powerhouse of voice and emotion—see for yourself in her Women’s Day video. In this collection of essays, she takes us through the lies she’s believed about herself and how she’s learning to break the cycle. Her voice is especially sharp in the second half of the book, and I found myself wanting her to write a whole book on each individual essay. I do wish the book had contained more of her poetry, but overall, I enjoyed learning from her and will read whatever she writes next.
What I Clicked
- “The Tower Bird probably saw all of it first hand. We also knew it wasn’t really there to make us safer (because we saw firsthand that it didn’t), but to remind us that we were being watched.” The Politics of Safety by Adrienne Garrison
- “I wish we lived in a nation, in a world, where a man shooting at a lost 14-year-old boy conjured universal revulsion. I wish we lived in a nation, in a world, where we felt universal outrage that two men were led away in handcuffs, their dignity and humanity stripped, for waiting at a Starbucks. We don’t.“ Starbucks Arrests, Teen Shot at for Being Lost Remind Us Some White People Don’t Think Black Lives Matter by Heidi Stevens
- “Where I see sandwiches made, toys patched, and birthdays celebrated, my children see me weaving wonder into their days. And it’s not because I’ve tricked them or put on a particularly good show; it’s because their vantage point is one of love, trust, and faith in their mother.” Making Magic by Jennifer Batchelor
What I Wrote
- We Kept Our Baby’s Name a Secret Because We Wanted Something Just for Us // Published on Motherly
- The Death and Resurrection of Faith: Reflections on Good Friday // Published on the MOPS Blog
- Armchair Chats // Permission to Revise Redux