Here’s a short, sweet poem by one of my favorite poets:
Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.
~ Billy Collins, Horoscopes for the Dead
This poem reminds me of the Frog and Toad memes I started seeing on the Interwebs about a year ago: a Gen Z reaction against hustle culture.
I’ve always operated like the hare in Collins’ poem. But I’ve envied the tortoise and have realized how wise he really is. We’re all racing somewhere. Racing to the job title. Racing to the accolades. Racing—and stressing and worrying along the way—to whichever status symbol that tells the world we finally made it.
But who really cares?
The world is so much bigger than us and our precious little myopic egos. It’s healthy to zoom out far away from ourselves and hold on to that perspective. It’s humbling, but it’s calming, too.
A friend shared this in a moment of frustration, and I laughed. So true though, right?
Once we cross a finish line, we manufacture another “finish line” to race toward. And then we go on social media, see what others have done, and feel inadequate all over again. Then we dream up new benchmarks. It goes on and on.
And it’s exhausting.
Sure, we can set goals and strive for them. But that requires balance. We need to remember to stop by the roadside once in a while. Touch the soft grass, feel the breeze and warm sun on our skin.
Like Frog and Toad:
My goal is to do this more myself. And I’ve been surprised by how hard it is after being conditioned to rush and race from one task to the other for so many years.
So slow down. Be present. Enjoy the journey and stop to marvel at the insects along the way.
There’s no rush.
Jon has finished inking page 40 of Three Bee Honey—hooray! Progress has been slower than we’d hoped, but we’re inching closer each day.
Here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages with Claire, Hannah, and Abi learning about the waggle dance:
Recent Read: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
I read this book back in college. And now that I’ve had more life experience under my belt, I felt it was worth revisiting, and I’m enjoying it even more. I also wanted to re-read it since it recently stirred up so much controversy and has even been banned in school districts around the country. The Bluest Eye explores beauty standards and racial identity. It’s about a Black girl named Pecola who is growing up in the Jim Crow South. She dreams of having blue eyes because she feels that will make her beautiful, and in that yearning, we see the pain and tragedy that inspires it.
Toni Morrison’s prose is both beautiful and raw. Every book I’ve read by her is filled with passages that make me slam on the breaks, reverse, and re-read because I’m so shocked she actually “went there.” While her stories aren’t for the faint of heart, and this one explores many uncomfortable topics (definitely not for young ones), they cut to the core of human nature with devastating elegance and should be read by as many people as possible. I highly recommend this book!
Lilo enjoying a lazy moment (and a cozy sweater) as her mom works.
Finn keeping an eye out for his special outdoor cat friend.
Our blood oranges are back in bloom, which means some yummy juice in the mornings. In the past, we’ve made marmalade with the fruit, but life is just too crazy at the moment, so maybe next year.
Circling back to the poem by Billy Collins, one of the things I love to do when I want to slow down is going on walks.
When I’m in the office or working from home, I try to take a break and go outside to clear my head. Just a 10 minute walk works wonders.
If you can, squeeze in one 10 minute walk into your daily routine: before work, during the work day, or after. If we can spend 10-30 minutes doom scrolling, we can manage a short walk. :)
It’s well worth the effort.
Welp...that’s all for this month. Thank you so much for reading!
I’ll be in touch again in February. :)
In the past years, each time I heard a staff meeting facilitator ask us to “remember our why,” my eyes would roll, and an “ugh” would gurgle up from my throat.
My “why” giving me headaches.
I’ve realized that it’s so easy to be cynical. In fact, that’s my default mode. I have to work hard and push myself to not be that way. While I think there is a valid reason for some cynicism, it can quickly spiral out of control. As a parent, it’s not the greatest mindset to model either. A “why” gives us purpose and motivation. It feeds our need to feel hope. Although there are parts of cynicism I like (such as my dark sense of humor), I need to keep that side of me in check. Constantly.
With that said, here’s a poem that helped me feel more connected to my “why.” It’s not a “professional why” or a “creative why”--it’s more existential than that. Once I read it a few years ago, it stuck with me as a favorite.
“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
I have found myself asking, “What kind of world did I bring my kids into?” A world full of hate and fear and suffering and chaos. Yes, it feels bleak at times. Yes, I lay awake at night sometimes wondering how they will navigate through this.
When I get overwhelmed, my mind goes back to that line: “This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.”
Smith is right: despite the ugliness we see, there’s still hope. Why? Because we can always discover and nurture what’s beautiful.
The “good bones” are harder to find these days, but they are still there. Despite the noise, there are many people quietly and tirelessly doing what they can to spread the good.
It’s up to us to see the good.
For your viewing pleasure, here is the video.
We’ve completed our Crowdfunder and surpassed our 2nd and final stretch goal. Woohoo!
You may have noticed that we re-opened the Crowdfundr website. We had to temporarily activate the storefront due to some issues a few supporters had with their transactions. Some transactions (processed with Stripe) labeled the contribution as “TikTok,” which caused confusion for several of our supporters and their banks. Luckily, we were able to get ahead of this and make sure to clarify what happened.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase a book, visit our site and get one asap!
Now, Jon is working hard at illustrating the remaining pages. Then it’s time to color. Once that is complete and we check that everything looks good, we’ll send it off to printing! 🥳🥳
Recent Read: Stamped (for Kids), by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul
My youngest son read this book, and it captured his attention right away. So much so that he finished it in two days! It also prompted him to ask big questions, and we talked about what he learned about our country’s history and our current society. I appreciated how the book’s language is accessible and written for a younger audience so that they can wrap their heads around complex ideas.
When he finished Stamped, he closed it and looked at me with sadness in his eyes, shook by the ugly elements of our history. But he had a newfound determination to share his insights with others--he even asked his teacher to make this book required reading for his class. My hope is that he will continue to stay curious and keep learning.
The band is back, y’all!
In truth, this is a rare occurrence. But we’re glad they’re getting more comfortable with each other. Baby steps.
We discovered this show, and it was so eye-opening. Even our kids were into it. The host visits various locations around the world to learn how people improve their longevity. But it’s not just about living longer. It’s about living better. The people he features, those who’ve reached their 90s and even surpassed 100 years of age have so much wisdom to share. It made me think about my habits and how we as a family can have better balance. If you’re looking for a wholesome and inspiring show, I highly recommend this one!
Hurricane Hilary--you probably already forgot about her lol--was thankfully pretty weak by the time it hit our area last month, but it still did some damage on our pomegranate tree. We had to tie it with rope to our patio in order to keep it from falling. But the fruit is coming in and still growing, which is good. Once we harvest the pomegranates, we’ll have to prune the tree and add some support.
This month’s question:
With so many products to choose from, I have to ask: which pumpkin spice products are actually worth the hype?
Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be in touch again in October. If you have any friends who’d like this newsletter, feel free to share this with them. :)