All Things Writerly

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A thought-provoking question for you:  Where do you immediately go in a book store? Apparently, this can be insightful into your personality.  I tend to gravitate first toward the travel section, meander over to browse decor and design magazines, then check out the blank journals, and lastly, to the fiction novels and books by authors who write about women’s success, their life journeys, or personal connections (well, and spy novels-who can resist the intrigue)? What do you enjoy reading?

I could spend hours in bookstores. The atmosphere feels so civilized and calming; great for daydreaming, and sometimes there are inviting coffee shops nearby.  There aren’t any “real” bookstores in Swaziland, so when we venture to South Africa, it’s one of the first places we go.

Do you seek out books when you travel?  It’s one of my favorite parts of going to a new city, exploring its bookstores and cozy spaces. Shakespeare and Company in Paris feels like boarding an old pirate ship full of treasures waiting to be discovered. Book shops in London remind me of a Charles Dickens era with rows of gorgeous, dark mahogany shelves showcasing the classics and latest works, alongside beautiful, hand-stitched leather journals.

Drinking in cafes and all things writerly appeal to me. For more than a decade, I’ve used a little Mont Blanc “Mozart” fountain pen when journal-writing (and to write old-fashioned letters and postcards).  I have to admit, I’ve caught a lot of guff from colleagues in meetings about having to change the ink cartridge mid-sentence, or rub ink off of my hand…but I love the way the nib feels on paper, and the art of writing.

I also have a fervor for stationery stores. In addition to beautifully hand-made paper, some stationers in Italy, France, and Spain carry little vials of ink , sealed in wax, with glass pens. It feels very Shakespearean,or Hemingway-like, depending on the vibe.

Which are your favorite places to peruse passions and prose?

Happy daydreaming,

Tracy

40: A Whole New Decade

Yesterday was my birthday, and not just any birthday, but one of the decade-turning kind. I wasn’t sure if forty would send me spiraling a bit, but instead, it has been more of a happy, peaceful transition, and a time to reflect on paths well-tread, and new ones to be forged.

I’m on a two-day retreat at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the Virginia countryside. It’s snowing, pastoral, quiet, and restorative. This is a present from my honey, and the first time away from my 8 month old son, which has been hard, but good.

We all need to step away from our daily lives sometimes, to have a break and reconnect with ourselves.  I am soaking up the solitude like a sponge, reading magazines, editing photos for long, uninterrupted stretches of time, and creating collages. (Delicious food is interspersed in these activities, too). There is a pastry chef here that knows what he is doing-YUM!

What will my 40’s be like? Looking back, there’s more freedom in getting older. I feel less beholden to pleasing others if it doesn’t also bring me happiness, less of saying yes when I want to say no. (Do you ever say yes to something, only to end up asking yourself something along the lines of, “Dang! How did I get involved in this? Why couldn’t I just have been bold enough to say NO?”) 

I’m committing that in my 40’s I will do the yes-meaning-no thing less, find a stronger voice, and stop worrying about what others’ think. (This has been a tough one, though, growing up in the South and being taught to be polite, polite, polite)! Of course, manners and the golden rule go without saying, and there will be necessary compromises and sacrifices for friends and family.  However, in general,  I want to pay clearer attention when my intuition tells me a situation doesn’t feel right, and merits closer examination on my part.

Here’s a toast to living more in the moment, being true to myself, and engaging in activities that keep me centered, and passions that make me feel alive!

Cheers!

-Starry