Bright’s Books | Recently Read | 02

The Signature of All Things: A Novel (Amazon)

5/5

This is a beautiful story that covers the entire span of one woman’s life from conception to death. What’s more exciting than her discoveries of and around the world are the intimate discoveries she learns about herself and those closest to her. Who knew that all the world’s secrets could be found in moss! This book is about sacrifice and satisfaction. It will teach you about science and religion while sounding provocative and poetic. It covers the full range of emotions and is easily one of my new favorite books.

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel (Amazon)

4/5

This is a very sad book. From beginning to end I suffered heartache on every page – but I couldn’t put it down. It’s beautiful and depressing and you just want something good to happen, damn it. And then you realize that life is sometimes like this and you have to force yourself to look for the good parts. The parts where the light seeps in. Read it while you’re on your period and plan to finish it within the week. It’s a great read but you don’t want to drag it out.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel (Amazon)

3/5

Meh. It’s a nice story but lacks depth. The writing is lovely but I just never connected with any of the characters. Which is surprising considering the main character is from New York City, is a photographer, and moved to the country during a major transition in her life – all things I dig. I bet it could have been a lot better with another draft or two.

Waking up and Living Again

Yeeeaaawwwnn.

{long-distance-stare} {blink, blink} {streeetttccchhh}

Winter has traditionally been really rough for the Bright household. The holidays give us just enough oomph to get through January and then shit starts rolling down hill. February through March have seen our biggest fights and darkest depression. We’ve both lost jobs in the winter, stressed over finances, and made fools of ourselves over misunderstandings and bad attitudes. Every winter we threaten to move south for the sun like we’re some kind of 70 year old couple that could and should do that.

Then, just as we’ve found the perfect new home and new job in a sunny, new city on Craigslist…all of a sudden you look outside and realize it’s 7:30pm and it’s still light outside. The windows are cracked letting in fresh air and erasing any trace of the musky, dark hole you’ve been hibernating in for the last couple months.

One day, you come home from work early and sit on your porch in summer attire until the sun goes down. Because even though it’s still chilly out, if you sit directly in the sun and have a way to block the wind, it almost feels hot and your skin gulps in vitamin D as if life’s very existence depends on it.

It’s Spring and once again we miraculously survived the cold, dark, grey winter.

And I do mean survive. We have not been thriving or flourishing, only just living everyday life in the most mundane ways. Nothing to write The Internet about.

I sat sprawled out in an arm chair, feet propped on a matching ottoman, unshowered, unshaven, messy hair, glasses on, flannel pants, thermal shirt, and coffee breath when I caught him staring at me. Our eyes locked and he grinned that million dollar smile and said, “you are so pretty.”

“That was the day she made herself the promise to live more from intention and less from habit.” – Amy Rubin Flett

My heart is warming with the weather and I’m softening like melting snow. It’s the kind of thing that reminds you to keep trusting in the full journey of life. All of it. Even the hard parts.

Welcome to Spring, friends. It’s time to wake up and start living again.

Bright’s Books | Recently Read | 01

Most of what I read is based on other people’s reviews so this is me giving back. Here is a collection of books I’ve recently finished. Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (Amazon)

3/5

I’ve been reading Allie Brosh’s blog for a long time now and love everything she creates there. The way she tells stories with “simple” illustrations is unique and wonderful. I wanted to love this book but having read everything on her blog already, it was a little disappointing that only half of what’s in the book is new material. I’m not really sure this is even book material as I’m sure you’d have just as good a time reading her work on the internet. However, I could totally relate to her stories on dogs and depression and every artist deserves to be compensated for their well enjoyed creations. So, if you’re going to be sitting on a plane or the beach anyway, it’s a delightful and quick read.

The Writing Class (Amazon)

4/5

This was a fun one. It reads like a comedic mystery novel that’s not easy to figure out. I felt like I was fully engaged untill the very last page and got a kick out of watching the characters personalities unfold. It’s bizarre, witty, and well crafted. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar (Amazon)

5/5

I fell in love with Cheryl Strayed after reading her wildly successful memoir, Wild. When I discovered she was the Sugar behind the advice column on The Rumpus, I couldn’t wait to read this collection. I wish she was my mom. I wish she was my neighbor. I wish I could get drunk on red wine with her and have deep conversations mixed with uncontrollable laughter.

Creamy Celery Soup {Sans Cream}

Instagram Photo

Every other Wednesday a delicious, organic, farm box from a local farm is delivered to our doorstep and its contents dictate our weekly meal plan. Celery soup is not something I would ordinarily go out of my way to make but since we’re eating seasonal and local, we take what we get and try to be creative with how we use our produce. This week we received (among other things) a bunch of celery, a couple potatoes, and an onion. Celery soup was decidedly on the menu.

This is a very simple and delicious recipe. It’s perfect for cold nights, low in calories for those of us watching that sort of thing, and with celery being a super-food, it’s an all around feel good meal. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 10-12 stalks of celery – roughly chopped crosswise
  • 2 medium baker potatoes – roughly chopped in 1″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion – roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery, potatoes, onion, and salt to season. Let cook for 8-10mins, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften. Add vegetable broth and water to pot, bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about 20mins or until the vegetables are very tender.

In small batches, puree the soup in a blender until it is very smooth and creamy. Return soup to the pot and stir in the juice of one lemon. Serve immediately and garnish with a celery leaf. Enjoy!

Letting Go in January

December was about filling. I filled my belly with more unhealthy calories than I care to admit and more alcohol than my doctor would approve of. I filled my kitchen and living room and closets with more gifts than we needed. Our daily schedules were full of events and obligations and an abundance of socializing. We filled the hole of want with every impulsive indulgence. The contents of my life at the end of 2013 were suffocating, distracting, and weighing me down.

And now I’m letting it go.

I pulled every drawer in my bedroom, dumped their contents in a heap on my bed, and purged. Goodbye socks with holes. See you later t-shirts I’ve had for more than a decade. Good riddance belt that goes with nothing, lacey things from another life, and bras that quit doing their job two seasons ago. The same for the contents of my closet and the shoes that spilled onto my floor because there was no room left on the racks. Two full garbage bags and one large box of donations left my apartment. I felt myself stretch out a little with this new found room for satisfaction and decided to let go of more.

I let go of the life story I thought I’d live out – the one where I become pregnant, birth a child that looks like my lover and me, then grows into something that calls me mom. Holding onto this story that does not belong to me has been keeping me from living my true life story. I thought I had already purged this one but it turns out it had layers.

I had to let go of comparison and jealousy too. Why can she do that magical thing and I can’t??

No more fits of rage when I see a pregnant woman or another ultrasound photo on Facebook. No more crocodile tears in the dark while curled up in the fetal position because I can’t have what I want. Those feelings were taking up too much room in my heart and rotting my mind with horrible thoughts. It was finally clear to me that I’d have to face the contents of this junk drawer and manually pull every one of those awful reactions out of my conscious and subconscious and toss them out with my holey socks.

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

I’m giving up the extra calories, the drinking every day, the dessert every night. I’m giving up the fight to be right when holding the truths I know in my heart are enough. I’m giving up the friendships that feel like I have to walk up hill both ways in the snow, and I’m giving up feeling guilty about that too.

And it feels spacious here now that I’m not spread so thin. I have room to feel focused with an open heart and an open mind without fear that my dirty laundry will come tumbling out the door. I have room to invite courage in and sit with it comfortably, surrounded by not much at all, and remarking how it’s absolutely enough.

“In the end, these things matter most:

How well did you love?

How fully did you live?

How deeply did you let go?”

- Not Buddha