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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Ann

Love Letter to Literature: an Inspired July

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Exhalations was created in part to celebrate the collective out breath of artists, academics, and writers that inspire me. Whether for escaping, awakening imagination, expanding awareness, or healing, I revere the power of literature. In the past ten years or so, I have become a voracious consumer of non-fiction; poetry collections, academic papers, essays, & news articles have all acted as guideposts through trauma recovery, parenting, career building, and self-nurture. Most recently, in a quest to reconnect with my inner child, I have taken to reading fiction again, and find my time spent in stories to be sweetly sacred.

What follows is an acknowledgement of the literature, writers, and stewards of information that inspired me throughout the month. We will start with both fiction & non-fiction, charge into social issues, dance into sacred poetry & song lyrics, and finish with scripture:

Fiction was my main source of reading this month. I devoured 3 out of 4 novels in The Donovan Legacy by Nora Roberts; Captivated, Entranced, and Enchanted. Tales of witches, sex, adventure, family, & romance make for enjoyable reading material - while enchanted myself within these pages, I realized my value in reading love stories because I take away lessons detailing how to operate in romantic relationships. Having C-PTSD means intimate relationships are confusing & complicated, so I appreciate any place that contributes to my growth in areas I have a lot to learn, even if it comes from what some might call witchy smut.

There is wisdom to be learned everywhere, my friends.

Non-fiction of note this month was the beginning of Entering The Castle by Caroline Myss, a prayerful pilgrimage leading the reader through St. Teresa of Ávila's The Interior Castle. Intentions to receive as much learning from this book as possible have slowed my reading pace so I can absorb each Soul Work section mindfully. I will most definitely sing praises for this work once I have completed reading it.

Staying present with social issues dear to my heart, most news articles I read online this month revolved around homelessness. For the piece I wrote here about kindness to people in homelessness, I included an article from CBC News about how NIMBYism is negatively affecting housing across Canada. An article from about Anchorage’s housing crisis also caught my attention for a few reasons - homeless people have to worry about bears (!!!), and instead of orchestrating meaningful solutions, their leadership is offering to send people to Seattle. No thank you to bears in my tent as house or band-aid responses to any housing crisis. Anchorage isn't a Canadian city, however what they are experiencing could easily happen here, so I continue praying for updated national housing regulations and opportunities to become involved in societal changes where and when I can.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 1 Peter 4:10-11

One website in particular caught my attention this month - Strong Towns! As community development is both a personal and professional passion, I was excited to dig into their website even registering for Strong Towns Academy so I can learn more about how my city has partnered with this non-profit. I have a dream that local bylaws are updated to allow tiny home communities & co-ops that would support those that are most susceptible to homelessness. I’m thinking shared green spaces, gardens, and markets that allow for the type of community support, safety, and connection that people thrive in.

Regarding environmental justice, what on the new threads app reported was impactful. I recommend checking out both their linktree and website if you'd value learning more about climate events occurring around our consistently warming globe.

About the poetically sacred, you know those moments where it seems like God puts the book in your hand Themself? On Independent Bookstore Day, which is always the last Saturday in April, my book-loving posse and I blissfully visited my community’s newest indie bookstore, River Bee Books, where The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master (rendered by Daniel Ladinsky), aka- the most beautiful poetry collection I’ve ever read, seemingly jumped off the shelf into my eager hands. I am slowly journeying through, reading such beauty as can be found on page 33:

GOD JUST CAME NEAR No One In need of love Can sit with my verse for An hour And then walk away without carrying Golden tools, And feeling that God Just came Near

FYI - Hafiz wasn't kidding when he wrote that. Each poem seems like it takes me closer to my Soul which by extension arrives me closer to God.

Song lyrics were also something I paid particular attention to this month in research for my goal of finally writing lyrics to my own song. Sofi Tucker - Purple Hat, Kyndal Inskeep - Honest, Lia Knapp - Overexposed, Olivia Rodrigo - Vampire, Taylor Swift - Labyrinth, Jewel - Deep Water, Florence and the Machine - Dog Days are Over, and The Pretty Reckless - You all contributed to my lyrical stylings. I am grateful to share that finally, after creating heaps of rhyming trash, while driving home from work one afternoon, the following verse presented itself with a lullaby-like vibe:

he left town, my best friend, now jolts of pain threaten to end me threaten to end me

I knew I had to chase that drop until the entire song poured out. I am elated that my first song is finally written! Songwriting is definitely a craft I will devote to developing. I'm debating turning some of my older poems into songs and utilizing what I know about music theory to pair my new lyrics with melodies. Stay tuned! (...she quipped about music...)

On one Saturday this month, Psalm 119 called for my attention. On weekend mornings, I love starting my days outside, sipping honey ginger tea while listening to birdsong with books and a pen in my lap. There I was, assuming each heading was the name of the person reciting it (you know what they say about assumptions, liz...), but quickly I learned through a study sesh that each stanza actually begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which satisfies my scriptural linguistic loving heart immensely. By gathering the sentiments throughout that resonated with me, I curated my own stanza, which was a cool writing exercise if you are so intrigued to do that for yourself.

I consider mine to be a spiritual manifesto of sorts and feel as if another guidepost for this life has landed in my lap via the relationship between my bible and my notebook.

There we have it, pals, my love letter to literature that kept July inspired - to think I was concerned I wouldn't have enough material to write an entire piece. I should know better than doubt how much information I keep in this neurodivergent brain of my mine.

I'm grateful to now have a space for an outpouring, and grateful to you for coming along on this adventure. I would be so excited to know what reading has inspired you this month, if you are inclined to share.

Blessings from a Literature Loving Soul, E

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