“Our Own Backyard” Challenge, Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the “Our Own Backyard” challenge, in which my friend Bev and I will share pictures of our backyards during the seasons.

Same City
2 Friends
2 Yards
2 Views

The idea is to document a part of our backyards every season for a year. I had decided to document our European Linden tree and how it changes throughout the seasons. Looking at it yesterday though, I noticed that there has been almost no change in the three months since I first posted.

True, there is less snow on the tree. And there are some daffodils in the background.
Some budding is happening.

This has been a tough spring. It’s been cold with lots of late snowfall. I feel bad for some of my spring flowers, which have not been thriving.

I had meant to concentrate on my Linden tree in this challenge, but as there has not been much change, I am going to post some pictures from other changes happening in the backyard.

The violets have been prolific this year.
I always love how eye popping my forsythia is.

So change is happening, just slower with my Linden tree. I’m excited to see how much different my Linden tree will be in three months from now.

Head on over to Bev’s post to see how much her gardens have changed.

What’s it look like in your corner of the world?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Six Degrees: From “The End of the Affair to Five Little Indians”

It’s time again for Six Degrees. So I did take out this month’s starting book, “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene, from the library, intending to read it, but my good intentions fell flat.

“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan
This is the first book—one that I just finished reading—that popped into my head when I learned what the starting book was in this month’s chain, mainly because Mrs. Lewis aka Joy Davidman’s first husband had a string of affairs during their toxic marriage. But while I was reading the book, I discovered another connection: one of Davidman’s doctors was Graham Greene’s brother, and she tells the story about how she had just finished reading “The End of the Affair” when he examined her, and how she discussed the literary London world with Dr. Greene. “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” is a slow burn romance with a lot of philosophy and theology thrown in. One of my favourite recent reads!

“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan
I am looking forward to reading this book written by the same author. I sat in on a webinar last Thursday during which Callahan talked about the book and about how the main theme is “Where do stories come from?” The story centres around sibling relationships including the main character siblings Megs and George, and real life siblings C.S. (or Jack) and his brother Warnie. Of course, this leads into the four siblings who also star in the next book.

This is what my book cover looks like.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
Those siblings are Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This book is one of my favourite childhood reads, which is why I love reading about C.S. Lewis’ life so much.

The next book is quite the departure from the C.S. Lewis writings and that book is:

“Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen
In the previous book in the chain the fictional White Witch is the character from the title, but in this book the witch is actually a historical figure, Katharina Kepler, mother of Imperial Mathematician Johannes Kepler. I’ve long wanted to read this story, and it was actually long listed for Canada Reads, but alas it did not make the short list.

“We Two Alone” by Jack Wang
Also long listed but not short listed for Canada Reads, it’s another book on my TBR list. I was fortunate to attend a webinar hosted by The Fold a few weeks ago during which Wang taught about holding attention in a short story, and it was an amazing lecture. Wang is talented! Set on five continents, the book is about the Chinese immigrant experience and spans a century.

“Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good
This is a book that did make the Canada Reads short list. Will it win? It stands a good chance, as the book about five residential school survivors coming to terms with their past has already won awards including the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, and it will be adapted into a series, but we won’t know the winner until the end of the month.

In the first half of the chain I concentrated on C.S. Lewis and his life and writings, and in the second half I wrote about long listed Canada Reads contenders. That’s the fun of this challenge: you never know where it will take you.

Hope to see you next month again when we start with “Our Wives Under the Sea” by Julia Armfield.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR OF “Mindset Medicine”

I have always been a sporadic journaler, usually picking up my journaling pen when life becomes really tough. For a while I did “morning pages” a la Julia Cameron, and even though I found it to be beneficial, somewhere along the line I put away my journaling pen.
At the end of my very tough 2021, I started to do morning pages again, and I found myself slowly starting to relax into life again.
So when I had the opportunity to review “Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book” by Mari L. McCarthy, I knew I had to seize the opportunity. What a better way to expand my journaling practice.
In chapter 4, the chapter about wanting things, a door cracked open and let a little light back into my life. Sad to say, somewhere in 2021 I had stopped believing that the things I wanted mattered. But, according to McCarthy, “WANTING great things for yourself doesn’t make you selfish. WANTING great things for YOU just means you love yourself.” and “In fact, one of the things you can want is the means to help more people.” Hmmm, I pondered those thoughts for a while, and then I decided to let myself want things again.
After that easing of some of my heartache, I was committed to finishing the book and the journaling exercises. I love McCarthy’s different take on things. For example, one thing that I have always thought, and that McCarthy validates is that “affirmations can be difficult to repeat and keep in the forefront of your mind as you’re bobbing and weaving your way through the day”. Instead she asks you to “transform your life by asking the right questions”. Wow! I love this idea so much that I now have a top-10 question list that I can refer to again and again.
This is a book that can be read over and over to remind yourself to love the journey, pivot to better feeling thoughts, and establish rock-solid boundaries. I highly recommend the book, and I am thankful that I was able to review it.
Good news! You can enter the giveaway over at WOW by March 2, 2022 for a chance to win a copy of your own by clicking here. Don’t forget to visit some of the other blog stops too.
Please note: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

About the Book

Want the Cure for Culture Chaos?
Grab your pen and pad and prescribe yourself, Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book.
The news, the fear, the media, the texts, the constant bombardment of electronic sludge. It can all tear you down and rip you away from being YOU! 
You can choose to give into this madness and be manipulated into submission. Or you can join the Journaling Power Revolution, reconnect with your higher self, and love yourself without conditions. 
In her third book, award-winning international bestseller author Mari L. McCarthy reveals a journaling power path that leads to an awareness of how vibrant your life will be when you…
Understand why you absolutely have to love yourself first
Tap into your hidden gifts and talents
Declare why others must ALWAYS respect you
Establish rock-solid unbreakable boundaries
Promise to be YOUR own superhero!
Most importantly, Mindset Medicine explains in rich detail why the most empowering and loving relationship you can ever have – is with YOU!
Find out more about Mindset Medicine on Amazon.com.

About the Author:


Mari L. McCarthy, Founder and CEO – Chief Empowerment Officer  of CreateWriteNow.com, teaches curious health-conscious action-takers how to use Journaling For The Health Of It®️ to heal the emotional, creative, physical, and spiritual issues in their tissues. She also shows them how to use this powerful personal transformation tool to know, grow and share their True Self. Mari is the multi award-winning author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live, Heal Your Self With Journaling Power and Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book. She’s also created 20+ Journaling For The Health Of It® Self-Management 101 Workbooks including Who Am I?, Take Control Of Your Health! and Start Journaling For The Health Of It® Write Now.
Find out more about Mari by visiting her website CreateWriteNow.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.

Six Degrees: From “No One Is Talking About This” to “tiny beautiful things”

It’s been quite a few months since I last participated in the Six Degrees challenge. Although I love making the connections, some life obstacles got in the way of my participation. I’m glad to be back.

This month we start with a book I have not read called “No One Is Talking About This” by Patricia Lockwood.
From Goodreads:
“As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts.
Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.”

“How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price
I thought of this nonfiction book—and its focus on the “endless scroll”—after I read the synopsis of Lockwood’s book. I am not sure I am so addicted to my phone that I need to read it.

“The Power of Fun” by Catherine Price
Written by the same author as the previous book, I wanted to read this nonfiction book, because I am enjoying reading the next book on this list so much.
From Goodreads:
“In this follow-up to her hit book, How to Break Up with Your Phone, Price makes the case that True Fun–which she defines as the magical confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow–will give us the fulfillment we so desperately seek.”

“Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness” by Ingrid Fetell Lee
I am right in the middle of the chapter on play in this book. From the get go, the nonfiction book grabbed me with a story about how simply putting a layer of vibrant orange paint on a historic old building in Tirana, Albania, started the journey to completely revitalizing a city! Several times I have paused in the book to do some further research on people like landscape designer Piet Oudolf, or places like the Integratron in California and the Reversible Destiny Lofts in Tokyo.

“Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes
A memoir in which Rhimes decides to say yes to a whole bunch of things that she said no to in the past, transforming and revitalizing her life. My favourite chapters are the one on motherhood and the one on marriage. Consider this quote: “You know what’s a bigger taboo than being fat? Not wanting to get married.” Agree, disagree?

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
In this memoir, Obama writes about her time from childhood to after her husband’s presidency. I found Obama to be totally relatable. She grew up with lots of doubts and challenges, yet she continually questioned her assumptions and improved her approach to tackling life obstacles.

“tiny beautiful things” by Cheryl Strayed
Not memoir, but Sugar aka Cheryl Strayed uses a lot of her own personal stories (a bundle on a friend’s head, kittens trapped in a wall) to answer questions in this collection of letters addressed to “Dear Sugar” of the Rumpus. Sugar never sugarcoats her answers, but if she is criticizing in one sentence, she is encouraging in the next. I found myself learning a lot about how other people live, but I also found myself not feeling so alone when my own life was reflected in other letters.

All the books on this list except the first one are nonfiction, perhaps reflecting my reading style more than anything. But do the first and last books connect? It’s hard to compare, because I haven’t read the first book, but I can tell you that Strayed often writes about things that no one is talking about.

So those who participated this month: where did your journey take you? And those who didn’t participate, where would your journey take you? It’s so much fun to contemplate!

Next month we’ll start with “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene. I hope to see you again.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

“Our Own Backyard” Challenge

Welcome to the “Our Own Backyard” challenge, in which my friend Bev and I will share pictures of our backyards during the seasons.

Same City
2 Friends
2 Yards
2 Views

The idea is to document a part of our backyards every season for a year. I have decided to document our European Linden tree and how it changes throughout the seasons.

Our Linden tree was planted shortly after my parents first got the house, likely before I was born. My mom’s name was Linde, the German word for Linden tree. I was named after her, but my name is the anglicized version. So although I always call it my mom’s tree, I feel a special connection to it.

I estimate it was already 10-20 years old then, so it must be around 60 or 70 years old now.

Not much is happening during the winter time, but I am excited to see the changes that will occur over the seasons.

It’s a tall tree!
After the snowstorm
Buds: a promise
I often find icicles here. It must be the grooves in the craggy bark.

When I was taking some of these pictures, I was really feeling the winter blahs. I put my hands on the tree, and I felt a deep thrumming coming from the tree! Even during the winter, there was still so much life in the tree, which made me feel so much better. I left feeling revitalized.

Head on over to Bev’s post to read all about her gardens this season.

I’m excited to share what my tree looks like in the spring.

I’d love to see something from your backyard.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

December 2021 Bookish Resolutions

I hope that you found some sort of peace and comfort during this holiday season. Although still challenging, my celebration this year was better than last year’s.
On this Boxing Day, I am posting my last “Bookish Resolutions” post:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

Well at least I am wrapping up my year with two books that count towards this challenge.

“In-between Days” by Teva Harrison
I read Harrison’s book “Not One of These Poems Is About You”, and then I decided to read this book, her “hybrid graphic memoir” about living with incurable breast cancer. Harrison decided to write and draw her way through living with the disease, and this collection is the result. I didn’t find it to be a downer, but instead very raw and honest.

“The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations” by Oprah Winfrey
I bought this book for my husband a few years ago, and it has taken me that long to finish the book, dipping in and out of it over the years. It has a lot of goodness in it, and it is meant to be savoured. Maybe I just wanted to savour it for a very long time.
From the epilogue:
“…as long as you are asking the right questions of yourself, the answers will readily reveal themselves. Who do you want to be? How can you allow who you want to be to thrive in all aspects of your life?”

You can see my list from the whole year on my Mount TBR post.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

None

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“I Hope This Finds You Well” by Kate Baer
Baer makes erasure poems—turning the negative into positive—from comments she receives or things she reads on the internet. My favourite is “Re: My Daughter’s Struggles”.

“the untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself” by Michael A. Singer
A gift for my birthday, I found this book about inner peace and freedom very appealing. However, freeing myself is easier said than done. Luckily, the author himself states that this path takes a lifetime of work. I have the companion journal, and I will tackle it in the new year. I look forward to further insights.

“How to Avoid Making Art (Or Anything Else You Enjoy)” by Julia Cameron
Cameron nudges you in this graphic novel to remember the things that can stand in the way of you and your creative process. For example, “Talk about it so you don’t have to do it.”

“The Listening Path: Six Weeks to Deeper Creativity” by Julia Cameron
I’ve been trying to hone my listening skills, but a lot of the exercises Cameron suggests either I already do or are ones that do not appeal to me. Still the book did nudge me to remember to listen in different ways. Most important for me though was that the book brought me back to doing “Morning Pages” and “Artist’s Dates”.

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Not much writing done this month. Whenever I meditate though, I’ve been hearing the call to write again.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

Not done.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

“I Regret Telling My Mother Her Traditional Chinese Soup Was ‘Gross’” by Katharine Chan
I lived in China for three years, and it was very much a “food as medicine” culture. I enjoyed the reminder through this article, as the mother explains to her daughter the benefits of each food that was in the soup.

“How to Tell Your Mother She Can’t Go Home Again” by Heidi Croot
I was put in a similar position with my father, so this essay really resonated with me.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“Ten Cents a Pound” by Nhung N. Tran-Davies; illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
What I like about this book:
-the lyrical language
-the repetition and refrain
-the setting
-the theme: a mother explains to her daughter why she should be leaving her village for a better life
-the drawings: the closeups of hands and feet

“Natsumi’s Song of Summer” by Robert Paul Weston; illustrated by Misa Saburi
What I like:
-the sensory description
-the main character loves insects
-a cross cultural encounter
-the setting
-but especially that the book is written in a series of tankas (five lines and 31 syllables)

Bonus:
“Friends Forever” by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
The third of a series, this is a graphic novel based on Hale’s life in grade eight. I can totally relate, especially the part about being thought too sensitive and hiding my feelings, and suffering with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. I wish I had had this book back then.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I have already done this.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Not many were offered this month.

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

No, I didn’t do this.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

Completed.

Weekly treasure:

One of the art installations in my city’s “Winter Illumination” exhibit

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two.

Well that wraps up my “Bookish Resolutions” for this year. Although I didn’t accomplish all what I wanted to this year, I am proud of what I did do.
As mentioned in last week’s blog post, my format will be different next year. See you in 2022.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

My Word of the Year for 2022

Drum roll, please. It’s the grand unveiling of my word of the year for 2022.

Yes, Magic! After a very tough 2021 where I did a lot of unexpected (and necessary and beneficial) work, I need some Magic in my life.

2021’s word, which was Nurture, did work for me, as I learned how to nurture myself in healthy ways. The year before my word was Focus, and I would definitely say it was the most focussed year I had in a long time. So I am hoping that this year will be the same, and I will see more Magic in my life.

I had originally decided to do a post on 22 goals for 2022, a suggestion by Gretchen Rubin, but I have decided that I want to pursue my “Sustainable Urban Horticulture Certificate” at the University of Guelph, and as I am going to be taking two courses in January, I don’t want to overload myself.

However, there are two goals that I am going to set for 2022 and those are:

Study 12 plants
I want to continue studying plants similar to how I did in my “Exploratory Herbal Mentorship”. First up in January is dandelion.

So hardy that they are even blooming in December!

Read 22 of my own books
Similar to the Mount TBR challenge that I didn’t complete in 2021 (although I did read 12: Yay me!), except my rules will be laxer. I can count books I have bought in that year. As well, I won’t set goals in other genres like in 2021.

As mentioned in my last blog post, I am also a member of the “Kindred Readers Book Club”, and I’m doing a monthly “In my Backyard” challenge. I will continue to review books from WOW (first up in February is “Mindset Medicine: A Journaling Power Self-Love Book”). I will also continue to meet weekly with my book club and critique partner, Bev. However, if that isn’t enough, I still have my original list of my 22 goals for 2022 that I can fall back on.

What about you? Have you chosen a word of the year or guiding word for 2022? I’d love to hear about it.

One more blog post for 2021! See you next week for my last Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

November 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

One of my favourite first lines in a book starts “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The line from the Dickens classic goes on to continue with its incredible contrasts such as “…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” I am thinking about buying the shirt with this quote on it, as it sums up what 2021 was like for me…
I’d have to say that my life is on the upswing though. The wind is whispering of new beginnings and a new direction. I see the cracks of light as my seed starts to find its way out of the earth.
I’m not sure what my blog will look like next year, but it will be a different format. But for now, onward to my monthly report.

Here’s my wrap up for the month:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.
I really have not been doing well in this challenge. I don’t believe I will be able to complete it this year.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I didn’t read any this month.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I did start reading more though, particularly in this category.

“Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say” by Kelly Corrigan
I thought I wasn’t going to like this when I started to read it, but the more I read the better I liked the book. Totally relatable and so many truths. I love the phrases that she is learning to say—I could use more of these phrases in my life—and my favourite chapter is “I love you”.
On the phrase “I love you”:
“The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying.
Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel.
The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.”

“The Book of (Even More) Awesome” by Neil Pasricha
This was a score at a little library, and I brought it home intending to read it to cheer me up during my down times, but oddly it only made me feel good if I was already in a good mood. Also I found it was geared towards a certain audience. Still there was some good stuff in there like the chapters that begin with “The sound of water lapping against a dock” and “The sound of snow crunching under your boots”.

“Every day is a poem” by Jacqueline Suskin
This is a book I will be returning to again and again for sustenance. The book is filled with Suskin’s observations about poetry interwoven with her own poems. Several poetry writing exercises are included. Here’s a video of Suskin reading her stunning poem about her own poetic purpose.

“Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisława Szymborska”
Suggested by more than one person at the “How Three Women Use Science in Writing” webinar. This is a translated book of poems by the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some truly stunning poems here. My favourites include “There But For The Grace”, “The Terrorist, He Watches”, and “Life While You Wait”. Two of my other favourite poems from this book (“Utopia” and “The Joy of Writing”) can be read on this page along with three of her equally exquisite poems.
I would like to write a poem like the structure of her “Possibilities” poem, which begins every sentence with “I prefer…”, e.g., one line is “I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.” Me too, Ms. Szymborska, me too.

Bonus:

“moms” by young-shin ma
Though this graphic novel about a bunch of unconventional Korean moms, who are all in their mid-fifties, doesn’t technically fit into this category, I loved it so much that I’m giving it a mention. The author actually had his mom write down her memories of her and her friends’ lives and then based the book on them. The story is very complex yet still easy to follow.

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I did work on my writing, including getting back to writing my novel, but not every day.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

Not so far.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

I have become fascinated by “hermit crab” essays, and so I am focusing on them.

“!Fast and Easy! A Short and Sweet Guide to Making a French-Canadian Favourite: Pâté Chinois” by Joni Cheung
A fantastic hermit crab essay. The structure is a recipe, which juxtaposes with a discussion of anti-Asian racism.

“What’s Missing Here? A Fragmentary, Lyric Essay About Fragmentary, Lyric Essays” by Julie Marie Wade
A couple of observations I appreciated:

“…the lyric essay asks you to do something even harder than noticing what’s there. The lyric essay asks you to notice what isn’t.”

and

“I think lyric essays should be catalogued with the mysteries.”

Bonus:

“Frances Hodgson Burnett Really Loved Gardens—Even Secret Ones” by Marta McDowell
I had to share this, because I found it so uplifting! An excerpt from McDowell’s book called “Unearthing the Secret Garden”.

Favourite quote:

“As long as one has a garden one has a future, and as long as one has a future one is alive.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“We are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade
-winner of the Caldecott Medal
What I like about this book:
-how water is seen through a spiritual lens
-personification: the black snake
-alliteration: “Tears like waterfalls stream down.”
-fabulous back matter
-eye catching floral motifs

“Kits, Cubs, and Calves: an Arctic Summer” by Suzie Napayok-Short; illustrated by Tamara Campeau
What I like about this book:
-it’s longer than a traditional picture book, making for a more satisfying taste of life in the Arctic
-the seamless weaving in of Inuktitut
-the glossary of Inuktitut
-modern day life is explored—they even have an underwater sound recorder
-secondary story of the beluga whales

Bonus:

“The Beatryce Prophecy” by Kate diCamillo; illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A lovely friendship story for ages 9+. This video sums it up beautifully.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’ve already done this.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

November is always a great month for writing webinars. I watched five this month!

“Quantum Physics, Biology, Genetics: How Three Women Use Science in Writing” (Wild Writers Literary Festival, hosted by Erin Bow)

“From Plants to Pages: Helen Humphreys on Field Studies” (Wild Writers Literary Festival)

“Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Trees as Participants in Theatre and Performance (University of Guelph Arboretum)
Megan de Roover is the inaugural writer in residence at the Arboretum. This article gives you a taste of what she talked about.

“The Dressmaker of Auschwitz—A Talk with Lucy Adlington” (Idea Exchange)

“Hiding the Mona Lisa—A Virtual Talk with Laura Morelli” (Idea Exchange)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t do this.

Weekly treasure:

I had fun using sage leaves to make these leaf prints.

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo
I wrote four.

100 day challenge:
I do this sporadically.

How have you been weathering 2021? I already have a couple of new things in the works for 2022 including our own version of “In my Backyard”, which I’ll be doing with my critique partner Bev, as well as participating in the “Kindred Readers Book Club” that she is co-facilitating. Stay tuned to read about these events next year.
Stay tuned also to read about what my “Word of the Year” will be in 2022. Have you chosen one?
Wishing you a peaceful, joyful, and harmonious holiday season.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

October 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

Despite my tumultuous year, I still managed to touch the sun this year for a brief, glorious moment, but like Icarus my wings melted.
I intend to keep aiming for the sun, but in the meantime, as I repair my wings, I am following my curiosity. I am enjoying my three horticultural related courses—Plant ID at the University of Guelph, Eco Art at the Guelph Arboretum, and an Exploratory Herbal Mentorship with a part Indigenous healer—all three which I recommend.
I also have started to write again. Hurray!

Here’s my wrap up for the month:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

None this month. Not sure I’ll get the challenge done.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“Gathering Moss: a Natural and Cultural History of Mosses” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Written earlier than “Braiding Sweetgrass” (see last month’s wrap-up for a brief review), this book is also more scientifically focussed but still chock full of insights that can be applied to your life. Who knew that mosses were so fascinating?
My favourite chapter is “City Mosses”, which had me walking around my corner of the city, checking out how many of my local trees had moss on them, an indicator of low air pollution. The good news is that I live in an area with lots of moss covered trees, and thus lower air pollution. I also have been reconsidering my “moss garden” in my backyard after reading that chapter.

Favourite quote:

“A Cheyenne Elder of my acquaintance once told me that the best way to find something is not to go looking for it. This is a hard concept for a scientist. But he said to watch out of the corner of your eye, open to possibility, and what you seek will be revealed. The revelation of suddenly seeing what I was blind to only moments before is a sublime experience for me.”

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“dancing at the Pity Party: a dead mom graphic memoir” by Tyler Feder
I always want to read about the experience of others whose mom died young when they were young, something that happened to me. The book was created 10 years after the author’s mom’s death. I did see myself in several of the situations, but I found that I could not relate to the depth of the author’s sadness. However, I wonder if that’s because my mom died over 30 years ago. I think that if it had only been 10 years after, the book would have been far more poignant for me. I do recommend reading it, as it has some good advice for coping with grief and helping other to cope with their grief.

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

I had no idea this was a spiritual book. Book One and Two were just OK, but Book Three was brilliant.
Highlights:
-self vs. ego
-why we fear we will succeed
-territory vs. hierarchy

Favourite quote (regarding territorial vs. hierarchical activities): “Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I have been working on my novel in the form of a 30 day world building challenge, initiated by my daughter.
I have also been revising one of my stories and writing some poems. Maybe not 15 minutes a day, but at least I am getting back into a routine.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

Not so far.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

I have become fascinated by “hermit crab” essays, and so I am focusing on them.

“On Lyric Essaying and Casting On” by Chelsey Clammer
Love this! Clammer explores the question “Can I write an essay that looks like knitting?”

“The Professor of Longing” by Jill Talbot
Brilliant! A hermit crab essay written using the structure of a course outline.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“An Earth-Bot’s Solution to Plastic Pollution” by Russell Ayto
What I like:
-Sounds familiar and very relatable: “But Neo doesn’t notice. He is too busy playing video games.”
-main character realizes something can be done, even if it’s something small
-other solutions are suggested

“Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki; illustrated by Genevieve Simms
It’s been a long time since a picture book made me cry, but this one did.
What I like:
-the main character is biracial/bicultural
-an intergenerational story that revolves around a Japanese garden
-the reality of aging is explored in a delicate manner
-the gifts that the main character gives her grandfather and herself are touching (and very appropriate)

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I submitted the creative non fiction essay I wrote about observing nature on a bike to the latest WOW contest.
I also got the results from the latest NYC Midnight contest. I placed 11th in the second round in my group. With my 8th place finish in the first round, it wasn’t enough to put me into the next round, but you know what? I placed top 15 in both rounds writing fiction stories in two genres—romance, mystery—that are completely out of my realm. So yay me!

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

“From Hermit Crabs to Talking Skeletons: Playing with form in CNF” (Darryl Whetter, hosted by CNF)
I am totally fascinated by the hermit crab essay form, and I intend to play with it in my own essays!

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I finished my marketing writing course.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I have done that.

Blog at least twice a month.

Done.

Weekly treasure:

My “Tanzanian blue” morning glories, honouring my father’s family, did very well this year.

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote 4.

100 day challenge:
This is helping me get through the books that I want to read besides those I read in my book club, so I will continue this.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

September 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

September has been a better month for me. It’s not been so tumultuous, and I am enjoying the peace I am experiencing. I know though that I have several important decisions to make, but in the meantime, I am going to savour the peace.

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin

Though the latest reprint of this book is 2005, I was using it in a course as recently as 2017. I only skimmed it back then, but took the plunge this month to read it as a book study. Read more about it on my Mount TBR 2021 post.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Read more about this book below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“Escape to Reality” by Mark Cullen with Ben Cullen

You may have seen him on TV or heard him on the radio, but have you read any of Canada’s most famous and loved horticultural expert’s books? In this collection of short essays, Cullen (with the occasional piping in of his son) writes about everything from the value of a gardener’s work to how to think like a plant.

Consider this:

“Experience tells us, according to <Peter> Ladner, that local food reduces our dependency on oil. A Canadian study on ‘food miles’ estimated that sourcing fifty-eight food items locally or regionally rather than globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about fifty thousand tonnes annually. That is the equivalent of removing almost seventeen thousand vehicles from the road.”

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read in my life! My book club partner and I took our time over it, savouring it over several weeks. 

There are just too many fantastic learnings to mention here, so I will leave you with this video about “the honourable harvest”.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

None

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I haven’t been writing every day.

Read related literature to my writing.

Not done.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“Why I resigned from my tenured position teaching climate science in college” by Heather Short

Why I like this:

-it’s a timely piece, and it mentions several things I have been thinking about lately

-it’s an expert’s point of view

-it’s a mixture of facts and opinion

Favourite quote:

‘Teaching this to an 18 year old is like telling them that they have cancer, then ushering them out the door, saying “sorry, good luck with that.”’

“On Sept. 30, I hope people will do more than just take the day off” by Andrea Johns

Why I like this:

-it’s written from the perspective of a Mohawk woman

-it’s another timely piece, written as a reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

-it offers solutions

Favourite quotes:

“It’s great to, again, have a holiday that recognizes the legacy of the residential school system. But there’s a lot of things that are tied to the residential school system: socio-economic issues and missing and murdered Indigenous women and land and economic inequalities.”

and

“I hope that people won’t just take the day off, like they would treat it like any other holiday, going to your cottage on potentially unceded Indigenous territories or spending the time not engaging with … the history of residential schools.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“Woodland Dreams” by Karen Jameson; illustrated by Marc Boutavant

What I like about this book:

-every creature gets a unique, descriptive name: Big Paws, Velvet Nose

-repetition: every refrain starts with “Come Home…”

-sparse and poetic text is a delight on the tongue

-unique rhymes, e.g., schemer/dreamer

“Butterflies are Pretty Gross” by Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Jacob Souva

-breaks the fourth wall

-very humorous (I’ll never think of breakfast in the same way)

-plenty of tongue pleasing alliteration (deliciously disgusting, pretty peculiar)

-fascinating facts presented in an interesting way, e.g. read about the sneaky Alcon Blue caterpillar

Special shoutout about the “little senses” series, written for those who are very sensitive, e.g., those on the autism spectrum. I read “It Was Supposed to Be Sunny” by Samantha Cotterhill. A girl adapts to not having her birthday party work out exactly as she wants to with the gentle help of her mother.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I placed eighth in the first round of the latest NYC Midnight contest, which gives me 8 points. Yay! I submitted my second story. This time I got mystery, which I have never written before, but it was fun writing outside of my comfort zone.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Suzanne Simard on her book “Finding the Mother Tree”. (Guelph Arboretum)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

Not done

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

Not done

Weekly treasure:

One of my local blue jays

Challenges:

HaikuforTwo:

I wrote three.

100 day challenge:

Read two chapters of a book a day. 

I didn’t do this, but I intend to get back to it, as there are two library books I wish to complete.

How was your month?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler