word in my brain

Boundless. Energy, sky, grace, possibility, passion…what else?

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porch sittin’

The front porch is one of the South’s great equalizers. Out there in the world, we don our personalities to sit in our offices, driver’s seats, classrooms; we dutifully go through the motions of life as we know it. Arise to an alarm, break for coffee, savor those moments of zeal and try to recall them when bogged down by the mundane.

But everybody comes home, and solace can often be found in the most mundane of activities. When the weather’s nice – freshened by the hopeful breezes and colorful bursts of life that appear come spring – who can resist dragging a chair into a sunny spot? There are all kinds: Whether it’s two foldable aluminum contraptions in the only sliver of sunlit grass you’ve got; grand, cushy seats on a two-story wraparound; or the classic rockers on a front stoop, taking a load off in the shadow of home is rejuvenating in its simplicity.

All are welcome on the porch. Sometimes, we digest a Sunday brunch with our family, sipping lemonade and calling out to neighbors passing by. Sometimes, we crack a beer and catch up with a good friend. Sometimes, we’re joined only by a novel, and stay until the very last bits of sunlight are gone. No matter how fast-paced life becomes, there’s always a time to stop and sit a spell. Porches (and “porches,” in any loose definition of an outdoor gathering space) are where we tell stories and hear stories, getting to know each other and getting to know ourselves.

book talk: Wild

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I know I’m late to the game here, but I finally got around to reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. And it was really good.

I first heard great things about the memoir a few years ago right when it came out, but it got lost in the shuffle of other of-the-minute reads like Gone Girl. As it tends to go, it took the release of a film version to remind me to read the book … and then it took a few months on the wait list at the public library to finally get my hands on it.

In the meantime, I’d checked out Tiny Beautiful Things, a compilation of Strayed’s online advice columns that she wrote using the pseudonym Sugar. Tiny Beautiful Things was not my jam. I see the appeal, but Sugar came off as one notch too self-righteous and whiney to me. Too much love-is-a-metaphor-for-life-which-is-a-battlefield going on – I didn’t finish it.

So, I approached Wild with skepticism. And then I cancelled my Friday night plans to read and read and read … and woke up and spent most of a sunny Saturday on the porch reading. Apparently Sugar annoys me, but actual Cheryl Strayed, or at least the 26-year-old version of her hiking the Pacific Crest Trail over the course of a summer, is fascinating and relatable and compelling. It has the same brazen, primitive appeal of Into Thin Air , which is an account of climbing Mount Everest. Reading it left me in awe of the courageous and monumental task that is backpacking more than 1,000 miles alone, but also feeling as if I could totally do it, too. What’s more, I sort of want to.

That’s because Cheryl is endearingly honest and relatable every step of the way. Her voice is what resonated most with me – of course, the whole backpacking thing is impressive and interesting and a major appeal of the book, but Cheryl‘s account is the best part. She shamelessly articulates so many emotions I have totally felt about a million times. And she owns it. It’s a refreshingly confident vulnerability.

I absolutely recommend it, especially if you, like me, are a 25-30-year-old-female who appreciates girl power but not an obnoxious amount of it.

Incidentally, I recently splurged on an awesome bottle of wine purely because I liked its label and descriptive adjectives … and the label looks remarkably like the cover of Wild. Coincidence?

Clare Elsaesser

California-based painter Clare Elsaesser‘s work is both ethereal and edgy. My favorites are her portraits, which often feature women and focus on their hair, limbs, and posture more than their face. It feels feminine and hopeful; she’s got a knack for portraying the essence of a woman. Also, I want to live in her color palette, full of soft primaries and rosy neutrals with a few vivid saturated brights thrown in for fun.

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I started following her on Instagram, as you do, and the house she shares with her artist husband looks pretty dreamy, too. Which just makes me like her even more (enter: my total love-hate relationship with social media).

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