Honey, I unplugged the kids.

He’s here! Our beautiful son was born a month ago and we are so in love. We decided before he got here to keep him offline, and many have asked about our decision. Here’s what we decided on, and why…

1. No images

Trust me – he is beautiful (not that I’m biased!) But we have decided not to share pictures of his face on any online platform. We use a private app to share photos with family, and sometimes send little update photos to friends. The bottom line for that is whether we would ask the person to babysit – if not, no photos. We also ask people not to send any photos they have to anyone so that, again, only people of our choosing are in possession of images of our son.

2. No names

We are really proud of his name. It took us a while to choose it and it’s really meaningful to us! It won’t be found anywhere online – he’ll be referred to as ‘Baby B’ or other sweet nicknames.

3. No locations

We won’t be sharing, as per my normal guidelines, details or pictures of where we live, of nurseries or schools, of favourite places to hang out.

4. No personal information

We also won’t be sharing details of our son’s life. His birth date, funny stories, personal moments – the ins and outs of his life – will remain private.

I realise these measures may seem extreme to some, and in sharing them I am not judging anyone else’s choices. This is simply what works for us, for several reasons – the first being that we are fiercely protective of our family unit. Our marriage, and now our son, are what matter most to us. Also, part of my job involves digital communications and my postgraduate research centred around a child’s well-being in the digital age: this makes me cautious. I have also been stalked, off and online, and my experience means I will do everything I can to keep my family safe – this, for me, means exercising caution online. And finally, we both have public lives: Dan as an author and me as an activist/someone involved in media. Our son didn’t choose this, and we believe he should be given the right to complete privacy. Privacy and consent are our main drivers. Why?

Privacy – privacy is a precious gift that is not easily retrieved once lost. I’ve been so glad of mine, many times. By not sharing details of his life or pictures of our little one, this means he will go freely and safely into the world to carve out his own little life when he is ready. We don’t want him to be recognised by people he doesn’t know, or for information about this precious tiny person to be ‘out there’ had for anyone to access. And particular relation to images – we don’t want them to be owned by anyone we don’t trust: including companies/platforms.

Consent – our little one hasn’t yet worked out the difference between night and day: he isn’t ready to choose what of himself he’d like to share with the world! From the day he was born, he has been his own person, and until he can decide whether to be online or not, we will protect his agency. This is a matter of consent.

Digital footprint – I studied with someone who was once refused a placement at university because they were holding a beverage in their hand in their Facebook profile picture. It wasn’t clear what the beverage was, and she didn’t look any different in her photo to how I did in mine. Online content is permanent: we don’t want our son to grow up with a digital footprint linked to his name and involving photos from birth to high school graduation that will be viewed or tracked by people we don’t trust such as stalkers or fraudsters, or people who hold power around future opportunities.

I’d love to know what your thoughts on protecting your little ones’ privacy and consent. Is it something you feel strongly about? What do you do and how have you decided on that? Leave me a comment below or get in touch via social media!

On the night before motherhood: a blessing

A mother’s love begins long before birth and now, as you approach the precipice of meeting its lifelong object, here is a blessing.

Feel the slow rise and fall of your chest as your heart sustains another. You are breathing life into you and into the new life you are about to meet. You, fearfully and wonderfully made, have done this life-giving act over 31 million times as you’ve carried this child, fearfully and wonderfully made, over the last 9 months.

As you think of the past, may you look back with fondness and thankfulness for how you yourself have been carried throughout the journey.

As you think to the future, remember this: you have carried and have been carried. You will carry and will be carried.

You join a long line of mothers who have sparked history into life since the beginning of time. Welcome to the company, be a part of the tribe. You are not and will never be alone.

For now, you have thought about and dreamed of and prayed for this child perhaps even before they came into being. You have walked a long road. You have weathered stormy seas and now, in this moment, you are here. Let it be.

You are tired, excited, joyful, fearful, impatient, giddy, nervous, overwhelmed, calm, thankful, grieving, ready, loving. You aren’t sure what to do with all of the thoughts and feelings that you are giving birth to: that is ok. You are ok. Acknowledge what you feel and let it go when you are ready.

Today, may you know the staff of the Shepherd who gently leads those who are with young. May still waters and divine goodness surround you – the two of you.

Two in one: your body – a vessel, powerful, capable, purposed. Theirs – carefully grown, fragile but strong, ready for the world. May the Great Physician who designed and sustains you both draw near in these next moments.

May His hand guide and inspire those in whose care you are. Give thanks for them and confidently lean into their skill.

Like Mary, may you have much to treasure deep in your heart as the coming hours, days and years unfold.

May your body know strength. May your mind know peace. And may your spirit know presence.

Gift guide for new mums and mamas-to-be 

Well, I can’t quite believe it: I’m just weeks away from meeting my BABY! I’ve come to know so many lovely expectant and new mums over the last while, and our chats inspired me to put together a gift guide for pregnant mums and those in the newborn bubble who might just need a treat!

Find me on Instagram: click here to say hi!

If you’re looking for ideas on what to buy a mama-to-be or new mama, or are a mama yourself who wants a little pampering…look no further. All (but one) of these are local gift ideas, and I personally vouch for all of them. It’s only noble to try and test treats, right?!

1. Simple Things magazine

First up, our non-local gift. Simple Things magazine is the literary world’s long, slow soak in the bath. It’s feel-good, interesting (I mean, who else would teach you about cloud-watching clubs?), and gorgeously put together. My sister-in-law got me a subscription last year, and I’ve looked forward to ‘Simple Things day’ each month ever since. Featuring recipes, craft/home ideas, and high-quality, slow-journalism…it’s the perfect companion in times of waiting and cravings for some gentle distraction (which, as it turns out, you have a lot of in pregnancy!)

Find out more & subscribe here. 

2. Cosy sheepskin slippers, Woven

It’s hard to believe Rachel only opened her emporium of delights to the public this time last year: her excellent taste and flare for all things home and gifts make Woven a sure-fire winner in my books! She recently introduced these AMAZING slippers to the store. I mean…how cute? I can also vouch for their cosiness. From nesting days at home to walking hospital corridors and those warm, loved-up newborn days: cosy slippers are an essential for us new mamas. And these just make me smile every time I look at them!

Visit Woven in Banbridge and follow them on Instagram here

3. Rescue Balm, Mrs R’Ganics 

This miraculous potion is handmade by the lovely Carol in small, organic and ethical batches on the shores of Belfast Lough, in Crawfordsburn. It’s free from all nasties (as is Mrs R’Ganics’ entire range) and is an absolute wonder balm that soothes and restores the skin. I don’t know if it’s the shea butter, the orange oil or the frankincense…but it is a miracle worker! As skin stretches and changes in pregnancy, this is perfect for dry or irritated patches, or just if you fancy treating your skin to something great. I already can’t wait to use this in my post-partum recovery! (As always, be sure to check your cosmetics with your doctor or midwife.)

Visit Mrs R’Ganics’ online shop here and follow her on Instagram here

4. Hygge candle, The Bearded Candlemakers 

I like to imagine my good friend Mike as a mad scientist with a crazy laugh that bubbles away as fast as the wax and scents at the bottom of his garden near the Mournes…but really, he’s a very down-to-earth and lovely guy who happens to produce what are, in my opinion, the world’s best candles. In fact, if I had 3 things to pack for an eternity on a desert island, this Hygge candle would be a strong contender: it instantly smells like home. A collaboration between the Bearded Candlemakers and Kaffe O, ‘Hygge 2’ is a blend of patchouli, woodsmoke and chocolate that will forever remind me of my last few weeks of pregnancy. I just hope Baby Brown is as into it as I am!

Visit the Bearded Candlemakers’ shop here and follow them on Instagram here

5. Hot chocolate, Refuge 

It is a deeply-held belief of mine that there is little a good cup of hot chocolate can’t fix. It’s what I drank on my first date with Dan, what I chose as my last meal halfway across the world in a ridiculous warm Rio de Janeiro airport (they added cinnamon and perhaps a little chilli: oh goodness!), and what I crave as these long winter nights close in. So I was delighted to find Tara’s new venture, Refuge – a local company selling luxurious thick liquid hot chocolate that is eco-friendly and traffik-free. What more could you ask for? It comes in little jars ready to heat and enjoy in a mug…but I hear that a sneaky wee cold spoonful here and there does no harm, either! Perfect comfort for mamas-to-be. I’ve been handing them out like hot cakes!

Find Refuge on Instagram and at markets near you!

How to be a good writer

Thanks for the great feedback on my top 8 tips for good writing! As promised, I’m back with some friends who have generously offered their advice.

They’re an interesting mix of copywriters, marketers, bloggers, editors, songwriters, authors, and academics. Some commented on the work of being a writer, and others looked more at the act of writing itself. Read what they had to say below, and please do click on over to their websites/work!

WRITE. Don’t stop. Or in some people’s case — start. Who cares if no one reads your blog posts? Just keep writing. Start writing and don’t stop.

Gabriella Llewellyn, Tapestry Magazine

Get personal. When you write a corporate/promotional email – however many people will receive it – write as if you are writing a personal email. In other words, write from one person (you) to one person (the reader). It’s your job is to be the reader’s friend.

Secondly, take the ‘pub test‘. If you are unclear about the central point you want to make in a piece of writing, try the ‘pub test‘. Imagine you are sat next to someone in a bar or cafe and they ask you “so this story you’re writing, what’s it all about?” What would you say to them? 

Ben Cohen, copywriter and editor at Tearfund

Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.

Daniel Brown, Hugh de Lacy, First Earl of Ulster

Be authentic. Write how you know things to be. Forget the cheese and the cliches – how do YOU feel something? Write it and then read it – and then write it again. Rarely is anything perfect first off.

Use your words, and use the spaces between them too (those pauses are so important!) Just commit it to print. The ideas are what matter. Anything can be embellished after.

Emma Martin, Life at the Little Wood

Read – not the least the styles that you wish to emulate. But not too narrowly: read people who have a related but different approach. Secondly, invite critique.

Alan Wilson, JSAlanWilson.net

Write. Read. Avoid cliches.

Emma Wood, creative writer at QUB

Create distance from your writing for a period of time before returning to it for editing. This will facilitate a much more wholesome and perspective-fuelled crafting process.

Claire Hamilton, songwriter and blogger at Eanceoilblog.wordpress.com

One thing I’m working on in terms of being a good writer is being very clear about whose opinions of me matter. Writing is vulnerable, putting yourself out there – your words, your interpretations – is scary. So being sure of whose opinions matter is an important part of freeing me up to write how I want to write and what I want to write about.

Mel Wiggins, MelWiggins.com

To write well I have to have made space in my life for practices that are life-giving to me. That sounds simple, but it has taken me a long time to actually realise what those things are! And as a mum to young children I have had a tendency to try to write the moment I get some free time because that time is so precious, but I can’t actually write running on empty.

The most life-giving practices for me are reading novels and going for solitary walks. I have always been good at making space for reading, but I have to push myself to choose walking. It seems counter-intuitive to leave the laptop or pens behind but a solitary dander clears my head and resets my soul like nothing else I know, and that makes me a better writer.

Sharon Arnold, Wee Frizz

Find what inspires your writing – travelling, cooking, reading, walking, listening to music, fishing, or whatever – and make time for it. Words and ideas will often emerge and begin a sweet dance, and you’ll be itching to get back to your desk.

Tim Bechervaise, TimmyBech.com

To be a good writer, I believe it is necessary to truly live. We write well when we have a well from which to draw on. A well of experiences, observations, insights into human nature and inspiration from time spent reading/in nature/in solitude. We must be engaged with our own emotional landscape in order to write authentically.

Bethany Dawson, My Father’s House

Are you a writer? What would you add to this advice? I’d love to hear!

An overnight at Bullitt

Because we live close by, staying overnight in Belfast was never something I thought about – but when the opportunity came up to give Bullitt a try, Dan and I just couldn’t resist!

Situated between the hustle and bustle of Victoria Square and the placidity of the Waterfront, Bullitt is exactly where you want to be on a sunny Sunday in November: surrounded by shops and cool cafes, people nosying in at the recently-installed Christmas lights, and an all-round sense of chill and cheer in the air. 

We were warmly greeted and ushered up the comical lift to our room with which we instantly fell in love: moody and minimalist, equipped with everything you might need and a view of Belfast’s sunset to boot. 

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and the place was buzzing, both inside the venue and in its laid-back courtyard: late lunches and lazy coffees consumed by a wide mix of people in the Bullitt Lobby, its restaurant Taylor & Clay and its Swiss-themed bar Baltic. New to the family is Babel, a rooftop bar serving an impressive array of cocktails and ‘small plates’. 

Our stay was cosy and full of happy surprises at every corner – a luxurious bed, gorgeous-smelling soaps, absolutely delicious tea and coffee in our room and a super cute-but-handy breakfast arrangement consisting of a Bullitt paper bag with tasty fruit, locally-made granola and fresh-pressed fruit juice. 

We used Bullitt as our base while we enjoyed some of Belfast’s delights (including Christmas shopping and Christmas movie premieres…can you believe it’s almost time?!) As we left, Dan remarked that Bullitt was kind of like a Moroccan Riad – a haven in the middle of a busy city that leaves you feeling replenished and tempts you to come back even before you depart, and come back we certainly will! 

We were gifted this room as part of an Instagram promotion for Babel Belfast. 

Waiting 

31 weeks! Each week is a celebration – there have been times when I’ve not been sure we’d make it this far. But we have, and Baby Brown is growing tall (?!) and strong. I live a strange paradox: this complicated pregnancy has brought me to my knees and there are elements of it that I can’t wait to close the chapter on. But as much as I just can’t wait to meet Baby Brown, I also want to relish these last few weeks of precious time together: the kicks, the scans, the (fairly one-sided) little chats, the bump, the dreaming. I think every day of what a privilege to carry my little child inside me and I wouldn’t trade it for an easier path. 

“Waiting” is a big theme in pregnancy – semblant inactivity while something significant is bubbling under the surface (or bump!), time flying by and yet 9 months seeming SO long, an intense mix of challenge and joy. These words from a letter to the Romans in the Bible have taken on a new dimension for me during these weeks:

“Waiting does not diminish us. We are enlarged (no kidding!) in the waiting… The longer we wait, the more joyful our expectancy.”

We all know what it is to wait. I hope you, too, are “enlarged” in your waiting – enlarged in inextinguishable hope, unexpected comfort, and maybe even joy. 

4 ways to look after your mental health in pregnancy 

She embarks on her journey, she – the one in the boat, leaving her safe shore for the unknown. She carries precious cargo across deep waters. Some days are peaceful, and the anticipation of arrival fills her heart with gladness. On other days, the water wails and rises up higher than the boat, threatening to overturn it and everything she’s worked for. But on she sails, determined to reach the other side.

Maternal mental health:

before becoming pregnant, my mind automatically went to the ‘Day 3 Baby Blues’, or things like post-natal depression when I hearing those words. I’d never thought of mental health before a baby’s arrival.

As it turns out, it’s something that I’ve had to address face on, and as I have done so, have discovered that ‘perinatal mental health’ (which refers to pre, during and post birth) really should be something we talk about a lot more.

I’ve been honoured to write about my journey with PMH for Have You Seen That Girl?, a website run by my friend Lindsay, dedicated to helping mums with their mental health. I’ve also written about how my faith interplays with my perinatal mental health for Think Twice, a fabulous charity which exists to equip the Church to handle mental health well.

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I’ve found four things that have helped me ‘steady my boat’ through pregnancy. They’re relevant to pregnant and non-pregnant people alike, and I hope you find them helpful!

Flipping the switch

A good friend of mine talks about taking her thoughts captive: catching them, weighing them up and then deciding what to do with them. I’ve tried to be vigilant about catching negative or anxious thoughts. And when one makes its way into my mind, I challenge it by ‘flipping the switch’. That is, I’ll immediately think of something good, maybe something that I’m thankful for or just something that has gone well/been fun/makes me feel good about that day. And then I think of another, until I have at least three. Doing this actually changes your neurological function, and makes it much harder for negative thoughts to spiral. Maybe it helps you to imagine turning a car around – I imagine a STOP sign before flipping the switch.

Sheryl Sandberg’s 3 P’s

In her book ‘Option B’, Sandberg writes about challenging the 3 P’s when faced with difficult circumstances. She suggests trying to be mindful that what is happening isn’t personal – it isn’t caused by you; it isn’t permanent – things will change; and it isn’t pervasive – it does not need to affect the whole of your life. Measuring the 3 P’s up against my own thoughts has been a really helpful way of framing what I’m going through.

Talking about it

Talking to friends and family, and to other mums and mums-to-be sounds simple, but it’s powerful. Verbalising things can make them less scary or big – and we find that we are not alone.  This is normal (even though it’s not OK). We are worth taking care of. If reading this marks your first step towards better mental health, welcome: I like to imagine you sitting across from me, hands around a mug of something warm. There are so many others like us, and so many who can help. Reach out. Talk to someone. You are not alone.

Counselling 

I found a fantastic counsellor who is also a midwife and offers a set ‘course’ of four sessions for women who are dealing with complicated pregnancies, traumatic births and post-natal difficulties. This helped me process the shock and trauma (with a small ‘t’) of what has happened, think about how to trust my body through pregnancy, birth and caring for a newborn, and develop some mechanisms for relaxing and staying calm. I’m a firm believer that everyone could benefit from counselling at any stage of their journey, and it has really helped me in this particular stage of mine!

Your mental health is precious, and worth looking after. It is normal to experience issues at any stage of the birthing process, and it’s OK to talk about them. You’re not alone. And things will get better.

 

Be still 

“Maybe this is your time to learn to be still.”

My throat tightened: “I’m not sure I know what that means.”

“Well, that’s where you start.”


I had just told my dad I’d been signed off work after a scary hospital stay and introduction to the term ‘complicated pregnancy’. Minutes before, my doctor had told me to pretend I was back in hospital and to keep my heart rate as low as possible. “And this is not the time to spring clean”, he said, as though he could read my mind. I promised I wouldn’t but couldn’t help my mind racing to what – anything – I could do. What kind of diet or exercise could I practice to get better? “No.” A good doctor knows grammatical errors will increase their words’ theatrical effect.

That’s that, then. I was signed off and under house arrest for 6 weeks.

During that time, and since then in a new, different chapter of life, ‘being still’ has, perhaps paradoxically, been something I’ve had to actively do. To me, it looks like daily choices and rhythms that remind me to pause – to stop, even; to choose stillness over other things…things that I’m more used to. It looks like switching things off, embracing space and silence, letting go of endless lists, saying yes and saying no, logging out. It means learning to breathe again, taking my time as I inhale each mouthful of air deep into my lungs and notice how it travels through my body before it switches places with the next. Being still is mindful, active, deliberate.

But there’s nothing revolutionary there, is there? I could have written that paragraph in the doctor’s office. What’s taken me by surprise over the last few months, though, is what I’ve lost as I’ve started learning to be still.

I’ve lost part of my identity. I’ve always been a ‘doer’. A list-maker. An achiever. I realised, only after it was taken away from me, that my ability to actively contribute something to the world was an big way in which I viewed myself. I found my worth in what I could do, or what I could give to those around me. And when I was unable to do that, something had to change.

My friend Emma was helping me think this through recently, and I described myself as a tree that wasn’t flowering (I realise this is an ironic statement to make when growing a HUMAN CHILD, but it’s how I felt). I lost my fruit, and became a winter tree. This didn’t sit well with me.

But then I remembered that life is seasonal. Parker J. Palmer, in praise of winter, writes of the gift that

“…is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things.”

He also talks about another gift that comes in the season:

“Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being.”

Through winter’s clarity and rest, I have learned that even when I am completely still, I am valuable.

Brene Brown calls this ‘wholehearted living’. She says that it

“…means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night and thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

Losing my leaves has brought me the gifts of winter…gifts that I’m still learning to receive. My value isn’t found in what I do or don’t do – it runs deeper into my roots and very core than any leaf or branch could possibly convey.

Here’s to winter and embracing the stillness.

PS: I really recommend both Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak and Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. 

8 tips for good writing

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Maybe it was the post-it notes my mum used to slip into my lunchbox, or the teacher who lived and breathed his craft. Or maybe it was the chance to discover other world and to cast a new light on my own: I’ve always loved writing and reading. And chances are, if you’ve clicked on this post, you do too. Hello!

I write for work, and for pleasure. And I’m often asked what I think makes good writing…and a good writer. As someone eternally learning and exploring the art, I am thoroughly unequipped to offer a definitive guide. But, through my travels, these thoughts have emerged on what makes good writing and writers.

  1. Read. In order to be a good writer, be a great reader. I’ve never met someone who produces good writing who isn’t an avid reader. Become skilled in subject matter and thought as well as the technical aspects of style (and even just plain old grammar!) Read different genres and learn from better writers as you would from teachers in the classroom.
  2. Be curious. Observe. Keep notes on your phone or a notebook in your bag and jot things down. I have some of my best thoughts on the train or late at night. Take in your surroundings, allow yourself to ponder what seems ordinary, play around with metaphors and turns of phrase, and write it all down. Who knows when you might use it!
  3. Write what you know. Don’t force it: if you have something to say, you’ll find a way to say it. Put your own experience and thoughts and imagination into words. Carve out your niche, become an expert and address the things you know best.
  4. Throw it away. Spill your guts and commas and pictures, and then step away. Come back with a critical eye (or invite another one in, if you’re feeling brave) and get rid of stuff. Be ruthless. Draft. Write. Re-write. And then do it again.
  5. Give it some texture. Provide your reader with multiple layers to engage with. Was your coffee as bitter as your break-up? (Maybe don’t write about your break-up. I’ve just always wanted to use that simile. You’re welcome.) How will your audience feel from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads when they interact with the product you’ve just described? What colour were the trees when he awoke to fight the dragon?
  6. Write from your scars. But don’t write from your wounds. Nadia Bolz-Weber writes brilliantly about this. Let yourself heal (this may of course involve writing privately), then offer your healing to the world as a gift: don’t ask your audience to heal you.
  7. Know your audience. This is as relevant when writing marketing copy as when writing a short story for toddlers. Get to know your audience: engage with them as much as possible. Do your research. Mimic their habits or vocabulary (particularly good on social media!) One of my favourite speakers once told me he sat in coffee shops to remember who he was writing his messages for. Get out, or stay in: but always remember who you’re writing for.
  8. Create space. Write so that someone reading can say “me too”: there is nothing more powerful than finding, through someone else’s words, that you are not alone. Write to make the world a warmer, safer, better place. Build it with your words.

Eight pointers on good writing and good writers. What would you add? Stay tuned for another post coming later this month featuring some of my favourite writers’ thoughts on this!

Summer 2017 Reading List

When you’re signed off work for 6 weeks in the middle of summer (however abstract a term that is in Northern Ireland!) you really need to find something to do.  I have always loved reading and find a special kind of comfort in reading when going through difficult or uncertain times: my choices here reflect this. It’s like the authors are in your living room, teaching you what they know like older brothers and sisters. Making you laugh with their stories, and lulling you into peace with their reassuring voices. They’ve been here: so can you be.


I made it through 20 books during my down-time. (Yes, I am frustrated that number is not divisible by 6.) My top 5 are highlighted below, followed by the rest. Only one would I not recommend. Read on to find out which!

1. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a s***** first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

3. In The Shelter by Padraig O’Tuama

“To greet sorrow today does not mean that sorrow will be there tomorrow. Happiness comes too, and grief, and tiredness, disappointment, surprise and energy. Chaos and fulfilment will be named as well as delight and despair. This is the truth of being here, wherever here is today. It may not be permanent but it is here. I will probably leave here, and I will probably return. To deny here is to harrow the heart. Hello to here.”

4. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

“Sometimes the most holy thing we can do is to be still. To sit down and twirl the fork and eat the pasta we’re given.”

5. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

“Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

Other reads (in no particular order):

Travelling Mercies – Anne Lamott

The insightful story of Lamott’s spiritual journey.

Cranky Beautiful Faith – Nadia Bolz Weber

A gorgeous collection of stories and reflections on faith in the real world.

Soul Bare – various

A collection of essays on the authors’ most poignant moments.

For the Love – Jen Hatmaker

Thoughtful and challenging. Hatmaker will have you laughing one minute and bawling your eyes out the next.

We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi

Anyone seeking to understand feminism – or seeking to help other understand it – should read this and pass it on.

Scary Close – Don Miller 

A compelling tale of learning to be vulnerable and seen.

The Active Life – Parker J Palmer

I’m a Palmer fan: this is a fascinating reflection on the overlap between contemplative and active life.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed 

An agony aunt shares some of her most complex and profound correspondence.

Bossypants – Tina Fey 

Read this in one bath sitting. Enough said.

My name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout

Sad, interesting, easy-to-read.

Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown

A thoughtful and practical guide to accepting imperfection and allowing it to teach us to grow.

Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey

The story of Bessey’s own path into believing in equality of the sexes and why it has become an intrinsic part of her faith.

Big Magic – Liz Gilbert 

I was a fan of the podcast. The book, not so much.

Interrupted – Jen Hatmaker

Essential read for anyone seeking to understand how the Church can exist outside of its own four walls.

The Enneagram in Love and Work – Helen Palmer 

A helpful guide on how each number behaves in love and work, and how you can relate to them in both contexts. Great for anyone with colleagues or friends. So, most of us.

I’d love to hear about what you have been reading recently. Please send me your recommendations! I’ve just finished Bob Goff’s Love Does this week: another one I’d recommend! 

PS: I don’t know why I hadn’t explored this before, but Amazon’s used books section is INCREDIBLE. Just FYI. And local friends, let me know if you’d like to borrow any of the above titles!