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Oh, the Places We Go!

Ten springs ago, I walked the hills of Wales. I was in the middle of making a choice, and this little pedestrian path sign seemed like the perfect metaphor for choices. 


It also reminds me of these lines from the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose. 


That day on the path, didn’t know that I’d make a really bad decision later that year. Nor that I’d make a really good one not long after.


Interestingly, all those Welsh paths eventually led back to the same trailhead. 

 

Interestingly, all of our choices—bad and good—lead us right where we need to be. Even if we feel lost in some landscapes and seasons.

 

I guess this post is a kind of blessing on our choices—a reminder of the great gift choice is.   

 

Happy trails, happy choosing,

 

Anna

 

 

The Heart That Took Flight

Happy Book Birthday!

I was rummaging around in my old blogs looking for something this morning when I made a happy discovery: my first little book, The Heart Takes Flight, just turned 10, almost to the day!

This illustrated vignette was a labor of love. In fact, it was born out of what I thought was lost love. I had met my now-husband the summer before, but it hadn’t worked out at the time. Heartbroken, I decided to finally write a book. About hearts, of course.

I had no idea how prophetic this little book would become. It was the first of six published books (and counting!). It traveled the world with me in subsequent workshops. And it’s a continual reminder that when we feel like we can’t go any further as we are, we are being invited to grow a whole new way to move through this world. 

Here’s to heart-flight. 

Love,

Anna

Blessing of Endurance

Deep in the umpteenth revision of my book, I feel like toddler-me knew exactly how I feel.

I’m saving my writing juice for the Big Project, so this month’s post is a little encouragement to press on & press through. And maybe remember the determination we had once upon our little selves!

Plus something lovely from John O’Donohue’s poem “For the Interim Time:”

The more faithfully you can endure here,

The more refined your heart will become….

Blessings of endurance,

Anna, now & then

 

S is for…

One of the things I learned from my husband:
Shoe Goo fixes most everything!

Part of my book-writing process is creating a list of terms: alphabetized proper names and odd or specific spellings. This is helpful both in style sheets for future copy editors but also when I can’t seem to remember if “corn dog” is one word or two. 

The list of terms for my current book on the first year of marriage is now ten pages long, and when I skimmed through looking for something the other day, I thought that some of the letters read like little found poems. And so, I share the letter S here. 

(Random things I did not know: what was once the capitalized acronym SCUBA is now lowercase scuba, and Snoop Dogg spells his name with two Gs. Always learning!)

Saint Lucia

Saint Teresa of Ávila

Sarah & Byron 

Sarah & Christer

schnapps

Scott Valley

Scripture

scuba

Seinfeld

Serenity Prayer

Sharpie

shawarma

shish kebabs

Shoe Goo

Shriners

Six Mile

Skycrest Trail

Smith (River)

s’mores

Smucker’s

Snoop Dogg

Sour Patch Kids

Southern Oregon

South Kelsey Trail 

South Fork Salmon (River) 

The Space Between

Spafford, Horatio

Spectrum

Sperry

Sporos

Springdale

Sriracha

Starsky & Hutch

Steens Mountains

Subaru

summa cum laude

Sunrise Point

Symphonic Chronic

A Compass of Love

A few Decembers ago, I painted this little heart compass. I had words for each of the four points that I wanted to cultivate in the coming year, but I remember deciding not to write them onto the paintingto leave it open for future words. 

I was also leaving it open to share it with othersfor your words. 

This is my Happy New Year’s hope: may you point your heart in the direction of all that is good & peaceful & beautiful in the coming year.

Blessings & joy,

Anna 

 

In the Middling

I could call this photo “Miles per Life,” quoting myself from the last time I turned the age of a speed limit. But 10 years on, I don’t think that phrase quite works with such little numbers. There have been so many more miles than 45.  

For my 45th birthday, I wrote myself a quick little poem, as I did for my 35th (you can find that one here). I’m sharing it below for all of us in the vague realm of middle age.  

As an adjective, “middling” means average, moderate. As an adverb, it means fairly, moderately. And though I’m not necessarily a fan of average—or adverbs!—I like the idea of navigating this life moderately. Grace to us all as we try.

 

Middling 

 

Ever lover of edges

and brinks,

I don’t know what to do

with middles—

the center 

the belly

of life.

 

The softness scares me—

far from either hard

start and end.

 

One friend just gave birth.

One friend just died.

Give and take.

Maybe life is in 

the “and” of grace. 

Five Wise Things

Beneath Baker Mountain on our recent road trip

I’m writing a book on the first year of marriageit was a wild ride! Besides the “primary research” of experiencing matrimony for the first time, I’ve also researched by reading a lot of books. A lot. And most all of them were filled with gold. In fact, I dog-eared so many pages, I couldn’t even make a stack of the 30+ books—it was too lopsided.  

I’ve since gone back through, freed the folded edges, and typed up some of my favorite quotes. My wonderful problem right now is deciding which of the 20-pages of quotes to include!

 

For now, I’d love to share five wisdom-chunks that will likely make it into the final draft. May they bless you the way they’ve blessed me: 


 

“I believe one of marriage’s purposes is to teach us how to forgive.” 

 

—from Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More than to Make Us Happy?  by Gary Thomas.

 


“I thought of how helpful it would have been to have learned, early on in my marriage, that not every problem can be solved and not every irritant can be negotiated away, that a good marriage is a mixture of delight and disgruntlement, that unhappiness comes from expecting it to be otherwise.” 

 

—from It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse—and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly.


 

“[T]he best way to work on ‘us’ is to start with ‘me.’” 

 

—from Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler


 

“The trick to achieving the kind of connection you want is to develop the advanced relationship skill of binocular vision, the artful ability to see your partner’s perspective as well as your own.”

 

—from How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love & Steven Stosny

 


“Marriage is the perfect opportunity to improve yourself. No other single setting in life can form more character.”

 

—from Two Become One by Dr. Harold R. Eberle

 

Ginna Gordon Author Talk

Go directly to the event page for details
A graphic promoting Ginna Gordon's October 22 online book launch.

Our Arts & Letters Zoom Chats invite you into the homes and studios of local artists and authors



The page header showing the covers of Ginna's three novels and a photo of her.

Join Ginna BB Gordon to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Humming in Spanish


Based on the fictional journals of Stefani Michel, Humming in Spanish is the third volume in Ginna’s Lavandula Series. This multi-generational saga is set in the fictional Sweet Farm, a Carmel Valley, California lavender farm of some local renown.

Learn more about this series on the Lucky Valley Press website.

To celebrate her new novel, Ginna will talk about the book, chat with Anne Brooke Hawkins (Art Presence Art Center’s Director), and answer questions from attendees.


Join us Friday October 22 at 5:00pm Pacific

Ginna BB Gordon is the author of ten books, a multi-media artist, and co-owner of Lucky Valley Press in Jacksonville, Oregon. She’s also the regular host of our Arts & Letters Series.

REGISTER NOW

Arts & Letters events are free but advance registration is required.

This event will be in webinar format — attendees are not visible to the host or each other.
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Visit us online: https://art-presence.org

Art Presence Art Center, Jacksonville Oregon
Visit Ginna’s publishing company online: www.luckyvalleypress.com Lucky Valley Press, Jacksonville Oregon

A collage of 21 book covers designed by Lucky Valley Press

Peace Like That

 

I’m a metaphorical girl—I see connections everywhere. This year, I learned the word apophenia: the tendency to look for connections among unrelated things. I’m pretty sure I have a not-so-mild case of it. Whether through simile or metaphor, I am constantly comparing unlike things to better understand abstractions. 

 

In fact, here’s a metaphor: our marriage is a fascinating case of apophenia!

 

Which brings me to rivers. I spend A LOT of time on rivers since I married a man who loves them. And this spring, I’ve wondered about that metaphorical comparison of “peace like a river” in Scripture (Isaiah 48:18, 66:12).  Spend time on even a single river, and you realize that rivers are varied: once section might be placid as a pond. The next might be a white-water “boulder garden” your husband inexplicably wants to kayak through. 

 

Peace like which part of the river?

 

Like all of it. Like: peace in all the river sections, from frog water to Class V rapids. 

 

And peace in the snags—the fallen trees and root masses that accumulate along a shore. They can impede progress. But they can also create little eddies of stillness out of the fast current and give you a place to pause before you continue your journey. I kid you not, I had that snag realization by a river one morning, and that same afternoon, Jared and I got into a massive snag-fight. We got caught on the jagged edges of stuff we’d let accumulate along our shore, but once we pressed through, we found a pool of peace. Someday, we may even remember that there can be peace in the snags, too. 

 

I have an old hymn stuck on repeat in my heart: “When Peace, Like a River.” That song has always held power for me. It was originally titled, “It Is Well With My Soul” for its famous refrain: “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” But I didn’t learn why it was so powerful until last fall, when our friend came for dinner and played us the song on his guitar, telling the back story. 

 

Horatio G. Spafford wrote the hymn in the nineteenth century. He was a prosperous businessman in Chicago. He and his wife had a son and four daughters. Things were going well—until they weren’t. They lost their son to scarlet fever. Then, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of Horatio’s real estate, wiping out his life savings. He decided to take his family to England to try and start over. Right before he planned to leave, a business deal arose that could help his family, so he decided to send his wife ahead of him with their daughters. 

 

The boat carrying his family shipwrecked. His wife survived, but all of their daughters died. As soon as he received the news, Horatio took the next ship to be with his wife. At one point on the voyage, the captain told him they had reached the spot where his children had drown. And there—in the place of deep loss and sorrow—he wrote a hymn of peace. Here are the first lines:

 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

Refrain

It is well, (it is well),

With my soul, (with my soul)

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

That man’s understanding of grace takes my breath away. It makes me game to learn the currents of peace like a river. 

 

I want peace like that. 

Flower it Forward

 

The thoughtful Del Rio Vineyards offers our little valley a big gift: rows of U-pick zinnias below their hillsides of vines. 

The only catch? For each bouquet you pick for yourself, you pick two for others. “Flower it forward.” 

I like this double-happiness approach to “pay it forward.” Not just singly, but doubly. 

Thank you, Del Rio, for reminding us to give more than we get. I’m excited to deliver these bright gifts.