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The "is" in this


All the swallows sing of sky,

& I try to wintry listen

to the is of this

the is in this. 


Solstice Song

Inspired by reading Wintering
this Solstice morning…



Solstice Song


Winter comes, kind & slow—

unseen behind the glitter of other gifts.

Outside, the trees root deeper.

Inside, the fire glows brighter.

And further inside, the spirit asks to rest—

asks for fewer shoulds & more stillness.

For less noise & more silence

 

& more silence

 

 

& more silence

 

 

& the winter lovers listen.

 

The Long Game of Joy

I am delighted to announce the release of my new book on the first year of marriage!


The Long Game of Joy is the book I wish I could have read before I said “I do.” It’s a blend of memoir, manual, and meditation; interwoven within the story of our first year of marriage, you’ll find practical advice from savvy relationship experts and bits of poetry for those moments when no practicalities will do. You’ll encounter a wild mix of the sacred and mundane—the Enneagram, rivers, the wound-that-heals-us, RITZ-cracker communion, the True Self, corn dogs, and a key thing called zimzum. This is a playbook for couples looking to up their game by practicing grace to live in gratitude, faith to trust, and forgiveness to love. May we celebrate marriage in all its mud and wonder, all its stains and stars. Here’s to the learning curve of love for the win. 

Below you’ll find a bit of the first chapter, “We Fought About What?” 

 

+++

 

I titled this book The Long Game of Joythough I’m not a huge fan of games—there’s usually just one winner. But I discovered that on the playing field of marriage, both players can win. On this Unified Field of Love, two can become one and know joy. 

 

Which might sound sweet…. 

 

But it’s also a marvelous-hard healing process! 

 

I confess: the first year of marriage was rough for me. And I’m pretty sure it would have been rough regardless of whom I’d married; I had too much of my own unlearning and learning to do—even though I thought I’d done it. 

 

That’s one of the many things I wish I’d known but discovered only after talking with people who’d been married 10, 20, 30, 40+ years. And after reading poems to help with mystery. And after reading books on marriage to help with practicalities. All of which I’ll reference often in these pages. Like this bit of wisdom from Winifred Reilly: 

 

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.*

 

That’s good advice for the long game.

 

And what is the long game? 

 

A long-term endeavor. 

 

A marriage…. 

 

+++

 

You can read the rest in the book (both as paperback and eBook).

 

My gratitude to Bo Stern-Brady for her lovely endorsement:   

 

Anna Elkins has the ability to capture a world of emotion, turmoil, joy, and hope in just one sentence. In her newest book, The Long Game of Joy, she tells the story of her first year of marriage with a mix of disarming transparency and delightful self-awareness that only serves to elevate the magic and mystery of love. This is the book for those who suspect that true love still exists, but it is messier, sturdier, and yet more beautiful than the fairytales have led us to believe.Bo Stern-Brady, author of Beautiful Battlefields 

 

Here’s to grace, faith, and forgiveness in all realms of life,

 

Anna (pictured here with my husband, Jared, at the start of our long game)

 


PS: If you enjoy The Long Game of Joy, please do leave a review!


PPS: And do share it in social-media-land: #TheLongGameOfJoy


 

* Winifred M. Reilly, It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse—and How You Can, Too (Gallery Books, 2017), 236.

Book Brinking

It’s almost that time…publication time! My newest book has a November due date, and as I wrap up all the pre-pub stuff, I remember all of the resources that helped me write my own. 

This photo shows a fraction of the (way-too-many!) books I read and quoted in my own upcoming book about the first year of marriage. I am immensely grateful to the authors who shared their wisdom on relationships and communication, and I hope that my writing will be helpful to others, too. 

And so, on this brink of a new book, I thank the brave souls who write about the hard things. My already-deep respect for you has grown!

Here’s to forging joy….

How to heal the world…

…give thanks, take joy

An August Nod to Machado

Some Antonio Machado magic for these dog days of summer:

And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

From his poem, “Last Night As I Lay Sleeping,” translated by Robert Bly

Blooming Through

O the courage of yarrow, 

impossibly blooming through 

abandoned asphalt. Yarrow—

meaning healing & love, 

meaning even the thickest lid 

above the wild seed of our hope

cannot contain tenacious life.  

    

Quinceañeras & Everyday Unicorns

Fifteen summer solstices ago—give or take a matter of hours—I wrote my first blog post here on Wordbody. There have been many books and paintings since then. Many things lost and a few things won. I’ve shared most all of them here. Some posts are long, considered essays. Others are the equivalent of a photo and caption. Some I think about for weeks. Others pop into my head the day I decide to post, inspired by a word or image. Like this one. 

 

You can easily guess at my inspiration. I came across this stuffed unicorn on my walk. It was much larger than it looks: almost five feet long, lying right there on the shoulder of our country road. I couldn’t help but wonder who had lost it, dumped it, or left it. 

 

These days, a unicorn is often a metaphor for a uniquely successful start-up or entrepreneur. But once upon a time—back when the equivalent of television was stained glass and tapestries—it represented qualities like purity, freedom, gentleness. 

 

I don’t have a grand plan for this post—it’s one of the quick ones. But to honor my blog’s quinceañera, I wanted to give her a gift. Not the dirty stuffed unicorn but what that mythical being once represented. Actually, I’d love for the world to give itself those gifts. Purity doesn’t have to be unique. Freedom doesn’t have to mean a financial boon. Gentleness doesn’t require a horn growing from the middle of our heads. Really, it’s a gift to know we can cultivate these things right where we are. 

 

Happy birthday, Wordbody. May the next fifteen years be full of everyday magic, too. 

 

Speck-Sized Faith

O sweet seed—

you small not yet,

smaller already.

The final flower waits

in speck-sized faith.

Come forth—unfurl 

the gentle petals

of patience.

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