Thursday, October 15, 2015

We're Moving

image by Theodore Lee via Creative Commons

We're Moving

This internet has been feeling claustrophobic lately. Well, for a while now, actually. It started shifting within me about a year ago, but into what wasn't clear.

And now, it is. 

So I'm moving. Rebranding.


You'll be able to find all the same things that you've come to love about this space over on the new site. Plus, it's prettier over there. Like, a LOT prettier.

I would love it if you'd follow along. The page you're looking at right now will remain for a bit, but eventually it will redirect to the new website.

(And if you choose not to hop along to my next with me, please know that I so appreciate the comments, love, support, and more that you have shared with me over the past years. There are not words enough for my gratitude for you. Thank you.)

Are you ready?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Looking Back on What I Wrote Last Summer by Deana Ruston

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!} 
photo by Deana

Last summer I wrote the following piece after reflecting on the value of my life. Of course, then I didn’t realize what was to come. Having gone through cancer as a young adult just recently these words I wrote ring even more true now.

I never thought it would happen to me. Ever.

I guess everyone thinks that though. I mean theoretically I was healthy, I exercised and ate what I was supposed to. Then it happened. “You have cancer.”

As I dealt with the shock and sorrow of what had come I knew I had to keep going. I’ve always been a fighter. Born at 25 weeks gestation in 1992, being a fighter was me from the beginning. I knew I had to keep fighting. There wasn’t an option not to. For the babies, born too soon, and the ones taken too early I had to keep going. That was supposed to be me. Somehow, some way I made it before and I would make it again. What I wrote in the summer of 2014 is true now more than ever. Somehow I keep overcoming. Rising above each challenge I face and continuing on serving out my purpose here on earth.

This is what I wrote last summer and looking back to what I wrote, it helped propel me through these hard times. Here it is below:

I had someone ask me the other day, what I do when the days are tough and how I get through them, here’s my response:
Let’s go back to the beginning. I was born at 25 weeks gestation in April 1992. I’m not supposed to be here. I shouldn’t be here- but I am. Somehow I made it. Many people worked so hard, so I could live. This is crazy. I beat the odds. It scares me. Some days I wonder why- why me. Why did I make it? There must be a reason why. Many families with babies born too soon, aren’t so lucky, it makes me sad. The tattoo on my right wrist, reading, “you’ve been a fighter since the beginning keep fighting” and “Strength” on my left remind me to keep going and give everything I do my best shot. I’m a miracle. I have to live everyday like I own it, I have the power to make each day the best it can be. I’m just so lucky to be here. That’s all that matters. I want to give back to the world around me, just because I’m here. It’s truly overwhelming. It’s life changing. Knowing this, going forward I can do better. I’m a fighter, I’m just in awe. Needless to say, my life has direction. I’m ready to make a difference and keep going. I can’t shake this feeling of thankfulness or joy for what I have already had. I can’t wait to see where I’m off to next, reflecting on the fact that I’m alive, I really have no reason what so ever to complain. I’m alive. I don’t need anything else. I have everything I need.

I can’t wait to continue living out my purpose here on earth. After going through all that I have in my 23 years so far this proves to me that I can overcome everything and that I’m here for a reason. I better live my life in the best way possible because everything I do has an impact. I can make change and help others by just being me. By the numbers I shouldn’t be here time and time again but I make it and keep going.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and simply how miraculous it is for me to be here. Really it is nothing short of a miracle. Some how I keep overcoming and keep going. For that I am blessed and honored. Let's keep living. It's a privilege not everyone is given.

Deana Ruston, a 23 year old from London, Ontario, Canada (about 2 hours from Toronto), studies grief and bereavement counselling at King's University College at Western University. She has an interest in pregnancy and infant loss, loves to bake, cook and volunteer. Born at 25 weeks gestation, she identifies as a fighter. She won't back down.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why We Want the World To End by Aspen Bassett

photo by Matt Johnson via Creative Commons

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!}

In my lifetime, I’ve seen countless videos, news reports, TV shows, and movies critiquing what’s wrong in our world. I’ve read blogs, books, newspapers, and Sunday comics blaming others or even ourselves for things that haven’t even happened yet. Or for things that can’t be proven. I’m twenty three years old and I’ve been told the world is going to end within the year so many times it’s become a joke. Heck, my family hosted a party for the apocalypse in 2012. Obviously, we were stood up. I would say thankfully but I know too many people who don’t agree. The world can’t get better, they say, just get it over with already.

Why do we want the world to end? Because it’s bad? Because corruption has leaked into every home? No. Because we’ve stopped loving each other. The world is in a depression and I don’t just mean financially. Let’s look at all the signs of chronic depression shall we?

According to, a non-profit guide to mental health and well-being, there are around six possible tells to see if a person is going through chronic depression and every single one of them applies to us as a nation, possibly as a world.

1. “You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult."

There are eleven screens in my family’s living room alone on an average day. There are four of us in the house. Everyone I know owns a smart phone and has it within arm’s reach at all times. Is it for emergencies? Yes. But not the 911 calls we all pretend it’s for. These screens save us, distract us from the national scale depression. We don’t want to think about the world or how hard it would be to make a difference. We don’t want to drown in to-do lists and the must-dos of life which our ancestors had to face head on. Scientists actually have a name for it. Screen Addiction. It’s today’s drug of choice and it’s completely FDA approved. Why deal with life when you can just turn on the TV and skim through Pinterest? Seriously, I’m asking as an addict. But I know there are other addictions out there too. Alcohol, drugs, coffee, pills, oh how the list goes on. They’re Band-Aids for a problem much bigger than the highest dose of your preferred poison. Because life is hard and most people I’ve met are aware that it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s just a job. It’s just a family reunion. It’s just a date. So why is everything so difficult to us?

2. “You feel hopeless or helpless.”

Not feeling in control of your life is the root cause of stress. Superheroes are really big in our literary world right now. Why do you think that is? Personally, I think there’s a lot of reasons but the biggest one is that superheroes have control. They insist on it. They stand on rooftops with bloodied knees and say “I have hope and I can help.” That’s nice to see after a long day of “I can’t do this” and “where would I even start?” Sometimes it’s not about going to the theater and watching a cute boy in tights defeat the bad guy with his puppy dog eyes. It’s about having something to believe in, something to remind us as a country, no as a world, that people can make a difference. Maybe you identify with the caped ones and wish “if only I had the power to help those around me.” Or maybe, at times much like myself, you identify with the ones on the ground looking up with soot on their cheeks and fear in their eyes because they need an extra hand. Perhaps, in a way, we as a nation crave superheroes because we want that look of hope back in our mirrors. We want to remember what it’s like to believe in something strong enough to hold our fears and sadness.

3. “You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.”

Have you ever been on Facebook and it seems like every post is a negative commentary on some random thing that happened? And then everyone gets in this argument about whether or not it was really negative, if they had a point, or if they just need to shut up and stop listening to sad music all the time? And you’re innocently scrolling down the website thinking “90% of you would never have said that in person.” Or maybe you watch this awesome YouTube video about some gifted singer and then you scroll down and everyone’s bashing her because her teeth weren’t straight? I know so many people who are good but when they get on the Internet, they almost all change personalities. Take me for example. I have to watch myself when I’m online because there’s no repercussions if I written-ly attack the people I don’t agree with. But it’s not just the negative comments on twitter or whatever else is out there that depressed people have a hard time controlling. It’s the thoughts inside one’s mind. Can you think of anything or anyone that, as soon as the idea crosses your mind, you’re bitter? That’s it, you think, it’s people like that that’s why the world is ending. I personally don’t know anyone who can confidently say “There’s no soul I can’t love.” Remember, tolerate and love are two very different words.

4. “You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating.”

Yay! That’s an easy one for America! In the top three of the most obese countries. Last I checked anyway but that was before we made such a fuss about twinkies. Deepak Chopra wrote a book called What Are You Hungry For which talks about why we can’t control our cravings. Why I prefer to over eat rather than stop when I feel comfortable or deal with the things I have to do after lunch. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. I’m too busy eating fries and Pinteresting to actually read it. The hit TV show Supernatural had a seasonal villain who manipulated our food in order to turn us into the perfect herd. I personally don’t think they were too far off from the truth. But the sad fact stands that all the food manipulation and corruption is out there in the open. People know. They just don’t care. Some food industries take out the nutrients in their products so our bodies will insist we eat more in order to get the required amount. This is a fact yet I still buy their products.

5. “You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual.”

Is it just me or are we in a lot of wars right now? And I’m not just talking overseas. I’m talking right here at home. In the schools and movie theaters and everywhere else that people shoot or attack or go crazy. People yell and scream at each other and maybe you don’t see it all the time but it’s there and it’s in your town. I know, there are times when I tell myself I can be patient, I can shrug it off because it’s not a big deal and logically I know it’s nothing worth making a fuss over but something inside me feels like the camel’s back the moment it snaps. Suddenly, I’m struggling to control my voice, my tears are already on high, and we’re bashing pet peeves like gladiators to the death.

Then there’s the last but certainly not the least tell of chronic depression. The big ol’ number six.

6. “You have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case.)”

 Okay, maybe the big literary wave of post-apocalyptic literature isn’t a subconscious plea for the end of the world. Maybe there aren’t people out there warning us that if we don’t change our ways, the sun will eat us up. But would you turn your head if your friend had suicidal thoughts? Are we not, as a nation and possibly a world, crying out for help? Do we not fear that our future holds only sun burns and empty wells, too many people and not enough bees? The world could end. That I believe. But if it does it will be by its own hand.

If a person has suicidal thoughts, they’re encouraged to reach out for help both to those who love them and a professional. If a world is feeling suicidal, to whom can it turn? Who loves the world unconditionally?

And that, my friend, is the clincher. Because the world is a combination of every single being within it. Every soul, body, and mistake. Yet we are plagued with racism, sexism and so many other kinds of -isms that people just started hyphenating them. The problem isn’t racism because we’re all one race. It’s not sexism because it’s not just one gender’s problem. It’s all conditional-ism because it’s about people who refuse to love until certain conditions have been met. It’s about seeing the world as one being that hates itself, can’t see any point to go on, and doesn’t have anyone to turn to for help. It’s about seeing the people around us as parts of the same being, who need hope and can give it back.

I love the parenthesis in the last sign of depression. “Seek help immediately if this is the case.” I do believe the world is seeking help. It’s going inward. It’s asking us. Alone, we cannot do it. Together, it could be as easy as breathing. I guess there’s only one way to know for sure. Love the people around you and allow yourself to become aware of any changes. Does your personal world become healthier? Like an organ regaining strength? It did to me. Either way, thank you for reading, and I love you.

Aspen Bassett is a writer who works as a librarian on her spare time. She's been published in multiple anthologies including Oomph: A Little Super Goes A Long Way, Inaccurate Realities: Time Travel, and Inaccurate Realities: Superpowers. Follow her on her website to see how to turn your life into a hero's quest.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Amazon Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015

photo by Jonas Tana via Creative Commons

I love reading physical books -- I love the feel of the covers against my palms, the heft of the book, the smell of the pages. But when I am breastfeeding, I find myself with a lot of down time where I'd like to read, but holding a physical book is just clunky. Enter Amazon Kindle + their apps wonderful (free!) apps. I read so. many. books during my breastfeeding seasons thanks to them!

I also value a good deal. I have a serious problem paying $9.99 for a digital book that I won't be able to resell or give away when I'm done with it. But price those puppies at $2.99 or less and I'm sold. And because I've been spending so much time combing the internets for Kindle deals, I thought I'd aggregate some of my findings for you here on the blog, irregularly and as I can, because breastfeeding.

I haven't read all these, but they are all books that I really want to read and that the reviews speak highly of, and most of them are temporarily marked down from higher prices (a few are permanently cheapie cheap cheap). All prices are in USD. Many of these titles are free for Kindle Unlimited members and/or are available in the Kindle Lending Library, so be sure to check for those options to save even more money.

Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015
 The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Price: $3.99
Genre: Memoir, Travel/Adventure
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Price: $2.99
Genre: Young Adult
Paper Towns by John Green
Price: $3.99
Genre: Young Adult
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Price: $4.99
Genre: Humor, Memoir
Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction, Short Stories
Outlander (Book 1) by Diana Gabaldon
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Comments: Game of scones! Get it? Get it? :D
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
Price: $1.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I've been stocking up on romantic fiction to keep my head in the zone while I write the sequel to The Light Between Us, and I've had my eye on this one for a while, but until now the price has been too high for me. This is book one in a seven book series, and the rest of the series is on sale, too.
The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank
Price: $0.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I read this book and really loved it. The sex scenes were a little too graphic for my tastes, but most romance readers expect some hot sex scenes, and they didn't detract from the rest of the book for me. This is book one in a trilogy, and the other books are currently on sale at $3.99.
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram
Price: $3.99
Genre: Historical/Biographical Fiction
Comments: The hard copy of this book is also on sale at the moment for $6.99, down from $14.95.
The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Fiction
The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Romance
The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction
Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance
For Sure and Certain by Anya Monroe
Price: $3.99
Genre: YA Romance
Comments: I've been following along with indie writer Anya Monroe for a while now, and I'm smitten with her books, her Instagram, her blog. Go and read everything she has to offer, now.
Secrets Don't Keep by Elora Ramirez
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Comments: You've met Elora here on the blog before. She is awesome, and another indie author. This is her latest book, and a new release.
Price: $4.99
Genre: Poetry
Comments: You've also met Heather before. She just released this book of poetry this week!
Six Dollar Family by Stacy Barr
Price: $2.99
Genre: Personal Finance (Non-fiction)
Comments: Okay, I do not think this book is necessarily going to help anyone make six figures (and the author doesn't either, based on the book's introduction). However, I am AWFUL at budgeting/finances/planning in general. I saw this book come up under the #KindleDeals hashtag on Twitter, and after reading the excerpt and reviews I bought it because I thought it could help me. One week into implementing only one or two of Barr's suggestions and it is helping me. Good for personal finance newbies!
Emotion Amplifiers by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Price: $0.00
Genre: Dictionaries & Thesauruses, Reference (Non-fiction)
Comments: I own this one, and think it's an indispensable writing tool, especially for free.

That's all I've got for now. What are you reading? Have you seen other good book deals out there? Share in the comments!

*this post contains affiliate links. thank you for supporting the blog!

Friday, August 21, 2015

because once you are Real you can’t be ugly by Teresa Robinson

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!} 

art by Teresa

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The initial response to Suffering {emotional overwhelm, betrayal, pain, delays, slander, distress, death} is Denial: personal resistance to avoid acceptance. We slam the door in its face upon arrival and deny its very existence. Then as we stand braced against that closed door, we immediately commence racking our brain for reasons to explain {blame}:
  • Why did this happen?
  • What did I do?
  • What didn’t I do?
  • Who caused this?
  • Who must pay?

Questions asked to serve as white noise in the surreal, soundless emptiness that follows the thundering noise of our life as it slams into the brick wall of suffering. We instinctively wrap our-self in the faux comfort and rationalization that our suffering is “unexpected” — that it is not that bad, that we are not as bad off as {fill-in-the-blank}.

The pounding continues within this tailspin of pretending to control the suffering as we move into Denial — as we self-medicate by increasing the passionate intensity of our questioning. Until our emotions escalate and converge — angrily demanding a plan be devised to resolve the question of:
  • How will I survive this?

Anger stands waiting on-deck, shape-shifting as visceral blame, stoic indifference and impassioned busyness. All the while mauling us from within as we isolate our-self from anyone whose presence would threaten this inner processing; secretly blaming them for abandoning us in our time of need.

Then the circular frustration of Bargaining — if-only’s and when-oh-when’s? — it rages as we enter the eye of the suffering storm within us … Shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios that somehow would have spared us from this turmoil. Bargaining with our-self, believing:
  • I need to prevent this from happening again.

Cue Hopelessness and Depression because Suffering is not something we want to accept — and yet we futilely seek a means of avoiding it. Even as we know there is nothing we can do about it; even as we desperately seek guarantees and solutions and someone to carry the blame. Suffering is part of living. There are guarantees or deals to be made.

We circle back to Denial because we desperately want safety, some sort of a powerful force field, a razor-wire fence — a boundary Suffering cannot cross.

It doesn’t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. — Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

The safety is being Real. Denial and resistance merely intensify suffering.
The reality is: bad things happen — a lot. Our {living} includes suffering and hardship in varying levels every single day.

Being Real facilitates Acceptance. The space where we can exhale, pull away from our intercourse with paranoia, and open the blinds of our heart to see the light of Truth. The space we hold for mourning the loss caused by suffering, and for love to comfort us; to be sustained with each inhale and exhale.

Let us allow suffering its place; liberating us from the loss of energy and vision. Let us allow our flailing to serve us — strengthening us as we become Real.

Teresa Robinson aka stargardener believes each day is a canvas awaiting the elements we decide have meaning. She maps her way through with torn bits of paper, words of found poetry and splashes of paint and ink; posting field notes to Right Brain Planner and on Instagram

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Blessing for Your Rebel Heart by Amanda Fall

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!} 

photos by Amanda Fall

May you feel wildly
loved . . .
just as you are.

May you never again
diminish or debase,
soften or smother
your fiery spirit,
the unchained
of you.

May you believe
your (whole) story matters,
even/especially the mucky bits,
the secrets you usually keep,
the broken pieces you try to hide.

May you believe your worthiness
does not depend on anyone or anything
other than your own
the ringing gong you have ignored
too long, the come-to-attention
your soul is calling,

May you lose yourself
in raucous laughter,
in weep-wails
from your rebel heart,
in holy howls
of yes.

May you relax, whole-soul,
into knowing you are
radiant, through & through:
when you feel like
a total MESS.

May you feel alive
and powerful
and free,


from the top of your head
to the tips of your toes.

Just as you are.
Here. Now.

Amanda Fall is a truth-teller, love-believer, sacred-seeker, and heart-on-her-sleever. She is the proud creator, editor, and publisher of The Phoenix Soul, a fiercely indie digital magazine and community honoring life’s grit and grace.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

One More Push by Alise Chaffins

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

“One more push.”

I’d been around the birth block four previous times. I knew what those words meant. It was almost time. Almost time to hear the cries. Almost time to hold the squirming little body. Almost time to sniff the top of a baby head while pulling him close to feel that ache and release of nursing him.

But not this time. Less that 24 hours before, we found that our son had died before he was born. One more push and we would become the butt of every horrible “dead baby” joke. One more push and we would have our son, but only for a moment. One more push and we would go back to just being two. One more push and everything would change, but not in the way I had anticipated.

The doctor who was sitting at my feet was quieter than any I had experienced before. There were machines in the room, keeping watch over the process, but only for me. Only one heartbeat being monitored. No lamp warming up the area where our son would be laid. No pediatrician on call, waiting to give us an apgar score.

I took my husband’s hand, closed my eyes, and pushed. My sister placed her hand on my leg and encouraged me. My dad sat patiently by, whispering prayers as the moments slipped by.

Groans escaped my lips. They had a sense of familiarity to them, the groans of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman in transition. But they were accompanied by a foreign sound. Grief wove its way through those cries. Because I knew that this transition wasn’t from woman to mother, but from woman to the nameless person whose child precedes them in death.

I surrendered to the pain and pressure and allowed our son's body to pass from me to the world where we could hold and caress his body, but never him.

I wonder today about his own journey. His own birthing from this world to the next.

Was there Someone holding his hand as he made that journey from here to what lies beyond? Was there Someone encouraging him, whispering to him? Was there someone to let him know that it was time to surrender?

Was there Someone saying to him, "One more push"?

My faith, often smaller than a mustard seed but still holding on, says yes. It says that one day, all of us, saints and sinners alike, will hear the voice telling us, "One more push." An on that day, we will all be held.

Alise Chaffins is a wife, mother, eater of soup, and lover of Oxford commas. You can generally find her behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends and family random movie quotes. She blogs at You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.