thoughts one encounters when taking/editing/posting photos of oneself in clothes

I had no idea my neck looked like that. Interesting.

Can I make the neck look different? What if I stretch it out a bit?

Nope. That just looks haughty.

Okay, make some goofy faces to loosen up. You can just delete them later.

WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY HANDS?

omg Are my hands disproportionately small?

Does the disproportionately small size of my hands indicate that my ENTIRE BODY is too large? That the weight I have accepted as ideal for my bone structure is actually much larger than ideal?

Dude, what? Why do you think about bone structure so much?

It’s the default comfort for tall girls. Don’t take that way from me.

Okay, fine. Smile at the camera. DO NOT LEER AT THE CAMERA.

CRAZY EYES. Delete.

Though, it’s not much worse than all the others. Bring back that crazy eye photo.

Maybe when I see “crazy eyes,” other people see “totally normal person who is alluringly passionate about life.”

Why is my face doing that weird thing? THAT IS NOT WHAT MY FACE LOOKS LIKE.

It happened again. Okay. Maybe this is my face. This is my face. It’s a great face. PEOPLE LIKE ME, WILLINGLY SPEND TIME LOOKING AT ME, AND DON’T MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT HOW WEIRD MY FACE IS SO MAYBE IT’S NOT WEIRD.

Some have even called me beautiful. I tend to interpret this as a not-just-skin-deep kind of beauty that expresses itself in the experience more than the image of me. Which is a preferable form of beauty.

Can this experiential beauty be captured in a photo? Let’s try.

Too sultry. DELETE.

Pretty-not-sexy. Pretty-not-sexy. Relax your shoulders. Lengthen your neck. Try not to be too intense in the eye. Smile.

Oh shit I started moving after the countdown but before the shutter so now this is blurry, but…I think…everything that’s not blurry is PERFECT.

Just do the same thing again. Just be perfect on command.

Ummm…I look like I’m farting in this photo. I didn’t even know I had a Passing Gas Face.

Look at the camera. Don’t look at the camera. Don’t look at the camera but look at a very specific area to the left of the camera.

Oh, no, that’s too far. You look distracted, not bemused.

Hrm. Too close. You just look like you’re incapable of making eye contact.

Smile? Not smile?

Resting Grimace Face is not the look I was going for.

How about an open-mouth smile.

Muppet Smile.

Try a fake laugh?

Okay, this is PERFECT, facially. POST IT.

Wait. No. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY HANDS? HOW IS THAT EVEN HUMAN?

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7 books finished in 2016: The Way of the Heart

7 books finished in 2016

I did not care for this book.

Which is frustrating because 1) it was given as a gift, meant for encouragement, to the small group leaders in our church, 2) I tend to appreciate Henri Nouwen, or think I will, and 3) when I search for reviews of this book, they are predominantly positive.

I think I’m outside the intended audience of contemplative, scholarly, ministry-oriented (introverted?) folks who perhaps need a reminder, or permission, to step away and be alone in thought and prayer from time to time. At another stage of my life, I might crave solitude and silence, but right now, I feel like I have plenty of both.

let’s talk about sewing, baby

Recently, a friend introduced to me the concept of friction in projects. Or, more specifically, the idea that a well-designed workshop or workflow helps you to reduce friction. Perhaps the friction of sewing would be setting up a table, or pulling out a sewing machine from the closet, or finding all of your bits and bobs and threading the machine. Honestly, now that this concept is in my head, I find myself noticing friction everywhere!

In my sewing room, I’ve figured out ways to reduce most friction. I have a table dedicated to projects, a machine that is always sitting out, a few boxes nearby that hold all of the notions. During sewing seasons, my ironing board is standing in the middle of the room, and the extension cord for the iron is just barely kicked under a dresser (out of sight enough to spare me from tripping over it or stepping on it, but obvious and accessible). My hand-quilting projects are ALWAYS sitting right next to an armchair, so I will pull them out and stitch a little while watching shows on my computer.

So, I know that friction can be reduced. I’m quite adept at noticing and dealing with it in the physical realm. The friction that I can’t seem to address is right here, in the internet realm, where I have a blog and want to share stories, but always seem to find a million miles of sandpaper between me and the end goal.

Does anyone else feel this? Perhaps not those people who are posting entertaining, inspiring, awesome things on a weekly basis. Or, to be fair, perhaps they DO feel it and have figured out how to reduce their friction. They probably have blog posts about blogging, which I’ve probably read. So then I have to be honest that one of my biggest personal frictions is that I don’t want this blog to be work. I want this blog to sit here, waiting for me to drop things when the mood strikes, asking nothing of me and costing nothing. But then I also want it to be a place filled with deep thoughts about all the things I spend too much time obsessing over. I want to have a coherent summary of how I’ve spent my time. I want to be able to point to one page that explains why I’m a chaos muppet when I sew but an order muppet in every other area of life, because you guys, that’s something I’ve been thinking about this week, and I wonder if other people experience this dichotomy!

So, I don’t know where to start. Or, to be more honest, I don’t know where to finish this conversation. I don’t know where it’s going. I feel like it’s going to shoot off in a million directions, which could lead to a million blog posts, all which I’d like to have linked to each other in an orderly way with interesting images in every post (my own expectations of blogging perfection: FRICTION).

For now, I’m going to do two things:

-I’m going to pay attention to the friction. I’m going to write it down and maybe, at some point, decide if there are ways I can reduce some of it. But more importantly…

-I’m going to ignore the friction. I’m just going to write. It’s going to be incoherent. I’m probably going to ramble, a lot, or reference fully formed thoughts that I haven’t yet shared with you (and possibly never will). I’m going to just let this be the messy jumble of things that fall out of my head, which is what the old header of this blog used to say, because I needed to confront that specter* of blog perfection every time I came to this page.

*FYI if you google that word to make sure you’re spelling/using it correctly, you’ll discover that there is a new Bond movie coming out this year. I’m not sure why you’d do such a thing, or whether or not you’d be excited about such news, but that’s a thing that happened. #blogrealness

a list of existential thoughts

(compiled in the middle of the afternoon on an uneventful day)

Who am I?  Why?  How does that express itself?  Are any of these expressions unhealthy?

What am I doing?  Do I want to be doing this?  Does that matter?  What else would I be doing?  Could I?  What’s standing in my way?  Is it merely fear of failing?

What other fears are holding me back?  Do I really want to ask that question?  Can I take it back?  No?

Why can’t The Internet entertain me sufficiently?  What is this big gaping hole I feel in my heart right now?  Is it supposed to be there?  Or is it leftover from something?  Did I put it there?  Did someone else?

Can’t I just take a nap?

37 books finished in 2014: The Gift of Asher Lev

37 books finished in 2014

This book.

I might have to read everything written by Chaim Potok. This is my third novel, and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last.

This picks up the story of Asher Lev, 20 years after the book that introduced him. It was great to revisit this family and their conflicts, and to see ways they’ve changed – softened, hardened, become accustomed to their differences. What impresses and intrigues me most is the way the author communicates conflict through subtext. He’s capturing the way one wrestles with God, with the ways we avoid tough questions, the ways God reaches down and speaks through unexpected means – in Asher’s case, it’s often through his mindless sketches or confusing dreams.

But mostly, I love the way this book expresses our discomfort with ambiguity. This exchange between Asher and his father is a perfect example.

Team Aryeh?

What I love most about this is that I AGREE with everything Asher’s father is saying, even though I know he’s being closed-minded, because I want the world to be simple and uncomplicated and I want all questions to be answered with yes or no. Sometimes that binary view of the world is useful, but often it restricts us from…oh man, I’m about to start talking about the next book I finished, which I’ll be posting soon, since we’re getting through the holiday backlog. (I basically avoid my computer when I’m on holiday.)

I love when the things I’m reading all converge into a big ball of life lessons. Or, maybe it’s more that I can see my current conflict in every story, because the desire for control and stability in an unpredictable world is quite universal.