Books have souls

I had convinced myself that I really loved reading. That I was a voracious bookworm, just itching at every chance to read whatever book had a sad-looking folded up bookmark in the pages. I convinced myself that dog-earing a page in a book was a travesty, and that turning the page not from the bottom corner was senseless mutilation.

I realized only a few years ago that I’d convinced myself of lots of lies about books. I was in love with the idea of reading, curling up on the couch with a blanket and beverage, and just getting lost in the pages. I saw myself in a sunlit room encapsulated by smartly stocked bookshelves with books just waiting to jump off the shelves and land in my lap.

How deceived I was.

The problem was that I lacked an internal motivation to read. Sure, it looked great when I logged “Read” on my Goodreads (one of the best apps in my opinion, btw). Wow, I started a book that was at least 300 pages on December 20 and finished it on December 22? Go me. You love to read.


It wasn’t until I was reading some wisdom from writer Rosie Leizrowice that I realized what my internal motivation could be. Forgive me because even after perusing some of her essays I cannot find the exact quote, but she wrote something about how we take a piece of each book we read with us. Books form us, they color the world we see. And I say, the reason we’re drawn to books is because the story has us as the star.

Once I realized that and started to believe it, I really got down with some books on my couch. Over my winter break I read no fewer than 4 books. Four books in 12 days for me is no small feat. That means, folks, that I actually had to be focused on something for a lot period of time. Something that I had to make come alive in my head, put a voice to.

Once I realized that my squirrelly mind could be occupied by a book long after I finished it, I began (again) to like to read. Now that I understand that my life can be informed and transformed by what I read, it’s interesting to me (again). And dare I, the nonfiction lover of all time, say that I even see a purpose in reading fiction.

To be truthful, I did have a bit of external motivation for my little tryst over winter break. I wanted a damn coffee mug from the library for completing the winter challenge. Committing to the challenge hearkened back to summers spent riding my bike to and from the library to check out books, most of which I actually wanted nothing to do with, and fill up lines on a piece of paper for a small prize.

Still in the dead of winter, I sit on my couch with my blanket and (new!) mug, actually reading because I want to. Imagine.


Homeownership a Year Later: The Main [Flood] Event

Homeownership is a sought-after status in our society today, and Aaron and I settled into this when we were ready, finally ready. We had our downpayment, we had our debt paid off (yaaassss! be gone student loans!) and we knew we’d be in the area for a long enough time to justify buying a home. It had been something we’d looked forward to for nearly our entire relationship.

Closing. We closed on our house on April 24 of last year, so we joke around that Aaron bought me a house for my birthday (the 22nd). Closing would be at 5pm on that Monday, so we rushed to the realtor’s office and signed more paper than we’d ever signed in our lives. Even more than Aaron signed to go into the military. Our lender was there (found him through Churchill Mortgage – amazing people to work with) and he came ready with shrimp salad sandwiches from well-know gas-station-turned-crab-shack Richard’s here in Harford County. Thank goodness because I was hungry, and certainly didn’t want to be hangry!

We were happy that the inspection went well and the house appraised for what we had settled for. We were shelling out a chunk ‘o change, but felt good about it. We went to our rental house that night to pick up some things and we slept in our new home that first night on blankets on the floor. No way we were waiting any longer!

The goal. I’d like to recap some of the main events of the year, some regrets, and some pictures. We sure are happy about our purchase a year later, and hope to be here for a long time. We fell in love with our town before we moved here, and that hasn’t changed. The neighborliness of people, the small-town but progressive feel, and the lovely restaurant/bar choices have helped make so-called HdG feel like home.

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The Main [Flood] Event. On the Friday after we moved in, literally 4 days, I was doing laundry and running the dishwasher at the same time and we heard water running somewhere else. The toilet in the downstairs half bath had flooded, and we thought it was just a clogged toilet. It wouldn’t go down despite much plunging and two trips to get plungers. I had, um, used the bathroom, and Aaron told me months later that he was mad at me because he thought it was my fault! Turns out, it wasn’t.

We had a large deductible because hey, we just moved into this nicely rehabbed home so what could go wrong, right? Wrong! Roto Rooter was the only company that would come out on a Friday night. Water mitigation began the next day, and imagine our surprise when the plumber still couldn’t find the problem and the bathroom sink ended up overflowing (yes, with poop water).

Sections of the beautiful hardwood were cut out and we learned that it might be impossible to find the same hardwood again. Thankfully our realtor was able to get in contact with the guy who did the house and we didn’t have to replace the entire first floor floor.

After time spent trying to send a small camera into the sewer pipe, they started excavating the concrete floor of the sunroom to the left of what you see above. I thought they might have to dig into the kitchen too. Instead, they pulled out a piece of old terra cotta sewer line (the rest of the house is PVC) and found a die-cast toy car that had been blocking the line.

See it there in the middle? Yellow and covered with… well…. you know.

We thought about framing it and titling it “the most expensive car we’ve ever owned”. But it got buried with the new PVC pipe (no, not in it). Thankfully because of the nature of the blockage (i.e. NOT OUR FAULT) insurance picked up most of the repairs minus our (high) deductible and some of the plumbing cost. Needless to say, we lowered our deductible shortly after this event.

In June, the contractors finally got everything done – new hardwood installed, new walls, new paint, new tile. We still had people over for a Memorial Day cookout, and the ripped up floor and bathroom certainly made for an interesting conversation starter. And for months anytime we heard water running our heart rates spiked a little bit.


The word eternal automatically brings up images of silky white fabric that twists gently in a breeze, fastened onto something on one end but the free end extends far beyond what our eyes can see. Even our mind’s eye.

An eternal forces compels us every day. Why else do we seem and seek to have a greater meaning to our lives? Even superheroes, who are fictional, speak to us through the eternal forces that cause them to throw themselves into danger and protect their fellow man.

I think it’s so comforting to know that there’s a world beyond this one. Something greater and that lasts forever. I think by definition of the universe there has to be forces beyond ourselves that transcend human understanding. By that I mean God. There has to be something out there.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1‭-‬14 NASB

Yoga made me cry.

As I was standing in the last tadasana of my practice with hands at heart center, it hit me how actually close to my heart I had become. In the third floor ‘bonus room’ of our new beautiful house, with windows open and sweat (or humidity) dripping off my body, I realized that more unity had been cultivated between my mind and body in the past several months than I realized. This realization brought on tears that I didn’t expect.

I hadn’t even finished my coffee yet.

When one’s body doesn’t perform or operate as it should, it’s frustrating. I would even say that it can be damaging to one’s psyche. I’m no psychologist or clergyperson, but I can imagine that without unity between one’s body, mind, and soul, the body is no longer revered as a ‘temple’. What I believe is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit  but I’ve been defiling my temple for a long time.

When I think of not loving my body, I first think of hating how I look in the mirror, scoffing at the number on the scale, or eating copious amounts of whatever food will bring me comfort. But — always, always, always — these seemingly superficial manifestations of the lack of self-love stem from a deep-seated disunity among mind, body, and soul.

I’ve medicated with food, with alcohol, with running, with CICO (calories in, calories out). And all these things help a little bit, whether it’s by dulling the pain, creating more pain, or giving a sense of accomplishment. Ultimately, however, I have to find a balance and heal myself from the inside out in a way that’s sustainable in the long run.

This isn’t about healing my body so that I can carry a child. Friends, that ship has sailed and is half way around the world by now. What I’m discovering is that my mind-body connection, my temple, has to be healed for me. And then, from there, I can fulfill my purpose in life. I can then pour into my marriage, into my students, into relationships with colleagues and bosses and neighbors and fellow congregants.

So, how do I fix a broken temple? How do I rebuild? Truly it’s not built in a day. It took weeks, months, years of deterioration to destroy what God created as good — my body, mind and soul — and therefore it’ll take time to rebuild.

I’m not saying I have to cry and show emotion like I did in my yoga practice in order to rebuild my temple. But for me, that’s how I roll (I’ve mentioned before how much like Kristen Bell I am), and that’s how I know something’s working. Something’s hitting a nerve.

In yoga (and I’m an amateur so hear me out), your body can never be far from your mind. Even in savasana, you feel the ‘earth’ beneath you and are aware of the air, the noises, the breath.

What I absolutely love about the end of yoga practice is that no matter how aligned or how klutzy I was, I just spent time with my body in a positive environment seeking new challenges and bringing things into alignment. I come from death back into life, and it’s a new chance to honor my temple so that I can do the work meant for me since the beginning of time.