Thursday, August 28, 2014

MOVING DAY! (Making it Official)

Dear friends,

I am making this official. It is time for me to close up shop here and take all my energy to my new website.

I'll admit, I was torn for a while. I learned a lot here. I wrote a lot here. I didn't want to just "give it all up." But I am the same me over at my new site as I have been here. In essence, because of course I have been growing and changing. Changing can often bring about a crisis of identity, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Like St. Benedict's Rule? "Always we begin again." I am practicing new beginnings. I am emerging from the fog and the funk of transition and I want to make sure no one gets left out of the loop.

You can find me hanging my virtual hat over at  It's really quite a wonderful place. I have spent many loving hours putting my touch on it. As in life, we are always in progress and process; so it is with my site. Not everything is how I want it permanently, but it's looking and feeling like home. So I want to invite you over. What does the new site have to offer?

Here's a little tour:

1. A fresh, and refreshing look. Calm, peaceful colors and a very clean layout. It's easy on the eyes. And I feel like it in some way expresses who I am and what I love.

2. A newborn blog. It has been up since June and babies are newborn until they are three months old, right? (At which point my blog will be considered an infant? I don't know. Please don't follow everything I say to a logical conclusion. It will be a lonely journey. ;) :D )

On the blog, I talk a lot about writing, and poetry, and I mix in the authenticity of real life moments as well. And we all know that real life can sometimes be terribly awkward and unromantic, but I'm sure we can laugh that off together.

3. Some music samples. Samples as in full songs, but I use "samples" because I have only published a few from my album onto the page. When I have time, energy, motivation, I may add more. So, uh, stay tuned? Wah. Wah.

4. A Poetry page! This is my favorite right now. I have a new page up since last week. I challenged myself to write a poem every weekday. It doesn't have to be good, or fancy, or profound. I just have to do it, to stretch my mind and express my heart. That, of course, means it will be a delightful mixture of shadow and sun, because I am human. I will include a PROMPT from time to time, because I love my readers and I believe anyone who wants to can be a poet.

5. A brand new About section. I have a new, up-to-date photo. A new, up-to-date bio. And there's a contact form, the better to reach me with, my dears. You will also find a lovely link all dressed in blue, tucked beneath the contact form. This is a convenient way to access my story-coaching services.

6. You can still subscribe!!! Yay! I know I am asking a lot. You are already subscribed here, but there is no way for me to transfer your subscription to a different site. I want to invite you with all the warmth of my heart. (Which according to the latest personality test, I was compared to a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, so that's pretty inviting!) Please do come on over and enter your email address in the box on the right margin of my blog, just underneath the social media links. I'll be thrilled to have you! Thrilled, I tell you!

I know change is hard. I'd been dragging my feet. But now? It is time. Join me on my new adventure?

Ever so much love,

Jamie (aka Ava Anomaly)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Five Things I Have Learned From Other Bloggers

1. From Esther Emery: Ambition is a GOOD word. Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I don’t get to live and work on my dreams, too. It’s costly, risky, but worth it to remain true to my desires and reach for the things I want to do in life. I don’t have to wait until my kids are grown, or for any other number of factors to fall in place. I can do a little bit each day. And even when it’s hard, I can draw from that deep source of strength and hope, whom I like to call Spirit, and do it anyway.

2. From Marvia Davidson: A positive word is far more powerful than any number of negatives, and is much more likely to gain our desired results. I steer clear of the brands for the brands’ sake, the shaming and blaming, or the militant need to be right, and focus instead on the messages of hope, grace, and freedom. Does that mean I don’t believe in bringing strong words in favor of a cause? No. It means I believe in creating space for differences, as long as there is mutual respect. (I have zero tolerance forever toward bullying.) But what I have learned from Marvia is that encouragement IS a superpower, and it gets the job done well and beautifully. It builds up, in the truest sense. I always walk a little taller after reading her words.

3. From Elora Ramirez: I matter just as much as everyone else, and so do my words. Elora is the first person who really drove that home to me. She told me to look myself in the mirror and call myself GOOD at what I do, and it was then the magic switch came on and I began to truly believe it. She taught me how to SEE my self. Literally and literarily. (Ahem. A girl just wants to have fun sometimes.)

4. From Trina Holden: Why yes, I CAN call myself a writer. My mom introduced me to Trina’s blog a few years back and one of the first things I read was the affirmation that if I write and I am serious about writing then I get to call myself a writer. I can’t find the original post I read, but I did locate her encouraging e-book on how to find fulfillment in blogging in spite of your stats. Which was another great thing I learned from her.

5. From John Blase: The best kind of poet is an authentic poet. From the mundane to the daydream, all writing topics are sacred when they come from the heart. Take some time today to read some of his poetry- I can’t imagine you regretting it.

I wrote the first five things that came to mind. I know of so many more bloggers with amazing words to share and I wish I had time to highlight them all now. There is a lot of goodness in the blogosphere- people dedicated to their craft and their creativity without compromise. These are the kind of writers I am drawn to. Honest. Authentic. Non-competitive with each other. It’s a refreshing taste of the beauty of the human spirit awake, alive, and open to possibilities. I am privileged to listen and learn from these great people.

This post is part of a 40 Days of Blogging challenge hosted by Story Sessions Community.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What I Loved About June

I can't believe it has been over a month since I updated this blog. I've been preoccupied with a number of things, and I'm showing up to tell you how some of my June days were spent.

I've been over at my new place quite a bit. I began a new site on Squarespace,, in order to have a place to focus my poetry, contemplative reflections and writing tips. If you are interested in those topics, please head on over and subscribe. (My Book of Hours is still a free download for a little while longer.)

Here are ten things I loved about June.

1. Story Sessions Retreat 

I took the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of the women in Story Sessions Community on a retreat in Austin, TX. It was refreshing and soul-stretching. I enjoyed having extra time for self-care and not directing activities and cutting up food into bite-sized pieces for the under 10 crowd for 4 days. My husband took time off to stay home with the kids and they all did really, really well. They even greeted me with a bouquet of roses upon my return.

Here are a few photo highlights: A. My introvert spot. B. My sleeping quarters. (I got to sleep in a loft! With lots of potted plants. It's kind of a mashup of the next best thing to a treehouse plus a garden.) C. There were writing prompts posted all about the retreat house. D. We had many gatherings in the main area complete with blankets, notebooks, comfort food and drinks, and lots of amazing conversation!

2. Photographing flowers. I do photograph other things, but flowers are my favorite. I can't help it. They speak peace into my being. 

3. Plane rides. Take off is my favorite, but landing is a close second. The third delight was having a window seat every time. I love it!

We took a trip there while the grandparents were in town. Here's my husband, in all his loveable glory.

                                    I was excited to find some poetry around the place. 

                          The kids were giddy at being permitted to play in the splash park.

5. My new dishes! 

I had been searching Target for months trying to find enough for the whole family. They must be extremely popular. The color is one of my favorites and the pattern is pretty fun, too.

 6. My new shoes. Again with the favorite color.

7. Favorite dress. I had stopped wearing it because it "hugged" my curves and I have now finally learned to accept myself as a whole woman, hips and all. No more shame.

8. Books I'm enjoying reading: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This one is giving me a much healthier view of my writing, coaching, spiritual and emotional health, and the making of art. The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle. I am learning a lot about the different personalities of children and how I can parent them according to their needs instead of just mine. And Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr, which has given me all kinds of confirmation in my pursuit of a contemplative, mystic Christianity.

9. Movies: Rise of the Guardians. This was every bit as fun as I'd heard. I actually did not get bored, which is a BIG THING for me when watching a children's movie. It's a unique spin on some classic tales and I wouldn't mind owning this one. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The new one. I had for months refused to watch this because nobody can top Danny Kaye. One must treat it as the entirely different story it is and then it is quite enjoyable. My husband and I laughed, I live tweeted and facebook posted with the virtual movie night group in Story Sessions, and even watched it a second time while the in-laws were visiting.

10. Exercising my Story Coaching skills. I led the second week of the Story 101 e-course, Capturing the Muse. I invested a lot of time, joy, and conversation throughout the week and enjoyed a fun and fulfilling group call on Fuze that I was privileged to facilitate. I got all positive, enthusiastic feedback which was quite exciting. I am so proud of all these smart women writers I get to interact with.

Those are all the updates for now. I am busy leading a 40 Days of Blogging collective and it is quite time consuming, but also fun and a great learning experience. Hopefully it will drive me to update more often. ;) Best wishes for the month of July!

Love, Jamie (aka Ava Anomaly.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Help! There's Paint In My Tea!

School is out at Bags End. For the under-five crowd, this means absolutely nothing. We are still doing the same things every day. We follow a rotation of Legos, Lincoln Logs, Mega Blocks, Coloring books, Playdoh, Netflix, the Almighty Snack, etc. And some days, when Mommy is extra brave, we pull out the watercolors.

Painting days are not for the faint of heart. Okay, let me rephrase that. Painting is actually very good for faint hearts. It is not very good for people who already have enough messes to clean up. Why do I do this to myself?

Okay, I’ll tell you why. I have had a lot of time to think about this. I can think and clean messes at the same time. So yeah, a lot of time. Huzzah for multi-tasking, of sorts. That’s about as good as it gets for me. The “why” is this. Children need outlets for creativity. They need a wide canvas (not the walls!) and a vast assortment of color. They need freedom. They need Mommy to back off and not fuss about the globs and glitter and new tabletop hues.

This is difficult for me. Washable paint makes things easier. Half a roll of paper towels makes things easier. “They are biodegradable; easily broken down,” I tell myself to feel better about the waste. (Let me have this one!) But the endless wiping, dabbing, drying, the changing out the water half a dozen times in half a dozen minutes, removing and replacing paint bottle lids, finding a clear surface for the thirteenth masterpiece, these things drive me to my drink, which is tea. All hail the amber tonic that keeps me sane for a full quarter of an hour- if the mug is large enough!

All hail and glory be! Until…

It was inevitable, really. If two different types of liquids happen to be in the same environment, they might mix. That fated moment I set down the cup to do another favor in the cap-removing department… Plop!

Help! There is paint in my tea! Paradise lost. I was only a few sips in, but down the drain it had to go, because my life does not have enough drama. No time to mourn, I must rescue a pair of brown eyes from overflowing in despair at the transformation of his arms to the color of the deep blue sea. Off to the bathroom sink we march, almost ceremoniously, to lather up the offenders and return their natural shade. And of course, he will prance most merrily back to his seat to begin it all over again.

Why do I do this? Um, I don’t know. Maybe because every three minutes a tiny voice from cloud nine calls out sweetly, “I love you Mommy.” Because that’s what kids do when they’re happy. It really is one of the greatest sounds on earth. It makes all the messes worthwhile.

So I lost a cup of tea. It’s fine. I’m fine. I am capable of handling the mess that comes my way. I’ve seen much worse, and I’m still here. And in good time, I can always make another cuppa. Right after I press “publish” in fact. Join me in solidarity?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Behind the Scenes

I did not mean to let more than two weeks go by without blogging. Such is the nature of my life right now. No blinking allowed.

So let me give you a peek into some of the things I've been working on.

The first order of business: I am guest posting today over at Claire De Boer's website, For those who have been with this blog from the beginning, I flash back to the reason I began this blog in the first place, to write out the story of my heart and the way it affected my third pregnancy. I would love to have you head over to read it. :)

Back to behind-the-scenes.

In January, I began taking a writing course called Story 201. It was my intention to work on the novel I had written in November and make it into a final manuscript. I made some progress on that project but I did not finish it. During the course, I was introduced to the concept of "Praying The Hours" and it launched me on a book of poetry project that became all-consuming. I now refer to it as my Book of Hours (and hours and hours...) Let me tell you, taking the DIY route to publication is not a picnic. However, I hope to have a PDF available soon and I'm really dying to get this book onto Amazon Kindle. There's a steep learning curve and I'm not quite around the bend yet, but I will get there. Stay tuned, because my friends Jamie Bonilla and Esther Emery are contributors and you won't want to miss the beauty of their words. My launch date should be June 1st, if all goes well. Hold me.

Here is my cover design. What do you think? I'm excited:

Next up, I have been taking another online course called Finding Your Arc. This one is specific training for coaching e-courses or story coaching in the Story Sessions Community. I think I have found my niche here. I love to facilitate growth and this brings me so much joy. So far, I have had the opportunity to lead a write-in, which is a gathering from the Story Sessions Community to write and share our words together over an internet call. I have seen some magic happen here. I have turned out more than one fresh blog post this way and several poems. This coaching training is my cup of tea and I can't wait to see where this budding community goes. (So far, five of our writers are VOTY for BlogHer. That is a big deal, and I am so proud of them and the many more who submitted their work.) I love this season that I'm in, fresh springtime growth and lots of social sunshine; words cascading from a world of inspiration and mutual support. It's a thing of beauty.

Spring brings the heavy rains, too, though. Physically I have been dealing with massive joint and muscle pain, and more than a few headaches. Perhaps it merely means I do too much sitting or I don't sleep enough. Whatever the case, I am taking YET ANOTHER class, but this one is designed to create synergy between finances, wellness, and diet, which is something I need badly.

Finally, we have been faithfully home-educating (almost done!) throughout this process, so as you can imagine, I am getting little sleep. However, this is a very fulfilling time for me and I am excited to see where life takes me. I'm sure I have a lot of other news but I literally have a child hanging on me right now so I'm going to wrap things up for today. Please do stop by my guest post, and if you are the praying type, I am asking for your intercession as I finish up my book. Oh, and there may be a new website and blog in the near future, if I can get my head on straight, so be on the lookout for that. Gosh, I might be a little bit out of my mind (or heading that way.) Thanks for sticking with me. May you be blessed on your journey through the day.