Archive of ‘Anything Goes’ category
This is a season of sharing for me. Sharing a new book I believe in or posts I’ve written. But today is a good day to take a break from all that and tell you how much your real life and online support mean to me.
Writing is like a lot of your own occupations and hobbies. It is personally meaningful, but sometimes the writer is greeted with criticism or silence that make it tempting to stop taking risks and putting themselves out there.
But every time someone leaves a note that they read one of my books or related to a post I wrote, every time they ‘like’ or ‘share’ here or comment on my blog, it makes me feel like my voice doesn’t just echo through empty chambers but that it stands a chance of touching people. Of stirring something good in the world.
So many of you have demonstrated time and time again that you are those rare kinds of people who know how to be selfless, to offer support rather than competition, and to be glad for someone else’s successes. That says so much about my real life and online community. And it makes me feel like everything positive I’m given the chance to do, in part also belongs to YOU.
Thank you. Really.
Summer has been full of so much of the right thing.
Sunshine and much loved people…and, when we were lucky, both at the same time.
We drank in days upon days of family.
With me working from home and my husband off for the summer, it made for a sweet, slow stretch of kayaking and pontooning that stretched on so long, it all–looking back–seems like one beautiful, endless summer day.
There was mountains of quality time both with our two boys and the extended family beyond it.
And we were able to sporadically catch other friends, not hardly ever for as long or as many times as we wanted, but still got the chance to connect in spur of the moment meet-ups between various traveling.
I even re-connected with some awesome and uniquely funny friends I used to work with while waitressing in high school, which–despite the reason we knew each other being a lowly Denny’s restaurant–still ended up being one of the highlights of the summer.
And now, things are folding up again for the fall.
We have a couple more trips, a Labor Day weekend to survive, and then I’ll be back here on this blog–rested and refreshed and thankful for those of you who will keep reading even though I of course spent the whole summer doing exactly what bloggers are not supposed to do: taking time off the blog.
Just so you know, I highly recommend it.
I don’t regret summers with my children for a minute.
But I am looking forward to reconnecting better this fall.
So, please, go and find some goodness over your Labor Day weekend and I’ll see you back here bright and early some time after.
Today, I spent the longest chunk of my day on the back deck, tilted back in a gravity chair, sun hat flopping around my face, iced tea within reach and laptop in front of me.
It was a peaceful way to revisit my early twenties, when I first put together the content of my first book Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation.
Zondervan, the publishing company behind the title, has decided to release an updated version (likely with a new title) next May and for me, that meant taking a good long look at where I’ve been and what I can add based on who I’ve become since then.
Rewrites are a delicate balancing act.
The original manuscript of Dear Church is angst driven, vulnerable and in some places, marked by what seems like glaring immaturity in retrospect.
So of course my temptation is to go back and revise and add information in a way that polishes my previous weaknesses and injects 35 year old Sarah’s perspective over top of her younger self. (I’ll probably want to rewrite it again when I’m 50.)
But in most cases, I resisted that urge.
What made Dear Church successful as a book was its ability to join a reader in the highest point of their disillusionment, when they could most easily relate to my occasionally cynical commentary as I sort through my disappointments with organized religion. It was that mutual understanding that allowed them to see me as a relateable voice when the book moved to talking about moving beyond disillusionment as well. And to strip that emotion or frustration away, even if to present a more polished version of myself, would subtract the real heaviness that makes it ring true to disaffected readers.
So instead, here’s what’s happening with the new edition:
- I’m broadening the focus of the book so it no longer drills in on disillusionment as a “young person”l issue, but rather treats it as a multi-generational one.
- I’m adding material–a few stories and metaphors–that grew out of the speaking engagements at conferences and churches that followed the release of Dear Church.
- I’m adding a bonus resource section for church and denominational leaders and/or parents and other mentors of those disillusioned with faith. This is based largely on my experiences interacting with people, churches and denominations about this topic since the book came out.
And we’re right now thinking about how to rework the title to best match the language and needs of those searching for resources on disillusionment, as well as choosing some new images that might capture the state of the ideal reader–someone who maybe wants to leave the church, but at the same time doesn’t want to leave the church.
Most of the time, I don’t want to revisit years past. The more I grow as a person, the more satisfying my life becomes, so the drama of youthfulness becomes less and less enticing. But I have to admit, it’s been nice to take a trip or two down memory lane lately–to engage some old friends and old projects and to remember that no matter what age we are now, we always have to thank the younger versions of ourselves (however angst-filled!) for their investment in making us who we are today.
This is the last deadline for a book for adults I have on my radar before I’ll be transitioning to writing on what I hope is a whole new topic, which aligns even more closely with some of the values driving this blog, what lies on the other side of disillusionment for me.
I hope you’ll follow along. I’m hoping the best is yet to come.
Even though I give myself permission to completely unplug and indulge in family and the outdoors every summer, my mind and heart are never far from this blog’s content or from the related projects.
For example, this week my friends at Moody and I have been putting finishing touches on my new book, The Well Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide to Staying Sane While Doing Good, which will come out in October. While some of my books have been aimed at a narrower, niche audience (and I’m prone to cautioning people that not all my books may be for them), this is one that I’d unembarrasingly hand over to any visionary in the faith, non-profit or humanitarian world.
It’s a collection of insights (some of which I learned the hard way) for staying the course and pressing through those moments when people don’t line up to applaud or bankroll your noble visions. It’s for those of you who believe in your cause so deeply you have to keep going anyways.
I am sure when it comes out we’ll do all kinds of promotions and giveaways and such, but there IS a lower, pre-order guaranteed price if you pick it up now.
As this project comes to a close, I’m spending my summer thinking about what comes next.
But for now, my kids are 4 years old and 11 months old. Yes. One of my children has only been on the planet for months, people. He’s sort of a spring chicken.
So the only thing I really want to do is go outside and push them around the neighborhood in the sunshine while sticky popsicles drip down their hands. And when the sun reflects off their golden blond hair as it catches in the wind, I can’t bring myself to apologize for not blogging more this season. But I do hope you too are finding meaningful ways to keep your summer fun, make your family a priority, and get your hands a little bit messy.
It’s true what they say, you know. We never get these days back.
Our family has moved into our lowest key days. Days of sunshine and fresh air. Warmth and togetherness. Collecting snail shells in frisbees and playing bags (cornhole) in the yard.
Days of sweet, sweet summer.
It’s a lazy season, but a full one.
Last week, another niece entered the world and, simultaneously, my dad had some health complications that landed him in the hospital too. (He’s seemingly fine now, and based on the many tests that followed, doesn’t have any symptoms of more serious conditions.)
Then it was off to Cincinnati, Chicago and Minneapolis for time with family, friends and colleagues before settling back into a day of pontooning and cousins and ice cream today.
I also started my first coaching course for aspiring writers. Who knew, huh?
With good stuff upon good stuff, I simply could not bring myself to set aside friends or sleep to log onto wordpress and get all bloggy inside away from the sunshine, but rest assured I’ll post a couple of the pieces I have been holding onto tomorrow.
Until then, I hope you’re soaking up some summer goodness of your own. Remember, it’s totally okay to shelve the serious every once in a while.
A Little Behind
I’m at least two paces behind this week, both because I refused to come in from a sunny pontoon boat to write blog posts on Memorial Day and because today, if the string of Facebook wall notes didn’t clue you in, was my birthday.
Just an fyi, Memorial Day and my birthday used to be synonymous when I was a kid (At the time, I was sure the parades were for me). But over time, the supreme rulers of the American holiday calendar rearranged things. They created a standing, long weekend, which means now Memorial Day only sometimes falls on my birthday.
Progress? I think not.
Nevertheless, I’m happy to have survived and hopefully learned from another year of life. And I’m grateful for the many birthday posts, notes, voicemails, texts and messages. As ironic and shallow as our techy, social media driven little culture can be, I sort of love anything that reminds me of my elementary, middle school and high school classmates, college alumni, former co-workers, old neighbors, and many author, speaker and blogger friends on the same day.
Even if it’s just because they drop two little words for something as silly as congratulating me for managing to live another year.
I’ll catch up on some of my other posts tomorrow.
How many books do you have inside of you?
Probably a few.
So start with the one you know. Your own.
Because more and more writing friends in my network have been asking me to help them take next steps, I’m going to offer a 4-wk online coaching course that will help you get your life story on paper.
It’s not exactly a business endeavor at this point, but I need to streamline it to serve people and still make the best use of my time as a mom.
Expect it to be personal. Not expert-behind-the-desk stuff, but common sense tips from a friend who has been there before you.
You’ll be able to work on your memoir through learning sessions designed to help you get the basic plot and key pieces of your story onto paper in four weeks.
There’ll be lots of daily opportunity for one-on-one interaction, as well as 8 learning sessions you can hold onto permanently and do at your own pace. And if you live in the Midwest, you can join me on an optional coached work day here in Michigan.
To get information, just go over the My Facebook Page and leave me a comment or send me an email (sarahraymondcunningham -at- gmail -dot- com).
The price point for the starter course is $119. I tried to make it accessible (less than traditional coaching services and less than even one credit of a college writing course), but I’m also making discounts available so leave your excuses behind and come write with me.
That good, good blog series
It’s Saturday morning. Here you are browsing, looking for that good blog series to replace the morning paper of eras gone by.
There’s a few going on here:
- In the News – An ongoing collection of news stories related to relationship, community and connectedness
- Social Media – An ongoing collection of social media stories about connecting online
- Learning Hospitality – a series of challenges to invest in your hospitality skills each week. This month, the focus is food.
- Congratulations on Being Human – examples of humans doing something “extra” ordinary for the benefit of others
- Where I’m Stuck – Advice (currently from Shasta Nelson) related to friendship and community
- Attention to Detail – a brand new weekly column that features two influencers (think bloggers or authors or speakers) who give us recommendations on books, TV shows and even cooking
- Portable Faith – a series of exercises about living out faith beyond the four walls of a church
Also check out these most-visited posts: