Dear Readers, I’m Writing a Book Called Rest

Purple paisley stretching out from yellow ground, by Mary Ann Barton. Inspired by Zentangle: 06/25/2012January 1, 2014

Dear Readers,

I love writing the Joyous Paradox blog for you.

Tonight, I’m so grateful to be sitting at the big mahogany desk in our little office off the kitchen, drinking ginger tea with soy milk under the attentive gaze of my stuffed-animal friends Kathybear, a venerable teddy bear, and Georges l’Oiseau le Chapeau, a vibrant plush hat in the shape of a parrot.

It’s so cold outside — a reminder that we’re in the Northern Hemisphere here in New England, where January is the middle of winter. It’s so warm inside, except for my feet, which are cold. I should put my shoes back on, but I like writing in stocking feet. Sometimes my therapist, Rebecca, sits cross-legged in her chair, leaning forward to emphasize a point she’s making, her shoes lined up neatly beneath her seat.

So yes, I’m writing a book for you called Rest. It’s a book of readings and resources for caregivers, a collection of pieces about finding the rest and renewal we need in order to be there for those we love. Or even those we don’t love. Or those we used to love but can’t imagine having loving feelings for again because the demands on our strength and attention feel so unrelentingly present.

As a caregiver who works with elders in their homes, I’ve found that one of the best ways to take care of myself is to connect with the beauty that surrounds me, even in the midst of stress and sorrow. I’m going to use some poems and short prose pieces from this blog, as well as offering new material. Some of the pieces will be refreshing and even sweet, and others will acknowledge the pain and hardship that crops up in life. I’m hoping to include beautiful illustrations in the form of public-domain paintings, as well as questions for discussion and writing prompts.

In this new year, I’ll be writing on two tracks: the short, week-to-week blog track in this space, and the longer-term, book-length track at my desk. I may ask for your help with ideas or images for the book, so if you’ll keep that in mind, I would be grateful.¬†In the meantime, may we all find what we need to slow down, reflect, restore, and renew the spirit.

Faithfully yours,

Mary Ann

Image note: Purple Paisley Stretching Out from Yellow Ground, an informal, Zentangle-inspired drawing by MAB.