Thursday, December 31, 2009

January Only: InsideOut for $6.03

InsideOut Snowy Day

I will always remember the days when my mom worked retail. Besides Black Friday, the January Sale days were her busiest. While some cashiers got stressed and grouchy, mom smiled her way through the tough moments, making customers want to come back again and again.

It's been a while since those crazy long-line retail days. But the expectation for a January Sale stays with me. I'm thinking if Mom was here, she'd smile you right over to the counter, where you could do what her customers used to do...

Buy next year's Christmas gift, cheap, and tuck it away. Get ready for Valentine's Day. Or simply pick up the one thing nobody knew you wanted (maybe even you, until you saw the temporary price... $6.03).

For me, this feels a little crazy, but it's what I want (and IAM is feeling adventurous with me). So Merry Christmas. Or Happy New Year. Or whatever kind of merry-happy you'd like this to be.

InsideOut on New Year's Eve, photo by L.L. Barkat.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giving Away a Beginning

star leaf

This is the time when I begin to feel wordless.

After all, how can I *really say* what Christmas is? How can I express the excitement of a fresh year just around the corner?

So instead I point you to a tentative star. Captured by my Little One's camera. (Doesn't that maple leaf look like a star? :) .

And I offer you some inspiration for your own word journeys: The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity With Spirituality In The Writing Life is one of my absolute favorite writing books. I've read it three times.

Comment here by 11:00 pm EST, January 1, 2010, for a chance to receive a copy.

If you like, join in with our "Beginnings" writing project too. You can either write a vignette about "beginnings" or try out the HighCallingBlogs poetry writing prompt: Choose a New Year word like “resolve”, “resolution”, “dream” or one you think up and begin, middle, or end a poem with it. Drop your post link in this comment box by Wednesday, December 30, for link and possible feature at HighCallingBlogs. (If you don't make the deadline, why, it would still be nice to have you share your post with us. Drop your link here or over at Friday's poetry post at HCB.)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Maple Leaf photo, by Sonia B. Used with permission.

LL's The Weather at Christmas
Glynn's Begins
LInda's Dream
Melissa's hushed
Mom2Six's Quietly Slips In
Sarah's Trying to Start
Maureen's Making New Year's Resolutions
A Simple Country Girl's Once Was Smooth
Monica’s Countdown
Joanne's The Brave New
Claire's Could I Bloom
nancy's december
Louise's Time Passing
Karen's Taste
Diane's Our New Year's Baby
Katdish's Renovation
Erica's Dandelion
Erin's Begin
Laura's To Begin the Begin
Kim's The Backward Glance
Eric's To Begin

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Monday, December 21, 2009

The Good Questioner


Thanks for the closeup, Maureen.

And part two! :)

Violets, by Sonia. Used with permission.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Twitter Smile


I was on the phone. Sara overheard my conversation with someone, about how Twitter works. A few minutes later, she handed this to me. Happy Friday, especially to my Tweet Friends.

"Twitter Follow" by Sara B, age 12. Used with permission.

Catch me and musician Brooke Campbell, at IAM's space in New York, on January 29, 2010. I'm reading. She'll do the singing. :)

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 7: Hey, Have I Met You?

red table wine, by nAncY

He won the prize for most unusual meeting circumstances.

It wasn't that we were both employed by a Texas non-profit group, that he lived in Pennsylvania and just happened to be coming to New York, and that we managed to have breakfast together at the Algonquin. That would have been enough, really. But Bradley is a high achiever in the best sense of the phrase.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when I learned he'd been to my house. Almost 30 years ago.

Okay, so go meet Bradley J. Moore. He'll wow you with great management advice and a humorous, down-to-earth take on life and spirituality. Heck, maybe you'll even find out he used to be your back yard neighbor.

If you're interested in communications and marketing savvy, there's always Joan P. Ball, author of the upcoming Flirting with Faith: My Spiritual Journey from Atheism to a Faith-Filled Life She wins a prize too, for living near me and actually agreeing to come to my house for scones and tea. Go figure. We met at Jesus Creed, and it turns out she's practically my back yard neighbor? (She knows Bradley too... um, okay guys...)

While we're talking prizes, I simply must mention the articulate, thought-provoking journalist Christine A. Scheller. Wouldn't you award a prize to someone who drove six hours to meet you for the first time, after connecting with you in the blogosphere? (I flew to California, so I guess she figured she'd reciprocate with a six-hour road trip to meet me at my destination. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.) Christine and her husband recently decided to move back East. And in September she hosted me at her home in New Jersey!

Merry Christmas, you three. Thanks for meeting me. Literally.

Christmas Badge

1. Mary's Advent
2. Laura in the Moss
3. Social Media Guys
4. Snow-White Butterfly Tree
5. Butterflies and Parties
6. Let Me Not Forget
7. Hey, Have I Met You? (this post)

Red Table Wine illustration from card by nAncY, maker of Sineann wines.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Two in One Writing

New World Trade Tower, by Sara

The twin realities of suffering and life.

In her IAM Conversations podcast, Christy Tennant asked me to talk about the way my writing weaves these themes together. Upon introducing the question, she referred to a poem I'd written for someone it turns out is a mutual friend of Christy's and mine. Small, small world.

Anyhow, I'm not sure I answered Christy's question. But I remember talking about a Walter Wangerin essay, in which he realized that the good-evil construction of fairy tales did this for him... enabled him to somehow live with the tensions of wickedness and loveliness (in Wangerin's case, as they existed in his own mother— violent by day and tender when she tucked him in at night).

InsideOut has its share of such twin-themed poems, especially in the Winter section. But it's got a good dose of love and whimsy too. After all, Spring and Summer asked for them.

New 'World Trade Center' design, by Sara. Used with permission.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let Me Not Forget

Forgotten Girls

I met her for the first time on a bench beneath the redwoods. I was fighting back tears, because it was the very first time I'd left my children— two little girls.

It seemed wrong somehow, that I should leave the girls for a whole week, go all the way to the opposite coast for a conference, to begin my first steps towards a writing career.

Kay Strom understood. She told me her story of leaving for the first time, and how her boy pressed his nose against the glass as the car drove away, and she was left standing at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where she began her own writing career so many years before.

Emotionally, I collapsed into Kay's arms. And I have done so on occasion since that first meeting. Being with Kay makes a person feel safe, remembered.

When I received her new book from the publicists at InterVarsity Press, I wasn't surprised by its title. Kay was about to remember Forgotten Girls.

I could tell you about the book in my words, but I would rather you feel the power of Kay's remembering...

"Have you ever noticed how seldom something 'life changing' really changes your life? The term gets tossed around a lot— to describe watching the sun set in a gorgeous blaze of color, for instance, or to rave about an exciting adventure. Consider the number of books with the phrase splashed across the front cover. Good things, all. Inspiring and helpful and memorable. But 'life changing'?

Yet truly life-changing events do occur. Events that forever mark a divide between the 'then' and 'now' of life. Between despair and hope. Between ignorance and understanding. Between life and death.

Consider Parimala. She barely had time to draw her first breath before she experienced a life-changing event. As her mother staggered in from the fields, the baby was already entering the world. But no one rejoiced in her birth. When her father saw that the baby was a girl, he grabbed her up and carried her outside. He dug a hole in the hard ground beside their thatch-roofed hut and dropped her in. Then he covered her with dirt.

Done, and done.

But the baby's grandfather saw it all..."

Today I celebrate Kay for remembering the forgotten girls. She travels the world, sometimes in very dangerous places, to gather their stories, to help us participate in changing lives. Kay might not accept what I'm about to say... but I do believe that knowing her has been life changing.

(To help in a practical way, check out Sisters in Service. Maybe that's something to do for your $10 Challenge?)

Number 100 Million and One

Christmas Badge

1. Mary's Advent
2. Laura in the Moss
3. Social Media Guys
4. Snow-White Butterfly Tree
5. Butterflies and Parties
6. Let Me Not Forget (this post)

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Butterflies and Parties

Snow Storm Gail Nadeau

When you see something like a snow-white butterfly tree, it stays with you. Or it can. Taking things down in pastel is one way I've begun keeping startling visual experiences. Setting them into poems is another...

"On Belleview Avenue"

Serpentine tree,
Japanese, I suspect,
as in split maple, as in
it takes a hundred years to
snake these arms to such breadth;
anyway, it seems everything
must have been leading to this juncture—
droughts, floods, springs coming
too late and winters too early,
everything conspired towards this:
snow, like white butterflies, laid
over old curves, dead leaves, intersections,
now ready to soft wing
the empty night.


Being on-line has brought my poetic side to life; writing poems is something I seem to do better in Community. That's the way my other kinds of writing work too. So why did I think poetry should be any different?

One of my absolute favorite ways of writing poetry in Community has begun to happen on Twitter. About every other week, we have hour-long parties hosted by tspoetry. Wild things happen— things I'm grateful for, as they open my creativity.

Though many people stop by the Twitter parties (sometimes accidentally, sometimes as the result of a friendly kidnapping (sorry Bonnie!)), there are a few "regulars" I've come to count on as the life of the parties...

— sweet-spirited Monica who, as I recall, started a blog just so she could participate in Random Acts of Poetry at HighCallingBlogs and who now surprises me with her brief, incisive poems on Twitter

— thoughtful and artistic Kelly (you MUST check out her awesome photography)

— art-loving Maureen, whose poems rarely fail to silence me (particularly the ones she writes on-the-spot at our parties... she's got a gift for quick thinking!)

— delightfully amusing when she's not being deep or making wine nAncY (oh, and her art spans the whimsical to the beautifully arresting)

— speech-writing businessman Glynn, who began writing poetry seriously for the first time this summer (and his poetry is really growing... what joy!)

Thanks, Twitter-Poet Friends, for sharing your lives and words with me. I'm delighted to celebrate you during our 12 Days of Community...

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Snowy Forest art by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

1. Mary's Advent
2. Laura in the Moss
3. Social Media Guys
4. Snow-White Butterfly Tree
5. Butterflies and Parties (this post)

Kelly’s Un-Conversation
Monica’s White and Made Known to Me
Maureen’s A Three-Part Christmas Story and Art Lecture 101
Cindy’s In the purifying flames…
Fred’s The Past Presents the Future
Glynn’s Shadows of Dawn, Like Smoke
Diane Walker’s It was an offensive apology (scroll down in the comment box at Seedlings)
Erica's Heat

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Snow-White Butterfly Tree

Snow-White Butterfly Tree

Texas had been holding out on us, playing with our snow, while we walked the avenues without need for heavy wools. Then Washington made a bid and the Lone Star State capitulated. Before long, leftovers drifted our way.

So we walked, as the sun went down. And I wished I'd dug out the red woolen hat.

Still, our evening walk was worth braving cold wind and breath caught sharp. For, up the street, we saw it. Japanese Maple, curly branched, was lit with snow that looked like white butterflies, frozen in time, waiting.

And this tree with snow-white butterflies followed me home, wanting to be born into my pastels. As I lay the colors down I thought of special people who have been unexpected encouragements to me... like miniature snow-white butterflies gracing a dry-leafed maple tree.

Thank you Lyla, Ann, Jennifer, Bina, Deb, Ted, Linda for your letters sometimes sent behind the scenes or your comments that have given joy and strength, on bright days and sometimes through storm. I'm so glad you are a part of my blogosphere community.

Snow-White Butterfly Tree, in soft pastels, by L.L. Barkat.


Is there someone you would like to thank or celebrate in the blogosphere? Join us for...

Christmas Badge

1. Mary's Advent
2. Laura in the Moss
3. Social Media Guys
4. Snow-White Butterfly Tree (this post)

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Friday, December 04, 2009

12 Days of Self-Promotion, Sorta

christmas tree close

Is it okay to promote yourself? Over at High Calling Blogs, I've said it's not only okay, but necessary. I'll let you read the full lowdown over there.

Suffice it to say, self-promotion on-line is best done through genuine other-promotion. Which is why we're encouraging bloggers to engage in 12 Days of Community, by featuring at least 12 other bloggers on their personal sites throughout the month of December.

I'm going to try it out, starting with long-time colleague Mary E. DeMuth. I first met Mary over an awesome salad at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She answered my newbie-writer questions through many email exchanges, long before I ever wrote my first book.

This week, almost like a writer-auntie, she actually wrote an Advent Reflection rooted in that first book. While I appreciate the way it promotes my work, what really quieted me was the beauty of Mary's own writing.

She made me think of Advent in a way I never had before. She wrote in the way I like best from Mary.

If you haven't met Mary, over salad or otherwise, I can tell you she's authored eight books. Her latest book, Thin Places, is a memoir releasing in February. You can watch the trailer here. In some ways, her story reminds me of mine. Yet not. The way good stories always do.


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Christmas Tree Up Close, by Sonia. Used with permission.

1. Mary's Advent (this post)
2. Laura in the Moss
3. Social Media Guys
4. Snow-White Butterfly Tree

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's Here

InsideOut: poems

And I am smiling. Smiling!

Many, many thanks to International Arts Movement, for believing in this project.

If you would like to order a signed copy directly from me, the full cost including shipping will be $17.00. Just drop me a note at llbarkat[at]yahoo[dot]com. Or you can put it on a wish list or purchase it at Amazon Retail.

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