book·ish : Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

Hello, dear friends. What did you do this weekend? I had a hot date with the hubs last night after a busy week and we went to see Anonymous, the new literary/political thriller that asks an extremely controversial question... 

Based on the theory proposed nearly 100 years ago, Anonymous purports that it was the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, that penned the plays and poetry that we know as the work of William Shakespeare. This theory is largely regarded in academia as little more than salacious hogwash, yet Anonymous Director Roland Emmerich [known for such films as Independence Day and The Patriot] makes an extremely evocative argument, and I have to admit that the theory over all has some pretty solid points. 

For instance, Shakespeare was a commoner with limited exposure to the royal courts, absolutely no travel experience, and little more than an elementary education. Yet, the overwhelming majority of his dramatic work is set in the royal courts and in a foreign land, most commonly Italy. And despite his minimal education, he wrote entire plays in iambic pentameter and his words are still some of the most well known and most well loved in the English language, if not all of history. 

By contrast, Edward de Vere not only had the education, travel experiences, and exposure to the royal courts, but many circumstances in his life closely mirror those that are interspersed in Shakespeare's plays, several of which are highlighted in the film. So the basis for the plot line is immediately compelling. [For a full explanation of the theory, view this trailer from the director.]

As far as the film itself, costume design and cinematography are excellent and the acting is superb on all counts. Rhys Ifans plays a tortured Edward de Vere that has spent his life writing an arsenal of plays and poetry that infuriate his wife and his father-in-law, William Cecil, who was Queen Elizabeth I's advisor [played by David Thewlis.] But though he writes constantly, the Cecil family has blackmailed de Vere into never publishing his work. After attending a play at the local theatre and being taken with the way a good production can move an audience, de Vere talks Ben Johnson, a struggling playwright trying to catch his big break, into publishing de Vere's work as his own. Johnson, aptly afraid he would get caught, confides in his friend and fellow actor William Shakespeare about the deal, leaving De Vere's identity a secret. When Johnson hesitates to reveal himself as the writer of Henry V at the end of its first live performance, Shakespeare, portrayed as an illiterate drunk that lusts for the spotlight, jumps on stage and claims it as his own work, thus beginning a public sensation and making Ben Johnson de Vere's only confidant in the truth. 

Vanessa Redgrave portrays an aged Queen Elizabeth I that is beginning to teeter on the edges of dementia and failing health, but still understands the threat that surrounds her without a direct, and I might add, legitimate descendant to her throne. Joely Richardson is a razor-sharp depiction of the young Elizabeth, both beautiful and devastating.

Perhaps the most controversial, confusing and disturbing theory that the film claims is not de Vere as the true author, but rather the why behind this whole mess spun that has spun so wildly out of control. The complex and rather jumbled climax of the film hinges on revelations of just how many central characters are actually the illegitimate children of the Queen. All of them that know the true identity of their biological mother want to stake their rightful claim to the throne. These revelations emphasize the political influence over theater in that era, but they also bring to light more deeply personal motivations for de Vere's plan to publish his plays beyond popular acclaim. 

The plot is shockingly cringe-worthy, but also really really hard to follow for several reasons, all of which I would classify as directoral failure. The characters are addressed by both their royal title - the Earl of Oxford, Earl of Essex, the Earl of Southampton - interspersed with their first and last names. Okay, I can understand that one. But there are also flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, in which the young and old versions of each character may or may not look like themselves but who definitely look like entirely separate characters in the film... that may or may not be blood relatives. The film has no steady chronological foundation, and it is immensely frustrating. If you want to see it, you should plan on taking notes.

The film is a rabbit-hole of who slept with whom and when, a complex web of incestuous and malicious relationships that destroy each of the characters. For the well-versed Shakespeare reader, every aspect of the film evokes the very soul of the infamous playwright that brought us Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III - whoever he may really be.  



1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Travel Memories : Life Goal Accomplished.

I stepped through the sliding doors of O'Hare and watched my fiancé drive away, willing myself not to chase him down and make him take me home. Three months traveling alone had suddenly lost its appeal. Despite my misgivings, I dragged my two gargantuan suitcases to the ticket counter before anyone could run over me with their own half-ton luggage.

Once my baggage was checked and sent off to board my flight, traveling alone felt slightly less daunting. My tickets in hand and with renewed determination in my steps, I found my way to my terminal. I had a phone call to make.

I had spent that summer living with my aunt and waitressing at a family diner in Janesville, Wisconsin. Howie, a 78-year-old retired GM assembly worker and one of my regular customers, came into the restaurant for breakfast and dinner every weekday. I'd flirt with him casually as I took his order [he had the specials memorized], listen to his latest encounter with Betty, the woman that he walked with at the shopping mall each morning. Every day Howie asked her out on a date, and every day Betty told him no. I'd tell him about my weekend and about my travel plans for the fall semester. He'd never been outside of the continental United States. At the end of the summer I promised him I’d send a postcard from each city I visited.

But when I arrived at the airport, I realized I had forgotten the receipt that had his address scrawled on the back. I called the diner, knowing that at eight in the morning he was probably still sitting in his corner booth finishing up his one pancake with peanut butter and a slice of ham.

Mimi, the manager, yelled to Howie that he had a phone call, and from across the restaurant his voice echoed through the receiver,

"For me? Are you kidding?"

"It's Bethany," she shouted back.

Several geriatric steps later, he picked up the phone, his breath heaving,

"Doll, is that you? You miss me already?"

"Yes, Howie! I realized I forgot your address." I scrawled it on the back of my ticket envelope.

"Say, where are you anyway? Aren't you supposed to be on a plane?"

I explained that I was waiting in the airport.

"You nervous?" he asked bluntly.

"A little," I admitted. "Matt just dropped me off and it hit me: I can't believe I'm doing this."

"Listen, your old man Howie has never been anywhere in his life. All this nothin' will be here when you get back. You wanted to do this all your life! Just take your ticket and go. Don't forget to write me. You promised. And when you come back, you come out and see me and we'll have a hot date and you'll tell me all about it."

"It's a deal, Howie." I replied. The wrinkle of worry across my forehead disappeared; a grin spread across my face. Who cared if anyone else in the terminal was watching.

"Alrighty. You take care a you and I'll see you real soon," he said, and hung up before I could really say goodbye.

Howie said what everyone had been telling me, yet hearing his voice as I sat in the airport solidified it at the right moment. It was too late to go hunting down my luggage and make a coward of myself. He was right. I was ready for this. And I was finally doing it.

After years of daydreaming and wondering if I'd ever be able to go, I was embarking on my greatest adventure, my biggest dream. And there were many moments when it felt surreal, when I stood at the edge of the Untersberg overlooking Salzburg, or stood atop the Eiffel Tower overlooking the winding web of Parisian city lights, or when I leaned my head against the window of the train and watched the tracks wind around the Alps, and thought :

Am I really here? Am I really doing this now?

I was afraid to shut my eyes, afraid I would miss it.  I luxuriated in each moment, each meal and city tour, anxious that I would gobble them up all at once and it would be over too soon. I journaled constantly, my hand glued to pen and paper, commemorating every memory to words so that on days like today, 3 years later, I wouldn't forget.

And I wrote to Howie, careful to share as many details with him as I could fit in the tiny space on the back of each postcard. There was never enough room, so I almost always sent two postcards from every place I went. That's the beauty of writing: it can vicariously transfer experiences, allow one person in one place to connect with another on the other side of the world. 

And there were many moments [like this one] when it felt scary, when I worried that leaving my home and my family was a mistake, when I went a whole week without hearing Matt's voice, when I was utterly weary of trains and planes and dirty hostels. There were moments when being surrounded by the same group of friends every waking moment for 3 months couldn't erase a certain isolation and loneliness that settled into me the longer we lingered there.

But. I did it. I achieved a life goal.

And the opportunity taught me that dreams, though they require sacrifice, are worth what you invest into them. I returned, changed and happy, satisfied and ready; whatever came next, I knew I was capable of doing it. 

And when I slid into the booth across from Howie 3 months later, he grinned, his arthritic fingers wrapped around a thick stack of postcards.


Travel Memories : Exploring New Landscapes

There's something deeply inspiring about removing oneself from the familiar. Like a fellow writer shared last week,

"Travel does so much for the soul.
It reassures a writer that the world is still a beautiful and endless space." 

Sometimes, a change in scenery is all we need to remember that life is not as desolate, or boring, or mundane, or hopeless as we might have thought. And sometimes, the change in natural landscape offers new scope for the human experience because it offers different cultural, culinary, creative, political or social environments. Travel, the act of going to places that we've never been before, adds dimension to the way that we think.

Some people don't yield to it, allowing new places and experiences to shape or inspire their thoughts and ideas. For me, the opportunity to travel is an opportunity to grow. I find it impossible to be indifferent to new landscapes, both literal and figurative. The more space I have physically, the more free I feel mentally.

Salzburg, the place I called home for three months, is nestled among the Alps. The air itself feels quieter and cleaner there. And like its natural environment, the culture of the city is quiet and contemplative, as though the people who live there are there to rest, to live as simply and happily as possible, to go for a bike ride or a hike, to sit on a park bench and whisper to each other in Deutsch.

It's so different than the way I live my life here in Chicago, driving my battered minivan everywhere I "need" to go, jamming my schedule so full that the last thing on my mind would be to take time out of my day to meditate and reflect, the way that I used to when I lived in Salzburg.

Other places like Berlin, Munich, Rome, Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam presented opportunities, too, to examine the way that people live, the way that they process and commemorate historical events, the way they eat or enjoy nature, the way they entertain, the way that they get from one place to another.

The change of scenery renewed my creative spirit. The change of culture challenged my mind.

How do you navigate the terrain of a different way of life? 

It's a question I haven't stopped asking since.



1 : Ljubljana, Slovenia. October 2008.  | 2 : View from the Monchsberg. Salzburg, Austria. September 2008. | 3 : Amsterdam, Holland. November 2008. | 4. The East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall. Berlin, Germany. October, 2008. 

book·ish : what do you read when you travel?

I stood in the airport before I left for the first of four flights en route to Austria for a whole semester, and realized I hadn't brought a book. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of having nothing in my hands, nothing to preoccupy my mind for that much time. So I went to the book kiosk and picked up Atonement, and since I had already seen the movie, I figured I might like it. Did I ever! This is one of my favorite books of all time, and there could not have been a more appropriate novel to carry around Europe. When I read a good book, I love to become immersed in it, imagine myself as the characters. The setting for McEwan's novel [1930's and World War II Europe] was the perfect fictional backdrop to my travels and my studies. What are your reading habits when you travel? If you read books, do you prefer fiction or non? Autobiographical? Does a magazine suit your attention span better? Do you prefer a book to a digital reader?


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*

*All items posted in the book·ish section are found by myself and posted of my own accord unless otherwise stated. If you would like to be a sponsor or host a giveaway, please contact me at shewritesandrights[at]gmail[dot]com.


Travel Memories : Exposure to Great Art.

When I signed up to study abroad in the fall 2008, I knew that it was going to change me. And I wanted it to. I think most people get to a certain point in life and get bored. College is a great excuse to travel because you can get credit for it, and because you can run run as fast as you can away from the third-year slog when you're sick of the whole school routine, but not ready to graduate. 

So there I was, bored out of my mind and ready for something different, something independent, and I'd been wanting to travel abroad for as long as I can remember. So I choose an awesome program through my university that offered optimal traveling opportunities - 3 days of school work, 4 days of traveling each week with a 10-day trip to the destination of my choice. It sounds expensive, and you're right - it wasn't cheap. However, it was the best deal out there. It was the cost of a regular semester of tuition plus the inter-continental airfare, a 3-month EuRail pass, a €150 per week stipend for travel costs, and room and board included in the charming Haus Wartenberg [est. 1694.] Yes my friends, it does exist, this beyond-perfect program. I traveled to a grand total of 24 cities in 15 countries in less than 3 months.

But what does traveling abroad really do, aside from letting you escape your normal routine? Why and how did it change me, particularly as a writer and creative? 

There are less touristy ways to explore a city, but to me, the museums are one of the best ways. This is the essence of culture and human thought distilled over centuries, passionately portrayed through painting and sculpture, writing, architecture, furniture, and personal artifacts. One of my fondest memories was an afternoon spent at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which houses the most extensive collection of his pieces and personal items in the world. Then, of course, there is the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, the Uffizzi and the Accademia in Florence, the Vatican Museum in Rome, the National Gallery and The Tate in London… I could go on. 

The opportunity to see this kind of work gave me perspective on the scope of art's emotional and cultural impact on humanity. Art matters. It is what remains of our legacy long after we are gone.

In that context, and at that time in my life, my perspective on my own writing and art shifted from being a source of anxiety to a source of identity, something to cultivate and be proud of. I still struggle with that concept, but I did come to understand that this is what God made me to do. The instinct to write when I was traveling became a source of solace and therapy, a way to commemorate my thoughts and experiences as I went, and to pay tribute to the artists that I deeply respect. 

Have you traveled abroad? What are some of your favorite museums? Pieces of art? 



1 : Me in Prague, Czech Republic. October 2008.  | 2 : Sculpture heads, the Vatican Museum, Rome. September 2008. | 3 : Fountain outside of the parliament building in Vienna, Austria. September 2008.

[All images were taken by me, Bethany Suckrow, except for my portrait, courtesy of Brenda Ronan.]


Guest Post | Soul Traveling by Elizabeth Hudson.

Today's guest post is brought to you by Elizabeth Hudson of StoryWrought.Wordpress.com. She's traveling to Ireland this week, a place that is dear to my heart [I've been there 3 times.] What's your soulmate country?

Soul Traveling.

Even as I write this post, I’m sitting in the airport, tingly fingers moving across the keyboard.

Why am I nervous? I couldn’t tell you.

I’ve traveled before - many times in fact.

But never to my soul mate country.

My friend Amanda termed the phrase, and while I cannot take credit for it, I can understand it completely.

You know, that one place where you feel more at home than anywhere else in the world. And even if you haven’t made it there yet, that one place that you long for, unable to rationally explain the desire to others. It’s that landscape that you’ve dreamt of for years, even without glimpsing with your own eyes.
For some, it’s Chile. For others, it’s South Africa, Italy, or Thailand. For you, it may be New Zealand or Sweden. But for me, it’s Ireland. And it’s always been Ireland.

And it’s Ireland that I’m betting everything on.

Four days ago I said goodbye to a steady salary, a position with promotional promise, the choice of renewing my lease with a roommate I call best friend. All for Ireland.

I booked a flight and gave my three-week notice, determined that a two-week road trip in Ireland would change me. Inspire my being with new experiences, new words, new characters and electrify my writing.

I haven’t the slightest clue what will happen in the upcoming months. I just know that I’m going to come home from Ireland [unwillingly], write until my knuckles ache, and look for any way to make it abroad again.

Because travel does so much for the soul. It reassures a writer that the world is still a beautiful and endless space. 

That purpose can still be found out there in the wilds of city streets and spongy moors. That all you have to hear is that clear whisper of vocation in your ear.

“But you must be quite sure, Stephen, that you have a vocation because it would be terrible if you found afterwards that you had none.”
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce

So in only a matter of hours, I’ll be landing in Shannon to search out the answers I’ve been waiting so long to hear: that I am a lover of words for a reason.

Ireland must be that place.


Elizabeth Hudson is a writer and blogger at StoryWrought.Wordpress.com currently abroad in her soulmate country of Ireland. She writes about writing, creativity, travel and story. You can catch more of her musings at @wanderinglizzie.

[Photograph by Bethany Suckrow. Taken outside Temple Bar in Dublin, November 2008.]


book·ish : A Traveler's Companion

This week I'll be talking about traveling as it relates to creativity and writing, so let's start by addressing a traveling necessity: the journal. If you're bookish and writerly like me, a well-designed journal is positively pavlovian.

My criteria for a good travel journal : preferably leather because it's durable, and it has to be small enough to fit in a purse or side-pocket of a bag or coat [I have a hard enough time traveling light without adding a family-Bible sized journal into the mix.]

So here are a few of my favorites.

The Traveler's Notebook from Baum-Kuchen. Its pages aren't lined, for those that like to sketch, doodle, etc. And its cover - so sexy, so smooth. Want.

I love the vintage feel of this one.

A foodie journal [because eating my way through Europe or South America or Asia sounds like an excellent plan.]

And don't forget the classic Moleskine. Whether you choose a regular lined or blank journal, or one designed specifically for travel, their smooth hard covers are aptly durable and beg to be filled with stories of your adventures. These are designed specifically for cities! The Amsterdam notebook would have been nice to have that time that I got lost [a story for another day this week.]

And this sweet little Moleskine wannabe, found in Ljubljana, Slovenia for just a few tolar, was my favorite travel companion. [I added the stickers as I went city to city. A cheap and fun souvenir.] To this day, I pull it out and read entries when I'm feeling wandersick.

wan·der·sick |ˈwändərˌsik| Adjective

1. experiencing a longing for travel during a period of time when travel is not financially possible, nor convenient to one's schedule.
2. the antithesis of homesickness.



1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

Choosing to Live

"I chose to live like I was living with cancer instead of dying from it." - My Mom.


Inspired By.

I'm headed home in the morning to spend the weekend with my family for a belated birthday celebration. As I go I am distinctly aware of the blessing that this moment is. Holidays and birthdays and anniversaries tend to flag a reminder: you're in a different place than you thought you would be. That can be good, and it can be bad. A few months ago I was afraid of my birthday. I was afraid that it wouldn't be celebratory, because at that point my mom was in the hospital, and we weren't sure if and when she would leave. But this birthday has turned out differently, beyond expectations. She's home, and the distinct cheer in her voice leaves me speechless, deeply grateful beyond words. 

It's this gratitude for life, this gratitude for grace that is my motivation and inspiration for the project I'm working on, soon to be revealed. And so I ask you, as I often do when we reach the end of another week, what is it you're grateful for? What inspires and motivates you? What makes you laugh? Cry? Create? Demonstrate your gratitude. 

I touched briefly on this topic in my guest post this week, but next week I want to go in depth with you about the experience of traveling abroad and how it changed the way I approach life, my writing, my dreams and my goals. If you have had a similar experience, I'd love to read about it. Please email me at shewritesandrights[at]gmail[dot]com to share a guest post next week about traveling as it relates to personal, creative and spiritual growth. 

Until then, here are a few lovelinks from around the interwebs this week... 

What do Elvis Presley, Nelson Mandella, George Washington and Picasso have in common

Happiness or Holiness? What should really determine a good relationship. 

"The times I argued I was an adult, I was a child. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the fervor nor the interest to make my point." No Children in New York

I love Missy Durant's imagery here about holding the door closed. And also this quote, "...That’s because I wrote a book. Which was a good idea, until I realized people would read it. " Um, yeah. 

[Image via. The yellow trees are always my favorite...]


Don't Pity Your Story | Guest Post : This Is Me Thinking

Hey, friends! Today I've guest-posted over at Darrell Vesterfelt's This Is Me Thinking about story, grief, and living a legacy. Check it out, leave a comment, share it if you feel so inclined. I'd love to hear your thoughts about how you choose to live your story and share it with others.


A Room, A Conversation.

Me: "Do you ever have those moments when you can't stand to be alone in a room with yourself?"

You: "There's always the spirit you leave a filled room with. In addition to the silent dark room where you can hear your own verb."

Never underestimate conversation as poetry. 
You're better at it than you believe. 

[Image via]


This Little Idea I Have.

Instead of my regular bookish post on this Monday, we're going to have a little heart-to-heart.

You see, I was busy this weekend... But I wasn't busy with housework. I wasn't busy with office work. I wasn't busy hanging out with friends and celebrating my birthday for 3 days in a row.

I was busy with art.

And this art that I've been making is for something really important and potentially life-altering. It is deeply tied to my personal experiences - the people I love, the things that I think, the way that I process the world around me.

And I'm excited to share that with you when the time comes, but for now, let me just say,

Producing art allows for a lot of time to think.

And not having produced a significant volume of work in a long time, especially for the purpose of sharing it with others, I kind of forgot about that. And once I started in again,

I became so. 

Like, the palm-sweating, heart-racing kind of nervous every time I think about how much work it's going to take to make this idea fruitful. I'm torn between complete excitement and joy for this new possibility, and utter misery.

And it's silly when I think about the nuts and bolts of it, the simple and small gesture that I am actually doing as I create this. People do this all the time. And they're successful at it.

But what if I'm not?

My friend tweeted this link today, and I think it's exactly what I needed to read at this juncture in my life. Because I don't want to make myself so miserable that I sabotage my own ability to pursue this and do it well.

1. Constantly compare yourself to other artists.
2. Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.
3. Base the success of your entire career on one project.
4. Stick with what you know.
5. Undervalue your expertise.
6. Let money dictate what you do.
7. Bow to societal pressures.
8. Only do work that your family would love.
9. Do whatever the client/customer/gallery owner/patron/investor asks.
10. Set unachievable or overwhelming goals to be accomplished by tomorrow.

Slowly, I've been telling a person at a time. The safe ones - my husband, my sister-in-law, my coworker. They're the ones who will tell me it's possible, tell me if my art is good or needs more work, tell me the mechanics of making this little idea that I have lucrative. No pressure.

And now I'm telling you, although I'm waiting until I can make it all official and professional and whatnot. That's how it's done.

But I share the beginning of this journey, in case maybe you're thinking about doing something like this, too.

We're in this together. So let's get started.


The Age Issue.

It's funny. I don't feel 24. And perhaps that's because I've never been 24 and the feeling of it will settle into my skin as the next 365 days wear on. Sometimes, I feel older. The kind of older that comes with experiencing life at a faster pace than a lot of people my age. Sometimes, I feel way too young for the things I'm doing, especially when people have the habit of telling me so. Sometimes I feel far removed from the younger me, the adolescent me that felt quiet and sensitive and frizzy-haired. Sometimes I am her again, and the present feels like an alternate universe I stepped into, unknowingly, as I opened my closet to get dressed for school.

So what advice can I give myself as I step into a new year?

I think,

given the unpredictability of the present,
given the patience required in this stage of waiting and growing,
given the fact that I am now officially 24 years old and I do not have things figured out as 14-year-old me might have expected,

the thing I must do is learn.

I don't want to have things figured out. I want to stay curious and hungry and restless enough to want to learn. I want to read and reflect and write and ask questions and search and pray so that the ideas and the answers and the possibilities keep coming. I want to begin each day with anticipation for what I will discover that day, understanding that whatever it is will not be the whole puzzle, but merely one more piece.

Learning is my motivation to live.


Here are a few posts that taught me something this week:

"I wonder if I'm still a writer or a content creator." And 4 other things that I wish I didn't have in common with every other writer/blogger on the planet.

Remember this post? Here's another beautiful essay about the Fading Art of Letter Writing.

We've sheared the textile of our own lives. And it's time to put down the scissors.

[Thanks Tyler for the great links yesterday!]

[Image via]


Inspired By.

Guess what, guys?

It's my birthday! 

And what a good birthday it's been. Hubs surprised me with a HUGE book - a complete collection of e.e. cummings. Does he know me well or what? Anyway, I'm going out for dinner with my closest loves tonight [at least my off-line ones, because I really do love all of you a whole lot], and I can hardly wait. But first, I wanted to wish you all a happy weekend, and ask for a wee little birthday present in return. Instead of me giving you a list of love-links today, can you give me a link in the comments to the best article or blog post you've read this week? I'll share my own list of weekly favorites tomorrow, but for today, I'd love to see a few of yours.

Have a wonderful weekend - one full of life, full of color, full of wishes come true.



Guest Post | Why I Write.

Friends, today's amazing guest post is brought to you by the lovely Rachel McGowan. Please read, please share, please comment. Please tell me I'm not the only one that cried while reading this. Thanks, Rachel! 


I sat down to write today in my favorite coffee shop, like I usually do. I was rushed, like I usually am.  I plugged in my headphones, found my favorite writing music, and opened up a blank page. Next to me sat two women, in their mid-thirties. This is not an uncommon sight to see, especially at a coffee shop. We women love our coffee dates with our heart friends.

Because I’m a curious person [and an avid people-watcher], I positioned my computer so that the pair was in my direct line of vision. Their mannerisms were fascinating; their laughter was like a magnet. I knew these women had a special connection, though I couldn’t figure it out.

Then one of the women opened a journal. It was a simple blue spiral bound notebook, probably found on a sale at a grocery store. She began to read.

As soon as I heard the word “addiction”, I turned off my music.

[And yes, I sat with my headphones still in my ear, with no music playing. A good creep learns this trick early on.]

I stopped was I was originally writing, and just listened. I was stunned by what I heard.

The woman sat in the middle of this coffee shop, and read the story of her struggle with an addiction to alcohol. She sat with her friend and simply spoke the cursive words written on those pages of that journal. She read the words that described the pain she felt when her own mother was diagnosed with cancer, and how that pain led her to strong vodka. She described the moment where she was so drunk she missed her mother’s funeral. She said she was “crushed by a self-imposed crisis” and was “so unaware of God’s presence because of the way alcohol made her feel.”

She said she had gotten more DUI’s than she thought possible, and that she never had enough self-control to give up her keys when she was inebriated.

She described the way it felt to be in jail for manslaughter.  She said that you don’t know pain until you know what it’s like to kill the innocent little girl in the other car. When she got to the part about the father of the little girl reading a letter to her in the courtroom, I got chills.

Page by page, she described her nightmare of a life to her friend across the table. There were tears and laughter and an appropriate use of air quotes. Her friend cried with her, laughed with her, and listened to every word she spoke. The pen marks were sharp knives in the air, clawing at every piece of flesh they came into contact with. My heart was shivering.

When she finished, the friend who had been listening the entire time had tears in her eyes. She looked this woman in her eyes, and she said, “Oh girl. You are reading my story exactly.”

And then the friend told this woman about hope.

This friend spoke of truth, of freedom, of sobriety. She sang over this woman the melody of a life un-bound by chains, un-clouded by addiction.

The bond these women shared was based on nothing that could be seen on the surface. It wasn’t that they worked together, or shared the same love for Thai food. They had both drank the poison of substance abuse, and had both seen the ramifications of letting that addiction take over their life. They knew what it felt like to choose alcohol over literally anything else, no matter the cost.

This friend helped the woman take a step out of the darkness. She spoke life.

And I think this is why I write.

Our stories have more power than we will ever be able to understand. It is a level of power that is frightening.

It’s chilling to think of the lives we can affect by writing down our histories and reading them to the world. It is terrifying to share our pasts, to write them out, to bare our souls.

There is so much depth to our imperfect cursive handwriting, or the periods at the ends of sentences, and the world is desperate for that depth.

It is an unexplainably beautiful thing to let down that wall, to expose our insides part by part., and the world is desperate for that beauty.

It is a disservice to humanity if we silence our own stories, even when they are ugly. To speak them is to speak life, and the world is desperate for that life.

To let people see our soul comes with a crippling wave of emotion. Even though it means we might change a life, it is still the scariest thing in the world.

But it is tragically scarier not to.

Rachel McGowan is a California-born 20-something writer, reader, dreamer, joke-teller, car-dancer and shower-singer. She loves learning from people and is passionate about the power of story and seeing good come from gross. Rachel works with college students and drinks diet cokes back to back to keep herself sane. She often writes about love, sex, singleness and relationships -- and the awkward joys and struggles of them all. She tweets about her daily observations, and she blogs about everything else.


Poem: Since Feeling is First

Life is funny sometimes. We don't realize that there are many people, some friends, some perfect strangers, that are living amazing, poignant, beautiful, brave stories... Maybe what I mean to say is that life is funny all of the time, but we're blind to it.

But for today, open your eyes. Because life is funny, short and sweet, terrible and beautiful. And worth reveling in.


since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

- e. e. cummings


book·ish: Favorite Book of All Time.

It's the beginning of October. It's a time for cider, bonfires, comfort food, sweaters and boots. And it's time for The Time Traveler's Wife. I've told you before about my obsession with this novel, but here I am. I'm about to pull it off my shelf, crack it open, fall in love with it all over again.

I can't explain it, but something about fall reminds me of this book and makes me want to read it, so I've made a tradition of it. Perhaps it's because the first time I read it, it was fall. Perhaps it's because the novel begins with a beautiful October day in Chicago, much like the one I'm enjoying today. Perhaps it's the symmetry bittersweetness of golden leaves as they fall to the ground and the colorful, heartrending love story of Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire that commands me: stop. read. relish.

So if you haven't read it, now would be a wonderful time to start.

Source: google.com via Bethany on Pinterest

If you can narrow it down to just one, what is your favorite book? Do you have a book that you read over and over again? Do you reread a certain book at a certain time of year? Am I crazy?



1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.