Adventures in Imperfection · The Braveheart Chronicles

Me, Jo March, and a Stumble into Grace

*I like good strong words that mean something…

Josephine March: Via

I read Little Women in third or fourth grade, and have been channeling Jo March ever since.

*Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.

Even though I chose a career more pragmatic and pay-grade worthy than writing, I still felt compelled to fill piles of notebooks with wild stories, character profiles, and silly poetry–I couldn’t not write. Anytime I felt lost, my fingers unearthed a map by way of a keyboard or pen.  When I started blogging (on a whim), I found you guys, and my world opened up to lifelong friends, inspiration, and happy places to share my ramblings.

Then, I got ambitious and egocentric. What if I could do this for a living? People were reading my gibberish and seemed to like it–why not publish?

*I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.

In Little Women, I was most drawn to the chapters where Jo crafted stories and fashioned her manuscript parcels. I have always been about the process–whether it’s training for a marathon, planting tomatoes, or building a story. In the garden, I am drawn to the plot graphs and seedling calendars. My arms and legs itch for the act of plunging seeds into the soil, hoeing weeds and watering plants.  The harvest? While lovely and inspiring, that is icing, er…carrots on the cake. (Though, we all know how I love frosting!)

The joy for me is finding inspiration in the ordinary tasks. The enlightened realization that a garden is rich with life lessons and metaphors. I love uncovering my next blog post in a pile of compost or under a cabbage leaf. I also crave the calm that surrounds more mundane tasks. Cleaning out closets, chopping wood, preparing a meal for the family–all of this makes my heart happy.

*The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.

With all the hype around publishing, had I forgotten the simple pleasures in writing? After gentle nudges and discussions with close friends, I took an honest look at my last six months of blog posts.

*You have grown abominably lazy, and you like gossip, and waste time on frivolous things, you are contented to be petted and admired by silly people, instead of being loved and respected by wise ones.

Okay, well, my friends weren’t that harsh, but you get the gist. Other than the stories from my most recent (beautiful) guest posters, it’s been all about me, and writing a book–blah, blah, blah. Building a platform–bleggh!  Getting a newsletter mailing list, and networking with other writers. I have enjoyed the process and the research and the networking, (oh my!) But, in the furor of activity and self-promotion, I neglected something vital.

The writing.

*I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.

The realization rocked me, so I decided to shut up and listen to some other voices. I took May (and June and July) to reevaluate and decide what I want to put forth into the world. Have I been real and authentic, or just rolling around in the process of publishing and publicity? How can I help someone other than myself with these words on a page? Then, it happened. I got a story published. In a real book with my biography and picture in the back pages.

365 Moments of Grace: Amazon

And, I wasn’t ready for it.

In June, my story was one of 365 other stories published in this internationally bestselling book. Instead of expected elation, I felt unworthy to be a part of such a beautiful and soul-filled project.

Before you disagree or think I’m throwing out a humble-brag fishing lure, let me speak my peace. I am thrilled to be an author contributor and am so thankful to Monica for introducing me to the husband/wife, author/collaborator team of Jodi and Dan. But, I still feel strange in writing about grace; more so, publishing it. It’s like I got invited to a cool party, made a scene, and am now taking the walk of shame with heels in one hand, and car keys in the other. I am clumsy, spiritually shy, and awkward in this space.

*Well, I am happy, and I won’t fret, but it does seem as if the more one gets the more one wants…

What could I ever have to say about grace? I struggled when writing the published story, and now I’m struggling with what to write about it in this post. So, for inspiration, I read the first passage–Three Angels and a Tire by Rani St. Pucci. And then another–More Faith, Less Worry by Monica Wilcox. And another after that–Sown on Rocky Ground by Chris Anderson. Do you know what I found? Evidence of grace, and more than two hundred other authors who have had their struggles and shared their honest stories.

Here is what Jodi and Dan have to say about 365 Moments of Grace:

Grace can show up in many ways. It’s in the tangible signs showing us that our world is truly magical. It’s in the intangible feelings reminding us that we’re never really alone. It’s in every moment when the universe lets us know how loved we are, how loving our world is, and how connected we are to all that is.

In this book, over 250 beautiful souls – including bestselling authors Jodi Chapman, Dan Teck, Arielle Ford, Kristine Carlson, and Christine Arylo – each share a moment of grace they’ve personally experienced with the hopes of inspiring you to open to grace in your own life.

While the experiences themselves vary greatly, each of these moments transformed the authors and connected them to something much bigger than themselves. These true-life stories (one page each – for quick inspiration!) were written with love and infused with the intention that you’ll be on the lookout for moments of grace to show up in your own life…and that you’ll be open to receiving them when they do!

After some stalling, I read my story, too. On page 10 in chapter 1–Discovery in Grace Canyon. Each author was allotted 250-350 words, so I wrote a simple story about uncovering grace in a space right in front of me after years of searching for it. It was short, honest, and full of grace.

Hmmm…maybe I do belong in those pages after all?

Maybe you do, too.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank the friends who read about it in my newsletter and who have already purchased this book. My dad, who had a heart attack last month, has been reading the book–one passage for each day of the year. When I’m writing well, it’s because I write inspired by the people I love. My dad has helped me remember that and I hope you’ll see further evidence in stories to come.

For those of you who are looking for grace in the hidden spaces, this book would be perfect for your bedside table, morning meditation, or evening devotions. You can order your personal copy here.

Care to stumble through the rest of the crazy, grace-filled, messy life with me? I’ll carry your shoes 🙂

*Jo’s breath gave out here, and wrapping her head in the paper, she bedewed her little story with a few natural tears, for to be independent and earn the praise of those she loved were the dearest wishes of her heart, and this seemed to be the first step toward that happy end.

****

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*Selected quotes from Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott

Special thanks to my blogger bestie Christy, who always helps me write (and do) the hard stuff.

Meet Virginia
Meet Virginia

61 thoughts on “Me, Jo March, and a Stumble into Grace

  1. Well, well Michelle, who are these amazing people you know? Authors everywhere…it must mean it will rub off onto you and soon we will see a book from the depths of Lipstick and Laundry 😀
    I do hope so, if you are anything like this young lady, who projects herself into her words quite willingly, an amazing story shall unfold.
    I have seen this book out and about for a little while now, and I can feel its energy. It will touch all that read it. Me included as it is on my ‘wish list’ 🙂
    Thank you for sharing another heart for us to see Michelle, and thank you ‘Lady Of The Magic Pen’, I’m looking forward to reading ‘your’ story 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mark,
      So many people do indeed rub off on me…you are one of those people 🙂
      It’s cool that you’ve seen this book around. I bought the first one in the series last year and just knew it was built by some special people.
      “Lady of the Magic Pen” I like that moniker! Would it be vain of me to screen print that onto a t-shirt? Oh wait, I already know the answer to that question 🙂
      I’ll just wear an apron instead 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you kind lady, and if the moniker fits. wear it wherever you please 😀
        Your Magic Pen should be blazoned all over, online (now there is a thought…a blog called Magic Pen/’s 🙂 ), or on you, as you wander and create this world of Authoress’s 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. OH
      EM
      GEE! Victoria! So…you’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Do you know how happy I am to see you here? Could you feel me trying to channel your inner authenticity? Time for a change, my friend – I hope you’ll see a difference.
      And, how are YOU?? We need to connect again. Drop me a note, give me a call. I miss you!
      Michelle
      PS: My dad is doing great 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hellllooooo! Did you think I fell into my nectar shed?
        I am getting ready to go on vacation with the family, but will be back soon.
        Do you still have my hotmail address? That’s the best one 🙂
        Love you!

        Like

  2. Congratulations!! I loved the post–I can so relate.When am I happiest? When writing and reading. What have I been doing? Checking blog stats obsessively. UGH. Time to re-read the Screwtape Letters. Time to Be Still. Time to put the phone in the other room.

    So cool that you are published!!!!!

    Like

    1. Oh, the Screwtape Letters…that’s on my book shelf, too. Thank you for a wonderful reminder.
      And yes, I love/hate blog stats. I’m much better off if I hit publish and then go our for a run. Thank you for reading and for the follow. I’m going to do some reading later on today – I can’t wait to read more about you 🙂

      Like

  3. You’re so awesome. I love the reminder to look for grace all around us. Even when bad things happen, God’s grace can bring good out of it if we only have eyes to see. Many of my greatest blessings have come out of what tore my heart out first. This book looks so great. Do you think they’ll ever put it in ebook form? I love reading on my ereader and have a harder time lately reading ‘real’ books because I can’t just set them down on the table and eat while I read or hold them in one hand and read while I do my stationary bike. Lame, I know…but it’s the truth. I hope you’re dad is doing good on his recovery. My dad had a heart attack about five years ago and it was a good wake up call for him. He’s doing awesome now and is more careful about his diet and exercise. We’re heading into the weekend…hope yours will be filled with fun and family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …if only we have eyes to see
      Oh yes, that’s the key Charissa. I hope you know that YOU were one of the friends I confided in last month when I was struggling a bit. Our back and forth conversation helped me more than you will ever know. Thank you for that.
      So, unfortunately, you’ve been down the heart attack route, too. It’s stressful and overwhelming, but it certainly makes us appreciated family even more.
      And, how is your recovery going? Stationary bike sounds good, right?
      I will definitely check to see if they have an e-reader version available. I do about half and half in my reading. The more clinical, self-helpy stuff I keep on my Kindle. The fiction and memoirs…I want to turn and smell the pages 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for checking. If they don’t, I’ll order hardcopy, but I’ll read it faster if it’s on my kindle, whereas I tend to put paperbacks away and not get to them in a timely manner. ***Glad I could be a sounding board for you last month…and yes, serious illness does tighten family ties more. As for my recovery, I just went to dr. today for postop check and he said I can exercise until I can’t stand the pain–that’s what I’ve been waiting for. Good news. I still will have to do the whole hip replacement later on (maybe even this year if he lets me–which would be nice since I’ve almost met my deductible already), but I’m excited for that. I wasn’t born with good hips, I guess. Bummer. But it’s cool that they could give me a new one and I’ll feel all normal and jumpy-bouncy afterward (at least a few months afterward). Take care, my friend…and keep on writing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so glad to hear that you can exercise! You are an active lady, so I can only imagine you feel a little ready to crawl the walls. Keep up that great attitude – that’s one of the many parts of you I adore. Xo

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Archita! Thank you. You are always so kind. I think my other book is on hold for a bit, but the one I mentioned has been released out into world 🙂
      And, just so you know…I’ve been craving tomatoes and mozzarella since I saw your Instagram pic 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the honesty of this piece, Michelle. Like it or not, prepared or not, you are an author now. I can attest to this because you have all the doubts and emotional swings the rest of us do. Welcome to the club. The only cure is to keep writing and keep to keep putting yourself out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww…thank you, Monica. This means the world coming from you. You have only ever spoke from a place of authenticity, so you are one of the many I use as a beacon. Thank you for recognizing the honesty – that was one of the most important things I wanted people to feel.

      I can’t wait to see what you cook up next. Thank you, my friend.

      Now…I’m heading to Tennessee…in search of sweet tea and warm hugs 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear lovely MM (I’ve been wondering how your ‘handle’ was going to materialise for me, and this may be it, which is rather wonderful (and I hope you don’t find insulting, as it’s not in any way meant to be), being slightly like a happy yummy sound – “mmm”) /endtangent

    I love that you wrote for this book (which I haven’t bought yet but will promote as much as I can, and will hope to buy soon) and that you identify with Jo March. She was always my favourite, even though I never read any of the other ‘Little Women’ books (someone told me Beth really DOES die in one, and that Jo and Laurie end up NOT married to each other, and I absolutely couldn’t bear it, so I stopped reading after the one, because then the options could still be open in my mind, and Jo and Laurie could forever sit up on that hillside building castles in the air).

    I love that you find inspiration in compost and cabbage leaves. I love that you have such an urge to share your musings and learnings, and you DO do it so very gracefully, and graciously. You belong amongst those authors, even if you don’t feel it. I secretly wonder (having been in that exact position) whether there’s a dogging feeling of pretension until we publish something all our own. Maybe one day we’ll find out 🙂

    Sorry to hear about your dad. I hope he gets better really soon.

    HUGE love to you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Lizzi,
      You always know what to say and how to make me feel treasured like your true friend. Thank you! Yes, I love the MM handle (makes me think of chocolate M&Ms!)
      I haven’t read anything other than the first Little Women book either – in fact, since writing this post, I’ve put it on my list to read it again.
      And yes, you would know about being a collaborator with your latest project, Singularity (LOVE my signed copy!)
      You are an accomplished writer my friend and you “belong among the authors,” too.
      Everything you do is with grace and gratitude, and I am grateful for your friendship. Thank you, Lovely. Xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. MM, (love that it works for M&Ms too – the peanut ones were my favourites!) you ARE my true and treasured friend! I know you’re far away, but you’re one of my hardwired hearts! I may have to do another round of those soon! I feel it calling to me!

        I’m SO GLAD you haven’t read any of the others either! Makes me feel a lot less doofy 😉

        And…being a collaborator doesn’t make me feel like I belong, so, there’s that. I’m So glad you love your signed copy though – they’re awesome!

        And, if I have grace, it has been hard won and worked for, and gratitude…ALWAYS because I am so thankful for so much, and so much thankful for YOU ❤

        Like

  6. I am am so glad that you have begun to accept the level of grace you have as a writer, yet while retaining the humble appreciation you have for it. That’s why it remains a magical place. It has been such a joy to watch you grow. Even more so, it’s been a joy to watch how your growth as a writer continues to inspire others.

    And by the way, most of my writing material comes from the compost pile. Or ends up there. Or whatever… 😉

    Cheers to you, Michelle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ned,
      I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that you inspire me all of the time. You write with humor, grace, and humility worthy of Fr. Robert robes. It may seem stalker-y of me, but I pay close attention to what you do and how you do it. You’d once told me that I’d know if I was moving away from authentic writing, and brutha…it was happening. It feels good to be back, to be myself again, and to be writing.
      Thank you so much for your support and friendship. Xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That really means a lot to me, Michelle 😉 And I can tell you from experience that it won’t be the last time you find yourself drifting. It’s just the nature of what we do and trying to share it with others. But trust your gut instincts; they are good ones because your intentions are true and from the heart.

        It’s good to have you back, Michelle 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Reading your writing is such a treat for my soul! Always. Sometimes, I think grace is merely having the courage to not give in to fear. To keep going, no matter what. To trust that we can, and then it happens (whatever it is). You so often inspire me, and today is no exception. I’m loving 365 Moments of Grace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Grace is merely having the courage not to give in to fear.”
      That is SO good, Susan. You often inspire me, too and am so appreciative for your loving friendship. Some day…we’ll chop down a tree (or two) together. Xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There isn’t a word I can leave here that hasn’t already been said! I love this and am ordering the book today! Grace is the best fried chicken ever made and the recipe died along with the woman who’s name was Grace and one the most amazing woman I as blessed to have in my world. I can’t wait to read this.

    So good to see you back a little more every week!

    Like

    1. Hello dear friend,
      I absolutely love seeing you here.
      Thank you for your kind words and for always being one of my sweetest supporters.
      I love your story about friend chicken and Grace…was she a friend? An aunt? Maybe a Grandma? I have always loved the sound of that word and adore every single Grace I know 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She was my Grandmother and my daughters named after her. ❤️

        Always love stopping by, your place is just one of my favorite bright spots! So thank you for that

        Like

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for your kind, kind words Deborah! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’ve been offline so much this summer, but when I return for good, I’ll be sure to pop over to your blog and say hello 🙂

      Like

  9. Well done, Michelle!
    Don’t let your self-confidence waver, young lady, your star is on the rise. Look at it this way, my daughter recently admitted she thinks of me as a failure – but only in the sense that I abandoned my journalism career and my literary aspirations. I didn’t abandon them though… I just haven’t been able to get an ounce of traction. I doubt I ever will.
    And while this fact sucks – to say the least – I’ll never know any real peace until I accept it and move on.

    Feel better, pretty lady?

    Like

    1. Hi Leigh! How awesome to see you here. I have always admired and appreciated your approach to all things writing. I need to hop over and see what you’ve been working on. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think that at times we all end up in a place that can scare us, or, cause us to feel we do not belong. In all reality, at some point in time everyone does. Congratulations on your part in this book. Everyone has something to say that no one else can say better.

    Liked by 1 person

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