At other places
Can you be a mother and be creative?
May 1, 2018 at 9:01 am 0
I don't know about you but I've had to fight for creativity -- almost sometimes, it felt like too late. I see women like Maile Smucker doing it (read this wonderful piece by Shawn Smucker on making time for writing mothers) and I know that's my story, too. I never thought of myself as a writer -- which is odd, I know, since I have a book coming out in October. But I've had to remember that all of me is okay to bring to the table. The analytical scholar, the feeling-focused inner child, the mother, the woman who likes leopard print, and the little girl who scrawled stories in a binder. But motherhood -- perhaps especially in this day and age (we are judged at every turn for what makes a good mother) -- complicates our individual desires. Suddenly we are not just an "I," we are "we" -- a "we" more intimate than even with our spouses. For Fathom Magazine, I wanted to explore how creativity is both something that helped bring me back to life (it birthed me anew) and also is something that always needs to be tied to our lived experience, concrete reality, and the everyday. Here's a sampling:
  But what of me? I was learning what it meant to be a body, but I’d lost my mind a bit in the process. After ten years, my PhD diploma that sat rolled up in a brown paper tube with Scottish postage on it. There was a beauty in pouring oneself out again and again in milk and blood. But something was missing and I wondered if it would ever return. Could I capture light and graceful sentences when I was covered in spit up for yet another year? My creativity had turned into sleep schedules and feeding schedules, watching what my children ate and how it affected their behavior. Trying desperately to help them to read, imagine, play, believe, all the while the daily stuff of earth began choking me. I had no story for a liturgy born from the body, for words that started and stopped, for grace that could drip, drip, drip even amongst dirty diapers and endless laundry. I felt guilty. So many women longed for babies and my cup runneth over. But I was drowning. So, a few years into motherhood, with four children aged six and under, I sat on our old greenish couch and began writing into the ether. I started a blog. There was no pressure: no grade, no one telling me what I’d forgotten, no one reading or looking over my shoulder. My husband bought me a Wordpress theme and a domain name and booked me a seat on a plane to a writers conference—all to find that girl who longed to fly.

Read the rest at Fathom Magazine. 

At other places
Who’s Afraid of Big Words Like Holiness? What If It’s Not What You Think?
April 19, 2016 at 7:00 am 0
holy curiosity: Ashley Hales Curiosity is a creeping thing like the seeping of water into the grass’ edges. It not until you step into it that you realize you’re not where you thought you were. That the ground is different than you anticipated. Curiosity doesn’t write itself in the sky with bright letters. Curiosity taps you quietly on the shoulder until you either take heed of it and follow, or it leaves an ache from the bruise of constant, ignored tapping. You can choose to follow where it goes, or get on with your life, too busy to get lost in big questions. I used to think curiosity was responsible for the wanderlust: my years abroad where all the stacked layers of history were constantly new. Every place promised home, or at least adventure. Curiosity felt like a burgeoning promise as it pushed me into moving every few years for a degree or my husband’s job. And “new” felt holy too. We’d dream about grand adventures, about amassing information and making new contacts, about being God’s hands in hard soil. It felt important somehow to think of ourselves and our mission as burrowing into international cultures, or at least urban ones. We would join the ones on the edges, doing hard things for God. Yet, now we find ourselves driving a minivan miles from where we grew up. I’m learning the quiet truths as my circles constrict. Curiosity cannot be holy if it is focused on my own need for recognition. “Holy” after all means “other.” And if my curiosity is only about tracing the path of my own mind, my own mission, my own sense of calling, then I am not about the holy. I am only about myself. Holiness always propels us towards others.   // I'm writing and processing the lessons I began to learn this last week at the Festival of Faith & Writing (and I'll have more about all that soon!). Today, I get to do it at my friend, Cara Meredith's, blog. I hope you'll hop on over and read the rest. Most of all, I hope you'll respond -- I want to know if you think this idea hits home: that changing the world isn't really what you thought it was initially. That it has more to do with holy curiosity in the small, unseen moments than truth writ large. What are you curious about? What lessons are you learning about paying attention?