Another great discovery right under my nose!

Remember when I posted about discovering a little piece of heaven across the street from my house? After living there for twelve years?

Looks like I’ve found another treasure in my town. Continue reading “Another great discovery right under my nose!”

Nice, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, and your own life: When you can’t find the words during desperate times

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a violent storm, in the world around us, and in our own private spheres.

We wake up to another terrorist attack or senseless shooting. We face a crisis of trust in our leaders.

Our faith is under siege. Believers face ridicule and rejection, and for some, martyrdom.

Sickness and death surround us. We witness children in poverty dying of starvation around the world. We encounter suffering, death and grief among our own families and friends.

In the midst of these storms,
do you find it difficult to pray?

Continue reading “Nice, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, and your own life: When you can’t find the words during desperate times”

Taking a moment to just … be …

Last Sunday was a stressful day. It was one of many.

Sometimes life travels too fast. The plate becomes full to overflowing. Carrying a load of worry and frustration can become oppressive.

Time to off load my burden … time to take out the kayak. Continue reading “Taking a moment to just … be …”

Announcing my first book to be published this Fall! River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times

River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times
River of Grace is currently available for pre-sale on Amazon. The book will be released on October 30, 2015.

I am pleased to announce that my very first book, River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times will be released this Fall, published by Ave Maria Press!

A memoir with life application

River of Grace is part spiritual memoir and part life application, offering true and hopeful stories of growth and transformation after hard losses.

Father Robert Reed, president of CatholicTV and author of Renewed writes of the book:

“If you, like me, have experienced failure or loss and can’t quite find your way out of the darkness, Susan Bailey offers gentle reflections with graceful tools that bring light, creative renewal and a fuller Christian life.”

Amy Belding Brown, author of Mr. Emerson’s Wife and Flight of the Sparrow (which I reviewed last year) writes:

“Susan Bailey’s powerful and beautifully-written book is much more than an insightful spiritual memoir.  River of Grace is also a brilliant reflection on the connections between creativity and grace. Deeply grounded in a profound Christian faith, the author chronicles her personal experiences of loss and shows how they were transformed as she learned to accept and respond to new challenges. This wonderful book also includes a valuable assortment of exercises that will enrich your spiritual life and gently guide you to confront your own difficulties and deepen your relationship with God. Anyone who seeks to discern God’s purposes in life’s most challenging situations will find this book one to cherish.”

Seasons of loss

Just about all of us can cite a time in our lives whether now or in the past, where we have lost something precious to us.

  • Perhaps it’s been the death of a parent or a child.
  • Or, you yourself are suffering through a long illness.
  • It could be a long stretch of unemployment causing financial difficulties, even the loss of your home.
  • Maybe you’ve lost a best friend due to a falling out.
  • Perhaps you’ve recently put down a beloved pet.

These are all serious losses that tear at us, causing grief or anxiety or anger. Where do we find the strength to pick up the pieces and carry on?

Could a serious loss signal a new life, even a transformed life?

This is what I write about in River of Grace, beginning with the loss of my parents and then my singing voice. Through the means of a kayak and my love for Louisa May Alcott, God led me on an amazing, joy-filled and sometimes crazy adventure within his river of grace, leading up to this book and beyond.

Stories and tools

River of Grace is not just book of stories. I provide practical tools so that you too can go on your amazing adventure. These “Flow Lessons” appear throughout the book and will also be available on this website.

In the weeks to come, I will share quotes and stories from River of Grace. Please spread the word to everyone you know who has gone through a season of loss or is just looking to jump start their spiritual and creative lives.

Available in many formats

River of Grace will be available as a print book, e-book and audio book (through Audible.com and iTunes). Just this past week I started the process of recording the book. My thanks to producer extraordinaire Ron Zabrocki for his expertise (he produced several of my music CDs).

recording montage

Here is more on River of Grace:

Writing River of Grace and having it published by such a well-respected publisher has been a dream come true. I would definitely classify it as a “crazy adventure!”

River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult TimesPlease share this post on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, through email with anyone whom you think would benefit from reading my book. Feel free to share the book cover. Your recommendation is the best way to get the word out.

I will let you know just as soon as it is available when you can order River of Grace. Signing up for my email list is the best way to be the first to know.

I can’t wait to share this book with you!

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Fun Facts Friday: an epic kayaking journey, the language of cats, other inventions by women and more!

kayaking couple
photo by Alexis Rusch

Couple kayaking the Wabash stops in TH

Imagine this – a couple making a 1,600 mile journey in kayaks. Now that’s adventure!

Learning to speak the language of cats: How they’re actually telling humans what to do

My present cat Jenny
My present cat Jenny

My husband thinks I am nuts when I dialog with my cats. It takes all forms: silly high voices, singing, kisses … it’s true, it’s crazy but it’s lots of fun and definitely a two-way conversation as this article points out.

These smiling baby animals will force you to smile (34 Photos)

baby pig

texas spring flower
Texas spiderwort is among the many spring blooms in Central Texas. Photo by Darrell Vodopich

Fred Gehlbach: Spring’s nature renewal

Earlier this week I showed you early Spring in Massachusetts. Check out the coming of Spring in central Texas.

And from our readers:

Here are some other inventions by women.

Our reader says, “Leave it to women to invent disposable diapers, the street cleaner and ironing board!”

Send me your Fun Facts Friday link at susanwbailey@gmail.com and I’ll include it in the next post!

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Be As One makes it into print! Now available monthly in the Catholic Free Press

Be As One is now in print!

Beginning this month, I will be writing a monthly column for the Catholic Free Press, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts (previously I had written columns in the Catholic Free Press for the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester). The column is called “Be as One,” after this blog.

My first column appeared today in the paper:

640 be as one in CFP

Regular readers of this blog have seen this theme before; it is central to this blog. Here is the actual column:

Important lessons a kayak taught me

How could satisfying a husband’s request for a kayak end up teaching me one of the most important lessons of my life?

Back in 2007, my husband Rich suggested we get a kayak. In exploring our central Massachusetts town, we discovered that it and surrounding towns were peppered with lakes, ponds and streams. We both loved the water so it made sense. Having done test runs in both canoes and kayaks, I knew the minute I sat in the kayak that it was the right fit. It put me closest to the water where I could run my hand through it and dip my toes.

At first I resisted the idea of purchasing one because money was tight but Rich wore me down. He drove four hours to New Hampshire with our daughter to get the best price and returned with a beautiful, slightly used green tandem kayak. The boat landing was right down the street and so we set sail. Right away I knew this new hobby was going to have a positive effect on our lives.

Rich and I have enjoyed a happy, lifelong relationship. We dated in high school and married just out of college. We share the same values about life, particularly when it comes to our faith, but when it came doing things together, we came up short. The kayak solved that problem. Right away we noticed the harmony between us whenever we went out in the boat. Rather than compete with each other (which we always did), we worked in partnership. Leisurely trips included appreciating the natural landscape on the quieter ponds and looking over all the beautiful waterfront properties on the larger lakes. We’d pick out houses and imagine them as our dream homes. The harmony we experienced in the kayak began to be manifested in our everyday lives; we had finally learned how to work as a team.

I enjoyed kayaking so much that I began to daydream about it. Sitting as close to the water as I could without being in it … warm sunshine on my face … surrounded by lush, sweet-smelling greenery … dragging my hands lazily through the warm, clear water … splashing the water on my hot feet … drifting downstream, letting the current carry me … taking time just to be

I realized that the peace and harmony I experienced in the kayak with Rich, the delight in being carried downstream surrounded by water and greenery was a metaphor for a lifestyle, one I could have if I allowed God to be that current that carried me. Bit by bit I started letting go, releasing all the anxieties that used to wake me up at four in the morning in a cold sweat. I had worried most about our finances and now those worries were slowly floating away downstream.

I no longer wake up at 4 am in a cold sweat.

I realized that my whole life could be that single flow, directed by God’s current. All the different roles I take on: wife of a deacon, mother to two grown children, daughter, friend, marketing assistant, writer, musician, church volunteer, nature lover, lifelong student, a woman of faith–all of these roles, passions and interests could merge together into that one flow rather than exist as compartments with no relation to one other.

The Trinity is the perfect example of that wholeness: three separate persons in a continuous circle of unending love. Jesus was one with the Father and the Spirit and prayed that his followers could also be one. We are called to be in union with each other and we are also called be unified within ourselves. The flow of the water taught me that living my life in fragments that had no relation to one other was unhealthy. Following the example of the Trinity is the way. All I have to do is let myself float down God’s river of grace.

That’s what I’m learning to do now. I’m still at the beginning point of the journey. Knowledge however, is half the battle.

Susan lives in North Grafton and calls St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Westboro her home. She blogs regularly at www.beasone.org

I am grateful to the editor, Margaret Russell, for giving me this opportunity and I am pleased to be a small part of the excellent staff of the Catholic Free Press. Follow them on Twitter at @cfpnews.

 

Bidding a fond adieu to summer in a local paradise

You can see the upper cottage at the top, built into a knoll.

This was the best summer I’ve had in many a year and a lot of it was because I started walking during my lunch hour.

I work in Wellesley, MA in the center of town where there are a treasure trove of walking trails (which I’ll share with you in a future post).

The walking plus frequent kayak trips have reconnected me with nature in way I haven’t experienced since I was a child. When I can find the words to share how this connection has fed me, I will share it with you.

On to The Outermost House to prepare for winter.

I’ve started re-reading The Outermost House, a poetic classic of nature writing of one man’s year spent on the outer Cape. The author, Henry Beston, knows how to express connections with the natural world. I think once I immerse myself in his poetic words, I will find my own.

In the meantime, I’ll share with pictures.

On Labor Day, my husband Rich and I drove up to the northern Massachusetts town of Ashburnham where the family camp of my brother-in-law is located. The two cottages were built by relatives back around 1920 on 5 wooded acres overlooking Lake Winnekeg. The air was crisp and cool, the area bathed in sunlight and the sky a deep blue. Needless to say it was very hard to leave this paradise, but it was the appropriate way to bid summer a fond adieu.

Here’s my photographic memoir of the day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How was your summer? What memories can you share?

Click to Tweet & Share: Bidding a fond adieu to summer in a local paradise http://wp.me/p2D9hg-aL

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Tweets of the Week (September 5, 2012)

Here are some great links and tweets I found this past week:

From the Post Bulletin @PB_News

Moonlight kayaking – I want to do this! – Post Bulletin http://www.postbulletin.com/news/stories/display.php?id=1507175

From Patheos.com @Patheos

I am so blessed to have two outstanding spiritual friends – Spiritual Direction vs. Spiritual Friend http://shar.es/7V9RA

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Will Braden holds Henri, the cat who stars in Braden’s videos

From the Seattle Times @seattletimes

Here’s the producer of the Henri 2 video, winner of the first internet Cat video award: Garfield High grad wins Internet Cat Video Film Festival http://tinyurl.com/9jjgycd

From the Kenilworth Weekly

Kayaking Katie backs move to end paralympics exclusion rule  – http://tinyurl.com/8nwkfym

From the NewsandSentinal.com

“It’s just a gas to build a beautiful boat that looks like a piece of furniture and then float away.” http://tinyurl.com/9cahrkq

Click to Tweet & Share: Tweets of the Week: moonlight kayaking; meet maker of Henri 2, Spiritual direction & more http://wp.me/p2D9hg-ap

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Tweets of the Week: kayaks, scenery, cats, weather, birds … take your pick!

from http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/cat-helps-boy-express-his-emotions

In an effort to invite as many as I can to visit Be as One, I maintain an account on Twitter (and you can follow my tweets in the side bar – there’s a link where you can follow me). I’m following several interesting people and organizations and thought that on a regular basis, I would share interesting tweets and links with you.

Here are this week’s Tweets of the Week:

from http://wildbirdsunlimited.typepad.com

from Kenn Kaufman ‏@KennKaufman
Roger Tory Peterson artwork going up for auction soon. The background story

and from Wild Birds Unlimited ‏@WildBirdsUnlmtd
Funny bald Blue Jay – Wordless Wednesday – Don’t Speak with your Mouth Full

Click to Tweet & Share: Tweets of the Week: kayaks, scenery, cats, weather, birds … take your pick! http://wp.me/p2D9hg-92

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Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

Frodo and Hobbiton: Kayaking on Lake Waban at Wellesley College

Easily the best trip of the season. Can’t wait to come back!

This was a trip to fairyland, to everything I imagined Hobbiton to be.

It was hard to leave, reminding me of the great courage Frodo Baggins demonstrated in forsaking all this beauty to set out on his quest.

His life’s flow brought him to extreme danger, ugliness, terror and ultimately, heroics.

He had the courage to let his river carry him.

Kayaking has shown me in a graphic way how to let my river carry me. Some of the time the trip is bucolic, like this one to Lake Waban at Wellesley College.

Other times the water gets rough and it can get dangerous.

For today though, I want to share photos of a trip that was easily the best of this season. The conditions were perfect (90+ degree day, sunny and breezy) and the lake was teaming with families/clusters of birds.

Enjoy the beauty and see if you can imagine your river.

Click to Tweet & Share: Kayaking teaches me lessons about life and letting my river carry me http://wp.me/p2D9hg-10

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Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion