Reading, Thinking, Dreaming

The last day of an extended holiday weekend went exactly as planned. I spent the morning in the backyard under a canopy of green, finishing Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson. Moving to the front patio, I put our rocking chairs to use while starting Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Just as I’d embarked on Chapter Two, I suddenly remembered a third book that I was so close to finishing, so I returned to the deck to mark There’s a Better Day A-Comin’ by Ronda Rich off my list.

It was lovely to be surrounded by the sounds of wind rustling through trees, occasional scuffles of squirrels in overhead branches, and the sweet chirps of a bird’s melody. Other than distant lawnmowers, you wouldn’t guess anyone else was around.

There was something about wrapping Beyond the Point on Memorial Day. The story is set at West Point Military Academy and follows three women through a handful of years directly following their graduation. While I can’t directly relate to military culture, what gripped me was one character’s grief, one character’s journey back to herself, and one character’s struggle to find meaning and purpose.

“If life was this short, Dani wasn’t sure that she could spend hers in an office with Laura Klein. How could she go back to London and care about a commercial or a digital banner ad ever again? How could she go back to making money but no impact in the world?”
Beyond the Point, Claire Gibson


We are having some renovations done to our Master Bed & Bath. Right now, our toilet has taken up residence in our bedroom, but when the work is done, it’s going to look AMAZING. With the holiday weekend, I realized today was Day Four of no contractors. I must’ve been contemplating this as I poured my morning coffee [sans dairy for those keeping score], looking off in the distance. My husband asked if I was alright. I said, “Yeah. I just wish we knew.”

[insert metaphorical light bulb here.]

The theme of my life, friends. I wish I knew my purpose. I wish I knew my calling. I wish I knew how all of this was going to end – to know what was important and what really wasn’t.

Of course, if I knew everything that was to happen, why would I need faith?

“I’ve always found it interesting that when you cook, everything has to be sliced, peeled, or smashed in order to be used. The best flavors come out when the ingredients are broken and exposed to heat.” Dani nodded. “I think that’s true for us, too. Faith isn’t really faith until it’s beat up and put through a fire. When you’re crushed, you feel like you’re dying. But you’re actually coming to life. When you’re broken, that’s when the best of you comes out.”
Beyond the Point, Claire Gibson

I had terrible dreams last night. I couldn’t find my shoes. I couldn’t find my purse. And somehow in the midst of all the chaos, my brain remembered a quote from the Ronda Rich collection of stories I’d completed the day before.

“The calling of our lives always appears during childhood. We only have to look back and, clearly, we will see it.
There’s a Better Day A-Comin’, Ronda Rich

I’m not entirely sure I agree with this, but I thought real hard about it, anyway. My interests were so varied as a child. If it was the least bit creative, I was all in. But last night in my dream, a photo of young Amanda came to mind.

This morning I pulled out a golden square box, decorated with stars and confetti, that I’d lodged under a kit of watercolors, a palette, and an unfinished canvas I’ve temporarily given up on. Inside, a Ziploc bag full of loose photos; the one I’d dreamt of was fourth from the top.

Young Amanda is maybe five or six years old. She has long brown hair that waves down her shoulders. The wisps curling around her temples are almost blonde.

The top part of her hair is sectioned off to the side with a big red and white bow. She is grinning — showing off the gap of her missing two front teeth — and standing under a crayon drawing that hangs in between a framed likeness of Winnie the Pooh and the head of Smokey the Bear fashioned out of a paper plate.


Young Amanda’s masterpiece is a far cry from bears — it’s a playground set in lush green grass. There are three birds flying in the distance that look like blue capital Ms. The jungle gym arches over the sun while three flowers, also underneath, stand at equal height to its rays.

There’s a blue person in a red swing, an orange person on the green monkey bars, and a pink person coming down a blue slide. The strokes are scribbled, but I can make out every thought intended.

To the left of the drawing hangs a green satin ribbon with an embossed gold seal at the top. Reflecting the vintage camera’s flash, I can only read the larger gold text underneath: HONORABLE MENTION.

Why was this in my dream? Was it to show me young Amanda’s joy? The pride she felt in winning awards and making her parents smile enough to warrant capturing the moment on film? Maybe. Maybe it was just a dream.

“The point of life isn’t to quench our thirst, it’s to realize we’re thirsty for something that we can’t find here.”
Beyond the Point, Claire Gibson


My questions outweigh my answers. Until I know, I’m breathing in patience and reminding myself to do the small thing in front of me today and do it well.

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