I hope that you are finding ways to care for yourself and your loved ones right now, when the world feels incredibly vulnerable and the grief is palpable.
To Hold the Night (formerly The Night We Met)
Since my last update, in early August, we made a short film,
*Photo by Peter Mabrucco
I wasn't sure, going into it, how it would feel being on set again. (it's been AWHILE) And yet, I knew I wanted to be there and that I used to love it. I also knew that if Jessica Petelle and Jen Prince and me, were producing a film I wrote and Jessica was directing, there was no place I would rather be.
It's essential to show up when dreams are actually coming true.
I loved it. All over again. And to be clear, it wasn't just any set, it was our set. Led by five female producers (Jessica, Jen, Alana Omolayole, Nikki Andrew and me along with a incredibly supportive and enthusiastic male producer, Brad Turner) and a lead actress, Anwen O'Driscoll, that blew us all away. And we were in a community (Bayfield, Ontario) full of wildly supportive and caring people. And yes, the weather, was incredible.
*Photo by Dianne Brandon
It was magic. I look forward to sharing updates with you as we move through post-production and into festivals.
PAHS (Project for Advancing Healthcare Stewardship)
Right after returning from Canada, I guest facilitated a forum for PAHS through The University of Minnesota. One of the joys of facilitating was choosing a leader to share for ten minutes to kick off the meeting. I didn't hesitate before reaching out to Kim Rowe. Her presentation on living with chronic illness affected all of us. And the close reading of Ada Limón's "Instructions on Not Giving Up" and subsequent writing prompt felt like a supportive and generative space to inhabit as the horrific violence in the Middle East continued to intensify.
*Photo by Marisa Vitale
choose Ada Limón's poem because of how it makes me feel, every single time I read it.
If you have a moment, read Limón’s poem and sit with it. Or think of a natural phenomena that speaks to you; the crash of the waves, The Northern Lights, the patter of rain on your car window, an epic sunset and let it wash over you.
Instructions on Not Giving Up
By Ada Limón
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
There is still time to sign up for the November Forum and it's free!
Where I'm From and Fine Cut
I continue to have the great pleasure of sitting down with people I admire and immerse myself in their childhoods, their thoughts and their passions.
Where I'm From
#101 Natasha Israni
#102 Karen DeBonis
#103 Julie Cantrell
#104 Linda Jellison
#105 Gina Ransom
#106 Grace Talusan
#107 Katie Post
#108 Amy Hruby
#109 Angie Chatman
#110 Blair Glaser
#111 Dave Horrocks
#112 Rebekkah Dilts
#113 Wendy Wimmer
#114 Jessica Waite
What I'm Reading
Women Holding Things by Maira Kalman is a book that makes me wish I had a million dollars to spend on books. I would buy one for each of you and mail it to your house. It is a book that is easy to pick and put down and not feel guilty doing either, it'll wait. It feels like a perfect book for now, when we are all holding so much. And it is a book that acknowledges that women hold it differently.
Wannabe: Reckonings with the Pop Culture that Makes Me by Aisha Harris is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read blending criticism and memoir. The way she weaves it all together is impressive and she touches on a variety of topics and her references that are fresh. So fresh!
Thank you for being on this journey with me. I know it's a difficult time and the celebration of small or large joys can feel kinda icky or pointless but I appreciate you taking the time to read through mine and give them some space in your life. I am here to celebrate your joys and successes, please share them.
And if you'd like to join me for a poem, I'm serious, join me! I'm booked through April, so you have lots of time to think. Also, if you'd like to talk about a scene for Fine Cut, email me.
Happy Friday! And weekend. And I hope we each get one or two moments to breath this weekend.
Hello Wonderful Friends!
1. Where I'm From #100
Yesterday, we celebrated the 100th episode of Where I'm From (!!!) with my special guest, Cody Shelton. You may know him because he's my fantastic husband, TV producer and all around great guy.
Thank you to everyone who's been a part of this series, watched, commented and/or shared it. It's my privilege and joy to listen to these poems every week. Come join me! For real! Even if you're not on Instagram, we can record on Zoom, it's easy.
Since my last newsletter I've had these gold star guests join me, and yes, in my opinion, every guest is a gold star guest:
#89 Paul McGuigan
#90 Michelle Bowdler
#91 A.R. Farina
#92 Blake Byles
#93 Tammy Evans
#94 Roz Morris
#95 Sara Letourneau
#96 Elizabeth Marian Charles
#97 Katherine Anne Gilbert
#98 Natalie Serianni
#99 Brenan Yack
#100 Cody Shelton
2. Loss of a Lifetime: Sibling Loss Anthology
As many of you know, my brother Michael died when I was ten years old. It shaped the course of my life though I didn't realize it, I was mostly surviving and trying to move on or move forward and find some semblance of peace. One of the many gifts my complicated relationship with the internet has given me is a community of others who've lost their siblings. Even though sibling loss happens, it is the sort of bereavement that receives little focus and you can see that in the lack of literature around it. Lynn Shattuck, brilliant writer and friend, has been working on an anthology about sibling loss for some time and I've joined as a co-editor. I'm looking forward to finding a home for this anthology and sharing it with all of you.
3. Fine Cut
It continues to be a blast connecting with people I adore and talking about media that's made an impact on us. Recent episodes of Fine Cut include:
4. What I'm Reading
Wow, I've read some real bangers lately but in the contemplative sense of the word.
Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth and Identity by Leah Meyers - I loved it. An incredible book that braids together seemingly disparate elements to form a cohesive and impactful whole.
Blurb from Bookshop.Org "Leah Myers may be the last member of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in her family line, due to her tribe's strict blood quantum laws. In this unflinching and intimate memoir, Myers excavates the stories of four generations of women in order to leave a record of her family."
Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe - This book feels like sitting in on a soul-defining, private conversation. It changed the author and it changed me too.
Blurb from Bookshop.Org "A singular achievement, Ordinary Notes explores profound questions about loss and the shapes of Black life that emerge in the wake. In a series of 248 notes that gather meaning as we read them, Christina Sharpe skillfully weaves artifacts from the past--public ones alongside others that are poignantly personal--with present realities and possible futures, intricately constructing an immersive portrait of everyday Black existence."
The Crying Book by Heather Christle - Yes, as a crier I am the target audience for this book, also it's so beautiful.
Blurb from Bookshop.Org "Heather Christle has just lost a dear friend to suicide and now must reckon with her own depression and the birth of her first child. As she faces her grief and impending parenthood, she decides to research the act of crying: what it is and why people do it, even if they rarely talk about it."
5. What I'm Watching - BARBIE
The joy of Barbie! (Do you see that Barbie townhouse?!? Dreams do come true!) Feeling it as a young girl and feeling it again now. Barbies were kind of my life when I was young. It was the toy I asked for every time someone asked me what I might like. And then they started asking,
"What would you like other than a Barbie?"
Which would really tick me off.
You asked me what I wanted. I told you. Some people would tease me (a lot) about my love of Barbie and so this movie, this wonderful, incredible, joyful, surprising, empowering, funny, PINK movie has felt validating and especially fun for me.
And thank goodness Ria saw it and we found a time to talk about it for Femme on Film. You can listen to us chat about it HERE.
I hope you've seen Barbie or some of the press and felt validated or acknowledged. I'm grateful there's a movie that celebrates a toy that anchored my young life and talks about the patriarchy and how f***ing unbelievable it is that we all live with it and accept that it is normal. It's not.
Thank you for reading my newsletter. I love connecting with you, if you lived closer I'd hand delivery you some peaches from our trees.
Please let me know what you're reading, watching and thinking about this Summer.
*If you or anyone you know is interested in participating in Where I'm From, let me know!
These past few weeks have been chock full of milestones for me and I am doing my best to celebrate them instead of quietly filing them away and moving on to whatever is NEXT.
1. I finished the first draft of my memoir. (Working title: "A Kickass Book I Wrote" cause I wrote a book and yay, that's hard), I am making a deliberate point of sharing this news, being proud of it and celebrating the thing I set out to do. Write a first draft by June 1st.
My biggest fan awaiting my debut, also bacon.
I know there is so much, MUCH more work to do and I am being intentional about celebrating and acknowledging the process.
I think my creative happiness lay firmly grounded in finding joy in the process because product, well, let’s be honest, whoever knows how that is going to go?
2. 20 years of marriage to Cody! Another moment I am breathing in. When I was young, I did not think married life, and definitely not happily married life was for me. Big (and joyful surprise) it is!
On our honeymoon in Australia, hanging out with rescue kangaroos.
3. 3 years since I published my first ever essay in Ms. Magazine. I’m proud to be the tiniest part of Ms. And I feel it’s important to highlight what George Tyndall did and how USC turned a blind eye for years. It cost them over $1 billion but I know, without a doubt, he would still be abusing patients it if was not for the brave group of women who came forward.
And here's a quick update on a few other things:
1. Some of you may know I'm involved with the Project for Advancing Health Stewardship at University of Minnesota. I've attended almost every (FREE) virtual forum over the past couple of years and I LOVE it. The community, the writing prompts, the time taken to consider the idea and potential steps forward in Healthcare Stewardship are powerful. You can sign up for the free forums, that start in June, RIGHT HERE. And the October forum will be guest facilitated by Me with a presentation by my good friend and brilliant thinker, Kim Rowe. Come check us out!
2. #90 of Where I’m From this Tuesday! I continue to be both impressed and grateful for each and every guest. Since my last newsletter I've heard poems and been in conversation with:
#81 Jess Davies
#82 Lisa Rayne
#83 Elise McCall
#84 Heidi Barr
#85 Sara Blair
#86 Maud Newton
#87 Jo-Ann S. Finkelstein
#88 Dan Brazier
3. Femme On, lots of great episodes! I love being in conversation with so many awesome people, including:
Dr. Ingrid Clayton, Amy Bobeda, Ivana Shein and Kim Rowe.
4. What I’m Reading
Wow, so many excellent books, that continue to expand my understanding of the world and myself.
Thanks to my friend A.R. Farina for recommending, Sensitive: The Hidden Power of the Highly Sensitive Person in a Loud, Fast, Too-Much World by Jenn Granneman and Andre Sólo
There’s a reason I cry all of the time. And they wrote a book about it.
(Special shout to A.R., who's YA Jane Austen retell Welcome to Mansfield comes out Monday, congrats!)
And here’s one that I want to talk about with everyone I know, because so MANY reasons. If you’ve read it, let’s CHAT.
Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma by Claire Dederer
5, What I’m Thinking About: SUCCESS
What goal are you trying to reach? Creatively? Personally?
What is it? And what does it mean to you? I just recorded an episode of Femme On Creatives with the wonderfully talented and delightful, Claire Keane. We spoke about finding our creative voices and interwoven with that is defining what success means to us. Claire said, “It comes down to how do I want to live this one life that I have?”
And I want to collaborate, tell stories, hear stories, and be a part of something that reminds me (and others if possible) we’re not alone. In my one life, I know, we are in this together.
Keep writing. Keep thinking. Keep believing in yourself. I do. Alyson
*If you know someone who you think might be interested in my newsletter, please forward it, I'd love that!
Happy April! I hope that the weather where you are is settling down. Here in Southern California we appear to be on the other side of the torrential rain (now called atmospheric rivers, apparently we had 12 this year) and now I am delighting in abundant wildflowers. I never tire of pointing out wildflowers and stopping and looking at them and I appreciate everyone in my life that humors my relentless enthusiasm.
April is National Poetry Month, JOY!
And over the last 18 months, the power of poetry has roared back into my life first through George Ella Lyon's poem, "Where I'm From" and then through the associated prompts by Fred First and the ongoing IG live weekly series. Here are a few collages with childhood pictures from a sampling of the participants (I really never tire of seeing childhood photos).
Last week my 80th guest joined me! It's astonishing. And wonderful. Making time each week, sometimes twice a week, to listen to another's words has changed my writing and I think, my life. And this series and my rekindled love for poetry goes beyond "Where I'm From." I am revisiting poetry I loved in my teens and early twenties (mostly Sylvia Plath) and finding new poetry to love now
Some of my current faves are National Poet Laureate Ada Limón and Ross Gay, champion of joy and delight.
You can find a list of every single one of the 80 participants and links to the IG lives HERE. All of the videos are also on YouTube, find them HERE.
My podcast, Fine Cut and the whole Femme On family is rolling along with new content being released twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A like, a listen, a follow and/or a review are powerful things for a little podcast like ours.
You can find links to each of my Fine Cut episodes HERE.
There are awesome chats with Elise McCall, Jen Prince, Anjali Bhimani, Ria Carrogan and Ellen Birkett Morris. Along with a very special conversation with Academy Award nominated creator and writer of "My Year of Dicks" Pamela Ribon.
For the first time this year I took part in March Fadness, an online music writing contest with brackets and competition inspired by NCAA March Madness. This year's theme was 1980's One Hit Wonders and I picked "Easy Lover' by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. A song I never tire of hearing, a true BOP and a balm to my soul during a very difficult time. You can read my essay HERE.
And here's a bonus super 80's pic of me and a friend, YAY!
What have you been reading and watching?
We've watched The Last of Us and we talked about the Women of the Last of Us for Femme on TV, listen HERE.
And we're rewatching The Office cause, as always, I love to laugh.
I read so many wonderful books, recently these two really hit me:
A Woman's Story by Annie Ernaux
Like so many people I became interested in Ernaux after she won the Nobel Prize and this book is such a powerful meditation on grief and the death of Ernaux's mother. She examines and explores the question, "What makes a life?"
Sam by Allegra Goodman
Sam is a book about life and many things that all of us go through; going to school, falling in love, finding hobbies, fighting with our families and searching for ourselves. It is also a book about growing up with an addict in your family, something many of us can relate to. And I thought it was handled so deftly and with such care. I couldn't put it down.
I'll leave you with a picture of a future Monarch butterfly and some Instagram wisdom from writer and actor Will Reynolds that lifted me up:
"My definition of an artist? An artist processes their lived experience in public so that others may process their lived experience in private. Art is ALWAYS an act of service."
So if you're feeling like your art or self-expression doesn't matter - IT DOES.
Thanks for reading and being in my life, I appreciate you! Alyson
Actually, happy almost February!
Feeling grateful for all the natural beauty I've witnessed these past months. Here are Cody and I enjoying a stunning American Thanksgiving in Vancouver. Lucky us!
And I'm feeling grateful for all the creative collaborations in my life.
1. Fine Cut with Alyson
I've had the great fortune of becoming friends with and guesting on many podcasts with the Comics in Motion Network, in particular with Femme on Film and Ria Carrogan. When she approached me and three other incredible women, Tonya Todd, Jess Davies and Ada McCartney about expanding Femme On into a larger podcasting collective I said "yes" before I really knew what we were creating, because I was that excited about creating something with these women.
Femme On launched at the beginning of the year and it offers a little bit of everything. My show, Fine Cut, keeps it brief and meaningful with episodes around 20 minutes long. A guest and I closely read a scene of the guest's choosing from movies, TV, comic books, novels, any media really as a way to have a deeper conversion about a topic that's meaningful to them.
If you have a moment to listen, fantastic, it's available wherever you find your podcast and if you're so inclined subscribe, rate and review the podcast too. It really helps!
There is No Escape at Voices of Addiction at The Rumpus
When I first became aware of the Voices on Addiction column at The Rumpus I dreamed of being a part of it and now I am with a piece of writing of which I am extremely proud.
How to Hold Love at Pithead Chapel
I haven't written much about Cody and I did with this essay. I love the guy a lot.
The Bible at The Keepthings
Love being a part of this incredible Instagram account, the Keepthings with a story about my relationship with Cody's Grammie and one of the many keepthings she left behind.
3. Where I'm From
I'm recording #70 this week, exciting! I have so many incredible writers scheduled to join me in 2023. And the series continues to be such a source of joy and inspiration for me. Please join us sometime or watch the replays on Instagram or YouTube.
4. What I'm Watching and Reading
Slow Horses on Apple+
I'm mildly obsessed, it's espionage annnd what happens to them when they go home. They're fallible and complicated and hilarious. One of the actors, Saskia Reeves, described it as "James Bond with farts." Which is not wrong but it's even more than that, highly recommend.
Inciting Joy: Essays by Ross Gay
If you're feeling like joy is a waste of time (it's not!) read this book. Here is a quote I love, "What does joy incite? - I should say, I have a hunch, and it's why I think discussion of joy is so important. My hunch is that joy is an ember for or precursor to wild and unpredictable and transgressive and unboundaried solidarity. And that solidarity might incite further joy. And so on and on." Read the book for more.
5. Words of inspiration
Last month, I was feeling down about my writing, one of those, "who cares, what's the point, etc." It happens and after sitting with it for some time I made a brave and new choice, I reached out to someone I like and deeply respect and she wrote back,
"In times of Great Doubt these words of Nikky Finney really helped me. They still do.
'You must be taken with yourself to do anything well in this life. Anything...I'm talking about looking yourself in the mirror and understanding that you have come here to do something...To be taken with yourself is to say: I have come to do this. I am here to do this well.'
That she took the time to write me back and show her support and solidarity means the world to me. And now these words live in me.
I hope these words offer you some solace when you are struggling.
Let's tell our stories, we can do this. Alyson
Happy November to all!
We have hit that time of year, where I just hold onto the pommel of my metaphorical saddle and hang on. Life is busy! It is a wonderful thing to be out seeing people, traveling and having fun, yes, and I need a nap. More than one nap.
Here's what's happening here:
1. Where I'm From
At the end of August I had the joy of interviewing and listening to the poetry of George Ella Lyon, the writer of the original "Where I'm From" poem and poet laureate of Kentucky. In all of my interactions with George Ella, she has impressed me with her generosity and brilliance, this conversation is no different. Give it a listen HERE, if you haven't already, if only to be reminded that poetry belongs to all of us.
The "Where I'm From" series is up to #58 and there are many, many more to come. Please reach out if you are interested in joining me, the invitation is always open.
Accomplished writer, editor and journalist, Andrea A. Firth reached out to interview me about the "Where I'm From'' series for the Brevity Blog. Big thanks to Andrea for reaching out and asking such wonderful questions. I enjoyed our conversation and the opportunity to reflect on what drew me to this exercise at the beginning and why I find it so compelling today.
Read the interview HERE.
Speaking of Brevity Blog, they also published a craft piece I wrote entitled, "The Sanctity of the First Read" inspired by my passionate feelings about holding our work close, guarding our words and our voices, until we are truly ready to share them.
Read the full piece HERE
And, after chatting a bit about sex scenes in movies on the podcast, Femme on Film: Hearts & Vaginas (can you really beat that title? The answer is no. Listen HERE) I wrote about them for the premiere issue of Alice Says Go F**k Yourself (another kickass title!), you can read about some of my favorite sex scenes HERE.
3. REBURN store is open!
Issues #1 - #4 print and digital copies are available on our website. We think Reburn would an incredibly awesome holiday gift for the feminist you love or like or admire or just want to give a gift. In case you missed it, it's an all-female creative team. We're deeply proud of the book and grateful for all of your support - we couldn't have done it without you!
Speaking of, Reburn artist Elise McCall and I had the immense privilege of sitting down to chat with Mike Burton of Genuine Chit Chat to discuss our collaboration and all the many things we loved about creating and telling the story of the first arc of Reburn. Listen HERE.
4. What I'm Reading
What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
Foo writes about her childhood trauma, which was horrific, but the vast majority of the book is about her healing process and finding hope. She writes about what she lived through so we can understand where she came from and how intimidating and overwhelming it can feel, at times, to face down trauma and work through it. And to understand the temptation to engage in palliative care versus curative care, it feels easier but in the end curative care is necessary if we really want to heal. I can't recommend this book highly enough for survivors of complex trauma. An always needed reminder that we're not alone.
Acceptance: A Memoir by Emi Nietfeld
This memoir follows Nietfeld and her journey from foster youth to a full ride at Harvard and how incredibly complex a journey like that is. It's also about the role of victimhood. And how Nietfield learns, and how each of us do too, that certain types of victimhood are more "acceptable" than others. Powerful.
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline BoulleyThe book is an engrossing, thought provoking and fun page turner that happens to be YA. In the afterword, the author, Angeline Boulley, writes about wanting to create an indigenous Nancy Drew. I did not make that connection while reading the book and yes, the main character Daunis is an incredible detective full of knowledge, tenacity and love. She is also way more complicated and fascinating to me than Nancy Drew, but it did make me smile to imagine girls picking up this book and devouring it the way I did Nancy Drew and "The Sign of the Twisted Candles."
5. One Last Thing
As many of you know, Banned Books are some of my favorite books to read and Banned Books Week happened in September. Super supportive and coincidentally the hardest working person I know, Tonya Todd, hosted a Banned Books Podcast and asked me to join her! So grateful to take part in a wonderful conversation about one of my favorite books, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. If you read one book, read this one. See us chatting below and listen to our conversation HERE.
've had the extreme good fortune of collaborating with and being in conversation with so many joyously talented and amazing people. I cannot mention all of you here, but please know, I am filled with gratitude and wonder that this is my life and thank you for being a part of it.
I hope this coming season brings you abundant delights, connection to the ones you love and the natural world.
*For more info, follow me on Instagram @byalysonshelton
Also, please forward this to your favorite poetry loving pal. We are legion.
I hope everyone is staying safe and cool (ish). I know that the world is full of challenges right now, and always, and I truly thank everyone who reads this newsletter, backed Reburn, watched a Where I'm From, said something kind to me or anyone else in their lives and/or continues to life with joy.
That's revolutionary. Keep going.
1. REBURN Issues #3 + #4 - Digital and Print Copies are in the world!
They look amazing and you can still order.* Just reply to this email with what you'd like, you can see options HERE.
*For example it's $20 total for print copies of issues #3+#4 or $10 for digital #1-#4. I can create a Square invoice for you and ship them out, let me know. The more, the merrier!
2. Where I'm From Poems
WOW! We're still going strong with Where I'm From poems. Yesterday was #40 and I try to do one a week and I'm scheduled until the first week of January. It's thrilling!
Also, we switched to childhood pics and I have to say, they make me smile every SINGLE week!
I wrote a piece of the Project for Advanced Health Stewardship blog about the how and the why of Where I'm From, you can read it HERE.
If you're not on Instagram you can view all of the playbacks on my YouTube Channel. Link HERE.
I also link and and list the poems on my website, HERE.
If you're interested in participating, let me know. I'd LOVE it!
3. What I'm Reading
Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory by Sarah Polley
I loved this collection of essays. One of the most spot on, nuanced and validating essays I've ever read about trauma and how it effects our lives and memories.
The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Megan O'Rourke
An incredibly engaging and educational book about O'Rourke's life lived with chronic illness, right at the edge of medical knowledge and practice. I know so many people, mostly women, who exist in this daily struggle and it gave me renewed compassion and appreciation for their fortitude and perseverance.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
I've never been to Ireland, though I do hope to go someday. My paternal great grandparents emigrated to the United States, like many others did, more than a century ago. I believe we carry our ancestors with us. In the past couple of years, I've taken more time to connect with this idea and with where I come from, literally, and this book transported me to a time and place with those who came before me.
4. Getting out of Town
We did it! We had to reschedule our trip twice, but the third time was indeed the charm. We went to San Francisco and it was non-stop fun. Truly. Our family of four walked 8-10 miles everyday, amongst redwoods, in the fog, at Land's End, on our way to the Cable Cars and laps around Westfield San Francisco Centre and Golden Gate Park. We were humbled by the city's beauty and the kindness of every person we interacted with. LOVED IT!
Well, wow, my last newsletter talked about my hopes for 2022, a break from the constant barrage of challenges, and that hasn't panned out. The challenges continue and my need and desire to collaborate, learn, get out in nature and create community are the things that keep me not only going, but functioning and looking forward to tomorrow (most days). What works for you? Email me and let me know.
Here's what I've been up to the last couple of months:
Issues #3 and #4, which complete the first narrative arc, are finished! And they are awesome! We will be sharing both in our next Kickstarter that launches in a week, Thursday, March 24th. Follow the campaign with this PREVIEW link.
Following the campaign through the preview link, helps out the campaign and algorithms and the mysteries of Kickstarter. Plus it will let you know the moment our campaign launches (9AM PST Thursday, March 24th).
Issue #3 dives deep into Skye's backstory and his life in The Citadel. There are reveals and twists, of course! And we get to meet Hope and learn more about how things work in The Unity. In Issues #3 and #4 the art by Elise McCall, colors by Hilary Jenkins and letters, by Joamette Gil are the best yet, for reals.
ALSO, we have a variant cover by Eisner award winner, Abigail Larson. EPIC.
Issue #4 wraps up the arc and features that most incredible double page spread. I LOVE IT (and not just cause I wrote it). It might be my favorite thing yet, which is really saying something.
If you can't tell, we're very excited and hope you will take a moment to follow the campaign HERE and if you're able, back the campaign, at any level. Every backer counts!
2. Where I'm From
We're still doing weekly IG Lives of Where I'm From, next week is #22! It's been a real source of joy for me listening to each unique and powerful poem and getting to know people I've met through social media better and reconnecting with old friends.
Please join me. REALLY.
I believe each of us has a story to tell and I'd love to hear yours! DM or email me for the prompts.
3. Daily Delights
I'm still doing those too! I've received 46 delights and when I receive the 50th one that lucky person will receive their own copy of Ross Gay's The Book of Delights (my inspiration for sharing a delight every day for 2022). BE #50 - DM me or email me your delight, please.
Here's one of mine:
4. What I'm Watching
When I am feeling lost or full of despair I find brilliant minds who have been asking the big questions extremely helpful. Angela Davis is one of those people.
At the end of The History you Weren't Taught in School: Black History, Black Freedom and Black Love (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) the director, asks Angela Davis "What next? What can we do?" And she says there isn't one answer, we each do what we can, what comes most naturally to us and then this quote,
"Our goal is to recreate hope in generation after generation after generation."
Hope is a revolutionary act.
Believing that things can and will get better is a revolutionary act.
Acting as if things will get better and that we are an essential part of that change is a revolutionary act.
When she said these words, I cried, because sometimes hope feels futile or naive or stupid. And that's when they win.
So let's keep hoping. Together.
5. Reaching Out
Yesterday I had the particular joy of texting with a 6 year old.
If texting emojis and telling someone they are wonderful is a job, I think I would excel at it. As far as I know, it's not, but if YOU need someone to tell you how wonderful you are. Or that you should believe in yourself. Or that you should take a nap, I'm your person!
You are wonderful. You most definitely should believe in yourself (and believe yourself) and go take a nap, you earned it.
Wishing everyone hope and joy, they can be hard to come by but they are what keep us going and more importantly, asking questions and demanding better.
Instagram and Twitter: @byalysonshelton
* I am one thousand times better at Instagram.
Welcome to the close of 2021!
It wasn't an easy year, but amidst the poop storm there were moments to treasure. Seeing family and friends, getting vaccinated and having the kids in physical school again, simple things that took on a whole new level of meaning.
More than anything this year reminded me of how important it is to lean into joy. Here's some things that have brought me considerable joy and I'm proud of them too.
1. My Partnership with Cody
I don't talk about it that much because, yes, it's private, sure, but it's more that I feel this pressure not to be defined by my relationship. And yet, I love him, we've built a life together and our relationship has changed my damn life.
2. My family (pictured here climbing a mountain)
Being together 24/7 for months, not easy, but possible because they happen to be my favorite people.
I love listening to people’s stories (and reading them too). One of the blessings of 2021 was taking part in the Project for Advancing Health Stewardship through the University of Minnesota, led by Jeannine Ouelettte. In the workshop we each completed our own Where I’m From Poem inspired by George Ella Lyon. I enjoyed the process of creating my own poem, but even more I loved listening to the poems of the other participants. Taking that kernel and running with it, for the past few months I’ve been hosting a weekly IG Live (you can follow me on Instagram HERE) where a participant shares their Where I’m From poem and we’ll chat for about 15 minutes or so. I’ve done 9 so far and the 10th is on Monday @9AM/NOON EST with Elizabeth Heise.
PLEASE join me! SHARE your poem!
You do not need to consider yourself a writer to participate. I firmly believe each of us has a story to tell and that sharing it is powerful. Plus its frikkin’ awesome! If you’re interested in participating - email (or DM) me and let me know. I can send you the prompts. You can join me on IG Live or we can record on Zoom (and I’ll post to IG Live) or you can just write it and let it be. Up to you.
Thank you for your support of the Kickstarters from Issues #1 and #2. We are incredibly proud of the work and we so look forward to sharing Issues #3 and #4 with you in 2022! I am deeply grateful to my business partner, Jessica Petelle for her determination, vision and friendship.
One more in under the wire for 2021, The Boys in this month’s issue of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes, the sibling issue. As anyone who knows me would attest, I have a few things to say about siblings and I love this essay.
I read a lot. It's an escape. It's an education.
I just finished reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, Seek You: A Journey through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke and Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal by Amy Krause Rosenthal (AKR). It was a serendipitous trio of books to read together. The experience braided many of the things that have been on my mind of late and brought clarity to those very same thoughts.
I can (and will!) do little things and, yes, all those little things may add up to something larger, which is cool, but not the point. All those small steps forward, the small gestures, connections or actions, they give my life meaning, every day.
I can (and will!) pursue joy, even if what I'm doing makes sense to no one but me.
Delight is contagious, yes, and loneliness is contagious too.
And the longing to connect is real, for all of us.
AKR connected with her audience in a myriad of ways and I’d like to do every single social experiment AKR did (and I'm definitely doing some) from Textbook by AKR but I’ll begin here...
I’m planning/hoping to write a daily delight, inspired by Ross Gay, every day in 2022. Strangely I’m not a huge New Year’s resolution person but I do LOVE a good habit, so I’ll give this a try. I’ll post it on social media, if it doesn’t feel too utterly vulnerable but I have a feeling that being publicly vulnerable in delight is a worthwhile endeavor.
I’d LOVE ( LOVE, LOVE) it if you'd share a delight with me either through email or DM. Daily, Weekly, one time, whatever.
And the 50th DELIGHT I receive, I’ll send that person a copy of The Book of Delights. If it takes 50 days of the same delightful person, I will be thrilled to send them a book in February. If it's sooner (or later), that’s lovely too.
7. All of you
Reading Raptke’s book I thought of the last time I was truly lonely. It's been awhile and I am grateful for all the relationships in my life that make me feel seen, appreciated and loved.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
See you in 2022!
P.S. And don't forget to send me your DELIGHTS!!
And it would be especially delightful if you forwarded this email to a friend, thanks!
So thrilled to share my piece, Outrageously Perfect, ran in the print edition of The New York Times yesterday and the online edition of Tiny Love in The New York Times, last week. CLICK HERE.
Annnnd, it was Halloween! And we love to dress up!
I started out a reluctant crafter but I have to say there's something very satisfying about bringing your kid's LUSH Bath Bomb dreams to reality.
REBURN Digital Issue #2 and Process Packet are out in the world! If you haven't received yours, please let me know
I've had the particular joy of immersing myself in writers I love this past month or so. In all the cases below, I picked up one work of theirs and then another. And then listened to a podcast. And then read an interview. Basking in their brilliance, it's a great way to spend some hours.
Wishing everyone a joyous Autumn!
Writer, reader, lover and fighter. Read a far more detailed bio on my About Page.