Bandersnatch – Book Release and Guest Post

After 25 years of trying to become someone who I thought I should be,
I found myself divorced
and wondering how to regain my bearing.
Truth be told, I probably never have had my bearing.
As a child,
like many teens, I wanted to please my parents.
At college, I was learning to embrace my true self,
but surely allowed outside influence and people-pleasing
to too heavily influence the unfurling of my true self.
And then I got married.
The more time I spent in church,
the more I heard about submission, being a help-meet
and how a Proverbs 31 wife should behave.
The more I learned to die to self,
the more my “self” died.

In God’s magnificent, patient, kind, gracious way
He has slowly shown me
it is okay to be me.
In fact, He WANTS me to be me.
He created me with my unique talents, quirks and creative bent.
He gifted me with the ability to
feel empathy easily, connect with others quickly
and see spiritual truths everywhere in our physical world.
gave me my insatiable thirst to question absolutely everything
and my passion for mixing three or four or seventeen different patterns
in a single outfit, piece of artwork or design.
And He wants me to have the desires of my heart
when I’m doing my human best to align those with His desires for me.

It has been a rocky, breath-holding, white-knuckled ride
since my divorce,
but I see His hand guiding my way.

After choosing the word of the year “desire” and working my way through
Danielle LaPorte’s fabulous book Desire Map,
I now find myself working my way through another guide-book, Bandersnatch.

So, I offer to you a glimpse into Erika Morrison’s book
and a bit of her story as she guest posts today on her book release day!
(Be sure to watch the book trailer at the end. Erika has the most ….
energizing, embracing and refreshing voice … a encouraging message.)

Congratulations, Erika! Thank you for sharing here in my little corner of the world.

* * * * * * *

“In July of 2000, when my husband and I got married, I was the ripe old age of nineteen and he was a seasoned twenty-four. Six months later I found out there was a baby in my belly, not on purpose. Then shortly after, another baby got in my belly not on purpose; then even less shortly after another baby got in my belly not on purpose.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: somebody needs to check the date on her birth control! But I promise you that nothing short of a medieval chastity belt with a rusted-shut lock could keep this Fertile Myrtle from getting pregnant. I don’t even trust the vasectomy my . . . never mind, I digress.

When our last boy was born in the left leg of my husband’s pajama pants (I should probably mention I was wearing them) while we rode the elevator up to the labor and delivery floor of Yale-New Haven Hospital, I had just birthed my third baby in three years. I’ll go ahead and do the math for you. I was twenty- three years young with a three-year-old wrapped around my thighs, a sixteen-month-old in one arm, a newborn in the other, and a godforsaken look of “Help!” writ across my face.

It was about this time that, as mentioned in the previous chapter, our marriage dove headlong into mess, we lost our income for too long to hang onto our home, and we experienced religious restlessness and a whole heap of other life challenges. Those early years redefined my own terms for what it meant to be drowning in the lifeblood leaking from every pore on my body. My internal equipment just wasn’t mature and qualified enough for my external reality, a reality that was demanding more of me than I could bear

What happened to me is what some psychologists call an identity crisis, a term coined in the early 1950s by Erik Erikson to refer to a state of confusion and unhappiness over one’s sense of self. If anyone had thought to ask me “Who are you?” in my good and lucid moments—which were few and far between—I could’ve answered with just about nothing.

Erika Morrison, Bandersnatch

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt the pain of not knowing who you are or if you feel that pain right now, but what can easily happen in that place of ache is that you start looking at other people, extracting the qualities you like about them, and injecting those qualities into your person as a substitute for what you don’t understand about yourself.

This is no bueno and that was what I did. In my naivete, I saw the people around me as more inherently gifted than I was, so I decided that self-fulfillment meant adopting their God-given gifts as my own. I looked at this person’s way of socializing and that person’s version of hospitality and another person’s artistic expression and began mimicking their nuances. Before I knew any better, I had squeezed my shape into several different ill-fitting molds at once, while cramming my own personhood into a tiny, overlooked corner in the nether regions of my body.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how devastated my spirit would become under the influence of everyone else’s borrowed qualities. Other people’s gifts and character traits are designed to enhance, enrich, and complement our own, but never act as substitute for them.

A healthy sense of self-identity seemed to be a luxury I didn’t have the currency for . . .”

(Excerpt from Erika Morrison’s book, Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul.)

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

The cardinals make it look so easy. The honeybees make it look so easy. The catfish and the black crow, the dairy cow and the cactus plant, all make being created appear effortless. They arise from the earth, do their beautiful, exclusive thing and die having fulfilled their fate.

None of nature seems to struggle to know who they are or what to do with themselves.

But humanity is the exception to nature’s rule because we’re individualized within our breed. We’re told by our mamas and mentors that–like snowflakes–no two of us are the same and that we each have a special purpose and part to play within the great Body of God.

(If your mama never told you this, consider yourself informed: YOU–your original cells and skin-print, guts and ingenuity–will never ever incarnate again. Do you believe it?)

So we struggle and seek and bald our knees asking variations of discovery-type questions (Who am I? Why am I here?) and if we’re semi-smart and moderately equipped we pay attention just enough to wake up piecemeal over years to the knowledge of our vital, indigenous selves.

And yet . . . even for all our wrestling and wondering, there are certain, abundant factors stacked against our waking up. We feel and fight the low ceiling of man made definitions, systems and institutions; we fight status quo, culture conformity, herd mentalities and more often than not, “The original shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out of all our other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” ~Frederick Buechner

So, let me ask you. Do you know something–anything–of your true, original, shimmering self?

I don’t mean: Coffee Drinker, Jesus Lover, Crossfitter, Writer, Wife, Mama.

Those are your interests and investments.

Erika Morrison Bsndersnatch

I do mean: Who are you undressed and naked of the things that tell you who you are?

Who are you before you became a Jesus lover or mother or husband?

Who are you without your church, your hobbies, your performances and projects?

Erika Morrison, Bandersnatch

I’m not talking about your confidence in saying, “I am a child of God”, either. What I am asking a quarter-dozen different ways is this: within the framework of being a child of God, what part of God do you represent? Do you know where you begin and where you end? Do you know the here-to-here of your uniqueness? Do you know, as John Duns Scotus puts it, your unusual, individual “thisness”?

Bandersnatch - By Erika Morrison

I can’t resolve this question for you, I can only ask you if you’re interested.

(Are you interested . . . ?)

Without being formulaic and without offering one-size-fits-all “how-to” steps, Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul is support material for your soul odyssey; a kind of field guide designed to come alongside the moment of your unfurling.

Come with me? And I will go with you and who will care and who will lecture if you wander around a little bit every day to look for your own and only God-given glow?

If you’re interested, you can order wherever books and ebooks are sold.

Or, if you’d like to read the first three chapters and just see if Bandersnatch is something for such a time as the hour you’re in, click HERE.

All my love,


Makes Me Happy Monday : Bandersnatching

I follow Erika Morrison on Instagram. I don’t know how I found her. But, I have highly admired that she is comfortable enough in her own skin to wear her hair in a fairly unconventional cut. This drew me in … and I have loved her feed.

Yet, my favorite IG images have been those involving her children. She encourages her children to explore themselves and the world.
Click here  to see a perfect example of that parenting style in action.  She says,

“i’ll give him any haircut, hairdo or hair dye he asks me to.
i’ll hold his hand when he gets his next piercing,
because i want to be present when he’s self-exploring,
because self-exploring is best anchored in unconditional love.
and yet, it’s wisdom to tell him
to wait on getting that tattoo until his skin is done stretching:
“we wouldn’t want the depth and design to lose its integrity as you grow.”

This is how I relate to my own children. Children begin to assert their independence as soon as they have the strength to do so. An infant will turn her head away from someone in her personal bubble.  A toddler declares his dislikes with a strong “NO!” Middle schoolers become dishonest when they believe their actions will not be embraced. And high schoolers may simply rebel … and close you out.

I set boundaries for the children under my authority, but if their square corners won’t fit into my round, preconceived ideas of fashion or opinion, I have made the decision that I will allow them to make their own choices. I don’t think it is my personal job to smooth and sand their square edges into the pretty, little circles that I have fashioned.  Why would any parent want to force a child to behave in a way that the child absolutely rejects (speaking, of course, within legal and moral boundaries) ? If they cannot stretch their wings during their teen years, they will early adulthood. And by then, they will be long gone from my nest of influence. My clout will be lessened and they may stretch their boundaries much farther and wider than they would have had they had the opportunity to do a little exploring while still at home. We’ve all known the kids who left home and “went wild.” Or the children who struggled because they were “never good enough” to please their parents.

I don’t want to be that parent.

I have to admit that I’ve often looked at Erika and wondered how does she “do it?” How does she walk in her own uniqueness with such confidence? How does she so bravely wear her hair like that? And be a mom like that?  Doesn’t she … worry about rejection? How does she embrace herself?

And now I know.

Like me ….
and probably like you …
she has struggled.

And she has written a book with stories
and encouragement
to help us excavate our uniqueness
as she explores hers.

She recently mentioned that her new book will be released tomorrow
so I went to Barnes and Noble to pre-order it …
and it was already on the shelf waiting for tomorrow’s release date!
So, I bought a copy right then!!

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

You KNOW how much I love questions.
I thought I might burst wide open
right there in the parking lot as I peeked at the introduction!
With line upon line of poetic prose
and probing, revealing ideas for personal examination,
my interest was stirred.

I headed home, opened the cover and began the journey.

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

I read
and I highlighted.

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

I read
and I decorated.

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

I read
and I took notes.

Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

Her questions
somehow felt like a catalyst
untangling the few remaining messy feelings that I still have about myself.
With my word of the year, “desire”
and my searching to uncover
what I really want or desire (rather than what others expect of me),
this has been a good year
for discovery.

My youngest and I sat at the table Saturday morning with coffee and pound cake
and I read several pages of Erika’s book out loud.
I found myself being asked, “So Mom, do you think
the goal in life is to find yourself
or create yourself?”
These are my favorite mornings  … the ones that involve my children
and deep conversation,
sharing opinions and ideas
investigative query
and an open back and forth of dialogue.

Erika says she wants to make the word “bandersnatch” into a verb.
I’m looking forward to reading this wonderful book
and learning
how “bandersnatching” can be a positive thing.

Bandersnatching is bringing me joy right now.
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday afternoon?

Makes Me Happy Monday : Caramel Candy Corn

Candy Corn is one of my favorite fall indulgences. I buy a bag or two every season and do my best to make sure the bag lasts at least a few days.

My treat list is fairly limited since I have a chocolate allergy. You’d be surprised, for example, how many granola bars, candy bars and trail mix flavors have chocolate in them. Until you’re searching for chocolate-free treats, you don’t realize just how common chocolate is in treats and desserts.

I know many people who dislike that seasonal items are placed in store aisles more and more early each year. I don’t mind that I can find candy corn in the Halloween candy aisle as early as the start of September!

Brach's Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn

And this year? Brach’s has brought out a new flavor : Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn. It is scrumptious, I’m telling you. It has the coffee flavor and the caramel flavor blended so deliciously perfect that every.piece of candy is a fabulous treat in your mouth!!

If you haven’t tried it yet and you’re a coffee or caramel lover, you need to buy a bag. You won’t be disappointed!

Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn makes me exuberantly happy this fabulous fall morning.
What about you? What makes YOU happy on this marvelous Monday morn?

Makes Me Happy Monday : Tiny Creatures

Potato Beetle

Isn’t there something fascinating about tiny critters?
Insects with their beautifully marked, delicate wings
and intricately adorned abdomens are enthralling to me.Praying Mantis

Mini versions of captivating creatures make them even more interesting.
Look at this gorgeous Praying Mantis! Could he possibly BE any cuter?

Green Lynx Spider hidingAnd LOOK at the hairs on the legs of this spider! Isn’t he amazing?

Gorgeous slug

Even though many people shudder at the sight of a slug,
I think they’re intriguing and charming.

I tend to prefer a macro perspective … living life looking close at the little details
of creation, artwork, food, fabric, people … and even problems.
When we look closely, we can figure out the “why” and the “how.”
When we examine closely, we can uncover design elements
and purpose for operation.
When we inspect, we can more easily detect
motive which often allows us to be more empathetic.

I love animals of all kinds,
but I especially love the tiny creatures
that creep, crawl, fly, slither and hop across this earth.

Tiny creatures make me happy today.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Makes Me Happy Monday : Starlings

One day, I hope to see a murmuration of starlings like THIS!!

But, for now … I am simply happy to come across a flock of birds
dining together,
traveling together,
perching together.

I’m not sure if these birds are starlings, grackles or black birds. 
I wasn’t close enough to be able to figure them out.
What I do know, is I love to watch flocks of birds interact with each other.

#birdsonawire Starlings

I love how they perch on wires with the majority of the birds equidistant apart.
They’re much like people, I guess.
They have a comfort bubble when it comes to personal space?

#birdsonawire Starlings

I relish spring when Robins flock together
and when Canada Geese return
flying in a V across crisp blue skies.

And I enjoy watching flocks of birds in the fall
as they rest together
in preparation for flight.

#birdsonawire Starlings

Flocks of birds
and approaching fall bring me joy
as we close out the month of August.

What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Makes Me Happy Monday : Being Remembered

I love lichen.
In fact, I have a Pinterest board (here) dedicated specifically to lichen and mushrooms.

I often wonder w.h.y I love something …
or w.h.y someone else loves something.

What is it that draws me to this? What intrigues you about that?
What makes you turn away? What rattles the cage of my soul?
And most importantly, w.h.y?

lichen on mailboxesWhen I’m out and about
hiking or camping … or just living my everyday life …
I often stop to take photos of lichen.
lichen on a mailboxBecause lichen is often found on rocks or bricks, I’ve always had in my head that it grows slowly. Maybe that’s the draw for me. I’m a slow processor, slow thinker, slow runner and slow reader. I do most things slowly. I find, if I move with too much speed, I end up making a mess …
or worse, I miss the enjoyment of doing what I’m doing
because I’m rushing to finish.
When I was young and move into “hurry-mode,” my dad would tell me “SLOW down.”
I still hear his voice when I let myself become rushed.

It seems like speed is good in emergency situations involving fire and blood,
but most other times, I choose to take the longer, more ambling rate of speed.

lichen on moss

Yet, I’m thinking my idea of “slow growth” doesn’t hold much credibility
since lichen can be found on young pinecones …
lichen on pinecones

and new branches of a tree.
lichen on limbsI do know there is credibility to the fact that lichen thrive in moisture.
Maybe that’s why I love them. My skin is so dry that I love humid weather.
Summers in the south are my favorite – yes, all the way up in the 90’s and near 100’s –
because the humidity keeps my skin happy and a little more supple.

lichen on bricks of cemetery wall on the property

My kids know me well. They know of my adoration of
rocks and trees, lichen and mushrooms.
But having someone know you isn’t quite the same as
having someone share with you that you were remembered.

Not so many months ago, Glory went over to St. Helena Island (SC) to visit a friend.
They stayed on ancient property on the edge of marsh and beach
where the wind blows salty, humid
and the trees offer songs of cicadas in the sweltering summer sun.
As she walked this property with tremendous, sturdy boughs
of behemoth muscular oaks draped in heavy Spanish moss,
she snapped a photo of the old wooden clothesline frame
that wears lichen like an antique cotton bathrobe, worn and comfortable.

Clothesline draped in lichen, St. Helena Island, SC

By the time the image loaded fully on my phone, tears had welled up in my eyes. That beautiful, sturdy center brace on the clothesline stood strong after years of weather. The rich green in the lichen dappled in sunlight said the elderly arms on these braces had held tons of clean laundry to whip dry in the brackish air.

They spoke to me
of an earlier time
when people found value in face to face conversations
on the front porch on weekend evenings
and took timely care of one another
when sickness or frailty made daily responsibilities more difficult.
They spoke to me of being known throughout the county
because people built a life and constructed a home
and stayed in one place for decades.

Lichen on a clothesline at St. Helena Island, SC

As much as the lichen spoke as it held onto that bare elderly wood,
the images on my screen also spoke …
of being seen, known and understood.
They said, “You are remembered.”
They said, “I know you well enough
that I am reminded of you
in my coming and my going … in my living my life.”

And being known makes me happy.
I no longer need to be understood by all …
but like most, I want to be known – to be remembered – by at least a few.

I have a goal to begin to write letters again. I used to write them often.
But, the last few years have been so absorbed
with caring for and repairing my home
and then culling and packing twenty-five years worth of life
that letter writing has taken a back-burner.
By year’s end, I hope to move back to
card stock, patterned paper and words scribed on ivory
that speak of knowing, remembering and loving. Card design credit goes to Julie Ebersole Lichen
and being remembered
make me happy today.
What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Painted Boots – I’m ready for Fall!

Back a year and a half ago when Glory was downsizing and cleaning things out, she let me pull a wallet out of her Goodwill donation pile. I wanted to try my hand at painting patterns on leather.

Click over here and you can see the finished product on my Instagram feed.

I’ve been really pleased with how well the leather has held the paint …
sooooo … I wanted to try my hand at a pair of boots.

You can click over here to see this awesome pair of boots that I picked up back a few months ago. They’re Bedstu brand so they should last forever and a day. I bought them with the intention of following through on my paint challenge.

I wanted to show you these because I’m so excited!
BedStu handpainted boots

Like most of my pattern projects, I wanted a different pattern and color combination on each area.

BedStu handpainted boots

So, colors are similar but patterns don’t repeat anywhere.

BedStu handpainted boots BedStu handpainted boots

I love the little flowers that are hiding on the boot tongue. BedStu handpainted boots - detail

I think I’ll polish them often to protect the paint. I’m hoping they’ll hold up well!

BedStu handpainted boots

I’ve  made some major wardrobe changes this year and now only wear my browns and autumn colors in the fall and winter. Finishing these boots makes me look forward to the change from my black and white summer clothes to autumn!!

BedStu handpainted boots

I used basic acrylic paint like I use on painting any canvas. I applied the paint to a clean surface. And I just free-handed the patterns as I moved around the boots.

BedStu handpainted boots

I don’t mind telling you I’m pretty excited about these!

Have you ever tried painting on leather? Do you have any suggestions to offer?

Thanks for reading!

Makes Me Happy Monday : Gifts of Encouragement

I made a young, new friend last weekend. I found myself helping clean her house as she moved things from her parent’s home to her new home. Watching her interact with her mama made me think of my relationship Glory. She was so excited to show her mom her new house with hardwood flooring and ancient lighting. She bounced from room to room. “Mom, look at this!” “Don’t you just love that!”  “This reminds me of the cabin in the mountains!!” “Look! That looks like the chandelier at grandma’s house!” Owl Mug

The house was built around the same time that our Montclair house was built. Being there made me remember how much I miss it. I miss the halls that are wide and the floors that are beautifully worn. I miss walls that can be painted and ceilings that are high. I miss the quality craftsmanship of a home built before the 70’s housing boom where quality building material and attention to detail became expendable rather than expected. Owl Mug Ann’s parents are divorcing. I saw the awkward in the family as they interacted … tense and careful.  All the children are going in different directions. Everybody is moving out at the same time as they sell the 6000 sq ft home that they shared.

And again, I thought of Glory.

The only tears that were shed when we moved from our home of ten years – the only home we owned in her life time – came from her. She was living in Dallas and came home often. In our old house, there was plenty of room for her. She brought her cat, because we had space to spare. She brought friends from time to time. There was always space for one more. I never turned down a visitor.

Things are different now. I moved into a home with two bedrooms; one for me and one for my youngest. Anybody else who sleeps here, has to sleep on the floor. If my kids get married and come from out-of-town for a visit, there will be no place for them. When there are grandchildren, there will be no welcoming spot at Grandma’s house. I have to admit that this is the hardest part of my downsize.
But, it is what I had to do …
and it is what it is.

And Glory knew this would be the case. As we spoke on the phone the day I explained that I had to move, she got still and quiet. I could hear the sniffles. I asked, “Are you okay?”  She responded, “It’s just hard … because I’ll be homeless.” I knew exactly what she meant. She was not talking about literally having no place to sleep at night that was hers. She had her own apartment in Dallas … though soon she’d be moving and she wasn’t quite sure WHERE she was going. But, just as much, she was talking about a magnet that I gave her when she moved away. It says, “Home is where your mom is.”

I would be in a place that couldn’t embrace her the way I always had. She would have no welcoming family home where everybody could gather … a place to bring friends that was spacious and welcoming.

Owl Mug

As Ann unpacked her belongings, she plopped a basket on the kitchen counter that had the cutest little owl kitchen towel and oven mitt. She mentioned that she loved owls as she hung the towel over the oven door bar and then scurried away to keep unloading.

So, when I was out shopping over the weekend for a gift for a friend, I came across this precious mug.
I threw it in my basket for Ann.

Growing up is hard work. Divorce is devastating. Moving is exhausting.
If I can spend a few dollars to bring a ray of sunshine into the life of a friend
who is going through a lot,
I want to do it.

I’ll wash and spiff this mug,
(I just had to try it out!!)
add a little cheerful tag
and leave it on her doorstep tomorrow when I am in town.

It makes me happy
and brings me great joy
to know that I can offer a little something to encourage a new friend.
What about you?  What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?
Owl Mug

Makes Me Happy Monday : Skin Comfort & Lace Socks

The first time I wore my lace socks with a dress, I was apprehensive. I knew it was a little bit out of the ordinary for a fifty year old woman … but I wanted to wear them any way.

I’ll have to admit I was a little bit uncomfortable that day …
NOT because I didn’t like the look …
but because I knew other people might not like it.

Lace socks and lace-up boots

Fast forward three years, I now have five or six different pair of lacy socks
and I wear them with my boots at least once a week.
I wear them with skirts, dresses and shorts.

And they make me so happy. My lace socks & bootsThey make me happy, in part,
because of what they represent.
They represent a sloughing away of
people pleasing. 

Sometimes I think, “Damn, this took a long time.”
I mean, uhm ….. I’m over fifty years old, for heaven’s sake!
Should it really take THIS long to get comfortable with yourself and be emotionally healthy?

We are all built different. Depending on our personality type, we struggle in different areas. I am highly empathetic, I care about other people’s feelings, motivations and desires .. and so, I care if they are mad at me, don’t like me or are hurt by me. The problem with this character trait is it causes us to put others feelings, motivations and desires above our own to a point that, we lose ourselves in trying to keep everybody around us comfortable. #disaster

Praise God, I’m not longer in an co-dependent, enabling relationship that keeps me fettered, smothered and witholding. I am learning to create healthy boundaries and not allow myself to be bullied or influenced in ways that are unhealthy for me.

"I was looking for someone to inspire me, motivate me, support me, keep me focused; someone who would effectively love me, cherish me, make me happy. Then I realized that all along I was looking for myself. ~ Alex " (Seen on @oceana_bze this morning.) Ya know, we all have a void and an emptiness that too many of us try to fill with people. We try to please our spouse, our parents, our friends, our lover, our boss, our children, our bully, our hater. But no two people have the same expectations. In pleasing people, we lose ourselves. Stop the pleasing. Look to God to fill our void and just be yourself. (You don't even have to perform to "earn" His love. He created you. He knows your messes. He loves when you're your genuine self …. and amazingly even when you wear a mask ) Be real. Be honest. Be authentic. Whoever you are, be that! Love yourself for who you were created to be RATHER THAN who you THINK someone else wants you to be. Be yourself and in doing that, you'll be grand. People that are grand are very easy to love.

A photo posted by @karen_lee_cason on

My fun lacy socks, my awesome leather boots and my learning to love myself
make me so happy today!
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?