May 2023 goals

2 May 2023

Happy May, friends! I’m hoping you might be willing to help me with something as we open up a new month: I have reserved a space on Substack and would love your thoughts on how I might best put it to use.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Substack is a “subscription network” for creators – mainly writers – to share their work. “While social networks are associated with advertising and attention,” the founders write, “subscription networks are about direct payments and trust. While social networks facilitate shallow connections, subscription networks foster deep relationships.”

Here’s a bit more:

Heady stuff, and right up my alley :) As a writer, Substack seems like a natural place for me to have a presence, especially as it becomes less appealing to spend time on social media and writing is my preferred mode of sharing, anyway. Many writers whose work and perspectives I appreciate, like Emily Oster, Bari Weiss, Claire Swinarski, Elizabeth Holmes, Anne Helen Peterson, and The Dispatch have already found a home here.

Colliding with these thoughts is the fact that my current newsletter platform is now charging a fee to send my “new post” newsletter. As I’ve written before, I don’t need to earn my living on Em for Marvelous, but I’d prefer to not pay for the privilege, either.

I’m not about to abandon this space, though (14 years and counting!), and Substack is not particularly well-suited to image-rich posts (as some of mine are). So: most posts will stay here, and a new newsletter will live on Substack. This will allow me to: 1) easily share new posts with you, 2) provide additional content to those who choose to support what I do here, and 3) allow us all to play with what a promising spot on the internet has to offer. I think it could be fun!

But I’d love to hear what sounds fun to you, and what might add value to your life. So, if you’d like, please consider taking a short survey on the possibilities. I look forward to hearing what you think! If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.

The only other thing of note I wanted to share as we start this month is that John and I are experimenting with a digital detox for the next few weeks! As you know, we are generally about moderation in most things, including social media and screen time, but a pastor we admire is leading his congregation through a thoughtful fast for the next four weeks and we thought we’d give it a try. Perhaps I’ll report back at the beginning of June if there’s interest :)

On my calendar this month:
— June and I have our mother-daughter sleepaway camp weekend! I am nervous but excited.
— We are also camping for one night with our church small group – we’ll be 13 adults and 11 children (!). Though we’ve camped many times with the Rays, adventuring with such a big group will be a whole new experience.
— June’s school is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week this week! We’re following the PTA’s theme days (write a note on Tuesday, wear your teacher’s favorite color on Friday, etc.) and for a bigger gift, we chose a gift card to Fleet Feet, a local store, since her teacher is an avid runner.

What I’m loving right now:
— Both of the books I’ve read by Justin Whitmel Earley have been slam dunks, so I was excited to hear about his new book, Made for People. I preordered it, which is rare for me, and am looking forward to seeing it arrive on my doorstep in August.
— I found George Packer’s Opening Argument in the April Atlantic to be thought-provoking and clarifying. “The project of the guides is utopian, but they’re a symptom of deep pessimism. They belong to a fractured culture in which symbolic gestures are preferable to concrete actions, argument is no longer desirable, each viewpoint has its own impenetrable dialect, and only the most fluent insiders possess the power to say what is real.”
— “I Thank God” by Maverick City is a real bop. I recommend a listen first thing in the morning to start your day off right.

As a reminder, you can find allll the things I’ve loved over the last few years neatly organized right here!

What I read in April:
The Flatshare | My mom and sister both loved this book (a debut novel) and I was happy to pick it up, too! The concept is clever – two roommates who never see each other because one works a night shift, and slowly get to know each other via post-it notes and observing each other’s belongings in the apartment. The female narrator, Tiffy, never quite crystallized as a character for me, but it was a feel-good story and I’d recommend it. (The 56k+ positive reviews aren’t wrong.)
Remarkably Bright Creatures | People are rapturous about this book (also a debut novel!), so my expectations were high. I enjoyed it, but I think I’d give it 4 stars instead of 5. The characters are a little hard to love, and there was kind of an unexpected amount of swearing in it? I did enjoy how the story unfolded and overall would recommend this one, too.
Marriage Portrait | I’d give this one the highest rating of the bunch this month, though I will say it’s probably not for everyone. The writing is exquisite; description is very much emphasized over action. I loved the concept – the novel is inspired by a scrap of historical record about a young Italian duchess who dies just a year after her wedding – and was impressed by how cleverly the author fills out the scant details into a full novel. One of the best parts: the ending was satisfying and unexpected. In another interesting twist, the actual marriage portrait of the main character, whose creation is detailed in the book, is displayed at the NC Art Museum in Raleigh. I think I’m going to take a little field trip to see it on a day off this month :)
Hunt, Gather, Parent | I’m rereading this parenting book so I can finally write a post on it! It’s as good as I remembered from my 2022 read.

My reading list for 2023 is moving right along! I’ve read nine so far and am in the middle of two more.

Revisiting my April goals:
Organize our master bath cabinets
Paint our master bath cabinets (I decided to table this one until June, as it’s a hands-on project I can tackle once summer break hits and June and I are hanging out more often during the day.)
Complete 2008-2009 in the EFM book
Plan well for our Asheville trip (Yes, it was wonderful! Report coming soon.)
Send invites for the book swap
Finish the Best of EFM page
Film Annie in April

May goals:
— Edit Annie in April
— Organize our master bath cabinets
— Organize our loft
— Send invites for the book swap

As a reminder, many of these are drawn from my 2023 goals!

As I suspected, April was a doozy (so much travel!), so this month I’m re-upping on several goals that I did not complete. Looking forward to seeing what I can check off on a second pass :)

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts in the survey, friends!

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