Join me for a FB book study of Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression

Need a place with a heavy dose of real? Gillian Marchenko is a friend and a colleague, and her book Still Life is starkly honest about life grappling with depression as a wife and mom. Seriously, I love this woman and her writing so stinking much, y'all. 


Starting Monday, I’m teaming up with Gillian to lead a book study of Still Life over the course of 8 weeks. We’ll have weekly assigned reading (no more than a few short chapters!). And I've intentionally chosen shorter readings for the first couple of weeks, knowing some folks might not have the book in hand on day one!

(But order yours here so that's not you!)

(And if you already know you want to join without reading the rest of the post, here's the link for that!)

The first week we'll ease in,  but here's the plan for the next seven weeks. Every Monday and Tuesday, I’ll post some reflection questions from that week’s text. On Thursday, I’ll post one or two more personal questions related to that week’s reading, not to force vulnerability but rather to provide opportunities to examine ourselves (so it’s fine to just answer for yourself to yourself instead of answering in the comments) and to – when answers are shared with the group – provide opportunities for “me too” moments. And on Saturday, we’ll look at self care and self compassion, both in examples from the text and in some challenges for our lives.

To be clear, I'm facilitating the study and posing the questions, but I'm not posing as anyone's therapist. I'm in the thick of life and struggles like anyone else, so I'd make a crummy guide for this journey. But I can be a companion, processing through the book alongside everyone else. 

Gillian won’t be a full participant in the group, but she’ll pop in from time to time for some planned interactions with us. As her friend, I can say she's a total gem. You'll love getting to know her better, not only through the pages of her book but through the group itself.

Everyone is welcome to participate as much or as little as they’ll like. If your time or comfort level means you don’t chime in for a question, that’s okay! When life happens, I don't expect this group to be your top priority. If you skip a day or a week, you can jump back in with no judgment. I’m not grading anyone, except on a scale of grace. We’re all grown ups, so we can make the best decisions for ourselves.

Interested? Here's the link to request membership. At some point - probably after the first week - we'll close down adds, as I expect it will throw off the dynamic of the group to have more people jumping in midway through. (But y'all know I also work for Key Ministry, and we're entertaining the idea of having this become a regular thing with different books related to mental illness or disability. This group, not officially affiliated with Key Ministry, is serving as a test run, so I'll keep you posted!)

If you have any questions, shoot me a message or leave a comment. Hope you can join us!

Wellie Wishers: The new diverse American Girl doll line coming next week

Y'all know I love diversity in dolls

And y'all know we love American Girl dolls. (As well as the no-longer-in-production Hearts for Hearts Girls line.)

Well, this week a new AG line called Wellie Wishers launches, and they look a whole lot like H4H dolls. Of the five girls - Emerson, Camille, Kendall, Willa, and Ashlyn - only two are white. Kendall is black (and, squeal, actually has curly hair!). Ashlyn is a bit ethnically ambiguous but I think is meant to be Hispanic but could be Middle Eastern. Emerson is Asian (eek! dolls who look like my Zoe are the hardest to find in my experience). 

(Side note: If you see rumors about the historical dolls going away, those aren't true. Additional doll lines, like the one I'm writing about today, are additions to the line-up and have existed for more than a decade. If they were meant to erase the historical line, it would be gone by now.)

All five are friends, and their stories - which will be featured via 26 11-minute animated episodes - center around their relationships with each other as well as the individual personalities of each girl. Three books are already available to retailers, and they seem to be designed at a lower reading level to match the target age for the dolls.

These dolls are 16" - a couple inches shorter than the traditional American Girl dolls though a couple inches taller than H4H dolls - and have completely vinyl bodies. While the AG line is designed for girls ages 8 and up (though our kiddos usually get their first one in kindergarten), the Wellie Wishers are meant for younger doll lovers, ages 5-8. They each sport galoshes - or wellies, thus the name - and I suspect from their promo video and history that matching outfits for little ones will be available.

Rumor has it that they'll be around $60 each, though we'll know for sure next week. I also hear that matching girl-sized socks will come with each doll, but that's not confirmed either. I do know that accessories - like a doll house and tea set and stage and such - will be available.

And I hear the focus of the stories is a lot on walking in someone else's shoes - or, in this case, standing in another girl's wellies - which is a good lesson for all of us, I think.

For more on these dolls - available for purchase June 23 - visit American Girl.

Disclaimer: I do partner with retailers from time to time, and we did receive three Lea Clark dolls from American Girl when we were on Good Morning America on New Year's Eve, but I have received nothing for this post. I have reached out to American Girl in hopes of review samples to show more of the dolls' features, as well as requesting one for a blog giveaway, but I haven't heard back yet. Basically, I'm just a 30-something gal who is obsessed with racially diverse dolls and who uses her daughters as an excuse to write about them. (Also, all images here are from American Girl.)