The Friday Five: Encouragement.

Truth: I always have a hard time coming up with a title for these posts, other than "The Friday Five" - I want to set them apart from each other, since of course, each week is different. But of course, items/happenings within the Friday Five are different from each other, so I sometimes get frustrated trying to come up with an all-encompassing title or theme. (I could just list them all in the headline, but then you wouldn't read the post, would you?)

Anyway, if I had to choose a theme for this week's F5, it would be encouragement. Encouraging weather, encouraging books, encouraging stories, encouraging people. Saving my life this week:

1. Warm weather. I'm starting to pull out my spring wardrobe and it's (*sings in Parks & Rec Jean-Ralphio voice*) the BESSSSSSSST. Spring just makes everything about life better.

2. Social media-less Sunday. I wrote about this earlier in the week, but have to state again that it was lovely. Let's see if it can happen again this weekend.

3. Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. Dani spoke at our Goddard College MFA summer residency last year, and I so enjoyed her. At the time, I was a little too caught up in my required reading to grab Still Writing, but boy am I loving it now. If you're a writer of any kind - and I mean even if you just journal or scribble or write really long Facebook posts - you should pick it up.

4. A writer-to-writer phone call. My friend Andrew called me up the other day so we could talk about my memoir manuscript that he's just finished reading. I met Andrew and his awesome wife seven (!) years ago when I interned at a marvelous church in Virginia. It changed my life in a lot of ways, and one has been the joy of continuing relationships that I first started to build in 2009. Since then, Andrew's become the pastor of a church and has published several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Check out his blog! Anyway, it was great to catch up and to bat around ideas on how to move forward in revising my manuscript and making it as rich as possible, for future readers and myself. Thanks, Andrew, for giving your time and energy to helping me on the journey.

5. Dinner with family and friends. My dad's best friend and his wife came into town yesterday and we all gathered around the table for takeouts of Community's finest - an aptly named bbq joint for the occasion - to laugh and reconnect and hear stories about the early years of their friendship. Top it all off with homemade banana pudding, and it did not take long to fall asleep last night.

Honorable mentions: Dinners with Sean, the Downton Abbey finale (so encouraging I half-expected/longed for Sybil to walk through the door at any moment), fun and laughter with coworkers, and the Game of Thrones season six trailer (kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of encouragement, except for the fact that it's starting soon and we'll get to see what happens! April 24, get here quick please.)

What sparks of light and encouragement have stood out for you this week?