Friday, January 30, 2015

sans ads: a follow up on blogging without sponsorships

Six months ago I stopped offering sponsorship opportunities on Mr. Thomas and Me. I talked about the difficulty it presented for me in writing, the way it made me busy with ads instead of post content, how I just wasn't enjoying the work it required of me. So, I did what all quitters do and stopped.

Then I shared five strategies I had to grow my blog sans ads. And, well, then I did them for five months and the blog grew. But then in the last thirty days I incorporated a few new things and seen success. And in our successes, we shall share, yes?

1. TWITTER CHATS 
Seriously, I participate in two: #fireworkpeople (Tuesday at 9:00pm EST) and #TheWriteParty (Thursday at 7:00pm EST). Being active in these has made me plethora of new friends (and readers) while bonding over similar interests. I know there are dozens of chats that go down each evening, but look for ones that are specific to your interests (especially if you blog about it) and connect!

2. EMAIL. 
I know, simple right. But email other bloggers and tell them that their most recent post hit home for you, or how much you love their new puppy, or with an answer to a question they might have asked recently. Sending that simple email mentioning your favorite brand of leggings after they've mentioned needing a change, shows that you care, that you're paying attention to their content, and opens a new line of communication that often flourishes.

3. LOOSE CONTENT CALENDARS
Editorial schedules are cool and good. In fact, I love good organization. However, they can douse the creative spirit within your soul. Instead of making a strict schedule of what to write when, spend time realizing the posts that were your favorite to pull together. When you know what those are, be honest about how often you could create one. If it's once a week, then plug it in. If it's twice a month, schedule it. That way you have a loose pattern of post schedules for when life gets busy or when you're longing to get ahead of the game.

4. BE GENUINE. 
Niches are cool and awesome and good, until you have to determine which one you fit in and you realize there's no one title that's just right for your blog. Instead of being set on a specific niche, focus on being genuine in your writing and your online interaction. Sometimes what you write isn't going to gather lots of attention, but you'll enjoy making it and isn't that why you started at this blogging thing?

5. LOVE WHAT YOU DO. 
Don't start a series that you aren't truly passionate about. Don't continue a series that is stressing you out and blowing all the fun. Don't worry if your latest list of post ideas are outside of the realm of your labels. Write what you love, because that love and enjoyment will shine through and people are attracted to happiness and passion.

And, before I go, three blogs that are doing blogging right, that make me realize the beauty of this craft and the importance of our stories:

1. ALL THINGS E 
Erika was one of those bloggers I randomly emailed to say, "I like you." And then it turned into more emails full of random conversations and sometimes bearing hearts to one another. Her blog radiates authenticity, something I genuinely devour.

2. AWASH WITH WONDER
Shannon writes beautifully. Like, no words can be more wonderfully composed than hers. And you'll get lost in the way her mind works because it too is beautiful. (Can you hear my woman crush seeping out of ears?)
 
3. BLOTS & PLOTS
I met Jenny through a #NaNoWriMo Twitter group where we'd sprint together. We quickly shared our intense love for flannel pajamas and wine. And then I started reading her blog and I just haven't stopped. Her lists and encouragements are divine and I just have a thing for the way her mind works. You will too, I promise.

The moral of the story: blogging is about authenticity. People want to see YOU there in your words, your recipes, your photos. They're invested in the YOU part of the blog. Don't underestimate the great story that is YOURS.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

winter cold and writing chills


The dark evening and mornings of winter are hard on me. Hard because there's a chill in the air and all I want is to wear flannel pajamas and fluffy slippers and lay under the soft pressure of my down comforter. Alas, life does not stop in winter, so I must drag myself out of bed, into the cold, crisp air, pretending I don't mind the coolness of the world. 

And so it is the same with writing lately. 

Sitting and working through the 50,000 words that came from #NaNoWriMo wrapped in my coziest flannels and a warm blanket while sipping on my second mug of morning coffee, I find comfort. There is comfort in the safety of my dream, knowing the words are powerful, feeling proud of the work at hand, cozy in the process of it all. A comfort that is only so, until I must drag myself out of the comfort of solitary work and share. Until I open the door for the chill of an opinion in to shake my approval seeking soul. 

I sent my first two chapters to my mom this weekend. We were on our long weekend run and she offered to read. I'm a good reader, she said. And that, I knew. I was shy, said yes and made excuses about lack of context, messy tense, run-on sentences and poor work choice. She was gracious, as always, and let the offer stand in a future place. 

The more I considered her offer, the colder the outside chill of opinion seemed. I knew the door needed to be opened, the comfort at the wayside, the refinement starting now -quick and abrupt like removing a bandaid. And, quite honestly, who better to read the barest of words than the woman who birthed me? She seemed to be the best to be the first, like she'd be kind, she knew creation, she wouldn't tear me to shreds. 

So, I threw off the covers of solitude and sent her chapters one and two with all the nerves in the land.

Two hours later she gave me some feedback while I was in the dredges of another chapter of edits. And the chill creeped in, like fog over the hills. I questioned my purpose, my words, the depth of my message. I sat frustrated in all the handwritten notes and word corrections I'd made in the last half hour. I wanted to give up, to crawl back to my comfortable space. 

"There's promise there most certainly."

It was a simple text flashing across the screen of my phone. A confident encouragement. It ignited my hands and made me unafraid of the mess. It was the vote of confidence I craved. Because a kind word is like flannel for our comfort-seeking souls. 

For the writer, the blogger, the reader, the wife. For the hostess, the manager, the part planner, the stay at home mom. We need kind words to remind us, to bolster us up, to bring out the warmth despite a cold winter storm.

Monday, January 26, 2015

super easy, one pot ramen

As kids my brother and I would eat raw ramen noodles. Sometimes, when we were being extra wild, we'd tear open the dried flavor packets and sprinkle it over the uncooked noodles. When we were sick my mom would cook the noodles and serve them to us, always tasting significantly better than when they were raw and making whatever sickness might be effecting us feel not so mean.

Ramen -the $.25 packet that college kids are known for buying- was the first "meal" I learned to cook all by myself. And then was a staple in college only traded out for spicy flavor Cup O Noodles. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was cruising Pinterest and found that ramen is now a hot trend of winter soup-carby-goodness. I could hear the six-year-old girl excitedly breaking the dried square of pasta in between my palms.

So I did as any sane, overly excited six-year-old-in-a-twenty-five-year-old's-bodied person would do, and made some. But none of the recipes were just how I wanted them, so I invented my own. Let me tell you, this is simple and easy and will make the insides of your stomach so incredibly happy like they just got a hug from a fluffy panda bear (like this one who loved snow for the first time).

If you're one of those people who loves all the directions and measures all the time, I'm never going to be a recipe creator for you... Especially today because ramen is all about doing it how you like it. Very Burger King a la Have it Your Way.

Do yourself a favor already and get on this. The hardest part is waiting until the soup cools off enough not to blister the top of your mouth.

Ingredients
Time: A half hour, tops   
Serves: 2 (sturdy servings, no skimping with ramen)

  • two hard-boiled eggs (if you don't know how, here's some directions) 
  • two packages of ramen noodles (just like the Top Ramen brand) 
  • two carrots, diced
  • two chicken breasts (mine were frozen and all went well) 
  • one head of bok choy
  • soy sauce, just a splash or two 
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 squeeze or dash or spoonful of ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced or sliced (however you prefer)
  • pepper
FREEDOM TO SUBSTITUTE: 

If you're not interested in carrots or have a preference for mushrooms, switch it up. The best part about ramen is you can put anything in that broth and it just makes sense -unlike wearing black pants and a navy blue shirt like Jason sometimes tries to make trendy.

Instructions
  1. Combine chicken stock, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce in (larger than you think you'll need) pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add chicken (raw or frozen) into boiling broth. 
  3. Let chicken cook for five to seven minutes. Remove from heat and shred with two forks. 
  4. Add chicken back to pot with noodles (that you've broken up into smaller pieces from that odd brick shape they come in). 
  5. Let noodles cook for time suggested on package (usually two to three minutes). 
  6. Add carrots and sliced bok choy. 
  7. Cover with lid for two to three minutes. 
  8. Stir together and serve in bowls. 
  9. Add hard-boiled egg to bowls of ramen.
IF YOU LIKE SPICY, drizzle your bowl with sriracha like all the spicy lovers do.  


Thursday, January 22, 2015

the letter link-up: on refreshment

Welcome to you, to you and to your words today. It's the first rendition of The Letter Link-Up and we're glad to have you. 
The Letter Link-up | Mr. Thomas & Me

This letter is part of The Letter Link-Up. They are written to remember mundane moments that would otherwise slip away, to hold tight to him, and to remember how life looks right now at this very moment with the chance to shed light on your heart. 

While I am spending my letters documenting moments within our marriage before children for our children because they won't know us without them, but you are allowed to write your letter to anyone, on anything with the prompt being simply a starting point. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear Jason,

We've had odd weather this year. Weather marked by weekly rains and bone deep coldness. We've sat at dinner and remarked on how thankful we are for flannels and heaters and living in California where it really isn't that cold. 

And then I wonder, when did we start talking about weather? Because we all know it's either an awkward cocktail party or a dried up marriage that leads to commenting on the forecast and it's implications for the next for days. 

But then, the weather did the greatest of things: it brought snow. In the middle of the night, so early on the morning of December 31, 2014, I woke you so we could admire the white blanket outside together. You were groggy with the fog of sleep still thick on your soul and I was ecstatic to be rewarded with a white landscape after spending hours of my night waking instead of sleeping.

It was New Year's Eve. We knew the engagement was coming. The sparkly ring sat beautifully patient for weeks before the set day. And then snow fell. And he bended his knee into the smallest of snow drifts as flakes flurried around them. 

And we all celebrated old love made new as it was covered in a million unique flakes and in a diamond ring. You were thrilled because you love him like your own brother, because you love her and her addition to the family, because you are the penultimate of wedding goers. 

Standing outside the best breakfast joint in town, listening to your enthusiasm about their upcoming nuptials, I saw my groom there. I saw you as I did three years and three months ago, as a groom relived from planning, washed over in Hawaiian sun and wedded bliss. And I took it all in again, the ring, the engagement, the wedding, the honeymoon, the first fight, the first Christmas, the anniversaries, the dog, the vacations, the house. 

Like our California town covered in white snow, our marriage was magical all over again. 

Thankful always to be drinking life in with you, 
am
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And now, your turn:


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For February, the link-up date is Monday, February 23rd. 
And the topic: On dates and the Like. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

For When Bible Study is Hard

Over the month of December my thriving practice of bible study absolutely disappeared. I can find many things to blame it on: lack of routine, subpar Advent study guide, emotional overwhelm at this time of year. I can find so many excuses.

But the truth is: I just didn't feel like it. I just didn't feel like putting in the time, writing in my journal, and all the accompanying things.

Then the New Year was coming, a year I'd dedicated to reading the Psalms and I still had no desire. With January 1st encroaching, it became obvious I needed to figure something, anything out to revamp my time with Him.

1. CHANGE YOUR GOALS. 
Instead of making it about time or how many words you read, focus on reading. There is truth all over the bible -even in just one verse.

2. GRAB A SMALLER JOURNAL. 
I have always done my journaling in an 8 1/2" by 11" college-ruled notebook and liked to have at least a page done to feel accomplished in my bible study. So, I ditched it for the time being and have got a little notebook for bullet points and fun lettering.

3. USE A HIGHLIGHT INSTEAD OF A PEN. 
It's not always about notes -I say loudly to myself. So, instead of writing down a whole bunch of thoughts and reflections, I highlight. And it's refreshing to spend time reading and reflecting, instead of being distracted by what needs to be written.

4. READ A TWO PAGE SPREAD AND THEN CLOSE. 
Yes, simple. Read just two pages and that's it. So much truth is surely packed in there and you'll slowly make progress through an entire book before you know it.

5. DON'T JUMP IN WHERE THE RULES ARE. 
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. They're rich and illustrate awesome things about God and people and all the bible things, but they're not easy to read or get through. Avoid them while things are hard, instead go for what's juicy and encouraging: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ephesians, Romans.

6. REALIZE WHAT'S REWARDING & INCORPORATE IT. 
I love lettering and fun little snippets of beautiful words. So instead of working with an entire Psalm, I pick out a sentence or chunk of text and write it. This turns reading my bible into a fun, rewarding process instead of a chore.

Let's be really honest: bible reading is hard and yet, it's easy. It waxes and it wanes. That's allowed, expected, human. So take heart, be encouraged, chug onward.

And, if you have more tips, share them please.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Also, 
Tomorrow is the FIRST Letter Link-Up
Please join us.
The theme is Refreshment. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

the power of the rain dance

As I spend 2015, fostering a savoring soul, I've decided to create a weekly essay series based on one of my Instagram pictures. May these sweet reflections remind your soul what's great. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I work on a dirt lot. In a riddled job trailer with a broken heater. I enjoy my job, but I hate the dirt. Especially in summer time. As the California summer sun beats down on our lot, the last little bits of water are sucked from the ground. This evaporation turns the dirt turns into floating, sticky dust that won't come off without a shower. 

Lately, I walk out on the dirt of the lot and stare at the way it doesn't float or stick or even try and dirty me. I kick at the gravel and throw a ball for Hazel but it lays lazily in front of me. It appears to be dry, to be hungry, to lack potential. I could smell the next winter storm floating over the air like a sweet love song for my soul. The wind blew gently, the clouds carefully lolling across the sky.

And then I saw it: a bloom. 

Right there, in the center of the lifeless, dried-out dirt, there stood a flower. Pink-petaled and bright, the bloom stood proudly amidst all the dirt. And the wind blew and the flower danced with it's face turned gladly to the storm-brewing sky. It's single leaf seemed to reach out and raise itself, worshiping what was to come. It danced and the first few drops of rain fell. It swayed wildly as water fell upon the dirt lot.

I stood there, motionless, as the rain fell down in long, straight lines from those beautiful silver clouds miles above my head. And the water dampened my striped shirt and left polka dot patterns on my jeans. It didn't float like that dusty dust, but dropped like it was charged with a mission to touch my skin. I stood as the rain ran down my arms in little trickles, staring as water adhered to me gently. 

As I made my way inside, I turned back to see that pink bloom dancing for the rain in wild, uninhibited ways. 

My heart yearned to join her, but instead I bowed my head in a silent thanks. I realized my soul was sticky and floating just as that dust. Because when a dry season befalls you, you must remember the power of a rain dance.

Another gust of wind came causing the bloom to dip and sway. And as it stilled, it's face turned to me is seemed to say: it is not dry here

Friday, January 16, 2015

coffee date numero diez

If we were on a coffee date, we'd be lazily lounging around the house in flannel pajamas and wrapped in blankets. We'd be drinking whatever you want, but tea has been my jam lately. Mostly because I can drink as much as I want without guilt or the caffeine shakes. Hazel would have her head laying on someone's lap -most likely yours- and we'd laugh at the wild knots of hair atop our little heads.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd confess that we've given up Amazon. We loved OneClick and the app and all the things they make so easy. But it made our dollars disappear so fast. So, in an effort to save, we've given it up. And it's been really nice to think: if I really want that I have to get dressed, go to the store, find it, and buy it. Somehow, things aren't as attractive to have when they require such effort.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd gush about my new Chucks. My dad loved Chucks or at least I've invented the memory that he did. And I got two pairs for Christmas. Black and white. And I'm thrilled about them and don't want them to get dirty because they are so special to me. I think this is partly because I'm not doing any shopping but the grocery kind.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask how you beat the 2:00 pm slump. In November it was Coke Zero (yum), in December coffee, and now I'm alternating between the two. But, maybe there's a better way, and well, share.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you I'm not limiting myself this year, but instead getting rid. Yes, no Whole30 or no caffeine or no drinking rules. Nope, no rules this year at all. Instead I'm just taking in, soaking, and enjoying. Because one day I'll be pregnant and enough rules come with that. Because one day there will be kids and I won't have the flexibility I have now. Because I deserve to live 2015 bold and bright.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd be honest in saying editing is hard. I thought writing was hard in November. And then I thought a break was heavenly delicious in Christmas. And then in January: hard and slippery like black ice. I'm going to truck on, eventually, but right now I'm sort of pitying myself because I don't want to throw out words but goodness there's some mess in there.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd share Ella Henderson. Her voice makes me swoon and her lyrics are catchy and makes me want to sing from the depths of my soul. But, I'd want to share with you this: my 12-year-old brother discovered her. Yes. Middle school boy with impeccable taste in music. Ladies are starting to line up now (but protective older sister is beating them off).

If we were on a coffee date, I'd say grace not perfection. Because that's the theme of my life right now. Maybe it's part of savoring the year that's settled into my heart so quickly, but grace over perfection. Also I've grown a massive girl crush on the adorable Emily Ley because her heart is gold, her planner is awesome, and her lockscreen is my favorite reminder.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd be shy about praying for you. But I would, because that's part of being in deep water together. I'd sort of blush as I ask what you need lately in your heart and soul and for your piece of mind. I'd tell you that it's always a sliding scale or so that's how it feels to me. I'd hug you extra tight this time around.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

15 Books to Read in 2015


It's no secret that over the last year my obsession with reading has flourished and, thankfully, most people who love to write also love to read so I'm surrounded by a community of friends who cherish rich literature. So I pulled together a reading list of the 15 books to read in 2015 as shared with me by bloggers, movie makers, and dear friends. 
  1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck  
    (a dear friend)
  2. Small Victories by Anne Lamott  
    (my heart and soul)
  3. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
    (Mama Bird)
  4. Red Rising (and the second: Golden Son) by Pierce Brown
    (Lindsay at Wife in Training)
  5. The Giver by Lois Lowry 
    (Thanks Box Offices)
  6. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 
    (Sarah Bessey)
  7. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
    (Kristen from Chits & Giggles)
  8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
    (Jessica from The Tangerine)
  9. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    (Megan from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life)
  10. Little Bee by Chris Cleave  
    (Rachel Dawson)
  11. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown  
    (Erika from All Things E)
  12. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
    (Lauren Conrad)
  13. Landline by Rainbow Rowell  
    (Annie B. Jones)
  14. One Day by David Nicholls  
    (Jenny Bravo from Blots & Plots)
  15. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  
    (Nadine from East & Blog)
I am doing some re-reading -The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha- which is a first time for me (I'm not good at repeating). Hopefully that'll go well, otherwise, completing this list could be far more challenging than I think.

These don't count the new reads that are coming out this year (cough, Hannah Brencher and Shauna Niequist, cough). And it's surely not exhaustive of what I'm going to read (ehem, I want to read 50 books which is significantly more than 15).

Monday, January 12, 2015

a call to all wordsmiths!



I've struggled to get back into the writing space since taking my break for December. There's just nothing that can get me into the spirit of writing and pouring my soul out onto the paper like November's NaNoWriMo. And, well, I've been feeling downtrodden about it. I love to write, to work through words, to pour out, and yet I can't find any joy or motivation to get after it. Like most things in life, writing is sometimes hard and seems to be lacking reward, alas, one must continue on. 

So, in talking to my sweet friend Kate about the way I'm just stuck, she mentioned her own writers' block. And, of course, we came to the conclusion, there's got to be other writers out there with goals and dreams for their 2015 word counts but who need an extra motivational umph in their routine. We are here to help! 


Kate and I are starting a group/team/fantastic collection of people called Wordsmiths Anonymous to assist and support and hold you accountable for your 2015 writing plans and, in true excitable fashion, we think you should join us. But first, let us introduce you. 

THE HEART OF WA:
Inspiring and encouraging the next generation of writers through community and accountability.

Sure the premise sounds nice: work together and write hard, but what IS the difference? Beside being sure you're going to reach your 2015 writing goals, we're creating support, community and accountability in what can be a solitary and draining activity! 


Now what does a year of writing together bring to your life? 


ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS:
Each member will be paired with a partner based on the responses to the below form. We will attempt to pair your with someone who is writing a similar genre and plans to spend similar times dedicated to the task throughout the year. Your accountability partner will be your right-hand man (or woman) throughout this process. You will be given all of their information and their job is to keep you motivated and your job is to do the same! This relationship can be as intricate or laid back as the two of you decide. Maybe you want to do weekly chats to check in on the writing progress or maybe you simply want to exchange parts of your drafts as you go -- either way, it's up to you! Your accountability partner will be the first person to call you out when you have missed all your planned writing times and the best person to convince you that you truly want to get back on track.

MOTIVATIONAL QUIPS:
The best way to kick Writers' Block? Encouragement and motivation, two things this group will surely cover. Our Facebook group (it's private, but just ask us to join!) AND Twitter handle will pump motivation directly to you when you need it most. Check in often to see inspiration quotes and graphics, as well as encouragement from your fellow writers. Kate and I will personally oversee these groups and make sure that you are getting all the motivation and encouragement you deserve.

GROUP HANGOUTS: 
Throughout the year there will be 2-3 Google Hangout video chats for all members to attend. The times and dates for these events are TBD but essentially, we will all crack open some wine, talk about the highs and lows of writing, and cultivate excitement for the process. Staying engaged in writing is a big KEY to success and having friends motivate you along the way will be a huge help!

FEEDBACK AND TROUBLESHOOTING: 
As needed and requested via the Facebook group, we will hold feedback sessions where members can get feedback on whatever they want -- maybe you want to know if your character profile is believable or perhaps you need a fresh pair of eyes to read over Chapter 7. Whatever it is, we'll all act as a group to help get your feedback on your work. *Note: This is also a GREAT task for your accountability partner, but we understand that sometimes you need another pair of eyes.

SEMINARS: 
Both Kate and I will host one seminar each during the year on a specific writing topic. The topic itself is still TBD but might include how to organize your thoughts or maybe character building. We will also allow, upon approval, other members to host their own seminars for members. These seminars will be free and will typically last 30-60 minutes. These seminars may be hosted via Google Hangouts and will be limited to 8-12 participants in order to provide some personal interaction and questions.

And that's it folks - if you too plan to write away 2015 join up now! Signups will be open for only ONE week. After that, Kate and I will play matchmaker and send welcome emails to each member within the group. 

We can't wait to meet you all and see what 2015 holds for our words!

Friday, January 9, 2015

I stood there. In my somethings.

|| via ||

I almost forgot my wallet on the check stand in Target yesterday. That was after I left the discount card for my skin cream (why is that stuff SO expensive?) in my car twice. I'd held idle conversation with the cashier like you do in the evenings when everyone's tired and trying to remember common kindnesses.

As I'd loaded my bags into my cart and started for the door, she called after me:

"Honey, you've forgotten your wallet! You need that dear girl."

I could feel the burn in my cheeks -equal parts embarrassed and frustrated. I bowed my head in gratitude. And she seemed to know, with the silence and the nodd.

"Honey, have you got somethin' goin' on?"

I told her no and smiled a half-hearted, sort of smile. Tried to chuckle for fear I'd cry my eyes out. Making a messy puddle of my stresses at the foot of her checkstand. But she knew it, she knew that I've got something going on.

I stood there -wallet in hand- still reeling from our last visit with Popsicle and the evidence that he is failing to thrive -slowly dying. He's thinner than I am and looks like he's made of sticks, not flesh. His head bobbles atop his body -a head looking so large I expect it to topple him over. And his neighbors are dying, there one day, gone the next, and it just makes life seem so fragile and fleeting.

I stood there -tucking that wallet safely away- thankful for the New Year, I was sad about all the fun and festivities being, finally, completely over. No more cheat meals or buzzed nights, no more sequin tops or lack of routines, no more sparkle lights or Christmas trees. And while I crave routine, it's hard to say goodbye, to see those trees naked and prone on the sidewalks, to know evenings will fall slowly around us.

I stood there -fixing my scarf tight around my neck- wishing I knew the answers to our timeline. Wanting to know when things will start and others will end, how our goals will measure up or fall short, what is happening to the whole wide world that has had tragedy slam in and break up the delicate dance around us.

I stood there -slowly turning my cart to go- thinking this is the promising New Year that was going to bring a blank slate upon which I could fashion a fresh start that looked like anything I wanted. I uncomfortably realized the something from the Old Year were coming with me into this blank space -heavy and laden with olden things. And, at the end of a red cash kiosk in Target, I knew that the promise of the New Year only laid ahead so beautifully because it was comfortable atop the mess of the Old.

I stood there -frozen and awkward among the bustling customers- slightly disappointed in the way the fresh blank whiteness carried by the Ghost of Yet to Come only looked lovely because of the muddled heap being dragged begrudgingly by Ghost of That Done Passed. The two Ghosts so comfortable next to one another, reminding me that future promise is accentuated by the past taken for granted.

I moved -slowly, tepidly- towards the automated doors. And I was thankful for my somethings. Yes, I've got something, a whole lot of things, going on. Nothing new, or surprising, or wild, but just so much. And it makes me hungry for later and for what's to come and all the timing and control. But it's slowed my roll, made me look at the here and the now, birthed the Ghost of Life in the Present in my heart. And so, the rush, the hustle, the constant busy bustle: that's not what this life and living thing is all about.

Yes, I've got somethin' goin' on.

And so do you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

16 Post Ideas for Your One Word

Your word is picked. 2015 is started. You were going to blog more this year but you're now feeling sort of tired and weary because the holidays are over and the hangover is real. But your word wants you this year, it's beckoning you to do better, more, wonders.

So I'm here to help. Here to share 16 ways you can write about that beloved word that's going to haunt your every bored, tired, uninspired moment from here until December 31st.
  1. The word's significance to your life -past and present. 
  2. Make it into a mnemonic creating each letter into sub-words for your year (like my Year of the B.R.A.V.E.).
  3. Examine the Webster's definition(s) of your word and how they will play out in 2015.
  4. A monthly (or weekly or quarterly) reassessment of how it's gone.
  5. Through a photo essay
  6. Dedicate a weekend to your word, then recap the weekend (possibly in parts). 
  7. Pull together actions for your words. (Like for my word savor by posting monthly recipes)
  8. Talk about the process of coming to choose/define/apply your word to 2015. 
  9. A vlog introducing yourself and your word.
  10. Predict what adventures or rewards your word will create throughout 2015.
  11. Make questions using your word. Then answer them. 
  12. Look at the antonyms to your word and emphasize how they further encourage you this year.  
  13. Watch out for your word for a week. Photograph/document where it shows up. Share them. 
  14. How has your word changed your year so far? (Obviously, this will need a bit of time)
  15. Write a letter to/about/from your word. Maybe to your heart, mind, life. 
  16. Find quotes containing your word, then dissect them. 
And, as a wrap up for you, my word for the year is savor (as mentioned last Friday). Because I want to stop hungering for tomorrow and be nourished by today. Because I want to slow down and thoroughly enjoy this moment in the right here, right now kind of way. Because I want to take up the perspective to realize this time is unique, is one of a kind, is not going to be so ever again in my life. Because I deserve it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year of the Letter


Writing marriage letters over the last year quickly turned into the post of the month that I so excitedly looked forward to pulling together. I finally got myself a journal to write all of my letters to Jason into to better commemorate the moments and feelings that each month brings forth. And seeing that turquoise, leather bound moleskin makes my heart skip a little beat, a happy little beat.

Then as I addressed and wrote out little notes on our Christmas cards and thank you notes and end of the year encouragements, I realized that I thoroughly enjoy sending bits and pieces of love and tangible care to those special to me. Of course, the Christmas time of year is magical because our mailbox is filled with more kind, personalized mail than junk and, well, I want to feed my excitement about mail in a greater time period than just a few weeks each December.

Just as I dedicated myself to being B.R.A.V.E. in 2014 and focusing on enriching myself and my choices, I want to intentionally spread words this year, words that are encouraging, kind, self-reflective through the inter webs and the mail. I want to savor the stages and time and moments that I've shared with those dear to me. I want to spend time being thankful for those who are special to me and who are interesting and who make differences in my day.

So, with that, comes a new link-up, another link-up, that celebrates a person, event, moment in our months with some words, a letter from me to you, from us to them, from here to there. Every month there will be a theme, an idea, a prompt (of sorts) that will simply suggest a starting point for our letters.

I do hope you'll join -simple note or not. 

We will begin this month! We will start linking up, sharing words and sentiments, writing to and fro. And the theme for January: refreshment

  So, our first letter goes live on January 22nd! 

Feel free to write to anyone, including yourself, and to write to or about the prompt with much room for creative endeavor.

A button, for the road, of course: 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Speak Up: Wild & Free

 photo speakup.jpg
The day is finally here! Welcome, welcome, welcome! We are simply thrilled to have you.

And, of course, go see my dear friend and co-host Annie because WISDOM. 

And for those who missed it:
next month's theme is HEART. 

Some inspiration for your HEART:
  • "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  - C.S. Lewis
  • "Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
  • For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:21
And this video: 

The February Speak Up link-up will go live on February 6th! 

Of course, buttons:
Mr. Thomas and Me

Mr. Thomas and Me

Now you:

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