Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May and Me || 2016

CURRENTLY 

loving. Sally Hansen Complete Manicure nail polish. This stuff covers well, stays nice for a week, and comes in all the beautiful bright colors.
needing. A shopping fast. Stinking online shopping gets me EVERY TIME. 
wanting. More Pixie shorts from Old Navy (they really don’t get enough credit for their clothes).
writing.  Notes and thoughts and feelings and plans in my new notebook.
reading. Three books at one time -OVERWHELM. 
watching. Gilmore Girls for the first time ever. (Because my mom said to.)
listening. To Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman. AWESOME. 
wishing. There were just a couple more hours in a day.
feeling. Peaceful. Life’s attempting to be stressful lately and perspective is a glorious thing.
craving. A massage and mimosa.
eating. Fire-honey salmon and portabello panang curry and cherries.
drinking. Vanilla Crème Puff Donut Shop coffee.
smelling. Hazel’s sleepy smell. It’s a cross between Frito and hamster and it makes my heart smile.
working on. Globes on globes on globes (like the amazing astrological one below). 
contemplating. Our anniversary vacation in the fall. Because WHY NOT? 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT 


I started my third bullet journal and made some updates. Seriously, I love this organizational process. 

Creativity's been a waxing and waning thing for all my days of May. But, I realized, I wanted things to fix it and those things were a reflection of a hole in my motivation.

I fell behind on my #100daysofpaintingbreakfast, but am playing catch up by making creative space in my life

WHAT I'VE READ


A MUST READ:
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The most divine sort of heartbreak is this book. The most painful, beautiful, real kind of writing happens within the pages of this novel and, whoa. Every moment that gives a slight moment of foreshadowing is obliterated in the way Grissom manages to move plots in the most unexpected of twists and turns. Neither plot nor character lead this novel, but history itself manages to run as the leader of your reading experience.

Comparing this to "The Help" is doing it a disservice as the segregation and pain contained within the pages of this novel are nothing akin to "The Help". No, this book is rich in the emotional wringing it puts you through. Whether you care for Belle or Lavinia (the two main characters and perspectives of the story) doesn't matter because you can't help but become invested in the difficult politics of plantation life.

The writing is gorgeous. Grissom gave us a gift with this one -expertly balancing between description and events, character and plot. She managed to flip perspectives flawlessly, bringing life to both Belle and Lavinia without favoring one over the other. Grissom paints a picture with her arrangement of words and plot points... You won't be able to set it down despite the heavy -at times, oh-so-heavy- emotional spaces found within the covers of The Kitchen House.

Other mentions for the month of February:

Year of Yes (review) || ★★★★
The Bronte Plot (review) || ★★★
Counting by Sevens (review) || ★★★★

Friday, May 27, 2016

About Bodies & the Feast

Bathing suit weather is upon us. The weather that makes us pinch our sides, point at our muffin tops, and make us wish tacos weren't so delicious. This late spring-early summer time of year is much dreaded because you didn't start dieting earlier and now you're here looking frumpy in a bathing suit you're pretty sure was mislabeled because when did you go up a size?

I get it. I'm here with you. Except this year it's different. 

Since renewing my anti-scale attitude in March, I've worked really hard not to hang out in front of the mirror and hate my body. For the first four weeks -in fact-, I'd do ten push-ups every time I tried to convince myself I was less than beautiful. While I dropped my chest to the ground and up again, I would run through the list of amazing things my body can do -like run a marathon, mow the lawn, paint globes, write words. I run through it and feel empowered.

I mentioned this habit to my mom over coffee and pastries a few weeks back. She nodded over her steamy latte. I told her I wish women understood how inherently great they've been made. I talked about the freedom I feel in moving away from the measurements, the way moments of goodness over food stack up big and bold, the joy I find in gathering for a feast.

I dare you to spend more time loving yourself. 

Because you deserve the freedom and joy. You deserve to be wildly present at the dinner table where carbs and cheese and vegetables all sit in community. You deserve to eat and drink and be merry without a fierce guilt because you didn't order the salad. Yes friend, you deserve to love the amazing things your body can do.

This is a love that requires brave and hard choices. 

But you can do it because at the end is a feast. And I don't mean the kind of feast that is made up of calories -though those are good. But the kind of feast that is Whoa and Holy and Right. The kind of feast that's warm and fuzzy like your favorite blanket, that's salty and cozy like a bowl of buttered pasta, that's tangy and a little bit drunk like a glass of champagne.

It's the kind of feast that says: I'm proud of me. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life Isn't Fair || A Marriage Letter



Jason,

Life feels like a series of hard knocks lately. I cried to you about it a week ago. I told you I hated how life happens and it's so unfair and all I want is my Dad back and a house full of babies and is this so much to ask God? I cried and you watched with patient, steady eyes. You rubbed my back and tried to keep Hazel from licking the tears running down my cheeks. I spoke, unsteady, angry words and you listened. I told you how angry I was that life just isn't fair.

No one promised us life would be fair. 

No one promised me a Dad that lived to 102 (Mom, you better make it that long or else). No one promised me a house full of rambunctious blonde children. No one promised me a dog that loved puppy play dates and a job that never caused stress. No one promised me a world full of flowers and all the moments to make memorable. No one promised me anything but breath and learning opportunities.

Life isn't fair. 

I know it's not. I know because no one promised me a deep love for a man I simply and truly adore. No one promised I'd meet you in a sweaty bar during a New Year's party, I'd say yes to marriage in a dimly lit Mexican hotel, I'd marry you on the grass bridge in front of my childhood home. No one promised a breadwinner who works hard, commutes far, and always maintains a strong kindness. No one promised I'd find the man who will patiently ignore my wiggly toes for two hours just to snuggle me. No one promised me you.

And so, life isn't fair. 

With loss comes love. With fear comes bravery. With you comes me. The wins are sweeter with your almond-eyed smile beside me. And the losses bearable with your strong hand on my right knee. The mountains enjoyable with your wild victory dances to celebrate our climb. And the valleys manageable with your bright soul to remind me of the other side.

I'll take the hard knocks because you're my blessing,
amber

- - - - - - - - - - -

This letter is one in a series of letters I write to remember mundane moments of my marriage that would otherwise slip away. I write with a dedication to hold tight to him and to remember how life looks right now at this very moment. The chance for these letters to shed light on our marriage before children for our children because they won't know us as newlyweds is a much loved and added bonus.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Upsold: A Post on Mistaken Motivation


I got my oil changed in my car last week. My ordinary serviceman was out for the day, so I had to deal with someone else. I had to deal with a younger, more hungry man who wanted to sell me a half dozen things I've never been told I need. I tried to ask educated questions and fight off the sales' techniques, but I couldn't run in his ball park. So, I agreed to the oil change and said I'll worry about the other items on the list later. He wasn't thrilled, but I wanted to take a minute to let the upsell wear off.

I talked to my regular serviceman the following day. He said I did a good job waiting that I still have 10,000 miles before I really need to be concerned about the services. He said he was sorry for his absence and sorry about a coworker who might have made me feel pushed around. I didn't mind because, while I don't like the upsell, I fall for it all the time.

Blogging course? Must have organizational application? Creativity book you need to read?

I've done it. I've heard it. I've bought and believed. I've begged those suggestions to be the answers to my question, only to be frustrated when they don't get the work done.

Friends, we are being upsold. 

We are being told we need this app to change our productivity, that book to encourage our creativity, and this tea to flatten our belly while stimulating our mind. It's tempting like sugar and wine and tacos. None of it is inherently bad or dangerous until we look at the state of our hearts. Because nothing says I need to reevaluate my dreams like consuming every answer and suggestion without any progression.

We're big and bold dreams with couch potato spirits.

We're watching other people achieve and do, feeling jealous, and then buying just a few more productivity promising tricks.We're looking at this hustle and that movement with wildly emotional eyes. Instead of distracting ourselves with a dozen blank journals, we've got to put in the work.

You were born with what you needed to accomplish your dreams. You were made to be colorful, bold and bright. You don't need anything but your heart and determination. So, stop buying all the busy distractions and clear out your mental (and probably physical) space.

You deserve to see the world beyond your spot on the couch. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bad News: Advice & Reflections on Maintaining Perspective



My dad was diagnosed and deemed terminal in the same day. One appointment took us from healthy man to dying dad. After my dad died, I knew my faith couldn’t manage bad news. I feared any shade, any degree of bad would send me careening from the narrow road He’s laid forth. 
This week we got the first bad news since he died. We got the first bad news that dances in the same circle of sadness as disease and death. It was news that wasn’t entirely shocking but still maintained the harsh sting of disappointment. 
I"m not devastated. I'm surprised by my optimism in a weird, proud way. My faith is fine. It’s there, sort of unaffected and wholly devoted to acknowledging His plan. My emotions are surprisingly simple, comfortably swaying in the winds of change. I wondered what was different this time, how one foot in front of the other is easy despite the sudden shift in circumstance. I’ve come up with a single thing: perspective. 
What I lacked in my college years after the dementia diagnosis was perspective. And what’s made a world of difference in the last five days of heading in a new direction is perspective. It’s the compass that makes this all seem tolerable because at the end of the day direction is about relative location, isn’t it? 
So, here are three perspective check ins that you’ll need when bad news decides to cross your life plan:

1. The raw, ragged feelings pass. 
When you’ve received a negative news flash, it’s important to check out, to insulate and hold your space. Then you’re there in your emotional cocoon and sweatpants when you wonder if you’ll ever get on with life. You will. 
Feelings are fleeting as painful as that might be to admit. You’ll get over it, you’ll get on with it, you’ll realize that the essence of life is its lack of perfection. 

2. The end-of-the-world as I know it sensation is transformative. 
The last thing any person wants when life changes unexpectedly is more uncertainty. But, that end-of-the-world feeling is inspirational. It’ll lead you to adventures you’d otherwise skip, to opportunities you’d probably take for granted, to dreams you put off for too many years now. 
The choice is yours: fight or flight? I challenge you to stay, to transform, and to grow alongside the heartbreak. Like a muscle, you'll feel torn apart and sore, but we were made to heal and you'll come back with a strength you could never have expected. 

3. Sometimes it’s a mountain. Sometimes it’s a molehill. But bad news always sucks. 
When we get back news it's easy to compare. Is mine worse or better, more tragic or not, fatal or benign? But comparison is unnecessary because pain is pain and bad news of any proportion sucks. At the risk of being cliché, this too will pass. You will not only survive, but come out on the other side with a more beautiful, kind soul. I know because I did. 

And my number one practical tip when bad news comes crashing down: 

1. Do something, anything to make yourself feel productive. 

I know you'd rather crawl into bed and cry your eyes out than admit the world is still spinning. I know it seems easier, more lovely, to cocoon yourself beneath a cool down comforter and use up a whole box of Kleenex than live. But life. Life goes on and there's something about doing one thing -any one thing- that balances out the soul kind of aching. (I chose to clean and barbecue artichokes for the first time.)
- - - - - - - - -

Today marks five months since the day my dad died. Goodness that seems impossible and yet, I'm thankful that the sun rises and sets on my days and my moods. I'm thankful he's somewhere safe, somewhere beloved, somewhere he so desperately wanted to travel. I'm just now heading back to church, just now learning not to be angry when sadness is overwhelming, just now embracing what it means to carry on a legacy. This isn't always a fun road, but I'm a better person because of him. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bullet Journal Update || Take 3


I am two weeks into using my third bullet journal and, as is tradition, I’ve made some changes between Journal 2 and Journal 3.0. With the close of my last bullet journal, I realized I’ve got a much better hold on how to make these blank pages of opportunity work for my life. The balance is between organization as a motivational tool and organization as a distraction. I'm working hard to be more of the first and less of the second. 

And, in the blogging about creativity , I wanted to share the updates with you. 
Call Notes: I used to write notes from work calls on random envelopes or slips of scrap paper. Then I’d throw them away and be confused about how it disappeared. So, I’ve started writing down notes in my bullet journal. Notes from business calls, meetings, and voicemails all go with a date right into my trusty Moleskine. Then, when I have a question or need to revisit I know RIGHT where they are. (Plus, adding calls that need to be returned under my To Do List ensures I actually return them.)  



Four Day Spreads: I know there are some serious bullet journal gurus who lay out their daily and weekly spreads beautifully. I’ve seen them and admired them, but don’t have the dedication myself. But last month I was sitting at our kitchen table looking over my week (we were moving the office) when I decided to lay out my days on a single two-page spread. The heavens opened and angels sang over my organizational epiphany because GENIUS. The four day spread has helped me prioritize, prepare, and foresee any time crunches or stressful days that lay ahead. 

Editorial Calendar: I know people have had these for years. I know every blogger tells you what a God-send they are. And yet, I’ve never once dedicated myself to one because it felt constricting. In March I was feeling extra-organizational and laid out April’s content. Then in April I skipped doing it for May. What a mistake. I adore knowing what I need and when. Pictures, content, tweets, and batching my work has become hundreds of times easier because my mission and purpose are clear.  

Blog Ideas Layout: Mr. Thomas and Me isn’t the only place I write. I am a regular contributor over at The Rising and adore the chance to put words out alongside some of the internet’s most wonderful people. But, this requires me to have a little foresight on the weeks I need to send over my pieces to be published on The Rising. I write two different types of pieces –faith-based and book-centric- for The Rising and so, I’ve started logging ideas in a new layout that helps my brain when it comes time to write the pieces. 

Mileage Tracking: Every June my cousin hosts an online running challenge. It’s fun, hard, and makes me crazy about mile tracking. I did another one in January and spent the month tracking my distance traveled each day. I love to see the miles I cover in any given month, so I made myself a way to easily glance at how much ground I’ve covered each month. 

ABC of Reading: In an effort to bring more thought and variety to my reading, I started logging my books in a list form in my bullet journal. This doesn’t replace GoodReads or my beloved book journal, but gives me an overview of sorts. But, what’s a list without some organization? Nothing. So, I added alphabetical order to it and SWOON. 


Random Quote Pages: I accidentally did this with my word of the year. I mean to write it on the next blank page in my journal, but skipped a few because they were stuck together. The randomness bugged me, until I decided to write the word a few more times throughout the remainder of the pages. Then, I stumbled upon the words randomly over the course of time. What a lovely surprise I made for myself! So, I’ve enhanced it this time around by picking out some fun and inspirational quotes, writing them throughout the journal, and now, time will have its way with me. 


I've talked about Bullet Journals before. See the start of my bullet journal journey here
And then the second update here

Friday, May 13, 2016

Coffee Date || 24

If we were on a coffee date, I’d froth you some milk in my new office space because with dust and moves and sore backs comes new coffee machines and an opportunity to treat yourself to a frother. I bought this one and adore how it tastes like marshmallows when you put half milk and half vanilla creamer in at one time. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d share the novelty –and epiphany- of the Hero’s Journey. I learned of this writing tool after taking Hannah Brencher’s Spring Intensive (totally recommend in all the ways recommendations can be made). It’s got me hot on working on The Book again, but more than that, it’s reframed the way that I think about my own life –specifically fear. Because, often, fear is a made-up story we are telling ourselves. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d confess to failing at the #100daysofpaintingbreakfast. Usually this is something I’d tuck away and try to distract you from. Usually, I’d push myself harder, harder, harder to catch up and make all the paintings work. But, to be honest, grace. Since my dad died, grace has been a constant lullaby He’s singing over my life and, while I tend to ignore it, this time I’m leaning in to the romantic song. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d want to know what’s stacked on your bedside table To Be Read. The book bug has hit me SO HARD and I’m in the middle of four different books and I’m keeping them all straight but sometimes it’s almost impossible to pick which one to read. Tell me how you choose which book to dive into when you’re reading more than one. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you about Afternoon Siesta –the new paint we’ve just applied to all four walls in our room. It makes me smile. Smile like I’m waking up from a nap washed in the afternoon sun that’s shining down on white sandy beaches of Mexico just outside my window. It’s a little bit sad when I realize I’m not actually in Mexico and about to don a bathing suit to drink cocktails, but the color is so happy. So, so happy. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d have a bowl full of California strawberries for you. I’d probably have homemade whipped cream too because I adore the stuff. You might want to know how I make it, so let me share. Pour cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a bowl and use your hand mixer). Add a heaping drip (more of a long pour) of this Vanilla Paste into said cream. Whip. Whip and whip and whip until it’s gorgeous fluffy goodness. Then dip strawberries in it and add it to your morning coffee and your afternoon tea and eat it by the spoonful until you need to make more. Then repeat. 
If we were on a coffee date, I’d talk to you about bad news. I’d ask you how you cope when bad news sails into your life. I’d ask how you gain perspective, where you turn, what brings you comfort. I’d want to know how much grace you give before you push yourself to get on with life. I’d ask and you’d share and I’d say thank you because your vulnerability is beautiful and vital.  

If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask you about screen time. I’ve realized that I’m really attached to my phone since we haven’t had the internet at work. I want to say that it’s just to make sure all my emails were answered and attended to, but really, that’s not it. I love to tap and touch and scroll and like. I love to interact and be here, there, and everywhere that’s inside of my phone’s capacity. Some days are better, less connected, while others I just cannot stop. Personal boundaries. Tell me about them. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Triad of Small Moments and Some Big Reminders


Life feels like it's moving too fast and impossibly slow right now. I've been thinking of you. So here are three moments that yielded three reminders for you. 
- - - - - - 
We moved offices over the last two weeks. Also, Frontier Communications –a small telephone and internet provider – bought the western US part of Verizon. Verizon provides our phone and internet at work. Double transitions have made for a phone and internet mess. The kind of mess that results in two weeks of no internet at work and looks like me bringing my computer tower home to send payroll and emails. 
I’ve become a crazy ex-girlfriend kind of caller into the customer service department of Frontier. I’ve begged and cursed, pleaded and bargained. And what I’ve got back is a lot of kindness and some real harsh truth: the employees are suffering too. 
Because not only is the transition a mess for the wires and circuits and switches in the field, but it’s a mess in the training (or lack thereof) and hours and workforce in the office. Long hours, angry customers, and a lack of answers makes caring for customers a heaping load of hard. One woman told me she understood how I felt like a number without a name because she feels the same way every day with her new company. That is heartbreak. 
This is a public service reminder: We’re all fighting for our own sanity. 
You have the choice to make someone’s day a bit brighter or not –even the person who answers your call on the other end of that 1-800 dial. 
- - - - - - 
A few weeks ago I was sitting with some wives at our husbands’ softball game. One of the woman was newly pregnant and feeling pretty miserable. She talked about all the ways she didn’t want to be pregnant. I smiled kindly, pretended to be understanding. But I wanted to tell her all the things I’d give up, all the work I’d do just to be in her nauseous shoes. 
I knew she was momentarily frustrated, tired, and full of raging hormones. I knew she didn’t want the baby to be wished away. But I also know I’m nursing a sad, confused heart full of child-rearing dreams. She hasn’t a clue and I’m not prepared to give her one. So, smile kindly, nod silently, let the moment pass. 
This is a public service reminder: We’re all walking in our own battlefield. 
Life is a battlefield rife with emotional landmines and exploding circumstantial grenades. Life is a battlefield that leaves us wondering if we’re going to make it through today or tomorrow. 
- - - - - - 
My little brother plays basketball for his school. I’m an avid fan of over-excited cheering and team spirit so it’s part of my DNA to be at the games. 
Last week they suffered through a painful blow out. They were off, the other team was on, and the scoreboard reflected it. One player on the other team kept making three pointers and, after he sunk the shot, would run down the court with three fingers proudly pumping in the air. He was thrilled and he deserved it. But the loss plus his excited bragging made for a cocktail of ache in our team’s heart. 
This is a public service reminder: We’re all on the same team, whether we want to admit it or not. 
Sometimes we’re on the losing team and it’s ugly. Sometimes we’re winning and we want to brag all over the court. Regardless of our jersey or number, we’re all members of the human team. 
- - - - - - 
As promised, three reminders from me to you. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Four Ways to Create Creative Space || A Creative Process Post



I've mentioned struggling to balance the writing, blogging, painting, working hats a few times. Since opening the shop (nearly a year ago), I've learned that each part of my creativity is important to the others. So, I've had to prioritize in order to maintain a semblance of balance in each piece of my making process.

Four small, but vital, admissions and acknowledgements have assisted in making space for each part of my creative process. I know you, like me, are made up of a dozen different creative projects that are all vying for your attention while draining you of efficiency. So, here.

Here are four tips to make space for your creative pursuits in all their glory:

1. Realize your goals.

Your side hustle might be just that: a side hustle -nothing more or less. You might, like me, be a maker for making's sake, for blogging's joy, for the fun of the process. You might love to paint and create, but fear the pressure of full time creativity on your soul.

Or, you're the kind of creative who can work with a budget on your back and who, in fact, produces better when there's an outside force helping spur you onward.

2. Be honest about your time. 

Creativity isn't sparse, but time is. You could stay up all night making, writing, blogging, doing if you weren't going to run out of energy. But, you will and you do.

So, take a few days and track your time. Just a general sense of how much free time you have in the mornings and evenings will do. Then check in with yourself about how you feel in those hours. Are you tired? Do you want a moment to sit and read before the night time routine kicks in? Do you prefer quiet or noise? Is this your prime making time?

And then, make your day around those hours. I do best writing in the afternoon between three and five. So, I try to be ahead of myself at work (sometimes going in early) so that I can make space (i.e. have no tasks to complete) in that last hour to write. Or, I come home from work and hole myself up with amy computer and a glass of water.

3. Write space in on your calendar for each piece of your puzzle. 

I just started making sacred creative space in the last year. Friday mornings are my time to get work done, mark things off the shop To Do list, or write at the library. Three of my Friday mornings per month are non-negotiable meaning it is my creative time. No coffee dates, shopping trips, hair appointments, or house-related tasks get to come in and distract me.

This is hard. It is also feels ridiculously luxurious. But, your creative self needs it. Make space whether it's two hours or twenty minutes, whether it's daily or weekly or monthly.

When you write down what you're going to tackle in your given time period, try to focus on one facet of your creativity at a time. This can be challenging and your brain will fight you a bit, but try. Try and try and try. Eventually, your brain and creativity will be willing to compartmentalize.

4. Find a physical spot that works. 

I really wanted to have a space that was all mine to create in when we bought our house. Jason and I agreed we'd have an office-studio space for me to love and decorate. It's been nice, I enjoy the view out over the green yards in our neighborhood. But, honestly, I do seventy-five percent of my creating at our dinner table. Be it writing or painting or calligraphy work, I prefer the dinner table to any other surface in our house.

I think this is partly because I stretch out and spread all my supplies wide when I work, but it might also be proximity to the coffee maker.

What's your biggest creativity tip?
And your largest creativity challenge?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

An Update on Mornings & The Importance of Night Routines

At the beginning of April I told myself I needed to be more intentional with my mornings. I was tired of feeling stressed before I'd even left the house to kick off my day. So, I set some boundaries, made a list, and realized they really weren't the things I need to change. In fact, I needed to change my nights and evenings in order to simplify (and destress) my mornings.

Here are my findings about my pre-morning makeover: 

1. Simplify your closet. 
I'm not talking capsule wardrobe or all black or any of that. Just get rid of the things that don't fit or are out of trend or might have a small hole you keep trying to hide. Why? Because those eye sore pieces grab your eye and beg you to try them. And then you've changed your outfit ten times and there's clothes everywhere and you are still not clothed. I cleaned out my closet in mid April and getting dressed has been so much easier because I don't have the temptation to try on clothes I really don't like. 

2. Make ahead lunches. 
The last month I've been utilizing the goodness that is a mason jar salad. And on the days I don't have them, I make sure there's leftovers from dinner ready to travel to work with me for lunch. I pack my lunch every day and I love the ease of reaching in to the fridge for my salad (or leftovers), a piece of fruit, and my water. Ease in the morning is IMPORTANT. 

3. M.I.T. -Most Important Things
I used to write down three of the Most Important Things I wanted to get done each day before I left work to go home. But in the last month, I've spent time thinking over the Most Important Things I need to do each day as I'm preparing for bed at night. Maybe it's a doctor's appointment or a work meeting or finishing up the commissioned piece I've been working on, but I find that I wake up looking forward to my day when I spend time reflecting the night before. I pretend I'm deciding on and carefully allocating all the energies I have for the next day. 

And then, the two morning habits that have made all the difference for my routine:

4. Add something you're excited about in with serious and dedicated intention. 
For the first half of April I was really focused on getting some quiet reading done each morning. Then the #100daysofpaintingbreakfast started and I prioritized my mornings to include 10-15 minutes for painting. And you know what? I haven't run out the door once since. I believe this is because I truly look forward to those contemplative moments with paint so I make there is extra time for them by skipping on curling my hair or changing my outfit a dozen times. 

5. Coffee. 
I love coffee. I had a blood test one morning and had to fast. TORTURE. Coffee helps me work with greater energy and efficiency. Some days I wish this were not so, but the other thing is: I love the taste of coffee. I love sipping on a warm cup of GET UP AND GO and I don't want to skip it. How do I know this? Because I had to fast for a blood test at 8:30 one morning and I was like BUT COFFEE. As soon as I was done I ordered myself one because why not?

What one thing makes your morning 
the foundation for your best kind of day?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Berries & Cream || A Contemplation on Transition


I bought strawberries from the stand by our house this weekend. As soon as I took the cardboard container from the woman's hands the romantic smell of spring-summer transition wafted into my nose. I smiled over the pock-marked red flesh of the berries while they teased me with their scent. I ate seven berries on the mile drive home. The juice of the berries ran down my cheek as I tossed the small stems out the window. I smiled at the smallness of the moment. And then had another.

I love strawberries. Their sweetness, their mini seeds, the way they pair perfectly with whipped cream fresh from my stand mixer. But more than that, I love their reminder that transition can be sweet and good. Because strawberries are best now -in the middle of spring as the weather walks warmly toward summer. They soak up individual rays of sunlight while on the vine and hold tight to the heat until they're sitting in the depths of your belly.

Life's felt transitional since my dad died. That's four months of trying to settle in to whatever this season wants to be called. Some days it seems to beckon Peace or Hope going even so far as Faith, while others it points at names like Chaos and Trying.

There's literal changes -like office locations and weather patterns and months passing- and faith changes -wrestling turned to stillness, defiance turned to defeat- and personal changes -choosing routine over chaos, promising space instead of choking expectations- that mark this time and place. And in there are the Feelings.

Feelings is a large family. A large family that comes for unexpected visits that often last longer than you wish. A family that moves in and won't move out until they decide it's time regardless of your opinion. Feelings aren't particularly gentle or willing to be moved. They certainly aren't considerate or concerned by your circumstance. And that's what can make the Feelings hard to behold.

Until you serve them strawberries with vanilla whipped cream.

And then, you're here in the transition with Feelings and a nameless season, but things aren't feeling so dire because spring's promise and summer's warmth fill your belly. Let transition be kind. 

You're settled comfortably under the warm blanket of the sun while you lounge deeper into a chair on the back porch. Allow the sweetness to seep in despite the way that nothing feels definitive.

Because -as painful as it is to say and to hear- this too will pass and summer will come in full, hot heat sort of ways.

I declare May the month of strawberry moments.

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