Pausing

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Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
~ Guillaume Apollinaire

This is a quick post to let you know that I am taking a short hiatus from blogging.

Don’t worry. Nothing is wrong. I’m just feeling the need to back away from technology and really sink into the world around me. To experience it with all of my senses.

What have I been up to?

I’ve been working on my garden. No, working isn’t the right word. (My husband recently told me he’s trying to not use the word “work” when he isn’t talking about his actual job. He’s changing his mindset. So let me try again.) I’ve been spending time in my garden. Moving rock, loosening soil, and planting vegetables.

I’ve also been serving with some other people to set up a community garden. The kale sprout shown in the above photo is from there. I’m really excited about that project.

I also recently finished my first ever painting class. It was a watercolor class offered through my town and it’s the first time I have ever painted (outside of middle school art class where we got to paint for probably a week each year). I’m really proud of my painting, and I still have some more to do on it. I’ll share it with you when I return.

So while I experience life and refill my soul’s well, I’ll be absent from here and probably quiet on social media all around. I suspect I’ll stick around on Instagram (find me as @smhutchinswriter). I may be on Twitter (@smhutchins) or on Facebook (smhutchinswriter) a little bit.

The newsletter will still go out on the first Sunday in June. If you’re not already signed up, you can do so by entering your name and email in the fields at the top of my sidebar.

The “card of the day” will still go out on Facebook and Twitter each morning.

How long will this pause be? At least through the end of May. It could extend through the first part of June. I’m not sure yet. I’ll take whatever time feels right.

In the meantime, I wish you all sorts of wonderstruckness and ordinary magic.

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Flecks #25

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As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I’m learning and celebrating.

So, let’s talk about this week.

Things I learned this week:

  • I can shovel rock. It made me feel a little badass.
  • Working with other people toward a community goal feels good.
  • To keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately this lesson comes after not having done so.

Things I’m celebrating this week:

  • Progress.
  • Abundance.
  • Badassery.
  • Community.
  • New offerings. (If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed in the web world, let’s work together to get you calm, comfortable, and empowered. You’ll find details by clicking “Web Work” in the main menu.)

Things that are resonating with me this week:

What If the Fear Isn’t Going Anywhere? by Victoria Brouhard with this wisdom:

If I wait for the fear to leave, I will never do the thing my heart wants, the thing I believe I’m here to do.

I’m left with two options:

1. Abandon my dream

2. Figure out how to step forward despite the fear

How to Access Our Inner Wisdom by Susannah Conway wherein she says:

So if we translate that into journalling, first you get everything out of your head onto the page. Concerns, worries, half-baked ideas, preoccupations. He said this, she said that. The what ifs? The resolutions. Get it all out. And then keep writing. Start asking the questions and see what you come up with. Once I’ve dumped everything out of my brain I find it’s much easier to start looking at things from a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll keep my notebook by my side all day, adding more notes as they occur to me. What started as chaos in the morning might look very different by the evening.

Your turn:

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I’ll share a “Woohoo!”

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For Moms of All Kinds, Sizes, and Shapes

I wrote this a couple of years ago and it still stands true, so I’m re-running it for Mother’s Day today. Enjoy the day, everyone!

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are biological, some are stepmothers, some are adoptive mothers, some are mother-like figures for children’s friends, and some are a combination of these.

Mothers hug and heal. They bend down and lift up. They teach and they listen. They know when to hold tight and when to let go.

As a mama and stepmama myself, I understand how hard it is. You don’t always know what you’re doing, yet there’s pressure to appear that you have everything under control. So, you do your best and hope your children are better for it.

In the book The Middle Place, Kelly Corrigan explored the dichotomy of being a parent while also still being your parent’s kid. After publishing that book she created a video with Borders (so sad they are gone!) sharing a story about her own mother. I watch it every year and every year it makes me laugh and tear up at the same time. Today, I’m sharing it with you. It is still my favorite mom story.

To mothers of all kinds (including my own mama and stepmom), Happy Mother’s Day!

Flecks #24

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As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I’m learning and celebrating.

So, let’s talk about this week.

Things I learned this week:

  • Advanced preparation makes almost all things better (or easier or less stressful).
  • Time alone wandering a bookstore, then sitting in the cafe with hot chocolate and my journal is restorative.
  • Happy faces are beautiful faces.
  • How to assemble a kite. It came with instructions which were completely unhelpful to me because I didn’t understand the terminology. For example, I’m pretty sure a “bridle” is something you put on a horse and I don’t know what that has to do with kites.
  • I love apple trees and apple blossoms. And the smell of apple blossoms.

Things I’m celebrating this week:

  • My birthday!
  • This blog’s birthday!
  • My newsletter launched!
  • My first program (the Wonder Seeker 3-day photo challenge) launched! (I like to launch things the week of my birthday.)
  • New possibilities
  • Beautiful weather- the sunny days, the gray days, all of them. Temperatures have been wonderful.
  • My teenager found, interviewed for, and got a job- all by himself. Yay for him! (He’s totally psyched about it.)

Things that are resonating with me this week:

Show Me Family by Amanda Magee at Brain, Child.

Creating a Community When You’re a Lone Wolf by Teresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady).

Your turn:

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I’ll share a “Woohoo!”

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I’m 37 and Live Wonderstruck is 2!

It’s a big week here. Lots of growing milestones. Okay, really just two. Or maybe three. Or four. I guess it really is a big week.

First, my birthday was this week. I’m now 37 and I feel really good about that. I’m not even sure why. There’s just something about that number that feels right.

As has become my custom for the past five or so years, I held a self portrait session in my backyard. This year instead of battling with the timer on my camera, I let my three-year-old stand behind the tripod and click the button to his heart’s content. (I highly recommend this method, by the way. He was super excited to take pictures. Who cares if some were blurry or aimed wrong? That happens when I take them with the self-timer, too.)

Actually, I guess that means it wasn’t so much of a self portrait as just a portrait. You get the idea.

Anyhow, this is what 37 looks like. Unfiltered. Un-retouched.

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But I wasn’t the only one with a birthday. Live Wonderstruck turned 2 this week! HOORAY! (*Cue confetti and dancing and sparkles and whatever other merriment you think of.*)

I started blogging in 2007 quite randomly and haphazardly. I dabbled here and there in different topics. But it wasn’t until 2012 that I narrowed in and the idea of seeking wonder in everyday life. Thus began my Live Wonderstruck journey.

Let’s review some of the most visited posts during those two years.

My Pinterest recipe reviews make quite an appearance in the top ten including: apple cider sangria, cookie dough balls, cherry pie poppers, and blackberry cider.

Some of my most visited posts are older posts like Happy? I’m Too Tired to Be Happy, When You Don’t Have Anything to Do On a Friday Night So You Buy Ducks (that’s one of my favorites, too), and The Best Part of Pink’s Concert.

But some of my most recent posts are also among the most viewed: Inked and What Makes a Long Marriage? No really, I’m asking.

Then there’s the interviews. The most viewed are from addiction expert Veronica Valli and middle school teacher and writer Alina Sayre. This is probably a good time to say thank you to all of my interviewees over the past two years (and there have been many!). Thank you so much to all of you who said yes and took some time out to answer my questions. Thank you.

In related news this week I launched my very first newsletter! Did you get it? Make sure you’re on the list by entering your name and email at the top of the sidebar. You’ll get wonderstruck inspiration right to your inbox on the first Sunday of every month.

Also launched this week… my very first Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge! We wrap up today. It’s been fun coming up with prompts and seeing what we find out in this world that maybe we hadn’t paid much attention to before. I’ll be running a week long version of this program toward the end of the summer. Make sure you’re on my newsletter list to get early details!

Now it’s time for me to thank you. Yes, YOU! In these two years you all have supported me and showed up, read and commented, emailed me and shared some link love. Thank you for that. I so appreciate it.

Thank you for making my life a little more wonderstruck. I wish all the same magic for you.

 

You Are Taking Steps

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No matter how small and unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to better things. ~Channing Pollack

Your work is important. Whatever it is you do with your day – bookkeeping, managing, selling, healing, driving, cooking, laundry, hugging – your work is needed.

Do it well. Be proud of it. Know that you are making a difference.

And if there’s something you want to be doing that you’re not, take a step toward that today. It can be small. It can be for only 5 minutes. But step into it.

Step into yourself and own who you are now as well as who you wish to be.

You are important and your work is needed.

Flecks #23

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As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I’m learning and celebrating.

So, let’s talk about this week.

Things I learned this week:

  • Just when you’re getting back into routines and carving out time for work, life will throw curveballs to disrupt it all.
  • Even though I am extremely perturbed by the curveballs, things will get done.
  • I’m grumpy in the mornings. (This is nothing new, but I am rediscovering it about myself this week.)
  • To leave white space on my watercolor painting as highlights.
  • That excitement and anxiety can coexist.
  • That I love my husband. (Also not new, rather another rediscovery that I hope to rediscover a gazillion more times in this life.)

Things I’m celebrating this week:

  • Love and partnership.
  • Day-to-day life works out one way or another.
  • Snuggles.
  • My second watercolor class.

Things that are resonating with me this week:

Overwhelm – It’s an Epidemic by Ginny Lennox in which she practices changing the thought. “I am so overwhelmed” becomes “My life is really full right now.” I’m saying this to myself over and over in these last few days.

10 Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy like procrastinating, making excuses, trying to control the uncontrollable… guilty, guilty, and guilty. I have some practicing to do.

In case you missed it…

I wrote two new articles for Simply Happy Me. Check them out here:

Developing Good Eating Habits for Kids

Active Kids are Healthy Kids

Last chance:

wonderseekerHave you signed up for my new monthly newsletter? It starts Sunday and if you sign up before then, you get my brand new Wonder Seeker photo challenge (running next week) for free!

Sign up for both by entering your email in the box at the top of my sidebar OR on the Wonder Seeker details page (one sign up gets you both).

Your turn:

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I’ll share a “Woohoo!”

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Interview: Alisha Sommer

You guys, I am so excited about the guests who have agreed to stop by Live Wonderstruck lately! I just want to jump up and down with each new “yes.”

Today’s guest is Alisha Sommer, a writer and mom with probably the best Instagram feed I’ve ever seen. Be sure to follow her there and on Pinterest (where her pins make me swoon). Links are at the bottom of this interview.

Enough from me. Please welcome Alisha…

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What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I have three beautiful children but the youngest, the 2.5 year-old, has a speech delay. Over the past year we’ve worked with a speech therapist once a week to help him learn how to form sounds and words. A few days ago he started saying “bye-bye.” It’s such a simple little phrase but it sounds so sweet coming from his mouth. There are so many conversations we can’t have and questions he can’t ask, but every tiny piece of language he acquires brings us closer together. Every new word leaves me wonderstruck.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Even though they now feel more rushed since my oldest entered kindergarten, mornings are my favorite part of the day. It’s one of the quietest times of day for me; I get to sit with a hot cup of coffee, write my morning pages, and I love, love, love getting to watch the sun rise. It’s a reminder for me to breathe in the freshness of a new day and to set intentions.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

The afternoon is my hardest part of the day. My body and mind tend to get sluggish right around 2 o’clock which is also the time I have to wake up the baby, pick up the oldest from kindergarten, and then rush to pick up the middle child from preschool. To help me move through it I use music and I bring paper and pen to do some writing while I wait in the lines. When we return home I get a cup of tea and try to find a place to hide in our (tiny) home to reset.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

I wish I was just more conscious in general. That’s a broad statement, but the truth is that I spend a lot time in my head. I’m an over-thinker and a daydreamer. There are times when I stand outside of school with other parents and talk, only to get back in the car and have no idea what I said. Or I walk into doors and countertops and I bang my head. I love being a creative person, and at times I am very much a Type-A Perfectionist, but I also wish I were more grounded.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Writing is how I process everything in my life—questions, goals, dreams, desires. If I don’t write it down, it will either drive me crazy or I will forget. I believe that we often already have the knowledge we are seeking when it comes to solving a problem. Doing the morning pages every days brings me the clarity I need in order to move forward. When I don’t write is when I lose focus. I also keep several vision boards and inspiring quotes tacked up around the house. It’s so easy to get lost in the business of the day so being able to see little reminders around the house as I move about the day is really helpful in keeping me centered and focused.

About Alisha Sommer:

Alisha Sommer is a writer living in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three children. She loves fresh-baked bread, laying in the sun, and the smell of the sea. When she’s not knee-deep in laundry and lunch-making, she edits and publishes BLACKBERRY: a magazine, a literary magazine featuring black women writers and artists. She is the co-creator of liberated lines, an Instagram-based poetry course, and a guide in the upcoming writing collective, Our Word. You can find her at her favorite playgrounds, Instagram and Pinterest.


In other news, I want to remind you that my new monthly newsletter starts this Sunday! If you sign up, you’ll also get to play along in my very first Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge which I’m running next week.

Sign up by entering your email in the field at the top of my sidebar or go to the Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge page (one sign up gets you both the newsletter and the Wonder Seeker).

Inked

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It’s time for the big reveal! You may remember that my husband gave me a gift certificate for an amazing tattoo artist for Christmas. (If you don’t remember, catch up by reading my Word of the Year: Badass post.)

I’d been thinking about getting a second tattoo for the last few years (my first was nearly 17 years ago when I turned 20). I got that one because I liked tattoos on other people. I thought it would be a cool thing to have and quite unexpected of me. I was in that wanting-to-do-unusual-things place.

Fast forward and I’m 36 and wanting a new tattoo- a work of art that will be colorful and totally me. Something on the back of my shoulder that can peek out from tank tops.

After a lot of talk on my part, my husband found an incredible tattoo artist – William Webb of Evolution Tattoo - and my journey to new ink began.

Billy (because I prefer his nickname) is a true artist. The level of shading and detail he can achieve on skin is amazing to me.

And I guess because he’s so good, he can set appointments however he chooses. And he chooses to have people line up on the first of each month to make an appointment for two months later.

So on February 1, my husband and I stood outside on a thankfully not-too-cold day for an hour waiting to make an appointment. (Arriving an hour before they opened we were number 4 in a line that grew to probably 30 people by the time we left.) I snatched up the first available appointment- a full day on April 16. When asked what I wanted to get I said, “I’m still deciding. Possibly butterflies or a tree.”

Since Christmas I had been collecting tattoo and art ideas on a Pinterest board. I chose images because I liked the colors or the style or the subject matter. And as much as I thought I’d get a butterfly, the more butterfly tattoos I saw, the less I wanted one.

I gravitated toward twisty trees and whimsical little girls. I added paintings and photographs with girls hanging stars, stars hanging from the sky, swirls of butterflies.

About a month before my appointment I emailed Billy a link to the Pinterest board and an email that said, “I’m thinking maybe a girl looking up at the stars. But I also like trees and butterflies and whimsical things and warm colors.” (Okay it was a longer email than that, but that was the gist.)

My husband worried I might not have provided clear enough direction. I hoped we could work it out during the first bit of my appointment. I mean, I really wasn’t looking forward to being needled that entire time. The more time we took up with artwork, the better.

April 16 finally arrived and my husband and I walked into Evolution. He started looking at some of the art on the walls, but I had already spotted my tattoo.

Billy sat at the front desk with a sketch in front of him that was more perfect than anything I could have found myself: a girl sitting in a twisty tree holding onto a star tied to a string as butterflies flutter about.

“Is that my tattoo?” I asked.

Billy looked down at it and said, “Well, I was working on this idea based on what I saw on your Pinterest. I don’t really understand Pinterest, but I printed it all up and did what I could.” He told me he could make any changes or start with something different entirely.

“No,” I said. “That’s my tattoo. I love it. It’s perfect.”

Billy set up his work station while I grew increasingly nervous and tried to make small talk with the other guys at Evolution.

2014-04-16 15.07.48 editWe got started and with those first few pricks I thought, “Yep, this ought to be a long day.” Because it certainly hurts.

My husband was able to stay with me for the first few hours, then he had to catch a plane for business. (He didn’t even get to see the finished tattoo until two days later!)

After that, I was thankful that the other guys at Evolution kept popping in to watch Billy work. They asked if the audience bothered me and I said, “No. It helps to have people to talk to.”

I have to say I was really proud of myself. Before that day arrived, I kind of thought I might cry. But I didn’t. Not one errant tear. I took Susannah Conway’s advice to “smile through the pain.” It kind of worked. Chewing ferociously on gum also helped. And, of course, so did the distraction of visitors.

Side note: I had noticed this weird phenomenon that people who had given birth said their tattoos didn’t hurt, while people who hadn’t given birth said their tattoos did hurt. Well, women who have given birth lie. Tattoos still hurt, but I think there is some truth to the statement in that birth gives you practice of sitting through pain for a loooooooooooong time. That’s my theory anyway.

It took five hours to complete my new tattoo. And when Billy said, “We’re done,” I told him those just might be my favorite words he said all day.

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Now it’s had some time to heal. I’ve survived the next day “oh-my-goodness-that’s-bigger-than-I-planned-on-getting” anxiety, the obsessive cleaning and caretaking, and the itchy peeling.

I’ve even found myself with a new conundrum- choosing tank tops that will complement my tattoo in color. (Yes, I actually stood in a store putting a light blue tank back after thinking it would probably look horrible next to the vivid colors of my new ink. I chose this dark green one instead.) Weird problems.

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I love my new tattoo. Every time I catch a glimpse in the mirror it makes me smile. And every time I think “It’s so pretty!” Every. Single. Time.

I also love the way it peeks out at the top of a wide-neck shirt with just the star and the tippy tops of the tree branches.

It’s my new favorite accessory (which is damn good considering it’s permanent).


In other news, I want to remind you that my new monthly newsletter starts this Sunday! If you sign up, you’ll also get to play along in my very first Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge which I’m running next week.

Sign up by entering your email in the field at the top of my sidebar or go to the Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge page (one sign up gets you both the newsletter and the Wonder Seeker).

Flecks #22

As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I’m learning and celebrating.

It’s been a bit crazy this week. On one hand, I got through a lot of errands and appointments. On the other, I got very little work done, hardly any writing, and few photographs. Trade-offs, I suppose.

Things I learned this week:

  • It’s important to properly lock up the ducks at night. On Wednesday night, I left a circular fence around the opening of their pen. When I went to bed they were still in the kiddie pool. In the morning they were gone presumably where the fence had moved away from their pen. I drove through the neighborhood looking for them and by the farm behind our house, but couldn’t find them. Thankfully they came back that evening all on their own. I fed them and locked them up properly to keep them safe from predators.
  • Making eye contact with a three-year-old while they excitedly tell you something is a surefire way to make you smile.
  • Time together is good (and necessary).
  • Time alone is also good (and necessary).

Things I’m celebrating this week:

  • The ducks came back!
  • Time with my family.
  • Getting stuff done. It was spring break here, and I had scheduled the doctor, dentist, and orthodontist all for this week. Check, check, and check. I still managed all the regular errands, too. Phew!
  • Success.
  • Learning more about myself (it’s an ongoing process, I think).
  • Plenty of outside time.

Your turn:

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I’ll share a “Woohoo!”