Friday, November 29, 2013

Flecks #8

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

Things I learned this week:

  • I can make mashed potatoes from scratch. Every year I do this for Thanksgiving, and every year after boiling the potatoes I remember I don't know how to make mashed potatoes. So I search for a recipe, realize it's not that hard if you have the right ingredients (which itself is a challenge), and mash away. And every year they come out fine. Maybe next year I'll remember how to do it. (Or maybe I'll even make them from scratch before next year.)

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • For the first time in months, I remembered to bring the dry-cleaning into the house on the same day I picked it up from the dry cleaner. (Seriously, I usually remember the next time I go to put something in my trunk. "Oh... there's dry-cleaning in here.")

  • Thanksgiving. Here in the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday with family and feasting. It was nice. Today many people have already hit the stores to find "great deals." I will be celebrating my home, by staying in it.

Things that are resonating with me this week:

I'm really drawn to stories about women at the moment. I'm reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamont and loving it so far. I've also started The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce and it's spurring a lot of thoughts and ideas and all-round wonderstruckness.

Then there's these articles that caught my attention...

why I think that we should listen more carefully to our grandmothers at Kind Over Matter

Feminism, According to Stock Photography - I found this one through Facebook. It is brilliantly filled with women wearing boxing gloves, wielding power tools, stepping on tiny men, and more. Worth the trip. Be sure to read the captions.

Unrelated to femininity in particular, I also liked these posts...

How Many Clouds Are in Your Sky? by Sara McClellan

The History of Blanket Friday by Havi Brooks, a little known holiday I think I'll celebrate today.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Great Clearing

This weekend unexpectedly became a time of big change. Really our household has been in a state of flux for weeks (or maybe always) since my husband I decided we needed to finish projects, clear clutter, and basically put life back in order.

So we've changed light bulbs that had gone dark, returned things that needed returning, cleaned things that needed cleaning, tucked the patio furniture away for winter, and cleared closets of unworn clothes.

Then on Friday morning as my husband headed out for work, he casually mentioned that maybe it was time to trade in my car and our minivan, both older vehicles, for one new mom-mobile. We've been talking about it for a year now, so it wasn't out of the blue. It was, however, the pivotal moment of moving from an idea to actually happening.

He then spent Friday and Saturday discussing options with his brother (who conveniently sells at GMC). Meanwhile my husband raised another concern.

We had a stack of bins in our hallway waiting to move to the attic- Halloween decorations and hand-me-down clothes waiting for my toddler to grow bigger. My husband confessed he hadn't yet taken them up because the attic was a disaster. What once was organized no longer was.

So, up he went to the attic handing down the pack-n-play we no longer need, a 13-year-old grubby plastic toybox, an equally old but in good shape kids easel, and other odds and ends.

Then we switched places and I went up to reorganize the Christmas bins and return the Halloween bin to its rightful place. I passed down boxes of my 16-year-old's old toys, as well as two boxes of my old toys. (Yes, I said my old toys.)

It was about that time my brother-in-law showed up with our new car. What?!?! I know. Crazy.

So out we went into the dark cold night to see the new mom-mobile. The wind that I'd heard howling against the attic walls turned out to be carrying snow flurries, which I thought maybe was a sign hell was freezing over from our progress.

Bundled in coats and gloves, we looked at the car/truck/SUV - I'm going to call it a truck - and took it for a quick spin around the block. Then we loaded up my 11-year-old car with a bunch of our 16-year-old's old toys (to be passed on to our nephews) and my brother-in-law drove them away.

And just like that, the car that I bought soon after college was gone. The car that I moved across the country in. That saw me through divorce, my own apartment, new love, marriage, and having a baby. 11 years. That means I was 25 when I bought it. It was a whole different era of my life.

I came back into the house feeling excited for the new, but sad for my loss of the old. I called my best friend. I looked at my husband with wide eyes.

Then I soaked up the feeling of change and went upstairs to go through one of my old boxes of toys from the attic. Specifically, Barbies.

Despite weeding it out a few times over the last two decades (mostly of doll clothes and furniture), I still had a whole box of Barbies and their stuff. And now I was ready to let some of it, maybe even most of it, go.

So I pulled out every doll (all 20), every piece of clothing, every tiny little shoe, every small chair and hanger. I arranged all the Barbies (and Kens and Skippers, Craig, Dana, Becky, and the rest) for a photo. This is how I will preserve the memory from now on.

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Then I chose a few favorite dolls, a sandwich baggie's worth of clothes, the wicker chair set and placed them back in the box. The rest I packed up in a donation bag because maybe there is someone else out there who will be able to enjoy them.

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We've purged before, but it's different this time. There is a definite shift in the way we feel about our home.

We are lightening our load here in the Hutchins household. We are making space. Clearing out the old, unneeded, and underappreciated.

We are making room to love the things we love- to see them, to use them, to enjoy them. And isn't that kind of the point of having them in the first place?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Flecks #7


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

Things I learned this week:

  • Grocery shopping is easier by myself than with my toddler.

  • Even without the toddler, I will still forget things at the store.

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • The arrival of a new book which I'm very excited about (*she says in a sing-songy way*): The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. I'm imagining all the possibilities right now. Can't wait to dive in!

  • Productivity. I checked off a lot of boxes off this week. Everything from copyediting work to laundry to booking plane tickets for my mom to come out for Christmas. Check, check, and check (and many more checks). Hooray!

Things that are resonating with me this week:

Nourishment through the elements by Jamie Ridler. You know I love me some Jamie! What I like about this post is the way she approaches things we can do to improve our lives by element (i.e. earth, air, fire, water), explaining how those elements affect us.

Leonie made a coloring book with her art. Yes, I said coloring book (technically "colouring book" because she's Australian). And it's amazing. And it's free. I printed it out yesterday and it's sitting on my desk beckoning me. As my friend said when I sent her the link, it may be time for a new box of crayons.

What have you learned this week? What are you celebrating? Let me know in the comments and I'll join you in a "Woohoo!"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exploring Prosperity

Once again it's time to cast wishes with Jamie Ridler. This week she asks: What do you wish for your prosperity?

This seems oddly tricky because, really, aren't we often wishing for prosperity itself?

So, let's dive a little deeper and explore this question properly.

What do I wish for my prosperity? "My prosperity" sounds present- like I already am prosperous. I like that. And I think that's true. I have more than I need and that makes me fortunate. I feel blessed.

Often when we talk about prosperity, we are talking about finances. So, in that respect, what I wish for my prosperity is that it continues to come more from my life work (as opposed to from busy work).

I am trying to live more holistically- viewing my family, my business, my love, my friendships, and my home all as part of me. Hence my new focus on "life work."

And that is exactly how I wish to prosper. Wholly. Not just thriving in one area while another fails.

I wish to prosper in my life work. In my life as a whole.

How about you? What do you wish for your prosperity?


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Favorite Teachers

Mr. Haddaway

Mrs. Ikeda

Mrs. Weiland

Mrs. Kuhl

Penelope Moon

Mrs. Andelora

Mr. Haddaway (6th grade) who showed me history can be amusing. Ms. Ballew (10th grade) who told me to keep a daily journal during a 10 day trip to German in lieu of giving me the actual assignments I missed. I still have that journal. Ms. Wiland (11th and 12th grade) who was my favorite math teacher and who made it a homework assignment to help a family that our class adopted for Christmas. Ms. Kuhl (10th-12th grade) who taught me how to dance, but also gave me most of the confidence I have today. Ms. Moon (in college) who taught me what the heck women were doing during history since they rarely appeared in the textbooks. Ms. Andelora (college) who taught me to write about what I love rather than the usual, boring preassigned topics. She is the reason I am a writer now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Flecks #6


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

Things I learned this week:

  • Technology fails and so do the humans behind it. Be sure that what you think you set up to happen is actually happening. It never hurts to check in.

  • How to make sausage soup a la Chuck Wendig. That's right. The writer guy. And it was delicious. Chuck knows his soups.

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • I survived the mud run! (That's me up there crawling to the finish line.) Non-runner/non-adventure-seeker me attempted every single obstacle (all 25 plus) throughout the 3-mile course and I succeeded on nearly all of them. Maybe not so gracefully, but I did it. Am I proud of myself? Heck yeah! Do I need to do that ever again? Not so much.

  • Progress. I'm still working behind the scenes here on stepping into my life work. Hooray for small steps forward.

Things that are resonating with me this week:

Painting the Feminine: Protected by Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio. She is painting one piece per day for the month of November, all with the theme of "painting the feminine." I am loving this series and so far "Protected" is my favorite.

How to Feel Miserable as an Artist by Keri Smith as shared on Gwarlingo. All sorts of perfect how-not-to advice here.

The Awareness Link: 7 Focus Areas that Create Success by Christine Kane. Some obvious and some less so. All important.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interview: Henry S. Miller

It's time for a wonderstruck interview! Hearing other people's stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Please welcome Henry S. Miller, author of The Serious Pursuit of Happiness: Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive and Inspiration for the Pursuit of Happiness: Wisdom to Guide your Journey to a Better Life.


What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

Kindness. When I take time to really notice the actions of others around me, examples of everyday kindness are everywhere. It’s amazing, really, that we are all so similar in our personal lives, our goals, and our wishes for our children, yet so divided religiously, ethnically, nationally, and globally on almost everything else – except perhaps music, a great unifier. Plato said in 400 B.C., “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It was true then – and is still true today. I’ve found it’s easy and fun to be on the lookout for kindness opportunities – just small courtesies, really. I’ve noticed that when I do some kind act for someone else, I feel better than the receiver. Everyone is different, of course, but for me at least, these feelings seem to last longer than just the simple everyday savoring of things around me – although those can fill me with wonder also.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I’m actually grateful for every part of every day. After two cancers, I am under no illusions about the brevity of life. As any cancer survivor will tell you, the topic of mortality becomes more than just some intellectual exercise about some vague time way off in the distance. But simply being grateful to be alive has its benefits. Even just a few hours each week writing a Gratitude Journal on Sunday evening can increase feelings of happiness – and research has proven they can increase by up to 25% and can last for up to 6 months.

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

Mid-afternoons drag on some days. I’m filled with equal parts wanting to nap and work out. Fortunately, so far, working out is winning – although it’s definitely changed from running, to jogging, to fast walking, to walking – and I can see “strolling” in the future. But just “moving” is good. And, as we all know, just moving more: walking, running, swimming, dancing – whatever works for you brings a plethora of benefits.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

I wish I was able to be more conscious of simple, everyday moments. After all, I write about “savoring” all the time, but I find it quite difficult to practice. A few years ago, I decided to get serious about this “savoring” thing, so I was determined to spend 20 minutes outside while I had lunch savoring the clouds and the sky. I recall this vividly:  The first day, I got my lunch, went outside, sat down, began to eat, and looked up, totally focused on the sky and clouds. And, after a while, I thought: OK, I’ve got this. This is good. I can do “savoring.” Good for me. Happy, I looked at my watch. And it had only been three minutes.

For the record, I did keep at it and actually made it to double figures, but still found it so hard to intentionally savor consistently. But it’s OK. The research I’ve done says there are plenty of proven ways to think and act intentionally that will increase the amount of happiness we feel each day – and it’s true. So I spend my time doing those – and they work for me. Everyone is different, of course, so up to each of us to choose.

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

Simple! I am quite aware that we’re all here for such a short time, really. So my goal is just to share the knowledge of how to flourish and thrive with as many people as possible while I can so they can live the happiest and most fulfilling lives possible. The good news is that the scientific happiness and well being research is clear that working on making your own unique meaningful contribution to the planet – your “calling” – is one of the most powerful and long-lasting ways to increase the amount of happiness in our lives, so I’m taking full advantage of that strategy.

About Henry S. Miller:

Miller-cover-back-NEW.inddHenry is the President of The Henry Miller Group and author of The Serious Pursuit of Happiness: Everything You Need to Know to Flourish and Thrive and Inspiration for the Pursuit of Happiness: Wisdom to Guide your Journey to a Better Life.

Visit Henry at: for your FREE PDF of his Inspiration book and for his other FREE PDFs on Major Coping Strategies, Mastering Personal Change, Dealing with Burnout, and Global Trends in Wellness. To learn more, visit and

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Immersing Myself in My Life Work

Once again it's time to cast wishes with Jamie Ridler. This week she asks: What do you wish to immerse yourself in?

I wish to immerse myself in my life work. Not just life and not just work, but a careful intertwining that means I'm not merely getting by, I'm doing something meaningful.

I've started viewing what I want to do and how I want to spend my time as my life work. It means focusing on my core values including love, comfort, and safety- bringing them to myself and others.

It means paying attention to what needs paying attention to and understanding that changes from moment to moment.

In one moment it might mean focusing all of my attention on helping my toddler with a Donald Duck puzzle. In another moment it might mean focusing on writing a few paragraphs or speaking with a client.

There will be moments where I need to listen, participate, accomplish, cook, lead, follow, or rest.

Recognizing that all these moments, all these actions and activities, they all serve a purpose. They are all part of my life work.

How about you? What do you wish to immerse yourself in?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Flecks #5

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

Things I learned this week:

  • My judgment is a bit cloudy. I am registered for a 3 mile mud run with obstacles. It's tomorrow. I don't run.

  • Nature is rich and saturated with color here as leaves change and begin to fall.

  • Performing random small gestures of kindness for someone else lifts their day... and yours. (I dropped off hot chocolate and donuts to start my friend's day off right. She seemed to love it and my whole day was brighter.)

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • It looks like I'll be able to continue my annual family photo book in the same style as previous years! In the past, I've always created them through iPhoto on the Mac. This year I'm back to a Windows laptop (meaning no iPhoto). A bit of research indicated that iPhoto albums are printed via Now it's on my Windows computer and I'm building the album. Hooray for a unified set of photo books!

  • Wonderful clients. I have the best clients.

  • We had our first of what will be weekly family nights- everyone stays home and we do something together. This week it was a harmonica jam with my teenage stepson playing and my toddler skipping along behind him pretending to play music on a large lego piece. Then we snuggled in for a movie. So much fun!

Things that got my attention this week:

Accepting the Need for Hope by Sara McClellan wherein she says:
Why do so many kids seem oblivious to time and have “endless summers?” It’s because they are living right now, with an innocent hope for simple things and still willing to lean for their needs.

Yet another thing we can learn from children. To live in the now and be willing to be helped.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary's About page. And that she calls herself Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. She's on my list now. (You know... my reading list. Not that other kind of list. Oh, nevermind.)

Hey, it's okay to call me Chinese by Kevin Cheung, because political correctness gets out of hand sometimes.

San Francisco to Transform into Gotham for Boy's Batman Make-A-Wish. This is pure awesome.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Colors of Nature in the Fall

I am wonderstruck by the colors surrounding me everywhere I go. Fall is in full swing and it's gorgeous.


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What is it like where you are? Maybe you're on the other side of the world and are instead experiencing a spring awakening. What do you notice around you?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Allegiant Review (without spoilers)

2013-10-23 15.31.14

After loving Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, I preordered the final edition of the trilogy, Allegiant, as soon as I found it was available (I think that was May). Then I waited.

If you've seen the reviews or heard discussions about it, you probably know a lot of people are upset. While I wasn't completely thrilled with it (as I was with the first two), I still came away liking it overall.

Here are some of my thoughts, without spoilers. (If you have read it already and don't mind discussing it, see my other review with spoilers.)

Let's start with the tough parts.

The first thing that bothered me was where the book started. Divergent (the first book) had ended with some action resolved and some still underway, and Insurgent (book 2) picked up exactly sentence-for-sentence where Divergent left off. It was a straight continuation. We dove right into the action.

Insurgent also ended with some action resolved and some still underway (and kind of "Holy crap! What is going on here?"). With Allegiant, Roth had the opportunity to again step right in at the exact moment of action which would have propelled me the reader right back into the story.

Instead, she starts off a few days or a week after where Insurgent left off, then backtracks through narration to fill us in. Instead of starting with a bang, it ho-hummed me into the story.

The second thing that bothered me (also right off the bat) was the alternating points of view. Chapters alternated between Tris narrating and Tobias narrating, and I don't feel it was effective. This is partly because Tris and Tobias are often in the same place, so it's not necessary to split perspectives to get the whole story.

More importantly, Tris's and Tobias's voices are not different enough, so I often forgot who was narrating and got confused by a "he said" or "she said" (Wait… Who said? Who else is there? Oh right, we're in so-and-so's head now.)

Another problem I had was the awkwardness of Tris and Tobias. There was drama between them that I thought had previously been resolved and everything just felt awkward- from their dialogue, to the way they acted. It felt forced.

Yet with all that, I still liked the book overall. I liked the plot all the way through, more or less (the part about society and human behavior, not the Tris and Tobias drama).

I like that Roth proposes multiple theories about how society got to where it was in the book and where it could go from there. I like that she isn't afraid to shake things up and change things (Joss Whedon is known for this, too).

"I've heard the end is bad," you say? I liked it. I think it fits with the story. I'll say nothing more. When you're finished reading, you can go discuss over at that other review with spoilers.

So yeah, I read it and I liked it. Some things could have been done differently or written a little better, but I am satisfied with it. I think it's probably worth 3.5 stars out of 5 (unlike the 5 stars I gave the earlier two books).

If you've read the first two, I think this one is worth reading. Go in with a little bit lower expectations. Keep an open mind and enjoy the ride.

Out of respect for people who haven't read Allegiant yet, please keep your comments on this post vague. If you want to discuss particular plot points or get into the nitty-gritty, hop on over to that other review with spoilers and add you comments there.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Hard Conversation that Heals

I'm feeling renewed today- like a whole new woman. Or really, more like the old me.

Why? Because I had the hard conversation.

Sometimes that's what you need. To muster up the courage to say, "I'm not happy and here's why." Then to listen as the other person says, "Well, I'm not happy either and here's why."

To say, "What I really need from you is..." and then to listen as the other person says to you, "What I really need from you is... ."

Because it's about partnership. Give and take. Understanding the other person's needs as well as your own.

It's about letting all of the hurt come up and out so you can heal. Both of you. Together.

Because when the partnership is broken, nobody wins. And when the partnership is in harmony, you both soar. The people around you might even soar.

Because energy is that strong. And mine is renewed.

I'm soaring.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Flecks #4

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

Things I learned this week:

  • Halloween candy is expensive. Seriously.

  • We don't have a ghost. The rattling I heard this morning that sounded like it was coming from a cabinet in our foyer, was really the Beware sign blowing around on the outside of our front door. Phew!

  • What I like in specific web features. Behind the scenes, I am working on a web update with my cosmic crew. So exciting!

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • The end of the Divergent series! I finished Allegiant and will be posting my review next week (versions with and without spoilers queued up and ready to go).

  • A delightful call with a lovely new client. We clicked. I love that.

Things that are resonating with me this week (likely because I still need to learn them):

What Jennifer Louden said about giving privileged guilt the boot.

Erin Giles's list of 18 quotes that will inspire you to just… give (of your time, money or ya know, your life).

This video from Glennon of Momastery (you know I love Glennon!) about learning to show up without our capes (i.e. being real, no pretending and no barriers):

What are you learning and celebrating this week? Share your lessons and triumphs in the comments.