Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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).

Friday, April 25, 2014

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!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview: Susannah Conway

You know that book I raved about earlier this week? It was written by one of my favorite bloggers, Susannah Conway.

She's honest, she's open, and I love the way she sees (and photographs) the world. I took her Unraveling course last year and it was a great experience. Be sure to follow her links at the end of this interview to see more of her work.

After finishing Susannah's book I had to reach out to her to let her know how much I enjoyed it and I asked if she might be willing to be a wonderstruck interviewee. And you know what? She replied to that message with her answers. Incredible.

More and more I'm learning that sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Please welcome Susannah Conway.

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What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

My 4-year-old nephew. That I get to be his auntie is just the most incredible thing to me. I was there when he was born and every day I marvel at how much love and joy he has brought into all our lives. He’s the brightest star in my galaxy.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for the moment I wake up without an alarm. I spent many years following a more traditional career path and as a night owl I always struggled with getting up early in the morning. These days I’m blessed to be able to wake up when I naturally wake up. It’s something I will never take for granted.

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

The mid-afternoon slump tends to be a tricky one for me. I usually do something admin-y that doesn’t require too much brain power. Recently I’ve started going to the gym around 4pm and that seems to be working quite well — I definitely don’t need brain power for that, just willpower :)

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

These days I find I’m pretty conscious of most of my good and bad habits, so this might sound silly but I really wish I was more conscious of my reading glasses! I recently had a bout of eye strain and it was down to me using my iPhone too much and never taking off my reading glasses — I’d wear them around the house all day, even though I only need them to read. The eye strain was the wake up call to get into the habit of taking them off — it’s a work in progress.

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

I’ve kept a journal for the last 30 years and I use it to check in with myself and keep track of what I need/want. Everything I’ve created in my life started in my journal — the good and the bad! I have to do lists and goals and plenty of business-related projects I want to complete, but what’s really important to me is being as truthful as I can possibly be — in life and love — and that starts with my relationship with myself. My journal bears witness to everything and helps me unravel the knots that inevitably come along. I think we all need a place where we can be thoroughly ourselves and for me that’s my Moleskine notebook.

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About Susannah Conway:

Susannah Conway is the author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart (Globe Pequot Press). A photographer, writer and teacher, her classes have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 50 countries around the world. Co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids (Chronicle Books), Susannah helps others reconnect to their true selves, using creativity as the key to open the door. You can read more about her shenanigans on her blog at SusannahConway.com.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

This I Know - Ordinary magic in an extraordinary book

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There are a handful of books that I've read that leave me in a weird state when I'm finished: equal parts awe, inspired, ready to act, and like there is a void now that it's over that can't possibly be filled with any other book. These are the books I return to again and again to flip through and revisit. To curl up with like a dear friend.

This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart by Susannah Conway is one of those books.

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for almost a year. Not because I didn't want to read it, rather because every time I picked it up, it felt important. It felt like I needed to be in the right headspace. I could tell it wasn't a book I wanted to dabble in. I wanted to sink in wholeheartedly.

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Finally I knew it was time to pick it up, and I am so glad I did. This book is amazing. It's beautiful. It knocks on the doors of your heart, mind, and soul to see if you're paying attention to life. It makes you question if you really understand who, where, and why you are and if you are being gentle with yourself.

Chapter after chapter, through prose bordering on poetic, Susannah discusses grief, family, solitude, body image, and so many other things she had to understand in order to move forward in her life.

Sprinkled throughout her writing are her photographs - muted and compelling - telling their own version of her story.

I've been drawn to Susannah's work through her blog (including her Unraveling course which was fantastic!) and when I read This I Know, it became clear why her work resonates with me. In it she said,
I prefer to be the one behind the curtain, tapping away at my keys, walking through town with my camera, recording the ordinary magic I see.

Ordinary magic. Yes. All of her work oozes with ordinary magic. I love that.

I gave This I Know five stars on Goodreads (that's out of five possible stars, so you know I mean business). So yeah, put this on your to-read list.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flecks #21

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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:



  • Even if the calendar says it's spring, and even if you have an 80-degree weather day, it can still snow the very next day. I know. I'm confused by this, too. But it happened. We had a good inch of snow on the ground the next morning.


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Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • The Carry On, Warrior giveaway winner! Congratulations, Liv Rancourt! I will be sending you a copy of this great book by Glennon Doyle Melton. Check your email for a message from me.

  • New ink. Yep, this was the week. I'll be sharing the story and photos in a couple weeks after it has healed. (If you don't remember the back story on this one, be sure to check out my Word of the Year: Badass post.)

  • Spring blossoms!

  • Feathered visitors! The bird feeder reclaimed its status as the local hangout.

  • Spring break. I'm celebrating this one for my teenager who is thrilled to be on break starting today.


Things that are resonating with me this week:


I didn't get to do too much reading this week, but I saw this post and loved it... The Lie and Truth About Marriage by Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery.

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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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Makes a Long Marriage? (No, really. I'm asking.) - My Messy Beautiful

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Marriage, partnership, coupledom- whatever you want to call it, it's been on my mind a lot lately. This post will probably give you a glimpse of me that you haven't seen before. (Oh, and there's a giveaway at the end for those who make it through.)

I got married for the first time at 22. I was still in college and probably had no business making such a big decision. At the time I wasn’t even sure about my choice of majors. But we married and had some good times and some not so good times.

At 28 I decided it probably wasn’t going to work for the long haul and not-so-elegantly jumped ship. Being divorced is not something I like to think about, and nearly a decade later I still carry a lot of guilt.

My grandparents stayed together their whole lives- more than 60 years of marriage. And while my first marriage lasted longer than most celebrity weddings (probably combined), it was less than a tenth of my grandparents time together.

At 31 I married for a second time. My husband Jeff and I embraced our impulsive tendencies and exchanged vows in Rome. We were touring Italy for two weeks as a sort of combination elopement and honeymoon before returning home to a small ceremony and reception with family and friends (where we embraced our procrastinator tendencies by not signing a caterer until the day before our flight out).

Prior to our trip we had arranged (via email) an officiant and a date. That’s it. No place. No photographer. Nothing. Jeff and I are the kind of people that trust that things will work out. (I’m not endorsing that philosophy, just saying that’s how we roll.)

While driving from Sorrento to Rome the day before our scheduled ceremony, we called the officiant and asked, “Can we do this tonight instead?” Because why not get this show on the road already?

He said yes, so we turned to a couple in our tour van (Mike and Jordanne) and asked if they would be our witnesses and photographer and videographer. They got all excited and said yes.

When I came down to the lobby of our hotel, Mike and Jordanne surprised me with Gerber daisies. Little did they know that was my favorite flower. They just thought I should carry some flowers and they went in search of a corner stand to make it happen. Did we choose the right people or what?

The officiant and his coordinator came to pick us up and we began discussing location. The beautiful Borghese Gardens were nearby (well, I didn’t know they were beautiful until we arrived because we hadn’t been there yet) and we wandered until we found a spot Jeff and I liked, then we exchanged vows in tragic Italian. Why Italian? When in Rome…

Who knows what we even agreed to really. To this day we joke with each other: “Oh, you don’t remember that? It was in the Italian vows.”

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It was a beautiful, peaceful ceremony and somehow so perfectly imperfect that it suited us, well, perfectly. It turns out Jordanne had studied photography for a while and was super excited to try out my camera. Her photos were amazing. See? Things work out.

Now here we are with a teenager (my full-time stepson) and a toddler, and we're coming up on our six year anniversary- just the time when things reached their breaking point for me last time.

There are certainly days where we like each other and days where we don’t like each other very much. Days when we say things to each other that we wouldn’t say to people we don’t like. It’s hard.

There are days when I think maybe I’m bad at marriage. Then there are days where I think marriage must suck in general because there are so many couples who bicker with each other or make offhanded remarks to each other or spend excessive amounts of time outside of the home just to avoid each other.

Where are the happily married couples? Or at least the not unhappily married couples? Where are the people who get through the tough days knowing that there are enough good days to make it all worthwhile?

Because the good days are so good. There are days Jeff and I just click. Days when we make other people sick with our sweetness toward one another. Days where we put on music and dance around the kitchen while cooking together (and man, do I wish there were more of those days!). There are days where we giggle and smile and hold hands and make googly eyes.

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Somehow we keep showing up. We keep coming together. And maybe that’s what they mean when they ask you to be together for better or for worse (if they even said that in Italy- who knows).

I guess there will be good days and bad days. Maybe the key is to keep the balance tipped in favor of more good days. Jeff and I call it the credit/debit system. He has freely admitted there will be days when he will screw up and his goal is to build up enough credit to outweigh the debits. I definitely strive to do the same.

Maybe it’s the practice of coming back together day after day, racking up credit and acknowledging that there will be debit, that gets people to 60 years together. For now, I’ll keep taking it one day at a time and fiercely celebrate our soon-to-be six years.

Oh, and for the record, we returned to Italy with Mike and Jordanne in 2012 when they exchanged vows. I was their photographer and Jeff was their officiant.

See? Things have a way of working out.

Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project and Giveaway:

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — Learn more or join in at Momastery.com. Also, be sure to check out Glennon Doyle Melton’s Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback.

Now for some exciting news. Glennon has given me one paperback copy of Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life to giveaway to a Live Wonderstruck reader. So cool. I read this book when it came out in hardcover and it is one of my favorites. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads (and no, I don't hand that rating out lightly).

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Sorry for the scary picture. I promise I didn't eat the book.

Anyhow, to enter, simply leave a comment on this post by midnight (Eastern time) this Thursday, April 17. I will announce the winner in Friday’s Flecks post. I think I’ll select the name out of a hat this time (or more likely a bowl). Good luck!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Flecks #20

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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:



  • If a banana peel flies through the air and lands in your lap, you may need to watch your toddler more closely.

  • Our ducks have gotten brazen in their exploration of our yard, the neighbor's yard and, as of this morning, the neighbor's neighbor's yard. So... we need a fence or something I think.

  • That I don't need to have a vegetable garden area. That I can use some weird, slim strips of yard for "edible landscaping."


Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • A visit with my best friend. She drove four hours each way to see me last weekend (reason number 1,426,792 that she is awesome).

  • Feeling good.

  • Progress.

  • Spring weather!

  • Buds on the trees!

  • Beginning a new journal.

  • Newsletter and Wonder Seeker challenge sign-ups! Thank you to all wonder seekers! (Want in? Details and sign-up are here.)


Things that are resonating with me this week:



This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart by Susannah Conway. I started to write about it here, but I had more to say than I realized, so I moved it to its own post (coming soon).

For now I'll say that this has joined just a few other books that I consider to be amazing. I loved everything about it and will be revisiting it again and again.

soap box and {in.body} by Robin Sandomirsky at Soyala - A reminder to breathe and live and do at your own pace, not the one being set for you.

Little Girls, Get Up! Get Up and Eat by Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery - Our kids want us to be happy, not perfect or thinner or cooler. So what makes you happy? More of that please!

What We've Got to Tell Kids About Living Extraordinary by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience - Wherein she says, "The realest extraordinary is always found in the ordinary. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary when the eyes see the extra glory right here."

How to Come Back to Your Dream After Heartbreak by Victoria Brouhard - With this wisdom: "What allowed me to reconnect with my dream was being willing to let it go, and to put my own needs before the needs of my dream. (The truth, though, is that your dream’s number one need is for you to get what you need.)"

Alisha Sommer's writing process - Because sometimes as moms we have to squeeze it in where we can.

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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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Interview: Ksenia Closson

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.

This week's interviewee is Ksenia Closson, founder and publisher of Simply Happy Me, an online magazine devoted to fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

My daughter. She surprises me every day. She is genuine, clever, talented and wise. She is also sarcastic, but not intentionally. When I look at her I see my kid, but when I look at her actions I see a mature, intelligent person with her own thoughts and amazing skills.

For example, she loves making pancakes on the weekends. It’s kind of a tradition – making pancakes together as a family. On the weekdays I don’t have time, so we usually have a quick breakfast like cereal. She kept asking for pancakes on weekdays. One of these weekday mornings she got tired of waiting. She crawled into my bed at 7:00 in the morning saying: “I made the batter, you just have to bake the pancakes now.” My daughter is 6-years-old. You can imagine my surprise followed by my request to repeat what she said with one of my eyes still closed. She repeated it without blinking. I was speechless.

When I came downstairs, there it was – a bowl-full of pancake batter, perfectly whisked. It was a nice light shade of green. She explained she added food coloring to make it interesting. She can’t read directions yet, her reading is at Kindergarten level, so she made this by memory. Let me tell you those pancakes were better than mine- sweet, tasty and healthy. She used Agave syrup instead of sugar. Here is a funny thing, because she can’t read the ingredients labels, she added a dash of cumin to the batter instead of cinnamon (lol), but I couldn’t taste it. I was impressed. My eyes were tearing. I was wonderstruck.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

The night. It’s the only time I can be alone with myself. The night allows me to be truly creative and create something that comes from the inner me, without any distractions or the noise from the outside world.

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

Ugh! The mornings. I am not a morning person. (I am more like a grumpy bear awoken from a pleasant afternoon nap, haha).

How do I deal with my mornings? It depends on the night I had prior to the morning. If I had to stay up all night to meet a deadline, than waking up in the morning is rough. First I get a cup of strong aromatic coffee – trivial but makes a huge impact. I lounge on my beautiful sofa by an open window and enjoy a few breaths of crisp morning air. I feel good when my surroundings are pleasant. I lean back and do something that requires zero physical or mental effort - relax. I multitask constantly throughout the day. It can be overwhelming. This ritual allows me to gather my thoughts, acknowledge myself and think about my goals for the day. I like to plan major tasks and build my day like a puzzle. A few follow-up calls can be made out of the car, while I’m driving. Articles can be written at night. Serious tasks are done around midday when it’s everybody’s “go-go-go” time. There is a saying “If you want something done, give it to the busy person” – that actually works. Busy people tend to get in this mode when they are on a roll. So the more you give them, the more they will get done. I try to squeeze my interactions with people in those windows. It works wonders.

The other kind of mornings that I experience is when the deadline is met and my tasks become more of an administrative nature. Those days usually flow a little smoother. I try to avoid coffee on the mornings when I had enough sleep. I am a fan of yoga. If I went to bed in a decent hour, I am excited to attend a 6:00 a.m. session. It creates powerful results. Those days tend to be very productive. I can clearly see the difference between the days I started off with yoga and the days I didn’t. I wish I could do these sessions every day, but due to my busy schedule it is not possible. Sometimes I practice yoga by myself, but I feel that rejuvenation I experience after the class led by an experienced instructor is much more beneficial.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

Time. We all need more time.

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

Professionally speaking: I have an enormous white board in my office. It has my short-term and my long-term goals. Spreadsheets help too. I write down everything I think about. If I decided to write an article on a subject, I will write down a few words and create a catchy name for it. It will help me to define the direction of article in the future. Those little notes get filed in a particular folder, so I know where this article should go. If I see somebody I want to interview in a particular issue of Simply Happy Me, I will write their name down and add them to our editorial calendar.

Tracking helps to know where I am with the small goals and tasks. These small tasks support my big goals. Keeping my eyes on the details is what helps me see the bigger picture and how it’s coming along.

As far as my personal life goes: There is really no effort required. If something is important to you, your focus will be there. No work, no friends, no other kind of commitments are going to stand in the way. The most important thing in my personal life is my family. The rest naturally falls into place.

Ksenia-yogacropAbout Ksenia:

Ksenia has a positive outlook on life and a genuine interest in a healthy lifestyle. She is founder and publisher of Simply Happy Me, an online magazine devoted to fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being. She loves helping people to get answers and make better choices. She believes that happiness is the key to success.

Where to find Ksenia:

You'll find Ksenia at Simply Happy Me:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gray Day for Working on My Work

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Gray days are mood changing. Yesterday's gray had me feeling a little sad, a little introspective, and a lot sleepy.

Today's gray is different. Today's gray feels just the right amount of hunker-down-in-my-office-while-everyone-is-out-of-the-house-and-work-on-my-work. (Yes, I know I said "work" twice, but that's what I'm doing.)

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Because no one can do my work but me. And because I have a Wonder Seeker Challenge to polish. (If you don't yet know about the Wonder Seeker, seek the details and sign up here.)

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And if I get stuck, I can look out the window and watch Squackers and Buttons explore.

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How could a scene like that leave anyone feeling sad?

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I'm thankful for this space and for these precious quiet two hours of just me.

Wishing you a wonderstruck day and a moment of quiet with just you.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Growing Green Onions

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I heard you could re-grow green onions from your grocery store leftovers. It sounded easy enough, almost like magic.

Well, I've had people tell me things are easy before and it doesn't always turn out to be true for me. This, however, actually was super easy, so I'm sharing. Here is what you do:

Step 1: After using the green ends from your onions, take the leftover root parts and put them in a glass of water on your windowsill.

Step 2: That's it. There is no step two. (Okay, maybe step two is to change the water every few days. It will evaporate or be soaked up anyway, so you'll see it needs refilling.)

I did just that and here is what happened over the next week...

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That's all there was to it. Within one week of going in the water they looked nearly like what I originally brought home from the store.

Since then I cut them again to add to one night's dinner, then stuck them right back in the water. So far, they are growing again.

Perhaps re-growing green onions really is like magic.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Want Some Snail Mail?

I have this collection of cards that I go to when I want to send someone an impromptu note. I'm talking actual, physical, paper cards.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself to use my entire stash of cards by the end of the year.

In part, this goal helps me rid an overly full box (as the stash has grown faster than my taking from the stash has diminished it). Mostly though, I thought this would be a great goal to make sure I'm reaching out to people. To brighten someone's day with something pretty in the mail along with all those pesky bills and ads.

Here's the thing. Instead of sending cards repeatedly to the same few people (though I'm sure those people would be quite happy), I want to spread the cheer.

Would you like to receive some pretty snail mail? Yes, you! I would love to send you a note that doesn't ask anything of you, that doesn't require a response, that simply puts a little color and life into your mailbox. You deserve it.

If you think this sounds like a marvelously wonderstruck idea, drop a note in the comments below. DO NOT PUT YOUR MAILING ADDRESS THERE. That feels like a bad idea. Simply leave a little note to say, "Yes, please!" or whatever you feel like saying. I will email you to ask for your physical mailing address, then you can start watching your mail.

Also, I promise that I will not use your mailing address for anything other than this one little cheer delivery. You won't end up on some crazy list. You won't get any ads from me, nor will I share your information with anyone else. This is all about spreading some wonderstruck love.

 

 

Community Gardens

NOTES OF THINGS TO ADD..

I've joined a few meetings with a group at church that is interested in starting a community garden outside the church. We also have a food pantry and some were concerned that the people that come to the food pantry don't want fresh produce. The pastor has a different vision, though, which is to build a garden as a tool for learning. It could be a way for people to learn how to grow their own food, learn about the benefits of fresh food, and maybe even lead to some cooking classes.

I've grown a few gardens over the years and plan to grow one again this year. I don't know much about gardening. I get excited when I see plants at the home improvement store. I push my cart up and down the rows saying things like, "ooh... peppers, I like peppers. Let's try those," and, "how can there be so many kinds of tomatoes? I just need a big tomato and a little tomato. Umm... maybe these." I fill my cart with plants and sometimes seeds, too.

Then I go home, plant things, water frequently in the first two weeks, then less frequently as time goes on, then most of my tomatoes split or get eaten by some sort of wildlife, and I have more peppers than I know what to do with.

TED Talk by Ron Finley, guerilla gardener:

[ted id=1685]



WRITE MORE HERE

Flecks #19

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

This week on the blog has been so much fun for me! First, I want to thank Anna White for (1) giving me an early e-copy of her new memoir Mended to review, (2) doing a wonderstruck interview, and (3) offering another free ebook to one Live Wonderstruck reader.

THANK YOU, ANNA!

To see the winner, keep reading. (Hint: It's in the Things I'm Celebrating section.)

So, let's talk about this week.

Things I learned this week:



  • Feeling healthy (or at least healthy-ish) feels sooooo good.

  • Spring might actually be a real season. This week I've witnessed warmer temperatures, April rain, and buds on a few of my trees. You know what I haven't witnessed this week? Snow. Hooray!


Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • The Mended giveaway winner! Congratulations, Jenika Conboy! I will send you an email and put you in touch with Anna for your ebook. Enjoy! And thank you, Jenika, for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  • A dreaming & scheming session with that left me with answers, ideas, and a plan.

  • Healing.

  • Noticing.

  • Cuddling.


wonderseekerWhat's New:


Speaking of ideas and plans, I am starting up a monthly email newsletter with short and sweet wonderstruck inspiration to start your month off right. Want in? Look for the sign up at the top of my sidebar.

Speaking of signing up, if you sign up before the first edition in May, you will also get to join my new 3-day Wonder Seeker Photo Challenge for free. It's three days of prompts emailed to you challenging you to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes and share what you see on Instagram.

Things that are resonating with me this week:


Sorry Zuckerberg, I'm Giving You Up by Phoebe Hook. I just discovered Phoebe and her website this week and loved this post. Be sure to watch the video. It will make you think twice about picking up your phone. Ever.

How I Do My Business + Why by Jennifer Louden. She talks about boundaries, serving, platforms, and more. Her tips are short and honest. I love that.

In case you missed it...


My last "Doing Good" article for Grandmother Hen appeared last week. I love this series. The topic this time around was Doing Good: Wildlife Conservation.

I also had a few articles launch this week on Simply Happy Me including Make Your Body Happy: S-T-R-E-T-C-H!, a review of the book The Serious Pursuit of Happiness, and an interview with its author Henry S. Miller. You may remember Henry from his interview on Live Wonderstruck earlier this year.

Your turn:


What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Interview: Anna White

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.

Following on Monday's book review and giveaway post for Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith, today our wonderstruck guest is author Anna White.

Remember, we have a giveaway going on this week for a copy of Mended. To enter, leave a comment on Monday's post: Mended Book Review and Giveaway. But be sure to leave a comment here, too, to welcome Anna.

AnnaWhiteWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I drive my husband to work every morning and I am often wonderstruck by the rays of filtered morning sun shining through the dusky clouds and the dark little birds that are still clustered on the wires trying to sleep. This is a small thing, but it makes me smile every time!

What part of your day are you grateful for?

At the risk of sounding like bad-mommy, I am grateful when my kids finally go to bed. That means that I get to spend a little time by myself and with my husband and a bath or a book or a cup of tea or painting. Actually there a lots of things I'd like to do in this time-so many that I usually get overwhelmed and just go to sleep.

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

Mealtimes are tough for me. It's the whole planning, preparing, trying to serve something vaguely healthy, and then having the kids refuse to eat it. Or if they love it they channel cookie monster with a plate of cookies and it's crumbs flung over the entire floor. 3 times a day. Every day. I don't know how I move through it honestly. We've all survived mealtimes so far by the grace of God.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

I wish I were more conscious of the presence of God in our everyday lives. I write in Mended about thin places where God hovers near, but I know when I'm taking the time to focus on God and his calling for me I feel completely raw and thin all the time. It's hard to maintain that, but I know that is the realness behind it all.

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

I took a leave from my full-time job this year to stay home with my two preschoolers. I wanted to take time to focus on them and spend time with them without being exhausted. But now that I'm home, ironically, I'm still working, just on different projects and at different times. This has really shown me that I can't ever blame a particular job or circumstance for my lack of attention to what I say is important. I try to block out certain hours and times where I will be focused on them and on my husband. It is so easy to work, because I can control that. There's always a clear goal and an end and something to show for my time. Family, not so much. I have to remind myself to get a little uncomfortable and out of control with them.

About Anna White:

Anna is a recovering perfectionist that writes stuff, paints stuff, and spends way too much time on Twitter. Her passion is helping women embrace their imperfections and find meaning through creativity. She’s emotionally attached to her art supplies and loves making old things new.

Where to find Anna: