Friday, December 31, 2010

Word of the Year: 2010 Recap

For the past couple of years, I have chosen a word for the year. Where a lot of people make resolutions and often drop them before the end of January, a word brings about a different kind of awareness.

I learned of the idea from Christine Kane’s blog. The idea is to bring more awareness into your life about how you are living and how you want to grow. Rather than say "I will exercise more" and then beat yourself up for not doing that, you choose a word that embodies whatever it is you want more of in the coming year. It could be anything: ease, creativity, self-love, laughter, or clarity, for example. Then throughout the year you hold onto your word and, hopefully, realize that over time you are seeing a shift in your life.

In 2009, I chose the word "focus" to help myself break some nervous habits and to teach myself to devote my attention to the task at hand and not get distracted.

As that year came to a close, I started mulling over new words for 2010 and settled on "release" after being frustrated with an overflowing dresser drawer. What started off with me gathering things around the house for donation turned into me dropping things (quite literally releasing objects repeatedly) and, while still in January, I lost both my dog and my grandpa.

At that point in time I decided I wasn't ready for "release." It was too much too fast and I began to think about changing words.

I decided instead to go with "shine." This stemmed from a song my grandma and I used to sing when I was little: "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." It felt like it was time to let myself be me without apology, without trying to fulfill anyone else's expectations- just to truly shine in myself.

To a certain extent I think I've done that. I spent this year getting to know myself better and letting my true self come out for others to see. It has been an important step in my personal growth.

Now I'm looking forward to 2011 and what I want for the coming year. I have a new word for the new year which I will share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, did you choose a word this year? If so, what came out of it? You can read what happened for others at Christine's blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflecting on 2010



The year is drawing to a close very quickly, so I thought I'd look back and acknowledge what I was most thankful for in 2010. Check out my list at WorkingMother.com, then come back here and let me know what you are grateful for in 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wishcasting: New Year

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe and support others' wishes. Today Jamie asks, "What is your wish for the New Year?"

I've been choosing my Word of the Year for 2011 which I will explain in more detail in coming days, so today's question is relatively easy for me to answer. I wish for happiness in the new year. Lots and lots of happiness for me, my family, and you as well. May you find joy and love in unexpected places.

What is your wish for the new year?

Time for a Big Girl URL

It's time to try something new. I've been blogging for nearly four years now. It started with a little Blogger blog called Life After Web. Then I added a Wordpress blog called On a Lighter Note. Then I decided two blogs were too much, so I combined the two into the Wordpress location and retitled it Life After Web.

Two or three years ago I bought the URL lifeafterweb.com. Since then I've used it as a playground to try out a little web code here and there and for the past year it has been sitting there as some sort of odd landing page with no real purpose.

I never bothered to move my blog there because Wordpress.com wouldn't let me redirect my old URL and I was afraid that you, my wonderful friends and readers, might think I got lost. If all goes well, a redirect is now possible and working.

Life is changing a lot for me these days. That being said, it's time to make some changes to my blogging as well, so I am finally putting to good use the URL I purchased so long ago. It's time for a big girl URL.

From now on, you will be able to read this blog at www.lifeafterweb.com. I hope you'll come visit the new space and let me know what you think. I've imported all my old posts, so you'll still see the same content you've always seen, just in a shiny new wrapper. Please be sure to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds.

The design may still change some and the platform may also (for the time being, it's in Blogger), but this is what is right for now.

I hope you will find the new space to be a comfortable place for you to visit, like the living room of a good friend where you know you can prop your feet up and restore your soul. I'll get the hot cocoa ready.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, which to me brings one of the most magical nights of the year. Friends, feasting, and a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas are on our agenda this evening. I hope that this day brings you magic as well.

In the words of SheDaisy in one of their Christmas songs, "the secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through." I wish for us all to remember that now and in the coming year.

May your holiday be warm, merry, and bright.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wishcasting: Winter Wish

Wishcasting




Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes and support others' wishes. Today Jamie asks, "What is your winter wish?"

This one didn't take me long actually. With my baby son due near the end of January, I wish for a smooth final month of pregnancy, an easy delivery, and a graceful entrance to motherhood. I wish to embrace our new addition, to continue to support and be supported by my husband and stepson, and to ensure I remember to make time for myself.



What is your winter wish?

Thankful




While wishing it also seems appropriate to take a minute to reflect on what I am thankful for. Today I am thankful for the cheerfulness of Christmas decorations. For lights and trees and stockings and garland and wreaths. I am thankful for the time I will get to spend with my husband and stepson in the coming week and I am thankful to be fortunate enough to have my current big decision be what we will eat on Christmas day. We are truly blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Experiment: Will Anyone Get Up for a Pregnant Woman?

I was at the mall this weekend finishing up a little Christmas shopping. My husband and stepson were there also and we split up for a bit because my stepson wanted to shop for me. (So sweet and thoughtful!) We made arrangements to meet up in front of a particular store an hour later, which worked out nicely because there was a row of three couches there.

I got to our meeting spot about 10 minutes early, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to rest my feet. After all, I'm now eight months into this pregnancy and carrying around much more weight than I'm used to. When I got there, however, all of the seats were full.

Now I'm not the type to ask people to get up and I was content to stand while I waited, but I also thought it would be a good opportunity to run a little experiment to see if anyone would offer up a seat to the pregnant woman.

I positioned myself at the end of the row where most everyone sitting would be able to see me and I set my bags on the ground. I should add that I was wearing leggings and a fitted sweater, so unless someone thinks I actually swallowed a basketball, it is very obvious that I am very pregnant.

Let's also consider that this is Christmas time, generally a time of year when people may be feeling more generous.

So what do you think happened?

Did any of the four men occupying one couch get up? No. A few of them made eye contact, but that was it.

Did any of the women occupying another couch get up? No. Some of them didn't notice me at all, though one made eye contact and looked away.

But here's the kicker... did the woman closest to me, who had her packages on the couch next to her offer to move her packages so I could sit? No.

Seriously.

Honestly, I was surprised, especially when it comes to the woman who took up seating with her shopping bags. How sad that courtesy and compassion has sunk this low, particularly at a time of cheer.

After 5 or 6 minutes, someone got up to leave and I took their seat. Incidentally, it happened to be the seat on the other side of the shopping bags. And yes, I smiled at the woman across her shopping bags. Not a nasty, sneering smile, but a genuine smile. And I felt really good about it.

Now let me restore your faith in humanity a little bit. After meeting back up with my husband and stepson, we went to Brookstone where between my belly, the bags I was carrying, and the mass of people in the store, I found it difficult to maneuver the small aisles, so I found a somewhat out of the way spot to stand while my men went to browse.

I was standing there for probably two minutes when a Brookstone employee came over and asked if I'd like to sit in the massage chair. She explained that we couldn't run the chair since I'm pregnant, but she welcomed me to rest as long as I would like.

Maybe kindness isn't dead yet.

What do you think? Have you experienced or witnessed any seat offerings for pregnant women, the elderly, or otherwise?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Small Wins and Yummy Treats

I just made Rice Krispy treats for the first time ever. Seriously.

It's probably one of the most cliche desserts and the commercials always spoke of how easy it is to make them. So why have I never made them? I was afraid of working with gooey sticky melty marshmallows. I couldn't envision that going well.

And yet today, I felt compelled to brave the Rice Krispy treat. I survived melting marshmallows, survived pressing sticky treats into a pan, and they are now cooling in the refrigerator.

Hopefully they'll be delicious. I'm still scared to cut them. Haha!

What silly little fear can you tackle this weekend?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pause Before Reacting

I've been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which follows her journey through a year of trying various happiness resolutions.

The biggest lesson I'm getting from the book isn't necessarily her particular resolutions, rather it is to stop and think before reacting in a situation.

Throughout the book Gretchen gives some examples of irritating moments in daily family life.Like when her kids are bickering or when she or her husband are in a bad mood. You know those times.

What I've found intriguing is that due to her happiness project, she was sometimes able to pause in that moment before reacting to look at things from a different point of view, then react more creatively.

It's easy to yell or join the bickering or get defensive or say something resolutely to the moody party like, "then just fix it." In her moments of pause, however, Gretchen had the presence of mind to realize how she would normally react and realize that such a reaction may not solve the problem or may even add more stress to the situation.

For example, when she found her two daughters arguing and crying, she marched to their room and almost told them to "knock it off" or some other such parentism. But she didn't. She stood in the doorway, realized that probably wouldn't actually make them stop, and instead said something like, "Crying always makes me thirsty. I'm going to get you girls some water." Soon they were all in the kitchen drinking water and Gretchen even got her girls to laugh.

Wow.

So that's the sort of mindfulness I'm trying to bring into my own life now. When I feel a gut reaction rising, I'm pausing (when I remember to) to ask myself if whatever I was about to say will actually help the situation. If the answer is no, I'm taking another minute to get creative with my responses.

When my husband gets yet another work call on a night or weekend, rather than what has become my standard reaction (a huff or rolling my eyes or asking, "seriously?"), I'm trying to be more mindful of the fact that he's just as irritated about the interruption as I am. It doesn't help to have me adding my annoyance to the situation. Instead, I try to give him a sympathetic look as if to say, "I know it stinks that you are stuck working during free time."

Or like yesterday, when my stepson came home from school hyper and without saying hello told me he was going to a friend's house, my gut reaction was to say something like, "Not even a hello? Just 'you're going to so-and-so's house? You didn't ask our permission. What other homework to you have? What about chores?"

Instead, I paused. I realized a stream of questions and parentisms wasn't going to make for a lighter mood. I also realized that my stepson often says he has plans that turn out not to go through and this might just be another kids-talked-at-school-but-didn't-run-it-by-parents-yet situation.

Having that moment really helped. From there we had a discussion about the school project for which he is partnered with the aforementioned friend and what they need to accomplish together. We talked about the good grade he got on a quiz and we discussed what homework he had. I asked him if his friend had spoken to his mother yet, to which the answer was no. So I sent him on his way to carry about his afternoon and asked him to get back to me when he had talked to his friend and to please let me know what time he would want me to drive him over and what time he needed to be picked up.

No bickering. No struggle. And you know what? The plans never materialized, so had I gotten worked about it in the beginning, it would have all been for naught anyway.

That Gretchen sure is onto something.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Firefox Cam

screenshot of Firefox camera siteGet ready for some serious cuteness.

The folks at Mozilla are promoting their Firefox web browser with a live feed of firefox cubs. You can watch the cubs play on the jungle gym, enter a contest to name the cubs, and help them earn a new special treat (currently grass flats) by downloading the browser.

The site itself is beautiful and watching baby animals play is always uplifting. What better way to cozy up a crisp, cold Friday?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful to be Healthy Again

You know how after you've been sick, there is one day that you realize you are better? Of course it can be a slow process so you may have a few days where you progressively feel a little better than the day before. But there is one day that you realize you are buzzing around with normal energy and it dawns on you that you feel great. Not just great, but the kind of huge great you can only feel after being sick. You know what I mean?

Today is that day.

I'll spare you the details, but Monday I woke up nauseous, had a really rough 24 hours, then Tuesday started to recover. Wednesday I was really tired and had no energy whatsoever. Even just walking a few steps left me winded.

Today, however, I'm back. I just realized it. I woke up at 7:00 and have been steadily getting things done all morning. I even hauled my Christmas packages to the post office and went on a grocery run. While carrying the groceries in to the house, I realized I'm better. Hallelujah.

These are the kind of days when you swear you'll never take your health for granted, even though eventually you probably will, until you find yourself sick again and realize "I don't truly appreciate those healthy days."

So today I'm appreciating my health. With all my body and mind, I am thankful for my health. So thankful. Thankful for my energy. Thankful for my ability to eat and drink.

And I'm so so thankful for my husband who took the very best care of me and never left my side.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Put the Cell Phone Down

I'm a big fan of the Rose is Rose comic strip. I particularly liked last Sunday's edition. What a poignant reminder to put the technology down and really pay attention to what is around us.

Rose Is Rose

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Ellen Does for Happiness

With the blogging break I took for much of the Fall, I've missed a bunch of Happy Book Fridays. Not this week! Jamie led The Happy Book group to page 96 to an exercise called "What would Joan Jett do?"

The book asks us to think about who our idol is and what we imagine that person does to be happy. I chose Ellen DeGeneres whom I've adored from her early stand-up days, through her TV show and movies, and now to her talk show. She seems happier now than ever, so I think she's a great choice for this exercise.

To be happy, I think Ellen DeGeneres would...


  • dance


  • laugh


  • give a gift


  • tell a joke


  • surprise/scare people with silly pranks


  • play a game


  • spend time with her wife, Portia


  • invite friends over for dinner


  • listen to music





I'm going to see if I can put some of these into practice in my life and pay attention to how my own happiness is affected.

Thankful




In keeping with my daily gratitude practice, today I am thankful for a calm day- free of wind and obligations. I am thankful for my husband treating me to a package of Pecan Swirls even though he can't stand them. I am thankful for Jamie Ridler whose positive spirit is so inspiring. She dreams big and encourages all of us to do the same.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shining

Yesterday while supporting others wishes, I came across this post at Dashboard Hula by Shari Sherman. There were so many things about this post that resonated with me.

First, her name is Shari. No matter the spelling, I'm always excited to find kindred Sherri's out there. I love my name. It has always felt magical, though I can't pinpoint exactly why.

Moreso though, was her mermaid artwork (click through to her post to see it). She created a beautiful mermaid with lots of green and hints of pink (my two favorite colors) and adorned her with the message "Let your light shine."

Perfect. Just perfect! I've been working on letting my light shine. I decided to make my theme word "shine" earlier this year as a reminder to be myself. Not to try to emulate anyone else, but just to let the real me shine for the world to see. I even got myself a purse and emblazoned it with the word "shine" to keep the message fresh in my mind. (Yes, it's from Thirty-One because I'm a little obsessed with their awesomeness. It's called the Demi Purse: $29 with multiple print choices. Add embroidery for $6. You can find it on my Thirty-One site or email me at lifeafterweb at gmail dot com for more info.)

[caption id="attachment_1474" align="aligncenter" width="249" caption="My "shine" purse"]"shine" purse[/caption]

Finally, I liked that Shari identified herself as a turtle person and is learning to work with that essence of herself, rather than try to fight it to be something else. I think learning to be ourselves and work with our strengths is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.

Thankful




Continuing my effort to return to daily gratitudes, today I am thankful for my friend's baby born Tuesday morning, his health, and hers as well. I am thankful that though I am unable to visit her since she is in a different state, I have another friend who did go visit her and report back to me on the cuteness and well-being of both baby and new mom.

Wishcasting: Go Slow

Wishcasting




Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday again where Jamie Ridler invites us to cast our wishes and support others' wishes. Today Jamie asks, "Where do you wish to go slow?"

This question stumped me. Go slow? I have a baby due in 8 weeks, in-laws still living in what is supposed to be the baby's room, baby supply shopping to do, Christmas shopping to finish, gifts to ship across states, and Christmas decorations to put up. Meanwhile I'm getting bigger, slower, and less flexible by the day. Aaaaah!

So that is exactly where I wish to go slow. I know that my in-laws have a couple prospects for moving (this part I hope goes fast), so I am trying to trust that this will happen and the baby's room will soon be vacant for us to clean, paint, assemble furniture, and prepare for our baby's arrival. My husband hopes we can do that during the week between Christmas and New Year's.

I wish to slow down and enjoy the process of the holidays. I love decorating for Christmas and there is no rush. It's only December 1st. There is plenty of time to slowly unpack and carefully place nutcrackers, garland, and ornaments in the coming weeks.

I have already wrapped a few gifts that I purchased early. I just received a shipment of gifts I ordered online, so I can leisurely wrap those over the next week and prepare them to ship to my friends and family. There is time. I can go slow and enjoy this over time, rather than needing to rush and get it all done in one day. And yes, I still have some gifts to figure out for my husband and stepson, but it will come to me if I slow down and lessen the pressure on myself to get it figured out and finished now, now, now.

I just need to remember that I started early so that I wouldn't feel rushed. I can go slow with the remainder of my Christmas preparations. And honestly, no one will likely notice or care if it doesn't all get done.

Slow. Deep breathe.

Thankful




Yesterday I wrote about my desire to return to a practice of daily gratitudes. So here we go.

Today I am thankful that I did my Christmas cards early for the first time ever. They are stamped and ready to go. I am thankful for the ability to create photo books in iPhoto, for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and for my washer and dryer. (Seriously. It frees me up to do other things while my clothes are being washed. How smart is that?)

December Special




[caption id="attachment_1456" align="alignright" width="230" caption="December 1/2 Price Offer"]December 1/2 Price Offer[/caption]It's a new month, so I have a new Thirty-One special to share!

During the month of December, for every $31 you spend, you can purchase one of the following items at half-price: flat iron case, hard case wallet, or mini on-the-go organizer. It's a great way to get a little extra something for yourself or add to a holiday gift (for example, buy a purse and get the half price wallet to make it extra special).

See the December flyer for details, then start shopping at my Thirty-One site. You'll find purses, organizing totes, weekend totes, baskets, and all sorts of gift-giving goodies. If you have any questions, email me at lifeafterweb at gmail dot com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful

With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas coming quickly, I've been thinking about the things I'm thankful for. Sure we all think about those things on Thanksgiving, but how often do we take time to acknowledge the good stuff on a regular day?

Off and on in the last few years I've written daily gratitudes in my journal- just listing a few things that I was thankful for each day. It helps me focus on the good instead of dwelling on the hard. It's a practice I've fallen out of lately and it feels like it's time to bring it back.

As I blog here, you may see me add a "Thankful" section in my posts to encourage me to give thanks for blessings big and small.

To kick things off, today I am thankful for the "love ya's" and "miss you's" and "love and friendship" that my friends use to close their email messages. I am thankful for the kicks and movements and wiggles that my baby does which let me know he's okay in these final months of pregnancy. I am thankful for Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project, which I took way too long to buy, but from which I am gaining so many ideas on the simple things I can do to increase my own happiness and that of those around me.

In Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Amy Krouse Rosenthal includes an entry called "Thankful" that includes some conventional and not-so-conventional gratitudes:

I'm thankful for my health, my childhood, and spell-check. I'm thankful for our new hot water tank and how we no longer have to coordinate our dishwashing with our bathing. I'm thankful for the wide range of flavors potato chips come in--mesquite barbecue in particular.



What are you thankful for today?

Redecorating, Big and Small

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was rearrange my room. Every time I got bored with status quo, I'd move my furniture around to give the same old stuff a fresh look.

That hasn't stopped. My husband and I usually complete one or two projects per year around the house. Earlier this year we redid our family room by pulling up carpet, laying hardwood, and swapping our living room couch for the leather sectional that was in our basement.

This summer my husband decided he wanted to try growing grapes, which turned into his desire for an arbor for them to grow on. Thanks to his "go big or go home" philosophy he built a huge (as in HUGE- like the size of a large room) arbor in our backyard complete with solar light caps on the top.

With the baby due in just two short months, we're trying to plan the nursery despite the fact that my in-laws still occupy that room. Hopefully they'll be moving on soon, but in the meantime we have a crib in the dining room waiting to be moved upstairs and assembled. In our upstairs hall, we have an old rocking chair, some hand-me-down clothes, and a few other items collected from around the house. And our office holds the baby shower gifts from our loving friends and family.

One thing we still needed was a dresser/changing table. We also had been looking for more grown-up furniture for our 13-year-old who is quickly outgrowing his bunkbed and child-size dresser. These were the challenges we undertook this weekend and I'm happy to say that in one long (read lots of walking, note-taking, backtracking, stopping for food, more walking, hauling, etc.) trip to IKEA, we accomplished it all plus some other nagging little decorating tasks.

The baby's dresser (to double as a changing table) is now, well, still sitting in the minivan in boxes because we have nowhere to put it yet.

My stepson's bunkbed and dresser are now in our dining room awaiting a buyer, while his room is now furnished with a full-size bed, a desk, and a proper size dresser that actually holds his clothes.

We also found new beige linen curtains to replace the heavy, brown velvet ones that were in our living room. Between the dark floor and dark furniture, the dark curtains made the room feel like a cave. Now it's light and inviting and it only cost us $30. Completely worth it.

Even though some of the house is still in disarray, some of the house is feeling new and fresh. There is a new energy wafting through our home and I love it.

On a somewhat related note, if you are looking for pretty ways to get organized or if you want to holiday shop for the amazing women in your life, check out the totes, purses, bags, baskets, and such on my Thirty-One site. If you place your order before November runs out (meaning today or tomorrow), you can get a free zipper pouch for every $31 you spend. Add item 3045 to your cart last and choose from one of these prints: Peacock Paisley, Paparazzi Dot, Boho Patchwork Paisley, Onyx Medallion, Floral Fanfare.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo Shoot Fun

When it comes to photography, often my favorite shots are the unexpected ones that present themselves when you're not expecting it.

Yesterday I decided to photograph my Thirty-One bags to share with people who are geographically distant from me as I launch this new business.

I had some time and the sun was casting a bright glow in my home office, so I found a cream colored sheet and make-shifted a photo studio. I played around with various items and groupings and soon I was on a roll getting nice shots like these...

[caption id="attachment_1421" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cinch Sac"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1422" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Demi Purse and Silk Scarf"][/caption]

Not too shabby. So off I went photographing different bags, blankets, purses, and totes and then this happened...

[caption id="attachment_1423" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Romeo pouncing next to Thermal Totes"][/caption]

That is Romeo. He is pouncing on something. Or nothing. He's a cat. He does that kind of thing. And he's not ashamed about it. I think he rather liked the spotlight.

[caption id="attachment_1424" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Romeo still sitting with the thermal totes"][/caption]

He soon moved along and I returned to my photo shoot. And then this happened...

[caption id="attachment_1425" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My hubby taking his turn in the spotlight"][/caption]

Oh dear.

[caption id="attachment_1426" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My hubby... still enjoying his turn in the spotlight"][/caption]

You don't fight these things. You just keep snapping pictures. Even when the cat returns again. Photographic gems often turn up when you least expect them.

[caption id="attachment_1427" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Romeo"][/caption]

In the end I managed to complete my photo shoot and put together this collage...



Not to mention I got some great shots of my husband and feline friend. All in a day's work.

You can check out my Thirty-One business here: www.mythirtyone.com/sherrihutchins/. Shop online or contact me to find out how to host an online catalog party and earn free stuff and discounts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wishcasting: Enjoy

Wishcasting badgeIn today's Wishcasting Wednesday question, Jamie asks "What do you wish to enjoy?"

I wish to enjoy life. To find the joy in any given moment. To enjoy time spent with my family and friends. To notice the beauty in my surroundings. To take pride in what I am doing, even if today I am doing laundry.

Life is not just the spectacular moments or the tragic moments, rather it is all moments. I wish to enjoy life's moments, big and small.

dandelion

Monday, October 25, 2010

Best Friends

I have several best friends. I suppose that's a contradiction simply because we are told there can only be one "best." Tough! I'm not willing to cut any of my best friends from the "BFF" list.

These particular friends come from different eras of my life - middle school, high school, college, jobs - but they all have some common traits. They are funny. They are smart. They are amazingly supportive of everything I do, big or small. They love to laugh. They read my War and Peace length emails and respond point by point. They share their triumphs, their failures, and the funny thing that happened on their way home from work.

I don't know what I would do without these wonderful women in my life. This morning as I sit in a quiet house while everyone is still asleep (yes, this is a rare time of day for me to be active), I am reading some of my favorite bloggers. Christine Kane has written a post that beautifully captures the best friend relationship. Read it here: BFF Rules: How to Create Unbreakable Friendships with your Best Gal Pals.

And to my best friends... thank you for being you and for sticking with me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wishcasting: Fly Free

Wishcasting badgeIt's late as I write this. Before heading to bed though, I wanted write what I've been musing over with today's Wishcasting Wednesday question. Jamie asks "What do you wish to fly free from?"

Constraints. My own preconceived notions. The fear they instill that prevents me from trying something new.

Why do I talk myself out of things? I'll be excited about something then overthink it to death until it's something that I can't do, shouldn't do, or aren't capable of doing. And then I wonder why I find myself in the same place all the time. Who says I can't, shouldn't, or aren't capable? Sadly, the answer is usually me.

Not today. Today I'm moving forward with something I've been thinking about. I'm selling the beautiful, functional, so-perfect-for-organizing products at Thirty-One. It's direct sales, a concept that frightens me to no end. It sounds so icky and my inner gremlins question what business I have being a saleswoman. But I love their stuff and I want to try being a consultant.

After lots of "this would be fun... but no, I couldn't possibly... but maybe I could... yeah, right (scoff)... but what if I suck at it..." banter, I weighed the pros and cons and decided there is very little risk to me. Besides if it turns out not to be fulfilling, I can choose to end this adventure.

Did you catch that? This is my adventure. I decide when it starts and when it ends.
There are no rules saying I must forever continue everything I ever do. I want to free myself of these so-called rules and free myself to try whatever interests me.

No guilt. No obligation. Just me catching the wind and learning to spread my wings.

You can visit my new Thirty-One site at http://www.mythirtyone.com/sherrihutchins.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Embracing Rain and Myself

For the past nine weeks I haven’t been working. My contract ended and I didn’t take on any new work because I wanted to spend the last few weeks of summer with my stepson. Also, I have a baby on the way so let’s face it, seeking full-time employment seems kind of difficult when in a few more months I plan to stay at home anyway.

Facing a period of unemployment I envisioned all the grand things that would fill my days: adventures, writing, yoga (read more about that in my post at WorkingMother.com). Now I’ve realized that nine weeks have passed and I haven’t done much of any of those things.

It just dawned on me that it was raining outside and I was missing it. I love the rain. Okay, a lot of people I’ve come across don’t necessarily understand that, but it’s true. I love how peaceful the world becomes in the rain. I love how clean everything looks as dirt is washed away. There is something about the rain that makes the world smaller and cozier to me.

We haven’t had much rain this year so when I really paid attention to the fact that it was raining, I felt sad for missing it. And for what? TV and to do lists. This is not what I want for myself.

So I am consciously making a shift. I opened two windows just enough to hear the rain fall. I’m sitting by one of the windows with the blinds and curtains pushed out of the way so I can enjoy the view. A gentle breeze is sweeping across me as I sit here to write.

Did you catch that? To write. With the rain outside my window. How glorious.

Is there anything you might be missing today? If so, please pause for just a moment and figure out what it is you want to do right here, right now. Don’t let another day go by.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Friday: Photo Scavenger Hunt

Look at all the happy I found this week, even amidst my own grumbliness. It makes me want to cheer.

Jamie sent us Happy Book participants on a photo scavenger hunt for things that depict the following words: circle, tree, smile, sparkle, heart, clean, treasure, red, fresh, sky, yum, toes, morning, and home.

These were my finds:



The circles were left behind after I moved potted grape vines to their new in-ground location by an arbor my husband has been building this summer.

The tree is a waist high oak that started a year ago from the tiniest, most pathetic looking stick I've ever seen. We weren't sure it would survive, but it's been growing strong.

Smile felt like a self-portrait was in order. I almost used my growing belly as circle, too!

Sparkle comes from my magic wand, given to me by an old colleague who thought it might help me solve all those "need it yesterday" requests.

Yesterday I opened the windows and let the breeze air out our home, so the blowing curtains represent clean.

At the zoo last weekend I was lucky to capture a photograph of a mama and baby giraffe sharing a moment together. This perfectly encompassed treasure in my mind.

Red and morning are represented by the hummingbird feeder on my deck. Each morning when I'm eating my breakfast, the hummingbirds are having theirs, too.

I doubled up again for fresh and yum after collecting produce from the local farmer's market and grocery stores. Is there anything better than fruit in the summer?

The sky was a beautiful mix of cheerful blue and ominous gray yesterday as wind moved in and cooled the air.

And yes, those are my toes happily propped up enjoying a peaceful moment.

Our well-worn doormat in the shape of home plate is the first thing that greets us and our guests as we enter the house.

Last but not least, I drew the center picture a few weeks ago using pastels to show the love I feel for this new little bundle of happiness growing inside me. I gave him a big heart because, well, isn't that what we all want for our children? Hopefully all this happiness is rubbing off on him.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wishcasting: Less

Wishcasting badgeOn this glorious Wishcasting Wednesday, Jamie asks, "What do you for less of?"

I have so many answers to this, but they pretty much all condense down to three things: stress, negativity, clutter.

For me clutter is the easiest of these to reduce. I go through waves of massive declutter several times a year. No matter how much I get rid of, it seems I can find more to clear out soon after.

The stress and negativity are a little harder to tackle. It's other people's negativity that causes a lot of my stress, so those two kind of go together. I'd be fooling myself if I thought I was negativity free, though, so I also have to include myself in that.

Since I can't change other people, the best I can do is try to avoid negativity in myself. Where other people's negativity is concerned, I can make a concerted effort to change the subject or walk away.

As for stress, making quiet time to be alone, even for just 15 minutes each morning and night can make a world of difference. That's why my wish last week was to begin a ritual that would help me do just that.

Jamie sure knows how to pose questions in a meaningful order! What do you wish for less of?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Book Challenge - Mascot Magic

In the first Happy Book shake-up challenge posed by Jamie about a week ago, we were to choose a mascot and photograph it along our weekly travels.

I chose to use my doll from a set of four doll Christmas ornaments I gave to my closest friends last Christmas. Unfortunately I didn't do too much photographing of her last week, but I did manage to take a couple of photos.

Once at Chick-fil-a with their tasty lemonade...

doll with Chick-fil-a lemonade

...and another day at my husband's softball game. Here she sits on the game ball in my bag chair.

doll with softball

What I thought most remarkable, however, was what happened at the end of the week. This weekend we went to the Philadelphia zoo with some friends. I was looking at some animal or other when one of my friends said, "Wow! A butterfly just landed on you! They must really like you." Still trying to process what I just heard, I turned to my husband and caught sight of the butterfly just on the back of my shoulder.

The remarkable thing is that the butterfly is my kindred animal spirit. You might say the butterfly is my actual mascot. And there one was just resting on my shoulder. I felt like Cinderella.

butterfly on Sherri's shoulder

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Good Food, Fun Art, and Words of Wisdom (all from a little tex-mex joint)

Finding decent Mexican food has been a challenge since leaving Arizona for New Jersey almost 7 years ago. Today I was excited to stumble across a hole-in-the-wall wonder called Tijuana Flats in the middle of a bland looking shopping center. I'm almost sad I haven't encountered this little franchise before.

My lunch was delicious, but I was even more captivated by the decor. Visit the Tijuana Flats website for a taste of their bright comic book atmosphere.

A manifesto adorned one wall and all of the tables proclaiming their "anything goes approach to food, wall art, hot sauce & life in general." Among their words of wisdom were these little gems (in no particular order)...



  • Embrace the strange & unexplained, if at first you don't understand it, maybe you never will


  • Next time, order a chimichanga just because it's fun to say


  • Lighten up or leave


  • Accept all kinds of people, even those that use mild sauce





I'm betting they're right when they say, "we don't like to brag, but there's a good chance we'll be seeing each other again."

[caption id="attachment_1362" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Tijuana Flats manifesto"]Tijuana Flats manifesto[/caption]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wishcasting: Begin

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else's wishes with positive energy.

Today Jamie asks, "What do you wish to begin?"

I wish to begin a daily ritual, either in the morning or at night (or both!). Something quiet and calming to get myself in a good state of mind.

On Monday I started my day with tai chi which left me feeling peaceful, yet energetic- ready to take on the world. I haven't done it since and I'm not sure why. It might be a good way to start each day.

Last night, I spent about 15 minutes washing my face and putting lotion all over. I felt clean, refreshed, and relaxed- ready to ease into bed.

Making one or both of these things a daily ritual seems like it would make my life richer and they're really not that hard to do. Now the challenge becomes finding the dedication to keep these appointments with myself.

What do you wish to begin?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunflower

No words today. Just a photograph I took at a friend's house over the weekend. Wishing you a calm, pleasant Tuesday.

sunflower

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happier Life Dreamboard

It felt like a dreamboard kind of day, so I pulled out a stack of magazines and my craft supplies to put down on paper what was swirling around in my brain. The final board looks like this:

[caption id="attachment_1345" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="My \"Happier Life\" dreamboard"]dreamboard collage[/caption]

It would seem I was drawn to words more than images this time around. I even included a short article by a nun that talks about how she approaches life. In it she says...

The impulse to hurt someone back is strong, but I don't like how I feel when I do that. So I don't let anyone make me anything less than the most loving and kind person I want to be. ... We have a choice, every single time, about how to respond to whatever crosses our paths.



I admit I've been feeling a little grumbly lately. Chalk it up to raising a teenager, having my in-laws in our guest room for the past 8+ months, or my own pregnancy hormones in full flux. Whatever the case, I don't like how I've been feeling and today I'm making a concerted effort to change what I can- myself.

This morning I finally popped in a tai chi video I borrowed from the library and gave it a try. The calm, purposeful movements had me feeling more harmonious in less than 30 minutes. When my stepson came downstairs doing his usual nudgy teenager thing that seems to have developed this summer, I kept a pleasant tone and engaged him in what I was doing. Not a bad start.

While a Harry Potter movie played in the background, I got to work on my dreamboard and found myself drawn to words like place, love, family, friends, energy, praise, and cooking. One great find among the magazine pages was the phrase "Happier Life" which I deemed the title of this dreamboard after pairing it with the phrase "quite simply."

As far as images go, I was drawn to gardens, fresh produce, hearts, and Mighty Mouse. Why Mighty Mouse? I'm still trying to figure that one out. Perhaps it's my desire to be the happy protector and bright spot of energy for my family. My husband has recently dubbed me our life manager. Is that a call for Mighty Mouse to the rescue?

Now that I can see clearly my desire to bring family together in the kitchen for healthy meals, I've pulled some recipes, made a list, and this afternoon I plan on getting what I can from a local farmer's market before I go to the grocery store.

I love it when a dreamboard helps focus my energy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hello Again, Big News, and some Friday Happy

Hello everyone! (If you are in fact still out there and I sure hope you are.) As often happens with me in the summer time, I have taken a hiatus from blogging. Actually I've taken a hiatus from my computer in general. No blogging, twittering, Facebooking. No sirree. I've hardly even checked email.

Glorious!

Why a summer hiatus? So many reasons. First, I love life and summer reminds me of all the wonderful things there are to enjoy about life. It also reminds me to slow down. More relaxing, more fresh air, more time with friends and family.

Second, my long running contract work ended rather abruptly in July. As a web project manager, my entire work day revolved around being tied to my computer. When I suddenly found myself not tethered to it, I felt lighter. I've worked with computers heavily for my entire 10 year career. Stepping away was exactly what I needed to reconnect with myself.

Third (and by no means diminished in this last position), I've been nesting. Why now? I'm so jittery-teary-eyed-excited to share with you for the first time online that a little one is on the way! That's right. My belly is growing and so is the love in my heart for the tiny little addition that will greet us near the end of January. It's been a tougher journey to get here than I would prefer, but my husband, my stepson, and I are ecstatic and thankful.

Happy Book BadgeNow, let us remember that it is Friday and Jamie has challenged her Next Chapter book group to share their happy on Fridays while copies of The Happy Book make their way around the book groups. I think I've already done that above. I have so much to be happy about.

This week Jamie is shaking up the challenge and is now inviting everyone to get their own copy of The Happy Book to share in a new happy activity each week. I've reserved my copy and will be headed to the book store shortly to pick it up. Will you join the fun?

The first activity Jamie selected from the book is to choose your mascot, carry it with you wherever you go, and take pictures of it along the way. It just so happens that last Christmas I bought a four-pack of little Christmas ornament dolls and gave one to each of my best friends (see below photo, my doll is the one in the turquoise dress).

[caption id="attachment_1337" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mascot dolls for me and my girlfriends"][/caption]

I then set up a private blog where we could each take pictures of our doll as a fun way to share our lives. The last post to that blog was in April, so this feels like the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate the adventure. I'll be putting my doll in my purse today to get her back out in this wide, wonderful world.

What about you? What have you been up to this summer? What is making you happy this week? What mascot will you carry?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Post - Dancing Flyers Fan

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter's ongoing work in The Happy Book, I've been taking some today to reflect on what is making me happy. It's great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.

This week I was lucky enough to attend game 6 of the Stanley Cup. Philadelphia Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks in what turned out to be a really intense back and forth game. In overtime, the Flyers pushed hard, but the Blackhawks made a final play that had the whole arena trying to figure out if the puck actually went in the goal. I've never seen such confusion.

Anyhow, the game was quite exciting, but one of my favorite things about it is a fan I've seen at Flyers games before. His name is Shawny Hill and as far as I know he has gone to every game for years. His seat is at the back of the top level in what some would refer to as the nosebleed section.

Shawny dances by his seat at every game. Usually some time during the third period, the camera visits him for a little big screen time. The crowd goes wild. They love Shawny's dancing about as much as they like the hockey. This year he was even featured in a commercial on the local television station supporting the Flyers for the playoffs.

The following video is from a few years ago, but it's a great representation of the energy he brings to every game. Shawny's unbridled joy is my happy this week. (If you're viewing this in a reader, you may need to click through to see the video.)







What is making you happy this week?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wishcasting: Leap

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else's wishes with positive energy.

Today Jamie asks, "What leap do you wish to take?"

I wish to leap into the amazing world of fiction writing. Without fear, without pressure. I wish to leap into the process of crafting a story, arms and heart wide open ready to embrace characters and give them a safe space to grow and share their experiences.

If you missed it yesterday, I posted a little excerpt of something I wrote - A Night at the Pool.

I'm leaping already.

What leap do you wish to take?

Visit Jamie's site to see what other people are wishing to have.

Fiction: A Night at the Pool

After explaining yesterday that I have been working on some fiction lately, I thought it might be fun to share a piece. What follows is a short scene I started based on a writing prompt from Writer's Digest. (Do I need to say that everything here is fictitious and any similarities to real people or places is strictly coincidental?)

This didn't have a title until just now, but it felt like there should be something indicating the end of my commentary and the beginning of the story. I give you...


A Night at the Pool




There’s a reason I try to avoid breaking rules. It seems like whenever I do, something goes wrong. I’ve grown accustomed to the notion that the rules are there to protect me. I realize it’s not like that for everyone. Some people thrive on rebellion. It serves them well. Not me.

And so it stands to reason that the one night my friend Charlotte convinced me to go for a late night swim at the community pool, I probably should have declined. Breaking and entering certainly qualifies as rule-breaking, but it was swelteringly hot and the pool beckoned with sweet refreshment. If I was going to be soaked in something, better chlorinated water than sweat, I thought.

Charlotte had flirted with one of the lifeguards on more than one occasion. It hadn’t taken her long to learn where a key was hidden for staff and cleaners. It had taken her even less time to convince me that we could get in, swim for an hour, and lock up without anyone knowing and without anyone being hurt by it. It was a victimless crime.

The pool was a little over a mile from my house so we walked, not wanting to arouse suspicion by parking a car nearby. Charlotte found the key, unlocked the gate, and closed it behind us. In the moonless night, we followed the glow from the pool’s underwater lights. The surface of the water rippled slightly as pools often do and I could feel the relief that was about to be ours.

Charlotte must have felt it, too. Before I could say anything, she had kicked off her flip-flops, stripped off her t-shirt and shorts, and was diving in. I set my clothes on the first chair I passed, adjusted my swimsuit, and started down the stairs into the blissfully cool water.

“See, Jill? I told you this would be great,” she called when I was in. “The pool is all ours. This is the first time a today I haven’t felt like hyperventilating from the heat.”

“Yes, it does feel really good.” I dunked my head and smoothed my hair back, then settled in to a comfortable back float. From the corner of my eye I caught Charlotte starting her first lap.

I closed my eyes and let my tension and my sweat wash away. I tried not to think about how awful it would be to get back out in that humid air, only to never really dry off.

The night was still. The only sounds were the bugs in the near distance and the gentle splash Charlotte’s arms and legs slicing through the water, the latter of which fell away to nothingness.

I didn’t realize this was a problem until I heard her quaking voice call my name. I turned to see her treading water at the far end where the pool turned it’s L-shaped corner into the diving board area. Her eyes stared wide at what I couldn’t see from where I was.

“What is it, Charlotte?” When she didn’t answer, I started toward her adding, “Are you okay?”

She shook her head ever so slightly as she tried to find words. “I’m fine. He is not.” That’s when I turned away from her to what held her attention and no, he most definitely was not fine.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why I've Been So Quiet (My muse had other plans)

I haven't blogged much in the past few weeks and though it's not terribly unusual for me to take breaks, I thought I'd share a little about what I've been working on.

I spent quite a lot of time a few weeks ago thinking about writing. I'd been feeling a little lackluster with it lately despite the huge urge I felt to write. I felt like I had stories trying desperately to escape, but I just couldn't quite hear them. It was frustrating and had me questioning whether writing was what I really wanted.

I took out my journal one day and started listing places I thought I might want to write. It ranged from the generic "book" to specific magazine titles that I liked. In the end it was a very, very short list.

Since magazines always seemed like the easy way to go (I really don't know why it seems that way, it probably isn't), I stared at the few I had written down and couldn't come up with a single spark. I felt bored just looking the list.

At that point, I put my list away and didn't look at it for a few days. I was feeling lost and frustrated and spent time instead focusing on my garden, my stepson's baseball games, and work. I don't think I wrote a single thing for over a week, not even a journal entry.

When I finally pulled my journal back out, I tried to remember what I liked writing when I was in grade school and college. I described each particular piece trying to recall titles, subjects, or turns of phrase.

Then I read my entry and had one of those fabulous moments of "ohhh... it seems so obvious." Fiction. With the exception of two things listed, everything was fiction. Short stories galore. Even a couple stories that I thought at the time might be the start of something longer. And the two non-fiction pieces were creative essays, high on personality, low on tedium.

I gave up fiction a long time ago. Maybe it seemed too unattainable. Maybe I thought I could never fill a novel. Maybe I was afraid of criticism. Whatever the reason, I'm ready to get back in the game.

In fact, I have now spent the past week stretching my creative muscles. I started by writing a few paragraphs one night from the point of view of a character I made up. It felt exciting. I could feel the energy buzzing around inside me.

The following night, I found a writing prompt and set out to write the scene with a goal of reaching 500 words. A fast hour later I had 1,000 words.

The next day I started recalling a story idea that I never actually wrote. I had started it just after college I think by pulling together notes and ideas. The more I lingered on that thought, the more a scene started to come together in my head. I sat down to start writing it that night and had about a page-and-a-half of something I was really excited about. This weekend I added another scene to it.

Fiction is energizing me right now. I can't believe I ignored it for so long. I'm just happy my muse stuck with me all these years patiently waiting for me to be ready. This is the start of something beautiful.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Post - Garden Growth

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter's ongoing work in The Happy Book, I've been taking some today to reflect on what is making me happy. It's great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.

I've had a bad cold for just over a week now, so unfortunately I won't be saying I'm happy about my health. Hopefully next week I can make that claim.

This week my garden is making me happy. The kiwis completely covered their trellis, so I added two more to give them space to expand. The raspberries seeded themselves to grow three new stalks. The cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes are getting taller and fatter. I can't wait to eat the fresh produce later this summer.

I also introduced a new addition to my garden, a serene little fairy who looks quite comfortable tucked in the green vines of kiwi. Meet Maribel and her little bird friend, Pete.

[caption id="attachment_1304" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="This year\'s fruit & vegetable garden. (Click to view larger.)"]Garden collage[/caption]

What is making you happy this week?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wishcasting Wednesday: Have

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else's wishes with positive energy.

Today Jamie asks, "What do you wish to have?"

I wish to have the strength, courage, and perseverance to write despite any fears that may try to take over. I wish to have a paid writing gig- maybe a single article to get started. I wish to have the guts to write in my own voice, sharing my own truth.

What do you wish to have?

Visit Jamie's site to see what other people are wishing to have.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mom/Stepmom Relationship

We had a visit from my stepson’s mother the other day. She lives in another state so we don’t see her very often.

She called on Sunday to say she would be visiting her family on Monday. (Her family lives about an hour away from us.) Before she left town, she wanted to stop by and visit her son.

She arrived at our house that evening with her boyfriend and we all hung out at for a couple of hours, ordering pizza, chatting, and laughing together.

I suppose this may seem a bit strange. I’ve heard how turbulent the mother/stepmother relationship can be. I think our society even expects it to be. There are books and websites and counselors out there offering us all kinds of tools to help manage it.

Maybe my situation is rare- I don’t know, but for whatever reason she and I have chosen to get along fine.

We hug hello (yes, this was a surprise to me the first time, too!) and she often mentions to my husband how much she likes me and how grateful she is that I don’t feel threatened by her or act harshly toward her.

I’m happy we get along. She is a friendly person who has never disrespected me. I don’t judge her and she doesn’t prevent me from being the kind of stepmom I am.

Maybe it’s because my own mom was adopted, so I understand that parenting is less about who birthed a child than it is about how you raise the child.

There is no reason for his mom and me to have a strained relationship. She, my husband, my stepson, and I are all comfortable in our roles and interactions with one another.

My stepson has been very loved in his 12 years on this planet. He had his dad, his grandparents, and in recent years, me taking care of him, leading and teaching him.

His mom loves him. If she wants to visit, I’m happy to welcome her into my home for dinner. Her boyfriend was nice, too. It was like spending the evening with friends.

Why shouldn’t it be? We have one very important interest in common.

I’d love to hear from other stepfamilies. How do you handle the mother/stepmother relationship?

Wishcasting Wednesday: Experience

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else's wishes with positive energy.

Today Jamie asks, “What do you wish to experience?”

Life. Plain and simple.

I wish to experience raindrops on my cheeks, the high I get from dancing in my room, the way that desperate looking sprouts transform to full sprawling plants in just a few short weeks.

I wish to experience naps in warm sunbeams and the purr of a cat when I scratch its ears. I wish to experience old architecture and the perfect pinot grigio.

I wish to experience the bliss of skipping down a street, not caring what anyone thinks.

I wish to experience an abundance of hugs and smiles and Eskimo kisses (that’s where you rub noses).

I wish to experience writing with reckless abandon, secure in my own skin.

I wish to experience meeting in person some of the fabulous women I’ve met online through blogging.

I wish to experience a time when people argue less and work together more.

I wish to experience the feeling of no regrets, of being me without apologies.

What do you wish to experience?

Visit Jamie's site to see what other people are wishing to experience.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Foul Ball!

Baseball is a dangerous sport. The balls fly fast and hard, it’s no wonder the players wear helmets. My stepson loves to play. He has several games a week from April through June, so we’re right in the thick of it now.

Somehow the people who don’t play baseball are the ones who keep getting baseball injuries. Go figure.

After Saturday’s game, my husband, who coaches the team, hobbled out of the dugout severely favoring one ankle. He explained that he had been hit in the ankle with a baseball when warming up one of the pitchers. Due to the large amount of swelling, he spent the next few hours elevating and icing his ankle.

My husband isn’t the only magnet, though. For some reason this year, I’ve had more foul balls fly my way than I can count. It doesn’t matter if I sit by first base, third base, or stand behind home plate. Somehow foul balls adjust their trajectory toward me.

It all started at my stepson’s middle school game about a month ago, where at least 4 foul balls found their way to the bleachers set far behind home plate. One in particular was coming straight for my noggin at a time when I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have. To my husband’s desperate “heads up” cry, I tried to lean away from him, while he tried to pull me toward him. He managed to knock the ball away just over my head with one hand and scratched the heck out of my arm with his other. He got me from the front of my arm clear around to the back. It drew a fair amount of blood and it’s still healing now, but at least I didn’t get hit in the head with a ball.

The foul balls have continued their attack ever since. This weekend went above and beyond and left me wondering if the world is trying to take me out.

During Saturday’s game (the same one which left my husband limping), I set up my chair a good ways past third base. I’d guess at least 6 balls came out that way. Two prompted me to flee my chair quickly. One hit just two feet from where I cowered with my hands over my head. Clearly I need to learn to dodge better.

On Sunday there was yet another game at yet a different field. I set my chair up between home and first, closer to first. The first foul ball appeared to be coming directly for me so I took of running. It bounced right next to my chair. A couple of the other parents commented on the close call and joked that someone must have it out for me. I told them they had no idea, but I think by game’s end, they understood.

I found myself running from a lot more balls that morning. A couple of them were after I had abandoned my chair and moved to the other side of the bleachers (closer to home plate). It didn’t seem to matter where I was. I moved to a parking lot and a ball landed there.

As I finally determined that it didn’t matter where I stood, I went back to my chair and stayed alert. Sure enough, one of the last plays of the game sent me fleeing my chair again. As I ran away I heard the ball hit the ground right behind me, then felt the sting as it bounced into my hind end.

Add me to the injured players list. I may be out the rest of the season.

It is curious that my stepson who actually plays in the games hasn’t had any injuries. I’m grateful for that.

Writing, Kindness, and Creativity - Ideas, anyone?

I’m on a mission and I’m calling for fellow brainstormers. 

As you probably know I’ve been thinking a lot about my values lately- the things I want to structure my life to support. Those values have led me to focus more acutely on writing, kindness, and creativity.

Just saying these words – writing, kindness, and creativity – gives me a little rush of energy and excitement. This is where I want to run and play right now.

So the challenge is on. I’m making a list of projects that involve these three things, projects that I may explore or that I may keep on my list to spur new ideas.

Having a list will be great because I can refer to it when I have a few extra minutes and want to try something new or do a little research. When I feel lost and directionless, my list can shine a little light to get me back on my path.

My list so far looks like this:


  • Book reviews of books about philanthropy, civility, and bettering humanity


  • Make greeting cards


  • Get involved with organizations like Special Olympics or Hospice or one of other amazing service organizations out there


  • Grant writing


  • Spreading the message of civility




I know there must be a million more things I can put on my list. I also recognize that I am probably limiting my thinking. That’s why I’m asking for help.

Will you help me build my list of projects encompassing writing, kindness, and creativity (or even just 2 out of 3)?

Leave your ideas in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Was Mother's Day?

How was Mother’s Day? Did you get catered to and adored all day? I certainly hope so.

I got up much too early in the morning to go to my stepson’s baseball game. As we were packing up to leave, my stepson asked what I was going to do for the day. I said I was going to his baseball game. “But it’s Mother’s Day,” he said in a sweet tone that implied I shouldn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. I explained that yes it was Mother’s Day which was precisely why I wanted to go see my kid play.

And yes, I refer to him as my kid. He lives with me and my husband full-time. I go to all his games and do the daily things a mom is “supposed” to do. I believe that makes him partly my kid. I may not have made him, but I am contributing to the person he is becoming.

Just last week for my birthday he gave me a beautiful pot of flowers and a card, both of which I’m told he picked out all on his own. Scrawled on the front of the envelope in giant letters was “To Sherri/Bonus Mom.”

I’m lucky to have him in my life. As we sat at a hibachi table for Mother’s Day lunch, I told him so.

Throughout the day he wished me a happy mother’s day no less than a dozen times. Stepmotherhood brings with it a number of frustrations, but it is also filled with unexpected moments of bliss. Mother’s day has become one such event. I never expected to be acknowledged, but my stepson and my husband honor me each year. It’s really special.

I made phone calls to my own mom and stepmom this afternoon since they are in different states and I couldn’t be with them.

What did you do for Mother’s Day?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Mothers come in all shapes and all sizes. They are patient, they are kind. They are stern, they are tough. They give hugs, kiss scrapes, and clap the loudest.

Mothers do what needs to be done, often without any thanks. They support, love, work, and provide.

To all mothers - biological, step, adoptive, foster - thank you for everything you do. I wish you a very happy mother's day!

In honor of you, here is author Kelly Corrigan talking about what makes her mother special. This video makes me laugh and it makes me tear up. (If you're viewing this in a reader, you may need to click through to the full post to see the video.)



Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Happy Mother's Day

Mothers come in all shapes and all sizes. They are patient, they are kind. They are stern, they are tough. They give hugs, kiss scrapes, and clap the loudest.

Mothers do what needs to be done, often without any thanks. They support, love, work, and provide.

To all mothers - biological, step, adoptive, foster - thank you for everything you do. I wish you a very happy mother's day!

In honor of you, here is author Kelly Corrigan talking about what makes her mother special. This video makes me laugh and it makes me tear up. (If you're viewing this in a reader, you may need to click through to the full post to see the video.)







Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Post - Perfect Purple Edition


As you probably know, I’ve been taking some time each Friday to reflect on what is making me happy. It’s great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.


Yesterday was my birthday, so it only makes sense that today’s happy post show exactly what made my day so happy.

Because I can do whatever I want for my birthday, I took the day off work and went for a pedicure, shopped my local garden center for this season’s plants, dyed my hair a funky color, and had a fabulous homemade dinner.

At the garden shop, I had two goals in mind: creating a flowery mound in my front yard and planting some fresh vegetables and herbs in my backyard garden. Here is my bounty.


Flowers, veggies, and herbs ready to be planted
Flowers, veggies, and herbs ready to be planted


Over breakfast, my husband and mother-in-law asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner. My reply was simple. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. They said, “Definitely cake! What do you want for dinner?” My reply was the same. I’m unclear as to why this was confusing. :)

We decided on grilled steaks, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and spinach salad with apples and grapes. It was all delicious, by the way. Plus, I didn’t have to cook or clean up. Woohoo!

As for cake, it was the perfect opportunity to use the butterfly cake pan my friend gave me for Christmas. If you ask me, it’s the most awesomest cake ever! Alongside the cake we had fresh strawberries and smoothies. Yum!


Butterfly cake collage
The most awesomest birthday cake ever!


But let’s get to the hair. I know a lot of you requested pictures.  Back in March, I asked if a grown-up can have pink hair.  Everyone who commented here, on WorkingMother.com, and on Twitter, was hugely supportive, so I decided that I would go for it on my birthday (and I didn't even chicken out!).

First let me explain that I scheduled the appointment thinking I would get a pink stripe. When I got to the salon, I looked through a few books to get ideas for what shade to use and where it should go.

I found a gorgeous shade of purply pink, so the hairdresser said she would mix purple and pink together. She went a little heavy on the purple because she was worried about giving me too bright of a color since I’ve never dyed my hair an unconventional color before.

She dyed a few well placed streaks on the underneath layers, which means when my hair is down, you may catch a glimpse of purple, but you may not. If I pull the top little bit of hair back, you see the purple streaks. I think the placement is perfect.

Without further ado, here are some photos. What do you think?


Purple hair
My purple streaks



Purple hair
Close-up courtesy of my stepson


I guess we will find out if a grown-up/stepmom can have purple hair.  So far it's only been seen in my house.

As it turns out, purple hair was perfectly aligned with the unintentional theme in my gifts.

My in-laws gave me a recipe book holder and a purple dress, my stepson gave me some beautiful purple flowers, and my husband gave me a fabulous new point-and-shoot camera in a lovely purply pink. Too perfect!


Birthday gifts
Purple was an unintentional theme for the gifts I received


So those are the things making me happy today. What is making you happy?

Happy Post - Perfect Purple Birthday Edition

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter's ongoing work in The Happy Book, I've been taking some time each Friday to reflect on what is making me happy. It's great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.

Yesterday was my birthday, so it only makes sense that today's happy post show exactly what made my day so happy.

Because I can do whatever I want for my birthday, I took the day off work and went for a pedicure, shopped my local garden center for this season's plants, dyed my hair a funky color, and had a fabulous homemade dinner.

At the garden shop, I had two goals in mind: creating a flowery mound in my front yard and planting some fresh vegetables and herbs in my backyard garden. Here is my bounty.

[caption id="attachment_1272" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Flowers, veggies, and herbs ready to be planted"]Flowers, veggies, and herbs ready to be planted[/caption]

Over breakfast, my husband and mother-in-law asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner. My reply was simple. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing. They said, "Definitely cake! What do you want for dinner?" My reply was the same. I'm unclear as to why this was confusing. :)

We decided on grilled steaks, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and spinach salad with apples and grapes. It was all delicious, by the way. Plus, I didn't have to cook or clean up. Woohoo!

As for cake, it was the perfect opportunity to use the butterfly cake pan my friend gave me for Christmas. If you ask me, it's the most awesomest cake ever! Alongside the cake we had fresh strawberries and smoothies. Yum!

[caption id="attachment_1271" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="The most awesomest birthday cake ever!"]Butterfly cake collage[/caption]

But let's get to the hair. I know a lot of you requested pictures.

First let me explain that I scheduled the appointment thinking I would get a pink stripe. When I got to the salon, I looked through a few books to get ideas for what shade to use and where it should go.

I found a gorgeous shade of purply pink, so the hairdresser said she would mix purple and pink together. She went a little heavy on the purple because she was worried about giving me too bright of a color since I've never dyed my hair an unconventional color before.

She dyed a few well placed streaks on the underneath layers, which means when my hair is down, you may catch a glimpse of purple, but you may not. If I pull the top little bit of hair back, you see the purple streaks. I think the placement is perfect.

Without further ado, here are some photos. What do you think?

[caption id="attachment_1274" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="My purple streaks"]Purple hair[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1275" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Close-up courtesy of my stepson"]Purple hair[/caption]

As it turns out, purple hair was perfectly aligned with the unintentional theme in my gifts.

My in-laws gave me a recipe book holder and a purple dress, my stepson gave me some beautiful purple flowers, and my husband gave me a fabulous new point-and-shoot camera in a lovely purply pink. Too perfect!

[caption id="attachment_1273" align="aligncenter" width="477" caption="Purple was an unintentional theme for the gifts I received"]Birthday gifts[/caption]

So those are the things making me happy today. What is making you happy?