Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wishcasting: New Year

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. This week Jamie asks, "What is your wish for the new year?"

I wish to write.  Fiction, blog posts, letters to friends, short tweets.  I wish for writing to be a regular part of my life, rather than a "when I have time and I'm not too tired."

I wish to show love.  Use kind words, understand, breathe before I get angry, hug, encourage, listen, trust, show grace.

I wish to keep making space.  Clear out the objects I don't use regularly or love.  I've been doing this for a while, yet there is more to be done.

I wish to notice.  There are many precious moments in any given day.  A child learning something new, sunlight on countertops, the smile of a loved one.  I wish to notice and revel in these moments.

What about you?  What do you wish for the new year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Am Not a Hoarder

Hoarder.  That word makes me cringe.  Did you ever watch the television show?  My husband and I did... once.  Neither of us could sleep for two full weeks, during which we purged a lot of things from our house.

A few days ago, my husband dared to utter the words, "You have a little hoarder in you."  Shock!  Horror!  Outrage!  How dare he?  I'm no hoarder.

"You do, too.  Have you seen your desk?" I said, feeling a little "I'm rubber, you're glue..." about it.

He didn't get shocked or outraged.  He simply said, "I know.  That's why I want to get rid of my desk... so I can't hoard things in it."

How annoying to be married to someone who makes level-headed responses like that (she says with a goofy smile).

Then a couple nights ago, he pointed to a plastic organizational bin in a seldom used room of our house.  "What's in there?  Because it looks like it might be full of garbage."

More shock!  More outrage!  Why is he picking on me?  That is my organizational bin full of important and useful things that I've had since my single days in my own apartment five years ago.  I mean, just two years ago I pulled an extension cord from that bin and it has been very useful.

Two years ago.  Hmmm.  Maybe it was worth the revisit.  In it were three of those little things you plug into an outlet to make it multiple outlets, instruction manuals to things I didn't need instruction manuals for, a set of coasters that hadn't been used since I moved in with my husband, a meat thermometer attachment that goes to my kitchen timer (I'd been looking for that for years and presumed it gone forever), and a tape measure.


The meat thermometer went to the kitchen, the tape measure to the garage, and we got rid of everything else.  The empty storage bin is being banished to the attic until such point as it is needed for something actually useful.

I don't mean to hoard, but it seems I do without realizing it.  It comes in the form of keeping things that are or may one day be useful.  The problem comes in failing to reevaluate from time to time to see if those things are, in fact, still useful.

Tackling this syndrome is high on my goals list.  I'd like to enter 2012 with less than I have now and leave 2012 with even less.  It's time to get serious about purging.  In fact, as we tear apart rooms in our house one by one to put new flooring in, we will be ruthless about what is allowed back in the room. Everything else will go.  

No more "potentially useful" odds and ends.  It's either useful now or it isn't.  It fits in our life now or it doesn't.  

What about you?  Do you have any remnant items that need reevaluation?

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Can I Explain This Feeling?

First Manuscript

My heart is racing, yet my body is calm.  I feel this inner excitement like somewhere inside I'm doing cartwheels and simultaneously I feel grounded and focused.

One voice is saying, "Way to go!  Look what you accomplished.  I knew you could do it." Another is saying, "Now, here is what must happen next if you really want to do this.  It's going to take a lot of work."  Both voices come from somewhere deep inside me.  I listen to both.

What is it that has me feeling this way?

I just printed my first novel.  Please humor me as I say that again.  I just printed my first novel.

A plain manuscript, three hole punched and inserted in a binder.  A mere 64 pages, double spaced.  Nowhere near long enough to be considered a novel.  At 15,328 words, it needs to more than double in length to work as a middle grade novel, which is what I am aiming for. It's crap, really.  Utter first time novel writer, first draft drivel.

It starts out with feeling, then quickly becomes robotic (and then this happened and then that happened and then she said something).

Mind you, I say that with the utmost love because it's something.  It's a start.  It has potential.  With some time and some work and some love, it will become something better than it is now.

The point is, a story is there.  A beginning, a middle, an end.  And I wrote it.  I wrote the story that was in my head, the story that came to me in the shower one day.  I wrote it beginning to end.

And now it's printed.  It's no longer just a blip on my screen that disappears when I walk away from my computer.  It's sitting there in front of me on paper in a binder awaiting the love I promised to give it.

Somehow now it's real.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wishcasting: Celebrate

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. This week Jamie asks, "What do you wish to celebrate?"

First, I wish to celebrate Jamie!  Today is her birthday.  I wish for her to have a day filled with magic, blessings, and unbridled joy!

Second, I wish to celebrate new friends, most of whom I met through some new mommy programs.  As adults, sometimes it's difficult to meet new friends, so I am thankful for the groups that brought us mommies together.

Third, I wish to celebrate my leap in to the world of writing fiction.  In September I completed a short story and submitted it to NPR for a short story contest.  Even though I didn't win, I'm still really proud of myself for having the courage to send a story out into the world.  In November I finished a (really, really short) novel.  It needs some major work before it will be presentable, but holy smokes, I wrote a novel!

There are so many more things I wish to celebrate... my loving husband, my intelligent teen, my wide-eyed baby.  After a couple of rough years, this has been a year of blessings.

I also wish to celebrate you! Thank you for being here. If you haven't already, please connect with me on Facebook at and Twitter @smhutchins.  Once you're there, drop me a note to say hi.  I promise to say hi back.

What do you wish to celebrate?

Two Books That Changed My Life This Year

One Thousand Gifts

Every Soul a Star

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paralyzing Questions


Writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I’ve written lots of things in different formats over the years.  Outside of this blog and back in my classroom days, most of what I have written hasn’t seen other eyes.  

Now I want to stretch in to the publishing world.  I want to write with the intent of being published.  That has made things seem more real and also scarier.  Now questions creep up.  What should I write?  I need to pick a genre or a topic.  Every author has a genre or is an expert in a particular field.  What am I an expert in?  What if I want to write fiction and write non-fiction in an online setting?  Can I do both?  Even if they are completely different?  

It’s questions like these that have kept me in limbo for a while, feeling like I shouldn’t even write until I have it all figured out.  But that’s silly, isn’t it?  The best way to figure it all out is probably by actually writing and outlining and fleshing out ideas.  

Another one I’ve struggled with is What if I can’t write enough?  You see I’ve always struggled with conciseness.  In school I was the kid whom teachers repeatedly told to elaborate, the kid whose 3-5 page paper only made it to the end of page 3 with some margin tweaks and font changes.  Not because I didn’t answer the question, but because I said everything I wanted to say in 2 pages.  For goodness sake, what writer has trouble writing?

Then there’s questions like...Where will what I write be published?  Will anyone like it?  What if people hate it?  What if I’m mocked or proven wrong or publicly chastised?  What if I never get published by anyone... ever?  

Oh, the questions.  They can be paralyzing.  

So I do the only thing I can think to do.  I try to push all those questions aside and write anyway.

What paralyzing questions do you struggle with?  How do you deal with them?

Connect with me on Facebook at and Twitter @smhutchins.  Once you're there, drop me a note to say hi.  I promise to say hi back.

Hello Again

Sidewalk after rain

Hello, blog.  Hello, blog readers... if any of you are still here, and I truly hope you are.  

I’ve given blogging a break this year, posting only very sporadically as I felt called to it.  After four years of posting and a big life shift from working web producer to stay-at-home mom, I needed some time.  Time to step away, time to figure out my new life, and time to just be.

And now... now I am ready to write.  In fact I have been writing.  I have spent the fall working on fiction.  I’ve also been dreaming of next steps for my journey.  I’ve thought about new online spaces that can offer fresh starts and overarching themes and branding and all of that stuff that “serious” writers “should” do.  In time, that may come, but I don’t want to rush into anything only to abandon it because it wasn’t the right fit.  

In the meantime, I need a place to let my creative spirit run rampant.  A place to dream and explore and acknowledge beauty and support others and be supported.  A place to celebrate the extraordinarily ordinary in this everyday life.

And wouldn’t you know it, I have a place.  Here, with you.

Thank you for being here, for joining me on this journey and letting me join you on yours.  

As part of this growth, I also have new Facebook and Twitter accounts.  I’d love to connect with you and support you in those spaces.  You can find me here: and @smhutchins.  Once you’re there, drop me a note to say hi.  I promise to say hi back.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Synchronicity at its best

An Amazon box just arrived for me with the next three months of book club picks, including We Need to Talk About Kevin for our next meeting, just a week-and-a-half away.

Coincidentally, the boys are at baseball and the baby is taking an unusually late nap.  Is this a quiet house in which to read?

Hello, reading chair. It's been a while.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I did it! I finished a story.

OH MY GOODNESS! You know how over there in the right sidebar of my blog there is a little mini bio that, among other things, proclaims me as "writer?"

And you know how sometimes we want things to be true, but when we look at our daily lives, there is little there that actually fits those things?  

I say I'm a writer because I like to write.  I used to write stories when I was growing up.  I studied English in college.  I come up with ideas for stories, or pieces of stories, all the time.  

But if I look at myself honestly, I haven't done a whole lot of writing- actually getting things on paper (or computer).  Even when I do, it's usually a short incomplete piece.  The beginnings of a scene that could be part of something beautiful... if I ever finished it, which I don't.

And now there's a sweet little baby who keeps me busy all day every day.  What a marvelous excuse not to write!

Except that I want to write.  I've had this dream for a long, long time now.  I just keep pushing it off as something I'll get to when I have time.

Then a few weeks ago I went to a writer's group at my local library.  It's on the calendar of events every month and always think, "I should go to that," but never do.  This month was different.  This month I went.  

I left that meeting feeling inspired and with homework.  Gasp!  I plan on going to the next meeting and, by golly, I will not go without having done my homework.

Then in a semi-related message from the universe, I saw this short story contest on NPR.  It intrigued me.  I had ideas.  I had... only a week before the deadline.  

When I found myself saying, "I'm going to write this story even if I don't finish it on time," I knew I was on to something.

Remembering lots of authors' advice to get something, anything, even if it's crap, down on the page, I wrote a story from beginning to end on Monday.  A full story.

And I didn't like it.

By Thursday I had a new idea, so I wrote another story from beginning to end.  I liked it.  I slept on it.  I thought about it.  I reread it.  I still liked it.  I tweaked it, had my husband play editor, and tweaked it some more.

Last night I sent it to NPR.  I finished a story and I sent it to someone.  It may never be heard or seen on NPR.  That doesn't matter.  What matters is, I'm earning my stripes.

I AM A WRITER.  Hear me roar.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wishcasting: Immerse

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. This week Jamie asks, "What do you wish to immerse yourself in?"

I wish to immerse myself in two things: writing and life.

My writing has slowed significantly since my baby was born 7 months ago. Now I am working to bring writing back in to my life. What's more, I'm trying fiction again. I even found a short story contest that intrigued me and despite it's due date being Sunday (as in this coming Sunday), I decided to write anyway. I wrote a rough draft Monday that I admit I'm not as happy with as I had hoped. The cool thing is I'm happy anyway because I did it. I wrote a story beginning to end. That is huge for me since I tend to write snips and scenes without ever creating a full story.

As for my second wish, I wish to immerse myself in life, to find grace in the every day, and to connect with my local community. I wish to immerse myself in this life as opposed to merely observing it. I can envision so many benefits to doing so... better health, more happiness, more support, and likely better writing because I'll have more experiences to draw on.

Interesting. Writing all this now feels freeing.

What do you wish to immerse yourself in?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thankful: Little Things

Little hands and feet

I can't believe it's Friday already.  This week has gone by fast.

Every Friday I like to take a little time to look back on the things that made me happy.  This week I am thankful for...

Little feet and little hands.

The writer's group I tried for the first time.

Open windows, airing the house out.

My mommies group.

Freelance work.

Trying new things.

Happy Friday!  What are you thankful for?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wishcasting: Guidance

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. This week Jamie asks, "What guidance do you wish for?"

I wish for guidance in my writing.

Guidance might come in the form of ideas from my muse, inspiration from other writers, or a gentle nudge from the universe reminding me to write anyway (even if there is only a few minutes, even if I don't know what I'm about to write). It might be in the form of encouragement or accountability.

I've avoided writing long enough for various reasons and excuses. Valid or not, I'm ready to stop talking and start doing.

This week I brushed off a short scene I wrote last summer and took it to a writer's group. It was my very first writer's group experience. I didn't know what to expect or what to bring, but I went anyway. I left with lots of encouragement from the two other people there. Since then I made some notes for how my scene might grow in to a full novel along with questions I would need to answer. 

It's a start.

What guidance do you wish for?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thankful: Joy, Blogs, and F Words

Tree-lined walkway

As the week draws to a close, I am taking time once again to be thankful.

Today I am thankful for the smell of zucchini bread baking in my kitchen, made from a zucchini I grew myself.  (I will be even more thankful if this first attempt at zucchini bread is successful!)

I am thankful for the utter joy I see in my baby's face and the reminder to lighten up and be happy.

I am thankful for Jamie's Wishcasting Wednesday question about what path we wish to follow.  It allowed me to clarify my own intentions and focus on Love.

I am thankful for having found some pockets of time to write.

I am thankful Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, the beautiful piano music it plays in the background, her photographs that pull me in to her world so vividly, and her words that remind me gentleness and grace are possible.

I am thankful for the milder weather.

I am thankful for F words.  Food, faith, friends, and family.  That other F word or variations of it occasionally come in handy, too.

I am thankful that I am finding my way.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wishcasting: Paths

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. Today Jamie asks, "What path do you wish to follow?"

I wish to follow the path of love.  What does that mean?  For me it means to infuse love in my actions and words.  It means choosing words that will encourage and inspire, especially when speaking with my husband and children.  It means using a calm and loving tone.  (No bickering or nagging.)

It means doing what needs to be done (with love!) when it comes to serving my family, my home, and myself.  I've been changing my mindset about doing chores, looking at them as service rather than as annoying interruptions.  Doing the dishes and laundry are not fun (and I won't pretend they are), but when I focus on the result being a good thing for my home and family, not to mention my own sanity, then I can get through them with a better attitude.

By following a path of love, I think I can improve my mental well-being while also making a happier environment for all of us.

What path do you wish to follow?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thankful for Smooth Travel

It is another beautiful Friday (barely... It's almost midnight now) and I am giving thanks for this week's happiness. 

This week was all about last minute travel. On Sunday we booked a family vacation departing today. That gave us exactly four days to get all the laundry done and figure out how to fly with a baby. A message to my new mommy friends resulted in lots of helpful tips. Thank you, mommies!

I was making good progress all week and was actually pretty relaxed yesterday morning about what I had left to do. That is, until a phone call necessitated a change in plans for the first half of the trip. 

So yesterday afternoon I got online and made phone calls to cancel one hotel in a city we no longer needed to visit and book a new hotel.  Canceling the first hotel was going to leave us with a charge for the first night's stay, but the gentleman at Expedia called the hotel, explained the situation, and got the fee waived. Thank you, Expedia guy. 

The hotel we had booked for the second half of our trip was full for this weekend so we were unable to extend our reservation to cover the newly vacant front end of our trip. Thus I set off in search of other options and found a smokin' deal at for a hotel near Disney. Woohoo! Thank you, guy. 

With new plans in place, we stayed up far too late last night packing and woke just a few hours later to leave. After a perfectly uneventful drive to the airport we checked in to notice at the plane was overbooked and we had no seats. 

Oh boy. As visions of a crying baby, a restless teenager, and prolonged airport time haunted us, we proceeded to the gate where my husband spoke to a kind airline employee who informed us they were working on the seat situation. 

So we waited. 

Not only did this wonderful gentleman get us on the plane, he bumped us up to first class free of charge. As I wrote this I was stretched out with plenty of room to attend to the baby. Thank you, US Air guy.

So that's it. Today I am thankful for smooth traveling and the helpfulness of travel employees. I am thankful for my friends' helpful travel-with-baby hints. I am thankful for this vacation to spend time with my husband and boys. It is Jonas' first vacation which is making the rest of us enjoy it all the more. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Country Music Festival

Did you watch the CMA Festival last night? Ok, maybe not everyone likes country music as much as I do, but I was glued to the program, particularly because this year I was there.

From CMA Festival 2011

For Christmas last year as I waddled toward my last month of pregnancy, my husband presented me with tickets to the CMA Festival in June. By then, he said, I might want a break from new motherhood to do something "me." What a sweety.

So in June we left the baby and my teenage stepson with my in-laws and flew to Nashville for four days of country concerts.

The few main blocks of downtown Nashville were shut down. Everywhere corner we rounded revealed a new stage, each with a full lineup every day. It was at these stages where we watched Mark Wills, Bo Bice, Wade Hayes, and one of my favorites, Carolyn Dawn Johnson. It is also where we fell in love with a new group called Eden's Edge. One of the stages was at the riverfront where our pass let us use the photo line to get up close to Crystal Bowersox and Terri Clark.

We also did random things like pose in a makeshift cranberry bog.

From CMA Festival 2011

Each day we wandered from stage to stage and booth to booth seeing what there was to see. We also visited the fan fair hall at the convention center where most of the autograph signings took place. While we didn't bother to stand in line for autographs, we were able to get close for pictures.

It was the fan fair hall where I learned that most of these stars are normal size people like you and me. Except, have you seen how big Trace Adkins looks on TV? Um yeah... he's even bigger in real life. He is hugemongous. Yes, he required a new adjective. I know no words in the English language to describe a man with stacked cheek muscles.

From CMA Festival 2011

Most of that wasn't on the TV special and that was a big part of the experience. What you saw on TV last night was the main headline acts at the arena. Again this was four nights with about five major acts per night sprinkled with a few unannounced surprises.

Surprises? Oh yes. The Zac Brown Band surprised us by bringing out Alan Jackson. Brad Paisley surprised us by bringing out Alabama, which by the way was the biggest applause of the entire four days. Alabama can still bring the house down. Did you see that Big & Rich performance? We were sitting there between acts waiting for the stage to be reset. I think Trace Adkins was next on the schedule. All of a sudden out come Big & Rich for one song bringing Gretchen Wilson with them, too, then they disappeared just as quickly. Surprise!

Among others we saw Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Lady Antebellum, Clint Black, The JaneDear Girls (I've added them to my favorites also and my husband got to shake their hands), Taylor Swift... I could go on, but honestly there was so much it's hard to even remember it all.

If you like country music, you really should try to get there one year. It is an absolute blast.

The best part for me, though, was spending four uninterrupted days with my husband. There were no work calls, no kids to attend to. Our most pressing issues were deciding where to eat and which stage to go by at which time. We did a lot of hand-holding, a little dancing, and had real conversations.

We returned home relaxed and stress-free. And now, two months later, we got to relive it through the magic of television. Awesome!

Let's recap the important points, shall we?

  • If you like country music, go to this festival.

  • Listen to Eden's Edge.  They are amazing!

  • Trace Adkins is really big.  Don't pick a fight with him, ok?

  • My husband is the bestest.

I think that covers it.  If you missed the special and you're a little sad, go browse for photos and videos. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slow Down and Notice

Baby bird, freshly hatched

It's the weekend and these days it seems like the weekends can be just as harried as the rest of the week. There are errands to run, chores to do, and people to visit.

Don't let these precious days slip away.

Slow down and take time to look at the many gifts around you. My husband spotted this tiny baby bird while mowing the lawn. Even a dull chore can be exciting if you are mindful of the beauty around you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 12, 2011



Happy Friday! With the week drawing to a close, it is a great time to reflect on the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my friends, new and old, and for the time I am getting to spend with many of them this week.

I am thankful the summer heat was a bit milder this week. 10 degrees is a big difference.

I am thankful to have had time to blog. Three posts in one week? I don't think I've even done three in one month since having the baby.

I am thankful for ripe, local produce.

I am thankful for the library.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stripping (not in the dancer way)

Front porch

I am on a mission. It isn't anything covert and worldly like recovering intelligence from a foreign agent. It is a mission to reveal the new me, the now me.

Let me paint a picture of where I've been lately. I'm married with a teenage stepson and a 6 month old baby. My house is in disarray despite my efforts to keep things organized. I had nearly given up reading and writing, two activities I enjoyed immensely pre-baby. Dinners were becoming whatever I could scrounge together and cook one handed with a sleepy-but-avoiding-sleep-baby at 9:00 p.m. after the guys returned from baseball. My dining room is a junkyard of haphazardly strewn items and home decor that we don't need anymore.

I've been making a conscious effort to change all that. Too much time and energy is wasted. Our house is feeling like a house rather than a home.

My husband also feels the stress our home produces. Rather than feeling a sense of relief when he comes home after work, he too feels oppressed by the disorder and is ready to pare down. You see, we are a new us.

The now us is content with less. The now us is focused on a good home life. The now us is not on a corporate ladder. The now us is focused on family, memories, and making this world a little better.

So I am entering a phase of my life I will call stripping (not in the exotic dancer kind of way). For the last few weeks I've been slowly peeling away at everything, just a little bit at a time.

It started with clearing out old clothes. Then I took everything off my kitchen counters and carefully selected what would return. Then I purged and reorganized my cookware cabinets, an act that immediately made me prepare better meals. Then I tackled my desk which I will revisit because it doesn't yet have the harmony I wish for. I dusted off my journal and found a little time each day to read. I joined a simple living group.

Most recently I started looking at the food we are eating. We are lucky to be surrounded by farms. Farms I never visited until now and you know what? The fruits and veggies taste better.

We are slowly stripping away the layers that don't suit the now us.

Let me know paint a picture of where I want to be in the near future. I want our home to be clear, only containing what we use and love. I want everything we have to have a place. Our home should be open for guests and for dreaming. There will be plenty of space for love and imagination to grow. I will cook, actually cook, with fresh ingredients purchased as close to the source as possible or grown in our own backyard. After all, cooking doesn't have to be complex or take a long time. It doesn't even have to involve cooking- the cucumber and tomato salad I made last night, inspired by a new friend, was delicious.

It is time to strip away the gunk. This isn't merely cleaning. This is a lifestyle change that will nurture each of us at the soul level. Only by stripping can we reveal and rebuild the new now us.

P.S. While writing this post, I also changed my blog's tagline from "Soulful living in a world of information overload" to "... a world of everything overload" because that's where we are. Too much stuff, too many choices, all in an effort to have the best of the best at the cheapest price possible. No more. From now on my choices will be more mindful and I will pay a bit more for better tasting tomatoes, dangit!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wishcasting: Inspiration

Wishcasting badgeIt's Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes into the universe. Today Jamie asks, "What inspiration do you wish to follow?"

As usual, Jamie somehow touched on what I've been thinking about lately. The dreamboard I recently created included the phrase "inspiration for positive change."

I wish to follow the inspiration of simplicity. I have always loved keeping things simple, but now with a growing family, life and our home feel messy, full, and unnecessarily complicated. In my single days it was easy to keep things simple. With a family, it's not just me bringing things in the house. It's not just my schedule to follow.

For the past month I have been meeting with a simple living group where we have had wonderful discussions about time, money, what it means to live simply, and what we can do in our current home and community life. It has been wonderful to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and just spend time in conversation with other local women.

Now I want to go beyond decluttering (though I want to continue that, too). I want to be more mindful of getting back to basics, of contributing to my local economy, of making meals with especially delicious good quality ingredients. I am finally patronizing the local farm markets and looking for local butchers. I am spending less time with television and more time with my home, my yard, my family, my church, and my journal.

I wish to get back to basics and inspire others to do the same. Who's with me?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If you're bad, no dessert, but if you're bad and late...

Children's books sure have changed since I was little. Not so much the books themselves, more like my perception of those books. Turns out the moral on some of them is questionable as I've been learning.

Check out my post at to see what I mean.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wishcasting: Know

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 do you wish to know?"

I wish to know what I am here to do. On my perpetual quest to find my purpose, I get lost, distracted, and confused. "Purpose" is so grand. How do you determine something like that? Am I here to write? Am I here to share some talent of which I'm unaware? Am I here to be the best _____ or an expert in _____? (I haven't filled in those blanks.)

What's more, I always try to equate purpose to income. Is purpose necessarily tied to income? Or am I simply looking for a way to make money while serving a greater purpose like "be kind."

I wish to know the answers to these questions, though life has taught me that there is no magic instruction book that will lead the way. In absence of clear direction, I wish to know that I am on the right path, that I am making a difference in some way, that I am giving the best of myself to make life better for someone.

One of my favorite sayings is one I know not who wrote:

If you planted hope today in any hopeless heart,
If someone's burden was lighter because you did your part,
If you caused a laugh that chased a tear away,
If tonight your name is mentioned when someone kneels to pray,
Then your day was well spent.

I wish to know my days are well spent.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Journal, New Adventures

Recently I had the urge to write and found myself with the seemingly rare opportunity to do so.

I opened my journal and started with the sentence, "I feel like writing, but I don't know what to write." I proceeded to fill six pages at which point I found myself at the end of that journal.

I had started using that composition book in August of 2009 and had finally reached its end. That book saw me through my dog's passing, then my grandfather's. It saw me through infertility struggles and having a baby. Through creative desires, random ramblings, and plentiful questions- some answered, some not. Happiness, anger, desire, fear. It even got adorned with a new cover when I tired of looking at the black and white pattern.

It is the third journal I have filled completely added to a handful of others left partially filled, some reserved for particular purposes.

Reaching the end of a journal feels big. It feels like a major transition. Like it's time for the next big story. The closing of that book triggers a sense of closure along with the big question, "What next?"

A new journal sits ready, awaiting the coming tales of Sherri. What will that book hear? How much time will it chronicle? What new or old questions will we delve into together? I guess I'll just have to wait for it all to unfold.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wishcasting: Tend

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 do you wish to tend?"

I wish to tend to my spaces, inside and outside. I wish to continue decluttering my home and now that spring is here to make my yard a beautiful place. The grass is dying in certain places and the weeds are taking over. There are trees in pots waiting to be transplanted to their permanent locations. My small vegetable and herb garden needs to be cleaned out and replanted. The yard could be beautiful, but it looks a little sickly. With the new baby it will be difficult to make time for outdoor work, so my wish is to tend my yard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wishing for Less

I read something yesterday that said we are always wishing for more- more money, bigger home, fancier car, the newest this, and the latest that.

Obviously we can always use more money. I won't pretend that isn't on my wish list. But as for wishing for more... oddly enough I've been wishing for the opposite. I feel crowded and overwhelmed in my home at times. I actually want less.

I don't want to sound ungrateful and I'm certainly not wishing for any sort of tragedy to befall my family. Let's just make that clear.

What I want is more open space- a clear desk, cabinets that aren't packed to the limit with kitchen gadgetry I rarely use, shelves that aren't overflowing. More space means more energy. More space means I can get to the things I use and love. More space means I have room to create.

For example, look at my desk...

How is anything ever going to get done with all of that stuff in the way?

Periodically I go through my clothes, books, and other possessions to make space. What I've found is having less stuff actually makes me feel like I have more stuff.

Yes, that may sound a bit odd, but here's the thing. If my desk is full, I don't write because when I sit down at my desk I can't think. All I can see is mess.

If my dresser drawer is so jam-packed with t-shirts I can barely open it, it's hard to get to the shirt I want. If the drawer has enough space for me to root around in it, then I can actually see everything I have. All of it. Not just the three things mashed at the top.

I guess what I'm saying is if you want to have more you can start right now by cleaning out what you don't use or love to make room for those things you already have but never see.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Break

Today is the first day of spring break for our schools. It looks like it will be clear and bright outside. I don't have much to say, so I thought I would share a picture of the trees that are blooming along our street. This time of year they are at their prettiest, perhaps dressing in their Easter best.

Have a glorious day! Take time to notice beauty wherever you are today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wishcasting: Read

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 do you wish to read?"

I always seem to have a long list of things I want to read. Right now I have one more chapter to finish in Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

After that, maybe I'll take on one of these...
Or maybe it's time to re-read some of my favorites like Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

There are so many wonderful books out there, not to mention I'm so behind on my favorite blogs, too. All in good time, though.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I want to be a mediocre couponer. (Is it acceptable to aspire to mediocrity?)

You may have heard of extreme couponing. There's even a TV show starting about it. Extreme couponers use coupons and sales with a vengeance to walk out of a store with their entire purchase free or as close as possible to free, often pennies on the dollar. Watch the video below to see what I mean. (RSS readers may need to click through to the full post to see the video.)

I don't have the dedication or energy to do the extreme couponing thing. And while I like to have a backup for things I use regularly so as to avoid running out, I don't want to have a year's worth of supplies stocked up.

That's where the mediocre comes in. I want to get savvier about saving money. I started at Walmart last week where I saved $7.00 by using coupons on baby supplies. (When you have a baby, companies send you coupons for diapers, wipes, formula, baby shampoo, ointments, etc.) $7.00 was exciting even if the final bill was still $83 - not exactly free.

I've also started using the coupons that print out on the bottom of my CVS receipts. They often offer $5 off a $15 purchase or something like that. In one case I had a straight out $4 off any purchase coupon which I used on a purchase that was less than $5. I literally paid with just a few coins, my little brush with extreme couponing.

In my couponing effort I keep coupons for products I already use (it's not a deal if you use a coupon to buy something you'll never use). I used to have them fastened in a binder clip, but it wasn't very user-friendly so at Walmart the other day I picked up a small accordion file ($3.88) and labeled it with the categories I needed. Now my coupons are a bit easier to sift through.

Now all I need to do is remember to pick up a Sunday paper so I can really take advantage of coupons. I didn't remember this week. Oops.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Synchronicity and Thankfulness

When I was working through The Artist's Way with Deb Owen a couple of years ago, I learned to notice synchronicity- those times when the universe presents you with a message in multiple ways. Synchronicity came in a particularly unexpected place last week.

I've been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and in it she mentioned a passage from the Bible in Luke about ten lepers whom Jesus told to go to their priests. All ten did and all ten were healed. One (only one) returned to Jesus to thank him. Jesus tells him that his faith has made him well. (Luke 17:11-19)

For some reason that story stuck with me, moreso than many of the other passages Ann shares in her book.

Last week I went to church for the first time in a while (meaning years, with the exception of a random visit here and there). In my small town there are five churches that I know of. I decided to go to the local Presbyterian church.

The congregation was small and amazingly welcoming (and not at all judgmental as has turned me off with other congregations in the past). Their pastor was out of town, so a guest pastor was filling in. Before her sermon there was a scripture reading of three passages, the last of which was Luke 17:11-14.

I was shocked. Of all the passages in the Bible, we read the one that still stirred in the back of my mind from Ann's book.

Now my problem with synchronicity is that, while I recognize it, I don't always know what to do with it. What does it meant that I've been shown this story twice? Perhaps it is a message for me to trust God so I can be cleansed and a reminder to give thanks.

This week I went back to church and the message was about giving thanks, much like One Thousand Gifts discusses. As Ann says repeatedly, "Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle." Eucharisteo is giving thanks.

It seems then that now is a good time to do another Thankfulness post.


Today I am thankful for my family, nuclear and extended. I am thankful for having found some time to write. I am thankful for synchronicity even when I don't understand it. I am thankful for Ann Voskamp's book filled with eloquent, poetic, inspiring words.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Phillies Opening Day

Today is opening day for the Philadelphia Phillies and our whole family is ready, even the littlest one. That's a big sign that spring is here.

My stepson plays baseball and my husband coaches. We will be deep in the game from now through June. They've already had some practices and scrimmages and their opening day is in just a few weeks.

As for the pros, go Phillies! We are excited to have Cliff Lee back and we'd sure like to see them in the World Series again.

It's time to play ball. Baby Jonas is ready. Are you?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wishcasting: Brave

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, "How do you wish to be brave?"

I wish to be brave in my spiritual growth. My footing is often unsure in this area. I'm learning to trust and have faith, but that can be a hard thing to do. I'm trying to hear what God wants to tell me and follow His lead.

Writing any mentions of religion in such a public way is epically scary, particularly when I'm still figuring out what I believe.

This is why I wish for bravery. To be brave enough to continue this journey, learn what I need to learn, and, if so inclined, be able to share my experience.

Finding Time to Write

I'm having a really hard time writing these days. I have ideas that never come to fruition because I can't capture them as they come to me like I used to.

With a newborn at home I rarely get spans of time to let my muse run wild. If I think I have some time, often sleeping wins over writing. I'm so dang tired I can't concentrate sometimes. My last few blog posts and journal entries have been written in fits and starts between caring for Jonas.

So this post is really a question. How do you find time for your creative endeavors with little ones at home taking all your energy? Goddess Leonie, if you can hear me, maybe you have ideas?! Anyone? Bueller?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Mom Bad Mom

Last week I had one of those good mom days. It was the kind of day where baby Jonas and I were clicking. We were working in rhythm. I was prepared for whatever might arise- feeding, changing, snuggle time, tummy time, you name it.

For example, during a visit to my doctor, Jonas started to fuss just as they were bringing me back to the exam room, but it was okay. I had all the fixings for formula and figured I could feed him while waiting for the doctor to come in.

Upon hearing his fussing, the nurse asked me if I needed to nurse. Now you have to understand, I'm not one to breastfeed in public. I have enough trouble doing so at home with my family present even though I have a cover for just that purpose.

Anyhow, that day when the nurse asked, I decided to go for it. It was a doctor's office after all. Nothing they haven't seen before. Once back in the exam room, while the nurse asked me questions with her back turned to me, I breastfed my baby like a pro.

It was an I-rock-at-mommyhood kind of day.

Fast forward to this week. Jonas has been fussy the last few days and sleeping only in short stretches, all of which translates to my being fussy and not sleeping well. We've both been cranky.

Because of that crankiness, on Monday I snapped at my stepson after school over nothing important. Badly. He took it in stride and graciously accepted my apology later.

Bad mom.

Yesterday after one of Jonas' feedings, I finally remembered to consult the infant feeding chart as my husband has asked me to do for a couple of weeks. As it turns out I haven't been feeding Jonas properly for his age.

He is supposed to be eating twice as much per serving in half as many feedings. I've still had him on the eat small and often plan prescribed for the first month. Meanwhile he was supposed to have graduated to bigger and fewer feedings. No wonder he has been fussy and waking up so quickly. The poor little guy has probably been hungry!

Bad mom!

Today is a better day. We are working on bigger feedings and Jonas has been happy for most of the day. Maybe today will turn out to be a good mom day. We'll just have to wait and see.

I knew going in that I wouldn't be a perfect mother. I knew I wouldn't have all the answers. I'm just happy I have good mom days to balance out the bad ones.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Breaking Up With Kathie Lee

It's true. I've broken up with Kathie Lee Gifford. Sorry, but I never cared for her much anyhow.

You see, with baby Jonas occupying all of my time now (and I mean ALL), I've been spending a ton of time on the couch. Ellen DeGeneres has been great company, but the rest of the day television gets old very quickly.

So I've begun braving the world with the baby in tow. Read more in my post at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time to Live

I've been thinking about time a lot lately, mostly in the "where does it go" sense. My days are packed with caring for my baby and seemingly void of time for myself and others. But I wonder if that is my reality or merely a choice. I don't know the answer.

I know that I've been grieving the loss of my time- the time I used to spend reading or writing or getting things done. I know also that I should be present in the moment- that I should focus on the here and now, not on what I need to get to next. I try, but it's not easy to embrace the moment when I keep thinking I really need to do the laundry before I run out of clothes to wear or I really want to write but I don't know how long I have before the baby wakes again.

While sneaking in a few pages of reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp, I came across this: the beep and blink of the twenty-first century, with its "live in the moment" buzz phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync? (page 67)
Ann poignantly encapsules how I feel in this busy world, especially now where my time is no longer my own. In fact, this is what I explore in my blog. This is what Life After Web is all about.

Ann goes on to say something that drove right to my core: "I just want time to do my one life well." (page 68)

Yes! Time to do my one life well. To give up my preconceptions about what I should be doing, what I'm not doing. To know that I am on the right path. My life is different now then it was just 5 weeks ago and that's okay. I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now. If I can remember that, there is enough time for me to do this one life well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Difference a Few Seconds Can Make

There are moments when I look at baby Jonas with his wide-eyed wonder or his happy dream face and I get lost. For a few seconds there is nothing else. No people, no world, no clutter, no responsibilities, no worries. There is only him and me. Only infinite possibility. Only here and now.

In these few seconds I can't imagine being anywhere else. My stomach fills with butterflies, my heart with joy. Those few seconds make sleepless nights and fussy spells a distant memory. Those few seconds bring only hope, dreams, wishes, and wonder.

How lucky I am for moments like these.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcoming Jonas to Working Mother

This is just a quick post to let you know I finally wrote a new post for the Working Mother Mom Blogs. In it, I welcome Jonas and talk about some of the trickier aspects of having a newborn. Check it out here.

Wishcasting: Sharing Gifts

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 gifts do you wish to share?"

I wish to share kindness and encouragement. I believe that small things like smiling at someone, saying hello, asking how they are and really listening to the answer can make a big impact on their day.

I have been the recipient of kind acts in the past few weeks because of our new baby's arrival. A couple of friends have offered to pick things up at the store for us. We haven't taken them up on these generous offers, but the fact that they asked warms my heart.

A couple nights ago there was a knock on our door. A couple that we are friends with dropped off a giant salad, a tray of vodka rigatoni, garlic bread, and homemade banana bread and sponge cake. The woman had been cooking all afternoon so that we wouldn't have to. She said she knows how hard it can be to cook with a baby keeping us busy.

I'm lucky to know such kind people. I want to share kindness and encouragement with others. Simple gifts of paying attention to others and pitching in where possible... those are the gifts worth giving.

What gifts do you wish to share?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Month Old Already?

I can't believe it. My little munchkin is already one month old. One whole month!

He's grown by more than a pound in weight and by one inch in length. When I look at pictures of him from his birth and compare them to how he looks now... well, he looks huge! Seeing him all day every day, I don't notice the subtle changes, but comparing photos makes it all painfully obvious. I feel like I missed out on baby time already.

I have also changed in this first month. My body is beginning to recover, so I can once again do seemingly trivial things like go up and down stairs. As many mothers have experienced, I have lost a lot of time for myself. I don't get to read or write very often at all, but more importantly even showering has become a rushed event at whatever time of day I can squeeze it in.

Another thing I've learned about myself is I have much more patience than I ever imagined. The patience I exhibit with Jonas during fussy spells surprises both me and my husband. I'm hoping it will carry through to other aspects of life as well. What an amazing gift patience is.

Jonas' first month has been quick, happy, trying, and filled with lessons for both of us. He is beautiful. He is also waking up, so away I go!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Introducing Jonas

He's finally here. The sweet baby boy whose arrival we've been awaiting for 9+ long months. And he's beautiful.

Jonas arrived the night of February 8 at a surprising 8 lbs 12 oz and 21.75 inches long. He is a big, healthy boy.

My husband, stepson, and I are thrilled to have him here. We can't stop looking at him and we "argue" over who gets to hold him next. This little boy has no shortage of love.

In these first two weeks I've learned a few things:

  • As I expected, I really miss my sleep.

  • Crying is much easier to handle in daylight hours than nighttime hours.

  • Patience is a virtue.

  • Love is abundant.

  • Though it takes a little longer, I can do a lot of things one handed.

  • I can also pick things up with my toes.  Hooray for flexibility returning!

  • Recovery can't be rushed no matter how much I want to be back to "normal."

  • I find myself at a loss for words when I want to talk to the baby.  He must have heard me say a million times in a choked voice "Hi Jonas" and "You're beautiful."

  • Men don't have the same problem in finding words.  My husband and stepson have educated the baby on many topics, including how to survive a zombie attack.

  • On any given day I worry about whether he is getting enough to eat, how sad I will be the first time he falls off a bike, and how I can prepare him for a future that will undoubtedly be much different than today.

  • Hormones suck.

Motherhood is a big, scary adventure. I have a lot to learn and still need to find some sort of routine. It's pretty amazing, though, to look at my nearly 9 pound baby and think that two weeks ago, he was living inside me. Now he's here and we have a whole world to explore together.

Welcome little one. I will always be here for you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Touchy Topic of Religion

Religion.  There, I said it.  It's one of those taboo topics, like politics, that we aren't supposed to talk about unless we're looking for a debate.  So let me be clear when I say I'm not looking for a debate (though you are certainly welcome to comment about your own thoughts and beliefs).

I come from a long line of Christians (mostly Baptist) and a lot of my extended family continues to go to church faithfully every Sunday.  Some have taught Sunday school and some have served as missionaries.  That works for them.  My own experiences have been different.

I was more of an on-again/off-again Christian, attending church when my mom made me, when I visited family, or when I felt a particular desire to do so.  I've questioned God, the church, and the Bible.  There are some things that don't make sense to me and perhaps never will.  I guess that's why the notion of faith is so strong in religion, right?

Part of my issue was that there were always so many rules of the "if you don't do this then you're not a good Christian" variety.  It felt impossible to live up to.  If you're in trouble before you even start, you kind of wonder what the point is.

One thing that has been fairly constant is I have continued to pray for most of my life, even in times when I was questioning God.  I guess it's comforting to feel like we are connected to something greater.  At the very least, I don't think any of us wants to feel alone.

A few weeks ago I started reading a daily devotional book called The One Year Women's Friendship Devotional by Cheri Fuller.  Some of the verses I like, some of them I don't, and while I understand her accompanying anecdotes, they don't always move me.  I do, however, like the suggested prayers based on the lessons.  That part of the message resonates most with me each day.

So why do I bring this up now?  I'm not sure I even know.  I thought about discussing it here, but wasn't clear on what I would say.  Perhaps it was Connie's post at Dirty Footprints today that helped the words flow out tonight.  "Flow" is the wrong word.  More like stuttered.

It's actually scary for me to talk about religion here because I know my family and old church friends will likely see this post once it feeds into Facebook.  Hopefully they won't flog me for it.

The thing is it's been on my mind for the last two years or so as I've wondered where I stand while reading various books (the Left Behind series and The Year of Living Biblically, for example) and interacting with religious friends and family members.  In this latter case I've often admired their unwavering faith, even while my own faith waved (still waves?).

I'm also a fan of Deb Owen's blogging from the days when she used to write about human resources.  She has since started a blog called Future Smiling focused on her own religious experiences and studies. It was there that I first heard of another Christian blog called (in)courage, which I've been following for the past few months.

That brings me to the point of this whole post.  (side note: In moments like these I laugh to myself as I remember Ellen DeGeneres' book titled My Point... and I Do Have One.)

At (in)courage, they have a book club called Bloom that is starting up a new session this weekend to read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  My copy of the book came yesterday.

According to the description, Ann talks about where she has found examples of God's grace throughout her life.  She is a farmer in the Menonite community with her husband and six children. She also writes for the DaySpring division of Hallmark.  I'm curious to see how she lives and what she has to say about her own faith.  From the introductions at Bloom, including the below video with the book club leaders and Ann, she has already broken my notion of what to expect. She isn't what I would have pictured.

I feel like I made that sound dreadfully dull, so pop over to the Bloom page to find out more about Ann, her book, and the plan for the book club.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Past Due

This photo is me today.  I just took it a few minutes ago.

I've been a little quiet here for the past week while anxiously preparing for our little one's arrival.  It seems, however, he has decided to sleep in.  Maybe he's decided it's warmer where he is than out here in the cold winter world.  I can't blame him there.

And so we wait.

My first due date (January 26) and revised due date (January 30) have both come and gone.  After months of thinking we would likely have a January baby, now we will be having a February baby and I'm pretty darn excited about that.

February is love and amethyst and violets.  February was named for the Latin word februum, meaning purification.  February celebrates the birthdays of my dad and two of my uncles.  Glorious!

For now, though, I'm uncomfortable.  I'm ready to have this baby.  I'm not prepared to go to my stepson's basketball game tonight and sit on the bleachers where everyone will roll their eyes and say, "Why are you still here?" as they've already done for the past month.  Believe me, I'm trying, people!

The baby and God will decide when it's time.  Until then I'll do my best to be patient.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Renewing My Living Space: An Update

Last week for Wishcasting Wednesday, I talked about my desire to renew my living space. With a week now past, I thought about what, if anything, I had done to bring a little renewal to my home.  Thankfully, I was able to think of a few:

  • Went through all my old CD's and uploaded things I wanted to my computer.  Now that box can go to the attic.

  • Moved a few boxes and a double bicycle from one place in the garage to another in order to make space for my car.  For the past week, my car has been safe from the outdoor winter elements.  Yay!

  • Called the phone company who failed to come out as scheduled two weeks ago and got them to come out and fix our phone line which was not working at all.  

  • Built the baby's dresser and stocked it with clothes and changing supplies.  

  • My husband fixed the latch on our front door that was preventing us from opening the door from the outside.  (Yes, being able to get into the house is important to me.)

  • My husband replaced the air filter on our heater.  I watched so I would know how to do it in the future and I also ordered new filters online which arrived yesterday.  Next time it needs to be changed, we'll be able to grab one and switch it out quickly.

Some of the things I'd like to tackle next are...

  • Replacing burned out lightbulbs which is currently an issue in our kitchen, hall, master bathroom, and my stepson's bedroom.

  • Preparing some meals to store in our new freezer.  I suspect having meals available to grab and throw in the oven will be immensely helpful after the baby gets here.

  • Getting the aforementioned box of CDs into the attic.  

  • Taking a box of books to the local used bookstore for someone else to enjoy.

It's all a process.  So far I'm off to a good start I think.  Hopefully I can keep the motivation to keep going.

And speaking of the home, today I posted at Working Mother about my least favorite chores.  Please check it out and let me know what your least favorite chores are.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wishcasting: Hunger

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 hunger do you wish to feed?"

As usual, she asks a great question, one that stumped me for a bit. I went through my day with this question in the back of my mind and came to an answer: connection.

I have been craving connection lately. Connection to my family, friends, other women, myself, spirituality, and my home to name a few. I think I tend to remove myself at times from my surroundings- not necessarily physically, but mentally. It's also not always intentional. Often it is due to setting myself on autopilot.

But lately, I want more. I don't want to be on autopilot. I don't want to seclude myself from others or even hibernate for the winter. Well, sometimes I do. I want those times to be intentional, though. I definitely need my alone time, but even then I want to be connected to myself or a higher being or... something. I wish to feel connected.

In the past few weeks I have had a few opportunities to get together with friends and acquaintances. It's been energizing. Then, last night I received a phone call from a very dear woman whom I rarely get to speak with, but who amazes me with her ever present strength, kindness, and happiness. We spoke for nearly an hour, after which I felt fulfilled in a way that I probably can't express here. She makes me want to be a better person. Part of what makes her amazing is the connection she reaches out to make with others, to make them feel like they matter. I'm so grateful to have met her.

So that's my wish. I'm hungry for connection. It's time to fulfill that hunger.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dreamboard: Blue, blue, and more blue

When inspired to do so, I create a dreamboard collage collecting images that embody how I am feeling now or how I wish to be feeling. A few days ago I created this one:

The largest image, which serves as sort of a background, came from last year's calendar by Leah Piken Kolidas. The print called "Moon Dreams" spoke to me with its soothing blues and peaceful attitude. To that I added a few magazine clippings that appealed to me at first glance: a patch of paper lanterns in blue, green and white; a teddy bear sitting in a wooden chair against a blue wall; and the phrase "Find harmony - within."

In assembling these pieces, the first thing that struck me was the obvious influx of blue. Holy smokes! Does this have anything to do with the baby boy who will be joining us anytime now, or is it something else that makes this color so appealing all of a sudden? I did a quick search for color meanings and came across this interpretation at Color Wheel Pro:
Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

I can see the words "trust," "faith" and "confidence" reflected in Leah's painting. The woman is outside at night looking relaxed and at peace with her surroundings. She is simply basking in the moon's calm energy.

The teddy bear seems to be an obvious nod to baby and my current desire to nest. I'm not sure what to make of the paper lanterns.

I'll be keeping my dreamboard on my desk as I usually do to see what else it conjures.

What is resonating within you these days?

Monday, January 17, 2011

If I Had a Hammer... Oh Wait, I Do

A few months ago my friend introduced me to the blog Young House Love written by a do-it-yourself couple about their home improvement endeavors. I've been hooked ever since, never missing an opportunity to read about their latest project, big or small.

They have so many good ideas for reclaiming space and opening rooms up. What's better, they're not afraid to grab their tools and tear things down, build things up, or redo things themselves.

On Friday after a morning visit to my doctor, I realized that realistically this baby could come at any time. He's due at the end of the month, but they always say it could be two weeks before or after the due date. I'm in that window now.

Now it's crunch time. As much as I've tried to organize baby supplies along the hallway in order to transform the baby's room at the very second it is ready, those baby shower bags filled with clothes and supplies won't be practical to work out of should the baby arrive before the supplies have made it to their proper home.

I had to focus on what I could solve, which meant determining what the biggest issue is. We had already assembled the bassinet in our room, so the baby has a place to sleep. That means my pressing issue was where to change the baby and where to store his clothes that I could get to easily.

My husband and I bought a dresser at IKEA two months ago for just that purpose. Unfortunately it was still in its original boxes in our dining room. So on Friday after my husband left for work I decided I would tackle the dresser assembly.

If Sherry can wield tools, so can I. (That would be Sherry at Young House Love, not a misspelling of my own name.) In fact, I've always had my own tools. After taking wood shop in middle school (where I think I was the only girl who actually had fun in that class), I asked my dad for a tool kit. That Christmas he gave me a set of screwdrivers, a hammer, a level, a tape measure and some pliers wrapped in a Hickory Farms sausage box. I loved that dang kit.

But I digress. The dresser boxes were too heavy for me to carry up the stairs by myself, so I resorted to making many (many, many) trips up and down the stairs carrying a few pieces at a time.

Once everything was upstairs I sorted the pieces into groups of like items- legs, drawer faces, bottoms, rails, screws by size, dowels, etc. - then I opened the picture only instruction manual and got to work. (If you aren't familiar with IKEA, they are a Swedish company. Their manuals are all pictures to avoid translating instructions into multiple languages.)

Over the next few hours I built that dresser. All by myself, thank you very much. (See the below photo.) I set it up in our bedroom until it can be moved to its rightful place in the baby's room. But for now, it is stocked and ready to go, filled with diapers, jammies, onesies, blankets, and tiny little socks.

How about that for some DIY girl power? Oh and in case you're wondering, yes, my husband was seriously impressed that I'd tackled that project by myself. He kept repeating, "You built a dresser?!"

Yes, I did. I wonder what other trouble I can get myself into. What good is a power tool if you don't use it?