Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Monday, January 18, 2016

Learning to Embrace the Story

For the last couple of years, I've seen a trend on social media. Come January, people start posting their "word" for the year. Something that speaks to them, to what they want out of the shiny, clean slate that is a brand new calendar. A word of encouragement; one that points toward a goal. A hope. An area of growth.

I like this idea. But then again, I'm a fan of words in general.

After pondering for a couple of weeks, I think I've landed on my 2016 word of the year...

Embrace.

            em•brace  verb
            1. to accept (something or someone) readily or gladly
            2. to use (an opportunity) eagerly

I especially love how this word applies to both my life in general...

Embrace the messy house. I have two children. And a life. Mess comes with the territory.
Embrace simplicity. Contentment is the new black.
Embrace the present. There are memories to be made now. The future can wait its turn.

...and to my writing career...

Embrace the wait. The perfect thing later is a lot better than the wrong thing now. 
Embrace the rejections. That agent/editor/publisher wasn't the right one. But the next one could be.
Embrace who I am as an author. Focus on sharing a story, not selling a book.

That last one is the hardest (at least for me). I think one of the most sought after - and most feared - words in the writing world is "marketable." If you're a writer you've probably heard people say, "Don't write for the market! Write the story only you can tell!" And if you've ever been told that your book is lovely but not marketable enough, you've probably felt the strong desire to pummel those people with the largest, heaviest book you can get your hands on. (I keep a nice, fat hardcover copy of War and Peace in my living room for just such occasions.) 

(Just Kidding.) 


(Or am I?)

I realized recently, as I've been exploring ideas for new writing projects and revisiting old ones, that I've been trying to shove myself into the elusive box of marketability. And it's sapped a lot of the joy I once felt at the prospect of putting new words on paper. It's a difficult balance, wanting to write the story that brings you joy, but also wanting it to bring you an agent and a book deal. And while I think writing with the awareness of what makes a book marketable is a good thing, writing solely with the intention of creating a sellable story is a recipe for disaster. Writing is like cooking: the secret spice is love. It's the difference between a bland TV dinner and a spicy home cooked meal. It's the difference between a good book and a great one. 

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg

That's not to say that the story you're passionate about comes easy. Even things you love can make you want to pull your hair out (every mother in the world knows this). But it's worth every single edit. Every single rewrite. Every single moment of questioning your sanity.

I read a story this week, after the passing of Alan Rickman, that really drove this point home for me. Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, shared a story on her Facebook page of an interaction she had with Alan at a charity dinner a few years after the filming of the HP movies. At the time, Evanna says, she "was stressing about the pressure I felt to already be a successful actress and that I'd run out of time to make mistakes." Then she goes on to share Alan's advice...

"As an actress, already having to lie about my age at 24, it seems mad that Alan only found his vocation and began his acting journey at 26 and turned out to be…Alan Rickman. But when I told him that I was worried if I didn't figure myself out quickly I would miss the most important opportunities and never get them back, he simply told me that I was focusing on the wrong thing. He said not to worry about getting 'there' and instead to focus on feeding my soul and following my heart from place to place."

As I move into this new year, I want to embrace the stories that are tugging at my heart. The ones I can't stop thinking about. The ones that bring a smile to my face and make me eager to take up my pen again...and again...and again...even when it's hard. 

Because after all, those stories are the reason why I started writing in the first place. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko

What do you do when, just days before Christmas, you're forced to walk out of the emergency room and leave your five-year-old daughter behind? Only she isn't really there anymore, only her body is.

How do you survive such impossible pain?

In his book, Pastor Levi Lusko shows with heartbreaking honesty how to face impossible pain and find incredible power. But Through the Eyes of a Lion is more than just a manual for dealing with grief. In Levi's words, it's "a manifesto for high-octane living." Those words couldn't be more true. I've never experienced the level of pain that Levi and his wife Jennie did the day their daughter Lenya left this earth. But I have struggled with fear, anxiety, and defeat, and I walked away from this book encouraged and empowered to change the way I view the challenges in my life.

Posing questions like "How do you live out an extraordinary calling while doing ordinary things and living in a world that is all screwed up?" Levi uses his real life experiences to teach you how to hurt with hope, look past what you can see, and let go of fear to become the you you were meant to be. And he does so with a mix of authenticity, brevity, gravity and humor that makes this not only a powerful read, but one you can easily engage with. From "cue the eagle" to "pain is a microphone" and "run toward the roar" the pages are full of tidbits of wisdom and key phrases that will stick with you long after you finish reading. Whether you're struggling under the weight of seemingly unbearable pain, or facing the everyday difficulties of life, this book offers renewed hope--for both your present and your future. 

"When you have hope, gale-force winds can blow and tsunami waves can smash into the hull of your life, but you are buoyed by the belief that the best is yet to come, that brighter days are ahead. Hope quietly tells your heart that all is not lost, even as storms rage."

Available today at a bookstore or online bookseller near you! Grab a copy for yourself and one (or two or three or four) for anyone in your life who needs to hear more about the power of hope.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Confessions of a Storm Chaser

When I'm not feeling well, the first thing my husband says to me isn't "Oh, honey, I'm sorry. Can I get you anything?" It's "DO NOT GET ON WEB MD." This is usually immediately followed by me hastily clicking the home button on my phone and pretending I was only scrolling through Facebook. 

I've gotten very good at covert Googling while "going to the bathroom."

For the last week and a half I've been battling the crud which has overtaken our house. At one point I was convinced my lung was collapsing under the weight of the mucus filling my bronchi. Kudos to my husband for not laughing out loud when I told him I SWEAR IT SOUNDED SO WEIRD WHEN I INHALED. 

I'll forgive him for laughing on the inside. 

My propensity for anxiety isn't limited to hypochondria. Confession: I will pretty much worry about anything. And everything. This is not the part of my personality that I'm most proud of. While I was coughing and sniffling and freaking out over the possibility that I might have to go to the ER doctor, I started reading Kate DiCamillo's latest novel, Flora & Ulysses, in which Flora is a self-professed natural-born cynic with a love for comic books (Ulysses is a squirrel, in case you were wondering). After my husband's very sweet reassurances that I was not, in fact, dying, but simply had a nasty cold, I couldn't help but laugh and read him a section of the book:

        "At the back of each issue of The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! there was a series of bonus comics. One of Flora's very favorite bonus comics was entitled TERRIBLE THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! As a cynic, Flora found it wise to be prepared. Who knew what horrible, unpredictable thing would happen next?"

I'm rather uncomfortable with how much Flora and I have in common.

Which is why I need reminders like these:



Thursday, July 17, 2014

And...We're Back

Ah, almost midnight and here I am, desperately typing out a blog post that is long overdue. Feels just like old times. Old times being like two months ago when I clearly remember warning you of my impending silence. Not only did I make it to summer vacation with all most of my sanity intact, but we managed to survive The Great Move of 2014 with limited casualties. We did lose a lego man who succumbed to a suspicious looking skin condition after being trapped under the fridge for an indeterminate amount of time. (I kid you not, I felt horrible about throwing him in the trash. I blame the Lego Movie.) Now we're all settled into the new house and taking quite nicely to life in good old-fashioned suburbia. Seriously, our next door neighbors have already brought cake and offered up the babysitting services of their teenage granddaughter. We now have a garage and underground sprinklers and a sunken living room where I anxiously watch out the window as my children walk two houses down, BY THEMSELVES, to play with their friends. I feel like I've finally been admitted to the sacred and hallowed halls of adulthood. And I am okay with this.

Before I dropped off the face of the blogosphere I did manage to read a phenomenal book. A book so good that I read it in one day. Want to know what it is? I'll be posting the review on Friday. (Yes, yes, I disappear for over a month and then I make you wait some more. For shame, I know.)

So. Recap: Life happened. Busy. No posts. Back. More posts soon.

Until then, enjoy this badly photoshopped, yet epically hilarious thing I found on Pinterest. Because it made me giggle. Also, because it really is midnight now and I'm too tired to come up with a more clever sign off.









Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means...

Normally being a night owl doesn't bother me. I can slave over my manuscript until midnight and still get at least seven hours of sleep. It's all good. But then again, most nights I don't usually get pulled from sleep and given a near heart attack.

Allow me to explain.

We're moving. Our house is sold (yay!) and we're closing on the new house in less than three weeks (also yay!). The packing has commenced. Yesterday afternoon, the hubby and I cleaned out our under-the-stairs storage space in the basement. This kicked up quite a bit of dust.

In case you didn't know, smoke alarms possess a deep hatred for dust.

Of course, it waited until the smoke-alarm-secret-oath time of 4am to give a "nuisance alarm."



Whoever decided the word "nuisance" was appropriate, should be locked in a room and subjected to 85 decibels of ear-piercing screeching x6. Because as it turns out, if your house has an interconnected system of wired-in smoke alarms, when one goes off, they ALL GO OFF.

More like a WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON alarm.

The upstairs alarms are in three locations: the master bedroom, the kids' bedroom, and the hall. Which means they're all approximately three feet away from each other. I've been to rock concerts that were quieter. I'm freaking out, the kids are freaking out. My poor husband, who is transitioning from days off to graveyard shift has only been asleep for an hour and is scrambling to get a chair and hit the silence button. Finally we get it shut off.

The silence lasted for a whole 45 seconds before they all started screeching again, only to shut off on their own a couple seconds later. There's no smoke. No signs of any sort of emergency. After another round of on-and-off, my husband unplugs the hall detector. IT KEEPS BUZZING. I'm yelling over the noise to take the back-up battery out, he does and, finally, they all shut off and stay off. It looked like we found the culprit, so we calmed down the kids, I stayed in their room and my husband went back to bed.

About a minute later they all go off AGAIN.

At this point, no detector is safe. They all get unplugged and their batteries ripped out (serves them right). This is when my husband notices the basement alarm in front of the storage space has a red light instead of a green light. I Google the manual and it turns out the red light signals the trip alarm. Thankfully, this confirms the dust theory and I can stop envisioning our attic smoldering silently above our heads.

I don't care if automated houses are going to take over the world someday. I'm saving up for a smoke detector that talks to me when it goes off and tells me where the alarm is coming from. Preferably in a soothing British accent.

Now. Where's the coffee?



Monday, March 3, 2014

Pass the Burnt Toast

Lately I've been suffering from that dreaded ailment all writers and artists fear: creative burnout. I've always thought creative burnout was something that happened when you spent too much time creating. But the truth is, I haven't done a whole lot of creating at all lately, and what I have done, I haven't exactly been enjoying. You may have noticed the blog has been quiet silent for the last couple of weeks. The reason is simple: I haven't had anything to say. I've been fresh out of ideas, even if I did have the energy at the end of the day to write something. I don't even have a book review to post because I'm only halfway through the novel I started reading a month ago. UGH. Enter cranky Ashley. Apologies to my poor husband and children.

This weekend I decided enough was enough. I was going to figure out what the problem was and fix it. And here's the conclusion I've come to: My creative burnout is really just plain old, everyday burnout. I suspect most of you will identify with me when I say I've just been too damn busy. I wake up in the morning with a to-do list at the forefront of my mind and by the end of the day if I haven't checked off EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM I feel like a complete and utter failure. There's always one more thing that needs to be done, but no matter what I'm doing I always feel like I should be doing something else. And relaxing? Ain't nobody got time for that. (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

As a result, my post-kids'-bedtime writing routine is no longer working because by the end of the day I'm exhausted, frustrated, and the last thing my brain wants to do is function. Writing has become a chore, just another thing on my crushing to-do list. And when your passion becomes a chore, you've got a problem.

So...what to do about it?


Easier said than done, right? It's a question I've heard a lot from my creative friends, especially those friends who are also moms. How do you balance doing what you want to do with doing what you need/have to do? Yes, I'd love to finish writing that novel, but there's also a house to be cleaned, the kids have to be taken to school (or if you're a homeschool mom like me, be schooled), the family has to be fed, this job has to be finished by that deadline...and on and on and on.

So how does one go from complaining (because let's be honest, we've all had a good whine about our schedules) to changing?

I'm not sure I have a one-size-fits-all answer, but I'd like to share my personal plan with you. I'm going to shake things up. I'm going to stand my usual routine on its head and attempt to go from night owl to early bird. Why? Because I'm tired of busyness stealing my joy. I really want to write that novel. And I want to implement something awesome from Don Miller, author of one of my all time favorite books, Blue Like Jazz. On his blog, Don has provided a free download of his Storyline Productivity Schedule. The first thing that struck me about the idea behind this schedule was Don's opening question: "What if problems like writers block and procrastination were less about your shortcomings and more about how you structure your work day?" The Storyline Productivity Schedule is all about managing your mental energy, not just your time. It helps you focus on one thing at a time, prioritize your day, finish projects, and allows for rewards and rest to help you periodically recharge. 

I don't know about you, but I think that sounds fantastic.

So for the next 30 days, I'm going to utilize the Productivity Schedule and hopefully be on my way to a healthier, more creative, more productive, and--most of all--more present and happier me. I'll let you know how it goes. If you're interested in joining me, you can read more about the schedule and download your free copy on the Storyline Blog. And if nothing else, I hope you find some encouragement knowing you're not the only one who struggles with finding a daily balance. We're all in this together. 

Here's to doing more by slowing down. Cheers!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Empathy in the Real World

Last night all of America grimaced as we watched Bode Miller endure a very uncomfortable--and tactless--interview. My heart went out to him. I was saddened by the story of his brother's death, so glad he medaled, and so sorry that he had to be subjected to a slew of inconsiderate questions at such a vulnerable moment. I--along with many others--simply couldn't understand why someone could be so thoughtless in the face of such intense grief.

It's not the first time in the last week that I've had the subject of grief on my mind. Recently I've been pondering the reality of pain in a media-soaked culture. We make connections with hundreds of people--both close friends and random strangers--every day via social media. This exponentially increases our chances of encountering another person's pain or grief. Last week, on the same day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook the news that she'd lost an old friend to cancer while another woman, who I know only via her Instagram feed, posted about the memorial service being held for her daughter who was stillborn at 37 weeks. And I started thinking: How often do we scroll past the pain in our feeds? I know I'm guilty of it. It saddens me to think that I'm more likely to shed a tear for a fictional character in a book or film than I am for the real live people I see experiencing real live pain.

I'm not saying we do it because we're cruel or indifferent or uncaring. We do it because grief is uncomfortable. Pain is uncomfortable. Especially when you've never experienced personally what another person is going through. We don't know what to say, we fear saying the wrong thing, and so we skip over those posts, those tweets, without saying anything at all.

As an author I want to evoke emotions in my readers. And that's not a bad thing. My own favorite books and movies are the ones that make me laugh, or cry, or--preferably--both. But I never want to feel more empathy for a fictional character than I do for the real people that I encounter each day.

I would challenge you--challenge us--to stop next time we're tempted to scroll a little faster. Don't shove empathy aside. Instead, take the time to hit "comment" or "reply". It can be as simple as saying "I'm sorry you're going through this." Or "You're in my thoughts." No words? Even an emoticon heart is better than silence.

And that's the great thing about the internet and this crazy online community that has become part of our reality: While it gives us more opportunities to be confronted with pain and grief, it also gives us more opportunities to do something about it.

Let's not waste it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Decade and Counting



We met on a late spring evening doing yard work outside an old stone victorian house on the upper west side during a youth group service project. I was quietly raking leaves by myself, having been assigned to a different job than my best friend (who was one of only three people I actually knew there), when A BOY came over and started talking to me. Despite my notorious shyness around members of the opposite sex, I was amazed at how quickly we fell into comfortable conversation. We talked for the rest of the evening. When he asked for my number at the end of the night I gave it to him, at which point my best friend nearly died from shock.

That weekend he asked me if I would go out with him. I said yes. Eight months and thirteen days later I said, "I do." Today, ten years and two kids later, I still love hearing him say, "This is my wife." Seriously, it never gets old.

If I were to list all the ways my husband has made my life better over the last ten years, you'd never be able to spare the time to read it. Thanks to him I have a deeper appreciation for film, music, and hot sauce. And of course, those two crazy, wonderful children. He never fails to tell me I'm beautiful on the days when I'm feeling the opposite. He's an amazing cook, isn't afraid to watch chick-flicks, and wholeheartedly agrees that our house needs more bookshelves. He's my biggest supporter, always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and there with the perfect words when I'm feeling like I'm the worst writer in the history of novelists. He's my best friend. And on top of all that, he loves me every single day, even when I've got my cranky pants on.

Pretty sure I'm the luckiest woman in the universe.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Whatever

I don't know about you, but when it comes to the daily to-do list, I have a tendency to focus on all the things I haven't accomplished, rather than all the things I have.

For instance, I spent a good portion of this morning worrying over the fact that I haven't posted anything on the blog in two weeks. I mean, that's terrible blog etiquette. I missed a prime opportunity to start off the new year with a blogging bang. I really should be more prepared with these things. Maybe I need to add "be more organized" to my list of New Year's Resolutions Goals.

But then I looked at the quote that I meant to post last week (but of course never got around to) and I was reminded of one of things I actually do want to be better at this year.


In the last 14 days I've celebrated Christmas and rung in a new year, visited with family, learned how to play Farkle, worked on several graphic design projects, spent time with good friends, scored an awesome pair of shoes on clearance, watched my husband and son put together over a thousand Lego bricks, discussed wedding plans with my future sister-in-law, played about twenty games of Sorry! with my kids, and wrote and/or edited almost every single day. The house has been moderately clean, the bills have been paid, the laundry has been washed (if not put away), and all persons and cats have been fed.

That's a lot of awesome. The fact that I didn't put up a blog post doesn't seem like that big of a deal when compared with all the things I did do.

With 2014 ahead of us, all shiny and new and ripe with possibility, it's good to remember that one year is made up of 365 days. In the midst of setting goals and making resolutions, let's have grace with ourselves and our days--especially when they don't go as planned. Because there really is more to life than what makes it on the to-do list.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's On My Bookshelf

Today's post is part of a link-up happening over at Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. I love Anne's blog. She's one of those bloggers who has the ability to make it seem like you're just having a chat over coffee. Her blog has such a great variety of posts on books, beauty and fashion, and just...LIFE.

This week Anne asked her readers to share their bookshelves. If you know me (or if you've ever taken a gander at my "No Place Like Home" Pinterest board), you know what a perfect prompt for a blog post this is for me. I believe a home without books is no home at all, and someday I pledge to have at least one wall of floor to ceiling shelves. So, without further adieu, a peek into my living room...



These guys get the highest shelf, partly to be out of reach of small, dirty fingers, but mostly because it's my favorite shelf. This one holds all my vintage books, including some of my favorite classics. (Alice in Wonderland has a bookmark in it because it's inspiration for the NaNoWriMo novel I'm working on this month.) The best ones have inscriptions on the first page. You can read the most darling inscription in this Instagram photo.


What it looks like when you have more books than shelves. Confession: There's a book on this shelf that I bought this summer and still haven't read. But this shelf also holds the series I've read and re-read the most times: The O'Malley Chronicles by Dee Henderson. I met my husband, who was a firefighter at the time, right after reading The Protector. Needless to say, it's my favorite of the series.


This shelf holds some of my favorite, most magical children's/YA books, plus (randomly, I know--I'm surprised the cross in genres doesn't drive me crazy...) Blue Like Jazz and Start--two of the books I most often, and most highly, recommend. My Flavia deLuce novels get special attention with their poison bottle companion. And the thing that really makes this shelf awesome? The manilla folder you can just make out in the shadows to the right. That's my children's book manuscript, in all its printed glory.


And lastly, the overflow stacks. My bookshelves have pretty much reached their max capacity, so several books have wandered to the half wall between the living room and kitchen. As you can see, they don't always stay between the bookends. This is where the currently-being-read books (and a few favorites) live along with the novels visiting from the library and the pile of Relevant magazines.


Okay, one more (then I promise I'm done). My kids have their own shelves in their room, filled to overflowing. (Plus there's a basket tucked in next to the bookshelves in the living room that holds another pile of picture books, chapter books, and easy readers borrowed from the library.) One of the biggest goals I have as a mom is to pass on my love of reading. Yesterday my daughter finished one book she'd already started and then went on to read an entire Ivy+Bean novel. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for checking out this little peek into my world! Want to see what other bookworms are reading? Visit the link up post at Modern Mrs. Darcy and browse their shelves!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Tis the Season

Even though it's not officially fall yet, with the start of a new school year, it certainly feels like it's begun. Which makes me very, very happy. Fall is my favorite season. There's a reason every book I've ever written has been birthed during the fall months. There's something about autumn that reinvigorates my creative spirit. The changing colors, the crisp air, the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin....even my favorite music seems to take on a richer sound. (I'm listening to the new The Civil Wars album as we speak. Best. Fall. Music. Ever.) Plus, I am not a hot weather person. Me + any temperature above 75 = cranky pants. I like my skinny jeans, my scarves, my hot drinks, and my comforter. So by this time each year, Summer and I have stopped speaking and I'm ready to move on--even if Summer isn't. So what's an autumn girl to do when it's mid-September and still eighty-five degrees outside? Don the jeans (heat be damned), stockpile the apple cider k-cups that were on sale, and put up the fall decorations, of course.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Cold Water in a Hot Pan

FYI, this is what happens when you add cold liquid to a hot pan.

Don't worry, only my pride was wounded.

It was the middle of a busy weekend and we'd spent an entire day running errands around town. Dinner was supposed to be done in twenty minutes. The chicken looked and smelled delicious, but the Asian sauce was starting to overcook and turn into a bubbling, black glaze in the bottom of the baking dish. No biggie. I'd just pour some chicken broth in the pan to deglaze it and keep it from burning any further while it finished cooking. Without thinking, I did what I've done a dozen times in my metal roasting pan - I grabbed an open box of broth from the fridge and started to pour.

The second the pan exploded with an adrenaline inducing BANG! I realized my mistake. Epic housewife fail. My dear husband (once he recovered from his near heart attack) was sweet enough not to tease me, and immediately took charge of ordering and picking up take-out from the only restaurant within ten miles of our house while I swept the glass off the floor.

The next morning, equal parts embarrassed and annoyed, I set to work cleaning out the inside of the stove-turned-blast-zone. Like any good writer trying to build a platform, I thought to myself, "How can I use this in a blog post?"

As I carefully dropped chunks of Anchor Hocking into the trash, I landed on an idea. The perfect analogy. (Okay, maybe it's not perfect, but bear with me).

Have you ever been in the middle-lands of your story and found it wanting? Nothing is happening. The highlight of your last chapter was your main character's grocery list. Or maybe the story is progressing and things are going smoothly - but that's the problem. Smooth is boring. Smooth has no pizazz. Smooth is the opposite of that story-sustaining thing called conflict.

You need to throw cold water in a hot pan. Create an explosion.

There's a commonly hailed rule of thumb among those of us who participate in NaNoWriMo: Story lagging? Kill someone off! But it doesn't have to be that drastic. Chances are, somewhere within your story is something you can use to catapult your tale to the next level. What can you make go wrong? Do it. Which character is supposed to be your MC's ally? Make 'em go dark side.

My very first NaNoWriMo, my story was chugging along, but I was seriously beginning to doubt my ability to sustain it to 50,000 words--not to mention whether it was interesting enough for someone to want to read it to that length. I needed something unexpected to happen. And then one day, as I sat at my desk typing away, my main character's contact in the realm he'd just entered--the person who was supposed to be his only ally in a foreign land--poured him a cup of tea. Spiked with a drug that would render my MC unconscious. I would love to tell you this was a brilliant and intentional strategy, but the honest truth is, it wasn't planned at all. I literally looked at my computer and said--out loud--"You weren't supposed to do that."

But...BOOM! It worked. The heat was already there, it just needed the cold water. And the resulting conflict gave me exactly the twist my plot needed and carried my story through to its conclusion.

Sometimes we get lucky and the story writes itself. Other times you have to search out the solution. Either way, don't be afraid to do something unexpected, even if it wasn't what you originally planned.

Because a burger and fries can taste really good even though you planned on having chicken for dinner.

What about you? Do you have a kitchen disaster story? Share in the comments! Maybe there's an analogy in there somewhere. Or the beginnings of a "What Not to Do in the Kitchen" handbook...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Small Things {July Edition}

Sometimes it's the little things. Here's the stuff I'm loving this month...

Little Red Chair

You may remember I mentioned my friend Chelsea and her blog, Little Red Chair, in the very first Picture Quote Monday post. Well, Chelsea recently re-vamped her blog and started a "Lessons From" series. Her first two greats: Julia Child, and Emily Dickinson. Have I mentioned I adore this girl? Check out all her beautiful (and delicious) posts, including the orange zest bundt cake recipe, which immediately went on my must-bake list. And while you're at it, like her Facebook page to see all the incredible skills this girl has when it comes to renovating and decorating.




Housewife Gadgetry

This is probably the peak of housewifely nerdiness, but I'm in love with my new in-sink dishrack. Gone are the days of having a dish towel covered in a precarious stack of dripping, non-dishwasher-safe dinner and drinkware taking up counter space. Think me lame if you will, but I'm the type of person who has a hard time relaxing if my house is messy, and dishes are at the top of my super-annoying-must-clean-up-now list. The fact that this allows me to dry the hand-wash only items without cluttering up my kitchen makes me ridiculously happy.




Quitting Stuff

A week ago, myself and about 2000 other people embarked on an adventure in the form of an online social experiment by none other than Jon Acuff, author of START. The Start Experiment is all about taking risks and pursuing individual goals in an encouraging and supportive group environment. I'll be posting more about the experiment and my goal later in the week, but I wanted to share one of the recent daily challenges. Jon asked us to make a "quit list" of 3-5 things we could each quit doing that would open up more time, energy, or hope for our dreams. My list? Quit worrying. Quit exhausting myself. Quit being insecure. Since taking steps toward implementing these three things, my happiness level has definitely gone up. Even my husband commented on how much less stressed I've been. Who knew quitting could be such a good thing?

What about you? In the midst of a busy summer, what helps you slow down and just enjoy life?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Daring}

dar·ing adjective : disposed to venture or take risks; bold in action or thought