January 30, 2013

Brokenness a Strength?

This past year has been full of feeling things deeply. Sobs emerge out of the calm, and laughter erupts in broken moments. I can't figure out if I'm waking from emotional sleep or just having more of an awareness in life, but I'm grateful. I'm immersed and I feel it. It's powerful and terrifying.
I sat beside a mom at a basketball game on Saturday who was holding her two-year-old son with his thumb in his mouth nuzzled close to her. He didn't say a word the entire game, just cuddled and stared with big eyes. I sat there almost grieving; not because my kids are older now, but because I didn't do things the way I dreamed I would. I'm not the perfect mom I imagined. I seem to live by the If/Then complex ~ thinking if I had done {fill in the blank} then I would've been {insert great word here}.
Deciding between a perfect person or someone that has faults and admits them; I have to go with the latter. At least that's what I say cognitively. But the way I live is quite different. I let the guilt of not being perfect cling to me like static clothes. It's hard to let go of those perfect shadows.
I'm broken. And as hard as I try, I can't fix it. I will never be perfect. But I can be patched. I can live a life of chipped thoughts and cracked moments. I can feel them deeply and love them as they are. I can remember that brokenness is like a pile of mismatched fabric pieces that when arranged properly, can become a beautiful patchwork quilt.
Maybe our lives are meant to be like that, a melding of broken pieces into one beautiful life ~ like stained glass or a mosaic. We so avoid those splinters of life that we forget the art it's creating up ahead. I'm beginning to see brokenness not as a deficit, but as a strength. It's what bleeds us together and ties us into one unified mass. Seeing it, I feel more alive, more connected to everything around me. The wounds help me love deeper, sing sweeter and hope stronger. Yes, I believe brokenness is a strength.

Photos: //an apple in the kitchen window//colorful straws//the plant I love and forget to water//Harry Potter wands {diy here}//

January 28, 2013

A Spending Break

I'm trying something new in February: I'm taking a spending break.

This means I'll pare down spending on wants and only spend on needs. I decided to do this after reading Rachel's post about the Spending Fast then afterwards obsessing over reading the blog And Then We Saved. I know this idea sounds dull and restrictive, but I'm excited about it because of the potential to save money.

In the book The Happiness Project, Gretchen talks about people who are abstainers versus those who are moderators. Abstainers find it easier to abstain from things if they cut it all out instead of moderating. Moderators can't stand to be ruled by extremes and must moderate the rules. I, apparently, am an abstainer. And because of this, I'm going to restrict myself to NO spending on wants (see list below). I would like to commit to doing this for a month and if I am able to save, will continue doing so for perhaps a year.

Things I will spend on (my needs):  house, gas, food, bills, medicine, doctor/dentist, haircuts

Things I won't spend on (my wants):  eating out, coffee shops, clothes, books, movies, shoes, gifts, makeup, trinkets, house decor

Here are some things I plan to do to make this an easier transition:

Use What I Have
I've been decluttering but still have a cabinet full of make-up and lotions I haven't begun to use up. So, instead of buying more, I'm going to use what I have. This goes for the pantry and freezer too, (Tuna, I'm looking at you). I'll use materials I own to create DIY's for the house and to hopefully create meaningful gifts.

Get Rid of What I Don't Want/Need
This seems obvious, but I need to remove things I don't use out of my house, closet, drawers. I'm going to sell what I can on Craig's list to help my savings grow. Everything else will be given away, gifted away or reused.  This helps me save in the long run because I'm not paying to clean it, store it or add wear and tear to my home or closet. Also if I re-use something, it'll fill a need without having to purchase anything.

Take Advantage of Free or Discounted Stuff
I've already compiled a list of free fun activities around my city. I also plan to take full advantage of MidAmerica Food ($30 for a box of food ~ mostly meat!). I'll share more of what I find as I go along. I'm also part of Freecycle so if I have a need, I can always see if there's a listing and then get it free.

Make My Own Fast-Food
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but one of my biggest and most tempting money wasters is fast-food. I've formed a bad habit of grabbing a pizza or burgers on nights I don't really want to fix a meal. My plan of action is to cook meals on Sunday night for the week. I know I'm must less tempted to stop in a drive-through when dinner will only take fifteen minutes to heat. Also, I plan to use the crock pot more often. If I have veggies sliced and ready to pour in the crock pot; it'll be easier to follow through. One night of preparation for the week will help me create healthy and inexpensive fast-food.

These are my thoughts as I begin; I'll keep you posted on how I do. Have you ever done something like this?

Read through my progress: Update 1Update 2; and Final.

January 25, 2013


I've had so much fun painting this week. Ended up having extra time to just enjoy it and play around. {I posted the progress on this one earlier because I wasn't finished, but I finished it last night and added the top photo} It's amazing how painting contributes to my happiness. I feel so much lighter afterwards, as if a load evaporated off my shoulders.

We have my son's basketball game Saturday morning and it's going to be the most difficult team of the season. He is psyched about it. I am too, because it'll be a fun game to watch. What are you doing this weekend?

January 24, 2013

The Fun of Specs

About a month ago, Firmoo contacted me about trying a pair of their glasses and letting everyone here know what I thought. I checked out their website, even "tried on" glasses by using a picture. I chose these, somewhat vintage-looking glasses and I'm loving them!
It's been fun to pair them with different outfits. Wearing glasses, I feel as though I look more:
and playful.

I'm not usually one to promote products, but Firmoo offers a first pair free program that I really like. Not to overstate the obvious, but your first pair of glasses is completely free. They have such gorgeous ones to choose from, prescription and non-prescription. So even if you don't need glasses, {but would love to spice up some outfits with them} you can order a pair.

Please let me know if you try them out, I'd love to see photos of your new specs!

Disclosure: Glasses c/o Firmoo to review. Opinions are mine.

January 23, 2013

Don't Do It All

In the midst of a world shouting, "Do it all!"; let me whisper, "Don't do it all. Find the sweet spot and do that."

If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed in the fall I went from posting five days a week to three. This was intentional. I found that for this season in my life, writing three posts a week is my sweet spot. It took me awhile to come to that decision and a ton of struggling to let go of the other two days. But I'm so grateful I did. The posts I share are more me. Getting them ready doesn't stress me, it's a good fit. But if I had pushed myself and held on to doing it all, I would have continued at a pace I wasn't suited for, and probably burned out.
I recently whittled my closet down to about twenty things. It's my everything-fits-and-I-really-like-these-clothes sweet spot. I'm attempting to declutter my house and make it simple.  Minimalism decor is becoming my sweet spot. I share these things because it's taken me many years to come to these places and be okay with little or confining myself to boundaries.
I've lived a life of guilt for not being able to do it all. I still fight against it. But I'm getting there and the burden is lifting.

Why is it we think we must have it all, be it all and do it all? 

Are we invincible? Do we have limitless strength and energy? 

No one can literally do it all. We know this, and yet...we try. I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to better ourselves and reach for challenging goals. But being realistic about what we can handle seems blurred.

Be Honest

What do you naturally gravitate to? I'm naturally a homebody who loves quiet and books. I still enjoy getting out with people, interacting and enjoying them; but too much of it wears me out. Knowing this has given me freedom say no to invitations and not always go to everything. Simply being honest in this way has reduced my stress level.

Be You

Sure I may love seeing quilts and browsing scrapbooking magazines, but that doesn't mean I have to sew quilts or create scrapbooks. I can enjoy what others do without having to do them myself. It took me awhile to be okay with the fact that I don't like to go out as much as my friends, that my house doesn't look as adorable as others and my outfits are more comfy than fashionable. But once I began to embrace these things about myself, I could make better judgments about what I could and couldn't do.

Find Your Sweet Spot

Defining what is most important to you will determine all the other decisions in your life. My family is one of my sweet spots. If something I want to do will take too much time away from them, then I take it off my list. I won't always have kids in my home and this is a choice I make to be with them while they are here. Quiet time is also one of my sweet spots. That sounds odd, but I'm one of those people who needs quiet to process. If I go too long without some quiet time to myself, I start shutting down. I don't have as much energy or patience to handle hard situations. Knowing that about myself, I make sure I have some quiet time each day.

If we all streamline our focus from doing it all to doing a few things really well, I believe we'll change the world for the better and be less weary or broken in the end. 

What are your thoughts on this?

Photos: //Coffee Ring ~ a thoughtful birthday gift from my daughter//A Portrait of Me ~ created by a sweet friend as we were chatting over coffee//New Journals ~ for the new year//Polka Dot Wallet ~ snagged during a major sale//

January 21, 2013

Fairy Sightings: Fallen Tree

She pretends to hide, but actually loves attention. Her giggle echos across the field; mischievousness circles her like a halo. Childishness gives her bravery and a mind full of pranks. Photographers beware, she'll trip you and laugh at your folly.

{In case you're curious, here's last week's sighting}

January 18, 2013

The Sorting Hat

I'm helping a friend with a Harry Potter birthday party this week and it's been so fun that I'm tempted to throw one for my birthday come November! :) `

To make the sorting hat: 
1. I sketched out what I'd like to incorporate. I'm visual, so getting an good idea of dimensions helped me. 
2. After I had a vision of what I wanted, I crafted the inner form out of a construction paper; but you could just use an old witch's hat.
3. I glued strips of paper bags all over the form with ModPodge. I used a rubber band around the top to hold it in place to dry as I layered on the base. 
4. For the face, I folded small pieces (accordion style) for the eyebrows and then put long strips (folded in half to give dimension) for the mouth.
5. After everything was dry (I let it sit for an afternoon), I wrinkled the top to let it sag over.

Very simple to do, especially if you work on it while watching Doctor Who. :) I'll be sharing the wands I made later.

January 16, 2013

A Song Pop Life

My kids are hugely into Song Pop. It's a game where you compete with another person to see who can guess the song/artist of a set of songs the fastest. I must say that I fail at this game. Even though I consider myself good at naming songs I can't do it in two notes! I'm just not fast enough. In fact, I get irritated because if it's a great song, I want to keep hearing the rest of it. Of course, that doesn't help win a timed game. And if someone else is playing and I keep on humming the song--that's lethal.
I'm noticing the Song Pop trend in life. Everyone is in a big hurry, on to the next thing, what can we accomplish, and the beauty of the song is being overlooked. It's like we grab the part of life we think we'll need and then we're off to the next thing. Almost like a Hunger Games version of living. We've forgotten to notice the small, beautiful moments of life because we're in such a hurry to win.
I've been attempting to notice things more. I'm trying to remember what it was like as a kid in the age of innocence when every little thing could be a wondrous miracle. My second-born daughter was a loud little babe. She could scream at ear-bursting pitches. This attribute was adorable at any gift-giving occasion. It didn't matter how small or large the present, she squealed and celebrated each gift. We would all laugh and enjoy her sweet, grateful little spirit. We had to remind her that she had more to open and prod her to keep going because she would be so caught up in the gift she held in her hand she'd forget the rest. She wasn't greedy, she was grateful.
I've been trying to practice this lately. To explore the wonder of a box of crayons, the simple pleasure of a mound of stickers, or the teary beauty of one soulful song.
I want to dance to the song of life and stop trying to win the game.
Photos: //A ceramic bowl I painted, now full of magazine words//Chantilly Songs adorable card and button which came with her amazing c.d - it's been on replay since I got it//Apple and cinnamon water - my latest trick to keep drinking water//

January 14, 2013

Fairy Sightings: Under the Icicles

Under the icicles, she perches astride the fence. The cold stillness of the day doesn't seem to bother her, she's too settled in her thoughts. I envy her, so perfectly content and absorbed she doesn't even notice me. And I long to be there ~ the peaceful sitting, the silent pondering of nature's beauty, bringing priorities into focus. Keep on spinning, world, but I'll pause in the quiet moments. I'll ponder my own shortcomings and contemplate plans to improve. I'll soak in the beauty around me. I'll stop worrying about tomorrow and enjoy this tender, fleeting moment.

{In case you're curious, here's last week's sighting}

January 11, 2013

Let Tears Fall Where They May, You Will Be Okay

Been walking through some difficult days with people lately and this painting emerged as I was processing. Grief in all it's elements can be tough. But I have seen that even when you're broken, you can be okay. Something about that is hopeful during dark times.

Apart from that, I've been sorting through thoughts about my art. I've had a dry spell and couldn't figure out why. Finally I realized I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform, produce and sell. So I've decided to take a break from my shop to get my painting groove back. I'm also letting go of expectations to paint at a certain level or to keep within a certain genre. I'm going to get back to playing, the way I used to. I'm giving myself freedom to create anything. Just deciding this has been a relief and I'm already playing with ideas.

What are your thoughts? How do you fight burnout?

January 9, 2013

My Simple Advice on Talking to Teens

As soon as a child is handed over to your care, you quickly learn how much you've yet to learn. I've crashed and burned so many times on this parenting path; but each lesson has been worth the bumps. Today, in honor of my eldest daughter's birthday, I thought I'd share some tips I've learned about talking with your teen. If you're parenting, aunting/uncling, mentoring or teaching children on the brink of teen-hood, I hope this'll give you a helpful start.
Don't talk, listen.
When my firstborn hit puberty, I wasn't listening very much. I wrongly assumed she didn't want to talk since she holed up in her room most of the time listening to music. But a wise friend pointed out that I should try being around, and that's when it all switched. I sat on my daughter's bed and just hung out. At first it was awkward and uncomfortable for us. She asked if I needed something. I told her I just wanted to spend time with her. Then I got quiet. *crickets* After a bit of silence, she began to chat about her music. Soon we were lounging on the bed side by side as she shared an earbud with me chatting about why she liked certain songs. That day I discovered it wasn't that she didn't want to talk; it was that I hadn't been listening. Don't assume your child doesn't want you around even if they're giving off that vibe.
Own your wrongs.
Teens are different than children, their growing cognitive ability makes it easy to see our faults and failings. When my teens started questioning me or reacting to a way I was acting, my first instinct was to blame them. I saw their actions as disrespectful or disobedient. But soon I realized they were simply more aware that I wasn't perfect. When I spoke with impatience or anger, they knew it wasn't right and their defenses went up. Once I started owning my wrongs and asking forgiveness immediately, I found their trust in me begin to rise. They were able to be honest about how I hurt them so we could repair the relationship. Being a parent is humbling in this way, it mirrors back your struggles. But owning our wrongs is the best way to demonstrate how to live an honest life.
Get interested in their interests.
This is a tough one. My girls like music I don't always like. Being interested in that is difficult. But I've found that usually there is something I can appreciate about what they love, even if it's just appreciating why they are passionate about it. My son became much more talkative when I began to sit with him among his Lego creations. People want to be known and loved for who they are, children are no different. This is one way to love them sacrificially and care about what they care about. I've been astounded at what this one step has taught me about my kid's hearts.
Let them teach you.
I know this sounds backwards, we're supposed to be the teachers, right? But there's so much your child may know that you don't. I've found when I allow my children to teach me something I may not know (often computer related) I also learn something about them. I've found them to be patient teachers (most of the time) and it shows that I value their opinion if I'm willing to listen to their lessons. It seems easier for them to listen to me when I've been a good student.
Be honest.
There were some things I wasn't allowing my kids to do that seemed confusing to them. I finally sat them down and shared honest stories from my past and why those particular activities were difficult for me to allow. Having the story behind the decision helped my reasons make sense; even if they didn't completely agree. I'm not necessarily an advocate of children knowing reasons behind every decision, but I think it's good to share as often as we can at this age.

What tips would you offer your parents if you could travel back to your teen years and advise them?