friday joy (take care of yourself edition)

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When you set after chasing down joy, it comes out of hiding
and doesn’t seem quite so elusive.
Perhaps it was always present,
never left,
was right before my 
eyes,
yet I refused to invite it to cross my threshold.
It has been a fun week of discovering joy’s appearance
within the bookends of Fridays.
My line-up this week seems to fall under the category of
self-care. It wasn’t intentional but perhaps instructive.
Tending to ourselves is vital in ways which may be
mutually and individually meaningful.
My little list may not be close to what would bring you
joy but as you read them,
consider how you might be a more intentional
caretaker of your soul.

Chatbooks

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My friend Cheryl introduced me to the wonders of Project Life,
a simple and wonderful way to document your life in photos.
It encouraged me to quit hoarding my photos on my phone
but instead to print them out and let my family run their fingers
along pages of memories.
The difficult part is I tend to get behind then caught up and
then I get behind again.
It’s not causing me to lose sleep but
it does bother me when I am months behind.
So a few weeks ago,
I gave myself a pardon,
a break,
a pass.
Hello Chatbooks.

Chatbooks takes Instagram photos and creates books.
Each book is 60 pages in length.
It’s like a chronological Instagram book.
Of course you can delete any photos you don’t want included.
So I used a free book offer and made 4 books.
it took a few minutes and they arrived this past week
.
(It’s killing me how I lined up the books in backwards order. Sigh.)

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I was so excited to unwrap the small package and impressed by the quality.
They are so adorable and precious.

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You can also make custom books from your photos as well if you are not an Instagram
user.
I kept the captions to my photos but you can customize your books.

Think you might want to try it, use my referral code for a free book NWX6HXK6

Joyous book making!

No Schedule

It has been several months since we have had an unscheduled
weekend. It was the most glorious kind of joy which wrapped
itself around my soul all week-long.
To have a few days to cease from rushing from one event to
the next was such a luxury.
Life shouldn’t feel like a race.

Caleb and I met Carlen for lunch downtown then we puttered
around Powell’s which is so dangerous but in the best way.
It is probably the one place where my children can depend on
Mom saying yes to their asking.
Caleb and I came home with a stack of books and full tummies.
There was time to sink into studying the book of James, write,
play games, stroll through a Farmer’s market and snack on crepes
with Carl.

I also spent a couple of hours making play lists on Spotify.
It’s taken me forever to completely understand the difference
between Spotify and Pandora.
Busyness can make me forget my need for music.
Now I have many of the tunes which bring me joy
at the touch of a screen.

Tip: Try the 7-day free premium trial to enable
adding songs with the most ease.
Currently they are offering a 3-month premium
trial for $0.99. Sounds like a great way to try
out the premium features but free is grand too.

Pedicures

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See how much I love you?

I am sharing my toes.
This was actually from an Instagram
post showing me wearing pants because
the weather was actually cool.

Finally.

I made a commitment in early May to get a pedicure,
if possible, every two weeks.

My rationale:

  1. I would like to have nice looking toes during the summer
  2. The leg and foot massage is a gift.
  3. Regular pedicures will cease the undecipherable chatter
    from operators about my feet,
    namely their condition between pedicures.
    I know they are talking about my feet.
    They are!

Carl thinks I need to have better foot esteem :)
Perhaps he is right.
But for now, I am going every 2 weeks-ish and
isn’t  FootJoy a shoe brand?
Well, I have foot joy and my foot esteem is climbing.
Bonus: I haven’t heard any whispers or seen
any rolled eyes in months.

Speaking our wishes out loud

On Wednesday, all the kids and I were sitting
in the living room around dinner time when
unprovoked I blurted,

“I want to go to a concert so badly.”

Carlen responded casually,

“Well there is a pop-up concert in the park at 7.”

We gathered all the necessary supplies

for a picnic accompanied by music.

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An unexpected evening listening to Mike Posner.

It’s what happens when you cast your wishes into the air to be heard.

Joy photo of the week

Joy isn’t always perfect with hair disobeying the call of wind
or eyes open at the most ideal angle.
Joy isn’t about looking skyward to try to erase the lines
and duplicate chins.
Joy is time spent with those you love and who know
when you put your hand over your heart, you are deeply
happy and at home,
it means laughter spilling over your frame as your shaky
selfie skill-less hands attempts to capture
the joy with the net of a lens.

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Joy is meant to be shared.

Book joy

Finished: Chasing Francis

Currently Reading: Wild in the Hollows

 

May you take care of yourself and lasso joy in the attempt.

 

 

friday joy (hot weather edition)

Remember those mason jar flowers standing strong
in the midst of the harshest of temperatures?

Behold 5 joys that stood out to me during this recent hot spell:

Meet Fantasia, my personal fan!

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What took me so long to buy one?
This has been the best $12 I have spent in a long time.
I am sure it is common for mates to have differing body temperatures and such
is the case for me and Carl.
It has always been this way but to put it delicately,
since arriving at the doorstep of 50 ,
I’ve had to “welcome” spontaneous temperature flares, if you gather my meaning.
With the twist of a dial, a breeze comes to the rescue.
Gone is the usual night table clutter now that Fantasia has won my heart.
If the photo captured the floor, you would see our dog Hazel happily
dozing on my side of the bed as well as a few books scattered on the carpet.
Ahhh, Hazel and I feel so much better, thanks to Fantasia.

The Sorta Awesome Podcast

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It’s summer and the days have been long and hot.
My morning and afternoon work commute has been the same.
Instead of getting an attitude (well, most of the time),
I have started listening to The Sorta Awesome podcast.
You may have read Megan Tietz’s blog Sorta Crunchy over the years.
She made the decision to discontinue blogging this past January.
Heavy sigh.
However her archives remain online. Yay.
As an aside, Megan is responsible for what qualifies in my blogging world as creating
a viral post for me.
I am forever grateful for her sharing during her Sunday Brunch series.
I loved her blog but she is a natural at podcasting with her group of co-hosts and special
guests make it the perfect accompaniment for driving, cooking dinner or simply eavesdropping while sipping iced tea in an Adirondack chair.
The topics are a wide variety of, well awesome.
My favorites so far have been about making friendships as an adult, personality types and summer. I am saving several for the car but I plan to listen
to the newest one on how to build a love-filled home this weekend.
Check it out here. I use Stitcher to manage the podcasts I enjoy.

Everything I Never Told You

I read Everything I Never Told You a few weeks ago and I
continue to think about it.
This book contained a vitally important reminder regarding the words
I say to my children. My words may be filled with the highest intentions
and the most noble motives, but how are they interpreted by the hearer?
It has made me ponder the repetitive words/sentences I say over my
children.
What truly is my motivation?
I have had to wade to a new shore of understanding to find if my words
are pure or perhaps wrapped in bandages from my past life wounds.

Tillamookies

I hesitate to post something that is not widely available in the U.S.

Yet I have to share how much joy these little ice cream sandwiches have created
during the heat of the evening.
I don’t have mad skills when it comes to eating ice cream in a cone.
My confession sounds ridiculous but you have never observed me, have you?
There’s a reason why I always order ice cream in a dish.
We all have our issues and mine comes in the form of a waffle cone.
These little sandwiches hit the spot and satisfy my waffle cone envy.
Plus they are not outrageous in the calorie department.
Try them and if you live faraway from Oregon, go here.
Enter your zip code and if you come up with nada,
press the Tillamook Please button to create a form to
give to your local grocer!
Everyone should have a Tillamookie!

Inside Out

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Caleb and I escaped a hot Friday and went to see Pixar’s newest movie Inside Out.
Oh how I loved this movie!
In fact, it was discussed on one of the Sorta Awesome podcasts and I was nodding
away in agreement.
I think Caleb was the perfect age to see the depiction of emotions as he embarks
on the adventure of middle school. Yet as an adult, I gleaned a lot as well.
I think it is the perfect movie for everyone.
Plus do not get to the movie after the previews as the Pixar short was exceptional.
It made me cry…which is quite easy but still, it was precious.

Okay I fibbed, I need to add a favorite photo of joy and one more joy to round
out the Friday Joy, do you mind?
That’s a lot of joy in one sentence!

Photo Joy-The Peanuts Movie and Caleb!

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We cannot wait for The Peanuts Movie!

The Beginning, The Middle and The End of the Urban Adventure Quest

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The Beginning.

A little background is in order.

We are a family of five.
Carl and I are a week shy of 29 years of marriage.
Hooray!
We have two daughters Carlen and Courtney who are 25 and 22 and a son Caleb who is 11.
Also hooray!
Our family dynamic is changing.
The majority of our days have shifted to Carl, Caleb and me on the home front.
This has been a slow shift.
You need to know this because I often hear so many parents, especially moms
saying “We only have “fill in number” more summers with “fill in name of child”.
This is true.
But it isn’t always true.
I am not pointing fingers because I moaned the same words.
I believed when Carlen was handed her diploma that life as we knew it was over.
It would never be the same or the five of us.
It was a time to celebrate and grieve.
Life does change but it doesn’t always mean the age of 18 marks THE END.
My advice is to enjoy all the years and seasons and don’t bemoan the future
before it has been written.

Rewind to the night before the 4th of July.
Carl and I had said good night to Caleb and as I was leaving his room,
he peeked out and sadly said his sisters were not going to be with us
tomorrow and it was THE FOURTH OF JULY!”
Hugs commenced.
It was about 11pm and Carl and I sprawled on our bed with laptop and Portland Monthly’s
summer guide and tried to devise a plan to make the 4th fun for Caleb.
We stumbled upon the Urban Adventure Quest which is a smart phone driven scavenger
hunt around downtown Portland  as well as other cities in the U.S.
Think The Amazing Race which is one of our family’s favorite shows.
We whispered a prayer for God to lift Caleb’s spirits and for
his weary parents to have energy despite the heat.

The photo above is the three of us ready to start at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

We had a blast trying to decipher clues and solve puzzles.
What added to the adventure was running into other people who had the same idea.
We felt we knew our downtown quite well but often we drive past buildings
and never see the details. We uncovered a whole new world and learned
more history of our city.
We were sweaty but we were having such a great time when we found this guy!

The Middle

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If you don’t recognize him, this is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and an All-Star.
It had been a rough week of trades for the NBA team and Damian will remain and
be the face of the franchise. He was so gracious to take a moment for a photo.
Caleb was brave enough to ask.
To say this made our Caleb’s day/week/month/life is an understatement.
He kept saying amidst giggles that this was the best 4th EVAH.

The End

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We did it!

Several hours later, we finished, solved all the puzzles and found all the clues.
We were hot, sweaty, exhilarated and famished.
Now we want to do the one in Seattle :)

I couldn’t help thinking over the last few days about how God takes our feeble
attempts and adds to them in spectacular ways.
We did our part by finding something fun to do and we simply asked Him to bless us
with energy of body and spirit.
He adding something unexpected in the middle to our beginning and ending.

It’s a joy to be loved by God with such imagination and timing.

Sometimes joy is as close as your night table and often we need

to sit and reflect on our days to recall what made joy bubble up in your spirit.

So tell me, what’s your most recent joy?

joy in a mason jar

It seems like a faraway memory but it was only a few weeks ago, when I

gathered the family around our patio picnic table to feast.

At the time, it seemed too hot to cook, so I robbed all the chilly morsels

from our refrigerator, added a few items from the store

and grabbed a couple of bunches of flowers.

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fist bumped while reaching toward plates in unison,

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our eyes devoured the array of colors before a single bite,

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inside jokes usher contagious giggles

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and gulps of both sweet and tart coolant will always be a distant second

to the refreshing joy of family.

We cleared the table, marveled at the effectiveness of a dollar store fly zapper

and shuffled a deck of card to end the night.

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At day’s end, this vase of store-bought flowers flanked the empty table.

Then the real heat hit Oregon.

As Carl and I limped past the table to spray water upon our grass

known as straw and our heat stroked flowers,

the mason jar flowers stood tall.

Our dinners were held before oscillating fans and every once in a while,

I would spy an inch of water in the jar and fill it.

It is not an exaggeration that I survive the heat and little else.

It never occurred to me to bring the flowers inside to be enjoyed

in our house known as the sauna.

After 3 weeks,the flowers were placed among

the compost heap.

Two bunches of flowers whisper to me,

Helen,

in the harshest and most unbearably hot seasons,

joy remains.

***

By a slip of my pinky finger (I blame the heat),
I pressed publish before this post was finished
and (shudder) or edited.
Oops…sorry email subscribers!

Instead of what I had originally planned for this post,
this Friday (and hopefully subsequent Fridays),
I will post my 5 small joys of the week.

Until Friday,

Seek joy.

Embrace joy.

Believe in joy,

even when it seems like a faraway memory.

dot by faithful dot

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I arrived to this space with an apology for not writing.

Except that would not be accurate, I am always writing.

I write in my journal and on random slips of paper,

jotting notes in the margins of books and tapping sentences into my phone.

Words arises from the steam of my shower or the soft indent

in my pillow before succumbing to sleep.

Sometimes my thoughts compose a post while driving to work.

Perhaps I should curb this practice for safety’s sake.

Often I will open a notebook and find scribbles and arrows,

circles and sentences all in CAPS.

As I scan the page, a grin will pass over my face

and at the top of the hieroglyphics I will usually

write “this became the blog post” and fill in the title.

Somehow parts jotted all over the paper

became a map that directed the way to a published post.

My mind has felt like one of those pages of scribbles.

The exception being many of the dots are without

connecting lines.

There are a half-dozen half-written pieces in my

draft folder.

They may or may not ever see the light of a computer

screen other than mine.

For whatever reason, I can’t seem to finish the majority

of my writing.

I can’t figure out what to make for dinner.

There is lonely dirt by the fence where my

sunflowers usually ascend to the sky.

I can’t seem to finish a book. (Ack.)

Although I plan for the drought to end this week.

(I started reading this book on the road last weekend
and it is giving me so much to think about as a parent.)

My mind has been swimming with work,

a daughter graduating from college,

middle school decisions

for our son and a steady stream of bad news.

Somehow the joyous mingled with the sorrow

siphons away anything extraneous.

It has bothered me,

I have fought it and

been frustrated when I can’t concentrate

on a litany of pursuits.

Then I reflect on January, when I chose words

to help guide my year.

Be faithful.

Elisabeth Eliot’s constant encouragement

was to

“Do the next thing.”

Two sentences which will remind me

to breathe and take each aspect of

life one by one and as it comes.

Are your dots connecting?

Do you need to just keep faithfully

walking into the places laid before you?

I will work.

I will celebrate.

I will mourn with those who mourn.

I will listen and not look away.

I will cook.

I will write.

I will read.

Sometimes I will simply just be.

Most of all I will be faithful.

Today it meant pressing publish.

*****

Alright I did read one sweet book awhile ago which could be finished
over a weekend with a bottomless frosted glass of iced tea…
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.
Enjoy.

 

open wide your cupboards

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I have a thing about dishes.

Just open my cupboards or observe my smile

whenever I use one of  my grandmother’s favorite serving dishes.

If those tidbits aren’t enough to

verify my dish passion obsession,

I even wrote about worrying about bowls

a year ago.

For Mother’s Day, Carl gave me the set of dishes I had

been spying.

They aren’t fine china, I’m talking Target,

which is more my style.

The set of dishes simply made me smile.

Plus the bowls were deep and wide just the way

Carl likes them.

Our everyday dishes had been held in the clutches

of young fumbling fingers

and taken countless tumbles to the floor,

contents ruined but never the plates.

The virtues of unbreakable dishes is undeniable

but the appearance doesn’t exude a lot of joy.

Hooray for new plates, cups and bowls.

Yet a week later the box sat in the corner

unopened.

Why?

I wasn’t sure where to put them.

Each time I opened a cupboard, I was faced

with removing dishes already occupying

shelf space.

For the most part, each plate, bowl or mug

no matter its condition held meaning and a memory.

Dishes are meant to be filled and emptied.

Each one reminded me of past feasts and perhaps

even some times of famine.

Are there relationships sitting on your life shelf

 solely as memories?

Is it time to gently lift them from the shelf

and store them away for a time?

My unbreakable dishes served their purpose for

a time and I honor all the hard knocks they took

at the hands of our family.

I am thankful for the way they supported my food ;)

At this moment,

for whatever reason,

these dishes rarely grace my table.

At this moment.

For now, I will carefully store them away.

Finally I opened the box.

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I suds away

the grime of the packaging.

Then set them out to dry.

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I looked at the wooden rack full of stoneware.

I wondered,

“Do these  dishes look like me?”

“Do they look unsophisticated?”

“Would I see these plates in _____________’s house?”

There are times when I second guess myself.

Often I fall into the trap of believing I must look like everyone else.

The truth is my plates are different from yours because

they are designed for my table,

my house,

my life.

Do your dishes look like you?

And while I am asking all these questions,

what’s on your plate?

Could there be so many servings the

image on the surface is obscured?

Will any sudden movement cause the contents of your mug

to splash over the rim?

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Are you realizing my dish craze is really more about being

crazy about life?

The plates you like,

the plates you share and the morsels you

decide to place upon those plates is true of life.

Life is about filling and emptying.

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In our home, we are determined to use our stuff.

It hasn’t always been this way,

observe Exhibit A.

I am changing.

We are using and filling our plates.

Even when Caleb asks,

“Where are the old, easy to carry plates?”

(Trust me, they are still close at hand.)

We are slurping out of cups and bowls.

We are reaching towards the dishes on our shelves,

scattering them on tablecloths

so they can be

filled,

emptied,

washed,

dried,

replaced

and the cycle

continues.

We risk the occasional chipped or broken dish,

much like we enter the fray of life each day.

We aren’t  saving these dishes for special occasions or only for the special people.

We are the special people and when you cross our threshold we deem

you special as well.

We embrace the old and are grateful for the new.

One day the new will become old as well,

old doesn’t have to mean covered in dust,

it should convey constant use and affection.

Open the cupboards of your life and take a peek.

What makes you smile?

As silly as it may sound,

what bowl is deep and wide like you?

What needs to be taken off your plate?

Now gather around your table and don’t miss

this wonderful feast called life.