what i am loving and learning

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Hello.

The end of August marked the 10th year of A Work of Heart. I stand amazed for a number of reasons but most of all by readers. The content available at the click of a pinkie finger is immeasurable. I never take for granted that even one person would take the time to read a long post, write a comment, share on Facebook or hit the like button.
Initially only my family and a few friends knew the existence of this site, but now there are almost 500 followers of this little ol’ blog. It’s a drop in the bucket for many bloggers but my cup runs over with gratitude as a blogger who doesn’t follow any of the “rules” anymore and only posts occasionally. Thank you from all corners of my heart.

Now to what I am loving and learning:

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I am not different from most, I like the after-effects of cleaning. In the category of frivolous, I love Caldrea countertop spray. I may lose my Oregonian credentials as I should be using a homemade vinegar and water solution but no. I love the fragrance and how it faintly lingers hours after I have cleaned, reminding me that I have indeed cleaned…something.

 

I had heard a bit about Netflix’s original series Stranger Things but it wasn’t until I asked my Facebook peeps to help us find some television/movie ideas while Carl recovered from a recent surgery that it became apparent it was time to check the series out. We felt like we had been transported into the 1980’s in the best possible way. It was such a treat to watch a series that defies age. No spoilers here, just watch it.

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I am not sure why it took me so long but I finally  started a bullet journal. If I am honest, I thought it would bother me if I didn’t do it “right”. What I have learned is that mistakes are a part of the process and this journal is for me alone. I love having everything in one place. I tended towards having many notebooks and lists and never made a lot of traction regarding goal keeping and organization. Be forewarned how easy it is to drool over the creative world of those who keep a bullet journal, perhaps this was a bit intimidating as well. I am loving making my journal feel like Helen and no one is grading my journal 🙂

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Behold the sunflower glory. Our year has been marked by waiting. Waiting is difficult and it is stretching. I fought hard to get seeds into the ground this year. The rest of our yard is a bit challenged and sad-looking. Last summer’s extreme heat devastated most of my perennials and gave us a weak blueberry harvest. Sniff. These sunflowers are beauty and hope in the waiting. This year I planted 10-12 different varieties and then I misplaced the seeds and couldn’t find them for weeks, another delay and more waiting. When I look at each stem swaying in the breeze, being enjoyed by bees or even the very tallest ones the squirrels didn’t allow viewing before they carted the blossoms off, they are my sunrise and sunset. They represent all that is contained in a day and in our lives, a lot of waiting but also such a lot of glorious beauty to behold.
This week, I read this verse:

I can be content in any and every  situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.   Philippians 4: 13 (The Voice)

I have read this verse countless times but in this translation, all I could do was say out loud, “Not even.”
I haven’t been very content in most situations lately.
I can be, only through God.
If contentment were easy, God wouldn’t need to help us secure it.
I can wait.
I can be content.
I can lean heavily onto my Maker to make it be so.

My word for the year has been peace. Oh that has been such a great word for many reasons. We all need peace and want it. Sometimes, I have to hunt for peace when I scroll through social media feeds. Another aspect of peace which I didn’t anticipate is my need to finally surrender to taking better care of myself. It encompasses all the things we all know we should be doing but for me it also is simply being kinder and gentler to myself. I don’t have to move at an urgent pace everyday. I don’t have to conquer everything. I can say no or yes. I can rest. If I wasn’t convinced, I need to look no further than how Caleb has gotten in the habit of giving me a neck and shoulder massage. It is the most dear thing ever but he notices. Tight muscles are noisy messengers.

I read Shauna Niequist’s new book after grappling with many of the themes of her book for years. I finished it in a couple of days and wrote all over the margins. It became a journal of “aha’s” and “yes, me too”. This summer, I also started the crazy habit of reading one book at a time. Gasp. After decade of having lot of bookmarked books, I decided to read one book at a time. It makes me feel less cluttered. I think I am loving it.

When this image hit my Instagram feed several days ago, I could not stop looking at the Obamas. It is such a stunning photo of a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. I had so many thoughts and feelings. It gave me pause for all the ways I feel about my body, all the ways I feel it has been less or more than I want it to be. I added it to the running list of “loves”  in my bullet journal (of course). But then I read Deidra Rigg’s post and it was such a slam dunk and a hallelujah, I will let her eloquent words stand. She is a lot braver than I am. I want to be braver. Fist bump Deidra and Michelle.

*****

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Not the best photo (not my car), but remember, obviously you can never have too many car fresheners 😉 

What are you loving and learning during these golden days of September?

 

 

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.