7 Things I would tell my 10-year-old self

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When you’re on a quest for a different way to live (ahem..What shall we unclutter next?!) ) it’s so easy to point out where you went wrong through the years. I was having a day. You know the kind…where you start with toothpaste slopping on your black shirt and end with dog poop at the foot of your side of the bed. Well, I decided to end the day on a hopeful note and compose a letter to the girl in the picture (Oh, how I loved those skates!):

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Dear ten-year-old girl,

Enjoy every minute of your front walk rollerskating days. This is the time to play outside and frolic and be worry-free. I bet you feel pretty fearless at this moment. It’s such a great age to believe that one day you will be doing exactly what you were meant to do. I want to provide you with a list of what to hold in your heart as you grow out of those skates and into your grown-up life.

1) Hold onto to those big dreams of what you want to be when you grow up. Remember the talents that come naturally to you and don’t be afraid to use them even if others tell you that you can’t make a living doing them.

2) Know that you are worthy of love at all times and never, ever let anyone make you feel small. Simply walk away in confidence when you sense that someone doesn’t know the value of your love. Hold your head high when you make mistakes (admit them too–out loud) and know that there will be many…but it’s okay…because that’s how we learn.

3) Marvel at how well your body serves you as you grow into it. There will be so many changes, but through it all remember to be grateful for your health at all times. Part of being grateful is taking care of it by not getting too much sun and eating lots of live foods. You know, like the pounds of cherries and apples you ate in hot summer months. They’re still important when you’re forty…you’ll see. Also, know that there is future invention called Photoshop and retouching that will make magazine models look perfect. Remember that it’s hocus pocus…better yet, avoid looking at them altogether. You’re lovely just the way you are.

4) It’s your responsibility to keep that chin up when you’re frustrated, even though positive attitudes might not be in the people around you. Language yourself in a way that others know you have self-respect and hope for the future, even when things don’t go your way.

5) Ask for help and give help when you can. Be sure to include those who seem to be pushed aside…the clique thing changes a bit as you get older, but not much. Value what everyone can bring to the table. You’ll see that one day the eccentric young people are the folks who achieve amazing things in this world. Look to them now for insight and inspiration. They will teach you a lot.

6) Trust your gut instincts with ruthless conviction and don’t lose yourself in others…especially when it comes to BOYS. They take up way too much time when you should be focusing on your own dreams. Mr. Right will show up eventually. Ironically, yours will because he’s drawn to your independence.

7) Forgive, forgive, forgive….and know that your parents did the best they could with what they have and they adored and loved you. Look at them with loving eyes always in return.

As your future favorite poet, Rainier, said,

“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Know that the answers may be disguised as disappointments–but don’t give up on them.

You. Can. Do. Hard. Things.

Love, Me

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What would you say to your 10-year-old self?

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4 life-saving steps when dealing with Big Change

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image via SheMadeCrafts

Years ago my bed linens became a window into my own psyche.

‘Tis a strange statement from someone who rarely makes her bed. I tried for years to take the Martha Stewart High Road (even google-ing how to fold a fitted sheet. Life is waaaay to short for that, btw) and it just didn’t take.So I just closed the ‘ole bedroom door and prayed that none of my guests wanted to take an upstairs tour.

I digress…

Back to deep thoughts about pillow cases and dust ruffles. It began the day the hub came home and asked me if I still had a spirit of adventure. Such a loaded question! It was more like spirit of relaxation in that moment because we had only been in our house a year and 1/2 after a very long building process (our DREAM home that my spouse built with his own 2 hands). I was only two days past unpacking the last box, ready to take a breather.

“Adventure? What kind of adventure?”

Heavy sigh from me.

Wide-eyed wonder from the hub.

He’d been offered a promotion in his company and it required a New York address. He launched into the our-kids-are-young-and-flexible-it-would-be-fun-to-do-something-rash speech and all I could do was look around at the plates and pans that finally found their final resting cabinet place.

Luckily, my spouse was clued in to my wanderlust nature when we first got together. He was counting on me thinking about the positives (Manhattan fun, snow storms, road trips to new places, learning to say Cwa-fee and dwag), yet all I can do was bite my nails and ask a million questions about what his other options were.

After two look-see visits, a lot of freaking out about how little you get for your money anywhere near the city, and one very teary-eyed talk with our extended family, we did it: Packed up two toddlers (one that had been potty-trained 4 days prior), 16,000 lbs of stuff (I know, what on earth was in that moving truck?) and drove 8 days to start our new life.

This confessional writing is not about our move, our NY experience or even how we decided to return to the Northwest. It’s about the weeks in between when we really weren’t sure if we were going to do it.

The agonizing feeling of letting go and letting the answer unfold on its own.

Enter the bed linens….

I started doing something really weird. Like, strange Who am I?  weird.

I started ironing my pillowcases and the top sheet and made my bed every day. At first I tried to ignore this behavior and pretend to myself that it was perfectly normal. But, really? An iron and board set up in my bedroom for weeks?

As we got closer to saying the final yes and set out to make an appointment with our selling realtor, I broke it down for myself in a journal. First, I was beginning to see a metaphor—ironing out the wrinkles and making something perfect was very therapeutic when my life was about to be turned upside down. I also came to some interesting conclusions:

I do not like to feel like things are out of my control.

My first inclination with change is to be fearful.

I elicit control in strange ways when I feel helpless.

And here’s an even funnier element of this little tale—I continued to iron away even when I figured out the psychology behind it! Cracked myself up. Of course, NY turned out to be fantastic and I look on that move as a total positive because it really has added to our lives as a family. The moment we pulled out of the driveway, I released the sheets, the iron, the need to know what comes next. The whole experience taught me trust. Trust that it’s really out of my hands. After this experience I made a list for dealing with Big Life Changes in the future (and I’m counting this whole simplicity thing because it hasn’t been easy):

 

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1) Welcome adventure and new learning experiences

You just never know what kinds of wonderful are waiting around the corner from new opportunities. New York seemed bigger than life to me, but it did so much for our family bonding experience, not to mention broaden our view of this great country. Some of our closest friends were made there. I still check the ridiculous winter temps in Warwick, NY on my phone.

2) Be positive and expect great things

When we’re fearful and apprehensive, it shows to the world and can cut us off from people who can make transitions easier. Show your best self—believe that this change could be amazing for you and/or your family and wait for the angels to show up. They sure did for us.

3) Recognize that change can also bring necessary sacrifice

There were many things we missed when living in the East. There were days we just yearned to take a walk in February without six layers of clothing. Yet, the snow was incredibly fun. My kids still talk about the winter where we couldn’t see our front steps for a week. Big Change can also help you to be grateful for what you had and also for what can be in a new situation. It’s all about perspective and being open to what good can come out of transitions.

4) Understand that Big Change is a process and patience is required

Whether it’s a cross country move, a change in lifestyle, a new career or even a nest being emptied, it all takes time. Thank goodness for that because overnight change just isn’t a a fun, stable place to dwell. I dealt with our move by journaling, talking incessantly with my spouse, going online to look at places we would be able to visit, and of course, ironing. The process of moving back home was also a major adjustment and being the predictable creature that I am, the iron made another appearance and I just went with it. 🙂

What about you? What’s your ironed sheet when you face the unknown? What big changes brought all kinds of unexpected greatness into your life?

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5 Ways to engage your inner hobbyist (without the stuff that goes with it)

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~My creations~

Charm soldering

Fine Art photography

Darkroom printing

Mixed media art

Sewing

Headband-making

Plaster sculpture

Encaustic wax

Diorama model making

Jewelry making

Lamp design (say, what?)

Purse design

Skirt design

Card-making

Book binding

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This, my sweet friends, is a list compiled of my interests within the last six years alone.

Good grief, it’s frightening to look at it as a long list. Each and every one of these little forays into artsy-land brings a plethora of GEAR stocked and ready in my studio…and my home…and the attic…and the garage…

I’m feeling an epiphany welling up from my hobby-obsessed heart:

In the past I decided to dabble in a creative interest and proceeded to troll Amazon for every book known to man on the subject (used, so it’s ok, right?). I also managed to purchase all the fixins’ to get it going long before the drive to actually do the hobby showed up.

Madness.

In my bouts of purging and donating this past year, I began to stumble across little tombs of hobby supplies in all areas of my life. I expected to hear a voice ask me if I’d like to lie down on the couch for some inner excavation. It’s one thing to chalk it up to being creative and having a ton of interests, but quite another to realize that very few hobbies on this list lasted more than a few rounds. I think I actually believed that if the stuff was acquired for the hobby, I would actually do the hobby on a frequent basis.

That would be wrong.

Lest you fall into this same trap (or..sigh..you see this pattern in your own creative home), this is for you:

 

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1) Attend a class that supplies you with everything for a nominal fee. You pay your fee, make a craft, have some fun, and evaluate whether you’d like to do it again. No fuss, no muss (and no vats of plaster loitering in your studio closet either…true story. Yikes.)

2) Watch someone do the hobby and do a mini interview about why they like it. Observe, ponder, shelve it. If you are dreaming about it 2 months later, it might be time to take a class (see #1).

3) Find a buddy who’d like to share in the cost of the needed items for a specific hobby (a soldering gun is not cheap, friends. It’s especially distressing when you make 10 charms, badly burn your index finger and call it good).

4) Commit to a hobby that doesn’t require gear and see if you actually follow through for at least three months…mmmm..say, blogging...or writing. Minimal start-up costs, lots of rewards (funny how my favorite hobby ended up being the one without physical stuff! Epiphany, indeed).

5) Go on a spending moratorium for a specified number of months and see if you had any grand withdrawals over not being able to ______________ (fill in the hobby blank).

I’ve already admitted that I have an Amazon Issue…a sickness, really. My art/craft library is ready for its close-up—and rather than hang my head in shame, I’m committing to one hobby-dabble a month for the next year. If it doesn’t stick, the gear (and the books) must be given to someone who actually will DO THE HOBBY.

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Being the prideful creative that I am, this post was hard to write. I had to admit some disturbing (and expensive) consumer-induced mistakes. Yet, I can honestly say I feel better now. Ready to fix the issue and press on in this simplifying journey. This blog is definitely helping me be brave and that makes me happy.

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4 steps to overcome life’s obstacles & live your dream

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image via Mystery Wallpaper

Many of us have a hard time giving ourselves the gift of realizing big dreams.

Life gets in the way.

When the kids leave…when the house is paid for…when I finally unclutter my work space…when I finish school…

I do believe that there are appropriate times for going for it where big dreams are concerned, but it is always a good time to steer ourselves in the general direction of where we want to end up. A huge part of it is eliminating the obstacles that pop up like moles on the lawn of life.

 

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1) Practice “If it’s not a yes, it’s a no”.

The principle is that if you’re hemming and hawing about something…can’t make up your mind to start that painting class or enroll in book writing 101 or even make a massive career change, it might be a no. Is it possible you are picking this path because you feel you should? Or someone expects this of you? Or is it truly a passion? Or is it burning desire that keeps you up at night? The yes is there, but the plan is not. AND THAT’S OKAY. If it truly is a giant, big ‘ole pink elephant that follows you around, the plan will come if you devote some time and energy to it.

Ask yourself: “If fear was eliminated, would it be a yes?”

Take a deep breath and commit yourself to micro-movements, which are small steps to get closer to doing this thing that just might make you deliriously happy.

2) Embrace time management

168 hours. That’s what makes up your week. Laura Vanderkam literally wrote the book about this topic and came up with some interesting stats about how we spend our time. Her blog can get you started to begin the process of tracking your own. Trust me, it’s enlightening and scary at the same time. Committing to making small steps is going to cause a shift in your time management tectonic plates. If you value sleep, cuts will need to be made somewhere. I suggest starting with Facebook and Twitter and then take a look at the reality TV crap-ola time that is flushed down the ‘ole john each week. Take inventory of what you’re willing to give up to get closer to making time for your dream to happen. Write it down in your planner as an appointment with yourself.

Your goal is worth being written into your life…in pen.

3) Truly let go…for good

Toxic friendships that suck you dry…the quest to have the perfect house…the expectation to keep up with the rat race in your neighborhood…volunteering your time in places you know you’re not appreciated…doing a job you absolutely despise…

Give yourself permission to release relationships that are detrimental to your dream. I realize the whole job thing is a tough one, but I can honestly say that with the other issues, you’d be doing yourself a huge favor if you simply and directly released it from your life. Such hard things…believe me, I know. ‘Been there with at least twice and it is terribly difficult, but it was so worth it. It freed up such a huge space in my brain for things that really mattered to me.

You can do it. It will mean magic for your journey!

3) Give yourself permission to be alone to map out a plan

This is a hard one for women with kidlets hanging from their very limbs, but it is not selfish to ask for this time. I hear it so much from friends (especially women who work and are uber-moms upon walking in the door) that they feel like it takes too much time away from their family to bring a dream into the fray.

I beg you not to believe this for a second.

You must ask for this time and take it. Even if there’s risk of people (small and large) living on your planet giving you a hard time. You’re not flying to Tahiti for two weeks, for cryin’ out loud. You simply want time to test out or even (yah!) pursue a dream. Remember? That little friend who seems to be sulking in the corner while you stir the spaghetti sauce?

Yeah–her. She’s calling you.

4) Pursue Courage and Bravery with wild abandon

This involves deciding to move forward when moving forward seems completely draining and awkward. Bravery doesn’t make a list of negative what-ifs. It only brings on the mojo to do what needs to be done. Courage means stepping out and looking forward…not casting your peepers side to side to see what others in your profession are doing or making or writing. Yes, we can support friends who are realizing their dreams too, but be mindful of what’s stirring in your heart when you go about realizing yours.

Does the success of others make you anxious?

Does it make you feel like you’re not doing enough?

Does it make you feel small?

Recognize it and don’t go there for awhile. Stay right in your own space with your own lovely, beautiful, talented self and make plans. Revel in just being present with that pink elephant. Don’t let the small voice of doubt creep in.

Know thyself. And if thyself can’t handle looking at the amazing fast-track success of others, be okay with it. Abandon Facebook and Twitter for a few weeks and see if it helps.

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Give your dream the space in your brain, your home, and your life that it deserves. If you nurture it and believe that growing this beautiful thing is worth the effort, the rewards will be more than you ever could have dreamed.

I promise.

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4 priceless benefits of spontaneous family road trips

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I took this picture as we were packing to leave Cottonwood State Park in eastern Oregon this weekend. It was raining at home on the other side of the mountains (big shocker), and was bright and clear in this gorgeous high desert canyon.

This weekend was a ten.

And it almost didn’t happen.

We were being lured into the drive-our-kids-all-around-creation expectation and not listening to our we-parents-know-what-is-best-for-our-family hearts. We wavered. Yet! I somehow pep talked our little clan into loading up the gear at rush hour on Friday and hittin’ the road. In no particular order, the stats on this adventure were:

-two nights with stars that appeared to jump out at us

-one cool breeze blowing through the Twinkie’s windows while we slept

-one rattlesnake encounter on our hike where we all screamed like toddlers

-one twirly horned ram sighting on the top of the cliffs overlooking the canyon

-one novel read that I couldn’t put down

-one epic s’more session over a roaring camp fire

-an entire day spent talking and catching up while we lolly-gagged around our campsite

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It got me thinking how important these trips are for our family happiness and my own mental health.

 

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1) A change of scenery promotes relaxation and mandatory fun.

In our harried lives at home there is the predictable weekend sleepover (resulting in fried teens come Monday morning), as well as the rushed meals so said teens can ski-daddle to wherever it is they go to find social acceptance. With road trips, meals at a picnic table in a gorgeous setting prompt conversation, story-telling and an all around slower pace.It’s magical. I learned more about what’s going on in their lives in one night on this trip than months in the quickie car conversations we’ve had in the Mom Taxi going hither and yon.

2) A simple environment and routine manifests creative thinking and clear-headedness.

It always amazes me how many ideas come flooding in when I’m out and about (especially places with panoramic views), away from my vacuuming duties and laundry mountains. Living in the Twinkie is a simple deal and I am dangerously close to pitching this whole suburban thing and heading out indefinitely on the open road. In an Airstream everything’s within reach. The clothing choices are limited to the Barbie-sized closet and there’s only so much you can fit in a bathroom mimicking an airplane loo. It’s fabulous! When stripped of my wife/mom commitments, this little creative mind can come up with so crazy plans and projects.

3) Family bonding is inevitable when living in a small space.

It’s hard to hide when you’re within nine feet of your parents. We do give them the twin beds in the back (selfless parents that we are) and they can retreat when they need to, but I’m still within earshot. Thankfully, I got to hear about the books that were being devoured, some Elvis movie trivia, and random thoughts about the teen scene in general.

4) A digital sabbatical is more alluring when adventure is involved.

Ask the offspring to give up the phone madness at home on a weekend, and there might just be some sarcasm flung my way. Tell them that our new found nature digs has no cell coverage, and you’re met with surprising indifference. It’s an it is what it is kind of thing. I must say, I enjoy seeing their faces rather than the tops of their heads.

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I’ve been seeing the quote “The days are long, but years are short” a lot lately. ‘Probably some sort of divine message that I need to make all of this count, especially the hours that my beautiful girls are within my hugging grasp. How is it that school and friends’ homes get the bulk of their presence? I guess we’re just in that chapter right now, and I can honestly say I’m not guilty of holding on too tight. I might even regret not holding a little bit tighter.

These adventures on the road are part of this. I want to hold on loosely (as 38 Special would croon) and drink them in as much as humanly possible. I think they get this and indulge us with these excursions. I’m grateful.

When was the last time you took a road trip with your crew?

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On my SIMPLICITY radar

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I’ve been waiting for this new read to come out.

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Have you ever watched Dee Williams in action on Youtube? She is so incredibly likable and charming. I just wanna have tea in that little bungalow.


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Another good read comes from Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who really has some fabulous ideas in the area of our digital lives:

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This book  speaks about a topic that is going to become hot in our country as our brains morph from our digital connectedness.

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Ever since the Happiness Project I’ve been tirelessly mindful of the small things that bring joy in my life. I like this idea:

 

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100 Happy Days is a fun challenge. I think it will require more effort on my part to recognize what I’m grateful for….not a bad idea.

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When I took complete control of my health, juicing and green smoothies became a big part of my diet. I have at least one every day. A girl can run out of interesting recipes to toss in the Vitamix!

Enter my new favorite kitchen tool:

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If you haven’t seen any of Farnoosh Brock’s stuff, it’s worth a look-see. She is lovely. And positive. And inspires one to take charge of his or her gut health.

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I wish I could go to this conference.  Joel and Dan really know how to put an event together. If you’re in spitting distance (or further) from Minneapolis, this should be on your list.

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‘Very excited to be Freshly Pressed last week. Thank you, WordPress! Super fun to reach some of you I would have never found. Your comments were so appreciated and it absolutely made my week!

Also thrilled to be a link on the BecomingMinimalist newsletter. Joshua Becker makes me think on a weekly basis. ‘Love that guy and his message.

 

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