Category: Creative Work

I tend to start these end-of-the-month letters to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. There’s not a lot of fluff or formality or neatly packaged antidotes about life. These letters are a lot more personal than the rest of my blog posts and a little less refined than usual (I don’t plan out what I’ll say or even edit myself. Read: I basically just sit down at my computer and go rogue.)

I like to think of it like I’m inviting you from the front porch into the living room where we can relax and kick our feet up.

So, Hi.

How are you, even?

Tell me your things.

What was your month like?

Our June was… full.

We made it to the end of the school year, which means that Bella, our oldest is officially a middle schooler now. So, please excuse me while I go dry-heave into my purse.

Sorry, that was a strong mental image. But the thing is, I’m having some strong feelings about all this growing up business and I’m having a hard time processing them just yet.

I mean, look at her!

Something about this age just slays me. She is equal parts little girl and young lady.

Between her performance in the talent show (a hip hop dance. Is it just me, or are kids way cooler nowadays?) and her elementary school graduation ceremony I’m pretty sure I’m still dehydrated from all the crying and emotional sweating I’ve done this month. Read More…

I haven’t spoken about it a whole lot, but our family has been in somewhat of a stressful season. The details aren’t important (or rather, they are, but it’s just not the time or place to do a deep dive) so my husband and I have made the intentional decision to deem this our Summer Of Fun. Because sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing, except change your perspective about things.

SO, Summer of Fun, here we come!

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well I should tell you that it’s our first official day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

///

For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. 

Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…

 

GUYS. We are like, THISCLOSE to summer break!
Actually, some of you are already on summer break.

It’s fine.

We Oregonians are not jealous.

Not only are we forced to live life a general 2-3 hours behind the rest of the country, but our school system is also a solid 3-4 weeks behind most others.

It’s okay.

We see you, doing your cannonballs into pools and opening popsicles and sharing photos of your bare feet on Instagram with the hashtag #summerfun.

We are not bitter.

We will dutifully pack those last 11 lunches (and by “pack”, I mean, throw in an assortment of snacks and call it good because whatever, man. We’ve made about eleventy billion turkey sandwiches -one with mustard, one without, mind you) by this point in the school year and I’m just going to be real and tell you that our level of caring over here is at about about a -2.

I was just texting with a friend yesterday who confided that she let her kids sit in the hot tub and counted it as a bath, and I wrote her back to say we did that very thing last week I don’t even feel bad about it.

Have I mentioned that it’s MAY?

May is that one month out of the year that I always forget to remember is going to be totally bananas. (That sentence didn’t feel grammatically correct, but pls refer back to my general level of caring.)

May is like June’s slightly unhinged kid-sister that you never see coming. You want to hang with June, but but you’ve got to get through May first and she is NOT going to go easy on you.

Everything just ramps up to a fever pitch unit Summer finally comes. The school projects, the field trips (we have had FIVE this month), the home projects (more on that in a minute), the piano recitals, the talent show… I could go on, but you get the picture.

All I know is that June comes tomorrow and I AM HERE FOR IT.

I’ll give you the normal end-of-month rundown on what we’ve been watching/reading/loving/hating but first there’s some exciting stuff in the works for this summer that I wanted to tell you about:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared the Mom Wants More podcast episode I was on with my friend and fellow hope*writer, Alana Dawson?

If you haven’t listened yet, click this image👇🏼


and go take a gander if you have time, because our conversation has everything to do with the heartbeat of why I write to you. I’d love for you to listen in.

Anyway, Alana and I had so much fun chatting we decided we don’t wan’t to stop. Not yet.

So I’m actually going to be co-hosting the Mom Wants More Podcast for the summer!

I’ll do my best to keep you guys in the loop whenever new episodes air, but if you’d like to keep it super easy, just head over to iTunes and click subscribe! That way all new episodes will pop up in your queue and you won’t have to wade through any emails to get them.

Alana and I will be chatting about the benefits of pursuing your passions in the middle of motherhood, how to keep doing it even when it’s hard, how to navigate pursuing multiple passions at once, and how to determine if your creative work is something that could or even should make you money (you might be surprised at our perspective!)

As you know well enough by now, I’m a woman of many words. I like to throw them around like confetti at a parade. It really can’t be helped.

I’ll always love connecting with you through words on a page, but having real life conversations opens up a new level of depth and also brings some extra fun to the table. I’ll still be here writing to you, but I’m also really excited about this new avenue of communicating with you guys.

One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with podcasts is because they’re so convenient! I listen to them while I drive, while I cook, while I fold laundry. It makes me feel ultra productive and I’m not going to lie, I really like that.

As for the scoop on life here on the farm this month, it’s been an interesting mix..

As I mentioned in last month’s letter we’re in the middle of an unexpected season of life. I won’t go into detail right now, but basically we’re dealing with excess stress, a lot of unknowns, and doing our best to live well in this space between questions and answers.

The long and short of it is that it’s been hard and it’s been good.

We trust in God’s plan for us and we believe in our hearts that nothing is truly random. So we’re learning to sit in this tension instead of struggle against it. We’re waking up each day and choosing to dwell in the now and to focus on all the joys, big and small.

We’re enjoying the longer days and spending most morning and evenings on the back porch. We’re snuggling our kids and watching lots of good movies. We’re refusing to let our concerns get in the way of our passions and dreams and plans. We may slow down on a few fronts but we won’t quit. For some reason, that feels important right now.

In fact, I wrote down this quote from Rachel Hollis (I read her book, Girl, Wash Your Face this month and it’s FABULOUS. Highly recommend):

“And on the days that seem the hardest, I hope you remember that by an inch or a mile, forward momentum is the only requirement”

I also wrote down at least a hundred other quotes from the book because she basically had “152 insights into my SOUL” (name that movie) but this one feels extra relevant to our current life season.

On a lighter note, this month we finally put up the hot tub that we ordered at the beginning of the year and that sat in an enormous box in our driveway for over 2 months.

We had to wait til construction was underway for our outdoor entertaining space, but the minute Nate had finished the patio, we slapped that baby up.

It gives me a ridiculous amount of joy, sitting in that tub of hot water. I can’t even tell you why, but it does, so I’m fully embracing it by using it no less than twice a day.

(Come over!)

Life has otherwise been business-as-usual for us. The kids are ready for summer. Bella is about to graduate the 5th grade and it’s giving me a lot of feelings. I’m totally going to be that lady in the back row at the ceremony silently sobbing into her tissue and falling apart while all the other parents smile and clap emphatically.

It’s not that I’m not happy and proud of her- I am. She’s ready for middle school. It’s me who’s not ready. She’s growing up into this cool, confident, quirky person and I love bearing witness to it. It’s just that it’s all happening so quickly, and it makes my heart expand and contract at the same time.

But that is a letter for another day.

Jax is happy-go-lucky, ready to cruise into 3rd grade without a care in the world. Something about his age is magical in that it’s simple and fun.

I’m very much looking forward to slower mornings, longer days, and taking time to slow down and soak them up.

(See how flowery I’m getting here? Check back with me on Day 9 of summer break. I’ll be like, “Why are they like this? FIX IT JESUS.)

It’s fine.

Enough about me.

How are you, dear reader? What’s been hard this month? What’s been filling your cup right now?

Tell me your things.
*this email was sent from my computer and my heart*

 

Read More…

I wrote this guest post a while back for my funny friend (and fellow GIF-lover) Mary Carver, but since it ended up being one of my favorite blurbs that I’ve ever put on the Internet, I decided to share a snippet of it here with you. You can read the whole piece, “What Mindy Paling Taught Me About Life” over on her website.

///

Some people choose to read self-help books to learn how to rule at life.

I prefer to read books by funny women for the same reason.

Tina Fey’s book taught me not to waste time trying to charm the uninterested, to stay true to my own voice, and that it’s okay to be both funny and thoughtful at the same time. She also taught me not to talk through the gap in the door to the person one stall over in the bathroom because it’s just poor manners.

Amy Poehler’s book taught me to just say Yes already. To say yes to the scary, new, and wildly unexpected opportunities that come my way- and to remember to have fun with them. Because no one looks stupid while they’re having fun.

Amy Schumer’s book taught me that having a tender heart and being funny often go hand in hand out of necessity. Because sometimes you see what’s unbearably true about the world and you have to laugh about it so you don’t cry. The chapter in her book about her father pooping his pants in the middle of an airport because MS was slowly robbing him of control over his body broke my heart and had me rolling at the same time.

///

But out of all the women in the Funny Girl’s Club, I would have to say I’ve learned the most from Mindy Kaling.

img_3459

Here’s what I love about Mindy: She writes as if she’s talking to her closest and funniest friend. She never writes down to her reader, which is a common trap for comedians. Instead she writes to you as if you’re someone whom she genuinely wants to impress. She makes you feel invited into the club, all while maintaining relatablity and confessing to her own need to be invited in.

And of course, as any close friend would do, she tells her secrets and doles out advice with the perfect mix of confidence and self-deprecation.

///

Mindy’s books taught me that humility and gumption are equally important.

She pokes fun at herself and the industry, while bringing both depth and sharp humor to comedy that would otherwise feel vapid and depressing.

READ MORE HERE: Read More…

So there’s something I’ve been dying to share with you, and now I finally can!

WAIT.

Time out.

I just now realized that was a very leading headline, what with all the Book Dream talk we’ve had around here this year. So before we go any further, NO, I don’t have a book contract (*Yet*, she whispered hopefully to herself). My agent and I are working on the finishing touches of my proposal and I hope to ship it out to publishers soon.

But in other news, I’ve dying to tell you about this podcast, and now I finally can because it released on iTunes!

I was recently invited to be on the Mom Wants More podcast to chat with my friend, Alana Dawson.

I met Alana a year and a half ago at the very first Hope*Writers Workshop. I’d traveled all the way across the country to invest in my burgeoning dream of calling myself a real writer. I only knew a couple people there, and at the end of a very long, very extrovert-y day, I found myself by the campfire out at The Nester’s famous White Barn feeling more than a little bit…exhausted.

It was the exhilarating kind of exhaustion- you know, like a kid who’s ready to pass out after a long day at Disneyland- THRILLED to be there, but also ready to collapse from all the excitement. I remember standing by the campfire, thisclose to fully malfunctioning, thinking to myself “That’s it. I’m officially peopled out. No more talky.”

But then Alana and I started chatting and it was like something inside me exhaled. Have you ever just immediately known in your knower that you’ve found a kindred spirit? When conversation with them is just easy and it fills you up instead of drains you? Talking to Alana is like that.

We have a lot in common- we’re both Enneagram 4’s,  we’re both hope*writers, we’ve both moved about a million times, but the biggest thing we have in common is that we share a similar message.

We’re both passionate about encouraging women, moms especially, to uncover the art of their RIGHT-NOW lives. To pursue their passions, to participate in the bigger story that God is writing for them, to take risks, step out of their comfort zones, and to do so boldly and with an unflagging joy, knowing that they already have all the ability and permission they need. 

So when she asked me to be a guest on her podcast I didn’t need to think about it for a second.

I was in. Read More…

She used to yell it to me through my television screen at least twice a week:

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Right now, this moment! This is when it counts! When you’re tired and you don’t think you can do it and you want to give up- THIS is when you make change happen!”

It turns out there’s more to learn from Jillian Michaels than how to simply not die during a high intensity cardio session.

///

Remember when we talked about how sometimes creative work feels impossible? I confessed that I’d gotten to “the hard part” of my project and how I’m learning to sit in that tension instead of struggle against it?

Well I thought “the hard part” was being brave.

Brave enough to step out, brave enough to share that journey with you, and brave enough to be honest about it along the way.

Because all creative work requires bravery.

We know this. 

We love to talk about the bravery because it’s noble and grand, but we don’t speak much of the aftermath that almost always follows. The wake of those unsorted and far less noble feelings of confusion, doubt, and disorientation that come after the bravery.

The questions of, “Wait, did I do that right?

Should I be embarrassed right now?

Was that really true and helpful? Did I hit my mark?

Or was it self indulgent and foolish and cringeworthy?

///

There is a natural ebb and flow to the creative process, but because I am so new to all of it, riding that wave often leaves me feeling a bit seasick.

See, my whole life I operated under the assumption (the lie) that I’m simply not a creative person. I wasn’t even mad about it, really. It was okay. “It just wasn’t my bag, baby.” (Name that movie.)

But in the last couple of years as I’ve woken up to my creative self and begun to pursue my dream of writing, I’ve wrestled long and hard with all the wonky feelings that accompany such a process.

I am DOING THE THING.

I’m bravely entering the creative arena.

I’m boldly claiming my words as my gift, my calling, and my art.

I’m out there leaving my blood, sweat, and tears on the ground.

So why isn’t it getting easier? Wasn’t I supposed to have a thicker skin by now? Why do fear and uncertainty almost always pull me back after a sure step forward?  Read More…

Do you ever find yourself longing not for a different life, but a deeper life?

One where you know deep down in your knower exactly what it is you have to offer the world and your life actually reflects that?

Where you’re able to make the work of your hands count in a way that fulfills both your duties and your soul?

Where you find the courage to unapologetically pursue the things that make you come alive right now in the middle of your daily routine?

Where you’re fully awake to the possibility lurking just beyond the borders of your comfort zone?

What if you allowed yourself to believe (just for fun, just for a minute!) that God made your heart to leap with creative delight, to embrace risk and adventure, to jump and swell and stir at the idea of living a bigger story than the one you’ve been living?

What if that didn’t have to look like some big, scary, upheaval of your normal life?

What if it was as small as recognizing and valuing the important work you’re probably already doing?

What if it was as big as believing that you are already called, already qualified, already invited, and fully capable of taking that same mundane, daily, work in front of you and making it into art?

What if it was as freeing as knowing that the “art” you have to offer the world- you know, the art that NO ONE ELSE CAN MAKE, and the art that the world SO DESPERATELY NEEDS, is actually as mind-numbingly, soul-tinglingly (yes I’m sticking with the word tinglingly- and I dare you to say it 5 times fast) simple as doing what you love and what comes naturally to you?

What if exercising your basic human right to Creativity was actually a spiritual practice? A way to honor not just yourself, but others too, and even God?

What if “Creativity” could be anything, anything at all? Like inviting someone over for dinner and making them feel welcome not just in your home, but in your life?

Like crafting a play, a song, a story, or a joke? Like bringing order to chaos within a spreadsheet or a home? Like a keen sense of humor that intuitively knows how and when to make people laugh?

What if hatching brilliance could look just as much like cooking dinner on a Tuesday night or rearranging a living room as when Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the broadway musical Hamilton?

What if art is art because you are you, and it’s all up for individual interpretation and delight?

What if it all matters so much more than you ever knew?

What if today your art looks like a diaper change that turns into a tickle fight, but tomorrow your art looks like 10 minutes spent doodling on a blank piece of paper, and five years from now your art looks like starting a business or painting with watercolor or tap-dancing on your head? (Okay, that last one isn’t a thing, but just roll with me?)

What if you didn’t put your art in a box?

What if you didn’t make it any smaller or bigger than it wanted to be?

What if it was re-defined by showing up to the work in front of you fully as yourself, by appreciating beauty for the sake of beauty, and by allowing yourself to dream and dare and delight in the middle of your right-now life?

What would that look like, even?

P.S. Do you want me to ask your more questions? Because I can. I can totally do that.

Welcome to Let’s Play Oprah, a little game we like to play here each month on the blog.

Most of you are already familiar with how this goes, but in case you’re a new reader here, or just randomly stopping by, then let me explain…

Once a month I write a post (this post!), dishing on my top 3 Favorite Things at the moment. You’re always invited to join in on the fun by sharing your own current Favorite Things with the rest of us, either by leaving a comment, sharing about it on social media using the hashtag #letsplayoprah, or simply replying to my email if you’re a subscriber.

Then, at the end of the month, I do a Facebook Live video in which I draw a name out of a giant red Tupperware bowl (because I am extremely tech savvy and professional). (Sarcasm implicit.) (P.S. How many parentheses are too many parentheses?) (P.S.S. Does the punctuation go inside or outside the parenthesis?) I should probably know this.

How you get your name IN that red bowl is super simple- you just subscribe to the blog, which means you get these posts conveniently delivered directly into your email inbox instead of having to find them in the cosmic void of Facebook, Instagram, or the Worldwide Interweb. See? I told you I was tech savvy! Interweb! It’s the future of the regular web. Everyone knows that. It’s science.

There’s a blue lighted bar at the end of each and every post where you can enter the monthly giveaway. Find that blue bar. Click that blue bar. Consider that blue bar a sign of our love and affection for each other.

Anyway, without further ado,

Let’s Play Oprahhhhhhhhhhh!

Every time I type that I intend for you to read it in a singsongy voice, and with a little extra bass. It just sets the mood, you know?

This month my top 3 Favorite Things are: Read More…

I’m in the middle of reading Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me, and can I just say that I am so in love with everything about it.

Here’s what I love about Mindy- she’s the perfect mix of confidence and self-deprecation. She laughs at herself. She laughs at the industry and it’s ridiculous standards. But she has gumption. She unapologetically believes in herself, her talents, and her general awesomness without taking it all too seriously. I dig that.

She’s also completely open about being a socially anxious elitist.

And who isn’t, really?

Everyone wants to be on the inside of some kind of club, and admittedly, Mindy herself is not exempt from such suffering. In both of her books, she essentially invites us to be in her club. It’s like she gave us the secret password and handshake, and for a few hours we get to sneak in through the back door and hang out at the party. We may be the fringe people of the club, but she invited us in and I love that about her.

Like any good friend would, she tells us secrets- like how she really feels about being “the funny one” of the sorority (no one wants to be the court jester), and how sometimes being equally grateful and ambitious in her career is like walking a tightrope (read: it’s a literal booby trap).

She tells us how basically everyone, everywhere in Hollywood wears fake hair.

I knew it!

I knew it in my knower!

Thank you for blowing the horn on that one Mindy. Me and my seven strands of hair don’t feel so bad about ourselves now. All of us girls with thin, lame hair are pumping our fist in the air, because we are liberated. It’s not our fault. We are not weird. No one’s hair is actually that amazing on it’s own.

In the last year I’ve read a few other books by some other funny ladies- Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes Please by Amy Poehler… Not surprisingly they all seem to know each other and be friends, furthering my belief that there is an actual Funny Girl’s Club that exists, and all I know is I WANT IN. Read More…

I recently turned 36.

While it’s officially the oldest I’ve ever been, I decided to do something that felt admittedly…childish? No, that’s not it.

Indulgent?

No. Thats not it either.

I don’t know.

Let’s just say it felt wonky, but in the good kind of way.

Even though it was freezing cold I went outside to sit on my back porch (because being outdoors helps me think) and I brought my favorite spiral notebook- the one that reads “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You” in shiny metallic gold lettering across the front.

It’s the notebook that currently holds all my most important words.

My ideas.

My notes.

My outlines.

My reminders.

My inner monologue.

It’s all there.

But I realized there was something MISSING from the book. Something so important that I can’t believe I’ve never bothered to write down.

My dreams.

img_0105

///

As I sat on my porch casting vision for the year ahead and reflecting on the year behind, I realized that 2017 was full of surprises. It was a year full of dreaming bigger and saying Yes to pursuing those dreams. It was an impetus of sorts, and God wasted no time in drawing me directly outside of the comfort zone that I’d carefully created for myself.

Remember on Inside Out when Joy draws a circle for Sadness and tells her that her only job is to STAY INSIDE THE CIRCLE? It was kind of like that except I’d drawn my own circle,  labeled it Comfort Zone, and planted myself there like a fool. We could really get deep here and talk about Joy and Sadness and how in reality, comfort zones are the easiest place to become miserable, but we honestly don’t have time for that today.

The point is, all of that changed the moment I began saying YES. Read More…