Thoughts on Coming Home

Wednesday was our last day in Denver and we just completed the great trek back to Dallas! I have to admit, as much as I loved it there, I am ready to be back. To my house, to my bed, and to my friends and routine. I have been reflecting on what this trip meant to my family and thinking about lessons that I want to carry back with me and thought I would think them out here.

It’s always worth exploring.

Being in a new place meant that there was a lot to see. Having mountains about an hour away and a house in the middle of a very cool city meant that we sought out adventure. Almost everyday we were outside and on the weekends Chris and I found places for all of us to go, whether to hike, eat, or walk around an art show. We have lived in Dallas for 13 years now and it’s very easy to decide to just stay home instead of getting out. We’ve both decided we would like to make an effort to explore our city more. Even on those days when the kids are complaining and it seems like a lot of work to pack everyone up and get out the door, maybe especially on those days! Every time we went out here we ended up having a great time- and it didn’t always go perfectly! I’ve added a list of festivals to our calendar as well as some free events and our plan is to make sure we’re having fun, as a family and as a couple, in the city that we live in.

We don’t need a lot of stuff.

We rented a house here for the month that is by no means tiny, but is a much smaller space than we’re used to. I brought a few books and things for myself, minimal clothes, as well as my kids’ favorite toys and a couple of kitchen things (the instant pot and popcorn maker!). I discovered that we don’t actually need a lot of stuff. Yesterday I wrote about minimalism and these past few months I feel like we were minimalists and it was freeing and absolutely fine for everyone in the family. I don’t know what it looks like in the future but I’m curious to explore the concept some more.

I can make time to write.

I recently shared about the process of declaring myself a writer and wanting to put the work in to make that a reality. Well I discovered that I can make time to write. If I really want to I can squeeze in 30 minutes here, an hour there, throughout the week and that it adds up. It also is true that the more I write, the more I want to write! I didn’t feel bad about sitting down and opening my laptop instead of cleaning the kitchen or doing some task around the house. I want to carry this with me as we get back home and into our fall routine. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at not having enough time, realizing that any time throughout the day is a good time and it’s up to me to just make it happen.

My family is my top priority.

My husband and I have focused so much on our relationship and our relationship with the kids these past three weeks and it has felt good making our family our top priority. In theory, it has always been, we have always loved our children and each other and wanted to build a meaningful life together. However in practice is something different. We have allowed outside forces to take over, have taken the easy, sometimes feel good way out for some time now. I feel us refocusing and putting our money where our mouth is and trying to find ways to keep this precious family of five at the top of the list as life carries on.

We can shape our life to look like what works for us, what feels good.

A year ago Chris and I would not have packed off for a month to a new place at what was kind of last minute. Life circumstances have shaken us up and in a good way. We are discovering that we get to choose what our life looks like, and knowing that it won’t be necessarily easy but it will be worthwhile. I would love to carry that feeling with us as we make plans for the future!

 

 

 

Thoughts on Minimalism

As I wrote about last week, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what has my attention lately. It has led me to a lot of reading about minimalism and I’m itching to go home and make space for the things and people that matter to me the most.

I first learned about minimalism through design aesthetic. I got the impression it was for people in sleek modern homes painted all white with uncomfortable looking furniture. It’s only recently that I’ve encountered people that apply the principles of minimalism to their real life and it’s something I want my family to start exploring.

My definition of minimalism, at least how I see it as applied to a family of five, is a lifestyle built around the things that matter and not letting possessions or the obsession with busy take focus away from those values. I love Miranda Anderson and her philosophy of “Less Stuff, More Adventure.” has become a motto for my family. I ordered her new book and will definitely share what I think about it, but go check out her blog and podcast to see how living a life focusing on what you have, not what you need or want, can change the way you see the world.

I’m working on a daily challenge for when we get home that I’ll share soon. I am leaving our time here in Denver feeling very refreshed and recharged and I want to take what I’ve learned here home with me.

Santa Fe

I unintentionally took a week off from writing but it was for a good reason! We head back to Dallas later this week and I have been enjoying my time up here in the mountains. Last week I drove the kids to Santa Fe and left them their for some Mimi/Poppy camp. I got to spend a day there and wanted to share my pictures.

Santa Fe is one of my favorite places on Earth and my parent’s house feels like a gorgeous oasis. Just walking around their property I found vignettes that felt like they could be paintings. We went to the farmer’s market and explored a new park. We also visited the library, something I’ve never done there!, and I got to eat my fill of chilies.

If you ever get the chance to visit Santa Fe, do it! I always leave feeling inspired and peaceful.

What Has Your Attention?

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

I read this quote over the weekend and it got me thinking about who and what I give my attention to. These past few weeks have been very interesting for us as a family as we have been living with a lot less stuff in a much smaller space. It’s got me thinking about minimalism and what that really looks like in the real world and what the benefits might be of a life less cluttered with things.

These past few weekends have been heavenly. We’ve taken off for quick trips into the mountains and spent time together hiking, playing, eating, and just generally being together. There have been minimal screens and lots of singing along to the radio and reading books and trying to see who can swing the highest at the park. I’ve found myself listening more to my kids and husband (lots of good talks to be had outside on a trail!) and also just enjoying being with them in silence looking at the beautiful scenes around us.

This giving of one’s attention is something that is easily lost in the busy day to day of real life. We can all spout off what is important to us, but when we stop and analyze what really gets our attention I think we would be disappointed in ourselves.

And it’s not just others that deserve our attention. Giving yourself the time and space for whatever is important to you- meditating, creating, exercising, unplugging- is as generous a gift and makes life more than a calendar full of to do lists and meetings.

I’ve been thinking about how to carry this home with me and apply it to my life from now on. How can my husband and I keep giving each other and our children this gift of our attention as fall begins and with it the onslaught of modern day life? How can we find these moments and model to our children what it means to share a life with someone when we’re not somewhere as picturesque as a little mountain town?

With all the changes in my life over the past few months, this focus and clarity seems like a natural step in shaping my life into something that feels authentic and makes me proud. I hope to check in and share my thoughts as the months go on so I can reflect and hold myself accountable. Giving attention to what gets my attention I guess? In the meantime I will be soaking up as many hikes and mountain scenes as I possibly can to carry with me home to Dallas.

Trying Something New

Over on my sewing blog I’m sharing the somewhat humbling process of trying something new. I was thinking the post would be to links and tutorials, but turns out this project is holding a bit more meaning for me. If you’re interested go check it out! Whit Makes is linked up in the right hand corner of this blog if you ever want to see what I’m making!

Thoughts on Being a Writer

“It’s easy to say you’re a writer when things are going well. When the decision is made in the abyss, then it is quite clear that it is not one’s own decision at all.”

Madeleine L’Engle A Circle of Quiet

 

Madeleine L’Engle has always been a favorite writer of mine,  A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books growing up, but only recently have I discovered her non fiction work. A friend recommended Walking on Water to me a few years ago and every since then I’ve found her thoughts on faith and writing to be wonderful food for thought.

I purchased The Crosswicks Journals and have been working my way through book one A Circle of Quiet. While reading this book I’ve had some major changes happen to me in my life and they have been leading to a bigger question of who I am and what I want my life to look like, both as an individual and as a part of my family unit.

It is with all this self reflection that I admitted to myself I want to write. It’s why I have this blog, it’s why I’ve always journaled, it’s why I got into scrapbooking and it’s my go to reflex when I need to unload and unpack what is happening in the world around me. For some reason I have been afraid to admit this and haven’t felt it worthy enough to set aside the time and energy to do the work that I know to be living inside of me. I am currently in the process of figuring out where this fear comes from and why it’s even there, but in the meantime I’ve just… started writing. I have an actual work (a book? I don’t know for sure) that I’ve begun working on and this week I wrote out a schedule for what I want to get done everyday. Basically a personal check in point to make sure I’m sitting my butt down and writing. Even if, like yesterday, I only got 300 words in. That’s 300 words more than I had so I’m looking at every addition as a positive thing whereas in the past I would say it wasn’t worth it and would have found the task overwhelming.

A few months ago I heard Tayari Jones, author of the brilliant An American Marriage speak and she said something that has stayed with me. “Don’t believe you’re too busy to write. If you’ve got stuff to do, you’ve got stuff to say.” There are so many authors that talk about their process and it sounds ideal. They have a dedicated space where they sit for an allotted amount of time and write an allotted amount of words and that is the key to finishing a book. Tayari Jones called bullshit on this and said more authors need to talk about working other jobs, taking care of families, dealing with writer’s block, and the work that goes into writing with all these variables. How fitting in writing into your life is what it takes and that is the key, not some magic number of words or hours a day.

I’m taking what she said to heart and fitting it in when I can. That means sitting here next to my son as he shows me his world on Minecraft and outlining what I want to happen next in my story. It means asking for time alone and getting my partner to take over the kids for however long I need. And it means not being ashamed or embarrassed to tell people what I’m working on. Because it is my work, this is what I’m beginning to understand. I hope one day I can share it with you and my goal for the remainder of the year is to set aside time for my craft and make it something I want to show the world.

“I uncovered the typewriter. In my journal I recorded this moment of decision, for that’s what it was. I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up to me to say I would stop, because I could not. It didn’t matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.”

Madeleine L’Engle A Circle of Quiet

 

 

Books Update

I shared my stack of books back in June and wanted to give a quick update because I’ve read some good stuff since then! I gave up on Jane Austen biography for no other reason than I just wasn’t in the mood for it. It’s really well written and I think would be worth checking out again, just not for me right now. I also out aside A Secret History, again for no other reason than just not what I wanted to read at the moment!

I’m still reading A Circle of Quiet and will be for a long time as I just read a bit every day and make notes on things that jump out at me or that I want to remember.

I didn’t bring my poetry book with me to Denver but will still be opening that up until I finish it!

I absolutely loved The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I am still thinking of those characters and some of the passages have stayed with me. I own her second book and will be picking it up soon and I know she has a new one coming out this summer as well. That link on the title will take you to my Goodreads review!

I read Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum and it was a fun, light read for summer. If you like YA with a little more depth you’ll enjoy this one.

I loved The Huntress by Kate Quinn. Historical fiction with complicated women characters and a fun play on plot structure (some going back in time, jumping between characters). The ending wraps up in an almost annoying tidy little bow, but I’ll forgive that because I liked the rest of it so much.

I finished listening to Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr on our drive up to Denver and I enjoyed this book so much. So many interesting details and a look at history from a different perspective. I highly recommend the audio book if you need something to listen to on a long car drive this summer!

I recently started The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson and it seems like it should check all my boxes (historical fiction, dressmaking, women main characters) but as of right now I’m having trouble getting into it. Hopefully it picks up!

I downloaded two audio books and will be starting them soon. I have Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer  and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell to look forward to on my drive home!

What are you reading? Does your reading taste change with the seasons? I find myself wanting faster paced writing in the summer and in the winter I like diving in for longer, thoughtful reads.

Hello From Denver!

Ok that photo is actually from Beaver Creek but close enough right? My little family of 5 is in Denver for the month and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind getting here and getting settled. We all came up as my husband had a job opportunity and it has been a fun adventure for us.

I’ve lived in Dallas for 13 years this August and getting to explore a new city has been invigorating and sometimes a little overwhelming. The kids and I have been running around checking out museums and public swimming pools and over the weekend we took a trip up into the mountains and went on some great hikes. It’s so beautiful here and getting to be outside so much is wonderful. It is hot this week, we didn’t escape the heat wave, but 98 degrees and no humidity feels very different than what I’m used to in Dallas so I’m not complaining!

Going somewhere new and staying for an extended period of time changes the way you think about home. It makes you appreciate things you took for granted and it also makes you think of ways you can change up what’s normal for you and incorporate what you like about where you traveled. We have a week and a half left here and I’m excited to embrace every day and remember what lessons I want to bring back with me to Texas! A little perspective before Chris and I hit our 13 year wedding anniversary and decide what we want the next year together to look like. I’ve been reminded these past few weeks that change is possible and you are allowed to work for what you want out of life. Looking at the picture above I see a good portion of what I want and my thoughts are on how I want to get there.

If there’s anything I have to see while I’m here, with or without kids, let me know in the comments. I feel like I have a pretty good list but I’m up for any more recommendations!

 

%d bloggers like this: