Reflecting on the Year of 2017

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On this last day of 2017, I sit back and reflect and can say, “Wow!”  I know that I am not the same person that I was a year ago.  In 2017 I started the year with big goals, but if I am honest….I never truly felt as though I could accomplish them.  It’s hard to “be strong” if you don’t believe in yourself as strong.  As a young girl, you are always told to “be careful”.  The world is a big scary place, don’t go anywhere alone, never take added risks because as a female….life is already risky.  After hearing that repeatedly, you think that you really can’t do certain things.  It was cemented in my brain that I wasn’t strong or capable “ENOUGH”.  Reclaiming and overcoming my fears and sense of “enoughness” has also been hard this year!

A huge moment for me in 2017 was when Dave and I were driving away from Baxter State Park, after completing my “big goal” of hiking “The Knife’s Edge”.  Suddenly, I was overcome with so many emotions.  I was exhausted as we hadn’t showered in 3 days, slept horribly in a “lean-to”, and I was in pain from recovering from Shingles, but yet…I never felt more beautiful.  I suddenly started crying and I mean “ugly crying”…. as in sobbing.  The crying was a result of realizing that a part of my “old self” was left back there at that mountain.  I said to myself, “I will never be the same person that I was just a few days ago “.   I never felt more proud of who I was or what I had done.  A few people have already asked me….so what’s on your list for 2018?  I will say, I’m not one to tell, there are some BIG goals I have and some small hurdles to jump, but I’m taking one step at a time.   Some highlights from this year include:

  1. Crossing the Frankenstein Cliff Train Trestle
  2. Hiking a Mountain in Winter
  3. Strengthening old friendships and adding some new awesome ones!
  4. Hiking 2, 4000 footer mountains in Winter
  5. Visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  6. Educating myself and sharpening my Photography skills
  7. Visiting Acadia and hiking Beehive Trail
  8. Experiencing Sunrise on the top of a Mountain
  9. Hiking to the top of Mt. Washington via Huntington Ravine Trail
  10. Training for and finishing my first 4k race
  11. Camping without electricity or plumbing
  12. Hiking to the top of Mt. Katahdin and traversing “The Knifes Edge”
  13. Completing a few woodworking and sewing projects
  14. Training a puppy all over again 
  15. Going to Disney as a family
  16. Visiting and staying in a yurt

As I look at this list….I am proud, but I also want to say to all who are dreaming about 2018….please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that accomplishments will bring true fulfillment.  Yes, accomplishing these goals changed me and empowered me, but even if I didn’t accomplish them….That would be ok. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone else or even myself because I always have been ENOUGH.  No matter how many big and small things I accomplish!  As I am making my list for 2018 there are two things that I I want to have as a constant thread shaping my list or perspective.

(1) The Son of God came to suffer, die, and claim victory over sin. And he did it. He fulfilled the Father’s will.  As he hung on the cross, he did not say, “Keep trying, guys. Spend your whole lives striving to earn the approval of man and God. Hit the treadmill daily, climb more mountains, eat organic kale chips.” No, he said, “It is finished.”

In that moment, I know that I can find rest. Our unmet to-do lists, our lost tempers, our failed projects, and all of our sins fall silent. I am no longer racing alongside the world’s standards in an attempt to earn or prove anything.  I have realized this year, the most important goal that I didn’t even see coming was that….I have everything as long as I have Christ. I can REST, while attempting to humbly and joyfully set my eyes on Him and all that He has done for me.

(2) Because of the work of the cross, we are no longer rebels. We are the beloved children of a good and perfect Father. Only from this position do we understand our identity and purpose.  Christ never said, “I’m going to need you to find yourself. Spend your time and resources figuring out who you are at your core. Know yourself. And please make sure everyone else knows you too.” That would’ve been a most exhausting and fruitless charge. Instead, he told us to lose our lives in the pursuit of him.

This is how we find true joy and purpose: pursuing Christ and obeying God’s word. Rather than wandering around and wondering about God’s plans for us, we have the person of Jesus as our example, the Holy Spirit at work within us, and a God who has always been and will always be faithful to his own plan. Our role is to obedient, which requires knowing what God has said about how to live in a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Do you see my point? Yes, make goals, strive to be more organized, eat more salads. Please exercise if you want to. If you see an area of your life that needs adjustment, make adjustments. But let the heartbeat of your plans for the year be peace and know that no matter what….You are Enough and always have been! Let all that you do be done to the glory of God.

So I leave 2017 empowered from the things that I accomplished in stepping out and hungry for more “life encouraging moments”, but I also learned that no matter what….”I am Enough”.  Goals will be made, but at the forefront of all of these goals….I will remind myself that 2018 was never about me…

Highlights of 2017

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“If your Nerve deny You, Go above Your Nerve”- Emily Dickinson

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It dates back to when I was 17. My sister and my friend were going to hike Mount Washington with her dad. Mount Washington (6288 Ft.) is the tallest mountain in the northeast and known as “home to the worlds harshest/most extreme weather”. I was invited to join, but hesitated. Let’s be real….bottom line…I chickened out! I didn’t think I could do it. At that point in my life, if I couldn’t do things “well”, then I just didn’t do it. That was my perfectionist mentality for a very very long time. If I did something, I wanted it to be “great” ! But, how can you be “great” at something, if you haven’t done it? They came back from their expedition elated, filled with fun stories talking about how crazy the weather was with smiles on their faces. Disappointment and regret sat inside of me, and it stayed there…

Fast forward in time. I became a nurse, a wife, and a mom and all of my goals and desires halted. I did everything for everyone else and that was what my life had become. Until a year and a half ago. I read the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown and it completely shifted my outlook and approach on living. I even blogged about it here: https://lilysparrowprimitives.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/daring-greatly-2/ . For so long I didn’t do hard things because of fear, shame, anxiety, and inadequacy. The voice in the back of my head was, “who do you think you are?”, “a mother’s priority should be her home and her kids”, “you should have done that when you were younger”, “your body can’t handle that physically anymore….you missed the window of opportunity” . But then I thought, what does this show my girls? When you become a mom, that is all your life is? That I don’t have a sense of adventure anymore? That being older means giving up on tough goals? That my life is solely wrapped into them? I slowly started doing things for me and I stopped caring about the voice in the back of my head.

I also considered….what is this life? I look around and think….how many people are just wasting this!!! Walking around and not seeing the beauty in every aspect of this life that you have been granted!! Every single day that I am blessed to wake up with air in my lungs and a body that functions well is a gift!! I don’t want to waste this swimming in pile of regrets. I want to live each day to the fullest that I can. Yes, there are days of frustrations and hard times, but those days are also filled with grace and love and beauty too!!!

Over the last year I have done things that challenge me to a point that I never have. Achievements that make me smile and say…”I’m so glad I did this”…and it didn’t matter if I did it well, but that I accomplished it. Many of them have to do with hiking. You see, I married an avid hiker. For the longest time he would go on these amazing adventures and I would see these awesome pictures and think….”so fun, but I could never do that”. I’ll just stay at home and read my books about adventures and interesting things. Last spring I finally got the courage to do my first solo hike (i blogged about it here: https://lilysparrowprimitives.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/573/ ). I also hiked my first 4000 footer (Cannon) and hiked The Franconia Ridge Trail in NH (one of the most epic hikes in the whole country). I had Mt. Washington listed for the fall, but we got snowed out several times (go figure!). So, I did my first fall hike (Mt. Liberty) and winter hike (Pierce and Eisenhower). The summer came and I knew I wanted to get Mt. Washington off my bucket list. I wanted to finally get rid of that disappointment and regret that still lingered inside.

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Sunday (7/9) was the day. We have another hike potentially for the end of the summer that has a lot of exposure and Dave wanted to prepare me for that. So he chose…Mt. Washington via Huntington Ravine Trail. This trail is known to be the very hardest/technical climb east of the Mississippi. The night before and the morning of….I had a pit in my stomach and that same “voice of doubt” in the back of my head. I fought it off by writing inspirational quotes on my hands and arm. The thinking and waiting was tough. I was glad that we decided to go with my BIL (Jim) and SIL (Carolyn). The night before I thought…why am I doing this? Well, My answer was….because I CAN (physically, emotionally, mentally) and because there will be no greater feeling than accomplishing this!!! This is over 18 years I’ve held onto this. We hiked the early portion of the trail and I felt confident (even passing the “very dangerous trail” sign), but I will admit….when we got to the foot of the first major transition point on the headwall…that was scary. The hike continued to worsen with finding foothold and handhold moves that were tricky climbing up the rugged rock (I am so glad I had a few rock climbing sessions under my belt from this winter). Eventually, you have several huge boulders you have to meander around (with exposed cliff drop offs behind you and very little footing)….these were nerve wracking. The last crucial point in the trail is a “chimney”….I froze here. I sat there thinking…”I dont know if I can do this….maybe I should turn back?”, but in reality…turning back was more dangerous! Dave was able to get up the chimney with his longer legs, but my boot kept slipping and there was no way my legs could reach where his did. (he later admitted…..he was very nervous for me at this point). Thankfully, Jim gave me his knee to step on to extend my footing and give me the ability to push up and over and I was able to grab onto the rock and reach for Dave’s hand. I will tell you….the moment I finally exited this trail….was sheer relief! I would never tell anyone to do this unless they were a heavily experienced hiker! One false move….you could die or be severely injured (thankfully I went with Dave and Jim!). By the time I made the summit of Mt. Washington, I was tired, ecstatic, and maybe in a state of shock. 18 years later I accomplished an adventure that I should have done years ago, but truthfully, I think this made me enjoy it that much more. Some ask….why hike? Firstly, I can do something with my husband that he is completely passionate about. Finally, because there is nothing that compares to the feeling of being so small on a mountain. When you are so little and everything else is so vast and big…..I know that without a shadow of a doubt…there is an amazing Creator who cares about the big things and small things in life! There is nothing more beautiful or humbling than that.

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I will leave you with a slideshow of highlights from our trip….

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Pinch Myself Moment

Hi Everyone,

First, I would like to make it known that one of my very favorite “go to” blogs is Marian Parson’s.  For those of you who don’t know who Marian is by her real name….she is Miss Mustard Seed! marian1She is also the developer of one of my favorite milk paint lines as well.  If you have read some of my furniture flip blog posts…you know that I use a lot of her products including her milk paint, hemp oil, and wax products.  Reading her blog pushed me to start painting furniture pieces and seeing more of the hidden potential in things.  She also has great tutorials on reupholstering, sewing, styling, creative business advice, thrifty decor, etc.  I feel like I am friends with her by just being a regular reader of her blog.  Marian’s writing style makes you feel like you are just sitting right there with her and having a conversation.  She is inspiring to me because she took her amazing talents and passions and made a career out of it.  She makes money doing what she loves!  Last April she announced that she would be coming to “Sage Farm Antique’s Fall Spectacular Event”.  The event was in Rochester, NH…about an hour away from me!   She was going to be speaking at two different presentations and one being about home decor on a thrifty budget.  As soon as I had read that….I knew I wanted to be there!!! I wanted to finally meet this wonderful lady in person!  Today I did just that!!!
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I arrived at the event early because not only was Marian going to be speaking, but it took place at an antique market hosted by Sage Farm.  Inside the Rochester Fair Grounds was a bunch of antique booths and vendors as well as yummy fall foods!  I did some browsing, got a coffee & cider donut, then headed soon after to get to the “special event” so I could get a front row seat (something I never would have done in school) !!!

About 5 minutes after I had found my seat….Marian arrived with her mom!  Her mother ended up sitting right next to me….and was the sweetest and so down to earth!!!  Marian presented and spent the time to answer questions, then wrapped it up by talking to some of us after.  Her mom was nice enough to take a picture of me with her daughter!

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It definitely felt like a celebrity moment for me, but so much more real because I felt like I already knew her!  The whole day was a “Somebody, please pinch me….is this real? kind of day”  If you have never heard of Miss Mustard Seed….here is a link to her blog…check it out!  I hope you love it as much as I do!!!  http://missmustardseed.com/

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Mommin aint easy!

Emma went to Kindergarten 2 years ago.  Ibackpack remember the anxiety I felt sending my first born out into the world.  Feelings of “did I prepare her enough”.  Would she find her teacher ok?, Will she make friends? , Will she cry and miss home? , Will she go to the bathroom when she needs to?, Will she be brave and stand up for herself?, Knowing she is quiet and sensitive…will she not get lost in the crowd? I remember that first day of school so vividly.  I had a knot in my stomach the whole night before and morning.  I couldn’t believe that this tiny little baby I had brought home from the hospital was big enough to already go to school….all day long!  She was leaving the nest and having to learn that kids can be mean and not 3fingerseverything is just like home.   I remember trying to hold back the tears the first time I saw her wearing a backpack bigger than she was!  The moment that big yellow bus came and I got one last hug….happened in an instant and it was all over!  I balled my eyes out as the bus pulled away and I saw the 3 little fingers signing “I love you” out the window.   Then I turned and saw this sweet little 3 year old holding my hand saying “it’s ok mom, we will be ok”. 

 

I didn’t feel completely alone because I had someone else who needed me during the hours of 8-3.  My little buddy, my side-kick, my helper Hannah.  We filled our days with fun adventures and memory making.  We truly had time to bond now that it was just the two of us!  Of course, the time has now come….my youngest is about to head off in a little over a week and it’s hard all over again for different reasons!   I have some of the same worries I had 2 years ago, but some different as both girls have different personalities.  I still worry that she will become just another face in a sea of 5 year olds.   I worry that she will give in to peer pressure because she longs to be a good friend, that she won’t eat her lunch, that she won’t pay close attention to her teacher because she gets easily distracted, and I worry that she will get so tired because she still regularly needs rests.  Hannah is ready, I know she is. 

  It’s time for me to let her grow up, but I also worry about myself.    I worry about the once coveted silence will be deafening, I worry that I have no purpose if I’m not spending the majority of my time with at least one of my children.  I worry that I won’t be needed as much.  The years I have been able to be at home with my children have been the absolute hardest and best years….I would not have traded them for anything.  The memories, the bonding, the hard days were worth it. But it’s a loss knowing that this time went too fast and is over.  I’m excited for them and all they are going to learn and experience, but it ain’t easy being a mom!

WAY TOO LONG!!!

Hi All,

Well, this post is titled “Way Too Long!!!” because it really has been way too long since I have given you any updates.  The bathroom project is finally finished, but before posting any pictures I need to wrap up some finishing touches.  I am hoping that next week I can finally give you my official “after” post!  This summer has been BUSY!!!!  But then again….what summer isn’t?? Really!

Today, I am going to share with you something I am really really excited about!!! I recently was gifted, by one of my good friends, with the most amazing antique.  She asked me several months ago if I had any interest in taking an old antique spinning wheel off of her hands.  You can only imagine my excitement!  To say ecstatic was an understatement!!! “Um yeah!!! Of course!!”  It was an antique “Great Wheel” that has been in her husband’s family since the 1800’s.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have the space to keep it in her house.   She knows that I am a true lover of antiques and in particular, early American styling, so she graciously offered it to me.   The only kicker was finding a way to get up to Maine and get it to fit in the car.  Of course you all know me well enough that no matter what….that spinning wheel was going to fit and make it home !!!    So here it is in all of it’s glory!!! I love it and I love my dear friend for thinking of me especially, she’s the best!!!

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Breathe the Fresh Air

Journal – tagged "News!":                                  Photo Credit: Peg and Awl.  http://pegandawlbuilt.com/

It has been a busy week!  I haven’t done any new furniture flips this past week because I have mostly been enjoying Spring in New England.  The warm weather has finally started to arrive here and I have been soaking it all in!  Last week I spent most of the week doing yard work.  My gardens needed some serious tending to after the long Massachusetts winter.  They were sad and needed a “make me pretty again, please!” moment.  After getting them all prepped with raking, weeding, and flipping the soil, my youngest daughter and I went to Home Depot and got a bunch of flowers to plant.  It was fun picking out flowers together and then finding the perfect spot to plant each one.

I will admit that I was never a gardener, but over the past few years I have slowly started to become more comfortable after putting some real effort into it.   I learned a lot along the way about what worked, what didn’t, and what I could do better next season.  It is always fun to see a tiny little plant blossom after you provide the necessary care toward it. One of the most important things that I have learned is that placing a plant in the proper environment is so important, as well as caring for it properly.  Another important part of gardening is to not give up on the process.  Don’t give up on plants too easily, just change up what you are doing with them.  Consider watering more, watering less, adding fertilizer, repotting it, or moving it’s location and sometimes it will bounce back and be just as amazing as it was meant to be! Little baby plants are symbolic to people… if we are feeling dry and uninspired….change things up, do something different so that you can bloom and thrive!

Yesterday, was one of those “perfect temperature” kind of days (high 70’s with a light breeze).   I had a lot of work that I should do around the house, but I decided to not waste a day of beautiful sunshine and go for a hike.  My mother in law had my daughter for a “grammie” day and I used it to my full advantage.  I initially contemplated going on another solo mountain trip, but I really did need accomplish some tasks and not spend too much time away.  I decided I would go to a new local spot that I had heard great things about, but never actually done myself.  I went to a state forest in Newburyport, MA called Maudslay State Park.  If you live in the area and have never been….go!  The one thing I regret is leaving the map that I printed up….on my printer!  Yeah, I realized this just as I was parking my car in the parking lot.  They have a map at the entrance, but it was not a very detailed one.  There are a ton of different trails that you can walk, but the blazes on the trail are not well marked.  With that being said, I didn’t want to wander too far away without knowing where I would end up.  Some of the trails go right along with riverside and it is right near the ocean.  As you are walking you can smell a mix of both forest and ocean all the at the same time.  What is better than that?  I found a comfortable spot to sit right by the water, read my book, and just enjoy the time listening to the wildlife around me.  One thing that I am so thankful for is having a father who was a science teacher.  Growing up he instilled in me a respect for animals and a love of nature.  It has allowed me to share that same love with my own two girls.  When you take the time to just sit, observe your surroundings, and pay attention to the details…Creation is astounding!  I am going to leave you with a few pictures of yesterdays hike and I can definitely say that I will be going back….with a map!  Enjoy your week and embrace the fresh air and beauty around you!

“Some old-fashioned things like sunshine and fresh air are heard to beat”

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Brimfield or Bust!!!

As many of you know, this weekend I got to experience my first Brimfield Antique Show.  For years I have wanted to go to this show and this is the year it happened.  For all of you who are wondering what in the world “Brimfield” is, I will give you a quick overview.  It takes place 3 times a year for about a week (May, July, and September).  The show is located in Brimfield, Massachusetts which is about an hour and 20 minutes from my home.  If you are a lover of antiques, people watching, and all things eclectic ….this is the place to be!  Brimfield Antiques show is the largest outdoor antique show in the entire world.  People come from everywhere to be here (including Europe, Japan, and Africa) !  It is compromised of over 23 different fields filled with venders and booths along one main road (Rt. 20)   The day started off long due to sitting in enormous amounts of traffic, but we were determined and eventually got there.  While we were pulling onto the main

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Flea Market Flip being Filmed

road, we saw the HGTV show “Flea Market Flip” being filmed and people gathering to watch.  It was fun to see, but then I remembered…time to focus on finding a spot to park!!!   Finding parking was no easy feat as many of the lots were already full.  But we finally found a spot on the far end of one of the fields! Now the treasure hunt could begin!   It was overwhelming to say the least!  I didn’t even know where to begin or what I wanted to see the most.  I had a mental list in my head of items I was

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looking forward to finding, but it’s easy to forget in this atmosphere.  The sights, the sounds, the food, everything was amazing!  I will be honest in telling you that some booths had fantastic pieces, but were way overpriced.  There were other booths who were very reasonable and willing to “haggle”.  There were some booths that just had pure junk.  I felt guilty because for the first hour I just “browsed”.  I didn’t want to put my money down on something and then later find that I would fall in love with something bigger and better. Eventually I hit my stride, started “haggling”, and purchased a few small primitive items that were priced fairly and fit my decorating style.  Here of some of my finds from the weekend!

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To briefly sum it up….I would say it is worth the visit.  The crazy part is that we only got around to seeing about 1/3 of all that was there!  It is an experience like no other and seeing all the different booths was so fun!  Brimfield sparked with creativity!  Seeing how people styled items, set up their booths, utilized random pieces.  It gives you such a broad idea as to what you can do with simple items to inspire! Here is a quick slideshow to give you an idea of some of the items for sale and what the booths looked like.

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It was fun, exhausting, and I am so glad we did it.  I am already planning for the next time I go!! If you have ever thought of visiting…let me know, I’ll give you some pointers and tips that I learned that might make it easier for you!

Solo Hiking

 

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I have claimed this year to be one that I will push myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  I started a list of things that I always have hoped to do, dreamed about, and even things that scare me.  My goal is to just start doing them as opposed to the “Oh, some day excuse” . I’ll reference back to a quote that I used on this blog from the book Daring Greatly.  It states, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time”.  This past week I was able to accomplish one of my goals  and here is where it begins…

My husband and I enjoy hiking together.  He is much more of a skilled hiker who challenges himself and goes all 4 seasons, overnight backpacking, enjoys tougher terrain, and the more challenging hiking trails.  I hike, but I am nowhere near as experienced as he is.  When we go together it is usually one of the easier trails and “moderate” level mountains and he encourages me along the way.   I have had the “itch” to go hiking since last summer.  As the John Muir quote states, “The Mountains are Calling and I must go!” has been filling my brain.  The feeling of such accomplishment once you have arrived at the top of a mountain is nothing that can be described until someone has actually experienced it for themselves.  Unfortunately, my hiking partner injured his Achilles and has been rehabbing it all winter so we haven’t had the opportunity to go together.

One day I started thinking…”well, why don’t I just do something solo?”.  Then my rational/scared/safety personality kicked in saying “you can’t do that, it would be so UNSAFE…what about the wild animals, crazy ax murderers, or even if you sprained your ankle?…you would be ALL ALONE!!!”  So it was a battle of the mind for a little while.  Finally, I decided I would do a small mountain that I have hiked many times and I would take all possible safety measures.  I have to admit, the night before I was going to do this…. I didn’t sleep very well because I kept thinking about what could potentially happen.  Once I started the car ride, my stress dissipated.  I turned my radio up, listened to some of my favorite music, and just enjoyed the beautiful day for what it was.  I arrived at the trail and saw several other cars parked in the lot, which relieved some of my stress (as long as they weren’t ax murderers) , placed my knife and whistle in my pocket, called my husband and let him know I had arrived and started on the journey.

As I hiked, it was nice to just be alone. Time to reflect and embrace what all of my senses were observing around me.  Besides the sound of my boots crunching the rocks on the trail, it was birds singing their songs, the breeze flowing through the air, stream waters trickling, the sun shining on my face, and fresh mountain air filling my lungs.  A sort of magic that can only be experienced alone in the woods.  Once I finally arrived to the top, it was breathtakingly beautiful.  The sky was cloudless and you could see for miles in the distance.  I asked one of the other 2 strangers to take my picture, ate my lunch, and read from my Bible.  I took my time and just embraced sitting on top of a mountain, that I just climbed, all on my own….by myself!

Once I finished the downward climb and got to the end, it felt liberating to accomplish something that always scared me.  To hike alone.  To do something without the help of someone else, even if there were some dangers involved.  I felt confident and proud.  But to be completely vulnerable and honest, it also made me tear up.  I turned and looked back at that mountain and felt that I had left a piece of me there.  The part of myself that doubted if she could do it, that always considered safety first, that never steps outside of her comfort zone.  I said goodbye to part of my old self that day, on that mountain, and gained bravery.  I learned that stepping outside my comfort zone  will grow me more than I could ever imagine.  Dare to do things that scare you.  As the famous quote says, “Great things never come from Comfort Zones!”  I would encourage you all to think about things that have held you back or made you scared and consider why.  Then also consider what it would feel like if you could actually move past those feelings and conquer that fear!

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Cold Tangerines

This Spring I have gone into a reading binge. Not the kind of reading binge where it’s like watching a Netflix tv show and you just go right into the next one.  No, no…this is the kind of reading binge where I have at least 3 books going at once and I’m reading them all at the same time.  It has maybe gotten a little out of hand, but I love it…don’t judge 🙂

A book that I just finished last night is titled “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist.  It is a book that celebrates the rawness and amazing wonders that each day provides if we just choose to look for it.  Shauna Neiquist is also an artist with her words.

Last night I read one of the last chapters and it struck a chord because it has to do with creativity.  This excerpt comes from a chapter titled “Needle and Thread”.  She begins the chapter talking about a special song titled, “Needle and Thread” that was playing in the delivery room right after she had her son (it was on her birthing soundtrack).  This song became her and her sons “song” as it always brought her back to that moment when she first met him.  Months later she went to the band’s concert and it was a tender moment getting to hear that song live.

She writes, “I wanted to tell the songwriter about it, about how thankful we were for his song, about how deeply his song traveled through the tenderest parts of our life, about how those words and sounds had become a part of the story of one of the most sacred events of our lives.  As I walk out to my car after the show, I almost went back to wait in line and tell him, but I knew that I would cry, not the sweet little tears, but the kind that make your nose and eyeliner run, and that I would try to hug him, which would be mortifying for both of us….And so I didn’t tell him, but if I had, this is what I would have said:  Thank you.  Thank you, and keep going.  Please keep writing songs.  Please keep believing in music.  We need the sounds and words and rhythms of hope and the haunting twist of your voice.  We are desperate for great music, and there’s so much out there, but never, ever enough.  We’re desperate for great storytellers, great painters, great dancers, great cooks, because art does something nothing else does.  Art slips past our brains straight into our bellies.  It weaves itself into our thoughts and feelings and the open spaces in our souls, and it allows us to live more and say more and feel more.  Great art says the things we wished someone would say out loud, the things we wish we could say out loud.  It matters, art does, so deeply.  It’s one of the noblest things because it can make us better, and one of the scariest things, because it comes from such a deep place inside of us.  There is nothing scarier than the first time you play and sing a song for someone, when you let someone see your painting, or show your photography.  I know that life is busy and hard, and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut.  But don’t.  Please don’t.  Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art you make.  Please keep demonstrating the courage it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul.  Please keep making art for people like me, who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.”

This chapter completely resonated with me because how many times have I been stopped in my tracks by a song that just completely hits me to my core, read words that utterly speak to me as if I had written them myself, or admired paintings that are awe-inspiring and blow me away with their detail and beauty.  Each of us are given gifts, we were created to use them.  I believe a lot of people don’t make use of their talents because they were told once “that’s awful” and lack the confidence to get back up and try again….don’t let a harsh critic, a bad teacher, or fierce competitor take that away from you.  I’m going to end this blog post with how Shauna ends her chapter…. “To all the secret writers, late night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes.  Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel.  Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed, instead of one more tv show or magazine or movie, create something, anything.

coldtangerines

 

 

 

May the Sparrows have a Home!

Typically, I always beg, plead, smile pretty, and beg some more for my husband to build something for me.  Unfortunately, there is never enough time for him to get every single “proposed” project done because he has to do something called…”go to work” !

This fall I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and ask him to teach me some simple woodworking skills.  We spent a day going over the basics of using a table saw, miter saw, band saw, and nail gun.  It was fun and we started working on some projects together!  It’s been a nice way for us to spend quality time with one another and it has also made me appreciate all the work he has put into some of my previous project requests!

woodwork

With that all being said…here is one of the first projects I started putting together….a primitive-styled birdhouse!  For a long time I have wanted a nice big birdhouse that was just for garden décor, but seriously…what bird wouldn’t want to live in this gigantic house!! (ahem, yes, I’m aware that birds don’t love the smell of paint, but every homebuyer has to learn to outweigh the good with the bad whenever you move into a house!) .  I still have to add a few finishing touches (like holes for the birds to enter and I also want to put it on an actual post), but with all that being said…learning basic woodworking skills meant a pretty little birdhouse to decorate the yard with!  If you are like me and are always asking your spouse to make things for you then I would encourage you to just have them teach you and it will be something fun you can do together!

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