Category: Journaling

When I realized something…

Blinking back hot tears, I put my foot on the accelerator and pulled into afternoon traffic. The curt attitude of a Joann’s cashier reverberated through my spirit. I felt stupid for having been confused and belittled for trying to sort the confusion out.

It was a simple thing. Stupid really. A misundertanding on my part, but when I returned to the store trying to find the discrepancy, the cashier ran out of patience with me, annoyed that I would dare challenge the computer’s final answer.

My hands were shaking as I showed her my calculator screen trying to explain what I didn’t understand. Do you know how hard it is to explain a problem when you don’t understand what the problem is? Why did my calculator give me a different answer than her computer and the receipt?

I had been sitting in the car, fighting a headache and stress-induced nausea while frantically recalculating my purchases three times. I knew something was off, but I couldn’t find it, and they hadn’t believed me when I pointed it out during the transaction.

All I wanted was to know where I was going wrong.

After fighting back tears and going round and round for fifteen minutes, simply asking her to add it up on a calculator so I could see what she was doing (Oh, but did you know it’s “not as simple as that”? Since when is adding something up on a calculator a difficult feat?), I finally caught sight of a figure on the computer screen and asked, “Is that the fabric amount? That’s not what my cutting receipt says.” Of course I didn’t have the cutting receipt anymore as that is confiscated when you check out.

“Oh, the cutting slip doesn’t have the total on it.”

What?

Problem solved. The figure I had seen on the cutting slip was not the total, but the original price of the last piece of fabric. I had glanced down at the yellow slip of paper, seen that last number, assumed it was the total and based all of my addition on that number. Now it made sense, which was all I wanted; for it to make sense.

She turned away and rang everything up again, ordered me to swipe my card, then yanked the receipt out of the machine and handed it to me. I apologized for the tenth time, knowing that her curt “It’s OK, Ma’am” was probably the biggest lie she would tell that day.

I now held two receipts in my hand and glanced down at the totals on them.

“And now it’s even more than the total was the first time!” I was ready to fall over at that point and wouldn’t have minded screaming right then and there in the middle of a crowded store.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. That’s what the computer says.”

“I hate shopping here.” I sighed as I stuffed my wallet into my purse.

“What?”

Much as I wanted to scream for all to hear, “I hate this store!” I bit my tongue, shook my head, and responded with “nothing.”

I snatched my bags, apologized yet again and hurried out of the store. I would pay the extra dollar fifty just to get away from her coldness.

Now I was driving home in a blur of tears thinking how ironic it is that every time I go to this store that claims to “inspire creativity,” I leave with a frantic feeling that I need to do anything but sew. I now wanted nothing to do with the fabric I’d just procured to make a costume for my son.

I braked for a red light as a realization washed over me. I don’t love sewing as much as I thought.

If I truly loved it, shouldn’t that be the one thing I wanted to do to unwind after a stressful day? Shouldn’t that be what I want to do when I’m bored? Shouldn’t that be what I turn to when I’m sad? Shouldn’t that be the activity I can’t wait to drown myself in when I have a free day?

But I don’t.

Admitting that to myself was something of a slight shock, enough to dry up my tears as I pondered the idea the rest of the drive home. Why do I sew?

Sewing is something that should bring joy to my life.

I want to love sewing without the need for it to define who I am.

I want to love fabric without feeling pressure to make something out of every new print I find.

I want to luxuriate in the colors and textures of beautiful bolts of fabric knowing that that is pleasure enough.

And when it does bring me happiness, I want to sew for the pure pleasure of the project, like making a summer dress out of this stunning pink cotton lawn for my bitty girl.

lovesewingpinkfabric

Along with quite a few other things I’m reevaluating in my life, I am reevaluating where fabric and sewing machines fit in. I will always sew, but maybe I will not always sew as regularly or as devotedly. Or with as much guilt and pressure. And maybe one day I won’t even have a vast fabric stash or designated sewing room. Can I love sewing without letting it control me?

(Epilogue: this incident happened six months ago. I wrote about it, then saved it as a draft, debating whether to post it to the world. I rediscovered it today and hit “publish” because my goal with this blog is to be real. To be me. To keep a record of the joyful and frustrating parts of my life.)

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What Is Your Favorite Accessory?

Earrings!

Well, that was easy for a journaling topic.

Oh, I’m supposed to go into a little more detail than a single word? Alright…

I love earrings. I think I always have because as a child, I don’t remember wearing jewelry until I got my ears pierced at eighteen. From that point on, I wore earrings nearly every day. Even now, as a self-proclaimed frump-mom whose wardrobe is more yoga pants and tank tops than skinny jeans and chic blouses, I still wear earrings daily.

I like necklaces in moderation, and I love the idea of bracelets, but I have yet to find either accessory that I can’t live without. More often than not, I end up removing them before the day is over. I couldn’t even tell you why; something just isn’t right.

Rings… I don’t even want to go there. Again, I like the idea of wearing a ring and love looking at them and seeing them on my fingers, but when I wear one, it’s all I can do to keep it on.

It’s the weirdest thing, I know! Just having something around my finger like that makes me feel like I’m being strangled, and I’ll find my other fingers fidgeting with it, spinning it round and round until I’m about to go crazy.

I wore both my rings to a Christmas party last month. We were only there for two hours, and for at least ninety-five minutes of that time, I was anxiously aware of the metal on my fingers and shed them within seconds of getting back home.

Just writing about it is making my fingers fidgety…

I need to research rings and find something that’s designed to be trimmer and sleeker. Maybe weightless? It would be nice to wear my rings… But not at the expense of my sanity!

But earrings? They are the one jewelry item that I’m not tempted to take off before the day is over. No outfit is complete without a pair of earrings. My new favorites are from the Takobia collection. They’re only sold in select boutiques, so I treat myself to a new pair when I find them. Most of the styles are light as a feather and go with any outfit. If I had my own shop, these would be front and center!

As much as I love earrings, I also have a strange phobia of ripping my earlobes and being unable to wear earrings ever again. Sometimes the things we fear can be the greatest indication of what is most precious to us, even down to something as silly as jewelry.

Can I also admit that I’m really looking forward to my girls having pierced ears so I can share the earring love with them?

What is your favorite accessory? Maybe you love rings and hate earrings!

 

 

Today the Temperature Was…

Blah.

That’s our word for the temperature today. Good word? That’s the word I used when a child appeared at my elbow and blinked back a tear because “Today’s not a good day.”

A colorless blanket of clouds just thick enough to block the sun but not thick enough to bring a heavy gloom. Too cold to play outside, but not cold enough to snow. Just a blah winter”s day.

These are the days when my mind wanders to being wealthy enough to own a winter home on a warm beach in the Turks and Caicos islands.

I love the geography I’ve learned from House Hunters International. I don’t know why Turks and Caicos stuck with me from an episode three years ago. Maybe it was because the Bahamas seems cliche, or maybe because that episode was a normal family looking for a normal house to live their normal life, which is all I need to do. I just want to do it in an abnormally gorgeous place with an ocean view!

But back to my not so tropical winter day…

I have a secret weapon this year. In addition to popping vitamin-D tablets throughout the day, I’ve been walking. Thanks to Leslie Sansone, I can walk several miles a day from the warmth of my own living room! It’s a little addicting. I can walk a mile before breakfast. Then every couple of hours when I start to feel the chill of the tile floors and cheap windows, I take another walk.

I can’t tell you how great it is to work up a sweat and wear a tank top and no socks in the middle of winter!

I don’t care what the temperature is outside today! I can take a mood-boosting walk on the worst of days.

Do you need a burst of energy today? Take a happy walk!

 

 

Tomorrow Will Be Better Because…

…plain and simple, it’s Saturday! Need I say more?

I can wake up to the late morning sun falling across my face, have a lazy stretch, and grab a book to enjoy from the depths of my warm duvet…

Oh wait, I’m a mom.

Lazy Saturdays don’t exist.

I’m on a mission to make them exist in our lifestyle. At least for the next few weeks until the soccer season starts.

I started a Bullet Journal this year, or rather, my over-simplified version of a Bullet Journal. Surprisingly, I am getting things done almost without realizing it! It’s been so successful that I’ve given my kids their own even more simplified versions of Bullet Journals, and they have been getting things done in record time (most days).

This means that for the last two weekends, we have had relatively lazy days for the first time ever during a school semester!

All of those marked-off boxes in our journals are reason enough to reward ourselves with a day of sewing, reading, movies, simpler meals, and all the Lego creations certain brains can think up.

That is why tomorrow will be better.

At least that’s one reason.

I believe every day will be better because it’s another day God gives me to be better, do better. One of the things He has laid on my heart in recent months is to simplify my life so I can live the life He’s given me and be a better mom rather than just the maid-of-all-work.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but it is the day the Lord has made to rejoice and be glad in. That is the real reason tomorrow will be better.

What about your tomorrow? How will it be better than today?

 

What Possession Could You Not Live Without?

For the sake of discussion, I’m going to exclude the obvious answers like food, clothes, and shelter which I literally could not stay alive without. Can I exclude a bed from the equation too? I do so love my foam mattress and crisp linens!

When I imagine my house empty (again, with myself being fully clothed and well fed), my first emotion is one of relief. I know that sounds terrible, but I often feel like my house is suffocating me. I’m the weird creature who would love to have a completely empty room in my house where I can go sit in the middle of the floor and just breathe. The more furnishings and decorations that are in a room, the more claustrophobic I feel. I need negative space.

After basking in that feeling of stillness, I realize I have nothing to do. Hmm…

What would I like to do?

I bet most people who know me will get the answer wrong.

It is NOT sewing or decorating or cooking or gardening. In fact, reversing the order of those three things would get you slightly closer to the right answer, but still far from it. I do those things because they need to be done, and I happen to know how to do them.

In a house devoid of all possessions the first thing that I see myself wanting and needing is a pen and paper (or electronic substitute). If I were to lose everything, the first thing I would absolutely need to replace would be a writing medium. It wouldn’t matter what I needed to write, I would just need to write. Lists of things to refill the rooms (because I do enjoy decorating), recipe ideas (a girl’s gotta eat!), pictures of dresses to sew (I can’t help it; my mom raised me at a sewing machine), but mostly to write my thoughts and preserve my memories.

There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t write something. It’s not always a journal entry, and I haven’t written a fictional story since I was a teen, but my days are still filled with texts and questions scribbled on a scrap of paper or lists and journaling typed on the Notes app on my phone.

My world revolves around words. Spoken, written, thought.

I’ve always said I’d rather be deaf than blind. Deaf simply means the world would be quiet. Blind means my world as I know it would end because I would lose the ability to read a book, write in a notebook, or make a list simply for the pure pleasure of holding a pen and forming the letters.

Most of the things I do, I do simply because they need to be done and I know how to do them.

Putting words to paper (or screen) is what I find joy in.

In the past week as I’ve been blogging these journaling prompts I’ve noticed my days have been quieter. I don’t mean my kids have stopped running through the house hollering and wrestling, or that the TV isn’t blaring Tinkerbell and Star Wars while my phone is dinging with texts and my husband is typing emails like a mad man. I mean my mental day has been quieter. Clearer, calmer, more focused and able to handle the external craziness because the mental cyclone in my brain has an outlet.

There is no more tornado of questions, to-do lists, ideas, dreams, memories, and observations. They’re all lining up into orderly rows that march out through my fingertips. It’s amazing what the simple act of responding to a silly journaling prompt can do for mental clarity!

What is your one possession that you couldn’t live without?

What Was Your Latest Major Accomplishment?

My latest major accomplishment happened just yesterday. I had fought knots in my stomach for the previous month and felt nauseous for the two hours it took for it to be over. I’m going to apologize ahead of time for the pathetic answer to this question.

I renewed my driver’s license.

All by myself.

OK, wait. I wasn’t actually all by myself. I had four young children with me in a very crowded room with at least a hundred other people in a dirty little building.

I intentionally waited to go on a weekday during school hours thinking I could breeze through, get my picture taken, and be out in time to go do something fun with the kids for lunch.

Oh, no. There was no “breezing” happening.

First of all, to get to my nearest Department of Public Safety location, I have to drive half an hour over a highway that scares me to death. I’ve seen more accidents on that one highway than I have in all of my life. It used to be a 2-lane state highway, and as the city expanded, it became the main thoroughfare connecting multiple large suburbs. It’s now a 4-lane highway with no center divider, multiple stoplights, and traffic moving at 70 miles an hour (IF they’re bothering to stick to the 65mph speed limit).

I am not kidding when I say I’ve seen people try to make U-turns in the middle of this highway! I’ve seen small cars T-boned by pickup trucks flying down a hill, and I’ve seen big construction vehicles taking up multiple lanes as they use the entire light cycle to make a left turn. Scary, dangerous, nerve-wracking stuff. I hate this road.

Today it was unavoidable because I needed to get to the DPS quickly before the line backed up. So we took the harrowing highway. I should not have bothered trying to redeem a few extra minutes.

The building was jam-packed when we arrived and squeezed in through the door. According to the clerk behind the desk it had been that way all day and would be that way until 4:00. And it was like that every single day which isn’t much help since after 4pm, you have to battle rush-hour traffic. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out for the hour and a half wait time.

I should mention I have a very large personal bubble. I don’t like people in my space. I don’t even like my own children to invade my personal space most of the time, much less complete strangers who smell of various deodorants and perfumes (among other things). One elderly gentleman left his seat and insisted I take it because it was on the end of a row where I’d have room to park the kids on the floor next to me. Bless him!

We sat and sat and sat. The kids squirmed. I was tempted to leave. But the thought of having to drive thirty minutes home then another thirty minutes there and back the next day… Yeah, that just used up the 90-minute wait time. So we waited. Once I’ve committed to something, I just want to get it over with. The thought of having to do it all again the next day made me feel even more queasy than I was already feeling.

So we sat there through our lunch hour. I tried to corral the kids, but they really didn’t need much of that. Why do they sit still in a place like that but run all over Costco like they own the place?! I was actually really proud of them. For the most part.

Bitty Girl got cranky in the last half an hour. She gets hungry, and when she’s hungry she gets mean. And after she gets mean, she pitches a fit. If she gets to that fit-pitching stage, I know a flood of uncontrollable tears is only a matter of time. So we had to avoid the fit-pitching as long as possible.

That said, if she wanted to pitch a fit, I was totally going to let her. If “they” were going to make it so difficult just to renew a driver’s license, they were going to have to endure some torment just like I did!

I still cannot believe that in a populated area of a several million people they don’t have adequate DPS/DMV locations! I even asked the clerk if there was a better time to come back, and she said the only time when the line starts to think out is after 4:00 in the afternoon. Not much help since after 4pm, you have to drive through rush-hour traffic to get there. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out.

We ended up waiting a little over an hour. Every muscle in my body was tense, and my brain couldn’t focus on anything by the time I got to the counter. The clerk was at least upbeat and smiling when he asked for my license. I was so distracted and mentally exhausted at that point that I didn’t even think to have it out!

I laughed and told him, “I’ve been here so long, I don’t even remember why I’m here!” The license renewal itself was at least a breeze. Read a row of letters, take a hideous picture, sign my name, and voila! We were done.

He had me in and out within 5 minutes, and I marched my four progeny out the entrance door (with permission!) so we didn’t have to parade through a hundred people to get to the opposite side of the building.

Then we sat in the van and ate chocolate-covered dried fruit.

We needed it!

By way of decompressing, we went to a former favorite haunt, the local farm supply store. We used to visit on a regular basis back when we had a dog. They have the best prices on animal food. They also have great toys, bird seed, boots, and clothes, so we used to turn it into a bi-monthly family outing. We are easily entertained!

This trip was to procure food for our feathered friends. Dried meal worms (yummy!), a corn-and-peanut combo that actually sounded tasty at that point in our day, and a suet feeder to hopefully distract that cardinals that like to fling themselves at the windows every winter!

By the time we headed home, I think we were all hungry enough to eat those meal worms! My youngest kiddo had reached her limit and pitched her hunger fit in the store. Yay me. She chilled out once she realized we really were headed home to a bath and food.

Then I took a walk. By myself. Walked away the last of the tension and realized that, even though it’s not a big deal to most people, I felt like I’d tackled a major obstacle and survived.

What is your most recent accomplishment?

 

What is Your Best Memory of Last Year?

My best memory of 2015 is when I finally succeeded in finding a spectacular gift for the love of my life.

I am married to a man whose love language is gifts. He loves planning and hunting for gifts. Lives for the anticipation of giving a gift. Loves giving of his time to procure or create the most unexpected gift he can think of. Birthdays and Christmas are license for him to unload on the people he loves with reckless abandon.

For the past three years he has surprised me on my return from summer vacation with a unique kitchen gadget. Three summers ago gorgeous Le Creuset pots were waiting on my cooktop.

Two summers ago, a touch faucet magically replace my worn-out kitchen faucet (let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to own a touch faucet, do not pass it up. Greatest kitchen improvement ever!).

And this past summer? My kitchen got a color makeover in the form of LED light strips above and below my upper cabinets. I no longer have to debate wall color; a simple coat of white paint creates a blank canvas to project any color I happen to be in the mood for. If I’m feeling really adventurous, I can set them to fade from color to color or strobe for an in-home rave (not that we do that)!

As dominant as my husband’s gift-giving skills are, mine are equivalently inferior.

I’m good at lots of things. Choosing gifts is not always one of them.

Gift shopping turns into a stressful debate as I second-guess everything. Is it going to stand out? Will they love it? Will they use it? Or will they wonder what I was thinking in buying it? By the time I’ve found just the right gift, I have a serious case of decision fatigue.

Shopping for my husband is no different. He is particular about things and has a streamlined list of interests: technology, soccer, and movies. I’m about as far from a pro as anyone could ever be at all three of those things. I don’t even choose my own tech gadets. I just tell my hubby what I need to be able to do, and I let him do the research and tell me what he’s getting for me. Soccer (and all other team sports) still feel like a foreign country to me. And when it comes to movies, the only two genres worthy of any attention are costume/history dramas and romantic comedies. My hubby disagrees.

I’ve been a student of him for fourteen years and still get sweaty palms at the thought of finding the perfect gift for him.

You see, he means the world to me and deserves the best gift ever. Compared to the extraordinary things he surprises me with, my little offerings feel very pathetic. More often than not, gifts are comprised of things he sent me an Amazon link for because I couldn’t think of something unexpected for him.

But 2015 was my year.

He flew to Spain on business at the beginning of the year, and I was the one to pick him up after his long flight home. He was too exhausted even to drive home and one of his comments was that the constant background noise of the airplane made flights overwhelming. Somehow that comment planted a seed in my brain.

When I started teaching sewing lessons a month later, I started a special cash envelope. When a second international trip appeared on his work calendar close to Father’s Day, I was ready. But my low self-esteem in the gifting department kicked into gear again, and I started second-guessing. So I asked him.

“I’ve been saving to either buy something special for you or buy furniture.” And I was even so boring as to tell him what I had in mind for him! Like I said, gifting is not my forte.

“No, save it to get furniture.”

That is always his first instinct; take care of everyone else first. But his answer sealed the deal. I would NOT be buying furniture no matter how badly we need something to organize the disastrous shoe/coat room!

I remember looking at him and saying, “Really? Are you SURE you wouldn’t rather have this?”

He was gracious enough to smile and give me an honest answer, “Well, I’m not going to lie; I would LOVE that, but I don’t need it.”

Done!

The kids and I went on a shopping expedition the very next day and came home with the most expensive headphones I’d ever laid eyes (much less hands) on just in time to send him off to the airport. Noise-canceling headphones. I had no idea such a thing existed! When he had commented on being exhausted, he’d also mentioned a few other passengers who wore their noise-canceling headphones to sleep. That was the tiny seed that sprouted almost immediately.

He texted me as soon as he landed on the other side of the world, “Headphones were awesome!”

For the first time in his life he’d arrived at a destination feeling more or less relaxed despite sitting in cramped quarters for half a day.

He’s endured multiple flights since then and each time he debarks the plane singing the praises of his headphones.

I think I literally smile every time I hear him brag on his headphones. Not in a prideful I-was-so-smart-to-get-those kind of way, but in a very satisfied, contented way because I was finally able to get the man I love a gift that truly makes his life more luxurious.

That is my best memory of 2015.

Do you have a memory from 2015 that stands out above the others?

 

 

What Are You Most Grateful For?

Of course this question has to come on a day when I’m feeling snippy and most definitely not grateful…

Our satellite service has been wonky lately and has stopped giving me HGTV in high-def. The Cooking Channel has suffered the same fate. As if watching both of those channels in zero-definition on a half-size window on a big screen isn’t bad enough, our DVR is seemingly incapable of recording any shows on those channels either.

What this means is that for the past several months (I’ve lost count since I’m too busy to watch TV anyway), none of my cooking or real estate shows have been recorded. I don’t have time to watch them live during the day, so it was always nice to be able to sit down when I had some random free time and have a collection of sizzling foods and exotic retreats to indulge in.

Without those visual inspirations, I’ve turned to Pinterest for comfort. Who needs satellite TV when you have the world of Pinterest at your fingertips?

Well, I do.

At least once a year. On January 1.

You see, that is the day every year when HGTV reveals their newest Dream Home. I haven’t missed it in a decade. That is MY day to dream. I set the recording timer myself yesterday so I wouldn’t miss it while the kids and hubby watched their programs. I went to bed last night in anticipation of waking up this morning and reveling, once again, in the dream of what if.

But it was not to be. Once again, our satellite had betrayed me. I could forgive the apparent disregard for Giada’s Everyday Italian and Househunters International. After all, I have Pinterest.

I cannot forgive being stood up for my annual date with HGTV’s Dream Home.

My day went downhill from there.

Playroom disasters with children who have too much stuff and cling to it like the world will end if they let it go.

Frustration at myself for not knowing how to teach them to disconnect from cheap toys that don’t bring joy to their lives.

Lack of storage space to organize the hats and gloves and soccer gear that are strewn around the house.

Chilly temperatures creeping in at the seams of the house while the sun hides behind thick clouds. I am Kryptonian. I need the sun.

Hair that is driving me crazy because it always looking messy and makes me feel anything but pretty.

FIRST. WORLD. PROBLEMS.

As I write this, I am disconnecting myself from “cheap toys.” Why do I cling to such tiny annoyances? Things that, in the grand scope of things, are INSIGNIFICANT. Seriously insignificant. They should be at the bottom– no, in the NEGATIVE on any priorities list. I should not be bothered by these things. There are billions of the people in the world who would gladly step into my shoes and live with my petty peeves.

So why do these things bother me to the point of affecting my whole day?

Because this is my life. I care deeply about my life. Therefore, I want my life to be perfect because it’s me.

I see beauty and potential in everything. I see everything that falls short of being perfect, and I want to fix it. I can’t simply close my eyes or shut a door and ignore it. Some people can do that. I’ve never been blessed with that kind of oblivion.

Somehow, I have to learn to let go. Focus on what I can perfect and let God take care of the rest. Put things into perspective, beautify what I can, and let go of the things I can’t. But most importantly, I must not let those things rule my day. They are unimportant when I have children who need a hug or want to tell me about their latest discovery and show me what they made. Those are the things that are important at the end of the day.

Today I am grateful for first-world problems.

What are you most grateful for?