connect · five things · quotes

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

I have to confess, I feel like I’m limping toward the weekend this week. I’m so tired. I think it’s a combination of the heat (we’ve been in the 90s already!) and a full calendar of activities. I’m REALLY looking forward to a mostly unscheduled weekend. Here are a few things on my mind this week.

1. Christmas cards. Yep. It’s true. I finally took down my Christmas cards this week. I posted on Facebook that the moment I did it, the kids revolted and thought it was way too soon. What?! Luckily, friends chimed in that they still had theirs up or had just taken them down this week, so I felt better. I like to put them on a binder ring so I can look through them over and over again. What about you – do you keep them up all year (something I seriously considered) or do you have a creative way of using them after the holidays have passed?

2. Museum of Failure. A few weeks ago, when my father-in-law was here, he told us the story of how Kodak missed the boat on digital photography. Just a few days later, I came across the Museum of Failure, which included Kodak as well as other companies and ideas that just didn’t work. So fascinating. (via Jocelyn K. Glei)

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3. A Very Easy Dinner Party. I loved this. Because what’s most important is the connecting, not the dinner.

4. Do More Things That Make You Forget To Check Your Phone. Less scrolling, more connecting.

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5. This quote.

What are you up to this weekend? I say we are “mostly unscheduled”, but we have a couple of baseball games and some fun outings with friends, and I’m “scheduling” some creative time, too. Our temperatures will be dipping back down, for which I am super thankful. Hope your weekend is full of friendship, learning opportunities, and connecting with others in ways that make life richer. Thanks for reading!

connect

The Orange Tree

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This is our orange tree. Some years, it has tons of fruit. Some years it has almost none. This is a good year. And this weekend, Husband is going to give our orange tree a little haircut, so we need to get some of the fruit off of it beforehand. That was one of my goals for this Spring Break week.

CONNECT is my word of the year.

I haven’t been very good at it so far in 2017.

I’m an extrovert (an ENFP, apparently the most introverted of extroverts, but still). I love being around people. It gives me life. But sometimes, especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten worse at connecting. I hem and haw before extending an invitation, I wait for everything to be just right, I think my house has to be perfect and orderly and finished. I think my table should be bigger. I think my house should be tidier. I think I should be a better baker. I second guess EVERYTHING.

But yesterday was different.

fresh squeezed orange juiceBB was heading to a play date, so I invited a friend and her daughter over to pick oranges and make mimosas. (Spoiler: we didn’t pick oranges.) Our girls ran off the moment they arrived, and we didn’t see them all morning. I decided to make scones about 5 minutes before they arrived, so I answered the door with dough all over my hands. I juiced oranges while my friend sat at the counter and we chatted. We snacked and sipped mimosas and talked about church and school and parenting and marriage and family. It was so relaxing.

After our friends left, we went to pick up BB and his friend to continue the playdate at our house. Even after hours of playing, they ran to the back yard and started a project that held their interest the whole afternoon. They included BG in their experiments, and it was one of those playdates that is just so easy.

I went out front to pick some oranges. I took a photo of our tree and thought, What if I put this on Facebook and ask people to pop in? Would they think it’s weird? Would anyone actually come? Should I just hit delete?

I did it anyway. And guess what – people came! A friend and her two boys came over. They picked a few oranges, then BG asked the youngest boy to come play with her, BB asked the older boy to join the science experiments in the back yard, and the mom and I stood in the front yard and had time to talk about preschool and scouts and travel. It was so nice.

Then I got a call from a friend that she was getting off work early and would love to come by for oranges. She brought cupcakes for my kids, and we sat on my stoop and chatted about life and kids and family. (We didn’t pick oranges.) BG gave her a tour of her room, showed her all 25 stuffies on her bed, gave her details of all of her Barbies’ personalities, and interviewed her with her toy camcorder. It was so fun.

In the meantime, another friend drove up to pick oranges. BB did the picking while we sat in the grass and chatted about baseball and work and spring break. It was so peaceful.

It was an awesome day. A relaxing, easy, nice, fun, peaceful day.

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I think this is how life is supposed to be. We were created for community. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and endless amounts of orange juice. Community can get messy and hard and real. But being in community is how we grow best.

I often think of what our modern life would look like to someone a hundred years ago. Where we live in close proximity to our neighbors but we don’t even know them by name. Where we do life side-by-side with people without making any connection. Where we are surrounded by more people than ever before and yet we isolate by keeping to ourselves, staying in our own homes, staring at our individual screens. It can be so life-sucking.

Connecting is different. It is life-giving. It is bucket-filling. It is the bread and butter but it’s also the icing on the cupcake. It is what sustains life, and it’s what makes life so sweet.

I am thankful for my community. I am thankful for people who love me and love my kids and say “Yes!” to popping by on a Wednesday afternoon to laugh and talk and pluck oranges from a tree. I am thankful for a beautiful spring day and for good conversation in it. And I am thankful that connection is a choice that we can make.

“Do you want to play with me?”

“Do you want to do a science experiment?”

“Do you want to pick some oranges?”

connect · one little word

One Little Word 2017

Hello! Happy New Year!

Yes, we’re almost 3 weeks in. I’ve had a slow start to 2017. It’s been an interesting season. We had a nice, quiet Christmas and then a long winter break following. We had a good mix of lazy days in PJs until noon, working on little projects here and there, and taking a little trip to the coast for a couple of days.

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But, I’ve been in a funk.

January used to do this to me every year. I’d go into what my friends called “the cave” where I just stayed home, hunkered down, and survived the season. I spent evening on the couch, watching You’ve Got Mail and Bridget Jones’s Diary, letting phone calls go to the machine (yes, that many years ago), and eating lots of chocolate.

But for the last several years, I’ve become a winter convert. I LOVE this season. I love clearing away the Christmas decorations and starting with a clean slate. I love reflecting on the past year and making plans for the new one. I even love the rain and fog and cold that sometimes come in January. I keep the twinkle lights up, I burn my candles, and I relish that magic starting-over feeling.

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But, this year has felt a little less magical.

I can’t exactly put my finger on the cause – just a bunch of different things that have been bothering me. I haven’t been feeling so great, parenting is kicking my tail, and when I looked back at my plans for 2016, I felt like I had accomplished exactly zero of my goals. I began to lose hope about a lot of things.

Husband and I had been talking about our One Little Word for a few weeks. He decided in early December that REINVENT would be his. It sounded good – I could see a lot of ways that this would help me get some things back on track – but it just never settled well. I tried different synonymous words that might be a better fit – RECREATE, REMAKE, RECLAIM, REFORM, RECONSTRUCT, RECOVER.

Nope. Just not right.

I read an article about doing an Annual Review of your life (like you would for your job), noting things that went well the previous year and things that didn’t. The author suggested writing some questions – some What Ifs – to frame what you would like the new year to look like.

My questions looked a little like this:

-What if I set deliberate times to play with each child every day?

-What if I spent 5 minutes alone meditating every morning?

-What if I finally found a daily Bible study to do?

-What if I went back to Pilates?

-What if I tried to connect with everyone I sent a Christmas card to this year? Not just a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, but if in some way, I really connected with them – a phone call, a letter, meeting for coffee, dinner – something more than just a Christmas card? (This idea came as I was addressing them back in December, and I just can’t shake it. I might fail miserably, but an interesting What If.)

-What if I connect the dots of my experiences and my interests to figure out what’s next in my life?

-What if Husband and I had a getaway every year? (Does NOT have to be big like London! Small and simple is good, too.)

And then my word was clear: CONNECT.

Connect with my children, with myself, with God, with my body, with my friends and family, and my husband. How much different would I feel at the end of the year if I did all of these things?

And then, as tends to happen, the word CONNECT started showing up: in this book that’s been on my nightstand for months that I just picked up, in this book that I read most mornings when I sip my coffee, in this study that arrived a few weeks earlier than expected and at EXACTLY the right time I needed it. And that word just keeps showing up – magazine articles, podcasts, songs on the radio.

And it turns out, the way for me to get out of my January funk was not to go into “the cave” alone but to CONNECT with other people. Just keeping this word in mind has encouraged me to say “Yes!” when I feel like saying “No.” And by doing so, little bits of light break through the darkness, and I regain hope.

So 2017? I’m ready now. Let’s do this.