Flowers and Weeds

The last two months have been tough. We have had colds, allergies, sinus infections, roseola (it’s a kid thing), 2nd round of colds, and a minor stomach bug that recently rippled through each family member over the course of a week. Besides this taking a toll physically, I have to admit my mental health has not been so great. We’ve definitely had shining moments within those two months…but inevitably, after a day or two of thinking we were past the worst, something else would hit. I’ve been down.

I’m not writing this to get sympathy though. What I’m really here to do is tell you how thankful I am for family and friends. My in-laws have watched Charlie and brought homemade soup to our door. My friends have sent encouraging texts and said prayers. And this week…I found a beautiful bouquet of flowers in my mailbox from my neighbor, and my friend watched Charlie ALL day Wednesday so I could rest and recover. Getting a sick day as a mom is a serious treat. And is there anything better than finding your mailbox bursting open with flowers?

I wanted to clean off my table and stage a pretty picture. But with the state of our lives right now this is just way more accurate (yes that’s a humidifier…which has been sitting there for days). I’m so thankful for beauty among the chaos. It’s been a season of humbling myself (reluctantly) and learning to let other people love and serve me when I most need it.

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2018

This year I saw the world, earned my master’s degree, and completely paid off all of my debt…student loans included.

Just kidding. I did none of those things. But as I was feeling down about not having the most social media friendly 2018 I realized I kind of DID accomplish all of those things. Hear me out.

1.  Saw the world

We didn’t travel much at all. Going to one income after Charlie was born kind of halted a lot of things that require money – and having a baby made everything 100 times harder anyway. But in some ways I did see the best things there are to see. I saw my son take his very first steps. I saw him turn 1 while surrounded by family and friends who love him. I heard him say Mom for the first time. And I saw another year of marriage where we tried each other’s patience, sacrificed, forgave, and ultimately grew so much closer.

2. Earned a Master’s Degree

I didn’t formally get any education (or go further in debt!), but I read SO many books and listened to even more podcasts. I learned so much from other people’s stories and perspectives. From their trials and their triumphs. I learned A LOT about sacrifice while raising a 1 yr old. I learned about patience. I learned lessons about friendship and marriage and motherhood. I genuinely feel like my son has forced me to slow down a bit, be present more often, and be more patient. And those are kind of the best lessons to learn.

3. Paid off all my debt

This would have been really nice…unfortunately we went backwards slightly on this one. After I quit working we literally lost just over half of our income, making every month a challenge and a stretch. At the beginning (even while pregnant) I worried so much about how we would make it. After Charlie was born I stressed about every dollar being spent and was anxious about our dwindling savings account. I still have those moments…but through a lot of prayer and trust I’ve let go of a lot of financial stress. I genuinely trust that God will provide and take care of us. Somehow we’ve survived this long (with help from others, for sure!)…and He will continue to provide for us. I’ve learned to go without some of the simple pleasures we use to not even think about, but I’ve come to terms with it – I feel good about it – and genuinely see what an abundant life we have.

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So 2018 was a good year. I’m in the season of motherhood where it’s physically all consuming. I don’t have a lot of time for myself during the day, and we don’t have a lot of money to ease the demand. But I’ve learned more this year than any other of my adult life, and I feel a happiness and pride in that. I’ve grown closer to God and feel that reward deep in my bones. A peace that transcends all understanding.

I can only hope that 2019 is as successful, rewarding, and full of love. Happy New Year’s Eve!

Social Media Habits

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Lately I’ve been trying to focus on and create abundance in my life. You can read my recent post about it here. And even though I’ve been thinking about abundance, trying to practice gratitude, reminding myself of what’s important in life, and praying about it…I have still been struggling to really internalize and cultivate it in my life. My heart knows I should feel fulfilled and happy (really, I have SO much), and yet my head has been telling me otherwise. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, and have even started to judge anyone who has things that I would like to have…things I think I need. Insert eye roll.

I’ve been trying to examine this. What’s the root cause of this issue? I mean, yeah…it sucks to not have money to take vacations. It sucks to feel like we don’t have money in the budget to fix our broken sink. It sucks to feel like new clothes and a good haircut are luxuries I can’t afford. But…those are all kind of first world problems. Not kind of, they definitely are. We have running water, food on the table, and ENOUGH of everything we need…clothes, toys, electronics. So why have I been feeling like I’m entitled to more? And I think that’s where social media comes in.

Instagram is my drug of choice. Some prefer Facebook or Snapchat…but they’re all the same. So many of us spend a lot of our free time scrolling and consuming the content of other people’s lives, and I think it has consequences far beyond what most of us realize. I’m trying to be really honest here – so let me confess that even though I’m writing this and having these realizations it’s all still a work in progress for me. I unfollowed something like 100 people today, but just before I hopped on to write this I was scrolling the contents of the remaining 70 something people I follow. I’m not perfect. And I’m not advocating for a total ban either. But there are a few things I think we should all consider…

  1. Who do you follow?

I’ve come to realize that I should not be following ANYONE who makes me feel envious or insecure. I mean, duh…but these feelings can creep in slowly and unexpectedly.

The more obvious culprits are accounts/people like celebrities who are living a lifestyle that most of us can not live up to. Or maybe it’s the friend who seems to be perpetually on vacation. Or the people who only post the most flattering pictures of themselves in the most hipster clothes. Or the people who are always out at a restaurant or show, having drinks, and appear to have no responsibility at all. I know for sure these people don’t have young kids, but DO THEY EVEN HAVE JOBS?!

So yeah, it’s not surprising that these things make me feel a little bad…a little lonely…a little sorry for myself…as I’m sitting in the same clothes from yesterday, unshowered, cleaning up the 789th mess that my 1 year old has made that day.

The sneakier accounts are probably more specific to you and your personal struggles. I encourage you to go through the list of people you’re following and really think about how you feel after consuming their content. For example…I’ve always enjoyed interior design. It’s something I’ve loved to read about and follow along with for years. But I’ve recently realized that I need to cut that out for now. It’s not that I don’t still enjoy it, I do…but at this stage in my life (having a small child and living in a one-income household) watching someone do a $50,000 bathroom renovation on Instagram stories day after day is probably not a great idea.

It’s important to note that I don’t think these people are intentionally trying to make me feel bad. They are just living their lives and doing their thing. But if what they’re posting is causing issues for me then it’s pretty simple: unfollow.

2. Why are you posting?

This is the flip side to the first point. Maybe it’s your account that’s making people feel bad, and maybe you secretly (or not so secretly) KNOW that. I suspect many of us are not doing this intentionally but when we really start to think about why we’re posting something…it’s usually related to pride. Here’s an excerpt from the book Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller. She’s talking about physical appearance, but I think it relates to this issue so well:

“Likewise, the way to love women (people) in a culture of impossible standards is to reject those impossible standards by humbling ourselves. We have to choose compassion over comparison, and compassion over competition. Does that mean we should auction off our wardrobes and wear burlap sacks? Definitely not….but it does mean our goal is not to be the cutest girl in the room. It means the purpose of our appearance is not to hide our imperfections. It means being honest about our vanity so that we can scale it back a step or two. It means that when we go to a social event or coffee or dinner (or post online), the last thing our friends need is for us to be competing with them or raising the bar for them to jump even higher.” (words in parenthesis are mine).

I think it’s important to consider this. We can all still enjoy and savor and remember the good moments from our lives without sharing it with everyone who wasn’t there. Some good things are meant to be shared…but maybe some aren’t.

3. Everyone struggles

The most important thing to remember (and we’ve all heard it a million times) is that everyone struggles. Social media is just the highlights. We all know this, but do we REALLY know it? If I’m not consciously thinking about this it becomes very easy to forget. We’re all just humans doing our best, feeling a lot of painful things, and trying to enjoy the time we have. If stepping back and scrolling or interacting online less helps you to remember that..then don’t ignore that. It’s something I’m realizing and actively working on. It does feel like an addiction that needs to be broken (and of course there is a ton of research on social media as addiction). When you know better, do better. So let’s do better.

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Whew. Ok. This was long but I wanted to organize these thoughts and get them out there. I thought maybe other people could benefit, or could use the reminder…so thanks for sticking with me!

Happy to hear your thoughts in the comments, and would love to know if there are other areas in life where you struggle when trying to practice gratitude or lead an abundant life.

-Marci

Positive Portfolio / Abundance

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In my last post (ahem, in March) I talked about starting a “positive portfolio” series, you can read more about what that is here. Today I’m compiling my first portfolio and the subject I’ve chosen is abundance. What does it really mean to live an abundant life? What does it require? What IS abundance? Here goes:

In true elementary-school-report-writing fashion, let’s start with a definition.

Abundance:
“plentifulness of the good things of life; prosperity.”

Notice the definition does not mention money. It says only “the good things in life.” Here are some of mine.

  • Getting Charlie from his crib in the morning. Even when it’s early it’s sweet to open his door and see him standing at the edge of his crib waiting for me.
  • Waking up slow on the weekends. Hanging out in bed as a family and deciding what we’re going to do that day.
  • Books, podcasts, magazines.
  • FRIENDS. Long talks. Drinks. Laughing until my face hurts.
  • Music: listening, playing, watching, discussing.
  • Pouring a cup of coffee after putting Charlie down for his morning nap, and knowing I have (usually) an hour to myself.
  • Writing: journal entries, prayers, blog posts, hand written cards.
  • Art.
  • My Mom and Dad
  • Texting daily with my sisters. Checking in with each other, supporting one another, and sharing the same dark sense of humor.
  • Brent. Marriage. True partnership and companionship. Being so mad you can feel your blood boiling one second and then laughing literally the next. Building something important even when we don’t feel like it (especially when we don’t feel like it). Parenting together. Loving someone, serving someone, being loved despite how terrible I can be sometimes. I could go on. Marriage is muddy, complex, and beautiful.
  • Netflix marathons
  • Seeing/feeling/hearing God in my life. The times when peace descends and goosebumps happen. When things are too coincidental to be coincidences.
  • Stretching, moving, walking.
  • Nature. Seeing the clouds move and change shape, noticing all the shades of green in the trees, watching water move endlessly but never in the same pattern twice, hearing the birds and watching them dance around each other. Even some bugs are pretty amazing if they’re not touching me. But never mosquitos.
  • Rest. Sleep. Unplugging. Slowing down.

This letterpress print by artist Kayla Gale. This simple image represents such a beautiful and abundant time of life for some women. It signifies so many quiet and special moments…and reminds me of how hard I worked to have this experience.

This song. The Beach Boys will always remind me of childhood and my dad. This song specifically reminds me of watching Never Been Kissed a million times with my sisters. And it also reminds me of when Brent and I first started dating. We made mix CDs for each other…(so cliche but also a really good indicator of your compatibility IMHO) and I added this song to the end of the cd as a hidden track. It had the effect I hoped for, and we’ve been married for 5+ years. It’s our song even though he doesn’t race cars or whatever.

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These faces. This is Charlie with his brother, Ashen. Brent’s oldest is 20 years older than Charlie and he is the kindest, sweetest, most resilient kid. I just love both of these boys so much and am so grateful for all the things they have taught me. I think before kids I didn’t really understand what people meant when they said that their kids were their greatest teachers…but now I think I’m starting to get it. It’s because you lose your patience, let them down, and just generally fail at a lot of things, and they love you anyway and it makes you want to be better.

Ok. I don’t want to ramble on, and if you’ve made it this far I appreciate that. I keep thinking of really good things to add to my list and my heart is bursting, but I’ll rein it in.

I decided to focus on abundance because quite honestly it’s a struggle for me. My life is not perfect, and I so often focus on lack. I always seem to have a running list of things I need (and don’t have). Situations I want changed. Ways in which my life is not quite good enough. We all do it. So if you’re feeling down or like you don’t have enough lately…I encourage you to take some time and create your own portfolio of abundance. I think it’s a practice we all know works but rarely actually DO. And it really does help! What’s on your list?

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” -Ann Voskamp

Positive Portfolio Series

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I’ve recently started to feel like the fog of new motherhood has been lifting. Or maybe I’ve just made up my mind to beat it back, clear the air, rise above it…whatever you do to a fog? One small part of this means that I’m trying to intentionally start my days on a positive note…and focus on the good things in my life all throughout the day. This is hard. Really hard. And it takes practice. I am not naturally good at this, and so I thought starting a new blog series might be a good way to work on this skill and create a little focus.

After having Charlie I decided to quit my job and stay home to be with him. Money is very tight, but we’re making it work, and I’m so thankful to be able to be with him all day. However, going from working full time to being home full time with a baby was quite the change. I felt lonely and isolated. I ended up making a new mom friend (heyyy, Tricia!) who has a little girl who is close in age to Charlie. We met through an app called Peanut, hah, which is basically Tinder for moms. If you’re a mom and feel like you need a friend I recommend trying it out! Anyway – Tricia studied Positive Psychology in grad school and I was recently introduced to the idea of a “Positive Portfolio” through her blog. She describes a Positive Portfolio as this:

There is an intervention in positive psychology called a “positive portfolio” In this intervention; you gather items that support an element of well-being you wish to enhance. It can be any element of well-being – meaning, joy, awe, gratitude, relationships, achievement, etc… Once you have gathered these items, you then spend some time reflecting on your positive portfolio bolstering the element of well-being selected.

One way she creates positive portfolios is through music playlists – combining many different songs that all support one element (joy, hope, etc). I love the idea of taking time to create multi-faceted positive portfolios in my life. For example, joy for me is currently encompassed by taking care of Charlie…but also by writing, drawing, playing music, having good conversations with friends, dreaming up new business ideas, prayer, etc. I’m a whole person, and being a mom is only one part of who I am.

The first few years of a child’s life are intense for the caretaker. Babies grow and learn so quickly, but they’re entirely dependent on you for everything. It’s very easy to let everything fall to the background and have your role as “mom” make up 99% of your day. And again, I don’t resent this. In my last post I mentioned that it’s really fine that I’m exhausted right now, and it’s fine that most of my day is dedicated to Charlie. This is the season I’m in and there are so many wonderful things about it, and truly so much joy. But there’s also nap times, and friends and family who are willing to help, and I’m ready to start bringing some pieces of who I am back to the forefront. And I’m ready to spend time creating, writing, and dreaming again.

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Working on positive portfolios seems like a good way to start. I love that I can dedicate an entire “portfolio” to the concept of awe if I want to, and what it means to me. I love that I can spend time trying to cultivate more awe in my life and hopefully pass my wonder, excitement, and curiosity on to my child. It will force me to stop and pay attention – and therefore be in the moment. I definitely need to practice that more, and to practice putting my phone down. I’m hoping that having a project to focus on will help in that regard.

I hope to start this coming week on my first “portfolio” – I’m not sure what I’ll focus on first yet, if you have suggestions let me know. And if you decide to create your own I’d love to hear about it. ❤

Yours,

Marci

 

Hello Again

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote in this space. I’ve wanted to write…and I’ve had ideas of what I want to say…but then any time I’ve tried to put my thoughts into words I seem to stall and give up. I think it has a lot to do with how much has happened in the last year, it’s hard to articulate and there’s no way I could catch you up in one post.

Last July I had my first baby. He’s healthy and happy and 8 months old now. He’s crawling and standing and talking and dancing. He is the greatest joy, and I’m so thankful for him every day. He makes me laugh a lot and brings a lot of happiness to our lives. But I’d be lying (or only telling part of the story) if I pretended that it has been easy. I think motherhood is one of those things you can’t understand until you have lived it…it’s just a whole new level of tired, worn out, depleted, full, joyful, overwhelmed, happy, tired..oh, I already mentioned tired. It’s the highest highs and the lowest lows within a single day. Or hour. It’s been a very interesting 8 months.

Another reason I haven’t been writing is obviously because I don’t have as much time as I used to. And the other half of that is being so. tired. Waking up a few times a night, and not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time (if I’m lucky), really does a number on your brain. I mix up words. I repeat myself. I forget things. I just am not functioning on the same mental plane I used to…and that’s ok. Really. It’s part of this phase, this season.

I feel like it’s pretty easy to find moms who talk about how hard it is. What a challenge it is every day. The ins and outs of the frustrations and sacrifices. It’s easy to find because all those things are true and not hard to talk about. And I’m thankful that people talk about them, because it makes me feel less alone in my struggles. But I’ve also decided that I don’t really want to contribute to that narrative…at least not regularly. I’ll state the facts, and it’s good to see things with a little humor, but it’s also really good to focus on the positive and try to feel grateful for every moment with the new little human I grew. Because there really are so many beautiful, fun, and good things about having kids. Obviously, or people wouldn’t have more than one, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in to say hello and I’m alive. I’d like to post here more regularly…flex some mental muscles that I haven’t used in awhile. And share what’s on my mind during this time of my life. I’ve always used this space as a diary of sorts – and it’s fun to look back at old posts and see where I was, and how far I’ve come. I think doing that throughout this season of life will feel really special in 5 or 10 years.

So I hope this finds you all well. And I hope to be back sooner rather than later. Happy Sunday, friends.

Yours,

Marci

TGIF // 08


Trust: Lately, I’m really trying to trust my body. Trying to remind myself that pregnancy is normal and that billions of women have been pregnant and survived. I love this quote from Ina May Gaskin:

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic….Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

Gratitude: This week I’m feeling grateful for my Mom. Mother’s Day is Sunday, and because she’s in WI and I’m in TX we never get to spend it together – but it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of her. She’s always willing to listen to my problems or complaints, and still babies me a bit by feeling sorry for me – which, come on, everyone needs that sometimes. Also, now that I’m 7 months pregnant I have a whole new appreciation for her (and all moms)…and I’m sure that appreciation and gratitude will only continue to expand over the coming years.

InspirationThis podcast episode. “The best self help is self compassion.”

Faith: I recently came across the work of a man named Richard Rohr. He’s a Catholic Franciscan priest with some really interesting and fresh perspectives on Christianity and religion. Recently, he was interviewed on a great podcast called “On Being.” If you have an hour I highly recommend you listen. He and the podcast host, Krista Tippett, talk about a wide range of topics such as dualistic vs. non-dualistic thinking (specifically in Christianity/religion but also in our general culture), how Jesus was the first non-dualistic religious thinker of the West, how life has changed for the current generation vs. pre-1968, a concept Rohr dubbed “father hunger” and the implications of raising men in today’s society, the wonder and awe of nature and how that ties into our spiritual experience, among many other things.

I was mostly interested in the portion on dualistic vs. non-dualistic thinking because I think dualistic thinking is such a sickness in our culture and current political and religious climate. It was refreshing to hear my own recent thoughts articulated well by someone else, and to know that there are other young people who are interested and exploring this concept of non-dualism (not that Rohr is young, he’s 73, but he talks about a recent retreat he held for millennials). Regardless of how you identify (religious or not, liberal or conservative, etc.) – I think this podcast will speak to you in some way or another. There’s an edited and unedited version – of course I recommend the unedited (and yes, I listened to both – I’ve never claimed to be cool).

That’s it! Hope you all have a great weekend. And Happy Mother’s Day ❤

Things I’m Liking Lately


Image by WoodLucker

Hey guys. How are you? I’m doing well…always tired but really glad that Wednesday is almost over…it is Wednesday right? ANYWAY. I thought I’d put together another little random post of things I’m liking lately.

S-Town. Have y’all heard about this podcast? I started it last Friday and by Tuesday had finished all 7 episodes. I was listening in the car, on my walks, and while working – I couldn’t stop. It starts with an unsolved mystery in a small town, but the series takes a turn and ends up being about something else entirely. It was just a really interesting exploration of a complicated life, and despite all the vulgarities I thought it was good. It’s refreshing and eye opening to get a glimpse of another person’s existence that is so different from your own.

This article. It came to me at a really good time. I would say being pregnant means I have more uncertainties in my life than maybe ever before, and it also requires a lot of letting go of an old way of being and an old life. Not that life stops or anything, but it changes entirely for sure…so the tips in the article were helpful reminders for me.

Currently reading this, this, this, this, and this. It’s no secret that I’m a nerd about self help books…and non-fiction. I’ve read a few works of fiction this year but nothing that really stands out, sadly. Anyway, I don’t know when I became the person who reads 5 books at once – that would have made me crazy 10 years ago – but I enjoy jumping around now.

Enjoying this artist’s feed. And also enjoying following along with this artist’s “plants on fabric” 100 day project.

Alright, that’s it! As always, feel free to leave suggestions of things YOU have been liking lately.

The 100 Day Project

This last week I started something called The 100 Day Project. The 100 Day Project was started by an artist named Elle Luna and is an open invitation to any creative person who wants to commit to doing something (anything) for 100 days. It provides motivation and accountability to make time to create something small every single day and then see how that work adds up over time. Progress > perfection. It’s free, and everyone shares their project on Instagram using the hashtag #the100dayproject. Last year I drew a different circle each day for 100 days (you can see the full set of 100 circles here).

This year I decided to focus on gratitude. The project started on April 4th and ends on July 12th, which almost perfectly coincides with the last 100 days of my pregnancy. I figured it would be a good idea to focus on the positive and remember what I’m grateful for each day over the next 3 months. You can see my first 6 days below – and if you want to follow along you can follow me on Instagram here, or visit my personal hashtag for this project #lookseegratitude.

I usually try to post a little blurb about what I’m grateful for, or what the picture/illustration means, on the Instagram post itself. But I thought it would be fun to post my work here as well – it’s nice to have a record of it.

It’s refreshing to have a creative exercise to focus on, and I love that it forces me to stop and remember what I’m grateful for, and find the good moments in each day. It’s easy for me to be cynical and negative, and that’s not the impression I want to leave on people…

The project usually gets interesting the longer you go because you start to run out of ideas and have to get creative. I’m excited to see how it evolves over the next few months. At the end, I’d like to bind all these pages together and make a book…I’m looking forward to seeing the full 100 days together and have a feeling it will be something I can flip through any time I need a pick me up.

What would you do for 100 days? It’s not too late to join..