Not Gonna Settle

So I’ve discovered recently that whether I’m scouting out my latest decor project, or considering a topic for a blog post, success is equal parts timing and inspiration. A person can have all the time and space in the world, but if there’s no inspiration, there’s nothing to fill that time and space with. On the other hand, if there’s gobs of inspiration, but no time to carry out those brilliant ideas, you still end up with a whole bunch of nada.

Let’s talk project first. Once we took our Christmas tree down this past season, we had an open spot in our living room. Usually, we would put a bench there, and call it good. This year, however, I couldn’t bring myself to put the bench back. I knew we could do better. So I waited for inspiration, and in the meantime, we lived with a big bare space in the room….for several months. Sure, I could have filled the space with something, but I didn’t want to settle. Enter this beauty….

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And, voila, a little inspiration started to simmer. Then with some carpentry help from my dad, I created the perfect accent table for that space in our living room. Every time I walk by it, it makes me smile. I’m so glad I was patient and waited for the right fit. That’s not to say there wasn’t a bunch of hunting going on. I searched high and low, until I found the right fit. So there you go! A case for not settling when it comes to design and decor in your home.

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Secondly, let’s chat about this sweet little baby of a blog. I don’t want to settle here either. I’ve been missing timing, or inspiration, or both over the course of the last several months, and the very. last. thing. I want to do is post something just to post it. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about what I had for breakfast because I can’t think of anything else to write about. Just in case you’re the curious sort….this morning it was a power sandwich of egg white, spinach, and avocado. Most mornings it’s a fudge graham zone bar. Sorry, I’m done.

So, as I seek out direction here, just know I’m not gonna settle, I’m hunting for the right inspiration, right timing, and right fit. In the meantime, if you have ideas for me, things you’re interested in reading about, or have a project of your very own you’d like me to feature here on In Hindsight, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending an email to inhindsight78@gmail.com.

Looking ahead,

A

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The Adventure of Advent

Ahh….Advent. In the midst of each to-do list, and peeking out from underneath the wrapping paper, ribbon, and recipes, there is a beautiful, simmering peace to this season.

An integral part of being intentional for me, is being present. The practice of presence is what I’m doing differently this season. Yes, there have been lists to cross off, and yes, there have been seemingly unending holiday details to attend to. But, through it all, I’m making a choice to savor it rather than just get through it.

You see, in my former way of thinking, I would assume that once I had crossed this off my list, or once that was over, then I could relax and enjoy the season.

That, dear friends, is exhausting.

Life is too short, and this precious advent season is too. If we’re not careful, we can let all the holiday distractions keep us from truly being awed by our Savior and His birth.

I think that’s where I am today. I am in awe. Awestruck. Awesome-struck. I want to soak in every moment I can.

Every moment won’t be calm (hello, offspring, I’m talking to you), but our time can be filled with joy and anticipation. We’re counting down, crossing off the days, reading scripture, telling snowman jokes, snitching an extra cookie, battling rabbits for domain over our outdoor twinkling lights*, and just being a family.

Let the love of this season fill you with awe. Open the greatest gift ever. Reopen it, if it’s gotten lost somewhere under the wrapping paper. It will be the best gift you’ve ever accepted.

What fills you with wonder and awe this time of year?

Looking ahead,

A

* The rabbits won. Apparently the Christmas lights lining our driveway are delicious! The rabbits have gnawed through most the strands. We are waving the white flag. Enjoy your victory, little furballs. We’ll train during the off-season, so be ready next year. Tell your fluffy-tailed friends too.

Fall: In Pictures

It been a while. Have I missed you? Yes! I think of you often, friend. However, in the busyness of the past several weeks, it’s been a challenge to create a single, coherant thought. So that, in turn, makes it difficult to write in complete sentences. Complete sentences seem to be important when writing. So…no coherant thoughts equals incomplete sentences equals no writing. Hmm…I think I’ve said too much. I’m rethinking whether my brain was ready now.

Anyway, BUSY FALL. Let’s just leave it at that. Until my brain catches up, here’s a snapshot of our fall in pictures.

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These are homemade fabric pumpkins. Wrap some fabric around a roll of toilet paper. Jab something stemish in the top. Done.

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View from the back of a tractor at the pumpkin patch. This just makes me happy.

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The kids and I had a great time repurposing these hedge apples that are found on the ground EVERYWHERE this time of year. This is about as spooky as my Halloween decorations get. Eeeek…owl cupcakes. Scary.

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And…just so it doesn’t appear that everything is picture perfect around here, this is what my house looked like one gorgeous day this fall. If you’re saying, “it looks like there’s a giant hole in your house!”. Well then, observant reader, you would be right. We replaced every window in our house. If that sounds like a big deal, it is. If that sounds like it would take a while, it did. Doesn’t it look a bit like a dollhouse? Pretty and intact on the inside. Totally open on the front. Suffice it to say, my doll daugther freaked out when she saw her room like this!

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Hope your fall has been full of blessings, and that you’ve been able to pause in the midst of the busy and crazy and to-do lists and obligations. Pause and enjoy the potato heads in your life. I know I’m trying to…they won’t be small fries forever. I couldn’t help it. Corny puns are my jam.

What does fall look like from where you’re sitting?

Looking ahead,

A

Recovering Perfectionist

Perfection. What a loaded word.

It has taken me many years to realize that the pursuit of perfection is not only pointless, but is also wrought with disappointment and the perception of failure.

I could blame my first-born tendencies, or type-A personality. But, at the end of the day, it’s about pride and control. Weeds that God continues to gently pluck out of my life. So, sometimes when those tendencies rise up, I feel like I have to explain that I am a recovering perfectionist.

Recovering because I still have to take a deep breath and remind myself that perfect is not an earthly thing. I have made a conscience effort to no longer make it my standard. I would never, ever expect perfection from my husband, or kids, or any other person in my life, so why is it that I can be so hard on myself?

Case in point…I am making poodle skirts for my daughters. They’ll be fun costumes for Halloween, and then used for dress-up after that. I’m not a seamstress, but am self-taught in the ways of straight seams for curtains, pillow covers, and the like. I know just enough to be dangerous.

Pillows? Check. Bedskirt? Check. Staight seams? This I can do.
Pillows? Check. Bedskirt? Check. Staight seams? This I can do.
Even the neck roll pillow...new skill.
Even the neck roll pillow…new skill.

My $15 garage sale Bernina sewing machine and I have been down some roads together. We have a love-hate relationship. We’ve fought over broken needles. We’ve cried over ripped seams. But, dare I say it…I love the challenge and the creative outlet.

So I was excited to branch out and try an item of clothing.

I researched a few tutorials and decided to pick and choose from a few, to make it my own. I had a vision of perfect skirts that would look just like the perfect ones online. Well, with anything that you branch out to do, success is not guaranteed. I was sewing an elastic waist band for heaven’s sake. That fact alone practically demands trouble.

In the end, it actually went pretty smoothly. No broken needles. No ripped seams. No crying. However, the elastic puckered a bit, and isn’t perfectly smooth. After I finished the first waist band, and saw the puckering, I literally had to get up and walk away. It seems silly, but it really bothered me.

Squint your eyes, please.
Squint your eyes, please.

After a few deep breaths, I was okay again and regained some perspective. Remember, I’m recovering after all.

However, of infinitely more importance? My daughters love these skirts, puckered elastic and all! I made them extra twirly because that’s the entire purpose of a skirt when you’re a girl between the ages of three and eight, am I right?

Still shot.
Still shot.
Not-so-still shot. A girls gotta twirl!
Not-so-still shot. A girls gotta twirl!

The puckered elastic is still there, but I’m okay with it. I made these for my girls because I love them, and their reactions tell me these poodle skirts are just right, not perfect, but just right. If you squint your eyes just so, that puckering is virtually invisible anyway.

Over the years, I’ve worked to reframe the expectations I have of myself. Instead of perfection, I strive for excellence. I still set the bar high, but do my very best to embrace the outcome of every endeavor with all it’s imperfections.

Imperfections create character, both in antique furniture and in people. I’m learning to fully appreciate all my dings, scratches, and inconsistencies. And that’s the irony. Don’t we all look at our perceived imperfections through a magnifying glass while glancing over others challenges through forgiving, squinting eyes?

Flaws and imperfections are what make us human and relatable. For today, I’m embracing puckered elastic on twirly skirts…tomorrow it will surely be something else.

What do you need to embrace today? Extend yourself some grace today.

Looking ahead,

A

Unlimited Funds

What’s that, you ask? It’s that pretend scenario we all daydream about from time to time, where money is no object. So we ask ourselves what we would do if we had these elusive “unlimited funds”. Or maybe more importantly, what we would no longer do.

So just for fun, let’s pretend that money is of no concern. What would you happily pay allow someone else to do for you? Would it be cleaning your house? Shopping for your groceries? Whipping you into shape?

Instead of to-do lists, let’s make a not-gonna-do list today!

Here’s my list of chores I’d happily let someone else do for me…

  • pick out my clothes (I believe I’ve explained this in my “Capsulize It” post, if I were fancy, I’d provide a link here, but baby steps, people.) 
  • put on my makeup (Because, why not? The smoky eye is not in my skill set.)
  • paint my nails (The DIY french mani-pedi is a myth.)
  • make my meals (and grocery shop while they’re at it…)
  • wash, fold, and put away laundry (The “put away” step gets me every time.)
  • get, and keep, me in my best physical shape (I don’t want to have to think about this one, I just need Sven or Olga to give it to me straight, and stand there until I’ve done that last rep.)

Then here’s the list of things I’d probably have to hold onto, no matter how hard I tried to let go…

  • cleaning my house (I just know, know, know that I would feel compelled to clean before they came over to clean anyway, so I’ll save my moolah and give it to Olga after she motivates me to my first ever six-pack abs.)
  • decorating my house (I enjoy this too much to let someone else have all the fun.)
  • my hair (Curly-headed girls unite. We don’t really “do” our hair, and the more we “do”, the worse it gets. So we’ll just let it be.)

Basically, if it relates to my house, I’ll keep it. If it is remotely related to my personal care, I’ll let someone else do it or just tell me what to do. With three kids, there will still be plenty to care for, am I right?

It’s fun to think about, isn’t it? Now I really should snap back to reality. There’s laundry to be done, and meals to be made, and if I’m lucky, I’ll squeeze in a walk.

You, on the other hand, keep daydreaming just a few minutes longer.

What would you “not do” with unlimited funds? Leave a comment so we can all pretend together.

 

Looking ahead,

A

When to Get Involved

When my kiddos are bickering (this rarely happens, we are such a sweet family…please read that in my sarcasm font), I have cultivated one question. “Do I need to get involved?”. Are they able to figure this out on their own through compromise and effective listening? Or, do I need to get involved?

When their dad or I get involved, we are probably not going to be too concerned with who started what. However, they can be sure we are definitely going to dole out consequences that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. Garage clean-out day, anyone??

When they figure it all out on their own, it’s a win-win for us. They get to try out those all-important interpersonal communication skills like listening, negotiating, and compromising. And we don’t have to feel like whistle-weilding referees in our own home.

It doesn’t always work out exactly like that, but it’s a step in the right direction toward raising little humans…who will someday become big humans…who might actually be great people…who are pleasant to be around. (That’s a soapbox of mine, and another post topic someday…I’m keeping a running list.)

Who wouldn't want to play UNO with these three? We all called out "UNO!" in the same round, so of course, there was bragging, and licking cards, and sticking them to foreheads. You know, normal stuff.
Who wouldn’t want to play UNO with these three? We all called out “UNO!” in the same round, so of course, there was bragging, and licking cards, and sticking them to foreheads. You know, normal stuff.
It's unclear where they inherited this behavior.
It’s unclear where they inherited this behavior.

Okay, back to getting involved. Between my kiddos, and in the safety of our home, where the stakes aren’t too high, we’ve got it down. Basically. But, what about when the dilemma of getting involved or standing down, is at school, or church, or involves another adult? In the words of my middle daughter, “oooh, things just got reeeeeal”.

That’s where we are. We’ve found ourselves in a situation, where we can no longer stand down. We have decided to get involved. When it involves one of her bear cubs, this mama bear will unapologetically go down that road.

Sure it might be easier to let it go. Doing nothing is almost always less complicated than doing something. Except when it comes to the people you love and care for. We’d undertake any hardship for them, wouldn’t we?

I want my children to learn how to advocate for themselves, and become self-sufficient, confident adults. To be certain, adulthood is still a long way off. Until then, I’ll prayerfully approach each situation, and ask, “Do I need to get involved?”.

And when that answer is a resounding “yes”, my prayer is that I can effectively communicate my concerns, reach a place of understanding, and let my child know that they are 100% supported along the way. I want to come to the table with those all-important interpersonal communication skills I learned when working it out in my youth.

Then, I’d like to reach a resolution, and move on, with everyone better for it.

Besides, life is short, and I’d rather be playing UNO…

 

How do you know when to get involved and when to let it go? Cue the music, and lyrics about the plight of a beautiful princess with icy powers….you know you were thinking it, too.

 

Looking ahead,

A

Capsulize It

Is that a thing? Not sure. Let’s make it one, okay? See explanation below.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the life-changing, mind-blowing concept that is the “capsule wardrobe”. Haven’t heard of it? Google it, and then prepare to spend an unmentionable number of hours researching and trying to work up the courage to try it for yourself.

Basically, it’s a simple idea of paring down your wardrobe into 4 seasonal capsules, with each capsule containing a set number of pieces, usually 30-40. These pieces, in turn, all coordinate and keep you looking put together and polished because, with so few pieces, you can’t even consider keeping that so-so skirt when you know you’ll never wear it.

In a nutshell, when you have a capsule wardrobe, you love everything in your closet, and it all loves you right back. You will always look great, because you don’t have anything left in your closet that just looks okay. I feel like I’m becoming an evangelist for the capsule wardrobe here, and if you’ve had a conversation with me in the past two weeks, I know you’ve endured listened with rapt attention to my sermon.

This sounds easy. It is not. I sent an SOS text to my capsule wardrobe partner-in-crime (please do this with a friend), Emily, last week that went something like this…

“Help. I am lost in my closet and can’t find my way out. Does this look good on me? Do I love it? I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANY MORE!”. To which she replied, “I don’t have anything left in my closet. Nothing to wear. I blame you.”. Oh, she should, she really should.

The donation guy at Goodwill and I are now on a first name basis. I hear rumors that I may get a plaque with my name on it for “most donations in a given week”. Bonus, if I have giver’s remorse (not sure if that’s a thing, either), I can just drive back to Goodwill and buy my old clothes.

At the end of the day, truthfully, this is so much less about fashion for me. It’s all about simplifying, streamlining, and reserving my time and energy for the many more significant parts of my life. Of course I want to look fabulous and put together, but I don’t want it to be a daily time zap. I want to capsulize it, so that I can give my time, mental energy, affections, and attention to other goals and priorities.

Am I there? Not quite. It’s a process. However, simply by becoming more intentional, I feel like I’m taking a giant step in the right direction.

A capsule is created to hold things, it’s a finite space, and it provides parameters and boundaries. If something doesn’t fit inside the capsule, it just doesn’t fit. It has to be given up, or moved somewhere else where it can fit and make more sense.

What is it in your life that could use a little simplifying or streamlining? Capsulize it. What, or who (gasp!) serves as a daily time zap for your precious mental energy? Capsulize it. What demands a few boundaries or parameters to keep in check? Capsulize it, friend.

 

Looking ahead,

A

 

P. S. I’ve updated a few previous posts with pictures, so make sure to scroll back through to see them!