“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”. Zechariah 4:10
So much growth happens in the quiet, consistent, and unseen moments of our lives. Small seeds of obedience that when tended well grow into a flourishing life.
This season I’m saying yes to
walks around the block
watching the sunrise
meditating on scripture
And yet, we focus on the big and flashy blooms and how to get them to grow as patiently as possible.
As I type this it’s snowing…yes in April apparently Winter hasn’t left the midwest yet. And while the rest of the world is celebrating the signs of Spring, oh the glorious daffodils and lilacs that are right around the corner.
And as much as my heart longs for the warmth and sunshine of spring, I’m finding ways to delight in this day. To let go of the comparison and make small steps toward the life I want to live.
Favorite March Moments:
Bike tune-up and get ready for SPRING!
Plan my HOME gardens (build a new raised bed for all the dahlias)
SRT Armor of God study
Celebrate Spring & make memories with family and friends (hot cross buns, Easter eggs, A & V birthdays, J&M birthdays…)
In March winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward. Something holds and something pulls inside of us too.
It’s the early days of Spring here in the Midwest, one day we are firing up the grills for a summer-like 60-degree day, and the next we are pulling out the shovels and snowblowers for a Winter storm. It’s a season of anticipation, of tension between the stillness of Winter and the hope of Spring.
It’s in these early days that I begin to shed off my Winter koselig, hibernation mode, and plant good seeds for the year ahead. The itch to refresh daily rituals, clean out the closet, begin new habits, and buy countless houseplants is STRONG! It’s as if a part of me that has been asleep all winter stretches, shakes off the cozy blanket, and is ready to go. That is what a season of deep rest and refreshment will do, make you excited for new life.
And yet, as excited as I am about the delight of daffodils, crocus, robins, of Springtime, it’s also a season of mourning the solitude, silence, and all-around coziness of Winter. That is what I love so much about March in Wisconsin, we get both AND in this season. We get the anticipation and hope of Spring and still a few more quiet, days to cozy up with loved ones and read a good book in front of the fire. And to be honest, it wasn’t always this way, March has always been my least favorite month of the year. The MUD. The FREEZING MUD. The COLD. The SNOW….did I mention the MUDDY SNOW?
It’s the time where I long for a beach cottage to run away too…to escape every dayness of the season. The brown muck, barren trees, icicles, and barren life not quite beginning to emerge and yet holding so much beauty deep within.
I’m still learning to embrace and find joy in this in-between Season. To savor the good days with long walks, my face turned towards the sun soaking up vitamin D and listening to the birds. I’ve learned to heave a sigh of relief when the 2’’ of snow is forecasted over the weekend. Spring and all her growth and newness can wait just a few more days. To put a pot of soup on and pull out the sourdough starter to enjoy cozy days and to harness the urge to clean out the closets on those dreary days. Because my friends, no matter how long Winter is, Spring is sure to follow.
March 2022 Goals
Coffee shop Bucket List
Read: Winning the War in your Mind and Keeping Place
Spring Wardrobe Refresh
Writing Day: Download Spring Flourish Content
Weekly Action Items:
Delight Date (new coffee shop, florist, museum, antiques, painting,…)
2021 was a year of growth, grit, God’s goodness, and heaps of grace. There were long & hard days, and weeks that flew by in a blink. There was a LOT of laughter and tears. And yet, I wouldn’t trade the lessons learned or memories made. It’s through the good, hard days that I’m constantly reminded that life is a great adventure.
At the end of each year, I like to reflect on my favorite memories and put together a photo collage. Usually, this collage makes it’s way to my Christmas card…but this year’s card was a bit more floral themed…no surprise there!
So, before we jump into the new year & new rhythms, I wanted to share the highlights of 2021 including favorite blooms, books, and adventures!!
Any and all Aunt Emmie and Livi Adventures. My favorites included watching her explore the gardens and eat waaay to many tomatoes, baking goodies to deliver to family and friends, and laughing our way through the Pumpkin patch.
Favorite New Habit:
This fall I started going to the Nashotah Dog park with Posy pup. Little did I know that I would discover a new community of dog-lovers and adventure seekers. I’ve learned so much from ways to save $$ on dog supplies to the best harness for “enthusiastic” pups. The bonus is I get a nice walk and Posy is always tuckered out when we get home!
Nothing could beat my mom and I’s trip to Magnolia and Waco, TX in March. We literally went from a canceled trip to rebooking everything in 4 hours. It was an inspiring and so life-giving place to be!
Be still my bloom-loving heart. 2021 was FOR SURE the year of the dahlias. I grew so many dahlia tubers from seed this year, thanks to Floret Farms. I planted their Discovering Dahlia and Bee’s Choice mix last February, and it was a delight to watch the seedlings grow over the season and then finally bloom!
It’s launch day for Cultivate What Matter’s Powersheets. And if you have been around here for any length of time, you know I’m a big fan of their intentional tool Powersheets. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary (and 9 years of me using Powersheets!)
I took a quick look at the good I’ve grown since 2011, 10 lessons I’ve learned from the last 10 years.
In the last 10 years I’ve learned…
1. To dream big, embrace the unknown, and step forward into an unexpected calling.
2. To savor and make time for margin, joy, rest, and adventure.
3. Real,meaningful community take work and are worth every single minute.
4. Life is a great adventure, both near and far. Take a leap and step out of your comfort zone.
5. Hospitality doesn’t need to be Pinterest perfect, you just need to be present and create a space for your people to be.
6. We are always learning, always growing, & always trying new things. It’s okay to be bad at something, keep stepping out in faith and do the messy, hard, and brave work of creating.
7. Embrace the season you are in. God has given you gifts and a heart for what matters, don’t shy away from it but lean into your calling. (1 Peter 2:9 for more inspiration)
8. Delight inGod’s creation, make time to quiet your heart and learn from Him. Good things grow in the garden, our souls are nourished in the garden.
9. There is JOY and deep contentment in embracing this current season. He is listening to your prayers, trust, wait, and take heart for what he has given you right now. Real contentment comes from embracing where you are and having hope for the future.
10. A simple life is good, beautiful, and true. Slow living and an unhurried life is worth fighting for. (also, when in doubt have an impromptu photo shoot with armloads of flowers!)
September started off strong with sunshine, time in the garden, lots of puppy snuggles, and a trip to southern Wisconsin for a wedding. So many good memories that first week of September, and then I got sick…
The rest of the month became a chance to receive grace, rest, and healing. Instead of celebrating the harvest season, adventures with family and friends, and soaking up the last few days of Summer; I rested, napped, and recovered. Being sick has always been my personal “classroom”, a place where I learn about myself and surrender my expectations.
And I always come back to the same lesson; we are more than what we accomplish or do. There is much more to life than hustling so hard it takes sickness to slow you down. It’s a lesson I have been learning too often as of late, but in His grace God is a gentle teacher.
So my friends, if you find yourself in an unexpected classroom of life, don’t give up or be discouraged. The Creator of the Universe is waiting for you with open arms to give you rest. Rest, forced or chosen, doesn’t come easy. Yet when we carve out time to lie down (on the inside as well as the outside) it is a space of grace and goodness, especially in the times of uncertainty. And I think we all could use some grace these days.
This time of year is one of abundance. The “slow” days of Summer suddenly shift to new rhythms and routines of the Fall. Whether you have kiddos, work at a school, work with a school, know kids, or are simply human I bet you are feeling the pressure of this new Season.
When I try to do it all perfectly, I fall short/get frustrated and it all comes tumbling down. Quite simply Fall is a time to refresh rhythms, take a hard look at routines, and be ruthless about chasing what matters (to you!)
In this season, I know that I am unable to do it all perfectly, but I can do the next right thing. Many years ago I heard this poem read by Elisabeth Elliot, as a reminder to do the next thing and trust that God has the future in his hands.
Many a questioning, many a fear, Many a doubt, hath its quieting here. Moment by moment, let down from Heaven, Time, opportunity, and guidance are given. Fear not tomorrows, child of the King, Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing
Do it immediately, do it with prayer; Do it reliantly, casting all care; Do it with reverence, tracing His hand Who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, Leave all results, do the next thing.
Looking for Jesus, ever serener, Working or suffering, be thy demeanor; In His dear presence, the rest of His calm, The light of His countenance be thy psalm, Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing. Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.
Before I share my simple September goals, here were my highlights from August!
Monthly Action Items
Celebrate with Family (A+Q, Olivia, Evelyn)
Refreshed Fall rhythms & routines (ZA and Home)
Late Summer Photo Shoot
Read: Chasing Perfect and The Lazy Genius Way
Weekly Action Items
Sabbath (Saturday evening – Sunday evening)
Connect with local community (family and friends)
Do not do more today than you can completely recover from by tomorrow.
Inspired by “Effortless” by Greg McKeown, my daily “habit” this month is just one. To simplify, slow down, and not over do it. There will be days that are full and abundant, but that means the next day my priorities might look very different.
My September goals and rhythms are simple and life-giving. I’ve found in seasons of transitions, the best is to get back to basics. May you focus on what matters and find joy in the new season!
I’ve been pretty quiet around here. Part of it has been intentional, the other part just life. Summer is always a full season, but this year it’s seem more abundant than I could have ever imagined. There has been days full of challenges, countless growing opportunities, afternoons of delight and joy, and numerous opportunities to steward this life I’ve been given well.
Earlier this Summer (Memorial Day weekend road trip to Koselig Cottage) I re-read/listened to Shauna Niequest’s book Present over Perfect. I haven’t read it since 2016 when it first came out, and had forgotten what solid, beautiful truths are tucked away in this quick and easy read.
Let’s live lightly, freely, courageously, surrounded by what brings joy simplicity, and beauty.
This quote, is really more of a manifesto to life, it had me saying amen and wanting to do a happy dance in my car. YES, this is the way I want to live. Not just this Summer but all year round.
Instead of doing all the things, saying yes to every gathering I’m invited to, and getting one more to-do accomplished I’ve wanted to Savor Summer. I will admit that I’ve been farm from perfect in this. There have been weeks and days that have tested my limit. Times I’ve felt far more heavy, weighted, small, and plain burnt out.
But, then there have been the cool mornings on the back porch, Friday afternoons by the lake, floral photo shoots, and delicious dinners with friends. And maybe, just maybe, that is okay. A big piece of living freely and lightly is letting go of expectation, to embrace what is.
So before I share my August goals, I want to celebrate my favorite Savor Summer meories.
August 2021 Goals
Monthly Action Items:
Prepare for Posy (deep clean floors, puppy check-list, set up her home,…)
Last year my friend quipped “You don’t choose the lilac life, the lilac life chooses you!” and it’s made me chuckle and feel so seen at the same time. There is something magnificent and magical at being on the look out for lilacs all over. I notice them on the side of the road on the way to the grocery store, along the bike path, or hanging over the lake on my daily walk.
These resilient bushes are some of the first to bloom in Springtime in Wisconsin and mark the TRUE start of garden season…I mean Spring 😉
It’s a sweet reminder to me that there is beauty and joy are found in the most ordinary places. This time of year is a bit harried for me, and if I’m honest this year I’m feeling the tension of to much and not enough so early. That is one of the reasons why I love flowers, they beckon us to slow and savor. To stop and notice, to enjoy the moment instead of rushing forward to the future.
So, for today’s post I thought I would share what is helping me slow and savor this month…
Full Focus Planner:
I snagged my first Full Focus Planner a few weeks ago after getting a deep discount. I’m only a few weeks in, but it has tremendously helped me get all the thoughts, to-dos, etc. out of my head and onto paper. I’m really loving the weekly preview and rolling quarters to help me look ahead to what is coming and feel prepared not overwhelmed. You can check it out more here!
Daily Walks + Inspiring Podcasts.
Even though Spring is a busy season that requires a lot of physical work, I’m making time for daily 15-20 minute walks through the neighborhood to notice the beauty. I’m always inspired and it’s a bonus if I see a friend or can catch up on a podcast. This recent one by Emily P. Freeman has been especially encouraging for this recovering people pleaser!
Creativity (Lilac Honey)
I recently saw an article on lilac honey in Eden & Vine’s Spring/Summer issue. Immediately I was intrigued and created a jar of my own. Making time for creativity and FUN can seem frivolous but it fuels a well-lived life. I can always tell when my soul needs some nourishment…I stop reaching for the paint brushes or baking utensils. When in reality that is when I need it most.
Lilac Honey Recipe:
Fill a pint mason jar with clean lilac blossoms (packed tightly).
Pour honey over blossoms.
Place in a sunny window-sill and rotate a few times a day.
In 3-4 weeks strain flowers (or leave in…they are edible).
Enjoy the lilac honey on yogurt, ice cream, waffles, or make a lattee!
Last evening, I spent some extra time in my home gardens planning and dreaming. It was a welcome respite after a day of office work and catching up. In the early Spring, I typically spend so much time planting gardens at ZA that my home gets the leftovers.
Last year I literally planted whatever seeds or plants were left at the end of May…it was a a hodge podge of flowers, veggies, and a few herbs. It was beautiful, messy, chaotic, and kinda random (in a good way!).
This year, I am tending to my home garden first. It’s going to be simple with just zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, dahlias, and herbs. Those are my favorites and the ones that bring me the most joy. I’m letting go of the ideas of anything else and just embracing the simplicity.
I can’t help but reflect on how much I do this in my life too. One thing gets all the focus and energy (work, family, health..) that little is left for the rest of life. When I spend all my time and energy only focusing on one area of my life, I end up neglecting the whole person I’ve been created and called to be.
There are seasons when work or family absolutely needs to take a heavier focus. But, when we get so side tracked on that one thing the other areas of life are neglected, something needs to change.
So friend, this is me encouraging you to look at all the areas of your life (spiritual, physical, relational, vocational, emotional…) and see what might need a little bit of extra tending right now.
I’m choosing to focus on my health in this season with intentional movement, nourishing foods, and limiting sugar. I want to have energy and capacity for what is in store and this area has been neglected over the past year. 💕☕️🌱
May 2021 Goals
Monthly Action Items:
Plant and mulch home gardens (roses, flowers, herbs,…)
The five words are the anchors of my days. They help me remember what God has called me to in this season.
My days can look incredibly varied and different: somedays it might mean waking up early for a sunrise walk to get movement in before a full day of office work, or coming home with a dirt manicure, taking a mid-day break for a cup of tea and a good book, or squeezing in a few minutes of FaceTime or Marco Polo with a friend in the midst of a busy season.
How those values play out each day may look incredibly different, and yet the reasons why remain the same.
What do you value in your life friend? Simplicity? Authenticity? Tanacity? Margin? Grit? What are the things if we stripped away your titles, roles, relationship would remain true.
When I’m entering into a new season or looking for a refresh, I get back to basics. Are my days and decisions aligned with my core values or are they starting to drift?
Now hear me out, I have days that are more mundane than beautiful and deal with feelings of loneliness even with my amazing community. The values in my life don’t mean I have these things all together, it’s more about prioritizing these things and letting go of all the rest.
My ultimate joy and goal here on earth is to Love God and Love His children. When my world starts spinning, It’s usually because I’m trying to do everything in my own power. A life that flourishes is not perfect, but it IS a grand adventure. Stepping forward in faith means trusting and abiding in my Creator.
When I’m in need of a fresh start, I start by journaling out all the things. It’s a humble and honest prayer to my Father, giving Him every concern, worry, and desire. Have you ever tried journaling?
Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you.
I believe that each of us were created with a unique set of skills and gifts that can shine into this world. We each have a deep inner desire and inherit need for meaningful work and purpose in our days. This will look different for everyone from homeschooling your kiddos, attending night school to finish your degree, writing that book you keep talking about, or taking a leap to open up that dream yoga studio! A life without purpose and meaning is dull and lacking in a true joy. There is something that comes alive in me when I have a project to tackle or a new adventure to figure out. It’s never easy but always worth the time and effort.
When life gets full, the first to go tends to be fun with friends. But, this extrovert needs her people during these full seasons more than ever. When I start canceling fun with friends and family to stay home multiple nights in a row, that is a red flag to slow down and reprioritize my days. One of my greatest gifts is having dear local friends and family. Calling them up for a walk, coffee chat, inviting myself over for dinner, or a walk to the taco truck helps me to recalibrate what matters most. Being present with my people reminds me that I’m not in it alone and also shifts my thoughts to others.
As a single woman, I’m gifted with being largely in control of my time and schedule. And yet, there are still weeks and seasons that feel like I’m blindly moving from one thing to the next with no transition in between and no breathing room. In my life margin is not just a gift but a necessity. Margin is more than just having extra time to process, it extends to our health, finances, and relationships. Margin allows me time to cook a healthy meal, visit the Y to swim, spend time with family, and do what I’m called to. Margin allows all the other things that are really important to actually happen. Fight for margin friends, fight for what matters in your life.
Beauty nourishes my soul the same way a fresh salad from the garden nourishes my body. Beauty inspires, beauty encourages, and it makes all the rest of the stuff FUN! Sometimes that means choosing to pour my coffee from a to-go cup into a vintage tea cup. Beauty can also mean making time to get outside for a hike and noticing the trees budding or hear the robins greet the day. Beauty helps me pause, be present, and ultimately remember that my Creator is the giver of every good and perfect gift.