I can’t believe September is already here. Fall is my absolute favorite season with crisp weather, football, bonfires, crunchy leaves, and cozy scarves!
The fresh hope of a new month and season is here and I’m feeling the push to start fresh, begin anew, and hope that the best is yet to come. There is something about this start to the school year that has me longing for a clean slate.
I don’t know about you, but with all the changes, rescheduling, and uncertainties there are so many days I forget what day (or even year) it is. It’s already an abundant time of year with events at work, soaking up every last drop of Summer weather in the Midwest, garden harvest, and so much more. I feel like my days have gone from a solid 35 mph pace to 90 mph overnight. The life and times of a #reluctantfarmgirl
For me, that is a bit hint I need to pull out my trusty rhythms and give them a refresh. In the sake of accountability and honesty, I’m sharing my refreshed Fall 2020 Goals and September 2020 tending list.
Fall 2020 Goals
Refresh my weekly rhythms (home & work) and complete “Weekly Routines Guide”
2. Prioritize mental & physical health with 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week (hike, bike, yoga, swim) .
3. Prepare my home, gardens, & heart for Fall.
4. Restore a sense of wonder & adventure with local adventures and social distance deck dates.
Monthly Action Items:
Preserve the Harvest: pesto, apple sauce, tomato sauce…
2. Read: One: Unity in a divided World by Diedra Riggs
3. Schedule a Fall Retreat
4. Prayerfully consider how to serve at my local church.
This week I made my first batch of applesauce (in 90 degree weather), bought a new fall candle, and floated in the lake. A beautiful mix of Summer & Fall. While I want to hold on to Summer sunshine & weather as long as possible, I’m craving the fresh rhythms and routines that Fall brings.
Fall is my favorite season, there is something about back to school that has me longing for bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils and a crisp new planner (nerd alert!).
In honor of the beginning of a new month & season, I wanted to share my favorite resources for prioritizing, organizing, and fall rhythms. I hope they encourage you to take a few moments to spend some time to reflect, refresh, and cutivate a life you love.
If you have known me for any length of time, you know I’m a huge believer in Powersheets and the mission of Cultivate What Matters. Not only are the products fun, bright, and intentional, but the women who are apart of team Cultivate are some of the most powerful & purposeful ladies I know. I have been doing Powersheets for 7 years now and they have have allowed me to define and be focused on what matters and let go of the rest.
My Powersheets have helped me set big goals like saving for my first home and smaller ones like getting back in the pool and swimming for 30 minutes non-stop. Even if you aren’t into traditional “goal setting” I encourage you to look into Powersheets or check out the Cultivate Blog for encouragement.
Their new collection launches in October, and I can’t wait to see what their team has dreamed up!
My amazing friend Diana is a Certified Life Coach and such a gift to me (and so many others). I worked with her several years ago during a season where there was much uncertainty and doubt in my life. Her wisdom and encouragement helped me to refocus on where God was calling me and make space to dream of a different way of life. While I know that coaching isn’t in everyone’s budget, one of my favorite resources is her weekly routine guide. I will typically revisit mine twice a year (Spring and Late Fall) or whenever I need a reset.
I have always been a “planner person”. I love the crisp new pages of a day planner and would count down to my favorite designer’s launch day. Last year my schedule was in complete flux and changed on a daily basis. My planner became full of appointments, scribbles, and honestly so much confusion. I’m all for making a mess in your planner, but when you miss an appointment because you can’t read your own writing something needs to change!
I made the switch last year to keeping my life/work schedule through google cal. That way when someone calls me and I’m in the garden or when I’m on the go, I can pull out my phone and give them a quick answer.
I also know there is power in the written word. So, I have a hybrid system with keeping all my work/life appointments in google cal and then on Friday afternoon I break out my weekly planner sticky pad, reflect on the past week, catch up on todos, and write out proposed week to come.
What I LOVE about this one from Cultivate is there is a place to write my top three priorities for the week. I try to write one vocational, spiritual, and physical priority each week. A reminder that life is more than just work 🙂
The office wall behind my desk displays a large calendar by Lindsay Letters. On the last Friday of each month I wipe it clean and refresh for the coming month. I’ve used it for writing out schedules, goals, tasks, and even during Safer at Home my gratitude for the day.
I’m a highly visual person, so having a big calendar that gives me a snapshot of life, helps tremendously when I’m working from my home office.
The regular rhythm of wiping down the previous month’s activities is oddly therapeutic. It also gives me a chance to evaluate my schedule and ensure I have made time for what really matters and haven’t overbooked my weeks or days.
I met Nancy through Making Things Happen and Return to Rest Retreat. She is a kindred spirit and a powerhouse when it comes to working hard and resting well. Her shows are intentional, well thought out, and overflowing with helpful information. I love listening to podcasts when I’m taking a walk, doing the dishes, or just sitting on the back deck relaxing.
Towards the end of summer the garden starts to look a little wonky. The hot and humid days are the perfect breeding ground for disease and pests. The ground is dry and perpetually needs watering. My tomatoes turn from not quite ripe to overdone in a blink of an eye. It’s the time of the year when I start looking at my garden, and have to actively fight the urge to ripe it all out and start again.
The reality is with our first frost date of early October in Wisconsin, I could really only replant radishes and lettuce. Don’t get me wrong, I could make one killer salad but I would also miss out on vine ripened tomatoes, roasted eggplant, crunchy sugar snap peas, beautiful bouquets, and so much more.
So, I try and over look the worn parts of the garden and continue the hard & good work. Once again learning from my garden to be diligent in the small things while I wait for the abundance to come.
Just like my garden, my heart and life are feeling a little bit dry and weary in this season. When COVID-19 first appeared I was in Florida on vacation with my family. I remember seeing the news and thinking it was blown out of proportion and if anything would blow over in a few weeks. Here we are more than 6 months later and in a new reality of face masks, social distancing, canceled events, quarantine, virtual school & activities, Zoom calls, and regular COVID testing.
In the midst of this COVID Pandemic we have been facing heartbreaking social injustice, a turbulent election, and countless unknowns in schools, schedules, and life. Just one of these things can be challenging, but combined they can often feel overwhelming and make our hearts weary.
Friend, I don’t know what you are going through, what challenges you face or what your views are with all that goes on in the world today. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but instead to listen, learn, and share a little encouragement and hope.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
This verse in Galatians sits on a tiny stand on my desk. A reminder in this season (and all year really) to put one foot in front of the other and walk in the calling I have received. Some days are a whole lot easier than others. I’ve learned to give myself grace during this time and know that my productivity might look different. To know that sometimes true purpose & productivity can’t be measured by tasks accomplished or items checked off a to-do list.
The world around us is changing at an ever increasing speed, but what does not change in this season is my calling. To LOVE GOD & SERVE OTHERS in every season, in every action, and in every way. Sometimes it looks like putting aside the to-do list to listen to a teammate and other times it means taking a big leap of faith to start a new project or follow through with a dream. The size of the calling and good works isn’t what matters here, but our hearts.
So my friends, wherever you find yourself, I want to encourage you to not give up in your good work, whatever it may be. Whether that is navigating virtual school with your kiddos, tacking a new project at work, writing, hosting a bible study, tacking the laundry pile, or resisting ripping out your actual garden.
Don’t try to do it all today; remember apples don’t grow from seed to fruit overnight my friend. Instead, choose just one small step of obedience that you can accomplish this week and then share that with a friend (or in the comments below!). We are not made to live our lives or carry out our callings alone. Strength comes when we open up our lives and hearts to community around us. Friend, the bravest thing you can do today is to step forward into where you are called to be.
Nourish and Grow:
What have you been called to do in this season?
Where is your heart and soul weary?
What would your small step of obedience look like today?
I’m currently tucked away in our upstairs porch at our scandinavian inspired cottage in Northern Michigan. Koselig Cottage (Norwegian for cozy) is one of my favorite places to rest, explore, recharge, and get away for awhile.
Our cozy cottage on the river is such a gift and reminder that we all need a happy place to get away and unplug. Friend, whether it’s a screen porch by the river or 5 seconds on the back porch with a cup of coffee, take a few minutes today to stop and just breath. Your soul will thank you.
Today I’m sharing my current favorites, Koselig Cottage style.
I love a good adventure, don’t you? The anticipation of planning for, discovering, and exploring a new place sparks life into my days and joy in my heart. I believe that adventures, near and far, are not just a luxury but an essential rhythm in a flourishing life.
Yet, so often wait for picture perfect circumstances to incorporate adventure into lives. I used to look around me at all the people going on beach vacations, swimming in majestic waterfalls, and traveling to foreign countries and get a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Oh how I would love to be exploring the ffjords of Norway right now or sipping a espress on on the streets of Florence. But, life is just to short to not live fully and embrace a spirit of adventure wherever we are. In this season I might not be able to jet off to Italy or Sweden at a moments notice, but I can still find the joy of adventure close to home.
Adventures, near and far, are an essential ingredient to a flourishing life. They expand our mind, open our eyes, spark our creativity, and bring LIFE back to living. A life that is flourishing is rooted in living on purpose and joy. A life that flourishes is a poured out life, walking in our callings with clarity and passion. However, if we continue to pour out we will become weary, dry, and empty. In order to live out a flourishing life, we must find ways to fill up our well so that it overflows in to the lives of others. For me, adventure is always the spark that fills up my tank and renews my creativity.
Several Summers ago I was in a one of those poured-out, creativity lacking, dry spells. I had suffered a major injury earlier in the year that left my physical body tired but my soul weary too. After the physical healing took place, my soul needed some nourishment too. A good friend was reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and her short description intrigued me. I ordered it on-line and impatiently anticipated it’s arrival. One of the foundational parts of the workbook is to take yourself on weekly “Artist Dates”. What is an artist day you may ask?
An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing creative consciousness, your inner artist…You do not take anyone on this artist date but you.
– Julia Cameron
That Summer, after spending 10 weeks on the couch and with limited mobility, the idea of 2 hours out and about was balm to my spirit. I began implementing weekly artist dates, usually a Friday late afternoon, I carved out 2 hours by myself, and explored my hometown. I visited the local antique mall and found the most beautiful enamel pitcher. I drove back country roads and encountered a sunflower field and took a shameless selfie. I made the trek to an Indian spice store to purchase ingredients to create a new dish. I jumped in the lake and floated on my back looking at the shapes and forms of clouds every chance I could get.
My artist dates were a weekly reminder that I was gifted with this one and precious life and it was up to me to make it one worth living. Three years later, I’ve continued my rhythm of consistent artist dates with one exception. I don’t always do it alone. (Yes, my extrovertedness is showing.) Adventures with my people are some of the best kind. Adventures with dear friends or family spark a deeper kind of creativity. A creativity that is less about doing what feels good and more like living a wild & free life that overflows to everyone you meet.
My favorite local adventure ideas (solo or with friends):
-Stop by your local coffee shop and ask the barista for a recommendation.
-Frequent your farmer’s market and select ingredients for a meal or a indulgent charcuterie board.
-Explore a local junk sale or antique market. Discover the history and beauty of another’s treasure.
-Search for “Little Free Libraries” in your town and walk or bike to the one closest to you.
-Jump in the lake/river/ocean, just float and look at the sky.
-Sit on a patio with live music and sip a delicious cocktail or glass of wine.
-Got to a movie by yourself…with extra popcorn!
-Attend an art exhibit or museum.
– Visit Indian or Asian market/bakery and purchase ingredients for a favorite meal. Share it with your people…or make it just for you!
Have you ever stumbled upon a garden mid-August? Tomatoes reaching towards the sun and vining over trellises, sunflowers waving in the afternoon breeze, cucumbers that weave their way and attach to any object, and bush beans overflowing with the delicious tastes of Summer.
A Summer garden is the most beautiful picture of overflowing abundance. But, If you aren’t careful, that abundance can quickly turn to overwhelm.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
And as a reluctant farmgirl, my life often mimics the seasons in the garden. On January 1st I have bright eyes, a bold vision for the year to come, and have made time to reset my goals and priorities. Then we hit August, and my life feels full to the brim and the idea of adding one more thing is just to much to handle.
I’m guessing that these hot August days in the middle of Summer can feel overwhelming, repetitive, mundane, and long for you too.
But with patience and time I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and beauty of the abundant season. To put aside my unrealistic expectations and be grateful for this day…weeds and all.
When I view my days through the lense of the gospel, my view shifts. Watering the gardens, work appointments, responding to e-mails, watering the garden…again, doing the dishes, writing, or making dinner. No longer are they just tasks to be completed, but they are opportunities to embrace this life, love God, and love others.
My garden, and in turn my life, may not be as clean and tidy as my January dreams, but the fruit is bountiful and even more beautiful than I could imagine. Life does not need to be Pinterest perfect to be a life worth living.
Friend, your ordinary day can become an extraordinary gift. Stop, breathe, and delight in the beauty of this day.
Since I was a little girl my heart longed to have a family of my own. To have a life partner with 2.5 adorable children, a home of my own complete a white picket fence, and a full time career. But there I was, about to turn 30 working part time, renting super tiny one bedroom studio, and had little to little dating prospects or hope.
I knew there was good in the season, but I wasn’t quite sure there was joy.
So on the eve of my 30th birthday I sat down, on the deck of my tiny house (that was literally in the backyard of my dear friends..but that is another God story), with a mason jar of cold brew, and got to work envisioning what a brave & beautiful decade would look like.
I scribbled down deep, seemingly impossible dreams like owning my own home, going on a mission trip again, and participating in Making Things Happen again. There were also LOTS of fun adventures like visiting an outdoor theater, homemade gelato, and starting my own garden. It was a marker to choose a life of beauty and bravery. In writing that list a shift began in my heart to cultivate a life I love, even when it looked different than I envisioned.
Here I am today, five years later, and look over my list of 30 Brave and Beautiful Things and see a full and vibrant life. There are still a few items that I can’t wait to check off…Country Living Fair and mission trip adventure are at the top post COVID life 😉 But, as I spent time reflecting on the items I’ve been able to check off my list, I noticed so many other gifts in this season that were unplanned and unexpected.
In my 30’s I also…
-built lasting friendships both near and far. My “forever friends” are such kindred spirits and unexpected gifts.
-embraced my calling at ZA as a servant-leader and reluctant farm girl.
-did (and continue to do) the heart and hard work required in counseling through seasons of transition, anxiety, and everyday life.
-found a local church home that is not perfect, but even better is rooted in the gospel and full of people who love each other and love Jesus.
-invested in my neighborhood and got to know them as friends, beyond just a quick “Hello!”.
-gained a sister and became an auntie to the sweetest little love bug ever.
-adventured all around Wisconsin, the US (NYC, Chicago, New Hampshire, Sanibel Island, Boston, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina,…), and most importantly the UP and our Koselig Cottage.
Memories and joy that I would have overlooked if I just focused on what was missing. My heart still longs for the “white picket fence” ideal (or whatever version that might end up being), but the truth is that this life is good, beautiful, and full of a deeper joy. I’ve learned that gratitude doesn’t but a “happy mask” on our life circumstances, but it does allow you to shift your eyes to the gifts of today. On the eve of 35, I can’t wait to see what the rest of my 30’s will bring. I have a feeling the best is yet to be.
30 Brave & Beautiful Things in my 30’s
Loveon littles through an overseas mission trip.
2. Plant a fig tree!
3. Learn the art of hand lettering.
4. Get a tattoo 😀
5. Be completely debt free!
6. Host “An Evening to Bloom”
7. Weekend adventure to Nashville with girlfriends!
8. Attend a farm to table dinner.
9. Write an e-book.
10. Go Blueberry Picking
11. Finally visit the Country Living Fair!!
12. Plant a garden of my own.
13. Take an art class and let go of perfection! (pottery, calligraphy, painting..)
14. Speak at women’s conference
15. Complete the Bravado (run/walk, bike, kayak)
16. Have a little free library.
17. Master sourdough bread.
18. Own my own home.
19. Complete whole30 challenge.
20. Gather farm fresh eggs!
21. Try Stitch Fix for a special occasion outfit!
22. Visit a fresh lavender farm.
23. Host a girls weekend at Koselig Cottage.
24. Outdoor theater or concerts on the square.
25. Purchase a really comfy, squishy reading chair.
26. Learn to flip a pancake (seriously people, it’s BAD!)
27. Enjoy a Spa Day.
28. Host a weekend retreat.
29. Make lemon-basil gelato with my lemons.
30. Attend Making Things Happen Conference for the 2nd time and be encouraged to live on purpose and make what matters happen.
Summer in the Midwest is when the world comes alive. Everyone comes out of hibernation and the calendar is full to the brim with backyard BBQs, road trips, outdoor concerts, and trips to the lake. We fill our schedules to the brim in order to squeeze out every single last drop of Summer. It’s a season of yes and abundance!
This year Summer has looked incredibly different. With fairs, events, weddings, concerts, and even gatherings being canceled or restricted my schedule has more open spaces and margin than usual.
A few years ago this go-go-go girl would have cringed at the amount of “whitespace” on her calendar. It can be so easy to equate busyness with worth, and a full social schedule with a full life. But the truth is, you can have a full schedule and still have an empty life.
Two years ago when a tumble left me with a shattered leg & prescription for 8 weeks of R&R, I was forced to put down my glorification of busy and embrace an unexpected season of healing & rest. All in the midst of a Wisconsin Summer.
The first few weeks were a flurry of appointments, visits from loved ones, and catching up on my Netflix queue. Then a few weeks in I began to get restless and discouraged. I was tired of sitting, asking for rides and couldn’t imagine reading another book (shock of all shocks as I’m an known bookworm!). I wanted to get out and go to the farmer’s market, kayak on the river, or even just go to the drive in movie theater! I still had 4 weeks ahead of me and yet I was ready for life to return to “normal” as soon as possible.
And so that day I decided to begin a new habit. Twice a day I would head out to my back porch, kick back in my lounge chair, and just look at the clouds. No podcast playing, book to read, or friend to chat with. Just me, a deck chair, and the Lord.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Savoring the stillness was hard. I think of something else I could be doing or distracting thoughts would come to mind. But slowly, the rush and hurried pace melted away and I began to lose track of time just noticing, dreaming and praying.
My deck dates became soul-anchoring moments in my day. It was that season I learned that slowing down allows me to see the goodness I usually overlook as I’m hurrying from place to place.
In this current season of unknown and uncertainty, I find myself out on the deck more often. Finding pockets of time in my day to pause and recenter my thoughts. My sacred space has become a reset for my day and a recentering of my heart.
Something happens when we choose to quiet the noise and let go of distractions. That is why God calls us to rest.
When we choose rest, priorities are shifted, & concerns melt away. Stillness gives us fresh eyes to see the beauty around us.
Friends, in a world that champions busy let’s choose stillness instead.
Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder
What brings your soul rest?
Is there a place that is sacred to your soul?
Take a few minutes today, visit that space, turn of your phone, still your heart, and savor the gift of rest.
This week has blown by in a whirl-wind of Summer adventures and hard work. Now is the time of year when the abundance of the garden & preparation for Fall threaten to overwhelm me. When the days are short but the weeks feel long, I can focus on the negative or what could improve instead of looking for the delight in each day. Needless to say, I’ve needed lots of iced tea and pep-talks this week to point me back to the truth that we can do what is placed before us little by little (and with a heaping of His grace). So in that spirit, here are the good things of this week.
Our Carlson crew adventured to the lavender farm this past weekend was so much fun. It was one of those hot Summer days, so my only regret is that we didn’t stay longer. New Life Lavender is such a peaceful and welcoming place, and I just love the family that owns it. We enjoyed a hay wagon tour, lavender lattes, lavender cherry pie, and a stroll through the blooming lavender & wildflower fields. I came back inspired and in need of a jump in the lake 😉 Adventures always inspire me and New Life is one of my favorite spots to have adventures.
Sipping homemade iced tea using the loose leaf tea that I got from New Life Lavender Farm. My two favorites are the Lemon Lavender Mint and Strawberry Lavender Red Rooibos tea. Growing up my mom would always have a big jar of tea brewing on the back porch. I’ve continued this Summer tradition by making a few batches of strong sun tea in mason jars to enjoy through the week.
Simple Summer Iced Tea Recipe:
1 quart canning jar
4 tea bags (mint, black, green tea with lemon, etc.)
Optional: fresh mint, lavender, herbs or fruit to add a twist.
Combine all ingredients in canning jar and place in a sunny spot for 2-3 hours. Remove tea bags and store in the fridge for 3-4 days….if you can keep it around that long!
A friend from book club recommended “American Dirt” to me a few weeks ago. The hold list was well over 200 so I was overjoyed to snag a copy from my lucky day stack at the local library. A powerful story of a mother and sons escape from Mexico and their journey as migrants. This book worm has been staying up way too late simultaneously enthralled, captivated, and heartbroken over this story. Good writing doesn’t just entertain us. Good writing teaches us to see the world through a new lens.
My garden is abundant with zinnias, snapdragons, bells of Ireland, and big dahlia blooms. This year I wanted to focus on cut flowers and herbs in my home garden. It’s been less work and more joy, exactly what gardening should be. Well…a little dirt never hurt. I gathered up some of the blooms this week and have been delivering to friends and neighbors. A sweet way to brighten someone’s day and a good excuse to check in with my people.
In the Summertime my neighborhood comes alive with blooms. Sunflowers lined the fences, abundant hydrangea bushes, climbing roses, manicured and professionally landscaped perennial beds, and down the street was the most beautiful veggie bed I ever saw. Beautiful gardens that are lovingly tended to by my neighbors.
Then one day my walk around the neighborhood turned from gratitude to envy and comparison. Suddenly my humble patio garden & flower beds seemed insignificant and simple. Instead of appreciating the hard work of others, comparison grabbed hold of my heart. I came back home restless and unsettled instead of inspired and encouraged.
A few weeks after my comparison walk around the neighborhood gardens a dear friend made the comment “Your back yard is such an oasis”. My reflex was to point out all the things wrong and everything I wanted to improve. But her tone caused me to stop, take notice, and see my patio garden with fresh eyes.
I began to notice the beauty of my humble patio garden. Instead of noticing the absence of a perfect landscaping, I saw fresh basil to add to my pizza, zinnias to clip and share with a friend, and tiny lemons growing in the sunshine.
Just like envying my neighbors garden causes me to miss the beautiful patio garden oasis I have, when I spend to much time on social media viewing other people’s highlight reel, I can forget the beauty in my life.
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16
Psalm 16 is a reminder to delight in the boundary lines that we currently have. Boundaries often get a bad reputation. Healthy boundaries help us focus on the important things in our life, and let go of the rest.
Boundary literally translate “something that indicates bounds or limits” (Dictionary.com)
Boundaries in our relationship help us nourish and grow closer to our friends and families. Boundaries in our time and schedule cultivate space for what matters. Boundaries in our physical property keep us safe and secure. Boundaries in the garden keep out unwanted predators and pests. Boundaries declare ownership and bring clarity to land or property lines. Boundaries can help us make sense and delight in what we have been given.
What does it look like to delight in the land we have been given? For you it might mean embracing the small 300 sq ft apartment and painting that wall or start a window sill herb garden, even if it’s temporary. Or to pause and reflect on where you are, savoring the goodness and beauty of your current season (student, newlywed, working mamma, single gal, empty nester,…) instead of looking ahead to the future.
There is a deep longing in my heart for marriage and mamma-hood, but that is not the season I’m in. When I compare what I think my life should look like or what I hope it will be I miss out on the unexpected joys of today. Joys like last minute road trips, quiet mornings on the deck with my bible and coffee, girls nights, and solo-adventures. There are so many unexpected joys in this season of singleness, and I’m choosing to delight in the beauty of it.
Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder
Pour yourself a tall glass of cold brew or ice tea, sit back, and savor the land you have been given. A single window sill with a pot of herbs, backyard with a glimpse of the lake, or a 50 acre flower farm, take the time to see the beauty and joy in your space.
How can you cultivate joy and beauty in your season?