“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,…)
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!)
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.
Happy Spring my friends, the world has officially come out of hiding and the season of growth and hope is HERE! The sunshine and above freezing days are BALM to my soul after this harsh winter.
While the Magnolia trees bloom and the crocus bud, my calendar is experiencing a new season too. Invitations to events, trips to plan, decisions to make, thousands of seeds to plant, work events, celebrations, and family gatherings. So many good and beautiful things that I have missed dearly over the past year.
While I’m excited to step into Spring, it can also be an overwhelming time of change and new growth. I feel like our world went from Safer at Home to Social Butterflies overnight. All around me I see glimpses of life returning back to “normal, and I don’t want to forget the deeper truth and lessons that I’ve learned from the past year.
So today I’m sharing my first of a new series: Rhythms When You Need a Fresh Start.
Do you feel it too? The desire to clear the calendar and start again. Let’s walk together through what it looks like to sow the seeds of a life of beauty and grace.
May we continue to cultivate a strong NO in our lives so that we can say more life-giving yeses.
Emily P Freeman
The Hardest Place to Start: Just Say No!
I’m a yes girl, recovering people pleaser, and big dreamer. It’s easy for me get excited about new and fun things, say YES to it all, and just as easily get overwhelmed and want to quit it ALL. I’ve learned when those nagging feelings creep in to step back and make a list of what I’ve said Yes to. And then I look at the list through these questions
Does it align with my big picture vision and this actual season?
Each year I make a vision board and set goals using my Powersheets. I usually do this at our cozy cottage in the Winter when I have extra margin. On a snowy December day, all the dreams and ideas seem possible. My head is clear and there is hope for the future.
BUT, when a new season begins (a literal season like Spring or a big life transition). I pause and make sure that my YESES align with my calling and vision. For me personally that is living a life rooted in God’s grace and using my gifts to bring beauty to those around me. Anything that falls outside of that vision is put aside. There are seasons and times for everything but not anything my friend, trust that if God has truly placed that in your heart it will come to be.
What are my non-negotiables?
Faith. Community. Margin. Beauty.
Those are the core values on which I live my days, weeks, seasons, and years. The phrase “I can do it all” is just a myth. As my wise friend Lara would say “We can’t do it all and do it all well. But we can choose to cultivate what matters.” In full seasons it looks like tightening my circle to family & a few life-giving friends, getting up early for a yoga class, and making sure I have nourishing food in the fridge (thanks Hungry Root & Daily Harvest!). I begin by filling my time with non-negotiables and then if I have the margin (emotionally and physically) I consider saying Yes to something new.
Is this actually my priority or someone else plan?
As my mamma often says, everyone has the perfect plan for your life. When we dare to say NO (or say the brave & scary YES) we are defining what we want in our lives. Saying NO can feel selfish, but what if we looked at it through a different lens. What if you saying NO actually allowed others to step in and shine. Wouldn’t that be worth it?
Say NO can be one of the most life-giving tools…but so can saying Yes! When we say NO to something, it ultimately creates space in our life to say YES. I end my time by creating two lists. One list of things I’m saying NO to in this season and the other that I’m saying YES to. Writing out what you are saying YES to in this next season can give you the confidence to actually do it.
I’m Saying Yes to….
Nourishing meals and snacks.
Swim and Sauna.
Morning pages & artist dates.
Early morning walks.
I’m Saying No to…
Toxic thoughts and “what-if” thinking. (so long anxiety!)
It’s sunny here in the midwest and I’m feeling all the Spring vibes- a fresh start and new season. This year one of my goals is to capture and enjoy the every day, glorious in the mundane. I typically will only record the monumental, big events and if 2020 taught me anything it is that there is beauty in the everyday.
I’ve been doing this by recording in my The Next Right Thing guided journal each Saturday morning. One of my favorite rhythms has been capturing my “These are the days of” list… It’s a chance to reflect on the previous week/month/season and prepare to start fresh. A big part of living well is making time to reflect on where you have been.
Questions to reflect on…
What brought you joy?
What was beautiful?
What was ordinary?
What was an regular rhythm?
What made you grow?
What did you learn?
What do you want to remember?
So, before I jump into my April goals I wanted to capture a list of the beauty and joy I lived during the month of March.
This past weekend I picked up a Mary Oliver book at Fabeled Bookshop when my mamma and I were on our dream girls trip to Waco, TX. I’ll share more about our amazing trip soon, but today as I was reading slowly through her poetry and writing, these instructions for living life jumped out at me.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
I don’t know about you, but so often my weeks are spent living out of habit instead of intention. I wake up, get dressed, eat the same breakfast (two scrambled eggs, toast, and berries), go to work, come home, make dinner or meet up with family/friends, read a book, & go to bed only to start over again the next day. Suddenly it’s Friday and I wonder what in the world I did with my week that was worth telling about.
The days can feel mundane and monotonous if I don’t stop & pay attention. Life is not what happens one day when we “grow up” or “graduate” to the next stage of life. We are experiencing this beautiful and precious gift of life right now.
Each day brings the fresh start to begin anew, be present, and be astonished by the beauty.
Crocus peeking through the newly uncovered soil.
Robins strutting around in the morning looking for breakfast.
Neighbors walking by and stopping to say hello.
That particular shade of blue the sky turns only in the Spring.
A gentle rain on your roof & knowing that it’s nourishing the ground.
The smell of the first BBQ on a 50 degree Saturday in March.
Small and wonder-filled gifts of this season that we miss when we are just going through the motions.
Spring is the season of fresh starts and making time to notice.
The world is shifting and changing in front of our very eyes.
The snow melts and bulbs begin to peek through the soil. Barren trees come alive and bloom with color. The quiet hush of Winter is repreplaced with birdsong. A season of rest and coziness is replaced with the hardwork and hope of Spring.
Part of me wants to stay in my Winter cocoon. But, I know I would miss out on so much goodness if I chose safe & cozy over the fresh energy & new start of Springtime.
There are many good and beautiful things in this Season and yet, even good change can feel uncomfortable.
So my friend, if you find yourself waking up alongside the world around you and eager for a fresh start: stop, breathe, be present, and notice.
This life you are living right now is good, beautiful and true. Choose to see the goodness in this day and embrace the season you are living.