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.
Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better To paint a picture, or write a letter, Bake a cake, or plant a seed; Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time, With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb; Music to hear, and books to read; Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair; A flutter of snow, a shower of rain, This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind, Old age will come and it’s not kind. And when you go (and go you must) You, yourself, will make more dust.
Last weekend I discovered this simple and poignant poem. It’s reminder that as much as I enjoy a beautiful home, I would rather spend my time creating a beautiful life.
And yet, it’s often the little acts of preparation and work that help us prepare well and enjoy a season. Small actions done with intention and consistency free us up to live a life we love.
My goals for this upcoming month center around preparing well for Spring. Spring is a busy time for me with travel plans (finally!), planting all the seeds in the garden, hosting friends for IF: Gathering and so many other fun things.
In order to flourish and truly enjoy this Spring, there are some house-keeping things that help make my life run smoothly. Even as a single woman, I find when I make time on Sundays to prepare healthy meals, tidy up my home, reflect on the week prior, and invest in my physical and emotional health. I’m so much more present with the people in my life.
February 2021 Recap
March 2021 Goals
Monthly Action Items:
Plan home gardens
Complete Floret Workshop!
Host If: Gathering at Koselig Cottage
Contentment Challenge Reset
Clean up (2) areas of basement (canning and seasonal home decor)
Soak up MAGNOLIA vacay
Weekly Action Items:
No TV Monday-Saturday!
Share a meal with local community.
Meal prep on Sunday.
Weekly reflection (examen & Next Right Thing Journal).
We had an unexpected snow day this past week. A day where the storm rolled in over night dropping inches of fluffy snow. It was magical to wake up to a Winter wonderland and take a few minutes to pause and savor the scene.
But then, the realities of the snowstorm upended my idealic morning. Messy roads, snow removal, slippery driveways, canceled plans, and delayed celebrations. Yes, my day now held extra margin, but it also meant holding plans loosely and letting go of expectations. A theme I’ve been learning on repeat these days.
Winter reminds us that everyone and everything needs some quiet time.
Winter is a time to rest, be still, and quiet our hearts. For me, that conjures up koselig scenes of snuggling up by the fire with a hot cup of tea, cozy blanket, and an inspiring book or magazine.
And while that is LOVELY and a rhythm I savor extra in the Winter, true rest comes not from a single moment but walking daily in rhythm with our Creator.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This last month held heartache & hopes deferred. However, the goodness of an easy yoke overflowed in countless mundane moments. When I choose to acknowledge the good gifts alongside the challenging ones, I’m reminded that our Father is at work through every moment of my life.
That is my prayer for you in this season. The you would find rest for your weary soul and recognize the good gifts from your heavenly father.
January 2021 Recap:
February 2021 Goals:
Monthly Action Items:
Winter Home Declutter (clothes, books, basement, office)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
2021 Yearly Goals:
Embrace the rhythms of the church calendar and spiritual disciplines (daily office, weekly examen, sabbath, rule of life)
I have always been a “planner girl”. Excited to try the newest organization tool and am giddy at the fresh start of a new month, year, or page.
Yet the last few years, I’ve moved to a primarily on-line planner for the ease of having my schedule “on hand at all times.
But this last year with all the uncertainty and change had me craving trying something new. I wanted a planner that was different than I could find at Office Max and cultivated my heart and soul as much as my calendar.
The goal of incorporating the liturgical calendar into my year, lead me to Sacred Ordinary Days. After downloading and LOVING their monthly sample, I took a leap and ordered a hard copy of their yearly planner.
It’s simple, clean, flexible, and centered on what matters most: my relationship with God. I’ve been using it over a month now, and I particularly love the weekly & seasonal examen and Sabbath day page. A consistent reminder each week to check-in with my soul and look back on where I’ve abided in Him or tried to accomplish things on my own.
Nourish my body with whole foods, movement, and soul-care.
I don’t know if you have been feeling it too, but so many of my conversations lately have been centered around feeling the weariness and weight of this world. With everything going on in our country, nation, and community it’s so important to care for our bodies, mind, and soul.
My rhythms have been thrown off track over the last few months and I’m committing to re-establishing healthy habits in 2021.
For me that looks like:
simple, nourishing meals packed with plenty of protein
enjoying whole, seasonal foods
weekly yoga and daily stretching
swimming laps at least 2X a week
getting outside as much as possible
committing to a screen-free evening once a week to journal, read, and rest
Courageously speak and write truth.
When I think of a year of grit and grace, I see a year that is full of brave words. That might look like sharing a cup of tea with a friend, taking a walk and asking the hard questions, or sharing what God is teaching me here on this little corner of the web.
This recovering people-pleaser has struggled to find her voice and not just say what others want to hear. However, I’ve learned that with a whole lot of prayer prayer and plenty of God’s grace, it is possible to share words that are brave, true, and full of grace.
A women of gentle grace earns respect.
Love my family & local community well.
Looking back on my most treasured memories of 2020, they all involved my family and local community. In the year of Safer@Home, I found the joy of local friendships and having my family close.
Time with family at the cottage, gatherings on the deck/porches with friends, Emily’s Safer@Home bake shop, and life group game nights brought a deep joy to my weeks. I tangibly saw a long awaited prayer answered last year and I want to steward this gift well.
Some of the ways I will love my people in 2021 is:
continue porch drop off of Emily’s Bakeshop
celebrate birthdays and milestones of family and dear friends
host outdoor celebrations in each season
savor time with family at the cottage
send snail mail to friends and family far away
Celebrate and rejoice in each Season.
Working in an agriculture based ministry, I can’t help but see how God wired us for seasons. Winter is a time of Rest, Spring a time of planting, Summer is tending, and Autumn is the harvest.
I’m always learn, process, and grow when I spend time reflecting on God’s creation. This year I want to take it even further to embrace the celebrations/seasons of the church (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Easter, etc.) AND also the seasons of nature.
One way that I’m walking through the year is joining Lady Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a group of farmer, nature, slow-living, like-hearted ladies with monthly classes, articles, and a book club each season.
This Winter we are focusing on REST and how it looks in our home, closets, use of technology, etc. The class this month shared about creating a “cozy cocoon” space that is full of things you love and a place to just rest and enjoy. To be honest, sometimes my whole house feels this way, but then I see the unwashed dishes or remember that I never sent an e-mail, so my brain clicks into overdrive again. I spent 15 minutes this week to take down my “upstairs Christmas decor” (a small tree and one sign) and refresh for Winter. I cleared off my bedside table and left the fairy lights up for a cozy, restful space.
Challenge my mind, body, and spirit with new adventures.
“Enockson girls have adventures” is a motto that I share with my sister (and now sweet niece) on a consistent basis. For Christmas I created them each a photo book and short story about how Enockson girl’s have adventures on a daily basis. It’s my biggest hope and prayer for them, to remind them that they are brave, courageous, and kind.
I want to model the adventure-filled life and push myself outside my comfort zone to try hard things. This year it might be cross-country skiing instead of the familiar snowshoe, cooking new recipes, seasonal “bucket list” adventures, reading books outside my usual genre, trying projects, and saying YES even when I’m afraid.
A full life isn’t meant to be lived in our comfort zones. A full and vibrant life is full of mistakes, hard things, joy and LOTS of adventure.
Grow beautiful blooms at ZA and home.
If you know me even a little bit, you know my love, okay obsession, for flowers. My wardrobe in the Spring consists of 80% floral pieces and a handful of neutrals, my kitchen table always has a bouquet of blooms or potted bulb, and my favorite time of the week at ZA is when we stock the farm cart with blooms for the community.
So, NOBODY was surprised last fall when I decided to participate in Floret Farm Cut-Flower workshop. Erin has been a role model for farmer-florists everywhere and I love how she continues to cultivate beauty and purpose through her IG feed, family and farm.
2021 holds so much possibility for my home gardens and ZA. I can’t wait to see how this goal literally grows over the next 12 months.
Cultivate a heart of contentment and give generously.
A heart of generosity and contentment continues to be one of the hardest and humbling goals. I want to be quick to give and be generous with what I’m given, and yet so often I think about my needs before others.
This year I’m joining Nancy Ray for the contentment challenge. Three months of purposely NOT shopping or spending on frivolous things. After the excess of Christmas, it feels refreshing but also reveals how quickly I click “add to cart” or “purchase now” before actually thinking if I need or truly want something. This year I’m joining her again and choosing not to purchase clothing, books, or home decor from January – March.
She recommends having a hobby or habit you want to cultivate and replace the time you would have spent at target or on-line shopping. For me that is watercolor and hiking outside. I want to cut out the habit of pursing the isle of target after a long week and instead go outside and soak up God’s amazing creation.
This week between Christmas and New Year is one of my favorite times. While we can easily fall into the black hole of not knowing “what day or time it is” and post-christmas sugar high, there is a beauty to a slower pace, with a little of the Christmas sparkle left in it.
I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and it’s the exact sentiment I want to step into the New Year:
“I don’t know exactly what’s next but I’m stepping forward with grit, anchored in grace.”
When the calendar flips on December 31st at midnight, all the pain and hardship won’t just go away. 2020 has been a year of numerous challenges, growth, and letting go.
Friends, with a little bit of grit, a whole lot of prayer, and big leaps of faith we can step into the fresh start of a new year anchored in His grace.
To me, a life of grace & grit begins by celebrating & marking the challenges, good things, and growth of the previous year.
This ENFJ, Enneagram 2W3, Extrovert girl LOVES to process and learn along-side fellow believers. I can often get in the “bad habit” of signing up for to many studies or conferences because I just get excited to dig into Scripture with my people, it’s what sets my heart on fire.
But, the good heart work of listening to our souls begins with cultivating a practise of silence (time spent in quiet) and solitude (time spent alone).
The soul is like a wild animal-tough, resient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.”
I’ll never forget my first introduction to the practice of silence and solitude. I was in college attending a discipleship training course put on by the Navigators. Time well spent learning, growing, serving, and deepening our faith with fellow believers in one of my favorite places in Northern Wisconsin.
Towards the end of our time together, we had a 3 hour “Time alone with God” (or TAG as we called it…insert eye-roll here). I was curious and a tiny bit anxious.
We were each told to go find a place alone, apart from anywhere else and just be with God. There were no questions to walk through or topic to cover. Only me, God, my bible, and the great Northwoods.
I found a comfy spot outside (no surprise there!) to read scripture, pray, and listen. I was excited and expectant to what God might reveal to me during that time.
I wish I could tell you I had some great earth-shattering revelation, but my mind would not shut off. I kept thinking, dreaming, and planning. My thoughts ping ponged between ideas and trivial concerns. Before I knew it my time was up and I felt like I never really spent time just being with God. I quickly jotted a few things down to share with my team, but there was not a depth there and the experience felt lacking.
When I look back on that experience, I see a girl with so much to learn but one who truly wanted to “get it right”. And here is the truth my friends. There is no perfect formula or prescription for silence and solitude. It will look different for everyone and it will change in each season.
In the years since my 3 hour TAG, I’ve learned to let go of expectations and just enjoy the time.
Our hearts, minds, body, and souls live at a frantic pace. There is always more to learn, consume, do, intake, or make happen. Our culture thrives and pushes us to be constant consumers or creators. The practice of silence and solitude forces us to put aside our inner voice telling us to “do, go, produce”, and forces us to just be. It humbles us to realize that HE is the ultimate Creator and author of our lives.
Silence and solitude it one of the most life-giving rhythms in my Rule of Life, but it is also one of the most difficult to keep. I live alone, am unmarried, have no children or pets to care for, and yet I struggle to make time for silence and solitude in my days.
When I choose push aside the to-do list, light a candle, and just be still my soul is renewed and my heart recentered on my Creator.
A life that is full of God’s amazing grace begins with quieting our souls to hear our Father. There are countless examples of Jesus stepping away to lonely, quiet, and desolate places to pray alone.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
This practice will take time to cultivate in your day. It will feel akward and challenging to begin with. But friend, it will be so so worth it.
I would encourage you to take just 2 minutes today to sit and be still. Turn your phone on airplane mode, get away from people (lock yourself in a closet or bathroom if you need), and be with your Creator.
If you find your mind anxious or full of hurried thoughts, hand them over to your Father. I like to make a practice of beginning my time in silence and solitude with praying out-loud or writing down any concerns, worries, or anxieties that I’ve been carrying.
The tangible act of speaking my concerns help shift my heart and focus into a posture of letting go, and prepare my heart to listen.
I will often light a candle to signal to my soul that it’s time to rest and settle in. When my brain starts tip toeing into overdrive, I take a few breaths and focus on the flickering light.
Friend, God desires to be with us and hear our hearts cry. The one prayer God will always answer with a hearty yes is “Lord, be with me.” After all, during this season of Advent we are reminded that He is our Immanuel, God with us.
Tips and resources to help you on a grace-filled journey.