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!
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!)
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).
When you hear the word Lent, what image or experience comes to mind? Formal Ash Wednesday services and foreheads donned with the cross? Friday night fish frys? A season of somber reflection during the depths of Winter? Giving up chocolate or soda or Netflix (gasp!) for 40 days? Lent, I have no idea, Em!
For those (like me!) who didn’t grow up practicing the liturgical calendar, let me share the basics with you. Lent is a season in the liturgical calendar that includes 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter. While Lent is not specifically mentioned in scripture, this season is modeled after Jesus’ 40 day fast in the dessert (Matthew 4:1-11).
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and continues right up until resurrection Sunday. The season is typically marked with fasting, giving or charitable acts, and reflection. While lent is a somber time of reflection and remembrance, it is most importantly an invitation to draw near to our Father.
I’ve always viewed this 40 day season with a mix of relief and curiosity. Relief that I could eat my favorite cadbury mini eggs without guilt and curiosity of what might happen if I too say no to something good for 40 days.
This year, I’ve put some extra thought into my lenten practices (thanks Sacred Ordinary Days!) and desire to enjoy God more instead of just doing things for him or rushing through my quiet time to check it off the list.
Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps by a life more marked by routine than reflection
Whenever I would think or pray about lent, I kept coming back to viewing these 40 days as a retreat and set-apart time investing in my relationship with my heavenly Father. And you know what the number one thing stopping me is…TV (I think Instagram is a close 2nd though!).
I’ve traded the richness of his presence for shallow entertainment. Now, don’t get me wrong I love a good baking competition, historical mini-series, or laugh until you cry comedy. But, my go to during the past few months when I’m tired or lonely or had a long day has been to turn on the TV and just veg out. And friends, as soon as I realised that I knew that one of the hardest and best things I could do for this season is to turn off the TV.
A life that is grace-filled begins with a deep knowledge of who we are in Christ, His beloved children. For me during this lenten season, I want to anchor myself in the knowledge of WHOSE I am.
In true Emily fashion, I made list of 40ish different things that bring LIFE to my days.
Create: water color, knitting, baking…
Connect: family dinner, tea with a friend, bible study, or online class.
Worship: be still, worship music, listen to a sermon, prayer walk..
Rest: take a nap, long baths, hike outside, journal and read…
These are more than just “screen free activities”, but are the rhythms in my life that connect me to my Creator. I want to spend the next 40 days not just living life but to savor a long walk and see the sunset or sketch a little watercolor reflecting on that mornings Psalm so that I see Him more clearly.
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)