Are you drifting?

Over the weekend we were blessed with some amazing weather and family time. We spent time down at the lake kayaking and playing and climbing on the rocks. We saw the shoreline with new eyes and possibilities. We collected and carried. We stacked and researched. We thought about where these pieces of driftwood came from and about their journey before landing on the shore.

When I look at these pieces of driftwood I think about how they are very similar to me. I have drifted from place to place and weathered some storms and basked in the sun and beauty of warm summer days. Some days I float easily and peacefully while other days I get a little beat up by the waves of life and wonder where I will land. I wonder what my purpose is at this place and at this time. Am I wedged too tight between the rocks to be released in order to find new purpose and life? Will I allow myself to welcome new possibilities?

When I look at this collection of treasures I see not only possibilities for the driftwood, I see possibilities for myself. What will they (we) become? Come with me on the journey…

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Water inspires again…

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I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed and this post by The Thirst Project, stop in my tracks…

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been thinking about happiness and where I am in my life. I have been searching and wondering if I am doing what I am “supposed” to be doing. What do I want to be when I grow up? I realized that I have been coming at this from the wrong direction. I instantly felt like I had some of the answers to my questions. Even if the purpose of life isn’t happiness, I believe that being useful, honorable, compassionate and making a difference in the lives of others truly is the source of happiness and contentment.

I have told you that I find inspiration from and seek out water for my peace and renewal. I am realizing just how fortunate I am to have such an abundance of this natural resource. I want to use my love for water as a way to help those who do not have access to fresh, clean water in order to live healthy, productive lives.

I cannot imagine being a mom to my three kids and not knowing how I would provide clean water for them to drink today. Can you? Think about looking into those thirsty little eyes. Think about wondering how to provide for them. Think about walking miles and miles to get water for them and then turning around to haul the water miles and miles back to your village. Can you even imagine?

Useful. Honorable. Compassionate. Maybe I can do my little part to spread the word about the needs of others. Maybe I can do my part to help raise awareness and funds for others who are in need. Stay tuned as I find my way to the well…

Invisible Moms

I was so blessed to witness the Confirmation of our oldest daughter at church today. When the bishop was talking to the candidates he told them that they were all here today because their parents were fulfilling their confirmation gift and promises to share their faith. At baptism we as parents bring our children to the church. We teach them and show them love. It reminds me of the saying that we give our children roots and wings. We start by giving our children a foundation of faith and God’s love and then we give them wings to go and share that love with others.

It all seems to have happened so fast! Where did that little baby go who we held in our arms and offered for baptism? She is now a beautiful young lady who has a heart of gold! She has so much love to share that I have no doubt that she will fulfill her confirmation promises and gifts by sharing God’s love with those she encounters throughout her life. She is a blessing!

I have many days when I feel that my job is not very glamorous or important. My days are spent doing household chores and taxiing the kids to their activities. I sometimes feel like my wheels are spinning and I am not doing anything important.

I read this as a blog post on another blog today. I have read it before. I think I was meant to read it again today. I believe it is a message that God wanted me to hear today. Even when I feel the things I am doing aren’t very important, God sees them. I am building a cathedral in my children. All of the times I listen when they need my ears. Every time I talk to them about how to use kind, caring words when they talk to each other and about others. Every time I hug them and say “I love you.” Building. Perfecting. Giving.

Being a mother is like creating impressionist art. When you stand really close and look at every brush stroke you can miss the beauty. It is not until you stand back to observe the creation as a whole that you can really see its beauty. Thank you for today and the opportunity to stand back and adore the beauty of my daughter and the incredible gift I have been given in being a mother. Thank you for the reality check and for helping me to see just how rewarding and amazing my job is!

Blessings through raindrops...

I received an e-mail from my son-in-law the other day. It was addressed to my daughter and I.
I’m sure she gets e-mails from him often, but this is not a common occurrence for me.

So I was a little surprised…pleasantly so!

He prefaced the story below with a personal note. I have not included the personal note, but suffice it to say, it was very kind and thoughtful, expressing much gratitude and love!

I have to say, if he keeps doing stuff like this, we might just keep him around! 🙂 (Just teasing!) He’s a good guy!

It’s obvious that he loves my daughter very much, and he is adjusting to the role of being a new Dad quite well!

I hope the story encourages you as much as it did me!

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Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the…

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I’m baaaack….

After a month and a half of illness around here, we decided to get the real therapy we all needed and head to the beach! We were so fortunate that we could look at this:

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And do this:

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We even tried for a self portrait:

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And I love this picture:

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I’m refreshed and ready to go! I have lots of things in the works for the blog so be on the lookout for new projects and content coming soon!

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The Silver Lining

Whew. That flu was awful! I have never been completely out of commission the way I was for the six days I was sequestered to my end of the couch. You see, on the Tuesday morning of the day I ended up sick on Tuesday evening, my dear husband woke up with the stomach flu. He was REALLY sick. He was sequestered to our bedroom. I brought him things he needed. I remember as a child that my mom would give us a bell to ring if we needed her. Well, thank goodness for technology because our new means of communication of the glass of water, Motrin, Sprite…is a nice little text message. It saved us from trying to yell up and down the stairs or heaven forbid walking up and down twice as many times as needed!

I ran the errands that needed to be run to prepare for our son’s birthday which was the next day, took the kids to all of their activities, and started dinner. I asked if the kids could keep an eye on the things I had started for dinner and said I needed to lay on the couch for a few minutes. An hour later I was shivering uncontrollably. I think the kids thought I was about to die. I kind of felt like it! The fever and body aches took over and persisted for days. Thank goodness the stomach flu my husband had was a much faster recovery. He and the kids took over. The next day I was still on my germy end of the couch (due to the previously occupied bedroom with stomach flu germs)  about 10 feet away from the dining table where the rest of the family celebrated my son’s 12th birthday. Everyone was careful to not enter my imaginary germ bubble. We tried to be so careful. I tried to not leave my bubble unless absolutely necessary and then I did my best to touch as few things as possible.

Thursday was Valentine’s day. Thank goodness for the two weeks of love note valentines I made for my family.  If it weren’t for those, I would not have been able to muster up the energy to get my sweet loves anything. I didn’t realize how much that project was going to save me this year!

On Friday morning, still chained to the couch, my phone rang. Shoot! It was the school. Our oldest daughter was in the clinic with a fever. NOOOO…… I knew how miserable I was and I would have done anything for them to avoid the pain of the body aches, the lack of appetite, the headache. Poor Alexandra. This is the fourth time this year she has been sick. She had been such a trooper picking up the slack for me. She cleaned the kitchen. She helped everyone get things done and ready for school. She was such a blessing and now she too was sick. She apologized for my having to drive to the school to get her when she knew I still felt like dirt. I didn’t mind. I just felt so bad that she was starting on the path that I had been living all week. She walked down to her bedroom and I brought her Motrin and a drink. Again, THANK GOODNESS for technology. We easily communicated back and forth as to what she needed and I only had to pry myself from the couch when necessary.

The next day was a basketball tournament. I love watching Christian and his friends play basketball! Not today. I would never have been able to sit on those bleachers for the four games he played. Watching basketball games as a mother of a player is very hard work! My body was not yet able to move. Alexandra surfaced from her bedroom on Saturday afternoon and took over the other end of the couch. I kept Adrianne home with us just in case she was the next one to drop. Fortunately that never happened!

Now what is the silver lining of the week of fever and misery you ask? The silver lining is that all afternoon and evening on that Saturday I spent time with my girls. None of us were busy doing anything. We simply laid around in our pajamas and watched girl movies on Netflix. As crumby as it was to be sick, I don’t remember the last time we just hung out together doing nothing. The next day we did more of the same. We spent our time together just enjoying each other and trying our best to unite and fight off the evil flu. When I look at my kids I am painfully aware that all of a sudden life seems to be flying by much too quickly.

Alexandra received a letter of acceptance to a high school during her time at home sick. High school. I cannot believe my baby is going to be in high school. So, the silver lining is that through being forced to slow down, actually come to a screeching halt, I realized that I need to truly carve out time with the kids to enjoy them no matter what craziness is going on in our lives. The time gets completely filled up with activities and the busyness of daily life. I don’t want to look back when they are grown and gone and wish that I had stopped to enjoy having them with me. My challenge to myself and I will challenge you too is to stop and smell the roses. (Or in our case, lay on the couch and watch girl movies.) So Flu, as much as I hated you, THANK YOU.

Flu view

I had lots of things I wanted to do on here over the last week but the flu has not cooperated! So, I just thought I’d share my north coast frigid water view. Seems like every time I wake up from a nap the view has changed a little. That’s one of the fun things about winter on the lake. Hope you enjoy the view! Stay healthy!!

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Sisterhood of the Gift from the Sea Traveling Bracelet

I just returned from a wonderful college girlfriends weekend of reminiscing, sharing, empathizing and updating. Six of us were able to manage to getaway for the weekend and leave our willing and able husbands in charge of the 16 children we now have in our lives. When we all moved into the same house 23 years ago we could have never imagined the friendship we would develop that would last a lifetime. It’s funny how we can still feel like we are 20 year olds but the topic of conversation has changed from what classes we are signing up for or the new guy we are dating to college applications, high school and sports schedules for our children.

A few years ago I was watching Rachel Ray and saw her talking about a book that was released called The Necklace, Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis.

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In this book thirteen women purchased a diamond necklace together that they would each take turns having in their possession. Each woman got the necklace for a month at a time. On Rachel Ray she had a small group of women in New York try the same type of experiment with a necklace that they chose and they came on the show to talk about their experience with selecting the necklace and how it went sharing the jewelry. They would get together and discuss what had happened while the necklace was in their possession.

This got me to thinking about how I could do something like this with my college girlfriends. We try to get together once a year. We started out meeting at Christmas time when we were home visiting our families. We would go out to a restaurant and catch up on the previous year. We almost all had married our college boyfriends so it was fun to see everyone and talk about our newlywed lives and new careers. Then the babies started coming along so we moved our meeting locations to one of our parents homes so the kids could play while we visited. As the kids got a little older we would meet at one of our homes or a hotel in the summer for a reunion. As the kids got older, schedules got more difficult to manage and that is when the girls weekends began. Although it is a major accomplishment to have stayed in touch throughout all of these years, I wanted to do something else too to keep our bond strong.

So, what should we share? Given the fact that we are spread out over three states, we will need to mail the item. Hmmm…diamond necklaces are cool, but expensive. I knew it would have to be something else. This whole idea of mailing something between us got me to thinking about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.

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Ok, really…we did share clothes in college but shipping a pair of pants around for a bunch of 30-40 year olds to share? I have pants in my own closet that sometimes I can wear, and sometimes I can’t. No, it’s not going to be pants. But, that is the concept. Along with the item we would share I would send a journal. In the journal we would write down things that happened during that month. We would also include a picture of each of us wearing the item. But what would the item be?

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A third book came to mind as I was thinking about this project and it is one that I wanted to share with my friends. This is a book that my mother-in-law gave to me shortly after I got married. I have to admit, I read it and I didn’t really get it. I wasn’t ready to get it yet. I didn’t have enough life experience to get it yet. But now, as I have re-read the book several times, I get it. The book is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

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In this book she writes about the different stages of life and relates them to shells she discovers on her beach retreat alone. She was in the stage of life that we all are right now. Mothers with busy lives of maintaining our homes and raising our children and keeping up with their schedules. She was discovering who she is and where she fits in now and what her life has in store for her as the seasons of life change. I could now relate to the book since I have passed through and entered into the season of life she was experiencing. I highly recommend this book for mothers! Not only is the beach my retreat as well, she so eloquently describes her experiences and the feeling that she needs to simplify her life once she returns home. I think that is one of the most fabulous things about the beach. The simple joy of listening to the water, looking for shells, feeling the warm sand beneath your feet. Time at the beach is relaxing and rejuvenating all at the same time. She took the shells she collected, related them to the stages of life and then took the shells home with her to not only remind her of her time at the beach but also of how precious and unique each stage of our lives are. This is why I wanted to share this book with my friends. They have been with me through so many stages of life. We share and relate to each other and support each other no matter what we are facing. That is when it came to me. We would share a bracelet that I had fallen in love with when I saw it.

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So I guess we have come up with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Gift from the Sea Bracelet. This is symbolic of our friendship and of all of the support we have given each other in the past. It represents the bond we share that we will use to support each other through joyful moments as well as trying moments any of us experience. This was my Knotical Inspiration with my friends. I hope it inspires you to keep in touch with those you love in a special way!  Thanks to my friends for all of the love and support throughout the years! I hope you continue to enjoy the bracelet! Also, thanks for always making me feel like a 20 year old again when we are together!

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Love Notes

I have learned many things about myself over the years. One of the things I have learned is that I’m not the best giver of affirmation. I don’t know why. I guess I’m good at saying things that are on the surface, or the big picture, but the specific deep in my heart words are harder to say. I tell each person in my family that I love them every day. Usually more than once! But for some reason, I have this deep fear that even though they know that I love them, they don’t know HOW I love them. I’m so afraid that when they are grown and have left the house that the voice they hear in their heads will be “Pick that up. Put that away. If you used it, you clean it. Stop arguing….we aren’t even out of the garage yet. Why…..” (Well, I try not to ask why.) I want them to remember how and why I loved them.

As I was thinking about this one day I started to develop my Valentine plan. It has progressed little by little over the last couple of weeks. The kids don’t know what I’m doing but they know I am working on something. The bags of conversation hearts (that they drooled over since I don’t buy much candy) were their first clue. “Mom, what are the candy hearts for?” I simply told them “a project”. “Mom, can we have just a few?” I said no. See what a nice mom I am? Well, somebody tried to be sneaky and did open a bag but carefully scotch taped it back. 🙂

I think part of me didn’t want to tell them much because I wanted it to be a surprise and part of me was afraid I wouldn’t get it together and finish it. For those of you who read my post about my big chalkboard in the kitchen, the weekly challenge this week is FOLLOW THROUGH. I am REALLY good at big ideas. Sometimes I have such big ideas that I don’t actually have the time to complete them. Sometimes I work so hard at perfecting an idea that it actually cripples me and I don’t get it done because I never quite get it perfect. So, if you look at this blog and wonder why it is so simple and why I haven’t done….whatever I should have done, it is because I am working really hard these days to Just Do It! My new theory is: It is better to do something that is not perfect than to do nothing at all.

So, today I spent my day not doing laundry or running errands or making and checking off to do lists. Today I took my day to focus on my family and preparing to SHOW them how much I love them…through two weeks of LOVE NOTES.

Step 1: Write a note to each person in my family for each of the first 14 days of February.

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Step 2: Put a note-wrapped chocolate in each of the labeled heart shaped boxes. The idea is that this is kind of like a cross between an “advent” calendar (only it’s for Valentines day) and fortune cookies which are personalized with love notes for each person in my family. Get it…It’s from my heart to theirs!

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Step 3: I used these as the center piece to our dining table along with mason jars full of conversation hearts. In each of the candy-filled mason jars I placed chalkboard signs with family love messages. I haven’t decided if the messages will remain the same the entire two weeks or not…

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Final step: I decided in order to make this work for me, I had to sit down and write all of the notes and get them ready for each day. I know how it goes around here. I get busy during the day and then I get tired and forgetful at night. I didn’t want to drop the ball on this! I will probably set an alarm to remind myself to fill them each night. I learned that the hard way when the Elf on the Shelf was visiting! If I didn’t set an alarm, sometimes he forgot to go see Santa and was sitting in the same spot the next day! So here is my final preparation…

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The box is filled with love just waiting to be shared! I am heading out of town for the next couple of days so I have my willing and able assistant, my husband, standing in while I am gone. I hope they enjoy their treats and love notes each day! Wishing you and your families much love and happiness!

Winter survival

Do you have any strategies that you use to help survive the winter or get you through to your next tropical getaway? One of my favorites is Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Breeze. When I use the shower gel and lotion I just close my eyes and pretend I am at the beach! Isn’t it great that a familiar smell can help whisk you away to another time or place? If you get the winter blues like I do, give this little trick a try!

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What is the inspiration behind Knotical Inspiration?

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I chose to begin this blog a couple of weeks ago without totally starting at the beginning. I decided to jump right in and get the ball rolling with a few things that were on my mind. Now I would like to take a little more time to share with you my inspiration for Knotical Inspiration.

I love the water. I love the beach. I love the sun. I’m not sure when my obsession began but my family did own a camp store at a small lake when I was growing up. Our store was at the beach which is where I spent all of my free time when I wasn’t helping in the store. Maybe this was the first spark.

My next most vivid memory came to me the other night when my husband and I were doing an activity at a workshop where we were supposed to share something from before we met. We were practicing active listening. That is when it came to me. The first time I ever saw the gorgeous blue water of the ocean. I was very fortunate to get to go on a trip to Hawaii my senior year of high school. I was among a small group of friends who went “all the way” in Girl Scouts. In order to earn our Gold Award, we ran a small silk screening business. Now that I am a Girl Scout leader I can truly appreciate the time and commitment of our troop leaders in assisting us on that project! We used the profit from the business to fund our trip. I remember going on a sunset dinner cruise while we were there and just staring over the rail into the deep blue water of the ocean. I was mesmerized at the natural beauty. I did not know that spectacular color really existed in nature until that moment. I was in love. I was in love with the water. I was in love with the beach. I was in love with the amazing colorful fish we saw when we were snorkeling. I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me and the peace I felt. I think this was the beginning of my personal definition of vacation.

I met my husband in college. We fortunately both have a love of all things beach and water related. He grew up near the shore of Lake Erie surrounded by some lovely islands which are right off of the coast where he grew up. We loved going to visit his family in college and getting to enjoy the lake. I don’t think we have ever planned a vacation that did not involve water in our 20+ years together. When we had the opportunity to move to the small coastal town where we currently live, we were thrilled. Over the last 8 years we have gradually migrated closer to the shore and we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to look out our back windows everyday to the changing waterscape of Lake Erie. It truly adds so much peace and tranquility to our lives and we feel so blessed to have this experience.

We subscribe to Coastal Living magazine and I was very intrigued by an article in the February 2013 issue titled “Why the Beach Makes Us Happy”. In the article they discuss elements of the beach and what it is that makes us happy. Scientists are beginning to do research as to what it is about the water, sand, salt air that triggers happiness for so many people. I admit that sometimes I think it is crazy how much I crave time at the beach and how planning a beach vacation actually helps me to make it through the long, cold winters we have here in Ohio. But apparently, I am not alone. Apparently I am not altogether crazy to feel like the beach does really make me happier.

So, getting back to the inspiration of Knotical Inspiration, I want to share the peace, love and tranquility that I get from living near the water, vacationing at the beach and decorating our home to reflect the love we have for all things beachy. Not only do I love nautical decorations, I also love fashion and jewelry related to the beach and I will share that too. A friend once said to me “I can’t decorate my house like a beach cottage the way you do because I don’t live near the water.” I am coming to realize why that is not true. I think your home should be a reflection of what you love and makes you happy. I think how you dress should be a reflection of what you love and makes you happy.

I chose Knotical instead of Nautical not only because I like the fun of a play on words but also because of the visual of the rope tying together our family’s love and faith. Our own kind of nautical love knot! I chose Anchored in Faith as a reminder to myself that my underlying goal in all I do should be a strong faith. If the things I share and do are not Anchored in Faith, maybe I should re-evaluate what I’m doing.

I hope you find some peace, love and tranquility through Knotical Inspiration and that you will find your own ways to express happiness with your family and in your home.