Never Lost

It snowed earlier this week.  I can still hardly believe it! Actually, it iced a bit with some sleet thrown in and just enough snow flakes to delight us.  It was bitterly cold which I must confess was secretly thrilling for a few seconds at least, because Arkansas winters are usually so mild I had forgotten what it felt like to be that cold.  If you've been here long though you know I am a summer gal through and through.  Give me a tan, shorts, camping, digging my hands in the garden, and a trip to the river and I am HAPPY.  I mean, I just adore summer.  Still, every year winter rolls around and as always in life, I figure I can either make the best of it or mope around.  Sometimes it takes me putting one foot in front of the other to come out on the rosy side. I don't think people realize that about me.  I am usually hailed as someone who is very bright and positive and while that does ring true, it doesn't always come natural to me.  Sometimes I have to make myself put on an outfit I feel confident in and then the confidence comes.  Most times I make myself exercise, because I know my mental health will soar afterwards.  These little joy habits are what fuel my positivity.  I forever believe in the power of positivity.  So as we enter this season that I naturally want to say feels dark and cold, I fight back with light, art, and taking really good care of myself. 

 Sometimes when my mind gets on an anxious loop I find myself obsessively making lists or being so wound up I can't seem to relax.  Or the WORST-scrolling my phone forever without even knowing why I'm doing it.  It's like a train barreling down the tracks.  The wrong track at that! 

Something I've had a bit of a revelation about this week is that the simple act of making calms my heart, mind, and body faster and more effectively than the anxious things above. If you've read this blog for any amount of time you will look back at me and say "well....yeah. So?"  because it's not like this is a new lightbulb moment for me to figure out.  I've just realized the times I have been most relaxed, felt most like myself, and truly experienced self-care lately, were when I was making something.  This kind of IS a new revelation to me as I am now a full-time working mama, about to begin my master's degree.  Of course I knew how much making filled me up in a previous season of life, where the minutes for making were plentiful.  I only dream of days now when 2 hour nap times happened on the regular.  There isn't much wiggle room to my days in this season, but at the same time I can choose to make things with my hands and be rewarded with the time I do have.
This weekend my favorite moments were: 
finishing a book
writing in my journal
loading/unloading firewood with Brett
holding Brett's hand
painting leaves
picking out cute wrapping paper and tags for Christmas
baking gingerbread
smelling molasses
sitting by the warm fire
rubbing my favorite coconut moisturizer on my face
petting my bro-in-law's new puppy
listening to this song over and over and over......

The name of this song ties it all together for me.  When I've felt lost, I realize now I haven't been.  Jesus and honoring the artist in me have always given light to my path. Always. 
Such a sweet reminder that living life with Jesus means I never lose. 
When I feel my self-confidence plummet, Jesus is my rescuer. 
When I am tired and weary, Jesus grants me rest. 
Jesus helps me put one foot in front of the other, He is the ultimate MAKER, and I'm so thankful for the power of positivity He has instilled in me to fight back against the dark.

I hope you find your light amongst the dark, the power in the positive, and remember that even when you feel lost, Jesus has you. 

Hello November.

 I was glad to see October go. 
Usually when I think thoughts like these I tell myself-"You're being dramatic."
But this thought felt legit and ok to say.  October 1 is when our dog Bouncy got run over.  It's complicated and still very heartbreaking, but I'll just say that we ended up having to put her to sleep.  I still can't think about it without having to quickly swallow my tears.  I'll miss her forever. 

We've also had several rounds of sickness making their way through our family (minus Brett) over the past month. Nothing major. I think I ended the cycle with a sinus infection that I am on antibiotics for currently and Betsy now has a daily inhaler for her cough so things are looking up. 

On a positive note, I had several exciting things happening at work last month! We got to attend the True Lit festival at the Fayetteville Public Library, as well as have award-winning author Matt De La Pena visit our school.  So it wasn't all meh last month.  
Still, hello November.  Please hold more promise of positivity than last month! Pretty please! 
 Still no matter what, in whatever season or day or mood I find myself in, I pick up my camera.  I can't not.  I can't imagine life where I didn't stop to document the beauty and light that continues to fill the cracks and crevices.  Usually when I feel most broken or life does in places, that's when the most light gets in.  I admit, I continue to struggle with the desire to post on social media.  Believe it or not! It just feels more like a chore lately, for some reason.  When I quickly suggested to Brett that I might quit blogging he responded back-"don't do that."  I was surprised he had such an opinion on it. And no, this was not in a controlling way.  He rarely has such a strong opinion on things so when he does I listen.  He's right, it's worth it to show up here.  I've been at this for 12 years.  Can you believe it?! If I've inspired even one or two of you-consider it my greatest pleasure to show the rosy side of life.   

Here's a look at fall 2019.
 Cooking bacon (my fave) always produces the most magical beam of light/smoke.
 Afternoon autumn light just makes me swoon. This is a very typical look at our dining room table.  Always full of little stacks and surprises the girls have left.

 The leaves, light, and frost on the back deck in the morning is pure magic! This lucky morning I actually had time to snap two photos.

 This is the view I woke up to this morning. 
I slept in (getting over being sick) and Brett came in, pulled the curtain back, and watched my face break into a delighted smile.  Isn't this view just the loveliest?!
 I helped Betsy with her crystal growing kit and we have all been delighted with the progress! How do those crystals even grow around the outside? I don't get it but I'm all here for it!
 Pretty back deck vignette! 
I am really soaking up these colors before winter turns everything grey.
 My whole heart.

 Leaf piles are a yearly joy!

 The "before".
I actually painted these, inspiration thanks to Mary Wangerin. My internet BFF.
 You guys-this is the view behind my house. 
Golden magic!

 One of my kiddos took these random shots of me and I adore them. I'm so rarely IN the photos.  I don't like that. So I'm happy that the girls are at an age old enough that I can hand my Nikon off to them.  I think they do great with the Nikon! That is thanks to YEARS of me letting them use it.  
 Complete, utter ART that tiny mushroom!
A pretty bouquet beautiful Anna picked.

 The girls' chalk drawings are my absolute fave. 
I know for sure I will miss these when they get older.
 Something very behind-the-scenes I'm still deeply enjoying is art journaling.  
Long ago I documented each page and every single stroke with my paintbrush by clicking my camera.  These days I'm journaling just as much.  I don't find myself photographing every page though.  I read an awesome quote on Lisa Congdon's IG recently that said "Find what feeds you." 

YES and amen.  Art feeds me.  Either you get that or you don't. 
I completely need it like I need to breathe.
I think everyone should have something like that.  That brings them joy in the secret, quiet places of their life.  Not something that's always front and center for others to like, heart, or profit from. That's just my old school, pre-IG/social media self talking. 
 Something else that feeds me? 
Obvs, since I'm a librarian.  Books and art are my greatest joy, my quickest counselor, my deepest me too, my greatest understanding.

 Painted these little mantra cards.
The first page of my new art journal. 
I love a fresh start.
I've lost count how many art journals I've filled up.  I've thought about getting them all out and photographing them.  All I know is, I always have an art journal ready to fill.  And I always fill them and start another.  Same with written journals. 

Some other things on my mind: 
We have two family birthdays coming up and Thanksgiving/Christmas. I have presents and plans on my mind. 

My prayer list for others is currently long.  I pray for people a lot, especially while driving. My biggest prayer for myself lately is that my heart would be well hidden in God's.  I picture a tiny heart nestled inside a big one.  Then I picture anything and everything I desire, ask, worry about, pray for, care about leaving my heart and bumping up against the perimeters of God's.  I want all of me to stay inside of God's perimeters.  It's the best place to be in life. The absolute best place for Earth and Eternity both. 

Switching gears quickly-still loving snapping photos on my phone of everyday rosy life and of my outfits.  Need to share more of both.

Cooking a lot lately. (home food is better than restaurant food)

Enjoying: bulletproof coffee, fires in the fireplace, This is Us, kettle bell exercise, fall afternoons, my Leverett Lion kids at school, the anticipation of starting GRAD SCHOOL (yep-you read that right. Master's degree here I come), and slowing down. 

The slowing down part deserves a post of its own.  I'm trying not to get lost in the shuffle of my life basically.  Which all circles back around to why showing up on this blog and taking the photos and pausing to notice the beauty is like putting a stake in the ground for good. 

Your turn: What are you watching/savoring/slowing down for? Are you happy to see another month go? Anticipating the holidays or dreading them?

"Be a witness"

 I haven't blogged or written on IG much about my job because something I've really felt strongly about this year is having a bit of space between the two.  Between my personal and professional life, that is.  However, sometimes it's crazy cool how the two worlds intersect.  We recently hosted award-winning author Matt De La Pena at our school.  He has written a lot of books, one of which is called Last Stop on Market Street.  The book is all about finding the beautiful in the ordinary, which you know is exactly my cup of tea.  During his talk to the students he said something along the lines of whatever you see is your truth.  If you look around and see dirt and bad things-you're right.  But if you look around you and see the beautiful and interesting things in life-you're right too.  It validated something in me, hearing that.  A lot of times I feel like a very silly grown-up in her late 30's still blogging away about the rosy side of life.  So to hear another grown-up say it was "right" to look around for the good stuff. Well, that's the GOOD stuff right there.  Made this rosy gal very happy to hear! 

He also signed books for the kids with this inscription-"Be a witness." 
These are my stories lately, as seen through my lens.
This is me being a witness.

My cat wonders how you can be a witness to your own world? 
(doesn't it look like she's smiling?!)

Feeling my photography has changed.

 For so long I chased photography hard as a side hobby and/or business.  This suited me quite well and gave me something to focus on besides the laundry while being a stay-at-home mom.  No regrets here! Lately though, I've felt my focus shift entirely.  Really, it's been a long time coming.  A lot of it does have to do with the obvious reason that I'm working full-time now.  But it's really even more than that.  Something deep within me has shifted.  Can't put a name to it and I don't have a million words to say.  I'm not doing photo sessions and this feels freeing.  Instead, I've been grabbing my camera to come along for the ride, whatever the ride happens to be.  This feels like becoming a storyteller.  My own storyteller. 

Here are the few captures I took over the past few days. 

It's exciting/new/different to feel like your season is shifting. 
Your thoughts?

Never Lost

It snowed earlier this week.  I can still hardly believe it! Actually, it iced a bit with some sleet thrown in and just enough snow flake...