Friends, it is my (our) birthday weekend! I'm a twin, in case you didn't know. Being a twin is one of my top favorite things in life-ever. I'm also a HUGE birthday fan. I like to plan full days of celebrating for my family members and have put just as much thought into my own birthday as well. I've also been inspired to write a quick "What I've Learned" birthday post this morning, inspired by the Art of Simple blog. As I browsed through these photos and gazed at the detail in each one I could sense that summer is coming to an end (gulp, tears, my favorite season) and fall is coming around the corner soon. Although I have my favorite season, I'm a fan of choosing a rosy attitude no matter the time of year. So, let's do a quick-fire round (meaning I didn't overthink this post!) of what I've learned as a 32, almost 33-year old! Or a.k.a. "All the random thoughts about me that popped into my head", lol.
1.) No one has everything figured out. That "perfect" photo you see on Instagram? I can guarantee it is probably surrounded by piles of dishes, trash to be taken out, or at least the person behind the camera has doubts, fears, and questions just like you do. Or at least this is truth at my house. We are all just trying to do the best job we can.
2.) Which leads me to this one. Jesus is it. He is my strength, the reason I get up in the morning, the reason I can paint, pursue adoption, be a wife and mama. He's breath in my lungs, joy in my heart, FUN!, and my everything. I have that one thing figured out-Jesus is everything.
3.) Food, cooking, and being in the kitchen does wonders for my soul. I used to despise the kitchen. My first black and burned meal as a wife was evidence of that. I just wasn't good in there and didn't know the complete refuge that can come when stirring the pot, slicing the okra and noticing the beautiful pattern, or smelling an aroma that is heavenly. Now, I do. There is almost nothing better than reading a cookbook, trying a new recipe, or gathering the ones I love around the table.
4.) I like my private life. I used to feel pressure (from where?) to post every thought, dream, fear, question, etc. on social media in the argument of "being real." Let me instead be real with you and say a huge portion of my life never makes it to the internet and that is on purpose. My closest friends? You probably couldn't pick them from a crowd. All the books I read? I like to keep some for myself and not to share. The best/richest moments of my life? Probably don't get shared. Or at least not all of them. Or at least not "in the moment", like we are taught is right to do.
5.) I do love Instagram and this blog. I really, really do! Just because I don't feel like posting EVERY thing doesn't mean I'm anti-social media. I love to weave a snippet of our story on social media and looking back at this journey does wonders for my soul.
6.) Gilmore Girls, Adele, singing in the car, coffee with almond milk, dark chocolate, spiderwebs, fog, cows, twinkle lights, bunting, art!!!, good, homegrown food, date nights on the deck, naps, quiet, a good pair of jeans (Old Navy), mascara, homemade quilts, junk, gathering people.....
7.) My best energy goes for my people. That means my immediate and extended family, the ministries I help with, my close circle of friends, my neighbors, etc. The circles closest to me get the best and first energy. That is tough because the outer circles won't always understand. But at the end of the day I have to be able to say I served my kingdom well. Meaning my husband feels loved and valued, my kids feel nourished and challenged and so loved, my friends feel taken care of, and my adoption story hasn't just been on the "to do" list.
8.) Travel is where it's at. I ADORE travel. Whether it be a farm drive, going to Eureka Springs, splashing in the White River, driving to Kansas City, or planning a trip far away, I adore it. I am equal parts homebody and smitten with wanderlust.
*Example-Brett calls saying his work flight is overbooked and should he sign up for a BIG travel voucher to take another flight? No questions asked for me-YES!*
9.) There is nothing like a good book.
10.) Cat humor (among other sarcastic things) is funny to me.
11.) Photography does wonders for the soul. Not just for those of us who call ourselves photographers. For everyone. Pick up your phone/camera today and try to take a picture of something that catches your eye. See how you feel after.
12.) The scale doesn't rule me. I'm learning to eat what keeps me energized and feeling top-knotch physically. This feels against the norm. I am not a fan of "before/after" photos. I wish we could see inside the mind instead. I adore food. I truly love it. I could never eat like a rabbit just to be 10 pounds thinner. I used to do that. Not anymore!
13.) I think our minds and physical bodies are so closely linked. I've learned this subject fascinates me. What fuels anxiety/depression? What helps rid our bodies of these toxic things? A subject I could read about and discuss for days.
14.) Slow is good. I like slow conversations, slow journeys (ok, except for this slow adoption one), "low and slow" food, slow blogging, and slow living.
15.) Adoption matters. Foster care matters. Orphan care matters. Living outside our comfort zone matters because there are so many, many, many lives needing help. Scripture calls us to action. What that will look like for each person is so very different. My story isn't yours and vice-versa. I have a mini novel written about this topic. People ask how we're doing with it all. Some days I'm ok. Some days I'm totally not ok, so many options and needs to consider.
16.) I love reading blogs and browsing Pinterest. Pinterest isn't overwhelming or full of negative feelings like it is for a lot of people. It is my happy place, my big treat to myself.
17.) I'm still terrible at responding to emails, blog comments, and IG comments. I'm still trying to get better.
18.) La Croix is wonderful.
19.) Netflix!!!!!! (is my fave).
20.) Photo shoots are my jam. I never knew how much I would truly love them. I do, truly love them.
21.) I'm a HUGE magazine fan. Like I subscribe to a lot. Love 'em.
22.) I could paint for days and days and days. I'm finally learning how to do it in small increments. But I long for a full day to paint.
23.) Local chocolate is my fave. (Kayaa and Hello Cocoa)
24.) Candles are mood-changers. My twin always has a candle going and her house feels so peaceful.
25.) My farm life is my favorite. As much as I love NYC and other BIG, booming places, it's the quiet calling of farm life that tends my soul the best.
26.) I've been surprised to learn that the whole "less is more" thing is actually true. So is "Live Simply". Like I probably got rid of 30-35 HUGE trash bags of stuff from my home within the last month and I feel more free than I have...maybe ever. Before we were spending so much time managing our stuff/fighting about our stuff/nagging to clean up our stuff we didn't have time for lingering at the table, impromptu playing, or arts and crafts.
Now we do. Less stuff has opened up a whole new world to us.
27.) Speaking of "A whole new world", they simply don't make Disney's like they used to. It is my favorite thing to sit down and watch a Disney movie I viewed as a kiddo.
28.) Reconnecting with college friends is my fave. Recently I've chatted with several ladies I attended college with and it was just like we'd seen each other yesterday. Even though it's been years and college feels like a whole different world in my life. Even though we've been married and had babies. We just picked right back up where we left off. I adore those "old" friendships.
29.) I also really love musicals. I introduced the girls to the Music Man soundtrack this week and we are all singing along every time we're in the car.
30.) I prefer to get parenting advice/all other advice from only a handful of people. My twin is my "go-to" for parenting advice!
31.) I do the "dread mill" (treadmill) and punch my fists in the air at the same time. WORK-out.
32.) My Etsy shop hit 100 SALES this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
33.) My bday weekend will hopefully include: peanut-butter filled pretzels, seeing friends, sparklers, birthday candles, a hotel stay, shopping, reading books, podcast listening, maybe a nap, photographing a backyard wedding (my first!!), grilled burgers by Brett, some crafting, a picnic, the river, and being with my precious people.