Links That Think 4-28-17

Happy Friday! Per usual, the week flew by. No news is good news. Except I honestly couldn’t tell you what I did with myself without looking back at the calendar to jog my memory. I must admit, I’ve been on serious autopilot lately which doesn’t give me warm fuzzies. But still, it was a good’n! Novella and I have had a handful of incredibly touching moments: when she asked me to go on a walk (and I obviously obliged), when she discovered she actually has 2 Elmos, and her newfound love of 5-minute hugs. She also has 3 of her molars coming in now, so while she will be done with teething soon, we had a couple of rough nights.

There hasn’t been a ton of down time this week, but here are a few things that made me think this week:

 

I Thought I Was Important Too “When you build a financial life based on consuming, you feel like there’s a bottomless pit inside you. Even if you have a ton of it. It never gets filled up because you’re going about the whole thing backwards. You deplete. Just like me.” This is a concept I constantly and consistently struggle with but nonetheless fight against the current. On that note…

Kim Kardashian’s Interview on Ellen You know, I don’t do The Book anymore, but I can guess pretty much everyone has seen this already via shares. I read a transcript of it. (Can’t even remember how that happened.) And it’s just kind of stuck with me. Yes, Kim still talks like Kim, but the heart of the message really struck a chord with me, especially when she said she gets to be this mom to her kids now. In this interview, she singlehandedly went from being out of touch to completely relatable. I felt her heart so much in this that I wondered if she might want to go to coffee and hash things out. #toosoon?

Smart Phones Are the New Cigarettes OK, I have to warn you, like seriously warn you: the language in this article/essay/thinkpiece is probably offensive to some. Even so, the thesis makes it worth sharing. Here I am, sitting on the couch, typing on my laptop listening to music and my phone is at my feet, ya know, so I can feel it vibrating in the off chance that there’s a sudden emergency or someone likes on of my Instagram posts or (highly unlikely) someone comments on my blog.

When I grew up, virtually every adult I knew/loved/cherished smoked. I can honestly count the adults I knew that didn’t smoke on one hand. But now, no one smokes. And if they do, they do it on their back porch in the dead of night to ensure not even their random neighbor knows of such a habit. But we all have phones and are pretty much all tethered to them. I wonder: who will be Novella’s handful of people she can recall not being on their phone? The way things are going, I wouldn’t make that list. I dunno. This link really made me think. Really.

New Motherhood is Hard- But These 5 Simple Habits are All Your Baby Needs I can’t help it- this time of year will always remind me of those first days of motherhood. How scary. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I love that this list starts with: “More than anything, your child needs love and loving care.” Seriously, don’t worry about anything else until you have this down. Your baby doesn’t give a crap about breast or formula.

I am ready for this weekend! Tomorrow, we have a morning of biscuits and jelly, then an afternoon attending Novella’s best friend’s birthday party. Then…DATE NIGHT! I am probably way too excited about this, but I got a new dress and everything. It has been forever since we hit the town. Sunday= church +aquarium. Definitely looking forward to everything; hope you all have a wonderful one!

Links That Think 4-21-17

This has been a super introspective week for me. I’m not one for vagueing but I can’t quite put my hand on the fire within. You know how they say you know who you are in your 30s? Well, here I am in mid-30s and I feel that definite acknowledgment transpiring- as a wife, mother, teacher, friend, family member. It’s freeing and painful at the same time. I don’t know…I’ve just been having these weird and beautiful moments where I look in the mirror and just think: there you are. It’s as if I’ve spent my whole life wondering how I would turn out, and this is how I turned out. 

Of course, life will always have its natural ebb and flow. Somedays I will feel as flexible as Stretch Armstrong while others a wooden doll. Either way, I can sense God’s paintbrush a little more each day. There’s nothing even close to perfect by this world’s standards, but God created me to be me for this exact life.

Oh my. This is the kind of thing someone says and then dies a week later, and then everyone wonders if they knew they were going to die. I don’t have that information, promise.

As I’ve been having a minor existential crisis this week, here are some links that have made me think about life, to see it from a new lens.

7 Books I Wish I Could Download Into My Brain While there wasn’t anything on Anne’s list that I agreed with, it definitely made me ponder what books I wish I could memorize and take with me always. A few came to mind right away, while there are some blanks left to be filled: A Million Miles In a Thousand YearsSex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto; Yes, Please; Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis actually, it looks like I’m already on the road to a solid list of books. All have resonated with me.

Captivate- The Art of Charm So, I guess B has been listening to this podcast for forevs and never told me, then out of nowhere he told me to listen to it and I stumbled into this episode. I love any insight I can get into my own psyche, and this did not disappoint. Especially when she talked about how neurotic people respond to stress versus, I guess, normal people. For the record, I am 200% the former. If you have nothing better to do with your ears for an hour, go ahead and give this one a listen. I detail cleaned my kitchen while listening and I regret nothing.

For The Working Mom With Sick Kids Ok, so, here’s how my story goes this week: when I picked up sweet Novella Wednesday, her teacher (who is no squeaky wheel) told me she was a little concerned about Novella and her stomach that day. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say GI issues, molars, diaper rash equals a very angry little lady. And she is normally the happiest little kid, like ever. So, that night she woke up twice in pain from her rash. My school’s rule on basic common courtesy is if you think you’re going to be out, put in for a sub. And so I did. I still went in that morning before another soul was in the building because I could not rest thinking of all the plans I should have had in place.

I returned home, saw her sick little face and said: “Yes. I made the right choice.”

She took her nap, woke up and was perfectly fine, so we went out for some brief shopping.

Then she was screaming again, of course in 45-minute traffic. So, then I must wonder: do I need tomorrow off now, too?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This post was written forevah ago, but I thought of it no less than one dozen times yesterday.

Eight Simple But Powerful Habits That Will Make You More Successful Everything you need to know is in the title, but believe me- these are all simple but powerful. I plan on trying them all simultaneously this week because why not? They are all simple, after all.

“In the Blood,” John Mayer Do you have a family? Do you have a past? Do you want to be better than all of it? Then you will love this song. I’ve had it on repeat this week. I couldn’t even nail down a few lines to preview because I love the whole freaking song. If you hate it, I will buy you a unicorn frappuccino to celebrate your perfect life.

I am pretty jazzed about this upcoming weekend. Not going to lie, as a teacher I am already in summer mode, and I swear I feel like I am on some audition right now to see if I could live out a perfect summer life. My amazing nephroos are coming over tomorrow just to hang out, and what more could I want from this life?

Sunday, we are planning on the ordinary stuff like church (although church never feels like an ordinary experience to me), zoo, and yard work. All of this thrills me beyond belief!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! What do you have planned? What links made you think this week?

 

 

Links That Think 4-15-17

This week has been long, hectic, and completely worth it. On Monday, I had my final (and unannounced observation), came home to B waiting for us to watch Novella receive her gift and then he hit the road for a conference in D.C. Tuesday was her actual birthday, and I’d squirreled away a personal day all year just for the occasion; twas a beautiful, exhilarating, and exhausting day. Wednesday, my parents came into town to help me for the rest of the week. Thursday, I went with my kiddos on a field trip two hours away. A lot of domino things happened and it went longer than expected. Friday, we mostly relaxed, cleaned, shopped for her picnic, and waited for B to get home. Today (Saturday) we had her “birthday party,” which was really simply Novella being around her favorite people (our family. I keep wanting to just say “my family,” but they’re her family too!) We had a picnic at the park nearby and the kiddos got to run around. It was honestly my version of a perfect day. She was beyond excited about her party. When we pulled into the park, she got so excited, we thought she was going to cry. What more could you want from life?

A lot of beautiful moments were peppered into this chaotic week, and I am still processing a lot of it. Everything feels so beautiful and so simple; I wish I could bottle it up.

Tomorrow we are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. It’s just so important to acknowledge this. I am taking a break from the usual Links That Think, and sharing some perspectives on this season- the most significant and symbolic season to a Christian.

Death in His Grave This song singlehandedly changed my heart on Easter Sunday. I remember hearing, as a child, adults saying they were emotional on Easter, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t understand it completely until my 30s. We were sitting in church on Easter when they sang this song, and simultaneously showed the experience of the resurrection through the perspective of Jesus via video. I’ve searched for it to no avail, but we talk about that video often. I’ve always felt God, wanted to be closer to Him, but something changed that day. I was baptized shortly after. ***Note: this is a performance of the song and has its own twist. It’s my favorite version. Also, the part I love is within the first 5 minutes, so don’t just brush this one aside because it’s so long.

Buried in the Grave  “All we had, all we had was a promise like a thread, keeping us from fraying at the edge.” Today coincides with the Saturday all of those who believed were in waiting. We hardly think about that Saturday, and how hard that must have been to keep even a mustard seed- sized faith that He would rise again. I think so often of this day now, how I’ve stumbled in faith even in knowing that God never got out of the miracle business…and they didn’t know that then.

Sticks and Stones Such a beautiful piece, in which she compares herself in the aftermath of miscarriages to Peter, who ran toward death when he ran to the grave. I will think of this essay often and have gone back to read it more than once. While I have never had a miscarriage, I know the death of a dream all too well. It’s just such a wonderful read.

The Revolutionary Truth of Holy Week While so many of us know the what of this merciful story, so few know the why. It was once explained to me through an analogy (paraphrased): “I once read a story of a reporter that would lay in dark caves for hours upon hours, hiding and in silence alongside soldiers. When asked why he would do this, risk his life like that, he said the only way he would truly know the pain of these soldiers was to experience the fear firsthand. And so, that is why God came to us in the flesh: because He wanted to know how we felt.”

And so, when I pray, when I suffer, when I have been betrayed- I know that I am praying to a God who knows firsthand how desperation feels.

This week, I am thankful for so many things, but especially for that.

 

Links that Think 4-7-17

How is it possible to have a week where nothing happens and you’re also totally slammed? We’ve had a lot of later nights than usual. Novella’s bed time was once a concrete 7:00 p.m., but ever since the time change (3 weeks ago!) we have been off track. We’ve had stuff going on every weekend. That’s a good thing. But- that whole schedule thing. I swear, I’ve awoken each morning to this great internal debate: should I work or should I sleep? I chose the former every day, but begrudgingly.

This is also Novella’s last weekend as a one-year-old. I could insert a ton of cliches about how time flies (it does), but instead I will just say: I’m incredibly sad for everything we leave behind, yet eternally grateful to have this experience at all. Every day brings a new challenge, but each challenge is met with one hundred new joys. I am, nonetheless, a bit down about her birthday. I don’t know if it’s because she is quite possibly our only or because I legitimately cannot wrap my head around her not being a baby anymore.

Anyway, it’s been a slow week on the reading front. I’ve had Heartburn in my bag all week and haven’t picked it up once. I keep finding myself opening my Feedly, and then glossing over it as if every entry is about something that’s insanely boring to me, like an article about shark bycatch when fishing for salmon mixed with an explanation of how calories work. I need some serious focus right now.

Here are a few links that think for your reading enjoyment. Focus!

What If Students Only Went to School Four Days a Week? This wasn’t what I expected: a run-of-the-mill piece outlining the benefits of such a program. Instead, it examines districts that already operate this way, and sheds light on some misconceptions. For the record, I’m for it for myself. I’m a teacher. Of course I could benefit from a day of planning! But most parents are not teachers, and let’s be honest: a day of planning would basically be me sitting around with my friends gabbing about awkward moments with baby oil and such.

Teachers On Child Poverty in Schools I won’t get on my soap box. I won’t get on my soap box. I won’t get on my soap box. I truly believe the majority of Americans resting comfortably above the poverty line either refuse to acknowledge poverty in this country or have no idea. Sometimes I want to make it my mission- go and tell the haves all about the have-nots. Virtually every teacher in this nation has landed under the fluorescent lights of a shopping mall or superstore in search of a perfect replacement piece of clothing after witnessing a student wearing the same tattered garment for two weeks straight. It’s what we do. But why does it feel like no one else notices?

How To Make Friends As an Adult It’s terrible making friends as an adult, amiright?! I’ve been in this new city for four years, and this is the first time I feel like I have a solid group of friends. I was legitimately losing hope, especially as I became a mom in the mix of it.

How to Teach Kids to Be Grateful: Give Them Less This article was both confirming and convicting for me. Living in a small house, I feel the stuff starting to pile up while most people would say we don’t have a lot of toys. But Novella is never overwhelmed with all the choices. It’s hard to really make an assertion of our parenting at this juncture, but I hope we always err to “less is more.”

 

Well, that’s it for tonight! We have a very early (for weekends, that is) date with the Easter Bunny in the morning. You know when you’re so tired, you start fantasizing about your nap the next day? Oh, except I never get those sweet naps anymore. 🙂 What are your plans for the weekend?

Links That Think 3-31-17

Woooo-weee! Is March legit over? I cannot even fathom that. This week I’ve been teaching about symbolism. I love talking about how concrete objects connect to abstract ideas, and how symbolic life is. Basically, I love all the ways teaching Reading and English fosters my hippie side and makes my students (hopefully) see life a little differently. Talking about time and how it’s truly an abstract concept made me want to run to my storage closet and cry into a box of dusty textbooks. Where is it all going? Wasn’t it just a week or so ago that I was holding a little baby? And now she’s bossing me around and crying about all of the randomness of life she doesn’t understand?

I don’t recall ever considering spring before Novella. Now, all the blooms and blossoms remind me of her: waiting for her; her swimming and dancing in my belly every time I played my Easter jam or ate strawberries; nestling and cuddling in our sunroom with the greenery as our backdrop. Spring is bittersweet- mostly sweet, though. Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.25.01 PM

When I haven’t been salvaging every second, here are some links that made me think this week:

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.59.11 PM
Source: adele.com

 

The Adele Anomaly As I read this, it reminded me of myself in high school. Look, I’m not saying my singing talent is Adele Calibur, but I never even tried to do anything beyond high school. You know why? Because I can’t dance. And I’m pretty, but not that pretty. Adele has singlehandedly changed the pigeon-holing of successful female musicians. She wants to write and make music- that’s it.

 

Argument-in-Every-Class-768x1017
Source: cultofpedagogy.com

 

What If We Taught Argument in EVERY Class? Annnnd, what if adults went ahead and signed up at a learning annex? I love thinking about learning and how to improve the thinking of students. How many times do students just spew out an opinion without any evidence? We say “evidence” all the time, but what does that really mean? We should teach them in all of their classes to argue. If they can argue for it, they know it.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 12.07.43 AM
Source: variety.com

 

S-Town I don’t even care how bandwagon I am right now. If you’re not listening to this, you’re missing out. This is produced by Serial Productions that made Serial. I think it started off in search of a similar story/ concept. It took a wild turn. I don’t want to even slightly give anything away, but this story is wildly unpredictable. You will laugh, cringe, and bawl. And all within a few minutes.

 

Mommy Dearest
Enter a caption

 

Mommy Dearest’s Lessons in Overly Dramatic Parenting I’ve never seen it and probably never will. It’s one of those wildly iconic movies that you can easily quote despite never watching it. This felt so much like Mystery Science Theatre in print, and hence it made me laugh.

I am looking forward to a weekend with family and friends. Novella and I are currently at my parents’ cabin. I’m driving in the morning to see some of my dearest friends back home. I hope you all have a splendid weekend!

Psssst! If I’m missing out on a link, please comment and let me know!

 

Links That Think 3-24-17

The worst thing happened today at Target. You see, I’ve been using the same kind of men’s Bic razor for years. It’s relatively inexpensive. It shaves. I like it. And now they aren’t selling it anymore. Poof. Gone. They really, really should warn you when a product is going the way of the Dodo. I bought one that costs more money, and I’ve already made up my mind that it will suck. And so it begins: the chapter of my life in which I reminisce about the quality of products past that, incidentally, cost less too.

It’s been an amazing week at work. I just had to type that out and have documented evidence. Because this time last year I was sure my career was going the way of the Dodo, and man…you can legitimately have entire school years that are terrible, and then the next one falls only a little short of perfection. I am so grateful. So grateful.

Anyway, here are some links that made me think this week:

What We Are Worth This was such a sweet read. She spends time with her 102-year- old grandmother and daughter at the same time. It made me wish for so many things: that I lived closer to my Mamaw, that my parents lived closer to Novella, that Novella can be 40 and still spending time with her grandparents. I just am not coping with time very well lately. It’s nothing I can articulate, at least not in a blurb.

40 Lunches So, the author above actually has a project called “40 Lunches” in which she is honoring turning 40/ her 40th year in life by having lunch with 40 people who have impacted her life. I’ve only read like four of the entries so far, but man. I’ve been thinking: if I had to list 40 people who have impacted my life…could I? Would it be too difficult to narrow down the list or too difficult to make a list at all? I suspect it’s the former. And then I think about the word “impact,” and that’s not always a good thing. I can think of at least 3 people off the top of my head that impacted my life and left a lot of scars. Would I be willing to sit with them? Would they be willing to sit with me? Y’all…this is a link that truly has me thinking!

What If All I Want is a Mediocre Life? The title says it all. This is basically me. My heart. I just want to be simple. I want my family to feel loved, oh so loved by me. I want my students to see a direct correlation in the work I put into them and the love I have for them. I want to be the broom. And honestly, I want to be extraordinary to those in my own backyard. I truly feel it is my calling. Those little details in life? They are monumentally important.

Nora Ephron Knows What To Do Disclaimer: This link is like 8 years old. For me, there’s The Holy Bible, and then there’s the world, according to Nora. I could probably pen my own parallel novel a la Julie and Julia except it would be Amelia and Nora. Her words have gotten me through so much in the weirdest ways- from associating so many scenes of You’ve Got Mail to many scenes in my own life as a teenager dating (my now husband) to reading I Remember Nothing on the beaches of Punta Cana weeks before my child was inexplicably (supposedly) conceived…she has always been there. I love her essays; she really doesn’t sugar coat a darn thing, and while she’s wildly famous and had this amazing upbringing, she’s surprisingly human. I. Just. Love. Her. If you think I’m exaggerating, you should know: if I am ever blessed with another little girl, her name will be Nora.

 

Links That Think 3-18-17

Cheese and rice. How did a solid month pass by without me sharing Links That Think? Is it the teacher or the mother or the Amelia in me that just can let a whole month slip by without rhyme or reason? As I told y’all, God done told me: Be bold. Be intentional. (And then) Be brave. I really have focused on those things, whether I love it or not. But the whole be intentional thing is hard as a writer. It’s hard to carve out meaningful time to sit and write, especially when you’re not generating content off the top of your head. That’s just the truth, for me.

TEACHER-MOM LIFE IS HARD: IN CASE I MADE YOU THINK IT’S ALL BUTTERFLIES AND RAINBOWS Such a bold way to kick off this post, BUT REALLY. I think this is where every teacher is in February/ pre- Spring Break. It really is taxing for me- that desire to be the best for my students and my child, my husband, my friends. For me, Spring Break hasn’t even been the lifeline I thought it would be. Oddly enough, I’m actually saddened by this school year ending. I love my students beyond belief, and I can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to them. But, saying goodbye to them means splashing around in cold, chlorinated water with my little…it’s a tough life.

Completing The Cycle You ever see something, and you’re just like duh. But, ermerghersh. This is something I just need to do (going through whole processes, start to finish). However comma… the big takeaway for me actually stemmed from the comments on the post, wherein someone said something like: “When you take care of your business, it’s being kind to your future self.” It’s so basically basic, but really… I just don’t think I’ll ever procrastinate again. I don’t know if future me will wear silver wind suits with no eye makeup, or ball gowns to the car wash. I’ve made a lot of insane choices in my life. But, this much I know: putting things off, even for a second, is garbage for my soul.

Simplifying Childhood is Making Your Kid Bored….. and That is a Very Good Thing I just can’t say much about this without you reading it…I was a Brownie, that was about it for me. Extra-cor-lick-you-lers… I don’t know how to spell it because it’s totally foreign to me..are good, I guess. And since I didn’t have anything beyond Brownies, there’s a big part of me that looks at every sign-up sheet and says, “Sign me up!” like it’s a way of reconciling some Gen-Whatever lamentation. The truth is this though: we didn’t have a ton. I was bored, but not once boring.

Old Navy Toddler Girls Am I really supposed to pretend there’s not some sort of financial warfare being waged on my wallet with their toddler spring line up? (This isn’t so much a link-that-thinks, but more like I need to think about the cheddar I could drop and boring things like opportunity costs.)

The 20 Most Satisfying This Is Us Cries, Ranked If carrying an address book was still a thing, I would flip through and find exactly two of my people not watching this show. I know the preview/ teaser for the show was the most watched online, as in people were actually going online seeking a preview. One of the two people I know not watching the show is my dear husband because he just cannot handle that kind of sadness. Conversely, I save episodes for when I know he won’t be home so I can get my cry on, and it is oh so cleansing. However comma…there I sat this week with tissue, sans mascara…and it just wasn’t the cryfest I’ve come to expect. Anyway, here’s a picture of me after the Memphis episode. B called that night to say he was on the way home, and I told him to drive around for a little while!

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 9.18.54 PM
SnapChat seriously should add a “This is Us” filter. #nofilter here, though. Those are 100% my Shar Pie wrinkles.

 

 

 

 

Truths

I turned 35 in November, but I always forget this factoid. B frequently asks me his age and I’ve always wondered Who doesn’t know their own age? But he asked me recently how old he is, and I said, “32.” So, so incorrect. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how old we are. I think it’s probably best I look at life that way from now on, for I am not dealing well with the concept of time since Novella was born. She doesn’t turn 2 until April, but I already tell people she’s 2- I guess so it will sting a little less when she does actually turn 2? I don’t know; I can hardly figure myself out anymore.

They say that your 30s is when you “really know who you are.” This stark realization that I am now in my mid-30s has forced me to sit down with myself and figure out what exactly it is that I think about things. Partially so I can learn myself better, but also so I can know where I stand on some of life’s most pressing issues. Here are some of my truths and, in no particular order:

  1. The best way to spend time with your friends is in each other’s homes. There’s no pressure to leave (former server here; I worry about taking up tables), you can actually relax, and you can laugh as loudly as you want. When you have a friend that’s willing to show up at your house on a weeknight with a bottle of something delicious, you know you’ve made a real friend.
  2. Always be focused on what you eat. I annoy the crap out of myself sometimes, but my truth is that if I am not thinking about what I’m eating, I’m (duh) mindlessly eating. This leads to not only weight fluctuations, but changes in mood. Plain and simple, I feel better when I eat better. It’s not always easy. Heck, it’s never easy. It requires a lot of planning and prep and looking like a total nerd, but it’s worth it.
  3. With that being said, find something you make well, that’s always pleasing, and always make that. I’ve been bringing my Mamaw’s corn casserole for years to every function. It’s not a common thing to bring, but everyone is always glad I did!
  4. Keep a plant in your house that you can easily see. I don’t know why, but my little basil plant from Trader Joe’s brings me odd comfort. I have no green thumb, but I think I can tend to this guy pretty well. Bonus: I always have fresh basil.
  5. Decorate for every season. Time really has a way of blurring together if not celebrated and acknowledged. Pretty much everyone loves decorating for the winter holidays, but it’s such a mood-booster to decorate for the upcoming holiday. I usually decorate for winter, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer Holiday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. (tip: Target’s Dollar Spot has the cutest stuff and takes some of the guesswork and energy out of decorating.
  6. Give someone you trust your funeral wishes and pray they don’t die in the same fiery car crash that you do.
  7. Never love someone for what they’re not. Love the people in your life as they are and never play the Well-At-Least-They’re-Not _________ game.
  8. The best friends are the ones you can discuss all the unmentionables with and then pray out loud together when prayer is the only hope.
  9. This comes from Maya Angelou, but I’ve found it to be incredibly accurate. When people tell you who they are, believe them.
  10. There’s really no magic number on chances you should give someone, but when they’ve run out of them, you will know.
  11. Before you post or send a picture, ask: “Am I bragging, or am I sharing my life?” If it is, in any way, the former, don’t press send. No one likes a bragger.
  12. Every single day, think of a way you can simplify someone’s life. Someone in your home is a good place to start.
  13. The sneakiest sin is pride. When you get too proud, that’s usually when things go awry. Be grateful for what you have, but always know the things of this world are fleeting.
  14. We have access to all of the music in the world. Don’t let the radio be the only place you hear music.
  15. Make a playlist for every season of your life. The song always remembers when, and it’s a great way to time warp into reflection.
  16. The best feeling is a clean kitchen at the end of the night.
  17. The hardest word in the English language to say isn’t “rural” or “drawer.” It’s “help.” Learn to ask for it. No one thinks of less of you, and they’re always free to decline.
  18. The above especially applies to talking to God in prayer. I know it’s hard to not feel like you’re mooching off of God when you ask for help in something here on Earth, but He wants to hear your heart, including your struggles.
  19. Have a specific prayer you pray every day. We are starting the practice of praying together at night. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve avoided doing this because I’m basically embarrassed to pray out loud in front of my husband of 15 years. But lately, I’ve been hearing God say: Be bold. I know that probably seems like super personal information, but my point is, I also heard that same voice say: Be intentional. And so, we are working on an intentional prayer to say together. Right now, I have an intentional morning prayer, borrowed from Cee-Lo Green’s “Gettin’ Grown” meshed with something I heard once:

Thanks for waking me up today; prepare me for what comes my way. Please wrap your arms around Brandon and Novella and give them strength and comfort where I cannot. Break my heart for what breaks yours, and allow your love to shine through me.

20. (Another prayer one. Prayer is seriously so important to me.) I’m not sure who gave me this advice, but if you have no idea how to pray, or IF YOUR MIND WANDERS LIKE MINE, try 3-word prayers! Example: When B was lying beside me sick, I said, “Help him heal.” Be intentional.

21. Keep a running list of things you love about people. It’s a great reminder when they irk you, and good to have on hand when they’re having a bad day.

22. Take the 5 Languages of Love quiz with your boo, and read the answers aloud to each other. It’s entirely possible to share a life with someone for two decades and not really know how they want to be loved.

23. Less really is more. We’ve been programmed to think we should work for stuff, but there is just as much joy and love in a small house with few clothes and toys. Go for experiences.

24. All children really want from you- all they will remember about you- is how you made them feel. Smile when a child walks into a room. For that matter, try this with everyone, for we are all children with a few extra layers.

25. When you have someone next to you that is hurting, don’t tell them how much worse it could be. They already know this. What they really need to know is that all hurt is hurt. There’s no scale to accurately gauge that, and pain can be blinding- no matter how trivial it may seem to an outsider.

26. Have at least one bright, bold lipstick color. If you’re too insecure to wear it to work, wear it to the grocery store.

27. If you have an Aldi anywhere near your home, do as much grocery shopping as you can there. They are one of the top sellers/ producers of organic and gluten free options. It’s such a small space and alleviates a lot of grocery anxiety. And you can expect to save AT LEAST 25%. Aldi is not paying me to say this; I am seriously their biggest advocate.

28. I know I’ve written about paring down my closet, but the most freeing part is having a “uniform.” For me, it’s a flowy shirt with fitted pants. It works best with my job (teacher) and my armpits need all the breathing they can get.

29. Social media. It’s not real life. It’s not good for you. Yes, I know you’ve reconnected with that cousin of your dad’s (I really did do this, and I really do miss talking to her since deleting my Facebook), but how’s it helping your soul?

30. “How’s it helping your soul?” is a necessary and orienting question now that I’m at this juncture in life.

31. Know your best qualities and let them shine through. Women especially have a way of downplaying their strengths. Don’t do it. I am exceptionally creative and imaginative (but also in my own way, I ain’t gonna write a Sci-Fi or anything), obscurely funny, kind, and incredibly gracious. I don’t say this to brag at all. These are the strengths God gave me, and it would be a disservice to pretend they aren’t real.

32. Know your weaknesses, and work against them constantly. Before this seems like a total bragfest…I am oh, so selfish. I cannot see past my own emotions sometimes. I have a wall around me that is virtually unpenetrable, and that makes the whole “let your light shine” thing impossible sometimes.

33.  There really is not a secret to long-lasting love other than a commitment to each other. That looks different in every relationship, but it all boils down to…did you stay or did you go?

34. Texting is so convenient and supersedes all communication methods we’ve had before. It’s a great way to keep in touch. But. Two things: it’s ok to not text back right away if you don’t want to or you don’t know what to say. Also, be very careful in what you say in text. Anything you put in print is basically a permanent record these days. Ask me how I know.

35. I saved the best for last because I know every single person in my life, especially including myself, struggles with this. Do not, DO NOT give your best self to the world outside of your home and the worst self to your home. Your spouse, your kids…those are the ones that will write your eulogy and hug every single neck that walks through the “receiving of friends” when you die. Don’t let any of the stories recounted about you be a shock, but a reassurance that you were wonderful. You are wonderful. Make sure all your people know this, and if they don’t…they’re not your people.

Links That Think 2-17-17

Hey, y’all! Sorry I missed Links that Think last week, but I was eye-deep in dinner theatre whilst visiting my best friend in LA (Lower Alabama). Ya see, my Time Lottery actually got extended by two more days, so what other choice did I have? Novella and I hit the road early Thursday morning, and maybe I’ll write about our trip soon.

Either way, here are some links that made me think this week:

She’s Not All There I’ve always known I wasn’t the only mom that operated this way, but it’s refreshing to hear someone else articulate this. I feel like I’m always on the go, always planning ahead, and never able to fully be present. In many ways, this keeps our life afloat. Admittedly, I constantly wonder how Novella will be impacted by this mentality. I have to make a conscious effort to really be there.

Kristen Bell’s Top Self Care Tips Don’t we all just love Kristen Bell? A lot of these self-care lists seem to overlap, but she nails it in 5 easy tips. I have literally done every single one of these this week, including (gasp) ordering pizza while on Whole 30. I mean, it was Valentine’s Day. We fought traffic to be together, and I thought: Do we really need to prepare a huge meal? I simply wanted to be sitting on the couch with my husband which doesn’t happen as often as it used to.

Big Little Lies I really don’t read a lot of fiction, but this just happens to be something I read last year. (OK, I actually listened via audible, but still.) The author described the appearance of each character thoroughly, and so I spent so many road trips trying to visualize the characters. I cannot believe the casting on this series; it’s going to be incredible! Sunday night is the night, and I kind of wish I had a little group of girlfriends to watch the premier like I did when SATC hit the big screen. Pleeeeeease, don’t disappoint, BLL!

24 Signs You Live With a Toddler My life. Especially the blurry pictures part. I was so jazzed up about getting the iPhone 7+ for the portrait effect before I realized how incredibly difficult it is to capture a photo of a toddler. Anyway, here’s one of my favorites. Can you believe I got this coat and hat at Sam’s Club for like $15? Man, I love a good deal.

jackie-no

The Time Lottery

Monday afternoon, I got probably the best email I’ve ever received: our school district would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday due to illness. I know, I know. Illness= no good. But my kids were feeling well, and so was I. Y’all, I thought my soul was going to leap right out of my body. I’m a positive person, but normally very calm and not excitable. People tell me all the time that I am impossible to read (because I internalize everything).

If I had a time machine, I would go back and record the moment I got to tell my kids, who were working intently on this Monday afternoon, that they were about to have the next two days off, that we all won the time lottery.

“Stand up, stand up! I have something to tell you! Y’all. We have the next two days off!”

Oh, their faces. I have the best kids, the hardest workers, and they were weary from using their brains all day. We all did a happy dance (well, I can’t dance, so I just went to my trusty “raise-the-roof” move).

***

Being a working mom is tough. I’m not going to get into a who-has-it-tougher debate, but with my job, I am fortunate enough to be on both sides of the fence, and life (for me) is much more manageable when I don’t have that little 50-hour-a week side gig. To top it off, my man (B) has worked the last two weekends and has been out of town. And we’re doing Whole 30 that requires a TON of prep. This past Saturday, I was so exhausted that I zonked out at 8:00.

Self-care is seriously so underrated.

Since B was going out of town again, he actually asked me if he could wake up with Novella and take her to school. When I planned the day in my head, I swore I was going to sleep until 10. B shut the door to our room, so I wouldn’t be disturbed (this hasn’t happened ever before), but since he was about to get on the road, I really wanted to say bye and tell him I love him.

breakfast

I made my coffee, a nice breakfast, and then I went back to bed with a book and just laid there and read LIKE SOME SORT OF WEIRDO! FOR THREE HOURS! I’m almost finished with Chasing Slow. A good, easy read!

Then, I decided to go ahead and clean out my closet and shoot for that capsule wardrobe thing I talked about last week. I think I want to write a separate post about it, but it made me WAY happier than I thought it would. I kept running my hands over my clothes, and feeling their softness. One of the biggest suggestions I’ve heard with this purge is to consider what your “uniform” is. I definitely love flowy, super soft shirts, and fitted pants. There are a lot of rules that go along with this, but really…just don’t keep anything you don’t absolutely love. And, apparently I LOVE blue.

closet
Yes, this is my whole closet. And I added more clothes than this!

After I accomplished this, I made myself a fancy lunch with plans to go scoop up Novella to go to the park and take pictures. But as I was enjoying said lunch, it started monsoon raining. Seemed like a perfect opportunity to take a bubble bath!

The rain slowed, so I went and got Novella. When we got home, she wanted to play in the rain. I love this age so much. My favorite thing about this picture is the sticker on her shirt. She received this treasure from the nice lady at Kroger three days ago, and she’s been wearing it like a Badge of Honor ever since. I love her little heart so much!rain

 

I normally wouldn’t chronicle an entire day, but my soul needed this day so much. I never want to forget it- it truly felt like a gift from above. I’ve been so overwhelmed, trying to be the best wife, mom, teacher, friend, all other titles I can be. I really believe being calm and rested is essential to being my best self.

What would you do if you got two bonus days?