Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Club: The Night Circus

Pre-Thanksgiving, our book club met at C.'s place to discuss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. C. served up a whole spread of Mexican cheese & black bean enchiladas, plus rice and chips with salsa and guac. Like many ladies I know, I love Mexican food -- delicious -- and I'm addicted to chips + pretty much any type of dip. (These recent meetings have really stepped up the standard in the food department!)

I'll confess, I only got through half of the book... though I did read the whole thing several years ago. I've been having a hard time finding time to read because I get sucked into my husband's TV-watching and then I find some ridiculous show I want to watch and then all of a sudden, it's time for bed and I haven't opened my book.

But the group as a whole really enjoyed the book this month. I have to say, I wasn't sure what people would think because it's slower-moving, and as many classics go, it's a different type of plot than today's bestsellers -- the story of a life in an older time and place, rather than something that makes your heart race as you turn the pages. But everyone loved it, and it prompted a discussion of poverty, education, and politics -- tricky topics for book club discussion but interesting nonetheless.

For next month's meeting, we're reading The Night Circus. After reading the summary, I didn't know if I'd get into it... but I had a bunch of reading time over Thanksgiving, and wow, I'm flying through it. Fascinating story. I'll discuss more once we meet!

via Review:
Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Erin Morgenstern’s dark, enchanting debut takes us to the black and white tents of Le Cirque des Reves, a circus that arrives without warning, simply appearing when yesterday it was not there. Young Celia and Marco have been cast into a rivalry at The Night Circus, one arranged long ago by powers they do not fully understand. Over time, their lives become more intricately enmeshed in a dance of love, joy, deceit, heartbreak, and magic. Author Morgenstern knows her world inside and out, and she guides the reader with a confident hand. The setting and tone are never less than mesmerizing. The characters are well-realized and memorable. But it is the Night Circus itself that might be the most memorable of all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I'm counting my blessings... my faith, family, friends, home, health, food, and work I love to do.

Thank you for following my little blog. I hope it inspires you to try new things, to create, to not be afraid of messy rough drafts, to gather your friends and family close.

This year, we're celebrating with Scott's family. When I married Scott, my family grew and now includes even more wonderful people... and for that, I'm thankful.

I'll leave you with a few peeks at last year's Thanksgiving festivities at my parents' house :)

My mom sets a beautiful table...

The main entree

Side dishes!

Pies galore...

Game time with the fam

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Place of Quiet

Now that I work from home and on my own, I have pretty quiet days. The radiator hums a bit and buses occasionally barrel by on the street outside. Sometimes, I turn on the TV or some music for background noise.

But I've realized my days aren't actually quiet at all.

At the end of the day, I often feel spent. My attention and focus is frayed. My mind is overwhelmed with tips and blog posts and products.

The buzz of social media and emails and links to this article and that video are so very loud.

It's this type of noise that keeps me from being creative. Of course, it all has the possibility of inspiration. But too much of a good thing is simply too much.

I find myself yearning to get lost in a novel or scribble away in my journal... or just sit and think.

But the clash and bang of what's going on around me becomes a distraction. At times, it feels my only escape is sleep, the shower, church, or yoga class... those rare times I am away from my phone, the computer, the TV, and all is quiet.

We need quiet time to replenish our energy, tap into our imaginations, restore our passion for life and creating. Silence. Peace. Deep breaths. Dreams. Prayer. We need it even more now when the noise is threatening to take over every moment. Let's make room for quiet.

A recent "unplugged" moment. (Well, the mixer doesn't count, right?) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Face the Unknown

This beautiful 2013 planner from Design Darling is heading my way. (Yes, I'm still a paper planner girl!) We're making holiday plans with family and friends. And this morning, I read Brittney Castro's piece for The Everygirl, "What Do You Want for Yourself in 2013?"

All signs are pointing to next year. Of course, I don't want to wish away the next few weeks. In fact, I want to hold onto them and savor every moment of celebration, family, and gratitude that comes with the holiday season.

But I can't help thinking about the new year. It's a fresh start, but for me, I'm not sure what will be written in the pages of my new planner. Sure, I have weddings, my sister's college graduation, birthdays, and a dentist appointment to add. 

It's the other things thoughthose unknownsthat drive a Type-A planner like me crazy. Growing my business, starting a family, and who knows what else... I have hopes and dreams and plans, but I don't know how or when they'll happen.

When dealing with uncertainty about the unknown, I realized there are three ways to go:

1. Determine what you can and cannot control. Do what you can and let go of the rest. It's impossible to know how one action or one step will affect the bigger picture, so try lots of new things and just keep moving forward. Don't allow uncertainty to hold you back, and at some point, you'll reach your goals, you'll get what you're working for, and you'll find a sense of certainty and peace.

2. Think of "the unknown" as "possibilities." Transform a negative into a positive. With a pessimistic mindset, the unknown can feel scary:
Anything can happen... I don't know what to do. What if I fail?
What if what I want doesn't happen? What if bad things happen?

By re-framing the unknown into opportunities and possibilities, it becomes:
Anything can happen! So many good things that I can't even imagine can happen!

3. Worry. Freak out. Lose sleep. Stress. Ugh... not fun. And not productive.

Moving forward, I'm doing all I can to choose the first two options. When I think about it, if I knew everything, where would the fun be in that? Planning it all out doesn't leave room for spontaneity. It doesn't allow for keeping an open mind and going off the planned path when opportunities come along. 

The unknown shouldn't be something to fear. It's a blank slate, filled with amazing possibilities.

How do you deal with the unknown?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When "No" Means "Not Now"

On Tuesday, I turned 28 years old.  We had dinner with Scott's family last weekend, and this coming weekend, we're going out to celebrate -- just the two of us on Friday and with a whole group of friends on Saturday.

So on the actual day, I enjoyed some relaxation time and opened gifts from my family and Scott (you can check out a few snapshots below). 

But throughout the week, I've been thinking a lot.  I've been reflecting on the past year, but mostly I've been contemplating the coming year.

Birthday roses from my in-laws

Fun polka-dot tights for the family birthday dinner

Free birthday pumpkin spice latte!

I voted!

Yummy lunch of white cheddar mac & cheese with onions, peas, and salmon

Girly birthday outfit: pink cardigan, purple pants and a bit of sparkle

Gifts from my family!

Scott's gift! Classic and beautiful.

It's probably the first time in my life when I'm unsure what the next year holds.  Yes, I quit my job last December and wasn't sure how my business would grow in 2012, but I did know I was finishing grad school and nannying for the first half of the year.  And I do know I'll continue to work hard and spend time with the people I love in the 12 months ahead, but there are more unknowns than ever before.

The good news: in the midst of the birthday celebrations and my time of reflection, I found peace.  I received a "no" this week -- one of many that I have received and one of many to come -- but this time, I didn't see it as a "no."  I realized it was simply a "not now" -- a sign that I was going to be okay, I was on the right path, and I shouldn't give up, worry, or feel discouraged.  It was a moment of complete trust that God has a plan and He is taking care of me.

And as part of "not now," I also refocused on the "now" -- today, the present time, my life as it is right now.  So much of the time, we're looking to the past or the future.  In this coming year, as a 28-year-old, I hope to savor the present and treasure this year of life, whatever it brings.

I hope to remember that "no" doesn't always mean "no, end of story."  In those quiet moments of prayer and questions and gratitude, I hope to find peace again and again... to understand that "no" often means "not now... be patient and focus on all the good in life at this very moment."


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