Category Archives: biking

A collection of random thoughts

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I haven’t posted lately about stuff I’ve made in an effort to be frugal around my home. I’ve been too busy making body scrub and soaps for my new business, ‘Something Lovely’. However I still am finding new things to try. Today I made homemade deodorant for the first time. The recipe I used called for 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, 2 Tbsp. shea butter (I love that stuff!) and 5 Tbsp. Baking Soda, if you have access to Arrow Root you would use only 3 Tbsp of baking soda and 2 of the arrow root…but I didn’t have any arrow root on hand. You could also use essential oils so I used “Baby Rose”. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t say yeah or nay…but I figured it was at least worth a try. You melt the oil and butter in a glass mason jar while sitting in some water in a sauce pan on the stove. Then you add the baking soda and essential oil. Mine is sitting in the fridge right now to see if it sets up and becomes a consistency that will feel right.

I’ve also recently used a toilet bowl cleaner that I thought worked great. It was 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup borax and 1 cup vinegar. Put directly into toilet and let sit for at least 30 minutes then scrub as you would normally do. (I’ll be honest, I forgot about it after I put it in and so it sat for several hours…but hey, no damage done and it worked great!)

I’ve been busy making cold pressed soap lately. So far I’ve made Almond Biscotti and Chocolate Espresso. They both smelled divine. I’ve already cut the bars for the first and they are curing. Just in cleaning up afterwards some of the soap got on my hands and wow, I couldn’t believe how amazing it is. Pure luxury soap!

In the next two weeks I plan to make 13 other varieties.
Lilac

Pumpkin Spice

Citrus

Chai Tea

Dark Rich Chocolate

Peppermint Tea

Baby Rose

Cranberry Fig

Peach

A basic 4 oil soap with no scent

Grass Stain

Pina Colada

Cucumber Melon

 

By the end of October they’ll be ready for purchase (It takes 4-6 weeks to cure bars of soap)

 

Yesterday while biking I was thinking about this blog and my other blog one life well lived and thinking more about combining them. I kept thinking about “The road less traveled”. It’s not an original thought. I realize this. But as I was biking yesterday and traveling a new path that I’ve never traveled before I realized it was highly symbolic of where I am in life right now. I’m still letting the idea percolate in my brain…but I know that’s at least the direction in which I’m heading…if not the exact words.

As I biked yesterday I realized, it’s so important to do new things. It was invigorating to take a different trail and see different scenery. And it’s important to commit far enough that turning back is not an option. By the time I had biked 10 miles in I realized…ok it only makes sense to keep going and not turn around. I was committed. I think the same principle holds true in life. We too easily turn back and give up. We need to burn a few bridges behind us once in awhile to force ourselves to keep moving forward, otherwise it’s too easy to go back.

I honestly believe that one of the best things a newly married couple can do is move away from their parents at least for a year or two. You can still go visit…but daily access is not good. For my husband and I…it forced us to work out our own issues without running to mom and dad. I think it’s the same with the self employment thing I’m trying to do. I’m all in. There is no real turning back. I have a safety net…I can go back to teaching in a year…but I’m extremely motivated to make this work. Nothing in me wants to just turn around and go back to how things were. So I keep pedaling…literally and figuratively.

This is what I’ve discovered with biking…as long as you keep pedaling, even if you go down routes or paths you didn’t plan on, you will eventually reach your destination. Take a break once in awhile, get some water, eat a snack and then get back on and keep pedaling. Yesterday I biked 31 miles and it felt really good.

I’m hoping that in a year’s time I will be able to say the same about my two businesses I’m working on. Going Solo and Something Lovely.

 

The journey

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Today I was out biking again. First thing in the morning is when I do it. I even stepped out today and didn’t drive to the bike trail, but instead biked the 3 miles on the road from my house to get there. Added a new element of difficulty.

It was cold. Crazy cold for an August day in Illinois. As in…I wish I would’ve grabbed my ear covering thing because my ears were cold with the wind blowing on them. But I didn’t let that slow me down.

I biked a straight 16 miles with no stops. Had several spider webs hanging from me in the process…that’s the gross part about the biking experience, when you bike right through one and then can’t get the dog gone web stuff off of you while you keep pedaling. I biked over bumps and up and down hills and in and out of the sun. Today was a day when it was nice when I was in the sun.

I stopped half way. Drank some water and ate a snack and paused to glance out at the river. I had spent the time so far praying as I usually do. Everything in my mind was swirling a bit. People/situations/even world stuff going through my mind as I prayed this morning. I know some people think to pray for our president and for world leaders everyday. I don’t normally. But today, I started to think about the pressures of leading and especially if you are a Christian wanting to make God honoring choices and so I prayed for those people. I prayed for people in general today. I prayed for all people who have cancer, all people who are giving birth today, all people who are having miscarriages today, all people who are having strokes, heart attacks, or other crisis. All people in car accidents. I just had this huge world view thing going on today.

Often in prayer we’re taught to be very specific, and detailed. I’m not sure why. The reasoning to me is strange. If I would pray for my friend who is sick…why wouldn’t I pray for all people who are sick? Granted we can only do so much, that’s why in world full of hunger I only sponsor two children, but in prayer where God has no limits…it dawned on me today, why not just pray for the whole blessed planet.

I found myself making up my own corporate prayer in my head.

“God…for those who are feeling hopeless…give them hope.”

“For those who are weary…give them rest.”

“For those who are in chaos…give them peace.”

on and on.

Anyway…I had biked half of my route today (a new personal best for me biking alone…almost 33 miles today) and I decided it was time to head back. Just a few miles down the path I knew there was a bench that I like to pause and sit on, but I also knew that I needed to get back home and probably shouldn’t take the time. It seemed silly to bike 16 miles, take a break and then bike 3 more and take another. I’m highly efficient and have a hard time doing something that inefficient.

Even as I approached the bench I had the sense that I had good momentum going and it would be ridiculous for me to stop and take a rest or stop and just sit for no reason at all. But then I started thinking about solitude and mediation and how I keep hearing that none of us gets enough of it and that we need to be comfortable sitting in the silence with our own thoughts.

I stopped.

I sat down. I listened to myself breathe. I noticed the rise and fall of my chest.

I heard birds. I heard cars whizzing by. I felt the breeze. I turned my head into the sun and felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I looked out at the Mississippi River and was amazed at how still it was.

I just sat in silence.

Probably for about 10 minutes.

I started to think about why it was so hard for me to stop. Why it seemed ridiculous to break my momentum. How this silly example shows me something really much, much larger about my life.

As the cars whizzed by me, I realized that right now in my life, figuratively and literally, I’m sitting on the bench. I’ve taken myself deliberately off the ride. People on the road driving were not noticing their breathing, or listening to birds, or probably even taking in the view. They weren’t silent and still. They were headed to a destination and there was urgency in the reaching the destination. I could just imagine where they were headed because I’ve lived that life. Many were probably headed to work for the day.

I started to think about the idea of journey and how although I know it’s supposed to be about the journey not the destination…how still, I pretty much live my life like the destination is the most important thing. That’s why I count down…always to the next thing. That’s why I’ve lived through far too many days that were forgettable because they were just the journey…not the destination.

Even in my writing. Being able to write and publish a book is a destination for me. A destination that I’m not totally convinced is all that important. So the world would have one more book on it’s book shelves. Of what value is that? I wonder. I question myself in this season of life wondering what I should be doing with this gift of writing that God seems to have given me. I can’t stop writing anymore than I can stop breathing. It’s in my soul. And yet the thought of editing and building a platform and doing all that you must do to try and make a book and make the effort worthwhile is more than I seem to be able to muster up. Maybe this blogging thing…this journey that I do everyday is all that matters. Maybe it’s not so much about reaching a certain destination.

I want to live in a way and find myself doing it almost naturally, as if Holy Spirit led, where I don’t really concern myself too much about destinations. Honestly…no one has come out and really asked me where I’m headed after this year…and if they did my answer would be, I have no idea. I don’t have a destination in mind. I’m really just trying to live the journey right now.

For me…I can tell that means stopping the momentum. It means stepping out of the frantic pace of life that most people seem to be living. (I completely understand…I’ve been there.)

When I was in the frantic pace of life I occasionally noticed a few people here and there who seemed to be living differently than me. People who seemed to be much more aware of the beauty of each day and the joy of the daily journey and I wanted more of what they had. I couldn’t get that while I was whizzing down the road of life. I had to stop the car and get out and sit on the bench.

I feel much more aware of simple things, simple pleasures, simple things to be grateful for. I feel much more aware of slowing down, in fact just stopping. It’s so incredibly inefficient that it still jars me to do it…but I never regret doing it. I feel much more aware of nature. Much more aware of how fast time is slipping by and how although I have looked forward to heaven for a long time now…this journey right now is all I need to focus on, not so much the destination.

my summer so far…

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Life seems to fall in place often without me even knowing the places it should fall into.

I’ve been on sabbatical to some degree now for a month and a half and yet maybe this is not really my sabbatical yet since school hasn’t started yet. Maybe this is just summer vacation like I would normally have. Regardless…I have no blueprint for how this time in my life should work.

I have read no books on taking a sabbatical. That’s my normal mode of operation. If I’m going to travel some place I read books about that place. Hence, I was sitting at a water park yesterday with a book on Canada in my hand ๐Ÿ™‚

Weird side note…you might be my soul mate if you like to read guidebooks on places to travel to.

Anyway…I have not read any books on the subject of taking a sabbatical. I’ve not read any blog posts or subscribed to anything telling me what I should expect or anticipate or make sure I do or don’t do.

This is very uncharted water for me.

Sacred, take your shoes off, ground. Holy. Set apart.

None of my normal ways of taking on life or new challenges fit right now.

I’m becoming a student again, studying myself, trying to understand years of beliefs, thoughts, patterns and habits, ways of life and sorting through them to choose at this point what I will keep with me on the journey I have left.

I want to travel much lighter for the next forty years than I ever have before. Literally and figuratively.

The physical side has manifested itself in a recent desire to live in a minimalist kind of way. Today I will be finishing off my basement and holding another yard sale most likely this weekend. It is amazing to me how freeing it is to get rid of stuff!

But figuratively…I want to clean house too, in my mind, my heart and soul.

This is what I’m finding…I was made to focus on one thing and see it through to completion. I’ve just never really been able to do that in my normal life. Schedule didn’t allow it. Job requirements didn’t allow it.

I’ve been a HUGE multi-tasker and proud of it mind you. I thought it was me. I thought that’s the way life was lived best for me. Make the most of every moment type of thinking.

A month and a half into this sabbatical and I’m realizing it’s not me. Probably never was. Just a mold that I conformed to out of necessity. Which leads me to wonder how many other ways of life that I have thought were ‘me’ really aren’t…just my way of coping with life at the time.

Without me planning it…I’m noticing that month by month (keep in mind only one and a half months have gone by so far ๐Ÿ™‚ I seem to be focusing in on one area of my life and really devoting myself to that one area.

In June it was biking, the physical side of taking on something I’d never done (Biking across a state). I’m not athletic, never have been. But I am strong and I can persevere.

I kept trying to set up a schedule in June to balance out writing, biking, and music lessons and what happened, without me meaning to, is I kept using my writing time to go for a bike ride because it was the cool of the day. I almost felt guilty about not keeping my schedule I had made on paper because I was sure it needed to be rigid since I had read about other creative people and how rigid they lived to make the most of the time. But in the end…I focused an unusual amount of time on biking and the subject of it. To the point where my oldest daughter said…”I don’t want to go into another bike shop for a long, long time.” ๐Ÿ™‚

This month my music lessons have almost all fallen off. It’s July. It makes sense. Even my own two kids are taking a break. In fact, if I continue with this business as I hope to, I will probably make July a month off, as a break for everybody.

Our bike trip is done and the weather has been so hot and humid we haven’t biked much lately. Although, my youngest daughter did start and I plan to buy her a bike this month ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls started homeschooling so the time to just go take a 3-4 hour bike trip hasn’t been quite as present. I’ve felt bad about this because…of course I feel compelled to continue hard and aggressive on the biking thing I guess.

But instead…what’s happened is, I’ve focused in on writing this month in new ways. Mainly what’s happened is I’ve become an eclectic reader. I have two daughters. My oldest listens to a huge variety of music, every style and type, I never know what’s coming next when she chooses the music for a road trip. Which makes the trip quite fun by the way. My youngest likes one or two styles but knows everything about those styles and I mean everything. She knows exactly who is in the group, who sings what part and can sing each harmony part that is in the song. She could tell you everything about those few groups and those few music styles. What’s happened for me reading wise is I just keep broadening the variety of books and blogs I read.

Yes I still enjoy some spiritual/deep thinking types of things, but I also enjoy humor, and blogs on writing and on minimalism and simple living. I also enjoy blogs on business and marketing. The list of blogs I’ve subscribed to this month would look like my oldest daughters play list for a long road trip, it’s extremely varied these days. And I love it.

As I read many different ways of viewing the world, many different styles of writing and thinking, my own thinking and writing are being broadened. I love thinking new thoughts. I love thinking about things in a way that I never have before. I love turning something over in my mind and seeing it from a different point of view. I love reading from all types of authors, all races, gender, religious views…I enjoy realizing how much all of us really do have in common even if we come from such different ways of life.

I tend to lean more towards emotion as I write. I write about what I’m experiencing and feeling most of the time. But I enjoy reading authors who are logical and cause me to view life from a thinking view point.

Some of you are married to your “opposite”. I was at one time. Being a widow, I’ve missed that part of life. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be exposed to people, writing, books, blogs that cause you to think through your own beliefs and ways of living and might even inspire you to make change.

It hadn’t really dawned on me until today…but this month, July…I know is single heartedly about writing and reading and thinking new thoughts.

I’m being challenged to try and figure out how to take my writing to the next level. What that even means. Publishing a book? Entering a writing contest? Guest posting on a blog? I’m not sure. But I know writing is at the core of who I am. It must be done. I can’t imagine my life without it.

I wonder what it would be like to actually receive some type of pay in this line of work. I’m not sure I can pull that kind of thing off. But I want to try. I want to push myself to go further than I have before. (Kind of like biking across a state….just writing instead ๐Ÿ™‚

I already have a pretty good idea that August will be about the third component in my life…music lessons. It will be my time to put on a big push to pick up voice and piano students for the school year. I will need to market in every way I can think of and some ways that haven’t even occurred to me yet. I will also need to spend time studying and upping the level of my lessons. They are already excellent now…but I know I still have more to learn and more to offer to my students. My one lesson yesterday reminded me that I am good at teaching private lessons and it’s a worthwhile thing for me to pour myself into students on a one on one basis. So that will be what August is about.

And then in the fall…I think it will be figuring out how to combine all three of these areas, while parenting and keeping a home and being involved in my church.

I’m thankful right now that it’s ok for me to focus on one thing at a time. It’s allowing me to go deeper than I’ve ever gone before. What I’m finding is that in my multitasking life I was just scratching the surface, which seems incredible to me. I’m realizing there is so much more available for me to pursue and try than I ever dreamed before.

This is an exciting time in my life. I am so grateful.