Category Archives: seasons

Taking stock…

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I’m now three weeks into my sabbatical. The days are flying by me. No regrets so far so that’s a good thing 🙂

Just taking a little stock today…in the Saturday morning quiet.

I’ve become a frugal DIY type person almost overnight it seems. I’ve made laundry detergent, hand soap (liquid), toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaner, toothpaste, and deoderant (and YES it works!). I’ve tightened up by not using my dryer at all… and by incredibly rarely using shampoo or conditioner or any other hair product or makeup and shutting air vents in rooms I’m not in. I continue to try and think of new ways to cut costs.

I’ve been working on my house. My porch is my favorite room right now just because it’s fresh and simple…I got rid of any clutter. And it’s a room that actually for the most part stays clean. I’m in the process of painting my bathroom, hope to finish today. I’m sure it will be lovely when it’s done, but it’s been a much more tedious process already. Painting moves along quickly when you have big open spaces…not so much when you have small ones with lots of trim and extras. I still need to paint my tub…hoping to soon.

I’ve been starting new piano and voice students. This fall I’ve add 4 new piano students and 2 new voice student to the ones I already had (7) making a total of 13. I really hope to still add 7 more. I’ve also started accompanying for the 5th grade choir at school once a week.

I’ve started yoga on Mondays and I now walk approx. 4 times a week with two friends (we usually walk about 4 miles), and I still bike when I can. Biking is still probably my favorite sport. So much good thought time available. I like the variety of exercise I have these days. Some on my own, some with close friends, and some in a group. Balance.

I’ve started a body scrub and soap business. Which has meant a whole lot of change in our lives. Learning how to do it in the first place. Shopping for supplies. Making of supplies. Marketing and selling the scrub and soap, etc. Being self employed is new ground for me. I’m loving the process of creating. I’m loving working with the many different scents that I make scrub and soap out of. I’m loving seeing the finished product. I also think that I’ll enjoy connecting with people as I have opportunity to in the future while selling my products from “Something Lovely”. This week I’m going to start going to the Farmer’s Market. I’ve called, found out the information and am ready to get my stuff together and go for it. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve also conquered the shipping aspect of my business which feels good. I have bars of soap curing on baking racks over my fridge and I’m very hope filled about this business and part of my life.

I have tried to make more time for friends and for my girls. I try to stay connected with their homeschooling, although I can tell you, as high schoolers they pretty much are on top of it for the most part on their own. I’ve been more available to help others and had the flexibility to do so, which I’ve enjoyed. I’ve preached a sermon and kept up my usual involvement at our church. I think I’ve been more sensitive to the needs of others.

I’m at peace with my life and grateful for each day.

A year ago I wasn’t. I was getting through each day. I often felt trapped.

I’m actually enjoying the month of September this year. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way. Honestly. I’m noticing each small change in the season, new leaves on the trail as I bike, change of temperature as I do yoga out on the deck of my friends house. Days getting just a bit shorter every day as we walk a little longer in the dark before the sun rises. I’m aware.

I’m not nearly as numb to life. My life is not on a repeat cycle these days. I experience new things every day. Which has breathed incredible new life into me. I’m not saying that you can’t go to the same job every day and be fine and full of life. I believe you can, and many do. But for me…I’ve needed that to change.

Just this week I was biking and thinking about abundant life and I smiled to myself as I realized….I’m living it. Often in the past I thought…yeah right…abundant life….

It’s not about money, that’s for sure. I’m tighter than ever probably. For me…it’s about freedom to be who God made me to be in this season of my life. I am so thankful that I had an idea that became a vision and goal and that I had the courage given to me to go for it in taking this sabbatical. Nobody would’ve just given it to me without me asking. Nobody would’ve suggested it, in fact most people were against it. My two girls, who know me best are probably the only people who really inspired me to take courage and go for it.

Keep in mind that the same probably holds true for you. Nobody is going to encourage you to go against the grain or make a radical change. In fact, most people will discourage you. Nobody is going to just offer it up to you on a silver platter…you will have to ask and plan and dream and envision what things could be, mostly on your own. You live with the consequences of your choices and make them work for you.

We have to be in tune with our own soul enough to know what we need and where we are to go next. I think many, many people are so out of touch with that part of their life they have no idea and so just live life in repetition and then wonder why it’s so unfulfilling and stressful. I admit, it hurts to get in touch with your soul and realize how out of sync things are. It’s frustrating and overwhelming. But only at that point can a new dream be given life. That’s the part of life I’m living in right now…a new dream given life.

For whatever season you’re in…

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Life is full of all kinds of seasons. Times when things are going great and you feel on top of the world. Times when if just one more bad thing happens you just might really lose it. Times of ordinariness and boredom, relentless repetition. Times when you’re confused and just aren’t sure where you fit in…and many other seasons too numerous to mention.

Whatever season you’re in right now isn’t going to last the rest of your life. Most likely anyway.

Yesterday during yoga the instructor asked us to think about what season we’re in right now in our lives. Out of four people who shared two of us said something positive and it was obvious that we are in a good season and two said something that could be seen as negative…or at least unsettled. I would guess that’s how it probably shakes out no matter where you go.

I used to be in a season of stress and feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and unsure how I had gotten myself into the whole situation in the first place. I found myself living 10 hours away from home and family, teaching full time, single parenting, a home owner of an old house, and various other jobs and responsibilities that I had somehow taken on that often started to feel more like duty.

I was in that season a long time.

I am now in a season of peace, serenity, calm and simplicity. My life has greater clarity and focus. I have time. Every day I have to remind myself not to think ahead and worry or wonder about the next season but to simply enjoy this one for what it is.

In talking with others I find that when we share and pray for one another sometimes when you’re in a good season it feels awkward to be honest about it when they are in a bad season. Basic human decency and kindness suggests that it might be rude or unkind to be on top of the world when your friend isn’t.

But…when I’m on top of the world, the good news is I have something to offer, to give, to help someone else who isn’t. I know how it feels to be in a hard season…being on top of the world doesn’t change those memories. And maybe that’s how life actually should work anyway. Those of us in a good season, helping and loving those who aren’t. And then vice versa when life changes as it will for us.

In my writing on this blog lately I sense that I’m brimming with joy and peace and I’m aware that if you’re going back to school or if you never had a break from your job at all, if you’re struggling with the weight of life right now…you could read my writings and feel envy or jealousy, or just hurt.

I vowed to myself that when I was on sabbatical I wouldn’t try to stir up any of those feelings in anybody because I know what they feel like. When you’re in a bad season it doesn’t take much to go down those paths.

So today…if you’re in a rough season of life I just want to pray for you and offer help in whatever way I can.

Life is full of seasons and changes, ups and downs, moments when we feel overwhelmed and stressed and hopefully moments of calm and focus. God for those who are struggling today in the season they’re in…encourage them, inspire them to have courage. For those who need to make changes but aren’t sure how, give them a first step in a new direction that will bring the changes they need and desire. For those who are weary and heavy laden, give them your rest God and take their burden. For those who are hurting and feel alone…bring comfort and Your Presence God, hold them together. For those who are feel trapped…bring freedom. For those who don’t know where to turn next and wake up in the night full of anxiety about the future…lead them in your ways, break the bonds of anxiety and fear. For those who don’t know how they’ll pay the bills or have enough money to feed their family…God provide for their needs and show them ways of getting help. For those who feel so desperate and hopeless…God give them hope to hang on. For all of us, help us to live very aware of Your constant presence. Help us to be in relationship with you where we talk with you and listen to you all day long. Speak to us from Your Word. And help us to be faithful to be in Your Word to hear from you. When we are afraid lead us to still waters, cause us to pour out our hearts before you. Bring to our minds the needs of others so that we can pray and care for them better. If we need help and someone around us could actually give help…cause us to ask for it, break through our pride and embarrassment over not having all the answers. For those of us who are in a good season right now…thank you. Show us your ways, teach us how to live…make us aware of ways to help others. We know it is better to give than to receive. If we can help someone else today, be Your hands and feet, then make us aware of the opportunity and cause us to desire to take it. We trust you in every season of life God. We know this life is so uncertain in so many ways and yet when we are anchored in You…we are secure.

Amen.

Peace to you on this Tuesday.

 

Today’s thoughts

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Today I’m working hard on the next area of my house in my efforts to clear clutter and clean. So far my basement and shed are in pretty good shape. I’m hoping that those were probably the least fun areas and now it will be a little more manageable doing the living areas. Today I’m out in the great outdoors…redoing our front porch.

I already emptied it entirely last night. Which is always kind of shocking to remove everything and see how much dirt we were really living in. Well it is a porch so I guess that’s to be expected…but it’s an enclosed porch hooked to our house.

It had a swing, two chairs, camping stuff out the wazoo, shoes…seriously, every shoe we own which is a whole lot, a variety of yard tools, my hope chest (I know that makes no sense but it’s one of those things where it didn’t fit into the rest of the house so it ended on up on the porch.), holiday decorations, lawn chairs, balls and racquets, rain gear, snow sleds and stuff related with cars and winter…a crazy amount of stuff for one porch.

Our porch runs along the front of our house, so it’s a good sized enclosed porch, but still…too much.

So…I started by taking all of the yard stuff out to the shed. That helped. I then took all of the random tools and snow sleds down to the basement. I also took the holiday stuff down to the basement and was able to easily put it away since I had already organized that space. I’m giving away a chair to a friend so that will clear out some space. I’m getting rid of a big piece of wood today, hopefully…I’m putting a free sign on it out at the road and probably making a trip to a dumpster to throw away the old blinds which had long sense lost any color. I’m also throwing away a rug that was on the floor.

I have a stack of stuff sitting in my front room right now that I will go through before putting my porch back together. I definitely want to get rid of more. I’m hoping that when I’m done my porch will be really open and breezy, have one chair and our swing and a few other things…but very few. The space right now feels wonderful.

Today I’m cleaning it up and scraping the old paint. I’ve never painted parts of the porch before so I have no idea how old the paint is…but it’s peeling in places and will need to have some attention before I can just apply a new coat of paint. I purchased exterior paint for the walls and floor paint that’s supposed to be really resilient for the floors (Hope it works) The girls helped me pick out some colors, nothing bold. In fact the colors are very understated. Just slight hints of color, mostly just light and breezy. We’re going for a more beachy feel around here. Lightening things up.

I hope to get the ceiling and trim done either today or tomorrow and then the walls and floor on another day. Once I get going I know it won’t take long. Probably longer to scrape and clean it up to get ready to paint.

It’s a little inconvenient having to live with the mess right now in our front room but I’m trying to keep perspective that this is how it always is when you try and improve things. You have to sit with the mess for a little while to see improvement.

Our front porch is our first impression…I have to admit, I’m glad we’re redoing it…it wasn’t the greatest first impression.

I’m reorganizing some stuff, trashing some stuff, giving away some stuff and keeping some. This decluttering is a continual process.

I’m always amazed at the stuff I spent money on thinking we would use it more often…yesterday when I threw away some pool floaty things I realized we probably only used them a couple of times. It challenges me to think more before any further purchasing. Honestly…unless I’m going to use something fairly regularly it just isn’t worth the purchase.

Yesterday I also looked over my budget again as I approach very quickly my last teacher pay check for a year or more. I’ve tightened everything down as much as I possibly can. We should be ok. There are always unexpected things that come up…but we should be alright. I’m hoping to eventually have 20 students in my private voice and piano business. I have no idea if that will happen or not…but hope so. Thankfully right now we are not dependent on that goal. Although it would definitely make life a little easier.

The good news is…while I see people commenting and lamenting about summer being almost over…I feel no dread. I enjoyed my summer and am still enjoying it and absolutely am ok with this fall season coming on. I am in no hurry. I am not counting down to anything. I am enjoying each day as it comes for probably the first time in my life. I am at peace. Content. Not living in the lap of luxury by any means…but perfectly content and grateful.

My girls are too. They are ahead in their schooling and so yesterday we took a day off when my daughter got her driver’s license. We went out to lunch with a friend and enjoyed the day at home. No stress. Today they’re back at school…but we just had the freedom to eat a good chocolate chip pancake breakfast together and a cup of coffee. And they will still be done  most likely by early afternoon.  My youngest daughter is really enjoying her Latin class. I never dreamed that she would so get into it, but I’m glad she is. She even told me she’s enjoying reading The Scarlet Letter right now, which I consider a small miracle. My oldest daughter is doing well also.

I keep reminding myself…this is probably not the life for a lot of people, but it surely is for us. As a family it feels really good to be in sync with all of our needs at the same time.

I’ve been in more contact lately with friends and family…I’ve just had more time to realize that I want to contact them or get together. Usually, that would’ve just got pushed behind the duties of life. I’m even thinking that I might do Bible Study Fellowship this year (a ladies bible study done during the day). It’s always been something I’ve heard other ladies doing and wished that I could. I think I might.

This is a really good season in my life. I don’t share this to make you envious if you’re not in a good season. I share this because I’ve been the envious one…for years…and now that I’m here I just can’t help but be grateful. Seasons come and go. I have no idea what the future holds…but this season is rich in everything that matters to me. Time with God, time with my girls, making a home, contact with friends and family, writing, creating, healthy living, frugal living…and probably some other things that I haven’t thought of 🙂

Is this a good season in your life? If not…I can understand. I’ve been there. I know that life all to well. What is one or two things you might be able to do today to head in a direction that might make it a better season for you? I’m talking small stuff. Maybe a change of schedule or of healthy habit, maybe a change of your budget or change in time spent with God, maybe a change of diet or a change of career…maybe a change of where you live or what you drive…who knows, but I believe that small changes do add up to big change over time.

If you are in a good season…I celebrate with you. Share your gratitude…the world will be richer for it.