Category Archives: Reading Corner

Are you LOL?

This morning, as I headed out the door to the dentist (yet again!), C locked the door behind me. For a moment, I reflected on the increased ease I have in my schedule. No longer are my days dictated by naps, diaper changes, or babysitters. Though still in the throes of motherhood, I’ve loosened my grip on the reins considerably.  I can direct the girls to finish their lessons without me, fix their own dinners, and turn off the lights when they head up to bed long after I’m asleep. With every step towards the empty nest years, they assume more responsibility and I am granted more freedom to rediscover who I am and plot the course for my next chapter.

One of my favorite excavation tools is books. I collect them like a child collects seashells at the shore. I also believe they are among the most personal gifts I give. I am not faithful to one genre, though I do tend to favor books that carry an inspirational message, be they fiction or non-fiction. Amazon loves me. No, they love my credit card.  Last year, around this time, I was shopping Amazon for journals for my girl’s Christmas stockings. I looked first for A’s; I wanted something with writing prompts but not heavy or deep. Playful. I wanted playful prompts for my reluctant writer, who happens to be a perfectionist. That’s when I discovered the author, Keri Smith, and her series of playful, inspiring journals.

The first journal placed in my cart was, Wreck This Journal: To Create Is To Destroy. It begins with a warning that, “during the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet…You may grieve the perfect state that you found this book in….” She dedicated it “perfecectionists all over the world.”  The directed activities are “outside the box” play. For example, “Collect your pocket lint. Glue it here.” and “Doodle on the top of: the cover, the title page, the instructions, the copyright page. Fold down the corners of your favorite page.” and “Drip something here. (ink, paint, tea) Close the book to make a print.” Smith’s fun activities, which are afforded ample room on the pages to fulfill, encourage the perfectionist to let go and simply have fun. Though barely touched, I am still encouraging my young, beautiful, analytical perfectionist to play her way through it, and she is learning the only thing shared between perfection and play is the letter p.

The next journal added to my cart would be for my energetic, bouncy C; How to be an Explorer of the World: Portable Art Life Museum. The back cover states, “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.” Smith’s activities encourage self discovery through observation. She directs her reader to observe and map out the cracks in a street, notice and record color by collecting paint chips and to glue them to the preceding page, and to study the language of trees by collecting various pieces fallen from a tree and playing with them in different arrangements. She wants her reader to not just look at the world around them but to see the world through different lenses. For the writer and world traveler that lives within C, Smith’s book offered a reminder to never see the world through “stale eyes” no matter where you are in the world.

The last I stumbled upon, Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life , was added to my cart for me, and another copy for my sister. In it, Smith writes,” Play is the most important element is discovering who your are. Play will lead you right into you deepest desires.” And, I love to play. Hidden in the pages are ideas that I have found in other books, but these are wrapped in play and encouraging words. On page 48, she shares “Ten Things I’ve Learned From Women” before encouraging her reader to make their own list. On page 68, she teaches the reader how to make a smudge stick and on 69 directs the reader to “write a letter to yourself in the future…five, ten, or twenty years from today.” My copy is marked with Post-it tabs and is scribbled in throughout. It’s fun. It’s inspiring. It’s my reminder to LOL, Live Out Loud.

How do you remind yourself to live out loud every day?

For more on Keri Smith’s fun journals, visit this link to start you on your exploration:

Amazon.com: Keri Smith Boxed Set (9780399536557): Keri Smith: Books

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Driving through fog–on purpose

Many days, I feel a bit like a living oxymoron. I am a “Social-Homebody,” an “Introverted-Extrovert.” I love sharing time with people, but I also love being home. I love being with my family, but sometimes I wish they’d all go out and leave me home alone. I am a walking contradiction. I think most women feel that way at times, like we are living a dual-life. If I was in a James Bond movie, I might be the “double agent.” Life in the Colorado suburbs isn’t that glamorous. Besides, I don’t think any of the “Bond Women” were in their late-40’s. And, truthfully, I’m not accustomed to defending myself against anything other than the occasional teen “snipe.”

Yesterday, we had snow. Not tons. Not enough to cancel events or create “closures.” But last night was one of those nights I could have easily curled up in front of the fire, bowl of chili and a blanket on my lap and mindless programming on the TV. It would have been an easy night to stay home–again. But, I had signed up for a program at our library “to help me grow.” There was a local author coming to speak on finding purpose in the throes of motherhood. I didn’t sign up with a friend, just me. There was no one else I was accountable to. I watched the snow fall on and off all day. I vacillated on going. It was cold and it was only going to get colder after sunset. The roads would be icy–perhaps treacherous. (I live a whole 5 minutes from our library.) Maybe she wasn’t really addressing moms like me; “transitioning moms,” moms that are past the elementary years and looking at the “empty nest” years. I checked her website. No exclusions listed; she didn’t discriminate. I checked the library website. Maybe the author had cancelled. The phone rang. The caller I.D. showed the library’s familiar number. “Whew!” I thought, “They are calling to cancel. I didn’t back out–they did!” But, they didn’t. The gal at the other end was calling to let me know the program was still on and to confirm my attendance. It was decision time. Perhaps I was still whirling from a Halloween sugar high, but I am certain the proverbial Devil and Angel appeared on my shoulders screaming, “Stay home!” and “Go!” into my ears. The consequences of a dual life.

Well, as the story goes, good triumphed over evil. I left the chili on the stove, the blanket on the couch and my family in front of the TV. And, I was really, really glad I had! (Getting over that threshold always seems the hardest part for me, but I am usually really glad when I get to ____________.) The group was small, only 6 women plus the author. The author’s two children are close in age to mine (a year apart on each.) There was another mom, the Director of the Children’s Library, who has children older than ours. The other 4 women were all in the “little years.” It was a good group; diverse, but bonded by motherhood. It gave me a new appreciation for how fast the years have passed.

Some hours last days and others last minutes. This was one of those fast hours. The author, Cindy Skerjanec, is a dynamic speaker. She is charismatic and her passion and light fill a room. She began by sharing her story, her journey to finding her purpose that lead her to pen her first book, Finding Purpose at the Speed of Motherhood. She passed out a worksheet to help us follow along. I nodded so often I fear I looked like a bobble-head sitting in the front of the room. (Another oxymoron: Restrained-Cheerleader.) Had I heard some of what she had said before? Yes. But, somehow it felt new, fresh. I believe that we often hear the same message over and over so that when we are ready, we can internalize it and make it our own. There were things I heard last night that I knew I was ready to make my own. It was worth the cold drive. I had been stirred. I ruminated on her message as I made my way home.

On the drive home from the library, I pass a pond. Last night, a layer a fog had crept from the water’s surface and settled across the road. I could see it from the distance as I approached. I watched as the tail lights in front of me disappeared in the murky layer of mist. I felt my hands tighten around the wheel. I would rather drive on ice than through fog. I have always disliked the feeling of not being able to clearly see what is in front of me. Yes, I know, it’s tied to that “control thing” I have. I focused on the road in front of me and the messages of the evening’s talk.

As I entered into the fog, I felt a strange sense of calm blanket me. Coming from the Bay Area, I have driven in fog many a time, but never have I felt such a calm. I saw clearly; the fog was the perfect metaphor for the evening. As I inched my way through the mist, using my skills and a large heaping of trust, I found my way to the other side, where the cloud lifted and clarity awaited me. It was an Oprah “Aha!” moment.  Driving through the fog mirrors self-discovery and “purpose excavation.” Sometimes, you can’t see very far in front of you, but if you just keep inching along, and trust, that clarity will come.

Sometime back, I wrote A mother’s pearls . I wrote about “pearls of wisdom” my mother had shared with me. I hadn’t planned on buying Cindy’s book last night. I have a stack of books I have yet to read. It’s not in the budget. I have already started the journey to discover my purpose. The list of excuses “not to” had begun before I stepped foot in the library. Then, I spent an hour with Cindy. She had pearls to offer last night. She has pearls to offer in her book. I heard the little voice within say, “Invest in yourself–even if it sits for 6 months.” (Which it won’t. Started it at 5 this morning.)

I’m at a really great point in my mothering journey. It’s an exciting time. The possibilities are limited only by my imagination. My “baby birds” are still in the nest, preparing to take flight. And, this mama is getting ready to take flight, too.

What might you do to start finding your purpose, today?

To learn more about Finding Purpose at the Speed of Motherhood, visit the website at:

http://momsfindingpurpose.com/

Or, visit Cindy’s blog at:

inspiration, Moms Finding Purpose Cindy’s Blog