I am most myself when I am centered in a creative space. I see and feel the world differently. I am more open, more grateful, more passionate. I remain more aware of the wonder that surrounds me. Reading transports me both far away and deep within. Crochet is my meditation. It soothes the rough edges of my busy days. Please join me as I share the pages I have been turning and the yarn I have been hooking this week.
I am a firm believer that the Universe has a way of exposing us to what we need in our lives. These gifts from the Universe may be big or small, serious or lighthearted, life changing or sweet simple reminders. I simply try to recognize these messages when they come my way. Several weeks ago I was aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed when I stumbled upon this link to an article about yarn bombing in Detroit. A group of crocheters called The Happy Hookers (don’t you just love that?) created a giant scarf and draped it around a well-recognized statue of Passo di Danza in an effort to raise awareness of the homeless population and their struggle to stay warm during these bitter cold winter months. I was moved by the idea of such a large and public installation of crochet and its ability to create awareness. Crochet and art and politics all together — awesome!
Then, just a few days later, I was catching up on one of my very favorite blogs, Walk Slowly Live Wildly, and saw Sarah’s post about yarn bombing her backyard. I was hooked (I know, such a predictable pun from a crocheter…)! I immediately ordered the book pictured above, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti and pulled my yarn stash out of the box in the basement. I finally knew exactly what to do with all of the icky acrylic yarn I had been collecting for years. I was so inspired by the beautiful images and patterns in this book I put my hook to work immediately. I decided to yarn bomb the suburbs!
After a couple of late nights and yards and yards and yards of long forgotten yarn, I had created a very respectable crocodile stitch sweater for our front tree. My girls and I sewed it on this past Sunday evening with the sun setting and the temperatures dropping. They were so excited that our much loved tree would finally be warm and cozy. I have to admit, I feel pretty satisfied about it too. Not only is our tree wrapped in warmth, but this feels like our, if ever so small, protest against the homogeneous nature of the suburbs we live in. This is our little expression of rebellion. It makes me giggle with glee. We’ll see how long the homeowners association tolerates our difference — they don’t like different. At. All. For now, I’ll continue to smile every time I pull up in the car or peek through our front window and see our yarn bomb in the suburbs.
I still have quite a bit of lower quality yarn that I want to use up, so this sweater may get a sleeve, or two or three, in the future. I’ll keep you posted!
My mind quiets and my well fills when I am engaged with a good book or when my hands are busy creating something beautiful. If you feel moved to share what you have been reading or creating, please leave a link in the comments below so we may revel in each other’s creative pursuits.
It was Field Day week for us last week. Lots of running and playing and fun was had by all. These photos seemed appropriate for today. Thanks Eric for taking so many fantastic photos of Willow’s Field Day while I was busy trying to keep all the kindergarteners running in the right directions!
I don’t know exactly when or why it happened, but something has shifted inside of me. I have been making personal changes right and left in recent days. It’s a little crazy really, but I am feeling amazing, so naturally, I had to come here and share them with you!
I spontaneously decided I needed to become a morning person and say good-bye to my night owl ways. I naturally tend to stay up until 1 or 2am then find myself forever dragging the next day. While in the thick of my struggle with Lyme Disease I tried to let myself sleep whenever I was tired, and developed the oh, so unproductive habit of a completely unregulated sleep pattern. One day last week I woke (late) and wondered, while I was rushing around trying to get the kids off to school on time, why the heck I was doing what I was doing. Frankly, I got fed up of missing out on life with my kids – I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who slept all the time. My Lyme is manageable at this moment in time so I have no excuse. I found myself setting my alarm for 5:30. AM. I was shocked when I found myself shutting it off and sitting up to start the day instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. It just felt like the right thing to do.
The first few days I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep early enough to get a full night of rest before that ugly alarm went off again, but I knew that eventually my body would stop compensating and start sleeping when it should. I just had to keep pulling myself out of bed at the same time every morning and keep the napping to a single twenty minute power nap when I need a quick recharge. It’s working! I fell asleep last night by 10pm without a problem and greeted the day easily when that alarm sounded. Yay!
I didn’t announce my intentions to my family before I started this new routine because I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me if I couldn’t do it. Let’s just say they have all been pleasantly surprised to find Mama up before the sun happily packing their lunches and stirring their oatmeal when they find their way to the kitchen first thing in the morning. I love that the tone of our day is set with calm and laughter instead of the rushing and yelling that used to populate our mornings. I’m also treasuring the extra time my early rising allows with my big kids before they head off into their days. Kissing my hubby good-bye isn’t so bad either!
I tend to bite life off in big chunks, so it should come as no surprise that I also decided to establish a few other new habits while I was at it. I now stop eating after 7pm so my digestive track can have a decent rest each night. I like to snack late into the evening but inevitably end up with reflux and discomfort all night and still feel full in the morning. It’s such an unhealthy cycle to get caught in, especially with a sensitive system like mine. The change I have felt has been remarkable! I wake up feeling hungry and ready for my day instead of full and sluggish and yucky. Such a simple thing – a nightly fast – has completely eliminated some of the lingering digestive issues I have struggled with for years.
I’m also finding time, with all of these extra hours my day, to start working on getting my fitness groove back. Once upon a time I ran, I rock climbed, I did yoga. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t do something active. Again, it was easy to rationalize some bad habits over the years – I had kids, a whole bunch of kids – and a serious health issue. Now, all of my kids are old enough to keep themselves occupied for an hour and while my health isn’t perfect, I am definitely well enough to do some regular exercise. I know in the long run I will feel better both physically and mentally if I work to stay strong and vital. So far I have been doing whatever sounds like fun each day – some yoga, some pilates. Today I even popped in my husband’s Insanity workout (on the computer – remember, no TV) and worked up a serious sweat.
As if that wasn’t enough change, I’m also trying to finally, finally, release the hold that sugar has on me. My intake of sugar has a huge impact on the inflammation I feel from my Lyme Disease. It’s a simple equation, the more sugar I eat the more pain I feel. So, “Bye-bye sugar!” I am even trying to limit the amount of sugar I am eating from fruit. Dates taste like candy bars now, so it’s easy to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard. The lingering pain I have in my facial nerve is lessening and I’m hoping this sugar detox continues to increase my feeling of health and wellness. I refuse to let Lyme limit me anymore.
I am feeling more and more like myself again after this most recent relapse of Lyme. That shift I have experienced feels very profound and still a bit hard to articulate, but at the same time it feels very certain. It feels like I have been able to grab the reigns back from the nebulous uncertainty that has been driving my life. I feel like, for the first time in a very long time, I am leading the way and directing the flow of my precious life energy. Lyme be damned.
With our family determined to move against the strong tide of mediocrity, I need to be prepared both mentally and physically for the journey. I need to be able to lead the way with strength and consistency. I know that I tend to be let things ebb and flow in my life, so I am determined this time to make these changes part of our new simple lifestyle.
Sleep well, eat well, care for my body – that’s my new personal rally cry.
I want to set an admirable example for my children by maintaining my value as an individual within this family unit of ours. I need to value not only my creative spirit, but the body that acts as its home. This is not a brand new idea to me, rather a renewed intention and a call to action. I deserve to feel well and so do you!
Who’s up to joining me with this rally cry? I would love to hear how you make yourself – your body and your wellness – a priority within your busy family/life. Let’s share and support each other!
Before we even wiped the sleep from our eyes this morning the sun called to us. It rose feeling hot, but still gentle, in the uniquely special way it does time of year. This time of not quite summer, but most decidedly not spring. This between the seasons time. I sliced up a luscious watermelon, juicy and red and ripe, chilled almost ice cold, and lured my family outside to our back deck without a spoken invitation. The the energy of the morning light and the taste of the sweet fruit was invitation enough. As our bodies began to wake, we eased into our day with laughter and slurping and silliness. Such simple pleasures – family and fruit and sunshine.
I hope that you, too, are able to soak in a bit of sun and sweetness during this long holiday weekend.
Much love from us to you!
It has been so long since I’ve spent time here at Less & More I feel like I owe you an apology, or rather, an explanation. As inevitably happens in life, our journey has taken a few unexpected twists and turns in the past few weeks. Let me share the short version with you before I go any further:
::We decided, for a number of reasons, that we are not moving out of the suburbs into the country this summer.
::I will probably not be able to homeschool my little people, as I had so been looking forward to, next year.
::My venus fly trap blossomed for the first time ever!
::We attended Willow’s end of the year Kindergarten Showcase.
::Eric had a blast running the Warrior Dash.
If you can wrap your head around all of that you are way ahead of me. I feel like I have been tossed into a hole and cannot find purchase enough to climb out. The list above is not exclusively filled with horrible happenings. In fact, much of the list is exciting and wonderful in nature. It’s those first two left-hand turns that have really thrown me for a loop. I feel like I need to work up to talking about those, so let me begin with a few of the more uplifting events.
I must admit, I am ridiculously excited about my venus fly trap blooming. I’m certain that I am placing way too much value on it, but clinging to it’s blooming as a metaphor for optimism and hope has been comforting to me, considering recent circumstances. Jarl and I purchased it on a whim while at our local nursery three years ago and it has been sitting on the window sill above our kitchen sink ever since. Occasionally, it looks like it is about to die, but – always and without fail – it manages to evade death. I have seen it with withered black leaves, shriveled and apparently dying one day, only to find that the very next day a new healthy green shoot is peeking up from the soil. It has never bloomed before – ever. That is, until last week. First, our little carnivorous plant pushed a single stem up and up and up. Then we watched as the small tight buds slowly formed and began to unfurl. Over the last few days it has been like watching fireworks in slow motion – one beautiful white explosion at a time. It has been a source of simple joy amidst so much chaos.
Willow is quickly approaching the end of her first year in school and, as is the convention these days, we were required to attend a little show put on by her class. The teachers want to show us what they have been so hard at work teaching our little ones and the kiddos just want a chance to show off and be the center of attention. I find it all a bit silly, but Willow was thrilled by the whole experience and I found myself happy simply because she was happy. It was a great excuse for Eric to take the afternoon off of work and for us to enjoy some time with just our littlest of little people for a few hours. There was much silliness and hat wearing that afternoon. I think Eric’s photo is especially hilarious – the children in Willow’s class all thought that he looked like good old Abe Lincoln.
You may not know this about my husband, but he is kind of wacky. He was a competitive fencer for years and years, is a total – self proclaimed – geography geek, loves snobby coffee and likes to run through mud. What can I say? Ya gotta do what makes you happy, right? His wackiness is actually one of the reasons I love him so much. He is absolutely unafraid to try something that looks like a challenge or like it might just be fun to try. This past weekend we found ourselves at a nearby race track watching hordes of like-minded wackos climb rope walls, jump over fire, and crawl through the mud. Of course the day ended with a hot smokey turkey leg and a cold beer. He had fun, Freja devoured her turkey leg and I got a heck of a sunburn. All in all, not a bed way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I suppose I can’t avoid them any longer – those tougher topics up at the top of my list. I am still not feeling very articulate about them, but I’ll do my best to at least explain the facts of our current situation. My emotional response to changes like the ones that have presented themselves recently always take a while longer for me to process, but I can at least share where I am at today.
I began this blog with the intention of documenting our journey toward a more simple life. A life away from the toxic energy of the suburbs, away from the hectic-ness of public schools, toward a simple and more beautiful life full of family and time together. I have had my heart set on moving out to the country for as long as I can remember and this was going to be our summer. We had been planning this move for so long, my heart has broken a little with the realization that it is not going to happen. Not right now, anyway.
We put in so many hours looking at properties trying to seek out the right combination of location and space and budget. Wow. I had no idea the rental market was so tough these days! We have been renting in our current location for four years and had no trouble at all – at all – finding a place to call home back then. Times have sure changed. With so many families renting instead of buying these days rentals are available for precisely a heart beat before they are snatched up. I believe we struggled especially because of the fact that we have a family of six and we wanted a smaller sized home. No one would believe us when we said that we were good with smaller. It’s all bigger, better, faster, more around here. That makes me so sad.
Needless to say, we could not find that magic combination of elements that would make it worth the financial and emotional stress to relocate our family. We finally had to admit our defeat and humbly ask our current landlord if we could stay here a bit longer. They graciously said yes and so it is that we will be revisiting a location change after our next whirl around the sun. Our little people are understandably relieved at not having to leave their friends, but I have been caught unprepared for another year with a parking lot in front of my house and the incessant humming of air conditioners all summer long.
Not moving is disappointing, but I think what really left me feeling stranded in that hole I mentioned before is the fact that because we are not relocating I am going to be on the hook to provide at least a small source of income for our family. My husband works hard, and earns a good living, but the simple fact of the matter is that we have a large family and we live in an expensive area. It is tough – I would go so far as to say it is a luxury – to be able to live on a single income these days. We obviously can pay all the bills and feed our hungry bellies well, but we don’t have much extra to save for our future dreams and for a bit of fun here and there. It’s time Mama got a job again. That’s life and that is what I have been wrestling with for the last few weeks.
We are still dedicated to our dream of a simple and more beautiful life, but we knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a journey filled with twists and turns and bumps. I believe fully that these unexpected challenges are what make the taste of fulfilled dreams so sweet. How we cope with these challenges will be a visible display of our character and resolve. I don’t know exactly what is going to happen next, (Whoa, that just took me by surprise.) but I am beginning to feel okay about that. Uncertainty is not something that I am usually very good at, but I’m trying to simply be present. Right now, in this moment, I feel like the universe is telling me to keep trying new things, to embrace this journey for what it is and to lighten up. Plans are all well and good, but you have to remember to live along the way. I have to remember to live in the here and now, to find joy in the life I am living right this second.
I am feeling the need to push my comfort zone and to challenge myself. I’m going to take a page right out of my husband’s book – I’m sure he won’t mind – and do what seems like it will be challenging and fun. Why the heck not, right? I need to feel alive and excited about the days I am living, not the days I wish I were living. I’m also going to explore new ways to bring in a few dollars so that we can still fulfill our dreams, however they evolve. I’m keeping my dreadlocks and refuse to sacrifice my relationship with my family this time around. I learned that lesson but good during my time as a restaurant manager. I won’t go down that road again! No amount of money is worth those sacrifices.
Any and all words of support and/or ideas would be more than welcome.
I promise to not let this hole get the best of me and I’m sorry that I pulled my life in so close to the vest over the last few weeks. It’s tough to share disappointment and failure publicly, but I made a promise to share the good the bad and the ugly with you so that we can collectively grow and learn together. That’s what I’ll be doing from now on.
I think it’s time to pour a glass of wine and dream big. Who knows what’s next?
Let me introduce you to my amazing sister, Nellie.
People say that we look alike. In fact, we seem to hear that every time we step out into public together. Personally, I love that. This sweet young thing is twenty-two, and I mean just, twenty-two. Being told that I might look even a bit like her is oh, so good for my fragile mid-thirties-mama-of-four self-esteem. Not only is this tender sweet young thing good looking, but she is also whip-smart, feminist-leaning, take-charge, caring, loving and pee-in-your-pants funny. When I grow up, I want to be more like her. Seriously.
This past weekend found me in Florida to help celebrate her latest life accomplishment. Nellie is a brand spankin’ new graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design‘s Digital Film Program. I could not be more proud of her. She is one of those rare people who discovered her calling at a young age and who has worked since then with singular focus and unrelenting drive to learn her craft. Watch out world, this bad-ass chick is going places! I envy her in so many ways. She is just now learning to spread her wings to their full width and potential – stretching out to take on the world. What an amazing sight to behold.
The weekend was a whirlwind of activity I am still trying to recover from. There was packing and cleaning and eating and graduating and family and a trip to the beach. I think Nellie had only been asleep for a few hours – there was just so much celebrating to be done – when I woke her and asked, “Beach?” With a stretch and a yawn, her response was, “Why not?” So it was that we made our way to nearby Siesta Key, with it’s silky smooth white sand and crystal clear blue water, at 7:30am the morning after her graduation.
This walk on the beach with my baby sister will be an experience I will forever treasure. As our bodies woke under the warmth of the sun we walked together. We talked some, we were quiet some and we laughed as only we can when we are with each other. We picked up shells, we splashed in the waves and we dozed in the sand. We breathed our way through a sun salutation or two. We noticed the birds and the fish and the people. It was funny and it was soulful. It was just us being us. It was perfect in every way.
Thank you, Nellie, for all that you are in my life. You are my sister and you are my friend. Thank you for laughing with me and for listening to me when I cry. Thank you for loving my babies and for being a part of my family. Thank you for getting angry at the same things I do and for your unsurpassed taste in movies. Thank you for every single late-night talk. Thank you for showing me what can be accomplished with determination and hard work and a sense of humor. Thank you for all that you are and for all that you will be. Congratulations on your success and thank you, thank you, thank you.
I should also mention that one of the great perks of having an art college graduate as your sister, is that when you hand her your big clunky camera and ask, “Could you take a few pictures?” the answer is almost always an enthusiastic, “Yes!” I rarely see any pictures of myself that I can stand, but my dear sister, of course, captured so many great images of me I had to choose just my favorites to share here. Thank you again, Nellie, for making this simple walk on the beach so special. I love you!
A special request – closeups of my dreads (three months old now!).