making peace

I've had a publicly difficult relationship with the month or so following Christmas. Growing up December 26 was the Worst of All the Days, because that meant that all the anticipation and advent and merriment were over. And I was rarely fooled by New Year's. New Year's Eve and Day just aren't as fun, and if you pretend otherwise, you're lying.

The past couple of years, though, I've finally started to make some peace with the last week in December. I can't definitively say the same for January, but if I can move past my childhood dread of the end of December, then maybe someday I can make good with January too.

Adulthood has introduced me to the frantic aspects of December. While I did make a point to step back throughout the month and simply enjoy the season, I admit to liking this liminal period before reality hits hard next week. We've had an easy dose of routine mixed with a healthy amount of vacation mode. My to-do lists have dwindled, replaced by brainstorming and daydreaming about what 2015 will bring.

I started reading the Outlander series, which I've seen pop up on some of my favorite blogs over the past year. It's adventurous and intriguing, with a dose of smut thrown in for good measure. It's delightful vacation reading, and now that I'm fully immersed in the 18-century Scottish Highland, I keep calling Asher "my wee bairn." So. (Knowing that I have seven more books after this first one makes me feel giddy. Is this what it feels like to read Harry Potter straight through for the first time?)

My in-laws' gifted me an online script lettering class for Christmas, and now I'm itching to get my hands on some good graphite pencils so I can start practicing. I went to Michael's today to pick up some basic supplies and was so underwhelmed by the brand selection and appalled at the prices, that I'm just going to order them on Amazon instead.

I like having this week after Christmas to slow down and dawdle out the rest of the year. Giving my mind and heart a rest has been oh so good for me. How do you feel about the end of the year? Have your attitudes about it changed as you've gotten older?

Happy New Year!


cracking the case

I think I've put my finger on why my posting has dwindled so dramatically this year. It's not like I feel that I owe anyone an explanation about my posting (or lack thereof): I honestly wanted to know why my brain has rewired itself to the point where I can hardly think of things to write about. And recently I figured it out.

First I actually have many things I can write about. Writing is how I process emotions and events and thoughts, and I need it. But these past several months I've felt this pull to be more private with my thoughts and my family. I can't exactly explain why I feel this pull, and I don't plan on making this blog private; but that shift in my mentality has obviously affected what I write about and when I write about it.

Lately my mind has been full of dreams and prayers. I've been focusing more on what I want for me and my family and less on what others may expect from me. I've felt the gravity of my role as a mother and the importance of my role as a woman and a friend. I've been refining my relationship with God and figuring out who and what He wants me to be. So it's been a full year, even if I haven't shared as much of it with you as I have in years past.

Life is so good, and I'm so happy to be living it (though I may not post much about it right now). Thanks for sticking with me, even when I withdraw. For now, I'd expect posting to be about the same as it has been: minimal. And I'm realizing that minimal is okay right now. Life comprises a million and one seasons, and right now I'm in a season that calls for less blogging and more present living. You understand. I'm positive a long and prosperous writing season is in my future.

So merry Christmas, and I hope your holiday is as lovely as I expect mine to be! Christmas with a lively toddler is bound to be both magical and exhausting. I'm off to live it!


these days

These days I've been

:: listening to the Serial podcast like every other 20- and 30-something Millennial in the country
:: making Christmas lists, but not yet checking them twice
:: fawning over pictures of my fresh-from-heaven niece
:: managing our road-trip preparations through All the Lists
:: continuing to power through the now-streamable Gilmore Girls
:: starting a new Christmas-themed cross-stitch sampler
:: loafing around in faux-fur-lined, sequin slippers
:: paying a doctor copay to be told that our resident toddler "just has a virus"
:: sneaking Trader Joe's dark PB cups from my baking cupboard
:: stocking up on all the snacks from Trader Joe's all in the name of our upcoming Oregon - Utah road trip
:: smearing Nutella on all the toast
:: calling Josh when Asher gets dressed and says, "Me look good!"
:: scheming to get a babysitter so I can go see Mockingjay
:: enjoying making our way through Doctor Who ("About time," says all our Doctor Who - fan friends)
:: jamming to the Pentatonix Christmas albums
:: drinking all the cocoa

It's been a lovely November, really. I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is a week away. We're headed to Utah so that our family can all be together with Emily and her new baby. We're road-tripping there, which means 13 hours in the car with a toddler. We're also driving down with Josh's parents, so I'm crossing my fingers that four adults will be sufficient to manage one toddler on such a long trip.

I have all the laundry and all the cleaning to do before tomorrow night, not to mention all the packing. So, I'll sign off. I hope your Thanksgiving is so lovely and that you're surrounded by family and wassail and rolls. All the rolls.


final thoughts

And here we are, the end of October with far fewer than 31 posts about contented living. This topic certainly has more facets to explore, but today I'll leave you with a thought that's been settling in me all month.

One of my friends commented on a post earlier in this series joking about how maybe I could divulge the key to contented living. The thing is that everyone's contented life will look different. What makes me content is different from what makes you content. And that's okay. The key, though, is simple. The secret is one that we all must discover on our own before true contented living is possible.

{If we are to live a contented life, we must listen to God to know when to move and when to rest.}

A contented life is one inextricably tied up with trust in the Savior. A contented life is defined by our relationship with our Heavenly Father, because the more we come to know Him and how He speaks to us, the better we can discern when to move and when to rest.

Contented living is as much about growth and evolution and change as it is about acceptance and peace and stillness. The key is knowing how to balance it, and the key to balance is Jesus Christ. I know that not all my readers believe what I do, and I hope I'm not alienating anyone by being so forthright. The truth is that everything meaningful and good in my life--contented or otherwise--exists because the Savior, and I can't pretend otherwise. The way I live my life is inexorably connected to my relationship with God, and I'm not going to hide that from you. 

I hope that as you go through your days that you can find manifestations of Heavenly Father's love for you, because it is real and unending and powerful (even if you're not sure He exists at all). I hope that you can find contentment within that love, that you can find peace and purpose, direction and motivation. A contented life is one wherein we relinquish control in favor of faith in One who knows us and loves us. Contentment is knowing and embracing that we are small yet important, weak yet bursting with powerful potential.

Thank you for following along this somewhat inconsistent series. I'll be back sometime in November with a good list post for you!

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


a confession

So. Obviously I have not been posting every day this month. Here's the truth: I burned out. And when I burned out I started producing lackluster content. As the host of this whole 31-days thing wrote, "You don't need my obligation."

I have a couple more thoughts I'd like to explore with you this week, so don't fear: I'm not completely giving up. The thing is that contented living means knowing your limits, and my limits this month fell short of the daily posting.

Thanks for understanding, readers. I truly have enjoyed this topic and its exploration, even when my posts haven't met the "official" goal.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


Austen on contented living

This morning I was reclining on the couch reading a book, while my husband and son played on the floor with the wooden train set. Asher was intent on the train path, and Josh and I laughed at Asher's words and rudimentary sentences. It was all very content.

And then it's easy to wonder why I can have such a peaceful, happy, and fulfilling Saturday morning while another mother around the world can't find food to feed her children. Enter Jane Austen, who gives us one of the keys to contented living.

Photograph by Rick Harrison (Flickr).

True contented living is accompanied by a healthy dose of humility. The moment entitlement enters into your heart is the moment your life becomes smug instead of contented. Contented living is recognizing that peace is not only a gift, but a manifestation of the Divine. And when it comes to heavenly things, we can't help but see ourselves for how both small and grand we are as children of God.

Part of contented living--and also gracious living--is accepting our blessings and allowing ourselves to be happy, even when we don't have the answers to the world's inequity. If the Savior can take care of me and my family, then He can also care for the hungry, poor, and sick. Not to say that I can kick back and not act when I'm needed, but rather, when we find ourselves facing a period of contentment, we should allow ourselves to embrace it rather than feel guilty about it.

The thing is that we don't do anything to "deserve" whatever happiness we have. So what we need to do is live with gratitude and seek for the contentment within our blessings.

One last shout-out needs to go to Holly, who designed all the Saturday printables for this series. She is seriously talented, and it's been so much fun working with her on this!

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


year four

Four years ago Josh and I knelt across from each other at an altar in the Denver Colorado Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At the ceremony there were no photographers, no string quartet, no printed programs. We were dressed in white and surrounded by most of our dearest family and friends. We sat in the holiest of places, the air charged with the presence of unseen angels. We looked each other in the eyes and made promises to each other and to God. We chose to be sealed as husband and wife forever. That day was beautiful.

The years following that first day of marriage have seen both laughter and tears. Contentment in marriage isn't a constant, unfortunately. It comes in moments of grace from heaven, moments to be imprinted on our souls as a confirmation that yes, you chose this life and it is good. A contented marriage is won from work and love and sacrifice and more love again.

Contentment in marriage is a divine blessing, a rest for the soul and an anchor for the heart. This life of mine with Mr. Wilson is far from perfect, but I love it and I love him.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


spooky reading update

I'd like to interrupt the regularly scheduled 31-days series for a quick update on my spooky reading.

I had slated Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice for this month, and last night I decided to quit reading it. I don't quit books often, but this one is not only slow going as far as narration style goes, but the brand of creepy didn't jive well with me. I like a good creepy book: Dracula and Something Wicked This Way Comes are both excellent reads with a significant creepy factor. But the creepiness in the Rice novel made me feel icky more than intrigued. So I quit.

We don't have much time left in the month--if you can believe that!--but I decided to dive into The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, a lovely little novella that I'm hoping will make me laugh and smile. And I think I'll try and get through a Wilkie Collins novel by the end of the month. Wilkie Collins is a mystery writer from the 19th century, and I've really enjoyed what I've read of him. His books are actually free in the Kindle store, so I just downloaded The Haunted Hotel on to my iPad.

If you decide to forge ahead and continue reading Interview with the Vampire I'd love to know what you think about it. And if you want to switch gears with me and try out some Wilkie Collins, let me know what you pick!

Happy reading!

what productive discontent looks like

{simplyfreshdesigns.com--this may have been in their now-on-hiatus Etsy shop, so I'm using this image purely for graphics, not as a printable. Thanks for respecting others' property.}

We need discontent. And yes, we've talked about this. Yes, we all have seasons of discontent throughout our lives. So what do we do with them? 

We get to work.

Unhappy at your job? Either make your job work, or find a new one. Discontent in your home? Identify the source and find a solution. Stuck in a toxic relationship, romantic or otherwise? Change it. The thing about discontent is that it can suck us in and keep us there if we let it. Yes, discontent has a time and place, but sometimes it will want more than it deserves. And we need to fight it. Work your brain, your body, your spirit. 

Discontent can be a trigger to let you know when something in your life is off-kilter. Last spring, I had a weird month, a really weird month. I felt completely unlike myself, and I eventually hit the point where I told my husband, "I'm not happy, and I don't know why." That was my trigger that said, Something isn't right. So I researched and searched every cranny of my brain to figure out why I felt the way I did, and soon enough I found the problem: hormones. My pharmacy had switched my generic brand of birth control because of an availability issue, and while I was informed of it, I hadn't made much note of it. I felt every light go on in my mind when I discovered the root of my discontent: pesky hormones. I promptly called my doctor and found a pharmacy that could get the brand I was used to. Discontent: taken care of.

Now, not every period of discontent in our lives will be as straightforward as my birth control example. My point, however, is clear: use discontent as the impetus for change. Use it productively, and don't succumb to the doldrums. Get to work

***I should note here that mental illness is exempt from this work-solves-all-your-problems mentality. Some brands of discontent are rooted in brain chemistry and should be treated appropriately. Obtaining appropriate treatment from health care professionals is certainly a part of contented living.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.


a heart like the Savior's

The more I study contented living, the more I realize that learning to be content--and discontent--is all part of a grander endeavor to become like Jesus Christ. Much of what a contented heart comes down to is trust in God's plan for our lives.

Living contentedly means knowing that God will guide us and direct us, that even amid the storms in our lives, peace is there if we but seek it. We may not have control over what happens in our lives, but we can control our hearts. We can choose who we become and we can act accordingly. 

Contented living is about choosing and trusting and seeking, moving forward and letting go all at once. And while I can't seem to articulate precisely how that makes our hearts like our Redeemer's, I know that it does. Contented living is in so many ways Christlike living.

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.
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