Too early?

by hollycombs

So I know it’s really a little too early to be getting into fall mode. But September does arrive on Monday, and it’s been cool enough to open the windows at night, and we are going camping next weekend, and I just got a new sweater, so I’m pretty much in fall mode at this point.

So I made myself some apple cinnamon oatmeal to go with my tea, and I’m making plans to hunt down a second red rocking chair from Cracker Barrel to match the first so we can sit and rock on the porch this fall. And I’m making lists of things I need to buy for our camping trip: charcoal, lighter fluid, hot chocolate (just the essentials, you can see).

It’s supposed to be back in the *90s this weekend, but I will not be deterred. I have requested Husband procure firewood in anticipation of the coming chill and I’m trying to figure out if I can afford a lovely pair of Muck Boots for the muddy season.

As I’ve been is house-remodel mode for months, I have been looking forward to fall, to slowing down, to enjoying owning a home in the country. This.

I guess I’d better get a move on refinishing those cabinets in the kitchen, and sealing the counter tops, because I can’t slow down until those are done. And I really, really want to whitewash the fireplace before we start using it. So here’s to buckling down and getting it done.

Refinishing cabinets

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{Moments of Inspiration}

by hollycombs

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Farm fresh eggs

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Working on Mornings

by hollycombs

A few thoughts as I work on making more of each day… The Rise & Shine thing is going okay. Not great, but okay. When school starts back up next week traffic is going to get worse and I’m going to need to leave the house earlier. So, not fun. Also, Husband has become very good at convincing me to stay under the warm covers just “a few more minutes” which inevitably turns into 20 minutes with both of our alarms sounding every 4 or 5…Sigh.

Maybe I need to set my alarm for 5:00, that way we have some time together in the morning before getting up and facing the day. And I still need a lamp in the garage so I don’t trip down the stairs when I go out to feed.

The good news is that I have been more intentional about doing little things, like putting in a load of laundry in the morning, or cleaning up the bathroom while I wait for the tea kettle to whistle. I’ve noticed that those little things bring me so much peace, I look around and see progress instead of chaos.

Also, the cooler weather and open windows are refreshing. And I love hearing the sounds of morning in the barn — Chappy nickers, Jane bleats, the rooster crows and the hens cluck. It almost sounds like a real homestead. I also get to check for eggs now. They seem to be laying early afternoon, but I can still check in the mornings, just in case. (As I told Husband yesterday: I like looking for these little gifts, it’s like Christmas everyday!)

A few more thoughts:

“If you are a late sleeper, you’re best plan is to try and get up 10 minutes earlier than the rest and use that time to your advantage to reclaim YOUR mornings.” – The Abundant Mama

In other words, not everyone is a morning person, and THAT’S OKAY.

Also, a challenge to think about the things I need right now. The two biggest ones that come to mind are rest and exercise. That’s why last night after feeding I made a cup of tea and sat in my rocking chair on the porch with a good book. I needed it. And it’s why Husband and I took the pup on a walk Sunday afternoon. I needed it.

Evening porch sitting

And, a challenge to identify the difference between my daily intentions and weekend intentions:

Daily:
Work Hard
Be Productive at Work
Maintain Home
Maintain Animals

Weekend/Saturday:
Be Productive at Home
Make Progress on House
Steward Home and Belongings
Give Special Care to Animals

Weekend/Sunday:
Church/Fellowship
Rest
Recharge
Focus on Husband

And, today’s challenge is to turn a morning ritual into a habit. I think, in this phase of life, my morning feeding is that ritual. I go outside, breathe fresh air, talk to the animals. I’m not sure how much I’ll like it once it gets cold, but right now it’s perfect. It gets me started in the morning. Maybe someday I’ll spend a few more minutes out there, grooming or just being with my girls. It’s good for me, I can feel it.

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Rise & Shine

by hollycombs

Rise and Shine?? Rise maybe, but not so much shining.

Alarms started going off at 4:45. No idea why, I think Husband was planning to get up early. So at least I was somewhat awake when my 5:30 alarm went off, but not enough to want to get out of bed. I finally untangled myself from the covers and various limbs (like, the dog’s) and rolled out of bed at 5:50. Not quite my 5:40 goal, but closer than yesterday.

I have just enough time in the mornings to slowly get things done, not much extra, but enough that I’m not rushing. I immediately go out to feed Chappy and Jane (Side note: I need a lamp in the garage. The overhead lights don’t like to turn on right away and it leaves me fumbling for my jacket and boots when I head out to feed before light). Then proceed to shower, dress, prepare for work, eat breakfast, pack my lunch (granted, Husband does the majority of lunch prep), and finish off my cup of tea before leaving for work. This morning, I even had time to start the dishwasher (granted, Husband mostly loaded it) and fill the humming bird feeder with fresh food. I have to say, it felt good just to have five minutes to do those two little things. How much more so if I can rise earlier?

sunrise
This morning’s sunrise.

The topic from the Rise & Shine Project today is to talk about nighttime rituals. Routines, and more importantly, rhythms are incredibly important to me. All the more so since I struggled with insomnia in college. I’ve tried a lot of different habits to help me get to sleep, but the most effective has been having a job that takes a lot of my energy =). These days, I am dragging myself to bed and fall asleep within a half hour of turning the light out, often even sooner, which is nothing short of miraculous.

There are a few things I do regularly though, that help me wind down. At the end of the day, I love to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine and talk with Husband, or watch a bit of a movie, or do something sedentary that slows my body down. And I have a basic routine of self-care just before bed, like brushing my teeth, washing my face, and generally taking care of myself physically so I feel fresh and clean. I also use a little spritz of lavender on my pillow to freshen the scent, I curl up under blankets with a good book and read for a few minutes, and when I’m fighting sleep to keep reading, I remind myself that sleep is a gift, turn out the light and roll over.

There are other things I’d like to add to my routine though, like selecting my outfit for the follow day so I don’t have to do it in the haze of morning. Maybe some Scripture reading with Husband. I used to be in the habit of straightening the living room and putting all the dog toys away.

So maybe tonight I’ll add a little more to the routine…

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Huperekperissou

by hollycombs

A few notes from church Sunday spurred me to thinking it is time for a bit of change in my life…

When we create, we worship God. Imagination is the closest we get to mirroring God’s ability to create something out of nothing.

Create for His glory.

Don’t let others run your life and your schedule. Set aside time to dow hat God has called you to do. Don’t let technology and the pave of life control you.

God calls us each beyond our comfort zones.

Huperekperissou refers to going way beyond what you can imagine. It’s a super superlative, describing how God can do everything we ask, He can do everything we can imagine, and He can do wildly beyond what we can imagine we can imagine.

God lives beyond the space we call possible.

Take on a challenge that requires God’s amazing power, and then give the glory to Him.

The one thing that struck me in the midst of the sermon, and followed me throughout the day, was the book I’ve been working on (I use that phrase loosely, very loosely) for about six years. Most of that time has been spent NOT working on it. Because things got in the way. I worked diligently when I lived in Ohio, by myself, in a little tiny, sleepy community, with no internet access or TV or anything. Then I moved to Virginia. I started a new job, grad school, another new job, met Husband, got married, moved 5 times, bought a house. Life has been full. And I have not been writing.

We’re busy with home renovations, but really, I see this as a lull time in our life. (Crazy to think that with how busy we are!) Post-school. Pre-kids. Ideal for writing. I hope.

My most productive time of day is really mid-morning (9:00-1:00). However, I spend those hours at work. I’ve tried writing during my lunch break, but the fact is that my brain needs a rest then, so knitting is a better occupation for that time. That leaves me wondering, when?

So I’m evaluating. Calculating. Looking over every inch of my schedule. Finding time. Finding energy.

To that end, this is my current schedule:

5:30 am – alarm goes off
5:40 am – roll out of bed; brush teeth; feed horse and goat
6:00 am – try to wake up by taking a hot shower
6:30 am – eat breakfast; pack lunch; get ready for work
7:00 am – leave for work
8:00 am – 5:00 pm – work
6:00 pm – arrive home from work; change; feed dog, horse, goat and sugar gliders; unpack lunch bag etc.
6:45 pm – select one or two things from list: ride Chappy, clean house, laundry, clean barn, yard work, house projects, everything on never-ending to-do list
8:30 pm-ish – eat dinner; sit with Husband; watch part of a movie
9:30 pm – crash
10:00 pm – 5:00 am – sleep roughly 7 hours

It doesn’t leave much time for writing. Or anything else I want to do.

Weekends are different, but also full. Saturdays are spent in constant motion: riding, cleaning house, laundry, cleaning barn, yard work, house projects, everything on never-ending to-do list. I never get everything done. I just prioritize until I run out of time. Sundays are set aside for church and Husband time. We don’t do much planning ahead, but usually run an errand or two, go for a bike ride, take the pup to the park etc. We end the day on the couch with a movie. It’s intended to be restful though often active, laid back, and time spent together.

There are things that haven’t made it onto the schedule that I very much want to make time for. Writing; reading; yoga; baking; knitting; jogging.

I was doing really well at getting up at 5:40, when it was still light out. That’s what gets me each and every year. In the summer, no problem (okay, problems with grumbling and sleepy eyes, but I can do it), but fall? Winter? No way. Not happening. Darkness apparently immobilizes me in the winter.

But with our new house comes new habits. New phases are the easiest way to create new routines. Change is going to happen, take control of it, make it work for you. For me, the most effective has always been when I move. In this house, I will… or In this house, I will not…

So this is my year, my time to change, my opportunity to learn how to rise early even in the winter.

As part of that, I’m going to participate in the Rise & Shine Challenge for a few days. I’m a bit late getting in on it (and I rolled out of bed at 6:00 instead of 5:40 this morning — it always sabotages me when Husband has a day off and doesn’t get up with me).

Cup of hot tea with book and plaid on table on gray background

This morning’s challenge is to consider what your ideal morning would feel like, how it would flow, and what sounds you would want to hear…

An ideal morning would be gentle. I am not a morning person, I do not leap out of bed ready to greet the day. I need to ease into it. I think it’s why I don’t mind slipping on some boots and going out to the barn to feed first thing, in my pajamas. (At least while it’s warm I don’t mind.) I drink tea, slowly. I take a hot shower. All of these things are gentle, quiet, calm.

I’d like to feel like I have it together and I’m awake when I leave for work. I don’t want to rush. I don’t want to forget something. I should really pack my bag the night before. (And thank goodness for Husband who packs my lunch or I would likely starve.)

In some ways, I would like to do devotions, but I’m usually not quite coherent enough to remember anything I read that early. So I want to leave a little early and dive in when I get to the office and am more awake.

I might try yoga or jogging in the morning. As long as it’s gentle, and I can do it in my pajamas. Maybe. We’ll see.

The sound question is something I never really thought of. In my perfect life, it would be chilly enough to leave the windows open all night and I would wake up to the birds chirping. Otherwise, quiet is good. It’s calm, it’s gentle. Maybe a bit of serene background sounds, like they use in spas…

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{Moments of Inspiration}

by hollycombs

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday afternoon in the pastureThe horse and the goat, just chilling on a summer afternoon.

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Healing

by hollycombs

Healing has been on my mind a lot the last few days. It’s such an abstract concept, difficult to pin down when you’re talking about heart-healing, mind-healing.

My book club’s latest selection was Healing Stones, by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn. I’ve read one other novel by Rue and unexpectedly loved it. The same could be said for this one, but in a different way. I wondered how a book about an adulterous woman would translate into the lives of our book club of young women, all still rather new to marriage, tiny babies beginning to make appearances, houses being bought, careers being built. I was surprised to see how much I could relate — not to the adultery part, but the rest.

The main character identifying her core issue as a need to never fail, to be perfect at EVERYTHING. That feels familiar. The character’s realization that being helpless to help her husband deal with overwhelming grief felt like failure. Yeah, that resonates. The teenager seeming to do his utmost to rip the family apart while really dealing with his own hurts? Brought back a lot of past hurts I thought I had forgiven. And I had, but sometimes I have to forgive anew.

I cried when I finished reading the book, not because of the book, but because of the reflection of my own life in it. My real life. My real hurts. My real need for healing.

Then the news of Robin Williams’ death hit. I had to tell Husband.

“He died?” Husband asked, surprised. “What happened?”

I hated having to say it, but he needed to know, and from me, not his co-workers or the checkout lady at the grocery store.

“He committed suicide,” I said gently.

It’s a hard subject. Not one that I take lightly.

We talked in halted phrases for a bit, letting silence settle between the words as needed. We processed. I let him think, wait, speak, think again.

In the end we began talking about Out of the Darkness walks we’ve seen advertised at some time or another around town. Maybe. Someday. Maybe.

Healing. It’s such an abstract concept sometimes.

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{Memories} My first dance

by hollycombs

You know what sticks out to me the most about my very first school dance? It’s not the dress or the music or the dancing or the decorations or the school friends. It’s my sister-in-law.

I was in eighth grade, the big end-of-year school dance was supposed to be preparatory for high school. My mom doesn’t do hair or makeup or other girly things like that (although she did help me choose the dress!), so we invited my brother’s girlfriend, K, over. K must have been a senior at that point. She curled and pinned up my hair, helped me put on makeup (even at 13 or whatever age I was, I wasn’t much into makeup). And the thing that stands out the most in my memory is that K brought me a pair of heels to borrow.

It was just like having a real sister, which was nothing short of a dream come true for me. So, K, thank you. And thank you for continuing to be there in the big a little moments of my life.

Dress shoes

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{Moments of Inspiration}

by hollycombs

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Driving the pony

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Before…

by hollycombs

So I’m finally (after 4.5 months of home ownership) getting around to collecting our “before” photos of the house. It’s amazing how much has changed in so short a time and looking back at these photos, I realize how much I’ve forgotten. So, with no further ado, here was the house when we bought it…

Living room:
Living room - before

Living room - before

Dining room:
Dining room - before

Sunroom:
Sun room - before

Kitchen:
Kitchen - before

Kitchen - before

Laundry:
Laundry room - before

Master Bedroom:
Master bedroom - before

Master Closet:
Master bedroom closet - before

Master Bath:
Master Bath - before

Master Bath - before

Hallway:
Hallway - before

Linen Closet:
Linen closet - before

Hall Bath:
Hall Bath - before

Hall Bath - before

Guest Room:
Guest Bedroom - before

Study:
Study - before

Study - before

And, just for fun, a photo from our first night in the new house (I will never forget that it was 42* in the house when we got there!):
First night

I’m hoping to take a slew of “In Progress” photos over the weekend (we’re having a house warming, so it will all be cleaned up!) to post next week.

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