{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“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

Celebrating spring and life in Smithfield

Enjoying neighbors becoming friends (and time spent with Husband) – twice in the past month we had neighbors offer us free tickets to fun events in the area. It’s been great getting to know these people in our community!

Back to school

Back to school

All the “back to school” buzz this time of year reminds me of the many times I returned to school each fall. A friend of mine has a boy starting middle school, 6th grade.

I remember my first day of 6th grade. I was starting at a brand new school, going to public school for the first time, riding a bus, switching classrooms and using a locker–all for the first time. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but exciting.

My big high-school brother helped me find our bus in the confusing lineup after school, and even saved me a seat, I’ve never forgotten that.

My favorite memory though? Social studies. My least favorite teacher, ever. But that first day? She told us to get the name and number of the person next to us, homework buddies or something like that. All around me, kids began chatting with their friends and I remember feeling pretty alone. But I turned to the girl behind me and said something like, “Well, I guess we need to trade phone numbers.” She told me her name was Laura. She even offered to help me find our gym class the next period.

That day was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that lasted all seven years we were in school together. Laura and I were inseparable. We did everything together for seven years. It’s a friendship I cherish with hundreds of memories.

I have struggled at times, knowing that our lives have headed in separate directions since then. We kept up fairly well during college, visiting at least once every summer. But since then, we’ve hardly spoken. In my mind, I immediately begin to wonder if our friendship really meant as much as I believed. But then I remind myself that relationships are living things–they change and evolve and grow, wax and wane, come and go. And none of that determines the worth of those moments spent fully present with each other.

Even though Laura and I haven’t spoken much in the past five or six years, I know that she reflects as fondly on our years together as I do. I know that we shaped each other, molded each other, reflected each other. I know that she was part of my becoming who I am, and I believe I was for her as well. In that way, I carry her friendship with me. And that is a truth I will always cherish.

Back to school…

More thoughts on curating

More thoughts on curating

A few days ago, I mentioned my new desire not just to organize or clean or DIY or decorate, but to truly curate my home, my life, my heart.

And I’ve been thinking…what does this desire extend toward? What areas of my life could be influenced by my plan to curate instead of consume? I mentioned my books and DVDs already, those are probably the most obvious. Then, of course there’s other clutter…clothes, shoes, jewelry, blankets, linens, dishes, knickknacks. It might even include personal care items, cleaning supplies and other things tucked away in closets. What about my pantry? The food I eat?

And what about my thousands of digital photographs? Music files? Files in general?

And, um, does it include less concrete items, like my education, experiences, travels, relationships? The way I spend a Saturday morning or a Monday evening?

What about my faith? Grace? Growth?

And what, exactly, should be my standard for curating? Enjoyment? Peace? Excellence? Beauty? Truth?

What about my new word for the year: “Singleness of Heart”? Is that my standard for curating?

Sunrise at the oceanfront.

It brings to mind a verse I have hanging over my desk… “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Phil. 4:8

Is there any part of my life that this idea would not utterly transform?

Keeping up and slowing down

Keeping up and slowing down

I spent the past 7 days just trying to keep up.

Husband was away, house-sitting on the other side of the city. Which left me with the house, garden, and animals to care for on my own.

The fact is, Husband and I have created a wonderful life for ourselves, but it is a life meant to be lived and stewarded by two. It was hard to do it on my own. Some days felt like I was on a hamster wheel–one that never slows down and never stops.

The workdays all sort of ran together, and responsibilities outside of work were a jumbled mess–barn cleaning, picking tomatoes, picking up and delivering produce, making meals, feeding the animals, etc., etc., etc.

It seemed a lifetime as I slogged through the week, but eventually Friday evening rolled around and with it came time.

Time with Husband. Time with friends. Time to sit, relax, enjoy. We spent nearly five hours Friday night picking crabs, talking and laughing with dear friends. Some pretty heavy thunder storms raged around us, but since the house we were at is on stilts, we were dry and safe underneath. The night air was lit with a dozen citronella lamps, keeping the mosquitoes at bay and adding a special summer ambiance to the evening.

Citronella lamps set the ambiance. I would have more photos, but my camera battery promptly died after taking this one.

It was hours before anyone even thought to look at the time–which is exactly the kind of evening I needed.

It was past midnight by the time I got home, patted the puppy on the head and literally fell into bed.

Saturday morning dawned early, but I stayed where I was–curled up with the pup beside me. Oh how glorious it is to sleep in on Saturday!

It didn’t last forever though, there were things to do, more to keep up with. The house was an utter disaster after the week I’d had and it was time to face it.

But first, I made a cup of tea and a pot of coffee and snuck over to the blueberry farm where Husband was pruning blackberry bushes. Some might say that 15 minutes of small talk isn’t worth the half hour drive each direction. And some days, I’m one of them. But after a week of hardly seeing Husband at all, those 15 minutes were well worth it.

Blackberries.

As I drove home, I mentally ticked off the things I had to do. And it was a long list.

I got started at once, finishing one chore after another–methodically working my way through the house and down the list. By early afternoon, I was beginning to wane.

But once again, the rain saved me.

It started slowly, just a few drops here and there as I trimmed the front bushes. Then the thunder rolled in and the lightening started. Before long, it was all out storming again.

The puppy and I opened the front door and let the fresh air in the house as the rain cooled off the muggy heat. We watched with fascination as the storm pounded down outside our porch. Then we sat down and it wasn’t long before I was fast asleep.

I woke up refreshed, but the world around me was still soggy and thunder continued to shake the house. I lit a candle just for the fun of it and spent the next few hours organizing the study and cataloging my library (while that may seem dreadfully boring to some, to me it was delightful bliss).

That evening, Ginger and I watched a 1969 version of David Copperfield and enjoyed the sound of rain on the roof.

Ginger and I watched a movie by candlelight as it rained.

It seems the rain is my link to slowing down. When it comes, I’m forced to forget all those things that “need” to be done, and instead focus on resting, slowing, being, living.

Maybe I need more rain in my life…

What weekends are for…

What weekends are for…

I was reminded over the past few days what weekends are really for. And a part of me was surprised to discover, yet again, that they’re not for running errands or catching up on life or knocking out that to-do list.

They’re for being. Living. Thriving.

They’re for relationship. Conversation. Laughter.

First thing Saturday morning I headed out to the local blueberry farm where Husband works on weekends. When I arrived it was overcast and in the mid-70s–perfect berry picking weather (did you know there was such a thing?). When my bucket was about half full the sun burned through the clouds and blazed down on me as I worked. Another 20 minutes and my bucket was full of delicious, fresh blueberries.

Fresh picked blueberries.

I’d forgotten to sample some as I picked, so I popped a few in my mouth as I headed back to the front of the farm–perfection, seriously. Fresh blueberries are sweet and tasty, just the way summer should be.

The afternoon consisted of a mix–cleaning the house, folding clean fresh laundry, attending a bridal shower for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and running to the mall to use a coupon to get some free goodies for myself (and a new pair of jeans for $10–seriously, I love new jeans…a lot.).

The best part of the day came after the thunder and soaking rain had waned and just before the sun went down. My dear friend R. and I had our monthly “date”…we packed a bag with fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and water bottles along with a picnic blanket and headed for the beach. We walked along the mostly deserted coastline as we talked about the deepest part of ourselves–the pruning, the changing, the evolving.

Beaching it with a friend.

We settled in just before the sun went down for a little picnic dinner and the conversation continued. As dusk began to settle we packed up our things and trekked back up the beach, never a moment of silence as we entered each others’ lives for the briefest of moments on our monthly date. At times, it feels that once a month isn’t nearly often enough, but distance and busyness make getting together difficult.

The beach is lovely and deserted in the evening.

By bedtime, I was thoroughly exhausted, but wonderfully satisfied and content.

Sunday afternoon we invited friends over to make grilled pizza and do nothing more than talk. We enjoyed ice cream with blueberries as their little one played in the grass under the shade trees in the front yard. There’s just something about fellowship and community and makes a Sunday afternoon so sweet.

Homemade grilled pizza.

Husband and I got our hands on a canoe this weekend and took it out in the bay for a paddle just before dusk Sunday evening. The heat had subsided and even the humidity seemed a little less intense as we journeyed out among the old dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Canoeing with Husband.

Dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Someday we hope to own one of these lovely little boats…maybe even this one. And someday we dream of living near the bay so we can take in an evening paddle whenever the fancy strikes us.

Canoeing.

Sunset from the canoe.

Slowing. Being. Loving. Living. I think that’s what weekends are for.

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
Dawn came early and cool today. It doesn’t feel like June at all, but I suppose it just gives a little refreshing variety to life here in Virginia Beach.

Dear Norfolk Botanical Garden,
Thank you for lending us a shady spot of grass for our Sunday afternoon picnic. You couldn’t have been more hospitable.

Picnic at Botanical Gardens

Picnicking with friends.

Dear Little Nephew,
I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the moment you join the world tomorrow. You are precious and loved, little one.

Dear Husband,
I cherished having a whole day with you yesterday… I wish those weren’t so few and far between. I know this is a stage of life that we are going through–one that includes a lot of long hours and little rest. But thanks for giving me priority on Sunday as we rest and spend time with each other and with our Lord.

Me and Husband.

Dear Friends,
Husband and I know without a doubt that we are called to offer our hospitality to our friends and family, especially those in need of respite. We were so honored to be able to offer you a little peace and serenity, even if the weekend was all too brief. We truly hope you will come back again when you need a little more refreshing.

Sincerely,
Holly


Linking up with Happy Day.

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
I greet you with a deep breath and a long sigh. Life’s rhythms are keeping me going these days, and you are part of that. While Monday mornings will likely never be my favorite, I’m determined to welcome you into my life and make the best of it.

An evening walk on the beach.Dear G.,
The fact that we haven’t seen each other for nearly three years didn’t seem to matter a bit once I picked you up at the airport. A weekend full of deep soul-searching conversations and lots of laughter was utterly refreshing. It’s part of the rhythm too, I think, these once-every-few-years visits. Still, the time went by far too quickly and I was loathe to say goodbye. Next time, let’s not let it go quite so long. I need friends like you in my everyday life.

Dear Beach,
Sand, surf, waves, wind, sun…you offer everything dear to my heart. Two days in a row of beaching it was just what I needed this weekend, so thanks for always being there, even when I ignore you too often. I promise I will try to do better this summer…

Dear House,
I’m terribly sorry for the neglect. I do love you. But sometimes sandy beach towels strewn over chairs and kicked-off flip-flops on the kitchen floor happen. And sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Flip-flops on the beach.

Dear Little Sports Car,
This may be our final week together…I plan to cherish it.

Sincerely,
Holly


Linking up with Happy Day.

Carpe Diem: My summer mantra

Carpe Diem: My summer mantra

It’s decided. My summer mantra will be simply “Carpe Diem.”

Cliche, perhaps. But very, very necessary right now.

It’s amazing how we go in and out of seasons. We change, evolve, grow. As our environment changes, we change to fit it. And sometimes amid that change, we lose things.

Things like carpe diem. Things like last minute adventures.

It probably has a myriad of causes–a new marriage, a new city without established relationships, a new house far out in the country, growing responsibilities… The list could go on and on. But I’m less concerned with the causes and more concerned with the outcome.

I’m becoming a little too secluded. A little too set in my plans. A little too, well, boring.

Sure, I have responsibilities many of which are completely inflexible (note: horses must be cared for at 6:00pm T-TH; puppy must be fed at or near 5:30pm or she will starve to death…or so she claims). But the rest of the time? I think I’ve just gotten lazy.

Carpe diemI don’t always WANT to leave my cozy home, or drive 45 minutes to meet up with friends, or spend money when we don’t have much to begin with. But sometimes, that’s just what I need.

I need an evening eating appetizers on a boat with amazing friends to make me come alive. I need a relaxing evening spent in a friend’s home theater. I need a bite to eat after church with a mentor. I need a jaunt down to the oceanfront to watch an air show. I need to do and be and relate to truly live.

So this summer, I am dedicated to seizing the moment, going with the flow, being flexible, and putting forth the extra effort. I want to truly do and be–experience all the adventure I possibly can this summer.

It might mean a quick ride on Chappy just before dark. Or catching lightning bugs in the backyard. Or braving the tourists for a morning walk on the beach. Or a last-minute weekend camping trip…

It might mean dropping plans for the evening and heading out to meet friends. It might mean hosting friends and overnight guests and doing hospitality right. It might mean sand and sun kissed cheeks. Or flip-flops and picnic lunches. It might be rounds of laughter with friends or a quiet moment with Husband. But whatever it looks like, I want to claim it, own it, live it.

Carpe diem!

Adventure: Columbia

Adventure: Columbia

At the zoo and botanical garden

After a very full day in Charleston, we decided to stay a little closer to “home” (at least, A.’s home). And the best place to explore on a sunny day is, of course, the zoo =).

Columbia has a combined zoo and botanical garden, which means that for the price of one entrance, you get to see both. That sounds like a deal I can’t pass up. We knew it was supposed to rain that day, but it looks so lovely outside that we went for it anyway and headed to the zoo.

Friend R at the zoo in Columbia, SC

Pretty bird

Gorgeous colors!

I love bears, especially grizzlies!

Grizzlies remind me of Montana…

Who doesn't love a cuddly Koala.

I so want one of these now.

It did rain. It rained as soon as we got there for all of 20 seconds. Then it rained when we were waiting for the tram to take us back to the parking lot–and this time, it really rained! No pictures because my camera was safely hidden inside of the plastic bag, inside of a purse. But I don’t think I need photographic evidence to remember the three of us huddled under some tree branches as we stood out in the midst of the downpour.

Then the sun came out just in time for us to see a little more of the garden before heading back for a cookout with friends…

I love thistles

Little known fact: I love thistles. Never tell me they’re weeds.

The thistle was taller than me

Beautiful friends

All in all, a good day.

R. and I left the next morning to return home. A bittersweet goodbye. I held A. tight when we hugged and didn’t want to let go. I miss my friend. So now I’m counting down the days until my next long weekend. Labor Day perhaps???