sail on 

I remember a particular time period when I was in junior high that my parents were trying to make a difficult decision for our family. They were involved in a larger conflict that was tearing apart a group of people for which they cared a great deal. The question really became whether they were to stay in the situation and ‘fight it out’, or whether it was the right time to step out and away from the conflict altogether. It consumed many months of consideration and prayer. I remember hearing Mom discussing it with close friends and family on the phone, so it made an impact on my world. Then one day, in the midst of all the unanswered questions, Mom read a quote that deeply affected her thinking. She shared it with our family of four, with her sisters on the phone, and with friends within the conflict. The quote read: “We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” Mom felt this was a strong signal as to what direction we should take. It resonated with my parents in the kind of impactful way that involved many discussions and is still readily accessible to me, these many years later. In fact, if asked what quotation I would most associate with my mother, I would probably name this particular quote.

I was busy around my house on Wednesday morning and had forgotten I’d turned the sound off on my cellphone the previous night when flitting around the internet while Scott slept peacefully next to me. I didn’t want any beeps or videos to pop up and wake him. As a result, I missed a few texts and phonecalls before I noticed the volume was off. I sat down to send a text and noticed my mother-in-law had left me a voicemail.

It will always be an intriguing query for me to wonder how my mother and my mother-in-law would get along. Their lives missed each other by a few months. If I were to actually sit down and calculate it, it was probably more like a few weeks. My mother died, a victim of Alzheimer’s, just as I was meeting my future mother-in-law, Joanne. Mom was 5’3″. Joanne is 6’2″. But both women were, and are, strong, independent women. I think they would understand many things about each other…but I can only guesstimate at this point since their meeting was never to be.

I clicked the voicemail button on my phone and Joanne’s strong and upbeat voice message greeted me: “Hey!, I forgot to tell you something. When we were in Arkansas last weekend I saw a quote you might be able to do something with. You’ve probably already heard it, but I really liked it.” I listened…Joanne often sends me clever phrases knowing I would probably like handlettering them onto something. The voicemail continued. “It went like this: ‘We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.’ It might be cute with a sailboat or something. Okay!, talk to you later.”  And the phone went silent.

It is difficult to articulate the wash of emotion that spontaneously swept over me. I am not an instantaneous crier. But the emotion caught in my throat and immediately turned to tears. However, not tears of sadness or remorse in any way. I explained to Scott later that night that it felt like a cosmic collision of two women who represent mom figures in my life. Two women who never met but whose words were now the same. The same meaningful empact from this quote of perseverance and perspective. Words gifted to me from two mothers, 40 years apart.

I am not a watercolor artist. I am a watercolor admirer. Yet the desire to pour those thoughts and emotions onto the page led me to some watercolor ‘messing around’ this morning.

There are just some things in life that cannot be changed. They are deadlocked and irreversible for the time being or for all eternity. It is a waste of energy to spend time fretting or foolishly digging our heels in for change – it simply will not happen. But what we are capable of doing is changing our course of direction. Or sometimes, merely our perspective.

We cannot change the wind. But we can adjust our sails.

I have it on good authority that this short piece of advice can be life-altering.

In my life, however, it has been doubly Mom Approved…


hygge 52

It’s my birthday this week. I feel like I probably used the phrase, “Someday when I’m 52…” at some point in my early adult life. I am sure in referring to ’52’ I was denoting an old age. But just like every other 52-year-old who has ever stood in this number, it feels young and lucky and yes, confusing at times. But overall, there is a welcome sense of settlement that comes with your 50’s.

At the strike of midnight on December 31, people make resolutions for a better life. A little less this, a little more that. All worthy aspirations. I have the same thoughts each year as my birthday approaches. What will this year look like? What will change? What will stay the same? And as the past few years have included: Will there be a hospital visit this year? -yikes and fingers crossed for NO!

But this year as I have mulled over the additions or subtractions I want to make, my mind keeps snapping back to one thought: What if right now is enough? 

In 2004 I had a close friend who shared a very similar mindset as me. We had teenagers at home and life was busy and complicated. But we happened upon a blog by Alex Beuchamp called Hygge House. The word ‘hygge’ has become very popular lately. I’m not sure what took it so long to catch on, but like all pendulum swings, it was bound to have its time in the sun. But in 2004, few people had heard of the word. RuAnn and I used it often, referring to quiet, simple moments of joy in our respective days.

Hygge as described in Alex’s blog…(the words RuAnn and I fell in lifelong love with):

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Hygge doesn’t require buying anything. It simply requires being present and recognizing a moment that feels so sweet, cozy, charming, special or nice that you just have to name the moment.

So whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it every morning, to a cozy evening in with friends where you’re just enjoying each others company, to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as coziness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness and the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate or acknowledge and to break up the day, months or years. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one’s spirit.

By creating simple rituals without effort {such as brewing real tea with a little china cup every evening to stopping at the flower shop every week} the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not drudgery to get away from. They incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event.

Hygge is about being present enough to recognize and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

‘Hygge’, ‘minimalism’ and ‘wabi sabi’ are three words that seem to be defining my new year with greater clarity. I have embraced these words in the past, but this year feels different. (wabi-sabi: represents a Japanese aesthetic described as one of beauty that is imperfect.)

I laugh – and understand – at my husband’s balking at the word ‘minimalism’. When I suggest a book or movie that has minimalism at its core he says the same thing: “But they are always so preachy about it.” 🙂 And I get that. I have weighed that view when thinking about this blog post. But let me make one thing super super clear: As I embrace this idea for myself, it does not mean I believe everyone should accept it as their aim in life. It also doesn’t mean ‘never make a purchase again’ or ‘live on bare necessities’. What is important to me is the idea of being aware of the beauty that is already around me.

Let me give you an example: I am a big fan of Instagram. (like, BIG, big!) The limitless inspiration on Instagram is invigorating and challenging. And I am someone who thrives on ideas and inspiration. Pinterest is another method of gaining ideas. (Erin Loechner, in her book Chasing Slow, says Pinterest is creating a generation of ‘someday’ thinking, not ‘now’ thinking.) But as much as I love Instagram, occasionally I find myself slipping from ‘inspiration’ into ‘I want that’. You know who taught me this lesson best? Rae Dunn. For those of you not familiar with Rae Dunn, her pottery is unique and specific. Her mugs and kitchenware have big words etched into them.

As someone who appreciates fonts and lettering, I really liked her stuff. But here’s the thing: Rae Dunn has become a phenomenon. TJ Maxx and Home Goods can’t keep her stuff in stock. Partly became it’s popular and people rush the stores to buy more for their collections, but mostly because some people are buying absolutely everything in the stores and selling them for TRIPLE the price online. Scott recently said, “Rae Dunn has become the Beanie Babies of the 80’s.” And he’s right! I posted the above picture and put out the word to my friends to be on the look-out for Rae Dunn when they were shopping. I had people in other areas of the country shopping for me. With each new post on Instagram of someone buying a new Rae Dunn piece, my want grew bigger.

And then one day, I stepped out of the commotion. The craze for Rae Dunn was running me, not me managing it. I was suddenly content with what I have. If I run into a piece that speaks to me, I will still purchase it. But visiting our local TJ Maxx every other day is just a ridiculous way for me to live.

As I type out that example, it seems rather inadequate in explaining my approach to 52. Just to say, Instagram can be used for stimulating inspiration and is an excellent method of gaining new ideas and perspectives. It is also a great space for gaining new friends. But it can also feed an insatiable desire for more. For different. For change.

I love chai tea lattes. The days when they seem to be spicer than usual, are the best. The warm first drink of chai opens up my senses and kick starts my day. Sharing a chai with my fellow chai-loving friend, Monica, makes the drink even more special. If we’re drinking the chai in Rae Dunn mugs – great! But it’s the company that matters. It’s the quiet moments when I’m waking up to the beginning of the day – that’s what is important. It is a daunting observation to think that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, yet it was their desire for more that led to their loss of everything.

I am tweaking my Instagram just a bit to celebrate and document small pleasures. The description under my name now reads…

hygge: the art of creating a life filled with simple pleasures and loving what you already have.

That describes my thoughts and wishes for 52. Enjoying adventures. Being present with friends and family. Resting in quiet moments. Making life less about accumulation of things for the sake of accumulation, but cultivating items of importance and meaning. Sometimes that will be a new mug. Sometimes that will be a free visit to the museum. Sure, there are things I would like to do more of and things I would like to do less of. But for 52, I’m okay with imperfect wabi-sabi. Peaceful hygge. Morning walks. Spicy chai and long afternoon shadows. Looking around and being content with what is.

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. – G. K. Chesterton

I don’t know where 52 will take me. But I am sure, 52 is going to be just fine.

Continuing to learn,
Hygge G

big girl camera

I am trying to make a concerted effort to bring my big camera out more often this year. It has been sorely discarded for the past few years since grabbing my iPhone was so much easier. But I miss the quality and challenge of a DSLR.

Scott and I love our local greenhouse, Heartland Nursery and Garden Center. I needed to pick up some cactus soil for my new succulents so I grabbed my Big Girl Camera and took a few pictures during our visit. It was early. The employees were busy readying the greenhouse for Spring. They were mixing huge piles of dirt with fertilizer and lining up new plants for sale. The plants seemed to feel the extra love and care this particular morning…


qwerty schmerty

The QWERTY keyboard was created in the early 1870s by Christopher Latham Sholes. I wonder if Sholes had any idea the extinct to which his keyboard would be used?!

I can’t think of the last time I used a dictionary or an encyclopedia – and I look up words a LOT. But good ol’ Google or help me find just about anything I want. Connecting with friends is so much easier – especially when it’s in the wee hours of the morning and I can’t sleep but thought of something I wanted to tell them. To the keyboard I go!

And yes, occasionally, keyboards are used for the wrong reasons. Searching for videos about mass explosions or simply typing something that hurt someone’s feelings. It seems I fall into the latter lately…

I stepped in it. Boy that’s a phrase I use way too often. I know my intentions were good. But I am sure they came across as bossy…again, my ever-present problem. I tried to encourage and I royally pissed off instead. The response was waaaaaaay out of sync with the original message. It was mad and accusatory and I didn’t like it one bit. I felt it best to not respond with explanations but rather to wish the person well, which I truly feel for them. Now I am just left with the yucky feeling of a relationship that got all twisty and misunderstood.

These are the moments when I envy the life of hermits like J.D. Salinger. I understand their need to withdraw; people can be so very confusing at times. The older I get, the more I am surprised at my desire to not fight back. I don’t worry as much that people think I am retreating in defeat. I know what my heart is, they don’t have to understand. But the ‘yuckiness’, post-misunderstanding, is like wading through muck in high boots. And not cute yellow Hunter boots. Big, clunky, camouflage boots that are hard to manipulate in the mud but keep you nicely hidden from the world.

Maybe it’s the back-to-back dreary days. Maybe it’s the new books I received in the mail yesterday. It just feels like a Day of Retreat. But here is another thing that has been a welcome friend as I grow older: the understanding that other people’s responses to things are in great part due to things happening in their lives and not necessarily about you at all. I think that is true in this case to a great extent. There are parts of the disagreement that I need to claim responsibility for. I should have kept out. (…again, an all-too-familiar phrase in my life…) but I stepped in out of concern for the other person. Clearly, I stepped in clumsily, but my heart meant to do good.

Am I using you for a sounding board? yes; I am sorry. But I hope you will find a nugget of encouragement somewhere in this post that we all get into quirky qwerty situations from time to time. It’s not just you. It’s not just me. And sometimes, it is best to take a step back and get out of the fray. Will they misunderstand your response? Maybe. Is it worth it to fight it until the bitter end? Rarely. Knowing when to say you’re sorry and step aside has been a lifelong lesson that I am still learning. Sometimes, lifting your fingers from the keyboard and picking up a good book is the right course of action.

A phrase I am hearing a lot lately is: “There’s so much negativity on instagram.” Truth is, there is so much negativity present in the world right now. Online fights and arguments and tweets. And if we don’t learn how to sift our way through the minefields of opinions without getting any schmuck on ourselves, then we are in for a long four years ahead. The Trickle Down Effect has never been so evident.

But two new books from Amazon and a cat that found her way into the KFC chicken at the bottom of the trashcan last night – well, they don’t talk back much. So I think I’ll curl up with both of them today and ‘J.D. Salinger’ it a bit.

Qwerty Schmerty. Tomorrow is another day………


If you know me at all, you know I’m married to the perfect man.

(well okay – sans the sock balls and empty Ziploc boxes…)

This morning he was watering some plants around our house and he noticed a small potted plant we had just split up and transplanted last weekend. It was looking a little sickly. 

We were getting ready to go visit a local mid-century flea market in town so I was rushing around trying to get ready for the day. I told Scott I was close to being finished so he went out to warm up our car. I grabbed my coat, threw some things in my bag, fed our cat, grabbed my keys and……

…stopped for a second in my mid-haste to get out the door. 

I smiled at the simple sweetness of it.
Scott found a little spot of sun and set the sickly plant in the middle of it to give it some extra sunshine. 

I set down my keys. Set down my water bottle. Took off my gloves and dug my phone out of my purse. All the while thinking, ‘this little scene is so indicative of Scott. He sees something that needs some extra love and attention, and he puts it squarely in the middle of the light.’

He’s been doing that for me since we first met. He rarely takes center stage but is more than happy to elevate someone else to their place in the sun. 

Whether it’s a scrawled love note taped to the fridge or answering a frantic phone call from one of our kids or slipping one of them a $20 for driving over to see us. And then he sits back and grins with the complete satisfaction that he was able to give someone care. It is his greatest spiritual gift. 

He sees what needs to be done then he quietly goes about getting it done. No hype or attention: just carefully helping people get to where they need to be. Even sickly philodendron plants who need a little boost. 

I gave the sun-bathing plant another smile as I loaded up again with my things for the day and gently assured it: ‘It’s okay now, little plant; you are in the kindest of hands.’ 

Me and a sickly little plant. God’s love is most obvious to me through the quiet care of my husband. 

I don’t just love and respect my sweet caregiving husband. I spend most days trying to be more like him.

God’s love and direction is not always written in the sky. Sometimes it can be found in a tiny spot in the sun…

social media

I…like many of you, I’m sure…have been avoiding many forms of social media lately. I’ve decided I need to go to it, rather than it come to me uninvited. The news is so overwhelming and it’s making us all crazed animals.

By 7am this morning, I had already been snarky on Facebook. I don’t like the way some people act (either passive aggressively or in-your-face) but I really don’t like the way I act and feel on Facebook. Why can’t I quit you, Facebook?! (raises fist to the air) I feel as if I need to go back and do a refresher course on niceness and kindness and I’ve been reading articles and books accordingly. I suppose until I can NOT say, “…and I wish a few other people would read those things too!”, then I still need to read a little more. 🙂

Last night I had a lovely dinner with a friend who I first met when we were in third grade. We didn’t meet online. We met in the doorway of the children’s wing of our church. I was new to the church; she introduced herself to me. We’ve been friends ever since. There were gaps in our friendship a few decades ago as we both were establishing new homes and families. But again, she called me out of the blue on my birthday and that was that – we’ve met every month or every other month through heartbreaks and parenting and life confusion and a millions joys in between. We don’t agree on all issues but we strongly agree on one thing: a mutual respect for the other person’s heart.

The lacking component of social media.

I am not bemoaning social media. It plays a big part in my life and has greatly expanded my view of the world. But often times I forget the significance of truly knowing a person before accepting or rejecting their opinions. It is one of the most important factors in friendship or in engaging with another person about their beliefs. First, I have to respect their opinion before I can become emotionally attached to it. I need to sift my knee-jerk reaction through that filter first: Is this someone I respect and know their heart and mind? If not, then it’s not worth the angst.

Today is Friday. Our weekend around here is Friday and Saturday, the days Scott has off work. I am deeply grateful for lazy mornings that don’t include a 3:30am alarm. A common question from one of us is, “What does today look like?” And then the planning conversation begins.

I hope your day looks like sunshine.

I hope your day looks like easy answers.

I hope your day looks like green lights and short carpool lines and ‘slashed prices’ on all your favorite things.

I hope your day looks like deep and abiding friendship with those you trust, respect and love. We could all use a little more of that in our opinion-laden world…

HAPPY WEEKEND, my friends!

decor detox

Simplifying is hard work! 

I have had a bit of a schizophrenic home for the past few months. Too many decor styles vying for attention. This weekend Scott and I have been clearing things out, paring down, sorting through. I would love to say our cars are loaded and we are headed to the Goodwill, but unfortunately it’s just our garage that’s filled to the gills. Spring weather will bring about a clearing out of that area soon. Meanwhile we are busy working inside with ‘The Heat’ on in the background. (I laugh at that movie like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it EVERY time I see it. We quote from it way too often in our every day life!!)

I am letting go of the farmhouse vibe and embracing a more mid-century modern line. It’s always been a favorite of ours, particularly Scott. He is a clean lines man married to a bit of a bohemian spirit. I think we’ve found a nice middle ground. I’ve eliminated most of my distressed items except this old chest of drawers that was mine as a little girl and a hanging window that I just can’t quite store away yet. So a little chippy goodness remains. 

Enjoying the long afternoon shadows today while the sun stays bright outside. I am so very very grateful for two beautiful sunny days! Hoping your Saturdays are laced with love and laughter and sunny delights.