Bailey Bash: Something fun Sunday, Episode 7

Yesterday was all about this girl, my Bailey. Normally, I try not to tell my girls’ stories here. Their stories belong to them, to share or not as they see fit. But it is also true that my story and their stories are entirely intertwined. Sometimes, I can’t tell my own story without their part in it.

BaileyMuch like any parent, I’ve second guessed a million decisions. I’ve desperately hoped that I’m not making a complete mess of the entire parenting business. Hopefully, they won’t spend too much on therapy on my account in the future. But yesterday was one of those affirming days. This whole parenting thing happens completely imperfectly, but even so, it’s pretty damn good.
We’re so lucky to have so many people who love us and who took time from their day to be present with us celebrating my amazing girl.  The weather even greeted us with darn near perfection for the end of May.

We made the most of our photo booth (Craig may have enjoyed the raspberry beret a little too much!). We held cut throat games of cornhole where my brother earned the right to hold Olivia’s stuffed monkey, William, for one entire hour. This life long feud between Matt and Olivia stretches across states and decades. Perhaps they have finally come to some sort of agreement as they both begin to mature into adulthood…













Bailey and her friends, and sisters and sister’s friends (when you are this close in age, you drift in and out of each other’s lives easily, the relationship lines are blurry) moved from front to back, food table to carport to hammock as people came and went. Some moments are kind enough to kiss you softly and whisper, Hang on to this, it’s the only thing that matters in this life anyway.  And so it is.

Finding Calm: Something Fun Sunday, Ep. 6

The week has finally arrived. My middle daughter’s graduation party is this week, and I am knocking down the details while trying to maintain my cool, calm demeanor in the middle of it. *snort*  OK, maybe calm isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of me, but I am working on creating margin, so I have no need to panic, and making time to sleep, exercise, eat and create. Which brings us to the fun stuff.

I know Saturday is technically the day I talk about books around here (On the blog, at least; I talk about books at home on the daily). But I feel it’s necessary to put first things first when I speak of fun things. This week marks the release of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading guide. As usual, I’ve obsessed all week over what is available at my library (nothing), and what is available on overdrive (a few). I’ve picked out the ones I can’t miss, and the ones I am not so sure about. I’ve arranged and rearranged my too read list based on what I want to read now and what is coming due at the library. What can I say, book are serious business around here.

Today two of the books on the reading guide are on sale for kindle. I’ll link them at the bottom of the page.

Having reached the pinnacle week of May, I’m personally anticipating arriving in June and not feeling completely burned out. For me, this is a huge win. But as an introvert, I know by the time June rolls around, I will feel maxed out socially.

June is officially the month of no. I will not make commitments nor will I travel. I will not be out four nights a week. No will be a word I use often and with great relish. With my family and close friends I try to say yes as often as possible, but next month even those will be sparing. It’s good to give and give joyfully, but there is also a time to lay low and replenish. I loved this article about saying no.

A key component in my daily balancing act is the calm app. I’m using it twice a day currently. Those fifteen minute chunks may be the most important thing I do each day. My anxiety is better. I don’t struggle as much with anger and resentment. I feel calm (go figure). There is a free version if you want to try it out, and it’s apple and android compatible.

Finally this:


I can’t even apologize for the language. In this month of nostalgia and misty eyes, when people express sorrow that I am growing older and my children are leaving home, this is how I feel.
Empty nest party time is almost here, folks. We’re powering through.


Lovely things: Something Fun Sunday Ep. 5

Today is the last day of birthday week (it is, however, only day 4 of birthday month). Many things about this week have been wonderful and lovely. I’m prone to introspection as it is, but this week always adds an extra measure. Introspection can be a double edged sword, though, and some of this week has been wrestling with unlovely things as well. Wrestling isn’t a bad thing, as long as you know when to set it down and walk away. This is a skill I am improving.

I wrestled with what to share this week. “Fun” seems as though it, perhaps, should be a giggle-fest, but this week’s thoughts are more gentle and healing than entertaining. However, they bring me joy and joy is fun, after a fashion. Most importantly, I get to define fun in my own space, so these things are fun for me.

I’ve been playing with various forms of bullet journaling for the last six months with varying degrees of success. I love the freedom of writing what I want, where I want, however I want, but my inner perfectionist struggles with the more rigid pages like calendars and daily schedules. For my birthday, my husband gave me a Nomatic Planner. It has all the freedom of the bullet journal, with pre-formatted pages for the more rigid planning. I love it. LOOOOOOOOVE it.

To accompany my planner, I signed up for an online journaling class (thanks some of my birthday money from mom) from one of my favorite bloggers. Write to Flourish registration closes today, but it’s a good price for a short class. I’m a hit or miss , but I’d like to be more hit, and more focused when I do. I consider this class an investment in myself, something I need to do more often.

I also received the pocket copy of Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I’ve had the digital copy for a bit, but I find with my prayer books and Bible, I really want a book to hold in my hand. I’ve already made much use of this Prayer for life Transition:

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. Igive you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Helps me to listen to those signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking space of an open door.

Isn’t that lovely? It certainly gives words to my scattered thoughts lately.

I also read a lot of books this week, all of them lovely in their own way. You can read about that here.

Finally, I am in the process of setting up a bi-weekly, or monthly email. I’m still working out the details. Previously, when I did this, it was simply a digest of the past week’s posts, but this won’t be formatted that way. It will be sort of newsy and personal. A way to communicate without throwing everything out into the social media sphere. Heck, it will be an adventure for us all. If you think you want to actually hear more words from me, you can sign up below. It will be about ten days before I send out my first email.

Have a lovely week filled with fun things, friends! I am so grateful for you.

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Something Fun Sunday: Birthday week!

Something fun Sunday is a struggle for me this week. I don’t feel bad, but I also certainly don’t feel fun.  However, what I know about myself is when I least feel like fun is when I most need it.  Plus, this week is cancerversary/birthday/Mother’s Day week and I share one of those special days with my lovely youngest daughter’s birthday, so there is a whole lotta celebrating going on. I plan to enjoy it, funk or no.  I plan to continue to avoid internet debate and the endless news cycle as much as possible, and also read my face off.

Without further ado, fun things *cue huzzahs*

Unbeknownst to me until yesterday, next week is apparently a Bout of Books Read-a-thon week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! I’m planning to procrastinate responsibility as much as humanly possible and read until my eyes hurt. Then I’ll put on my reading glasses and read some more.

Bout of Books
We’re also planning to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next Sunday.  Hunky wondered if it was an appropriate Mother’s Day activity and I was all, Heck to the Yes, it is!  Truth be told, I wasn’t terribly interested in the first one, but then I  saw it, and now it may be my favorite Marvel movie.
In case you haven’t seen it enough times, you can watch the trailer here (apparently, there is no embedding for this one.)

I’m also really, really, really, really am looking forward to Rob Bell’s new book
I posted before about how Rob Bell is one of the voices who keeps me sane lately.  I plan to buy this jewel with or without birthday money. You can plan to read more about it when I do.



So even when I don’t fele particularly fun, there’s still plenty of fun stuff to enjoy if I just put my mind to it. For my birthday I’m giving everyone permission to have as much fun as they want this week! Life is short. Here’s to a beautiful 44!

Something Fun Sunday: Episode 3, The one where I take a nap

I’m I the only person who feels worn out each Sunday? I know it’s traditionally the first day of the week, but my mind has given that title to Monday. By Sunday afternoon, I’m just tired. In just a little while, one of my fun things for Sunday is going to be a great big afternoon nap. Amen!

This week threw curve balls and changes galore. The Hunky and I finally got a new bed. The Portwood-ettes barreled on through their last semester before college. Summer is so close they can practically smell it, and the weather here wants us to believe it’s summer already. Have I mentioned my disdain for summer?

I’m two weeks into the Whole 30 eating plan today. Every Sunday I want to give up and eat a loaf of bread, but every Monday pushes me one week closer to the finish line and I batten down my self-control and power on. This year I am measuring inches instead of mean old LBS, and I’m about 2 more inches from a crisis in the pants department. I dislike clothes shopping, but I suppose this is a pretty good reason to need to.

On to the Fun Stuff

Yesterday I shared what I’m reading for 100 story summer. But I never read only one book at a time, and I always have a non-fiction going along with my fiction. This week I am reading about some natural ways to combat depression. I’m on a huge self-care kick (if you couldn’t tell), so this is right up my alley.

I’m always late to a band wagon – if I choose to join it – but I’m only a few weeks behind the S-town podcast bandwagon. Friends, I gotta tell you, this is one great story. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally invested or to relate to so many of the events. I’m halfway through and it’s all I can do not to quit everything in order to just sit and listen. Hello, self-control.

Growing up, I always felt very competitive. I had to be the best, all the time, at everything.  Thankfully, I’ve moved away from that mind-set over the last few years. There are many things I want to do well, but I want to do them well for me, not in order to beat someone else or prove anything. Mostly, I want to lead a quiet, fulfilling life. That’s why I love this article: What if all I want is a mediocre life?  I don’t have to be the best at anything as long as I am striving to be the best me.

I know I proclaim my love for Spotify often and loudly, but it really does bring so much fun into my life. This week I put together a playlist so fraught with nostalgia, I can’t stop listening to it. I grew up in Nashville listening watching Hee-Haw, loving the Grand Ole Opry and listening to classic country. My dad loved the Outlaws ( Waylon and Willie and the boys), and me, I just love it all. No one else in the house wants to hear it so I have to listen wisely, but just a little everyday is enough to make me happy for hours and hours. So, if you want to laugh at me, or join in my reverie, I’m sharing the playlist here.

I hope everyone gets a little nap today, and we all head into next week knowing everything is already ok. Hey, it’s May…BIRTHDAY MONTH!! Whoooo-hooo!

Something Fun Sunday: Ep. 2, Poetry and the Dance of Joy

I don’t know about you, but after a busy week, I am ready for some fun! Even if my week is full of mostly good things, when I reach the end of a long stretch of busy days, I’m glad for a few days of breathing room at the end of it. Aside from tackling my demons, leading a community care class, and writing every day, I also managed to watch a season of Gilmore Girls. I spend a lot of time thinking about food since I decided to do a modified Whole 30, pescatarian style. Suddenly and without planning, I also changed my morning walk to a morning run. I haven’t run very regularly since the half marathon. I like me when I am a runner. It’s an activity that does great things for me even while making me grunt and sweat and sometimes cry a little.

Oh, and I came up with really fun summer reading plan for myself!

We’ve also experienced some heavy emotional things this week, so I’ve been especially glad of my heightened awareness of things which make me smile, and especially laugh out loud. So without further ado, something fun for Sunday.

On Tuesday we were so fortunate to be able to see Matilda the Musical at the Fox Theater. I didn’t know much about the show going into it, but oh my goodness! What fun! The music was so fun and whimsical. The staging was absolutely fantastic, and the actress who played Matilda was just divine. Way back in the stone age, Hunky and I met performing on stage.  Early in our marriage we had tickets to the whole Broadway season at Bob Carr auditorium. But it’s been so long, I had tucked all the memories of just how magical theater is away down inside. I’m so glad they are awake again now and that we got to have such a fun night.

(I’m also not at all sorry that I snapped at rowdy eighth grade boys mid-performance and made them afraid.)

Speaking of good musical theater, I had entirely forgotten about this gem of a show

I don’t even remember who posted this on facebook, but I watched it at least five times and almost laughed until I cried.

Speaking of genius, have you seen this amazing poem floating around this week? I truly love sharp and beautiful word craft, and this perfectly fits the bill. Ah, mansplaining.

MansplainAnd one more very quick thing, a book I have very much been looking forward to not only released this week, it went immediately on sale! Tsh doesn’t know this, but we are kindred spirits. Contemplative and longing to wander. She actually wanders far more than I do, so I’m living vicariously through her.  I was willing to wait for my birthday to pick this up, but instead, I caved, bought it on sale, and already started it. Lovely.
Here’s a link to the digital version, which is the only version on sale.

Tsh Oxenrider, At Home in the World


Friends, I hope we all have a week filled with beauty and laughter and the encouragement of friends when the first two are hard to find.

Something Fun Sunday: Episode one

I think that success is having fun. – Bruno mars

Last week, I shared about my Sunday struggles
, and my plan to reframe how I feel by adding something fun each week.  I dubbed it “Something Fun Sunday.” This week, I made sure to take notice of books, events, songs, and moments so I could share them today.  I’m pleased to say, it worked! I was definitely more mindful of enjoyable moments. I anticipated their arrival and savored them longer, and then reflected on them more often in further anticipation of writing about it.  These are all keys to happiness. Without further ado, here’s Some fun things for Sunday
I’m an unashamed Marvel movies fan. No, I didn’t grow up reading the comic books, and I don’t know all the lore and back stories. I just know I enjoy a good completely imaginary action flick.  So when Craig showed me the new Thor: Ragarok trailer, I was thrilled! It’s not many movie trailers which make me laugh aloud, but this one does. “I know him! We’re friends from work!” I crack up every time. Watch it here.

Two books added to my enjoyment this week. While I tend more towards literary fiction and non-fiction, some weeks I want cozy chic-lit filled with tears and laughter and a guaranteed happy ending.  I want a great story about relationships and life and the crazy way its beautiful and terrible all at the same time. This week, I found it in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s One True Loves.  I don’t want to give anything away, but, friends, if you need a cozy good book this week, this is it.

On Thursday night, my book group gathered (more fun things!), and we ended up talking about an entirely different book. The Happiness Project is a long-time favorite.  In fact, I’m undertaking a happiness project of my own this year. I reread this book almost annually and was so excited it came up because it’s currently $1.99 on Kindle. I don’t know how much longer this deal will last, so if you decide to read it too, I wouldn’t wait too long to buy it. Incidentally, when I talk about how anticipating, experiencing and remembering an event increases happiness, that’s a concept I learned from Gretchen Rubin.

I’m a bit late to the bandwagon (aren’t I always?) We’ve had family premium on Spotify for about six months now, and the whole experience is wonderful. I’d forgotten how much I like music, and how entwined my mood and music can be. New music at my finger tips and the ability to make playlists for every mood?  YES, PLEASE!! EVERY DAY ALL DAY LONG!  A couple weeks ago I ran across this little gem, and I’ve probably listened to it sixty-eight times since then. So now I share it with you, enjoy!

Something fun Sunday: building new habits

I’m currently at odds with Sunday. Yes, I experience conflicting emotions about days of the week. Welcome to my world. On Sundays, if I have experiences I find difficult, I try to regain balance by also doing something fun which restores rather than depletes me. Over the last year, I’ve begun to embrace the narrative that self-care is not selfishness.

As a church go-er, I find myself faced with two conflicting messages. The first says, die to self. We do this by giving up our needs, desires, wants, personality traits, and ideas and conforming to cultural norm of Christianity. Individuality and self-care are ranked beneath meeting others’ needs and a long list of behavioral expectations.  The second says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It challenges us to fully embrace our quirks and personalities as evidence of the Divine Creator. Yes, we all have rough edges to smooth, and issues to redirect, but we were designed to be who we uniquely are.

The first message has always been the loudest in my life. The second is newer and scarier. It leaves room for growth and error, and is definitely not one-size-fits-all.  By granting love and acceptance, it shifts responsibility for my life from a religious institution to my own imperfect shoulders.  While I do not disagree with the concept of dying to self, I’m so tired of only believing there is nothing good in me.

Ironically, the more self-aware I become, the more balanced my view of self is. Yes, there’s dross worthy of the trash heap, but there’s some amazing material, as well.  My personality and desires, the things I love, the ways I relate and relax, these divinely inspired pieces aren’t inherent flaws.  I am, all at once, random splices of DNA, a construct of my environment, and an unquenchable, creative being, utterly unique in the entire universe.  I exist as I am for a purpose.

Embracing this narrative hasn’t been an easy journey.  I lose sight of the revelation often, caught up in the cycle of perfection and approval again. It’s true that old habits die hard, but they do die.

Which brings me back to being at odds with Sundays. When life presents us with difficult circumstances, sometimes we can just pack up and walk on.  If we can’t escape, we turn to coping mechanisms to diffuse emotionally charged experiences. Whether these coping skills are healthy or unhealthy depends on tools and self-awareness. Personally, I have my share of unhealthy habits which have done me no favors.

Instead, as part of my 100-day writing project, I’m starting a new thing: Something fun Sundays. I don’t know about you, but left on its own, my mind tends to spiral downward. But if I retrain it to watch for something fun, and share these things with you, I get quadruple the enjoyment. I get to anticipate, experience, remember and share.  I can’t escape an emotionally entangled situation, but I can, perhaps, reframe it by surrounding with things I enjoy.  If Sunday can’t be my favorite day of the week, it can at least be one I look forward to and savor.

What strategies do you use to cope with emotionally charged situations?