Friday, March 27, 2015

Falling (Back) In Love With Blogging

For so long I used to think I had to blog Monday through Friday and have a blog post scheduled weeks ahead of time for each of these days. I had features and special things I shared regularly, everything from Tattoo Tuesday to Literate and Stylish to features on women and their careers. My blog was filled to the brim with content, and as much as I loved it there were so many times I wondered why I was doing all of these things when they actually weren't making me feel satisfied at the end of the day. I knew what kinds of posts made me feel good- the ones where I would just write, creating little essays and snapshots of the pieces of my life. I love those. And even more so, the main thing I loved about my blog was documenting my life...but none of these things were doing that.

So one day I decided to stop doing or committing to anything that I didn't enjoy. No rules except asking myself "Does it feel good to share this?" "Does this contribute to the overall happy feeling I have about Sometimes Sweet?" If it wasn't something that made me happy, I stopped. If I started something and didn't enjoy it, I stopped, without making myself feel bad about it.

Once you've been blogging for awhile, you get into a groove. You write about the same things pretty often, because your interests, hobbies, and talents are what they are. But as time goes on, you grow. We gravitate towards different things and our interests shift. I've been blogging here for almost eight years so of course I've changed- it would be strange if I didn't. You can read back and see my evolution not just as writer but as a human being. I valued different things, was interested in different things, even handled situations differently. And now as a mother of two and it's a whole new world from the newlywed I was so long ago. 8 years of change that I welcome with a smile.

It's funny- whenever I stumble upon a "In a rut? Get inspired!" post, so often the author will write something like "read your favorite blogs and pull inspiration from them!" Maybe I'm the odd one out, but one of the biggest things that helps me is turning off everything else; just focusing on my little bubble and the real-life beauty around me. There's a time and place to read a ton of blogs and pin a ton of pins, but that stuff doesn't really inspire me. What inspires me is unplugging and looking for the story I'm already living, then taking some quiet time to reflect on what and how I'd like to share.

For a long time I think I put a lot of importance on my online life. I felt like it was important to grow a readership and gain followers and be present. Then I had children and would feel stressed at times, that I wasn't giving this world the attention it needed. I would sometimes have moments of slight panic, feeling like I was "falling behind" because I wasn't producing the same amount of content. It feels so silly to type out, and I'm sure feels even sillier to read, I know- but this is really how I felt. But then a few years ago a little idea starting blooming in my mind that would whisper to me, "who cares, anyway?" It became louder and soon I started to listen. Really, who cared? All of this- the blog, the Instagram, the Twitter- these were all things that should be secondary to my real life. They shouldn't add anything negative- they exist only because I want them to; they are here to enhance my life, not take up so much space in my world that they somehow become larger than life.

Point being, the biggest thing for me has been just doing what I want, when I want. I found enjoyment in this space again, and it comes from peeling back all of the layers and getting back to the basics. Posts I feel proud of, only sharing things like "Weekend Links" when I feel it, only taking on sponsored content I feel super excited about (this was never a huge problem for me, but looking back I can see some poor choices). It sounds over-simplified yes, but you need to remember that your space is your space. Change, disappear, come back, but never apologize, because it's all part of your story. Do whatever it is you need to do to enjoy sharing whatever it is you want to share. It's letting go of a need to post and operating on a want basis, and eradicating any sort of blog guilt. It's quality over quantity, it's taking the time to wait on a post until it's perfect, instead of trying to get something out NOW because I have a day to fill.

Anything we do can be done better, and my hope is that as I use this space to continue to explore the person I'm becoming and documenting the life we're living, this blog not only improves, but allows me to improve too.

Anyway, welcome to inside of my brain. I hope you enjoyed your brief stay! ;) Have a wonderful weekend. xoxo

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crafting Community 2015: Come hang out with us in Palm Springs!

Hey guys! So I wanted to extend an invitation to all of you, to come spend the weekend with Hank, the boys and I in Palm Springs in a couple of months at Crafting Community's next event. We attended Crafting Community's Handmade Holiday this past December and fell in love with the entire concept and what they stand for. Crafting Community was created by two very liked minded mothers and entrepreneurs, (artist Karen Kimmel and Stacy Bernstein) and I love their mission and belief that creativity is an essential tool for life! Yes, yes, yes, right?! They encourage, inspire and cultivate the creative spirit through art, curated design, fitness and plain old fun....all of which will of course be huge parts of this next event.

May 1-3, the Sixth Annual Crafting Community will return to the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs and the boys and I will be there with bells on! It's going to be amazing with tons of surprises and fun activities for the whole family all weekend long. Chronicle Books, SoulCycle, Whole Foods, Linus and Ergo/Orbit Baby will also be on hand bringing their amazing stories, products and brands to life.

This is going to be such an insanely fun and special event, and I would love to meet some of you (all of you!) as we play and stay at the Ace for a couple of glorious days in the sun.

And be sure to watch this video to get inspired to make it out to Palm Springs this May. We hope to see you there!

this post is in partnership with Crafting Community.
all photos courtesy of Crafting Community.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Becoming


I had a laugh with a girlfriend the other day because we both feel like we're going through some interesting shifts in our lives. For me, I've been enjoying the outdoors more and more. If you take me out of the equation and substitute in a middle-aged man, it would absolutely appear to be a mid-life crisis. Patagonia hat, adventure photos...who is this person?! We laughed at ourselves over a glass (or two) of wine and talked a lot about how we change as we age. Best case, you get better. In the worst case, you don't. Simple, right? But really, I am grateful to have so many years of self-reflection under my belt (thank you, blog), because it has allowed me to really see myself. And it's funny, when I thought I saw myself before I really didn't; I kind of just saw what I wanted people to see, as if that was who I was, or who I wanted to be at least. Then I started to believe that that person was me. Does that make sense? But as I get older I just want to be who I am. The bare bones, the real stuff. I want to put that out there, instead of what I think people will like, in every sense of that statement.

I think one of the most interesting things about getting older is becoming who you will be as the world spins on and you change and things change and every little thing changes. I thought I knew exactly who I was, but I still don't really know, at all. Getting closer, sure, but find me again when I'm 40 and I will probably poke fun at this naive 32-year old who thinks she's even scratched the surface. Then find me again at 65 and I'm sure I'll laugh at everyone I've been since then.

So who am I? Who are you?

I think about when I am the happiest and it's when I'm surrounded by those who really see me, and who allow me to see them. I want authentic relationships. I want to be able have real, true, deep conversations with the people I love, and see them, really see them- and allow them to see me too. I don't want surface. I want depth and emotion and to share beautiful experiences. This past year I took a look around and saw that I was holding onto people that didn't add to my life. They didn't make me feel good. So I let go.

I want to spend my time outside, exploring the world as much as possible with my family. Hank and I started hiking at least once a week a little over a year ago and as time has progressed we spend most of our days outside in some way. I can't get enough and as the year has gone on we've become so interested in the outdoors that we plan our weekends around hikes and adventures- this is how we want to live our life and raise our children.

Work is important to me. After having Henry I said (to anyone who would listen, really) that I never wanted to work again, if that was possible. Many months went by, a year, then two, we had another baby...and I realized that as satisfied as I am with being a mother and staying home with my babies, I also have another side to me that fills up with happiness when I am working. So I explored that. I love teaching but I didn't want to be away from the boys, so I was lucky enough to find a job that allows me to do both- to stay home with my children but also be a working mama with occasional travel. This has been the magic combination for me. I've never been busier, but I've also never felt more fulfilled. There's still tweaking to be done as I continue to figure out the work-from-home and life balance- but I'm getting there. It's interesting to be in Mommy mode all week than suddenly be in a meeting in the office in work mode. I know many mothers do this everyday, but after not being a part of the working world for a chunk of time, it's been a shift. A fun shift, but a huge change nonetheless.

It's a beautiful thing to be able to change. It's an even more beautiful thing to allow that change to happen, and to allow others to change. Hank and I often have conversations about how crazy it is to be with the same person for over a decade- we're so different than the people we were when we met, but at the same time we're still those same kids, young and in love. Life is wild- we're all becoming who we will be, and one of the coolest things about being a human being is that we can choose who and what we surround ourselves with, as we hopefully shift into a higher consciousness year after year.

I tell Henry everyday- "do all things with kindness," and I tell myself the same. Be kind to others, be kind to myself, be kind to this process. We're all becoming who we will be, we're all on this path that hopefully leads up, up, up and gets better and better and better the older we get. I turn 33 in two months and I am looking forward to another year on this path. I look forward to turning around and seeing where I've come from and looking ahead at where I'll be.

There's no way to say this without soundly incredibly cheesy, but I say this wholeheartedly- here's to our best selves. I love you!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Read it: Scary Close

So funny story about this book. You know how you've never heard of something, but then you do, then suddenly see it everywhere? That's what happened with Scary Close. I saw it on a friend's Instagram account, then suddenly it was all over my Amazon recommendations and in conversations with friends. I took it as a sign I should read it, so I downloaded a preview of it to my Kindle right away.

The sample had me hooked within pages and as soon as I got to the end of that first chapter and had the option to head over to Amazon to buy it, I did. But then I saw that it was listed as a religious book in the Christian Living category. Now, of course I don't have anything against reading books about religion- I actually enjoy doing so- but as a non-religious person the one kind of book I probably wouldn't be into is a book considered a Christian "self-help" book with mentions of god and the Bible every other page. However, I liked the sample so much I decided to just go for it...and I'm glad I did.

Scary Close is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in awhile. I wouldn't consider it a "self-help" book at all actually- although it totally helped me in so many ways I feel like that category doesn't even begin to encompass everything this book is! It's a look at the author's life and his journey to find true intimacy while also being a guide to finding the meaning and true depth of connection in the relationships in our own lives, both romantic and platonic. And it's really a book full of encouragement to look at yourself in an authentic way- to remove all the b.s. and see yourself for who you are, and love others for who they are too.

This book really made me think, and also made me take a long, hard look at myself. It inspired me to do the work I need to do to continue on this path of self-betterment, and it also got me excited about LIFE in general. It was a quick, easy read and the conversational tone Donald Miller uses makes the pages fly on by. I've already recommended it to a few friends who all "binge-read" it like me, and loved it. And by the way, for you other non-religious folks, this book definitely isn't preachy or pushy by any means, and really just encompasses what I hope to be the best parts of any religion- love and acceptance of yourself and others.

Enjoy, and let me know if you pick it up!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The List

I've had these lists forever- places I want to go, things I want to see- Pinterest boards full of beautiful spots around the world that I hope to go to, one day. And I came across this quote the other night-

The most dangerous risk of all- the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

Makes you think, right? And although our right now isn't totally conducive to just getting up and traveling around the world, one day I hope we are able to. This is a beautiful phase of our life, a season of raising babies, and I love being right here, right now. But just because it's a little more difficult to go to Japan, Australia, Africa...places that are all on our list, there are so many spots in the United States, and right here in our own state of Arizona, that we can enjoy now.

A couple years ago I promised myself I be more adventurous and DO rather than just dream. There's a time for dreaming of course, but like the quote up there brings to mind, I don't want to spend my days dreaming, and missing my chance to actually do the things I'm dreaming of. So we're doing it. It's been as small as making a list of local hikes we've yet to try, and taking every Sunday to explore them, one by one as a family. There's also been bigger things on the list that require more planning and saving on my end- asking my sister to watch the boys for half a day as I hike with a girlfriend, seeing if my Mom can cover Hank and I for an evening as we take some time to head somewhere new.

Tomorrow I leave for Antelope Canyon, followed by a visit to Zion National Park to hike Angels Landing, places that I've dreamed of seeing forever. I'm excited, I'm nervous (have you seen photos of Angels Landing?!), but most of all I'm proud of myself for evolving into someone who is more apt to get up and do the things I'm dreaming of rather than sit back and wish I was doing them.

So here's to adventure. And here's to those lists we have and living them, and seeing and doing and exploring. And really, what's better than that? Taking this one go 'round and living our dreams, whatever they may be, however they fit into this current season of our lives. Sometimes it's as simple as making plans to hike somewhere cool this next weekend right in your own state, or booking an excursion with friends to a far away place. But either way, it's a great feeling to make it happen.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Saturday Night Hello.

It's Saturday evening and I write this with a big pile of clean laundry next to me that I kind of pushed over to make room on the bed to sit here and type. It can wait, right? I feel like it's been forever. Eleven days to be exact but I miss you, I miss writing here and sharing here so I thought I would pop in with an update.

It's been a busy few weeks. So much travel, some good things happening, and some bad things too. I think the biggest thing I've been thinking about these past couple of weeks is how strange it is to watch your parents age. It's horrible actually. I still imagine my Mom and Dad to be about forty in my mind- that's where they're kind of frozen. But then sometimes, like this past week, I'm suddenly struck with the fact that no, my father is almost seventy and my mother isn't far behind. How did this happen? It's scary, isn't it? It's this weird thing where we're so lucky to have a lifetime with the people we love, but as we get older and realize that the better part of that lifetime has already been lived, well, that's hard. Goodbyes are inevitable of course, but when you see your parents sick or hurting or not the way they've always been, it's a weird place to be as a grown-up child. They should be invincible, right? Forever forty, forever my young, able parents who took care of me- not the other way around. Growing up is hard, even at 32.

The other day I was hiking with my friend Alana and we were talking about growth and change and how good it feels to discover different parts of ourselves as we get older. It got me thinking about the past couple of years and what a shift I've experienced in myself. All I want to do now is be outside, go into nature, hike and explore. This hasn't always been the case, and it's so interesting to me because now it's something I need in almost a spiritual way. I'm going to stop here before I get going, but if you ever want to discuss this, come join me on an adventure and we can sit on the side of a mountain and cry about how beautiful the world is. Half kidding. Haha.

And speaking of beautiful, this stage of life with the boys, you guys! It's just the coolest. They're getting so big and Charlie is such a chatterbox. Henry is learning to read, and it's one of the absolute neatest things I've ever seen. It's especially interesting as someone so in love with the English language, because I've never watched someone actually learn to read before. Paired with Charlie's daily language acquisition my mind is pretty much blown everyday. Very cool stuff.

Some other things going on- work is keeping me busy. I've figured out a good balance with my job and life, which was a challenge for me in the beginning as I balanced my new "work at home mama" gig, but half a year later I'm buzzing along and we've got it down. Hank and I have a wedding coming up next week that I'm really excited about, and I actually head to Utah in a couple of days too. Zion National Park, here I come. I've also been reading some really amazing books lately that I will share more about very soon here, and one in particular has totally got me thinking. I'll tell you more about it this next week.

For now I'm off to tackle this pile of laundry now (fold, fold, fold), but I wanted to say hi. And thank you. And that I love you! I hope you are having a great night too, wherever you may be.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Before I Was a Mom, I Was the Best Mom.


Before I was a Mom, I was the best Mom. Do you know what I mean? I remember a girlfriend of mine, she would tell me stories about the antics of her children- once one cut the other's hair, a big brown chunk missing from the back. Another time she found both in the kitchen covered in flour, the chicken set out for for dinner thrown on the floor. And even though this was one of my dearest friends, I would think to myself (in the way, way back of my mind- the icky, judgmental place) why were they alone for so long? Long enough to cut the other's hair, at least. Why were there scissors around, able to be grabbed by little hands? Why were they in the kitchen without you? Why were they climbing on the chairs to get to the counter to reach for the food? I thought these things, and although I never thought she was a bad mother (never ever), in my mind I would always wonder the hows and more so, the whys. Because lord knows when I became a mom, I would never, ever, ever let those things happen on my watch.

So now, here we are. My kids often play by themselves in the playroom, while I cook dinner or use the bathroom, or just sit on the couch away from them and take a moment to be by myself. We have a kids' craft closet within Henry's reach, with a pair of safety scissors inside. Safe, sure. But sharp enough to cut hair during those minutes I'm away from them? You betcha. And the other day, when I was putting groceries away, Charlie managed to climb on top of the kids' table to the counter, where he sat for a moment before I noticed he was there. Certainly enough time to grab flour or raw chicken or whatever else could have been in reach.

Point is, it's sure easy to judge when we're not in it.

I thought about this the other day when I saw an old photo of myself, holding my friend's little one. It's so funny how the years fly by- I can still remember being so young and wondering what it would be like to be a parent, and now I'm a mom of two. I recall talking to Hank- this is what we'll be like when we have kids, this is how it will go. And of course, it's nothing like we imagined!

As I type this, my oldest is at school and my youngest is napping. The hum of the baby monitor next to me is a reminder to finish up quickly so I can move onto work emails before naptime is over. Once Charlie is awake we'll eat lunch and go get Henry, then our afternoon will be a whirlwind of activity until it's time to make dinner. I'm in it. I'm doing it. And of course, all of the things I said I'd never do, well here we are, doing most of them. Parenting is crazy like that, it kind of forces you to take a long look at yourself and the way you do things, and constantly question it all- is this for the best? Is this working? It's been four years now, and the longer I do it, the more I realize that a big dose of kindness and understanding goes a long way, for both myself and for the parents around me, doing their thing too. So a hug to you, mama, and a hug for me. And a hug for my 22-year old self as well, and a tiny reminder in her ear to be kind, because before she knows it, she'll be right here too.

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