I'm off!

Spending this weekend with some favorite people, just talking, drinking wine, and spending time together. Reflecting, this is the first time in over a year that I've traveled to see friends just to see them -- no bachelorette parties, showers, holidays, or weddings. Just being together. Sigh. See you Monday!


More than ...

Super-awesome buddy of mine posted this on her blog today. I was inspired. That's cool because that was the title of her post. Read on and be inspired, too:

“Lord, as I get older I would like to be known as available more than a hard worker, compassionate more than competent, content, not driven, generous instead of rich, gentle over being powerful, a listener more than a great communicator, loving vs quick or bright, reliable and not famous, sacrificial instead of successful, self controlled rather than being excited, thoughtful more than gifted, I want to be a foot washer, I want to finish well.”
– John Maxwel


Rainy Thursday

winter warmth
Craving warm stuff on this wet Midwestern day. Foggy mist is raining down, making everything the color of a black and white photograph. I've always secretly loved antler chandeliers. I find them a little mystical and adventurous. Today seems like a lodge-y kind of day -- for cuddling and sipping and sharing something warm with friends.



This blog was born as an outlet for my wedding planning life, stresses, and reflections. I'm lucky that it's become more like a virtual column. Having this creative outlet has been such a gift, and I've been doing some thinking. I want to give my life the same creative attention as my wedding received. And so, I give you my 2010 "creative outlook."

- Read at least one book every month (see "currently reading" at right)
- Paint knotty pine paneling in living room and hallway to lighten up my life.
- Grow herbs on my kitchen windowsills (post on this coming soon!).
- Get rid of fake greenery and replace it with the real stuff.
- Act on instincts about my home – just be true to what I really love. Don't be afraid to commit to a color or fabric.
- Jot thoughts in journal twice weekly (post on this too!)
- Stick my neck out: write
- Blog.
- Spend time with the ultimate “creatives”: kids
- Keep a binder of inspiration, drawn from loose pages and anything that moves me.
- Fresh flowers. Love them. Once a month, even if they’re weeds from the yard.
- Make my laundry room enviable (see last week's pretty).

What are you doing to fulfill your creative soul this year?


Mental health day

Thankful for a holiday in the middle of chilly and overcast January, I spent Monday meandering through some outlet stores. When I say “meander,” I mean walk very slowly through every store you wish, touching fabrics, and trying blouses or trousers out in the dressing room. I mean standing in front of a display of scarves deciding on one, only to put it back and decide “no” after all. I mean carefully considering rather than lunch-hour-impulse-buying-because-I-really-need-a-new-white-shirt.

I drive an hourlong commute to work on winding, hilly roads, and I live in a small town. This kind of shopping is a luxury, this time. So, today at work I'm grinning around the place. I'm typing away in a fantastic blouse (which I love!) that I bought for a fantastic steal. And I’ve decided I love meandering, slow, mental health days in the middle of January.

In the grand scheme, this is no great revelation for mankind. But I think when you make the married switch it’s easy to forget to spend days alone, in the company of your own likes and dislikes, slowly considering them. It's important to do things without "permission" from anyone but your own self.

(Ahem, one caveat: No credit card abuse or skulking around with secret purchases. That's just bad form. Budgets = necessary.)


Monday Moment: Dreams

I’ve written here about dreams several times: literally, about strange or slightly psychotic wedding premonitions, and more figuratively about the kind you write down or hold deep in your soul.

As a young girl, I dreamed I’d be a famous writer or painter. New York City was a dream. I dreamed of authoring children’s books. My dream was to have my own house, to have money, to one day to be a mother. There was a dream, too, to do something important.

I think I’m honored to check off a few of these things, but oddly, I feel a little empty with check marks next to them. Life is so much fuller with big things out on the horizon.

Years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said some words about dreams. Here’s to never giving in to dreams, to keeping them out there bobbing in the distance.


Something on my bulletin board

A friend tore this page out of a magazine for me way back this summer. Looking back on 2009, it was the absolute perfect thing to have hanging on my bulletin board.

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct... Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is." - from Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tucson

Listening to news of Haiti's incredibly devastating earthquake, the "glorious debris" seems so tangible. CBS news featured one newlywed couple who moved to Haiti to work just two weeks ago. The husband found his wife trapped under the concrete walls of their home -- her waving fingers through a crack his only hope to cling to as he literally dug her out.

We watched this story together in silence, holding hands. The newscast ended, and we hugged. Yes, 2010 is the year to "take life for what it is." High tide!


Pretty thing of the day: Laundry room envy

Whose basement laundry room looks like this? Well, apparently somebody's over at A Country Farmhouse. Encouraging, yes? Yes. Happy Tuesday!


Grown up money

Patrick and I have still not merged finances. Sigh.

This all goes back to a post earlier this fall -- about the
name change and about how I am processing "married life." I love being married and I love my husband. But after so many years of managing my own paycheck and being the only one privy to the literal "ins and outs" of my banking world, it seems like invasion of privacy to allow another person to be part of all of that. Patrick and I have talked, and I think he's felt the same way (maybe less protective than me, but similar).

We do have a joint account (that's so far seldom used) and we still have a budget that we are very responsible about. We've read the Dave Ramsey book. So by December our separate accounts at separate banks were starting to feel a little silly to both of us. And now I've read this
-- on the NEST Web site of all places. The linked post is about being a "grown up" about money. And I have to admit that it really resonated.

(We're trying not to think of our resolutions as "resolutions," rather joint goals. And setting up our direct deposit, organizing our important papers, and becoming "one" financially ... that's definitely on the 2010 list.)


Monday moment: Saying goodbye

This week, many blogs are reflecting on the past year and the things that ended up mattering. Many writers and talking heads are helping us dive into the new year with resolutions and wishes.

Over the holidays, I rested and wrapped and cleaned and thought often about the year that was 2009. So much happened in the world and in our little life together. We spent the first four months wrapped in the bliss of our wedding (probably the happiest day of my life so far), with parties and planning and happy things that made us feel blessed and charmed in life. Beautiful things, a tropical honeymoon, plans and hopes for how things will be.

But new things must be unswaddled and used. For Patrick and I, these first months of marriage have been some of the most trying -- and most binding -- of our many years together. We've really tested our vow to support one another in good times and bad. We've used our bond to climb out of depressions, to deal with loss, to overhaul a kitchen, to vent frustrations, and to find comfort.

This Monday, we said goodbye to Patrick's grandfather. Grandpa Combs struggled and finally was at peace the morning of Dec. 31. Patrick's paternal grandmother was buried in June.

So, what ended up mattering, as the ball dropped "2010" and tears burned in both Patrick's and my exhausted eyes was pretty clear. It had nothing to do with deaths or bad luck. It had nothing to do with a perfect wedding day, either. It had to do with people, with love and the person with whom we'll spend every new year.

In the end, life is a lot like the Jewish tradition author Elie Wiesel writes of,
"...celebration of life is more important than mourning over the dead. When a wedding procession encounters a funeral procession in the street, the mourners must halt so as to allow the wedding party to proceed. Surely you know what respect we show our dead, but a wedding, a symbol of life and renewal, a symbol of promise too, takes precedence."

So long, 2009. May 2010 be filled with life and rewnewal, and may peace and warm memories take precedence over all else.