Motherhood

11 Things I Learned This Summer

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Being a lifelong learner is a good thing and one of my favorite things about being a grown-up. Think about it - we get to learn new things we actually choose and create the space to pursue things that interest us! I’m loving this quarterly practice inspired by Emily P. Freeman where I look back and reflect on things I learned in the season that just ended. So here’s my list of things I learned this summer - a final wave goodbye with gratitude to summer and welcoming of fall…

1) “Conflict is good news.”

This phrase hasn’t left my mind since I heard it this summer while listening to a podcast while watering seed trays in the greenhouse. It’s so utterly against how I operate that my ears perked up, I turned off the hose, and started quickly tapping notes into my phone. It’s from Roe Cummings’ interview on the Simple podcast, episode 203. This quote Roe shares is from a book by Diane Hamilton called Everything Is Workable. Roe says seeing conflict as “good news” helps us welcome conflict as an opportunity to expand and settle. She says the entire purpose is not to eliminate conflict with other people; the purpose is to transform it. “Instead of being reactive or resistant to it, we can ask a more powerful question - What is this moment calling me into? And what is this moment asking of our relationship? How does it want us to go deeper together?” So. Good. A really great episode all-around.

2) “Hard” doesn’t always mean “bad.”

This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but I had an epiphany moment this summer in an everyday conversation with a friend who is also a type 9 on the enneagram. Because I really dislike conflict, I tend to equate anything “hard” with “bad” and then immediately shift into the mode of running away from it or trying to fix it. The problem is, you can’t really “fix” other people. And life is just hard by default, so if I don’t stop doing this, I’ll be in a constant battle internally to fix and change everything around me. For example: my children are bouncing off the walls, bickering with each other all day, and turning their noses up at anything I ask them to do. My normal M.O. is to take it on as this huge burden and believe the lie that I’m failing as a mother, my family is falling apart, and my children are going to turn out badly. A much healthier perspective: realizing it’s just a hard day, these things are going to happen, and we all need extra heaps of grace and patience. I’m learning to lean into the hard, knowing it will pass, and learn what I can by being present in the moment rather than trying to quickly gloss over it and move on.

3) A two-day reset at the beach is LIFE.

Steven and I made a vow at the beginning of this year that we would take more breaks (unapologetically!) so we wouldn’t burn out come autumn, which is our most demanding time on the farm with so many dinners and events. As we enter autumn now, I have to say, I’m so proud of us. Because we did take more breaks, and they were restorative and multiplied our family time and united us so we could enter the fall together, stronger. In July, we were graciously given the opportunity to spend a few days at a friend’s beachfront condo in Rosemary Beach, FL. It was full of:

  • seashell hunting

  • wave riding

  • mermaid tail building

  • lounging in sculptured sand recliners

  • slow living

  • no dirt :)

  • bike rides at sunset

  • wine and iced lattés on the balcony

  • no sense of time

  • packing a whole suitcase and only wearing the same 2 things

  • Coconut La Croix

  • Hair drying into spiral salty curls

  • Being absolutely present with each other

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4) Body image struggles resonate with so many of us.

I wrote a pretty vulnerable post for Art of Simple this summer on my struggles with body image issues and also recorded a podcast episode with some really practical ways to foster a healthier body image. The feedback I got from these was staggering - all ages of women seem to be dealing with this on some level. Let’s cheer each other on in support of healthy bodies, remembering that being strong and healthy is more important than a certain weight or size. I know it’s hard, and our society doesn’t make it easier. But for me, this summer was much healthier and more positive than the last one since I decided to take some action to grow in this area. I’m with you in this, friend.

5) My 9-year-old is totally capable of handling more now.

It’s been freeing to realize we’re entering a slightly different stage of parenting, where it’s actually great to give my oldest daughter more responsibility, and she thrives in being able to manage some things on her own…like setting her watch alarm for 4pm everyday so she an go feed Rosy, our sourdough starter. Or putting her in complete control of setting up and managing the samples table every Saturday at our farm store. Or doing her own laundry and putting it away.

6) A lattice pie crust isn’t as hard as it looks.

Who knew? I for sure Googled a video on how to weave this lattice pie properly, but once I watched it, it was really easy - pinkie swear! This is the epitome of 4th of July food to me - a homemade peach pie with The Peach Truck peaches and a flaky crust from Steven’s pastry dough recipe. Side of vanilla ice cream, please, or whipped cream, or both!

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7) Apparently I do canning now.

Canning and preserving is something I once said “I don’t do.” Well, things change, honey. This season on the farm, we’ve been honing in more and more on “our lane,” what we’re truly best at that utilizes our passions and gifts successfully. We feel that bringing together the culinary with the farming is getting closer and closer to it. Growing produce in order to make unique artisan jams for our farm store has definitely been a success this season, so that’s good! We started with Strawberry Serrano and Strawberry Balsamic Thyme in the spring, moving on to Peach Chipotle and Peach Bourbon Vanilla, then mid-summer to Blueberry Basil and Blueberry Lavender, and finishing the summer season with three tomato jams: Sicilian Tomato, Tomato Bacon, and Heirloom Tomato Gochujang. We love bringing together our unique cultures to the flavors and opening people’s minds to new combinations. The Heirloom Tomato Gochujang was my favorite tomato jam - at the very last minute, Steven tasted it and said it needed some “umami.” He added some Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) and it was just the thing to take it over the edge from “a good tomato jam” to bombshell.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

8) Sunflowers are my spirit flower.

Let’s be honest - we’ve known this since freshman year of college, haven’t we? Sunflower perfume, sunflower posters on the walls, sunflower comforter, sunflower sheets, sunflower necklace, sunflower everything (ya with me, all of you who started college in the 90s?!). But growing sunflowers is a whole other story. We planted two 100-foot rows of them this year, and I literally feel a spark fly within me when I harvest my own sunflowers at golden hour. Such a joy.

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9) Music can still move me to tears.

The absolutely brilliant songwriter Ryan O’Neal of the band Sleeping At Last has written an album called Atlas with a song for each Enneagram type. Each song is its own work of art, with every note and phrase carefully crafted to reflect the nuances of each Enneagram type. The Nine song brought tears, especially this lyric:

Choked up, I realize / I've been less than half myself / For more than half my life

Oh man.

If you know your type, definitely look up the lyrics and listen to the Sleeping At Last podcast episode about each number. Here’s something songwriter Ryan O’Neal said in the Nine episode that struck me: “There are times when the waters aren’t supposed to be calm. And that’s okay too.”

10) DUMBO is even better than I remembered.

Um, hello, this part of NYC has exploded! For those of you who don’t know, DUMBO is a section of Brooklyn right on the water - it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This summer, my girls and I (while Steven held down the fort back home) visited family in Queens, and we spent an entire morning and afternoon playing and exploring in DUMBO. The last time I visited this area, maybe 7 years ago, there were some little boutiques and coffee shops, but that’s all I really remember. Now, there are amazing play areas and gorgeous parks on the water (including the magical Jane’s Carousel!), art exhibits, so many artisan ice cream shops you can hardly choose, and the brand-new Time Out Market indoor food hall with everything from Michelin-star ramen to barbecue to an entire restaurant built around the avocado. It was the best day getting my city fix. I’m sold, DUMBO.

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11) Sometimes it takes being with old, faithful friends to find yourself again.

Some of our dearest friends, Chris and Julie Bennett, visited us for a few days last month, and it’s been over 7 years since we’ve all been together. Do you have friends like that who you’ve known for almost 25 years and have walked with you through so many struggles and different versions of yourself? With Julie, I feel like I came home to myself again, remembering who I am. I’m actually funny. I’m silly. I’m joyful. I wear unicorn glitter makeup to Target. I’m not bogged down by fearing the “what-ifs” of life and I’m reveling in the present and looking to the future with hope. The fact that they put aside a few days to come and be with us meant the world to me. It was utterly lifegiving. We also got to record an episode together of their weekly web series, AT HOME. Check it out!

Here’s me and the fearless Julie on the farm, and on my wedding day…

Baileys and Bennetts

Baileys and Bennetts

YOUR TURN! What are some things you learned this summer? I’d love to hear!

11 Things I Learned This Spring

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Have you tried to actually sit down and reflect on what you’ve been learning? It’s not that easy. We go through life so much on autopilot without taking time to reflect. So I’m loving this new practice, joining in with author Emily P. Freeman to look back on each season and notice and name some of the things I’ve learned. Join me - I’d love to know what you’ve been learning too…

1) How to slow down time.

Oh, don’t we all wish we actually could? But I’ve learned a little secret while writing this post for Art of Simple that’s become my new daily motto: Today, I will log more moments in the present so time feels longer. The more moments we log in the present, time actually does feel slower - and more full of the good stuff. I still look at my two growing daughters (5 and almost 9) and see that “the little years” are mostly behind us (lump in throat), but I honestly don’t feel time slipping out of my hands. While we’re entering a new stage, I know I squeezed every drop of life I could out of the previous one.

2) “God will not let you miss your own future.”

HUGE exhale. This line is from Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing podcast (episode 76), and it’s one of the best things I heard this spring. It really is such a relief to know I’m not responsible for it all. I say I believe that, but to live like it’s true is another thing entirely. I’m working on doing more of that.

3) I prolly shoulda started farming at age 25 instead of 39. #ohmyachingbones

But seriously, I’ve learned this spring that it’s just gonna hurt and be uncomfortable, and the more I have that expectation, it’s a wee bit less hard. My husband Steven always says, “High expectations lead to much frustration.” So I’m setting the expectation: there’s gonna be mud caked under my nails. I’m going to feel gross and need to take like 10 showers a week. And to save myself some frustration later, listen to my gut next time and always add at least 2 irrigation drip lines to a new row, no matter what anyone says. There were some definite choice words involved in pulling up those rows and re-doing them. Oy.

4) It’s important to keep a childlike wonder, no matter my age.

Every single time a new seed sprouts, I have the same feeling of awe: it actually worked!

And a new discovery: apparently birds really like to nest in ferns. This may be old news to many of you, but this was my first time seeing it when I took down my hanging fern to water it, and I literally gasped.

The other evening, I was walking back to the produce washing station after feeding the chickens, and this sight of our barn with the almost-full moon stopped me in my tracks (look closely for my oldest daughter in the rye grass). The best part is that I texted it to my husband, and he said he didn’t even know where that was at first - sometimes we see our own surroundings with fresh eyes.

5) It’s good to accept others’ help.

A few weeks ago, on an ordinary weekday, my girls ended up staying the night at my close friend’s house. It was totally impromptu, and Steven and I found ourselves kid-free for the night at our own house, which we’ve actually never done. He finished his chef work in the barn kitchen, and at 8:30pm, we went on a random but much-needed date to one of our favorite local restaurants, Vanh Dy’s, in our little nearby downtown of Columbia, TN. It’s shocking how hard it was at first to accept that help, that another mom was willingly watching my kids all night while we got to have a date, but I realized how freeing it is to accept people’s help when they offer. It actually blesses others to let them help you - it’s done the same for me when I’ve been on the other end.

6) Sometimes God removes the storm, and sometimes He’s with us in the midst of it.

Photo by KT Sura

Photo by KT Sura

On the day of our spring Kindred Dinner for 150 people, it was predicting storms all evening. This was our 5th farm dinner, and we’ve never had to go with our rain plan. I was so worried, y’all. These people bought tickets and were expecting an amazing, memorable experience. In my shallow vision, I thought our best-case scenario was that it wouldn’t rain, but instead God wanted to show me - and so many others - how beautiful and intimate and nourishing breaking bread together can be in the very midst of a storm. I’ll hold this experience close for a long time.

More thoughts and photos on our Kindred Farm Instagram. My favorite part of this photo is all the umbrellas leaned against the side of the greenhouse!

7) Intermittent fasting is how I should eat most of the time.

I started the practice of intermittent fasting in January, thinking it would be temporary. It feels so good and freeing that I think this is a new longterm pattern in my life. I wrote all about it here.

8) But feasting is just as important.

I’ve learned that feasting is so much more meaningful when you’re not doing it all the time. We were made for both feasting and fasting - there’s a time to reign things in and go without, and there’s a time to let go and enjoy. One of the best things about a collaborative feast is that each person gets to bring something - so be sure and let others help even if you’re hosting. Here are some amazing feasts we’ve had this spring:

Easter Sunday with dear friends and alllll the colorful spring goodness...

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Then, a heavenly little outdoor charcuterie board feast with friends on a Saturday evening, where we just cut up a bunch of pretty things and put them on cutting boards (no cooking!). Add some wine and sparkling water, and you have what feels like a very fancy dinner with no cooking. Bonus for fun patterned tablecloths I got over a decade ago in India, twinkle lights overhead and fireflies all around.

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And here’s something different…we put a little propane tabletop grill in the middle of our dining room table and had some friends over for a Korean ssam (lettuce wraps) feast where everyone got to grill their own meat and assemble unique, colorful lettuce wraps to their heart’s desire. All the lettuce, cabbage, Asian greens, and radishes were harvested from our farm a few minutes before. And I’m pretty sure we used every plate, bowl, and pair of chopsticks in the house.

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9. I still know every word to all the classic NKOTB songs.

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My 11-year-old self would have completely passed out to be this close to Joe McIntyre and New Kids on the Block, but 30 years later it was just a lighthearted blast of a night with my best college gals (and New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Salt N Pepa and Naughty By Nature!). We sang every word to all the classic NKOTB songs like “Please Don’t Go, Girl” (this was played at every middle school sleepover), “Tonight”, and of course, “Hangin’ Tough.” I reminisced about recording mixtapes from the radio, Aqua Net hairspray, claw bangs, BOP Magazine, posters in my locker and plastered on my bedroom wall, and Electric Youth Perfume.


10. It’s best to relax a little and give my girls space to learn some things on their own - this works better than pushing.

After playing Monopoly on and off for several days, my oldest daughter is a master at mental math and being the banker, and my 5-year-old just learned how to ride on two wheels on her own at my friend’s house in her gravel driveway. I so often try to control and feel like everything is my responsibility. Letting go - and seeing that everything is okay - helps me grow so much in this area. I’m also learning to let them help more, even if it’s not how I would have done that particular thing. Plus, I don’t want to miss out on hilarious sights like these:

Well, that’s ONE way to seed a new row of beets…

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11. My husband is an incredible podcast host.

I knew he would be. This man is one of the most compelling communicators I know, with an ability to cast a vision and share stories like none other. Check out Steven’s brand new The Korean Farmer podcast here or on iTunes, where he shares meaningful conversations about life, business, food, and everything in between. We record right here on Kindred Farm in our barn studio…and maybe we’ll be doing an episode together in the near future! :)

Photo: KT Sura

Photo: KT Sura

YOUR TURN! What are some things you learned this spring? I’d love to hear!

A Day In The Life - For The Art of Simple

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In my latest post for The Art of Simple, I’m sharing a typical day in my life right now as a homeschooling mom, wife of a chef, writer/creative, and organic produce farmer. If you’ve never taken the time to record a typical day in your life, I highly recommend it - it was quite an eye-opening experience!

“Recording my day in the life helped me recognize that slowing down time is important to me, as much as it’s in my control. The more I pay attention in the little moments, the more I’m able to pull back the reins on time. So, after I wrote this, I came up with a new daily motto that I’d like to share with you…”

Continue reading…

Rebirthed

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5 years ago today, I was safe in my bed at home in Dallas, holding my little Norah Jewell, who had been born 47 minutes after midnight. I had tried with all my might to get her out on January 22nd so she could share my dad’s birthday, but in the end, she came into the world on her own time, as she still does as a carefree little girl who says, “My favorite color is rainbow, and my spirit animal is a unicorn.”

Here’s the story of Norah’s birth - the consumption of inordinate amounts of fro-yo, the waddling around Whole Foods and holding onto a shelf in the body care aisle during contractions while the customers looked at me strangely, the waiting, the hoping, the believing that this would be “my healing birth.”

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After preparing for months for a homebirth VBAC, this experience unearthed a strength I never knew was possible and ended up birthing me just as much as it birthed my child.

I thought I was going to break.

I didn’t.

And in the end, I was handed a beautiful, pink skinned baby with her daddy’s Asian eyes.

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Little did I know how much I would draw upon the strength I found in myself that day for years to come, because a few years later, I would push my body to the limits again, this time to birth a farm and grow an abundance of food from soil that had never seen life before.

So, here’s what I want you to know today - God says that because of Him, when we feel weak, we are actually strong - so much stronger than we thought possible.

I believed it 5 years ago and I still believe it today, for you, and for me.

>> Norah’s Full Birth Story

>> How I Prepared For A Homebirth VBAC

"The Year of Saying Yes" - For Wild + Free

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“Something stirred in my heart at the Wild + Free conference in Franklin, TN this past September. During that whole weekend, I couldn’t shake the feeling that 2019 would be my ‘year of saying yes.’ Once I had some time to process, it all came clear: this year is about opening up myself and my family to deeper relationships, priceless opportunity, and more freedom…”

The Wild + Free homeschool community has been so inspiring to me, so I’m grateful to have written another piece called “The Year of Saying Yes” for their latest online bundle, SAVOR. Wild + Free is a beautiful homeschool community full of diverse yet like-minded mamas all across the world who want to provide the space and time for our children to explore, engage with the world, and have the freedom to become who they're meant to be as childhood is preserved and slowly unraveled.

Each month, they release online bundles chock full of articles and tutorials to inspire homeschool mamas, or really anyone who wants to parent more slowly and intentionally. The monthly subscription includes a gorgeous print magazine as well. You can subscribe to the monthly bundles here

December-ing

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2018 is almost over. How is that possible?

This is the first December we’ve truly celebrated advent, after so many years of wanting to make it a yearly practice. I also finished my Christmas shopping a solid week before Christmas, which is really saying something. We stretched out the holiday season as long as possible, and it was a sweet time. Here are some things I’ve been engaging in this December…what about you?

Reading…

Well, I still haven’t finished many of the books from my November list. Here’s my current reading list…

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

  • Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

  • Boundaries With Kids by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

  • Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson

  • The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung

Watching…

  • Here are some favorite Christmas movies we watched this month - Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas (if you know about this movie, we can be friends), Holiday Inn, White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, All I Want for Christmas, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street (new one), Elf.

  • My life is so complete since they put Bob Ross on Netflix. Both my girls watch it too, enamored. Right after an episode is over, someone inevitably asks, “Oh pleaaaaase can we watch him paint just one more winter landscape?” We’re an artistic family, we can’t help it.

  • Mary Poppins Returns. We had a little family fun night a few days before Christmas and surprised our girls with dinner and a movie. Any Mary Poppins fan was understandably nervous at how the sequel would hold up, but I had a permagrin the entire time. It was delightful. The ending gave me the same wonderful, buoyant feeling as at the end of the original. So many creative parallels & cameos in the story as well. Dying to see it again!

Listening…

  • I loved the Advent playlist from Tsh Oxenreider’s Simple Advent Guide.

  • The Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack. Again, delightful.

  • Andy Gullahorn’s album, Everything As It Should Be. The song “Different Now” could be my own words. I love this whole album.

Cooking…

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Discovering…

  • How much I love power tools. I made the above advent candleholder using some salvaged driftwood and a spade drill bit, and now I want to make holes in everything. I’ve always left the drilling for my husband (translation: begged him to fix things for me) but there’s so much freedom and fun in learning to do it myself.

  • How much I love and need winter. Maybe it’s just a break from bugs and sweat and a chance to have smooth hair for a change. But the more I live by the seasons, the more I realize how much I need them. There’s absolutely a beauty to winter that I don’t want to miss.

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Seeing…

  • My home through different eyes since reading Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith last month. We did a huge purge in my girls’ room, and there’s breathing room now, with much more space for doing the things they actually love: playing dolls and Lego’s and crafting. I’m about to tackle the mud room next, which is currently piled up with coats and dirty farm boots and completelydrivingmeinsane. The biggest thing I took away from that book is that I don’t have to wait for things to be perfect in my home to love my space now. There are plenty of things I can do with limited funds to make each room one we truly love being in.

    What did your December look like? Anything to share? I’d love to hear!

If I Have Another Chance to Meet Anne Lamott

“So many of us can be soothed by writing: think of how many times you have opened a book, read one line, and said, 'Yes!'  And I want to give people that feeling too, of connection, communion...It is one of the greatest feelings known to humans, the feeling of being the host, of hosting people, of being the person to whom they come for food and drink and company.  This is what the writer has to offer." ~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. 204

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It was Good Friday, 2009. I was spending the afternoon at a friend's backyard pool in an opulently wealthy neighborhood in Dallas where shade trees are 100 years old and sparkles of light are cast through their branches onto expansive bi-weekly manicured lawns. The pool was a natural deep blue, with flagstones surrounding the edge, so it felt more like a swimming hole carved out of a mountain. I dipped my toes into the water and then reclined on a strip of flagstone until I was nestled between the ornamental grass landscaping and the edge of the pool. The late afternoon sun shone on my face, forcing new freckles to pop out across my nose. In that spot, I finished Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and knew that the book had changed me forever. Toward the end of the book, Anne reminisces about her own mother as she looks over old photographs from her imperfect childhood. And something was sparked deep in my soul at that moment, so much that I had to pause, and put the book face-down on my chest. I surprised myself when I said aloud, "I know for sure now that I want to be a mother" - right there, on Good Friday, laying on my back in someone else's backyard.

By September of that same year, there was a new life growing in me, and I was soon to become a mother.

In Spring 2011, when I had heard Anne Lamott Herself was going to be speaking at a nearby Barnes & Noble, I started counting down the days. I still had an infant baby girl who didn’t want to leave my side, so when the day finally came, I strapped my daughter into the Boba carrier on my chest and rode the escalator to the second floor of the massive bookstore in the heart of Dallas. When I got off the escalator, there was Anne, in all her dreadlocked glory. After reading so many of her books, I couldn't believe how impossibly simple it was that she was here, just standing casually at the podium talking with a few people who had already gathered. It was a small crowd, almost ridiculously small considering her widespread influence as an author and the size of the city we were in.

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I intentionally stood in the back with a few friends, the only woman who had brought a child with her. Right before her talk officially started, Anne (perhaps channeling her Operating Instructions self) looked directly at me and asked, "Would the mother with the baby in the back like to have a chair?" I looked from side-to-side as if to ask, “Me?!” and then blushed and answered shyly, "That's okay, I'm fine." She smiled and began her talk.

Anne’s talk was lovely, as if her written words had come to life before me. I wish I’d taken notes, but my arms were full that day. Afterwards, the attendees started to gather for the autograph line, and I began to really feel nervous. This was my chance to meet the author I felt I knew personally from all her writings, to tell her how her iconic spiritual memoir had quite literally changed my life.

But when it was my turn, I transformed into a shy, giggly 12-year-old who could barely make coherent sentences. I thrust a crumpled piece of notebook paper in front of Anne’s face, barely muttered "thank you," watched her sign it, and then surrendered my spot to the person behind me. That's it. How about expressing the words I'd planned to say like, “Your writing helped me realize I wanted to be a mother"...or… "Your voice showed me that there are many ways to genuinely follow Christ, that not all believers have to fit into a cookie cutter conservative mold." But no, I couldn't muster the courage. All of us attendees took a group photo with Anne, and then my friend asked if I wanted to get my photo taken with her alone. I downright refused and shuffled us all out of there as quickly as possible.

That night in Barnes & Noble, I had dissolved into an embarrassing puddle of shyness, my most introverted self. And I wasn't sure why. Anne Lamott is just a person like you and me. My behavior is ironic considering the personal insecurities Anne speaks openly and repeatedly about in her writings.

Maybe one day I'll have another chance to tell Anne how much her writing has meant to me without losing myself. Until then, my copy of her autograph with the little unconnected heart after her last name is a little treasure to remind me of that strange but eye-opening experience.

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Looking back on that spring night in a Dallas bookstore, I realize how much I've grown. Eight years of motherhood under my belt, I’ve sacrificed myself and found it again in new ways. I’ve gained confidence as a writer and started unearthing my unique voice to share.

If I had another chance to meet Anne Lamott, I would do things differently. I would wait peacefully, confidently, for my turn in line. I would walk up to her, crouch down and look in her eyes with the respect she deserves, and tell her the story of the first time we met. She’d probably laugh it off and make some joke about herself. And then I'd relate what I really wanted to say last time: “Thank you for turning the lights on for me. Your vulnerability is a gift that helped me see the truth in my own life.” I’d take a selfie with her to commemorate the moment and walk away knowing that I’m a writer too, and I can also impart that gift to someone.

~ ~ ~

Read my review of Traveling Mercies.

Read my review of Bird By Bird.

November-ing

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I’m typing this from a lovely cabin in the mountains of North Carolina near Asheville, where our little family of four has been enjoying some much-needed rest. It’s our one vacation for the year, so we’ve been livin’ it up, and by that I mean taking naps, cozying up by the fire, drinking copious amounts of coffee with heavy cream, and playing fairy board games. Perfect.

It’s recently come to my attention (see here and here) that people are still reading blogs, which makes my vintage 2008 blogging heart so very happy. I blogged for 10 years and miss that medium of free-flow writing, sharing more detail and thoughts than can be captured in an Instagram post. So in celebration of the new era of blogging, I thought I’d share some fun things I’ve been engaging in this November….

READING

I’m a chronic reader-of-too-many-books-at-once, so here ya go:

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

  • Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

  • Never Say No by Mark & Jan Foreman

  • Boundaries With Kids by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

  • Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson

WATCHING

  • Salt Fat Acid Heat, a four-part Netflix series, over and over. Spoiler: I share more about this on episode 169 of the Simple podcast. Let’s just say I’m enamored and basically want to be Samin Nosrat’s best friend and sidekick.

  • The Greatest Showman. Call me a late bloomer, but we finally just watched it over Thanksgiving break, and I was subsequently so obsessed with the Wikipedia page on P.T. Barnum that I scrolled it until my fingers cramped up. Whether or not this movie is an accurate depiction of his life, our whole family is enamored with the cinematography and the soundtrack. Along with the rest of America.

  • We also watched Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium for the first time on vacation - what a sweet little movie! “Life is an occasion. Rise to it.” —> words to live by. Well done, Dustin Hoffman.

LISTENING

A few podcasts that have stirred my heart lately…

  • My dear friends were on Esther Perel’s podcast, Arc of Love. It was intimate, raw, and so brave of them to share about their journey. You’ll just have to listen for yourself. It’s on Audible - season 3, chapter 5.

  • Another sweet friend, Tara Leigh Cobble, was recently on The Happy Hour With Jamie Ivey (episode 220). TLC and I have been friends since the early 2000s in Nashville, I traveled on the road with her once, I’ve fed her multiple times in my home, and she was in my wedding. The way she talks about the Bible is always so refreshing and encouraging. Tara Leigh has had a traumatic last few years, yet she doesn’t turn away from God in the midst of struggle. I love learning from her.

COOKING

  • Lots of loaves of my No-Knead Bread that they say is “so easy, a 4-year-old could make it." Except I do knead it a little, because it’s so addicting. Try it - I promise if a 4-year-old can do it, so can you!

  • My favorite raw macaroons with a drop or two of doTerra peppermint oil to make them festive (dare you to eat just one…).

  • Cinnamon Bun Muffins from Comfy Belly - so good for breakfast with a coconut milk latté.

  • I’ll definitely be making Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon on Christmas - a new tradition for us. Serve with a wooden spoon straight out of the dutch oven with crusty no-knead bread and a huge side salad, and you have winter comfort food at its finest.

DISCOVERING

  • The benefits of fasting. Many of us have heard about intermittent and extended day fasting lately and all the medical research about how giving our digestive system a break helps heal so many things. I plan to venture into this world in January as both a physical and spiritual practice, so I’m reading this book in preparation of the physical part of it.

SEEING

  • Vacation through my children’s eyes. They don’t really care about doing big, expensive things. They just want to sit with us by the fire. To cuddle and listen to a book. To have our full attention while playing a game. And I’m so thankful for time to do just that.

Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 140

Hey friends! Just wanted to share that I'm on the podcast Simple with Tsh Oxenreider today, talking about Kindred Farm and all the ways farming has personally changed me. It was truly a joy talking with Tsh and sharing my/our story!

"I had all these fears, but it’s actually been the complete opposite of everything I was afraid of. I’ve actually found myself in a lot of ways since becoming a farmer that I completely did not expect...Farming has pushed me physically and emotionally and helped me learn what I’m capable of as a woman."

Listen to the whole thing here or in iTunes - it's episode 140...

"Homeschooling On An Organic Farm" - For Wild + Free

I'm so honored to have a piece entitled "Homeschooling On An Organic Farm" in the latest Wild + Free bundle called "Wander." Wild + Free is a beautiful homeschool community that has inspired me like no other - it's full of diverse yet like-minded mamas all across the world who want to provide the space and time for our children to explore, engage with the world, and have the freedom to become who they're meant to be as childhood is preserved and slowly unraveled. Each month, they release online bundles chock full of articles and tutorials to inspire homeschool mamas, or really anyone who wants to parent more slowly and intentionally. The monthly subscription includes a gorgeous print magazine as well. You can subscribe to the monthly bundles here

Here's a little sample...