Watch Each Other Grow.

I’m surrounded by an incredible group of women. Some are near, some are far away; but the support system I have is a gift. It’s also something I have often neglected to be a part of. Part of the reason is that I don’t like asking for help. I like to do it all by myself. Part of the reason is that I’m afraid of what others will think… what will Suzy-Homemaker say when she realizes I’m really struggling to keep up with the housework? Part of it is also that I don’t like to burden others, so I’ll struggle on alone, rather than ask for help in the areas that I’m weak, & offer help to others where I’m talented. There are many days when I just need help. Maybe a listening ear, a friend to do yoga with, or someone to meet me at Target just to get out of the house. Instead, I automatically shell up & shy away from my community because I don’t want them to see my imperfections.

The TRUTH is: I don’t have it all together. 

And you know what? Neither does anyone else. I’ve felt like some women have got ‘it” all together, only to sit down with them over a cup of tea & realize: They’re HUMAN. Just like me. We all secretly thought she was Elastigirl or Wonder Woman… but she’s a human. Drop. The. Mic.

One evening a few months ago, a dear friend opened up her home to me for an evening of fellowship. We drank tea & bounced from topic to topic. I found out something that made me laugh out loud: she had felt like I had it all together at times. ME? Really? I had felt the same about her. She gently reminded me that nobody is perfect, & reminded me that it actually takes a strong person to admit that they need help from others.

It’s not weakness to need help. It’s LIFE.

The truth is: it does take a village. If you’re a mom with little kids running around at home… or a single woman on her own, struggling to handle an impossible job & bills. Maybe you’re a single mom with kids to get ready for school, while needing to be at work at the same time. If you’re a human, you need a village. Our community should build up our strengths, gently cover our weaknesses, & gives us the help we all need to do life. If you’re community isn’t doing that (or you’re not asking for what you need)… keep reading.

Let's root for each other & watch each other grow.

Here’s what I’m learning in my search to build up the community around me, so we all have the support that we need.

1. Community Isn’t Equal.

We often make up an imaginary “point system” in our hears. You do me a favor, I “owe” you something similar in return. When you’re in the trenches of motherhood, or dealing with a difficult job, the last thing we need is the pressure of of self-imposed point system. Here’s the thing: WE’VE CREATED THE SYSTEM. It’s a broken system… because nobody is blessed with the exact same talents, has the same personality, or does life the same way. When I get to help a friend in the ways I’m good at… I don’t want anything in return. It’s a joy. Let’s get back to that.

2. Talk with your sister-friends.

Seriously. Just as quickly as we created the point system, we can dismantle it. Get together with one (or a few!) of your best friends, & see if they’ve been keeping points. Drink several pots of coffee or tea, & laugh about how silly it is that they’ve wished they could “keep it all together” like you do. Then drop a bomb on them: NO. MORE. POINTS. Instead just be a bunch of amazing women, seeking to help each other with their God-given talents. You all have to mentally DROP the system in order for this to work. It can work.

3. Know your strengths.

I’ve often hesitated to ask a friend to watch my kids for an evening… because right now, I can’t imagine having any more running around this tiny house! It’s okay that I’m not ready for extra kids at this stage in my parenting. However, if someone wants help organizing, clearing clutter, or talking through any cool ideas: I’m your girl. I can sit there & talk about ideas like a live version of Pinterest. (Pinterest searching will also be involved. Because, Pinterest. 😍) I’m always up talking about organization, natural health remedies, small business, mama-hood… those are some of my strengths. I’m also ALWAYS up for a coffee date. Always. That’s a definite strength, right? 😆

You need a village- 3 TIPS to help build the community you NEED!


Here’s my challenge to you:

Seek out your friends, & set a date. Drink tea. Eat cookies. Open up, & see if they’ve been keeping track of points. Then, ask them to dismantle it with you & start something new. It’s incredibly freeing. If y’all love making lists, write down some of your strengths, & some of your weaknesses. See if there are overlaps, & offer help. Begin to build a village, instead of an island.

Comment with one thing you are AWESOME at when it comes to helping others!

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Grow. One Word GIVEAWAY!

This is my 4th year picking one word instead of making New Year’s Resolutions. I absolutely love it… it’s amazing how much the word applies to circumstances each year. When I look back, I’ve discovered that it’s often been the running theme throughout the past year. Last year was “Plenty”. 2016 was a year of abundance. Abundant joy watching the kids grow & learn. Last year a lot of financial burdens lifted, since we were no longer pouring money into our Tiny Home. My business grew, & I feel like I’ve learned so much.

As I was thinking & praying about my #oneword for 2017, I kept thinking about growth. Towards the end of 2016, I began making a lot of changes… changes that are the stepping stones to bigger things. I have seen myself growing by leaps & bounds, just in this first week of 2017. I think I must know how a butterfly feels, coming out of a cocoon. For so long, I’ve longed for MORE. But then, right before Christmas, I tested out my wings, & stepped out in faith.

God answered in a mighty way.

I’ve changed. Deeply. I don’t even know how to describe it, but there is MORE. More joy, more fulfillment, more peace. The knowledge that I’m right where I’m supposed to be is ever-present. I’ve become more bold than I ever thought possible. I found my voice. I’ve found strength… & it’s not my own. Because that’s how the Spirit of the Lord works. Just like Moses, or Esther, or Gideon, He takes us right where we are the weakest, & infuses us with strength. His glory is shown where we fail. Believe me, I’ve been afraid I would fail for years. I’ve doubted my own abilities, struggled to see God, & wondered what was wrong with me.

Then I discovered: nothing. Nothing was wrong with me. I just needed to grow. All the things I’ve gone through have been to bring me to this point. This point of growth, of learning, & of leaning on a God who is bigger than I ever could’ve imagined. My gut tells me I’m not done yet. This new year will be full of growth… Stretching my wings, letting go of fear, & probably some growing pains, too. The word “GROW” just seems to… fit.

So. This year, I hope to:

  • Grow spiritually
  • Grow in strength
  • Grow my business
  • Grow in knowledge

INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY:

I’m running a special give-away over on Instagram! If you’d like a chance to win a hand lettered 5×7 of your #oneword for 2017, 1️⃣ Follow me on Instagram, & 2️⃣ Leave a comment with your One Word on this photo. (<–link) ✅ You get EXTRA entries for each friend you tag! The winner will be announced on January 15th.


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5 Ways I’m Dealing with Burnout.

Confession time: Before Christmas, I was busily burning the candle at both ends. Staying up waaaaay too late (too early, actually…) & not getting the amount of physical, spiritual, or emotional rest that I so desperately needed. I was BURNT OUT. I knew something had to change, so I began searching.

I started asking myself & God what it was I truly needed. What kind of life I was leading, & what had to change so I could live intentionally. Up until this point, I’ve tried to stay intentional, but the craziness of life, kids, & the business usually sideswiped me. It felt like my life was living me, instead of me living my life. I wanted to enjoy simple moments, have more time for cuddles with the kids, & not feel stressed if I need to take a nap in the afternoon. I’ve been known to shout “There’s not enough TIME!” even on days where I’d only had 4 hours of sleep.

I began to form a plan. To figure out what I needed to change in order to find some margin. For me, margin is the extra space around the edges of a full life, so I have room to enjoy it. To live. To take semi-regular showers (I do still have kids, after all…), & put on makeup. Play the piano. Time to sit & smell the essential oils ☺️. I also knew I needed to establish some rhythms. Rhythms are things I do every day, to take care of myself & those around me. Simple routines that are good for me, so that I could be a good mom & wife. So, here’s what I’ve started doing:

5 Ways I'm Dealing with Burnout.

  1. Sleeping

    The first thing I knew I had to change was my sleeping habits. I started trying to go to bed earlier (& by early, I mean 10:30 or 11:00 at night!) & rise around 6:30. It’s not completely set in stone… some mornings I sleep in a bit later, some mornings I get up earlier. I also knew I needed to trust my instincts about needing extra rest, so space for a mid-day nap would have to be made. Some days I take them, other days I don’t. But there is space for rest.

  2. Quiet Time

    The next thing I needed to do was have a regular quiet time. I’m a Jesus-follower, & have journaled pretty regularly for over 10 years now. (Until I had kids!) Finding time to quiet my soul is pretty hard when the kids are awake. My 6:30 waking time allows for a regular quiet time, & I’ve already enjoyed the results. My days are much calmer, & I feel so much more peaceful, grounded, & focused.

  3. Exercise

    I’ve never been really good at consistent exercise, except when I do something that allows me lots of stretching & work on flexibility. I’ve started practicing yoga at home every morning. No workout videos, just me, & my favorite worship music (currently Lauren Daigle!). It’s almost turned into a dance as I move from pose to pose, & I miss it if I skip a day!

  4. Me Time.

    I’m a stay-at-home Mom, & I run a business. “Me time” is rare. I have had a tendency to think “I don’t have time for that!” & put off my own needs for something more important. However, if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anyone else. Regular “me time” is tucked into the edges now, even if the kids are awake. Sometimes it looks like sneaking a chocolate chip cookie, sometimes putting my favorite oil in the diffuser. Grabbing a Chai while I’m running errands. Anything that fills me up, so I can better fill up those around me.

  5. Minimize.

    When in doubt, I’ll minimize. If I’m feeling rushed, I clear out all unnecessary to-do’s off my list. If I’m feeling stressed, off comes the fancy dinner I had planned, & we have a box of mac & cheese & some sandwiches. If the house feels cluttered, I pick something to organize. (The other day, I went through all my hair accessories… & got rid of over 3/4 of them! 😱) If I’m feeling bombarded with noise, then Netflix, music & anything else loud stays off during nap time.

These 5 things have changed my world in the past 3 weeks. I’ve only slept in a few times, even over Christmas! I’ve been more rested & peaceful. I’ve handled the everyday stresses of life with much more grace & peace.

 

What is ONE THING you can do to take care of yourself better for the month of January? Can you establish a restful rhythm, or minimize stress in a certain area? Post it in the comments!


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5 Unusual Places to Organize

It’s that time of year again. The time when the deals on Black Friday are just too good to pass up. When grandparents can’t help but shower your kids with TONS of presents, & suddenly your house feels like it’s stuffed to overflowing. To me, right before Christmas is THE BEST time to start the de-cluttering process. There are about to be a huge influx of toys, craft supplies, & leftover cookie tins that nobody seems to know what to do with, but it’s just SUCH a shame to give them away.

In our family’s effort to seek simplicity in our home & lifestyle, I’ve been doing more organizing, & de-cluttering so we can enjoy more of the simple things in life. I’ve recently learned that the key to having a clean, peaceful home is very dependent on minimizing the “stuff”. The more things we have piled up in corners, on the shelves, or stuffed on the counters… the more stressed I get. Clutter just seems to breed chaos, doesn’t it?

5 Unusual Places to Organize

1) Hair Accessories:

I currently have 3 (THREE!) containers full of hair ties, bobby pins, hair clips… & I haven’t used most of them in 5 years. I use a few elastics (when my hair is long), & some bobby pins on a consistent basis. So… why am I hanging on to the hair clips that I’ve had since I was 12? Do you need to save all the bent bobby pins, or the ones that don’t match you hair color? (Why do I have bobby pins for blondes? I’ve never been blonde…) Throw out broken hair clips. Do you hang on to those hair ties that have the elastic break on the inside, but they still sorta-work? Well, don’t.

2) Cleaning Supplies:

Glory. Who needs 12 different sprays, 2 kinds of furniture polish, & a bunch of other bottles full of mystery liquid? At the end of the day, all I ever use is a bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Basil Concentrate mixed with water in a spray bottle. It works on windows, counters, bathrooms, toilets… pour a glug in your mop bucket, & your floors will be super-shiny. I keep a bottle of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, Mrs. Meyer’s, Barkeeper’s Friend (great for cleaning the tub/sinks)!, & a jug of bleach. If I haven’t used the cleaner in 2+ years, I. Don’t. Need. It.

3) Jewelry:

That’s right. Go through your Bling, ladies. I haven’t opened my jewelry box in ages, except to dig through the countless numbers of costume jewelry earrings to find my favorite pair. I just went through my jewelry, & got rid of SO much! My box was full of earrings I’ve had since I was 12, the cheap ones that turn green, & earrings missing their mate. I saved my favorite earrings & jewelry, a few special heirloom pieces, & the rest is going bye-bye. I will save anything that’s real gold or silver to sell, but the costume jewelry can be thrown away!

4) Technology:

I have a camera I haven’t used in 5 years. It’s perfectly good, but I have a better digital camera, & my iPhone… so… why do I have it? We have 5 years-worth of chargers & cords to old devices that we no longer use. What do you use on a daily basis? Do you need a phone charger in two places? I keep a charging cord in the car & one in the house. But I don’t need the 5 extra cords from the old flip-phones that we used to have! Clearing out our technology basket is on my next order of business.

5) Winter Accessories:

I know after winter’s over, you just grab all the hats & scarves & winter accessories… only to stuff them all in the attic. What have the kids outgrown? Have you worn that hat in 2 years? Is something out of style, just old & dingy looking? Have people given your Hubs 18 scarves, & he’s just not the scarf-wearing type? These are great things to sort out now, & this is the best time to donate them to help out the community (Try a local homeless shelter!).

So… are you gonna join me in pre-Christmas de-cluttering? What area of your home are you planning to tackle?


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Finding Freedom from “Busy.”

I’m the kind of person that quickly feels trapped if I’ve got too much on my schedule. Even if I’ve got lots of fun things on m schedule, it there are too many things on my calendar, & I’m a cranky little bundle of stress! I like having freedom to do life spontaneously. Random coffee dates with friends, impromptu walks in the park. To me, life is just better unplanned.

Mindset Shift: Finding Freedom from "Busy"

BUT. I still have to do stuff. I still have to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. Go to appointments. Cook dinner. Run a business. I’m learning that finding freedom from “busy” is partly emptying out the calendar, but mostly it’s a mindset shift. Here’s what I’m doing to find freedom:

1) Un-Schedule –

Yep. I’ve un-scheduled as much as I possibly can! There are still the non-negotiable things; doctor visits, business appointments, time with my friends that work best with schedules. 🙂 But the other stuff? I’ve pared down. I’ve always thought that I just need to learn how to schedule & plan better in order for me to stick with something… until I realized that plans & schedules just don’t work for this free spirit! Paring down leaves me with lots of space for creativity, friends, & family. ‘

2) Writing Lists –

Instead of a set-in-stone calendar, I usually write myself a list of to-do’s. It includes things that have to be done by a certain date, things I want to do, & new projects that I hope to put in the shop sometime. If a task HAS to be finished by a certain date, I get it done (usually last minute!). If there’s no ‘due by” date, then I get to is whenever I’m interested in that thing. It’s pretty free-form… & no, stuff doesn’t always get done. But I am much happier with day-to-day life with the relaxed freedom this allows.

3) Making Goals –

Instead of a full calendar, I set simple goals & try to accomplish them throughout the day, week, or month. By the end of each day, I try to have a load of laundry done, & the sink empty of dishes. Weekly, I want to clean the bathroom, write a post for Corner Chair, & always, ALWAYS leave plenty of room for coffee dates with friends. (I have a lot more goals than these, but they are a few examples.) Having loose goals allows me to do them when I want to, & not feel locked down into a daily or weekly schedule that makes me feel like I’m stuck in a box.

For years, I’ve tried to “get better” at sticking with schedules, at keeping up with my calendar, to do All The Things that all the “experts” say you should do in order to have a successful life. But all those things honestly make me miserable. And that’s okay! These three simple changes in my mindset have completely changed my joy & happiness each day. I love waking up to a day that’s empty of stress, appointments, & full of endless opportunities. I have the option to put a to-do aside if I get excited about a new knitting project. Or write 5 blog posts at a time, because the inspiration is flowing.

Are you a scheduler, or do you need your days to be free-form?


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Life Slows Down (When You Do).

The other day, I stopped my usual routine to go to the park with friends. It was fun, & the kids LOVED it. By the time we got home, all three of us could barely keep our eyes open! We are some turkey & cheese, & then I put the kids down for their naps. Then I did the unthinkable:

I took a nap too.

I thought to myself “I’ll just lay here for a little while, & then get up & accomplish X, Y, & Z.” Almost 4 hours later, I woke up. The house was quiet, & still. I heard a tiny little giggle from the kids’ room. Even though I had napped my “free time” away, it felt like time had held still. Like somehow, the day hadn’t slipped by without me realizing it.

Life Slows Down (when you do).

Time doesn’t feel like it’s racing by quite as fast. It doesn’t feel like I’m going to miss something. When we stop rushing from one thing to the next, the feeling that there isn’t enough time seems to disappear. Ironic, isn’t it? The one thing (time, rather; not enough time) that keeps us running the “rat race” seems to slow down once we stop running.

Now, I’m going to get the kids up from their nap. We might watch a movie & eat snacks. Because the time that I have with those I love is more important that the race, anyway. This Mama is raising her cup of coffee to toast living more slowly. Oh, you too?

*clink*

What is one thing you can do to slow down?


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Enough Comfort.

We live in a world full of judgers. You weigh too much. You’re too intraverted. Too skinny. Too involved in technology. Too old-fashioned. Too opinionated. A lot of times, we judge ourselves. “My legs are ugly. I hate the way I laugh. I’m too shy.”

What would our world look like if we started telling ourselves & those around that we’re just right? Would we all begin to experience the freedom that comes with being fully accepted? We might begin to live in the knowledge that we are loved. We might begin to find joy in the person that we are meant to be.

We might start to move mountains.

Watch Carefully... when you are comfortable enough to be yourself, you can move Mountains. #atticuspoetry

Most of us struggle with some type of poor self-image. But I know this: I was made for more than worrying what people think of me. I was made for a bigger purpose than hoping to look like the skinny stick-figure on a magazine cover. You know what? So are you.

Let’s give those around us (& ourselves) enough comfort The comfort we need to be ourselves, without worrying if we’ll fit in. We are made to be bold. Mountain-movers. Don’t fit in; Stand Out… & watch the magic happen.

What’s one thing you could tell a friend (or yourself!) that will let them be themselves?


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ANNOUNCING: The Identity Collection

Hello, friend! Today’s the day… I’m SO excited to share the new collection with you. When I first started planning this collection, I was hoping for unique line of handmade gifts. Let me just say: NOTHING went according to plan! I was scrambling last minute to finish some of the designs, scrambling to find a location for the photoshoot… the collection seemed to be changing quickly into something different than I had planned. Sometimes, you just have to let go of plans. It just seemed like the right move to change the name from “Brown Paper Packages” to…

The Identity Collection

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I loved every minute of designing this collection of screen printed shirts. Each shirt is intended to highlight a special personality… no matter if you’re a home-body, or a growly little bear cub. Even better: the shirts were modeled by a STUNNING family (😍) & Samantha from Samantha Jane Photography did a gorgeous photoshoot. I’m so blessed to have an amazing creative community around me. ☺️

Check out the Lookbook to see more!

SHOP THE COLLECTION.

For an exclusive coupon, sign up for the Corner Chair Newsletter:

Comforting: verb.

This week has been just… so, SO good. I’ve intentionally kept it free of to-do’s, & since we’re all recovering from colds, I allowed plenty of room for rest. There is something comforting about an unhurried life. I don’t like feeling like I’m in a rat race, which I usually do if I put too many things on my calendar. Some days I accomplish a lot, & other days it’s Netflix & headphones during nap-time. And ya’ know what? That’s okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionally slowing down. Even going to the gym is currently up on the table. I know I need to keep up with my well-being, but trying to tear up to the gym 3 days a week is stressful. I’m not really sure what I’m planning on doing, but it’s going to involve more mindful, restful exercise. While thinking about slowing down, finding more balance & peace, the word “comforting” just kept coming back to my mind. So, I looked it up:

Some thoughts on intentional living that are so comforting.

The path to an unhurried life is interesting. It feels…well,  selfish, at first. There’s a lot of opportunities you have to turn down to clear the schedule. What I’m finding is once I get my calendar empty enough to think, I actually have more time for people. I am not hurried when I see friends, so I can have more meaningful conversations. When I can stop & rest, I can infuse more encouragement into others.

The thought of slowing slowing down IS comforting. Strength-giving. It’s exciting when I realize that I can pour more of what I love into others. Full of hope. What do you think?


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Letting Go of Plans.

After writing about needing space to plan on Monday, I planned… & then experienced a major shift in all my plans. Yesterday while trying to work on new items for the upcoming photoshoot I managed to dump a bottle of paint on the living room rug… 3 times. 😑 Plans for the location were changed, & I’m still trying to nail down a spot for the photos. Let’s just say it’s been… interesting… to say the least! Top it off with a 5 day migraine & a toddler with an attitude, & this quote says it all:

Learning to Breathe & Adjust when plans change.

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just different. Mid afternoon yesterday, I lamented to Hubs that it felt like everything was falling apart. He’s so good at helping me get grounded again when I’m feeling pressured because my plans collapsed. A girlfriend came over with Starbucks, & we commiserated over our day together. Breathe. Let go.

I did manage to get the paint cleaned out of the rug. Over half of my screens are finished. (Yay!) I’m still working on some other details, & I know it’ll happen. Life is good, even if it doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes I need to be reminded to let go, & breathe. Let life happen… ’cause it’s usually even better than what I had planned. So today, I’m raise my Chai to-go Starbucks cup to you and say: “Here’s to letting go!”

Do you need to let go of some well-laid plans & just breathe? Share one thing you’d like to try to help you adjust to change in the comments below!


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Space to Plan.

Hello, friends! I’ve got a BIG project ahead… &, as usual, I’m cutting the deadline close. I’ll be telling y’all about it soon, & I’m SO very excited! When there’s a big goal ahead like this week, I always need to give myself space to plan it out. Unfortunately, I’m a last-minute kinda girl… so I’m usually running late & running around like a crazy person the day of. However, I also work really well if I give myself a deadline. 😀 I definitely have a deadline this week, so I’m going to take some time today to plan! Here’s what I do to give myself space to put together a good plan:

Space to Plan: 4 Steps to Making Plans for BIG goals.

1) Space to Think.

The most important thing I need is to think… to be able to feel like I can relax enough to get my thoughts & plans sorted out on paper. Over the weekend, I got my housework caught up, & did some cleaning. Today I need to run the vacuum & wash the dishes, but other than that, the house is pretty much spot-on. Read more about having space to think here. 

2) Write a List.

The next thing I need is a to-do list. I write everything down that I need to accomplish… & I do mean E. VER. Y. THING. Breaking tasks down into individual steps on my to-do list gives me a really good idea of the time each thing will take. If I need to do laundry, I’ll write a list something like this:

Laundry – wash – fold – put away – wash – fold – put away

This way I can mark off each individual task, but they’re still grouped together on the same line so I can see the task as a whole.

3) Separate To-Do’s

Once I have a full to-do list, I separate it into days. Some things have to be finished before other things can be started. Less important things have to take a backseat so that the most important can take priority. Some tasks can’t even be started until other tasks are finished, so each day has specific tasks so that the entire project can get done by the deadline.

4) Organize It All

Next, it’s time to organize. I have a weekly tear-off sheet I found at Target that has a list under each day… I write everything down there, breaking it up by day. The Reminders App that comes on my iPhone is also a life-saver. I didn’t start using it until recently, but I enjoy that I can set my phone to beep to remind me of certain tasks, or when they should be done. I love Awesome Note, which is one of the only apps I’ve ever bought. Your to-do lists are organized by file, you can give notes due dates, & synchs everything with your iPhone calendar so you don’t have to put it in a million places at once. (The reminders app also synchs with your calendar, & with Awesome Note!)

I hope this helps you get your next big task accomplished… no matter if it’s a big project for work or deciding to go minimalist! I’m off to write my to-do list for this week. Do you have any other tips to add? Share in the comments!


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What Causes Your Soul To Dance?

I want my soul to dance. For life to be so full of joy & contentment & beauty that I can’t’ keep it in. This kind of joy is always within my read, but how I view the world around me can completely change my perspective. If I let the normal stresses of the day get under my skin, then my day doesn’t feel like it’s full of joy; instead it’s full of frustration.

What causes your soul to dance?

If, however, I can get in touch with my intuition & see what’s really bothering me, I can make simple adjustments & change the day. I can learn to stop reacting to the kids being cranky or my own failures & be proactive. Sometimes it’s as simple as lighting a candle & putting on some soft music. Other times I need to stop what I really want to do & get some of the toys picked up so I’m not feeling like the house is a mess.

Joy lies in my own hands… all I have to do is grab hold of it.

 

What makes your soul dance?


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