You’ve Got a Nose for Creativity

There’s a chance the only thing standing between you and your next big creative idea could be the smell of vanilla and cinnamon. Whaaaat?!

I know. It sounds crazy, but there’s research that says the combination of these scents has been linked to creativity.

In fact, this article talks about several fragrances that help us in various ways. For example, did you know the smell of oranges can reduce anxiety?

Fascinating, right?! So for today’s creative tip, I encourage you to light a candle like this, bake a batch of these cinnamon-vanilla monster cookies, or whip up a pot of simmering scents.

{Here’s a great recipe to try: Toss one sliced apple, three cinnamon sticks, a pinch of cloves, one teaspoon of vanilla and two cups of water in a pot to simmer down.}

Once you have your means figured out, head to the place where you do your creative thang, take a deep breath, and let nature take its course. Haha!

Have fun soaking in the scents and being brilliant, my creative friends.

Blessings,

Kate

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5 Things We Can Do When The World Feels Crazy

I don’t typically post about things like this, but it’s hard not to be affected by the state of our country right now.

We just had the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Puerto Rico is in ruins, and Houston is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey…among so many other situations around us.

The fear, anger, and desperation can feel overwhelming. How do we even begin to process and even make sense of it all?

Like many of you, I want to do something. So I opened my computer and pulled out my planner, (because that’s what I do), and I made a list of how I can help. How any of us can help, really.

The list is small by comparison, and I know it won’t completely fix our crazy world, but at least it’s progress. And I’ll take that over complacency any day.

{ONE} Give of ourselves

We can do this quite literally. Blood donations are needed now more than ever in Las Vegas. You can go to www.redcross.org and click on “donate blood.” Type in your zip code to see donation sites closest to you.

There’s still a lot of need in Houston and Puerto Rico (and will be for quite some time). Maybe consider an ongoing donation to an established charity in those areas?

This list includes local Houston charities with boots on the ground and are providing some of the best support in the area.

Puerto Rico’s first lady, Beatriz Rossello, launched an emergency fund with help from private companies. United for Puerto Rico (Unidos Por Puerto Rico) lets you donate through PayPal or directly to its bank account.

Maybe you have a cause that’s closer to home or your heart? Find a way you can give of yourself. Volunteer your time, share your money, or round up much-needed supplies. Be a contributor.

{TWO} Stay open minded

I get mental fatigue sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Twitter and reading hateful posts from people who only care about their own opinion – and forcing it down everyone else’s feed.

Free speech isn’t a one-way right. It should be okay to disagree…have different thoughts about issues and intelligently work toward solving problems, but it seems like egos keep getting in the way of meaningful discussions.

I was enlightened by this article that was recently shared by a friend. Here’s an excerpt worth noting:

“…You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

(Love that last line.)

{THREE} Inform our kids, with guard rails

I think it’s important for kids to be smart about life. They need to know how to protect themselves from strangers, bullies, severe weather, and people with guns. So I talk to my kids about safety tips and even talk about what’s going on in our country – but not in too much detail.

I try not to let them watch the news, which is full of terribly graphic images. I don’t want to scare them into becoming hermits or doomsday preppers. We take the Skimm approach and talk through just the headlines.

This great article outlines how (and how much) we should inform our kids at various ages. I found it extremely helpful.

{FOUR} Watch what we consume

Heavy news can be hard for adults, too. It can be hard to avoid it, though, as it fills our social feeds. And we fall into the rhythms of checking statuses so often.

When we do give ourselves a break, we might sink into a Netflix series that’s a little more violent than we’d like, but the storyline is just so good. I get it. I’m in the same boat.

All of the content we consume adds up, though, like calories in our minds. How healthy are we, really? How much of what we’re consuming is good for us?

A few weeks ago I was feeling a little down in the dumps…for no apparent reason. As I was brushing my teeth before bed, I looked in the mirror and realized I was behaving like a character in a show I had been watching. A sad, lonely dude…and here I am a vibrant woman, mother of three, with plenty of people around me to love. It really made me stop and recalibrate what I’m feeding my mind.

We’re more affected by what we see than we realize.

I’m not going to bury my head in the sand about current events, but when I’m given a choice between a murder mystery or a funny episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I think I’m going to let myself laugh for a bit.

{FIVE} Pray for everyone involved

There are plenty of people offering their prayers right now – politicians included. And I truly hope everyone treats this word as a verb, not a noun that can be tossed about for the sake of niceties.

Prayer is powerful and necessary.

And regardless of your religion, if you believe in a higher power, now is the time (more than ever) to actively pray and ask for healing, understanding, and peace to wash over us. To help us see what’s truly going on and what’s needed from us to correct course.

I’d love to know what you think about all of this. And maybe share what your families, friends or co-workers are doing for others? There’s plenty of room in my day planner to add ideas 😉 

Many blessings, my sweet friends.

-Kate

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Looking for a Life of “Lagom”

The word lagom (pronounced: laaw-gum) is a Swedish twist on minimalism, and it translates to “just enough.”

I read about this philosophy in a recent Skimm update and was super intrigued. We live in a world of wild contrasts. We spend too much time with our phones, iPads, and Netflix, and at the same time are encouraged to reduce things from our diets and simplify our workouts and schedules. So it makes sense the idea of lagom hits home with so many of us.

It’s a way of life that strives to be in constant and steady moderation. So essentially, you can have your cake and eat it too, as long as it’s a reasonable bite.

Fascinated by this idea, I decided to assess my home and see where I could use a little lagom makeover. Where were areas of excess and stress?

Well, I found five specific places. Here’s where they are – along with inspirational pictures of what I hope to accomplish.

 {ONE} My Closet 

Doesn’t looking at this picture make you feel so calm and happy? I strive for a closet that’s this simple – and downright pretty.

Problem: I keep too much variety in my closet at any given time. I have at least three different pant sizes going on: aspirational, just right, and PMS/holiday. And I let the seasons overlap too far, as in wool scarves and bathing suits. I also hang on to things that I don’t totally love, but they fit. So, eh, I’ll keep ’em.

Plan: Get real about my size, what feels good, and what I really love wearing – then donate the rest. I’ll take my nicer things to our local Dress for Success location to help women who are truly trying to better their lives. The rest can be shared with friends or donated to other local shelters.

I’ll also be smarter about how I divide and organize the clothes I want to keep. For example, I’ll sort fall/winter and spring/summer and only have one set in the closet at all times. The clothes not in my closet will go in clear, labeled bins and stored the attic.

Also, I think having matching hangers and grouping clothes by similar colors will make me feel like I’m going shopping every time I open my closet door!

{TWO} The Pantry

As a mom who feeds three square meals a day (plus snacks) to five hungry mouths, the pantry can get a little crazytown. Everyone has their own favorite foods, and I like to plan ahead for at least a week’s worth of meals, so that = a lot of pantry items. What’s a momma to do??

Problem: My pantry always feels like it’s crammed with stuff, and I’m not even a doomsday prepper. I keep a reasonable amount of food. I think the problem is that I don’t have the right kind of storage solutions to fit the space. For example, my pantry shelves are really deep, so I can’t reach the very back of the space.

Plan: Invest in sliding baskets so I can easily store and reach items in the entire space. I will also group like items, such as all of the canned goods together on a shelf and all of the lunch items (chips, granola bars, etc.) together in a basket.

I do have some room to reduce the amount of items. The next time I plan meals, I’ll start with what’s already in the pantry and just add what’s needed to round out the meal. That way I can finally use up the extra wide egg noodles that keep looking at me every time I grab my morning cereal.

{THREE} Bathroom Closet

Bathroom storage can be a hot button for many of us. For starters, we rarely have enough room to begin with. Where are we supposed to put all of the towels, linens, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and sometimes even our makeup and hairstyling tools? Serenity now!

Problem: Space. I have a small closet in the bathroom that’s trying too hard. Poor thing.

Plan: Spread the love. I can put spare toilet paper in our laundry room (where there’s more vertical storage) and the cleaning supplies can go in a caddy under the kitchen sink. In fact, I could probably stand to reduce a few cleaning solutions.

The things that are left in the closet, such as towels, linens and some lotions, I’ll do a better job organizing and labeling. Ahh. I feel better already just saying that.

{FOUR} The Bookshelves

I love books. With my whole heart. Real ones, too, that you can hold and turn page by page. The side effect of this passion, though, is having piles of books teetering on shelves.

Problem: Thinking I’ll read all of these books again, or that my kids will want to read them one day. #nope

Plan: Give myself a set number to keep. And a realistic number that allows room for other interesting objects on the shelf, like a beautiful shell we found on our recent trip to the beach or the cool beer stein I brought home from my girls’ trip to Germany years ago.

Then I’ll donate the rest of the books to the library so I can feel good releasing them into the wild – where others can be inspired or learn from them.

{FIVE} Craft Supplies

Craft supplies. My love language. Even my family knows it. There’s a spot in my garage we call “mom’s craft corner.” It’s my mini Hobby Lobby that continues to grow – and get a little out of hand from time to time.

Problem: I tend to keep every scrap of pretty wrapping paper, ribbon, and fabric swatch. And since I don’t have a specific craft hobby, I’ve collected a large variety of items.

Plan: Toss anything that has been cluttering my space for more than two years. I mean, if I haven’t used those pink glitter pipe cleaners by now…I can donate to the art department at my kids’ school.

Everything else that’s left will go in clear plastic bins that are clearly labeled by type. For example, all of the ribbon will go in a “ribbon” bin and my scrapbook scissors and punches can go in a “paper tools” bin. Sounds reasonable, anyway. I also love the idea of pegboard storage. So I foresee a project in my future!

Wish me luck as I dive into this whole idea of simplified living. Here’s to beautifully simple weekend ahead!

XoXoXo,

Kate

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Unleash the Power of Curiosity

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it could be our saving grace. When we allow ourselves to get curious…really intrigued…about the things that bring us joy, it can lead to more fulfilling jobs, exciting days, and a life that feels on track.

Curiosity is a direct path to finding our true selves – and what we were uniquely created to do.

I’ve been told many times and in various ways that “passion” is the way forward. When we find our passion, we find our purpose.

For me, that always felt like such a big commitment. I feel pretty passionate about lots of things, so it’s hard for me to nail down the one thing I need to do. And that leaves me feeling stuck.

I found myself reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert recently and was nudged out of my boring stuck-ness with her thoughts about curiosity.

{This is an inspiring read to add to your book list!}

She encourages us to relax about it all and simply “Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

Finding our passion, and subsequently our life’s purpose, doesn’t have to be singular or come through a grand epiphany. All it takes is a little self awareness and an internal nudge to take action. And that’s the key. Act on what makes you smile, and see where it takes you. It doesn’t have to immediately turn into a money making opportunity or personal mission statement.

Start by cheering yourself up with fun stuff to do. If you still feel stuck, think about the answers to questions like:

  1. What would you do with an extra 15 minutes in the day – all “adulting” aside?
  2. What topic do you Google most often?
  3. Which Pinterest board has the most pins?
  4. What issues get you really fired up?
  5. What was the last thing that made you laugh until you cried?
  6. What activity makes you lose track of time?

Let your intuition take the front seat, and see what pops up. Use these answers as clues. Get curious about the “why” behind each of these answers. Follow those leads.

Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us that “the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

I love that. Let’s go see what we can uncover!

To help boost our motivation, I rounded up some of my favorite quotes about the topic. Feel free to Pin, share, or download as wallpaper on your phone to keep them top of mind. >>

Here’s to a day spent in constant curiosity…and discovery!

Many blessings,

Kate

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Back from the Beach & into the Blog

Hello, lovelies. I’ve missed you and am excited to be back on the blog.

I had a fantastic trip with the family (many weeks ago) and had to jump right back into the real world the moment we got home. School, soccer and work all came calling…at once.

Coming to this space and writing on the blog gives me a lot of joy. So, I’m happy to carve out this moment to sit in front of the computer – and not for a work assignment!

As we dive back in, I thought I’d share a few things we’ve been up to in the Andersen house these past few weeks:

{ONE} Creating fresh starts

My twin girls are in middle school this year, which completely blows my mind. Top that off with my son starting 9th grade, and I plunge into denial. They’re still babies, right?! Just a little taller and several shoe sizes bigger than me. >>

{Um…he’s not even standing on anything – other than his own two feet!}

In my effort to slow time, I decided to spend more of it focused on my kids…getting ready for new schools, different experiences and deeper friendships.

For my girls, it also meant getting ready for a locker. (Another “first” for the books.) As you can imagine, we had a blast cruising the aisles of Hob Lob looking for everything and anything to glue to magnets.

Here are a few of our favorite projects >>

Project 1: We decorated a round mirror with folds of ribbon. Upper left shows the finished product. Upper right shows the supplies: mirror, ribbon, magnets (not pictured are glue gun and felt). Lower left shows how I looped and glued the ribbon. Lower right shows the back. I used felt to soften the edges of the ribbon.

Project 2: We found small aluminum letters and just glued magnets to the back. A super simple way to personalize a locker!

Project 3: Another easy one. We found these darling metal flowers in the jewelry section of Hob Lob and just hot-glued small magnets to the backs. We went back for more of these little pretties.

Project 4: This is a small craft supply tin with a clear lid. We took a magnet sheet (available at Hob Lob) and cut it to fit the entire bottom of the container. Then the girls filled them with mints so they can freshen their breath between classes!

Project 5: We found these clothespins already decorated, but we decided we could also make more using washi tape. Then we glued magnet strips to the back to make them locker ready!

This magnet (and the one below) were purchased “as is”. We found them on our way back from the beach. There was this darling pecan farm that also had a gift shop and deli. We stopped for treats and couldn’t pass these up.

Aren’t these great messages to greet the girls every time they open their lockers?

Yes they are!!

{TWO} Spreading kindness through rocks

Speaking of rocking, kindness rocks are still on my agenda of life. The girls and I recently made a new batch and plan to keep making more this fall. Yay!

I painted all of the rocks a base color (using acrylic paint) and the girls decorated with designs and messages (using fine tip paint pens). I loved how this one turned out.

Avery had fun turning a few of them into critters.

Clara worked on this one. I love her twin popsicles.

PS. I love that this trend continues to grow across the country. I hope you’ll give it a try, if you haven’t already!

{THREE} Making not-to-do lists

{affiliate}

I was inspired by my Day Designer to create a list of things NOT to do. How liberating is that?

We’re encouraged to fill this list with things we would be better off eliminating from our daily routine. Things that have turned to habits that prevent us from accomplishing our to-dos and deplete our time and energy and affect our happiness and success. Not-to-do lists help us be more productive because…

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”

For example, my not-to-do list includes:

  • Check email before coffee in the morning
  • Sit for longer than 30 min at a time (this is a thing, y’all!)
  • Focus on my mistakes

What would yours include?

{FOUR} Chillin’ with my furry babies

Even through all of the busyness, I still make time to hang out with our pets. It’s so amazing how calming they are.

Rosie is our resident chubby bunny. We’ve had her for about five years now.

Leo is our two-yr-old mini Goldendoodle who looks like a forever puppy, because he’s a mini. He’s full of kisses – and energy!

{FIVE} Decorating for fall

Today is the first official day of fall! While I haven’t gone into full pumpkin mode just yet, I’ve started the transition into fall around the house.

Like on the front door. I pulled out my chalkboard sign, which is the perfect way to handle in-between seasons. The style doesn’t have to change, just update your message! >>

I’m excited to have some time next week to decorate the inside of the house – and maybe even get it smelling like the season.

I’m a fan of this cranberry woods candle because it’s not too sweet. I’m taking suggestions for a new fall fragrance this year. What’s your favorite?!

I hope you have a fantastic fall weekend. Excited to see you back next week.

Blessings,

-Kate

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Kindness Rocks + Finding Time “In Between”

Today’s post is inspired by a comment that Jenna @ Tractors and Glam shared with me on Friday. I had posted some fun project ideas for summer and included “playing with rocks.”

Jenna really liked the ideas and went on to explain that there’s a large group of people who are painting rocks and hiding them all around town, and that it has become huge in her community.

How cool is this? I was intrigued and started researching the idea.

Apparently this is a thing (and growing trend) across the country. There’s this article and this dedicated website to help us understand what it’s all about.

Essentially, the idea is to “spread inspiration and motivation for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.”

Here are some examples from the Kindness Project Facebook page:

Aren’t these lovely? And what a creative way to spread some joy around the world. Not to mention, it’s an inexpensive hobby. Rocks are free and you can find permanent markers and paints at pretty much any discount store.

I’m thinking about starting a group in my hometown.

If anyone has experience with this, please let me know what to do! I’d love your tips and tricks.

In the meantime, I created a board with lots of ideas for what to paint on my first set of rocks. {There’s no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest, I tell ya.}

I’m excited to get started. Now, where to find the time to do this?!

Part 2: “In-Betweening”

As a busy mom with a job, pets, and a blog, a small part of me is asking, “When the heck will you find time to start this new creative project, sister?”

I think I found the answer in a podcast by my super talented friend and co-worker, Jameson Sheppard. He recently started a podcast called Creative Common Ground.

In episode 4, around 12 min into the podcast, he talks about the idea of “in-betweening.”

He explains that when we step back and evaluate how we spend our time (all of it, including the time scrolling through Facebook and deciding which Netflix series we’ll binge next) we’ll discover we have more time than we realize.

Look at the time between things on our schedules and engage in a creative endeavor or hobby during those small moments.

Even if it’s 5-10 min. each time, it will add up over the course of a week or month or year. Heck, you could end up learning to play a guitar or writing a book during all of that “in-betweening.”

We just need to decide and set ourselves up with the right tools to make this easy. I plan to give this a try with my rock project, so wish me luck!

Feel free to listen to Jameson’s full explanation of the idea – and check out his other episodes. They’re only about 15 min each and worth every second.

Here’s to more time being creative + spreading kindness like confetti…and rocks!!

Blessings,

Kate

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Through The Eyes of a Child

I picked up my phone the other day to take pictures for the blog, and I found a slew of shots that I know I hadn’t taken. There were pics of our pets, stuffed animals, and silly faces of my kids. Someone had hijacked my phone, and I’m pretty sure it was one or both of my 11-year-old twin girls. {Maybe because of the selfies?}

Upon inquiry, the girls laughed and fessed up pretty quickly. Of course I didn’t get upset. The pictures were hilarious, and I loved seeing the world through their eyes.

I also loved the idea of turning this playful discovery into a creative exercise.

It’s a fairly simple one, too. >

Have your kids take your phone or camera for a few hours and let them snap away. Once they’re finished, take a moment to observe their choices, angles, and point of view. Then spot your lesson. What can you learn from their curiosity and exploration?

Here are a few lessons my girls taught me as I scrolled through my camera roll:

Don’t take life too seriously. Being silly is just plain fun. Especially when you’re making stink-eye emoji faces.

Trampoline hair don’t care. Jumping for joy is good for your spirit.

It’s good to stop and enjoy the small things in life, like the snuggle of a teddy bear…

Even if you’re a dog.

Some of the sweetest views of life are down low with the bunnies.

And at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than hangin’ with your twinsie.

This exercise kinda reminded me of a scene from Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams, who plays a quirky and lovable English teacher, stands up on his desk. He asks all of the boys in the class to do the same. Then he challenges them to see the world from a different point of view and form their own opinions. It was an iconic scene from the movie, and one that has always stuck with me.

So for today, let’s take the opportunity to see things from a different perspective…through the eyes of a child.

How can we impart this wisdom upon our next creative expression? Paint with the eyes of a child? Design with the simplicity of a grade schooler? Write from a place of innocence and vulnerability? Solve a problem through the basic understanding of fairness and love?

“Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is truly like seeing the magic of everything.”

Blessings,

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: A Few Good Finds

Hello, dear friends! Friday happened again. So that’s a good start to the weekend. I’ve been a busy little shopper, researcher and reader this week. Here are five of my favorite finds of the week:

{ONE} Party Goods

My twin girls are turning 11 years old!! We’re having a small party next weekend, so I’m in search-and-stock mode at the moment.

I found some adorable paper straws and cups at Walmart! I’ve never seen anything like this in their aisles, so I was pleasantly surprised to spot these finds.

The brand is Gartner Studios, which you can also find online. They must have designed a few product just for Walmart? Regardless, it’s all super cute stuff. Here’s a better look…

This shows the full kit, which comes with paper flowers and even some adhesive tabs so you can attach them right where you want.

We decided to sample one. You know, for research. Cheers! 😉

These snack cups are the perfect size for a large scoop of ice cream – maybe even served over a brownie. Mmm. I like where this is headed.

Look how cute these patterns and colors are?!

Oh, so I forgot to mention, the theme for the party is still yet to be determined. Just because A&C are identical twins doesn’t mean they always agree on everything. Sigh.

So far, we’re down to a unicorn-mermaid-fairy party. At least they’re somewhat related. You know, mythical creatures. You’ll have to check back next week to see where we landed.

{TWO} Teddy Bear Toast

You may remember how much my girls adore bears? In fact, last year’s party was a full on bearthday celebration. Maybe that’s what nudged me to make this sweet snack for them?

I can’t take total credit for this. I found the idea on Pinterest (where pretty much all great ideas are born.)

All it took was a piece of toast, nut butter, sliced bananas (using the tip of the banana for the nose) and three blueberries. It’s super easy – and everything actually tastes good together.

P.S. The plate is from my Pioneer Woman dinnerware set that B bought me for Christmas last year. Still loving them to pieces.

{THREE} Local Honey

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen this post about endangered bees. Yes, you read that right. Endangered bees – like the bumble kind that we need to pollinate our crops, which provide our food. There’s a species up in MN that’s considered nearly extinct. Sad face.

While the news is tragic, we can think of it this way: at least some of our bees are finally being protected. Also, there are things we can do to help the bee population near us.

First and foremost, we can buy local honey! I found this yummy treat at a local market.

Keeping beekeepers in business helps the overall population of bees. Plus, fresh, local honey just tastes better. Some people even say it helps with allergies.

Other things you can do? Grow a garden to invite bees to pollinate and populate, and limit the pesticides.

{FOUR} Tinted Lip Oil

I could spend hours in the beauty section of Walgreens. No joke. I love checking out new products, smelling all of the shampoos, sampling nail polish on my thumbnail (I hope that’s legal), and trying to determine the right shade of color to dye my relentless grays.

Today’s outing included the discovery of tinted lip oil. Check it out…

Just as the name implies, it’s a lightly tinted oil that you brush onto your lips. It’s basically lip gloss, but once I applied it (after I bought it) I think it’s more moisturizing than a gloss. It’s also not as shiny.

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to lip color. Side story: I wore bright red lipstick to a formal event one time, and it nearly made the kids cry. They thought I was a clown.

I went with the option closest to nude, called Caramel Cloud. It really doesn’t have much color, so I almost wish I picked something a tad darker. Here were my choices…

{FIVE} This Quote >>

So…I finally caught up on reading my current issue of Real Simple, and really loved this article by Marjorie Ingall that was titled, “How I Finally Tackled All of Those Half-Done Projects.”

This gem of a quote (above) was found in the article – and came from a life coach who tried to nudge Marjorie to completion.

I thought this was a fascinating way to think about time management. She’s essentially saying we need to strip away the stuff that doesn’t contribute to our happiness and purpose. When we do this, we can have a healthy schedule – one we love and can easily manage. Life doesn’t need to be so hard.

Then there’s this fantastic last line:

“A good motto and an ironic conclusion: Perhaps being a little more chill and self-forgiving about not getting more done could actually help me get more done.”

Here’s to taking it easy on ourselves.

XoXoXo,

-Kate

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Five Inspiring, Must-Have Books

{More great book quotes here!}

Welcome back! It’s another Friday, although it’s not a typical one with the Presidential inauguration on the schedule. It’s an important day for our nation, and I pray we can find ways to work together in the name of progress and peace.

One way I plan to generate peace in my personal life is to log off social media for a bit. I’m looking forward to a weekend of R&R with my family at Indian Hollow, my brother’s cabin on the creek. I also plan to add another “R” to my list – and that’s “reading.”

I’ve collected a small stack of books on my nightstand, and I can’t wait to dive in. I’ve started reading a little of each book, so I have an appreciation for what I’m about to learn. I’ve also noticed that this particular collection has me feeling energized. They’re all action-oriented and downright inspiring.

They’re the kind of books that light a fire in your belly and challenge you to do something, feel something, be something…and I wanted to share them with you. >>

{ONE} Leading Through The Turn

{You can buy it here.}

This is one of the most special books on my reading list now (and possibly forever). It’s written by Elise Mitchell, who is the founder of Mitchell Communications – among other fascinating and endearing roles.

Mitchell is the agency that led me to Northwest Arkansas, challenged me to build a creative department, and blessed me with lifelong memories and friendships.

While my role with the agency is different today, Mitchell is still very dear to me. And not just because my brother, Michael, was a partner with Elise in the business, but also because of the impactful work and unprecedented growth the agency achieved. I’ve never been part of such an inspiring business story like this before, and it was possible because of Elise.

Elise’s leadership, friendship, and unending inspiration is truly special. Anyone who meets her is immediately impressed with her energy, knowledge, and patience. She credits her accomplishments to her journey…and the willingness to crack open her heart and truly learn along the way. She believes the secret to enjoying life and succeeding in leadership is in how you navigate the inevitable twists and turns.

Her book guides future and current leaders along a path of meaning and significance, which is much more than achieving a title or dollar figure. If you’re looking for inspiration in your career and life, you need to read this book.

PS. Elise plans to connect with all of her readers, so sign up for her emails at elisemitchell.com!

{TWO} The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration

{You can buy it here.}

I first spotted this book at Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida last spring. I don’t know why I didn’t snag it at the time, but I do know it left an impression. When I saw it displayed on a front table at Barnes & Noble recently, I had to have it. The timing is perfect, too, because now I’m able to start it at the beginning of the year.

This book provides ideas for a year full of list making that’s designed to help us explore our interests, passions, and beliefs. I’m only a few weeks into the book, and this will be one that sits on my nightstand for a full year, so I’m excited to see where it leads me.

Here’s the book’s description on B&N:

“With perfectly timed prompts that meet you where you are throughout the different seasons, this journal will open up new avenues of self-knowledge and help you celebrate, enjoy, and take ownership of your life, as each week of the year becomes more thoughtful and vibrant.”

Let’s do this!

{THREE} Craving Connection

{You can buy it here.}

If you’re not familiar with the robust online community at (in)courage, you should definitely check it out. There are more than 24 women who contribute to this blog, and they discuss just about everything including faith, marriage, parenting, divorce, and death. It’s real life, shared among friends. And the big news for this community is they’ve published a book!

Craving Connection is now available for purchase. It’s a book of devotionals, scripture, and 30 specific challenges for connecting with God and others. Throughout the pages, the (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.

How could life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community? I hope to find out!

{FOUR} 10 Secrets for Success + Inner Peace

{You can buy it here.}

This book gets filed in the “oldie but goodie” category. My dad introduced me to Dr. Wayne Dyer many years ago. Since that time I think I’ve read most (if not all?) of his books.

Somehow this one, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, resurfaced on the side table in our living room. I think my husband pulled it off the bookshelf? It amazes me how books will literally show up when I need them most.

I took the magical appearance of this title to heart and started reading. The first chapter is about being open to everything and attached to nothing. In fact, it’s what inspired my word of the year: Open!

I have since moved the book to my nightstand and plan to keep reading and soaking in the much-needed wisdom.

{FIVE} Gratitude: A Journal

{You can buy it here.}

I realize this isn’t a juicy book to sit down and devour. It’s literally a blank book. But it’s quite possibly the most important one we could own.

Blank pages = hope and encouragement. It’s a reminder we have the power to write our future. It’s also a space where we can document our blessings.

This particular journal is dotted with inspiring quotes that help remind me no matter what experiences come my way, there’s always something to be thankful for. Gratitude is the the light and the way to a more meaningful and fulfilled life. And that’s something I could get used to.

Have a great weekend, dear friends. I hope you can squeeze in some time to rest, relax and read something that empowers your unique soul.

XoXoXo,

-Kate

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It’s a Leapin’ Good Day

Happy Leap Day! February 29th only shows up on our calendars every four years, just like the Summer Olympics and the presidential election, so it’s definitely a special day – and worth mentioning.

Why do we even have leap years?

I actually had to look this up, and here’s what I found. A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons. So there you go.

You could look at it as an inspiring day to get ourselves aligned…

You could also see it as an extra day in the year to do something awesome or different…

And if leap day itself wasn’t enough, this particular month is extra special for these reasons. February 2016 will have:

  • 4 Sundays
  • 4 Mondays
  • 4 Tuesdays
  • 4 Wednesdays
  • 4 Thursdays
  • 4 Fridays
  • 4 Saturdays

This happens once every 823 years. It obviously won’t happen again in our lifetime, which adds another level of uniqueness to the day. (A special thanks to my dad for sharing those stats with me!)

So…what’s everyone doing to honor the day?

I was curious and hopped over to Google to see what a search would pull up. Before I even typed a word, these precious bunnies hopped onto the screen…

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<3 I love Google’s doodles.

Then a quick search pulled up mostly images of leaping frogs, which is why I was so pleased with Google’s choice of bunnies – different and much cuter, IMO. There was also plenty of explanation about the reason for the day, which made me feel better about not knowing in the first place.

Next I headed over to my inbox. It was leaping with messages, and here are three that caught my attention:

From: Ebates

Today Ebates is offering double cash back on tons of retailers. If you haven’t joined Ebates, yet, this would be the time to leap to it. It’s a super easy way to get paid for shopping online at pretty much all of your favorite stores. For example, I bought some clothes for the girls at oldnavy.com and got 29% off in addition to 4% back in cash through Ebates! #winning

From: Blitsy

Blitsy, an adorable crafting site, let me know they’re offering 29¢ items throughout their site on this 29th day of February. And it’s cute stuff, too. Look at these cardboard die-cuts. I love the colors, and they’d be a fun addition to our spring break scrapbook. P.S. We head to the beach in three weeks!!

From: American Red Cross

American Red Cross sent a note suggesting we make a leap toward helping others. I thought this was an interesting request, and it made me stop and think about how I choose to spend the day. If we look at the day as a gift, are there ways to share and help make it a special day for others?

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How will you choose to spend this “extra” day?

Since it’s a Monday I’ll be at work, but I plan to squeeze in a few activities that are fun, adventurous and meaningful. I’d love to hear what you’ll be up to!

XOXO

-Kate

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