Tag Archives: blog

Away From Home

Hello, followers and friends!

Thoughtfully Sought has been neglected these past few months, as I started a full-time position outside of the home.  Being a full-time mom doesn’t change when you become a full-time employee.

This has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

SAHD

Although I am quite sad to miss out on my babies’ activities for much of the week, I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is trying quite hard to “fill my shoes” as a stay-at-home dad.

I keep telling him (and have to remind myself) that neither of us should be expecting him to do as I did when home with the children.  We are different people; we are going to pursue common goals differently.

Plus, his workload while home with the kids isn’t what mine was.

I worked on the house.  I was a mother as much as I was a cook and housekeeper and teacher.

The BHE just isn’t.  He is the driving force behind all the work that needs done on all of our properties.  Getting two houses ready for the market while doing upkeep on the third so it won’t be so much work when we go to move into it is much different than what was on my plate when the kids weren’t demanding 100% of me.

Still, this has been bumpy.  That’s parenthood.

And marriage.

Goals

The Murphy Momentum is the same.  We still want to get the little house done and on the market to be sold, so we can use the proceeds from that sale to fix the house at the farm.  When the farm house is ready for us to move in, we can finish the work on the big house to sell it.  And those proceeds will go into creating the farm itself.

The property is there; soon we must prepare it for animals and gardens and more.

My long-term goals have not changed since I began my job.  The steps I’m taking to get down this path are to be thought out differently, though.  Let’s not neglect the idea, either, that some of my loftier goals may need moved to the Dreams column on one of my ever-present spreadsheets.

Blogging

Sadly, this blog has been moved further down my priority list.  Spending time with my children, catching up on the housework that’s been neglected, and sleeping are really my top three just now.  I feel like I’ve fallen behind with my friends, too.  There’s just so much and it feels like it is all at once.  Even though I’m constantly thinking, “Hey, that would make a great blog topic,” I know that blogging is on my back burner.

Speaking of back burners, I’m losing my touch with creating new menu items.  I feel like it is more of a rush to get food on the table than before.  I have two new recipes to share with you, though, so stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought to learn how I make a super-fast Italian dinner for a weeknight and our family favorite Asian-inspired dish that changes every time I fix it.

Bear with me

I want to grow this blog.  I want my readership to grow.  I want to reach more people to help them discover their own paths through life and how to thoughtfully seek out the best steps to take towards their goals, be it with family, diet and weight, marriage and children, household, or faith.

Stick around.  I will do what I can when I can.

Make sure you’ve liked Thoughtfully Sought on Facebook and are following my path on Instagram.  You’ll find me on eBay and Etsy and Bloglovin’ and Twitter and Goodreads… and there’s more to come.

Thanks for your support.  God bless.

100 Blog Post Ideas!

This is my 100th blog post!

Thank you for following along on my Thoughtfully Sought path through life.  Sometimes the way is clear, other times the road is bumpy, and there are days where the path is washed out.  Thanks for sticking by me, reading and learning and maybe even growing with me.

 

So, for your pleasure, particularly if you are also a blogger, here are 100 ideas for blog posts (mainly based on what I’ve already done or have planned to do):

  1. RECIPES! Start snapping photos of what you’re up to in the kitchen.  Even the easiest stuff helps someone out there.  (Seriously, I once forgot to drain the water off the noodles when making macaroni and cheese.)  Here are some of  my top-visited recipes:  PancakesHoosier Caprese Salad, Beer Bread, and Chicken Pot Pie.
  2. Photo posts. Took a series of pictures while walking in the woods, playing with your kids, trying on clothes at the mall?  Share ‘em!
  3. Top 5 lists. Best Instagram accounts, worst parenting advice, favorite kids’ movies, date night ideas, and anything else you get excited about.
  4. Blogging tips. LOOK!  RIGHT HERE! THIS POST!  Hahahaha!
  5. Other bloggers. When in doubt, see what your friends are doing.  Most bloggers follow other blogs so make a list of your five favorite blogs then see what their last five posts were about.  You’ll get inspired AND you’ll have a Top 5 List for a blog post.
  6. Personal blurb. The “About Me” and “About Us” sections on a lot of blogs are very short and to the point.  Round out another point for your readers.
  7. FREE STUFF! Everyone loves a deal so explore something free in your area and blog away.  Make sure you take pictures.
  8. Cheap stuff! Again, everyone loves a deal.  Tell us about your coupon experiences or that deals website you found.
  9. Review products. What do you use in the bathroom?  The laundry room?  Why?
  10. Review services. Convince me why I should or shouldn’t pay for Amazon Prime or Grove Collaborative or that automatic diaper delivery.  I wrote one here about Kroger’s ClickList.
  11. Book review. Or movie or restaurant or whatever it is you really like to do.  I love to read so have linked my Goodreads account to my blog, so I can share what I’ve been spending my “free time” on as well as how I liked the books.
  12. Social Media. Tell your readers about your other accounts.
  13. Review social media you use. Write a whole post about what you do and do not like about Facebook or Instagram.
  14. Review social media you don’t use. Why is that LinkedIn account so hard to remember?  Does that networking really help people land jobs?
  15. Try a new one! My foray into SnapChat was a disaster.  I should’ve told my readers about it.
  16. Share your goals. You’ll not only motivate your readers but also feel like there’s someone holding you accountable.
  17. Technology.  We’re surrounded by it, we’re using it every day, and we are all looking for the “perfect” computer or phone or ereader.  If you are blogging, you obviously are using some THING to get your words out there.  Tell us about your laptop, your Internet provider, your local library’s wifi…
  18. Life lesson. You did something recently that you may think is mundane but is really a life lesson for all of us.  Check out my cleaning challenge post or my approach to Minimalism to get inspired.
  19. Vacation!  You finally got some time off and away so tell us about where you went, what you did, who you saw, and what you spent.  Really, we want pictures and to know what hidden gems you found in that town no one has heard of.  Or we can live vicariously through your beach pictures.
  20. Location.  Where do you blog from?  What’s going on around you as you talk to us?  How comfy is your chair or how loud is your barista or what do you do to keep your 10 month old from slapping the keys as you type?  No, really, I need to know.  He keeps trying to make the clackity noise with me.
  21. Pose a question. If you do this on Twitter, you can blog about the feedback.  Or blog about how you’ll get feedback next time.
  22. Quotes.  Tell me some words you live by or are inspired by.  Let your readers know who inspires you or what Biblical message fills you or why you lean on the words of your grandmother.
  23. Embarrass yourself. Seriously, we have all been there and done that.  If you want to connect with someone, tell them how human you are.
  24. Memory lane. It may be cathartic for you but it will also show your readership you are human.
  25. Positive from negative. Take a negative comment you’ve received on social media and flip it around; give the haters a taste of their own medicine but also show how you can put a positive spin on anything.  Or at least explain how taking the higher ground is so hard but ultimately more satisfying.
  26. Gratitude.  Write a thank you note to your readers.
  27. Oldies.  Revisit an old post.  You can rewrite it, add your current perspective, take newer and better photos, or trash it completely and tell your readers why it had to go.
  28. Seasons.  Write a post celebrating whatever season it is in your hemisphere.
  29. Weather.  Tell us what is has been like where you live and how you’ve been coping, whether it is super-hot and sunny but you don’t have a pool or it is super rainy but at least the hurricane went around you.
  30. Why.  Tell your readers why you started blogging and why you keep blogging.
  31. Future.  Write a letter to your future self.
  32. Past.  Write a letter to your past self.
  33. OOTD.  We want to see the face behind the words, and we want to see what you’re wearing.  I’m a SAHM who wears roughly the same thing every day.  I should show you my skirts, my breastfeeding tops, my stains and fingerprints, my love of cardigans… that shows a lot about me!
  34. Debate.  Pick a controversial topic and explain why you think and feel as you do.  Or take the route I did and explain why you don’t debate.
  35. Best posts. Compile a list of your most popular posts.
  36. Unpopular posts. Compile a list of your least popular posts and see if you can up your numbers.  Or if you need to do some housekeeping and delete those posts.
  37. Anthem.  What song gets you going?  What music inspires you?  What do you listen to when you need to calm your mind?  What is on your Pandora station?
  38. Hobbies.  You do more than blog so tell us about your other hobbies.  Here’s a little something I did about reenacting.
  39. Network.  There are people out there like you that are making money doing what they love.  Are you making bank?  Could you use a little extra?  Maybe you could use the help of your readers to land the perfect job.
  40. Presents.  There was a gift-giving occasion recently in your life, I just know it, so tell us what you bought or made and who you gave it to.  People like me really need help on this.
  41. Survey.  Conduct a poll or survey to better guide you on what to write next.  My posts are all over the place, from recipes and reenacting to child rearing and crafting.  Ask your readers what they want to see more of.
  42. Apps.  What do you use every day?  What apps are on your first home screen?  What apps got deleted within days?
  43. Profile.  You told us about yourself; now tell us about someone you care about or someone who inspires you or who you are voting for next election.
  44. Rant.  Get it out there!
  45. Diet.  What do you eat?  Why?
  46. Shopping.  Where do you buy what you eat, wear, decorate with?  Why?
  47. Open letter. Write something personal from you to a personal hero or new mothers or late show producers.
  48. Blogiversary.  Look here!  A post commemorating 100 blog posts.  Or do a post commemorating the age of your blog.  Or the number of “Likes” or “Followers” you have when you hit a milestone.
  49. Crafts.  Everyone is looking for a DIY they can do for cheap or fun or a gift or for recognition.  What did you create?
  50. Honor.  Write a post in honor of a holiday or Pi Day or Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  51. FAQ.  Pay attention to who asks you what and how often you get asked the same question.  I had so many people ask about how we handle our finances that I wrote a post about it and shared a spreadsheet.  But I bet I could come up with a post of FAQ regarding cloth diapers, rural life, and living so close to ALL of my in-laws.
  52. Printables.  Everyone loves free items they can download and use to make their lives easier.  Check out my grocery shopping helpers here and here.
  53. Interview.  You know someone influential, whether in your family, your community, your niche, or even more famous.  Write up your Q and A to spread their knowledge and influence.
  54. Pros and Cons. Pick a topic and do some research. Make a list of the pros and one of the cons, and you can generate interaction by asking your readers for their input.
  55. Before-and-After. This can be funny (your child before the first day of school and then after), a tutorial (your face before make-up and after), or inspiring (your pantry before you clean and organize then after).
  56. News.  Pay attention to multiple news sources and viewpoints, and research and write your own news article about something that matters to your blog’s readers.
  57. Case study. Switch internet providers, unplug everything when not in use, line dry your laundry, or go without television for a month, then share with your readers what differences you saw in your lifestyle, mental and physical health, monthly bills, etc.
  58. Stream-of-consciousness. This was a writing prompt idea that I did in various classes throughout junior high and high school.  Just write.  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, points, plots, or any of that.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Set a timer or give yourself a word/length limit. For your blog, just click “post” when you’re done.  Or add a selfie from while you were writing.  It gives readers a view inside your mind at the same time it will help you generate new blog ideas!
  59. Comfort zone. Make yourself uncomfortable by doing something no one would ever think you’d do:  try a different church, eat at a Thai/Indian/Russian restaurant, shop exclusively at the mission store, or strike up conversation with a random stranger every single time you enter a coffee shop or use public transit.  This could make for some really good stuff.
  60. Call them out. If you’ve got something going on in your life that is dragging you down or driving you crazy, call out the people who are involved.  Maybe don’t name them or point the finger, but at least share what you’re going through and how anyone who may think they are part of the problem can now see you’ve tossed the ball into their court.  This post did that in my life…and I didn’t mean for it to!
  61. Coloring book. Draw something fun and then take a picture to post on your blog.  Invite adults to release some stress by printing and coloring the image you drew.  If that means a cross with the sun’s rays or a flowery swear word, have at it.
  62. Recap.  Write a post about the posts you did the month before or during this month last year. Revive your old posts for new followers.
  63. Experiment.  Try something new, like go vegan for a week or shop at a grocery you’ve never been to, and tell us about your experience. Heck, drink 10 glasses of water a day for 10 days and blog about it.
  64. Hometown.  Give a shout out to the village that raised you, the place you grew up, the neighborhood where you learned to ride a bike.  Country music stars make millions off of this idea.
  65. Video.  Break out from behind the keyboard and get behind the camera to record yourself.
  66. Collaborate.  Contact other bloggers in your niche to learn what you can do together to generate more readers. Then blog about it.
  67. Host a giveaway. Note that you’ve contacted other bloggers, determine what each of you can contribute to give to your readers, the ones who will follow each blog for a chance to win something.
  68. Repeat.  Grab any of these items and do it again.  And again!
  69. Advice.  There’s something you want your audience to hear and think on, something you think all of us are falling short of, so throw caution to the wind and tell us how we ought to live our lives. Controversy will spark conversation.
  70. Implore.  Tell us why we need to get out and vote. Convince me the Paleo Diet is necessary for my health and that of the planet. Get readers to donate to a worthy cause…or their local libraries.
  71. Guests.  Invite your readers to submit guest posts, or share about a blog where you’ve posted as a guest.
  72. Share.  Ask your readers to share your blog, whether your tweets, photos, FB posts, whatever. If they like you, chances are, they know others who would like you, too.
  73. Bucket list. Think about accountability here: the more people who know what you really want to do before you die means the more people that can not only remind you of your goals but maybe help you see them come true.
  74. Birthday.  Wish yourself a happy birthday, and tell your audience what your boyfriend/kids/parents did or got for you. Or what you did for you.  You could include your dream birthday experience, too.
  75. Compile answers. Think of a question often asked in your industry or niche, and look up memes or quotes by famous people who have answered that question.
  76. Bad habits. Sure, I post about eating organic and using Seventh Generation cleaning products, but I should be more honest and open about my vices. Your readership would like something juicy about how you sneak in watching trashy television, how you only go to story time for the snacks, how you binged on the kids’ Halloween candy…
  77. Opposition.  Research an opposing viewpoint, some stance that contradicts how you think or live, and let your readers know what the differences are and where you can agree.
  78. Reply.  Go through all the comments you’ve ever received on your blog.  Copy them and reply to them in one big post.  Show your readers that you care, you’re listening, your blog is interactive.
  79. Plug-Ins. Share what you think are the best plug-ins for your blog.  You’ll help other bloggers or inspire newbies.
  80. Meme.  Create a meme about your current situation at work or home and share it with a short blurb.
  81. In memorial. Write a short bio of someone you’ve lost and what about them was so special to you.
  82. Hypothetical travel. Use the fantastic online world to discover more about a place you’ve always wanted to visit.  Then share with your readers a mock itinerary and ask if anyone has actually been there and can add to your post.
  83. Celebrities.  Who do you like to follow?  Who makes you roll your eyes?  Who do you think should have won an Oscar?  Share your views, tabloid style!
  84. A day in the life. From when you wake to when you lay your head down, walk us through your typical day.  Tell us what you want to change and what you hope to do every day of your life.
  85. TV.  You’re busy; we all are.  With everything you’ve got going on, you still make that one show a priority.  Why do you watch it?  What makes it worth the time you give it?
  86. Lotto winner. Go beyond your bucket list or your date night ideas.  Write the post about where in the world you would travel.  Now write a post about how it your life would be, where you would go, what you’d do with your time if you won the lotto.
  87. Go-to piece. There’s something in your wardrobe you always have, no matter the season or the occasion, no matter the cost, that you just have to have and know you can grab it whenever.  Tell your readers about that flashy scarf that dresses up any outfit or those jeans from college or that pair of earrings you haven’t taken off since you put them in.
  88. Local festival.  Attend a festival or fair near you and tell us about it.
  89. Get free stuff. Sign up for one of the hundreds of websites that want to give you stuff, like BzzAgent, or a survey site, like Inbox Dollars.  Write about your experience.
  90. Finding time. Tell us how you find time to write and edit your blog.
  91. Other writings. Let your readers in on what else you plan to share with them.
  92. Job vs Passion. So many people identify with their jobs just to turn around and say they don’t like what they do for a paycheck.  Imagine you meet someone at a party who asks, not what you do for a living, but what are you passionate about.  This idea is shared by the Minimalists.
  93. More coverage. What do you think there should be more mainstream coverage of:  influential teachers, sporting events with your favorite animal, the layout changes at your local supermarket?
  94. Downtime.  Let us know what you do to recharge.  Everyone is so overworked and we’re all looking for a calming outlet, so share what you do when you’re not blogging, not at work, not functioning as your kids’ short-order cook.
  95. Cleaning hacks. Housework is a necessity (unless you’re ok with hoarding and filth); you know you cut corners somewhere so admit it to your readers.  Maybe it isn’t even a cleaning hack!  My kitchen floors always look clean and shiny because of the type of ceramic tile we chose.
  96. Buyers’ remorse. This goes beyond the common review of an item you purchased.  Really let us know why you keep kicking yourself over that one buy.
  97. Worth the cost. Again, go beyond a review and share what amazing thing you’ve found that is so worth the price.  Free isn’t always better!
  98. Finding blogging ideas. This post was a struggle after about 74 items.  I should tell you where I found these last items.
  99. Build upon your village. There is some part of your life that you geek about, like a show, a clothing line, a character, a scent.  There are others around the world that geek the same thing, trust me, no matter how strange or uncommon you think it is.  Tell us your closet passion and gather the together the other freaks like you.
  100. 100 blog post ideas. Share your triumphs and pains after wracking your brain for 100 different ideas on what to blog about.

#WhyMommyDrinks

We are emptying the dishwasher on a Sunday afternoon.

2y9m:  Mommy, what this?

Me:  That’s a rubber cork.

2y9m:  It pur-pull.  What cork?

Me:  It is like a lid for a wine bottle.  Y’know, if you have extra wine.

2y9m:  What extra?

Me:  Y’know, I really don’t know.  I’ve heard of it but never seen it.  Like a hippogriff.

2y9m:  Hippagiff.  Harry Potter hippagiff?

Me:  Yep.  Now put the cork back in the drawer, please.

(Got ’em at Target!)*

 

*No, neither Target nor OXO gave me anything for that plug.  Just sayin’.  Not that kind of blogger.

My Current Season

I had a girlfriend over yesterday for a few hours.  She came along with her 7-week-old son and some much-needed adult conversation.  One thing that came up more than once is the hardship that is motherhood-in-isolation.  We agreed that for everything, there is a season, and this season is HARD.

For now, my season includes raising two children with a small, dispersed village.  My season means many hours without another adult.  My season doesn’t have excess funds for entertainment, extravagance, or even much travel to visit those in my proverbial village. My season is brightened by the joys of motherhood but dulled by the lack of regular adult interactions or even that mythical land of Alone Time.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

My Current Season as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

I have been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for almost 3 years now.  I left my job a whole month before Angel Baby was born.  Now I’m the mother of 2 and hold a Masters in Library Science.  I can list many accomplishments for these years:

I started a blog, made some crafts, fine-tuned my cooking skills, and learned how truly obsessive-compulsive I am about things like dishes and dust.

I also learned how hard it is to hold onto sanity when your main interactions with adults are limited to when your husband isn’t at work and those brief moments you’re in the check-out at the grocery.

This season feels like winter.

I am alone.  A lot.  Yet I am always with my children.  I crave adult interactions, yet find myself poorly prepared to interact with other adults.

My ability to converse is sorely stunted by my lack of real-world experiences.  Get me talking about potty training, toddler diets, issues with breastfeeding, the cost of diapers and milk storage bags, and how to use natural oils to cleanse your face, we are going to have a great conversation.  Want to discuss anything else?  I’ll either mutely blink at you or somehow turn the conversation about you and your husband house-hunting to how many stairs I do on laundry day*.

The Loss of Winter

The trees lose their leaves and the grass loses its green.  I, in my SAHM Winter, have lost friends and sleep.

I keep telling myself it is the season, though.  Those friends that I’ve lost touch with because I only knew them through our mutual efforts at work or through our mutual efforts to consume alcohol and stay out ’til dawn are merely a past season.  Spring will come again.  Those friends may return or they may just be leaves that have lost their color and tumbled away**.

There is a Season

One day, I will return to the workforce.  One day, our household will have an income that can support more frivolities.  One day, my children will be involved with sports and activities that will require more from the BHE and me.  One day, my children will have their own transportation and social lives to tend to.

I just have to remind myself that this isolation won’t last forever.  That the friends I no longer have things in common with will either still be there as support or will fade away entirely.  That the clothes I wear won’t always have elastic waists and smell like sour milk.  That the conversations I have will include more than the daily routines of me and my children.  That this is where I need to be now.

Where We All Are

One of my favorite inspirational writers, Sarah Mae, wrote that my time is coming, my chance to shine.  I should take a deep breath and explore the NOW of my life to live it fully.  She recommended that I stop thinking there are other things I could be doing and so much that I am missing and remember that this — this parenthood, cooking-cleaning marathon, home-bound life– is where I am meant to be now.  She says that God will guide me through my Seasons in life and to not lament the distance and losses that occur during my time as a SAHM.

My chance to be profound is not now, but it will happen.

 

*So sorry, Vicki.  I heard myself turning the conversation to be about myself and still was unable to stop myself.  I’m not losing it; I’ve lost it.

**Jesse, you’ll never be a leaf that loses its color.  You’ll always be vibrant, and one day, I will return to you as a friend that can consume alcohol until dawn.

 

SEASONAL BLESSINGS

Just a second

Right now, my kids are sleeping.  My almost-three-year old has been down for about 30 minutes, easily slipping into her nap since I woke her quite early to stuff her in a dress then into the car to sit and be told to be quiet at church.  (That is such a difficult thing for a tiny tot.  It is amazing what we expect of these new humans that are almost literally bursting with energy.)  My 5-month-old is resting peacefully in his swing that he has almost grown out of, the big chunky boy.  These moments aren’t really rare, thank God.  I get a good 20-40 minutes each day like this.

However, there are the days where I really could use more.  More like 20 hours, but maybe that’s asking an awful lot.

My joy

My children mean so much to me.  They are my little lights.  They are unexpected treasures and delights, sweet angels on this rough hell of Earth.

I find solace in their warmth and smells, comfort in the routines of feeding and clothing them, joy in their hugs and sounds and squeezes and messes.  I also find a ton of anguish in some of their behaviors and plenty of fear that I might not being doing this whole parenting thing right.

They see me at my ugliest.  They’ve seen my best, and they are most accustomed to my average and every-day.  But, dear Lord, they have seen the ugliest.

Reign it in

I just have to reign it in.

There is a lot of guilt, sure, when I lose my shit, but there is also a lot of hurt.  I hurt myself when I hurt them or let them see the ugliness within me.

My daughter is so forgiving, and I try to use that as my example.  She doesn’t harbor ill will or remember all the nastiness.  That is me; I’m the one holding onto the ugly side.  I want to be more like her.

Barely 3 and able to be a better Christian than me.  No wonder Jesus loves all the little children; they embody all that we ought to be:  smiling and joyful, energetic and inquisitive, forgiving and happy.

Not yet

There is always tomorrow.

I keep having to remind myself of that.  Not just “tomorrow” in the sense that after I get a handful of heavily interrupted hours of sleep tonight I get to wake up and try all over again at parenting and cooking and cleaning and listening and learning and teaching and driving and talking and so on.

Let’s look at “tomorrow” in the greater sense:  who I am today is not who I will always be.  The adversities I face today will not always be facing me.  The blessings I should be thankful for today will not necessarily be there tomorrow any more than the bullshit I am struggling through will always be bogging me down.

An author/blogger I enjoy is Sarah Mae.  She wrote (somewhere, please don’t ask me to quote) that we are given talents by God to use during the seasons He is presenting to us.

For instance, I enjoy writing and I am very good at it.  I am not plagued by self-doubt when it comes to writing any more than I am plagued by poor grammar.  I dream of writing a best-selling book or having many followers on my blog.  I want to write.

There are days where I kick myself for not writing, for not making larger steps towards seeing the completion of my book (or a blog post at the very least).  This anxiety builds up within me when I think that I’m getting older, my children are getting older, that if I want to have an income while staying home with my children, that I need to spend my time more wisely and work on my book/blog/et cetera with every single extra second that I have.

Then I remember to reign it in.  And take a deep breath.  Like Sarah Mae was saying, there is a season for everything.  God didn’t give me the gift of writing so I could spend sleepless nights beating myself up over not writing.  God gave me two healthy children and a very supportive husband as well as the gift of writing.

This, right now, is not my season for writing a book.  This is my season for being a mommy and a wife.  One day, my season for writing will begin.  Just like it may end.  Just like my season for teaching, my season for nursing, my season for being a better friend, happier daughter, wiser mother, or whatever… those seasons are coming.

Deep breath in…and…out

I just need to reign in the negativity, take a deep breath, and remind myself that what I am doing right now is precisely what I need to be doing right now.

That is my pat on my back.  That is my reminder that my life is not stagnant and what I’m dealing with right now won’t always be what I am dealing with.

Actually, that brings up another point:  what I *get* to deal with.  I keep lamenting about the things which I *have* to do:  I HAVE to do laundry, I HAVE to make dinner, I HAVE to put off sleep to take a shower, I HAVE to go to the grocery.

My goodness am I an ungrateful ass!

For real, these are things I *get* to do.  I GET to do laundry because not only do I have plenty of clothing and linens for myself and my family but also clean, running water and these fabulous machines that do most of the hard work for me.  I even GET to have the option of tossing everything into the dryer (and forgetting it for 3 days) or getting some exercise and fresh air by hanging it outside on the line.

These are blessings, not curses; these are choices I should be grateful for rather than chores I bitch about.  Sometimes, though, it is just so hard to see that difference between HAVE TO and GET TO.

I’m working on it.

 

 

6 Weeks Postpartum: The View from Out Here

It has been too long since I’ve written for you, my friends.  I think you have forgiven me, considering I gave birth, missed a holiday, spent some time in a NICU, had a birthday, tried to establish a routine with my tiny and my toddler, cut down a tree, decorated for Christmas, had four Christmases, and then missed the New Year because we were fighting so hard to stay awake and got sucked into a movie.  Yeah, the grand life of a SAHM with two under 3!

Six Weeks and My Brain is Full

Since the birth of our son, I keep thinking of these great blog post ideas:

    • My birth story, take 2

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    • Breastfeeding, pumping, and milk storage

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    • Handling a newborn while potty-training a toddler

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    • The trick to getting enough sleep
    • What life is like in the NICU

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    • Handling the holidays with a tiny and a toddler

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  • Handling the holidays when your in-laws live Right. On. Top. Of. You.

Since the birth of our son, I have found that when I do have time to write these awesome blog posts, I just don’t want to.  I want to snuggle with him and read a book.  And finally finish that second cup of coffee that I’ve reheated a bajillion times.
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New Year’s Resolution

I will come back to you, my readers.  I resolve to write more and nitpick my writing less.  I resolve to let it all out in effort to fulfill my promise when I started this blog:  to share what I’ve learned on my thoughtfully sought path through life in order to help others learn how they, too, can embrace all there is to offer while keeping healthy and sane.

I resolve to build this blog!

After I take a nap…

 

Redirecting My Path

A little introspection goes a long way.  Over the past 2 days, I’ve engaged in A LOT of introspection.  The first wave was a combination of discussing our finances right before bed and my third trimester insomnia; the second wave was the very next afternoon when I had almost 2 hours in the car with a sleeping Angel Baby after a really soul-baring discussion with one of my besties.

Considerable Brain Power

From time to time, I catch myself in these negative mental loops.  I have to kick myself out of them or I can get mired for days.  Since I am (currently) unable to get my foot all the way up to my head, I have these two questions I ask myself:

  1. Why don’t you put your considerable brain power to more productive use?
  2. Don’t you think prayer would be a more productive use of your time and energy?

I am going to share with you what went through my head as I demanded these questions of myself.  Usually, I am a much more private person and find it difficult to express these things to those close to me.  But what’s the point of running a blog called Thoughtfully Sought if I’m not showing you, my readers, what I’m thinking and how I’m seeking a better, healthier, happier path through life?

Just know, as we launch into my considerable yet ridiculous brain, that the two main topics of conversation between me and those nearest and dearest to me were in regards to Money and Faith.

Highlights from Yesterday’s Introspection

  • God asked us to be stewards of our money.
    • We must be smarter with our funds. What we earn is not as important as what we spend.  We need to be very conscious of where and how we spend the money that we have earned.
    • The money we earn is from our blessings: the BHE was blessed with the abilities to continue working for a good employer; I was blessed with the abilities to learn and earn advanced degrees for future employment.  Both of us are blessed with many, many fruitful abilities that can be put to gainful use.
    • My debts need paid off ASAP. The BHE doesn’t really have any, other than the mortgage we share.  The rest of what is owed?  Yeah, that’s all me, thanks to my credit card use and student loans.
  • I am like my brother, Jesus.
    • When thinking of my love and strengths as an exercise to discover gainful work as a SAHM, I realized that I am like Jesus and, therefore, have so much potential. He had a profound goal (saving our souls), a limited amount of time in which to achieve it, and a desire to use His strengths to reach as many as possible with no modern technology to assist Him.  Jesus was a teacher, a public speaker, someone who wanted to help others, someone who enjoyed being a host as well as a guest, someone who reached out to every one of His friends time and again, someone who could recognize His own faults and shortcomings and look for ways to build Himself stronger.  Is that not what I’m trying to do?  What I listed in my head as my loves and strengths were oh-so-similar to what we can list were Jesus’s.    And I have the Internet, multiple Facebook pages and a blog, Instagram, a PHONE to reach people.
    • I may not reach as many as He did in such a profound way, nor will I have such a lasting mark on all of humanity… but modern technology has given me such an opening to reach out and help others grow thoughtfully.
  • My number one loves are my family.
    • The two things I identified myself as, before blogger or librarian or student or teacher or cook or housekeeper: Mother and Wife.
    • But the other things I can identify as either roles I play well or skills I’ve developed in those rolls could be used to generate income to further support two main roles.
    • My family can benefit from my loves and strengths in reading, writing, editing, teaching, hosting, cooking, cleaning, bookkeeping, and so on. It is up to me to discover how to make these things work.
  • We each see The Light in our own way in our own time.
    • It may seem much brighter for others but that may be what they need. You may not see it so brightly because (a) you’ve been seeing it for longer or (b) you don’t need to see it so brightly just now.
    • Maybe what you need is to see how others see The Light and how they grow to understand your own depth or doubt of faith*.
  • It isn’t about discovering what God wants me to do. Stop asking, “What do you want from me?”  He made that clear already:  God wants me to be a good Christian.  It is up to me to discover how I am going to do that.
    • It isn’t about being the best/smartest/strongest/fastest/richest/cleanest/etc. It is about doing my best and being thankful that I can do it.
    • Be just, be right, be smart and kind in your actions. Life isn’t a competition.  Like one of my besties has said time and again**:  Empowered women empower women.  I want to take that a step further…If so, my place here isn’t to just show others how I walk down my thoughtfully sought out path; it is to empower others to search in themselves and be emboldened and empowered by my words and examples to walk their own paths.
    • God blessed me with many gifts. Now I need to put them to use.  Those uses, if I am seeking my path and being thoughtful in my empowering of others, will actually lead me back to my first point:  I will be a better steward of my money, as I will be earning and spending more thoughtfully.

What do you think?

*That was a paraphrase from my favorite Collective Soul song.

**Check out Abby at Back at Square Zero and her Instagram account.

Building a Village

One SAHM’s ambitions to bridge the gap in her path

For those of you who know me or my blog posts like this one and this one, you are aware that I am a pregnant (third trimester!) mother of a two-year-old and have chosen to not work during these formative years of her children’s lives.  You may know, as well, that we live in a tiny town in a rural county.  I have friends and family that I can call and count on*, yes, but there are so few near me that I feel I could rely on for any-and-every-thing.  I need a village.

Springboard

First off, the pregnancy hormones this time around are a bitch.  And they are making me a bitch.  A whiny, crying, resentful bitch stuck in her great big house in the great big Nowhere.  During my first pregnancy, I was still working so I had things like:

  • Double our current income
  • Daily interactions with other adults
  • No other children so more flexibility with my time

I feel stuck.  I feel distanced from everyone.  Not just the friends without children or with children who are more independent (re: older), but I feel like I’ve lost touch with so many just because I don’t have the time/money/energy… or they don’t want to deal with me, my toddler, and my stories of the SAHM life.

And don’t get me started on how the Mommy Wars  (and I’m not talking just about the battle regarding staying home or going back to work) have affected my relationships with those I thought were friends.

Second, I knew I needed to be proactive.  I’m the go-get-‘em girl.  I am the hostess with the mostess.  I have always been the one who pulls the wallflowers off the wall, adds in a few gregarious individuals, and mixes it up at my house.  I just keep feeling less and less inclined to do this.

Last, there was this blog post that was shared with me on Facebook from the online village I’ve been welcomed into.  Read it.

It Always Begins with a Book

For real.  For those of you who know me in the real world, you know how often I start sentences with  “This article I read…” and “In this book I got at the library…” and “I was reading about…”  For those of you who know me in the virtual world, you’ve probably picked up on my bibliophilia as well.

I read, consecutively, Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe and Getting Unstuck.  Without going into drawn-out reviews of these books, I can tell you they were part of the “springboard” as well.  I’m intelligent and insightful and have been known as a great problem-solver, but sometimes even the best (not saying I am the best!) need little reminders and pushes and small matches to lead to big explosions.  It was both heart-touching and mind-enlightening to read these and remember that I’m not alone AND I have skills and talents I need to be putting to work.

I need to not only come up with the answer to my question but to form the question in the first place.  I can’t mope around, being miserable because I feel so isolated.  I need to figure out why I feel isolated and what I’m going to do about it.

Let’s see:  I feel like I don’t have other women with children the ages of mine who also have similar interests as me that live near enough to me it won’t be a major hassle for us to get together.  I feel like I don’t have older women who have been-here-done-this to call on when I need someone to listen and (not try to cram advice down my throat) tell me I really will come out on the other side as a better, strong person with good, strong children.

My question:  WHERE ARE THE OTHER WOMEN!?

Um, duh, Sarah.  They’re all around you.  They aren’t moths to your flame, though, honey; they have their own lives they are tending to.  Just.  Like.  You.

It Takes a Village

Our mothers and their mothers and so on had whole communities they could rely on.  They lived close to their families and lived in towns and neighborhoods filled with other SAHMs.

Today’s world is so much different than just 15-20 years ago… and certainly not made up of communities like those in which my grandmothers raised their children.  I could wax poetic about technology and personal transportation and the need for many mothers to work out of the home.  But you know all that.  Or you’ve heard it.  Or you can just SEE it when you watch the kids climb off the bus near your house or watch the parade of cars lined up AFTER FIVE PM at the various daycares and after-school programs.

But it really does take more than just one woman to raise her children.  And it takes more than that woman’s husband (significant other, whatever) to build her up.  A village needs to be in place where she has other women LIKE HER to talk to and visit with and be around and work with to build up the other mothers in the area.

We can’t do it alone.  No matter how strong we are, no matter how independently we make it through each day, we still need each other on some level.  Women need women!

My Next Step

Well, first off, I’d like to stop crying.  I’d like to stop feeling like I have no one to turn to and that I’m doing this all on my own.  I want to stop having these little meltdowns every time it seems like no one has time for me.  I want to be just as proactive in other moms’ lives as I want them to be in mine.  I don’t want to feel alone any more.

Then, I want to give mad props to the women who did invite me into their village**… online.  One of my besties lives about 3 hours away and has a village.  (Yes, they DO exist!)  They communicate with each other IN PERSON as well as on the phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  They support each other and offer advice and vent about stressors and share websites with insight and recipes and funny memes regarding life as a mother.  And I was welcomed into their private Facebook group.  Again, these lovely ladies are three hours away.

What I need is someone RIGHT NEXT DOOR. OK, maybe not that close.  But close enough that if they need me to bring over some bitchin’ brownies in the middle of the morning or I need one of them to take Angel Baby long enough to let me get my hair cut (it’s been over a year and it is obvious), then we can do that for one another.  Or heck, just meet up in someone’s kitchen while the kids play in the next room and everyone is ok eating with their fingers, sitting in yoga pants, and ignoring the piles of laundry (clean or dirty, I’ll ignore it for you).

That’s my next step:  building a local village.  I’m going to talk to the ladies that bring their kids to story time beyond introducing our children*** and I’m going to call the women whose numbers I have had the backbone to get and I’m going to build up other women the way I need built.

My Approach

I think I’ll start with the Facebook idea, actually.  See, our generation had Stranger Danger beaten into us as children and then were gifted modern communication technology like chat rooms and cell phones when we hit college.  We haven’t had to interact with strangers.  Sure, classmates and coworkers were strangers that we had to interact with (and I have some really good long-term friends who are former coworkers).  But those were not social situations like story time or the line at the grocery or the benches at the park.

I have actually tried to approach other moms to have them quickly smile then look at their phones as I got closer.  Seriously.  This avoidance tactic is very obvious, ladies, and it will get us no where.  So I’m going to be the awkward one and insist you freaking meet me.  In the meantime, I will start small and local and online.  You can get to know me that way and see if you want to spend face time with me.

If you live near me, and I hope some locals are reading my blog, then expect me to be a little more OUT THERE in the near future.  And look for the group invite on Facebook.  It is my first step.  There will be more.

Oh, yes.

There will be more.

Q-and-A

That stands for “queries and advice” rather than “questions and answers”.  What are your thoughts on my approach?  What are the steps you have taken to reach out?  Have other moms reached out to you?  Are you open to this idea?  What’s it worth to you?  Who is your village?  And can I join it?

*Honestly, more days than not, I feel like I’m so alone and that these friends and family AREN’T there for me and CAN’T be counted on.  And the mood I’m in today, I’m not going to get started on how many times I’ve called or texted or Facebook-messaged to get nada in return.  It wears me down and the tears start flowing again.

**Really, these are great women that I have a lot in common with.  It isn’t just that we are moms to young children or SAHMs or that kind of basic connection.  These women are strong, independent, intelligent, and “crunchy”… just like me.  Sadly, they just live too far away to really be MY village.  They are A village that I can talk to but it just isn’t the same.  And yes, I have made the drive out there to meet them in person.

***Seriously.  I think we’re all guilty of this.  We introduce our kids by name and age and then completely forget that we are the adults and we are more than just their caretakers.  Last week, I met a lovely woman who had a two year old girl AND was pregnant AND due the same week as me.  We told each other this information yet still managed to not introduce OURSELVES.  I never got her name!  WTF!  I hope she’s there next week so I can rectify this dreadful oversight.