Tag Archives: family

Vehicular Therapy

Something new to me is the peace that comes from the solitude found during a morning commute.

Before kids, I would wake at the last possible minute before dashing through my morning routine and flying out the door and down the road to work.

Four years as a SAHM meant no silence in the car, never a true chance to let my thoughts flow and truly listen to what my body and mind were telling me.

Sure, there were times when I could do some introspection, which lead to one of my best posts of all time.

Sure, I could listen to my audiobooks while the kids entertained themselves in the backseat.

Yes, there were chances to talk with other adults on the phone while I drove.

But to truly seek yourself every morning takes either discipline or forced solitude.  Like my morning commute.

Eight Weeks of Intensive Therapy

I have been at my “new” job for a little over two months.  Since we live in the middle of nowhere, I have a minimum of 35 minutes in the car each morning.

I’ve been training myself to select the day’s outfit and pack my lunch the night before plus set my alarm to give me plenty of time to bathe, dress, paint and coif, eat, and possibly care for a small child that woke too soon.  Most mornings, I am beyond blessed to get out the door without the kids waking and seeing me off.

Any parent who has walked away from a crying child with the guilt of “I’m putting my paycheck before you, little one” knows what it means to leave before they’re even awake.

I take my time because I’ve gifted myself that time.  I climb into my little four-door, four-cylinder car, pull out of the driveway, and get my mind into the zone.  No music or audio books.  No rush where I have anger or panic to focus on.  No one in the car to watch me as I silently run through a gamut of emotions because I’m mentally pulling apart the past few years of my life.

Or, some days, my whole life.

I spend roughly 30 minutes every morning picking through my experiences, thoughts, and emotions like I’m untangling a knot of metal chains that have rusted together.

I practice deep breathing and different levels of prayer and meditation.

I am working on picking myself back up, one mile at a time.

Underrated

One day, taking a long lunch away from my desk and picking up a dear friend from her nearby work, I confessed to her what I had been doing.  It was pouring rain and we had a slightly rushed lunch in a loud, packed Panera.  As we sat in her work’s parking lot, I told her that I had been working through some of my issues during my morning commutes.

She nodded emphatically.  She said she knew what I was talking about, knew how critical that alone time is for her in her busy life.  She agreed with me that vehicular therapy is underrated.

That is why I’m sharing it with you.  You need to know this.  You, who get up in the morning (or evening) to go to work, to spend time away from family and home and friends and an ever-growing to-do list; you, who find yourself wound up and bent out of shape before you make it to your lunch break; you, who wonders what more is there to life or if there’s something wrong with you or why can’t I find the perfect job, perfect car, perfect friend, perfect lover.

You, my dear reader, need to know what a blessing your commute time is.  This is your chance to truly be by yourself and look narrow and deep or wide and shallow at your life, your behaviors, your future.

Embrace your vehicular therapy time.

Personally

I’m working through a year’s worth of grief.  I’m working through a lifetime of pain cause by my mother and almost a decade of issues with my mother-in-law.  I’m working through the drama and bullshit that came about after a lying liar lied about me…and was believed.  I’m working through long-term goals and what my hang ups are.  I’m working through marital issues, mommy guilt, crises in faith, and so much more.

I recommend you do the same.

Because I feel more on the level now than I have in a very long time, even though to an outsider it may look like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Personally, I will tell everyone I encounter about the joys and blessings that come from 30 minutes of silent introspection at least 5 days a week.

Thoughtful Thursday: This Far on the Path

Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?
-1 Chronicles 17:16

This is a question I ask myself time and again.  It helps to not only keep my life in perspective when compared to others on this earth, but it also helps keep my vision and praise trained on God.

Who Am I?

Truly, I am a wife and mother of two.  That description alone makes me one of the most blessed people on earth.  That my husband is The BHE and my children are healthy and bright just sweetens the deal.

I am a home-owner, gainfully employed, intelligent and educated, and driven to excel.  What gifts those are!

My friends are many and easily contacted.  My family is spread wide with experiences to share.  My neighbors aren’t the friendliest but I do live in a relatively peaceful, non-violent town.  Thinking about all the places I could have been born, all the places I could have ended up, and all the scary things in the world my friends and family have seen, I am exceedingly blessed to live where I choose and in an area safe to raise my family.

I am organized and thrifty, I am physically and mentally strong and healthy, I am clean and friendly.  Who I am is in itself a phenomenal gift.

O Lord God

It is to Him that I give thanks and praise.  God provided all of this, from my first breath to every one after that, from the roof over my head to the thoughts in it, from the food in my belly and the clothes on my back.  This is God’s work.  How truly AWE-some is that!

The Almighty has created so much that it cannot even be fathomed, and even more unfathomable to me is that He chose to bless me with so much, both here on earth and the gifts He promises in the afterlife.

The Lord is my shepherd and I do not want, and for that I must never forget to thank Him.  Even during the difficult times, I have always had shelter and sustenance, people to rely on, and my own mind to depend on to think my way through.  These are all things which God granted me, without my even asking, without expecting praise in return.

Too often, the simple things in life are taken for granted and that leads to even the more complex things being taken for granted.  How often has it chafed you in your life to be taken for granted by someone?  Now imagine if you were brought out of poverty and destitution, starvation and uncleanliness, from a place of no potable water and surrounded by violence and fear…and you were brought into my life, where my family has more vehicles than drivers, more houses than we know what to do with, potable water at the lift of a lever, lights and fans and the Internet at the flip of a switch, constantly accessible food in the refrigerator and pantry.

O Lord God, I should drop to my knees now to thank You profusely.

And What Is My Family

To me, my husband and children are very special people, my everything.  We love one another and care for each other.  But what is my family to our town, our society, the world?  And what are we to God the Almighty?

My family is my everything.  Even broadening the description to cover all relatives, in-laws, friends, and co-workers, my connections to those around me mean more to me than any possession.  If my house were to burn down tonight, I would wake the BHE to help grab our children and cat plus the photos of me with my grandparents and him with his dad before running out the door.  If I managed to have my phone on me, I would call my dad, our friends, someone we know to come help us and provide shelter for the night.  I know how blessed I am to have such a vast network of people to call my family.

What are we to God, though?  We are all His children, His flock, even those who don’t know or have chosen not to follow the footsteps of His Son.  It is singularly amazing that of all the creatures on the planet, God chose us to be special and rule the beasts and tame the waters and receive more of His blessings each day.

This Far

On this, I go back to the first point of who I am.  I am not just intelligent but have an education and the means to further my knowledge, like access to libraries and the financial steadiness to have regular Internet access in my home.  I am not just healthy but have the opportunities to visit doctors and grocery stores where I can purchase the best foods for my body and mind.  I am not just sheltered in my home but actually have three freaking houses on nice properties that are full of comfortable, clean, and sturdy furnishings and can have the temperatures regulated at the press of a button.

THIS IS HOW FAR I have climbed with my two hands and the grace of God.  THIS IS HOW FAR the Lord has brought me.  THIS IS HOW FAR my family has come from humble beginnings and days of fear and uncertainty.  THIS IS HOW FAR God has brought us with promises of much more to come.

For that, I will give thanks and praise.  For that, I will focus on this verse when I become enmeshed in the anxieties that come with weakness and an unclear view of the future.  For that, I will try to keep in perspective that I am so unbelievably blessed.

A recent gem from my Devotional app.


When I lose sight of the path, I will seek His Word to remind me how far we have come.  Gratitude and perspective, folks.

What helps you see the beauty of how far you’ve come on your path?

Thoughtful Thursday: The Lord Hates

I find solace in this as well as a chance for introspection.  See, this one used to be such a finger-pointer for me.  I can see so easily in others when they do the seven things the Lord hates.

There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
-Proverbs 6:16-19

But I am guilty, too.

I have looked down on others, put myself above them with my education or morals or work ethic. I have told fibs, which I may believe to be harmless but could possibly hurt others.  I do not consider myself a liar and hold quite tightly to the belief that I am one of the most honest people, even to a fault, that I know.  Which takes us back up to the first point.  While I have never committed murder with my hands, I have hated in my heart, which Christ said was another way to kill someone.  Isn’t that a freaking eye-opener! I am not a vengeful person.  I do not plan revenge.  I do not race to do wrong but there are times where I should have raced to do good.  I should not stand back as often as I do and wait to witness the falling out of those who plot evil.  I do not lie nor have I slandered, but I have been a victim of such and know how it feels, how it hurts.  When discord was sown in my family, I am guilty of not pulling everyone together to put an end to it.

Introspection hurts, folks.  What are you thinking on this Thoughtful Thursday in Lent?

I can tell you that the main reason this is one of my favorite passages is that I find solace in knowing that behaviors from others which hurt me so deeply are behaviors that God abhors.  I do not need to seek revenge.  I do not need to lash out against those who sow discord, lie, plot evil, find joy in causing drama and dissension, or even commit murder.

Want to know why?

Because the Greatest Judge takes umbrage with these as well and He will take care of all His people as He sees fit.

So part of me is a bit vindictive when I say that whether in this life or the next, the evil will get their due.  But mainly, I know that God put these people in my path to teach me something, about the world or about myself.  I do not claim to fathom His goals and intentions beyond expecting me at my best, seeing me at my worst, and empowering me to empower others.  And to lead, when I can, the haughty and the liars and the family members seeking to cause harm, away from that which the Lord hates.

What verse helps you stand up straight in the face of those who would drag you down?

Embarking on a New Path

One beautiful aspect of this life is that there are no constants. 

Now, for a control freak like me, that concept is always first handled with trepidation.

But when I remember that life isn’t stagnant, that change is necessary for growth and to reach goals, I feel emboldened and blessed as I take the first tentative steps on the new path I see before me.

Independence

The BHE and I are both very intelligent and fiercely independent people.  We both would love nothing more than to live off the grid and thrive on our own efforts and ingenuity.

However, living in this time and place, and having been raised the way we were, we both cling to a few ideas of the modern, connected world.  Like health insurance, adult conversation, and the Internet.  I for one would like to know I have a steady income that includes benefits from a company, at least until my children are a bit more mature.  And our farm is functioning independently.

With independence comes greater responsibility, especially for oneself.  When you are beholden to none, you are more so beholden to yourself and your God.  I care not for the judgement of my peers but rather His view on the quality of my stewardship of His earth and gifts.

So the BHE and I have been talking about our options and alternatives.  I am a SAHM who would love to be a WAHM so, by golly, I gotta be independent and forge a new way.

Please, Lord, show me the next path I must thoughtfully walk upon.

Financial Independence

The goal here is to provide for ourselves, our children, our families, and our friends without depending too much on other people.  Reciprocity is the name of the game, rather than being borrowers to lenders, as that never ends well.*

For now, though, we do have a mortgage(s) and car loan (please don’t get me started on my student loans) and two small children.  We must be smart about our steps towards our end goals.  Which is why the BHE returns to work each day.  Which is why I have begun searching out ways to both save and earn.

If I do not have a steady income as a stay-at-home mom, the least I can do is be a good steward of the money we have been blessed with and use the considerable brain power God gave me to come up with new ways to work towards financial independence.

Saving

I’m known for my budgeting and my coupon-clipping and my bill pay spreadsheets… and my penny-pinching.  I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I am a tight wad.  For all the hosting I’ve done, I can tell you I have upset a few guests in the past with how tight I hold my fist.

I found some new ways to save, and I plan on writing up my reviews of the apps that are helping me do so.  In fact, a couple of the apps are more than Saving; they cross the line into Making.  It is pretty cool.

If you want to get started on your own, I am using:

Checkout 51
Flipp
Coupons
Ibotta
Every Dollar
MobiSave
Walmart’s Savings Catcher
Target’s Cartwheel
And Payless’s (Kroger) digital coupons

Making

I decided to take it one step further.  Part of my approach to minimalism has been selling as well as donating and trashing the things we don’t need or want.  Now, after the passing of my beloved father-in-law and the subsequent inheritance of all of his shit crap garbage hoarded stuff belongings, we have a major inventory with which to work.  Antiques and collectibles, unopened boxes of supplies and tools, decorative items that have no place in our home, clothing and accessories that fit no one we know… the list goes on.

Thank God for the Internet!**  I have opened both an eBay shop and an Etsy shop as well as have posted items on all Craigslist sites that cover areas within an hour drive of me.  Also, if you didn’t know this, go take a peek at what’s around you in terms of Facebook pages labeled “yard sale” or “ rummage” or “swap”.

Here are some items I have up for sale:

blade.jpgashtraycoke-case

 

Here is the link to my eBay store, DeichMileFeirme, and my Etsy shop, Thoughtfully Sought.

Branding

While you’re online, reading this post and checking out my shops and the various apps I mentioned above, go ahead and check me out in the other corners from which I shine.  See the fun, colorful, crazy, thoughtfully sought path we are treading on my Instagram account.my Instagram account.  Find out what inspires me and what my big project ideas are on my Pinterest account.  Go crazy and LIKE my Facebook page.

If you’re trying to make a little extra on the side (and I do mean a little), start stretching your touch to various parts on the Internet.  There’s so much out there, and what goes around comes around. ***

How have you earned a little extra lately? 

What was the big-ticket item you last saved a ton on? 

If you were going to brag about how little you spent at the grocery, how would you explain how you did it?

 

*Proverbs 22:7 – The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

**Seriously, I think I say that twenty times a day, if not more.

***Hebrews 13:15&16 – Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

The 5 Best Pieces of Parenting Advice I Can Give

My last blog post was a couple months ago and on the negative side.  This will be my first blog post of the New Year; I’m going to write something positive.

In the last post, I listed off the 5 Worst Pieces of Parenting Advice I have ever received.  Now I’m going to share with you the 5 Best Pieces of Parenting Advice that I have received as well as what I’ve discovered along the way.

Take these with a grain of salt.  Or as gospel.  This whole parenting thing is different for all of us.  So here goes…

#1.  There is no such thing as the “right time” when it comes to having kids.

The BHE and I were asked when we were going to start our family before we were even married.  I know, I know: this is an acceptable thing in our society.  But for us it was not part of the plan.  We had a Grand Master Plan.  We had our goals and our priorities and we just knew when the right time would be for us to get pregnant.

Oh, boy.

First off, folks, I can tell you from experience that just because you decided you wanted to get pregnant/have a child by such-n-such a date DOES NOT MEAN your bodies will cooperate.  Seriously.  This is out of your hands.

We tried for a couple years after deciding it was the “right time” and my heart broke month after month.  We have friends who tried for much longer, some without any success, and others with the kind of success that led to great loss.

There isn’t a “perfect” time to have children.  Your house, your career, your finances, your car, your whatever will never be perfectly aligned in reality the way you think you want them to be before you have children.

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Just a few weeks before the Angel was born, here I am working in the empty nursery, painted yet not ready for a baby!

If you know you want kids, take comfort in knowing that no matter when or how they come, you’ll handle it like a champ.  No matter if your car isn’t a brand-new minivan or if the nursery never got a fresh coat of paint or you’re still at that job you hate.  Parenthood is a whole new ballgame; roll with it.

#2.  But it is all about the timing.

No, seriously, watch the clock and the calendar.  Timing is everything.

During pregnancy, you’ll be seeing an OB or midwife monthly then weekly.  You’ll be asked about when you had your last period, when you last peed, when you first felt movement, what frequency you felt movement, and on and on.

During labor, you’ll be timing contractions and counting breaths.  Make sure there is a clock in the room where you deliver your baby.  The wall clock in the delivery room during the birth of my son was broken, so I had no idea what time of day or night it was, no concept of how long I had truly been going at it, no idea until after the fact that I had been laboring for 29 ½ hours with over 3 hours of pushing.  No idea.  None.

TWENTY-NINE AND A HALF HOURS!

During early infancy, you’ll be tracking the times spent feeding, how many ounces or minutes, when was the last bowel movement, and more.

During the early days of solid foods, you will have to count the ounces as well as days since you introduced a new food.  And you’ll be counting more dirty diapers.

During toddlerhood, you will need to watch the clock to keep track of when your tot got out of bed, when was breakfast, how soon is snack, when you need to feed them lunch so you can get them into a timely nap, how long was the nap, how long after the nap until bedtime, how long between dinner and bedtime…

And you think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  Watch the clock.  It is the best way to avoid meltdowns induced by lack of food or sleep.  Because, really, the wee beasties need copious amount of both if you expect them to be angels.

A schedule helps them as well as you.  There’s advice all over the place, from your pediatrician to this lifestyle blog, about how children need a regimen to maintain equilibrium and how parents need their children to have a regimen to maintain sanity.

#3.  When in doubt, present food.

If your child is crying, check for these things:

  • Is he/she hurt?
  • Is the diaper dirty?
  • Is he/she tired?
  • Is he/she hungry?

If your darling angel isn’t hurt, has a dry diaper, just woke from a nap, and just ate, feed him or her again.  For real.  Present more food or another bottle or your breast.  Feed them.

My son cried way more than my daughter did during his first year.  It feels like he was constantly wailing about something.  He also was the size of a two year old at his 9 month check-up.  He’s a beast.  What I didn’t understand in the first 6 months or so was that he was screaming like he was hungry even when he just ate because he was already hungry again.  He never wanted to stop eating.

 

Now that he’s one, my son wants a snack cup in his hand as soon as he exits his high chair after breakfast.  For real.  Feed him.  And then feed him again.  When all else fails, feed him.

#4.  Have a canned response that you have practiced delivering without emotion to anyone who dispenses unsolicited advice.

I learned this one from a good friend who chose a very non-traditional route for becoming a mother.  We had a lunch date where I asked her the questions I felt she would receive throughout her child’s life; she told me she had a response ready to cover most of them.  For the ones she wasn’t prepared for, she just wouldn’t answer.

Boom.  Done.  Response is ready, no matter the circumstance.

So I thought this should apply to all new parents.  We all know we will hear things in our lives that upset us or irk us or get under our skin and fester.  What better way to save yourself some strife than to have a reply ready!  It doesn’t have to be snarky; in fact, it shouldn’t be.  It should be an unemotional, canned response.

Try this:  That’s interesting.  Thanks for sharing.

Or:  Great!  I bet that works for a lot of people.

Even:  You are very considerate to share that with me.

I highly suggest avoiding anything that is open-ended or could lead to further discussion.  Unless you really, really want to know/be upset/upset the other person.  Just have a one-liner ready to roll out and then walk away or change the subject.

There are a million other topics you can get into an argument about.  Try politics.  Or religion.  Walk away from parenting advice that makes you shudder.

#5:  You need a village.  If you don’t have one, start building one.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a network of people you trust and can count on for anything in your parenting adventure.  You will need a shoulder to cry on, someone to watch the kids in an emergency, a person you can count on to come over with wine but without judgement, a mother-figure for you, grandparent figures for your kids, someone whose advice you can count on, other mothers and fathers at the same stage of parenting, other mothers and fathers further along or even further behind… you need people who get you as well as get this whole parenting gig.

I don’t feel like I had a village for most of these first years of my journey as a mother.  Too many people have come and gone, for one.  Also, I live in the middle of nowhere, a good hour from any member of my family, more than a half hour from most of my friends and former coworkers, forty-odd minutes from any major place for groceries or shopping… seriously, if it weren’t for two libraries within twenty minutes of us, my weeks would crawl by.  I have church on Sundays and three story times a week to look forward to.

People need a community in which to thrive.  We cannot go it alone.  Life isn’t designed that way.  We are commune creatures, to a point.  If you want to fight off baby blues or the more sinister postpartum depression, keep your dears very near.

My advice here, to tag onto this most important piece, is to start with the free things and go from there.  Your family and friends, right now, are free.  Call them, invite them over, make plans, whatever:  keep them in the loop and keep them close.  Then look up other free things to make new friends, to meet other parents, to be around those with kids the same ages as yours; try local libraries and parks, your church, a zoo, a mall playground.  Go to places you would normally go, though, instead of forcing yourself into awkward situations that may repel you from great people.  Someday I’ll write a post about being the odd one out at a mommy group full of women who could not believe I had driven almost 3 hours to be present.

Having children will isolate you from people you never expected to lose.  It will also introduce you to people you once never noticed or maybe even looked sideways at.  Be open-minded and recognize that it takes a village not just to raise a child but to support the parents.  We are human; we are not meant to go it alone.

Parenthood is amazing and eye-opening. Your heart will be full to bursting with love and pride.  Parenthood is really freaking hard.  Your body will be drained, your eyes will be burning, you will lose your mind from time to time, and you will need support.  It can be so isolating and exhausting as well as exhilarating and network-building, what with all the story times and preschool functions.

A village gift

You really do need a village.

Won’t you be part of mine?

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.

A Thought on Sevens

From a previous post:

The number 7 wasn’t arbitrarily chosen, either.  It is a number that is quite significant in the Bible.  I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into our lifestyle and these changes.

I feel that saying “five more minutes” or “ten Things” or “30 until dinner is ready” has reduced certain numbers to meaninglessness.  You can say something  will take you five minutes, like that’s how long you have until you walk out the door, but that time allotment has lost some meaning from overuse and could be a span from three minutes to 15.

Seven takes some thought.

Seven seems just so exact.  You obviously aren’t rounding or suggesting a number in the ballpark of…but you mean precisely seven.  Or a multiple of seven.

I decided to place this thought elsewhere on our path.  I decided to make a list of projects around the house that could be done in 7 minutes, or in a multiple of 7, for those times where you know you could be productive but don’t know where to start.

So Many Starting Points

We live in a 115-year-old+ house.  When we bought it, it was in definite need of major work.  We worked on it for 6 months before we moved into it.  That was 6 years ago and this little dream of ours has a ways to go before it is “ready.”

However, having two little ones plus the BHE working 55+ hours a week during two seasons a year, it is hard to find large blocks of time to get work done.  We have to break things down into bite-sized pieces if we want to make any progress.

That’s where I came up with the List of Sevens:  a large piece of craft paper, tacked to the wall, with different tasks listed under 7 Minutes, 14 Minutes, 21 Minutes, and 28 Minutes.  (Any project that takes more than a half hour needs to be better prepared for.)

Do It

This list is meant to be a quick reference during those times where we know we can do SOMETHING before dinner, naptime, baths, or whatever is coming our way in our routine.  If it is 5 o’clock and I know I need to start making dinner around 5:30 but I don’t have any other pressing thing to be working on, I can peek at the list where it is posted in our pantry to see what I can do.

Sure, we all know there’s a load of laundry ready to be started or a dishwasher that could be emptied.  But those are daily chores that will get done.  I’m talking about the things we don’t necessarily think of until we are struggling to fall asleep and that little annoying lightbulb comes on in our heads to say, “DING!  YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS INSTEAD!”

Clean a ceiling fan. Mop the bathroom.  Wipe out the fridge.

Organize the supplies to start painting the upstairs hallway.

Put away laundry.  Scrub the cabinet doors.  Pick 7 DVDs to donate.

Gather all the trash and recycling, and load the bags into the truck.

Write a ‘thank you’ card.  Clean out a file in the cabinet.  Throw away last month’s receipts.

Take inventory of the basement and make a list of what tools we need to buy for the next big project.

One Bite at a Time

What I’ve learned in our approach to a minimalist lifestyle is to break down everything into bites that we can chew in the time we have.

For the bigger tasks and projects, when we do find ourselves with a whole day or even a whole weekend to get some work done, we need to be ready to roll into those projects rather than wasting precious time gathering the tools, discovering we don’t have all the supplies, and making an extra trip to town to go to the store.

What I have also learned is that the more Stuff we remove, the less clutter we deal with in the physical sense, means we have fewer Things in our way on our thoughtfully sought path to creating a cleaner and happier home.  Without stumbling over boxes in the attic or having to move furniture we don’t need just to work on the house we love, we can get more work done and are that much closer to our goals.

Our long-term goals will not be achieved when we are inundated with unwanted work.

Our tasks that lead to completed projects will be finished more efficiently and with ease with fewer Things in our way.

Our to-do list is much more manageable when it is broken down into pieces.  Little pieces.  Seven pieces.

How do you break it down?

Why don’t you try creating a List of Sevens and let me know how that works out for you?