Day 15: When #write31days2018

In the early days of motherhood, I quickly realized how lost I was in the duties of housekeeping and homemaking. I had had all sorts of free time before having children, and I didn’t realize how much I would need to organize my days once children entered the picture. It was a steep learning curve, but I eventually got a handle on some sort of routine. I at least knew when I needed to do certain tasks to keep the house running somewhat smoothly.

Now that my children are entering more independent elementary and preschool ages, I find myself with a little more time again. I am enjoying getting back to pursuing more of my creative interests, like reading and writing. This week I decided to get back to practicing the piano a little. I starting using the Duolingo app to practice my Spanish vocabulary again, too. I have been getting my knitting out every day this week. I am also thinking about when I can add some time to draw in my sketchbook and nature journal.

If you are a new mother or in a stage with lots of littles underfoot, I don’t write all this to make you feel badly. I do, after all, only have the two children! I write to encourage you that someday, you will have time again to do those things that make you uniquely you. And I write to challenge you a little to find a few minutes (really, just 5 minutes a day!) when you can do one thing that makes your soul come alive. There will be a day when you can spend more time on your interests again, but even now, amidst all the diapers and laundry and feeding little mouths, don’t forget that you are a person, too!

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 9: Inspire #write31days2018

Since one of the my themes for the Write 31 Days challenge is “creativity”, today’s prompt word inspire is the perfect chance to explore that topic a bit. I have just started getting back in touch with some of my more creative endeavors after a period of dryness and feeling uninspired, so the connection between creativity and inspiration is relevant to me.

Sometimes I think I have put too much stock in feeling “inspired” to be creative. I am finding here lately that I need to just start doing something creative, whether I feel the desire to do the thing or not. Because in the process, I either get inspired or I at least feel a sense of satisfaction at having exercised my artistic muscles. 

For example, just last week, I cleaned out my much neglected knitting basket. I found two projects that I have worked on a little bit here and there without finishing them for over 3 years. I picked up one project the next night and started moving the needles and yarn again for the first time since last winter. It wasn’t that I was particularly inspired to finish the piece. But it felt good to be making something with my hands, nonetheless. I had forgotten the satisfaction of watching those little rows add up and take on a new shape.

For me, working on something artistic, even without the initial inspiration, actually did inspire me to begin working on more creative projects, especially those involving more than just a computer screen and keyboard. I think this is one of those cases in which the feelings follow the action, and after that the feelings can fuel the action!

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 6: Belong #write31days2018

Ever since I was a little girl, I have struggled with finding where I belong. It’s not that I didn’t have a loving family or good friends. But I have always felt like I was a little different and didn’t quite belong to my peer group. Even as an adult l struggle to find a place where I feel like I am really more than just a curious outsider that the “in crowd” tolerates having around. 

The difference is that now I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Especially in this age of online comparison in which people see carefully curated images of others’ lives, I know that many moms like myself feel like they are missing in-person community to which they can really belong and be truly themselves.

So this month I finally decided to do something that is way out of my comfort zone. I am starting a little book study group of homeschooling mom to study through some of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles together.

I am hoping that this group will become more than just a book club, that it will become a little tribe of likeminded women who belong together, who support each other and lift each other up when we fall. I want this to be a welcome place for other moms to be honest with each other and to encourage one another, because we all need to belong somewhere.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Contemplation, Creativity, Community: Write 31 Days Challenge Intro

Welcome to the opening day of the Write 31 Days Challenge for 2018 here at Tuning Hearts! I decided at the last minute to try and participate again this year. I hope that since I'm not using social media this month, I will be able to write a majority of the days this time around.

Just as I did last year, I will be following the writing prompts from 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, as well as following the usual 5-minute free write rules for those posts.

Since we are encouraged to choose a theme to guide our writing during the challenge, I settled on three words that sum up the direction my thoughts have turned of late:

Contemplation--Creativity--Community

These ideas keep coming up in my daily life as I think on what it means for me to:

  1. lead a more contemplative life in a fast-paced world
  2. hone and use my creativity as a tool to glorify God
  3. build real, live community in a culture that is increasingly disconnected

I hope you will enjoy thinking through these ideas with me as I explore them from the various angles of the prompts given me this month. To find all my posts in this series, click on the tag "write31days2018." Please feel free to comment on any post that strikes a chord with you. I would love to open up the conversation!

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The Reading Report, Vol. 15: So Many Books, So Little Time

Ah, yes, the title says it all, doesn’t it? So many books, so very little time! I find my desire to read many books far outweighs the actual time I have, or perhaps the time I take, to read them. My TBR list is ever-growing, and I truly need to start writing down all the books I have in mind to read sometime soon. My head is a poor place to store such information, but at the same time, perhaps in this case it is better that I forget a few titles since I surely will never get to all of them anyway.

The month of September has been particularly bad for tackling my TBR list for a few reasons. For one thing, our family’s schedule has been exceptionally full this month. It seems like everything has been happening at once around here, and by the time I have a moment to sit down and read something, I’m often too tired to do even that! Also, after finishing one particularly difficult read, I tried to start another book only to find that I couldn’t get into it at all. (More about that later.) Finally, I didn’t have a good audio book going until this week, so I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts instead. Good, but not helpful for my reading life (unless you count adding more ideas about other books I want to read!)

So, let’s see…what have I actually finished since last month’s report?

Finished Books:

I’m afraid to say that the only personal book I finished this month was Crossing to Safety. (I did finish a couple of read-alouds with the kids, but I’m not counting those just now.) Yes, I did decide to press on and finish this book even though I had a hard time with it for the first several chapters. Thankfully, I was rewarded for my stubbornness, because the second half of the book connected with me so much more deeply. I actually was in tears at the end. I still don’t know how to talk about Crossing to Safety or what Stegner was doing in this book that made it both so hard for me to read and so moving in the end. But I am glad I stuck it out, and I even would read it again someday and see what more I can glean from it.

Currently Reading:

King Lear has been pushed to the back burner a bit, although I have been keeping up with The Play’s the Thing podcast discussions. I just need to dive back in again, because I’m nearly to the end anyway.

I picked up Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford because I needed something light in between all the difficulty of CTS. I haven’t read but a few chapters, but I am enjoying it. I like that it is light but still literary in quality and not pedantic or trite. Sometimes I have trouble with modern fiction because my tastes have become so accustomed to classic lit that a lot of popular current novels just don’t satisfy me.

My new audio book is Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers, the first in her Lord Peter Whimsy mystery series. I have read one other Lord Peter mystery and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m listening to this one on Librivox, and it is going to replace Age of Innocence in my Back to the Classics Challenge list in the female author category.

Try as I might, I just could not get engaged in the New York socialite scene of the opening chapters of Age of Innocence. I will come back to it some other time, but after struggling so with CTS, I just don’t have it in me to force myself to read yet another book that isn’t interesting me. A good mystery story is just the thing to get a girl out of a reading slump, and Whose Body fits the bill perfectly in this case!

I’m reading a few pages of The Spiritual Life every few days, purposefully reading slowly with pencil in hand. It is more of a devotional and educational book, obviously, so I want to let the points made by Mr. Murray and the Scriptures he references really sink in. So far, I find it very approachable for a book that is actually a collection of transcribed sermons from over 100 years ago!

More Time:

Since we are now over halfway through September, I am challenging myself to finish at least 3 of these 4 current reads by the next edition of the Reading Report. I think life should settle down some once we get through this month, and I am also trying to pare back on my social media time. I really need to spend more time with an actual book in hand and less time staring at my phone, unless that phone is playing an audio book, that is! 😉

How about you? How is your TBR list looking this month? Do you have more time to read now that fall is approaching, or is the school year busier for you like it has been for me? I’d love to hear more about your reading life, so leave me a comment below and we’ll chat!