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How to Satisfy your Soul


It (finally) Satisfies my Soul

Five years ago this fall, I went back to work after maternity leave with my first son.  Although I loved teaching, it left me little energy for anything else.  An undiagnosed thyroid condition, along with mild post-partum depression, was partly to blame. But the fact remains that when I got home from work, I was beat.

That feeling of lifelessness, stress and anxiety continued for a couple of years, and then things gradually began to change.  A turning point for me was when I attended a workshop for teachers about managing stress.  The speaker had us examine what “energizes” us.  I realized then that I need a certain amount of time to pursue creative endeavors in order to be truly happy and I need friends who can commiserate, problem solve, and laugh with me.

2013-03-15_18-16-39_251I started focusing on spending my free time in a way that fed my creativity.  I took up photography and used it as a way to spend time with my kids and appreciate their childhoods, while also nurturing my hobbies.  I rearranged accessories in my house when I felt overwhelmed, because the process relaxed and revitalized me.  I made digital scrapbooks for my boys, a pastime which fulfilled my creative needs and preserved my family’s memories.

I became more active in our church, helping with Sunday School.  I became closer to God and close to many of the other moms who are now some of my best friends.  I joined a mom’s group and met more women who had children the same age as mine.  And I blogged.  I shared my ups and downs and bonded with women across the country.

Along the way, I was lucky enough to be able to quit teaching.  I told myself (and everyone else) that I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  But the truth is, I wanted to let go of the hectic lifestyle and stress that teaching provided, and have more time to nurture my creativity and relationships.IMG_20130426_073719_682

Now, I’m able to do that.  I am working and I don’t consider myself a stay-at-home mom anymore, but I have a flexible schedule with lots of time with my two boys and husband – the most important relationships in my life.  And I’m actually able to enjoy my time with them, because I’m not stressed out and exhausted anymore.  When I have time by myself, I use it to “fill my cup” and I’m more emotionally prepared to handle life’s challenges because of it.

Many, many times throughout each week, I thank God for the life I have.  I am so blessed to be able to spend my time doing what I love with people I love.

You’ll be happier for the trouble.

Bill Watterson, the comic famous for creating Calvin and Hobbes, gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 1990 that has a powerful message:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Invent YOUR Own Life’s MeaningIMG_4172

Think for a minute.  What energizes you?  What puts you in a good mood?  What makes you truly happy?

Do more of thatWhatever it is, make time for it.  Cut out the things that don’t “fill your cup,” even if it means that you uninstall Candy Crush from your phone and spend your time in a way that rejuvenates your spirit.

Things may not change overnight, but as you start to differentiate between things that lift you higher and things that drag you down, you will begin to see what is most important to you.

And before you know it, you will have created a life that satisfies your soul.

House Tour: Ideas for a Busy Family


Howdy, y’all.  Since you all loved my first post about Kris’s house so much, I’m back to show you more!  Today we’re going to focus on some kids’ spaces.  With 5 kiddos and one more on the way, this house has to be beautiful and functional!

First up, some of the bedrooms.  Kris has 4 boys and one girl, so far.

bold striped wallvintage green chairbuilt-in desk

With all those boys, she went super feminine for her 3 year old’s room.  Wouldn’t you?

vintage pink quilt

See the turquoise desk in the reflection?  I could almost picture one of my turquoise chairs in the corner of this room! 

pink dresser

Now, here’s a glimpse at some of the necessities that keep a family of 7 sane…

The upstairs loft area contains a family room that the bigger boys use most of the time. It wasn’t really staged for a blog the day that I visited – the boys were using it!  But I love how even the family areas of the house are beautiful, including the black doors to all the bedrooms.  Gorgeous, aren’t they?

loft railingblack doorsburlap wreath

The boys’ bathroom is also down that hallway.  blue and orange bathroom


There’s an identical vanity and storage cabinet on the opposite wall…such a great idea.bathroom storage cabinet

iowa license plates

Moving downstairs, the laundry room features this adorable vintage aqua sink!

vintage aqua sink

And a cabinet for laundry baskets, with a counter on top for folding.

laundry basket storage

A new dryer is waiting to be installed, but Kris would really like two sets of stacking washers and dryers.  With 6 kids, I think she’ll need them!

aqua laundry room

Finally, a little organization…Kris blogged about her memo board here.

knock-off bulletin board


And she made a chalkboard across the hall from the bulletin board, by simply painting chalkboard paint on the wall and framing it!

framed chalkboard


I still have at least one more blog post about this amazing house…here’s a little sneak peek:


farmhouse table


To see more of Kris’s house, be sure to check out my first post and Kris’s blog, Our Thrifty Nest of 7.

House Tour: It’s What’s Inside that Matters Most


Y’all, I’m going to show you an amazing house today, owned and decorated by my friend Kris.  Kris is a southern gal, transplanted to central Iowa, where she and her husband live with their 5 (almost 6!) children.  She also blogs at Our Thrifty Nest of 7.

I met Kris on a local facebook swap site.  She was selling a bunch of HomeShed style home décor.  After seeing her décor online, I really wasn’t prepared when I drove up to her house and saw this…

machine shed house

I’d heard of a few “machine-shed houses” but had never been in one.  Boy was I in for a surprise! The outside might not have been much to write home about, but the inside is amazing.  I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

balcony loft

black and white gallery wallIMG_5800pitcher and lantern


queen anne chairs

queen anne chairs and diy farm table

diy harvest table

board and batten

pottery barn knock off buffet


wood burning stove

open shelves

open shelves kitchen

stairway art

board and batten

Was that what you were expecting to see?  Just goes to show, you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a house by its exterior! 


I took a LOT more pictures, including the transformation of the exterior and kids rooms, which I’ll show you next week.  Until then, hang out with me on facebook and check out the transformation of MY exterior!

How a Messy Mom Cleans: The Minimum

Messy MomI had the “Messy Mom” series all planned out.  I had one more article outlined and knew exactly what I was going to say.

And then, I read a blog post that will change this series and may very well change my life.

Leila, from Like Mother, Like Daughter, wrote about New Year’s Resolutions (way back in 2009.)  Instead of making fancy resolutions, she suggested this:  Do better in the minimum anyone can expect from you, and you will do better in everything else.

Do better in the MINIMUM anyone can expect from you, and you will do better in everything else. 

Then, she went on to say that the minimum anyone can expect from a mom or homemaker is food and laundry.


That’s right.  Food and laundry.


I’m not going to lie.  Those are probably my two least favorite household chores.  I don’t cook a lot, and I rarely fold laundry.  It’s a problem, I know. 

But when I look around at my house, and decide to tackle one of the problems I see, I rarely start with food and laundry.  I reorganize a bathroom drawer, pick up toys off the floor, or hang a pretty picture on the wall.

I ignore the cooking (and everything that goes with it) and laundry. 

I do the minimum of the minimum. 


Ugh.  That sentence is ugly.  It makes me feel defeated and yucky.

But, it gives me some clarity. 

I constantly feel behind around the house.   And maybe it’s not because the kids’ art supplies need organized, or I need to hang more hooks in the entryway.

Maybe I feel behind because I am behind.  On food and laundry.


Do better in the MINIMUM anyone can expect from you, and you’ll do better at everything else.

I’m not sure about that 2nd part, but I’m willing to give the first part a try.  I’m going to try to do better at food and laundry.

First step happens NOW:

I’m going to put away the clothes in my bedroom.

I’m going to the basement to wash a load of laundry.

I’m going to pick up something from the deep freeze to make for supper on my way up.

I’m going to do the dishes so I have a clean counter to cook on tonight.

(And here’s the proof that I followed through before finishing this blog post!  Woot!)

IMG_5776-2463(rev 1)


Fellow Messy Moms, I need to know.  Are you caught up on Food and Laundry? (Now they get capital letters.  It’s my way of telling myself that these things are important!)  Maybe you’re even AHEAD on Food and Laundry!  Please, either commiserate or help me in the comment section below.