Cheers to 2017
Cheers to 2017
In light of Lindy-Ann’s Christmas post last week, and my ingrained American tradition of waiting for all things Christmas until after Thanksgiving, I thought a post on thankfulness was in order. Funnily enough, my college buddy, Russ, was visiting last week and among all the lists of big topics we were processing together, gratitude was one them. We come from very different spiritual backgrounds, however we agreed that being thankful within any circumstance can truly change one’s perspective and help to live in present.
Being in the moment used to come a little easier for me. I reckon “adulting”, and definitely parenting, gets in the way, which is sad as it may be in this season when it is most critical that we bask in the moment and be thankful. Over the past few years I have attempted to join in daily thankfulness and gratitude challenges that tend to pop up this time of year. I go strong for for the first week (if I’m lucky), but life gets busy and I forget…to be thankful. Can I get an amen?
That said, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, as I discuss thankful hearts with my boys, I start to overflow with gratitude. For the little things, like the way my youngest calls cuddles “huggles” and my oldest still calls me “Mom-Mom,” even though he is seven and a half. I am, of course, also thankful for the big things like productive days, a wonderful village of friends in our expat life, and the technology that keeps us connected to loved ones back home. I’m thankful for memories of family Thanksgivings and traditions, as we make new ones and participate in ‘friendsgivings.
I have come to the conclusion that it really is heart and life changing to remain in a state of gratitude and have a thankful heart. To find the ‘silver lining’ in every situation and focus on it will help you through life’s storms peacefully, and maybe even with a smile on your face. To live life as abundantly as you can.
Don’t worry, I won’t challenge you. Not in this post anyway. However, I would encourage you (as always) to try finding something to be thankful for. I will recommend One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp if you are seeking a way to train yourself to find the joy of your everyday life and discover the “miracle in the mundane” as Ann says.
Lastly, I am thankful for you, our readers and our community. Thankful that you allow us into your lives and let us help you grow in your creative journey. Lindy-Ann and I feel so abundantly blessed by your comments and your encouragement and hope that we can continue to inform, challenge, educate, and even make you laugh. That is what it’s all about for us: joy in the process as we grow together.
With a grateful heart –
A few months ago Katie and I wrote up a review on Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, we mentioned in that post how she is the designer and creator of The Simplified Planner. Since we read her book, Katie and I both were itching to get our hands on one of them. That itch has been scratched. In South Africa our school year went from January to December, it took some getting used to when the kids started school here and the new year went from September to June. To help that, I opted for this version of The Simplified Planner the academic year, going from August 2017 to July 2018.
The Simplified Planner comes in 4 different designs, I chose the floral print. Katie went with the Gold Dot.
I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived last night, one week into the first school term. (See why I need an organiser). It came in a very strong, high quality, easy to open, navy blue packaging box. I will keep this for future travel to add extra protection to my planner in suit cases. The planner itself was covered in bubble wrap and an extra layer of plastic. They made sure no water or dust could get in anywhere with this packaging. And I love the attention to detail, even in shipping!
Emily has also included a handy little start up brochure for people like me who need a little extra beginner’s encouragement.
As a self taught designer she combined her love for design with her passion for helping others simplify their lives to produce something that is not only useful, but it is beautiful and intentional too. I love her use of colour on different pages, her space allocation for things like meal planning… (Something I have also only recently starting doing and oh my gosh has it been life changing).
Possibly one of my favourite features is her sticker page. I’m a sucker for extra detail splashed with fun.
She has recently launched her Yearly planners as well going from January to December, for all our SA readers, those not in the school aged season of life, or if you just prefer yearly planners – there’s a beautifully designed option for you too.
Much like Katie’s post about starting fresh this fall and setting your intentions, I hope this has encouraged you to get organised and prepare yourselves for the year ahead. One thing Emily stresses, which both Katie and I are trying to implement more and more, is the power of saying “No.” To intentionally save blank space in your schedules for down time, family time, or just a little time-out time. These quiet moments are just as important, but we need to be intentional about it – especially in our ‘Always On’ society.
Happy #TutorialTuesday everyone! Today I’m sharing one of my favorite tricks on the iPhone. I have to give a shout out to our school’s Director of Technology, Brian, for teaching it to me after I inquired about a school app. I was hoping to simplify the process of getting onto our parent portal and this tip did the trick!
Let me know if you find it as handy as I do!
A dear friend of mine came back from her December holidays and planted this book proudly on my living room table and said,“It’s beautifully designed and she’s so inspiring I just know you’ll love it.” Thanks, Viv, you were so right!
Once upon a time, I enjoyed an amazing career in advertising for many years, traveling to countries such as Mozambique, Romania, Spain, and Lebanon to name a few. Then 3 months after getting married, I fell pregnant with my first child. I had never planned on becoming a house wife! I had never even taken Home Ec at school! After a good dose of humble pie and a whole heap of life lessons, this book was such a welcome read for me. It put into words so many of the things I have felt and faced living this new creative mom life path.
“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee
Shortly after Viv shared the book with me, Katie was sharing her hurting, over committed, overwhelmed, and stressed out heart with me, and I told her she needed to read this book. It took her a few months (and more than a few nudges), but she finally ordered it. I just knew that Emily’s story, her way with words, and the gorgeous, clean design would speak to her, as it did for me.
The author, Emily Ley, is a designer, wife and mom of 3 little ones. With degrees in English, Marketing, and Public Relations, she launched her own brand in 2008. In 2011 Emily created The Simplified Planner® for busy working moms like herself and has grown from strength to strength with global success.
Along with practical tools and tips on how to simplify your life, Emily shares her testimony. Through the stories she weaves so eloquently, the reader can see that her strength and wisdom come from her Christian faith and upbringing. It is essential to her overcoming the battle for perfection and turning her focus to gratitude and grace. It is authentic and honest, not pushy, and we believe most readers will appreciate her openness, Christian or not.
There are so many great quotes that resonated with both of us throughout the book. Some that inspired us to declutter and set priorities, and others that reaffirmed us. It is truly a wonderful book that motivates, challenges, and loves on the reader.
Here are some take aways that spoke to us and influenced us for the better:
• Perfect doesn’t always equal worthy.
• Give yourself permission to slow down.
• Fiercely guard the pages of your calendar.
• It’s ok to say NO, not just is it ok, it is very necessary.
• Make sure you are taking time for yourself so that you can pour out sweet water to your people.
• Decluttering and organizing your life will make room for more joy.
• Don’t miss the joys hidden between the grand moments in life.
• Free your hands. Lock the phone in the drawer. Everything else can wait.
• Home days are as important as playdates.
• Eliminate distractions, especially the digital ones; they are time-suckers. Turn off notifications and check your email when you want to, and try keeping your social media app out of site.
• Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.
• Mommy guilt is a liar and comparison steals joy.
“Mommy guilt. It’s an epidemic. The working mom, the part-time mom, the stay-at-home mom, the super-mom, the room mom, the traditional mom, the modern mom, the helicopter mom, the tiger mom. No one is immune when mommy guilt rears it’s ugly head to whisper the lie that we’re somehow failing our children.” – Emily Ley
We have both recommended this book to the moms we know looking for balance, more joy, and ultimately grace in their mess. Each of them receiving it with the same gratitude that we did. Feeling liberated in knowing that WE ARE ENOUGH!
“Ultimately simplifying allows us to slow down enough to savor this life” – Emily Ley
So in the spirit of simplifying and pursing joy, let’s agree to not rush these days away – our kids are growing up so fast as it is. Let’s take the time to appreciate the little things, find the joy between the grand moments, pursue our calling, and a be present in each season of life. Seek Grace, not perfection.
We both highly recommend this book, so when you give it a read, tell us what you think. Did it change your perspective or inspire you?