a virtual coffee date

Last week, one of my favorite bloggers — Whitney at sometimes.always.never — wrote a post about what she would talk about if you sat down for a cup of coffee together. I loved getting a peek into her thoughts and life at the moment. I’ve been feeling a bit scatterbrained this week, with lots of projects and ideas competing for space inside my head, so this type of post was calling to me. I wish I could sit down and have a real coffee date with all of you! I guess a virtual one will have to do for now.

So, brew a mug of your favorite coffee or tea {I’m currently obsessed with the Harney & Sons hot cinnamon spice black tea that my mom got me for Christmas}, get cozy, and let’s chat.

I would probably suggest a coffee date at my new house so I could show you around. There are still plenty of boxes to unpack and pictures to hung up, but the “bones” of our new home are settled in and the space is feeling more and more cozy and familiar. I’d give you a little tour and then we’d sprawl out together on the couch in the living room, which is perhaps my favorite room of the whole house and the perfect place to curl up with a book. I love the fireplace and the natural light!

I would tell you about how my mom came to visit last weekend and how spending time with her nourishes my soul. One of the joys of growing up is feeling more on a “peer-to-peer” or “friend-to-friend” level with your parents. I love talking with my mom about marriage, running a household, work-life balance… basically I try to pick her brain as to how she manages to be so dang amazing. I feel incredibly lucky to have her as my mom! She booked her trip to coincide with our move and she was a HUGE help in getting things organized and moving in some new-to-us family furniture. {Even though she was sick with a cold — she’s such a champ.} My aunt Annie is moving soon and she generously gave us a bunch of pieces, including some beautiful rugs, a coffee table, and a professional wooden desk that I still can’t quite believe is mine!

Speaking of the desk, I would tell you about how my incredible husband does.not.give.up. The desk is BIG and at first, it seemed like it would just  b a r e l y  not fit through the doorjamb into the room we’ve designated as an office. We tried turning it around various ways and tried fitting it through the doorway at various angles, but nothing was working. The desk kept getting stuck partway through the doorway. Mom and I were ready to throw in the towel. “I’ll be fine with the old desk,” I said, even though my heart felt disappointed.

But no. Allyn was convinced that there was a way it would work. Eventually, he turned the desk vertically and was able to wiggle it through the doorjamb. Success! Mom and I could not believe it. All it took was some clever thinking and rethinking, determination not to give up too soon… and a screwdriver take the door off its hinges! There is definitely a life lesson in that experience.

{Right about now I would take a sip of my tea and confess to you that I was pretty dang nervous about detaching and reattaching the office door. But it worked out great! The door is good as new and my new desk is happily in place under the window.}

I would tell you how wonderful it was to see my mom, but that it highlighted how much I miss my dad and brother, and how I can’t wait to see them both in April to cheer on Greg as he runs the Boston Marathon! He just amazes me and makes me so proud. April is going to be an incredibly busy month, filled with exciting travel plans and lots of friend + family time. I am gearing up!

I would tell you how my new collection of short stories WOMAN, RUNNING LATE, IN A DRESS has officially been released into the world and it is surreal and scary and thrilling and hopeful to think of people reading my words and feeling transported into these characters’ lives. Holding the book in my hands still gives me goosebumps. People have already said some really nice things about it, which also gives me goosebumps. If you’d like a copy, you can snag one here! I would be delighted to sign it for you, too. 🙂

I would tell you how I’m developing a new program for people who want to grow more confident in their writing skills, work on writing projects that are important to them, and generally become better, happier, more productive writers! If we were drinking coffee together in person, I would ask you a bunch of questions. Virtually, if you have 5 minutes to share your insights with me on this survey, I would be SO grateful! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z9LMJ8P

I would tell you how I’m loving the longer daylight hours, even though it has been a bit tougher to get up in the morning this week. I would rave about this recipe and this song and I would let you borrow this book, which I devoured in two days. We would eat some homemade pumpkin muffins and I would tell you about my ongoing quest to quit sugar and how it’s going fairly well. I’ve definitely scaled back, and there’s no more mindless sugar-snacking going on, but sometimes a girl just needs a square or two of dark chocolate. And that’s okay.

I would ask you about your family and your circle of friends, about what you’re loving and what you’re craving, about your dreams big and small, in this precious season of life you are journeying through.

And then we’d pour some more coffee or tea, and keep talking. Because nothing warms the heart like some good conversation.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m raising my mug of warm cinnamon spice in a toast to you right now. Sending you so much love and a great big hug. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments below!

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and “free-write” about these questions:

  • What is something you are really excited about in your life right now? What are you looking forward to in the future?
  • What books/songs/movies/recipes are you currently obsessed with?
  • What is one thing you have discovered lately — about yourself, about others, about the wider world?
  • Is anything lying heavy on your heart right now? Write it down. Let it out.

year of virtues, month three: silence

Hello, friends, and Happy Friday! Hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day yesterday! I donned a lime-green shirt, made some deep green spinach-banana muffins {recipe coming soon; promise you can’t taste the spinach one bit!}, joined my grandparents for a homemade dinner of corned beef and cabbage, and then met up with my dear Dana for our third St. Patty’s celebration in a row! It’s become a new tradition for us and I love it. Her house is always all decorated for the holiday, we put on four-leaf-clover headbands, she makes delicious Irish coffees, and we chat away! Time with her always flies by and before I knew it, I was glancing at my clock and it was 9:45, and time for me to head home! Do you have any little traditions with friends that totally brightens up your year?

Photo from our St. Patty's date last year!

Our first St. Patty’s date!

 

st pattys with dana

Last year!

 

me and dana st patricks yr 3

This year {with our leprechaun friend}

This month, my focus on Ben Franklin’s List of Virtues is on silence. He writes: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.” I am choosing to interpret “trifling conversation” to mean gossip, complaining, shallow arguments, etc. I do not consider myself much of a gossip, and strive to be an optimistic and empowering presence for myself and others, but I have noticed that sometimes it can be easy to try to connect with other people through mindless complaining, venting, or gossiping. I think conversation has an extremely valuable place in our lives, but truly nurturing and fulfilling conversation comes with deep reflection, listening, and thinking. We have all experienced the difference between speaking to express something true and important, versus jabbering away mindlessly just to hear ourselves talk. This month, I am making a conscious effort to be mindful of the way conversation ebbs and flows in my day-to-day life… and to choose silence more often.

Another way I am choosing silence is to focus on quieting down the chattering voices inside my head. My yoga teachers call this the “monkey mind.” I am spending just five minutes a day in quiet meditation/reflection/contemplation, simply trying to focus on my breathing and clear my mind of all the clutter. I have already noticed that this has made me feel more at ease as I go about my day, and helps me stay more present and worry less about what might happen in the future. Even good things we are looking forward to in the future can still be a source of stress or worry, as I am learning while planning my wedding! Sometimes the best thing to do is breathe and let go.

I am also experimenting with driving around in silence, rather than listening to music or podcasts during my commute. You all know how much I love podcasts, but I wanted to see what it would be like to purposefully add more quiet time to my day. And, you guys — a magical thing has happened! I look forward to my commute time more than ever now. It has become my time to daydream, to drift, and has become a super powerful time for connecting to the characters in the new novel I am working on. In the quiet, I can hear their voices speaking to each other, giving me dialogue and ideas for new scenes and development. It almost feels like I am able to hear the story straight from their mouths, and now all I have to do is write it down. This might sound crazy to some people, but as a writer this is one of the most magical experiences — when your characters come to life, and become companions you think about and converse with throughout your day. I believe this silent time has been absolutely crucial for this magic to happen.

The final way I have embraced silence is by listening to my heart about what I would like to share publicly, and what I would like to keep to myself. I have been a little silent on this blog of late, because I have been doing some deep reflecting about this subject — what I want this space to look like, what I am craving to lean into more, what I want to connect with you about… and what I want to keep private. I have a post all written and ready to go about how my sweetheart proposed to me, but over the past few weeks something in my heart has kept me from pulling the trigger and clicking that PUBLISH button. I can’t quite describe it, but I think there is something about the memory of that experience that feels too precious for me to share publicly, at least right now. It is something I want to keep between my sweetheart and me. And that is okay. I am hoping you all will understand.

I would, however, like to share this song with all of you, a song that has very special meaning to Allyn and me, that is perfectly fitting on this topic of silence. I think Ben Franklin would approve! 🙂

Here’s hoping you are having a fabulous Friday and that your weekend is filled with all the good things your heart is yearning for… and maybe just a little bit of quiet time all to yourself.

xoxo,
Dallas

Questions of the day:

  • How do you find quiet moments in your busy life?
  • What are your favorite ways to reflect and slow down?

marvelous monday: making the most of long car rides

Hi everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend! As I mentioned on Saturday, Mike and I spent the weekend visiting his family, who live in the Chicago suburbs, about a 2.5 hour drive away from us. I miss my family — it is difficult living so far away from them! — but Mike’s family is warm and welcoming and I always love seeing them.

It was a fun weekend! Home cooking, lots of laughter and long conversation, and a visit to the pumpkin patch! Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day in Illinois and we took advantage of it!

If there is one thing I dislike about visiting Mike’s family, it is the long car ride there and back … I am not the biggest car person and five hours in two days feels long to me! I get carsick easily and can’t read or write in the car. I am someone who hates feeling unproductive and I get antsy sitting still in a confined space for so long. But it is obviously worth the drive to get to see Mike’s family, and also I’ve found that by shifting my mindset and implementing some easy car-ride strategies, it has actually become time I look forward to and enjoy! Here are some tips that work for me that I’m hoping might make your next long car ride or even your daily commute more enjoyable:

  • If you have company, savor it! Take the opportunity to have some nice uninterrupted conversations. I love the long, wandering conversations Mike and I have during our car trips together — serious, silly, deep, insightful. It’s quality time we get to spend together, just the two of us, talking. It reminds me of when we first started dating and spent so much time talking-talking-talking, soaking up each other’s stories.
  • Driving solo? Why not take the time to call up a friend or family member for a catch-up chat? {Of course, make sure to use a hands-free headset and drive safe!}
  • Listen to a comedy album. My current fave: the insanely witty Demetri Martin! {You can check out his new album here.} The drive goes by so fast when you are cracking up the whole way there!
  • Listen to an audiobook. I got this idea from my dad, who often runs to audiobooks. {He’s made his way through quite some impressive tomes this way, such as East of Eden and Huckleberry Finn!} Audible.com is a great resource for downloading audiobooks. Or go the free route and check out CDs from the library! When I drove cross-country with my mom to move from California to Indiana for grad school, this is what we did. The CDs are admittedly a little clunkier than your iPod, but they still do the trick.
  • Scan the radio for new-to-you stations. Mike and I found a station that plays Irish-inspired music, which we both love. It felt like a special treat to listen to songs we’d never heard before, and I was scribbling artists’ names down in my notebook to look up later.
  • If you’re not the one driving, spend a little time being productive: pick up any trash that’s found its way onto the floor or between the seats, write checks to pay some bills, etc. One car trip, I organized Mike’s glove box. {Which I will share in a later post!}
  • Do something crafty. I have found long car rides to be an ideal time to knit! I am halfway through a new scarf for Mike right now, thanks to car-ride knitting time.
  • Gaze out the window and daydream. Sometimes we all need some time to reflect and let our minds wander. Tap into your imagination and see where your thoughts take you!

Anyone else have any tips to share? How do you make the most of long car rides or daily commute time?

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas 🙂