Current Rhythms

I’ve found that with each new season certain tweaks are required in order to best use the time you have. As such, this past month I had the incredible opportunity to start some long-term freelance editing for my church. In order to make this happen with my work schedule, I’ve had to adjust some routines to give myself better structure and flexibility.

Adding a large project like this to my plate thankfully hasn’t been overwhelming and it’s made me better evaluate how I spend my time during the week. Here are a few of the rhythms I’m currently adopting so I can meet all my deadlines, avoid burnout and also enjoy these summer months!

First off, to keep my energy level up, I’m finding I have to walk at least every other night. The weather is beautiful in the evening and it’s still light out at 8:30 p.m. This is a hugely helpful way for me to clear my head, think of ideas and generally get refreshed after being inside all day.

On the nights I’m not walking, I try to cook, meet up with a friend, or catch up on to-dos. If I’m cooking, I’ll make something that will last the next two to three days. I’ve found making twice weekly trips to Trader Joes is a lifesaver. I’ll only purchase what I need for the next few days and not worry about planning too far ahead. Less stress and I don’t end up wasting groceries!

The beauty of freelance work is that you can do it anytime, anywhere that your schedule allows. After sitting at a desk all day (which is blessedly next to a large window), it’s pretty nice to sit on the couch or even in bed with a laptop once I’m at home. I was concerned that I would feel too tired at night to keep working, but having the option of lounging in my PJs makes it very doable.

A small, basic shift I’ve made is washing my face in the evening. It’s very simple, but helps me feel like I’m accomplishing something positive (I’m currently loving the Kale Detox from Pacifica). Taking the time to do this makes my skin amazingly fresh in the morning, not worn out and tired. I’m well overdue on this “grown up” habit, after using a make-up removing towelette since college 12+ years ago. Yikes!

Lastly, once a week on my way to work I stop at Starbucks for breakfast. Most mornings I have the same smoothie and oatmeal ritual, but it’s fun to break it up with a $10 treat. I’ll usually get a grande half-caf latte, a yogurt, and a bagel. The vegan sprouted bagel is insanely good! It’s the little things, right?

What about for you? Do you find certain rhythms and routines help your current schedule or season of life?

5 Favorite Instagrammers

While I still don’t post very often to Instagram, I sure love taking in the beautiful images and to see what other creatives are up to! Along with personal friends, I also follow quite a few other bloggers and influencers who bring a constant rotation of inspiration and ideas. Listed here are the five I enjoy the most, and always look forward to their updates. I hope you’ll check their feed and get inspired too!

1. Emily P. Freeman@emilypfreeman
I consider Emily like an online writing mentor. As an author and blogger, her whole message centers around “creating space for your soul to breathe so you can walk in step with your calling.” Her books, blog posts and podcast do just that with an encouraging, engaging and calming demeanor. I appreciate how real and down to earth she is, which is especially demonstrated in her Insta Stories. It’s always a treat to hear what’s on her mind!

2. Jess Connolly@jessaconnollyI found Jess Connolly sometime last year by the happiest accident, and watched her Insta Stories like it was my job. I’ve watched her train for a marathon, travel, hang with her family and share what it means to live our lives sold out for Christ. She’s an author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and overall creative gal. Her demeanor is very engaging, genuine and authentic. The thoughts and ideas she shares always stop to make me think about God, purpose, and loving others well.

3. Amanda Frederickson@amandafredericksonAmanda is a sweet, down-to-earth professional cook who always posts the most delicious recipe ideas! I tried several this last Thanksgiving with awesome results. Every Wednesday she shares a series called “Fridge Foraging” where she goes through what’s in her fridge on Insta Stories. She pulls out whatever ingredients she has on hand, and miraculously makes dinner out of it! Very creative and I’ve learned several tips and tricks watching her cooking methods.

4. Layla, The Lettered Cottage@letteredcottage

I’ve been a longtime fan of Layla’s blog, The Lettered Cottage, where she posts her interior design and home décor ideas. Her farmhouse style uses a fun mixture of antique and updated pieces. She and her husband also recently adopted a little boy for Haiti who is the sweetest little guy. Along with their home renovations, she also shares other style and beauty tidbits. Her positive, upbeat personality is also easy to get hooked on!

5. Kate, The Small Things@k8_smallthings

I found Kate on Pinterest around five years ago, and have followed her ever since for beauty and hairstyle inspiration. She started her blog by filming hair tutorials, sharing outfits and reviewing beauty products. I adore her simple outfit styles (many times from Target), easy recipes and home décor ideas. Her general take on life happenings is hilarious, and I always look forward to seeing her Insta Story updates!

10 Ways to Stay Creative

1. Get outside. Take a walk at a park, get near a body of water, watch the sunset or run your feet through the grass. Go on a bike ride. Either way, being outside is a perfect, cost-free way to unwind, clear your head and regroup on ideas.

2. Partner up. A couple years back, my friend Kelly and I would meet up at least once a month for a “writing date.” This involved about an hour of catching up and eating breakfast at Panera, followed by another hour or more of writing on our laptops. This gave a tremendous sense of community and encouragement in our shared love of the craft, and a way to spur each other on and keep going.

3. Keep a list.  I love a cute journal to coral all my ideas, but the truth is, I’ll get many of them in the middle of other tasks. I’ve found the best way to keep a running list is in the notepad on my phone. It’s an easily accessible area to keep everything contained. Try a method that works best for you. The important thing is that your ideas get written down!

4. Create an adventure. Get outside your town, even if it’s just an hour away. Go see a play, check out a new coffee shop, or hit up a museum. Looking at art or just taking time to have fun with someone you love can do wonders for you soul and creativity. Don’t forget to snap some photos to document the day.

5. Revert to childhood. What are some creative things you enjoyed doing as a kid? Maybe it’s painting, drawing or playing an instrument. For me it was some kind of craft project. Even though crafting doesn’t really align with my current goals, using another part of my brain can be relaxing and spark other ideas.

6. Make a collage. Riffle through some magazines and cut out images that inspire you. Look for colors you’re drawn to, or that make you feel a certain way. Take your clippings and arrange them on a bulletin or poster board. Use it as a reminder of what sparks your imagination.

7. Mark the calendar. Just as you schedule anything else, start scheduling creative time. This can be an early morning or a certain evening each week. Maybe even a weekend day each month? It’s such a rewarding and refueling feeling to set aside specific time and work toward your creative goal. Much better than just waiting for it to come around (which is not very often).

8. Get out of your routine. Take another route to work. Go out for ice cream on a week night. Wake up early and read. Do something you would enjoy to mix up your weekly repetition by thinking out of the box. This is mostly an exercise to show that you don’t have to always abide by the rules, especially if you’ve been in a rut.

9. Use what you have. For the longest time I didn’t think I could run a blog because my laptop was old and I didn’t have a fancy camera. So I made adjustments. I use my phone for the camera and write many posts on there too. No need to wait around for the best equipment and stall your efforts. Do your best with what you have and go for it.

10. Don’t wait for perfection. Keep practicing your craft. You’ll improve as you keep going. If you wait for the perfect end product, you won’t be able to enjoy the learning that comes with the journey. Dive in and see where it takes you!

Here & There

A few things I’ve read or listened to online lately.

Sarah Bessey’s recent essay on why she stopped drinking blew me away. She so articulately described the gentle way God convicts us of our habits. I don’t have a particular hang-up with drinking daily as she described, but could completely relate to the way God spoke to her heart about reliance on something outside of Him. In this way, drinking could be replaced by an activity that blocks our dependence on God as our ultimate source. So good!

For fellow writers, I’ve really enjoyed the Hope Writers Podcast featuring author and blogger Emily Freeman, her sister Myquillyn Smith (blogger behind The Nester), their author dad Gary Morland, and their marketing friend Brian Dixon. They chat about all kinds of writerly topics, based on their background and provide a great source of encouragement and inspiration. Bonus that their dynamic together is pretty fun and entertaining.

Speaking of Emily Freeman, she recently posted a great piece on “8 Things Whole-Hearted Creative Women Do Differently.

If you are anything like me, you might struggle with regularly cracking open the bible. To help with this, I’ve used the YouVersion Bible App since my church provides a reading plan on there. I recently discovered though, that there are tons of free devotionals, even by famous authors. Two I’ve loved lately are “Wait and See” focused on waiting for God’s timing, and the “Without Rival” devotional by Lisa Bevere. Once you download the app, just tap the Discover tab and there are so many to choose from, all divided by life issues and topics. It’s awesome!

I was so inspired by this Everygirl article, a first-hand account of what it was like to work out every day for 30 days. I’ve held this goal for a while as well, and to see a journal-style tell-all made it seem much more attainable and completely worth it.

What about you? What have you been reading or listening to online lately?

Savoring Spring

The weather these past few weeks has felt like such a treat! Here in Southern California, it’s cool and sunny with a delicate breeze, and flowers are blooming everywhere. I love this season’s transition, and how the time change makes the sun stay out longer. Does this make you as happy as it makes me? Here are a few ways I plan to enjoy this time, before we head into summer’s heat.

Lingering Outside

After work I go on a walk just about every other night. This greatly helps my mental state as I can clear my head and pray, or just listen to music for about 30 minutes. It’s something I truly missed during the winter months! I moved to a new area last year that is surrounded by hills, and they are all gloriously green from a heavy rain season. Also, watching the sunsets – they offer a breathtaking sight in what can feel like a very ordinary day.

Spring Cleaning

I’m busting out the cleaning supplies as I’ve noticed some cobwebs in corners and dust gathering on window sills. It’s also time to turn my mattress around and do some closet organization. I keep my seasonal clothes in containers under my bed, so I’ll be swapping out the winter sweaters for spring dresses. I also love when there’s a slight breeze, I’m starting to open windows and sliding doors more often to get some nice air flow.

Thoughtful Giving

Each season I like to collect a few items and arrange them in a basket to give away. It’s perfect to surprise someone who is going through a rough time or needs some encouragement. For this basket I’ve so far collected a candle, journal, devotional, nail polish, and lotion. I’ll add some fresh flowers, and a hand written card. I gather these items one at a time, as my budget allows, and then deliver the surprise. Brightening someone’s day is always a happy thing!