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this is me

NEW! I recorded this entire post for you!

Feel free to listen by clicking HERE. (If you ignore mistakes and audio quality in some spots, I think it will do!)

This is an EPIC post friends.

The original plan included less words, more posts.

I chose the road less traveled in blog land, where 400-500 word limits guide the way. Well… not this time.

If you’re new, several months ago I shared of a significant shift in my writing and offered why. The change includes a new platform.

Before the transition from here to there, I want to re-introduce myself. Actually, more openly introduce myself for the first time.

Just parts of life I hope to carry into future work and writing.

Grab some tea?

I’m Daniele. And in no specific order — this is me.

I am unapologetically Christian.

I land in the Protestant camp.

My life experiences range from charismatic holy roller to contemplative Christianity, with sprinkles of other perspectives in between. To stir the pot, I attended two high school years in a Catholic environment and loved so many things about it!

I am deeply committed to following Jesus.

At times, life led me to question beliefs. But, I cannot remember questioning loving him. This truth remains core to who I am. It influences everything I do.

I believe life with Christ offers us all something good.

: :

My future website and writing focuses on the soul care of women  in any life season, with special space for those overcoming struggles. Helping women care for their spiritual lives and unique personalities is my heartbeat.

My approach reflects my faith though I avoid offering pat answers. I work to stay away from Christianese language and references.

The sincere desire is women of various faith backgrounds find hope and healing.

I won’t seek to make everyone happy (impossible) or water down a message.

In short, naming I am unapologetically Christian means I am unapologetically open to all God’s people — whether we hold similar perspectives or not.

I am a voice and advocate.

Alongside my commitment to Christ, I feel grieved for my faith community.

I speak of larger Church vs local.

I wrestle with perspectives towards women, struggle with what feels like rampant disregard of their voices.

My grief relates to practices of belittling, denying or ignoring abuse and acts of violence women face in their lives and within church.

It’s an ugly, tender topic. But it is reality.

I was just exiting church leadership as the #metoo and #churchtoo movement erupted. As I watched, I wondered how church communities planned to respond. How I would respond.

Even now I sit with more questions, less answers.

But I am moved to give voice and help others do the same.

A path forward cannot include bashing men or spewing rants at spiritual leaders. Yet I cannot support silence. A touch of my future writing opens the door for these conversations.

My faith calls me to love mercy, to walk humbly, to act justly.

I once heard a sermon demonstrating dependence of each part upon the other. It’s lopsided Christianity without all three.

All three I embrace moving forward.

I am Haitian.

At first I felt odd including this description in my lineup.

But being Haitian is one aspect I’ve not shared much online or in every day life. Quite honestly, up until recently this heritage identity fell into the background of my life.  I want to change this.

I am first-generation American.

Like many of my cousins, our parents immigrated from Haiti and set out creating new opportunities for themselves and their children.

Reconnecting to this part of me includes dusting off Haitian Creole and more involvement in the culture. Creole is a language I understand yet rarely speak.

Haitian people are some of the most resilient I have met. This resiliency connects deeply with the soul care services and writing I plan to offer.

You will see this people group highlighted in my work — another way of me keeping connected.

I hope to share stories of Haitian women who have triumphed over tragedy, and of organizations and communities supporting their journeys.

This vision is developing slowly. I am excited about connections made already!

I am a survivor.

[trigger alert]

Talk about ugly, tender topics. Sigh.

I shared with you recently of making phone calls, sitting with other women and doing the hard work of sharing my story.

It’s a story I kept silent for multiple reasons.

The stigma, the accompanying shame, and fear of others interpreting my life only through this event. More importantly, gentle care for the one person I felt it impacted the most: my daughter.

But I learned through a devastating experience last year the cost of that silence, of not owning my story more publicly and assuming protection from other places.

As I sat in court that day, a voice inside me awoke.

I will own my story — all of it, every part. It is mine to share.

This vow cascaded into me getting support for just how to own, how to share with others.

Then I did.

My survivor story

At the close of my childhood, I was sexually assaulted and became pregnant.

It was the most traumatic event of my first decades of life.

I lost my innocence, my sense of safety.

My identity shattered into all kinds of pieces no longer representing the true me at all. This contributed to a mindset of accepting other violations to my body, mind and soul.

For a long time I wanted to erase that terrible day.

To believe faith in God enough to cover up the loss, the memories, the after effects. God carried me through no doubt…and I have done the hard work of healing over the years.

I accept complete healing from trauma probably comes in our eternal state.

However, I believe it possible to thrive now, to recover from living the terrible again and again.

From a more settled and healed place, I will passionately support women by offering trauma-sensitive soul care, whatever their pain.

[Note: in America right now, we’re experiencing a hotbed of debate around women’s rights, abortion, the sanctity of life. Keep in mind I share today a personal story, NOT a political stand (I do hold one). If possible, please avoid interpreting my story this way.]

I am an entrepreneur.

I always seem to have a business idea in my head!  Seriously.

My family background includes many who busted traditional models to create avenues for supporting their families.

I’m kinda in that lot.

In the next phase I will offer multiple services and resources at no cost to anyone. Freely I have received from others, freely I desire to give.

I also plan to offer services and resources with a price tag attached.

You may wonder what’s the big deal. I agree.

Yet online I’ve seen this move viciously attacked.

Bloggers and website owners criticized for benefitting financially from their life story whether it’s losing weight, surviving cancer, overcoming a struggle, handling their money well or being an organized Mom!

It’s craziness in my opinion.

: :

I have no plans to pull anyone’s heart strings to get to their purse strings.

I’m just a Mom who has been out of the traditional work force for nearly 20 years. I prayed for an idea to do something I truly enjoy which supports availability to my kids.

And God birthed one.

Fear creeps into my thoughts of course. What if this all fails? 

Then I think —  but what if it doesn’t?

I am a sensitive-souled carrier of LIGHT.

Accepting my personality type with all its beautiful strengths and touchy blind spots came slowly.

I better understand my sensitive and highly intuitive nature, and desire to offer it as a gift to others.

For personality nerds like myself — I’m an INFJ, Enneagram Type 5.

  • I experience emotions deeply, my own and others’ (sometimes even before they share them) — or completely the opposite! I can forget my emotional side, staying way too much in my head
  • my type avoids engaging the news, certain movies or books – most stories overwhelm
  • all my senses are heightened! Different sounds & lighting in particular cause me sensory stress
  • staying connected to my body and physical needs is WORK for me. If engaged in a project of my passion (*cough* like creating a website *cough*), I can easily forget to sleep, eat, and other basics!
  • I need significant time alone in order to show up fully in my relationships

So…

Can my personality type really sit with other women, maybe in their painful story, and be a friend on the journey?

YES. Yes I can.

It requires paying close attention to my own soul care and self-care needs. I also need community, support and accountability outside myself. My life reflects all these. Grateful.

But most importantly, I am a carrier of LIGHT.

This is what truly motivates me, moves me towards action.

On my own I could (and honestly would) retreat, especially after experiences of the last two years. But LIGHT does not hide, does not leave never to be seen again.

I am deeply convinced my right now includes this work:

to carry light into darkness

to remind others they too are light

This is me.

“And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl.

When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair,                                    and the light illuminates the entire house. 

You are like that illuminating light.

Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.” ~ Matthew 5

I’m Daniele.

And I welcome you to carry light with me!

 

 

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    what to do with someone’s story

    Friends…

    Changes are happening behind the scenes of this blog!

    The NEW website moves along as my (small) team works on details. I feel incredibly proud of these next steps; it reflects so much of my heart.

    To be clear, the new website does not focus on my life story, past or present. I’ll reference experiences and share more personally. But the focus is not me.

    What keeps me plugging through an ever-growing to do list and writing page after page of content is: others. 

    I hope to support women in life-giving ways. It’s really not much different in vision than my church ministry work of many years, simply a shift in topics, platform and approach.

    In order to move forward, I want to share parts of myself/my story carried into this next chapter. Some parts might feel light — like an aha moment. An oh, I didn’t know this about her insight.

    Other parts friends, I imagine may feel heavy or difficult.

    Writing online is tricky.

    It reminds me of random connections with those in my community circles. For example — at the grocery store, a parking lot, at a park, a restaurant. Having heard some version of our family’s story, they asked:

    So how are you really doing? I heard ____, is that true? Did you? Did they? Was there?

    The conversation sometimes felt unfair.

    Almost a sense of entitlement in a need to know details and expectation I provide them. I hold regrets around several of those short interactions, wishing I had simply offered:

    Thanks for your care. Really, it’s important to me. But in the time we have together I couldn’t possibly unpack my story with you. I can tell you we are well.’

    And then offered a big hug.

    This happens online too.

    We receive a little news or insight, a few facts, a new tidbit and form our OWN version of the story. We interpret words to mean this or that. A sentence taken out of context, unspoken parts imagined.

    Maybe the actual story told feels overwhelming to us.

    Oh goodness! Surely it wasn’t that bad? And it hurts us to think perhaps it may have been. And we did not know, did not see, did not understand.

    So we sometimes soften, ignore, reject or change the story to soothe our emotional needs.

    Friends, I am not pointing fingers. I’ve done this too.

    I have close to 20 years experience holding other women’s stories. Stories of celebration and pain, of happiness and grief, of terrible wrongdoings or shocking confessions. So I understand…taking in another’s words, listening openly, holding still with this person in the toughest of places?

    Well, it is hard work.

    It is heart work. Most importantly, it requires I do not add or subtract from words entrusted to my care.

    On the other hand…

    Sometimes the most helpful path is to step away.

    To realize we cannot engage a story openly or hold our inner selves still enough to listenThis is not a sign of weakness, maybe it is self-care.

    Maybe we need separation for our own wellbeing or to honor the story of another (because we’re tempted to manipulate somehow). These steps take gut-level honesty. I invite you into this self-reflection as we move forward.

    My heart focuses on reflecting as well.

    I have wrestled with realities of blogging (or any personal writing), understanding the risky door opened in offering vulnerability and story sharing.

    I have prayed, counseled with others and experience enough peace moving forward. This does not make me right. It only means I have taken my next steps seriously and done some heart work.

    Hmmm…so much more rumbling in my thoughts around story. But really, this post feels long enough!

    Instead I leave you with this:

    Thank you for reading here today. Really, it’s important to me. In the time we shared together, I couldn’t possibly unpack all my thoughts with you. I can tell you I am well. I hope you are too.’

    HUGS.

     

     

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    • Kathleen

      This was so incredibly helpful! I will reflect more on how I interpret what I read. Thank you for being open and for teaching me something today!ReplyCancel

    • Daniele

      You are welcome Kathleen! Thanks for reading here and taking time to comment. ☺️ReplyCancel

    keep moving forward

    ::

    I’ve been working on some huge-to-me projects lately.

    There are multiple notebooks going, scratched out lists everywhere, plenty of networking with other writers and organizations and more.  I feel full of purpose and determination.  Alive.

    The creating of content and community I shared just two months ago is coming together!

    (I’m also busy with everyday life like running kids to musical rehearsals, teaching geography at homeschool co-op, or procrastinating on laundry chores — the latter of which I excel).

    Yet in all the excitement, there is sometimes a gnawing fear.

    When I am invested in a project, and I mean truly dedicated heart, mind and soul, the vision of said project sometimes comes to me in a WHOLE big chunk.

    I go from zero ideas, blank space to oh-my-goodness-I-know-EXACTLY-what-should-be-done. In one swoop, I can envision the entire thing. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a quiet, reflective introvert who appreciates time to turn an idea inside out (and back again) before taking next steps. It’s my norm.

    But sometimes….

    …the total opposite happens, and it’s just where I find myself now.

    Unfortunately, this mega download of creative thought brings ALL kinds of fear-based questions for me:

    Who are you to do this, Daniele?

    Do you even know enough? (ugh, this one plagues me)

    Look, someone else is already doing what you have in mind — and it’s better!

    What exactly are you planning to contribute to this topic?

    And many times in my past…I’ve gotten stuck right at those questions. I pause. I reconsider. Basically, I get scared that whatever it takes I just don’t have.  Anyone else?

    I wish today there was some quick fix to offer. There are great books written, and better advice given, on overcoming fear. I honestly have no fancy wisdom.

    Just this friend:  sometimes, giving up is simply NOT an option.

    Yes sometimes, it’s altogether right to release a dream.

    To say a gentle goodbye or not now or to wait. You may find yourself settled deep in this season. Then relax, I’m certainly not here to make you feel guilty.  This post might not be for you.

    But for those whose next step feels huge…

    …whose God-calling or heart-vision looms larger than life…who are afraid and maybe tempted to give up…

    DON’T.

    If you can’t run with the vision right now, walk it.  If you can’t walk, crawl it.

    Little by little, baby step by baby step — live into the big, the hard, the impossible of it all. Take fear along if necessary, just don’t let her run the show.

    I believe God is with you, for you!  Keep moving forward.

    ::

     

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      the power of story

      I’ve spent the last several months intentionally connecting with different women.

      I spoke with my three daughters, other family members, close friends, cousins. Sometimes only once, but often multiple times. It felt important to allow ample space (and grace) for questions and reflections.

      At my invitation, each conversation centered on one thing:

      Sharing my story.

      Well, at least some unspoken parts.

      Pieces of my life everyone understood as having a background, but parts not discussed face to face, much less heart to heart.

      After thought, counsel and a good dose of please-help-me-God prayers, I made phone calls, Face Timed (is that a word?) and sat across from women holding intimate space in my life.

      We talked…a lot.

      We cried, took plenty of deep breaths. Question after question rose softly and loudly.

      There was Silence. Anger. Disbelief.

      Apologies. Sorrow. Regrets and finally PEACE.

      It’s a story I plan to write here before this blog transitions and one I’m entertaining an invitation to share with a much larger audience.

      But in order to feel comfortable with any future steps, I wanted those intentional conversations held first. Very grateful — even though it felt messy at times.

      In the midst of these months, I pondered the power of story.

      Your story, my story, the stories of others.

      The ones we tell, the ones we keep. The ones which may never see the light of day.

      Is this really worth it? I sometimes wondered after I hung up the phone or wiped tears.  Facing details and emotions of our journeys is often intense work — laying ourselves bare holds challenges.

      I don’t pretend to understand the psychology and neurobiology supporting our story sharing with others. From experience I know it to be transforming.

      It’s simply amazing how our brains, bodies, emotional and spiritual selves literally transform through talking things out! [Other helpful tools may also be necessary, I get that].

      So I’m still pondering, wondering.

      Thinking on the power of story, imagining I have more to write in the future.

      Today friend, I wonder about you.

      What containers of grace lie in your community circles — space to offer your words to a listening soul? Alongside of relationship with God, who is allowed to hold your story and journey, past or present?

      I’m aware of the fear facing our desire for soul-to-soul relationships…

      …and the ease of choosing isolation versus the work of connection.

      If these thoughts describe yours today, may you start small. Maybe begin with offering thoughts to God, sitting with them in prayer.

      And if you feel well connected, well supported?

      Well, celebrate this of course!

      Then, I encourage you check in with a friend today, maybe your ‘strong’ friend. You know – the one who seems to have it together or you believe is doing okay?  Yes, check on her.

      May you and I make room to hold someone’s story today.

       

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      • As I just shared on FB along with your writing …
        —–
        This is so beautifully written, so real, so alive with the heart of my story, too – this past year especially – that I share it as a touch of detail in the sea of my world.?
        —–
        Thank you, Danielle, for sharing your heart with us. May we draw strength from the God above as we walk in the valley below.ReplyCancel

      deep winter reflections

      [Thanks very much for your kind words in response to my last post. I appreciate each thought shared and also hearing some of your stories. Prayers of healing for us all.]

      : :

      It’s a new year, friends.

      This one finds me anticipating the days ahead…I have a good feeling about 2019.

      My hope-filled thoughts include a desire to shed the last few years’ difficult experiences (or more specifically their hold on my emotions). I grieved hard the past 7-9 months, which in turn renewed my energy.

      Funny how that works.

      When we attempt to tough it out, our body suffers, our spirit crumbles and long-term we’re in for a messier reality than allowing all the feels a way of release (yes, yes in helpful, appropriate ways of course).

      But I’ve also felt jittery entering 2019.

      Into January my mind scattered as I tried to organize new planners, write goals, reflect on the year gone by, and wait for my ONE word to pop into mind & spirit — which didn’t happen.

      All my Type A, Enneagram 5 buttons fired off like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: you’re late, you’re late, you’re late! Did you hear? YOU. ARE. LATE.

      After several weeks of frustration, something really simple dawned on me THIS week.

      So simple it feels silly to mention, but I want to share in case someone needs this too: I’m smack in the middle of winter, my least favorite season.

      I don’t feel super energized in the winter!

      What I have noticed:

      I don’t want to declutter or Marie Kondo my house right now, or even watch the Netflix show.

      I’ve experienced resistance to every 21 day challenge, program or to-do list sent to my inbox (many from lovely author/blogger friends doing great work).

      While I live a full life requiring detailed attention to our schedule and needs, I feel much more in maintenance mode this season than start afresh mode.

      My soul speaks loudly:  Winter is not your peak time. Be okay with this. Be very okay.

      Simple and so true.

      Not sure how this unfolds every year, but right now I’ve rested and relaxed in understanding better how January 2019 (maybe February?) plays its role.  It’s deep winter. In some ways, I want to hibernate a little more.

      Be still. Quiet. Refresh my spirit. Listen.

      Create cozy. Watch more movies. Stay slow. Sleep.

      Extend journal time. Gather with close friends.

      Pause. Ponder. Putter around.

      Ah, yes. I see a gentle month ahead…YOU?

       

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      • Brandy

        That sounds like a lovely January plan to me! Winter naps help Spring arrive faster.ReplyCancel

      changes

      I imagine long-term readers noticed my silence of late.

      Over the last year or so I’ve blogged less and less. Though in reality, more and more words begged voice.

      There is a story I want to tell…several actually.

      I’ve wrestled over which words to share here (or not). I also wondered about my blogging future.

      Eleven years ago, my first post went out into cyberspace. For years I wrote about homeschooling, mom and home life, some on marriage.  I shared recipes, organizational tips, natural remedies and just whatever else came to mind!

      I am a writer. I love writing.

      My wrestling about this blog’s future never related to quitting.

      But while all Domestic Serenity posts are true to my life experiences, I’ve come to accept they were SAFE topics for me to write about.

      Quite intentionally, I focused on reflecting the quieter, calmer (perhaps happier) moments of my days as a wife, pastor’s wife, mother, homemaker and homeschooler.

      Quiet and calm does describe me well.

      At my core, I don’t like rocking the boat much. I’m often content with a supporting role rather than the lead.

      BUT…

      I’m also passionate. Fiery. An activist. Advocate. 

      In light of this, there is simply SO much more I want to give voice to.  I truly enjoyed writing the way I have (no regrets), but also sense a major shift.

      One reason a potential shift felt difficult is due to life changes.

      I struggled with just how to reflect my current life into my blogging.

      I’m still mothering and homeschooling children, tending a home, practicing holistic self-care and planning/organizing my little heart out — all topics of this blog.  But while married legally, I am no longer living with the man I married and am no longer a pastor’s wife.

      Quite honestly, life as I knew it unraveled over several years time.

      During these long periods of blog silence, I needed every ounce of energymental, physical, emotional and spiritual — to face the horrible and heartbreaking facts of my situation which wrecked havoc on life (and continues to in specific ways).

      I needed energy to courageously and graciously live out my unfolding story. Not that I did this well every day, but I tried.

      So public writing on all platforms took a back seat.

      I’m grateful for kind blog & magazine editors who supported my need to retreat. I’m slowly making my way back. It’s exciting the different opportunities ahead!

      [A note: the horrifying and heartbreaking story I refer to is not the subject of today’s post; one day probably, but not today. Right now, it’s important to me to generally share life changes and yet maintain privacy.]

      So all that to say, dear friends, changes are coming for Domestic Serenity.

      To lay it out simply, this blog will phase out in a few months time (every post archived). Another platform is already in the works, with hopes for completion later this spring.

      I plan to write several posts here before the transition. My sincere hope is you come along for the NEW journey!

      There will be no surprises.

      You’ll know just what the new website is about, when it will launch, and how I hope to create content and community for us moving forward.  I’ll keep you updated!  God willing, no more long, extended periods of writing silence.

      It’s all a bit daunting honestly.

      I’ve spent years getting Google to like me ?, the goal of every website!  There are thousands of Domestic subscribers and social media followers. I truly love the platform created here. In many ways, I’ll have to start all over.

      It’s been hard processing letting go. So I took time to embrace the need.

      Because friends…it’s time for change.

      ***

      May you enter 2019 with a deep assurance of God’s care for you and yours!  

      Happy New Year.

       

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      • I have missed your posts. I am so sorry to learn of such a life changing struggle for you. I do not know what to say but if I was near by I’d just come hold your hand for a while. Looking forward to the new year with you!ReplyCancel

      • Daniele @ Domestic Serenity

        Audria… I am grateful you took time to offer a note. Though you feel at a loss for words, I appreciate your beautiful thoughts, thank you! Blessings into 2019. Let’s see what God has for us!

        ~ DanieleReplyCancel

      • Conni

        So sorry to hear your journey has hit hard places.ReplyCancel

      • Jennifer Williams

        I am so sorry for the difficulties and challenges you are facing right now. We all have our heartbreaks, they just come in different forms. You are not alone. I pray that God will lift you up and sustain you. I understand your need for change and something positive. I look forward to your new space. Take care and God bless.ReplyCancel

      • Daniele @ Domestic Serenity

        Thank you Conni and Jennifer…appreciate your words and encouragement.ReplyCancel

      on prayers for Willow Creek, The Catholic Church and every one of our hearts

      A few weeks ago, just after more allegations towards Willow Creek’s former pastor broke news, I was in the Chicago area on spiritual retreat.

      Being physically close to Willow, I caught headlines reporting the news.

      With a myriad of emotions, our group paused to pray for the church, the family, the leadership team within an unfolding scandal….and for the women who came forward.

      We prayed too for the multitude of Christ-followers impacted.

      For the questions. Doubts.

      Fears. Anger.

      I heard of experiences the women speaking up faced.  To say pain touched them on multiple levels seems an understatement.

      What a difficult mess for so many people.

      Shortly after returning home, news broke surrounding 1000 victims of abuse by Catholic priests in the state where I live.

      I felt completely heartsick reading of intentional coverups by bishops; for a lack of transparency serving to further victimize children and families.

      I prayed and cried for justice.

      For healing.

      For Christ’s mercy upon this shaking within Protestant/Evangelical and Catholic worlds.

      For what seems to me an upside-down theological interpretation of GRACE, keeping spiritual leaders from acting upon legal and moral duties.

      And I prayed over my own heart.

      For the hearts of everyone claiming their identity in Christ.

      I believe it easy to shake our heads, feel fleeting emotions and then move on. Personally, parts of the above stories hit much too close to home. I’ve struggled with wanting to hold these situations in prayer…

      …and a desire to forget I ever heard.

      But in reality, I cannot fully separate from the hurt of my brothers and sisters. And in reality, I cannot allow the failure of man to drive me away from closeness with Christ.

      It’s time for spiritual battle.

      Satan’s goal lies in sowing destruction within every rank of God’s church. From the seasoned leader to the new believer. No one is exempt.

      Our battle focuses not on a person or institution, but on this present darkness.

      I believe spiritual warfare demands of us prayer and action, carried out by abundant humility. We must stand for righteousness and justice, with view of our own brokenness.

      TODAY friends, I ask you pray and take action.

      Pray protection for your pastors, priests, congregations and parishes. Not with fear, but with hope.

      Contribute towards a home and church culture who deeply loves by practicing accountability — an opportunity to safely share yes, this is good and no, this is not.

      Pray for the many victims of abuse, both known and unknown.

      Ask God how you might respond to their needs.

      Pray for Christ to guard your own heart, for we can be deceived by it.

      Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.  

      : :

      May our hearts be moved by what breaks our heavenly Father’s heart.

       

       

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        the end of a season :: summer snapshots

        Narrowing down our summer to a few photos is certainly NOT an easy task!

        What an enjoyable, relaxing and memorable set of days. The kids soaked up a good mix of work and play, learning and growing in new skills, and just enough boredom to spur a creative project or impromptu park picnic.

        For Mom, our schedule offered me regular pockets of alone time. My introvert self felt fed with plenty of reflection and journaling this summer. Needed as I processed next steps for myself and our family.

        I also read several fiction books my readers recommended and spent lots of quality time deepening friendships.

        In between relaxing and memory-making, I was uber productive! Many decluttering and organizational projects got crossed of my list (and dare I say I had a fairly large list). I’m never quite done with tidying up, but I’ve also learned to label things good enough and move on.

        This season moves along to the next one.

        The trail of paperwork following sports, theatre, homeschool co-op classes and the like marks new days up ahead. Our routines reflect prepping for earlier wake times and fresh activities on the calendar. It’s time.

        Ah, but summer…you were SO good to us!

         

         

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          YOUR Summer 2018 fiction recommendations!

          As mentioned in a previous post, I appreciated hearing from readers about their favorite fiction reads.

          I decided to gather ALL titles into one post! Several suggestions caught my attention and I hope to read many this summer. Maybe you’ll find some fresh reads?

          In no particular order, here are YOUR fiction book recommendations:

          (CLICK on book cover to view an Amazon description)

          I chose these fiction books to start:

          The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah — several summers ago I came upon this author by accident and LOVED the books I read. The Great Alone currently has 42 holds at my library, but I am third in line! ☺️

          All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr — I’ve heard so much about this title so it rises to the top for starters.

          Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate — along with a reader’s recommendation, I saw this book on three other ‘Favorite Reads’ lists. Time to try it out.

          : :

          Thank you for sharing these suggestions!

          I plan to update on my Facebook page thoughts after reading — catch me over there.

           

           

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            ten things I’m loving right now

            Just sharing some current faves:

            Your fiction book recommendations!  Thank you for sharing via Facebook, comments and email several book titles for me to consider. I still have non-fiction titles on my list,  but my summer will include more fiction! I plan to share your suggestions in a future post — stay tuned.

            The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Can’t. Stop. The kids and I have listened over and over (and over) again. It’s rare I enjoy every song from a movie…until now. Love, love.

            Gifted plants and flowers. Do you ever whisper a wish? Nothing you really need but something your heart definitely wants? As I looked over the spring budget, it didn’t include room for sprucing up the outdoors. We have lots of empty beds around our rental which could benefit from some TLC.

            So when a friend offered her extra perennials I said YES!  Then Mother’s Day eve I found a box of flowers on my porch…delivered anonymously. Well, thanks God!

            my cute helper!

            Formal Dinner memories. My high school girl really wanted to host a fancy dinner for her friends. I completely fell in love with the idea and we picked a date. It soon became obvious everyone’s schedules were full, until my girl had a NEW idea.

            ‘Mom, now stay calm while you consider this. But could we change the dinner to…um…this Sunday night?  She asked on the Monday before. ‘It works for everyone! I will help with everything!’

            I said NO. Then YES. Then at times wished I had stuck with NO.

            A huge writing deadline loomed ahead.

            My aunt passed away suddenly the Friday before her dinner. I cooked up lemon garlic chicken and twice-baked potatoes while searching for cheap tickets to the funeral. We realized we didn’t have enough dishes and had to borrow.

            But I am so very glad I said YES. Some memories are worth the bit of crazy.

            Bonus points — my girl did help with everything! The dinner budgeting, planning and executing counted towards her Family & Consumer Science credit. Homeschool Mom win! ?

            This quote. I agree so much. (photo credit: happyplaceplanning)

            Frugal deals and freebies. The most money-saving thing a person can do is not spend of course. I do love finding great deals and saving money when I have to or want to make a purchase. It’s a passion of mine which I find life-giving; feels like I’m beating the system or something.

            Green smoothies and salads. My body has been craving more plant-based foods recently, so I’m trying to roll with it.

            A simple facial spray. Speaking of craving, my skin felt so dry and in need of extra moisture this winter, kind of unusual for me. A friend recommended this hydrating spray to use throughout the day. I found it so helpful!

             

            This text from my college JUNIOR. She finished sophomore year!! How can this be? Four semesters of Dean’s List definitely makes me proud, but it’s more.

            Our family suffered a deeply difficult year. While college life keeps her somewhat removed, the impact on everyone felt significant. SO proud she moved forward anyway.

            **By the way, stinking proud’ comes from my southern upbringing. Texans just speak this way.**

            My selfie. No makeup, no filter? No way! I would have said before. But that was then…this is now.

            I have professional headshots happening this summer. Seems the windblown hair & beach background pic floating my blog & social media pages for SIX years now (and magazines, other blogs…oy!) just won’t cut it moving forward as a writer. I guess it’s time to come out from behind the camera.

            So that’s what I did here. Kinda like this pic.

            ::

            And you…any favorites these days?

             

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