Reflect on the needs of your soul -->

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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        What is salt floating? My sensory deprivation experience

        In past years I’ve enjoyed the occasional massage, especially deep tissue or hot stone. These were usually gifted for some celebration and I cannot recall any bad experiences.

        Massage done well is incredibly soothing to tired and tight muscles, something I struggle with in my shoulders especially. Anything focused on relaxing the body seems a good idea for me!

        But when Christmas offered me a generous salt floating present, I found myself hesitating. My biggest fear? Being enclosed in a pod with NO light or sound.

        After the entire experience however, I’ll definitely try salt floating again!

        What is Floating?

        Floating involves being in a large pod with magnesium water (epsom salt water). The goal is short term sensory deprivation (no light, sound, touch, smell) in water designed to make you fully buoyant. The water matches your body temperature.

        Floating offers less external stimuli, which in turn promotes deep relaxation in your body — the brain isn’t processing all that stimuli. A typical session lasts one hour to 90 minutes.

        The concept isn’t new. You can read more about the history of floating here.

        Benefits of Salt Floating

        Regular floating is said to have many benefits, including:

        • improved sleep patterns
        • pain relief
        • stress reduction
        • anxiety relief
        • improved skin and hair
        • my addition — just a PAUSE in your busy day!

        The benefit I found most interesting is a serious boost in magnesium. The water is extremely saturated with epsom salt (so it’s basically impossible NOT to float).

        Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of body reactions — and we usually get too little of it. Read more info on magnesium needs and benefits here.

        My Sensory Deprivation Experience

        As mentioned, I was a bit freaked at the thought of a dark room, a dark pod, with no sound around me. Could I just float there listening to my heartbeat for a whole hour!?

        I arrived 15 minutes before my appointment, signed a waiver and entered the salt float room. Basic instructions came next — shower before entering the pod, put in earplugs, remove makeup and then OPTIONS were offered!

        You could keep the pod open or closed to whatever level comfortable. If too open however, the water felt cooler.

        There was an option for music at different volumes, and also soft light of various colors within the pod. The room went dark upon the session’s start, but the pod could have light.

        Hallelujah.

        light and volume buttons!

        I chose to fully close the pod (warmer water!), and keep the soft blue light you see above on. At first music was helpful, then distracting. About 15 minutes in I turned it off.

        Floating came easily…the salt water literally kept me up with no effort on my part. It didn’t feel gritty or slimy, two things I expected.

        My mind wandered for some time and then I fell asleep. One hour felt like a few minutes!

        The session ended with a message to leave the pod. Two minutes later, the filtration system went to work.

        While I imagine just one session won’t change your life — I DID sleep really well that night! My body felt relaxed overall for the few days afterwards (particularly those shoulder muscles).

        Salt floating feels like something I would do again and consider including as part of regular self-care.

        Let me know if you’ve tried it!

         

         

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        • There is a spa near us that offers the salt float and I have been so curious about it. I may have to try it out. I was concerned about being bored or claustrophobic!ReplyCancel

        • Try it out Marci! ☺️ReplyCancel

        • Thanks for sharing. I’ve wondered about this and have had the same thoughts you did beforehand so now MAYBE I’ll give it a try sometime!ReplyCancel

        • I can understand the hesitation Jamie!!ReplyCancel

        what I’m currently reading & why I need to read more FICTION!

         

        I am currently reading a LOT of great books!

        No, not the entire stack above — just 2-3 three titles in there. ☺️

        In just one month I’ll wrap up a two-year spiritual direction course and several months afterwards, a spiritual transformation course.  These offered me dozens of great reads on soul care, patterns of restful living, the Enneagram, relationship with God, self and others…and MUCH more.

        I’ll continue soaking in the messages of each book and article read, and the retreat sessions attended. All this interaction impacted me in significant ways. The transformation experienced so far in my life feels amazing.

        I enjoy God in ways unknown to me before. I welcome his delight in me (this comes in baby steps).

        My personal relationships continue to deepen as I practice staying open to community. I’ll always lean towards introversion, being an Enneagram 5 and INFJ on Myers-Briggs. Still, I found I really enjoy people (groups, outings, etc) more than I thought!

        I feel more confident, less afraid of making mistakes, and more aware of how I contribute to a healthy or not-so-healthy environment around me. My passion for empowering/giving voice for the underprivileged or marginalized, especially women and children, has grown stronger within.

        Soooo much goodness from these programs! Really, so much goodness from wholeheartedly pursuing God.

        Some titles in these pictures I suggest reading within a course or alongside supportive coaching. Unless you have experience in the lingo and context of spiritual direction or transformation, the information shared could fall flat.

        I certainly would have received it this way a few years ago.

        I also did not enjoy every book — some I questioned the theological background and others were simply too dry for my taste.

        That said, several books rise to the top as great for reflective reading:

        David Benner books

        The Gift of Being Yourself

        Surrender to Love

        Ruth Haley Barton books

        Sacred Rhythms (highly recommend)

        Invitation to Solitude and Silence

        Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership (for those involved in Christian ministry)

        All this deep spiritual reading benefitted my life in BIG ways…

        …but I’m ready to put away some learning this summer and chill with light-hearted fiction.

        This feels a huge statement for me to make. I typically read parenting, theological, educational, and nutritional types of books. I LOVE to learn. But my brain needs a pause.

        So if there are book titles or authors you recommend — please email them or comment below. This girl rarely roams the fiction part of a library or bookstore; I clearly need help.

        Maybe this summer I’ll update on great fiction titles read! ?

         

         

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        • Those books sound good!!! I LOVE that you have a passion for giving voice to the marginalized. I do, too. (I am ENFJ. 🙂 Similar to you only extroverted. 😀 )

          Fiction–anything by Jan Karon! Such sweet books with a lovely grace-filled Christian orientation.ReplyCancel

        • Thanks Christa, appreciate the recommendation!ReplyCancel

        • Debra E

          I recommend Elizabeth Goudge. I particulary enjoyed “The Scent of Water”, “The Little White Horse, and “The Dean’s Watch”ReplyCancel

        • Thanks Debra! – I’ve heard the Scent of Water is a great read.ReplyCancel

        • Elizabeth

          Hi, Daniele!
          A few fiction favorites I’ve read recently are The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh), Last Christmas in Paris (Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb), Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate), and A Fall of Marigolds (Susan Meissner). Although it’s not fiction, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) was also fascinating. I’d be interested to know what others recommend, too! Love, ElizabethReplyCancel

          • Daniele @ Domestic Serenity

            Thank you Elizabeth! I’m going to compile all the recommendations I’ve gotten and put them in a post. ☺️ Appreciate you sharing some titles.ReplyCancel

        encouragement for tough times

        Right now, almost all my closest and dearest friends are dealing with tough times, difficult news.

        The last several weeks brought phone calls, emails, messages and texts which quite literally took my breath away. I heard of a troubling medical diagnosis, a stepdad’s sudden death and for another friend, a daughter’s death. There are upcoming surgeries and a surgery gone wrong.

        I can hardly find words to describe the emotions — theirs or mine.

        So I listen. I cry. I write, call, text back an I’m so sorry this is happening and I do what is possible practically, if anything.

        These women are true rocks of friendship, the best kind. Gratefulness doesn’t begin to describe my thoughts towards each of them, especially for their active presence in my life this past year. My heart aches for their pain.

        The JOY of GOD has passed through the poverty of the manger and the torment of the cross; and SO — it is unconquerable, irrefutable.  

        Dietrich Bonhoeffer

        : :

        God’s joy in our life can feel dimmed or snuffed out by life circumstances. However strong our faith, experiences on this side of eternity can just plain knock us over. At times nothing or no one could prepare us.

        The pain, questions, doubts feel large and God feels small.

        If you too friend face tough times… may the quote above offer HOPE.

        As you grieve (because it’s necessary) and as you wrestle with questions (also quite necessary), may your soul know nothing can conquer the love and joy of God towards you, for you, in you.  It’s indestructible. 

         

         

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          spiritual refreshment in the gardens

          Recently a friend and I spent the afternoon at Longwood Gardens, followed by Japanese food indulgence (no guilt!).

          We both needed a break from winter and I needed distraction from an ongoing court case. Rooms of flowers, plants and extraordinary arrangements of both seemed a good idea — and we were right!

          I relaxed incredibly within 15 minutes. This took me by surprise somewhat. For days afterwards I thought of how the gardens impacted me…how refreshed I felt spiritually.

          Growing up, I couldn’t stand being outside. Blame it on Texas heat or my introverted tendencies back then to curl up and read a book…indoors.

          While I spent a fair amount of time playing outdoors with my sisters, it certainly wasn’t my favorite activity. But as an adult I’ve learned how much I really do enjoy long walks in the woods, strolling through a garden, sitting by a body of water or just hanging out in my backyard.

          Now it’s common for me to pray, journal or read in any of these locations. I almost always feel energized both emotionally and spiritually!

          The Longwood experience reminded me I need to include this God-nature-rest-reflection time during the winter season as well as the summer.

          Instead of delaying activity which deeply refreshes my spirit, I plan to include indoor gardens as part of my winter self-care.

          My soul will thank me.

           

           

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            1.15.18

            Like most of the country, it’s been COLD around here.

            Then warm again with coats unnecessary; then frigid temps once more. An odd turn of weather considering the month of year. Personally I could welcome spring any day, but the REST winter provides I so enjoy.

            Snippets of time find me organizing. Not exactly restful, yet helpful.

            It’s a story for another time, this current need to bring order. Sorting and decluttering through the created chaos left by another feels altogether different than my normal post-holiday purge.

            But purge and organize I do.

            I’ve decided cast iron pans a necessity in my kitchen. How did I ever cook without them?

            Even when I accidentally left a pan ‘out to dry’ and it rusted by morning, all was well after a quick restoration process. Trusty, these pans.

            I still find extended kitchen time such a gift. A way to knead, bake, saute and cook my way through thoughts — and even time to pray.

            No separation of the sacred and the secular – truth?

            Our work offered as prayer suggests cooking and cleaning a pathway to God, one avenue of connection. The everyday tasks we must do take on fresh perspective.

            If you struggle with when to have ‘quiet time’ and when to care for household chores and the kids and the… well, perhaps inhale and exhale this thought:  offer your work as prayer. Pray as you go.

            The new year offers me new planners! Call it extensive or excessive, but three planners are in regular rotation.

            I’m going on my fifth year with an Erin Condren Life Planner (top navy blue), using a neutral hourly layout. For $10 off your first purchase of anything on the site, feel free to use this affiliate link.

            For a little more on the other planners, Emily Ley (middle) and the Sacred Ordinary Days liturgical planner (bottom)see my Instagram post until more details come to the blog.

            Yes there is Nancy.

            We more naturally gravitate towards a need to hold one or the other. Particularly in America, it seems we rush grieving and contemplating our losses (or allowing others to do the same).

            But there is hope. We can be freed to hold both.

            : :

            Hoping your 2018 start has been pleasant, even if cold!

             

             

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            • I love that idea–pray as you go. I am going to do this. I also love cast iron pans. 🙂ReplyCancel

            • danieatdomestic

              Thanks for commenting Christa!ReplyCancel

            • Jordyn

              I love what you are doing, Daniele!!ReplyCancel

            right now :: November 2017

            I imagined this fall to feel full and fast, and it certainly delivered!

            I would add furious too.  Growing up, my Mom used this to describe ENERGY behind something. Yep…full, fast and furious were September and October.

            But now sports schedules pause, some life events are behind us and we take a collective breath.

            Ah, November. How I really do like you.  A snapshot of my right now…

            RIGHT NOW I AM:

            Loving… last week’s birthday gifts from the kids.  They made me smile with explanations of choosing my favorite color for a new sweater and my favorite ‘junk candy bar’ (their words!).  I loved the gifts of course, yet the simple, homemade card of heartfelt thoughts touched my Mom heart the most.  Treasures.

            Reading… many books on faith, God, and relationship with him. I’m working through Year Two of a spiritual direction course and also the second year of a spiritual transformation program. Both require reading several books regularly, which thankfully I enjoy and find easy. Maybe I’ll offer another post of favorite titles!

            Planning… a blog update and life update post to share. It’s been in the works for several weeks. I’m waiting on God’s green light and imagine sooner than later. Life for me looks much differently than a year ago. It’s time to tell you…almost.

            Cooking… well honestly, not too much!  Thus simple meals for our days. I’ve contemplated doing another Whole 30 round, but really, not the best timing.  I did try a few new recipes; overall I stick to basics we enjoy and allow the children to cook away when inspired.  My own cooking mojo will return at some point.

            Watching… anticipating season 2 of The Crown and vowing not to watch it too quickly. I also anticipate failing in this commitment. ☺️ The boys (ages 8 and 11) and I watched parts of the World Series as we cheered excitedly for Houston. Other than those few occasional sports with said boys, I don’t watch much. I have plenty of reading to do!

            Listening… my 14 yr old daughter arranges the best Spotify playlists and she set me up.  Worship music, instrumentals and now I need to ask for Christmas playlists as well. Good stuff that Spotify.

            Enjoying… our nightly Scripture practice. For years and years, I have prayed over the children and sung to them before bed.  Months ago it dawned on me we should still do this together!  So we began. We light a candle each evening, gather around outlined biblical texts for the day, and sing together simple songs of faith. Beautiful. Rich. Grounding.

            Goingactually, an ‘already went’ story: this summer I visited a transitional center for women, most of whom are in between leaving a toxic or harmful situation and establishing their new normal. I am grateful for a friend’s suggestion to volunteer. While not active right now, my soul feels incredibly energized! Not by the struggles or the pain present. I am both humbled and energized anticipating adding voice to the chorus of these courageous women.

            Looking forward to… this holiday season. I love, LOVE Advent and all it represents personally as a Christ-follower. The story never gets old for me — Christ came to us.  Alleluia.

            : :

            {a personal thank you: I appreciate emails received the last few months. Thanks for sharing you miss words here and elsewhere in blog land.  I’m not at all done, but understand how it seems this way. Grateful for your care and kindness!}

             

             

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              summer dinners :: shrimp boil packets

              For me, summer is ALL about easy dinners and relaxed evenings!

              So when I came across the idea for individual shrimp boil packets, I knew it would be perfect for our beach trip last week.

              SUPER simple to assemble and make, this dinner idea remains a new favorite.

              The cast of characters for this meal include:

              shrimp, beef sausage (or other kind, fully cooked), fresh corn on the cob, a few new potatoes, butter, salt, pepper and some Old Bay seasoning (or use creole/Cajun seasoning).

              The most labor intensive part includes boiling the potatoes and corn.  Then comes putting together a bit of each ingredient onto some foil…

              …adding generous seasonings to your tasting, some butter to your liking,

              …and then wrapping it up to bake or grill until done!  Ours needed about 15-18 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  I loosely followed this recipe for our shrimp boil packets.

              Simple and delicious — perfect for summer nights.

               

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                Daniele Evans