Goodbye-ish

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I discovered blogging while planning my wedding. It was the internet just before the full-force arrival of Pinterest, and I spent hours Googling and wandering the digital streets looking for ideas. I found a dozen or so blogs about weddings, and I dove into their archives with wild abandon. From there I discovered personal blogs popping up all across the Web, and it wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to join those fledgling writers.

Fast-forward six years (wow, really, six years?!), and we have this little corner of digital space. By now, I have been blogging for almost as long as the life of my marriage (give or take a month or two) and for the entirety of Little Rabbit’s life.

Friends, I feel internet-old. 

A lot has changed in six years, and I’ve been feeling for a while like I don’t fit here anymore. I love this space, and it’s been a lot of fun growing and making it–but it’s not quite right for me now. That hustle isn’t my thing. I’ve been longing to pull back and rethink and move my focus. So it’s time for something different.

I’m moving myself back to a wee thing of a blog, and this space will be gone soon. Actually, it’ll be gone on Thursday (1/19). I know, I know, nothing like short notice. Sorry. I feel like I owe you all the explanations, but I don’t really have them (and I’m guessing you feel differently about that, anyway). It just isn’t working for me like this, and I feel like a blank slate is the only thing that will. So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m not actually leaving the internet, though. I’m still going to blog over here (http://wildlittleflowers.blogspot.com/), but differently. That space is going to be a little slower and a little more personal than Hello Neverland has been–think family, our life, and the way we do things. If that’s your jam, then I’ll certainly be seeing you around. And you can always find me on Instagram. In fact, I hope you will. (NOTE: If you’re a Hello Neverland follower on Bloglovin, you don’t have to do anything. I’ve moved all my followers over to the new blog, so you can just keep on keepin’ on!)

Thanks for everything, loves. I’ll be seeing you.

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What Falls from the Sky [book review]

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A girl gives up the internet–completely and cold turkey–for an entire year. In the process, she rediscovers her faith and finds a new way to live. That’s the premise of this book, and I have to admit that I went in with one eye on the text and the other on my own issues with the internet. I chose this book hoping it would be as much self-help as memoir.

The language Esther Emery uses to share her experience is poetic without being too ambiguous or hard to follow, which is a problem I think a lot of writers trying to adopt this lyrical style have. Her writing is lovely to read, and I found myself immediately drawn in. And her issues–self-obsession, addiction to social media and blogging and her own self-importance–are, I think, more than relatable for a lot of us, if we’re willing to be honest. I found myself nodding and underlining a lot of Emery’s words because they echoed my own feelings. More than once at the start of the book, I thought to myself, “I am this woman.” I connected with her right away, and those initial sparks carried me through the rest of the book.

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There are some issues, though. For one, some of the problems Emery comes up against never seem to get resolved. It’s a memoir, and I suppose that’s often how life is, but as a reader I wanted there to be a stronger connecting thread to hold on to. Sometimes it was the poetic style–the conclusion or lesson got lost in prose that wasn’t clear enough–and sometimes it just wasn’t there.

I also had a hard time, particularly in the first half or so of the book, following the order of events. Emery jumped around a bit, and I got lost a few times. Some of the sequencing eventually came clear, but I’m not 100 percent sure I understood it all perfectly.

But the truth is, none of the problems I felt existed were enough to make me dislike the book. Maybe it was how strongly I identified with her struggle, or her poetic writing, or some other intangible thing that held me so tightly–I’m not sure I can pinpoint it. It may have just been that I found the book at the right time. Whatever it was, it grabbed me emotionally. I actually cried a few times while reading about some of the things that happened in Emery’s year without the internet (though none of it was really all that tragic). And when it was over, I was disappointed that the journey had to end. I would say that’s a sign of a good read, wouldn’t you?

P.S. I received a copy of this book for review purposes. But I wasn’t required the write anything positive about it–all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

This is the new year

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It is the fourth day of the new year. I am sitting in my favorite blue chair with a book in my hands. Actually, there are more than a dozen books here–on my lap, on the footrest, on the side table, in the basket next to my chair, in a pile on the floor in front of me. It seems that January has brought with it new interests and a more active patronage of my local library.

The side table also holds a lit candle and a cup of tea, still too hot to drink. I’ve chosen the mug with a penguin on it, dressed in earmuffs and a scarf. It feels bright and cheerful, which is exactly why I pulled it from the bottom shelf in the cupboard this afternoon.

From my perch I can see snowflakes drifting past the window. The house across the street is white and so is the sky–it’s all I can see from here, so the flakes are actually somewhat difficult to make out. But when I twist around to look out the glass door in the kitchen I can see them much more clearly. They dance in the yard and settle onto the railing of the deck. The whole world feels closer, like a blanket wrapped tight. That and the candle–and the quiet of afternoon naptime for the toddler–create a feeling of peace that I relax into gratefully.

These quiet, slow moments are my favorite part of this present season. Not just winter, but the season of recovery and renewal I feel I am in. For the first time, the dawning of a new year didn’t feel like the release of a starting gate in a race. Instead, it feels like the slow turning of a page in a book. It’s not the start of something completely new, but rather the beginning of the next chapter, the continuation of the story. And these moments of stillness feel like hugs from heaven after the turmoil of the fall–the healing before whatever comes next.

Every piece of the story is necessary, I know that. I cannot just shut a door and go start over somewhere else, despite what it seems the world would have me believe. What has happened is forever a part of who I am, wherever I go from here. Once that might have felt harsh, but in the stillness of this snowy afternoon it feels instead like a gift. Not one I wanted or expected, but one that will make me over in a way that is more beautiful than would otherwise have been possible. And accepting that gift brings peace.

So for now I will watch the snow come down. I will sip my tea and turn the pages of my books and just let the beginning unfold. I won’t rush about defining a direction I can’t control anyway. I will be still and know that He is God and He holds me close.

We’re building a (doll) house!

Last year, I started working on Little Rabbit’s 2016 Christmas present in January. C and I spent the whole year making pretend food and building her play kitchen–which was a total hit, by the way. But this year, we got things rolling even before Christmas was over. (#sorrynotsorry)

A few days before Christmas, C and I loaded a used dollhouse into the back of our small SUV. The mom selling it to us seemed glad to be rid of it, and her daughter–who looked to be around 11 or 12–obviously wasn’t concerned about the toy being given away to total strangers. I, on the other hand, got back into the car and danced a little happy dance. You guys, we’re remodeling a doll house!

I’ve been eyeing dollhouses on Pinterest and Instagram for months. The’re not stuffy Victorian-style monstrosities anymore–they’re REALLY cute! And I was dying to make one for Little Rabbit. (Check out the hashtags #modernminiatures  and #thelittlelinziproject and I promise you’ll be hooked on the idea of making your own, too.)

I wasn’t originally convinced that LR would be as excited about it as I was, though. I didn’t want to spend the time and money on a large toy that wouldn’t be well loved. But then she spotted a dollhouse on display at Cracker Barrel. She let out an audible gasp, and she had to be dragged away from it when it was time to leave. A fluke? Maybe. But the scene was repeated on our next visit, too. That was all it took to convince me it was a good idea. 

At first, C and I planned to build one from scratch. Assembled dollhouses and dollhouse kits are super expensive (or they’re ugly and plastic), and I knew we could probably make something just as good (or even better) for a lot less. C was on board, so I started looking at layouts and decorations.

But while browsing a local sale group on Facebook, I came across an posting for a used dollhouse. It wasn’t the most attractive little structure, but it was already assembled and cost less than half the price of a new kit. It was also considerably less than we’d probably be able to swing and included some furniture I might be able to reuse. So I contacted the lady, and C and I picked it up later that day.

And so here we are! I’m currently working on redoing the exterior–so far I’ve taken off all the dark brown shingles and sanded and primed the roof. I plan on painting the roof and the “siding” (which was previously just stained dark brown–there’s a lot of brown going on), as well as the front door (which is currently red). I’m thinking a grey house with white trim and a light pink front door. (Or maybe a minty blue? What do y’all think?)

Once that’s finished, I’ll move on to the inside rooms. Here are a couple “before” pictures taken during the sale process.

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My plan is to finish the renovation project for Christmas 2017. LR has already discovered the dollhouse, of course, hidden in the back room, so we’ll have to see how long we can hold her off. But hopefully, come NEXT Christmas morning, there’ll be a beautiful dollhouse waiting under the tree!

 

January journaling prompts

And just like that, 2017 is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a clean slate. Thank goodness for a new day, a new month, and a new year.

Now is the perfect time to start (or rekindle) a journal writing habit–grab a blank book, print out these prompts, and get writing!January 2017 journal writing prompts