Monday, April 30, 2012

Count your blessings

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here.

Oh if there is one thing I try to help people with is when they start naming every bad thing that is going on in their life. Trust me when I say I know life isn't always perfect, there is tons of stress and sometimes you just straight up get down because of it all. But when this happens I start counting my blessings.

One. We have food. Yep, we are able to eat during the day. That is a blessing because some people don't even get that.

Two. I have two beautiful healthy children. Huge blessing, seeing as some women have extremely unhealthy kids or some have lost their kids. I am beyond thankful for that.

Three. I have a husband who loves me for who I am. Again, another blessing because some women's husbands try to change them.

Four. I have a roof of my head. Some people don't.

Five. I have a few close friends. I prefer a few close friends over a bunch of "friends." I love the friends I do have and am so thankful they are apart of my life.

Six. My parents are still alive. Very thankful for that.

Seven. We have a working vehicle. We may only have one car right now but I am thankful that we have even that.

Eight. Being able to take pictures. Because some people don't get to take pictures and capture those moments that we do.

Nine. Being alive. Getting to live is a blessing.

Ten. Being able to see & touch & smell & taste. Because some can't do that.

That is just then things off the top of my head that I am blessed with. Some are small and some are big. But each blessing counts and when I am down it helps tremendously to start listing everything I am blessed with in my life.

So tell me one thing you are blessed with today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's The Simple Things: Cooling Off.

Drawn towards a creative life at a very young age and being an only child, I was always found drawing, imagining, or creating in one form or another. Now I am the desigNERD behind Dig Deep Design Studio. I'm all about designing, writing, photographing and living a fruitful, fulfilled life. No other ambition than to find balance in myself and live an artful existence. You can find Diggers blog here & her shop here. Want to read more from Digger? You can do that here. 


As a little girl, every summer my mom would take me up to the County Court House, and we would stand in a long line while we waited for our assigned irrigation time slot. I LOVED that day. To me, that's when summer began. And it was always so disheartening when we got the crummy midnight time slots. But, when we were lucky enough to get the mid-day and early afternoon ones. THAT was a good summer.





I loved everything about it. I loved walking around the streets turning the water down the appropriate ditches. I loved unclogging blocked water ways with my shovel. I loved trespassing in our neighbors yards so we could turn their water gates in our direction. But the best part was racing back home and trying to beat the water so you could watch it come down the ditch at the back of the yard.We never had a swimming pool and we lived too "in town" to have watering holes, but once a week, irrigation water would pool in the back yard and we could run through it and splash our hearts out. Of course we were responsible for making sure the water made it to the front yard so it would water the grass, but I loved feeling the cool water pool around my ankles while I worked. I loved getting so hot that you'd just turn around and flop into the stream you were creating. 


It was something so simple, so utterly day-to-day, that I completely forgot about how great it was and how incredible it felt. So this weekend, Bruiser asked me what I use to do when it was hot out. And you know, that was the first thing that popped into my head. 

So in honor of my childhood irrigating days, we loaded the boys up in the car and headed for the coolest, non-cemented in puddle of water I knew: the lake.






Not too bad for not being able to plug it in huh? They loved it and are already asking when we can go back. Not soon enough, boys. Not soon enough.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Picking up the pieces

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here.

Everyone at some point or another in their life is going to break. Maybe more than once. It might be over the loss of a loved one. The loss of a pet. Financial reasons. Or it may be a bunch of little things that you have been carrying around on your shoulder to the point where the weight of it all just hits you one night.

{Via}

Like the other night when I was sitting in bed reading. You want to know what finally made me break. My boys playing and getting out of bed at almost midnight. I was exhausted and I kept having to get onto them and they kept not listening and all at once I felt defeated. Then everything I had been holding onto - the weight of it all crushed me. 

I sobbed into a pillow for nearly 30 minutes. I thought I was never going to stop. I cried and I prayed. I prayed so hard that I was screaming in my head - screaming the prayer, begging God. I'm not sure I've ever done that before. And when the tears finally started to slow down. When I could control my breathing. When I could stop everything running through my head. 

I heard it and it's something I'll never forget. It's one of Gods whispers. 

You don't have to pick up the pieces alone.

and he was right. Of course he was right, he's God. I had been trying to take care of it all. To deal with everything. To manage everything along with stress and I was trying to be okay with it all. When I should have been giving it to him. He reminded me that even when I'm broken, I don't have to pick up the pieces alone. And neither do you. 

{Via}

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Be a kid

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here.


I originally posted this on my blog but I wanted to share it on here as well. 


One thing I love about having kids is they have taught me how to be a kid again. While I have always been young at heart. The stress of money, parenting, being a wife, yada yada... can make it to where the kid in you flees right out of you. Even if you don't have children right now, you can still take the time to be a kid. You may be wondering what I mean by that. I don't mean throw temper tantrums, throw food or pick on the dog. I mean see the world through their eyes


Have faith as they do. They love God so much. Without restrictions. Without question. Their faith is real and yet they are just children. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. -- Matthew 18:3 


Find beauty in the small things. Find something fascinating about something ordinary as they do.


You can learn a lot from kids. Just watch them. Watch how they take in the world around them. How they enjoy the smallest of things. you can do that. Take the time to push aside the busy, chaotic, stressful part of life and be a kid, even if it's just for an hour. In order to see the world as they do, you have to be on their level. Sit on the grass, lay on the driveway & then examine the world around you. You will be surprised at what you find from their level.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

getting past the fear of me

skye is a total type-a, list making maniac who has discovered a place to unleash her creativity through blogging and creating. she makes custom upcycled artwork at her dining room table for her shop, thumbprint designs. she shares her stories, inspirational thoughts and love for handmade and connecting on her blog, neathering our fest. 

one of the biggest and scariest obstacles i have overcome in the last few months hasn't been a fear of roaches (actually haven't overcome that one yet) or being petrified of losing my father after the tragic loss of my mom or worrying from month to month how the bills are going to be paid. the hardest wall i have been hitting over and over again is the fear of me. the fear of listening to my heart. the fear of declaring who i am. the fear of recognizing talent within myself.  the fear of being criticized or rejected for that talent. the fear of simply being me. to begin with, i still haven't shared with most "in real life" people that i have a blog or that i am a "blogger". is it just me or does it seem those who don't blog look at you kind of funny when you do tell them you have a blog? and starting a blog is a really scary thing too. when i first started this one i was inspired by layla at the lettered cottage. and i still love her blog and read every post she or her husband kevin writes. but i was gauging my success against her success. um. what the heck was i thinking? blogs are not overnight success stories (for the most part anyway). i thought i would write a post and people would flock to my newborn blog and love it into a bubble of success. i was wrong. after a pretty rocky few months of figuring out that followers do not mean blog happiness i realized that i had a handful of loyal followers and i was, and still am, very happy with that. then i started realizing that i wasn't really happy with my job. i wasn't sure where this realization would take me but i knew i had to find something to make me happy outside of work since i am literally so miserable here. i also knew one of the goals in my three year plan was to open an etsy shop. so i found something that i, praise the Lord, love to do and did it. then i realized that if i wanted to sell anything, i had to actually show them to people and talk about them. i then reverted to my second grade self. what if they laugh at it. what if they call it stupid. what if someone says that they have seen much better ones somewhere else. what if. what if. what if. so i started small and shared my signs with people i was very close to. basically people that i knew wouldn't say "aww that looks awesome!" even if it did look like a monkey's behind but that would be truly honest with me. and by george - they liked them. they wanted one. they told their friends. the first one i made was for my sister-in-law's baby shower. people commented on it even without knowing that i made it. meaning that yes, i listened in and kept my ears perked for any mention of it and yes i am paranoid and was worried that if they knew i made it they would be polite and say it was nice and then roll their eyes when they turned away from me. i started turning my "what if's" into "so what's". i used what little bit of courage i gained from the feedback on that sign to actually make some more and open up a shop. i took a deep breath in front of my computer one night and clicked the "publish" button on etsy to list my first item. and then i checked out for a few days. i published a blog on here telling you guys about the shop and the new items and then i let it go. i didn't tried really hard not to worry about what anyone else said. so what if they laugh at it. so what if they call it stupid. so what if someone says that they have seen much better ones somewhere else. so what. so what. so what. about a week later i logged back in to etsy. i knew from the experience i had with starting my blog that i would not be flooded with purchases immediately. i didn't expect for anyone to have even seen my shop by that time. so you can probably imagine the thrill i got when i saw that someone had added one of my signs to their favorites! someone who did not know me and who really liked what i made enough to add it to their favorites! yes. yes! YES! this was a big exciting deal for me! and then someone else added my shop to their favorites. and then the world stopped when i got an order. an actual order for a sign. someone liked my creations so much that they ordered one as a gift for someone they loved. i was so proud. and yet - i was still not proud enough or confident enough to share this really exciting event with my "in real life" family and friends. or, in 21st century terms: facebook. that little booger called fear continued his dance in the back of my mind. and then it occurred to me... if you can't be proud of your own work how can you expect others to be proud of it? so i stomped on that voice in my head and squashed him. i updated my facbook status with something like "woo hoo! i just got my first etsy order! my inner cheerleader is saying 'go you!'" and then prayed that people wouldn't think i was bragging or showing off and they would know i was genuinely excited and also looking for positive support. God does funny things. facebook i was totally shocked at the reaction i got on facebook! it was exactly what i needed to hear from people that i knew would be supportive if i just gave them a chance. it gave me another little push in the right direction. i'm still nowhere near over the fear that still throws his occasional party in the back of my mind but i have come a long way since i first started. i have to mention that it has also been totally invaluable to have my husband's total support in this as well. he has helped me dig through piles of wood on the side of the road and sweated over a circular saw to help me cut bigger chunks of wood down to a workable size. he tells people about my signs that i would have never thought to mention it to. he even wrote in my anniversary card that he was excited to be helping me in this adventure. he is my biggest supporter. (i think it helps that i have quit trying to paint every piece of furniture we own white and install new flooring on my own.) anyways - all of that was to say this. don't be afraid to get past the fear. if fear is what is keeping you from being the best, most amazing you that you can ever possibly be then you have to find a way to get past it. find a group of close friends you can confide in that will support you and be honest with you. learn, learn, learn as much as possible about what you want to do. don't be afraid to mess up and start over. find what you love to do and don't be afraid to let it make you happy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Faith

Sarah is a Christian wife and mom of two girls.  I love life and am learning how to give thanks in all things.  I enjoy blogging as a way to share with others the blessings and joys in life that are out there if we just look around! You can find her blog here and shop here. Read more posts from Sarah here.

When thinking about what to write for this week, I honestly had a hard time.  If you've come to know me and learn my story a bit, you know that our daily life is fully of many challenges while we raise an 8 year old girl and her almost-six year old sister who happens to be special needs and medically fragile.  I am so caught up in the grind that I often neglect the "me" time.  Yes, I devote time to blogging and getting words out there, but I am talking about the solitary "me" time.  The time to connect with God.

When I set aside the business and chaos of my life, and I think about my relationship with God, that is truly where I find my inspiration.  It comes in different forms, but it all leads to Him.  Aside from Scripture itself, I think my main source of inspiration comes from worship music.

When I'm in the car I will either have the radio tuned to our local Christian station or I will have a Christian music cd playing.  I honestly couldn't tell you what is current in mainstream music these days.  Not a clue.  None.  But I love Christian music.  It's what we hear in church and it's what I listen to in my daily life.  I often come home from church when a particular song has struck me and I find it on youtube and play it non-stop.  My Pandora station is all-Christian.  Every now and then something secular sneaks in and I skip over it.



My life journey is one that is moving towards God and I find that in the music I listen to, there are often times where a word or a line will really resonate with me.  I feel like I can connect with Him with this music playing.  So, if you're wondering who I listen to, you'll find me most often listening to Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman {who just played at our church a couple weeks ago!}, Steve Fee, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, and even music from our church - Martin Chalk.

I am in the worship choir at church.  We sing with the worship band every now and then {maybe once every month or so and for some special occasions}.  When I am worshiping at church, particularly when it's with the choir, I feel so overwhelmingly inspired.  Inspired to be a better child of God.  Inspired to be closer to God.  Inspired to live my life for Him and not worry needlessly about the things of this world that I have no control over.


Easter 2011 - Seacoast worship choir singing along with the worship band


Worship music calms my spirit.  It lifts me up.  It frees me from the bondage of the challenges I may be facing that day.

It connects me to God.

As I journey on this road, I will continue to look for the things around me that inspire me to draw nearer to Him.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Late Night Ponderings

Drawn towards a creative life at a very young age and being an only child, I was always found drawing, imagining, or creating in one form or another. Now I am the desigNERD behind Dig Deep Design Studio. I'm all about designing, writing, photographing and living a fruitful, fulfilled life. No other ambition than to find balance in myself and live an artful existence. You can find Diggers blog here & her shop here. Want to read more from Digger? You can do that here. 

I couldn't sleep last night. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's almost impossible for me to turn my mind off. I just lay there, eyes open staring at the ceiling and thinking...

I am overflowing with dreams and hopes for my children. Things I want them to learn. Things I want them to feel. Things I want them to experience and remember.

But how do I do it? How do I slice all of life's little lessons down small enough that I can put them on a plate, serve them to my two small children, and make them believe that what I'm giving them has real value and they should hold onto it. That it's a foundation they should use for the rest of their lives.



I have to get these hopes, these dreams, out. I need to live them, make them real. If the only thing I'm offering them in their childhood is cartoons and fantasy, they're going to shrivel up.

Suddenly you blink and they're 5 years old, full of opinions, craving McDonald's for every meal and transfixed on Mario like it's some kind of new kid religion. THEN, when you've determined that it's enough and you suggest they go outside for some fresh air, you're the jerk.

I watch this happen to my kid's friends, and I'm terrified that it's happening to my children. I refuse to let it go on. It has become imperative to me to teach them that there is more in life, that they can have more, but at the same time making sure that I'm never feeding them false hopes and unfulfilled promises.

If I want them to believe that anything is possible, then I must lead by example. My children are young still. They have a chance to live a truly unique life, just like all children do. It is my belief, and my reason for getting out of bed every morning, that they do just that.

It won't be enough to simply say, "The sky's the limit". I must teach them how to build the rocket.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tell us - What inspires YOU

We hope you have a wonderful weekend. Just wanted to take a few moments on this beautiful Saturday to recap this past week incase you missed anything. This week was "What inspires you" here on eyl and there were some great posts about this!

 Cassie wrote a post about the different things that inspire her.

 Skye wrote a post about how music and chatting with friends inspire her.

 Sarah wrote a post about finding inspiration in her children.

 Digger wrote a post about how a lot of her inspiration comes right here - from blogging.

 Digger also wrote a guest post for EYL on Salena's blog about pushing herself to find her passion and be afraid again.

 All great posts!

  So tell us, on this wonderful Saturday. What inspires YOU?

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Inspires You

Every month we are going to have one week dedicated to a certain topic. This week the writers of embrace your life are sharing things that inspire us.

Drawn towards a creative life at a very young age and being an only child, I was always found drawing, imagining, or creating in one form or another. Now I am the desigNERD behind Dig Deep Design Studio. I'm all about designing, writing, photographing and living a fruitful, fulfilled life. No other ambition than to find balance in myself and live an artful existence. You can find Diggers blog here & her shop here. Want to read more from Digger? You can do that here. 

"What inspires you?" 

Man! That's HARD!! Your comments have been so beautiful and more times than I can count , they have either started or ended with "You inspire me…" Is there a better compliment? I don't believe there is.




It's incredible really. Knowing that there is even one person out there that has been inspired by you is enough to make you want to get your life together. Accountability is by far the biggest motivator! Hands down! And, even though I would love to claim this "getting it together" as just me, I know it's not. It's just something about being a woman I think. Regardless of whether we are pregnant or not, I believe we all have a built-in "nesting gene". We want to create a safe home, a stable life, and a comfortable environment. It's the "mother" in us, even if, for now, it's just "hypothetical".

All that being said, I get a lot of my inspiration from here, from you guys. I won't lie. When I log on and see 8 new comments waiting to be moderated, I get excited. And it's not because I want to be the "popular blog" girl, see my name in print, have a mass following, or win some crazy big giveaway. I have no desires to be anything bigger than what I am. I just want to know that somebody is listening. And I want to know that my views and messages are coming across clear.


This is my story. My life. It's a work in progress, definitely not perfect, but always moving toward happiness. So, you asked where I get my inspiration from? Besides my boys, sunshine, music, springtime, and all of you reading my words daily? Hmm… that's actually a really hard one to answer. It's not from a single source. I take little pieces from all over and put them together to create "the big picture" in my head. 

I find myself wondering why we can hear a song, or see a movie, or read a passage and feel touched, while others can hear, see, or read the same things and feel nothing. Why do we connect emotionally with some people and not with others? I mean… I log on, read your comments and ALWAYS visit your blogs. I get a glimpse into your lives and sometimes it's like looking into a mirror. Things are so similar and I can find a lot in common. Other times, it's all vastly different. Nothing looks familiar.


Maybe I'm missing something. Can anybody else put it into words for me? I would LOVE to hear your opinions. My own explanation: inspiration. There is something there that clicks. It's why you decided to leave a comment. It's why you stayed around here long enough to read my wordy posts. 

It doesn't matter if we're carbon copies of each other or complete opposites, it doesn't take a lot to find inspiration. It's in the pieces we pick up; in the small corners and rural roads of life. It is next to impossible to find it on the freeway or when we're too busy trying to climb the ladder and our eyes are only focused on the next rung. 

So, I guess I can't really answer your question. I can show you through my words, and if you look close you can see it in my pictures, but I don't have the answer really. I am my own person. I've lived through things you haven't. I've had experiences you never will. I've conquered things that have never been a problem for you. And you've seen and done things I haven't. Maybe that's why certain things touch us differently. Something that changes my world, may not cause a ripple in yours. We are all unique. That's the best part of this life, isn't it?

Source: google.com via Emily on Pinterest

I could list a thousand things that have moved me over my lifetime. But they're not the same things that have or would have moved you. I could bore you to tears with story after story of why this song means more than that song, why this scent ALWAYS makes me cry, and why I search so deeply into every ounce of my life for reason and meaning. Those questions I could answer; this one I cannot. 

My inspirations are just that, mine. I don't say that to come across rude or even cruel-hearted. It's just that my list won't have the same effect on you that it does on me. I can't tell you what inspires me, but don't misunderstand, I love to share what moves me, that's what this whole blog is for. That's why I write. And I hope that I can inspire you with my lists and my thoughts.


You have my permission to use anything I write here and revamp it and add or take away from it to make it your own. We are all products of imitation. That's how we learn and how we grow. I'm not threatened by it. The only thing I ask is that you ponder it first. Make sure what you are taking and revamping is something that moves you, not just something that sounds pretty. Take only the things that speak directly to your soul. 

"It's not where you take things from - it's where you take them to."
 Jean-Luc Goddard

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding Inspiration in My Children

Every month we are going to have one week dedicated to a certain topic. This week the writers of embrace your life are sharing things that inspire us.

Sarah is a Christian wife and mom of two girls.  I love life and am learning how to give thanks in all things.  I enjoy blogging as a way to share with others the blessings and joys in life that are out there if we just look around! You can find her blog here and shop here. Read more posts from Sarah here.

Perhaps one of my greatest inspirations in life comes from my daughter.  I speak about Peyton all the time on my blog.  She is just a few weeks away from her sixth birthday.  That in itself is amazing because we didn't know if she'd make it to her first!  She was born with multiple special needs and she is also medically fragile. As she has gotten older, we continue to add to the laundry list of medical issues she has.


This is a child who is very much like an infant in her development, so one might wonder - how could I be inspired by her?  I've said over and over and over again in her short little life that she has probably taught me far more than I could ever teach her.  The list of things I have learned from her continues to grow.

But how does she inspire me?

She inspires me to be a better mom.  I have an 8 year old daughter as well.  It's not easy dealing with all  family issues when one issue {i.e. the special needs/medically fragile child} occupies the vast majority of our time.  But Peyton inspires me to want to try to be better.  She inspires me to model to my older daughter, Moira.  You see, while I don't always have all the time in the world for everyone else around me because of the demands on my time that Peyton has, Moira is watching me and she is learning from me.  I have an incredible opportunity here to show Moira many things.

Peyton was my inspiration to begin blogging.  There were so many difficult times in our lives when I began blogging.  I couldn't focus on anything but the negative side of thing.  Peyton inspired me to look at all the good and positive things that are happening right under my nose.  All of those things can be attributed to her.  She inspired me to look at our situation with new eyes - to view our days with her as blessing and not burden.  She inspired me to seek a better and closer relationship with God.  About a year later, Peyton continues to be my inspiration in my blogging.

Peyton inspires me to help others.  I blog because I want to share the joys and blessings in the life of a special needs family, but she has inspired me to want to go beyond that and really try to reach out to people.  I know there are people out there who are hurting.  Maybe my situation isn't going to be the same as yours or the next person's, but maybe part of our story resonates with something you are going through.  Maybe, just maybe, something I have shared could be an encouragement to you.  Peyton has given me that drive and desire to reach out to you through my blog.


I'm also inspired by Moira.  As the older sibling to a special needs child who has been in and out of the hospital more than anyone should ever be in a lifetime, I am inspired by her strength.  I know our situation cannot possibly be easy on her.  I know how much she needs me and that I need to do a better job of devoting more time to her in these early years.  I know it is at this stage in her life when she will remember her childhood when she looks back 20 years from now.  But I am inspired by her and the character she is developing at such a tender age.  Moira is so compassionate.  If she sees someone hurt, she is right over at that person's side wanting to help.  She will put her arm around them or just be there looking on with compassionate eyes.  I am inspired by the fact that a small child could have the depth of character that she has.  I am inspired by her because despite everything going on around her, she is a really bright kid.  She is a voracious reader and eager learner.  She can talk on just about any subject...and she will.  This girl is so not the shy kid that I was!  I am inspired by her openness and gentle spirit. 


As our family continues on this journey, I will continue to guide my daughters by the hand, hopefully leading them along the right path.  I am sure I will continue to be inspired by them as we travel this road.  Despite all the challenges we face, it is amazing that we can find inspiration and a source of strength in our children!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding Inspiration

Every month we are going to have one week dedicated to a certain topic. This week the writers of embrace your life are sharing things that inspire us.


skye is a total type-a, list making maniac who has discovered a place to unleash her creativity through blogging and creating. she makes custom upcycled artwork at her dining room table for her shop, thumbprint designs. she shares her stories, inspirational thoughts and love for handmade and connecting on her blog, neathering our fest

as a handmade artist, or someone striving to be a handmade artist, finding inspiration never proves to be a problem. a color, a phrase, the way the clouds look, a conversation... anything can spark an idea in a truly creative and receptive mind. my problem, i have found, is successfully sorting the inspiration in my brain into the correct place in my brain for future use and learning to filter what is great and useful inspiration and what is good, but not really useful inspiration.

i have found over the past year that i find really great and really useful inspiration in two specific places.

IMG_6241 copy

music

seldom will you ever find me working, painting, desiging, sanding, or anything to do with my business without pandora blaring on my computer or headphones in my ears. music soothes my soul, centers my spirit, and realigns my brain into this pattern that sees one thing at a time, instead of the web of chaos in which my brain usually operates.

another aspect of music that inspires me is the way one word might set in motion a train of thought that leads somewhere i had never explored before. an idea, a notion, a self-discovery. the power of music is amazing to me. it allows creative growth but keeps me all aligned all at the same time.

this is where the filtering comes in. sometimes (most of the time when it involves music) the idea is great and something i should really take into consideration for my business or personal growth. i jot it down in my inspiration journal. then after i'm done with what i'm doing, (thanks to cassie for this great bit of advice) i come back to it and reevaluate. does it still sound as good? is it overdone? would i buy it? is it something i'd be proud to claim as my own, be it a product, a behavior, or a blog post - it has to be something i will stand behind 120% or i just can't commit to it.

if it just an errant thought i will let it go. if it is important it will show up again in the future. i'm sure of it.

yahoo conversation

chatting with friends

the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. i find great resources and inspiration in the blog world and through some of my best blogging buddies. i cherish this resource and all the information it provides. however, the answers i find on the internet from people who are going through a similar phase in life are exactly the same thing, over and over again. they don't produce the same results for me, so why do i keep trying it that way?

when i reach this point of crazy frustration, i just need an outsider perspective.

sometimes i turn to my husband. he is always grounded and is always good at reminding me where my priorities lie, pushing me to keep my faith first. i very easily let other things slide in front of that. (do you have that problem too?) i'm always thankful for his insight and encouragement because having him on my side of the ring is SO very important to me.

a lot of the time, though, i reach out to my friend rhiann. she is not a blogger and doesn't have a handmade business. i would say she is "just" a friend, but she is definitely more than that to me. she is level-headed, money-minded (she is an accountant! :)), and always helping me to see the best in myself, even if she doesn't realize it. conversations with her usually lead to my brain finally realizing what my heart has been trying to say me all along. (see conversation above.) and boy howdy - she believes in my like no other. she will never know how much i appreciate that.

the point i am making here is that, while it is certainly helpful to be banded together with people who do know what you are going through, it is also helpful for someone to show you what it is like outside the blogger box.

these are just a couple of the many places i find inspiration daily (heck, hourly might be a better description!). but these are always places where i get GREAT inspiration - and that is the best kind to have, isn't it??

Monday, April 16, 2012

Things that inspire me

Every month we are going to have one week dedicated to a certain topic. This week the writers of embrace your life are sharing things that inspire us.

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here. 

Inspiration

To say that just about everything inspires me is a complete understatement. Having a creative mind and a love for writing. My inspiration is far and wide and I couldn't be more thankful for it. Sometimes when I am in an inspiration slump I do one of the following things to have inspiration spark again.

1. Going for a walk Yes, something as simple as walking inspires me. The way the leaves blow in the wind or the colors of the sunset or the way the sky looks high in the sky without a cloud in sight. The colors of the flowers or the simple way someone laughs - all inspire me. To write, to create. The way the sidewalk has a small crack in it can cause my inspiration to flourish. How did it get there? What disturbed this smooth surface? This things can have a scene in a book forming in my head.

2. Playing with my boys. Oh how easily they inspire me. Watching how they take in the world around them. How they find a simple way of building blocks so much fun. How they find the smallest thing is funny. Watching them stack blue and green blocks sparked the inspiration for my button necklaces - I love how the colors looked together and I knew I wanted to create those colors into a necklace in a unique way.

3. Talking to my husband. I love talking to my husband about shop items. Getting his input and feedback because if there is one thing I know for sure, it's he's going to be 100% honest with me. I love the way he tells me stories of what happened at work, his facial expressions and the way he acts has characters dancing around in my mind.

Those are three of the main things I do that inspire me. But there is plenty of others. People in general inspire me to write. Fashion inspires me to create. The way the wind swirls leaves around in the air or how having a crochet hook in my hand - can all bring inspiration to me. I love painting a picture with words. So i absorb the world around me. The world around me is a huge inspiration for my writing.

Tell me - what inspires you?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Some photography inspiration

I think we can all agree that photography is inspiring. Being able to catch beauty on camera is so wonderful. So today we have the beautiful Laura here sharing her photography tips. Hello inspiration. After you check these tips out, then check out her blog - go put your new tips to work. :) Thanks SO much for being here today with us Laura!
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Hello! I’m Laura from Our Reflection. I’m super excited about being guest a guest today. 



A little about me. I’m a full-time working mom of two amazing daughters and an admirable, encouraging husband who are my life. I am, regrettably, a bit addicted to social media. I have a constant connection Facebook and Twitter wherever I am. I love Starbucks, the colors pink and yellow, mountain biking, and listening to the piano. My new addition seems to be blogging!



When I’m not working my 8-5 or being “mommy”, I’m a lifestyle photographer based out of Monterey, California. In my mind, I am ALWAYS thinking about photography. It never ends. My brain takes snapshots everywhere I go. My photographic passion is people. Couples, families, and children. Nothing brings me more joy than capturing those unforgettable moments that will be treasured for a lifetime. Check out my photography page by clicking here.



Today I wanted to share with you some of my fav's and helpful tips when taking portraits.



1) Time of day. Its all about lighting. The best pictures will be taken the 2 hours after sunrise and the 2-hours prior to sunset. This gives everyone that natural "glow."



2) Don't go crazy buying expensive equipment but do invest in a DSLR camera. They're not to expensive these days and worth every penny. {I'm a Canon girl myself.}


3) Keep your camera with you at all times. I'm one for spontaneous photos. The ones unplanned are always the best.

4) What should I wear in my portrait? I get asked this question all the time. The clothes a person wears has a big impact on the end result of the photo. They need to be comfortable. If they feel awkward in their outfit or environment, you won't capture them looking like themselves. 



5) Don't be afraid to experiment. If you're using a digital camera, the cost of errors are free. Go crazy - you might end up with one you really love.



I hoped this help you feel more comfortable with your camera. I love questions or comments so please feel free to drop me an email. 

Laura Hernandez Photography





Friday, April 13, 2012

What made me embrace life

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here. 

You wanna know a big reason I started Embracing Life? Something that rocked my 17 year old world. When we lost a dear friend. He was my husbands best friend. There one day and gone the next. Just like that. In the blink of an eye my life changed. At 17 years old I learned just how precious life was. He was going to be a dad - his girlfriend was about six months pregnant. I look at the pictures of his boy and think that he is a spitting image of his daddy from the day he was born. We lost a close friend that day but he lives in his son.

Friday the 13th is when it happened - he was announced dead on the 14th. I couldn't help but live every moment I could from then on. To be there. To appreciate every situation because in a blink of an eye I could be gone. Needless to say it took a little time, for a week or so we were all numb. We cried constantly and it was hard. But after that I realized I had to live.

I had to live life. When my time comes and my life flashes before my eyes I want to remember that I did everything I could to see the good in every situation, that I lived this life I was given with a vengeance. I want to know I made memories. I don't talk about this a lot because it's hard. I'm struggling to even get through this post, it's been six years and it's still hard but we push forward. Because that's what you do in life. you have to keep going. It was harder on my husband. I had never seen him in so much pain and to this day when we talk about Richard - the pain is still in his eyes.

But we learned. We learned to live life again. We learned to laugh and smile. We learned how to talk about Richard and laugh and smile at the memories even with an ounce of pain. I learned to embrace life even when it seems impossible.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Embracing Life….Quietly

Today we have Autumn from Autumn Asks Why guest posting today - it is such a great post and I think we can all learn from it and/or take something away from this post.

What could be more exciting than embracing life? Truly, if you do so it’s a great ride.

My grandfather lived through the depression and was career military and a war vet. He had a wonderful outlook on life and it came across on those times I was lucky enough to visit with him. Love life. Be honorable.  Live every day.  Be HERE now.

My father was also career military. We traveled and lived all over the states and overseas also. I learned much. I experienced much. And at 10 years of age I discovered the camera.  And it was in that time frame that I really began to embrace life.  (Even though I was painfully shy and did most embracing within my family and travels.)

Then I married career military.  I mean, what did you expect? How could I possibly stay in one place? There was too much to see. Too many places to travel to. Too much life to live. I had so much more I wanted to embrace!

And all these years that’s what I have done.  Place after place. Time after time. Move after move.

And all these places I’ve made friends or just been an observer of others.  And I have always been astounded and saddened by those that do NOT embrace life.  Those that worry about what others will think. Those paralyzed by the thought of stepping off the path their friends are walking.  Those ruled by popular opinion, keeping up with the Jones and outward appearances.

What a waste of time and energy.  And talk about being untrue to yourself. That’s not what I would call embracing…its enslaving.

But right now we are in a very unstable place.  After 26 years my husband finally retired from the military.  And the jobs he had a pick of? Well, they disappeared with the latest budget cuts.

We are jobless.  We are far from all family.  And we have two girls that just don’t get the fact that we have less money coming in than going out.

So you could say there isn’t much to embrace in my life right now.

But I disagree. I’m not living in fear.  I know God has a plan whether I can understand it or not.  I don’t curse him or blame him or reject our situation.  Don’t get me wrong … I am in no way rejoicing in our situation.  After all, I can’t do anything but sit around the house pretty much right now.  Our savings are draining away at an alarming rate.  Our last paycheck is mysteriously missing and after a month and a half the military still hasn’t fixed the problem and doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to do so.

But still, I consider myself as embracing my life.  It’s a very different embracing than it has ever been before. It’s a very quiet embrace.  But it is still my life.  It is still a new day EVERY day.

It’s still worth embracing.

I embrace the time at home with my husband. The husband who spent more time in the desert than with his family for years and years as he served his country.

I embrace the time at home in the quiet. The time I am not running around doing a thousand things and wasting money on little luxuries.

I embrace the downsizing of possessions – that brings in a little more money for our next meal.

I embrace doing our clothes shopping at the thrift stores.  It’s like a treasure hunt every time.  And my girls are learning skills in looking over things and really making sure they want to spend their money on an item.

I embrace the challenge of spending as little as possible on groceries and still eating a balanced meal.  This is a skill I used to use to make it paycheck to paycheck…but haven’t needed for years.  We are rediscovering some old favorites and exploring new recipes to add new dishes to our diet.

I embrace the unknown and am excited about what is to come.  Where will we end up? What’s around the next bend?

Don’t forget that all life is worth embracing. Even if you can’t see it today…just maybe tomorrow…..

Especially if you go looking for it.

Even if it’s a very quiet embrace.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Live your dreams

Growing up Cassie always loved to write. Notes, letters & in her journal. Now she has a passion for writing. She's loves Jesus. She's a wife to her high school crush & a mother to two beautiful little boys. She dreams big, loves entirely and lives life to the fullest. She believes laughter is the best medicine and embracing life is something she does with pleasure. Her blog is Live.Laugh.L0ve and she creates "pretties" in her handmade shop called ccy designs. You can see more post by Cassie here.


Live your dreams, it's not as hard as it may seem.

I've been writing a book for months now. Perfecting it. Editing it. Making sure it's good enough. I wrote my query letter and my synopsis. It's ready to be sent. Wanna know a secret? It's still sitting in my house - not mailed out yet. I 100% believe it's not hard to live your dreams, it's getting over the fears of living your dreams that's hard. Saturday morning I'm sending it out.

Here is some things I have learned along the way of living my dream:

1. Work hard. No dream is just going to fall into your lap as much as you would like it too. I have spent many, many late nights working on my book and put a lot of time into it. This is something I want - and if you want it bad enough you have to work hard for it.

2. Don't doubt yourself. It took me some time while writing the book to stop doubting myself. In the beginning I was unsure if I could finish it, unsure if it would be good enough. I quickly realized this wasn't getting in the way of my writing, so I had to learn to stop doubting myself.

3. Accept rejection. Yes, as bad as that sucks - whatever your dream is, you have to realize that the first time it may not work. The first time you may not get what you are wanting. This is my fear and I'm pushing past it. I know there is a good chance my first book won't be accepted but I also know there is a good chance it will.

4. Have a support system. While it's your dream - having people close to you that support what you are doing is so amazing. My husband, my two best friends and my sister & sister in law and have supported me on this journey and I know they will continue to be there for me. Without their support I don't know how confident I would have been in what I'm doing - I know having them support me has been a huge blessing.

5. Be prepared. If living your dream is hard work, not being prepared to live it is even harder. That includes every step it takes to live that dream. Research it, know what you are getting yourself into before you dive right in.

So tell me, what have you learned while living your dream?