Tag Archives: Grace

Hello, 2016!

Goodbye 2015 and Hello, 2016

I love the feeling a new year brings.  It’s an opportunity for a fresh new start in whatever arena you’d like… not that you can’t make that change any time of year, but there’s a new-ness in January that only seems to be found during this month.  It’s a blank slate before Spring; an empty vessel waiting to be filled.  I want to make a tradition of taking a few minutes to write and reflect on my year in the rear view and a look at the year ahead, so here goes.

Hello 2016 | oysters and pearls

health

Last January, I made some major lifestyle changes, committed to a yoga practice and did a round of Whole30, stepped down from some major obligations and commitments, and completely changed my health and outlook on life.  I am SO thankful that I made a commitment to my health, my sanity, and myself last January, and I’m so proud of myself for sticking with it for an entire year.  I’ve even managed to continue my yoga practice well into my pregnancy (with a few modifications).  In addition to re-committing to taking care of myself physically, last January I began a SheReadsTruth Bible study and re-connected with my faith in a strong way, and for that I’m even more grateful.

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word of the year

Last year, as I reflected on 2014 and set goals and intentions for 2015 (for the first time ever), I gave myself a word of the year: GRACE.  This was a new thing for me, but this “word of the year” gave me something to meditate on, a quick, one-word mantra to pull up when times were tough, and it set the theme for each major and minor decision I made this past year.  I tend to be very hard on myself in every way.  I set my own standards really high, and when I don’t meet them, I beat myself up a lot.  And on top of all that, I tend to hold others to these same high standards.  While it makes me a productive person, it also can make me a very difficult person to be close to, I know.  Each time I held myself or others to an unreasonably high standard in 2015, I practiced giving myself and others GRACE.  The big man upstairs gives me grace every minute of every day.  The least I could do was give that to myself and to those around me!  And the best part of this word-of-the-year concept?  It worked!  I mean, obviously I’m still not perfect, and I still am too hard on myself and others, but it has helped immensely.

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When it came time to sit down and come up with a word of the year for 2016, I struggled more than last year.  Last year, the need for Grace was at the forefront of my heart and mind and the choice was easy.  This year, I’m starting the year out feeling so blessed that I really had to think about what I needed this year.  After a few days of thinking about it and setting an intention in my last yoga practice of 2015, I finally had it.

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In addition to setting my own bar too high, I also have a tendency to push through the present and set finish lines for myself.  “If I can just make it until tomorrow afternoon…”  or “If I can just make it until Christmas Eve…”  I can power through almost anything if I know there’s an end in sight.  However, living from finish line to finish line leaves you wondering where your days have gone and missing the important moments that are fleeting and are what really matter.  So this year, my word of the year is PRESENT.  I don’t want to wish away this year, this pregnancy, this baby’s first moments in this world, no matter how chaotic, how crazy, how stressful, how painful, or how uncomfortable they may be.  I want to be fully present in every little moment.  Feel every little kick, taste every bite, laugh at every joke, feel every ache and pain, enjoy every stitch, every conversation, every sloppy dog kiss, and not miss out on a single thing just because I’m wishing it away until the next milestone, which would be so very easy to do at this point in my life.  2016, I’m ready for you!  Each and every minute of you.

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maiden south

A quick note about the shop:  Although I know I’ll be slowing down soon in a lot of ways, I’m so grateful for the creative outlet and community that we have created and that has evolved with us at Maiden South.  We’ll be kicking off 2016 creatively by hosting Knit Night at One.Two.Three. (our old space next door) from 6 to 8 pm tonight.  If you knit, crochet, embroider, or do anything related to fiber art, come do it with us for a couple of hours tonight.  We do this the first Monday of every single month, so mark it on your calendars, join our Knit Nights Ravelry group, our Knit Night Facebook event, and come join other fiber-lovers for some fellowshippin’ and stitchin’ tonight at six at One.Two.Three.

Knit Nights at Maiden South | oysters and pearls

thank you

Thank you to everyone for all the tips and recommendations for our Asheville babymoon trip!  We leave in a couple of weeks and I literally could NOT be more excited.  Really, I don’t think it’s possible.  It will be the longest I’ve ever taken off of work, the longest vacation Wheat and I have ever taken together, and I cannot wait to get to the mountains to explore and relax.

Thank you, too, for following along with Oysters & Pearls for yet another year.  I’ve been sharing my thoughts, feelings, recipes, knitting, projects, and more for three years in this little corner of the world wide web.  Although the frequency of that sharing has slowed down, I am so grateful to continue to be here when I can and to have met so many wonderful people through it.  Y’all are the very best and I wish I could hug each one of your necks!

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I wish for each of you the gift of being fully present… being all in and being all there and in awe, this year.

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

Let’s Get Real: To Blog or Not To Blog.

I had a bit of a reality check yesterday.

I got a pleasant little email informing me that due to the fact that I’m no longer meeting their required guidelines, I got the boot from the Southern Blog Society.  My guess is that since I barely post often enough to even consider myself a blogger anymore, they had to kick me out.  Bear with me – this isn’t a bitter anti-SBS mean girls post.  I really can’t say I blame them.  Although, I’ve read a few of those posts before.

I’ve told you about all the wonderful and crazy things going on in my life.  I promised you I wasn’t giving O&P up.  For the past two years, I’ve been posting at least once a week, sometimes 5 times a week, sharing what I’ve been cooking, doing, making, finding and experiencing.  It’s brought new and amazing people into my life. It’s helped me keep in touch and get back in touch with people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.  It’s helped me launch a business and it’s been the best creative and writing outlet I could ask for.  It’s enabled me to realize that I love shining a light on often overlooked people, places, and things.

I love writing, I love taking pictures, and I love blogging.

However, the longer I blog, the more negative feedback I get for blogging, too.  Lately, I’ve been told how selfish I am.  How self-serving I am.  How I blog (as well as do most of the other things I do) to seek praise from others.  How I should have mentioned this or that in a blog post.  How clearly wrong I was to leave something out or put something else in.  It’s quite the damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t situation.

Since I started Oysters & Pearls, I’ve tried to keep my blog posts at an arms’ length distance.  I’ve never gotten extremely personal in this space.  I’ve been hesitant to share too many personal stories or details or thoughts or feelings.  Let’s be real: I’m not very good at sharing that kind of thing anyway.  I’ve been told that was a mistake, too, in fact.  And I get it – the blogs I enjoy reading the most are the blogs that share the personal stuff in life – the real talk about marriages, friendships, babies, faith, houses, pets… the whole nine yards.  You feel like you know that person.  And for all intents and purposes, you really do.  But then you stumble upon blogger-bashing sites like GOMI (stands for Get Off My Internet – I’m not even linking because I don’t want to direct traffic to that site) and get sucked into the reality that the more personal you get, the more people will find all the things that are wrong with you.  That’s a scary thing.

But when you keep things impersonal, what then?  I have been told that I think I’m perfect.  That I’m trying to act like I’m perfect.  That by only showing the pretty parts of life, I’m not being real, that I’m lying by omission.  I am not a perfect person. I am messy and scattered and busy and forgetful and happily imperfect.  I do like for things to look pretty and tidy in this space,  mostly because I like pretty things and pretty food and looking at pretty pictures.  But trust me: just outside the frame of that pretty picture, there are most likely dog toys and/or dog hair and a cat sniffing the food and 3 pairs of Wheat’s shoes and one to five of the 40,000 bags I seem to constantly tote around.  Maybe I should be trying to show the messy side of life more.  But I’m not trying to trick anyone into thinking I’m perfect, and I certainly know I’m far from it.  I just like pretty pictures.

So let’s get real.

In the two years since I started this blog, a lot has changed. I went from simply working and coming home (which let me tell you, was a sad state of affairs), to writing this blog, to being on the Humane Society board and being very involved in that, to ramping up my blog, to starting Maiden South, to helping start a Farmers’ Market, to freelance writing for the Thomasville Townie, Southwest Georgia Living, and a series of publications by Southern Forestry Realty.  I’ve taken up (and become obsessed with) knitting.  And I’m sure I’ve done some other stuff, too.  And that’s on top of life, which is getting busier and busier by the minute.

I don’t say all this to have a pity party, for sure.  I am passionate about all of these things!  I certainly don’t list them all for the praise.  And I most certainly don’t list them all so I can passive-aggressively tell you that I’m busier than you.  Although, that’s how I must come across to some folks, and for that I’m sorry.

Lately, I’ve had to dig deep, do some soul searching and figure out where I want my life, and subsequently, this blog, to go.  I stretched myself thin in 2014, no doubt.  It’s been wild and thrilling and scary and wonderful.  But it’s been exhausting.  And it’s been hard.  And it’s been rough to be told a lot of awful things about yourself after you’ve worked and tried so hard to do the right things.  And it just plain sucks to have that self-doubt in my head now.  Am I doing anything I’m doing for the right reasons?  I thought I was… but maybe I’m not?  If some of the people I love the most (and for that matter, some people I don’t even know!) don’t support my decisions, or tell me I’m selfish and self-serving, how do I know if I’ve even made the right decisions at all? Regardless, I’ve decided that 2015 is a year for reflection and self-examination.

I usually don’t talk much about my faith, but the past couple weeks, I’ve been praying.  An awful lot.  I’ve been reading my devotional.  I’ve been reading Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer with my business partner (and a true blessing to me and this town), Jessica.  I’ve been reading Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.  I’ve been seeking guidance on my next steps in life, family, blogging, business, and basically all. the. things.

On day two of Thirty One Days, one of the calls to action is to choose a verse to memorize over the course of the month you spend reading the book.  I stumbled across the most perfect verse that has become my mantra – and probably always will be.  So much so, I even created a handy little graphic with one of my favorite pictures from our trip to Yellowstone to plaster all over every computer/iPhone/tablet screen I can find.  No need for it really, as I’ve already memorized it, and I repeat it to myself every few minutes, it seems.  But I don’t ever want to forget a single word: each line in this verse hits home hard for me.  If they hit home for you, too, feel free to snag it and use it for yourself.

Colossians 4 2, 5-6

I wish I always knew how to answer everyone.  I wish I could always have seasoned conversations full of grace.  I try to make the most of every opportunity, but Fear is always a nagging little voice sitting next to that jerk Self-Doubt.  I need to be more wise in how I treat others, most especially outsiders.  And I need to devote myself to prayer more, always being watchful and thankful for my many, many, many undeserved blessings.  As an aside: I love that word watchful.  I really do like to think of blogging and instagramming the little things I observe and am thankful for one way to be conscious and watchful of the blessings around me.

So where does this blog fit in and where does it go?  I don’t know.  I think I still want to use it to share things going on in my life with friends. Because most of you are friends!  And if we’re not, I feel certain we would be.  I cherish this creative outlet and platform, however small it may be.  But I’m afraid that it’s become a platform to promote myself for vain and self-serving reasons.  I stress and worry that I’m not doing a good enough job at blogging.  My hobbies and interests and goals are varied and crazy and different and I feel my blog going in different directions.  So if you’ve made it this far down the page… I guess I’m asking y’all: what do you want to read here?  What do you want to know about?  More about my life?  The nitty gritty personal stuff?  Far less about my life?  Knitting?  Beekeeping?  Maiden South?  Recipes?  What I’m up to?  What my dogs are up to?  All of the above?  Or none of the above?  Do other bloggers out there wrestle with this personal v. impersonal v. blog niche dilemma???

I can’t make promises anymore.  I can’t promise I’ll be able to devote my time to thoughtful, well-researched, thought-provoking posts.  I can’t promise that you’ll like each and every recipe I post here. I can’t promise my posts will be perfect, grammatically or otherwise.  I can’t promise they won’t just be a bunch of iPhone pictures of my dogs eating apples. Which, by the way, is hilarious.  I’m sure I’ll get an email or comment now about how apples are really terrible for dogs and how I’m a bad dog mom.  (I swear, I don’t let them eat the seeds!)

I can promise to try my very best to keep my conversations here and elsewhere full of grace and seasoned with salt, but I respectfully ask for the same from y’all.  I don’t know where this blog will be a year from now or a week from now.  But I do know that I appreciate the positive things this blog has given me, and I appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to read this ridiculously long, wordy, out-of-the-ordinary, touchy-feely post that took me four days to write and hit publish because I was so nervous about putting myself out there.  And I hit publish knowing full well that no matter how open and honest I feel this post has been, there will  be someone who finds fault in it and in me.

Now it’s your turn, if you so choose.  Let me have it.  I’ve told everyone and their mom what I’m feeling.  So whether you’re another blogger with a similar struggle, someone who thinks I’m just an awful person, someone with another devotional/book recommendation for me, or you would like to see more or less of anything or everything here on the blog… go ahead and give it to me.  Seasoned with salt (and a little grace), preferably.

Until Next Time