Calm Amid the Chaos

In Fire and Rain I was on a mission to find the perfect bench for the firepit area. The bench purchase was a little outside my comfort zone, but I wanted to enhance the sanctuary vibe encompassed by the yard. Well…Tada!

Once the bench was in place, I wanted a little table, or outdoor pouf to sit between the chair and bench. This is the worst time of year to find outdoor furniture, but I drove to all my favorite stores to see my options. Instead of furniture I saw stacks of unopened boxes of Christmas trees. 😮

The table in the photo was at Target, in the Magnolia section with no price tag. (There’s 3 things right there that scare my wallet.) I found an employee to scan it for me, and when she told me the price, I laughed out loud, and exited the store. The next morning the table was still on my mind, but I continued to Google ‘outdoor side table’. I saw one at Urban Outfitters that looked similar, but with shipping it would cost more than the one at Target, so I followed my heart back to Target and gave the table a home.

This entire process brought up the thought of ‘what a year can do’. There’s a noticeable difference in what the yard looks like now compared to last year, but it took an entire year to get it here. We want immediate change, but lasting change occurs gradually over time. I wouldn’t have made these furniture choices a year ago, but I’ve been pondering the possibilities for months. It’s a foundational start, but more time will pass before it’s complete.


I don’t invite people to my home very often, but this year I want them to feel invited in. This space was created to connect and soak up some calm amid the chaos.


Here’s all of the posts about creating spaces:

Wide Open Spaces, Fire and Rain, In My Corner, and Spaces to Grow.


Space to Grow

I’m reading The Artist’s Way for a second time. This year my Kindle died, but instead of replacing the device, I’m replacing digital books with real ones. Julia Cameron was first on the list for replacement, and I found a whole stack of her books at a second hand sale. 🥳

The Morning pages and I have a longtime love/hate relationship. I still can’t write all three pages every morning, but one solid page is better than none. Maybe it’s something you have to build up to, like each stroke across the page is strengthening the muscle needed to go onto page 2 and then 3. I had to smile at Julia’s description of her Morning Pages in The Artist’s Way.

“In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the Morning Pages,” says Julia. That’s one of the things I fancy most about these spaces I’ve shared with you this week. Only one has a valid reason, and that’s only temporary. The other two are pointless, and have no solid reason behind them, but when you have no particular reason you stand before the door of possibilities.

This morning my corner wasn’t comfortable to write the Morning Pages, so I moved to the kitchen table. The first sentence said, “I don’t have much to say today,” but before long I was filling in the last line of the page. What Julia describes as an apparently pointless process, is where the magic in this simple practice is revealed.

At this stage of my life there is not a lot of reasoning behind the majority of what takes place. It’s not so much the actual space as it is allowing time within that space to grow.

Feel the Music

I get excited over buying dirt.

Before planting anything in the yard this year, I needed to spread a layer of dirt. I talked to people who work at garden centers about what dirt for where, and what was being planted. The better the dirt, the happier everything grows and blooms, except a weed. They’ll grow but won’t bloom in good dirt.

I remember buying high dollar dirt for 25 cents because the bag had busted during delivery. It didn’t matter to me the bags were a wreck, I was going to dump it out anyways. A neighbor gave me some sprigs of her moon flower vine to plant along my front fence. It engulfed the fence but didn’t bloom.

My daughter found out later it won’t bloom in good dirt because it’s used to poor dirt. That vine is no longer on the fence. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago I heard this song and looked up the video. Being a woman whose heart lives in the country I know it holds true. Anything you want to build or grow begins with a layer of dirt. You might not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy dirt.

To view video, click here.

Live a Life of Band-Aids

My new thing is wearing nice clothes when leaving the house, but let’s set the bar. I live in faded, blue jeans and t-shirts, so dressing up means nice jeans, a silk shirt and smart looking shoes. 😉

As mentioned in Feel the Music, my friend and I met for our monthly coffee/tea. I wanted to wear something nice and took time to choose my outfit the evening before. Some of my prettier shirts call for ironing and my people are important enough to use an iron if needed.

When we met, she appreciated my choice in clothing, but there was one small problem. I was wearing the wrong shoes. These shoes were one of my favorite ‘slip on and go’ pair of shoes. I remembered them being comfortable enough to walk in all day long, but it’d been a while since I’d worn them and they were crucifying my feet!

It was all I could do to get back home in them. It was odd how they were once so comfortable, but turned into shoes from the devil himself. Entering the house, I kicked them off with a sigh of relief. This made me wonder what else in my life looked comfortable, but capable of pain.

I sat on the edge of my bed to inspect my foot and a blister had formed above the instep. My daughter stood in the doorway inquiring what happened and I told her about the devilish shoes. She said, “You slap three band-aids on it and keep moving.” It didn’t call for three, but I did slap a band-aid on it to continue stepping through life.

Keep living life my darlin’. Stock up on band aides.

“God will take care of what you go through. You take care of how you go through it.”

Zig Ziglar

Feel the Music

I was driving to meet my friend for our monthly coffee/tea, and heard this song. It was released in 2004, so around 2006 I heard it playing all the time. My mind began flipping through images and they weren’t all pretty, but I could see how far our life has come.

In 2008, I created an email address called abetterlife08. It was a Yahoo account and I named it that to keep those words in front of me while I worked. I can barely remember what happened two days ago, but I still remember sitting in the corner of that home office opening a Yahoo account and naming it abetterlife08. I was 10 years sober and life was better, but I didn’t recognize the man I was married to. When I think about that part of my life long enough, I can feel the tension that home office held.

In 2013 I exited that life.

Standing here in this little lake house 8 years later, I’m overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace. Did it take 8 years Barb? No, I began seeing a better life the very first year, but it all began with believing there was one. Using that email address kept abetterlife at the forefront of my mind until the time was right to step into a better life.

Feel The Music

I heard this song last Sunday, and began composing a post after publishing To Be Seen. Unfortunately, I’ve been messing with it every day this week up until the final moment of it’s scheduled publish.

I shared this song with my daughter and told her it’s up next for Feel the Music. It didn’t take her but a moment of listening it to recognize the voice singing is Pink. My favorite part of the song is how she lays down her sword to dive into the pain. I don’t do that nearly often enough, but look forward to the day my sword can retire.

My daughter is my biggest fan, and I’m hers. She is my first like on a post and knows beforehand when one is going to be published. This one was scheduled for 10:00 am, but I haven’t heard from her this morning, so I’ll wait. We always show up for one another, but the timing of our lives doesn’t always align. The timing is not as important as the doing.

If she were here she’d say, ‘Stop rewriting the post!”, but maybe that’s okay. If nothing else she sees that you can rewrite your story down to the very last minute. I do know at some point to stop typing and kick it into cyberspace.

That’s all I know so far.

To Be Seen

“It’s better to be seen than viewed”, said the cashier at the gas station. That phrase has stuck with me for almost a year. We were just making small talk, and then those words fell out of his mouth as I headed toward the door.

The people who walk through our lives are important, and we need to pay attention to who steps in and what they say because most have a message.

When we first moved here, there weren’t many people walking this neighborhood. There was the occasional runner, or someone would zoom by on a bicycle, but no one just strolling the streets. A year ago I began a simple habit of walking to the end of the street as a friendly presence in the neighborhood. I’ve met a good many neighbors and been doing this for long enough now, when they see me coming they stop and talk.

The time or day doesn’t matter so much as the doing.

This is not considered exercise. I literally step outside in whatever I’m wearing and stroll the nearby streets. My daughter got tickled at me one day when I walked out the door and forgot to leave my glasses at home. I was wrapped up in my favorite cardigan and my glasses were still sitting atop my head as we strolled, but it didn’t bother me because I want to be seen for who I am.

A writer.

To be a writer, you need to release your words. To be a good neighbor, you need to keep them.

An excerpt from the book.

I enjoyed all of your fun comments on my previous post Embracing the New. Here’s a couple of photos I shared in my Fearless community taken with my new phone. I wanted to capture the tiny detail of the yellow flower blooming, and it did that, but it also but picked up every vein in the leaves. I love how the pot sitting below is blurry like it’s not supposed to be the focus.

Focused on the details.
The bigger picture.

We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know.

Pg. 48 of ‘A Right to Write’, by Julia Cameron.

Here’s to showing up in true form and allowing ourselves to be seen. Much love-Barb.

That’s My God

It’s the little things in life that never cease to amuse me. Standing at my kitchen window after an hour’s worth of steady rain, looking at the plants I just watered yesterday. A smile came to my lips as I chuckled at the conversation I was having with God in my heart.

The weather forecast wasn’t calling for rain, but I can’t rely on weather predictions. The best way to know the weather around here is by noticing what it’s doing. God wants to be noticed and it was like He was saying, “If you’d waited Barb, you would have seen my plan for those plants.” We have conversations like that more than we should.

I depend on God in every situation, but sometimes I run ahead. One of my most spoken prayers is, “Here’s my life. I lay it at your feet. Your will be done, not mine.” Then I go on about my day with my plans and actions, so I’m grateful when God shows up with a similar plan, only better.

Life is amusing when it comes down to my plan versus God’s plan, and it’s instances like these that continue to amuse me. That’s my God.

A Beautiful Morning

I’ve been thinking about this, and had a vision I’d like to share. It took some thought and planning ahead, but it’s well worth every effort. The first thing I saw to do was to scrub the beach rug clean.

It’s odd, but in January hundreds of birds fly overhead all day long dropping red berries. My truck looks like it lost a paintball match and everything is covered in bright, red, splatters, including my front porch. That is where the beach rug resides.

The beach rug laying on the front porch.

For me this year, outside is where I see a sacred space. To sit Yogi style on the rug at sunrise, wrapped in a warm blanket, and tap into the sights and sounds of the early morning. I imagine it being like unguided meditation at it’s best.

What is a beautiful morning?

It’s about creating some space for meditation, reflection, movement, writing, or anything else you’d like to have room for in your life. And finding some space in the mornings for that, a sacred space that takes advantage of the quiet and beautiful light of the mornings.

Leo Babauta-Zenhabits.net

After posting a good night’s sleep I learned as soon as my eyes open, to sit up in the middle of the bed immediately. To sip a glass of water and give my body a chance to catch up with my brain. Sitting in the middle of the bed meditating in that quiet, stillness of the morning is beautiful for me, but recently I find myself gazing out windows often. Like my heart is nudging me outside.

The front porch is clean and waiting.

Let’s follow the heart outside and see what we learn by being present in the early morning light. I’ll let you know where this leads, but in the meantime I wish you a beautiful morning.