Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEEKEND|REFRESH RETREAT - MAY 19-21, 2017

You know that retreat we talked about a forever ago??  Well, it's exactly one month away!

I had such an overwhelming response of women expressing interest in the retreat, that I decided to give dibs on registration to those people.  And well, the whole she-bang booked up in a matter of hours.  It was fast and furious, and a sign to me that there is a desperate need for this type of thing.

I so wish I could include every single person who wants to go, but the house is only so big.  If you would like to add yourself to the waitlist in case anyone drops last minute, please fill out the form below.  And if you're not necessarily interest in this one, but this is something you'd like to do in the future if (when?) I do another one of these, go ahead and sign up on the waitlist and write that in the notes section.  That'll help me gauge interest in planning for another one.  


My hope is that this is a weekend that balances the need to be filled up, but also poured out.  A restful place for the weary mom just needing a break, the busy woman who hasn't had any time to reflect and process, the girl who desperately needs some love, a glass of wine, and Jesus all meshed into one weekend.  I can't wait to report back how it all went!

The waitlist registration form and more details for the retreat can be found below if you are interested.  


xoxo,
Amy




May 19-21, 2017
Entiat, WA
$160.00



DATES and TIMES
The retreat will officially kick off on Friday, May 19th at 7pm and come to a close on Sunday, May 21 at 11am.

LOCATION

Y'all.  THIS is where we will be staying...
I'm not kidding.  And this is the reason why we HAD to move the retreat from March to May! Average temperatures in Entiat in May are mid-seventies, so we can definitely take advantage of the pool and lakefront amenities!

The house has 4 bedrooms (one of which with an additional loft with a queen bed), as well as a bunk room with 6 twin bunkbeds, and 3 and a half bathrooms.  Depending on numbers, we will figure out sleeping arrangements.

It's absolutely beautiful!  You can check out more photos of the house HERE.

The owner has been extremely generous with us so that we can keep costs as low as possible.


COST
The total cost for the retreat is $160.  That includes a two night stay at this gorgeous house, as well as food for the weekend - 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 big, glorious dinner party - and all the amazing stuff we are going to do!

Cancellations (with a full refund) must be made at least 2 weeks prior to the retreat (by May 5 at the latest). 


And if cost feels prohibitive to you, but you really want to come, please email me at tinyuprisings@gmail.com.  We may be able to provide a subsidized cost or scholarship for you.

JOIN ME
The retreat is now full!  Please fill out the form above to be added to the waitlist.  Waitlisted people will be added in the order that they were received if spots become available. 





Thursday, April 13, 2017

THIS EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY LIFE



Here I am.  I'm 40.  And yep, I'm struggling a little to swallow that number.  

There have been some funny moments.  Desperate shopping in the juniors department for a dress to wear to my birthday party, my mind awash with images of sirens going off and security guards with megaphones yelling, "Ma'am, step away from the clothes or we may have to arrest you! You are too old to shop here!"  Is there an age limit in the juniors department?  I didn't have these thoughts when I was 39, but there's something about 40 that screams middle age in a different way.  

I have read many articles entitled things like What I Would Tell My 30 Year Old Self  or What I Wish I had Known at 20. I will not be writing one of those articles. Every multi-facet of me at every age has made me who I am today.  I wouldn't be able to offer encouragement to a women struggling with body image or new motherhood if I hadn't struggled with my own.  I would not have learned to make smarter choices if I hadn't made bad ones early on.  I wouldn't want to change any of it and I don't take any of it back.

Life has a learning curve that no advice, no words of wisdom, could ever straighten.   Whether we like it or not, that learning curve looks more like a roller-coaster than a steady, upward slope. Ups, downs, twists, turns, the unexpected loop the loop.  We all start at the same point and we all end at the same point, but some of our middles are a little more twisty than others.  

Lord knows I'm twisty.  

My learning curve just decided to kick into high gear with this milestone birthday and all the introspection that it brings.  Currently, the roller coaster ride is bringing me back to this one thought: 


THIS IS IT.

This.  This right here.  This year.  This day.  This moment.  This is my life.  This is all I get and I better start living it.

I've spent my whole life anxiously waiting to get to the next thing.  I thought life would start when I got there, but then it was on to the next thing after that.  

As a child I couldn't wait to be thirteen with braces (Where I got that hair-brained idea, I'll never know. I would even cover my teeth with those silver Juicy Fruit wrappers to pretend I had them.)  In high school, I couldn't wait to be in college.  In college, I couldn't wait to pursue dancing again.  After college, I couldn't wait to get married.  When I was dancing professionally, I couldn't wait to make it through some of those rehearsals or the next set of performances.  I couldn't wait to get pregnant, to have a baby. And when baby arrived, I couldn't wait to be out of the newborn phase, the terrible twos, the toddler years. I couldn't wait for the long days of early motherhood to be over and kids in bed.  I couldn't wait for school-aged littles and a break in my day. I couldn't wait to start this blog. What did I forego with all this waiting to start and to live?  

I push my friends, my husband, my kids away because I'm busy waiting and being impatient. Get out of my way, everyone, can't you see that I'm trying to get to what's next?

And here I am. Did I miss it?  Am I missing it?  Am I missing my own life because I was waiting for something else.  Something shinier or bigger or more extraordinary.

Extraordinary.  Extra Ordinary.  EXTRA. ORDINARY.  

Let that sink in for a minute.  

Open your eyes.  Life is extra ordinary.  It is both remarkable and unremarkable in one breath.  

The ordinariness of life, I have tried to sweep away like cheerios from the kitchen floor.  I want to brush it away and get on with it.   I wanted to do something... be somebody.  I didn't intend to end up here.  Small girl.  Small life.  

But THIS IS IT.

And I mean that not in a despairing or melancholy way.  I mean that in a WAKE UP AND LOOK AROUND way.  Beauty is all around me.  To these kids, I am their world.  To my husband, I am his one and only.  To my life, I am the leading lady.  

I want to carve, "Amy was here," all over my life. 

See, feel, taste, smell, hear this.  This is it.  This is your extraordinary life.   

May we be present in it.  May we savor the coffee instead of gulping it.  May we look into little eyes and mirror their wonder instead of rushing them along.  

May we be content in our smallness instead of coveting bigness.  And in our smallness, feel the vastness of God and understand that He created us for such a time as this.  For this exact day, hour, moment, child, joy, disappointment. May we not underestimate or discount the work we are here to do, the love we are here to give.  It is BIG and essential.  

May we give of ourselves freely instead of saving our time, energy, money, ideas, and love for later, because later we'll still want to save our time, energy, money, ideas, and love.   Later is not finite. It can never be reached, for there will always be later, more, better.  Time is sand sifting through our fingers.  

May we say yes more because right now is all we've got. May we say no more because right now is all we've got.  May the circle of the ones we love most deeply know that they are shiny, big, and significant in our lives, that they are extra ordinary and extraordinary. 

May we come to understand that it is most often the little things etched in our mind forever, the things we thought were inconsequential or felt totally random or normal that make a life well lived.  

My pinnacle moments include a sunset hour stolen at a park last minute, sun glinting off water and little feet swinging high, squeals and smiles all around, bedtime kisses with my son, watching my two bigs ski down a mountain while remembering when they were still cocooned inside me, that I got to take part in an extraordinary, ordinary miracle growing them and making life and now they are little people sailing away on skis like it's nothing, a $2 creative ice cream date with my husband so many years ago, a long dinner with friends. 

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die, and I'm pretty sure these are some of the things I will see.  I doubt I will see the things I strived for, the manufactured mountaintops that only last for a second.  I doubt I will see the promotion or the time I fit into size 4 jeans.  I doubt I will see how many readers or likes or comments I got.  

I will see faces.  Faces.  Faces.  Faces.  Ordinary faces that were extraordinary because our lives intersected, and we chose to live it boldly, fully, richly.  We chose to be present and bump into each other and sift our sand together.

This is it.  Now is the time.  This is the opportunity, your happily ever after, your for better or for worse.  This is your life, your love, your people.  And these are your faces right before you.  

Don't miss it.  



Monday, March 6, 2017

7 WAYS TO QUIET TECHNOLOGY



I recently posted on why I feel the need to quiet technology in my life right now.  If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Today I'm sharing the steps I'm taking in limiting phone use and social media in my life and simple actions that are making a big difference.  

1. WEAR A WATCH
A few years ago, I asked for a watch for my birthday, because I realized that I was often pulling out my phone to check the time.   When you innocently pull out your phone to simply check the time, you also see any notifications you have (a text, voicemail, push notifications from social media, etc.). Too often, the temptation to then read that text, listen to that voicemail, or find out exactly what so-in-so commented on your Facebook post causes that quick time check to spiral into a time suck. Instead of quickly knowing what time it is and going back to playing with my kids or doing whatever it is I'm doing, I am suddenly replying to something that doesn't need my immediate attention or scrolling mindlessly through my Instagram feed, and subsequently shooing my kids away or burning dinner.

So, I now wear a watch, and if I need to check the time, I glance at my wrist.  No push notifications included.  No rabbit trail to go down.

2.  HANG A CLOCK
Along the same lines as wearing a watch, I recently hung a clock in our home that I can see from pretty much anywhere on our main floor.  I didn't know how much I would appreciate that in addition to the watch.  The kids and I both now know what time it is at a moment's glance...which means that they too also aren't tempted to ask for my phone when they see me pull it out to check the time.  No arguments with them over refusing to let them look at pictures on it or play a game.  Out of sight, out of mind, folks!  I swear.

3. GET AN IPHONE CASE WITH A COVER
I requested an new iPhone case for my birthday this year.  It's this one from Amazon.  What I love about this is that I can't see when my screen lights up.  I check my phone when I want to check it and when I have time to check it.  

4. PUT IT AWAY
The other "quieting technology" benefit of my new iPhone case is that it's just a little bit too bulky too feel comfortable in my back pocket, which is where I would normally carry my phone.   I purposefully chose this case for this reason.  I do not need to have my phone on my person at all times, so when I'm out and about I put it in my diaper bag or purse or sometimes my jacket pocket if I'm not carrying one of those things.  

I also have been trying to put my phone away at home.  I put it in one spot (usually the kitchen counter) and not move it if we go to the basement or upstairs for something.  And if I'm feeling really brave and feisty, I'll plug it in upstairs in my bedroom and leave it there.  So not a big deal, but due the expectations of our culture, it feels like a big deal.  I will say though, the more and I do it, the easier it gets.  

There is something mental about having your phone so close to you all the time...pressure that you don't even know you're feeling about meeting expectations to be available to everyone at all times.  And what does that teach my children about what I value?  I lead by example.  If I don't want my kids to be those kids that are constantly on their phones without ever looking up, socially awkward because they don't know how to look someone in the eye and have an actual conversation, distracted all the time, addicted to their phones and the dopamine hit that happens when they get a text or check social media, and having an unrealistic view of real life and impossible expectations, then I can't be that person either.  

My children will emulate what I do, not what I say.

5. TURN OFF PUSH NOTIFICATIONS
This one has been huge.  I have turned off all notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and basically all apps on my phone.  If you have a iPhone, open the Settings App and look for the Notifications Tab (mine is 5 from the top with a red icon).  Once you go into this, you can choose toggle off Allow Notifications for each app.  I do still receive text notifications, phone notifications and notifications from our bank if our account is getting low, but have opted out of push notifications for just about everything else. 

6. BLOCK TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
As you can see, a lot of these things bleed into other things.  Turning off push notifications put social media and my phone in general back on my terms and in my own time.  If I post something, I'm way less distracted by it because I'm not seeing every time someone likes it or comments.  I can choose to open things when I want and when I have time.  

My system is definitely not perfect and I am not super stringent at this point, but instead of looking at social media 10 times a day in tiny spurts here and there, I'm choosing to wait until I have a block of time that I want to devote to it.  Sometimes that means during nap time and sometimes that means at night after kids go to bed and sometimes that means that I don't look at it at all in a day and I'm refreshingly ok with that.  

My FOMO is not longer getting the best of me, because I'm realizing that I'm not really missing out on anything on social media.  However, if I am distracted by it all the time, I am missing out on my real life.  And that, my friends, is something to think about.  

7. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO SAY NO
Out of all the things on this list, this one is by far the most impactful, but also the hardest (at least in the beginning for me to do).  I want people to think I'm responsible and responsive when they are texting or emailing about something, but I'm not sure over the years when, "I'll get back to you in a day or so," became, "I'll get back to you immediately or in a few minutes or else you'll think I'm a schmuck."  

I'm giving myself permission to not respond to things immediately if it's not a good time, and to stop feeling guilty if I don't.  I'm giving myself permission to not care what people think if I'm not available to them any time of day.   I'm giving myself permission to not have to keep up with my Facebook and Instagram feeds and release myself from feeling the need to "like" people's posts in order to feel like I'm invested in their lives or for them to feel like I "like" them.  I'm giving myself permission to say no to all of it if I want to, and permission to enjoy a few minutes texting with a friend or scrolling through a feed if I want to.  Mostly, I'm giving myself permission to do what feels right for me and my family, because in the end I'll be a better person, mother, wife, and friend for it.       


So there you have it.  7 ways I'm quieting technology in my life right now.  This may not be for you.  I get that.  But as an overwhelmed mom, this has helped so much in my ability to start living a life that serves me and our family well.   I am way less distracted, less annoyed by our kids, more mindful of how I'm spending my time, more able to make choices that are life-giving, and less likely to get stuck in comparisons and unrealistic expectations.  That's worth it to me. 





 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

QUIETING TECHNOLOGY: THE WHY



Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"  
~ Mary Oliver, "West Wind"

I'm still on the change train these days.  There's so much that I'm sort of peeling it off in layers. And sometimes, when you peel away layers, what you find underneath is surprising.  

I'm asking myself, "What is making me crazy?"  "What is secretly stealing my joy and my time?"  "What causes me to look at my kids as a nuisance instead of a treasure?"

These two words bubbled to the surface:  Distraction. Expectation.  


DISTRACTION

A few weeks ago, my phone might have accidentally fallen into the toilet.  I know, I know. What is my phone even doing near the toilet? Don't judge.  You know you do it too.

It was a Sunday, and I was home from church with a feverish kid.  I quickly popped said phone in a bag of rice  (Arborio.  It was the only kind I could find, but I figured it would still work.) and said a quick prayer.  

For a brief moment, I felt a bit panicky.  What if someone needs to get in touch with me? What if I need something?  

But seriously, how often is a text urgent or cause for immediate response?  Almost never.  

And how often is the perusal of social media necessary to life?  Definitely never.  

On this accidental phone-less day, I noticed that I was way less distracted.  Before that, I wouldn't have said that I was even a distracted type of person or someone that was on my phone that much.  But not having my phone available made me aware of how often I reach for it in little moments, how often I check for a text or a like or a notification, how often I use it as an escape from my very unglamorous life. 

For the first time in a long time, I had a day uninterrupted by a ping, alarm, text, or vibration. For the first time in a long time, I actually felt productive (granted I had only one sick child home with me, so let's be clear).  I managed to tackle a few projects around the house and even some gardening outside.  I read for a forever long time to my daughter, without feeling that vibration in my pocket that even momentarily mentally distracted me from time with her, even if I didn't check it right then.  "Mom, you just got a text," she would say.  "I know, honey, I know, but I will check it later."  

Even my 1 year old will pick up my phone and hand it to me if she sees it lying around, like she knows it's an extension of me.  Personally, I think that's a little messed up.  

I've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my oldest.  One thing that has been so striking to me about the life of the Ingalls family is just how amazingly productive they are.  They build their own houses, catch their own food, grow their own gardens, farm the land, make their own maple syrup, care for their animals, cook everything from scratch, make their own clothes, knit their own mittens, play their own music.  

Do you know how they do this?  THEY DO ONE THING AT A TIME.  I'm so serious.  One thing at a time.  If it's harvesting time, they harvest.  If it's planting time, they plant,  If the maple trees are giving sap, they tap the trees, gather sap, and then boil to make maple syrup right then.  If they need a house, they build a house.  They aren't trying to plant and harvest and make syrup and build a house all in the same day.  Doing little bits at a time. They do until it's done.  Their eyes are focused on their work at hand.  

While I understand this is a very different than the world we live in, let's not overlook this very important lesson:

Distraction is defeating and is the killjoy to our productivity and our focus.

The day my phone was on rice, I was able to focus without wanting to stop in between every little thing to check on something...anything. And let's be honest, those things I were checking on were insignificant.  

Do you know what is significant?  Looking into my kids eyes and them knowing I value them so much more than this hand-held rectangular window to other things. I didn't have the feeling that my kids were annoying all day long because I was trying to look at something or post something or text something, constantly shooing away the "Mom, Mom, Moms!"   I saw, and I mean really saw my daughter and gave her my full attention.   

I felt lighter, less tethered to an unrealistic fantasy world, less stressed.  I did one thing at a time.  

I felt less crazy.  Less pulled in a million directions.  Less like I had to please everyone.


EXPECTATION


The weekend after Thanksgiving, we gathered our tiny humans and took a family trip to the great white north.  We needed some time away from our intense lives to just focus on one another and have some fun.  

Also on that weekend, my Instagram and Facebook feeds exploded with Christmas trees, fully holiday decorated homes, and already bought and wrapped Christmas gifts.  All finished decorating!  Wrapped gifts while watching Elf and sipping Bailey's hot cocoa!! All ready for Christmas!  

Watching all this made me hyperventilate and instantly feel behind in a season that honestly hadn't even gotten started yet.  We've never been a family that got our tree and decorated the day after Thanksgiving, and it never bothered me before..until this year, for some reason. Until I was watching everyone's best bits in little lit up squares scroll through my screen.  

I can't compete with everyone's best bits, especially without seeing the whole.  It's not the best bits that make a life.  It's the best and the worst and everything in between.  It's the realness and the rainy day you pick you tree out from the hardware store down the street and carry it home.  It's the tears that were shed when one child didn't want to walk the one block home behind that tree.  It's the hot chocolate drunk around that tree while our electricity was out during the decorating.  It's the hoping all those strands of light actually work because we can't plug them in to check.  It's the candles that soothed our family and lit our way as we decorated. It's the kids who really didn't care to be decorating and bailed about 3 ornaments in.  It's the accidentally broken ornaments and the dinner that no one liked.  It's the joy on their faces to see the tree all lit up and decorated for the first time.  Or the first presents wrapped underneath.  It's the arguments you get into over waiting to unwrapped those gifts until Christmas.  Its the growth and the stubble.  

And so, I decided to take a break from social media over the holidays.  I didn't want to feel the imaginary pressure that it would cause during an already high pressure season.  

I didn't want to measure my experience with anyone else's ruler.  And isn't that what social media slaps in our hand all too often? Someone else's ruler?  I've got enough of my own, thank you very much.  

Here's what I noticed on my social media break.

I could take things at a realistic pace for our family and not feel like I had to keep up with everyone else.  We didn't even get a tree until December 10th, and that was just fine for us.  
I cared more about the actual moments  than how that moment would look in that little lit up square.  I wasn't taking a photo in order to post it to social media, already running witty captions through my head.  I was taking a photo because I honestly wanted to remember this moment. Just us, for what that moment was, not for what I wanted people's reactions to be. I stopped thinking in those terms.

I spent a lot less time scrolling through a feed, and I really didn't miss it much.

I found I was more curious about what was going on in people's lives because I didn't already know. This made me reach out more on a person to person level, which should always be my aim.  

I don't need anyone's feedback to validate my life.


Let me add a caveat here, too.  I love social media.  Instagram is my jam.  Give me all the fun, real, beautiful, and inspirational photos.  As a stay-at-home mom, it serves as a connection point in to the outside world in an often lonely season of life.  A great, quick way to keep up with friends that I don't have much time to keep up with.  And I often need that.  

Social media and technology are not evil and are actually really great things.  We just need to make sure that they keep their rightful place in our priority lists...preferably near the bottom.  When they lead to distraction and expectation that sucks the joy out of life, when they make our kids wanting our attention seem like a nuisance, when they cause too much unhealthy comparison, we need to reign them in and shut them up.

It seems counter-cultural, but culture doesn't get to dictate what's best for me.  I do.  I told you...I'm not gonna play by their rules anymore.  

I'll be back on Monday with exactly how I'm quieting technology in my life...  


 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Approaching 40


This picture right here.  This is my best.  Today I arrived at 40, and these people, they are the best of me.  This man and these kids, they are what I'm most proud of in my 40 years of life.  In light of today, I'm reposting Approaching 40 here.  No matter where you are today, may you know that your life matters.


APPROACHING 40

I looked down and caught a glimpse of my hands and thought, "Who's old lady hands are these?"  When did my hands start to look like this?  I shake my head in disbelief.  But these hands, these hands have held my babies, scooped up the hurt child, bandaged a scraped knee.  These hands have changed thousands of diapers, washed the never ending stream of dishes from the food that nourishes our family.  These hands have hugged my friends, written notes of encouragement, painted walls, worn a ring of commitment for the past 14 years.  I am thankful for these hands.

My belly also looks different than it used to.  But this belly, this belly has stretched to enormous proportions to grow tiny humans and take part in three miracles.  It's skin has gone out and in and out and in and out and in again.  This belly is a soft landing place for my nursing baby, my 4 year old still wanting to sit on my lap to read, and my 6 year old now tall enough to hug me there when we stand together.  These changes, they are war wounds of the best kind.  Road maps for my children of their origin.  I am thankful for this belly.

I glanced up quickly as I washed my hands and saw tired eyes, etched with lines that seemed to appear there overnight.  But these eyes, these eyes have seen places all over the world.  These eyes have seen beauty and they have seen pain and they have seen a whole lifetime of things that I wouldn't trade for anything.  These eyes saw my wedding day and my handsome groom overcome with emotion for glory of that day.  These eyes have seen 8 cities that I've made my home, looked upon a new friend for the first time,  looked enough times upon that friend that a mere glance tells me what they are thinking.  These eyes have seen my babies from the moment they were born, seen their newness and their vulnerability, seen them grow strong in health and personality.  And these lines, they are from smiling.  They are from dancing overcome with joy.  They are from cheering on my daughter as she rides her bike for the first time.  They are from sitting with friends over a glass of wine and laughing until our sides hurt.  These eyes and these lines, they tell the story of my life if you look close enough. I am thankful for these eyes.  

The gray streaks in my hair keep me honest.  I can fool a lot of people about my age, but the gray that is taking over outs me now.  But this hair, this gray hair shows people that I have lived life, with its worries and its joys and its love.  It makes me seem more credible, wiser.  I am not mistaken for a college student anymore, but I'm ok with that.  I have spent nights up with colicky babies and sick children.   I am not afraid to call out areas that need work in my marriage and work on them.  I have given time I didn't have to serve others, and I'd do it all over again.  These things take a toll, but the wisdom I've gained fair surpasses the gray hair that now grows in response.  I am thankful for this hair.

My legs are shaped differently than they used to be.  But these legs, these legs have run a race of life of which I am proud.  These legs have danced for years and years on stages all over this country.  These legs have run 2 half marathons.  These legs have carried 3 babies inside me and 3 babies still wanting to be carried even now even though they are too big.  These legs walk my daughter to school, run with my son, and sway with my baby in spite of weariness.  These legs are strong and mighty.  I am thankful for these legs.

This is my last year in my 30's.  This decade has been the most changing and stretching and challenging of them all.  But it has also been the best and most rewarding.  I have experienced change and growth beyond belief.  I have made lifelong friends.  I have created my family with my own body.  I know more of who I am and who I want to be. 

And despite all these physical changes, I am more comfortable in my skin than ever before.  






 
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