Monday, September 22, 2014

A Woman to Admire: Kristen Roedner

Dear Reader, I'm so excited for you to meet Kristen Roedner. Can't you just feel the sunshine she radiates from her being?

Kristen is one of the most LIVE OUT LOUD women I know. We met in Boston, circa 2002ish, through our sorority alumnae group. Delta Delta Delta, y'all!
Kristen hosts "Spread Sparkle" meetings at her home. It kills me that I live too far away to attend. She's been on me to start my own chapter.  I'll keep you posted if I do.

As I mentioned in a previous post, she drives a freakin' pink flying pig.

And there's a rainbow painted on the hood. Of course.

For the past two years, Beni and I spent the last week of summer break with her and her incredible daughter, Rosa Jane. The notes Kristen taped around her house for RJ made my heart melt. And made me excited to do the same once Beni can read.

Kristen's home is filled with art, art supplies, and inspiration.  I took the below photos last August. Two glittering reindeers and a flying pig Christmas tree are on display year round. Because they make her happy.

(Side note: I've never met anyone with more colored pencils than me. Her stash blew mine out of the water. I'm pretty sure I'd take her on ribbon and glitter though.)

But why all the pink flying pigs, you ask? She wrote an incredible blog post to explain her obsession. After you read it, you will know why I love her so much.

Kristen oozes sparkle and inspiration. And you want to know the craziest thing? She says I inspire her.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mid-Life Reboot

Whoa! Today I'm 40!

Today is the first of the month and the very first day of the next year (and decade!) of my life.   While I'm grateful that I've made it this far (many are not as lucky), I also have some less than positive feelings about entering this next decade. There's no denying that I'm really middle aged now. And it's bizarre to think that tomorrow I will be closer to 50 than I am to 30. And closer to 60 than I am to 20! It's hard to wrap my head around that one.

As I lived the last month in my 30's, I started evaluating my life. For the past few weeks I've asked myself:
  • Am I creating the life I desire? (A life that sparkles!)
    • Do my daily activities reflect my values?
    • Am I living with intention? With mindfulness?
    • What life goals am I neglecting?
  • Am I nourishing myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
  • Am I nourishing my important relationships?
    • Am I the mother/ wife/ sister/ friend/ daughter that I want to be?
    • Would I be happy with how my close friends and family decribe me?
By sitting with these questions for several weeks, I've identified areas that need attention. While I'm not in a mid-life crisis, I'm definitely in need of a mid-life reboot. 

So for the next 365 days, I'm a woman on a mission. I've set nine goals for myself (symbolic because my birthday is in September). These goals are realisitic but will be challenging as they will require almost daily attention and/or action.

So here goes! By September 1, 2015, I will... 
  • go on 40 health adventures (I'm thinking of activities along the lines of hiking, rollerskating, and pole dancing classes) 
  • prepare 40 home-cooked, healthy, whole food, family meals
  • do 40 meditation sessions (each at least 5 minutes long*)
  • fill 40 or more pages in my gratitude journal
  • post 40 blog entries
  • participate in 40 Spanish learning sessions (at least 10 minutes each*)
  • work on my book 40 times (at least 10 minutes each*)
  • go on 40 dates with my hubby (not an easy task with a husband who works insane hours)
  • snail mail 40 letters to my friends and loved ones

* I will probably go longer than 5-10 minutes. But just knowing I only HAVE to do a few minutes, means it's more likely that I'll get started. It's a goal-setting Jedi mind-trick I'm playing on myself.

As I look over this list and think about everything else that is going on in my life, I realize this is an ambitious list of goals. But hey, what better time than now?

Wish me luck, Dear Readers. I'll be posting about my progress and counting on you to help keep me accountable. I also welcome fellow goal setters on this journey. Is there something you would like to work on?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Been Busy

It's been a long while since my last post. I'm still working on balancing time between the demands of motherhood, quality time with my husband, traveling to see family and friends, and my wellness, creative, and personal pursuits (of which blogging is one.) My blog ends up on the bottom of the list. And for some crazy reason, I even feel a bit guilty about my lack of blog posts. But why, I ask myself? No one is paying me to post. And while many people have commented that they enjoy reading my blog, I don't think anyone is anxiously awaiting the next NCB update. 
(But if you are, please let me know!) 

Since I haven't been blogging as much, I'll fill you in on some of my activities for the past few months. I've been focusing on some important things in my daughter's life. Things that are here today, but gone tomorrow. And I've been quite busy….

clearing traffic jams,

 attempting potty training,

pimping my child's ride,

mastering architecture and castle construction,

(and I'm actually quite proud of these),

building a sled MacGyver-style from a diaper box, packing tape, and belt, 

(and then letting go of the reign),

encouraging self-expression,

exploring our city,

giving Elmo dreadlocks and then supervising his haircut,

and driving a rocketship-sized cart throughout Whole Foods 
while navigating wild animals and an "I want this!" meltdown. 
(In full disclosure, this might have been the first time I didn't run into an aisle. 
These carts are huge. And tricky, my friend.)

Thanks for your patience between my posts. And thank you for following Nourish. Create. Bloom, 
my Dear Readers.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Glittering Thanks

A Very Happy Thanksgiving 2013

Here's how we give glitter thanks at our house.
Turkey Craft Number 1: Glam Gobbler
Clockwise from top left:
1. We found the inspiration for our turkey on a window at Beni's preschool.
2. I'm teaching her early- you can NEVER add too much sparkle.
3. Turkey in progress…

And here is our Glam Gobbler making his internet debut:

We were both so happy with how he turned out. He's a keeper for sure.
Turkey Craft Number 2: Sending Gratitude
Clockwise from top left:
1. and 2. Making handprint turkeys with paint and glitter.
3. The finished product says: We are thankful for you.
4. Sending our love to Godparents, grandparents, and beloved aunts and uncles.

Celebrating Thanksgiving at Preschool
Clockwise from top left: 

1. Beni-Bird modeling her Native American headband.
2. The Williams family feather: what we are thankful for.
3. Side view of previously mentioned fashionable headdress.
4. A huge turkey of thanks at Beni's school (one feather contributed by each family.)

Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Clockwise from top left:

1. and 3. Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. Our vegetarian meal.
4. One dessert for each of us. 

A Night of Thanks

Clockwise from top left:
1. Gratitude-themed books.
2. Sitting by the fire for story time.
3. My art journal entry for 11-28-2013.
4. I've been recording blessings in my gratitude journal since 2002.

And one more thing I'm so grateful for…..
 you, Dear Reader.

PS: Please forgive the funky formatting and the extra spaces. I swear, it doesn't look like this on my end. I spent over an hour trying to fix it and then decided to publish "as is" before I lose my good feelings of gratitude. What a relief it is to let go of "perfection"!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh My, Lucky Star!

Last March my spirited friend, Kristen Roedner (who's been rumored to poop rainbows), told me about a whole living art camp I just *had* to attend. Since I have the utmost confidence in her creative recommendations, I immediately signed up.

Now, fast forward to early this October when Kristen picked me up at the San Antonio airport in her pink flying pig. 

The two of us headed off on the backroads of the Texas Hill Country with the sun shining, top down, hats on, and me feeling like Thelma. Or Louise. Our destination: Lucky Start Art Camp. 

Lucky Star was a Texas-sized experience. I could write several blog posts about it, but since I've been a bit lax on the blogging lately, I'm going to cram it all into this one. I hope the magical essence of the experience shines through my words and photos. 

Look at this place! Lucky Star Art Camp was held at Waldemar, an all-girl's camp in continuous operation since 1926. 

I'm pretty sure my Waldemar cabin was built (and possibly decorated) in 1926. How I wish I had taken photos to show you! There was a kitschy Western cowboy mural on the wall over the fireplace. And kitschy Western cowboy comforters on the bunks. And kitschy Western cowboy curtains over the windows. I loved it all! Everyday as I stepped into my cowboy boots, this East Coast girl felt like a real Texan. (For the the first time, even though we moved to Dallas three years ago.)

While there were a variety of lodging options, I went for the full-camp experience and bunked with Kristen and four strangers, who I came to adore.  My cabinmates were an incredible mix of women: the famous novelist, the intuitive healer, the hilarious Jersey girl who once kissed Bradley Cooper, the super sweet and quiet Houston stay-at-home mama, Kristen, and me. Six of us in a small rustic cabin with one bathroom and four bunk beds. It could have been a disaster, but it was magic. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up late to talk. I felt like I was back in my sorority house. My cabinmates and the other women I met at camp were remarkable, creative, generous spirits who made my experience sparkle.

A wide array of classes were offered at camp: quilting, jewelry making, sewing, canning and preserving, cheese-making, photography, apothocary, intuitive healing, painting, creative writing, and more. It was hard to narrow down my choices, but I finally selected:

1. Happy Painting with Juliette Crane (held on the banks of the Guadalupe River!)

2. Dreambook by Shawn Stratmann, and 

3. How to Write a Children's Story by Katherine Center.
(BTW, I just finished her latest novel, The Lost Husband, and I highly recommend it.)

Besides our classes, we could hike and explore, paddleboard or canoe, swim, do yoga, or horseback riding. And the food! Fresh and local and healthy. But most of all, yummy.  We had incredible evening programs about slow family living, eating well for the planet, and dream setting. After evening program, we sat around the campfire and listened to Mandy Rowden sing and play her guitar. All that was missing was a round of kumbaya.

I really shouldn't complain about anything. Except that I'm a nature lover who would prefer to never see creepy crawlies. And two cabins down a tarantula was found outside. And scorpions frequent this part of Texas. And a frog got into our cabin one night. I am big-time bug phobic and would also prefer frogs stayed outside. Good thing I didn't see any of them, so I was still able to sleep. Braving the wild creatures of Texas was worth it, and I'm already signed up for Lucky Star next year.


And don't worry, Dear Reader, I know you want to hear more about my friend, Kristen, so a whole post on her is coming soon.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Mom and Alzheimer's- Forever Grateful for Just ONE Moment

Me and my mama, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.
In this photo, my mom is 39, the age I am now.

I had a "normal" mother for the first 30 years of my life. But by my wedding date, she was no longer the mom I knew.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease.

When I finally became a mother at the age of 36, the "loss" of my own mother became more apparent. Strands of this deep loss are woven into my extreme joy. I see how my friends' mothers interact with their grandchildren and I feel sad. Sad that my daughter, my mother, and I were all robbed of generational experiences that I now long for. 

My mother will never know my daughter. My daughter will know of her maternal grandmother, but she will never know her. Not on this Earth, or in this lifetime anyway. I am comforted by a vivid dream my sister, Marilee, recently shared with me. In it, my mother told Marilee that when she wasn't here (mentally present), she was with God and it was beautiful. Marilee said my mother radiated peace and that Mom was the happiest and most beautiful she'd ever seen her.

I'm embarrassed and saddened to admit I never truly appreciated my mother until I became a mother myself. Until then, I focused on her flaws and her parenting faults. But now I want to ask her how she did it. How did she manage birthing and caring for my four brothers all by the age of 26? How and why did she manage to have six children when I find one overwhelming? How did she sacrifice so much to raise us all? How did she not seem to be tired, stressed, or depleted? These are questions that will go unanswered.

At the end of September, my little girl (I call her Beni-Bird) and I flew from Texas to the east coast to visit my family. We made an overnight trip to my hometown and got a chance to see my mom. 

My brother, Paul, and Marilee tried to prepare me as I hadn't seen her for two years. Mom is now in a wheelchair, they said, and sometimes she is unresponsive. Paul said he stayed only three minutes last time because it was just too painful to see her in that state. 

As fate would have it, when I saw Mom it was a "good day" for her. She was awake, and alert, and in a pleasant mood. I knew Mom wouldn't know who we were. But still I was unprepared when my brother, Mark, introduced my sister and I and she asked, "But where are the real ones?" 

My active two and 1/2-year-old seemed to sense the seriousness of the moment. She was very still as I introduced her. "Beni, this is my mama, your grandmother."

At the end of our visit, we all wheeled Mom back into the dining room of the Alzheimer's unit. We put her at the table amid the other unit residents, some who needed to be fed by an aide because they had forgotten how to feed themselves. Mom asked us not to leave her because then, "Who will I talk to?" 

I put Beni in front of her and once again told Mom this was my daughter, her granddaughter. Mom just kept repeating, "she's so beautiful, she's so beautiful" and even got teary as she said it. This was my ONE moment. My mother acknowledged my daughter on an emotional (and dare I say spiritual) level. 

Then, with tears streaming down my face, I knelt down by my mother's side and told her she was a good mother. I told her I loved her very much and I gave her a hug. And then I got a second gift- she told me she loved me. 

There is a lot my family lost to Alzheimer's disease. But on that visit, I was given one precious moment of my mother, myself, and my daughter all together; and my mom was as aware as she could possibly be. She was moved to tears by my child, and it was a beautiful ONE moment. That moment is all I will likely ever have. So I will hold onto it. And repeat it often to my daughter. And forever be grateful. Forever grateful for ONE moment.


Dear Reader, please take note:

November is the month to celebrate gratitude. It also happens to be my mom's birthday month and National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. For all of these reasons, I dedicate this post to my loving mother, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.

Several years ago I wrote a post about my mom's Alzheimer's called Reflections from the Old Folk's Home. This was before her mental state deteriorated so much that she needed to be moved away from my father's care and into full-time care in the Alzheimer's unit.

A version of this current post first appeared on Voices from the 'Ville.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mama's Back-to-School Routine

Back-to-school prep means getting your little one(s) ready for a new academic year; buying backbacks, notebooks, and number two pencils. It's a time of excitement, new beginnings, and brand-new shoes. 

Take advantage of this fresh start! Reassess your personal or family goals and then plan action steps. You can do it! 

For example, here are my goals for the upcoming semester:

1. Continue to exercise 2-5x a week.

2. Carve out designated writing times 2 or more times a week.

And here's my action plan:

1. Check out the yoga and Zumba schedule at my gym and add classes into my Google calendar each week. 

2. Schedule at least two weekly sessions of writing time. 

3. Invite girlfriends for gym, walking, or writing/work dates. 

4. Track my weekly progress in my goal notebook.

My big plan is to head to the gym right after preschool drop off (before I get side-tracked with other to-dos), work out, and then meet a girlfriend in the cafe for a "work" date. By putting these appointments on my calendar, I'm honoring my stated priorities. But I took a second step as well- writing down my goals and putting them on my bathroom mirror. I figured a motivational quote and some glitter couldn't hurt either. Now I have a gentle (and sparkly) reminder of my intentions that I'll see several times a day.

So, Dear Reader, what are your personal or family goals for the next semester? Take a moment to write them down and plan action steps. Put them in your calender, make a sign for extra motivation, and then look ahead for the rewards.


Take Note: A version of this post was previously published on Voices from the Ville.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

10 Easy Steps to Regain Your Sparkle

I'm taking a brief break from the Women to Admire series, to bring you the following Public Sparkle Annoucement:

Several posts ago, I wrote about how the demands of motherhood dulled my sparkle as I put my self-care on the back seat. Since then, I've tackled the mama guilt head-on and I've been taking better care of myself. Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe is in full swing! And these suggestions can help you even if you don't have little energy suckers darling little children. So read on, my Sparkle Sisters, read on.

Here are ten quick and easy steps you can take to aid in your very own Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe.

1. Record the Happiest Moment of Your Day.
Keep a journal on your bedside table. Before turning out the lights, take 1-2 minutes to jot down your happiest moment of the day. You will end your day on a positive note and will soon have an incredible written record of what actually makes you happy. This can be an invaluable tool for future life planning!

2. Take a Bath.
It's good for the spirit and for an aching mama's body. Epsom salts, dead sea salts, and a few drops of essential oils can work magic.

3. Meditate While You Wait.
The next time you are waiting (in line, in traffic, or for someone) turn your attention to your breath. On your inhale say to yourself: receive. On your exhale, say: relaxation. Even a few breaths can make you feel more centered and relaxed.

4. Go For a Walk.
Take a walk outside. Exercise and nature are both powerful rejuvenators and sparkle generators.

5. Clear Clutter.
Clean out one drawer a day (or a week.) Too many things can be a drain on your energy. Let go of some clutter and clear up some space inside your home (and your head.) Sparkle space.

6. Send Some Love.
Write a postcard or a letter to someone you love, a "just because note." The sparkle you send out will come back to you. I promise.

7. Catch more ZZZ's.
Forget the laundry and the dishes and take a nap when your child naps. When my daughter refuses to nap, I have been known to lie on the floor and play "night night mama" while she puts a blanket on me over and over. If a nap isn't possible, go to bed earlier than usual. Sufficient sleep is critical for emotional and physical health.

8. Start with Intention.
Consider starting your day by setting an intention. (For example: Today I am going to focus my attention on how I spend my time. Throughout the day I will ask myself, is this activity adding to my sparkle or taking away from it?) A pack of affirmation cards or an inspirational quote book can be helpful starting points.

9. Add color.
Go buy yourself an adult coloring book and some new colored pencils. Yes, I'm serious. Creating is therapeutic and coloring is an act of meditation. I know I've said it before, but it's worth repeating.

10. Paint on Your Sparkle.
If all else fails, paint your toenails in pink sparkle polish. See if that doesn't make you smile. (I even painted my toddler's toes. Now she keeps asking for more "fockle polish." Hey, you have to teach them early about the importance of sparkling.) Everytime you see your fun toes, you will be reminded of the above nine steps and your own Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe goals.


Dear Readers, Please Take Note:
The above post was originally posted here on the Voices from the Ville blog. I wrote it in response to my previous post there- Commit to Sparkle this Month- Saying No to Self-Neglect. I'm super honored to be writing on this national parenting blog. Several of you have asked me for mommy blog recommendations. Well, I highly recomend this one. After all, they had the good judgement to include me on their list of esteemed writers. (Smile, I'm joking. Sorta.)

PS: I know sorta isn't a "real" word.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Woman To Admire: Kristen Leigh

This is the second post in the Women to Admire Series. Many of you wrote to tell me how you were impressed with courageous Laura. I knew you would find her admiration-worthy.

Without further ado, here is another gutsy woman whose actions inspire me.

Readers, meet my friend Kristen Leigh, who recently took the trip of a lifetime. Alone. For 23 (!!!) weeks. Without an itinerary. Alone. (I need to say that twice.) I am in awe.

Kristen in Barcelona
Kristen sold most of her belongings, put the rest in a 5' x 10' storage space (with room to spare), found substitute teachers for her private yoga clients, and then hopped on a plane.

Who here among us hasn't dreamt of boxing up your life and hitting the open road? I frequently experience wanderlust. But while many of us fantasize about it, very few of us have the moxie to actually do it.

Kristen visited Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. Her trip then ended on a high, by visiting me in Dallas, Texas. (Insert smile here, Reader.)

Kristen in Malaga, Spain
We all have our own excuses as to why we don't hit the open road, but as Kristen proved, finances need not be one. She brought her laptop and worked in coffee shops (as a graphic designer) throughout her whole trip, and saved money by using Airbnb for almost all of her lodging.

Kristen posted this definition on her blog, and I love it so much, I am passing it along to inspire you.

vagabonding (n.) 
(1) the act of leaving behind the orderly world in order to travel independently for an extended period of time. (2) a privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit. (3) a deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible. - Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel

Be sure to check out Escape Artist Blog, for upcoming posts about her adventure!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Woman to Admire: Laura Scholz

Dear Readers, 
This summer I will be writing a short series of posts entitled Women to Admire. Here is the first one:

I am incredibly honored to introduce you to my friend, Laura Scholz. While I admire Laura for many reasons, here are just a few:

1. She started her own company, Scholz Communications. (It takes big ovaries to leave a reliable income for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship! Sisters, give the girl some snaps.)

2. While successfully managing her biz, she decided to follow her passion and get certified to teach Pilates. Anyone who follows her passions, is a winner in my book. And so is anyone who is working towards balance. And, while I'm at it, so is anyone who pieces together an income doing too many things to count.

3. Laura gives back. She's run approximately 7,000 miles for charity (in under 6 years!), earning money to further worthwhile causes. She's also speedy, frequently placing in the top three of her age group at local races.

*4. Most of all, I admire how she wears her heart on her sleeve. Read her vulnerable blog post Rape is Rape. Period. It's raw. It's powerful. And it's an important read. After you read it, I dare you to tell me you don't admire her too. 


Stay tuned for the next post, when I profile another inspirational and couragous woman. Until then, please tell me: Who do you admire and why?