Easter Sunday on the Kayak

♪ ♫ When you dream, dream big as the ocean blue ♪

I spent Easter Sunday morning in a kayak exploring the shores of Tampa Bay with my husband’s 12-year-old cousin, Marinna (pronounced “Marina”). This little firecracker has my heart.

Marinna Jean

She sings. She acts. And she’s as excitable as me. Rarely, you’ll meet someone who kind of… changes you. It’s as if you can feel the difference in your outlook or attitude for the next few days after you’ve spent time with that person. It’s quite impressive that someone as young as Marinna has had such an affect on me.

As I write this, the Nickel Creek song “This Side” is playing, and it’s absolutely accurate of this little girl:

“Take her or leave her she will still be the same…
[She] dreams of colors that have never been made.
[She] imagines songs that have never been played.”

My favorite line of the song is, “Only the curious have something to find.”

Marinna has such a joy for little things like finding a gorgeous field above the water, and bobbing for golf balls that didn’t quite make it across the canal. The amount of happiness I got from those three hours of one-on-one time with a creative, curious and energetic pre-teen has left a mark on my heart.

Marinna and I didn’t go shopping. I didn’t buy her toys or take her to the movies. We grabbed a kayak from the garage and set out for what would become an amazing and memorable morning that cost us nothing. It was the perfect reminder that a minimal life is so much more rewarding than wading through all the clutter. You could argue that someone had to buy the kayak, but if it wasn’t there we probably would have gone hiking or explored somewhere else and had the same result. I want to remember this when I have kids of my own.

We need a world filled with more Marinna’s
… and a dash of Ritalin.


My List to Give Freely


My friend’s daughter, Maddie. She was relaxing on her mother’s leg while watching a rugby game.

It is really important to me to fulfill both ends of my personal challenge – to buy nothing and to give freely to others. No shopping has been surprisingly easier than I imagined. It’s still freezing in Atlanta, so layering is the only way to go. Don’t judge me, but sometimes I even layer with the same clothes I wore a day or two before. It’s not because I haven’t amassed an insane amount of shirts, leggings, and camis; that’s what made me start this whole challenge. I could probably go two months without doing laundry and never wear the same thing twice.

Some days it takes me way longer to decide on an outfit because I’m ready for something new, and other times I just kind of throw on what I’ve worn in recent days. (I should mention here that I’m one of those anomaly people that don’t sweat easily, so my clothes could realistically be worn multiple times and I’d smell fine. Just so you know.) Once the weather warms up, my options will nearly triple. Dresses make up at least half of my total wardrobe.

Back to the other part of this challenge: give freely – at no financial cost to me or them. Time is money, no doubt. But my time and talents are all I have to give in this adventure. This is a list of things I’ve come up with to give:

1. Volunteer hours for local nonprofits (preferably animal shelters & kids organizations)
2. Make things that mean something to someone else (handmade pillows, paintings, photograph pets and kids, copywriting, cooking)
3. Connect people

Alright, that may not look like a lot. But I assure you that by volunteering, creating and connecting, I can impact a lot of people in my community. I’ve already got my first connection in progress…

What kind of things have you made for someone else that they weren’t expecting?

Eight Hours of Play on the No Shop Diet

I am fully aware that I’m just a week into this challenge, but I can’t begin to explain how freeing my ‘no shopping’ rule is. I’m so used to running all over the city to pick up this, return that, drop off this, oh shoot – I forgot that, turn around and go back, and on and on. Hours and hours on the weekends spent in stores and taking mad-dashes to the mall on my lunch breaks.

Now all of that is gone.

At first, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. So, like, I can just go… home? Straight home from work? Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Just go home. Or to the library, which is what I did yesterday after work. No pit-stops necessary.

It is so liberating!

I’m certainly not a homebody but I do love working on creative projects in our guest bedroom in my spare time. I’m truly at peace surrounded by buttons, paint and burlap. No seriously, ask my husband. They’re everywhere. And I’m totally at peace!

I remember when I was in third grade and we were learning how to tell time, my teacher mentioned that God gave us 24 hours in a day for a reason: 8 to work, 8 to play and 8 to sleep. For some reason that idea stuck with me over the years. Most days I feel like I get an hour or two at the most to spend in “play.” But now I suddenly have time to do the things I want without rushing through them. The only stores I go to are the grocery store and the farmer’s market, which is about every 8-10 days or so. Once in a while I have to pick up a random item like chocolate chips or bananas, but most of the time I can wait until the next time I go.

I go out for dinner,  have friends over,  go to basketball and rugby games, meet a friend for happy hour. I keep busy, but there is a different feeling to this kind of busy… it’s like leisurely play. I still don’t get the full 8 hours designed for us, but it’s a lot more than I used to get!

And to all you parents out there, I know this won’t be an option when it’s my turn! I promise to enjoy it while it lasts.

How many hours of play do you get a day? 

More Than a Quest to Live Simply, My Next Six Months

Today marks Day 1 of my six-month challenge. The idea came to me a few months ago as a quest to see if I could go six months without spending any money. I’m not a shopaholic, and I’m not a hoarder. But for some strange reason my house (and husband) says otherwise. I clean out my drawers and closet every couple months, taking bins and baskets of quality stuff to Good Will, yet somehow I continue to amass more and more.

This is more than a quest to live simply. I want to use what I already own while becoming resourceful and innovative to develop things I think I need. Instead of stopping by the mall to pick up a new shirt, maybe I’ll try to sew something or re-discover one I already have. Instead of buying picture frames for our wedding photos, maybe I’ll use my creativity & skills to build them.

The challenge is two-fold. Not only will I go without spending anything on myself (except food & toiletries), but I also plan to document the things I am able to do for other people at no cost to myself or to them.

Overall, I have three main goals to accomplish by August 1:

1. Become more resourceful
2. Have a deep appreciation for what I already have
3. Positively impact dozens of people at no cost to them or to me

Can I do it? Probably. I’ve psyched myself up enough to get started. And today that means unsubscribing from all my favorite stores’ mass emails.