NaNoWriMo19


National Novel Writing Month is here!! And we are taking advantage of the NaNoWriMo campaign to WRITE BOOK TWO of our series.

We are shooting for 60,000 words in our first draft. Fancy math = Holly and I each need to write 1000 words/day. (We can totally do that!)

And this year, we've joined the South Orange County NaNoWriMo group so we have weekly write-ins where we join other NaNos and share the creative energy of writing together, as well as other fun events.

If you've ever considered writing anything, visit www.nanowrimo.org to get inspired. It's and AMAZING conglomeration of talent and motivation.

Our NaNoWriMo19 project begins like this...

Chapter 1 - John
The cool morning breeze blew in through the open balcony doors. John’s dark hair fell into his eyes. It had gotten so long over the last few months. Along with a beard, he almost didn’t recognize himself. Staring over the rolling hills below his room, the impossibility of the moment overtook him. Could this truly be real? Aervon was his kingdom. His? As far as he could see to the horizon - the majestic Thulle Mountains to the east and the Ninah Sea to the west - all of it would soon be under his rule. He should be feeling magnificent. But he wasn't.

What do you think? Is this something you would read? We're happy for feedback.

Happy NaNoWriMo19!

{H&J}
Holly and Jenn

Ditched Again on Halloween


Happy Halloween! What a fun holiday, especially if you have kids who still dress up and go TOTING (Trick OTreating), like all youthful candy-hoarders do. I'll admit, jealous! I miss the annual excuse to indulge in Twix bars and Butterfingers.

When the kids were younger, we dressed them in coordinating costumes. How much say should kids under five really have about their costumes, right? My favorite year, our boys were the brave Prince and cuddly Gus-the-Mouse to match Bella's Cinderella costume. (Photo reference above...SO CUTE!)

When the kids were younger, we used to determine exactly how many pieces of candy they could ingest on Halloween and each day after, for roughly one week. At that point, the Candy Fairy would visit and magically whisk the candy away (except the Twix bars and Butterfingers), leaving a delightful treat in its place, sure to bring just as much joy to our candy-addicts' sugar-overloaded hearts.

When the kids were younger, we'd share a pre-TOTING meal with friends - chili, salad, cornbread and some sort of Autumn-blend, micro-brewed beer. Then we'd take pictures with ALL the neighborhood kids before setting out through elaborately decorated streets, dodging ghouls and collecting goodies, all the while capturing photos and video at each doorstep and reminding them of their lines: "Trick or Treat" and "Thank you!"

When the kids were younger, we had a little more control of the Halloween festivities. But now that they're older, the holiday has taken on a new feel. Today, our kids have their own ideas about costumes, their own parties to attend, and none of the festivities include mom and dad following closely behind with a video camera. It's okay. Really, it's fine.

These days, Halloween is a different kind of holiday and, I'll admit, I'm a little sad about it. Not simply because they're growing up, but because the festivities lack the luster when the kids aren't around. So friends, keep those kids close and gobble up those Halloween memories. You never know when it's going to be the last one with them.

Happy Halloween! I'm going to make myself a cocktail and have a Twix (and maybe a Butterfinger.)

{J}
Holly and Jenn

Sending Our Baby Out In The World...World, Be Kind.


Just a quick update. Holly and I submitted the requested materials to four fabulous agents that we met at our last conference. We got some GREAT feedback and are hoping/praying/excited for the next chapter...REPRESENTATION!

What's next, you ask? We keep querying and plotting book two people. BOOK TWO!!

It can take a long time to secure an agent and get published or it can be speedy quick. So if you have any extra prayers or positive vibes, please feel free to send them our way. We'd like the fast track but we'll totally settle for more patience and less nail-biting.

Thanks for all of your support. Happy fall bliss to you and yours!

By the way, this meme was created at memegenerator.net. We love it!! If you haven't been there, go. Now. GO! You're welcome.

{J}
Holly and Jenn

A Mother’s Wish for Her Daughter About Sex


Friends, I know this is a tricky subject that can be strewn with harsh opinions and great big fears. I share these thoughts as my nineteen-year-old daughter navigates the new world of relationships and only with her permission. My hope is to be helpful to others who may not know how to talk to their adult children about sex. IMHO, this topic applies to daughters and sons, regardless of their sexual orientation, and it shouldn't be avoided, shamed, or brushed over, rather it should be talked about with honesty, compassion and awareness. If this scares you, I get it. If this offends you, I'm sorry. If this is useful, amen. So here goes...

A mother’s wish for her daughter about sex.

It’s conflicted and pulls on my heart relentlessly.

Hopes for true love and gentleness and long gazes mix with images of a little girl who can’t possibly be old enough yet.

Concerns for her heart to be sheltered against the roller coaster of regret and fortified with conviction in a decision that just doesn’t seem to ever have the right timing, at least in her mother’s mind.

But it’s not about me. It’s about a girl who’s always had the ability to read a room and find the safe places there. It’s about a girl who feels fully and deeply with all the emotions. It’s about a girl who isn’t really a girl anymore. 

As a woman, I want her to discover the immense connection that lovers and partners can share. To explore intimacy and discover how to grow in her love, physically and emotionally. I want her to know how the strength of a marriage is partly dependent upon a commitment to loving each other and reconnecting intimately and regularly. I want her to be a good partner and I want her to know what a good partner looks like. She deserves to be loved wholly.

As a young woman, unmarried and exploring the world of relationships, I want her to be discerning, not careless. Cherished, not used. Respected and revered. I want her to take her time. I want her to know that sex is not a tool or a game or a way to barter.

As a Catholic, I want her to wait. To know the sacred bond that exists between partners for life when they give the gift of their whole selves to each other. 

As a human, I want her to know that sex is natural and beautiful and can still be sacred. Finding the balance between timing and maturity is different for everyone. But I want her to know that I will be here if she’s scared or confused or sad. Just as I will celebrate with her when she’s elated and committed and ready.

If I could have one wish for my daughter about sex, it would be that she is loved and knows how to love. That she has no regret in the decision to share the most intimate experience with her partner when she knows the timing is absolutely right. That she’s safe and in control. That her voice and the desires of her heart are heard. And that her partner realizes what a gift, a priceless, cherished gift he holds in his hands.

That is this mother's wish for her beautiful, beloved daughter.

(Photo by HOP DESIGN on Unsplash.)
Holly and Jenn

New School Year Inspiration: The Road Not Taken



Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost


Wishing everyone a happy, adventurous school year. 

Photo cred: Jens Lelie on Unsplash

Holly and Jenn

Please Don't Judge


I'm afraid for summer to end because I know in my bones how much this transition is going to hurt.

For the last ten weeks, we've enjoyed almost no routine. The three teens in my house have been living rent-free in this awesome place where someone cleans and stocks the fridge and all they have to do is make curfew (sometimes they fail at this) and do a few chores (sometimes they fail at this too). To fill the time they're not hanging with friends doing amazing things, they have video games and Netflix and all sorts of fun distractions. And then there's been napping. You guys, they haven't napped since they were toddlers. But now, we have naps again.

(I WANT A NAP!)

So herein lies the problem: they are out of practice. Reality practice. And maybe I am too, a smidge. Confession time.

My kids might not know how to read anymore, or at least read fully-formed, punctuated words in a book. Practicing math facts, novel-reading, current events...not a clue. Sorry future teachers.

I might've forgotten how to cook. No one is ever home for dinner, with work schedules and ALLTHEFRIENDS. So I haven't regularly cooked for five for a LONG time! And can someone tell me wheat kids are eating for lunch these days? I have carefully, lovingly filled the fridge with all sorts of great lunch and snack foods, but I'm pretty sure they would rather use the precious five minutes it takes to assemble lunch, to sleep or scroll or streak, so they're going to head off to school without enough fuel to nourish their brains to do the learning. (And I refuse to make their lunches...they have to learn...it's a choice not a punishment.) CRAP...see the trouble I'm in?

Also, they don't sleep in the nighttime. They go to Corky's, they have friends over to play video games and watch movies, they do those things at their friend's houses, but sleep is not a high priority. Which also means I don't sleep. Because they are like elephants with big stomping feet that can't enter a house quietly. And you better believe they become Master Chefs at 2 a.m. and cook all the things with all the pans and every possible appliance. I love waking up to a kitchen full of splatter and crumbs and shit. It's my favorite.

And how is it they don't know how to silently open/close a door? I mastered this skill as a teen who had to sneak out of the house in order to go to a 24-hour diner for onion rings at 2 a.m. because there was no way my parents would let me go to a diner at 2 a.m. for onion rings. But our kids just wake us up, say they're heading to Corky's with their friends and we say OK because SUMMER and onion rings are awesome. Oh to be young. In the meantime, we've robbed our children of learning a priceless skill of covertly/quietly opening and closing doors. So I guess it's my fault that I haven't slept through the night in 10 weeks. Thus, the desperate need for a nap.

This nocturnal behavior also means they've forgotten how to wake up early. Unless work or something fun FORCES them to set an alarm, they just haven't heard one this summer. Proof that next week is going to be really painful. I'm also not sure the last time my boys used shampoo. Rinsing off after a surf counts, right? And didn't I read on FB that chlorine kills more germs than Pantene? So maybe they're fine. At least they do their own laundry and they don't stink.

So here's the thing...I think we're all going to need some re-entry grace around here. Like Jen Hatmaker says, we just can't expect much from our kids the week or two that they're getting back in the routine of things. I'm here to declare that it goes both ways.

Kids, please know that this transition is hard for parents too. We don't want to nag. We don't want to have to remember all the things YOU need to do while your brain re-learns how to think and plan and execute multi-step tasks. I don't want to check School Loop daily because you ignore it. To me, School Loop is offensive because it implies that I am somehow responsible for your homework. I am not.

But I will look at School Loop. I will assist with lunches. I will help with lists. I will check up and check in. FOR TWO WEEKS ONLY. Really. I'm giving you a two-week grace period to figure it out. And believe me, if you put your phone down for two minutes, I know you can do it.

Friends, if any of this sounds familiar, I stand with you in solidarity. Let's give them two weeks to get their shit together. And then, we start smashing devices and taking away driving privileges. Okay?

By the way, I might need a vacation. Is it summer yet. Is it just me?

Peace and strength be with them, and us.

{J}
Holly and Jenn

Four Lessons From Our Social-Media-Slow-Down


Social media detox, Facebook fast, Instagram break...have you ever done it? It's all the rage!

Holly and I haven't been completely off the grid, but we have definitely shifted into low gear the last couple of months. At first, it was because of ALL.THE.THINGS. Kids finishing the school year, moms finishing the school year, vacation-planning, book-editing, oh, and working and wifing and parenting. The time we had was spent doing the things that needed doing.

But then, something interesting happened. We kinda didn't miss it. Don't get me wrong, we love our people. FIERCELY LOVE! So, during the quasi-break, when we would jump back into the interwebs, we focused on them. We posted some stuff. We commented and liked some stuff. But we found we weren't as addicted to the stuff.

Here are some of the things we discovered whilst reducing our scrolling time:
  1. More time for other things we enjoy - like family time, relaxing, friends time, reading, and obviously more writing. We still captured the memories with pictures but we were selective about the ones we shared. Life's moments seemed a bit more sweet and meaningful when we decided to be immersed in them.
  2. Less procrastination - spiraling into endless feeds as a way to ignore laundering the whole house, parenting the wild teens, writing all the words, and other necessary jobs, was a bad habit and just delayed the inevitable. We felt better just getting all the $#%@ done. And being more intentional about our social media visits was stabilizing. Say it with me...MODERATION.
  3. More productive use of our limited time - less time on FB and Instagram and Twitter meant more time writing and editing and planning. We're getting ready to submit to some awesome agents we met at our last workshop so this was so helpful. (More to come on our progress soon.)
  4. Less green - anyone ever feel a tad bit envious of all the amazing things in your feed? No? Well, then you can skip this point. But if yes, then this is for you. You, we, pretty much everyone around us, we're all amazingly blessed. Being present in your blessings and ingesting less of what the world tells you your life should look like, helps you know that truth. Really know it.
As writers, it's important for us to engage with the cyber-sphere so we will never fully withdraw from social media, nor do we want to. The world is full of interesting people doing interesting things, and we are all those people. Mindfulness and balance have helped us learn how to navigate these worlds in a healthy, helpful, harmonious way.

Have you ever taken a break? Do you want to? We'd love to know what you think.

Oh, and we missed you too! xoxoxo

{J & H}

Photo cred: Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

Summer Is...



Good vibes only.
Toes buried deep in the cool sand.
Long, lingering walks anywhere.
Adventure around every corner.
Vacations, staycations, leisurely days at home.
Family time.
No routine. 
Saying YES more.
Bike rides, beach days, bonfires, BBQs.
Healthy, yummy salads.
Followed by froyo or ice cream or gelato.
Books to fall in love with.
Movie theater visits, extra popcorn.
Netflix binge-watching with your girl before she moves to college.
Quiet mornings and a cup of tea while the kids sleep in.
Long nights playing your favorite music.
Cold drinks with the best of friends.
Less social media, more phone calls.
Mindfulness.
Making memories.
Life is sweet, in the summer.
Holly and Jenn

When Writers Really Need The Right Words...


Writing conferences...we LOVE them!! Truly! It's in this environment where a writer can feel all the creative energy and hopefulness that budding authors share. Professional editors, literary agents, and publishing folks, gift us their insights, experiences, and nitty-gritty. They give honest feedback on ideas and map out the various paths to publication. Writing conferences are FULL of good stuff.

Now, I have to be honest because that's just the way it works here, writing conferences are also very stressful. For the authors who have spent years working and dreaming and re-working their projects, it's just another opportunity for someone to imply that they aren't good enough. That their idea is overdone or too obscure, either way, unsaleable. (That's a real word...a nasty one in my opinion.)

But if you really want to be a published author, as in any profession, you have to take the good with the bad. And with a little preparation and grit, you can learn how to make the most of the not-so-fun parts of any job, right?

Writing conferences can build and tear down. They can inform and overwhelm, inspire and discourage. It's really up to you.

So this is the trick. Writers, aspiring authors, dreamers: we have to learn how to be game-players, in the most authentic, humble sense of the term. Here are some tips:

  1. Prepare for a conference like you do a job interview. Present yourself in every setting as someone who's serious about their writing career, even if you're just starting out. Practice your pitch with your family and friends, perhaps strangers. Get feedback and refine it. Arrive early, engage with the conference faculty and attendees, build relationships and take notes. Smile. :-)
  2. Create a list of talking points, the three most important things about your book, and make sure the information is relevant to the industry professionals you plan to talk with. Comparable books/authors, the audience and genre, and why the world needs your book. Start there.
  3. Do your research. Each literary agent has a web page with details on what they like and who they represent. Follow them on Twitter. Look up #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) to learn about trends. Maybe your book doesn't fall into a trendy box...that's ok. New is great!! Just know how/why it's great and practice selling it.
  4. Set your expectations in line with where you are in your writing journey. If you haven't let anyone see any of your words on page, or if you are stuck on chapter one, you're not quite ready to fully pitch your book yet. Still go to the conference. Attend the workshops that will answer the questions you have at the beginning stage of your project. Still talk to people, you can pitch your idea and state honestly where you are in the process. Every author started at the beginning once. And feedback at every stage is essential.
  5. Prepare your work. If you have a complete book and plan to pitch to agents or editors, make sure your work is the best it can be. Have you received feedback yet? It doesn't have to be a professional editor (though they are amazing and if you can invest in yourself, you won't be sorry), but at least someone who reads a lot and loves you enough to be honest. Even better, find a critique group. Send your words out in the world and see how they fare before you pass them over to the pros.  
  6. Believe in yourself. This may sound obvious but humble self-confidence is REQUIRED if you want to be a published author. And if you spend time doing the first five steps above, you'll find that goes a long way to helping you believe.
Anyone else heading off to San Diego Writing Workshop tomorrow? We're looking forward to some great workshop sessions, and pitching to four awesome agents. 

Wish us luck and all the right words. 

Love you all,

{J & H}

Photo credit: Debby Hudson: Unsplash

Holly and Jenn

#wefriendsohard


Growing into momhood with friends that are trustworthy, authentic and ever-available, is quite a gift! In honor of Sue-Marie's birthday, this gang went to happy hour at Tannin's (YUM) and then visited our mobile recording studio...That's where the magic happened. Check out episode 6 here

#wefriendsohard #mftweekendinjuly #onepieceswerediscussed #laughingismyfavorite #wearesowhite

Love to ALL our amazing friends who've grown up with us through all the Mommy-years!

{J&H}
Holly and Jenn

And Then They Were Teens


Teenagers. Between us, we have five, although Ella is close. Perhaps pre-teen girls get a couple years added to their age. Because it really feeeeels like we have six. And man, they are all complicated.

Here's the disclaimer: we love our children. Like the feel it in your bones, aching in your heart, keep you up at night, kind of love. We do not regret them or wish to turn them in for a different batch or yearn to go back and do it differently. KIDS, WE LOVE YOU!!! YOU HEAR US? LOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!

And now, parents of teens? We have some possibly-shocking information to share. Spoiler alert: parents of young ones, perhaps you want to stop here. You have the benefit of littles who make everything magical, even when they make you crazy. Teens take things to an all new level. Your blissful ignorance is at stake here. You have been warned.

Ok, so parents of teens, these are some of the things that we, and other friends who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent, are learning about:

  • Teen drivers use their phones and drive fast. Most of them. Maybe all of them. They also drive with people in their cars, regardless of your rules or the policeman's rules. Nothing bad can happen. They are immune to the four million possibilities that flash across our minds, inducing unparalleled fear. Even though we know nothing. Still, talk about the rules and possibilities. 
  • Teens in relationships are heavily motivated by their hormones. And sex is not a big deal. Even though we tell them all the physical, emotional, and holy repercussions. Again, we don't know what we're talking about. But keep talking anyway. 
  • Teens know the name of the local drug dealer at their high school. Whether they're experimenting or not. They can "hook you up." Just ask them. Drugs are everywhere. If your teen has gone outside, to a hang-out, a party, a dance, one of the various centers in Ladera, your teen has likely seen a drug or a druggy. Talk to them often about what to do in those scenarios. "Just Say No" is just so 80's. 
  • Teens don't buy kegs and fill red solo cups. They buy hard liquor and fill red solo cups. This is a problem. Speak loud and regularly about alcohol. A side note, if you feel compelled to be the "cool safe house," please don't serve teens-that-aren't-your-own unless you've personally spoken with their parents about it first. This is one of those instances when "Every Child is Our Child" doesn't apply. 
  • Teens with social media...there are a million articles out there about the effects on mental health, access to all-bad-things, changes to attitude, go read those. But know this, social media is here to stay. Best to help the less mature ones in our charge navigate and self-limit it. Abstinence is probably not the answer. Awareness probably is.
  • Teens listen to terrible music with horrifying lyrics. Don't react like our parents did when "Like a Virgin" hit the scene. (I think it's fine.) Because teens also LOVE the great music of the olden days, also know as, the 70's/80's. In this one area, they actually wish they were us. Capitalize on that as much as possible. Music has huge power. And if you haven't seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet, family movie night for sure!! Everyone will love it!
  • Teens love food. You wield great influence when you use food to attract the masses. And you can learn so much watching your kids and their friends. But don't be obvious. Use teeny-tiny chip bowls that need constant refilling. Make cookies or pizzas or sushi, WHATEVER, in batches. Keep them close and turn on your ears. It's equal parts entertaining and frightening.
I think I've covered the basics: sex, drugs, rock n' roll. The take-aways: communication and presence! Our teens want us up in their business in their lives, even if they won't admit to it. 

And it isn't easy. They are moody, erratic, lazy and loud. They smell, curse and make bad decisions. But they are also passionate, innovative, loyal and bright. They give the best hugs, make us laugh, and remind us that we were once just like them. We turned out alright, right? We need to love them through all of the hard, messy parts. And that means we need to know about those things, even though ALL OF IT keeps us up at night.

So go forth and parent, shepherds of teens. If it's hard, you're showing up. And you are not alone.  

Love and strength be with you. 

xoxox,
Jenn
Holly and Jenn

Sometimes It's OK to Run Away From Your Children


Self-care sometimes means you need too clock out of your parenting job. We tell our children to use their voices, set boundaries, don't be pushed around. Well, guess what? Those life skills apply to parents too.

In Episode 5, we talk about writing conferences, school drop-off, and other parenting wins.

Enjoy!

{J&H}
Holly and Jenn

What Happens When You Go Two Weeks Without Your Person...The Minisodo


So last Friday, Holly and I hadn’t seen each other in two weeks. Sure, we’d talked on the phone but we hadn’t had any face-to-face time since before I went on retreat. And nothing quite satisfies the need for writing/girl time than a Friday night creating-planning-podcasting session that begins at BLK Burgerz.

I should mention, I was a little hesitant about going to BLK that night. It is a regular spot for our week-end recaps (and recovery, if you know what I’m referring to), but last Friday was different. Because that day, my 16-yo son was working at our favorite watering hole. 

Yep, Logan is a new bus boy at BLK and for about 16 seconds, I wondered if going to BLK would somehow encroach on his space, interrupt his work mojo, or God forbid, embarrass him.

And then I thought, “Wait, BLK was ours before it was his!” And Holly and I agreed we’d just pretend we didn’t know him. Unless he wanted us to know him?!? (When did parenting become so complicated?)

Anyway, we proudly walked into our favorite local spot, completely refrained from any eye contact, (even though we saw him, confused look and all), and proceeded to our regular booth. 

There we planned TWO summer writing conferences, sent a couple emails to writerly folks, downloaded all the details from our two retreats - we went to Forest Home separate weekends with our separate churches but guess what? Jesus was there for both!

We also  discussed LOTS of other stuff, and enjoyed a delish meal. Logan even checked in on us a few times. Maybe he wasn’t too embarrassed after all. 

Afterwards, we podcasted on our way to pick up her son Josh/drop me at home. We didn’t mean to. We were just going to record a memo for another episode. Ooops.

So, if you haven't heard already, we’d like to introduce...

Our first accidental MINISODO!! (Yes. That’s what we’re calling it. We renamed minosode cuz we’re unique. And big thumbs.) Thanks to all our friends and family for listening along and sharing. Our podcast is now available on SEVEN platforms...WOOHOO!

We hope you enjoy! And stop by BLK soon and say "HI" to our favorite new employed teen!

Happy Friday!!

Love, 

Jenn and Holly


Holly and Jenn

Dream Boarding and Prayer


Hi everyone! In my last post I mentioned washi-taping my dream board. It was really fun...it brought back so many memories of creating boards like these in junior high. Did any of you do this? Sitting around with Seventeen, Tiger Beat, and probably some of my mom's Good Housekeeping magazines. Cutting out all the things that I loved or wanted or dreamed of becoming. It was scrapbooking onto a bulletin board.

I would add pictures of my friends that I had taken to my local Kodak developing place (Gesslar's Drug Store in Wichita, Kansas) and then WAIT A WHOLE WEEK or more to get them back! Slumber party pictures, riding our bikes to the park, or just taking candid photos at school. I'd sit in my room with all of them spread out on the floor, picking out the ones that weren't blurry or where we all weren't blinking or making a weird face. Whew! Our kids HAVE NO IDEA how good they have it. Everything now is instant. In some ways that's probably not good, but that is another post.

Anyway, this time was a little different. It wasn't about that cute guy in Tiger Beat (Rob Lowe anyone?) or the latest makeup or fashion in Seventeen, but it sparked something in me that I hadn't felt it years. I almost felt twelve again. It was FREEDOM. The space to create whatever I wanted and write down whatever words and thoughts and scripture that came into my head. With no limits of what NEEDED to happen or obligations or thought of what other people needed FROM me. It was all about being in that moment and letting myself JUST BE

It started with a Holy Yoga class taught by my wonderfully awesome friend Brooke. She is amazing and doing exactly what God has called her to do. She led us in a prayer starting with Ephesians 3:20.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Eph 3:20

She encouraged us to write down any thoughts or ideas that crept into our minds as we relaxed and  meditated on those words. Of course since writing is my jam I probably spent more time writing down words and ideas than I actually did meditating on the verse. My paper was completely full after the 45 minutes and I was anxious to put everything on the board in black and white. She provided paper, pens, lots of washi tape (washi tape would have been AMAZING back in 1982), and then gave us the space and time we needed to create whatever our hearts were calling us to. She led us in prayer before we dove in and a room of fifteen women became quiet with contemplation. It was marvelous.

Prayers for my husband and kids came to me first. Then each Fruit of the Spirit. Then my ultimate dream of 2019...to write and publish the book that we have been working on. I saw it so clearly and wrote it in big bold letters right next to the scripture that promises that He can provide more than we can possibly imagine. Wow. Cuz I can imagine A LOT.

I am here to encourage you to take the step and get a board and take the time to sit with it and think about what is ahead for you? Where do you want to go? Where do you see yourself in the next year? Another great thing is the board can morph and change as you do. Goals get bigger, ideas go wider, prayers change as kids and marriages grow. As you grow.

Also made available to us were books about prayers and quotes and stories. Listen to this...

"She designs a life full of dreams only one can fulfill. She finds value in being His instead of being busy. Her passion is contagious. She measures herself in strength, not pounds. She trusts the struggle and breathes in the joy of the journey. Her story is one to be heard. She runs from comparison into the arms of confidence. She turns her back on perfection and she chooses grace." 

-Jenn Sprinkle, Thirty one days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer.

I think I've taken a picture of this saying ten times in the last week to send to friends to encourage them and build them up. It's so RAD!

So, now it's time to encourage you, our faithful readers! I say these things to you: Your story is one to be heard! Choose GRACE. Move into this season with a place where you can record your ideas, write down your thoughts, hopes and dreams and spend time thinking about them and bringing them into reality. It's powerful stuff and sometimes we all need a little boost of motivation to chase after those things our heart longs for. It will take some work, but we are here to support and cheer each other on!

Love, {H}

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


Holly and Jenn

Netflix, La Croix and Forgetting All the Words


Hi friends,

In episode 3, we discuss our La Croix addiction, binge-worthy shows, parenting techniques (some even work), and forget a word or two. But what do you expect after 7 p.m.

Thanks for listening along. Please keep sending us messages letting us know what you'd like to hear about. #keepitmessy #teen-parenting #amwriting #createit

See you soon!

{H&J}
Holly and Jenn

Bubbles, Racism and Periods

Hi friends,

We are really thankful for the outpouring of support of our first podcast episode. It's been fun for Holly and I to hear from so many followers about what you want to know and hear about. 

Today, we reflect on the disturbing and racist actions of some teenagers in Newport Beach. We also talk about the glories of middle-age periods. And don't miss our little chat about the book...the reason behind us being here in the first place. :)

Please let us know what you'd like to hear about. #keepitmessy #racismisneverok #myuterushatesme
Holly and Jenn

Coming to You From Our Mobile Recording Studio: Episode 1


Hi friends,

Remember when we talked about starting a podcast? Well, we finally got it up and running. Here's episode 1. Please let us know what you'd like to hear about. #keepitmessy #b-parenting #amwriting #createit

See you soon!

{H&J}
Holly and Jenn

Book Release - The BEST Writing Tool! (Do You Know What Schadenfreude Means?)


Hi friends! Today we're helping authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi launch their new book, The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition)!

You might know about The Emotion Thesaurus or even have it on your bookshelf. But did you know that Becca and Angela just released the second addition? I promise...and we are celebrating!!!

Because our Favorite Book Is Now Bigger & Better!

The Emotion Thesaurus is known for its powerful lists that help ALL writers show (rather than tell) character emotion through body language, thoughts, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and behavior. 
This second edition gives us more of what we love: more emotions (55 more to be exact!), more teaching content, and more writing tips.

Here are three of the new entries: Euphoria, (which is how we're feeling right about now), Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. (Yes, that's a real word and we can't wait to use it!) This book is almost twice the size of the original, so it's almost two books in one.

Anyway, if you'd like to check into it, Goodreads has some reviews up, and you can find more information here

Happy reading, and happy writing friends!!

{H & J}
P.S. Have you considered writing a book?
Want to Attend a FREE Writing Conference?
Or a writing retreat? A workshop? Or even have your yearly membership to a professional writer's organization suddenly paid for? 
OF COURSE YOU DO!
Angela and Becca have a giveaway on right now to celebrate their release, and one lucky winner will get their choice of the above, up to a $500 (some conditions apply). This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter. And good luck!



Holly and Jenn

The Konmari Kool-Aid...YUM!

Before



I drank the Kool-Aid, and man, it was refreshing!!!

Marie Kondo's books have been around for several years but for some reason, the craze also known as "Kondo-ing," "Konmari-ing", or OCD as they say in some circles, just hit the scene in my corner of the O-to-the-C. And it hit hard. Facebook and Instagram abandoned New Year's resolutions for "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." Did you know that some thrift shops are turning away donations because they don't have enough room, all because of Marie Kondo's inspiration?

So, here is what the Konmari Method has taught me:

  1. I have too much stuff. Perhaps I didn't notice because all the stuff is disbursed throughout five bedrooms, closets that seem to go on forever, and four million drawers. But when you open all those things up, and then put all of the stuff on the bed, it becomes very clear. TOO MUCH. Which leads to...
  2. I am a hoarder. Not just of scarves and mugs, and apparently hats, but of memories. Of the soft worn texture of my babies' blankets, of their first Halloween costumes. Of baby teeth. (You guys?!?! GROSS!) I have hoarded and hidden away milestones and achievements, pieces of our little family's past. The problem is, when things are stuffed away, you can't see them so you forget. But with the Konmari Method...I remembered. (And some ugly-crying may have occurred.)
  3. Tidying-up, Konmari-ing, Kondo-ing, purging, whatever you call it, is exhausting. And intense. And emotional. It frees all the feelings as you look at each item, hold it close, see if it "sparks joy," and decide it's fate. Don't worry...YOU get to choose what sparks joy - which is the one qualifier for what you keep - so if baby teeth do it for you, no shame friends. 
  4. Konmari-ing takes a long time. It took me about 15 hours over three days do get through ALL the clothes in my closet/room. Plan for it: clear your calendar, pick out some fun playlists, chill your favorite la croix (with/without some Grey Goose), and have fun!! Please note that you may need to acquire some baskets or storage devices to get the most out of your spaces. And learn the folding method. It's life-changing!!
  5. It gets easier. In the beginning, it was so hard for me to declare an item no longer sparked joy. I'd hold it and say, "I'm so sorry you don't seem to spark joy anymore..." before gently placing it in the "probably should go" pile. But as I went on, it got easier to acknowledge that the items I no longer used would be better off with someone who could use them rather than be tucked back into the closet of purgatory. I'd let myself remember the good times, the gift-giver, the stage of life connected to the item, and then let-it-go! 
  6. Joy does not come from THINGS. Period.
  7. Things can, however, SPARK JOY when you utilize what you own and/or it has important sentimental value. And when you are aware of your possessions, you honor yourself and your stuff through a deep appreciation for all that you have. That's where the joy comes in. This process actually makes true the saying, "counting your blessings." 
  8. Which is why it's SOUL-FREEING! Cleansing! Liberating! AMAZING! Trust me.
  9. And sometimes, 52 scarves all spark joy. They do. But old baby teeth definitely DO NOT.
  10. The Konmari Method changes you. I know it sounds existential but friends, when you do it right, you can learn a lot about why you've held onto your stuff, maybe even face some things. Like perhaps, hanging onto your kids' baby teeth (admittedly strange) is really a sign that you're grasping onto the magical years when they still believed in the tooth fairy and they didn't drive roll cars or stay out past curfew or turn your hair gray, and your most important role was loving them well and helping them grow. Maybe keeping certain things is really a request to pause or even rewind to a certain time in your life, or another version of yourself...and all of that is OK. Marie Kondo says that there are only two reasons why people hold onto something: an attachment to the past or fear for the future. So maybe the art of tidying up can give you the insight to cherish your memories and the strength to make space for new ones. 
No matter if you have always had a knack for keeping things organized, or like me, all the drawers and closets are filled to the brim, taking the time to go through it all, passing along those things that have outlived their purpose and intentionally holding onto those things that are truly important, is healthy, perspective-building, JOY-sparking work.

So go do it. Now. Or sometime in 2019. Just try the Konmari Method. I promise, it won't disappoint.

Here are some operational tips: Don't try to do it all at once. Just do a little at a time, following the path as she suggests. It makes sense and it's easier to find your rhythm. (Here's a cool checklist.) Recruit your family, or even your best friends - you can bond over too-small jeans and old prom dresses and baby-everything. And lastly, know your limits and practice self-care, especially when it comes time to let go of those oh-so-sentimental items. No guilt and no shame if you keep more than you expect. It's a process.

So I'll leave you with some wise words from our friend and tidying-guru Marie Kondo: "When you surround yourself with possessions that spark joy, you'll create a home and life that you love." Yes, please! That's soooo worth it! I'm all in!! (Big gulp.)

Love and strength to you all. Please let me know how you do. Pics too. :)

{J}

And please enjoy the order and intention and JOY that is now my closet:

After




Holly and Jenn

Do We Dare To Podcast?


Do we dare take on the challenge of podcasting? Yes...we dare.

Until we square away the content and technical details, enjoy one of our absolute favorite writing podcasts - Writership. They provide editing tips, inspirational missions and writing tips. Hundreds of episodes are available, really, hundreds.

Listen to OUR first pages  critiqued here.

Until next time, happy dreaming, happy writing.
Holly and Jenn

Happy New Year...#oneword2019





Happy New Year everyone! To all of you that added their word to my #oneword post - thank you! You have claimed these words for this year and that is powerful! Own them. See where they will take you and how they may change your vision and ultimately how they will change you by the time you are ringing in 2020. (What?!?!...writing that date just now seemed very surreal!) Pause and let that sink in for a minute. It's a reminder of the all-too-fast passing of time and the combination of the ache of loss of babies and the joyful exhilaration that a mother's heart feels as she watches those babies grow up (sigh).

So, each year my word has come to me pretty effortlessly. Mostly because the thing I needed to focus on was so glaringly obvious there was no reason to debate. But this year is was different. I had many words fighting for space in my head and they all had good arguments to back up why they should be the #oneword.

I decided to write each one in BOLD letters and sit with each of them. I prayed over each one - because inviting Jesus in is always wise - and then I waited. Would it be WISDOM? I could always use more of that. Would the old favorite INTENTION be the clear cut winner for another year? AUTHENTICITY maybe? I am striving to live more authentically and be more authentic. Maybe TRUTH? I earned an amazing practice in 2018. To ask if the thoughts my overly sensitive mind was conjuring were TRUE? (I am an over-thinker if I haven't mentioned that before). There were so many great, complex and beautiful words that made it into BOLD print, but in the end only one stood out. It literally makes my heart sing each time I look at it and say it out loud.

Like each one of us, I am on a journey. At this season in my life, my children are pretty independent and although I am still needed both physically and emotionally in many ways, it's a new and different way. It leaves time for me to ask, "What is it that I really want/need? What does God want me to do in this next stage?" Well, He showed me.

CREATE

Create space, create time, create intention, create a way for my authentic true self to shine through and of course... create what has been placed on my heart: THE BOOK. Writing is my joy and the creative inside me is bursting to CREATE and share it with all of you.

I've written it out and washi-taped it to my dream/prayer board (which will be another post) and I look at it every morning. It centers me. It's exciting to be reminded of what God has in store for this year and to keep my eyes on the prize. Which, like all of you, is to become and grow and develop into the best possible version of me, one step at a time. 

Keep the words coming! I love seeing how each one is different and feel lucky to sometimes get to hear the stories behind each one. I am wishing you blessings and focus and excitement to see how your #oneword will change you. Have an amazing day!

Love,

{H}

Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash
Holly and Jenn

#oneword of 2019


Happy 2019 friends! Can you believe that Holly and I started this blogging adventure in 2013? We really did, and we feel immeasurably blessed that you are still here with us! Thank you!

As you know, we open each year with the #oneword campaign. Looking back at previous years' words, and the runners-up, it's clear how great a guide these words have been for me. A beacon to help me create some goals and then, over the year, find a way to see them flourish. I hope that you have scribbled down your #oneword over the years and can glance back with a similar sense of perspective. And if not, there's always a new year. This NEW YEAR. Perhaps give it a try.

So there were quite a few words in the running for 2019. I first thought "growth" but then that made me think of a wart and I got grossed out. (Remember the funny story about Noah's "skin tab"? Hahaha!) Then I considered "challenge" but there have been so many viral challenges lately: the Tide-Pod Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, and a bunch of others that I don't understand. The word also triggers crankiness associated with all manners of weight-loss challenges, so probably not a good match.

Then the word STRETCH came to mind. It's been tugging at me for a week and won't seem to let go so I'm feeling compelled to hold onto it and see where it leads. S-T-R-E-T-C-H, as in pushing the limits, breaking free, creating with no bounds, being more of the me I want to be. That kind of stretch.

I hope that at the end of 2019 I'll look back and know I STRETCHED myself, that I grew from each challenge, and took up each opportunity to be more of the hope, strength, joy, love, faith, compassion, and grace we need in the world.

So if resolutions have a tendency to overwhelm you, if you find it too easy to fall victim of the "be-more, do-more" hellscape so common this time of year, consider #oneword as a healthier option. What do you think? How will 2019 shape you?

It is the best of times friends. Take it, shape it, and have a blessed and bountiful new year.

{J}

By the way, if you want to make a cool word cloud to inspire you, check out this site. It's free and so so fun!


Holly and Jenn