Switch turned on. Or off, which ever.

Ah May! You’ve zipped right by. I caught you by the tail just as you were walking out the door. Full of company, rain, baby chicks, green grass, soccer games, raging creeks. The arrival of hummingbirds, dandelions, ticks, tank tops, salad at every dinner. No offense, I am ready for June. The end of school, the beginning of the dog days.

There was a comment on my instagram feed from @chantetay in reaction to that video.

I would love to hear your wisdom about staying intentional and “slowing things down”. I had it in me years ago. And it comes out now and again but I’m In a season of life where especially Sunday nights, feels like I missed so much. I admire that you seem to always have your switch turned on. Or off, which ever.

I was thoughtful about her words because I was on that mountain top, struggling. Indeed, trying to find peace and muscling my way through some tough stuff. I was overwhelmed and tired. I felt like I wasn’t pulling anything off. My husband pretty much made me go for a hike. “Babe, go do something for you. GO. Go run up the hill,” he’d instructed after I’d thrown a fit from feeling needed by every human and animal all the time, from feeling like I’m 10 minutes into 50 projects that’ll never see completion.

Mama, I’m still hungry. Can I have another snack?

Switch turned on. Or off, which ever.

How do mothers write books? How do lovers make art? How do humans find time to birth poems, weave songs, practice headstands, listen to the sea, watch the wind?

Mama, how did the first hummingbird come into the world?

Here’s the thing. Nothing I was experiencing was epic or fatal or dire. Nonetheless, it felt heavy. Suffocation can happen in a puddle. So, a message to you and me: feelings are real and stuffing them down because they’re ‘first world problems’ is about as helpful as soleless shoes. Yes: keep your wits with a universal perspective and Yes: feel what you feel so you can truly move on.

Moving on.

Mama, I just always want to snuggle with you.

So what was holding my attention? Well, lots of things, big and small. And many things that are wonderful! Like:

1.
The first ever Artful Homestead is happening on Saturday! I’m nervous and thrilled and all those feelings that happen when I care about a thing. It is sold out and I am thinking to do another in Missoula this fall? I cannot wait to meet all you brilliant, rad people. And also for a little vacation in California! My family joins me after the gathering and we will spend a few days with our best friends.

2.
I have been working on the launch of my new online marketplace: DIG + CO. Everything from product development to setting up relationships with other markers to photographing to writing so much copy to actually making the website look the way I desire…it’s been a lot. I’m saying this not to complain but to announce the work behind a thing; we so often see a venture materialize (on social media etc) and it seems effortless like *poof*. It isn’t (at least it isn’t for me). It’s less like a sprint and more like an ultra marathon with a few resuscitations in there. Anyway, it’s live! From our family to yours: thank you so much to all of you who went shopping. We have big plans for making more things and giving back.

And, right now: our first sale! Use code DADDY to get 20% off everything in the ‘Father’s Day’ section of the shop.

DIG + CO. is an online market that features my handmades as well as other’s handmades. Everything there is crafted to love and last, to support your adventures, homesteads and artful lives. I hope you love it as much as I’ve loved gathering it all together. I’ll always be open to working with you. Please reach out if you have ideas for how we might do great things together.

3.
I am planning another big trip with my girls this coming fall and am thinking of the desert. Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California, maybe even Mexico…give me your ideas.

(I spied them marrying in the field last week which about made my heart bust right open.)

4.
It’s garden season! And I want to spend every spare moment out in my plot. Or thinking about my plot.

Mama, you’re a weird dancer. But I still like it when you dance. 

So, in response to @chantetay’s asking me about staying intentional and slowing things down. Her question made me think about what works well for our family and – when I was in my funk, focusing on what doesn’t work – I really appreciated the exercise. Some thoughts.

First and most important: Everything we want to do or be is a practice. Nothing is ever achieved; we are always striving.

It would be many years before I began to understand that all of life is practice: writing, driving, hiking, brushing teeth, packing lunch boxes, making beds, cooking dinner, making love, walking dogs, even sleeping. We are always practicing. Only practicing.

― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life

  • Stare at my people. When our plates feel too full and I am running to get stuff done, I make myself be with my kids without distraction. I study them. I listen. My phone is nowhere in sight. It’s like a brain reboot that shines light on what all that hustle is really for. Them. Us. The lifestyle we want now. Right now, not the thing we are working towards. We often get out on a hike or something but this practice can happen anywhere.
  • Exercise. When Andy and I have regular, heart-pumping bouts in the mountains by ourselves, we are better at everything. Our kids too.
  • Be Home. Our kids do one scheduled after-school activity per week. I treasure our slow time together at home after school. I want our home to be a place of peace and comfort and find that, for us, the post-school hours need a tender, unstructured vibe. Time to run up the hill into the flowers or lay on the couch and talk or have a pile of friends over. No matter what, every night: time together as a family around the dinner table.
  • Nature. Getting out in it often. Paying attention to the abundance, the seasons. Feeling humbled that we are but one tiny component of this vast universe.
  • Use my soul-fueling outlets. I practice gratitude through writing and photographing. I think a habitual creative practice is so important. I document mundane things that are beautiful to me and the practice deepens my appreciation and heightens my awareness. Conversations between my kids, the birds that visit our feeders, my pets snuggling, nourishing food, my husband’s love…it’s the little things that are the big things.

My daughter wrote a letter to her principal:

In my opinion, we need more art and here is why: First of all, there would be more art in the halls. Second, art is good for us. And, lastly, art makes our place a better place. 

I challenge each of you to make a list of things you do to be intentional and slow things down. You have them. You know what works. You are your own best self-help guide. And if you want to share with us, please do! I think you are doing such a great job.

With love,
Nici

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nuggets: moonshadow

frustrated that I had to fire my web designer and start over, I am so pleased that my garden is off to a great start, I ought to read more books.

Lately, when I wake in the middle of the night I have a song in my head. Every single night around 2am I wake up with lyrics on repeat. I started writing them down last week: Beyoncé’s Halo, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Pearl Jam’s Daughter, Ben Harper’s With My Own Two Hands. On the full moon night: Cat Steven’s Moonshadow.

And if I were to do a mashup and make my own soundtrack perhaps it’d go something like this:

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
She holds the hand that holds her down
She will rise above
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright
Yes, I’m bein’ followed by a moon shadow
Moon shadow
Moon shadow

One of the things on my mind on this morning Continue reading

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nuggets: finally it’s the first day of spring!

I started composing this on the first day of spring, adding thoughts and photos over the last few weeks. And then adding thoughts and photos just before spring and it’s quickly grown to monstrous size but I’m rolling with it. Welcome to the giant nugget post.

(I was reading this to my kids and Ruby has asked if I could change her name to Bob for a while)

Bob emerged from her bedroom, a halo of yellow bed-headed hair. I was on the couch, drinking coffee and reading. She fell into me with her toothless smile. “Finally it’s the first day of spring!” she yawned as she fell onto my lap completely unaware of the coffee.

Question to those with older children: do they ever notice the cup of coffee in your hand before diving into a morning snuggle? I’ve become incredibly skilled at keeping the hot, caffeinated liquid inside the mug with a wiggling child on lap.

Indeed it’s spring. Finally! I think we always feel a bit that way with every season. We love winter. We ski and sled and ice skate. We eat oats my the fire and resist getting out of our warm beds in the morning. And we look forward to spring. We dream of that day when will be able to stand in a non-breezy spot and, if the sun is directly on us, it actually feels warm.

Springish nuggets.

:: The girls designed and made little creatures mostly all by themselves. Margot has decided that even if she doesn’t make enough money she wants to work with owl research and rescue. Specifically she’d like to “study them and cure them when they are injured.” Bob wants to BE a kitty when she grows up.

:: Moody spring hikes with friends have taken us up mountains. Our kids used to be on our backs and shoulders and now they run ahead of us begging us to hurry up.

:: I shared this on instagram but want to share here too because it’s my new favorite trick: you can place the white roots of spent green onions in water and continue to harvest the greens for weeks and weeks! They just keep growing.

:: Andy has been planning to build a bench to sit on Alice’s gardenside grave. Continue reading

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Let’s go swimming.

Andy’s alarm goes off for a full minute. It takes him a while to reach his phone to turn off the chirping because he threw his back out. He moves slowly, forcing inhales through the pain. I offer to help and he declines. The rain taps the metal roof just above our dry heads as we lay under down and linen in the dark. The furnace kicks on.

He gets up first, he always does. I hear the click of our espresso machine button. I feel around the floor for the hoodie I took off last night. I walk gently down the hall, avoiding the three floorboards that creak. Andy feverishly tunes the radio to NPR. Another terrorist attack. In Brussels, he says.

The familiar words reach our ears. I hate that they are familiar. Isis. Extremist. Suicide bomber. 26 dead. 30 dead. Retaliation. War. Terror. Terrorist. Terrorism.

The rain lets up. I feel the wetness in my bones. The heaviness of rain sinking into soil. Washing the streets clean, adding volume to rivers, feeding gardens. Relentlessly nourishing. Pure love. Steadfast. The cool, clear, generous liquid that gives everything life. Water is the antonym to Terror. Continue reading

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The Artful Homestead: Digging Into Daily Ritual

I am excited to invite you to The Artful Homestead: Digging Into Daily Ritual.

I began imagining this a few years ago: a weekend focused on creativity and earthly awareness – with attention given to the whimsy and practicality of everyday acts. I envisioned working with the people who are passionate about things like baking bread, writing, yoga, gardening, poetry, deep breaths, art, music, canning jam, learning, doing, being. Together, camping and getting groovy with our homesteady selves, identifying our values and rituals.

It’s manifesting this spring, collaboratively with my dear, old friend and exquisite photographer Paige Green. You’ve heard me mention Paige many times before; she’s my best friend of 20 years. Our first-ever Artful Homestead gathering is happening over Memorial Day weekend. Will you join us? Continue reading

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