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Pardon our dust! (And, yay for changes!)

We’re doing a little spring cleaning here at The Happiest Home! Sarah’s been working hard behind the scenes to switch us to a new theme that will make it easier for you to navigate content and discover gems that have gotten buried over the years. We appreciate your patience while we roll out the new changes, and – whoops! – apologize if some older content somehow winds up in your inbox along the way. Want to stay up to date on what’s happening here amid all the changes? Fill out the box below and we’ll get in touch with you via email

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Looking for inspiration and real-life connection? Join me at the BEYOND Retreat next fall.

You know one of the biggest benefits of slowing down and doing less? When you step off of the merry-go-round of doing, doing, doing just because it seems like, well, the thing to do, you suddenly have all this “new” time and energy and brain space to pursue things that mean a lot to you. For years I’ve been dreaming of putting together an event bringing together awesome women in one place to dream, plan, recharge and get inspired. And now it’s time to make it happen. In October of 2015 I’ll be hosting a small but mighty group of women (is

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“Fun Parent” vs. “Boring Parent” – It’s Not Fair! But Is It True?

My husband made this lunch for my daughter last week. I know. I should have known it was coming when I caught him poring over Bento box tutorials on YouTube, watching a woman meticulously arrange smiley faces onto tiny rice-ball heads, then cap them off with pita-pocket hats. The very next day, Jon made a special trip to the grocery store for supplies. And that evening, he and Clara hovered over the kitchen island for a good half-hour creating The Lunch To End All Lunches.  Heart-shaped salami framed by heart-shaped cheese slices, people. A tiny little star cutout peanut-butter sandwich with honey and sprinkles

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Delegate Like Downton: A Strategy For Managing Home Helpers

Imagine this: it’s a Sunday afternoon. One child just got done shoveling the walk, and another is unloading the dishwasher. You, on the other hand, are reading a magazine, sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the calm of a neat (enough) kitchen…that you didn’t even have to tidy up yourself. Sound like a fantasy? It’s not! It’s actually how my Sunday afternoon played out…and it’s a pretty common scenario around here. It hasn’t always been this way. Earlier in marriage and motherhood, I was surrounded by mess and chaos, and bogged down by resentment. Why didn’t other family members recognize

At Home with Meagan

5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools

I’ve been wanting to do a regular video series, like, forEVER. But when I had kids home with me during the day, I found it was just too difficult to find quiet pockets of time to shoot and edit regularly. A five-minute video may not seem like it takes much time to do, but there’s a lot of set-up and production involved, even in the most “candid” vids.  Now that my days are my own, though, I’m finding that I’ve got the space and quiet to take on some of those things I’ve been wanting to do! So, here it

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Whimsical Girl’s Bedroom Ideas

We’re moving! In less than two weeks my family is relocating to Southern California and we couldn’t be more excited. Our new house is ready and waiting for us and I’m itching to get into it and start settling in. One of the biggest differences between our current house and the one we’re moving into is the flooring. We have carpet now – lots of it – and we’re moving into a house with all hardwood floors. And while the new floors are beautiful, it’s going to be awfully echo-y in there until we get some area rugs down. One problem:

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Gardening with Kids, The (Really) Easy Way

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as the kind of mom who grows herbs indoors using a DIY seed-starting kit, turning toilet-paper rolls or egg cartons into frugal mini-gardens which nurture her child’s green thumb, creativity and resourcefulness. In reality, I’m the kind of mom who intends, every year, to start seeds indoors eight weeks before the ground is warm, or start a windowsill herb garden, but always forgets to gather the supplies or set aside an afternoon for putting together a system. So this year, I decided to skip all the usual “Oh man, I can’t believe I

I used to wish I were someone else. But something changed.

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new series here at The Happiest Home! A while back Heather Caliri, author of the blog A Little Yes, wrote a lovely guest post about making a new house feel like home.  Now she’s going to be writing here monthly about saying “yes” to small things that scare us. Heather is such a talented writer, and I can’t wait to see the ideas she shares with us. – Meagan

Image courtesy Karin van Dam

It would happen almost every month.

“I wish I were someone else,” I’d cry. I wanted to squeeze small enough in my skin that I could be free of being me altogether. My husband would hand me tissues while I explained how I’d never get anywhere, being who I was.

It never lasted long: a day or two later, my hormones would stabilize, and I could go back to being me. But those nights always lingered in the back of my mind. Sure, it happened at that time of the month. But the hormones didn’t create a sense of self-loathing—they just uncovered it.

And so I’d wait uneasily until the next month, knowing I’d ache to shed my personality, my limitations, and my lack of bravery.

At the time, I resigned myself to the monthly crisis. I thought it was inevitable.

But a few weeks ago, I realized something. I haven’t said—or thought—those words in years.

This astonished me. And I wondered: what changed?

This is it: I became a mother.

Sure, as a mother you’re full of love, connected with the circle of life, yadda yadda, yadda. It’s lovely and all, but that’s not what changed me.

Here’s what did: I had no time and less energy.

How did this empower me? Well, at first it didn’t. But after a year of setting aside everything for sleep and diapers, I started doing anything I could to get my sense of self back. I started cooking new recipes. I found great books to dive into. I started writing again, and almost by chance found a group of mothers that were also writers.

I couldn’t do anything just for me for nearly as much time as I wanted, but the little I did achieve was because of consistent, intentional effort on my part. I began to see that the five minutes here and twenty minutes there added up to more than you’d expect. When I finished an essay or made a meal, I felt pride in a real accomplishment.

I also saw that there’s an ebb and flow to life—times when we can accomplish more, and less, and I started learning to accept the time I was in. Acceptance meant I relaxed about what I wasn’t accomplishing because I knew it simply wasn’t possible then. And it meant anticipating a time when I’d have my chance.

About a year ago, I got even more intentional with the practice of squeezing my dreams into small spaces. I focused my blog around little yeses, being a beginner, and pursuing joy in tiny steps.

I made the steps tiny because I’m a mother with two small kids. And also, small steps seemed less scary. I was baby-stepping my way to living abroad for a half-year. I was practicing small bravery with writing and marketing my work. I was scheming ways to break down the things I hoped to accomplish someday into tiny yeses I could say today.

Let me be clear: I am far from some of my wildest dreams: from publishing a book, say, or earning a living freelancing. Of homeschooling my kids through high school and having them thank me for it. Of encouraging and serving others.

I am still a beginner in all of those things.

But I’ve accepted being a beginner. I’ve started enjoying it. And that has made all the difference.

As a beginner, I must—by definition–try new things. I take risks, because it’s the only way to move forward. I know I’ll make mistakes. I ask for help, and imitate those who are further along. I’ve started seeing that beginnings are beautiful, full of promise and hope.

Photo courtesy Jusni Nasirun

I’ve started seeing that anyone trying something new is a beginner. No matter how expert they seem.

And I see now that the delight of finishing, of accomplishing, of reaching a goal is lovely—but that the pleasure of starting, of pursuing, of saying yes is—dare I say it?—even better.

I look back on the woman I was eight years ago and feel a tenderness towards her. A sadness that she didn’t know what she was capable of. A pride that she kept moving forward, trying, even when she was blind to her own bravery.

I know I’m not alone in being unable to see my own worth and beauty. In thinking that I’m too far behind to start. It’s a cry I hear everyday from people all around me.

So I’m here to sing out this challenge to you: just for today, let’s accept our limitations for what they are. Accept them, completely, without fear, and take the first steps towards our dreams within their confines. Any first step, believing that it—and we—are enough. Believing that our limitations could change as we test their boundaries. Let’s take the shaking hands and thumping heart we’ve been given and treat them gracefully. Let’s believe that we are beautiful women, capable of our wildest dreams if we move towards them at a slow, slow pace.

You are starting. You are brave. And it is a beautiful sight to behold.

What dreams are you aching to make come true? I’d invite you to share—in the comments—one way you could lean towards them with a tiny, little yes.

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