Saturday, October 14, 2017

Marking the Page │ Bookmarks

You know what I find hilarious? Bookmarks. Not the concept of a  bookmark itself, but what we use to mark our book's page.

I remember reading an article once about libraries and the bookmarks the librarians find with all the returned books. Banana peels, toilet paper, pens. You name it, they are the lucky recipients of it.

The bookmark is as individual as the person using it, as much as the book choice of each person.

And as a vintager, one who buys, sells and wears vintage, I also pick up used and -- sometimes vintage -- books. Because, second-hand books are the best invention ever.

The bookmarks I find in said books are comical. If not insightful.

For example, here's one from a middle-grade read. And I have a few questions: Was the reader reading this in the kitchen? Why the torn Ziploc box bit? Why not a plastic bag? Or was the Ziploc box headed out to the recycling? A foil or plastic wrap bookmark would've been great, too.

























Then there's this book mark, from a favorite book called Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Side note: This book, if you're a writer, is an absolute must in your "how to" writing arsenal. I laughed more from this book than any I've ever read. And it was written 25 years ago. (I'm a little slow). All I could hear was the haunting voice of Garrison Keillor; the style, the humor, except with an even more authentic, feminine touch. (If you're a mom, you're as authentic as they get). I think both she and Keillor frequent Lake Wobegon and drink deep from the water -- I need that water in my life.

Anyway, this bookmark is a Post-It note and here are my thoughts: Post-It notes add up, you know. They aren't cheap. So, this bookmark was a deliberate thing. She was investing in her reading (I say she, but it could've easily been a he reading it). Yes, as the note says, being in print is an achievement. It is validation. But what else? Isn't that what it says, on the Post-It? What else did the note-taker want to know? I guess I'll never know.


But, I suppose I'm not  much better at my choices for bookmarking. Take a look at this book mark, currently in use. Yes, a nail file. I was filing my nails, this was on my nightstand. It was the closest thing to me when I needed to mark the page. So, clearly book marks are what's convenient. I think this one is rather ingenious. Because every time I read, I can do some filing. Two birds, my friends. Two birds.

And then, there's my legitimate bookmark. A mark that is designated and intended to mark a book's page. This one is from Washington D. C, and quoted by the famous Thomas Jefferson, "I cannot live without books." 

Side note: This book here is my book, which is why it's covered in such elegant scribble. This is a fantastic theological/apologetic book called "The Reason for God; Believe in an age of Skepticism," by Timothy Keller.  I have to read it slowly, though, almost as though I'm just learning to read ... it's that thought-provoking. Much like all of C.S Lewis' works.


Read on, my friends. and be creative with your bookmarks. You never know who's going to come across yours one day and wonder why you chose what you chose.

The weirder the bookmark, the better, in my humble opinion. Let me know in the comments below what you use. I'd love some new ideas. The water bill isn't ideal, you see... 

-HJS



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Turn Your Nevers into Evers

I say two things all the time, and the people who know me tire of it. It's:

1. Never say never.
2. Timing is everything

Think you'd "never" do something based on your likes or dislikes?

This dress. Geez, I love it. Thankfully I started wearing vintage
and liking pink again. Whew. That was close ..
.

Think something will "never" happen because of your situation?

Think again.

I find that whenever I say "never" it's due to pride. My pride.

Either it's because I'm living a "holier than thou" moment and think I'll "never" do something based on what I see others doing or have done. Or I'm saying "never" because I've already been through something and I'll "never" do, deal with, have, go, own, like, etc -- fill in the blank. Whatever it is I'll "never" participate in because I have no faith in a great future or my vision is so narrow, that my "view" is the only view.

It's pride. Plain and simple.


Years ago, I said "never" to dresses (I didn't wear dresses for the longest time) and pink. Hated the color.


Never to dresses? Not sure why. I probably wasn't comfortable in my own skin when I said never to them. Like for twenty years.

Then I got back into them when I started selling vintage and basically have had to backtrack and own up to the fact that I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. That's what "never" does, to you. Saying "never" makes you miss out on what the universe is trying to give you. What God is trying to teach you.

And never to pink? Not sure. Maybe I thought it was too girly and I'm really not a girly person.

Except that I am because I love dresses. Okay, I'm really not that girly. Trust me. I'm not. But, no pink? Hello, missing out here. Pink comes in a zillion shades. This dress for example, has two different shades of pink in it and it is gorgeous. I mean, the combination is beautiful.

So, here's your bit of wisdom for today that I learned: never say never and watch amazing things happen. Also, watch how similar we all are when we say never.  


What do I mean?

Okay. So, you think you'd never treat someone a certain way? Find yourself in that situation and see what you'd do. You think you'd never get yourself involved in a less-than-optimal scenario, or never own a minivan, or never drink more than ten cups of coffee in a day?

Hardly. You just haven't been given the opportunity yet.

Humanness, weakness, anger, hunger, depression, loneliness, all of it will make us do things we never thought we'd do. So does pride.

Now, moral convictions about a thing are something else. That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about a blanket statement that I've said, using pride to cover my insecurities.

The thing about pride, the stinking, crazy, amazing, awesome, eye-opening thing about pride, is that the "never say never" opportunity teaches me I am prideful. I need to deal with it when it rears its ugly head, even when I don't think pride is an issue.

When I say "never," I'm taking empathy out of the equation for me. "Never" is becoming intolerant, sad, and just plain ugly. So, I can't understand someone of a different socio-economic background or political background because I"ll "never" vote that way, or live that way? Really? That's absurd.

Empathy puts me into someone else's shoes. It takes my "nevers" and makes them "evers."

I'll "ever" try to love someone like you, I'll "ever" try to understand you, I'll "ever" take what it is God wants to give me, even if I don't think I want, like or need it. I'll also "ever" wait for God's blessings, too.

Never say never, my friends. Enjoy everything. Be thankful for everything. Choose good things. Like pink,and dresses, and pink dresses and live well!

Remember, we create and bring into our lives the very things we dwell on, think about, focus on and wish for. So just make sure you're creating, dwelling, thinking about and focusing on good things. Happy things. Big dreams and secret and not-so-secret desires. 

Never say never and watch you world expand beyond your wildest dreams.

-HJS


(This was originally posted on my vintage blog, hence the vintage dress. )

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pennies from Heaven

Pennies are everywhere, right? I mean, they're on the ground, at the cash register at Starbucks, they're probably in your sofa cushions.

A few weeks ago, I began to notice random pennies on the ground when I was about town, running errands, and fueling the car. And it wasn't just one day, they started appearing repeatedly -- it became every day, after every errand, to the point that I began to wonder what was going on. I couldn't ignore them. But, "It's just a penny. Why stop to pick it up? What can it do for me?"

Maybe I was going about this all wrong.
This jar will be full very soon.

After a week or two, it began to bother me not picking up that single penny. It's as if God was saying, "I will provide for you but you have to take it," every time I saw one in the dirt, on the street, underneath a counter.

And I was intentionally ignoring it. 

By not picking them up, I was saying, "This blessing is too small. This is insignificant. This is not really taking care of me."

The issue wasn't the smallness of the blessing, but the smallness of my heart. Was my heart losing its capacity to be grateful for not just the small but for that which could give me nothing in return?

I'm a treasure hunter by nature. I've secretly and not-so-secretly told some that if I could have been anything, it would've been an archaeologist (particularly Egyptology). But, that wasn't a career to take care of a family with now, was it. So, I chose writing. Because starving artists is really where it's at. Ha. I digress...

I sell vintage clothing these days, too, which really is just like archaeology. Only instead of unearthing a mummy, it's 1950s dresses or vintage denim. Different and yet the same. Both require slow searching, then excavation, and finally revelation. But, it's still treasure.

The blessing is there. We just have to look for it.  

Pennies, though relatively worthless, are still something.  And they're in plain sight. Every day. Everywhere you go. God is saying, "Hi! I'm right here, even down at your feet, and I'm thinking about you and I will provide for you and give you what your heart desires even if it takes time, and even if you don't think the answer I'm giving you is what you need right now."

I finally said to my kids, "If I picked up a penny every day, how long do you think I could go finding them?" I mean, this is money. Small money, but it's money. And there is something spectacular in valuing something that so few people value.

My friend Brian says this ↑. He's right, you know.
It's been a few weeks. Some days I find a penny, some days five cents or a quarter (jackpot!) Other days, I find nothing. But so far, I've averaged a penny a day. Like manna to the Israelites, whether or not they appreciated it or realized how miraculous it truly was to get fresh manna everyday, their job was to perceive the miracle and take the blessing.

God gave it, but they had to take it.

I know it's silly. Pennies are small change. But, when you put them together, little by little, they become something much greater. " ... whoever gathers little by little makes it grow (Prov 13:1, NIV).

Timing is everything, my friends. And over time, small because large. Less becomes more. Lack becomes abundance.

I'm choosing to tell myself (literally, saying it out loud) with every penny I pick up that I'm blessed beyond belief, that I have more than I need, more than enough -- food, time, talent, gifts, love -- to give myself and everyone around me. It's just up to me to take it.

So, I am blessed. Everyday. With a penny in my pocket or not, the point is I have so much.

Did I wake up this morning? Blessing.
Did I swallow my coffee? Blessing
Did my car start? Blessing
Did I have a job or work to do? Blessing.
Did I have food to eat? Blessing.

These are pennies from heaven. These are our daily manna. Out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouth speaks. I want to speak into my life that all in it is beautiful and intentional, regardless of it's magnitude.

If I am grateful with little, I am grateful with much. 

And isn't that a place we all want to be?


-HJS


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Morning Through the Shadows

I came across a quote written by J.R.R. Tolkien the other day. He said:

"You can only come to the morning
 through the shadows."

Now, I've read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy a few decades ago. So, I don't recall who said these words (they may not even be from a work, but spoken by himself, though I think not) but they ring true.

Similar to "it's always darkest before the dawn" and "...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23), they essentially say the same thing.

Tolkien's phrase caught my attention because of the word "shadows." These are the things we think we see, or presuppose, or assume, or pretend are there, or any innumerable things we can substitute for the words shadows. Shadows imply something that is there, but the very thing is unclear. Do we see what we actually think we see?

After going to bed thinking about these words, and how they apply to us -- all of us in all circumstances and walks of life -- I woke up in the middle of the night bewildered and half asleep.

I tend to wake up like this, startled, half-awake and bleary-eyed, only a handful of times a year. But, they almost always occur after my husband has been home with us (or on vacation) for an extended amount of time and then goes back to work, for 48-72 hours at a time. He had been home for days and last night was the first time I was alone again in nearly two weeks.

Well, sure enough, I woke up with a start, wide awake in the middle of the night. And my head was cloudy. The room was dark, but there was just enough light from our digital clocks for me to see the pile of pillows on the bed where my husband would have been.

Now, I knew my husband was gone. But, the way the pillows were situated and the way the blankets lay, it looked like someone was next to me! And again, I wasn't really awake, so I was a little bonkers.

I sneaked a peak at the shape next to me, scared out of my mind. My heart raced, "Who was with me?"

It took me minutes to convince my brain that no one was there, that it was only the "shape" of a person, the shadows of a person. And after finally reaching out to touch the pillows, I realized it was just me seeing things through the shadows, that weren't really there.

Then, I woke up.

I think often we fear what exists in the shadows, because in the shadows things aren't what they seem. Most of the time, our fears never materialize.  They're based on judging what we can see with our physical and often imperfect eyes without looking at it from an objective, neurological point of view.

It takes temerity to actually think that we know what we're seeing, half- awake and bleary-eyed, when the shadows engulf us and dawn hasn't yet emerged. It's foolishness, really. Because, by morning we see things for what they truly are and disparage ourselves for being idiots in the shadows.

It takes light to shed truth onto the dark. It takes boldness to hang on to faith when everything around us seems as shifting as the shadows that loom before us.

Coincidentally, my oldest son is reading the trilogy right now as some summer reading, before his junior year begins of high school. To even think about my son being a junior scares me because it means college in two short years. The shadows of uncertainty and the unreal "what -ifs" appear throughout my mind daily: Where will he go? What will he learn? Can I even handle the fact that he will no longer be my little boy that I can keep track of?

It's the morning we need to zero in on, not the shadows. Ground yourself in the light. The lamp that guides our path. I must dwell on this and ignore the pile of pillows and blankets that seem like an evil lurking, because it's all a false image of reality.

Shadows create misguided trust. Don't focus on the shadows.

Instead, remember that all light -- even the smallest amount-- destroys darkness at its core.

-HJS

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mighty like an Oak

A wonderful and very long-time friend passed away a week ago.
She was one of the most dynamic and charismatic persons I had ever met. She was contagious.
Her Spirit was as righteous as it was true.

It's impossible to replace people like this. Impossible.
They fill a void in you that no one else can,
that no one else is capable of doing,
because they are so beyond the norm.

While we are trapped in time, here on earth,
slave to the ticking clock, heaven isn't slave to anything.
Nor is eternity, nor is her spirit.
She is still here, in our hearts, and around us.
She exists. And she is free.

Free from cancer, free from pain and suffering.
Free to be herself, her now fully Glorified self, again.

Like an oak tree and its' acorns, she dropped acorns incessantly. Her care, her words, her utter devotion
and love to those around her, lives on.
She left acorns everywhere she went; dropping love,
dropping time, dropping kindness, dropping encouragement.

She lives on and the parts of her she left for us, are now in us.
Like an oak tree, whose arms hover over those they watch, she too
did this and continues to now.

Hug your people. Tell them you love them.
Appreciate those in your life who are everywhere with you
and especially those who aren't, or can't be.
They need to hear it. They need to know.

Thank you, Robin...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing to Write Because You Write

There's a much-adhered bit of writing advice that most writers are told, whether it's from a teacher, mentor, critique partner or book.

It's this: To write well, you must read.

And it's true.

It's like studying art work if you paint or sculpt

Or watching dramas or theater if you're an actor.

You have to study the craft in which you create.

As Stephen King said in his perfect book On Writing, "If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that” (147)."

Yep.

Also, I think I need to add that one needs to write in order to be a great writer.

I know. How obvious, right?

But, it's not to some. I know "writers" who only write the book they are working on, but nothing else.

They don't write short stories, articles, poems, not even a blog. They don't do any writing other than the latest book they're working on. And edit it. Over and over. Day in and day out.

Where's the growth?

Honestly, I think it's absurd and pure garbage to think your writing will be stellar if you don't write in other genres or types. It's like only reading in one genre and expecting your writing to be superior, even though you write in that particular genre.

Contradiction, then? Well, in my opinion, it hinders writing growth.

Successful writing is an all or nothing approach. To understand romance writing, is to understand how the narrative moves. To understand mystery, is to understand foreshadowing. To understand children's fiction is to understand how to write as cleanly as you possibly can.

You need to read it all to write it all. And you need to write it all (even if you're no good at it) to truly write well.

Not writing in other forms is equivalent to wanting to interior decorate a 1960s mid-century modern home but only using modern items to do this. It doesn't work and clearly lacks authenticity.

You have to blend the old with the new. And in this case, using only vintage would be preferable (to me).

If you haven't read King's book and you write, for the love of all things literary, READ IT.

I think coffee should sort of be a part of the writing process, as well. It literally disappears as I write and I don't recall drinking any of it. But, by golly, it helps!

And here's a perfect mid-century modern moment with coffee in it.

Now...go read everything. And go write everything!

-HJS




Friday, March 24, 2017

Everyday Moments

When I go to sleep at night, my mind literally goes back over the events of the day, chronologically ... but backwards.

I didn't realize I did this until I noticed within five minutes -- and nearing the point of falling asleep -- I was thinking about events that happened in the very beginning of the day.


I'll think about my puppy, following me around when I'm home, and doing this.





Then I'll think about how my husband was painting the entire trellis, and not complaining about it.

And then  I'll think about my son driving me today, and how we both wore camo. (And how we didn't rear end anything.)

It was weird. And enlightening. And a little bit like looking at snap shots, actual photos, of each major event of the day. Even if the major events were really not so major.

And it made me think about how the little things really all add up to big things.

You know how people say that every day goes by and change doesn't really seem an obvious thing, until you look back at the entire year as a whole, and then when we're grasping the entire scene, the whole picture, we see the change.

And the change is huge.

I think this is true. Our lives are composed of little things. And those little things do inevitably end up as big things. It's like weight loss, or weight gain. It's like compounding interest. It's like working on a book a page a day and seeing an entire book read (or written) after many weeks or months.

It's hard to see change sometimes, especially when we want it. Badly. But, that change is happening even if it's slow.

I think God gives this "slowness" as a favor to us, even if we think it's a curse. The step-by-step, slow-as-a-snail pace is truly the only way we humans can cope with anything, though we say otherwise.

Big events, big change, overnight 180-degree-changes, those are hard. Really hard. That can mean death, or life, or moving, or illness. Major stresses. Things we don't want to deal with.

Yet, we beg God to answer our prayers in our time when really, if he's waiting to answer -- fixing the details behind the scenes -- we see it's to our advantage.

He's waiting to grant our request when we can actually handle it.

I joke to my family and friends that the epitaph on my tombstone (or rather my obit in the paper) is going to say "Never Say Never and Timing is Everything." Because, if there is anything I've learned last year and into this year, it's the both of those.

Pride tells me to say "never," when I have no business saying "never" about anything. Ever. Ask yourself next time why you're saying "I'll NEVER do, be, go, have such and such ..."

I asked myself this, too, after I began eating all my "nevers." For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My foolish pride makes me say "never." "Well, I'll never drive a minivan." I've said this. I swear I have because I don't like minivans. To me, they're maybe the ugliest vehicle on the planet of vehicles.

(To all my friends who drive them, my deepest apologies).

But come on now. Let's say I had no income, my other car died, I had no money and needed a car. What if someone gave me a minivan. Would my pride say no?

It's almost as if the moment I say "never," God will go out of his way to show me how unrealistic -- and how very ungrateful -- I am.

Jesus (Mr. Perfect, mind you) wasn't here on earth to say "never" to anything. He was the opposite of that, in fact. He would always talk to anyone, always heal, always listen, always care, always love. He's still doing that today. So, why am I saying never? "Never" puts limits on everything.

Including blessings.

It's also pride that makes me think I know timing better than my God I'm praying to.

And we all know that can't possibly be true.

But, this is:

It really is. Even if what we're asking for changes, or if we change along the way.

And I really dislike long blog posts. Because most of the time when I'm reading blogs like this, they frustrate me. I want the meat of the story in less than 400 words so I can gain some insight and move along with my day.

I dislike this post because it's too long. Again, my apologies.

The moral of this post? Never say never, timing is everything, and keeping asking for what you want.

Takes care of just about everything in your life now, doesn't it?

-HJS

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Just Say Yes

This year is my year of yes. At least, more yes than no, and more yes's even when it hurts to say yes.

Why? Because cool things happen when one says yes. (Yes to the right things, anyway).

But, I'm serious. You can't imagine the crazy good things that happen when you let go and say yes.

Case in point:

We went to the California Auto Museum here in Sacramento a couple days ago. The coolest little museum with vintage perfection all over the place.

With doors like this, you know cool has to be its middle name.



But, as we left, my husband casually mentioned that he saw "on the news that the train station here was refurbished and reopened and the grand re-opening was today," and should we go?

I said yes. Even though I had a zillion other things to do, I still said yes.

We literally sailed into the building. 
Literally.
Sailed.



Got almost instant up-close (across the front door!) parking, walked into a tour that was starting in a few minutes. And the free coffee and pastries and live jazz was like the most amazing bonus in the history of bonuses.


Train station was gorgeous, by the way. 



All this to say, just say yes. 




With yes, you gain. 
With yes, you behold. 
With yes, even if you're giving, you're receiving. 
With yes, you're allowing gifts to be had your way... ones too good to even imagine.

This little trip was one of those good things.

So, words of wisdom, say yes a little more this year, even if its inconvenient.
You'll find inconvenience disappears instantly as blessings appear more rapidly than you can collect.

-HJS

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bits and Pieces

Ah, the mother's life. For you ladies who work outside the home, I honestly don't know how you do it. My work -- writing, (soon teaching) and selling vintage -- ALL can be done from home.
I'm lucky.

Actually, luck has zero to do with it. I chose these things so I could be with my kids. But, that I CAN do this -- work from home-- is a huge blessing.

Obviously, not every woman gets to choose their working life specifics, due to life's curve balls and what not. But, for the moms who do everything and work outside the house, I'm sure something's got to give.

I was thinking more about this, while I pondered our living room and dining room. It looks pretty clean because my boys don't hang out much in there. I like this. When the rest of the house is a mess, I can always stand here and pretend the whole house looks this spotless.

So, what has to give?

1. An entire spotless house. I guess Cheerios on the floor for many days isn't awful (or the rest of the food I find on it everyday. I could literally feed someone three square meals with the amount of spilled food that I clean/sweep/wash away everyday.) These Cheerios are essentially a snack for the dog, and even for the kids if they can find them.(It doubles as a scavenger hunt, too). See how happy my pup is when she gets to be the vacuum cleaner.


2. Washing laundry loads -- the light clothes and the dark clothes -- together. Woah. Is that even a rule we should break? I think so. In fact, much to my mother's dismay, I break this rule all the time. I'm already way experienced in this!

3. Cooking foods for dinner that I could easily cook for breakfast. While it's wasn't pancakes last time I cooked a breakfast dinner (it was egg burritos, which are amazing), I've got to say, this is such an easy time saver! And I've yet to meet a kid -- or any person actually -- who doesn't like breakfast for dinner.


So, hats off to working (outside the home) moms. The perfect house and home isn't an option, but it can be close (I'm thinking) by cutting a few corners that no one is going to miss.

And for a random bit, I just read this on an awesome social media app called Litsy, which is strictly for book lovers -- write reviews, find books you want to read, hang with other bibliophiles. You should check them out

Anyway, saw this pic in my Litsy feed. Read it! ↓
Did you know? How amazing. Looks like a great book about random bookish things written by Jen Campbell, called The Bookshop Book. I think I need it!

Have a great week, all.

-Heather