Set Your Heart Free

A journal isn’t a bound book or a collection of writings.  It can be; most of mine are, but not all of them.

I learned recently that the definition of journaling is any act of self expression.  Anything that sets free the tightly bound knots in one’s heart and mind.

The doctor told me, “You can journal by dancing, painting, singing, writing poetry or composing a song.  The rule for journaling is: there are no rules.  Just unlock what’s in there, in whatever way it wants to be born.”

Maybe you’re not a writer.  Maybe you’re a painter, singer, composer, crafter, dancer, photographer, chef.  Maybe you’re one of those and you just don’t know it yet.

Start journaling.  Set your heart free.


From the Archives of “Teaching Tuck and Ty

Laughably Insufficient

The greatest thanks is the hardest to articulate. The biggest, deepest gifts are the hardest to give. There is just so much in it, behind it, wrapped up in it. It can never be enough.

Nothing feels quite so insufficient as giving a teacher a year-end gift.

Thank you for influencing this year in my son’s life, for being someone he will forever remember. Thank you for teaching him manners, respect, courtesy, courage, not to mention how to read.

And in exchange, I’ll hand you a $10 gift card to Starbucks.

It is laughably insufficient.  Woefully not enough.

I can’t think of anything that would be enough.

Parade of Home

We have an unofficial Mayor of the Cul de Sac, a jovial guy whom you just really want to be in charge. You could feel like you might want to hand him a microphone, except he doesn’t need one. His voice is booming, his laughter is contagious, he’s the leader of our tribe, and he orchestrated a block party for Memorial Day.

Barefoot children with dirty faces, stained with Orange Crush.
Babies in strollers.
Grills on the sidewalk.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit kabobs, and pies.
No traffic in the street.
Giggles and squeals from the trampolines.
Margaritaville and Brown-Eyed Girl blasting from the speakers of the Ford F-150.
“What brought you to Denver?”
“When did you move to the neighborhood? Oh, you’re the new ones who just moved in!”

There were families of every shape and size,
an ecclectic representation of ages,
a handful of Latter Day Saints who wore nametags but wouldn’t tell any of us their first names,
preferred to be called Sister and Elder,
and they don’t live in the neighborhood and I’m not sure how they became part of the night. But they were many. We grilled hot dogs for them too.

We had so much fun, and we made dozens of new friends. I fluttered about, tapping into the extrovert I once was. It’s good to see that girl come out to play now and then.

Turns out, it’s a neighborhood tradition to visit the home of the newest neighbors, to see what changes have happened since the previous owners moved out, to see how they’ve settled in, and to gather decorating and remodeling ideas.

And we are the new neighbors.

I have to say, in all fairness, Mayor Steve gave me a heads up about this a few weeks ago. I think I thought he was kidding. Who would want to see inside our home, I wondered. Well, about 40 people, to name a few.

So, good thing hospitality is my gig. I opened my doors. Come on in, my new friends. This kind of my favorite thing: when a great party moves right into my house. Sign me up. Every time.

You know what’s also a good thing? That I profess nowhere to be a good housekeeper. Nope. If you want Better Homes and Gardens, then you’ll want to choose a better home that has a garden. But if you’re okay with a modest display of dishes and laundry and fingerprints and splashes of KoolAid and smatterings of BeyBlades, if you’re ready to see grace lived in, then you’re welcome here.

Forty people, from my bedroom to the basement. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It matters not to me who lived here before; I remain convinced this home and this neighborhood were made for us.

When the night was over, when the boys were in bed, and I was in that sleepy, blissful state after euphoric hostessing, I discovered I had left – not just one, but *two* – bras hanging from a doorknob in my bedroom.

So you know. That’s awesome.

Clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.

Balance, By The Way.

“I withdrew from grad school, Jana.”

“Oh, did you?” She jotted this on her notebook, undoubtedly adding it to her list of baby steps I’ve taken.

“Yes. I don’t need that right now. I mean, you’re encouraging me to eliminate things that are unnecessary, anything that can go? Grad school. That’s not something I need to do right now.”

She smiled her knowing smile. “Well, you needed to come to that conclusion on your own.”

“I did. I might go back someday. Or I might not. I don’t really know. But I’m not finishing it now. And this idea of taking time to rest? Thinking of other things and not pushing myself quite so hard? It’s pretty great.”

“Yeah, that’s called balance, by the way.”

The Second Book

“What should I do to begin working on the second book?”

“The best thing you can do for your second book is to write a really great first book, Tricia.  Give it all away.  Save nothing for the next one; there will always be more.”