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A Dip in the Ligurian Sea on a Summer Sunday: Embracing the Simplest Things

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

I love spending time with my friends and family. The simplest things in life give me the most pleasure: cooking a good meal, enjoying my friends. – Cindy Morgan

Bright, Intoxicating Summer Days

These long summer days are intoxicating. Whether it is the heat and flowers and summer sun, the wonderful privilege of having all of my boys around, the great feeling of being with those we love, or just the ability to step outside and enjoy a weekend cappuccino as the sun rises, I don’t know. But for me, this summer has been the brightest one I can remember. It might be because I am taking time to embrace the simplest things.

I haven’t blogged in weeks, but not on purpose. Thoughts often run through my head, things to mark and write and keep. 99% of those thoughts stay private in journals these days, not because things are bad, but because they are so good.

I’m reminded daily at work about the need for balance in my life. What I do for a living could become the dominating force in my life — what I spend my days doing is complex, complicated, difficult, and yet satisfying. I love helping to make a difference We do spend a lot of time doing what we do, whether it’s teaching a room full of students, running a home business, being a full-time mom, or what I do now — strategic marketing. The time doing our jobs is super important, but it is not IT. Every day I learn more and more the importance of balancing a living with living a rich life. It is important to slow down and invest time into doing the simple things with those we love.

A Dip in the Ligurian Sea on a Summer Sunday

A Dip into the Ligurian Sea on a Summer Sunda, Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Two months ago, my three sons and I had the wonderful pleasure and privilege of traveling to the remote village of Vernazza, Italy, in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands. It was the most enchanting place I have ever been. Time there together meant we were almost completely unplugged for three days, and had time to be present — to each other, to the beauty of the region, to the richness of the food and local people and culture. We hiked cliffs along the Mediterranean, ate local meats and cheeses and gelatos and oranges, and could relax together.

On Sunday morning in Vernazza, I slipped out of the little house we rented earlier than my guys, down the narrow cobbled street to the tiny harbor. It was quiet except for the church bells and the gentle lapping of waves along the rock breakwater. A man raked seagrass and debris from the sliver of beach. Two women eased into the water and swam gentle breaststroke laps beside the colorful fishing boats. And I, somehow realizing the scene, snapped an image on my iphone (above). It is likely my favorite image from our entire trip. The feeling of the photograph holds me even today. It is one of tranquility, of simplicity, of investing in time for rejuvenation, and for family.

Strategies for Embracing the Simplest Things and Enjoying the Summer Days

Despite the speed at which life is moving — too fast — I am willing myself to slow down. A few things seem to be working. I am really enjoying this summer:

  • Take notifications off of every program and app I use — no dinging or pinging of emails or notifications of comments or anything to disturb what I am doing in the present moment.
  • Schedule and organize times with dear friends, set up for one time per month so life does not get away before we can meet again.
  • Family dinners and church together when we can. I am not a great cook, but I do love being around my loved ones while we reconnect at dinner.
  • Group projects. We have home renovation projects in progress — together. It is fun, though lots of work!
  • Dips in the water at the pool, a walk by the river, a Sunday drive to see new things — these don’t have to be at the Ligurian Sea. These times can happen at home, and are likely the best memories.

 

Cinque Terre, Italy and the Ligurian Sea
Cinque Terre, Italy and the Ligurian Sea

 

What are you doing this summer to simplify and make time for you and family and friends? For soaking up the summer days together with those you love?

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10 Little Things I Love …

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
― Leo F. Buscaglia

Becky Daisy
Simple beauty

It’s very uncomfortable in my house. There is no furniture. We have walls and carpet and hardwood, and pets, and food, and family, and love. But it’s funny, after 7 weeks without our things, how much we miss a soft chair, a bed, a shelf full of books we’ve read and loved, a table around which to gather at the end of the day. Sure, we can live without our collections of things that make us comfortable, but it’s just not home without them. Living without is an opportunity to appreciate what it is we’ve missed.

So, this week, as I eagerly await the arrival of the sea shipment of things from Prague here to our home in Ohio, I am counting the little things that I love.

10 little things I love:

1) Carpet: (no echo in the house!)

2) Chocolate Chex (gluten-free, I have Celiacs, and they’re so good after years without anything similar)

3) Neighbors (Our new neighbors are amazing. Whether it’s the weekly boys’ game of ghost in the graveyard or being included in the neighborhood girls’ night out, the side-splitting laughter and warm friendships so quickly offered here are out-of-this-world.) Continue reading 10 Little Things I Love …

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Ten Minutes to Refresh the Soul

Baronne Prevost old rose with dew

“Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it.” -Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Baronne Prevost old rose with dew
Baronne Prevost old rose glistening with dew

Life gets busy. This week has been one of those very full weeks, brimming with fun experiences and ones that have been not so fun, too. And it’s easy in the whirl of activity, in the normal pace of daily life, to lose sight of ourselves and of the beauty that surrounds us.

In the frazzle, though, I know I need to take ten minutes to recharge. Ten minutes to slow down and notice the little things, the small beauties. In this Spring season, my favorite is taking a few minutes outside enjoying the breeze, the re-awakening world, and the unfurling flowers. Somehow, in opening myself up to rediscovering the simple beauties, I am refreshed.

Ten minutes is a great start to refreshing the soul.

What refreshes you?

 

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Live Simply, Live Well

Simple Beauty

Live simply, live well. -the sign that hangs above my kitchen sink

Simple Beauty
Simple Beauty

Have you ever noticed how children seem to love things that are not “toys”? You know … the pans and spoons a toddler chooses over the latest singing gizmo that cost $29.99. Or my boys’ favorite when they were younger– measuring cups and a sink full of water, instead of the pricey toys that lay at their feet. Most of all, I always marvel at how people of all ages can spend an entire day happy and entertained on a beach covered with sand. It’s the simplest things that sometimes are the best.

One year, on vacation at a Florida Panhandle beach, I noticed a sign propped against a window at a beach shop. It said, “Live simply, Live well.” And in the center, a bucket and shovels are painted as sitting in sand. Though we didn’t have any spare money, I scraped enough together to buy it, because it was one of those things that I couldn’t leave the beach without.

Since then, it has served as a favorite reminder for me in this always complicated world. Simple is better for living well.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite sign hanging in your home as a reminder of what is important? What does it say?

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The Simple Joys of Summer

“Live Simply, Live Well.”


In our kitchen, we have a sign hanging above the doorway with the quote: “Live Simply, Live Well.” For some reason, those four words strike a harmonious chord down deep within me, and probably in many ways sums up the values I hold close—family, friends, love, laughter—the simple things.
Summer is the season for simplicity, I think. Sun, warmth, barbeques, pool-side conversation, splashing and playing, and, of course, garden flowers and fruits and veggies. There is nothing better than slowing down and soaking up some sun, joining friends for great food, and enjoying the simpler things. Living simply, living well …
We’ve been harvesting our best crop ever of garden raspberries. Maybe the abundant rain mixed with sunshine has done the trick, as opposed to other years with hardly any rainfall, but the boys and I have picked a couple gallons of raspberries this June (which doesn’t include the handfuls we’ve consumed right off the vine!). It’s been a sweet time, a delicious month of enjoying some of life’s simpler things.
Also, since I love to photograph the living canvas of blooming art outside our back door, I’m pasting in a few shots that capture some of the beauty I’ve been enjoying.

The Back Border garden coming to life: Pandora’s Box daylilies, lithrum, Russian sage, scabiosa, Becky daisies, Greetings rose, miscansis grasses.

Lavendar Illusion daylily, one of my favorites


Heirloom Tall Garden Phlox, with a fragrance that perfumes the entire yard!

Enjoy your summer, and don’t forget to make time to savor the simplicity of the season … 🙂

-Jennifer