Thursday, March 31, 2011

No More Waity Katie

Tuesday morning, I was buzzing through SeaTac airport on my return to Chicago, when I spotted the store, Butter London. I was so happy to discover that they still had "No More Waity Katie", and even more happy to be the only one in the store. The clerk had two boxes wrapped up in plenty of time.

This lovely purple/glitter nail polish is a limited edition in honor of the upcoming Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate. I wonder if Kate thought the title was funny?

Lest you think I am super trendy and of course would know about this, I must confess, I learned of it through my friend Jeanne and her wonderful expat blog, Finding My Way in England. Thanks, Jeanne, it made a great gift for my daughters.

Will you be watching the Royal wedding?

image credit:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Favorite Morning Spot

Our Chicago apartment is very "me," and I love it. When I am looking at homes, I always have two questions:

            1. Where will I put the Christmas tree? and,

            2. What space will I claim as my morning

I am a morning person (unless I did not sleep well.) The moment my eyes open I am fully awake and my brain is already full of ideas.

My favorite morning tradition is that my husband brings me a cup of tea in bed - every morning! Sometimes I just stay in bed for my morning quiet time, solitude, Bible reading, journaling, reading etc. I usually have different variations each day.

 (Note to parents with small children ~ this long quiet morning is still a ways off for you, but it will happen.)

But in our apartment . . . I have claimed my new favorite morning spot . . . the little love seat in the coved area of our dining room.

I love mornings!

What is your favorite time of the day?

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part six) ~ A Prayer

Another of my transitional, no-man's-land goals was to explore using some liturgical works in my prayer times, which is something that I have not done before.

 I am enjoying Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, which is where I discovered this prayer for major life transitions. Thanks for sticking with me through this series, which I will now end by offering this prayer for you and me . . . in whatever transitions we are experiencing.

"Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside of me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth: help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking space of an open door."

3/29 - Just got in the door from Seattle. I am exhausted, in culture shock and very happy. My trip was more than fantastic and I am glad to be home. Just now linking to the lovely Soli Sisters at Jen's;

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part five) ~ Handling the Difficult Neutral Zone

In my last post, I described what I find the hardest part of transitions - the long neutral zone, where you have said goodbye to many things and only said hello to a few things.

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." (Andre Gilde) For me, when I move it takes almost a year to fully create a new life  and I have heard others say it takes two years. Yup, a very long time.

My friend, Amy, was assisting me in this stage by encouraging me to do two things:

Step one: Grieve well the people and things that I had said goodbye to.

Because of the importance of this step and the difficulty of covering this topic in the midst of this series, would you allow me to recommend two books that have helped me learn to grieve well.

1. My all time favorite book on loss, which I have read many times is, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittzer. This is written by a professor of religion at Whitworth College, who lost in a tragic accident three generations of women in his life - his mom, his wife and his youngest daughter. This book is full of profound truth and practical information.

2. Another favorite of mine that I have recommended before is, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Chapter Seven is on grief - "Enlarge your Soul Through Grief and Loss."

Step two: I asked God to help me look at the neutral zone with new eyes.

Again, let me quote William Bridges, " The neutral zone is not just meaningless waiting and confusion - it is a necessary reorientation and redefinition."

 Even though it was hard, I began to see this stage as a gift. I had very few responsibilities, with much time on my hands, which was very unusual for me. I began to think about how I wanted to use this unique time. I often prayed that I would not waste this time.

I am now in that same transitional stage in my move from Seattle to Chicago. Again, I pray that I invest this time, this neutral zone well. I am enjoying the gift of long mornings with a cup of tea, my Bible and my journal. I am enjoying much time to spend with the girls. I am enjoying exploring our new city with my husband and quiet evenings together at home. I am enjoying time to focus on my blog, read new books, take walks . . . all while looking for every opportunity to SAY HELLO.

I admit, it is a crazy balance - grieving and enjoying the unique joys of this stage of any transition. But once again, it is serving me well. I pray these steps assist you, as well, because transitions are so hard.

What other things have helped you in your transitions? I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part four) ~ The Hardest Part

Oh boy, transitions are hard. We have talked about all the things you say goodbye  to . . . the things that end. And we have talked about all the things you say hello to . . . the things that begin. It would be great if that was sweet and easy, where you could immediately replace each goodbye with its' corresponding hello. But, as we all know, it can get awfully messy in the middle.

Years ago, when we moved to Minneapolis, I was settling in and having a great time creating our new home. That took me about three months. Then I began to notice a slow low-grade depression was beginning to invade my emotions.

A friend of mine was writing her masters thesis on women in transition and asked if she could come and interview me.

The first thing Amy had me do was to make a list of everything I had said goodbye to. This covered several pages in my journal and required a box of Kleenex.

Next, a list of everything I had already said hello to, which was a smaller list, but began to give me some perspective.

Then, Amy taught me something about transitions that was life changing for me.

She described the exact spot where I was feeling stuck.  William Bridges, in his book, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, calls this stage that comes after letting go, "the neutral zone." This is the no-man's-land between the old reality and the new. It is the time when the old way is gone and the new doesn't feel comfortable yet." (page 5)

In my words, I had said a lot of goodbyes and not nearly enough hellos.

Listen to Marilyn Ferguson's description, "It is not so much that we are afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it is that place in between that we fear. It is like being between trapezes. It is Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold on to."

For me, this no-man's-land was feeling lonely and depressing and oh so LONG. Amy began sharing with me ways to handle this messy middle. Constructive, positive and purposeful things that would help me get unstuck and give me tools to handle this HARD PART . . . but that is going to be part five. (See you then!)

A PERSONAL NOTE ~ I am flying to Seattle in the morning to attend a women's retreat and will be off line most of the week. My blog posts are pre-scheduled, but I will miss reading your blogs and commenting. I will be back next week. It is somewhat ironic, that I am writing about transitions . . . as I will be saying hello to all the friends I said goodbye to. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part three) ~ A Lovely Example of Saying HELLO

In my series, How to Manage Transitions, we have been talking about the important step of  . . . saying HELLO.

Last week was a SAY HELLO moment of the best kind. After saying goodbye, almost five months ago to Anne, Carol, Becky, Heidi, Rebecca, Darla, . . . the list goes on and on ~ I GOT TO SAY HELLO TO SHELLY.

"Hello, Shelly!"

Shelly and I connected some time last year in blogland. I loved Shelly's lifestyle blog "Life on the Wild Side, because of her humor, candor, thought provoking questions, good recipes etc.

When Shelly learned I was moving to Chicago, she e.mailed me with church suggestions and a wonderful invitation to meet in person. And last Tuesday, that day came and we spent three lovely hours together.

Over coffee in Shelly's beautiful home and lunch in a wonderful restaurant we talked and talked and talked some more.

Shelly is cute and fun and spunky. She is passionate about mentoring junior high girls, her family, hosting missionaries on furlough and studying God's Word. We talked about blogging, books, travelling, husbands and people we discovered we both knew. The whole experience was delicious.

I left with two thoughts floating around in my head:

          1. Shelly is the real deal, and
          2. someone in Chicago now knows my name.

Thank you, Shelly. It is a courageous thing to invite a blog friend that you have never met to spend the afternoon with you. I cannot wait for next time. My house?

What fun surprises have you had in your life recently?

This post is linked with jen and the sweet Soli Sisters. Pop over, you will meet some great friends.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part two) ~ SAYING HELLO WELL

Saying goodbye well to what is ending, puts us in a good place to SAY HELLO WELL. It takes time to welcome new things (new computer program, new baby, new home, new marital status, new job, new you fill in the blank,) but being intentional and having a plan helps.

We have been in Chicago for four and a half months now, and I have said hello to many new things:


 Since I really enjoy setting up a home, this part is really fun for me. Unpacking, decorating, purchasing the bits and pieces for our apartment, actually gives me energy. I like to work hard and settle quickly. But it is a lot of work and it is great if you can ask for help, if possible.


Some of this is fun . . . finding our new favorite coffee shops (Julius Meinl, Bake, Caribou), new places to take our walks (our neighborhood has some grand boulevards and squares), and new take out places for special occasions or lunch (Lulu's Cafe, Giordonos.)

Take your time and enjoy this part, because other hellos are harder ~ like finding a doctor, (I developed a cyst on my wrist from all the lifting during our move, and had to find a doctor the first month), finding a dentist (just found one this week), and finding a church (which took us three months, but we are very excited about Park Community Church.) It is easy to grow tired of so many new things and just ignore a need to see a doctor, or just skip church for months. I think it helps to embrace the new and do the hard work and just get searching.


I am married to Mr. Adventure, who loves exploring a new city. This is really good for me, as I would just stay home. Instead, I have:

     *had breakfast at Lou Mitchells, where Route 66 began

     *seen the Chicago River dyed green
("If they can dye the Chicago River green
on St. Patrick's Day, why can't they dye
it blue the rest of the year?" Name this movie.)

*sipped mulled wine at the Christkindl Market

*seen the white lights on Michigan Avenue

*had "cheezborgers, cheezborgers, cheezborgers"
at Billy Goat Tavern (of SNL fame)

*gone to the zoo where "Return to Me" was filmed

*and we have tickets to see our first
Cubs game in May

For our family, it has helped to actively pursue saying hello to as many things as we can handle. And making sure that at least some of them are really fun, helps too.

PLEASE HEAR MY HEART HERE ~ I am using here the current transition that is in my life, and moving is always way up there on the charts of stressful transitions. But I know there are some much harder transitions, like loss of a loved one, adjusting to chronic illness, divorce etc. If you are going through these transitions, I pray that some of these principles will help to lighten your load.

HOW ABOUT YOU? What things are you currently saying hello to?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Manage Transitions (part one) ~ SAY GOODBYE WELL

Transitions begin with a goodbye . . . a letting go of something. Whether you just got married, have a new job, or like me, moved to a new city, ironically, the big change begins with something else ending. I have found it very helpful to honor the past by saying goodbye well.

In 1999, we moved with our daughters from Seattle to Minneapolis. Here are just a few of the ways we said goodbye to a city and life that we loved:

*We each purchased something classically
Seattle to take with us to our new
home. Dave bought a beautiful photograph
of Mt. Rainer (no mountains in the Midwest,
for sure.) I wanted something for the
kitchen, so my purchase was a print
of the famous Pike Place Market by a
local Seattle folk artists. (I am enjoying
it in my Chicago kitchen now, too.)
The girls each got something for their
own rooms.

*We set aside one full day during our
busy days of packing to enjoy a
"say goodbye to Seattle day."
We went to all of our favorite places ~
Pike Place Market, the original Starbucks,
Alki beach etc. We ate all of our favorite
food ~ pastries from the French
bakery, fish 'n chips from Ivars, and visited
 our favorite coffee shops.

*We planned lots of time to honor
special friends and ended our last Sunday
with 75 people at our home for
an open house for Christy's
graduation. (Everything was already
packed, except our furniture and the
pictures on the wall.)

Let me give you another example. My good friend, Kate and I led the womens' ministry at our church and ended up both leaving at the same time. We wanted the transition to a new leadership team to go well. So we followed the same steps . . . we said goodbye well.

*We planned a special lunch and gave
each women lovely gifts that honored
 our years of serving together.

*We made a list to help us remember
all the great events that God
had allowed us to plan, the Bible studies 
that had been taught and
listed some of the women whose
lives had been touched.

Our recent move involved just Dave and I, but we still wanted to say goodbye well.

How about you? As you think about transitions in your life right now, think about what is ending and plan ways to say goodbye well. I would love to hear the ways this works for you. How do you say goodbye?

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Manage Transitions ~ an introduction

Life is full of change. For me, currently, it looks like this:

*a move from Seattle to Chicago

*my husband being home and now having a job that requires travel

*switching from Highland Community Church to Park Church

*knowing where to buy groceries, get a library book, find a farmer's market . . . to being lost

*seeing the girls a few times a year to seeing them weekly (some changes are beautiful)

*having a busy life full of friends and ministry to having a quieter life

The list goes on and on. Some changes are good and some are difficult. But all change requires transition ie. "the psychological process people go through to come to terms with a new situation." (William Bridges) Get this . . . if the transition does not go well, then the change does not go well.

This week, I am starting a short series to share some of the lessons I have learned on HOW TO MANAGE TRANSITIONS. I would love your interaction in the comments section, as we have so much to learn from each other.

Transitions come when we have to let go of something. What transitions are you experiencing right now?

image credit:

Linking up with Jen and the sweet "soli sisters." (My nickname for these lovely girls.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011


My head is swimming in numbers this morning. First my one husband made it safely home from his trip. We enjoyed a lovely evening together last night. We are watching the series Friday Night Lights.

I made one pie to welcome Dave home. It is the first pie I have made since we moved here over four months ago. Now the kitchen really feels like it is mine.

Our one daughter arrived safely in Dallas, where she is visiting her dear college friend, Kate. It is her first "grown up vacation."

That leaves three of us that are not on vacation in Dallas. So later today, we are meeting up with Christy for a little further exploration of our new city, Chicago. Our girls have lived here for a few years already and are great tour guides.

This post, this little Saturday morning post about numbers, is post number two hundred for Gg - Notes on the Journey. *big smile*

And, just this morning, I was blessed with a new follower, and I have finally reached one hundred followers. *bigger smile*


My heart goes out to everyone in Japan . . . those that have experienced such personal loss and devastation and those that are safe, but are watching their dear country suffer. I am just one person, but today I am praying for all of you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Inspiration and the "Inspiration Journey Linky Party"

The lovely Sarah, of Modern Country Style is hosting the Inspiration Journey Linky Party, providing a home for inspiration posts from bloggers around the world.
An inspiration post often includes beautiful creative photographs of favorite, you guessed it, inspirational items.

my home
my computer
my files
my desk,
has no such photos.

I have been thinking about this all week and finally realized, I AM NOT A VISUAL PERSON. My inspiration often comes from:

1. people, and
2. ideas

So, today I am going to present to you two beautiful women that inspire me every day. Meet my daughters, Christy and Jenny.

I am daily inspired by their:

love of books
amazing ability to create a beautiful home anywhere
creative and useful routines
enjoyment of a good cup of coffee or tea
art of processing life - the good, the bad, the ugly
commitment to friends
creative blogging
great healthy mostly organic cooking
authentic and growing relationship with God
courage in transitions, huge transitions


Who inspires you?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Post #198 ~ Bloggity, Blah, Blah, Blah!

My last post was so fun to write. It just rolled off my tongue and got a sweet and lovely response (over 30 wonderful comments.) I should follow this with something brilliant, funny, sentimental, sweet or at least godly. Keep the ball rolling, right?

But tonight I am a little tired - a few nights of not sleeping well, a little lonely - my sweet honey is out of town. (Do not worry, he will be home by the time this is posted - I do not announce on the world wide web, that I am home alone.) I am also a little bored - no new friends here yet, already finished my good book . . . bloggity blah blah blah!

Because of the way my brain works, the way God made me, I still have lots of ideas . . . just no energy tonight. So, I am off for a good nights sleep, dreaming about the wonder and will have something, hopefully brilliant, to say . . . ANOTHER DAY!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don't Let Me Lose My Wonder

Wonder came to my house on Friday. He just turned two and he loves his nanny "kiki", his version of our daughter's name, Christy. We spend a few hours together every week. When was the last time you experienced pure wonder?

It is a simple thing . . . making whipped cream in the Kitchen Aid. I do it most holidays for our coffee or pie. Today, I had a little cream left over from a sauce I made, so I invited little C. to be my helper, which is a new word for him to learn.

His darling little feet standing on a backwards kitchen chair. His little, just turned two hands, pouring in the cream, a capful of vanilla and some sugar. But when I taught him how to move the lever to turn it on and make it go faster and faster, (another new word), his eyes got big and he laughed out loud in his deep little giggle. It was pure wonder. Over and over, saying "cream" (new word) and "faster, Denda, faster." (Is there anything more fun, than when a wee boy or girl learns to say your name.)

I got a tiny tea spoon and gave him a tiny taste. Big smile, "cream . . . mmm." And then his favorite word, "again!" Another tiny bite, and we were off to watch the birds on the roof next door. Serious . . . wonder!


1.  Ask God to give you fresh eyes to see the wonder around you.

2. Read "One Thousand Gifts" and begin observing and recording the one thousand gifts around you.

3. Listen regularly to the beautiful prayer, "Don't Let Me Lose My Wonder" , by Irish hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty.

4. As often as you can, invite a child over to make whipped cream, watch the birds, explore the backyard, go to the zoo, take a walk . . . and enjoy their wonder.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above."
                                                       ~ James 1:17a

Linking to the sweet girls at Jens.

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Snow means More Soup

Soup is the perfect answer to more snow, in my book. My husband, who loves to cook, subscribes to Taste of Home, and we each chose a recipe to fix from the February/March issue. Mine was Best Ever Chicken Fajita Chowder. I made it yesterday, while the girls were visiting and it got "four thumbs us," which means this recipe is now in my recipe box. Thanks, Taste of Home.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
1 each, red, green and yellow peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups water
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup green enchilada sauce
1/4 cup canned chopped green chilies (I like mild.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 cup sour cream
tortilla chips and minced fresh chives, optional

1. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook and stir the chicken, peppers and onion in oil until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the water, corn, rice, enchilada sauce, chilies and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and sour cream until cheese is melted. Serve with chips and chives.

Enjoy this creamy delicious soup.

Dave chose Savory Sausage Penne Supper. I will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blogging Your Way e-course

Last winter, I bit the bullet, and decided I was savvy enough to finally take my first e.course and what an amazing course it was. Blogging Your Way is taught by Holly of Decor8 and Leslie of A Creative Mint. Both lovely seasoned bloggers with a wonderful, practical teaching style. I learned so much.

You might remember the mood board I created for this class, that represented my blog.

Well, a new class is starting this week, and if you act quickly it is not too late to register. Here is the link ~

And here is Leslie's beautiful invitation . . .  just a small taste of what you will experience.

I highly recommend this wonderful month long experience.

Update: I just found out that this course is closed, which is amazing as we had over 500 students in our class. I decided to go ahead and post this, as you can get on their site, and request to receive their newsletter,to tell you when the next class begins. Sorry, this is too late for this time.
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