Through hike the AT
Travel slowly with my kids
Play guitar, well
Sing and play in a band
Write a book
Take beautiful photographs
Travel the world
Start a farm
Have a large garden
Know how to use plants medicinally
Learn to speak a language well, and use it in that country
Teach yoga to others
Help others with my talents
Make beautiful jewelry
Travel by bike...somewhere beautiful, and take my time
I want to be an artist...painting or drawing
Make beautiful pottery
Learn to surf
Scuba dive and see something cool (and a little scary)
Unschool my kids
I feel like I learn a little more with each passing Christmas. More so this year, since our focus has been so strongly on learning to live a simpler and more meaningful life.
Besides avoiding the usual pitfalls of mindless materialism, I have also simplified our own expectations. We all sat down and made a list of; the top crafts we wanted to make, the top movies we wanted to watch, the cookies we wanted to make, etc.
Most years I want to do a million things, sew, build, bake, etc, but in the end I get overwhelmed and accomplish almost nothing! I'm happy to say I successfully did everything on my list...partly due to the list, and partly due to the fact that I'm not a perfectionist. (as you will see)
For instance, I made our Christmas card, but then decided not to send them. I've never been good at actually getting things printed, put in envelopes and brought to the post office. So...instead I posted it on Facebook. Yes, I know it's not the same...but I've come to see my flaws (like not sending cards) as an extension of my personality (well meaning, but ultimately lazy)...and I'm ok with that.
Another of our projects was to make a gingerbread houseboat from scratch (that looked exactly like ours). But as I was standing in the store with $30 worth of KitKats (for the cedar siding) I realized in the end it was cheaper and simpler to buy two kits and let the kids have free reign over them. The kids were so overjoyed that they had their own (and no rules) that it truly could not have worked out better.
For friends and teachers we were going to make paper poinsettia bouquets for gifts, but the book we get from the library with the flower template was already checked out. So...we made these packages instead; a homemade Yelloweye rockfish ornament (our favorite local fish), and a paper holly garland (Pin-spired, of course). Wrapped up in brightly colored homemade envelopes, we were pretty happy with the outcome of these homemade gifts for teachers and friends. (The kids especially liked the Harry Potter-esque "wax" seal.)
(I kept one holly garland for myself!)
Somehow we also managed to build a loft bed for Laurel, a new shelf in the living room AND finish up some of the painting projects that were hanging over our heads. Plus we made a stop motion animation Christmas card for our families. And I had some leftover time to embroider some wrapping paper and play some chess.
Not only did simplifying Christmas make the holidays more enjoyable, and help me get all the projects done...I did MORE than I had planned. This is literally crazy. LITERALLY. Who is this family? I don't recognize them.
Jon and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this summer.
We celebrated by getting married again. This time, the kids were invited.
(Why didn't we have them around last time...it was way more fun with them!)
Jon actually surprised me with the vow renewal (thankfully he gave me 2 days heads up), and Laurel and I decided to make it even more special by coordinating outfits, making paper flowers and setting up a friend to take pictures.
I wanted to do it on the boat, but salmon season being what it is...the docks are a bit crowded these days. So instead we picked a quiet spot in the nearby National Forest. (we are very blessed in Alaska to have available to us seemingly unlimited quiet spots)
Ten years later I have this to say...if we had stayed on the path we'd started on when we got married, I wouldn't know what it felt like to be amazingly unabashedly and wildly happy. Back in our old lives things that were important; work, granite counters, good schools, cable TV, air conditioning, neighborhoods. We would have travelled that path, and we would have been happy...the kind of happy that really means content...which really only means comfortable---but always looking forward to something better. (The kind of life where it feels like there is never enough time to relax and be with your family, and never enough money to do everything you want to.)
Things that are important to us now; family time, adventure, living life to the fullest, accomplishing our wildest dreams. The path we're on now allows us to do all the things we want to...all the ones we said we'd do someday, but probably wouldn't have. And we'll get to do it with our kids!
We did move to Alaska.
We did move onto an awesome houseboat.
We are planning to travel with our children and explore millions of things we'd never have seen.
We plan to start a farm from scratch, and hike the Appalachian Trail.
I can't tell you when each of these things will happen, but one by one, they will. And I know that the man I am married to is all set to do these things with me.
That couple ten years ago would have looked at our life and said, "man, that's awesome...I WISH we could live like that."
I've wanted to for quite some time, but partly due to the price tag...and partly due to the fact that I live in Alaska and no one carries it, I just kept putting it aside. Until...last Sunday I was dropping Laurel off at knitting class at the local knitting shop, and there was a small stack by the register for sale.
At $9 a copy, it's not an easy yes for me...but I really wanted to experience a whole issue. So I indulged this time. (sometimes a girl just thinks it's worth it)
I should back up, in case you aren't familiar with what Taproot is. It is a magazine (though, I'm not sure that sums it up well), without the horrible ads, or superficial crap of a normal modern magazine. As much as I appreciate the beautiful and tempting pictures and headlines of Martha Stewart and Shape...and have at some point in my life been a subscriber to both...I am simply not in that stage of life anymore. My living room doesn't have to look like a spread from Southern Living, my stomach doesn't have to rival Angelina Jolie's, and I truly don't care what celebrities are wearing or who they are dating. Are there 200 ways to tone my thighs...sure. Are there 800 family friendly crockpot recipes...yep. Can you organize your house in 7 minutes a day...probably. But I don't care about it, and I'm not paying you to tell me.
Taproot is about what I am about...slow living, focusing on my family, becoming the person I want to be, simplifying, making stronger connections with people, the earth and myself.
I took it one story at a time. That's what they are...stories...not articles. They are someone's real thoughts and opinions and life...with a little crafting and cooking thrown in. The issue I have talks about leek-kraut and patching up old clothes to make them new (and cute again)...but not in the keeping-up-with-the-jones new strange hobbies kind of way...but in a real and meaningful way to connect with what life should really be about. Love, happiness, kindness, being a better human...and teaching your kids all of those qualities.
Granted, we have grown crunchier in our 30s...and as we approach 40...we are getting crunchier still. We are trying to live slowly so that we enjoy as much of this stage of our lives as possible. We homeschool, we live in a tiny house, we try to live very consciously...and as such I really enjoyed Taproot. Amanda Blake Soule's hubby wrote a piece (sorry, I forget his name...maybe Steve?) and it touched a part of my soul and brain, and gave a voice to the same feelings and frustrations I have with our world. There was another piece about a small farming family, who almost lost someone due to their farming life...but instead used it as a wake up call to cherish every moment. Ben Hewitt is also a regular contributor, and he's another spokesperson who gives my own opinions a run for their money and pushes me to think even harder about how to live this one life we havethe right way.
I believe they only publish 4 times a year, but as I will be framing some of the artwork inside...it's kind of a steal. Give it a try...if you're anything like me, I think you'll like it.
I remember when we thought that our 1400 sq foot home was too small. Funny. It's easy to say that we were different people then...and I guess we were...but really we weren't. We were us. but without a clear vision of who we wanted to be.
We began scratching at the surface a few years back, trying to figure out who we wanted to be...but it had to do with a nicer house, better schools...though our first taste of understanding ourselves was wanting some property so we could have a hobby farm. From there it grew, sometimes accidentally, and then eventually into a very purposeful look at ourselves and who we wanted to be. To begin to learn who you are and what you really want, on a deeper level...it's like solving the mystery of life. There is a comfort that comes with knowing what you truly want...it gives you the confidence and integrity to withstand just about anything.
Living small is part of our journey. Realizing that we didn't need (or want!) more space has allowed us to pare down our lives to a very manageable level. Financially speaking, we have always lived below our means. We carry no debt, we budget, and we save. We did not need to downsize on a financial level. We did it to remove the useless weight on my shoulders, cleaning and organizing all the time...and never winning the battle against mess or clutter! And we did it to be closer together, I hated having everyone in a different room...no one was happier or kinder for it. And we did it to save even more money, rather than just tossing it away...between rent and house upkeep, we're saving over $2000 a month! It's also less stress on our lives...being so safely in the financial black, not having much to clean, and being so close together has changed our lives so profoundly. It's given me time to focus more on being the kind of parent, wife and human that I want. I am calmer, kinder, more fun, less stressed and more actively involved than I have ever been.
So...how small is too small? I guess that's up to you...but we're in 250 sq ft...and I have never been happier.
Happy birthday to my sweet best little girlfriend, first child, only daughter and one of the loves of my life. You make my world better, especially when you let your dimples show. Next year it's double digits! Where does the time go?
I was going down memory lane last week, and I realized that I wrote my first blog post 6 years ago. Where does the time go? What I found particularly crazy was how prophetic my post was. At that point in time Jon and I both had full time jobs, plus he had two additional part time jobs. We owned 4 cars. We had a mortgage. More disturbingly...we had no intention of changing our lives. If anything we wanted more, we just didn't know what more meant. (more money? more time? more space? more savings?)
Knowing that, look at what I wrote back when I started my blog and my ETSY shop a few years ago;
"It's so easy to get caught up in the world of school, work, paycheck, death. I wanted to break free and make sure that I was living the life I wanted to live. And more importantly now that I'm a mom, to live the kind of life I want my children to live."
It seems so plain to me now...what I was looking for AND how to get it. But back then they were just words...until I read them the other day I had no idea how long I had been searching for the life that I am just now beginning to live. I can see now the path I was searching for then, but it was not an obvious choice that we made to end up here...it was more like a series of smaller seemingly unrelated choices.
For now I really just want to reminisce about six years of becoming maggie blue. This started with me feeling like something was missing and trying to find the person I was meant to be...and I can finally say I am happily, healthfully on that journey. I am Maggie Blue. It started with an idea, then an ETSY shop, which turned into learning and trying new things, which led to; construction school, buying a foreclosed farm and living in a camper while renovating the house...then we switched gears completely and moved to Alaska and upped the ante by downsizing & simplifying by moving onto a boat...
Whew...that is the summed up version anyway.
Along the way I made these things, and that's what today is about for me...looking back and seeing the changes in myself, but also celebrating my creative accomplishments. I really didn't realize just how many things I had created (that I am truly proud of) until I looked backwards over the last 6 years.
I truly can't believe I made all these things. I also can't believe I live on a boat in Alaska. I am so blessed to have been able to find the person that I didn't even realize I was searching for all those years ago. But I suspect that if I could go back and tell 6-years-ago-me about my life, she'd be smiling from ear to ear...just like I am right now in this moment.
Sometimes in life you just have to accept that you are awesome.
I know, it's a hard lesson...but even the hard lessons need to be learned.
I learned my lesson last night when I finished a project that Laurel and I had started together. It was going to be an embroidered felted bowl. (felted first, with an embroidered design inside the bowl on the bottom) First I crocheted the bowl, then we felted it by tossing it in the washer and dryer with all our other laundry. (I know...we're so awesome we can experiment with a new craft AND get the halibut blood out of my pants at the same time)
I had never felted anything like this before, so I was surprised to see it didn't shrink that much. Since it was still so tall I thought the design might look better on the outside. I gave it some thought, and I decided to needle felt a design on instead. (the kids and I had just tried our first needle felting project the week before) We had some leftover wool; and at first I was thinking starfish...since they are around us all the time. But then I had an inspired thought...a squid!
All in all...it took no more than 10 minutes to felt the little guy! We all loved him so much we gave him a home on our super-special-project shelf.
It's been a while since I've worked this hard on a craft project. Thank goodness for motivating friends...and for friends who are having babies (and have cute taste).
The original pinspiration for the project were these cute little embroidery kits that you can buy and make from ETSY seller kiriki.
We decided to make something similar ourselves, and made them into pillows for the crib we were buying for the mom-to-be. We sketched out a few ideas, and then finally picked the ones we liked best. From there we made a pattern and did a test run on the size to make sure we liked it before we started cutting the good fabric.
Since we wanted them to all be the same size, I used the same pattern for all three. I made three sets of paper ears and taped them on when it was time for each animal.
The embroidery was where I got to have some fun. I haven't hand embroidered in a while...so I stopped by the library and got a couple of books to help inspire me and remind me of some techniques. This was also the most time consuming part...thankfully embroidery can go anywhere you go...so I was able to stitch at the library, the REC center, during swim lessons, during speech therapy, etc.
I think they came out great...in fact...we liked them so much we're planning a little something for our place!
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. After many years of living a conventional life, we decided to move to Alaska and live on a boat. Currently we're traveling full time in a camper with our two kids, exploring North America. We have no plan beyond going slowly and seeing all there is to see, and taking the time to connect and be together as much as possible in these special years.