Grabbing moments

My husband was traveling for work last week and when he got to his destination, he posted a picture on Facebook of himself sitting by the pool.

So, my son and I replied with this:

What the...?

What the...?

If I'm being totally fair, Shawn had just flown across the country, and the conference he was attending hadn't started yet. If it were me, I would have been sitting by the pool, too. Instead, we were in the grocery store parking lot, which we made known with our public display of protest. 

There's no grand meaning to that story, except that my son and I were going for the laughs, and it still makes me smile when I think of it.

The Listen To Your Mother show is in ten days, and I'm in deadline mode.

My assistant and I checking out the venue for the Charleston Listen To Your Mother show on May 3. 

My assistant and I checking out the venue for the Charleston Listen To Your Mother show on May 3. 

Deadline mode means that on some days, we're digging through a pile of clean laundry (at least it's clean) to find something to wear that day. Deadline mode means that I have an "after the show" folder on my laptop, where I'm filing away all of the things that feel important but have to take a backseat right now. 

When I'm in deadline mode, I would stay chained to my phone and computer if I let myself. But I'm making a conscious effort not to do that this time. As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm scheduling time to stop what I'm doing and go to the gym, and I'm grabbing moments when I can—moments to stop, moments to be present, moments to be silly with my kids. 

Yesterday, instead of cooking dinner, Shawn, the kids and I stayed outside until dark. We just decided to embrace the spring afternoon and deviate from the routine. 

And a couple of weeks ago, when Abby volunteered to make Blake's frog costume for a school performance, I let her. And I didn't feel bad about it. I chose gratitude over guilt, because in the end, the child was happy and that's what matters. And knowing that you have a friend who will do something like that is really cool. 

Recently, over at Best Kept Self, I wrote a post about how to reach your goals by doing less. At one point, though, I wondered if I could apply my own advice during this time, when I'm down to the wire, in the midst of planning a major public event. Then, I realized that whenever I feel too busy to slow down is exactly when I need to apply the "do less" advice. It's really all about fine tuning my filter, determining what's a not right now, or not ever. It's about dialing in and keeping my attention and energy moving in the direction of what's essential. 

Be present. Grab moments. Two things that deserve top position on my to-do list every day. (Tweet that).


If you're wondering what a Listen To Your Mother show is all about, watch this 3 minute video with LTYM Founder Ann Imig. It was recorded in 2013 but still says everything. The Charleston show is on May 3. You can get tickets here.


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Happiness for Beginners

So I'm back from spring break, but I'd hardly call it a break. Because... Spongebob. 

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With the kids out of school for a week, we headed down to Orlando to spend a few glorious days at the Nickelodeon Hotel, where you can pay $40 to get slimed. The kids loved it. 

While there, I had about ten whole minutes to crack open Katherine Center's new novel, Happiness for Beginners.

I can recall feeling like a beginner in my own happiness ten years ago, on the verge of leaving my career in TV news. Not yet a mom, and not yet feeling like I was mentally and emotionally ready be a mom. In many ways, those days felt like the beginning of my adult life, even though I was almost 30. 

A few years later, shortly after I started this blog, I discovered author Katherine Center. Center is amazing and gracious, and she's done a few interviews with me in the past.

And so, when I asked her if she'd like to help me host a book club gathering to discuss Happiness for Beginners, she said YES. And, you're invited! (click to tweet)

This is happy dance kind of news. Thanks to Skype, we're able to host a virtual book club. And we'll be in cute little boxes like the Brady Bunch. 

InStyle Magazine says,

"If you’re anything like us, you’ll read this book in one sitting. Reminiscent of non-fiction bestsellers like "Wild" and "Eat Pray Love", Center’s fictional tale follows a similar narrative: A woman who needs a life change decides to go on a journey that will hopefully change her life."

I love Katherine Center because she makes you feel like the main character is real. And, her novels hit on important and universal life themes—that's what I'm seeking in the books I read. 

New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, calls Happiness for Beginners her favorite Katherine Center novel yet. "I folded down pages to go back to—and that's a sign of a great book: when I see something so true and profound that I know I need to mark it."

For more quotes from Happiness for Beginners check out Center's board on Pinterest.

For more quotes from Happiness for Beginners check out Center's board on Pinterest.

So do you want to read the book with me? Yes?!

The Happiness for Beginners book club with Katherine Center will be held on Tuesday, May 19 at 8:30 p.m. EST via Skype. If this feels like a big YES to you, click here to sign up. Space is limited to 25. Hope to see you there!


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If you live in Charleston, it's time to get your tickets for Listen To Your Mother. Listen To Your Mother: Charleston features a cast of locals reading their amazing stories about motherhood. This 39-city live storytelling movement brings communities together and celebrates motherhood and the power of shared stories. The Charleston show will be Sunday, May 3 at 2pm at Charleston Music Hall. Bring your mom, your daughter, your favorite guys... this show is for everyone. Get tickets.

Sticky notes of wisdom

My husband has been traveling a bunch this month, and when he left for a recent trip, I started finding sticky notes in random places.

An "I love you" when I opened my laptop. A "safe drive" stuck to my steering wheel. (Perhaps you noticed that I'm almost out of gas?) And on the wall above my home office desk, “Don’t work too hard”. 

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The notes were particularly thoughtful, in a just because kind of way. But “don’t work too hard” had the greatest impact on me. It felt like a permission slip, not from him, but a reminder that I'm the only one who can give myself permission to take a break.

We'd planned for this time of year, with all of its comings and goings and deadlines. But planning for all of the things doesn't change the fact that it's still a lot of things. And when things get busy, in order to fit everything in, I sacrifice my own self care. 

So, the other day I opened up my calendar and scheduled “gym” at least four times a week between now and the Listen To Your Mother show, and I put “go to bed” on my calendar, too. 

Next week, the kids are on spring break, and we’re taking the week off. The show is in a month. I have writing deadlines. And I’m taking a week off. 

The week off is necessary. I went to the doctor for a physical the other day, and he said something that stays with me:

"Exercise. Sleep. Prayer. Those are the things that are going to make you more efficient." (Tweet that)

The sticky note is still on my wall. It doesn't say, "Don’t work." It doesn't say, "Don't work hard." It says, "Don't work too hard." It's that little tiny too that gets me every time. 

I'm sharing this in case you also need the reminder to give yourself permission to take care of you.


Charleston's Listen To Your Mother show will be held on Sunday, May 3 at 2pm at Charleston Music Hall. Get your tickets now. 

At least 10% of ticket sales will benefit Family Corps, a non-profit that works with the whole family to keep children safe from child abuse and neglect. Learn more about how Family Corps is making a real difference. 


The purpose of is to inspire you to create a life that feels like home. If you'd like to have blog updates from me delivered to your inbox, click here to subscribe. 

Random surprises and many reasons to smile

My three-year-old walked inside the other day holding a bouquet of mylar balloons. "It's a birthday!" she exclaimed. 

"Cate, where did you get those?" I asked.

"The mailbox!" she said. 

I ran outside, fearing that she'd stolen them from a neighbor's house. I spotted my boys coming up the sidewalk. "Where did Cate get those balloons?"

"What balloons?" they replied, clueless. 

Finally, our next door neighbor eased my panic, explaining that a lady who lives across the street had given them away. Her son had taken a few and Cate got the rest. Relieved, I went back inside. I could now appreciate the delighted grin on Cate's face. Those were her balloons now, to play with and to keep. To her, every day is a birthday. She sings to us all the time. 

Now, the balloon bouquet decorates my kitchen ceiling. 

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And giant number 9 from my oldest son's recent birthday takes up a spot nearby. 

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I look down on the kitchen floor, and there's a patch of happy face stickers.

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Around the corner in the family room, there's another collection of smiles stuck to the coffee table. Each time I squat down to peel them up, I stop. Because... happy faces. They look back at me with goofy grins. It's like they want to stay stuck there for a little while longer. 

Or maybe it's me. There's a reason I let them stay. There's a reason I let balloons dance on the ceiling for as long as they can float. 

My children are my teachers. And even though they won't be little forever, I suspect that they'll always challenge me to open my mind and my eyes and see things in a new way. 

If you want to read more, it's what I'm talking about this week over at Best Kept Self. Who are your teachers? What have you learned from them? 


In other news... please join me in congratulating the 2015 cast of Listen To Your Mother: Charleston. Tickets are on sale now. 


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The listening space

As a writer, I almost always have a running dialogue in my head. I piece together scenes in my own life. I write on this blog. I hit publish. Here, and on social media, I share my stories. I give my stories a way out, so I'm not holding them all inside.

But this weekend, I said very little. Hello. Goodbye. Thank you for coming. Handshakes. Hugs. I listened, a lot.  

That's because the Listen To Your Mother season is in high gear. Listen To Your Mother provides an opportunity for women and men to read their true stories about motherhood live on stage. Thirty-nine cities across the country will host their own unique LTYM shows this spring. I'm the Director and Producer of the Charleston show, which will be held on May 3, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Charleston Music Hall.

The Charleston production team (here we are!) just wrapped up auditions. For three days, we heard stories from three dozen people. Now, we're in the midst of choosing the cast. 

I walked away from the auditions each day feeling heavy. Not the kind of heavy you feel when something is a burden. It was a different kind of heavy. The kind that comes from holding space for others. 

When the auditions were complete, I felt the collective weight of those stories, and I'm carrying them with me this week. There's so much more to this process than choosing which stories will be shared together on stage. 

The listening is important. Hearing and feeling and understanding those stories is important. 

I walked away thinking about all of those people, and every single one of us. I thought about how we all walk around with big, huge, heavy stories tucked inside. We encounter so many people each day. Strangers and people we think we know. 

Do we really understand where people are coming from? It's something to think about. (Tweet that)

So many of us are seeking peace, redemption, answers to questions that don't have answers. We want one more chance. We want to share what we've learned. We wonder, Did I matter to you? And we want people to know, You mattered to me. 

So many of us are carrying around the weight of the past and present and future. We're all just doing our best to sort it out. (Tweet that)

We can't say to every person we encounter, "Hey. Tell me your story. I've got all day." But we can hold space. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. Give them space and grace as they work out the stories of their lives. 

It's something to think about.


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