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wanderer

After a long few (and fantastic) weeks away, we are finally home! Though I have so many more photos and stories to share, for this brief moment I am basking in the glorious feeling of simply being back at home. Along with the not so glorious tasks of unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and the list goes on…

But that’s ok. Because no matter the tasks at hand, there’s something so comforting about doing them in a place so familiar. A place we’ve made our mark on and is a reflection of us. A place that in turn has made its mark on us.

My mom gave me the beautiful print pictured, a Charles Dickens quote. In my traveling and wandering I’ve discovered the truth of this sentiment more and more. There are few things I love more than exploring and experiencing new places, and one of the reasons is because it makes me truly appreciate my home. Traveling shifts my perspective in a way that allows me to recognize what I already have; and for that I am so grateful.

This place we now call home will only be ours for a bit longer. In a few short weeks we’re packing up yet again and moving on to our next more permanent adventure – Chicago. Looking at the daunting task of finding a new place and moving, I’m scared the new house won’t feel like home. We’ll be in a new city without close friends or family, and though we’ve done it before, it’s no less frightening. So I just have to remind myself one other thing I’ve learned from my wandering: home doesn’t have to be a specific geographic location, but something you carry with you in your heart. It’s what Andrew and I have created together – the love, the joy, the fun, the humor, the honesty; the essence of us – that will fill our new house and make it a home.

Fun fact: While I was writing this post, Phillip Phillips’ song “Home” randomly started playing. It’s a good one folks…

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How’s Married Life? My Messy Beautiful

Cochrane-Moore-701“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens wrote. Though he was referring to 18th Century Europe, he might as well have been talking about marriage.

In the seven and a half short (but seemingly long) months since we said our vows, I’ve learned more about myself, relationships, and life in general than I did in the preceding 26 years. And what I’ve learned is not that love conquers all and “I do” is simply followed by happily ever after. I have learned that marriage, just like life, is messy and incredibly hard. But if I keep showing up, keep putting in the effort, there is also incredible beauty to be found shining through.

Nothing prepares you for the simultaneous glory and heartache that comes from committing yourself to another person for life.

I like to think I walked down the aisle with open eyes, prepared for what lied ahead. “Marriage is hard,” people tell you. That’s ok, I thought, I can do hard things. I’ve got this, I was made for this. We had been together for years, so we both knew what to expect. Or so we thought.

When we get too comfortable and confident, it seems that’s when life starts throwing curve balls. In a matter of weeks into our marriage, the curve balls started flying fast and furious, relentlessly pummeling the foundation of our marriage and our very selves. From a devastating loss to broken promises, from lies to issues with alcohol – the beauty we worked so hard to create was replaced in the blink of an eye with endless mess raining down.

Daily disappointments settled into the cracks of our broken hearts and shattered dreams. There seemed to be no space for beauty to shine through.

But seeds of hope, like wildflowers, bloom most beautifully in unexpected places; taking root through the sheer force of will to hang on under difficult circumstances.  And this hope is where the hard work of sifting through the mess begins.

Day after day we have to clear the debris and rebuild one block at a time. Day after day we have to choose to trust – ourselves and each other – and keep moving forward. Day after day we have to rediscover that person we chose to marry and learn to love them, to truly accept them in all their broken humanity, all over again. Some days one or both of us don’t think we can make it, and that scares me more than the mess itself. But we keep trying, keep taking tiny steps of grace; each step uncovering just a bit of beauty.

The beauty shows up in the unexpected and wildly ordinary moments. A glimpse of my husband’s face, alive with passion, as he prepares to pilot a plane. The soft brush of his hand on my hip as I wash the dishes. Working together, side by side, to weed the garden and make room for new growth. The magic of uttering “Thank You” and “I Love You” to one another, even on the worst of days. Sometimes it’s simply those precious few moments before we fall asleep as we hold each other close, our silent victory lap, we made it through another day.

When I get asked a dozen times a day, “How’s married life?” I know these are the things I’m not supposed to say. Hide the mess, sing out the beauty. I should, and usually do, smile and respond, “great!” But the truth is, beauty and mess coexist. It’s their inseparable intermingling that make life and love honest, real, and incredibly enlightening.

 

momasteryThis essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Making Time

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In today’s fast-paced society, there seem to be limitless demands on our limited time, energy, and attention. With the continual emergence of new and better technology, along with the “there’s an app for that” mentality, there is so much more we are expected to do or know simply because we have the ability to do things quickly and simultaneously.

But there’s a problem with this idea of doing more at once, and it’s the concept of multi-tasking. I am exceptionally good at multi-tasking because I am exceptionally bad at focusing my attention on any single task. The problem is, though, when I multi-task I leave in my wake a slew of unfinished projects, along with the feeling that I haven’t really accomplished anything productive. I affectionately refer to myself as a half-assed multi-tasker.

I thought I was the only one who fell into this brilliant category, but it turns out humans as a whole aren’t actually as good at multi-tasking as we would like to believe. If we can’t do 7 things at once, then how are we ever supposed to accomplish the 7,263 things on our daily to-do (and want-to-do) lists?

Ironically my inspiration for time management came from one of the places where I often focus the least amount of time – creativity. For creatives like myself, time management proves to be even more difficult. We need to take time to tap into that mystical place inside ourselves and produce our own form of art, yet this need constantly seems to fall behind life’s other more pressing matters (who needs to cook dinner or get to work anyway?). But I read something by one of my favorite authors, Liz Gilbert, recently about the toll ignoring our creativity can take by manifesting in negative ways in other areas of our life. Her remedy for prioritizing this all-important creative need was to give it just a little time – to devote 30 minutes a day, even on her busiest days, towards her writing. Just 30 minutes – I can do that.

Then I realized I don’t have to limit devoting small blocks of focused attention only to my creative pursuits. This idea of time blocking may very well help me regain my time, sanity, and productivity. Rather than my usual mode of heading home with a list of tasks and no real plan, I’m going to block off specific and manageable chunks of time to focus on accomplishing a certain thing. 30 minutes devoted solely to cleaning the kitchen, 30 minutes spent just playing with the dogs, 30 minutes working on meal planning and grocery list.

One caveat to this whole plan of time-blocking is being realistic. For me that means not blocking out every half hour chunk of time to try to accomplish everything. The goal of time management is stress reduction, so flexibility is key. In a four hour evening, it would work to block out three half-hour periods.

Various tasks will of course take longer or shorter than the allotted 30 minutes, but that’s not the point. The point is to make a commitment to devote uninterrupted time to something and see what magic can be accomplished when we truly focus. As with all of life, it’s an experiment.

Do you have any fool-proof tips for time management? I’d love to know, because this crazy world seems to just keep getting busier…

Weekend Wandering: The Hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got holiday parties, gift making, and card sending to look forward to. Last weekend, to get into the Christmas spirit, we went on a little adventure to find our first married Christmas tree!

Since it’s our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs., we decided to do something a little more special than pick a tree from the Kroger parking lot.  So we headed out in the country to Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm in Heiskell, Tennessee to chose and cut our own tree.

IMG_4041Though it was a cold and overcast day, it was so much fun to get to wander around and see all the beautiful trees.   IMG_4034It brought back such joyful memories of childhood when my family used to visit local farms to pick a tree.

IMG_4055Everyone in the family seemed to enjoy it, so here’s hoping this is a Christmas tradition we can keep!

Another wonderful thing about visiting a Christmas tree farm are the choices! Who knew there were so many beautiful varieties of trees to choose from?

Of course there is the traditional Frasier Fir, also known as the “Cadillac of Christmas Trees.”

IMG_4046My team was not so impressed by the Caddies. Beautiful, but we wanted something a little different from the norm. (sidenote: Frasier Firs grow best in higher altitudes, so Bluebird Farm brings them in fresh daily from a friendly farm in North Carolina).

Next we had lovely Leyland Cypress.

IMG_4035Which was a top contender and obviously Bella’s favorite…

IMG_4040Then there’s the diminutive Norway Spruce.

IMG_4043As with most things we do, we were a little late in the game to getting our tree, so all the taller spruces had been picked over.

Finally, our favorite was the unique yet beautiful Arizona Cypress.

IMG_4052With it’s perfect shape, spindly branches, and silver-green color, we found it to be stunning.

IMG_4048 Though it’s not everyone’s style, for us the Arizona Cypress was the perfect balance of traditional style, with a twist of something just a bit different thrown in for good measure.

IMG_4049Besides, our first Christmas as husband and wife calls for something unique and special right?

The handsome husband set to the tough task of sawing down the tree.

IMG_4053IMG_4057While Bella and I helped of course…

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IMG_4054And… Success!

IMG_4060We left the heavy lifting to the man of the house.

IMG_4062Once home, we got her all lit up and, I know I’m a bit biased here, but I think she looks pretty fantastic.

IMG_4074Though someone’s not so happy about having to compete for attention…

IMG_4077All in all, our first annual Moore Family Hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree was an overwhelming success! Looking forward to many many more.

Sweet Dreams

Much of my time is spent dreaming. And that’s not just because I love to stay snuggled under covers in a deep sleep; although that is fabulous as well. I mean the kinds of dreams that swirl around your mind in waking hours. The ones that expand to fill up any empty space that remains throughout the day. Or in my case, dreams that overtake my mind, around which daily life must settle into place.

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Most recently my dreams have revolved a great deal around houses – preferably ones without wheels. A place to call home.

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A place with some space to let my legs and mind wander. A place with nooks and crannies to fill with my inevitable clutter. A place that’s all our own.

I dream of a kitchen to cook up divine masterpieces; or just sit and enjoy simple breakfasts.

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I dream of an open sprawling yard for Bella to roam and run.

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I dream of a porch to enjoy a cup of coffee, a good book, and maybe even a leisurely nap filled with sweet dreams.

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But most of all I dream of the fella I get to share all these dreams with.

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What are you sweet dreaming of these days? Let your dreams shine bright under tonight’s big full moon!

(all images via the always inspiring Pinterest)

A Blustery Winter Day

Today was the first “wintery” day we’ve experienced in Florida, which unfortunately happened to coincide with our planned trip to the dog beach. While we’re not experiencing quite the frigid temperatures that the rest of the country is suffering through, it was cool and windy enough to make a day at the beach none to fun. So we were forced to come up with an alternative plan.

What to do when you live in a trailer and it’s not ideal weather for your favorite outdoor activities?

Well I took my new favorite toy out for a test run.

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We went to some of the wildlife “hotspots” on the Preserve to try to get some good shots (hoping to post some tomorrow!). And while I wasn’t able to capture a picture of them, we did briefly catch a glimpse of our first manatees in the wild!

Bella enjoyed the sunset from her personal window perch.

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And Andrew and I played a rousing game of Bananagrams (thanks to my sister for this fab gift!).

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If you’ve never played, it’s a fun crossword game – think Scrabble with less rules and more fun. Of course I won – and not just because “jeb” is not a word.

Home Sweet Home

We are happy campers!  Why?  Because at 24 (26 for Andrew) we own our own home debt free – and that’s kind of amazing.  Also because we live at a campground…

And yes, our home does indeed have wheels, which means “Home is Where You Park It.”  So currently home is parked at Greenbelt Park and Campground, which is amazingly beautiful, quiet and serene for being a stone’s throw from the Beltway and on the periphery of Washington, DC.  Just look at the view from our front yard!

We are fortunate enough to have one of the prime spots on the campground since we are volunteering as campground hosts until October 31, when new hosts take over our spot.  So what exactly does being a campground host entail?

Well in this case its a whole lot of this…

And this…

…and not a whole lot of anything else…  That’s because I’m pretty sure the National Park Service took pity on us (thank you!) and is basically allowing us to be pretend campground hosts – living with full hookups at no cost, but without any real responsibilities as hosts.  This is just because they had scheduled hosts cancel at the last-minute and had a short spot open before new hosts arrived.

But we are not alone – the real keepers of the campground are Richard and Kay, our hard-working co-hosts.  Richard and Kay are retired and have been “full-timers” for 12 years now, traveling all across the country from Big Bend to the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone. (“Full-timers” is a term used in the camping world to refer to those who camp as a lifestyle, rather than recreationally.)  They are kind enough to show us the ropes and share with us their knowledge and experiences.

While this semi-fake campground hosting experience is a nice way to ease into our new lives as full-timers, I certainly don’t expect other hosting gigs to be this easy.  But on the upside, it does leave us plenty of time for walks

and drinking tea

and play!

 

So we are definitely enjoying it – runs around the park, cooking delicious meats and veggies on the grill, breathing in the brisk fall air… But it’s already time to start thinking about our next move.  Ideas?