simplify. part 1. {about quotes}

I'm on a mission to simplify.  To focus on completing what needs to be done, I need to focus less on items that don't need or shouldn't require my attention. I'm going to take a few posts to talk about the steps I'm taking to simplify; and then move on to the task of doing. 


If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that I have a thing for quotes. You know, the ones that are all pretty with nice backgrounds and big ideas?   They have been all over the place, in posts--some have even served as the inspiration for a post.

(shared by this lovely lady on Instagram)
I LOVE quotes.  I probably had about 300 + (or more?) saved on pinterest.

Now?  I have less than twenty.

Here is the issue.  While I thought I was using them as motivation; I think they were making me feel like I needed to improve. ALL the time. Which isn't true.

As I said at the start of the yearI am enough. And having a constant "motivation" saved as the wallpaper on my phone or iPad, or even on my computer desktop, I think probably subconsciously was making me think that I wasn't enough.

Of course, striving to be better is a part of life, but it can be done without the motivation of quotes.

They were taking up a bunch of my head.  Seriously. Enough to garner an entire post on their own? Yes, embarrassing as it is, yes.

I'm ready to simplify life.

Step one? Delete quotes.  Everywhere.  If they are really that awesome, and are something I really need to remember-they will find their way back into my sphere of influence at some point.


Monday Missions {week 6}

What is Monday Missions?  It is a weekly event, taking place on, well...Mondays.  The idea is to decide on one thing that you will get done during the week, so that you have a reason to look forward to next Monday. Share your Monday Missions on the Living a Listful{l} Life Facebook page or in the comments; or if you blog feel free to write a post and share the link in the comments. If we spread the word enough and get a bunch of bloggers involved, I'll create a link-up too.


Another Monday?  Why yes it is.

Time for our Monday Missions.  How did you do?  Get it done? Or do you get to make it your mission again this week? No worries, life happens and having to push out the mission another week is bound to occur.

Last week, I gave myself three things to do.  Geez louise, what was I thinking?  Actually they were smaller things; but items that I couldn't procrastinate on any longer.
1. Make pediatrician appointments for kiddos during our April Minnesota visit. 
2. Make cardiologist appointment for me during our April Minnesota visit. 
3. Research possible trip to Isle of Skye (Scottish Highlands) over Easter. 

Check, check and check!  Completed all three.  The Isle of Skye?  I researched that for two and a half hours Saturday during nap time, PLUS some more time after everyone was up and finally found the place we'll stay at after about four hours of research.  I guess good things really do come to those who wait.  

Here's a map of the Isle of Skye.  I'm just a little {read: VERY} excited about our trip.  I'll be sure to share about it after we get back. And The White Heather, where we are staying?  BEST hotel website ever.  Plus, they have a family room-so how could we go wrong? 


So, this week.

This week I've had a hard time deciding what to choose as my Monday Mission, because there is a ton of stuff I want to catch up on during the month of March {which starts on Friday?!? I can't even believe it}.

But I think I've decided to get caught up on our family blog.  I have barely updated it since...um...last Fall?  {blushes and looks away}

I'm guessing you'll see the fruits of my labor here, because a few of the topics fall into the category of bucket list items, like our trip to Rome last December.

Off I go now, I think there are about ten to fifteen posts for me to write over there.


Alright...your turn.  What's your Monday Mission?  Big or small, it doesn't matter, just share so you are committed to it!


unexpected friendship

If you asked me to define a person  who would make a 'good' expatriate (if there is such a thing) my words would probably sound something like:  "the opposite of my husband and me".

While we are are both open to change and not adverse to taking risks, we both tend towards the introverted and reserved side of the spectrum.  Our thoughts lean more towards the quality of our friendships rather than the quantity of our friendships.  Not exactly the traits of people that will have an easy time of 'putting themselves out there' in foreign countries and making the first move to develop a friendship.  

Knowing that, I fully expected to move back to the United States with the same friends that we had had when we left Minnesota.  And perhaps we'd add to the list in the Netherlands (the only place we thought we'd live) because it would have clearly been hard to go three years just talking to each other.  Plus, now in Scotland, just about seven months before we leave this country, I find myself growing closer to women who come October will likely never share a continent with me again. 

Sigh.  But that's not the point of my writing today.

What I didn't expect to happen over the last three years was to create and foster friendships with people who are there.

In the United States.

While I'm over here in another part of the world.

We sat around a table at Caribou Coffee on a Sunday morning last November.  Some of us had been communicating daily for a large part of the last ten months and this was the first time we would meet face to face.  We were missing a few essential parts of our group, but they were there in spirit. It was a day for the my record books.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be part of a group that has now stuck together for over a year on a tight knit, private group on Facebook. We offer each other support, advice and a few barbs (for competition's sake) here and there.

Its thanks to this group that I gained the love for exercise that I have in the last year.

And its thanks to a few of these ladies {perhaps a few that aren't even playing anymore} that I truly feel understood and cared for as I continue to try and figure out how to live a healthy lifestyle on an ongoing basis.

It was out of the blue that I found people that I can now call friends {and will be friends in person after I move} when I am thousands of miles away.

Seriously, a few of these people could have quite literally been sitting at a table across the aisle from me three years ago, and I would have never known.  And now, instead of being across the aisle, they'll be at my table.

I'm one lucky girl.

Joining Kristen at Chasing Blue Skies for Out of the Blue again this week.  Take a quick second and find your way over there; it iss clear to me that you never know who you could find via the internet.  



I think I think too much.


I know I think too much. Obviously, since I am someone who thinks so much I must know that already, right?

I make everything about something.  Instead of just "being".

I need to learn more from him.

And from her.

They don't think too much.  Of course, they are young and learning, so they do think--but its about the logical things.  How to put clothes on, how to eat well with silverware,  and how to be a good listener (okay...sometimes).

Young minds generally don't question much.  They don't question where their next meal is coming from or if they will have a blanket to sleep with at night.

Why is that?  Because they have faith.  Faith in their parents; that we will provide them everything that they need.

I need to spend a bit more time following their example.  I have a Father who is going to provide everything I need, as long as I believe in Him and his power.

Instead of taking so much time thinking about how I am going to live or how I'm going to change, I need to take the leap and make the change.  Live the life I've imagined.  And have faith that there is Someone looking out for me.  Who is putting each rung of the ladder where it is supposed to be, at the time it is supposed to be there.


the soul wins.

Mind over matter.

That is what I was telling myself this morning.  "Train your mind, Jenny.  Teach yourself how to make the right choice.  To make yourself think the right way.  It's all mind over matter."

But what happens when your mind isn't in it?  Be it because of hormones or the weather or whatever dang thing can affect our moods...

And then I realized.  The missing part of the equation.


Soul over body and mind.  Living from our soul, our heart. I think this may be the secret to intentional living. The very intentional living that I talk about so much, but have a hard time of practicing as much as I preach it.

The soul loves life.  The soul loves spending time with the people that are the most important to us and that fill us to the top with soul feeding moments.
"If our "cup" is full with good things--our family, people that challenge us to love, creativity that inspires us, reading that moves us, etc.--there isn't room for anything else.  If we choose to make time for those not-so-great things, something good must spill over to make room. I'm stingy with the good in my cup--I'm not letting it spill over."  --Kelle Hampton (Feb 6, 2013 blog post titled "Enjoying")

For me, "cup" = soul.

And these souls?  The moments I live with these souls are the ones that fill me up with the good the great.  

I plan on making my soul happy.  Not my mind, because it will have its bad days.  And the body can be hard to control as well.  So, I'm going to focus on filling my soul with greatness so it can trickle over to my mind and body.

Then my mind and my body will just need to get with the program.


Monday Missions {week 5}

First up. Bread? Baked.

That was my mission for last week; and I am not sure I can put into words how excited I am that I did it. I'm not sure why the prospect of baking homemade bread made me so nervous, but it did... and now? I've done it. Plus we have dough left in the fridge to make three more loaves. I used the basic recipe from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking that my friend Tracey recommended.

Best thing?  It really did take about five minutes each day (two day process) other than actually baking it.  AND it's crusty on the outside but soft and scrumptious on the inside.


This week? A few basic 'to dos'. For some reason they are things that I am procrastinating doing, and once you see them, you will realize (as I must) that they aren't the type of things that should be procrastinated.

So...this week I will get the following time sensitive things done:
1. Make pediatrician appointments for kiddos during our April Minnesota visit.
2. Make cardiologist appointment for me during our April Minnesota visit.
3. Research possible trip to Isle of Skye (Scottish Highlands) over Easter.

Boring, right? But sometimes boring is what needs to happen.


So what about you?  What's on the docket this week for you to finish and feel successful for finishing?  Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook. If you have a blog and want to write your own post, please do! You can provide the link in the comments and we will all stop over.



It was May 2009.  We had a newborn baby boy, and we were living in New Jersey, thousands of miles from all of our family and friends.  We were brand new parents, longing for the support of grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

Combine that with changes at the company I was working at, and we were faced with an open door to move back to Minnesota, where all of those family and friends lived.  We just needed my husband, J#1 to find a job.

He interviewed a few places, and after having phone interviews at what would become his current company, he mentioned to me, "They are an international company.  Maybe I'll get to travel internationally.  Hey, we could even make it a family trip."

We are not people who ever imagined living overseas.  I know there are people who dream of living in a foreign country--because I've met them.  But that wasn't us. 

Fast forward about a year, maybe a bit longer, and there is an offer on the table for our family to move to the Netherlands.  Say what?

It didn't take long for us to make the decision.  He had called me at work at about 2:30 with the news, and by 6:30 that evening at a local restaurant, we were talking about the 'what ifs' and the 'but what about thats'.  And in the next breath figuring out how to break the news to those very same family and friends that we had moved back from New Jersey to be near.

Even though it wasn't something we had ever dreamed of, much less talked about--we both knew we had to do it.  I'd almost say we both had the same gut reaction that we were meant to take our then one-and-a-half year old baby boy and the sweet daughter that was growing in my belly on the adventure of a lifetime.

It is the single most important and unexpected (because we hadn't prayed for it) prayer that has ever been answered in my life. 

I could write a book about how difficult life can be for an expatriate. I could write a few books about the longings I've had to be near those family and friends.

But without this adventure I wouldn't have changed.

And clearly God knew that I needed a chance to change, a chance to learn how strong I could be, and how strong our little family--my husband, son and daughter--could be on our own.

  • He knew I needed the experience of delivering a baby in a foreign speaking hospital to prove to me that I can do pretty much anything. 
  • He knew that I needed to have the time to learn to love exercise.  
  • He knew that I needed the chance to step out of my comfort zone and become a little bit more outgoing, so that I could make friends in not one, but two foreign countries. 
  • He knew I needed the time and the loneliness for my faith to grow. 
  • He knew that I needed to build my confidence; to learn how to worry less about what other people think of me, and worry more about what I think of me.  

Just over seven months remain until our move back to Minnesota. We will move back to those same family and friends.  We will move back to familiar surroundings, stores and customs.

I wonder, though, what is left for me to learn during these seven months?

Clearly one lesson is that it is sometimes the unexpected...the prayer that we don't even pray... that is the most important prayer of all.

* * * 

There is a brand new link-up party that I'm joining over at Chasing Blue Skies. The whole idea is to write about something that was out of the blue relating to the prompt that Kristen shares each week. This week was prayers that were answered "out of the blue".  Next week, its about friends.  Click on over to learn more about it.

Out of the Blue


40 days and 40 nights

Is it true that you can take Sunday's (since that is the day each week that Lent doesn't include-and why is THAT? CONFUSED.  Party of one.) off from what ever you 'give up'?

Alright, moving on.... 

I love to resolve to do things.  I do it all the time.  At the beginning of the year.  At Lent.  On the first of August.  It doesn't matter the date, I'm all about making the big commitment to do something. I know others who 'resolve to not make resolutions', but that's not how I roll.  So, with Lent beginning I've had a hard time deciding what my sacrifice or observation of it will be.

But...pssst.  It's Ash Wednesday.  Time to decide friends.

So here they are.  Yes THEY.

1. My scales are now in the closet in 'storage'.  They won't come out until Easter.  Yes, I'm Jen Living Healthy still.  But I don't need to obsess about my weight, which is what I have been doing.

Even when I'm doing everything right and it doesn't change? I obsess. To the point where I have a digital and an analog (is that what it is called?) scale. That isn't healthy, and it doesn't help me focus on faith and living an intentional life. {I will confess though, that I use my Wii fit several times a week and it makes you weigh yourself to make that day 'count', so I will see changes to my BMI (but I won't check my weight-which is something I can avoid).  Plus, since I don't use that EVERY day, I won't be obsessing.  See how that works? Oh and that analog one? I barely use it because its in stones, the UK measurement of weight.  Too much math {bahaha}.}

2. I won't be watching t.v. at the kids nap/school/quiet time.  I am blessed with about two hours each afternoon where J#3 is at nursery school and J#4 (knocking on wood) naps.  I've been using about an hour of that for exercising as of late, but the other hour I waste watching crap t.v.

People. I could have complete silence in the house. I could be using that time to read, to write, or even to nap. But I waste it on t.v.  That will stop for Lent.  {And I am not so secretly hoping that's a habit that I will continue after Easter.}

3. I'm committing myself to reading more.  I went through some 'down' time last year, and when I say that I mean my head just wasn't in the right place.  I am blaming it on Scotland's very short days and the lack of sunlight.  So, for the next 40 odd days I'm going to reread a few books that I read over the last year and read a few books I haven't had the chance to delve into yet.

What are they?
  • Bloom by Kelle Hampton {Read just after it published last April.  Rereading AND highlighting.}
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown {Started it but probably need to start over from beginning.}
  • Love Does by Bob Goff {Read last fall, need to reread.}
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller {Read last fall, need to reread.}
I think all of these books can help get me closer to my goal of living a more attentive {listful} and intentional life. 

That is the goal of ALL of these items, to help me really be more focused on my faith and living an intentional life.  
Source: google.com via Jenny on Pinterest

SO, with that extra time in the afternoon, chances are you'll be hearing from me a bit more.  Hope you don't mind.  


Monday Missions {week 4}

Its that time again.  Monday.

But thanks to my Monday Missions, I'm not as much of a Monday hater anymore.  How about you?

The idea behind Monday Missions is to share what your mission is for the week.  Make it easy or make it hard.  Just make it something that you KNOW you will get done; so you have something to look forward to next Monday.  Share it here as a comment or on the Living a Listful{l} Life Facebook page to get support, encouragement, and of course PROPS when you are done!

Last week, I decided I would put together an outline for the book idea I have swirling around my brain.  And...drumroll, please... I finished it.  Nothing to intensive but it will definitely give me a good direction for getting started.

Saturday we did some moving around of rooms so I have a dedicated 'office', and that will help out too.  I am astonished at how quickly I'm getting things done having a structured place to get it done. It serves as good practice too for my return to office life sometime in the next year.

THIS week?  This week, I'm going to bake bread.  From scratch folks.  Its on my bucket list.  We have all of the tools and ingredients necessary but I've just been to scared (yeah, I know...crazy) to do it. I think I even said I was going to do it in the past once, and I chickened out.

But this week, it will happen.  If it is a failure, at least I can say I tried, right? Plus, there is no one telling me I can't try again.

* * * 

So tell me...what do you want to get done this week?


Make sure you don't lose me!

Several months ago I changed the name of this here blog from A Drop in the Bucket to Living a Listful{l} Life.  

I figured it'd be a good time to change the URL to match the name.  That's a good idea, right?!

Here's the thing...

If you follow me via a reader, you may need to resubscribe-so please be sure you do that!
If you follow me on Facebook, no worries, nothing has changed there.

Thanks friends.

Hope your Sunday is treating you well!


New Digs

I have new writing digs.

This is actually where my desk started when we first moved into our house.  It has since moved down to our conservatory, up to the third floor guest room, back down to the conservatory, back up to the third floor guest room, and now its back here again.  

I'm loving it.  A girl can really focus when she has a desk and a structured place to write and work.  

But what about my laptop that I wrote about a bit ago?  Eh, for now, our mini mac is serving as my computer...and I'm loving it.  HUGE screen. And when I'm in this room, I'm in this room.  Focusing on getting things done.  

So...I think you'll be hearing from me a bit more often. 


On doing what you love.

I will forever be grateful for the experience I've had over the last two plus years of living overseas.  It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I 'get' to live in a foreign country.  I 'get' to be a stay at home mom.

Its an expeience that creates a life with (and this may surprise you) few distractions. So I'm left with a lot of time to realize what I love and value the most in life.

The list starts with my husband, my children, my extended family and my friends.  

It continues with writing.  I love writing, and I have for a long time.  It serves as a respit for me.  Sort of like free therapy, and maybe someday, if I play my cards right, it could lead to a career. 

I've also learned what I don't love, and one of those things is working as a stay-at-home-mom.  

Don't get me wrong, I love my children, with my entire heart. I love my husband and want to support him in any way I can. I love the opportunity I have to see my children grow and develop right before my eyes. But I'm also afraid that I'm screwing them up right before my very eyes.  I have no early childhood education training.  I will be forever thankful that my son gets to go to nursery school each day so that he can be taught by trained professionals. 

I'm a firm believer that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  And in some people's plans, working at home as a wife and/or mother is written.  But in my plan?  I'm pretty sure it was just listed for 2011-2013.  

Notice I call it 'working at home' or 'working as a stay-at-home-mom', because it is work.  Its a job, and it is one of the most important jobs that is available.  And that is why I want to leave  it to experts. To the women who are passionate about working at home. I have an undying respect and admiration for those moms {and dads, as the case may be}.

I know I'm an expert on my own children. I value that, and I realize that.  But, I also don't think that working outside of the home will be detrimental to my children or to society.   

So when my husband did a financial report to see if I would need to go back to work when we move back to the U.S. the findings were positive.  Positive because I need to, and positive because in the back of my head, that is what I was hoping would be the case.  

In the meantime though?  I'll be the best Candyland playing, time out giving and cookie baking {and all of the other 1,000+ things that become a working at home mom's responsibility} mom I can be. 

* * *

A Royal Daughter


Monday Mission {week 3}

Last week it was three smoothies, and I got through them all...thinking I may share a few of the 'recipes'...er, combinations eventually. But for now, lets move on to this week.

On my 34 in 34 list, one of the items is to write an outline for a book (or just write a book). So that's what I'm going to start this week. I want to have at least the rough outline of an idea I have brewing in my brain by the end of the week.

How about you?



My laptop is dead.

Gone. Finito.  I turn it on, and it gets to the screen with an apple and a little circle rolling around underneath it and then it goes gray.  And doesn't do anything else.

So, if you are wondering why its been a little quiet here?  Its because of that.  I'm left with two options: typing on my iPad with a keyboard (thank God for that!) or on our Mini Mac, which is connected to the t.v. (so at several points throughout the days, unavailable) in our family room.

There isn't any reason to feel sorry for me.  I have options. I can use those other tools. I could get my lazy bum to Glasgow and make an appointment at the Apple store there to see if they could save it.  BUT, I want to wait until our trip back to Minnesota in April.

See, to me everything serves as a sign. Its all part of some overall plan, and I think that my laptop being broken is part of that plan.  It's Somebody telling me that I need to be on the computer less--at least on the computer without a mission less.

And in a backward way its going to substantially change my habits...in a way I'll detail next weekend.   For now?  I'm off to spend time with my family.

Hope a good week awaits you; and that you make it a good week.
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