9 Project Ideas

Lately I’ve gotten quite a few questions about project ideas and how I fit in time to do projects. This post won’t address both of those topics but I’m going to tackle a list of project ideas if you are looking for some inspiration for March. Or April or May or- you get the idea.

(However my number one tip on accomplishing projects? Start small with something you know you can manage and let it grow if it blossoms. Commit to 20 minutes once a week and see where it takes you.)

The one thing I would challenge you to do when you start any project is to document your work. Whether you take pictures for yourself (maybe on a private Instagram account so you can make a photo book later) or share them in a public spot on the internet or take notes on what you are learning, you will get more out of the work if you can see what you’ve accomplished when you’re done. Does this mean all the work will be good? Of course not. But that’s not why you are doing it.

How to Grow into Your Style

Recently I’ve realized that I’m growing into my decorating style. I’m also growing into a clothing style and I’m growing into a lot of things that I’ve been working on: things like what I like to draw and how, handlettering, even crafty things. I’m never going to arrive. The nice (and frustrating) thing about life is that we should always be growing, tweaking, changing.

We have more natural talent in some things. We have an idea of what looks good or is appealing. We don’t know why something works but we just know that it does. But even those natural skills need sharpened. There’s that famous Ira Glass quote about the gap that you have when you first start doing things. You’re just not quite there.

I’m still not there but I’ve seen my style evolved as the years have passed and I’ve realized part of it has been giving it time. But not just blank time. You can’t sit around staring at the wall and grow.

How To Approach the New Year: Happy 2017

Sometime in November I mentioned to a friend that I was breaking up with 2016. It’s been an interesting, in many ways difficult, year. And yet, when I stopped a few evenings ago and really thought back over the year, all I saw was the goodness of God blanketing every hard thing. I’m learning this year to hold two opposing emotions about the same event. I’m glad to close the door on 2016 for many reasons but as I thought this through I realized something.

Nothing really changes when that ball drops at midnight on January 1st. It’s not magic. Life isn’t suddenly different. I’m not even suddenly different. Some of the difficult parts of 2016 won’t cease to be when the calendar changes to 2017; they will continue and new hard things will arise.

Now I love a new year as much as anyone. I’ve been working on goals for 2017 and I’m excited for what’s upcoming. But it doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will be rosy and all-worked-out like I would prefer.

When You Want Personal Growth

I went up for the hit at practice and barely grazed the ball. I might not have played volleyball for six years but there was something else wrong with my hitting. So I asked. Even though I was a coach and maybe should have had it all together, I walked over to another coach, who is an excellent hitter, and said, “ok, what am I doing wrong?”

He told me. The next hit wasn’t great (remember that whole six year gap?) but it did feel like hitting when I corrected the problem.

So much of growth comes from being teachable. It was the first thing I told my girls when we held our first practice alone. Learning to play volleyball is, in a large part, based on how teachable you are. Will you be offended when you’re corrected? Will you do what you’re told, even if you think you know better? Will you complete the practice necessary to get better and refuse to give up?

Sports don’t prepare most people for a life of sports. Sure, a talented few will move on to play in college, and an even smaller number will play some type of professional ball. But for most of us, sports is a fun outlet where we can learn skills that will help us in life.

How to Get Your Work Done

It’s the earlier morning as I’m writing. I won’t quite claim early morning since most of the working world is already up. I’m trying to ease back into my morning work habits and here I am, writing before my kids are up. As early as I’d like? Nope. Did I do the whole morning routine I’d like to? Nope. And I almost stayed in bed because of that. But then I realized that I’m going to want at the end of the day is to have written. And if all I get is 200 words, that will be better than none.

It doesn’t help me to say “well, the kids will be up soon so it’s not worth my time.” It doesn’t help me to make excuses like, “I don’t have three hours to work on this; I only have thirty minutes.” We can spend our lives looking for the big chunks of time, moments that are uninterruptible. But if we want to do real work, we have to do it in real life. That means working in fifteen minute chunks between laundry and running errands and lunch breaks. That means working when we’d rather drift back to sleep for a few minutes or dig into a good book. (Although, bonus, reading is totally part of the work of being a writer.)

How to Find Your Game Face

My husband won’t play recreational volleyball with me. He says I’m mean.
 
I played volleyball in college and, admittedly, still take it very seriously. I have to work hard at enjoying a game for fun. For some reason people don’t enjoy getting pounded with a serve or yelled at for not rolling for a dig when they are goofing around. Go figure.
 
(And please, oh please, tell me you won’t scream and duck when the ball comes toward you.)
 
I had a game face. And it wasn’t the face that makes older people at the grocery store ask me to get baking powder off the top shelf for them either.

How to Capture Ideas Without Losing Your Mind

I lose a lot of things. Time, occasionally my phone or keys, and spare dollars buying the boys “fancy drinks” at the gas station. But my least favorite thing to lose is ideas.
 
I don’t sit behind a desk all day. I’m not constantly at my computer writing and editing, posting on social media, and making art. I might squeeze in an hour and a half of that a day. Most of my day is spent going over letter sounds, sweeping the floor so that our house isn’t carried away by a drove of ants, and putting wet laundry in the dryer.
 
Ideas aren’t really friends. If they were friends they would come at convenient moments, like when I’m sitting at my desk working. They would come when I was standing beside a notepad or lounging on the couch with a sketchbook. Instead like some kind of fickle tormentor they come when I’m changing dirty diapers or driving down the road or kicking a ball across the yard.
 
I have scribbled out some essays on my iPad while I’m cooking dinner. Two sentence, stir the noodles. One paragraph, drain the fat off the meat. Start a load of laundry and grab another idea. Thoughts interrupted by children fighting and spatulas falling to the floor and the dryer dinging. One sentence, break, one sentence, break. Is that good writing? No, not at all. But it does allow me to get all the ideas down to edit later.