2016 Favorite Everything List


Raise your hand if you love a good favorites list.

That’s what I thought. I love them too! In the spirit of fun, reflection, and simplicity {just the top 3 faves in each category}, I bring you my 2016 Favorite Everything List.  

Here we go.


Sadly, I don’t read as many books in a year as I want to. {I start way more than I finish.} And this was one of those years where I loved almost everything I read. But in the end, these three very different books jumped out at me:

All the Pretty Things: The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went Through Fire to Find Her Way Home by Edie Wadsworth


I read Edie’s memoir in one day and it stunned me. Writing about hard things and difficult people with grace and compassion is a complicated task but Edie does it beautifully and the world is better for it. This book made my heart swell with love for Edie and for her family. It also gave me hope for my own relationships and complicated story.


The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile


This is the third book I’ve read on the Enneagram over the years. If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram but you’d like to, this is the book to begin with. I’m a bit of an Enneagram junkie {my friends call me the Ennea-vangelist}, but I fully admit that it can feel tricky and overwhelming at first. Numbers! Arrows! Wings!

This book is a primer for real people and we needed it. I love it so much and feel like I’ve already sold a thousand copies through my word-of-mouth endorsement of it.


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King


I know. This one may not appeal to those of you who aren’t writers but I loved it so, so much and have gone back to it since my first reading. {Always a good sign.}

Because I’m not a fan of horror or Sci-Fi, this is the only Stephen King book I’ve ever actually read. And even though he’s a fiction writer and I’m not, so much of what he teaches — through his life story and witty, direct instruction — applied to my own writing in a powerful way.

This is a book about his personal life — as a son, a creative soul, a husband, a father, an alcoholic. But it’s told through the lens of his writing life. It’s really a beautiful story and I came away with boatloads of respect for him as a writer and a human being.

FYI: Since 2009, I’ve kept a running list of most of the books I’ve read. Click here to check it out.


TV Shows


I just rigged up a tiny TV in my newly-painted office and I never want to leave.

Per usual, I’m late to the party on each of these shows. I was too busy having babies and surviving the toddler years when these came out on actual television and watching TV was HARD back then! There was no instant streaming and binge-watching. There was setting the VCR or the TiVo {if you had one} or renting entire seasons from the library and then paying a fortune when you forget to return them on time.

My kids don’t know how we ever survived.

But sometimes it’s nice to do things later. I waited to read Harry Potter until I read them to my kids and it was so fun to experience the story together for the first time. The same has been true for all three of these shows. I’ve watched them with my daughter and it’s the stuff dreams are made of. {The Ministry of Netflix has been one of my favorite gifts / discoveries of 2016.}


The characters! The edge of your seats storyline! The moving back and forth between present, past, and future! The best.

Friday Night Lights

Again with the characters. They are so human and approachable. They make the worst decisions and you’re rooting for them anyway. It goes without saying that Eric and Tami Taylor are one of my favorite TV marriages ever. I’m crazy for this show.

Gilmore Girls

I mean, could I be any later to this one? We started watching it in October of 2015 and I’m not gonna lie, it took me a while to get into it. Lorelei and Rory use SO MANY WORDS and the plot moved painfully slow. But then the magic begin to fall from the sky like snow in Stars Hollow and we were All In. We’ve put all other shows on hold and are watching this one like it’s our job because we’re dying to get to the newly released season.



{I saw none of these in the theater. Shocker.}



“A team of reporters and editors at the Boston Globe relentlessly investigate a shocking child molestation cover-up by the Catholic Church.” {from Netflix}

This movie made me want to quit my life, move to a big city, and become an investigative journalist. It was such a well-done film and covered a difficult topic without being gratuitous or sensationalist. And the acting was superb!

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch + Keira Knightley + WW2 + code-breaking + drama. Yes please!  This one will both inspire you and break your heart.

Jane Eyre

I never actually read Jane Eyre though I do plan on it one day. And I usually don’t watch movies if I haven’t read the book. But I broke the rules for this one and I’m glad I did. It’s worth it for the cinematography alone.




source: voxer.com


Again, nothing new about this. But I had to get the app because my Artists Bench friends {a group that began last spring} used it to communicate.

And then I wondered why I’d waited it so long! It’s a combination of text + voicemail + voice memo + ability to send pictures. When I try to explain it to people, they don’t see why it’s a big deal.

You just have to use it. I feel like it’s talking on the phone for introverts. It’s convenient, you respond when the timing is right for you, and you can adjust the speed in which the person is talking. {Perfect for when you’re listening to me because I tend to ramble and talk too slow.}


If you swipe left on texts and hold, it shows the time.

I mentioned this in November on “What I Learned” but it bears repeating because I use it all the time.

My teenage daughter showed this tip to my husband and me. He and I were all “minds blown” and she was all “Um, everyone knows this.” Because of course.

Here’s a little tutorial that explains it better than I can.



Bullet Journaling



I take a super slack approach to bullet-journaling because if something isn’t easy, I won’t do it. {A lesson I’ve learned 15 million times and always the hard way.}

I started mid-year with a $4 notebook from Walmart to try it out. It’s totally for me but only if I keep it as mind-numbingly simple as possible. I just ordered a legit bullet journal from bulletjournal.com and I’m so excited to begin a new year with it! If you haven’t heard of bullet journaling, I won’t try to explain. Instead I’ll point you to my favorite resources.


How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide {The Lazy Genius Collective} 

Bullet Journaling Made Easy {Edie Wadsworth}

When I watched Edie’s video, I realized that I’d sort of been bullet journaling for years, minus the index approach. She gave me permission to be way more laid back about the whole thing and that’s what makes it work for me.



Mamuye Tote from Fashionable 

I talked about this purse in November but she deserves a place here too.

Over a year ago, I purchased this bag from Fashionable. For ages I’d been looking for a fabulous leather tote but I also loved the idea of purchasing with purpose. I’ve waited a full year before I talked about it because I wanted to see how it held up.


I’m happy to report that this Mamuye tote is going strong and gets better with age. It serves as my everyday purse {and I keep a clutch inside of it that I can grab in case I just want to run into the grocery store, sans tote bag.} It holds all my regular purse stuff + my bullet journal + work notebook + laptop + wadded up cardigan. Basically, it has the capacity of a piece of luggage but the lightweight-ness of a knapsack. It can rest flat on the floor without falling over but doesn’t have so much structure that it’s stiff.

It’s the best, is what I’m saying. But what’s really the best is that when I buy a bag, I’m creating jobs for heroic women in Ethiopia who are working their way toward opportunity, one stitch at a time.

Click here to learn more about my favorite bag and to scoop up something FashionABLE for yourself!


Non-stick slow cooker


A while back my mom and I were at the flea market and a woman was selling a brand-new, in-the-box slow cooker. My old crock pot was so old that it had started cooking things fast instead of slow, resulting in disappointing pot roast and dinner that was ready by noon instead of 5:00.

So my mom treated me to a $20 slow cooker and it happened to be non-stick.

I will never, ever return to a regular slow cooker again. Because crock pots are awesome and make life easier…until you have to clean them. A non-stick pot is the best friend you didn’t know you needed.

The one pictured is the one I have but it looks like they don’t make it anymore! Womp womp. But I did some research and came up with this one.


I’m sorry, it’s expensive but it does get fantastic reviews. Apparently non-stick slow cookers are super hard to find. Let me know if you find one and I’ll add the link!


L’oreal Colour Riche Balm


It’s color that you can’t really mess up + balmy goodness. {I’ve purchased three of them because a certain 15-year-old in my house likes them too.}

Here’s an amazon link in case you’d like a tube and don’t want to leave your house, but you can also find them at your local drug store.



How a 92-Year-Old Woman Taught Me the Real Value of My Right-Now Work

This post is a story, a confession, a wake-up call, and an invitation to trust. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written and apparently it was one of yours too. {This is something I need to read on the regular.}



For the Overwhelmed Mom of Little Kids: 8 Things I Wish I’d Known

Inspired by a night of home movies from when my kids were little. If you have little ones or even big ones, there are 8 takeaways here for all of us.

for the overwhelmed mom


How I Almost Let a Horrible Light Fixture Ruin My Life

That time an Evil Light Fixture conspired to ruin everything. And by everything I mean a surprise weekend makeover of my daughter’s room.

Did Evil triumph? Or did my hot glue gun and yarn get the last word? You’ll have to read on to find out. : )

light fixture header pic


Okay, so it was my only series, but it’s a series that includes some of my favorite posts {that are some of your favorite posts too.} Of all the creative work I did this year, these posts were my favorite. Living in the tension between our right-now lives and our hoped-for work is a topic I long to explore more in the coming year. I invite you to join me.

How to Pursue Your Hoped-For Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

Click here or on the picture for a list of all 8 posts in the series. The new year is a great time to Begin Again. Again. {And I am 100% talking to myself here.}

right now work header


At the end of another year, I want to say I’m grateful for each of you. Thank you for making space in your day and room in your inbox. At some point I’d love to do an official reader’s survey but that doesn’t mean I can’t do an informal ask now.

What would you love to see more of? Less of?

Favorite topics?

New topics?

Questions I can answer? 

I’m all ears. You can reply in the comments or hit reply to this e-mail {if you’e reading as an e-mail.} Or e-mail me directly: marianvischer @ gmail dot com.

We can also connect on Facebook, Twitter, or {my FAVORITE} Instagram.

insta collage

Happy New Year, friends. I’d love to know some of your favorite things from 2016!


New here? I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

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school made simple freebie header

If you’re overwhelmed by the many educational options for your kids, if you’re curious about the most important questions to ask, I have a FREE resource created just for you!


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When the Crazy Begins to Settle & the Imagined Becomes Real: Notes on a New Year

MI walk

Happy New Year! 13 days late.

Cranking up the blog after the holidays is a struggle every year. Much like cranking up the juicer and cranking up ye olde exercise routine. The older I get, the more I realize that the only way to win is to keep lowering one’s standards. I don’t feel the need to try so hard at ALL THE THINGS anymore. Think of me what you wish.

This is such a weird post and here’s why. For some reason I feel like I can’t begin writing “real posts” until I sweep out the cobwebs of my life and tell you what’s been going on with my big important self. I have all sorts of things I want to write about in the coming year but I don’t feel like I can do that until we catch up.

And by “we” I mean “I” because this is obviously a one-way dialogue. Which is technically a monologue.

Before I jump into the state of things presently, I offer notes on 2015: The Year I Almost Died. Not really. But in retrospect it sort of feels like it.

The year we tried to sell our house again. Then the year we quit trying to sell our house. Then the year we tried selling our house again, againThen the year our house finally sold and we moved. And then the year I almost died because moving is hell and I mean that with all of my heart.

Amid the whirlwind of showings and chronic uncertainty {and my minivan junked up with laundry and the dog and the kids and whatever chaos I couldn’t get put away before a showing}, some awesome stuff still came my way.

I took a part-time as the communications gal for a local non-profit. I love it and I thank God for it. Five months later, in the midst of moving, I took an additional part-time job. I also loved it. But I chose not to stay for the new year. Still, God gifted me with some beautiful new friends, 23 of whom are first-graders. I miss them but have promised to visit and read them books. I’m so grateful for all that they taught me.

On the home-front, we entered the world of three kids in three different schools — 9th grade, 6th grade, 2nd grade. I almost died again. I still can’t believe how fast it’s all going. We juggle cheerleading and teenagers’ social schedules and boys basketball and sibling squabbles and keeping our kids’ brains from turning to mush because of all the dang screens. Screens that I threaten to throw in the garbage on the regular.

Marian tried to stay strong-ish through it all, even if she did cry nearly every day and have to see her doctor about some medicinals. But moving and sleep deprivation and chaos will eventually have its way with one’s body and soul.

So when I broke my foot three weeks after moving and my kids suffered through some unsavory stuff and couldn’t really unpack or settle in, I almost died again.

ortho shoe

Who’s bring sexy back with the orthopedic shoe? Is it me?

December showed up with the flu and ear infections. January welcomed me with bronchitis.

And I realize this post now sounds dismal with a dash of hypochondria but the point is this. How long will it take before I learn that there is only so much one can carry before the mind and body says “enough?” Apparently for me it takes 42 years.

After our holiday travels landed us back home, I committed myself to the ministry of Netflix as I binge-watched {with a capital BINGE} like it was my job and with zero guilt. I finished Breaking Bad and Parenthood. For the win. I felt a strange sense of accomplishment in just finishing something. Anything.


We’re on the second week of the new year and I’m writing this from my home office. Thanks to the steroid pack I enjoyed last week, I unpacked with an energy I hadn’t known since my 20s. And even though this week I’m back to my lethargic old self and I have a sick kid upstairs on the sofa, my office makes me feel like I’m LIVING THE DREAM.

home office

I haven’t busted out the paint or made her all pretty yet. But she’s open for business and I’m in love.

Last year was hard. I’m not gonna lie. Not in the way that cancer or real tragedy or chronic illness is hard. Not even close. It was a trip to Disneyworld compared to those things. Just hard in a very unsettled, very chaotic, so-much-stress-for-so-long sort of way. I never did get my bearings.

But the crazy thing is this. I am profoundly grateful for all of it. As I look back across the last two years, one thing is crystal clear. God fought for us and I love him for that. Loved ones fought for us too — praying for our house to sell, praying that we’d find one, praying for provision, praying that God would calm the storms.

When we’re waylaid by a season crazy, we can’t see straight and that’s normal. But now, from the vantage point of this January stillness, I look back and I could weep. I never thought we’d get here.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined sitting here in a different home in a real office. {Not that my tiny writing nook between my bedroom dresser and bedroom wall wasn’t its own brand of tiny-awesome. I prayed and journaled and wrote my heart out in this space.}

exercise ball

I couldn’t have imagined the meaningful work God brought my way and what a gift it would be to me and to my family.

I couldn’t have imagined some of the doors God opened up — to speak and share with others.

I couldn’t have imagined some of the storms that He would settle, even though all of them aren’t settled.

I couldn’t have imagined how my teenage daughter would also begin to become my friend — that shopping and binge-watching Gilmore Girls covers a multitude of sins. Raising teenagers with gentleness and unconditional love and half a clue is one of the hardest things in my life.

camera self portrait

We are both spirited, complicated, strong-willed women. Sometimes I wish we weren’t. But deep down I wouldn’t change us. {Well, I’d probably change myself.}

I couldn’t have imagined the unlikely ways God would begin to teach me about true compassion and how that compassion would begin first with myself and then to my people. For a gal who’s always looked for the book or the formula or the checklist to tell me how to do my life, I’m learning to simply close the books and trash the checklists. Because sometimes good advice can get in the way of God. More and more, God’s Spirit in me leads me to just love my people in a way that casts out fear and sends performance to the backseat.

I couldn’t have imagined that even though this kind of compassion sounds good and I’m rocking it one minute, I’m being way too hard on people an hour later.

Compassion is a process. Each day, I begin again.


I’m grateful for the journey but I won’t lie. I’m exhausted. And I’ve committed to easing into this year with slowness and stillness and nary a resolution in sight.

And while I couldn’t have imagined so much of the goodness God has imparted after a long season of waiting and upheaval, please don’t get the impression that life is tidy and perfect. I have my fair share of angst and unanswered questions and embarrassing issues and stupid mistakes I can’t stop making.

Hope and beauty, mess and brokenness, excitement and exhaustion — they all live under the same roof don’t they? Though I breathe in complication, I’m learning to exhale trust.

2015 offered more opportunities to trust than I could have imagined. As I consider the unknowns of this new year and the tender places I still guard with a vengeance, Trust is my faithful companion. A companion I wouldn’t have without the ordeals of the last year.

I’m obsessed with fresh starts because I always need one.

As we begin again together, I hope that this little corner of the internet will continue to be a place of real talk and real grace for everyday people like you and me.

I hope to write with more courage and less reluctance. Because we all need brave friends, at least I do, and I’d like to be a brave friend, even if it’s a friend who lives in the internet on the other side of a screen.

I hope that we’ll redeem the epic and the everyday messes here together, that we’ll be able to laugh at ourselves and find beauty in the small things, the broken things, the not-yet things.


Whether you’ve been around these parts for a while or you’re here for the first time, thank you. And if you’d like to keep up with each new post, just subscribe in the box below!

{Curious about the most popular post here on the blog in 2015? Here you go. Also? I still need to read this post every day.}

When Motherhood Has You in the Valley of Defeat

defeat 600

One more thing: What would you love to see more of here in 2016? Favorite kinds of posts? Favorite topics? Consider this the most informal of all surveys. You can chime in here in the comment section of the blog {scroll back up to the top of the post and click “Leave a Comment”}, on the blog Facebook page, or by sending an e-mail to marianvischer at gmail dot com. Thanks a million! : )

When Pancakes are Passengers in Your Minivan. 10 Things to Know When Life is Cray Cray.


We just moved. For weeks now, life has been pure, unadulterated chaos. I tend to exaggerate but this time, I promise I’m not. Instead of unpacking boxes, I want to tell you a few things because it feels important. Also? Procrastination / Waiting for Mary Poppins.

I actually wrote this post a week before we moved but never published it. I suppose getting to the computer felt too overwhelming.

Now we’re on the “other side,” so to speak. We’re still far from settled but we’re in. {Praise hands!} Life will be crazy for a while / forever so these 10 things will probably be relevant for longer than I wish.


1. Call in all your favors and say no to everything. Now is not the time to go above and beyond.

2. Marie Callendar makes delicious meals in family-size containers. And by delicious I mean they will at least fill up your family and save you from cooking and cleaning and another run through the drive-thru, lest the Chick-Fil-A clerk say, “Oh! You again?”

3. Accept that you will do things like obsessively organize papers that have been in files for 15 years instead of packing actual boxes. You might drink a glass of wine in the attic and message your grad school friend and ask her what to do with ALL THE STUFF that proves you once had a brain and once read important books and once wrote papers with words like “hegemony.”

4. Children are ridiculous and cannot begin to appreciate your grown-up stress. They will have the audacity to ask for things like clean underwear and help with homework. The nerve. Dismiss them as much as you can and assure yourself that you are helping them develop resilience.

5. You are fully convinced that you will never again feel settled, normal, or sane. You dream of sleeping for 10 days straight but ironically, you need medicine to stay asleep.

6. You will drive by 7 / 11 and decide it’s a fine time to stress-eat a Snicker’s Bar and inhale a Big Gulp. Then you will hate yourself and also 7 / 11 for the being the temptress that she is. You will also want another Snicker’s.

7. You will drive around with a real plate of half-eaten pancakes soaking in syrup because how can you manage all this stuff and feed your kids and get them to school on time? You will wallow in shame because who drives around with real dishes and syrup like it’s a normal thing? You will take a picture anyway because you can’t make this stuff up.

8. You will get hungry around lunchtime and those dang pancakes will still be there, suddenly looking more tasty than shameful.

9. You discover that leftover pancakes marinated in syrup and sunshine are surprisingly delicious.

10. You will write a blog post when you should be packing or unpacking. Because this blog isn’t going to write itself and also because you had an iced grande Americano {sweetened and with extra cream} and it is THE JUICE, people. Go get one and feel sorry for me.

{And one more just for good measure.}

11. You will look longingly at retirement communities, even though you are only 42. Because the idea of having some assisted living sounds glorious.

The End.

Love, Marian

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