8 Things I’ve Learned This Fall


The “Let’s Share What We Learned” posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.” I love these posts so much.

If you’d like to join in, just head over to Emily’s and link up.

In no particular order, here are 8 things I’ve learned this Fall.

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




2. If you use the navigation app, Waze, you can change the setting to Madea’s voice.

I can’t type this without smiling from ear to ear because it makes me so happy! I feel safe with Madea as my co-pilot. “Don’t worry, I gotcha, Boo.” Yes, she says this.


3. We’ve all been pronouncing Roald Dahl’s name wrong.

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Mr. Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid. He still is. My middle son received a boxed set of his books for Christmas several years ago and he still reads them over and over. My youngest and I recently finished The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory {possibly the favorite book of my childhood.} Which is why it’s crazy that we’ve been pronouncing our beloved author’s name incorrectly all these years.

So how do you pronounce it?

“ROO-ALL.” Don’t believe me? Hear it for yourself on this video in which he says his own name.


4. My phone autocorrects “wowzers” to “wieners.”

I don’t know what to tell you about this. It also corrects “thrifting” to “thrusting.” Apparently my autocorrect has her mind a teensy bit in the gutter.


5. Nestle makes sugar cookie dough sheets.


Christmas just got more awesome didn’t it? I posted this fun fact on Instagram and a friend of mine thanked me for saving Christmas. Just doing my job.


6. A digital Sabbath is good for the soul.

I wrote about this as one of the ways I hope to stay merry and bright through the holiday season. But it’s become a practice that I now crave every week. Our weary souls need a break from all the input. And from all the output.


7. Every now and then, it’s fruitful to find your own people so you feel less like a weirdo.

Recently I attended the Hope*Writers workshop in Charlotte. I learned so much. But one of the greatest takeaways wasn’t taught in a workshop session. Rather, I felt it in the gathering of kindred spirits.


Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I could just be normal. Be a wife and mom and manager of my home. Work my day job. Live in community with others. The end.

But I have to complicate everything by pursuing the writing life on top of all that. I have things to say, words that {I hope} matter. It’s hard to live in the tension between the non-negotiables of my right-now life and the tug of my hoped-for writing work. Regularly I wonder if I should pack up my words and my blog, tuck them inside a box, and place them on a shelf until the timing is better.

Being with other likeminded artists reassured me that I’m not alone and that there’s no one right way to do this. Lots of us are living in the tension and writing our words, messy lives and all. My friend Emily Freeman reminded me that “movement is not the opposite of waiting. We can move and wait at the same time.”

I write quietly in my journals. I tap out thoughts in Notes on my phone. And I offer words for you in this online space. This is how I intentionally move in the right-now, even as I patiently anticipate the hoped-for.


8. A good bag is worth the investment.

Over a year ago, I purchased this bag from Fashionable. For years I’d been saving my pennies 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!

Your turn. What have you learned lately? You can share in the comments or join in over at Emily’s


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school made simple freebie header
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What I Learned This Summer

what I learned this summer

When I can, I love to dish about what I’ve learned at the end of each month. The Let’s Share What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.” I haven’t done this since way back in October and I’ve missed it.

This month we’re invited to share what we learned over the whole Summer. Don’t worry, mine isn’t an exhaustive list. That’s because the heat of the southern summer and having all my people in the house 24/ 7 makes me dumb and I can barely remember what I’ve learned. To be honest, I am barely coherent by August 15th, but the kids go back to school tomorrow hashtag praise hands.

If you’d like to join in, just head over to Emily’s and link up.

In no particular order, here are 6 things I’ve learned this summer.


1. A change of scenery is good for the soul.


We didn’t do any fancy vacations, just our typical treks to the beach with my family and to my husband’s home-place in Michigan. We did, however, drive a different route through the midwest to Iowa, where we attended a my husband’s grandmother’s funeral and spent a couple of days with family we rarely see.

I couldn’t stop staring out the window and snapping photos of corn fields. Though we logged 2,300 miles in 8 days, getting out of my little town and inhaling a different part of the country was like a reset button for my soul. I forget how much this homebody craves a change of place.


2. The space bar on my computer works as a pause button when I’m watching Netflix.

My 15 year old showed me this, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. {More on the “Ministry of Netflix” in a later post.}


3. I DO have a “book type.”

I didn’t do tons of reading this summer like I’d hoped. But I’ve done lots of thinking about books and wrote this post on my 5 favorite literary novels of all time.

5 fave lit novels

Writing about my favorite literary novels showed me a pattern I’d never seen before and now I’m curious to know if my other favorite categories of books will have a pattern too.


4. We didn’t all have spectacular, enviable summers. Even though social media seems to convince us otherwise.

Way back in June I wrote about how to receive your own summer life. That’s because summer can sure mess with my inner peace. Even though our family’s summer is coming to an end, it’s easy to look back and see all of the things we didn’t do, all of the good intentions that gathered dust on a shelf, all of the awesomeness other families enjoyed while my kids partook of too much screen time.

Even at summer’s end, I’m still wrestling a little bit. And judging from the comments and e-mails from that post, I learned that I’m not the only one who struggles.

Here’s what I’m still learning the hard way. You can spend your seconds turned minutes turned years wishing for a life that isn’t yours, making yourself and everyone else miserable in the process. Or you can choose to receive the beauty, provision, and even heartache of your actual life. I have a million things to be grateful for. I simply forget. And so do you.


5. What happens in August, stays in August.

walking away

Yesterday I sent all of my kids to eat lunch on the porch because, even though I love them with all my heart, I just couldn’t handle the noise of them being people. And this was after I had already been to church and my heart was full of Jesus.

I texted with a friend last week and she confessed that she’d made her kids eat cereal on the deck that morning because she couldn’t deal with the noise of their spoons scraping against the bowls. She also visited the grocery store bakery three days in a row and ate cookie sandwiches in the parking lot just to get some peace and alone time.

This was the first summer in a long time that I wasn’t ready for school to start. I enjoyed my kids and our lazy schedules more than any summer ever. And then August showed up. August turns easy, laid-back, summer-loving Marian into Crazy-Person Marian. All of a sudden, I am smothered by the humans who live in my home and dreaming of ways to escape. I become the worst version of myself.

So if you too find yourself banishing your offspring because their breathing is too loud, I won’t tell. It’s just August coming around again and turning us into lunatics. Repeat this mantra, “What happens in August, stays in August.” Your self-esteem, sanity, and goodwill toward men will return in October.


6. Y’all are stressed about how to educate your kids.

I recently unveiled this little gift I’d been working on for a while.

school made simple freebie header

I got some of the sweetest e-mails from parents who are overwhelmed by the decision, parents who are switching from homeschool to public school, parents who know that their particular decision is for the best right now but it’s not what they’d planned or hoped for. So many of you are struggling with a low-grade grief or overwhelm over this issue of school.

Maybe this describes you. For years it definitely described me.

If you need a pep talk so that you can walk with more freedom and peace along whatever educational path your family has chosen {either by design or default}, this little resource is for you.

Click here to get yours! 


I’m curious, what did you learn this summer?

You can find me in the comments section, on the blog’s Facebook page, or on Twitter. We can also hang out on Instagram!



5 Things I Learned in October

Oct learned

When I can, I love to dish about what I’ve learned at the end of each month. The Let’s Share What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned in October.


1. Good deals sometimes cost me a lot of money.

A freebie dresser from a friend = my husband’s herniated disc last fall. A $150 Pottery Barn leather recliner {via Craiglist} almost herniated it again. My economist husband is quick to remind me that these sorts of setbacks are referred to as “transaction costs.” I always receive his fancy econ terms with much joy and enthusiasm.

The latest casualty is a super heavy Broyhill cocktail table that fell out of my van and onto my foot a few weeks ago. It may have hurt worse than having a baby because I would have paid $1000 on the spot for an epidural.

I just ditched the orthopedic boot in exchange for this snazzy shoe. Who’s bringing sexy back?


Perks: I’m Frankenstein for Halloween.

Also? I may have googled “cute post-surgical shoes.” They don’t exist. {Dear Manolo Blahnik, get on this.}


2. There really is a mug that keeps your coffee hot for hours. 

My in-laws came to visit the week after we moved in to lend a helping hand. My dear father-in-law, who may have a reputation for splurging on the latest and greatest swag, gifted my husband and I with one of these — the Yeti Rambler.

Yeti Coolers Rambler Tumbler, Silver, 20 oz, one size

My coffee stays hot for HOURS. No lie. And if I want my Diet Dr. Pepper to stay ice cold, the YETI can do that too. They’re spendy so if you can’t treat yourself, put it on your Christmas list.


3. You can be lazy. And still be a genius.

Stop what you’re doing and go here. Subscribe to the Lazy Genius Collective and thank me later.

You guys, I have ALL THE LOVE for this! It’s the common sense, encouragement, and hilarity I wish was around ten years ago when I was way too angsty about stupid stuff. And who am I kidding? I can still be angsty about stupid stuff.

Kendra is the queen / lazy genius brainchild. Here’s a little snippet from her:

Like you, I’ve listened to everyone from neighbors to Dr. Oz talk about how I should live, how I should parent, and what swimsuit looks best on my body shape. (Answer: I like winter.) 

Over the years, I’ve learned that if my worth is based on how well I do everything I should, then I am 100% a terrible human being. So you know what I did? I quit trying so hard. And I started being a genius about being lazy. It’s the way to live, you guys, and I’d love for you to join me.

The LGC will be your best friend about everything from cooking and editing your life to taking your fun more seriously. Because we can all “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”

I’m not affiliated with the LGC in any way. But you guys know I’m a gal who’s all about writing the real and kicking perfectionism to the curb and being reasonable about our expectations.


4. Little kids classrooms are a personality lab. And personality labs are super fun for me. 

Since school started, I’ve been going to work each morning in a first-grade classroom until lunchtime. I just haven’t written about it here. My job is to be a “shadow” for a sweet young friend of mine who’s the hardest working first grader I know. She has Down Syndrome but she can read and write and ace spelling tests like a boss. Having a shadow allows her to learn in a typical first-grade classroom along with her peers.

school tower

What I didn’t expect was all the fun I’d have getting to know the other kids in the class. Already, their little personalities are showing up in big ways. I can tell you which kid is going to be a teacher and which one may end up on American Idol and which one will go to art school. They are so wonderfully and hilariously unique.

They also say things like, “Mrs. Vischer, can you help me order-betize these words?” and “You are almost 20 years older than my mom!”

I’ve been super observant all my life, paying attention to things that a lot of people overlook. {And overlooking a lot of stuff that happens to be really important information. Flashbacks to 9th grade Geometry class.} But paying attention to the ways tiny humans interact with one another and with the world around them is absolutely one of my favorite things.


5. Moving saps your will to live. {and makes you dramatic}

moving van

I wrote about our house story and the move itself in my last post so I won’t rehash it here. I had visions of moving in and painting and unpacking boxes like a ninja. But now we’re here and apparently our real life schedules don’t pause just because we moved. Neither do falling tables and injuries and jobs and kids.

Anyway, I underestimated how the ordeal of the last year and the move itself sapped what little was left of my energy and motivation. We may be living out of boxes and staring at beige walls for a while is what I’m saying. {I did buy the Nester’s Cozy Minimalist course in hopes that she will boss me into setting up house one room at a time.}


Thanks to Emily for giving me a reason to think about what I’ve learned this month and forcing a blog post even though I’m living in a sea of unpacked boxes and dirty laundry {and eating Halloween candy for breakfast.}

What did YOU learn in October?

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