A New or Not-so-new Thing | Blog 9.0 | A tale of many blogs

I’ve blogged extremely sporadically for years. Back in the early days of blogging when everything had to be hand-coded if you wanted to customize one of the few themes available, I had a blog called Emerging Ecclesiology. Which auto correct thinks should be “Emerging Anesthesiology” but I digress. I engaged in questions of theology and culture, the emerging church, and what ecclesiology (a theology of church, not as sleep-inducing generally as anesthesiology, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, otherwise, auto correct may have a point) looks like for a post-modern church.

That was about 17 years ago if I recall correctly, I was 23 and fresh out of seminary and bursting with ideas. I was teaching world religions at a community college west of Los Angeles, teaching assisting with some classes at Fuller where I had just graduated, and developing a college ministry program at a local church. Writing that reminds me that I used to have energy, now just looking at that sentence makes me tired.

Eventually I wanted to turn to more of an emphasis on general theology and spirituality so I renamed the blog Deep Soil and indulged in beautiful headers of trees and forests. Somewhere around this time (age 25 by now), I met my now husband on my blog. That’s right, I met my husband on the internet without internet dating and before blogs where a thing. I had to explain our origin story starting with “what’s a blog” to about 50% of the people I tried to tell it to.

I moved to Tennessee and took a full-time youth ministry position. That and planning a wedding, getting married, remodeling a house, husband getting ordained, then moving again a year later and both of us starting new jobs, a local church for him, a diocesan position in youth ministry for me, and blogging kind of fell by the way-side. Oh somehow in the middle of this, I wrote and published a book of youth ministry lessons on the book of Ezekiel. Why Ezekiel for my first book? Because I like to jump in the deep end and see how long I can tread water. This can be a good thing and very very bad thing, but it’s what it is. Now as I approach my 40th year, I sometimes remember to look before I leap. Sometimes.

We built a house north of Nashville, my diocesan position got cut after two years because of money problems, and I launched into free-lance photography, simultaneously starting two new blogs, one called Wayfaring Artist, which still exists in some ways on this site  as I moved the posts over here when I closed that down, and one called Daily Ikon which was a photo blog turned photography business. Those blogs lasted me through the birth of my first child (he’s now 8), after which I had to dial back the photography thing because it wasn’t paying enough to justify child care. Then in November of 2011 I finished my first National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), and decided I wanted to do something with the novel I had written. So I launched edits, and blog tour and started this site, A.E. Howard Writes to go with the “branding” of my author name. Initially I only used this blog feature for announcements, as I optimistically and unrealistically thought I could write a book a year and there would be things to update. I’ve done some short stories and novellas but haven’t published another novel as of yet.

Somewhere in there I tried briefly to revive Deep Soil, and at one point had (or maybe have, I need to check, lol) a blog called Anna’s Grace Notes, and now I’ve started a blog for my aquarium and vivarium business over on Engaging Ecosystems

So by relaunching now, that brings me to blog number nine I believe. Part of my problem is I kept thinking that I had to have separate branding for everything I did, and I’m getting to where I’m rejecting that notion. Now, what I want to write about here (more in a second), is very different then technical posts on how to build a dart frog ecosystem, so I am going to keep those separate, but that’s it. I’m not removing the artsy maker posts just below this that I briefly dabbled in trying to make a go of. I still make and build and design all sorts of things but I do that for me, not for content to share.

One constant theme in all these is a search for beauty in everyday life, hence the name “daily ikon” for instance, or some of my taglines “beauty in the daily” and so on. It has been a constant theme to learn to live everyday life with appreciation and gusto even because if we only wait for the big things, the milestones, the events, we miss the majority of our own life–the one built from seconds and minutes, from children’s smiles, hot coffee, and spring flowers. If we miss the ordinary, we can’t truly appreciate the extraordinary anyway, so it’s important to make the most of the daily.

So that brings me to this blog, now in the middle of 2019. I’m working on a non-fiction project that I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. As I get parts of it done and polished I’ll post them here. I’m exploring ideas related to empathy, right relationships, theology, and what’s wrong with American Christianity. Yeah, tiny little topics, I’m sure I’ll have it sorted and polished in no time flat.

I’ve been reading a lot, so I thought I could also share some feedback and reviews from my current reading list as I go along as well.

And I’ve got about 4 different fiction projects in the works, I can’t make any promises as to when they will be finished. Books 2 and 3 of my middle grade Keeper of the Keys trilogy, a full novel from the novella I contributed to Wonderstorms, and a new project that will most likely include frogs. Which gives me my latest tagline for this site: Faith. Frogs. Fiction.

I’ve suffered for some years now from a chronic illness, namely untreated and then under-treated hypothyroidism that really wrecked my ability to much more than survive. I’ve learned a lot from being so restricted, more that I can share in other posts, but the biggest take-away is that I am not what I produce. I am happy when I can write thought, and now that I’m closer to getting the proper dosage of meds and all worked out, I can tackle some of these projects and even start bringing them out into the light, even if I don’t have any time frame that I can promise on them.

So that’s where we’re at as of today. Thanks for coming along on the journey, and welcome! Or welcome back, as the case may be

Beauty in the Daily: my big organization reveal

Office MakeoverI’ve lately discovered that beauty and order are necessary for my sanity. And like so many out there, it was so hard to keep my house in any kind of order, I’d clean up, and the junk would return seemingly out of no where! So I’ve been following the KonMari method as described in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I haven’t been doing it long enough yet to declare that it absolutely works but with all the areas I’ve hit so far, the clutter hasn’t come back!

And what’s more, I’ve been able to actually find systems that work to maintain things the way I want them, so nothing gets that far behind.

I’m not going to try to duplicate the book, because I’d rather tell you about what I did to make my office and mud room beautiful, but I do have some reflections on the sorts of systems we need that actually work and flow with our lives for another post coming soon, my children willing and the creek don’t rise and all that 😉

I built my first pipe shelf for my office project! I bought 1/2 inch flanges, 12 inch long “nipples,” and end caps, and screwed them into the wall. Then I added a 4-foot long shelf, in this case, I bought a 1×10 select pine board, because it looked like the 1×12 wasn’t going to sit flat on my pipes. Flanges got screwed into a stud on one side and with four heavy duty anchors on the other (dang stud wasn’t in the right spot and I had to have balance!).

The numbered files are just Ikea’s Flyt files, ordered from Amazon, because no Ikea near me, sniff sniff! I added the big black vinyl numbers for a bit of differentiation and because I thought it looked cool in a similar pin.

The white organizer behind my computer was a church rummage sale find.

I made the wire photo display and mason jar organizer this week as well. They are 2 foot long craft boards (pre cut in the lumber section), also select pine. 1×4 for the photo display and 1×6 for the mason jar organizer.

The display is just eye hooks screwed in and strung with picture hanging wire, the mason jar organizer, well, that deserves it’s own post because several tutorials I found left out key info.The two photo boards are hung with the large command strips for pictures. They say they hold 16 pounds, I put 2 on each picture board just to be sure. The mason jar organizer is hung with screws and anchors.

I stained all the boards and the shelf with a tea and vinegar method, I’ve got pics and will write about that as well (I’m racking up the list for future posts today, aren’t I?) but it’s way cool and totally non-toxic!

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This is the opposite side of the office with all my Jamberry work now beautifully stowed on the built in book shelves.

And since this post is long already, I’ll do a picture only laundry room tour and if there are questions, well, I can always write another post 😉

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I wanted a something happy to focus on when doing laundry :-)

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Resolutions

12511929_10154450996994307_1765693971_nStanding in my kitchen in the gray light of the morning, hands clasped around the warm stoneware of my mug, my mind races with possibility. So many things I want to accomplish, but I must pick and choose.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the New Year’s resolutions and the daily-ness of life and realize that in so many ways they clash. We set these big shining goals and feel good about them, but in each day, what are we doing?

It sounds trite to say that each day is a gift and yet, it’s so true. We don’t know how many of them we have. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Literally our whole life is right now.

Like Romilly in Interstellar, a scientist who finds himself alone for many years longer than expected, when finally reunited with his team, he is asked, “why didn’t you sleep?” And he says, “I didn’t want to sleep my life away.”

So many times we find ourselves sleeping away our lives, not literally like Romilly had the option to do, but in waiting for the next thing, the next relationship, the right job, a big trip, or what have you.

But all we ever have is today, this moment. Everything else is a memory or a dream, and while both of those are important, both can shape who we are, they are the ghosts that accompany us, both sinister and friendly.

It’s easy to let the internet breed discontent with your life, or to be angry at yourself for giving up on yet another resolution.

Sometimes I wonder if we go about this all wrong, the resolutions, the goal setting. We write out these absolute facts and figures for our year and in that moment we feel good about ourselves, we picture ourselves as accomplishing those things, and it’s grand. But life intervenes and goals don’t get met. And in despair, we give up on the rest of them.

What if it’s not about the specific details by a specific date?

I mean, it’s fine to want to lose weight or get in shape or get your house organized or get out of debt. These are all fine and worthy goals. But all too often we go about trying to accomplish them all wrong.

12528174_10154450997069307_1373701358_nThere is no “new year, new me.” No one can change in an instant and overhaul their entire life. And why should you? For better or for worse, I like who I am now. I’ve invested a lot of time, sweat, and tears in becoming this person. I don’t want a new me, I’d rather just keep working on what I have.

What if instead of treating each year as a blank slate, we looked at the only blank slate we truly have? This day.

So I made some daily resolutions that I have more thoughts on, but those are other posts for other days.