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{This week: Morning routines, how to use a bullet journal for better mental health, Instagram inspiration, and more.}


Hi all,

This week was incredible! I’ve been on The Tiny Wardrobe Tour with my friend Courtney Carver. Next week, I’ll share an essay about the trip and photos with you. In short, the trip left me feeling refreshed, grateful, and inspired to keep writing and taking photos.

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this week. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. How Susannah Conway—author, photographer, and teacher—does mornings.

2. Great advice on writing from Ann Friedman: “I write whatever’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s personal musings, sometimes it’s to-do lists, sometimes it’s thoughts on an article I’m about to sit down and write.”

3. I enjoyed reading about Sonia Rao’s morning routine.

4. A participant in my journaling course shared this article—Here’s How To Use A Bullet Journal For Better Mental Health. I can’t wait to incorporate theses ideas into my journaling routine.

5. Super helpful: 5 ways to add self-care to your bullet journal.

6. I LOVED Courtney’s latest post—The Sound of Letting Go.

7. Fantastic questions: Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up.

8. Follow these lovely ladies for Instagram inspiration: Courtney Carver, Susannah Conway, Hilary Rushford & Alison Turner.

9. My minimalist travel set up: Part one & two.

10. And last but not least, “Give yourself permission to shine.”

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, buy a book or share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

{This week: Tranquility du Jour, swimming inspiration, spaghetti, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Hi all,

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this week. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. A few weeks ago, Kimberly Wilson from Tranquility du Jour shared an interview with me that was recorded back in 2014. I’m grateful! Tune in here.

2. Swimmer Kathleen Baker overcomes Crohn’s Disease to become an Olympian.

3. I loved this interactive piece about Ryan Lochte’s swimming technique.

4. Interesting: The deceptive calm of Olympic open-water swimming.

5. An inspiring interview: Kerri Walsh-Jennings explains how she stays so dominant at an age when most athletes retire.

6. I’m obsessed with this Italian spaghetti dish. It’s delicious and easy to make!

7. Yes to this: Creative work has seasons. Part of the work is to know which season it is, and act accordingly.

8. Fantastic tips via Dee Williams: I Live In A 56-Square-Foot Tiny House. Here Are My Top Tips For Decluttering.

9. A fun new project via The Minimalists: Minimalism Life.

10. Heidi’s Friday Faves are awesome. I enjoyed reading about her friend’s project—GOAL (Get Out And Live).

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, buy a book or share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

Ordinary Beauty

“We don’t usually credit normal life enough for its beauty, and don’t see that it is good enough.”
—Dirk De Wachter, Flemish psychiatrist
{via Flow Magazine, Issue 14}

Today, I have a photo round-up to share with you! If you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, visit RowdyKittens.com to view my photo gallery.

With gratitude,

{This week: The Tiny Wardrobe Tour, memoirs about addiction, Hello Sunday Morning, reading for fun, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel


Today—August 12, 2016, at 3:00 PM PDT—registration for Write to Flourish: A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling closes. This course is filled with a great mix of people, both alumni and new students. I hope you’ll join us for the summer session. The class starts on Monday, August 15th. You can read the course description and then register here.

Below are 10 happy links that inspired me this week. I hope you enjoy them, too!

1. At the end of August, I’m joining my friend Courtney Carver on The Tiny Wardrobe Tour. We’ll be in Portland on August 23rd and in Seattle on August 25th, 2016. I hope you’ll join us in Portland or Seattle! Buy your tickets here.

2. Last week, I talked about an informative read—Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Woman and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston. Johnston’s book led me to Hello Sunday Morning (a helpful site that’s dedicated to reducing binge drinking and alcoholism) and another book about alcoholism called Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. Knapp’s memoir is honest and brave. Alcoholism runs in my family, and it’s been helpful to learn about this topic.

3. After so much heavy reading, I dove into the Standard Deviation of Death (Book 4 in The Outlier Prophecies) by Tina Gower. Once again, Tina’s got me hooked on the storyline. Buy Tina’s book here, or ask your local library to order the series.

4. I’m also reading Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton, the latest edition of Flow Magazine, and Flow Sketchbook.

5. Amanda’s latest post—My Truth about Life on the Road—was refreshing and honest. I felt similarly after we decided to turn our tiny house into a vacation cabin.

6. So good: Remembering we are ALL the same.

7. Great tips via Courtney: 7 Simple Ways to Get Back on Track.

8. Find a New City by Austin Kleon is a thoughtful essay about making the most of where you live now, creating art, keeping your overhead low, and staying out of debt.

9. A fun video: Kayak camping with Kalen Thorien.

10. Yes to this: How to support an artist you love.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy my weekly happy links roundup and want to support it, then buy a book or share this post with a friend.

With gratitude,

The Joy of Swimming

Photo by Tammy Strobel

“When we’re in the water, we’re not in this world.”
—Gertrude Ederle

After I got home from a mid-July weekend of camping and swimming with my mom, I found The Joy of Swimming waiting for me on our front porch. I was excited because I’d been waiting for six months for the book to be released. I heard an interview back in January 2016 with the author, Lisa Congdon, and I felt compelled to preorder the book. When I flipped through the pages of Lisa’s book for the first time, I landed on a page covered with colorful, illustrated fish. The caption read: “Be the fish.”

When I swim sets of 500s in the pool, I count my laps. Between all of the counting, I say to myself, “Be the fish.” That phrase has become my new positive mantra. The mantra, plus all of the lap counting, lulls me into a relaxed state.

There’s something about the water that is so inviting and playful (at least for me). I love diving into lakes and pools. I’ve never been an ocean swimmer because the critters in the sea scare me. However, I love walking along the beach, dipping my toes into the water, and listening to the sounds of the ocean.

Since I was a baby, swimming has been a part of my life. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been playing in the water for 37 years! My mom claims that I was “born to swim,” but I don’t think that’s true. My love of the water comes from my experiences with my mom. She swam with me when I was a tiny baby and got me into swim lessons—when I was 4 or 5—with good instructors, which set me up for a lifetime of swimming fun. For example, I swam on my high school swim team, for fun throughout college, with U.S. Masters Swim teams, and on my own, too. I’m not the fastest swimmer in the pool, and I don’t swim to win medals. I swim because it is calming, meditative, and keeps me strong.

Chel Micheline—whose story is in The Joy of Swimming—said, “Every day when I get in the pool, I discover a new part of myself. And every day when I get out of the pool, I feel like a warrior. And after feeling like I was at the mercy of a disease for so long, being able to have these experiences and these emotions about the very same body that felt so out of control feels enormously profound. I can face whatever else the day brings knowing I just kicked ass for 5 miles. If nothing else, I swam.”

Micheline’s words ring true for me. In 2015, I recommitted to my swimming practice, and it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself. This year, swimming has been especially awesome. I joined the Rogue Valley Masters team, swam in a 1500M open-water race, and I’ve been swimming on my own consistently. I feel strong in the water, and I’m grateful to be 95% pain-free. In February, I could barely walk around the block because of back pain, and now I’m a swimming machine. I don’t know what the next six months will bring, but I’m certain swimming will be a part of my routine because it brings me joy.

With gratitude,

P. S. Looking for inspiration to get back into the water? Read these thoughtful books:

Also, I’ll be teaching my journaling course—Write to Flourish—in August. I hope you’ll join us for the upcoming session! Details here.

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