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If you’ve read my new interactive journal, Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life, you know that I’m obsessed with everyday adventures.

As I explained in my journal:

“ . . . I’ve found that I don’t have to visit faraway places to experience the joy of traveling. For instance, I’ve discovered dozens of magical places near my home in Siskiyou County, California. My husband, Logan, and I take frequent day and weekend trips because we love exploring northern California. Exploring local sights reminds me that my adventures can be tiny, yet extraordinary!”

During July, going on adventures will be part of my daily routine. Also, I’ll be documenting my adventures with my camera. I invite you to join me.

I created a list of photography prompts that you can use throughout the month. Some of the prompts are vague; others are more specific. Use the prompts below as a guide, and remember that there are no adventuring rules. For example, your everyday adventure could be an epic day-hike or a 10-minute nature walk. As Gloria Steinem said, “ … adventure starts the moment I leave my door.”

A Month of Everyday Adventures

Here’s how the daily photography challenge works:

1. Take a photo every day.

2. Share your photos on your blog or social media. For example, I’ll share my daily shots on Instagram using the hashtag #EverydayAdventures2017. Keep in mind that sharing your photos online isn’t a requirement.

3. There are no emails for this challenge, and there is no pressure to keep up. I’m keeping this photography challenge simple.

Other important notes:

1. You don’t need a special camera to document your everyday adventures.

2. If you need additional guidance, consider buying my new interactive journal—Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life. The journal is available in print and digital formats. Also, the PDF version is on sale for $1.99 until the end of July!

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Let’s make it a fantastic month!

With gratitude,
Tammy

{This month: Hiking, books, body image, a social media detox, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Hi all,

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

1. I discovered Carrot Quinn’s work via Nicole, and her book, Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart, was so good and honest!

2. Books I’m currently reading: The Nordic Theory of Everything & At Home in the World.

3. So good: Anna Guest-Jelley on Body Acceptance, Trusting Your Gut, and The Process of Change.

4. This is neat: YOU-app is small steps for a happier, healthier you.

5. A fantastic piece by Cait Flanders: The Most Important Lesson I Learned During My Social Media Detox.

6. Truth: Why breaks are essential.

7. Want More Time? Get Rid of The Easiest Way to Spend It.

8. Where will you be on June 15, 2020?

9. I love Amanda Sandlin’s art and design work. Recently, she redesigned her website. It’s simple and beautiful!

10. In mid-June, I collaborated with JEDI on a webinar called The Art and Discipline of Blogging. The webinar is available to watch on YouTube!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my link roundup, please share this post with a friend or buy a book.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Update: If you missed the webinar, no worries. You can listen to The Art and Discipline of Blogging here. Enjoy!

***

I’m collaborating with the Women’s Business Center at JEDI and we’re hosting a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, from 12–1 p.m. PDT. It’s called The Art & Discipline of Blogging.

Read the webinar description and register here. Even if you miss the event, you’ll be sent the recording. I hope you’ll join us on Wednesday!

With gratitude,
Tammy

June 10, 2017

In June 2015, I shared the following essay with my newsletter subscribers. I decided to share this piece on the blog because today is the fifth anniversary of my step-dad, Mahlon’s, death. Lately, I’ve been thinking about love, loss, gratitude, and hope. I’ve also been seeing butterflies everywhere, so sharing this article again seemed appropriate. Wishing y’all a beautiful day.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

June 10, 2015, marked the third anniversary of my step-dad, Mahlon’s, death. It might seem strange that I track the years since he died. However, they serve as a personal marker and as a reminder: a marker of significant life changes and a reminder to continue creating a joyful life.

I used the word “continue” in the previous sentence because my life is a work in progress. I’m still learning, growing, and trying to figure things out as I go. Since Mahlon’s death, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I want to move through the world … but that’s another topic for another letter. Today, I want to talk about serendipity, spirit, and butterflies.

First, I want to share a background story …

After Mahlon’s funeral, I left my parent’s home in Red Bluff, California and returned to my home in Portland, Oregon. I jumped back into my routine and tried to get used to my new normal. It wasn’t easy because I felt overwhelmed, confused, and uncertain. Everything in my life was shifting, including family dynamics, friendships, and work, and I kept wondering if we should stay in Portland or move closer to family.

Despite my worries and sadness, I kept writing, taking photographs, teaching, and working on creative projects. Working and making time for my relationships gave me a sense of purpose and meaning to my days, even when I struggled. That sense of purpose lead me to Laurelhurst Park about a week after Mahlon’s funeral.

It was late June, and it was a perfect Portland day. People were out walking, cycling, and sitting in the park reading, plus the grass was intensely green, and it was 70 degrees and sunny.

Being in the park offered me a small slice of joy because I’d felt sad all day. I was missing my mom and Mahlon, and as I sat in the park, I thought to myself, Mahlon, if you’re here, show up as a butterfly.

I continued to sit in the park and people watch. Then, two orange butterflies appeared and chased each other through the trees and leaves. It might sound crazy or woo-woo to you, but I felt like Mahlon was with me on that sunny afternoon.

Fast-forward three years …

On June 9, 2015, my father-in-law, Roy, asked if wanted to go on a day trip with him, and I said yes. I’d been feeling unfocused all week because I kept thinking about Mahlon. Also, my Great Aunt Winnie died at the age of 97 on June 6, and her wake was on June 10—the anniversary of Mahlon’s death.

The timing was strange, and since I’d been feeling so unfocused, I jumped at the chance to go on a day trip with Roy. Roy is super cool, funny, and patient, and I love his stories. In essence, he’s an awesome dude.

We went to Orr Lake, drove on back roads near Tennant, CA, and ended up eating lunch at Antelope Creek. Being at the creek was serendipitous because Mahlon, Roy, Logan, and I camped at Antelope Creek about 12 years ago.

Roy reminisced on Mahlon’s ability to get his trailer into the camping spot at Antelope Creek. It was a rough road and a tight squeeze, and we weren’t sure he would be able to pull the camper out the next day. Roy said, “The only reason he got out was because his truck had a lot of power. And, he didn’t leave with the whole trailer. He high-centered it in the meadow.”

Mahlon broke pipes and other connections on the bottom of the camper, but those types of mistakes never phased Mahlon. He didn’t get pissed off or mad. He’d just laugh about it, move on with his day, and fix the mistake later.

I thought about Mahlon as Roy fished, and I was also trying to take photos of butterflies. They’d flutter by, pause, and then float away. I gave up trying to capture a butterfly image and sat down on an old stump to write in my journal.

I journaled about some of my favorite Mahlon memories, and as I wrote, I looked up and watched the butterflies go by. I decided to put down my journal and chase butterflies again. I was determined to get a photo of at least one butterfly. When they’d float by, I’d think, There goes Mahlon again.

I walked along the creek, and I noticed a butterfly sitting on the pebbles. It was completely still. I walked up slowly and sat down on the pebbles. I was only a foot away, and I snapped some photos. I couldn’t believe it didn’t fly away.

***

I thought the butterfly might have been injured, but suddenly the butterfly took off. My encounter with the butterfly lasted less than a minute.

As we were getting ready to leave, I said, “Roy, I can’t believe the butterfly let me take its photo. That was so amazing.”

Roy said, “Maybe it was Mahlon.”

I believe the butterfly was Mahlon’s spirit or his way of telling me that everything would be okay. My grief has lessened over the past three years, but it will never go away. It just changes shape over time. I can’t control the past or the future, but I can choose love over fear and find small slices of joy in my daily life.

With gratitude,
Tammy

Additional Resources

Missing Mahlon will never change. When I’m missing him, or struggling with sadness or loneliness, I remind myself that I’m not alone. Today, I want to remind you that you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with grief or loss, ask for help. Find a counselor, talk to your partner or a close friend, write in your journal, or find solace in nature.

Also, I hope the following resources will help:

1. I started my daily photography project—My Morning View—to honor Mahlon’s memory. I also wrote a short photography book—My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief, and Good Coffee—about the project.

From Saturday, June 10, to Wednesday, June 14, 2017, the digital versions of My Morning View are free:

Amazon Kindle | PDF

2. I highly recommend reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It’s one of the best books I’ve read on love and loss. Alternatively, you can listen to Krista Tippett’s conversation with Sheryl and Adam here: Resilience After Unimaginable Loss.

Photo by Tammy Strobel; Mt. Shasta.

Y’all, I can’t believe it’s June! Spring has been lovely, and I’m looking forward to summer. I never thought I’d utter those words because summer isn’t my favorite season. However, it was a long and cold winter, and I’m determined not to complain about the hot days that are ahead.

In addition to basking in the nice weather, here’s what I’m focusing on as spring ends and summer begins:

1. During August, Logan and I will be in The Netherlands for a few weeks. We’re going to stay in Amsterdam, Leiden, and take plenty of day trips to other communities via bike and train. I’m EXCITED to see the country and to connect with friends. Also, I’ll be hosting a reader meet-up while I’m in The Netherlands. Stay tuned for details.

2. I’m trying to write another book. Currently, I’m working on the book proposal, which is a beast to write. So far, I’ve rewritten the overview at least fifteen times. With luck, I’ll finish the proposal by the end of summer. If the concept is good, my agent will pitch the idea to publishers. If you’re curious about the publishing process, I highly recommend reading How to Publish Your Book by David Fugate.

3. I’m collaborating with the Women’s Business Center at JEDI. We’re hosting a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, from 12–1 p.m. Pacific Time, called The Art & Discipline of Blogging. Sign-up here.

4. And last but not least, gratitude is on my mind. I can’t express how grateful I am for good health. The immense joy and happiness I’ve experienced over the last year is the result of tiny action steps taken over a sustained period. Some of those steps included working with a counselor to deal with grief, starting CrossFit, eating healthy food, and more.

In a recent Instagram post, Laura McKowen talked about how important it is to acknowledge all the good in our lives. She said:

“It’s taken me a long time to trust feeling good. I’m slowly starting to relax into it without wondering when the other shoe will drop, or if I’ll explode it, or how close pain is tracking my heels. I’ve learned I can accept the good. That I deserve it as much as anything else. That it’ll come and go, just like the darkness. You’re allowed to feel joy. You can be really, truly in love with your life. For me, I had to stop pouring wine all over everything to be able to feel all the way through anything: sadness, guilt, excitement, and yes – joy. It’s a slower build, but so much deeper, so much more sustaining.”

I couldn’t agree more. It feels good to feel good! Wishing you a gratitude-filled week.

Tammy

{This month: Language & life, magic, becoming a badass, and more.}

Photo by Tammy Strobel

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

1. A Stitch of Time: The Year a Brain Injury Changed My Language and Life by Lauren Marks is an incredible memoir about language, life, loss, and love.

2. If you like magical books that include werewolves, witches, and other awesome characters, I highly recommend reading The Outlier Prophecies series by Tina Gower. In early May, I finished reading Book 6 and it was fantastic!

3. Jen Sincero’s books You Are a Badass at Making Money and You Are a Badass are highly motivating.

4. This looks so cool: Goodnewspaper – A printed newspaper full of good news.

5. A touching interview: Resilience After Unimaginable Loss.

6. Truth: The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships.

7. YES: It’s Time to Embrace Slow Technology.

8. Lucy Kalanithi on what makes life worth living in the face of death.

9. The latest Tiny House Magazine was released a few weeks ago. Check it out!

10. I’m collaborating with the Women’s Business Center at JEDI. We’re hosting a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, called The Art & Discipline of Blogging. Sign-up here.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my link roundup, please share this post with a friend or buy a book.

With gratitude,
Tammy

driving to camp

My desire to see new places, meet new people, and travel continues to grow as I grow older. And speaking of getting older, I can’t believe I’m more than halfway through my 38th year on the planet. I don’t know how my life will unfold in the future, but I do know this: I want to travel when I’m healthy.

Last week was full of work and travel adventures in Northern California. I spent a few days in Red Bluff shuttling my mom to and from a doctor’s appointment. (Don’t worry, she’s doing great.) Every time I visit my mom, there is less stuff in her house. Recently, a friend helped her clean the shed in the backyard. They took 500 pounds of paper to the dump and other odds and ends that have been collecting dust and spiders for the last two decades.

During the clean-up process, my mom found my old Ducky Blanket which was like my second appendage until I was six. My mom had to take the blanket away from me because I kept kneading the blanket like a cat. In addition to letting go of old baby clothes and blankets, she’s sold and given away furniture, cleaned out both garages (yes, she has two), and she’s given away most of my dad’s belongings.

After hanging out with my mom—and her crazy dog, Henry—for a few days, I visited my friend Bea in Sacramento, CA. Anytime I visit the Davis/Sacramento area, good memories resurface. We lived in the area from 2003 to 2010, and during that time, we began to simplify our lives. For example, we moved into a 400-square-foot apartment, went car free, did the 100 Thing Challenge, and started to save for a tiny house on wheels.

Also, in 2007 I started a new job in Sacramento, and my friend Bea was hired shortly afterward. We met on the job and became fast friends. I hadn’t seen Bea in over a year, so our visit was long overdue. Bea is a wonderful human, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with her this year. We committed to organizing a girl’s weekend every quarter. Our next play date will be in July—hopefully by the ocean.

If you haven’t been to Sacramento, I highly recommend visiting the city. It’s bike-friendly, walkable, lined with gorgeous trees, and there are many yummy restaurants and cafés.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite places in the city:

When I drove home early Monday morning, I felt incredibly grateful, happy, and loved. Wishing y’all a lovely weekend!

With gratitude,
Tammy

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Last weekend made my heart happy because it was filled with everyday adventures. Below are a few highlights and photos:

  • On Friday night, Logan and I had a slumber party at the tiny house. We were stoked to be in the house because we missed it. But we don’t miss it enough to move back into the space full-time. We love our little apartment in town.
  • While we were at the tiny house, we took down the jungle (see the photos below). Well, Logan took down the jungle with my in-law’s brush mower. The grass was up to Logan’s waist! We also did other odds and ends around the house. Our tiny house is tiny, but it still needs love and care. In between all of this, my favorite dog managed to crawl through a relatively small irrigation pipe (how is that possible?), then she rolled in poo and rubbed the poo on me while doing her best lip curl Elvis impression (she’s got that nailed.)
  • On Sunday, a staff writer from The Asahi Shimbun GLOBE—one of Japan’s largest newspapers—interviewed me for an article about American minimalists. After the interview, I gave him a tour of our small apartment and the tiny house. I’m honored that he interviewed me, and I’m continually amazed by how the Internet brings people together. I’ll let y’all know when the story is posted.
  • Finally, we ate all the food last weekend. The food party started on Friday at my father-in-law’s 70th birthday dinner. The following evening, we made a steak dinner for my mother-in-law, and we closed off Mother’s Day weekend with a giant dinner at a local restaurant. The family was out in full force (there were roughly 17 of us at dinner). My mom joined the fun, too.

I hope you had a lovely weekend! Enjoy the photos, friends.

If you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, visit RowdyKittens.com to view my photo gallery.

Before you go:

  • If you purchased Everyday Adventures, THANK YOU! Also, I have a favor to ask. Would you consider rating my journal on Amazon? Readers rely heavily on reviews before purchasing a new product, so the more reviews, the better!

Journaling & Coffee: A Daily Practice

Hi all,

I’m teaching my online journaling course—Write to Flourish: A Beginner’s Guide to Journaling—in May. Registration closes at noon on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Read the course description and register here.

If you’d like to take the class and it isn’t a good time, please sign up here to be notified when the course opens again.

With gratitude,
Tammy

Photo by Tammy Strobel

In March, I wrote an article about how we’re slaying our food and dining bill. Recently, a few readers asked me to post a status update about the idea. Today, I’ll share an informal update and a few observations about the project.

With that, let’s get started!

At the end of February, we started to plan our meals carefully, and we began to closely track our spending on food and dining. Doing so impacted our habits and spending.

Check out the difference in our food and dining spending over the past four months:

  • January 2017 — $1081
  • February 2017 — $970
  • March 2017 — $637
  • April 2017 — $700

The figures above include groceries for our home (the bulk of the totals), dining at restaurants, cafe stops, coffee and tea for our house, and alcohol.

Other observations about this project include:

1. Ideally, we’d like to spend $400 a month on food and dining. I hope we can make that happen by June. We need to tweak our budget and do a better job at meal planning and preparation to make that goal a reality. Instead of being hard on myself or trying to be perfect, I’m having fun with the process. Changing my habits takes time, and that’s okay!

2. I’m spending additional time in the kitchen cleaning and doing dishes because we don’t have a dish washer. When I’m in cleanup mode, I listen to podcasts, think about writing projects, or zone out. Also, I’m learning to let my dishes sit in the sink if I’m tired. There is no rule that says my kitchen needs to be spotless all of the time. Plus, letting things get messy is an excellent way to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

3. When we lived in the tiny house full-time, I shopped for fresh food every few days because our refrigerator was very small. In our apartment, we have a large refrigerator, a freezer, and additional cabinet space in the kitchen. This enables us to shop once a week for food. Eating well in our tiny house wasn’t a problem. However, it’s nice to have a little more space in our cupboards. And speaking of storage, we’re purchasing more food in bulk (like almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, protein bars, etc.) because it’s less expensive. Hopefully, these purchases will lead to a reduction in our spending over time.

Are you trying to spend less on food and dining? If yes, what have you learned from the experience? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

With gratitude,
Tammy

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