Please note: All images on this blog (except where noted) are original works of Miki Baxter and cannot be duplicated without permission. Also, if you're inspired by a project featured on here, then please link back to me and give proper credit. Thank you!!!


Day Eighteen: Success At Last!

Last night, I made it to bed at 10:25 pm!!! In anticipation of a busy Sunday including church and going to a farm to pick cherries, rasberries and blueberries, I surrendered to the Land of Nod hours ahead of my previous pattern. It wasn't hard at all! And I may do it again very soon (smile).


Days Fifteen - Seventeen: "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!"

Said the March Hare in "Alice In The Wonderland."
Dare I say that I have been having the most fun NOT meeting my goal of getting to bed by 10:00 pm. in this 30 Day Challenge? Well, it's true. I really thought tonight would be the night, but alas, a fascinating book, work on my new website and a desire to confess the absolutely delightful time I am having of not meeting this challenge have all conspired with me to once again fail. I don't normally take failure lightly - but I have actually learned many things about myself, my choices and my life during the last two weeks of this challenge. And I like myself and what I've discovered, so this time has been valuable. As a formerly ultra-rigid person, I am enjoying the experience of being more laidback and going with the flow. Somewhat. My black and white persona is welcoming in more shades of gray, actually seeing some silver sparkling on the underside of flexibility. It's all good.
My reasons for wanting to get to bed earlier are to get to the gym early in the morning before the family wakes up and to have morning tea parties with my girl, who is an early riser. We are going to start a Mother-Daughter Tea Party devotional together, so I press on to transform myself to more of a morning person. With God's help. And with more of a serious effort, trying not to have too much fun in the evenings (smile).


Days Eleven - Fourteen: Life Happens

Photography by Miki In the midst of our good intentions and honest-to-goodness want to get to its, life happens. And you have to go with the flow, picking up where you left off and continuing on the journey no matter what. As I've been reiterating to my daughter recently regarding some challenges in her own life, it's not about being perfect. It's about giving your best. And when we fall short of that, which we all inevitably do, it's imperative that we continue forward anyway. Be a river, sometimes raging forward and at other times gently trickling along, not a stagnant pond. Like the arrow in the above picture, keep going forward.


Days Nine & Ten: Being Mama, Watching Butterflies and Pondering Gifts

Being Mama overrules other activities as I help my butterfly prepare for her dance recital Saturday. An afternoon and evening performance. A little solo. Her love of dance and the gift God's given to her. The joy of watching her. Mama is so proud :-) This photo is from a recital a couple of years ago - my baby's the one in the air.

My mother was a professional dancer who started studying at the age of three. Though her career on the Japanese stage was cut short, she later taught for many years and performed here in the States. I used to love watching her as she told the various stories - a noble samurai defending his honor or some tragic tale. Japanese dramas almost always seem to be so melancholy!

What I've observed about my mom dancing or even my little princess pooh is that there is a certain command, a confidence that can't be replicated when you are flowing in your element or area of gifting. I don't think it can be taught, only released. In watching the rehearsals for my daughter's recital, there are many dancers who seem to genuinely enjoy dancing regardless of skill level. It is a pleasure to watch them. Some dancers merely go through the motions, and it makes me wonder why. But there are always a few who radiate an inner joy and light as they dance, and your eyes are drawn to them. Their gift of dance is obvious as they effortlessly move around the stage. Butterflies, I call them.

We all have different gifts and abilities, an area we can flow in that comes from an inner sense, an inner knowing. It's not taught, though it should be developed. It should be tapped into and released in our lives - it's an important part of who we are. Do know your areas of strength, your giftings, talents, etc.? I am pondering my areas and how I can incorporate them more in my everyday. Oops, gotta run - it's time for rehearsal!


Day Eight: A Reminder Why The Days Are Being Counted

Remember the 30 Day Challenge? It started as a way to pinpoint a specific goal or habit and challenge yourself to daily record the steps you took to meet that goal. Over the course of 30 days, a goal could be met and a new habit developed. Over a week ago I wrote, "The next month is a blank canvas of potential and opportunity... to meet goals, make positive changes, to show yourself what you are capable of, to accomplish something positive...."
Funny thing: I have not met my goal yet in getting to bed by 10:00 pm., though I will continue with that as my goal for the remainder of this challenge. Along the way, I have discovered a lot about myself and why this particular challenge has been hard to meet. I am also taking steps to help make this goal a reality; for example, I discovered that our whole family's sleeping times were off and that really impacted when I went to bed. The older kids have been talking and giggling in bed way past their bedtimes, and that affects my alone time. The baby's sleep time is later than I think it should be. What started out as a life adjustment for me has turned into a bigger one for the whole family.
Meanwhile, the awareness of quality of life has made this time more. . .quality! I feel like I am living more intentionally, rather than merely drifting along in this life. In this way, the 30 Day Challenge has helped with positive changes in this first week.
What about you? How's life? Enquiring minds want to know...


Day Seven: A Good Day

Today was a nice, peace-filled, serene kind of day. My toddler's kisses woke me up. I had three in depth conversations today with dear friends, catching up on life details and experiences. The lemon-basil my daughter and I planted is really growing and smells wonderful. A book I ordered and have been anticipating reading again for a long time arrived today. I worked out at the gym and then went shopping. A deliciously cool breeze is coming through the window. All is well, and tomorrow we get to go strawberry picking. How's life?


Day Six: He's Always Been Faithful

An absolute favorite song of mine (song #2 on my blog playlist below), so appropriate for today: Morning by morning, I wake up to find the power and comfort of God's hand in mine Season by season, I watch Him amazed, in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways All I have need of His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me I can't remember a trial or a pain He did not recycle to bring me gain I can't remember one single regret in serving God only and trusting His hand All I have need of His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me This is my anthem, this is my song, the theme of the stories I've heard for so long God has been faithful, He will be again His loving compassion, it knows no end All I have need of His hand will provide He's always been faithful to me


Day Five: Focus

Photography by Miki
As a photographer, I choose what to focus on with my camera. The artist in me strives to be creative and innovative, to capture the essence of what I am photographing and frame it with my unique perspective. l
Today I choose to see life in a similar manner. I am going to zoom in on blessings, gratitude, and things that bring delight. Dim the background lights on what has been, turn the spotlight away from what can be, and beautifully illuminate what is before me today:
...A quiet, slow-paced morning with the children, with a relaxed breakfast and scrumptious cup of tea
...Organizing and arranging our homeschool materials for the next year - we went to a Homeschool store's clearance yard sale yesterday and came back with some awesome deals. Do you remember Spirographs from childhood? I LOVED tracing the colored circles and patterns. We got a set yesterday for a dollar!!!
...An afternoon trip to the library and several discount stores. I am looking forward to a weekend trip with close friends next month at an Inn by the ocean. Sean blessed me with some spending money to get whatever I wanted, so I've got some bargain-hunting to do! I hear a pair of summer sandals calling out to me.
These aren't deep things that will transform the world, but they do affect my little corner of the world, infusing this day with some joyful anticipation and moments of delight. We have some water balloons left over from a science experiment - I think some backyard splashing is in order.
What's on your agenda for today? How can you make today count?


Day Four: Up Close & Personal

I was thinking earlier today that the reasons we do what we do can be kind of hard to figure out sometimes. For example, I made a huge lifestyle change three months ago that has remained in place. I have fully committed to a new way of eating and exercising regularly, and it has affected most areas of my life in a positive way. Why was I successful with that change and not with sleeping by 10:00 pm.?
Perhaps the answer lies in the words written above...fully committed. Am I fully committed to going to sleep? I thought I was. I know I need to do it. I want to do it...but I still enjoy the quietness of being alone at night. I need to make the mornings more enjoyable and the evenings less so. Good answer. Taking a closer look at the why and brainstorming the how helps with coming up with solutions.
Are you willing to take a closer look at what's going on with the choices in your life, and then taking small steps of a workable solution to success? This really is about the journey, not just the destination. I consider it a success to realize these things about myself and working with what is in order to get to what will be. Kind of philosophical this evening, but it is all about the journey. Peace out.


Day Three: What Lies Beneath

The title of this post is from a suspense thriller film with the general premise that repressed actions, memories, etc. have a way of surfacing and affecting our present. Isn't that true of our habits? There's a reason we do what we do or don't do what we want to do. Following me?
For example, as 10:00 pm. came and went last night, I wondered why I was still up. I had no desire to go to sleep. I wanted to stay awake. I knew I'd have to confess my failure to meet my goal, yet I was willing to do that versus just going to sleep. Is there an inner toddler manifesting itself within me??? Thinking this through further, I realized that staying up late when everyone else was asleep was a way I processed stress. I need quiet time to deal with things, especially when there's a lot going on. As soon as sleep settles on everyone else, my thoughts and emotions pop out like a bunch of nocturnal party animals, ready to play. And the noise can go on and on until their host, me, wearily pulls the plug. And that was a major realization too, that I had the power to shut the party down or reschedule to a better time. I didn't realize that I was passively allowing this bad pattern to continue, yielding to it time and again rather than a) owning up to the fact that I need time alone to process and b) proactively addressing this need in a more helpful, healthy way.
So, what's the plan? I still have my goal of getting to bed by 10:00 pm. I will be more deliberate in the hours after the children go to sleep to take time to myself rather than flipping on the TV or going on the computer. I will schedule time earlier in the day, like nap time, to catch up on electronic correspondence. And I will still myself as bedtime approaches, releasing pressing concerns to the Lord in exchange for peaceful slumber. Then in the early morning, I'll continue the conversation with God and engage His Word in the processing. Now I have an action plan I can work with because (YAWN, excuse me...) I am tired. This late night pattern hasn't been working for me.
What lies beneath the surface in choices you're making in your life? What shifts in thinking or approaching your goal need to take place for success?


Day Two: Slow & Steady Wins The Race

Shocking: I did not meet my goal of getting to bed by 10:00 pm. last night. I took a nap in the afternoon with my youngest and could not fall asleep, so I folded laundry instead. I did get to bed by 11:30 pm., woke up earlier than I have been, and got to the gym this morning. In the familiar story of the race between the Tortoise and the Rabbit, the over-confident Rabbit speeds far ahead of the slow moving Tortoise, then takes a leisurely nap before completing the race because he knows the Turtle could never outrun him. But the Tortoise diligently plods his way, giving his all despite the odds. And the Tortoise manages to cross the finish line first, though the Rabbit wakes up, sees the Tortoise's progress and gives it his best effort to take back the lead.
By virtue of personality, I have been the Rabbit in many areas of my life, zipping along with many things that came easy to me. As I've gotten older and gained more wisdom with experience, I choose to be more and more like the Tortoise - slow and steady in reaching my goals, no matter what anyone else thinks.
Yes, I failed to reach my goal on the very first day!!! Does that stop me or slow my already slow progress? Not at all! The goal is still a good one to move towards, and there are 29 more days to achieve better sleeping habits. Carry on, fellow habit changers! We will see a difference in our lives!


Day One: Invest in Yourself

Here we go! It's Day One of the 30 Day Challenge! The next month is a blank canvas of potential and opportunity... to meet goals, make positive changes, to show yourself what you are capable of, to accomplish something positive. How exciting! l I view this challenge as a way to invest in myself. My goals are primarily to bring improvements, order, and strength into my life. Making this a priority helps bring balance because everything I do, everything I pour into others originates from within me. I need to make sure I am full in order to do everything else in a healthy manner. Make sense? l
A blog that I read regularly, The Simple Dollar, had a fantastic article about investing in yourself: "The valuable asset is YOU. If you work on building yourself as an asset - constantly adding new skills, new friendships and acquaintances, and new approaches... You’re building inherent value in yourself, value that you can carry from job to job within your current career or that you can take with you if a great opportunity presents itself..."
Though he was referring to careers in this article, the essence of it is that WE are more valuable than what we DO. And it encourages us to pour into ourselves versus maximizing the things we do.
Another great blog article with 9 ways to invest in ourselves included this idea (Scott ):

Morning Ritual A morning ritual is the Swiss army knife of productivity. Morning rituals have two key components: the habit of waking up earlier and the habit of using that morning time towards something useful. Cost of Investment:

  • 30 days to set up the initial ritual.
  • Sleeping 30-60 minutes earlier each night to compensate for earlier waking time.

Investment Payout:

  • More exercise, reading, work accomplished or whatever you use the ritual time for.
  • Momentum built into your day from the start.
  • Added quiet time in the morning.
  • Increased flexibility. (Your day schedule might shift around too much to add in new habits such as exercise or reading, morning time has more flexibility to set up these habits)
I listed this example because SLEEP is my challenge. I am committed to going to sleep at 10:00 pm. every night for the next 30 days. I am a night owl and crave the quiet and peace when everyone else is asleep. Unfortunately, this doesn't make me a happy morning person, so I am going to reverse the quiet solo time to mornings before everyone else is awake. I will daily post the outcome of the previous night's experience and anything I implement that will help me reach this goal and develop this new habit.
Got a goal you are ready to commit to for the next 30 days? Please post it and walk with me through the next 30 days!


30 Day Challenge

Ready to to try a new path? I successfully completed a 30 Day Challenge yesterday that was hosted by my friend, Carlton - hurray! My personal goal, a habit I want to develop into a lifestyle, was to exercise every single day for at least 30 minutes. The "rules" of the challenge were to state a measurable goal for the 30 day period and to post daily on his blog our progress towards that goal. Easy enough, right?
Every day, Carlton posted an encouragement or motivation on his blog to help keep us going, which was extremely helpful because it isn't easy or convenient to follow through on commitments every single day. New habits require deliberate time and attention to maintain, as if my life wasn't busy enough...
What I learned through this experience was that the commitment to myself was valuable and important. And that there was plenty of room in my life for better habits that encouraged health. I realized that I could reach my goal, broken down into daily bite-sized pieces, and it inspired me to attack other areas of my life that I wanted to change and improve. So I am hosting my own 30 Day Challenge starting Wednesday, June 10th. l
I borrowed the following from Carlton's blog (
To take part in the 30 Day Trial Challenge you need to do 2 things: 1. Set a specific and measurable goal.
2. Commit to it for 30 days and create actions to prove that you met this goal every day by posting a comment on this blog to let everyone know how you are doing.
Think about a goal you have for yourself and make that commitment. The accountability of posting your results, even when you haven't been able to meet the goal, is extremely helpful. Meet me back here on Wednesday, June 10th, ready to develop new habits and/or make a step towards a change in your life!


The Thrill of Inspiration!

This is a horse, er... a napkin of a different color compared to many of my blog entries. But I just had to share the good news, since this photo represents something that is very important to me. Major score - I found two packages (set of four in each) of these delicate yellow (the photo shows them as darker - they really are a lovely pale yellow) cloth napkins at Target on clearance for $2.50 each! Let's take a pause, shall we, to admire them.So what's the deal with these cloth napkins? Why are they so important? Because I love to have tea parties and dinner parties with a beautifully assembled table filled with scrumptious fare, and cloth napkins are a must! As lovely as white napkins are, these will add another dimension to my tea party/dinner party function and decor. How elegant. And just perfect!
In the previous post I mentioned some books I am reading, and one specifically about passions and things you enjoy...well, I love tea parties and all things related to having a tea party. So these added a huge boost to the joy and thrill in this area of my life and also brought inspiration on how I can incorporate more of this in my daily life, to channel that passion. For example, I've jokingly started referring to our homeschool as the "Tea Party Homeschool," in order to take a fresh look at my approach in the scheduling and order of our days. It's easy to focus so much on the academic subjects, that one forgets to smell the roses or the fresh tea brewing, so to speak. I want to add more delight and sense of whimsy, to not just have the "oh-so-serious English library" homeschooling experience but also a "wondrous, topsy-turvy Alice in the Wonderland, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" kind of flair.
Discovery. Delight. Dreaming and aiming big, thinking outside the box, and reaching both deeper and higher into our imaginations and what-ifs. Those are the components I want more of in my life and in our homeschooling time. That is how I want to lead my children and what I want to impart more into them. Of course, we always get all the schooling requirements in, but there is so much more out there. And I'm going to be looking harder for that rabbit hole that'll take us off the beaten path to barely imagined possibilites and dare-to-try-adventures. All that in some yellow napkins, (and to quote one of my favorite designers Candice Olson), how divine.