Mid-life Manifesto

The bad news is there's been kind of a trainwreck over here and my writing has been reduced to mostly lists and notes on the backs of envelopes. That whole Project Life thing I was so passionate about? Just in my head these days. But I saw this mini-quiz trending on social media this evening and thought I'd take a minute to ask the boys to answer the questions, unprompted. Their answers remind me so much of why I love them, their hearts and the way they use their words! 

The good news? While I may have turned the corner a little too sharp and landed on my ass, I'm up, dusted off and moving forward. And that feels pretty awesome. 

One of my lists just so happens to be plans for getting this blog back up and running instead of just being a platform for posting clips, because let's be honest, that gets, you know, old. 

Earlier this year one of my coworkers, jokingly (?) said I was a trainwreck in response to hearing I'd misplaced my debit card. And my phone. Also a few other key things, like,maybe my mind. 

"What's a nicer way to say 'trainwreck'?" 

"Hot mess?" 


Now though, I'm more at a lukewarm mess status. 

And I think I might stay there forever. I'm at that eff it, I'm 40 ... I may never be a person who folds all my clothes and does all the adulty things in all the right order. I may always be a person who tries to do too much and disappoints people along the way because you can't cash in on good intentions. I will probably always care too much, try too hard and fail even harder. 

Know what else? 

I'm done twisting myself inside out trying to match the pace, priorities and purpose of other people. And, I'm over being the only one rowing. From now on when I'm in a situation or relationship of any kind where I realize I'm the only one doing the rowing, I'm out. 

I love being able to be Sam and Jake's mom and have front row seats to their take on the world. I love being a writer. I love most of the people in my life. This is pretty good stuff. 

The best part of rock bottom is the part where the world stops spinning, you catch your breath and realize you get to chose which path to take next. I have no idea how this next phase of my life looks, but I kinda think it might be awesome. Plus, I'll take notes ... you know for all that writing I'm going to do someday! 

I just know I'm done apologizing for who and how I am. 

I'm not for everyone. 

And I'm finally done trying to be ... 

Oh, right - enough mid-life manifesto and on to the quiz I started this with ... plus, I just wanted to say hi and that I miss you guys. Thank you for all the check-ins and notes throughout the year! You are my favorites!




What is your name? Jake
How old are you?6
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? red
What is your favorite food? corndogs
What is your favorite animal? zebras
What are you scared of? real life
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? when people say "shut up" to me
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? the place that makes me happiest is home.
What do you want to be when you grow up? ninja, engineer, vet and video game worker
What does love really mean?that somebody cares about you and really likes you.


What is your name? Sam
How old are you? 9
How old is your mom? 40
What is your favorite color? gold
What is your favorite food? hotdogs
What is your favorite animal? giraffe
What are you scared of? heights
What is your favorite show? terreria let's play
What makes you sad? divorces
What makes you happy? terreria
Where is your favorite place to go? home
What do you want to be when you grow up? a ninja, videogame developer and movie maker
What does love really mean? It has a lot of different meanings.

Pssst: If you liked this column, I'd love it if you share it with someone else who might be encouraged by it too! 





At this moment I am …

drinking  a chai tea with honey and almond milk. And water. A lot of water.

appreciating having two kids in school for a few hours. And amazed at the debris and aftermath of getting them there fed, dressed and on time.

watching the clock and obsessively refreshing my email. This is the most stress I’ve been under in … awhile.

laughing about it when I’m not crying or barfing from the stress.

eating today. Completed my first fast without complaining. Or dying. So that’s a plus.

willing to have faith. But have to keep reminding myself that’s the plan.

waiting to see if other people do what they are supposed to do. See plan above.  

prepping for maybe doing a 5K. The kind where you can walk or run. And still just maybe.  

opening to new possibilities.

sleeping poorly and not ever enough. I hear people talk about feeling rested. I have no idea what that feels like.  This may or may not be reflected in my current coping skills.

remembering less than I’d like. See above.

brainstorming new column ideas. Need to get a move on since they are due next week.

wearing ripped pajamas. Maybe time for a new pair.

considering how ironic it is I’m afraid to get hurt working out, since I’m so out of shape. As if not working out isn’t hurting me.

making potato leek soup in the pressure cooker today. After several dinner fails this month I have a plan b in mind.

feeling excited about my book signing for Newberg’s First Friday ARTWalk. Also a tiny bit nervous.

getting frustrated with trying to keep a seven-year-old still. Stupid broken arms.

loving how creative the kids are getting with artwork. The new thing around here is those perler beads … which are now everywhere. Note: stepping on them is not unlike stepping on Legos. *Clearly I need the ironing part is tricky for me. This burned smell was lovely. And resulted in a trip to IKEA to replace the boards. This turned out to be a bit of a cluster. Moving on …


In case it’s not immediately obvious (it wasn’t for me either and I’m the mom) the first one says “Steve” which means something to Minecraft aficionados and the second spells … Minecraft.

listening to the clicking sound of the boys playing Minecraft right now. Love hearing their conversation as they work together on … whatever it is they’re doing.  

acknowledging some seasons are tougher than others and this too shall pass.

flipping out when I forget the keep the faith plan. I am pretty committed to that though so it’s happening less and less and I keep thinking something is wrong since I’m not freaking out and I should  be doing something. And I am dealing with several things that have a huge impact on me, though I have no control of it. So that’s fun. And a perfect exercise in choosing faith over fear.

enjoying a new habit of gathering with school friends right after school to run around and play before going home and easing into the evening routine. Broken arms aside.


reading The Chronicles of Narnia with the boys. Now we’re at The Silver Chair. It is so cool having them ask for “just one more chapter because it’s getting so exciting!” They also earn extra chapters during the day instead of just bed time. Because we are book nerds.

thankful for another chance to celebrate being born next week.


Nathalie’s Notes: I’m surprised I’ve only done this type of post a few times because I like reading them on other blogs so much. Reading the few I did I’m glad for just that much because of the simple snap shot it offers.

Which is always the way with personal writing. People think more is better, mandatory even. But please believe me when I say some is better than none. One diary entry a week, or even a year still leaves a record of what mattered, especially if you let yourself believe today’s minutia makes for tomorrow’s marvels.

If you want to try it yourself, you and don’t have a blog or journal (I’d love to help you reconsider that!) post your answers in the comments or email me. It’s fun! These two links have a few different prompts than I used today. I wanted to make the answers quick and move to the next, which I encourage you to do as well. This isn’t homework, there are no wrong answers. It’s not all of the things you are doing currently, just whatever pops into your mind.

October 2012 and March 2013. And, now July 2014. (Note to self: I totally messed this up and saved over one of my old "currently" entries. Wish I'd actually backed these posts up another way because it is lost and there were a couple little written polariods I wish I could remember!)

Thank you to Ali Edwards and Elsie Blaha who inspired this list of reflections in my life right now.

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Keep your eyes on your own paper

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 19, 2014 | Roots to Roofs


There's this little thing I like to do called scrapbooking. You may have heard of it? It's a multi-billion dollar industry in this country and if you've ever kept something you value and put pasted it onto paper to preserve it you've done it.

But The Industry makes it seem a little more complicated than that. And, while I'm glad there is an industry which supports my passion for preserving memories, people were doing it long before QVC picked on the goldmine, I think we've gotten a little sidetracked by the glitter and embossing powder.

Because sure, it would be lovely to have an entire room at home dedicated to scrapbooking supplies, all you really need is a pen, pictures, paper and some paste. But even a stapler would do. But that's not safe for archiving, they will tell you.

Maybe not. But if my mama left me a bunch of pictures and stories in her own handwriting I wouldn't be worried about the rust stains, I'd just be stoked to have a piece of her heart in my hand. And I certainly wouldn't question her lack of embellishments.

As a writer I obviously believe in the power and importance of telling, and sharing, our stories, but it's not just the big, breaking news stories I want to see covered in scrapbooks. No, I would love for more people to just take note of right now.

We need to celebrate our everyday, ordinary lives. Especially, I think, in this digital age were less and less is being preserved in a meaningful, permanent way.

I accomplish this by taking a picture a day, most of the days, of something that matters right now and I do a little journaling about it and combine all of it in a pocket-page system called Project Life designed by Becky Higgins to simplify scrapbooking.

And for the record, there are more sticky notes than pictures in the pockets at the moment. This year, I'm about 33 weeks behind but have no doubt I'll catch up. Tomorrow, or another year. I've got the pictures and the notes and figure worst case scenario I can staple all of that together and hand it over to my boys when they're grown: there.

There's what mattered to you when you were two, and ten and thirteen. And also in there is what mattered to me, to your brother and your dad. You'll also find in there some of what happened in the world. Big stuff that mattered to everyone, and little stuff that mattered to just us. There will be books we read, meals we savored, things we did, places we went and the people we loved.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into it. But, if this project calls to you, if you are excited at the thought of participating, you can totally do it your own way.

I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, back when I was unaware that there was an “industry” based on it. I naturally kept it simple by pasting pictures, stories and scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, and such) onto paper.

I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then, I learned about and became enthralled by the Scrapbooking Industry. I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, then I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in virtual love with the work, mission and passion of creative people like Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards, Becky Higgins and Cathy Zielske's whose motto is literally "taking the crap out of scrapbooking." 

For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for sharing them, the joy in creating and the purpose in preserving the moments that make up our lifetime.

These women were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if you have a desire to record your life in pictures and stories, grab some paste and get started.

And, remember, as it was in grade school so it is in all things: Keep your eyes on your own paper!

Coming up: The Hardy Boys go to church | The scraps of life – Project Life memorabilia | Raising the Hardy Boys, with fart guns | The time times I lost my journal at the airport, and at the gym, and at my boyfriend’s house.


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Taking a new angle

I’m struggling to pull away from the picture a day mentality, and as a result still don’t have actual pages to share, but plenty to say about process.

Since learning about the process of others is as encouraging to me as it is inspiring to see their pages, here goes …

Except I just realized I left my journal at work which feels sort of like the dream where you show up somewhere naked. Except worse, because this is really happening.

So, for those of you reading Nathalie’s Notes for the journaling tips … the whole misplacing the journal thing is admittedly an occupational hazard.

I am going to have to take a medicinal bong hit just to sleep through this anxiety. Kidding, that stuff is illegal. Until March 3. In Oregon.

In other business … Project Life …

I’m recording notes in my planner, yes a Moleskine again. Always. And by “always” I mean since 2008.


Also, I have a notebook labeled Project Life in my Evernote which is super handy thanks to the search function.

I plan to use more of these week in review cards designed by the super cool Cathy Zielske and purchased at Designer Digitals.


This is an idea of the kinds of things I want to capture in words and/or pictures. I’m not in love with how I did this … wrong font? Wrong something … but in the spirit of progress not perfect, I’m moving forward.


One of my Project Life intentions for 2014 is to take more interesting pictures and I think why is pretty well summed up in this this post by Elise Blaha called “getting out of snapshot mode.” 

Some snapshots I took at Jake’s party to tell more of the story than cupcakes and presents:


I’m not sure if my friend Melisa or I took this picture but I love it because while it doesn’t show the kids it shows how important it is to them to get The right cupcake ring, those are a thing right now, fyi.



Love this one because it shows a little detail easily missed, Jake feeding the tickets in himself … not long ago he had to have help.


This one captures Sam making sure his little brother is okay. It is hard for Sam not to step in and do it himself, I tell Sam all the time that it’s hard for me to let him go it alone too but it’s how we learn … with help standing by.


Love this little guy!


And this … I just love this picture of Jake and his dad with profiles more similar than I realized before looking at ten versions of this same picture.

Pictures I wish I’d taken: the zebra candles I carefully picked out for Jakey, a picture of me and the birthday boy, a good group shot of the kids, and a close up picture of the hit gift: a fart gun. (Funny post about that to follow).

Yes, a fart gun. For real. You can get one by clicking the link below – see the disclaimer on my blog that tells you I get a couple cents for anything you buy on Amazon if you get there through my links.


Coming up: The scraps of life – Project Life memorabilia | Raising the Hardy Boys, with fart guns | The time times I lost my journal at the airport, and at the gym, and at my boyfriend’s house.



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Project Life, take six


PL badge 2014

Good news! With the new year I’m merely five years and three weeks behind on Project Life.

But it’s all good because I’m committed to this project forever. For real. Okay, maybe not forever but for a really long time.

The fact that I haven’t lost interest in over five years despite the reality that my books remain unfinished year after year is indicative of my passion this project designed by the amazingly awesome Becky Higgins.

This is why: the point of the whole thing is that it’s supposed to be a blessing, not a burden. And it is such a blessing to leaf through what I do have finished that it’s worth keeping on.

So … here I go again … I plan to update Project Life posts on Tuesdays because deadlines are how this reporter mama gets things done.

This year I’m using this album:


And, my first insert is tucked in there already thank you very much … I got this on this blog, it was designed by Leah Aldous and I love it.



As per tradition, my title page is started but not finished. Most likely it will look like this for the next five years. See below for proof.



Project Life, 2009



Project Life, 2010

Interesting to note … nothing is done on 2010 except the one picture tucked in here of our friend Bob visiting Baby Jake … Bob is now with us in spirit, but I am so glad we have this shot of him holding Jakey Cakes. Just funny that it’s the only picture I tucked in there all year!


Project Life, 2011





Project Life, 2012




Project Life, 2013





Maybe next year

2013-11-25 15.51.02

Is anyone else a little tripped out to realize that next year begins next week?

So, on the eve of Christmas eve it’s probably time to call it … I will not be making my Christmas gifts this year. Again.

Bonus: With that simple decision, I am totally ahead of the game for next year!

One of my many lists is a “Maybe next year” list and it seems to grow longer each year, not in a “things to feel guilty about” way, but more like “think of all the possibilities” kind of way.

Also, I will be putting a few of the tasks from my Mission: Organize Everything off until the new year.

And, then there is my Project Life collection. The albums from yesteryear still hover hopefully on a shelf too narrow for them, waiting for me to make good on my dream of catching up on my pages.

Truth is, I’m doing the Living Life thing and that means we can’t have all of our priorities be number one all of the time. Things we care about get back-burnered all the time.

What we think about a thing is more important than the thing itself, so for me it’s not that big a deal that I’m not “all caught up” on Project Life 2013 (or 2012, 2011, 2010 …)

If I vanish tomorrow and leave behind Project Good Intentions/Project Sticky Notes, it’s something more than nothing which is what I’d have if I waited for life to be easier, calmer and complete with of large chunks spare time before starting any projects I feel passionate about. .

I can’t tell you what week I left off on – only that I’ve done a few simple things to help me get back on track if and when I’m able to make it a priority again.

  • I keep taking my picture of the day, most days. That has become a habit since I first started Project 365 and helps me see the awesome in the ordinary.
  • I jot a few notes in the margins of my planner and/or journal. I’ve also started a Project Life notebook in my Evernote on my computer, and have downloaded the app so I can make notes quickly on my phone – by speaker even! I love the search capability on Evernote.
  • I keep tucking memorabilia of our day-to-day life in my Project Life file in my Planner Files.
  • I’ve let go of trying to do it perfectly, or at all.

And, get this … I’m totally planning to get started on a new Project Life for 2014.

Who knows? Someday the boys might think it’s cool I purposely recorded the first six weeks of every year for posterity.

Who am I kidding? They will recognize my handwriting on the sticky notes and know exactly what happened. But if they ask me about it I’ll remind them of the fact that they wanted dinner every. single. night.

Also lunch. And breakfast. And the clean clothes and all the other details that go into the care and feeding of little people. (Who are totally worth it by the way!)

So, I snap a few pictures of that part of real life too, it’ll be worth it one day.

For now, here are a few of our ordinary moments lately and some pages in progress.

(You can click on the pictures for a little bit more detail).

2013-10-29 08.44.50

One of very few runs this year, you can correctly assume this is something else on my “maybe next year list!”

2013-10-29 12.52.34


2013-10-29 12.52.12

2013-10-29 12.52.262013-10-29 12.52.58


Getting to volunteer at Sam’s first field trip was a holiday mom highlight for sure. I was afraid going back to work would mean no field trips, and it’s true I won’t be able to make a lot of them, but I will enjoy the ones I can show up for. Sam kept squeezing my hand and telling me he was glad I was there. I don’t need the cards to remember that, but I wrote it down, just in case. Maybe to remind him someday Smile 

2013-10-29 12.52.50

Some mornings on the way to work I can spend a few extra minutes with Jakey at preschool and I love those moments.

2013-11-18 08.43.48

This. This is what snuggling little guys looks like. Please note no one is sleeping in the same direction in our Queen size bed.

2013-11-08 01.27.32

Two boys quiet at the same time?! Amen. Totally validated my vision of turning this downstairs room into a family studio.

2013-11-30 10.22.50

Look at the lovely frozen water … which turned into a lovely mess we were so lucky to have stay outside and under the house!

2013-12-09 09.08.00

Look who else is taking notes? In the backseat, in his journal, on the way to school.

2013-12-11 09.13.28


Curious to hear what other people have on their “Maybe next year” list. If you don’t have one, I recommend it as a freeing way to cross some things off and move on …

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{Project Life: week 20}

The Mom Creative

It’s crazy to think the half-year mark is creepin’. I was delighted to see that people are still going strong on their Project Life projects, and even those who aren’t are still interested and supportive! I love it when I stop posting about something and get emails encouraging me to bring it back. Thank you.

Friends, here is week 20 of 2012:

As always, apologies for the poor quality photos. I still haven’t figured out how to get these shots looking better.

You can click on the images to enlarge them for a closer peek.

{Project Life: week 20}


Week 20 , left side


Week 20, right side


Week 20: notes


Monday: Sam saying grace at dinner and I included the words in the journaling card because it seems like one of those things I’ll never forget but … just in case I’ve got it down.


Tuesday: Sam being his goofy, creative self playing the part of Super Grover 2.0 which includes a (random) costume, designed by him. It also includes stuffing his boots full of the “tools” he needs so I got a close up of that for one of the smaller pockets. Wednesday: we ate at Jem 100 in Newberg for the first time (how have we missed this awesome place all these years?!?). Inside the card I added journaling about our experience there and how fun it is to be getting “good” at using coupons. Thursday: pic is the kids including bff’s Ella and Addie in the backseat and some journaling on missing our old neighborhood. Friday: Sam got his sticker from the fire department because the week before they had to leave early and respond to the fire at Woodburn High School. I included a photo from the news because I thought that was an interesting, unusual way for Firefighter Day to end! IMG_0750

Saturday: This one was hard to write because I wasn’t super proud of it. It was Armed Forces Day and I wrote about how easy it is to be supportive of what other families sacrifice. But when I think about it being my sons … not so much. I literally almost barfed on this kind man’s shoes when he pointed out the someday my boys would be in uniform.

I also included the little card that came with our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University kit to document our journey toward that end. (It is awesome! And hard!)

Finally, I wrapped up the week using my favorite Cathy Zielske journaling card:

week 20 in review

To learn more about the awesomeness that is Project Life created by the brilliant Becky Higgins click here. To see more of my Project Life posts click here

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{Project Life: week 17}

The Mom Creative


And then nine weeks happened. I think I should rename this Project Life Goes On because I have managed to keep taking pictures and notes on the ordinary and extraordinary highs, lows and mediocre meanderings of our days.

And because, no matter what, life does go on and there is always something to be thankful for. Project Life (goes on) is one of the things I am so very grateful for, so here is week 17 and I will post weeks 9-16 later.

Title card: I was inspired by Maria to dress this card up – it’s one of my least favorites in the kit but when I saw her cute, simple addition I changed my mind and used it for the first time this year. I don’t love how the “week #17” turned out … but whatever.

(You can click on each picture to enlarge it and take a closer peek).


{Week 17: left side}


{Week 17: right side}


{Week 18 in progress}


Notes: I use a lot of index cards around here ala Anne Lamott. I’ve started recycling the backs of them in place of Post-its and write my ideas for journaling or pics I took, or want to take … my current Project Life hack is to tuck the days of the week stickers in the next week’s pocket so it’s right there as I’m popping pictures in the pockets. Not having those stickers immediately accessible was a small thing creating a big block in progress. Your block is probably different than mine but can likely be fixed with a tweak in your thinking, process or expectations.

This week I was inspired by Maria at Crazy Lovely Madhouse and by Christine Newman at My Scrapbook Art – Home is where the art is

I love what Maria said about the Project Life honeymoon seemingly being over. It’s not that I lost my enthusiasm personally but I hit a rhythm and stopped seeking out the inspiration and ideas of others in the PL community. Their posts inspired me to share again and that makes me happy!

To see all my other Project Life posts click here and here.



One of the things I like so much about Project Life is  that I take random pictures like this thinking it’s just a quick snapshot of today. But this little snapshot says so much … Jake longs to go to school with his big brother and more and more wants to be able to do what he does, hence his own “bucket” full of a few of his favorite things. He carries it all the way to drop Sam off, all the way back home and then back and forth again for pick up. This snapshot represents exactly where we are right now, which seems to change in a blink.

Soon enough, Jake will have his own “real” school bucket and these moments we have alone together will be a fond memory. I like that this project encourages me to appreciate those things as I’m living them.


In this shot, you see how we roll … racing … always racing. And how I parent … you can carry your coat or wear it …

Missing socks (and other things)

Project Lie.

Whoops. I didn’t mean to write that. Freudian slip much?

I’ve been working on finding the right words to follow up my abrupt cyber silence.

There just aren’t any … so I’ll simply tell the truth and trust you to be as kind as possible to all parties involved.

I suppose long time readers of this blog could see this coming before I did. While it does not come as a complete surprise it is still a shock to share with you that at this time my husband and I are separated.

I was waiting to say anything until I heard through the grapevine that he was sharing the news with people as he is an intensely private person. (Just one of many things we don’t have in common).

I also don’t know where this separation will lead us … only that it is a relief to have stopped trying so hard and pretending that all is well behind our white picket fence.

I wrote about our unraveling last September. And I can’t explain it better now than I did then. Except to say we’ve traveled farther down the path and in the wrong direction and are currently on distinctly different roads. We might find the intersection of us again. And, we might not.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I appreciate your support and kindness toward our family, fractured as it may be.

I am, obviously, working on a new path since being a write-from-home mama might not be a viable option any longer. Unless I have a reader who’s been longing to be a benefactor?! I would totally dedicate one of my books to you!

I am sorry to those who feel it’s selling out to monetize this blog, and I hope not to lose readers but at the moment I have to do what I can to make the best of what I have. I love writing this blog and ask that those of you who shop on Amazon please consider shopping through the link on this page because as an Amazon Affiliate I get some credit with each purchase linked from here. Thank you.

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