That one time I made pajamas. Also, a word or two about (my) writing process

Christmas PajamasPSE*

Some of you have said you wished I wrote more about the writing process. While I can’t write with any authority about THE writing process (whatever that means) I am happy to share more about mine.

Let’s start with my most recent Raising the Hardy Boys column: So what if you don’t sew. (Click link to read it if you haven’t yet).

Alright, y’all, I’ll let you in on a secret only long-time, regular Nathalie’s Notes readers know: I sometimes recycle content from here to work into my columns. And by sometimes I mean, as often as I can.

I consider my journal my first draft, my blog the second and the column my final one.

Of course, I also write a lot of columns with no formal draft. Just lots of thinking and notes on index cards and backs of envelopes. Those become some of my most favorite, sorry English teachers of America!

But you can still tell your students drafts are important. Practice paves the path for any published writer. There’s no way I could pull off publishing a first and final draft if I didn’t maintain a daily writing practice. Since I was like, six. (But it’s also never to late to start. I’m talking to YOU! You know who you are).

So there ya go, a note about my process.

Christmas Pajamas 2

Oh, also here’s a link to the original post about That One time I made Christmas Pajamas here.

Here’s the Outtakes from our hotel room photo shoot with my sister-in-law here.

And here’s what Matt actually said about the “M” on his stocking, but it got edited being as how I write for a family paper.

*Photo taken by Carrie Hardy, and shortly after Thanksgiving dinner. I forgot to take off my necklace, I guess I was distracted by the awesomeness of these pajamas and our photo shoot in search of The One Good Picture for our annual card.

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Summer fun and other news


*Image credit: Carta Bella Paper

Summer starts today ... it's hard to tell with the freakishly fall-like weather we're having here in this corner of Oregon, no complaints just an observation.

It's hard for me to believe it's been a year since I returned to work full time as a reporter after five years home of being home with the boys.

I will always wish I'd had a little longer home with Jake but when that wave of guilt looms over me I dodge its crash by remembering how nice it is to pay the mortgage, among a host of other positives of being back in the newsroom.

So far, I've been able to do the things that matter most to me as far as what being a mom means to me (the snuggles, the surprises and the simplest of delights) but as summer was approaching I felt an ache as I realized it seemed everyone else people on Facebook were making plans for summer vacation, but for us it's just ... business as usual.

keep calm summer

* Credit: pinned from BellePins

After momentarily going down the mental path of feeling sorry for myself and longing for a life that no longer exists, I realized working doesn't have to mean we can't have plenty of summer fun around here.

I just need to be intentional about it, and as crazy as it might sound, the best way for me to ensure we have plenty of old-fashioned spontanous summer fun is to plan for it.

So, I am ... with our own summer manifesto project ala one of my favorite inspirations Ali Edwards.

Which is fun ... and funny since I'm like eight weeks into Project Life and this is like the 25th week of the year? You'll be relieved to know getting current on Project Life is on the list in addition to other realistic things like "climb a mountain" by Jake and "do the Lego challenge" by Sam.

We're still tweaking our list but I'll share it soon and hope to hear a few of your summer bucket list ideas, too!

In the meantime, I'm happy that

{You can get this free download from Cathy Zielske's website, because she's just awesome like that}.


Oh, and in other awesomeness ...  I'm stoked to share that I am actually teaching a class in the same place as the aforementioned creative superstars ... you guys know my journaling class is live now on Big Picture Classes, right?

I figured as much since there are likely very few people who didn't hear my whoop of delight when I watched one of my life-long dreams manifest before my very eyes.

In case you happened to miss it, here's the scoop: for ten bucks you can sign up to take my journaling class "The Art of Self Preservation." And, if you want to be supportive but aren't sure you want to take the class yet, click here and listen to the audio introduction. 

I'd love to hear what you think!





Mining gems



For years I’ve been working on getting the right title for Ani and Izzy’s story. This morning, as I’m mining my journals—in Volume 49—I found a chunk of notes for the book and this little gem: “…This should be called ‘Coming Clean.’”

In one way or another those two words describe every major and minor character’s journey. I can’t express how thrilled I am to know I’ve finally, finally nailed it.

(Past working titles included: Pants on Fire, Breaking Branches, Truth be Told, The Secrets we Keep).

Finding that felt like when I discover the sunglasses I tore my house up looking for were on my head the whole time.

I’ve been putting off this mining project for years and finally must do it to make forward progress on finishing this book and developing my journaling curriculum. More on both of those soon, no really- I’ll be back soon. I’ve had plenty to say lately but been sick (AGAIN?!) as well as very “mentally jumbled.”

Soon, I promise!

Meanwhile … here’s another random gem I found in this journal that describes a bit of what’s happening in this story (and, you know … life):

Life is not an after school special where interventions always work, friends and family come around and every apology is forgiven, amends neatly made, the past tidily in its place.

Real life, real addiction, real recovery, real people are messy.

People get hurt and bad things happen.

But people also heal and Grace happens.

If we let it.

And what ought to be universally known but (we each must learn alone) is that self help, healing, finding, and allowing Grace is up to each of us individually.

And even if someone you love doesn’t arrive at the same time as you, it doesn’t have to hold you back.

Yes, everyone winces when you turn the light on in a dark room, but you have a right—a responsibility—to shine your light and to not shrink from its brilliance.

Reporter’s Notebook

- This is from a few scraps of paper I found tucked in one of my journals from shortly after I started working as a reporter covering the North Coast of Tillamook County. I don’t understand all of it, I’m sure I thought I’d remember the cryptic notes to self forever, but no. I truly loved being a reporter and even though I don’t have deadlines every day, I still ask too many questions, eavesdrop over the din of two toddlers and take notes as often as I can. The goal, for me, continues to be to understand others, and in doing so, myself.


Keeping Secrets

Being in the position of choosing what readers need to know from reading my story – until just now I didn’t get that I should read what I write from the reader’s perspective instead of the people who might clip the article.

I believe I’m a good reporter. I care about what it means – I want to be among the best – It’s fun to meet a community this way. In my third month at the Headlight-Herald things are coming full circle – it is tough to remember not to participate. I am curious to know the real work habits of other successful reporters. Successful meaning they enjoy their work most of the time and have healthy contacts – a big exercise in boundaries. In many ways the staff works independently but we are impacted by what each of us do. Integrity is the key, more so than even accuracy because the obvious attachment to accuracy is assumed. Integrity in reporters isn’t as rare as the public image machine declares – but it is essential to my understanding of success as a journalist.

K. gets the award for media mute. And I’m trying not to take it personally- because it isn’t. He didn’t return phone calls before I wrote a single story about Wheeler. It’s strange to be putting myself out there and it feels like the right path for me right now. They suggested it might which is different than saying it would.

It’s also interesting and tough to understand and just ride out the reality that one morning you’ll be thinkin’ you forgot how to write – the next you’re writing one tight lead after another – catching the beat of your own voice – and dancin’.

Thursday – 4 p.m. – check out house?

“I remember leaving the till open at closing – might as well not have the insurance company buy a new cash register too.”

You never know when a big story’s going to break, but you don’t have to be hunched over the scanner waiting for it. So often, they come to you. 

Life in progress

Growing up I wanted to be like Jane Polly, and later Oprah. I mean I really, really wanted to be a news anchor and have my own talk show. I keep waiting for the day that dream seems silly and dies … but instead it gets stronger and more vivid.

I talked myself out of pursuing that goal professionally for two reasons 1) I knew I’d have to get up super early. Pre-kids I considered 8 a.m. to be waking up very early and dropped classes scheduled before 9 as a matter of course. And 2) I learned that I wouldn’t be able to write my own material and that was more important to me. Now I’m not sure that was even true!

Flash forward … As I’ve mentioned, I’m working my way through a “rough patch” and am identifying areas of personal responsibility and how much I truly am in control of my own happiness.

That’s why I love Becky Higgins’ motto: “Cultivate a good life and record it.”

First because it is absolutely our right (and responsibility) to cultivate our own good and secondly, documenting life as we live it is something I am most passionate about.

Because my next goal is to teach journaling classes and because I still dream of having my own talk show … welcome to my homegrown version of Nathalie’s Notes Live!


p.s. Mom, I’ll clean up in here and tour the studio very soon. Dad, I know the quality sort of stinks and will keep learning! (Mam tam “Rec”!”)



~ Write as you go, learn as you live.

So, what's your story?

One of my professional goals this year was to get another magazine publication credit under my belt, and I did it in the final month of the year when Metro Parent published my article: "What's Your Story?"

The backstory: I sent a copy of my Baby on Board column to the editor asking if she'd consider running it as a reprint. I think this is a good story of pursuing your passion instead of focusing on the money first. It wasn't that I thought running a reprint would be lucrative. It was that I loved the message in that particular column and wanted to share it with as many people as possible: Your stories matter - share them.

She sent me back a kind, thanks but we don't publish personal essays. I thanked her for considering it and asked her to keep in mind for future assignments. And moved on to the next thing.

Months later I received an email from this editor wondering if I'd be willing to re-work the article, keeping the spirit of it while turning it into a feature article about local parents preserving their family histories in unique ways. I said, "Nah." Just kidding. I did the dance of joy and got right on it.

Earlier this year I worked on clarifying my writing platform with the help of Christina Katz' book "Get Known Before the Book Deal." This assignment was ideal. I love seeing things coming together with some hard work, putting myself (and my dreams) out there and, of course, patience.

If you're interested in reading it and can't get it through the link above, let me know and I'll gladly post the clip.

Also, let me know if any of you are even the least bit curious about the Project 365/Project Life idea. I'd love to know if anyone else is inspired to try something like that. Or even think about trying it?

The Journal Project - Work in Progress

Most of you already know I'm kind of a nerd ... just more proud of it at 34 than I was in middle school. I started writing about The Journal Project on my writing site Nathalie's Notes. Click over if you're interested. As of late it seems like I'm doing more starting than completing but I can live with having a few works in progress since that seems to be the way of life anyway, right? For the record, I'd like my gravestone to read: Work in progress.

I decided to just begin after reading an article by my favorite author in April's Sunset. Time Lost and Foundby Anne Lamott.

What would you like to "find" more time for?