7 tips for a good workspace

After my oldest son’s sophomore year in college, I stole his bedroom.

I asked him first, but it was more of a “I want to make your bedroom into my study. Is that okay?” kind of question. He didn’t care. He was having so much fun at college, we literally had to make him come home to visit. And then he worked at a camp all summer after his sophomore year. And he would be spending second semester during his junior year in London. I knew he wouldn’t miss it.

So yeah. I didn’t feel bad about it. I work from home, and I needed more space. I was teaching and writing from the kitchen table, and my stuff was everywhere. And I have trouble focusing when the house isn’t in order, which is frequently the case in the kitchen/living area. In the kitchen, food is also too available, the T.V. is tempting, and I’m usually doing laundry there (yep, no laundry room, so it’s also the laundry area).

I decided I needed a room with less distractions.  I was writing a few manuscripts and had no quiet space to do it (and working in my bedroom makes me sleepy!). Having my own study was the natural and logical solution to all of these pressing issues. Technically, my son’s room wasn’t even his real room because he grew up in a different room. (I made him switch rooms with his little brother when he left for college. But that’s another story.)

I live in a house of men, so for years I have tempered my girly-decorating juices to match my environment. Apparently, decorating desires die hard, because I still long to make that girly room. Just one. Please.

Bookcases! Wall: personal and YA; Tall bookcase: curriculum, old albums, magazines, vertical files; Closed bookcase: children’s books

So I did it, albeit not too girly. I narrowed my criterion down for a good workspace and solved my decorating issues at the same time. On the cheap, which is how I roll. Here are 7 tips for making a good workspace, even if you don’t like to decorate:

  • desk or writing surface
  • comfortable reading chair, with ottoman because my feet must be elevated
  • good light–I like lamps and windows
  • soothing color (mine’s called “Tranquility” by Valspar)
  • storage (I’m storing books, files, binders, printer and office supplies, photos; I bought cheap shelving at Lowes and hung it myself; still need to cut down some boards, though)
  • memorabilia (if you’re that kind of person; pictures and momentos make me happy, so I like them displayed; note:  too much clutter can be distracting)
  • clock, calendar, bulletin board/places to store “to do” files and lists
  • a closet, if possible; mine is loaded

closet: over-flow clothing, books, curriculum, office supplies, old journals, pictures, teaching files, etc.

So I have a beautiful, albeit, over-crowded study. It’s filled with curriculum, kid lit, files, projects, art, family pictures, and memorabilia from my mother. And my ironing, I’m sorry to say. (Again, no laundry room.) And a really full closet of extra clothes, books, files, etc.–you don’t get that in a kitchen!

My mom’s reading chair. I got the ottoman (with storage inside) on clearance at Target.

But it’s serene enough to even lure the men of my house. My husband sneaks in here to talk on the phone or read a book. My sons do homework here and Skype their friends.

I write and edit here. I read and stack my books-to-read in neat baskets that I forget to look through. I sort pictures and do ironing and make to-do lists. My study is becoming our second kitchen, minus the available food and drink. Which is actually its only inconvenience.

I just saw a blog post for making a “writing shed” on Pinterest. People are transforming their sheds into beautiful workspaces. Hmmm. What a great idea! I’d be away from my ironing and my paper-sorting. Away from my over-crowded shelves. I’d get so much done! Only I’d have to bring in a chair and ottoman, a mini fridge, art, books, storage . . .

Perhaps it would end up being an outside kitchen where I write? Kind of like the 2 rooms I have already.

Antique slate, pencil, game, & books; various pics of Mom and my kids on all the shelves

I guess I’m satisfied with the work space I have, clutter and all. I suspect changing locations solves nothing.

Where do you work at home and why do you love it??

Mom, in college: editor of the yearbook, student body president, English major, in love with my dad. #Priceless

13 Reasons the Resurrection impacts your life

Resurrection Sunday is just around the corner. Millions of people differ on this one important belief: did Jesus actually rise from the dead?

Belief in the resurrection of Christ separates religions and cultures, many at personal risk of relationships, livelihood, and life. To Americans, Easter Sunday is more about new clothes and candy; in fact, most people probably aren’t familiar with the term “resurrection” as it relates to Jesus Christ.  But to the trillions who have understood its significance, the resurrection means everything.

If the Resurrection did not really happen, it would mean that—

  1. Jesus was not God’s Son.
  2. Jesus was a liar, the worst kind of devious cult leader.
  3. The Bible is invalid (because all of Scripture points to Jesus).
  4. Christians have been martyred for 2000 years, for no reason
  5. History is filled with quadrillions of coincidences in science, art, literature, music, history, and personal experience.
  6. Death offers no hope of peace or reunion with loved ones.
  7. There is no moral code, because there is no just God; consequently, there is no forgiveness of sins.
  8. There is no power of the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, convict, and empower us in our daily lives.
  9. The devil has defeated Jesus, and we should honor him.
  10. All religions are the same because all religious leaders are powerless, dead, and flawed.
  11. Feelings of inspiration, aspiration, discernment, compassion, loyalty, protection, survival, empathy, passion, and love are products of environment and conditioning only.
  12. There is no model for the resurrection and redemption of missed opportunities, ruined relationships, or devastated choice. There is no grace in life or death.
  13. Life has no meaning.

I don’t want to live that kind of life. Do you? Continue reading

A Piece of the World

Two days ago, I finished Christina Baker Kline’s novel A Piece of the World, based on the lives of two historical people who were friends. One was celebrated for his work as a painter. The other is known for her role in his most famous painting. I am still so moved by the story, I can’t stop thinking about it. Although I raced through it, I wish it hadn’t ended. I highlighted throughout. (Yes, I use a highlighter when I read a good novel because I can’t help myself.) Kline’s imagery and craftsmanship was so superb, I was reading and searching for a highlighter at the same time. And writing down lines in my reading journal. (Yes, I am that person.)

Kline tells the story of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World. The main character, Christina struggles to live in her small world even while she ached to leave it; she grappled with a crippling disease (apparently caused by polio); she struggled with love and jealousy in her relationship with her siblings and few friends; she became one of Andy Wyeth’s muses. The story was gripping, mesmerizing, and realistic, filled with flashbacks, history, and tender observances. Continue reading