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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
+ Robert Fulghum

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Winter Fun

A Compass and Travel Guide

blog walk 1

Madeleine L’Engle had this advice for writers: “I don’t care whether they’re five or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s only for half an hour–write, write, write.”

The second thing, absolutely. The third thing, a bit harder, but clearly necessary. But that first one…ugh. Journaling’s just not my thing. I’ve tried to get into it, but my attempts all fizzled out instantly. On the other hand, I wrote and published my first newsletter in fourth grade and have done dozens of similar projects (personally and professionally) ever since. I think for some of us, the reader is such an important part of our writing that we’re drawn much more strongly to modes that offer at least the hope of someone on the other end.

So. I’ve decided to dust off this old blog. When the kids were younger, it acted as a kind of compass for me. I was constantly being pulled in so many directions, but having this space to write and share ideas about parenting and life and recipes and whatever else came up helped me focus more than I ever would have imagined.

And now that life has taken this surprising turn, in which we find ourselves 1,700 miles from home on an island of all places, I realize that I need that compass once again to keep me going in the right direction. It’s easy for the days to slip by, filled with laundry and bills and work and errands, so I could use some help with being more intentional with our time here. That goes for the writing, too. (More on that later.)

I also think this will be a more comfortable way to share travel ideas with friends and family who’ve said they’d like to visit us. Bainbridge is a magical place, but posting idyllic island photos on Facebook doesn’t quite ring true when most of my time is spent doing highly non-idyllic-island activities. I tell my kids not to compare their insides with other people’s outsides, but still. This way, people can come check out the gorgeousness when they’re in the mood for it.

So to get started, when you come visit we’ll take you on one of our favorite walks down to South Beach Drive. We have a game we play, where we hope to see these 5 things when we turn a corner and the Sound opens before us:

1. Mount Rainier (“the mountain is out,” as the locals say)

2. An eagle on the pier

3. A ferry boat

4. Sea lions

5. Sea otters

We haven’t seen all 5 at once, but it’s still early days.

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Thank you for stopping by today. It’ll be fun looking for things to share with you until you can see them for yourself!


  1. Tracy Collins says:

    Thanks for sharing. You are inspirational and I love reading everything you write from face book posts to blogs. Thanks again.

    1. Shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Tracy. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

  2. Joan A O'Donnell says:

    I love your writing, Shannon. So glad “A Mom’s Year is ‘back in business'”! Had a lovely time visiting some favorite posts from the past. Your Father’s Day writing and photos are especially wonderful. Thank you for sharing your talent and ideas, and now your island!

    1. Shannon says:

      Thank you so much, Joan. The danger for me in going back to read old posts is that I always think of ways I could have said things better! But on the other hand, it’s a good way to remember and reflect–I teared up when I re-read the post about Grandma Charlotte’s pork chops.

  3. Leslie Nelson says:

    I’ve missed your words. I find a familiar comfort in reading them; as though they were meant just for me. I think many of us feel this way. Thanks for sharing your words, and gift, with us again.

    1. Shannon says:

      Leslie, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comment. I think that connecting with a reader that way is the hope of every writer.

  4. Jennifer says:

    So inspiring! I love that advice by L’Engle! We need to read more and write more, and no, Facebook doesn’t really count…although I sure enjoy reading your posts there too! Love the blog, and you. Looking v forward to visiting that island of yours!

    1. Shannon says:

      Hi Jennifer! Thank you for all your encouragement–here and in real life. We can’t wait for you to visit. Your artistic soul will drink it all in.

  5. Soleil says:

    So happy to see you back! And your writing- how I have missed it! Looking forward to reading more. Welcome back.

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