Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life by lydia petersen


Part of cultivating a good life is doing the things we used to do.

I love to cook, but you wouldn’t know it from my freezer that looks like an aisle at Costco. It used to be lined with food-saver bags of soups, sauces, and the start to a lot of home-cooked meals to come. I went from being a small town, stay-at-home, homeschooling, hobbying (not really a word, I know) mom of six little ones to now running a business in what feels like a very new life halfway across the country. I’ve traded comfy yoga pants and t-shirts for dry cleaned suits and blouses. Instead of having my family together for three meals a day, we all pack a lunch and I eat in my office. My days are different now.

My new life isn’t a surprise. I chose it. I’m living it. In many ways I love it, but maybe it crept up on me a little and I had forgotten a bit of what used to be my everyday life. Sadly, I wasn’t the only one to notice. My 11 year old couldn’t have been more insightful when she said,

“Mom, we’re not the same people we used to be because we don’t do the things we used to do.”

So much of her life had changed, too. She longed for the familiar parts of who we were, just as I did, but couldn’t articulate. For months I repeated her words countless times in my head, but never translated them into action.   

Then there was a sale on chicken. How could I not buy eleven pounds? It was on sale! My husband teased me that it was sure to go to waste, so perhaps to prove him wrong, I started a pot of soup on a quiet Sunday evening. Standing over the stove, I thought of my daughter’s words again and felt like the person I used to be. I had set out to cook one pot of soup, but the old me would never have stopped there. In that moment I realized how much I missed myself, and I wanted to keep cooking.

Soon my kids were at my side, sliding stools around looking for the next thing to chop or stir. The trash can was brimming with vegetable peelings and cans. One side of the counter was filled with what was to go into the pots and the other filled with preparations for when it came out. There was a large dinner plate next to the stove because one little spoon rest wasn’t enough. With several dishes going at once, my taste buds were on their recognizable journey — Thailand, Italy, Mexico…and Virginia. I was using the knife I bought with a girlfriend when we went to a just-for-fun, week-long cooking school together four years ago. My feet felt tired, not from wearing heels all day, but from being barefoot on the tile floor. I welcomed feeling like the same person, the same family, doing the things we used to do. This was about more than a pot of soup. We felt connected.

If someone asked you what your hobbies and interests are, would the answer be a list of things you love, but haven’t actually done in years? Are there activities you enjoy as a family, but the demands of life have gotten in the way? What did you do with your spouse when you were dating?

Maybe it’s time to pull out the instrument from high school and play a duet with your 6th grader. Try your hand at some watercolored tulips. Teach your grandkids to fish. Reread your favorite book and remember why you love it. Dust off your sports equipment. Be deliberate. Be creative. Look for ways to include the people you love in the things you used to do and be willing to join in their interests as well.

I enjoy learning new things, but sometimes I feel like an old dog that needs to do an old trick. I not only want to see the everyday but do a little more of what used to be my everyday. 

Note from Becky

When I first read Lydia’s words, I found myself tearing up. Part of that is because I connect so much with what she is saying. Part of it is because she writes so poignantly and honestly that I felt like I was right there with her in the kitchen. And part of it is because Lydia and I are deeply connected and I love her so darn much. We met about 30 years ago and we’ve been best friends ever since. She is my very dearest childhood friend. We shared many sleepovers and road trips together. We painted each others’ nails, bought plenty of matching outfits, cooked and sewed together, passed notes in church, and for sure made lists about what qualities we wanted our future husbands to have.

As it turns out, we both married pretty remarkable men who have also become very good friends. I consider Lydia one of the greatest blessings in my life. I know the “old her” she’s talking about, just as well as I know the “person she is now.” Her lifestyle may have taken a huge shift in recent years, but she is still Lydia — kind, intentional, warm, intelligent, and crazy talented. I am completely inspired to reconnect with some of the things I used to do.


6 Responses

  1. Sal says:

    Best post of the year- Amen

  2. Wow! Thought provoking and moving for sure. I’m asking myself right now if I’m not doing things that make me feel like me. Taking time to take pictures and scrapbook is one of those things. Great post!

  3. karen says:

    Oh Lydia…oh Becky…this post really spoke to me about the life I am living (which I love to) and the things I have forgotten to do
    Loved it
    thank you … such a gift before Xmas

  4. { l y d i a } says:

    I didn’t know this was going to be yesterday’s post and while this was floating around, I was playing the flute with a choir. I haven’t played since the 7th grade. Whew! Maybe I thought, “I’ve said it. Now I better do it!” A scary/growing experience for me and and probably good for my kids to see me practice my little heart out. Here’s to some old things made new!

  5. Kelly Hudson says:

    Thank you so much for the thought provoking blog post and for the reminder to focus on what is really important in life. This reminder comes at a perfect time during the holidays. I agree that living your best life everyday is the most important lesson in life. As I look forward to the new year I will reflect heavily on your question:
    “If someone asked you what your hobbies and interests are, would the answer be a list of things you love, but haven’t actually done in years?”
    One of my passions that is definitely calling me back is healthy home cooked meals for my family!

  6. Mandy Sutterer says:

    It was wonderful to read your blog. I do miss hanging out with you. What a long time ago in the days without children. I still think of you when I am hosting and decorating. I learned a lot of you. Thanks for reminding me of the simple things to find joy. Merry Christmas. I hope our paths cross again.

Leave a Reply to TracieClaiborne