Monday, June 22, 2009

Mama Monday

Today's Mama Monday is the beautiful, smart Ann Kroeker from the blog  Ann Kroeker. Writer. 
Ann is a writer, most recently writing a book called Not So Fast: Slow Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.
(Available in August--available now for preorder.) She also has written another book(which I have personally read and love) called Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship With God In the Midst of Motherhood.
What I like about reading Ann's writing, is that she focuses on living the "Slow Life" in her own life, as well as encouraging other mothers to do the same, with more than just the philosophy of "why"--but brings many great practical ideas. Ann also has a companion website to her book about slowing down, and many helpful links included at Not So Fast Book.
(worth a day of perusing all the links--some really great articles.)
More about Ann can be read here, and also at an interview I did with her back in January of 2008 here
Ladies I am pleased to bring you Ann:

1. Greatest thing about being a mom: The kids themselves! These four human beings in my care are amazing, and I get to be their mom!
2. Hardest thing about being a mom: The nonstop responsibility of meeting these four people’s needs, organizing schedules, mediating disputes, cleaning messes, always having to be on the alert—it’s all so exhausting. Also, when I was a young mom, I was very insecure about motherhood; I rarely felt confident I was doing the right thing and wasted a lot of time second-guessing my actions. And as the kids grow older, it’s hard to help them deal with heartache. Growing up wasn’t easy the first time, when I had to do it myself; it’s no easier helping four other people grow up.
3.  Interests / Hobbies: Reading, writing, running, hanging out with friends, learning new things. Writing is my main thing. At a hobby level, my writing consists of blogging, messing around with Twitter, and occasionally updating Facebook; but the writing at a ministry level currently involves my second book, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. The production schedule hasn’t been overwhelming, so I’ve been able to pace myself and still meet deadlines. But this writing commitment (lasting about two years), has kept me from developing a lot of new hobbies or interests. One thing I’d like to improve is my photography. I love seeing beautiful photographs and want to learn how to improve my own and add that element to my blog. I have a decent point-and-shoot, but I dream of a better one (DSLR). I shouldn’t kid myself, though; having better equipment doesn’t guarantee better photos. And I don’t know if this would be considered a hobby, but I’ve learned functional French to communicate with the Belgian Wonder’s side of the family and would like to be fluent someday. I can’t conjugate verbs and my vocabulary is extremely limited. I could order baguettes at the “boulangerie” and buy jars of Nutella at the “supermarch√©,” but I’m not satisfied. I look forward to one day enjoying more profound conversations with French-speaking in-laws.
4. How you find balance in your life: Keeping life fairly simple helps, but the most important element for seeking balance has been to faithfully pray and read/study God’s Word. When I neglect these basic ways of connecting with the Lord, I can feel it (and the family can tell). Through prayer and journaling, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see what needs to change and try to evaluate how things are going. Another earthly benefit is that I also have an extremely supportive husband who sees when my stress level goes up. Ever since the kids were little, he’s encouraged me to have solitude, knowing how that time with the Lord is essential to my survival. At a very practical level, I find that getting outside in God’s creation improves my mood, attitude and perspective at a level that I can’t fully explain. Finally, regular exercise helps clear my head and keep me healthy. When I’m not keeping up with running or aerobic exercise of some kind, I quickly get out of balance.
5. Inspirations: (in no particular order) Great books, invigorating conversations with friends, the Holy Spirit’s insights, beauty, nature.
6. I couldn't live without: Tea. No, that’s not true. I could live without it, but I do really love it. The truth of the matter is that I couldn’t live without the Holy Spirit, without a relationship with God the Father through Jesus. I can’t live without God Himself. Over the years, I have come to understand at a practical level the meaning of that verse in John, “apart from Him, I can do nothing.” At the same time, though, it’s reassuring to know that He will never leave me nor forsake me—I can’t live without Him, but He is always with me.
7. Ways you worship God: I was talking with a friend of mine about this recently. She is a singer, so her main way of worship is through music. I enjoy music, but it’s not my primary way of praising the Lord. Some ways I worship Him are through prayer, writing, quiet moments alone, and communion.
8. What helps me through tough days: The Lord, time alone, a few minutes of quiet, time to write, a run, a pot of tea, and some Nutella on French bread.
9. What do you want that you think you cannot have: To live where it’s warm year round, preferably a short distance from the Gulf of Mexico.
10. 3 quirky things about you: 1) I occasionally talk in my sleep. This is embarrassing when camping or on women’s retreats when I share a room with someone I don’t know well. 2) I’ve never had a manicure or pedicure. 3) After my first bite of a vinegar-based food like salad dressing, I usually sneeze three times in a row.
11. guilty pleasures: Reading a book all day and late into the night. Logging on to Twitter (the Belgian Wonder thinks it’s a total waste of time, but I find it kind of fun). Spoonfuls of chocolate-chip cookie dough.
12. Something I've been thinking about lately: My book is about families slowing down in this fast-paced world. Because the release date is coming up, I’ve had a lot of conversations about it. People respond immediately after I say the title (Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families) with a heavy sigh. “Oh … we are living so fast. We are so busy. We need to slow down!” Over and over people talk about their full-to-bursting schedules, and I continue to marvel at how our culture’s emphasis on efficiency and productivity can lead to a life without pauses, without rest stops, without Sabbaths or conversation or connection with people. It seems like families barely look each other in the eyes anymore—we’re forgetting to stop and make that simple, intimate contact. I can’t get over how many people are aching to slow down.
13. The best day would be: …spent on a beach with nothing scheduled, a stack of books to choose from, a pile of steamed shrimp to devour with fresh corn on the cob, a pitcher of sweet tea on hand. The kids would be having fun digging in the sand and playing in the surf, but be safe and not need me at all. The Belgian Wonder and I would go on a couple of long walks, maybe toss a Frisbee. We’d all eat out at a seafood restaurant and no one would complain about their meals, and they would eat every bite. I guess my best day would be a vacation day. But I don’t live near a beach, so if this best day had to be a normal day, spent at home in my land-locked Midwestern home, I would sleep in, go for a jog, brew a pot of tea, write something (maybe a blog post, maybe something just for fun), read something, go out for lunch with a friend, lounge in a hammock, bake something like a quiche or brownies, and gather for dinner outside on the porch. We’d stay up late enough to catch fireflies and watch the stars come out. On the porch, we might light some candles and friends might join us for dessert and hang out talking until late.
14. One word that describes me: It’s too difficult to be objective, so I asked my family what one word they would use to describe me, and here is what they shouted out: “creative,” “fun,” “ideas,” “learner,” “a good teacher,” and “encouraging.” Five people generated six responses, so someone must have called out more than one word. And the 7-year-old is the one who gave a three-word response. They also said “cool” and “awesome,” but those, while flattering, aren’t as specific or descriptive.
Thank you Ann!!

Thank you, Andrea, for the fun of hanging out with your readers for a day! Have a great week!


Sheila said...

Thanks for that interview. I'd like to know Ann's Twitter ID so I can follow her. :)


I'm CanadianSheila on Twitter.

Andrea said...

I love Ann's answers for number four!! Lots of good advice.

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Jane Anne said...

I dropped by from Ann's today. This was so much fun to read. Thanks! I look forward to checking out more of your blog.

Marci @OvercomingBusy said...

I'm just found your blog through Ann's blog. What a great interview! Its great to know her a little more. Can't wait for the book!