mason jar pendant light.

I haven't written about updates to the house lately. One reason is that I've just been busy with life and there really haven't been any completed updates to share. There are lots of things in the works, though!

This is one project that I did manage to complete - a pendant light over my sink made out of a mason jar:

I had seen the idea, and was sharing it with my mom, when she mentioned that she had a mason jar I could use.

There are a couple different ways to do this - you can use a pendant light kit (like this tutorial from  Remodelaholic) or buy all the pieces to create your own lamp kit (like this tutorial from kara paslay designs). After researching prices, the cost would be about the same, so I decided to use a pendant light kit. It was also easier, and I didn't need to worry about covering up the lamp cord when I was done. The hardest part was putting the hole in the lid of the jar. Dad helped me with this by drilling a series of holes in a circle and using tin snips to cut between the holes.

Then, we went to hang the new light in place of the old globe fixture, and discovered another problem. The insulation from old fixture had been removed, so the heat from it had started to crack the insulation on one of the wires, which could have been a fire hazard - just one of surprises that sometimes comes with an old house! I wrapped the wire in electrical tape, then finished installing the pendant.

(See the bike through the window? That's my neighbors' upstairs apartment entry - the man who lives there talks to Dakota all the time...and she talks back.)

I love the way it looks! It was a pretty inexpensive project, since the only thing I purchased was the pendant light kit ($17) and the light bulb, and it's a unique light fixture.

surely we can change.

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let us bring grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change

the other reason we need margin.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how I've been trying to add margin to my life over the last few months. It's ironic, then, that right now I find myself in a place where there really isn't a lot of extra margin.

Do you ever have those weeks or months where it seems as though everything just kind of hits at once? That's what the last few weeks have been like for me. I'm in the midst of a couple of projects at work that have kept me really busy during the work day. I was finally sworn in as a CASA in Maryland and received my first case. And, I started a 5-week French class that meets two nights a week. These last couple weeks have been very full, and at least until I'm done with this class, the next few weeks will be as well.

But that's okay, because it's temporary. And maybe this is another reason why adding margin is such a good thing - so that when a great opportunity comes along, we have the space in our lives to take advantage of it.

why we need margin.

A few months ago, I read this great quote about the need to rest, to honor the Sabbath. I can't remember the words exactly, and haven't been able to find it online, but the gist of it really stuck with me. The basic idea is that rest, that taking a break from the work is not just good idea, it's necessary. It's so important that our bodies and our spirits will make it happen. If we don't rest, something will come along that will force rest on us - illness, job loss, whatever.

I've never been a stickler about setting apart Sunday (or Saturday) as a day of rest, but earlier this spring, I started feeling a gentle leading to create some space in my schedule and my to-do list. It wasn't so much about following a set of rules, as it was about adding in a bit of margin. Mostly, I stopped writing a to-do list for Sundays, and I started being a lot more careful about what I was willing to put on my schedule for that day. I'm still learning, and I don't always get it right, but it's still been a very welcome and helpful change.

As much as I love this work-from-home gig (and it really is a huge blessing), it is sometimes hard to make the transition from work hours to non-work hours. And when you couple that a house I'm trying to fix up and my tendency to start more than one thing at the same time, it can be difficult to not feel like there is always something else for me to be doing. When I'm home, all of those things are kind of staring me in the face, so giving myself permission (or even a mandate) to ignore them just for one day has resulted in a wonderful new rhythm. I start Monday a little more refreshed and ready for the work week. I enjoy the work more and feel like I'm more productive, like I'm using my time there well. The house projects don't overwhelm me, and I'm reminded that I actually enjoy this process.

I have always had a tendency to over-schedule my time, and in the end, it always leaves me frazzled, short with the people I care about, and so overwhelmed with all that needs to be done that I don't want to do anything at all. And even though I seem to keep forgetting this, the reality is that we can only actually plan so much. New projects come up, old things take longer than I thought they would. People don't usually fall in line with my schedule.

So, I'm learning to create a bit of space around the edges. To remind myself that it all doesn't have to be done right this second. To place more importance on people, not projects.

Really, just this - to rest.