Living Room

Those simple words, Living Room, have taken on new meaning worldwide. As nation after nation imposed restrictions on free movement and social interaction, our circle of daily face to face encounters are becoming limited to those who share our living room. And without loosing a single inch, that living room seemed to shrink overnight. Like going from an ocean liner to a life raft, personal space was reduced to those closest to you.

As children, many of us were sent to our rooms as punishment for misbehaving or outright rebellion. When it was our turn to parent, we considered “time out” as a more evolved form of training. The most violent criminal offenders are often restricted to solitary confinement. Time and time again we have been trained and conditioned to believe the punishment hanging over our heads is isolation.

Now governments and media and so-called experts are telling us for the good of common mankind, we must avoid contact with those outside our immediate home for months. Sure, we have social media and an abundance of online platforms to connect via screens but face to face…that’s a small circle even for large families. Most of us are not alone. We are stranded on an island with our nearest and dearest.

So how do we honor our living room? How do we make space for each other while restricted to only each other? How do we redeem this time to deepen our relationships instead of avoiding them? How do we live in the same room?

In case you missed the millions of reminders to wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home, I’d like to use those 3 points as a way to survive not the current fear but the deeper fear…intimacy in life.

Wash your hands…from childhood we’ve been told to wash our hands. It often came with the second admonition to wash our faces. So before we reach out to those nearest and dearest, taking a moment to see if we have emotional, spiritual and mental clean hands can be more important than the physical germs and dirt we might pass on.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

With clean hearts and hands we can reach out to each other in love and support. We can sit and talk. We can play and laugh. We can tell stories and really listen. We have nowhere else to be and, honestly, is there anyone else you want to be with?

Cover your cough… Anyone else remember the little catch phrase from the playground….”Say it, don’t spray it”? It has become so easy to “share” under the guise of information. The internet has become a party line on Russian Olympic steroids. If you don’t recognize either of those references please consult a Funk & Wagnalls for enlightenment. There seems to be a rush to publish, to break the story, to be the first to report or retweet or repost that leaves no time for due diligence, fact checking or even the most rudimentary spell check. Grammar, common sense and critical thinking have gone the way of the dodo bird.

It is important not to spread germs but isn’t it more important not to spread lies, gossip, shame, depression, gloom and doom, fear and hopelessness.


Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them,
but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Stay at home…You are grounded. Or are you blessed? To be able to shelter in place means you have a place. A place for your stuff. Now you have time to deal with your stuff, your physical stuff and your emotional stuff. The stuff you’ve been stuffing and the stuff you’ve been saving and the stuff you’ve long outgrown. No wonder people start to get edgy when they have to stay home. There is nowhere to hide or run from stuff when you are required to stay home. Some will take this time as an opportunity to take a good look at stuff and make changes. Others will deliberately turn a blind eye and ignore it. But, let me remind you…everything in your house is there because you ALLOW it to be. Everything. Want it gone? Get rid of it! Want it fixed? Fix it! Want it painted? Paint it. Want to sit there and keep complaining about it? Well, that’s your choice, too. But if your home is a reflection of you, are you comfortable there? Are other’s comfortable there? Or is this a good time to make some changes? After all, you’re already home. How content are you to stay there?

There are countless men, women and children living on the streets of our country. Without the shelter and confines of the four walls that surround you, without the limitations of a few rooms, without…

How are you living in the room you have? How are you living the days that have been given to you? How are you making changes because of the world outside your home?

The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy, its impact was profound, and it resulted in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, one of the greatest epochs for art, architecture, and literature in human history.

It’s never too late for a personal renaissance. It must start where you live. It must have room.

Office Hours

I will start by confessing, I am abundantly blessed when it comes to my personal work space. The crazy Queen Anne Victorian house we bought came with a single room on the 3rd floor. The rest of the 3rd floor is the attic. There were concerns when I claimed this 5th bedroom as my office. The stairway up is steep and narrow. It is so narrow that I come down the stair sideways with my backside against one wall and a hand on the opposite wall for stability. My desk was brought up in pieces and assembled in the room. Before moving in we painted the room a pale pink with deep blue trim. I love being up here. When it rains I hear it clearly. When it snows I feel like I am in a snow globe.

I am also blessed to be married to a tech wizard. For 40 years he has been on the bleeding edge of technology in the Silicon Valley. When he retired, we bought this house and moved away from the life we knew for a life with our grandsons and a lifestyle that suited this chapter of our story. He has set me up with a 3 screen extended display, Evernote scanner and Brother printer to support the custom built computer with all the software I desire and top speed internet.

My office is what makes much of what I do possible. I can spend hours researching, reading, writing and investigating the world without leaving home. I can organize the stuffing out of just about anything. This is where the work gets done.

For many, the idea of a solo office sounds isolated and lonely. For others, it is the dream. I am in the dream group. I need solitude and quiet to bring my efforts to their fullest. Like a diesel engine, I need a glow plug to get started and a good warm up before I’m ready for the road. It takes an average of an hour for me to start writing. By the time I edit, rewrite, reconsider and grammar check, even the shortest posts can take a full morning.

My biggest challenge is those stairs. In order to get to my office, I have to actually come up the stairs. Sitting down, firing up the computer and diving in is easy. I’m already committed. I’m already up here. It’s opening the door and transitioning from the lure of the tv, the comfort of my reading chair by the fire, the extra cup of coffee with my husband over the breakfast table, the freedom of not having to answer to anyone else’s schedule.

I set my own office hours. I am the only one I am accountable to. I open the office, set the tasks for the day, decide when it’s time for a lunch break and if I am going back to the office after lunch. I also am the one who would fire me.

You see, I know the long list of things that could be coming out of this office. I know the books waiting to be written, the projects and the goals, the courses of study and the courses to be presented. I know the connections and relationships I want to develop. I know the incredible blessings I have and with that comes great expectations and responsibility to be a good steward of those blessings. None of those expectations are external. They all come from me.

It’s not enough to have all the tools, all the time, all the freedom. I have to climb the stairs and do the work. That is where the joy, the reward, the fun is. It’s not in the having. It’s in the doing. It’s in hitting the “Publish” button. It’s in seeing the word count for the day pass the goal because I was so wrapped up in the story that the count was no longer the goal, the story was.

My hope for you this Monday morning, is that you find delight, joy and energy in your office hours. I plan to keep mine more faithfully.

I’ll put the kettle on…

If you watch much BBC you will hear a line repeated often…”I’ll put the kettle on.” Many times it’s preceded by “fancy a cup of tea?” For those not familiar with this social cue, it translates to “this conversation is going to need some time…time for the water to boil…time for the tea to steep…time for the tea to cool enough to drink and time to actually drink the tea.” It’s an invitation to sit and share what’s on your mind.

For the past 2 years, I have been struggling. Having moved to a new town in a new state and knowing only a couple of very busy people, making new friends has been on my list of things to do. My new town is a fairly old, established town. The house we bought is 120 years old. Most on our street are newer. They are right around 100 or so. The few neighbors we have spoken with have lived here most of their lives and are now much closer to the end than the middle of those lives.

I have been on the lookout for opportunities to connect with like minded people. I love reading and thought the library was a natural place to start. The day I walked in to get a library card, the woman at the desk asked me if I had my state issued driver’s license. I said I didn’t. As she turned her chair away from me to go back to reading her magazine she said “come back when you do.” I guess having the actual deed and title to the home we own 4 blocks from the library and a wallet full of ids wasn’t going to get me a library card.

The next attempt was reaching out to the historic society. After all I have a 120 year old Queen Anne Victorian house. I thought Renaissance Wife would be a natural corporate sponsor for the historic museum in town so I filled out the application and sent in a check. Crickets…. but the check was cashed. On their Facebook Page and website, they listed a book club. “This has to be my on ramp,” I thought. I bought the book. I read the book. I went to the museum the night of the book club. No one was there. Not even a sign on the door saying it had been canceled or moved. Nothing. I posted my experience on the Facebook event…more crickets. And, the book was about manners holding polite society together!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a women’s Bible study group. I went on line, created an account, registered for the group, paid the $13 for the book and was excited. These had to be my people, right?

Not so much. When I arrived there were 5 women all focused on their cell phones. One looked up and asked me if I was new. When I replied I was, she told me to sign the sheet on the clipboard because she sends out an email with information each week. Ok. Signed in and sat down. Over the next 10 minutes or so 12 more women came in and sat down in the circle of chairs. Not one said hello to me. When the women who sends out the emails started the study, no one offered to share their book. After an hour and a half, she closed in prayer. I stood up, put on my coat, picked up my purse and made my way to the door passing 4 women on the way. Not one said a word to me. Nothing….

A week later, having heard nothing from the email lady, I emailed the church and asked for a refund for my registration. They processed it very quickly with no questions asked.

All this to say, I am confused about how to connect with people in this day and age. I admit freely that I have some old fashioned ideas when it comes to hospitality. I believe in making people feel welcome when they enter my environment, in being where I say I’m going to be and that a women’s Bible study should be the most gracious place for a new person to find themselves. I believe in putting the kettle on. I can’t believe hospitality is dead. It can’t be.

While I have been writing, I have had a cup of Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender tea. You see, even if we are not in the same room, when I write I feel like we are having a chat and you are so kindly listening to my heart. Having a cup of tea with you is a very deliberate action. My tea kettle in on the first floor of our home with my office on the third floor. I waited for the kettle to boil, brought the mug up two flights of stairs, and logged in to talk to you about my heart. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to “listen”.

Now, it’s your turn to talk. I’ll put the kettle on…how do you take your tea?

The Kitchen: The Heart of the Home

Make it special

Holidays seem to come with the expectation of home cooked dinners, desserts and specialties reserved for once a year. Perfecting creations without someone to teach you and opportunities to practice can put added pressure on inexperienced or under trained cooks. Many times the tradition was passed on but the knowledge wasn’t.

Years ago, I tried to make divinity fudge. My grandmother had made it every year for Christmas. She passed away without teaching me her secrets. Last month, I spent an evening teaching my grandson my recipe for Cowboy Chili. I sat on an old red kitchen stool and talked him through each of the steps. When every step had been completed and the chili was simmering, we sat at the kitchen table and talked through it again as he wrote the recipe in a Moleskine Recipe Journal. From memory, he was able to list the ingredients, amounts and process for each step. At the end of the evening, he told me how much he loved cooking and spending time in the kitchen with me.

Make it fresh

When I think of Renaissance in the kitchen, my friend Misty is one of the women who come to mind first. A single mother raising sons in the beauty of North Carolina, she has built a company literally from the ground up. Growing her own produce to supply her products and provide for her family, she relies on her knowledge of gardening, weather, and preserving with skills most have lost or never had.

Make it your own

Maybe you know how to make divinity. Turns out my grandson does and is going to teach me! Maybe you know how to make Cowboy Chili. If not, I will be doing an instructional video soon. Maybe you know how to make jam from the produce of your own garden, if not you can order it from Misty at Ma’am’s Hot Jam. My favorite is the Blueberry Seven Pepper Jam. It’s so good on fresh hot biscuits or pork chops or goat cheese with crackers.

Don’t be afraid of your kitchen. If you don’t have a grandmother or mother to teach you, it’s ok. You can still learn to make special dishes and memories. Look around our kitchen for ideas and inspirations and links to learning. Then get creative and make something new!

Here we go…

Late last Friday night Renaissance Wife relaunched the website thanks to the dedication and patience of an amazing web designer and dear friend. Now comes the fun part! This is where you get to wander around and find things to learn and do and consider.

It was always my plan to feature a new room and a new inspiration each week starting with the Library. I know libraries can conjure up images of dusty, dry old buildings with stern faces shushing you. But I want you to consider this an open-air library where not only is talking allowed but questions are encouraged.

I met my favorite librarian in 1978. We were Juniors in high school. She is now a Ph.D at a prestigious  southern university. Anything but stern, her love of literacy and reading has inspired young people to pursue education in all disciplines leading to medical breakthroughs and scientific discoveries that are changing the way diagnosis are made and treatments are implemented. She is also a gifted vocalist, devoted wife, mother and new grandmother. Much more about her to come in future posts.

Looking over the freshly launched website Saturday morning, I was inspired to use a gift certificate I had received for Christmas to a unique experience near the waterfront in Detroit. If you ever get a couple of free hours in Detroit the John K King Used and Rare Books store  is the place to spend them. An old glove factory has become the home to more than a million books, from rare and obscure to recent and trendy. Over whelmed I sat down in one of the aisles on a couple of stacked milk crates scattered throughout the four stories for just such a moment. Scanning the shelves, my eye caught a title on the spine of a book that just jumped out from the others. “The Whole Five Feet”… Now if you have ever followed a White Rabbit, you can probably recognize this as one of them. The chase was on.

“The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death and Pretty Much Everything Else” is a paperback I paid $6 for. Before flipping it over to read the back, I had a suspicion I knew where the author was going. I didn’t know exactly why but the name Harvard Classics came to mind. The Whole Five Feet is his experience the year he decided to read the Harvard Classics. All 51 of them.

Don’t get too far ahead of the story…but, yes. I did come home with 2 heavy boxes in the trunk of my car. Turns out John K King had exactly one complete set of The Harvard Classics. Now I have them.

If you are not familiar with the Harvard Classics, don’t worry. A lot of people haven’t read them. But turns out a lot of people have them or had them. You may remember a set of reddish colored books in your grandparents’ home. You probably don’t remember ever seeing anyone read them or talk about them but they were a standard in many homes, passed down because they were important if not understood.

In 1909, Dr Charles Elliot ended his 40 years as President of Harvard University by curating a comprehensive if not exhaustive set of books based on his premise that the average person could get the equivalent of a liberal arts education by reading a 5-foot bookshelf. He believed if just 15 minutes a day were devoted to reading these books, the depth and breadth of knowledge of higher education could be attained independently. 110 years later, I whole heartedly agree with Dr. Elliot.

While I do not have an advanced degree, I have always believed that the only limitations put on education are self-imposed.

I have always believed the axiom that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. 

I believe that if someone, anyone, else has learned something, I can too. I may not be as good at it or master it but I can learn it.

For too long, I believed that most of my opportunities to learn had passed before I recognized what they were. Case in point, over dinner Saturday night, explaining to my husband what a wonderful find these books were, I realized why I knew Harvard Classics. A quick call to my mother confirmed, my parents had subscribed to the 1969 publication. They never finished getting all the books and my mother no longer had them but the green spine with the gold print was part of my journey each time we packed and moved growing up.

This morning, I am excited about picking up a book that is 110 years old, that was overlooked when I was 10 years old but that has quietly challenged me to learn for myself. To read and study, to explore and discover, to think and talk and teach and grow…

I’m not saying everyone should read the Harvard Classics but if you are ready, you can read them for free thanks to the Gutenberg Project.

Where ever you decide to begin your personal renaissance…just get started. Who knows where your White Rabbit will take you today?

Welcome to Renaissance Wife

Your personal renaissance awaits.

This has been a dream in the making for as long as I can remember. I always envisioned a place – an online resort of sorts – where women could come together to learn all the skills we’ve put off while raising families. One central location where women of every walk of life could come together for their own personal renaissance. Now here we are together.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have you join me here.

Bare bones construction

Right now, we have five rooms available for you to tour. In each of those rooms, you’ll find a handful of navigational markers for you to explore. This is just the beginning – the bare bones of the Renaissance House we’re “building” for women just like you.

Feel free to tour the rooms and look around. If you’d like to see something added to any of the rooms, hop over to our Guest Book and leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

What’s to come?

We have several more rooms under construction for the Renaissance House:

  • Guest Bedroom
  • Dining Room
  • Study/ Office
  • Ballroom
  • Garden
  • Garage
  • Sanctuary

We will also be launching a membership section in the future. Members will have access to experts in several areas who will be offering specialized courses and coaching.

Don’t miss out!

Be sure to sign up as a house guest so you never miss an update on rooms, information, courses, etc. Be the first to know when our membership section opens and what it will mean for you. If you have a special skill you’d like to teach, you’ll want to become a house guest so you can have your course added to one of the rooms.

Become a House Guest Today

Until next time, enjoy your renaissance!

Lana