Taking Note : My Inner Dialogue

by Paige Ray

 This is going to sound... I don't know super weird... But last night I heard someone (myself) yelling at me about "this stuff" (stuff : podcasting, social media, sponsorships, all of it). 

It wasn't audible. But for the first time I tuned in to the voice in my head and she was angry. And I realized why I walk around with a permanent headache. My inner self is a bitch and is crazy disappointed with me.  

The above was a text to a friend that helped me realize something I've struggled to put into words for a long time - I'm disappointed in myself. Despite currently having a life that I love, disappointment has been a near constant companion since I "fired myself", ie. quit, my first job out of college. And despite the fact that I now know to look at failures as chances to grow and improve and despite the fact that I have repeated, "Failure is an event, not a person," over and over to myself literally hundreds of times, I still struggle. 


And I wish I were the type of person who gets knocked down and then comes right back up swinging... But I'm not. Instead I sentenced myself to my own exile. Abraham had... what... 40 years in the wilderness. I gave myself 6. Between the time I left that first job and that my husband I basically wondered. I looked and searched for "success", "non-failure", a way to prove to myself in the world I was worthy. 

It wasn't until I met my uber-confident husband that I realized that the puddle of self-doubt that I swam in was not the norm. There was a much more positive alternative.

More importantly, the person I wanted to be and the person I was becoming were lining up for the first time.

But my disappointment was, and apparently IS, still there. Lurking in the shadows. Swooping down in times of doubt or disappointment. Making me ask, "What if?" and saying, "If only..." in hopes to somehow correct the mistakes of my past. And, this is key, in hopes of increasing my happiness. 

Let me let that sit in for a moment.

To be hypothetically happier, I sacrifice my current joy by wallowing in both past and current disappointment. This has to stop. 


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Recipe : Wild Chicken and Rice Soup

by Paige Ray

This last week my family celebrated the first Thanksgiving without my grandmother. And while we have loads to be thankful for, not having her there was hard. 

It was particularly hard when I realized we didn't have her banana pudding. Upon realizing that a dessert that had once been planted firmly in the middle of the "Deserts I Adore" column shot straight to the top... Without her there to make it... Without her there to shuffle through her recipes organized in a way that only her memory and fingers could find... Would I lose the taste of my grandmother's love?

And it was another loss (albeit a small and food related one) that reminded me that losing someone you love doesn't just happen once but in a million tiny different ways for a very long time. 

Standing in the kitchen, I promised myself that I would save as many of the rest of my grandmothers recipes that I could. A few family meals later, I realized I needed to save my mother in laws too. And by the end of a long holiday week, I realized I needed to save some of my own.


It's with all that in mind that we made wild chicken and rice soup this past weekend. It's not "vintage" but it was good. It was the exact thing we needed to slowly come out of the food coma that Thanksgiving has become. 

Check out the recipe at Two Peas and Their Pod. 

And so this is the first installment in the new Approaching Joy. A living recipe box where I record old family recipes and new favorites. A place to share memories and stash the recipes I don't want to forget. 


ps. I'm still hunting for that banana pudding recipe. 

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Around Here // June

by Paige Ray

This past month was all about figuring out a new normal. The edges and emotions were a little less raw. The bright and shiny new was a little less glaring. As little man and I have slipped into July I realize that things that seemed impossibly overwhelming (ie. Sleeping longer than two hours) will eventually happen. Not today but eventually. 

And it's hard. Wanting to comfort him but knowing that he needs to learn to respond to his dad's presence. Wanting to stay engaged with him when he is awake but not having lots to interact with. Wanting to be a productive humanbeing but being hijacked by unexpectedly short nap times. Wanting to make a quick trip to the grocery store but knowing that the hour it would take with him would not justify the addition of <insert missing ingredient here> to tonight's meal.

Not impossible hard, but normal hard.  Hard in an "I'm thoroughly thankful that I have to deal with 'normal' hard because that means that he is healthy and I have the opportunity to stay at home with him," way.

What's your normal hard lately? 

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An Open Letter // To Myself

by Paige Ray in

Dear Paige-

Quit being scared.  

Stop the low self confidence crap and stupid excuses.  

Stop reading the inspirational quotes and start living them.

Start realizing you're only as good as you've actually accomplished... not simply your ideas.

No.  Scratch that.

You are good enough regardless of what you accomplish.  So go out there and be okay with falling flat on your face. (Remember flipping over the handlebars of your bike when you where seven?  You [and most of your teeth] survived that didn't you?) 

Things are not "too big" or "too complicated" - you just don't like to be frustrated.  Life is frustrating. Frustration doesn't equal impossibility.

Believe in yourself.  

You are not perfect, but you are just as capable as anyone else pursuing that dream as anyone else.


Image via Unsplash

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Local Love // Homesteading with P Allen Smith

by Paige Ray in

In conjunction to my thoughts on being a homemaker, I have recently been thinking about the things that my grandmother knew that I took full advantage of as I grew up.  
Someone to share the secrets of the flower garden.
Someone to call when there are questions regarding canning the summer's produce.
Someone to rely on for facts about the difference of a mean chicken and a docile one.

All things which I, knowing everything as I did from the ages of 16 - 29, didn't even realize I needed to know. So when the opportunity to attend Homesteading 123 at Moss Mountain Farm with P Allen Smith, I excitedly said "Yes!". 

Allen is a man who has cultivated a community of like-minded people, from around the country, who know all those things I was too smart to pay attention to while I was growing up.  When I arrived on this early summer day I found myself surrounded not only by beautiful architecture and gorgeous gardens, but by people from across the nation like myself who were interesting in learning about what may soon be lost arts. These same people decided to press "Pause" and savor the day instead of fast-forwarding through all their daily obligations.

Interested in learning more about how you can press "pause" at Moss Mountain?  Check out the story of the house and check to see what dates are available to visit

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Titles, promotions, and paychecks

by Paige Ray in

Lately, I've been thinking a lot of about the art and science of domesticity. "Domesticity" being the made up word I use to describe the plethora of that which is considered domestic, all the things squarely in the realm of those who, in decades past would have considered themselves "homemakers".  

My fascination comes from two areas, the first being obvious: the recent arrival of my son coupled with my decision to stay at home to take care of him has, for the time being, put me squarely in this camp.

But the second is a bit more nuanced.  Having lost my grandmother only a few days before the birth of my son, I have been left to think about her legacy. I have, and continue to, mourn the loss of a woman I considered a friend and a role model.  She was a person who, despite her imperfections, did most everything with a great sense of love and overarching desire to help. The fact that my son will not have a chance to meet her, hurts in a place and in a way that is indescribable.

Through all of this, it's been my reflection of her impact on my life that I have come to realize how great of an influence she was for those across her community, despite, and maybe even because of the fact, that she was "just" a homemaker. I wonder how many people she was able to befriend, comfort, console, or otherwise touch because she wasn't juggling the demands of a full time job as well as managing the well-being of her family.  

This is in no way saying that she sat around and watched soap operas until she received a call for help.  No, for a woman who never had a paying job during my life span, she always stayed busy.  Whether she was volunteering at the library, or helping with a community fundraiser, or cooking food for the volunteer firefighters, or traveling with her husband to build churches across the country- her ability to make a difference was always apparent despite the lack of titles, promotions, or paychecks.

And I wonder if I'm that type of person.
I wonder if I am confident enough in myself that I don't have to purse those things that the rest of these world deems important. I wonder if I could go through life without constantly looking for the external gratification that is intrinsic in "full time" and "traditional" employment.  I have come to wonder how many more times I might be able to give an excited "yes" to extemporaneous situations (picking that friend up from the airport, helping the neighbor who has lost a loved one, listened to the child with a newly broke heart) if I was a bit more gracious with myself in saying "no" to what the world seems to demand.

I wonder if I could fill the role of just being a homemaker.

Image: Elizabeth Lies via Unsplash

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Local Love // The Little Craft Show Spring 2015

by Paige Ray in

Community is an overused word. In a time where every newest tech platform promises to connect their user to a group of like-minded individuals, we are all bombarded with trying to figure out how to truly connect. And despite the prevalence of "community",  true connection is a reality that, still proves to be elusive. 

So when I was able to go to The Little Craft Show last month I was excited about the opportunity for genuine community. TLCS gave me the chance to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen since I had gone into my pregnancy hibernation as well as meet makers that I had only had known via my Instagram feed. 


And I needed that.  

I needed the reminder that there is a whole army of people out there who love and support me. 

Selfish? No. Because self-preservation via encouragement is a good thing.  

Add to that goodness: the event was held in an area that hadn't experienced commerce and community at that scale in years. Because of that the experience was infused with a level of hope and happiness that went so far beyond that of a simple craft fair. 

There have been murmurings lately within our family of a possible move. And because of that I've been thinking of community a lot lately: the finding, the making, the upkeep.   

More than anything, it's made me grateful for the community I currently have. And it's reminded me to be more intentional about enjoying the experiences and support that it offers. 

For more information on The Little Craft craft show visit their site at thelittlecraftshow.com and click the individual images to be taken to the shops of the vendors above.

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