Rocco Royal, Age 6


A birthday tribute to my youngest and on what he is teaching me.


I think about that May day you were born. I went to a reflexology appointment and within hours had to head to the hospital. You came quick, but what you’ve taught me is to slow down. With each year, as you grow in height and smarts, I grow a little less accustomed to moving fast and obsessing over getting everything right. I wish I would have had this down the day you were born. The day, fourteen years ago, when your sister was born. But it wasn’t so. What is so is that as you grow each day, so do I. I grow to love you more. I care less about getting it right and more about loving you and our family right. You’ve taught me so much about love. About stopping to hug. About stopping to kiss. About stopping to say “I’m sorry,” and quickly forgetting all about it. I’ve tried to teach, these past two years, you about being the Beloved and it is you who have taught me. When I ask you each night, “Who are you?” and you say back, “Beloved!” Your eyes so blue and full of unconditional love locked on my heavy browns are like a little reflective pool of the unconditional love of the Father who each day, calls me Beloved, too.


You are sunshine. You are laughter. You are cool. Like, one cool kid for real. You are extremely expressive and your face always tells a story that I want to read and capture and keep in my heart for always. You are kind and friendly and funny. You are so funny, Rocco.


I’m sure each year your birthday post may sound somewhat redundant: “How is that you are six?” “Can you please stay five?” These questions will follow around the youngest and the oldest forever and always, I’m sure. I still get that even as a grown girl–a grown girl who is the oldest. I don’t like to think of you as “no longer being five” or as “the last six-year-old” I will have. Rather, I like to think of it as a year to experience “six” with eyes wide open, fully aware of the magic and the possibility that I sometimes skipped past, just juggled, or barrelled through with your brothers and sister. I won’t be perfect. I won’t notice everything. But I will do my darndest to be present. To look into your bright blue eyes, the right one that squints ever so slightly more than the left when you smile with your entire perfect little mouth.

Six is going to be a great year. I feel it. We are going to make lots of memories and laugh more than we ever have, dear boy.

+You still, every so often, mix up your pronouns and I’m still very ok with that. “No my don’t!”
+For breakfast you like to mix two kinds of cereal. Say, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Mini Wheats. Whatever suits your fancy.
+You still are very decisive about fashion. No fat jeans (meaning you will not wear any jeans unless they are skinny jeans). You also only ever want to wear jeans–even to the trampoline park or when it’s 90 degrees out.
+Your favorite food is pizza.
+You have are enthusiastic about collecting Pokémon cards.
+At dinner you have changed up “Best Part, Worst Part” for let’s go around and say something nice about each other.
+You like the cat better than the dog. You ask me almost every day if I like the cat or the dog better. And then say, “I love Theo the most because he is so soft.”
+When you eat dinner, you sit halfway off your chair–one leg standing on the ground.
+You are still a little artist who loves to color. Each week after church you make us pick Liam up from his class first so you can get a coloring sheet from his class to take home.
+”Do not be misled…Boom Boom Boom. Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” You love memorizing scripture.
+You loved swimming in the ocean for the first time, this year. I can’t wait to see you swim in the sea again.
+You love the minions and they kind of remind me of you.
+You have learned to read without a hitch.

Every morning when I  drop you off at school, you say, “One more kiss mom. One more kiss.”  Always, Rocco. Always.


The Most Important Thing You’ll Do Today

The Most Important Thing You Could Do Today


I don’t want to be bossy or anything, but here is the most important thing to do today . . .

The Most Important Thing You Could Do Today


I don’t want to be bossy or anything, but here is the most important thing to do today . . .

It’s Thursday, which I’ve always called “Blursday.” Because I always feel a little blurry and a lot tired on the fifth day of the week. Only this Thursday I’m feeling pretty energized. I got up at six and did a Barre workout. Showered. Guzzled a green juice. Got four kids off to school. It sounds kind of braggadocios. I mean, if I had read this on someone else’s blog back last Thursday I may have rolled my eyes and thought, “Well good for you.” Days, weeks, and feelings can be schizophrenic like that.

What’s going on here is that I’m may just be judging my days based upon what I accomplish. How many to-do’s I can check off my list. What I have to show at the end of the day. If I felt the buzz of being alive and doing what needs doing, versus struggling at the start to get my head off the pillow and to sort out what actually is priority for the day.

And maybe that’s where I get it wrong almost every Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. What I think is priority isn’t always the real priority. The real priority is love. And, love can’t always be measured and it can never be checked off a list.

My friend Promise tweeted the other day,

“Love people well today, it’s the most important thing you’ll do all day.”

It’s the most important thing you’ll do ALL day. It’s THE most important thing you’ll do all day. Those words keep trailing behind me. Maybe because I don’t quite believe them. Of course I believe in theory, but my actions don’t line up. My actions say, “What I do for you is this most important thing today,” and “What I accomplish makes me feel accomplished.”

Ouch. Maybe this isn’t just a Thursday or a Blursday but a Love day. A day to not just let those words trail behind but to get up in front. To pave the way. To make the path.

“Love people well TODAY, it’s the most important thing you’ll do ALL day.”

My kid’s won’t remember if all the laundry got done today (trust me, it won’t) or whether or not I forgot to sign their permission slip (well maybe they will because kids always remember when you forget). They won’t feel like they were missing something in life because I made tacos instead of Spaghetti. What they will remember about this day, and that day, and the other day that make up their childhood is . . . if they felt loved every day.

This is before me. This is my list. This is my every day “to do.”

(apologies that this post is late in the day, but I’ve been working on my “to do”)


image / Karolina Grabowska


Insecurity At Any Age

Insecurity at Any Age

At fourteen and fifteen, when you are most likely to feel insecure I didn’t. Sure I had days where I was not sure and felt small. I had my moments where you could not convince me that the world was not against me. But in general, I was pretty secure. Even at an ornery thirteen.

Today at thirty-eight when I feel I should be so sure, I’m finding myself feeling overly insecure. That’s a hard thing to type, to share, to publish. Even harder to accept.

But maybe you feel this way too?

Insecurity at Any Age

At fourteen and fifteen, when you are most likely to feel insecure I didn’t. Sure I had days where I was not sure and felt small. I had my moments where you could not convince me that the world was not against me. But in general, I was pretty secure. Even at an ornery thirteen.

Today at thirty-eight when I feel I should be so sure, I’m finding myself feeling overly insecure. That’s a hard thing to type, to share, to publish. Even harder to accept.

But maybe you feel this way too?

There can be insecurity at any age.

Last week I wanted something new to wear. The something turned out to be shoes. Gorgeous nude colored leather mules with a just-right-height. I wanted a little more confidence. To feel a little more sure. I wanted to walk a little taller. And well, if the shoe fits wear it. I debated whether I should order, mostly because they were pretty pricey. But I had made a little extra money on a job and convinced myself that I deserved them. With buyers remorse, I was hoping they didn’t fit. That I might hate them.

Between the two afternoons of ordering and overnight shipping, I heard a whisper, “Return the shoes.” It was that loud kind of whisper that you try to convince yourself is just yourself. Your inner chatter that never shuts up. But it was more than that.

The shoes came the next day as promised by Nordstrom. I unpacked them, just to confirm that they didn’t fit and that I didn’t like them, anyways. But … I loved them (and I don’t often love shoes).  They fit like a glove and felt like butter. They looked so pretty. I, even, found I could justify the price because the quality was so good and I knew I would wear them every day. We’d be a real pair. But I couldn’t quiet the whisper. So after trying them on with a few outfits, because maybe then I might not like them (nope- only loved them more), I packed them up and shipped them back to Nordstrom.

It turns out, it wasn’t the price I wanted to pay to feel better about myself. And the whisper is not something I want to quiet. As much as I want to be more sure of myself, I want, even more, to be sure of the whisper that knows the way; that is The Way.

I know, of course, that while the shoes would have made me feel good for short time there is no “thing” that can make a person feel secure, in the long run.

So I’m doing some soul work this week, because of a pair of shoes.

Why am I feeling so insecure?

Why did I used to feel secure?

These past five years I’ve had to deal with situations that are out of my control, but deeply affect me. It kind of opened up pandora’s box in my life. It’s as if a mirror is always before me, and A Light shining on places I didn’t even know were dark. My world shifted and so did my soul. It was my choice to turn from the mirror, to run from The Light, or to embrace them and to let them reveal what is in me.  The good. The bad. The truth and the lies that I chose to believe somewhere along the way.

It’s interesting because I look back and wonder how I made it through my teenage years, the ones that scarred some for a lifetime, pretty unscathed and feeling secure. In letting The Light shine in my past, I’m certain it was because I felt a strong sense of belonging. I had two places I called home, my actual home and my church. I belonged and I had people I felt I belonged to.

I just read this very interesting study on girls and self-esteem by the Dove and it found that:

• 67% of girls ages 13 – 17 turn to their mother as a resource when feeling badly about themselves compared to 91% of girls ages 8 – 12

• Only 27% of girls ages 13 – 17 will turn to their father for help when feeling badly about themselves compared to the 54% of girls ages 8-12. (At 16, girls become more likely to seek support from male peers than from their own dads)

While my relationships were far from perfect and rocky during my thirteen – seventeen I still knew I had a place and I had people that had my back.  At home.  At church.

What I’m finding now is that the need for a place, people, and belonging never goes away. We need it just as much at thirteen as we do at thirty-eight. Only now the mirror and the light and the whisper and The Way have revealed that no people or place can fill the deepest part of our belonging beating hearts.  When we feel unsure of our place (literally and theoretically) we feel insecure.

I feel insecure when I take a risk and put myself out there.

I feel insecure when I’m unsure if someone has my back.

I feel insecure when life is uncertain.

I feel insecure when I compare myself to others.

I feel insecure when I don’t feel noticed.

I feel insecure when I haven’t reached the said, and even un-said goals, I’ve made for myself.

I feel insecure when I believe that I should be doing more.

I feel secure when I believe I am not good enough.  Not good “enough” as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and in the work that I do.

If the shoe fits wear it. But this insecurity shoe doesn’t fit. It’s ill-fitting for me and for you. We were not meant to wear this pair.

So we return them.

We listen to the whisper that is The Way that tells us our belonging is found in being loved by a Heavenly Father who wants us, at every age, to turn to him when we are feeling badly about ourselves.

A Father  . . .

who encourages us to take risks

who has our back

who is certain about our future

who never compares us with another but is pleased with our uniqueness

who notices us in such detail that He keeps track of how many hairs we have on our head

who has plans and direction for our lives

who is more interested in what we He did for us than what we do for Him

who is enough

Listen to the whisper that is the Way and trade any lies you’ve picked up along the way from thirteen to thirty-eight to sixty-two and trade it for the truth.

I’m walking a little taller this week, without the just-right-height shoes.

I hope these words shine The Light in some dark places and help you to walk a little taller this week, too.


Fave Friday

Fave Friday cat

52 List Project

52 List Project

A few fave things /

1 / Theo the  cat.   Theo gave us a real scare and went missing on Sunday.   Or, I should say, never came back on Sunday.  If he gets out he loves to stay out all night and then always returns between 5-7am.  He didn’t on Sunday.  I was so worried about him and couldn’t bare the thought of him not coming home.  He was a gift a few years back at Valentines day and honestly the sweetest gift I’ve ever received.  He came with the name Theo, which means, Gift of God and I decided to keep it because that is just what he was.  Tuesday, I decided to go over to animal services (the pound) and see if he might be there and he was.  Apparently, he got picked up on Saturday morning only 2 streets over (maybe someone doesn’t like cats?).  I was so relieved.  He is home where he belongs and I’m trying to keep in as long as I can.

2 / The 52 List Project.  This weekly listing journal, by Moorea Seal, is so cool.  I’m a huge fan of journaling as I’ve been taking paper to pen since elementary school and I’m excited to add this to my ritual.  The journal is absolutely gorgeous (pretty photos and illustrations).  It’s divided into seasons and then weeks.  Each week you are asked to list something.  For instance, “List all of the people who brighten your day.”  And, at the bottom of the page there is a “take action” suggestion.  Since I’m all about journaling, listing and visual inspiration, I’m all about this project.  I can’t wait to get started!  This would make a super sweet Christmas gift.  The journal starts in the winter season, so it’s perfect.  I just might be ordering a few to give myself (order here).

I guess my other fave this week is Christmas.  I won’t get into it since my other posts this week were all about that (if the holidays are more hard than happy read this and if you like simple DIYs for holiday decorating read this).

Well, I’m putting Christmas on hold for today as I’m off to do some Thanksgiving shopping for thirteen out of town guests that arriving on Monday.

Happy weekend, lovelies!



happy spots

happy spot



a few happy spots i’m loving on this thursday.  thursdays are always my most tired day.  what about you?  naturally, i’m dreaming of a space to cozy up in with a book or a movie or just the cat.

01 / this small melbourne apartment, seen on the design files, has me swooning.  especially the daybed with the beautiful artwork above and the great light fixture.  rainy day heaven!

02 / sfgirl by bay’s little closet like nook.  nooks make great happy spots + when you can mix functionality (storing clothing) with a little relaxation (bench to sit upon whilst you take off your fabulous sparkly heels) well, that just can’t be beat.

03 / it doesn’t take much to make a loungy happy spot.  a few sanded down pallets, a mattress from ikea, and some great textiles and you are set.  wouldn’t this particular spot be great for people watching?  i’d love to watch all the life living below.

have you seen any fabulous nooks or happy spots lately? 

more happy spots here.

images : the design files / sf girl by bay / looks like white

Trina McNeilly

Trina McNeilly is a writer and founder of La La Lovely, where she has been blogging for nearly a decade. With an eye for beauty, Trina finds inspiration in styled spaces, other times in the broken places and everywhere in between. Through soulful writing in the voice of a trusted friend she shares her finds and all about being found.


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