Saturday, November 15, 2014

Challenge

I'm not dead.  I've just been slacking big time.

Here's a good quote from the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer:

"A challenge in which a successful outcome is assured isn't a challenge at all."

That's all I've got for tonight, but at least it's something!  I'm rededicating myself to blogging...soon.  I'll be back...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Yielding

I was thinking about this essay today.  It's something I read years back in a book called This I Believe II (the first book, This I Believe, is also really awesome).  

I believe in using the turbulence in my life. I learned this studying fish.
My mother and father emigrated from Taiwan to New York City to raise a family. They bussed tables at a Chinese restaurant and worked double shifts for years. On Sundays, my father and I would go out with our fishing rods. I was two years old when I caught my first fish in Prospect Park with my dad. No water was off limits: golf ponds, marble quarries, private estates. We packed a lunch and we took off. Sometimes we got in trouble, and laughed about it later when we told the stories. Our best times together were spent trying to catch a fish.
But there was another side to my father. He had a temper, and sometimes he got angry and would hit me. In those moments of uncontrolled rage he could only see things his way; he would never let me win an argument. I was held under his will, unable to break out. When I challenged him, he struck me in the face. It didn’t break me, but it left me petrified, powerless, and resentful. Just the same, come Sunday, regardless of what happened that week, we would fish together.
Years later, I followed my interest in fish to graduate school in biology. I was always a good student, but was often wracked with insecurity. I didn’t have much confidence. I felt it was beaten out of me. I tried to find my direction but just ended up spinning around and dissipating my energy. Then one night something wonderful happened. I was researching how fish swim in turbulent flow and discovered that they could surf on swirling eddies without using much muscle. What I suddenly realized was that obstacles could actually help you struggle less. That was what I’d needed to know for a long time.
I dove into my experiments and published them quickly, culminating in an article that made the cover of Science magazine, and I received my Ph.D. from Harvard in 2004. My parents took a rare day off from the restaurant and were by my side holding my hand when I stood to receive my diploma on a cloudy afternoon in June.
I believe I can get around the obstacles in my life not by fighting them, but by yielding to them and pushing off from them. It is what Taoists call Wu Wei, literally to go with the flow. Now I could take the energy of my father’s violence and move through it, to surge past that turbulence. I could let my father be himself without giving up on myself. This is different from forgiveness. It’s the way I choose to define the events in my life — by my response to them.
There are natural streamlines in our lives. I find by letting go I can harness the complex currents of my life to propel me forward. It was the fish my dad introduced me to that finally taught me this.

What should I do with the obstacles in my life?  Fight them?  Give in to them?  Distract myself?  Lose faith?  Self medicate in one way or another?  Numb myself and try not to feel?  
While I love the message in this essay by Jimmy Liao, I don't relate to the abusive father he grew up with.  I was fortunate enough to be raised by a very patient and compassionate dad.  However, I can still relate to him.  Probably anyone could.  Sometimes I feel like LIFE can be abusive.  I'm not exactly sure what it means to yield to obstacles or let go, but I love the thought and I'd like to try it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cloud Cult

I've been in such a rut with my blog.  And in my life.

After I started writing and found that it was therapeutic for me, I couldn't stop.  Some weeks I was posting 3 times.  I had so much to say and I was elated to have an outlet.  I realized that I have a continual stream of thoughts in my head.  In fact, blogging has revealed to me just how much I live inside my head.  I feel things deeply.  I analyze stuff I'm not sure most other people have ever considered.  I ask questions maybe I shouldn't ask.  I doubt things that have been an integral part of who I am since I can remember.  So blogging was awesome at first.  It was a healthy channel for at least SOME of what swims around in my head.

But I have felt afraid to be totally honest.  I've been scared to talk about who I really am and what I truly think.  I wonder...who is reading this?  What will they think of me?  What do THEY want to hear?  Am I boring everyone who started reading?  Is this another failure of mine?  Does it even matter if people are reading this or what they think of me?  Who is this FOR anyway?

I went to a concert with my husband a few days ago.  The band is called Cloud Cult.  I was moved.  I realize how extremely trite this will sound, but that concert changed me.  Or at least it has given me a renewed desire to share what is in my heart.  Who I am.  What I think about.  How I deal with my struggles and joys.  The lead singer/songwriter of this band has a way with words that gets straight to the raw emotions I have felt as a human being trying to survive just the day to day living of life.  I've always enjoyed his songs and lyrics, but being in the small venue where they played, 15 feet away from him and his guitar, watching his face, feeling the words...I sound crazy, I know, but it moved me.  I cried.  I feel like a crazy person.  It's because he was staying stuff like this:

If you pray to God for rain, 
don't you complain about the lightning. 
If you're asking for directions, 
don't you moan about the distance. 
Must you lose it, lose it all? 
To find your appreciation. 

If you rid of all your baggage you will likely float away. 
But you can't know beauty if you don't know pain 
Gotta feel it, feel it all. 
There's your medication 

You know you are as small as the things you let annoy you. 
And you know you are gigantic as the things that you adore. 
Some days you give thanks. 
Some days you give the finger. 
It's a complicated creation. 

And this:

You don't hear your intuition, cuz it says you ain't no follower. 
And it says you ain't no yellow belly. 
And it says you ain't no broken horse. 
And it says you are here to take the punches, in one by one. 
You're here to learn your lessons one by one. 
You're here to peel your layers off one by one 
by one by one by one by one. 

You don't hear your intuition, cuz it says you were blessed with sensitivity. 
But it says you can't fly with such a heavy heart. 
So it says you gotta do what must be done, so learn to do it with some levity, levity. 

You are here to let the cards fall one by one. 
You're here to let your walls down one by one. 
You're here to peel the layers off one by one by one by one by one by one. 

If you keep trying to fill your holes with the next best thing 
well, then the next best thing will give you more and more holes.

And this:

Life is a playground, but it takes a lot work. 
You better learn to love, or it'll tear you apart, 
cuz in the end, we are measured by the size of our heart, 
and we can't do this alone. 

Some of us are laughing, while some of us are choking 
Some of us can't change til every bone has been broken. 
All the while the maker just sits there joking, "You never really were alone." 

All I need is a good good friend 
To get me through this. 
All I need is a good good friend 
To help me out 
When I'm burning down 
When I'm all stressed out 
Thank you for being around.

And this:

It takes a lot of going nowhere, until you find it's not about the place. 
It takes a lot of being no one, until you find it's not about the face. 

It takes a lot of birth and death, until you ask who's really in control. 
It takes a lot of love and pain, until you learn the art of letting go. 
Let go go go go. 

It takes a lot of hurtful thoughts, until you tame the jerk inside your head. 
It takes a lot of feeling lost, until you find you're always where you're led. 

It takes a lot of broken heart to wonder why we get what we've got. 
But we get what we've got and when it comes to Heart, my friend, you've got a lot.

There are moments and events and people we (or at least I) encounter that make us rethink how we are living and how we want to be remembered and what is important.  This concert was one of those events for me.  It was good for my heart.  I have found myself listening to his words over and over again and thinking I want to be myself.  I want people to feel comfortable around me...like they can be themselves because I am comfortable in my skin and that's contagious.  I want to take moments with my son to watch him grow and discover and live.  I want to be present and open.  I want to have faith in things I don't understand, but hope for.  I want to be a hopeful, joyful person.  I want to contribute something to this life.

This feels like a huge emotional barf.  I don't know where exactly I'm going with it or what it might mean to anyone else, but it's been inside about to explode, and this is as good an outlet as I have.  Maybe someone out there has felt the same thing and now you don't feel as alone.  Or maybe I really am just a crazy person.

p.s. if you want to be introduced to cloud cult here is their website http://www.cloudcult.com/

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another way to live with less...

I'm reading a book about meditation (I'm getting into this meditation thing...) called Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.  I read this today:

"When my friend's daughter Willa, then seven, heard about the London subway bombing in July 2005, she was deeply saddened.  Her eyes filled with tears and she said, 'Mom, we should say a prayer.'  As she and her mother held hands, Willa asked to go first.  Her mother was stunned to hear Willa begin with, 'May the bad guys remember the love in their hearts.'"

First of all, kids are always blowing my mind with the stuff they say.  Most of the time it's hilarious and unexpected, but sometimes, like with this little girl, it is so deeply inspiring.  I never once thought of the bad guys.  Much less their hearts and the love that might be buried somewhere inside.

I was recently hurt by someone I considered to be a good friend.  I felt that I reached out in a time of crisis with love and understanding.  I withheld judgement.  I opened myself up and shared stuff I don't usually share.  Then I was unexpectedly shut out and un-friended (not in the facebook sense...this was just the first phrase that came to mind - evidence that I am a product of my generation).  I've been feeling hurt and confused.  I'm having a hard time letting go.

This is most definitely a case where I need to heed my own advice that I can live with less and have more.  I can live with less emotional baggage and grudges.  I can live with less anxiety.  Less reliving of scenarios from the past.  And therefore automatically create more love, peace, compassion, and brain power to think about stuff that will actually get me somewhere.  It's so hard for me to do.

This all reminds me of something else I read a few months ago in Return From Tomorrow by George C. Ritchie.  He was quoting someone he nicknamed Wild Bill Cody - a man who was familiar with pain I have never known:

"He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and 5 children.  'I had to decide right then,' he continued, 'whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people's minds and bodies.  Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world.  I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life - whether it was a few days or many years - loving every person I came in contact with.'"

Wow.  I certainly have a REALLY long way to go.

I know I run the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant here...pledging to work toward world peace...but seriously what would the world, my neighborhood, my family be like if I was more like Willa and Wild Bill Cody?  Just something to think about tonight.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The nice thing about choosing a direction

"The nice thing about choosing a direction is that you never know what you're going to get.  You might head west in search of the mountains on the horizon but along the way find a beautiful river instead.  Or you might traverse the sand dunes only to find a village a few miles from the crater behind you.  You never what what's around the bend."

-Joshua Fields Millburn

I'm not a risk taker and I don't love surprises.  For me, the thing about choosing a direction is that I'm ALWAYS afraid, anxious, unsure, and positive I'm going to fail along the way.  I forget that I can find beauty and adventure in almost any circumstance.  That's why this quote means so much to me.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Take what is given

I've been feeling lately like I don't have anything profound to say.

I have books and books of quotes I love, inspiring thoughts I've recorded, notes from books I've read...I just don't have a really excellent way of conveying what's all jumbled in my head.  No good stories or experiences or anything to make it more real.

Well, I decided to just start sharing some of what I love, hoping the inspiration will come eventually if I just keep writing...

So, here ya go:

"Always fall in with what you're asked to accept.  Take what is given, and make it over your way.  My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever's going.  Not against: with."

-Robert Frost

I guess taken out of context this advice could be seen as spineless or something.  But the way I read it, I see great wisdom in it.  Being back at work this week has thrown me.  A new schedule and environment, coworkers, new responsibilities, comparing my weaknesses with the strengths of everyone around me, just a general sense of rustyness and being out of my element.  Not to mention the little bit of heartache I feel having my life plans altered.

Reading this quote helps me remember to go with the flow, as overused as the phrase is.  And not only just to chill out and accept things as they come, but to always remember to be myself.  The best version of myself.  Not a copy of someone I look up to.  Just plain ole me.  Good and bad.  Far too often, in situations that make me feel uncomfortable and inferior, I've defaulted to trying to become someone else.  I love the idea of "making it over my way."  Take the situation, adapt, be yourself, contribute in your own unique way.

I read in a good book once, "don't puff, don't shrink, stand on your own sacred ground".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Another link...

I read this post today and loved it.  I feel like I have just begun my journey trying to live with less, and this woman's words were a great comfort to me.  Hope you like it too :)

http://www.slowyourhome.com/simple-living-nothing/

Friday, August 15, 2014

What I already have

"Don't spoil the things you have with the things you don't."

-something I heard on a podcast by the minimalists


"If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we'd be happy with more?"

-Unknkown (but I found it on THIS blog post which was not only hilarious but so inspiring.  Thanks for sharing it with me, Krista)

I just wanted to share these two morsels today.  Mostly because I need to hear them myself.

I'm going to back to work next week. Not full time, just filling in at my old job for a couple girls while they go have babies and enjoy maternity leave.  It's the most perfect mom gig I could think of...very few hours, no need to hire child care, working nights, a bit of time to myself to rediscover who I am when not in mom mode...I'm really looking forward to it.  But the tiniest corner of my heart is hurting.  I realize how ridiculous it might sound to anyone other than me, but this wasn't in my plan.  I didn't picture working again until my youngest child was going into kindergarten.  I can't stop myself from thinking that this one child I have IS my youngest.  I never wanted a brood of kids, but I certainly never pictured having just ONE.

Once again, I think the answer to my pain is something I've written about over and over again on this blog.  And it's summed up nicely in the two quotes above.  It would be such a shame to spoil this time with my family by thoughts (obsessions) about what is lacking in my life.  I have so many beautiful things in my life.  If I'm not happy with these moments right now, I'll never be.



Monday, August 11, 2014

Presents and presence

My birthday was last week.  After reading THIS from one of my favorite blogs and THIS from the minimalist blog (and book), I decided to request something a bit different this year.

Not as much stuff.

It's not that I never want any THING ever again, I just want to place a greater focus on experiences and people and relationships.  I've found them to last much longer than THINGS anyway.  So, when asked by friends and family what I wanted this year, I tried to use some creativity.  And I feel like it paid off big.  One of the best birthdays I can remember.  And the actual gifting was pretty limited.  Heavy on the experiences, light on the stuff.

I felt (and still feel) a bit sheepish about it.  How do you tell people you don't want anything for your birthday or any other holiday?  How do you answer the question "What did you get?" without looking like a mountain dwelling hermit?  How do you explain that being with someone is better than any gift they could give?

It's a weird experience and I don't know how I'm going to approach the overwhelming materialism of Christmas this year, but this birthday has given me hope that it can be successful and that people will understand.

Read those two blog posts if you have a second.  Maybe we can start a revolution.  Less stuff.  More time with each other :)




Friday, August 1, 2014

Chickpea patties

We had this for dinner a couple weeks ago...soo delicious.  Sorry, no picture this time.

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/chickpea-and-vegetable-patties-969

I didn't put the sesame seeds in, but the end result was still so yummy.  We have been eating chickpea patties wrapped in naan or just on a sandwich of ciabatta bread then we pile on some plain yogurt, cilantro, shredded carrots, avocado (if we have it) and red onion.  Most people would like tomato too, but we are a little bit anti fresh tomato.  Weird, I know.

Make it tonight!  So easy, cheap, and yummy!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

All the money in the world

I just finished a great book by Laura Vanderkam called All the Money in the World:  What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending.  Near the end of the book, she asks this question:

"If one CAN purchase many of the good or experiences that consumer culture dictates one should want, how does one continue to find pleasure in little things?" and then on a related note, "We want things we cannot have, and once we can have them we no longer want them."

It made me think of things I have longed for and coveted and finally purchased for myself.  I've often felt let down.  I've enjoyed the new thing for a week or two and then it has just become part of the life I expect.  I forget how much I wanted and loved it.  It was almost better when I was wishing and hoping for it...imagining how much more awesome my life was going to be once I owned it.

I've started shopping differently and even noticing other people's stuff differently.  I can see something I love and NOT buy it.  I can appreciate and admire it, then walk away.  I don't have to own something to gain pleasure from it.  I look at it almost like I'm walking through an art gallery.  My husband and I have attended gallery strolls downtown in the past.  We meander through a few galleries full of art we have no intention of purchasing, and then go home feeling enriched somehow, even without forking out any money.

I've been following a blog by Courtney Carver http://bemorewithless.com/ and she recently posted a simple sentiment that expresses my feelings exactly.


Back to the book, Sonja Lyubomirsky is quoted saying, "When something is sitting on your shelf, you get used to it very fast.  It doesn't give you the same thrill anymore."  Vanderkam encourages buying experiences rather than things because we all get used to a couch or table or shirt pretty quickly, but planning for, anticipating, experiencing, and then re-living a vacation brings much more joy...and longer lasting joy.

What I loved most about this book is that the author isn't saying we should stop spending our money or give it all away or live as hermits in the desert.  She talks about making better decisions regarding the money we DO have.  Whether you are a millionaire or living in the lower middle class, you have the ability to assess what brings you the most joy and happiness and then cut out all the excess crap society says you MUST own to be happy or "normal".  "Conspicuous consumption is human nature," she says.  But we don't have to do it.

"I don't want to be the Jonses.  There's no point trying to keep up when you're thrilled with what you've got."

It's a good one.  You should read it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beets

I've had a couple people ask me for beet recipes.  Here are some of my favorite ways to eat them:

I got this one HERE


Honey Balsamic Ginger Beets

6 medium beets
2 T butter
2 T peeled and chopped (or grated) ginger
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T honey

Boil beets until tender, remove skins, and cut into cubes.  Put beets and all other ingredients in a skillet and stir until beets are hot and glazed.

I don't have exact recipes for the other two, but they're super easy.  Cook your beets (I always boil them, but I've seen recipes that tell you to roast them in the oven), stick em in a skillet and either add butter and salt OR a bit of cumin, cilantro, and lime juice.  Yum.

Monday, July 21, 2014

De-stuffing

As you know, I've been reading some books about minimalism/making do with less/finding what really brings me joy and focusing my time, money, and energy on that.

Well, it goes without saying that I've had just a tiny urge to go through all the STUFF in my house and ask a few questions of that stuff...

Do you deserve a place in my home?
What value do you add to my household?
Do you make my life easier?
Do I have a place to put you?

I got these questions from a book I just read called The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.  In her book, Jay quotes William Morris who said, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

I have a long way to go, but over the last month or so, I have taken quite a few trips to my local thrift shop with a car at least somewhat full of items I decided weren't useful or beautiful to me.  At first it was really hard.  I'm pretty sentimental, and I have a tendency to keep things just in case.  But after two or three years of thinking I'm going to wear a sweater and then not actually ever wearing it, it's time to say goodbye.

The first de-junking my husband and I attempted together was only somewhat successful, but since we started, I find something almost every day that belongs in my DI pile.  It is getting soooo much easier to let go of THINGS that I'm not using and don't value.  The freedom that comes with all this has surprised me.  Less stuff means less to clean and keep track of and take care of.  Plus, I find joy thinking that my junk is going to become someone else's treasure.  I know I've had plenty of those treasure moments at the DI....

Those questions I've been asking of my stuff also work great when I'm out shopping and find something I want to buy.  Do I really need all this stuff?  Why buy more stuff when I'm in the process of getting rid of so much right now?  And no, this doesn't mean I'm never going to buy anything ever again.  I just bought a car last week.  But I'm much more deliberate in my purchasing choices.

Here are a few more inspiring quotes from the book:

"When we're old and gray, we won't wax poetic on the things we had - but rather on what we did in the spaces between them."

"He who knows he has enough is rich."  - Loa Tzu

"So what do we have to do to become minsumers?  Not much, actually.  We don't have to protest, boycott, or block the doors to megastores; in fact, we don't even have to lift a finger, leave the house, or spend an extra moment of our precious time.  It's simply a matter of not buying.  Whenever we ignore television commercials, breeze by impulse items without a glance, borrow books from the library, mend our clothes instead of replacing them, or resist purchasing the latest electronic gadget, we're committing our own little acts of 'consumer disobedience.'  By simply not buying, we accomplish a world of good:  we avoid supporting exploitative labor practices, and we reclaim the resources of our planet - delivering them from the hands of corporations into those of our children.  It's one of the easiest and most effective ways to heal the Earth and improve the life of its inhabitants."

I'm all about making life better for this dude and his whole generation...


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Expectations

I've been thinking a LOT about expectations lately.  And for the past few years really.  I have come to the conclusion that my personal expectations are probably my greatest barrier to happiness.  I get in my head how something is supposed to go, what it's going to look like, what I'm going to look like in a certain role or situation, what life is supposed to give to me...and then I'm devastated when it doesn't work out that way.  It has happened over and over for me.  And it always feels huge and all consuming when it's happening.

While eating lunch with family a few months ago, this topic came up and my brother said something like, "You just have to learn to have low expectations!"  We all laughed...and then I went home and thought about it, because I can't ever turn my brain off.  Learning to live with low expectations just doesn't sit well with me.  So I came up with this - have high hopes and low expectations.  Yeah, that seems a bit better.  It might buffer some of those dreaded moments of disappointment.  But it's still not quite there.  I hate getting my hopes up.  And how do I manage to have low expectations and protect my heart when my hopes are high?  Isn't it just a paradox?

Ok, then another thought as I was sitting in church (bored....oops, did I just admit that?)  This came into my head - work hard and give in.  Work hard for what you want.  And know what it is you want.  Live a very deliberate life full of hard work and conscious choices.  And then, if and when things don't work out how you envisioned, just give in.  Give in to what is.  And find the beauty in it.  Find what developed because something else fell apart.

But, in a world full of "DO YOUR BEST" and "NEVER GIVE UP," I realize this might sound a bit passive or less than motivational.

Let me give a very personal example from my life.  One that is still fresh and raw, but also one that I think I'm ready to share.  Ten years ago in July (just a few days away, if my memory serves), I came home early from my LDS mission.  I was severely depressed.  What I felt it my heart while it was happening cannot be described.  I've all but erased the memories of my last few months in Argentina.  It was a very dark and desperate place.  Coming home was my worst case scenario.  And it happened.  I had envisioned the exact opposite of everything about my mission.  Everything.  My expectations were sky high.  I was going to do everything right, I was going to be successful, I was going to return with honor, and tell stories about "the best 18 months of my life" for the rest of my life.  Just like I was supposed to.

I came home cynical, wounded, angry, lonely, and full of self hatred.  Self hatred to last a lifetime.  And then some.  My life was a shame.  I was a failure.  I would never live it down.  It was the biggest blow I had ever faced.

Instead of giving in and finding the beauty, I fought it and hated myself for it...for a long time.  Then, one day after I was married, my husband said to me, "Maybe you came home for me."  That one sentence opened up a whole new mindset for me.  I looked at what I had as a result of coming home early.  And I found beauty.  Lots of it.  A kind of beauty I don't think I could have had if I'd served the perfect mission and come home the way I expected to.  My loss of perfect expectations gave me empathy and courage and perspective I'm not sure I would have had otherwise.  I feel fortunate to see it that way.  Although every time I attend a homecoming, don't look at me or talk to me....  Like I said.  It's still raw.  I still have a problem with expectations.

Michael Wilcox wrote a book called 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven.  One of the people he writes about is Sir Ernest Shackleton, who failed more than once in his many conquests as an explorer.  In one expedition, his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice pack and was crushed before he reached his destination.  Wilcox writes this:

"So often in our lives, the dreams, goals, and aspirations that mean so much to us may seem like the shattered wreckage of the Endurance...  It is easy to sit on the ice and mourn the loss, to constantly churn the 'what ifs" in our minds.  When these moments come to me, and they have, I think of those oh-so-powerful words of Sir Ernest.  We must shape ourselves to a new mark - and we must do so 'directly.'  There is not room for continuous depressing reflection on the past - what we wanted, what we lost, what we should have done better.  Too much is at stake.  Living requires our 'energies...mental power...and experience.'  We find the new mark, shape ourselves to it, and move forward."




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beautiful Heartbreak

I am not a fan of Christian pop music... BUT I love this song.  And I've been meaning to post a link to it for a while.  Listen to it - even if you have before.  The message is so beautiful.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Come alive

"Don't ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

-Howard Thurman

I know people like this...people who are ALIVE.  People who are passionate and kind and open and live a very conscious, deliberate life.  Being around them always makes me want to follow suit and live that way too.

I'm lost in my thoughts of what makes me come alive, and how to live my life differently once I figure it out...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sufficiency

This week has been wearing me down a bit.

I'm feeling really insecure about being a stay at home mom of one kid.  ONE KID!  His 3-year-old behavior (please tell me this is just a phase) reminds me of the sign I saw in my sister's house once:  "Raising kids is like being pecked to death by ducks."  I'm tired of doing mom stuff.  I feel guilty that I don't contribute to our family income at all.  It seems that I fill my days with cooking, cleaning, reminding, and disciplining.  Wouldn't a maid or a nanny be doing a better job anyway?  What is it, exactly, that I do all day?

I feel ordinary.  And small.  And...yes, a bit worthless.

I'm still reading that book by Brene Brown, and I came across this yesterday.  It felt like it was written just for me:

"Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency.  By sufficiency, I don't mean a quantity of anything...Sufficiency isn't an amount at all.  It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.  Sufficiency resides inside each of us, and we can call it forward.  It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances."

And then this:

"We seem to measure the value of people's contributions (and sometimes their entire lives) by their level of public recognition.  In other word, worth is measured by fame and fortune.  Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary, hardworking men and women.  In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless."

Then she says that while doing research for this book, she found that people who had experienced tremendous loss often held most sacred the everyday, ordinary moments in life.  As if going through the hell they'd gone through woke them up to what is truly important and miraculous about life.

I thought about swinging in the hammock with my son this afternoon, watching him eat a popsicle and listening to him sing his made-up songs about the trees and the dirt and the ants (he seriously can sing about anything these days).  And I thought about the walk I went on earlier this week, after a big rainstorm...and the mountains and sky were unbelievably gorgeous.  And my garden that's growing.  And the books that I'm reading.  And the purse my mom just helped me make.  And all the other little beautiful things in my life.

I get it.  Ordinary and quiet are ok.  I'm just going to forget it again tomorrow, ya know?  How can I remember that I'm enough?  How do YOU remember?  Really though, I'd love some comments on this.  It's a hard one for me...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Carrot Pasta With Ginger Lime Peanut Sauce

Another yummy one we tried tonight...  Seriously delicious.  Fast and easy to make.  I shredded my carrots instead of trying to make cool noodles out of them and it was still awesome.

HERE is the recipe.

Here is the picture.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Black Bean Burgers

This is what my husband wanted for his birthday dinner.  That's how much my recently converted (mostly) vegetarian husband loves these.  I do too.  Thanks to Kristine for introducing us!  And by that I mean introducing us to black bean burgers.  Not my husband and me to each other...

Black Bean Burgers

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 T ketchup
1 T mustard
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/3 C oats

Mash black beans, add other ingredients, and mix well.  Form into 4 patties.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes on each side.

I've made these with freshly minced garlic and chopped up onions instead of the powder.  They tasted a little better, but the powder cuts down on time a LOT, which is nice when I'm in a hurry.  I've also shredded carrots and thrown them in.  I've added leftover rice.  Really I think you could add almost any veggie you want.

We usually eat these on toasted bagels with sauteed mushrooms, onions, feta cheese, lettuce, dilly beans (or pickles), bbq sauce, and mayo (hummus would be yummy too).

Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The gifts of imperfection

I'm currently reading (and loving) a book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection - Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  I wanted to share a few thoughts I've enjoyed:

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:  they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want."
- Margaret Young

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
- E. E. Cummings

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."
- Ann Quindlen

"Cultivate the courage to be imperfect."
- Brene Brown

I know, most of those are people she quotes in the book, but obviously Brene Brown says some pretty amazing stuff too.  This is just a snippet of what I've liked so far.  Hope you like it too.



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Epiphany

The idea for this blog came to me while I was in the shower.  Some of my best thinking is done in the shower...where it's quiet and relaxing and mostly uninterrupted (my son still sneaks in sometimes to check up on me).  This particular moment of inspiration was just days after a miscarriage.  I was wallowing.  I was having a pity party in the shower.  I was trying to decide if it was worth it to keep going, and if it was, how was I possibly going to do it...

I need to take a class.  I need to discover a new hobby.  I need to go on a trip to Puerto Rico.  Yes, Puerto Rico.  That will fix it.  I need to learn how to not feel anything ever again.  I need to make a decision that I'm going to be ok.  That I CAN be ok with less than what I planned on.  And then I need to write it down so I can read it on days that seem impossibly hard.  I'll start a blog.  I'll start a blog!!  I bet no one will read it, but maybe it will be good for me to lay my thoughts out in front of me where I can analyze them further and try to correct some of my negativity.

A few more minutes of shower time and a few scribbles in a notebook and I came up with a sentence that describes how I will focus my thoughts from now on - I can have a richer life with less of what I thought I wanted.  I got online to figure out blogspot.  I had absolutely no clue where to start or how to make a blog look like...a blog.  You've probably noticed.  I searched for blogs about living with less and having or being more.  I liked everything I read.  And all the blogs and websites I looked over had links to other awesome blogs with even more ideas and books to read and people who are in the middle of a similar journey.

Well, the other day when I finished that book by the minimalists and then looked over the minimalist blogs I've been following since my shower epiphany in March, I realized something.  There is GOOD coming from that miscarriage.  I've learned so much.  I've changed my thinking patterns - maybe in a very small way, but I've done it.  I look forward to posting something new on my blog.  I feel happy that there are people reading my thoughts, even if the numbers are small in comparison to real blogs out there.  I have found books and quotes and people who make me feel alive and validated and....happy?  Oh man, I think it's true, despite my swearing to my husband through my sobs that I never wanted to be happy about anything ever again (I have a tendency to get a bit dramatic when things don't go my way.  And when I haven't eaten for a while).

It all made me think of this quote I love:

"I do not believe that every adversity that comes into our lives does so because it is necessary in His grand plan.  I am confident that we face many things that the Father of us all would rather we avoid.  The cruelties of men, the ravages of nature, the weaknesses of our physical bodies may bring to us burdens not in the majestic plan of a loving God.  Life brings them, life in its imperfect scope, life in a fallen world, yet a life that still contains immeasurable joys and fulfillment.  I believe that God does not burden us with many of the adversities that we face - but that does not mean that He cannot or will not turn them to our advantage."
-S. Michael Wilcox

Monday, June 2, 2014

Permission to be me

Last night I finished a book called Everything that Remains by "the minimalists" Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  I read it in 3 days.  It only took so long because I have a 3-year-old to chase around.  I loved it.


This will probably not make any sense, but reading their book was like getting permission to be the person I've always been in my heart of hearts.  See, I've always felt so insecure in my habits and opinions and interests.  I constantly apologize for the way I am, the views I hold, the simplicity I crave, the tv I don't watch, the gadgets I don't buy, the career I don't have...  I have been sure that I must be lazy or unmotivated or, well....just plain weird.  THAT'S still up for debate....

Joshua is the main author of the book and he tells the story (that is becoming more and more common, I think) of his quick rise to a six figure income, his increasing debt, his divorce, his loneliness and depression as he tries to consume his way to happiness, fight his way up the corporate ladder, and basically live the American Dream and keep up with the Joneses.  Or rather, stay one step ahead of the Joneses.  A series of events leads him to seriously analyze his life, his priorities, his direction, his lack of happiness.  He hears about a guy named Colin Wright who lives a minimalist lifestyle.  This leads him to a bunch of other minimalist websites (a few of which I have links to from this blog) and he and his friend Ryan both drastically change their lifestyles.

I'm not going to attempt explaining what their new lifestyle looks like or what the definition of minimalism is.  But you can read about it HERE.  Read it!  It will be way better than anything I can say!  The thing I love most about it is that it can be applied to anyone, anywhere, in any circumstances.  It's about getting rid of the stuff in your life that isn't working, and then focusing on your passions and filling your life with the things that truly bring you joy.  It's constantly asking yourself, "Does this thing add value to my life?"

If you're still reading this soapbox post, here are some of my favorite lines from the book:

"Minimalism has allowed me to eliminate the other distractions from my life, things that, when you step back and look at the big picture, just don't matter as much as we think they do...Relationships that I clung to without a good reason.  Bad habits. Silly activities that took my time and money and energy.  Minimalism has helped me identify those things so I can remove them from my life and focus on things I'm passionate about, things I truly care about." 
-Colin Wright

"There is more joy and fulfillment in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more." 
-Joshua Becker

"...I finally saw the light:  I was never going to feel happy or complete based on anything outside of me."

"Imagine a life with less clutter, less stuff, fewer distractions.  What would it look like?  Imagine your life with less - less stress, less debt, less discontent.  What would it feel like?  Now imagine your life with more - more time, more contribution, more elation.  Imagine better, more interesting relationships.  Imagine sharing meals and conversations and experiences and smiles with people who have similar interests and values and beliefs as you..."  (this paragraph went on forever, but you get the idea.  If you want the whole thing, let me know)
-Joshua Fields Millburn

I'm sort of preaching the gospel of minimalism now.  My parents came over on Saturday and I couldn't shut up about it...the contents of our shed strewn about the lawn surrounding us as we talked...we are doing some serious de-junking.  And it feels so good.

I'm taking baby steps.  I'm not even close to being a minimalist, but reading that book and keeping up with these blogs are changing the way I think.  And, as I said earlier, they are validating thoughts and practices I've grown up with...since my mom took me school shopping at thrift stores and made me ask myself before any purchase at the mall, "Do I HAVE TO have this?"  For years I have felt suffocated by the person I'm supposed to be.  The person the commercials and magazines and billboards tell me I have to be.  It's so refreshing to read a whole book(!) about people who are swimming against the current too.  I FEEL preachy.  Sorry.  It's just really ringing true for me.  Check it out.  I HAVE to spread the word :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

A quote for the day...

I have future blog posts swimming in my head right now, but not enough time to make one happen.  So today you just get a good quote I was thinking about as I took a walk to the park with my family on this beautiful Spring (is it still Spring?  I'm not ready for Summer...) evening:

"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature."

-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sweet potato burritoes

Yes, we've been on a sweet potato kick...

These were also awesome, except I didn't have all the ingredients for the avocado salsa verde sauce so I just  smeared a tiny bit of cream cheese on my tortilla then put the roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, avocado, rice, and salsa inside.  It was REALLY good.

http://cookieandkate.com/2012/sweet-potato-burrito-smothered-in-avocado-salsa-verde/



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sweet potato alfredo yumminess

Whoa.  This recipe blew us away.  I made this for dinner last week and I felt like I was eating at a gourmet vegan restaurant.  For real.  Give it a try.  I roasted some cauliflower in the oven (with olive oil, garlic salt, and italian seasoning) and put it on top of the pasta with this sauce.  It was delish.

http://www.loveandlemons.com/2013/12/11/sweet-potato-vegan-alfredo/


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Courage does not always roar

So today...

I stumbled out of bed with a headache to help my whining child get a sippy of milk.
My knee (which I mysteriously injured WALKING DOWN THE HALL last week) is still killing me.
I yelled at my son at least 3 or 4 times.  I'm talking, the-neighbors-might-have-heard-me kind of yell.
He consequently spent a good portion of the day in time out...like a dozen times...in timeout.
I looked at our bank account and got depressed
My lunch was whatever I could throw together in my state of food panic.  It wasn't pretty.
The kiddo refused to take a nap.  And then behaved as you would imagine for the rest of the afternoon.
My hair was in a ponytail.  Again.
I told my kid no when he asked repeatedly (and sweetly) if I would play with him.
I'm in the middle of another setback in my quest to provide a sibling for said child.
I seriously just wanted to crawl back in bed and cry.

Here's what I'm telling myself as I go to bed tonight:

"Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

-Mary Anne Radmacher

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Middle of NOWHERE

I just got back from a wonderful trip to the middle of nowhere...aka Southeastern Utah.  My husband and I stayed in a bed and breakfast that is pictured below.  It is the tiny white rectangle near the bottom on the left.  It was...oh gosh, I don't even really have a great word for it.  Simple?  Beautiful?  Serene?  Relaxing? Refreshing?  Tranquil?  All of the above.  We had such a great time getting away from traffic, job, kiddo, house work, weeding (even though we love and are a bit obsessed with the yard), worries, and the world, really.  It felt like we transported ourselves back in time.  Funny to think of it that way because we were right next to Monument Valley which could be where some of Back to the Future was filmed...


This awesomeness of a bed and breakfast is totally off the grid.  For those of you who aren't hippies and/or don't have a husband who is in the business of being green :) that means this place isn't hooked up to the electricity or gas lines in the area...it is run completely off solar and wind power (I didn't know what "off the grid" meant until my husband got into this stuff a few years ago.  Maybe you are smarter than I was).  We got the behind the scenes tour because we are nerds.  It was super cool.  The couple who owns it has lived there for 18 years.  They run their truck off used vegetable oil from the restaurant fryers in a nearby town.  And we thought WE were hippies!

Here are a few more pictures, just so you can get the idea of how beautiful and calm and relaxing it was.  Yes, I'm a little homesick for it...





You would NEVER guess it was off the grid if you weren't told beforehand (and if you ignored the huge array of solar panels in the back).  It reminded me of something I read a few months ago by Tammy Strobel - "Simplicity isn't about austerity.  It's a revolution in personal growth." 

Also, by Joan Winmill Brown, "I would sooner live in a cottage and wonder at everything than live in a castle and wonder at nothing!"

I had to look up austerity when I read that first quote.  It is defined as "extreme plainness and simplicity of style or appearance."  This place and the people who run it are evidence to me that first of all, simplicity absolutely doesn't have to equal austerity, and second, living your own authentic life is the coolest thing anyone can ever do.  I envied the satisfaction they so obviously get living this lifestyle of quiet solitude.  Living within their means, sitting on the porch watching the sunrise, mingling with guests from around the world.  So cool.  And so inspiring.

"We are happy in proportion to things we can do without."
-Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The experiences

My husband and I frequently talk about wanting to provide experiences, not just STUFF for our kiddo.  And for ourselves for that matter.  The things I treasure most from my life are family scavenger hunts around the neighborhood on our bikes, camping trips in the rain, playing battleship with my dad on a Sunday afternoon when he would have rather been napping, learning how to sew a quilt or some pajama pants with my patient mom...

We aren't rich by any means, but the money we do have will be spent making memories, not buying more tvs for our house or new clothes to match what happens to be in fashion this month.

My husband sent me this link today.  It's a bit long to read and maybe a lot extreme for anything WE could actually do, but the idea of it gave me the chills.  I loved the quote at the end - "I don't know what our children will remember decades from now: The science experiments? The dinners with grandparents? The head lice? — but I can't imagine a nicer outcome than hearing them laugh at the memories."

You should read it.

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=29866187&nid=1009&fm=home_page&s_cid=toppick4

Monday, May 12, 2014

Curried Broccoli Couscous

This is what I made for dinner tonight...it was delicious.  HERE is where I found the recipe, and here are the changes I made to it:

2 T olive oil
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
1 t curry powder
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
garlic salt
1 C couscous
2 T tomato paste
feta cheese
cashews

In a large saucepan, heat oil, add broccoli, and cook until tender-crisp.  Add curry powder, chickpeas, tomato paste, garlic salt, and about 1/4 C water.  Cook on medium-low.  In a separate saucepan, bring 1 C water to boil, remove from heat and add 1 C couscous.  Cover for 5 minutes then add to broccoli mixture.  Add feta and cashews right before serving.  YUM.



Friday, May 9, 2014

Mothering {not just being a mom}

"The love of a true mother comes nearer to being like the love of God than any other kind of love."

- Joseph F. Smith

Is it too cliche to post something about mothers this weekend?  I hope not.  I am a believer that motherhood is serious stuff.  I owe pretty much all I am to my dear mother.  Her unselfishness, service, sacrifice, support, and love cannot be overstated. She is still one of the first people I call to cry to and laugh with.


And becoming a mother has changed, sometimes rocked, my world.  It has been so incredibly hard for me.  I don't think I've ever been the girl who yearned to take care of little babies and sacrifice all I am for another human being.  I have found that I am actually pretty selfish.  There have been soooo many days I've cried, screamed, put myself in timeout, and just flat out dreaded getting out of bed in the morning.

But then there have been these other beautiful moments of discovery and growth that I know I never could have had without this little person.  I find myself watching my son's eyes and facial expressions whenever he experiences something new.  I'd rather watch him than whatever it is he's so intrigued with.  Becoming a mother has made me a better person.


And then, I have dear friends who want to be mothers and aren't.  At times I envy their freedom.  Mostly my heart hurts with them.  There is something about becoming a mother that is so raw and difficult and consuming and rewarding...like nothing else I have ever experienced.  I want them to know it too.

A few years ago I was asked to speak in church on mothers day or about mothers or something.  I read this section out of the book Expecting Adam:

"The word mother is more powerful when it is used as verb than as a noun.  Mothering has little to do with biological reproduction - as another friend once told me, there are women who bear and raise children without ever mothering them, and there are people...who mother all their lives without ever giving birth... While mothers are often in short supply, mothering is not.  Against all odds, despite everything that works against it on this unpleasant, uncomfortable planet, mothering is here in abundance."

I know there is no way that can take the sting out of this weekend for anyone who longs to be a mother, but isn't it beautiful?  And true?

I watched this video yesterday and then I cried and cried.  I cried for the realization of how much my mother has given to me.  And I cried because I know I would do anything to be a good mother to my own child.  And then I cried some more because I should be about 20 weeks pregnant right now.  You have to watch it.



"One form of heroism - the most common, and yet sometimes the least remembered, is the heroism of the average mother.  Ah!  When I think of that broad fact, I gather hope again for humanity; this dark world looks bright - this world looks wholesome to me once more - because whatever else it is lacking, it is at least full of mothers.  Mother is the title of woman's supreme dignity."

- Kingsley




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A body without a soul


"A home without books is like a body without a soul."  
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

I LOVE books.  Sometimes I go to thrift stores and wander through the shelves and shelves for way longer than I should, looking for a good read.  For a cheap date, my husband and I will go to Barnes and Noble, pick out some interesting looking books, get a yummy treat from the Starbucks inside, and sit, and read...and read...and tell each other about the awesome things we're reading.

Books are wisdom.  They are thoughts and experiences, stories and perspectives I've never considered before.  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I even like the smell of a book store.  I'm a book nerd.

I have a list of books that I love (surprise...another list!)  Some I love purely because they entertained me.  Most I love because they inspired me or changed my view of the world or made me rethink how I'm living my life.  Here is my list in part...

My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen
The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens
Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Scarlet Pimpernell by Emma Orczy
10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven by Michael Wilcox
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Siddartha by Hermann Hess
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This I Believe and This I Believe II
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (lots of swearing, fyi)
Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Breaking Night by Liz Murray
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
These is My Words by Nancy Turner
Weakness is Not Sin by Wendy Ulrich
You CAN Buy Happiness by Courtney Carver
Eve and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverly Campbell
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Whoa, sorry that's kind of a LOT.  There's more too.  I just didn't list them all...

So, beyond my mom, sisters, and few close friends, I don't know who is reading this blog.  But if you are, and you love books, and you want to recommend some of your favorites, I am ALWAYS looking for a good book.   Please leave a comment!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cauliflower crust pizza

Another adventure in food.  I got this recipe from HERE but I changed it a bit.  I didn't steam my cauliflower like she says to.  I just stuck it in the food processor and mixed the other ingredients in.  And mine didn't end up looking as awesome as hers...it fell apart when we were eating it, but it was still delicious.  We topped it with mushrooms, red onions, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, and sun dried tomato.

p.s. there is a dairy free version at the bottom of her page

Try it!!!  I know it looks crazy and weird but it's yummy!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Rich

Last night I went for a walk with two of my dearest friends.  The path we were on was so beautiful, the temperature was PERFECT, and the company was refreshing after a long day of being mom.

We were winding through the backyards of a rich neighborhood full of BIG houses and immaculate yards.  After the walk, we drove around the neighborhood gawking at some of the huge houses.  I found myself wishing I had the money they had.  "What do these people do for a living?!"  I wondered aloud.

I tried to remind myself that less is more.  That I write this blog.  That I prefer minimalism over gluttony and consumerism.  But something has been eating at me for the last 24 hours since I got home from that walk.  I don't like it.  I don't want to focus on what I don't have, how much money I wish we made, how awesome the summer vacations of these people must be.  I REALLY want to be happy with what I have.



And so, the quote that's been floating around in my head...

"Who is rich?  He who rejoices in his portion."  - The Talmud




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best salad I've ever had

This recipe is from an awesome cookbook my friend gave to me...The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen

Is it legal to blog about it???  Someone tell me if it's not and I'll take it off right away.  I'm shortening the directions a bit too...

Broccoli, Apples, and Red Onion in Honey Mustard Marinade (longest title ever)

1 large bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 T cider vinegar
2 T dijon mustard
1/2 t minced garlic
1/4 t salt
2 t honey
5 T olive oil (I usually only do about 2 of 3 T)
3/4 C thinly sliced red onion
1 medium apple, thinly sliced

Steam the broccoli until it is bright green and tender crisp.  Put the red onions on top of the broccoli so the steam can soften them for the last minute or so.  Mix vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, honey, and olive oil in a medium sized bowl.  Add broccoli, onion, and apple and mix well with the dressing.

Oh man.  You're gonna love it, I promise.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Gratitude

A few weeks ago, I heard a talk that I loved.  It was about being grateful.  I don't know if it's a consequence of hearing and thinking about this talk or just random timing, but I have been feeling extremely grateful the last little while.  

This is weird, really.  I've always had a hard time being grateful.  I've had countless lessons on having an "attitude of gratitude".  I've tried the gratitude journal thing.  I've been told to count my blessings.  And I've always found a way to continue comparing my life to some elusive standard I see plastered all over the billboards, commercials, magazines, and ads thrown at me everyday.

The fact is that I haven't always been as grateful as I could be.  There have been moments.  Like when I got back from my humanitarian trip to Peru.  My husband and I walked into our small condo and almost kissed our microwave, clean toilet, and fridge.  I felt grateful for a few weeks...and then my thoughts slipped back to what I don't have, what I want, how much money we don't have, let's go shopping aimlessly again...



And right now my life isn't really going like I planned.  See my How this started post.  It's been over a year now since I found out I was pregnant with conjoined twins.  And then the miscarriage.  And the other miscarriage.  Yet, my heart is FULL of gratitude recently.  It's usually for somewhat silly and ordinary stuff.  Walking through the grocery store and picking out fruit and veggies that are fresh and delicious.  Glancing at the mountains on my drive home.  Cooking with spices that come from the other side of the world...isn't that crazy if you sit and think about it?  Spending some serious quality time with my 3-year-old without the distraction of another baby, or morning sickness for that matter.  A small and comfortable house to sleep in while listening to the pounding rain outside.  Am I getting too sappy?

Well, if I am, then read some of this.  These are some of my favorite lines from Dieter Uchtdorf.  HERE is the link to the whole talk if you want to read it.


But some might say, “What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?”
Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.
In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless13 and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.