Thursday, February 28, 2013

Forty-four tiny moments speckled with light

This year, I took the dare--The Joy Dare.  I'm (attempting to) record three gifts each day, to accumulate one thousand gifts during the year 2013.  It's a lovely challenge that encourages being present and aware of the little things--the little blessings that God has placed before us, in ordinary moments to enjoy.  "Life is not an emergency," says Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts."  And I know better than to live in a constant state of fret.  There is too much goodness and graciousness to let slip by without thankfulness.

A month ago, I organized a small book study of "One Thousand Gifts."  Tonight was our first meeting, and it was amazing to hear each woman be moved by the disciplined, thankful mind-set that is eucharisteo--the practicing of regular thanks for the graciousness that God gives us.

I haven't come across a book that speaks to the aching, yearning, universal heart like this book has.  And there isn't a page that goes by that doesn't deserve an underlining or two.

"I pay tribute to God by paying attention."

More gifts...

76.  The imagination of my four and a half year old
77.  Opening the door to a warm February day
78.  The boy saying, "no bad words in this family," to even the slightest slip-up
79.   Running on country roads
80.  The boy bringing me a found, plastic, pink heart from outside
81.  Cleaning to worship music
82.  Days when the noise of the TV is minimal
83.  When sick babies fall asleep soundly
84.  Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almond Bark
85.  Checking on the kiddos before going to bed and finding my girl fast asleep with her eye mask on
86.  Fresh roses in a vase
87.  Top knots and makeup-free days
88.  Small breaks when both kiddos are in school
89.  Fresh, clean sheets
90.  The scent of lavender
91.  Asher saying, "Mom do you want to snuggle?" And then snuggling in for a nap.
92.  Twinkling white lights
93.  Rainbows on back country roads
94.  Reading and eating chocolate in bed
95.  Listening to the girl read to her brother
96.  Nice, natural nails--long enough to paint pretty!
97.  Encouraging words from a teammate--You are strong and you are a moment when I felt defeated.  How freely we can give our words, and how much they mean to the receiver when given freely.
98.  Bringing friends/family with me to check out the Crossfit gym and having them excited to join
99.  Feeding hungry bellies and leaving them satisfied
100.  The fact that I will write 900 more gifts by the end of this year
101.  De-cluttering spaces
102.  Quiet moments in the coffee shop with my book, journal and pen
103.  Tears that explain so much
104.  My dog returning home on his own accord--not by way of the neighbor's vehicle.  I must insert that the last time he was returned, there were at least two other dogs in the neighbor's vehicle that weren't the neighbor's.  He was just out doing a round of doggie drop-offs.
105.  Friendly neighbors who return your mutt after swaying your dog with dog bones
106.  My girl licking her finger to better turn her book page
107.   Puppy dog stares
108.  Songs and hands glorifying God
109.  Words from Asher: "Mom, thanks for the super boost!"
110.  Listening to my girl singing in the shower
111.  Tree branch-lined skies
112.  Hot chocolate cake with cold vanilla ice cream
113.  When Husband returns home from a long day's work
114.  Spontaneous walks in fresh air
115.  Books that can be read and re-read over and over
116.  Writing in books, and picking up old books and reading the underlined parts
117.  Finding eucharisteo in the tiny moments, speckled with light
118.  The rush of laughter and smiles that soaring swings bring
119.  Pouring over inspired words with inspired women

May you see the gifts in each day--

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday Mentions: bits and curiosities from around the web

Friends!  It's late, but I've gathered a few bits of lovely from around the web to share with you this fine Monday--

I think paper crafting is finding its way back into my heart.  Have you seen these genius books to store all of your vacation memorabilia, love notes, photos and more?  Awesome.  I've got a couple of drawers of treasures that need to make their way into a book.  The short video will make you want to SMASH something together quick!

Are you on Instagram?  Me too!  During my bed time perusing sessions, I've been finding all sorts of creative, swell ladies.  I'm loving keeping up with this American Idol alumna, this mama, and this Northwest fashionista.  Their blogs are great, too!

30+ of the most beautiful, abandoned places in the world.  A stunning compilation.  

I've been reading this blogger's stories for nearly as long as I've been part of blogosphere.  Here, she makes a good case for what blogging has become over the years, and gives me hope that there are still true story tellers out there--for compensation or not.

1000 awesome things#852 The smell of the coffee isle in the grocery store and #863 The perfect egg crack are two things that can make this girl happy.  It's the little things for sure!

Hope you're off to a great week!

Monday, February 18, 2013

That moment when choosing a sucker flavor is the moment you redefine your life.

Give YOURSELF choices.  When I was eighteen, fresh off the stage of high school graduation, my parents bought me a one-way ticket to another state to begin college.  They'd given me the ultimate ultimatum: attend a religious school, or we aren't paying.  After a tumultuous year of arguments over a long-term non-religious boyfriend, non-religious friends, and my lack of church attendance, instead of continuing down the path of blazing my own trail, I bit the bait.  Education was a must and doing it debt-free made total sense.  So I boarded the plane--with clipped wings, pieces of me in bags, and my heart still desperately tied to home.

When I arrived, I met the mountains with anger.  I was a mess of tears, yet slowly, I was able to adjust my life to my new set of circumstances.  I started college, got a retail job, started meeting people, broke it off with the boy at home and fell hard for a boy my parents would have liked.  Meanwhile, the depression that I'd been carrying for over a year, was growing heavier and heavier.

Listen to YOUR quiet wants and needs.  One Spring afternoon at the craft store, on my way through the checkout line, I laid eyes on a display case full of homemade suckers in twenty or so different colors and flavors.  I glanced over them for a minute and then two, considering which one I would buy (one should have been my first red flag).  Cherry Vanilla?  Mmmm...maybe Raspberry Cream?  Nah, maybe I'll go with the Caramel Apple...wait, the Strawberry Swirl is so pretty.  But when it came my turn to checkout, I fumbled forward, still undecided.  After nearly five minutes staring at the sucker display, when the woman behind the counter asked me "if that was everything," I lied and told her, "Yes."

YOU must not settle.  When I returned home from the craft store, I told my friend about my ridiculous encounter with the sucker display, and that I, indeed, lied to a human being over wanting a sucker.  Then I unraveled.  I was flustered and mad at myself for knowing that I wanted a sucker, but for not knowing how to make a timely and decisive decision.  It was a feeling that I had encountered many times over the years; knowing that there was a desire inside for one thing, but turning away because I felt my time was up, or that because saying no would be harder than saying yes.  Pleasing others had become the basis of my decision making, and my authentic self was being smothered by the pressure, guilt and resentment in the process.  I would know soon, that my coming undone, was my authentic-self crying out.  

The choice is YOURS.  The next day, my roomie returned home from work and errands and handed me three suckers.  "Who needs to choose one, when you can have many?!" she said.  And she was so right!  There is not one choice, and there definitely is not one way.  There's not an ultimate correct life to be lived; not even for family members raised under one roof.  The beautiful part about life is that there are choices and we can make them.  Every day.  And in the process, we nurture our authenticity and create unique, beautiful stories.

Enjoy the life YOU'VE created.  The sucker saga was the first stepping stone in taking my life back.  Over the next couple of months, I catered to me and listened to my heart and where it was leading.  I bought an airline ticket to visit friends who were at home, attending Washington State University, and while I was there, I felt home with the friends that I loved, free to breathe, and uninhibited.

At the close of my visit, shortly before our hour-long drive to the airport, my friend handed me her bracelet with the engraved word, wisdom.  I wore it on my wrist each day after returning home, and within a month, I had decided my next move.  I told my parents I wanted to move home and attend college back in Washington.  With slight hesitation on my Father's part, and tears from my mother, they obliged.  They also agreed that I could pay for the next two years of college to finish my degree.  Good enough.  The thousands of dollars I would spend on tuition, cost far less than the pain of living life unauthentic.   

You can read more on what came of my college experience, here.  It was rad. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

10 Tips for Tackling and Overcoming Fear

Late last year, I guest posted over at the lovely NYC-based blog, The Karina Chronicles, and shared my best 10 tips on how to overcome fear.  Maybe you could use them?

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.” Mahatma Gandhi
Recently, during a late-night Pinterest-sesh, I spotted a reoccurring theme on my "Quote" board. As I navigated through the bold typography and inspiring images, I couldn’t help but pause.  There were 15+ quotes and images on the subject, FEAR.  Was my subconscious trying to reacquaint me with my own baggage, or what?  When I began to fear the fact that I have an issue with fear, I knew I had to start digging. I had to get to know my fears and learn how to overcome them.
10 Tips for Tackling and Overcoming Fear:
1. Be aware.  When a scenario, idea or daydream has been on replay giving you near heart-palpitations, and you spend more time thinking of excuses or how you can avoid such a scene, fear may be lurking in the shadows.  Before you run from the discomfort, try to understand it.  
2. Name it. What is your fear?  What is holding you back?  Why do you hear NO when you want to say YES?  If you are having a difficult time pin-pointing the root of the fear, draw yourself a web, a bubble chart or a tree with branches. On the lines add in details of experiences, conversations, tipping points, emotions, people etc. You may find a theme or the root of your fear if you've been having trouble isolating the issue.  Naming the fear—fear of failure, inadequacy, regret, betrayal etc. will help you begin to sift through the contributing factors to your fear.
3. Read between the lines.  Is what you’re telling yourself fact or fiction?  We often don’t try new things or go after the things we desire because we’ve already told ourselves that it won’t turn out good.  It’s things like, going to a job interview and telling yourself, There’s two positions, 37 applicants and one of me.  I guess I’ll go home now.  Or giving yourself a presumptuous fail and proclaiming to yourself, I’ve been out of school so long, I’m going to fair my grad school entrance exam, instead of buckling down, telling yourself YOU CAN! and focusing on how to pass the test with flying colors. 
4. Question it.  How is your fear holding you back and how is it affecting you, your relationships, your future, etc.?  Rate your fear on a scale of 1 to 10.  List the pros and cons to having such a fear.  Lay it all on the table and pick it apart.  Doing so will help you see if your fear is a hill or a mountain to climb, or if you can make a quick detour and be on your way.
5. Don’t be trigger happy.  What are the triggers that cause you to go deer-in-the-head-lights or kick your fight or flight instincts into full gear?  Does the thought of public speaking make you want to throw-up?  Did your study partner stare at you while you laughed at your own joke, twice?  Do the thin girls on the treadmill make it hard to step on?  Choose not to be swayed by the discomfort, but instead agree to move in the direction of your goal. 
6.  Change your outlook.  For instance…If you can’t dance, you can’t dance.  But once you realize you aren’t in high school anymore, Zumba is fun even if you don’t have coordination!  And remember, nobody looks foolish when they’re having fun!  Choose an outlook that focuses on what will bring you happiness not keep you from discomfort. 
7.  Imagine the future.  What will you be doing when you overcome this fear?  Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?  It's not uncommon that a person can envision themselves living a completely awesome life without inhibitions, but be paralyzed in reality.  Remember the vision you have for your life and make small daily steps toward living it.  
8. Share it.  Discussing and communicating your fear is a healthy and helpful way to begin to dismantle a fear.  Doing so with a close friend, family member, therapist or life coach can help validate what is true and false in the thoughts that have been causing struggle, and help you put your fear in perspective.  Who knows, maybe your fear is the same as your co-worker or your new sister-in-law?  By sharing your fear, you can break down walls together.
9.  Write it.  Just as there is something fantastic about writing a list or a letter (that you would never actually send) writing about your fear in all of its silliness or complexity can be therapeutic.  Once you’re finished, toss it, burn it, or write a giant X on it and tack it to the wall to symbolize that you will no longer accept the fear and that you’re beginning a new chapter.   
10.  Release it.  Accepting life for all of its unexpected, awkward, messy, awesome, life-changing moments and agreeing to embrace the learning curve is the best way to release any hold fear might have on your life.  Agreeing that fear is only a set-back and not a way of life is the best way to release, regroup and forge ahead.  There’s no time for fear!  You were made for so much more!

What's your strategy when you feel a wave of fear come on?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monday Mentions: Valentine's Edition (on thursday!)

Note: Monday morning, I was up till 5am, in the emergency room with my girl.  Hence the fact that it is no longer Monday for these mentions!  But because I like to keep some sort of organization around here, I'm going to go ahead and post.  

I believe this is the first Valentine's Day that I've spent in a hoodie, on the couch with shots of airborne and Aleve gelcaps.   The good news is that I ate chocolate for dinner (which must be great for fighting off sickness) and I have all my favorite tabs open on my laptop--Facebook, Blogger, Hotmail, and Pinterest--the perks of being sick.

Tonight, Husband spoiled the kids and I rotten.  Flowers, chocolates, a tanning gift card--he said "tanning goes good with Crossfit."  Hmmm...I'm down with that, along with a cap guns for the boy and a jumbo coloring book and markers for the girl.

Last night, Husband tucked me into bed, assuming all responsibility outside of the bedroom--meals, tending to our girl who is finally about recovered from her two separate flu cases in the last ten days, and even ran to the store to purchase Valentines for the kids so they could be part of today's festivities--even if it was a drop and pick-up order.  Such a love.

I loved that I could hear him and the boy talking about the kids in his class, while working on writing to's and from's on his Valentines.  Asher clarified to his uncle a few times, "I do not have a girlfriend!"  Oh, good.  Let's talk about that again in about fifteen years.

Now for some sweet Valentine mentions:

Isn't this Theo Classic Library of chocolates, charming?    The books come in Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate, Salted Almond Dark Chocolate, Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate, Orange Dark Chocolate, Mint Dark Chocolate, Spicy Chile Dark Chocolate, 70% Dark Chocolate, 85% Dark Chocolate, Salted Almond Milk Chocolate, & 45% Milk Chocolate (3 oz ea).  I'd hide these bars away, for sure.

One of my favorite pastimes is to find love in unsuspecting places, whether it is in the backyard, in the kitchen, or on fabulous streams put together by other love seekers.

I recently became a follower of the lovely, Gala Darling, and learned about her Radical Self Love Project, and the amazing journals that women are creating in effort to promote self love.  Aren't these wonderful? Now I want to tear open my scrapbook supplies from ages ago, to engage in some paper crafting madness.

Speaking of journals, how sweet is this journal for couples?  I found it while reading this post on love and marriage, and I love the idea.  What I originally went looking for are these words that my friend, Erin, posted on Facebook recently.  Such a wonderful explanation of true love--that I would love to have framed.
There are no standing lovers: the only way to love is to lay down.
Lay down plans. Lay down agendas. Lay down self.
Love is always the laying down.
This is how to make love out of a marriage: Love lays down it’s own wants to lift up the will of another.
Love let’s go of it’s plans — to hold on to a person.
-Ann Voskamp 

If I were in NYC tonight, I would have made sure we had reservations here (the place we spent Thanksgiving on our honeymoon), enticed Husband up 86 floors to do this, and finished the evening with a nightcap here, to make it a seriously romantic Valentine's Day.  Note to self: order up some frozen hot chocolate mixes, stat.

What was the best part of your Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 11, 2013

thirty-two gifts

Life is quiet and hushed this morning.  A stark contrast from last night's dry-heaving, florescent lights and water-drip at the hospital.  My girl has been struck again with what they believe is a different strand of the flu virus.  Her tiny stomach proved her strength, and now she sleeps, sprawled out on the couch next to a bowl and water tray.  It's hard to hear your six year old curled up in her leggings and orange, fuzzy Hello Kitty socks, say, it's the worst day of my life.  We rest and breathe and pray that it's downhill from here.

This year, I took the dare--The Joy Dare.  I'm recording three gifts each day, to accumulate one thousand gifts during the year 2013.  It's a lovely challenge that encourages being present and aware of the little things--the little blessings that God has placed before us, in ordinary moments to enjoy.  "Life is not an emergency," says Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts."  And I know better than to live in a constant state of fret.  There is too much goodness and graciousness to let slip by without thankfulness.

more gifts:

43.  Conversations like this:
Ash: Can we go to the park because it's my lucky day?
Me:  Why is it your lucky day?
Ash:  Because I have french fries and everything I wanted.
...oh to be a kid again...
44.  Local family-run farms
45.  Finding words on solitude
46.  The sound of the rain hitting the roof and the skylights
47.  Weekend naps
48.  Going to bed knowing that I'm ready and organized for the next day
49.  Transparency in friendship
50.  Having a truth to hold on to
51.  New workout shoes
52.  Sweating off stress, worry, and busy days
53.  Celebrating the small victories in each day
54.  Hot, hot showers
55.  Soldiers returning home
56.  A father of a soldier telling my brother, "thanks for looking out for my son."  And him responding, "he was looking out for me."
57.  Spontaneous, loving letters from strangers because of this blog
58.  The instinctive twang my boy uses when he sings
59.  A new book for vacation
60.  Palm trees
61.  Reuniting with old friends for a girls trip
62.  Strength improvements at the gym
63.  Running in different cities
64.  Sleeping in till the body says, it's time to rise
65.  The camaraderie within Crossfit
66.  Watching the last sliver of sunset go down with my boy
67.  Moments that humble and grow
68.  Weekends watching movies and napping
69.  Sending birthday wishes
70.  Family hot cocoa sessions
71.  Legs intertwined on the couch
72.  Misting rain--the kind that kisses the skin.
73.  Happy, dimpled smiles
74.  Sleepy, sweet smiles
75.  Our health, which is so easy to take for granted

May you find the gifts in each day--

Linking up here:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Two and a half days in Vegas is just about right

When I returned home from sunny, care-free Las Vegas, I returned to my family down and out with the flu.  I've been wearing a face mask, ingesting mass amounts of vitamins, sweating out as many toxins as I can at the gym and sleeping on the couch.  All while still getting coughed in the face from my sweet boy, who ends up next to me in the morning--or on the couch with me like he did last night, and who still can't remember to cover his mouth regularly.  I'll let you know if I beat this. 

So here's how Vegas went down (pics at the bottom):

::When I arrived at The Trump to meet up with my girl, Heather, I felt like orphan Annie being left on Daddy Warbuck's doorstep.  The bellboys opened my taxi door, helped me out, took care of my bag, and ushered me into a sea of gold.  Inside were massive chandeliers and floral arrangements, and tall ceilings.  I caught the elevator guard by surprise when I inquired about the one thousand flowers in the lobby.  He seemed embarrassed that he couldn't tell me what kind they were, but he did tell me that the arrangements are changed every 2-3 days with fresh flowers, and that the lobby is scent-infused.  It smelled like a magnificent flower garden.  I didn't sing, I think I'm gonna like it here with jazz hands, but I knew it in my heart.

::When I made it to the room, we immediately started catching up, opted to get into our pajamas and ordered chocolate cake.  Wild, first night right?  I take the liberty of blaming it on...she came into town to work the next day and I'm a mom. 

::While my friend was working Nordstrom, I walked the strip like a paparazzo taking pictures of palm trees, a thirty ft. Donny and Marie on the Flamingo and a rip-off version of Mickey and Minny drinking beer.  Then I jogged the strip home, including the sky-bridges and escalators.

::I saw a fashion show and shopped in the LARGEST Forever 21 I could have ever imagined.  I was so overwhelmed, that I completely didn't see the escalator in the middle of the store heading to the upstairs.  But I did succeed in finding a cute leather bomber jacket.

::While at the mall, I watched a fashion show rehearsal AND helped a 75 year old lady up off the ground when she fell in her stilettos.  Yes.  Apparently, Vegas needs an age-limit on pumps.

::My other bestie from NYC flew in on Friday with her boyfriend and hilarity ensued.  We had memories falling out of our pockets.

::I won $100 playing Blackjack, cashed it out, and lost it the next day.  Go figure.

::We were out and about till 4:30 am Saturday night and it hardly felt past 11pm, thanks to the recommended cat-cap.

::I tried a fried mac n' cheese bite, and enjoyed my first tapas meal off the strip with my friends.

::I wore my friend's MAC Dear Diary hot pink lipstick and loved it.  $40 on Ebay!!?  It's a great color and according to my friend, it's no longer available and there's nothing else on the MAC counter like it.  And of course now I want a tube, mainly because of the fear of loss...of a good lipstick...even if I've only worn lipstick twice in the last five years.

::I also found out the true meaning of genius when I used dry shampoo for the first time.  Being a woman just got easier.  Who has a favorite dry shampoo to recommend?
So that's the gist of my trip, along with the worry that I had when Husband had to take Brooklynn to the ER because of dehydration and the flu.  But daddy took great care of our girl, and by the time I returned home, she was smiles and feeling much better.
Overall, I'd call Vegas a success!  I'm so thankful for Heather's wild idea for me to join her and Alyssa, and Husband's generosity to send me there, and holding down the fort with sick wee-ones.  I missed him being there.  Next time!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Weekending in VEGAS!

You guys!  I'm in Vegas for the weekend!  It was a spontaneous trip to meet up with a couple of my besties.  We go way back to elementary school talent shows, first ear piercings and roller blades. And we've got plenty to catch up on. 

Since I have some time to myself today, (one friend is here to work today, while the other flies in this afternoon) here's what's in my plans:

:: Get outside this morning.  It's sunny, blue skies, and I've got my running shoes and Pandora.  There's nothing like waking up to gray mountains on a blue backdrop that wraps 360 degrees.  I keep asking myself why I don't live somewhere where this happens daily?  Why?

:: Beyond the joy that palm trees and blue skies are bringing me today, out my window I see Nordstrom and Forever 21.  Getting there.

:: Be adventurous.   What does this look like?  I'm so used to kids connected to me at the hip that I hardly know what to do with my solo self.  I'm going to figure it out today!

:: Check out the spa and/or rest up before the evening ensues and I'm wearing heels on the strip.

I hope you have some adventures in your plans for this weekend, friends!!  Photos when I get back!



“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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