Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cookie Days

This picture is how I have been feeling lately (with the exception of the scary pet eyes).  We are in one of those busy seasons around here.  I blame Girl Scout cookies.  I didn’t know it was possible to have dreams about cookies until last week-I forgot to pick up the cookies, I forgot to meet the troop for a group sale, etc, etc.  I had no idea this process could get so complicated. 

And having tons of boxes in the house, well, that’s not good for us.  I told you that Billy and I have no self-control when it comes to sweets, right?  Just when I think everything has been sold, more orders come in or Lucy tells me that she wants to sell more (both are good things, of course).  Apparently, putting a dollar store stuffed animal as a prize for cookie selling is a good motivator.  Lucy really wants that dog.  Let’s forget about the closet full of neglected stuffed animals.

I’m grateful for the beautiful weather we have had (and are scheduled to have) on the weekends.  It makes hours of cookie selling easier for the girls.

I’m also grateful for Billy picking up some of the slack.  After hours of cookie selling on Sunday, he put together dinner for us. 

And I’m also grateful that like most busy seasons, this is only temporary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Last Friday morning, I woke up at 5:30, as usual.  I was giddy.  I realized that it was my day off.  And I was going to be home alone. 
I was able to get around to some to-dos.  I finally got my hair cut.  It was long overdue.

My normal Friday routine usually includes some house cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.  That’s the goal anyway.  Sometimes I end up playing on the internet, visiting craft stores or poking around at Goodwill.
Instead, I decided to take advantage of the warmer weather and go on a hike.  It felt like a good choice for the day.  I packed a lunch and headed to a close park.

I had a lunch date with myself.

I went for a hike on the snow covered trail and then had lunch down by the creek.  The beauty of a hike is that you can enjoy the scenery.  It’s not like a trail run where you look at some elk for a split second and twist your ankle.

It was so peaceful.  I didn’t realize that I would still be able to hear the rush of the water under the ice.  It reminded me of the undercurrent of joy.  Joy is always there.  Even when dark times may be clouding it, the undercurrent is always there.

I thought about some things that have been on my heart for a while.  A long, long while.  Things that I never really spend time thinking about because everyday life tends to get in the way.  I think it helps to be somewhere else.  My mind floated around.

I enjoyed the solitude.  I didn’t realize how much the burdens of the week had weighed on me until I was alone and could breathe.

A thought kept coming to mind, “thank you.” 

I was so grateful for the day.  I was grateful for the time for reflection.  I was simply grateful for this life that I have been given.

It’s not often that I have a day like that.  A day that seems so seamless, so effortless. 

Often, I become so controlled by the to-dos that I think I will only have peace if they are done.  But that’s not true.  In the middle of the to-dos, I made time for me, and I did have peace.  In fact, when I returned home (and changed pants because I realized after my lunch that the ground I was sitting on was quite wet), I resumed my to-dos and there wasn’t a feeling of dread that accompanied that.  I simply resumed.

Now that my long weekend is done, and I am immersed in the reality of the work week, I am grateful for the gift of that day.  The peace that day brought me still lingers in my heart.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Building Relationships

I never knew that time could pass so quickly until I had kids.  Those long days (and nights) of feedings, diaper changes, toddler antics seem like a lifetime ago.  I look at pictures of when the girls were babies and can’t believe how much time I feel I have lost.

One of the reasons that I look back with such disbelief is that for many years I was in a bit of a fog.  Working overnights or working two jobs or both.

Now that I have been out of that fog for many months and can actually experience how quickly life passes, I’ve come to realize a scary fact.

These warm kittens are growing up.

And I want to be a part of that.  Not simply a bystander, looking on from a thick haze.  I want to be part of their lives.

This year, I want to focus on developing those relationships around me.  Strengthening the relationship with my girls is part of that.  Turning off the technology and meeting the girls where they are.  Saying yes.  Saying yes when Katy wants to look at another I-Spy book together.  Saying yes when Katy invites me upstairs to my own bed to read books to her.  Saying yes when Lucy asks for help putting together a craft.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a night when the girls and I were sewing together.  Those simple moments, where I have let go of an agenda, are the most meaningful to me.  They warm my heart.

Simplicity is also rooted in building relationships.  This isn’t about spending money on fancy outings.  This goal is about appreciating the every day activities with those people I spend every day with.

Of course, this also includes Billy.  This includes the rest of my family, my friends.

This focus of building relationships is also greater than my friends and family around me.

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I am a social worker.  This business of helping people, you can’t enter it lightly.  It changes you.  It changes how you see the world.  But for me, it feels right. 

Often, I think of what I used to tell others when I was 18 and choosing social work as a major.  I want to help people.  To be honest, that’s probably the answer that I still give people when they ask why I chose social work as a profession.  That response seemed so trivial. 

Until lately.  Last month, I wrote a post using a Mr. Rogers quote that you have probably seen on facebook.  Here’s the quote:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.

I then realized that simple reasons are ok.  I just want to be a helper.  I want to encourage others.  I can’t solve the problems of the world. 

But I can be a helper.

Again, this thread of simplicity emerges.  Being present for other people (family, friends or strangers) and showing that I care, well, this is the goal. 

As with all of my goals, I am trying to base them in reality.  I am trying to set myself up for success.  The reality is that after a week of working with people or dealing with drama from my ladies, I also like quiet.  I also like to be alone.  And that’s ok. 

Moving forward, I have to remember that these goals don’t define who I am.  This is simply a guide for what I want to focus on this year.

Awake.  Being present.  Actively participating in the life around me.

And sometimes that will also mean quiet.  Alone time.  Recharging.

That’s ok too.  2013 is going to be a good year.




This post is part of my focus for 2013 to be awake.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Outlets

Too much tv or computer stifles my creativity.  Notice I was careful with my words.  I like tv and movies.  I like to get lost in another world for a while.  It’s easier for me to walk away from tv.  If there is nothing on, I just turn it off.  Billy could watch tv all day, mindlessly flipping through random shows.  Hey, that’s how he relaxes, who am I to judge.  It’s really easy for me to walk away from tv when Billy has the remote.  We just do not like to watch the same things.  And that’s ok.  To be honest, it’s actually a great thing because it motivates me to get off the couch.

But the computer…oh…that’s another story.  I do find inspiration from some things on the internet.  I like to look at new recipes, read other blogs, get a bit lost on Pinterest.  Of course, too much of anything is usually bad for you.  And what starts as, “I just want to look up a few things,” quickly turns into an hour that I’ve lost.

When I start to get sucked into mindless technology, I lose all interest in actually engaging in the world around me.  I make plans looking at pretty pictures on Pinterest, but there is no follow through.  And honestly, I’m tired after spending time with technology.  Last week the girls and I were practicing our stitches and sewing and I when I went to bed later, my brain didn’t feel exhausted.  I felt good. 

So this year, I’m trying to be a bit more purposeful about the time I spend using technology.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good movie/show marathon or playing around on the internet.  But I am trying to be more mindful of sticking to my intended purpose, paying attention to the time and being aware of those people around me that I could be hanging out with instead of letting my mind drift off.

I am going to use my time away from technology to focus on developing creativity.  I am going to revisit some of my old favorites.

Writing.  I love to write.  And often I am on the computer, but I am not using Word, I am mindlessly playing on the internet.  I want to make more time to write-blogging, journaling, etc.

Baking/cooking.  I love to bake and cook.  Not so much during the week after a long day at work but I still do enjoy seeing a meal come together!  And I love trying new recipes.  Since I don’t bake so many sweets any more, I like to try healthy alternatives.

I declared to Billy’s mom that 2013 was the Year of Crafting!  I thought that needed an explanation point.  To be honest, I’m not sure what that meant, but it sounds fun.  I am going to try learning some new outlets.  I think I have mentioned a few times that I want to learn how to sew. 

I’ve been spending more time at craft stores.  I know, I’ve talked about this before.  I can’t help it.  There could be worse places to be on a Friday night, I suppose.  It’s bad when you sneak off to a craft store on a Friday night and then are caught by an old friend.  I kinda felt like I was caught doing something illegal.  Thankfully, she didn’t scold me.

I feel that I have been luring others into my web.  After one such Michael’s shopping excursion, I sent a text message to Katy’s Girl Scout troop leader who was coming over the following morning.  I wrote something like, “Be prepared to craft” and she still showed up, thank goodness.  That was a day of serious crafting. 

This goal of creativity isn’t about learning how to master a specific skill.  For me, it’s more about engaging my brain.  Being more awake. 

It’s challenging though.  Sometimes I want to flop down on the couch, covered by my blanket in my picked up family room (I'm dreaming about that last bit) and play around on the computer.  And that’s ok, for a while.  Again, the problem is when I stay too long. 

So for 2013, I am going to do my best to drag myself off the couch.  I know that I will feel so much better for doing it.  And maybe I can take my blanket with me while I craft.

This post is part of my focus for 2013 to be awake.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


My health goals for 2013 are more of a continuation of my overall wellness journey. 
From previous posts, you may have figured out that I run for fitness.  I can’t explain why I chose running.  I guess it just works for me.  I’ve settled into a winter fitness schedule that I am actually happy with for now.  I run about 8 miles per week.  Surprisingly, I haven’t let the cold weather interfere too much.  I suppose I would like to add a stationary bike ride during the week or some abdominal work/weight training for my arms, but I don’t feel any pressure to add to my current routine.

For this year, I would like to continue running.  I would like to run in another 10k.  I would like to do more trail running.  Unfortunately, my ankle hasn’t been up for the trail runs for the past couple of months.  I guess I need to put some ankle strengthening exercises on my agenda.

I have a confession to make.  I do not eat enough fruits or vegetables each day.  The other day I realized that I often don’t have any fruits or vegetables until dinner.  Now, before you start getting on me for this confession, I want to let you know a couple of things. 

1.  My kids do not have the same issue.  Our fridge is stocked with produce (when I actually get it together and make a list and go to the store).  Fruit is readily available for breakfast.  I make sure that they get fruits and veggies packed in their lunch.  Snacktime and dessert time around here is usually a piece of fruit.

2.  I don’t fill in my fruits/vegetable gap with junk food.  A few years ago, we started looking at what we eat and buy.  I used to buy soda, chips and cookies regularly.  We still have those occasionally but when I bought them on a regular basis, we consumed them within a day.  Seriously, we have no self-control (referring to Billy and myself).  When we have junk food around here, it is gone in a day.  If I make a sweet dessert for us, I try to only make it on the weekend, and I usually cut the recipe in half.  We are that bad.

Knowing that I need to add more produce to my daily consumption, I have been searching the internet to figure out exactly how much I should be eating.  I’m a bit behind.  For this year, I am going to try my best to upgrade my diet.  I expect that there will be days when I lag behind on the fruits and veggies, but that is ok. 

Because I am also trying to create simplicity, I don’t want to make this an impossible goal.  I decided to follow what I already provide for the girls.  A fruit at breakfast, veggies with my lunch, a fruit for a snack or dessert and veggies with dinner.  Sometimes I throw in veggies in a main dish for dinner (in addition to a side dish), but I’m not sure what that equals in the overall total.  I think maybe doing some prepacking will make it easy for me to follow through. Hopefully this will get me to my 4 ½ cups of fruits/veggies per day.  Did you know that adults should be eating that much?  I didn’t.  Perhaps you eat more than that.  Good for you. 

Fitness and diet are the obvious go-tos when we think of health.  We can’t overlook our mental health though.  Sanity is important.

At the end of the week, I often feel completely drained from my job.  Ok, if I am going to be completely honest, I often feel completely drained at the end of each day.  Renewal is incredibly important, especially in social work.  I know that I can’t help others if I haven’t created an opportunity of renewal for myself.

What works for me?  Fitness and diet go a long way.  Running in particular is a great stress reliever for me. 

While activity is important, doing nothing can often be as important.  I enjoy reading and getting lost in another world.  I like crafting and how that engages my brain without any real thought.  And sometimes, I enjoy mindlessness-tv, movies or simply staring into space.

Since I am already doing some of these activities, health may not seem like a true goal for 2013.  But I think that health is one of those things that we always have to work on. 

And it is work.  When I went running today, the temperature was 7 degrees.  It would have been easy to stay inside in my pajamas.  But I knew that I would feel better if I went running.  So I did.  And then I took a hot shower and got into fresh pajamas.



This post is part of my focus for 2013 to be awake.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Creating Peace


For me, simplicity is created by routine.  Not the rigid routine that doesn’t allow for flexibility.  Quiet routine that is freeing.  Routine that frees up time and mental energy to actually be awake.

The reality is that to-dos need to get done.  We need to eat, we need to wear clothes, we need to have a clean house (relatively clean).  This means that I have to cook, go to the grocery store, do laundry, actually put away the laundry and clean the house regularly.  I’m sure that all of you have similar to-dos in your home.

At times, these to-dos seem like a burden.  When I am trying to do meal planning before I make a grocery list, it takes forever.  Nothing ever sounds good when I am trying to plan our week. 

Or I put off the laundry until I am spending the entire day doing it, load after load.  Or the girls announce before school that they don’t have any clean underwear.

Or I put off cleaning/organizing certain areas of the house until it is in complete disarray.  Like the kids’ bedroom.  Or the pantry (specifically the baking shelf), and I can’t find anything.  Or I buy another bag of frozen green beans when I already have three unopened bags in the freezer.

So one of my goals is to find that simplicity in routine that can allow for the completion of those to-dos. I have been exploring a couple of ideas that may create peace.

Considering the ridiculous amount of time it takes me to make a grocery list, I need multiple ideas.  One idea is to create a document with meals divided into categories to help me with that meal planning piece, such as easy dinners, comfort food, etc.  Making the grocery list on Thursday nights instead of right before I go to the store on Fridays might also help speed up this process.  This doesn’t need to be so complicated, it’s a grocery list!

I clean my house every week but those cluttered areas or deep cleaning projects often get neglected.  Taking an hour each weekend to tackle those projects will help me stay on top of that, and I won’t feel as if I have given up my entire weekend to housecleaning.  I should probably clarify that I am not a neat freak.  I think everyone likes to see a little organization. I like to see it, not sure I like to actually do it….

I love waking up in the morning and seeing a clean kitchen.  I’m finding that I also enjoy waking up to a picked up family room as well.  Fifteen minutes (if that) of a quick pick up each night before bed (after the kids go to bed and can’t reclutter the house) would create a lot of peace for me in the mornings.  Of course, that means I would have to stay up for a few minutes after they go to bed.  I have an early bedtime too!  Don’t judge.

But simplicity is not just about routines and housecleaning.

I want to create simplicity in other areas of my life as well.

Billy and I have been embarking on a journey for quite a while to strengthen our finances.  Our biggest obstacle at first was a pretty basic concept, living within our means.  This year I hope to continue our progress in this area-pay down debt and continue saving.  Pretty basic.  But that’s what this is about…simplicity.  Frankly, life is more peaceful when your finances start to get in order.  I learned that the hard way from my days of working seven days a week.  Working seven days a week really complicates life.

There are some other areas that I am seeking simplicity, but those run into some of my other goals so I will go into more details in future posts.

Really, this idea of simplicity is a thread that I think runs through all of my goals for this year.  Life doesn’t need to be complicated.  I don’t need to overthink everything. 

I probably will still overthink many things and overcomplicate life.  That’s ok.  This is a journey.


This post is part of my journey for 2013 to be awake.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Look at 2013

This year, I can’t seem to fit my goals into a structured format.  The idea of “I will do this, and that, and the other” doesn’t seem to be working for me.

I took some time exploring that concept of awake and what that means for me.  When it comes time to reflect on 2013, what do I need to see in my life to feel that I was awake this year?  Feel that I was more aware of the people and life around me.

Different ideas started to form.  Ideas that I felt that if nurtured, would lead me/result in me being more awake.  More present.

Here they are:

Simplicity.  Finding peace in the everyday routine and the doings of life.

Health.  Fine tuning fitness, food and my mental well-being.

Creativity.  Exploring new creative outlets while reconnecting with my favorites.

Relationships.  Being present and encouraging others.

I realize these seem a bit vague.  I started to elaborate and realized that each area was probably its own post, so I will have to follow up with those thoughts.

Although, looking at what I have written, I love the simplicity of it.  I love allowing the room for flexibility and new interpretation.  And I also love allowing the room for grace.

Monday, January 7, 2013


After a week of fighting a cold, I am finally starting to emerge from the fog of sinus congestion.  I forget how precious clear thinking is when I am sick.

This cloud has prevented me from thinking about my goals for this year.  I was starting to get a bit frustrated with this.  Every time I sat down with my journal to plan and dream, I was overcome with fatigue.

I was feeling stalled.

And then I read Amanda’s post on the One Word 365 Community, and I was inspired.  The purpose is to think about one word that describes what you want to focus on in 2013 and who you want to be by the end of 2013.

I love the simplicity of it.

I still like to create goals, but for now, I need simplicity.

I thought about it.  I let it simmer for a bit.  The instructions made disclaimers about not overthinking.  Well, I never do that.  Ok, I usually do that.

But not this time.

I tried out a few words.  They didn’t seem to fit.

When it comes down to it, who do I want to be?  I wrote a 31 day series on this, and I’m not sure I still have any answers.

Often inspired by music, I thought of a few lyrics from Mumford and Sons:

In these bodies we will live,

in these bodies we will die

Where you invest your love,

you invest your life

The lyrics are from Awake My Soul.  And there it was.


My one word for 2013.

This past week wasn’t the first time that I have felt like I have been moving through a fog.  There are many instances in which I simply drift through life.  The to-dos become too overwhelming, work feels a little too close to my heart, and I simply shut down and drift.

I don’t want to simply drift.  Drifting is full of regret.

I want to pay more attention to the people around me.  I want to pay more attention to the life around me.  I want my soul to be awake.

This is a great starting point for me to start building those goals.  Really defining what awake means.

And as usual, building some grace into those goals.  There are times that I drift because my body and mind need to drift.  I need to recharge.  And that’s ok.  It’s also ok to build some goals and change those goals or even scrap them as I realize what really works for me.  Again, grace.  Perfection does not exist.

If you are struggling to find a little focus for 2013, I would encourage you to check out the One Word 365 Community.  This isn’t just for bloggers.  This is for everyone looking for some focus for the new year.

I sure can use the focus.  And the repetition of one word.  You know how much I enjoy repetition.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Life Around Here

Happy New Year!!  This was my first New Year's Eve that I spent at home in 6 years and I loved every second of it. 

This is the only picture I have of New Year's Eve.  This was my first plate of food.  Don't judge.

I feel the need to explain my blog silence.  Our laptop is dying a slow death and was completely out of commission for a few days.  In fact, I am trying to type as quickly as possible through this post before the computer shuts down on me again.

I think our laptop knows that we are looking to replace it.  It completely shut down when I got on the Best Buy website and started browsing.

I have been fighting a cold this week and have been shuffling through a fog.  Because of this, I haven't spent much time thinking about my 2013 goals.  It is hard to do when you aren't thinking clearly.

I am hoping to get the house back in order today.  Many years ago, I got a horrible stomach virus and was at the doctor's office getting IV fluids.  The nurse said, "Don't you know moms aren't supposed to get sick?"  I admit, I kinda wanted to punch her.  She made it seem like I had gotten sick on purpose.  This was after I spent the previous night in the bathroom.  I didn't punch her.  I was way to weak.  And I'm a nice person. 

But I see what she was talking about.  Maybe your house is different, but mine falls apart when I am sick. 

Fortunately, I got a full night of sleep last night and am thinking a bit clearer today.  Looks like it is time to get things in order.  And then maybe I can start thinking about my 2013 goals.