Two Weeks into Lent

We are exactly two weeks into Lent. It feels great to say I have been away from Facebook and Instagram for that length of time. To be honest, I quickly went on tonight to check in with my bookclub to see if we are still planning on meeting next week, and I will have to check in periodically over the next few days to see what the plan is. However, I have not gone on to scroll through either of the social platforms. It feels amazing! So amazing, that at this point, I may give up one of them. Now, who is to say that I will still feel that way when this is all said and done, but two weeks in, I just may! Or at least, I will scale down who I follow. Time will tell.

What have these past two weeks taught me? Tonight, my oldest out of nowhere said “mom, I am glad you gave up Facebook, I feel like you were on it too much”. Yes, Stella, I probably was on it too much. I am not proud of it. I could have been on it much more, or much less. Now, what she doesn’t realize though, is that everything is on my phone so I am not always on social media. Text communication about friend get togethers, music that she loves to listen to, email correspondence about her extracurricular activities, and shopping for things we actually need all take place on this time consuming device. The phone is with me and is a part of me. That is the way of the world. I can be better though. We all can be, right?

What have I done with this extra time? I have gotten back on board with some much needed self improvement. I have felt like I had fallen off of the train with my healthier lifestyle. It had only been a few weeks, but I was not happy to feel and see the results start to diminish. I had a friend ask me what my “why” was. What is the “why” behind my weight goals. I knew a little bit about my why, but I had A) lost site of it and B) had to dig a little deeper to provide me with some much needed motivation. I think that discussion is for another post as I am still processing through that why.

A friend at work introduced me to the YouVersion Bible app. It appeared I had downloaded the app about three years ago, so I guess she re-introduced me to it. My morning routine has welcomed some new found Bible studies and has brought a college friend back into my circle. I would say a triple win so far! I have ebbed and flowed through starting my morning with some spiritual words and I am not quite certain why it is easy to drift away from this routine as it does bring me a sense of calm. I have brought back my journal too. There is something therapeutic about writing for me. There are a few topics that I have declared off limits for this blog. I need to remind myself that a journal and a pen are just as good.

I have finished two phenomenal books in the past couple of weeks too. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert. This is not a sales pitch by any means, but if you love to read and you love to get new books in the mail I highly suggest subscribing to Book of the Month. Maybe with leaving Facebook and Instagram I will find enough time to catch up on my pile of books. They all sound so good, it is hard to make a decision each month. Daughter of Molokai was not part of the Book of the Month subscription. I read Molokai by the same author years ago. It by far is my favorite book. I have not been to that particular Hawaiian island, but reading it brought me back to Maui and the heart warming feelings it brought to my senses while I was there. I have read a lot of good books by authors that bring great detail to their writing. Those authors make you feel like you know the characters. They make you feel like you sitting there next to them. This author exceeds all of my expectations with his level of detail. I lent Molokai to someone once and didn’t get it back. I ran across it at a 2nd hand store and bought it again. Honolulu is another book by Alan. Again, I lent this out and never got it back. At some point I will want to purchase it again. It was that good. Daughter of Molokai is a sequel to Molokai. You don’t have to read them in order, but I would recommend it. Alan makes learning about history fun again for me. If you have a fear of flying or are taking a trip soon I would suggest not reading Dear Edward. I didn’t know what to expect out of Ann’s story, but it brought a sense of warmth to my heart after a tragic situation occurred. I couldn’t help but feel for Edward and is family. They all struggled in their own way, yet being family they made it through together. Life is not perfect, however we have to work together.


I am excited to see what else come from the next few weeks of peace.

The Struggle to Accept Others

I have been struggling lately. After reading some of the books I have over the past year it has opened my mind and heart even more to the way the world is. If I were to rate myself on a scale I would say I am more open to other’s differences than many people. I am not perfect and my mind wanders at times when I have certain gut feelings, however, I yearn to learn about how other people differ from myself and accept them for who they are. I feel like I have been like this since I was a child.

So where do I struggle? When others do not feel that way. When I feel others are being closed minded to people that are not part of our norm.

The story in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, took place throughout the past few decades. It saddened me to see that things have not really changed that much. Sure, we have made strides, but still, it embarrasses me to see how we have so far to go. People, it is 2020. Ugh, to type that, and see where we still struggle. It makes me want to literally cry. I am currently listening to the audiobook, Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. Sure we don’t have scaled down concentration camps in the US for the Japanese Americans anymore, but so many American’s still fight against letting others come to our country. These people come here in hopes to have a safer environment than what they left behind.

I get it, we are crowded.

I get it, some come here and can’t speak our language so how are they to be successful? How are they to work and make money to live?I get it, our tax money needs to help those that are already living here and have “put in their time”.

But what I question is, what if America was not the land of the free? What if we lived our life in constant fear of terrorists? What if women could not walk around with their heads held high? Would we not want a place to escape to in hopes for a better life? Would we not dream of better opportunities for our children?

While I was reading How Yoga Works by Michael Roach, I was also reading the book of Matthew in the Bible. So many parallel teachings between the two. Christianity and Buddhism teaching how to be good people. How to be loving people. How to be accepting people. It made my heart feel warm and happy.

This brings me back to where I struggle. I need to be more patient with those that are not open to things like I am. Maybe my way is not necessarily the right way. Only God knows. I need to ask more questions when people disagree with my thoughts. I need to revert back to the 3 year old I once was and ask “why” more often. I need to continue challenging people to see if they have looked at situations from all sides. I need to focus on myself and on broadening my understanding of others. I need to accept those I struggle with for who they are, just as I accept those that are different from me in other ways.

Life is hard. Love is not always easy. Learning new ways takes time. May you find peace with the acceptance of those around you and with those that come across your path.

Books that have opened my eyes can be found here.

2020 Vision

Today the date is January 12, 2020. It has been 12 days of reflecting on what my vision is for 2020. I loved last year how I had laid out goals for different passions within my life. Reading, art, moving, self empowerment and the 7 challenge. Why did I love ALL of those goals? They all were focused around things that I love. Even though I tried to scale down my monthly goals, there were a lot of goals each month. I didn’t achieve all of them, and they even tapered off as the year went on. I learned to be ok with that. I learned a lot about myself in 2019. I learned about why some of those goals were more important and why some were not. This year, I think it has to be less. Less in a way that may turn into more. More meaningful that is.

I decided to go with a phrase this year.

BE PRESENT.

Being present should rein in all of the important things that I need to focus on. I am hoping this will help strengthen the person I am and strive to be. The person that makes me strong for those that around me. God. Family. Friends. Co-workers.

Here are the things I want to focus on and more BE PRESENT with:
Faith

Family

Food

Workouts

Strengths

BE present IN FAITH

Daily reading of the Bible

Monthly Bible study

No judgement of people

BE present WITH FAMILY

Make eye contact

Less multitasking

More hugs

More silly times

More freedom

BE present WITH FOOD

Healthy food

Proportion

Intermittent fasting

Ayurveda practices

MyFitnessPal app

Be present WITH WORKOUTS

Cardio that is good for me

Weight training that strengthens m back

30 minutes a day/ 5 x a week

10,000 steps a day

Be present WITH STRENGTHS

Discipline

Input

Relator

Responsibility

Intellection

Learner

Belief

Developer

Arranger

Individualizations

2019 brought a lot of joy back into my life. It created space to be ok with what is important to me. 2020 is going to be a good year.

Bible Study

Happy (almost) December! The snow started to finally fall this morning in the Northland. I expected to see inches of snow upon waking up as we are in a Winter Storm Warning. I finished up a wonderful Bible Study just now and felt the urge to share.

For the past month a couple of friends and I followed Courtney Joseph and the Good Morning Girls’ Making Your Home a Haven Bible Study. Part of her method is quite simple. She calls it the SOAK method.

read the SCRIPTURE

OBSERVE what verse sticks out to you the most

APPLY it to your daily life

KNEEL IN PRAYER over your sins

If you purchase her Making Your Home a Haven study guide she also has you list out what you are grateful for and what you are praying for that day. This 4 week Bible Study focused on Gratitude, Meditation, Prayer and Fasting. I wonder what Courtney was thinking…fasting for the week of Thanksgiving? *smile* I tried to fast for one day- I ended up eating a banana at lunch and ate a salad for dinner as I “couldn’t” push through. I could have. I know I could have. I realize this was a challenge I failed. I prayed and journaled a lot about fasting for the week. Food is a weakness for me. It is my go to for comfort. It is something I work on daily.

I think why I liked her method, or found it easy to adapt to, is that it mimics what I have being trying to do for over a year. It started with a devotional a friend gave to me, Be Still and Know. I would read the daily devotion, pray and journal about it, write down what I am grateful for and I would write down my 10 dreams (Rachel Hollis driven). This fall I came across an app called First 5 by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It was a nice change to read more verses from the Bible. I used this rather than the Be Still and Know devotion.

Thanks to the Annie Down’s podcast, That Sounds Fun, I was introduced to She Reads Truth. There is an Advent 2019 Bible Study they put together. I look forward to starting this tomorrow morning. It is beautifully put together with music, crafts, and recipes.

Once January comes around I look forward to journaling in my Moleskine Professional Journal again. Each page is sectioned just write for the continued use of the SOAK method, writing what I am grateful for and writing out my daily prayers.

As with any goal, it takes time to make it a habit. I am glad that this habit is more “on” than it is “off”. One of my dreams I would list out each day, is that “I walk with God daily”. I think I can cross this goal off of my list. It is simply part of my life now.

April 2019 Goals

Tomorrow is May Day, May 1st. We are almost half way through the year already! The post I wrote last would give an in-cling on how my goals went for April. Best to reflect nonetheless! Life ebbs and it flows.

Reading

Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst was a book that sat on my shelf for well over a year. It amazes me when that happens. The old saying is “don’t just a book by it’s cover”. Well, I do when it comes to books. Good book design speaks my love language. At the end of March this girl needed a fictional book bad, but Uninvited was such a natural book to pick up. It had an energy force that drew me to pick it up rather than an “easy” read. Consider this my book review. The following are my top take always:

1. “Not in my presence will you talk about yourself in this way” (page 6). Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a loved one. Be gentle with the words you speak to yourself.

2. “When a man is physically present but emotionally absent, a girl’s heart can feel quite hollow and helpless” (page 14). Life between men and women is not easy. There are ups and there are downs. I have seen this in my past. I have seen this affect my friends. Prayers that love languages are strongly spoken between you and your significant other.

3. It is not easy to see God’s good design in the world with all of the “decay and corruption” (page 20). Difficult things surround us daily. It is hard for me to believe in Him some days, but too many miraculous things have been witnessed for me to not believe in a higher power.

4. “Live loved” (page 3). One of my favorite quotes and on page 46 she reminds us that it is a choice to live that way. A choice we get to make each day.

5. “I crave for life to make sense. I cringe when it doesn’t” (page 52). Thankful I am not the only one that struggles with this. Shout out to the Type A people out there. Hello to the INFJ personalities!

6. “Humility can’t be bought at a bargain price. It’s the long working of grace upon grace within the hurts of our hearts” (page 85). A co-worker reminded me long ago that positive changes take time. I think of this often. There are no quick fixes out there. Make a plan, stick with it, and if you fall off of the bike, get back on!

7. “Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present-day infections” (page 95). An analogy without a lot of truth.

8. “It’s good to ask the ‘what’ questions but less helpful to ask the ‘why’ questions” (page 135).

9. “Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours” (page 142).

10. “Messy realities in the midst of the miracles” (page 161).

Art

The sketchbook did not even get cracked open this month. However, The House that Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton sent inspiration to me. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to binge in Pinterest land after I ready this book. The coffee book was impressive. Diane Keaton built her home after images she found on Pinterest. I literally wanted to dive into the book and live in the spaces she “pinned”

Part of a weekend was spent going through all of my Elle Decor, Architectures Digest, Dwell and House Beautiful magazines. I followed Diane’s footsteps and ripped out designs that spoke to me. Bookshelves, swinging interior chairs, black painted walls, colors upon colors of paint, black and white spaces. I taped them into an all black sketchbook. Essentially, my own The House that Pinterest Built book was created. It was a Marie Kondo type of thing to do. I kept what I needed to keep and threw away stacks of magazines. Clear the clutter.

Move

The temperatures rose and running outside was a new high. Temperatures dwindled and the high went away. Spring, please come back. I have lost the desire to workout indoors. I need the sunlight. I need the warm weather. I have become a hibernating bear after fighting it all winter long.

7 Challenge

I avoided the challenge this month like someone trying to avoid cake on their first day of dieting. Jen Hatmaker and her family quit Media for a month. I know I could. It would be hard. She quit it at a magnitude that I can’t even try. She quit TV, Music, Social Media. I could go without TV. I could go without Social Media but not Music. I often think of forgoing Facebook. It is not a social platform I check out each day. When I do though, I realize I miss out on seeing friend’s life happenings. It is a part of our world. It can consume us, like so many things in life. For now, I will stay with Facebook. I will stay with Instagram. It is a way of connecting. It is a way of finding inspiration. I will say though, that reading Uninvited helped me pick prayer/medication each morning over checking Instagram. It is helping me pick reflection at the end of the day over social media. It is a work in progress. Life is a work in progress.

Big Magic and Permission

We have the permission to be creative. “Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe. It’s as if all our gods and angels gathered together and said, ‘It’s tough down there as a human being, we know. Here- have some delights’.” (Page 128) This was the best quote Elizabeth Gilbert had in the section titled Permission in Big Magic. How refreshing is this? We have something to look forward to while we wait for our time in Heaven.

The United States offers us the permission to be creative. There are countries where being creative is frowned upon or even against the law. How sad; I would feel robbed if I was not given the time to be creative. Not only do I live in a country that I can imagine, draw, write, paint and etc. I got to grow up in a household where being creative was welcomed. It brings upon an abundance of emotions to have creativity be accepted.

Being a part of creative energy makes me a more prayerful, grateful, loving, caring and positive force. Now that my kids have gotten older I have allowed the act of being creative to creep back into my weekly, and even daily, routines. For reasons I am uncertain of, I pushed it away while they were smaller because feelings of guilt were heavy upon my heart, mind and soul. Those years brought me down. If any words of wisdom can be shared…don’t fight the feelings. We all deserve creative outlets.

Equality & the Minority

There has been so much banter about equal rights lately. Well, for as long as I can remember, really. It’s amazing how it changes over the years, and it’s even more astonishing to me as I grow older. In the words of Rodney King “can’t we all just get along”? It’s true. It seems so simple. Why? Why can we not get along? God made us different but I have a hard time believing he wanted us to live in a world where there is so much hatred, negativity and disbelief. I don’t know the Bible well, but I know there are words in there that showcase God’s wishes for love, positivity and trust.

I listened to a talk this last week. It was between two men, both caucasian, that said they are at a point where they feel they are the minority and don’t dare say anything in fear of offending someone. Why should it be that way for them? As long as they are being kind to the people around them, what does it matter? With that being said though, why has it been that way for women in the past? Or African-Americans? Or any race or minority for that fact? Are we all not a minority at some point; depending on our location? Yes, it appears that Caucasian men have had it “easy” in years past, where their words mattered most. That their words were the way of the world. Thank goodness that is changing. I know the concept of “we are all created equal” could be up for debate. Some people are born with certain talents, some are born into certain family structures that cause life to be easier in some ways, some people work harder to move up in the world. So it easy to understand that maybe “we are not born equal”. I have to believe that God wants us all to be loved, respected and supported equally in a positive light.

I grew up with a family that supported me, I surround myself with strong women who work hard to make a positive difference in our world, I get to mold my children to be strong thinkers who help lift their friends up and showcase their passions.

I pray that we continue to move to equality. I pray that we love one another for our differences. I pray that we support each other’s talents. I pray that we acknowledge other’s weaknesses and encourage change for the better.

Morning Goals

I have always been a morning person. For the longest time I woke up at 5:30 to work out. Once I had Stella I woke up at 5:30 so I would be prepared for the day before she woke up. Emery was born and she was my 5:30 alarm! Heck, she was my 5:00 alarm for the longest time. Just within the last few months has she slept past 5:30 on a consistent basis. I thought to myself, maybe I should try working out again at 5:30. When I further evaluated my mornings I knew this was not possible without waking up someone in the house. I decided I needed to wake up at 5:00 to accomplish things I always wanted to do, but had yet tried to do.

For the last month I have woken up at 5:00 and have done the following 4 things consistently before leaving for work:

#1- Deep Breaths

I start by taking 30 deep breaths. My mind easily moves towards the list of things ahead of me for the day, I try to rope those anxious thoughts back to my deep breaths. This step is the hardest for me. I have tried off and on for years to meditate. I probably won’t master this task ever, but I would like to get better.

#2- Tibetan Rites

I move to my yoga mat in my dimly lit workout room. I complete the 5 Tibetan Rites. I first learned of these movements from the yoga instructor I had in Fargo, Andrea Paradise. Like meditation, I have done these “exercises” off and on. They seem to give my body an oomph of energy to get the day started. Supposedly, these 5 exercises are going to keep me young. *wink* I would like to find a good book to explain this theory more. I figure, if I don’t get exercise into my daily schedule, I at least moved my body for 10 minutes. With these movements I also complete a few yoga moves to stretch my body out of its tired and tight feeling- sun salutations, cat and cow and child’s pose.

#3- Prayer & Journal

This next step is the one I am most proud of. I grab my journal and I write prayers to God for 5-10 minutes. I tell him things I am thankful for from the previous day. I ask him to guide the people that surround me, to love them, to be with them during times of hardship. I take a minute to read a page out of one of my devotionals. This forces me to take God into my day in a way other than what I believe I need help with. He gives me something to focus on in his own way.

#4- H2O

I drink 4- 8 ounce cups of water before I leave the house. This is half of what my goal is each day to drink. I find once I get to work it is difficult to drink water.

I have completed these things each week day for the past 4 weeks. The weekends throw me off, but I do find myself yearning for them and come Sunday evening I look forward to waking up Monday morning to head to my space. I use my Bedtime alarm on my iPhone to alert me to go to bed so I get 8 hours of sleep and be awake by 5:00. I love the feeling of accomplishing goals. I hope this is a routine I can keep up with. Dark winter mornings are hard on me mentally, I hope this brings some light to my routine.

Love Wins

We are in a time where we need constant reminders that Love Wins. This seems like it should be common sense, but why is it not? I believe that there are still more good people in the world than bad, but why is it that our kids have to learn ALICE training? Why is it that we have to worry about our kids’ safety at school of all places? It broke my heart to hear about the school shooting in TX. I was fortunate to spend the day with my daughter’s class on a field trip last week. Such innocence ran around the farmstead we visited. They are well aware of what to do if a bad person comes into their school. They know they are to throw any object at the bad guy and they know to take direction from the teachers that hopefully can protect them. To write this forces me to vision my kids in these situations and it causes instant anxiety, broken breathing and tears to form. This world has become a very scary place. We need to come together and end the violence. We need kids to have boundaries. The small troubled fish need to be stopped in their actions before they become big fish that are out of control. Innocent kids are being killed and being threatened in this great world we live in.

The shooting, in my opinion, was a bit overshadowed by the Royal Wedding. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a prince getting married, especially one as good looking and kind as Prince Harry? The sermon that was given at the wedding by Rev. Michael Curry was incredible. It spoke to me on so many levels. I pray that we continue to love. Again, Love Wins!

Words that won me over:

“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love” … “And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world”

“Imagine our governments and countries when love is the way”… “Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way … No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. Poverty would become history in such a world as that.”

Maybe Rev. Michael Curry didn’t intend to discuss love in the way he did at the Royal Wedding, but he had a large audience listening to him. Harry and Meghan seem to be very dedicated to making the world right again through love. It was a fitting sermon for them to hear along with those that tuned in. MAY LOVE CONQUER ALL.

Shirt: Old Navy

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are a mother in some aspect. There are so many different kinds of mommies out there. Mommy with a kid, Mommy who had a kid, Mommy who wants a kid, Foster Mommy, Animal Mommy, Like-a-Mommy and any other Mommy types I may have missed.

I am blessed to have my mom in my life. I gave her a card today that said Best Mom + Best Friend. It is true, she is one of my best friends. I have looked up to her for as long as I can remember. I look to her for advice on a very regular basis on topics that range from being a mom, being a good person, and fun things such as fashion (I take her hand-me-downs often), recipes (we share a love of recipe books) and home decorating (this is where my passion for interior design comes from). I am fortunate to see here at least every other month. I could easily move away from Minnesota, until I start to think about moving away from my mom (and dad). My mom helped form me into the person I am today. I thank her for that and thank her for all of the times she has set aside for me. I love you!