Tag Archives: gratitude

Dear Momma

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Dear Momma,

I’m sorry; I’ve failed you this Mother’s Day. Your card is still sitting on the kitchen counter, buried under a pile of unopened mail topped by an un-done to-do list. Besides, it isn’t even an actual Mother’s Day card since Trader Joe’s only carried generic cards and I didn’t have it in me to stop yet again when the baby and I both so desperately needed a nap.

You get it, I know. You’ve been doing this mom thing for thirty-plus years. And I get it now too. Though I’m only a year into motherhood, it’s more than enough to make me realize all that all that you’ve done for me, from the moment of my birth; all that you continue to do as I grow into a mother. Over this past year, I’ve come to love and appreciate and respect you in a whole new way.

The very reason I can’t manage to get a simple card in the mail is the same reason that you deserve so much more than Trader Joe’s ninety-nine cent sentiments. Motherhood is hard. Without your love and support and guidance as I fumble my way through, I would be lost. Your gifts to me have been selfless and priceless and limitless.

What do I get for the woman who gave me everything? Who has not only shepherded me as I become a mother, but has risen to great and beautiful heights as a grandmother.

How do I say thank you for jumping in your car, driving all day, just so you could hold my shaking hand as I prepared to bring my daughter into this world?

How can I repay you for the countless vacation days you have spent washing my dishes, walking my dog, and taking care of me, so I could take care of the endless needs of a new baby?

Where do I find the words to tell you what it meant when you miraculously appeared at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., when I was at my wits end with a baby who Would. Not. Sleep.? Giving me a break when I needed it the most.

No gift could express the gratitude I felt when I faced you the next morning, bleary eyed and grumpy, and you didn’t tell me what I could be doing differently to get my child to sleep. You never questioned why my one-year-old wasn’t sleeping through the night. Instead you simply embraced me and told me the one thing I most needed to hear; the one thing I was most doubting. “You are an amazing mother,” you whispered softly.

I probably rolled my bloodshot eyes at you (sorry, I was tired…), but those words meant everything to me. Still do.

When I doubt myself, and my mothering skills, your reassuring voice is a constant refrain in my head: “it’s ok, it’s ok, you are doing great, you are incredible.” Your words become the steady heartbeat coursing through my veins and keeping me alive through difficult days and sleepless nights.

So momma – there’s no card, no flowers, no bottle of wine or meticulously prepared dinner waiting for you this year. I’m sorry that, this year, I’ve gotten too caught up trying to be a mother and paid too little attention to celebrating my own. You expect nothing, but you deserve the world.

But this I can tell you, as the wisest of women once told me, “YOU are an amazing mother.”

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Momma for all that you do. I Love You…

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Tips for a Joyful Move

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Over the past few years, I have moved more times than I care to remember. From hopping around college housing (including a stint overseas) to apartments in the Washington, DC area, a travel trailer that took us to Florida and back to Tennessee, a few houses there and now up to Illinois. By now you would think I’d be an expert, addicted to the art of packing and unpacking and creating new abodes. In honesty though, while I love new experiences and places, I really hate the process of moving.

I’ve finally found that there are a few things that help me keep my sanity, and keep tears to a minimum, when drowning in bubble wrap and boxes.

  1. Purge Everything – Before you start packing, take a day and go through all of your stuff and get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need or love. Then do it again the next day. With a fresh eye, day by day go through your things until you’ve narrowed it down to manageability. I have to admit, this process is really hard for me. While I’d like to be a minimalist, I tend to err on the side of hoarder – finding it hard to part with that sweet birthday card or that shirt that I might decide to wear in a year. But it’s so refreshing… and you don’t miss the stuff nearly as much as you would think.
  2. Take the Time to Properly Pack  – In my younger years packing and procrastination went hand in hand, meaning that at the last minute I would just throw everything in non-sensical order into boxes. This caused a lot of heartache and shattered glass as things ended up, unsurprisingly, broken. Since we are now apparently adults and have acquired nice stuff and beautiful wedding gifts, with this move I took the time (and recruited my wonderful momma) to wrap and strategically pack breakables. Bubble wrap is your friend. Packing paper (more than you think you could possibly need) is your friend. And a mom who is much more knowledgeable in this field is most definitely your friend.
  3. Label, Label, Label – Again, throwing everything into unmarked boxes is not the most efficient or effective strategy (unfortunately it took me many moves to learn this). You will save yourself a lot of time and headaches on the other end (unpacking) if you take that little bit of extra effort to properly label. I prefer labeling specifics of a box, rather than simply “kitchen” or “living room,” so that I know where to find exactly what I’m looking for. This method helps to decifer which boxes actually need to be unpacked immediately in order for to cook pasta or sleep on clean sheets and which ones can wait patiently in a corner. Thus saving you from living in an endless sea of half-unpacked boxes.
  4. Unpack Everything – Unpacking is the more fun, but no less daunting, part of moving. This is where you get to organize and decorate and make your new house (or apartment or trailer) a home. I prefer to do this slowly, taking time to figure out where I want each piece. However slowly you do it though, it’s important to sort through each box. Confession: I failed to do this on our last move and we ended up with what we not-so-affectionately referred to as our “Room of Shame” – an unused bedroom that remained filled with unpacked boxes for the duration of our time living there. If there are boxes with momentos or seasonal items that you’re not using in the near future, fine, throw them in the basement or back of a closet. Otherwise, unpack those boxes baby! Anything you find you don’t need or have a place for, revert to #1 (toss it). Remember, just because you moved it hundreds of miles doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of it now.
  5. Be Really Really Gracious to Your Husband and Father (or whoever helps you move) – This point is especially important if you’re pregnant and can’t actually move much and your role consists mostly of watching them do the (literal) heavy lifting. Both Andrew and my dad were a Godsend. They quickly and without complaint managed to Tetris all of our stuff into a couple trailers, then drove hours (through snow) and unpacked everything on the other end. So yes, I am endlessly grateful for the help of these two great men! All that to say, when people offer to help you, accept their assistance with gratitude (a few beers will usually do the trick) and no matter how haphazard the packing job may look (see image above), trust their superior skills.

Though we hope to be here a little while, this will surely not to be our last moving adventure. With each move we learn a little more and it becomes slightly less painful. Teamwork is everything. If moving with a partner or family – work together, be patient with one another, and chip away at it bit by bit. You’ll get to that happy home dear friend!

A Season of Meaningful Sacrifice

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Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent in the Christian tradition. Growing up I remember Lent as a season of deprivation. Like many other Christian families, we carried on the tradition of giving up something for the 40 days of Lent – something that might not be the best for us but nonetheless brought pleasure. This sacrifice is meant to accompany a period of purity and enlightenment in preparation for the Easter holiday.

For many modern folks, including myself, the common sacrifice is something of the edible variety. Over the years I have given up everything from sweets to burgers to sodas to alcohol. But I can’t help but wonder – does giving up favorite foods really bring me any closer to purity and enlightenment? And what’s the point of giving something up for 40 days anyway?

Lent conveniently falls a couple months after New Years, well after many of us have fallen off the wagon with our well intentioned New Years resolutions. It’s a great opportunity to re-evaluate where we are with the ambitious goals we set to start the year. If we’ve gone off track, using the six weeks of lent to refocus our efforts and give up a bad habit or adopt good one lets us punch the reset button. We now have a measurable amount of time to work towards a specific goal.

The season of Lent also just happens to coincide with the the beginnings of spring – a season of rebirth and renewal. As we breathe in the fresh air of this new and beautiful season, we can breathe out our stale complacency by challenging ourselves to give up something significant. Think of it as spring cleaning.

But why the 40 days?

Though there are many biblical reasons, I don’t think that Lent should be limited to Christians. Across numerous faith traditions, 40 days is shown to be a spiritually significant amount of time. In both Judaism and Christianity, the great flood was said to be the result of 40 days of rain. Buddha achieved enlightenment after meditating under a tree for 40 days while Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days in preparation for God’s mission. And the ancient Egyptians believed that it took 40 days for the soul to be delivered from the body after death.

Beyond the spiritual and historical perspective, 40 days proves to be significant in a psychological sense. Psychologist claim that it takes on average 21-30 days to form a new habit. Since I’m a slow learner, 40 days seems the perfect amount of time to cultivate a better habit by giving up a vice.

Still, am I really going to accomplish much by giving up chocolate? Probably not, so this year I’d like to give up something that will truly benefit my spiritual health. There are many habits I could get rid of or adopt to grow my soul, but since Lent is about being able to consistently stick with it for 40 long days, I decided on just two:

1. Giving up Ingratitude – Gratitude has been linked time and again to happiness and positivity, so it’s probably time I stop being an ingrate in my daily life. I’d like to be more mindful and not take the simple daily blessings for granted. To accomplish this I’m starting a gratitude journal to record 3 things daily for which I am grateful.

2. Giving up Excuses – This is a broad one, so to keep it realistic I decided to narrow it down and focus on giving up excuses for writing. I long to be a great, or at least consistent, writer, yet I so often find myself making excuses for why I can’t write that day, then the next and the next – not enough time, I don’t have a good subject, someone else already wrote about it, etc. If I want to accomplish anything as a writer, making excuses is a habit I really need to kick and just get down to writing. To thwart the excuses I have committed to writing something new every single day. While I won’t post everything, my hope is that urging myself to write even just a few sentences daily will help me produce more and better content – finding my own truth through words.

Are you giving up anything for Lent? Will you join me on either of these challenges? I’d love to know!

Tell Me Something Lovely….

Somewhere along the way Andrew and I started this lovely little ritual. (Ok, let’s be honest, I started the ritual and Andrew begrudgingly participates). Every so often; or daily if he’s really lucky, I’ll simply say:

“Tell me something lovely…”

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This is my way of trying to refocus our minds on the positive by looking for lovely times we’ve experienced. As life spins around all of us and we scurry from one absent activity to the next, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all, and even easier to get stuck in the tough times that life inevitably brings.

But what if we just took one small second to stop and appreciate what each day brings – no matter how microscopic the day’s blessings may seem? Perhaps it’s that you have sight to see the beauty of this world, maybe it’s that you have legs with which to explore it, or at the very least you have awoken to see another glorious day. Any one of those is simply lovely.

So please, tell me something lovely in your life. And I’d love to know your secrets for cultivating positivity and gratitude.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!