Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What to Say?

What to say when you've already said it on Facebook?

Maybe I need to stop posting on Facebook so much so I'll have something new to say here. Or maybe I just need to get on that "take more pictures" goal and post those here. Or maybe I could go a bit deeper.

After all, this is a blog about my life, the things I am thankful for, the things that I am learning, the things that challenge me...


Here goes. A recap of one of my Facebook statuses (stati?) today.

Sigh... I just enjoyed my (late) lunch outside on the deck (in a sweater), sitting in a sunbeam, breathing fresh air, listening to birds chip and coyotes yip with a purring cat on my lap after spending the morning on the phone/Internet with a variety of amazing women from all over the world. Yup, it's a good day.

Truth be told, I needed that. All of it.

Last Friday I received news that left me, well, bummed out. Disappointed. Sad. Something I had been hoping and praying for and started to believe was going to happen simply cannot happen. It took me a full day to let it go, even though the search for Plans B-Z started almost immediately. I don't like it. But I'm a big girl and I can deal with it. I've got the panties to prove it.

I had a full weekend so I didn't really have time or space to process my thoughts. I wrote a blog post about my disappointment - but it's still in my drafts and it may remain there forever. You see, I can't publish it because it isn't right yet. I desperately want to say that this, like so many other disappointments in my life, will turn out EVEN BETTER than what I wanted. I can't say that. At least not yet.

I DO believe that Plan B will be good, great even, and I have moved past melancholy, but there is just no replacement for what was supposed to be.

I found encouragement in community, refreshment in creation, motivation in action.

My soul  has been fed. I am thankful. It was a good day.

I guess that's what I needed to say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Our realtor called Monday afternoon.

Our house is not for sale.

But two years a year and a half ago it was. We were overwhelmed with all the work involved in living on an acreage. Kelly (I'd say "we", but I'm being honest here) had pulled the well pump twice in a week, replacing it completely the first time only to discover the second time that the problem (all along) was just a broken wire. Our lawn takes more than a few hours to mow every time. Our house is 40 years old and needed a LOT of work. We had a huge garden and TWO large berry patches, not to mention several flower beds. We were tired. Of putting all our time and energy and resources into this property. We wanted a new house that didn't need any work. We wanted a bigger (think twice the size - literally) house. We figured we should be able to get a house less than three years old, on a half-acre lot (still big enough to not have a clear view of the neighbor's bathroom) with a mountain view for the same price we could sell for. A straight across trade, if you will.

We spent months in limbo, looking at houses we deemed acceptable. Bigger. Newer. "On the hill." We swayed in our opinions. A lot. Move to town? Stay on the acreage? Back and forth like the pendulum we swung. It frustrated me. A lot.

Moving back to town would mean the girls would be closer to their friends, we would be closer to the majority of our friends, I would have less driving to do, car-pooling for extra-curricular activities would be a breeze. Water issues would be the town's, not ours. As would septic problems. We would have a fraction of the yard work to do. The house would be twice the size and have at least one more bathroom (and with two teenage girls on the horizon, who wouldn't want a third bathroom?) And the house would not be sucking up our every last available penny, it would already be "perfect."

We thought we had the PERFECT buyers. Her grandparents built this house. It seemed God-ordained. We accepted an offer less than we planned because of the sentimentality of it all. The deal fell through. Our second offer to purchase fell through. We decided we would not put an offer on another house until we had something a little more concrete. And then we discovered that God had other plans for us - and they most definitely did not involve moving back to town.

Then God provided almost the exact funds we needed to do the work that REALLY needed to be done on our little old house. Windows (even a new one facing West so we can enjoy the sunset every day!), more exterior insulation and siding. Another affirmation that he was in control, providing what we really needed, and that we should stay put.

Not everyone considers trees to be "a view", but I do. Trees and water take me directly back to some of my  happiest childhood memories - hunting with my dad and family camping and picnic trips. Nothing makes me feel closer to God than creation. Call me a country hick or redneck woman, I don't care. I love the outdoors.

Did I mention that we CHOSE the location of our acreage on purpose? We wanted our children to attend the very small school they attend. (I even successfully lobbied the school's transportation division to have the busing boundaries changed to accommodate this desire.) We liked that we are only 1/2 mile from the highway. We LOVE all our trees and our creek that only runs in the spring. We even believe that God provided this place for us at just the right time - for a number of reasons that I won't bore you with.

Yet, when our realtor called to tell us that he has a couple who are interested in our acreage, we considered selling. (See paragraph five.) Given that they approached us, we would have more bargaining power. And we found a house in a rural subdivision much closer (even though we're currently only a 15 minute drive) to town. Could we get what we want for our house? How much is it worth - this home we've put so much work and money into renovating, this location we prayed for with the very characteristics that we love so dearly, this piece of land I have described as heaven on earth, this gift we were given? I bet we could get what we want...

The view out of the new, completely unnecessary window.

Our realtor called Monday afternoon.

Our house is not for sale.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stocking Up - Saving Time in the Kitchen

The mercury dropped below -40 here last night. (Yep, it's the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius.)

Until now our winter has felt more like spring. We barely have any snow and our temperatures were quite mild. It's the kind of weather that leads me to dream of camping and gardening and pulling the patio set out of storage... not filling my freezer.

Until today.

Did I mention -40?? Brrrr. Too cold to go outside, though the sun sure is beautiful today on the little snow we have, I woke up inspired and set on filling my freezer. The girls were home (buses don't run when it hits -40) so I thought this would be a great way to spend the day. Fortunately, I keep a well-stocked pantry and cold room. Otherwise such impromptu batch cooking just wouldn't work. In fact, my Sweet Man had to go to town today so I sent him to the grocery store with a list... and then I emailed to add a couple more things... and then a phone call. (!) As luck would have it, he was still in town... all. three. times. He rocks.

What did I make? Bread - four loaves, 16 slow cooker/oven ready meals (more on this in a bit) and muffins. I have been making home made bread for a couple years now - ever since my Sweet Man and parents pooled my Christmas gift and bought me the most amazing kitchen tool. A Bosch. A mixer, food processor and blender all in one. I love it. I've been making four loaves of bread each week or so ever since. It also makes a HUGE difference when it comes time to grate 10 cups of cheese or slice 20 onions.

Multigrain Bread - Makes 4 Loaves
4 cups water (I use 3 cups tap water & 1 cup boiling water)
3/16 (1/8 + another half of that) cups yeast
1/2 cup oil
4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey (or sugar)
5 cups multigrain (or whole wheat) flour
app. 4 cups white flour
1/8 c. ea.: flax seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, wheat germ, sesame seeds, ground flax (whatever you want here, really. I add this before the white flour and then adjust the white flour depending on how many other things I add.)
Proof yeast. (Add a bit of the honey to the water and then add the yeast to make sure it is active. Takes about 5 minutes.) Mix all ingredients and let rise for about an hour. (I put mine in a metal bowl, cover it with a towel and then put it in the oven with the light on to rise.) Form into loaves and let rise (same way) for another hour. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or 375F for 20-25 minutes.

My sister-in-law gave me a copy of The Big Cook for Christmas a year ago and it has been well-used. This is where I got the idea and recipes for most of my slow cooker/oven-ready meals. I made four meals each of four different recipes (BBQ Beef, Hamburger Soup, Lazy Lasagna, Tomato Herb Chicken). There are many good recipes in this cook book - and, as always, a few that just were not keepers. The only new recipe to us today was the Tomato Herb Chicken - and I just happen to have a batch in the oven at the moment. 

Back to The Big Cook. The idea is that you get together with friends for a day (someone has to do all the planning and shopping beforehand) and make a PILE of meals together and then you each go home with a bunch. I've done it more than a few times with varying numbers of other women and what I can tell you is this:

1. It is easiest to do this in someone's home. (As opposed to, say, in a church kitchen.) A larger kitchen is nice (especially if you have quite a few ladies participating), but in someone's home you are more likely to be able to "raid a cupboard" should a miscalculation of ingredients occur. And it happens.

2. Choosing a menu can be tricky. Different families have different preferences and it can be challenging to find a number of recipes that everyone agrees on. There can also be other challenges to overcome - like childcare (definitely best to have small children looked after off-site. It's a busy day and there are many sharp utensils involved.) and (as in my case) someone who prefers to cook with wild meat (because of the cost effectiveness and low fat content). Compromise is the answer here. Say you're making four of each recipe. If your friend likes a recipe you don't care for, then she could take all of those and you could take all four of a different recipe you prefer.

3. While I LOVE The Big Cook, I have come to the conclusion that this concept of doing all the prep (not much is actually cooked) in bulk with a group of friends (or alone) can be applied to any of your favorite recipes. You will want to be aware of foods that do not freeze well - like large chunks of potatoes. We also don't care for previously frozen bell peppers so we leave them out of any recipe that calls for them until it's time to cook it.

4. The neat stacks of Ziploc bags don't take much room and are ideal for maximizing space in small and or trailer freezers.

5. Meat can be safely frozen, thawed and re-frozen.

6. The idea of having a couple people work on the planning together may sound appealing - but beware. You want to be sure that you go over every ingredient for every recipe. When more than one person is involved in this process ingredients may be missed. Trust me.

7. These are great to have on hand for busy days and for those times that pop up when you'd like to take a meal to someone else.

8. When defrosting these meals, it's best to put them in a large bowl or on a cookie sheet with a lip. Sometimes they spring leaks.

9. These meals can be thrown into the slow cooker frozen solid (as long as you can make them fit) and will turn out just fine, as long as they aren't rushed for time. (I.e. You will be away all day but forgot to take it out the night before.)

10. If you plan carefully and shop sales, this can be quite cost and time-effective (even if you're buying all your meat), not to mention a lot of FUN!

Today I spent 3.75 hours in the kitchen (not including clean up) making 16 meals and four loaves of bread. That's less than 15 minutes per meal. And I did it alone. (My sous-chefs were stolen away by my Sweet Man who lured them to the basement with Star Wars. Worked for me.) Not bad, eh?! I didn't calculate cost today because it was impromptu and because I've been collecting ingredients for meals I like and knew I'd make again for a long time, but cost per meal can be quite low, depending on what you make. Ground beef meals are obviously cheaper than chicken or roasts or recipes with a lot of cheese in them... cheaper yet when the ground meat you are using was the result of your husband's fall entertainment.

16 meals and 4 loaves of bread in 3.75 hours.

I also planned to make Clean Eating Apple Cinnamon Muffins and Clean Eating Chocolate Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffins. The Apple Cinnamon Muffins turned out very well. I did make a couple substitutions though - canola oil for safflower oil and whole wheat all purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour (things that can't be found in our small town). We loved them. Unfortunately, when I was starting the Chocolate PB muffins, I realized I am out of Baking Soda. So much for my well-stocked pantry.

The girls enjoying a taste of my double batch of Apple Cinnamon  Muffins.

The weather forecast is calling for a low of -39C and windchills of -50C tonight. I'll bet the girls and I get another chance to finish the kind of baking they're more interested in (dessert type) tomorrow... Maybe my Sweet Man will go to the store for me again...? ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Gift

From here (Jan. 15, 1998)
... to here (Dec. 2011)
Dec. 2011

...in the blink of an eye!

You are the man who stole my heart, who calms my nerves, who's got my back. You challenge me when I need challenging and help me with everything I take on. You're the elbow grease to many of my big ideas, and the strong leader our family needs.

We've gone from young to mature (unless there are Nerf guns involved), from one end of the province to the other and a few places around the world, and I can't wait to see where else life takes us.

There is no way I could have possibly known the depth of the significance in store for me when we chose this for "our song."  Thank you. You are one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given.

It really is a fairy tale come true.

Happy Anniversary, Kelly. I love you!

(*For my American friends who may not be able to access the link, the song is Collin Raye's The Gift. You can see the lyrics here.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Power of a Song

The memory is a strange thing, don't you think?

A song, a scent, a taste... one little thing, expected or not, has the ability to take us back in an instant.

This afternoon my daughters put in some CDs for us to listen to while we played cards. I wasn't paying attention to what they put in. They dug out a few that have been neglected for years. When Tiggerific (from Tigger.Mania Disney CD) started playing, I found myself in the past, to a time when two chubby-cheeked toddlers would beg to hear the CD again, and again, and again...

Oh how they LOVED their Tigger! That was nine years ago already. NINE!

I am feeling particularly nostalgic today, so I couldn't help but smile and remember their cute little moves - and then phone my sister to play the song for her.

So many more memories to be thankful for, so many more gifts to remember fondly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Motivation...

It's easy to be lazy.

It's easy to get up in the morning, settle in by the fire with my coffee and my laptop and or a good book,  cuddled under a cozy quilt.

It's easy to stay there FAR too long.

It's easy to waste the time I tout as oh-so-precious.

My time IS precious. It is my single most valuable possession. There are a mere 1440 minutes in every day and I get to choose how I spend them. In my heart of hearts I deeply desire to steward my time wisely. Yet, like most people, I am no stranger to sloth-like behavior. 

So what should I do when I suddenly realize that I have wasted nearly half of my day (or more)? The way I see it, I could continue wasting my day, or I could get up and get busy! Think about it, this applies to other areas of life too... does one slip up in dietary intake mean the whole day is written off so I might as well just eat junk? Or do I have the power and ability to stop it right then and there? If I wake up in a foul mood, do I have to continue like that for the whole day?

On good days, it's at the very moment when I realize that I could be spending my time more wisely that this soundtrack plays in my head. (My apologies if any of you are offended by any part of the video.)

I DO have the power! I CAN do that task that has been hanging over my head for weeks and opening the door for all sorts of negative self-talk. I CAN get out of the chair and lace up my runners. I WILL put down the chips and salsa. I CHOOSE to be a nicer person to be around.

And you know what I've found? I've found that by getting up and take that first step, by crossing one item (no matter how insignificant) off The List, I feel like I've achieved something and I'm suddenly eager to do more.

The first step truly is the hardest to take. 

I'm out of my "chair" (now)... are you?

(P.S. I am in NO way saying that I think it's wrong to take a day off sometimes.... just sayin'...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Progress Looks Like

I've often wondered what progress looks like.

I've come to the conclusion that the answer depends entirely on the task at hand... and perhaps one's personality.

I am a perfectionist. There, I said it (and posted it for all the Internet to see!). While I have learned to ease off on some things (I no longer expect my children to sort their toys into small individual bins. Instead I am happy if they all hit the same bin and are not spread out all over the floor. But that only took a week or two and happened when they were toddlers!), I am still learning when it comes to others.

Perfectionism can be paralyzing. There are times when, if I can't do it all and if I can't do it the way I envision it, I hesitate to even begin. Other times, I don't allow myself time to do things I enjoy because there I things I "need" to do. (We all know that housework never ends.) Anal? Compulsive? Neurotic? If you were to call me any of those, it wouldn't be the first time I'd heard them.

So... what if: I can't lose 5, 10, 20 pounds overnight? ... the stitching is off by 1/16 of an inch? ... my floors look a little dusty when the sun hits them or there are splatters on the bathroom mirror? ... I think of better wording after hitting "Publish"? What if things aren't just the way I'd like them?

Have I made progress if the task isn't completed perfectly? Have I made progress if I stepped up to give the child the argument she was looking for but then apologized for not keeping my cool (read: being the adult) and asked for her forgiveness? Has my husband made progress if the kitchen is only half-tiled?


So I'd like to share what progress looks like in our house today:

Letters in the name that are spaced further apart than I'd like them. (I did not do the logo, just the name.)

Half an hour on the treadmill - while downloading running apps!

30 minutes of sewing on a project that has been in progress for 9 months.

Reading the right books - and keeping up with friends both near and far.

A half-tiled kitchen!! (Hopefully the wall to the right will be complete tomorrow!)
A great little tool.
Yes, I used the timer method again today. I'm really quite enjoying the fact that if I achieve 30 minutes of focused work on a task then I have accomplished it! (As opposed to not feeling that I've achieved anything because the project may not be complete.)

Progress also looks like a mother and daughter in a tear-filled embrace, because the mother has just asked forgiveness for not keeping her cool... but I'll leave that picture to your capable imaginations.

Perfection is a myth. There is not a single perfect person here on earth. I think I'll choose to be happy with progress from now on.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Winds of Change

It has been incredibly windy up here in the great not-so-white north this winter. Today was no exception.

But, while it's true, I'm not really talking about the weather. And today I'm not talking about my state of mind or heart either. When I walked in the house from work today, this was the first thing I noticed:

Kelly started his days off today and he spent it not fishing, not working in the garage - but removing the tiles!! What a great surprise! More renovations on the go for 2012 in the Morton household! Along with new kitchen tiles (which we purchased a couple months ago but haven't had time to install until now), we plan to finish changing out our old wooden (brown) closet doors for white ones, finish painting the main floor (we only half finished because we needed to finish the pantry reno), and finally paint our only-primed baseboard and trim. And if we get that done before gardening season (ha!) then I have plenty-o-dreams for landscaping and gardening.

I'll be sure to post a picture of the "After" shot when it's done, but since you may not be familiar with the "Before," here it is:

(Brand-new-to-us 40-year-old 1000 sq ft home on 8.6 glorious, tree-and-creek-surrounded acres of heaven on earth, June 2007. The original "Before.")

We've come a long way already. Completed renovation projects include: removal of those obnoxious, right-in-the-way cupboards in the kitchen (within two days!), new appliances and counter tops; deck (front and side); basement walls, basement bathroom, basic restructure (moved a hallway) and flooring in the basement; new windows, more insulation and siding; wood stove; updated trim and closet doors; and a couple of paint jobs in the kitchen (it took a couple tries to get my desired color). And then there's the outdoor stuff...

Yep, the winds of change, they are a-blowin'. But this year, we've vowed to complete all in-progress projects before starting new ones.

Hmmm... if I count each of these as gifts (as I should!), I'm startin' to get up there! Time to go get that notebook and pen. Maybe this post has a bit to do with my state of heart after all. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect?

It's easy to go through my day with blinders on, not looking for things to be thankful for.

 New habits take time to create. Three months, some say. I'm on day eight. I'm still working on improving my "stinkin' thinkin'" (negative, untrue thoughts), still learning to look for gifts to be thankful for, even in the mundane. Thanks to the accountability I created for myself when I started this blog, I've had at least a couple new items every day. I'm thankful for that, because without it, it would be VERY easy to just go through the motions of life. Even finding one or two new items to count as blessings each day is progress. Big change doesn't happen over night, right?

So today I choose to be thankful for my progress, thankful for the accountability that keeps me working toward my goal. It's not that there haven't been many great gifts today (squealing baby laughs in the nursery at church this morning, a great visit with a mom who stayed with her child who would not be left, and a fabulous afternoon at a hay ride and wiener roast with the girls), it's just that I haven't been feeling especially joyful the past couple of days... and tonight in my reading I found the answer.

"While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving." Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I hadn't been thanking God for those gifts as I received them. The good news is that it's never too late to thank God for His gifts. As I sit here tonight contemplating my day, my progress, and giving thanks for all these things and more, I can literally feel my attitude and mood shifting. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but it really is that simple.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Six years ago we moved eight hours away from most of our family, yet we've never felt more at home. Why? Because we're part of a great community of people who have become like family, many of whom are also far from their families. 

"Friends... the family you choose." ~ Unknown. Gift #11.

Happy birthday, Kate! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Got time?

I tried a new time management technique today.

As I mentioned in my original post, I am often in awe of how quickly time passes. Part of my mission to live more fully is spending the time I have wisely. If fully immersing oneself in a moment essentially extends that moment, then focusing on a single task at a time must mean greater efficiency (as opposed to my previous line of "multi-tasking is best" thinking). I like efficiency.

If you were a fly on my wall any day prior to today, you would have seen constantly open tabs on my laptop for Facebook and email. You would have seen that I generally accomplished quite a bit in a day, but that I almost always responded to emails and Facebook posts within minutes... and while not quite as bad as the Mom with a muffin, I regularly interrupted one task to do another "while I was thinking about it."

The concept of "chunking" my time is not new, the action is. I know that doing something for one afternoon does not mean I've created a new habit, but it's a start and I'm telling the cyber-world about it so that I have some accountability.

What have I learned so far?

1. 20 minutes is just not long enough for most tasks. I quickly upped that time to 30 minutes. We'll see how that goes, and I think that some tasks (quilting and responding to email, for example) will just require additional consecutive time slots. However, for a woman's brain (the first 2:15 minutes explain it) that is adjusting to this new method, I think I will stick to 30 minute segments so that I can take care of some of those thoughts that pop up without causing the electrical currents to short circuit.

2. I need to have a notepad handy at all times so I can make note of the things that come up that would have previously distracted me.

So, here's to creating new and improved habits, to finding ways to make them work for me and to making the most of the time I've been given.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How many times can I be thankful for the same thing?

Or is it a new gift if it's in the same category on a different day?

Considering how many times the mere sight of creation makes me feel in awe of God and worshipful, I'm going with the latter. No two sunsets are ever exactly the same.

#6. Sunshine on snow.

#9. New windows.

I'm not sure how can anyone look at creation and deny the existence of a creator.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

An unexpected "snow" day. Freezing rain last night caused dangerously icy roads and cancelled buses, meaning the girls would get to stay home. The phone call came at bedtime last night. They were elated.

I was not.

Between our vacation and Christmas holidays, we've had an entire month off - and it's not that I haven't enjoyed my time with them. I have, very much. It's not even that I didn't want them around today. It's that as much as I love unscheduled, laid-back, do-what-we-want-when-we-feel-like-it time, I need routine. My internal wiring demands it.

While they were in school yesterday, I spent the day getting my house back in order - doing laundry, cleaning and padding the pockets of the owners of Costco. A start, but just barely.

Today was going to be the day. Although I was tired, today I was going to get back in the saddle, clean out my Inbox, get back into the groove of my volunteer work and take care of some important tasks that have been sitting idle for the past month. Didn't happen. There was no way any of it could happen - my #1 supporter was away from the wee hours of the morning and will not return until late tonight. Today could not go as I had hoped. Disappointment.

Plan B. I would do something I enjoy with the girls. We would work together to digitally scrapbook our vacation. Yeah, that sounds like fun! While trying to set up the basement computer, the wireless keyboard decided it had a mind of its own, excited children were impatient, and there was a huge, sticky mess all over the table I was trying to work on (that I had asked them to clean up three times already.) How many times do I have to ask them to clean up their messes? Frustration.

Then the phone rang.

A commitment from two years ago lingers. I thought I wrapped up all the loose ends months ago. Not so. It's important, it's urgent -- and it's my responsibility to make sure it happens or the consequences could be undesirable at best. Stress. I thought I had dealt with this very issue, but my follow up was inadequate. Phone calls. More stress. Harsh words directed at me. Children interrupting and wanting my attention while I was on the phone. Blood pressure rising, tears threatening. Not my best performance, true, but not failure either. Am I really cut out for leadership? Insecurity.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Here I am on this journey to find joy in situations, and I am clearly not feeling the love. Whose fault is that? We are only capable of feeling one emotion at a time. We get to CHOOSE that emotion. The only way to fight emotion is with emotion.

I choose joy.

It was time to start that list of 1000 gifts. The girls question. I explain, they join. This is the woman I want to be. This is the mom I want to be. I've always been convicted that the best way to lead is by example. Good, bad or ugly, it always works. This is the direction I want to lead in.

The rubber met the road today.

And we took off with a squeal of delight.

(Gift #3: Groovin' with my girls.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Voices In My Head

Already I am struggling with this blog.

Who knew it would be so difficult to find my own voice? Last night I had many thoughts rolling around in my head to go with my picture. Three different blog posts, all deleted. I was trying too hard. Not one was my voice. The man I love gently reminded.

"Who are you writing this for?"

Right. I am writing this for myself. I am not writing this to impress other people. If I'm being honest, though, there's a part of me that would be gratified if someone - anyone - was inspired by something I said... but that is not the purpose of this. My intention is to grow personally.

I started to pray, "Lord, what do YOU want me to say? What is it that you want me to learn today?" And then these thoughts came. Write about this. Write about your challenges. The purpose of this blog, after all, is to share my lessons, my journey, and I have always expressed myself best through writing.

So what am I learning today? How to find my own voice. It's shocking, really, to hear all the different voices in my head. (Yes, there are many. Yes, I heard that. No, I'm not insane.) Those voices are all there for a purpose. Good, bad or indifferent, they help shape who I am. But my purpose is to be me, and I don't sound exactly like them.

I know who I am, my identity is not in question. But what do I sound like? My intention is to be open, real, honest. Maybe even raw. I am thankful for my struggles because they mean I am learning, growing, becoming.

This is my journey. This is my voice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A piece of joy for the last day of holidays.

(Yes, between giggles, girl talk and guffaws, we finished!)


I am often in awe of how quickly time passes. I frequently lament about how busy I am -- and while I don't personally set New Year's Resolutions, I do regularly resolve to live "in the moment." While there is no way to stop the clock, it seems I knew years ago that the only way to slow it down is to immerse yourself fully in what you're doing at the moment.

Some of you know me. Some of you know that is not one of my strengths, that while I may have *said* it, I rarely achieved it.

I used to pride myself in my ability to multi-task. Amidst one task, my mind would leap to the next - and the next, and the next and the next, never fully focusing on anything. And when I was intensely focused, interruptions frustrated.

A dear friend recently gave me a copy of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Wow. I want to simultaneously devour it like a starving lion with fresh kill and savor it like the last piece of Christmas fudge. Every word in this book is speaking directly to me. If I were to underline meaningful sentences, the book would resemble the first draft of an article on an editor's desk. From this book:

"Thanksgiving makes time.

Really? Give thanks and get time? Give thanks... slow time down with all your attention -- and your basket of not-enough-time multiplies into more than enough time."

Enter A Moment With Mel. This is my journey to savor every moment. To BE where I am. To focus on the blessings in every situation, to slow the relentless ticking. Join me, won't you?