Beautiful mess and all…

We all have things in our life that are the constant battle for us. For me, it is finding balance. I have my ups and downs. There are days and weeks when I nail it and others when I struggle horribly. I try to do too much, help too many people, my to-do list is too long. I want a clean house at the end of a weekend, clean laundry, my personal life caught up and in order before I start into my week of craziness and full days. I want to connect with people, listen, and do what I can to help. Sometimes though it means my life is a little out of whack. Learning to even out the teeter totter of my life is all part of how I continue to hone me.

At times I find an idea that helps me remember that I am not the only one that struggles with the adventure of learning more about myself. A recent example comes from Shauna Niequist’s blog post: “Glimpse:”

“But I am inching, and I’m learning so much, and the awkwardness is worth it and the fumbling is worth it and the growing pains are worth it, because every once in a while I feel something inside myself that I haven’t felt for a long time, and it feels like peace. And every once in a while I experience a moment of connection with Aaron or the boys that feels so much deeper than my old way of living used to allow.”

As well as from Oprah’s: “The Life You Want” tour, Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about wanting to remove the word: “balance” from vocabulary. She says:

“‘With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it’s become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they’re not doing right.’ She later says: ‘let go of the word. For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am,’ she says. ‘And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that’.”

So let’s all embrace our beautiful mess of a life. Enjoy it, soak it up. Let the dishes go, sit on your butt a bit more, have someone rub your feet, and just be you. Let go of what you did not get done today, or how much you might berate yourself for doing too much. It is what it is. Be you. Beautiful mess and all…

A desire to connect?

As a blogger, there are a few blogs that I frequent either daily, weekly, or whenever a post is published. I find inspiration in the ideas shared, the writing style, and sometimes just like reading a memoir might jog your memory to a special moment in your past so do posts from fellow bloggers. I found Shauna Niequist’s blog last year after reading her book: “Bread & Wine.”

I then wrote a blog post sharing the Blueberry Crisp recipe from her book. I cannot count how many times we have indulged in that fine dish. I need to make sure I have more blueberries in the fridge as it is the perfect fall treat, and it has been a little while since we had it for Sunday dinner just as Niequist does.

Niequist’s post on October 13 titled: “Using Technology to Connect” hit home for me. Specifically this line:

“Because scrolling isn’t the same as connecting. And connection is what we’re longing for.”

Oh how often I feel that when late at night I peruse Facebook or Instagram and scroll, sometimes in a mind numbing and voyeuristic way. What if instead of scrolling and scrolling, I chose to contact that individual and tell them I was thinking about them? Earlier in her blog post she says:

“When I feel the impulse to scroll through images and updates about other people’s lives, what I’m finding is under that impulse to scroll is a desire to connect.”

I have to agree. Why do we get so addicted to social media? Is it to see and be seen? Is it to connect? What aspect of our lives have we lost because our first means to communicate is sometimes the most disconnected from human interaction. It is the sterile, lifeless, cold version. If we want to bring life back to our worlds and share warmth and support in a time of need then stop scrolling, pick up the phone, go next door or down the hall, and connect.

Be sure to go back and read Niequist’s post. It might just change the way you think today.

Savor every conversation bite

I am always late. I could barely get out the door in the morning if Chris did not say: “I have your bag, phone, etc.” and “We need to leave in 5 minutes” in order to get to his or my first meeting. I do not remember always being late as a kid or even the first few years of my professional life. (Maybe someone from my past can tell me if they remember otherwise). I think I know why I am late for a few reasons. What I do not know is how to redirect myself so I am on time.

Feeling rushed for me in the morning is because there is always one more thing I can do. Respond to another email, or text, or just one more turn of Words with Friends. It might be because I feel uncomfortable and decide to change my outfit at the last possible minute, or I am having a bad hair day and it is taking just a bit longer to tame the mane. So you can see that there are a lot of competing priorities that make it challenging for me to leave the house!

I also have back-to-back meetings on many days of the week, and when one goes over it often creates a domino effect for the rest of my day. However, sometimes one meeting goes over because I am engrossed in a conversation with someone, I am focused on the issue at hand, and want to continue to listen. So does that make it bad for me to be late? Over the holiday I finished reading “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist, and while I jotted down quite a few quotes I would love to share, this one is so me:

“I want to really notice each meal, each bite, each conversation, instead of shoving food in my mouth, running out the door, promising someone we’ll connect again soon. I can always tell I’m on thin ice when my list of promises becomes way too long. I have so many intentions and plans, but I lose the ability to listen, to stay, to connect. I’ve been more ravenous and gluttonous than I’m proud of. Less is more is a great idea, but you wouldn’t know that from my calendar.” Page 168

I often have too much on my to-do list, eat lunch while working at my desk, and end up sucking the life out of my day. My first desire to is to be present with the other individual(s), listen to the topic, and find solutions or next steps, but as Niequist says are we really savoring each bite and each comment in our conversations? Is being late bad? Or do we need to shrink our to-do lists, do less and be more?

What do you think?

 

Pink shoes, bling, and your favorite sweater

Ah, I like me a good book. One that invigorates, makes me think of my life in new and different ways, and of course it is a bonus when I do not want to put it down. Shauna Niequist does it again with “Cold Tangerines.” I recently wrote about her book, “Bread and Wine” and shared her Blueberry Crisp recipe. (If you have not tried it, I can assure you that you are missing out.) Both books are memoirs that weave God and faith into them, but not in over the top ways. She shares about life’s triumphs and challenges through the lens of goodness. I loved this analogy she shared comparing bling to how we should live our life each day:

“Today, humble Today, presents itself to us with all the ceremony and bling of a glittering diamond ring: Wear me, it says. Wear me out. Love me, dive into me, discover me, it pleads with us.” Page 10

As someone who is abusive to jewelry, constantly breaking clasps or earrings, I love, love, love this. I am constantly telling Chris that I do not know how I did it but there is a large-sized chunk taken out of my ring, and I do not remember what I must have hit to dig out such a crater. Call me absentminded. Oh well. If we were to approach life in the way I am with jewelry, my grandma would call me a bull in a china shop. Not a bad way to look at it, as it means we are living to the fullest. No dainty white gloves, tip toeing through each day.

I will leave you with another quote from Niequist that inspired me:

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater.” Page 234

Two nights ago I went to see a preseason Blazers game and saw such interesting individuals walking around the Moda Center. One especially caught my eye because she was dressed in the brightest neon pink from head to toe. In my opinion she looked hideous, not so much from the color, but what was not covered from her outfit. However, even though I made that judgement, a large grin spread across my face, because I thought: “She is wearing hot pink shoes, and does not care. You go girl.” Wear pink, sing with the windows down, and make God laugh, or whatever makes your heart sizzle.

 

Mmm…crispy.

Blueberry Crisp. Yes, I know there are a ton of blueberry crisp recipes out there that are to die for, but I have found one that seems to be as healthy as you can get. The one ingredient that may be the most sinful is maple syrup.

Last week I told you about one of my favorite books of 2013, “Bread & Wine” by Shauna Niequist. Over the weekend I made her Blueberry crisp recipe (which is vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free). It is amazing. Some blueberries, nuts, oats, olive oil, and maple syrup and tada! Bliss. I have to say there is a little bit left, and as I write this I want to quietly creep upstairs and finish it without Chris hearing me. Or, I could take the remaining blueberries (not enough for a full recipe) and divide out what I need to make another small batch tonight.

What I loved when I read the background about this recipe is that she used to make it every Sunday night for her family, no other meal, no veggies, just the Blueberry crisp over homework. Wow. She even mentions on her blog that it is suitable for breakfast, and it really is just like having granola and fruit, warmed. I wanted to share a quote from the beginning of “Bread & Wine” as it made me think about what I might want for my last supper meal, right now that Blueberry crisp would be on the list, with some goat cheese in almost any form, caramel, french fries (freshly made, with a grazing of salt)…oh this could lead to a totally different blog:

“For the record, my last-supper meal looks a bit like this: first, of course, ice-cold champagne, gallons of it, flutes catching the candlelight and dancing. There would be bacon-wrapped dates oozing with goat cheese, and risotto with thick curls of Parmesan and flecks of black pepper. There would be paper-thin pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella and slim ribbons of basil, garlicky pasta and crusty bread and lots of cheeses, a plumy pinot noir and maybe a really dirty martini, because you might as well go big on your last night on earth. There would be dark chocolate sea salted toffee and a bowl of fat blackberries, and we’d stay at the table for hours and hours, laughing and telling stories and reaching for one more bite, one more bite.” Page 12-13

Here is Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp recipe:

4 cups blueberries (or any fruit, really)

Crisp topping:

1 cup old fashioned oats

½ cup pecans

½ cup almond meal (available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, health food stores, or made by putting almonds in food processor until fine, but before they turn to almond butter)

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp salt

Instructions

Pour four cups fruit into 8×8 pan. Spread crisp topping over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes, or longer if topping and fruit are frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

Serves 4