5 Questions to Ask When You’re Struggling With Comparison

I tend to see comparison as a doorway to all kinds of nasty feelings like jealously, insecurity, and discouragement. When I head down that path, and finally catch myself, I feel even worse, because I know it’s such a poor use of my time to get caught in the comparison trap.

But what if comparison could became an opportunity, instead of just something to feel guilty about? What if catching ourselves in comparison was a warning bell to stop and consider more deeply where the need for comparison was coming from?

There are actually some helpful clues we can discover in comparison, if we ask ourselves a few questions:

1) How am I outsourcing my value and worth?

Often comparison happens because we feel the need for a measuring stick. Am I doing enough? Am I doing well enough? Am I enough?

When we look around at what others are doing as a way of answering those questions, we’re outsourcing our measure of success or happiness. It means that somewhere along the way, we’ve disconnected from asking ourselves what we really want or value or hope to gain, and we’ve stopped going to God to find out what He desires for us.

Comparison is like an alarm that tells us we need to get back to quiet time with Jesus, asking Him and searching inside ourselves to evaluate how we’re doing and if we’re staying true to our deepest values, instead of looking to others as a measuring stick.

2) What does comparison reveal about my deep longings?

Wanting the rewards others are enjoying without putting in the same effort myself is just “longing for my neighbour’s things”, and can lead to jealousy, but it’s also possible for it to stir up a positive desire to try harder, accomplish more, and push ourselves because we see others doing it, so we know it’s possible. Sometimes we don’t recognize our longing for something until we see someone else enjoying it.

This happened to me a couple of years ago when I was meeting with a couple of friends for a Bible study night. I still saw myself as being in “baby recovery mode” after having Everett, and although I was doing devotions regularly, they felt pretty lackluster, and I felt like I didn’t really have the time or energy to put more effort in. But my friends were excited, passionate, and on fire, and I actually started feeling a little envious of where they were at in their relationship with God.

I knew it was wrong to feel envy, but it was stirring up a longing for something good in me. I prayed about the way I was feeling, and asked God, “Why do they have all that excitement and passion? I want it too.” And the words that clearly came into my mind were “Come and get it.”

Suddenly I realized that God wasn’t withholding anything from me, it was me who wasn’t putting in the time and making it a priority.

I started setting my alarm earlier, and getting up regularly before the rest of my family, and I started seeing God doing some cool things in me, too.

Sometimes we need other people to spur us on, and motivate us with their actions and example. Instead of comparing myself to others and feeling bad about myself, I can see what is possible for others, and know there is enough to go around for all of us. It can become an inspiring call to action, and a reminder of what is available to me if I also choose to put in the effort.

3) Am I looking at the full picture?

Often, when we compare ourselves to others, we’re only looking at bits and pieces – usually their best snippets, in comparison to our worst parts.

We see the perfect house, vacation, or perfectly behaved children, or the ability to juggle a job plus all the other stuff and make it look easy.

But there are many parts to other people’s lives that we can’t possibly see or know, and it helps to take a moment to ask ourselves if we are really, truly thinking about the whole picture, or just picking our favourite parts to envy and compare with our own life, from the surface we can see.

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I’ve had to do this a lot over the years with the different health challenges I’ve dealt with while having kids. I see other moms “doing it all”, and I feel tired just watching them. I can slip into thinking that I can’t do enough, and I’m failing my family by not accomplishing all that other women are able to.

But when I pull back and start to think about the bigger picture, things begin to look different – I have to do two and a half hours a day of physio exercises and stretches, which takes a big chunk of my time. I would probably be accomplishing a lot more if I had that extra time to do other things, too.

I have different priorities and make different choices, and I really love my life the way it is – our family has made the best choices we could with the situation we’re in. I don’t know how other moms spend their time, money, health, resources, etc, but I know that I feel good about my choices, so I can’t compare my situation to someone else’s. There’s a very different background to each of our big pictures.

4) How am I doing compared to where I used to be?

If you think back to where you were yesterday, or a year ago, or ten years ago, you’re probably doing awesome. The only life you can do anything about is your own, so think about how you can keep getting better at doing your own thing, instead of getting caught up in what others are doing.

5) Do I need to ignore this distraction?

If there’s nothing good or helpful to be gained from comparison, if the previous questions don’t bring up any beneficial thoughts or ideas, then it’s time to sharpen your focus, and get past the distraction of comparison.

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These questions can help us to determine if our thoughts of comparison come from a place that needs healing, or a deep longing for growth, and we can intentionally deal with whatever is the root cause.

In all of this, the biggest thing is to examine what is going on when comparison happens, and bring that emptiness to God. Ask Him if the longing is good, and something He wants for you, or if it’s something that needs to be laid aside to make room for a different way in which He wants to provide.

Jealousy and discontentment are always a sign that our thoughts have gone in the wrong direction, and it’s an opportunity to get back to the helpful feedback we can gain from comparison.

The most beautiful part in all of this is that God knows what you need, and what you long for. He knows the person you were created to be. Take your longings to Him, and He will show you the right path to take. He will make clear how much is enough, and that you are enough.

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in guilt about comparison, but rather use it as a reminder to go back to the One who made you, and wants to help you discern the best ways to pursue the life He means for you to have.

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These are the questions I’ve been asking myself, but I’d love to hear if you have any others to add, or experiences to share about how you’ve dealt with comparison. Please share!

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A Winner and a Staycation!

Hello, Friends!

I have a winner to announce today!! Carissa Rempel is the recipient of an Amazon gift card! I’ll send that out to you today! πŸ™‚

THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment this last week! All of the comments and interaction is what makes this week so much fun, and I have absolutely loved reading all the responses! Like always, I come away from this with all kinds of things I want to try!

One thing I was disappointed about was not having the time to respond to all the lovely comments. This last week was our family’s annual “staycation”, which was super fun and relaxing, especially over my birthday, but it did make things a bit tricky on the blog front!! But know that I enjoyed hearing from each and every one of you! I’ll just have to rethink scheduling for next year! πŸ™‚

In staycation news, it was a most enjoyable week, and if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it! It feels a bit like a weeklong weekend, except better! We make a list together as a family of all the things that would be fun to do, plan some special outings and special food, and do things we wouldn’t normally do. And we can splurge on stuff a bit, because it’s still much cheaper than going anywhere. Our kids love it! And there’s no work of packing and unpacking, and everyone sleeps great in their own beds!! It’s been great.

We’ve had a wonderful time, but it’s almost come to an end. I think Monday morning will be a bit rough for Everett when he realizes that Daddy has to go back to work! But fortunately, there are many beautiful weeks of summer left to be enjoyed.

What are summer family traditions you’d recommend?

Random Favourite Things

Today is the last day to leave a comment and enter the draw for an Amazon gift card! (So far we’ve covered food, health, books, and podcasts, so feel free to go back and comment on any of those posts.)

This post is for all the odds and ends that don’t fit in the other categories. πŸ™‚

The Greatest Showman and Soundtrack

This is a pretty unoriginal favourite, because this movie was huge this year, but I have to add it, because I don’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a movie this much. Anika and I went to see it in the theatre, and as we were leaving, I felt like I could turn right back and watch the whole thing over again immediately. That never happens to me!

The next week was Ben’s birthday, so we went to see it for a birthday date, and I got to enjoy it all over again.

So of course we needed to buy the soundtrack, which we all love, and listen to far too often, but even though I’m tired of the music by now, I can’t seem to stop myself!

Purple Shampoo

I often get asked about the blueish/lavender tinge to my hair, and this stuff is my secret weapon. I wash my hair about twice a week, and use this every time, and I love it. Even my hairdresser has been impressed with how well it tones my hair, and I love that it’s natural. Once I get tired of blue-toned hair, I’ll just use it less often, but for now it’s kinda fun. πŸ™‚

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

We’ve been making our own dishwasher soap for awhile, but it’s always bugged Ben that our glasses had water spots on them. He kept wanting to go back to regular dishwasher soap, but the cost difference was too painful! Also, I can’t stand it when dishwasher soap smells really perfume-y, because that just seems wrong when combined with food.

So I was delighted to find this recipe for dishwasher soap on the Wellness Mama blog which uses the same ingredients as our old recipe, but adds two more ingredients to get rid of water spots.

I order most of the ingredients on Amazon, except for Borax which is actually cheaper at our grocery store in town, mix up a huge batch to store in the pantry, and keep a smaller container to refill close to the dishwasher.

Makeup

I think I wrote about this brand of makeup last year, but what’s new this year is that I switched to a liquid foundation, and I really love it. I haven’t used a liquid in years, because the kind I used to have felt very heavy and made my skin feel claustrophobic! Pressed powder worked great, and I love this brand, but I knew I should probably switch, since I’m at that magical age when women are apparently supposed to stop highlighting their wrinkles with powder (or so I’ve read – no make-up expert over here!!), and use liquid foundation instead.

I was pleasantly surprised by how nice this stuff feels – no claustrophobic skin, and now I would wear this even if I didn’t have wrinkles. πŸ™‚ The cream concealer is also very nice. I like that it’s hard, and you soften it and apply it with your finger, so it’s easier to use small amounts instead of a liquid you squeeze from a container.

Alright, that’s my list! What are you loving right now? The contest will run until midnight, and I’ll draw a name tomorrow!

Favourite Podcasts

Today I’m sharing the podcasts I listen to the most. You guys, I loooove podcasts so much!! I listen to them every single day.

In the morning I listen to a message or devotional type of podcast. If I’m driving somewhere, I’ll listen to something, and every night when I have a bath, I fit one more in. There are so many good ones to enjoy, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot this past year from all the listening I’ve done. πŸ™‚

Someone asked me the other day, “How do you find good podcasts?” I didn’t really know how to answer that, because I’ve kinda stumbled across them and tried stuff out until I found my favourites!

I probably shared a few of these last year already, but if so, it means they’re so good, I’m still loving them a year later! I’ve also come across some new ones that are fantastic, so here’s what I’m listening to right now:

Bridgetown Church

I jokingly tell people that although Ben and I may attend the same church each Sunday, we attend different churches online. Bridgetown is mine, and I completely love the teaching. John Mark Comer is exactly the right balance of biblical teaching and instructing, and suggestions for practical application.

I read about this podcast on a blog a year or two ago, and was drawn to it because a new series on spiritual disciplines was just starting, and it was described as being very practical.

Since that time, this church has continued to put out such amazing teaching on all kinds of great topics, including:

  • prayer
  • hospitality
  • hearing God’s voice
  • fasting
  • identity
  • healing past relationships
  • silence and solitude
  • a variety of series working through books of the Bible (I’m currently working through Philippians

The Next Right Thing

This is the most beautiful podcast I’ve ever listened to. Emily P. Freeman is all about “creating space for your soul to breathe”, and she has such a gentle, life-giving way of sharing deep insights, stories, and tips for making better decisions.

The episodes are short – usually around 15 minutes, and are such a great way to start the day. I always feel more centered and calm after listening to one of these, and I look forward to each new episode.

Over It and On With It

This is my newest favourite, and Ben has told me not to say something is life-changing, because that’s too dramatic, but in this case, it’s actually true. I have listened to so many episodes that I find myself quoting Christine Hasslet regularly.

Each episode is a recording of a coaching call with different people, which I thought could be annoying when I heard the discription of this podcast, but most of the time, I find myself relating to the different callers, and really appreciating the insight Christine brings to people’s problems.

She promises to give “spiritual and practical advice” to each person, and I’ve used a lot of her techniques for changing thought patterns, but some of the spiritual stuff is a bit weird, so it takes a bit of discernment to sort through some of the advice she offers.

But for the most part, I absolutely love the stuff what she has to say. My favourite topics have included:

  • healing your past
  • getting over a victim mentality
  • figuring out the root cause of emotions
  • letting go of negative thought patterns
  • dealing with stress and anxiety

Respectful Parenting

I’ve decided that this will be the only parenting podcast I listen to. It’s hard to decide what to do when you’re taking in too much information, especially from conflicting sources, so I’m sticking with this one!

Janet Lansbury uses a very gentle but firm, respectful approach which I love. She talks a lot about making space for children to have the deep emotions, but staying present to help them work through the emotions in a healthy way. She presents practical suggestions for how to allow a child to make their own choices, and learn from the consequences.

Her focus is mainly on babies and toddlers, but I keep finding that her wisdom applies to older children and even adults!

The episodes I’ve found most useful include topics like:

  • children who refuse to get dressed
  • handling behaviour we can’t physically control
  • alternatives to “time outs”
  • tantrums
  • sibling relationships

Young House Love

This one is just for fun! I listen to this podcast when I’ve had a long day, and I want to listen to something that won’t require much thinking. John and Sherry have a popular home decor blog, but they started a podcast a couple of years ago, and it’s just fun to listen to a married couple talk about different projects they’re doing on their home, or the beach house they’re renovating. They also talk about budgeting, decluttering, books or products they’re loving, all kinds of stuff.

The Model Health Show

Every walk I went on this last winter was accompanied by this podcast. It is SO BORING to walk inside, but this podcast saved me! It makes me feel extra healthy to be doing something healthy and listening to something healthy.

This podcast is very well done – fascinating topics, well researched, entertaining, extremely practical. I love it all, and have learned a ton from it.

When I recommended it to a friend recently, she was a bit surprised by the picture, as she didn’t think it looked like something I would listen to, but I’m telling you, this one is a keeper! If you want to learn about anything health related, or want some extra motivation to stick with healthy habits, this will do it for you.

Episode topics I’ve been enjoying recently :

  • Healthy meal prep
  • Cutting out sugar
  • Self-esteem and self talk
  • Morning/evening routines
  • Better sleep
  • Preventing disease
  • Balancing hormones

Now I’m curious to hear what you’re listening to! Any podcasts you’d recommend? Leave a comment to have your name entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card at the end of the week! :)

Health Favourites

Hey, everybody! This is Day 3 in my week of birthday favourites. (You can read more about that here.) Leave a comment to let me know what you’re loving right now, and have your name entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card!

Today’s list of favourites is all about the healthy stuff. This has been a big year for me – I’ve made significant progress with my health, and discovered some awesome things that have improved my life considerably.

1) Epsom Salt Baths

I’ve read about Epsom salt baths for years, but never tried them, because I’ve hated baths for a long time. I remember liking them as a kid, but showers have been my thing since I was a teenager, and I always thought baths were too hot, too uncomfortable to sit so long on a hard surface, and too boring.

But around Christmas, I had a problem. I’ve taken magnesium to help me sleep for a few years now, but once the body has enough magnesium, taking it orally can cause diarrhea. I wanted a good sleep and all the benefits of magnesium , but I didn’t want to be running to the bathroom all the time! What to do??!

After some reading, it seemed the best solution would be Epsom salt baths, which have tons of health benefits besides giving the body magnesium and getting better sleep. They also help with detoxing and relaxing the muscles, but since my focus was on sleep, it came as a pleasant surprise when my body started feeling really good after a few days.

I solved the problem of sitting on a hard surface by folding up a towel, and the boredom problem by listening to podcasts (more on that a different day!). It didn’t take long before I eagerly anticipated my nightly Epsom salt bath.

A cup or two of salt is recommended, and I was delighted to find that Costco sells big jugs of it for a good price.

2) Homemade Magnesium Lotion

Magnesium lotion is amazing for sore muscles, but it’s expensive and it makes my skin itch. For awhile I was making my own magnesium spray (also itchy, but much cheaper), but then one day, I received a package in the mail. Tiffany fromDon’t Waste the Crumbs sent me a tin of her own homemade magnesium lotion, as a thank you for being part of the affiliate program for her Grocery Budget Bootcamp, which was really nice of her, and this stuff is AMAZING! It works better than any store bought lotion, and it doesn’t make me itchy.

Her recipe is found here, and I made my first batch recently, after finishing the container from Tiffany. I can’t go without this stuff!

3) Amino Neuro Frequency Therapy

OK, this is a weird one, but it’s so good that I have to share it! It’s a new therapy that I started last fall, and it’s made a huge difference for me.

I’ve been going to my muscle therapist, Nigel Jeffers, for many years already, and I’ve learned that when he tells me to try something for health reasons, I should just do it, no matter how weird it is (although Ben says if it ever involves jumper cables, I need to draw the line!). When Nigel started talking about discs that are stuck onto the body and instantly remove pain, it sounded too good to be true.

But sure enough, that’s how it works! Nigel finds the sore spots on my body, puts discs in specific places, and almost immediately, the pain is greatly decreased. I don’t understand all the science behind it, but what I’ve read is that the discs reset the frequency in the body in a similar way to ultrasound when it’s used for physical therapy, except the discs stay on for a few days to a few weeks, and fall off when they’re done, so the treatment is steady and much longer than ultrasound. It removes inflammation which allows the body to heal on its own.

They look like little round stickers, and people are always asking me about them, which would be fine, except it sounds so weird when I try to explain it!

Besides being able to feel an obvious difference, I’ve been able to see the effects when Nigel used an infrared camera to show the temperature coming off my body before and after treatment. The discs caused the heat to drop by a few degrees within minutes.

This was especially significant when Ben used disc therapy after his knee surgery last fall, and was able to stop pain killers one day after his surgery. According to his doctor and physiotherapist, he recovered from surgery much faster than the average person, which makes sense, since the inflammation was diminished, allowing for faster healing.

In the beginning, I had to go for a disc appointment every week, and had about 28 discs all over me, but now my body is feeling so much better that I only have to go every four weeks, and only got 8 discs last time.

Nigel says he also treats a lot of pets, which he enjoys because he says the dogs don’t have to be convinced that the discs will work, don’t say anything about a placebo effect, and are much more thankful for the treatment than people are!

4) Neuromovement

This one gives me great delight to share, because I discovered it through the comments from last year’s birthday favourites, and I’m so thankful someone took the time to pass it on! (Thanks, Laura!!)

But it’s another one that’s super hard to explain. It’s a combination of appointments with a therapist for treatment, and doing videos at home on my own, which basically teach how to move with greater ease and less pain.

You guys, I’ve tried A LOT of things for pain management, and this is unlike anything I’ve ever done. Within two days, I was feeling so much better. I’ve never had any stretch or exercise work that quickly or effectively.

It’s worked really well together with the disc therapy, because the discs take away inflammation and pain, but I still have bad habits in how I sit, walk, and move in general, so I continue to experience pain from the movements I make.

Neuromovement is making me change the way I move and teaching me new habits so that my muscles don’t hurt as much anymore. I love it so much, I do a movement video almost every day, just because it makes me feel so good! And my therapist, Brooke, is completely amazing, and I always enjoy my appointments with her!

5) Meditation

Around Christmas, I was coming across a few different podcasts about meditation, and was convinced it would be a great thing to try as a way of dealing with anxiety. I made it my New Year’s resolution to meditate every day, and I’ve stuck with it. I love it, and I never want to stop! I actually can’t imagine my day without it anymore, because I would feel so disconnected in my thoughts.

The concept is simple – I lie there and breathe in for five seconds, hold for five, breathe out for five, hold for five, and so it all over again, for about 15 to 20 minutes. The hard part is staying focused. But the best explanation I heard about meditation is that realizing your thoughts have strayed and bringing them back again is the whole point – you exercise your control over your thoughts by making the effort to bring them back to your breathing again and again.

I have felt more control over my thoughts in general since starting to mediate, and find it very calming to start each day with it.

6) Grounding

Another weird one to share! Grounding means spending time barefoot on the ground! There are a lot of studies that have been done to show the benefits of being barefoot outside. Because we’re surrounded by so many electrical currents, our bodies need a way to get rid of the electric charge that builds up in us, and it does this by going into the ground.

But there are two problems – we don’t spend much time outside barefoot anymore, and here in Manitoba, it’s not even an option for most of the year.

So another way to ground is to use grounding mats or bed sheets that plug into the grounding outlet on an electric outlet, and you can ground yourself while sleeping or sitting at the computer or whatever.

I heard about grounding years ago, but never had room in the budget to buy a sheet or mat, when I didn’t fully understand how critical it was for me to be grounding.

Then last fall, my naturopath gave me a free grounding kit, including a blanket, mat, and wristband, because I was having a lot of trouble with tingling in my lips and extremities, and headaches from cell phones and computers. The level of stray electricity in my body was extremely high, but after a few months of sleeping with the grounding blanket, I started feeling much better. It makes me sleep very deeply and I love it!!

I also try to spend as much time as I can outside, barefoot and in the sand or my garden, and it feels so good! It makes me aware of how little we actually touch the ground these days. We’re so removed from something as simple as getting our feet dirty! Even taking your shoes off and sitting outside for 20 minutes can help relax your body and improve your sleep.

If you want to check out a grounding mat or sheet, this is the site I got mine from.

Whew, that’s a lot of weirdness – most of my secrets exposed! But anyone who lives with pain probably could agree that desperation makes a person willing to try just about anything!! If you have pain, just know that there are lots of options, and don’t give up hope!

What do you do to bring more comfort, relaxation, or better sleep into your life? Leave a comment to be entered in the draw at the end of the week!

Best Books I Read This Year

Hey, everybody! Today is the second day of my week of birthday favourites, which you can read more about over here. Everyone who comments this week and shares their favourite things right now will be entered into a draw for a prize at the end of the week, so please share all the good stuff you’re loving right now! πŸ™‚

Today I want to talk about books – I often share thoughts here about good books I’ve been reading, and it’s hard to pick favourites, because I’ve enjoyed so many, but here’s my list of top recommendations (affiliate links included):

Everything Happens For a Reason

My dear friend Kate wrote a book this year, so of course it had to make the list! But I’ll warn you, it’s a hard one to read – so painfully beautiful, honest, and vulnerable. I couldn’t put it down, even though I had a giant lump in my throat the whole time.

It’s about her journey with cancer over the last couple of years, and trying to come to terms with why God allows suffering, and how to find the way through difficult times without offering trite, clichΓ© explanations.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

LOVED this book so much, and it’s a must-read for every introvert out there. I also think it would be really helpful for any extroverts who have introverts in their life!

Susan Cain does a fantastic job of presenting thorough research in a very enjoyable, easy to read style. She presents a solid case for why we need introverts, and how they have come to be overlooked too often. Reading this book made me appreciate the different roles each type of personality plays, and made me more aware of what I have to offer as an introvert.

Here’s one of my favourite quotes:

Extroverts need to know that introverts – who often seem to disdain the superficial – may be only too happy to be tugged along to a more lighthearted place, and introverts who sometimes feel as if their propensity for problem talk makes them a drag, should know that they make it safe for others to get serious. “

The Power of Habit

I signed this book out of the library for Ben because I’d seen it on his Amazon wish list, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it myself!

It’s a fascinating read about why we do what we do, and breaks down the techniques used by places like Target and Starbucks to get us addicted to services and products, so that we’ll habitually keep going back for more.

Febreeze wouldn’t sell until housewives’ cleaning habits were studied, and secrets uncovered from watching hours of videos of women cleaning!?! And Target can predict which women are secretly pregnant, based on the products they habitually buy in the very first few months of pregnancy!! So crazy!

It also includes very helpful steps for developing or changing habits, based on all the research of habits. Very interesting book!

Big Magic

I’ve wanted to read this book for years, and was delighted to stumble across it at the library. Elizabeth Gilbert is such a great writer, and this book was maybe my favorite of the favourites!!

It’s about all things creative, and learning to create without fear, because it’s what we’re meant to do. She has such a grounded view on creating, even though she’s written a couple of bestsellers. I love how she just knows what she needs to do, regardless of whether other people see her as a success or not.

Her thoughts on fear are thought-provoking, and this is one of my favourite quotes from the book:

If your goal in life is to become fearless, then I believe you’re already on the wrong path, because the only truly fearless people I’ve ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year-olds – and those aren’t good role models for anyone. The truth is, you need your fear, for obvious reasons of basic survival. Evolution did well to install a fear reflex within you, because if you didn’t have any fear, you would lead a short, crazy, stupid life. You would walk into traffic. You would drift off into the woods and be eaten by bears.
Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with my fear: I made a decision a long time ago that if I want creativity in my life – and I do – then I will have to make space for fear, too….I’m making space for fear right this moment. I allow my fear to live and breathe and stretch out its legs comfortably. It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.

What are the best books you’ve read recently?! I’ve got a long reading list, but I’m always on the lookout for good recommendations!

Turning 40 and Having a Contest

Marrying Ben has done wonderful things for my aging process. Because his birthday is in January, I feel like I turn a year older when he does, so I spend half the year thinking I’ve already had a birthday. Then when July finally rolls around, and it’s actually time for my birthday, I’m all surprised to discover that I’m younger than I thought, and get to turn a year older all over again, so it kind of feels like time has gone backwards.

So I have a hard time remembering how old I am, and I’m always turning a year younger than I thought, and the whole thing works out really well – especially this year, because I already worked through my midlife crisis over turning 40 a few months ago, so now I’m ready to have fun.

A friend asked me the other day what I wanted to do to celebrate my 40th birthday, and a few things were very clear in my mind: there will be no big party with lots of people like we had for Ben, but I want to do something fun, and I want everyone to forget it’s my birthday. It’s not that I’m in denial about having a birthday, or that I’m trying to hide it, it’s just that I want to do fun things with fun people and turning 40 is a good excuse, so I’ll take it and run with it.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you may know that every year for my birthday, I share all of the things I’ve been loving and enjoying for the past year. It’s a list my mom started making when I was a kid, and I’ve kept doing it because it reminds me to be more intentional about exploring new things, finding ways to improve life and getting the most out of each year. I love to pass on the good stuff, and it’s the highlight of my blogging year to hear what other people are loving, because I’ve discovered such wonderful, interesting things through the suggestions shared here.

So let’s do it again! Every day this week, I’ll be sharing what I’ve enjoyed this last year, and what I’m loving right now, and as usual, everyone who comments and shares their favourite things will be entered in a draw for a prize, one entry for every comment.

I can’t wait to hear what you all have to share! Start thinking about what’s been making life awesome for you recently!

For today, we’ll start with new favourite foods – or in my case, new favourite ways to prepare food!

Instapot Recipes

I got an Instant Pot this year, and it is changing my life. My parents gave it to me for Christmas, but I was super hesitant to ask for it, because I didn’t want to have an big, expensive appliance sitting around if I wasn’t using it – I only wanted it if it was going to get regular use.

You guys, I use it every single day, and it is wonderful!!! I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, which I always make in the instant pot, partly because it’s faster, but more importantly, because they taste SO MUCH BETTER!! Stuff doesn’t burn in the instapot, and the flavour and texture is so much better.

My two favourite instapot recipes are this stew, and an amazing Mexican quinoa recipe (I make it with chicken broth instead of salsa, but if I could eat salsa, I bet it would be fantastic!).

It’s just so easy to throw everything into the pot, choose the right setting, and leave it alone without any need to keep an eye on it, or worry about anything burning.

Roasted Nuts

I eat A LOT of nuts – Ben says our Costco membership is worth it just for the nut savings alone!

Last year, I started soaking and roasting all our nuts for easier digestion, but they taste so much better, I will never stop! Lightly salted, perfectly crunchy, and so much more flavour.

It’s not a lot of work to make them, it just takes a lot of time. I fill a large bowl with nuts, sprinkle them with a few teaspoons of salt, and fill it to the top with water. Then I let them soak overnight, and in the morning I drain them and rinse them off very well. I spread them out on two cookie sheets, and leave them in the oven until the next morning, at 170 degrees, or as low as the oven can go. When they taste dry and crunchy, they’re done and ready to enjoy!

I like to grind some of them up in my food processor, and freeze them so that I always have nuts ready to sprinkle over sweet potatoes, fruit, or stir fry.

If you’re interested in more specific instructions, you can find them here.

Beet Chips

Here’s an unexpected favourite! I actually hate beets, and I choose the word “hate” quite intentionally, even though I tell my kids not to use that word all the time. But beets are the one food that make me gag, particularly when they are boiled. I can handle roasted beets tolerably well.

But beet chips are completely different. Oh my goodness, they are so delicious! Costco sells some that have absolutely no flavour to them, and they were gross and a huge disappointment, until I tried them with guacamole, and then they became my treat of the year once more.

And those are my food favourites! Please share – what food are you enjoying right now? I’m going through a meal planning dry spell, so I really want to hear your fresh ideas!!