35 Days of Favorites Winner!

Today is a good day.

I’m wearing a new pair of shorts. I accomplished the impossible yesterday, and found a pair that actually fit just the way I want them to. (Actually, I should probably give the credit to my friend Sarah, who will be my personal shopper from now on.)

I’m eating chips for breakfast. (That’s for all of you who think I’m too healthy.) My green smoothie just wasn’t filling me up enough!

I’m packing up for the cabin, and we’re celebrating my birthday there this weekend.

canoe

A friend I haven’t seen in years is visiting Manitoba, and is coming over this afternoon.

And…we’re finished 35 Days of Favorites! I get to announce a winner, and then we can return to normal blogging, which I’m looking forward to.

So. I’m pretty excited about today’s winner, because she really, really deserves to be the winner! She has entered every contest I’ve ever had on this blog, and has written the most comments for Days of Favorites, both this year and last year.

She is also a continual source of encouragement to me, both with blogging, and many other things in my life, so it’s fun to be able to give her a prize! 🙂 (Although I would have fun giving any of you a prize!)

The random number generator has decided that Chantelle Falk is this year’s winner!

Thanks so much for all of your comments, Chantelle! I’ll be getting your prize to you soon!

And thanks to everybody else for all of your kind words, lovely comments, and birthday wishes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you on Monday. Time for me to go party.

35 Days of Favorites: Some Things Never Change

I was trying to figure out what favorite to write about today, on the last day of Favorites, the day of my birthday. I had a different post written up, but when it came down to it, I realized that I couldn’t skip over these favorites in my life:

girlsBen and meOh, I love my family. I am so very thankful for them, and for all the love and laughter and every other good thing they bring into my life. They are always the best part of each and every year, no matter what new things I might find or experience.

And I’m also very thankful for all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little list of favorites.

As I wrap up this year’s edition of Days of Favorites, I want to say this:

Be intentional about being joyful. If you are unhappy, figure out why. And then do something about it. Don’t sit around waiting for other people to make you happy.

Think about what you truly love. Look for joy in the small things. And then make those small things happen regularly.

I came across this quote the other day:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

And when you go looking for joy and beauty, you will find so much more than if you sit around waiting for it to come to you.

Maybe some of my favorite things were silly. Maybe I made a big deal about something really small. But my life has gotten so much better since I started noticing.

But as much as I find joy in the small things, I need to also say that finding joy in the things that last is even more important. Make a big deal about the little things, but keep them little.

That’s what I’ve learned this year. (Some of it, at least!)

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment, and share your own favorites with me. That is always the best part of this.

*You have all day today to make comments on any 35 Days of Favorites post, and I will announce the winner tomorrow.

35 Days of Favorites: Restaurants

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here…

Our friends introduced us to Taco Del Mar this spring, and my life will never be the same.

I LOVE Mexican food.

I also love having someone else make my food for me, but there are very, very few cheap, fast restaurants that serve anything I can eat, because of diet restrictions.

But Taco Del Mar has saved me!

Taco Del Mar

AND…kids eat free on Sundays! Even better! Our girls will be completely sick of Mexican food long before they’re adults.

For those of you who haven’t tried eating at Taco Del Mar, you most definitely should. It’s like Subway, but with tacos.

Taco Del Mar

So delicious.

tacos

If we’re going for something slightly classier than Taco Del Mar, my other favorite would have to be Mongo’s. Make your own stir-fry.

That’s just wonderful with me, because I love stir-fry, and I also love not having to order in a restaurant. With all my silly food restrictions, ordering at a restaurant is a huge pain. Everyone always wants to try to understand what exactly my food issues are. Since that’s fairly complicated, and I barely understand it myself, I really, really don’t like trying to explain it to some random stranger I will never see again.

Mongo’s is simple. You grab your little bowl, wander through the display of chopped veggies that are so colorful and beautiful, it just makes you want to eat super healthy, pick out anything and everything that appeals to you, and then get in line to have your food cooked.

The only time you have to talk to anyone is to tell them if you want your meat and veggies on top of rice or pasta. That’s it! The perfect dining experience, in my opinion. The only way it could be improved on would be if I could go into a restaurant, they could read my mind, and what I most wanted to eat would magically appear at the table, without me needing to talk to anyone, OR having to get it ready myself.

There’s a date idea for Ben – order for me as a surprise.

What’s your favorite restaurant to eat at?

35 Days of Favorites: Finishing Projects.

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here…

I am much, much better at starting projects than finishing them.

For example. Remember this?

entrance after

I started that project last summer, and I only needed to do a few small things to finish it up – buy picture frames, have photos printed, sew some cushion covers, find a plant pot, but…it took me an entire year to get around to it!

Oops.

That kind of thing happens often around here. There’s probably some deep, mind-blowing, psychological reason for why I avoid following through on the projects I start, but I have no clue what it is.

In the meantime, whenever I do finish something, IT FEELS AMAZING!!

I love it. And then I get super-motivated to…start a whole bunch more projects. Which I don’t finish. Oh, dear.

Anyway, I finally finished last summer’s project, and it makes me really, really happy. It feels good to be done.

entrance

Do you have any projects you need to finish? What shall we accomplish today?!:)

*You have until Thursday to enter the 35 Days of Favorites draw for a prize! Comment on any 35 Days post as many times as you want to have your name entered.

35 Days of Favorites: Movement Therapy

About a year and a half ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at my massage therapist’s office, reading one of the many yoga magazines available there.

I came across an article about a strange-sounding therapy – “Feldenkrais”.

What??! The article described what a typical session would look like – lying down on a table while the therapist moves arms, legs, etc, in a smooth motion, “teaching” the brain to move without the old, inefficient habits producing pain and tension.

It sounded very strange, but extremely appealing to me. My massage therapist has often said that it’s people’s habits of movement that bring pain. I’ve had a crooked back since I was a teenager, and had noticed that I walked in a very stiff, jerky, imbalanced kind of way, as a result.

It made sense to me that these constant movements were producing the pain and tension in my body, and I remember closing the magazine sadly, thinking, “That may be just the weird kind of therapy I need, but will never be able to find here in Winnipeg.”

Fast-forward a few months, and I was at a physiotherapy appointment, talking with my therapist about movement and walking patterns.

She said, “There’s a woman here in Winnipeg who gives posture lessons. She watches  you walk around the room, and then she corrects any harmful habits you might have.”

Again, this sounded strange, yet appealing. It took a few months for me to act on this new information, but I finally tracked down this posture teacher, and booked an appointment.

appointment

There are no words to describe what actually happens during my appointments with Gisele. This Feldenkrais therapy is so much stranger than posture lessons. And I eventually connected the fact that without realizing it, I was seeing the exact kind of therapist I’d read about in that magazine article. What are the chances?

Gisele herself says it’s really hard to describe just exactly what the Feldenkrais method is.

Wikipedia defines it like this:

Feldenkrais aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement, to improve physical function, and to promote general wellbeing by increasing students’ awareness of themselves and by expanding students’ movement repertoire.(source)

Basically, a typical appointment will go like this:

1) Tell Gisele all my problems.

She listens to what’s been hurting, and bothering me the most. We talk about what’s changed since my last appointment. She gets as excited as I do about even the smallest changes and improvements, which is one of my favorite things about her. She always says, “Yeah, yeah!”, really quick and excited, and she’s always so encouraging.

2) Walk across the room a few times (sometimes backwards!) so she can see how my body is moving.

3) Lie down on her table, or occasionally I’ll sit or kneel, so she can start making adjustments.

She will pick up my arm, and move it for me, until it gets “stuck”, and then I have to concentrate on relaxing as much as possible, until the movement comes freely.

She’ll wiggle each of my toes, or poke me feet a little bit here, and a little bit there.

She’ll lift my leg and move it around, or she’ll have me lie on my stomach, and teach me to lift my head using a different part of my back than I usually use for support.

I never know what to expect, except that by the end of that hour, my pain is gone, and my body has shifted. Sometimes, I’m walking so much smoother or straighter, that I actually feel as though I can’t quite get my balance – everything is completely different in this newly shifted body.

It is strange and wonderful, and I completely love it. I’ve been seeing her for a year now, and while progress can feel a bit slow, I still know that I’m moving completely differently than I was when I first started seeing her.

Sometimes I’ll catch myself while I’m walking down the hall, and just feel this surge of joy go through me because it feels so good to move easily and smoothly. Maybe someday I’ll even be…graceful. Hmm…

Are there any weird and wonderful therapists you’ve come across recently? Have you tried anything new that makes you feel great?

35 Days of Favorites: Longer Summers

I once read a book called More Hours in My Day. I don’t really remember anything I learned from it, but I can tell you this:

I have learned the secret to adding more hours to your day.

Summer, specifically….

Here it is: Move to a summer camp, live there for a few years, and then move away.

That will do it. The entire time we lived at Red Rock Bible Camp, I felt as though life was on fast forward. I loved it in winter, but summer whizzed past far, far too quickly.

Now that we’re living in Niverville, time has stopped going by at the speed of light, and I am loving the longer summers.

flowers

I noticed on Facebook the other day that the first batch of campers had arrived at Red Rock, and I was actually completely shocked. It felt as though summer should almost be over already, when I think about how quickly time past at camp.

Every time I look at the calendar and realize we still have the whole summer before us, I feel surprised, and then really, really excited.

I loved living at camp, and the energy there in summer was incredible, but I am ready for slow summer days.

summerKayliasummer

I am ready for hot days at the lake, and camping (for the first time since Kaylia joined our family!), and every other good thing we can possibly squeeze out of these next two months.

campingboatbreakfastleaveslake

Sweet goodness, you can take your time. I’ll pay for it with another slow winter, but it will all be worth it.

daisyfernsunsetWhat are your plans for this summer? Anything you want to be sure to do in the next two months?

35 Days of Favorites: Best Part of the Day

While we were living at camp, we shared most of our meals with other staff at the lodge.

It was great for staying connected with the other families living there at camp, but not quite as great for sharing a meal as a family. Between talking with the people around us, and trying to teach a few table manners to our kids on the side, mealtimes were pretty full and busy.

When we would eat in our own home, however, we had a little tradition which started so long ago, I don’t even remember how it came to be. Everyday at supper, we would share the best part of the day.

It was a sporadic tradition, though, because of how few meals we ate at home, so this last year has been fun, as we’ve been able to do it on a very regular basis, and also as we’ve been able to share it with any company that has come to our home for a meal.

This has also been the year when Kaylia started joining in. At first, she refused to say anything. Then, she started sharing the very same favorite, every single day: “Climbing trees.”

It was the middle of winter, no large trees in sight, but Kaylia’s favorite was forever climbing trees.

Finally, one day, she shared a legitimate favorite, and now the whole family is participating in this little tradition of ours.

Some days are so crazy around here, I dread the question I know Ben will ask: “What was your favorite part of the day?” I have to search hard to come up with something.

But you know what? There’s always something. Even on the hardest days. I know the searching is good for me.

We love this tradition, and I hope it sticks forever!

What do you talk about at the supper table? Any family traditions you love?