6 Things I Learned This Fall

Even though it’s December, I feel like I can’t fully turn my focus to Christmas until I’ve taken some time to reflect on what made fall great.

Emily P. Freeman is so good at providing inspiration and reflective questions on her blog, and I’ve found it so helpful to look back and think about what I’ve learned, what I’ve enjoyed, and what I want to remember for seasons in the future.

Here’s my list for this fall:

1. Soup Saturdays save my life.

The greatest gift I can give myself right now is a quick and easy way to make lunch. Our mornings are full with homeschooling, and no one has time to worry about making lunch.

So this fall, I decided to make Saturdays the day the magic would happen. Every Saturday, I cooked a big batch of soup, and suddenly I had lunch ready for days at a time. Sometimes we have sandwiches instead so there’s a bit of variety, but it just feels good to know that soup is ready whenever I need it.

2. Twinkle lights unrelated to Christmas decor can cheer up the gloomiest days.

Fall can feel a bit dark and dreary, so last Christmas, I asked Ben to buy me a string of twinkle lights that I left up in my kitchen window all year long. On those cloudy days after time change this fall, it was amazing how it cheered me up to plug those sparkly lights in. Some little lights go a long way.

3. An open window early in the morning is peaceful.

I’ve been told that one of the best things you can do for your health is go outside first thing in the morning. I did this all summer, but when the weather got cold, it got a lot harder. So I started opening the window (while sitting with my feet on the vent blasting hot air!). It’s so still and quiet, except for all the birds. It quickly became one of my favourite parts of the day.

Now that it’s a lot colder, I’ll need to get myself outside instead of letting all the cold air in, but it was delightful while it lasted!

4. The Mute setting on Instagram is a useful tool.

People get to choose what they want to share on social media, but I get to choose whether I’m going to read it or not. Social media has been a lot this year, hasn’t it? Some of it has been beautiful and life-giving, and some has been negative and life-sucking.

This fall, I reached a point where enough was enough. I don’t have enough energy to deal with bad energy. I know this is the point when a lot of people sign off of social media for good, but that also eliminates all the good that can happen there.

This is when the mute option is powerful. I started paying attention to how instagram posts made me feel, and if there was even a twinge of yuckiness, that account got muted. No one ever has to know the particulars of who you mute. It doesn’t need to make us feel guilty, because we all have a choice about what we lay eyes on. I take back that choice.

5. The “I’m Bored List” may be the smartest parenting tool I’ve ever thought up.

When Everett’s friends went back to school in September, he felt lost and lonely. He had forgotten how to entertain himself, and he was convinced it was my job to figure out the solution to this problem.

He got very whiney and demanding, and I quickly got tired of hearing “I’m bored!!!!”

So one day we sat down to make a list. We thought up every single thing there is to do in our house, and I drew pictures of everything. We hung up our huge list, and for days after, every time Everett would say, “I’m bored!” I would remind him of the list, and he would look over it until he found something to do.

The best part is that it reset his habit, so now he doesn’t use his list much anymore, but he doesn’t expect me to solve his entertainment problem anymore. Highly recommend.

6. Essential oils are much more useful than I thought.

I’ve played around with essential oils for years, but this fall I discovered a new essential oil company that is changing everything I’ve thought about oils.

I listened to a podcast interview with Jodi Cohen, the owner of Vibrant Blue Oils, and as soon as it was over, I immediately placed an order. I NEVER act that quickly, but she convinced me 100% that she knew her stuff, and I needed her oils.

I’ve been dealing with adrenal fatigue for most of the year, and it’s been rough. I’ve been exhausted, and so anxious that for a few months, I had panic attacks every day. It was indescribably horrible, and I was desperate to get my body back into balance. I was doing the whole herbs and supplements thing, which was helping, but progress was slow and I was frustrated.

In the interview I listened to, Jodi Cohen specifically talked about anxiety and adrenal fatigue, so I ordered the two blends she developed for those issues (Parasympathetic and Adrenal). When I started using them, I experienced some strong detox symptoms for about three days, and then I felt this dramatic jump in energy, while at the same time an increase in calmness.

I didn’t have another panic attack until I ran out of essential oils. When the panic attacks started up again, it was obvious how much the oils had been helping, so I quickly ordered another round, and don’t plan to run out again!

Vibrant Blue Oils has blends for all kinds of specific issues, like sleep, inflammation, hormones, histamine reactions, focus/attention issues, PMS, migraines…the list goes on and on! They only sell a few individual oils, because their focus is therapeutic blends that work better than anything I’ve ever tried.

I love them so much, I signed up to be an affiliate, so that I could get more information on sales and stuff. Right now, there is a 25% off sale happening for the next couple of weeks, so if you have a specific health issue that could use some essential oils, you can check them out here! There’s no multi-level marketing or anything – anyone can order whenever, no pressure! (Other than this great sale ending!)

And those are the highlights for fall! What have you been learning or discovering?

Winter Favorites

I’ve decided this is my last week of winter.

We leave for Florida on Friday, and by the time we get back, it will be the middle of March, which means things will be getting all drippy and melty, and the sun will be getting warmer, and the air will smell like spring is coming. It is soooo easy to be happy at the end of March.

So, because this is my last week of winter, I wanted to share my winter favorites – all the stuff I’ve been enjoying which have helped pass the cold, dark months of the year. Maybe you can quickly try them, and get a little enjoyment out of them, too, because you probably have about two weeks left of winter.

Plenty of time to discover some new favorites.

Here we go:

1) Healthy Hot Chocolate.

Yes, it is possible. Who knew. No longer must I feel guilty about bribing the girls to stay outside for half an hour longer with the promise of hot chocolate. You can find that recipe here. It tastes just as good as the regular stuff, I promise. (The only sweetener we use is honey, and it’s plenty sweet enough.)

hot chocolate

2) Humongous Scarves.

The girls bought me this pink scarf for Christmas, and the first time I put it on, it almost swallowed my head, so I had serious doubts about how often I’d wear it.

scarf

photo credit: Morgan Braun

But oh, my word. It is the warmest thing ever. I love it so much, it almost makes me like the freezing cold, because I get to wear my scarf. I have used it all the time.

3) Soup.

Oh, how I love soup. I eat massive amounts of soup in winter. I’ve written before about my great love for green smoothies in the morning, but this winter, all I want is soup. So, I’ve decided to give the smoothies a break until warmer weather comes, and just keep going strong with good, hot soup.

I made this recipe for Potato Pea Soup yesterday, and it was quite fantastic. Oh, just writing about it makes me hungry for it right now…

It’s not much to look at, but trust me, the taste makes up for it’s lack of beauty!

soup

4) My Bible Study Group.

A group of ladies from my church have been doing the Beth Moore Bible study on the book of James, and it has been amazing. I never feel like going out on a cold winter night, but once I get there, the warmth of those ladies is more than enough to make up for the effort of going out in the cold.

If you ever get a chance to do this study, you should jump at it. Beth Moore is always a good idea.

James

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And that has been my winter. It’s been quite enjoyable. I would even say it’s gone by fairly quickly. It helps to keep going away on vacation. Good grief. One of these days we’ll need to stay home. But we decided not to turn down any free vacations, so we’re off again!

What are your winter survival secrets? Help us get through the last few weeks of cold weather!

I Love My Esophagus

So I learned something new last week. I learned that it is possible to bruise your esophagus. And that it actually hurts about 50 times more than you might expect. And that it takes a significant amount of time to heal.

Two weeks ago, I swallowed my usual amount of morning vitamins and stuff, but I was in a rush, and didn’t drink enough water afterward. I ran out the door for the morning, forgetting to take a water bottle with me, and by lunch, I knew that something was not right. I felt like I had swallowed a brick, and it had gotten stuck about halfway down.

A few days later, I was still in crazy amounts of pain, and it seemed to be getting worse. I couldn’t eat anything because it hurt too much to swallow. So we drove in to the city to see a doctor, which is when I found out about bruised esophaguses, which my spell checker is telling me is not a word, but I don’t know what the plural of esophagus would be – esophagi? Yep, that one passes the spell checker! I just learned another new thing…

Anyway, the remedy is to eat soup for a few weeks until it heals. Well, soup, and anything soft and blended. Baby food, basically.

For a week, I used the food processor, and blended everything. And part of me got really sick of eating that way. Part of me craved texture. I wanted to bite my teeth into something so badly. I never knew that really mattered! But it does.

It felt like mush would never end. But just like that, one day the pain was gone. And I’ve eaten crispy, crunchy lettuce every day since! And corn chips! Oh, bliss. My teeth are so happy to have a job again!

Through all of this, I have learned something else. (I kind of knew it, but I was reminded of it all last week…) Psalm 139 tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearfully and wonderfully. Those words have been stuck in my head.

You know how when everyone’s had colds for a month, or you get the flu  – when you just had it last month – or whatever. When sickness seems to abound. That makes me feel really frustrated. A bruised esophagus makes me really frustrated. I get annoyed and discouraged because I just want to be well! I want my family to be healthy. And I get tempted to complain, and wonder when we’ll all be healthy again.

Being sick is miserable. And yet those words are stuck in my head – fearfully and wonderfully made. The Bible also says that our bodies are not our own. And I realize that I need to change the way I think about things, because here’s what I know to be true:

  • I didn’t know esophagi could get bruised, but it did, and then it healed in a wonderful way.
  • There are lots of other things that I do not understand about my body, and yet it continues to function, even as I take it for granted, and live my life.
  • Sickness is a part of this life that we are living right now.
  • God knows my body, knows my frustration, and desires a cheerful heart and joyful attitude anyway, even when I’m sick and tempted to be miserable.

And I’m thinking that being thankful for my fearful, wonderful body, and the fact that it heals itself, would be a much more positive thing to think about than how frustrated I am because one of us is sick again. Guess what? One of us will also get healthy, again.

Really. How many times do people say, “Our family has gotten sick so many times this winter!?” But our family has gotten healthy again, so many times this winter.

Maybe that sounds silly. All I know is that words can make a huge difference. Complaining about being sick would give me something to complain about for the rest of my life.

But I want to rather think about this fearful, wonderful body, healing itself and fighting off sickness, and doing it’s job, until the day comes when it’s not meant to do it anymore.

And you know that saying, “There’s no great loss without some small gain“? Well, my blended menu forced me to discover a number of very delicious recipes that we will now continue to enjoy as a family, with our healthy esophagi!

So in honor of healthy esophagi, here is my new favorite soup:

It’s called Roasted Garlic Apple Butternut Squash Soup, and it’s my new obsession. Seriously the best soup I’ve ever had. You can find the recipe here. (We thought it would be even tastier with cauliflower and broccoli in it, so I cooked some separately, and added them after blending the soup.)

So there you have it. My thoughts on health and our fearful, wonderful bodies. Hope you’re enjoying yours!


Soup Dawn

Just came across this great description of what it feels like to be in the presence of true friends:

Because, when I talk to Amy (and a small handful of other dear, darling kindred spirit pals), I feel so thankful to be me.  I feel witty and smart, and shocked beyond belief that this wittier, smarter, significantly more saavy person would actually call me friend.  I’m a fan of friends.  Good friends.  The kind that warm you to the bone.  Make you comfy in your own skin.  Make you happy, happy, grateful and happy to be you.

You know what makes that quote even better? She was writing a post about soup! Yes, soup. But first she wrote about the warmth of good friends. And I connected instantly with that quote.

I heard once that the people you enjoy being with the most are the people who make you feel like the best possible version of yourself. That doesn’t mean that you want to be with good friends just so that you’ll feel better about yourself, but it sure is a fantastic bonus!

Right now I need a bonus. I’ve just been in some situations that made me feel like the worst version of myself, and left me wondering if I’m really that bad. You know those moments when some ugly stuff comes to the surface. It’s good to deal with them, but they leave you feeling a little raw.

And that’s when a good friend comes and soothes those raw places. I am so thankful for each and every friend that God has sent into my life that sticks around for the raw times.

Lucky for me, I get to see one of my dearest friends this week. I’ve known her forever. Like, kindergarten. It took me awhile to realize the amazingness that was before me all along, but since I did, she’s been inspiring me and loving me, challenging me, and then soothing my raw patches. And then she moved very far away, and I haven’t seen her in a couple of years, but this is the week when that changes.

And she is always my “bonus” – the person that I love to be with and want to give love and friendship to, but the also the one who gives so much back to me, because she makes me see all that I could be, and makes me feel privileged just to be called her friend.

Funny enough, today is her birthday. I never intended to sit down and write a post like this, but the soup post inspired me, and my friend Dawn inspires me, so it all comes together in the end! Never thought to compare her to soup before, but it works. She fills my life with warmth and comfort.

What about you? Do you have someone who lets you see the best version of yourself? Wishing you the warmth and comfort of good people in your life!