Contentment

I read an article today that struck a chord with me on multiple levels. The article discusses how a woman who is happy with herself is the beauty industry’s nightmare. What can she be sold (or he for that matter) when there isn’t some perceived “flaw” to fix?

This covers so much more than the beauty industry. This is really huge.

In the fitness world, it’s all about aesthetics. People workout to “look good naked”. 95% of the population doesn’t start a fitness program to increase their cardiovascular health, decrease their A1C numbers, or improve their range of motion and flexibility. They do it to change their appearance. To have a “summer body” or complete a weight loss challenge. People go on crazy elimination diets (I have too!) because we are trying to change something. You can’t sell to prospective clients if they already love the way they look and feel.

I read another article that had this to say about going grey:

“My attitude is this: age is nothing to be ashamed of, and therefore grey hair is nothing to be ashamed of.  Covering my greys with toxic chemicals would not only be hazardous to my precious health, it would be voting with my dollars for an industry that profits mightily from making women feel insecure and ashamed of our bodies starting in childhood.  Covering my greys would be saying “yes” to the notion that I, as a woman, am only valuable or attractive if I look “young.”  It would be saying yes to the idea that age, and its physical signs, are something to be feared, denied and hidden – that I need to pretend to be something other than I am to be deemed worthy.  It would mean I agree with the belief that a woman’s only power stems from her being “sexy” in public.”

I colored my hair for the last time last December. My grey is showing. I really don’t care. I’m actually kind of curious to see where it will come in. Will it be a streak of awesome around my temples? Who knows?! But I want to find out.

I have no more interest in keeping up with the Jones’. I think it’s awesome that you drive that amazing car. I have no desire to go into debt to buy a car I can’t afford to impress you. (I used to.) Having contentment bleeds over into every other aspect of life; financial, relational, spiritual, physical – all of it. It is all so very related.

I will be 40 this summer. I’m all out of caring what people think. I’m mostly content as an adult for the first time. images.jpeg

If I am content with myself and my life, and I want for nothing, how then can I be marketed to, sold to, or upgraded upon?

The thing is, when we finally don’t care anymore it frees us up to concentrate on things that actually matter; giving our time to causes that are dear to our passions and using our talents. Constant consumerism feels wasteful. Chasing youth in a bottle becomes an exercise in futility.

Contentment sure feels a lot more like life and actual living.

Sign. Me. Up.

Security

Security means home to me, both as a mother and as a military spouse. As we move all over every 3 years, finding a home and setting up shop says: security. At least for the time being. Finding a home and settling in also brings up words like safety, family, and contentment. Contentment has been a big theme taking up residence in my thoughts as of late.IMG_6820

As we face our next PCS we are doing things a bit differently this time around. While Eric leaves for our next duty station, I am staying behind this time with the kids and of course our 4-legged family members. Why would we do this? Well, not only do we love our kids’ school, Eric will deploy soon after relocating, so we can either miss him from somewhere familiar and somewhat comfortable, or miss him and have to start a new school, meet new friends etc. This decision not only impacts our finances, but our quality of life as well. We will be reunited as soon as the kids finish one more year of school.

Like most people, we have debt. Cars, homes, credit cards, etc. are all so pervasive in our culture that it’s almost weird if you don’t have at least a student loan or a credit card. We have a big hole to dig out of, so we are looking at downsizing our life, selling the house, and *gasp* living in an apartment for a year to increase the size of our shovel. It’s just a house. There will be others. We have no plans to return, or retire here so it makes no sense to hang on to it.

While it seems to be a backward step, going from paying on a mortgage to renting, it’s a relaunch of sorts. Making wiser financial decisions, sacrificing now so that later we can have more options, saying no now, to say yes later. Delayed gratification.

And later, actual financial security.

 

Doubt

Who doesn’t?

About parenting, about what I want to be when I grow up, about life choices. I think we all wrestle with doubt. The big one, though? The big one for me is about faith. I have nagging doubts about faith all the time.

I don’t doubt that there is a GOD. I have had too many personal experiences to not believe in a higher being. But what about church attendance every single Sunday? Am I a bad Christian because I just don’t feel like putting on the mask of make-up, a nice outfit and a plastered on smile to make small talk? Sometimes I feel like worship music is so saccharine, so put on. Is it better than chanting? I don’t know. Does it even matter? What about specific religions? What if Christians have it wrong? What if the way the churchy language turns me off is for a reason? I believe in Jesus. I believe He is the personal savior that died for my sins. Other religions don’t make sense to me. But what if I’m wrong? What if we have it so wrong that if Jesus were here he would not recognize the people who claim Him as their own?

The doubt is always there.

As a person who craves certainty, a nailing down of what is, doubt scares the shit out of me. The Bible says that there will be people who think they know God, but he will not know them. That seriously freaks me out.

You spend your whole life thinking you are worshiping at the feet of the creator of the universe to have it wrong?! Help my unbelief!

The Choice

I remember rolling over and feeling numb. It was surreal to think that I had actually done what I thought I could never do, but had desired for longer than I realized. I thought that it felt like what divorce must feel like in a way.

I ended a 25 year friendship.

We had grown up, gone to school and started families together. As best friends, we had so much in common. We were also very different in many ways. I had come to realize that shared history and similar lives didn’t necessarily make for a healthy relationship. Competition, jealousy, and passive-aggressiveness have no place for authentic growth.

I wasn’t angry.

I was tired. I was done. I wished her no ill-will. I just needed out.

We’d had an awkward conversation on the phone the day before rehashing the latest incident of hurt. I ended the call by saying, “Ok. I got it.” If I know the rules I can play the game, I thought. But, really? I was through playing. I wanted to take my toys and go home.

Did being in a relationship with someone really have to be this hard? There had to be authentic, real friends out there (even for an introvert) that didn’t feel so damn difficult.

I pushed the covers back over the bed and headed to the bathroom. Looking at myself in the mirror seeing clearly that it was going to be okay, I smiled shyly at myself considering my bravery. It was a courageous thing to choose difficult over comfortable and familiar.

I had finally chosen.

via Daily Prompt: Vivid

Center

Inhaling his scent, hair sweaty from fever-soaked sleep, it was clear that I would be scrapping errands and instead caring for my sick 8-year-old. His sister was home with the flu last week, and as usual, it’s floating through our home despite any attempts at sanitizing every surface, doorknob and light switch.

Secretly I love it when my kids are home sick. Not that I want them to be unwell, but when they are, that’s when they show that they need me. Like most families with school-aged children, we have school, homework, and other activities that keep us busy. Having one or both of them home forces me to center all of my attention on them, and it slows my pace.

I don’t worry about the to-do list. The focus is only on right now. Napping with him in our bed (and all 3 dogs!), reading, or just being still, I get to do it all – guilt free. I get to fuss over them taking their temperature, fetching a glass of water, and rubbing the menthol goo over their chest and back. More than a simple ‘I love you,’ having them home sick gives me a tangible way to show love to my children.

It gives our life a centering pause.

Too soon they will not need me as much, if I’m doing my job correctly. Motherhood is that of slowly working ourselves out of a job as our charges learn to do things for themselves, everyday becoming just a bit more independent. Eight years has gone by like a blink. I can only surmise that the next 8 will go by just as quickly, if not faster.

For today, I’m taking this gift of time with my sick child. I breathe into his hair again, caressing his flushed cheek.

“I love you, mom,” he whispers in a cracked, weak voice.

“I love you, too, kiddo.”

Resist

I’ve been sitting here staring out the window to my backyard for about 3 minutes with my hands resting on the keyboard.

“I don’t have a clue…” I think to myself as the sun shines through the trampoline screen that is now a semi-permanent fixture right outside my bedroom window. Dog hair litters the floor, the sun highlights the fact that I haven’t had the energy or inclination to vacuum lately, among other things.

I don’t have a clue. There is so much noise right now. Many valid points, but it’s as if everyone is screaming at everyone else with their hands over their ears, no one hearing anything but the sound of their own anger.  Not my president, get over it, pro-life, pro choice, anti-this, anti-that…..I feel like the kid in the middle of a horrendous divorce. The issues are plenty and every participant wildly passionate.

I find myself pushing. Pushing away.

Resisting.

When the anxiety gets to the point of overwhelm, I have found that I have to resist.

Resist the idea that there is only a this or a that. The black and white thinking that there is only a right or a wrong, an option A. or a B. You are either pro or anti. No. Not with everything. Many things are multifaceted and require investigation into grey areas.

Resist the inclination to know everything, to be certain. I love having a plan and executing it. That’s where I’m comfortable. Whether it’s a recipe to follow, food plan and prep, an exercise regimen, a life philosophy, faith, or anything else – I am wary of people so certain that their thoughts are right and everyone else is wrong. The older I get, the more uncertain I feel about so many things I thought were long ago nailed down. To be certain feels a lot like a mind closed.

Resist the temptation to sit down, be quiet and not think critically.  Despite the appeal of sticking one’s head in the sand, that’s not a solution for anyone.

Resist responding with angerAnger is draining. I have to respond with curiosity, love and a genuine desire to learn. The alternative is to join the deafening chaos of the crowd and I won’t do that.

I look at the trampoline outside my window once more and visualize my laughing, screaming minions bouncing around, as they will no doubt do again this evening, just like they did yesterday and the day before.

Resist doing nothing because everything feels overwhelming. Glennon Doyle Melton said something that struck a chord with me. “Do not discount the work that you do at home with your children.” I may only be able to show two little people what love and kindness looks like, but eventually they will grow up to be big people and they will in turn show love and kindness in their school, in their work, and in their communities.

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”

-Mother Theresa

 

Daily Prompt: Resist

Inspiration

Feeling a little blah after the holidays I’ve been not so inspired to write lately, about food, fitness or anything else. I have officially stopped working at the gym (my choice, all good) and have been getting into the new routine working out and doing the mom thing.

A friend of mine started a blog Fiftytwoin2017 in which she posts recipes she makes for her family – but adds her take with humor and practicality! I thought it was a great idea, but still not enough to get me off of Netflix to put some ideas down.

Last week our son had a multi-cultural lunch where each student brought a native dish from their country of origin, wrapping up a 6 week unit studying their heritage. I made Irish soda bread and brought it to the party, and of course Jacob tried one bite and said nope, and refused to try any of the the other dishes, not so shockingly. I picked the bread for it’s plain flavor and relative ease, but also knowing that there was no way my son would ever get near corned beef and cabbage. (For the record, anyone who has no taste/texture issues – the bread was delicious!)

At lunch with my husband today, we tried out a new restaurant. He is not a huge fan of Mexican food, but can usually find something he likes, mainly enchiladas. While he likes many foods I do not care for, he is often hesitant to try new things. (It’s really a miracle that our family ever eats at the same time as we are all food incompatible with each other!) Chuy’s, based out of Austin, was our lunch spot and it was delicious! His enchiladas came and had a tomatillo sauce on top. The look on his face was one of apprehension and worry. (Gah! Green! The horror!) Reluctantly he tried it – and liked it, even saying he would order it again! Win win!

Looking at the Facebook “On this day” feed, I saw that a friend had posted a recipe that I simply HAD to try – 2 years ago. It was a recipe for borscht, the Russian beet stew stuff. Hmm. I suppose after razzing Eric about trying new things, I should probably buck up and do the same. I scanned the ingredients and had most of them…all this cooking and different cultures swirling in my mind I decided to give it a go! Better late than never, right!?

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

454 g ground pork (optional)

I used the pork. Delish. Bonus – Protein!

3 medium beets, peeled and shredded

Shredding was a pain. But worth it. You could also dice them, but cooking time would need to be extended.

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

¾ c water

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste I recommend more than you might think, approximately 1 1/2 tsp each. I ended up wanting a tad more on my serving. 

Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp

I skipped this ingredient. Don’t need more sugar, but for as much as this recipe yields, it seemed insignificant. 

Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

This would have been nice, but I’m not a huge sour cream fan. I would make these optional.

Directions:

Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.

2 liters = about 8 cups.

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Pretty beets. Pain in the butt to peel, but worth it!
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Looks like I slaughtered something – oh! It’s beets. (Notice that the last one is diced instead of shredded? Yeah, I’m not into shredding and neither are my knuckles!)
In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and ¾ c water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

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Regular white potatoes about to turn red!
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Getting there!
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And kid approved!
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Delicious!
We ate it with mini saltine crackers (classy, I know). This would be amazing with some toasted french bread. (Of course, french bread is always good, I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.)

Tex-Mex for lunch and Ukraine for dinner! How’s that for around the world cuisine?!