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Just Tomato Soup

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“What’s for supper”

A text message from my daughter interrupts my work just I’m about to finish up for the day. Annoyed, I ignore it, though I am dying to reply “idk, what are YOU making?” but I let the moment pass since it doesn’t serve either of us. I do ponder yet again why I don’t have the kids make more meals…and why I have kids in the first place.

I’m tired today. Some days, I just want to go home and curl up with a good book and fall asleep at 8. Some days I crave it so badly it brings a tear to my eye when I realize I just can’t today. I let that moment pass too.

I walk home and trip over everyone’s shoes at the front door. Then I grab my other mitts and shovel for the next half hour, listening to my music. I feel the cold air on my exposed face. It feels good to feel my heart pounding and I hear nothing else but my music and the scrape of the shovel. I could get them off their butts to help me. Yes, they should have had it done before I got home. I let them have their space and I greedily take mine. Outside, no one in my head or my ear. Just me and the winter. And the day melts away.

Back inside, I am asked again “What’s for supper?”

“Tomato soup and grilled cheese” I reply.

Yep, just tomato soup. No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal. No old family recipe that I’ve been making for ages. Nothing that will find it’s way to a Pinterest board. Just tomato soup.

No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal, just tomato soup.

 

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I pull out the relatively expensive box of amazing organic tomato soup that I didn’t make myself but discovered that everyone loves. I start to warm it on the stove. I cut up the delicious Gouda cheese, and a little bit of the jalapeno Havarti. I slather butter on one side of some yummy, soft rye bread I bought yesterday. I grab a few slices of the ham I bought for lunches. I assemble and cook them into toasted, melty goodness and pour the soup into bowls. Cucumber slices circle the plates and I deliver them to children who stop what they are doing to exclaim “Thanks Momma!”

I love it when they are like little kids again. Gleeful, calling me “Momma”, full of excitement and gratefulness for one of their favorite comfort foods. It fills my heart more than the winter air did. We sit together and visit about any little thing that comes to their heads. I crumble exactly 5 perfect plain crackers into my soup. I’ve always done it that way. Exactly 5, gathered together and lovingly crushed and sprinkled into my tomato soup. And I am 13 again too. With my own Momma and brother and sisters, talking about nothing and everything all at once.

I love it when they are like little kids again.

Melty cheese is stuck to her chin and we laugh. I quickly make another for him. Suddenly I realize that he is taller than me and finally I understand why he’s always scrounging for something else to eat! My heart aches a little as I think about how quickly their older brother grew and now makes his own tomato soup in a different house, thankfully, not too far away. But away, just the same. My tomato soup silly evenings are disappearing fast.

I am savoring every moment with them, every simple slurp of their teen lives and the melty bites in between where they allow me to be their “Momma” even for a minute. Hugging me with my head on their shoulders now that they are so much bigger than me. I relish every complaint about the beautiful meals I make them that they like less because someday, I will be eating without them.

I am savoring every moment with them

It doesn’t matter what we eat. It matters HOW we eat. Take in every morsel with exuberance and with attention to who you are with. Put down your damn phone and be with the food. Be with them. Be with yourself for a few minutes. Indulge yourself with the expensive favorite dessert, the steak dinner that he made for you, the bowl of cereal you manage to squeeze into your morning, the apple at your desk.

Feel every single piece of life that it has to offer. No criticism, no guilt, no remorse that it could have been healthier, cheaper, easier, more gourmet. Just eat.

Tomato soup simple. Just tomato soup. Just for today.

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Flip Those Disorganized Moments

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Disorganized Moment

I didn’t get my legs shaved in the shower this morning

Flip to an Organized Moment:

I’m wearing pants today anyway and this will give me an excuse for a relaxing bath later!

Disorganized:

I forgot to get envelopes for the mail I need to mail today.

Organized:

They have some at the post office and I only want two anyway instead of a whole box.

Disorganized:

I missed getting Lucas new shoes for school

Organized:

He doesn’t really care and we’ll shop local which is better anyway.

Disorganized:

I didn’t get any social media posts done up last night.

Organized:

I did get a lot of other work done that I wanted to do and then took a much needed break which made me much more ready and able to face a new week (and I got a shower idea anyway because my mind was clear!)

Disorganized:

I didn’t leave enough time to go and buy a coffee.

Organized:

I have coffee at home and a very handsome hubby who made one for me anyway! Plus I saved money!

These are just a few examples of those frustrating moments where you can choose to have a little freak out and over-reaction (which, yes, I have done) or you can choose to flip it around and see the “silver lining” as the saying goes. We are all disorganized and imperfect. It’s about time we chill out, don’t you think? I choose freedom and peace instead.

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What are some of your disorganized moments that you turned around and changed your attitude about? Fess up in the comments!

Want to turn over one of those frustrating “to-do list” things to someone else, like meal planning? We’ve got it covered for you in Badass in the Kitchen Meal Planning. We do it for you. Read more here: Badass in the Kitchen

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How Do You Decide Which Activities to Put Your Kids In?

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Gretchen Rubin explores many things in her home life in the book, “Happier at Home“. In the January section, she has goals surrounding Time. One of these is to Guard My Children’s Free Time. She discusses the very common dilemma we parents face when deciding what activities our children should be involved in.

 

This is the time or year for registering our kids in a myriad of opportunities. We want to give them access to all kinds of things to “make them a better adult”. We worry about what other kids are involved in and if our child will be left behind if they are not. We want them to get out and get involved in something so that they meet new people. We want to make sure that they are physically active and learning new things. We worry that if they aren’t in this activity or that sport that they will feel left out.

This is something that we have struggled with many times in our house. I worried about my daughter being involved in dance so much that she was missing out on other opportunities, yet if she didn’t do all the dances her friends were in, she would feel left out. I have forced my boys to do activities that they really didn’t like because everyone should know how to skate or to swim. I felt like I was a neglectful parent if my children were not involved in some sort of music or art class – after all, they would be left behind academically if they were not fluent in some sort of artistic endeavor. And oh my, what if they don’t have any friends!? Or what if their friends were able to go to this camp, but not my child and then what would they talk about? It would be horrible to be the one who was left behind!

And so we ran. We ran this way and that. I barely saw my husband except in passing or to make a demand that he pick so-and-so up so that I could get another one to that activity. I spent countless hours being the perfect volunteer parent. The one who always helped out. The one who always watched every activity. The one who organized this and picked up that for the team.

 

I threatened and physically dragged my children. I ignored pleas and tantrums because “you have to go”. Guilt trips and negative talk were the order of the day, especially during competition season. After all, this was what all the work was for, right!? How could you let your team down if you don’t go?

 

We were eating on the run, in cars and corners of a gymnasium or arena. Saturday mornings were rushing to this thing and money we didn’t have was spent on hotels and stuff we barely used before the season was over and the kid had outgrown it.

 

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It put a strain on everyone. I was yelling all of the time, finding myself saying horrible, mean things to my children, to get them to go, to get them to do better, to push them harder. It stressed us financially and our marriage suffered because we barely saw each other. So much resentment because I felt he didn’t help enough and he felt I helped too much. It strained our health from eating too much fast food and not eating together. The stress of the constant running around took a toll on my body. I began to forget things, or do something poorly just to get it over with and not doing it perfectly strained my nerves even more. I begged my friends each spring to remind me to not get so involved in stuff the next fall; but each fall I would repeat the pattern again. Each fall, the crazy life would start all over again.

 

And then there came a time when it was too much. My daughter hated the dancing that she once loved. She barely got enough sleep and spent almost as many hours at dance or travelling to it as she spent at school. She cried at night because her legs ached so much. I had to drag my boys along or to their stuff or ended up missing them completely because we were so busy. I’d forced them to do things from my own guilt because, well, they should have to do things like their sister did. It was only fair that they had opportunities too!

 

I broke down one morning, about 4:30 in the morning. I’d realized in the middle of the night that I had forgotten to do something very important for my son’s Cadets. I had forgotten a few important things recently and felt like a complete failure. I sat in the dark and cried and cried over my keyboard. I wrote a letter to a friend and fellow Cadet mom who had had to pick up the pieces where I’d made a mess. I couldn’t go on like this anymore.

 

That next fall, we didn’t do dance. Instead, we let our daughter try other things; things that didn’t take as much time and that she was curious about like fencing. I stopped forcing my oldest son to take swimming lessons or learn to skate. He hated swimming and was never going to pass that first level. I stepped down from many of my volunteer responsibilities and let someone else step up. I stopped forcing my youngest into groups like cubs where being around all those other kids completely overwhelmed him. I started to say no to activities and yes to guarding my children’s time (and my sanity).

 

Now, she’s dancing again, but in a less competitive way more fun studio. She is able to try out high school sports she is interested in and work part time to support her own makeup artist interests. My oldest is away from home now and plays ball again, a game he’d begged me to let him stop playing as a kid. Now he plays again on his own terms, because he wants to have fun. My youngest isn’t involved in very many things except more solo things he’s actually interested in, like guitar lessons. He feels listened to and I understand that he thrives when he’s allowed to do what he loves instead of what I think he “should” be doing.

 

Yes, I am criticized sometimes and I’m my worst critic. Sometimes I worry that I shouldn’t let her do all the different things she does because she does way more than the boys and “it’s not a fair distribution of resources”. Many things, she pays for herself (like one of her dance classes this year). I think this does more to teach her responsibility than denying her. I am criticized that my youngest spends so much time online and doesn’t get out as much as other kids. It is what he loves to do and he does it with friends and his sister and his cousins. He plays guitar in his own time and reads books too. He enjoys the quiet and solitude of being with himself. It is who he is and I will no longer force him to be someone he’s not. I will encourage him to stretch out (and he has, joining a tech camp over the summer for example). He is willing to try things when we allow him to try them on his terms in line with his personality and recognizing his strengths.

 

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We are learning together how to better manage our time so that each of us is able to pursue things that light us up instead of stress us out. My girl is so like me in wanting to try everything, but she is learning how to manage her own time as I have her consider that if she says yes to something, she will have to say no to something else. She realizes that she cannot do it all at a way younger age than I was. And that’s a very good thing!

 

We are busy, but we also have time when we are able to eat dinner together and do other things… or even do nothing! We can sit and watch movies all Saturday or go on a date or just read a book. There is life outside of our activities and we are allowing each other to have that life. The activities are that much better because we have the time to actually enjoy them.

 

I know what it feels like at this time of year. How you desperately want to give your kids everything. How you are afraid of missing out. I am not condemning anyone who chooses to keep a very full schedule with your kids. That is your choice.

 

I am just advising that you consider the cost of these things before you say yes. Consider what you are saying no to when you say yes to one more thing. Remember what it felt like last fall and is that how you want to feel this year? Talk together as a family and really listen to what your kids have to say. Listen to what your heart tells you. How do you want to feel? How does your daughter want to feel? Your son? Your spouse? Then decide together what you will do to feel that way.

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Life is Short

Life is Short

I was so inspired by May’s notes in my Desire Map Journal from Danielle Laporte. I had to make a recording so that I can listen to it whenever I need to. Life is short. Let’s do it today!

My Reminders to Me:

  • notice how long her legs are compared to mine as my teen snuggles beside me on the couch
  • enjoy his silliness and funny sounds he makes when he’s being a goof – not many get to see that side of him
  • be grateful for his pocket dial because it’s another chance to say “I love you” today
  • put on perfume in secret spots for him to find later
  • grab a latte on the way to work just because I love them so much
  • have zucchini spaghetti again tonight because it’s sooooo good!
  • do yoga with my sweetheart, candles and incense quieting our minds from the day
  • leave my phone in the kitchen while I snuggle on my bed to read tonight
  • sleep without a worry or care, grateful for another day

 

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Meditate – Eyes Open

I’ve been exploring a different way to meditate and I am in love!

Sometimes, I find it hard to sit with my eyes closed and observe my thoughts. I’m often tempted to open them to make sure no one is there. I guess I’m still working on that trust thing.

However, with this new meditation program I’m doing, it “fits” better with me. So far, it’s less about the “ooommm’s” and more about intention in the moment. It’s more about FOCUS – with my eyes open. Focus isn’t easy, but so far, doing it this way works way better. This example in the picture is focusing on the word on the page. Listening and being absorbed in each line as I create it. Being aware of the word coming to life as my pen moves across the page. Focusing on something like that, I am less distracted. I am actually focused!

I wanted to share this really wonderful idea with you today. If you struggle with taking the time for you; with taking the time with “meditation” (or have any ‘fears’ around doing something like that); I highly recommend Annika’s program. It’s something different and a comfort for me in the wee hours of the morning to help me focus my day. Plus, she has a beautiful voice to soothe your soul 🙂 Visit Eyes Open from Annika Martins to sign up!

Do you have any recommendations for meditation? What kinds of “tools” do you use? I’m always open to trying new things! Let us know in the comments!

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Happiness Is…

Recently, it was International Happiness Day. A day to celebrate what makes us happy. The point of the day, in my opinion, is to notice the little things and…most of all…

So many of us rush around getting things done, being stressed out, keeping up with everyone else. We have more things, but we are less happy. We are sick and tired, yet most of us have everything we’ve ever dreamed of. And then some.

I was looking at old home movies on the weekend and I noticed something. I wasn’t very happy. I noticed how happy my kids were with simple things like playing gymnastics on the couch cushions or sliding around the kitchen floor in their socks or just playing playdough. I noticed that I was always cleaning or constantly moving from one thing to the next and our house was full of STUFF. I was very overweight and dressed (if I was dressed at all) in clothes that did not flatter me. At one point, I heard my hubby sweetly ask me what he could do to help and I told him he didn’t have to – that I would do it all.

It was an eye-opening glimpse into how far I’ve come. This was perfect timing for me because I still have days – like Friday last week – where I think that I’m not good enough. Days where I struggle accepting who I am. My sweetheart and I talked late into the night trying to help me accept my truth. And then, I woke up to the thought, “Oh! I need to backup those home movies before that computer crashes”. I hadn’t thought about them in months – maybe even a year. Yet, suddenly, I thought of them early on Saturday morning. Still shaky in my belief about my own worth. And then I saw her on the video. The old me. The one who struggled to find happiness in those simple moments caught on video because I was too busy running around, “catching up” on all my to-do’s. Too busy to eat properly. Too busy to shower. Too busy to wear clothes that I love. Too busy to take care of me.

I’m still not sure of what the exact moment was when I decided that this had to stop. Maybe it was that I was tired of it all. It certainly wasn’t overnight. It has been one step after another. Each day something new. Each day a chance to try again. And now I hardly recognize her.

Now, I don’t mind so much being in front of the camera. Now, I’m mostly smiling. Now, I slow down and notice the little things. Now, I choose Happiness:

  • I love that our espresso machine has a mug warmer on top
  • I have a really cool space where I can sit and create, play or do whatever makes me happy
  • Yoga with my sweetheart to close the day
  • Snuggled on the coach, squeezing in beside lanky teenagers watching a movie
  • Quick visits with my grown up baby boy wherever I can catch him
  • Resting my head on my daughter’s shoulder as she towers over me for a quick “Mama” hug
  • That goofy little guy who’s almost as tall as me and has his Dad’s sense of humor that always makes me laugh
  • A cup of tea and amazing conversations with kindred spirits who I call friends
  • Catching a glimpse of geese and hearing their call on yet another winter day that gives me hope for spring

It’s the little things that truly make me happy. What makes you happy? Share in the comments.

Do you need help and inspiration to notice those little things? The Divine Goddess Circle can help. It’s a community for working women who are seeking support and actions to become the Goddess they are! Join us: www.divinegoddesscircle.com

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Self-care Sunday

Thursday evenings are often quiet evenings for me. My family is usually busy with other things and it’s nearing the end of the week, so things are settling down in general. The picture above was from my last Thursday evening.

I’m a big proponent of practicing self-care. I used to think that doing things for myself was “being lazy” or “selfish”. However, I noticed that the more I did NOT do for me, the more I was filled with resentment and anger and frustration. I thought I was being a good mother but would find myself yelling at my kids ALL the time – in a very unhealthy way. I would be secretly angry with my husband, especially when he was doing things he enjoyed doing for himself. This would build up inside until it would come exploding out one day out of the blue and the poor guy wouldn’t know what had hit him! I didn’t feel like I had time for making time for me. Who would take over when I had some quiet time? Wasn’t time for me selfish? I still ask myself those questions sometimes.

I’ve discovered that when I’ve just been going and going and going; rarely taking the time to re-charge, I am exhausted and feel like I can’t get anything accomplished. Headaches haunt me and I just don’t feel like myself. It’s then that I remember how much practicing self-care helps me. Better still, I now practice it more often so that I don’t get to that stage. I’m sure to schedule in time for me so that I’m able to be a better Mom, a better wife and a better person.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sometimes, it’s curling up under my warm, soft blanket from my best friend that’s all mine and reading a book. It could be playing a game on the computer, quilting, writing or just sleeping a little bit longer than everyone else. My family supports me in this because they know how much it helps me. It’s a habit I want to make sure that they learn (especially my daughter) by seeing me do it.

I created a little download for you if you’re searching for ideas for practicing self-care. Click here to grab your copy (and share it with your friends!)

What are some of your ideas for self-care? What are some of the benefits you see when you do something for you? Leave us a note in the comments!

Comparison and Vulnerability

After my run yesterday, during my cool down walk, I decided to record my thoughts. It’s out of breath, raw and vulnerable.

The Thinker

Thank you all for being here, being part of this community. Who do you compare yourself to? Why? Do you struggle to remember how far you’ve come? I’d love to “hear” your answers in the comments below or on our FB page: www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations

Transcript:

“My biggest issue right now is comparing myself to others. Why can’t I be as fast as my husband or my girlfriends. Go as far as they are. I mean, it’s silly. We all have our own goals, our own demons to run from but I keep comparing myself to them and I forget how awesome things are. I mean, I never thought I’d ever be a runner in the first place for crying out loud and here I am running 12 kilometers today in the hot sun. I may be out of breath but I frickin’ did it.

It’s pretty amazing really, if you look back at those things. My husband thinks I’m the love of his life. My kids think I’m mom of the year, most days. Some days they hate me, but so does everybody’s kids. My mom is still, mom and dad are still my biggest fans. They don’t understand a lot of the things I do, but, whatever I do, they support it.

So, I need to let go of this comparison thing. You know, judging myself. It’s bad enough I judge others, but I judge myself the most harshly. I need to back off on that. You know, how can I be successful if I keep forgetting how far I’ve come. I need to be grateful for all that I’ve done, where I’ve been, who I’m friends with, who I love. That’s the most important thing.

Anyway, those are my random after-run thoughts. Bye”

Please feel free to send this along to anyone you think needs to hear it. We are not alone with our “comparing” thoughts. We all do it. It’s nice to know that we can be grateful for all that we have.

We love our fans! Join us on our Facebook page for ideas for simplifying and enjoying life.

Simple Joy

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I’m talking a lot about joy these days. I’ve been working on a few ebooks & workbooks and basically everything reminds me of the same thing: Practice Joy every day. It really is that simple. When we look for joy and do things that bring us joy, everything else just falls into place.

There was a time when I yelled and screamed…a lot…and at the wrong people. I looked in the mirror and despised the woman who looked back at me. If I could even look her in the eye. There was a time when headaches radiated from my neck all the way around to my forehead. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be.

I thought, if he just loved me more or if they would just listen! If I kept a better house, if I wore nicer clothes, if I put make-up on my face…then…yes, THEN…everything would be perfect. I went to work every day, dragging myself because that is what people do. I got “busy”; I drove kids this way and that, yelling at them to hurry up to go to a practice or even a game that they didn’t even want to go to any more.

But when I dared to look her in the eye, I did not see happiness. I did not see joy. I saw a lot of worry and I even saw pain. I remembered the girl who loved to draw. Who talked to her cows or her dog. Who loved to feel the grass between her toes and touch the sticky branches of the “climbing tree”. Who read books and wrote stories and poems by flash light when she was supposed to be asleep. Where did she go?

Slowly, but, indeed…surely…she is being reborn. That young woman is excited to go to work every day and help people feel better. She goes roller-skating or tobogganing or does something crazy whenever she can. She doesn’t yell as much, she “lets it go”. She reads books, she plays on the computer. She goes for a walk, barefoot on the lawn sometimes. She digs in the dirt and plays Lego long after the kids are done.

She is finding her joy. She notices the little things like the robins singing or the first ladybug there in the grass. She’ll put down the phone and listen to what you have to say. She makes time for friends and makes love like she’s twenty-something. She laughs more and cries lots too because it is OK to feel every emotion. To feel is to be alive and I certainly am…and for that…I am joyful.

 

And the Light Streamed Through

2012-10-07 12.29.23There it is. The insurmountable. Everything was going along just fine down this new path until IT came along! What the hell? Now what am I supposed to do?

The massive fallen tree lay there before me, blocking the road ahead. Wow. It stretched as far as I could see to the left and right. And it’s massive trunk was almost as thick as I am tall. Wow. What the hell…?

I have come so far, only to be stopped in my tracks by some freakin’ tree. This is impossible. There is no way I can move forward. Tears well in my eyes as I consider all that I’ve gone through and all I won’t see now that this is in front of me. My heart breaks and I feel so great a despair that I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy again.

How could it have come to this? Where did I go wrong? I thought this was the right way? Everything pointed to this path, but now I’m stuck. Yeah, they all told me so. I should have listened. What an idiot. Who the hell did I think I was trying to push through on a new trail? I should have stayed safe and sound where I was. At least I wouldn’t feel like crap. There’s just no way to keep going.

And so the tears come. What a cry-baby. I should have listened. Why me? Why can’t I get a break? I’m a good person. How come I can’t get where I want to go? My sobs break the silence around me in the dense forest. My grief overtakes me and I sit and cry for awhile. I deserve it anyways. Such an idiot…On and on, my tears fall until I cannot cry anymore.

I stand up. I turn and look back the way I had come. Holy…moses…look at those freaking craters. I don’t remember that bomb going off. Oh wait a minute…yes I do. I survived? Well, duh, I’m here to tell the tale aren’t I? And those barb wire fences? I climbed through those? So that’s where these scars came from. Huh. Didn’t seem all that bad at the time.

Look at all those things I’ve done! I remember that! I never thought I’d ever make it through that challenge – it was tough but here I am. I see all the people who touched my life, good and bad. I remember the lessons I learned from each one. Some of those lessons were really nasty! But man, were they good to learn. I see how many times my path was blocked, but I also see where I went around or where I climbed over or where I pushed through anyway. Huh. Didn’t think I had it in me…

I turn back to the tree in front of me. The sun has climbed higher now and sheds its light near me, on my right side. Leaning against the tree, previously hidden in shadow, I see an axe. Hmmmm…I consider this for a moment as I wipe my snotty nose.

No, that would be crazy. I’d never be able to use an axe to chop through this thing! Who am I kidding!? What is with me and these crazy ideas? I think of the blisters I would get on my hands. Yeah, but they would heal and eventually my hands would get used to it. What about my shoulders & my back? They’d never be able to take that much work. Yeah, remember when you said the same thing about your legs never being able to carry you this far? Well, they did.

Yeah, but still – I continue to argue with myself – it would be sooooo much work and would take forever! Oh my God! Whine much? Seriously! I am beginning to get annoyed with my whiner baby self. I remind myself about how many times, in fact, I had indeed chopped a lot of wood. Lots of different kinds of wood, and maybe not as big and overwhelming, but still. When you look at this big tree – it really is the same thing, just bigger. Nothing I hadn’t ever done before…

I take a tentative swing. Thud. That went in well. I try another swing, angled towards the first so that a chunk flies out. Ah ha! I try another…and another…chips begin to fly!

I grow tired…and I rest. My hands bleed…and they heal. My back burns…but it soon grows stronger. My heart waits…and then it soars as the light from the other side of the tree streams through…

 

 

How can we help you as you search for the LIGHT? Whatever your LIGHT looks like, know that it is worth it. Don’t wait for it to find you; do the work and SEE IT!

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