Keep on moving

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Fall is quickly approaching, and I could not be happier about it.  Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the crispness in the air, and the fact that I can wear jeans and booties again!  I adore all things pumpkin and basically, everything about this season.  But this year, it seems a little sweeter.  It was ten years ago this month that I made the cross-country trek to Southern California to start a new life.  When I reflect on all that has happened in this past decade, I am blown away.  God’s goodness is overwhelming. Continue reading “Keep on moving”

Life Simplified – Part 2

With the way life’s been going lately, I’m grateful for simple things.  Meals that are low maintenance, our lack of extracurricular activities in this season of life (at least for the two little ones), and a smaller house that is not over cluttered, just to name a few.  My little guy was sick and feverish this week, so that meant even less things than normal got done.  Despite his clinginess and our collective lack of sleep, I still managed to cook every night this week.  That does not typically happen when things get crazy around here.  Part of this can be attributed to good meal planning and a slow cooker, and part is due to a visiting cousin who was such a big help all week.  I don’t know what I would have done without her!

I hope she didn’t mind the simple meals I fed her, but sometimes simple is good.  One night we had slow cooker spaghetti squash and meatballs.  Another evening was Greek salads using rotisserie chicken.  One night we made pork chops in the slow cooker and served with broccolini.  Easy, but healthy and all whole foods.  I’ve gravitated to those types of meals over the last year or so and try to plan out my meals to minimize waste and cut costs.  Of course, sometimes I’ll get in a creative mood and will make something a little more complex.  But especially on weeknights, I feel like the easier, the better.

As I mentioned, having a smaller house means less mess and clutter overall.  With kids it feels impossible to avoid clutter altogether, but I try to do a sweep of the kids’ toys every few months where I swap out certain ones and pitch others.  I also keep a donate box in the garage that I am continuously adding to.  We also have our home professionally cleaned twice a month which is honestly the best thing ever.  Otherwise, nothing would ever be clean at the exact same time.  I’m so grateful to have this luxury, and it’s one I do not take for granted!

The past few weeks I’ve also been trying to unsubscribe to junk emails as they come in rather than just hitting delete.  I get so annoyed with all those emails clogging up my inbox and then I tend to miss the more important ones.  I don’t even know how I got on some of those email lists!

In this stage of life, I’m also conscious of not overcommitting and tend to think less is more as far as scheduled activities with the kids are concerned.  I know myself well enough to do this with my own time too.  I’ve had to scale back on most volunteer work, knowing it’s a healthy decision at this time in my life.  I know in a different season I’ll be ready to embrace those things again, but my children are currently my main mission and I’m okay with that.

I don’t log onto social media often, and that’s another way to minimize feeling pulled in several different directions (’cause that happens all day long anyway with kids).

All of these things help me feel like I’m not a slave to certain tasks, possessions, and activities – cooking will always be there, but no reason to complicate it.  Life is so busy as it is, that even with these simplified points, it still feels chaotic!

I’ll leave you with a great website and some tips to simplify your life that I found useful and affirmed my decisions.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying no if your plate is full, and taking a step back when life is in a crazy season.  Sometimes slowing down helps us better soak up the simple, and often, best things of this life.

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My Shining Superstar

On Tuesday, after my little guy woke from his nap, the three of us ran to the grocery store for our weekly shopping.  About halfway through the trip, I stopped to browse the meat department when all of a sudden I heard a crash and my kids crying.  I instantly turned around to find my grocery cart on its side on the floor with its contents everywhere.  My son had been in the front part and was now face down on the tile with his arm trapped under the cart and my daughter was lying to the side on the floor.  I quickly got my son out as strangers surrounded me.  I then grabbed my daughter with my other arm.  I sat down and held them both as they screamed in my arms.  I literally felt like I was in shock – people picked my stuff up and put it back in the cart and asked how they could help me.  Quite a difference from the shopping trips I am used to.

I was so worried the kids were seriously hurt, especially my little guy – but both stopped crying after a minute or two and seemed to be fine other than some scrapes.  Apparently my little girl had climbed on the end of the cart and swayed it to the side a bit, and down it went.  My gosh, why can’t we seem to catch a break?  It really feels like one thing after another lately.  While I’m so incredibly thankful my children are healthy after hospital visits last month and this minor incident, sadly, we are grieving a death in the family this week.

So many things are making me feel scattered – plus I’ve been sick – so I’m definitely not on my A-game.  In fact, I am far from it.  When I took my daughter to school Monday, the teacher informed me it was her week to be “superstar” which they would have reminded me on Friday but she was out sick with a cold.  So when you’re superstar, you get to take on a variety of tasks like act as line leader, and pick out songs and activities for the class.  Also, the parent is to bring a snack and the child can bring a favorite toy in from home.  So on Tuesday I made sure to purchase a snack and we showed up Wednesday with her toy to share as well.  I was feeling proud of myself for remembering those things – that is, until her teacher asked, “Where’s her superstar poster?”  There’s a poster?  What?  She then explained I need to do a poster of pictures, stickers and the like for my daughter to show the class during her week as superstar.

Okay, let me get right to that.  The many small challenges that ensued after that to complete said poster became almost comical.  I’ll spare you of the boring details, but I had a few of my girlfriends laughing as I texted them updates of the ludicrous journey.  One being this:

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You get the idea.  I kept asking, does this stuff happen to other people?!  All you can do is chuckle after awhile.

I can’t help but feel the scene at the grocery store is an analogy of my life at the present time.  Sitting on the floor, holding both of my crying kids, with all of my things scattered around me.  Paralyzed with my hands so full.  My children are both in a clingy, ‘wanting mommy’ state, and I am feeling stretched a little thin in more ways than one.  Sleep has been all over the place with both kids, and it seems like sickness keeps knocking us down.  In my mind, I want to forge ahead, quickly leaving these difficult days behind.  But I am sitting.  I’m as scattered as can be, my life’s plate feels full.  I hope I’ll be able to stand up soon.

I’m choosing to be grateful for overall health, wellness and all of the blessings I’ve been given.

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

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 {photo courtesy of my little superstar and her poster}

 

Social Distortion

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve made it known before that I’m not a huge fan of social media.  In fact, last year I deleted my personal Facebook account on a whim, and never looked back.  I kept finding myself wasting time on it, so one day I cancelled it to prove to myself it wasn’t a sort of ‘idol’ in my life.  And I hated that I often logged on at home with my kids when I felt I needed a slight zone-out or link to the outside world.  I don’t think that’s always a bad thing in and of itself, but I was feeling slightly addicted.

So then besides Facebook, there’s Instagram and Pinterest, both of which I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love Instagram for seeing the pictures of my friends’ children and pets and lives in general.  Pinterest is good for putting together my favorite things into one organized place.  I find most of my recipes on there and I have actually done some of the home projects I’ve pinned.

So what is it exactly that I dislike about social media?  Besides the mindless, unproductive zone-out it provides, it feels like a moment-to-moment update for some people which makes me wonder if they’re really ‘present’ in their days.  I also tend to think certain moments are sacred and not meant to share with so many – but, if the ‘poster’ has no problem with it, then why should I?

I’m starting to realize this is my own issue and has nothing to do with anyone else.  It’s me who needs to put on a filter, and have a much less critical lens.

A couple weeks ago I had lunch with a friend, Bekah, who helped me see that the proudly displayed projects and carefully staged pictures are people’s ‘work’ and what feeds their creative soul, much as writing does for mine.  So why am I hating on it?

My own insecurity, in a nutshell.

I’m alone in this land of stay-at-home momville (at least in the sense that I have no adults at my “job” to connect with), so I guess I want to feel that others are having a challenging day if I am too.  When I log onto social media at the end of such days, I’m like, are you kidding me?  Even though that picture has absolutely nothing to do with my own day or my own circumstances.  It may be a gorgeous home project, a four-course homemade meal or an activity someone crafted with their kids – and I automatically feel like I can’t compare.

The truth is no one asked me to compare.  It was just a picture, a simple moment in time.  I have no idea what happened before that picture or the challenges that went into making said project – the kid who threw a tantrum as Mom was chopping and prepping food, the baby screaming as a mother tried connecting with her toddler for the fun craft she prepared.  There is a sense of accomplishment that goes into almost any project when you have children running around, so why not celebrate it?

As hard as it is to not compare, we are all human and have that tendency.  A subject I’ve written about before, comparison truly is the thief of joy.  I’m trying to look at social media from a new perspective, one that views the post or picture for just what it is – a tiny sliver of a beautiful friend’s day.

I’m also realizing social media is a source of tension for me because it has created loss in a way.  I’m such a “story” type of person – I love hearing people’s triumphs, their struggles, their journeys, and their hearts.  When I see a post or a picture, I don’t always know the story behind it and I find it sad that I am now forced to fill in the gaps myself.

Before, we were on the phone or in person sharing our battles and our celebrations, the trying moments and the small victories.  Now I see them on Instagram or a newsfeed and I wonder why I didn’t know or hear it personally.  In some ways this world of social media has created a disconnection or maybe even a false sense of being connected.

Obviously, there are also positives about social networking or no one would ever utilize it.  I get to remain a small part of old friends’ lives who I would have likely lost touch with otherwise.  I’m grateful I get to see their children grow up from afar and be in ‘the loop’ in many ways.

What’s hard is when you choose to not be on social mediums and you miss out on these things because of it.  People think they told you, but nope.  They assumed you knew because they posted it on Facebook.  I’m sure I missed out on many an event or announcement over the past year and probably still do, because I’m not in the habit of signing on regularly.

But I will gladly miss out on a large part of that world, if it means I’m focusing my attention on what’s actually in front of me – in person.  I’ll pick up the phone and call a friend to check in, and I’ll try living life in the present without staring down at a phone or tablet.

As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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