to the surviving spouse who made it through Memorial Day

To the Surviving Spouse who made it through Memorial Day,

Whether you came out of your bubble or stayed engaged in all of the events throughout the weekend, you can let out that breath you’ve been holding in these past few weeks.

Wondering if people would say “Happy Memorial Day” or say nothing at all.

Wondering if people would remember your fallen hero even though you’ve forgotten a few things about them.

Hoping that if you choose to say their name or tell stories about them, that people would join you and share their own. And that the would be comfortable with the tears that may accompany those stores.

Hurting because no matter what he was like when he was alive, no matter the status of your relationship, they were a huge part of your life.

Breaking apart inside because of the impact that it has on the children. It’s so difficult to know how best to show your emotion. Too much and they feel they must become your protector and too little and they don’t know how to release their feelings in a healthy way, staying bottled up inside.

Fending off organizations, news reporters and people who only check in with you during this time of year.

Angry because your life doesn’t look like you thought it would.

Wounded because people you love and care for didn’t check in to ask after you or your child.

Avoiding sales and commercials because they seem to gloss over any real understanding of what this holiday weekend is all about.

Unfollowing feeds who you’ve shared this loss with yet they continue to share despite your outpouring or who didn’t even acknowledge the holiday at all.

Doubting yourself because last year you responded very differently than you did this year.

Maybe you’ve met a man that can take up space in your heart and help you heal some of the hurt you’ve carried, but it’s a new “dance” because you must take their feelings into consideration too.

Triggered when people attempt to mesh Memorial Day and the loss of your loved one with a political statement that moves their agenda forward.

You don’t want people to stop BBQing and boating and sit around in a circle somber and serious all weekend, but you want them to understand. To carry some of the load, to try to empathize.

Your children are growing and coping and you’re not sure of exactly what’s happening inside of them, but you know something is; you’re not sure if it’s healing or something else.

You feel judged by some of the widow community because of the way your spouse died or didn’t die and you’re not sure why there has to be another method of disunity and isolation applied to this already challenging community.

And can feel scorned by former friends of yours who are sure they are justified in their distance or lack of communication towards you because they are certain they would have handled “it” very differently. You’re no longer friends, which is another loss you grieve.

You are feeling such relief that this holiday weekend is over, but still holding your breath because of the permanence that impacts your daily life all year round.

Sweet friend, you’ve made it through another Memorial Day. I’m proud of you.

And I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t necessarily get better, but you get better at it.

You did it! Whatever it is – you’re still here. Now breathe. And cut yourself some slack. Perfect was off the table as soon as you were born and grace is available to you. Grab hold of it and offer it in truckloads to all of the above.

I’m cheering you on as you navigate this next year, in the in-between.

Sincerely,

One who gets it

 

 

 

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#44: take photos of each other

We have still been dating one another though I’ve fallen down on the job of posting about it here.

When a date comes up that doesn’t fit naturally into our way of doing it, we tend to push it off. Or rather, I do. And that is how I realize married couples slip into ruts in their dating lives.

We replace the time and effort that we initially put into our courtship – where planning time together was as important as that morning cup of coffee – with other things that slip into the schedule more easily.

Which is why “Going to an Estate Sale Together” hasn’t happened yet. One, it seems a little creepy to me, and two, we’re trying to keep fewer things in our home for that minimalist lifestyle (less stuff, more moments).

So this particular date prompt was slipped into our anniversary trip to San Antonio back in April.

Date #44: TAKE PHOTOS OF EACH OTHER

Maybe your social media profile pictures are out of date. Spend an afternoon photographing each other.

let me just snap this quick shot

There probably isn’t a better photo describing our photo taking habits than this one.

Mister tends to stop what he’s doing (when he knows I’m snapping a photo) to ready himself. He almost always shows his pearly whites, shakes out his arms letting them rest more comfortably at his sides. He becomes like a statue taking photo taking to a scientific level.

I’m in another camp. I tend to like to take photos that aren’t well planned. Photos that aren’t too posed and somehow capture the heart and personality of the people being photographed. Or perhaps the feel of the moment that I’m trying to capture.

Yep, classic another way our “scientist + creative” marriage works…

Before we matched with one another on the dating website, we both enjoyed taking photos with cameras. Mister’s focus was often on landscape + nature, mine was on people + experiences.

So when we read the date prompt about taking photos of one another, I was thrilled; we already do this regularly. In fact, Mister is moving up in the ranks of an Instagram Husband (read this for cheeky explanation) in my opinion. I kid, I kid, he takes dozens of photos for me each week and most don’t make it on Instagram, but the majority of photos I post with me in them are captured by him.

And let me tell you something wonderful about that…

There is a moment of intimacy when I’m waiting for him to take my photo. Sometimes I’m thinking about how I will be able to use the photo(s) to tell a story, to help moms be better women, to encourage women to simply be better when I’m snatched back from planning into who I’m with, captivated by the way he looks at me.

To my single friends…

Wait for a man who can’t snap a great Instagram photo because he’s so busy focusing on you. Nevermind the mountain, landscape, celebrity, attraction… every time you get your camera back, you are the subject of that photo. It’s worth waiting for.

We’ve been learning about these differences in our photograph taking mindsets for a while now, this date simply encouraged us to call them what they are. And to embrace the differences rather than be upset or divided by them.

he makes me feel like a model

me trying to be a model

it took us a lot of snaps to get this shot because of the people in the background

on the way to the best photo

I see my imperfections and see my beauty

a final celebratory sip before we wrapped our anniversary trip

Here are six of the photos Mister took of me and six of the ones I took of him; all from our 48 hour trip to San Antonio…

he’s over my taking photos at the Alamo

posed but still cute

this is what he did when I asked him to hold my purse)

one of my favorite shots from the weekend and of him; my wine sommelier

this is what it’s like to be around him

we genuinely find one another funny

When I look at each of these photos, I smile.

I’m back on that trip and in these moments (as well as the many that weren’t shared or even snapped). We slept well and ate even better and our conversation was incredibly wonderful; deep, real, and sometimes uncomfortable – but honest.

I’ve ordered many of these in print (I use Free Prints) to put up on the picture board on the entryway into our home. Even if you don’t print your photos, I highly recommend this date when you’re feeling a little glam and playful. Take some time to go back and look at the photos you took together and really talk through what you both see and feel while looking at them.

Such a simple, beautiful date.

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juicing works for me: here’s how + why I’m sticking to it

In my last post, I wrote about how I got started with juicing.

In this post, I’d like to share more about why I continue to juice daily.

Before I share the benefits I seem to continue to reap, I want to share what the process looks like in our home.

THE SHOPPING

We’ve read and heard in all juicing circles that we need to shop and juice organic fruits and veggies. In my very basic understanding, it’s because organic is supposed to ensure the foods have been planted, grown and harvested with far fewer chemicals + toxins. And since juicing shoots all the best nutrients into our bodies more quickly, we need to be mindful of what those nutrients might be laced with.

This is the same sentiment with drinking from and storing foods in more toxic, less safe containers like plastic (Tupperware, Ziploc and most of what food is sold/stored in) and aluminum for long periods of time (foil and cans for most foods).

Our goal is to switch out our plastic containers and baggies with these options: Pyrex + StasherBag completely within the next few years.

Here are a few articles (1, 2 + 3) with varying perspectives about the importance of juicing organic vs. non-organic fruits and veggies. It’s costly, sure, but so are the medical bills that come from pumping toxins into your body. Here’s one about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” for 2019 that is often referred to in articles about safe, clean fruits and veggies.

If budget is a concern for shopping and juicing organic, I’d recommend choosing a few budget-friendly organic options and juicing less frequently or juicing smaller amounts, rather than choosing non-organic produce. If you’re really stuck and can’t see this working for your budget, consider praying about it. God cares about your health and knows what’s in your banking account, you can invite Him into even this.

As we’re still fairly new at this whole juicing thing, we’re still learning and deciding which grocers have the best produce. We often frequent these places:

  1. Trader Joe’s
  2. Central Market
  3. Natural Grocers
  4. Tom Thumb

in that order…

Quality, price, and selection are most important followed by proximity and customer service. Oh, and their wine aisle – it’s a huge plus if we can get both our produce and our favorite wine in one shopping trip.

We’re still new to the juicing community, so we are really trying almost everything – even leeks! We are also extremely grateful to have so many choices and to be able to afford shopping and juicing organic.

THE JUICING

When we started juicing, I would only wash our fruits + veggies with water. Then I began washing them with this Thieves Fruit & Veggie Soak and it has been a game changer!

even organic needs to be washed

I add a small teaspoon of the soak in the bottom of a bowl with warm water. I add the fruits + veggies and let the Thieves soak do its work. You can purchase your own with my friend Tricia from here.

Up until two days ago, I would do the washing, chopping and juicing all in one sitting, every day. Then I decided to try “juice prep” and spent about 45 minutes cleaning, chopping, and storing all the fruits and veggies we purchased hoping it gets us through 7 -8 days of juicing.

An aside: here’s a soul tending tip…

While you’re doing a menial task like meal/juice prep, add another activity that you actually enjoy (like listening to worship music, a favorite album – I happened to be playing the “Little Miss Sunshine” soundtrack, a podcast, a movie or show you can listen to as background noise, hear a sermon or even play the Bible). Whatever that is, pairing a task that you may not enjoy (this isn’t my favorite part of juicing) to something that makes your soul smile, can be helpful in making this a more efficient and enjoyable task and increase your chances of doing it consistently.

Only a couple of days into it and I’m so grateful for the time saved in clean up and prep on a daily basis, making me an even larger fan of juicing.

we have plans to replace all plastic food storage containers in the next two years

I think it’s good that I spend time chopping the goodies down to these sizes because it seems to save the machine from doing extra work. Another timesaver? Leaving the skin on for most fruits and veggies.

from the Tupperware to + through the Juicer

I will drink the juice I’ve just made while prepping for the next day’s juice and cleaning the machine too.

Cleaning the machine is my least favorite part, which is why I must clean it while enjoying my fresh juice. Otherwise, the day’s plans will get in the way and it’ll be something I have to find margin for later in the busy of the day; which would be far more stressful for me.

I have to take a bristle brush to this part of the juicer. For the rest of the machine, I simply rinse out the containers and wipe down the base.

something to look forward to

On the days that my husband works outside of our home, I save his juice in the fridge for his enjoyment later in the day. Although the articles I’ve read suggest drinking the juice immediately, he’s shared noticing the difference between when he has the juice in the evening and when he skips and has to go a day or two without it.

After doing all of the prep work and cleaning for about 16oz of juice every day for the last 6 -ish weeks, I’d recommend the once a week session. Plus, ain’t it purty?

THE BENEFITS OF + ONE WARNING ABOUT JUICING 

In addition to how pretty the foods look, there are so many other benefits of juicing.

I was thrown into full menopause a short 8 weeks after having my second hysterectomy. And I felt surprised to learn about symptoms in addition to the most common or most talked about ones: hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. There was also a fogginess of mind for me and my libido was under attack. My sweat was profuse and stinky too. I was so disappointed that this was seemingly the rest of my life after having had two surgeries and an emergency blood transfusion to improve my quality of life.

After joining a Menopause Support Group on Facebook, talking with my general practitioner, my OBGYN, my holistic, faith-based chiropractor and lots of women who have tried many, many things, I was stuck on NOT relying upon medication.

It was getting rough and rougher – on my mind and on marriage – to keep trying to tough it out. I mean, I’d had a natural childbirth, certainly, I could do this menopause thing. But, I was struggling with depression and frustration, feeling embarrassed because of my body odor and flailing my arms in people’s faces to fan myself, when they were sharing their heart or allowing me to help them meet a need. It felt like too much.

After juicing for about 2 1/2 weeks consistently (almost daily), I noticed that my hot flashes had subsided, my sweat lessened and my energy and mental acuity had improved. The keys, I believe, were including a healthy dose of celery in every juice – we’re still not at celery juice as a stand-alone – and staying on top of my water consumption.

My libido has gone from “off” to a 5 or 6 (which is huge!) and climbing. My attitude is more chipper, genuinely, and I’m able to sleep better through the night.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m sold on juicing. Wishing that I’d only began sooner when younger.

One quick precaution, keep it real thing that none of the articles I read tell you, is this…

When you begin juicing consistently, be sure that you are near a bathroom where you don’t mind spending a lot of time. Do you get my drift?

Juicing provides many nutrients and vitamins – which, hooray! But, juicing also removes a lot of the toxins in your body. This is why people often do “juice cleanses”. When you get started, don’t be surprised when your Poo-poouri purchases also increase. Consider yourself warned and then keep going, it does get better.

I don’t consider myself an expert on juicing, but I also don’t believe I need to be one. Two months ago, I was depressed and whining about being attacked my menopause (yes, that dramatic) and now, I’m better. Juicing has been a big part of that.

If you’re in the season of menopause and haven’t tried juicing yet, get started, sweet woman. And if you’re younger and think menopause is a lifetime away, start juicing immediately!!! It’ll likely help with other things happening in your body and better prepare you for the later years of life.

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