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We woke up on Mars…

  
This summer morning we woke to the strangest golden light emanating through the blinds…thick light and far brighter than it should have been for 8 am, but not in a usually perky morning sunshine kind of way…but heavy and strange.

We went outside to take a look. The clouds were oddly dark for the brightness of the air, and looked almost dirty, like a white blanket a kid had spilled juice on and then dragged through the sandbox. But the strangest of all was the sun. It was a perfectly round pink ball, and we could look right at it without hurting our eyes. My iPad couldn’t capture the huge, glowing pink eye in the sky…an apparition form Mordor!

“Maybe the moon stole all the light from the sun,” suggested my 5 year old. But when I looked up solar and lunar exclipses, nothing was reported. Maybe forest fires? Or maybe we really just woke up on Mars…and have become aliens in our sleep!

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We are NOT our stuff

It’s easy to get mixed up about who we are…what is important to us and where we spend our time… Sadly those two things don’t always coincide. Sometimes we spend a lot of our time dealing with stuff that doesn’t really matter. Like our junk. Our millions of clothes, books, toys, papers, household supplies etc.     There’s a saying that where your treasure is, there is your heart also. We might think that our heart isn’t in our physical possessions, but if we spend huge amounts of time buying, organizing, sorting and maintaining them, then isn’t it true? Society (or at least advertisers) actually tries pretty hard to make us believe our happiness and identity does come from what we own. We define ourselves by our possessions:

I have Ferrari = I’m successful. I wear expensive jewelry = I’m classy. I have the latest fashions = I’m attractive. I eat organic = I’m pure.

There’s nothing wrong with these good things, but none of them actaully defines the core of who we are. None of these things come with us when we die. I believe it was St. John of the Cross who said, “At the evening of our lives we will be judged on love.”     So how does stuff relate to our capacity to love? St Augustine tells us that “any lessening of concupiscience (the disordered and selfish desire for or attachment to things) means an increase in charity (generous love for others).” So the less our heart is crammed with stuff, the more room there is for people.     I want to relate this again to how we use our time. What has the time you spend dealing with your excess stuff (at least if you have too much of it like me) prevented you from doing for others? Perhaps volunteering at an old folks home, visiting a lonely relative, having a friend over who really could use a heart to heart chat, etc.     Or what does needing to constantly clean and organize prevent you from doing for yourself? Reading great books? Exercising? Meditating? Praying? Reflecting? Writing? Wouldn’t doing these things make you happier than trying to shuffle around the belongings you don’t know what to do with?     We don’t want to live caught on the surface of life, amidst our clutter. We want to go deeper, love better, ponder life’s meaning and find ways to nourish our souls. Having too much stuff can trap us in the superficial…so there’s only one solution: get rid of it and free yourself to live better!     I’ll write more on doing major decluttering soon, including insights from organizational master Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.” Until then, all the best, and remember, you are not your stuff, you are so much more! Trimming the excess clutter will only free you up to be more yourself… 

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Sleepyhead

 Nothing like an afternoon nap on a hot day…sleeping is the way to travel! ;) 

It’s been a day for pink lemonade and ice cream, and painting pictures inside in our cool ground level suite, rather than in the blaring sun. 

Hope you all sleep well this warm evening! We had a pre-bedtime splash in the kiddie pool and have the fans going….

…This brief weather-coping update is for the sake of aunties, grandmas and other relatives worried about their little peanuts roasting in the heat! :)

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Why Posting an Imperfect Post is an Act of Freedom

Lately my husband and I have been on a theology kick and read to each other before bed…until we get totally confused, inspired or one of us ends up drooling on the pillow (usually me!)…It’s been really interesting, and definitely gives us something new to talk about beyond how’s work and what did the kids do at school today.

Tonight we were reading about freedom, and it made me ponder what it really means to make a free choice, and how it relates to the stifling danger of perfectionism in writing…as perfectionism leads to the inability to make definitive choices and complete things. (Yes, being writing-obsessed, I manage to relate pretty much everything back to blogging…just ask my husband).

Anyway, the author described the misconception of freedom as the ability to make an endless succession of choices, without any of them ever being permanent and definitive. The idea that having options equals freedom, and the more options, the more free you are. “But why not?” you might ask…”Doesn’t that sound good?” The thing is to apply this idea and see where it leads. Here are some examples of how it changes, sometimes subconsciously, how we make decisions:

“I’m not going to choose what to study, because that way I can choose to study anything at all. I’m keeping my career options open.” Yes, and your empty wallet…Being open to the possibility of all jobs but having no job = unemployment, not freedom.

“I’m not going to choose someone to marry, because that way I can marry anyone at all…I’ll be so free.” Or so lonely and jaded, because it takes one real heart to love you and keep you warm at night, not several billion theoretical ones.

“I’m not going to post anything on my blog (ah, finally, blogging!) until I have something perfect. As long as it’s in my draft box, I have the freedom to keep changing it. It won’t be permanent.” Ah, yes, that horrific word….permanent! We are so afraid of it. It implies commitment, confidence, strength, endurance…yikes!

But tell me, is having a draft box full of unexplored possibilities really freedom?  Nothing wrong with drafts, but to really mean something and come alive they need to be released, imperfections and all, into the world. You need to say as a writer (or painter, photographer, chef, etc), “This isn’t perfect and I’m ok with that. It’s not perfect but it’s mine and I stand by it. This is me.”

That one irrevocable act of posting your little poem, photo, story or ponderings is a greater expression of true freedom and honesty than that of hoarding your drafts like treasures, choosing to hide them away lest they not shine as brightly in the light of day as you’d like. I think it was Julia Cameron who said that you need to be willing to be a crappy artist in order to become a great one. So be yourself, stand by your work, make a permanent choice to share your work and in that way really own it. Post that thing you’ve been hiding away so jealousy. Chances are what’s closest to your heart will resound in the hearts of others as well.  

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Brainless No-Bake, No-Measure Cookies

Perfect for a quick snack on a lazy afternoon! Ready in 5 minutes…so you can please your low-blood sugar critters before they eat each other up…even if you forgot to plan their after-school snack!

  
Here’s the basic idea…but feel free to ask for more details in the comments if you like!

1. Warm about a cup of peanut butter in a pot on medium heat. 

2. Add some apple sauce and stir.

3. Throw in some chocolate chips and mix to help them melt. 

4. Pour in a bit of (almond) milk and stir till creamy. 

5. Dump in some ground flax. 

6. Mix in quick oats until the whole thing sticky but fairly solid. 

7. Remove from heat and drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. 

8. Let cool a few minutes or until little fingers grab ’em! 

   
 

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A Father’s Gentle Strength

Being a father is being strong enough

to sacrifice everything for those you love…

constantly giving your all for your family,

bearing your little ones up with the gentleness

of someone powerful enough

to put others before himself.

Having a father is knowing you are never alone—

that there is always someone to hold your hand

and walk with you through the paths of this life

and into eternity.

How blessed are my children to have a father like this!

Thank you God for creating men who know how to love like you.

Help me always remember why I fell in love with the man

who is the father of my children,

whose love for me has become flesh

and walks among us.