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Archive for December, 2010

In retrospect: 2010

Last year at this time, I was SOOOO ready to shake the 2009 dust off my feet. It was one of the worst years of my life: physically, emotionally, and financially. I hoped to never have another repeat year.

Fortunately, 2010 was a MUCH better year. I’ll recap some of the highlights.

No one threatened to sue us. You wouldn’t believe how good that feels.

I did not develop any strange, possibly life-threatening conditions or diseases.

We met our medical deductible in August instead of March.

Brent did not have to fill out a single job application. He was promoted at work from a post-doc position to a Research Staff Member meaning that he has a stable, steady job with a good income and we’ll stay in New York for a while.

We were able to visit family in Wyoming twice. Both visits were wonderful and very fun.

The kids are helping out a lot more at home. They wash dishes very well and are getting better at cleaning bedrooms.

I haven’t gotten any phone calls from the principal about my children misbehaving in school. They are all doing fairly well.

My daughter started preschool. My baby is adorable. He learned how to walk and makes me happy just being with me.

I’ve read lots of books, scrapbooked quite a few pages and have enjoyed being creative and crafty.

2011 promises to be a good year with some interesting opportunities on the horizon. I’m looking forward to it.

How would you summarize your year? What do you hope for next year?

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Choosing Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post bashing the so-called gratitude movement. The author targeted the book,  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (which, incidentally was a book that I intensely disliked) and basically said that it is another book in a long line of attempts to subjugate women to more inequality in the world. In other words, gratitude is another way that men are working to subvert women to their evil machinations of inequality. It makes a great conspiracy theory, doesn’t it?

I responded, arguing that gratitude isn’t about the subjugation or degradation of humans, but rather that it allows people to transcend tragedy and gives them strength to endure tough situations. The author and I kind of talked circles for a bit, when I gave up. I would be the first person to say that there are still some serious problems that women face in the world: domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, etc. But I absolutely disagree that gratitude contributes to these serious social problems.

I’ve thought about that blog post for a while now. It has rumbled through my mind as I’ve carried on through life in the past two weeks. The word, “gratitude” pulsed through my mind as I lay on a table, watching my ultrasound and hearing the deafening silence where a heartbeat of a 13-week fetus was supposed to beat. It was a strange reaction, not that I was grateful for that terrible moment, but my 13-month son sat beside me in his stroller, and I could only feel moments of relief and gratitude that I had so much as I was facing a loss that hurt so much.

I subsequently miscarried a few days later, in a torrent of pain and blood. As I lay weak and exhausted in my bed, mind almost numb from what had just happened, waves of gratitude for my husband’s loving and tender care engulfed me, soothing the hurts that throbbed in my heart.

I’ve held on tight to the notion and practice of gratitude as feelings of anger and frustration have threatened to toss me overboard into the jaws of the proverbial whale, burying me in the sea of anger forever. If I let go, I don’t know if I would ever emerge from that dark abyss. And so I choose gratitude: gratitude for prayers to ease and calm my heart, gratitude for hospitals and good doctors and blood transfusions, gratitude for 5 beautiful healthy children, gratitude for a wise Heavenly Father who gave my  husband time to get home from a far-off country to help me, gratitude for good friends, gentle words of understanding and sympathy, and gratitude for so much goodness which permeates my life. 

I choose gratitude, not because it takes away my pain or makes me content with my life, but because it makes this more bearable. My feelings of gratitude remind me that there is hope and a promise of happy days to come. And it allows me to find joy in the present, to laugh at my kids’ antics, read a ridiculous recipe and find pleasure in the absurdity of it, to appreciate the accomplishments and happiness of friends and family, in short to carry on with hope.

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I was perusing a church cookbook today and came across the most appalling recipe I have ever seen. It looked so terrible, that it was elevated to awesome. I will never try it, but I do have to post it.  And not only do I find it horrifying, in a fascinating way, but it astounds me that someone actually thought it was good enough to submit to a cookbook.  If you have equally disgusting recipes, please share.

Chicken Noodle Salad

1 can chicken noodle soup

8-oz. pkg. cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 sm. package lemon Jello

1 cup hot water

2 cup. celery, sliced

2 cup green pepper, sliced

2 cup. green onion, sliced

 1 can shrimp

Heat soup to melt cheese and add mayonnaise to hot mixture. Meanwhile, dissolve jello in water and let cool. Add vegetables and shrimp. mix all together and set until firm.

So, are you gagging yet? Chicken noodle soup, lemon jello, shrimp???? The shrimp seems like a desperate attempt to turn the dish into something company worthy. And I wonder how many people actually ever ate this thing and then were sick after? I suspect the poor woman never realized that people didn’t really like her salad.

So, do you have any awesomely disgusting recipes to share with me?

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An Epiphany

Over the last several years, I’ve been carrying burdens. Burdens that really belong to other people. I’ve worried about the choices of people I love. I’ve worried about family problems that I truly have no control over. My heart was heavy with the burden of grief, pain, guilt (although that one seems inexplicable because I had no part in their actions) and worry. Slowly, I’ve begun to realize that I don’t have to carry those burdens. I can support, love, and pray for my loved ones. I can offer advice when asked. But I don’t have to heft the burdens of their choices upon my shoulders.

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