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a seasoned hostess’ tips for successful soirées

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Photos of the week…

the secrets to hosting

I am an extrovert.

As an extrovert, a good party invigorates me. As a mother of four, we can stay longer and visit more if the party is at our house.

The day of parties came after two days of rain brought to us by the Pineapple Express.

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Middle schoolers took to the park for their own party finishing off spring break.

 

Tip #1

know when to outsource

There was a time when our parties featured homemade bread, homemade marshmallows, extensive decor, linens and pumpkin parmesan gnocchi.

With children, our practices changed, but the spirit of hosting did not.

On Divine Mercy Sunday my eldest child received her First Holy Communion. Following morning mass, we held the first of two parties of the day. I knew I needed some help.

Given the choice between a flower crown or a veil, Miriam chose the flower crown.

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Rather than make it myself, I ordered from Kelley Flower Farm a crown of yellow and white flowers, (in season ranunculus) and blue ribbon, reminiscent of Our Lady of Lourdes who Bernadette observed wore a blue sash and gold roses at her feet. I love how easy these ladies are to work with. A few Facebook measurements, a follow-up phone call and we were set. I dashed through the rain as the Farmer’s Market open to pick up our prize.

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Tip #2

know the things you’re set on and find a way

I had a crazy idea for Miriam’s First Communion Dress. I loved my wedding dress, the sight of it brought my joy, but I never saw it because it was an enormous dress in an enormous box. Taking the scissors to it, drying my eyes, I removed the lace and mailed it with two yards of a silk-cotton blend to a dear friend in Minnesota.

We talked for weeks (months) over details for this special gown. The dress that came back to me was stunning and perfect for a little girl.

 

 

Tip #3

avoid tasks that require work when the guests arrive…i.e. don’t cook.

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The morning’s festivities included party platters inspired by Real Simple, my go-to for stress-free parties. We served an antipasto platter and a platter with carved ham (half ham from Costco, grandmother’s meat slicer) with green apples and brie served with Hawaiian rolls (from Costco). All the ingredients were prepped the day before and plated just before party time.

For dessert we served shortbread dipped in chocolate, madeleines and bite-size honey-lime tarts (from the Magnolia magazine), provided by my mother.

The less work you do once people arrive, the better. We kept the menu light and delicate for my Little Flower.

We try to plan menus that avoid the use of utensils.

Tip #4

remember how party plans affect others

My husband was tired after playing cumbia through the night. My four-year-old struggled to understand that the morning party was not for her. To honor that sweet thing, I planned ahead and ordered two bouquets the girls.

I love Kelley Flower Farm‘s practice of adding herbs to their arrangements. It adds another level to the sensory experience of holding a beautiful arrangement of flowers, and those double ruffle tulips, oh my!

Unfortunately, I think my five-year-old son is still reeling from all the attention the girls got.

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Tip #5

themes make planning easier

Embracing the spring theme, my mother decorated a homemade carrot cake with a basket weave and daisy spritz, complete with a real basket handle. There was also a movie theme, so we served nachos and pizza.

You can use a theme to determine every detail or use it to act as a loose guide.

I prefer the loose guide approach.

Let your theme narrow down the colors and menu for the celebration.

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Tip # 6

the one thing that matters most is the people

Take a few moments to lay down, close your eyes and gather your thoughts for ten to twenty minutes before guests arrive. Let go of anything that was not finished, the unswept floors, the dirty walls, the imperfect dishes, the burnt Madeleines. Let it go.

We do not celebrate to make Pinterest and Instagram moment, we celebrate to be with others, to honor special events, to teach our children what matters.

So, whether you eat from fancy platters or Costco take-n-bake, in the end, what matters are the moments you share and those you share them with.

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Seeing Beyond the Storm Cycle of Anxiety

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Anxiety is one of the most-widely common mental illnesses in the United States. We live in an age of anxiety. While often referred to as an illness, it functions more as a thought and feeling response to physical or circumstantial conditions. Some walk around with low-grade anxiety all day, every day; while others, normally calm, experience full-flung panic attacks in the face of traumatic triggers.

A little stress can be good, but when stress becomes an inappropriate response (disproportionate or present without normal life stressors) we begin to have a problem. Stress that hinders your normal activities by causing you to lose sleep, change your appetite or avoid people or circumstances because of the anxiety you will feel, needs to be addressed.

Today I write directly to those who experience anxiety. Even if you do not personally struggle with it, I invite you to read on to better know the experience of those who do.

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Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Anxiety is a monster that makes the anxious feel small and powerless, throwing us around, knocking our heads against doubts and insecurities, whispering fears and threats into our ears until we can no longer see straight.

With each doubt, we begin to analyze and analyze, look for evidence, think if we can just find answers, we will find peace. Then the monster whispers…or shouts louder.

We analyze again, go back in time, mark up a tally sheet of all the interactions we had with a person until we are wiped out, exhausted and have pushed everyone away who could not cool the rage of the anxiety monster inside us.

The analysis gets us nowhere. Like tinted sunglasses, anxiety makes us see things through a filter. We cannot tell if it really happened the way we remember because it was so long ago no one else remembers.

Emails and phone calls begin to come out of nowhere. In such detail, you outline, “I did, she did that.”

What we walked with peacefully for so long becomes a cloud that takes hold of us. Did it always make us feel this way?

No, the spotlight of anxiety is on it now.

We want to know if our fears match up with what really happened. You try to find something stable to anchor yourself while being tossed around. It feels like a storm.

But it is a monster.

The cycle continues as you try to find some evidence to validate impressions or make it so you do not have to tear yourself apart in the condemnation which comes from anxiety.

It wants you to tear yourself apart.

But you know what, it is not healthy. It is not healthy to dig up little moments two to five years ago and say, “see what you did” to a friend. It can only lead to bitterness, resentment or insecurity.

Anxiety will not give you all the evidence. When something happened so long ago , the person can only remember it as well as she can. There might be missing details and you would never know because no one else remembers it. Memory is faulty.

Things that are long past do not make for good evidence toward the conclusion your anxiety suggests.

Memory is often unmerciful. Mercy makes excuses for others. “She was in crisis”; “She was stressed”; “She gets impatient easily”; but does not draw conclusions from them.

To be able enough to say “no” to those thoughts is part of freedom.

A lot of time anxiety will not let us.

In the midst of it, it seems impossible to see any other world than that which is storm-tossed. But there is help. Learning about how anxiety works can help you divert the storm as it brews. Therapeutic techniques can help mitigate its effects. For some, medication can help you get your bearings so that you can implement the things you have learned.

The monster is not you.

The battle is not between you and your neighbor, but between you and anxiety.

We are meant for freedom.

Life can be more than this.

Life can be good.

How to use Holiday decorations to teach religious traditions that matter

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Photos of the week…

Easter Edition

Like Christmas, Easter has its octave because a big celebration requires more than just one day of celebrating. After the octave, the Easter season lasts until Pentecost.

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Last year, I planned my Easter decorations while I sat beside Peter’s hospital crib. The fulfillment was more than just some decor decisions. It was the sign of the promise that “a time would come when God would fill what he had emptied.”

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Easter felt quieter this year. The emptiness of a child gone held its own against the joys of togetherness and our salvation. I felt at home in the cross. Still, I decorated. Regardless of how I feel in grief, the importance of the day remains and it is my duty to show it to my children.

I show it through bunting.

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Our traditions emerge. With Dollar Tree flowers, ribbon and colored elastic from Rainbow Fabrics the children decorate their own baskets. We’ve learned tricks here and there to not destroy the baskets in the process.

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Last year, the idea came to me to give them each a color to search for. The miraculous thing is these greedy little imps help each other. The fun is in finding.

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Peter in his two-year-old glory is a hospital baby no more. He is part of a tribe, hunting for eggs, even if he will not eat their contents.

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His two-year-old willfulness shows the strength of his health…and my patience.

God, it’s good.

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Those who grieve know the grief grows quieter but does not disappear. I thought I would feel a rousing joy at Easter like I once did, but the season of life has changed. And that’s okay.

Good things run deeper than emotion. God’s grace, his faithfulness, the gift of his Son, Christ’s self-emptying for our sake to show us the way…even at the Resurrection, the scars remained.

Christ showed us the way, perfectly.

For that, I am grateful.

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are you ready for spring cleaning?

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Some lighter fare today while California is drenched in the pineapple express…my lawn overfloweth…

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch

I do not know if I can look at spring-cleaning the same after reading “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

 “Well, now that’s off our hands, we’ll start house-cleaning tomorrow, bright and early.”…

Everything in the house was moved, everything was scrubbed and scoured and polished. All the curtains were down, all the feather-beds were outdoors, airing, all the blankets and quilts were washed. From dawn to dark Almanzo was running, pumping water, fetching wood, spreading clean straw on the scrubbed floors and then helping to stretch the carpets over it, and then tacking all those edges down again.

Days and days he spent in the cellar. He helped Royal empty the vegetable-bins. They sorted out every spoiled apple and carrot and turnip, and put back the good ones into a few bins that Mother had scrubbed. They took down the other bins and stored them in the woodshed. They carried out crocks and jars and jugs, till the cellar was almost empty. Then Mother scrubbed the walls and floor. Royal poured water into pails of lime, and Almanzo stirred the lime till it stopped boiling and was whitewash. Then they whitewashed the whole cellar. That was fun…

The whole cellar was fresh and clean and snow-white when it dried…”

 

With the advent of warm air and sunshine, especially after a wet and oddly-chilly March, our bodies pick up on a renewed out-of-doors energy. We have been cooped up too long. The windows must be open.

With the gusts of April breeze blowing the curtains, it is time to breathe new life into a stuffy home.

We accomplish this, by moving the furniture.

Is spring cleaning your goal or just something you hear about on television and in ancient children’s books about farm life? Perhaps it is something you intend to do, but never quite get to. Perhaps you learned long ago cleaning was not your forte so you outsource the process.

Whatever your ability and time, I recommend an examination of some areas. In Hughson, April is the perfect time.

Closets: go through your closets. Do you wear everything in there? Are there pieces you hate but cannot get rid of? Put it in a bag and do not look back. Same goes for every other storage space you have. It is amazing how unnecessary or unwanted things accumulate because of limited garbage-can space. Plan to donate, mend, or sell during the City-Wide Yard Sale.

Dust

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Photo by sahar kanyas on Unsplash

vacuum, shampoo, mop, whatever it takes to get those mites out. Work based on the time you have. Start from the ceiling then work your way down to the floor.

 

Refresh

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Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash

change up the décor, shop your storage closets for new ideas. First, take everything down, then put it up in a new way. Switch objects from one room to another. Don’t love it? Never use it? Donate or sell at your yard sale…of give to your neighbor to sell at hers.

 

Organize

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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

Before binging on bins at Target, start with cardboard boxes as drawer dividers and cabinet organizers. Find out what you need, how the space will work best. When you’re done, recycle your boxes at the City Wide Clean-Up day or, if they are still in good shape, post on Nextdoor.com as free moving boxes.

 

Garden

 

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Photo by Kathryn Anne Casey for the Hughson Chronicle

 

it intimated me for so long. I cannot say I love it, but the delight in seeing something grow is restorative. If you do not love dirt, bribe an old-enough child to weed, hire a neighbor kid or a professional gardener to get you on the right track. The pleasure of walking outside and noticing a flower here or a tomato plant there helps us refocus from our busy lives to the smallness of the moment.

 

Plan

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Make a shopping list and list of projects as you work.

You do not have to accomplish everything in one day. Make a list of what your house and family needs this spring and break it into bite-size chunks big enough to accomplish and small enough not to overwhelm.

 

Enjoy

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What good is all the work if we do not take a moment to savor the goodness of life, of home, of community and the beauty of spring.

Waiting for Easter

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The clouds rolled in on that Friday called good. What was I doing? My Lent was a mess. After two years of living Lent, I wanted to go back in time, to simply fast and pray. It happened, but halfway through I dropped the prayer and the fasting cost me my peace.

On Holy Thursday I read about a 3-D image researchers created from the Shroud of Turin, the greatest understanding we now have of how Christ might have looked. I felt propelled into the Triduum, into thoughts of him.

And Good Friday came.

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In the depths of my youthful, adolescent, spiritual zeal, Good Friday was unspeakably painful. I was lost without my Lord in the Tabernacle.

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When we began to live our Lent, first at Benioff Children’s Hospital, then, last year, with visits to the cemetery, I no longer looked for suffering. I looked for hope.

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I lived in Lent. More than any other season since my Celeste died, this season made sense. But how could Easter? I looked past the cross and saw nothing. I no longer knew what life meant beyond the cross.

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And as the dawn of Good Friday rose, and I with it, I felt a radical peace. Christ was with us at each step, intimately. He bore all suffering in his life, and he bore it perfectly. He walked with us, and he will show me the way as I try to live in hope and peace.

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Then maybe, just maybe, as I keep my heart open from this place of being totally understood, he will teach me what it means to hope in the Resurrection.

 

“There would come a time when God would fill what he had emptied,”

Br. Benito, S.J., quoted by Mother Teresa in Come by my Light.

 

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Living on Hope in a World of Tears

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Today is Holy Saturday. Christ waits for us.

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Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.

Hope is good.

Hope is the thing we feel when we desire something in the future, which we do not possess right now. That thing is difficult to obtain, but it is possible.

If we did not think it was possible, we would despair.

Despair is a bit like hope, in that it has to do with the future. Its difference is that it has given up the belief that the thing hoped for will ever come, will ever materialize. It seems impossible.

On Sunday afternoon, we sat around a platter of homemade pretzels and homebrewed beer. The conversation came to silence as we lamented the many “messed up” spheres of the world. Somehow it feels easier for the conversation to go in this direction when the sun shines no more than one day at a time and I am using the dryer again instead of the clothesline.

Hope does not happen automatically. Because it desires something we cannot see, it involves our mind, our will. I choose to hope.

Outside influences can build hope. One, because they make something possible. Like if I land that job, I can live the lifestyle I want…or a conversation leads to reconciliation…or a visit to a new doctor might mean health is just around the corner. By teaching and persuasion, people can increase hope in others because they show that the thing hoped for is possible.

Experience itself can give us hope, showing us the thing we thought we could never survive, that would be impossible, is possible. I lived to tell.

In the same way, experience can work against our hope. The young usually are more hopeful than the old, having so much future before them and so few memories behind, Thomas Aquinas wrote: “youth lives much in hope.” With their energy, the arduous is all the more exciting because it will be a challenge. Unfamiliar with their short-comings, they see the world as open and everything obtainable, if they only go after it.

Then, despite the efforts on the part of some to encourage doubt, the experience of the old can spur onto action the hope in the young. “He went through so much,” they say, “so I can get through this.”

The stories you tell matter.

But do you believe them yourself?

I find myself at those crossroads, feeling aged by my experiences yet young enough to be swooped up by the policy and politics seeping out of my online newsfeed.

When things begin to feel impossible, I shift my focus to asking, “what is possible?” Then I come to the principle of subsidiarity. In Catholic social teaching, subsidiarity means “matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.” We can affect the greatest and best change in the smallest units of society.

When my heart fears for the future of healthcare in America or I despair of the possibility of productive and efficient action in California, I turn to what I see happening here, on the local level.

In our family, we are breaking generational cycles. We are doing everything we can to raise little people full of life, love, virtue and civility.

In our neighborhood, we are saying hello, dropping off a bag of leftover cookies to the neighbor or an extra loaf of bread.

In our parish, putting our passion to work in the way that works for our family and (hopefully!) benefits our parish family.

In our town, engaging and celebrating alongside Hughson through Love Hughson and the Fruit and Nut Festival.

Hope springs us to action. It feels good to hope, even though the road will be rough. Hope keeps us focused.

The little sacrifices of Lent add up. They show me what my will is capable of. Self-discipline is possible. And I am weak.

The road is hard, but not impossible.

“Hope springs eternal,” wrote Alexander Pope. I choose to keep hoping, to keep acting. I hope you will, too.

Poetry is a photograph with words

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Photos of the week…or…

Due to some technical issues, my photos of the week are tucked away, safely on a device where they will not be disturbed, until my husband returns from his musician’s retreat.

I offer you this instead, a day late.

How did I become a writer? Because the idea of taking a photograph with words fascinated me. Poetry is a photograph with words. It goes deeper than a photograph. Beyond the scene, it seeks to capture one moment of the emotion.

Let’s see if I succeed:

When I awake and see the rain my mind goes to sleepA dull sound echoes throughout the dayNot fierce enough to be a stormNor hopeful enough to bring a rainbowbut the steady downpour that covered the sky and house in s.png

And then…

a little hand between the daffodilsa small voice asserts her willdefying grammarimploring eyes intent to controla gentle cuddle restores my roleas s toddler's mother.png

 

In Silence, We Can See: the value of rediscovering silence during parenthood

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As the children’s activity and noise levels evolve to busier and louder levels, my thoughts slowly recede into hiding, fearful to emerge. My brain shuts off. I can begin to lean on blogs and podcasts for mental life support.

Books provide nourishment. After choosing to set aside one sort-of beneficial book and one beneficial-but-massive book, I quickly found their replacements. Two books of thoughtful essays turned my fancy and filled my cup. The beautiful photography and layout of “Brand Brilliance” helped my soul to breathe.

But it was not enough.

The three older kids went to spend the night with the grandparents. I turned on the podcasts to enjoy without having to make conversation. I washed the windows knowing they would stay clean without grubby finger smudges and tongue residue for at least twelve hours. While a social two-year-old alone without his team is no picnic, once settled into bed, I was free to read.

I held before me a kernel gained from one of the essays I read in the morning titled “Reverence” by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Sounds smart, doesn’t it?

In it, von Hildebrand succinctly writes about the value of things. Everything has value. We have three ways to approach the value of a thing.

First, with smugness, like I know everything. With that arrogance or know-it-all-ness, I walk around telling the world what’s what. To that person, the world looks flat and two-dimensional, because there is nothing to be discovered.

The second is with an eye to usefulness. How can this thing or that person serve me? If it cannot, it is merely black-and-white in my eyes. Only the things that can enhance my knowledge, advance my product, increase my pleasure draw my eye. The world, except for me, is also flat and lifeless.

The third way is with reverence, “It enables the spiritual eye to see the deeper nature of every being.” The person takes an open posture, rather than inserting his or her own thoughts and opinions into the matter, sits back, and “leaves to being the space it needs to unfold itself.”

The best in their fields in psychology, philosophy, science, journalism, any art at all, are capable of this. There may be hypotheses or goals, but the person is open to seeing what comes, to learning the story of the other, putting himself in the other person’s shoes. Thus they discover, the “value inherent in every stone, a drop of water, in a blade of grass, precisely as being, as an entity that possesses its own being, which is such and not otherwise.”

Parenting requires this openness to the other.

The ability to turn and truly see the other. It feeds the little moments and the big. Perhaps more relatable than von Hildebrand, Jack from the show “This is Us” explains, “A big grand gesture, it’s not about the actual thing that you do…It’s about intent. It’s about taking the time to tell the person you care about, I see you, I hear you, I know exactly what you need right now and I’m showing how important that is to me.”

It begins with truly seeing.

When I lay down at night in the silence of a house with only one child, not at the helm but in bed, I experienced something I had not experienced in weeks: my thoughts. True my thoughts kept me up after watching an unexpectedly gruesome television show weeks ago, but they were more flashback and visual. These were thoughts, words, pouring through my mind processing the things I read and the events of the day. Before that evening, they were not strong enough to cut through the clutter of technology and prattle of children. It needed space. It needed silence.

I am going to implement “rest time” once again when I make my relentless children occupy assorted places in the home with walls between them to muffle their conversations. I will seek for myself a quiet hiding spot. I will read. And hopefully, I will think. In turn, I suspect I will see clearly once again.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Three ways to savor the goodness of the moment

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Feature photos of the week (ix)

My inclination is to workaholicism. On Thursday, March 15, I finished the final edit of my book and book proposal and sent it off to four lucky publishers. Despite appearances, send it off shook me quite a bit. The act of submitting one’s work for evaluation…is it worth it…is it good enough…

I have months to wait to find out.

In the meantime, I am enjoying not working (as much). My goal was to submit by summer. Goal met.

Now I reflect on life, more than usual, more than just for the sake of writing and producing something to publish, but because I see my patience worn thin. The kids are tired of me working so much, as is the spouse, as am I.

This week is all about savoring the small moments.

Take accidents with a dose of laughter.

A few items were delivered by mistake in Peter’s medical shipment. We know how to make the most of these errors.

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Watch when they don’t think you’re watching.

“Rest time” is a joke. Two children chose to rest out of doors before the rainy season began again.

It fills my heart to hear them talk together, play together, build their world together. We cannot give them everything. I am so glad we gave them each other.

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Love your bed.

I am on the hunt for the perfect set of sheets. Pima or Supima cotton percale, long-staple, pure white sheets that will not drive us into debt. Is it so much to ask? Apparently, because for the second time since this intentional search, the fitted sheet has worn thin and torn.

Time to invest. Enter Brooklinen, previously given loving looks of longing but avoided because of the high sticker shock.

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Then I read the website.

“We take great pride in the craftsmanship of our sheets and expertise of our manufacturing team. As such, we provide a lifetime warranty on all of our sheets. If your sheets ever pill, rip, or fray, simply give us a shout and we’ll repair it. If a repair is impossible, we will replace the item free of charge.”

  1. Lifetime guarantee…I started a live chat, they really mean it, even though they recommended replacing the sheets every two years, they will still guarantee them.
  2. They will try to repair first. The EPA estimates about 21 billion pounds of textiles go into our landfills each year. I am so pleased to see a company making the effort.

I have not made the bed yet with the new sheets. I want to wash the sheets on a sunny day to dry on the clothesline. Crisp white sheets, the fragrance that comes with fresh air and not another additive, that moment when I quote my three-year-old, “my feet are fighting” because I cannot stop moving them around the bed, feeling the goodness of the moments, the goodness of sheets, the goodness of home.

Note: I wish this were a sponsored post and contained affiliate links, but it is not. 

 

What I Learned This Winter

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Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.

When do you take the opportunity to look back? We often do it at the turn of the New Year, or at the end of a time commitment, like a month-long fast from shopping or alcohol. We live in a 24/7 world where everything is available, all the time. Without the natural breaks in the world around us (like blizzards and the seasons I wrote about recently), it is all too easy to stay swept up in the energy and movement of the world, never stopping to ask, “how did that go? What am I grateful for? What did I gain? Where was I weak?” and committing to improve in the next go-around.

So, along with a small sector of the internet, I want to participate in a quarterly reflection considering what I learned in the past season. I share it with you and invite you to share your list with others. This winter, I learned…

How to say, “I miss you” at the grave of my stillborn child.

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To ask that person to coffee.

I met at a woman who is a former broadcast journalist. After recalling the coaching from a “Real Simple” magazine feature years back, I sent an email asking her for coffee. There I learned her tips and recommendations to help me improve interviewing.

A voice recorder is an amazing interview asset.

Rather than stare at the screen of my phone to find the voice recorder application, I purchased a recorder (life is better with buttons). Using it, I relaxed and felt able to fully listen and hear the story of the interviewee. Too much energy had been spent worrying if I would remember the facts. Knowing they were safe, I loosened up and focused on meeting the person. Amazingly enough, when the recorder malfunctioned, I lost the interview but still remembered everything I needed to…except the names! Paper and pen will still accompany me.

Post-holiday blues exist.

During Advent, I threw myself so heavily into to crafts and the buzz of the holiday season. When it passed, I saw how empty I’d become. Things were so good, I had forgotten to pray, to seek silence, to slow down, sit a while and read to my children.

My first-vocation comes first.

In the fervor of a new career, the career of my dreams, I dived deeper and deeper, letting writing work seep into every still moment of the day. Then I missed the moments with my children, and their behavior reflected that. I stepped back, edited my schedule and stopped spending so many evenings out.

The glory of morning chores is real.

We practiced consistent discipline, used catchphrases to remind them what good behavior means, and implemented morning, afternoon and evening chores, on a list for each child. We knew what to ask of them and they anticipate what will be asked of them. When my son and I hit the road to San Francisco for a brief hospitalization things were okay at the Casey House.

Use Turbotax to file self-employment taxes.

Remind myself to be patient.

Little moments of impatience took hold without me realizing it. It is much more peaceful to be a patient person (or to pretend to be a patient person).

If another layer of my support system is peeled back, I will be okay.

We learn the tools for coping, of often through the help of another person. When that person is gone, we still have the tools, we just need to remember to use them

Take relationships at face value, believe people who say they care.

There is baggage around that one. Often, recognizing the pattern is the first step.

If you decide to list a handful of things you learned this season, feel free to share it with me at Writer@kathrynannecasey.com. I’d love to hear from you.

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