Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebrating Jack

On this date 31 years ago, I became an aunt. I was only 10 years old. After yearning for a younger sibling, this was the next best thing! 

Fast forward 17 years. I had moved to sunny California and my nephew Jack would spend his spring and summer breaks visiting, with a friend or two tagging along. He was a burst of energy into our lives; I remember feeling so sad when it was time for them to go home. And the house felt empty afterwards.

Jack was adventurous and was always up for something new. I'm definitely more cautious and reserved, but his desire to try everything and fully experience life was contagious. I think that's why he was so much fun to be around. 

Just over three years ago, Jack lost his life to cancer. He was only 27 years old. It's not the same without him. His absence is felt. 

One thing I have learned about grief is that you never get over a loss. Losses change you forever. 

Today Jack would have been 31 years old. 
I wish he was here to celebrate. We all miss him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

arugula, tuna & cannellini bean salad

It's hot out! This is the perfect healthy and hearty salad that requires little more than assemblage. I estimate we've made it about 75 times! No kidding.

1 package of arugula
2 cans of tuna packed in olive oil
1 can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 Tbsp of drained capers
1/4-1/2 diced red onion
Red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp of dijon mustard (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Assemble in a serving bowl:
Drained tuna (reserve olive oil for dressing)
Red onion

For the dressing:
Drain the olive oil from the tuna into a small bowl
Add red or white wine vinegar to taste (no more than 1/4 the amount of olive oil; add more olive oil if needed)
Add dijon mustard and whisk dressing
Pour over assembled ingredients and toss

Here is my inspiration for this salad:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's the good news?

We all need to vent at times. We need to spend a few minutes talking about a crappy day, soliciting the support of a friend or loved one. But sometimes it's hard to know when to stop. And hearing someone else go on and on about a negative topic can be tiresome.

In our house, we play the "What's the good news?" game. It's a great way to shift the focus from a negative topic to something more positive. Asking this question is also a good way to send a message to the complainer: It's time to move on.

Even better, ask the question without a negative topic looming in the foreground. If we had kids, I think I would ask this question daily. We can always find the good news. I dare you!

Sometimes it's fun to think of all the random things I'm thankful for, and sometimes they are very random. But what a way to shift my mindset.

This idea came from something I read from Wayne Dyer years ago. I was 21 and super depressed. The one-year anniversary of my mother's death was looming and my unprocessed grief was rearing its ugly head. I followed his recommendation to write down 100 things to be thankful for every single day. That can be daunting in the midst of depression. One of the ideas is that you start looking for things throughout the day to be thankful for, because you know you're going to have to come up with 100.
  • I am thankful for clean water to drink.
  • I am thankful for two arms and two legs.
  • I am thankful for a house that keeps me safe and is my palette for creativity.
  • I am thankful for the ability to cook.
  • I am thankful for peonies in the spring.
  • I am thankful for cats that adore me and provide unconditional love.
  • I am thankful for a down comforter on my bed.
  • I am thankful for a car that gets me to where I need to go.
  • I am thankful for the renters that are occupying our unsold house.
  • I am thankful for indoor plumbing and hot showers.
  • I am thankful for the ability to read.
What is your good news?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Destination: Shopping

My sweet husband invited me to go on an upcoming business trip with him. When I realized I'd have the opportunity to shop at IKEA, H&M, and some other stores that my midwestern city does not have, I got really excited! You see, I've had my eye on this IKEA kitchen table that happens to not be available online.

At $179, what a steal! If the trip wasn't scheduled in winter, I'd seriously consider renting a UHaul, filling it up, and driving back.

I've been checking to see which of my favorite stores are in the DC area. I was disappointed that a CB2 store will be opening in DC a month after I'm there!

I've been digging these color balls; fortunately CB2 has online ordering.

Where do you like to shop?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Design Challenge

When we bought our house, I knew I would be making a lot of changes to this room to bring it up-to-date. Either I've lost my decorating mojo or I overestimated my decorating abilities, because this project has me overwhelmed. I feel stuck!

Before: A room desperate for updates.

Hello, my name is wood. I'm everywhere!

  • Plan A: Keep the red brick look. I actually like the look of the corner fireplace.
  • Plan B: If it absolutely will not look modern regardless of other things we do in the room, then we paint it.
I get exhausted looking at this room because there are lines going every which way. I hope that painting it will help the lines "disappear." Removing the paneling is not an option now.

I am leaning toward a glossier finish than I'd normally do on sheetrock. Yay or nay?

What color for the walls? A soft white? A light grey to coordinate with the mortar and hopefully tie the room together?

The trim throughout the house is white, and I plan to paint the trim white in this room.

We don't have a purpose for this room yet. We're thinking a family room - without a tv. Maybe big comfy chairs to lounge in...

Progress: Light fixture replaced!

All primed and ready for... something?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wrapping up 2010

In October, I learned about a young mother cat and her 1-week-old kittens that were going to be euthanized at the animal shelter. Without a second thought, I brought them home, making it my first experience as a foster mother. Watching this little family grow was one of the highlights of my year.

We hosted a Black Friday Happy Hour the day after Thanksgiving, which was our first big party in the new house. We had a great turnout of friends and family. Do you like my nice bar set-up?

The party aftermath. Yeah, that's a lot of bottles, but our happy hour lasted past midnight!

I have arrived at a wonderful place following our failed IVF. In being completely honest, I realized that part of my motivation for fertility treatments was to win the battle. I'm tenacious by nature and I lost sight with what was really motivating me. Was it to win or was it because I truly wanted children? I'm happy with my life now and I wouldn't want it any other way.

I got a good kick in the butt to get to my current state of contentment. Someone I trust reminded me in the midst of my disappointment with not becoming a mother, that I was confusing a role with a purpose. All of us occupy roles, but these roles don't make us who we are.

I was fortunate enough to hear James Hollis speak this year and in his book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, he presents a type of question we ask ourselves that often precedes personal growth: "If I am not my roles, then who am I?" Finding the answer to this question takes each one of us down an individual path of self-discovery.

I don't declare new year resolutions, but I'm committed to pursue peace and spiritual expansion and embrace all that comes my way in the upcoming year.

I wish peace for you as well in 2011!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Loving it all

We recently moved into a new home and I've been consolidating my magazines into neat, organized piles. They are often my sources of creative inspiration.

As I pass by the untouched stacks, I look at them longingly... But there is work to do - coursework for my master's program, practicum hours to fulfill, and my commitment to my employer.

The toughest part about it is that I love all of my commitments. Every single role that I occupy. So it's not that I'd rather be inspired by magazines and forgo other things, I just wish I had more time.

My life hasn't always been like this. I've been in situations that were miserable, where my talents were wasted and my strengths overlooked. I'm not sure how I ended up loving so much of what I do, except that I began to follow my interests and good opportunities started to come my way.

So, I hope you're loving what you do. If not, keep looking for the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. We all deserve to live with happiness. It's just up to you to find it.