Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

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Weekend Smiles

1) Early AM quiet time with the Lord. There’s just nothing like it.

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2) This gorgeous car was parked outside my house today while it’s owners went to get some ice cream at the nearby ice cream shop. I hope they don’t mind I was ogling/drooling over it.

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3) Salted caramels. Be still my heart.

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4) When my kids make hot breakfast’s for everyone.

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5) Please pardon the language in the title of this Podcast, but golly, this lady’s got some really good stuff in her podcasts concerning boundaries (and no, they are *not* filled with colorful language- she’s actually a very professional counselor. ). Listened to this gem today. So so good.

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 https://beyondbitchy.com/podcast/8-celebrate-the-no/

6) Also listened to this podcast as well. Really hope they post the other sessions!

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https://chipjudd.com/2018/02/02/boundries-ch-1-audio-recording/

7) Fires with my family!

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8) Bright colored clothing. Can’t it just ALWAYS be summer?!

 

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Things Making Me Smile Today

1) Flowers & chocolates from my husband, surprise delivery in honor of our 16th anniversary today! He is just the sweetest!!!

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2) Happy 16 years with my hunny. Here’s some pics from our wedding (August 3, 2001). We were 22 years old!

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3) Playing in the pool with my kids, soaking in the summer sun!

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4) I freakin’ love the song “Delicate” by Taylor Swift. Do NOT ask me why, for I have no answer. It just makes me happy.

5) The most hilarious anniversary card, from my sister & her hubby. It’s the best. They get me.

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6) A good German beer on this hot day.

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7) Google Duo, so I can video chat with my husband when he’s away.

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8) A new doormat: watermelon!!!

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9) The car of my dreams. Either this, or a ’59 Bel Air. But regardless: THIS COLOR or similar! Forget jewelry. My husband & I already have an understanding that what I really want is a fun car. He takes me to all the local car shows so I can drool.

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10) Humor like this. Or puns. I just LOVE them!!!

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Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Random: Automatic Public Toilets

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Yes, this post is totally random. You will most definitely get that from time to time with me. Well, today is that lucky, odd day. My totally random thought of the day is about: Automatic Public Toilets.

Regardless of the fact that it’s nice to not have to hand flush (or kick flush)… if you’re a parent of a potty training toddler… or maybe said toddler (or parent) is terrified of the automatic flush… or you just have the tendency to sit too still for far too long…
I think we can all agree that automatic public toilets can be a pain.

They sometimes flush too randomly… they sometimes flush too early… sometimes they repeatedly flush… sometimes the flush is just startlingly too fast or loud… sometimes you’re just not prepared…

Well, I have a tip for you!

Somewhere I learned the following hack (& boy, is it ever useful!). If you’ve already discovered this little trick, than kudos: you, too, have been enjoying being in the driver’s seat of toilet control. For those of you yet to discover, may I reveal the following secret to you. Ta-da:

I’ll tell you what… I was about 3-4 kids in before I discovered this trick! It’s so simple! I’ve never had freaked out kids (or me) in the bathroom ever since!

So, if this is the first time you’ve ever seen this: you’re welcome. Enjoy. Hope this random thought of mine today is actually a blessing to you.

Happy flushings!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#totallyrandomthoughtoftheday   #bathroomhack   #nomoresurprises   #pottypeacefully

These are a few on my favorite things!

1- Game nights with friends!

We’re always looking for fun & simple games we can 1) play with the kids or 2) doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking so we can freely talk and joke and hang with our company. There’s most definitely a time and a place for strategy/thinking games. But oftentimes a light/fun/quick game is just the thing.

Here are a couple of our favorites: Zombie Dice and Pass the Pig.

 

 

 

2. The local ice cream shop opening near us. A sure sign of Spring!

This, my friends, is a Puppy Chow Hurricane. It’s frozen awesomeness in a cup!

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3. My latest Goodwill find. Love those 50% off Saturdays!

I have a slight obsession with pretty dishes, specifically ones with gold on them. We’ve slowly been adding mismatched China plates from Goodwill to our cupboard. It’s just so fun to eat off pretty plates, isn’t it? (As opposed to the “boring” nondescript off-white Corelle we have.) My hubby insists on using the boring plates. I insist on using fun plates. We compromise and have both in our cupboards. LOL 🙂

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4. Also found this at Goodwill today.

I’ve been slacking on my French studies. (Eeeeek.) Seeing this in the book section today rekindled that passion I have for language learning. Bought it. And hello again DuoLingo.

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5. Daily dose of TRUTH.

“Be better today than you were yesterday” has become my mantra. It’s not about comparing yourself to other people. It’s about comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, and striving to be better. It’s not about perfection. It’s about process. There is no end goal or date in mind. It’s a lifestyle.

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An unconventional coping mechanism

How do you handle: Loss? Pain? Discomfort? Anxiety? Grief? Fear?

Or just an ordinary day that goes from bad to worse?

I am probably going to sound totally off my rocker when I share my thoughts here in a bit. And there’ll probably be several nay-sayers in the crowd. And I must say this “coping mechanism” must definitely be handled with great care. But… then again, what I have to say could be the very thing someone really needs to hear.

So back to the question above. How do you handle stress?

Journaling? Yoga? Meditation? Reading Scripture? Prayer? Working on a hobby? Music? Video games? Essential oils?

Several articles I’ve read suggested common ideas like: limit caffeine, get involved in physical activity/exercise, get more sleep, try relaxation techniques, talk to someone, keep a stress diary, manage your time, learn to say “no”, etc.

These really are fantastic ideas. Probably lifestyle habits we should regularly be investing our time and energy in with or without stress/anxiety/pain. They truly lead to a balanced, happy life.

But may I suggest a little something else that may be just the trick to quickly soothe your frayed nerves and wrecked mind?

This coping mechanism has been SO shamed in the media and by our culture. And it’s really sad that this is so.

Want to know what I think is an excellent and almost immediate calmer of the mind and body? Something you easily have in your home right now this minute? Something most everyone can afford?

I warn you. With this strategy, there is most definitely room for abuse/taking it too far. It needs to be approached with great caution. More on that in a bit.

So what’s a simple, quick way to feel better?

Food.

Ok, here comes gasps and boos and what-have-you.

But I stand by it. I truly think God gave us food to help take the edge off crazed/hurt emotions and mental distress.

When you’re hurt, angry, and overwhelmed, doesn’t it make you feel better to eat a piece of hot, freshly baked bread with a pat of melty butter? Mac-n-cheese? How about a hearty bowl of soup? A bowl of ice cream? Cookies? Donuts? Chocolate?

BUT, quantity is everything here.

1 slice of baked hot bread with butter. Not a whole loaf/stick of butter.
1 bowl of mac-n-cheese. Not the entire pot.
1 bowl of soup. Not the whole pot.
1 dessert bowl of ice cream. Not the entire pint.
1-2 cookies/1 donut. Not a baker’s dozen.
1-2 pieces of chocolate. Not the entire bar.
Moderation is key here! Absolutely key!

Only take a small amount to take the edge off. Go slowly. Savor. Focus on the taste and feel of what you are eating. Experience the nuances of flavor.

They call it comfort food for a reason!

And it’s OK. I’m telling you– it’s ok.

For so long, we’ve been told that using food for comfort is bad, wrong, going to make us fat, etc. Then, when people do turn to food (because it works almost immediately), they instantly feel guilty. Which just adds more fuel to the inner turmoil they’re experiencing.

I’m telling you– it’s false guilt to feel bad about turning to food for a bit of comfort! It’s not real. Shake it off and let it go.

Food is ok! It’s not sinful!

Most can agree with me that after a stressful event/season, a comfort food taken in moderation and savored slowly gives the mind, body, emotions, and soul a “sigh”… a breather… a must needed break and calm. It literally “takes the edge off”. And it does so pretty darn fast.

It allows the body to relax for a moment so that you can think clearly and plan and figure things out, or rest/sleep. It gives you the “ahhhh” needed to make good and right decisions. And it pairs beautifully with the many other coping mechanisms mentioned earlier in this article. No one single strategy is going to be the fix-all. Food alone isn’t going to “fix” the problem. It’s going to have to be done alongside other strategies.

But I want you readers to know that using food is a-ok to take the edge off your hurt. Just use moderation and care. Shake off that unnecessary guilt you may be experiencing. Add to your plate other calming techniques, too.

And remember this: say you *want* to over-do it in the comfort food department because you are REALLY upset about something. Know this: if you decide to binge, you are only punishing yourself and your body. And the problem or stressor hasn’t been solved. It’s still there. And now, the guilt you are feeling IS real. You overdid it. You lost self-control. You abused your body. You are making your body suffer unnecessarily. Even if someone did something horrible to you, and you are SUPER upset– a binge is a punishment on you alone, and not on the other person. This may seem harsh to hear, but it must be said. It’s never ok to overeat or to drown your sorrows with food. It doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t clear up the mind. It doesn’t calm the nerves. It hurts you. It makes things worse. The original problem has now been compounded even further. It can also set some people up for a future food addiction if they repeatedly do this to themselves.

So please, when I say “try comfort food to calm down”, I am NOT advocating over-indulgence at all.

Moderation.is.key.

So enjoy that cookie. Enjoy that piece of cake. Enjoy that bowl of mac-n-cheese. Go on and take the edge off. While you’re at it, try some yoga or journaling, too. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Do whatever it is that makes you feel good. And don’t wear that unnecessary guilt associated with using food for comfort. It’s ok.

Hope that helps. Hope you can now try releasing that white-knuckled grip you may be hanging onto that “food for comfort is bad”. It’s not. It’s good. Enjoy it. Feel a little better. Let go of false guilt.


There’s some “food for thought” for ya. 😉

Blessings to you!

~Momma Duck

Today’s musings

1. I SO want these made for my birthday!

Flamingos are my absolute FAVORITE bird. In fact, during the warmer months, YES, I have a few plastic pink flamingos decorating my front yard. They are just adorable. They make me smile. 🙂 Wonder if my little 11 year old baker daughter could make these… hmm…

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2. This article: http://life.ca/blog/mindful-learning/

Though I don’t adhere completely to the Unschooling movement, I do agree with many of the ideas they promote. Mindful learning. Life learning. Relax. Enjoy kids where they are developmentally right now. Lots of learning is in fact occurring during play. As a parent, model being a “lover of learning”– kids will follow suit. Learning happens as a by-product of living. Don’t over-commit to activities (either for ourselves or the kids). Look after/make time for ourselves in order to avoid burnout.

Just a really good article.

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3. Silly pranks.

We had friends over for the evening yesterday and our oldest daughter made brownies for dessert. Get it? Brown-E’s? LOL. They seemed to appreciate our humor.

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4. Drawings from a child in the Sunday morning class I teach at church.

The church we attend recently opened. It has been an incredible blessing to our entire family!!! A couple times a month I help teach the elementary grades class. One of the first weeks we were open, this adorable little Kindergarten girl came into my classroom. She was super quiet and reserved. Hardly said a word. She was wearing a pink t-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it. Being a Francophile, I began telling her how much I loved her shirt. She still didn’t say much. But as the Sunday’s keep rolling by and I keep spending time with her in class, she has truly come out of her shell and has been kinda like my little buddy. This past Sunday, she gave these pictures for me to “take home and hang in your kitchen”. Melt.my.heart. She is just the sweetest thing. And you can bet these two pics are hanging in my kitchen right now! It’s just such an encouragement. I love being able to make an impact for Christ with these precious little kids!

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5. I love chocolate. Yes, yes I do!

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6. On the topic of chocolate…

We didn’t have real brownies for dessert (LOL), but we did have chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting. Be still my heart. My 11 year old daughter who loves to bake make these for us and our company. It was wonderful.

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7. My homemade chili… aka “Mezzo Farte”.

For anyone with music training, you’ll appreciate the name of my chili. 🙂 Back when I was in High School, our choir had a chili cook-off competition. I won 3rd place for my chili, Mezzo Farte, with many a snicker to boot. It’s a family favorite and super easy to make. We always love our chili poured over rice, basmati is best. Try it and let me know what you think!

Mezza Farte Chili
-saute one onion in a drizzle of olive oil, until golden brown
-add 1/2 lb of ground beef, cook well, drain any excess oil
-add the following: 1 large can (46 oz) of tomato juice, 2 (16 oz) cans of kidney beans (drained), 1 T + 2 t chili powder, 1 t salt, & 1/2 t ground black pepper
-stir well, bring to a boil, drop to a simmer for 1-2 hrs or until thick, stir occasionally
-doubles perfectly!

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Savoring the ordinary, enjoying the here and now…

~Momma Duck