I have a big work event in February every year, so it always seems to go by so quickly since I’m in the midst of all of the details associated with it. So my lists this month are a bit shorter than usual – I’ll have to make up for it in March!
What I’m learning
Assume the best. Brené Brown in Rising Strong tells a story about a conversation between her and her husband. She says that her husband said, “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” “Assume the best in him/her” has become a mantra in our house, and I find us using it even more frequently lately. When we assume that another person is doing their best, we are better able to empathize (and let go). This works from something small like a driver cutting you off in traffic or when your seven year-old doesn’t put his clothes away for the 29th consecutive day (is that just us?). It even works to give ourselves a little more grace when we screw up. It seems like the more we use this mantra of sorts, the more uses we find for it. It’s almost like empathy and understanding are a muscle that grows stronger the more we use it!
Practice makes perfect (duh). I’ve been trying to work on “floating” in my yoga practice, and, shockingly, when I spend a few minutes practicing each day, it gets easier. I don’t know why I continue to think that I left practicing behind when I graduated from grade school sports, but I’m continually happily surprised by how, when I put my time, energy, and focus on improving a skill, it actually works. The nice thing about growing older is the wisdom that comes with figuring out which things are worth improving – and which things are better left to others.
Nature follows a dose curve like other medicines. A new podcast I’m loving is Cultivating Place, and I listened to this interview with author Florence Williams on her new book, Nature Fix. I put the book on hold at the library, so I can read further, but one thing that stood out was her comment about how a little bit of nature has health benefits – and more time in nature has more health benefits. Furthermore, time spent in a city park is less beneficial than time spent in the woods. The more natural an area, the more benefits there are to our mental and physical health. I’ll report back once I’ve read the whole book, but the science is pretty clear on how beneficial getting outside is (and how much we’re missing out on by being increasingly glued to our screens).
What I’m loving
Stuck on You stickers and labels. I bought these several months ago and forgot to tell you about them! We were losing an alarming number of kids’ water bottles (the steel ones, so they aren’t cheap), in addition to uniform clothes and other random kid stuff. I saw these stickers recommended, so I bought a pack of name labels. Since we have a unique last name, I just put our last name as our first and last name (so double the labels for the price!). The kids’ water bottles, thermoses, and lunch box stuff are gender-neutral, so I only needed our last name to label the various things we kept losing. I don’t think we’ve lost an item yet that had one of these labels on them. Plus, they are (so far) indestructible, so they are find going in the dishwasher or washing machine (depending on the item obviously).
The Liturgical calendar. I think this is a repeat, but I grew up in a church that followed the liturgical calendar, and I am really loving being back in one, especially one that really knows how to celebrate and honor the various feast and fast days of the year. It fits my personality well, since we are trying to live by the seasons and all!
Mayo on grilled cheese. I am late to the game on mayo on grilled cheese (because the only mayo I’ve ever liked was the homemade variety and who wants to waste that on grilled cheese?!), but we have been making up for lost time lately. All of that fat makes the bread super crispy and extra delicious, and, take it from a mayonnaise-hater, you can’t even taste the mayo (I only put it on the outside of the bread that faces the griddle/pan). Plus, I never remember to set out the butter to soften before making grilled cheese anyway, and the mayo spreads more easily. Winning!
Church before church hikes. We made a resolution to hike before church in 2017 if at all possible. So far, we’ve made it every week of the year but one when it was rainy. I told Grant last Sunday that our “church before church hikes” (as we call them because, trust me, that 45ish minutes on the trail with our crew every week are definitely church for me) are already my “high” of 2017. I try to notice something and snag a few pictures every week using the hashtag #churchbeforechurchhike, so that I can make a Chatbook of our hikes at the end of the year. So far, we’ve been sticking to the same park every week, but the kids have already said that they want to do another local favorite once spring comes. I’m pushing for staying at the same one, so that we can observe the changes every week as the seasons pass.
This salad dressing thingee. I bought this for Grant for Christmas because he usually makes our salad dressings (is there a name for buying gifts for your significant other that are really more for you? If not, there should be). We usually just make our salad dressings in a mason jar, which admittedly is super easy and free, but I saw this reviewed so enthusiastically somewhere before Christmas, so I got it even though I’m not a fan of unitaskers (especially unitaskers that are easily replaceable with something you already have!). BUT I love this thing. That little whisk ball emulsifies the dressing way better than the plain mason jar method, even when I would whisk the Dijon or egg beforehand. And that little pour spout means that there isn’t dressing dripping all over the place, plus leaving a little oily ring on whatever we have set it down on. This is certainly not necessary, but if you’re trying to up your homemade salad dressing game, this might help get you there.
Now it’s your turn to tell me what you’ve been learning and loving!