*the secret’s in the gratitude*

Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in everything around us. Caught up and swept away. Before we know it, a little disappointment and dissatisfaction creeps in. Suddenly the grass is greener on the other side. Greener on any side but our own.

It’s hard to see the forest because of the trees.

But I’ve learned a little secret.

The secret is truly in the gratitude.

The secret is in choosing to see what is right before me and then acknowledging the moment with gratitude.

The world is truly so big and it’s so very easy for us to get lost in it. And so we have to find a way to carve our space into it. And we do that through intentional choices. Through noticing the little things.

Through finding something right where we are to be grateful for.

It’s about learning to look and really see. To touch and really feel. To hear but really listen. Because it’s all there. Hidden in a million ways. Embedded in our lives, moment to moment.

Sometimes it’s harder to see it than other times. (Think Corrie ten Boom and the flea infestation in the Nazi prison and the way her sister was able to show her how to find gratitude even in the midst of desolation and trial.)

It can be hard to choose to see what’s right in front of us and then choose to be grateful for it, no matter what it may be.

We’re a pretty forward thinking people (and sometimes a backward looking people, too). We’re a bit like the Roman god Janus with two faces, one looking forward to the future while the other looks back to the past. But what about what’s right in front of us? What’s right beneath our feet at this exact moment?

I choose to look down. And up. And beside me. To see what’s right here. In this moment.

It isn’t always easy. And it takes effort.

But isn’t it worth it?

Summer Daybook

Outside my window…it’s rainy. Oh so rainy. As in, rain every day for the last week. Downpours and sprinkles and gusts of wind. We haven’t floated away {yet} but we have managed to get muddy, lose our electricity for almost 12 hours and make remarkable use out of our rainboots and raincoats (that typically collect dust here in the summer months).

I am remembering…the last time I wrote a Daybook. December of 2019. I was sure I wrote a recent one, but the most recent one I could find was simply a draft of one I began in March of 2020 called Pandemic Daybook. I just up and quit in the middle of it, as if a sweeping plague was more important than the little moments that make up my life. Hindsight is a glorious thing. Of course leaving a year and a half unwritten is telling in and of itself. But I’ll save those thoughts for a different post.

I am thankful for…would it be too hypocritical of me to wax gratitude about the glorious rain even though a moment ago I almost seemed ungrateful? Because the truth is, I enjoy the rain. I relish the view from the window. I love the excuse to snuggle up with a book {completely guilt free} and I am incredibly grateful for the vibrant green I see peeking out of every outdoor corner right now. This is the first summer in South Texas that I have ever NOT had to water my garden yet it still overflows with beautiful green, healthy plants. Water is an amazing thing.

*Lest you think I’m kidding about how well my garden grows, here’s proof…we returned from Colorado and I’m pretty sure I heard a voice in the yard saying “Feed me, Seymour.” It’s now all been cut back and it looks respectable to the neighbors, but it was a wild jungle there for a brief moment.

I am watching…children grow.  And grow. And grow. Mostly my own, but those we’ve known for years, too. And like the wise old crone of fairy tales, I’m finally beginning to understand how quickly time passes. There is wisdom (but no comfort) in knowing that “the present moment is all you ever have” (Eckhart Tolle).

I am wondering…how I have never heard of this novel until now. Glad it came across my radar and that Joseph and I are able to enjoy it together.

I am hoping…you won’t mind if I share a bit of my herbal journey with you. Pop over to my herbal school’s website to read my herbal bio and celebrate my Student of the Month accomplishment with me! {I still remember being student of the month in 2nd grade and filling out the poster that would hang near our classroom door for one long glorious month…this blog post, while not as messy as my poster circa 1988 with all the glitter, glue and crayons I used, was still just as rewarding to write!}

I am pondering…the beauty of my new planner. You know when the box it arrives in speaks such wisdom, it’s going to be a fruit filled year.

I am laughing…about this sleeping dog…maybe he has been watching me sleep with my mouth open?

I am planting…well there’s not much room left to plant anything so we are just reaping what we’ve sown. And it’s all delicious. (Pickles are just about ready, too!)

I am reflecting…on this kid and admiring his ability to march to the beat of his own drum.

Around the house…it’s pretty routine over here these days. Our summer vacation officially ended on June 27th and we started our new school year on the 28th (Katie in 3rd grade; Andrew in 5th grade; William in 7th grade; Joseph in (!!) 9th grade). We’ve spent the last two weeks just carving out routine again. And it’s quite lovely, if you ask my opinion. I love routine.

I am wearing…black capris and a Green Ember t-shirt (yep, that’s right…)

We are preparing for…nothing. And it’s just glorious. Birthday season has come and gone. Maybe I’ll think about stocking up on some water since we’re knee deep in hurricane season, but other than that, there’s nothing big on the horizon (unless I try to pinpoint what the next annoying 2020/21 thing could be…but I wasn’t able to predict the pandemic or the freeze of February 2021 or the crazy rain back in May that caused our city’s dam to break or the wild rain we’ve had this past week so I’m guessing all my predicting would be wasted effort…I’d prefer to just plug along day by day over here).

Someday I am going to miss…snuggling with this guy.

I am reading…Metaphor-phosis by (one of my amazing teachers at East West!) Lesley Tierra and Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher (SERIOUSLY, SO good).

One of my favorite things…mountains. And me in them. {This trip deserves a post all of its own so I’ll add that to my “to blog about” list and share it with you soon}.

A peek into my day

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

Winter

Winter is notoriously difficult for me.

Maybe it’s the lack of sun. Or the lack of green. Or the lack of warmth. I’m not really sure. I just know it’s hard.

I want to hunker down. Hibernate almost. Curl into a ball, cover myself with a warm quilt. Wake me when the sun comes out and the earth turns green. Wake me when the birds are chirping and the buds are forming. Wake me when the dismal days gradually turn to spring; when life begins to blossom; when there’s a new season on the horizon.

Maybe this is instinctual. A cyclical mechanism built in me to honor the passing of time. Maybe this is meant to be a time to hunker down. A time to withdraw. A time to turn inward; to set intentions; to dream of the spring yet to come.

I’m not really sure.

All I know is that yesterday I saw green. Cleavers and chickweed, henbit and shepherd’s purse and my heart smiled. I could almost smell spring. It’s only January so I know there is still time. Time for the overcast days of winter to linger. Time for life to rest. Time for withdrawing and waiting and dreaming.

But yesterday was a little seed of hope in my heart for the days to come.

And while hope may not be a strategy, it is often enough to feed the heart. Soul food so to speak. And I’m devouring as much as I can.

Patience

Sometimes it takes a little patience.

Some waiting around.

A little courting (in this case in the form of tickling).

A little more waiting.

A little coaxing. Kind words. Patient words.

A lot more patience.

And then suddenly…

she pops her head out and you decide it was worth it.

The waiting. The kind words. The gentle coaxing. The art of patience.

Adventuring

Today we went looking for an adventure.

We didn’t have to go far.

We just had to open our eyes.

We saw old friends.

And met new friends.

We found berries.

And greedily devoured them til our teeth turned purple.

We traveled beaten paths.

And we discovered paths less traveled.

We found ripe fruit.

And creatively foraged.

Today we went looking for an adventure.

And we found one.

Because adventure can always be found…if your eyes are wide open.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Yesterday’s Berries

Today I went out looking for a single Carolina Wolfberry.

I knew I wasn’t going to find one.  Their fruit appears at the beginning of winter.  We are now moving well into spring.  But I could see their leaves everywhere…remnants of what was once filled with bright red berries.  And so I had to look.

I had no idea when I was out this past winter that our world was about to take a giant turn.  I didn’t stop to give thanks for such simple treasures.  Carolina wolfberries, aside, I didn’t even think to be grateful for nature walks with friends.  I didn’t think to be thankful for full grocery store aisles…beans and toilet paper, paper towels and rice.  I didn’t think to be scared of a shortage of ventilators or a lack of a national plan for a pandemic.  I had no idea my viewpoint of the world was so incredibly naive and rooted on the idea of normalcy and stability.  I had taken so much for granted.

So when I saw those leaves today, I just had to look.  I wanted to remember those carefree days from just a few months ago when I didn’t worry about food supply or masks or the unknown.  Those days, in hindsight, were blissful.  There wasn’t anything hanging over my head threatening the life that I knew so well and loved.

I really looked today.  I searched between all the cracks and crevices.  I reached down to the very bottom of each plant.  I would have been happy even to see a dried up berry still stuck to a branch.  No luck.  Spring has sprung and with it, all reminders of the winter have morphed into something different.

But, as everyone knows, Spring takes Winter and morphs it into something even more incredible.  What if this is our winter and there’s a spring just around the bend?

We are living in the midst of a crisis.  Right now it’s a COVID-19 crisis.  There is fear and anxiety all around us.  We are living in fear of the unknown.  Wondering how this will impact each of us individually.  Wondering how this will impact us as a whole.  Wondering how our economy will survive the drastic measures of social distancing.  Wondering if we’ll ever have the reassurance of the norm again.

But we’ve been living in a cultural crisis a whole lot longer than we’ve been living in fear of this novel coronavirus.  We just haven’t had the courage to face it.

COVID-19 has brought with it an awakening.  A moment to retrench.  A moment to see our lives and the rush of being busy in all its clarity.

Where once our culture rushed to pick up dinner, now we gather round our dining room table, together, with home-cooked meals.  Where once many dropped off their kids at the local public school, now parents are forced to face their children all.day.long and to see them without the tint of rose-colored glasses.  Where once families rushed from extra-curricular to extra-curricular, we now have a moment to breathe deeply.  To examine our lives at a pace worthy of examining.

This could be a turning point.  If we just allow it.

The world has seriously picked up a pace that none of us can keep up with.  With the advent of smart phones and social media, our worlds suddenly became so fast paced that our brains are crashing in the race to keep up with everything around us.

Every event has become a moment to capture.  We take photos and memorialize moments that look perfect on Instagram and Facebook.  Extra-curricular activities are no longer a privilege…they’ve become an expectation of success.  Birthday parties have become Olympic-sized events, posed on social media to impress.  Where once we simply tried to keep up with the Joneses, now we have  mastered the art of sacrificing precious time with our families to keep up the Joneses AND their kids.  There is always a drive to do more, to be better, to impress the world around us.  And our world around us has stretched…we no longer live lives that revolve around our communities and neighborhoods.  All the world is connected and we rush to connect.

We have become a people that glorifies perfection, a people seeking acceptance and a people who have managed to get every priority out of order.  We have become a self-centered culture who tries in vain to find meaning, only to misunderstand where true meaning lies.

This race that we have gotten swept up in has forced us into a mode of flight, fight or freeze and our brains are tired.  So, so tired.

Today I went out looking for something.  A little bit of yesterday.  But time has forced the seasons to change and it has left its indelible mark on everything.  Everywhere life is changing and moving forward.

But you know what?  I’m glad I didn’t find a single wolfberry, because at some point, I stopped looking backwards and I began looking to see what spring had brought with it.  I was delighted by what I found.  Sea ox-eye daisies in bloom as far as the eye could see.  Ripe dewberries just asking to be picked.  Indian blanketflowers, limewater brookweed, seaside heliotrope, all blooming.  Butterflies.  Ladybugs.  Life in bloom, life in ordered motion all around me.  The beauty of nature marching forward oblivious to the chaos of humanity.

Maybe it’s time for me to accept that things may never be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be beautiful.  It’s time to accept what is and move forward.

I’m tired of rushing.  And this pandemic has given me a glimpse of a spring yet to come.  A spring where I don’t have to rush to keep up.  A spring where I can just be with my children and relish them in all their amazingness.  A spring where I can remember to be thankful for every little blessing.  A spring where a home-cooked meal and a moment to breathe deeply are worth more than keeping up with a world that has quietly spun out of control.

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Nature Study: Cucumber Weed

Amidst all the insanity of the world these days (what with COVID-19 forcing social distancing and grocery stores scrambling to keep up with demand), I’ve noticed that the natural world around us just keeps marching on, oblivious to the chaos being created by us humans.  Spring is still arriving; flowers are still blooming; buds are still forming.  It’s a lovely time to be outdoors.

This little plant is everywhere right now (at least down here in South Texas).  It’s little and overlooked and I almost yanked a handful out of my garden before I realized what it was!  It gets its nickname from the smell it leaves behind on your fingers after rubbing and crushing the leaves.  Parietaria pensylvanica, its botanical name is derived from the Latin word paries which came from the Greek word parifi meaning edge because it’s often seen growing in cracks.  It’s also commonly called Pellitory Over-the-Wall.

Cucumber weed (Parietaria pensylvanica) is an annual member of the Nettle family that appears when the weather is cool.  Its simple, lanceolate leaves alternate up the stem almost spiraling as they go due to the way their square stems twist.

It is important to note that cucumber weed leaves are smooth along the edges with tiny hairs (not to be confused with plants in the Acalypha genus whose leaves have toothed edges and lack hairs…those are toxic mimics!)

Cucumber weed has adorable tiny flowers which attach directly to the stem.  The flowers are green and hairy and lack petals.

Cucumber weed is edible but proceed with caution.  There’s a chance you could react to the plant.  Aside from being edible, it’s also useful…in its entirety, it can be used to clean glass and copper.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.