Sunday, May 31, 2020

Be Content

If you're like me, you look to change as a way of moving forward. A new job, a new place to live, a new stage of if always looking to the next thing brings happiness and contentment. Creating constant change could be indicative of avoiding seeing life as it is. It takes a constant reminder for me that peace of soul is not dependent upon circumstances or external things. We can find God in whatever situation we find ourselves, or rather He remains with us through it all.

I picked this photo for this blog post because sometimes we can only see our life in our own little jar and forget to look beyond that. Our jar is filled with lots of little beautiful lights that we need only to turn on, and when we connect those lights to the bigger ones our world doesn't feel so small. We need to remember that the small ordinary parts of life that make up so much of life are the ones that carry the greatest power. Like if you forget the baking soda in cookies, they will be completely flat.

I've had several people give me good advice recently to "be content," which defined literally is "the state of happiness and satisfaction." It's easy to feel dissatisfied when we want something we don't have. We can be grateful for what we do have and that reminds us of what we find fulfilling in life, yet it's ok if being content doesn't come easily to us because we have big dreams for our lives. Even though it doesn't come naturally, it should be a good reminder that if we haven't reached e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. yet, that's a good thing! If you accomplished all the things at once in your life, the rest of it would be rather boring.

Sometimes it's nice to "take time to coast" or that "doing nothing leads to the very best of something," in the words of Christopher Robin. This doesn't mean we shouldn't keep up our goals and routines of life, but maybe just maybe being content with life is to stop looking and let life take its own course because the surprises along the way are the very best of all.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Three Moving Tips

On thinking back the last couple years, I moved in both 2018 and 2019 to two different towns. They weren't as challenging as a move out-of-state, but they were places I hadn't lived before and moves I did on my own. They were different than moves for the convent, or moves for college, because those were moving to a community. The two moves I made were to a new home. While it's unlikely I'll move yet again in the year 2020, I have learned never to say never, but I would like to think that I learned something from both moving experiences that hopefully are helpful!

1. Explore.
If you have the opportunity to visit the new place multiple times before the move, try to explore some restaurants, tourist attractions, or drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for what everyday life is like. You could even go to Mass at a church you might end up attending and try to meet some parishioners. In short, picture what it would be like living in that place for the long term. Familiarizing yourself with the new place ahead of time will make the transition smoother.

2. Clean Out.
One thing I learned on both moves was that I had a lot of stuff I didn't need. It is so much easier to move if you go through your stuff before the move. Sort through your clothes closet, organize holiday decor, even clean out your pantry. Anything that makes your move lighter will help in the long run. You might not have enough time if the move is a quick one, but even as you're packing, if you think you won't miss the item, then it's a treasure for someone else by giving it away!

3. Change of Address.
Most people think to change their address for their utilities, their friends, their credit cards. But don't forget places like an Amazon account where you might ship a new item you are really excited about to a house you no longer live in! There's lots of little things that can easily slip your mind when you're moving, so it's helpful to think about your most frequent mailings and change your address a week or two in advance.

No matter how you look at it, moving is one of those top life stressors, so try to round up friends and family for a moving party either at the old place or the new place to help you pack or unpack and make it fun with pizza and milkshakes or whatever makes you happy!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

West of Yesterday

You recall back in November a post where I interviewed Lena Donellan about being an author! Well, it is only fitting to write a book review of her novel that I was privileged to read! 

"To a grieving man, he's a murderer; to an abused boy, he's a savior."

Characters: West of Yesterday shines with its character development. I followed the emotions of the main characters as if I were seeing them in person. Alan Bledsoe, a man struggling with accepting his past, rescues a boy named Scott from an abusive uncle. The two discover an unlikely connection with each other that has each realizing they possess a strength they did not know was there. Wade Belanger is searching for what he believes is justice, which includes capturing Alan. The sheriff in Ayer, John, wants to piece together the different puzzle pieces of each character's story to arrive at the truth. And finally my favorite character, Matt, who accompanies Wade, shows loyalty, dependability, and a search for truth that made him a noble person in my book!

Plot: The story had me captivated from beginning to end. I like to think I am good at predicting how a novel will unfold, but I was truly kept in suspense! I did not know how it would end and was kept guessing. I think I was most surprised (without giving anything away!) by one villain's change of heart and another's hardened heart...the contrast in what can create hope about a broken person and what cannot made you realize that people can change. There were definitely plot twists and a lot of excitement in a small western town. The different points of view served to create colorful pictures in your mind of each character's perspective.

Literary devices: The use of symbolism struck me as well with the name of the town being Ayer, which means yesterday, and in the end certain characters are able to head west of Ayer, as if they are leaving "yesterday" and all the past behind them. I loved the literary use of flashbacks and a gradual revelation of important events through the characters' memories. It blended the past, the present, and the future into a cohesive whole that was powerful. I also appreciated the analysis of grief and how it affects people differently, and that in working toward acceptance a person can ultimately find peace.

West of Yesterday is about a quest for self-discovery, understanding what it truly means to forgive, and sharing the hope that no matter how broken a man is there is a chance for redemption. If you are looking for an enjoyable summer read, then order a copy of Lena's novel here!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

What's in a Mom

On reflecting on Mother's Day, I think there are a lot of ways to look at motherhood. There are many who desire to be natural mothers, but perhaps are not able to have children, have not met that special someone to marry yet, or who feel they are not called to marriage even if they love children. That usually brings up the topic of the beautiful reality of spiritual motherhood, that St Therese frequently emulates, which is to pray for souls, to be a mother of souls, to imitate Our Lady in sacrificing for souls. 

As beautiful as these truths are, I think "what's in a mom" are the virtues of a mom. While not everyone may be a natural mother, anyone can practice the virtues of motherhood, which in turn would be good practice to prepare for such a gift! The essential virtues of motherhood, after the obvious one of charity, in my opinion, are self-sacrifice, joy, and diligence.

A mom should strive to sacrifice herself for her children (and her husband), but as a mom she will have to constantly deny herself and her needs for the sake of others. She should not neglect herself in the process, but she should try to put others before herself. This self-sacrifice imitates Our Lord on the cross and helps a woman to give generously and unite her offerings to those of Christ. By practicing self-sacrifice in general, it will make getting up in the middle of the night to a baby much easier!

Joy should radiate a mother's being. To be a mother is one of the greatest gifts. You are that person in a child's life that nurtures and fosters their development and surrounds them with the greatest love they will find on this earth. If a person has joy, it reflects the fact that their soul is at peace. Peace is what makes a child feel secure and comforted. If a woman can find joy in the midst of suffering and day-to-day trials, she will prepare to be a mother who gives her child that first taste of God's protection.

Then there comes diligence. Being a parent is a big responsibility! You are the primary educator of your children, in spiritual and material life. If a woman looks to be practical and keep order in her home, she will have developed a habit of diligence and be more ready to take care of a family . . . and of course she will have help in these matters from her husband. Yet she will most likely spend the most time with her children at home. She doesn't have to run her house like a navy ship, but having some organization will give children stability. 

So if you are not yet a mom but are looking for ways to become a good one, seek to practice virtues now that will foster a beautiful family life in the future! For developing habits in your single life, will build a solid foundation for motherhood. Happy Mother's Day to all those self-sacrificing, joyful, and diligent mom's like mine!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Three Cheers to Four Years

I never imagined that making a few scapulars and listing them on Etsy would lead to a business of four years and 150 items. I have so many favorite moments from being a part of your lives, but if I could only share one memory that left a lasting impression on me, it would be receiving a personal thank you from a solider. Because of your support, we have sent thousands of items to our Troops overseas in our quarterly care packages.

"You have no idea what these packages mean to service members around the world."

When this greets your inbox, you realize that ideas are not small. Putting ideas into action is powerful and by our willingness to take chances, God supplies the grace. Suddenly it isn't about what you can do, but what God can accomplish because it is bigger than you. I have been touched by the lives of so many wonderful people through this shop and for that I am eternally grateful!

It's been a crazy ride of wearing all the hats from designing product lines, to obtaining sales tax licenses, finding steady suppliers, expanding to shipping internationally, to the basics of packaging an item so each box feels like a gift to the receiver . . . and I wouldn't trade any of it. Running a business has been the best learning experience I have ever had. 

It has been four years of connections to amazing people, who make my shop worth running day after day. I love my customers and pray for them daily. It is a beautiful thought to know you have touched my life and I have touched yours . . . through an e-commerce store where we never met! 

In the words of G.K. Chesterton, "When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." I hope I never take for granted the gift God has given to make a simple idea on May 1, 2016 become a business of four years. Here's to many more!