Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fear, Anger, and Hormones

I am a Catholic woman.

That fact is well known amongst my "real life" friends, and I think, also with those of you out in the internet world.  I make no efforts to hide it, but instead, I make every effort to live out my life as authentically Catholic as possible, as I am called to do by the Catholic Church.

I recognize that this means that occasionally, we may disagree.  That's fine with me - and I presume, with you, too, seeing as we're still friends.    It's one of the beautiful things about our nation - we are not forced to agree with another religion's theology in order to live in this great country.

Today, however, that is no longer the case.  

Friends, I need your help.  ALL of you, Catholic or non-Catholic.    My Church needs your help.

On Friday, January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services released a final ruling on a mandate that will require Catholic institutions to provide (aka pay for) birth control, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations to all employees, some of which must be provided for no copays (read: free).

This is a direct attack on my Constitutional rights as a Catholic.  Our Constitution (the "how to" manual for our government) reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  (emphasis mine)

Mandating my Church, of which I am a member and monetary supporter, to violate Her conscience and provide what is seen - and taught - to be an intrinsically evil act is a direct attempt to violate the Constitutional right that all Catholics have to practice their religion freely.

By forcing Catholics to provide these pharmaceuticals and procedures (by this, I am talking about financially providing), the government is forcing Catholics to participate in them.  This is forcing Catholics to go against their religious beliefs and participate in an intrinsic evil. 

This is no different than a situation that we see in our secular court of law quite frequently.  If I purchase a gun, knowing that you intend to kill someone with it, and I give you that gun, when you shoot and kill someone, I can be held legally responsible for that murder, even though I didn't pull the trigger.

This is not about Catholic birth control doctrine.

This is about the American government forcing me to buy the gun, even though I know that you are going to kill someone with it.  This is about our government - who should be protecting my religious freedoms - forcing Catholics to pay for what they believe will lead to mortal sin.  They are forcing us, as Catholics, to facilitate an action that we believe will cause a soul to spend all eternity in the fires of Hell.

This is not about whether or not you share those beliefs with me, even though that is what the media and those in support of this mandate want you to believe.

It doesn't matter whether or not you believe that birth control, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations are intrinsically evil.....all that matters is that I, as a Catholic, believe it.   Our Church has taught that these are evils for 2000 years, and faithful Catholics for thousands of years have believed and freely exercised that belief.

It does not matter whether or not you use, currently use, or plan to use birth control.  The Catholic Church is not trying to impose theology on you, even though that is what the media would like you to believe.  Access to birth control and these procedures will still be in place, as it is today.   I - and my Church - am not forcing you to stop using these pharmaceuticals and procedures, if you have no moral objection to them.

Instead, what is happening here is that the government is forcing the Catholic Church to repress or disregard a teaching that has stayed constant for over 2000 years.  The government is forcing the Catholic Church to abandon Her teachings...or face penalties from the American government.  In essence, the American government is deciding what the Catholic Church is allowed to believe in.

This, my Catholic and non-Catholic friends, is simply the American government trying to dictate how the Catholic Church can and will exercise Her religious beliefs......and is a direct affront to the rights granted to all Catholics in the Constitution.

Please, even if you do not agree with my Church's stance on birth control, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs, please recognize that my Church should be allowed to freely exercise these beliefs.

If this is allowed to continue, the precedent will have been set:  our government will be able to dictate our religious freedoms, from this point on.  

I ask that you join me in signing the following petition, asking for the mandate to be rescinded:

Write your representatives and ask them to put an end to this attack on the religious liberty of your fellow American citizens.  Here is a link to do that:

Thank you in advance for helping to support my liberties, as an American citizen, and the liberties of my fellow Catholics throughout the country.   Together, we can force the administration to continue to uphold the very rights of ALL American citizens.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Making the journey known...

It's a bit scary for me to write this post, and put our plans out there on the internet, but the past few months, I've really felt called to publicly share our journey.   Maybe it's for therapeutic reasons, maybe it's an inner need for support that I didn't recognize before, maybe it's more of a chance to witness and plant a seed in someone else's heart...I don't know.  All I know is that I'm sitting here at the computer, trying to put the past three years into words, and really failing.  Forgive me if this seems like incessant babbling, and/or is completely incoherent.  Eventually.....hopefully....I'll be able to fill in more blanks and it will hopefully make more sense!


Three-ish years ago, we gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  He was perfect.  My health, on the other hand, was not so perfect.  A post-partum trip to the ER, weeks of being unable to leave the couch or my bed without the risk of a stroke, medication changes and cocktails, trying to find the right combination, all combined with normal post-partum recovery made for a pretty scary experience.  Knowing that the same complications have crept up with every pregnancy - and were getting worse with each one - Mike and I knew that we needed to make some changes if we were going to remain open to life, as we are called to be.   After adjusting to having three children under the age of 5 in my constant care, Mike and I set out on a joint mission of understanding what had happened to me, and doing what we could to prevent it happening again.  Enter in the "getting healthy" journey (see the tab above for more details).  While I can say that so far, that journey has been successful, with me a mere 8 pounds away from losing 20% of my starting weight, and no longer being on medications, and having very, very good lab and blood pressure results, this process has opened our hearts to another, similar journey:  adoption.

In that three year period, while Mike and I were researching my health and planning a way to improve my health, the path to adoption was brightened over and over again.  While we no longer fear the medical implications of becoming pregnant....we wholeheartedly believe that it was no coincidence that our oldest entered a school where a good portion of his classmates (and our future friends) had been adopted.  We wholeheartedly believe that God had placed these people in our paths to show us just how beautiful it can be when you open your home to an orphan and he/she becomes your child, your family, and to provide us with trusted friends to ask the questions that were rolling around in our hearts and minds.   It was no coincidence that some of our first friends in Arizona are - independently of us knowing this about each other - at the same place we are on this journey.    It was no coincidence that time and time again, I'd be reminded of the love and dignity found in every human life...and be reminded of that need to help the poorest of the poor: those suffering from the greatest poverty of them all, the poverty of being loved.

The call to adoption is a strong one in our lives.  We have the ability to open our homes to children who need one - and so we have.  We are still open to pregnancy, if that is how God calls us in the future, but at this time, we know we are being called to reach out to a child in need and love him. 

Meetings and orientations have been attended.  Decisions, costs, our abilities have all been weighed.  Phone call conversation after phone call conversation have been held.  Pennies have been counted...saved...and counted again.   Papers have been filled out.   Countless hours have been spent in prayer, discerning God's will for our family. 

The journey, it appears, is beginning.  Our family is growing. 

As we move forward in our journey to adopt a special needs child, I ask you for prayers.   There may come a time when we will need more than prayers:  hugs, words of support, help with adjustment and traveling, more hugs, sympathetic words and smiles, and even more hugs.   For now - and throughout our journey - I ask that you pray for our family: those who currently live in our house, and our children who are still to come home.  Pray that we are able to love fully as God is calling us to.

Thank you. 

Stay tuned for updates.  :-) 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

But You Gotta Have Fri-ends!

Just because I am now singing this song constantly in my head, I thought I'd share the joy:

Go ahead.  Take 2:39 minutes to enjoy the flashback.  And join me in this special hell place where it will constantly be on repeat in your head.....

On with the post.......

Why the annoying song?  you might ask.  

I've been thinking a lot about friendships the past couple of days - what makes a friend, what is the purpose of a friend, what is my role as a friend.  The past few days, as you can see from the last two posts (the second one remains unanswered, although it's been viewed hundreds of times.  I'm still asking for definitions there) have been full of quite a bit of passion.  There are few things that I feel as strongly about as the dignity of ALL human life - young, old, sick, healthy, sinner, saint, etc.  My Facebook wall has been entertainment for business offices, other parents, and even people I don't know, come to find out.  Not entertainment as in "Haha!  This girl is WHACK!" - although I'm sure there was a bit of that - but entertainment as in "I can't wait to see what happens next."     There was a lot more interest than I anticipated in the events of the last week.

Why does all of this action make me think about friendship?

Believe it or not, it's not because I have friends who agree with my stance on the above issues.  Sure, they are there, but I love the friends that I don't agree with, too.  They are all my brothers and sisters, in my Catholic world view - not one of them is better than the other, especially not based on whether or not they agree with my views.   

I thought about the concept of friendship precisely because of those friends who didn't agree with me.   Friendship isn't supposed to be easy - we aren't supposed to always agree on every single point.    As individual human beings, each with our own abilities in reason and intelligence, it's impossible that we will agree about every single issue out there.  I understand that, and I respect that.   I also respect those friendships that challenge and push me to learn and grow as an individual.   The past few days has clearly pointed out to me that I do have a core group of true friends: those who only want the best for me and who want to see me get to Heaven.

In a Catholic worldview, humans are made in the image and likeness of God, with the purpose of spending eternity with Him in Heaven.  That is our final destination - our goal:  to spend eternity with God in Heaven.  Nothing can be better than that.  For thousands of years, even before the dawn of Christianity, this belief in a monotheistic God who created man to live with Him in eternity was the basis of laws, expectations, and entire countries. 

Along the way, we live in communities with other humans.  We are all charged with the mission of helping each other achieve that final goal:  eternity with God in Heaven.  I'm just as much of my brother's keeper as I am my own.  True friends recognize this, and although it's not easy to do, it is important to recognize.   I care just as much about my friends' salvation as I do my own - and it is expected of me to aide them on their journey.   Even the few atheist friends that I keep in contact with admit to the fact that we live in community with other humans, and we must care for good of those around us.  This isn't purely a Catholic idea.

Where does this leave us, a group of diverse, caring individuals?

I'm afraid, that in our current society...it leaves us on our own.  We're afraid to speak out to those around us - afraid of "offending" them, or being accused of "intolerant."  Our culture is one based on great individual freedom, but also on incredible fear to stand for what is right.   My generation - and the generations below us - have slowly evolved from "Other Fellow First" to "No One Can Change MY Individual Truth."  We've become a culture where what matters most is my individual freedoms, my individual wealth, my individual needs.

We've become a society that has twisted this idea of individual liberty to form an environment where there is no absolute right or wrong.   We can justify every action - often by turning around an placing the blame on another individual.  To protect ourselves.....we attack our brothers.  

We have a government that states that a woman has an "undeniable right" to end the new life (dictionary definition of pregnancy) inside of her (often at the expense of the father of that new life and, more glaringly, at the expense of that new life)....

...while at the same time stating that people of a religious denomination (Catholics, in case you are unaware) can and will be forced to participate in what they very clearly teach to be an intrinsic evil.   

Our very core cultural values of the right to LIFE and LIBERTY are being threatened....and yet we refuse to see it.  

The past few generations of being afraid to recognize - much less subscribe to - the fact that there may just be an absolute Truth out there has caused my generation to be one of constant floundering, living lives where our moral truths change on a daily basis, and are dependent on who is yelling the loudest at that moment.  We find ourselves supporting the attacks on these very basic building blocks of our country: the right to life and religious freedom.  If we do recognize the need to speak up...we're afraid to.   We're afraid to challenge those around us, for fear of being called judgmental or intolerant.  We are implicitly condoning the stripping away of our basic rights as human beings, as defined by our great country, every time we refuse to speak up.

Do I think that I will be able to change things at the national political level, especially on my own?  Probably not.  I'm just one person.

But what I can do - and will continue to do - is fight against this wave of moral relativism that pervades our society.  I will continue to challenge my friends, and those around me, to truly live as our brother's keepers.   We may not subscribe to the same faith in the end, but in the end, I hope that I can challenge my friends to care as much about their fellow man - ALL of them - as they do about themselves.   

I firmly believe that while we all sin and fall (on a regular basis), at the root of every human being is a heart, mind, and soul made in the image and likeness of God, who is all good and perfect.   At the core of every one of my friends and acquaintances is a burning desire to do good, and to help their fellow brothers and sisters.   

I challenge you to act on that desire, daily.  

Think about everything you do and say:  who is being put first with that action or speech? 

Go out of your way to help or serve someone else today.    Smile at them.  Hold a door.  Donate to a shelter of your choice.   Speak the Truth of the goodness of ALL human life to them.  


Love them until it hurts.

Be a true friend, challenging your friends to live a life of virtue and love.

I challenge my friends - and especially my generation - to return to a culture of life

A culture where all humans are seen for what they are: made in the image and likeness of Love.  

It can - and it must - start with us.

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. "  - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Monday, January 23, 2012

Choice, part two (What is a pregnancy?)

Before I even get started with a continuation of yesterday's blog post, I want to extend a thanks to J, the one and only person who responded to my question yesterday.  This blog got quite a bit of exposure yesterday (more hits than any other post, so far), and yet, only one person was brave enough to enter the conversation.  For that, I am very thankful.   Because of that, I will be directing most of my comments towards J, since she was the only one willing to come forward, but please feel free to jump in at any time.

Now, I know that J is an intelligent, compassionate mom.  This is one of those rare instances when I know the person in real life, and have spoken with them face-to-face.  So, I can assure everyone that I respect and appreciate her taking the time to answer the question.  I also know that, because of her compassion and care for those around her, we can enter into an adult conversation and leave any name-calling and emotions behind.  I ask that everyone does just that.  Thanks.

It took a bit of clarification to get a definition of the "choice" we are talking about with regards to abortion, but J gave a better answer than I was even hoping for, to be honest.  This is what we ended up with:

"Sorry my original answer wasn't clear enough- the choice to continue a pregnancy or end it. Pretty straightforward."

This answer was even better than I had hoped for - I really thought we were going to have to get through one more response (the definition of "abortion") to get to the point where we would use the word "pregnancy" in this discussion.

So now, I ask you:  we know what the words "continue" and the words "end" mean, right?  One means to allow the process to keep developing, and the other means to stop the process prematurely.  
But how do we define pregnancy?   Use scientific, medical words, if you'd like, or use common language.  I'm interested in hearing it all.

What is a pregnancy?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I was reading my regular list of blogs this morning, and came across this post from one of my favourites.  A couple more clicks and I was looking at a challenge from Jill Stanek.  Considering this play on words is something that I've always found incredibly intriguing...I'm taking the challenge.

I have to admit, the pro-abortion side has an incredible knack for taking very positive words (like "choice" for example) and using them to mask the evils of what they are doing.  I mean, come on, who wouldn't be all for giving a choice?  We, as very individualistic Americans LOVE to have choices and free reign over all of them.

But what if the choice is to participate in murder?   That's what it means in this whole abortion situation, does it not?   After all, that's what abortion is, isn't it?  The ending of a life of a child? 

I can see why they had to replace "killing your child" with "choice.".....they just don't quite have the same ring to them....

So....I ask, if you are pro-choice - define CHOICE

What is the CHOICE you speak of?  The choice to do WHAT?  The choice to have WHAT?  A choice implies that you have to pick between two items/actions/um, things.  What is this CHOICE you are advocating for?

To be continued......

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thank you, Pinterest

Yes, I have a new addiction.  

No, it's not blogging, although today is seeming to prove otherwise.  We're hanging around the house, waiting for the plumber to show up (our washer is making funny sounds - eek!), and I thought I'd tackle a few projects I've been putting off for awhile.

I found this idea a few months ago, on Pinterest - making your own dry-erase boards out of picture frames.  I saw a collage-style picture frame being used as a weekly schedule, and seeing as my kids are ALWAYS asking me "What are we doing today?," I thought it might be worth a try.

Armed with my 40% off coupon, a gift card, and with the bribe of a $5 pizza on the way home being spoken out loud, we headed into Michael's.  The craft store, as the boys call it, is probably my least favourite place to go with the kiddos.  It's just too tempting - and keeping their hands off of everything is pretty much not ever going to happen.

This trip wasn't bad (I guess the pizza bribe worked!), and we were able to get out of the store after spending a mere $8 (Yay for coupons and 55% off frames sales!).   Here are the finished products:

Our "schedule" wall

The weekly schedule for the boys to follow - I'll change the Scripture in the middle to be something from the upcoming weekend's Mass (Hoping that they'll recognize it when we're at church on Sundays)

An example:  Joseph's includes practicing his piano, but the other two just have reading.  They'll write the name of the book that they've read that day in the blank (we do the Pizza Hut Book-It program here at home, so this will take the place of many, many sheets of paper)

My Favourite Christmas Gift

Believe it or not, my favourite Christmas gift this year was NOT the nice watch (although I did get one of those), or the cute socks (thank you, Baby #1), or any of the books I received.  I was thoroughly spoiled this year at Christmas....but my favourite gift actually came from someone I have never met.

This is Mike's first year working in a "real" office.  Before, he was pretty much always found somewhere in the hospital, and while he had a clinic and his "own" patients.....there wasn't as much of a doctor-patient relationship as there is now.   Being at a residency clinic also didn't really lend itself to gift-giving between medical practices - occasionally, there'd be a gift from an attending or something like that, but it definitely wasn't as prominent as it was this year.

I, personally, was completely surprised by the amount of gifts given to Mike and the rest of the office staff.   It seemed like every day, he was coming home with another Christmas card, some more baked goodies, or some sort of gift basket - and I know he wasn't the only one!   All of the staff were shown an incredible level of appreciation from their patients and other practices in the area....and everyone was quite grateful.

My favourite gift from this Christmas happened to be one of these tokens of appreciation.  Just before Christmas, the office was given a beautiful basket of fruit.  Loaded with fresh, organic fruit, this basket magically appeared on our kitchen counter one evening....and I fell in love.

Not with the fruit itself, although that was quite delicious, but with the basket.

You see, I have three active little boys.  And it seems that most days, "active" really means "hungry."  I'm not one for snacking, personally, so having to make these three adorable little boys daily snacks - sometimes three times a day - between meals is kind of a chore that I don't particularly like.  Multiple times, I've been known to buy the not-so-great box of granola bars (WHY do we Americans think we need a constant supply of granola bars, anyways??!!?!), just because it is easier, and my part in the granola bar process is merely opening one for the three-year-old munchkin.

This basket has provided me with a solution that I'd never considered in our daily lives:  the fruit basket.  

Now, I'd seen baskets of fruit in other homes.  Sometimes, they were real....but more often than not, they were full of fake, plastic fruit.  I guess I'd never thought about the fact that the idea for a fruit basket had to come from somewhere.  At some point in time, that plastic fruit basket was probably a basket full of real fruit, enjoyed by the whole family.

I reinstated the basket of fruit in our house, seeing as this basket was the perfect size and shape for just such a job (considering the gift that came with it!).   It now sits on our kitchen table, where I keep a supply of organic, washed fruit (ignore the sticker in the picture....I added fruit to it before snapping the picture, because it had been eaten bare already, and forgot to remove the sticker.  It's been taken off and washed now, don't worry!).  It's within reach of the children, and I've found that this basket serves three very important jobs:

1)  It empowers my children to get their own snacks.  Now, this is huge for me.  As I said before, I'm not a snacker....and I hated having to make snacks for the kids.  Now, they can get their own, and they love it. 

2)  My children are snacking on healthier options.  Like I mentioned before, I often fell into the packaged snack trap, mainly because of my lack of enjoyment regarding the making of snacks.  Now, they're enjoying many different kinds of fruits throughout the day....and we're no longer eating the processed bars and/or snacks that I had in the pantry.

3)  The "Can you peel this?" question is not being asked.  This kind of goes along with job #1.  The kiddos are empowered to pick and obtain their own snacks, and they have no desire to negate that empowerment with having to ask for my help.  What does this mean?  No more peeling of apples (they eat the peel!), no more "opening" of bananas (they've figured out how to do it on their own), and no more peeling of oranges (they figured out the spoon trick!) for this Mommy.  All of this makes me very, very happy - and is better for them!   

So, although it might seem weird, my favourite Christmas gift this year isn't any gift that I actually received...but the basket it came in.

Kind of sounds like a few toddlers we know, huh?

Pancake Paradise!

We're just going to continue on the food theme for a little bit longer....I'm in a hungry kind of mood!

Pancakes are a favourite breakfast around here.  To be honest, they're pretty much the breakfast of choice for my preschooler, every day.  Try them topped with peanut butter (not regular butter) and maple syrup for an amazing start to your day!  I do make mine with whole wheat flour, for a little added health "punch," but that is up to you!

Fluffy Pancakes without Buttermilk, since I never keep that around.....

1 cup flour (again, can be whole wheat or all-purpose)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk (I use whatever we have on hand)
1 egg
2 tbsp cooking oil

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Put aside.

In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs, and then add in the milk and oil.  Mix well, and then pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined - you want it slightly lumpy, so don't "overmix."

Let the batter sit for a minute or two while your griddle heats up.  This is important - if you skip this step, your batter will be too runny, and the pancakes will be thin.

Ladle approximately 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  Wait to flip until the pancake is mostly covered with little bubbles.  Flip once, and let it sit to cook through.  (Don't flip more than once - they will dry out if you do that!).  Eat quickly - before they're all gone!

This recipe makes 6-8 pancakes, so I usually triple it and freeze the extras for subsequent mornings. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Easy-peasy Pasta Sauce

Wednesdays are busy days for me - I know I've mentioned that before.  From the moment we get up in the morning, until the moment our heads hit the pillows at night, we're going, going, going.  

Wednesdays have become our crock pot nights, out of necessity - all you busy parents out there know exactly what I mean!  If we're going to avoid the fast food drive thru on the way home from our last commitment, I have to think ahead and have dinner going before we even leave the house.

Today was a bit of a struggle.  I'd not run to the grocery store, because I was trying to use up what was left in our freezer/fridge/pantry before shopping.  Every so often, we have these "eat up everything on the shelves" kind of weeks, so that I can make sure we're not wasting anything we buy.  (That's one of my pet peeves - I HATE opening a pantry or cupboard to find a can of food that is now so old that I have to throw it out, when we could have easily eaten it in time...if I'd stopped buying new stuff to put on top of it).

I looked in my pantry this morning, and didn't find much.  Today was going to be my grocery shopping/replenshing day, but that wasn't until this afternoon....I needed to figure out something for our crock pot this morning....hmmmm...

I threw together what I hoped would be a yummy pasta sauce, since I saw a box of uncooked penne hiding in the back corner.  Fingers crossed, we headed out for our day of running around. 

Thankfully - - it worked!  I'll make a few changes next time, but I think this one might become a staple around here, especially since I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  (I'll note the changes at the bottom of the recipe).

Crockpot Pasta Sauce

2 cans of diced tomatoes (the 28 oz size - the BIG ones)
1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence seasoning
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter

In a large skillet or stock pot, melt the butter.  If you want, you can use cooking oil for this, but I'd suggest not using olive oil (it negates the flavour of the garlic).  Once melted, saute the onion and the garlic until the onion is translucent.   Add the ground beef, and brown well.

Meanwhile, in the crockpot, dump in the cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, and seasoning.  Once the beef is browned, add the onion/garlic/beef mixture.  (Do not drain).

Cook on low heat for 8 hours, allowing the flavours to mix.  Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese, allowing it to melt.  Remove the bay leaves before serving over pasta.

Notes:  it was a bit thin, so I would probably puree the canned tomatoes before putting them in the crockpot (or just buy pureed tomatoes.....I just always have diced on hand, so it makes more sense for me to puree them myself).  I'd also tilt the lid for the last hour or so of cooking, to allow some of the steam to escape and cook off.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kicking the Habit

Not THAT kind of habit...

Or even this kind.

But those pesky little habits that seem to sabotage your new weight loss plan, or your new "best version of yourself" plan (if you're not working on losing weight).

I mentioned a few weeks back about how everyone seemed to be full of hope at this time of the year.  New year, new you - isn't that how the saying goes?  January is the time for new resolutions, chances to change bad habits, and chances to make something better out of what you currently are experiencing.

Except that we're starting the third week of January.

Now is crunch time.  Now is the time that those pesky bad habits tend to really creep back in.  Now is the time that the gym parking lot seems to have empty spaces again.  Now is the time when you'll find friends falling off of the diet wagon, left and right.

Why?  Why do our resolutions only last a few weeks, at most, year after year?

I challenge you - if you're teetering on the edge of giving up - to take a look at exactly what you're resolving to change.  I would guess that, more often than not, you're trying to change something that is a well-formed habit.

Habit:  an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

A habit - technically - is a noun.  It's a thing, a behaviour.  However, I challenge you to look at it in a new light:  what if that pesky little habit that you're trying to break is a verb?  

What if that habit is no longer something that you either have or don't have....but something you choose to DO or DON'T DO?

So often, we forget that there is an element of choice within a habit.  The behaviour pattern hasn't become involuntary totally - it's almost involuntary, by definition.  Do you realize just how much of a big deal that little word "almost" is?!?!  Almost means that you're not committed to the action....you have a chance to back out!

So many of us view a habit as something that we have acquired and cannot remove, and so we try to change the characteristics of that habit.   We view it as a noun that just needs to be "tweaked."  

Have a problem with eating after the kids go to bed?  Just get rid of the sweets in the house...never mind that you'll just find something healthy to eat (like a banana).  You can't change the fact that you have a habit of late-night snacking, so you might as well just make sure it's "good" snacking, right?

Ummm, wrong.

See, there's a problem with this logic:  one day, that banana won't be there.  Instead, you'll be out of town, staying in a hotel with an oh-so-convenient little snack shop...and you'll get ice cream.  Or a candy bar.  Or both.   That habit - the late night snacking - is still there, no matter what you put in your hands every night.  You may have changed the intensity of that habit...but the habit is still there.

If the habit is still there....it's easier to fall back into your old routines.

The resolution?  Out the window.

If you're starting to feel like those resolutions aren't going to work this year, I ask you:  Are you truly changing a habit....or are you just changing what that habit looks like?

Kicking a habit isn't easy.  I've read studies that claim that it takes 21 instances of performing a new behaviour before it becomes a habit...for most of us, that's TWENTY-ONE DAYS!  Not exactly an "overnight" solution, is it?

Before you give up on this year's resolution.....take a step back and reflect.  Is it a habit - a behaviour - that you are trying to change?   Are you treating it like a verb or a noun?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sometimes all you need....

...is a good, old-fashioned silly face contest.  Enjoy the contestants!  :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012


....is definitely a wild and crazy ride, one that's just beginning for me, in a way.  My children are still young - the oldest being only 7 - and I have a lot of mothering years ahead of me.   I'm looking forward to each and every one of them   - and yes, that does include the teen years that are so feared by many, it seems.  (disclaimer:  I actually really like teenagers, so maybe that's why I'm not scared of those years.  Check back with me in 10 years or so when the teenagers I'm around are my own flesh and blood...haha).

Recently, a mom friend of mine decided to go back to school and obtain her college degree.  A lot of circumstances in her life - some good, some outright bad - had forced her to not go to college at the "normal" time of life.  She and her husband have decided that now is the right time for her to achieve that degree, and I wholeheartedly stand behind her.  I know she will persevere and do well.  

To be accepted into college, she had to take a few placement exams, and the other day was her English test.   She mentioned that she woke up, already thinking about what she should wear to the exam.  She realized that while it seemed like a silly thing to be worrying about, it was really just "symptom" (if you will) of a deep-seated belief that she had.  She realized that she felt that how she presented herself to the world represented a larger group of people:  she represented stay-at-home moms (abbreviated by "SAHM" for the rest of this post).   She realized that we, as human beings, tend to generalize.  Sometimes, this is a good thing - it keeps us out of danger (ex: if we have a reaction to a peanut, we generalize that we should avoid ALL peanuts).  Sometimes, however, our generalizations are completely wrong and need to be corrected.  (ex: stereotypes)  In her experience (and a few other moms, it turns out), she'd run into the generalizations that SAHMs were, by nature, not very intelligent.  Her choice of what to wear was more than just wanting to look nice - she wanted to combat this image of less-than-smart SAHMs. 

Now, I'm not saying that everyone has this image of SAHMs - not at all.  I know that isn't true.  What I'm saying is that she had - previously - run into this perception of SAHMs, and felt a need to consciously disprove it, through how she presented herself. 

This led to a great discussion within my group of mom friends.  Some had experienced the same sort of generalization.  Others were struggling with it in their own mindset.  After all, it doesn't take a certain intelligence level to become a mother, biologically.  There aren't any required test scores (academically) to get pregnant.  Some of the moms struggled with this - if it doesn't require any "smarts" to become a mom, what does that mean for ones who choose to stay home with the kids and be a SAHM (in terms of their own self-image)?  Another mom made a comment that really spoke to me.  She said (in addition to wanting to represent moms as smart and put together),
"I also try to represent being a SAHM as a happy person who loves her kids...not just tolerates them."

This comment spoke volumes to me. 

I am in NO WAY implying that any mom out there does not love her kids.  I truly believe that even the "worst" moms (you know, the ones that hurt their children in some way) do feel at least a tiny bit of love for their children.  I honestly do not believe that it is possible to carry a child in your womb, give him/her the gift of life, and not feel a single ounce of love for that child.   I don't believe that it is possible, biologically OR emotionally.  There is some love there.

I understood her statement in the context of our popular culture.  Everywhere I turn, there is another comment being made about a mom not being able to wait until the kids are grown and gone.  I see countless articles about moms having feelings of dislike or even hatred for their children, or how to "get through" another day, or the importance of not "losing your sense of self" in motherhood. 

I recognize that there is some truth in all of those statements.  It's okay to dream about the days when you and your husband can vacation without worrying about naps and mouthy teenagers.   It's okay to not always like your kid's actions.  It's okay - and good - to recognize that you are an individual being with needs and not disappear into the service of others.  But have we, as a nation, possibly gone too far with those mantras?  Have we, through our articles, comments, and "experts," decided that there is no longer value to the vocation of motherhood, but yet, it is just something we need to do "on the side" as an obligation? 

I'm not sure of the answers to these questions, to be totally honest.  I'm rambling a bit.  I can speak to my own experience, however, so that's what I will do.

I did - and do - identify with a lot of what my mommy friends were talking about.  I have a college degree, but you know what?  I didn't get that college degree for me.  From as far back as I can remember, my one true desire in life was to be a mom.  A stay-at-home mom.  With lots of kids.   I went to college because I had "potential," whatever that is (I'm assuming it had something to do with my 4.0 GPA and graduating in the top 10 in my class).   I felt - thanks to well-intentioned advice and pressure, I'm sure - that becoming "just a mom" would be becoming a failure.  I needed to "make something of myself" because my worth was dependent on what I did, career-wise. 

So I went to college.  I enjoyed it - and I DID meet my husband there, so good definitely came of it - but I have no use for the degree that I obtained.  I don't need that degree to do what I'm doing now, which was the one thing that I always wanted to be:  a mom.   I struggled with this for a very long time - until about two years ago.  I still felt like a failure because I was "just" a mom.  I wasn't using the book knowledge that I'd obtained so many years ago.  Nevermind that I was doing probably the most important thing that I could ever - and will ever do - forming little souls.   Because I was not proving my intelligence to the world, I was a failure.

Two years ago, I had an epiphany.  I realized that - you know what? - motherhood is a noble, valuable vocation.  All women can become mothers....but not all women become GOOD mothers.  Good mothers are what children need, and without them, our world would go down the drains pretty darn quickly.

God had called me into my role in life, and what was I doing fighting that?   Fighting that, not embracing it, may have been the least intelligent thing that I had ever done in my life

Embracing my role of motherhood probably looks different than every other mom out there.  Socioeconomic and cultural situations play a big part into this.  In my situation, I needed to embrace - and be grateful for - the gift of being able to stay home.  Sure, it has its pros and cons, but it is a gift.   I needed to recognize that I was being blessed with the ability to participate in my children on a day-to-day, continual basis.  I was - and am - incredibly blessed to have this opportunity.  Instead of tolerating my daily life - and just "getting through the day" - I needed to experience every moment, savour every hug, constantly thank God for the life I was living as a SAHM.

Embracing motherhood meant - for me - that I was being given the gift of a joyful marriage.  Receiving that gift meant that I couldn't take my husband for granted, and I needed to make sure he did not feel taken for granted.

Embracing motherhood meant - for me - learning new ways of doing things around the house.  My own mother can attest to my lack of umm..housecleaning skills or kitchen abilities.  Embracing motherhood meant that I had to refine my skills in the homemaking realm.  ;-)

Embracing motherhood meant - for me - that I had to redefine my "mission" in life.  Maybe, just maybe, I wasn't being called to have an impressive professional career.  Maybe, just maybe, I wasn't being called to lead within the Church in the way I thought I had been (through teaching in a traditional setting, which is where I thought I needed to be).

Maybe I was being called to witness to the value of motherhood.  Maybe, just maybe, God was using me to show the world the GOOD that motherhood brings to life and society, and the joys and blessings that a mother can receive by embracing her role.

I can remember the day that I realized that I - possibly - was following a calling that didn't exist, but ignoring the true calling that I was receiving, like it was yesterday.  I can relive the excitement, the wonder, the exhilaration of that moment.   I have never felt such a freeing feeling in my life, to this date.

Maybe that's what realizing your vocation is supposed to feel like - not what I had been feeling before.  Instead of feeling like I wasn't living up to my "potential" (in my head, that "potential" was my calling) and feeling like an eternal failure......I felt free.  I felt blessed.  I felt loved.   I felt like I had been - finally - given gifts that I could use to serve God well.   And yet, nothing had changed...except for my head.   My head was finally aligning with my heart, and responding to the calling I felt within my soul.....and now that they were all in line - I could finally do what I was called to do:  love God completely.

Obviously, I am not perfect.  My life is not perfect.  I still have struggles (read yesterday's post for an example).  Sometimes it's not pretty - I am a sinner.  I lose my temper sometimes.  Sometimes I find it hard to overlook the mess to see the joy on the faces of my children.  Sometimes I find it hard to want to clean the house for the thousandth time that week, or to prepare my husband's favourite meal when it's not really something I like to eat, or things like that.   Things are not - by any means - perfect in my life.  One day, in Heaven, they will be, but for now, some days are better than others.

Where does this leave us?  Really, it leaves us with the reason for this post:  my mission.  (yes, I know this has been long, I and thank you for reading to this point!).  I'm not a big fan of the word "mission," to be honest.  I think it has too many contradicting connotations to really make a clear point in this situation.  So I'll be pretty basic - what is my goal, in other words.  My goal is simple:  to honour God through my role as a mother.  To show the world that He is good, and that He has gifted us with an incredible blessing in the form of family and motherhood.  Motherhood has an inherent positive value - and I am called to witness to it.  It is a source of love, of compassion, of virtue, and a challenge to grow in holiness through the mechanics of motherhood.   Motherhood is learning to know, love, and serve God in a very unique way:  and I am called to witness to it.

That's why I started this blog.  Maybe it's sickeningly sweet to some of you...maybe it gives you something to work towards.  Like I said, I'm not perfect.  But I am a witness to the wonders that God can work in a life through the vocation of motherhood.  Not me - I'm not working the wonders.  I make mistakes on a daily basis (as this blog shows!)  God is working wonders in my life through my vocation of motherhood, and I am trying to witness to that, and hopefully plant a seed in someone else's mind about the value of motherhood.

I know I mentioned the other day that I was back on Facebook.  In reality, this post speaks to my decision to return to Facebook, no matter how much I wanted to avoid it.  As you know, I jumped back on over Christmas, with the intention being to reach out to friends/family that I have no other contact information for and wish them all a Merry Christmas.   My intention was to get on, contact them, send our greetings, and deactivate again.  God had other plans, I believe now.  In that short 24 hours that I planned on being online, I received three very heartfelt messages from  people I hardly talk to anymore.  We "see" each other on Facebook, but there were very few individual conversations between us.  Each of these three people - independent of each other (they don't even know each other in real life) - asked me to reconsider leaving Facebook.  They each testified to how my witness of motherhood and family had touched them and how they looked forward to my posts and comments every day.  Each of them commented on how my witness gave them something to "aim" for, or something to work towards in their own lives or family.  Each of them told me that not seeing my presence on Facebook created a bit of a hole in their lives, and that they truly missed me.

I'm not recounting this to pat  myself on the back.  I honestly was shocked - and still am - that what seemed so trivial to me could have made such an impact on someone else.  I'm still finding it hard to fathom just how concretely they each stated something that I had felt more than a year earlier when accepting my vocation:  that my witness to motherhood was important, influential, and what God was calling me to do. 

I'm relaying this experience to ask you:  what clothes have you put on today to represent yourself?  It's not as silly as it sounds - what image are you giving to the larger community about your role in life?  What is the message you are sending about your own vocation?  

What is your vocation?  Have you discerned that yet, or are you still struggling - like I was - to find that calling?  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Struggle...

Believe it or not, I'm not an optimist.  

I know that's hard to believe, especially with all the "Pollyanna-like" posts of late, but I'm not.  

I have a very hard time "looking on the bright side" or "finding the silver lining."  I've been told/advised to do that for my entire life....but it just doesn't come naturally to me.  I don't see a glass as being half-full, but I see it as half-empty.......and then I beat myself up for days about not being able to see the half-full glass and instead focusing on the negative/empty part.  It's a vicious cycle.

Moves = adjustments, though, and I've been really consciously trying to change my mindset since moving to the desert.  For the most part, it's worked.  I've been able to be the member of the family who finds the good in everything, or finds the little bit of positive, and stretches it out for everyone to see.  For the most part, I've been able to retrain my natural inclination of pessimism into being the optimist that my family needs me to be as we adjust to living so far away from family, in a completely different environment, with different stresses and pressures.  

Until last night.

You also have to realize that I'm an introvert.  I'm not shy, but I'm an introvert.  There is a difference.  Being around people doesn't infuse me with fear or anxiety....but it does completely overwhelm and exhaust me.  I'd much prefer to stay home with my family - or even just a few friends - than be in a social situation.  Some people relax by going out, seeing a show, going to dinner, getting together with friends......that completely drains me.  Relaxing, for me, is staying home with a good book.   It's not that I don't like being around other people or even friends....but it's physically difficult for me to do often.

So back to yesterday.

As an introvert, my Wednesdays are usually really difficult days.  (and are also why at 10 am on a Thursday morning, we're all still in pajamas and haven't done a darn thing yet - these are recover days for me).  Wednesdays include a 3 hour long book group/playdate in the morning, trying to squeeze school into a couple of hours right after lunch, and then religious education for the big boys and grocery shopping for me and the littlest one.  It may not seem like much to anyone else, but it means that I typically have a 10 hour day of constant human interaction -the majority of it being outside my home - with no down time.  Now, I did bring this all onto myself.  I could easily drop the book club....but as I enjoy being there, I haven't yet.  It may be hard for a non-introvert to understand, but I do enjoy each of these outings....I'm just exhausted, mentally and physically, by the time we get back home.  There is a difference, believe it or not.  On "regular" days, I can offset any social gatherings with my workout, which has become my quiet time away from having to interact with people.  On Wednesdays, I just don't have enough time to be able to do that during the day.  

I accept this, and work with it (hence the "recovery Thursdays," like today).   

But on Wednesday evenings, I'm tired, emotionally and mentally, and last night was no exception.  I sat down on the couch, and the combination of exhaustion from the day and the struggle to retrain my pessimistic inclinations just led to an incredible feeling of uneasiness and sadness.   Friends are hurting with unspeakable pains......frustrations with daily life.....incredible sadness as I watch family members deal with the worst kind of growing old (dementia)...and not being able to DO anything about any of it.  I'm too far away from most of them to actually, physically, hold them or help.  We have no ability to GET to them, either.   I can't, financially, give them the support they need.  I feel like I'm on one side of a canyon, and can see everyone hurting on the other side....but there's no bridge - or even materials to build the bridge - to get to them.  My heart is heavy, and I just can't shake it.

So today, I hurt.  I'll probably stay in my pajamas for the better part of the day, and the goals are little ones (school and laundry).   Tomorrow, we'll try again.   Just thought I should counteract the dripping  "sugary" nature of the last few posts.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter fun ?

I've been wordy enough the past couple of days, so I thought I'd give you guys a break with a picture post.  We finished up school right on time today (took a little hand-holding from Mom today - the kids were antsy), had lunch with Daddy, and then headed out to enjoy the sunshine and 70 degree weather.  It's hard to remind ourselves that it is January right now!  

After a quick post office run, we made a stop in a neighbourhood park.  While HOAs can be incredibly annoying and the fees are kind of a pain....I'm thoroughly loving the many parks in our neighbourhood.  We don't go to this one often, as it's usually the busiest of all of them, but decided to try it out today.  The boys had a blast.  We picked oranges on the way home from the neighbourhood trees for a snack, and just enjoyed being out in the sunshine.  Enjoy the photos!  (don't forget - you can click on the picture to see them in a larger size).

Monday, January 9, 2012

As requested..

I posted a picture to Facebook today (yes, I'm back on the horrible thing known as FB, but I have valid reasons, and most of them have to do with the fact that FB is apparently the only way to communicate with people near and far nowadays.  I'm using it very, very sparingly and trying hard to stay out of the "loop", but I am there.  Expect another post about that....).  Back to this post..

I posted a picture to Facebook today.  It was really for my benefit, but it seems to have caught the eye of 50 or so of my friends.  You see, I posted a picture of me.  Nothing fancy - I snapped it in the few minutes before we left for Mass last night.  Just a simple reflection of myself in the mirror.

Here's the picture:

I snapped it because I am a visual person.  I learn best when I can see - or watch - something being done.  

As most of you know, I'm trying really hard to live a more healthy lifestyle.   That was my resolution last year (and one I'm proud to say that I kept!) - I resolved to treat my body as if it truly was the image of God.  If my body is truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, I need to treat it as such.  

Back in college, I was a "Ch-Urchin" at our campus parish.  Basically, what that means is that the parish had refurbished an old wing of the church (I believe it used to be a rectory), and turned it into individual student apartments.    In exchange for service hours around the church, four of us lived there with free room and board.  

My "job" was to assist the sacristan.  I spent hours that year, polishing wooden pews, cleaning out votive candle wax out of holders, making sure everything was ready for each of the weekend Masses.  In other words, I spent countless hours that year making sure that our church was physically ready to receive our Lord every week, but yet I was doing nothing (physically) to make sure that my body was ready.

It took a very dear friend to point out just what being healthy really was:  it was being a good steward of a gift I had been given - the gift of a physical body.  Up until that time, I had fallen victim to the "I'm beautiful inside" or the "If you love yourself, it doesn't matter what weight you are" mentality that is so prevalent in our culture.  I had completely bought the "don't judge a book by its cover" mantra and applied it to my own physical being.  I did think I was a pretty cool person, inside, so what did it matter what I looked like on the outside? 

While there IS some truth to the above catchphrases, I had let them become a "cop out" in my life.  My intention was laziness.  My true intention was not one of loving myself - it was one of giving up.

It took a pretty drastic wake up call to get my attention.  The above realization had been rattling around in my brain for months before I even mentioned it out loud to my husband.  It took a friend's health crisis for me to recognize that I was headed down the same path as my friend, unless I took action.

I realized, right then, that I was completely mistreating my body, which God has entrusted to me.  No one else is going to prepare it for Him, like I used to do for the physical church.  There's not some volunteer inside me who's going to clean out the junk I'd let built up and get everything shiny and new for Him.   If I truly was a temple of the Holy Spirit - and made in the image and likeness of God - I surely was not acting like it.

So, about a year ago, I made a resolution to start making healthy choices - to start respecting my body and treating it as if it really were a temple.  I looked like this when I made the resolution:

In my life, that translated to diet changes, exercises, taking better care of myself on a daily basis (silly things like flossing and actually making those routine doctor's appointments), and getting more sleep.

I was asked to post an update, so here it is.   A year after making my resolution, I have:

- successfully changed my diet (and my family's) to about 70% vegetable/fruit, 10% starch, and 20% meat/protein.  We did this gradually, and no one ever complained.  In fact, my children ASKED for a green salad as a snack today.  

-  lost 35 pounds.  I'm somewhat plateauing at the moment, but I'm not concerned, as I'm seeing other changes, and I didn't gain over the holidays, even though I did attend holiday dinners and eat out more often.

- dropped 3 dress sizes, and am close to dropping 1 more.  

- regularly been working out.  I started at 25 minutes a few times a week, walking at a pace of 3.0 mph.  I gradually added intervals of jogging, and am now up to 40 minutes at least 4 times a week.  During that 40 minutes, I complete 3.1 miles (5K - trying to get up to running it completely, to compete in my first 5K this summer).  

- stuck to my routine of taking better care of myself.  While I don't get 8 hours of sleep every night, I do get 8 at least 5 nights a week.  I've kept to my promise of flossing daily, and regularly seeing a dentist and doctors.

- had normal lab results (glucose, TSH, cholesterol, etc) this past August, for the first time in a few years.

- have normalized my blood pressure, so that I am no longer on any medication.   It has regularly been measured at 115/70 for the past few doctor's visits. 

Overall, I've made incredible improvements (in my opinion) in one short year.  I'm excited about what this next year has in store - and I'm incredibly motivated to keep on this path.  I'm not changing my resolution for this year - just committing to it again for 2012.

How about you?  What are you resolving this year?

Doing More with Less

The other night, Mike and I went out to dinner.  We've been trying to make this regular date night thing work for us - with his schedule, it's a bit crazy, but we've been able to have a night out just for us at least once a month since moving here.  Considering our only date nights back East were typically required meetings that we had to attend, this is a HUGE improvement from past years. 

This date night was slightly different from the others.  We actually  had a "function" to attend:  a dinner, put on by the alumni association of Mike's medical school.  We often get asked questions about med school, and what it was like, or how we "made it," or things along those lines.  I can honestly say that we "made it" because of the school we were at - not in spite of it.  This school truly cared about its students - Mike wasn't just a number with grades:  he was a person, and with that, a member of a family.  What other med school lets their students bring their babies to class?  (Baby #1 attended his share of classes during his first year of life).  What other med school lets their student go home to be with his wife as she miscarries their child?  (yes, this did happen to us).  I obviously don't have first-hand experience at any other school but this one, but I'd heard the same horror stories as the people asking us the questions.   I was slightly terrified of the task in front of us when Mike started med school....and while some times were difficult, the college really tried to help each student (and their families) get the most out of school without losing their heads.  It truly was a wonderful experience.

When the invitation came to attend this dinner, we noticed that the actual dean of the med school would be in attendance.  Seeing as her decisions and guidance were directly responsible for our great experience - and thinking it would be fun to see her again and catch up (yes - catch up:  another plus of this med school is that those "in charge" do actually know their students and care about their lives), we decided to attend, even though the dinner was almost a  1.5 hour drive away.

I'm glad we went.  It was a fun, social evening, full of meeting other Spartans.  Med schools attract a certain personality group, and each school has it's own "flavour," for lack of a better word.  This school is no different, and it was really nice to be around people that had similar personalities as ours.  I'm also glad we went, because of a certain phrase that was used multiple times and I've been contemplating all week.  One of the doctors in attendance gave a brief little speech (more like a toast), in which he recounted his experiences at the college.   Time and time again, he mentioned how this school managed to "do more with less."  This was a university-wide phenomenon, he explained, mentioning different sporting teams who consistently reach championships, even without the recruits of more "prestigious" schools, like Duke. 

His comments made me think:  doing more with less has been a theme of ours since the move.  While we are extremely blessed in our current stage in life, things have been very, very tight.  We've found ourselves trying to find ways of doing more with less, over and over again.

I'm not complaining, believe it or not.  I'm thankful for this challenge (most days - some days, I do slip and get frustrated, I'll admit it).  Trying to do more with less has helped us to prioritize our lives and to verbalize our goals a bit more than we have in the past.  In the past, our goal was just to get "done" - med school, residency, etc - with the current stage in life.  Now, we've accomplished that, and most likely, there won't be a huge, drastic change in our life stage.  Our goals have become smaller, our priorities more immediate. 

Doing more with less has forced us to get creative with our resources.  I've always hated throwing something out (just ask my mother), but now I hold on to something for more than sentimental value.  I try to re-appropriate the item.  I've come to realize that we, as a family, discard too much.  Sure, that game board might be missing a few pieces.....but it can be used as an educational tool.  It may turn from Candyland into a sight word game for the beginning reader - all it takes is a few new playing card, and a few minutes of my time.  That's a very basic example, but the concept can be applied to all areas of our lives.

Doing more with less also means that we've been trying to adjust our perception of just what is "enough."  We really don't need as much as we think we do to have a "good" life.  We may be purchasing less and less every month, but I think we're receiving more and more.  Doing more with less means that we appreciate what we have around us:  our family and friends.  We may not be able to spend $20/person for a concert or museum admission...but we can plan a picnic with friends, or take a hike with the family.  By doing less.....we end up doing a lot more.

I'm still learning how to do more with less.  I have plenty of room for improvement.  I struggle every day with wanting to have more.  I struggle with a feeling of entitlement, almost:  We worked so hard to get here, and why can't I enjoy it?   The problem is that my view of "enjoying it" needs to change.  I can enjoy our life now that we've reached the end of med school and residency, because enjoyment is not something that money can buy - it's not a consumer product, like I once thought.  I'm working towards not only recognizing that, but embracing that.

How do you do more with less?