Belated Small Change Saturday: Cuddle Bug

It’s funny… it just hit me. Today is 6 months till the wedding. Oh boy!

And I’m so excited and so nervous and sooo looking at the to-do list. 🙂

But really, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to make this amazing man my husband and be with him for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to have children with him. I can’t wait to be old and wrinkly sitting next to him in rocking chairs reminiscing about our life together. I just plain can’t wait.

 

So on that wonderful note, the small change that I will be focusing on this week is the power of touch… cuddling to be exact.

Having studied child development in school, I knew that touch was important for infants to bond with their parents, but until now I never realized how important it was for adults, and couples specifically.

 

Touch is amazing. Touch is what we need, what we crave, what gives us a renewed sense of humanity every single day. Touch is not an option. And when it comes to a relationship, touch is vital. (Make sure to check out the links shared here, they have some amazing information.)

But I also know that in our day to day lives, touch is not always our number one priority. We don’t always work on making sure we connect with someone through touch. And we don’t always take the time to make sure we connect with our loved ones daily that way. It’s something that gets dropped, lost, crushed, forgotten, and abused. It’s time to take this essential back.

One amazing type of touch is cuddling. Cuddling is one of the most intimate types of touch, without entering into the realm of sexuality. Cuddling is putting your body right up against another’s feeling their breath, their heart beat, while at the same time they can feel yours. It’s a way to communicate your love and connection to someone without saying a single word.

My focus will be on making sure to connect through touch with the man that I will spending my life with. Your goal may include a different, but no less important, relationship that you would like to foster through touch. The focus here is to be aware of how necessary touch is and use it as a way to foster and nurture relationships of all kinds.

 

I wanted to end by sharing a poem that I wrote… here goes.

 

                                       DEAR

Give me your hand dear and I’ll give you mine.

Give me your heart dear and we’ll reach the divine.

Give me your hopes dear and I’ll keep them real close.

Give me your prayers dear and I’ll love you the most.

Look in my eyes dear and you’ll see my own dreams

Hold on to me tight dear, life’s not as it seems

We’ll weather the storm dear, together we’ll stay

As long as you’re near dear, just a touch away

 

Love!

 

 

My life by the seasons

I love the seasons. I love everything about the seasons. I love the idea that time ebbs and flows, back and forth, that not every moment is like every other… that life has a rhythm, a cycle.

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.  ~Stanley Horowitz

picture-book.com

picture-book.com

This is what I’ve discovered…

Winter is for contemplation and rest

 In winter, your focus should be on yourself. This is the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. Now is the perfect time to do a self inventory. Find out where you are, where you want to go, and how you want to get there. Love on yourself. Get some much deserved rest and prepare yourself for the year ahead.

 Spring is for new beginnings and creation

 In spring, your focus should be on new challenges. This is the time when your creative juices are their strongest. Take your cue from nature and create something. Take risks, be bold, and go way outside you’re comfort zone. Take all that energy that you stored up in winter and send it out into the world. This is the time of change and new beginnings.

 Summer is for adventure and leisure

 In summer, your focus should be on keeping the momentum going that you started in the spring. Now is the time to “up the ante” so to speak. Nature is exploding with life and energy and you should be too. But summer is also a time to spend time enjoying life. Find something that you love doing and spending time with it everyday. Even better, take your hobby (whatever it is) outdoors. Soak up the sun, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy yourself.

 Autumn is for family and harvest

 In autumn, your focus should be on reaping the bounty that you have sown. Complete the task that you have been working towards all year. Harvest all that you have sown. This is also a time to focus on family. Bring all the energy that has been out in the world working to attain your goal back towards home base. Nothing can be achieved without a strong base. Soak up love, joy, peace and share it with those closest to you.

There is a reason God did not make everyday sunny and 70. There is a need in life for ups and downs, times for creation and times for contemplation. Life is meant to have rain and sunshine. Life is meant to be lived by the seasons.

Love!

Toddler Tuesday- Say Yes

Tonight I want to impart on you one of the greatest lessons I have learned when it comes to taking care of children.

Say yes.

That’s it. Super simple and super effective.

Now that’s not to say you should let them eat ice cream for dinner and jump off the roof. But if it is safe, not destructive, and will do no harm to anyone else (which I realize is all the same thing), then by all means say yes.

Children nowadays are constantly told no. They can’t do finger painting because it will get on their clothes. The toys can’t leave the playroom because it will ruin the aesthetic of the house. Well I say pooey. Let kids be messy. Let them explore. And rid yourself of the power struggle that comes when you say no too often. Yes is a beautiful powerful word to children. It tells them you trust them, believe in them, and will honor their true needs and desires. It tells them you love them.

smallblessingsinc.com

smallblessingsinc.com

While I was cooking lunch today Little Miss started creating this very detailed roadway system throughout the home utilizing, I kid you not, almost every toy in the house. This thing was massive. Now I could have made her clean it up before eating… and the clean freak in me really wanted to, but she asked to be able to play with it later. And I said yes. Of course I did not let her do anything that would destroy the toys or home. And what did I gain? Almost two hours of her playing by herself. I even got some time to do some cleaning of my own. Little Miss also learned a valuable lesson in putting away what she takes out. 🙂  mwahaha

Play and life lesson all on one? I think so.

Love!

What I have learned from a year with a child

As a nanny (or parent, or caregiver of any type), I’m always thinking about what knowledge I can impart upon Little Miss and Baby Miss. My brain is always attempting to use each moment to teach them something; be it education, spiritual, a life lesson, etc. But after reflecting on this past year, I must say, and I know it’s a bit clique; I think I learned more from them then they have from me. Children have a way on making everything simpler and more concrete. Through their eyes, one can really see a world full of wonder, curiosity, daily challenges, and fun. I wanted to share with you the top 5 lessons that I have learned this year.

1. Sometimes all you need is a nap.

As adults, we are expected to constantly be doing something. Our society praises people that stay up late to finish a report, miss dinner to go to a meeting, and spend their weekends catching up, or running errands. All that busy work can cause us to be (obviously) tired, cranky, and unproductive. Instead, I say, let’s do as the “babes” do. After lunch, when we all tend to get sleepy anyways, let’s take 45 minutes to close our eyes, count some sheep, and give our bodies and minds a much needed rest. And you know what? Studies have actually shown that those that take a mid-afternoon siesta are more productive, feel more refreshed, and are actually smarter. Check it out here!

2. Being silly is ok, and actually necessary

I don’t know what it is about being an adult and being on automatic serious mode, but I hate it. Sometimes all I want to do is blow bubbles in my chocolate milk, jump on the bed, and make a huge mess with finger paints. And you know what I’ve discovered? Being silly is ok. In fact, it’s good. I’ll take Baby Miss to a music class and all the other grownups are being so serious, but when I allow myself to sing and dance along, I and Baby Miss enjoy ourselves so much more. Who cares what other’s think? Who cares if I look dumb, or immature, or unsophisticated? Fun is good. Silly is good. Laughter is good. In fact, laughter has been shown to relieve stress, increase immunity, decrease pain, strengthen relationships and so much more. So go ahead, read the comics in the newspaper, watch funny Youtube videos, and join your kids when they are pretending to be a rock band. Be silly. You’ll thank me for it.

3. Go outside

Has anyone ever noticed that kids tend to crave time outside? It doesn’t matter what the weather is or the time of day; when given the opportunity kids love the outdoors. And yet, when you become an adult, it’s all you can do to get a few minutes during your lunch break to soak up some sun. Why is that? Is it that we have forgotten how great it is to be surrounded by nature. Have we just not given the outdoors it’s dues? In fact, many studies have shown the positive affects that nature can have on us; including but not limited to reducing anxiety and depression, better sleep quality, and immunity. So be more kid-like; take a recess, walk your dog, spend lunch outside, play touch football with friends at a local park; anything, just get outside. It’s good for you! 🙂

4. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full

You know the old saying, “Clean your plate!”; well it’s wrong, and it’s time we stopped it right here and right now. It’s so funny how old sayings like that can come out of you so automatically. Both Little Miss and Baby Miss are huge “grazers”. They eat a few bites, want to play, a half hour later, come back to eat more. It used to bug me to no end; but I’ve come to peace with it. In fact, I’ve decided it’s a great way to eat for myself. I always feel such guilt at leaving food on my plate that I usually just plow through it; but if I slow down and take a moment, I realize that there really is no reason to feel guilty. In fact, I should feel proud for listening to my body. As adults we get so out of sync with our bodies that sometimes it’s hard to tell when we really are hunger, or full, or just perhaps bored. If we eat like a child, we spend more time enjoying the food and in turn have an easier time listening to what our body is telling us.

5. Enjoy each other.

If there is one thing that I could say my years with children has taught me, it would be that what children crave most often is time with their parents. Most of a child’s learning actually comes from unstructured time spent with family members. When they are surrounded by family, they feel secure, loved, trusting, and have a higher self-esteem. That connection goes the same for us; when we are surrounded by family and friends that love us we are better able to handle the stresses and complications that life brings. Just like children, when we have strong relationships with others we feel more secure, loved, trusting, and have a greater self-esteem. But, and that’s a strong but, that does not mean just connecting with people of Facebook, through email, or even over the phone. That means face to face connections. Make family dinners a priority. Join a book club. Meet up with friends once a month for dinner. Spend time with others, and enjoy their company.

Have any other lessons that your kids have taught you? I’d love to hear about them.

Love!

PS. If you’re in my area (Northern CA) I’ve started a children’s literature book club through Meetup. Email me if you’re interested. 🙂

The day after Christmas

Today is the day after Christmas. If you’re like me, you are recovering from your overindulgence, your lack of sleep, and your over enthusiasm. If you’re like me, all you want to do is take a nap. But I digress.

 

I always feel like the week after Christmas and before New Years is the time to prepare my heart and mind for what the next year will bring.

My next year will bring the greatest moment of my life up until now, my wedding. I am so excited; and so stressed all at the same time. I never realized there was so much to plan for, and we aren’t even hosting 100 people. It will be small and intimate, but still there is a lot to do.

This year also continues my journey with Paleo. My goal is to be in the greatest shape of my life by the time my wedding comes. And that means work. And work is hard (duh!). That means getting up early, and avoiding the foods that I love, but you know; I think I’m finally ready. I think I’m finally ready to make that commitment to myself and my body. I deserve it. I deserve to be comfortable in my own skin. And yes it takes dedication, but I’m ready for the fight.

This year also brings a change for my finances. I will be joining Mr. Right’s bank after our wedding, and I want to have my finances in order by then. It’s not that they are totally out of whack, but I do want to pay off all my debt so that I can start my marriage on a clean slate. So that’s another discipline to take care of.

And you know, there are other things that I would love to accomplish this next year- say writing a children’s book, going back to school, moving into a house; but I know that I can’t do everything in one year; so this is what I propose.

Each week, starting the first week of January, I will be sharing a “small change” that I will be conquering for the next year. It could be anything from walking 30 minutes a day, to flossing, to taking time to do nothing. Through all these small changes, I’m hoping to make a large difference in my health, my mind, and my general well being by this time next year. I invite you to join me on this journey. The small changes won’t be anything too difficult, but if we keep it up all year, we may be one step closer to becoming the person we know we were meant to be.

Will you join me?

With Love,

Amy

Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.  ~Quoted in Benjamin Franklin’s 1755 Poor Richard’s Almanac

 

from google images

from google images

A Christmas Letter

Dear Jesus,

I just wanted to write you a note to say, “Happy Birthday!”. Congratulations on the day of your birth. Tomorrow is the day that you were born fully human while remaining fully God. And that’s a pretty big deal.

I must admit, I haven’t always understood your purpose or what exactly the result was, but I just wanted to say; on this anniversary of sorts, now I get it. I finally get it. I finally understand why you came here, in the form of a helpless baby, just to die a terrible death 30 (ish) years later.

Jesus, you know I grew up in the church, and you know I can talk the talk and walk the walk… in my sleep… with one arm tied behind my back. 🙂 but why then did I always feel so guilty?

Why did I always feel like the real me inside was screaming to get out when I was doing everything I was “supposed” to do? You know that’s why I left don’t you? You know that’s why I did everything I could to piss you off.

“Ooo look at me Jesus, I’m not going to church and I just said a cuss word!”

But I have to admit, I think I finally realized what all this is really about.

It’s not about how much biblical knowledge I have or how many Christian bumper stickers are on my car, or that I go to church every Sunday.

And it’s not about knowing all the answers and never making mistakes.

And I know it’s not about what music I listen to, what movies I watch, or that I must vote Republican for goodness sake!

No, that is not why you came all the way here from your mighty throne to be born in a stable, of a virgin, to become a carpenter’s son.

You came here to give the greatest gift this world has never understood- Grace.

Grace is not a normal human response. Grace is not how we are hardwired to think or act. Grace is a gift, freely given, that does not look at fairness or has any scale of measure. Grace looks not at what is supposed to be, what is “right”, or who should win.

Grace is not    of     us.

I was right earlier when I said we were screw ups. We are. We are major, complete, and total screw ups. You know, “to ere is human”. No one is perfect. No one has the ability to live a perfect life.

But you know, to get to heaven to live with God eternally, you have to be perfect. There is no way around that. There is no grey area, no “mostly” good. Heck, there is no “good”; only perfect, and us.

But God created us in His image. He has a soft spot for us. All throughout the Bible God shows His Grace to us; by allowing an adulterer to become a mighty king, a thief to become a prophet, a murderer to become the father of a nation. God has a reputation for taking royal screw ups and using them in huge ways. That is grace. We don’t deserve that. We don’t deserve anything. We are the ones that turned away from Him. We all are meant to suffer for our pride, our hatred, our lust. And a lot of us do. That is justice. That is right. But that is not grace. Most of us don’t know that there is freedom from that which binds us. We aren’t stuck being screw ups forever. We have a chance to be seen as we were supposed to be; perfect, and to live with our Father.

And that’s where you come in, is it not Jesus? That’s where you take your place, as the perfect human that dies the worse death; suffering, so that we don’t have to. Dying in our place. It’s not fair. It’s not right or just.

But it is grace. It is what God is best at. Our loving Father wanted to be with us so badly that He sent His son, down to Earth, to live a lowly life, and to die an excruciating death. We are not deserving of such a gift, such love.

And I finally understand. It’s not that being a Christian gives me a list of rules to follow to be good. It’s not that I have to look, sound, or act a certain way. Being a Christian merely means that you know you will never get it right, that there is nothing you can do to earn your passage out of hell, so instead you accept the offer that God laid down; grace. There is nothing to do, because it has already been done. Just acknowledge that and your mistakes will be wiped out of history; past, present, and future.

That amazes me.

It’s not like my sin magically disappears and all I want to do is sing hymns and read my Bible; not at all. But I do know that I’m never going to get it right, and that’s alright.  I’m human, a screw up but my God has saved me, through His grace, so that I may spend eternity with Him.

So thank you Jesus, thank you Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels, and star.

and Merry Christmas.

Love,

Amy

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Sugar high!

I have to say, as much as I’m trying to obstain from sweets… it really isn’t the holiday season without doing some form of baking. Yesterday my mom and I had our annual cookie baking extravaganza! We bake gobs of cookies, sing along to Christmas music, and watch Christmas movies that we’ve completely memorized. I love it. It’s one of my favorite parts of the whole season, heck, the whole year!

Poor Mr. Right got stuck in the middle of it. He and Rocky-the- wonderdog watched football in the other room. Of course they had to come and taste test everything. 🙂 Hard life, huh?

Here’s Mom and I with just some our “load”.

image

I also mixed a batch of sugar cookie dough to bring to the girls today. I baked them off this morning and Little Miss and I decorated them all after lunch. It was a lot of cookies, and I only made half the batch!

image

You can find the recipe I used here.

So good! I made her simple cookie glaze too and put it in squeeze bottles for easy decorating for the girls.

I had so much fun sharing my love of baking during the holidays with Little Miss and Baby Miss. It was great to one day enjoy a yearly tradition with my mom, and the next see that same tradition afresh through youthful eyes.

I can’t wait till I have my own kids that can join me and my mother, covered in flour, singing super loudly, and giggling uncontrollably!

What’s your favorite family holiday tradition?

Love!

I love food!

I love food. I love eating food. I love talking about food. I love food dipped in chocolate.

Growing up I was never a picky eater. I was always the first one to clean my plate, and I reveled in the thought of finding a new recipe, gathering the ingredients, then devouring it- preferably with friends and family.

One of the reasons food and I get along so well is it seems to be the all around equalizer. Everyone eats. It is an activity that all humans from the past, present, and future do. I love that thought. Food brings everyone together for a time unequaled by any other activity. When my family is sitting around the dinner table, enjoying a meal that we worked together to make, and conversing; I feel a complete sense of calm. For that moment, everything is right in the world. Through each meal we learn a bit more about ourselves, our companions, and our humanity.

And it’s humbling. It is such a primal activity. It’s not that we choose to eat, or that we enjoy it (though those can be entwined in it), but we HAVE to eat. At some point each and every day, we must take a moment to lower ourselves to our most basic need. And with that, we all become one and the same.

I also love the fact that food keeps you connected to the earth, life cycles, and the fragility of it all. Not in a Mother Earth, worship the ground type way; but more in that it keeps us from taking for granted that which sustains us. Yes, we can plant it, nurture it, and a harvest it (and I love all of those); but we cannot control how much rain our crop gets or the sunshine. Ultimately there is a point where we have to release control over the greatest need that our bodies have. We just have to trust that the seeds will germinate, grow, and flower to produce our sustenance. There is a faith to it. I love that.

Like I said- I love food.