Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday on social media. I love reading about what and who my friends love and being surrounded by gratitude for a whole 24 hours. I know that the Thanksgiving we celebrate, all light-hearted and cheerfully, is not exactly the same sentiment that the day actually marks, but somehow history has transpired to give us a day to acknowledge gratitude annually, and I am here for it.
A spirit of gratitude is one of the things that initially drew me to E. On our first date, in fact, it was a topic of conversation. He was the very first person I’d ever been on a date with who talked about the “practice of gratitude.” I was intrigued. It was even a whole season before Thanksgiving.
What does that mean? What does it look like to practice gratitude?
To me, it means allowing the good to cut through the tough, the imperfect and the painful. It means looking at the very thing that is causing pain, and instead of wishing it away, being grateful for however it is serving you while you work out the kinks. It means holding space for the frustrating and digging beneath it for the miraculous. It means coming home from a beat-up day at work and still saying “I have a job, we have what we need, and I am grateful.” It means believing that everything you have was once everything you wanted.
Can’t you just feel it? Can’t you feel how it cuts through the pain and allows the sun to shine just a bit? It isn’t a remedy, but man is it a soother. It lifts your eyes from the floor, encourages hope and offers perspective.
Gratitude isn’t our default though…and that is why E called it a practice that July.
Imagine if next Thanksgiving marked a year of practicing gratitude. That in every day, we thought about what and who we are grateful for and, even better, we told people that they are on our list on other days of the year. I have to believe that changing our thoughts might just change our circumstances, because the mind is powerful and we have the ability and gift to make our worlds brighter, by something as simple as gratefulness. This doesn’t mean resigning to the fact that this is as good as it gets, and some days gratitude is really difficult, but it frees a space in your mind and heart for happiness alongside each step.
Grateful to and for you!
I really like to cook. Cooking takes me to my happy place. Give me a clean kitchen to dirty, the time to try a new recipe and a husband to feed, and I will be the happiest. I prefer cooking over baking though and this is important for you to know as you read on. I prefer cooking to baking because I don’t like things to be exact. I’m one of those “add a bit of this, add a bit of that” type of cooks and the preciseness of baking just really gets me down. You’ll notice as I start to share recipes that my measurements are not exact and my timing is general…you’ll just have to go with it.
Welcome to recipe #1! A vegetable frittata. I made this last weekend for a friend who just had a baby. They’re super easy to make, super delicious, and really easy to reheat. Easy but feels kinda fancy – my fave.
You will need:
- 2ish tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 a yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- about 5-8 petite red potatoes, diced (just enough for your liking)
- a handful (technical term) of spinach
- Note: you can literally use any veggies you love and/or have in the fridge
- 8 eggs
- handful of any kind of cheese you want – I used colby jack shredded cheese here
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
What to do:
- Preheat your oven to 400°
- You need a pan that you can use on the stove and in the oven. I used a cast iron skillet. Put that on the stove and heat to a medium temperature. Add a tablespoonish of olive oil.
- Dice up all those veggies. Throw the potatoes in the pan. Give them about a 5 min head start
- Add the bell pepper and onion to the pan and let them cook until softened. This could take about 15 minutes and you will likely need to add another tablespoon of olive oil to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan. Extra olive oil will also coat the pan to prevent the eggs from sticking!
- Season the veggies as they cook with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir frequently!
- When those seem about done (they should be soft but not mushy), crack 8 eggs into a bowl and whisk
- Add cheese to the egg mixture and mix
- Toss in the spinach to the veggies and let wilt for about 2 minutes
- Pour in the egg mixture evenly into the pan
- Let the pan sit for about 30 seconds – watch for the edges to firm up and then transfer to the oven
- It should need to cook for about 8 minutes – the top should be firm but not dry when it is done
- Take it out, sprinkle some cheese on top and serve or let cool to store
Yum – enjoy!
I need to talk to you a little bit about peanut butter.
Yep, the life lesson of this week is brought to you by peanut butter.
Yesterday, I made my weekly trip to the grocery store. I had a definitive shopping list but still found myself wandering up and down each aisles because…what if I forgot something? And then I walked right into the peanut butter aisle.
Have you ever noticed how many peanut butter options there are in this aisle? Really…take a glance next time. There are creamy varieties, crunchy varieties, even NON-PEANUT varieties of peanut butter. There are options that remind most of childhood (Jif for me, Peter Pan for E), options that have honey (yes, please), and options that are new to the party (almond is as exotic as I get). There are shelves and shelves of options that range in price, size, ingredients, familiarity, flashiness and likely taste.
You know, making a decision about peanut butter is just like the way we make decisions on the rest of things in life. The factors that went in to selecting my jar of peanut butter that day were reflective of the factors that I use to make any tough choice.
For starters, this particular store did not have the brand that I normally buy. What a total bummer. So, then I was presented with a decision and had to choose a factor to prioritize over the others. What was more important…price or ingredients? Was I up for trying something new or am I staying away from risk?
There are always a million varieties available to us. At each step, we have to weigh what factor will play in with priority. Will it be price this time? Will it be convenience? Will it be a choice to align with a goal? Every single time we choose peanut butter, we could consider a different option. Really. There are so many options. And every time we’re faced with a fork in the road, the factors we allow to show themselves are going to be different. At some point, we have to allow a factor to win out so that we can shake ourselves free of weighing the options. Sometimes I get stuck weighing the options for a remarkable amount of time. Like in the peanut butter aisle.
In the end, one thing is always the same no matter what we consider. Eventually you have to reach your arm out and grab whatever jar you choose. Shove aside all the other taunting options and just gently place that choice right down into your cart and move ahead with purpose. Grab, place, and go. More than likely, it will taste great and if it doesn’t, you’ll have a chance to make another choice soon enough. Because one thing is true about every decision – they’re rarely unchangeable.
I’ll chose the creamy variety with the fewest ingredients. Off brand. Organic is a bonus.
You are growing today.
It’s true. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel true. Sometimes, it actually just feels like you’re standing still. The consistency of the days often bores you. Maybe you woke up this morning and fought yourself to get up. You were worried and groaned that today would look just as yesterday. Often you feel no growth, although you long for it. You long for more…for different…
Friend, I hope you believe that those moments of searching, the steps that feel unfruitful and each day you search for that next right move…they’re adding up. They’re stacking up in your favor. They’re adding up to your dreams and your greatness. Eventually you will be able to look back and realize that all the waiting was purposeful and that all of the adding up just took time. Every day there are small changes within us, small changes of mind, forward movement so tiny it is undetectable. Every day we grow.
And, yes. The answer is yes. You have to get up. You have to get up and acknowledge that today cannot look like yesterday, and tomorrow cannot be the same as today, because you’ll be different than you were yesterday. You have grown.
Very adult financial things have been at top of mind for me lately. All things finances. Retirement. Houses. Day Care…OH MY.
First of all, I am not pregnant.
But, we would like to have children and do you have any idea how much child care COSTS these days? Forget college funds…we all need child care savings accounts and we need to open them when we are 20.
Anyways, on the topic of having special accounts, enter: retirement. E and I have been exploring some financial planning options and the numbers about retirement do not lie, people. I feel that the education system failed me by not requiring me to think about retirement in high school and college. I’ll admit that it is hard for a young person to think that far in advance but that is literally what it takes. I’m so grateful that we got serious about this now….but oh how we both wish we would’ve been more serious in our twenties.
Some practical tips if you are new to this game:
- Max out whatever options are available to you through your employer. Bite the bullet and do it. You may have a 401k or a 403b option and your employer may even match a percentage of what you put in. Figure out a plan that will lead you to the ultimate savings, even if you build up to it.
- Open a Roth IRA. Many many moons ago, my grandparents opened a Roth IRA for each person in their family. What a gift, right? Although I have not been putting gobs of money in to it since then, my measly contributions have still given me a start. Literally anything is better than nothing, in this instance.
- Find someone who knows something. Maybe you have a friend who knows something about financial planning or maybe you just have a friend who is smart and has planned their own finances. The language involved with this stuff is confusing, and having a trusted person (friend or financial advisor) who can break it down for you is a true treasure.
- Let this sink deep, deep into your soul: you may have to sacrifice now for what you want in the future.
- Identify some goals that are shorter-term than retirement. Create an account on a website that will allow you to watch your pennies, and start with whatever you can. I have found it important to actually move the money to an account that does not get drawn from on the daily. Move it and leave it, unless emergency arises.
- Get on board the roller coaster. As life ebbs and flows and twists and turns, so will our ability to save money. This is okay – it is all about prioritizing!
And lastly for today: find the joy. It is not lost on me that even having the opportunity to plan for a luxury like retirement (or any other savings venture) is an extreme privilege. Although, to me, it feels a bit scary, I am attempting to find some joy in the process. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to work hard and to consider crafting a future that brings us the things that we wish to have. Nothing about this is unfair or a drag, nor is it a right or a given. So, like all the other things in life that worry me, I’ll choose to be grateful to even have the option.