We had a pretty nice holiday at the Sires' household. We soaked in the glow of our Christmas tree, watched lots of holiday movies, snuggled in with our pups, and indulged in too many treats!
To balance out the peaceful calm, we threw some chaos of our own making into the mix. As usual, we were the people out shopping for ALL of our gifts the week before (up to the day before) Christmas. Never fails. We never mean to wait so long and we're not unthoughtful people, it has truly just become a laughable tradition of ours. At least we're experiencing the madness together!
This year was a little different for us because some of our normal traditions with family shifted slightly. The shift meant that we had Christmas Eve completely open, no commitments. (!!!) We tried to be intentional about what we chose to do in hopes of creating one or two new traditions that we could carry into the future.
It was a pretty laid back day. We slept in, rose slowly, had brunch, wrapped the last of our gifts, napped, took a walk, and went to church in the evening. The pace was dreamy. It felt so strange to have such a leisurely day in the middle of the busiest few days of our year, but I think we both welcomed and needed it.
My absolute favorite part of our Christmas Eve together was our walk. We took a walk around our property, taking time to stop, look around, and breathe in the crisp air. We fell in love with our acreage in the winter, so winter always feels an extra kind of special around here. Our dreams for this place took shape in the quiet, cold, and snowy months before we made it our home.
This type of reflection as a couple is undoubtedly the best new tradition that sprouted from our extra eight hours together during the holidays. My love for him, who we've become as individuals and as a couple, and the life we've built together has never felt stronger than in those stolen hours.
I hope you embraced new traditions along with the old this holiday season and were able to be present in both. Wishing you a wonderful holiday and happy new year!
Here are some “family photos” we attempted on Christmas Eve! Attempted being the key word. No amount of treats can persuade our dogs to take a photo!
I recently turned 33. I'd love to share an upbeat story about what a beautiful day I had and how wonderful I felt, but that would be a lie. I spent the first day of my 33rd year in the midst of a swirling mix of emotions. Mostly anxiety, some sadness, with an undercurrent of feeling special and overwhelmingly grateful. I cried. Hard. One of those deep down cries that catches you off guard and ends up being a welcome release of emotion.
I couldn't put my feelings into words. I'm not normally a person who is bothered by birthdays. I actually look forward to them as times for reflection, looking back and setting personal goals for the future. Wanting to be a better version of myself year after year. But this year was different. I'm hoping for good reason.
Over the past few months I have felt a major shift inside myself. I've been faced with messages of overcoming fears, embracing change, the importance of connection, of showing up. All things I'm admittedly not very good at. Actually, I would identify all of these things as my top weaknesses. But over and over again, I'm hit with truths about how in order to live in a full and authentic way I should embrace these things. And I believe this is true.
There will always be characteristics about ourselves that will be hard to face, but need to be faced in order to grow.
I don't want to make any declarations about what I'd like to see from myself over the next year, but I do have some thoughts:
Whew. That was much more of a download than I was expecting.
Even though I recognize there's still work to do - I also have to appreciate the good things that have occurred within me this past year. Limitless patience, recognizing the impact and power of my reactions and words, finding outlets for my anxiety, being present, finding the best in everyone and leading with the positive when referring to them, showing love without expecting love back. Good things. Good strides. Good vibes.
Two things in closing:
The first - I felt so very loved on my birthday due to the calls, texts, messages and hugs I received from my friends and family, both near and far. I also got some of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever gotten - which made me cry even harder.
And second - I've covered a lot in this post, but I feel the quote below best captures who I think I am at this time in my life. This is my 33.
I have been alluding to good news on my Instagram account (linked at the bottom of this post) for the past couple of weeks and I am excited to finally share what it is!
I got a new job! I'm leaving my corporate health care system marketing position to start a brand new, never before held community relations role with a local non-profit health care clinic. I am so excited! I'll be a one person department, create my own job description, and develop a marketing strategy from the ground up - adding structure to their currently disjointed efforts (my absolute favorite thing to do!).
I followed my heart and found a job that I believe will feel less like a job and more like a mission. I've never felt comfortable in corporate settings. I'm thrilled to be "going back to my roots" with a smaller health care organization. I started my career with a city-owned, critical access hospital, so I'm very comfortable wearing 20 different hats and diving into what needs to be done. I'll be perfect for my new role.
I must say though, although I'm not cut out for the corporate world doesn't mean my time within it was wasted. I learned so. much. I did so. much. I was supported so. much. So many opportunities and resources were at my fingertips. The room I was given to grow is unmatched. I wouldn't be able to move into my next adventure confidently without everything I have learned from working for a health care system. I'm forever grateful.
Finding a service-based position with an organization that cared for the underserved was really important to me. I was so lucky to find this opportunity. I knew immediately that I would be a great fit. I couldn't stop thinking about how I could be of service to them and to their patients. It was pure agony waiting for their call after I interviewed. I accepted their offer immediately. I had never felt more sure about wanting a job in my life.
The decision to leave my current job to embark on a different career path has been difficult, but I know it will be worth it. I'm trying really hard to be intentional about the choices I make - including who I give my time to and what I spend my time doing. The older I get, the faster time goes. We spend so much of our precious time at work, I wanted to make sure my time was being well spent among a population that I've cared deeply about for a very long time. I've been extremely blessed throughout my life, it's time for me to turn around and help the next ones in line.
Here's to initiating change in hopes of better things to come - even when it feels really scary. I've already been reflecting on what I've learned in my career thus far and how I can bring my best self to my new role. That's the best part about change to me. Looking inward to apply past learnings to new situations.
If you have any tips on how you bring your best self to work or to your day-to-day life in general, I'd love to hear them!
We have been frantically trying to wrap up some big projects before winter arrives. I had high hopes for this summer in terms of our landscaping and I have to say - we did good! We didn't have time to get to the fire pit, but the space will be there waiting for us next year!
Here's a little peek at our landscaping. There was nothing around the house before, so what we did was a huge upgrade!
We also did major work on the trees all around our property. The wind did a number on them last year - tops broke off, full trees fell over, large branches partially fell but were still hanging on...I acquired a fear of wind after awhile...
With the help of a family friend who owns a tree trimming business, Joel and I were able to get everything cleaned up! It was A LOT of work, but everything looks so much nicer.
I had a bit of a hard time losing a few of the trees, but when a tree's dead, it's dead, and it's got to go.
We also had help from my uncle, Joe, who came over and ground all of our stumps for us! My goodness we are so lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who take good care of us.
Joel did most of the work cleaning up the aftermath of the stump grinding, including removal of the final tree we'll cut down this year.
Last weekend, I spent a lot of time cleaning out the gardens. I started tearing out everything except for our strawberries. Those I covered with hay, they'll come back next year.
I had the most fun harvesting our sweet potatoes! They vine out and take up so much space, so I didn't know what to expect. We had a good crop from four plants. Most went to my sister for baby food, but I kept the rest to enjoy myself. I love sweet potatoes!
My hydrangea bush did really well this year and had several blooms left before the frost, so I cut them off to use as decor indoors.
You are supposed to put them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to dry. I chose to hang ours upside down, and so far they're doing really great. They have a beautiful burgundy color and go really well with our decor.
Although I'm really, really going to miss spending time outdoors - especially in my gardens - over the winter, I suppose winter happens for a reason. We all need a chance to hibernate and rest so we can come back as a better, stronger version of ourselves when the snow begins to melt. I'll try my best to welcome this slower pace and take in the beauty of country living in its next season.
I'm a natural leader who has no desire whatsoever to be a leader. Does this sound familiar to you? Tell me I'm not alone.
I've been looked to as a leader all my life. If no one else is stepping up, I will. It's a sickness, really. I can't help myself. Need a President of a council? You got it. Chair of an event? I'm there. Group leader for a project? My spreadsheet is already laid out.
It just happens. Over and over again. But the craziest thing about it is that I don't want to be doing it at all! Playing the leader is something I accept as my fate, not something I seek out. And I get mad at myself about that. I've been given the tools to be a leader. Somewhere in my DNA a leadership gene is embedded in me. There are people out there who would love that type of gift and here I am wanting to drop it from my hands like a hot potato. To me, it feels less like a gift and more like a curse.
I'm happy as a worker bee, flying under the radar, with little weight tied to the tasks I accomplish. I'm not a negotiator or a presenter or a manager of people. I'm a writer and a designer and a manager of projects.
There's no ladder to climb in my 10-year plan. I think that's what bugs me the most about being seen as a leader and not wanting to be one. I'm happy here. As I am. But others see potential in me. They tell me over and over again that I could do it...and that's when I dig my heels in, "yank my hand back," and remind myself that even though I can do it - doesn't mean I have to or should.
To me, it's not worth it. The extra work, planning, dealing with drama, ANXIETY, etc. Not interested.
Dealing with this "issue" has been a continued learning experience for me. But as of late, I've been paying more and more attention to it, trying to figure out how to move forward. In most cases, I land on:
I tear up every single time I read this quote. This is what centering ourselves is all about. We should perform this action not once, but multiple times daily. Constant recentering.
There have been many moments over time when I have asked myself, "How did I get here?" It has felt like I arrived at a particular point in my life without a conscious thought about it. Like I was asleep during the days, months, years that led up to that moment.
When I catch myself thinking this way, I say to myself, "I need to take control. I can't let life get in the way, going through the motions - doing things to avoid conflict, defaulting to what I think I should be doing at this point in my life."
But then my days continue as they always do. Full speed ahead. Making decisions on the fly minute by minute to ensure at the very least my basic needs are being met and I am pointing myself in a direction that is moving toward a state of contentment.
I recently wrote about "following our path." I think in order to do that, the message I'm writing about right now is so very important. It takes strength and persistence and constant recentering to ensure you are staying true to your authentic self. Listening to that inner voice. Avoiding arrival in a moment a year from now wondering how the heck you got there.
I'd love for you to think about this concept and the areas of your life where you can (or should) yank your hand back to remind yourself of what's important - the path you intentionally want to follow.
I'm making it my goal to think hard about this over the weekend and keep this quote in mind as I begin next week. Taking a deep breath and smiling as I literally put my hand on my heart to remind myself who I am, and who I want to be.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I've removed myself from it (RIP Facebook and Twitter accounts). I've stayed in step with it (Hi Instagram and Snapchat accounts). And amid all of this, I've constantly struggled to figure out its relevance and value in my life, fearing that it is a necessary evil I can't fully pull away from.
My mind has gone a lot of different places regarding social media and its role in all of our lives (except for my dad's and grandma's - bless them for staying out of it), but today I want to write about the tricks we let social media play on us.
Our social media accounts are a reflection of our "personal brand." Carefully crafted (whether we realize it or not) profiles that present "who we are" to the world. We endorse what we like, criticize what we don't. Show all that is good, with a little bit of the bad (immediately followed by all that is good - can't show major cracks in the facade). Experiences that make our heart beat fast. Beautiful views. Perfect homes. Yummy food. Smiles, smiles, smiles.
It's hard not to compare yourself and your life to others' after taking in all of the posts and images and videos and stories that reflect "the good stuff" 99% of the time. And it's easy to forget that behind the curated scenes is a person, just like you, with the same ups and downs, messes and misses. They are, again, just like you (if you partake in social media), presenting their personal brand. Sharing a collection of moments, mostly good, to the world in order to add some form of "normalcy" to a life that a lot of times feels out of our control.
I'm beginning to truly appreciate and respect the social media "rebels" that drop the perfect personas and shine a light on what is real. Monotony. Disarray. Tears. Posting images of dirty laundry and stories of struggles takes guts when shared alongside an overwhelming amount of "good news."
I'm not strong enough to be a social media rebel yet, but I thought about it last week. My depression was getting the best of me and I could not. stop. crying. Among the tears, this briefly ran across my mind: "Maybe I should post this. Maybe I should show that I'm human. That sometimes it's hard to be alive. That not every day is good, and that's OK." But I didn't do it. I couldn't. Why? I don't know, I just couldn't. Instead, I made a happy post about happy things.
Although I couldn't find it in myself to do it, you want to know who chose to be a rebel last week? Another person that I follow on social media. Same exact situation. Feeling depressed, tears on overdrive, and she shared it.
All I could think was 1) sending so many hugs to her, because I know what she's going through, and 2) how f***ing brave. It made me like and respect her even more than I already did. There was no veil of happiness. She was being real and in the moment, and as much as I preach that, I wish I could pull the trigger and do it more. In life and on social media.
I'm going to try to more honest with what I post, and I hope you'll do the same. But if that's not something you're into, that's totally OK. Let's see the good in this world and share it. Just don't get stuck comparing yourself to the mirages you scroll through. Remember, with the good always comes some bad, so don't be fooled!
I don't know if it's the increased meditation and added daily reflections, but I've been thinking a lot about a lot lately. Including our "paths" in life.
I catch myself pondering about (and sometimes yearning for) what my life would be like in an alternate universe. Something I think we all do. Daydreaming about "if we could do anything" what that would be. But lately, when I start thinking about what I'd include in my "grass is greener on the other side" scenario, I wonder why I'm not doing the things I'm dreaming about. They're not that unrealistic (I'm not daydreaming about becoming an astronaut, although that would be cool). Why do these desires feel so out of reach and only permissible inside my head?
I know these thoughts exist for a reason, are normal, and aren't necessarily always meant to come true. But what if some of them did? I'm into that part of the thought process right now.
Here's a passage from my daily reflection book that inspired me to take these ponderings even further:
"It is about the true vitality that waits beneath all occupations for us to tap into, if we can discover what we love. If you feel energy and excitement and a sense that life is happening for the first time, you are probably near your God-given nature. Joy in what we do is not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health."
How wonderful is that? Yes. Yes. Yes! Here's where this passage led me: If we pay attention to what shows up in our daydreams, and our dreams align with at least some of the actions (however big or small) we're already performing in life that bring us JOY - there's got to be something to that. When these two things line up - maybe it's a sign to take our actions to the next level. To make our dreams a reality. To follow our path.
This whole concept is so exciting to me. Particularly because this is happening to me right now - the alignment. Some things that were seemingly far fetched dreams at one time are now within reach - not without hard work, sacrifice, and some serious strategizing - but I could get there.
I feel like I watch and read about so many others living out their dreams. They follow their path. Their joy. Take risks, blaze trails, don't care about what others think. It's beautiful and empowering. Their success in doing this proves that it's possible for anyone. So why not me?
If you've been thinking about this, too, and are really wanting to follow a dream or dreams that you have - do it - or at least start taking steps towards them. Don't feel selfish, or insecure, or foolish. Remember this, "Joy in what we do is not an added feature; it is a sign of deep health." Follow your path, nurture your soul.
I talk a lot about being present, being mindful. But a lot of times, that's much easier said than done.
Joel and I have been on opposite schedules lately - job changes, working long hours, a lot of personal commitments - all in addition to adding a new puppy to our family. I could feel myself starting to break down and the consistent calm that I can normally connect to in some way, shape, or form was nowhere in sight.
I let myself get to the point where I was near rock bottom. I know when I'm reaching this point very clearly - I'm angry. Very, very angry. At everyone and everything. And I can't hide it - THAT'S the biggest giveaway.
I'm always the person to say, "If you don't like something, change it." I'm not a complainer and I don't like complainers. So I had to get tough with myself and take my own advice. I had to change something to get myself back on track. I knew I had the tools to dig myself out - I was just allowing everything that was going on and the anger I was feeling to cloud my normally mindful thoughts.
A good outlet for me when I'm feeling this way is to write it out. Sometimes I write everything out feeling by feeling. A lot of times I write out a plan that will get me into a better head space. For me, plans are calming! So that's what I did. Here's what my plan said:
Morning - Rise at 6 a.m.
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less, no teardrops on the pages. Just a plan. A plan incorporating the tools I know I have in my toolbox, so it was a realistic plan for me to run with. I haven't missed a day since I started, and I hope I never do.
Incorporating these practices into my daily schedule have allowed me to feel present in the midst of fast pace surroundings and unpredictable circumstances. I try not to simply look, hear, smell, touch - I aim to see, listen, inhale, feel - be HERE (I share an example of this with the image below). That alone in itself is so important. My thoughts and actions feel more intentional. I feel happier, and lighter, and love myself a little bit more than I did before - which was needed.
What tools do you reach for when you're at a breaking point? What items are part of your routine that keep you grounded? I'd love to know!
I spotted this bright yellow moth on the door of our garage before leaving for work. I was running behind and had already started backing out of the driveway. But I stopped. This brilliant, florescent moth against our red door was just stunning. I took a deep breath, told myself that it was OK to take the time to fully be present in that moment, got out, and took time to enjoy watching the moth warm its wings in the sun. It was peaceful and beautiful. And guess what? The world kept turning while I paused. I don't regret that brief moment of extra time I took to enjoy that moment.
Our family has grown by one member! Meet Homer:
Homer is a one-year-old Australian Terrier that we adopted from the Cedar Bend Humane Society on Friday, August 4. We originally went in intending to get another German Shepherd, Tango, who was a male version of our current shepherd and favorite girl, Madison. But after seeing Homer (previously known as Joker) and taking him outside for a walk, we were immediately smitten! The good news is, Tango got adopted the same exact night so we got to see him going to a new home as we walked out with Homer in our arms.
All I can say is we got LUCKY. So lucky. Madison was our first adoption nine years ago and she was an angel. We feel just as spoiled with Homer. House trained, social, quiet, playful - and get this - he doesn't need to be on a leash. He sticks right by us at all times. He's our new little buddy that we love very much. A little ray of sunshine that we didn't know was missing from our family.
Here's a few more photos of his cuteness since I can't seem to stop taking them...also pictured in a couple shots is our beauty girl, Madison. She's slowly taking to her little brother. Some things just take time!