A place of kindness among the plants

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These days seem like mean times. I miss kindness.

Lately, I was thinking about my first job; at age 17, I was a candy girl at a six-screen movie theater in Minnesota.

Candy girl remains one of my favorite job titles that I have ever had. Genevieve, Candy Girl. I doubt this title remains. These days the job title is probably neutral and reminiscent of a law firm position like Concessions Associate.

In the late 1980s, the local movie theater was a place of clear job division along gender lines. Boys were ushers and they wore terrible brown polyester jackets. Girls were candy girls and wore terrible brown polyester vests.

The jackets and vests hung from a pole. When it was time for my shift, I pulled off a vest and punched in with my manila time card. “Cha-chunk,” went the time stamp as it printed a time in blue ink on the card.

I gained important things from my two years at the movie theater. One was a good friend who is my friend to this day. I am still grateful for all the dollars he loaned me so I could buy a box of Milk Duds.

I could have free popcorn and soda but we had to pay for candy despite my critical position of candy girl. No free candy even for a candy girl. Milk Duds were the cheapest of the expensive movie theater candy and only cost a dollar. Since we were making minimum wage, $3.35 in 1986, twenty minutes of work for a dinner of Milk Duds wasn’t bad.

The manager promoted me to cashier and then assistant manager in the first six months due to my reliable and honest nature. I was free from the rigid polyester prison of the candy girl vest. I could wear oversized glitter neon sweatshirts, acid wash denim miniskirts and suede boots. I no longer had to stay inside a rectangular island made of glass counters. I walked the floor checking on the candy girls and cashiers, then chided the ushers to use the carpet sweeper on all the popcorn bits. I walked upstairs where I threaded six film projectors, looping the film over knobs and adjusting the focus.

Upstairs was quiet except for the clicking of the projectors as giant platters turned. Downstairs was a mob of thousands of people who poured in and out of the theaters about every two hours. Upstairs was the realm of the managers.

Mark was another of the managers. He had a bit of a crook in his posture. Despite being over six feet tall, he had a quiet presence that was easy to overlook. He was quick to smile and had a bit of an overbite. His wispy brown hair fell to his shoulders. Whether it was a holdover from 1970s style or he was permanently overdo for a haircut, I never knew.

He was in his 30s. Most of us staff were teenagers, working part-time for money we would use on clothes (like my acid wash denim miniskirt) or beer, with Wisconsin and its legal drinking age of 18 just over the bridge. Mark worked fulltime and the theater was his job.

It wasn’t his dream. He once told me that he had been in a band. But it hadn’t turned out. He ended up trying to wrangle dozens of teens in brown polyester to do the bidding of movie theater chain executives. He lived in his mother’s basement and had dark circles of disappointment under his eyes.

Most of us staff were merciless toward him. We would never end up in our parent’s basement without fame, money and love. We were better than him, so we thought. We were all going to be bright lights, the stars of our own shows, never to be conquered by ordinary life and bills, cynical audiences and regret.

He had so many targets to be tormented about that there wasn’t even a single topic people focused on. I had stood around and heard the candy girls and ushers make their comments. Some people picked on his overbite. Some picked on his quiet manner. Some picked on his rounded shoulders and imitated his walk as if he was a gorilla. Some picked on his unstyled hair, saying, “I don’t know what year it is. I’m still in the 70s.” Some picked on his odd outfits.

Some coughed “Loser” when he walked by. He always kept his eyes forward as he passed the gauntlet of sour teenagers and made his way to the staircase where he could go upstairs.

I sat in the office, counting tens of thousands of one-dollar bills that we collected from Dollar Night, truly the worst night to work in a theater.

As the granddaughter and the daughter of engineers, I have a great fondness toward smart, slightly awkward men. He must have sensed my kind view toward him because as we worked together, I became a trusted colleague.

Mark was colorblind. He picked out outfits that clashed terribly but they looked good to his eye. After he learned he could trust me, the first thing he did was ask how his outfit looked. I said mint green, pink and brown don’t go together so well and suggested a change of dress shirt. He started to bring in extra shirts in case his first choice was wrong.

I didn’t make fun of Mark, but I didn’t put a stop to it. I heard the teasing. I felt sorry for him and I thought it was mean what was going on.

But I didn’t put a stop to it.

One evening Mark told me that he was quitting.

“I’m going to work with plants in a greenhouse,” he said. “I don’t know how to deal with people. I don’t know why they are always so mean to me. I try to be nice but they treat me like I’m stupid. You’re the only one who hasn’t made fun of me.”

There was no farewell party. He left and someone else became one of the managers who chided the ushers to use the sweeper more. Someone else threaded the projectors and counted the thousands of one-dollar bills.

I left the theater and went on to many interesting jobs. It’s been 30 years since I worked with Mark.

Lately I have been thinking of him. I have been feeling like I understood him and what he said. Not knowing how to deal with people and not understanding why people can get so mean.

I think of him now. I hope that he found a place where he was respected, even though he wasn’t exceptional, only an awkward failed musician trying to get along the best he knew how.

I hope he found a place where he was accepted. A place of kindness among the plants.

It’s what I pray for all of us.

 

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New room, new year

I love to have plenty of light, green nature and living things around me to feel well, especially in winter. Inspired by the idea of greenhouses, I took my Christmas money and rearranged half of my bedroom to become a sanctuary. Here’s how I did it!

It started with a plan. I drew something in my journal with my dream for the space.

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Before picture

Since we live in a singlewide trailer with 1,000 sq. ft. for three adults, clutter is a constant issue. Our bedroom had recently become more “storage shed” than inviting space. I was motivated to make a change!

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My first step was to clear the clutter, move out the tall bookcases into the living room and put away the horse tack in the closet. It’s too cold to do much with the horses in winter other than spoil them with carrots.

Then I picked up a sale rug for $20 from the hardware store to define the space.

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Lighting

My next step was lighting. I wanted the room to be magical at night as well as bright from natural light during the day.

I got some twinkle lights on sale after Christmas.

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I also got some twinkle lights for my beloved snake plant and some crackle glass lights for the wall over where my chair would go.

New plants

I stopped by the store to pick up some new plants. I wanted a nice variety of colors, leaves and types. From my friend Tami, I recently learned than many of my plants are air purifiers so we will have the added benefit of cleaner air.

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Some fun air plants!

 

A fuzzy Panda plant.

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Furniture

I picked up a chair and ottoman on sale because they were the floor models. My husband, Logan, had the brilliant idea to add a mirror so the greenhouse effect is extended. The mirror also have the benefit of adding more light.

Here it is with the new chair and ottoman. The ottoman can store an afghan inside.

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Care of the plants

I made a notebook of care for each of the plants so I know what everyone likes. The book in the photo is from the 1970s. I got it from my sister-in-law, Lisa, in 1990 when I got my very first plant, the snake plant you see in the photos. This plant been going strong for 27 years!

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For the plants that like to be misted, I added a piece of blue tape so they are easy to identify.

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Enjoying my “greenhouse”

After our friends Justin, Laura and David were kind enough to deliver the chair for us, the last step was to start enjoying the space.

This was me the moment I first tried sitting in my new chair in my new space. Of course the pups had to join me. Happiness!

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Now I have a reading nook, a place to write, a prayer space, a greenhouse to putter in and a welcoming room for a cup of tea with a friend. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of my new room.

My sister Laura always talks about getting the essence of a desire. I wasn’t able to build a new greenhouse, but I could remake part of a room. If this project shows anything, it shows that it’s not what we have, but what we do with what we have. If I can make my dream come true in a singlewide trailer on a very limited budget, you can make your space match your dream wherever you are and whatever your dream is. God bless you in the coming year! May it bring you much healing, happiness and peace. ❤️

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Thank you to all the people, animals and pets who help make this space so inviting!

 

 

 

 

Why I am thankful: a look back to 1986

Pixie grazing

Thanksgiving 1986

Snow flurries drifted down.

I woke up alone in a four-bedroom house. It had never been a home. I had only lived there 13 months.

The house was going to be sold and the proceeds divided however the divorce court decreed my parents should split them.

I peered in the fridge for some breakfast. A plastic gallon container had only enough milk to cover the bottom. I poured it over some stale raisin bran flakes.

I crunched the mostly dry cereal.

I put on jeans, a sweater, a hat, mittens and my coat, a wool Russian military jacket I found in
a used clothing store in Minneapolis.

I had nowhere to go. I walked the streets of the subdivision. The houses had packs of cars parked in front of them. Inside bodies moved across the yellow lights shining out. Blue TVs flashed and every so often I could hear the murmur of crowds from inside the houses. Families filled the homes.

I had no family like that. I had no home like that.

I walked on.

I walked past the gas station, closed on the holiday. It had a vending machine for bait. “How Minnesotan,” I thought.

The grey sky drooped over me. I walked along the frozen lake. Snow twisted and untwisted in swirls from the wind gusts.

“I will always be alone,” I thought.

 

Thanksgiving week 2016

The light spread long warmth over the field. I grabbed my camera, a combined surprise gift from friends on my 40th birthday.

“I’m going out to get some pictures,” I told my family.

I sat in the pasture and the pony came close to me to graze the still-green grass. It had been a warm fall.

Out of all the acreage, she chose to be close to me.

She had been starving when she was rescued. The horses in the herd with her had died. But she survived. The people at Longmeadow brought her back to health. Then we adopted her, skittish and shy though she was.

Over the past five years with us, her friendly, confident self bloomed.

I sat with her and listened to her eat. The sun set.

I came inside, inside my home with my husband and son.

My son helped me pick the best photos and edit them.

 

I am thankful for my home.

I am thankful for my memories of no home because now I know what I have.

I am thankful for my family.

I am thankful for my memories of being alone because now I know what I have.

I am thankful that ponies can forgive and learn to love.

I am thankful that people can forgive and learn to love.

I am thankful for today.

I am thankful for today.

 

Wherever you are, may you know the presence of God and feel the peace that transcends understanding. I wish you a Thanksgiving full of enough to eat and a heart full of hope!

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Pixie grazing

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Pixing grazing

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The end of a scarf of many colors

This fall has been full of fun for my family and me.

My son, Derek, enjoys his first semester as a freshman at Mizzou. We love seeing his excitement about what he is learning.

Logan likes his new job at Bioengineering. He always has stories about the incredible research happening in his department. Fascinating stuff!

I had the good luck of participating in a national conference called HighEdWeb where I saw Dave Cameron teach a workshop about productivity. He discussed how undone things in your life are mentally draining. It’s important to close the loops.

Me? Make to-do lists that are impossible to get done in a reasonable time span? Start projects and not finish them? (See my previous blog posts on life-changing magic! Two months since I started, I still have rooms that need the life-changing magic of tidying up. But I see visible progress.)

I can say with full confidence that I do finish every cup of tea I start. At least there’s that!

After the inspiring workshop with Dave, I was motivated to come home and work on finishing my unfinished things.

Such as my scrap scarf. I finished crocheting this scarf months ago. But those ends… I do not like to sew in ends!

I committed to getting my scrap scarf done, my poor colorful scarf that has sat curled in neglect next to the couch since March.

It took me two hours with a needle to sew in 140 stubby yarn ends. But I finished it! Now I can look forward to feeling mentally more energetic.

I wore the scarf this week in the evening after a storm. The light was weird. The reds of the trees glowed. This photo that my son Derek took has no editing and no filter.

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Now I’m at the start of NaNoWriMo, where people work to write 50,000 words in one month. Thanks to a lot of Darjeeling tea, I am 7,000 words in. Only 43,000 more to go…

It’s a third attempt at my memoir (putting me in the rebel category because it’s not a novel). So far my writing surprises me, as it always does. The stories wait inside and want to see the light of day, or the white of the page. The stories are uncomfortable. They’re strange. They are not the pretty, funny, sweet stories I think they should be. They are not well behaved.

But this time I want to be strong, strong enough to write the real stories that need to be told. I hope someone will read them and accept me as I am. Maybe I am a scrap scarf that needs my ends sewn in, and writing this memoir will tidy up those ends.

As I look back on my past, I can see how lucky I am now. Good things are happening! I celebrate this happy, healthy fall and hope you too are enjoying the light. Hug your friends with an extra squeeze! God bless you.

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Faith in the process of decluttering

One closet.

Two hundred plus journals.

Three big bins of memories.

If you’ve kept up with the Life of Gen, you’ll know that we last left our hero with a beautiful closet but a Very Cluttered Bedroom.

I managed to give away an entire carful of goodness to the Moberly Goodwill. Thank you, Moberly Goodwill person, for graciously accepting an odd assortment of items including: a leather laceup bodice from Castro Street in San Francisco, ten photo frames, a duck basket I originally got from the Goodwill in St. Paul and a 20-year-old plant stand.

Our trash collector was also kind enough to accept the extra trashcan full of items such as my wedding dress, broken hangers, my old paintings from when I painted along with the Jerry Yarnell show on PBS, my high school yearbook and muck boots with a hole in them.

Nothing nastier than mucking out a pony pen with holey boots!

In her decluttering book, Marie Kondo mentions that good fortune comes after we make space in our lives. After an experience this weekend, I believe it.

Letting go of my muck boots was hard. They were from my favorite brand. I have used these boots—my trusty horse care companions—for almost 10 years. Because it’s time to buy hay for the winter, I don’t have the money now to get new ones to replace the old. But it was time to let go. I threw the holey muck boots away.

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Happiness is a barn full of hay (and a husband and son who helped stack it–thanks!)

After I give my donations to Goodwill, we stopped inside to see if there was anything interesting. What do you think I found there?

Hardly used muck boots in my size, for a quarter the cost of brand-new ones. I grabbed them and made them mine.

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My new-to-me boots!

Like cleaning out the old hay to make room for the new, I still need to go through my three bins of memorabilia and make room for new memories.

Letting go of the old is a hard process. It is hard to trust that what we need will be there. But it will be.

I will keep on surrounding myself with items that bring me joy, like fresh hay and almost-new boots.

Keep on enjoying life and trusting that God will take care of you. He will!

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God bless you, friends! ❤❤❤

My closet is beautiful

My bedroom is not.

I’m in the middle of organizing the house using the KonMarie method. If you haven’t read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, the essence of her method is simple.

  1. Touch each item.
  2. Does it give you joy? Keep it.
  3. No joy? Toss.

Wonderfully easy in concept.

Incredibly time-consuming in practice.

I own thousands of items. I’m on week three of trying to touch each item I own. I’m not even close to halfway done.

Have you ever taken a suitcase and overfilled it? Then added a little more stuff and sat on the lid to get it zipped close? That is what I did with my closet over the past 16 years.

I only dared to open the door a crack to prevent all the stuff from tumbling out and knocking me over like a stuff tsunami.

Last weekend I decided I would work on the closet as part of the tidying order. I’m in the komono (miscellany) section. I steeled my nerves and drank pure espresso to get energized enough to attempt this kind of life-changing magic.

I took everything out of the closet. It took hours.

An hour in, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. I endured. I schlepped out boxes of wires, photos, baby clothes (my son is 19), enough coats to cover a small foreign army and bank statements from the 1990s.

The bank statements are especially curious because we moved into the house in 2000. This means I moved old bank statements into the house.

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Somehow I got everything out of the closet.

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I viewed the stuff stacked in the bedroom. I was shocked to see how much stuff I had packed in that small closet!

This weekend is the “touch each item stranded in the bedroom now and decide if it brings me joy” project.

Is there hope for me? Or has my bedroom turned into a storage shed forever? Will I be over-caffeinated in my attempts?

Stay tuned ‘til next week!

 

 

The day I had perfect hair

Do you recognize perfection in yourself?

Do you have someone you could call to come over who would celebrate that perfection?

In the 1980s, it was clear how we were supposed to look. Two words: big hair.

It didn’t matter if you were a girl or a guy. Big hair ruled.

Purple super-hold Aqua Net hairspray made it possible.

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Gotta be the purple can.

My hair routine went like this:

  • spray hair,
  • curl hair,
  • brush hair and
  • finish with a final spray.
  • Put a small travel can of hair spray in my purse for freshening during recess.

One day in the summer of 1983, the stars aligned. It was more than a good hair day.

I picked up the phone in the kitchen that had a curly cord and dialed my friend. Of course I had all my friends’ phone numbers memorized.

“Ali, I need you to come over and take a picture. My hair is perfect,” I said.

She jumped on her 10-speed and rode down. She agreed my hair was perfect.

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Kodak disc camera. Photo by D. Meyer.

I handed her my disc camera so she could take my picture.

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The day my hair was perfect

I couldn’t wait to get see my perfect hair preserved for all time. But I had to. It was the 80s, decades before digital selfies.

Next time we went to the grocery store, we filled out the envelope and dropped off the photos to get developed.

How we look matters less than how we feel about it. I work on a college campus and every day I’m surrounded by people at the height of their health and attractiveness. Yet they don’t seem to see themselves.

I recently read how college students are less empathetic than ever and how devices are changing the quality of friendships. I feel for young women now, growing up on social media under scrutiny in a competitive environment of looks.

I hope women everywhere have the experience of feeling perfect and the chance to invite over a friend who agrees.

If you need some help for your perfect hair day, here’s my tip. Pick up the biggest can of Aqua Net you can find.

Life is short but perfect hair is possible! It’s up to you to make the call.

Call yourself beautiful and surround yourself with people who see that too. ❤❤❤

God bless you today and always!

 

My new favorite breakfast: Swiss Birchermuesli (with recipe)

Bern rooftops

We went to Europe for two and a half weeks in June. What a magical time! We saw mountains, ate incredible food including the famous Swiss chocolate and exceptional dairy products, and had a fantastic time laughing while traveling with family. A sense of humor is the best thing to bring on a trip!

One of my favorite breakfasts in Switzerland was Birchermuesli, invented by Dr. Bircher-Benner around 1900 as a way to increase fresh fruit and raw foods in the diet.

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Enjoying Birchermuesli at Hotel Kreuz Bern

I tried Birchermuesli at five different towns in Switzerland. They were all a little different. My favorite Birchermuesli was in Hotel Kreuz Bern. I loved this hotel because of the rooftop terrace and the 24-hour tea room. What? Tea for free 24 hours a day! How could I not love it!

Since I have returned, I have been making Birchermuesli for breakfast. Here’s my recipe.

Birchermuesli, Gen-style (not authentic Swiss)

blueberries on Birchermuesli1 cup old-fashioned oats
Apple juice
Apple cider vinegar
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries)
Coconut
Nuts
Yogurt
Fresh fruit (apple & blueberries are my favorite)

Soak 1 cup of oats with as much apple juice as necessary and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar is optional. I use it because it *might* have miraculous qualities. I have heard apple cider vinegar does everything from making your hair shiny to repairing bridges (not quite) so I figure it can’t hurt.

Let the oats soak for at least 10 minutes. You can cut up your apple and feed your dogs while you are waiting. Don’t have dogs? Some little Chihuahua needs a home. Adopt a dog and you will never be lonely again. You might be annoyed because you are constantly walking, feeding, cleaning up after and entertaining a small, energetic creature, but hey, at least you’re not bored.

I like to cut up my apples into tiny bites, about a quarter-inch square. I recommend an apple with some crisp character: Granny Smith, Honey Crisp or Gala.

Then I stir in the apple, coconut, nuts, dried fruit and yogurt.

What kind of yogurt? Your choice! I use what I have. Might be Fage Greek, might be Yoplait mixed berry (a classic from my childhood when I don’t want the heavy intensity of Greek yogurt), might be Aldi regular vanilla (which tastes a lot like Brown Cow to me).

If you use an unsweetened yogurt and you want your Birchermuesli sweet, now is the time to add some honey or brown sugar.

Don’t like coconut or nuts? You could leave them out. I won’t judge. I personally like a lot of nuts: chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts. Brain food!

Last I put the blueberries on top. Fresh peaches would also be an excellent choice. In Switzerland, I saw people put canned pears on top as well.

I don’t have a lot of vices (save for tea, but is that a vice, really?) so sometimes I like to go a little wild and add a dash of half and half. It makes it richer.

I love Birchermuesli as a light, energizing breakfast. It brings a little of Europe back to me every morning.

If you try it, let me know how you like it!

God bless you this week!

More food we enjoyed in Europe

Car Monastery

Spring is busy! In the midst of a busy time, I seek moments for feeding my spirit.

What’s been keeping me busy? Our new puppy Mufasa, who was in the local paper. I’ve been writing: I wrote 10,000 words in April for my memoir. I’ll be part of the Mizzou Campus Author’s Event on May 17, Jesse Hall.

We’re getting ready for a milestone celebration. My son will graduate May 22 and attend Mizzou this fall.

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We blessed and celebrated our high school seniors at Broadway Christian Church April 24. Pastor Nick and Kahlea gave each graduate a prayer journal and a phone battery charger (to remind them to “plug into the Holy Spirit” and get energized!)

 

Beyond the keyboard, my fingers have been flying getting my final crochet projects ready for the annual art show. I invite you to come to the MU Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase Grand Opening May 24 from noon to 1 p.m., Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union.

I have to find my spirituality in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Car Monastery

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We live in the country and commute to work. We’re in the car 12+ hours a week.

I don’t have time to go away to a fabulous monastery in the mountains so my retreat looks like the inside of 1998 Toyota Camry (grey with a few coffee stains). I’ve written about how the structure of a spiritually centered life appeals to me in Nun vs. Couch Lady. Our commute time is perfect for reminding us why we’re here (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

We have three parts to our morning spiritual practice.

My husband and I exchange three things that we’re grateful for. Sometimes they are simple, such as “sunlight, hot coffee and silly animals.” Sometimes they are deep, “our health, scholarships for our son and 20 years of marriage together.”

The temptation to dwell on “Woe is me” lurks constantly. It would be easy to get dragged down by a $1,300 car repair bill or the broken clothes dryer (air-dried towels are very crunchy). I have to fight envy. The habit of looking for blessings keeps us buoyant.

We sing a song together. We sing the same song. Some days we rasp it out, some days we succeed in harmony. It doesn’t matter. We just need to sing.

I read a daily devotional out loud while he drives. We hear stories from believers from all over the world and we have a new prayer focus every morning.

These practices don’t take much time, but they start our day off with an attitude of thankfulness and faith.

A side effect of time in our car monastery? I feel happier in spite of crunchy towels.

What can you add as a reminder to sing, give thanks and pray inside the edges of your own busy schedule?

May this week bring you unexpected blessings and sweet moments of connection! ❤

 

National Puppy Day

IMG_20160309_195316Yesterday was National Puppy Day.

It was the best National Puppy Day ever for me, because I have a puppy!

I’ve had the puppy for about a month.

In January after we lost our beloved dog, Mercy, I wanted a puppy so much that I couldn’t think about anything else.

My husband said, “I think a puppy might overwhelm us. Maybe we should wait until summer after D [our son] graduates.”

I scoffed. How could one puppy overwhelm us?

All we have to do is work full-time, commute, get our son though the last months of high school and take care of our other 6 animals.

What would be overwhelming about a puppy, especially a tiny Chihuahua mixed breed puppy?

What’s fun about puppies

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Here’s what’s fun about puppies! They are small, untrained dogs! So they have all the needs of dogs with some bonus aspects.

Such as, you get to teach them housebreaking. I know why it’s called housebreaking. Because your back breaks cleaning up the house.

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Our new little guy is named Mufasa. He’s got an incredible story that I’ve told you about. We are crazy for him.

He seems to be crazy for us. And sometimes, just crazy!

We live in a single-wide trailer, 15 feet wide and 65 feet long. For those of you unfamiliar with today’s modern mobile home lifestyle, it means our home is skinny enough to go down the highway. It is long like a bowling alley.

Mufasa likes to go to the far end, turn around and then run as fast as dogly possible through the length of the house and bounce off the couch so he flies. Then he goes again.

As you can visualize, this is wildly entertaining. So entertaining, that it makes watching a movie difficult.

We’ve given up watching our Netflix and now we watch Mufasa.

Sometimes I like to quote my husband back to him in these moments, “Remember how you said, ‘I think a puppy might overwhelm us.’ And then I said, ‘I don’t think a puppy would overwhelm us.’”

More fun puppy facts

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Another amusing fun fact about puppies is that they teeth just like babies. Except somehow I don’t remember going through as many chew toys with my son!

I’m not surprised that Mufasa struggles to understand the difference between what is his for chewing and what is ours. Ours, for not chewing. If you had itchy teeth and you had to choose between a soft leather shoe and a knobby plastic fish that is “scent-infused with salmon,” what would you pick? So I don’t blame him one bit.

He did choose the one pair of shoes that didn’t belong to us. They belonged to my son’s new girlfriend. So we went shoe-shopping this weekend.

The incredible toy box of Mr. Mufasa

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Sticks: classic toy

We have a huge selection of dog toys. I even have a toy box I put them in. We have a soft rabbit, a crinkly baboon, a rainbow worm, a salmon-scented knobby plastic fish that looks so vaguely obscene from a distance I usually crop it out in photos (if you really want to see it, I included it in the photoshow below), two rubber Kongs, a grey mouse, a red rubber toy, something Himalayan made from yak’s milk and two knotted ropes.

Every evening, I put the toy box down for Mufasa. He puts his whole head in and shakes it around in the toys. He can’t believe his luck. We like to run a small family gambling ring on which he will choose first. I often win with my baboon bet. But knobby fish and Himalayan yak milk stick make a strong showing.

We went to the store yesterday to buy more kibble. We bought five-star food, because it’s Mufasa. My husband said, “Do you realize we spent more on the animals’ food than on our own groceries this week?”

We got home and I fixed dinner for all of us. I snuck some chicken from our people dinner into the dogs’ bowls, because it was National Puppy Day.

But if you’ve learned anything about me, you know I celebrate National Puppy Day every day!