welcome ... enjoy yourself

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

fall in love

I painted this for Paul for our first Christmas together.  The painting hangs on the door to our room and reminds me of when we had to travel 2000 miles across the country to visit each other.  We both knew we had something special when we first started dating and were both willing to put in what it took to make our relationship work, though it was certainly not easy at times.  The "Fall in Love" phrase is based off a poem/prayer attributed to Pedro Arrupe that means a lot to both of us: 

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Tonight Paul and I were talking with one of our roommates about our decision to get married.  Before getting engaged, I remember feeling scared and playing all kinds of "what if" games with myself.  When I finally just let go of the fear and trusted my gut, my decision to marry Paul was one of the easiest of my life.  So grateful we fell in love and so glad to have this painting as a reminder of how far we've come.  Also love being a gross, sappy newlywed...

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

trip to denver

Sometimes life is so good, it doesn't take any effort at all to find the joy.  This weekend, Paul and I went to the wedding of one of his Jesuit Volunteer Corps roommates in Denver.  She and her new husband are so down to earth, and the wedding was a great celebration of who they are as a couple.  The wedding weekend was also a mini Jesuit Volunteer Corps reunion as former Jesuit Volunteers traveled from around the country to celebrate with the happy couple.  Reunions with old friends may be one of my favorite things.  You remember how much you have in common, you catch up and reminisce, and laughing comes so easily.

The weekend flew by but we managed to sneak in a visit to one of the coolest places in the country: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. The concert venue was built in the middle of a group of beautiful, HUGE red rocks.  With amazing natural acoustics, Red Rocks has featured top name acts (and movies!) for over seventy years.  We didn't get to see a concert, but we did take in the sites and got some soft serve ice cream at the visitor center.

We actually saw not one, but two national sites on our trip.  We drove up to Lookout Mountain to find a nature center, but then saw a sign for Buffalo Bill's grave site and decided to check it out instead.  I know almost nothing about Buffalo Bill and visiting his grave site was not exactly on my 101 in 1001 list, but since we were there we figured "why not?"  It was one of those places that I would never purposefully visit but appreciate for its potential to make an interesting memory.  This place fit the bill. 

We had an excellent time in Denver, and I am feeling the tiredness that comes from a jam packed three day weekend.  I love that Paul and I have the means and opportunity to take these trips.  Being from different parts of the country and having moved around a lot since college, we know people all over and love to spend time with them.  But it's bittersweet.  Seeing friends and family fills us up and feels like home, but it's so hard to say goodbye not knowing when you'll see each other again.  Learning how to maintain relationships with family and friends across great distances is a challenge for us, but we do our best and budget for lots of plane tickets.  We're so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives, it's worth the work to keep them in our lives.  

Have you taken any good trips this summer?  How do you keep up with friends and family who live far away?

Friday, July 27, 2012

run/walk for the hungry

Last night our community participated in the Capuchin Run/Walk for the Hungry.  Each year, the Capuchins host the run/walk as a fundraiser for two great programs: St. Ben's Community Meal Program and the House of Peace.  St. Ben's serves meals to the chronically hungry, and the House of Peace has been providing services to the poor in Milwaukee since 1968.  I loved the youtube advertisements for the event which included Capuchin friars running in their robes to Germanfest.  The event was nicely sized for a Thursday evening run at just under 3000 people.  Highlights included: having a break in the heat, having a pretty good running time, a course that went right by the art museum and the lake, and getting a free ticket into Germanfest!  We listened to some German music, and I got a free apple wine.  TASTY-TASTY.

A few years ago, I never would have signed up for the running portion of an event.  I used to hate running because I thought I was physically unable to do it.  That was before I learned about the magic of pacing.  Instead of running as fast as I could for a short time, I started running at a comfortable pace for longer and longer distances.  I completed my first 5K after training for a whole summer with my roommates from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  Crossing the finish line for the first time with my JVC roommates felt like we were accomplishing something huge both physically and emotionally.  The Run/Walk for the Hungry was my 4th 5K race, and I felt so confident!  Every time I run now I think, "if I can do this, something I thought I could never do, what else am I capable of accomplishing?"  What other "I could never do that" thing could I be doing now?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

corrine bailey rae

You are almost to the weekend.  To celebrate, here's one of my favorite songs from Corrine Bailey Rae: Paris Nights and New York Mornings.  It makes me want to travel, want to have a crazy date night, and want to dance all at once.  Also: makes me want that dress!  Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

my magnifying glass

I started this blog because I wanted to foster a new attitude and a new perspective.  I had been feeling so unsatisfied with my life, like I was stuck in a rut.  I needed a change, but I wasn't sure what.  I read a page in this SARK book a few days ago, and It captured what I think led to my rut: I had been collapsing into the downward negativity spiral. I had gotten into a habit of focusing on everything in my life that was wrong.  And it was causing me to miss all the small, beautiful things that were happening everyday.  

Writing this blog has been like using a magnifying glass on the good parts of my life.  Posting about things that bring me joy hasn't made frustrating or worrisome things go away -- I'm still losing my job -- but putting the spotlight on the positive has made me so much happier.  Nothing in my life has changed since I started my blog except my attitude, and I've already noticed a change in my appreciation for my life.  
One of my ongoing fears is that I'll keep looking back at periods of my life thinking "I didn't know how good I had it.  Why didn't I appreciate what I had?"  I want to make it a life long habit to do my best to appreciate the people, the everyday moments, the places that make up TODAY.  Finding Joy in All Things = my personal magnifying glass for all that is good in my life.   

What's good in your life today?  (If you can't think of anything, pick up a SARK book.  She's sure to inspire.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

downtown library

One of my favorite parts of working downtown is walking to the Central Library to pick up new books on my lunch break.  I usually follow it up with a visit to Jimmy Johns to grab a #6, BBQ chips, and a root beer and to read said books.  

Though I'm sure there's probably an underfunded, uninspiring library in some sad downtown, I've yet to visit a downtown library that didn't have a sense of wonder about it.  The libraries I've visited combine three of my favorite things: books, free things, and beautiful architecture.  I could get lost for hours in these places.  Few things trump my love for a good book or a good library.  

What's your favorite library?

Monday, July 23, 2012

writing wedding thank yous

Six and a half months after our big day, our wedding thank yous are finally complete!  Yikes....and yippee!!  

We had SUCH a wonderful wedding.  I was blown away by everyone's generosity and joy for us.  People flew in from all over the country to celebrate, made donations in our names to a few of our favorite organizations (theJesuit Volunteer Corps and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), bought things off our Ten Thousand Villages registry when it was finicky, fulfilled most of our Macy's registry, and helped us have a beautiful, magical day.  I don't know if I've ever felt luckier or more loved.   

I am an excellent procrastinator AND a perfectionist which can lead to terrible results (like sending thank yous six months after an event).  After having such a great day, I wanted to write the perfect thank you messages to all of our guests.  But how can you put into words what your closest family and friends mean to you on a small 3 x 5 card?  After 6 months, I decided people would rather have a good thank you than a perfect thank you, and the thank you notes are now written and ready to send out!   Feeling very happy to have the thank yous written so we can offically recognize our wedding guessts, and so I can move on to that other wedding task I've been procrastinating -- printing pictures!  

P.S. A word of advice to anyone currently planning a wedding -- buy your thank you cards when you're tackling all of your other wedding tasks. One less thing to think about when you enter your post-wedding hangover.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

paper cranes

I was in a paper crane making mood this weekend.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry, you'll know the paper crane making mood when it strikes. 

I had felt inspired to make a paper crane chain after seeing several beautiful chains at my acupuncture studio.  I decided to make my own version and bought several packs of interesting paper at the craft store.  Since I hadn't made any origami since about the 6th grade, I brushed up on my crane making skills by watching this tutorial.  I finished about 12 of them last night while watching Iron Man 2 with Paul (yeah hot date nights!).  I really liked the result and am trying to find a good place to hang them in our community space.  I'll post a picture of the finished product.  

Creating new and beautiful things brings me so much joy.  When I start to feel in an emotional rut, I can usually trace it back to a lack of creating, painting, or building.  I feel that I come alive when I'm bringing something new into the world, maybe because creating is such an intrinsic part of being human.  

What are your favorite creative endeavors?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

cheesy ricotta fruit pie

I found the simplest recipe for a ricotta fruit pie at A Beautiful Mess, my new favorite blog.  I've made the pie twice in the past three days (I've never been one for moderation when it comes to dessert).  The first time I made it with raspberries, the second time with seasonal cherries.  Loved both version.  Its not your typical cheesecake, but also not quite a pie; its somewhere in between.  I loved the flavor combined with the fresh fruit and will keep baking it because of how easy it is to make (about 5 minutes of preparation for 7/10 points on the tasty scale).  

Mix 10 oz ricotta cheese with two eggs, one tablespoon of white sugar, one tablespoon of brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Bake the pie crust alone for 8 minutes.  Pour the ricotta mix in the pie crust and add cherries, raspberries or other delicious fresh fruit to the top of the soon to be pie/cake.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40-42 minutes.  I let the pie completely cool, refrigerated it overnight, then devoured it the next day.  YUM.

Friday, July 20, 2012

today i'm thankful for

Paul taking Pedro out for me this morning and offering to make me breakfast ...  Coordinating showers with roommates to make sure everyone got to work on time ... Oatmeal square cereal for breakfast ...  A break in the heat ...  Rain ....   Living by Lake Michigan  ...  Cheesy cakey fruit pie (recipe coming tomorrow!)  ...  Encouraging emails from my mom ...  Starting the job application process ...  Outdoor summer potlucks ...  CSA vegetables  ... My camera ...  Working within walking distance of the downtown library ...  Running at my lunch break .... Endorphins ...  Sympathetic coworkers ... Seasonal fruit  .... YUM  ... Whoever is reading this post -- so thankful for you!   Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Paul and I bought a cribbage board a few weeks ago for simple date night entertainment.  Cribbage sounded like a boring card game to me, but Paul seemed to think it was a good idea so I decided to give it a try. 

Turns out cribbage is actually pretty fun.  The game is 400 years old and was invented in a bar (truly, a game for me).  Its a pretty easy to learn and it also travels well.  We were able to teach ourselves how to play in about twenty minutes by reading the instructions and doing a little online searching (yay us!).  If you've never played and you want to start, I recommend reading the included instructions thoroughly and then watching some online tutorials.  I liked this one and this one.  You can also check out the American Cribbage Conference (yes, there is a conference).  The goal is to get as many points as possible on each hand, and you use the board for scoring.    

Playing card games has been a nice change of pace from our usual date nights.  The other night we played in bed in our pajamas while listening to good music.  Then we played a few days later at our church picnic while sipping pink lemonade vodka drinks.  Love these special moments.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

moonrise kingdom

I have a slight obsession with Wes Anderson movies.  The cinematography, the quirky characters, the colors, the soundtracks -- I just love them.  I saw his most recent movie, Moonrise Kingdom, a few weeks ago with Paul. This movie is now tied for my favorite Wes Anderson movie along with Royal Tenanbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Moonrise Kingdom feels like a young adult adventure book come to life, in complete Wes Anderson style.  

When the heroine runs away from home, she brings a suitcase full of books with her that she stole from the town library.  She scores points for running away in true book-lover style. The audience gets a peek at the books as the heroine reads them throughout the film.  Wes Anderson hired a few animators to bring the books to life, and you can watch the clip narrated by the film's librarian/narrator.   

They remind me of books I loved to read when I was 12, and books I still love to read when I pretend I'm 12.   

Paul and I may be basing our Halloween costumes off of this movie.  Maybe.  And it may be because the costumes can can have a dog tied in to them.  Maybe.  Take a wild guess as to who we will be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

our community

Last year, my husband and I started an intentional community.  Why did we decide to live with other people in our first year of marriage?  Two reasons: 1) we're crazy and 2) the right opportunity came along.

Paul and I met while we were in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), a Catholic year-long service program that allows young people to work full time at agencies in the U.S. and abroad while living in community with other program participants.  The four main values of the program are simple living, social justice, spirituality, and community.  The program had a huge impact on both our lives, and we both felt called to live in community again. 

So when an apartment space opened up across the street from our church, we put in lots of work, came up with a name (Casey Sister-Brotherhood) and invited a few other folks to live in community with us.  We share meals, have community nights about once a week, attend mass together, support one another in our vocations, and generally challenge one another to be better people. 

What does it mean to live intentionally in community?  Now that's a loaded question.  People have written entire theses on this topic, but I'll summarize it in two short sentences.  It differs from a typical roommate situation in that you may be living with strangers and that you have a stronger commitment to one another to deepen relationships and to work through conflict together.  In a very isolated and individualistic society, living in community helps us to focus on what is really important and to live out the values we learned about in JVC. 

I have been more challenged in the past year than I ever imagined.  Paul and I have had to continually recommit ourselves to this communal living experiment and have gained so much in the process.  I have learned about reconciliation, conflict resolution, how to be more honest about my feelings, and how to work through personal differences to create something very special.  So thankful we decided to take this risk together.  

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

succulent joy

I bought this lovely little plant at the farmers' market this weekend.  I've never owned a succulent before, but I'm totally drawn to their beauty.  And to the small amount of watering they require.  Plants do so much to brighten up my day.  

Happy Monday!

joy in job loss

With recent state and federal budget cuts, the organization I work for will have to lay off a number of people by the first of the year.  I had a different post planned to go with this picture (of a vase and flowers in my work office), but with learning that I will most likely be losing my job, my post topic has changed. 

I shared my blog with one of my coworkers, and she asked me how I could find joy in this situation.  Tada!  My first finding joy challenge!  And its a tough one.

I have been so happy with the organization I work for.  I love my coworkers, I love my office, I love my commute to work (a mile and a half walk), I love working downtown, I love my independence, and my actual work has been satisfying and allows me to help improve the lives of others.  Where is the joy in having to leave a place that I have been happy? 

A phrase I really like has been coming to mind: "we wait in joyful hope."  Right now, I see my forced job change as an opportunity to move out of my comfort zone and to tackle a new challenge.  I'm waiting in joyful hope that I will find another job that will be a good fit and will feel like home the way my current job has.  The joy in my job loss is the hope that a new adventure awaits me. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

farmers' market flowers

Farmers' markets make me so happy.  I love all the colors, the beautiful vegetables, the different vendors, and of course, the flowers.  I have a favorite flower vendor at the market I go to on Wednesdays.  She has pre-made bouquets, but she'll let you design your own if you see something that catches your eye.  For $3 I can get a bouquet that brightens up my office for the rest of the week.  I chose the red, yellow, and pink snap dragons.  Gorgeoso! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

kishi bashi

Paul sent me a link to this song yesterday.  Paul has been discerning lately what he wants to do with life.  He's got the general idea, but he may be changing some of the specifics that he thought he already had figured out.  When he sent me this song, I knew he was feeling better and had a sense that everything was going to be ok.  Its the type of memory that you forget once everything has been worked out and is in all in place; its easy to forget the little steps from the journey that brought you to where you are.  Yay for finding joy on the journey! 

Promise this song by Kishi Bashi will have your shoulders bouncing, your hips swaying, and your lovely lips smiling.  While you're dancing, listen for the idioms (i.e. "break a leg" at 2:51) in the song. Apparently there's over 50 in the songs and a contest going at kishibashi.com for trying to find all of them!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I tried to think of the perfect topic to follow my welcome post.  Instead of the perfect topic, I decided to write about Pedro, the beagle the hubby and I adopted last August.    

Pedro's been such a source of joy in our lives and has made us feel like a family.  He's taught me a lot about finding joy even when I'm super annoyed, like when he leaves us little "presents" (aka piles of poop) in the house or decides to chew up every piece of plastic at dog level. 

Paul and I like to take the liberty of voicing what Pedro's thinking.  He usually sounds a lot like the dog from UP: "I would very much like to be petted.  Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh, I love you!  Squirrel!"  He gets his anxiety from his mom, his shyness from his dad, and his loving adorableness from both of us.  I think everyone should have a Pedro.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012



Over the past few months, I've been practicing finding joy and beauty in everyday life.  The more I practice, the more thankful I become for all the little things that make my life what it is.  My ongoing challenge is learning to find joy in the hard days and the difficult parts of my life.  I'm writing this blog to share my journey in finding joy in everything.  

A little bit about me: I love new experiences, international music and food, gardening, making lists and writing down goals, watching movies and reading books, painting, quirky senses of humor, and trying to make the world a better place.  I live in an intentional community with my husband Paul and am helping to direct a local community garden.  Looking forward to sharing joy from this one, wonderful life I've been given. Welcome and thanks for reading!

P.S. This is a picture of me on my wedding day.  Paul and I were married in St. Louis in January of this year.  It was one of the craziest and happiest days of my life.  LOTS of joy experienced that day.