welcome ... enjoy yourself

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween!

Happy Halloween!  This year, Paul and I dressed in our first couple's costume as the main characters from the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom.  The two kids fall in love and run away from home and the scouts so they can be together.  This movie has won the coveted spot of my favorite Wes Anderson movie.  I had so much fun dressing up - and I thought Paul's glasses were hilarious!  

In St. Louis on Halloween, kids have to tell a joke to get candy when they trick or treat.  If you're set on trick or treating in St. Louis tonight and don't have a joke, here's one that's sure to get you lots and lots of candy: 

Q: Why did the calf cross the road? 
A; To get to the udder side!  

Hope your day is spooktacular

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hospitality and chili

As a Jesuit Volunteer, I was always humbled by the generosity of the people we knew in Syracuse.  People had us over to dinner, offered us rides, gave us lots of tasty basked goods and adult beverages, and just generally watched out for us.  Being a former volunteer, I really enjoy sharing this same generosity and hospitality with current volunteers.  It's all about paying it forward right? 

We had one of the volunteers groups in Milwaukee over last night, and Paul made a big delicious pot of chili for dinner.  We had great conversation and ended the night by sending the volunteers home with the rest of the pumpkin bread and beer (Paul couldn't part with the rest of the pumpkin pie).  I love the freedom and joy that comes from sharing what I have with others, especially in this case knowing that the volunteers will be able to pay forward the gift of hospitality to others in the future. 

Chili recipe:
Saute 2 onions3 cloves garlic, and 1 teaspoon each cumin, coriander, and oregano with 2 tablespoons canola oil in large pot.  Brown 2 coarsely chopped green bell peppers and 2 coarsely chopped red bell peppers.  Add 4 12oz cans diced tomatoes (48 oz total).  Rinse, drain, and add 2 cans of black beans and 2 cans kidney beans.  (Optional: Add bouillon cube mixed with about 1/4 cup water at this point).  Add 1 small packet frozen corn.  Add small, medium, or large pinch of cayenne pepper. Add 1 teaspoon honey.  Let simmer for 45 minutes.  Add 1-2 small cans tomato paste to thicken to desired consistency.  Adapted fromSimply in Season.  
Use sour cream and cheese to garnish.  We always serve our chili over rice.  We also enjoyed it with corn bread muffins the volunteers brought over.  They made us keep the corn bread leftovers - they're already paying it forward! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

carving pumpkins

I realized this weekend what a sad life I've been living not having carved pumpkins for the past couple of years.  What have I been I thinking?  My friend and I carved the pumpkins we picked a few weeks ago using fancy patterns we found on the interwebs.  We had our tools, our newspaper, and we even had a little help from my friend's new puppy.

She was mostly just interested in eating the pumpkin innards.  She got bored as soon as the real work began.

The finished product!  My little snaggle toothed creepy-cute cat!  Carving with a pattern was a lot easier than I thought, so I'll be going for a more complicated design next year.  I had so much fun doing this - so much fun in fact I might have to start doing it at other times of the year too.  Or maybe I can just stick to more appropriate seasonal activities...

Have you carved pumpkins yet?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

fall breakfast treat

This morning I woke up in a great mood, totally ready to enjoy my Sunday.  After taking time to appreciate the beautiful pre-snow weather during a looooonnng walk with Pedro, I made myself a delicious fall breakfast treat.  I found a recipe for Apple Cinnamon Quinoa from The Healthy Everythingtarian during a search for healthy breakfast recipes to add variety to my daily oatmeal routine.  I usually don't have enough time to prepare a nice breakfast during the week, so I took full advantage of my day off to try out the fall quinoa.  

I was super pleased with the results.  The recipe was easy, tasty, and used easily accessible ingredients.  The recipe makes two servings, and I had fully intended on saving the other half to eat tomorrow at work.  We'll see if it makes it until then <insert major self-control here>.  Visit The Healthy Everythingtarian for the full recipe - I highly recommend a trip over to her blog.  I love her recipes and her writing.  Plus she's a fellow Wisconsinite!  C'est parfait! 

Now off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday.  Happy weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2012

tissue pom poms

I have a new found love for tissue paper pom poms.  I felt inspired after finding this tutorial to finally decorate the huge white space above our bed in our bedroom.  I had also been looking for a creative way to display some of my favorite pictures from our honeymoon to Quebec.  BINGO.  I came up with this very inexpensive, easy, quick way to decorate and display, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!  

 I combined this tutorial and this one to get the combined picture/pom pom look.  

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Acceptance. Now there’s a word loaded with meaning. We tend to confuse it with tolerance or even approval. But acceptance is about receiving, rather than judging….When we accept, we take an open stance to the other person. It is more than merely piously tolerating them. We stand in the same space and we appreciate who they are, right now at this moment, and affirm the Sacred in them.  -- Radical Hospitality 

Some of my biggest headaches in community come from my internal struggles learning to accept my roommates just as they are.  I've had similar headaches with family members, friends, Paul, even Pedro.  Typically these struggles deal with parts of a person's personality that may never change, things that can't be resolved from a discussion.  One silly example is the way that Pedro has to smell everything when I take him on a walk.  No matter how fast we walk, how many times I try to make him hurry up, or how many things he smells,he will always need to smell more, and I will not be able to change this Beagle-ness

A light bulb went on in my head when I read the quote above from Radical Hospitality.  I don't have to agree with a person or even be happy about a certain character trait to still accept and respect a person.  A person may always disagree with me on political, religious, or social issues  - which would typically have the power to drive me absolutely crazy and threaten the strength of relationships.  I get so caught up in who I wish a person would be that I forget to accept, respect, and love the person that he/she is.

Taking the time to mentally acknowledge and accept where another person is has had a tremendous impact on me.  I reflect that the person may never or cannot change and save an immense amount of energy fully accepting where the person is, right now at this moment.  I also remember that I am not perfect and just because I wish a person was a certain way doesn't mean that should be that way.    

Accepting Pedro's ridiculous smelling habits has lead to much smoother and calmer walks.  I'm expecting him to smell lots of things, so I'm not as angry or disappointed when he decides to keep his nose to the ground for our entire walk.  In fact, I find more joy from accepting and appreciating my little beagle for exactly who he is.  

Do any of these feelings resonate with your experience? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


As part of my road to better self-care, I started attending a yoga class called "Yin-Yang Yoga."  It's perfect for me because it involves a lot of focus on breathing and a lot of laying down on my yoga mat.  The most strenuous part of last night's class was when we sat up and stretched from side to side, seriously.  My favorite pose was something that had the name goddess in it, which I loved because I automatically feel strong and powerful when anything has the word goddess in it.  

I appreciate the practice of yoga for clearing the busyness of my brain and allowing me to relax in the midst of stressful times or situations.  Calming down helps me to be patient with the grey areas of life and to be grateful for all the wonderful blessings I have. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

old friends

It's such a gift to spend time with people who have known you for a long time, who have seen you at your best and worst, who can remind you of where you've been and who can support you as you continue to grow.  There's nothing like catching up, dancing, or sharing old inside jokes with old friends.  So grateful for friends who stay close even when we live hundreds of miles apart.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Sometimes when you're feeling a little crazy, it's necessary to make time off to have some fun.  Luckily, a good friend from college decided to get married this weekend, so I'll get to find some balance hanging out with some great friends in Kansas City!  Thanks life!  

Have any fun plans this weekend? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

finding joy in small things

I'm very excited to share Finding Joy's first guest post! Sara from Fabularz: In Pursuit of Fabulous is sharing her thoughts on finding joy in small things.  Sara is a St. Louisan/Bostonian who loves everything international and fabulous!  I know Sara from high school and have always loved her small but mighty nature.  Enjoy!

I cried when my pediatrician told me I wouldn’t get any taller. But he was right. I was always the smallest kid in my class, and I’m still the smallest person in my family. I believe our physical characteristics do a lot to shape our personalities and attitudes. The really short kids usually grow up self-conscious and a bit defensive (the really tall kids probably feel this to an extent, too, or really any kid who stands out for a noticeable difference). It took me a while to shift my attitude from “small as weakness” to “small as strength.” But it turns out that being small is pretty great, and particularly the concept of feeling small has huge lessons and benefits on the way I live my life.

But you don’t have to be below-average height to feel the strength of small. Here are three major areas where feeling small is most meaningful in my life:

Feeling small in a big world
I travel a lot, for work and for fun, and I surround myself with people who plan on stepping foot on every continent. My favorite part about travel, equal to the joy of learning about new cultures, is the feeling of modesty it gives me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own personal drama. The best remedy for that? Going face-to-face with a breathtaking mountain range. Going to a massive religious structure belonging to a faith you’re unfamiliar with. Going to a city where you are completely illiterate and need to rely on sign language or pictures to express what you want. It’s humbling. Compared to the magnitude of natural wonders and the dizzying flow of an unfamiliar culture, our squabbles seem minuscule and even irrelevant. Travelling makes me feel small, and it feels great.

Having a small space in a big city
I have always lived in cities, some of them massive (Beijing) and some of them medium (St. Louis). One of my favorite parts of cities is the way people manipulate small spaces to create their homes. We live in a society where “big” is glorified – superstores, mega-mansions, and cars that could double as boats – but living in the tight quarters of a city makes you question all that. I am forced to be considerate of my neighbors who would not be happy with a noisy party and of my fellow commuters who have to share space on a packed train. I have to think about every purchase I make, because we don’t have customized walk-in closets or garages to store the occasionally used things. And I like it that way. If I find myself wishing I had more storage space or fewer neighbors, I remind myself that stockpiling stuff is not freeing but disabling, and that sharing small spaces makes me more tolerant, selfless, and cooperative.  

Small judgments make big impressions
A question that I still get a lot from people is, always awkwardly, “…but how old are you?” My height, weight, and I guess youthful looking face make people think I’ve barely graduated high school. This used to make me feel annoyed and insecure. But as I went through the graduate school and job search process, I realized this was actually an advantage: the younger people think I am, the more impressed they are when they find out all that I have accomplished! Acknowledging my smallness ends up making me feel more confident. But more importantly, it’s taught me a valuable lesson about how I treat others: replace assumptions with conversations. Just as I don’t want people jumping to conclusions about me, I cannot let my assumptions get in the way of my new relationships. If your knowledge is small, grow it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

my food journey

I love food, and I love to eat.  I love to cook, I love meal time, I love sharing food with others, I love trying new recipes, I love to garden, I love farmer's markets.  I even have a blog about food justice.  Food plays a very important part of my life (as it does for most people) nutritionally obviously, but my connection to food goes beyond that.  Food is connected to my emotions, my sense of community, my memories.  

And yet, despite the important role that food plays in my life, I've never had to put too much thought into the nutritional quality of the food I'm eating.  As a vegetarian and food justice advocate, I try to pay attention to where my food comes from, buy organic when possible, and support local farmers through our CSA.  But beyond that, I've still been able to eat pretty much whatever I've wanted.  I can load up on the carbs, dairy, and desserts, and because of my height, if I put a little extra weight on it's usually not noticeable.  In the past, I would just exercise a bit more and call it a day.  

Well, it seems like my body has finally had enough of all the delicious crap I've put in it.  

Over the past few months, most of the foods (and drinks) that I used to find satisfying and comforting have begun causing me pain and discomfort.  My doctor recommended increasing my fiber and cutting out caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods, some dairy, heavily processed foods, and some carbs.  That means that soda, chai lattes, rich desserts, wine, dessert bread, tomato soup, grilled cheese, falafel, even my favorite Jimmy Johns sub - are all on the offenders list.  This weekend, I caved to my taste buds and indulged in one of my favorite guilty pleasure "meals" (a slice of Costco cheese pizza and chocolate-vanilla-swirl frozen yogurt), and my body went into immediate revolt mode.  The saddest part was that I knew as I was eating the pizza that my body would hate me for it, and I ate it anyway.  

Physically, I've felt sick almost daily for about three months.  Emotionally, I've felt semi depressed not being able to eat all the foods I find so enjoyable.  It is very unsettling to feel that all the foods that I used to eat and enjoy are essentially acting like poison to my body.  Emotional eating goes beyond eating when I feel stressed or sad; emotional eating for me is also enjoying Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving stuffing, ball park nachos, birthday cake, etc.  There's so much of ourselves that is put into the food we eat.

Now, there is an upside to all this (this blog is about finding joy in all things after all).  After dealing with the period of mourning for my old eating habits, I've started to see the great opportunity that my revolting digestive track has brought me.  While a lot of food that I used to eat tasted amazing, it really wasn't good for me.  Sticking to the standard American diet would have put me at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, even cancer.  

Trading unhealthy fatty, high-sugar, acidic food for healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has started to make me feel better.  Instead of eating a piece of pumpkin bread for breakfast, I now eat a bowl of oatmeal with berries or almond butter.  Instead of pizza for lunch, I'll have a bowl of miso or vegetable soup.  Yes, it's been a bit of an adjustment, but my taste buds are starting to hop on board and my body is so much happier.  The amazing thing is that knowing a food will make me feel well actually makes it taste better - trippy.   

The other piece to the puzzle is that the prescriptions my doctor recommended had not helped make my stomach feel better, but radically changing my diet slowly has.  Essentially, the foods I put in my body have started to decrease the inflammation and irritation my old diet was creating in my body.  

I'm looking forward to putting the same emotional and physical energy into my new diet that I put into the old, crappier diet.  I had a great time shopping at our local co-op this past weekend, and I'm excited to find new recipes to try.  I'll be able to find new Christmas dessert recipes that leave me feeling much better than eating a dozen Christmas cookies left me.  I'll be able to sneak healthier snacks in to the ball park to enjoy while watching the Cardinals win (12 in 12!).  

While feeling ill gave me the motivation to start a whole new diet, I would invite you to join me on this new journey too if you feel a spark of interest - before your diet starts making you sick.  I'll be sharing new recipes and reflections from my journey to better health (it promises to be a joy-filled one!).  I feel that we owe it to ourselves to treat our bodies with respect, care and love, and that includes being mindful of the things we put in our bodies.  While we don't have to be extremely healthy 100% of the time (who could avoid wine and cheese forever?), every little step helps.  

Thanks so much for taking the time to read!  Please feel free to share your own reflections. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

garden water catch system

At our last garden workday, gardeners installed a beautiful water catch system with the assistance of the Water Harvesters co-op.  Each tank holds up to 50 gallons of water and will catch the spill off water from the church roof.  While we won't get much use out of them this year, I am really excited to have a sustainable water source for next season.  So excited about this project!  

Gardeners can access the rain water here.

 And this pipe carries off excess water if the tanks are full.  

So proud of all that we've accomplished this garden season and very thankful for the assistance of the Water Harvesters Coop.  We couldn't have done this project without them!

Monday, October 15, 2012

second goal completed!

During the last four months of 2012, I'm participating in the four simple goals challenge created by Elsie Larson at A Beautiful Mess.  This weekend, I accomplished the second of my four goals: meeting with a nutritionist.    

I decided to speak with a nutritionist because of the ongoing stomach issues I've been experiencing lately.  Even though I've followed my doctor's recommendation to "bring on the fiber," I still haven't been feeling well.  I hoped the nutritionist would have some suggestions for a meal plan that would make me feel better and keep me healthy. 

The nutritionist delivered, which means my diet will finally be expanding from metamucil, oatmeal, and crackers.  Already, I've felt semi-liberated from the confines of my "safety diet" to healthier foods including rice cakes, almond butter and milk, veggie soup, nori, baked apples, and roasted beets and brussel sprouts.  It might not sound appetizing to those who can properly digest pizza and ice cream, but believe me, this food tasted like it was heaven sent.

I'll be sharing more of my food journey later this week, including the elimination diet I will be trying over the next few weeks.  My inability to eat my old comfort foods has been a challenge, but I am finally starting to find the joy again in the foods I eat.  Thank goodness!  

I've really enjoyed the four simple goals challenge, especially since it gives me incentive to check things off my to do list I might otherwise procrastinate.  Still trying to figure out what my reward will be.  Click here to read about the completion of my first goal.  What four simple goals would you like to complete before 2013? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

under wildwood

First, a nerdy confession: I love young adult fiction written for twelve year olds.  I used to think I would grow out of it, but the books are just too good to give up.  Here is one of my favorite new series in said genre. 

Under Wildwood is the second book in the Wildwood Chronicles written by Decemberists' Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis.  The book takes place in the city of Portland, Oregon, and in the "Impassable Wilderness" within the city.  Children in Portland grow up hearing strange tales of the Impassable Wilderness, about the creepy creatures who live there, and the inability of any one to leave once they have entered the woods.  (The Impassable Wilderness actually exists in Portland, but Portlanders know it as Forest Park and typically do not see talking animals there.)

The heroes of the chronicles, friends Prue McKeel and Curtis Mudrak, have survived their first adventure in Wildwood and have been called to set things right in the middle of a political power vacuum in South Wildwood.  In Under Wildwood, we also meet Curtis' sisters Elsie and Rachel Mudrak and follow their struggles at the Unthank Home for Wayward Youth.  

The story feels like a modern day Chronicles of Narnia series with the talking animals, evil witches, and the convenient coincidence that the main children in the story are the exact people that are needed to set things right in the magical land.   I love fantastical, adventurous stories like this that feel just real enough that you think about double checking the back of your wardrobe, just to make sure it's not a pathway to another world.  

Approaching the end of the book, I started to feel like I was watching the first Lord of the Rings movie waiting for the ring to get thrown in Mt Doom (nerd reference!).  I was on the last chapter thinking "how is this whole story going to get wrapped up in fifteen pages?"  Well, looks like we'll have to wait for the third installment in the Wildwood Chronicles for that (just like I had to wait until the third Lord of the Rings book for the full conclusion to the story).  As long as you know that going in, I think reading Under Wildwood will be very enjoyable for you - or your favorite twelve year old.

Friday, October 12, 2012

5 reasons to love community acupuncture

Most people hear the word acupuncture and cringe, picturing themselves as pin cushions being pricked full of painful needles.  Having had this image of acupuncture for most of my life, I never thought I would try it.  But after a coworker began experiencing very positive results from her acupuncture sessions, I decided to give it a try to supplement the care I was receiving from my primary care physician.  I've been going to several sessions a month for about five months now, and I have been very happy (and joy-filled) with the stress and pain relief I've experienced during my sessions.  

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that uses tiny needles to stimulate acupressure points to realign energy flow in the body.  Here are the top five reasons I love community acupuncture:   

1. Stress relief: Believe it or not, I've started to look forward to being pricked with needles because of the stress relief I experience.  My acupuncture appointments specifically target stress, but I also enjoy the big comfy chairs, the relaxing music, and the soft mood lighting in the clinic.  I'll sometimes leave the acupuncture clinic with the same feeling I have after a nice massage or pedicure.  Ahhh...

2. Time to relax: The acupuncture clinic feels like a sanctuary.  After the needles are placed, I have between 45 and 60 minutes of uninterrupted me time.  Its a very nice break from the craziness of usual days and the constant connection to my phone and computer.  It feels like 45 minutes of heaven.    

3. Affordable services: While one-on-one acupuncture sessions may be more expensive, community acupuncture clinics typically operate on a sliding scale.  My clinic accepts payments between $15 to $40.  That's less than some of my doctor visit copays and allows me to afford more frequent treatments.   

4. Holistic healing: I have really enjoyed using acupuncture as a supplement to the care I receive from my primary doctor.  I appreciate that I can receive positive results such as stress relief and pain relief without having to take another prescription.

5. Communal healing: At a community acupuncture clinic, people receive treatments at the same time in a large room.  It caught me a little off guard the first time, but I appreciate this model now because of what I've learned about communal healing affects.  Just as my mood might change walking into a room full of fighting, angry people, I find the peaceful, calm energy of people receiving healing treatments has a positive affect on me.  

If you've been experiencing chronic illness or pain and think you might wan to to try acupuncture, do a little google search and find a clinic in your area.  If you're unsure if acupuncture is a good fit, talk with your primary care physician or give your local acupuncture clinic a call for more information. 

If you're in the Milwaukee area, I highly recommend trying the Milwaukee Community Acupuncture clinic.  Their services are affordable, effective, and they are very easy to work with.  

A "just in case" disclaimer: I am not an acupuncture expert and am writing this post completely based off of my own experience.  Always consult with a doctor (and not a blogger) to ensure that any health endeavor is right for you. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

walking pedro

When we first adopted Pedro last year, I was a terrible dog walker.  Paul and I share dog walking duties, and I have the 7 am feeding and walking duties.  Even when the weather was fine, I still felt resentful about missing fifteen minutes of my precious morning sleep, and it usually showed during our walks.  I felt inpatient and annoyed, and I didn't give Pedro (the beagle) all the smelling time he would have liked outside. 

As time has gone by, I've become more thankful for having to take two walks a day around our neighborhood.  I've met more neighbors than I would have otherwise, I exercise a bit, and I can spend time appreciating the change in seasons.  Our walks are especially beautiful in the fall with I get to enjoy the changing colors and get to see the tail ends of the sun rise playing in the sky.  Thanks little Pedro.  

Now, let's see if this change in attitude can survive five months of winter.  

P.S.  How cute is that face?  

P.P.S. I've turned into one of "those people" that's completely obsessed with their dog.  And I like it. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

today i'm thankful for

My Papa ... the simple words "it'll work out" ...  when Pedro eats too many carbs and bloats up like a cute little chunky balloon ... having coworkers that are also friends ... everything fall related ... staying in better touch with my sister ... reconciliation ... learning to admit when I'm wrong ... blog comments ... the Jesuit Volunteer community ... movie lunches ... friend dates ... finding new music ... the happiness that these 50 people brought me ... being reminded to trust in the slow work of God ... our garden committee ...inspiration from this website ... reconnecting with old friends ... our Milwaukee community ... having lots of good books to read ... pumpkin bread and apple cider ... taking steps to feel better ... self care ... finding peace in nature ... feeling support from people I love ...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

crunching leaves

Is there anything better?  I might be taking Pedro on extra long walks just so I can get some extra crunching in. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

barthel's pumpkin picking

This weekend, my friend Mary and I made our third annual trip to Barthel Fruit Farm to stock up on pumpkins and apples.  Barthel is about a thirty minute drive from our house which gives us plenty of time to enjoy all the fall foliage along the highway and country roads we take to get there.  

While the weather was hard on the apples this year, the pumpkins were in abundance and we had a nice choice of carving pumpkins.  We picked four, and were charged a wopping $10 for the haul.  We could have filled our whole car for $28 but exercised a little self control and refrained. 

After picking out our cooking pumpkins and apples, we indulged in delicious candy apples.  Few things taste as much like fall as an apple covered in caramel and nuts.  Yummmmm....

What are some of your favorite fall traditions?

Sunday, October 7, 2012


This weekend, I picked a movie to see from the Milwaukee Film Festival.  While it wasn't one of the films I originally put on my listEthel turned out to be a really special treat.  I was a history major in college, but I must have skipped over the whole Robert Kennedy lesson.  Robert Kennedy was married to a woman named Ethel?  They had eleven children?  Woof, almost a baker's dozen.   

The documentary was wonderfully put together, produced and directed by the Kennedys' daughter Rory.  The film featured interviews with Ethel and her children along with lots of original video and photos.  The best treat of the movie was getting to know Ethel, a feisty, strong, vibrant woman who played a special role in history and helped instill a passion for social justice among her children.  Definitely worth a watch. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

natalie merchant

To bring a little joy to your Saturday: a sampling from Natalie Merchant's most recent album Leave Your Sleep.  "Nursery Rhymes of Innocence and Experience" has a great fall feel, sounding of the sea.  I don't know why, but the coasts of England and Ireland never have summer in my imagination - they are in perpetual fog like fall weather.  If they're anything like the Pacific Northwest coast, maybe they really don't have a summer.  

If you haven't heard Natalie's album, I highly recommend it.  Beautiful nursery rhymes put to song, perfect for young and old alike!  

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Every October 3rd, Franciscans participate in Transitus services to commemorate the death of St. Francis.  These services differ from others in that most feast days remember a saint's entrance into the world, not their departure from it.  St. Francis welcomed death as an opportunity to be with God, and thus treated his death like a celebration.  I love our church's Transitus service because it feels like such a peaceful approach to something that usually feels very scary.  

I, like many people, fear death - both for myself and for those I love.  I appreciate stories of people like St. Francis who have the grace and faith to be able to greet death "as an old friend."  

I find it fitting that Transitus happens during the autumn season here, just as the leaves are changing and starting to fall from the trees.  Nature experiences a death of its own as winter slowly approaches.  I feel apprehensive about winter's approach because the winter is just so freaking long and cold up here.  But I hope that I can take a lesson from St. Francis and approach this small death as just another part of life, just another way to experience creation.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

visiting my family

This weekend I had a family filled weekend, and I loved it.  Paul and I had traveled to St. Louis for my cousin's wedding, which was actually in a small town a little outside of St. Louis.  Before the wedding I had a chance to spend some time with Grandpa.  It's been a strange journey watching him age and grow sicker.  I feel very grateful that his mind is still mostly the same, and we can make new memories during visits and share a lot of laughs.

Saturday, we headed to the "destination wedding", and I got to spend time hanging out and dancing with these lovely ladies...

and these dorky guys.  Did you know my dad was a twin?  They've been identical their whole lives - even now in their 50s.  It's freaky.

I feel so lucky to be so loved by my family.  They help remind me who I am and help keep me grounded - seriously, no one could have too inflated of an ego with the way my family teases each other.  

Since Paul and I live far away from our families, we really appreciate every chance we get to spend with them.  We've made a commitment to visiting as often as we can, though it never feels like enough.  I've been trying to be better about keeping in touch through phone and email - the big advantage of living in the modern age!  So grateful for my family and the person they've helped me become.  

P.S. I wrote my first guest blog today over at Fumbling Toward Grace.  It will be a semi regular feature on the connection between food and social justice.  Check it out!