Tag Archives: Thriving

Comparison Post with Text

In the Comparison Game No One Leaves a Winner

“The invitations you sent out for Sammy’s birthday were so cute,” a friend complimented at a recent play date.  “It is so sweet that you are doing a themed party.  It makes me think that we should put more effort into our children’s birthday parties.  They are so inadequate.”

“Um . . . thank you.” I stammered.  “I wasn’t originally planning on doing a theme, but Sammy asked me and wanted to be very involved in the planning.  It entertained him and kept him out of trouble when we designed the invitations together.  I totally wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t so interested.  And you are selling yourself short!  We all have a lot of fun at the birthday parties you host.  There is nothing superior about having a themed party, especially if it drives you crazy in the process!”

This type of conversation has recurred a few more times in recent weeks with different friends and over different topics.  One friend pondered whether home made Halloween costumes were superior to store bought. Another claimed she was “unmotivated” for not working on organizing her sewing and crafting supplies and fixing up her house (while pregnant).

Throughout each conversation I was puzzled as to why they were judging themselves so harshly.

Don’t they know???  Don’t they know that I compare myself with them and find that I come up lacking?  One friend is in great shape, another incredibly intelligent (and an AMAZING cook), a third is an engaging teacher, who really invests herself in her students.  There are so many things that they are doing better than me.

Don’t they see how talented they are?

In the comparison game everyone eventually leaves a looser, distracted from using all of their unique talents and qualities.

Comparison Post with Text

No one has the time or capacity to be good at everything, no matter how it might appear on the outside or from one’s carefully controlled internet presence.  Time spent on one thing is time not spent on another.   We need to invest our time wisely and prioritize it on the things that play to our strengths.

So, please my friends (both in real life, or online), please don’t spend your energy regretting all of the things that you aren’t doing (or aren’t doing as well as someone else), and instead reflect on your gifts and use them in all the ways that only you can.  If you enjoy planning themed birthday parties with your kids, or sewing them costumes, that’s great.  If you don’t enjoy doing these things, then that is awesome too, and nothing to be ashamed about.

You are an amazing unrepeatable individual.  You have a combination of talents, dreams and passions that has not been seen previously in history.  You have been put on this earth for a purpose and have a mission no one else can accomplish.  Please don’t spend your time comparing yourself to others.

You are capable of doing great things.  You are doing great things.  Even if it is something as simple as selflessly giving to your loved ones day in and day out or as small as keeping your cool when the toddler has drawn on the wall with a permanent marker.  Especially then.

The most important part of “greatness” is loving without counting the cost.

And that my friends is something I see you doing incomparably well.


Halfkindled kirk with tribbles

Stuff Manager vs. Steward

Sometimes I fear that if I were to be given a job title it would be stuff manager.  Read this link  to see what I mean and as you read picture me as Luke finding out that Darth Vader is his father, “NOOOOOO, it can’t be . . .that’s impossible . . .  NOOOOOOOO!”

I hate stuff.  Basically it is like tribbles that breed in the corners of your house when you aren’t looking.  See what I did there? I made a reference to Star Wars and Star Trek in the first few sentences, heck yes I’m a nerd.

Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

Earlier this year I did a time log, and the results were a bit scary.  I spend an average of four hours a day as stuff manager: cleaning our stuff, preventing the toddler from destroying our stuff, purchasing new stuff (of the babyproofing variety), rearranging our stuff , cleaning the stuff the toddler keeps getting into.  Ugh.

In the spring we had a flood.  OK I am being melodramatic, it was 1/2 inch over a few hundred square feet of living space.  As a result I had to go through and throw out what amounted to about 12 boxes of stuff.  With very few exceptions I was glad to be rid of it all.  Stuff is burdening mentally, physically and emotionally.

In our old apartment I would amuse/ drive my husband nuts by going through all of our stuff every three months, and usually take a few boxes of stuff to Good will.  For the most part we had just what we needed, no more, no less.

Now that we purchased our first house there are so many more things that need to be maintained, and tools necessary to do so.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are so grateful for our home. sure Its a bit of a fixer upper, its got a few flaws, (your welcome for getting the troll song from Frozen stuck in your head for the next hour), but it is a good fit for our family.

Its an unfortunate fact of life that stuff takes time to clean, maintain, organize, etc.  All of that is time I would rather be spending with my family, or reading or writng– stuff distracts from these things.

For a while I decided that the answer was to make sure that there were no more unused things taking up mental and physical space.  Reading a book about the necessity of poverty in the life of the lay Christian, only fueled what became a somewhat scrupulous undertaking.

I began a massive purge with the result that fifty boxes given away or donated so far.  I have no idea how we accumulated that much unnecessary stuff, its really is like tribbles I tell you!

Throughout the process, I discovered that an overly zealous commitment to getting rid of all unnecessary belongings can be just as dangerous as hoarding.  The point at which you are frustrated with your spouse because they won’t let you get rid of all of their stuff, you have a problem.  Spending substantial amounts of time and energy deliberating the merit of keep ing each individual item at great length is time that could have been better spent.

When used appropriately in an attitude of stewardship, stuff can help foster relationships.  Glancing around my living room, I see many things that aid in developing relationships or personal growth.  Furniture provides a place for guests to sit and comfortably converse, books enrich the mind, and art is displayed to uplift the soul.

An unhealthy obsession with decluttering in the name of freedom from possessions just tightens the chains all the more.  Whether you are obsessed with accumulating stuff or getting rid of it, you are still focused on your possessions.

I am striving to be focused on relationships instead.


How about you, are you a purger or a keeper?  Where do you think the proper balance lies?  Is your stuff like Tribbles?  Please reassure me that you know what tribbles are!  



Sacred-Heart-of-Jesus Greatest is Love

Death’s Revelation of True Greatness

February was a hard month.  In addition to the bleak skies and restlessness that generally accompany the winter season, this year brought struggles of a decidedly more permanent nature.

Towards the beginning of the month, a friend from college died suddenly.  When you are only in your mid-twenties, it is quite a shock when someone younger than you dies.

In the following weeks, my grandfather passed away from cancer.  Thankfully, we had the comfort that he had lived a full and blessed life and the ripples of his legacy will continue to reach many.

In the next few days, I learned that the child of a dear friend had passed a way.  The silence of this absence shouted volumes.

I found myself pounding the counter asking, no, shouting a single question to God: “WHY?!” I remember telling Him in no uncertain terms what I , the clay, thought of the Potter’s plan, knowing full well I will take back my words some day.

My thoughts, too, turned to memories of the sort of lives my grandfather and friend lived and the legacy they left behind.  Naturally, when confronting death one begins to ponder what sort of legacy they will leave behind.

When I am called before the throne of God to give an account of my life, how much wasted and ill spent time will I have to address?

How many wasted minutes and hours will have been spent aimlessly scrolling through my feed on facebook, while my precious children look up at me with eyes pleading for my attention?

How much effort will I have poured into decisions of such import as which particular shade of gray I should paint the bedroom?

How often will I have sought to find happiness in a carton of ice cream knowing full well that it is not going to fulfill me.

Now I don’t want to come across as condemning social media, decorating, or ice cream.  These are all things I do dearly enjoy and believe can have a place in a well lived life.  It’s just a question of how big of a place.

Facing the deaths that February brought reinforced my desire to examine life in general and try to discover what living, really living, looks like.  I needed a reminder that this gift of life I have been given isn’t meant for complacency, but for greatness.

Up till now, I thought that greatness was illusive at this stage of my life.  Here I am, a young mama to two little ones who demand so much of my time and energy.  I yearn to do great things with my life, yet my daily duties often leave me confined to my home.  How am I supposed to do anything important, when most of time is spent in childcare?

Filled with frustration, I turned my thoughts back to my deceased friend and grandfather.  What was it about their lives that made such an impact on me?  By the world’s standard’s neither had done anything astounding, yet their impact on others was profound.  What they lacked on their resume of professional accomplishments, they provided in their quiet virtue and great love.

Their lives are my reminder then, that greatness is not achieved through intellectual accomplishments, athletic prowess, or artistic creation.  It must be fought for on the battlefield of the will.

This variety of greatness is possible for me to achieve in my hidden life at home, albeit with more struggle than I should like.  It is a type of greatness that the world often does not recognize or acknowledge.

These loses provided me with the powerful reminder that whatever goals I may hope to achieve, which one must take priority.


Sacred-Heart-of-Jesus Greatest is Love


Have you ever had this realization driven home?  Did it take the death of a loved one, or did it come in a more gentle format?  


P.S.  It took this post ( http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2014/09/resume-eulogy-virtues/ ) from the ever insightful Anne of modernmrsdarcy, and the TED talk she referenced, to finaly clarify my thoughts enough that they could be distilled into this post.

P.P.S. Check out the fantastic five minute TED talk here:


Inside the Pregnancy Center: Not Manipulation, but Unconditional Love

Today, I am so excited to share with you a guest post that I wrote for CatholicHousehold.com detailing my experiences volunteering as a peer counselor at a Crisis Pregnancy Center.  One aspect of my work there involved meeting with women considering having an abortion.  If you are curious to learn what that looks like, please head over to http://www.catholichousehold.com/inside-pregnancy-center-manipulation-unconditional-love/ .  Here is an excerpt:

After volunteering at a Pregnancy Resource Center, abortion is no longer primarily a political position, or a catchy slogan. Nor is it a nameless, faceless evil that is far removed from everyday life. It becomes something real and personal. It has a face and a name. It is “Rachel,” the woman who cries herself to sleep every night holding the ultrasound picture of the unborn baby she was pressured into aborting. It is “Sarah,” who continues to grieve the abortion she had decades ago. It is “Anna,” the teenager who describes her previous abortion as “the worst experience” of her life. It is “Jake,” the man who came to tell his story of manipulating his former girlfriend to have an abortion; with tears in his eyes, he asked that his story be told so that his unborn child’s death will not have been in vain.  . .”

This is the project I referred to last week.  It has been a difficult and emotional post to write, but I hope that it will prove useful in raising awareness about the important work done by Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

Please consider donating to our local Pregnancy Center if you are able https://secure.ministrysync.com/ministrysync/event/website/home/?e=5628 .  As you can see in the article, our center provides essential services to the women and children of our community.


Please share the article to raise awareness of the important work of Crisis Pregnancy Centers!  

Have you ever worked at a Pregnancy Center, or in another part of the pro-life movement?  I would love to hear about your experiences positive or negative in the comments.  Please remember to keep it civil; disagreement is fine, insults are not.  Thanks!

Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Our Two Year “Housiversary”: Lessons Learned

First off I want to apologize for how quiet things have been around here.  We have had colds, allergies and general feelings of “blahs” going around.  Also I have been hard at work on a special project that I look forward to sharing with you (not the laundry room remodel, progress has temporarily stalled on that front).  Hopefully we will be back to our “not so regularly scheduled programming” sometime next week.  Thanks!

Houseiversary Lessons Learned

Two years ago this week my husband and I processed down main street, baby in tow (er, in arm) and bought a house.  We didn’t know much about home ownership (we still don’t), and while crazy exciting, the prospect of “breaking” the house was more than a little intimidating.  Along the way we have learned a few valuable lessons and I am sure that we will learn many more.

Because the house was a sixty year old short sale it wasn’t in ideal condition.  The previous owner had two dogs, three cats, twelve rabbits and one snake; she wasn’t particularly scrupulous about how this affected the cleanliness of the house.

Fortunately we had lots of awesome friends who very generously helped us get the house in a more clean state, over 100 man power hours later it was move-in ready.  Lesson Learned: We have awesome friends.  

I still think of my friend Rebecca who cleaned out my pantry (we joked that it looked like a dead cat had exploded in it), Sarah who helped me clean out my cabinets (apparently the previous owner also had some non-domesticated rodent “pets”), and Mary who helped me paint over the pornographic graffiti in what is now my son’s room.  I promise we are actually in a decent neighborhood, the house was just really neglected.

In the month after moving, our house rebelled.  One light fixture shot out sparks, the garbage disposal switch shocked my mom. the heating system sounded like a dying dinosaur, and the sewer lines backed up into our house . . .twice.

That month we spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment in repairs.  Lesson Learned: emergency savings accounts are awesome and save additional stress when you are already overwhelmed.  

While we are on the subject of money, I find it hilarious to think that I thought that I would have the entire house fixed up the way I wanted, within two-three months for less than $2K.  Cue big belly laugh here.  Now two years later we are slowly, but surely catching up on all the deferred maintenance and addressing repairs, but aesthetic updates are quite incomplete.

When we moved in I wanted to repaint EVERYTHING; I figured it would only take a week or two.  Cue another big belly laugh.  Within a month of moving in I became pregnant with our daughter and promptly passed out on the couch for the next few months from pregnancy exhaustion.   Most of the rooms in the house still have not been painted yet.

This used to bother me to no end, as if the unpainted walls were mocking me.  Now I see it a bit differently.  The walls are not mocking me, they serve as a reminder that I have higher priorities that take precedence, such as my husband and children.

This house is to serve to foster relationships, to be a refuge for my family and a place of hospitality for friends.  Lesson Learned: To the extent that decorating aids in the aforementioned goals it is a good thing, to the extent that it detracts from them, it ceases to be good.  

On that related topic, the past two years have shown that DIY projects aren’t our strong suit.  As I previously mentioned, we start them at a tortoise’s pace.  My husband, for some reason,  doesn’t derive the same delight as I do from decorating.  For him, painting walls and hanging curtains is an act of love and sacrifice.  One year he even worked it into his Lenten penances.

Now I have come to understand that he works many long and hard hours and when he comes home he doesn’t want to work more, or be apart from me while I lock myself in a room to paint; he wants to have time as a family.

I have finally come to realize that our most precious resource is time.  Time spent working on projects is time not spent on family, writing, singing or any of the other activities we enjoy.  If there is a project that we don’t particularly like, perhaps our time would be better spent on other pursuits.

I am finally realizing that it isn’t wrong to hire out work that we could do ourselves.  That this allows us to play to our strengths.  Lesson learned: Before attempting a project take time and energy into account as valuable resources, instead of just money.  

Finally, this house is teaching me the importance of embracing the beauty of everyday life in all its mess and chaos.  Who would want to live in a perfect house any way, a house where there are no toys strewn on the floor, or sewing projects underway, or sheets of music that somehow always seem to escape their neat binders?  Not I.  Our house is full of life, and life isn’t always neat and tidy.

Our house is a place of growth, fellowship and love.  A place where friends (and sometimes strangers) are welcome, even if the dishes aren’t done.

I strive to create beauty and order in my home, not to attain some pristinely clean, impeccably decorated home, perfect in its sterility.  I strive to make it a haven for my family and friends, a place of joy and rest.  Lesson Learned: A perfect house isn’t my goal, a happy family is.  


Has your home taught you any important life lessons?  Do you enjoy decorating or look at it as just another chore?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.