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Merriam-Webster defines “thankful” as “conscious of benefit received.” I can agree with that. Here’s a small chronicling of all the vast blessings that fill my life. (Thanks to my brother-in-law Hunter for the last three iPhone photos.)
There may be some in the world who are yet unmoved by music. I hope not many. I am thankful for sounds that somehow explain the human soul, and for a great road trip to Memphis with two of our dearest friends. (Iron & Wine was great, but NOMO–an “afrobeat dance explosion”–blew our minds.)
Within the past two years I’ve been discovering the joys of film and digital photography. I’m grateful for time to notice the world’s endless interest, and for photographer friends who are willing to teach me.
A warm meal of hummus and pita gives joy to the heart. I’m given as much food as I could ever eat and more in this country. It may be often repeated in this season, but many are still lacking. Compassion and generosity go far in healing our world.
Stark, brilliant moonlight is God’s gift of beauty through the darkness.
My life would be much the worse if I didn’t live in this little house:
With this little dog:
With the man who two years ago tonight, held my hand for the first time as we watched the sunset. I knew then that he was something special. I’m so thankful for his kindness and love, and his brilliant mind which created this:
It’s been a refreshing weekend. We’ve had many friends and family in town to celebrate the wedding of my darling cousin Shea and her absolutely wonderful now-husband Michael. I couldn’t be happier for these two. The love, mutual respect, and true friendship they possess was evident in every moment of their day. They were beaming with joy as they recited their vows. And though the wedding and reception were beautiful, the deepest beauty was in their commitment to each other and the obvious delight they had in finally being wed.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
It’s a cool night. I sit by the window, snuggled in a sweater, listening to the soft rain tapping on the roof and dripping past the porch. No matter how dreary it can be, I love this season. It reminds me of Scotland and urges me to cook soup and drink chai. Both of which happen to be among the most delightful nourishments in the world.
This delicious recipe, featuring chicken stock, potatoes, and veggies, can be found here.
This beauty of a beverage can be found here.
Over the past few weeks I have been working my way through My Life in France. Julia Child’s scintillating memoir was written with the help of her grandnephew just a few months prior to her death. Though the film Julie & Julia has led to a greater awareness of Child’s life work, she has always been a decidedly inspiring character, both in the kitchen and in life.
I was initially intimidated by the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but once I jumped in, I realized how truly simple they are. They are wholesome, made with real, fresh ingredients, and simply explained. Though Julia’s dishes seem impressive, they really are quite easy when you tackle them with “courage of conviction.” She makes it a breeze to approach the kitchen with vim and vigor.
After reading My Life in France, I’ve come to understand that Julia Child’s life was much the same. From the outside, it appears that her life was completely extraordinary. Living abroad for so many years, writing an authoritative cookbook, becoming a tremendous TV hit–it all seems rather incredible. And yet from the inside, within her memoir, I can see how simple her life really was. She gave her full energy to thoroughly enjoying every day. Though her adventures seem fantastic, they were merely the product of her zest for life. She had no fear in confronting whatever came next, no matter how overwhelming or enormous it seemed to be. Disappointments, though real, were interpreted as speed bumps rather than devastating disasters. Above all, she had fun.
There’s a lesson there. I hope to view my life as Julia Child viewed hers, as an adventure to be embraced with total and hilarious enthusiasm.
It’s been a busy week. Between work, writing projects, getting together with friends, cleaning out clutter, and whatever it is we do with our days, it feels like time is flying by.
My parents are moving to a new, smaller house. They had a garage sale last weekend and I also got rid of a lot of things. But because they have less space to store all of my childhood relics, I’ve been having to decide what to do with some of them. Because our apartment is small, and we value our open space, we generally have a one-in one-out policy. This means that if we acquire new stuff, something has to leave. On Sunday I absolutely purged and re-arranged the whole place, which created both a huge bag of Salvation Army items and an effective workspace for me. Unfortunately, I also brought back the heat, since I took the opportunity to put away my summer clothes in bins.
Clearing away clutter is tough. But I’ve realized lately that I don’t want to be defined by my Stuff, nor do I want to cling to it as if it will save my life someday. Regardless of all the little things filling my house, I have no more or less security because of them. I want to value my relationships and my time. Stuff takes on symbols of relationships and time, but it is not a substitute for it. And I must prioritize. I can throw away scraps of paper and keep long, heartfelt letters. I can get rid of that thing that I bought at that thrift store and never wore, while still treasuring the friend who was with me when I bought it. Above all, I want to enjoy my life without being weighed down by clutter and the guilt that comes with keeping it and with getting rid of it.
I’m so thankful for what we have. But sometimes the little things like cake with my morning coffee do more for my soul than anything that sits around collecting dust.
Fall is, by far, my favorite season. It holds most of my best memories. I fell in love in the fall, got engaged in the fall, became a teacher in the fall, even lived in bonny Scotland during the fall. It’s beautiful outside and the weather is perfect. For me, the autumn is a season of looking ahead to the future with thanksgiving for past blessings.
It’s important to look back at all the good things that have come and gone in my life. Often, in my hopes and wishes for the future, I lose sight of the immense present richness I’ve been given. When I pay attention, I realize that what I have now was what I once longed for. I have what I wanted, and it’s even better than I’d imagined. Of course, the journey has held plenty of surprises along the way, which have only added to my thankfulness and taught me to be ready for unexpected lessons and joys.
When I think of the fall, I think of dreams coming true. So our pumpkin is happy, because we are so very blessed.