Giving Thanks for Sisters

The thing I’m most grateful for this year kind of goes without saying, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. This year is Leo’s year for sure since I spent most of it being pregnant with her, and while I’m grateful for a smooth pregnancy and a quick L&D, I’m mostly grateful for the opportunity she gave our family. Yeah we get to be mom and dad again, (oh gosh it’s so true that you make all your mistakes on the first), but Noweo, she gets to be a sister. Just typing those words makes me grin because they’re at the beginning of what will hopefully be life-long friendship (with the occasional cat fight). I totally lucked out with an awesome sister, so I know what they have to look forward too. Watching their relationship unfold as a mother brings a new level of “wow this is awesome” to parenthood, along with a new level of “wow this is hard.” Not only do you get to watch a baby develop all over again (fun!) but you get to watch two little people figure each other out (hilarious AND fun). Leo makes us more of a family, and more family is always a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it’s spent in gratitude with the people you love most.

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Handmade Holidays: Quality Montessori

We live in a plastic, blinking, noisy, battery operated world, and while I have some appreciation for those things, I really think there’s something special about simple, natural, hand-crafted toys that will last forever. That being said I’m SO excited about what we got for Leolani this Christmas. I’m also excited that I actually ordered it before December. I’m usually one of those crazy people shopping on Christmas Eve but this year I want to do my part to allow retail employees to stay home on Christmas Eve, AND support small businesses.

I’ve also been totally enamored with Montessori inspired toys. I think they’re so beautiful and completely in line with my clean and simple aesthetic. I’ve done some reading on the philosophy and teaching style and while that appeals to me as well I haven’t gotten myself organized enough to really do it. Despite my reluctance to start, I’m often browsing Montessori toys on Etsy. Quality Montessori is one shop I always end up looking through, and I decided to take the opportunity that Christmas brings to pick something up for Leo, and while it was difficult to choose, I decided on the  Montessori Baby Toy Gift Set.

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It arrived a few days ago, and I was probably more excited about it than Leo will be. I thought I would wait till Christmas to open it, but I couldn’t resist and tore open the box as soon as it arrived. It is just as lovely in person as it was in the listing photo. Smooth, small and light weight but still sturdy. I won’t give it to her till Christmas (silly, I know) and I can’t wait to see her little fingers wrap around them! By then she should be reaching for objects in front of her and it’ll be so fun to watch her play with her first Montessori toys. I’m pretty addicted now to this sort of quality toy and will be buying more!

The Only Blog I Really Loved

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how much I loved writing here…before I took everything off this blog and started over. I miss talking about real life as it happened, enjoying the beauty of even the seemingly mundane moments. I’ve started other blogs and stopped them. I’m writing here but after a little while I feel like my heart is still at SoPupuka (ok now I sound like the stupid ex-boyfriend). If there’s anything I’m learning from all this it’s not to act too hastily, so that blog will stay but I will be back to blogging here more frequently.

I actually don’t regret giving this blog a clean slate because it got REALLY messy with all the platform changes I was doing. I feel like I’ve grown up a bit as a blogger and know who I am and what I want to share here, so I can be more focused on great images and writing focused more on my ongoing efforts to live simply.

I love this space. I’m so glad for a fresh start.

Forgiving Ourselves – An Unlikely Lesson from a Three Year Old

The other day my daughter and I were playing, and she got really excited and started hugging my leg. And then she bit me. Hard…because she was happy. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but 3 year olds don’t often make sense. It didn’t take much to let her to know that she had crossed the line between playful and hurtful (a loud “OW!” sufficed), and in her shame, she started to cry. I told her I wasn’t mad and that I knew she didn’t mean to hurt me, that she just got excited, but that just made her cry more. When she knows she did something wrong, she runs and hides, so after a while of trying to make her feel better, we just decided to let her emotions run their course. It turned out to be pretty funny actually, because while we were calmly doing other things around the house, we could hear her howling from her room like the world was coming an end.

This went on for a good 10 minutes or so before she emerged, grinning from ear to ear like we just told her she was going to Disneyland or something. I thought my moodswings as a 16 year old were bad. Three year old moodswings are borderline bipolar.

Anyhow that got me thinking about forgiveness. Even though I had forgiven here almost immediately after she bit me, it took her an extra 10 minutes before she finally let go of what she had done wrong. I thought to myself, “What if we all just sat and howled like a three year old for as long as it took to forgive ourselves for the things we regret?” Not only would that be hilarious, but nothing would get done.

My daughter missed out on ten minutes of her life that she could’ve spent doing more pleasant things. Instead she chose to sit and cry. Ok. So we’re all grown ups and we’ve learned how to hide those feelings deep so we can still function during the day, but that doesn’t mean our regrets aren’t holding us back. How much of our lives are we missing out on because we metaphorically sit out and cry over past wrongs we committed that we can’t change?

Chances are, the people we’ve hurt have forgiven us – especially if they love us, but we often insist on paying for it, making our own lives miserable by not forgiving ourselves. Rather than learning from our past mistakes and moving forward, we shackle ourselves to an unrealistic expectation of perfection and are then surprised and disappointed when we don’t make the grade.

Instead of holding ourselves to an unrealistically high standard, let’s treat ourselves with kindness and generosity, acknowledging our faults righting our wrongs as much as possible, and then moving on, allowing ourselves to live a full and happy life, knowing and accepting that we are mostly good people that sometimes make mistakes.

Let’s Get Stressed

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The other day I watched an interesting TED Talk by Kelly McGonical about the real purpose of stress that totally shatters my pre-conceieved notion of what stress is. Stress in a nutshell, is your body’s way of gearing you up to meet your challenges. While it is true that sometimes bad things happen that cause us stress (divorce, death, illness, financial problems, etc.), it is NOT something to fear or avoid. Stress gives us that extra “oomph” that helps us to achieve our goals (which is probably why I procrastinate so much…I need an extra level of stress to get stuff done.) It was an awesome talk with lots of great information that’s definitely worth watching and contemplating, but it was what she said toward the end that really struck a chord with me. She said that rather than running from discomfort, we should search for meaning, and whatever discomfort (stress) comes our way, we would be able to handle it because we’re doing something meaningful.

That made my husband and I think about the things we’ve run from, and the things we’ve run toward, and we’ve found this to be true in our lives. College, marriage, kids….all those things brought (and bring) a decent amount of stress in our life, but because it’s something we chose, something we are passionate about keeping in our lives, the stress (usually) works to our advantage, giving us energy and courage to do the uncomfortable things.

When my husband left his job in Oregon, it was literally because it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth living out of Hawaii, away from family. It wasn’t worth it financially, mentally, emotionally. We were enduring a lot of stress and because we realized (after we got there…of course) that we weren’t particularly excited or passionate about being there, we didn’t accept and manage our stress well, and decided to leave. It was actually better to be unemployed in Hawaii…

This is why it’s so important to do the things that matter, because we’re going to experience stress no matter what. We shouldn’t spend our lives trying to get away from it, but rather in puruit of the things that give our lives meaning, and by default, we will have a more positive relationship with stress because we’re doing positive things with our lives. If we’re doing work we love, then our stress will sustain us, buoy us up and cause us to rise to the occasion.

Is your attitude toward stress negatively affecting you? Does re-framing it this way help?