I don’t drink coffee much at all. Anathema? Maybe to some of you. But with a propensity to fast heart rate/jitteriness as well as a family history of caffeine addiction, I have been very careful my whole life to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks regularly – preferably, no more than once a month.
Avoiding coffee, sodas, energy drinks and regular tea (I drink herbal tea and water almost exclusively) means that I rely completely on myself to overcome the energy slump. It also means that I need more sleep than people who can grab a cup of joe in the morning. Well, I don’t biologically need more than they do, but rather I need sleep more to function as effectively as coffee drinkers do.
I reserve caffeinated coffee for special occasions. Sometimes this is reasonable, such as a long drive at night. But the other special occasion is… when I want to be happy.
Because my mood is severely affected by how much sleep I’ve had, having a cup of coffee cheers me up immensely and makes me a better companion. So if I’m feeling down, I often drink coffee at a party or at a social event to pick me up and make me cheerier. If I’m having a bad day, I turn to coffee. (I’m probably weird in this, since most people drink coffee more often. This is a personal problem, not one I think anyone else has with coffee).
Do you realize what I just admitted? If I said that I drink wine or beer to make myself feel better when I’m sad, your ears would probably be pricking up in concern. But when I say I drink coffee when I’m depressed, you don’t bat an eye.
While I’m probably alone in using coffee for this, we do this all the time with food, chocolate, tv, movies, too. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with curling up in front of a good movie at the end of a rough day, especially since sometimes it just helps you to rest, unwind, and the problems in your own head prove to be nothing important once you gain some perspective and some rest.
But sometimes I use it to pretend that my problems don’t exist. To avoid them, ignore them. I did this all the time when I struggled with OCD. And I catch myself doing it now sometimes – in weird ways, like reaching for a cup of coffee before teaching instead of praying about teaching. Instead of leaning on God as the first line of defense, I turn to something else. It could be coffee, it could be a treat, it could be a favorite tv show – but something innocent and fun is turned into something insidious and dangerous when it means that I ignore God in that moment.
What else is in our lives that seems so innocent and normal, like my drinking coffee, is our favorite stronghold?
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sacrifice. I don’t have much to say about it except that I want to view sacrificing as a burden. It’s hard. And it seems so very inescapable when you’re a wife, and a mom. Your whole life revolves around caring for others. And it’s usually not fun, in and of itself.
But the truth is that sacrifice gains back more than it gives. It’s blessed. The big sacrifices, like that of my body to birth a child, are easy to accept because the blessing is so obvious, so huge. But the daily sacrifices are more rewarding than they’re draining, too. It’s just harder to see. When I sacrifice a possible nap time to clean the refrigerator, I’m rewarded with an easier daily dinner routine. When I sacrifice reading my book to put extra effort into dinner, I’m rewarded with a happy family and a satisfying evening.
And sometimes the blessing is later. When I pull out those precious green bills I’ve been saving to buy myself some new jeans and plonk them down for ground beef, sometimes God just decides to bless me by bringing in some extra tutoring to give me even more money than I’d saved. And I am left with the confidence of knowing that I am strong enough to always do best for my family.
The beginning of school is always a tough time as Andy settles back into his hectic, overwhelming routine, but it is all so much easier if I am willing to sacrifice myself. We’re all happier. And sure, sometimes I resent the fact that I’m folding laundry at 11 pm when I could be in bed with a cup of tea and a book or, better yet, asleep. But I’m trying to remember that sacrifice is easier if I want to do it. It doesn’t diminish the difficulty of it, but when I do it willingly, joyfully, the rewards are bigger and the results are full of so much more love.
Well hello everyone! It’s so nice to see you!
I am sorry for the temporary lapse in connectivity. My server was down because my contract ran out and I, quite simply, was too busy to notice. Well, I sort of knew that it was happening, but I shut my eyes and covered my ears and pushed it to the back of my mind until I was ready to deal with it.
And now, I’m ready. It’s back-to-school time around here, and it is also going to be back-to-blog!
I want to get back in action. I’ve said that before, but I said it without a plan. Now, I have a purpose!
We’ll be swinging back into gear here on Just Plucking Daisies with three posts a week. Would you like to see a schedule?
The OkayCrazyDesperate posts on mental health will continue, and I’m excited to add to those once a week on Fridays. I’ve had some new things going on in my life, and there’s a lot to share.
The Mommy in me is going to find an outlet with a home-based blog post once a week covering topics from time management to household decor to cooking to parenting, with the post going up on Tuesdays. This ties neatly into the mental health posts, as it will give you a glimpse into what I’m able to do with the limitations I have, as well as new things I am finding to enjoy that help me keep my mind away from anxiety, depression, and other struggles.
Finally, there will be one Pluck a Daisy post a week on Thursdays… a short reflection on a diamond in the rough moment that I’d like to share with you. After all, that’s what this blog is all about… finding the daisies in the weeds, every day, all day; cultivating thankfulness in the midst of suffering; seeing the glory in the common.
So please begin checking back again, and join the discussion! We’ll begin this Thursday!
Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations about community. Community is nice – it provides friendships, people to call on for help, people to support you when you’re down.
But it’s more than that. It’s more than the people you interact with at church and school and in town. Community is an organic, lovely thing that, I think, continues to live on down in our very souls. It shapes us; it actually creates our personalities and our interests and our talents.
I’m talking about more than the parents who instruct us through rules and examples; more than the pastors who teach us what the Bible says to do; more than the teachers who guide us to maximize our potential.
I’m talking about the chance statements and encounters of the people surrounding us that may mean nothing, but that plant a seed in us that grows into a part of our very nature. Let me share four quick examples of things that seemed like passing comments, but that have actually made me who I am today. Things that other people believe are just “me”, but who I know very clearly to be other people living on within me.
I love creating a good, clean kitchen.
But where this really stems from is my friend Mary Kate, and an evening when I was about 16 years old. We had just finished a big family dinner and our mothers had asked us to clean up the kitchen. I grumbled my way into the kitchen and half heartedly began stacking things in the dishwasher; Mary Kate, however, fluttered about like a fairy cleaning the nooks and crannies, rearranging the knick knacks, and neatly setting food into the fridge. When I was long finished she was still wiping down the counters with a dry towel, and a moment later she stepped back and sighed, “Nothing makes me feel better than making a kitchen clean and fresh.” I looked at her as if she was an alien, wondering what this bizarre satisfaction with doing kitchen chores felt like. Ten years later, I find myself wiping down the counters with a dry towel after making sure to spruce up even the corners and cracks of the cabinets, and taking a second to just turn around the kitchen and admire the freshness.
I love a nice, fresh bed and believe that kids need a good-night-tuck-in, something my youngest brother and sister adore.
One night we were visiting my Mom’s dear older friend Libby when I was quite young – perhaps 7 years old? – and Libby took me into the guest room to get some sleep while the grownups stayed up late to talk. She pulled back the sheets from a large, beautifully made up bed. I remember the sheets were crisp and white. She put me in, pulled the covers up to my chin, and proceeded to tuck me in all the way down like a mummy, to “make me nice and cozy.” She left the room and I felt – unusual for a young child – that cuddling up in bed was actually a lovely thing, perhaps even something to look forward to. Ever since I’ve loved tucking in young children to bed, making bedtime something comfortable and lovely.
I love to decorate.
This may seem fairly intuitive, right? Wrong. One time when I was in middle school or so, my Mom was telling me about a friend of hers that had a knack for decorating. She told me that she could put the most lovely colors and items together that most people would never have thought to arrange. She said that she could look at a painting on the wall and find flowers to place underneath that brought out a color that was only an undertone in the painting, but with the flowers, looked alive and fresh. Ever since, I’ve tried to squint my eyes sideways at patterns, fabrics, textures, photos, paintings – and try to choose something unexpected to pair with them, something with an unnoticed color. I delight in looking at a room full of vibrant colors that didn’t seem to go together until I found the perfect way to bridge them.
Things that I do naturally now – that others value in me – that are a part of my every day life, are the product of a small, chance conversation or event that someone in the swirl of community around me said or did or demonstrated. I wouldn’t be the same person without Libby, Mary Kate, or that unnamed friend of my Mom’s. How many other things have grown up in me from a source I can’t even remember?
It makes me stop and think about what I do. It encourages me to share with others, because who knows what they’ll take away from it. It reminds me to be careful of the negative seeds I could plant in someone. It makes me grateful for community, and for people that have other desires and interests and talents that leave a little piece of them with me.
As I’ve searched my newfound favorite way to past the time while nursing, I’ve been doing some pretty hefty soul searching. As I compile achievable ideas upon ideas for cooking, for organization, for decor, for beauty, I begin to doubt all of its very achievability. Such and such a project may seem so easy – but I do not have any grosgrain ribbon in my house. This recipe looks fantastic – but I do not have any rutabaga. This thing is lovely – but I do not know how to stitch. And then, the one that trumps all else: it all looks great, but I do not have any time.
We all dream, but we dream of things that we wish we could have, or that for which we wish we had all the perfect pieces.
And, in the end, is it really “My Style” if I never have the guts to wear it? Is it really “For the Home” if I could never afford it? Is it really “Books I’ll Read” if I will never, ever read them?
And so I’ve done limiting myself with imperfection. I pin the beautiful things, but I’m going to create them, too.
But I’m going to create them imperfectly. With shortcuts for the time and the pieces that I lack.
I’m wearing the beautiful Anthro shirt – with tennis shoes because I have to run errands. I’m cooking the dish – but I’m substituting half the ingredients with the stuff I have. I’m organizing my pantry – but without painting and stenciling the walls to make it look pretty. I’m making a bunting banner – with frayed edges and thread holding it together.
Did I want this to be made with gorgeous scarves, tied together with ribbon, double sided, hemmed, and hung from pretty pins? Yes.
What is it? Some fabric I bought over the summer cut into triangles… some no-sew iron-on hemming tape… some thread… and some nails in the wall. Oh, and some hot glue holding the thing together because I accidentally snipped it in half at one point.
Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it colorful? Yes. Is it it happy? Yes. Is it beautiful? If you look through my eyes.
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