to give up the double latte or not?

Every year I watched my grandmother give up chocolate for 40 days. My mother gave up cigarettes. I gave up Bazooka bubblegum. My grandfather? Well, he assumed that my grandmother's 'suffering' was enough for both of them. It was Lent, the season of Giving Up Your Favorite Thing Until You Can Have It Again On Easter Sunday.

Because I was taught that Jesus fasted, prayed and was tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days, over the years I gave up my favorite foods, Bartles & Jaymes peach wine coolers and shopping at the mall. As I understood it, I should feel some of the pain that Jesus felt. In addition on Fridays you did not eat meat. I'll admit that there were times I felt the guilty sting of pepperoni in my stomach when we went out for pizza on a Friday night and I forgot about this rule. Was it a venial sin? I didn't know.

As I've gotten older, though, I've wondered: How does giving up alcohol or M&M's bring us closer to God?  Other than knowing exactly how many days there were until Easter AKA Freedom To Indulge In The Forbidden Thing, what does Giving Up mean in our lives?

This morning I searched online for the meaning of Lent. I liked this message on "Lent is a great time to “repent” -- to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. . . What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God?" 

That's intense. I get it. This makes sense. 

I admit being seven years old and giving up my favorite thing (Bazooka bubblegum) didn't make the connection for me. However, if we look at these 40 days as a time to give up what doesn't work in our lives, what complicates our lives, what takes us away from living a "good" life, that makes sense. 

What if instead of constantly glancing at our phones, we put the phones down and spent more time with the people who love us, who are within arm's reach who feel neglected because we seem more interested in an electronic device? What if each week we write a thank you letter to someone who has changed our lives? What if we DO give up the daily morning coffee run and instead, put the money in a jar to donate to your favorite cause on Easter Sunday? What if instead of giving up you give in? Forgive the one who has been taking up valuable space in your head as you replay how they hurt you over and over? Let it go. Let them go. Free your heart and mind and soul up for the good stuff that has been waiting to enter your life. 

This morning on Facebook, I see that I am not alone in this thinking. I was surprised that quite a few friends updated their statuses to say: "I'm off social media until Easter to focus on other things more present in life." My plan for the next 40 days: to let the things go that have taken up residence in my life that distract from who I want to be, who I can be. If you take part in Lenten activities, I wish you a time or healthy reflection and if you do give up your favorite thing, I wish you strength. Easter is only 45 days away!

Happy things: saying i love you with glassybaby

It was a sunny day in May (2009) and I was curled up on the couch feeling sorry for myself when the doorbell rang. It had been a TERRIBLE week.  I walked to the door to find a delivery man holding a small vase of flowers. I sat down on the front step and opened the card. It read  "I'm sorry this has been a difficult time. I love you." I held up the petite vase of sweet peas and roses. Small and perfect. It was my first glassybaby.

It was from a girlfriend who knew that I was having the kind of week where you are incapable of doing anything other than hiding under the covers. This lovely gesture was exactly what my tender heart needed. I felt loved. I felt inspired by this act of kindness.

I knew when I received that first glassybaby that I wanted to pass the feeling along. glassybaby is my favorite gift to give. This object can convey what words often can't. It can say "I'm sorry. Forgive me. I was an idiot," "I know I don't tell you this often enough, but I'm lucky to have you as a sister," or "I'm so proud of you. Keep going!" (day one). I have sent a glassybaby to a girlfriend who had the sweetest baby girl (Baby). We recently sent Master of the Universe to a friend of ours who is just one of the coolest people we know who just survived a difficult year. I sent Home to a friend who loves the color blue and animals (10% of the profits from Home benefits the Reteti Elephant Preserve in Northern Kenya.)

Then there is Love, pictured above. For the price of flowers or chocolates on Valentine's Day you could send someone (partner, BFF, parent) this heartfelt red glassybaby etched with a heart. 10% of every Love glassybaby sold in February will be donated to Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington to help one child's wish come true.

I hope every day that you feel loved and inspired.
Learn more about Lee Rhodes, the founder of glassybaby. After seeing the beauty of a lit candle in a glass cup, this three-time cancer survivor found glassblowing artisans to create these objects of beauty and created her own company. Today there are multiple store locations and over 100 extraordinary colors.  Since the inception of the company (2001), glassybaby has donated over $3 million to organizations that directly help cancer survivors, veterans and animals. THAT is inspiring.

{happy food} chicken enchilada soup recipe

During a thunderstorm on a quick trip to Mexico, I stopped into a little cantina and enjoyed what was hands-down the best chicken enchilada soup I have ever tasted. Maybe it was the smile of the kind server who took pity on this rain-soaked girl. Maybe it was warmth of the fireplace but years later, while I've long forgotten the name of the restaurant I still fondly remember this perfect moment of enjoying this soup with a Dos Equis beer. 

L and I both love spicy food, especially enchiladas so when I came across this recipe last week, I knew this was one to try. It was easy to make and came together in less than half an hour. I plan on making this our go-to soup for cool days.

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Happy Food: Chicken Enchilada Soup
This easy, spicy favorite is perfect for a hearty weeknight meal or a weekend entertaining friends.
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts (shredded)
  • 1 28 ounce can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 23 ounce family size can of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans
  • 1 15 ounce can of corn
  • 1 pint of prepared pico de gallo (in the produce section)
Add all ingredients to a large pot and stir together. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips. For a vegetarian option, omit the chicken.
For a reduced fat version, use reduced fat sour cream and reduced fat cheddar cheese.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 healthy servings