A review of 2013: The good stuff!

As I reflect over the past year, several highlights come to mind. Here’s a re-cap of the positives of 2013:

1) I can’t seem to choose between financial health and physical health. What I mean is that I’m grateful that in 2013 we were able to pay a little more than just the minimum for our mortgage. Also, in 2013, I advocated for my health (hypothyroidism) and have seen improvements as a result. Running a client group on assertiveness and presenting at a conference re: teaching assertiveness skills must have paid off! 🙂

2) I joined a small group @ church called, “The Daniel Plan”. This 6 week small group series taught me a lot about sugar, processed foods, and eating for health. “The Daniel Plan” was the push I needed in the right direction. Looking back now, I can barely believe the results! From June to November of 2013, I lost the weight I had been trying to loose for over 4 years!  I will be forever grateful for the health and nutrition that I gained in 2013.

3) We took a vacation in the summer and saw Colonial America (lots of former presidents homes, Williamsburg/Jamestown) as well as Washington DC. From Baltimore, we flew out to California and drove from LA to San Fransisco stopping along the way. Then we drove back to LA via the desert to see Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. This was a CHECK off of our travel bucket list and a great time together.

4) Summer of 2013, I rediscovered my love for reading. It had been a couple of years since I read a book cover to cover. I forgot how much I enjoy reading and how greatly it nourishes my soul. Since the summer, I have read 6 books cover to cover and started a book club!

5) Derek and I have grown in our relationship in 2013. Our communication has improved, patience with one another has grown, and our love has deepened. I can honestly say that our relationship has never been better than it was in 2013.

Another year has come and gone. 2013 will be no more. I am glad to document the positives of this “blink of an eye” year. It wasn’t a perfect year as loss and joy seem so intertwined to our human experience. But there was gratitude, self-improvement, and love. And there was always a roof over our head with plenty to eat. 2013: Thank you for your many blessings. Please give 2014 the memo to be kind. Au revoir!


The best things my mother taught me

With my mother’s birthday being tomorrow, I figured now is a good time to reflect on what she has taught me.  As a teenager, I often focused on my mother’s flaws (like how she knew NOTHING, hehe, not true!). Into adulthood, I began to appreciate her many strengths and realized that the world would be a much better place if there were more people like her.  Here are some of the best lessons I learned through my mother:

1. She did not praise everything that I did.  While both she and I knew that I wasn’t going to be a super star athlete, mom encouraged my ability to relate to people of all ages.

2. She taught us that sometimes, giving to others isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. I remember giving away a favourite piece of clothing to someone that would wear it more often than I did. For the remainder of the day, I kept thinking about the item of clothing and regretting giving it away. When I talked with my mom about it, she shared that it’s good for us to practice giving away something that we like, to give away something that’s not easy to. By doing so, it helps us to not hold so tightly to our possessions. Also, we should give people our nice things and not just our garbage/yucky stuff that we ourselves wouldn’t use. This lesson really changed my perspective on giving.

3. She carried with her a perspective that we are rich! As a child, I hated wearing second hand clothes and we never had nearly as many toys and videos as our friends did. When my mother would tell us that we were so rich, I did NOT believe her. I thought we were poor. As I grew older, I now understand that she wasn’t comparing us to my friends. She was a) celebrating that we had our basic needs met and then some and b) she was thinking of others around the world who had much less than us. Her perspective has tremendously helped me as an adult when I think our house is too small, our vehicles too old, etc. I remind myself of the fact that, “we are rich!”, and this perspective causes me to want to give more to others.

4. “Giving to others” could be my mother’s middle name. The best thing about this? She isn’t just a mom has has given so much to her children. Or a mother who has given so much to her children and her church. She’s a mother who did those AND looked for opportunities to be a blessing to those outside of her circle. She looks out for the underdog, the people that others may miss ministering to and she finds ways to encourage them. She befriends the homeless. Mentors and loves new immigrants and refugees. She does the simple things like find shoes that fit a homeless man or brings a thanksgiving meal to one that may not eat today otherwise. My mother didn’t just teach us girls to give to others with our money and that’s where it ended. She modeled with her actions what loving others well can look like.

5. She sought opportunities to challenge herself. My mother would tell you that hospitality does not come naturally to her. She would often be stressed before having company over. The beautiful thing about this? She forced herself to do what did not come naturally again and again and again. Eventually, when I was a teenager, she had new immigrants to Canada come and live in our basement apartment! I love that she challenged herself to do what did not come naturally, and God has really blessed our family and others as a result.

I could continue writing about what my mother taught me about money (which has been tremendously helpful!) but I will end this post here. I guess the best “things” my mother taught me aren’t things at all. These life lessons have left imprints on my heart and I hope they will remain there forever.