Winter Reflections

I am grateful for this winter. I learned to slow down and spend time with my family as we created a tradition of treating each weekend like a vacation.

Friday evenings are the start of our break from monotony and to honor that, I created Friday Family Game and Baking Night. Taking time to celebrate the beginning of the weekend has become a cherished time, similar to Shabbat. For us it is a time to end our hectic work and school week and focus our minds and hearts on each other. My daughter enjoys picking out the game for everyone as I mix together our brownies. From December to March I perfected a new recipe: keto sea salted caramel chocolate chip almond butter brownies. Translated in to foodie English, it means “drool-worthy yummy deliciousness”.  🙂 We play the game as our brownies bake (a batch or two of brownies have been forgotten in the oven when a game got too involved). Once the brownies cool, we all sit around the kitchen table and talk, laugh, enjoy a treat, make memories, and get ready for bed.

Saturdays have seen an implementation of coffee dates at the kitchen table to conduct weekly budget meetings. Honestly, slow Saturday morning coffee time is the only time when we are relaxed, calm, and well-slept enough to work through our budget. Note: I highly suggest both setting up a weekly budget meeting with yourself, your spouse, or your partner AND setting these meetings at a time when you are most relaxed so that you can objectively work through your finances. After our finances are in order for the upcoming week, we head out into Brooklyn to do some exploring. There is ALWAYS something new to see and do in our boroughs; that’s one of the reasons that we moved here.

Sundays are our community days when we go serve at our church, C3 NYC at the Downtown Brooklyn location. We get to see our friends and so-close-they’re-almost-family members and welcome new people into our church family. It’s a day to give back to our city and neighborhoods. If church isn’t your thing, volunteer for a different cause that you want to support; giving back has been proven to be mentally, emotionally, and physically beneficial to your health and who doesn’t want to be healthy?

In closing, I have some notes to write to the Seasons…

Winter,

You’ve been good to me. Thanks for giving me the time to learn how to bake fabulous brownies, play games with my family, continuously work on a budget, and press in to C3 NYC. Thanks for the memories!

See  you next December!

Love,

Kaira

And coming to a climate near you…

Spring,

Hi! We haven’t seen each other in a long time and I’ve changed since I’ve seen you last. I look forward to spending warm days outside, exploring the Grand Army Plaza and Union Square Farmers Markets, and watching my baby plants become adolescent plants.

See you soon!

Love,

Kaira

P.S. I’m expecting to find double daffodils at the Farmers Market to bring home. Please refer to the image below to know which ones I want you to grow for me.

Big_Double_Daffodils

 

Let me know in the comments below how your winter went and/or what you are looking forward to this spring!

 

Catch y’all later!

Love always,

Kaira

Winter Wonder

Each day feels like a first

The first time the Sun has ever lovingly shone on your face

The first time the cold and whipping Wind has bitten your cheeks

The first time your ear has ever heard Nature send out a silent call for rest

The first time your body has felt a Fire ignite within her as she dances in the cold

The first time you realized that Winter is a wondrous existence

-k.c.

 

May the winter season bring you the stillness of being to find and cultivate what you love. May you create, read, and play to your heart’s actual contentment.

Catch y’all later!

Love always,

Kaira

Stewardship for the Win(ning Year)

A few years ago, I decided to have a yearly theme to deepen my faith. 2018’s theme was ‘Freedom’; I mostly needed to be free from my need to control every aspect of my life… past, present, and future. Last year’s journey brought me to asking myself: I already am and have enough, how do I live the life of service I’ve dreamed of with what I currently have? I received the definitive one-word kind of answer that I love… Stewardship.

One definition of ‘stewardship’ is as follows:

“the conducting, supervising, or managing of something 

especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”, (Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary, 1999).

Care-ful… Responsible… MANAGEMENT?!?!?!?! All of these words triggered a mini-freak out in my soul. Up until recently, I let life live me instead of the other way around. I ran from responsibility like I was in a marathon, you get what I’m saying?

However, with all of the resources that have been sent my way, I am called to intentionally live for more than just myself. I decided to answer the call to be a steward for others and the earth at large. 1 Corinthians 10:26 (New Living Translation) says,

“For the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

To me that means that I belong to God, the time that I have belongs to God, the money that I have is God’s, the food that I have is God’s, the land that I live on that is inhabited by all creatures great and small is God’s, and the access that I have to resources to help others is because of God and is a part of His plan. So how do I move forward with this knowledge? First, I commit this journey to God. Then, I partner with Him on living it out.

I have a few areas I have in mind where I can carefully and responsibly manage the resources that have been placed in my care:

  1.  Time – My greatest and most valuable resource- This goes towards deepening the relationships and communities that I’m committed to.
  2. Family – They have been given to me to love and raise and encourage and educate.
  3. Friendships – The people who pour light into me and and whom I pour light back into.
  4. Communities – The people united with me under mutual causes to pour light, goodness, liberty, and justice into the world.
  5. Voice – What words am I speaking over the world and what are they creating?
  6. Voting power – What love and compassion can I give to all women and men through the power of my ballot?
  7. Finances – Where have I been living from a place of lack and selfishness and how can I transmute those places into giving to others from Abundance?
  8. Shopping habits/ consumption – Does my spending reflect my values and beliefs?
  9. Travel – Am I travelling to get, to give back, or both?
  10. Body (overall health, fitness, fueling) – I have one lifetime in THIS temple, how will I honor her Creator with her upkeep?

I am excited to reflect on this journey of stewardship at the end of the year and I am equally as excited to share with you what I learn and how I’ve changed for the better.

What journeys are you guys walking out this year? Let me know in the comments.

Catch y’all later!

Love always,

Kaira

 

 

Emotional Binge Eating: The Holiday Edition

Buckeye-Candy-450 (1)

Disclaimer: This post may induce a desire to binge on the foods that are tied to happy memories.

Shall we unpack this title? Great, thanks for your affirmation.

Some emotions are good; therefore, some emotional eating is because of said good emotions. I am a binge eater.

I appreciate you walking with me as I confront an unpleasant personal characteristic and type out this post about a food near and dear to my Christmas-y heart… Buckeye candies.

Just to recap, I am from Ohio, and we have RIDICULOUS levels of state pride! We eat, sleep, breathe, watch, and play EVERYTHING Buckeye. Buckeye candies, if you’ve never been blessed to eat one, is a confection made from confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter dipped in chocolate (it looks like a horse chestnut, a.k.a, a buckeye).

We ONLY ate those at Christmas and adults and children alike would fight over these little balls of yumminess to be take home, frozen, and eaten with great relish throughout the year. HOWEVER, what REALLY ended up happening with me is that I would hoard the buckeyes, stash them in a hidden corner of our deep freezer, and eat all of them (possibly 10-20 large truffle sized candies) within 2 days.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Hit the brakes! You mean to tell  me that you ate your entire stash of peanut buttery goodness in 48 hours? What happened to savoring each chocolate dipped ball of happiness?’

I can honestly answer that 25 years later.

I was eating a chocolate dipped ball of HAPPINESS. My brain had equated the euphoria of Cooper family Christmas dinner to the buckeye candies that were stashed in the deep freezer. I wanted to live the happiness of that day as much as possible and I was holding on to those memories so tightly that my brain had linked the intangible memory to the very tangibly melting buckeye in my mouth.

Sitting here at 32 years old, I can STILL describe in detail the memory associations with eating each candy. It’s gonna sound weird, but stay with me.

The weight of the candy in my hand is linked to the initial feeling of picking the candy up off one of the numerous cookie laden trays sitting on top of the washer and dryer in my aunt’s basement. The lights are out in the washroom, but there is a window above the dryer that lets in the light from outdoors. I can see all of the powdered, glazed, sugared, and chocolate-dipped cookies and sweets, but I was hunting for the best of the best.

The smell of the chocolate and peanut butter is linked to the voices of my loved and loving family members calling out, “Don’t take all of the Buckeyes!”, “Leave some for the rest of us!”, “Kaira, bring me two buckeyes, please”.

The texture of first the smooth chocolate and then the faintly gritty peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar mixture is linked to happiness and admiration. The way my cheeks would balloon out as I tucked a candy into one as I chewed made me look like my beloved grandfather who was my hero. You see, he had dentures and he had to eat food using his molars. He had to push the food into his cheeks to be able to grind it on his back teeth. Picture a squirrel stuffing acorns into his face to carry them home for the winter and you’ve pictured my grandfather.

The taste of the sugar hitting my taste buds is linked to joyous wonder. Christmas was the day you got a stocking filled with all kinds of delicacies like exotic fruit and nuts and some packaged candies. Ohio does not grow oranges and grapefruits, so we bought citrus fruit that the high school band sold for a fundraiser and would divide those bits of sweet sunshine among our family. My stocking also contained shelled walnuts and pecans and almonds. The appearance of these brown jewels ensured that my Gram and I would sit down and bond over cracking each nutshell and seeing how many times we could pull out an entire half nut. A bad crack job meant that you would be shaking broken pieces of nuts out of an improperly cracked and shattered shell, which meant that you might eat a piece of walnut or you might chip a tooth on a piece of shell. Now that I think of it, eating those broken nut pieces was like playing Russian roulette. Most importantly, this is the one time of year when we indulged in sweets: cookies, pies, confectionery candies, chocolate milk… these are all Christmas foods to me.

Christmas was the best day of the year in terms of food, because I grew up on a farm in the pre-Walmart Midwest. What we didn’t grow ourselves we bought at the local co-op, which sourced its stock from local farms. We ate locally and we ate seasonally. Also, we didn’t have desserts in my house because they had to be made from scratch and no one had the time or the energy for all of that after pulling potatoes out of the ground, scrubbing the dirt off, washing them, boiling them, mashing them by hand, and serving them with the other dinner components that were harvested and prepared that day.

The joy of Christmas became tied to the Buckeye candy in my mind. Eating the candy would bring each memory and emotion to life. Today I acknowledge that I emotionally binge ate Buckeye candies because I wanted to relive my childhood Christmases. Today I disassociate emotions and foods. Food is fuel. Emotions are indications of situations. The two are not meant to be related. This post was really difficult to write; I started hyperventilating and tearing up as I named parts of myself that I had buried deep inside. Thank you for walking with me as I confronted binge eating, which is an uncomfortable aspect of myself. I pray that you find the courage to confront your own uncomfortable character traits.

Catch y’all later!

Love always,

Kaira

I know I have enough, but…

My personal practice of minimalism has been cyclic. I KNOW that I am privileged enough to own and have access to everything I need and want, but I’m having a hard time with not wanting. WHEW! I can tell that this post is going to be a hard one to write. I want to tell you what I have learned and what I struggle with. However, it feels like I struggle a lot in spite of what I learned. I guess I can say that my practice is in progress.

Yes, I know that practicing something means that there is no end game. I know that progress means that you keep moving forward even when there are setbacks. I am clinging to the grace of knowing that my practice of minimalism does not have to be perfect or pretty or even fast.

Here’s what I currently practice:

  • Clearing my work space of notes, writing utensils, hand cream, and gemstones at the end of each day to clear the stress from my soul before I go home to greet my family.
  • Writing down thoughts in a notebook or my phone’s note pad as they come to mind so that I can clear up valuable mental property.
  • Auditing my desk drawer items to evaluate if I’ve REALLY used each item during the week. Note: if an item hasn’t been used, it either goes home to be stored or goes to a public space in my work building to the giveaway table.

These are the practices that I’m struggling with:

  • Washing the dishes at the end of each day – this practice is more so I can know how many cups/plates/sets of utensils/containers my family uses so that I can donate the excess kitchen items.
  • Being content with the clothes that are in my wardrobe and making purchases based on NEED instead of want (more about this in a future post).
  • Buying food based on need and nutrition instead of emotions and perceived starvation (also to be featured in a future post. Also, I will never starve; country girls can survive!).

There are practices that I want to implement in the future:

  • Downsizing to a tiny home for traveling.
  • Paring down my belongings to having one of everything I need instead of multiples.
  • Buying clothing when I can no longer mend or repair the items that I own.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy my minimalism journey and continue to create joyful habits and experiment with what really works for me and my family. I’m going to give my self the grace to keep making changes when something doesn’t work out. I’m going to find joy in simplicity.

Let me know in the comments below how you practice minimalism and how your progress is going!

Catch y’all later!

Love always,

Kaira

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