a year of giving.

as promised, the unveiling of 2019’s word of the year comes with purpose. over and over for the last few months calls to service have been showing themselves. opportunities to extend kindness and share any gifts I’m able to. we have been looking for places in our life to minimize the “stuff” in order to better flourish in areas we find the most joy. so, with today being #givingtuesday I thought it would be the perfect time to start manifesting our intention for next year.

the year of giving.

a·bun·dance (n.)

  • bountifulness of the good things of life; prosperity.

it seems as though we are at a time in our life where we are less at the point of survival and are beginning to peer over the edge of thriving in many aspects. a sweet spot of reflection. in that space we get to choose what to do with our abundance. humility & grace & compassion can grow here, even though they are three of the hardest paths to follow. we all get into our ego and habits even despite our best efforts to live with good intentions. but I want to raise little humans who help. who are mindful. who show kindness without being prompted or without seeing need; humans who show up because it is in their hearts to do so. mostly because it has so beautifully been shown to us.

the last two years we have really allowed ourselves the “glow up” or the reveling in a newfound freedom to explore what we want as a family. never in their growing up years could I afford this, financially or emotionally. while I wish I could go back and change the years of trying to survive, because the risk and reward affected them equally, I cannot. the result has made for some amazing memories though. we have travelled, done lots of things together as a family, and even indulged a little more than we should. we truly learned to work as a team through the hard times and how to enjoy each other’s presence no matter the situation. 2018 was the culmination of meeting our needs and checking off most of our big wants. the littles, who a friend recently pointed out were more medium than little, are at a new age of understanding. they save their own money and know what it means to not have enough, as much as they know the excitement of acquiring a thing they have worked hard for. now, is a great time to share our abundance. we don’t have a lot, we have enough to share though. i’ll forever be ballin’ on a budget which is why I have really sought out ways to start small.

without being preachy, I wanted to talk about some of the ways we are taking advantage of #givingtuesday and how we plan to give back now and in the future year(s), as well.

  1. the internet is a buzz today with opportunities to donate in any denomination or make purchases that benefit a charity or organization. so, if none of the things I mention below are in your wheelhouse, there are tons of options that require just a few extra clicks. and keep in mind that most of these larger fundraising efforts aren’t perfect but they are better than nothing. one of the easiest ways to give is to by shopping with companies who give back. there are a ton of retail sites offering a portion of your purchases to be donated. take the extra step to make conscious choices about how you spend your money over this holiday season. some of my favorites are, The Bee & The Fox, ETSY, Vital Proteins, and Lush.
  2. the gift of life. this one involves quite a bit of work but the power of this gift is incredible. a while ago, a friend shared the Gift of Life Marrow Registry on their page. I’ll leave it up to you all to research the benefits of this cause but order the kit, get swabbed, and send it back. Gift of Life has over 300,000 donors in 48 countries and have helped make over 15k bone marrow matches. it was painless and quick and my donation could help for years down the road. you can also take today to sign up as an organ donor or give blood. not all contributions need to be monetary to make a difference.
  3. shop small & support your community. this is a no brainer. the reciprocity has immediate impact.
  4. use your phone. yep. there’s an app for that. I’ve found three favorites, actually, that are well worth the precious storage space. Charity Miles is just like any other fitness tracking app you would download. it lets you choose a charity, log activity from walking to bike riding, and turns your miles into money that are donated directly. they also have some cool affiliate links that multiply your support. Give Tide is one I’m most excited about. it rounds up the change from your purchases, by linking to your card, and shows you what impact a single person/family can really make. you can set a weekly cap, track your donation, and create a team of family and friends to meet fundraising goals. it’s pretty customizable, user friendly, and has the same security features used by other sites like Acorn and Venmo. CoinUp is a similar app you could use. and lastly, Share The Meal. this app gives you the opportunity to purchase a meal for someone in need all across the world. this company’s costs are paid by grants so 100% of your donations goes directly to feeding a child. you can go a little further and join The Table which is their “monthly giving community” that uses direct cash contributions to allow families to decide which food purchases best suit their needs. this is important because we often times don’t allow those in situations of struggle to make choices for themselves which causes cyclical dangers. empathy goes a long way.
  5. this one might be the biggest change for our family… double up on necessities. we have gotten the wish list for a local organization St. Vincent de Paul, who helps provide goods, shelter, and financial assistance to our community. the plan is to take advantage of two-for sales and promotions on items from their list of needed supplies every time we buy them for ourselves. we keep one, donate one.

that’s a lot to digest, I know. what I’m trying to remind myself is that small steps are still steps forward. we will give time, goods, or money however we are able, when we can. and I know that we are not all called to service and we don’t all have the capacity donate. but I think we can all find a path that works even if it’s just being a bit nicer. I am all too aware of the ripple effect created by positivity and kindness. through this intention I hope we find ourselves a little more open minded and lot more grateful.

cheers to the year ahead, our year of giving.

“each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. and God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9

the waiting season.

today I committed to this blog, and even a platform upgrade, for another year. because what else might I need that $65 dollars for?! but there was a black Friday discount and I couldn’t resist the urge to further customize this dear diary outlet of mine. especially when I just rsvp’d to my first blogger event. (shout out to Honeyteller Blog and The Gem City Mama)

to be honest, I still haven’t figured out what I want my voice to sound like here or even who I think I’m talking to when I write these posts. my attempts at blogging are a bit scattered so far. all I know is that I made a goal to share and am attempting be a person out there achieving goals, despite being busy or uncomfortable or potentially failing. part of the lesson has been sitting still and believing that I have something to say that will resonate; part of the lesson was allowing myself to say the things that will resonate even when they are hard things. more so, learning to use my voice with ardor and compassion because I worked really hard to love the place it is coming from.

most of the time I send these posts out in the universe and pretend that no one reads them at all. I use them like an echo of growth. what have I learned about myself in this process?

so far this year, as a blogger, I have learned the following things about myself: I use way too many commas but will never stop using the Oxford comma, forcing myself to write consistently or on schedule makes me cringe, and I feel pretty alright talking about being a mom but still feel very protective when talking personally about my little humans. it’s important to me to find a balance between openness and privacy when sharing here. and I will always struggle with letting go of caring about how I am perceived. perception does little to change who I am these days, but the more cultivated view to spectators gives me a freedom to share only what I choose while remaining authentic. a bit of a shield, I’d say. without it, anxiety becomes a very real thing. not sure if any other bloggers out there feel this way. not sure it matters. but after year one I’m grateful for not feeling exposed or raw in order to gain an audience, I just feel lighter. maybe the real goal wasn’t to start a blog, it was just to share the things I love as well as the pain points of mental health and how I navigate motherhood with simple and faithful intentions. because that’s my every day life. it was hard to get those all into a cohesive theme. I ultimately gave up trying and only wrote when I felt like it. the weeks that I spent creating in the kitchen, you got recipes. if I was writing poetry and metaphors, there’s a page for that. and the blog itself was a catch all for the facets of myself. I’ve learned to like their randomness instead of feeling lost without a visible direction. shame on me for spending so long making myself small. but here we are, proving that you can be loud and remain gentle and live to blog about it.

with six weeks left of  2018, we are filled with anticipation for the holidays and simultaneously setting our intentions for next year. the little humans and I will sit down with real paper and a pencil to reflect on what we accomplished so far and what we plan to do in the future.  as a whole, most of what we set out as a family to make happen, happened. we travelled to five new states (14 states total), I quit biting my nails, the kids each found a after school “sport”, and we got a brand new car. there are a few personal goals that weren’t quite checked off the list and a couple plans still to be made that will carry over. of course, there are also this year’s lessons to turn into practice, adventures to map out, and new achievements to be made. we weren’t without the road blocks along the way and they weren’t any less painful, my nana passed away and there’s an upcoming surgery for my littlest, but we are getting through them together. with grace & in the pursuit of joyfulness, our words of the year. it seems silly but picking our word(s) of the year has always been pretty easy and something I look forward to. it sets the tone for how we want to approach this simple little life of ours. and it’s remarkable how they manifest themselves in the world around me. book titles, signs in shops, bible passages, and conversations. they feel serendipitous. they proved to be something I was meant to acknowledge not to seek out which was a breath of fresh air compared to years prior where I was always left reaching. so, I am embracing the sitting still. the wide-eyes. the open heart. the setting of intentions. as soon as we choose our word for 2019, y’all will be the first to know.

here’s to hoping the end of the year is vibrant and reflective; also, full of family and moving slow through the good stuff. the advent season is, after all, learning to find joy in the waiting.

32 flavors of grace.

word of the year:

grace (noun).

  1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:
  2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment:
  3. favor or goodwill.
  4. mercy; clemency; pardon:
  5. moral strength:

my year started in a flood of beginnings. not just your typical new year’s resolutions but a divorce, a new job, and a new(ish) relationship all at once. pile that on to my existing mama life schedule and my forever attempt to maintain balance. to say I was overwhelmed, would be a gigantic understatement. being on the precipice of change can be the most exciting but I believe it’s how you hold it together while these changes unfold that says the most about you.

I think winter may be the best time for such things, honestly. the harshness of the cold is a reminder that it takes work to thrive. we can sit in our times of dormancy and allow the growth to stir below the surface but we cannot forget to thaw and bloom. it is easy to allow the ground to hold a grudge against the sun for all those grey days. so, I chose GRACE as my word of the year, hoping that Spring would arrive in abundance and summer and I would have a good laugh about all that wind and rain. surely, with many definitions to choose from, Grace, would be fitting for all the seasons had to offer me.

without diving too far into any one of my big life changes, I will say I have learned a lot:

a lot about taking up space & taking my time.

about asking for what I need and being open to actually receiving those things.

about how I wish to curate my life.

as a mama, I have three sets of eyes on all choices I make. I had somehow convinced myself that it was better to be content with what I had than to fail at reaching for better, for demanding better. I had not allowed myself the grace in failing. moving through these new things in my life, I’ve had to start paying attention to my phraseology. self-talk can be a mortifying mirror with which our kids reflect back how we feel about ourselves. I made a conscious effort to speak to myself the way I speak to them- with trust, honesty, and a realistic expectation of our capabilities. I watched my kids talk gentler with me as I became more open with them about how our future would be playing out. it’s always humbling to watch them learn the lessons alongside me.

I have also tried my best to invest the same communication with my partner, my friends, and all the other grown humans I encounter. the sooner we are all on the same page, the sooner we can move forward with positive energy. but you cannot force it. adults…it’s gonna be a struggle. Grace is not a luxury we often grant ourselves which projects into something we are not able to grant others. and, at the end of the day, you can only do that for yourself. it’s up to everyone else to perceive and reciprocate. once it’s tossed into the universe, you have to let it play out. which has been another lesson for me this year. I am not always at fault for how things come back to me. there are far too many factors involved. this is the grace of movement, of allowing things to come and go. I know I do not always make this easy, for myself or for others. not everyone gets the same dose of grace. but it has been a new practice of mine to apologize to all of us, where I otherwise would have retreated.

as summer ends and fall arrives to lay down all the “stuff” of this year, I can honestly say it’s sorting itself out. the divorce is final and my brand new, chosen last name (see first blog post) is an actual legal thing. (screams internally) the job is a most perfect fit for our family even when the schedule and work drives me insane. and the relationship is pleasantly private and managing to survive the twists and turns even when it has done the most evolving. I have seen how these changes were meant for me to endure concurrently. it was less about the what of the chaos and more about remaining who I am despite it.

I am not without failure. the lessons are still pouring in. my story still holds a lot of forgiveness.

and this year was hard. real hard. but I think I’m ready for the harsher seasons and the promise of another year to grow, fuller and wilder.

gracefully,

Eliot.