AMAZING Paleo Granola

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A few things before I tell you about this amazing recipe! First, considering that this isn’t a “foodie” blog, I find it funny that my most consistently viewed post continues to be my “Easy Peasy” Chicken Enchilada recipe thanks to Bembu – I’m forever grateful! Second, I LOVE food – all kinds, so I’m thrilled to have an outlet to share that love; and lastly, I regained my love for food and cooking when I got sober, which is truly a gift in my mind. While I don’t focus on writing about food, it’s always on my mind and once in awhile I’ll come across some recipes that I MUST share!

So, this week I’ve decided to change things up and do a little “healthy eating, but still tastes good” themed week of posts. And, on Friday I’ll end the week with a not-so-healthy look at my very favorite treat in honor of a special day. So, just roll with it and hopefully you’ll get something out of it along the way!

Okay, so onward to Paleo Granola. Please, please don’t let the name scare you away! I know the whole “Paleo” thing has been all the rage lately, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. However, a number of family members and friends have had GREAT success with the Paleo lifestyle – and, really, that’s what it is – a lifestyle. While I admire those who can do strictly Paleo, I’m afraid that I enjoy a few non-Paleo items just too much. And, really, I already gave up alcohol, so in many ways I feel like I’ve done my “duty” in the area of giving up things for health-related reasons – at least, that’s the excuse I’m using for now! But, that still doesn’t mean I won’t incorporate some yummy recipes into our daily living.

Recently, we were visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle, who practice a Paleo lifestyle, and his aunt had made this wonderful – seriously-out-of-this-world granola. Disclaimer: I could live off of Greek yogurt, fruit and granola. I’m pretty sure I’ve had every variety of granola out there (hello, my parents were hippies!) and this was the BEST. Turns out it’s Paleo and comes from Stacy at Paleo Parents (oh, and my kids love it!). I prefer mine over plain Greek yogurt with a little honey and fruit, but you can eat it however you like – right out of the container it great too!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 C walnuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C macadamia nuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 C fresh dates, diced
  • 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Combine almonds, coconut flakes, nuts and fruit in a bowl
  • Whisk together oil, honey and cinnamon
  • Pour oil-honey mixture over nuts and fruit and mix, mix well (hands work best)
  • Spread onto a single layer on lightly oiled baking sheet
  • Bake for one hour at 275 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning (this is important or it will have a burnt taste to it)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Some Much Needed Sunshine

Sunshine Award

I love blogging awards because 1. It’s humbling to know others are actually reading your stuff (and like it) and 2. It gives you a chance to pay it forward and recognize others for their ability to reach out and touch you through their writing and stories.

I’m honored and humbled that Tracy over at Wanderlust nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Thanks Tracy – I could use a little sunshine right now in the midst of this cold! If you aren’t familiar with Tracy’s blog, stop by and check it out. Not only is she an AMAZING photographer, she has over 20 years of sobriety, which to me sounds like an eternity! I’ve found very few people in the blogging world who have that kind of sobriety so I consider her a true gem.

As with any award, there are a few guidelines. Here’s how it goes:

To accept the award, the awardee must do the following:

  • Display the award on your blog.
  • Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Present 10 deserving bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
  • Link to the awardees and let them know of the nomination.
  • List 10 interesting things about yourself.

Okay, 10 interesting (if you can call them that) things about myself.

  1. Growing up, I wanted to be a high school English teacher.
  2. I never, ever thought I would end up settling down in Oregon. But, now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love it.
  3. I used to think I really liked big cities, but as I get older, I realize that I don’t like them at all. And, I’m okay with that.
  4. My dream is to live on a little piece of land with room for a BIG garden and chickens.
  5. I have a thing for cowboy boots and love everything country – music, rodeo, Americana, etc. I think it has something to do with my Texas roots!
  6. I could never run for a political office because there are too many pictures of me topless and inhaling (not necessarily at the same time). Unfortunately, when you drink like I did, you do really stupid things that you end of regretting. Ugh. Oh, and if you happen to have any of those pictures PLEASE burn them!
  7. I used to think that being a church-going Christian meant you had to have really big hair and wear lots of makeup. Not so! God loves me just the way I am!
  8. I got my first (and only) tattoo on my 33rd birthday. It’s a naked woman sitting on a crescent moon, which is the same one my mom had on her ankle. It’s taken from a necklace she used to wear when I was little and I treasure it. It’s my way of holding her memory close to me – always.
  9. I’m thinking about getting my nose pierced again. Shhh…don’t tell my husband!
  10. I love, love, love strong coffee. Hot. In a big mug. Preferably by a big, roaring fire.

Okay, now for the good stuff! I absolutely love the blogging community and have come across so many amazing and talented people. I truly admire those who are willing to take a chance and expose themselves by sharing their innermost thoughts and experiences with total strangers. Not all of them are recovery sites, but they all speak to me in a special way and give me diverse views on living life. I encourage you to check out their sites.

http://thesimplecountrylife.com/

http://soberidentity.com/

http://beefandsweettea.com/

http://mendedmusings.com/

http://mentalrollercoaster.com/

http://soberboots.com/ (Heather is taking a little break from blogging, but she’s awesome so I had to include her.)

http://sobercourage.com/

http://drunkydrunkgirl.wordpress.com/

http://emotionaldrinkingdotcom.wordpress.com/

http://onetoomany1.wordpress.com/

These Are the Days

Be Yourself

I spent many years trying to be the person I thought others wanted me to be. I tried to act the way I thought they wanted me to act; look the way I thought they wanted me to look; say the things I thought they wanted me to say. Getting sober didn’t just give me a second chance at life; it introduced me to a whole new me – the real me. I was finally able to discover who I was. It was scary at first. I felt like I was learning how to live life all over again while getting to know myself. It was like dipping your toes into a steaming hot bath, until gradually your whole body is emerged in the water. And, once in, you take a deep breath and exhale, because at that moment all seems right in the world.

Very slowly, little by little I immersed myself into discovering who I was. What did I like? Who did I enjoy being around? Without booze, how did I react to boredom, anger, sadness, happiness? It was overwhelming at times, but also exhilarating. I’ve come a long way since those first few months. I’m settling into living life as me – just me. I like the person I see looking back at me in the mirror. I’m strong; I know what I like and what I don’t like; I’m okay with my imperfections; in fact, I embrace them because they are part of what makes up my imperfect self.

Lately, I’ve found myself at a loss for words when it comes to my writing. I’ve come to a place in my recovery where I don’t have daily struggles. Wait, let me re-word that. I don’t have the constant weight of recovery on my mind. Sober life and life have become one, which I believe is a miracle all in itself. Is life perfect? Heck, no! I still struggle like any “normal” person. I’m challenged daily by insecurities and relationships. However, I face those challenges with a strong sense of who I am and who I want to be.

When people ask me how I am, I say “Good, really good.” And, guess what? I mean it. For many years I didn’t mean it. Things might have been good, but there was always a “but.” Nothing was ever okay, just the way it was. There are certain areas of my life that I wish were different. Not everyone likes the person I have become. And, that’s okay. Like we say in recovery, it’s none of my damn business what other people think about me.

For now, I’m just living life. Enjoying those silly and sweet moments with my kids and husband. For those in the beginning stages of your recovery or who continue to struggle with staying sober, I hope you can find encouragement in my story. Life will never be perfect, but if you do the work and stay sober, you will discover a simple, enjoyable and rewarding life – a genuine life that is worth living.

My American Heart

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Like so many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on in our country right now. I’m sad, I’m angry and at times I feel very helpless and hopeless. I worry about what kind of ramifications all of our current problems will have on my children as they grow up and reach adulthood. I see a divide that continues to grow larger and larger between our political parties and those who were elected by and for the people. I see families and friendships being torn a part by opposing political views; each pointing their finger at the other. I see hatred being spewed across social media and people “defriending” each other on Facebook because of what one person supports and what the other doesn’t.

What I fail to see is the common American heart that exists in all of us and the common love we have for our country. The very fact that I can sit here and write this is an AMAZING freedom – one that is denied to many in other parts of the world. The fact that I can sit in my RCIA class at our church on Thursday evenings and talk about God, Jesus and Catholicism would be cause for death in many countries. As a woman, I can wear what I want to wear, say what I want to say and go where I want to go, which is simply unheard of in other countries.

My point isn’t to remind you of all the privileges and freedoms we have as Americans, my point is to ask “What happened? And, how did we get here?” How did we become so divided and so angry at each other? When did the “American Dream” become a bad thing? When did patriotism become something to be ashamed of? Do I agree with everything that happens in this country? No. Is life always fair? No. But,  I do believe that no matter where you are born in this country, who you are born to, what kind of conditions you are born into, everyone and I mean EVERYONE has the freedom and opportunity to achieve a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in their lives.

I can’t help but make the comparison to my program of recovery. When we walk into the rooms of a recovery meeting, we see people of all colors, races and backgrounds. Some were born with a lot, some were born with nothing. Some have supportive families and friends, some have no one. But, we are all there for the same purpose and we are all freely given the same tools to help us recover and achieve sobriety. Some rush out of gate, determined and destined to achieve sobriety on the first try; some take it slower and steadily do the work, eventually achieving their goal; others try and fail over and over again until they finally “get” it; and then, sadly, there are those who never make it despite all the tools and support they are given.

What our leaders (if you can even call them that) fail to remember, is that most of us in our little towns and big cities are just trying to do our best to achieve that “American Dream.” From a small age, we’ve tried to do everything the “right” way. We’ve gone to school, got a job, worked hard, supported our family, loved our children – yet, we are left wondering “Does any of it really matter?”

Yes, it matters! Because, despite the hopelessness I sometimes feel, I am teaching my children that, while not perfect, they live in a beautiful and strong country that will provide them with all the necessary tools to thrive and be successful, caring and empathetic human beings.

Nothing and no one can take that hope away from me.

The Better Mom

Permission to Feel

A Time to Weep and Laugh

It’s been a while, but I’m still here – sober and living life! Now that the birthdays are over (until December!) and school has started, I find myself easing back into that predictable routine that by the end of summer I so desperately miss. I’m hoping a new routine also means a little more writing time for me. I don’t realize how much I depend on my writing for my own sanity until I’m not doing it anymore!

I heard the above scripture read out loud the other day while driving and it really hit me. Usually, I only hear it spoken out loud when I’m watching Footloose and Kevin Bacon’s character is speaking at the town hall meeting trying to convince the community to reinstate dancing…but that’s a whole different story. Way off topic.

When I heard this scripture the other day, it made me think of my life now – my sober life- and how I navigate the reality of living life on life’s terms. For the most part, life is good. It’s really good. I’m the best version of myself that I’ve ever been, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. And, the struggles are just as important as the happy and joyous parts of my life. The difference now, is that instead of trying to numb or guard myself from those struggles by drinking, I have to move through them.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really crappy day. I woke up feeling fine, but by mid-morning I found myself losing it. My husband had taken the kids to the gym, and as I stood cleaning the stove, I felt this tremendous sense of grief hit me. Tears started streaming down my face and I thought, “I miss my mom SO much right now.” My mom passed away over seven years ago from pancreatic cancer, but sometimes it feels like yesterday. And, then I found myself in the bedroom cleaning, and once again the grief hit me and before I knew it I was sitting on the floor, leaning up against the bed, sobbing. All at once I felt so much loss. The loss of my mom, the loss of my friend Sadie, the loss of relationships with those I was once close to. It was heavy and suffocating and I all I could do was sit there and cry. I wanted the pain and hurt to go away – oh how I prayed for it to go away – but I knew, despite the heart wrenching pain, I had to move through it.  This was me, living life on life’s terms. It’s not easy, but it’s what I do now. I know it’s what I HAVE to do if I don’t want to go back to that horrible place I came from – the drinking and numbing.

I have FINALLY learned (not always the easy way) to give myself permission to “weep” and to “mourn.” And, part of this is also learning how to be honest with those around me and ask for help. When my husband got home, I told him what had happened and said, “I’m having a really hard day. I’m going to be okay, but I need to work through it.” He knows. He knows I will have hard days where the grief of losing my mom and my friends will hit me out of nowhere. But, he isn’t a mind reader (as much as I would like to assume he is) and he needs me to be open and honest so he can step in and give the kids some extra attention or whatever is helpful in that moment. My husband, my sponsor, my friends – these are my lifelines. I reach out, I ask for help – this is what I have learned in sobriety.

The next day I felt better. I went to church, I talked to God – I fed my soul and I continued to move through the grief and depression I had been feeling the day before. By Monday, I felt better. I now know it’s a process, but I didn’t always “get” it. Before, I would stuff it all in, pack it down, put a smile on my face and pretend it was “okay.” I would try to numb it away with multiple glasses of wine, hoping that “one more” would make it all go away. And, it did for a while – until I woke up the next morning and went through the whole cycle over again.

I laugh a lot now. I laugh with my kids, with my husband, with friends – at myself! I laugh a lot more than I weep or mourn. I even dance now – sober! However, my dancing usually leads to even more laughing – if you know me, you’ll understand. For those that don’t, lets just say I’ve perfected the “white girl” moves!

Thank God for my sobriety, which has taught me to live life on life’s terms. Feel it, deal with it and move on. Easy? Not always. Worth it? Definitely!

Reflections on a Year Sober

Endurance

For some reason I’ve been putting off writing this post. While I’m happy about celebrating one year sober, I’m emotionally drained. Last week I attended two memorial services for young women who were taken too soon – both mothers. And, in the middle of that I celebrated one year sober. It was bittersweet in so many ways.

After driving back from attending Sadie’s service in California, while tired, I went to my home group meeting that evening to get my one year coin. My sponsor was planning to be there and it was important for me to be with the people who had been with me from the beginning – those who loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Ironically, the topic of the meeting that night was “love.” If there was one word to describe Sadie’s service and Malia’s service it would be “love.” The love that shown through their bright smiles and the love displayed by those who came to celebrate and honor their lives was immense. While I was saddened by their loss, my heart was full.

In reflecting on the past year, I realized that the love I have received and the love I am able to now give is what matters most. I am not cut off from the world anymore, instead I am able to receive all that it has to offer and to finally give back after so many years of taking.

Sadie and Malia both loved deeply. They loved their children, their faith, their families and friends. I am more grateful than ever to have the ability to love like they did. To live my life not for me alone, but to live as God intended me to live – honest, joyous, peaceful and loving to those around me.

So, now what? It seems like a year sober is a pivotal time for me. I will never be a fully “recovered” alcoholic. I will always be “recovering.” I might not feel the anxiety that I felt in early sobriety, but I continue to be challenged with new situations that I must learn to “walk through” sober. It’s not easy, but no one ever said it was.

I will continue to write about my sobriety and my journey living sober, however, I might delve into other topics along the way. Next week, I start the process to become Catholic. This has been a long time coming and I’m excited. My husband will be my “sponsor” (yes, they have them there too!) and I’m grateful for that. He has been an example of faith when I didn’t even know what faith was. It will be a new journey for me, but it will also be a journey for us together.

Sobriety has taught me a lot of things, but most of all it has taught me the willingness to change, to follow my heart, to be okay with the unknown and to be at peace with my life – just the way it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gulp, I Raised My Hand

Take a Chance

I’ve worked the steps, read the book more than once, but I’ve never sponsored anyone – officially. I’ve supported women in their recovery, I’ve given advice, I’ve shared my story – but I’ve never sponsored another woman one-on-one. So, the other night in my home group meeting when they asked if those who were willing to sponsor please raise their hand, my hand shot up and I took the first step in overcoming my fear of sponsorship.

In my program of recovery, working with other alcoholics is a must. It’s how we stay sober and give back all that we have received. I’ve been skirting around the whole idea of sponsorship ever since my sponsor “cut me loose” to sponsor other women. I was scared. That little voice kept saying “Why would anyone want you as their sponsor? What if you don’t do it right?” That little voice ruled by fear kept coming at me. The same voice that I used to drink over.

I give fully and honestly on this blog. I don’t hold back. I try to share my story as openly as I can – pretty or not. However, I know I have to do more. I didn’t get sober online. I got sober in rooms and church basements in my community. It was the women and men who greeted me first thing in the morning with my coffee cup in hand who saved my ass. It was the women who ate loads of cake with me when my sugar cravings were off the charts. It was my first sponsor who told me (not suggested) that I needed to call other women, go to meetings and read the book. It was my current sponsor who took me under her wings after I dragged myself back in the rooms after a relapse.

So, maybe raising my hand during a meeting doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it was. It was me telling that fear to stick it. I have no idea when I’ll have the chance to sponsor a woman, but when I do, I’ll share my experience, strength and hope with her just like all those other alcoholics did with me. Just like my first sponsor, I’ll ask her if she’s willing to go to any lengths to get sober. I’ll share my own miracles with her. I’ll tell her that just when you think you’ve lost everything, you can get it back twofold. I’ll tell her that there’s an amazing life waiting for her, if she’s just willing to do the work.

I thank God every day for my sobriety and being at the point where I can give back to others is a miracle in itself.

Lets Get Real

Be Real

Sometimes, on days like today, I’d like to disappear down a rabbit hole just like Alice in Wonderland. Escape life and all it encompasses. Life is hard, it’s really hard sometimes and right now, life is hard. But, the truth is, I keep showing up. Day after day, I put one foot in front of the other and trust that God will take care of it. That gives me peace. But, it doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t like to disappear into my garden amongst the flowers and vegetables and just forget about everything. Now, that, sounds perfect!

But, in the meantime, I’ll keep at it. There has yet to be any resolution to the letter I sent that I talked about in my previous post. However, I have been meaning to fill you all in on my new friend. Remember, a while back I wrote about going on a walk in our neighborhood and running into some new neighbors who have a daughter in a wheelchair? Well, the mom and I have become fast and furious friends! I must share how this friendship came to be – it’s pretty amusing.

On yet another walk, my husband and I ran into their family once again. We decided to walk together and ended up on the corner across from our house where we would eventually part ways. As we stood there and talked about living in Oregon and how they’re adjusting to the Pacific Northwest, the mom joked that she was afraid she was going to become an alcoholic with all the wine she was drinking (our area is known for its wineries). AWKWARD. I swallowed my pride and went onto say, “Well, actually, I AM a recovering alcoholic.” Nervous laugh, the “Are you joking or serious?” looks – and then discussion. At this point, it came out that I wrote a blog, but then I realized that I better mention that I had recently wrote about THEM or what the heck would they think if they happened to Google it?! Oh crap. I was on a roll with the first impressions. As we said our goodbyes and walked away, my husband and I laughed about the unexpected exchange and I secretly thought, “They think I’m crazy. I just know it.”

They did look up my blog and loved it. The mom applauded me on my honesty and openness and since then we have developed a genuine friendship. Fast? Yes. Real? Absolutely!

This is what I mean about showing up for life. I make a conscious decision each day to be real and honest with my words and actions. If someone faults me for speaking my truth, that’s okay. But, it won’t deter me from being real.

When we push back those “perfect” barriers that keep us from developing genuine relationships with people, we are able to see the wholeness and realness of others which connect us as human beings. Just normal, regular human beings trying to do our best with what God has given us.

Here’s to keeping it real and “doing” life.

Food For Thought

Food

Over the past couple weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about food addictions, particularly sugar, in the sober blogging community. It seems like most of us in recovery continue to struggle with our addictions in some form or another despite giving up our “main” addiction.

When I first got sober, I craved sugar. Not like “Oh, I kind of feel like something sweet,” but like “I NEED something sweet NOW!” Chocolate cake was my friend along with ice cream, candy – really, whatever I could get my hands on. It was the first time I had ever experienced food as a form of addiction. In fact, before getting sober I didn’t even really like sweets. Little did I realize at the time, that I was getting my “fix” and then some through all the wine I was drinking!

My “sweet tooth” has subsided since first getting sober, but I know it’s something many of us continue to struggle with. Before getting sober, I never looked at food addiction as a REAL addiction. Basically, I just thought fat people were fat because they liked food too much and couldn’t control themselves. I mean, come on, how hard is it to just shut the refrigerator door or not eat that extra helping of ice cream?

Of course, that would be the same thing as someone asking me, “Why can’t you just have one drink?” or “Do you really have to finish that WHOLE bottle of wine?” I was ignorant and judgmental.

As Heather from At The Picket Fence says, “addiction is addiction.”

Heather, along with her sister Vanessa (who is a dear friend of mine), co-authors a wonderful lifestyle blog called At The Picket Fence. While their posts usually center on DIY projects, parties and decorating, Heather recently posted her very personal and honest story about food addiction and what she’s doing about it.

As I read Heather’s story, I was struck by the similarities between her addiction to food and mine to alcohol. She says, “I eat when I’m happy; I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat to celebrate, I eat to mourn…and occasionally I eat for sustenance.” Just replace “eat” with “drink” and you would have my story. It’s that simple. Addition is addiction.

I continue to be amazed and grateful to people like Heather who open their hearts and souls in an effort to help others. Her honesty is refreshing and much needed in a culture of addiction that is often based on secrecy and deceit.

Thank you, Heather. For more of Heather’s story you can go here.

Tired, But Grateful

Grateful

What a week it has been! At times, I felt like a fish out of water, gasping for air. I kept telling myself, “Just make it ’till Friday and then you can relax!” Well, Friday is here and I’m tired, but feeling extremely grateful. And, since it’s the last day of the month (and I have at least 31 things to be grateful for today), here’s my gratitude list for the day in no particular order:

1. My sobriety. I celebrated 9 months on Tuesday. No words can describe how grateful I am for this blessed sober life.

2. My son who “graduated” from preschool. He is kind, sweet, affectionate and his smile always melts my heart.

3. My daughter who graduated from kindergarten. She is strong, caring, independent and described as “hard-working” by her teacher. She inspires me to be a better person.

4. Teachers. God bless them. My children have been extremely blessed to have amazing teachers who teach them, guide them and inspire them to be their very best. It is a God-given gift to teach preschool and kindergarten because after spending two hours in a class of 20, I’m ready to pull my hair out!

5. Friends and family. Those who encourage, support and help guide me on this journey.

6. My husband’s work. That he is able to have a career that keeps him busy, that he enjoys and that allows for me to stay home and be available to our children. For this, I’m extremely grateful.

7. Dishwasher. You don’t realize how much you depend on this time-saving appliance until it breaks. And, to those repair people who can come to your home, take it apart and get it working again. Greg (appliance man), yesterday you were my hero!

8. Sun. After MANY days of rain, I’m ready for some vitamin d!

9. Summer vacation. No “real” schedules and convincing my kids that I “get” to sleep in until 6:30 instead of 6:00. Hey, I’ll take what I can get!

10. Blogging community. You guys rock! It still amazes me that I am part of a community of people who I have never met, yet who I consider to be true friends and confidants. Very special.

11. AA. My people who are always there, no matter what. Who know me and accept me just as I am. Where I learned how to live again.

12. My sponsor. She just celebrated 10 years of sobriety and I adore her. She is kind, gentle, yet still continues to challenge me by her suggestions and thoughts on life and recovery.

13. Hope and faith in God’s plan. It’s what keeps me going when I feel completely and utterly lost.

14. Daily devotionals. I read them every morning and when I don’t I feel like I’m “missing” something. They keep me grounded and give me perspective and remind me that I’m part of a bigger plan – God’s plan.

15. Music. The kind that speaks to you, that you can turn up in the car and sing at the top of your lungs (which is a good thing for me and everyone else because God did not bless me with a singing voice!). I’ve been obsessed with Pink, Rihanna and Bruno Mars lately, which is strange because I’m usually a country girl but whatever. Like I said, it’s about the music.

16. New life. My best friend gave birth to a healthy baby boy last week. He is beautiful and reminds me to slow down, and cherish all the little moments.

17. Coffee. Need I say more?!

18. My house. I’m a homebody at heart and I love just “being” at home.

19. My flowers and garden. I love watching them grow and find great joy and peace in taking care of them, especially in the evenings when it’s quiet and all I hear are the birds “talking” back and forth to each other.

20. Hummingbirds. My mom and grandma loved hummingbirds and am always reminded of their presence when I see one.

21. Jesus. His words remind and encourage me to be kind, patient and forgiving.

22. Netflix. My husband and I have been watching the Ken Burns’ documentary “The West,” which reminds me just how good we have it today and the extreme endurance and bravery of those who came before us.

23. My lived experiences. Despite the ups and downs, I have the ability to reach out to others who still suffer and to reach back when they reach out to me.

24. The men and women who serve our country. I’m constantly amazed and extremely grateful to those who would leave their families and miss milestones like birthdays and kindergarten graduations to protect my freedoms.

25. Facebook. Love it or hate it, I’m grateful it gives me the opportunity to share my life and story with family and friends who I would otherwise not see.

26. The rain. While I may complain at times, I’m grateful for the nourishment it brings to the trees, plants and flowers.

27. Prozac. For me, it’s like insulin to a diabetic. I need it to help me function and without it I would be crazier than I already am! For those in recovery who don’t think you should take anything, even antidepressants, well, lets agree to disagree.

28. The gym. I’ve been taking my kids to the daycare at the gym since they were two months old and I’m still extremely grateful for the opportunity to have “me” time.

29. Good books. The kind that suck you in and encourage you to stay up way too late. I’m planning to read more of these over the summer!

30. Goodwill. The take anything, they sell everything and they support a wonderful community of people. I could spend hours there.

31. Diet Coke. Because sometimes, despite how horrible it is for you, you just need one.