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A Reflection of Gratitude

I’m so very thankful this morning as I reflect on the past six months. I’ve been rather quiet on this site and I’m so thankful for your kind emails and your patience.

You see, I promised myself that this blog would never be a place of illness, cancer, or ungratefulness. And it NEVER will be. So when life happened and we were faced with some scary scenarios unfolding, Jeff and I were suddenly stopped in our tracks. I’m not going to get into details because I’m ok now. And we haven’t shared much with others because we have a teenager, who is very aware, sensitive to our feelings, and involved in social media. Jeff and I have wanted as much normalcy for her as possible as she has adjusted beautifully to her transition as a freshman in high school.

We are great now. I am just working hard to lose additional weight from the side effects of idleness, medication, etc. I have a long road ahead of me with losing weight, but Jeff and the kids are cheering me on and I will see a strong, athletic self again in the future. I will. I must.

Around Here – August Edition

Around here, I am grateful for a husband who helped coach Ben this summer on his All Star baseball team. Love this shot of Jeff as he was talking to Ben about attitude, character, and the importance of just having fun. So many stories in this picture.


Around here, I am grateful for the 500+ pictures I took of Ben and all things baseball. I tend to take less pictures of Ben and myself for some reason. But I made up for it with Ben this summer.

Around here, I’m so glad I captured this picture. You would never know that these boys lost in a baseball game only 1 hour prior to this photo. Life goes on even after losses. Often children bounce back from adversity so much better than adults. I’m trying to learn from their example and smile and giggle in the midst of life’s speedbumps.

Gratitude – June Edition

Right now I am soaking up the sun, cool breeze, and the beautiful Pacific Northwest Coast in Gearhart, Oregon at the My Story Retreat. This retreat is hosted by Liz, Kelly, and Ali and I am about to internally combust from the gratefulness that has filled my soul in just over 24 hours.

In the past month, I have known of 4 friends and acquaintances who have tragically died. All of them are younger than me, left spouses, and a total of 12 children. Two died from disease and two have died from horrific accidents. All of their losses are rocking me to the core. Once again, I am reminded that life is short and I have a responsibility to live life with intention and a grateful heart despite my circumstances. I can’t disrespect those that don’t have that opportunity.

Today I am grateful for the life that I have been given, my story up to this point, and my story that is left to be told.

Today I am grateful for my friend Ali. Sharing, hugging, and experiencing life and joys together in person is a thousand times better than direct messaging with each other. Excited to meet someone who has BIG plans for her life, just like me. And the twinkle in her eye as she approaches a new adventure just makes me smile. (more…)

Gratitude: May Edition

I was the young girl who had her life planned out by the time she was 10. White picket fence, 2 kids, 2 dogs, and be a stay at home mom.

Then life happened.

I became a single parent before Rebecca was even born and this led me to take back my letter of resignation as an ICU nurse six weeks before she arrived.

Then I met Jeff and I had that feeling of “here’s my chance”. I happily supported Jeff through law school, but knew the end/beginning was in sight. Then cancer struck and we were drowning in medical debt due to experimental medications and therapies (yes, that is even with insurance).

Fast forward and this month I have been a nurse for 17 years. We do not live in town with any family. As a result, we’ve had to depend on others to help with childcare. This has been gut wrenching for me at times. Yet, God has been faithful and blessed us with AMAZING teachers and a nanny who love our children.

When Rebecca was in preschool and I would drop her off, she was THE kid who would cry her heart out and would run to me like a speeding bullet when I picked her up promptly at 11:30 am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I prayed daily for 2 things:
1. To win the lottery or have a green suitcase with money left on my doorstep full of cash so I could stay home.
2. Peace and healthy transitions for Rebecca.

I never got the green suitcase and rarely play the lottery. But Rebecca has blossomed into a confident young lady. The most important prayer won out.

Samantha on the other hand sometimes doesn’t want to leave Mrs. Freeman’s house or preschool. While the other kids are thrilled to go home, Samantha is content to stay on the carpet at preschool and read books or stay at Mrs. Freeman’s house and play. One day I pulled away from preschool and just cried as I took it personally.


Perspective: I Am

I love people watching. I love hearing people sharing their stories. And I love learning from conversations. Other than the infamous one time, I have never interjected into another conversation. But boy do I learn from them.

So I was stuck on an elevator that was uncomfortably packed going to the 12th floor. Two women were deep into their conversation despite rubbing elbows with total strangers. The younger of the 2 women kept said “I just don’t know what I want to do. I don’t want to get a job.” She then proceeded to give a laundry list of what she was not. “I am not good at science. I am not good at cooking. I am not good with computers.” It was amazing how many things she was able to rattle off in our 90 second journey to the 12th floor.

An hour later I was able to take a much needed lunch break. My fellow coworkers were watching a horrible COPS TV show in the staff lounge, so I took a napkin and started doodling and writing. Writing has become such a creative, positive outlet for me.

I used the elevator prompt… I am not.

I am not a fan of black licorice.

I am not a drawer.

I am not the reader I want to be.

I am not traveling this summer like I really wanted.

I am not the athlete I once was.

I am not a homeowner.

That’s when I put down my pen. You see this writing prompt quickly took me to a place of rumination within a mere 20 seconds. I had 23 minutes left of my lunch and I wasn’t going back out to work with a piss poor attitude. So I changed my writing prompt to… I am.

Rumination vs Gratitude


“Do you spend more time in your day being grateful or ruminating on your problems?”

I was sitting at Pei Wei with Samantha and overheard 2 ladies having a conversation. It wasn’t hard to overhear their conversation considering our knees were touching as the tables were so close together. The blonde kept repeating over and over how her husband had left her for another woman and how he ruined her life. The brunette asked her friend if she was ruminating and incapable of moving on. The blonde seemed shocked to hear her friend ask her this question. Then the brunette said, “It’s been 15 years. Don’t you think it’s time to move forward?”

I came home and looked up the word ruminate in the dictionary. I wanted to delve into this word. I was intrigued.

Ruminate: Think deeply about something. To chew again what has been chewed and swallowed.

The first definition wasn’t too bad – it reminded me more of reflection. Many great things can come from reflecting on our attitudes and choices. But the second definition seemed really unhealthy and heavy. And I’m all about freeing myself from anything heavy including schedules, burdens, unforgiveness, or ungratefulness. I’m deeply focused on building large amounts of margin and gratefulness in my home.

In my journey to learn more about gratitude, here’s what I have learned…

A Letter of Gratitude

I woke up this morning very grateful. Grateful for Mother’s Day cards and fish kisses from a 2 year old. Grateful for you sharing my post on Friday about being More Than Mom Enough in response to the front cover of May’s TIME magazine article. And grateful for the positive response to the Sunday Stories series, where you my readers share your stories and life lessons.

Yesterday, I left the house grateful to be heading to my happy place, the swimming pool for the final events of a 3 day swim meet.

I have been spending a great deal of time everyday focusing on gratitude. As a result, I’ve been a happier person. I spend a great deal of time looking through photos, writing lists of what I’m grateful for, writing letters to my children every week, and writing letters to people who influence me and my family.

As I was sweating my tail off at the swim meet in 100 degree weather, I found myself getting a little bit irritated. (more…)

8 ways to become more grateful and positive

1. Spend 10 minutes and write down everything you are grateful for. Your pencil can not stop. Yesterday I promised myself that I could jot down the things I wanted to change if I couldn’t fill up my paper. Within 10 minutes, I had started on the back side, so that made me quickly realize how much I have to be grateful for.

2. Create a visual board or journal of positive affirmations. I have created a board of Word Love on my pinterest page. I look at it every morning for 2 minutes. And yes, I set my timer so that I don’t get sucked into the infamous pinterest black hole. If you don’t have pinterest, then start a book of quotes or positive thoughts that can quickly guide your mind towards positive thinking. I also have Becky’s list of ideas to cultivating a good life bookmarked on my computer and probably read through them every couple of days.

3. Take a walk outside. Amazing how a simple, easy stroll can clear my mind.

4. Stop the negative self talk with positive affirmations or quotes. My inner critical spirit’s name is Jane. When she starts talking, I am now armed with index cards in my purse, my car, and on my refrigerator, filled with scripture, famous quotes, or positive things that my family and friends have said to me. Loved Ali’s creative lift this week that speaks a lot about this very topic. {The link is to receive her weekly newsletter of creative lifts. I look forward to them.}

5. Escape to your happy place. I have written about my love affair with swimming and it’s environment. I also love to go to the movies, theatre, play the piano, and go outside. What place can you escape to that will allow you to redirect yourself towards positive thinking?

6. Don’t engage in gossip or comparison. As Teddy Roosevelt says, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” I’ve been guilty of both and the person it effects the most is me. It might feel good or warranted at the time, but take my advice when I say the consequences can be great. You might lose a friend over gossip. Or you might become paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy when comparing yourself to others. The end result is never positive.

7. Take pictures or spend time looking through journals and scrapbooks. For me it’s Project Life. I’m working on the last 2 weeks of my Project Life album and it only took me 5 minutes to think, Wow, I have an amazing life.

8. Choose to be grateful. I always tell my children, “You are your choices.” So when Rebecca reminded me this past week that “Mom, you are your choices,” with that sarcastic teenage grin of hers, I had no recourse. Today, I am choosing joy and gratefulness. It really can be as simple as choosing a different path. I know that sounds trite and simple, but it works.

Life is so tough. But life is oh so good and delicious. I told a friend today that my blog needs to be renamed to Learn From Jenny. I have felt that I have learned 500 things more about myself and my life journey than teaching others about skills or giving tutorials on the latest and greatest DIY project.

Thank you for being patient with me as I seek to grow and become a better person, like you desire as well. I have many posts scheduled over the next several weeks that are focused on “doing”. But I’ve been visiting a land called “just being” that has been long overdue. It’s foreign territory to every part of the planner, list maker, and doer of me. But it’s just what I’ve needed.

What helps you to feel more grateful and positive? I would love to learn from you.

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! Like what you see? I would love for you follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

My Happy Place

I’ve been going through a little bit of a mid-life learning curve. I don’t want to call it a mid-life crisis. I would rather look at it as an intense 38 year old period of reflection. I think with all the change in my life this past year, it was inevitable that this time would come.

My story has changed radically over the past year. Some of these changes have happened without my control, like losing our dream home. But others have changed as a result of my intentional actions- starting this blog and marking things off my life list. What I have realized is that even as a lover of learning and change, sometimes it’s good to spend some time in reflection.

If you don’t stop to pause and reflect, you can get tired, overwhelmed, uninspired, and/or apathetic. And I don’t want any of these adjectives to describe me or my life.



One of the best places for me to pause and spend some time reflecting is at the swimming pool. My happy place is the swimming pool – in the water or on the deck. It doesn’t even matter, as long as I’m there.

So grateful for projects in progress

Life is in full swing around our home. Both great stuff and stuff I would prefer just went away. I’m sure everyone can relate. What happens when “that stuff” overwhelms you? For me, I typically power through it and keep busy. But every once in a while, my body resists and screams out for rest. And this past week, my body put the brakes on full force. I have taken several naps, been to the gym, been on my knees in prayer, been relatively quiet on twitter, and hugged one of my kids who has needed some extra attention.

Do not be alarmed, all is well. I am immeasurably blessed. Life just happens, and sometimes it just happens despite my well intentioned plans. I am on this journey trying to figure it out just like you. And sometimes I have the answers, but those answers like “This too shall pass” and “It will all be ok” don’t seem to provide the instantaneous gratification and resolutions that I desire.

So blog calendars, projects, and to do lists have to wait, because life happens. And you know what? That’s ok. No guilt, no shame.

This evening I went through my pictures and realized how many wonderful projects are in progress. I had a light bulb moment where I realized that I am living a full and abundant life. I am working towards my list items. I’ve actually done more in the past month than I had done in the six years after my cancer journey. My goal was to finally live. And well … Hot dang, I am!

So despite the spice of life, here are some of the great things in progress. I’m so grateful.

Making my first of 4 quilts for the kids. Squares, circles, and colors, oh my.


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