Week in Review (January 20 – January 26, 2014)

Well, hello there, winter!  This has been the coldest January I can remember since living in the midwest (it’s been about fifteen years now!).  For some reason I thought it didn’t snow much when it got below a certain temperature, but the subzero weather has not stopped the flurries!  I must admit, I am a bit of a closet winter fan.  I feel like I have to be somewhat quiet about my love of the chilly season since it seems to frustrate so many people.  I don’t like to ruffle feathers if I can help it, but we like what we like, you know?  Something about winter makes me feel so alive.  The air seems cleaner, the sun shines brighter (reflected in all that snow), and everything feels just a bit more quiet and calmer outside with much of nature hibernating until the thaw.  That being said, I do prefer sunny winter days to grey and overcast ones, although there is a certain quality to the winter grey that inspires me to journey within.

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I wasn’t always such a big fan of the winter months.  I’ve always loved the season around the holidays, but like many others would grow tired of it especially once February rolled around and long for the spring.  That all changed once I brought my dog Winnie home just over four years ago now.  She officially became part of our family in late October 2009.  She got to experience her first winter when she was still a wiggly pup and her absolute delight in the snowy season soon had a profound affect on me.  I began to look forward to our daily wintery walks and enjoy the chill from the coziness of my warm coat and mittens.  Watching Winnie hop around in the snow like a real snow bunny brings me so much joy.  It is thanks to her that I started to really notice and appreciate the beauty of winter.  Winnie also taught me the importance of slowing down a bit in the winter months when the natural world is at rest.  I look forward to snuggling by the fire with her and my husband Don in the evenings, instead of fretting about what I’m not getting done by just hanging out.  As much as Winnie loves the snow, she tends to nap more in the winter, using her indoor time to rest.  It’s amazing what animals can teach us if we take the time to observe their instincts and natural patterns.  For instance, Winnie had a bit of a stomach bug early last week and knew to be gentle with herself, not overexerting by eating too much or playing too hard.  Despite not feeling 100%, however, she still reveled in our daily walks outside.  Fresh air is such a healer!  She was back to her normal self within just a couple of days.  I think as humans we have the tendency to want to push through bouts of illness and fatigue to cross those items off our unending to-do lists.  If I could learn to “take the gentle path” and allow myself time to heal when I am not feeling well, perhaps I could bounce back just as quickly as my little Winnie, instead of pushing myself and unnecessarily dragging out the recovery period.

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On that same note, I have been thoroughly enjoying my daily read from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach that I mentioned in my first WIR of the year.  This has become a daily ritual for me as I continue to learn and grow.  I like to think of it as a positivity guide, facilitating introspection about myself and my path in the world that allows for personal growth.  Like Winnie, Simple Abundance is helping me to appreciate things that I might otherwise miss in the hustle and bustle of life.  I wonder if my fellow self-proclaimed busy bees (otherwise known as type-A-ers, whether admitted or not) feel like they, too, can get so caught up in being productive and efficient that they, too, sometimes miss seeing the bigger picture in the small and quiet details of life.  I know it is all too easy for me to fall into a pattern of going-going-going all of the time without taking a moment to stop and breathe and look around.  Whenever I sense myself falling back into this rut, I like to reflect on this quote from one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

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I feel like I am becoming better at “stopping and looking around” as I grow older.  When I think back to my intense school days, especially during my college years when I would push myself so hard all of the time, I can’t imagine how I made it through in one piece!  I will always be a go-getter, get-it-done, productive and efficient kind of person, because that’s who I am, plain and simple.  Honoring my true self and personality are part of this journey.  An equally if not more important part, however, is to make space and time to just be still for few moments each and every day.  If that means scheduling some of that time right into my daily to-do list, then so be it!  Who says lists can only hinder your free spirit?  For me, they are an effective tool for allowing myself some freedom to savor the small moments.  Right now, some of my favorite “moments” include reading in the bath, drinking tea and hot chocolate, watching my pup frolic in the snow on our winter walks, and knitting.  I am continually surprised and delighted by how much there is to learn in these moments.

You can watch last week’s vlog here if you’d like:

I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to find quiet and stillness in this fast-paced life.  Please leave a comment if you care to share!  I hope you are all keeping warm this winter and finding ways to enjoy the season!

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35 comments

35 thoughts on “Week in Review (January 20 – January 26, 2014)”

  1. I was looking at the pictures without my glasses and at first I was like “oh what’s this dish with carrots”?
    It took me a second to realise it’s Winnie! Lol.

  2. Sorry Jen I know this is off topic but this is the only way I can contact you. I am trying to start a more clean diet and incorporate exercise do you have any tips? I watch old or new long vlogs while on the treadmill. Thanks and you are so inspirational.Hope you enjoy the new year!

    1. Starting a new habit takes discipline for sure. I like to ease myself into new patterns. Being successful motivates me to continue on. If you’ve ever seen the movie What About Bob – one of my favorite quotes from that is “Baby steps to the elevator…” – Taking baby steps is a great way to get the ball rolling on changing behavior, at least in my experience!

  3. HI JEN! I just wanted to wish you and Don “Happy Birthday”! Hope your birthday was fun, enjoyable and relaxing! Will you be posting a birthday haul on TBBB? I sent you a b’day message on Instagram but I don’t know if you received it? Thanks for the blog post, I found it inspirational and helpful.

  4. Hey Jen,
    to avoid white rice to be sticky you need to wash it with cold water after is boiled. Just in the sink, when you’re rinsing it, open the cold water and wash it 🙂 I hope Winny get better soon, I had a dog for 16 years (:() and he used to have this kind of problem periodically. Definitely, don’t worry!

  5. I love winter time too! for the same reasons as you do. No reason to hide it!
    I think alot more folks than you might think Also love wintertime too.
    I do think that folks that HAVE to drive in it or use that maybe have to rely on unreliable public transportation might find the winter cold and ice not quite as delightful. and that we all can all understand. But that aside, I say …let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I think it’s totally ok to admit that 🙂
    re my winter FAV THING TO DO: I live on the east coast, I have a place in the city near Georgetown, I use a modern mini fireplace – it’s gorgeous! There is a flame going the moment I get home from work. And on any given wintery night, I’m fire side with my boyfriend, and a glass of wine (I received a case of Miraval for Christmas, the rosé from Brad Pitt & Angelina vineyard that was voted top in the country, its soooo good:); we have the faux fur throw out, and we just nest. cozy by the fire. cooking and eating good food. Drinking good wine. and sharing good company.

  6. Where did you get the paw pads for Winnie? I have a Morkie that is roughly Winnie’s size that could use them, boots never stay on her either 🙂 I also would LOVE to see more about your workouts & nutrition that you mentioned in the video 🙂 I’m so glad Winnie is feeling better!

  7. In November 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. As a busy mom of three, peace, quiet and relaxation were pretty foreign concepts to me. 🙂 While I would never suggest someone needs to be ill to learn how to slow down, there are blessings to be found in all circumstances. One of my biggest is that is life is much sweeter when you take time to actually enjoy it, instead of constantly rushing, both physically and mentally, from one thing to the next. Just being still is a gift!

  8. Very insightful and well said. I am at a point of not enjoying winter (especially this one!) I remember years where I couldn’t wait for it to snow so my brother and I could jump in the car after school and go skiing. I used to love to make snowmen and go sledding. Now that I’m older, life is just so busy and I find the cold and snow a nuisance to completing my everyday tasks..

  9. My question/request is a little off the week in review topic but I was wondering if you have a video, or a blog post about why you journal, what you journal, what you get from keeping a journal? I’ve kept a journal for a few years and I just get curious as to why other people keep them. Looks like you had a wonderful week. I enjoyed the video and the little haul at the end. I noticed some folks were complaining about the length, I thought it was perfect. I enjoy longer videos. I normally watch the while I am completing other tasks.

    1. Right now I keep a gratitude journal which I write in every day and a diary-like journal which I usually write in about every couple of weeks. My diary is a tool I use when I’m working through something emotionally. I find that writing it out helps to bring clarity.

  10. Hi Jen! Just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying you’re new video routine. I look forward to all your videos but especially your weekly vlog updates. I tell everyone I’m visiting my youtube friend 🙂 I must admit after living in Texas most of my life, I’m not a big fan of cold weather. I usually want to just stay inside. I do enjoy hot chocolate, though. And I enjoy crocheting more in the winter for some reason. I’ve been thinking about learning to knit and you have inspired me to give it a try. Best wishes to you and your “pack”

  11. The shawl that you made your Grandma looked lovely. You have motivated me to get back into knitting and finishing one of my projects I started a while ago and then stopped. Once I finish the project I am currently knitting I am going to make a shawl following the same pattern you used.

    Hope you have fun knitting more projects. Can’t wait to see them when you finish 🙂

  12. I don’t know if your vet mentioned other options or not. When Aries (boxer/terrier mix) gets sick, our vet said chicken noodle soup is as good as rice and boiled chicken. Plain yogurt is great too. Aries got sick after the flea/tick/worm combo med the vet was giving us, and it took awhile to work out that was the problem. So we went through a few months of boiled chicken, chicken noodle soup, and yogurt. Even now when she gets an upset tummy, we go with it for a day or two to give her system a break. I thought the noodle soup might be easier for Winnie especially with the noodles soaking up the chicken flavor too. (Just in case.)

    Glad she is feeling better.

    Now off to go look at those Pawz things for Aries. She doesn’t seem to like the snow on her little feet.

  13. I just wanted to put in my “two cents” about your new vlogging schedule. I would really like to see a vlog twice a week, which would include a little more of your daily routine. I feel like we aren’t seeing enough of your day. However, I understand why you have switched to weekly vlogs. I am sure it is much less work. If that’s the way it needs to be, then I will take what I can get! 🙂 A once weekly vlog is much better than none at all!

    Also miss seeing Don in your vlogs. I really enjoy a quick mention of what he is cooking for the day.

    I enjoy watching anything you post! Have a great week!! 🙂

    1. I forgot to mention, I would love to see a video about how you organize photos. As soon as you mentioned helping your mother-in-law, I thought that would be a great idea for a video. I really need to organize my printed photos, as well as digital ones.

  14. Hi Jen,

    Happy belated birthday to you and Don and all the best to Winnie. Thoroughly enjoyed this blogpost and your weekly vlog. I love the format ,and if it’s better for you, then it’s okay by me. As for winter, I love it. When I was younger, I loved the summer. But now I look forward to Fall, and cannot wait until the first snow; and we had plenty of it here in Indiana. One of my favorite things to do is to slow down. Since we get dark earlier now, I’ve cut out all the unnecessary running around that I do in the evenings when its lighter out. I also eat lighter, prep for bed earlier, and relax with candles and books before bed. And my favorite is to just sit quietly and watch the snow fall. Its one of the most beautiful and peaceful things. And I feel honored to be able to see it. It’s almost as if the rhythm of the snow is saying slow down and relax.

    1. Heat up 1 cup of milk on stove until it just starts to bubble around the edges, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tsp matcha powder & sweetener to taste and whisk until frothy. Enjoy 🙂

  15. Love your wisdom and your learning from the seasons and Winnie. I think it is delightful to get for a daily walk. Most days I walk indoors at the gym but this year I also started a morning walk outdoors. I don’t have a dog but carry my ‘good’ coffee for the day. That’s when I do my meditation for the day….gratitude , deep breathing and surrender to a higher power, letting go of whatever needs to be gone for that day. I have found it to be delightful and quite addicting.:-).

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