Consuming or Creating? Choose Daily.

10 May

I think I broke about three molars when I was pregnant with my fourth and fifth children.  My need to crunch ice is a more reliable indicator of pregnancy than a positive test.  I go from zero to get-me-an-ice-rink at the moment of conception, and it does not stop until I pull up the mesh undies.  Maybe it was an iron deficiency, so I turned to liver meatballs, (actually quite good!).  Upside = calorie-free snacking option.  Down side = broken teeth. 

Why why why someone did not buy me an Opal nugget maker, I will never know.   (FYI the ice machine is about the best maternity gift you can give an expectant mother.)  Instead I had to chew on the huge, superfrozen hunks that my big machine dumped out every hour, and yes.  The ice drawer ran out every day.

This is a really dumb anecdote to say that I am not used to

having to go without what I want (ice),
when I want it (every minute),
even if it is bad for me (I can no longer eat popcorn without pain on teeth numbers 2, 15, & 16 respectively). 


 

It’s not a groundbreaking statement to say that we’re in an era of unprecedented consumption–often with no concern for personal hazard.  I’m talking everything: food and drink, social media, streaming TV and movies, grocery delivery, Audible, Amazon, me-time, all of it.  We don’t even have to go a day without the right kind of ice anymore! 

Right in the comfort of our own homes, we have access to everything.  We just sop it all up, right now.  Sometimes I end a day of hours of mindless consumption and wonder, “Am I dumber today?!” 

The very process of consuming is inherently addictive.  We keep coming back for more.  It puts us into a mindset and a cycle of fear that we will miss something if we don’t continue looking under every rock to see what we can get.  We look and search and then strive to consume.  Consume.  Consume.   Is it fear of missing out on the next morsel?  It definitely points out our hardwired, innate “me-first.” 

All this time spent consuming squanders time we could be creating.

 


 

My sister got me really thinking about all this when she wrote about it a few weeks ago:

 How many moms (or dads, for that matter) are baking bread? How many of us sit at a piano and sing? And lord knows, I have no business holding a needle and thread. But the more I pondered the suggestions, the more I realized how few opportunities I get in my day to simply create.

Instead, I spend a lot of my time consuming. I go to coffee shops and order food to eat that someone else prepared. I watch television. I listen to podcasts. I scroll through the news. And social media. I scroll and scroll. And scroll. Most of the time, I am a consumer.

For much of human history, culture encouraged and life necessitated creativity. Elite classes were tutored in  painting, music, singing and sewing. Even the poorest Americans cooked their own food, built their own furniture, hung their own laundry out to dry. Kids built forts and created little universes in their imaginations while playing House or Store or School. 

Creativity is a practice in leadership. 

Now, we look for others to follow, simultaneously envying and imitating their success.

clairegibson.com

 


 

Does over-consumption rob us of some of our humanity?  When we consume more than we create, are we missing out on an essential piece of our purpose here on this beautiful planet?  I believe that we were made to create.  It is one of the privileges of being God’s image-bearers.  Creativity may even be requisite for feeling valid, significant, effective, feeling alive.  


 

As an army spouse, a multimom, and especially while living abroad in a remote duty location, I’ve had the opportunity to take a very sober look at my day-to-day existence.  I don’t have a career to fill my time.  Watching after the small children is really mundane.  Living outside of my normal society has isolated me.  All 3 of these things meshed into a perfect storm of emptiness and sometimes despondency (shameful admission) as I try to make each day feel like it mattered. 

In an effort to escape, or in the name of convenience, I consume.  But it doesn’t scratch the itch–I want more to show for all this.  

Meaning is found in creativity; i.e. creating.  Creativity does not have to mean innovation.  It just means putting your hand to something, and having something to show for it.  I am brainstorming and here is a very short list of ideas.

  • Scratch your child’s back
  • Painting fingernails
  • Piece together and consolidating 5 outfits–hang them in the closet so that they are ready to go
  • Make love, in the truest meaning of the phrase.  
  • Handwrite a note or a journal entry
  • Make an old recipe/Try a new recipe
  • Exercise (this creates the 10 physical skills)
  • Take a walk on a new route
  • Host a small gathering around your table.
  • Read aloud to someone
  • Plant seeds

here is Claire’s list: 

  • Bake something to give to the neighbors
  • Pull out an instrument you used to play, or learn to play one
  • Write something that you don’t share
  • Take photographs on a real camera, instead of on your phone. Print them out.
  • Read a book (preferably a paper one).* (I call this creativity, because it requires imagination, rather than simple consumption. And since reading is a creative endeavor, I imagine that’s why reading rates have gone down. Consuming is easier)
  • Rearrange the furniture in your house
  • Create a new game to play with your spouse
  • Tell a story that you invent, rather than reading from a children’s book

Some are small, some are more substantial/time consuming.  Some are simply everyday activities–therefore, we don’t really count them as doing anything special.  That’s inaccurate.  A lot of the boring stuff in your day is actually creativity, and you’ll see its value if you purposefully take notice…

It is for human touch.
It’s for authentic experience.
It’s for spiritual connection.
It’s for progress.  

 


 

There is a pressing need to model this kind creativity for our children to compel them forward into their own creativity.  

There is no program for this, no scheme to buy into.  Just go.  Creating is moving forward.  Don’t consume, put forth.   

How are you putting your hands back into creative pursuits? 

Thanks for pointing this out to me, Claire.  

 


 

spontaneous tea party

teach your kids to make dinner rolls…recipe to follow 🙂

Interact with Creation…spend time in 3D world

4 Books that Made Me Better in 2018

29 Apr

As much as I would like to think that spending my free time lying down and bingewatching Southern Charm makes me a better wife, mother, and citizen, I am pretty sure all the hours I have logged gorging on everything Bravo has not actually progressed me as a person.  That much.  It has made me keenly aware, however, that there is a big difference between a botoxed 37-year-old and an everyday, organic 37 year old.  😦

Don’t hang up!  Don’t click away just because you just found out that I’m 37.  Slash basic.  Don’t be shallow like me!

So, anyway. 🙂 I took some time to read this spring.  Not because I wanted to become a better person. But because our VPN setup was detected and disabled by UK’s media police…hence I got permanently cut off from Bravo.  (You can’t stream that amazingness outside of the USA no matter how hard you try.  And no matter how hard your husband tries for you.)

So books it was. 

In all honesty, I have poured over all four of these titles in the past few months.  They’ve sharpened me, made me feel more professional, and brought me up to speed in areas that actually matter–I hope they can help you as well.  


 

Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer’s Rethinking School is a must-read (or audible download) for American parents of school-aged children. 

Empower yourself to help shape and personalize your child’s education—read this now!

The five-section book covers:

  • how our current K-12 system came to be
  • how to best make the system fit your child
  • ideas for creating solutions for when it’s not a good fit
  • advice for parents whose children may be dealing with disabilities, bullying, maturity differences, and giftedness
  • how standardized testing may legally be declined (though the system doesn’t advertise it)
  • how to choose reasonable alternatives for one or more subjects that are not working

SWB has been my education guru for the past 8 years.  (She also wrote The Well-Trained Mind, The Story of the World, and The Story of Western Science.)  This is her latest work, it is pure brilliance.  

We have no idea how much power and freedoms we enjoy in the United States 🇺🇸 to make the system work for us.  Our schools exist to serve the students, not the other way around.  

If Susan Wise Bauer is reading this, the invitation to tea in the Cotswolds still stands.  🙂

 


 

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper PlaceAndy Crouch.

Keeping technology in its proper place is a necessary discipline for every person, not just the kids.  This is the playbook for how to navigate the buffet of technological temptations that inundate our children.    

Andy Crouch has done the research for you, he laid out all the statistics on technology use in our society.  He reminds us how technology can bring us together and be used for the greater good, but that instant gratification and entertainment can not replace the harder work of developing our minds, hearts and souls.  

He points out how to put various boundaries on technology in order to keep our children engaged in “3-D world” as much as possible. 

This work is full of ideas and concepts to help create a family culture that we love.  It’s written from a Christian perspective, so not all his points will apply to everyone.  However, the wisdom Andy lays out will resonate with people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds. 

This leads me to the next great book–the antidote to our technology-driven society:

 


 

The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah MacKenzie

Straight up, Sarah MacKenzie‘s writings/podcasts/blog posts have made me a better mother.  That’s a pretty big statement.  All of her work, everything she publishes, re-energizes me to lead my children toward truth, beauty and goodness. 

The Read-Aloud Family reveals how reading aloud prepares your children for academic success and develops compassion and empathy in your kiddos through stories.  It also addresses how to find time to read aloud, and how to choose titles that work best for your family.  It is full of fabulous book lists as well.  

One thing I have seen from personal experience which she underscores in the book: reading aloud doesn’t have to mean hours per day.  It can be peppered all around school, sports, and social schedules.  She actually encourages reading mere minutes per day–a five-minute portion is plenty to get the ritual established.

Growing young minds, being more present as a parent, and connecting closer as a family in five to ten minutes per day?  There’s not a better bang for your buck.  This is a life-changing (potentially world-changing) habit that needs to be revived in our culture.

 


 

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Ian Morgan Cron

Thank you to my friend Jen Hartney for pointing me to this one.

Turns out, reading a personality assessment in narrative form resonated with me far more than answering a questionnaire followed by a printout of my results. 

This book is worth a year’s fees of therapy and counseling.  

Look, I have been on the brink for a long time.  I have.  But when I read The Road Back to You, I realized something so amazing: I am not *completely* insane!  I am just a 4, which explains everything!  Oh, and that unnamed loved one is a 5, so I am not frustrated at them anymore!  And my husband the 9 godlovehim, he’s great too, and everything all makes sense now.  Most personality “flaws” are just behavioral manifestations of their particular type…not that the flaws are always acceptable, but it helps me to give out more mercy.

Revolutionary.

Self-awareness is crucial for mental and spiritual health.  “What you don’t know about yourself can hurt you– and your relationships.”  Do yourself, your family, and your friends a favor and find out who you are.  This book is such a wonderful tool for amassing this kind of wisdom.  Note: we had a hard time narrowing down a number for my mother.  She was on the line for a few different numbers.  After ruminating over it a few days, she landed on the one that best describes her. 

If you are not instantly sure which of the 9 types you are, it might take you some reflection to land on it.  I, however, am textbook–took me eight seconds to decipher myself.  

 


 

Alright, that’s it.  Have you read any of these?  Please share with us your most favorite bits of wisdom from them.
Thanks for stopping by!  

Leigh

 

CocoChocoChip Cookies

9 Mar

  IMG_9767

You know what?  Everything I do these days has to be very low mental energy.  I just don’t have it in me to get into anything complicated right now–especially in the kitchen.  If I see a recipe that has too many steps I pass it by immediately.  So when I came across this recipe, I was stoked: 7 ingredients + a wire whisk?

Quick, call the nearest kid.
Ask if they want to make cookies with me.
Grab a few mom-points for one-on-one interaction with a child.
Get a few more for letting child lick the bowl.
In a few hours: more points from the others who get to enjoy the cookies.
Cha ching. 

Win-Win-Win-are you seeing how many wins I am responsible for every day-Win-Win-Win.  Okay.  Did everyone get their win?  Good.  The entire day is now classified under “total success.”  Peace kids, I am going to lie down.


Before I proceed, let me remind you of Heather’s list of coconut flour’s health bennies:

  • No other flour comes close to its fiber content at 58%.
  • It has the lowest net carb count of any flour.
  • It’s mildly sweet.
  • It’s packed with healthy fats, particularly lauric acid to support immunity–the only other natural source aside from coconut based products rich in lauric acid is breast milk–now that should tell you something right there!
  • It’s mineral rich, particularly manganese to support bone health, thyroid function, nutrient absorption, the nervous system, and blood sugar balance.
  • It’s relatively inexpensive and requires smaller quantities per recipe.
  • It requires extra eggs for moisture which boosts the protein content of the final product. Great for balancing that macronutrient teeter-totter!

I got the recipe from here, and I wanted to make sure everyone knows about it, it’s a gem.  It will be on my regular rotation from now on.


Ingredients:

2/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 whole eggs
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life, or your preference!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together except the chocolate chips.  The batter will thicken as the coconut flour absorbs the moisture.  Stir in the chocolate chips. Makes 24 small cookies.  Use a spoon to drop the cookie dough onto baking sheet, and use your fingers to form them into balls, or to flatten them slightly.

Coconut flour products don’t spread like flour-based cookies, so you have to shape them the way you want them to turn out.  I like the look of “drop” cookies, but it might be because I am trying to go as fast as I can.  😉
Store in airtight container in fridge.  


Kid-approved

 


Make sure you check out a few of other yummy dessert recipes before you leave!  Thanks for stopping by!
Leigh 

Chocolatey Chocolate Muffins

Chocolatey Chocolate Muffins

strawberry muffins

Favorite Strawberrry Muffins

pumpkin spicecream

Pumpkin Spicecream


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