The Day We Got a Corgi

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Today is a very special day. This is the anniversary of the day we brought little baby Joey home. (Edit: Yesterday was the very special day. I’ve come down with a nasty bug that hindered all productivity yesterday, including this post.)

Mr. B and I spent the better part of a year weighing the pros and cons of getting a puppy. Some days it was the best idea ever, and other days we considered the responsibilities of puppy training and thought “nah, better not”. We researched breeds, scoured rescue shelter websites, and talked about the joys and messes that another dog would bring into our lives.

Mr. B fell in love with Corgis, and after considerable research, we decided a stubby little herding dog would be a perfect fit for us. Still, we weren’t sure we were ready for the commitment of adding another dog to our busy, on-the-go lifestyle. It wasn’t until the beginning of last year that we were once again perusing tricolor Corgis on the internet, that Mr. B declared that was what he wanted for his upcoming birthday: a puppy. I didn’t give it much thought, he’d been making similar declarations for a year, and the dedication to this particular decision never lasted very long. This time was different, though. The next morning, the first words out of Mr. B’s mouth were “I’m getting a puppy!” Holy crap, I realized, he’s for real this time.

And so, it was an unseasonably warm Sunday in January when Mr. B and I made the three-and-a-half hour journey to visit a Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeder. As we pulled into her driveway, the breeder stood on the stoop holding the puppy that we immediately fell in love with. From the moment we met him, Joey stole our hearts. He was friendly, sweet and playful, not to mention so stinkin’ cute! We couldn’t believe no one had snatched him up yet – so we did just that. We loaded him in the car and brought him home. (And took about 3,937,569,348 grainy phone pictures of him.)

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Over the last year, Joey has brought so much joy to our lives. He is the happiest, kindest, friendliest soul, and I can’t imagine our little family without him in it. Bringing home a new puppy is a huge commitment, but even with all of the chewing, the dog hair, the obeying-commands-only-when-he-feels-like-it, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. The love I have for this fuzzy little creature is at crazy-obsessive levels. HE’S JUST SO CUTE.

Thanks for making us smile, Joey. We love ya, little buddy!

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This is Only a Starting Point

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I’m not where I want to be. Mentally, physically, emotionally – this is not where I want to be.

I ended 2013 with such optimism for the year ahead. After all, this is the year I marry my hunky homeboy. We’ve decided to build a life together and we get to celebrate that decision – and the love behind it – with our nearest and dearest.  In freaking MEXICO. How could 2014 not rock?!

Welp. So far, it hasn’t rocked. It’s done the opposite of rocking, actually.

Yesterday, I was reading a post that Ashten wrote about facing her weight and her choices and making some changes to get where she wants to be. It’s a great post. Go read it; be inspired. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Did you catch the part where she said she left the doctors’ office with a “starting point”?  She decided that her current situation isn’t just something she doesn’t like, it’s something to be improved upon. It’s a place to begin moving forward onto better things. That really stuck with me. Because you know what? I’m at a starting point, too – I just hadn’t looked at it that way. And now that I am looking at it in that light, I’m much more excited about my world and all that lay ahead of me.

It’s time to make some changes. I need to do some serious purging in almost every area of my life; I need to figure out what I’m keeping, shine it up with appreciation and care, then I pick up some new goodness to add to the mix. It’s a daunting task, one that has felt like it is lurking over my head. Until I read the words “starting point”.

It’s such an optimistic idea. A starting point isn’t just where you begin; it’s something you launch from. You leave it behind, and burst onto better things. Sometimes, a starting point is left behind you in a cloud of dust. Other times, you slowly, methodically venture away from it. But no matter what, you take a step that moves you away from the starting point. Then another step. And another. Eventually, the starting point is so far behind you that you can barely see it through the fog of your own progress. So a crappy place is never really that bad after all; you just need to start seeing it as your starting point.

As the journey progresses, you remember the starting point. You know the feel, the taste, the smell of the starting point, but you also know that you can never truly go back there. Even if you can physically return, you will never again be the person you were when you were standing on brink of more. The steps you’ve taken to move forward have changed you; you’ve grown. You’ve changed.

The starting point is filled with doubt, fear and uncertainty. Can I really do this? Must I? Maybe I shouldn’t? It is also filled with hope, possibility, and a drive unlike any other. I can do this. I will do this. I know how to get there, and I’m going to fight like hell. The road is clear before you. The steps are well-defined, if not smooth or easy. The starting point is filled with a very specific desire to move forward.

So, I am at a starting point. Several, if you want to get specific about it. I am moving forward. Away from what isn’t working, and onto something better. I am moving away from what is defeating me, and away from the person I do not want to be any longer. I am not trapped by past choices, traditions that no longer fit, a misguided sense of loyalty, or the expectations of others. I will step away from what is dragging me down, because after all, this is only a starting point.

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Defeated

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I’m an optimistic, positive person. I really do try my best to see the bright side, the silver lining, and all that other happy bullshit.

I do. I promise.

But this is not going to be a cheerful, upbeat, I-love-life kind of post. Come back tomorrow if you are looking for a half-full glass. My glass today is filled with Ketel One (dirty, up, 4 stuffed olives – in case you were wondering), and while it’s nearly full at the moment, we are barreling toward empty at a mind-boggling pace.

2014 sucks. We are only six days into it, and I am not impressed. It has been chock-full of disappointment. Some of the disappointment has been expected (though no less disappointing), and some of it has been so rough and unforeseen that it knocked the wind out of me. The kind of shocking disappointment that leaves you gasping for breath as you lose all control of your tear ducts. The kind that makes you ugly cry. Repeatedly.

My family has let me down in unimaginable ways, all to pacify someone who hasn’t been honest with them. They have hurt me in ways I could never fathom because they are being manipulated by someone so whose self-centered, cold nature continues to astound me. Based on past experience with this person, I can only imagine that there are lies being told which I will never be able to guess, let alone correct.

I am not hurt by the instigator. I am not shocked by them. I am not grieving the loss of their support or unconditional love, because I never truly believed it was there. I am, however, blown away by the reach they have. By the family members who let me down because of this person. I am heartbroken by the people I thought were my biggest supporters, my most loyal allies, my steady supply of strength. I am discouraged that they could be convinced to abandon me when I want and need them by my side the most.

There is no bright side to this, no light at the end of this particular tunnel.

I am defeated.

Deflated.

Tomorrow I will pick myself back up. I will stand up, forge ahead, and I will enjoy every moment of a beautiful, amazing experience that I will cherish for years to come. But tonight I will collapse into the strong, steady arms of my love. I will cry an ugly, ravaging cry while he strokes my hair and calls on karma to right the wrong. I will let the grief and disappointment invade my body until I am consumed with sleep. Tonight I will give into the hurt, the pain, the unbearable betrayal. I will just feel it; that is all I can do right now.

Tomorrow will be brighter, but tonight I am defeated.

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I Feel Fluffy. And Blah. Mostly Blah.

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My wedding dress has arrived.

About a month and half earlier than anticipated.

I got a call from the bridal shop last week that it came in early, and they are ready for me to come for my first fitting. But instead of joy, overwhelming excitement, and all that wonderful bride-y flutter, my first reaction was “Uh, thanks. Maybe later.”

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to marry Mr. B. I adore my gown. The ladies at the bridal shop were beyond wonderful, so it’s not like I’m avoiding them. So why wasn’t I rushing out the door to see what is arguably the most monumental article of clothing I will ever wear?

I joked that between my trip to New Orleans and all the Thanksgiving food, I’d eaten too much and was in no rush to try to squeeze into my dress. It’s true, I suppose. My clothes are a little snug these days and I am afraid the dress won’t exactly fit like a dream. But that’s not the whole story.

I’ve been eating like crap. I’m still not eating a ton of junk food, but I’m not eating the things that make me feel good. Lean protein and veggies? Sure, if someone else wants to cook it. No? I’m on my own? Ok then, Thanksgiving leftovers it is! I ate all of those? That’s cool. Pasta is cheap and easy. Basically, I’ve been carbo-loading for the last 2 weeks. Except, without the major athletic event. So I feel fluffy. Fluffy like all the mashed potatoes smothered in gravy that I’ve consumed in the last few weeks.

I’ve also been getting less exercise. I don’t work out in the typical way – I don’t go to the gym, or even really utilize the NordicTrack (remember those?!) in the basement. I’m busy, always on the move. Between the farm work and the boat and hiking with the dogs and horseback riding, I use my body. A lot. Except…it’s winter so there’s not a ton of work to do around the farm, and I’m not really up for leaving the warmth and comfort of the house these days. And since Mr. B still refuses to let me bring Sally in the house, I’m doing a lot less of the keep-me-moving stuff that I normally do. 

Slacking on the exercise + carbs + salt + butter = a fluffy Nikki.

This isn’t about my size or weight or dress size though. This is about how I feel. I feel sluggish. I feel bloated. I feel tired. I feel BLAH. And that’s the real problem.

I’m not concerned about how I look (though, let’s be honest, I don’t love the extra chunk protruding from the top of my jeans), I’m mostly concerned about how I feel. I don’t feel good. I feel lethargic, slow, and foggy. I know it’s my own fault, I don’t feel the way I want to feel. And I’ve realized, I don’t want that feeling anywhere near my wedding dress. May 10, 2014 is going to be a magical day, and I don’t want that blah feeling – or anything associated with it – anywhere in sight. So I don’t want to slip into that gown until I feel better in my own skin, until I feel better about my body and how I treat it and what it is capable of.

Yes, my face is a little rounder, my thighs are a smidge closer to one another, and my midsection is a little softer than it was a few months ago, but I don’t doubt that I will be able to zip the dress up. I do doubt is that I will feel good in it, and I don’t want to feel like anything less than a million bucks when I put it on . Even in the fitting room of a bridal shop, 3,000 miles and 6 months away from my wedding. I’ll brave the cold more often and take the time to make healthier meals. I’ll get back to me. And then I’ll go for my fitting, and it will be fabulous.

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The Big Easy (and Other Rambles)

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I hope you weren’t coming here today to read something wise or heartfelt or deep and intellectual, because I’m about to ramble for a bit. Mostly about New Orleans.

1// I’m going to New Orleans on Thursday! My super-amazing, generous, wonderful, fabulous best friend surprised me with a last-minute bachelorette celebration. We’re going to the Big Easy for 3 days and I’M PUMPED. There will only be a few of us since not many people could skip town with barely two weeks notice, but I think I like it better that way. Small groups are easier to manage, especially when you are traveling.

When Jess and I get together, it is always a blast. I have no doubt that this trip will be another raging good time.

When Jess and I get together it is ALWAYS a blast. I have no doubt that this trip will be another raging good time.

2// I’m not 22 anymore, so last minute trips aren’t quiiite as easy to swing these days. (Because, you know, I actually have a life and a few responsibilites now. Effin’ adulthood.) So naturally, I have a ton to do and very little time to do it in. Whatevs, I got this. And don’t worry, I’ve got some awesome guests stopping by to post for me while I’m gone!

3// Going to New Orleans for the weekend means missing Joey’s first birthday, which is on Friday. I know, I know…WORST FUR-MOM IN THE HISTORY OF FUR-MOMS. I promised to make it up to him when I get back. I’ve already found him an adorable party hat and I plan to make him some homemade peanut butter doggie treats to nom on before Mr. B and I take him to Petsmart so he can pick out a new toy.

4// I’m finding myself wayyy too concerned about things that aren’t actually problems these days. Like the fact that I won’t be here to feed Mr. B for three days. Why am I worried about this? The man is almost 30 years old. He’s not going to starve to death if I leave him unattended. And all the preemptive grocery shopping in the world won’t stop him from eating nothing but quesadillas and Nutri-grain bars while I’m away. Like I said, things that aren’t actually problems. I need to worry about actual problems, like the laundry that I’ve been putting off for far too long. We are running out of underbritches.

5// My WordPress Android app won’t let me respond to comments on the blog. It’s frustrating the crap out of me. Does anyone else have this problem, or does my phone just hate me? I think it’s time for a new phone. Too bad I’m not eligible for an upgrade for another year. Womp womp.

6//It’s embarrassing how much I am looking forward to eating on this trip. I love trying new foods and exploring local cuisine when I travel, but I’m ridiculously excited about what New Orleans has to offer. I can’t wait to eat all the food. Make me feel better and tell me I’m not the only one who gets like this. (Lie to me if you have to.)

7// Poor Daisie has dry skin, so I bought her wipes that promise to “soothe itch and pain” with a “bitter taste that stops licking and chewing”. I just tried them out, and good news- they work. She stopped chewing her little legs immediately. A few minutes later I forgot all about it and touched my mouth. I know why they work so well, and I can’t get the AWFUL taste out of my mouth. Maybe you should have washed your hands, dumbass.

8// The beautiful Amber over at Mr. Thomas and Me has a little giveaway going on right now. If you haven’t entered already, you should go check that out.

So yeah, that’s what is going on in my head right now. What’s new in your world? Has anyone ever been to New Orleans? Any tips or suggestions?

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The Thankful Project {A Room}

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I am thankful for my home office.

That’s odd, right? But I am really grateful for it. It’s my little space. I’m grateful to have a work area all of my own, and I’m thankful to have a man like Mr. B who was thoughtful enough to give it to me.

When Mr. B and I began the huge project of renovating the interior of our home, we discussed the changes we would make in every room. When the subject of the home office came up, he told me it was mine and that I should make it a nice little work space for myself. I protested at first. After all, it was our home, he should have a say and feel comfortable in there too, right? But he insisted that I take it and make it my own. He wanted me to have a place to write and create and just do my thing.

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Sadly, I can’t find any “before” photos of the office. Trust me though, it was a mess. Dingy, scuffed up white walls and stained, trampled green carpet. It was kinda gross. We ripped out the carpet and replaced it with hardwood floors. I painted the walls a soft gray, which ended up being a light grayish-purple that I love more than I would have expected. I painted the doors and baseboards a crisp white, refinished the doorknobs and hardware, and started hunting down furniture and decor.

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I’m still searching for wall art, but other than that, I’m pretty pleased with my little office. We found this desk at a flea market for $75. It is quite possibly the heaviest piece of furniture ever made. And those drawers are the full length of the desk, which means I have lots of great storage. All I had to do was polish it up and refinish the ugly gold knobs.

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This chest belonged to my great grandmother. I’m not sure I love it’s placement yet, but it has such sentimental value that it will most definitely have a place in my office (or perhaps at the foot of our bed??), even if it is missing a knob.

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The lamp on my desk used to sit on my mother’s nightstand when she was a child. I painted it pink and put a new shade on it, so it no longer looks like it’s fresh out of 1974.

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I also revamped an old chair, an old nightstand, and a wicker trash bin with a little bit of paint. (I like color, can you tell?)

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My office isn’t all mine though, I currently share it with Joey.

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I don’t mind though. He’s got a cute photo-bombing butt.

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I love this room. It’s mine. I’ve made it my own and decorated it to reflect my style. It’s my space to write, create, and do what I love. (And, sometimes, pay bills.) But it is so much more than that. It’s a space that Mr. B wanted me to have. He wanted to make sure I had a place in our home that was my own. He replaced the flooring and hauled in the world’s heaviest desk. He wanted me to have a space where I could do what I love, and I love him for that.

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The Thankful Project {Something I Was Taught}

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I remember a short conversation I had with my father when I was a child. I don’t remember how old I was or any other details about that day, but the words he spoke are crystal-clear in my mind.

In typical whiny, small child fashion, I had asked my dad “why do you have to go to work?”

His reply: “I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work.”

I barely understood his meaning at the time, but those words have stuck with me. That one simple sentence has lingered in my mind, as a verbal representation of a lesson he taught me through his actions every single day: Find something you love to do, and do it with everything you have.

My dad has worked in the car business my entire life. He’s had different roles, titles, responsibilities, and customer bases along the way, but one thing has always been constant for me: my dad sells cars. I’ve always known – even if I wasn’t really aware – that he loves what he does. And that the satisfaction he gets from spending his days doing something he truly enjoys makes him great at his job.

He hasn’t always been in the business; he dabbled in other trades before finding his niche. It was such an odd thing to learn as a kid, that dad used to do something else. I’ve realized that this wasn’t odd to me simply because it was different from what I knew, it was odd because I can’t imagine my father finding such joy and satisfaction in any other career.

It was such an important lesson to wrap my head around. I don’t recall him ever lecturing my brother and I on the importance of doing what we love, in fact, I don’t remember him saying much about it at all. Instead, he showed us every day. As I’ve come to understand all that it means, I’ve noticed how true it is in my own life. I do my best work when I’m truly happy with what I’m doing. I’m happiest in all aspects of my life when I enjoy how I spend the bulk of my day.

So, Daddy, thank you. I know I haven’t said it enough, but I appreciate all that you did for us every day. You did so much more than put food on the table and a roof over our heads. You taught me a very important lesson, one that, sadly, too few people ever learn. Sure, the paycheck matters, but we need to spend our lives doing what makes us happy. If we are going to spend most of our hours, days, weeks, years doing something, shouldn’t it bring us joy?

Because of you, I know how important it is to be able to say: “I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work.”

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Ladies, Meet Booger…er…Roger

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First of all, let me say THANK YOU for all of the amazing love and support you guys sent my way after yesterday’s post. Seriously, my heart is bursting after all of your thoughtful emails and comments. I haven’t had a chance to respond to many of them yet, but I have read them all and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.

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Mr. B has a good friend/coworker whom we adore. We call him Booger. He gets all “Really, Nik. Booger? Come on.” every time I introduce him to people as “Booger”, but sorry dude, that’s what I know you as. It would be weird to call you Roger even though that’s your name.

So for the sake of not getting yelled at, let’s start over. Ladies, meet Roger.

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Mr. B and Roger (dude, that is so weird) were working together today. On their way home, they stopped at Lowe’s so that Mr. B could pick up some supplies for this never-ending project. While there, Booger…GAH…Roger decided to grab some chain for his new boat anchor. He was assisted by a lovely young lady who caught his eye.

I’m told that the pretty miss and Roger made “googly eyes” at one another the whole time, and I’m left to assume that “googly eyes” is a Boogerism for flirting. When they left the store, the guys called me to get my opinion on what was shaping up to be a very important debate. Since he didn’t get the pretty girl’s phone number (or, as best I can tell, even introduce himself), Booger Roger wanted to know if it was cute or creepy to send flowers (3 yellow roses) with a little “thank you for cutting me a piece of chain” note with his phone number. Mr. B voted that it was a little creepy, and Roger wanted a second opinion. Plus, he knew I won’t hesitate to tell him when he’s being a bit of a creeper.  I told him I’d do one better and put it out into blogland for him as an informal poll.

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To help you decide if it’s a creepy or cute move, here’s the information I was able to collect from my conversation with Mr. B and Roger as they left the home improvement store:

  • She was not wearing a ring;
  • she “eyed him up” from another aisle before assisting him;
  • the flowers would need to be sent to her place of employment, as this is the only way he knows to contact her;
  • there was a brief moment where he may or may not have gotten caught checking out her, umm, top shelf;
  • “She was so pretty. Like naturally pretty. She wasn’t wearing any makeup and didn’t need it. She’s the kind of girl I would be proud to introduce to my mom.”

Mr. B thought the poor girl might be creeped out by his gesture, while I think her reaction will depend on whether or not she was into him. (If she thought he was a hottie, she’ll find it adorable. If she saw him as just another customer, it might be a little creepy.) And personally, as someone who does not appreciate being the center of attention – like, AT ALL – I would not like getting flowers from a stranger in front of all of my coworkers. But that’s just me, and I’m fully aware that not everyone shares my aversion to that kind of attention, so she may love such a public overture. Plus, it’s the only way he knows to reach her, and such grand gestures are sweet.

So tell me ladies, is Roger’s idea to send the helpful Lowe’s sales associate three yellow roses and a short note creepy or adorable? (Be honest, he’s a good sport.)

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*It’s probably worth noting that he went ahead and sent her flowers and the note before asking for anyone’s opinion. His phone call to me and this resulting poll were an afterthought, likely spurred by Mr. B’s “really, dude??” reaction. So I’ll keep you guys updated as to how this all plays out.

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A Change Is Brewing, but I Am Hopeful

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I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. Not sure what to say, or how to say it. Not entirely sure I wanted to say anything at all.

But I do want to talk about it. It has been pulsing gently in the back of my brain every time I sit down to write. I feel like it has dampened my mood and spirit, and I’m afraid of the toll that it is taking on my writing. I fear that the tone of my blog has changed ever so slightly. Maybe it hasn’t, really. It’s possible that I am the only one who sees any change, but still…I want to get it out. To share.

My parents – after 30+ years of marriage, two kids, one house, and a handful of Labrador Retrievers – are divorcing.

And while it does suck for so many reasons, at the very heart of the issue, I support this decision. I’m ok with it. I really, truly am – probably more than you would expect a child to be.

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Of course I’m sad. I’m sad for the end of their union. I’m sad that my parents, for the first time in my life, will relate to my brother and I as individuals, instead of the unit we’ve always known. I’m sad for my brother, who is closer to the nucleus of this whole ordeal. I’m sad for the parent who didn’t ask for this change, but who must muddle through it anyway. I’m sad to say goodbye to life as I’ve known it for 28 years. It weighs heavy on my heart and mind.

But I am hopeful. I know there is a beautiful life waiting for both of them in this next chapter. I am certain that they will thrive in this new unknown. We all have to learn to exist in this new reality, but I have hope that we will be better, stronger, and happier for it.

I love my parents, and I want them to be happy. I can honestly say that I see them both being happier, stronger people when they emerge on the other side of this mess. First, though, we have to get through the mess.

So, if it seems like my head isn’t always in the game, forgive me, please. My world is in a bit of a transition.

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A Role I Play {The Thankful Project – November 2}

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This month, I am joining Kenzie for The Thankful Project. It won’t be everyday, but I will be following these writing prompts to talk about the many things in my life that bring me a feeling of gratitude. Today we are talking about how thankful we are for a role that we play…

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Unearthing recipes, new and old. Making the grocery list. Clipping coupons. Scanning the aisles and filling the grocery cart. Stocking the pantry, the refrigerator, the spice cabinet. Planning meals. Preparing each dish. Baking, grilling, stirring, boiling, mixing, kneading, seasoning – in our home, I do it all.

It’s one role that I play in our little family; it’s what I do for us.

It never ends. We will always need to eat. Some days it feels like a dreaded chore. Really? I have to go grocery shopping again? I need to make another dinner? Ugh. I have “better” things to do, other items on my list that are vying for my time and attention, and sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing it.

Other days, I love it. The planner in me loves making lists, organizing meals, and searching for deals and discounts. The wanna-be chef in me loves trying new recipes and playing in the kitchen. The foodie in me loves to eat, sip, taste, savor.

No matter my mood, I do it with pride. It is an important role that I play, and it is about so much more than food and cooking. I plan our week, manage a budget, run the errands. I provide the comfort of a warm meal to the man I love at the end of his hard day. I make decisions about the healthy options in the cupboard, the delectable treats in the candy jar. I show my love through these choices, through the work that I do in the kitchen, both at the stove, armed with olive oil and fresh vegetables, and at the counter, armed with a calendar and a calculator.

It is only one role I play, one hat I wear of many. I do it for love, for our family, to help and to provide. It is an important role and one for which I am profoundly grateful.

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