Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Torture

Tortured chihuahua

I think this photo speaks for itself, don't you?  (And yes, I did dress our chihuahua up as a squirrel.)

Squirrel dog

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Roller Derby

Oh yeah.  I'm doing it.  Got my first practice under my belt today, and I am hooked

Friday, October 29, 2010

Facing the Mirror

Happy Friday!  For most of you, that means the end of the work week.  For me, that means I teach hoop dance fitness tonight!

This will be the third class that I've taught, and I'm still feeling awkward and weird.  I suppose that's to be expected, though.  I mean, stick me in a hoop and a headset, plop me in a room lined with mirrors, and expect me to impart hoopy wisdom (or at the very least some learning) and insecurities are bound to arise.  Last week's class, however, was an improvement upon the first.  Two people came (instead of the awkward situation of a single student -- yikes!) and they were pretty excited about the whole thing.  It was quite fun!

After class was over, though, I decided to face my fears -- a.k.a. the mirrors.  I hooped and pranced about and used the mirrors to inform my movements, not to feel bad about my perceptions of my body.  In the end, some interesting things happened with the hoop that might not have otherwise.  Take that, mirror-fear!

How do you deal with mirrors?  Do you avoid them at all costs?  Schmooze with your reflection?  Love/hate/tolerate reflective surfaces?  Do tell!

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I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Depression

Yesterday I was poking around the internet, searching for a writing prompt to jump-start my brain.  I found this prompt from Writer's Digest:

Write a formal complaint letter to your deepest, darkest fear.

I don't know what exactly my "deepest, darkest fear" is, but I do know one aspect of my life that I'd really like to fire -- depression.  Here's my letter of termination:

Dear Depression,

I am writing to inform you that your services are no longer required. Your client -- well, let's not put too fine a point on it, for I am your client, your victim, your parasitic host -- I am displeased with the functions you have performed in my brain and am duly letting you go. Please have my synapses cleared by the end of the day.

Day 26 / Feeling battered
There is, I must admit, much to commend you. I do admire your work ethic, your diligence. Day in and out, and through each hour of the night, I find you toiling away. This high standard of performance, this nearly unbeatable productivity, does indeed set you above the rest. However, the fact still remains that your productivity is the drain down which my life, my essence, and my most basic cares are washed away anew each morning. You steal my days. You steal my very soul. Thanks to you, I no longer know who I am. My breath is willowy and cold, and I have forgotten what I love or like.

As a result, please consider yourself severed from this affiliation, effective immediately. There will be no redeeming, no second chances, no severance fee. We are finished. Although your work is quality, your work is also insidious and unredeeming. Even evil, some might say. So I say and, as head of this operation by name if not in actuality, I refuse to employee so dark and convoluted a created as yourself.

In truth, when I can separate you and your foul works from my brain, from my being, I can sympathize. You are a pitiable thing. Mothered by disease, loved by none, sustained by any withering human that will tolerate you, you are a sad one. If I didn't know better -- and now, mark me, I do, too well I do -- I might feel tempted to rock you in my arms, to soothe you with my body's heat.

But we both know where that would lead and while you might enjoy it -- of course you would, sick beast of a thing, you love-drinker, you thief of originality, you murderer of expectation -- I certainly would not. Your methods, while effective, repulse me. In addition to bringing me to my knees metaphorically and physically, you have smeared my true name. Now, to those who even remember me, know me as Unreliable, as Lazy, as What's-Wrong-With-Her-Just-Shake-It-Off. As if your work itself was not enough, you must heap insult to my mental injury.

You are a tick. You are a snake. You are soft as velvet and cold as the grave. You are no longer needed. You are no longer wanted.

Forever farewell.

Your former host

Demotivator : Fired

If only it was that easy. 

I wish I had some inspirational way to end this -- well, this rather depressing post, but I don't.  All I know is that I have continue to trust God, take my meds, and keep pushing back.

Finding some good resources never hurts, either.  Check these out:

Do you (or does someone you know) suffer from depression?  How do you cope with day-to-day life as well as larger challenges?  In other words, what gets you up and going and sometimes even smiling?

(Let me just add that I am not going through some super dark depressive period right now.  I'm pretty okay!  The writing prompt just brought the topic to the front of my mind, which is not difficult because, though I am medicated, depression is a constant partner in my everyday comings and goings.)

Demotivation: Depression
Image source for both demotivator posters

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I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Scene From the First Day of Snow


For more Seen On a Walk photos, click here.  For more Wordless Wednesday photos, click here.

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I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Story Season


Thanks so much for your thoughts on what makes autumn feel so special.  I really enjoyed reading all your comments! 

But fall isn't just the season for pumpkin lattes and Snuggies.  It's also the season for global masochism -- er, a worldwide writing marathon.  That's right (no pun intended) -- National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us once again!

What is this NaNoWriMo beast?  Well, according to founder Chris Baty, "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."  NaNoWriMo began when Baty decided that, at last, he wanted to actually write that novel he'd always talked about/dreamed of writing.  So he checked how long the shortest novel on his shelf was (about 50,000 words) and decided to write that amount in a month.  And he did.  The next year, he did again, and friends joined him.  Each year after that, Baty and more folks with writerly dreams joined in until it became the global event that it is today.  You can read more about NaNoWriMo's history here.

But NaNo is not just a fun and freakishly insane event.  Baty and his team at The Office of Letters and Light also run Script Frenzy (a month long script-writing challenge) in the spring, orchestrate the Young Writers Program for both NaNo and Script Frenzy to allow students in grades K-12 to participate both in school and independently, builds libraries in needy areas around the world, and more.  So they do lots of empowering stuff, and each year thousands of folks write millions of words that might never have seen the light of day otherwise.  I think that's really, really cool.

I have participated in (and "won"!) NaNoWriMo every year starting in 2005, with the exception of when I was in Malaysia for half of November in 2008.  As a result of NaNoWriMo, I have met and befriend a handful of fun and fabulous local writers, created four novel-length stories, and walk away from each November with a sense of creative accomplishment and page upon page of words to prove it.

But most importantly (for me, anyway) is the fact that each new NaNoWriMo reminds me that yes, I do love to write, no matter how hard and hair-pulling-inducing it can be, and that I can even write fiction well, if only I take the time to sit and do it.  It reminds me that 95% of writing is really the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.  It reminds me that writing is exhilarating and terrifying and completely, unreservedly worth every sweaty, carpal tunnel-inducing second.

So that's why I crank out a novel every November.  That's why I've donated to The Office of Letters and Light for the past two years.  And that is also why I've decided to raise money to support the efforts of those who make NaNoWriMo possible. 

Here's my thinking.  I've pledged to try to raise $50 (US) for NaNoWriMo.  I have nearly 70 Google followers, 30 Facebook like-ers, and an amazing 214 subscribers.  If every Google follower donated one dollar, that's nearly $70 right there.  If every subscriber donated fifty cents, that's over $100 donated.

All that to say -- if everyone associated with this little blog of mine gives just a little, we can together give quite a bit back to the army of volunteers, interns, and underpaid workers behind the awesomeness that is National Novel Writing Month.  

Let me add that I do not receive anything in return for fundraising for NaNoWriMo.  No stickers, no special fake tattoos, no widgets, and certainly no cash.  I'm raising money because I think National Novel Writing Month is great.  End of story.

So if you'd like to get in on the action and contribute to my goal of raising $50 for NaNoWriMo this year, please visit my donation page here.  While you're there, you can read an informative and witty letter, scope out a photo of my NaNo-ing away in 2007, and watch my fund-o-meter rise.  Check it out, y'all.  To support me, just click on the "Sponsor Me" button on my fund-raising page.  Oh, and all donations are tax-deductible.  Righteous!

Speaking of united little efforts to accomplish something really big, the Blue Like Jazz movie is on!  Due to contributions from folks like you and I (meaning people who are not gagillionaires), the movie begins production tomorrow.  Blue Like Jazz fans rallied to try to raise the $125,000 dollars needed.  The final donated total is a whopping $345,992.  How's that for an amazing story?  Read author Don Miller's thank you here.

If you'd like to support thousands of NaNo-licious stories (some of which might even turn out to be as relevant and life-affecting as Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz), visit my donation page here.  You can also check out my NaNo user page here and watching my word count rise (hopefully) once November hits.  Click on the "Support NaNoWriMo" tab in the black area at the top of any page on To the Fullest to access the donation page.

And thank you -- for reading this blog, for supporting and encouraging me, and for any contribution you make to the insane splendor of National Novel Writing Month.  You mean the world to me, wonderful readers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Signs of the Season

University Avenue It's amazing -- autumn is here in Montana in full, splendid force. Yards are littered with fallen leaves waiting to be raked, pumpkins adorn front porches, and the skies are gray and windswept.  The locals are going nuts over collegiate football, the hunters are out and about, and I'm busting out my stock of sweaters and scares.

And we're expecting snow on Wednesday.

Yep, this is definitely Montana.  As beautiful as our autumn is, it is also far too short in my opinion.  

While I'm not too psyched about the impending early snows, there is something delicious about fall.  Maybe it's air's aroma of decomposition and burning leaves.  But that doesn't really speak to refreshment of the soul.  Perhaps it's the pumpkin spiced everything that is being sold at coffee shops, grocery stores, and more.  Then again, cuddling up with a warm cuppa is more cozy than exhilarating.

So what is it? 

Honestly, I have no answer.  I'm kind of hoping that maybe you can let me in on what excites you about autumn, if anything.  But even while I can't explain it, I still feel it -- the expectancy, the sense of crisp happenings just around the corner, the stark and beautiful sense of unlooked for hope.  Maybe it's God.  Maybe I'm crazy.  But whatever it is about this delicious season that we're in, I like it. 

What do you think is the behind the magic of fall?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blue Like Jazz

Image source.
I've mentioned author and speaker Don Miller on this blog before, mostly to link to posts of his that I find particularly enjoyable or relevant.  But I haven't said much about him or his books.  So you're probably wondering who this Don Miller guy is.

In trying to sum what I know about Don Miller up . . . I found that I couldn't do it.  At least not well.  But I really like how Wikipedia describes Miller:

Miller is recognized for his feelings that Christian faith should be a relationship, rather than a formula. He writes in Searching for God Knows What that too many Christians act like the Bible is a sort of math textbook, rather than a long story of God's involvement with people through friendships with Biblical figures like Adam, Abraham, and Moses.

And I also like what Amazon has to say about Blue Like Jazz, the book that really boosted Don Miller into the public eye (at least the eyes of those who are interested in spirituality):

In Donald Miller's early years, he was vaguely familiar with a distant God. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he pursued the Christian life with great zeal. Within a few years he had a successful ministry that ultimately left him feeling empty, burned out, and, once again, far away from God. In this intimate, soul-searching account, Miller describes his remarkable journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.

I first read Blue Like Jazz in 2006, when I had just moved to the western Montana city that has since become my home.  At the time I felt displaced, root-less, and wondering how to connect with God and other people in a relevant way.  Miller's book helped.  A lot.

So when I heard that Blue Like Jazz was going to be made into a movie, I was psyched.  And then, as I read on through Miller's blog posts, I learned that the movie had been scrapped.  Sigh. 

Image source.
But the film didn't die an early death, as Miller (and, subsequently, I) expected.  Instead fans, associated actors, movie industry folks, and more rallied and raised enough money to pay for the making of a Blue Like Jazz film.  And, as I'm sure you've already guessed, making a box office-release movie is not cheap.  They needed $125,000 to enter into production on October 25 (that's tomorrow!) . . . and they did.  They got the money.

But the amazingness of the story doesn't end there.  Folks contributed more than the necessary $125,000 dollars.  Right now they have nearly $240,000 pledged (that's donated dollars), making the Blue Like Jazz film the largest crowd-sourced project in America ever. 

Why I am writing all this?  Because, first and foremost, I think it's an awesome story.  It's a real-life adventure tale with God leading the way, holding the center, and bringing up the rear all at the same time.  And because I think it's a worthy cause.  I loved the Blue Like Jazz book, and in fact started rereading it again this morning.  I also really enjoy Don Miller's other books.  I think he rocks, and he's a master of words, one that inspires and informs my own writing, not to mention my life, faith, and thoughts about God.  And I'm blogging about this because I think the Blue Like Jazz movie will rock, and that it will be powerful and relevant for today's establishment-jaded population. 

If you want to learn more about Don Miller, the film, and the Save Blue Like Jazz movement, check out the following links:
Blue Like Jazz (the book) opens with the following observation on jazz music, which is just as true for me about hooping.  And, I think, that honest expression of the soul is where God meets us so willingly:

In America, the first generation out of slavery invented jazz music.  It is a free-form expression.  It comes from the soul, and it is true.  

Have you read anything by Don Miller?  What are your thoughts on all this, regardless?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


As I logged into Blogger this morning, I discovered something that rather tickled me -- this is my seven hundredth post!! Can you believe it? That's a lot of blogging.

That said, I don't have anything momentous to say today. It's a rather gray and bleary Saturday here in Montana, and after lots of swell hooping and hoop-teaching yesterday, all I feel like doing is this:
That is, all I feel like doing is lazing about. So I think I will. Enjoy your lazy (or not) weekend, wonderful readers!

Friday, October 22, 2010


I found this video posted on the front page of Hoop City today and found it so inspiring.  Then I followed it to the rest of dancer Eddie Uehara's videos and fell in love with his philosophy, style, and passion for his art.  I hope you enjoy this, too!

Oh, and thanks to Maggie's bloggy inspiration, To the Fullest now has its very own Facebook page.  Check it out by clicking here!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Something New . . . Again

Have you noticed anything new about the blog? Here, I'll give you a hint:

Yep.  That's my blog.  And it has, once again, undergone a change.  But this will be the last time for a while.  I promise.

The blog formerly known as Muffin Love/Kitchen Courage/Life in Progress is now called To the Fullest.  Why?  The inspiration for the change was . . . me.  I am a SparkPeople member, and my page there is titled To the Fullest.  I had all but forgotten until I logged in yesterday for the first time since leaving on my recent travels and rediscovered it.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted that to be this blog's title.

And so . . . now it is.  Even better, yesterday I also happened across a blog template that I absolutely love.  It has room for big photos and videos, it's simple but singular and nice on the eyes, and it boasts a notebook style that I've always wanted but have never found just the right template of before. 

So the blog's new and improved.  Again.  Thanks for sticking with me through my variable blogmoods, fabulous readers! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get Yer Cowl Here!

Congrats again to Bhakti, the winner of the handmade crocheted cowl giveaway!  I almost forgot, however, to add to the announcement post that the cowl is available for sale in my Etsy shop, Shots 'n' KnotsClick here for the listing. 

Also, please don't feel that the yarn and color pictured in the listing is set in stone.  I'd love to work with you and create the just-right texture and color that you're looking for.  Check my items out below, or by clicking the "My Etsy" tab at the top of any page on the blog.  Holiday presents, anyone?

Happy Endings: The Cowl Winner and a Glad Pup

This past Friday I announced that I would be giving away a cowl that I crocheted myself to one fabulous reader.  I asked everyone to weigh in with their opinion on which photo showed off the cowl best for my Etsy store, Shots 'n' Knots.  You all gave very useful feedback, but the winner (as picked via is . . .

Congrats, Bhakti!  Please email me at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com with your shipping information.  Bhakti is a fellow hoopdancer and blogger, and her preferred cowl photo was this one:
 According to the rest of your votes, this shot as well as the two following are the favorites:
Thank you so much for the feedback, everyone! 

Also, in case you were wondering after my previous post, Herbert's family came and picked him up yesterday evening.  He was so excited to see them, and they seemed quite relieved that he was safe.  I love a happy ending!

To be honest, I didn't think Herbert's story would end well.  All I could think was that his family had abandoned him, and that he was doomed to be put to sleep after lingering, unwanted, at Animal Control.  Worst of all, he wouldn't see it coming.  Unlike humans, I thought, the poor dog had no way to expect that soon we would give him up to a lonely cage in noisy Animal Control.

That got me thinking about whether we (people) actually know what's coming around the corner.  And the only answer I could come up with was no, we don't.  We might think we do -- after all, that's why we make plans, because we think we know what's coming tomorrow, next week, and next year -- but when all is said and done, the only thing we really know for sure is what's happening right now.  So really, I'm not all that different from Herbert.  And somehow, for me, that precariousness of life is both terrifying and comforting.  What about you?

Monday, October 18, 2010



This weekend was all about the dogs.  At least, that's how it felt.

On Saturday, the Best Husband Ever and I took the pups over to his folks' place for a little visit.  We got our family portrait taken by my youngest sister-in-law.  There's a shot of us will all three of the dogs, but this is my favorite:

My favorite

Then yesterday after church, we took Jackson and Lio (both pictured above) out for a short hike in the crisp sunshine.  Lio found what we thought was a stick and went to town on it.  Only after he refused to put it down did we realize it was some sort of old animal part.  Ick.

Even though the grass on the mountains is notably shorter than in the spring and summer, it still provides excellent cover for a chihuahua who is looking to hunker down with a new plaything.  Can you find him?:

Dog + stick

He's like a lion camouflaged in savannah grasses:

Clearly separated at birth. 

But before Lio got to play lion, we found a dog named Herbert wandering the neighborhood.  The Best Husband Ever caught the little guy, and we set him up in our fenced backyard and left a message at the number on his tag, hoping that they would pick him up by the time we returned from our hike.

When we got back, he was still there.  And he was quite the depressing sight, huddled in the same sunny corner of the yard that he'd been in when we left.  I'd like to be able to say that Herbert quickly warmed up to us, but that was not the case.  Instead, he was put off by our dogs' collective exuberance and seemed generally skittish of people.


We eventually decided to let him in the house, and there Herbert finally began to relax a little.  It seems like he is quite the homebody, and probably is most comfortable with one or two special people who have no other dogs.  Still, he did eventually come to a stiff acceptance of our little pack, and by the time the Best Husband Ever drove Herbert to the address on his dog tag, I was sad to see him go.

Until the Best Husband Ever came back -- with Herbert.  Apparently the house had no one living in it.  I can't imagine how a dog as seemingly leery of adventure as Herbert came to be wandering our neighborhood, which is a fair distance from that address.  I hope he wasn't just released by a family who couldn't take care of him anymore.

Anyway, Herbert ended up staying the night, and even showed some life by romping with some of our rope toys.  I'll be calling Animal Control shortly to report that Herbert has been found, keeping my fingers crossed that someone is looking for this little guy.  Because, shy or not, this old man is a sweetie and well-mannered to boot.  I've quite enjoyed cuddling up with him, which seems to be all he really wants in life.  And I wonder if isn't that true for us all.

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Don't forget to enter my handmade cowl giveaway!  The last day to enter is Monday, October 18.  That's today!  Get those entries in by 6:00 PM Rocky Mountain Time.  I can't wait to announce the winner tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bloated and Loving It (Sort Of)

So.  I taught a hula-hoop fitness class on Friday for the first time.  It was . . . hard.  Certainly harder than I expected.

All day Friday I was super nervous, so I ended up going to the gym's yoga class that's taught right before mine (wow, I still can't believe that I have a class!).  That ended up helping quite a bit as it was a very soothing, gentle practice.

Then I was up.  One person came in for hula-hooping.  I asked her to help herself to a hoop while I made a  bathroom run.  When I returned, to the studio, there was still only the one young woman there.  Talk about a low teacher-student ratio!  However, while this might be ideal for school-based education, it didn't strike me as all that great for a hooping class.  Still, I got started, and the first thirty or so minutes of the class flew by.

And then it started to drag.  Big time.  I deviated from my lesson plan and we worked on some off-body moves and I taught my lone brave student a small combination.  I couldn't tell if she was having a good time or not, but I began to feel like I was torturing her.

We made it through, and I hope that I didn't scare her off.  I tried not to feel too bad (as I learned from various yoga/hooping teacher friends, my not-so-fab first-time experience isn't that all that uncommon) and came away with some ideas about how to keep the rhythm and appeal flowing through the entire class.  I welcome any and all suggestions!

The hardest part of the class, however, had nothing to do with the instruction, or even hooping.  Instead, the most challenging thing was the mirrors.  Not only did I feel pretty doofy wearing this heavy microphone for a one-student class (so I could keep the music louder), but I kept glimpsing myself in the mirror.  And . . . it was bad.

Let me rephrase that -- it felt bad.  I thought I had been doing much better in my relationship with food and exercise, and I had been feeling very emotionally stable.  But then, according to my reflection, all that stability seemed to be hurting my body.  My stomach was flubby and larger than I thought it had been, and I just felt like I looked lumpy and all-around frumpy. 

My first instinct after class ended and my plucky student left the studio was to run for it.  Instead, I took a deep breath, put on some peppy music, and played with my hoop.  I videoed some of the practice session even though that meant preserving my quivering gut for all the world to see.  And, in spite of how dissatisfied I felt with my body, the practice session was fun.  It was so nice to have a large indoors space to go crazy in and not have to worry about sending my hoop crashing into something breakable.

That was going to be the end of my first-time-teaching tale . . . until this morning.  It seems that, two days after I thought my belly was more enormous than it should have been, I have my period.  That makes me wonder if Friday's lumpy gut was really the result of pre-menstrual bloating.

I keep forgetting that I have this monthly event occurring in my body.  When I began descending into anorexia-land, I lost my period.  Before these past few months, the last time that I had a natural period (i.e., not helped along by the hormones in birth control pills) was November 2006.  This summer, my period finally returned of its own accord and (so far) has kept coming back each month.

As much as I don't like the cramps and bloating that come along with a functioning female reproductive system, having a regular period causes me more joy than probably seems normal.  But each month that it returns is a sign that I've been taking care of myself (or trying my darndest to do so).  Each new successful cycle is a victory against lies, disorder, and mental disease. 

So, instead of despairing over my not-svelte stomach or curvy hips, I'm going to share my video of Friday night's hooping practice in all of its pre-menstrual bloat-alicious glory.

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Don't forget to enter my handmade cowl giveaway! The last day to enter is Monday, October 18.  That's tomorrow!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Christians and Yoga: Bliss or Blasphemy?

This morning I was all set to share my first experience teaching a hoop dance fitness class . . . until I checked my Google Reader and found Clare's latest post.  In addition to sounding off on some ridiculous recent happenings (ahem . . . the Gap "controversy"), she wrote about how Christians practicing yoga are again receiving flak from church leaders.

Clare has already posted a well-crafted argument about how yoga supports her faith instead of hurting it (and I really encourage you to read it), but of course I had to throw my two cents into the bubbling opinion pot as well.  From there, I couldn't resist sharing my thoughts here.  I posted the following in the comments section of Clare's latest post:
As you know, I love Jesus . . . and I practice yoga. What’s more, I don’t think I’m condemned for my practice. *Gasp!* However, just because I do yoga doesn’t mean it’s okay for every Christian to do yoga.

I’m thinking of one of my husband’s co-workers and friends. This man is from Indian, and is a very devoted and introspective Christian. You’d think this would set him up for a beneficial practice in yoga, but it’s quite the opposite. Apparently (if I’m getting the hubby’s telling of it right), while in India this man saw yoga being used as a tool of worship. While many of us American yoginis see sun salutations as an energizing sequence, this man sees them as actual worship of the sun and whatever gods may be associated. So, for him, yoga would hurt his relationship with Jesus, so he stays away.
This issue makes me think of the New Testament-times debate over unclean foods and whether Christians who were formerly Jews could partake of these foods. Paul [a major contributor to the New Testament] has a lot to say about it in Romans 14, but I think this quote sums it up nicely (from the NLT version of the Bible):
“I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
What I take from this is that I can do yoga…as long as the people in my life aren’t afflicted by it. So I wouldn’t ask my husband’s co-worker to come practice with me, nor would I do yoga in front of him (which would be weird anyway!) or discuss it to the point where it hurts his faith/life.
But, for me, yoga is beneficial. Not just physically, but also emotionally and (gasp!!) spiritually. Because I don’t do sun salutations — I do SON salutations! :)
A quick Google search of "should Christians yoga" yielded a Christian Broadcasting Network article on the subject, written by Laura J. Bagby.  She shared this quote from Laurette Willis, an "actress, singer, public speaker, personality trainer, and author" :
“These are postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods. Yoga postures really are; they are offerings to the gods. If you do these postures and you do this breathing technique and this meditation, then you will be accepted by a god, little “G.” That’s the real danger,” she said.
Um.  Really?  Okay, before I get too cynical, I must admit that yes, yoga has been and continues to be used by non-Christian religious as a form of worship and contemplation.  But I find it really difficult to make the leap from the fact some branches of yoga have a spiritual heritage to "I do yoga, so I must be worshiping Hindu gods."

Take Christmas.  Although it is becoming more and more of a secular holiday, it purportedly is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.  Was Jesus actually born on December 25?  In all likelihood, no.  In fact, December 25 originally hosted not one but two pagan holidays (read more about the pagan traditions still lingering in Christmas here).  *Gasp!*  Does that mean when we sing Silent Night we're really worshiping the Roman sun god?  I think you know where I'm going with this, but I'll say it anyway -- no, I do not believe that ancient pagan ties with the calendar date of modern Christmas makes it a blasphemous, inadvertently-pagan-god-worshiping holiday.

In my mind, yoga is the same.  When I practice yoga, I focus on my breathing, proper alignment, and flowing from one move to the next.  If my mind dwells on anything spiritual, it is to thank God (the God I love, not a random Hindu god I know nothing about) for making my body so strong.

All that said, it is possible for yoga to be harmful spiritually, I think.  For example, in one yoga class I  attended a couple of years ago, there was a Buddha statue at the front of the room surrounded with burning incense.  This made me really uncomfortable, so I never went back to that studio.  But in every other yoga class I've participated in (live or online), it has been a purely physical practice, with not even a mention of anything religious or spiritual.  So, for me, yoga is a benefit to both my body and soul.  The same could not be said for my husband's friend, and so he does not participate.

So, if you are a Christian wondering if yoga is "safe," the question really is, "Is it safe for me?"  It depends on your past, your opinions, and what makes you feel comfortable or otherwise.  No one can answer that question for you.  As new age-y as it may sound, the answer is within you.  And as for me, as Clare so eloquently stated, "Jesus is WAY bigger than yoga."

* * *
Don't forget to enter my handmade cowl giveaway!  The last day to enter is Monday, October 18. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Hooping Adventure and a Handmade Giveaway!

Yep, you read that right -- I am teaching a hooping fitness class at Gold's Gym, starting tonight (I know the flyer says October 8, but that changed).  I am so scared/excited/in awe that I don't know what to do with myself.  I hope that the folks enjoy the class tonight, and I hope God will give me courage in a room full of eyes and mirrors! 
Finished scarflet
In honor of this auspicious day, I am giving away this crocheted cowl, which I just put the finishing touches on yesterday. It's soft and perfect for chilly autumn days when you don't feel like wearing a full-on scarf.  However, I've run up against a little dilemma. I am not sure which of the photos from my cowl modeling session best shows it off.  Eventually I'd like to sell crocheted items on my Etsy shop, Shots 'n' Knots.

So, to enter to win this cowl, simply post in the comments which of these photos you like the best (access the full-sized images here):
 After you weigh in with your favorite shot, you can earn additional entries by:
  • Blogging about this giveaway
  • Tweeting about the giveaway (For example: "@Betherann is giving away a handmade cowl on Life in Progress!  Enter here:")
  • Sharing the link to this post on Facebook, Delicious, or any other social networking medium
  • Trying any one of my recipes and posting about it on your blog (or Facebook, etc.), being sure to link back to the original source -- this will earn you two extra entries! 
For each additional entry, be sure to post an extra comment.  The deadline to enter is 6:00 PM Mountain Time on Monday, October 18.  The winner will be announced the next day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Canine Sing-Along

Remember Cody's duet with the cell phone?  The Best Husband Ever and I soon discovered that if we could get Cody singing for long enough, Jackson and Lio would join in.  Yesterday, we captured it on video:

But the fun did not end there.  As I was editing and uploading the video, the pups continued to vocalize, this time urged on by the recorded sounds of themselves.

Too funny!  As much fun as it is watching a chihuahua try his darnedest to howl like a wolf, my favorite part of these escapades was watching the Best Husband Ever's face.  I've never seen him smile so big, and I love it. 

(Sadly, the spiffy new blog layout cuts off some of the embedded video.  Click on the videos to view them in all their hilarious glory directly off of YouTube.  Does anyone know how I can make these videos smaller without switching over to Vimeo?)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Blog Manifesto

I promise you, gentle readers, that this is the absolutely last post about the blog's recent changes.  Really.  For today.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I've updated the blog's About page.  Writing a manifesto-style, all-about-it type of post is always challenging for me, so I thought I'd toot my own horn a bit.

Consider me tooted.

It's Official . . .

I decided on a new blog look!

Miraculous, I know, but I feel like I've spent the majority of the past two days fiddling and I'm starting to irritate myself.

Also, reader Jo helped kick me into decisive-land, especially after I found a look that I really liked. She commented:
. . . everyone reacts to things differently, and you can't give up what you want so that everyone will be happy! (You can't please everyone all the time) No matter what the pictures are, the content is what I'm here for.
Thanks, Jo, for the very good advice!

All that to say . . . I like my blog's new look and I'm sticking with it! Besides I've got far more important things to fiddle with, like the blog's "About" page and my current fiction work-in-progress!

Decisions, Decisions

I know. I'm indecisive.

After your wonderful input on blog names and a new look, I went with a completely different background.

But I'm still undecided. This time it's about the blog header. Which do you like better? We have this, which was made to match the current background but I find kind of boring, although clean and professional:
And this, which doesn't seem to quite match the new background, but which I really like (and which is the current banner at the time of this post):

I can't decide. What do you think?

In Print

A Tale of Two Backgrounds

As I work on transforming my blog into some more life-oriented instead of food-oriented, I run up against any obvious, earth-shattering question of importance -- what should the new blog incarnation look like??

I've narrowed it down to two choices, both of which use Blogger's Minima two-column layout with the sidebar to the left. The first is a green theme with brown ribbons:

The second features a blue bird with newsprint borders (which is the blog's current theme setting at the time of this post):

Of course, I am having a hard time deciding. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Change Awaits

AM oat bran
Gasp! Are you seeing what I'm seeing? If you're seeing a food photo on this self-described food blog, then the answer is yes!

If you subscribed to Kitchen Courage for yummy, healthy recipes and opportunities to stare at amateur food photography, I owe you an apology. The blog has been glaringly empty of food-related posts for a long, long time (excepting the submissions from some of the lovely recent guest posters). Instead, my posts have focused on:
So, really, I've been writing about nearly all aspects of my life . . . except food.

That raises the question -- why? Why haven't I been writing about food? It's not that I haven't been eating, or haven't been eating well. This morning's oat bran (pictured above) was delicious and cozily autumnal, full of pumpkin, warm banana, raisins, spices, and thick yogurt. And just this weekend the Best Husband Ever enjoyed a trip to one of our favorite restaurants, and I didn't even think to bring my camera so I could blog about it later.

Why not? Because food just isn't as important to me any more. I've already shared some of my realization of how I use food to avoid feeling emotions, or as "treatment" for negative emotions, boredom, depression, and all around feelings of hopelessness. Since then, I've noticed how my mind immediately turns to food when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation.

For example, this weekend I went to the women's retreat my church sponsored. Outside of God whispering past all my self-erected barriers, urging me to go, I don't really know why I went. I certainly didn't want to, and wasn't planning on it. I hadn't even been attending church for the majority of the summer. But a few loving emails and a call from a couple of women at the church and suddenly I found myself an hour north of here, shacking up with twenty other women. What's more, I carpooled with one of the other participants, and so didn't have my own car at the camp with me.

The first night of the retreat, I wanted the get the heck out of there and, if I'd had my car, I might have. During a time of free-form socializing, I found myself thinking of all the ways I could binge on food if I was alone. Thankfully, I couldn't. For better or worse, I was stuck at the lakeside retreat center.

The next day (Saturday), my pushing-people-away tendencies were curiously missing in action, and suddenly I found myself lovingly supported by the community of women I was staying with.

On Sunday, something in me completely broke and I found myself sobbing in the arms of a dear friend, one of the many church friends that I tried to push away but -- thankfully, due to their caring -- could not.

Now, I feel . . . okay. It's easier for me to recognize what's happening beneath the surface (i.e., that I'm feeling something) when I want to turn to binging or over-exercising or starving myself. I can't say that everyone would see this weekend's retreat as a miraculous quick-fix of my disordered thinking . . . but it certainly was (and is) miraculous to me.

All that to say . . . my focus has changed. Food isn't the center of my life anymore (thank God!). And I don't feel like "Kitchen Courage" is the right name for this blog any longer. As delightfully alliterative as it is, it doesn't describe where I'm at in life. Something more accurate might be "Work in Progress," but that domain is sadly already taken. But maybe having my own domain just doesn't matter, and I could use that title on a blog hosting site like Wordpress. What does matter is that I'd like to focus more on blogging about my faith, my dreams and day-to-day living and writing, the challenge and blessing that is marriage, canine antics, and time spent in the hoop.

What do you think, wonderful readers? Does it matter to you whether a blog you read has its own domain as opposed to a or tag? As for a new name, I'll leave you with a [rather lengthy] poll because it's been far too long! (Click through to the site if you're viewing this in a reader and can't see the poll. Also, feel free to choose more than one option.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coffee, Dogs, and Smiles

This morning I visited Bed, Bath, and Beyond to stock up on some more K-cups for my Keurig coffee brewer. I took Jackson, one of the pups, along to help train him to be less whiny in the car, and then parked far from the store so we could get two mini walks in. I planned on securing him outside of the store during my quick shopping trip, but almost as soon as I stepped in the door one of the managers flew by, eager to cuddle the waiting Jackson. The manager then told me that I was welcome to take Jackson inside while I shopped, and that the employees would take care of any mess.

I was so gratified! I know that stores like Home Depot allow dogs inside, but I did not expect a store like Bed, Bath, and Beyond (which has so many breakables, not to mention white/light colored and pretty things) to welcome my dog inside. Of course I took the manager up on his offer and soon emerged with two boxes of Green Mountain Coffee K-cups in fall and winter seasonal flavors. (And, if you were wondering, Jackson was on his best behavior and left absolutely no mess of any kind for the good folks at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to clean up.)

Still glowing from the unexpected gift from the Bed, Bath, and Beyond manager, I toted my purchases (and Jackson) home, eager to taste test them. I was torn as to which flavor to try first since they also sound amazing -- I bought the fall coffee necessity, Pumpkin Spice, as well as the Green Mountain holiday variety pack, which includes Holiday Blend, Gingerbread, Spicy Egg Nog, and Golden French Toast. You can understand my dilemma.

In the end, I decided to break open the Pumpkin Spice coffee first, since autumn has truly arrived here in Montana. I tried this flavor last year, and while I blogged about enjoying it, I don't remember it being as tasty as I had hoped it would be. Rest assured, though -- this afternoon's Pumpkin Spice coffee was spiced with goodness, too.

This weekend I experienced a new way to make an at-home coffee treat. Here's the secret: top your mug with whipped cream. Okay, so it's not exactly rocket science (and probably not a secret, either), but it was yummy. I brewed up my coffee, added some skim milk and stevia, then topped the whole thing off with a squirt of canned whipped cream.

And then -- mania ensued. You see, after the Best Inlaws Ever gifted me with the remnants of the whipped cream can we used to top my birthday strawberry angel food cake, I started giving our dogs little licks of the stuff to help use it up (clearly, I had not discovered the wonder of whipped cream-topped coffee yet). Now the dogs know the squirting sound of whipped cream being dispensed. They went crazy when we used it at my one of my sisters-in-laws' birthday party, and again at my father-in-law's party. I think it's funny. The Best Husband Ever does not. Both views are valid. :)

So today, when I opened and shook the can of whipped cream I just bought at the store today, the dogs were at my side in two seconds flat:
They know the sound of squirting whipped cream all too well...

And then, when I topped my coffee with a light squirt of whipped cream, they went nuts (take special note of the chihuahua -- he stood like that for a good twenty seconds):
Mania ensues at the sound and smell of whipped cream
Cody may actually have made tongue-contact with the can of whipped cream. That won't stop me from using it, though, especially not after I've discovered so delicious and simple a treat. Besides, continued use of the whipped cream will desensitize the dogs . . . right? Regardless, their antics make me smile.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy World Hoop Day!

World Hoop Day Hoopers - Tokyo
World Hoop Day 2009 in Tokyo (photo by Tink)

Happy World Hoop Day! Grab some friend and some hula-hoops and go nuts! While you're at it, be sure to check out Tink's World Hoop Day dance. For extra hoopy fun, video yourself performing the dance and send it out for all the world to see. Happy hooping, friends!

If you're looking for adorable hoop gear, check out Hoop Pretty, which is donating 10% of all sales on 10/10/10 to World Hoop Day. Pretty and charitable? Yes, please!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

To Wordpress or Not to Wordpress . . . ?

Image from Idea Grove
That's the question that's been on my mind for a couple of weeks. I tested out Wordpress and, as a Hoopcamp friend said, it's pretty slick. But the transfer from Blogger to Wordpress might not be as slick and easy, which makes me pause. Is there really enough to be gained?

So I thought I'd ask you, fabulous readers. Many (if not all) of you are seasoned bloggers. What's your take? Which would you choose -- Blogger or Wordpress -- and why?

And, for those who may be interested, here are a few useful links I turned up regarding swapping Blogger for Wordpress:

Friday, October 8, 2010

World Hoop Day is Coming!

You probably haven't heard of this unique holiday -- I hadn't until this year, and World Hoop Day has been around since 2006. But what is World Hoop Day, exactly? Here is the official description and mission statement of the founders:
Since 2006, World Hoop Day has been dedicated to bringing dance, exercise and toy hoops to under-privileged children living in extreme poverty and the under-developed neighborhoods of our world. Founded by Annie O'Keeffe, husband Kevin, and Groove Hoop friend Stefan Pildes, World Hoop Day is a not-for-profit organization that uses a community-based, grass roots approach to provide one-of-a-kind "hula" hoops. The durable, adult-sized hoops can be used their entire life as a simple and effective way to bring joy to an otherwise devastating situation.

There are many aid organizations who provide food and medical relief, but what about the mental welfare of a child who grows up too quickly and hardly has a reason to smile or play or just be a child? To date more than 13,750 hoops valued at more than US $83,000 have been given away. Hundreds of World Hoop Day Ambassadors have donated thousands of hoops to beautiful children and their families around the world.

The simple hoop has positive physical and mental health benefits, stimulates imaginations, and enables feelings of pure joy and bliss. We give to honor gratitude, appreciation, healing and to promote world peace and harmony. Every year for one day hoopers around the world gather in parks, beaches, community centers and schools to raise awareness of the need to stay fit with fun exercise, while giving back to their neighborhoods and raising funds to continue sending Ambassadors with Hoops to remote locations with children in need (from the WHD site).
At the core, World Hoop Day is a non-profit dedicated to bringing hoops to needy folks around the globe. When I first heard about this unique holiday, I thought it was sort of silly. But then I got to thinking about my time in Malaysia. With my missions team, I visited a Tamil (Hindu) orphanage, armed with a metric ton of games, crafts, and activities. For all our planning and preparedness, all the the children wanted to do was play. Pure and simple, they just wanted someone to see them, to spend time kicking around a ball or jumping rope with them.

Considering that, the simple strength attention and play, World Hoop Day has become a powerful endeavor in my mind. WHD ambassadors travel to remote, needy areas delivering hoops and, even more importantly, attention and love. They see the poor and forgotten people of the world and remind these people that they are precious, too.

This year's World Hoop Day is this Sunday, October 10, 2010. Yep, that's 10/10/10, and it's not a mistake. (Future WHD dates are 11/11/11 and 12/12/12. I'm not sure what they're going to do for 2013. . . .) Check out the World Hoop Day website to see if there's an event in your area, or visit World Hoop Day on Facebook. Happy globally-aware hooping!

Photo from WHD ambassador Jane, taken in Peru

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hoopcamp Noshery

I wasn't sure what to expect from the food served up at Hoopcamp . . . but the reality pretty much blew me away. The kitchen staff served up balanced, healthy, and absolutely delicious meals with vegan options three times a day. I tried just about everything and thoroughly enjoyed each meal.

Some food highlights include insanely amazing black beans, rice (which I never eat at home) beef stir-fry (and I don't even like beef), and naan bread. I was a little worried that I might gain some weight since I didn't know what was being put in each dish, but I just tried to listen to my body and eat intuitively. I even went back for seconds a couple of times.

What's even more amazing (to me, anyway) is that I didn't gain weight. In fact, I think I even slimmed down a bit. I certainly feel better than I did going in to Hoopcamp. The retreat center's food made me feel nourished and healthy, and it felt like really yummy body gasoline. I ate well without going overboard, trusted my body, and came out feeling great. How's that for balanced living?

Then, as I set off on the twenty hour drive back to Montana, I threw all of my food intuition out the window. Feeling a little drowsy, I decided to load up on caffeine and diet sodas on my way out of California. About thirty minutes past Reno, Nevada, I had to pull over so I could vomit up the rather vast amount of chemicals I had imbibed courtesy of the Coca-Cola company. My stomach was both cramping and distended, and I was in so much discomfort that I checked into the first motel I saw after the vomiting, which ended up being the seediest accommodation of all time. I'm thankful that I didn't see any roaches until I was checking out the next morning.

Now, I really shouldn't feel surprised by my body's violent rejection of aspartame-laced beverages. After all, I had a similar (although not quite so intense) reaction to artificial sweeteners last year. I guess I forgot, or I was just so intent on making good time home from Hoopcamp that I didn't listen to what my body actually wanted.

The takeaway? Your body knows what it wants. My body knows what it wants. And my body is telling me to forget the calorie counting and to simply listen. What's your body saying?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Baxter's Hoopcamp workshop
So . . . I'm back! Hoopcamp 2010 was an amazing adventure. I got to meet my first and favorite hooping teacher, SaFire (of Hoop City), as well as many other genius hoop stars that I admire, including Brecken, Spiral, Rich Porter, Baxter, and more. Even better, I met loads of new hoopers, put faces to online names, made some new friends, and brought back a few mind-blowing tips and techniques that are already evolving my hooping. Check out more photos from my road trip and Hoopcamp 2010 here!

But the most amazing thing of all was not confined to the four days and three nights of Hoopcamp. I had a rather life-changing realization (and I don't use the term "life-changing" lightly . . . at least, not here) while road-tripping my way across Idaho and Nevada toward San Francisco.

I'm not sure what prompted this realization. I was listening to Australian comedienne and writer A. J. Rochester's audio book, The Lazy Girl's Guide to Losing Weight and Getting Fit, which I really enjoyed until Rochester began getting into lists of what to eat, when, and in what situation, at which point I swapped in an audio book about Montana hauntings. Rochester's main philosophy about life, food, and fitness is that dieting doesn't work. Like Geneen Roth shares in Women Food and God (find my review here), Rochester didn't have any success beating her compulsive overeating until she stopped dieting and started listening to her body and, more importantly, the emotions fueling her disordered eating.

This, I think, is what got my own brain ticking about my eating disorder, my relationship with food, and my body. As I have been whining -- er, blogging about recently, I have hit a major block in my recovery/life happiness that I seem to be unable to overcome through my usual go-to methods of food and exercise tracking, to-do lists, and daily routines. Because I left my full-time job early this year for health reasons, I now have a lot of time on my hands -- too much, in fact. Now that I have no job to distract me from my emotions, from the inadequacies and spots of darkness I find in and around myself. Even worse, when people advise me to do what I really enjoy during this time of unemployment, I discover that I don't know what I really enjoy. I have no passions -- and I wonder if I ever had any. If I did, I have lost and forgotten them. This truth is the hardest of all because it means that, if left to my own devices, things will never get any better.

Somehow during my road trip, however, a thought occurred to me -- or rather, it smacked me over the head. I give the credit of this revelation to God, although you might call it intuition or faith or just an overdose of caffeine. Whatever the source, though, this idea is truly mind-blowing. Here it is:

My life has been a big NO, denying my dreams and emotions in a way that has been getting acted out with food. But . . . God wants my life to be a big YES. In fact, He is the biggest YES of all, and He is waiting to revolutionize my dreary existence, if only I would let him.

Let me clarify. We Americans tend to embrace such philosophies as: "You can be whatever you dream to be," "The sky's the limit," and "You can do it!" I was fed these same lines by my family, teachers, and the media. Encouraging, right? Yes . . . but at the same time that these positive messages were winding their way into my brain, they were accompanied by other messages, messages that told me: "You can be whatever you dream . . . as long as it's not silly or ridiculous," "You can achieve whatever you want . . . as long as it's practical," and "You can do it . . . as long as it's what we expect of you." Over time, these external messages took on my voice, and I started to repeat them to myself. I let these negative messages turn me and my life into a big, depressing NO.

Largely these messages came from my family*. Growing up, I loved horses and dreamed of having an equine career . . . until my parents scoffed at the idea. They also resisted the idea of me moving to Montana. They did not like the idea of me studying writing in college, or the fact that I went to Malaysia on a missions trip in 2008. I know that they probably communicated these things because they wanted me to be financially stable and secure, but in doing so they also squashed some dreams and turned my own thinking very negative.

A week or so before I headed to Hoopcamp, the Best Husband Ever said, "We have to get you on a horse sometime." My immediate response was, "I can't." Of course he asked why, to which I mumbled something about how it was expensive. While that's true, and it's important to be financially responsible, that doesn't mean a life that includes horses in some way is out of the question for me. But because of the external NO that I turned into an internal NO, I didn't even consider the possibility.

Until my road trip epiphany, that is. I realized that just about everything I dream about I automatically say NO to, due to my internal negativity, or fear, or just lack of motivation.

But God is a big YES, and He is trying to turn my life into a big YES, too. The Best Husband Ever is part of that YES, as is hooping, living in Montana, my friends and in-laws, my blog, my church, and my online community.

When most people think of Christianity, they probably think of Jesus, church, rules, and Heaven. But I think God's version of Christianity is to know Jesus and, as a result, experience joy, both in life and whatever follows. I've always seen faith as something to cultivate now so I can hang out with God in Heaven later. But God's YES of Heaven is also a YES for right now.

The people I met at Hoopcamp are living that YES. Most of them probably do not think of themselves as Christians or follow Jesus, but they live with reckless abandon and joy. And . . . they are happy. Maybe they don't have much money in the bank, but they are pursuing their dreams and, in many cases, achieving those dreams. Also, when I say that these folks are "happy" and "pursuing their dreams," that doesn't mean that they're lazy bums sitting around smoking weed. No, these people are successful artists or leaders in their local hooping communities, and they are anything but lazy bums. They are active and tireless in their efforts. In that respect, the Hoopcampers remind me of missionaries, except largely without Jesus. But that's whole other post. . . .

When I got to Hoopcamp, I spent the first day trying my best to figure out what everybody wanted me to be, and then being that person. This has been my mode of being for most of my life and, ass you might imagine, doing this with 250 strangers was frustrating (at best) and impossible -- and it made me miserable. By the time the first night hooping jam rolled around, I was exhausted by my futile efforts and thought, Screw it, and hooped like my crazy self -- and felt happy.

I remained the same way throughout the rest of the retreat -- meaning that I just was myself -- and, while I still experienced fatigue, frustration while learning difficult tricks, and shyness among other emotions, I felt happy. A better phrase would probably "at peace." And I truly believe that I felt this way because I embraced God's YES of the way He made me. I stopped trying to be everyone else (spurred by my own inner NO) and just relaxed into being myself.

Does that make sense? It makes sense to me. But now the obvious questions remain -- what are my God-given YES dreams? What are yours? And how can we make each day a practice in saying YES?

*My parents and other family members, I might add, read this blog -- but I'm not trying to put them down, just being honest. If they helped make my life a big NO, it was probably because their family did the same to them, and so on down the line. I'm not writing this to be hurtful, but to be true to myself and, with any luck, perhaps help and encourage others who are experiencing similar things. My goal in blogging is to share my growth and encourage yours, and sometimes that can be uncomfortable. I hope anyone who feels hurt by this post will forgive me those unintended wounds.