Coffee

Counting by Sevens

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The sun woke me this morning as cool air blew in through the blinds, pushed with a little help from the rotating blades of the plastic window fan working over time as the days grow hotter. From my bedroom window, I first watched our three-year old neighbor helping her father pick up sticks in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. Mask secured, she bent over and over again to clean the wreckage from the wind storm in her own backyard. Her squeals and kicks and appreciation for a costume warmed my heart.

Our home has been quiet lately – an unsettling calm in a world disrupted by sickness, racism, hatred, and positive action mixed with a crying call to be better.

This introverted writer hasn’t minded the pause – a time to be working from home and relying on comforts to make sense of things going on outside.

Only this week has the silence rippled in uncomfortable patterns in our home and my heart. I miss seeing my friends. I balance wanting to interact with more than just my husband and my parents via FaceTime with uncertainty of a risky world.

I am amazed by the bravery, determination, and willingness of hundreds of thousands of people standing up against injustice. Black lives matter. The work you are doing to change opinions, open eyes, call for action is inspiring me.

Does writing into cyberspace still hold power when my anxiety prohibits me from protesting in the streets?

Typing cautiously, I hold the heavy weight of pain in one palm, and unfurl my gripping fingers of my other hand with a readiness to accept good and beautiful things.

I tentatively wonder how long it will be for the open palm to fill with the same weight of horrific behavior and heinous tweets.

I have to believe it’s not as crappy as CNN chooses to remind me each morning.

I heard recently a positive thought takes seven times the reinforcement to stick in our brain than a negative thought. Seven times more powerful are the fears, the shames, the things you must protect yourself from.

In my continued silent sanctuary of home, surrounded by privilege- I know, I listen to dogs barking and a neighbor mowing the lawn.

In my aching sense of wondering,  I ponder and ask, “What beautiful things are here in all of this?”

For the world has always been messy – rarely are we all so privy to the pain and suffering we carry on a global scale. A mirror has been raised. The pain in me sees and honors the pain in you.

What would happen to our world if we could whisper those words to one another?

Father’s Day is coming and with it the ads land in my inbox like little paint ball explosions of grief. No one has texted me to see how I’m doing with the approaching marker.

Thousands upon thousands are missing their people.

We’re out of work and afraid to go to the grocery store and wondering when it will be safe to hug our friends.

I start counting and repeating to myself, seven times over.

Classical music plays and children pick up sticks, and protestors flood the streets with messages of peace and justice and the simple desire to be able to continue to breathe.

What privilege it is to start with a fresh, full breath.

You, too, can count and seek beauty. At seven times the rate of the negative we’ve been fed.

Classical music. Children picking up sticks. Cold brew coffee swirling with cream. Instagram messages of solidarity. Protests in the streets. Longing for connection. Feeling unsettled. Searching for someone to see your pain. All beautiful things.

Woke Up to Grey

I woke up to grey. We left the curtains drawn this morning and the light wasn’t making it through. The alarm buzzed and I kept pressing snooze. I pressed snooze a lot. Waking on cold mornings is so much harder than in the summer.

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I turned back the covers, sat upright, put two feet on the floor. I looked out the window and watched the snow swirl. Flakes weren’t really falling, just dancing about in dry air, refusing to stick to the cold ground.

Shuffled down stairs and put on the coffee. Swatted at the dog as she bounded to the front door, knocking me sideways with her excitement. Her little tail wagged, an ever-present reminder of new days worthy of rejoice.

Pressed grounds, poured steaming liquid, stirred in cream and watched dairy rise to the surface of my cup. Wrapped hands around my mug and sat down to pray.

I was distracted by the scene unfolding across the street. A little girl ran out of the garage, her rainbow-colored backpack covering her tiny frame from shoulders to knees. Wearing purple pants and a bright pink tutu, she jumped up and down, up and down, up and down. Time to go to school.

Next surfaced the tired mother with baby carrier in tow. She set down the infant and instructed the jumper to go around the car and get in her seat. The weary woman lifted the baby and herself in the car, careful not to close her baggy pajama pants in the car door.

Reverse lights came on and the car crept down the driveway. As they passed my window, the mother stuck her electric toothbrush in her mouth, multi-tasking like a champ. I laughed out loud.

“It’s hard here,” as Anne Lamott says, and the every-day tedium seems as such. Boring, repetitive, cold. Hard.

So, we shove our hands in our pockets and our toothbrushes in our mouths and we get back to it. To our families, to our work, to the poop piling up in the backyard. But this morning, as we started our days, snow danced, coffee swirled, tails wagged, and little girls jumped in pink tutus. Perhaps this is where the magic lives. In the swirling, the rising milk, the wagging. Beauty exists in the every-day, ordinary cold.

Slow down. Stop moving so fast. Take a breath. What else can you see when you wake up to grey?

Slightly cooler …

It’s supposed to get cold tonight. Nine degrees. Nine. When we left two weeks ago it was in the 80s. Now, I’m prepping for nine. Sometimes life shifts abruptly, at others it eases. I’m not ready for the shock of nine. So as I sit and gather your lists, I look out my kitchen window. Leaves turn yellow and the weather prepares to drop while I think about shivering, cozy blankets, and warm meals like lasagna and chili.

Thank you to the following contributors for sharing your beauty with me.

#403 The weather shifting into slightly cooler temperatures, promising cozy fall evenings to come
#404 Running into old friends out of the blue in random places!
#405 Strangers who say “bless you” when you sneeze, it’s a nice reminder that we’re all paying attention to each other and care
#406 Getting random discounts at my local coffee shop and wine store! Because who doesn’t love coffee and wine?
#407 Watching sunlight reflect off of rain-soaked streets and sidewalks
#408 Petting big pups outside of the local coffee shop
#409 Feeling successful at work after a long time of not feeling great about it
#410 Getting to know someone in a new relationship!
#411 Walking into a restaurant/store and realizing that it’s happy hour/50% off whatever you were going to buy
#412 Finding the perfect song(s) for your mood when you need them

#403 – #412 Contributed by Katie Myers

#413 I have a job that I can grow in
#414 And the opportunity to grow my own business and blog as well
#415 Family and Friends that love me
#416 A super sweet pup
#417 The beautiful Fall weather to enjoy
#418 The ability to release into my artwork
#419 Hot tea to curl up with
#420 Always a good book to read
#421 A great new car this year
#422 Food to eat everyday

#413 – #422 Contributed by Laura Romberger

#423 Fresh snow fall
#424 Watching Frozen with my girls
#425 Playing Candyland with a 3 year old
#426 Pumpkin spice flavor (now that it’s October)
#427 Prayer time
#428 Children napping at the same time
#429 fireplaces

#423 – #429 Contributed by Elizabeth Timpe

#430 being surrounded by Music
#431 a long conversation with an old friend
#432 When it rains, but the sun is still shining somehow
#433 Driving through a familiar place late at night when it’s empty and quiet and peaceful
#434 A song that perfectly articulates something you needed to hear

#430 – #434 Contributed by Laura Glyda

#435 I have an amazing and supportive family. Missing them as much as I do is a daily reminder of how much I adore them
#436  I have found a field of work that fulfills me and about which I am crazy passionate
#437 A cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a good book on a crisp fall day
#438 I have the means to pay for an apartment that is warm and safe and beautiful in one of the greatest cities in the world
#439 My body is healthy and it allows me to do the things that I love to do
#440 Dogs
#441 The fact that strangers let me pet their dogs as I talk to them on funny voices
#442 A beautiful soul that remains a bright spot in my life despite our recent break up
#443 I get be with my family to celebrate Thanksgiving this year
#445 Joining a CrossFit gym has allowed me to feel like an athlete again

#435 – #445 Contributed by Leah Wylie

#445 the first snow of the season
#446 Puppy cuddles near the fireplace
#447 Video games that make me feel like I’m still a kid
#448 Binging seasonal movies
#449 That way a good book magically transports you to another world
#450 Family and friends to share life with. 😊💕❄️

#445 – 450 Contributed by Carly Hennegan

#451 Having enough money to travel to a different country and explore a new place every year
#452 Having friends from other countries, visiting them in their countries, learn their culture and also bring them around at my home country.
#453 Having stayed overseas in Sweden for 6 months to learn how to be independent. In Singapore, most people stay with their parents until they move out to their own house with their spouse.
#454 Having a supportive family that encourage you to chase your dreams and to help me up when I’m down.
#455 Having a lot of different cuisines in my country. Good food makes me happy and I’m lucky that my country has great food.

#451 – #455 Contributed by Chee Zhiquan


We are so close to 500! With only a few days left of the challenge, I invite you to share your list of 5-10 things going well in your world right now. More details are here. Tag a friend and spread the word!

April Favorite Things

He is risen! Happy Easter! Death has lost its sting!

I always love the meaning of Holy Week and hope you find today to be full of peace, hope, and restoration. If you’re more into chocolate than the Gospel, you’re still in a safe space.

Have a Cadbury Egg and think of me. Speaking of Cadbury Eggs…. my Favorite Things!

  1. Cadbury Mini Eggs

Not sure these really require an explanation. They bring chocolate with a candy coated shell to a whole new level. And I’ve been eating mini bags full since February. No shame. If you go to the grocery store tomorrow, they’ll probably be on sale. Or you can order them in bulk, here.

2. War on a Sunday Morning (Home-Front Heroes) by Teresa Funke

Over the years, Author Teresa Funke has become a friend and mentor. I have the privilege of working and learning with her. I am so excited about the release of her newest book that tells the story of Pearl Harbor through the eyes of a teenage girl. One of my favorite references she includes is to a 1940’s movie star who later became President. Can you guess who that may be? For more information on her series for middle-age readers and books for adults based on true stories from World War Two, view her website.

3. Earrings

Ha! Aren’t these funny?

I pierced my ears. At the age of 29. It’s ok, I’m just a little behind. This was part of my list of 29 Things to Do Before I Turn 30 list. So I checked one milestone off! I am exploring choices for jewelry that I previously ignored because I haven’t worn earrings since I was thirteen.   I’ve got six weeks more until I can change out the studs.

4. Ugh Mug

Yup. Some mornings feel like this. Some days feel like this. Coffee always helps. Laughing too. And mugs that you can wrap your hands around. Find warmth. Comfort. Sip. Sigh.

5. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

Some folks at work really value sustainability. We use all natural cleaning products and reusable mugs, and cloth napkins at our office. At first it was an adjustment. Now, as a result, my behaviors at home are starting to change. I’m starting to replace a lot of my toxic cleaning materials with Dr Bronners products and I love how versatile they are. Next thing to replace, toothpaste.

Check back next month to see if I’ve made my own cloth napkins.

Now, where are my mini eggs?

February Favorite Things

I’m back on the bean.

The truth will set you free, they say, and the truth is tea is just not as good as coffee. I tried. I failed. I’ll drink a bit more Earl Grey tea, but coffee has my heart. I’m trying to limit the vanilla syrup and switch to honey. Again, not as good. But I’m sipping my way towards less sugar and more love for myself when I “slip up”… or sip up. I crack myself up.

Ahh February. Typically the weather is colder, we get more snow, and I’m sad because Christmas and my birthday are over. February means I’m in for the long haul towards Spring. It’s not my favorite month, but here are a few of my favorite things that can make the month more bearable.

  1. Felt Letter Boards

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My friend got me a changeable letter board for my birthday and I am so excited! I am using it for a little fun this month. Send me your favorite beauty quote and I’ll capture it on my board and share it on Instagram. Then I’ll round up all the contributions for a special post at the end of the month. Leave a comment here or send your thoughts on beauty to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. Keep in mind, the phrase has to fit on a felt board.

Other future uses: Cocktail lists for parties. Positive vibes. Dinner Menus. Bible Verses. Love notes to Dylan or to myself.  Show your friends just how quippy you can be. It has retro charm and modern day potential.

2. Zucchini Noodles

Cutting out carbs seems sad. I love pasta. And potatoes. And carbs. Yet, I’m slowly pulling myself up on the Paleo bandwagon and trying to integrate healthier meals into the rotation. This Spiralizer will help. Come over for zoodles or maybe I’ll make you ribbons of butternut squash. The possibilities are endless.

Let this cookbook be our guide.

3.Groundhog Day

The old classic. I like it. It’s a reminder that we have choices in how we live our lives. That we can make changes, break out of routines, keep practicing until we get it right. Perhaps About Time captures these themes better, but one must pay homage to Bill Murray every February 2nd.

4. Air Plants

I kill plants. But Pinterest promises me all these plants need to live is air. They can pull the nutrients they need from the AIR. I just have to soak them in water once a week and their tangly arms and blooming flowers can grace glass bottles and hang from my book shelves with little effort. I got six for my birthday and I’m still placing them around my house. And ps, did you know you can buy PLANTS on Amazon? Of course you can.

5. RxBars

My new favorite protein bar. Again, a Paleo thing. But these protein bars have real ingredients, low sugar, and are tasty! I like the mint chocolate flavor. Dylan prefers peanut butter. I like that I feel full in the morning and there are no mystery ingredients. Throw one in your purse. Stick on in your husband’s work bag. Have a snack. Share the love.

Except When

On Saturday, when I told the ladies in my book group that I was giving up coffee, six loud voices retorted, “WHY?”

Why give up the nectar of the gods?

“Just switch to an Americano,” one said while another quickly spoke over her and said “Yeah, I had to break up with my white mochas too.”

Because at the end of December, when I was still in the holiday festivities and drinking eggnog lattes, my pants got tighter and I’m trying to cut back. That’s why. Sure I could run, but that’s more torturous than no coffee.

Because tea, as you now know, is supposed to be my new thing.

Except when, ugh, it’s not.

I’m ten days in and English Breakfast Tea with honey and milk is NOT AS GOOD AS A VANILLA LATTE. I’m a little tense. The caffeine headaches are real. I’ve got 21 days to go until I might just say… will probably say… screw this and invite my favorite beans back into my life.

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Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

Trying to hold yourself to new standards is a beautiful thing. Except when those standards drive you crazy and instead turn into punishment.

This week we got a rather large dental bill. Dylan calls me Smaug, like from the Lord of the Rings books, because I prefer to watch my savings account slowly increase rather than spend on myself or use those resources to meet my needs. So when I saw the amount due, my stomach dropped and I began to get tense.

No coffee + large expense = tense

“Have gratitude that you have the resources to pay the bill,” my mother said as I griped to her about the cost of adulthood. Ah, she is so wise.

So I started chanting in my head – I’m grateful we have the resources to take care of ourselves and our bodies – and slowly the stomach ache fear that comes with big bills began to dissipate.

I believe that saving money is a beautiful thing.  Except when it’s not. When my obsession turns into stomach aches I have to remind myself to let resources flow. Turn over the money and say there will be more opportunities for funds and abundance to come our way.

And tonight, when we went out with Dylan’s new friends I tried really hard not to watch the clock as the minutes passed and the time spent away from the dog ticked by. Knowing Olive’s past track record with us being gone for long periods of time has led to destruction and mess. I sat over beers and had visions of our only good couch left torn to shreds, or Olive laying in a pile of the remains of our kitchen rug as she looks up me saying, “Well where the hell have you been?” I drove home quickly, even saying aloud, “Just a few more minutes Olive.” I opened the door expecting disaster and took a deep breath.

Nothing. No mess. All our furniture intact and a dog, very ready to go outside, smiling at me as if to say sure I make messes “Except when I don’t.”

So this week there is beauty in setting goals and freedom in saying maybe not. Beauty in having principles and penny pinching and grace for understanding that discipline led to provision.  Beauty found in being present rather than dwelling on the next pending disaster coming our way.

Beauty in remembering I get to live on the swing of life’s situations presented to me, swaying between yes, no, and except when with smiles on my face.

Beam of Light – Bailey D.

Bailey D.

I am a twenty something, “freshly wed” living in Northern Colorado. I love animals, cooking, being in nature, and have a natural talent for procrastination;)

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Life can sometimes, actually quite often, make me feel like a crazy person. I struggle with stress, insecurity, FOMO (fear of missing out), doubt, and a general sense of failing to do it all “right.” From time to time, I stumble upon a  “love note moment” that gently brings my spiraling mind back to the grounding truth.  Seeing a rosebud blooming in the midst of its own leaves changing color. Watching massive flocks of geese head south in the crisp winter air, so confident in their natural sense of direction. My extremely moody cat choosing to curl up in the crook of my knees and purr as I drift off to sleep. A beautiful piece of latte art that makes my coffee an experience rather than just a means to an end. The sense of awareness that accompanies such plain and simple moments, makes them extraordinary in their own light. And then it becomes a little easier to see myself as less “lacking” and a touch more extraordinary in my own light.

 

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions through December 31st. 

Beam of Light – Katie M.

My sweet, sweet friend submitted this year’s first entry to the Give Light Giveaway.  Boom.

Katie M. 

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Hi again friends! If you don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m a late twenty-something trying to take daily steps towards something beautiful, both in myself and in life. I’ll never say no to sushi, chocolate, hugs, or a trip to a coffee shop. Make me laugh or laugh at my jokes, and we’ll be fast friends.

I am very excited to participate again in this life-giving idea of giving light. I decided to take a different approach from my last submission and draw out a few of the things that have given me light recently. You may need to zoom in 🙂

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You can follow Katie on her blog Live Step By Step. She’s also previously contributed to 52 Beautiful Things here  & here.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway. I’m accepting submissions until December 31st. 

Ode to the Eggnog Latte

It’s pretty simple this week. I choose to share a poem.

Because I’ve never met an eggnog latte I didn’t like.

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Enter a caption

You come a teasin’ every November first

in pretty red cups, taste buds ready to burst

But you know my rule, hard deadlines a must

no holiday drinks til turkey bones turn dust.

With each pass by coffee shops, a favorite of places,

your scent escapes wafting right in our faces.

The vanilla beans mixing with nutmeg and spice

taunting, ‘You know just one sip might be nice’.

You beckon me bashfully right in the door

breaking rules, pushing boundaries just a little bit more.

“One eggnog latte” this woman requests

ignoring her scruples and feeling distressed.

The coffee comes quickly, in that beautiful cup.

One sip. Sigh. Two. Now drink it all up.

You may be bad for me, BUT you fill me with cheer.

How many magic concoctions will be consumed this year?

What’s with the Glitter?

 

My co-worker asked me today, “Katie, what’s with the glitter on your face?”

Glitter?

Ha – I guess my eyeshadow smudged. I often forget when I’m wearing eye makeup and it smears all over my face as I vigorously rub my eyes.

“Mondays call for a little magic,” I said. Co-worker laughed.

All days call for a little magic. The magic found in tasty, hot apple crisp coming out of the oven and sharing Sunday dinner with family. Magic in the comfort a puppy gives as she rests her paw on your arm as she sleeps. Magic in the ability to drive home safely, pick out and pay for fresh food, drink fresh water that comes out of my own sink.

Magic in the glinting ache of waking up on Saturday and wishing so badly I could eat breakfast with my dad. I entertained the idea of going by myself, to that diner, and sitting at the food counter. Magic in watching the grumpy men turn bread to toast on a conveyor belt.

I couldn’t do it.

Not strong enough – too afraid I’d dissolve into tears spinning on that swiveling stool. I can’t go have breakfast with dad – without dad.

You know what I mean?

I’ve got this vision that someday, when I’m a famous writer, I’ll sit on a swivel stool, sipping coffee in diners across the country and write to him, recording our stories or capturing new versions of me in ink. The crabby waitress will ask if I’m expecting someone because you know, the stool next to me is empty – with perhaps a jean jacket saving his spot – and I’ll have two mugs of coffee. One for me, one for him.

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‘Nope’, I’ll say, ‘I’m just having breakfast with my dad.’

The waitress won’t get it.

Unless she’s lost someone too. Then maybe, just maybe, she’ll fill up the cup and smile. Glitter mixing in with her bright blue eye shadow, like I used to wear in junior high.

Someday.

I couldn’t do it. So I invited my mom to breakfast, and we went to the diner – stalking other eaters like vultures so they would give up their spots at the counters. We sat on wooden stools, sipped coffee in those heavy, ceramic diner mugs, and swallowed down the  glinting aches of memory and longing with an orange juice chaser.

As I drove home, missing him, Here Comes the Sun came on the radio. Our song. Hi Daddy – I say, whenever I hear that song on the radio.

Sunlight dancing on my windshield. Glitter.

The beautiful thing about art – sometimes others speak exactly what you are thinking in their own medium. This song below captures all my questions I have about grief  – talking to those gone – where do we put our love?

 

Feeling connected through another artists’ thoughts, songs, aches.

Magic.