10 Brave Girl Life Hacks for Peaceful Living

People close to me tell me I’m a peaceful person and that I carry an air of peacefulness and serenity. Hmphf. HMPHF. I guess. The truth is that sometimes I don’t feel much like that on the inside, but peace is critical to me and getting there is an ongoing battle of choices. You see, I really really REALLY dislike gut-wrenching or even just unsettling feelings of anxiety and discord and contention. (You do, too, I’m sure.) I even tested mostly ‘white’ on one of those online personality tests…the results told me that peace is a huge deal to me (no surprise there).  So I make ‘rules’ for myself that decrease anxiety in my day to day life. Here’s a list of 10 of those ‘rules’…in no certain order and probably not even the Top 10, but some darn good ones that help me go through my days with more peace and less anxiety. How can that be anything but a good thing? Let’s roll…

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1. Park in the same row every time you shop. 

One thing that makes me looney tunes is when I go to the grocery store and I have twenty zillion things on my mind and I’m trying to remember my list and all the other things I need to do in my day, etc etc etc. Then I check out and push my cart out the door and…..I can’t remember where I parked.Then I have to humiliate myself by pushing my cart all over the lot, back and forth, up and down, until I finally find my car (at which moment I go, oh yeah! now I remember! Argh.). One day after this happened for the zillionth time, I decided right then and there that I would never let it happen again. I would park in the same row from then on. I chose the middle row of the parking lot as ‘MY ROW’…a perfectly fine row that usually has a pretty good spot open since it’s not the closest to either of the two entrances. If ‘MY ROW’ is kind of full and I have to park waaaay out there, well my thighs can use the walk. Guess what….IT WORKS. I always know exactly where to head when I exit the grocery store. No worry, no thinking, no anxiety, no embarrassment. Bingo. I now apply this rule whenever I park in any big lot. I LOVE this rule!

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2. Wait 48 hours before saying yes to anything.

This is the secret for those who have a hard time saying no…those who get roped into doing all sorts of things they don’t want to do until they find themselves over-committed and worn out. Here’s how it generally happens….you get cornered or someone calls you up and asks you to serve on a committee or build a booth for the school carnival or be your daughter’s soccer coach or… you fill in the blank. You feel cornered and put on the spot and you’re a nice person, so you say ‘Okay’ or even ‘ Of course, I’d love to!’ Then you think about it later and kick yourself because you’re already over-committed and that ‘one more thing’ is going to put you over the edge. Now…in order to make room in your life for people you LOVE and the things you LOVE to do, you simply must prioritize and make choices, and that means saying no sometimes. And saying no is awkward and feels weird, especially when you are cornered and you don’t have time to think. So the rule is this: NEVER say yes right off the bat….give yourself at least 48 hours. Practice saying,  “Let me think about that and check on some things, and I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.” Say it with a pretty smile, and the person will be perfectly satisfied with your answer. Then you CAN think about and make a good decision. It might be yes, but it might be no. And after 48 hours, if your answer is no just say, “I’ve really given it some thought and checked on a few things, and unfortunately I’m just not going to be able to fit that in right now. Thank you so much for asking, and I hope next time you ask me again.”….something like that. Don’t explain why! If they are rude and pressure you or ask for an explanation, just keep repeating yourself. “I’m so sorry, it’s just not possible for me right now.”  You’re in charge of yourself. You’re gonna love me for this rule.  PS. Nice people won’t pressure you…they will cheer you on for setting priorities and knowing your limits. Truth, baby.

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3. Be early. You know the feeling….you’re in the car, rushing to some thing or another,and you are barely going to make it even if every light is green and the traffic cooperates. You keep frantically checking the clock on your dashboard, and the seconds and minutes fly by. You say mean things to the cars in front of you…. things like, ‘Come on! Come oooooooon!!!!! Move it!’….snippy things a Brave Girl like you generally doesn’t say. You tap impatiently on the steering wheel. You drive too fast. You finally scream into the parking lot at the very last second, or maybe even late. You’re embarrassed and distracted and your heart is beating fast and you’re sweating…you rush in and have to apologize for being late. You’ve been there…I have. And there’s NOTHING peaceful about that situation. Good news is the cure is simple…decide that you will always be early. Decide that from now on, if something starts at 7:oo, in your mind you are planning to be there at 6:45. You may be surprised, because it’s actually pretty easy most of the time. It’s a decision, and the rewards are sweet. Here’s how it’ll go….you’re in the car…when you happen to  glance at the clock on the dashboard once in a while you smile…you have plenty of time. You smile at people in other cars. You listen to the radio and sing along. You notice the pretty scenery along the way. You get to your destination and you see that you have a few minutes to brush your hair and put on some lipstick or make a phone call or just sit and collect your thoughts. When you go in you feel put together and calm. You feel good, you feel GREAT. You feel in control….you feel peaceful. Be early. Totally worth it.

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4. Put the house to bed.  Mornings…we have one every day. Generally the way we have done things (or not done them) the night before determines how things will go in the morning. Did you ever get up and walk into the kitchen and feel exasperated or short tempered because there are dishes in the sink and stuff all over the counter? You have to shove things out of the way just to make breakfast. You’re looking for papers you need or that the kids need. You’re trying to get things done quickly so you can get out the door, but things keep getting in your way. Your living room is cluttered with everyone’s ‘stuff’…someone is frantically looking for lost homework or shoes or keys. Chaos!  My friend, here’s what you do…. before you put your own sweet self to bed at night, put your house to bed. Take five minutes to clean her up and tuck her in. Everyone in the family can help with this, even the littlest kidlets. Pick up the living room, load the dishwasher and turn it on, clear the counters, put things where they belong, set out the things you’ll need to take with you the next day. Honestly, it’ll just take a few minutes, and it’ll pay off BIG with a more peaceful and calm morning.

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5. Make your bed first thing in the morning. No matter what. Even if your room is a sea of chaos and clothes and messiness, if you make your bed it’ll stand in the middle of it all like an island of order and serenity. And it’ll feel GOOD.  Next time you make your bed, time yourself. You’ll find that you can probably make your bed in less than a minute, and you’ll feel better all day long!

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6. “Go outside and play!”. I’m sure there are studies and scientific research that tell us what happens to our minds and bodies and souls when we are outside in nature, but we all learned this as kids…. there is something magnificent that happens when we are outside. Most of us could easily spend the whole day inside, so we have to be intentional about this. Make sure that every single day you get outside in nature. Fresh air, trees, water, grass….no matter what time of year. You’ll feel anxiety and pressure and stress slip away.

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7. Unload the dishwasher before you start cooking. Someone taught me this when I first started my family, and it’s so simple but pays off with big dividends. When you start a meal, just empty the dishwasher so you have someplace to put all the dirty dishes as you go. You know how it feels when you’re working in the kitchen and the dishes are piling up, and you’re juggling a dozen different things, and things get messier and then you’re putting things on top of other things and running out of space…aaaak!  If your dishwasher is empty FIRST, you have someplace to put all those dishes as you go. That dishwasher will have to get emptied sometime anyway…so why not do it FIRST and avoid the massive pile-up? If you don’t have a dishwasher, run a big sink of soapy water and drop the dirty dishes and utensils in as you go. Booyah.

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8. Put your shopping cart away. It’s the right thing to do, even if no one else does it. And it feels good.

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9. Say ‘You could be right.’  With very few exceptions,  it’s just not worth it to win an argument or to even have an argument…even if you’re sure you’re right! This is one of my favorite things, because it keeps the peace and shows people that they are important to me, and it means I don’t have to have arguments or ‘discussions’ to prove a point. When someone says something that I could argue with, such as “Actually the right way to fold those towels is like this…” or  something that I don’t necessarily agree with but really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, I just say, “You could be right!”  It doesn’t mean I actually agree or that I’ll do it that way. (And they really COULD be right, I guess.) Most things simply don’t matter enough to disagree or fight about them.Practice saying, “You could be right!” Then smile, because…well, you know.

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10. Ask for help. For some reason, we girl-types sometimes think we have to carry the whole big ol’ world on our shoulders, and that everything will collapse if we let up for a second. Then when things get to be too much and we feel overwhelmed, we get cranky and short with people, and we feel unhappy and definitely not peaceful. Girl, ya gotta ask for help. It would be nice if everyone just pitched in and helped without being asked, but give that fantasy up…they are probably not going to.  So ask…just ask. Kindly tell people what you need and how they can help you. Don’t get mean…don’t demand or criticize. That’s not going to get you to that peaceful place you want.  Ask before you get cranky…ask when you’re still able to be sweet and cheerful. Just ask…and never punish people when they fail to help if you haven’t asked them to. Just ask.

There are LOTS more we could talk about…I’m sure you can think of a bunch. Another 10 Brave Girl Life Hacks are coming soon…. If you have peaceful living life hacks, share them in the comments below and we’ll compile them into a future post.

Wishing you brave and peaceful living!

love,
kathy

PS. I do realize that sometimes certain situations and medical conditions cause anxiety that can’t be prevented by such simple little tactics. I’m sure you understand that I am talking about something entirely different…daily annoyances that can cause simple anxiety and that can be prevented by personal choices.

Welcome To My Makerie

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I am not sure just why I picked this little space in the nest to make my little workshop. I have plenty of spaces that would seem to suit me better. Yet, this little space kept calling to me. Really, it’s just a little laundry room in the basement.. I love the laundry shoot. I love the sink… But the rest of this space was really,  grimy and …. Truth be told kinda horrible. I went to work with a good old fashion scrubbing. I painted the cabinets and walls. I scrubbed the floor. It still needs a shelf or two… For now it is clean and comfortable.

drawer makery

makery 2

After the paint had dried and the floors were cleaned, this space became my space.  I decided to give this space a name. All I needed was a sunny afternoon. Stencil letters. A bit of black paint, ruler, pencil and a steady hand.

letters

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I am not sure what kind of place you have. Maybe you have a corner on the dining room table…I actually did that for years. You might have a huge brightly lit organized space you call your own. Whatever the space, whatever the size, I hope you go to that place often to become more of who you want to be.

The Makerie is that place for me. This little space helps me find myself when I get lost. This little place is cool in the Summer. It’s warm in the winter. It a safe place for me to dance, or cry. To create dreams or realize some dreams don’t come true. I figure out things about making stuff…  About death and life… Happiness and sorrow. This little place is a very simple little space. Nothing fancy… It suits me just fine.

I wish a space like this for you. It might not even be a physical space at this time in your life.  A place you go the create a better you. The ocean calls, the trees sway in the wind…. Today I open the door and walk into this little place. I play my music. I light my candles.  I spend hours in this space creating for brave girls club. Sometimes the washer and dryer are humming along. In the Spring and Summer the door is open to the world outside. Today the birds are singing the dogs are running in and out. This little space helps me become my best me. That’s why I named this little space of mine “The Makerie.”

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This little place didn’t cost much. Some time, soap, scrubbing, paint and a dream for a little space of my own. I want this so much for you as well. I dream of a place where you can create and become and feel happy in.

 

Go look around your nest. Find that little corner… That little room.  That outside space that makes you feel alive and safe.

From my heart to yours.

patrice

Somehow we learn to trust the path

This path through life is interesting.

Sometimes it gives us sunny skies with beautiful views.  Sometimes the path is twisty, and we are pleasantly surprised when we see what is around the corner.  Sometimes the path is uphill and strenuous, sometimes it’s downhill and our legs move so fast we can hardly keep up.

Once in a while, the path goes through ugly, dark, rainy, stormy, treacherous places…places we don’t think we can get through…places we don’t want to be….places we never thought our path would go through.

Those kinds of places do things to hearts and minds and souls.

Those kinds of places turn our moods into a summer day in Idaho….ever-changing and unpredictable.   We can be sad and angry and confused and accepting all in the same minute.

“I don’t want to be this.”
“I don’t want to do this.”
This wasn’t part of the plan.”
“I can’t make it through this.”
“I don’t see light on the other side of this.”
“I can’t handle this right now.”
This will break me.”
This will break them.”
“I don’t have enough strength for this.”
“I don’t have enough faith for this.”

not-enough-strength

“Maybe I can get through this.”
“No, I for sure can’t.”
This is too big for me to do.”
“My plan did not include this.”

“How can this be?”

“Why would God let this happen to me?”
“How could I let this happen to me?”

This will ruin everything.”

“I can’t do this.”

And with those words our paths get lonely.  And scary.  And darker than the night.  Terrifying, confusing, disorienting.

Sometimes we feel like we’ve been knocked out and we wake up to find that our path has become completely unrecognizable.  Getting back on our feet takes a long time and makes us feel resentful because of the time we lose picking ourselves up…time we could have spent making progress on the path.

We wonder what happened to the pleasant views…the sweet smells and soft breezes we’d enjoyed before.  Sometimes they become impossible to remember and we start to think there’s only ever been darkness on our path.

In those shadowy places, we are left to feel our way through the darkness.  Even though we’d rather stop…even though we can’t imagine what could possibly be in front of us, we move forward…

And in the driving rain and the howling wind we learn new things about ourselves.

We learn new things about our God.

We learn to close our eyes and get quiet and listen.

Light steps

We learn to trust the path.

Eventually we learn that every winding, twisting, dark, scary part of the path ends and relief is found.

When we have passed that place and can look back, we see lessons we wouldn’t have learned, people we wouldn’t have met, experiences we come to treasure.

When we look back, we see compassion and love and gratitude and purpose that was waiting for us in the dark place.

We learn that the path is leading us to Truth, and that Truth intends to see us through.

please stay on pathWe learn that our paths won’t be all sunshine and roses…they couldn’t be.

But we also learn that they won’t be all darkness and fear.

We become more and more okay with the twists and turns….more and more grateful for blue skies and views that take our breath away.

Brave Girls Club - we walk on

And we walk on…rain or shine.

love,
kallie

I showed up angry, I showed up sad, I showed up hivey and chubby and exhausted…… the summer of LIGHTER AND LIGHTER is almost over.

I am on day 90 of a 100 day hiatus from how my life WAS….and before I start writing about what exactly transpired over these months……….I wanted to set the stage. I am SO READY to close this chapter. This was no sabbatical….it was more like an emotional/physical/ mental boot camp. Today I can be all light hearted and cheerful about it…..in the middle….I wasn’t so much fun to be around. This was not my favorite summer of all time.

I made it

This blog post is gonna sound really ugly at the beginning but I promise it all turns out in the end.

to show up

As someone who tries to see the bright side of everything, as someone who believes in extracting the valuable lesson in everything and letting the rest go……it has been a terrifying few months when I could do neither. I have known myself as someone who could will myself to do just about anything….someone who could overcome and just press on….power through it. Tough it out. Well……

My 100 day hiatus is almost up. In May, after nearly 2 years of chronic hives and a gradual decline in vitality….then a swift decline in vitality and a startling weight gain, I decided to take the summer to really figure out what was going on with my body.  I did not write much, even though I had planned on it, because it was all just too personal…I know you get that. Also….I didn’t have much to say that was good or inspiring. Things got much worse before they finally started to get better….in fact, I was sure I was ruined for life when I was just a few weeks in. I did not have it in me to see the bright side of that. What I learned this summer was that although my symptoms most certainly manifested in my body…..they started in my head, my heart and my soul. Shutting my body down was my self’s last resort to get me to stop and take care of some old, yucky infected soul wounds that I have powered through but never let myself feel angry about…hurt about….I have never let myself grieve things that were lost by natural causes, lost by unfairness, lost by my own decisions, lost by things that were out of control. My way of dealing with everything has always been to press on…press on…press on…….power through it and always always always look at the bright side.

Well…then I got sick. In June…..I got diagnosed with Stage 3 adrenal exhaustion. This was after, like I said, nearly 2 years of disfiguring welts and hives that moved all over my body and stayed for weeks at a time. After all of the blood and saliva tests….I learned I was depleted in everything. Even my cholesterol was low! There was nothing left in my body to power through with…not even a drop. My doctor said….‘you have squeezed every last drop of every single thing out of your body…….you have no choice but to stop and replenish it all…and it takes a while to do that.

melody ross i dont want to look like this

2 years of chronic hives, stage 3 adrenal fatigue and a 30 pound weight gain….hellooooooo, healing hiatus…where are you????? (and by the way….WHAT THE H????? Remember, God, that I just finished this 10 year marathon of helping my husband heal and seeing our life fall apart and working my bootie off to put it all back together…….and now this??? WHY???)

why this

That is when I stopped writing.

That is when I got madder than mad. (I was even mad at my doctor) This is new for me…I really and truly thought I did not have the gene that helps people to feel anger….turns out, I just had a really thick wall with a really locked up gate that held in all of my very human anger….years and years and years of it.

That is when I pretty much stayed in my bedroom and cried and made art from my bed all summer because I lost my energy and my zoom and my pizazz and my sparkle… and all I could do was rest most days….another totally new experience for me.

and….that is when I went into a pity party of such sizable proportions that I didn’t even know who I was.

i do not understand

This summer (and for the last 2 years) I had grotesque hives in ways that made me look like that guy in Goonies…no matter what I did..they itch, they hurt, they make me want to hide and sleep in a bathtub of oatmeal…….my weight climbed, leaving me 30 pounds heavier than I was before this all happened. My energy went away, my joy went away and I every day I faced a new issue. It was not the best year of my life.

I have WANTED to write….I have wanted to write blog posts with titles like “2014, the year I got old and dried up, puffed up and messed up” or…..”when beauty and youth fade overnight and leave you a shell of human” or…..just simply “life is not fair and it really really REALLY sucks.”

but…I didn’t. I am glad I didn’t. Hopefully you can see why I stopped writing. In fact, my writing has withered over the last 2 years since those hives showed up because my energy, my vitality, my sparkle, my shine, my confidence, my smile, my mojo….all of it was slowly draining out of me…….but I just kept powering through it instead of filling it back up.

I will tell you that I wanted a magic pill….a magic program….a silver bullet…..a secret code….SOMETHING that would make me better overnight. I believe in choosing happiness above all else…I never thought it would be so hard for ME to find it. I thought happiness was my special talent!!  It has felt very unfair when I begged and I begged and I prayed and I prayed to be healed. It made me feel very sad, mad and negative for lots weeks that turned into lots of months. I don’t like this side of me that behaves this way….but I do love her. She has put up with so much. Soooo, I finally let that side of me be as mad and as sad as she wanted to be….I surrendered to it….and I let her say it, I let her feel it…I sat next to her through it. When she would listen…I would tell her that it was gonna pass and everything would be happy again.

…and I even started therapy…which I have never ever ever done.

I was so thankful when, after talking for 2 hours…..my therapist said….”you have been through a LOT of trauma, dear…..you HAVE to let yourself heal from that….you have to let yourself be mad at how unfair it felt, how sad it felt, how lost you felt, how alone you felt…..you have to work through this anger and sorrow and despair.”

So…I started doing that.

I am doing that.

I wrote in one of my first “lighter and lighter” posts about how it knocked the wind out of me when I realized that my husband can not remember the worst things that happened during his 4-5 years of mental illness that resulted after his brain injury. I think I started going downhill fast when I realized that we were never going to be able to heal from those years together because he can not even remember them. It really really REALLY stinks when you are the only one holding memories that have never been dealt with. It makes you feel crazy. It makes you feel infuriated.

-press on beautiful soul

I was reminded that over the last 2 years I have done some major overhauling in my life through facing painful and difficult things that had never been talked about…..on top of my son getting married 2 years ago, my daughter getting married last year and our first grandchild being born this Spring.(all the the most wonderful things you can imagine)  We have moved 5 times in the last 5 years and life was very uncertain for a very long time. We started a new business on a shoestring and gave it all we had. We love everything we do and we give it everything we have…..

Life has just been really grueling….happy and sad…constant going….constant survival mode. Constant POWERING THROUGH IT. It has been this way for more than 10 years.

My body is tired. My soul is tired.

-this might take a while

Plus…….this thing that happens in your 40’s…..when you start to age, you start to look different and feel different….when you start to question everything in life because you have new wisdom…..it is a weird time. Middle age is not for wimps…that’s all I’ve got to say.

SOOOOO…the good news is, dear friends…that I am writing because I am shifting. Everything is shifting. I see the light. My body is balancing….my heart is balancing. I have so much to say about all of the different facets of this………as this summer I have learned so much about my marriage, about being a mother, about being a woman, about being a friend and letting others be a friend to me. I have learned so much about limitations. I have learned so much about choosing…and deciding.  I have learned so much about patience and impatience. I have learned so much about the value of anger and the purpose of anger. I have learned so much about myself….my beloved, precious self (I can say that now and really mean it) I have learned so much about what happens when we believe the yucky lie that we have to pay dearly for anything good, including happiness…..and I am learning every day what GRACE means.

I have been angry at God, angry at myself, angry at my husband’s loss of memory, angry at my body, angry at the world…..I have been angry this summer about how life works. I have been angry angry angry….mostly about things that I can not control…and that made me even angrier.

But I am seeing the other side of it.

When I can…I want to write to you all that I have learned about these chronic hives, about what I’ve learned about hormones…what I’ve learned about adrenals…what I’ve learned about how it’s all connected to old secrets, old memories, old wounds and old stories……..because I want to give you all the information I can about how this healing is evolving so that if you are going through some of the same things….maybe I have a map that will help you on your journey.

Because I AM HEALING. I AM.

melody ross I will tell you the secret

I see this vision of myself coming out of this brighter, happier and more at peace than ever before…….because I went on a quest and I was gifted with some gifts of knowledge and wisdom…….(gifts I may have declined had I been given the choice when they were offered, but that I am profoundly grateful for now)

….thank goodness because I thought this was all just a bunch of crap while I was in the middle of it. I thought this was my new life. Just being honest. I swore a lot, I cried a lot and I felt sorry for myself a lot. I was jealous of others a lot. I begged a lot…I yelled a lot………..I hid out a lot. I did what I needed to do…and I let myself do it.

Ok..this is too long already but I will write more when it is time.

Love you all so much……..please hang in there…stay with it. When my friends kept telling me to HANG IN THERE and STAY WITH IT this summer, I sometimes wanted to punch them in the face, but I knew they loved me and that I could trust them…so I did. I hope you will do the same.

Because life is really hard sometimes….but sometimes that’s what it takes to get us to the next place we are meant to be.

Finally…..as the post is titled…”SHOW UP ANGRY…SHOW UP SAD…” please make sure you reach out when things are tough. This summer it has been a real exercise in trust as I have been honest with my closest circle about how yucky I felt. It is excruciating to have to admit how you really feel, especially when you feel like there is no way out of it. It was a floatation device for me to be able to reach out to a few trusted friends and family and really be honest about how angry, sad and hopeless I felt some days. PLEASE REACH OUT AND BE HONEST…don’t keep it inside. They all told me it would pass…and it always did….even when I was sure it wouldn’t.

You are beloved and important and human…..that means you have human frailties and limitations, that means you have up times and down times……that means you have hard things to learn sometimes. Know how I know that for sure??? Because I am human and I am living it too. Even when there seems to be no good news to share…..reach out, ok?

I promise I will write more about the chronic hives (they are gone!) and I will write more about the adrenal fatigue and the hormone imbalances and the anger…..because I know there are lots of you suffering with the same stuff. Let’s all help each other figure this out.

I feel alive

I am getting better. I feel good today. Good feels sooooooooooooooo amazing…just regular old good feels sooooooooooooooo incredible. What a gift.

melody ross good chronic hives day

I choose happy…………it’s always looking for me just as hard as I am looking for it. The reunion is so exquisitely sweet when we finally find each other again.

xoxoxo

melody

melody ross lighter and lighter end of the battle

Some things can change

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This day was filled with family. Family we had not been with since the last memorial service in the family. We never had any falling out. There were never any harsh words. I am sure somehow feelings had been hurt along the way. Disappointment over expectations not fulfilled…. Then you know that quiet that sets into a relationship when too much time passes? Then that awkward time, when way too much time has passed and it’s just to weird to pick up the phone and say hi. Then you have years of not even knowing someone….

hand blog_edited-1

I arrived with a knot in my gut… You know that feeling? Wondering if there will be anything snarky said. Wondering what has already been said? I tried to go into the day not looking for unkindness, not looking for those little triggers that can spoil a day. Sometime during the day I begin to think…everyone probably has the same feelings. Everyone falls short of the perfect family. People grow up and people change. People have needs and somehow find a way to have those needs taken care of. That is perfectly human. That’s just how some families work… By not working.  Maybe you wish it was different. Maybe it should be different. But it’s not.

We went, we loved, we did the day. We stayed in the moment. I have learned that pain comes when you think things will change and they don’t. Resentment comes when you hold onto what you think things should be like. Freedom comes when you let it go to be what it is…if that is at all possible.

Then ya know what?

The road of life took me on an unexpected journey. I received a message from a brother via FB. This relationship was broken…a relationship I had totally given up on. ‘Hi sis. I live a few hours away from Seattle. Would love to see you.’ We changed our route and began the drive towards him. So much pain. So much sorrow. So many unkind words. So many lies told. So many stories that grew into family truth. I put it all down. Mile by mile… closer and closer…. I let him in. None of it mattered any more. He hugged me. He let me in. Nothing was hashed out. No forgiveness was talked about. But we had peace, my brother and I.

How do I feel? I feel like a miracle happened. Sometimes things happen…sometimes they don’t  It’s just how relationships work…. There are times when the pain is too great. Sometimes relationships never heal. Sometimes it is right to walk away.

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But sometimes relationships heal.

Today, I am sending you hope. You know who you are, dear brave sister.

From my heart to yours,

Patrice

What have you learned about yourself since becoming a Brave Girl? (a sweet Brave Boots video…)

Hi, Braves!

Melody and I (and the rest of the BG team) are working night and day here at the Clubhouse on a BIG NEW project that we hope you will each LOVE (more about that soon)….and our poor blog has been a bit neglected. We promise that will change, but for today I went in search of the coolest thing I could find on our YouTube channel to share with you…something that you might not have ever seen but that is just hanging out there, hoping that someone will notice it.

I found something you will LOVE watching…because it is from YOU…from Brave Girls all over the world. It’s called ‘Brave Boots’ and here’s how it came about…a couple of years ago we asked all of you to send in photos of your Brave Boots (or shoes or whatever…) along with your answers to this question: What have you learned about yourself since becoming a Brave Girl?

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Brock put the photos and answers together into one of the BEST videos we have ever made. I just watched it again and I was reminded of how much I LOVE IT…I love seeing your names and your photos and the things that you so beautifully shared. So whether you’re new here or you’ve been with us forever, this is a fun and moving video. Hope you enjoy it!!

love, kathy

 

 

 

One of my favorite summertime recipes…Pavlova (you can make this…I promise!)

One of my favorite Brave Girl Camp desserts is this….”Pavlova”…..yummmmmmmm…..a fancy word for a DELICIOUS meringue shell filled with sweetened whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit.

I know this looks fancy and complicated, but it is NOT. If I can do it, you can do it, and I’ll show you in this video that it really is pretty simple.  And there is something really magical that happens when you combine the crispy meringue, whipped cream, and some fresh fruit…it is absolutely scrumptious!!! I’ve used peaches, but you can use any kind of fruit you have around….berries are amazing in this dessert.

SO…be brave!! Try making this for someone you love….

And if you’re a words and pictures kind of Brave Girl, here is the photo tutorial version.

Start by gathering your ingredients.  You’ll need:

1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Before you begin, trace 4-inch circles onto a piece of parchment paper that is cut to the size of your baking sheet.  6 circles fit on each of our baking sheets.  You’ll want to space them out – leave about 1 inch between the circles so your meringue has enough room to grow a little in the oven.

Next, separate the eggs.  It will take about 4 egg whites to get 1/2 a cup, but measure.  When we did this, the eggs we used were small, so it took 5.  Definitely measure.

The easiest way we’ve found to separate eggs is to crack the egg, then drop it into your fingers.  Let the white fall through into a bowl and the yolk will stay intact in your hand.  Set the yolks aside to use for something else. (Make sure that not even a teeny trace of yolks gets in with the whites or the whites will not whip…everything has to be free of any kind of oil or fat….trust me on this.)

Next, whip the eggs for just a few seconds, until they’re frothy…like this:

Once the eggs are a little frothy, add all the other ingredients…the vanilla, vinegar, cream of tartar and sugar.  Then let the mixer go on high speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture is glossy and stiff.  You want to be sure that the sugar is entirely dissolved.  When you think it’s done, put a little of the meringue on your fingers and rub it between your finger and thumb.  If it feels grainy at all, it’s not done.  If it feels smooth, it’s done!  It should look like this:

The best way to form the shells…the way it turns out prettiest is to pipe them BUT you don’t have to pipe them (we’ll show you how in a minute).  If you’re piping though, you can use a piping bag with a large star tip or a ziplock bag with the end cut off.  To fill the bag with the least amount of frustration and mess, put your piping bag into a pitcher and fold it over the edge.  Then fill the bag.

Twist the piping bag until the meringue just starts to come out the tip.

You’ll find that the parchment paper might try to slide all over your cooking sheet.  The trick we use is to put a dab of meringue as glue on each of the corners.  The circles you drew on the parchment paper will be your guides as you pipe.  Be sure they are on the bottom side of the parchment paper when you ‘glue’ it down.

Then pipe little nests.  Start by making a circle that fits inside of the circles you drew…(it will grow and spread a bit in the oven).  Once you have a circle, go around the outside of the circle one more time to form a bowl…like a second story wall on the outside of the circle.

If you don’t have a piping bag or a ziplock, you can form your meringues with a spoon…like this:

If you have leftover meringue in your piping bag, don’t throw it out!  Use it to make little meringue kisses…mmmmm…

The meringues will go into a 350 degree (F) oven for 10 minutes.  Then lower the temperature to 300 degrees (F) and let them bake for 20 minutes.

When they are baked, they will look like this.  DON’T take them out of the oven yet.  Crack the oven door and let them dry out in the warm oven for 1 -2 hours before you get them out. (You want them to be completely dry and crispy…and that reminds me to tell you that you shouldn’t make these on a humid day…unless you want chewy meringues…hmmmm….come to think of it, that might be good….but I digress…)

While they’re drying out, you can get your toppings together.  This time, we used sweetened whipped cream and peaches…we’ve used all kind of fruit.  One of our favorites is berries.  Oh yum.

Add a dollop of whipped cream and fruit to the meringue…and Voila!  Pavlova!

Serve it on a pretty plate to someone you love….this is my little grandson, Jackson. He has a way of making a cook feel pretty good….

 

Try it and let me know how it turns out!

love, kathy

PS. True confessions: Say the shells are a total flop and they come out all wonky looking…(not that that I would ever admit that it has happened to me….) You can still turn it into a gorgeous dessert. Just crunch up the crispy meringues into big chunks and stir them into the whipped cream. Layer this in a goblet with the fruit…it will be gorgeous and delicious and everyone will think that’s how you planned it all along. (*wink*)

 

Thank You!! – We made you a video to celebrate!!!!! (it’s really short and really awesome! please please please watch!)

Last week we hit a huge milestone, thanks to ALL of you…..not only are we celebrating 5 years together as Brave Girls Club…but we now have 100,000 of you with us as Facebook fans!

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We put together lots of ways to thank you and we hope you will watch this little video…..we love you all SO MUCH and want you to know that there are many wonderful things ahead! Next month we will be launching the most exciting thing in Brave Girl history and we are working really hard to make it FANTASTIC! So…..stay tuned, and for now, please watch this video that we made JUST FOR YOU!

 

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Here’s to 100,000 more Brave Girls and many many many more lifetimes of Brave Girl goodness for all of us and for all of the generations to come. We love and appreciate you and we could never do this without all of us!

xoxo

melody and kathy

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Whatever it is….you can LEARN it!!

When I was ten years old, my friend asked me if I wanted to play on her softball team.  I thought it would be so cool to be on a team….I also remember thinking these exact thoughts:

“I haven’t ever played softball….I don’t know if I can do it….everyone else has been playing since they were 5…I’m going to look like an idiot…I don’t have all the right stuff…I don’t know all of the rules…I don’t know ANY of the rules….”

Despite my worries, my angel mother helped me get all signed up and everything worked out.  I know those worries seem silly when you’re an adult and you know know they’re coming from a 10-year-old….because you can look at that 10-year-old and say all of the adult things you know….

But have you ever had 10-year-old girl worries?  The ones that sound like this:

“What do I know?  Everyone else probably already knows everything.  And they probably all have natural talent, which is why they’re all so much better than me.  I probably couldn’t measure up.  I probably shouldn’t even try.  They’re all ahead of me anyway, I’ll never catch up.”

As if it’s some kind of contest or race.  Easier to tell that to some 10-year-old than to the aging woman in the mirror, right?  Or is it just me?

Do you know how old Julia Child was when she learned how to cook?  You know who Julia Child is, right?  She’s known all over the world…she’s famous for her cookbooks, her expertise, her passion for good food and her ability to make complicated recipes understandable.

Julia Child didn’t start cooking when she was 9, like you might think.  Or roast her first chicken at 13.  She didn’t intuitively know how to braise or saute or even chop and dice.  She learned it.

Julia Child enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu (a cooking school in Paris) in 1949.  She was born in 1912, so that would make her 37.  She was 37 when she decided she wanted to learn to cook….with all the learning still in front of her.

She went to Le Cordon Bleu for one year and…get this…FAILED her test at the end of the year.  She waited an entire year to re-take the test, which she did and this time she passed.  Thus began her very long and very successful cooking career…at 40.  (Side note: she was 36 when she decided to learn French…and enrolled in a French class.  Awesome.)

Is your mind blown?  But really….

Of course a 37-year-old lady can learn to cook, even if she never has before.

Of course a 10-year-old can learn to play softball….

And of course a 5-year-old or a 72-year-old Brave Girl can learn to make art….

….or play the piano, or grow a spectacular garden, or ride a horse, or swim the backstroke, or build a treehouse, or love somebody, or host a party, or sew a dress, or start a business, or speak in public, or write a book and all of the other millions of things there are to do in this world.

I didn’t come here to talk about Julia Child…..Brave Girls Club doesn’t even offer cooking classes (yet!)…..what I’m here to tell you is that whatever that “thing” is for you…YOU can learn it.

It’s not a mystery, it’s not impossible, it’s just something to learn.

For instance….music is a big deal in our family, and when a song seems hard or a part seems hard, one of my brothers always says, “It’s just an illusion…it’s not that hard.”  And he’s right!  Musicians perform perfectly because they’ve practiced and practiced and practiced and earned the ability to play complicated music….but every single one of them had to start at the beginning….every one of them sang a note or strummed a chord for the very first time, then just kept playing, kept singing, kept trying, hit a LOT of wrong notes and kept going before they got it.  EVERYTHING is that way!  LIFE is that way!

Brave Girl Art School started on Monday….and my kids (3 and 5) have been sooo excited to start.  We took these photos on their very first day….

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Maybe it’s because I was that apprehensive 10-year-old, but it makes my heart absolutely sing to see my little ones learning how to do art.  Maybe they’ll learn earlier than I did that you don’t have to know everything from the very beginning.  You don’t have to have some innate inclination toward art or music or gardening or baseball to be able to do it well and enjoy it.  Maybe they’ll be daring and adventurous and unafraid of new things.  Maybe they’ll never say those sad words, “I am not creative” and “I can’t do that”.

Maybe what they’ll grow up saying is, “I’m gonna learn that.”

I want to know: what is something you’ve always wanted to learn?  Then what I want to know is what is your plan for learning it?  (You don’t have to learn it today, but no excuses allowed!)

And if you ever wanted to learn to paint or draw or doodle or make jewelry or sew pillows or make pretty decorations for your home or if you ever wanted to see the pure JOY on your children’s faces as they learn to do any of those things, come join us for SUMMER ART SCHOOL!!!   Let’s LEARN it!!

 

Thick & Chewy S’mores Bars Recipe

We LOVE summertime campfires around here. We love to spend hours in the warm evenings sitting around the fire together… laughing and singing and talking and playing. We love to roast hotdogs over the fire and OF COURSE we love s’mores. But some people don’t have a fire pit in the backyard or don’t have time to build a fire to satisfy that chocolatey-grahamy-marshmallowy craving. These quick and easy s’mores bars are the perfect solution! And they’re a whole lot better than traditional gooey, messy s’mores for bringing to summer potlucks and pool parties.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 TBS butter or coconut oil
  • 1 bag regular sized marshmallows
  • 2 1/2 sleeves graham crackers (25)
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • mini mallow bits, optional for garnish (these are the tiny, sort of crisp/crunchy ones)

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9×13 pan
  2. Crush the graham crackers in a large ziploc bag into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.  You might have to crush them in two or three batches and put the pieces in a bowl as you go. You will end up with a little bit of tiny crumbs/dust… that is perfectly okay and will contribute to the wonderful chewy texture of the bars!
  3. Melt the butter or coconut oil in large sauce pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well-blended.
  4. Add the crushed grahams and stir until incorporated and coated.
  5. Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly and firmly into greased  pan.
  6. In a glass bowl in the microwave or double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the top of the bars. Sprinkle on the mallow bits if using. Chill in refrigerator until set, then cut into bars.

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Hope you love these simple summer delights!