Friday, February 28, 2014

10 Things Learned & Completed in February

February was much too short! I spent three weekends in a row traveling around my new home state and that really enabled me to emerge from my Hobbit-hole and live life to the fullest. Being out in nature, exploring new places, being around people, and allowing myself to receive love from the beautiful people in my life poured some light into my melancholy spirit. I can't say I have been clinically depressed, but due to hard events in the past year, I have been in a prolonged state of deep sadness and hurt and seeking healing. It was nice to feel like I could breathe more naturally for once, even if the sadness hasn't left.

So, onto my list of what I have learned and completed....

1. My in-laws are really special people. Well, I already knew this about them when we first met in June 2012, but it is confirmed to me again and again every time my husband and I spend a weekend with them. They are generous in ways I cannot even comprehend and, Lord willing, I want to be as loving and selfless as my mom/father-in-law someday. It seems to flow naturally from them and I adore their simple approach to life.

2. I managed to read 3 books in a matter of weeks. Anne of Windy Poplars was an absolute delight. Although I am reading the Anne series somewhat out of order, it is easy to follow through with the unique plots and characters introduced in each book. This series makes me smile and I am appalled that I never read them sooner in my life! The other two books I completed were Ten Poems to Set You Free and Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime by Roger Housden. I learned about some new 20th century poets that, to my surprise, I really enjoyed. I found myself savoring all of the poetry selections. I found some emotional rest in pouring myself into these refreshing books.

3. I learned a bit of the fascinating history behind famous historical sites in Santa Fe, NM. The Loretto Chapel, San Miguel Mission, and the St. Francis Cathedral were the main places I visited. Pictures from my visit there are from my first-anniversary post here.

4. Jemez Springs, NM may be an incredibly tiny town that is easy to overlook, but I have learned that it is a tucked away retreat! The trails that weave in between the mountains and along Jemez River are so wild and gorgeous! The southwest feel of the few shops and eateries makes it such a cozy place! Best of all, the Giggling Springs outdoor soaking pool is the most relaxing oasis ever! My husband and I spent the day there for my 25th birthday and it was divine! I emerged from that mineral pool feeling 100%, physically and mentally/emotionally, something I haven't experienced in a long time. If you read the list of minerals in the water, then it all makes sense why it makes one feel on top of the world! :)

5. Coconut flour pairs well with bananas! I attempted to bake a berry cobbler with coconut flour earlier this month that did not turn out well at all. It was edible, but lacked flavor and it was too moist and just, overall, uninteresting. So, I switched it up and tried a simple Coconut, Banana, Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, which you can try here, and they were so delicious and the texture was perfect! I am trying to eliminate the amount of grains and unrefined/refined flours I am consuming, so Coconut Flour seemed like the more beneficial and healthier option.

6. Etsy is my new way to receive inspiration for future DIY projects. Whether in fashion, home decor, gifts, decorations, or jewelry, Etsy rocks my socks!

7. I learned about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is actually more wide-spread than many of us think due to the fact that it doesn't physically appear as a dangerous illness. I didn't know what to think when I watched this video. No doubt this is a very devastating genetic illness, but I can't wrap my head around how thankful and happy the lady in this video is. She is the face of true child-likeness and humility.

8. I've learned that reading is partly what inspires my writing. I have experienced a very long drought in my writing projects, but just last night experienced a little spark of creativity after reading a book. I often feel this way after reading a book and, although I don't always act on it, it has definitely brought a flood of ideas and meditations.

9. Life has seasons. Life has seasons. Life has seasons. I learn this every day. I repeat this to myself every day. I need to remember this every day because it helps me to rest.

10. I am learning to enjoy who I am. It has taken me 25 years to get to this point. 25 years of being confused by my intense, romantic, extreme, and idealistic nature, then understanding but disliking myself, then attempting to change myself, putting myself through lots of self-flagellation and forcing myself into molds that couldn't fit me longer than a short season. Those closest to me have seen every all these transitions and, honestly, it hasn't always been pretty. What is most interesting about this is that my husband, Nolan, has been the only one who hasn't seen all the different Erika-types that I drifted in and out of. He has only ever seen me for who I truly am. And he has accepted all of me, even when it has been excruciating and painful at times. I feel like I am becoming more of my true self since he has been in my life. Not because he himself is the source of my life, but because my raw edges rub against his and all that is truly me is being brought up to the surface. I always say that my husband taught me grace. Not because he knew it better than me or practiced it more consistently. He is just as much a human as I am. But he is a man that was humbled and touched by grace in the midst of darkness and there is a reservoir of life in him that always remembers this and seeks to extend it to others even when he is imperfectly walking it out.
 All this to say, his acceptance of the real me is what is making me more truly myself, more relaxed in my skin, more delighted in the way I see life through rose-tinted AND depressingly-blue smudged glasses. I don't feel comfortable preaching self-love here, but rather an acceptance and appreciation of one's self. To think that my Father in heaven stitched me together this way because He delighted in this combination that is me! It is more than I can fathom. But what if I just told Him "thank you" for making who I am a delight to His heart?


  1. I really love this series—to document what you're honestly learning and accomplishing each month, is so inspiring. I feel like I want to copy you, haha :)

    Your #10 is something I'm hoping to find these days!

    I loved what you wrote about appreciating yourself and Nolan seeing you as you are, rather than self-love (which can become self-worship).

    I think I'm back to the part of asking myself "Who am I?" I feel like I've never really asked myself this and allowed myself enough time to have a genuine response. It seems my concept of myself as "creative," a word I've used to describe myself since childhood, has been the main conflict, along with my concept of "socially awkward/socially graceful." Oh, and calmness vs. anxiety!

    As for #6, something tells me I need some fashion inspiration and time to put together nicer outfits. Maybe springtime will bring some more motivation.

    <3 Talk to you soon

  2. #9 is so true! And each season has its joys and challenges. Ecclesiastes 3!

  3. What a blessing to have excellent in-laws!! And the Anne series is one of my favorites--Montgomery really knew how to create a character!