Seems everyone in the ATL is getting a little bit restless. Most of us have been stuck at home since Sunday night. Those who have tried to brave it and drive in to work have quickly turned around and decided it was easier to work from home than fight the ice. Many of us work from home frequently anyway, so the icy conditions really just give us a reason to stay at home and be productive!
D & I have been trying to appreciate our time stuck at home and last night we decided the simplicity project actually worked! We live much simpler lives than we did 6 months ago. The thought of staying in the house another day makes us smile rather than cringe. Our cars haven’t been driven since Sunday evening. We’ve been creative about meals – using ingredients we already have to make yummy deliciousness. Our cats are loving the constant company (the bird feeder on the porch helps alleviate boredom too). I’ve made new pillows, a couple of new memory boards, done all the laundry, and deep-cleaned the apartment. Our driveway is a hill full of ice and with temperatures not going much above freezing today or tomorrow, it looks like we may be stuck inside until the weekend.
All in all, I’m okay with it. I could use a few more work from home days – not only have I gotten all sorts of personal projects done, I’m in a good place to be almost caught up at work very soon! Here are a few pictures of our excitement (all from indoors of course!)
The view from our living room - looking out into the Forest Preserve
Anxiously watching the birds at the feeder
Exhausted from all the bird watching, time to enjoy the new pillows!
Memory board made especially for my sweet sister-in-law
This was a delightful book filled with 4 touching stories of love, family, and life. Each time I opened it I was instantly taken out of my own world and into the Amish community. I have to admit I was sad each time a novella ended, because I would know the end of the story – but not knowing the end allows each story to live on in my own imagination … and I love that!
We could learn a lot from the Amish – especially about celebrating Christmas. As I seek to define my own Radical Christmas, I find myself wishing that there was a real live Amish community close by, so that I could learn from them firsthand. I love the idea of a “First Christmas” and a “Second Christmas” – celebrating the birth of Jesus and the spiritual meaning behind Christmas on Christmas Day and then turning to the spirit of giving on the day after Christmas with the exchanging of presents. It’s a concept that I would love to figure out how to make happen in my own life!
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book to put you in the Christmas spirit. It’s always hard to find books about Christmas and this one is a real gem!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What do you do when you want to have a Radical Christmas, but your family members just don’t get it? Maybe you want to nix the gift-giving, but the rest of your family is “just not ready for that yet.” They are expecting something from their Christmas list, and if you don’t get it for them … well, let’s just say it won’t be a happy family Christmas celebration! They are going to get you a gift – and they are probably going to spend lots of money on it – and if you don’t reciprocate, then it’s not because you value the simple, but true, meaning of Christmas. It’s plain and simple – you’re a grinch … with no Christmas spirit.
Let’s face it, sometimes family expectations are tough to live up to – especially during the holiday season. As siblings grow up and have families of their own, each family begins their own traditions and it becomes harder and harder to have one large family gathering. We end up making compromises that try to combine traditions – but what happens when you are pushing yourself towards something radical and the people closest to you just can’t seem to understand it?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s always hard when you want to do something different and it affects people other than yourself. And then I realized that it’s precisely for that reason that it’s RADICAL. If you were changing your behavior and it affected no one but yourself, it may be a tiny bit odd – but no one would really be offended. It’s only when we change our behavior and that behavior affects others that we are truly being radical. Is it hard? Of course. Does it sometimes feel insane? Absolutely. But it’s also exactly what Jesus calls us to. In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew that he has come to set families against one another – and that sometimes following Jesus means we do things that make our families upset.
That’s so much easier said than done. Maybe the hardest part about living a radical life is dealing with the backlash that happens from those people closest to us. This Christmas, I pray that God grant me, and you, the strength and the courage to live radical lives – despite the pushback we might receive from our family members.
Last Wednesday as I was scrolling through my gooreader, I came across this post, recommending that everyone just take a break from Twitter and Facebook – if only for just a day. The ironic thing is, I read the post just after I had checked my Facebook for the tenth time in an hour and my email for probably the 15th time that day. At that moment, realizing that maybe technology has more of a hold on me than I’m willing to admit, I vowed to disconnect as much as possible this weekend.
So – Friday night, around 8pm, I disconnected. I put my computer in the spare bedroom, my phone in a drawer, and simply enjoyed the company of my dear sweet hubby. Saturday morning was probably the hardest – I typically check my email, Facebook, and Twitter from the comfort of my warm bed thanks to my Droid. But, when I rolled over Saturday I picked up the book on my nightstand instead of my phone and enjoyed a whole hour of reading cozied up under my down comforter, next to my love. It was pure bliss.
The rest of the day consisted of waffles for breakfast, a few more hours of reading, some Christmas shopping, a lunch date at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and delicious tapas for dinner with a movie at home. Not once did I miss my phone or my computer. Not once did I wonder what the Twitter or Facebook worlds were up to. It was amazing … and it made me want more of that disconnected life.
I think digital sabbaticals are going to be regular occurrences for us. In this hyper-technological, uber-connected world, we are in many ways longing for connectedness in a way that digital devices can’t provide. We are discovering that sometimes, to become truly connected, we have to disconnect for a while.
What about you – do you have a disconnected story to tell?
photo © 2010 UggBoy UggGirl | more info (via: Wylio)
Confession time: I want a pair of UGG boots. In Classic Tall Chestnut, size 6. Every year about this time, I think that my desire for these super comfy (and warm) boots is a fleeting desire that won’t come back … and every year I want them even more than the year before.
I had a pair of UGGs once – they were purple and I got them at Nordstrom Rack for $30. They were so comfortable (and so cheap) that I didn’t care they were purple. I wore them with everything. And then I wore them sledding. They were SO dirty after that. My dear sweet sister thought she would be nice and wash them for me. And they were never the same again. So I gave them away and I swear to you I almost cried. And every year I remember those boots and my love for them and long for the day when I have a pair to replace them.
But they are SO EXPENSIVE! And then yesterday I discovered Whooga Ugg boots has Classic Tall ugg boots on sale for $98. With shipping, they are $115. Reviews say they are just as awesome as UGG Australia boots – and that’s half the price. I resisted the temptation last night – but I have to tell you dear readers … the temptation is greater today … and although I am trying my hardest to remember this pair of boots is a want not a need …
Picture courtesy of Biltmore.com
As part of our trip to Lutheridge last week, we were given tickets to experience Christmas at Biltmore. I had visited the Biltmore Estate once before, but D never had. Braving the cold weather (and fighting off a little stomach bug too) we spent Wednesday morning admiring the riches of the Vanderbilt Cecil family. It was a great day trip – and the house is incredible … the Christmas decorations were out of this world – but the whole time we couldn’t get over the fact that we were marveling at someone’s great wealth. In fact, if we hadn’t been gifted the tickets, we would have spent money to marvel at someone’s great wealth!
Now I’m sure the Vanderbilts did great things for people in need – but the Biltmore Estate is anything but simple. In fact, there’s probably not one thing in that house that represents simplicity. No – I take that back. The servants quarters were simple. With all the glamorousness of the rest of the house, the servants quarters were the part I most identified with. I can’t imagine what life might have been like as one of the family – it is hard to believe it was even real life. The whole estate felt like a movie set.
As we walked through it, I began to appreciate my own strive for simplicity. As I came home, I was grateful for my simple apartment with my simple furnishings. As I marveled at their many rooms and their beautiful furnishings, I wondered how much time they spent enjoying them. Being the constant hosts of magnificent parties, I wondered when they had time to enjoy the simple company of one another. Now I am not, in any way, judging their lifestyle – I in no way claim that I know what it was like. But in the end, I think I learned that perhaps the simple life is not quite as hard for me as I thought.
Have you ever had the chance to visit the estate? What did you think?