How To

12 Funniest Mother’s Day Cartoons

Here’s to all of us moms out there who have wanted to say so many of these things out loud. Love and hugs to mamas everywhere:

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(Thank you to someecards.com for these fantastic cartoons.)

xoxo LD

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5 Simple Ways to Instill Unconditional Love in Your Child

20151009_181015How much do you love your kids? As my son turned 5 last week, I realized this for the millionth time: having a child was the greatest gift I have ever received in life.

Showing and teaching him the concept of unconditional love brings that incredible energy back not just to me, but everyone he knows, his future relationships, and his own children someday. Already at age 5, Elijah tells me constantly (and without cueing!) things like, “I love you Mommy!”, “I’m so happy we are together”, “I want to stay with you forever.” THIS is the magic of unconditional love. I promise you these tips work:

  1. Tell them how proud you are of them. For eating their dinner, for sitting in a restaurant quietly, for reading a book, for helping you cook, for painting a picture, for writing their name, for being good at school. You have so many options. Tell them a lot. Repeat: a lot. Knowing they are succeeding and making their parent(s) proud instills in them confidence and self-esteem that will take them through adulthood.
  2. Tell you love them (ALL THE TIME). I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many parents forget to do this on a regular basis. Not just at night-night time, because they will tune that out on some level as part of the routine. Tell them at completely random times, like when they are stirring the pancake batter, playing quietly, or snuggling up reading a book.
  3. Take them to church and/or spiritual gatherings. I cannot impress upon you enough the impact this has had already in my child. If you absolutely are anti-religion or church, please find a way to make a spiritual connection in other ways. Some ideas include: hiking in nature, watching the sunset, yoga, and meditation.
  4. Forgive quickly when they make mistakes. I know it’s hard when they spill grape juice on the carpet or break something you love, you want to yell and punish. But take a deep breath, realize that whatever it is, it is just…a thing. When you put it in the perspective of thing vs. life of your child, the anger dissipates almost instantly. If it doesn’t, take your own time out. As a single mom, this is tough with timing, but calmly tell your child that you need some quiet time, then grab a glass of wine or cup of tea and go meditate for 5 minutes-this also helps them understand that parents need break times too!
  5. Kiss them, hug them, and hold them close when they are hurt. Speak softly and stroke their hair or back to calm the crying. Let them know that when the chips are down, whether it’s a scratched knee or hurt feelings, you’ve got their back, and you aren’t going anywhere. That will stay with them forever.20151009_180934
Best Lists · How To · Recipes

#Camping Eats: Top 5 Food Bowl Cookbooks

Food bowls are PERFECT for camping culture…and frankly, our everyday, nonstop, go-go-go lifestyles. The idea of throwing everything into one bowl is tempting to those of us wanting to simplify dinner and get all of our nutrients in one go. Try out any of these fantastic “bowl” cookbooks for a new spin on cooking:

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.40.43 PMBowl, Vegetarian recipes for Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap, Dumplings, and Other One-Dish Meals: Put down that ramen package and pick up this book!  Lukas Volger helps up master our own broths, handmade noodles, sauces, and garnishes. From simple miso ramen to a perfectly timed summer ramen with corn broth, tomatoes, and basil. His grain bowls range from ratatouille polenta to a black rice burrito with avocado. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.41.28 PMVegan Bowl Attack! More than 100 One-Dish Meals Packed with Plant-Based Power: My 4 year old loves this book, as he associates it with superheroes and emergency vehicles. Vegans, vegetarians, and even meat-eaters will love this cookbook with over 100 recipes by author Jackie Sobon. Perfect for a camping trip, top fireside recipes include Peanut Butter Pretzel Oatmeal, Smoky Corn Chowder Bread Bowl, Mean Green Ramen, and S’mores Pudding Bowl.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.40.57 PMWhole Bowls, Complete Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Meals to Power Your Day: With over 50 recipes, author Allison Day hits a home run with health-conscious eaters. She is also know for her award-winning food blog Yummy Beet. For a vegetarian breakfast bowl, look for her Oat risotto bowls with soft-boiled eggs, avocado, and hazelnut dukkah. Great lunch and dinner options include a curried falafel and kale salad bowl and a
black bean bowl with butternut squash, black rice, and chimichurri.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.41.14 PMGreat Bowls of Food Grain Bowls, Buddha Bowls, Broth Bowls, and More: This one is for every eater, including omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans, so a good choice for mixed households or mixed camping groups. Robin Asbell shares with us 75 of her best bowl food recipes, and  a chart that allows anyone to to mix and match ingredients to create the their own unique bowl. Some of her favorites include: Paleo Cauliflower Tabouli Bowl with Lemon Mint Dressing; Sweet Potato, BBQ Chicken, Corn, and Chips Bowl; Rice, Tofu, and Green Bowl with Kimchi and Spicy Spinach; and Miso Poached Vegetable and Shrimp Noodle Bowl.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.41.56 PMThe Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon, Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share: Many of you may already know Sara Forte from her successful first book, The Sprouted Kitchen. Bowl and Spoon makes delicious combinations like a Golden Quinoa and Butternut Breakfast Bowl and Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino, and Charred Lemons. Fans of hers should definitely check out this next  installment of recipes.

Adventure Stories · Best Lists · Movies

#Climbing Movie of the Week: Beyond the Edge

“I think it’s really all a matter of challenge, not so much challenge only with the mountain, but challenge with oneself. Seeing if you can force yourself to overcome your fears and hopefully, ultimately get to the top.” -Edmund Hillary

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 8.12.24 PMWith the recent news of Melissa Arnot’s summit (and surviving descent) of Everest without supplemental oxygen and the deaths of more climbers to add to the mountain’s death toll, Everest is once again in the headlines.

For those of you who want a deeper look into the quest (besides the Hollywood produced “Everest”), this 2013 film is worth a evening on the couch.

Using both archival footage and modern recreations, the film both retraces and recreates Edmund Hilliary’s arrival in Kathmandu to Everest base camp. The goal was to summit on May 15. Enter Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa climbing Everest since 1935, who had been up the mountain 6 times already.

Here are a few factoids:

In 1953 there was a race to summit the yet-to-be conquered Everest. At that point 10 attempts had been made. By range of comparison, over 7k people have now attempted Everest to date, according to Outside Magazine. The British Everest Expedition led that year included beekeeper, Edmund Hillary, age 33. But he had also been a climber for 10 years, and already had several trips to the Himalaya.

There were 13 members of the expedition, 30 full time sherpas, and 600 porters. There had already been 7 British attempts already. The Swiss had almost done it in 1952, so there was incredible pressure to succeed.

Remember folks, the knowledge of altitude at this time was limited. As noted in the film, “It was like sending someone into space. No one knew wherther or not it could be done.” 13 deaths had already occurred and zero summits.

Throughout the film, there is rolling commentary from Edmund’s and Tenzings sons along with Jim Whittaker, the 1st American to summit Everest in 1963. As he notes, “Put a pillow over your mouth and try and breath through it as you’re running…you’re trying to get enough air, and the oxygen debt builds up until you just can’t go.”

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Tension mounts as the men struggle to get up the Lhotse Face and reach the South Col, and a monsoon is building in the Bay of Bengal. The expedition seemed to be unraveling. By this time it is the 21st of May and Hillary and Norgay are forced to lead 13 Sherpas who only had tea for breakfast into a 13 hour climbing day without oxygen. (cue jaw drop)

(Imagine…no top of the line North face clothing, no Black Diamond ice axes, no Scarpa boots… from the looks of the film, they wore flannel shirts, wool sweaters, parachute pants, and whatever the best technology had to offer at the time, and according to the movie, even leaving camps with bare hands.)

As poignantly noted by Whitaker, “There’s just certain human beings able to put one foot in front of the other, you know, relentlessly, psychologically able to do it, whereas other people would fail.”

The result: On May 29, 1953 at 11:30 am Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Mount Everest at 29,035 feet.

Definitely a worthy watch for all those interested in the outdoors, alpine climbing, and of course, the mystery and history of Mount Everest.

How To

5 Easy Ways to Show Gratitude

I know, it’s hard to be grateful sometimes. When we lose a loved one to accidents, illness, or tragedy…when we fall prey to injustice, crime, and hate, life seems unspeakably unfair, and our anger and hurt can blind us to our blessings. But there is hope, there is always hope…and that first step to healing and peace comes with one life-changing adjustment, gratitude.

I encourage you to take these easy steps, in whatever pace or order you find comfortable, and I promise you, from the bottom of my heart and from someone who has learned the life-breathing power of gratitude, it will change your life and relationships forever:

  1. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 2.32.45 PMVolunteer: This can be as big or little as you can handle. From taking a shift at a soup kitchen to planning a soiree fundraiser, use YOUR skills and experience to help others. Putting your wants and desires on the side is a surefire way to lift you out of your own problems and into the light and grace of giving.

    “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

  2. Pray: Bow your head, lift your eyes up to the sky, or simply lie in bed with your eyes closed. Whether you are religious, spiritual, somewhere in between, or not there yet, stopping and giving thanks fills your spirit with gratitude and puts good into the air.

    “I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” – E.E. Cummings

  3. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 3.15.29 PMMeditate: You might be thinking, “But that’s too hard!” or “I can’t meditate, it never works for me!” BELIEVE me, I’ve been there. When your mind races a mile a minute, and you think you are never going to be able to ‘quiet the mind.’ I promise, with practice, it will happen. It’s like exercise. It’s awkward at first, but once you hit that zone, (think of a runners zone) you’ll be asking yourself why you haven’t done it before and you’ll crave it every day. (This is a big one for parents and single mommas like me)

    “There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” – Ralph H. Blum

  4. Hug someone: Your child, your friend, a stranger (be courteous of their space and with permission). I have actually been looked at funny/down on for hugging homeless people. Don’t ever, ever let people like that guide your actions. Go with your heart. You can bring joy to people who need it most, and give love to those who didn’t know they needed it.

    “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde

  5. Write: A text, an email, a greeting card, or (gasp!) an actual letter. While the latter might seem like a foreign concept in today’s techno world, receiving a hand-written letter is an incredible experience to have and to share. Try it. Whatever you choose, let the people in your life know how much they mean to you. We all know how quickly that can change.

    “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners that make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Are there other ways you show gratitude? Comment in the section below.

Blessings,

xoxo LD

How To

Top Outdoor Movie of the Week: 180 South

“I’m drawn to open country. It’s where everything becomes clear. Where the world makes the most sense” -Jeff Johnson

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 8.02.07 PMFirst released in 2010, 180 South tells the story of surfer and climber Jeff Johnson as he embarks on a sailing journey to Patagonia to recreate the 1968 journey to Corcovado of Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face.

Jeff encounters sea sickness, a broken mast, weeks on Easter Island, and the city of Santiago, finally arriving at one of the largest land conservation projects in the world, Conservacion Patagonica. At 2 million acres, it’s larger than the size of Yellowstone National Park. It has been decades in the making, through the perseverance of Doug and his wife, Kris, workers and volunteers resulting in the preservation of entire ecosystems in Argentina and Chile. (Sadly, Doug Tompkins died in 2015 in a kayaking accident in Patagonia.)

When they finally arrive at Corcovado, Jeff’s worries are realized, there is no ice left on the summit, with only crumbling rock. Yvon declines to go up, and the rest of the team pushes on. Jeff states,”We are unsafe here at best.” Exhausted and frustrated, climber Timmy O’Neill remarks, “It seems literally like the next pitch above me is the worst unconsolidated nightmare  I’ve ever seen.” Will they summit? I let you find out what happens next… (don’t just Google it, watch the movie)

20160620_211925180 South is not a flashy outdoor adventure movie. It’s thoughtful and engaging, and hones in on the environment. It brings to our attention what happened to the society at Easter Island along with the ravaging of Chile: by commercial fishing giants stripping the coast of fish, pulp mills destroying the environment, and 6 hydro-electric dams in the planning. Finally after Corcovado, Jeff spends his last few days working to help restore the Patagonia area to wildlife, as gauchos there fight an impending hydro-electric dam. (Update: Remarkably the dam and 5 others were cancelled due to the controversy)

All in all, a must-see movie for people driven by wanderlust and a love of history, hikers, climbers, surfers, horseback riders, environmentalists, and anyone with a passion for the outdoors.

PS. The music is stirring and perfectly selected throughout the film. I especially love the use of Andrew Bird’s Tenuousness and Vetiver’s Rolling Sea, and songs by Wilco, Mason Jennings, Modest Mouse, and Ugly Casanova.

For more info go to: conservacionpatagonica.org

Happy trails.

xoxo, LD

 

Personal Stories

Earthquake! My first big one…

I bolted straight up in bed. What was the loud crack? I stared out in bleary-eyed bewilderment as everything in my room began to shake. Confusion quickly turned to terror as a wave of helplessness washed over me. Frozen in an upright state, unable to budge, I began to pray “Please God, please God, please God,” in a panicked, repetitive chant. In 10 seconds of pure, unmitigated terror, I could only think of one thing: my little boy. Six nights a week he stays with me, but this was the one night he didn’t. Was it worse where he was? It has always been my greatest fear that something catastrophic would happen, and I would be separated from my child. I imagine I’m not the only mama out there with that exact phobia.

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You see, I don’t have any substantial background in earthquakes, other than the few minor quakes and tremors I’ve experienced since living in California. For instance, I don’t know if a quake starts out at its worst, or it it can gain magnitude from the first shakes. I didn’t know if the walls around me would start to fissure and crack or the floor beneath me collapse to the apartment below. Who was I to know how long this would last? Would there be more? Living on the 3rd floor of a complex wasn’t a terribly appealing thought.

It’s incredible how much of your life flashes before you and your entire existence gets called into question in a mere 10 seconds. Your brain goes into hyperdrive, like the Millennium Falcon into light-speed. Fancy houses, designer shoes, and the latest electronic gadgets fade into nothingness in that series of split-seconds. What matters is only two things: the life of your child and your own life.

With a more powerful quake, those 10 seconds could have just as easily have resulted in total devastation. We see this happen time and time again around the world, where cities crumble and thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives are extinguished. In other words, I could have lost everything, including my own life.

I encourage you to take 10 seconds after you read this to stop everything, and think about what’s important in your life. Kiss your kids, your mama, your Papaw, and your friends. Maybe try it everyday. Whatever you do, don’t wait until disaster is at your doorstep to make the move.

xoxo

LD

Quotes

10 Quotes to Help You Find Peace (on the trail of life)

These eloquent words of wisdom have given me beautiful direction and focus in my own bumpy and precarious life. When anger, disappointment, and hurt threaten the very core of my peace and faith, these words are a poignant reminder of a life bigger than my own. May these quotes give you the same hope, insight, and desire for peace.  Meditate on them as you walk both your physical and spiritual trails through life.

Learning the true path:

There is no path to peace. Peace is the path. -Gandhi

To be spiritually minded is life and peace. -Romans 8:6

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we reach that goal. -Martin Luther King Jr.

We are called to action:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. -Francis of Assisi

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. -The Dalai Lama

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, not as you think it should be. -Wayne W. Dyer

Peace begins with a smile. -Mother Theresa

How can I have peace? Not by talking about peace, but by walking
along the road of peace.– Sri Chinmoy

Peace through LOVE: 

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. -Buddha

Love, peace, joy, and harmony are the best vitamins in the universe. -Philip Arnold

 

May peace fill all the days of your life.

xoxo

Laurie