Out With the Old, In With the New!

Hey guys! It’s here! I finally have a new website for my blog, and this girl is soooooo happy about that!

Over the past few weeks, my web designer, Abraham, and I have poured many hours of creative energy into creating something that you guys will LOVE, and I’m so thrilled to present you with this new format! One of the main goals in this change was to make it more fun and more interactive for you, and to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for.

One of the things I am personally excited about is the new “photo contest” section, because as we all know, I am a weakling for a good photo. I will be announcing our first photo contest on my Facebook page in a few days, so be on the lookout for that. Also, I love a good quote, and that’s why I’ve included some of my favorites in a section called “happy quotes.” Check ’em out!

Another thing I’m excited about is the new recipe format, because well, who doesn’t love a good recipe?? Hopefully this one will make it easier (and, FASTER!) for me to post, and even easier for you to follow, print, and make the recipes (aka, FOOD).

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So there ya go, my beautiful peeps…welcome! I hope you kick around a bit and get to know your cozy new “home”!

It’s been fun creating it, and I hope you have fun exploring it! Many thanks to Abraham at Fort Collins Design for putting up with me spilling my coffee on his laptop, not  once but TWICE, and spilling my big ideas all over his neatly organized,  html brain! You rocked it, Abe!

And to all you readers, who continue to stretch and grow and stick it out with me, you are beautiful and you make it all fun, and sooo WORTH it!

I want you to remind you that you are always welcome here, to bring your stories, to give your feedback, or just simply relax and be inspired!

Cheers to you…and to the new!

Embracing Winter.

IMG_0687As you probably know by now, I am not a fan of Winter. I can usually endure it for a minute when it’s Christmas time, but come December 26, I need it to be Spring again. I usually enjoy about the first twenty snowflakes before I need to find a sunny beach somewhere.

Yeah, weakling, I know. But I’ve never really enjoyed having my fingers stuck together by frozen particles of the Antartic or subzero icicles hanging from my nose. Ok, so maybe when I was TWO, but you get my ‘drift’. It’s been a while.

I’ve never been a fan of cold weather, and it seems no matter how positive I am about the situation, going into it, usually by the end of January, I end up hating myself and my knee high boots, and swearing that I will live in the tropics by next Winter. No matter how determined I am to stay happy and to rock my fabulous faux fur, usually by February, I am pretty much lying curled up in a fetal position somewhere in the corner of my house. The warmest corner, that is, aproximately three inches from the front of my little electric heater, which stays permanently attached to the wall in our master closet.

(Yep. If you ever can’t find me, and it’s February and my two year old hasn’t burned the house down, this is where I’ll be.)

Usually by Valentine’s day, I’m not even trying anymore. By then I’ve given up on every single positive mantra I’ve ever chanted to myself, and I’m just straight up bitching and moaning about my frozen state. By that point, the fabulous faux fur is stuck to my face and I’m feeling like a flattened-out pancake at the bottom of a snow drift, wishing for Spring.

Welll…except for…are you ready for this??? I really don’t know what’s happening with me, but somehow I think I might be enjoying Winter (go ahead and gasp, it’s ok) just a teensy tiny, weensy little bit this year. I don’t know why, but so far (fingers crossed) I have found a new appreciation-cough-I-mean-understanding for that ghastly sham of the four seasons and I’m actually a wee bit happy, amidst the icicles.

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So when my husband said he wanted to try out his new camera and it was the coldest day in history, I said “YES! Of course, we should do THAT!” Ok, so I wasn’t quite that excited, but I had recently changed my attitude and my hair color and I decided, “why not? Why not celebrate the things I don’t love and perhaps trick my brain into loving them? Why not just embrace the moment, accept what is, and find some value (aka FUN) in it?

And so I did. These photos are about that. This photo shoot, however impromptu, was not about me being some kind of weird alien human who just simply loves the cold. And yes, there ARE people like that! This was about focusing my energy on having fun, no matter what. It was about living life, wide open, no matter the obstacles, or the difficulties.

And you know what? It was actually kind of amazing! I had way more fun than I would have ever anticipated and my fingers didn’t even freeze together!

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At one point, I grabbed a handful of snow with my bare hands, threw it up into the air and then felt it softly land on my face, and for a moment, I actually thought I was Cinderella.

It was so beautiful and romantic.

Before long, I found myself laying in the snow, making snow angels, and remembering my childhood winters in Ohio, and how fun they were and how we would huddle together with the neighbor kids to warm up and watch our breath make shapes in the cold damp air.

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Suddenly I was that kid again.

The kid that always looked for the fun. The one that never missed an opportunity to get out into the middle of the ice and the friends and have a good time. I was that girl, and I was having a blast!

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So much so, that eventually I threw off my faux fur and began to waltz down the road, not even caring that the sun had gone down and it was zero degrees. I got so lost in the beauty and the magic of the moment, that I forgot all about my little electric heater and the hot chocolate that I would surely need immediately thereafter.

Isn’t that the way it goes when we throw off our fears and just simply get lost in the moment we’re in?

The older I get the more I realize that so much of my art depicts my life. This is probably why I love acting and modeling so much. There is always so much meaning to be found in the characters that I play, whether in front of the camera, or behind it. The camera of life, that is.

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I see the joy and the fun behind these pictures and it honestly makes me wonder why I haven’t embraced the Winter before? Why did it take me so long to accept it and appreciate-ahem-understand it?

But this is the process I’m in, and little by little, I’m letting go of my hang-ups about it. Little by little, I’m practicing what I preach and I’m truly finding beauty in everything. Even the fur that’s stuck to my face.

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This is why I say yes when it’s freezing and my husband wants to try out his new camera. And this why I have hope that perhaps someday I will fully enjoy Winter.

 

Word for 2016: Fulfilled.

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At the end of every year I like to ask for a word for the coming year. It gives me something positive to focus on, to relax into, or to put my energy toward.

Last year it was ‘movement’ and boy was it eveerrr a year of movement! So many trips, and SO MUCH activity. So much running and skipping and dancing through open doors and exploring new places. And, while I believe it helped me ‘move’ through some really deep soul spaces and not get too heavy with it all, it also kept me busy and breathless alot.

So this year when I heard the word ‘fulfilled’ I let out a bit of a sigh. It sounded so nice and relaxing and comforting to me. FULFILLED. Like when you’ve just eaten a big meal and you’re so completely satisfied, and you are in want of nothing. That’s what I think of when I think of the word ‘fulfilled.’ Here’s hoping that also means a bit of REST for this adventure weary soul. That perhaps this will be a year of sitting on my front porch, sipping my iced mocha, while I watch my kids play in the grass and feel completely satisfied. Perhaps I will kick back a little and see the reward of my efforts in 2015.

Let’s hope so. Cuz that was CRAZY, and I’m a wee tiny bit tired and out of breath over here.

Do you have a word for this year? What does it mean to you? Please share it in the comments…I’d love to hear it!

What Remains. (at Christmas)

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In these days before Christmas, grief tends to hit me more than usual, and sometimes the only reprieve for it is to hold the ones I love a little tighter. So today I look into the eyes of my most precious gifts and I place these moments deep in my heart, knowing that even these as sturdy and beautiful as they seem, they do not last. Even these will pass and grow into something different, and love is the only thing that stays. Through the birthdays and holidays and memories made…only love. Through the questions and disappointments and empty spots at the table, only love. ONLY LOVE remains.

May it beat loud and clear in our hearts this Christmas and remind us that there is greater than just what our eyes can see. May it thread its way through all our holiday celebrations and triumph all our days, the good and happy ones and yes even the sad ones when we remember those who are not with us, and that which is never quite the same. 

Peace!

Suicide and Dying With No Regrets.

I’m going to do the unthinkable and talk about suicide today. Yes, that dark evasive thing called death that no one wants to talk about, much less to acknowledge or admit to, much LESS around the holidays. Yes I know this is a “happy” blog, and yes I know this is not a feel good subject. But the truth is, this is part of my story and it’s part of so many other precious souls that I know, I think it’s time we talk about it.

Like this guy did.

I think he’s pretty friggin’ brave. What strikes me about this story is what I will call suicide regret, and I believe everyone who’s ever attempted to end their life, successfully or not, has felt it to some degree.

I know I did.

When I first stood there outside my car and looked down over the crevices of that Tennessee mountain, I felt only fear and despair. I knew something had to change and I thought the only way it would is if I would take myself out of it. I was sure that the only chance my husband and baby had at a better life was if I got into my car and gunned it over the edge.

Nothing could convince me otherwise. I was so mad that I had believed the lies. Mad that I had walked into yet another situation/relationship that had been so hard and so hurtful, and my mind was made up.

It was eerily quiet as I stood there, thinking long and deep into the abyss that threatened to squelch my life, to still my beating heart, once and for all. The phone rang. I let it go. “I can’t.” I thought. If I answer it, he will convince me not to do it.

It was my husband. I was too angry, too afraid to talk and so I just stood there, numb and yet knowing what I had to do. It was the only way out.

The phone rang again. And again…and again. It was destroying the quiet, disrupting my plan and forcing me to start thinking…rationally, perhaps? “What if? What if I picked up that phone and everything WOULD change? What if this was the one time that things would be different? But I would never know if I was lying flat at the bottom of that hill in a pile of steel and metal…”

I got into the car and revved up the motor. I fiddled with the radio. I looked over again at the sides of that steep hillside, and wondered how fast I would need to go to make sure I did not survive. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. My hands shook. My whole body shook. I HAD to do it.

But, then…”what if? What if I regret it the second I do it? My daughter would never know..”

Ah, my daughter!

And that’s when the text message came. “Your daughter needs you. Please come home.”

Suddenly out of nowhere, I snapped out of my rage and picked up the phone. What was I doing? My daughter needs me!

I burst into tears when I heard my husband’s voice. It felt both terrifying and amazing to hear it. I was relieved in the most unexpected way. Thing is, I knew I would have regretted it as soon as my car would have left the road. I knew I would have thought about my baby girl and I would have had the same thought that this man did…

“the millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret.”

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I know now that this is true. There is nothing pretty about that moment. There is nothing heroic about that millisecond where your brain has overruled your heart, where the lies have overwhelmed the truth and convinced you to take that leap.

It’s only instant regret.

I know because that’s what I felt in that moment and my hands hadn’t even left the steering wheel yet. I’m so thankful for that. I’m so grateful that I felt that tinge BEFORE it was too late.

I’m so glad I decided not to die that day. Because as God and destiny would have it, I went on to live the best and happiest life I’ve ever lived, after that. Today I live a full life, one that has sadness and joy and misery and yes,  ‘happy little surprises.’ But through it all, I’ve made it my mission to live AND die, with no regrets.

The truth is I would rather go unexpectedly and completely out of control, with fullness of heart and life, than to go being in control with even one regret, if that was the only regret I ever had, and if that was the ONE that took my life.

Truth is, I don’t want my daughter (or my son) to ever wonder if I “wanted to” die or not. I want my children to know that no matter how hard it ever was, I lived and loved life to the fullest, and that I died with NO REGRETS.

Yes, this is a heavy subject to broach especially around the holidays, but honestly I’m so tired of hearing of another beautiful soul making that leap, and wondering if they really wanted to die. Wondering if they knew how much we wanted, needed them here. And how amazing their life might have been, had their hands not left the rail.

If that is you and you are on the brink of a hopeless end, please think about this. Consider the instant regret and how you can’t undo that. Most people don’t get another chance to take that decision back like I did. Most people that take that leap don’t ever come back. Please don’t be one of them.

Instead, do something brave you won’t regret, and ask for help. There are plenty of people and organizations and healing therapies that can and will work. There really IS hope.

I am not a professional in any one of those things, but if you need a listening ear, prayer or perhaps a little encouragement, please send an email to: happylittlesurprises@gmail.com or send a message via www.facebook/happylittlesurprises.com. I am always happy to hear your story and to offer you my own.

Be brave and reach out today! You are worth it. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are valued and needed.

No regrets.

The end.

 

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Northern Colorado: http://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/about-suicide/where-to-get-help/

General:

http://lostallhope.com/help-me

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/i-want-kill-myself

Depression:

http://www.adaa.org/finding-help

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/11/supplements.for.depression/

http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

Treatment Centers:

http://www.therefuge-ahealingplace.com/depression-treatment/

https://www.aplaceofhope.com/

http://www.sierratucson.com/depression/

 

 

Sauteed Kale and Cabbage. The Ultimate Comfort Food.

So many of you have been asking for this recipe, and (lucky for YOU) I am finally posting it! This is one of the easiest meals I’ve ever made, not to mention it looks pretty and it’s completely satisfying, especially on a cold Winter night. We love it over sweet potatoes, but you could also ladle it over some russets, rice, garbanzo beans, you name it.

This is super versatile and oh so delicious! Give it a try!
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Sauteed Kale and Cabbage

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup veggie broth or water
1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1-10 oz bag baby kale
1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
Pepper, to taste

Saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent and tender. Add carrots, curry, and water, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add cabbage and cook for a few more minutes. Add kale last, reduce heat, cover with lid and steam for about a minute. Remove cover, add salt and pepper, and serve over your favorite potatoes, rice or pasta.

ENJOY!

Operation Christmas Child: Making a Difference for Less Than a Starbuck’s Latte.

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For Christmas this year we decided that we did NOT need any more toys. NEWS FLASH. We already have one million and one, so instead of exchanging names or giving gifts to each other, my sister and I made an executive decision to get our kids together to make boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I mean, why not give to kids who actually “need” something this year, instead of hoarding more to ourselves and our children?

Ah, that feels so much better.

So last week we did just that.

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First, I snagged these clear Rubbermaid totes at Walmart for $.94! 94 cents, you guys! Whaatttt??? I mean, that is less than 1/4 of my favorite chocolate bar at Whole Foods. And not even half of a Starbucks latte! (I venture to say it will probably make more of a difference than the wording on the side of their cups ever will, but that’s for another time.:))

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So we each went out and gathered tons of fun “stuff”, some from our toy boxes, some from the store- stickers, paper, toothbrushes, pencils, hats, crayons, band aids, socks, wind-up toys, balls, flip flops, soap, etc- and then got together at my house to fill the shoe boxes.

My mom had instigated the idea after she helped pack and ship boxes at OCC last year and was completely impressed and inspired by their heart and mission to help children and so, of course she came too!

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We had a total blast, wrapping and filling our boxes and it was such a delight, watching our kids get into the spirit of giving! They loved picking out things that “they would want” and giving it to someone else instead.

In all it was a wonderful day, we packed eight boxes full to the brim, and we all learned again how much more blessed it is to GIVE than to receive. How fun it is to come willing and ready to bring what we have, than to long for that which we don’t!

What a joy and what a beautiful life lesson  for .94 cents! May it stay with us this holiday season and forever, and may it go deep in the hearts of my children, and all who receive it!

Thank you, Operation Christmas Child, for the opportunity to bless others through your ministry! Love and Merry Christmas to all! -The Hostetler’s

How about you? Do you have a non-profit you like to give to as a family? A favorite way to bless others over the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments, and let’s make it a Merry Christmas for everyone this year!