Letting Go of the Good

There are some lessons in life that can only be learned from experience.  Raising 3 small children, I get to see this play out daily-learning about the power of heat from touching a hot object, the importance of taking care of your things when a favorite toy is broken because it was carelessly left in a bad place, I could think of at least 10 other examples.

This concept doesn’t change when we enter adulthood. Some lessons are best learned through experience. This year, I decided to pursue a business in a multi-level marketing (MLM) essential oil company.  It seemed a perfect fit with my passion for creating a healthier home environment for my family and using my background in education and communications to share the power of essential oils with others.

While the business was financially profitable for our family and gave me an outlet aside from role as “mom” and “teacher”, I recently decided after a few months of prayerful consideration to stop pursuing the business.  Here are some the valuable lessons I learned this year both from entering and ending the business:

1. Aligning my goals with my actions– For the past several years, our family has been on a quest for simplicity in all areas of our life.  That means whittling down possessions, moving to a smaller house in a rural setting, creating carefully planned family goals,  simplifying meal plans, learning to live off the land in new ways each year, homeschooling, etc.  While essential oils themselves have greatly added to simplicity in our household by cutting down on the cleaning supplies, personal care products, and medicines we buy, the MLM business model didn’t align with our goals for simplicity.  This is in no way meant to bash MLM businesses.  Plenty of women I respect are running successful MLM businesses and it works for them.

But with the hierarchies, team building, classes taught, complex ordering systems, ordering more things to meet a quota etc., the business didn’t align with our personal goals. Being more available to answer customer queries led to more time away, physically and mentally, from my family.  Again, not always bad.  But when I have goals of less computer time, less daily interruptions via text, email, etc., things weren’t lining up.  But because it was profitable and enjoyable, it took me awhile to admit this truth to myself.  When simplicity is a major theme in family life, each need endeavor added needs to be carefully considered to see if it will, in fact, further your goal of less hustle and bustle. At first, I didn’t want to think that the business was adding to stress in our life.  We even let go of some other commitments to see if they were the stressors.  But when the stress didn’t go away, it was time to take an honest look at our priorities and our activities to see where the disconnect was happening.  It was quickly evident to me that I needed to pray about making a change.

2. Define Your Why– One aspect of the business I really enjoyed was personal development.  Being out of the workforce for a few years now, it was invigorating to listen to trainings and do assessments that helped me focus and plan for goals.  One statement that leaders often put before us was “Define Your Why”, encouraging us to put into words why this business was important to us.  I saw my “why” as encouraging others to find natural alternatives to take proactive steps in their health.  The trouble for me wasn’t defining my “why”, it was my “how”.  With a high involvement in church ministries and commitments, homeschooling my own 3, tutoring in our Classical Conversations community, and other responsibilities, my plate was already overflowing like Thanksgiving day when there isn’t a spare centimeter of clear space.  But then Grandma would put out the pierogi.  Something needs to come off the plate.  Or to quote Ron Swanson, a favorite character from a favorite show, Parks and Recreation, “Never do two things half-assed, do one thing whole assed.”

While this quote always makes me laugh, there is a lot of truth to it.  I am a firm believer in doing a few things well instead of many things in mediocrity.  With many things starting to look mediocre in my day to day, I had to evaluate if it was the business or the passion of sharing that was really my why.  It wasn’t the business. So, I found a new “how”.  I really enjoy blogging.  I am able to set specific time constraints and schedule my writing while sharing with many people our “search for the simple” things in life. It’s a creative outlet for me, serves as a journal, and  is still a way to fulfill my “why”.  Blogging also gives me the freedoms to discuss all the ways we pursue natural health and all the companies helping us in that journey.   I am excited to diversify a bit as I have never really been a “brand loyal” type of gal and share our experiences across the board.

You Only Get One– This could easily sum up the lesson God taught me through this entire year.  We only get one shot at this life. And in a year marked with illness and tragedy in our family, we have truly come to realize the fragility of life.  This life is beautiful and too short to be doing anything we don’t absolutely love.  This is not to say we are going to love every mundane task.  I love my kids, but will never say I LOVE changing a dirty diaper.  But when we do have a choice, it should be something we love. So while this was a difficult process of making the choice to leave behind a profitable and upwardly mobile business, the peace I feel in making the decision is proof that it was the right choice…for me.

I’ve been reading the book The Best Yes over the past few months and so much of what Lysa Terkeurst has to say has resonated with me in this season of life. Sometimes we have to let go of perfectly good things to make room for the things we love, the best things. When there is a voice in your heart telling you that you need to let go of something, listen to that voice because it’s likely our great God who has something even better in store for you.

When I let go, in obedience, to something good, God makes room for His best.

While I am incredibly passionate about simple living and natural health, it is God who is the ultimate Healer.  My focus must first be on Him if I am to be healthy in any way.  Because the health of my soul will always be more important than the health of this body I will leave behind one day.  Listening to God’s call for my life and the dreams He places in my heart will always lead me on the right path, even if that means letting go of something good.

-L

All Hail Kale!

kale 1

Over here at 5H homestead, we spent the last few weeks digging out the last of this year’s crops and prepping the garden for next spring.  With the exception of a few potatoes we probably missed, the only plants we left were our kale plants.  Really kale trees would be a more accurate term.  They were almost as tall as my 4 year old daughter and had stems a few inches in diameter.  We had two kale plantings this year, one in May and one in July, totaling about 10 plants.  We harvested the majority of the kale this week, as sub freezing temps will be the norm next week around here (yikes!)

Here are some reasons I love kale:

1. It’s hardy.  Kale will continue to grow through light frost, which where we live means at least November.  The leaves are more tough than spinach or lettuces, so they can withstand cold and bugs very well.  We didn’t use any pesticides, natural or otherwise, and had very little pest damage to our kale.  It will also keep in your fridge longer than spinach or lettuces.

2. It’s versatile.  I will share some of my favorite kale recipes below, but this is a very versatile “green” (It’s technically a cruciferous vegetable).  We use it in salads, soups, stews, smoothies, as a side dish, etc.

3. It’s HEALTHY!  Check out this info by Alison Lewis at MindBodyGreen:

Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Here are ten great benefits of adding more kale to your diet:

1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

3. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.

5. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

6. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.

7. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.

8. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

9. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility

10. Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.  (Originally posted 4/2/2012 on MindBodyGreen by Alison Lewis)

So by now, you are thinking you should eat more kale.  I would encourage you to grow your own if you have the space (not much space required).  It’s a really easy crop and will produce for you all growing season.  We grew Halhoher Gruner Krauser kale, an heirloom variety from Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsaversexchange.org). It’s one of the first plants to go in the ground, grows quickly, and the last to stop producing. It did very well and we will use the same variety next year.

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to enjoy kale:

Chicken Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

-3-4 chicken sausages cut into chunks

-one onion, roughly chopped

-16 oz cannellini beans

-4-5 large leaves of kale, chopped

-3 cups chicken broth

Sautee onion and sausage in a large sauce pan with a little oil until onions are translucent.  Add beans and kale, cook 5 additional minutes on medium-high heat.  Turn down heat, add broth, and continue to heat on low until heated through (about 30 minutes).  This is a quick weeknight favorite in our house.

Add chopped frozen kale to smoothies for a veggie boost.

Kale Fatoosh

-1 cup cooked quinoa

-finely chopped cucumber, tomato, and red onion ( your preference on amount, I am not much of a purist when it comes to recipes)

-4 cups finely chopped raw kale leaves ( I use the food processor on pulse to get the leaves just right)

-Dressing- I buy a fatoosh dressing from a local specialty store as it’s my favorite dressing.  You could use any lemon based vinaigrette.  Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and chill.  Add feta cheese if desired.

Sleeksleek

This Middle Eastern dish is traditionally made with kale, caramelized onion, and bulgar wheat.  It was my first introduction to kale when I worked at Ali Baba’s in Pittsburgh (AWESOME restaurant).  My at home version will never compete with Ali Baba’s, but we like it. I skip the bulgar wheat and serve it with pita and hummus.

-3 onions chopped

-3 tbsp oil ( I use coconut or grapeseed)

-10 to 12 leaves kale, hard stem removed, torn in pieces.

-salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon to taste.

Sautee onions over low-med heat until nicely browned and soft (45 minutes).  Add in kale and spices.  Cook on medium until kale is nicely wilted.  Serve with hummus and pita or spicy roasted cauliflower with tahini.

Happy Kale Cooking!

-L