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Hygge: Nesting in…

One of autumn’s coziest aspects is nesting–and what could be more inviting than a crackling fire on the beach, a Thermos of steaming hot chocolate, and the sound of loons on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes?   by Sharon Sheppard

The Danes have a special word for it that’s become trendy in the U.S. in recent months.  And since my blog partner Mary (the City Cousin) and I (the Country Cousin) are both Minnesotans and half Danish by birth, we decided that fall is a perfect time to feature Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga or HUEgah, depending on whom you ask.

Though Hygge defies a tidy definition, it involves the art of savoring coziness—getting comfortable, being present in the moment, taking pleasure in simple things–soothing things.   Scandinavians are big on candlelight, sweets, music, board games, hot drinks, comfy sweaters, and wool socks, and more…

*Cooking food the slow way, often doing it with others, and enjoying the process.

*Savoring hot homemade soups and pastries, especially as the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to sink.

*Adjusting the lighting to a soft glow.  (Though Americans immediately think: fire hazard! Danes have lit candles in offices, school classrooms, and places of business.)

*Spending carefree evenings with family or friends, talking or playing board games.

*Nurturing a sense of feeling safe and shielded from the world.

In a survey among Danes, a team of researchers asked what things they associated with the word hygge.  Hot drinks topped the list, and candles came in second.

The Danes love tea, hot chocolate, or mulled wine, but their favorite hot drink is coffee.  They are the world’s fourth biggest coffee drinkers, consuming around 33 percent more per capita than Americans.

I come from a family of coffee-drinkers. My mother’s parents emigrated from Denmark, and I remember asking her one time, “Mama, on what day of the week was I born?”

She said, “You were born on a Saturday, just in time for afternoon coffee.”

With hygge as a defining feature of their culture, it’s no accident that Denmark consistently ranks as one of the top three happiest countries worldwide, according to the Happiness Research Institute, an independent think tank focusing on well-being, happiness, and quality of life in countries throughout the world.

Similarly, there seems to be a growing hunger in the U.S. for nurturing a love of simple joys.  And in a world of growing turmoil, it strikes me as a healthy trend.

Autumn is a great time to start.

 

Perspectives on Patience

PERSPECTIVES on PATIENCE… by Lacey, age 18, this month’s guest writer

As I live through my short life here on earth, I am constantly learning and experimenting with myself through trial and error, as we all do. Lately, I have become more aware of my recurring struggle with patience. Those who know me well know that patience is not something that comes easy to me.

While on a trip to Montana this summer I had the spontaneous urge to try stone balancing. This not only takes a tremendous amount of patience, it also forces the body to give all its attention to the feel of the stones and their placement. As I experimented with stone balancing, I noticed that the process made me go into a sort of meditative state, and to my surprise, I didn’t lose my temper when the whole stack fell down.

I found something that I enjoy and that also takes an incredible amount of patience. This may not seem like a big deal to some people on my friends list, but to me I see this as a success story. I am beyond proud of my little discovery and excited to move forward with this art form. This photo shows one of my stacks from today.

 

Inspiration

Quips & Quotes . . . Inspiration for the Journey

 

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie ten Boom, Dutch Christian, who, along with her family, helped many Jews escape the Holocaust in World War II

 

The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

                               SØren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian, philosopher, and poet

 

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want.  It is the belief that God will do what is right.

                               Max Lucado, American pastor and prolific author

 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.

                              Helen Keller, deaf-blind American author and lecturer

 

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.

                              Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, and actress           

   

Why I Use “We” More Than “I”

Why I Use “We” More Than “I” by Jamie Griffin. He runs the site MrJamieGriffin.com to help families achieve financial freedom and get out of debt so that they can overcome any financial challenge, and create a new family legacy for themselves and future generations.

 

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have noticed that I use the pronoun “we” a lot. And before you ask, no there isn’t a frog in my pocket! 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist a good “Dad Joke.” In fact, it’s pretty common for me to fluctuate back and forth between “We” and “I.” Most of the time I don’t even think about it, I just write whatever flows out, but there are times that I am very intentional about which wording I use.

 

The Transition from “I” to “We”

If you’ve ever been in a long lasting relationship, there is a point where you begin thinking in terms of both you and your partner, rather than just you. This is super important in any committed relationship. If you are constantly thinking about yourself, your partner will notice at some point and feel hurt that you don’t think about them more often or more intentionally. If you continue making plans without thinking about your partner, you might find you don’t have a partner for long.

 

It usually starts with small things. For example, if your friend asks if you’re free to grab a beer, you hesitate before responding to mentally check if you have any plans with your significant other. You might even say, “You know, I’m not sure what we are doing later. Let me check and get back to you.” Or, “We actually already have plans tonight.” Chances are, you don’t even notice the difference. Spending so much time with your significant other will change your brain to think of you as a single unit rather than two independent people. Your plans become our plans and me time becomes we time. Trust me, this is a really good thing for your relationship.

 

This is especially true if you’re married. Jenna and I have been married for three years and our brains are programmed to think of “we.” And since we have two dogs, we mentally make plans for them, do we take them with? How long will they be in their kennels? It’s automatic. I rarely make plans before checking with her, and the same goes for when she makes plans. It’s basic marriage communication and it has clearly spilled into my blog writing.

 

The Real Reason for “We”

Like I said earlier, I often fluctuate between “we” and “I” when I write. Sometimes it just flows out that way. However, there are many times I choose “we” very intentionally. As a blogger, I want to share my experiences trudging through paying off debt, financial wisdom I’ve gained over the years, and successes and failures I’ve endured. And because I am so far the sole writer on my blog, it’s easier to say “I” when writing. However, our financial success wasn’t accomplished by just me. There is no way “I” could’ve done this on my own. “We” relied on each other. “We” challenged each other. “We” encouraged each other to keep going and stick to our goals. “We” held each other accountable and believed in each other. And “We” is so much stronger than “I”.

 

Jenna and I do all of our finances together. Yes, I am the one tracking our spreadsheet and paying the bills, but Jenna is involved in every step of the process. “We” talk about our budget and financial plans all the time. I don’t make any decisions without her input. As a result, it only makes sense to use “we.”

 

What If I Don’t Have a “We”

I feel so lucky to have a partner like Jenna who is so on board with our financial journey and is just as determined as me. I can’t imagine doing life without her. If you don’t have a partner to do life and your finances with, you can still kick butt and get out of debt! It might take longer and more discipline, but you can still make it happen.

 

One way to get closer to a “we” is to find an accountability partner or two who are similarly motivated to get out of debt. Get together and talk about strategies, share your stories, and talk about your plans to get out of debt. That’s actually how Jenna and I started. We each made a separate budget and helped each other become disciplined with money. Yes, we were dating at the time, but we still shared all of our financial back story and debt. There is no reason to be ashamed of your finances, especially if you are determined to turn it around. Find someone you trust and work together to find financial freedom!

 

If you currently have a partner, but they aren’t involved in the budget and are hesitant to get on board, you might need to kick butt as an “I” for a while. Unfortunately an uninvolved financial partner might cause some setbacks if they are unwilling to stick to the budget, but I truly believe that if you stick with it long enough, they will eventually come around. Choose to make financial freedom a priority and slowly explain why it’s so important. Work hard and have faith.

 

Wrapping It Up

Moving from “I” to “We” is a huge step in any relationship, and even more so when you do your finances as a team. All financial choices should be a team decision.

 

Let Me Know in the Comments

Are you an “I” or a “We?” What has been helpful in making the transition to a “We?”

 

Related Posts:

The Big Lake

The Big Lake
This summer has truly been the lazy, hazy days of summer. I, Mary
Zigan, have just returned from another Mille Lacs Lake get-away. In
Minnesota, it is the right thing to do…and it reminds me of my childhood and
all the fun times with family.
I thought of some more of the memories I wrote in my Memoir, An
Upside-Down Heart, and would like to share them with you:
Sundays in the summer after morning chores, we could hardly wait to
head north. Usually, my sister Sharon and I would be singing in the car all
the way because our first stop was the little community church in Cove Bay
of Mille Lacs Lake. When we walked into the church– typically, about 15
people made up the congregation—invariably somebody would say, “Here
come the Sorensen sisters. That’s our music for today.” We would proudly
sing one or two hymns.
Mother would always bring food to the lake in order to add to
everyone else’s supply in the family. One thing we kids dreaded was the
“one hour restriction” after lunch to go swimming. No one was allowed to
break this rule! We would walk through the woods to get to the Big Lake
for swimming. The big lake was the larger side of Mille Lacs and had a
public access with more beach front. We detested the blood suckers we
encountered while swimming, but knew they would come right off with salt
when we returned to the cabin. At one time or another, all of my cousins,
Jan, Gloria, KD, Pat, Kaye, Dean, Jack, and Jay, played in those waters.
We often ended up with beet-red sunburns, but, Noxema gave some relief!
Our times spent at the lake with cousins and family are happy
remembrances.
For more about my Memoir: mzigan2442@gmail.com

A Typical Sunday

Hi all, I’m Brad, Mary’s grandson.  Every month this summer I’ve been posting photos from my life in Alaska.  For my last post of the summer, I thought I’d share what a typical hike looks like.

 

This week, we decided to hike Black Tail Rocks, a popular hike near the town of Eagle River, which is a part of the municipality of Anchorage.  What I’m getting at is, this is right near our biggest city and it’s an incredibly accessible hike. We’re spoiled.

Most trails have plenty of wildflowers like these.  

In Alaska, many people fly for fun.  Small planes like these zip overhead every single day.  This photo was taken after about 2 hours of hiking, and our final destination was right up where the clouds hit the peak.

 

From where the clouds began, we could see all the way from Anchorage to Wasilla, a span of about 50 miles.  As you can see, the rock formations are quite interesting, and we saw plenty of marmots.  So there you have it, a typical weekend hike in Alaska.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

What Debt Free Looks Like So Far

What Debt Free Looks Like So Far by Jamie Griffin. He runs the site MrJamieGriffin.com to help families struggling with student loan debt achieve financial freedom so that they can overcome any financial challenge, and create a new family legacy for themselves and future generations.

 

 

On May 27, my wife and I finally paid off our student loans! After about 4 years of crazy hard work, extra jobs, limited spending, we are free of student loan debt! It’s actually kind of a weird feeling. In a couple days we will finalize our monthly budget, and we don’t have a specific place for the extra money to go (at least not yet). Before, it was always about our student loans, so at the end of the month we made an extra lump sum payment to knock down our debt. But now, the world is our oyster! We can do anything we want with this extra money! That’s why we have to be careful, especially right now, not to be tempted to spend money irresponsibly.

 

Here is How We Are Handling Debt Freedom So Far

 

Step one of debt freedom was to scream and dance around our kitchen. In case you’re wondering, our happy dance was in full force and on point. Our dog even got pretty excited and started running around the house and jumped up on us. Next we went to Caribou for a celebratory coffee (with a BOGO 50% of course) and bought a nice bottle of red wine. That’s it so far, oh, and we have been grinning ear to ear pretty much nonstop. It’s really small and simple, but that’s how we’re used to celebrating. Our plan is to have a bigger celebration with friends in a few weeks, but like any big expense, we need time to figure out how it fits into the budget and how much we actually want to spend.

 

The Temptation is Real

 

In the first couple days of debt freedom, we are already feeling the temptation to spend money impulsively and more extravagantly than we normally do. We can buy more food, (I know exciting right), update our falling apart shoes, get new summer clothes, try a few new restaurants, and treat ourselves. We joke around saying, “Sure, we can buy that! We’re debt free!” While this is absolutely true, it is a dangerous trap to fall into. If we buy whatever we want and give into every impulse, it could severely mess up the disciplined spending habits we created over the last four years. It’s a slippery slope and a dangerous path into more debt.

 

Making a Plan to Beat Temptation

 

To avoid giving into all sorts of temptations, we decided to make a plan with our extra money. Priority number one: We are absolutely going to treat ourselves for paying off our debt! Once we have that taken care of, we need to re-allocate our budget so that every dollar is accounted for and has a home. We have a bunch of options, like savings, investing more, paying off our house, and having more fun money. As of right now though, we have no real idea of what we are going to do, but it’s on our to do list and I’ll share more once we figure it out.

 

Wrapping it Up

 

Our student loans are gone, and now we have to start pursuing our new financial goals. Wish us luck!

 

Let Me Know in the Comments

 

What are your biggest money temptations?

 

 

Nothing Bad Ever Happens to a Writer…

Nothing bad ever happens to a writer  . . . By Sharon Sheppard

Writers have a whole different (quirky) way of looking at the world:  “No matter how bad life gets,” we say, “it’s all material.”

But grist for the writer’s mill notwithstanding, I’ve had a nasty week.  What I thought was flu turned out to be an infected gallbladder, so I had emergency surgery to remove the offending organ.  Not fun.

Afterwards, the surgeon presented to my anxious son and daughter color photographs of the whole mess.  No, I’m not going to show and tell.  What I do want to say is this:  A precious Bible verse that I memorized years ago once again became incredibly meaningful:

“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good, if we love God and are fitting into His plans.”  (Romans 8:28, Living Bible)

Sometimes I’m tempted to question God, and ask Why??? But I’ve come to discover that He has a purpose for everything in my life.  As with many other things, I may never know why God allowed this. (Maybe because I ate too many sweets and greasy foods.)

But here are a few good things that have come of it:

*God gave me peace before and after surgery so I knew that whatever happened would be okay.

*This event has slowed me down and given me a welcome time of respite.

*Unstructured time has allowed me room to think.

*I’m savoring some reading that I may never have gotten around to.

*Though I am relatively new to this area of the country, I’ve discovered that I have more friends here than I would have guessed.

*Through my son and daughter’s loving care for me, I have a whole new appreciation for family.

My nephew said that as soon as he heard of my condition, he and his wife stood right there in the parking lot of Caesar’s Pizza, joined hands, and approached the Throne of Grace on my behalf.

After days of gracious care from my busy daughter, who stayed nights with me, took care of food, medications, and a host of other details, I said to her, “You’ve been so wonderful!  I could never repay you for all you’ve done.”

She replied, “And I could never repay you…”

And when I say to God:  “I can never repay you for redeeming me, for taking care of me in good times and bad,” He says, “You’re welcome.  It’s my gift.”

Picnics, Celebrations, Fireworks!

Picnics, Celebrations, and Fireworks! This month definitely begs for an excuse to overindulge. For years I, Mary Zigan, lived for these opportunities. I am learning…

When wrapped up in ourselves, we are wholly consumed with our own needs, wants, and desires. Interestingly, though, instead of being filled, we find that our problems are intensified and just become more complicated. Our addiction is an act of self-absorption.

We now have the option to stop playing God with our lives and be open to His peace, serenity, and the joy of living one-day-at-a-time with our hand in His. The paradox is that by getting outside of ourselves and connecting with those around us, we are free to love and experience others at a whole new level. Previously, our addiction served as a barrier to true relationship, but now we are free to let go and let God!

 

Thoughts on Growth

Hi, it’s Mary’s grandson Brad back with thoughts from Alaska.

The other morning, my phone showed me a photo, reminding me that it had happened exactly five years ago on that day.  The picture was of my friend Aaron on the 4th of July.  We had both been living in South Korea for about six months, and for the holiday we had decided to hike to an observation deck on a mountain to see the fireworks being shot off on one of the US Army bases nearby.  The photo isn’t anything spectacular, but I realized when I saw it the other day that it marked the beginning of my exploration into photography.  I remember specifically researching techniques that I wanted to try, and they had ended up working.  I was very proud.

There are many people who know me from my pre-Korea days when I had no particular artistic inclination. What I never actually realized is that most “talents” people have, artistic or otherwise, are really skills that have been developed over time. The person who made me see this, and in turn is due credit for what is now a large part of who I am, is my friend Aaron. He recognized the tiniest spark of interest buried inside of me, an interest I myself would’ve squashed because of doubt, and he encouraged me. His encouragement was almost like permission for me to be interested in something that wasn’t a “talent” and sent me on the path I’m on today. Aaron and photography taught me that we aren’t confined by what we are today. We can continue to adapt, change, and become better and more whole people by deciding to take baby steps each and every day. Think about this the next time you put yourself or anybody else into a box because of what you perceive them to be, and good golly, encourage them. You never know how important it will be in their life.

Just for fun, here’s a more recent 4th of July photo, taken in Juneau, Alaska.