Thankful Thursdays

HappyMother's Day

Leading gratitude researches have found that people who weekly journal what they are thankful for (as few as 5 things) are more optimistic and feel better about their life as a whole. I thought it would be a great exercise for us to do together here at A Life Enjoyed on Thursdays. How about it?! I’ve typed up my 5.

Now it’s your turn! What 5 things are you thankful for this week?

Martha’s Vineyard

Taking the ferry to Martha's Vineyard

imageimageWe have been enjoying some time away from Boston. Haddie celebrated her 7th birthday on Monday, so we let her choose where we would spend our little family get away. She chose Martha’s Vineyard because she is really into islands these days and she had fond memories of a day trip we took to the island two years ago. This was second to Hawaii, but I still think she is having fun, ha. The only thing better than an island for her is an island with a volcano.

Speaking of Hawaii. Haddie was super excited at dinner tonight when we sat next to a couple at the hotel restaurant who actually live in Hawaii. She had a lot of questions for them and they were very sweet to answer as many of them as they could. Of course, she let them know she was saving her change to go sometime in the future. It’s really cute. We have to figure out how to get that kid there someday!

imageimageTomorrow is our last day. We are only spending three days, but we have fit in a lot of fun so far. We have visited all the major towns on the island, enjoying their little downtown districts. It’s cute watching the girls saunter up the sidewalks deciding what stores they would like to visit. They are especially fond of bookstores and any store with toys. Although, still being April, many of the stores and restaurants have yet to open.

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Spring is here, kind of

Spring Tree


The house we are renting while we finish renovating our new home doesn’t have a yard. This is one of the downsides to city living. So you can imagine that we are really excited by the fact that our new house DOES have a yard. I think where we have went without one for so long now (4 years), we will REALLY enjoy and appreciate having it once we do. But in the meantime, if we want to get outside, we take walks. And hang out at the park or the beach (we’re looking forward to beach weather!).

The girls and I thought yesterday was a funny day. We saw this beautiful tree in bloom, yet it was cold enough we all needed warm jackets! One of the things I am finding, living here in Boston, is that the weather can be tricky to gauge. The buildings often block wind or shade the sun and give you a false impression of the temperature. So we usually dress in layers we can remove or take a jacket or sweater, just in case. I remember Continue reading

I think you are amazing, but that doesn’t matter

I think you are amazing! I really do.

But do you know what? It doesn’t matter what I think, because you have great value regardless.

A recipe for feeling miserable


Don’t let society or another person’s opinions of you tell you differently or define who you are. It’s so easy to slip into that frame of mind. It’s human nature to look to other people around us to find our worth, to base our worth on their perceptions of us. Oh, but this is an incredibly unhealthy way to live. Basing our value on what we perceive others to believe about us, or maybe even what they have told us in words or actions, is a recipe for a miserable existence. I know this from experience.

Back in the day

Burrus_HallBurrus Hall, VA TECH


Duck Pond, VA TECH

I remember a time back when I was dating a guy long distance in college. We had met in a creative writing class his last semester at our university,  right before he transferred to do graduate work in Savannah. I was SO into him and our relationship. I didn’t do a lot of dating in high school and I think I was in love with the idea of being in love, ha. Finally, I was with someone who I thought loved me. I confused all the Continue reading

Love doesn’t just happen

Real_love_2Emotions happen. Hormones happen. Romantic feelings happen. But love does not just happen.

Oh, sure, love can coincide with feelings and hormones and emotions and that can be pretty amazing when it does.The problem is when we confuse those other things for love.This puts a lot of pressure on our relationships and marriages by causing us to focus on the wrong things. It causes us to miss the abundance of joy that is right there for the taking by chasing something that invariably will ebb and flow throughout life. Confusing emotions and feelings for love results in dysfunction that a relationship can not stand up under easily. And something a new relationship, a new spouse, even, ultimately will not fix.

Love is…

The great thing is this. Love is a decision. You no longer have to wait for it to “happen”; you can decide to experience love today, at this very moment even. And when you practice this real, true kind of love, more often than not you will find that those positive emotions and hormones and romantic feelings often follow in its wake. I would say more often than not. Real love has the power to stir up some amazing feelings like you can’t even imagine. Want to be adored by your spouse? This is almost guaranteed to work, even in challenging relationships. Not only that, but by practicing love you are building a strong foundation for a healthy marriage, one that can stand the test of time.

So what does this real kind of love look like?

Love is always, always kind. It is using your words to build the other person up, to encourage them when they are down. It isn’t sarcastic or cutting. It is you willing to wait and sometimes to do things you don’t like for another. It’s not insisting on things always going your way. Instead it’s looking to see how you can serve the other person. Love is surprising them by doing a chore or task, especially one they dislike. It is offering patience when the other is tired and a bit short.

Love isn’t arrogant, thinking that it knows everything there is to be known. It listens and learns. It cares about what another person thinks, believes, and feels. *Gulp*, even when Continue reading

Learning to be thankful

Be ThankfulI am a glass-half-empty kind of gal. My husband, however, is the eternal optimist. So it must be true, opposites attract. The funny thing is this, to meet us on the street you would probably assume that it were reverse. I am quite the cheerleader when it comes to others. And it isn’t fake in the least; I truly believe the best in and for other people. But when it comes to myself, or a situation I find myself in, well, then, my natural inclination is not so sunny.

Forging a new path by being thankful

As you have probably already guessed, thankfulness is not my default attitude. Complaining-  yes. Discouragement-  absolutely. But heart-felt gratitude for all the amazingly good things in my life, sadly- not so much. And yet, I know that living this way isn’t healthy and it robs me of joy. So I have been learning a new way, forging a new path (literally, new path-ways in my brain). I am training myself to respond differently, to have more hope now and for the future. To really, truly be thankful in all circumstances.

Thankfulness takes practice

I would be lying if I didn’t say that it has been two steps forward, one step back. I’m learning and that’s okay. In the past I expected perfection of myself and my circumstances before I could be thankful. I was rarely thankful. So, even giving myself some grace in the learning process is progress, steps closer to being a more grateful mom, wife, and friend. And the more I practice the easier it is becoming.

A shift

I have made so many changes over the last decade that have helped me enjoy life more, and my effort at thankfulness has been one of the best. I kid you not. I am not sure why Continue reading

Practice self-care: a gift to those you love, not selfishness

Gillihan Family

(Photograph by Dave Carney)

It’s time to practice some self-care and let those you love be your motivation to do so. It is easy to put off taking care of yourself when there are so many things already needing your time and attention. I know! But one of the best gifts you can give your friends and family is a whole, healthy you. A you who isn’t just barely making it day-to-day.

But isn’t self-care selfish?

I used to think that this was selfish. I used to think that the way I loved my family was to pour out every little drop of me. But all that was left was a useless me. A stressed, down, frazzled, exhausted, anxious me. Smiles were forced, nerves were on edge, and life felt miserable. I couldn’t see and embrace the gifts that were right in front of me, even though I so desperately wanted to.

Self-care helps you BETTER love and care for others.

I am not saying that love doesn’t require sacrifice. I am not saying that you should neglect those you love. No, quite the contrary. I am saying that Continue reading

Brance’s Asparagus, Lemon, and Romano Stuffed Chicken with Quinoa


I was feeling a little worn out tonight, so Brance was incredibly thoughtful to fix dinner for this hungry brood and it was SO good. I’ve mentioned before that we view eating well as a large piece of the puzzle to enjoying life (although, I do not claim that we do this perfectly all the time!). Not only can wholesome food taste AMAZING and be very filling, it also helps maintain a healthy body and mind that are so critical to feeling good. And we all know that it is easier to be happy when we actually feel good.

Here is the delicious AND healthy recipe that Brance came up with for us.  So sweet!



Stuffed Chicken:

  • 3 chicken breasts, filleted in half
  • Asparagus, fresh or frozen
  • Lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • Romano cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 cups of prepared quinoa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper


Fillet the chicken breasts so that each breast becomes two thin fillets.

Grate the zest of one lemon evenly across the six pieces of chicken. Continue reading