"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." -- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Happy Monday everyone! How was your weekend? Amazingly, NYC got more snow (is it ever going to end?!) and I spent most of the weekend staying warm and cozy in our apartment with the kitties. (There may have been quite a few episodes of House of Cards Season 2 involved...) I sort of hit my activity wall – between photo shoots and travels and work – and it was nice to have a few days of rest. I will say, it's been hard not having Brandon around! I don't usually mind spending time alone, but it's going on 3 weeks since he left and I'm really missing my other half. Fortunately, the month's almost up and I'm going to go visit him next week. Hoping and praying these treatments are making a difference in his health!!


I've shared with you all that I'm doing the Brené Brown e-course on her book The Gifts of Imperfection. (And it's amazing!!) Well, this marks Week 4, and the topic is one that's particularly interesting: cultivating a resilient spirit, and letting go of numbing and powerlessness. Brené had us do an activity that was pretty powerful: we had to list out all of the things in our life that cause us stress, then list the things we use to numb (or "take the edge off), and then make a list of the things we can do that truly provide us with comfort.


It was interesting to see how different my numbing vs. comfort lists were! My numbing activities (like drinking a glass too many of wine, stress-eating chocolate chip cookie dough, spending too much time on social media, or my favorite: staying BUSY) are things that make me feel worse in the long run, and help me check out emotionally. However, the things that provide true comfort (like going on a run or a hike, journaling, praying, cooking dinner for friends) help me to confront my feelings of vulerability and work through them. Ultimately, these activities make me feel more alive.

Numbing is dangerous not only because it can lead to addiction, but it's also something we can't do selectively. According to Brene's research, when we numb painful emotions, we also numb the positive ones. Wow - that's a scary thought!!

As the winter drags on, it's easy to just check out and wait for the spring to arrive. This weekend – even though I was resting, which is good – I found myself feeling pretty down and just wanting to check out. I forced myself out of the apartment to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the snow. I turned on Patrick Watson's album "Adventures in Your Own Backyard" and walked through the gorgeous City Hall Park, watching the snow fall down in big, fat flakes. It felt like I was in a movie, and I was able to experience my melancholy rather than running away from it. I felt alive. (Better still would have probably been to call a friend and meet for coffee, but I have a hard time reaching out for help when I'm feeling down. Something to work on!!)


I love Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's quote about stained glass above. I was thinking about that quote this wekeend, and something dawned on me. Stained glass is made of a bunch of random pieces of glass – many with sharp, jagged edges. On their own, the pieces of glass wouldn't be much to look at. But when an artist fits those random little pieces together, they turn into a magnificent work of art. And I love the fact that stained glass windows tell a story. Back in the days before people could read, they could walk into a church and learn the stories of the Bible just by gazing at glowing windows.

We're each a stained glass window in our own right, made up of broken little pieces of colored glass. When we look too closely at our oddly-shaped pieces and berate ourselves for all our rough edges, we quickly get discouraged. But if we'd just take a step back, we'd see that each of our flaws and mistakes – along with the strengths and joys and triumphs – are being crafted into a beautiful story. Every single piece can be used; nothing is a waste. The most important thing is to let our inner lights shine – that's what's going to keep glowing in the dark times. By choosing to numb, we risk putting out that inner glow.

With this endless cold weather, nothing's more comforting than a pot of homemade soup. I recently made a potato leek soup reminiscent of the French "potage" I used to make when I lived in Paris. It could not be any simpler: potatoes, leeks, vegetable broth, thyme, parsley, and a swirl of cream at the end. Delicious, wholesome – a true source of comfort.

Soup photos by Signe Birck; props by ABC Home.