On Mourning

Jesus mourning with Mary and Martha. Photo from lds.org

Jesus mourning with Mary and Martha
Photo from lds.org

Since the election last week, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering, internalizing and processing. I’ve struggled with confusion, with fear, anxiety, anger pain and a lot of sadness. A lot of those feelings have come from witnessing the brutality and hatred directed toward so many people that I love and respect dearly. Normally, I prefer to remain silent about topics like politics and religion because joining those types of conversations causes me great anxiety. But this week I feel compelled to speak up, to share and publicly own what’s in my heart. Please understand that this is a vulnerable thing for me to do, but I share because of some compulsion outside of myself. I’ve tried to ignore it, but I know this is something I need to do. I hope that you’ll understand that what I say is more of a personal epiphany than anything else, so it’s not meant to point fingers. However, in a world where inaction has consequences, I’ve realized that I can’t sit back in the shadows anymore and listen to the war of words around me without taking action. I need to be an active participant, and although this is a small step, it’s how I’d like to start. So here goes.

When I was 8 years old, I made a commitment to God that I would mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. I made a commitment that I would do my best to bear the burdens of those around me. I have tried hard to keep this commitment, but I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always lived up to it as fully as I should. I know hundreds of others who have made the same commitment that I’ve made, and I’ve also seen many of them failing to live up to this commitment (I’m not pointing fingers, merely making an observation). The amount of “get over it already” comments, and “we had to deal with so and so” that I’ve heard in the past 6 days has given me great pause. I’ve seen a lot of it coming from people who I love and respect, and that has gotten me thinking- why is it hard to accept the validity of others’ pain? I have experienced a fair amount of discrimination in my short life, but I also recognize and know that my life has been one of immense privilege, especially in comparison to SO many others. I won’t pretend do understand what it feels like to be a minority right now. Or to be LGBTQ, or Muslim, or disabled, or a victim of sexual assault, or so much more. I have not personally experienced those struggles, but I love and care for many who have. I know that knowing people who have experienced those things doesn’t make me an expert, but what it does make me, is an ally. Or at least it should. Especially if I remember the commitment that I made as an 8-year-old. Although I have cause to mourn myself, I am in an important position to stand by those whose pain runs deep, because I promised I would.

Warning: I’m about to get a little more religious.

I’ve done my best in my life to model my actions after the person I believe is the greatest example of mourning with those who mourn- Jesus Christ. Here’s an example that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, and I can’t get this one specific thought out of my head. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to Jesus on the road weeping. They were in despair, because their Lord who they believed and had faith could heal their brother, was too late to do so. On top of sadness, I imagine they also felt anger that Christ had taken so long to arrive. I’m pretty sure one of them even told him that if he’d been there sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. When he finally did arrive though, rather than scold them for their grief, he cried with them. He mourned with them and comforted them. He validated their need to FEEL, and to process their grief, even though he knew that Lazarus would be ok in the end. He was the ultimate example of bearing another’s burdens, regardless of the outcome. He could have easily told them to calm down, to get over it, because hey, He knows something they didn’t- He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead and to end their sorrow, and he was going to do it. But would saying that to them have really ended their sorrow? I don’t think so. The reality is, Lazarus died. That in and of itself was cause to mourn. The miracle Jesus performed didn’t negate the fact that a tragedy HAPPENED. Yes, Lazarus rose from the dead and continued on in this life, but it didn’t erase the grief and pain and heartache that came from his death. The grieving needed to happen, and Mary and Martha needed to be validated in their grief. They didn’t need Christ to tell them to get over it, they needed him to mourn with them, and mourn with them he did.

Now, I’m not comparing Lazarus’ death to what’s going on today, nor am I saying that some miracle is going to happen and we’re all going to be saved from the disasters and heartache that surround us every day. I don’t have any idea whether things are going to get better, or worse. What I do know, is that I am bringing a daughter into a world that have a lot of anxiety about, and I am terrified of the things that she will have to experience and endure in her lifetime. But I want her to learn from me, that love wins over hate. I want her to learn from me that it’s ok for others to hurt, and we don’t have to tell them to get over it just because we don’t understand it. I want her to learn from me to stand up for the people she cares about, and lend her voice to the voiceless. I want her to understand, if and when she decides to make the same commitment that I did at 8 years old, what it truly means to bear another’s burdens, because she’s watched me do it. I want her to know that it’s okay for her to feel angry, sad, afraid, frustrated, hurt and upset, and I want to help her learn how to work through those emotions so they don’t control her. I also want her to know that it’s okay to feel excited, happy, exuberant, triumphant, proud, joyful and powerful. I want her to be unapologetic about who she is, and accept others for being unapologetic about who they are. I want her to sit with the lonely child at lunch, and speak up to the bully who makes fun of her friend for wearing the wrong clothes, or having a different skin color or culture. I want her to be passionate about things that make her feel alive, and I want her to have integrity to do the right thing. I can’t expect her to do any of these things, if I don’t set the example though. I can’t trust that she will learn these traits from anyone else. 

I have witnessed and experienced so much pain and heartache this year- whether it’s because of the recent election, family tragedies, natural disasters, or a myriad of other tragic and devastating circumstances and events. The pain is real, the anguish is real. I feel it, and I know so many others feel it even more deeply than I. I don’t know how long it will take for me to fully comprehend recent events, and I can’t even begin to put a timeline on how long it should take for you. We may find that we’re ok next week. It might take 4 years. It may take forever. Or some of you may be over it already. And that’s ok. It’s all ok. Because we have a right to mourn, or not. We have a right to express our fear, anger, frustration and sadness in whatever way we need to, or to not express it at all. You see, it’s not my prerogative to decide how you, or anyone else, should process what’s happening in this world. We’re all different, and our experiences are all different. Circumstances are all different. Different isn’t bad. 

All different means, is that I don’t know what you’re going through, and you don’t know what I’m going through, so rather than condemning, judging and dismissing others because we don’t understand them, let’s mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Let’s listen without condemning. Let’s really hear people. Let’s validate their pain, and tell them their stories are important. Let’s show them that we care by supporting their causes, their needs and their safety. Let’s get involved in local politics and issues. Let’s write letters to our legislators, and show up to PTA meetings. Let’s speak up when we see something wrong happening, whether it’s happening to someone we know or not. Let’s look out for one another, and let’s put our money where our mouth is (if and when we have the ability to do so). Let’s remember that this world isn’t black or white- it’s hundreds of thousands of shades of the rainbow, and sometimes my magenta looks a lot like your razzle-dazzle-rose. We don’t all see through the same lens, and that’s what makes the world beautiful. We need each other. We need to build each other up rather than tearing each other down. Let’s not use politics as an excuse to discriminate, violate or condemn our brothers and sisters. Instead, let’s use love to guide our actions.

So, for my daughter, who’s name reminds me to believe there is still good in the world, I am choosing to speak up. I don’t want to remain silent, I want to actively be a shoulder to lean on, someone to cry with. I’m not sure yet what that looks like, and I’d love ideas if you have them. Please tell me how I can comfort, and mourn with you. 

Cara Blog signature

P.S. If you’d like a refresher on the commitment I made as an 8-year-old, you can find it in Mosiah 18:8-9. Here’s the excerpt that I’ve been pondering this week:

 8 …And now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death… 

Reclaimed Wood Holiday Sign {giveaway month}

Reclaimed Wood Holiday Sign: Giveaway

We are so excited for the holidays! For us, once Halloween is over, that is our cue to start preparing in earnest for the gift giving season. Personally, gift giving is one of my love languages, and I have more fun giving gifts than receiving them!

On that note, I am so excited to announce that we, the Homebodies sisters, have put our heads together, and have come up with five (yes, 5!) gift packages to give away to you, our lovely readers, over the next five weeks. :)

We will be giving away unique and beautiful prizes that you can keep for yourself, or give as a gift to someone special!  Each week we will announce the giveaway package and the requirements to enter.

Enter to win this Vintage Reclaimed Wood Sign Giveaway {Home Sweet Homebodies}
This week, we are teaming up with our sister Heather who also blogs at Drill Bits and Oven Mitts.  By the way, you should totally check out the gorgeous furniture and decor she has made. Plus, she shares lots of very decadent dessert recipes.  :)

Heather {Home Sweet Homebodies}

She is giving away this gorgeous vintage reclaimed wood sign to one lucky reader (valued at $30). This handmade, farmhouse chic Christmas sign would be the perfect addition to your holiday decor, don’t you think?!

Enter to win this Vintage Reclaimed Wood Sign {Home Sweet Homebodies}

To enter, make sure you have “liked” Home Sweet Homebodies and Drill Bits and Oven Mitts on Facebook! You can earn up to 5 entries. Items we give away will be shipped for free to winners in the US, but anyone outside the US will need to cover their own shipping (sorry, thanks for understanding!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We will announce the winner of the giveaway on our Facebook pages on Tuesday, November 10th.  Best of luck!

The Homebodies

P.S. It would be awesome of you to subscribe, not least so that you know when the next giveaway begins! Here’s a little sneak peak:

Cable Crochet Headband {Home Sweet Homebodies}

A Teenager’s Guide to Taking a Selfie

Are selfies cool? Yes. Are selfies vain? Yes. Can I take a selfie if I’m not in high school? Yes. Do I look dumb taking a selfie? Yes. Is this post a joke? Kind of.

Now that we got that all cleared up the real question is, how do you take a GOOD selfie? Here are some tips

  1. Like the way you look: I know that sounds vain, but you’re not going to like your selfie if you don’t like your hair, makeup, outfit etc… Plus a selfie is vain. It’s all about you. That doesn’t make it bad…. just don’t over do it.
  2. Have good lighting: All pictures are reliant on the lighting of the room. You don’t want grainy pictures or over-exposed pictures, plus your phone camera probably isn’t that great, so help it out.
  3. Look natural and confident: This is YOU. Own it. Don’t look uncomfortable or hesitant. Just be you. If it isn’t you to take a selfie, then don’t. If it is you to take a selfie, than do. Easy as that
  4. It never hurts to add a filter: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter all have built in filters to use but so does your regular phone camera. Choose wisely.

Let’s look at some examples >>>

selfie 1 a selfie 1 selfie 1b

 

This is a basic smiling selfie. I liked my shirt and kind of mess hair, I had decent lighting, I put on my happy face, and I added some filters. Notice that I’m not looking strait on. You can play with angles.  All that went into making this a selfie I liked, but it wasn’t hard.

selfie 2 a selfie 2 b selfie 2 c

The SASSY selfie. These are always a win. Don’t be afraid to be cool/fun/sexy/edgy/modern/hot mom. You are beautiful and awesome!

Selfies can be funny, goofy, pretty, cute, plain ugly (my favorite), or serious.

Hope you enjoyed A Teenager’s Guide to Taking a Selfie! 😉

Have fun snapping selfies :)

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Just like riding a bike

choose faith instead of fear

My sweet, eldest son deals with anxiety and has had to work on overcoming many fears in his life so far. We have an ongoing conversation in our family about choosing faith over fear that started a few weeks ago when my boys asked an innocent question that got them a very serious answer they didn’t see coming. I shared the story on my personal Facebook account:

A couple days ago, the boys were telling me about the lockdown drills they had to practice at school. They wanted to know why it was important. I tried to be honest without completely frightening them, but I probably overdid it telling my kids that shootings can happen at school. {My oldest son} started having a little panic attack despite my efforts to help him calm down. It about broke my heart and I didn’t know what to do. Then I felt inspired to talk to him about choosing faith instead of fear. We talked about how faith feels a lot like trust, and how he trusts Mom and Dad but he can trust his Heavenly Father even more. I told him he could pray any time he was afraid and ask for the Holy Ghost to comfort him. He said the sweetest prayer and was able to calm down. We are trying to study about faith this week. Luckily, God is the ultimate parent, and He knew what to do even when I didn’t. I’m so grateful that the words were given to me when I didn’t know what to say.

So, yeah, initially not the best parenting moment on my part (it’s so hard to figure out how much detail to share with kids when you want to answer a question honestly, but gently) but luckily, it turned into a teaching moment instead and everyone is ok now, and hopefully, my boys learned something about faith.

faith

Last weekend, my son again was faced with something that frightened him: riding a two wheeler bike, no training wheels. He got the bike for his birthday over a year ago when he turned 6, but after trying it out a few times, he had decided that he wasn’t ready and it sat unused in our garage until this summer. A couple months ago, my son was feeling bad because his younger brother started riding a two wheeler with little difficulty and he was feeling left out. My husband took the pedals off his bike and encouraged my son to use it to just balance and cruise around. My son tried it, and made a little progress, but still maintained that he was too afraid and that he would try again next summer. We were all frustrated. We let it go for a while. This past Saturday, I got a wild hair and told my son simply that I wanted to see him balance on his bike again and that we were going to practice coasting for 20 minutes. He very reluctantly agreed, and I could see that he was doing much better than I had expected. I went with my gut and very excitedly proclaimed that he was balancing amazingly and that I felt that he was ready for his pedals to be put back on. At this point, he joined me in my excitement, feeling ready to start riding, and it was like a weight was lifted from his little shoulders. He continued practicing until his dad got home, and put the pedals back on. As soon as the pedals were on, I saw a shift in my son. The fear was back. My heart dropped at the thought that this wonderful experience we were having might end in frustration like all the other bike riding attempts for him. I desperately wanted him to feel the thrill of success after working so hard and practicing so long. My husband and I stopped him, and looked him in the eye, and said,

“Son, nothing has really changed now that the pedals are back on. You are still ready for this. You need to decide that you are not going to let the fear hold you back. I know you can do this.”

And you know what? He took about 25 deep breaths, and then he did it. He rode his bike. I ran along side of him, encouraging him, cheering him on and reminding him that the faster he rode, the less he would wobble. I wanted to cry tears of relief and happiness for him. I loved the look of hard-won triumph on his face, and I will always remember that look.

Just like riding a bike

I am so proud of him each and every time he decides that he is going to try something that is good for him, even if it is terrifying at first. I have a feeling it is the same for us. Don’t we all have to choose faith instead of fear each time we are in a new situation- especially when we are doing something we don’t necessarily want to do, but feel led in that direction? I wonder if God says the same thing to us, if we could only hear it- ” My son,” or “My daughter, nothing has really changed now that you are in this new situation. You are ready for this. You need to decide that you are not going to let the fear hold you back. I know you can do this.” And then when we choose to be courageous, he is running right there beside us, ready to catch us should we fall, and cheering us on the whole way. Maybe he feels just as proud of us as I was of my son that day- or more so.

I guess I am saying that being a “responsible adult” isn’t all that different sometimes from being a 7 year old trying to overcome the fear of riding a bicycle. Sometimes it feels like we have to do lots of hard and scary things, but the more we choose faith instead of fear, the easier it becomes to rely on God to keep us upright. Its… just like riding a bike.

 

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Copyrights, trends, and creativity

HSH Vintage Sheet PJ Pants Refashion

A few days ago, I was surprised and a little unnerved to receive a comment on this Vintage Sheet PJ Pants Refashion blog post from about 5 years ago accusing me of copyright violation.  Although I feel that the writer probably had good intentions, they were under some incorrect assumptions, which I think are common, and I’m going to address them, if you’ll pardon my divergence from the normal content of this blog. Here’s the comment I received:

PEOPLE PLEASE BE AWARE THAT this post is an outright copy of a vintage sheets pants tutorial from this blog:http://duckyhouse.typepad.com/duckyhouse/2009/07/dont-get-out-of-bed-.html
I have reported you to the original author and to google for copyright violation. Her tutorial was clearly published before yours.

So, that’s kind of a serious accusation, and I want to talk about it, but first, let’s talk a little about copyrights. Specifically, how copyright laws apply to bloggers- especially sewing/ craft bloggers.  Just for a minute. :) As a brief refresher, owning a copyright basically means you own the right to publish, reproduce, distribute or alter a creative work. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, just what I understand after my own extensive research) Does this apply to bloggers? Absolutely- both in the legal sense and in blogging etiquette. It means that:

a) you cannot legally republish any part of someone else’s blog post as your own- either the writing or the pictures.

b) you should not post large parts of someone’s writing or more than a couple pictures in your post without permission, even if you post a link back- this goes for translations of someone’s site into another language,

c) when it comes to visual designs and sewing patterns and the like, the pattern itself is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced or distributed without the copyright owner’s permission, and

d) you should be careful about creating derivative works- that is, changing someone’s original pattern and making it your own- and publishing that. Derivative works are generally ok, but it is a good idea to always give credit to the piece that inspired your creation.

I take copyright issues seriously. I try to always give credit where credit is due, and I appreciate when others do the same for me. In my 8 years of blogging here on Home Sweet Homebodies, I have had my posts copied in their entirety and re-posted, both with attribution and without, in English and in other languages. I have had pictures stolen and re-posted elsewhere.  As a result I wrote a blog post (now somewhat outdated, as that technology has moved on) about how to go back and watermark your photos in past blog posts without having to replace the photos with new ones. I have had people sell items from patterns I created and shared for free- which is actually legal, as far as I understand, as long as you give credit to the designer. My point is that I have been on the other end, and have had my work stolen, and it’s really, really not cool.

So, why am I sharing this, and what does it have to do with trends and creativity?  Well, let’s return to the comment I received, accusing me of copyright violation.  At the time (2009-2010), vintage sheet refashions were kind of a popular thing. They were everywhere. I even saw a couple blog posts where people sewed other articles of clothing from the exact same sheet that I had found at a thrift store! However, I had never come across the blog post referenced in the above comment until a day or so ago. Even if I had, I used my own words, my own process, and my own pictures in the post on my blog. Of course, if my post had been inspired by the one on Ducky House, I would have given credit with a link to that post, because that’s good blogging etiquette.

So, is it possible for two (or more) different people to have the same “unique” idea independently? Well, yeah. There’s even a scientific name for it- “Multiple Discovery“. It has happened numerous times over the course of history. And honestly? All our “unique” creative ideas probably have a precedent somewhere else. Have you heard the phrase “There’s nothing new under the sun”?! So at a time where vintage sheet refashions were the “it” thing, multiple people went to the thrift store, bought some sheets (I bought several, and saw the same prints pop up on multiple blogs that year), and got to brainstorming what to make. Great minds…. 😉

I’m not the first blogger to notice this phenomenon either. I remember reading this post on the MADE blog in 2010. Dana had shared a photo of a pattern she had created, only another designer had previously made almost the identical article of clothing, and with the same fabric. She said,

“Just as in writing, there really are only so many original clothing construction ideas floating around so it’s all in the way you present it; your take. Of course, when two people both choose the same fabric for the same garment, that’s a little funny.” source

Deanna from SewMcCool also posted on this very topic, reminding us that “you can’t copyright an idea – you can only copyright the expression of that idea in words, photographs, illustrations, music, video, and the like.” She also shares an interesting discussion of legal and moral “copying” as it relates (or, maybe, doesn’t) to copyright.

So yeah, the Ducky House blog published their vintage sheet PJ pants post 8 months before I published mine. And  did a great job.  But not only did I never see the post, my idea was a completely original one- to me.

My suggestion for those who are concerned about what seems to be “duplicate content” on the blogosphere- first check to see if the writing or the photos are actually identical- that would certainly constitute copyright violation without the author’s permission. If they are, then by all means, take action. If not, and it seems to just be a similar idea, maybe consider that more than one person had the same great idea. Heck, maybe there are even several people who had the same great idea. Go ahead and shoot an email if you must, politely pointing out the similarities, before letting serious accusations fly if you’re not sure. You just never know. :)

 

Mandala Meditation for Anxiety

I love mandalas. I remember learning about them in Humanities in college. Basically, “mandala” is a sanskrit word that means “circle”. They are beautiful geometrical designs, often brightly colored, and usually in a circular shape, but more than their physical beauty, they represent a deep meditative and spiritual journey, with divinity being near the center of the design. Mandala derived designs are used in forms of worship in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.

Certain forms of meditation include studying a mandala, and letting it take you on an internal spiritual journey. Other forms include drawing or coloring a mandala.  Interestingly, this has been researched and results have been published in the Art Therapy Journal of the American Art Therapy Association (click the link to see a summary of the study results).  In a nutshell, the study found that “structured coloring of a reasonably complex geometric pattern may induce a meditative state that benefits individuals suffering from anxiety.” Basically, color a mandala when you are feeling stressed or anxious, and it might help you feel more calm and collected.

A few weeks ago, I printed off several coloring sheets (just google “free mandala coloring pages” for tons of options you can print at home). Last week, I pulled out my kids’ colored pencils, sharpened them up, and spent a few minutes each day working on the mandala pictured at the top of this post. I did feel a reduction in my stress after coloring for 10 minutes or so. (Although, I should note, it can be kind of addicting because it is fun, and they are really beautiful. So, some days I probably spent much longer than 10 minutes.) The mandala I colored above can be found here on Color Pages for Mom.

Hope you have fun coloring! If you have kids, now you have something you can be excited about coloring with them! :)

Tabdump Tuesday #2 (Coconut!?)

Today I came across this tabdump post that I started many moons ago but didn’t publish for whatever reason.  So I’m sharing it today because obviously the benefits of coconut are not new information, but there might be a couple of links in there that you haven’t come across, and because I want to keep these links handy for myself. :)

Delicious Obsessions: 52 Uses for Coconut Oil – The Simple, The Strange, and The Downright Odd!…

http://coconutresearchcenter.org/

Divine Health From the Inside Out: What’s All This About Oil Pulling?

The Nourished Life: Homemade Whipped Coconut Oil Body Butter Recipe

Keeper of the Home: The Mediterranean Secret to Phenomenal Vegetables

My Humble Kitchen: How to Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil the Right Way w/ video

What do you love about coconut oil?  Are you using it?

On priorities and compromises

I live in a lovely, 3-bedroom condo. One room for the parents, one room for the boys.  And one room that is MINE. Only mine. Oh, does that sound a bit stingy?  {Yes, it does.}  My family has been kind enough to support my desire to escape into crafty/sewing land at my every whim {I am a sometimes introvert} over the past five years.  And I got to feeling like I owned that room, like I deserved it.  As if it was a sacred, holy land of creativity.  And it was that, but one day we had to look at the facts.  My boys were sharing a room- which is just fine!  BUT they had gotten into a bad, bad cycle of not being able to go to sleep in the same room {we’re talking staying up 3-4 hours, until 11pm} and then the older one waking up at the crack of dawn, while it was still dark out- even with blackout curtains- and turning on the light and waking up the cranky little brother.  Each morning was a disaster.  Crying, fighting, yelling, tearing the room apart every exhausting day… I may have joined in the crying and yelling once or twice after being woken up to referee or triage at 5am.  They were not happy.  My husband was not happy.  I was not happy.

So on a Saturday at the end of May, I packed up my beloved sewing table.  I put away all my crafting supplies and my lovely decor.  All the lovely things brought back for me by family members and friends from their travels Japan, Korea, Thailand, China, and India, and maybe a thing or two from Africa and Spain {can you tell we love Asia?}.  All of it in boxes.  I cried.  I moved it all out.  In went a twin bed, an adorable little three year old, and a whole heckuva lot of toys.

And you know what?  Peace.  In so many ways.  My boys are sleeping until at least 7am now, sometimes later.  They play quietly in their rooms for a while, then ask to play in the other’s room.  When things start escalating during the day, I send them to their rooms for “calm down time”- with their doors sometimes open, sometimes closed, until they feel calm enough to play together again.  Much less crying and fighting.  A happier Mama.  Was it worth it?  Yes.

Lest you think my crafting and sewing days are over, think again! I cleared out some floor space and drawer space in my room, and my sewing table lives in there now.  I still have 1/3 of the closet space in my old sewing room.  My computer desk is crammed almost hilariously in one of the corners of my living room.  Whatever.  It’s not feng shui but it is a good compromise.  I do occasionally find myself walking into “my” sewing room only to remember that it’s not MINE anymore as I see toys and flip flops all over the floor. >sigh< The benefits do outweigh the sacrifice though.  And this small sacrifice of mine seems right.

Someday I will have a room to myself again, but for now, I will smile every time I wake up to… quiet.

Have you ever had to make a compromise that in the end was worth it?