Birthday Journal Entry

Welcome  I am a big fan of journaling.  I keep a gratitude journal, a bullet journal, a Bible study journal, an art journal, and a regular “free write” journal.  See?  I told you I was a fan!  I do not use each of these journals every day, but write in at least one per day.  It really depends on the day and where I am emotionally.

I know journaling is not for everyone.  In fact, some people would consider writing anything to be more torturous than beneficial.  Of course, my response to that would be there are other ways to journal, such as creating in an art journal or creating a video-type journal.  I am “old school” and like book format journals and my vast collection of pens.  But there are many ways to journal using technology, too.  But I get it.  Journaling may not be your “thing.”  But I think there’s one day every year when we should all do some reflecting, a.k.a. journaling.

Food For Thought  Last week I shared my annual birthday post, since this is my birthday month.  I shared things I hope to do during this next trip around the sun.  IMO, I think this is good for everyone, even kids.  Look ahead to the next year and think about things you want to accomplish, goals to set, considering the big steps and little steps that may be involved.

But I don’t think we should limit ourselves to just goal-setting on our birthday.  Then it begins to feel like a New Year’s resolution kind-of-thing.  For my personal birthday journal entry, I also reflected over the past year of my life.  I thought about things I had accomplished, lessons I learned, and areas I experienced growth (and not just in my pants size!)  This is useful for someone like me, as I often experience a depressive episode flair up around birthday time. I tend to spend too much time focusing on what I haven’t accomplished, the things that still need to be done and fears of what I think I will never get to do.  You know, the glass-half-empty kinda thing.

One of my favorite components of this annual journal entry is answering this question: What is the BEST memory I have from my last year.  At first, in my stubborn moodiness, I felt I didn’t have any great memories from the past year.  I was only considering the big things I had wanted to do and had “failed.”  Well, I most certainly did have good memories from last year and it didn’t take long for me to think back to a single day where I probably felt the most joy and peace.

My best memory of my last year was not something grand or elaborate or pricey or complicated.  In fact, it probably was one of the most simplistic ways to find joy, and in recognizing that, I learned a little something.  My best memory came from a Sunday late in September.  It was a beautiful fall day with an impromptu day trip out of the city.  My husband, daughter, and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision following church services that we should just keep driving, instead of going home.  I am NOT a spur-of-the-moment kind of person, but it was actually my idea.  Between the incredible weather, the relaxed attitudes, and the fact we had no agenda or expectations, we just could not be disappointed with our choice to spend the day together doing something completely out of the ordinary, but simple.  This is one of the rare times in my life when I was “living in the moment.”

Unfortunately, I am not great at being “present” or “living in the moment,” although I am trying to improve in this area.  I want to improve, because I can tell you, that was one of the most happy days I had all year and the feelings of the day carried with me over the next couple weeks.  It was refreshing.  And it’s given me a lot to think about.

If I could experience that much joy and calm from a day with no plan or agenda, why can’t I have more time like that in my life?  There’s really no reason I cannot, outside my own grip on the need to have control.  But I really need to learn to release some (or a lot) of that control.  As I start my next journey around the sun, while I’m trying to tackle bucket list items and pray more and serve others, I need to let go of my need for control.  God’s got this.  He’ll carry me through this next year.

I hope when your birthday rolls around this year, you will spend some time setting goals, too, but also reflecting on all the good you experienced in your previous year.  Even better, recreate as many of those wonderful experiences as you can.  Each year can get better…if we let it.

Today’s Scripture

Today’s Recipe  Since my birthday and Valentine’s Day happen to all fall during the same week, what better way to celebrate both than with these Mini Mocha Cheesecakes!

Usually the idea of making a cheesecake can be pretty daunting, but I promise these are really simple.  They are made with part-skim ricotta instead of cream cheese and the texture is so creamy.  You don’t really need any special pans or water baths either.  These bake in a standard 12-cup muffin pan.  I like to use silicone pans because I can just pop out the little cakes once they’ve cooled.

Mini-Mocha Cheesecakes (makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tsps. AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps. instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
  • 12 regular-size chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreo
  • whipped topping and chocolate shavings, for serving

Directions

Set oven to 300 degrees. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

With electric mixer, blend ricotta, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, coffee powder, and vanilla, until smooth.

Divide the cheesecake batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Top each cup with a cookie, pressing down slightly.

Bake cheesecakes at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Once cheesecakes are cool, remove from pan and invert so the cookie is on the bottom. Place on plate or tray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

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