Sunday, September 14, 2014

Love the one you're with

For a good chunk of my life, Ive been all about losing weight & looking good.

 I'd see pictures in magazines-even ones supposedly catering to healthy lifestyles or feminism-and think that I wasn't good enough & could never measure up.

Over the years, I'd yo yo diet. Lose 5, gain 10. I had issues with binge eating. I'd use food to soothe emotions and stress. 

I became so focused on taking care of my family and working, I put myself last. 

 The next thing I knew, I had gained almost 100lbs. That was the easy part. All it took was me not caring what I put in my mouth and not moving. 

I numbed myself out, between food and Facebook. 

I can't say I had an epiphany or anything. It wasn't one thing that changed my perception. I just decided I needed to take care of myself and then everything and everyone else.

This is what's working for me:

1. Eat breakfast every day. 

2. Drink half my body weight in water every day

3. Get enough sleep

4. Move every day. 

5. Make a list of why you want to improve your health. Mine was looking at my mother in a hospital bed, dealing with a host of health issues, many weight related

6. Find your tribe to love & support you

7. Be patient

8. Learn what your triggers are. Develop skills to deal with them

9. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. 

Go for YOUR personal best

Saturday, September 13, 2014

(I'm A) Road Runner

As the seasons start to change, I seem to start a period of transformation to. My entire life has been a twisty, turny, winding hilly road-taking me on an incredible journey. Sometimes I have traveling companions, sharing in laughter and tears. We may be on a pilgrimage, like in the Canterbury Tales, where when we reach our destination we realize the trip was what it was all about. Other times, I have walked alone. I may have embraced the solitude, enjoying the silence and the refuge from all the noise and clutter that surrounds our lives. Other times, it's been a lonely path. 
How my soul cried out in those moments.
No matter what the circumstances, to keep myself amused on this journey, I told stories. I told stories that made others-and myself-laugh. Sometimes tears flowed. Sometimes both happened at the same time. Many of these stories lacked a happy ending. Some seem like fairy tales-things are too good to be true. How can these things possibly be-how could YOU of all people have these things happen to you? Others were tragedies, where once I was done telling them I was emotionally spent. There are many, many happy stories too, but they remain at the back of the book. Few want to hear those, as many want to hear your pain, to walk away from the campfire in a cloak of schadenfreude.
Occasionally, I would fall down a hole, trapping myself in darkness as I tried desperately to claw my way back to the surface. Back to being on the road again. Each time it happened, there was a little more pain. It hurts hitting the bottom of that hole. It's scary down there. You can't see what you are up against. Most times, it never saw the hole coming either. I was just walking along when the earth beneath me would suddenly give way. I would tell myself, just let go, enjoy the fall, let yourself fly. My heart knew that intrinsically. My head would stop that all. My head made me scream and panic as I plunged. I would grasp at roots and rocks as I plunged, but I could never hold on long enough. 
Crawling up and out is much harder than falling in. You are bruised and bloodied. There is a lot of pain involved, sometimes caused by the fall. Other times, you are hurt because of bumping around in the darkness, looking for a quick and easy way out. The climb causes pain too. You are ever reaching upward, stretching muscles, tissue and fascia that aren't used to being moved that way. Once you reach the surface, you look down in shame at your tattered clothing because it's evidence of being in that pit. It's unfortunate, because you miss out on the exhilaration of conquering that climb. You did it, you should be congratulated, you've succeeded. Instead, you see broken fingernails and dirt.
There's music on my journey, as it should be on any proper road trip. It's a varied soundtrack, diverse as the day is long. There's great music for those quiet moments, symphonies and angelic choirs. Other times, it's a virtual dance party as I ease on down, ease on down the road. Angry music-that hardcore, throaty, screaming-takes hold at other times. Occasionally, I get stuck on repeat. There are songs, that even though I don't like them very much, I keep playing over and over. Top 40, pop songs take hold from time to time, even though I don't quite get it or like it, I play it because I want to be like everyone else. Listening to the songs from my youth crop up, and those feelings of nostalgia wash over me like rain. How wonderful the journey was back then. Back then I was this and this and this and the road was so smooth and perfect. It really wasn't, but when you're looking in the rear view mirror, everything looks flat and endless. The worst are the sad songs. The ones that hit you in the gut and tear ducts. The ones that cause great wails and gnashing of teeth. Sometimes it's cathartic, other times it just lingers on.
There are many detours on this journey. Some are a welcome respite. We all need those moments to slow down, breathe and just be. Wandering in the woods or drinking from those living waters are what the soul needs. Other times, what seemed like a shortcut, turns out to lead far off the path. Sometimes, it seemed as if I'd never find my way back. In the end, I always have, but there are times I wasn't sure I would. In those moments, there weren't road signs. I would be hopelessly lost. Finally, at the last possible moment, the internal gps would go off and guide me back to my road.

I'm on this road, switching from the express lane to the slow one. I'm signaling to move over, into the right, and let those things that like to tailgate me-insecurity, fear, ego-pass me by. I see ahead, on the horizon, endless. I'm finally enjoying the journey, sightseeing on the way.
May this road rise up to meet me.

Friday, September 12, 2014


I decided a long time ago that we needed two dogs. At least. Full disclosure: I was never really a dog person until we got our puppy dog eight and a half years ago. Then I was in love.
He's the best dog, ever.

So lovable and patient.
But I think, lonely.
So we went to the Humane society, just looking.

(Yeah, right)
We met a few dogs, but this one was a good match

She fits right in with my crazy family
She's curious
Welcome to our family, Dizzy Dog!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sixteen Candles

Dear 16 year old me: I am so sorry that you feel the way you do right now. Its ok, because things do work out in the end.

The first thing I would tell you is to stand firm in your faith. You know yourself best, don’t be persuaded by peer pressure. If you want to be a hair dresser or a writer or a wife and mom, that’s ok. Its also ok to be what you grow up to be too, but don’t cave into peer pressure. Be firm with your beliefs. When you are questioned, don’t waver. Be strong.

The next thing I would do is give you a great big hug.

A lot of your sadness over the years could be prevented by just accepting that you are an incredibly wonderful, loving, kind, compassionate person. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Some people are just like that and they will never accept how wonderful you are. You shouldn’t waste your energy on the 1 who doesn’t care, when there are 99 others who love you for you. You are smart, talented, beautiful-please don’t listen to others when they tell you that you are not. You are the most unique creature on the planet, so you can never, ever EVER be like so and so-and they can never be like you, either. Relish that uniqueness. Embrace your quirks. Flaunt your fierceness.

One of the most important lessons is to not let shame overrun your life. You have not done anything to be ashamed of. You have lived your life and explored your world and made mistakes. Congratulations, you are human. Don’t listen to those who tell you things to kill your spirit. They aren’t worth your time or energy. A mistake is a learning experience. Mistakes help you grow, and growth is essential to living.

Don’t just think that you are not worthy of love. One day you will meet Prince Charming, and he will rock your world. Listen to your heart, not the words of others who don’t live your life. Don’t put your dreams aside because someone else doesn’t believe in them. Believe in yourself.

And time for another hug.

Yes, you do have every right to be angry. You deserve a chance to vent that anger and let it go. Its ok to be angry. Please don’t think that when bad things happen, they are your fault because they are not. You really are a rock star already, just keep believing in yourself and you will go places. And its ok to cry too, both when you are sad and when you are happy. And laugh all the time. Don’t be ashamed of your laugh either, because it’s a pure one-full of joy.

Embrace your body. Learn to listen to cues. Stop equating self worth to a number on a scale. You have more value than what clothing size you wear. Eat foods that are going to fuel your body and give you the most optimum health. Kick the soda habit now and never start smoking. Be active. Don’t make time for people who judge you on your appearance. Stop starving and purging. Calorie restrictions will only make you miserable.

One day you will realize how truly awesome you are, and when it happens you will get another big hug from the grown up you.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


How much more inspiring can you get than Mother Teresa? She was just such an amazing woman, yet so humble and pious. The fact that she devoted her life to the poorest of the poor, and saw some of the most horrific conditions and experiences that anyone could imagine-yet stay cheerful and positive…it is a testament to her faith.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Paperback Writer

From the time I was a small child, I have been a voracious reader. I loved being read to and reading on my own as I got older. Its something that I have worked hard to instill in the Little Man too.Reading opens doors and transports you to whole other worlds. Books can also change your life.


There have been five that did just that for me. I did not include any of the most obvious choices, like the Bible, because that didn’t just change my life-it framed it for me. I also did not include any fiction, since


The first one was Simple Abundance by Sarah ben Brethnact. It’s a daybook-you read one essay a day. Sometimes there are exercises to do, like creating a look book or reading something. Other times, its just a piece to read and reflect upon. I’ve been using this book for about 15 years now. Despite having read each and every essay dozens and dozens of times, there is something comforting about it. Its part of my morning routine. Its taught me valuable lessons. The first was developing an attitude of gratitude. One of the first exercises listed is to create a gratitude journal, which I’ve kept for well over a decade now. Another lesson learned is that of finding simple joy in things, and to look for beauty in each and every day.


The second book that changed my life was the Artist’s Way. Reading it was a revelation. For most of my life, I have been a creative soul. I write. I paint. I craft. I scrap. I do all sorts of creative endeavors. However, since I am an accountant and youth minister by trade, I never considered myself an artist. After reading this book and working through the exercises, I can call myself one now. I start my morning with my daily pages. When I skip it, I can tell. It helps keep the flow flowing. Another concept was the weekly artist date. I spend some quality time with my muse, and sometimes its creating something, other times I’m working my kitchen magic. Then there are other times I take a class or even just move.


The third was Ghost Hunter by Hans Holzer. I read over and over and over again as a kid, and its inspired me to pursue my paranormal interests. It introduced me to the concept that ghosts were real, and can be quantified. As I grew older, it encouraged me to get into the paranormal field and find like minded souls.


The fourth book was Restoring the Woven Cord. About 15 years ago, the associate rector of my beloved Trinity Princeton went on sabbatical to IonaScotland to study Celtic spirituality. When he returned, we had a series of adult forums and study groups to learn about it as well. My faith shifted, because this was a faith practice that was entwined in my soul. I “got” it. We used the book as a discussion guide and reference source. I have read it so much over the years that the binding on my highlighted and tabbed copy has broken. I don’t want to replace it just yet because its such a special book to me.


The fifth and final book may be a bit of a surprise, unless you really know me well. Scott Cunningham’s book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Since I was already interested in the paranormal, this was a natural progression. Wicca is loosely based on ancient Celtic and Britannic pagan traditions, but as a theology Wicca is relatively new. I thought it was fascinating how traditional holidays (ember days and holy days in the Christian calendar) became Wiccan Sabbats. It also is a terrific resource for herbal remedies as well as aromatherapy blends. I have to admit that this book was my introduction to those fields, and for that I am thankful.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Miles of Smiles

Many years ago, I was on the receiving end of people's generosity. My grandmother had a stroke on the 4th of July, 1999. 6 weeks later, she finally passed away after much suffering. 

During that time, I spent every moment I could with her. First in rehab, then in the nursing home when it became evident she'd never recover enough to come home. I was blessed with an awesome church community who provided love, support & when needed, companionship. Our church had a soups & smiles ministry which provided meals when a loved one was ill or a new member joined the family. 
It was a relief to know I didn't have to worry about making something when I got back from being with my Grama. 
After that, I got involved, because I know how valuable this is.
Recently, a family in my church suffered an unbelievable tragedy when their baby was stillborn. Mom had some complications as well, and has endured more than most could bear. 
Luckily, our Bible study group rallied around them and provided a month of meals.

For my donation, I made an easy peasy casserole. 

You need
1 box of pasta roni creamy garlic
1 bag California vegetables
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese 

Cook the pasta according to tge directions on the box. Top with veggies & cheese. You can add chicken, shrimp or tuna to it as well. 

I took the little man with me when we went to deliver it. He was nervous, understandably. However, the hug he received from the hurting momma was payment in full.