Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Celebrate Responsibly (my yearly reminder)

... do yourself a favor. Tonight is a night when so many will be out celebrating the end of  2013 and the beginning of 2014. Please, make a plan. If you drink, don't drive! If you drive, don't drink! Not complicated. But it does require some thinking ahead. It requires you to think about using an alternate form of transportation such as a taxi, or using a designated driver, or being a designated driver. It might mean that you provide a place for your guests to stay, or that you provide a driver. There are many ways to be responsible.

Now I have nothing against enjoying yourself. I have nothing against those who choose to enjoy alcohol. Personally, I will be celebrating 33 years of sobriety in a few weeks, but that is because I am an alcoholic. I do not begrudge you one sip. But I do want you to think ahead and plan accordingly.

If you drink, please do not drive. I don't care how much you drink, one drink or several. Drinking and driving do not mix.

Lives are changed, destroyed in the blink of an eye. When my husband was killed by a drunk driver not only was my family destroyed but the family of the young woman who killed him was changed forever.

I know, most people think this can't happen to me. The young woman who killed my husband did not think she was impaired when she got on the freeway going the wrong direction and hit him head on at 60 miles per hour.

So, celebrate.Enjoy the party! Have a great time, but have a plan in place. Please.

If you drink do not drive!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Wish For Us All

My wish for us all...

The quote for today is...
Garner up pleasant thoughts in your mind, for pleasant thoughts make pleasant lives.~~John Wilkins~~

Think good things! I can't tell you how many times I have to remind myself of this. Thinking good things will keep me rooted in the now, the present, living in the moment in a way that I can remember that this moment will never come again. Recognizing that our Higher Power is here, right now moving through our everyday activities, no matter how trivial they might seem. The floors need swept, there is a chance to speak to your Higher Power as you move the broom back and forth. I love using the rhythms of life to take a moment to slip into a quick meditation. The dishes need washed, right there is a moment to be thankful for the bounty that provides food in excess. Yes, in excess. One of my favorite spiritual practices is baking bread. I have prayers that fit perfectly the rhythm of kneading dough.
Yes garner up pleasant thoughts. Garner means to gather into storage, to earn, to accumulate, to acquire by effort. So grab onto any pleasant thought that passes, store it away in your memory where you can bring it out when you need something to remind that life is good. Something to remind you of all that you are, and all that you can be. There is in every one of us the ability to give beyond reason. To care beyond hope. To love without limit. To reach, stretch, and dream, in spite of your fears. There is in each of us the ability to give beyond reason, and we do so every day when we take time to encourage and uplift each other. The ability to care beyond hope, as we come together to pray and care about the concerns of each, we expect the best outcome beyond the hope of the seen into the hope of the unseen. We love without limit. All of my friends  from around the world who found each other , loving each other through the day no matter what obstacles and challenges come our way. Reach, stretching, dreaming, knowing that there is a place where we can share those dreams and be encouraged to make them come true.Yes, acquire those pleasant thoughts, store them up, use them liberally to remember, that life indeed is good, and so are you!!

Peace and Blessings,

Friday, December 20, 2013

Find a reason to smile..

It is very difficult to be old, and broke, and struggling at this time of year. It's cold, and dark, and it just seems like troubles are amplified in that darkness. Probably the reason that nearly every faith tradition has some sort of celebration around this time that centers on light.

So, as you go about your days, try to remember to breathe,and relax, because the darkness never lasts forever, and even on a cold dark day something will be worth smiling about.

For example, today was supposed to be high 28 and ZERO percent chance of precipitation. My son and I were going to the grocery store. Our budget is really tight, so some of the things he is used to getting would not be on our list today. It's hard to tell any child "No, we can't afford that" and especially hard to tell an autistic man/child his routine is going to have to give way to budgetary concerns.Add in the weather forecast being wrong, and it starting to snow/sleet/ice as we ran our errands, and I could have been stuck in a bad mood the rest of the week.

But then this happened...

 We came out of the grocery store and the 2 lovely bell ringers were trying to sing "O Holy Night' but they maybe knew the first 3 words, I prompted the next line and they said "Do you know all the words? "I do," I answered, "Start from the beginning and I'll help." So we did,and I sang in my contra-alto, standing in the snow with the lovely sopranos--a crowd gathered and there was applause when we finished. Could be the best day I've had in a while.

Reason to smile, I bet you can find one too if you will be open to allowing yourself to breath and be in the moment.

Peace and Blessings,


Monday, December 16, 2013

Recipe for less stress

We get so busy this time of year. Whether we are rich or poor, young or old, we get stressed out around the holidays. If you are having financial problems-like we do at our house, you worry, and stress out about how you will keep the electricity on, and still manage to provide a semblance of cheer. It's really hard to think you won't be able to buy a gift for your chid. Really hard. 
 If you are lucky enough to  have money, you still worry.
So much to do,so little time...
We all need to remember to breathe at this time of year--
The quote for the day is...
A man can do only what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day. ~~Albert Schweitzer ~~

All we can do is all we can do. Maybe we are doing too much to begin with. Maybe we need to take a minute and look at the things that we consider urgent, are they? Are they necessary for our happiness, and wholeness, or are they just trappings that we think the world expects. The world does not cease to exist if we bake 2 kinds of cookies instead of 6. the world does not cease to turn on its axis if we take an hour out of the day and spend it paying attention to our health and our spiritual needs. If we cease to run around frenetically, the sun still comes up in the morning. If we choose to not spend money we don't have this year, no one will hate us because their present is smaller (well, if they do they don't count anyway!)Besides, the small ones play with the boxes longer than the presents! The older ones will understand if we are being honest, authentic in our lives.So yes, let's remember to slow down, to breathe. When we get all caught up in the frenzy we miss so much-moments of grace, opportunities for gratitude, evidence of our connections to others, signs of the presence of Spirit.

So if you are feeling bombarded by the things going on around you, scattered, stressed, that is the reminder you need to chill, breathe, take some time to pay attention. When we are bombarded we miss the important moments,we feel drained, we start operating on automatic pilot, and quite frankly that automatic pilot may not have been reprogrammed for a while and is taking us back to old habits, old ways of thinking that we are moving away from. One thing at a time, relax, unwind, spend time with just you, make room for inner tranquility to operate. You'll sleep well, and get up the next day to do all that you can do.

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Food Is Not the Enemy

So, after I posted about my weight loss this year, I got several messages from people asking me how I am doing this. I make no secret of the fact that I use Weight Watchers. I use the program as a tool to help me be mindful of my eating.

I participate on the Weight Watchers message boards,and some groups on facebook to help me stay mindful. The thing I notice, on all of those social media is that there is just so much bad information and bad advice being handed out. Way too many people trying to sell some drink or nostrum 'guaranteed' to make it so you can eat whatever you want and lose weight. Way too many dangerous toxic 'all-natural' miracle pills and promises.

Honest, if these things were the answer, we'd all be normal weight. Unfortunately, they are at the very least ineffective, and often very dangerous.Americans spend $40 billion a year on weight-loss programs and products.Those of us with weight issues get lied to A LOT! Our health is all too often compromised because we want so very much to not be overweight. Eat this, drink this, don't eat that, take this miracle pill. I saw someone tell someone this morning to never eat more than 500 calories a day. Seriously.

I personally have been overweight all of my life.I was given my first 'diet pills' back in the 1950's when I was six years old and the diet pills were speed-we'll talk about my issues with drug abuse in my teens and twenties later, I think I know where they started though. According to the charts, even at the goal my doctor set for me, I will still be overweight--but since I weigh less now than I did when I was 9 years old, I'm OK with that. I have a great doctor, she uses some common sense instead of a generic chart. She also uses things like waist to hip ratio and my favorite waist to height ratio! That one is my favorite because I have an hour glass figure with a small waist for someone my weight. In fact, my doctor says the only woman with a better waist to height ratio than me is Barbie and we all know she is plastic.

So for those who asked, here are some things I have learned over the years...

>FOOD is not the enemy. Food has many places in our lives. Food is first and foremost fuel and nutrition. But it is also, sacred, communal, social, and my favorite-just downright sensual.

>It is never about NOT eating, it is about learning to eat well. For me that means eat real food. As much as possible stay away from artificial sweeteners, low fat, fat free,sugar free, processed,diet food. Just eat real food, prepared well. I tend to follow some guidelines, I like to eat seasonal when it comes to fruits and vegetables, try to buy local and organic. I like Babara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for reminding myself why I choose these options.

>Eat mindfully. I have tried to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is for me to pay attention to what I am eating. To stop simply grabbing something. I don't think I am the only one who has gone to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of something without thinking, only to realize later that I ate the whole bag of Nutter Butters, or quart of Ben and Jerry's, or half a loaf cinnamon toast. So, I have learned to pay attention to what I am eating. To give my full attention to that moment. Why am I eating? Am I eating because I am hungry, or am I just bored, lonely, stressed, depressed. Am I using food for what it is intended for, or an I using food for something it was never meant to be. This is where tracking or journaling comes in. If I am faithful to my tracking/journaling, then I am being mindful.

>I no longer diet. I gave that up several years ago. I had over the years starved myself, deprived myself, and dieted to close to 500 pounds. I had to step back and see that none of that worked. I had to stop using food for the wrong reasons, and embrace foods place in my life.Food is not my friend, my lover, my therapist, or my anti-depressant. Food is food. I will never again do anything to lose weight that i am not prepared to do every day for the rest of my life. If someone or some program tells you to starve yourself, deprive yourself, only eat certain foods, or take some magic pill or nostrum, stop listening to them.

There are no magic pills. There is only learning to come into a healthy relationship with food.

Here we are in the middle of a holiday season. Relax, enjoy in moderation, make choices. THAT is what skinny people do. If you overindulge, forgive yourself, eat lighter the next day and move forward. Skinny people all over the country will overindulge during the holidays.The difference between them and those of us who have weight issues? They don't see enjoying food as a character flaw. They don't beat themselves up because they had Grandma's famous pie, or my very famous peanut butter fudge. They know that there are times that food is to be shared, times that food is meant to delight the senses.

 Eat well. Eat real food that tastes good. Be mindful of every bite as it fuels your body, connects you with loved ones, brings good memories, and delights the senses. Food is many things, but food is NOT the Enemy.

Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Good ol' days

So I just finished reading a new book by one of my favorite authors. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I highly recommend it. It is set in small town Minnesota in the summer of 1961. Now, I was very much alive and aware of that time in history, and enjoyed visiting it in this book. The book is a coming of age story, the main character is a 13 year old boy, and in that summer he lives thurhg a lot in this small town, deaths-accidental, murder, suicide. He learns that adults often have lives filled with secrets, lies, betrayal-and that most things can be lived through.

Reading this book reminded me of something I often tell people. There just weren't any Good Ol' Days. A lot of folks think we have 'gone to hell in a handbasket' and talk about taking our society back to a time when supposedly families and values were different. I tend to shake my head and tell them that time didn't exist.

I wouldn't go back for anything. Personally I think people have this skewed vision of what life used to be-too many Norman Rockwell magazine covers. Norman Rockwell was an artist not an historian.

Honestly, people weren't all that much different 50, 60, 100 years ago. There were good people, there were not so good people. It wasn't a Norman Rockwell magazine cover or an episode of Leave it To Beaver. Just like now, so many things depend on your economic status. Poor women worked outside the home-often in the homes of women with more resources. Poor people spent there limited resources trying to keep a roof over their head and feed their families.

So, let go of the imaginary memories. You are probably equating a movie you saw with what actually occured in people's everday lives.

Make today important, live the best you can today, and stop longing for a different time that never existed. Throw yourself into life, find something that causes you to dream and go for it.