Grace and Wellness

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With the help of a good friend I am beginning a journey towards better self care. It’s not that I wasn’t good at it before but you know how it goes. Get busy, neglect sleep, eat poorly, and forget the exercise. The typical stuff of a mid life woman who tries to do too much.

I procrastinated about this wellness focus for months, waiting until my schedule finally cleared enough to give mental space (and energy) to the idea. My friend said to do this alittle at a time (thank God) and she sent me encouraging emails with her own health and wellness tips.

First up, a plant in my room. Sounds so simple but a plant provides oxygen and that can only be good. Second, I ordered a good book- Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I couldn’t resist skimming the first few chapters and wasn’t surprised. Eat more plants and don’t eat things that have more than five ingredients on the package. Right!

Of course it was a few days before Thanksgiving when I read this. I gave thought to what I was going to be eating on the holiday. Turkey, well, only one ingredient there. Baked yams and pineapple, pretty good.  Hawaiian rolls, probably not so good but delicious. Mashed potatoes made with Yukon golds, butter, and a little cream. I thought this really wasn’t so bad.

The pumpkin pie was made from a can that needed condensed milk and eggs. Mom made homemade crust with flour and crisco, a big no no I’m sure but heck, it’s the holiday right? Plus I am not going to tell mom not to make pie. 🙂

All in all, I would say I did not overeat on Thanksgiving. I felt fine afterwards. I cleaned up the kitchen and sealed up leftovers for the next day. No need to cook dinner tonight!

I think the hardest thing about health and wellness for me is putting myself first. Life is ongoing around my house. There are always things to do and some kind of agenda. Even though I no longer work full time, I have a million mundane things to do (laundry, housekeeping, dog, babysit Penny, help my mother). Prioritizing is key. The one gift of menopause has been the recognition that I can’t do it all. I don’t feel guilty saying no anymore. I’ve done the committees, the grunge work, the volunteering. It’s ok by me to say no.

Making an effort at better self care is good. Not feeling guilty about what I don’t accomplish is a challenge. Setting realistic expectations is the order of the day. The grace is in turning it over to the universe.

I hope you have a wonderful week! If you have any tips for self care, I’d love to hear them.

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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It’s My Son’s Birthday

My favorite picture of John and Me, taken about a year ago
My favorite picture of John and me

Today my son John is 29 years old. It’s hard for me to believe but yes, it’s really true.

When he was born, I wanted to give him a strong name. I absolutely love “John” and I think it fits him perfectly. I know I spoiled him (like I did Michelene); honestly, I don’t think his feet touched the ground for his first two years of life. He rarely cried or fussed. He did make a lot of noise when his friend Ryan would come over to play. 🙂

John must truly have God’s grace because he has had a few close calls. What is it about boys that test our strength? In middle school, he broke his collarbone playing basketball. In his first couple years of college, he survived a motorcycle accident (I said no more motorcycles after that) and an appendicitis attack (when Jim happened to be out of town- oy!).

John at an event for Andy Warhol
John at an event for Andy Warhol

What I love most about John is his warm and often times, very funny personality. He had the picture (above) as his cover photo on Facebook for a while. I’d laugh out loud everytime I saw it. His laugh is awesome and it comes from his whole heart.

John lived as a resident watchman in a large religious institution (in exchange for running the front desk a few nights a week) for seven+ years until he just recently left. Members of the congregation would send me emails and little notes about what a great guy he was. When I’d drop by to visit him, I would get stopped in the hall. People love to tell me about him and what a good kid he is.

John didn’t like the large university he went to years ago but he excelled at a smaller technical school. The IT degree he received is perfect for him. He loves working on software problems and diagnosing issues. He is like his dad in that sense, very patient, which is something I am not (but grateful that he is). And, it’s really wonderful to have your own IT guy at your disposal.

I love when he gets together with his friends and takes pictures. This one was from a wedding he was a part of in Punta Cana with his good friend Pat.

John (3rd from Left) in Punta Cana
John (3rd from Left) in Punta Cana

John, I am so blessed to have you as my son. You are truly a gift from above and I am proud of you! Happy Birthday!

John and his girl Jess
John and his girl Jess

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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View From A Farm

The Field at the Farm

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

Every now and then I take the time to slow down and I remember who I am again. It happened last week when I spent four days with my sister Mary and her partner Starr.

Mary had a big event she could have used some help with and well since I’m an event coordinator (after all!), it was easy for me to head down to be of assistance. While I was there, I met some amazing new people and got to visit with some wonderful old friends. This event was called “In Good Company” and was a first time fundraiser for the Winston Salem LGBT community center North Star. I declare it a great success. There were 250 guests plus awards, speakers, music, food, silent auction- what more could a person want?

Mary and Rex at In Good Company
Mary and Rex at In Good Company

When that was over, I spent the next couple of days eating Greek food (and visiting with an old friend), going to the movies, shopping, and having Starr’s wonderful homemade cooking. I had lunch with my webmaster and learned some new things. My favorite gift hang out is still in downtown Winston Salem, Earthbound Arts, which you absolutely have to check out when you’re in the neighborhood.

But guess what I did in the down time? Nothing. Yes, that’s right. NOTHING. I laid in the big bed of my room and read and slept. I took lavender scented baths, and looked out the window. Here’s the view.

Sunrise on the Farm

Amazing, isn’t it?

What do you do when you slow down? For me there was no cooking, no driving, no laundry, no meal planning and only worrying about me. That is a hard thing to come by these days since my life revolves around my family and business. But this is important. This is necessary. This is what taking a break is all about.

And since Mary and Starr live on a farm, there were great views and scenery to remind me to keep it simple.

Even on the plane ride down and back I read, napped and took it easy. Unbelievable. But I have to tell you. I had a great time!

Morning Walk with the Dogs
The Barn
The Field Mid Morning
View from my Window

Thank you to Mary, Starr, Julia, Susan, Tamara, Gordon and the North Star friends who made this trip really special.

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Winter Comforts

Faith Tree

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

How is it possible to find comfort in a winter that seems to never end?

Here in the Northeast, as in other parts of the country, we have been bombarded by snow, snow, snow and freezing temperatures. We woke up to freezing rain and snow this morning yet again, and it’s only the beginning of February!

As optimistic as I try to be, I can get down in the dumps about all this cold weather. But I do have some secret weapons that help me through a long winter. Here are some of my best strategies:

First, I use pops of color to keep me motivated. I have a set of bright beaded bracelets I bought from a sweet bunch of young girls who were selling them to raise money. I think it was the Girl Scouts. So I bought a handful of them and sport them on bleak dreary days. I also have some bright sweaters- red!- and cheery scarves just perfect for a pick me up.

A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!
A Crystal Dove on my Winter Tree!

Second, I made an indoor winter tree. Since I didn’t have the heart to completely dismantle my holiday tree, I adapted it. I put away the obvious Christmas ornaments and left the winter ones on. I have a small pair of mittens, a miniature ice skate, frosted cranberry branches and other red and white decorations amid golden twinkle lights. I admit to lighting this glowing tree every morning while I drink my first coffee of the day and do my spiritual readings. I love the glow and the light infuses hope into my heart and soul.

Third, I spend time with my friends. We go to lunch, hit the mall or my favorite consignment shop. I put on my warmest boots and coat and push myself to get out, as long as the roads are good. Lunch with Amy is one of my favorite things and we went to a place recently with a crackling fire. I love fires!

Fourth, I drink a lot of hot cocoa! I bought some candy cane cocoa at holiday’s end and I’ve been enjoying a mug almost daily. Yes, it is indulgent but tough times call for strategic measures! Cocoa is a must in winter weather and marshmallows make it all the better.

Finally, I try new recipes. I made a delicious navy bean soup twice in the last few weeks. Making my own chicken broth and using a leftover holiday ham bone cranked up the volume on this heart warming soup! Check out the recipe HERE if you’re a bean soup fan!

Don’t you feel warmer and cozier already? Please share your winter weather strategy measures. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure others would as well!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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My Word of the Year

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It was an exciting moment. We were all gathered together. The occasion? The yearly gifting of our word of the year.

After the coffee was poured and Amy’s pizzelles were delightfully sampled, Nicole passed around her pretty basket filled with handmade bookmarks. On each of those treasures was a quotation reflective of the word.

Here was my quote: “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Carlos Castaneda

Well, what can I say? The quote was perfect for me. The holidays always spark excitement as well as exhaustion for me, as I try and cover all those responsibility bases. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and at that moment, I gave myself permission. I breathed in deeply and said, just enjoy it.

I turned the bookmark over and lucky me, there were actually two words. Self- care and Happiness. Wow, I couldn’t have said it any better.

My friends and I are always of the feeling that we get the word we are supposed to for a reason. Now I have had some unexplainable words given to me over the years but it has been uncanny how they easily become my theme for the year.

So here’s to self care and happiness in 2014. Not surprisingly, I received an email shortly after given this word and received my first client of the new year! A wedding to be held in June of 2014!

So here’s your challenge. Pick a word for yourself that can be your word of the year. Keep that word in the back of your mind and read about it. Study it just a bit. Make it part of your mantra. You will be surprised how it will keep you motivated!

My friend over at Sunday’s Child wrote a great post about her word of the year! For more inspiration click HERE.

I wish you a happy and healthy new year in 2014! Blessings!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Nourishment….Body and Soul

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We are spiritual beings living a human life. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lately, I’ve been pondering a different approach to taking better care of myself. I have been thinking about Body and Soul. Sure, it’s a phrase that’s been around forever. But I’m taking it to heart and realizing that one without the other is like walking around with only one shoe.

First, SOUL. I am better at taking care of my spiritual self. Devoting a portion of my non working hours to service work is spiritually fulfilling for me.  This blog and you, my reader, are part of my spiritual life. Spiritual reading, volunteer work and even prayer and meditation are important parts of my soul work.

Now when it comes to BODY, that is a different issue all together.

Menopause (or, insert issue of choice here) has reeked havoc on my physical body. I am abit overweight, tired and admittedly, over sugared. This is where some change needs to occur. My thickening middle has me a bit depressed and there is really no one that can change that except me.

Though I have been trying to do little things to build a healthier me, I’ve not done a good job managing my weight. I rationalize it with my many obligations, stresses, weather, you name it. But deep down I know I really want to take better care of my “temple”.

At this point I have to tell you I don’t believe in diets. I don’t think they work. Having watched friends gain and lose the same pounds over and over through various diets, I believe the mental state of “diet” is starvation. That may not be the case, but perhaps the word reeks a mental manipulation within the heads of its participants. I’d rather make positive changes to eat healthier and get enough exercise.

I want to believe there is a direct correlation between faith and food. If I treat my body as the temple for my soul, does that make me want to treat it better? Yes, it does. So that is what I’m going to try.

By placing food in the same mental bracket as faith, I hope to change how I feed myself. By taking a moment to reflect and notice what I’m putting in my mouth and why, I hope to give my body a bit more respect. The respect it really deserves.

Are you better at Body or Soul? Or both? What works for you?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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What Water Aerobics Class is Really Like

My husband and I are taking a water aerobics class. Lest you immediately picture a group of svelte, toned swimmers doing sleek, calculated aerobic moves in an Olympic size pool, let me clue you in. This class is definitely not a group of Baywatch babes!

There are about a dozen or so participants in our class. I would say the age range is probably anywhere from 50- 70. Nobody is thin. We all complain about aches and pains, which is the main reason we are there. We are trying to get a bit more healthy.

The class is held at a local school, through our township. It is unbelievably cheap. A whole series of nine classes is $48 per person. Sometimes I can’t believe my husband (Jim) was game to take this class with me. He has had some health issues and I thought he’d laugh at the idea when I asked him if he was interested. But to my surprise, he said yes.

Here’s how a typical class goes. All of us warm up by walking around in a large circle in the shallow end of the pool. Occasionally, our instructor (Leslie) shouts “THE OTHER WAY!” which means we turn around and start walking the other way. This causes the water to swirl and creates resistance. It’s a good way to warm up.

After warm up, we usually launch into some kicks and stretches below the water level. Leslie likes to mix it up and we get to work with weights (they float!), noodles and these circular stretchy things that go around our ankles. We do some laps too as part of our hour. The class is definitely a work out. There is however, no pressure to push beyond what we individually are comfortable doing. Thank goodness or I never would have lasted long in this class.

Here’s my challenging part of class. Our instructor is younger than us and has yet to experience the drop in hearing that comes with age 50+. The pool is in a large room that echoes. To complicate matters, Leslie likes to play loud music (upbeat stuff like Flash Dance) via a CD player near the back wall of the pool. As you can well imagine, I spend most of my class time trying to read Leslie’s lips.

This past week, Leslie created “stations” all around the parameter of the shallow end of the pool. Each station had a note card (encased in plastic of course) that gave you a different exercise to do. Leslie is very creative but she is not always a good communicator. So though I tried to get a good grip on the entirety of this exercise, I never really understood exactly how it was to work.

Apparently I was not the only one confused. A bunch of us (slightly deaf ones like me) kept looking at each other and saying “what’s next”? If I asked Leslie, she always helped me figure it out but I hated asking her every time. After a couple turns of the stations, I had a light bulb moment. No one was giving me a hard time, no one really cared that I didn’t get it. Everyone kind of did their own thing. So that is what I did.

At one point I looked around and we were all participating and splashing. It was fun, healthy and ok. It didn’t matter how I did it. It just mattered that I was there, doing it.

Afterward, when we were done with the stations, we did our (ending) cool down stretches. Leslie asked what we thought of the stations. Most of us liked it. One woman said it was not enough of a work out for her. Jim and I discussed this later and decided this woman was just not really digging in. I think this was just our way of siding with Leslie. We really like her.

Did you ever do something you weren’t really good at but you plugged away at it anyway? Because when you were all done, you felt really good about the way it made you feel? And even though you knew you didn’t look all that good while doing it, who cares?  If you’ve ever had a moment like this, share it with me!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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