Tag Archives: recovery

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?

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On Heaven, Faith…and Love

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I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. Many books, mainly on Heaven and Faith. It has given me much food for thought.

In the last six months or so, I’ve read “Heaven is for Real“, “90 Minutes in Heaven“,  “In the Shadow of a Badge” and I just finished “Proof of Heaven“. Lest you think I am completely off my rocker, I’ve also read “Explosive Eighteen” (I love those Stephanie Plum novels!), just to give my brain a break. And…I’m in the process of finishing “Everything Matters, Nothing Matters” by Gina Mazza and “Help Thanks Wow” by Anne Lamott. Yep, I am steeped in Heaven and Faith lately.

Here’s the hodgepodge of thoughts running through my head about Heaven, Faith and Love.

DSC_00041. It’s all about Love- Unconditional Love. The Universe (God, your Higher Power) loves and cherishes you and me unconditionally. Literally, we can do no wrong. We are forgiven.

2. You and I can have a deep relationship spiritually with the Universe (again God, HP) if we but take some bits of time to connect and feel the spirit deep in our soul. Prayer and Meditation help with this.

3. At the very least, we can have a kitchen sink of faith; the kind that doesn’t answer to any real organized religion. It can be a belief system of our own creation. I think God isn’t really picky. S/He just wants you and I to be happy.

Now, this may not sit well with everyone reading this and that’s ok. I am not aiming to stir up controversy (well, maybe!) but I just want you to THINK a bit.

IMGThat’s what I’m trying to do. THINK a bit. And keep myself open to all that I can learn and feel about God and Faith. There was something I read recently, something that seems too well placed to be just a coincidence. Here it is:

“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action. Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mold and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon”. Judy Chicago

What do you really want? Do you have the courage to ask for and then receive and accept your dream?

I am beginning to realize that I can truly dare to dream on a higher level and a wish can become reality. Or better yet, I can have no idea what would be right for me and dare I stand back and let God choose for me?

Yes, it is a huge leap of faith. And it is not about taking the bull by the horns. It is about stepping back, letting go and allowing Faith to step in and assist.

(Thanks again to my daughter Michelene and my sister Cally for these photos!)

What’s your brand of faith? Share it with me…I’d love to hear about it!

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Faith and My Old Sweater

My favorite sweater

My favorite sweater!

I have a favorite sweater I bought a few years ago.  Hanging on the sale rack at the Gap at end of season, it caught my eye with it’s beautiful knit weave and obvious coziness. It is a shade of slate grey, has a V neck and plain buttons down the front. The collar is large enough to fold over and the sleeves are just a bit too long…perfect for rolling up.

This grey sweater is my go-to favorite for a cold winter’s night, a chilly morning or underneath my coat when taking my favorite pup, Ms. Jordan, out for a stroll.

Though my sweater has seen better days, it is still warm and cozy. It doesn’t have fancy things about it and that’s what I like about it. It is simple and easy to wear. Over time, it has developed a small hole along the shoulder seam. This doesn’t bother me one bit. One day I will probably sew it shut, but for now I leave it alone. When I am at home, my sweater symbolizes my ok-ness with imperfection. It doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside; it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Here’s the correlation. Just like my grey sweater, my faith plays a warm and secure role in my life. It wraps me in comfort and loves me the way I am. It is there for me when I need it. It fills my life with JOY. And going forward into 2013, I will continue to be best buds with Faith as we walk hand in hand through this amazing life.

(Thanks to the Daily Prompt and the ever- fascinating group of folks at WordPress.com for this inspiration!)

What’s your favorite object that brings you warmth and comfort? Share it with me!

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The Key to Happiness

Photo by Michelene Cain

I walked Jordan, my yellow lab, outside for her morning stroll. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. Soft gray streaks of cloud streamed between glimpses of sunlight, a promise of the day to come.

There was an autumn chill in the air. Fall colored leaves were on the grass, the trees, everywhere. Our chickens were already up, walking about as if they too were ready for the new day.

I had a sudden appreciation for where I live. My home is at the end of a closed lane, surrounded by a natural woods, but with an acre or so of real back yard.

There is much grass to mow in the summer here and many leaves to gather in the fall. The driveway is long and currently needs some patch work. The trees are large and sometimes, we have to figure out how to chop them down when they get too old.

But, I love where I live. There was a time, years ago, when I did not. I wanted a bigger house, more rooms, more opportunities for livable space, a showplace of sorts where I could entertain and decorate.

What I have is a small ranch. We added a dining room and mudroom a few years ago so it’s a bit bigger now. But as I get older, I realize this is a great house for Jim and I to grow old in. Everything we need is on the first floor. Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living and dining rooms. Only the laundry room is downstairs and someday, we can bring the washer and dryer upstairs to the mudroom. And I certainly can decorate, and do, in the country style that has come naturally to me after all these  years.

What I really thank God for is my natural surroundings. As I get older, I more and more appreciate that I have a view of trees and great sky everyday. When I was a young girl, I loved nature, loved riding my bike, loved pretending I was a campfire girl. Maybe this yard is one of the things that drew me to my husband….the thought of marrying into this yard.

The Hill- A Great Place for Bonfires!

There is a pavilion on top of the hill from my house. Jim’s grandfather and uncles built it ages ago but it still stands. The brothers all got together a few years ago and fixed up the roof, made the poles alittle sturdier. When we once bought the property adjacent to ours (now belonging to my sister in law), the surveyors knocked on my door. They said, Is it possible that the pavilion straddles two separate pieces of property? I said, with a smile, Yes. No one in the family cared about divisions of property back then. It still doesn’t matter.

Because, we are all family around here. We live, surrounded by kin, and that is ok with us. If you want to be alone, you will be left alone. If you need help, the cavalry will show up at your door, probably bearing soup and whatever else you may need.

The point of this is to be happy where you are, with what you have. This doesn’t mean not to dream, not to create goals. But sometimes, in chasing the dream, you realize it is right in your own back yard.

The key to happiness is to appreciate what you have. What are you grateful for today?

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Reach for the Sky

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Beautiful Sky

I am in love with the sky. And though I love a perfectly blue sky, I am even more captivated by a sky that is filled with white clouds and different depths and shades of blue.

God must have certainly had something in mind when he created the Sky. I wonder what he was thinking? Maybe he imagined the perfect backdrop to whatever landscape might be in our line of sight. Think of the perfectness of it behind weddings, picnics, farm houses, and even your house.

Hello Morning Sky!

Sometimes in our work and personal life we will say (when motivated) “Reach for the Sky!”. What does the saying mean to you? To me, it means aim high, achieve your dreams, go for the top….

But maybe, just maybe, it means something more. Perhaps it means stop, take a moment, and use the “powers to be” that are out there in the universe. Could we possibly use  “Reach for the Sky” as a means of channeling the power greater than ourselves for peace and serenity?

Imagine it. Reach for the Sky….for peace of mind…..Reach for the Sky…for answers…..Reach for the Sky….when feeling restless, lonely or troubled…

Perhaps the Sky is a true gift of Grace. Certainly it contains the air we breathe and the weather that gives us rain or shine. But I believe it is more. For me, it has become one of the tools I use to ground myself in times of stress. I will sit outside in quiet, close my eyes, and allow the sun, moon or stars to envelope me and in turn, calm me. The Sky will literally take my cares away and leave behind a feeling of peace and serenity.

I’m going to share a couple more of my favorite Sky photos with you. I hope you become convinced, as I have, there is a great deal more to the Sky than just a pretty backdrop!

Photos by Michelene Cain

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The Penthouse Suite of My Mind

Isn’t it amazing what we choose to focus on?

The above image arrived on a piece of mail recently and I just had to take a picture of it. I stared at it for a time, had a good chuckle and then spent a few minutes thinking about it.

Here is my take on the image. There is so much that matters to me and much of it I do not have control over. This includes my family, my kids, my job, my volunteer projects, etc. etc. etc. It is impossible to keep my mind and attention on “everything” important to me, therefore I choose what is meaningful for that day or that moment.

My mind likes to work overtime on worry and predicting the future. Yes, I like to think I have a crystal ball in my head but really I do not. Taking the most mundane thought or concern and turning it into a ridiculous mountain is a part time hobby of mine. Thankfully, an article I read once compared the mind to a house with rooms. It said: if our thoughts are overwhelming us, we can get up and move to another room. We don’t have to “live” in the negative room of worry and self defeat.

I thought this was a remarkable concept.

Since then, when I get carried away in a room of negative thinking, I try and remember to get up and move to another room in my Mind House. Though I can still hear noise from the negative room, I only hear it as mumbling or whispering. In my “new” room, the style and decor is plush and comfortable. The sofa is very soft and has lots of pillows. There is a fantastic view of woods, a lake, wildlife and flowers through the window. I call this room the “Penthouse Suite” of my mind.

If you’re thinking this is purely a form of meditation, you are right. But I have to tell you, it works. The Penthouse is often times where I fall asleep at night. I have to put aside my worries about today or thoughts about tomorrow and imagine I am on that plush sofa.

Keeping my mind focused on positive things is a mental exercise I practice everyday. And, I believe it is possible to train my mind to head to the Penthouse when things get a bit hairy. I’d prefer the plush sofa over worry anytime.

What does the opening image mean to you? What do you “focus” on?

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Grace is…a whole lot less worry

I was driving home from Amy’s house last night and while I was at a stop light, I happened to notice a beautiful old white house with blue trim on a corner lot. Blue is really my favorite color lately as I like how it goes with my silver hair, which is getting more and more silvery every day.

The windows seemed bare in the house and then I noticed there was a “for sale” sign in the front yard. I took in the house briefly, noticed the tiny front yard and the busy intersection. I thought “tough sale” as boy, you’d really have to like that house to accept the tiny yard and all the noise from the intersection.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen (Photo credit: Lee Cannon)

But wait. There was a Dairy Queen across the street from the house. I was familiar with this Dairy Queen because I have stopped there numerous times on my way home from work. I used to work in the city and when traffic was overwhelming on the parkway, I’d go the back way. And sometimes, I’d stop at that Dairy Queen on my way home.

The DQ would almost make living there worthwhile. Just think of the ease in trotting across the street for a quick cone after dinner. (My favorite DQ treat is a soft serve cone). I really like vanilla and chocolate ice cream swirled together but will sometimes get all chocolate. If you know me well, you know I have a big weakness for chocolate.

The truth of course is I really have no desire to leave my house. Sometimes I get a bit worried about the day I may have to leave. Maybe someday my house will become too much for me; too much mowing, too much shoveling, and too much upkeep. That leads me to worry about Jim and whether we will grow old together, blah, blah, blah and so on and so on.

Sometimes, my mind loves to run away with outlandish scary thoughts. The committee in my head calls an emergency meeting and starts planning all sorts of solutions to my ridiculous problems. That’s when I stand up, as chairman of the committee, and announce that the meeting is over.

Grace is so much less trouble. So much less worry. When I turn my scared stuff over to God, it just melts away. I am lucky I can do this now. It used to be much harder. Thankfully, a little bit of Grace goes a long way.

I’m ready for a cone. How about you?

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Keeper of the Secrets

There was a time, long ago when I was not so great at keeping confidences. Actually, I was terrible at it. I grew up (like all young women?) loving a good juicy secret, whether it was true or not. And sometimes the details were just too irresistible to check out thoroughly before I passed them along. Whether I could help myself or not, I managed to get a great deal of pleasure from talking about others’ problems and Good Lord, the mess these people made of their lives.

Meanwhile, I was the one later who had a mess of a life going on….

Enter my friends, the ones who I latched onto when I really set out to work on myself spiritually. These friends taught me to mind my own business and respect the privacy of others. It took some time but eventually I overcame the urge to talk about people behind their backs (or to their face!). This was nothing short of a miracle. And, I have to say, it’s hard work. I needed (and still need) to remember that talking about others devalues me, disrespects a confidence and if I think well enough of myself, I don’t need to talk down about others to build myself up.

While my friends were teaching me about privacy and respect of others, they taught me something about secrets. Through their own generous acts of respect, they listened to my secrets and kept them as confidences. This was another miracle. It was a great leap of faith to talk about things that I was keeping inside of me, things that threatened at times to seriously bring me down. But here they were, listening…..and loving me anyway….secrets and all.

The upside, the greatest reward to all of this is that people now trust me with their own secrets. They know when they tell me something intimate, it will not go any further than my own ears. This is God’s Great Grace, I believe, to have been given the gift of confidential and respectful listeners and then, to be able to pay it forward.  I gave my secrets to others and now, I have been chosen by a few close friends to be their Keeper of the Secrets.

So I listen to stories of troubled pasts from my comrades, bits and pieces that represent good (and not so good) portions of their lives. When I do this listening, I am silently loving and praying for them. They tell me their shortcomings and again, I love them anyway. Things they suffer from shame about, things they think no one could love them through… and yet I love them even more. I am not sure why this spiritual work has been given to me but perhaps I am not here to question it. My responsibility is to continue to love and accept unconditionally those who choose to confide in me.

This trust, this confidence speaks volumes to me. I will never, ever take it for granted. Again, it is an opportunity to pay back over and over the great gifts that have been given to me. The gifts my friends gave me so freely, way back when I knew not what their real value was.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung

Thank you again to Cally Jamis Vennare, for these beautiful pictures!

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Early Morning Grace

Dawn in Captiva

I was never an early morning person.

My favorite thing to do (always) was to sleep in. Even when my kids were little, we all loved staying in bed until 10am or so. As they got older and started school, sleeping in became a luxury that was only to be revived during summer vacation.

Lately though I have become an early riser. It started with a job I began over six years ago; a job I needed to rise at 5:30am for. I was fine as long as it was spring and summer but boy, in the dead of winter was it tough!

Fast forward to my new job, the one I’ve had for the last year, the one that is only a seven minute drive from my house. I could easily stay in bed until 7 or 7:30am but I find myself up at 6:30am, almost like clockwork.

Maybe it’s that as I get older, I no longer mind not sleeping in. Maybe 6:30am is really sleeping in, compared to my last job. What I really think it’s about is The Early Morning. I just love The Early Morning.

If you are an Early Morning Riser you know what I’m talking about. The sun slowly comes up, the birds are singing, singing, singing. The world is yawning and so am I. My coffee pot (which I set up to brew before I wake) automatically has made me the most delicious coffee of my day. My yellow lab, Jordan, is so happy to see me because my rising means she gets breakfast and a chance to go outside.

When I walk Jordan outside, I occasionally bump into a deer in the back yard. We exchange a curious look and then he runs off to his next vegetarian meal. I check the sky. It’s baby blue with a touch of white cloud today. I smile at the beauty of it all.

Here Comes the Sun

When I was in Florida last week, I could have easily slept in every day. There was no job to go to, no dog to feed, no clothes to be thrown in the washer. But yet I found myself wanting my coffee on the balcony of our condo as soon as the sun came up. Many a morning I sat there with my mom and sisters, just enjoying the sunrise.

What is it that I love about The Early Morning? I love that it is a chance to be alone with my source of Grace, my Higher Power. I can’t always hear God when my day gets going because well, there’s just too much chatter. Too many distractions. At the beginning of the day, there is clarity, wisdom and opportunity. There is prayer, meditation and connection with the earth and the beauty that abounds in all of nature. I try and not take this beauty for granted.

As you look at these pictures of the sunrise in Captiva, I hope you will feel a bit of the serenity and awe that is present when we take the time to greet the sun. It is so worth it to get up just a bit early and catch something of such great beauty. May you be Graced by an Early Morning Sunrise!

There It Is!

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Serenity Sunday

What is it about returning from a week’s vacation that is so…..well….(what’s the best word to describe what falling off a mountain feels like?)…. Painful?

Honestly, does it have to be so darn real? I would think with all the rest and relaxation I got in a whole week of doing nothing, my batteries would be charged up and I’d be ready to tackle the world!

But, after a day of travel yesterday, I found myself pretty crabby last night. Was it just tiredness or the re-entry to reality? I am still not sure. Maybe I was just missing the beach, the water, the palm trees, the egrets….

So this morning I woke up, still slightly melancholy. I know what I need to do. Today is about me- taking it easy, helping my mom get back into her house and, if I’m feeling up to it, a bit of yard work. Also, counting my gratitudes and blessings will right my restless state of mind.

So I’ve dubbed today “Serenity Sunday”. What better way to ease back into my real life and cut myself a break?

Thanks once again to my sister Cally, who took this great picture of the beach on our last day. It brings a smile to my face and Grace to my Heart!

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