Saturday, December 29, 2012
As each year nears an end, I always take some time to reflect on days gone by and what lies ahead. I have to say that 2012 was somewhat uneventful. I feel like it was an indifferent year. Nothing significant comes to mind. There may have been things noteworthy, but not enough for me to remember them. I think I'll keep better track of the year's most precious moments.
My underlying theme for 2012 was peacefulness. I got through that first year without my sister and have continued to work on healing and moving through my grief. Janet is always with me in my mind and in my heart, but I am accepting what is and no longer clinging to memories with gut-wrenching sadness of what is lost. I am living my life happily for me and for her.
Weight always seemed to take center stage most of the years of my life, but it was actually in the background for most of 2012. I dropped 20 lbs. earlier in the year and felt great, but sadly by autumn I had put it all back on plus more. The difference this year is that I didn't fret over it as much. I needed a break from thinking about my weight and I put it all on the shelf for several months, including not getting on the scale. I was able to let go of it, which is different than giving up. I knew I needed time to re-energize. I'm recharged now and ready to begin the new year with renewed enthusiasm and determination to reach my goal. I'm looking forward to it.
I stepped outside my comfort zone and began a home-based business last May. It started out great and then fizzled out after about 4 months. I have recently decided to discontinue it and feel fine about it. I give myself credit for trying something new. The whole experience allowed me to look upon my simple, uneventful life with gratitude. I realize that there's not much I need in the way of "things" and that I treasure having my days to myself and being able to go for a morning walk, sit and read for a few hours, sip on a cup of tea mid-afternoon, keep up with housecleaning, and sometimes just sit in silent meditation.
I went from a redhead to a natural silver during 2012. It was a positive experience in so many ways. I'm proud of myself for not only seeing it through but embracing my authentic self. I like me for who I am and am learning to accept my quirky imperfections. I can laugh at myself and certain situations where I used to feel awkward and self conscious.
In 2013 I will continue my quest for daily inner peace and living in the moment, as well as simplification and minimalism. It all ties together. My major theme for the year will simply be Happiness.
I've recently become a Pinterest fan. I enjoy making some boards that represent certain aspects of my life in picture format. It's very much like a vision board. To sum up my feelings about the coming year 2013, I will share some of my thoughts in pictures.
Happy New Year to all my friends. May 2013 be a year of many happy moments, the ultimate in good health & well-being, and an abundance of all your hearts' desires.
Friday, December 07, 2012
Some people really enjoy the holiday season and do lots of decorating, baking, shopping & wrapping, sending out cards, and what-not. Some people hate it and do it anyway and become stressed to the max.
I gave up sending Christmas cards years ago...I think a phone call to out-of-towners and a personal visit to those nearby is so much better.
I have decorated less and less over the years. Last year was just candles in the windows and a wreath on the door, with a few special sentimental treasures on the mantel. It takes less time to do, takes up less space to store afterwards, and adds a little bit of festive without being overpowering.
Gift giving is at a minimum, which means no trips to the mall, no fighting crowds in stores or on the road, and no angst about what to get and will they like it. Also, no more staying up until midnight wrapping presents. The grandkids are older and appreciate money to go towards what they really want. DH and I either split the cost of a nice large item for the home or the cost of going away for a long weekend.
We've started a tradition of going to NYC for Christmas that I really enjoy. There is no place like the Big Apple that creates a more warm Christmas spirit. Last year we visited the 911 Memorial on Christmas Day and it was a very touching and spiritual experience for me. The following day we took a liesurely carriage ride in Central Park. Christmas is the most relaxing, unhurried time you'll ever experience in the city. My niece and her fiance just moved from Atlanta to Manhattan last October and we're going to enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with them, complete with homemade pierogies from my Slovak Russian heritage
I have baked less and less over recent years. All those different cookies on a huge platter were nice, but way too much. Less is definitely more when it comes to things like that. Better to indulge in moderation because it tastes so much better when it's not served up with a side of guilt. This year I'm limiting my baking to some white chocolate apricot scones to take to my niece's (which are delightful with coffee or tea).
My mom, my dad, and my sister have passed. I miss their physical presence this time of year and their spiritual presence is felt more strongly. It's hard not to visit the past to relive the happy moments I had with them. It's okay to visit if it's brief and warm, but lingering there too long makes it much too sad and unpleasant. I have to move on and appreciate the here and now. I have to focus on what I have, not what I have lost.
I am constantly changing as each year goes by; my hope is that I am evolving in a positive direction. I crave simplicity. I enjoy an uncluttered life. I don't need much - it's my wants that get in the way sometimes. I am working on taming my wants....it's a spontaneous compulsive thing when I want something. it's purely my childlike ego that feels it deserves this and that. I find that it passes if I just stop and take a deep breath instead of compulsively reacting to a momentary desire. So often I have purchased something I thought I couldn't live without, only to later toss it aside. It eventually would make its way into the yard sale. Having "things" gives temporary pleasure, but it's a never-ending stream of desire, like a bottom-less pit that never gets filled to the top. The more it continues, the less satisfaction is derived from it. It's exactly the same with food. In my experience, constant eating tends to dull my pleasure center. It takes more and more to make me feel satisfied. I feel it's better to eat enjoyable food and eat less. Ha! Much easier said than done, but I believe it to be a practice that can be acquired by mindfulness. Mindfulness in eating is not an easy trait either. My hope is that through meditation and continual awareness of all things that surround me I will be able to become more mindful in eating as well.
I chuckle to think back on all the years I would write out my New Year's Resolutions. The phrasing may have changed, but the two major themes were always losing weight and saving more money. They were the same year after year after year. Then I finally gave up on resolutions. I believe it's better to have daily intentions. A new practice I am working on is to start each morning writing out my intentions for that day. The very act of writing it out increases the chances of following through. Whatever comes to mind is okay. It can be something productive, something fun, something relaxing, or a combination of all these things. The point is to contemplate and plan the day such that it's a day of deliberate creation. The one thing we don't have an over-abundance of is time. Using the minutes wisely becomes more and more significant as we age. The older I get, the more I get a sense of how very fast time passes. Each day is a gift that must not be wasted.
I'm happy that I have transitioned from the hectic pace and disliking of the holidays to the now serene and simple holiday traditions. I used to say "I can't wait for the holidays to be over" and I would be relieved once January 1 arrived so things could get back to "normal". Now I feel tranquil as I cherish each moment of the day and do what gives me joy instead of what I feel is expected. I can fully immerse myself in the spirit of love, giving of oneself to family & cherished friends, and experiencing an ever-flowing appreciation of all that is. I now can say that I love the holiday season and feel more peaceful than ever during this time of the year, which continues to carry on throughout all the days that follow.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
If I can thoroughly convince my mind that I am a slender person, do you suppose I will act like a slender person? That's what's behind the power of visualization. This is a tool that I intend to use every day.
Today I went for a walk with my dogs. The area is lovely. It's a nice path around a pond that is beautifully landscaped. All the summer flowers and the fall leaves are gone right now, but it still has a lot of character. Each season brings it's own special signature. Once around the pond is half a mile and we did 3 laps. Today was brisk and Zac, Ziggy, and I had the whole place to ourselves. They are great walkers. They stop and sniff every so often, but mostly keep up a nice pace. I was able to get lost in my thoughts. In the past, I would do a long walk in the neighborhood alone with my ipod music. This was more like a walking meditation. I got lost in the silence and enjoyed it very much.
When I got home, I roasted some delicata squash. That's my newest food discovery and a wonderful one indeed!!! If you've never had one, you are truly missing out! The skins are thin enough to eat. This is what a delicata looks like:
Cooking them is a breeze. Here's what I did:
While pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees, 1) scrub the outside with a vegetable brush; 2) cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds; 3) cut into 1/2-inch slices (they look like little half moons); 4) drizzle 2 Tbs. olive oil over them (measure out because too much oil makes them soggy); 5) sprinkle some salt & pepper; 6) Put on large cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil (I use the non-stick kind) in a single layer; 7) roast for 10 minutes; 8) take out and turn each one over with tongs; 9) roast for another 10 minutes. Both sides will be golden and resemble french fries but taste WAY better.
Here's my result:
A few of them in the back browned a little more but I have to admit I like them best. I was tempted to eat all of them, but decided to share them with my dear hubby who really enjoyed them too.
Back to my original thought....there's something to be said about "fake it 'til you make it." Act AS IF, and before you know it, you ARE.
I believe that your thoughts and emotions can either work for us or against us. It's our choice and it works the same, whichever we choose. I know because I had been allowing myself to get lost in the wrong direction over the past few months. The hole gets deeper unless the thoughts change. It hasn't been easy to change directions. I've had to work hard at it. But now that I have turned around and headed towards my desires instead of away from them, it's become a lot easier. Whatever direction you are going in, you pick up momentum. Habits are nothing but the result of repetitive thoughts. There's always a thought before an action, if you don't realize it at the time because you are not practicing awareness.
I can feel a shift and I have to say it feels good. Every day, in every way, I am better and better.
Thursday, November 01, 2012
Okay, confession time. I've been spiraling out of control for a couple of months. I've worked my way though the Downward Spiral from frustration/overwhelm/disappointment/doubt
/worry/discouragement...skipped hatred, jealousy, & guilt....and went straight to fear/grief/depression/powerlessness.
Part of it is the aftershock of my sister's passing a year ago on October 2. Fall was OUR season. We both loved it and got together every weekend and did the most fun things. It's so lonely without her. I have some great friends and we have gone places this year too, but it's never the same. I need an army of people to replace my precious sister.
Today is November 1 and I always look at the 1st of the month as a new beginning. Fall is officially over in my mind. After the strong winds on Tuesday, the trees are completely bare of leaves. It's gotten colder and definitely feeling more like pre-winter.
Yesterday I started cleaning and organizing closets and cupboards. That always makes me feel good. Today I am hovering between contentment and hopefulness in the Upward Spiral.
Time to get my eating under control. November and December are usually difficult months for me and I can conceivably gain 5-8 lbs. by January 1. I'm already back up to an all-time high. I hadn't weighed myself in 2 months and last Sunday a.m. I was 196.6 which is back to where I was last February before I began the 17 Day Diet and lost 20 lbs.
I've tried so many different plans and read so much conflicting info that it's difficult for me to know WHAT to eat anymore. Three years ago I never heard of gluten intolerance and wheat-belly. Some say dairy is bad...some say you should have yogurt everyday. Some say eggs are good for you... some say just limit the yolks...some say avoid them completely. Some say fat is bad...some say it's the type of fat that's bad. Some say coconut oil is saturated and clogs your arteries....some say coconut oil has fatty chains that are good for you and burn fat. Some say eat unlimited fruit...some say limit your fruits to low glycemic and don't eat them after 2 pm. Some say all meats are bad...some say poultry and fish are okay, just limit beef and pork...some say you need even red meat in moderation because otherwise you'll be too deficient in B vitamins and become anemic.
Every single plan has only two principles in common; and that is: 1) vegetables are the supreme health food. They are loaded with nutrients and fiber and low in calories. They fill you up and protect your body from illnesses. 2) all processed foods are loaded with chemicals that create illness and a desire to overeat them.
The one thing that makes total sense to me is to ADD. Add lots of veggies, especially greens. Add so many veggies that they crowd out the bad stuff (i.e., processed food). Tosca Reno's "Clean Eating" makes sense to me. I guess that's a start. I won't worry so much about anything other than increasing veggies and decreasing processed. Just doing that will take a lot of effort for me, and just doing that will take me to a better place.
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