Here we are at the New Year. I’ve been preparing for this for a few months now. I LOVE new beginnings..a clean slate...a re-do...a blank canvas. I mean, the New Year just has opportunity written all over it! I’ve been implementing a new strategy- planning ahead- a successful resolution from New Years passed.
Typically I get so busy in December-resurrecting Santa Claus, turning my home into a Martha Stewart inspiration, sprinkling pixie dust and Christmas spirit throughout, squeezing into my elfin costume while wrapping presents in every spare moment of having an empty house. It’s exhausting! Then December 31st rolls around and everyone’s announcing or posting their New Year goals and resolutions- their plan to add in a new exercise regimen, start a new nutrition plan (holla!), spend more quality time, read more books….and I got nothin’. By the 11th hour I manage to come up with a few ideas of what I want to accomplish for the coming year (see previously listed examples).
But as I’ve been looking toward 2017, with an impending move to New England and managing my family both near and far, co-creating and launching a new passion project and working more-than-part-time, I just really don’t want to add anything else to my life right now. Actually, I want to SUBTRACT from it. And quite honestly I feel pretty balanced with what I’m doing from day to day- it's just that I feel like I'm drowning in
I have this dream of living simply. Becoming a minimalist Or to live as minimally as I possibly can...which has just seemed sort of an impossible dream to realize with a big house full of stuff, a backyard pool that requires stuff and a family of 5, all of whom have a bunch of stuff. I want to be free to do and go without worrying about managing my (and everyone else’s) STUFF. I want to be able to travel or pick up and move across the globe if I want to without being weighed down by all my things.
I’m figuring if I’m able to part with HALF my possessions, I should be able to live in half the home, paying half the rent or mortgage (maybe... this is Connecticut after all). And theoretically, I should have that much more valuable time and money to do the things I love with the people I love.
In Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing people with their surrounding environment, it is said our things are always speaking to us, “Dust me…”, “Remember when…?”, “I need replaced, fixed, painted, re-done or I don’t belong here”, whether we are conscious of it or not.
I find myself at a place in life where I want to wake up and, as my friend Karen says, decide what I want to do rather than what I have to do. I mean there are some things I will HAVE to do. And in a family of 5 it isn’t entirely my place to throw away other people’s stuff. Fine!
But at the New Year I find myself contemplating these questions: What can go? What no longer serves me or brings me joy? What will letting go of this item afford me the ability to have or do in terms of quality time and money? Or dream? Or work towards?
I’ve been getting ready to BE ready to do this for some time now...years, really. And NOW is my chance. This year I’ll be moving to New England and we will be going with half our possessions- including the sentimental stuff...all reduced by half. I think I’ll need some help with this last one because I’m incredibly sentimental, but what good is it doing anyone if these mementos are in boxes, shlepped from house to house... hidden away for years?... a lifetime?
I’m not real sure what my life- our lives- will look like on the other side. You know, after it’s all gone. What will be in the void? What opportunities? What friendships? What conversations or adventures? I’m thinking everything will be at least more meaningful, on my end anyway. I’ll be less preoccupied, less tired from toiling, and more engaged maybe? I really can’t imagine it... I do wish I could picture it because I think it might be good motivation to get from here to there.
I guess we shall see….
I'm experiencing a paradigm shift of sorts seeing the words "minimalism" and "decluttering" everywhere. Books, conversations, podcasts, articles and emails to my inbox. 'Energy flows where attention goes', as it's said. Have we as a society just accumulated too much and reduction becomes the natural order? Keeping up with the Jones's, the Kardashians... chasing the money and prestige, spending long hours...days even, at work...a slave to our things. And for what? Is this really living? I ask myself.
What do you hope to clean out and purge this year? A room you’d like to re-purpose if you could just get it cleaned out? An overstuffed drawer? Your finances? Your garage? Your friends list? Do you find yourself just closing the door and ignoring that “noise”? Share your clearing-out intentions below and your favorite methods or books for decluttering your home, finances, office space, and your life!
It feels good to hear about other people's struggles...wow, that sounds really sadistic!! I just like to know that other people have the same problems that I do! I'm not all alone in my struggles and neither are you. That makes us human. In this social media obsessed world it's hard to imagine that everyone but me doesn't have a perfect life. We are all human...we all want to share the good in our lives, but we also hide the bad...maybe because we think others don't have the bad?...that we are weirdos, failing at life? We ALL have the SAME struggles! Remind yourself of that when you are doubting your imperfect life while looking at those perfect pictures. We are all IMPERFECT.
Speaking of being imperfect...we all love junk food! Revolutionary, right? I'm trying to make a point here, stick with me. I'm trying to say that we are all human. Although, I was called a robot once. Again with the revelations...we are all human?...we all love junk food?...I promise I am going to get to the point. I love junk food...you love junk food...we all love junk food. Music notes are swirling around my head right now...this is probably why I am horribly inept at anything musical! Wanting junk food over healthy food makes you human and every other human feels the same way. If I found out that McDonald's food was the key to a life free of disease and illness, I'd be there...every-damn-day!! The important part of that sentence was the key to a life free of disease and illness...it's no secret that McDonald's food is bad and that fruits and vegetables are the most important things you can eat for a healthy life. The problem lies in decision making. How do you get yourself to make the right choices when junk food tastes so good? I.love.potato.chips...brownies...kettle corn drizzled with dark chocolate...bagels...cookies...you get it, right? I love the same things you do and so does everyone else. We are all in the same junk food boat floating through the oceans of processed crap. How do we make good decisions when bad stuff is everywhere tempting us with their whorish-goodness?
I deal with those junk food cravings by finding healthy alternatives that make me think I'm eating junk food. Before you can even get to that point though you have to make the decision that you are going to choose health over your taste buds. You WILL go through a transition. Your taste buds WILL change, I promise you, this is true. Me-ten-years-ago would laugh, really hard, at me-today. Sometimes I want to smack myself for saying things like “your taste buds will change” or “you'll crave a big salad”. But it really is true...ask anyone who changes their eating lifestyle. I say those things to give you hope not to make you want to punch me in the face. To give you even more hope, at the end of this post I have included my favorite brownie recipe! It is easy, CHOCOLATEY, ooey, gooey, sweet, amazing, fulfilling...promise me you're going to try it?! Do NOT judge the ingredients! Just make it. Try it! You can't say you don't like it if you've never even tried!! (The picture is sucking you in, right?!
Back to making the best decisions...moderation is damn hard, but we are in CONTROL of our choices. Each and every moment of our lives is due to a choice that we have made. They are not always easy choices, mostly hard, right? That's LIFE. Life is hard, but we are in control of things that can make it easier. One of the best decisions you can make in your life is making choices that keep you healthy.
The best first step is deciding that YOU are IMPORTANT and that focusing on your health is the best thing that you can do for you. Make your health priority number one and now, decision making just got a little easier. Because now you know each choice you make needs to answer yes to the question, “Will this make me HEALTHIER?” This question can be used in every aspect of your life! Will eating this bag of chips make me healthier? Will saying yes to everybody make me healthier? Will yelling at the car in front of me make me healthier?
What's stopping you from making better decisions? What's keeping you from reaching your goals? Share some of your answers in the comments and let's start a discussion! Let's share our struggles with others and maybe showing our imperfect life will inspire others and us along the way!!
It all started with a simple cheap spiral bound book given to me by my mother-in-law. Battling the "MSG myth" A survival guide and cookbook. I have no idea where she came across it but it somehow invaded my family's lives. Before I knew it I was throwing everything out. Like the pop-tarts, the Ramen noodles, the staple convenience foods in our house and my kids thought I was crazy. I started making common food from scratch. Why wouldn't I be doing this? I did go to culinary school for a reason. But it was so easy to just buy it! So the challenge began of being more self-reliant, reading labels, and being more mindful of what we were putting into our mouths.
That started a passion and desire to know where our food was coming from. The garden adventure began. We were fortunate enough to move from a house in town to a house with a big yard and plenty of room to grow a garden. The first plot was small but cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers were plentiful. These found their way into our everyday meals. Knowing where food was coming from was a blessing! It permeated into the offseason and created a family culture. Once you allow fresh vegetables into your diet, vegetables that are "not fresh", seem to lose their appeal. There was a snowball effect to all that we were doing and it just grew and grew.
And so the documentaries started flooding our living room. The years went by whole foods and whole living became a focus in our lives. Documentaries, books, friends, mother earth news fair, all played a part in the food choices we are making today. It was a slow transition. Not because we coudn't go plant based cold turkey, but because we were learning along the way. We began chipping away at our eating. First cutting out MSG, food additives, and preservatives. Next baking and cooking from scratch. Then being more mindful of where our meat and dairy were coming from. Making friends with farmers and starting a community raw milk run. (which is still going today even though we don't get milk!).
This past year has been a learning year for giving up meat and adopting a plant based diet. It has been a long journey for me and my family. Literally 8 years! That's a lot of learning! But there is still so much more to learn. Join me on this journey!
"You have to get this CT scan for him. We are talking about the possibility of something scary. A word I'm not going to use when talking about your little boy.”
You know that feeling when you realize you are having a bad dream, but you can't wake up?When you scream, but nothing comes out?! It felt like a nightmare when the doctor told us that our 5 year old boy needed a CT scan. He had lumps in his neck. They didn't know what they were. I didn't know how to breathe. "What other options do we have?" I was scared! A CT scan releases a lot of radition. Google told me it can cause brain cancer. Damn you, Google. We kept pushing for other options: MRI, needle biospy, go home and pretend this never happened? The doctor got stern "You have to do this NOW". We did the CT scan. Two weeks between the first appoinment and the results of the CT scan: I slept a total of 4 cumulative hours and lost 10 pounds! Have you ever felt so scared you couldn't eat, sleep, think, breathe?
There we sat, ready to throw up when the doctor walked in and said "breathe, everything is ok". I cried. It was NOT that scary word that she didn't want to say! He had a swollen salivary gland and reactive lymph nodes from excessive acid reflux. Something needed changed and this is where our food revolution began.
"Do you want to try an antibiotic or limiting food before bed?" DUH! The food one! While not allowing him to eat 2 hours before bed did alleviate some of the symptoms and shrunk his salivary gland, he was still waking up shortly after falling asleep vomiting or sweating and feeling nauseous. How could I make him better?!?! I spent hours that led into days pouring over information. After A LOT of research, I decided to eliminate all genetically modified foods from our diets. There is scientific evidence that has shown that GMOs can cause gastrointestinal damage. That day, I purged the pantry...literally, getting rid of almost everything. I tend to be extreme (i.e. obsessive/neurotic). Within days of eliminating all genetically modified foods, my little boy no longer woke up vomiting or nauseous (which occurred nightly!) and NEVER AGAIN has he had an episode of gastrointestinal reflux. That was over 5 years ago! It certainly was not easy finding our way through the maze of GMOs. 90% of our food supply is made with them! I've developed some pretty awesome culinary skills; I'm considering becoming a superhero...Cristy the Cook...hmmm it could be a thing, maybe.
Holistic health has now become my passion. The body is so amazing and given the right conditions has the power to heal itself of ANYTHING! I guess we are all superheroes when you consider that!! These facts fascinate me in our modern world of genetic engineering and pill pushing/popping. I was so amazed by my son's healing story that I wanted to tell EVERYONE! Unfortuantely, not everyone cared. They thought it was a great story, but I could read their minds (yup, I am also telepathic) "I could never do that". As the years progressed, I got more and more obsessed with the idea of healing through nutrition. My interests turned into passion which lead me into wanting to share that passion. I began studying holistic nutrition and the power of plant based foods. Recently, I have received certification in holistic nutrition. That's when my eyes were really opened to the concepts of the "whole foods plant based" lifestyle. After just one week of studying, I declared "WE ARE DONE WITH MEAT AND EGGS!" My family thought I was crazy...hmmm, crazier? Another criterion to add to our already limited food choices?! "We can still eat cheese," I told them. That was only to ease the transition. One month after that, we went completely plant based and haven't turned back! No GMOs and no animal products..yeah it was hard at first! Ok, still is at times. Are we 100%? I'd give us a 99%. Our 1% is sometimes purposeful and sometimes not. The other day I bought this amazing kettle corn drizzled with dark chocolate...mmmm...anyway halfway through I decided to read the ingredients (usually the first thing I do, but I was distracted by dark chocolate!) and it contained whey protein, GASP! I forgave myself.
You are in control of your health destiny! Take control and have that life that you dream of, free of fear and anxiety. I'm definitely not saying it's easy; in fact, it's hard-freaking-work. But we, every single one of us, is worth it!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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