So, spinning off from last week’s blog post about exploring our creativity, it occurred to me that maybe we would all like to know, really, how do we find more time and money to do that thing we want to do?
Money seems simple enough...spend less or go find another job that pays more. Or a second job or third.
I’d rather spend less, frankly. It feels easier. Which is why I’m choosing to downsize at this point in my life and get rid of half of my possessions.
I can’t help but notice that the more we spend, the more money we need to make and the more money we make, the more things we buy, and the more things we buy, well, the more space we need. Of course, many of us have attics, basements, garages, and walk-in closets for storing our extra stuff...Some of us choose to upgrade to bigger houses and if that’s not enough we can pretty easily rent storage units to make room for more. We can create or buy more space. We can always make more money, if we really want to.
But we’re pretty locked in when it comes to time. Because any way you look at it...we’ve got a solid 24 hours. A Hard Limit, you might say. (Sorry, couldn’t resist with the new movie out and all). I’ve felt the stress of time constraints like nobody’s business; my face pressed fully against the window of the proverbial 11th hour. Have you met me? I’m a recovering people pleaser, on-again off-again hot mess, say-yes-to-everything kind of gal who's developed a mad case of OCD.
Awhile back, my father had a serious ATV accident. He suffered injuries that caused him to be transferred to a trauma unit two hours from home, landing him in the ICU for several days, with my mother and me parked right beside him.
At that time in my life I had found myself involved with a number of community organizations, sitting on several boards of directors, the Vestry of our church, I was teaching a fitness class several times a week, serving as Room Mom, constantly taxiing the children, working part-time (part-time is my jam)...Doing everything, but doing nothing very well ...Have you seen Bad Moms?
But in those days, sitting with my father at the hospital; all the crazy simply came to an abrupt halt.
Time suddenly stood still for one of the most important people in my life. Looking back I thought it so odd that in the midst of this traumatic event, I was sleeping so well away from home, in a strange bed. Goddd, I was exhausted. I had been running the hamster wheel of my life so efficiently I hadn’t even noticed that I needed the break.
My mother and I rested when we could and sat with my dad for hours with nothing but time to consider. When will they be running the next test? When will he move out of ICU? How much longer? During those quiet hours I had learned a valuable lesson about my time. And that the ways in which I had been spending it in my regular life, were no longer serving me.
It was draining me.
Time went on, Dad got better, thankfully. (praying hands emoji). When things settled down, we went home, leaving my father behind to continue to heal and recover. I, almost immediately, crafted letters of resignation to the boards I was serving, I eventually stopped teaching Zumba and decided to step aside and let the other moms handle the school parties. I needed to just stop. Breathe. Enjoy my kids. Just be.
Holding that space, the available time that now presents when you’ve freed yourself from the bonds of obligation to everyone else... It’s tricky. After a few weeks the honeymoon wears off, you feel like the vacation is over and boredom creeps in, too much television watching and mindless munching, and you might succumb to despair and devastation upon the realization that you, without warning, have just run out of “next episodes” while binge-watching all seasons of Shameless ; that Lip and Fiona are not your friends.
And by you, I mean me.
More recently, I’ve had the fortuitous opportunity to stop working outside the home. I took 7 months off and decided to be very intentional about not slipping away to Never Never Land. I kept my days open and held the space in a way that something new could come into my life. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I needed clarity...I made way for new ideas to emerge, I set aside time to be still, to reconnect with my spirituality. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There were MANY days when I felt incredibly bored, restless….irritable. I wasn’t used to the slow pace and the days seemed
so. painfully. long. But I was determined to wait it out.
In hindsight, I recall shouting to the Universe to get on with it and show me what I’m meant to do next in the world!! I thought I would one day be walking around and all of a sudden be thunderstruck with this big lightbulb moment. It never really came.
Not like that, anyway. It sort of came gradually, in small bites...little snippets of inspiration drawn out over time. I had made room for creativity. And out of that space , quite certainly, albeit sooooo subtly that I barely noticed, came new thoughts and creative ideas….the ones you can now physically see throughout this website, through the blog, through our facebook page and our workshops. Had I not held the space for creativity, you most certainly would not be reading this post right now; I would have never had the time.
Don’t get me wrong….I’m not suggesting you go on and leave your job! Well, unless it serves you to do so then YES! Leave your job!!
More realistically, maybe you could adjust your sleep schedule; get to bed an hour early, rise an hour early, and hold that space of time in a more intentional way. Maybe you could work in a solo run or walk at the end of the day. Studies have shown that people think bigger, more creatively, in big open spaces, than they do indoors.
And I think it’s safe to say many of us could probably eliminate something in our lives that’s consuming our time in a mediocre way. You might take inventory of where your time is being spent. Ask yourself what’s draining you, what’s taking you away from being able to move forward with something new, what are you ready to unload or to unburden yourself from?
And as for those obligations outside the home, trust me when I say this: The Booster Club, the PTO, and all those community organizations will move on just fine without you. Really. Please don't wait for "someday"....when the kids are gone, when your parents are settled, when social security kicks in to explore your dreams...someday is NOW! And as we have come to know, we are not promised tomorrow.
I'm going to change things up this week...I'm not going to talk about food (what?!?! I know crazy, right?!). You all know I'm a big holistic health advocate so that means focusing on every aspect of health in the entire body...the body as a whole. So, if you'd like to hear about the healing of my spirit read on....
I had always been fearful of the word God. As a child, the God I learned about was vengeful, judgmental, a magician. I was told stories of a God that sent a vengeful storm for the sins of humanity, a god who judges based on the choices made in life, a god who magically creates. I didn't want to believe in that God. I would ask myself "why would a God punish people?" "Why would a God 'test' me?" "How could a God create something out of nothing?" This was heavy in my heart for a long time. As my world grew bigger, so did my understanding of God. I searched through religions trying to find something that would explain God more clearly to me. I learned that God is many things to many different people. Each of us has to find our own meaning and understanding.
I've found my own path and my own God. It's hard to express the ideas that we have of our own God in a world filled with dogmatic religious philosophy. Buddha has said, "Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; not upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in scripture. But when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them." That Buddha was a smart guy! He told us to believe what we feel is right and what we have experienced for ourselves and not follow along with things we've been told or rumors we've heard.
I am putting it into the Universe that your God may be different than my God and that's OK! I am finally finding peace in my God. I am no longer questioning my virtue in seeking my God. I have my own path for whatever reasons that the Universe has chosen. Whatever those reasons may be, I would like to share with you. My hope is that this reaches someone who is also searching for their path and they can find some solace in my thoughts.
My God doesn't punish.
My God doesn't judge.
My God is love.
My God is light.
My God is compassion.
My God is kindness.
My God has no face, no form.
My God doesn't create because my God shares the energy, essence, spirit in which all things are brought into the universe.
Imagine God as an ocean and all things as waves. Waves are not separate from the ocean. They are the ocean. As a part of the ocean, waves are a transfer of the ocean's energy. As a part of God, we are a transfer of God's energy. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed; therefore, I am God, You are God, trees are God, animals are God...
I love myself, animals, you, trees and everything because I love my God and my God is all things. Since all things are my God and I am my God, then, I am you and you are me. This fundamental level is where we learn that we are all connected and what we do affects everything in the world. Wow, think about how powerful you are and I am!! Let us use our powers for good...Loving others means loving yourself. Having compassion for others means having compassion for God and all other things. As your essence flows through the Universe be sure it is filled with everything that you would want in return like love, compassion, kindness, joy because remember, we are all the same energy!!
At an earlier time in my life, I never would have had the courage to share these words. These words have come to me after meditation. Only through my experience could I believe that such a thing could be so powerful!! Through my practice, I have found so much peace, joy and abundance.
The power of meditation lies in its creation of mindfulness...living in the now. When we live in each moment there is no time for worry, guilt, regret, fear....I'm not telling you I no longer feel/think these things because I do! We all do!! Our minds are computers that never power off, but we CAN have power over our thoughts. As Douglas Adams says, "So much of our suffering happens between our own ears." How powerful is that statement?! Our worst critic is in our mind, our demise creator is our brain. We need to learn to take control of our thoughts. This is where meditation comes in; it is a PRACTICE of having power over our thoughts. That power comes in the form of mindfulness. In their innumerable forms, mindfulness and meditation can look like many things! I encourage you to find your THING! In all their forms, it allows you to find that silent space between your thoughts where peace, light, and joy reside.
Each morning, I dedicate 10-30 minutes to a silent, seated meditation practice, but another important part of my practice is getting outside...being a part of nature. When I am immersed in the silence of the forests and mountains, I find myself clearing my mind without thought of doing it. I find peace and joy. I've taken to photography during my nature adventures and this has helped me stay mindful, as I put all of my energy into focusing on the beauty around me. It is so easy to get lost in the miniscule details of the mountains and forests.
I encourage you to give meditation a try. It doesn't have to look like anything in particular! Take 5 minutes to focus on your breath, to stare at a beautiful flower, to watch your child smile and laugh, but be completely, 100% in that moment. Immerse all of your energy and spirit into that moment. FEEL that MOMENT. All we have is this moment!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Some times we just can't slow down. Some days are just filled down to the minutes. When you have to have everything planned so tightly that you schedule in bathroom breaks.. (sure that sounds funny... but really!) I'm sure you all have been there!
I have previously blogged about slowing down, and taking time for your self. I totally feel that those things are necessary, but there are also those days when that just can't be achieved. They aren't that frequent for me, but it still happens against my will sometimes.
Like say.. Thursdays.. worst day of the week for me. I could tell you all about my jam packed schedule, but I'll spare you the pain! So getting to the point. What do you do when life is fast. How do you deal with the days that you don't stop until your hitting the sheets? How do you still find joy amidst the chaos?
I'm hoping to help you out with that!
Get a planner and make a plan. Write it down. I seriously write everything down on days that I know have to stay tightly scheduled. I got this planner from Michael's craft store in the fall and it's my life line some days. It's called the Happy Planner and it's really detailed so I can keep track of what's going on with my kids, my personal life, and the business. I also use a white board for the whole house in our kitchen. I write everything down for the kids and Josh so they know what to be expecting for the day. It helps keep everyone aware of what the day is bringing. I also add chores, grocery lists, and weekly to-do's on it. It's an easy way to keep a good flow in the house.
Start your morning off slow! Whatever that may be for you. I've told you all mine is coffee.. (black now! If you've read my previous blog) and some quiet time to reflect while I'm packing lunches. Whatever it is.. GET YOURSELF OUT OF BED! Just throw the sheets back and ease into your day. Nothing is harder than starting an already busy day off rushing around because you wanted an extra few minutes of sleep.
Add in some "ME" time. Even if it's only 10 minutes. Step back from your day and find some time to relax. Put on your favorite tunes while your riding down the road. Even if it's just driving to your next "to-do". Get outside. Get some fresh air. Do what makes you happy. In the little amount of time that you have. Schedule it in. It's worth it, I promise!
Make your meals ahead! Plant based eating can be tricky if you aren't prepared. It takes dedication and some will power to stay at your best all day. Days when I know I won't have time to make anything, I am usually leaving the house with a shopping bag of food. Water bottles, a smoothie, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's the only way I know how to make it work. It does take some time the night before but it pays off when your stomach is growling and you don't have to think about what to eat. Here is a n example of what I would pack for the whole day.
In my bag would go:
2 large water bottles
A mason jar smoothie (greens, banana, berries, flax)
A mason jar of over night oats
A salad for lunch with some sort of vinaigrette.
A peice of fruit
Dinner ( last time I had to pack like this it was quinoa sweet potato chili)
Then you are all set for the day and eating is one less thing you have to worry about.
I really hope that you don't have many days like this. Some times with the life I have chosen for myself I have no other choice than to be overloaded for the day. I don't love these days and I don't always make it work this smoothly. I wish there was a magic button that slowed down time. I know some people thrive this way ( God bless them), I am just not that person. I have spent too many days and too much time stressed out because I wasn't staying organized on my busy days. I hope this is a reminder of some ways to simplify.
Plus here is the yummy recipe for the chili. P.S.. this was my husbands first plant based dinner that he made himself! WIN!!
SWEET POTATO & QUINOA CHILI
SWEET POTATO & QUINOA CHILI
Serve with optional garnishes.
As with all recipes, adjust seasoning to taste. Add a 1/2 teaspoon or so chipotle powder for some added heat. Also, use whatever beans you prefer. You may even like to use one kind of bean instead of two.
Easy and delicious…Enjoy! Adapted from recipe at Milk Free Mom
When was the last time you felt inspired? The last time your creativity has kept you up long past your bedtime or woke you in the middle of the night with an adrenaline rush? A surge of inspiration preoccupying your thoughts leaving you incapable of thinking of anything else. Be careful not to mistake this for worry. We’ve all experienced worry in much the same way. I’m talking about a profound creative energetic flow that brings the sheer positive buzz of exhilaration.
Sometimes life can feel like we are on autopilot. Where everyday we seem to wake up as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and begin again in much the same way we did yesterday. We sort of sleepwalk through life, day after day, dragging ourselves to the coffee pot, trudging to the shower, putting dinner in the slowcooker, driving to that God-forsaken job, working with and for people we don’t enjoy; we come home, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. Pretty soon years have gone by, a decade even, and we are that much more set in our “routine”, we like to call it.
We think about how we shoulda, coulda, woulda done things differently. We remember when we were growing up and had all these PLANS. And then life happened and maybe now it seems as though this is the way life will always be.
Maybe you realize you still have a few ideas, things you’d like to create, invent, do or try...in fact you’ve spent the last hour fantasizing about it, talking about it with your friend or spouse, how it might not be too late! Maybe if you could save enough money or if you had the extra time?
With this last bit, an uncomfortable feeling starts to seep in...this familiar energy that causes you to stop in your tracks, reminds you that you are a fool...Where exactly do you think you’re going to find the extra money or time? Who do you think you are? What could you possibly offer the world? Do you really think you’re good enough? After all, you’ve been snoozing through life all this time…
It’s our good old friend, Fear.
Several years ago I paid, what I would consider, an exorbitant amount of money to meet Oprah Winfrey in person and to attend The Life You Want Weekend conference she was hosting in Miami. And by "meet", I mean, she glanced past me, noticed the unending line formed behind, muttered an audible “Oh dear Jesus...”, we hugged, snapped a picture and it was over. Very anticlimactic.
But, it was truly an unforgettable and incredibly special two-day experience that I shared with a dear friend from college. I will cherish it, always.
Oprah had a panel of renowned guest speakers to round out the weekend including Iyanla Vanzant, Pastor Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert and Deepak Chopra. Thee Deepak Chopra. So it probably goes without saying it was an Ah-mazing, life-changing, earth-quaking,
sh*t-your-pants kind of a time.
Looking back, I would say there was one take-away that lives at the forefront of my daily thoughts. And it wasn’t the picture I took with Oprah’s arm around me. It didn’t even come from Oprah….or Deepak. It wasn’t even part of the workshop, really. It was something Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” said outside at an impromptu sidebar Q & A during one of the breaks.
When asked how she handles fear when stepping into something new or working on a creative project, Liz (I call her Liz) said that fear lives in all of us. It’s the same for all of us. It’s the oldest part of our brain; and it’s very useful, or else we’d run out into traffic or marry the wrong person.
But we don’t need fear for our creativity, curiosity or our passion because all fear is going to do is stand in the middle of the road and say “Don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it, because, it’s going to end with the saber tooth tiger eating me; I know it is, because anything I don’t understand must end in death.”
She went on to say that when we were born we all downloaded the same “fear software”, and for that very reason, it is the most boring thing about us. We don’t usually associate that word, “boring”, with fear; the sensation of fear is so heightened and electric. But fear is boring because it only knows how to say one word to you; and that is STOP.
And the reason it says that is because it doesn’t understand anything except “All emotion is scary.” and “All emotion is going to put me in the scenario where I don’t know what the ending is and, therefore, JUST STOP….Just to be safe, just don’t.”
Liz said she simply makes a huge amount of space for the reality of fear.
So I just talk to it and say ‘Fear, my old friend, thank you for all you’ve done to keep me alive, but me and my passion and my creativity and my curiosity are about to go on a new journey. And I know you’re going to come with us because... you always do. And I know that you’re going to sit in the back of the minivan and scream and cry and tell me that we are all going to die. And I know that for some reason that’s your job, and you’re great at it.
Every week I panic at the thought of what to write on this blog. It’s that deer-in-the-headlights feeling...a paralysis, kind of. I’ve wanted to start a blog for years, to take my journaling practice to a different platform. To create something meaningful and beautiful. But this is way different from journaling because there is an audience...the reader.
But what if there isn’t? What if I were to pour my heart and soul into my writing and no one is there? It’s just...crickets.
What if I’m not that interesting? What if my stories are ...well, everyone’s stories?
What if I’m just not that good?
But week after week, truly, day after day, I manage to write something. It’s intentional. I get up at 5am and I write for me. I mean, it’s my hope that what I put out there lands on someone in a way that’s valuable and inspiring, but I just write for the sake of writing. As my friend and life coach, Annie, encouraged me to, “Just do it badly”. So what?
So this blog and also, a new workshop series I’m creating with Lindsey and Cristy... it’s keeping me up at night, this creative force. It calls me to the laptop in the wee hours of the morning, while everyone is asleep, to write, create posts and content, to step into the space I can’t quite see in front of me. It’s such a rush. And Fear sits right behind me with it’s warnings, whimpering and whining for me to just...DON’T. I calm and pat Fear’s back. And I keep going.
Have you snuffed out a dream? To be an entrepreneur, a painter, or an author? To become a runner, a blogger, a chef...to do something different? Creativity can take MANY forms.
It’s my belief that we are ALL creators and that’s why we are here on this planet.
To Create. It’s the calling of the soul. And when you answer the call, it breathes life back into you, it makes you feel young again, drunk even.
So I’ll leave you with the overarching message that comes from my time at The Life You Want Weekend conference; To imagine and hold the highest vision for yourself and let every step you take be in the direction of that, with creativity, passion and curiosity leading the way.
"But chicken is healthy, right?” Is that a rhetorical question??...it's the look I get. It scares me a little. I feel I need to take a few steps back (out of reach) before I answer. People REALLY love their chicken!! We were that family! “What's for dinner?” Chicken. My husband LOVED chicken. We raised chickens! Ok, not to eat; I couldn't do that!! I loved those little ladies! But we ate A LOT of the waste from their menstrual cycles...or more commonly called eggs.
So what's the problem, you ask? Let's start with cholesterol...raise your hand if you think red meat has more cholesterol than chicken. Is your hand up? You know I can't see you, right? Chicken and red meat are comparable in the amount of cholesterol they contain. Did you read my blog post about protein? That's where we learned that cholesterol is made in the liver and all things that have a liver produce cholesterol. If you are eating things that have a liver, you are eating cholesterol. We make cholesterol in our liver, too; therefore, we do not need ANY from our diets.
P.S. One egg has 187mg of cholesterol!! And I know you know, but cholesterol is linked to clogged arteries and heart disease!
What else? Chickens are full of GROSSNESS! A recent study showed that almost half of the chickens in grocery stores are contaminated by E coli, which researchers say is an indicator of fecal contamination. E coli comes from colons either from a human colon, or more likely chicken colon(s). In other words, there is poop in your chicken meat! There are 250,000 cases of E coli infections reported every year in the United States (and countless unreported). What else is in the chicken? Salmonella is in 16% of grocery store chickens. Salmonella is responsible for an estimated 1,027,561 illnesses, 19,336 hospitalizations, and 378 deaths per year in the United States. Annnndddd….63% of store bought chickens contain Campylobacter bacteria which causes 845,024 illnesses, 8,463 hospitalizations, and 76 deaths every year.
I know what you are going to tell me...you clean the chicken right? Have you asked yourself why studies have shown that there is more fecal bacteria in your kitchen sink than your bathroom? Let me whisper in your ear: It's From Your MEAT. A study was published as “The Effectiveness of Hygiene Procedures for Prevention of Cross-Contamination from Chicken Carcasses in the Domestic Kitchen” (uh, what?)...anyway, these researchers visited 60 homes putting them to the test:
Was that enough for you? No? Ok, how about some of these statistics:
Have you changed your mind about chicken, yet? Ok, if I can't appeal to your brain, can I appeal to your heart?
Chickens raised for their flesh are often packed by the thousands into massive sheds and fed large amounts of antibiotics and drugs to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them.
Many fowl are stuffed into unimaginablely small cages.
Only seven weeks after they’re born, chickens are crowded onto trucks that transport them to the slaughterhouse. Every year, tens of millions of chickens have their wings and legs broken in the process. They are trucked through all weather extremes, sometimes over hundreds of miles, without any food or water. At slaughter, chickens are hung upside down and have their throats slit, and they’re often scalded to death in defeathering tanks.
Millions of Chicks are ground up ALIVE the day after they are born
Well, there you have it. I hope I have answered your question and changed your mind about chicken.
Peace, Love, Plants,
It's my turn to blog! But i'm passing the torch this week. My husband so graciously offered to share some love today. So tune in and check it out!
Let's face it, we are all addicted to something. Whether it be simple things like making sure the cabinet doors are always closed, the toilet seat is always down, our cell phone screen, facebook, instagram, clothes folded a certain way, or the more popular things that get the label addiction like drugs and alcohol, we all have our addictionS. Yes addictionS with a capital S because let's be honest, we know we have more than one. There is a newer term labeled on top of addiction now and it's commonly known as “obsessive compulsive disorder” or OCD. Now I suppose that is the politically correct term for those who don't want the negative term of addict. But it's the same thing as addiction isn't it? The only difference is situation vs. substance. I mean, how do we act when something isn't the way we need it to be? Pretty much the same way someone addicted to substance abuse would right? There is this little irritable side to us that controls the way we need things to be and when they aren't life is out of whack! And then SNAP! Yes we have all been on that freight train before. No stopping it until it runs out of steam or gets derailed by a little humble pie.
So why are we all addicts? Why do we all possess such strong ties to needing things a certain way? The reason is there's something hard wired into us to be one. Except we often use our addictive power in wrong ways, either against others or against ourselves. We choose to be addicted to things that aren't life giving. We choose to struggle to gain control but the truth is we can only GIVE control. We allow situations, circumstances, feelings, or substances to be the driver of our thoughts and emotions. And it's because we feel like we NEED it. But that's the truth. We DO need it. But we need it in the right way. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. We all have the need to have control but it's not that we are in control at all right? Who can add but a single hour to their life? See what I mean. These things have there way with us. But life's not about being controlled or being in control. It's about just BEING...out of control altogether. This is what it means to be free. So how do we do that exactly? Take the power back like Rage Against the Machine! (Sorry, not the best analogy, but had to go there). Realize life is one big experience. Surrendering to the experience of life is when we are set free from control. When we fight for control we cause our own suffering and other's suffering. We get what we ask for! So let's take a moment and ask ourselves, when was the last time I felt truly ALIVE? Well, it was the last time you were out of control!
If we think back there are moments in our lives burned into your subconscious where we felt SO alive. Moments of happiness or big events which had our full attention. A lot of times it's from when we were young because that's when we were REALLY alive. The world was so big because we were so new, so small. We were too busy experiencing, not getting hung up on things. Yeah we had our temper tantrums but give us some discipline or a lollipop and we were skipping onto the next thing! Oh to be a kid again right? All that energy and liveliness. Well let me tell you a little secret. That little kid is still alive in you! And it's calling you to give up control altogether and be free from the bondage of adulthood! When is that last time you just laughed and played like a kid and let go of the time? When is that last time you got so super excited you got butterflies? If you have recently, congratulations! You are on the right path!
As an adult I'm sure there are times you have experienced pure bliss as well. When we are so submerged into our surroundings that there isn't anything else that exists except the present moment. There isn't any other time than right now. The present moment is eternal. Go ahead back and read that again. Guess what...that was the first time at that moment you ever read that. Do it again. Guess what....that was the first time at that moment you ever read that! That's right! Every breath you take is a NEW breath you've never taken before. You have the opportunity for total freedom at every moment of every day! This is what being alive is about! Not living in the past or the future. Get out of your head and live the life that's all around you. This is what you were experiencing as a child though you didn't even know it. Be invested in the eternal moment. Let it be attracted to you. We can't be struggling for control any longer to be truly alive.
This is where we are going to find LIFE. The here and now. The little child which remains in us lives in the moment. Let it come out to play! Allow curiosity and inquiry to guide us. Ask the big WHY question over and over and over! Laugh at yourself. Live like there aren't any limits. Life is huge and every step is a new beginning, an opportunity to grow because life is ever expanding and ever growing. Be too busy experiencing it. Things like smelling the roses, soaking in the surroundings, listening to the little things, feeling creation, tasting the delicious foods presented to you. And then say “Mmmmm life is good”! Every moment is compounding from another. An infinite process.
So let's face it. We aren't going to get away from addiction or control, but we can point the power of it in the right direction by letting go of it. We are all living beings. There is a bigger picture here in life. We need to be giving our addictionS to what's good. Or now, we've learned we can say we need to receive what's good being addicted to us since we are out of control! What are the passions, pursuits, and desires in your being which give life to humanity? The best life living is a life of giving. So give up control. It's a daily, moment by moment process. There are seeds planted in us which produce good fruit. The fact is we didn't put them there. Good put them there. Experience put them there. This fruit is food for others. Don't let the weeds take control of your garden. Be still and quiet while spending time cultivating the land within you. Pull the weeds. Let go of who you think you are, and be who you truly are. A child living and loving life.
Let's be at peace with ourselves. Forgiving of the times where we rush and the times we let the day go by unintentionally. Let's be thankful and grateful for every moment. Let's allow our inner child to run free, out of control, even when times feel trialing. Any challenge is rain on your seeds, and another time for growth. So let's challenge each other. Let's grow together. Let's be ONE, always out of control.
Sit back and enjoy the ride,
Recommended reading: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, also available as an audio book on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ2IuJDdK3I
So where were we?
Last week I was bringing you up to speed on my progress of minimizing my belongings. But, I must share something I simply could not overlook. I realized I needed to take a look at our expenses, or where our money has been going.
At least, it seems to me I will not be successful in reaching my goal of getting rid of half our belongings (and keeping it that way) without examining our level of consumerism.
And I’m going to take a healthy measure of responsibility here because, while my husband handles our bigger picture finances, I’ve always managed our day-to-day budget and done most of the shopping.
Overtime, we’ve taken our hard-earned money (I haven't really earned that much but...)and bought all this stuff that I’m discarding. That hurts a little. A lot, actually. To tell the truth it makes me feel a bit sick when you look at what is by the door ready to go.
So, in order to not repeat the cycle of mindless spending and retail therapy, I’ve got to get real here.
One spending category of significance is the number of subscriptions we’ve signed up for over the years. To date, we have been subscribers to the following services:
SiriusXM Radio, Rhapsody, Audible, Sam’s Club, TruGreen, Terminix, AOL, our local cable t.v. provider, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime/Amazon, Meaningful Beauty and Dollar Shave Club.
Having easily nixed 5 of these services right away, I take another look and notice we are subscribing to 5 different services that require us to be sitting in front of a television.
I don’t know about you, but most of my mindless eating happens in front of the television...or any type of screen for that matter. I love grabbing a package of Twizzlers to snack on at the movies or some chips and salsa while indulging in some juicy bit of Vanderpump Rules, Masterpiece Theatre or Keeping Up With the Kardashians
(sorry not sorry).
Three years ago, we hosted an exchange student from Germany. A sweet natured girl, polite, quiet, just how I like all visiting teenagers to be in my house. A few days after her arrival, the girls were settling down after school in front of the t.v., their regular decompression practice, and I heard one of my daughters offer, we’ll call her Edda (in case she’s tuning in), a snack.
Out of the mouth of this normally subdued, carefully measured girl came this barely contained exclamation, “You Americans are ALWAYS EATING!”
I was like... b*tch what?
After careful consideration and some peanut butter crackers, I’d come to the conclusion that, for our family, I think this gross generalization might be true. The t.v. is always on and someone is usually eating in front of it.
This isn't a new habit or anything. But is it cultural?
I remember, having been a stay-at-home mom for many years, sitting my little girls down in front of back-to-back episodes of Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer with their little sippy cup and bowl of Cheezits. They loved it. And I really needed them to, cuz honey, momma needed a break. (we were living in the south then and we all got accents.) And I wasn't the only one...all my girlfriends set it up this way. It's the only way we ever got anything done!
So. Let’s bring this back around. Because I’m making a pretty useful connection here with two things I’m working on:
mindless eating and minimalism...M&M's
Which brings up the subject of a book I’m currently reading, for the second time, called Mindless Eating, no surprise there, by Brian Wansink, PH.D. Wansink is the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and has conducted numerous food studies, finding that no matter how many strategies we put in place to eat less, we are sabotaged by endless and constant cueing from our environment, encouraging us to eat more, often without realizing it.
In his book Wansink writes a chapter called “The Hidden Persuaders Around Us”, where he discusses the curse of the warehouse club. Most of these are familiar to us: Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Costco, where for around $40 you can buy a membership and shop exclusively in their store.
He says after doing so, “The natural inclination is to run through the store like Julie Andrews running through the fields in The Sound of Music, buying enough stuff so you can recoup the price of the membership. If you can save $5 by buying the 48-pack of flavored water, all you have to do is load 7 of these 48-packs on the pushcart flatbed to break even on the membership deal.”
So while the first curse is to overspend, even on things we don’t need, the second curse happens after the purchase when we’ve schlepped it all home and stored it in every available crevice in the house from the garage to the basement...to the windooows to the wall....
So. You know bulk foods come in either these massive single open containers or in these huge multi-pack bundles. Wansink says we are munching down these large containers for around the first 7 days, then we start slowing down because we’ve grown tired of the food, causing them to become “cabinet castaways”, being pushed to the back and eventually thrown out to make space. So that $5 we saved at the time of purchase isn’t really much of a savings at all if we’ve thrown part of it away in the end.
In the book, he suggests taking a look at these oversized multi-packs, such as the 48 count package of instant oatmeal. Wansink says that having a 48 package of anything negatively affects us in two ways. The first is what he calls “the salience principle”.
“These 48 packages tend to get in the way. You seem to see them everywhere, they fall out of the cupboard when you open it, they pile up on the counter, and they hide other foods. As a result of their salience, you end up eating them much more frequently than you normally would, particularly if the food is convenient to eat. They are there...every time you want a snack.”
The second problem that comes from having bulk quantities of food around relates to the idea of “norms”. Suppose you “normally” have 2-3 boxes of cereal in your pantry at a time. Wansink says, “If you find yourself with only one box, it’s a signal you need to buy more. But if one day you find yourself with 12 boxes, you will tend to eat them up so the right number will be in your cupboard, and so you’ll have room for other foods.”
In his book, Wansink suggests a few tricks to warehouse club members, such as repackaging the big single open containers into smaller containers, hiding the extras in storage spaces, such as your garage or extra freezer, and resealing big packages with tape which makes them less convenient to open on impulse.
But for me, I’m really resonating with these scientific studies, they satisfy what I already know intuitively...that, personally, Sam’s Club isn’t saving me anything.
There are two things I hate running out of: coffee K-cups and razors (there are 4 females living in this house). These are the only reasons I signed up for membership to begin with. And with the nearest club being 1 hour and 40 minutes away, not only has it caused me to overspend and overeat, it has COST me valuable time. Good-by Sam’s Club.
Good-bye cable television. Good-bye Ladies of London, Real Housewives of Orange County, Matt and Savannah...and I’ll probably be the last to know who ends up sitting next to Kelly Rippa in the mornings.
I feel lighter already...
I don't offer up the “I don't eat animal-anything” nugget unless asked. The way you eat is your business and the way I eat is mine. With that being said, I LOVE talking about the plant based lifestyle so don't be afraid to ask;) However, once revealed that I don't feast on anything that comes from an animal, I get a lot of questions. The very first one I almost always get is “Where do you get your protein?”. I addressed that question in the last post. Now, I'm going to jump on another common one: “Do you eat bread?”. I think this one stems from the low-carb and gluten-free crazes. Short answer: yes, I eat bread. The end. Thanks for reading.
Just kidding. You didn't think I would leave you without giving you all the good science-y stuff, did you? First, let's start by addressing the low-carb craze. It can be a little complicated, but here is the simplified form: Carbohydrates are what our bodies use for energy, including brain function. Carbohydrates are necessary for proper bodily function. As we eat carbohydrate rich foods our body converts them to glucose and moves them to our cells with the help of insulin. Excess is stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells or stored as fat. Still with me? So, we need carbohydrates. Why, then, do so many people lose weight when eating low carb? When our bodies do not have carbohydrates either from the food we are eating or from our storage (we only have about 24 hours worth in our liver and muscles) it pulls energy from the fat, i.e. burns fat, which means we lose weight. Hmmm that sounds good, right? Not so fast...eating low carb can be helpful if done right; however, it is mostly done wrong. Most people participating in a low carb diet eat a lot of protein (we already discussed how this can be bad) and a lot of fat, also bad. We could all benefit from cutting out carbohydrate rich foods like white bread and pasta, processed foods, sugary drinks, cereals, etc. But we should all be eating more of these carbohydrate rich foods: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). When we cut out carbs, we cut out fiber. Fiber is the #1 thing all Americans need more of!! Fiber-deficiency is the #1 cause of inflammation in the body and inflammation is a major cause of disease! In addition, there is evidence that a low-carb diet (one high in protein and fat) impairs arterial function, which means clogging our arteries leading to heart disease.
Let's now address this gluten-free demon. I eliminated gluten from my diet for about 6 months (crazy hard) just to see the effects. There weren't any. I did not lose any weight. I mostly felt the same before and after; I had a little easier time in the bathroom after eating gluten again (sorry for the TMI). Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine where the sufferer has to completely avoid gluten. There is also a condition known as gluten intolerance or sensitivity where the individual also avoids gluten. With the gluten-free industry reaching billions of dollars, millions of people are drawn to these products as they are being marketed as a health food. The fact is there is no evidence that avoiding gluten is beneficial to your health for anyone other than those with a diagnosed intolerance, sensitivity, or celiac disease. In fact, you could be doing your body harm by avoiding gluten. Eliminating gluten from your diet means removing a very important food group, whole grains. Whole grains have been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. From nutritionfacts.org “Gluten, itself, may also boost immune function. After less than a week on added gluten protein, subjects experienced significantly increased natural killer cell activity, which could be expected to improve our body’s ability to fight cancer and viral infections. Another study found that high gluten bread improved triglyceride levels better than regular gluten bread.” Not only does the research indicate that going gluten-free doesn’t fix the gut or cool inflammation, but that it alters your gut flora and allows bad bacteria to grow in your gut. We need gluten to maintain the community of good bacteria in our guts.
To sum it up...yes, I eat bread and pasta and carbs. It is rare that I eat white, processed bread...it might be a crunchy french bread with pasta or if we are eating out I might have a veggie sub or something of that kind. I eat lots of good carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and pasta, oats, etc. Again, stop worrying about calories, carbs, protein and think about filling your plate with A LOT of plant food!!
Peace, Love, Plants
So.. these past few weeks have been crazy. How about you guys? Sometimes it takes a whirlwind to make you sit back and reflect on your life. What is my plan for today? Will I be able to stick to my schedule? Is it worth making a schedule, or am I setting myself up for failure? Am I loving myself? How are my kids? Have I taken time to notice? Is my husband taken care of? Does he need me? What do I have left to offer?
With all these questions spinning through my head I have decided to make an action plan. I have decided to take action on my life. To notice more, to live with more intention. To really seek out my needs , and those of my family. It's so easy to let my days blur together and before I know it the week is over and I haven't reflected on a single day.
I don't know if this will be a forever plan, but it is going to be a right now plan! Trying to be more intentional with my days.
Our intention creates our reality !
1. Sticking to a schedule!
This is so hard for me. It is so easy for me to deviate from my daily schedule. I am the type of person to do things on a whim.. call me up. I will drop what I'm doing to chat or stop over for coffee. Which seems like a great quality, but in reality it takes time away from my schedule. (I realize this sounds selfish.. it's not permanent, but it's got to be for now) Then things don't get done. Dinner doesn't get made and my kids are eating cereal at 8:00 because I strayed from the plan. I sat with my son last week and laid out a schedule for him for this week. He has been feeling overwhelmed by not having a schedule, and not knowing what he (or our family) is doing from day to day. I never realized how much our hectic schedule (or lack there of) was putting a strain on the whole family. SO..trying to figure out what to do... I planned out our week! Leaving some free time. Leaving time for reading and creativity. Or whatever little "project" my husband has going on. I can honestly say. So far so good. Starting the week out organized and "scheduled" has made for a much calmer week.
2. Getting up early
The struggle is real.. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON! Not even a little bit. I despise my alarm. I love my bed. It's cold putting my feet on the floor! But... I NEED TIME! So it's what I've decided is best for me right now. I am banking on it being easier when its light out. As much as I don't like getting out of bed.. it's so quiet when everyone else is sleeping. Like pin drop quiet. I am finding time to just sit. I don't do that well. I have a really hard time taking even 10 minutes to myself because i can't shut my brain down. It's always moving onto the next thing that needs done. I think having a more than full time job and being a mom it's just hard to slow down. Can anyone relate...?? So right now I'm trying to be still and enjoy the silence in the morning. I'm slow at enjoying it. I thought I would love having this time to myself, but I'm a people person. I love having my family around me. It's hard for me to just be. It's hard not to get out of bed and start folding laundry, or checking facebook, or whatever else I have on my mind. But I'm gonna keep at it. Hopefully someday soon when the weather breaks, I can sit on my porch and listen to the birds. (wow.. that sounds great!)
If you have been following us on here, then you'll know Jeanmare is writing about her journey towards minimalism. I think it's awesome. She is on a mission to reduce her belonging by half. She gifted us the book for Christmas that she had read to start her minimalism journey. I had it read in 3 days! It was a great easy read. I have never had an attachment with the material things in my house. So looking in on the outside most would say I'm pretty minimal. With keeping in my weekly schedule though I am working on taking care of mail/school papers/bills ect. as they are coming in. I have always has a nice pile of papers on our computer desk waiting (usually way too long) to be taken care of. So I'm staying on top of them. Sorting each piece of paper as it comes in. Putting everything in it's place. I feel like not dealing with these papers is just a reason to put things on the back burner. Which isn't helping me live each day with intention.
Now, I know this looks different for everyone. For myself I am talking about my phone. I have numerously caught myself totally engaged in checking what is new of facebook or instagram and have completely missed what someone has said to me. I am that person. Ugh.. I can't believe I'm saying it. It is hard for me to not be invested in what my phone has to offer me .. any minute of the day. I say.. "I'm not like that.. " but if I were to step back and look at myself, I am. I can't tell you how many times I've asked my husband to repeat himself, or told me kids.. not right now. We can do that later. Why.. because i'm consumed with someone elses life on facebook? And you know.. it's a slippery slope. You get on just to check one thing.. then you're on your cousins, best friends, boyfriends page. Holy crap.. how does that happen!? So for now, I have given myself 30 minutes each day to check my phone. It's all I need. Now, don't get me wrong. If I get a call or someone needs me through text, I will answer. But being mindless on my phone is not something I want to be doing anymore. I have been able to connect with my family more this week too. Reading together, really talking to my daughter. Engaging in deep conversations with my husband. (He also put himself on the 30 min. limit) So, to all of you that don't get consumed by social media, or apps, or games.. I give you props and a big pat on the back!
Taking time for myself.. we already talked about how hard that is for me. But, it's got to be done. Being the best me I can be. Most days I don't get there. I don't usually get make-up on. I don't take time to (honestly) shower everyday. I don't buy myself clothes, I don't paint my nails. I don't do my hair. It's apparent, because once in a blue moon when I do, someone always notices or comments on how nice I look.. I should take the hint right!? I always kind of thought those things were frilly. Not necessary. Well except the showering part. :) I do always feel better about myself on days when I put myself together though. I feel a sense of confidence that I don't have on days where my hair is thrown up and I'm in frumpy clothes. So in my new life plan I have included self care. Taking time get my make-up on, put my contacts in, and get dressed and face the world.
There are still a LOT of areas in my life that need work. Like for example.. exercise. I'm not a huge fan! I'm hoping those will come. I just wanted to share the few areas that I'm working on. It's work. It's not always easy to stay committed to what you have planned for yourself. I wrote my achievable 2017 list in January. I look back at it every week. I have already crossed 4 things off. Mostly because I'm trying to stay intentional with my days. Sticking to a plan. Staying focused and living in the now. Living each day to it's fullest. I hope you are too!
Much love, Lindsey
It’s been just a little over a month now since I announced I am eliminating half my belongings in 2017. I’ve set this plan in motion to finish within a 6 month time frame. I can already say this is having a profound effect on me. Not only in wonderful ways, but in sort of painful ways.
I wasn’t sure exactly where or how to begin. I made a list of rooms, spaces and closets, then assigned each to a weekend from January through June, accounting for blocks of time when I will be out of town. I gave closets their own day because purging closets seem to require their own status; plus, when I consider cleaning out the master bedroom, for example, it feels easier when I don’t have to consider the closet.
Next, I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, also known as the Konmari Method. I read this book in two days, discovering that Kondo has the unique system of decluttering by categories rather than by location.
She says cleaning out by location is actually a fatal mistake, arguing, for example, when we go to purge our closet, we’re not taking all our garments into account because we have the same type of items stored in various places in our home (e.g., the coat closet, summer storage, hanging on a line in your laundry room, accessory drawers, ect). She says we all have such excess and storing it in multiple places in the home hinders us from grasping the sheer volume of what we really have, therefore we are not dealing with it all at once, causing us to repeat the same work over and over again, locking us into the vicious cycle of purging, or as she refers to it...tidying.
Hmmm...this hits a nerve. As I’m purging my kitchen cupboards this morning, I realize I just did this 6 months ago.
To ensure we tidy once and for all, she recommends first imagining your ideal lifestyle, allowing every step you take after to be in the direction of your vision. The process is pretty straight forward, starting with the easiest categories (clothing) and progressing to the more challenging.
Kondo’s approach suggests pulling all items from each category out of their containers and onto the floor in one communal spot, holding each item and keeping only those that “spark joy”, setting aside the rest for giving away, selling, recycling or discarding. So, in essence, we are deciding what to keep versus deciding what to get rid of.
As soon as I finished the book I got to work. I actually started with my Christmas decorations, a deviation from the system right off the bat. In my house, Christmas decorations had seemingly grown into its own category and with the timing of the season, it just made sense to start there.
I worked through my clothing in record time, and building some momentum, tackled the books and magazines. The books tugged at my heart a bit, many of them were purchased when I was going through a challenging time or struggle. At once, you could look at all my books and come to the conclusion the owner of the collection had been searching her entire life for something. I thanked them all (another aspect of the Konmari method) for encouraging and facilitating my growth and packed them up to discard.
Papers. Yeah... this is where I stalled out.
I’m actually preparing myself to re-read this chapter because I haven’t retained the information, really. When I think of my massive filing cabinet, binders of bank statements, report cards and school schedules, bill statements, manuals, receipts, legal documents... I start to feel woozy inside and the walls seems to close in. Ugg.
Bookmarking that category, I revisit my calendar and start going room by room. Now this feels easier because I’ve already tackled clothing and books, both of which showed up in many areas of my home, for whatever reason.
So far I’ve purged my dining room, sunroom, living room, den and am currently halfway through the kitchen, which I’m sailing through because ...er...I just did it 6 months ago.
Side bar. I keep bumping up against those sentimental items that threaten the success of what I’m trying to accomplish here. Some of them I’m placing in a pile to sort out last, as the Konmari method suggests. Scribbled notes of love or apology with backward letters and misspelled words our little girls have written...Ugh! I can’t bare the thought of parting with them! My great-grandmother’s antique teapot and sugar bowl, given to me by my mother when Tom and I were first married and hadn’t yet acquired those special items. They're beautiful, and I love them and have felt honored all these years she entrusted them to my care...and I do drink tea regularly, but I have never once used them.
With love, I return them to my mother, who does have this incredible apt and talent for using her various assortment of intricately patterned china and heirloom pieces regularly for her own pleasure or while entertaining guests.
So here’s what I’m noticing in these checked-off spaces of my home. There is a sense of peace and calm (zen?) when entering. Kind of like when you cross the threshold of your hotel room after checking in. Nothing out of place, horizontal spaces are clear of clutter, neutral… a sense of order and ease, I guess. Like the hotel room, my living room sort of beckons me to come in, put my feet up and relax, rather than cueing me to get to work.
I might have to fluff a pillow or refold a blanket, satisfying my OCD twinge; I still need to vacuum and dust from time to time, but generally I’m starting to experience the freedom that comes with having less...asking myself now what? As in, what should I do now...this afternoon? Which begs the question...what do I want to do now...this afternoon?
I’d like to take a nap, that’s what.
My dining room and living room have been purged. I plan to sell my dining room furniture, piano and will have the television hauled away soon!
I kept 1/8 of my book collection
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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