Damn, the Bottle is Almost Gone.

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Last night I walked over to the counter where the bottle of wine I had opened up earlier sat. I looked at it closely, then closely again, my eyes squinting with chagrin because I just didn’t want to accept what I saw with my own pupils…yep, that damn bottle was almost gone. What the heck just happened? I mean, I opened up the sucker thinking it would be so nice and relaxing to have a glass, turn on my favorite show, and just breathe a bit. I needed to breathe, to think, to process my thoughts. The next thing I know, I’m going back for tiny refill number…4? Now, give me bit of slack here, it was over a long period, like several hours. But the fact is I obviously needed this situation to happen. I needed release and a chance to just “be.”

Can I get a show of hands from the two or three people actually reading this and see if it has ever happened to you? Oh really, both of you? Awesome, so I’m not sailing this ship to crazy town all on my own! Sweet! The point I want to make here is, sometimes that bottle just needs to be half empty.

I’m a pretty positive person, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE coaching others to good health and lifestyle choices (ah, here’s that parenting tip…you know…the “do as I say, not as I do” tip). But I am also a human being and susceptible to “falling off the health wagon,” so-to-speak. Last night was one of those exceptional moments of pure indulgence and embracing my moment of “being bad.” So let me back up a bit and explain how my bottle became drained so fast.

As some of you may know, if you’ve ever read my bio, that I am a mother of two beautiful children whom I love and adore more than life itself. That’s an honest statement, too. But the thing that comes with any responsibility, whether it is parenting, a career, or whatever your jam may be, it also comes with moments of pure, undiluted stress. I could totally do a plug here for my health coaching business on how to manage stress, because I do know those fun little tips, but nope. I’m going to be super real for you here and let you know that I threw all of those out the window. Even I had a moment where stress got the best of me. Parenting got the best of me. I want to have all the answers, and yet, I don’t. I’m not even close. But dammit, I try every stinking day to get this gig right so I can raise Warriors in this world and not take away from society. But raising Warriors can be hard at times, especially when what you want to do for them gets so much backlash and negative feedback. This is where my own spiritual strength kicks in like Chuck Norris.

Raising kids in the age of social media, Google, and Netflix is like trying to get the last section of your zipper on that little black dress of yours. You can bend and twist your elbows in multiple directions, but in the end you have to ask for help because that last section is truly unattainable. And so when I was trying to “zip” up my own section of parenting, I realized I needed to ask for help. So I did. What I got was good stuff, and still is good stuff, but man does it suck some brain power from you. Oh, I’m sticking to my guns and holding strong but standing up for what you know is right and doing what you know is best for the people you love is EXHAUSTING!!!

And yet, it’s what we are supposed to do, people! We are supposed to fight the good fights for what we believe in because deep down we know it is right. And that doesn’t mean strictly parenting principles. It can encompass anything you feel is worthy of your time and mental energy. Rome was not built in a day, and whatever your end-game may be, you’re probably going to need to ask for help (I pray over mine for a long while), see what answers you get, and then drink some wine (or vodka). You are going to cry by yourself for a moment, let that pity party commence, and then move along to task number 2, which is solving the problems and getting to solutions you feel good about. To be fearful of seeking advice is such a detriment to healthy living, especially if you are a spiritual person like me. I can’t tell you the number of times my own faith has pulled me through things or guided me to others that offered exactly what I needed. I just had to simply ask. There are so many credible people and resources out there to offer suggestions, tips, tricks, and plain ol’ support to people out there silently screaming for it. So please, before your ship crashes to shore, find a way to get some answers and then go out there and tackle that problem like a Roman soldier! Once the battle is over, you can do like I did last night and find your own bottle half empty, but your heart completely full.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Want to learn more about my health coaching business and what I can do for you? Visit http://www.lifestylelistener.com and sign up for my free sugar buster sheet!

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Memory Lane

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New year, and that means doing some closet cleaning. You know how that goes…baby clothes, costumes, toys, and the occasional miscellaneous beach bag you only used once. It all needs to be purged, organized, and eliminated from the chaos we call “life.” But in one of the items I was cleaning out, I discovered some journals from my college days. Oh my, how great it was to walk back down memory lane with my college self, and all the immature selfishness that goes along with this period in one’s life.

Circa May 1997

So what was happening in the mind of an 18 year old college student at Vanderbilt University? Well, stress is one of the common threads in my journal. I talk about the stress of classes, the stress of trying to fit into a world I didn’t think I belonged. The stress of trying to keep relationships going, but watching them crumble. I read about heartache over the loss of family members and frustration with may parents, whom I felt were dictating to me how I needed to live over the two-state distance. I also read about a desire for more confidence and the need to figure out who I wanted to become while living away from home for the first time in my life.

If you have never had the chance to step back into your 18-year-old self, I am sad for you. It is comical, but also a bit disheartening. It will humble you in a flat second too. Because now, as a 39-year-old woman, I realize the things that seemed so major at that time in my life were actually small in scale compared to the challenges I would face in my more adult lifetime. But I also see some beauty in this method of self-reflection. I can get a glimpse into how my daughter might think of things when she is this age. I see how my son could get frustrated at me as a parent when he goes to college. This journal might be a flash to the past for me, but it is also a peek into the future for two children who are very much like me, although still very different. I am thankful for having a sort of “crystal ball” into parenting my children. The things I wrote about the people around me, whether they were fellow college student or my own parents driving me crazy, spans the test of time. Behaviors will remain the same, even though circumstances will greatly change. Yes, my kids will face different battles than me because their world is totally different than the world I lived in during 1997. And yet, common human behaviors and natures will still be there. So maybe this little “God Wink” of mine is a tool I can keep for future use.

I plan to read some of my entries to my 11-year-old daughter because I want her to understand it’s okay to be frustrated with me, but that I am doing what I do for her best interest. And perhaps it will inspire her to start more journaling of her own so she has an avenue to vent out frustrations about life, flesh out personal thoughts, or just rant on how annoying I am as a mother.

Floating down memory lane today made me laugh a little, tear up a bit for lives that are now over, but most of all actually feel very proud of the person I have become. The person God has made me into, and the character I have worked so hard to preserve and grow over the years. Here’s hoping you get to find our own version of Memory Lane, and to take that time to do some good self-reflection. And to take the time to relish in the good and the maybe not-so-good about your own life. Remember, healthy living is always about looking inward and finding what you love and what you want to change.

Happy New Year everyone…Cheers!

Wines of Nova Scotia

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This year my husband and I had the pleasure of traveling to the Northern Atlantic coast to visit the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia.  One thing I was pleasantly surprised to discover was how Nova Scotia is a well-hidden wine country!  Even though wine from this wind-swept area of the North American coastline was new to this traveler, it is not new to the region.  Grape varietals have been growing in Nova Scotia for centuries thanks to all the European voyagers that stopped here along their travels.  It wasn’t until the last 25 years or so that commercial production really started to pick up.  And even though it is a relatively small operation compared to other countries, the wines from Nova Scotia are unique given the frigid growing temperatures and rugged terroir.  Grapes that grow in this region are hardy and definitely unique in the viticulture world. 

Fresh Seafood Needs Great Wine

Nova Scotia

Because of the temperatures and growing conditions, Nova Scotia is well-known for it’s sparkling wine and it’s white wine.  Red wine is also grown here, which to me resembled the pinot noirs of Washington State and Oregon.  But I truly enjoyed the sparkling and whites better than the reds.  Perhaps because the whites paired perfectly with the delicious seafood caught fresh daily off the coast. 

One winery we visited on our tour is known specifically for its sparkling wine production.  Benjamin Bridge, located in the Gaspereau Valley, is growing sparkling wine comparable to the Champagne region of France thanks to the similar growing conditions and the French MétheodeClassique technique used by the vineyards winemakers. Owner Jean-Benoit Deslauriers and his team partnered with Peter Gamble (who has wines from California and is a pretty big label), and the late Raphaël Brisbois as advisors in the growing process.

It is a time-consuming, labor of love in making sparkling wines, and it pays off for Benjamin Bridge.  The sparkling wines we tasted were superb, with the right amount of dryness and acidity to complement any occasion.  I highly recommend visiting here if you find yourself in the area.  It is definitely worth the stop and the people working there are extremely warm and friendly. 

Nova Scotia

The other wineries we visited in the Annapolis Valley did not disappoint in the least.  Domaine De Grand Pré offered it’s own variety of whites and reds, and there is also a restaurant, “Le Caveau,” on property that offers deliciously fresh Canadian fare to pare with their wines.  Next stop was Luckett Vineyards, whose proprietor and founder, Pete Luckett, came late to the game of winemaking after a lucrative career in the grocery business.  His energetic personality and love for fine foods let him to get into the wine business and he hasn’t looked back since starting this vineyard in 2010.  Beside the wines being delicious, hosting acidic whites and low-tannin reds, the property houses a red British telephone booth brought from Luckett’s native England.  And the best part is patrons can call ANYWHERE in the world for free.  Of course I had to try it out, so I called my mom in Missouri, and sure enough, she answered! 

Nova Scotia

Finally, our wine tour ended with a fabulous meal at the Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyard.  With its “Napa Valley” feel, this winery offered something different we had not tasted at other places that day, which was a rosé.  This style of wine is one of my favorites to enjoy during warm summer months by the beach or pool.  They also offer a sparkling rosé, which I unfortunately did not get to try.  But if it holds up to the one I enjoyed, I know it would be a show-stopper in its own right. 

A Varietal Unique to Nova Scotia

One thing you may not realize with Nova Scotian wine is that winemakers have created the province’s own unique wine appellation called “Tidal Bay.”  It was introduced to the market in June of 2012 and has a specific set of standards each vineyard must meet before it can be bare this label.  The wine must be made from one specific white wine grape that is indigenous to Nova Scotia and no where else in the world.  And it must be approved by a blind tasting panel before it can earn its “wine wings.”  With all the trouble it goes into creating this wine, it was one of my absolute favorites because I loved the acidity and crispness it offered the palate.  I felt it was just as delicious as some of my time-loved White Burgundies or New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.      

So if you find yourself looking for a beautifully rustic, yet pristine place to visit, I highly recommend Nova Scotia.  And I hope you get the chance to visit some of the same wineries I had the pleasure to see.  You will be in for a true adventure.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

Cracks of Imperfection

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I love to run outside.  There is something therapeutic and detoxifying about running with nature all around you.  With music pumping in my ears and the wind in my face, a cacophony of melodies one can’t find on a treadmill is suddenly formed all around me.

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The other day I was running, and when I do run I let my mind open up freely to explore all kinds of thoughts and feelings. One thing that kept popping up in my brain was all the cracks and crevices I run beside on the streets.  It made me think of how we, as in our inner self, are cracked in just the same way as that pavement.  Pressures of life often break through our concrete wall of self-assurance and positivity.  We are all imperfect people striving to lead a perfect life, and along the way we acquire some pretty big potholes to show for it.  But there is beauty in those imperfections too.  They are learning curves, they are life experiences, they are tears of pain and joy.  But most of all they are the things that make us who we are today, right now.

Self-Reflection is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves because it permits us to look at those “cracks” we have made over time, see the good, the bad, and the ugly with them, then try and heal from it.  Whatever you see when you look in the mirror, whatever “cracks” you have staring back at you, know that those are teachable moments in life.  They might be mistakes made or things that happen to us which are out of our control.  But remember that Love and Hope are greater powers than Negativity and Self-Destruction.  Know that something higher out there is holding you up (for me that is Jesus), helping you along the way through this crazy thing we call “Life.”

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(Photo by Becca Lavin on Unsplash)

So the next time you see a large crack in the pavement, recognize what it took to get there.  And relish in the fact that, even though the crack exist, the Foundation is still standing strong and holding up to the environment around it.

 

Until next time,

Cheers

Conquering the Markets of Hong Kong

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Just want to thank http://www.porthole.com for allowing me another great opportunity to write for their magazine.  It is so much fun to share my experiences with your readers.  I hope you enjoy this piece!

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This summer I had the unbelievable opportunity to visit the city of Hong Kong, China. What made the experience even more memorable was being able to take my ten-year-old daughter. She is an adventure-seeker, like me, so it was an easy sell despite the 19 hours we would spend on the plane. Within two weeks of finding out we were going, my daughter and I had booked our flights, packed our bags, and prepared to be awed by the world we would soon encounter.

Learning to Barter

Ladies Market

Hong Kong is full of so many wonderful treasures and sights, and one of my favorite memories was walking around and shopping in all the local markets. With a population of almost 8 million people, Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping opportunities from the ultra high-end to inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs. My daughter and I were staying at a hotel located in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. This area of Hong Kong plays host to some of the best-known street markets in the city. Our first night, we experienced the famous Ladies Market, which was bustling with shoppers well into the late night hours. Stall after stall lined the narrow streets, selling anything from luggage to jewelry, and of course purses resembling certain designer labels. Here is where I experienced my first taste of bargaining with the locals. Most everyone spoke English, thankfully, and the more you bargained with the vendors, the better response you received. Better bargaining led to fun gifts to take home to the family! My daughter even got in the game and bargained herself a pretty decent deal on a few specialty souvenirs.

Not Your Typical Grocery Shopping

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The next market we conquered was one of the “wet markets” found around the city. Wet Markets are where locals go to buy their groceries. In the States, we are accustomed to going inside a large, well-lit building which houses everything we need to stock our kitchens and households. But the one-stop-shopping concept is completely different in Hong Kong. Our eyes were opened in fascination as we passed various store fronts which sold everything from locally grown vegetables, some I had never laid eyes on before in my life, to household cleaning supplies. Other shops dealt solely with meats, chickens, or seafood items. And when you shop the wet markets in Hong Kong, you only buy what you need for the next few meals because everything is fresh. Even the eggs are sitting out, unrefrigerated, because they were most likely gathered that morning. It was a foodie’s dream to meander down the aisles and see spices, dried goods, fruits, and vegetables to tempt anyone’s palate.

A Thousand Colors of Green

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The next market on our shopping adventure was the one and only Jade Market. Here you could purchase various kinds of Jade, from the deepest of greens to the earthy reds of what locals called “ancient jade.” Again, my daughter and I found ourselves bargaining and negotiating our way down the aisles, finding the most unique pieces for the best prices possible. The Jade Market, also located in Mong Kok, takes up two entire blocks, and the outside appearance is deceiving. You think at first you are walking into a run-down metal and wood building only to discover the rows and rows of various items for sale, many of which were beautifully hand-carved masterpieces by the booth owners themselves. It is a must-see if you visit Hong Kong, because here you can get exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces while also emerging yourself fully in the culture.

The Many Markets of Hong Kong

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Our final day of shopping in Hong Kong found us at two places, which were in two totally different locations. PMQ, a modernist building located in Hong Kong’s “SOHO” district, once housed police quarters for married officers and their families. It is now using those rooms as individual storefronts. Local artists from around the Hong Kong area sell their pieces, which range from custom-made handbags and jewelry to tasteful varieties of tea leaves. If you want something unique and one-of-a-kind, the PMQ market needs to be on your to-do list. The close of our Hong Kong shopping adventure took place at the Temple Street Night Market. This market is also located on Kowloon and is one of the more well-known street markets in this area. Like the Ladies Market we visited a few evenings before, this market also sold many of the same items, but what makes this one so famous are the food vendors that set up shop here. Some families have been offering their cuisines to patrons for generations. The sights, sounds, and smells we encountered at the Temple Street Market truly resembled the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.

It’s easy to get accustomed to shopping in air-conditioned malls and shopping centers, but the luxury and convenience of those type of stores lack the individuality and character of the markets in Hong Kong. One of the best things about traveling is finding ways to immerse yourself in the culture, and visiting the markets in Hong Kong is a great way to achieve this. I hope one day you get to enjoy the same experiences my daughter and I did this summer.

 

To see the article and discover all the great things http://www.porthole.com has to offer, please visit this link:

https://www.porthole.com/conquering-markets-hong-kong-china/

Maneuvering Through Food Label Mania

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I always like to tell those seeking healthy eating advice to read labels before purchasing a product.  But sometimes label-reading can be a little like figuring out a Rubik’s Cube.  So I thought it might be helpful to explain what some of the labels mean on the foods you decide to stick in your grocery cart.  I also do my research online from reputable sites.  One of my go-to’s is http://www.sustainabletable.org.  They have some of the latest news when it comes to the food industry.

  • Whole Grain:  This is not something new in today’s society.  You can find it on most “health” food items.  It means the food contains the entire grain and has not been refined in processing.
  • Non-GMO, GMO-Free, or No-GMO’s:  There could be an entire post done on this one.  So I am keeping it simple.  Foods with this label do not contain any genetically modified or genetically engineered products.  GMO means scientists have altered the state of an organism’s genetic make-up by taking a specific gene from one organism and sticking it into a plant or animal that has an entirely different genetic make-up.  Many crops today use GMO seeds to withstand pesticides during the farming process.
  • Free-Range:  This is used in the egg and poultry industry to indicate chickens that have access to the outdoors and are not restricted to chicken coups.  Be mindful because “free-range” is different that the term “pastured.”  Free-range chickens can still be limited to the amount of time they get to “freely” roam outside.  The USDA has set the standards for this classification and products may not always be cruelty-free or antibiotic-free.
  • Antibiotic-free and Hormone-free:  This one is pretty self-explanatory and means animals were not given any form of antibiotics or hormones during their life span.  By federal law, hogs and poultry are not allowed to be given hormones.  Of course, there is always room to dig with this topic….what you see or read may not be what you get.  Just be sure to check the company, even if the product is organic.  Not everyone abides by the same standards.
  • Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed:  When you buy your meats you definitely want to lean on the side of grass-fed.  Grass fed animals are allowed to eat from their own natural habitat, while grain-fed animals are given feed.  Here is where you have to really watch your labels.  If you purchase grain-fed products, be sure the label reads “100% Vegetarian Fed.”  Otherwise, producers could be putting animal by-product in their feed.  Yuck!
  • RBGH-free or RBST-free:  This simply means the animals were not injected with any hormones before going to slaughter.  You DEFINITELY want your meats to be free of these.  Some studies have linked these injections with increasing hormone development in children, especially girls.  Also, the hormones have been linked to different illnesses and cancers.  Do your investigation through reliable sources, or just avoid it if that is easier.  In my book, I just stay as clean as possible with what I put in my body, or the body of my kids.
  • Pasture-raised:  You will start to see more and more of this on food labels, and that is thanks to the huge movement from consumers demanding better quality food.  This is what I always look for when I buy my eggs at the supermarket.  Just because it says “cage-free” doesn’t mean it was allowed to roam around a farm and eat it’s natural food-source.  Remember, you are what you eat!
  • Healthy:  Many food companies will make the claim that their product is considered “healthy.”  WATCH YOUR FOOD LABELS!  If the ingredient lists contains a slew of words you can’t pronounce or they have a lot of numbers in them, place it back on the shelf.  Many people are floored when they realize what they thought was a healthy food to eat really wasn’t, especially when they could never figure out the cause behind weight gain or other health issues.  Labels are your best bet, not what is printed on the front of the package.

Buying good, quality food does not have to be a challenge.  You just need to educate yourself a bit and be proactive when it comes to purchasing.  We, alone, are the ones in charge of our well-being, and the habits we develop to become healthier will only funnel over into the next generation.  Maybe one day we will see the end of harmful preservatives and chemicals placed in our food supply.

For more information on healthy living ideas, visit my website at http://www.lifestylelistener.com or my Facebook page, @lifestylelistener for recipes and tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Happy shopping, and until next time,

Cheers

My Adventure with Wine

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to submit an online article for Porthole Cruise magazine.  They were looking for individuals willing to share a story about their love of wine.  As another Father’s Day approaching without my Dad, I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor his memory than to tell the story of how he taught me to learn and love wine.  Luckily, they liked it enough to publish it!

Some of my wine knowledge I had to discover on my own, but the roots were planted early in my lifetime by my father.  What I now know is because of the precious time my dad took to teach me about something he absolutely loved.  Now that he is gone, I get to pass on this legacy with the wine he willed to me after his death.  I have the incredible privilege of sharing fabulous wine with friends and family I love.  I get to take my dad’s “wine hat” and teach others what my he taught me over the years.

Wine is not just about finding the perfect bottle or knowing if you have opened something “worthy” to drink.  It’s about creating memories and moments with people you love and enjoy being around.

I hope you enjoy this insight into how and why I fell in love with the world of wine.

Grape Destinations: From Burgundy to California; My Adventure with Wine

Until next time,

Cheers

Breaking Free

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I hate to generalize, but I will here for a bit. American culture can exude a propensity for living by the “work hard, play hard” mentality. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t necessarily disagree with it. But I do find myself at times wondering why we spin our wheels so fast each and every day but fail to stop and take notice of the ground we are traveling on? Let me explain my meaning. During my program to become a health coach, there were consistent lectures given by some of the best and brightest in the health and wellness industry tackling this very notion. And to be honest, a lot of what they said made sense. We overcrowd our schedules with things we feel “need” to be accomplished and wonder why at the end of the day we crash and burn in a blaze of cranky attitudes and a failure to connect with those we love.

I often find myself chewing on the idea of “slowing down.” I am not talking about a vacation where you sit for a week and relax. I am talking about each and every day taking time to stop, let my brain rest and recharge, and not constantly go at Mach speed. It’s not an easy change, trust me. You feel lazy and unproductive because your mind is telling you, if you have a moment to spare, get something useful accomplished. But perhaps the things we need to get accomplished could be done more efficiently if we had a better “head space?”

If we can break free from the chains of expectations that bind us daily, we might be able to have healthier lives and more meaningful relationships. Of course, this way of thinking is so far from our norm, the change won’t happen overnight. It might happen in generations, if we are lucky. But I do truly feel we age ourselves, body and soul, because we fail to take in the simple beauties this world has to offer.

So what will your starting point be to create more space in your day for mental and physical rest? Today I chose to sit outside on my back porch and listen to the gentle roll of thunder and rain provided by a summer storm. And in that moment of time, my headspace became clearer and my attitude heightened.

I highly suggest you give it a try sooner than later.

Until next time,

Cheers

The Juxtaposition of Jesus’ Love

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Do you have a favorite wall in your house, apartment, room, or whatever?  A wall that displays pictures, paintings, or trinkets of some kind which hold value to you?  I have a favorite wall in my house.  It’s in my kitchen and I catch myself stopping to look at it every once in a while.  Adorning the wall are pictures of me with my parents, my kids, my husband, and his extended family.  It also has a framed collage of wine labels I have drunk with my dad in years past.  And to round it out is one of my favorite bible verses, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I love this wall because I feel it describes me, the things I cherish in this world, and the memories I have to hold onto for the rest of my life.  As we are knee-deep in Holy Week, I have given thought to a lot of messages on the love of Jesus and how it is THE most important thing in this world.  And I completely agree with this-I know it to be true. Sometimes it is so hard for our human minds to even fathom that kind of love, but I am learning to trust in it and to follow it whole-heartedly.  I sometimes feel like my children, who learn religion in school every day.  I am taking faith one day at the time, learning to not overwhelm myself.  Not growing up in a house that attended church regularly, sometimes the concepts I hear coming from scripture boggle my gray matter.  So I do this; I journal and flesh things out on my laptop.

I have heard some preach before how things in this world are just that, things.  They are objects we can’t take with us to Heaven.  Spending too much time focusing on them separates us from Jesus because we open ourselves up to harboring love and adoration for simple objects.  And apparently the same can be said of the relationships we hold close with people.  They do not come before our relationship with Jesus Christ.  So as I look upon my favorite wall and gaze on those things I do hold dear in this world, I find myself wondering how am I supposed to separate those loves?  How do I distinguish between the love I have for Jesus and the love I have for my family?  Are they one in the same?  Am I loving one more than the other?  Do I feel Jesus gets angered when we extol love for those blessings He gives us?

No, I don’t think He gets upset, but I do find myself constantly thinking about how I am supposed to reflect upon this notion.  It becomes a cycle, much like the convection cycle my daughter is learning about in science class right now.

This process stirred last night in my head as I again passed by my favorite wall after cleaning up dinner.  And then I realized I am not being forced to choose here.  I am not being forced to love one over the other.  Instead, I am to know that my blessings bestowed on me are given BY Jesus.  It is my responsibility to acknowledge thanks and praise for the “objects,” it is my duty as a parent to raise my children in a Christ-centered home, and it is by grace that I have so many wonderful memories to smile fondly upon, especially when some of those people are no longer with me on earth.  The love of Jesus endures for me because of what He did this particular week.

As I tend to do, I get encompassed in thought and over-analyze myself.  It’s what made me so good at figuring out the meaning behind speeches, books, etc., in college.  But just when I get too close to the edge, something in me stirs and says to “Be still and know that I am God,” so don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  You see now why that’s my favorite verse because it keeps me grounded, makes me stop and listen instead of barreling ahead with ideas and notions.

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If you are celebrating Holy Week this month, perhaps you can relate to this constant internal struggle when it comes to growing in faith and growing in knowing ourselves.  If not, this can certainly be applicable to other areas of spirituality.  Because, you see, we all have moments in life that make us stop and ponder, no matter what spiritual place we call home.  If we are really looking through the right lens of life, we should see our kismet, or destiny, a little bit clearer.

Until next time,
Cheers

Ruminate This!

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Do you ever have those nights when you wake up around 3 in the morning, your mind starts spinning, and suddenly you are mentally jotting down all the things you have to get accomplished for the next day?  This was me yesterday morning, and there was no going back to sleep.

I woke up and looked at my alarm clock, which read 3:30 AM. “Ugh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go.”  I knew what was going to happen in the next few moments because I had gone to bed thinking about something that was weighing on my heart. So the moment my eyeballs popped open, my mind went straight to that situation and the horses started sprinting for the finish line.  I tossed and turned until about 5 AM, then finally gave up and went downstairs to make coffee.

As I wrote in my journal that morning, I realized there is a repeat pattern here and I feel I am not the only one doing this sort of thing.  Psychology Today has a name for this sort of thing, called “rumination.”  Ruminating is basically when we have something on our mind, a problem or worry, and we continue to think about it until it winds up causing our minds to go into a tailspin of anxiety and depression.  Of course some situations are worse than others, but if you find yourself waking up constantly over a specific worry or concern, you could be setting yourself up for something worse than just a trip to the bathroom or a drink of water.

When I am out do dinner with my lady friends the topic of not sleeping seems to always come up among us.  I have consciously made a note of how many individuals do this sort of thing, and pretty much most of us are getting up at some point in the night.  This also means none of us are giving our bodies the rest they need.  I am not saying we all are suffering from anxiety or depression, but when you think about the typical stress levels we place upon ourselves on a daily basis, ruminating is likely to happen.  I recently listened to an audio lecture about dealing with stress and worry. The constant theme that came up in this series was how our stressed-out society never takes a break from what we place on ourselves, resulting in all sorts of health issues.  One of those issues is, of course, lack of sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies and minds healthy, so when you don’t get enough, your entire system can get out of whack. Sounds awesome, right?  So do you find yourself constantly waking up at night stressed or worried about the next day or about a list of problems?  What can you do?

Well, there are several things you can try to help get your mind out of the “rumin-rut.”

One way you can break the cycle of worry and stress is to just try and laugh more during your day.  Stop taking yourself so seriously all the time and get some good guffaws in.  Think about a funny time, or look at pictures of fun memories.  It’s much better to have laughing wrinkles than frowning wrinkles!

Find someone you can talk to in confidence.  Getting things off your chest and out in the open is a great way to work through a problem or situation.  Keeping things bottled up inside will only cause the issue to fester and eat at your mind.

Find ways to relax, even if it’s just for five minutes.  Give your brain a chance to decompress and break up the monotony of your daily grind.  Meditate, go for a short walk, sit down and listen to calming music, take a coffee break and read a book. Whatever it is that gives you peace of mind, do it, and do it for at least five to ten minutes each day.

We are responsible for our own cognitive health, and that means taking the bull by the horns and finding ways to fix the stress we have in life.  Things may not go any slower for you, but you need to take care of your brain and get your rest.  Trust me, your mind and your body will thank you.

Until next time,

Cheers