Category Archives: Healthy Mind

Worth the Risk?

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“I think there should be a God-honoring, obedient risk in our lives every single day…I’m saying that Jesus lives on the other side of our comfort.  And that when we get comfortable for too long, we start to miss our need for God.”  –Jennie Allen

I always find it interesting how I choose my next topic to write upon.  Sometimes there is a pressing notion on my mind, and other times it just slaps me across the face and I can’t get the thought out of my head until I have it down on paper.  That is what happened today as I read from Jennie Allen’s book “Nothing to Prove.”  This particular chapter talked about Jesus’ risk for us, and how we tend to avoid risk in life.  We like the comfortable spot in the chair, or in our church pew, just so long as not too much gets shaken up.  I started to contemplate all the “risks” I have found myself taking lately in life.  Things I would probably have never had the courage or tact to do even five years ago.  And I could see the point Jennie was trying to make.  We, as human beings, have a tendency to make our decisions based on fears (or the fear of risk) instead of relying on our faith to guide us.

Faith can have different meanings for various spiritualities, but for me, it means I am a follower of Jesus and I strive to live my life out in my faith through Him.  Jesus risked so much to give me life, and it makes my own fears seem obsolete.  So as I kept reading Allen’s book, I was thinking about my own battles with fear, how have I worked to overcome those fears, and what am I still lacking when I am supposed to obediently live the “what would Jesus do” lifestyle.  It also had me thinking about risk.

As a child, I would not have considered myself a risk-taker.  For those of you who knew me then, and even read this blog, you would probably agree.  I was always a rule-follower and didn’t stray far from the safe path in life.  I didn’t take huge risks when it came to school, relationships, or physical activities.  I chose not to “put myself out there,” whether it be fear of failure or rejection.  I came out of adolescence with only a few bruises, but what opportunities did I miss because I failed to take a risk? Because my fear of failing overruled my desire to see what the grass looked like on the other side of the fence?

Moving away to school was the first big “risk” I took, and it began a slow, yet steady tick of finding myself in life.  It has taken years, and a lot of life experiences, but I am letting that fear of risk slowly go.  Rome was not built in a day, so this does take time.  Yet, it is so liberating when you can finally be comfortable in your own skin and own your identity.  The space I take up in this world, I worked hard to own and this is just the beginning.  I have built some pretty amazing relationships in life, am putting myself out there more to become involved in big ideas, and realizing that fear and risk are not necessarily bad things.  Just so long as I can keep my faith in perspective and Jesus in my heart.  I am not expecting to move mountains or set the world on fire with my new-found, risk-taking attitude.  But what I hope to achieve is a more solid foundation to stand on as I get older and live my life.  To show my children that taking a God-filled risk can result in some awesome discoveries, no matter how scary the idea.

“Every time we risk, we place our lives in the hands of our God and test His enoughness.  It is for freedom and joy that we stand out past the limits and confines of our comfort.”  –Jennie Allen

Risk-taking means the chance of bumps and bruises.  It’s like me cringing when I see my kids race on their bikes or try to ski behind a boat.  I know there lies the chance for broken bones or bruised egos, but the flip side is the joy and elation they feel whenever they succeed.  The knowing and trusting that God has them in His arms and protects them more than I ever could as a mother.  It’s the million dollar question shored up by eternal salvation, grace, and love.  I just have to remember to let the fear go, to let the risk happen, and to trust more.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to let my kids run in traffic, or that I am going to hit the blackjack tables in Vegas.  Instead, I know I am not always going to be there to offer protection and help to my children.  And I know that Jesus watches over them as they take their own risks through life, just as I know He watches over me as I am taking more of mine.  It’s not an easy thing to do, to let go and let God.  But then again, who said life was going to be easy?

So I ask you to think about your own risk-taking, fear-loathing attitude in life, and maybe kick it up a notch or two.  See what you can do to put yourself out there more.  Will you build a new relationship, or perhaps mend an old and damaged one.  Will you jump towards a new career, or maybe move thousands of miles away.  It’s hard to say how the cards will play when you take a risk or two, but I pray you find it and settle in for the ride.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

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Siri, You Don’t Get Me

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I have to post this small little blurb today because I feel like all you iPhone users out there can relate to what I have to say about good ol’ Siri.  Now, I don’t know if you feel as I do when it comes to hands-free driving, but I like the idea of letting my voice do the work while my eyes stay focused on the road and my hands do their job of driving the car.  So when Apple developed Siri a few years ago, I thought it was going to be the next best thing to sliced bread.  Unfortunately, my Siri experience has been terrible.

Can I just take a moment to poke fun at myself?  How do you know your relationship with Siri is on the outs?  It is probably pretty clear she is just not that into you when you hit the magical button to ask a question and she repeatedly tells you “I’m sorry Samantha, I don’t understand that.” Ever had that happen?  Yeah, I thought so.

As I was driving this morning, dropping off my children at their various schools, I was needing to know when our local Barnes and Noble would open.  “Ah,” I thought to myself, “I will ask Siri.  She knows everything, right?”  Push the button and speak into the virtual microphone.  “Siri, can you tell me when the Barnes and Noble in Cape Girardeau will open today?”  Siri replies, “Samantha, I don’t understand what Noble is.”  Wait, what?  Okay, deep breath, and let me turn down my music to eliminate all background noise.  Try again. “Siri, can you please (because maybe if I am overly polite, she will give me my answer) tell me when BARNES AND NOBLE IN CAPE GIRARDEAU WILL OPEN TODAY?”  Here she goes, it’s going to happen this time!  “Samantha, here is the location for Cape Girardeau.  Can I help with anything else?”  Sure, I can tell you what direction I would like you to go…any guesses oh wise, fake language, computer voice?

Now, you have to get a visual here, because I am driving in traffic, yelling to wherever my microphone is in the car, trying to focus on the road.  If you passed me this morning, now you understand why I looked like a giraffe driving a vehicle, craning my neck towards the ceiling in search of the mysterious Bluetooth microphone.  Okay, let’s try this again.  The car is quiet and I hit the magic button.  “Siri, pretty please tell me when Barnes and Noble will open in Cape Girardeau.”  Awkward silence as I watch the colorful neon light pulse on my phone’s screen.  “Samantha,  here are the searches I found for Hungarian paprika.”  ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! It takes sheer strength to NOT throw my phone across the vehicle and suddenly I find myself pushing the button to tell Siri what a big loser she was, how she couldn’t understand me, and I thought she was a complete idiot! There, now see how you do, SIRI! Microphone drop, BOOM, I told her. Her response?  “I’m sorry you feel that way, Samantha.”  Whatever.

Needless to say, I had to wait until I reached a red light to search Safari for opening times of Barnes and Noble, which had absolutely zero to do with Hungarian paprika.  Still trying to figure that one out, Siri.  So, for those of you out there using iPhones and having amazing “Phomances” with Siri, good for you.  For the rest of the Siri rejects out there, I feel your pain.  And if you use another brand of phone, you may have no clue what this entire situation feels like, but then again, my iPhone has not exploded on me yet.

I was just a girl, driving a car, waiting for a simple answer.  All I got was Hungarian paprika.

Until next time,

Cheers!

The Shadow of Control

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I read an amazing book by a woman named Susan Jaramillo titled “How God Rewrote My Heart.” Jaramillo is a strong woman to have endured the trials and tribulations she experienced throughout life. The book focuses on how God helped her heal from all these experiences. Short, sweet and to the point, I could relate to how she felt in certain life situations, even if our experiences were completely opposite.  Susan hit upon how control ruled her life and how her spirit was broken because of the lack of self-worth she felt.

I guess it brings me to finally put onto paper my own story of struggle and of defeat. It is nothing earth shattering, especially if you think about the struggles others in the world can deal with each day. But none-the-less my story is about a point in my life when I hit my own rock bottom and how control and lack of self-worth engulfed every aspect of my world.

I have written previously about women and our self-worth in a post a few years ago, but my own personal vendetta did not get included in the article. Now I feel like it is time to get the demons out on paper. It is time to come to grip with my own personal failures and mishaps.

It is hard, when you are young and naïve, to really see how one’s own decisions impact the people around you. I never gave much thought to this notion, mainly because I never really believed enough people cared what I did in this world. It was my own Demon in my head telling me how worthless I was to everyone. If I had to really think when this all began I would pin it around young adolescence. Growing up is so hard for any kid, and throw in insecurity, the mix becomes a toxic concoction of self-hatred and self-doubt. I always felt extremely inadequate when it came to friendships or finding my own niche in school. The only place I felt safe and secure was my academic life and knowing my teachers respected my efforts in the classroom. I was a shy kid, kind of a loaner in school with just a few close friends. I would never have labeled myself as popular. I avoided trying out for the cheerleading squad or dance squad. I stuck to more “academic” pursuits because I felt comfortable there. So as I hit high school, I stayed out of parties for the most part and skimmed the parameter of all the “in crowds.” I just didn’t ever feel “good enough” to be a part of those groups, and I was afraid of rejection. I never saw myself as pretty or savvy enough to be included in things they did. I didn’t really date anyone either because I knew I was not the one guys wanted in our high school. I was awkward, felt a tad overweight and had crazy curly hair. But I was smart, and for some reason that was a comfort to me. I knew I could do anything that required the use of my brain. My close friends included me in social things and tried to help me come out of my shell. I loved them, and still do, for their loyalty to me as a friend and “personal cheerleader” in high school.

What pre-teen or teenage girl doesn’t feel this way? Like the entire world is looking at her with a magnifying glass, just waiting for one wrong step. My own feelings of self-worth didn’t have a thing to do with the amount of love my parents showed me. I grew up in a good household where my parents lived lovingly under the same roof, my dad had a good job and my mom stayed at home to care for me. I did not have any brothers and sisters in my home to make me share things or deal with the daily annoyances I find my own kids struggling with today. It was a great childhood, but for some reason I became the left out play dough, unable to form into something flexible and easy to mold. I was always opinionated at home because that was where I felt safe and secure. Aside from that you would always find me amicable and easy-going because I didn’t want to cause disturbance or annoyance. I chose what situations I wanted to be in, and stayed far away from areas I felt unsafe or uncertain.

I lost myself in books and movies, anything to pull me out of my own head and my own thoughts. By the time I reached the end of my high school career I was deciding on how the hell to get out of my small town upbringing and try to create my own persona, my own identity. I wanted to be away from any stereotype and discover how the world really lived outside “Peyton Place.” Going off to college seemed to be the best thing, moving away from home and attending a good school that gave me the academic challenges I so craved.

My senior year was an exciting time because by December I knew where I was going to college and I saw this light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom to make my own way, meet people from other states and really find what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I think I worked a little harder on appearances that year too, and I even became interested in a boy. Perhaps by that point I could relax a bit and “sail” my way through the rest of the most awkward and uncertain time in my life: high school.

I only saw one side of leaving home, my side, and it was invigorating. I didn’t consider the other side my parents experienced. The fear of letting your only child go out on her own and praying everything you did while she/he was growing up would come to fruition. That is what my mom and dad experienced after dropping me off at school, looking back in the review mirror as I proudly waved good-bye to them. They were lost to the battles that lay ahead of me. They were lacking proper ammunition to deal with the struggles I would soon face in college.

The beginning of freshman year was an adjustment. Being a kid who loved routines, I had to take some time before figuring out my own. Once I did, it was also very hard for me to let go and have fun. I felt I had this immense responsibility to myself, to my parents and to the world when it came to my grades. I needed to show everyone that I could do this—move away from home, attend a prestigious university on a public school education and blow the world away. I realized then my days of breezy afternoons by the pool were over. It was go-time and I needed to pull up my bootstraps to get the grades. So I did, but in the meantime, my failures I received in the classroom knocked down the fragile self-confidence I had developed my senior year in high school. I was back to square one, surrounded by exceptionally smart people who went to private schools in large cities or boarding schools on the coasts. They were also beautiful, thin, well-groomed individuals, especially the girls. I had no idea where I fit in on this campus. What I held so dear in high school, which was my intelligence, became completely challenged and my lack of self-esteem did not help the situation.

My parents often talked about things they saw me doing after school. Would she be a doctor? Would she be a lawyer (maybe because I was so argumentative), or would she be something else? My parents were in the medical field, so that is all they knew. But they never shied away from the idea of me doing something different. I just could never gain the self-confidence I needed to get out from under their shadow of successes. I never felt independent enough to make mistakes and be okay with it. For us, mistakes were bad and for me mistakes were irreversible. I couldn’t live with irreversible. So when it came to earning good grades and succeeding in my college courses, I wanted to blow the damn world away. Yet, the pressure that is placed on someone’s shoulders can be excruciating. When that pressure is personally put there, the effects can be life changing and severely damaging.

Freshman year wasn’t a complete bust. Don’t get me wrong at all here because I did meet some girls I felt a strong connection to and enjoyed being around. We all became pretty close that year after living in the same hall, and we ended up staying together until the end of our college career. But as life ebbs and flows, mistakes are made and life-lessons are learned, the relationships began to change. In the beginning, we felt the same about the environment around us. We had come to the school because we knew the education would be outstanding but I don’t think we were expecting the rest of it. As I contemplate on this time in my life now, as a 37-year-old adult with a family and life experiences under my belt, I realize how much we had on the ball if we had just recognized it. But college is so hard for adolescent kids. Everyone is trying to fit into this perfect mold and also discover who he or she really is as individuals. Some people find it right off the bat, others it takes years to develop. But my college experience was not full of fraternity parties or sorority socials. I had chosen not to pledge after going through rush during my freshman year. I remember being so nervous around all the other girls; they were so perfect. I just didn’t see myself fitting into their perfect world. Perhaps it was good I did not join because I struggled enough with control as each semester passed and I placed more and more expectations on myself with my classes.

Those expectations grew into something bigger and more dangerous and suddenly I found myself in the rabbit hole of self-control and restrictions. I destroyed the relationships I had built around me during my college career because of my reckless obsession to become perfect. We, as a group of girls, did not know how to handle it, and I let it go too far. Who can ever be around someone who never smiles, who is stressed out all the time and feels such a lack of self-worth? It is depressing and sour, and relationships won’t last a single minute longer than necessary. I take all the blame on losing my friendships from college. I can’t blame those girls for not wanting to be around my crazy-mindedness and me. I was so intense and self-imploding; I didn’t even want to be around me.

Here we go on the journey of an eating disorder. It is an ugly journey that completely engulfs every being of your mind. It is a disease about control; at least that is what mine became centered on in college. I loved my coursework, in spite of the occasional boring required class. My professors listened to my viewpoints during lectures and I never felt awkward when I visited office hours. My brain was there in front of my face and body. It was the first thing someone saw when I entered the room. But placing intelligence in one basket entirely can be dangerous for someone of my nature. I wanted perfection in my classrooms, especially when it came to grades and my budding passion for becoming a writer of some kind. It fed the Demon that told me to portion out servings and live on a fat-free regiment. I could tell you how many calories and fat constituted normal “pantry” foods. At meals, I would count in my head how many calories I ingested during one meal. I controlled how much I ate, what I put in my mouth and how long I stayed awake to study. It was an endless cycle of self-destruction. It blew away my body, and it engulfed my friendships in flames. It was an awful way to live, and I have only myself to blame for it all.

College was the time when I started running every day and when I really began working out. I was trying to make my body match my brain so when I walked into a social setting outside of classroom professors and students I could feel strong and empowered. Running allowed me to break out of the ironclad determination I slipped on every day I attended class. I could breath easier and loose myself in the natural high running can give a person. I competed with myself on how fast I could run at times or how long I could last if I didn’t count the miles. When you are living on a diet of low-fat carbohydrates and little protein, your body starts to shrink. For me, it was a visual affirmation to how well I was running my life. Yes, I could do this all on my own. I could earn the grades, be my own self away from my family and begin to fit into the beauty I saw all around me on campus.

It makes me sad when I sit and write about this because I see now what a waste it all was for me, and for my parents. I blew away four years of my life and missed out on fun times and everlasting friendships because of my self-destructive, obsessive behaviors. It can make a person become so humble to fully accept such a verdict. To know that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my actions. I am the one to blame.

This inner competition sticks with me today, although sometimes I have to squelch that Demon and make it behave. The self-competitive me became the anorexic me after freshman year. Finally, it is out and in the open. The ugly, nasty “A” word that every parent fears will label their child. My parents lived that fear when I came home for that first summer after finals. I had ended the relationship with the boy from my high school senior year and my heart was broken, my spirit demolished but my intellect was intact. I had earned high grades that year. I had also lost 15 pounds since Christmas break, and I really didn’t have 15 to lose.

I changed, and not for the better. My grades kept going higher as my weight went lower during each semester. I watched relationships become damaged and endangered during the rest of my college career. All because I was trying to fit into this mold I believed I needed to fill. I placed that expectation on myself, despite the pleadings of my parents and my closest friends. The latter part of my Junior year was when I hit my lowest weight, under 100 lbs. I had not had a menstrual cycle in months. My roommates and my parents had an intervention one night before midterms. It still makes me tear up after all this time when I remember those conversations. The anger and despair we all felt at one time, in one tiny dorm room, now floats across my mind. I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t know how to do it. I was tightly wound, rigid as steel and I wasn’t sure I would ever become the person I was before I came to college.

But I fought, and I fought hard, to find myself on my own. I knew I had to change and that I had to be the one to do it, but it would not be overnight. I lost a roommate after junior year because she could not live with it all anymore. I wouldn’t have blamed the others if they had moved out too. No one can survive around someone who is hard as stone and driven to a point of madness about academic responsibilities. I dug deep in my soul to find strength to let go of my inner demons. I needed to relinquish the control I was trying to have on every single aspect of my life. I needed to learn to breathe again like I did before I turned into this crazy monster that forgot how to have fun and relax.

I know now, with time and wisdom, my lack of self-worth brought me down the path of self-destruction. It got to the point when my parents wanted to bring me home to them. They threatened to pull me out of school and move me home if I didn’t start to eat more and put on some weight. My hair was beginning to fall out and bones began to protrude in places. So I agreed to eat, and my mom would drive down to school every so often hauling a load of my favorite treats and goodies. Doing anything she could to make me eat. But what is ironic is how that was the last thing I needed. I get that now as a parent because parents will do anything to protect their children. All my parents wanted to do was protect me and help me find myself again. My parents and roommates did the best they could in that situation. But my mom’s brownie truffle was not the answer to the problems at hand. It was a Band-Aid to a very large sore.  I remember my mom stopping in Nashville one weekend, bringing me yet another bucket of brownie truffle. As she placed the bucket on the counter she proceeded to tell me how proud she was that she didn’t even “lick the spoon” while making it. That statement was a slit to my anorexic wrist. You don’t tell someone suffering from an eating disorder how excited you are for restricting your own self from something. The anorexic (me in this case) will take that to the next level. It just goes to show how intricate this disease can be to someone not suffering from its claws. When she left that afternoon I threw the entire container in the trash completely untouched.

My parents tried to find a psychiatrist on campus for me to see. I met with some old-school psychology guru who had published a few books through the university’s press. It appeased my parents and kept me enrolled in school. I was now surviving on two fronts. As a student wanting to earn the grades and as an anorexic hiding her dirty secret from the world. He was a nice man, and we only met for about an hour. He told me how worried my parents were for me and talked to me about why I didn’t need to put so much stress on myself. The honest truth here is I could not remember one thing the man said to me during that visit. There was no personal connection. He was just a means to an end for my mom and dad. I appeased it all so I could pretend I was getting better and able to change. Again it is the intricate workings of a mind whittled with self-doubt. I just wanted to get out of there so I could hit the library again and continue preparing for exams. He gave me one of his books to read and told me to call if I needed more help. I left that office knowing I would never see his face again. I lied to my parents when they called to ask how it went. I said the man really helped me and I could already feel myself getting better. Again, another Band-Aid to a huge ulcerated sore. It made my parents feel better, especially with them feeling helpless and lost as to how to handle my situation. I did end up reading this guy’s book he signed and gave to me. It wasn’t bad, just not what I needed at the time.

This was how I lived the remainder of my years in college. Trying to put up a good front of being “healthy” and eating better, yet compensating for all the additives in my life. I ran longer, worked out harder trying to “adjust” for what I put in my mouth in front of friends and my parents. I was fighting a constant battle in my head that said I needed to get my shit together, but also not to cave to weakness. I was the one in control here, nobody else. I called the shots when it came to my lifestyle. It was a slow beginning to the process of retraining my brain for anything close to normalcy.

Before my senior year of college, I took an internship in Washington, D.C. That was a great summer. I lived in a city full of energy and fun people who were like the “old” me. I found a bit of myself that summer, making new routines and reminding myself that what I did with my body was for health and happiness and nothing else. My brain led me through it all, keeping me focused and grounded. My heart began to heal from a long and exhausting point in my life. I turned 21 that summer in France with my parents, and I learned on that trip how to develop a healthy relationship with food. I also became in love with wine and it introduced a new level of connection with my mom and dad. I know this is why I have such a big heart for wine and all it encompasses. That summer was a time of healing for me and again I was finding myself opening up to a new point in my life. I had decided to move to Dallas, Texas with my dear friend from high school. She was graduating from Texas A & M the same time I was graduating from Vanderbilt. My life was finally coming together, and it was in a good way.

Changing was not easy, but slowly, with time and a lot of perseverance I prevailed. My friends helped me, as did my parents. But the biggest help to me was myself. My ability to see reality for what it was and take slow and steady steps away from the muck of anorexia. I never did see anyone professionally for my disease. I worked through it myself with books, strong friendships and a passion for learning how to eat the healthy way.

I had to completely re-wire my entire relationship with food after college and post-college. It took a good ten years to really discover living with a nutritious diet. I continued to read books, find videos and television shows on cooking and create my own perspective on how food should taste and what I wanted to eat every day. Gone were days of frozen vegetables for dinner or saltines and honey for lunch. I was now discovering an entirely new lifestyle, and I was beginning to fall in love with wholesome food. I knew what I cooked and ate was going to be good for my body. I lost the fear of putting something in my mouth. I lost the fear of relinquishing control over something because I was completely involved in my diet.

Unless you have walked the footsteps of an anorexic or bulimic, it is hard to understand what goes through the mind of someone suffering from these diseases. The issues are real and ugly and completely opaque to the rest of the world. One little word or a phrase can turn someone’s sphere upside down. And now that I am older and have worked through my own issues with my eating disorder, I have become so very sensitive to what the rest of the world discusses. I know that word or phrase which destroys a girl’s (or boy’s) self-esteem and self-worth.

My eating disorder led me down a new path with food. I am to the point now where I love knowing how beneficial healthy foods can be for the body, and I am not scared to sit down and eat full meals. I no longer count calories when making meals. I just simply assess what I feel hungry for and what I think my body may need. I let go and started letting healthy food rule my diet. I was finally becoming free of my Demon. And I also learned to enjoy wine with my meals, and discover the beauty and potential it has on one’s life.

I ended up graduating from Vanderbilt with honors, and they were earned with blood, sweat, and tears. I poured my heart and soul into my education and desire to become a writer of some kind. Thanks to my professors and my parents I had a new kind of boost and it was that I could write and do it well. My dad always told me writing is something that can never be taken away from me. A person doesn’t forget to write if it is a talent that comes naturally to them. Something completely inherent in my soul, this is what writing is for me. I had battled dragons of control and self-worth in college, but I had come out the victor. I had bruises and scars that would take many years to heal, but they are also reminders of what I know I can do to make myself better. I know I have the strength in me to put up a good fight, and my experience as an anorexic showed me how to put my dukes up.

Age is not a bad thing because it also gives you wisdom. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about finally getting comfortable in my own skin. It took time to figure that out, and it wasn’t an easy discovery. I am not saying life is always peaches and cream, just the opposite in fact. But I have read enough books about how negative society can be, how all kinds of media can prey on men and women and how such unrealistic expectations are completely worthless. Each page I turned made me realize how much easier my own battle would have been with these recitations and realizations about body image and health. I know my experience with an eating disorder led me to the path of learning to love food, to learn how it nourishes our bodies and what I can do to make myself stay vibrant from the inside out. It led me to develop a stable relationship with exercise and listen to my body. I know when to reach for goals and when it’s time to back off. God allowed the failures of my early twenties to open the door and discover happiness and confidence. How poetic His pathways can be for us when we are simply still, listening unfiltered to His words.

I have often wondered if my experience would ever help prevent someone from going down the path of destruction as I did in college. I was one of the lucky ones who made the turn before real damage was done to my body and my mind. Yes, it took some time to heal physically and mentally from my experiences, but it was peanuts compared to what some boys and girls go through with an eating disorder. And unfortunately, it all starts at such a young age, often before kids hit double digits. Coming back to the town I grew up in to raise my own family, I see small glimpses of destruction and I want to reach out and stop the train wreck I know will happen in a few years to these individuals. How sad is that? Our children are finding out at such an early age what self-worth is and isn’t in life. It makes my stomach flip and is why I am so protective of my own children, especially my daughter. I will fight for her and fight hard to keep her on the path I wished I had stayed on years ago. I have my ammunition ready for whatever battle I face. I just wish I could protect all the soldiers out there who will succumb to the unrealistic expectations lurking out in the real world.

Thank you, Susan Jaramillo, for being brave enough to share your story with the world. It gave me the strength to share my own story in hopes it might touch someone.   Perhaps it will permit someone feeling lost and forgotten to stop and smell the roses. Allow someone to realize they are shining stars amongst a sea of darkness called Reality.

If you know someone suffering or if you are suffering from an eating disorder, please have the strength to get help.   Find a friend or loved one to confide in. There is no shame in what you are experiencing. The shame comes from ignoring the problem and letting it fester like an open wound. Power comes with knowing how to heal oneself, and that power lies within you. Although I was able to work through my issues alone, there are some out there that may need the love and support of outside help. It can be hard for the friends and family of someone suffering from eating disorder to disassociate their feeling and emotions from the problem at hand. They are too connected to the person suffering from the disease. If this is where you find yourself, there are also countless third-party resources available, like the National Eating Disorder Awareness website (www.nedawarness.org), to provide direction. Counselors and therapists are specialized to help people heal from this disease and can hold an individual’s hand through the walk of recovery. Or simply talking to someone recovering from his or her own disorder, such as myself, could be a great place to begin the pathway to freedom. If you know someone suffering from an eating disorder, reach out to that person; give them the confidence they need to find a way out of those invisible chains of destruction. You never know what people really need unless you first open up your heart to them. Eating disorders are a silent disease that can be cured, treated and overcome.

For anyone who needs an anonymous ear to listen, I can be reached at sbrhodes@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

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The second day of January reminds me a little of Ash Wednesday after a gluttonous Fat Tuesday.  New Year’s Day usually involves trying to remember resolutions and finding the jar of aspirin to calm that raging Champagne headache.  But the second day of January usually entails gym memberships and healthy diet plans.  Today I was thinking as I start this new year how I need to get back in the saddle on things, especially my diet.  I don’t really worry too much about the holiday season, especially the two weeks my children are home from school because staying on track with a body-healthy diet takes up time and energy I don’t have to spare. Perhaps you are “Supermom” or “Superdad” and can do this, but this mom is realistic and knows where to pick her battles.  Kale smoothies and beet juices are not going to be one of them.  And thankfully the gym stays in my normal routine because it is the only place in town with a kid-friendly “parental reprieve” for stressed-out moms and dads.  So I know when the walls are crashing down at home I can always turn to my window of “free” time at my gym.

Now that the holidays are officially over I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to work my way back into cooking the foods I love because in a couple of days my kids will be back in a routine and life will calm down for a while.  One of my dear friends gave me a cookbook for my birthday.  Now I love a new cookbook, especially one that involves mind, body and soul.  It just makes me want to go home and start whipping up dish after dish.  This cookbook, entitled “Eat Yourself Calm,” by Gill Paul, teaches what foods are considered calming to the human body based on whatever ailment you may be suffering.  It explains what superfoods, minerals and vitamins are great to help with issues ranging anywhere from depression to headaches.  When I first got the book I flagged several recipes to try and tonight I cooked the lamb stew.  According to the cookbook (co-written with a nutritionist), the ingredients in this recipe are linked with easing depression, sleeplessness, headaches and low energy.  There are definitely a few of those I have experienced recently and on a rainy night, the stew sounded comforting.

The recipe called for lean lamb stew meat, lamb stock (which I used homemade beef broth), beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, shallots, bouquet garni, flour (which I swapped for brown rice flour), sea salt, black pepper and cherry tomatoes.  One thing you need to do when you cook stew meat, especially lamb, is to simmer it for a while on a low heat.  This is where the stock or broth came in because I used it to help tenderize the meat after browning it in the skillet for a few minutes. Although the recipe called for beans, I decided to omit them for the simple fact I did not have any at home.  I also swapped out the green beans for Brussels sprouts for the very same reason.  The lamb is supposed to aide in breathlessness, the sprouts handle concentration and forgetfulness and the tomatoes help relieve headaches.  I poured the finished product over some brown basmati rice and was really surprised how light the stew was, considering how thick and hearty it appeared to be in the end.  The brown rice I used is supposed to help with several factors, including low energy, mood swings, depression and even sleep problems.

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I am excited to try out a few more recipes in this cookbook and to maybe gain a few ideas for making up my own meals to get myself back on track with a calm and healthy lifestyle (or at least aim for that most days!).  Whatever your resolution may be this year, I highly recommend buying a cookbook to help jump start your goals or to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.  And remember you can always change up ingredients in a recipe to make it fit your lifestyle, so don’t be scared to experiment!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017!

 

Discovering the Essence of Time

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I have not had much time to post on my blog lately.  The holidays are starting and I find myself using up my spare moments getting ready for turkey dinners and holiday parties.  It’s a great time of year, but a very hectic one and the stress levels can often rise higher than a person desires.  Today I have been thinking about time, but not time in the sense of business meetings and various appointments.  No, the time I have contemplated on today has been God’s time.  I don’t usually write about my religion or my love for God on my blog  for the simple fact my thoughts are very personal.  But today I can’t seem to get Him out of my head, so it must mean I need to get Him onto paper and in this blog.

As a planner, having someone remind me that God’s timing in life is not going to coincide with what I want can be a little annoying.  Why can’t it all just work out and fit into a nice clean mold?  It won’t do that, and unfortunately, life takes an exuberant amount of patience (something I seriously lack!).  With events that have taken place recently in my life, I find myself amazed how God can put people directly into my path just when I need them.  I may not recognize it at the moment, but eventually, I get the “ah, well what do you know” kind of realization.  And He does this on His own timing after I have come to Him for help.  I feel like I had that recently, His timing on some things I didn’t even see coming.

The holidays are not always the happiest of times for people, including myself.  I miss those who are not longer with me, but I love to see the joy of the Season on my children’s faces.  If things in your life seem bumpy or uncertain, just remember we are not working on a typical schedule.  Life does not pan out according to our timing.  What we need and when we get it are not decided by us but are laid out in a delicate pattern by something greater than ourselves.  We are not supposed to understand the “whys” or “whats” of a situation.  It is easy to go through the motions and disassociate ourselves from what really matters.  I am just as guilty of doing this as the person next to me in line at the grocery store.  But every once in a while we get a smack upside the head and a gentle voice whispers to us, “I am here, and you are truly loved by Me.”

Until next “time,”

Cheers!

Finding Your Zen Moment

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If you are a fan of 90’s comedy, you may recall the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  The entire premise behind this film is repeating the same day over and over again.  As a mom of two, I feel like I LIVE this movie.  The alarm goes off, run downstairs to get liquid fuel (STRONG coffee), kids dressed, kids’ breakfast served, lunches made, kids’ teeth brushed, shoes on then out the door.  Wait, I just locked the door and realized I still am wearing pajamas-what the?!?

How easy it is to find ourselves in a rut that has us doing the same thing over and over again without stopping to smell the roses.  I find it can be the quickest way to drain the happiness tank no matter how positive a person you may be in life.  Going back to my new “journal” on happiness (see previous posts), a couple of lists involved naming things I am really good at and what gets me out of my head.  What gets me out of my head?  My goodness, just going to the bathroom without two children, two dogs and a cat would be a “get me out of my head” moment! But I did contemplate these two things and made myself step outside of my comfort box and really evaluate what I feel I do best and how that helps me “get out of my head.”  Basically, I discovered how many of the things I felt I was really good at doing also helped me find that zen moment.

What really constitutes finding your “zen moment?”  I thought about things that help me find inner peace and calmness.  Yoga, writing, listening to calming music, those are just a few things I listed that help me become relaxed.  You don’t have to sit and meditate to find  zen.  I really think the list was trying to make me realize what I do to find peace and quiet throughout my day.  Tonight it was typing on my computer, drinking a nice glass of wine and burning a candle that smelled of sea salt and jasmine.  There are a million things we could list on paper to help us find inner calm and sanctity.  But why do we forgo such a necessity?  Do we feel guilty for simply discovering what helps us become the best version of ourselves?

I also started thinking about how important it is for women (okay, men too) who work, raise kids or both, to find those moments that have us step outside of our crazy, busy heads and find a moment.  Because doing so will help us be able to focus on and accomplish those things we are considered “good at doing.”  Besides putting down writing as one of my better qualities, I listed being a mom as something I feel good about.  Am I perfect, well, absolutely not!  But I do try hard each day I open my eyes and see the faces of my kids.  I don’t wake up thinking “man, I am going to yell and scream today at every stinking thing my kids do.  Yeah!” No, I really do make a conscious effort to be the best that I can be at whatever role I find myself in for the day.  Always a mom, but perhaps I need to be the friend who listens or the person to give someone a friendly “hello” at the grocery store.  I feel by finding what gets us out of our head and helps make us realize what we are good at can bless the rest of the people we encounter throughout the day.  It creates a sense of positivity and elation, something to be passed along to others around us.  I never really thought about that until I was forced to write it down on paper.

I like the fact I had to sit down and really think about the things which make me who I am without someone else having to point it out for me.  I don’t feel like I am being narcissistic or vain.  I am simply recognizing the gifts God has given me as a human being on this earth and what I can do to help others around me who have other talents I definitely lack.    It creates a sense of how we interact with one another in this world, no matter what role we have in it.  Finding that zen in your day, no matter how short or long it may take, also helps you discover the inner self to make you smile and show the world who you really are in life.  I challenge you to list things you feel you are good at and find things to help you get outside of your head.  And remember to take the time to zen yourself out during a typical busy day or week.  You never know, maybe it will be the key to your own happiness.

Cheers to you all today!

 

 

 

The “Whole” Enchilada

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After surviving my Anatomy and Physiology class I have finally rewarded myself with a much needed break.  It has been a long while since I have had a chance to read and research nutrition.  My books have collected dust on the nightstand next to my bed.  But now I am back in the game and I am loving what I am learning.  A couple of friends had told me about a new book and nutrition regiment called “The Whole 30.”  Based upon the book, “It Starts With Food,” Dallas and Melissa Hartwig address the idea how the food we eat each day is harming our body and could be the possible root to many illnesses and diseases ailing the general public.  It is not the first book I have encountered in my readings to hit upon this idea, but I always enjoy learning what each individual’s personal take is on the theory.

When I say the “food” we eat I mean the overly processed, meal-in-a-box variety that haunts a majority of our grocery shelves.  The need for quick meals and food at our fingertips began when our society grew and expanded decades ago.  Instead of growing vegetables, using local markets and eating “closer to the earth,” our society’s on-the-spot demand for products led to mass-produced quantities of canned this, dehydrated that, all carried large-haul shipments across the nation and around the world.  To preserve food, companies had to find a way to keep it from spoiling while traveling to your grocer’s shelf.  Begin the era of additives, preservatives and food dyes.  There is enough room to write about this phenomenon, but I am not going to boggle you down in those details.  It is worth research, though, just so you can be a more proactive consumer.

Today we are becoming more educated, mainly because our health has slowly deteriorated.  Although a lot of companies still use preservatives and such in their products, many are taking notice of what consumers are asking for and removing some of those harmful things.  But you still run into the problem of keeping food from spoiling, and this still requires some sort of preservative or less-than-natural additive in food.  And this is where much of the problem arises today.  I mean, how many of you have been to a restaurant and seen bottles of mayonnaise sitting on the tables instead of in the refrigerator? That is the stuff that makes my stomach flip a little and want to run the other way.

I have always been someone that tried to eat healthy, but ignorance was my enemy and I made a lot of mistakes.  I ate low-fat, store-bought foods and completely missed the forest for the trees.  Instead of looking at the ingredient lists of what I ate, I always payed attention to the calorie and fat content.  I am not saying those things are not of major concern, but they are definitely only a piece of the proverbial pie in today’s nutritional regiments.  Now I am more concerned about what a product has in it in addition to making sure it is not loaded with saturated fat, sodium and trans-fats.  But that isn’t really enough for me, and I want to go a step further and get closer to eating things with ingredients I can say.  I want to open up my refrigerator and see more condiments and food that I made with ingredients I want to use so I know it will be good for my body.

This is how I ended up becoming interested in The Whole 30 program.  So now I am setting out on an endeavor and trying to adhere to the 30 day eating regiment and see if I feel as great as others claim to feel.  I am excited to learn how to make my own ketchup, BBQ sauce and other food items with the ingredients I want my family to eat.  Today marks a full week on the program.  Was I perfect?  No, but I tend to not do well with really strict regiments.  I just love the process of flavors, textures and such when I cook.  But I will say I stuck with it until the weekend.  I had a few missteps in the form of Vodka, red wine (my ultimate indulgence) and a few birthday cookies.  But I was more conscious of what I was eating and why.  So I still feel the Whole 30 was in my head and working because I was being mindful of what I ate on the “naughty” list, and I took the time to enjoy each bite.  I never would have done that before this trial, diving head first into a delicious cookie without really tasting it.  Hope that makes sense, but it is truly how I felt when I sat and thought about my week.  I never felt guilt, I guess I just appreciated and sensed flavors better after having an entire six days with really good, whole foods that didn’t have a lot of additives, sugar or other stuff I can’t pronounce (or even type correctly).  I am A-Okay with that too.

I will check in again after going through another week of the program and trying out some new recipes.  I think once I get the hang of cooking in this mindset, I will be able to become more adventuresome in my cooking.  For right now, I am pulling things from the books.

The hardest part of this program is not being able to drink wine.  That is such a cultural thing for me, and I do miss all its pomp and circumstance.  So I am not going to beat myself up when I slip and have a glass, or two, of something fruity and fabulous.

If you are interested in checking out the Whole 30 program, I highly recommend reading the book “It Starts with Food.”  It gives you a lot of the  reasoning and science behind the program.  Those are two areas I am extremely interested in, so I read every single page and added lots of highlights.  If you are not into that and just want to find a good regiment to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, then just get the Whole 30 book/recipe guide online or at your local bookstore.

For any other information, just visit the web site at http://www.whole30.com.  There you can read a bit about the authors, their educational background and get insight from others who have adhered to the program.

Wish me luck as I continue on, and I promise to be open and honest about my progress!

Until next time,

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Thieves

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I was watching television last night and a Target commercial popped up on screen. The notion behind this commercial was “time thieves.” Now, in college, I did a lot of analysis on commercials and other various forms of media (Communication Studies was my major). I loved doing this because if you haven’t noticed so far, there is a lot of subliminal information inside commercials! Television shows and made-for-TV drama episodes, okay, that we get. But a commercial? Seriously? Oh yeah, baby. They are cocked and fully loaded.

So I sat there, mindlessly watching this commercial when suddenly I thought, “wait, ‘time thieves’ and you’re showing a dad holding a baby? Oh this is good stuff.”   So I quickly grabbed a pen and pad of paper to jot down a few things floating through my head, wanting to save them for the next time I found myself alone and with my thoughts. Have you ever considered the notion of a “time thief?” I know I am putting way too much thought into this, but it was brilliant from an advertising standpoint. Especially for Target Corporation. The sophisticated version of Wal-Mart in America has clenched the store’s proverbial campaign slogan in less than 90 seconds. What better way to attract customers than to tell them that no matter what their “time thief” is in life, Target has a way to get you in and out of the door with all you need to survive the day! Damn…I really need to get out more. I think Thomas the Train is rotting my brain.

Now my mind is rolling, and I start typing about thieves and such, the wheels continue to churn. And I think about how my day has progressed, the events that came into play with my actions. Here is a little snip-it.

Let me explain how this particular evening started. On this day, I had a parent/teacher conference with my daughter’s teacher. During the conference, the teacher was telling my husband and I about how well our daughter was doing in school, and how her grades, attitude and personal ambition were spot on for the kid’s age. So leaving that meeting I am feeling great about being the mother I am. Like I have just conquered a huge obstacle in life. I AM the mother of this child whose teacher thinks she is perfection in a box. And then I come home. I come home to a tired, hungry girl who is miffed that I didn’t bring her white rice from her favorite Asian restaurant (white rice, I mind you). So after yet another huge meltdown with my daughter I find myself yearning to just hug her and ask her why we do this all the time.   I sit her down and look her straight in the eye and ask her these questions, yet this 6-year-old child is trying hard not to laugh?!? I am thinking to myself, Sweet Jesus, am I missing something here? Why am I the one upset and this child, whom five minutes ago was crying and carrying on about how awful I am and how horrible I am as a mother, is trying her damndest not to laugh at me!

The world exploded in ten minutes, like a bad horror movie, and Godzilla or JAWS didn’t even make the cut. What the hell?

Is it just me, or does anyone else on this Earth find it extremely ironic that when life seems to crap out on us, we find ourselves in a tizzy at home. One thing can go wrong during my day and the feelings or emotions I have from that moment rear their ugly head at the most inopportune time. A fight with my daughter, and I just want to literally curl up in a ball with a glass of wine and disappear from the world. These, ladies and gentlemen, are my “time thieves.” Being a mother, it is so hard. I never knew or understood the mental challenge this job was going to pose on me. The ups and downs are draining.   I am a parent, full-force and in the raw. My soul is bared when it comes to my children. They are such a part of me, in more ways than just the physical.   Yes, I carried them for 9 months, birthed them, have watched them grow. And yet, they are such a connection to me, a deep part of who I am as a person. I look at them and worry about their health, hope for their happiness, fear for their future and love them with all my heart—all the emotions that makes a person breathe each day. I feel these feeling through my children, both the positive and the negative aspects of this “being” called a “mother.”

Are my kids “time thieves?” Hardly not. I just let the attitudes and emotions take away from the environment they inhabit.

Recently I read a great quote by Flannery O’Connor, which stated, “The first product of self-knowledge is humility.” I love this quote because it speaks to me on so many levels. Like the Target commercial, I can see where our self –knowledge can be a time thief because we often lack the humility to really ask ourselves what bothers us? What are the triggers that cause the crap to go on in our lives? Okay, okay, so maybe this is a bit deep for a Target commercial, but do you see where I am trying to make a connection here? We all have “time thieves” in our lives. They may be the grumpy guy next to you in the grocery store, or a child’s outrageous bad mood over not getting white rice. Perhaps it is a fight with your parent or spouse, or even idle gossip about everything and nothing. The point is they are time thieves. They are the things stealing away our ability to gather all the good stuff in our Target carts to get us through the day. Someone on Target’s advertising team hit a goal with this latest TV spot, and Don Draper didn’t even have a say in the ordeal.

Time, something we all have, and yet, seem to all lack enough of in life. So maybe I should start keeping more things on the shelf when I stroll through Target and start being more selective about what I decide to put in my own “cart?”

To wrap up my late-night typing binge, a quote I have on my fridge to help me remember what the day really needs to behold:

“Kiss your life. Accept it, just as it is. Today. Now. So that those moments of happiness you’re waiting for don’t pass you by.”

Of course while I write, I like to have a glass of wine next to me. It just helps me think and sort my ideas and inspirations. And I have to tell you about a new treasure I had this time around. A great Napa Valley Family, the Wagner Family, has produced some of this region’s most splendid cabernets. Caymus wines, and a slew of other red blends and superb whites, encompass the family’s wine empire. So to celebrate 40 years of the Caymus label, the family produced a special anniversary bottle. The 2012 Napa Valley cabernet anniversary edition has been released and let me tell you, it is awesome.

I found this wine, thanks to a good friend of mine, at our local grocery store. I love Caymus because they have always held up on taste, balance and ability to cellar for decades time and time again. This special edition wine bares the same resemblance as its sister bottles. When I opened up the wine and first tasted it, the wine itself was tight and complex. I tasted typical cabernet flavors of currant and blackberry, with hints of oak and even a hint of dark cherry. But as the wine sat and really opened up over the next hour or two, the flavors mellowed and smoothed. I think this bottle will cellar great, or you can drink it now if you find yourself purchasing a bottle. Just remember to decant and let it sit open for an hour to truly appreciate its splendor. For $70 a bottle, you can’t beat the chance to taste a great bottle from the Wagner family without completely breaking the bank.

Until next time, cheers!

Breathe

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It has been months since I have had a chance to write on this blog. Who knew that trying to keep up with something simple like a weekly splurge of whatever nonsense is rattling around in my brain would be like trying to stop a runaway train?

Why do I find it so hard to get daily life to stop long enough for me to take a moment and do something I absolutely crave, which is writing? Oh wait, I know why. I have kids, a husband and a million other nitpicky things to do every day. The time for sudden inspiration usually travels much like my words of advice to my 6-year-old daughter: in one ear and out the other.

Then yesterday I was in church with my family and inspiration finally struck! It was during one of my favorite songs, “Breathe,” by Michael W. Smith. As I listened to the lyrics I suddenly realized how important this one simple word is to each of us. We live in such a crazy, fast-paced life nowadays that many of us take very little time to just simply “breathe.” We are wired and running to the next destination, the next phone call or the next text message. News channels run tickers constantly updating us on important (and unimportant) information going on across the globe. Breathing is something that comes as a necessity to live, but do we really live to breathe?

To give you an example, the other day my husband threw out the notion of having a third child. I first laughed off the comment, thinking it was just a joke we had been sharing together. If you have met our son, you would understand our laughter.  He is an amazing child, but as they say, “is all boy!”  He runs on full-speed from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning until his head hits the bed at night.  He is fearless, energetic and very vocal…and he is just two.  So it has actually been a running joke about throwing a baby in the mix of things, until I saw the look in my husband’s eyes.  Oh boy, something told me it wasn’t just a quick laugh.  A nervous giggle escaped my mouth as my mind suddenly started to churn. Should we have a third kid? So if I got pregnant now, then maybe the baby would have a warmer birthday? Oh my gosh, can I even handle a third child right now!?!

The panic set in, not severe, but enough to make me feel like a total jerk for wanting to say “no” to my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I adore our kids, and love being a mom. It’s like the perfect off-Broadway satyr, full of mischief, laughter, love and anger. But right now, where we are in our lives, having two kids makes for busy, busy times. And then you throw an infant in the mix, and all the things that go with it (late nights, early mornings, diapers, shots…the list goes on and on), how chaotic would it get? And could I handle that? Especially when I feel like I have finally reached a place in my life where I can simply “breathe.”

When both kids are in their respective schools, I have the ability to run errands, work out, go to the grocery or sit in the library and type on my computer without having a kid to chase or look after. For you moms out there, it is like an Herbal Essence hair commercial. You want to scream “Yes!” to the rooftops because for a few short hours you can focus on making time for yourself or just simply get a long, hot shower. I can “breathe.”

If you have never listened to the song “Breathe,” then you should get online and look it up. At least look up the lyrics, for they speak to all of us in some way. The words speak about need, about being desperate for love, about having daily nourishment and about being lost without this necessary “breath.” Smith is talking about Jesus and His love for us, about the need to read God’s Word everyday for sustenance. But Smith’s song reaches further than that for me. It bridges the connection about what I not only need from my faith, but what I also need from life in general. Like a trainer telling you to breath during a grueling set of push-ups, this song was making me really think about what it means to step back and take in all that is going on around me. To reconnect to what I often loose in the middle of making lunches or changing diapers.

Don’t we all need to take more time to heal ourselves from the punches life has thrown us? Instead of trying to jump right into the next activity or run to the next destination, wouldn’t it be therapeutic to meet a friend for coffee and find out how he or she has been? Why shouldn’t we get a sitter and have dinner with our significant other on a weekly or monthly basis as a way to keep the breath flowing in our marriages? The answer here is simple and straightforward. We need and should do these things. To stop and smell the roses, take in a ballgame and forget for just a moment the constricting vices we have tangled ourselves up with everyday. We all simply need to “breathe.”

Will it be easy? No. Will I fail at my own advice? Probably more often than I care to admit. But what we should probably focus on here is the fact we are conscious of the idea. Perfection is impossible for human beings, but constantly striving to reach it makes us all come together under the same umbrella. It is the thought that counts, right?  No one said Rome was built in a day. So today, tomorrow or whenever you find the time, take a moment to really “breathe” like I did this past Sunday. I bet you will find yourself feeling a little more rejuvenated in mind, body and soul.

Speaking of letting something breathe, I can’t think of a more perfect subject, and of course it is wine. Depending on whom you ask, having a bottle of wine for any occasion can be a presentation. Selecting the label, noting the year or vineyard and choosing the proper glass. Once opened, there is even the smelling of the cork (if the bottle has one), analyzing whether it “held” or not while the wine was being cellared. Yet, the most important part of the entire presentation is letting a bottle, especially a full-bodied cabernet or Bordeaux, breathe for a period of time before you start to drink it. Much like the “breath” we should often take in our own lives, a wine blooms and expands to its full capacity after it has encountered a good dose of oxygen. One can catch the true aroma, or nose, of the wine after it has been left open for minutes or sometimes hours. The flavors of a wine can soften and relax after sitting uncorked on the counter or in a decanter. Either way, wine needs that moment to show the world what it has to offer. Do you see the correlation here? Now take a deep breath and…ahhhh.

Until next time, cheers!