Thursday, May 25, 2017

Treat yourself how you want to be treated. Wait. What?!

Treat others how you want to be treated. That's how the old saying goes. We've all heard it before. But what about treating yourself how you want to be treated by others, or as you do treat others...?!
Why is it that we have no problem being kind, understanding and forgiving to our friends and family members but we have a hard time doing the same when it comes to ourselves? At least for me, that is the case. I'm the first to offer someone reassurance, support or kindness in an effort to soothe their pain or anger, but yet I'm so much harder on myself in similar situations.
I said early on that I would be open and transparent about my journey and all that comes with it, so in an effort to stay true to that I have to acknowledge some of my weaknesses that are difficult to admit. One of those flaws is I can be my own worst enemy at times. I can pretty much think my way out of an accomplishment or turn a compliment or happy moment into a not so great one, if I don't put a stop to it. I can be critical and judgmental of myself. And as much as I've been saying and thinking that I want to grow, improve, and change for the better, when it comes down to it, it's much easier said than done. That's when the real work comes in.
As part of the program I'm on I chose to try a few sessions with a life coach (as recommended by my doctor to help me work on my inner-self while I work to transform my physical health) and I had my second session recently. So far my life coach, Kimberly, has been helping me set goals, determine how to accomplish them and in the process, helping me face a lot of my fears and inner demons, by taking a good hard look inward. She's pushing me to be honest with myself about what I'm capable of, what kind of person I am and want to be, and what I need out of this life in order to be my best self. And as easy as it is to type all that out, it's a thousand times harder to share some of those truths out loud with another person. She asks the hard questions, like how are you showing up in all aspects of your life? Are you happy with your relationship with yourself and relationships with others? And of course it's easy to say, "Yes, I'm doing well. Things are moving along as they should." Just like it's easy when someone says, "Hey, how are you?" And you reply, "Good! How about you?" almost automatically. But really, what does "good" actually have to say if that's everybody's standard response?
If you asked yourself, are you truly happy with everything in your life, what would be your answer?  Because it seems to me when we take the time to pause, I mean really take a few moments to stop, reflect, and let some of our feelings surface, we may find that some or much of the time we aren't truly happy really, we're mostly just caught in the grind or running through the motions to get by and putting up a front that everything's fine. It's almost as if society conditions us to do if that's the best way to keep up with everyone else. But when you are alone with yourself and your thoughts, is that really the case?
Now I'm not saying that it's wrong to have a positive attitude or keep things cordial for the sake of small talk when you do get asked that question. By all means, you should have a positive attitude and be friendly with others. And I'm not saying when someone asks how you're doing that you should launch in to a long explanation of everything that isn't going well in your life. But maybe we could all ask ourselves the question and take a few moments out of our day to be open and honest with our answer--when theres on pressure to please, and no judgement being passed. If you're anything like me, you may find it hard to admit that some days you really aren't fine and you're really not treating yourself all that well. That can take a real toll on a person when that goes on for an extended period of time. Imagine if there was someone at work or school or in your family that constantly put you down, criticized or undermined you. There's only so much a person can take before it starts to make them upset or rattles them at their core. It has the same impact when it's your own doing.

I don't know why I'm always so afraid to fail or admit I'm scared, damaged, flawed; perhaps because I've been led to believe that would make myself appear weak or broken, leaving me unwanted. Or maybe it's more that I'd be putting my heart out in the open, leaving potential for me to get hurt. But by being vulnerable and taking a risk, I'm finding I have only much bigger, better things to gain. Like strength, confidence, security in myself and my relationships and greatest of all, love. All those things can lead to achieving true happiness. Sure, there are always going to be circumstances we can't control that test us or get in the way, such as other people's actions, who's president ;) and even the weather!! But we can control our own thoughts, feelings and actions. It's not always easy to do so, but it's possible. And by opening our minds to the possibility that we are all humans, who are imperfect and flawed,  we can learn not to be so hard on ourselves.  Creating an environment where people are supporting and routing for one another starts with doing the same for yourself. We can be more forgiving of ourselves and in turn be more accepting of others, who may likely be in the same boat. That way we won't have to be so afraid of what will happen if we slip or fail. And we'll be more likely to take that leap or go out on that limb. Because we'll know there's a safety net out there that will break the fall and help us bounce back up and try again. 

I've had to say things out loud I haven't told anybody before because she's pressed further and dug deeper. But once I acknowledged my truths, I found not only ways to repair myself, but a different more positive way of thinking and treating myself... and I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted. Literally even, the lump I had felt in my chest wasn't there and I could breathe easier. I had let go of the negative thoughts that weigh me down. 
And another awesome thing I noticed after I spent some time tending to my own needs... when you take good care of yourself and find that you're in a good place, you are better armed and able to help and take care of others in your life. 
There's always going to be an excuse or reason for you not to slow down, take a break, or refocus; but if you continue to ignore the needs and desires your mind, body and soul are longing for, you're turning down a chance to grow and reach your full potential.  The down side to that is it could only be so long before the damage being done to your relationship with yourself affects how you're performing at work, school, home, or worse, your relationships with family and friends. 
 Negative thoughts and feelings can consume you or just take up lots of unwanted space.  You'll be amazed at the happiness you can let in and beauty you'll notice around you after you've let go of those weights you're carrying! Boosting your ability to thrive and be a happier healthier human.

On that note...time for me to pack for a long weekend in Denver, CO.  I'm so excited to explore a new place and the adventures to come! I'll try to report back on that next week. 

Have a wonderful LONG holiday weekend everyone! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Make it a Taco Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday--or in this case, Taco Tuesday! Tacos have become a pretty big staple in our house, probably because they are one of my husband's favorite foods (right up there with bacon and skittles), so as often we can, we like to make our Taco Tuesday tradition happen! This past week we took it up a notch.
I've always wanted to try making mango salsa, so with the little extra time on my hands ;), I went for it with a couple recipes I found on Pinterest!  I did two variations. One that included strawberries--yum!    Considering it was my first time cutting a mango and making salsa from scratch, I think they turned out pretty well!

And when we added this salsa to the 'carne asada' (slab of meat) my hubby had marinated and the other fixings, it was a divine combination! Now, I did have to make a couple modifications of my own to stick with my elimination diet, like avoiding cheese, tomatoes and any kind of sour cream, but by turning it into a taco salad on spinach and adding some avocado slices .... it was mighty tasty. There was enough flavor in the flank steak alone to make my mouth water, and I'm not typically much a of a red meat eater!

Here's a few other updates from this past week on what this elimination method has been like:

  • I'm truly enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen and try out new recipes. One night I made my new favorite, roasted sweet potatoes, along with trying a new spin on asparagus and also tried a dry rub on chicken that follows my guidelines. My husband fired up the grill to cook the chicken and dinner was ready in no time.  The end result (pictured right) was delish!
While there were a lot of up's this past week, there were also a few challenges I faced.
  • We went to a Tiger's game one evening and the selection of foods I could eat were pretty slim. I knew there wouldn't be anything sold at the concession stands for me but we had been invited into a suite that night so I figured I'd be okay. First things I see are chips, pretzel sticks, hot dogs, quesadillas and mac'n' cheese--not to mention there was a big jar of M&M's--one of my all-time favorite candies-- in front of my face several times throughout the night. Luckily there was also a salad, some cut veggies and fruit, and meat I was able to salvage and add to the salad.   It was SO hard for me not to eat the M&M's though....I had to tell the people around me that it was my goal not to eat them in order to hold myself accountable, and somehow I managed to do it. Phew.
  • Another day while shopping at Target (on a nearly empty stomach) I found myself strolling the snack/chips/sweets aisles. Everything I saw I wanted to eat! It was torture. At one point I even had a bag of chocolate covered cherries in my hands, tempted to buy it. But I knew those had some ingredients, mainly tons of SUGAR, that weren't going to help with what I'm trying to work towards and it would be impossible to avoid them once they were at my house. So I put them down and walked away. Another win for me! 
  •  On short notice, my husband's plans to golf one evening had changed, resulting in him being home for dinner. I had to sit across the table from him and watch him eat thin crust pepperoni pizza that looked delicious, as I begrudgingly ate some leftover salad from lunch. My will power was really being put to the test this week!
  • On top of that, what started out as a gorgeous week turned into a gloomy/grey/rainy weekend and between that and some symptoms I experienced from supplements I started taking, I was feeling pretty crummy. I took it as a sign to slow down a bit and get some rest. Maybe it was my body's way of making me do so, because I even attempted some exercise a couple times and I could just tell it wasn't making me feel well. 
Focusing on the bright side of it all, I was able to resist some major temptation, make a couple new recipes and I remained active throughout the week which all resulted in me feeling good about my decisions and my progress.
These kinds of tests and temptations are going to happen in life on a regular, almost daily basis. Eating out with friends and family, going to sporting events, concerts, parties, etc., and being around people who are not eating the way you do. It's always going to be more challenging to make the healthier choice. I mean if you have a pizza and salad in front of you, isn't a piece of pizza always going to look/sound more appetizing than a salad? Yes. But I had to remind myself again why I'm doing this. If I want to FEEL my best I have to start with doing my best to eat right. And good things come to those who work their asses off and don't give up (not to those who wait, in this case)!

Now get out there and enjoy what's left of your Taco Tuesday ;)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kindness. Pass it on.

Yesterday felt like it was meant to be. I couldn't have planned for it to happen that way but there's something about the way things fell into place. It felt like there were special forces on my side, like the stars had aligned for me, and I wish all days were like that. It could have been just an ordinary day, but each positive instance elevated my day to make it an extraordinary one.

Per usual the morning went quickly. I tried to get a couple small things accomplished before I headed out for a belated Mother's Day lunch with my mother-in-law. I needed to pick up my husband's dry cleaning but it was from a place in the same plaza as where we were eating, how convenient! Or so I thought.  For once, I arrive to the restaurant early so I decide to go pick up the dry cleaning I had dropped off for him last week. Mind you it was ready to be picked up the previous Thursday morning and it was now Monday (Oops). Much to my surprise when I arrive at the front door of dry cleaners, the place is deserted, everything inside is GONE and there's a handwritten sign on the door that says:

 'We've Belleville'.

First things that go through my mind: Belleville! What the heck! I don't even know where that is but it sounds far! Not to mention the anger and disappointment I'll have to face from my husband if it turns out his nice sport jackets have gone missing. I quickly call the phone number listed, explain my situation and am told our belongings were moved to the new location. I look it up, it's twenty some miles away. Could be worse I guess. I head back to the restaurant to meet my mother in law and we have a really nice lunch together.  Afterward, I decide to do another lap in the parking lot of the plaza since it's so beautiful outside and I'm about to be in the car for an extra hour with the addition of this trip to Belleville. I see an older man approaching the cleaners with his arms full of clothes. When I get close enough I tell him the place is closed/shut down. He looks as baffled as I'm sure I did. "Belleville?" He says. "Forget it, I'm not going out there!" Ha-ha. He asks me a couple questions and we chat for a bit. Turns out this sweet man's name is Joe. He mentions he lost his wife last year and he's really wishing she was still around. His mother-in-law is 94 and has been having some accidents lately that could have led to starting her house in fire if he hadn't been there to prevent it. That and there's just certain things a son-in-law can't help an elder lady with, things his wife would normally be able to do. We talk about how he should get some extra help keeping an eye on his mother-in-law. We exchange names and I try to point him in the direction of the next nearest dry cleaners. Such a sweet man. It warmed my heart to talk to him for a couple minutes and I hoped our chat brought him some good feelings too.
After that it was off to Belleville, where thankfully, they were able to find our belongings unscathed! Perhaps things are looking up today. Next I head to our favorite market for few a groceries. It feels a little strange to be grocery shopping on a week day during normal business hours, but I'm enjoying that it's not quite as busy! Before long, I run into the gentleman who sells/stocks wine there, that my husband and I often see when we're there together on weekends, and we get to chatting, too. Somehow it's alluded that I'm not at work today and I give him a brief synopsis of my situation. He applauds my decision and tells me him and his wife are in a similar situation. She's really unhappy with her job and at the end of the day they're not sure it's worth it for her to keep sticking it out. They have a 6-month old daughter to take care of and I think that has him thinking about the more important things in life. I concur and tell him I'm not putting pressure on myself yet to figure out my next move, just going to take it in stride one day at a time. "Well if you're looking you should come work for me, selling wine. You could work part-time if you wanted. I think you'd like it a lot." Learning about different types, brands and regions of wine and helping people pick kinds they'd like? Sounds like a pretty good gig to me! I tell him I'll have to keep that in mind and I may have to take him up on that offer someday when I'm ready. We wish each other well and I check out.

Next stop, the nearest car wash I can find on my way home. I pull up and tell the young guys working I want the mid-level/cost car wash and I give them a $2 tip. One of the guys eyes light up and he says, "we're going to give you a free upgrade to the top-car wash!" and they proceed to do so. Wow,  another nice surprise!  Is it just my luck today or is it karma? Either way I'm thankful. I went about my business with a positive outlook and I received kindness in return.  If the dry cleaning incident would have happened while I was working, I'm sure I would have been quite pissed off to find I had to go that far out of my way, on top of whatever other stress I was dealing with from work that day. If I wouldn't have decided to get a little extra fresh air, I wouldn't have met that nice man Joe. If I wouldn't have had to go to Belleville and arrived at the market earlier, I may have not run into our wine friend. And  if I would have got a car wash somewhere else along the way at a gas station I wouldn't have got a friendly free upgrade. Obviously I'm alluding to that a number of things could have happened to change the sequence of events of my day, and in fact it didn't go the way I had originally planned, but to my surprise, it was the best way it could have all happened. It was a case of  things happening for a reason that made me think we should worry less about the why and focus more on the how. The how as in, how are you going to react, think and feel if things don't go your way? Are you going to take the news that your dry cleaner moved to a different city badly and drive down the freeway with road rage because your day is spoiled now, or you going to sit back, relax and enjoy the detour and whatever else you may come across while on your way.

I often spend tons time making all these plans in advance and I get frustrated when things don't work out how I thought they were supposed to. But there's so much of life that you can't plan. You can't plan to live in the moment, you just have to start doing it as soon as you can. And if you can go about your day practicing kindness and thankfulness from one moment to the next, you're bound to discover a plethora of positive thoughts, feelings and experiences along the way. There may be a lot of things in life we can't control but choosing to think positively and being present in the moment seems like it would certainly all help us lead happier, less stressful lives. Besides, stressing and worrying about everything never gets me very far; and kindness can be contagious. We are in control of what we do, how we feel and who we surround ourselves with. So my message today is be kind. Be kind to yourself and to those around you. If we each spread even just a little bit of kindness in our lives each day, just think of the effect that could have in our small corner of the world.

<3 Our best attempt. <3

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Onto the next chapter!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was ready and able to finally take the next steps toward changing my life for the better, and I had put in my notice at work. I made up my mind to do this after sharing my plans, dreams and feelings with a friend who not only supported me but encouraged me to stop listening to the voices in my head telling me I couldn't or I shouldn't and go after my passion.To be able to share my thoughts out loud without judgement and actually get support that what I'm thinking and wishing could be true meant the world to me. Not that you should need validation from anyone else, but it was just what I needed to give me the boost to take that first step.

Well, my notice expired at the end of last week, the day before my birthday to be exact, (what great timing right?!) and today marks day 3 of my next chapter in life. I gotta tell ya, it doesn't feel as strange as I thought it would not going in to work every morning. I thought I would get bored real quick but boy was I wrong. It's been quite the opposite so far actually...I have more than enough to fill the days and keep me busy. I even feel like I could use more time in the days still!! But alas, it's only been a few days. Things could change, we shall see. :)

So, what do I plan to do on this hiatus from work, you're probably wondering? Well I'm glad you asked. I've got many things in the works--and many I am willing to bet I have yet to discover--but first and foremost, I'll be taking time to make my health and happiness my highest priority. What does that mean exactly? For me that involves taking time to myself, to destress, to listen to what my mind and body needs to feel and do my best, and to explore my interests and passions.

As part of that, I have decided to go on a holistic journey to determine what's causing physical ailments I have and what I need to do to heal. By seeing a holistic doctor and running several tests, I've determined this 'healthy-looking' lady has actually quite a bit ailing her inside. Besides the clear signs and symptoms of GERD/acid reflux, it turns out I have inflammation in my intestines, candida (an overproduction of the candida fungus in the intestinal tract, that's supposed to aid with the absorption and digestion of nutrients when in proper levels) and my pancreas and liver aren't functioning optimally. I'm also deficient in some crucial vitamins/minerals. Yikes!
All of this equates to the following symptoms: poor digestion, fatigue, mood swings, a weak immune system, yeast infections, depression/anxiety--just to name a few. Can anyone relate? None of those are fun to deal with on a regular basis--let me tell you! Therefore, over the past few weeks I've been eliminating food groups that have caused some of these issues or added irritable fuel to the fire already there. As I mentioned in a previous post, that meant removing gluten and processed foods right out of the gate. Since then I've added to the elimination, and am avoiding soy, tomatoes, peanuts, egg, dairy, shellfish and CORN--which is a biggie. No more tortilla chips for me. And now that my birthday and celebrations have come to an end, I'll have to remove alcohol for awhile too. Wah- wah. There is no doubt this is going to be a huge challenge, but I knew that when I signed on. Nobody said it would be easy, but will it be worth it? 100%.

From time to time I may provide updates on how that's going, especially if its really making an impact in my health and happiness. I'm hoping to share some recipes I stumble upon that turn out to be amazing and delicious--with being lean, clean and green as an added bonus! See below for a kale salad I came up with for lunch today and a recipe for raw chocolate fudge balls (delicious). I may also share some recipes that were total fails. There was this one time I tried to make spaghetti squash pasta and it didn't turn out so well--you can ask my husband about that one. He won't let me live it down any time I talk about trying something with spaghetti squash again. There may also be times I stumble, cheat, screw up or want to give up, because it's hard or I feel like I'm starving and all I want to do is take a bite of that homemade ice cream cookie sandwich that's hanging out in our freezer right now. But through it all, I promise to be always be transparent. Because let's face it, I am human and I don't want to take life THAT seriously. I am bound to slip-up or make a mistake. And when I do I'll acknowledge it, refocus and move forward! An attitude I'd urge anyone to have.

The other part of that journey to pursue my passion involves writing more (blogging in this case) and searching for work that ties into that or whatever else intrigues me. I want to find work, preferably paid work, that brings me fulfillment and is good for my soul. It'd be awesome to find an opportunity or cause that could become my passion project. I've got a couple ideas, but that part is definitely a work in progress too, as is much of my life! :) I'm going to give myself some more time to marinate on that.

Here's what my lunch looked like today...A kale/spinach/cucumber/beet/roasted sweet potato/carrot salad with balsamic vinegar! After taking this photo I chopped it into small pieces/bites!

And for chocolate lovers looking for dessert...a look at how my raw chocolate fudge balls came out looking with this recipe. These things are mighty tasty I must say for being gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, oil-free!

If you know of any yummy clean eating recipes that are easy to make feel free to share them! I'm always looking for the next thing to try out.

Monday, May 1, 2017


I'm not very good at introductions. A lot of times I sit here for minutes on end starting to type and then retracting, because I can't think of the "best way" to get started. So I'm going to just dive right in to what's on my mind.
Tonight I'm thinking about pressures we as human beings have put on us every day. Pressure we put on ourselves, and pressures that come from our peers, our parents, our bosses, our significant others, our kids (or pets who are like our kids). That's A LOT of pressures  for any person to handle on a daily basis isn't it?! I feel like we live in a world where a majority of our time is responding to these pressures and figuring out how to tolerate, fulfill, or overcome them. (Side note that while I'm typing this right now, a favorite song of mine called "Pressure" just came on. No joke!)
Let's start with the pressure we put on ourselves for example. For me this is probably one of the heaviest weighing pressures. Just yesterday, I got myself all in a funk because I made myself a to do list and I wasn't able to cross off a few things on there. I've always been a list person. It helps me organize all the thoughts swarming around in my crazy brain. Without lists, reminders, or my calendar, I highly doubt I would make it to half the obligations in my life. Anyways, yesterday was Sunday but it wasn't just a typical Sunday. I had spent the Thursday night through Saturday night prior in Las Vegas, pretty much going non-stop, as you typically do in Vegas, and I had a blast. No regrets there. But here I was with a free day and many things I would have liked to accomplish before heading into the work week-- and just not enough motivation to do them. In retrospect, I'm sure I needed the rest. Pretty much any amount time in Vegas (or any big city) requires recovery time; ESPECIALLY as the years go by and my ability to bounce back from partying gets less and less. For whatever reason though, I wasn't cutting myself that slack.  And I found myself in a really irritable mood and wondering why. I was even getting short with my mom on the phone and feeling really bad for being like that.
One of the things on my list I wanted to check off was writing a blog post in fact. Some psychoanalytical part of me wanted to keep on track with a cadence of posting regularly, but the there just wasn't much coming to mind for me to write about. Writer's block of some sort? Maybe. I forewarned my husband of how I was feeling, so my mood wouldn't be misinterpreted and lead to a fight, as it often has before. "Why do you think you're feeling like that?" He asked. "I don't know, I just am," I thought at first. But him asking prompted me to think about it a little further.
Was it really the I wasn't getting enough done? I mean, what was so wrong with taking the day off of my to-do list? All I could hear were the thoughts telling me I need to do this and I need to do that, but if I would have really listened to what I needed to do to feel my best, instead of all the things I felt pressure to get done, I probably would have realized it was a perfectly good opportunity for me to just relax and be where I wanted to be: comfortable on the couch with my cute husband.

As adults we sure have a lot of responsibilities, pressures, and reasons to stress. Honestly I wish life would prepare us more for all that comes with being an adult (Spoiler: it's not always that fun!). But it's how we decide to let those potential pressures impact us that makes the difference. Sure, there are always going to be pressures that are unavoidable and out of our control. There's the pressure, or more of a requirement really, to pay your bills and put food on the table. There's pressure to do the right thing and to make the right decisions;  and there may be pressure to live up to expectations of others or to keep up with the rest of your world. But the point I think I'm trying to make is we shouldn't let those pressures persuade us from doing what we really want/need to do to be happy. Especially if there are ones you're putting on yourself that you can let go of. Don't be so hard on yourself. Spend that quality time with those around you if you can.
After I made peace with all I didn't accomplish yesterday, I was able to focus on what I could do with a new day. Which brought me here to write, where I had wanted to be in the first place.
If your life or something in it doesn't feel right or if it's bothering you or giving you that unsettling, even irritating feeling, take that as a sign to investigate what you're really feeling that way about--whatever "it" is. I know often times its not that simple to say "no" to someone or  admit we aren't happy or take a leap and make a change. But often the more difficult or less obvious ways are the most rewarding. You've got to do what's best for you. Take care of you, first. And then when you're taking the best care of you, you can tackle all those items/goals/to-do's on your list. That's the lesson I'd like to learn today and every other day for that matter. It's one I always have trouble applying day in and day out. But I'm going to keep striving to get better and some day if I continue to work towards it, I will be.

Can you relate to feeling pressure in your every day life? How do you cope with the pressures you experience? Let me know with a comment below :)

To me this photo is a reminder to stop, take a deep breath and relax.  Imagine how relaxed you'd feel if that was your current view. Close your eyes, breathe and let go of the pressure that could be weighing you down in this moment.