Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday Mantra: You are a Gift

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: You are a gift
I'm going to tell you what I hope for the world. What I hope for myself. What I aim and fail for on a more than regular basis. What I wish I didn't see, but do. 

I'm going to tell you a secret.

Do you remember when you were a child? When the only things that mattered were the amazing boxes your presents came in, the joy of running around outside on your summer break, or the warmth of your grandparents rocking you to sleep. 

Do you remember this? 

When you were perfect exactly the way you were, with your chubby cheeks and your baby fat rolls, your curly hair that never stayed in place. Do you remember this time, the time before you had to be a certain size, have zero wrinkles, and tame every hair on your head? Do you remember the time before you were just a body, the time when you were an entire person- body, mind, and soul? When you were loved by everyone around you, not because you had blue eyes and blonde hair, but because you were a gift. A one-of-a-kind miracle never to be repeated again. 

Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I forget and I have to bring me back to myself, the me that is more than the skin that I live in. Sometimes, like this weekend,  it's because I hang out with people, like my mom, who can't stand to age or look older or be anything less than what they think is perfect.

I grew up with a lot of very wonderful, loving people. I grew up being told I could do anything I wanted as long as I never gave up. I was told I was perfect and beautiful just the way I was. But my mom was never perfect or beautiful enough, in her own eyes. My mom - who was voted the prettiest girl in high school by her football team and who still looks years younger than her actual age- refuses to age gracefully.

I've always wanted a person who could show me exactly what it would be like to appreciate getting older and wiser. Someone who could tell me about the triumph in giving up youth, for that is the thing for the young and the reckless and the wild. That's the thing for those who haven't yet learned about how the world turns, who haven't witnessed the miracle of  seeing their children grow up, who haven't experienced the adventure of living through all phases of life.

The someone I always wanted that person to be was my mom. As she gets older and more frequently complains about herself aging, I find myself fighting with her- for her. I want her to be my example. I want her to love herself. I want her to know she's more than a body and, selfishly, I want to learn how to do this from her. Unfortunately, we are the opposite of each other in many things, including this approach. In fact, in many instances these days, I am more the mother and she is more the daughter. It's devastating to me and she doesn't realize it, even after I tell her.

Sometimes I hate our world, so full of false perfectionism and idealism. So full of loving the wrong things and throwing away the right ones. Embarrassingly enough, I fall into these areas myself. More than I want. Which is why I have a very steep goal that I've been working on for many years now.

I've never really told anyone this, but one of the reasons I've always wanted to wait to have children until I was older is because I want to be ready- and more than the normal amount of what people think of as "being ready". I want to be the person I wish my mom was. I want to fully and honestly love myself, in and out, over and around, every which way. I want to embrace everything about myself that may change, and actually enjoy those changes. I want to have learned the art of patience with myself. And from all of this, all of these things, what I want the most is to be the example for my kids. Maybe the outside world will always be a crazy and wild place, where image counts for more than it should, but in my heart and in my home it won't be. You will be valued as a person. You will be valued because you are good, kind, wise and wonderful. You will be perfect exactly as you are and you will never, not ever, see me demonstrate anything other than that. 

I'm still working on this. 

I'll be 30 in a year and I'm excited. I'm excited to be the age I've always felt, the age I've been waiting for, for so long. Hopefully, this whole 2012 End of the World deal won't mess it up for me.  And if it doesn't, then I vow to celebrate every year after in full. I won't be 29 going on 30 for the second, third, or fourth time. I will be all the ages of my life. 

I want you all to know this: You are a gift. There is no one else like you and there never will be again. So be you. Love yourself. Love the life you have been given, even it it involves gray hair and wrinkles. Love each moment of your life, the good and the bad. Enjoy all the phases of your life, because regardless of your age, you are are still that beautiful, amazing, one-of-a-kind miracle child that is - and should always be - loved for who you are as a person, not for what you look like.

Be happy. Be yourself. Show the world how great you are. Show me.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Mantra: Try Something New

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: I will try something new each week

I am a creature of habit. Once I get into one there is small hope in the world that I'm ever going to get out of it. This is good and bad. Good- I floss every night like a boss. Bad- I take the same route home every day, so if a serial killer wanted to get me, well, they could. Side Note: If you are a serial killer, please ignore that prior comment. My dog needs me.

A month or so ago I decided I needed to get out of my recipe comfort zone and try some new things. Weekly. And at least two new recipes, at that. Now, I know I've left you in the dark with recipes lately, but I assure you, I've been trying out...oh...only about a kajillion of them since this plan was created. 

Therefore, without further adieu, I give you a fraction of what I've been cooking up in the kitchen. Most have been altered to remove white/brown sugar or anything else I just don't like. Basically.

This first one was a delicious disaster, if you ask me. But if you ask my boyfriend, well, then it was a complete failure because I needed 4 bowls, 2.5 mixing utensils, and a microwave, which I don't own. That little bit of drama aside, it was super yummy, and for those of us that can never eat anything fun because it's all ridden with the evil GLUTEN, this will make you happy.

Popcorn Indiana- Can be found
at Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.
Peanut Butter Kettle Corn
Original Recipe Taken from Vital Juice

I have shifted this slightly to make it easier for those of us that do not own microwaves and those other ones of us who don't want to break their teeth on corn kernels, Ryan. 

2 Cups of pre-popped, sea salt popcorn from Popcorn Indiana
1 TBSP of Maple Syrup (The Vermont kind IS the best, I assure you)
1 TBSP either Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, etc.

Heat the syrup and the peanut butter in a microwave, if you own one, or if you're like me and don't, heat it in a small pot on the stove. Make sure you melt it good- This is important! Put the popcorn in a large bowl and pour the syrup/nut butter combination over it, mixing it all together well. You can drizzle a little extra syrup on top, if you like it sweeter. 

Also, I recently discovered Peanut and Coconut Butter, all in one, at Fresh & Easy. Seriously good. And it tastes really, really good on a sliced banana. Word to the wise- it's kind of addicting. Be careful.

Trail Mix Cookies
Original Recipe taken from Once Again Nut Butter

1 cup Organic Sunflower Seed Butter 
1 Cup sweetened coconut flakes
3/4's Cup semi-sweet gluten free chocolate chips
1/2 cup agave, honey, or maple syrup (I used agave)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
1/2 TSP Vanilla
1/2 TSP baking Soda
1/4 TSP sea salt

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. 
2. Place all the ingredients in a mixer and blend well until all ingredients are incorporated.
3. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. 
4. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are set but still soft. 
5. Remove and let cook.
6. Share with your friends, if you're nice like that. 

Variation: Add in 1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans to give it a little more crunch. You can also decrease the chocolate chips and add in more dates, to give it extra sweetness minus the extra chocolate. But if you love chocolate, ignore what I just said as that would be blasphemous. 

These cookies are one of my new favorite things. They are SOFT. Super soft, a week later even. Pull apart, melt in your mouth, awesomeness!

It doesn't just look pretty, it tastes pretty, too.
Corn and Bell Pepper Salad
Original Recipe taken from Just a Pinch Recipe Club

2 Cups Diced Red Bell Peppers 
2 1/2 cups Fresh Corn Kernels ( approx: 5 medium ears of corn)
1 Small Red Onion, diced
About 3 lettuce leaved to make the bowl pretty
Salt, pepper, and basil to sprinkle on top

1. In a large bowl, combine corn, peppers, and onion. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Stir in the dressing. 
2. Arrange lettuce leaves in cup shape inside bowl and fill with the salad. 
3. Sprinkle with chopped basil.

Side note: The dressing really makes the recipe. I mean it really, really makes the recipe. You really can't go wrong with it, as it's sugar and gluten free- a good combination. This can also be found at Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc. 

There you have it, my try-something-new experiments. Wait until you see what's next...

What will you try out that's new?

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Mantra: Be Uncomfortable

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Be comfortable being uncomfortable
It's all in my head
Vin Zzep Society 6

When was the last time you did something for the first time?
- Unknown


It's the most wonderful, terrifying, awesomely-crazy thing each and every single one of us has to experience- daily. We wake up. We go to work. We come home. We sleep.

We repeat. 

We find patterns. We create habits. We work in cycles of similarity. It's a happy, safe, warm and cozy place that we find and, once found, never want to walk away from. All of this is good and well and wonderful, until something shakes up our perfectly orchestrated lives and makes us re-think what we've been doing and how we've been doing it. 

I, like many others, want to be comfortable. With myself. With other people. In general. Comfort doesn't always want to spend time with me, though. Sometimes it kicks me out of it's little bubble of security and forces me into situations I hadn't planned on with people I don't know and places I've never been. 

I love and hate those times.

I used to dread being in any situation that I hadn't prepared for by mapping out a plan in my head with 12 million various scenarios. It required a lot of exhausting brain cell work and I'd be lying if I said I still don't do that sometimes. Or more than I should at this point in my life, because I've found, through these most dreaded uncomfortable moments, that those are the times I've grown by leaps and bounds. Those uncomfortable times end up turning into either great stories, great memories, or great adventures. They always, without fail, provide me with some kind of lesson. 

Lately, I feel like I've been shying away from those moments again. Which means I'm hiding out from some lessons that I most certainly need to learn. My cop-out answer for that is that I'm tired and I need about 7 million naps before I can handle anything right now, but that's not really it. I think I'm just scared to be uncomfortable again. In certain scenarios, anyway. Ask me to go to a foreign country I've never been to and I'll leave tomorrow. Try and get me to have an awkward conversation about something that I don't want to talk about and I'll make up some crazy story about being abducted by Hello Kitty looking aliens who played the "I-got-your-nose- game", but with my tongue, which is why I can't talk about certain things and am unable to use words that contain vowels. Not that I've ever used this story or one similar to it. Especially not this week or possibly last night, even.

Basically, I just need to suck it up and go get uncomfortable again. I just have to remember that it's good for me. Like liver is supposed to be. I'm still debating that one.

What makes you uncomfortable?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Mantra: Remember Your Roots

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Remember your roots
My home :)
Before the Flashing Lights
For the 4th of July I decided to go to Payson, the place I call home. We all have those special places, where everyone knows your name and the people are glad you came. Now that I think about it, I may be confusing my childhood with Cheers. Close enough.

Growing up in any town you get to know the place, the people, and the stories that go with everything there. You get your own story from it- who you are, what makes you tick or what doesn't. Remembering where you're from is a good way to measure how far you've come and where you still need to go...or go back to. Your roots make you who you are- the good, the bad, and the hilarious. They also provide you with a lot of pictures that are usually embarrassing, especially if you grew up in the 80's with big bangs and Olan Mills photo shoots. The good news (thank you so much, Technology) is that millions of other people can enjoy them as well, as they get passed from inbox to inbox. I always wondered where those pictures came from. I can now tell you that some must be generated from my very own home-away-from-home.

Here are some of my stories and ridiculous pictures.

When I was at my grandmother's house I remembered this little portion of the wall, below, where they would measure how tall I was getting. Looking at it this last week, it occurred to me that my family never planned on me being very tall at all, seeing as how the measuring "wall" they used was no higher than the counter top. Don't you worry- I showed them. I am approximately one and a half feet taller than that doggone counter. I think. I haven't measured because I don't want to know if I'm wrong.
Low expectations of my height-to-be.
On the turn off from the main highway to get to my grandmother's house, there was a little shopping center with a bar called Pete's Place. I remember going in a couple of times with my grampa for lunch and trying to get him to let me drink beer because I thought I was quite mature and old enough to handle what grownups drank. I was also slightly delusional, only being 5 years and 7 months old. Months used to count back then, when you were 5 going on 30. Eventually, he gave in and let me have a sip, which I recall being one of the worst moments of my life and also the reason I don't drink. I'm not saying it was moonshine, but I'm also not saying it wasn't.

Adult dairy cows, now performing.
Pete's Place is still standing, however, it is now an adult cabaret. This little turn of events doesn't necessarily please me because I have to pass it every time I go back, but it does make me laugh. You know why? Because Pete's Place was always known for the giant cow sculpture that stood above the sign. It was the way people would give directions- "Head down 260 and turn right at the cow on the sign." Well, they changed the sign, but they left the cow. I can only imagine what people think when they see a large and in charge moo cow over an adult cabaret sign. Personally, I think their marketing folks may have gotten their degrees online rather than from an actual school, but that's just me. I'm sure business is boo-mooo-ing. Get it?! Yeah, I know. I'm a dork.

Cows are kind of a hot item when it comes to memories of growing up. Having written that, I now realize how odd that sounds, but I digress. When my family would go on trips out of town to the valley, we would take highway 87, where the infamous Cow Rock was formerly located. It became a family tradition, above and beyond our own family, to point out the cow. At Christmas time when we'd drive by, someone would always have it decorated with a little bow and Santa hat. One time someone spray painted a face on it. Once, it even got some pretty graffiti spots.

Tragically, in recent years, the head has fallen off, making my trips a little boring. Pointing out The Headless Cow to people just makes me look crazy, since the rock now just looks like...well...a rock.

I left my roots and took off running
Recently, though, my mom called me at work, as she likes to do, to tell me about the Shoe Tree. Now, if you read the stories about my mom calling me randomly, you understand my hesitation to dive into her story, but I had to know. She had me at Shoe Tree.

She swore up and down that on the side of the highway a tree existed covered in shoes. I had never, not ever, seen this tree. Not until last week, that is. Very randomly, I was looking over at the sunset as I was driving and there, off in the distance, was a tree covered in shoes. It was the most beautiful weird thing I had ever seen - aside from those umbrellas on the side of that building in New York - which meant I had to take a picture. Ah, Shoe Tree. You now give me reason to be happy on my drive back to the valley.

Last but not least, a couple of years back there was a new town mayor who decided to put in a stop sign at a non-existent intersection. People ignored it, so eventually he put up a little note under the stop sign. I couldn't find my picture of it, but this is basically what it said:
Picture taken from
Yep. Really, you gotta stop. "I'm not just here to look pretty!!" is what I imaged the next sign saying, but tragically that one was never posted. 

Moral of the story: Home is where your heart and your hilariousness is. Go back and visit it every so often. It's good for the soul. And laughing burns calories, so it's like getting a workout, too. BONUS.

Do you have any funny and fond memories of your hometown?

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Mantra: Oh Well

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Oh well
Sometimes in life the only mantra you need to get yourself through any situation is this: Oh well.

I had to repeat that a lot last week when I had to travel for business, which is where all of my rather embarrassing moments stem from for your reading pleasure this week.

On my flight out of town, I got the tragic and dreadfully unwanted middle seat. Both folks, in the far better window and aisle seats, decided we would all be friends for the entire 4.5 hour trip. Normally I'm cool with this, but I was exhausted and just wanted some shut eye. Did that happen, though? Nope. There was sharing of life lessons, Ritz crackers, and way too vivid female stories that strangers should never, not ever tell to other strangers. I didn't even get to pee in privacy because we had pre-planned bathroom breaks on who, when, and what time we would get up and go. If anything, I have learned the very important lesson of pretending to not speak English when necessary. It's not being cruel, it's self preservation. This is what I'm telling myself so that I don't feel bad.

Oh well. 

Since this was my first time to headquarters, the team there had planned all kinds of great team building events and get togethers. Which is great, except that some of them were dangerous. Not for me exactly, but for other people to be around me when they're happening. Like bowling. 

No one believed me when I said I've broken bowling balls, the thing that grabs the pins, or the actual floor, but I warned them. I did. I thought for sure the first time I threw the ball and it landed dead center in the middle of the lane with a loud "THWACK" they would let me get out of bowling. Nope. It wasn't until the bowling ball came flying out of my hand and landed in someone else's lane entirely that they wised up. Needless to say, once the gasping and jaw dropping had stopped, I was promptly removed from the team. 

Oh well.

Last but not least, one night I went to dinner and upon my exit I noticed that my very black work slacks had 72 million very white pieces of fuzz (in a very prominent square shaped pattern) on them from my napkin. Not only was it overwhelmingly noticeable, I had to walk like this back to my hotel, several blocks away. This is embarrassing in general, but add on the fact that 99% of the people around the city were either my peers, executives, or other business folks in black slacks without fuzz, and it can make a girl want to dye her hair and change her identity.

Oh well.

What's your mantra when things aren't going right? 

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