Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monday Mantra: Worth It

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: All the hard work, patience, and time is worth it. It's always worth it.

Why a Rubix Cube picture, you may ask? Because getting to this place with it, where all the colors are exactly where they should be, is hard. It takes time and patience...a LOT of patience. I'd imagine some swearing was even involved. After the time, patience, and probable swearing, this is what you get: a completed piece, an accomplishment, a pat-on-the-back to yourself for your efforts paying off.

I've written a couple of posts about having patience and not expecting anything. What I haven't done is tell you how that's worked for me, when I've put the time, effort, and the under-my-breath swearing into these practices.

When I first moved away from home to the big ol' city,  I lived in an apartment in the ghetto-ish part of Mesa. The yard underneath my balcony was covered in beer cans about three feet deep, the antenna on my car was stolen, and there was always a lot of police cars around. I was working part time and going to school full time. My options were slightly limited because I refused to have a roommate. I was all about that "being independent" thing and the "proving myself" thing and, mostly, I was just stubborn. After a few months, I decided I was going to buy a house. Now, this is where I should lie and tell you I moved away because of all the dangers of living where I was, but no. I decided to buy a house because I wanted a dog and, in my mind, a dog needed a proper place to  live. How I was going to do all of this, I didn't know. I just was.

Out of nowhere, a promotion was available where I worked. I was the new kid on the block and not the only one vying for the upcoming job, so I had to go the extra mile to get it; you know, for my dog and his future yard. At work we had what used to be called PAM and TOM; gigantic volumes of information on all the procedures you needed to know. I decided to take them home on the weekends and study them until I knew every step of everything procedure related. It was not the funnest way to spend my weekends, but my time paid off. I got the job.

While this was all going on, I started house hunting. I am a very, very picky potential home buyer and nothing was looking good in my price range. Right when I was going to give up and buy something that didn't really suit me, an ad was placed in the paper for a townhouse that was being sold, which had not one, not two, but three patios with two yards. My future brown weenie dog, who I had already named Samson in my mind, was going to be so happy! I went and saw the house and knew at once it was supposed to be mine. It was old, as old as I was, and needed new everything, but I was OK with that. I had a vision in my head of what it could be (years later, I made that vision reality). The last thing I needed was my dog.

I had been visiting the pet store at the mall near my ghetto apartment for months, just to see this one tan little weenie dog. I loved him so very much. By the time I purchased the house, he was gone. I searched the ads for weeks on end and then, on Mother's Day of all days, I found an ad for a chocolate mini daschund. I drove over that afternoon, saw the runt of the pack, and knew that little ball of belly and legs was my Samson. My dream was complete.

Along with all of this, in the new job where I was the new kid, I also ended up meeting a lot of wonderful people. People who I still call friends to this day, some of them my best friends. When I moved and took this job, none of this was a thought in my head. I was terrified of everything, actually, and mostly just wanted to go back home. But then my life, the life I was meant to have with the people I was meant to have in it, all started to unfold. I never went into that job expecting anything except my paycheck, but I ended up leaving with amazing friends and a new life.

At the time of all of this I was 19, making practically nothing, and had never thought of buying a house, at least not for a while. But it all happened. Every step of the way, I got exactly what I needed and wanted. Day by day, when I had no idea how I was going to make it all work or if I was ever going to make it in the big city, small pieces of the puzzle would fall into place and I would get closer and closer, until one day the puzzle was complete. My questions answered, my patience paid off.

Whatever you're working towards or working on, no matter what the goal or even the question in your head, don't give up. Step by step you'll get there. You may not know how, and it may not be clear, but it will happen. You just have to keep trying, believing, and having patience.

On a similar, yet somewhat different note, my Whole 30 update of Week 1 coming tomorrow! So far, so good. Although I did have a dream about cheating with popcorn, but I hear that's normal.

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Monday Mantra: Have Patience
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Mantra: Live Your Own Life

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: Live your own life

It is impossible to become like anybody else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself. It is important to be open and receptive to what you can learn from other sources, but ultimately you still have to live your own life, every moment of it. 

 - Taken from Letting Everything Become Your Teacher: 100 Lessons in Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Every once in a while, like yesterday, someone scoffs at my belief system in all things holistic and natural. This person lately just so happens to be The Boyfriend who, in his defense, didn't outright scoff, but based on the look on his face that's the impression I got. Why? Because I showed up yesterday looking like someone had pushed me down the stairs. A little bit. And he, having grown up in a household that fully believes in Western Medicine thought I was insane. Because I had that done on purpose. And I even paid good money for it. 

This is not me, for the record. 
Once a quarter my friend, Amy, comes over and does Gua Sha and Acupuncture on me. I like to call this my Quarterly Tune Up. It's a technique similar to Cupping (What Gwyneth Paltrow is famously known for, from having those red circles on her back that one time at an awards show), but it gets more of the toxins out of your system because it incorporates your entire  back, not certain sections. 

It's not painful, completely safe, and the redness (or purpleness or blackness, depending on your toxin level and blood stagnation) fades in 3-5 days. For that week you need to drink extra water to keep things flowing. The first couple of days you may feel like you have a cold or even the flu, but by the end of the week you'll feel fabulous. While I'm certified in a lot of holistic health and wellness items, I am by no means a Gua Sha expert, so you can read more about it here. All I can say is that I believe in it. That's why I've been doing it for years.

Coincidentally, the other day we were talking about foods and how I happen to believe that eating certain ones will indeed heal any issues you have. When I mentioned my Kiwi Karate theory, he pretty much gave me the "Wow, you are way more crazy than I thought" look. Now, I'm not trying to rag on him here, but I am using him as an example.

Every single person is different in the way they believe, what they believe, why they believe it, and what they're willing to be open minded to- or not. I fully and completely believe in holistic medicine, Eastern healing techniques, and most things that oppose Western medicine. That being said, I also believe there is a place (and a time) for it all and that the best way to approach anything it to be open minded to everything. 

I grew up with a mom who thought deodorant was the devil (with it's aluminum and all), had peanut butter that separated in the jar and tasted terrible (back then, anyway...the world has come a long way since the 80's), and who made me watch videos of all natural cures for cancer and reasons that we get it based on foods we eat.

When I was a teenager, I revolted. I drank soda, ate Jiffy, bought normal deodorant that actually worked. One summer I did nothing but play video games and eat Chocolate Truffle Explosion ice cream. You know me, so wild and rebellious.

Then I got older, moved out on my own, got a job, and eventually got very, very sick. There was a time in my life where, for about a year and a half, I had a virus that made me incredibly ill every time I ate, no matter what I ate. This wasn't food allergies or gluten intolerance, this was every single food making me feel like I was going to die.  During this time I had signed up for a yoga class and had decided to take an additional holistic nutrition class to fulfill a credit requirement. Low and behold, that nutrition class with the Chinese Medical doctor who taught it, saved me. What Western medicine could not fix for 18 months, he did in 3. Ever since that time, I've believed. And everything I've tried, everything, has worked. 

Yoga healed injuries I was told would never go away. Foods, Chinese supplements, and an understanding of the way the body works and what it needs, healed everything else. What I've discovered thus far in life is that there is no "one way" to anything. I've never believed that and I never will. If there was a single way that cured cancer, healed your body, and helped you lose weight, every other type of product or idea out there would be banned and shamed into the dark underground world of myths. 

I will never tell you that my way is The Way. I tend to believe that anyone who tells you that has a lot more to learn in life. You have to find what works for you. My suggestion, as it has always been, is to be open minded. Education is your best tool. If you question something, study it. If you're curious, look into it. If you also want to look like you fell down some stairs, have Gua Sha done! Kidding, you may look worse. Or better. Anyway, the world is a wide and wonderful place with options that abound. Be open minded, try new things, then live the life that works for you. Only you know what that is and whatever it might be, as long as it's for you, it's the right way.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 0

Day 0.

The day before everything and anything begins.

The day that marks the last day of the old and preparation time for the new.

Last week I told you I was going to start the Whole 30 Program. Tomorrow that begins. Today I prepare.

The program is fairly clear-cut and easy: Eat nothing outside of Paleo foods - nothing - and do that for 30 days straight. Paleo foods are basically: meat/fish/poultry, veggies, fruit, healthy fats and oils (think avocados and olive oil), and seeds/nuts. As I said last week, no Paleo-ifying anything is allowed. This challenge is completely free, but they also offer a support system, for lack of a better term, so I chose to sign up for the Whole 30 Daily email to see what it was all about. Every day (even on Day 0 and Day 31) you get a supportive email with helpful tips and tricks. It provides guides to print off, success stories, and all kinds of awesome tidbits. I've enjoyed Day 0 thus far, particularly this line:

At any point, if you begin to doubt your ability to make these changes in your own life, we want you to remember one very important thing: You've already begun.

You've already begun. I love that.

I've been thinking of this whole concept of changing your life. Not just in changing the way you eat, but in changing anything that you want- your health, your finances, your job, your outlook and your perspective. The beautiful thing about all of those is that everything can be changed. Everything. Some of it may be more challenging than others, but all of it can be done.

Tonight I was over thinking something (as I often do) and I reminded myself that, while the world may be spinning out of control, right now, right this very second, I have complete and total control over one thing: myself. That's all any of us needs to remember. You start there and move forward. One day at a time.

Today is Day 0. The first day of the rest of your life. Or at least the next 30. For those of you taking the challenge with me, you can do it.

You've already begun.

Anyone facing any challenges or concerns? To my very cool and supportive Uncle: No shakes, sir, but you can have all the steak you want!

Related Post
Monday Mantra: Challenge Accepted

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high, 
Do you watch me in the night?
Do you know my silent dreams?
Do you see me suffering?

Angels, angels- Are you near?
Can I whisper in your ear, 
All my secrets, all my dreams,
Every thought that's haunting me?

Every moment in the making,
Every time my heart is breaking,
When my tears are falling swiftly, 
Are you with me? Are you with me?

Angels, angels shining bright,
Do you hear my pleas at night?
Are you with me when I cry?
Do you judge me when I lie?

Are you reaching when I'm falling?
Do you hear me when I'm calling?
When I'm reckless, when I'm daring, 
Are you right beside me, caring?

Angels we have heard on high, 
Do you hear my whispered cries?
Do you see my haunted dreams?
Do you know the thoughts I keep?

Monday Mantra: Challenge Accepted

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 accept the challenge

When I see the word "challenge" some tiny little boxing like bell is rung in my head and I immediately have to research/read all about/sign-up-to-do The Challenge.

Want to try fasting 2 days a week for a year and a half? YES! Yes, sign me up right now. Food shmood. I can survive on air and water. 

Half marathons for the girl who hates running? Why yes, please. I'll take 4 of those and you know what? Throw in some 5k's just for fun, a glow in the dark night race one hour after I land at the airport, and a 12 mile hike at sunrise- in the desert with coyotes howling and trying to eat me. 

Want to get yelled at to do 5000 push ups, high knees, burpees, and crunches in a far too expensive bootcamp class? HELL YES. Being tortured is my favorite pastime. How could you have possibly known that?!

Insane. I know.

All of those above challenges (that I've actually done) have always benefited me in the long run. That's why I like challenges. When I'm done, I feel like I've really accomplished something. And I do always feel better. And accomplished. Majorly accomplished. So it's time for a new one.

The Whole 30 Program

It's a 30 day challenge that requires you to avoid dairy, some legumes, grains, alcohol, sugar (real and fake), certain potatoes, and sulfites. They allow certain things - like ghee and coconut milk - but basically any and all processed foods are out. This means no fabulous, gluten free Nut-Thins or even honey, that doggone real sugar that it is.

Why am I doing this? For one, I like the 30 day any-kind-of-challenge idea. One month. What can I do in one month? It's intriguing. But also, because I believe in their cause. I like their overall approach and reading through their goals reminds me of why I like that type of lifestyle in the first place, why I believe in it. They offer some pretty cool tools, like the daily emails for support, which I think it a great benefit to anyone trying to get started with this.

I will also admit that I might be wanting to do this as a different kind of a test for myself...because I've been "Paleo-ifying" too many things recently (see prior post for Fall French Toast...sheesh), which they call out on their site, and I want to see just how much I'll miss that- or not. I want to really take a shot at giving up sugar - all kinds - and seeing just how much of an impact that has on my life. That will tell me a lot about myself and I will share what I learn with you. If you see a random rant,, I mean post, at 2:33 in the morning, well...then you know I've lost it.

Also, just to keep it real up in here, I'm not starting this until the end of the week, so please don't yell at me if you see me buying honey at the grocery store. Yell at me next week, that will be fine.

Anyone want to join me on my little challenge? The more the merrier! Or crazier. Either way.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall French Toast

Fall is almost here! Kind of. Phoenix doesn't really have a traditional fall season, but I like to pretend. I start to consider wearing sweatshirts and dream about days gone by when I could build a snowman and then come inside to have hot chocolate. Since I can't do any of that in this still very summery weather, I shall instead have French Toast.

Gluten Free Pecan French Toast
Original recipe taken and modified from JennyMac Lipsmack

I've made this recipe start to finish in one day and also by letting everything soak in overnight before cooking. I found that letting it sit overnight gave it a much more soft and traditional French Toast feel. That would be my recommendation, but both ways is good!

French Toast
1 loaf gluten free Pecan Rice Bread (in the refrigerated section)
8 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 can coconut milk
2 TSP's vanilla
3/4 TSP salt
1 package gluten free bacon (12 slices), cooked and broken into pieces

1 1/2 olive oil
3 TBSP's honey
2 TSP's cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Some maple syrup

1. Cut bread into one inch pieces.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine: eggs, coconut milk, honey, vanilla, and salt. Once well mixed, add bread and coat evenly. Add bacon pieces and mix well one more time.
3. Grease a 13x9 pan and pour the mix in. Either bake immediately (for a crunchier taste) or place in fridge overnight.
Side Note: If you're using a glass baking dish, make sure you take it out and let it come to room temp. The glass can shatter in a hot oven.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Give the mix another good stir.
5. Mix the Topping ingredients together (oil, honey, cinnamon, pecans), leaving the maple syrup out.  Once all is mixed well, coat the bread mix that is in the pan. It won't spread quite evenly, but that's OK. Then grab your maple syrup and give it a zig zag across the top.
6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. When done, add a little more maple syrup to each slice, if needed, or enjoy the way it is.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Mantra: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

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: Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Earlier this year I wrote a post about having no expectations from people in your life. Lately, I've started to have those doggone things again- The Expectations. Here I was, keeping myself in check, when all of a sudden I wasn't anymore. Not a little bit, not at all.

It's awful, the way they sneak up on you and bite you in the ass because of ideas you've created within your own brain that the rest of the world doesn't know a thing about. But that's what they do, The Expectations. They get you when you're least expecting them. It's clearly a vicious cycle of not expecting, then expecting, then WHAM - You've wrecked yourself.

I'm not quite sure what happened to me. I think I got a little spoiled with all of the good things happening in my life and maybe, just maybe that threw me off track. I'm certain that part of it is due to the fact that I'm not as much of a patient person as I'd like to think I am. Being impatient means you have expectations...speedy ones. Those suckers are derailing, let me tell you.

Life was better when I didn't expect anything. Life was actually kind of fantastic and wonderful because each and every good thing, good day, and good moment was a surprise. A beautiful gift that I hadn't anticipated or even hoped for. When you expect nothing except minimal kindness and respect from another human being, you're rewarded every single moment when they go above and beyond that. Which turns out to be very often, when you're paying attention appropriately. When you're not expecting huge and life altering things, you can suddenly notice each and every small and beautiful thing.

It also helps you to appreciate what you've been given. This kind of awareness ensures that you're grateful for every moment, every person, every single thing.

Too bad I've forgotten all of this recently. Too bad The Expectations got me.

Here's the post from earlier this year as a reminder to all of us, myself especially.

When you expect nothing, you're given everything. 

Repeat as needed.

Sometimes I expect too much out of people.

I expect everyone to be good, kind, and honest.

I expect them to be open, real, themselves at all times.

I expect people to want more out of life than what life has given them, mostly because I believe they are capable of more than that.

I expect a lot.

The idea of The 100/0 Principle is that you take full responsibility for the relationship, whatever kind of relationship it might be, and expect nothing at all in return.

Nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

The first time I heard about it I struggled with it. How do I give someone everything, do everything, be everything, and then expect absolutely nothing back in return? Am I setting myself up for failure? Is it really wrong for me to want something out of all of my efforts?

Over the years, through trial and error and accidentally having no-expectations a lot of the time, I've learned that people will surprise you. Complete strangers will be more amazing than you could have ever imagined, while the people you think you know the best will often let you down. All because of expectations, or the lack thereof. What I've found is that it all really depends on the other person, which is not to say that I'm expecting them to carry the weight of the outcome. No, what I mean is that sometimes you get exactly what you expect.

Sometimes you get nothing.


Sometimes you get more.

Sometimes you get everything.

That's the risk you take in life, though. That's the risk you take in everything you do. And sometimes that's the answer you need to let you know if you have the right people in your life, because the right people will be on the other end of this, giving you everything and expecting nothing in return.

Together, you will have gotten everything from nothing.

It's a simple, yet complicated, yet beautiful approach to life.

In all honesty, however beautiful this approach may be, I've adjusted this principal slightly for myself because I still struggle with it.

I've decided that it's OK to expect the basics in life: Kindness. Honesty. Respect. The other person not being a serial killer.

You know, the basics.

Outside of those, I am choosing to be surprised. I am choosing to let people show me what type of a person they are by what they're willing to put into everything. With what they do with the nothing I am expecting.

I'm anxiously anticipating nothing. We'll see what happens.

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Monday Mantra: Expect Nothing

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Mantra: Never Give Up

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: Never give up

For my three day weekend, I decided I would do something super duper fun, just like everyone else was. No fancy BBQ's for me or relaxing by the pool that I don't actually own. No, no. I decided I would redecorate my house. Maybe, kind of, with a lot of redecorating. I had this really great plan that included help from my mom and started really early on Saturday morning, leaving me plenty of time to still do all the other things I wanted to do that night.

Mmm hmm. Great plan of mine.

Maybe you've already caught on to where I'm going with this, but my plan totally and completely failed and I was up until 11pm, covered in green paint, finishing everything up and missing out on all the other fun plans I had for that day. I was silently cursing myself, my house, and my decision to do a semi-major renovation on a three day weekend. I had wanted to quit every minute that ran me later and later into the night and past my original cut off time, but I didn't. Some part of me, deep down, knew the payoff would be greater than the irritation I was facing. And it was. 

Everything is. 

When I woke up the next day and saw my beautiful house, all fresh and complete, I knew I had made the right decision. But it was only then that I truly felt it, truly knew.

I have friends and family going through things right now that are rough at the present time. Some of the things are big, some are small. Some of my friends thought they were in the clear and then wham! - something changed and they're having to deal with it again. 

My painting story is lame and pales in comparison, but it's reminded me of this: Don't give up, my friends. Don't ever give up. 

There's a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe you need a flashlight right now, but eventually you won't. Eventually everything will be so bright and wonderful that you'll be your own light. You'll shine from the inside out. 

I believe in you. Don't you dare ever, ever give up. You have it in you to find the light. 

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