Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monday Mantra: What You Want Most, What You Want Now

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: Don't give up what you want most for what you want now

I hate waiting.

I hate patience.

I hate being told "one day" for this or that. One day is too many days away from what I want right now.

I've always hated holding off to do/buy/eat something later that I want to do/buy/eat now. If I'm starving at 4pm, I eat such a stupidly giant snack that I ruin my dinner. If I see a sweater I like at LOFT I buy it, even though it will most likely go on sale one day. But again, I hate the lack of fulfillment in One Day. I want Today. I want Right Now. I want Right This Very Minute.

Waiting is a life lesson that I never really learned and yes, I'm ashamed to admit that. I didn't do much to address this particular problem until last year and only recently have I discovered now nice waiting can really be, especially when it comes to the important things in life.

"We force the puzzle pieces of our life together"

While I'm still learning exactly what it means to be patient in all areas of life, there is one particular (and brilliant) piece of advice my therapist gave me back when I was still married and trying to save my marriage and my sanity. What she said was simple, yet eloquent. It was something I probably knew deep down in my heart but had never allowed myself to bring forth to my conscious mind. It's something that, to this very day, I think of often and try to remember as something that is worth every ounce of my patience.

She told me that, more often than not, we force the puzzle pieces of our life together.

One day you meet someone who you fall for- easily, quickly. You love them, you want to be with them, you're hoping they're The One because you've been looking for The One since you first saw Zack and Kelly lock lips on Saved by the Bell and you decided you needed your Zack or Kelly in real life. You subconsciously decide this person has some of the qualities you need, not all, and you accept that. You tell yourself you can either live without those other things you thought you needed or you can try to be those things yourself. Because you love this person. Because this person is your Zack Morris.

This is fine, at first. But years go by and all of that trying you've been doing - of either letting go of what you needed or of forcing yourself to become someone you're not in an attempt to find the balance you required from the beginning - becomes an immense struggle. A struggle you didn't even know you were a part of until it gets unbearable.

One day you wake up and you realize you can no longer try to be what you need, when what you need never resided within you in the first place. Which is why you need someone else who has that- who has those qualities you lack. Because you don't, you never will, you're not meant to.

This can be a horrible awareness to suddenly have, but neither of you went into this with anything except good intentions. You just weren't consciously aware that this is what you'd been doing that whole time- forcing puzzle pieces together from two very different puzzles. You can try to duct tape and staple and super glue those bitches together, but they will never truly fit.

It's not until you find the person with the matching  pieces that you see the difference. The ease. The deep sigh of no longer having to try to be who or what you yourself could never be- for you or anyone else. And that person will feel the same way. It is the balance of Yin and Yang. Your pieces together form a perfect and complete puzzle. That person lifts you in your weakest moments and helps you shine bright in your best. And you, you do this for them as well.

So, while I work on learning how to wait for, well, everything in life - including Buckle jeans that fit my short legs perfectly but cost an arm and two legs and, I know, will go on sale one day - remember this: When it comes to the people in your life, you shouldn't have to force anything. Waiting may be the hardest thing to do, but it is the one thing thing above all else that is worth your time and patience. Because when the right person comes along, you'll understand why it never worked out with anyone before them.

Are you good at being patient? Any tricks you want to share with me before I sell my soul to the Right Now gods of impatience?

Related Post
Monday Mantra: Have Patience

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Monday, February 18, 2013

In the World of Wellness: So Many Good Things You Might Just Pass Out

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: I wasn't kidding when I said there was a lot today. GlutenEase, healthy apps for your mind and body, juicing recipes, cleaning your kitchen the safe and natural way, GF banana pancakes, and the best black tea you've never tasted. Whew- that was a mouthful.

There have been so many good and delicious things I've tried lately, I couldn't pick just one so I decided to tell you about all of them. You might overload on awesomeness. You've been warned.

GlutenEase Please

For my gluten allergy friends, you're going to love this. I was recently introduced to a supplement called GlutenEase. It helps to cut down the effects of a gluten attack with it's anti-inflammatory response, making a reaction to foods containing gluten far more manageable. In fact, with some people it didn't just cut the pain in half, it eliminated it entirely. This will all depend on just how allergic you are to gluten. Click on the link above to be taken to the Amazon store for more info and reviews on this amazing product.

I was also informed by my Reflexologist, who suffers from celiac disease, that drinking Kombucha after a gluten attack can cut the pain and suffering in half. While I've yet to try this, I can see how this could be a possibility as Kombucha is good for liver support and the healthier your liver, the healthier you are all in all. Maybe give this a shot next time you unfortunately and accidentally come in contact with gluten.

Mind and Body Smartphone Apps

In today's high tech news, have you heard of The Eatery app for your iPhone? Instead of counting calories you use photos from week over week snapshots of what you ate to see your healthiest meals, what improvements you made, and what you need to work on. You take a picture of what you're eating, load it to the app, then rate it based on how healthy you think what you're eating is. Other users can also rate your meal, as well as your Facebook friends. If you're a visual person, this may be the app for you.

If you're looking for a way to be a little more mindful of what you're doing when you're doing it, try the Insight Timer Lite app. You set a time on the app, anywhere from 1-60 minutes, for the Tibetan singing bowl to chime once, twice, or three times, ensuring you're focus is brought back to whatever you were working on- whether it be meditation, trying to eat more mindfully, or even trying to focus on something specific throughout your day. It's a beautiful chime and a very helpful app, one I use often when I feel rattled and need to bring my attention back to the important things.

A Cleaner Oven, A Cleaner House

A few weeks back on my Facebook page I mentioned an all natural and super easy way to clean your oven. Did I mention super easy? Yeah, SUPER EASY. All you need is white vinegar and some baking soda. Before I cleaned it, my oven resembled Mordor. I was too afraid to take a picture, like my soul my get locked in the camera with my dirty, filthy oven picture. But...twenty minutes after I tried this method it was beautiful, shiny, and new looking. And I didn't even have to scrub it. I took a sponge over everything and 95% wiped right off. For the harder to clean spots I just repeated what I'd done earlier.

Just sprinkle a good amount of baking soda all over the door and anywhere else inside that you need to clean. Then put some white vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz it onto the baking soda. Let it sit for 20 minutes or longer for best and easiest-on-the-elbow-grease results. This can also be used in sinks, tubs, showers, toilets- everything. It's safe, natural, and even if you buy the largest baking soda container and largest white vinegar bottle you can find, you'll still be saving money (quantity and quality) over the store chemical products.

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Juicing

After owning a juicer for, oh, a year or so, I finally decided to use it and now I'm addicted. I totally get the juicing craze. I had a ton of energy after drinking the juices, plus I noticed how bright and healthy my skin started looking after just a few days. I've been more focused on the fruit juice blends than the veggie ones, but I'm branching out a little. Baby steps, they say. First use the juicer- check. See? I'll get there.

Here are my favorite combos thus far:

  • 1 pink grapefruit, 1 gala apple, 1 6oz clamshell of blackberries, two handfuls of large strawberries
  • 1 s6oz clamshell of raspberries, 1 gala apple, 1 granny smith apple
  • 6-8 carrots, 1 orange, 1 pomegranate
  • 2 gala apples, 1 orange
  • 1 6oz clamshell of blackberries, 1 navel orange
  • 2 gala apples, 1 orange, two handfuls of strawberries

Gluten Free, Paleo Cinnamon Banana Pancakes

If you missed it on my Facebook page, here is a new and incredibly easy gluten free, Paleo approved pancake recipe that I found on Pinterest.

Cinnamon Banana Pancakes
Recipe taken from blogilates

2 eggs
1 banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I added this to the original recipe)

1. Mush Banana
2. Crack Eggs
3. Mix together
4. Oil griddle
5. Pour in
6. Flip, eat, yum

These are so good on their own, you don't even need syrup. In fact, I thought the syrup ruined them. Click on the link above to see a picture of these babies!

The Best Tea You've Never Tried

Last, but definitely not least, if you haven't heard of (or more importantly, tried) Harney and Sons Fine Teas, you're truly missing out on some of the best tea ever. I recently discovered their tea at a restaurant in California and became so enthralled with it that I started dreaming about it at night. It was a cinnamon spiced black tea with the most amazing aroma all in itself that I wanted to find a way to bottle it up as a perfume and wear it around my neck. But once I actually tried it- oh my. Ohmygoodness. Oh my holy-wow-I-need-to-marry-this-tea goodness.

Yep, that delicious.

The flavor in particular that I adore is the Hot Cinnamon Spice black tea. You can get a sample on their website for $2.00 or you can go all in like I did and get a 7oz container that I've only had for a month and is already half empty. You won't regret it.

Until next month's World of Wellness post...
Eat well, live well, be well!

Any favorite juicing recipes you absolutely can't live without? Or amazing delicious teas? Share with me at one of the links below! 

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Mantra: Reconnect for a Peaceful Present

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 reconnect with the past to find a peaceful present

For the last couple of years now, I've done a special February post about my wonderful friend, Ben, who is no longer on this earth. Last year I talked about love and making sure you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you because, as we all know, at any moment they could be gone. This year I want to offer that yet again, plus something a little different. 

After I posted that article last year, I reached out to Ben's mom. I hadn't talked to her in years, but I wanted to say hello, let her know how much I missed Ben, and tell her what a great job she did raising him. I was ridiculously nervous. But reaching out to her and reconnecting helped me find the peace I was needing. We ended up becoming friends, we shared old memories, she told me things that made me feel warm and happy and loved. I no longer felt the sadness and strange aloneness I had for so long and my selfish wishing of him to still be here so I could "fix" everything went away. And now, all these years later, I can finally say I'm truly at peace with his passing. I feel like I've let go and reconnecting, for me, was the key.

If you've lost someone - in any way - reach out. To a family member, to that person (if you still can), to anything that will make you feel connected. If you have any words left unsaid, say them. Even if all you can do is whisper them to the air.

Free yourself from your past by taking any action you wish you had back then and find yourself a peaceful moment in the present. And last but never least, make sure the people in your life are aware of just how much you love them.


Every year at this time I can't help but think of my friend, Ben. I can't help but miss him and wonder what he would be like now as an adult. What he would look like, where life would have taken him, if he would be one step closer to his porch with the rocking chair and the view. I can't help but think about him because that's the only option I have. I can't talk to him, visit him, call him on the phone. I can only remember him, and remember him I will.

The world has been an emptier place since he died. There is a hole that will never be filled because no one will ever be Ben. He was one-of-a-kind and the magic of who he was went with him when he left.

I posted this a year ago, but I wanted to bring it back one more time. This week holds the big day when we buy chocolate and flowers and say "I love you" to all of our significant others. I suggest we say that to everyone we love. Every day, all the time. Don't wait for a holiday to let the people in your life know that you care about them. Tell them now. Tell them often.

To all of the wonderful people in my life: I love you. I am blessed to have you and am thankful for you every single day. I may not have a chance to talk to you all the time or spend as much time with you as I would like, but you are always in my heart. You are always with me.

I'll be by to see you soon, Ben. I miss you. I love you.

I Remember You

"Friends are the family you choose for yourself." - Sicilian Proverb

When I was 16 I got my first job as a Subway Sandwich Artist. Subway taught me more than just how to make an excellent sandwich. It taught me about life, learning to understand all different kinds of people, and how very important friendships are. There I made new friends, learned important life lessons, and met a boy named Ben.

The first time I met him was when I was taking my friend, Jen, over to someone's house. When we arrived, there on the living room floor, passed out face down, was a guy in all black. I looked over at Jen and asked her who the scary guy on the floor was. In his defense, he was taking a nap, but I was kind of sheltered back then and had never met anyone while they were so very seriously passed out napping and also all clothed in black, so scary was my term.

The next day at work this familiar, somewhat goth looking guy walked in. He looked at me, smiled and said, "Hi, Scary Girl."  That was the moment our friendship started along with our new nicknames and over the next three years I got to know the real Ben.

The real Ben would wait for me to get off of work or come and spend the afternoon at the store so I would have some company. The real Ben would tell me jokes and make me laugh. The real Ben always had a smile that would light up the darkest moments. I came to know that the real Ben wasn't just some guy in black, but an amazing, brilliant, kind and loving guy who would leave an impact on me forever.

I remember being at Jen's house one night and seeing him dressed, unexpectedly, in white jeans and a plaid shirt. A first and last where I would see him not in his traditional black clothes. I also remember finding out that one of his favorite artists was Tim McGraw, another shocker since normally he would blast Korn out of my SUV while waiting for me to get off work.

There were the funny moments, like the times he would go jogging with me and Jen when I went through this "I love running" phase. There we would be - me, Jen with the baby in his stroller, and Ben in his black clothes and chains - jogging down the streets. Neither one of them loved running, but they did it for me and it's only now that I truly understand how kind and wonderful they were. Especially Ben. He was always up for anything I wanted to do. One time it was just him and I and some friend of his (also in non-jogging, black, chain hanging clothes) who went for a run and while on this run discovered a tarantula, with which the two of them chased me down the road. I laugh now. I screamed then. But those are great memories - precious memories. Regardless of the day or weather, whenever I wanted to go for a run I could always count on Ben to be there with me. I could count on Ben for a lot of things, actually.

There were the serious moments, like when he had just gotten a new car and we went for a drive to the park. We sat on a bench and he told me what he wanted to do with his life. How one day he wanted a house with a porch and a rocking chair, where he could look out at his grandkids playing in the yard. That same night he followed me home to make sure I made it there safe and sound and in doing so, he cut my mom off in traffic. This did not go over well until I fully explained his intentions to her. From then on she loved him. She still does.

There were also the sweet times, like when I was going to visit one of my best friends in Wisconsin and I was terrified since I had never flown before. The day before I left he brought me flowers and gave me one of his amazing pick-me-up-and-spin-me-around hugs, the likes of which to this day have not been topped.

Then there's the memory of our birthdays when we both turned 17. Mine was two weeks before his and he surprised me with several CD's of my favorite rapper, Eminem. Two weeks later I gave him his gift- a black (of course) Eminem shirt that simply said "Remember Me" on the back. I had debated and debated and debated over getting that shirt for him. I almost didn't, but at the last moment I decided he would love it. It's funny how that moment, so small and insignificant at the time, would later mean so much more.

There's also a memory I can't quite grasp, can't fully remember. I'm pretty sure I've just blocked it out, and that may be for the best, but it still haunts me that I can't remember everything about it. One night we got in a fight in a parking lot over something someone said and I laughed at, when I'm pretty sure I should have done anything but laugh at that moment. You see, when I get nervous I laugh. When I don't know what to say, I laugh. When I have no idea what's going on, I laugh. I am Anthony from Designing Women.

Maybe the fight is even worse than what I do remember, maybe it's not. I can't be certain. At some point we made up, but we were never as close as we had been before. Then again, it had only been a short amount of time that had passed. I guess I always thought we had more of that thing- time. Time to get over it. Time to sort it out. Time for us to get back to being Scary Guy and Scary Girl. Plenty of time for this small blip in our wonderful friendship to pass. Still, I have always felt bad about that moment and if I had the chance to go back in time and change it, I would. Or I would at least have apologized for it better. You see, on February 15th, 2002, Ben died.

I still don't quite know the whole entire situation, whether it was ruled to be murder or not, but that's mostly my fault. I couldn't believe it. I still can't sometimes.Things like that shouldn't happen to people like Ben. People like Ben are meant to live long, wonderful, happy lives. I couldn't even go to the funeral back then. I have dealt with a lot of death in my life but losing someone so young was unbearable. Knowing on top of that, that everything happened only a few houses down from my grandparents, where I most likely was that night, also makes it hard.

If only I had known, if only I had helped somehow. If only, if only...those are always the thoughts that we, who are left behind, plague ourselves with. 

After the funeral Jen took me to his mom's house. She was having a horrible time, understandably. I had met his dad and picked Ben up from his house before, but never met his mom or been inside his home, so I was a little nervous. It was beautiful, as was his red-headed mom who laughed when she saw me and told me she had heard a lot of stories about me. She said Ben had particularly loved my red hair when I'd returned from Wisconsin with it's wild color. I guess maybe I looked a little like her for that small amount of time, and that's a nice thought.

His mom took us upstairs to see his room and on the way up I spotted something I was not expecting. There, framed and hanging on the wall, was his Eminem t-shirt. I gasped and went over to it. His mom came over to me and told me that when she was digging through his closet for funeral clothes she saw it and at that moment she knew what they would put on his tombstone. She didn't know I had given it to him and started crying when I told her about our birthday gift exchange years earlier. She hugged me and told me he loved that shirt, that it was his favorite, and that he wore it all the time.

That one moment killed me and healed me all at the same time. I've always felt bad that I never went to the funeral, never said my goodbyes. On the day of the funeral Jen came to my new job and tried to get me to go, but aside from not wanting to believe the truth, somehow I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. That three years wasn't enough time for a friendship that good, so I didn't go. I felt like maybe I had made it all up, all of it. Thank goodness Jen later made me go to see his mom and thank goodness to this day she's there to reminisce with me. Thank goodness for Jen.

While at his house his mom took us into his bedroom which was my last discovery of the real Ben: a greenish room with fishing wallpaper everywhere. No black, no anything like I imagined, which I really should have expected since he always did surprise me like that. Later, Jen and I went to his grave site and sure enough, on the tombstone was his name with the words "Remember Me".

Him not being here still gets to me. I recall specifically five years after he had died when I had this moment where I had decided he could not be dead. He just couldn't. What if he was just in the witness protection program? That was fine, but being permanently removed from my life forever was not an option. I had the scenario all worked out in my head...

I would somehow bump into him at an airport, unplanned, accidentally, and we would recognize each other. I would start to say his name and he would show me his hands to prove to me it really was him, since he had unique pinkies that were bent just slightly. This would be how I knew, how I knew he was OK. How I knew he was still here.That, of course, could never happen.

To this day when I go home I wave at his old house as I pass it by on the highway and when I can, I go visit him at the cemetery. It makes me feel better knowing he's buried there with my dad and grampa, like he has a little family with him, even if it's just mine.

Ben taught me many things over the three short years that I knew him, but most importantly he taught me two things that I will never let go of.

One day I had asked him why he wore black all the time. He told me it was so that people would make an effort to get to know the real him and not just judge him by what he wore, what he looked like. That was the first lesson. Thanks to Ben, to this day I make it a point to  get to know anyone who dresses or looks differently. As true as it was with him, no one proves to be what they appear.

The second lesson, really the most significant one,  was to always make sure your friends know how important they are to you. The saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone" is true. I had this amazing, wonderful, kind person who will never be replaced. There will never be another Scary Guy. There will never be another Ben.

So, to all of my friends, I want you to know this: You are important to me. I will never fully be able to explain just how important you are. Each and every one of you are wonderful, amazing, talented and unique. There is no one else like you and you cannot be replaced. I am better for knowing you and you have helped make me a better person. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for everything. I love you.

Related Post
Monday Mantra: I Love You

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Mantra: One of These Days the Sky is Going to Break

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: One of these days the sky is going to break, everything will escape, and I'll know

The moment I heard Letters from the Sky, by Civil Twilight, I knew I had found a song I would love until the end of time. While the song is about love and being left behind, yet knowing that person will come back for you, I'd like to think there's more to it. That the song is about more than just someone else loving you, but about you finding what you're meant to do in this world. That it's about destiny and that, at times, we may feel separated from it, but that it will always come back to us to lead us in the right direction.

There are key phrases in the song that hold with me, even now, when I haven't listened to it in months.  There's the line, "These are only walls that hold me here", which reminds me that there's nothing holding anyone back, nothing but ourselves. That all we have to do is walk past the walls that keep us in - mental, emotional, sometimes physical -  and those walls will crumble behind us as we go.

But the one line that always stays with me is this:

One of these days the sky's gonna break
Everything will escape and I'll know

I like everything about what that verse promises. Hope. An end to a search. A finality to the answers we're always asking. And I don't know about you, but I always have a lot of questions about absolutely everything.

The reason I think of this now is because I recently saw something about pennies lying on the ground and how they're sent down to you from heaven as a way for your loved ones and the universe to say hello, we're thinking about you, I love you and I believe in you.

I don't know why that little saying struck such a cord with me, but I instantly felt guilty for ignoring all the dozens of pennies I'd seen lying around on the ground. Especially since I'd been feeling disconnected, a little lost, a little uncertain lately of my destiny, my purpose. In many ways, much like with the pennies that I had turned my back on, I felt I had also turned away from what I used to think I was meant for, thinking maybe someone else was meant for my dreams instead of me.

That same week we had thunderstorm after thunderstorm after thunderstorm. The sky was literally breaking into thousands of pieces of perfectly formed raindrops. I took that holed-up-in-the-house time and started to re-focus my energy on what I knew about myself and what I wanted out of this life. I thought about what was in my control and what wasn't, what I felt deep in my bones was meant for me and what idle things I had been pursuing instead, and I started to believe again.  In myself. In what talents I had been blessed with. In a force greater than me, leading my way. And then I started to ask for enlightenment and guidance to find my way.

Once the storms finally broke, I took my dog, Samson, out on our usual route. Not even five minutes into the walk I saw something shiny lying on the path before me. Instead of pennies from heaven - one cent pieces of promise - there was not one, but two shiny quarters on the path before me. The value of fifty pennies together, full of messages of "Hello" and "I believe in you" and "I love you, keep going".
The sky had broken and here, before me, were my shiny pieces from heaven perfectly lined up, urging me on. Here the universe and all who loved me were saying, "Welcome back to believing. You're on the right path."

My friends, when you are lost and uncertain of your way, wait for your letters from the sky. Re-focus your energy on yourself. Find the "I love you's" and the "I believe in you's" within yourself. Look inside yourself and find hope and, when you are out and about, look for your pennies from heaven as a sign of encouragement from all who support you.

Then wait for the sky to break.

P.S. I've added this thing called Disqus to the blog, which makes it much easier to comment on the posts versus using the old Blogger format. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


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