When Dreams Speak.

Where dreams come from

One night I had an experience that jolted me upright in bed.  I have always had incredible dreams, but this wasn’t so much a dream, as it was just a quick experience that came from seemingly nowhere.  Hard to explain and even harder to say out loud because it was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced in dreamland.  For a split second, I was with Jesus on the cross and was looking at his feet, which had become mine, and poof, the first nail was driven in.  The experience was so horrific, I jolted upright in bed and scared the living daylights out of Charlie.  I didn’t say what had happened, but I laid there for a long time trying to make sense of it.

The symbols in our dreams are often conjured up by the subconscious to be so powerful that we don’t forget them in the daylight because there is some lesson there to be contemplated and understood.

I think for me, this is a reminder that nothing of any value or goodness in this life ever comes without sacrifice, hardship and just plain hard work and of course, that one must persevere at all cost.

For so long I’ve hidden away from my writing thinking that because I was going through a life change so horrible, I couldn’t be of any inspiration to anyone.  I held myself to a silly standard that said that if I couldn’t be a bright shining star, I had nothing to offer.  I let my brain take over and broke my cardinal rule which says that the heart should always lead, no matter what.  The brain will always point out failures and mistakes, misjudgments, misgivings, lamentations…all the stuff the that squelches the spirit.  Conversely the heart, which lives in a state of total honesty and love, in constant union with God, will keep that tiny flame of hope alive beyond all things of this world.

Sometimes the most important life teachings come in the form of periods of darkness, where one has to dig deep to come out the other side, where one has to cultivate courage, in order to persevere even in the face of possible failure.

A dear friend of mine has been here all along repeating to me what I’ve always told others…”ask yourself what lesson the Universe is trying to teach you through all this pain.”

So I asked.

This is what the angels had to say:

“Underneath the shield of physicality, is a place where the deepest love resides.  It cannot be extinguished for this is the spark that connects all to the Divine. Remove the illusions of self-doubt and fear. These are restrictions you’ve placed on yourself, dear child. The time is now to step boldly forth. Bless the darkness, thank it for its lessons, and know that all is well.   Point your heart in the direction of the all-encompassing love of the Father, strengthen your connection to the Divine. Today, life begins anew.”

And yes. They are correct and I have heeded their advice. ❤

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Narrow Road Serenity

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There was a time in my life when it feels like I was much more spiritual.  My favorite little self motivator was a simple phrase, “Take the narrow road”.  In any situation I faced, I tried to do the opposite of what most people would do.  That meant if I was in a store and the clerk was making mistake after mistake and everyone else was upset, I’d come through and be kind and offer some form of compliment in order to help the clerk adjust her mood towards the positive. It meant that if I knew a friend was lying to me; instead of calling attention to that fact, I’d remain silent and offer some form of kindness as my response.  When the Catholic church decided to change the rules about receiving communion to standing instead of kneeling, I continued to kneel.

All of these things were my little love notes to God in thanksgiving for the graces and Blessings I’d received in my life and for the ones yet to come.  I look back on those times now and remember the enormous sense of serenity I carried with me.  No one ever told me I had to do these things; I chose to do them. Serenity was the natural by-product of my acting in accordance to my personal truth. I like being kind to people. It makes me happy.

I also remember it being a time I was very diligent about my prayers and strict about simple things like when to turn the television off and go to bed.  (I’m one of those people that if the TV is on, I’ll fight sleeping rather than turn it off, because I want to see what comes next.)  It’s so stupid really, so back in the day, I used to ask myself if what I was watching was going to contribute to my life in any way, shape or form.  If the answer was no, and it always was, I’d turn the blasted box off.

I think in retrospect it all goes back to feeding the spirit.  My life was simple then because I made the choice to keep it uncluttered.

It may not be AS simple right now with all that I have going on, but I still try to remember to take the narrow road. I continue to try to do the things that have always proven to bring me peace.

What are some of the things YOU do to feed your spirit?  If you can’t think of any off the top of your head perhaps it’s time to reassess.  These days, we aren’t going to find much from an outside source that will automatically do this for us.  It’s a choice.

“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”  Matthew 7:14

 

Note:  Interestingly, today happens to be the official first day of my two-week cleanse. (Certain to feed this girl’s spirit as well as her body.)I started the morning with a shake, made another one for lunch and dinner tonight will be salmon, coconut rice, mango salsa and steamed broccoli. No more cocktails for two weeks. I won’t lie. That part isn’t at the top of my list of easy things to give up. Can I do it? We shall see!

I am just about to hit the kitchen to start cooking. Today I feel strong and determined and happy about this decision.

(I also took my first-day photo over again, but I won’t post them until the end of the two weeks.)

Best Laid Plans

    “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” -David Allen
    The plan for this past weekend was to finally get our house back in good order and cleaned after the past three months of traveling back and forth to Chicago. The last trip we made there, we brought back furniture and other items that my beloved mother-in-law wanted us to have. Said items have been sitting in the middle of our family room, with no place to go, for weeks. It’s amazing to me that I’ve let them sit there this long because I am not a person who lives well with clutter. In fact, clutter tends to make me crazier than I usually am and that is never a good thing.
    So, the plan was to re-organize and clean in order that today I could begin my two-week cleanse on a good note.
    It didn’t happen.
    Last week I was wandering around on Facebook when a friend posted the picture of a dog she’d just encountered. She was asking that someone adopt the little guy because he was far too cute to be in doggie jail. His story was that his owner died and he was placed in a shelter and was on death row because of his age. (He is 7.) Our local rescue went and got him and he was up for adoption.
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This is Sam

    It was more his story that got to me than his cute face. This is because I had a beloved dog, Jack, who came to me in exactly the same manner. We got Jack at age 5 and just last year at the ripe old age of 16, we finally had to let him go. It was devastating. Jack had been my constant companion all those years. In fact, he had even gone to the office with me daily. He was little, but he was fearless and he left a huge hole in our hearts when we had to let him go.
    I took one look at Sam, read his story and I knew he was waiting for us to come and get him. Without ever meeting him in person, we immediately did the paperwork and turned it in within 24 hours.
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Jack, the office dog

Friday evening we’d just settled in for the night. The pizza was in the oven and we were sipping wine and chatting about the day when the phone rang. We’d been approved and when would we like to come and pick Sam up! OMG! OMG! I was unprepared for being as excited as I was. When I hung up the phone I jumped around the house like an adolescent who was just told she was going to Disneyland! Then of course, I made my husband swear that we would get up early and get the house in order! I was so excited and nervous, I barely closed my eyes all night.

Saturday morning came and although we did get a lot of furniture moved upstairs, we simply did not have time enough (or energy) to do a full re-organize or clean! We were off to pick up our new baby, Sam.

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This is what Sam really looks like!

Two days into having the little guy, my heart is full. It’s such an interesting realization of how much I truly missed having a little one in the house. He walked in like he owned the place, exactly as Jack did so many years ago. I had no idea how much I loved Jack until this little being came onto the scene. There are so many similarities between the two. Even our other dog, Chinah, who is 14, got excited about having another little brother. What a Blessing!

So how does this all work into the 2 week cleanse I was supposed to start today? First off, the protein shake mix I re-ordered from Usana did not arrive on Friday as expected. Instead, I am told it will be arriving tomorrow. (Built in excuse not to start today #1) Second, the house is still a complete wreck. (Lame excuse #2) I got a new puppy dog. (Okay, that doesn’t even pass as an excuse, does it?)

On the way to work this morning I did take a photo of my face because I said I was going to photograph  my face every day in order to note any differences. Good grief do I look bad! Granted, I have not slept a full night in about a week or more. All I can see is puffy, tired eyes and wrinkles everywhere. Wrinkles. Humph. My skin is dry and dehydrated and I look old and just generally horrible. I am not just being overly critical. Do I have the guts to post said photo? Oh double hell to the double no. I did take a bathroom selfie when I got to the office this morning. I MIGHT post that one. I will save the close up head shots until the end of two weeks and then I will post them all together.

Now I have a few built in excuses not to start and I have one very ugly real reason not to give into stupid excuses. This morning for breakfast I had half an avocado mixed with sliced baby cucumbers, baby heirloom tomatoes, and red onion marinated in balsamic vinegar & olive oil and a side of about two tablespoons of cottage cheese. For lunch I made a salad of romaine lettuce, organic carrots and celery and a small avocado. My feeling is that I can at least eat healthy until the shake mixes come, right? Tonight we had all ready planned Italian for dinner (hubby’s choice). I will consider today a win if I can have dinner early -sans the wine that usually goes with it. Otherwise, I will wake up tomorrow and begin again. How I truly will hate that, but it is what it is.

Here are some positives I can take away from all of this:

  1. Perhaps I am meant to break out of the psychosis that tells me I can only begin new things on Mondays. Maybe I am supposed to begin this project on a Wednesday, which is typically the hardest day of the week for me.
  2. In keeping with that line of thought, maybe my house doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to start a new project.
  3. I think Sam was sent to me by Jack. This has nothing to do with my project -unless I mention that Sam really likes to walk. I need exercise and walking seems doable.
  4. The Lord works in truly mysterious ways and I am grateful no matter what.

I woke up feeling happy and Blessed (because of Sam), but also anxious about not having the tools to start my cleanse today. My opening quote about being stressed about not finishing something one has started is so true. Of course, I haven’t really started yet, have I? Argh.

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Risky Business.

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I was up half the night reading and following a lot of blogs. Like I said yesterday, the ones that inspire me most are written by people like me, who are trying to be and do better. I particularly love the ones that tell it like it truly is: the good, the bad, the funny and the ugly.

This morning I have no doubt the Universe is conspiring towards me getting healthier. The minute I sat down to the computer to write, I hit a wrong button that directed me to a page with the headline, “Give Up Alcohol for Two Weeks and These Incredible Things Happen to Your Body!” Okay. Okay. Message received.

So this is me declaring that as of Monday (because by now you should know that I always begin anything new on a Monday), I will embark on a two-week cleanse. (Yes, I am calling it a “cleanse” and you can humor me on this one.) In actuality, it’s supposed to last one month, but I don’t want to start off with that big of a commitment. I still have one more trip to Chicago to go. If my calculations are accurate, that trip is just over two weeks away. So there’s that.

This will of course, mean that in addition to my two protein shakes replacing breakfast and lunch, I will abstain from alcohol and I will eat a sensible, organic meal at night. I was thinking this morning it would be a worthwhile project to take a photo of my face every day for two weeks in order to document the difference.  This will require a huge amount of courage on my part because at the moment, my face and I are not on friendly terms. This also begs the question, “Am I brave enough to actually post the photos?” The jury is currently undecided and will get back to you on that.

The mere thought of doing this gives me anxiety, but I have worse anxiety thinking about never being confident in my appearance again. (Does that sound vain?) I’m so sick of looking and feeling tired and puffy. I equally as sick of feeling like life is slipping through my fingers at a rapid pace. I desperately need a jump-start and so this will be it.

I am not going to even try to pretend this will be easy. It won’t. I do very well following a prescribed plan, but I have some huge triggers to overcome. In past blogs I’ve spoken about Wednesdays and Thursdays being hard, but I haven’t actually been that honest about why Thursdays are such a big deal. I think it’s important for me at this time to drop my guard, so expect for me to get very honest and open.

Great things never come from comfort zones, right?

.risky

 

 

 

Journey to the Cocoon

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What seems like a hundred years ago I used to be one of the top bloggers at MySpace (back when MySpace) was popular. (Stop laughing.) Like clockwork, I began every morning at the computer taking dictation from my heart. I wrote from my soul, with passion, about anything and everything. Nothing was off-limits. It came to me very easily.

Lately I’ve been traveling around other people’s blogs and have found a few that really speak to me on a heart level. Most of them are written about real-life struggles with depression, addiction, family issues and the like. Most of them are about sweet people trying to fight their way back (or towards) a healthier way of life. I can relate on so many levels. This is a worthy fight that I feel continually part of.

I admire the people who are able to write from the place of brutal honesty. It seems like I have been spinning my wheels trying to get back to that place for a long time. Somewhere along the line I’ve become guarded with my expression of what’s inside me. I really want that to end. I want to be able to write like I used to write. I want to rid myself of anything that is currently in my way.

Okay a little side note here: The moment I typed that last sentence, “I want to rid myself of anything that is currently in my way.”, a box popped up on my screen that actually said, “Bill W. is in need of catering this weekend.” Don’t A.A. people say something like, “Are you friends with Bill W?” Ha Ha. (So funny how the Universe works. Looks like I’ll be ridding myself of my evening cocktail come Monday.)

This morning for no apparent reason I decided to go visit an old blog of mine and this is what popped up. I think the Universe wants me to post it for my new blogger friends who are working on themselves. It’s for me too, because I seem to be a constant work in progress!

Metamorphosis

I am no fan of the caterpillar.

Funny, as children we joyfully grab them from the pavement, talk to them, pet them, let them crawl on us and even try to keep them in jars.  Thirty years later the mere site of one gives me the heebie jeebies.  Gross!

Last week after watching hundreds of these slinky silken beings travel across my deck and front porch-each of them in search of a safe haven in which to transform- I had an epiphany.

Maybe as children we intrinsically recognize the caterpillar as part of our own selves.  I can remember feeling a certain empathy for these creatures, which is probably why I used to pick them up and carry them across the parking lot, assuring them a safe journey to the woods.  I didn’t want to see a single one meet an untimely and squishy death.

Today I ponder the fact that we are all a part of the caterpillar and vice versa.  In a sense we are all trying to make our way across the asphalt jungle of life, trying to get to a place where we can finally feel free enough to release our inner beauty.  I look back on my own life and recognize there have been a lot of little kid hands lifting me up and carrying me when I didn’t feel I could make it across the lot on my own.

Over the weekend I saw a caterpillar making his way up my front door.  I didn’t stop long enough to see where he was trying to go, nor did I really care.  I was busy with my list of tasks for the day.  A little later on, after I’d been in and out a few more times, I noticed something interesting.  He’d spun his cocoon and gone into his chrysalis right on my doorbell button!  What a fitting symbol for me at this time in my life.

The butterfly has been a personal sign of mine for many years (I’m sure I am not alone in this).  Throughout my life I’ve had many experiences of cocooning, hiding myself away from the rest of the world, spun into my own little nest, trying to transform and emerge anew.  Maybe this is why I recoil when I see a caterpillar. Eek, bluck, and gross. Sometimes it’s not easy remembering the journey to the cocoon, even when we have all ready transformed into butterflies.

That caterpillar deliberately placed himself on my doorbell so I would see him every day and be reminded that I am Blessed beyond comprehension.  In just a short while, he will emerge a transformed being to fly off and begin anew.  In much the same manner, I will be opening the door to a new and wonderful life as well.

The door bell?  Well of course you do know that “every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings”?  (Couldn’t resist that one, sorry)

The butterfly is a universal symbol for the transformation of life.   It is a symbol of great joy and great change.

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But most importantly, butterflies remind us that the power of metamorphosis is always within our reach.

May you find a caterpillar at your front door very soon!

Reflection Imperfection.

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As I stated yesterday, I wasn’t in a very good frame of mind for a Monday. (I usually love a Monday–clean slate and all that good stuff–but not yesterday.) This morning again, I wasn’t feeling my best self, but I DID force myself to get in the kitchen and make my two shakes for the day. Both of them today are plant-based protein from Usana.com. I added a couple of strawberries, a tiny bit of banana, a couple of raspberries, some aloe juice & a dash (just a dash) of honey. I have to say they are not the best tasting things on the planet but they do fill me up. Usually after the first day, I adjust nicely and best of all, any and all cravings go away. The other benefit is that this stuff is so expensive, I wouldn’t dream of cheating!

Still even having accomplished this small task, I felt a bit sad. Of course, I know why. For whatever reason I am NOT doing the things I know I need to do in order to feel emotionally balanced. Typically, the first thing I need to do in the morning is sit quietly to write in my prayer journal. Today I sat right next to it; I stared at it; I contemplated it; but I didn’t write in it. Instead, I ran off to figure out what to wear today.

I arrived at work this morning and as I was running around opening the office, turning off the alarms, turning on the phones, etc. I stopped at the front desk where I found a small piece of white paper.  I picked it up prepared to throw it in the garbage, but when I turned it over I discovered the following:

A Prayer For Today:

This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good, but what I do today is important because I am exchanging a DAY of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss; good and not evil; success and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

Amen

I stood there reading it knowing darned well this was a not-so-subtle message from above. This is relevant to me because yesterday afternoon as I sat there on the couch, I felt depressed, defeated, drained and sad. Of course I did. I didn’t do a thing to improve my mood. In fact, I did the exact opposite and what for? Self sabotage? Self punishment?

Isn’t it funny that sometimes when a person is all ready feeling low, self punishment can come into play? We think we are comforting ourselves, but in reality, we are doing the polar opposite. So I will just own the fact that on the way home yesterday we stopped at McDonald’s and ate Mcdoubles and french fries. (I feel so dirty saying this!) This is almost unimaginable to me. We NEVER eat fast food; and I mean not EVER. Who’s idea was it? Mine.

Message received loud and clear, God. I will not exchange another day of my life for a minute’s worth of unhealthy behavior. I will use this day for good. I will succeed and I will not regret the price I paid for it.

Amen. Amen. Amen. (and thank You!)

More tomorrow.

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I don’t feel like it.

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How is it possible to wake up on a Monday and feel defeated even before I’ve had breakfast? I had a perfectly lovely day yesterday and I went to bed feeling grateful and happy.

(I had slated today to begin my protein shake program again since the last time I did it I was interrupted by a trip to Chicago.)

Yet, this morning when Charlie asked me if I was ready for my shake, I told him no. I don’t feel like it today.

I don’t feel like it today?

Translation: I don’t feel like having any rules today. I don’t feel like being restricted. I don’t wanna. I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO!

Looks like yours truly needs a really big attitude adjustment or perhaps just a fresh pair of soul glasses. How is it that just a few weeks ago I was excited to begin this program and not only that, I was having success with it. Today I woke up and said, “No. Not today. Nope.”

I’m tired, for one thing, and for another, I failed to do my preparation work. For me that means that I did not take the time over the weekend to feed my spirit with what it needed. I didn’t take the time to write in my journal. Although I always pray, I did not spend enough time actually feeling my prayers. I didn’t plan for today. I didn’t even think about today. I just went on my merry way letting the spirit blow me around wherever it wanted to.

Did I mention I’m tired?

And so thankfully, tomorrow is another day. This evening I will revisit my reasons for wanting to do the 2 weeks of protein shakes. I will again look at the photos of my pudgy face and squinting eyes and I will reaffirm that I want this face back again.

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Yes, I know it’s been a while but this girl…she’s still in there. Is it wrong to miss my eyelids?  Methinks not. Last time I did this, after just four days I saw signs of this girl coming back to life…

Just so you know, it’s not just the face I would like again, it’s the confidence and the health benefits I want too. I’d like to be able to look in the mirror again and love the face looking at me. I don’t feel that way right now. I don’t feel I even know the person in that mirror.

I just need to set my sites and start again….AGAIN.

And so I will. (I end a lot of stuff like this lately! ha ha)

 

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Day 5 Progress Report. God Sees.

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Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!

To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)

I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be  trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.

So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!

My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.

The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.

I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.

“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.

“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.

“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.

“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.

“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.

When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)

So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.

Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.

Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!

“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.

This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.

“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.

Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.

Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!

And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)

As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)

Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.

So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.

NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!

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So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and  I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.

FullSizeRender (1)                    FullSizeRender (2)

BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
  • Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
  • Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
  • Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile:

While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.

Grateful Heart stays the course.

happy-heart

Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.

 

 

Start Where You Are.

Since most people who are reading this blog are here for the first time, my inclination is to do “the back story of who I am”.  I try to write it and then I erase it.  I write it again and then I erase it again.  It’s too long and too involved and I’m having a hard time finding THE one right place to begin.

I keep hearing, “Start where you are” in my brain. So here I am sitting at my desk. I’ve just had my second Usana protein shake of the day and I must say I’m glad that’s over. Today is Day one of my clean eating, clean living, “return to me” project.

I’m feeling hopeful because it’s Monday (I love the clean slate this day brings each week.) It’s the day I have on my calendar slated to “start again”.

What on earth does that mean?

I quit smoking almost nine months ago, which is huge considering I’ve smoked 40 of my 52 years. I did it “cold turkey” with the absolute resolve in my gut that I just was NOT going to be a smoker any more. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve undertaken, but I’ve stuck to it and I refuse to go back. Oh, the cravings still hit me from time to time but I’ve realized smoking is more of a “brain habit” than a physical one for me. If I sit and think about the act of inhaling cigarette smoke, I immediately know I really do not want a cigarette; I just think I do.

Over time I’ve gotten to a place where I feel out of sync with who I really am, so I picked a date and today’s the day it’s time to start peeling the layers back. One step at a time.

Writing used to be such a huge part of my life. Whenever I take one of those silly Facebook surveys and it asks what my dream job is, the answer is undeniable:  “author”. To be an author, however, requires a person to write and I haven’t done much of that in quite a while. So part of getting back to “me” means exercising the part of my brain that puts words out for others to read. (This is the first installment.) Words used to flow effortlessly out of me. Now, it takes me an entire day to make one page make sense. It will come.

Lastly, no “return to me” would be complete without more regularly exercising my spirituality. I have always been in touch with my other worldliness, and I have always prayed, but I need to get back to my daily talks with God, my communing with the angels and Saints and my being the all-time best “Angelic Troublemaker” I can be! I think somewhere along the line I let this silly physical world take up too much space in my heart. I know how it happened. I know how to make it better and I so I will.

So to recap:

  1. Work on Health
  2. Begin to write again
  3. Exercise my spirituality regularly.

Today is the first day.

Here I come world!