Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vacation....plan to succeed~

Good morning!  Well, the time for our family’s annual week-long up-north ‘get-together’ has arrived along with the first 20 or so family members to invade the north woods for a week of food, fun, activity, and laughter. We have been gathering at the family camp “Pip’s place” since I was just a little girl (almost 45 years) and even though my grandparents and parents have long since passed away, the extended family continues the tradition every year. Typically we top out around 35 people from multiple generations!  This week would have been my grandpa “Pip’s” 100th birthday so we will begin the week today with an old-fashioned centennial picnic after Mass. We will don 1915’s clothing, play croquet, fly kites, and other picnic games.  Other days this week include a 60’s hippie day, redneck day, and Explorer day with a family scavenger hunt. Should be lots of fun if my body holds up and my RA gets settled down.

While weeks like this remind me of how blessed I am to have an extended family, it can be challenging to my one journey because my ‘schedule” is off-kilter (I might even have to stay up until dark for a campfire! LOL…but here I am up at 3:30 a.m. so we will see how that goes!!!) and I am surrounded by a lot of food, drink, and temping treats. We all have our day to cook for the group and other days are potluck style. I’ve managed to make it through these reunions for the past 4 years without giving in, but it takes a lot of determination and pre-planning. Sometimes it means just “leaving” the camp area to avoid the temptation. Mostly it is planning ahead and believing that it can be done.   I have put on 15 pounds since last summer but, believe it or not, it’s not because of eating the wrong foods…..I simply won’t even do that…but other factors like hormonal changes, increased steroids from the RA that is out remission, inability to walk/ride as much due to medical issues, and age….so it is even more important for me to be prepared for this week of eating/feasting/celebrating by planning ahead to succeed. 

Here are some ways I will do that…..and still partake in the festivities…..

Turkey burgers. While the rest enjoy cheeseburgers on the grill, I will make up some turkey burgers and eat one without a bun or even on one slice of 35 calorie bread.

Grilled chicken breasts….my brother will grill me up some plain chicken breasts for today’s chicken BBQ dinner

Lots of frozen vegetables stocked in freezer. Typically I cook a lot of fresh vegetables when I’m not on vacation, but popping a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave is quick and easy and fills the plate so I don’t have room for potato salad or macaroni salad (although I love them). Another tip is to make your salads using a plain yogurt dressing.

The 35 calorie bread works great for me for the big breakfasts. While others are eating Texas toast French toast, I can eat 3 pieces of that bread with sugar free syrup and still feel like I’m eating a treat for less than 200 calories.

Oscar Meyer (I think it is that brand) makes a 50 calorie hot-dog (not the turkey ones) and I’ll roast a few of those at some point this week over a campfire.

For potluck days… I’ll make low calorie dishes to pass so I know that there will be something I can eat and stay on track. I plan on having homemade chunky applesauce type dish in the crock pot sweetened with Splenda and cinnamon and cucumbers with sugar-free/fat free vinaigrette dressing.

Today, for centennial day I’ll be making root beer floats for the gang. They will love them…and I’ll partake by putting a vanilla Greek yogurt (80 calories) in the freezer later and picking up a bottle of diet root beer soda.  To me it will be a way to ‘participate” and not feel deprived.

And of course….lots of fresh fruit and WATERMELON!  I’ll likely eat watermelon at every meal.

My friends…the holiday weekend (in the USA) is coming up. YOU CAN go camping; you can go on vacation; you can celebrate and attend parties and picnics and STILL stay on track, but you must plan ahead. Don’t get caught without something ‘on plan” for you to eat. You won’t have any excuses if you plan ahead and be prepared.  You can do it!!!!  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

there's more to change than weight

This is a great reminder to all of us this morning. While it is important to focus on improving ourselves on this journey to a better the end, it doesn't matter how thin or fit we are if we are not also loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving. Unfortunately, it's often easier to resist a cookie or donut than it is to resist an insult or negative thought. How blessed we are to have a God that is transforming us on the inside as well as the outside.
Have a good day today, my choosing to eat healthy, think positive, and move a bit more today than you did yesterday!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Strive to be better today than yesterday

Happy Friday morning!!! 

Oftentimes, when a person is on a journey to change his/her life, he/she gives up and loses heart simply because he/she seeks PERFECTION rather than PROGRESS.  One slip-up; one bad day; one splurge or occasion of weakness becomes overwhelming and causes one to give up and lose motivation.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who does it perfectly all the time.  We all have struggles. We all have days when we do better than others. We all have days when we make mistakes or don’t live up to our expectations, but only the strong…the truly motivated….the committed shakes the dust off a bad day and starts all over again….even if it’s 15 minutes after breakfast!

Keep in mind that this journey is FOR LIFE….and therefore, to expect to live it perfectly every day for the rest of your life is a bit unrealistic and could set you up for failure.  Instead, try to be better today than yesterday.  Today….I am going to try to be a better, kinder person today than yesterday. That may simply mean to stay positive for longer than yesterday; to smile at one more person than I did yesterday; to say THANK YOU to one more person today; to be a tad bit more patient today than yesterday.  Today, I am going to try to walk 10 more steps than I did yesterday (park one more row over at the grocery store or go the long way around to get to the milk). Today, I am going to use one teaspoon less Splenda in my coffee and eat one less bite of dinner.  Little things… the way we think and act….lead to progress….and progress, over time, leads to successfully reaching our goals/victory…..but I don’t think we will ever reach perfection until we draw our last  breath and meet our maker.

Now….don’t use this as an excuse not to try to be the best.  Bowling a perfect game, earning an A/100%, winning an award, hitting a home-run, getting a promotion, reaching that weight loss goal or earning a 30 day chip…..Those things are attainable….worthwhile……AWESOME……achievements of some things that we can do perfectly…..but PERFECTION in all things, well, that’s something that no human being can achieve.

What will you try to do BETTER today than you did yesterday?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Things aren't that bad

Good Morning… I’ve been up and awake for almost two hours already, but I’ve yet to accomplish anything productive. I’ve been sitting here drinking coffee and trying to get my body to function enough to get busy, but am not making much progress. My Rheumatoid Arthritis has been flaring on-and-off for over a month now and this morning is an especially rough one. My legs ache, my wrist hurts, my entire body is sore and I feel very tired. Admittedly, for the past hour, I’ve been dwelling on how icky I feel and how much I’d rather just go back to bed.  Of course, even though it is my ‘reality”, dwelling or lamenting on my physical discomfort does ABSOLULTELY NOTHING to inspire me to ‘get on with the day” and do what I need to do today, so I’ve been doing what I do most mornings….trying to get myself (with God’s help, prayer, thinking and pondering, etc)…into a place in my mind where I can be energized, motivated, and empowered to “get on with it” and face the day.  This is a daily ritual and part of the reason I get up so early in the morning.

So……as I was just scrolling through Pinterest looking for gardening ideas, the above quote just popped out at me and suddenly, I have my ‘food for thought” today and I’m on my way to making it a good day, regardless of the aches and pains I’m experiencing. The words, “There are people who would love to have your bad days” are incredibly powerful.  They have helped me turn things around and recognize how incredibly blessed I am. 

My toes and feet are hurting and tingling this morning due to inflammation and neuropathy…..but there are people in this world….and in my own life….who have lost a limb due to illness/war/accident.  I bet they would LOVE to feel their toes tingling today.  Yes, I feel pain today…..but how blessed I am to have all my toes and feet….and to be able to walk after years of depending on a cane/walker/electric wheelchair! Thank you, God, that I can walk!

My heels are sore because I have a blister on the back of each of them and they are not healing.  These blisters have been annoying me and bothering me for over a week now and I can’t seem to be able to keep any band-aids on them. Yes, I am conscious of this discomfort at all times, even when I’m not wearing any shoes…..but how blessed I am today that I have well over 60 pair of shoes that I have purchased at garage sales/thrift stores or have been given to me (THANK YOU, group member Stephanie Hundt for the recent additions to my collection!).  For many years I was only able to wear orthopedic slip on shoes; now I have heels in every color! There are many in this world that don’t even have one pair of shoes, or clothes to wear.

I am feeling very fatigued this week due to the RA and I am tired because I haven’t been sleeping well. YES….I am weary…but how blessed I am to have crawled out of a soft, warm bed and have a comfortable lazy boy and a hot cup of coffee as I ‘wake-up” and gather the energy to go take a hot shower.  There are many in this life that struggle with homelessness, or are sleeping in an uncomfortable hospital bed or have been up all night keeping vigil with a loved one/baby who is ill or near death. Others who are fighting for our freedom are catching a few winks in a military bunk/tent. Still others are cold, hungry, or frightened each night when they go to sleep. Thank you, God, for providing for my physical needs with a roof over my head, running water, and heat when it’s cold.

I am expected at work in a few hours and have many things on my plate once I get there. Things have been quite stressful at the office and honestly, I would rather stay home today to work in my garden, enjoy the beautiful sunshine forecasted for today, or float around in my pool…..but how very blessed I am to have a job that I love that provides for my needs, and gives me an opportunity each day to make a difference in someone’s life, and leaves me tired and drained, but feeling quite satisfied at the end of the day!  I was unemployed for 18 months, but this morning I GET to go to work; I GET to wear a cute outfit; I GET to use my gifts/talents to help others and get things done; and I GET to have the weekends off.  Others are struggling with unemployment, are working meaningless jobs with poor working conditions, or dislike their co-workers. Thank you, God, for my job and for those who depend on me, both at work and in my personal life.

There is no question that there are many things about my reality that I would like to be different today and like you, I have my share of burdens/worries/hurts. I could make a list and spend my limited energy this morning feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on those things I don’t like about my life, those who have ‘wronged me” or those things that I think are unfair in this life,  but honestly, how is that going to help me today?  How would it benefit me….empower me…..strengthen me……or fill my day with peace and joy……to dwell on the hurts….the disappointment….the ‘would have/could have/should have’s’…..the weather….the things over which I have NO CONTROL?  I get to choose today to focus on the negative…..or seek the positive and search for the blessings. I can’t control the things that may happen around me today…..but I can choose how I will respond.  

If I choose to focus on my physical pain, or dwell on past hurts, or cling to unforgiveness, resentment, guilt, fear, anger….you name it….. I will give myself every excuse I need to go off my journey or make choices that will cause me to falter. I’ll feel justified in being negative or crabby. I’ll make an excuse to eat when I’m not hungry. I’ll blame others for my bad mood or take things out on someone else.  How is that going to change my life?  Instead….today….. I choose to seek goodness. I choose to realize that what might be a ‘bad day” really isn’t that bad at all when compared to someone else.  I choose to be grateful, and kind, and loving, and while I recognize that I am weak and unable to do this on my own, I am conscious that I have a God that will strengthen me and give me whatever I need to get through the day. I could allow myself to be overcome by how far I need to go…or how hard it is to keep fighting the fight….or…..I could choose to realize how far I’ve come; how strong I am; how blessed I truly am. I chose the latter.

TODAY…. I encourage you to do the same.  Your reality might be very bleak today. Your burden might be extremely heavy. Your life might be full of pain/sadness/difficulty and your road might be long and lonely, but if you really looked around, I’m certain you will find something to be grateful for.  Don’t give in to despair. Don’t lose hope. Don’t let pain, guilt, fear, sadness overcome you.  YOU CAN….change your life….one step at a time.  Things CAN get better… thought at a time.  This too shall pass and better days will be ahead….one hour at a time.  Don’t give up!

On that note….I better drag my sore, aching body to the shower. I’m on a journey………and so are you! Make it a good day!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Faith makes it possible

 If you intend to take a road trip via motor vehicle, train, or airplane, I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t get very far without having gasoline in your tank!  While it is true that there are other forms of transportation you could take (bicycle, foot, horse, etc.), a gas-powered engine is usually the most efficient.  However, keep in mind, that having a tank full of gas DOES NOT guarantee the trip will be without hazards, the road will be smooth and clear, the vehicle will run perfectly, or other travelers will make your trip EASY, but rather; a tank of gas will only make your trip POSSIBLE.  Having a map, a well-thought out route, and good intentions are important, but FUEL is essential to get very far.  Likewise, FAITH, is important for you on your personal journey.

Certainly you could reach your goal without out faith, and having faith does not guarantee that each day will be easy and without struggle…..but IT DOES MAKE IT POSSIBLE.  Faith is the fuel that make me keep going. Faith provides me with the energy that causes me to get out of bed each morning. Faith is the gift from God that gives me strength when I am weary, clarity when I am confused, hope when I am doubtful, and the assurance that I AM NEVER ALONE on the journey.  Faith is what assures me that ALL THINGS are possible……Not easy…..not without effort…..not without struggle……but POSSIBLE.  What a gift God offers to us!

Today, I am going to consciously ask God all day to strengthen my faith and offer a prayer of gratitude that All things are possible!  Have a good start to the week…………..