Sometimes you have to make your own road to get where you want to go.
"A man should look for what is, and not what he thinks there should be." - Albert Einstein
"Don't let schooling interfere with your education." - Mark Twain
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe anything simply because it is found in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." - Buddha
"A single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." - Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The God Complex

          I wanted to share part of a discussion I had with a Christian man that I know personally over the topic of being loving versus being right. I feel like there is a lot that was addressed that other people like him need to hear, so I am sharing. It was followed after a public online political debate in which the last thing I had said to him was that everything isn't always black or white; that much of life is gray and the choices are between what is good, better and best, and what is BEST is to care about love more than being right. He did not feel there was any place for caring about people's feelings when it came to speaking his 'truth.' What is posted below is what followed that debate.

 His response:     
       Love and rightness is a different debate. I could look forward to that one. Some stands you must take despite "feelings." How do you think those in Sodom and Gamorrah felt? I don't care because what they felt was contrary to the truth and statutes of God's. Stephen being stoned made no apologies to the Jews before being stoned, and Peter and Paul certainly didn't. The strength of Love is Christ, without being entwined in this world's view of right, wrong, fairness, and above all "feelings." And despite your argument it is always about right and wrong. If my very good friend who is homosexual is offended by my belief that homosexuality is wrong, do I apologize for how that makes them feel? No. There is no gray area. There is right and wrong. Plain and simple. God will not judge us in gray areas. Just right and wrong.

My response:
       There ARE gray areas. Example: Lying. Sometimes it's the right thing to do, but sometimes it's wrong. The only way to know when it's ok to lie is by seeking God on the particular subject in question. If I were to hold the belief that lying is always sinful, no exceptions, then it would have been sinful for Germans to hide Jews in their houses during WWII. Plenty of lies have been told for the sake of preserving human life. If someone asks me what I think of their outfit, and I don't particularly like it, but they clearly love it, then I'm not going to be honest with them about that. Just ask yourself a couple of questions: do they really want an honest answer or just a confirmation of what they already believe about the outfit? Would it benefit them to tell them the truth? If you already know THEY love it, then why should it matter what you or anyone else thinks? Keep them ignorant of your opinion, and don't strip them of their happiness! Lying= gray area.
       Example: Sex before marriage. What is marriage to God? Is it a piece of paper? Is it a commitments? Or is it both? If a couple commits themselves to each other, and hasn't yet gotten to their wedding day, or chooses to not get legally married for financial or political purposes, are they sinning if they have sex? And if they do get married legally was it ok for them to have sex if they got divorced five years later for not being able to get along because they were no more committed to each other than a man in the moon? If they got divorced for a stupid reason like not being able to get along, then obviously no commitment was made, in which case were they ever really married by God's standards to begin with?  These are questions that only God knows the answer to because only God knows their hearts. They are not for man to judge. They are grey areas. Not black and white. I personally believe that if you are committed to each other and God knows that, then it would not be sinning to have sex even if you are not legally married. And as far as people having sex who aren't in a committed relationship, well that's just not my business, nor yours. They answer to God only, not you. Sex outside of legal marriage= gray area.
       Example: Divorce. Now I feel confident when I say that most reasons for divorce are stupid. If you get divorced less than 5 years into your marriage for any reasons, you are just a quitter. At least give it more time. Marriage is hard work and it takes sacrifice, compromise and struggles. Even if your spouse cheats on you, if you really love them, you can forgive them and work through that. I've seen it happen. But ya know, there are just some instances where divorce is actually the best solution. If a woman made a mistake by marrying a man that abuses her or her kids, I would EXPECT her to wise up and divorce that son of a bitch. I would never believe that it is sinful for a woman to divorce her abuser. On the contrary, divorcing him would instead be her way of correcting her mistake of marrying him in the first place. There are many people who are hasty to jump into marriage. Their standards are too low and they just marry a really bad person. Should we not think it to be ok with the God of the Universe for them to get back on the right path by denouncing their mistake and divorcing the person? A very close friend of mine found out his spouse had been laundering money from her boss and when law enforcement caught her, she had stolen over $25,000. She was also his business manager for his store that he owned, and unbeknown to him, she had been stealing from the family business as well instead of paying the bills. By the time he found out what was going on, the business tanked and she left him bankrupt. Grounds for a divorce? I think it's safe to say yes and he did just that. You can't be married to a person who you can't even trust to not steal from your bank accounts. So though most divorces are unnecessary, are they all wrong? I don't feel they all are. It's different for different situations and only God knows. You don't know everything a person has been through or endured in their personal marriage, therefore you cannot make the judgement whether they are justified in getting a divorce or not. Only God knows their hearts and can judge that. Divorce= gray area.
       Example: I have a friend that her 12 year old daughter who is slow was raped by her uncle. Terrible story, I know. She got pregnant. They knew within a few weeks of conception because the girl told her older sister the day it happened and they monitored her period. They immediately confirmed that it was true with an exam. My friend was devastated. Her little girl had just hit puberty not even a year prior to the event. She was at a loss for what to do but new she needed to think fast. Had it been her, she would have kept the baby, but that was her daughter, a 12 year old little petite thing that couldn't even fully function at a normal level. She was ridiculed enough as it was and my friend knew that her daughter could not  physically handle a pregnancy and delivery. She considered adoption because there was no way they could keep the baby, but a family friend who is a social worker told her that the chances of someone adopting a baby that would probably be handicapped as a product of incest was slim to none. She was told that the baby would almost certainly go into the foster care system instead of adoption, where the majority of foster kids are either abused or neglected. This hit home for her because she spent half of her own childhood being passed through foster homes and abused by one of her foster moms. She would never want that for any child. Still, she really weighed her options. So after much praying and crying, she decided that since her daughter was only about a month along in the pregnancy, it was the best choice to have an abortion. They went through with it with no problems and the little girl is now 15, living a normal life, and didn't have to miss her childhood or deal with the burdens of pregnancy that possibly could have killed her. She doesn't have any memory of having an abortion because she was unaware of what exactly was going on, nor did she even understand what an abortion was. My friends daughter went through therapy for a year and she seems to be doing great. Now do I believe having the abortion in this special case was sinful? No I do not. I think they really did make a tough decision that was the right one for the best interest of that little girl AND for the baby that could have been. God knew their hearts and I really do believe they were seeking God on the matter and He gave them peace about their decision. But unless you actually are in my friends shoes or anywhere close to the situation, its very easy to judge and say "Black and white, black and white! Abortion is a sin, period!" which a lot of people at their church who found out did. They had to leave the church as a result of the drama that was started, and because of the judgement and condemnation my friend got from so many people in the church, it turned her off to church altogether and they no longer go. Her life actually became a lot more peaceful when they stopped going. The majority of abortions I'm sure are for no other reason that not wanting to deal with the consequences of poor choices, in which case it is probably wrong, but still none of yours or my business. But we can't deny the fact that there are some instances, as few as they may be, where terminating the pregnancy, whether using the morning after pill or abortion, is the best choice. The only way to know? Seek God.  Again, it's a GRAY area.
       So I'm sorry, I have seen and experienced enough to know that there ARE a lot of gray areas in life. Situations that choices for some people might be sinful but for others in the right circumstances are not. And they have to listen to God to know what to do because it isn't about right or wrong, its about what's good, better, or best. Even the Apostle Paul said "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." Now I realize some things are very much black and white. Stealing, cheating on your spouse, bearing false witness against another, pre meditated murder, rape, hatred, pride, condemning others. All these are always wrong. There's no room for exceptions.
       And I'm not talking about the "worlds" view of right and wrong when I speak about all this. I'm talking about people realizing they need to stop acting like they are responsible for telling others how to live and whether they are sinning or not sinning or living for God or not living for God. People need to start living their own lives and let others be. Sure, if you see someone that is clearly hurting himself or someone else, then as a friend, it is good to step in and offer some encouragement to change in a kind and loving manner. If you just go shoot your mouth off with your truth with no regard to their feelings, you will automatically build a wall between you and the person. Your efforts will be in vain. Even if what you have to say is legit, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. That's the truth. And many times you will do more harm than good trying to TELL a person how to live.
        I have found the best approach is to encourage them to be better. Lift them up and help them see their potential. Help them to believe that they CAN be better, then use your own life as an example of how they should live. If your own life isn't happy and rich in blessings, and you haven't developed trust and respect from people, then you aren't the person to do such things because your example is not a good one. No one wants to take advice about how to have a good happy life or how to develop character from someone they can't stand who has a life that appears to be less than desirable. If your life is joyful and abundant in blessings, and you are kind and wise and have proven yourself to be trustworthy, then trust me, they will follow your lead and want to know what you do that makes your life the way it is. They will ASK without you having push it on them. I experience this every single week with messages from people asking for my advice about parenting, marriage, health, etc. Some just wanting to say thank you for encouraging them and posting just the right things they need to hear. Some have even pleaded with me to help them understand what I do to be so happy so they can do the same. I will offer guidance if someone seeks it, but I don't force my views on people anymore. If there is a door to help, I will take it, but if I can tell it won't be accepted, I move on. I don't waste my breath and energy. I know God will teach them with or without me. I simply live a life of happiness and abundance, and everywhere I go I encourage as many people as I can in a positive non judgemental way, and believe it or not, people flock! They really do! Because positivity is contagious! People are in sinking ships and positivity is the life boat.
        Yes, they need to know the error of their ways, and some people need to have it given to them straight and to the point, but people will see the error of their ways when they compare your life to their own. They will recognize it when they see the differences between how you live and how they live; the attitudes you maintain and the attitudes they maintain. They will know what they need to change and they will take cues from you on how to change them. They WILL see because people are starving for happiness. They are starving for spirituality. They are starving for GOD, and they will listen and follow where there is a person who actually LIVES what they desire and long for. Not just speaks it and preaches it, but LIVES it and can show them the way of going about obtaining it.
       Something also to consider- you have to always test your own intentions before you ever try to 'help' someone. You gotta ask yourself why you want to interfere with what they are doing. Even if what they are doing is  blatantly wrong, if you are correcting them for any other reason that to love them and help them, you're in the wrong too. When you are more concerned about putting someone in their place than actually being affective, you're doing it for prideful, selfish purposes, and in that case you're a hypocrite. Remove the plank from your own eye before you try to remove the dirt from someone else's
       You might not, but I do care about peoples feelings. People will remember you for how you made them feel. I don't care how you interpret the Bible. Bible or no Bible, God speaks to my heart and I listen. I know the whisper and the wrenching in my gut and I am familiar with it. And I know in my soul how to treat people. People need love and hope, not Biblical doctrines shoved down their throat. I have helped numerous people (Christians and unbelievers both) turn their lives completely around and see positive results FAR more than I ever was able to with that Baptist Christian 'I-have-all-the-answers-turn-or-burn' mentality and approach. This is only because I realized my ignorance, pulled my head out of my ass and actually sought GOD, not a religion, on how to deal with individual people in each individual circumstance. We aren't identical robots that need an instruction manual... we are a diverse group of individual unique human beings with individual unique lives, circumstances and needs, and we should be treated as so.
       I could sit here and debate you for months on end about any topic you wish with the Bible as my source simply because I can interpret the Bible any way I like to fit what I need and want it to say. You can too. Pastors do it all the time. It's the reason why we have over 700 different religions/denominations based on the same book. But I won't do that because I don't give two hoots in hell about interpretations of words on a page that even the most knowledgeable of theologians and Biblical scholars can't agree on. I do however know what I feel in my heart. I know love. I know compassion. I know what it feels like to need grace and encouragement when I am fighting to figure my life out, and I know I want to give that to other people. I have met some that need less encouragement and more tough love. Their hearts are harder. They're too prideful. They need a spoonful of their own medicine and for someone to make them eat their words in order for them to learn the lesson. I can give that too if necessary, but it requires seeking God on when is the right time for that and who needs it. We each have different needs based on our experiences and personalities, and timing and presentation is crucial with those people. It takes a certain intuitiveness to be able to determine that, and I am wise enough to know that I may not be the person for the job. I will not jump in and stick my nose into someone else's character building process unless all the signs are right. If it IS my place, I will know with certainty, like I did with you, otherwise I mind my own business.
       You said, "If my very good friend who is homosexual is offended by my belief that homosexuality is wrong, do I apologize for how that makes them feel? No."
       If they are offended by your belief, no you shouldn't have to apologize, nor should he for being homosexual as long as you both keep your opinions to yourselves. It isn't your belief that you would have to apologize for anyway. It is how you PRESENT your belief that you might have to apologize for. If you meet a guy and he is gay, and after getting to know him you just offer up the info that you think homosexuality is sinful and perverted and he needs to check himself with God without him asking your opinion on the matter, then I would personally stomp on your foot. It might not be wrong for you to have an opinion or even present it, but it wasn't warranted and it certainly isn't what is BEST because you would obviously offend him. You have no idea what his relationship with God is like and how dare you even judge such a thing! Are you the Creator? Is his homosexuality affecting you personally? Do you know him well enough to be certain it is negatively affecting him or others? If the answers are no, then keep your mouth shut because it doesn't matter!  And if the topic comes up and you are asked to state your belief, then do so in a respectful manner. If they get offended then they get offended. If they didn't want to know then they shouldn't have asked. But even then, you can disagree with homosexuality and still be respectful to the person. Acting all homophobic and grossed out is going to hurt their feelings and would be wrong. If you can't help it and they just make you uncomfortable with their flamboyancy, hide your disgust and politely excuse yourself so as to not offend. Its a free country, so if you don't like something, no one is forcing you to be around it. Just leave. This is common courtesy. On the same note, if a gay man already knows that you are bothered by homosexuality and he chooses to enter your presence in an in-your-face manner that he knows will offend you, then he is just as much in the wrong. This isn't about whether homosexuality is right or wrong- that's a whole other debate that I wouldn't even waste my time on with you. The point is, it doesn't matter who you are, if you know something is offensive to someone, you don't go out of your way to do or say it. It's an ugly thing to do and certainly not 'Christlike.'
       I'm not going to debate you on what you should be ok with or not be okay with. That's between you and God. Your personal convictions about what is sinful and what isn't is your business and it makes no difference to my life. The point of the discussion is that when debating such topics with others (if its wise to even debate them at every opportunity, which I don't believe it is), should we just present our side as straight and too the point as possible? Or should we be sensitive to others feelings and personal beliefs? Well, I believe it depends on the debate and who you're debating with. If you're in an actual debate class, then obviously fire away with no regard to feelings! But the real world isn't a debate class. Its situational, which makes this also a gray topic. Its not black and white.
       I think that's the whole point. If everything in life were black and white there would be no exceptions, and guess what that would mean? ...No need to seek God.  Your belief that everything is black and white with no exceptions eliminates the need for an interactive God because we would already know that these things over here are always right for everyone, and these things over here are always wrong for everyone. But that's not life. The point is growth, and the only way to grow is to have a need to seek God. And people need to start doing that and allow others the freedom to start doing it and stop trying to dictate everyone elses life. If everyone just cleaned up their own garbage, stopped worrying so much about what everyone else is doing and just loved each other, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

Any questions?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hop on board! There's room for everyone!

          I’m so glad I'm my own boss. I don't have to get dressed for work if I don't want to, can sleep in if I feel like it, answer only to myself (and Sean of course), and don't have to be away from my babies during the day. I don't have to accept a job if I don't want to since I do my job for the love of art, not because I need the money, and yet when I'm working it pays decently. I'm living my dream.
          But don't think it came easy. We sacrificed money and nice things for a long time to only live off of one income, but when Sean and I got engaged I said, "This is the life I want one day. Are you with me? If you are, get with the program NOW before we get married, so I know that my plan can unfold. I will not marry a man that can't support a family without me." And I meant that. He knew I meant that when I postponed the wedding until he landed a job I was satisfied with. I gave him an out. 
           So he made his choice and got with the program. He made a career choice that didn't pay a lot at first but we knew he would be getting regular raises over those next few years. We adjusted our life solely to his income before I got pregnant to make sure we could do it, so when our first child came, our lifestyle didn’t take a dramatic blow. It wasn't easy seeing other friends our own age buy the nice new homes and nice cars while we were renting a tiny old house in the ghetto and driving older used vehicles that needed lots of work. It wasn't easy seeing our peers live in pretty big brick houses in nice restricted subdivisions when we bought our first house that is truly a starter house on a less than desirable street. But ya know what? We turned our little 1950 renovated wood frame house into a nice comfortable home, and I got to be there for my babies.
           I didn't work my children into my lifestyle, rather I worked my lifestyle around my children because I didn't want someone else doing for my kids what I wanted to do myself. Our kids being raised by only their parents was far more important to us than me working so that we could afford a nicer house and material things.
            Even once we were making enough money to increase our material things, we chose to use the increase primarily on food. We knew changing our eating habits to only whole organic foods was going to be an expensive transition, but once again, we were willing to sacrifice material possessions for the sake of our families health. And it has paid off tremendously. Sean and I understood that happiness doesn't increase by being able to "keep up with the Jones's" but primarily by establishing close functional relationships with the people that matter most and by being healthy and vibrant in both body and mind.
           We have worked together over the last 3 years at making decisions that has brought Sean presently to a place in his career where he makes an income that's the equivalent of what many couples make together. Financially speaking, life has been gradually getting easier and easier over the years and just in the last year his income has literally been skyrocketing. We can now finally afford to live like many of our peers did a while back, and we didn't sacrifice what mattered most in order to get here. It took us longer to achieve, but we were willing to be patient for the sake of our kids and our marriage.
           And now, because of the tough choices we made early on, I can live my dream. When the kids start school, painting, drawing and writing will be my full time job and I will STILL get to be a stay home mom. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am, and my excitement is growing still because Sean is in the process of starting his own business as well. It will take a year or two to get to a place where he can quit his regular full time job, but eventually he will be able to do just that, and then he can fully live his dream too, working from home doing exactly what he loves and is passionate about. We will both only answer to ourselves and each other and get to be together more and spend even more time with the kids.
           So this has been the process of creating life the way we want it. I firmly believe in the law of attraction. I believe we attract negative or positive circumstances to us by the images and emotions we habitually think and feel. I believe having faith that what you want is already yours is what manifests it, but faith without works is dead. When you want something, are you not willing to work for it? If you truly believe what you want is on its way to you, then wouldn’t you take whatever steps are necessary to insure that you receive it as quickly and efficiently as possible?
           I say this because there are many who want to be angry that my life is what I want it to be and theirs is not, but they fail to acknowledge that my life is happier and more successful than theirs because I have done things drastically different than they have. They can’t very well expect to have the same outcome as me when we have been living our lives differently since adolescents. It’s about choices.

A.     You choose who you marry. That is not something you are forced into. You may FEEL forced, but you are not. It is your decision and only yours. And if you marry strictly because you accidentally conceived a child together, you must acknowledge that, once again, it was a CHOICE to sleep together before due time. An unplanned pregnancy is the consequence of your choice and you were old enough and knowledgeable enough to know it was a risk. Having a child on the way limits your immediate choices for your life and complicates it multiple times over. And if you choose to marry your child’s other parent for any other reason than love, you have complicated it even more. YOU and only you are responsible for your difficult life now.  

B.     You choose your lifestyle. Why do you think there are people who are filthy rich, but you would never know it because they live very modestly and give much of what they have? Just because you have lots of money doesn’t mean you have to max yourself out. If you have not learned the balance between spending and saving and what to spend and save for, you will suffer the consequences of that. And if you have landed yourself in tons of credit card debt, it’s because you were living well above your means, and no one but you can be blamed for that. Society doesn’t force you to keep up by making you feel like less if you can’t. Believe it or not, you do have the choice to give “society” the middle finger and do what you know is right and best for your individual life. You don’t have to convince anyone of what your priorities are. Just show me where you spend your money and I will tell you what your priorities are.

C.     You choose how to raise your kids. You can insure that they will be happy, well behaved, independent, trustworthy, respectful kids. This is all determined by what kind of parent you CHOOSE to be… how consistent your discipline is, whether you neglected them or not, how much you made them feel loved, whether you made them top priority or not, and what kind of relationship they saw between you and their other parent.

D.     You choose your career path. You choose your job. This is a tough one that many will argue is something that you just can’t help for whatever reason, and I’m here to say that whatever excuse you have, it isn’t so great that it won’t allow you to make a choice that will give you the most desirable end result. Depending on the family and social class you came from, it may be REAL hard work to do what you want to do, but is your happiness worth it? Or will you just give up and allow others to decide your future for you?

E.      You choose whether to let others affect you or not. No one ever forced you to feel angry or depressed. Emotions may seem involuntary, but believe it or not, you can counteract a negative emotion by willing yourself to feel positive ones.

          All of these areas of my life I paid very close attention to. I made sure I knew the man I chose to marry and that he met my most important standards. I made sure we were on the same page about important topics like parenting, religion and money before we even got engaged. When we faced rough patches in our relationship, I was determined to work them out. As hard as it was, I never gave up on my husband and on our marriage. I just kept fighting for what I knew I wanted. I was determined to reach my goals and I made sure my priorities were right. I put my kids and marriage first. I worked really hard. I sacrificed a lot for awhile. I showed endurance. I made a lot of wise choices, and when I made a lousy choice, I took responsibility for it, learned from it and kept moving forward.
           There is no doubt something greater than me that makes all this possible and that I have gratitude for, for all the blessings that have been provided and doors that have been opened to me, but I do take credit for my life- both achievements and mistakes- because they were MY choices to make, and I made them.
           So if my life seems to be reaping more blessings and rewards than someone else, it is only because I did and continue to do things differently that they do. (As a side note, you should know that how blessed your life is has NOTHING to do with whether you are a Christian or not. If this was so then my life would have been richer in blessings when I was a diehard Christian than it is now. In fact, according to what many Christian denominations teach, my life should be lacking in blessings since denouncing Christianity, but on the contrary, my life is much happier and blessed since blowing off religion.) Maybe I have more endurance. Maybe I have higher standards for my life. Maybe it’s because I have always thought it better to learn from others mistakes rather than making my own. Or maybe it’s just because I have greater faith that the things I want out of life already belong to me. It’s quite possibly all of the above. Our lives are the sum of all our choices, and this includes our choice of how to think, so if you don’t particularly care for where you have ended up, know that you have yourself to thank for taking you there. This is going to piss some people off who don’t want to believe that the negativity in their lives is their fault. People can’t understand how things that involve other people doing something TO them are their fault. They also don’t understand how something that SEEMS out of their control, like failing health, or a terrible accident, or being laid off can be their fault.
          And don’t misunderstand me… they might not be directly to blame. If they’re riding along on their bike and a Mack truck comes out of nowhere, runs a stop sign and pummels them down, obviously in that precise moment, the driver is the one at fault and should suffer the consequences for what he’s done to them. They definitely deserve compensation for their suffering. But if they would understand that their overall attitude about life and each individual moment to moment decision that is made literally FORMS their lives, they would then see that a deep shift in their way of thinking could have allowed them to avoid the accident altogether. Or maybe, just maybe, the truck hitting them set off a chain of events that can teach them a valuable lesson or bring a great blessing that could have only happened by something drastic happening, like being hit by a careless truck driver. Maybe they recover fully, and are awarded a very hefty sum from a law suit the ensued as a result of such a bad accident, leaving them with the money to do something that they previously wanted to do but couldn’t for lack of funds. You just never know. And that is why it is so important to make sure you approach each circumstance with positivity.
           YOU can choose how you perceive life. “Bad” moments are not really bad if they help you grow in some way. It’s all in how you choose to view the situation. If you sit and mope and wallow in misery and do little to nothing because you have practically given up thinking it will do any good, don’t be surprised if you perpetuate your problems. If you focus your thoughts primarily on things that make you feel bad, don’t be surprised when the universe deals you more things that make you feel bad.
           When you get stuck in an emotional rut or a chronic way of thinking about something (like you just have bad luck, or no one seems to like you) and you constantly reaffirm it to yourself, you are declaring to the Universe, God, Source Energy or whatever you want to call it, that that is how you WANT to feel and so it issues more things to make you feel more of that way. Negative angry people tend to attract negative angry circumstances and people. Sad and lonely people attract sad and lonely circumstances and people. On the same note, happy positive people will attract happy positive circumstances and people.      
           And this is actually good news because since you took yourself there, that means you can take yourself somewhere else. You are not at the mercy of the wind, being blown and tossed around without having any control over it. You are not subject to chance or luck. You CAN purposefully change your life around by renewing how you THINK.
           My life was already generally turning out to be what I wanted it to be long before I ever recognized and believed the Law of Attraction simply because I have always been a day dreamer and a passionate person about what I wanted and believed in, but in a lot of ways my growth was stumped because of my religion. Christianity taught me that praying would deliver me a 50/50 shot at having my prayer answered based on whether it was God’s will or not. And because I didn’t know what God’s will was because I couldn’t know the future, I didn’t act on a lot of things for fear that it might not be God’s will, and I didn’t want to displease him and be punished for it. I spent much of my life just waiting for an answer and a door to open instead of making my own door. This way of thinking manifested in my life and slowed me down. It caused me to actually CAUSE many problems in my marriage and other relationships. It wasn’t until I walked away from organized religion, denounced Christianity, and actually believed what Jesus plainly said in the Bible, that I turned my life around. When I started having real genuine faith that the desires of my heart would be delivered to me, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude because it felt like they were already mine. I didn’t have to ask God for what I wanted anymore or to show me what his will was because I recognized that if I had real faith, asking and waiting for an answer was pointless. I  started focusing my mind only on images I wanted to see in my life and stopped complaining and giving thought to my problems and the things I currently didn’t like about my life. I began practicing meditation to calm my mind, heighten my awareness, and release endorphins regularly. I began really believing that things were getting better and better with every new day. I told myself that. I told other people that. I repeated it over and over and over to the point that I probably ran it into the ground. But guess what?  My life picked up speed. Gradually but quickly my life began having less of the things I didn’t like and more of the things I wanted. The Universe delivered to me all the people and circumstances that would contribute to my growth and my happiness, and when it was delivered, I acted on it. I took advantage of the opportunities when they arose and had faith they would carry be to the next great opportunity, and that’s exactly how it’s panned out.
           Should I feel bad for my life being what I want it to be when so many others are disappointed with their own?   When people get angry at me for having the kind of life they want to have, should I apologize for making right choices and being strong willed and having the faith that got me here? Or should I own it?
           When I make a mistake, people expect me to own it and make it right, and I always do. In the same manner, I will own what I have done right. I will not give that credit to someone else. I am appreciative to any and every person that encouraged me to be better in my weaknesses, but honestly, there aren’t that many people out there I can give that credit to. My husband, my parents, and my sister are pretty much the only ones who have ever really offered encouraging words to me in the midst of my troublesome times, and even then, very little of it was genuine encouragement. It was mainly just criticism. I didn’t have anyone at all in my life that was cheering me on and telling me how I was going to push through it because I was strong or wise and the light was at the end of the tunnel. In fact, most of what I heard was how it’s ok to just give up if it was too difficult a fight or that it’s ok for me to be angry because I had every reason to be.
           I’m sure it would have made it a lot easier if I had the me of today encouraging the me from the past, but I had nobody like that in my life. Nobody. I had to somehow find the strength and wisdom and courage in myself all on my own. And I was so damn determined to find it that I DID.
           So when I see people’s lives in shambles- when I see their marriages and other relationships falling apart, kids unruly, physical and/or mental health going down the crapper, finances shot- and they are constantly blaming other people and their circumstances for why they aren’t happy, I just want to grab them and shake them. I want to stick them in a time machine and beam them into the past to view what I’ve been through and to see that I had every reason to throw up my hands and say “to hell with this!” At one point I almost seemed too far gone in my mind to be able to redeem myself. I was a nutcase with serious mental issues, and fortunately the only one who really knows the seriousness of this is my husband. He is the ONLY one who was subjected to my rage and psychotic breaks, and even when he didn’t know how to help me, I still managed to help myself because I WANTED to. I didn’t know exactly how at first, but I tried everything because I was desperate for change. And even he was completely amazed at my transformation in just a year’s time.
           Is my life everything I want it to be today? No and yes. NO because there is so much more to become and attain, but YES because I am happy with where my heart for growth is today. I am satisfied with the fact that I am stronger, wiser, healthier and happier today than I was yesterday and the days prior, but I’m not fully content, for if I was I would feel no reason to keep progressing. I am not perfect, and I might not ever be, but I won’t let that stop me from aiming for perfection until the day I die.
           The way I see it… if we don’t bother TRYING to be perfect because we are constantly telling ourselves it’s pointless because we will never be perfect, then that will simply cause ourselves to continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over. I for one DO believe it’s possible to achieve perfection. Is it a long shot? Maybe. But it’s a possibility. And as long as the possibility is there, that will be my goal. I will not beat myself up when I mess up because part of achieving perfection is understanding that it’s a process and you must make mistakes to learn, but as my life advances I know the mistakes I make will occur less and less because they MUST if you are really learning and growing.
           I realize all this can be perceived as pompous and big headed by some people, and I don’t want to be viewed that way by anyone, but if taking credit for what I’ve done right is pompous, then so be it. If loving who I am and being happy with the way I’m creating my life is big headed then so be it. If talking about it seems like I’m rubbing it in people’s faces, I’m sorry, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. How selfish would it be for me to make all the right choices, create some amazing life for myself and go on my merry way without ever sharing the secret to my success with others?
           Everyone is perfectly capable of living a life of greatness. Everyone has the potential. We need to stop coveting what others have. If you admire their life, great! Use where you are with what you have to start making the choices necessary for attaining a life more like theirs. We need to realize that life is fantastic right where we are at. Look around! You have more to be thankful for than you realize! You have a lot going for YOU. And my ultimate dream is that one day all of humanity will recognize thier potential and master a life of greatness.
          Since I refuse to tell individuals how to live their personal lives, the only way to make a difference is to share the goodness of my own life with others. I learned the hard way that not getting  heavily involved in others' personal affairs (even to help them) is the only peaceful way to live. What if EVERYONE just stopped trying to play God and fix everyone else and started focusing on bettering their OWN lives? Obviously snooping in others lives and judging what they do and how they live isn't getting humanity anywhere.  You can either choose to be bitter and jealous of people who are happy, which is only going to hurt YOU, or you can get on board and start mastering your own life the way I did and actually benefit yourself. Life is a series of choices, and like all the rest, what you do with the time and resources you have today is YOUR choice.     

Saturday, January 14, 2012

From One Artist to Another

          I consider myself to be an artist. I have for most of my life. I knew by the time I was seven that I was going to be an artist because it's what I saw myself doing as an adult. I have always been above average, I guess you could say, at drawing and being creative, and with each new year of my life, I was reassured by others that an artist was what I was meant to be.
          It didn't take long before I stopped telling people "I'm going to be an artist when I grow up," and started telling people, "I'm an artist." You see, ever since I can remember, I have always felt like an artist. The earliest memories I have at three years old are consumed with thoughts of viewing myself as someone creative. I paid attention to detail and noticed things that others didn't.
          I don't know for sure if reincarnation exists, but I do believe it is very likely that I was an artist in a past life. Even before I could write my name well, I remember having a special way with lines and shapes and colors. That special way only developed and grew because I looked at the world in a certain way. I saw the world how it was, not just how it seemed at first glance. I saw the world as beautiful. I saw the endless possibilities.
          I recall moments when I would be riding in the car on a rainy day and looking out the window. Most kids would be looking past the glass at the falling rain... but I was looking INTO the rain. I examined each new drop that would land on the window. I would take mental notes about them, like how round they were and how they looked like beads of glass. I studied how far apart they were and how many more drops could be added to each one before they became too heavy and began running down the window, leaving slug-like trails of moisture behind. I noticed that each tiny bead had a rainbow in it and I counted how many colors I saw. I noticed how when I focused on the water droplets on the window that the passing scenery outside of the car was still visible but blurry, and when I changed my focus to what was passing, the water on the window seemed to disappear from view. Immediately my mind would wonder how my eyes worked and I would compare them to a camera lens, and then in that moment I would wish I had a camera to capture the affect that occurred due to the sun filtering through the clouds, hitting the rain drops on my window just right, causing them to each light up like teenie tiny light bulbs and cast a faint prism of warm color across my lap and the seat. I took note of how my eyes naturally responded with a peaceful squinting, causing that unique vision of what I now know to be called a lens flare, and making me feel such a feeling that my vocabulary at the time was not great enough to be able to find a word suitable for it.
           After my parents tucked me in each night, I would lay in the darkness of my bedroom staring out into space. Not at the ceiling or wall, mind you, but out "there" ...wherever "there" is. I defocused my eyes and saw the colors that made up the darkness. I watched the fragments of color travel like a school of fish from one side to the other, then quickly shift direction. Sometimes the colored fragments would separate by color and go their own way, creating spirals and other groovy shapes before colliding with each other again. I thought the darkness had a mind of its own and I made friends with it. I would reach out my hand and gently brush my fingertips through the darkness as if I was testing the temperature of still bath water, and invite the live particles to interact with me. Somehow I just knew they would. And they did. As I moved my hand one way in a wavy pattern, the fragments responded and followed my lead, creating a wavy pattern in the space above my head. It kept me entertained for awhile until my mind started racing, then I closed my eyes and visualized my world in my head the way I wanted it; the way I knew it would be one day, and I eventually drifted off to sleep to that.
          Fast forward 18+ years... I AM the full blown artist I always knew I would be. The artist I always felt was a part of me. And I think a lot about what that means.
          What IS an artist? What characteristics or skills must one have to qualify as an artist? Well, I could just tell you the dictionary definition of artist... Art-ist, noun- a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker. That is one view, but I believe I have found a definition that I like better, that goes a step further... Art-ist, noun- one who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value.
          I believe we all have an artist within us, but some of us are more aware of it. Some of us, for whatever reason, have such a passion for expression that the skills it takes to be a creator come naturally; the creative thought process just flows. Others have to work harder at it. But we ALL have it.
          Don't you realize when you wake up in the morning, get yourself dressed and style your hair, YOU are the canvas that you are painting for all the world to see? The way you present yourself to your peers and the public is a physical representation of your personality. Your style and look makes a statement about who you are.
          Some aren't fully aware of this. They don't look deeper. They don't pay much attention to what they put on and don't really care how they look when they go out. I'm sure those people would say that they aren't expressing anything because they aren't trying, and I would disagree and say that they ARE expressing themselves very plainly. The message they are sharing is that they don't care about themselves. They don't view themselves as worth the time. And typically people who don't tend to their physical appearance generally don't tend to their inner well being either. How they look on the outer part of them is generally a good reflection of whats on the inner part of them, whether it be health or mental and emotional stability.
          Presently, when I go into my closet, I see lots of different items. I see variety in style and color. I see choices and tons of possibilities. And that's exactly how I look at my life nowadays. But I haven't always has a wardrobe like that. Once upon a time I was a Southern Baptist Christian that had a closet full of mostly black and grey and brown. Those colors were safe to me. I was comfortable with those colors (or lack thereof) because I didn't have to spend time thinking about what to wear because everything matched with everything else. I thought, "Everyone looks good in black. You can't go wrong with black." Not to mention the fact that I was less than satisfied with the shape of my body and thought black would hide it well. I limited myself because I had convinced myself that there weren't many options for a person that looked like me. I didn't wear what I really wanted to wear, nor did I buy the clothes that really stood out to me in the stores. I stuck with what I was doing because it was the easiest choice... and interestingly enough that was a pretty accurate portrayal of my thoughts about life at the time.
          I am the first one to point out that in high school my appearance was very "plain jane" and yet that isn't at all how people remember me. My personality was every shade of the rainbow and all I was doing was contradicting myself with my appearance because it was the simplest solution to my fear.
          I was afraid to be noticed. I was afraid to diverge from what was familiar. I thought I was a nobody and so I dressed like a nobody for awhile. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I got a sudden boost of confidence in myself after a very popular star football player, who I happened to like, stopped me in the hallway one day to ask me on a date. After that, I realized that who I was (and who I wanted to BE) deep down needed to be reflected on the outside. I started taking more time to be creative with my hairstyles and my choice of clothes. By the time Sean and I got married in 2005, I had thrown out most of my blacks and greys and started buying colors that represented my personality better. Now, I don't buy clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry unless they look like me and what I'm striving to be. When I hold up an item and ask my husband, "Does this look like me?" and he says "Definitely!" I snatch it up. He knows me better than anyone and loves that my style perfectly reflects my heart.
          Bold. Interesting. Thought provoking. Conversation starter. To the point. Fun. Happy. Hip. Artistic. Confident. Out of the box. Unique... these are all used to describe the contents of my closet, and by no coincidence they also are words that others have used to describe me.
          Choice of clothing style is only a small example, of course. Currently we are in the process of designing our loft that we will be building in the next couple of years, and I can see so much of our personalities in the design. We feel our home also is a reflection of our family and our individual personalities, therefore we strive to make our future home a place that encourages us to each be true to our inner strengths. We want it to be organized, fun, interesting, comfortable, peaceful, and thought provoking because shouldn't life be all those things?
          The greatest realization that I feel any person can come to is understanding that their life is their masterpiece. Life as a whole is YOUR canvas to paint on. It is YOUR clay to mold. It is YOUR poem to write. And it is YOUR song to sing. YOU are an artist, creating yourself and your life as you go along.
          Passion in creativity comes natural to some of us, but SKILL in creativity and artistry is learned. I always had the passion, but I didn't always have the skills when it came to drawing and painting. I was above average in art only because I had a passion for it, thus making me more receptive to my teachers and open to learning the skills necessary to make me great at what I love.
          Such is life as well. To create a truly awesome life the way you want it to look, you have to have skills which is wisdom, but you will not learn those skills necessary for making a quality work of art without the passion for it. When you have a passion for something, you are determined to make it great. You are excited about it and can't wait to get right to it. You have to have a passion for life to develop the wisdom needed to turn it into a masterpiece. You may not have the passion for actual painting and art, but you can choose to have passion for your life and whatever it is you are interested in. You can be determined to learn. You can be determined to create something great. You can stop letting other people create it for you because more often than not, they don't create it the way you really want it.
          Start by expressing the you you want to be in the appearance aspects of your life. Dress and carry yourself like you care. Be well kept. Be bold. Be confident. Wash and wax your car. Buy a new outfit that makes a statement about who you want to be. Try a new unique hairstyle. De-clutter your house. Get organized, then rearrange your furniture. Start eating healthier. These are small, but they are steps in the right direction. When you try all these suggestions you will be surprised at how much better you will feel about yourself and life. 
          With each new day, be aware that you are working on your masterpiece, and make sure that whatever you create for that day is something you can stand back, look at, and be satisfied with. If you mess up, no worries, you can always paint over it. Mistakes cause us to learn what not to do so that we paint it better the next day.
         So, yes, I am an artist, but you see, by very definition, so are you. We all are. Art-ist, noun- one who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value.

Make your life something captivating.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Way We Eat

          Several months ago my husband and I talked about transitioning to a vegan diet. After discussing it for only a day, we agreed that we just couldn't do without butter, cheese and eggs. Then we discussed transitioning to a vegetarian diet. After discussing it also for only a day, we agreed that we did not want to go full vegetarian either. However, we decided that it would be best for our health if we cut our meat intake down to 5 to 10% and cut our egg intake in half.
          At first, we thought it would be a difficult transition, but we soon found out that we didn't really miss eating meat all that much. In fact, we found such delicious combinations of whole vegetarian foods, that we were feeling plenty satisfied after meals.
          After only a month of cutting down our meat and egg intake, I lost 6 pounds. That is without spending any time at the gym. Not to mention, (at the risk of being crude) we both were 'relieving' ourselves more often... which just makes you feel better overall. This was a huge deal for Sean, who has had Irritable Bowel Syndrome most of his life.
          Obviously, for anyone who works out a lot and is trying to build muscle, you're going to need more protein that what is offered in our diet choices, so fresh fish and lean organic chicken is suggested over any kind of beef, even organic. And I don't suggest eating pork at all. However, vegetables still do provide protein, you just are going to need to be eating a lot of them. I personally get most of my protein from eating beans and whole raw vegetables.
          I just wanted to share some of the meals we eat in our home. There are a couple that incorporate meat, for those that need it or just cannot do without, but the majority of them are fully vegetarian, so if you are merely looking for a healthier way to eat, feel free to steal any of these recipes and make them your own. With vegetarian meals and salads it is easy to change things up and experiment a little with vegetable combinations and still end up with a good tasting meal. Also, remember that it is always best to use organic produce and ingredients. Even though I have not specified in the recipes those ingredients which are organic, I will say ahead of time that about 98% of what we use IS certified organic.

Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal in vanilla almond milk, sprinkled with Riceplex, whole banana and orange juice.
Double fiber 100% whole grain bagel with plain cream cheese, fresh whole strawberries and Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness vegetable/fruit smoothy.

Double fiber 100% whole grain bread (NO high fructose corn syrup) toasted with fruit spread and probiotic vanilla yogurt topped with oat and honey granola.
'Popish' with sliced red pear and chocolate almond milk/Riceplex blend.

          Popish is a simple family recipe that I learned from my mother in law. She first made it for me on a cold winter day when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I loved it, and eventually began making it for my children who also love it.

  • 4 cups vanilla almond milk
  • 3/4 cup organic white wheat farina (or cream of wheat)
  • 1 or 2 organic eggs (depending on how much you like eggs)
  • 1 tbsp. raw organic honey
  • 1/2 tsp. organic pure vanilla extract
  • organic brown sugar
  • organic cinnamon
          Heat almond milk over medium-high heat, continually stirring slowly. Add vanilla extract while stirring. As it just reaches a low boil, slowly add the farina (cream of wheat). Add small amounts at a time and continually stir in to avoid clumps. After the farina is thoroughly stirred in, bring back to a low boil while continuing to stir for another 2 to 3 minutes or until desired consistency. Immediately crack egg into farina and whisk briskly to mix in. The heat from the farina will cook the egg. Stir in the honey, then the Riceplex (if desired). Pour into a bowl and sprinkle top with brown sugar. For the swirl effect, stir the top with a toothpick or knife point. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and serve hot with sliced fruit.


The picture is pretty self explanatory. Russet potato (twice baked) with grated Colby and cheddar cheeses and fresh chopped green onions, raw baby carrots, and lightly steamed asparagus with melted butter. If the asparagus isn't still slightly crunchy, you are over steaming it. This meal is also good with a baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon.

Whole wheat angel hair pasta, with extra virgin olive oil and fresh chopped herbs (basil, rosemary, green onions). Fresh sliced avocado and cucumber, salted to taste.

Fresh cut and lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with sweet corn bread.

          Corn bread is a good starch to incorporate in your meal if you are eating lots of vegetables. It helps balance out your meal a bit, and as long as it is made with the right ingredients, it is a healthy way to get your grains.

  •  2 1/2 tsp. organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups organic grass fed buttermilk
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 3/4 cups organic cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 tsp. finely ground sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. organic sugar
           Coat bottom and sides of 10-inch cast iron skillet (or glass pie dish) with butter. Heat in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes (The skillet may smoke a bit). While the skillet is heating, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add cornmeal, stirring well to blend. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Pour batter into hot skillet. Return skillet to oven and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

A Mexican feel to a healthy meal... Jasmine white rice with fresh chopped sauteed vegetables (onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and celery), black beans and corn (cut off the husk), and homemade guacamole on blue corn flax seed and quinoa chips.

          Guacamole is always best made from scratch with fresh ingredients because when you buy most guacamole, more than likely they will have some type of preservative in them. It's always best to avoid preservatives.

  • Organic sweet yellow onion
  • Organic tomato
  • 2 heaping tbsp. organic sour cream
  • Organic cilantro
  • 2 large Haas avocados or 4 organic avocados (organic avocados are extremely small)
          Dice a quarter of an onion, half a tomato, and one sprig of cilantro (amount may vary depending on size of vegetable). Mash avocados in a bowl, add sour cream and mix thoroughly. Mix in vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste.

Low fat hamburger on whole wheat, whole grain bun (NO high fructose corn syrup), with American cheese, romaine lettuce, and vegetables of choice (everything fresh and certified organic).

Baked wild caught talapia fillets, seasoned to liking, on a bed of whole grain bow tie pasta (tossed in a mixture of basil infused olive oil, Roma tomatoes and garlic reduced over a low flame) with lightly steamed asparagus (salted to taste).

Whole wheat fettuccine with Alfredo sauce, seasoned baked chicken breast (boneless, skinless), lightly steamed broccoli (salted to taste), and bruschetta made on a whole grain Italian style bread with mozzarella and Roma tomatoes.

          Homemade Alfredo sauce, although high in fat, is a guilty pleasure that we indulge every once in awhile, and if made with the proper organic ingedients, it's actually not as unhealthy as you might think.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
          Melt butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add heavy whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add garlic and grated Parmesan and whisk quickly, heating through until cheese is completely melted. Stir in parsley and drizzle over pasta or chicken. 
Green pasta salad.

          Green pasta salad can be eaten hot or cold and can be slightly modified to your liking.

  • 16 oz.whole grain rotini pasta
  • 16 oz. tri-color spinach and cheese tortellini (I recommend making your own, as just about every store bought brand contains artificial preservatives and flavors, nitrates, and autolyzed yeast extract, which is another name for MSG.)
  • 3 stalks of fresh broccoli
  • 2 bundles of fresh asparagus spears
  • Block of fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, seasoning to taste (Make sure if you use an all purpose seasoning it is organic or it could have MSG in it without being labeled so.)
          Wash broccoli and asparagus thoroughly. Cut broccoli tops into bite size florets and cut asparagus spears into inch and a half long pieces, leaving the tough bottom half of the spears uncut to dispose of. Add green veggies to your steamer and salt while mixing. Steam for approximately 10 minutes, stirring every minute of two to dispense heat evenly. You can coat veggies with a small amount of butter or leave plain. Green veggies should be bright green in color, slightly tender but still crunchy. If it's wilted or not crunchy, you have over steamed it.
          Add your tortellini to boiling water, stirring periodically. About 5 minutes after you add the tortellini to the boiling water, add the rotini pasta. Stir pasta mixture periodically until both rotini and tortellini are aldente. Strain pasta mixture, add to large casserole dish or bowl, and add extra virgin olive oil (as little as much as you prefer). Carefully stir pasta blend to coat evenly with the oil. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, seasonings to taste and carefully mix in.
          Add steamed broccoli and asparagus to the pasta mix and combine. It's ready to eat! Since this makes a rather large amount of green pasta salad, expect a lot of left overs. Just store it in a glass food storage container in the refrigerator, and it makes for a perfect ready made lunch as a cold pasta salad.

Garden variety salad. Chopped romaine, cabbage, spinach leaves, cucumbers, tomatoes, bean and broccoli sprouts, homemade croutons, fresh grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, tossed with a small amount of our favorite salad dressing,  Naturally Fresh brand Organic Aged Balsamic and Olive Oil Vinaigrette... or you can make your own dressing. This salad is also great with avocado chunks and grated carrots.

Rather than boiling your vegetables for an extended period of time (which practically kills them), add a little water and  steam them. For fresh green beans, try steaming them in just a small amount of water with asparagus leaves or sliced bell pepper and a fresh garlic clove. When all the water has steamed out, add just enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the green beans, then pan sear them, turning them over every minute for about 10 minutes. Salt and season to taste.

          Something you may have noticed about the choice of meals for our household is that we do not eliminate fatty foods such as real butter, avocados, and olive oil. This is because fats such as these are not bad, unhealthy fats. On the contrary, they are good fats, necessary to help boost metabolism, create satiety and stabilize blood sugar.
          We also stick to eating pastas that are organic, whole grain and provide omega-3. We limit bread product intake to 2 or 3 times a week, and when we do eat bread products, we stick to whole wheat and WHOLE GRAIN making sure that it contains NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP and NO HYDROGENATED OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS.
          We do not count calories. There is simply no reason to count calories when you are eating whole unprocessed foods.
          These meals and food combinations are some that we have chosen for our family, and it works well at keeping us healthy and energized. Coupled with regular exercise, it supports the best quality of life. I know it can help others the way it has helped us.

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." ~ Hippocrates, "father of medicine," 431 B.C.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Valuable Lesson

          So I never thought I could be so happy about my little girl being able to blow her nose. She developed a sever congested nose over night and woke on Friday not being able to breath through her nose whatsoever, and continued that way since then. She didn't have a cough or runny nose and her sinuses seemed fine, but she couldn't inhale or exhale even a little through her nose. This has made sleeping very difficult for her for the last week and Sean and I have had very little sleep as a result.
          I was finally convinced that she had a mucous plug (sorry for being gross) and thought that as long as I kept up the saline and used the bulb sucker that eventually I would get it out. Today, I finally did just that, and I got excited and teary eyed when she was able to finally blow her nose.
          The last week has been hard, I won't lie. My nerves are almost shot, but we have been optimistic and done our best to teach our little girl how to be optimistic in a time when all she wanted to do was get upset and crater. I know that if it is irritating and upsetting for an adult to not be able to breath well, then it must truly be disheartening for a child.
          She cried a lot at first. She complained and worked herself up and repeated, "I can't breathe!" over and over again at first. Sean and I continually explained to her that we already know she can't breath, so there is no use in her continually repeating it. We explained to her that when she says it, it makes her focus on it even more, and that perpetuates the problem. We continued to tell her that she is getting better and better every minute, and as long as she focuses on the idea of being well and breathing properly, she will continue to get better and better at breathing through her nose.
          She had her moments when she seemed to give up. She buried her face in her hands, began sobbing and cried, "I'm never gonna be able to breath right." We expressed that an attitude like that would never produce the results that she wanted. I told her she was making herself worse by giving up.
         I gave her a photo album of her first year and let her browse through her baby pictures. It took her mind off of her nose. I gave her a canvas and paints to create something for me and I made her watch funny movies. We read funny books. It seemed to help distract her. She was smiling all day yesterday and I knew it wouldn't be long before she would be able to breathe through her nose again. 
          This morning I pumped her up and made her yell, "I am getting better and better! I feel awesome!" She was in a positive mood and we had a relaxing and fun morning. Even when I had to suck the mucous from her nose little by little, she listened to my advice and focused on something else. Sometimes she sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow with her eyes closed while she imagined flying on the back of her Pegasus. I told her to think on all the things that made her happy. She really tried.
          Sean and I never used the words "ill," "sick," or phrases like "feeling bad," and "can't breath." We didn't want to contribute to feeding those negative ideas into her head. We told her that if she wants to be able to breath normally, she must visualize herself breathing normally and functioning as she normally does.
          Today, when the mucous broke free and she was able to blow her nose, I said, "See? Being positive does pay off!" She smiled so big and gave me a hug and said, "You're right, Mommy!"
          Now, I realize she doesn't fully understand the concept of the law of attraction, but she is learning. And I questioned why this happened to her at first, but I know that the only way for her to truly learn things is to be tested- to be put right in the middle of a trying situation. We have to have a REASON to choose, in order to choose which way we want to go and which way we want to think. No one ever learned endurance and how to be positive in the face of adversity by avoiding the storm.
          It sucked seeing my daughter in so much distress for a few days, but it gave her the opportunity to learn a really great lesson on a scale that she can handle... a lesson that most adults haven't even learned yet... and that is that thinking negatively, expecting the worst, and focusing on the problem instead of the solution never got anyone anywhere. Having a positive mindset can ONLY help you, and it WILL if you are determined to feel good and be well.
          My hope and belief is that by the time my children are teenagers they will have mastered their thoughts and emotions. They will understand that no one can make them feel any way they don't want to feel. They will know they have the choice to feel good or bad and have the choice of what to think. I have faith that they will be leaders and not followers and set a positive example for their peers; an example of true self control and peace of mind. They will reach for something and grasp it because they will realize that whether health, wealth, love or happiness, THEY have the power to create their lives how they want.