Hello it’s me…….

I’ve thought about us for a long, long time……..and I’ve not had time to sit down, breathe, relax, and jot down my thoughts. Does anyone else have this problem as soon as the holidays start? I spent THREE hours shopping this morning and that was just to get groceries for Thanksgiving! I so look forward to the holidays when family comes to visit but the time leading up to it can be exhausting! I know everyone would pitch in to help if I asked but I’m not quite ready to give that up. I like sitting down and looking at new recipes to try, making up a menu and putting up the decorations. I don’t like grocery shopping, but then again, I’ve never liked grocery shopping….!

I need to slow down and take a page from my own book of advice and let other people bring things to the table. I need to sit back and enjoy the hodge podge of family and friends that gather with foods that maybe don’t go together but so what? I need to embrace that my Christmas tree has a mish mash of lights on it and is not the magazine quality Christmas tree but hey! ….it’s mine and my family will gather around it and we will laugh, talk, and enjoy our time together.

Isn’t that what holidays are all about? It’s not the picture perfect foods, the picture perfect tree, the picture perfect family. It’s about being with the ones you hold dear. You need to make the memories that you can hold on to for all time. You need to enjoy time with the ones you love and are connected to through blood and friendship. You need to not waste time on the little things and focus on the big things. You need to breathe, relax, enjoy and laugh with your family and friends. You need to be. Enjoy Thanksgiving in whatever way brings you peace, happiness, joy, relaxation and time with the ones you love. Peace.

Scary thoughts

Halloween is just around the corner. Costumes, treats, parties and more! It’s so fun BUT then we wake up days later and realize that we ate all the mini candy bars that were left over, gobbled down treats at work and started trying out new recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a slow downhill roll to weight gain by January and THAT’S the scary part of Halloween. It usually starts the two months of overeating for holidays unless one takes special note and consciously makes the effort to not go down that hill.

It is SO easy to overeat starting at Halloween and just continuing until New Year’s but there are steps you can take to help you focus on healthy habits that will put a stop to out of control holiday eating.

1) Mindful eating – what is this? Taking the time to prepare your food, taste your food, chew your food – think about the texture, taste and joy you get as you eat a particular food. Doing this will help you with portion control even when you choose to try a new treat that has been offered.

2) Meditation – how does this help? Close your eyes and visualize a healthy you. What this looks like for you will be different for everyone. Concentrate on your breathe and know that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.

3) Exercise – really? Yes, we all know that exercise can counter excess calories but you have to pick something that you like to do or you won’t do it and all of the sudden the New Year is here and you’ve gained 10 pounds. So think about what you enjoy. Do you like to get outside? Do you like to exercise with people? Do you like cardio or strength or both? Do you enjoy a gentle flow? Or do you like variety? There is always something for everyone! Walking, Zumba, Weightlifting, Yoga! Try it all and find what suits you.

4) The power of No Thank You – why? Because when you say no to yourself or to others, you are in control. You are allowing yourself to make decisions on what is healthy for you and no one else. Practice saying “no thank you” in the mirror and be ready to use those three powerful words to take control of your health.

It’s easy to get sidetracked off our healthy eating plans but if you put in place the plans that work for you BEFORE you get sidetracked – your holidays and New Year will be really SWEET!

Peace.

A speck in the Universe

Political ads in my mailbox, political texts on my phone, political commercials on TV, political talk all day long. Yes, it’s an election year. Yes, we all have our beliefs and values that guide us as we decide who to vote for. Yes, we can agree to disagree without it impacting our health….or can we?

Too much focus on one subject can weigh a person down. It can cause angst and unrest in the soul as you grapple with the overwhelming conclusion that you can vote but it may not turn out how you want it to……which can spiral people into a deep darkness of depression if they feel that the politics/ideas/politicians are not representative of the nation. But here is some news for all of you who are up or down depending on the days news. All you can do is vote your conscience and if it goes your way – great. But if it doesn’t – continue working with grace and kindness in everything you do and in everything you say because we are specks in the Universe that can cause great change by being kind, thoughtful, empathetic and gracious with everyone NO MATTER their political beliefs. Because in the end, at the very end, when you know you don’t have much time left in this wonderful place we call home, you won’t be sitting or laying there thinking I wish I’d made this person’s life miserable because I don’t believe in their political beliefs. You won’t be thinking that vote in 2018 was the worst. You won’t be thinking about politics, candidates, votes, or big themes. You’ll be thinking of the ones you’ve loved, of the children you’ve nurtured, of the parents you’ve helped, of the stranger you’ve shown kindness to and of the life you have lived. And I hope that in the end, those children, the ones you’ve loved, the strangers you’ve helped will be there to say, “thank you – a life well lived.”

We are but a speck in the Universe. We are here for a limited amount of time. Looking at the bright side of things – and there ALWAYS is a bright side – will impact your life immeasurably moving forward. Things that you can do or remember to enhance your wellness year round:

1) Take a break from social media.
2) Do not post or share anything political – even with irony. People don’t get innuendos, double meaning, sarcasm on social media or anywhere. They tend to take things at face value which can impact YOUR health and wellness.
3) Be gracious to all – we all want to be loved and respected.
4) As you get older life becomes more precious – so appreciate it like you’ve never done before.
5) Remember you CAN change.
6) Don’t waste time on things you can’t change – you don’t HAVE the time.
7) Enjoy life because it’s short no matter what age you are.

Enjoy your time here because it will end before you want it to. You are a speck among other specks, trying to live and be the best you can be. Discard the problems of the world that impact your health and wellness, problems that will be here hundreds of years after you are gone. Seek wisdom, seek love, embrace and enjoy a life well lived from the moment you entered this world to the day you leave. A testament to a life well lived is what you spread every day. Don’t get caught up in the here and now. Focus on the big picture and seek health and wellness through grace, kindness and love each day.

Peace.

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Keeping warm and stress free

When the weather turns colder and the north wind starts to blow, my focus turns to baking. Baking is a stress reliever for me. I love to try new recipes and re-do recipes into a healthier version. I don’t necessarily like to eat all the baked goods – a nibble here and there – but I do like the stress relief of following a recipe, making up a new recipe and sharing – the most important part of baking – with family, friends and co-workers.

Stress, as I’ve talked about before, manifests itself in many different ways in your body. It can make you achy and tired. It can make you angry and frustrated. It can make you sad and depressed. It can cause a host of health issues that are discovered many years later after the stress has built up in your body and never released.

As the weather turns colder, we are faced with many different holidays, that come with family obligations. Sometimes this is a stress producer for some whereas it is a stress reliever to others. Cold weather and darker days may also be a trigger for stress in some people, whereas others embrace the cold days and the outdoor activities that they are now able to take part in. Still others, enjoy the darker, colder days as a chance to do things indoors that they’ve not had time for in the warmer months.

Whatever season you enjoy, whatever activities you do that keep you stress free and healthy, are important to continue each week. One of my favorite activities that helps keep stress at bay is yoga and meditation. Even for 10 minutes a day, the results are amazing! I encourage you to try it if you’ve not already. And I encourage you to put yourself first and always find time for the things that help you maintain balance and peace in your life.


And of course, baking is another way that I keep stress at bay. A special cake recipe that I enjoy making for my family is below. Feel free to change it up however you want. I use greek yogurt for the sour cream and egg whites for whole eggs. I also have put in bananas and almond flour to make it healthier….but not every time! I hope you enjoy sharing this recipe with your family and friends as much as I do!

Sour Cream Bundt Cake
Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups of sugar (I tend to lower this amount)
2 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
1 8 oz carton of sour cream (or Greek Yogurt)
2 cups flour (or 1.5 cups of flour and .5 cups of Almond flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350
Grease a bundt cake pan
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I add crushed pecans in the bottom for a crunchy topping)
Mix butter and sugar together until creamy
Add eggs and sour cream
Add Flour
Stir in baking soda and vanilla until mixed well
Pour HALF the batter into the bundt cake pan
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I add mini chocolate chips here)
Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan
Bake 45 minutes. Allow to cool (lol – right?)
Enjoy!

Below is another recipe book that I like to use with some really good recipes!

Remember wherever you are, whatever you do – find something that keeps you sane, happy and stress free. Peace.


Rocking your way to health

Did you know?
In 1955, former US president John F Kennedy was prescribed a rocking chair by his doctor to alleviate his chronic back pain. JFK found it so effective that he took one on Air Force One, used one at Camp David and also on his family estate. JFK’s doctor was on to something, because research shows rocking has some surprising benefits for both physical and mental health. In terms of physical benefits, the action engages the thigh and abdominal muscles to provide a mild form of exercise, increases circulation and improves knee strength and flexibility. But it’s the effects of the rhythmic motion that offer the most interesting benefits.

**Sitting in a rocking chair is relaxing, rejuvenating and calming all at once, and there’s science to prove it.

**A two-year study from the University of Rochester in the US found that the repetitive action of using a rocking chair helped ease anxiety and depression, improve balance and reduce the need for pain medication.

**Rocking chair therapy has been used for easing lower back pain, constipation, abdominal pain from C-sections and bowel dysfunction following surgery.

**Sufferers of vertigo and bouts of dizziness may also benefit from time in a rocking chair.

**The light exercise that occurs when using a rocking chair burns calories, improves knee extension and strengthens hand muscles.

Now would I say to give up your regular exercise and rock your way to fitness? Not at certain ages – but what I WILL say is ANYTHING that is able to help you with stress and anxiety, with low back pain and pain in general, or with balance or recovering from surgery is something you should try! I’m sold on the benefits of rocking, not only for adults but for children as well. Check out some wonderful rockers for all below. Have a wonderful day. I’m going to go rock while I read. Peace.





retrieved from https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health-news/how-a-rocking-chair-can-help-you-heal-/news-story/9f7db110575c8c7cddb9ebb58b8aa5c8

YOUR Growth Mindset

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. Wouldn’t it be lovely if life was always wonderful and positivity was embedded into your daily life?

You know – it CAN be. It just depends on how you view your life. We choose how we view ourselves, our days, our weeks, our year, our friends, our work, our interactions with strangers. WE choose our reactions to all of this. Approaching life positively will build more positivity throughout your interactions with others AND yourself and allow you to GROW in ways you can’t even imagine right now. You can’t be positive about life and you can’t grow if you don’t start with you. You need to choose to put yourself first and do what you need to do in order to have the road rise up to meet YOU and the wind always at YOUR back and the sun shining warm on YOUR face and the rain falling softly on YOUR fields.

Where do you start if you’re not there yet? How do you change and grow to get to THERE? What do you want to do? Provide for yourself and your family? Become healthy? Exercise for strength and independence? What do you need to do to get there? What obstacles are in your path? How can you remove them? Could your MIND be the obstacle?

Many time the obstacles we face are ones we’ve created for ourselves in our minds. We make excuses on a daily basis as to why we can’t do something…..why we can’t achieve what we want….why we have to stay in the job we are doing…..why we can’t get healthy……why we don’t eat nutritious foods……why we get mad, sad, upsert, etc…..we get into a mindset that brings us down instead of encouraging us to reach for the stars. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do – focus on what you can do and start engaging your mind in a GROWTH mindset. You have to believe in your abilities and believe each and every day that you can develop those abilities and strengthen them through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent = your starting point but what you DO with those is the beginning of YOUR growth mindset.

So how do you develop this type of mindset that will take you to positivity and growth and opportunities that you can’t even imagine yet?

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections.
Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.

2. View challenges as opportunities.
Having a growth mindset means relishing opportunities for self-improvement.

3. Try different learning tactics.
There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you. Learn about learning strategies.

4. Follow the research on brain plasticity.
The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.

5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.”
When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.

6. Stop seeking approval.
When you prioritise approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.

7. Value the process over the end result.
Intelligent people enjoy the learning process, and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.

8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.
Keep the big picture in mind.

9. Celebrate growth with others.
If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.

10. Emphasise growth over speed.
Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.

11. Reward actions, not traits.
Tell yourself when you are doing something smart, not just being smart.

12. Redefine “genius.”
The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.

13. Portray criticism as positive.
You don’t have to use that hackneyed term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.

14. Disassociate improvement from failure.
Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.

15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection.
Reflect on your learning at least once a day.

16. Place effort before talent.
Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.

17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.”
The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.

18. Cultivate grit.
Students with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.

19. Abandon the image.
“Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.

20. Use the word “yet.”
Whenever you are struggling with a task, tell yourself you haven’t mastered it yet.

21. Learn from other people’s mistakes.
It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realise that humans share the same weaknesses.

22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished.
You’ll never be done learning. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.

23. Take risks in the company of others.
Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.

24. Think realistically about time and effort.
It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.

25. Take ownership over your attitude.
Once you develop a growth mindset, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your educational career.

It’s not about how good you ARE – it’s about how good you WANT to BE! Start your journey. Peace.


retrieved from: https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/develop-a-growth-mindset/

May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.

September Swan Song

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September always reminds me of that old Frank Sinatra song called September Song. “Oh, it’s a long, long way from May to December but the days grow short, when you reach September….” and boy do they!

It usually hits me mid September. All of the sudden the dark night comes sooner, the temperatures drop and the leaves start falling. And I always think back to May – when it seems like the whole entire summer, with sunny days and hot nights – was spread out ahead of me – like a sparkly fan filled with warmth, sun, sand, water and relaxation. Working during the summer never feels like work because the sky is blue and the weather is warm. I always enjoy it no matter what I am doing. But then September hits. A beautiful month but one that signals the end of summer and the beginning of the march towards WINTER!

Each year I try and steel myself for the inevitable cold that will start. I seriously do not like the cold. -40 below with the wind chill is never fun. BUT even though I don’t like to be OUT in the elements I still find joy in the season. For instance, I love cooking in the crock pot – something I do not do in the warmer months. I love going to the apple orchard and bringing home my favorite apples to store and eat through November. I love baking bread and cakes. I love trying new recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I love making hot wassail cider – see my favorite recipe here: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cider-wassail-punch/ I love having my children visit. I love putting up Christmas decorations. I love sitting and reading while hearing the cold wind outside. I love the first snowfall. I love making snow angels in the snow. I love wearing cozy clothes and warm boots.

So really, for all the things I dislike about the winter season – basically the cold and darkness – there is so much MORE I like about it. It seems that’s the way with life. We can get caught up in the negatives of what we don’t like about a season, a situation, a job, a relationship, really anything – that we fail to step back and think about what we REALLY like about it. So this is my challenge for you. When you get caught up in the negatives of life, realize that the stress of the negatives impacts your health and in order for you to take charge of your health – you need to think about positives that are within that negative situation. Take a moment and write down what you like about the situation you are in – even if it’s only ONE thing that you like – it’s still a positive and one that can help you change your mindset about something that was negative to something that IS positive. By doing this you embrace the positives of life in any situation and become less stressed and more thankful; less depressed and more hopeful; less dependent and more independent. Take charge of your life and look at the positives. Peace.

 

I never thought I would…..

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I never thought I would write a post about doing LESS exercise but it’s happening. There is a time and place for everything. We need to make sure that we are listening to our bodies and interpreting the signs and signals that its sending us for optimal health and fitness.

Remember what it feels like when you have a cold coming on? You feel a tickle in the back of your throat. You maybe have a slight headache or start sneezing more. You connect the dots and realize that you are coming down with a cold and you make adjustments to take it easy and slow down so your body can recover. Same with the flu or other viruses that we are exposed to. We tend to slow down when we feel those symptoms come on but that’s not what we do when we are healthy and exercising. In fact, I’d argue that sometimes we push ourselves so we are more susceptible to those germs that will put us on the sideline for awhile. And, if the truth be told, we tend to keep our level of activities going throughout each decade, never changing our rhythm, ignoring our body signals that are trying to tell us to take a break and eventually, having a health moment that puts us out of commission for awhile.

Have you ever continuing running through that pain in your knee or quad? Have you pushed yourself to finish an aerobics class even when you feel that cold coming on? Do you tell yourself just one more rep before you collapse on the floor?

If that’s you then it’s time to think about what your body is telling you for optimal health. Many times we push ourselves beyond what we should and end up depleting our energy reserves and increasing our chances for sickness, muscle strains and tears and a variety of injuries that could have been avoided. I encourage you to think of functional fitness and re-think your fitness activities to train your body for optimal health and fitness in each decade of your life. What do you need to be able to do? Reaching, squatting, lifting, holding, walking, etc….are all activities we need to be able to continue to do. Working our muscles with our own body weight is an excellent way to get in shape and stay in shape. Overdoing with heavy weights can increase your chances of muscle tears and strains that weaken the ligaments and place you in harms way for future injuries.

So as you go into Fall, the upcoming Holidays, the cold winter months (if you live somewhere cold) and back to school if you are a student or teacher – remember to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. It will tell you when to stop. It will tell you when to rest. It will tell you when to push yourself. Listen. Be smart. Be healthy. Be fit. Peace.




The Life vs Time Issue

This post is for all ages who are stuck in a mindset of what they should do or where they should be at certain time in their lives. We all read about it, hear about it, live it on a daily basis – plan, plan, plan for retirement! Plan for health insurance! Plan for horrible things that COULD happen! And sometimes those alarming headlines make us feel stressed, anxious, stuck in a never ending pattern of going to the same job every day in order to collect the paycheck that will help us towards retirement, help us pay for health insurance,and help us deal with horrible things that COULD happen. BUT at what cost is this never ending barrage of headlines doing to our minds, our bodies, our lives?

Who has ever said or thought about going somewhere, doing something, buying something, only to think I will do it later when I have more money? Money is a means to an end. It helps us pay daily bills but when it bogs us down by infringing on our TIME and when we allow it to be in charge of our TIME – that’s when health issues can occur because of stress and anxiety about money!

We need to take back our TIME and be in charge of the ONE life we have. That life is made up of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. Are we making the most of the time we have? We can always find ways to make a little extra money – whether that is cutting back on unnecessary expenses, finding a part time job, downsizing from a larger house to a smaller house, consolidating autos down to one instead of two, wearing an extra sweater and turning down the heat…..lots of things that can be down to find a little extra money BUT we can’t find TIME again. We can’t get the TIME back that we’ve used. We have no do overs in life. This is your life. This is the ONLY one you get. Make the most of it physically, mentally, socially and most importantly, presently – be present, enjoy your time, be in control of your time and live your ONE and only life to the fullest. Peace.




Is your personality causing health issues?

I’ve worn a lot of hats in my work life. I am or have been an exercise instructor, yoga instructor, personal trainer, children’s program coordinator, senior exercise instructor, Title III program coordinator, English as a Second Language teacher, health endorsement trainer, University adjunct professor and of course, mom!

With all of those hats, throughout my life, I’ve striven to give everything 110% and, as my family tells me, I’m a bit of a Type A personality. What are the different types of personality? And what are you? And how does that impact your health?

Type A tends to be aggressive, ambitious, controlling, competitive, a workaholic and lacks patience. Type A personalities may be at risk for heart issues and stress related illness.

Type B tends to be relaxed, less stressed, flexible, emotional and expressive, and have a laid-back attitude. Type B personalities do not run the risk of stress related illnesses or risk factors connected to coronary due to personality.

I am definitely a workaholic but that is because there always seems to be something to do to make tomorrow easier. I used to always bring work home. I was working until 9 or later just to get a head start on the next day. I always thought that doing this would make me less stressed and even more productive the next day. But you know what? It doesn’t matter if you do everything in advance – there is ALWAYS something to do tomorrow. In all my years of working, all the preparations for school, all the meetings, book studies, classes for renewal of licenses, etc….I would work extra hard to keep ahead of everything only to find out that there was still just as much to do the next day, even though I’d pushed myself the previous day – stressed myself out – to get more done.

The moral of my story here is that if you are driven, if you are a Type A personality, you might want to take a page from Type B’s book. Pushing yourself to do more, be more, work more, etc….can push you over the edge and into a negative health event.

We only have one life. Make it the best one. Give yourself a gift and slow down, enjoy the ride, take breaks, and know that work will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next. Don’t bring work with you on your breaks, vacations, evenings. It’s important for your health to give yourself downtime and allow your mind to think of other things besides work. Put yourself first – not your job.

Here’s to a work week that is productive but not overpowering. Here’s to a weekend that is slow and easy and here’s to a life that is stress free and empowering. Peace.