Currently Browsing: mental notes
Apr 12, 2011
Awhile back, after being inspired by a fellow blogger, I signed up on a website to receive daily affirmation in the form of email messages. I usually would rather give my right arm than hand over my email address to anyone that wants to send me daily messages, but the encouragement I got from the one posted by my friend was just what I needed to hear that day and I thought it might be a good thing. Since then there have been several days on which the message really hit home for me, and today is another one of those.
So often we find that our individual experiences in life may not have been as beneficial to us as they were for others. Life works in such a way.
We all have our own journey to travel…an individual journey that is meant for us, but we also get to live through things that are not so much about us at all. Sometimes our trials or our blessings or our lessons are meant for the people who we surround, or who surround us. It’s important to remember that people are watching the way you handle things in your life, they are learning so much from you and your strength and your grace and your wisdom. It’s important to remember how much we can help each other along their way because of what we have learned or what we remember.
It helps make sense of things too…when we can recognize our ability to be a miracle in the life of others…in a way that we never could have had we not traveled the path that we each have traveled.
The truth is that each and every one of us has our own crosses to bear. I know that my life is so very blessed – I have my health, my marriage, a wonderful family, a home, an education, and so many other things that a lot of the world doesn’t have. I’m so thankful for it all, and I don’t take it lightly.
But I also have my own cross to bear. And somehow, in the thick of things, knowing how blessed my life is doesn’t make that cross any less heavy…it doesn’t make it hurt any less. I struggle daily with trusting that God has a purpose for this issue in my life and that it is ultimately for good, even though deep down in my heart I do believe it to be true. And I long for the day when that purpose is revealed to me.
I truly want to handle everything that comes in my life with grace, wisdom and strength, but I honestly have never thought about doing so for someone other than myself. As humans we have so much influence over each other – we impact other people in ways we never imagined we would, and I don’t want to let selfishness guide my actions and reactions to events in my life. Even if the only person I influence is my sweet husband, that is worth the world to me. A million times over, it’s worth digging deep, finding a way to respond with peace and faith in the midst of uncertainty.
And for me, it does help make sense of this seemingly purposeless thing that I’m going through – to think the purpose could be greater than myself and the way I handle it could make a difference for someone else. I’m seeing it all from a different angle, and in the moments of deepest questioning and hurt, I feel a bit more grounded by realizing that it’s not all about me.
I really needed to get these thoughts out. A times I worry about sharing some things here, but this blog is an outlet for me. It helps me process, and when I finish writing it’s like parts of me that once felt so heavy seem a bit lighter, and I see more clearly. One of the many reasons I’m so happy to have this space.
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Mar 25, 2011
This morning what started out as a bad attitude ended up as an amazing run. Lately, the husband and I have been trying to do our short runs together before he goes to work in the morning, which works out great because he doesn’t have to do his at lunch, and I can get my workday started extra early. But this morning, as soon as I opened my eyes I knew it was later than it should be. We overslept by a good 45 minutes and had to rush just to get ready in time. I really didn’t feel like driving down to the park to do my run, and I debated between that and just running on the street. I don’t like to run on the streets by myself out here because there are a lot of loose dogs…but I also really don’t love doing laps where one time around equals less than 1 mile. But alas I decided to get my butt down to the park and get it done.
I played a little trick by telling myself that I could walk as much as I wanted, but I had to get in the four miles. Worked like a charm. I ended up not walking at all and finished in record time (for this race training anyway).
I actually started off a bit slow and the first mile was a bit uncomfortable – about 10:30 pace – but I steadily increased my pace throughout and then kicked it into high gear, running the last mile at 8:30.
The whole time I just kept chanting to myself “it’s okay to be uncomfortable!” One thing I’ve learned about running is that there is a difference between pain and discomfort. If I’m experiencing pain, I stop. Because nothing is worth sacrificing my body. But if I’m just feeling uncomfortable, I take that as a sign to push harder and get through it. Pushing through discomfort always garners the best results. Running (at least training for longer distances) isn’t necessarily supposed to easy. If it was easy, then everyone would do it, right? If it was easy, then crossing the finish line wouldn’t feel like someone just handed over all you’ve ever wanted wrapped up with a little bow on top. Hard is worth it. Uncomfortable is worth it.
I am so excited about this weekend because my BIL and SIL who live in Tulsa are out of town, and they offered to let us (me+husband+Olive) stay at their house. We miss our furry baby so much it hurts, and nothing could make this weekend better than getting to spend the whole thing with her (and each other). I’m thinking there will be lots of exploring Tulsa, Lost marathons (we’re re-watching all the seasons), naps, photo taking and a long run on Sunday (followed by another nap:).
This past week hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve been pretty stressed about all the job stuff (read: I don’t have one), and I’ve really been struggling with wishing away time. I just want to get to June so we can move into our house and feel like we’ve officially transitioned to our new life; this in-between stage doesn’t suit me very well. I know there is goodness and joy to be found in every stage of life we experience, and I’m trying to step back and focus on all the blessings in my life. I think the more I try to seek out happiness despite my circumstances, the harder it is to find. Happiness has to be felt inside, and it stems from contentment and finding joy in the little things – breathing in fresh air, the intense flavor of dark chocolate on the tongue, having the ability to see all the bright colors emerging with the new season. The more I remind myself of how wonderful it is to be able to see, feel, smell and experience every moment of life, the more it becomes ingrained as a natural part of my day. Moving from the negative to the positive.
And speaking of the positive – this family that I told you about a few months ago is finally getting their sweet little girl this weekend. I can’t imagine many things that could be sweeter.
Takes a deep breath, wonders at the air rushing out of her lungs and steeps in the peace found in this moment of being alive.
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Feb 11, 2011
Happy Friday, friends!
This week has flown by so fast…and leaves us with only two weeks until we move. Two!! And I’m probably about one one-hundreth of the way through packing. I’m in trouble.
So, I realize I’ve been writing some heavy posts lately, and while I usually like to keep things light on a Friday, I’m going to shamelessly bombard you with more deep thoughts. Because that’s how I roll these days, folks.
I think all this uprooting and moving business has gotten me all worked up over what I’m doing with my life. I’ve caught myself trying to plan so many years into the future I might as well have my grand-children’s names picked out (exaggeration). I feel like I have all these ideas, aspirations and concerns that in turn leave me with endless confusing decisions; every outcome affects other decisions and those outcomes affect more…and so on. You see what I mean?
So the other day as I was pondering what my next steps should be, I had an epiphany. Are you ready for this?
I do not have to plan out my future or know exactly where I want to be in x number of years.
I do not have to know how my next job will affect my future children or how it will look on my resume in 20 years.
I do not. I do not. I do not.
While I know it’s good/responsible to plan for the future as much as is reasonable, I also know that there are things that will happen in my future that are unplanned or that I have no control over. If you had told me when I was a freshman in college that four years later I’d be living in Thailand, I would have called you crazy and laughed in your face. And I certainly did not plan that the husband and I would be moving out of Stillwater right now. As I’ve said many times before, God’s plans for me don’t necessarily match up with the plans I have for myself. And when it comes down to it, that’s what makes life so fun and interesting. Embracing the unknown and being willing to change directions at the drop of a hat if that’s where my heart is leading me.
We must focus on making the best decision we can in the present moment…with the information we have. And then make the most of it. Each turn we take in life is a stepping stone to the next place. And I truly believe that as long as we’re willing to take risks and step out into the unknown, we will achieve our goals…they may not pan out exactly how we imagined them, but they’ll be even better because they’re real. And because we made difficult choices each day based on our own intuition, desires and guidance found through prayer. What can be better than that?
So, here’s to not putting pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out. Here’s to embracing the unknown and living in the present moment!
Thoughts? I’d love to hear your input on this topic.
Aside from spending waaay too much time thinking (if you’re like me it’s very difficult to shut down your mind - hello savasana), I’ve also been dying over this amazing breakfast the last two mornings.
I think the idea of overnight oats mixed with banana soft serve was originally Angela’s, but I could be wrong.
First, mix together 1/3 cup of raw oats and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with just under a cup of water. Set it aside in the fridge for overnight (preferably) or at least a half hour.
After it has set, place one frozen banana (cut into half at least, if not slices) in your food processor or blender and blend until it achieves a creamy, soft serve like consistency. You may have to stop it a couple times and scrape down the sides. After it is about half way done blending, add one tablespoon of natural peanut butter and blend until smooth.
Now pour your creamy, cold peanut butter banana soft serve over the (still cold) oats, admire it for several seconds and then mix it all up!
The absolute best part of this breakfast, in my humble opinion, is how the textures work together. The creamy cold oats weave together with the frozen banana “ice cream” so with each bite you get a combination of smooth oats with a little bit of icy cold peanut buttery goodness.
Now, let’s just say (hypothetically of course) that when you reached into the fridge to pull out your oats, an entire container of salsa fell out and busted on the floor, throwing bits of tomato all over the floors and walls. Well, in that case you might just need a little added craziness in the form of chocolaty indulgence. Go ahead and add crumbles from the leftover chocolate brownies that are wrapped in foil on the counter. There, that’s even better.
Now be prepared because your husband or your roommate might look at you like you’ve lost your mind, mixing cold oatmeal with blended frozen bananas…but it will all be worth it. In fact, my sweet husband commented that he “couldn’t think of any worse combination.” Now honey, that simply can’t be true. Let’s not be crazy.
This morning I taught an earlyish PiYo class and then tutored Hye kyoung. I’ll be spending the rest of the day trying to make our house appear as though humans live her and not animals…and desperately trying to avoid laying down for a nap. I was up late last night busy having epiphany’s about planning out my future…and my eyes are paying the consequences. So tired. All the more reason to celebrate the fact that it’s Friday!
Any big plans for the weekend ya’ll? Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day or just laying low?
The husband has some plan up his sleeve for Sunday…but he won’t tell me what it is.
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Feb 9, 2011
You all left some really great comments here yesterday, and I loved reading through every one of them. I really enjoyed hearing your perspectives on dealing with tough habits and emotional struggles. Thanks so much for sharing:)
This morning we woke up to another thick layer of snowy white…and once again the whole state is pretty much shut down. No complaints here, though. I was really happy that the husband was able to work from home today rather than commute to the city…I would have been a nervous wreck.
Yesterday was a great day of working from home. I was able to get a lot accomplished and even pack a few things along the way. I’m really focusing my energy on living fully in every moment more than ever these days, as my time with my students (both tutoring and yoga) and time working from our house is drawing to a close. Have you ever been in a moment and thought to yourself – I just want to live in this moment forever? I had a lot of those yesterday from taking a break to water our little plants to making a new healthy lunch to giving the husband a little massage on the couch last night.
I read a book recently that talked about how we all forget so much of our life…there is so much we just don’t remember. It’s like only the big milestones – graduating, getting married, having kids – are what we most remember. But what about the sweet little things that make up the majority of our time? I want to remember those things too, and I think one reason we don’t really remember many of them is because we don’t fully live them. We’re always focusing on and pressing toward the next big thing. And while it’s good to be working toward big goals and accomplishments, if we don’t really see and experience the mundane moments of the day-to-day, then we’re missing out on a large part of this life we’ve been given.
Lunch yesterday was that meal I mentioned a couple of days ago that I’ve been craving. One day it just popped into my head, and I thought to myself – why have I never made this before??
Prepare a nice big bed of fresh spinach
Pick your pasta and cook it – I used veggie shells that I got as a sample at HLS, but you can use any kind
Mix together about 2 tbsp hummus, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and water to thin
After mixing pasta and the creamy sauce together, pour mixture over spinach. The heat will cause the leaves to wilt just slightly. Perfect.
This meal was every bit as tasty as I imagined it would be. I loved the combination of the creamy soft texture of the pasta with the slight crunch of the spinach leaves. And there was plenty of protein built right into the sauce.
In other food news, the husband surprised me last night by bringing home my absolute favorite meal from my favorite restaurant in the city – Pei Wei. It was a little cold by the time we got here, but a quick round in the microwave and it was as good as new!
And what made it even better is that while we were savoring every bite, the thick, mouth-watering smell of brownies was filling the air. I’ve been craving brownies for days, and all I needed was a good, cold snow day to do me in. I found this recipe and then used a few of the suggested tweaks plus a couple tricks of my own. They came out so delicious!
Chocolate Chocolate Vegan Brownies
adapted from here
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- dairy free mini chocolate chips (or chips of your choice:)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 inch baking dish
- Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt in a large mixing bowl
- Add in water, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract
- Mix until well combined
- Pour batter into baking dish and then sprinkle chocolate chips all over the top
- Bake for about 26 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool a bit before serving.
Serve warm with a glass of almond milk. Or if you really want to go crazy, serve with a dollop of banana soft serve on top.
I’m planning on packing some today, editing some papers for my students and maybe doing a little job searching online. I’m still as confused as ever about what I’m going to do as far as a job, but I’m trusting that it will work out and trying not to waste too much time worrying over it.
Happy Wednesday to you!
What is something you hope you never forget as time goes on, be it little or big?!
I hope I never forget the way the creaky wood floors sound as I walk through our house or the way the windows shutter just slightly when the heat comes on:)
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Feb 8, 2011
Thanks so much for all the sweet well wishes for the husband’s first day on the new job. Ya’ll are so sweet. I texted him mid-day to see how it was going and he texted back “it’s going really well. A great company to work for…and so much to learn!” Today and tomorrow are basically just orientation days, and then Wednesday will be his first day in the office. That is, unless the predicted 6-10 inches of snow keeps him home (fingers crossed:). Anyway, I’ve always been so thankful that he has a job he loves, and I feel that way even more now. Every time I ask him about how he’s feeling regarding the change, he just starts talking about how great he feels about this company and the difference they’re making in people’s lives. Yay.
Now let’s just see if I can get a job as well!
I started off yesterday morning with a serious craving for yogurt and raw oatmeal.
1/3 cup raw oats, whole soy yogurt, chia seeds, dried cranberries and cinnamon
Totally hit the spot. Sometimes I feel myself getting tired of foods that I’ve been eating a lot of, and all it takes is scrolling back through my blog a little bit to find inspiration. I can almost always find a basic meal that I haven’t had in awhile to bring back all fresh and new! This oldie was definitely a highlight to start the day.
Other highlights for the day included but were not limited to the following:
- painting my nails mint green
- spending a little extra time with God this morning
- making my green smoothie with a scoop of natural peanut butter and chocolate almond milk for lunch
- having a really great conversation with my mom on the phone this afternoon
- eating yet another leftover cinnamon roll for a snack this afternoon (I know). One a day does = moderation. It does!
I have had two tasty meals in my head all day today, but I’ve been on kind of a weird schedule (hence the green smoothie for lunch), so I haven’t been able to make either one of them. One is the veggie chili I made for the husband’s work party a couple of months ago, and the other is a really simple lunch idea that I just can’t get out of my mind. I’m thinking I’ll be enjoying it for lunch today, and if so then I’ll share it later on! As far as the chili goes, I think it’ll be the perfect meal for Wednesday when we’re all snowed in again. mmmm.
The last part of this post has been pretty much all about food, ha! Food is where it’s at, though. Even Mr. Squirrel agrees.
He sits right outside our kitchen window almost every morning, munching on all kinds of nuts and seeds. Gives me a hankering for nuts and seeds myself, just watching him.
But really food is such a big part of life, you know? We need it for fuel and nourishment…but it also affects us in psychological ways. We celebrate with it. We comfort with it during times of loss. We have memories attached to it.
I’m not encouraging emotional eating in the sense of eating to hide or cover up emotions, but we’d be crazy to say that food isn’t tied to something besides a physical need.
I’ve never really talked about this on the blog before, but in the past I’ve had issues with emotional eating, and it wasn’t in a positive way. Sometimes, whether I’d be feeling stressed, sad or just plain tired, I would go straight to the pantry and just eat mindlessly. And then when I would finish, I’d feel guilty and even more stressed, not to mention physically kind of sick. I remember at times feeling like I’d never be able to break the cycle. I ate healthy enough all the rest of the time and exercised enough that I never really put on any visible weight, but the emotional weight it was adding on was not a good thing. It was a bad habit…and I needed to break it.
It has been a long time since this last happened. I still get carried away with the chips and salsa occasionally (okay, often;), but it’s not the same kind of destructive behavior. It’s no longer me trying to cover up an emotion…it’s more just about liking blue corn tortilla chips a little too much. ha. I think the point that I really was able to gain control of what I was doing was when I recognized the true issue behind the behavior. After a lot of prayer and internal processing, I realized that I was eating at these times in an effort to relieve the negative emotions I was feeling inside. Food was a way to cover those emotions up by doing something that felt good right at that moment.
Besides identifying the root of the problem, another thing that helped a LOT was realizing that just because I disappointed myself by doing this didn’t mean that I should punish myself afterwards. When I treated my body that way I needed to do something really nice for my body in turn…rather than beating myself up about it. So, I started going for a long, slow walk, taking a bubble bath, or just cuddling with Olive for a bit. I also spent some time identifying the specific reasons why I would eat, and then made an alternative plan for each negative emotion, such as laying down for a twenty minute nap, getting into downward dog and holding it for 20-30 seconds or spending some time in prayer. Basically, I was ready to tackle the problem itself, whatever problem it was, rather than trying to put a band-aide over it.
After so many weeks of implementing my new plan, it became a habit, and now I don’t even think about it. I’m not saying it was an easy process, and I definitely had my fair share of set-backs, but in the end it was so worth it. Every time I would fall back into the behavior, I would take time to really process through what I had really been feeling in the moment, work through that emotion (if it was anxiety over my job, I would take 30 minutes and problem solve or call my teacher friend and ask for advice). And through the whole process, not only have I gained confidence in my ability to eat in a healthy way, but I’ve also become more confident in handling conflict and anxiety.
I don’t know if I’m the only one that has ever dealt with us, but somehow I doubt it. Just the other day I was talking to the husband, and it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t eaten in this way in a long long time. I realized that I’d totally forgotten what it was like and is totally out of character for me to do something like now. I know there’s a possibility that I could fall back into the habit someday, but it feels good to know that making slow progress toward a healthier way of dealing with negative emotions has brought me to a place where I feel much more confident in my relationship with food. Isn’t that how it should be?
Anyway, these are just some thoughts I’d been pondering lately, and I thought I’d share them. I used to think this issue was something I was ashamed of and wanted to hide. I’m still not proud that I struggled with it, but I realize now that we all have battles such as this and the best way to overcome those struggles is to bring them out into the light.
What is something you’ve overcome through a lot of time and hard work? How does it feel to be in a place where you feel confident and at peace in regard to that issue? Or are you still working through something and trying to get to that place?
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