Sunday, July 31, 2011

No Longer A Slumdog

"A gripping narrative displaying the power of God among the most fragile. 
The next great wave of transformation is changing the lives of children, their families and entire communities."

I ran into this book over at  Chic 'N Savvy.  I was captivated by the beautiful cover and the title.  Remember the movie Slumdog Millionaire?  It reminded me of that.  The book is free and so is shipping so I'm giving it a read.  It looks uplifting and we can all use that.  A nice way to promote a new book. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Does This Dream Mean?

Do you remember your dreams?  Don't you just wonder what they mean?  If anything?

Here is a dream that was so vivid I wrote it down upon waking.

Larry and I are at a wrestling match.  I just happen to be in the stands near where the wrestlers come in.  I run down to ringside to watch them enter, so I can see them up close.  Meanwhile some very old friends of mine are sitting about halfway up the stands. 

They say, "She can't hear us."       "Yes, I can", I say.

Oddly enough I am potting plants at ringside as the wrestlers come in.  I don't have on any bottoms so everyone in the stands sees my bare behind.  One wrestler comes over to me and puts a plastic cup over my right boob.  Then the other guy puts the cup over the left boob....on top of my clothes.

The wrestlers are about 7 feet tall and don't seem to dislike each other at all.  They don't seem like they are going to fight.

At that point I wake up.  It seems so unrelated to my life.  I don't even watch wrestling! 

Do you think dreams mean anything?  Do you think we should pay attention to them?  Do you think we are getting messages somehow, or that it's just a conglomeration of memories, thoughts, and events.

I'd love to know what you think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Habits R Us

"First we make our habits, then our habits make us."    Charles C. Noble

This morning I caught myself saying, to myself, for the umpteenth time, "Self, I need to stop eating late at night."  Not only is right before bed the worst time to eat for caloric reasons and gaining weight, it also makes you more prone to heartburn.  I've had heartburn only two or three times but it was extremely uncomfortable and something I don't want to repeat.  So, "Self, it would be a very good idea to eat earlier in the evening so the food can begin to digest before you lie down. Okay?" 

I'm not sure how this habit got started.  Maybe just the delights of a little comfort food treat, maybe a little rebellion after a particularly virtuous culinary day, maybe filling a void with food that could better be filled with something else.  I think it has something to do with being the only one awake.  Does it somehow make it okay if nobody sees me have crackers and cheese at midnight ?  Or way too many cherries?  Or way too many nuts?  Or way too much watermelon?

Every time we make a new choice it creates a new pathway in our brain.  The more we go down that path, the stronger it becomes.  Eventually it's practically a rut.  And ruts keep us stuck.  So maybe a good choice, once we are aware of what's happening, is to make a different choice.  Should be an easy thing to do.  Intellectually it sounds so very simple.

But here's where habit comes in.  When neural pathways turn into ruts, we have formed a habit, consciously or unconsciously.  Could be a good habit or a bad one.  One that is totally harmless, or one that can have devastating and life long consequences.  They all start out the same making choices.

Whenever you realize you are beginning to do something over and over, just realize it is on it's way to becoming a habit.

The more conscious we become that we are indeed making a choice over and over, the easier it is to continue it or discontinue it.  If it's going to the gym, that's a good thing.  If it's smoking cigarettes, that's a bad thing.  If it's eating too late at night, well, that's become a bad thing for me.  Why?  Because I let it.  I allowed it to become part of my routine, my ritual.  I convinced myself I slept better after a little wholesome snack.  It's just that over time it became not so little, and not so wholesome. 

I think Charles Noble was on to something with that quote he left us.   "First we make our habits, then our habits make us."    Yep, he definitely was.  Use it for good, or use it for "evil".  Always our choice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Your Favorite Sandwich?

Have you ever had a mayonnaise sandwich?  I loved them when I was little.  It sounds pitiful but I just didn't like the fillings, only the bread and mayo.  Then I progressed to mayonnaise and pineapple sandwiches. Later came peanut butter and jelly.  Then pimento cheese, grilled cheese, and later bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches, with or without the bacon and lettuce.  All that was when I was growing up.  I still like all of those sandwiches but, naturally, my palette has expanded.

Take today's sandwich.  It was such a good one.  Turkey, guacamole, red tomato, onion, bright green Romaine lettuce, a light slice of cheese, and ground mustard on a soft onion bun. I like a little mayo too.  Remember my childhood?  At Jason's Deli they call it the Amy Turkey-O.  What a tasty and beautiful sandwich. I should have taken a picture.  It was downright delicious!

Can you imagine owning a restaurant that was named "The Best Restaurant In America"?  And by Parents Magazine, no less.  What a Wow!  Jason's Deli is that restaurant.  It has quick food that is healthy and delicious.  If I call it fast food, you'll think it's bad...and it's not.  It's good.  They use all natural ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, no trans fats, and no artificial colors or dyes.  And they are all over the US so there's a good chance there is one near you.

When you need a healthy, filling lunch and you don't want to wait forever or break the bank, go check it out.  They have soups and salads too.  Next time I'm having a "Nutty Salad", and it's big enough to split with a friend. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Isn't it so much better to sit at a little table, maybe even outside, maybe even by the water if you're lucky, and share that lunch with a friend?  Makes healthy food even healthier for your body.  Whether we are 2 years old or 92 years old, we need our peers.  We need to share a sandwich and a secret.  We need to laugh together and help each other through a tough day.

So find a Jason's and grab a friend, or at least a good book, and savor a wonderful meal.  What a wonderful way to spend an hour of your day.  Your body and soul will thank you. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why I Hate Guns

I could take a serious approach to this post but that's been done a thousand times.

I could 'be real' in this post and write about the time I watched my neighbor shoot his wife 5 times and watched her fall dead in the driveway..... as their 2 little boys rode their bikes down the street.  But that is too painful and too true.

I could site many statistics and prove that most guns are used to shoot the ones we love the most.  But that gets too serious too.

So, I'm going for comic relief.  My husband read this story to me this morning and we laughed until we almost fell out of our kitchen table chairs.  Not that it is funny.  It isn't.  It's dreadful.  But forget, for a moment, that it is real and read it like Jay Leno is telling it. It's okay to laugh.

"Woman Aiming At Puppy Kills Husband"
Sited directly from AJC, July 17, 2011

Police in Mississippi said a woman opened fire on a puppy that had threatened children, but...wound up shooting and killing her husband.  Witnesses told police that their pit bull puppy named
 (get ready for this),
had lunged at some children.  When the husband came to pick the dog up, police said, Betty, his wife, fired twice, hitting her husband once in the chest.  "Oops!  My bad.", says Betty.  Police spokeswoman  said the death appeared to have been accidental.

I was just wondering about naming that sweet little puppy "Cocaine".  Of all the dog names we've considered in the past, we just never thought of that one.  And, oh yeah, whenever I've taken our little puppy for a walk around children, it just never has occurred to me to pack a gun.

And I'm just envisioning how much easier it would have been to pull on a leash, than to fish around in your pocket for a gun, then aim at a moving target, with children playing nearby.  Hmmmm.  Leash?  I sorta doubt it.  Maybe a novel approach when walking a temperamental dog that you love, is to have a leash with you instead of a gun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Ways To Make Taking Your Pet On Vacation Easier

We are, right now, live from "The Beach".  It is the first time we've actually taken Buddy along on vacation with us.  We must have been out of our minds.  Actually, it was all my husband's idea.  I'll blame it on him!

Although I'm exaggerating, and it has been nice having him with us, I am glad this is a short trip so we can 'learn the ropes'...kind of like a trial run.  So far, this is what we have discovered.  And #1 is a big one!

1. When you use a pet-friendly hotel, the rooms are not as nice as you'd put it mildly.  In short, don't trust the carpet. 

Solution:  Never take off your flip-flops! 

2. Make sure your room does not face the parking lot.  People come and go at all hours and, even though you don't even notice these little noises and flashing lights, your liffle Buddy does.  His little ears perk right up and he has to bark and 'make them go away'.  Meanwhile you are waking up....indeed, if you ever went to sleep in the first place!

Solution:  Request a room on the 'dark side' away from parking if possible.  Close the drapes.  Put his dog bed as far from the window as possible and run the AC all night to create background noise.

3.  You can't leave the pet in the hotel room alone.  Huge one!  This little tidbit was not shared with us until I saw it posted upon check-in.  People probably ignore this rule.  We thought and thought about how we could have dinner with the dog with us.  He can't go in a restaurant or even on a patio outside.  It's way TOO HOT to leave him in the car under a tree....even for 5 minutes. 

Solution:  As we say in math class, this one has No Solution.  Kind of like trying to divide by zero.  You either leave him in the room and hope for the best or you don't eat out.

4.  We like an early walk on the beach before everyone else gets out there and were so excited to take Buddy to run on the beach for the first time.  Not nearly as excited as the first time we took the kids, but still excited.  Everything is looking good until he gets tired and begins walking at a snail's pace.  We wanted to walk a looooong way for a looooong time.  He wanted to walk his usual 15 minute morning walk...and that's all.

Solution:  One person takes Buddy and goes back to the room.  That would be me.  My husband does "mornings only" on the I'll let him have this time and I'll come back after while.

5.  Time for breakfast after our walk.  Same issue again.  He can't be left in the room alone.

Solution:  Eat breakfast in shifts or bring it to the room.

The best solution, other than leaving the little mutt at home, is to rent a little cottage, not a hotel room.  If you're staying a week or so, it could give you a lot more freedom.

It just occurred to me how some of this sounds like taking a toddler to the beach.  But then you've got Grandma falling all over herself to babysit so you can go play.  Dang it, we should've brought a Grandma!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Power Of Your Imagination

When you wake up each morning, does it feel like you have a blank slate for a brand new day, or does it feel like Ground Hog Day, a rerun of yesterday?  Does it feel like you have no control, that your day is already completely scripted by someone other than you, and you will simply go through the motions until night time?  Feed the baby, clean the kitchen, go to work, fight the traffic, pick up the laundry, pop by the dentist, return the library books, take out the trash, return the movies, and on and on and on.  Whew!

Come with me for a moment and let's use our power of imagination to take a day already defined by work and chores, and transform it.  Sounds good, huh?  As grateful as we all are to have a job these days, it's still likely and normal to wish for a 'free day'.  Not very realistic day-in and day-out, so let's just decide to imagine what we can in a different way.

There is a reason Cruise Carnival named one of their cruise lines, "Imagination".  "It's all you've ever imagined."  They've imagined it all for you....and made it come true.   But we can't vacation every day and we surely are not going to settle for only 5-6 glorious days a why not use the power of your imagination to create everyday as you want it to be.  The same tasks and to-do lists lay before you.  Can't get around that.  But just what-if you did them all, checked them off even, with a new mindset?  Just what-if your imagination made your mundane days more like your dream days.  For you that might be a work day that's just more fun.  Or it might be a day when you feel powerful enough to take on any challenges that come your way. 

Rather than viewing it all as repetitive, something to endure, work through, or tackle, imagine your day full of possibilities and joy. Imagine you enjoying your next job interview.  Imagine you in your next staff meeting cooperating, supporting, and respecting the others in the meeting.  Imagine you happy to create just what your client wants.  Imagine you having a sweet connection with a friend, even if it's only a PB and J on the back porch, a text, or a phone call.  Imagine you taking 5 glorious minutes somewhere in your day to reflect, think, pray, be quiet.

The power of the mind is a powerful thing. Duh.  We use our imagination to worry about things that may never happen.  We all do it from time to time.  Well, why not use our imagination to envision good things for our self and our family?  You might say, "It won't make any difference."  So?  Try it anyway.  There's no better habit than to train your mind to reach for possibilities, rather than to succumb to dread, stress, and boredom.  You just might be surprised what happens.

Take a week and consciously use your power of imagination to "see", in your mind's eye, that which brings you joy...the things you want...the way you want your daily life to work out.  Be prepared for your self-talk to resist, and just continue bringing yourself back to the vision you want to create.  Put a little twist on the regular old boring stuff.  See it differently.  Notice the emphasis here is on you.  Not in a selfish way, but just the opposite.  Until we are happy within, we have no happiness to share with others.  It's an interesting exercise to learn more about ourselves, the way we think, and what we expect.

The whole world of imagination is at your fingertips.  Be grateful for this freedom and use it.

What will you choose to imagine today?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's All Organic Too

Trending on Twitter right now is #wheneverimbored.  It's interesting to see how others in this world complete that sentence.  I think the reason I am so rarely bored is that I am so easily entertained.  Take today.

The AJC, big ole newspaper in Atlanta, was advertising The Tomato Sandwich Festival right here in River City, I mean Canton, today.  I would never miss such a celebration IF I knew it was happening.  So off we go.  We drive about 10 miles out of town and see a small sign, "Tomato Sandwich Festival". 

"Do you think this is it?", we said to each other.

"Yep.  This is it."  "We need a parking place."

"Well then, just pull over."

Done.  Ten steps, we're in.

I always see this charming, little quarter acre garden when I go to town.  The hand painted mural has been a landmark there for many years and I realize that is all I know about it...until today.  While enjoying a free tomato sandwich, which you made yourself, I heard the story.  This was an empty lot for a long time.  Then the owner, Roy, decided to let folks come in, bring their own stuff, grab a little, little, little plot....more like a flower bed, and plant.  They can plant whatever they want, they take care of it, weed, water it, love it.  Just don't you dare put a chemical on it.

Some folks grow corn, some grow sunflowers, some grow tomatoes, gourds, peppers, marigolds, and berries.  It's all there.  Today you could look around the garden, then grab a couple pieces of white bread, slab on some mayo, help yourself to sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, and sweet tea.  They even had unsweet tea!  That, I found truly amazing.

The folks who have a plot can eat all their produce, give it away, share some of it....whatever they want to do.  It's all theirs. Though Roy owns this lot, the "city" has made one of their "worthless" lots over by the water tower, available to potential organic farmers.  I'm on the list.  Next year I may have my own little farm.  I need to break that news to my husband gently.

Here are the other Festival Goers. It was just so cool.  Roy should be very proud.

She said, "I wish I'd brought my green umbrella!"

He likes his tomato sandwich sans bread.
I'll let you know when it's going to be next year. I may be there sharing my own tomatoes!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Do You Want?

Are you a goal setter?  Do you spend time thinking about what you want to have, do, be, or achieve?  Is your wish so long that it's hard to focus?  Are you distracted by thinking of things you don't want, things you want to avoid?

How many times do we get caught up thinking, or even worrying, about something or someone? 
'What if this happens or what if that doesn't happen?"  Our undisciplined minds, if left to wander, often go to places of fear, negativity, and dread.  Does it matter?  I mean, does it really matter what we think about?  Are the thoughts that run through our minds powerful or are they just mind-clutter?

I'm glad to answer that one.  My take on our thoughts is they are very powerful.  Our thoughts are where we live.  Our thoughts influence our actions.  Our thoughts lift us up or drag us down.  They can spur us into inspired action or they can paralyze us with depression.

Seems like, in that case, it would be favorable to think good thoughts rather than bad.  Grab onto hopeful, trusting thoughts, thoughts of harmony, health, and greatness rather than smallness and dullness.  We are, after all, usually either moving forward or backward, in a large part, because of our thoughts.

Think you can't control your thoughts?  You can.  Even though, especially in troubling times, our thoughts seem to have a mind of their own, most of the time we can reign them in, smack them around, and get them in line.  If our issue is very sad, serious, or upsetting we may need to ask for help to work through these thoughts so we can find the way out.  There is always a way out.

Say this out loud.  "I am in charge of my thoughts.  I am responsible for my thoughts.  I choose to think healthy, positive thoughts."   When "I just can't do it", I know to "phone a friend" or use another strategy to pull myself up higher, above the pain and agony some thoughts are determined to bring us.

Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want.  Sounds so simple.  But like I've said many times, and so many have said before me, "It is simple, but not easy". 

Here's to making the effort to watch your thoughts, and slowly but surely, change them.  If you've got this mastered, I promise you there is someone else in your life who needs you to teach it to them.

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Quote That Resonates Today

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.

I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." 

 Mother Teresa you feel like that somedays?.......

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Three Churches

Note:  This is a repeat and edited post from several years that really touches my own heart.  Maybe it will touch yours too.

It's true.  I have three churches. 

Original Oil Not For Sale.  Prints Available.  Email me.

 Many people have one church.  Their lives may even center around that church and what it offers them.  Other people have  no church.  There are many un-churched among us....for a whole lot of different reasons.  Me?  I have, at various times in my life, been in both of those categories.  Now I am at the other end of the spectrum and I really do have three churches.

One of my churches is the one I attended today.  It is really my mother's church...a very traditional mainline denomination.  It's Methodist; not the actual church of my childhood but the denomination of my childhood.  Since Mother is unable to get there under her own steam, and since it's vital that she see her friends and stay connected to her "heart place", I take her a couple times a month.  You know, honestly, I wasn't crazy about this idea at first.  I did it anyway, and must admit, over this year, I have come to feel that Fayetteville First United Methodist is indeed 'my church'.  I know the faces, I am at home there. They have a good message.  The Methodist Church is in my DNA and I am grateful for that.

Then there is my second church, my neighborhood church, my convenient church, the one close to my house where I, and occasionally my husband, go when we can.  We like being a part of where we live, knowing the flavor of the community, being a part of  outreach right here...rather than in Africa or Bangladesh.  This church gives us a backpack to fill for a child when school starts, and packs the altar with thick, new, wool blankets and socks in the winter for anyone  living on the streets on cold nights...and feeds the hungry in the big person.

My third church is, well, the church where I grew new spiritual legs.  It's the nontraditional church, too far to drive every Sunday, where I stretched to learn new things, where I am inspired, where I grow and expand.  The church where I really learned about unconditional love and forgiveness, about our Oneness with God, where I learned to trust the process and surrender to the God of my understanding, to see the gift, always.  

It's all good.  I love all my churches. They all contribute to who I am.  They all inspire me to be better.  I really hope God doesn't see fit to put a 4th church in my path.....I mean really. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Peace And Tranquility

Who knew this river park was so close to my house?
So glad we found it.

A couple of people were fishing from this deck.

A head start on July 4th with my trusty antique shirt.
I think I have had this shirt at least 15 years..and I still like it.

And ...Larry.
   I've had him for 40 years and I still like him too.

Enjoy your upcoming red, white, and blue holiday!

Favorite Chocolate Dessert

I love reading everybody's favorite recipes and sometimes trying them out.  Tonight I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes.  You just add water and stir.  How much simpler can it be.  I know this isn't a "real recipe" like the "real cooks" post but it'll do in a pinch.

Today's post was going to be about sweeteners:  the pros and cons of the various ones available.  However, my sweet tooth got overly involved and demanding so I said, "Okay, Okay!", and whipped up a batch of brownies.  Delicious!  Warm from the oven.  Just too good.

So how do you turn this into something healthy?  I didn't even have any blueberries to spoon on top.  We could go with the chocolate being good for you, which is true.  This chocolate?  I think that's stretching it a bit.

The healthiest part of this cooking and snacking session was giving most of it away.  I ate 3 good sized brownies.  After that I didn't even want to see brownies again.  I was overly satiated.  By tomorrow?  Oh I'd be ready for brownies again.  That's when it gets to be unhealthy for me.  So  into the foil wrap they went and over to the neighbors.  A teenage boy lives next door  and he loves it when this happens.  There is a surprise for him in his mailbox.

So next time you make something decadent, eat a little and share the rest...quickly!