Hot Chocolate’s Lesson

Not sure what this says about me but sometimes I do things I know I am not prepared for but I do them anyway. I also go all out when I do them, even if I don’t know what the heck I am doing or why I am doing it.

Take the Hot Chocolate 5K for instance. When I registered for it I was doing really well with training consistently but only doing run/walk intervals. My time was getting better so I got zealous and decided to register for a 12 min mile. I knew I would be able to do that just fine. Then…. Life happened.

I slacked on training because time was not my friend. I spent more time in a car driving everyone around and running errands than anything. I neglected what I needed to do help keep me sane and balanced. Needless to say, as the 5K got closer I got more nervous. As I sat in a coral, with a sign that said “No Walkers”… I began to get scared. This facial expression was REAL!!!

2015/01/img_9300.jpg

Thankfully, my friend was encouraging and also laughing at me being so silly. She didn’t understand…. I was NOT a runner. I wasn’t ready to be a runner. I was a pretend runner. I had no choice though. Everyone around me was going to run and ready or not, so was I.

2015/01/img_9302.jpg

It was cold. It was uncomfortable. It was fun! I was able to set a pace that I was comfortable with and work to get my breathing under control. I admit I did have to get on the sidewalk a couple of times to catch my breath, but overall I ran. I was so amazed at myself. I remember at one point asking myself, “Why is running this 5k so easy for me?” It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t as scary as I thought I was going to be. I finished my race and I did so by beating my best time… And my average pace was 12.36. Not too bad for a girl who hasn’t trained!!!

What did I learned from this? I learned that I may not be prepared for what is in front of me and I may be a little scared, but if I put my mind to it I CAN do it. I have also learned that if I say I am a success at something, well maybe I am. It will just look a little different than someone else’s definition of success. I am a runner. I can do it. It feels great!

2015/01/img_9303.jpg

The end results are sweet. Maybe even a little sweeter than hot chocolate. Maybe.

You are worthy. You matter.

It sucks when someone makes you feel that you don’t matter. They have this way of making you feel as if you aren’t worth anything. Logically, you know they are wrong. Emotionally, they got you. This is something I have struggled with most of my life.

As I have gotten older I am stronger and have confidence that my worth is not measured by others. I know my value is measured by God… “but God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). If we didn’t have value, if we didn’t matter, God would have never done that. We matter. You matter. I matter.

IMG_8139.JPG

Most days I do not struggle with feeling as if I don’t matter because I am able to stay focused on the present in the moment. A while ago I wrote about being mindful and part of being mindful is living in the moment. I drink in the experiences as I am moving through them and get overwhelmed with gratitude that I have the opportunities to live it. Occasionally, past moments of bitterness, hurt, and rejection creep up. I call these moments “Balloon Poppers”.

When my balloon gets popped I can feel myself getting deflated. I can hear the painful words of rejection all over again. I can actually imagine the child version of myself hiding in the corner to protect herself from verbal harm. I am aware that this sounds like I could use some therapy, but that’s part of what this blog is for. :-). Actually, I may or may not be lying on the couch typing this up… Just like a therapy session.

I will feel these emotions strongly and as I feel them and notice that I am going down a dark path I begin to fight like hell. I start to battle the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. I remove myself from toxic people, thoughts, and images. I find which essential oils are uplifting, invite peace to my body, and are grounding applying or diffusing them daily. I can’t stand the feeling of overwhelming darkness.

From talking with others and being open about my own struggles I have, many people have shared they feel the same way. It’s universal… We all experience hurt. Some of been hurt more than others, but that does not negate another persons hurt. What amazes me is how those who have been hurt in an unimaginable and almost unforgivable way can find it in them to forgive the one who hurt them. They are able to set their anger & bitterness free by forgiving the one who hurt them.

This morning, I was looking to set myself free of the hurt I have been feeling. The stress and anxiety that I have been quietly battling was taking its toll on my spirit. I needed a release, especially since I know that the ones who were allowed to hurt me do not care. They may feel justified for what they said or did. So the message I received this morning and the message I hope to pass on is Forgiveness. Watch this video Forgiveness by Matthew West

Warning… Have tissues nearby. I cried. It’s powerful and its eye opening. I have held on for years the feelings of rejection and bitterness. This morning I have forgiven those who made me feel that way and have forgiven myself for holding on to those feelings. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I am going to rush back and rekindle relationships that have ended. It just means that I am releasing the power they have over me to hold me captive in the darkness. To do this, I must forgive. My favorite saying is, “They don’t deserve it, but neither did you. Show them grace anyway”.

We matter and we deserve to live in the light. Jesus said, “What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

I hope you can find your place of peace. It’s a beautiful place. You deserve it because you matter.

My other half

My husband is a saint. It’s the best way I can describe him. He is a very private person who gets that his wife loves to blog, tweet, Facebook, and Pin tons of stuff. He is rational, patient, and laid back. He has the ability to calm and reassure me when I am in one of my “moods”. He isn’t afraid to look at me and say, “Don’t you need essential oils right about now?” I can’t get mad because he is wise enough to say it in a joking way, and I know he is right…. I do need them.

I absolutely love being married to Jim. He is truly my other half. Marriage is work on so many levels, but for the most part it’s not “work”. I truly enjoy (almost) every minute I am with him. I can’t stay mad at him for too long because I like him too much. He is my best friend and has been since the moment we started hanging out. He is absolutely hilarious. Some of the stuff he does makes me stand back and wonder how he has functioned for as long as he has in life. Seriously, the boy can get you lost while driving in the neighborhood!

He is awesomely intelligent as well. The things that he has created in his field of expertise has blown me away. His vision is huge and his ideas are so innovative that they make his bosses nervous (they have passed on some of his ideas only to bring them back up a decade later AFTER a competitor figured a way to do something similar). We worked for the same company for a while (it’s where we met…. I know, typical workplace romance…. Except that it wasn’t). I got to work with him on some projects and got to see first hand how intelligent he is. Sometimes I think he is too smart. You know the kind? The kind that really understands how things work and can answer almost everything? That’s him, except that he doesn’t want to answer everything because he doesn’t want to be “THAT” guy.

He is just cool. Fiercely loves his kids, a man of God, not afraid to step up and help out when I really need him to, and a really down to earth guy. I am so lucky and overly grateful I am his wife. IMG_6663.JPG

I just felt like writing about him tonight and lifting him up. He doesn’t get a lot of attention and doesn’t seek a lot of attention, but he deserves it. I hope our boys are watching him and learning from him. He is an excellent example of what it is to be a good man. As long as I am with him, I am home. Love my Jim!

I CHOOSE Happiness

I CHOOSE Happiness

We often do not think we deserve happiness, but that is further from the truth. There will be tough times in life and sometimes you may feel down. You have a choice. You can choose to stay in the dark or open your mind & your heart to choose happiness!

Perfect for International Day of Happiness!

Running and growing

About 8 weeks ago I started a Run for God 5k training program through my church. I made it a goal of mine to do a 5k this year and God agreed with this goal so he placed it on the hearts of some fellow runners to set this up.

I have always wanted to run but have always been scared to do so. I have tried in the past, but each time I started I quit. It was hard to do. Also, my knees hurt really bad. When I was 16 it was discovered that my knee caps were slightly diagonal.

I started dancing at 3 years old and loved it. When I was in 6th grade my best friend tapped at a place called The Atlanta Dance Works. It was “the place” to learn to dance. I had to go there and I did. I loved it. My goal was to learn everything I could, move to New York, spend a few years as a Radio City Hall Rockette (seriously practiced kicks in my room just in case), and then complete my career as a choreographer. When I got the news about my knees, my career ended. At 16 I was told that I shouldn’t dance, run, hike, skate, bike… pretty much should not use my legs for anything other than walking. I was devasted. I was told that I could possibly out grow it, but it wasn’t gauranteed.

Well, I can tell you that I didn’t outgrow it because my knees still give me fits. I try really hard to take care of them but I like to be active. I can not sit still. When I decided to do this 5k shindig I knew I was going to need do it slowly and at my own pace. Armed with knee braces, a blend of essential oils, and a written goal for all to see I started with my training.

Each week I am always convinced that I can not complete the intervals. Each week I do. When I run I am exhausted and ready to quit, but I have learned to turn my focus on Jesus and I get through it. Seriously… I repeat “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over. The last minute is the hardest because you know you are almost done but you can barely make it. This week became a learning experience for me. This week I learned that I am stronger than I think I am. This week I realized that as hard as the training is for me, the feeling I have when I am done is so worth it. I am proud, exhausted, energetic, excited, at peace, and accomplished. It’s a reminder to me that anything worth doing is going to be tough, it’s going to hurt, there are moments you are going to want to quit… but don’t. Turn your focus from you on to Jesus and He will guide you through the rest of the race.

I still have a lot to do and I am not looking forward to the next session, but it’s part of the process. I’m still growing and getting better every single day. I am fortunate enough to have a great support system getting through this. My fellow runners & walkers are absolutely the best. I know wouldn’t be able to do this without them because they make it fun and keep me accountable. Thanks y’all!

I love this picture. It says it perfectly:

20140227-220435.jpg

Working towards excellence each & every day!

How to stop over committing your schedule

Today I would like to address the problem of over committing. We all know what happens when we over commit. We get frazzled, stressed out, irritated, resentful, confused, and many more ugly words. Truth is, we over schedule because we are afraid to upset other people. Do you know what this means? It means you think of yourself as less important than others. It means that you worry more about what someone else may think of you outside of your family than you do your family. When I say “Your family” I mean your immediate family. Those that live in your home under your roof. They and YOU are your first priority.

So. Are ready to take back your calendar and your life. Okay. This is what you do. Next time someone comes to you and says, “Can you help with this?” or “Would you like to be a part of something?” or “If you don’t do xyz for so and so then it will look really bad for you.” I want you to say the following sentence to that person.

No.

20140203-135656.jpg

It’s a complete sentence. It doesn’t have to be said ugly or rude. If you are like me and your southern gets in the way of just saying “No” you can try the following:
“No, thank you.”
“No. I can’t make it.”
“No. I’m sorry.”

It sounds selfish, but it’s not. It’s all about priorities. For example, I am part of a group that leads a women’s bible study on Sunday afternoons. I committed to this a while ago. Since I have already committed to it then it is my obligation to honor it. Plus, it’s a group of women loving and learning about Jesus… that’s an important priority! This doesn’t mean that invites and other things come up that aren’t important but it does mean that I have already scheduled that time and therefore will be unable to cram anything else in for that day. In the past I would have stressed, freaked out, bailed on my commitment to appease others but I have found a peace in acceptance that I can’t be everywhere at one time. I have missed some things and will miss some things, but I am okay with it. I am learning to not over commit my schedule. I am embracing the peace that comes with saying, “No. I can’t do that for you today.” I’m not perfect at it, but I am getting better at it. Slowly, but surely.

Simplify your calendar if you feel overwhelmed. Stop the madness of over committing. Just say No.

Quiet Time

20140202-222019.jpg

I am one of those people that needs quiet time. It helps me clear out my head and regain focus on what’s important. During the day I do not have music playing or the TV on. It’s just noise. There is so much noise in our world that at times, it is necessary to shut it down.

I started thinking about who I am and why I react the way that I do to noise and chaos. I can not stand things being tense or chaotic in my environment. I love to live in my little bubble where everyone works together, we communicate, agree to disagree, support each other no matter what, and we lift each other up. When tension builds and there is constant bickering, I lose my cool. My brain can’t take it. Good thing I never joined the armed forces. I would have been a miserable soldier.

Earlier this week, while we were all home because of the snow & ice, my boys were fighting over crazy cat. It was 7 AM and I wasn’t out of bed yet, so to wake up to those two fighting & screaming over who was going to pet the cat really irritated me. Oh… did I mention that I am not a morning person either? Nope. I like quiet in the morning. Needless to say, I stormed out of bed and sent everyone to their rooms, including crazy cat. I was so mad and frazzled.

This got me thinking, “Why was I like this?”. I began to think back when I was a kid. I come from a big family and there was constant chaos and tension. I can’t remember how old I was when I couldn’t take it anymore and started to hide in my room just to get away from the noise. My siblings pick on me a lot about that time in my life, but I was there because I couldn’t take the constant chaos in our home. I had to be able to get to a place where I could escape the madness. I found solace there and felt oddly protected in the silence. Silence, to me, meant that all was well in my teenage years.

Now, I do know that this isn’t the reality. Silence is just the absence of noise, not the absence of problems. It’s in the silence where one can focus with a clear head on how to address those problems. How to gain strength and wisdom without interruption. It’s in the silence where I can see hope and know that the world isn’t really falling a part. It’s in the silence that I get back to who I am. It’s in the silence when I hear God’s truth loud and clear. I need my quiet time…. even if it’s for 20 minutes. I need it. I thrive on it.

Simplify

We really do make things extremely complicated in our own lives.  We try so hard to keep up with everyone’s  image.  We think they are the perfect couple because they “look” like it, but behind closed doors they don’t speak to each other.  We want the really big kitchen with granite counter tops because our neighbors just got them installed but don’t realize that they are broke and can’t afford their mortgage payment.  We want the sports car and big paycheck that the Executives have but don’t realize that he’s divorced and lonely living in a hotel room.  All we see is the outside image and that is what we strive for.  It’s stupid and sad.

I think of this often, especially when I get on my pity party about wanting the granite counter tops and big kitchen.  When I start to pout I take a step back and embrace what I have.  Compared to the rest of the world I live in a mansion.  I have a very large home that would comfortably fit my family of four if I would just get rid of the clutter collecting everywhere.  Compared to a lot of my friends, I do not have a very large home but it’s still very cluttered.  I have also looked at other couples in the past and wondered why we couldn’t be more like “them”.  Then those other couples have gotten divorced due to affairs and I’m quite thankful we were nothing like them.  We may be geeky homebodies, but we are happy, geeky homebodies!

What makes it so complicated is that we believe we are entitled to all of these unnecessary things.  We believe that our relationships should always be easy because it looks that way for others. We are the “entitled” generation… Ick. It’s the quest for all of these things that has gotten a lot of people in financial trouble, broken relationships, and caused a lot of damage.  In America, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. In our tiny bubble known as America, we are trying so hard to have the exact same things that we are missing out on the most beautiful, simplistic parts of life.  The TIME with family & friends.  Getting together and talking to each other, face to face.  Chatting on FB or text messaging does not count!!!  Playing silly games, taking walks, holding hands, eating healthy foods, and embracing what you already have is important.  It makes me sad when I see so many people spending every single weekend doing nothing but running around and cramming in as many projects just so they can try to keep up with others.  I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand it.  I don’t understand because on those weekends where we are constantly on the run I do not feel satisfied.  I don’t feel as if I had a productive weekend.  I feel worn out and exhausted.  I didn’t get to talk to my husband or play with my kids.  I spent it doing chores.  That sucks.

Image

I have made it a goal of mine to simplify my life.  I actually started this last year and decided it would be something I strive for but would not stress about.   I have done well at saying No and accepting that I can’t do it all and frankly, don’t want to do it all.  I am working hard at decluttering my world (this is a constant work in progress).  I am going to praise Jesus every day for having everything that I need.  Anything else is gravy.  I don’t complain often, but on those days when I get on a pity party about not having something new and exciting, I am going to remind myself of the new and exciting food I get to eat that day, especially now since I have started having local organic foods delivered to me… it’s always a surprise what I’ll get and then have to create something good to eat.  I am working on slowing down because I have learned and accepted that I am not a good multitasker.  That means I schedule time to work and that’s all I do.  I don’t clean if I need to work.  When I need to take care of my home, I don’t work.  I can not multitask well and I am okay with that.  I take time daily to do something that gives me time for myself.  It’s either spending time in prayer, reading a book, meditating, painting my fingernails, or whatever is within reach.  When I take time doing something for myself with something I already have, I find this is the most satisfying.  It’s also not a lot of time, but enough.  Simple doesn’t start out as easy, but it does get easier the more you focus on it.

Image

I have noticed that more people are beginning to realize that we are more out of touch and more complicated than we have ever been.  I have noticed that others are searching for simple ways to reconnect to their friends, family, and selves.  The hardest thing to do in order to embrace simplicity is giving up the life that we know.  The complicated world of trying to be everything, have everything, and do everything.  If we can become grateful for what we have and embrace who we are, then things will eventually calm down and become more simple.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

Are you looking for simplicity?  What are you willing to do?

 

 

Being Mindful

I follow this blog on WordPress called the Silver Linings Project and today, as I was reading her blog,  I came across one of her posts titled: Mindfulness for skeptics.  I wasn’t sure what to think so I clicked to read on it.  It was a good read, so take some time to read it… Actually, I really like her entire blog so far.  I am excited to follow her.  You may be asking yourself why I am writing on this particular post and I will say it is because I believe it is something I need to do… work on.  Being mindful.  I was cleaning off the desk right after church and found an article from August in the Good Housekeeping magazine that I had set aside to read.  I took a quick glance and I saw the title that said:

If your dream is to feel more Focused & Energized, Try this when you get home….

Do you know what #1 is?  “Walk your way to MINDFULNESS”.  Apparently someone is trying to tell me something here.  Good Housekeeping’s mindfulness reads as such:

The lapping of the waves, the view from the mountaintop, the clouds rolling by… noticing the beauty around you is a form of meditation, and it can clear your mental cobwebs.  Research suggests that doing mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes a day may actually change the brain’s structure, beefing up areas related to performance on challenging tasks.  And you can meditate wherever you are, even while walking down the street. “Put your right foot forward and think the word right, then put your left foot forward, thinking the word left, says Reeve.  Even doing dishes mindfully helps.  When you’re in the here and now, you can tune out distractions and unproductive thoughts and concentrate more deeply on your goal.

Image

I like the picture above because it represents so much of how we live, think, and act.  What if… just, what IF we lived in the here and now.  What IF we kept our mind in the here and now?  I know I personally spend way too much time worrying about the future (that could even me the next 5 minutes).  It has paralyzed me at points in my life.  I also spend way too much time beating myself up for what I did in the past.  What IF we let it go because it can’t be undone anyway.

I sit here writing about this and I laugh because I am really interested in this person I am becoming.  The one who has embraced a lifestyle focused on natural healing (as much as possible) through essential oils, who is learning how to recognize anxiety and confront it head on, but who is also the person still looking for the calm.  The one who is on a path towards calm in this insanely fast, furious, and out of control world of ours.  There is peace and there is calm.  It’s inside of me.  It’s inside of you… we just have to tap into it.  We have to be “mindful” …here and now.

ImageIn peace, love, & health,

Noel

Raw Material

This past week I decided I wanted to make 15 bean soup from scratch.  I wanted to know what it was like to cook a soup like this from scratch  It seemed easy enough, just required time.  I looked at the recipe and it said to soak beans overnight or for 8 hours.  I chose the overnight option.  Easy enough… beans, water, go to sleep and deal with it tomorrow.  Loving this receipt already. I went about my day not bothering to go back and look back at the recipe until around 3 PM.  The next step was to drain the beans and cook for 2 hours… uh oh.  I looked at the clock and thought, “No big deal, I have time.”  I immediately got the beans cooking.

As they were simmering I decided to do something crazy and rake leaves.  They were on my nerves.  As I was outside doing my thing something gnawed at me and told me to head inside and check the recipe again.  When I did, I slightly freaked out a bit.  See it was 5:00 PM at this time…the beans had soaked, drained, and then simmered.  They were ready for the rest of the ingredients to be thrown in… except my ingredients were not ready.  See, I *looked* at the recipe, but I did not *read* the recipe.  Big difference.

The recipe said to saute diced onions, celery, carrots, & cubed chicken prior to putting them in with the beans.  My head said to just throw it all in there and let it cook… be done with it.  I was getting frustrated and a tad nervous.  These beans had been cooking for a long time now!  What if they were going to be extra mushy, what if the flavor was not good, what if I left something else out, what if everyone hates this and I have to order pizza.  My fears started creeping up but I had to continue with the recipe… we were getting hungry.   As I finally got all of the ingredients FINALLY in with the beans, I simmered for about 30 more minutes and prayed it would be okay.  This whole working with raw foods gig was not an easy process.

Raw material is defined as “the basic material from which a product is made“.

Using raw materials is time consuming.  Each piece has to be properly handled.  Had I not soaked the beans, they would have been hard.  Had I not sauteed the chicken, I would have possibly poisoned my family with salmonella.  Had I followed the directions as they were written I would have not freaked out and gotten frustrated with the process.  Thankfully, the soup turned out delicious.  I felt really good about it but resolved to read the directions… not just look at it.

Thinking about this soup made me think of my emotions.  They are raw.  My emotions can get the best of me, especially when I lose control.  I turn into a bratty 5 year old throwing a fit.  When I lose control, I lose focus.  I fall into a deep abyss of guilt, regret, sadness, failure, and anxiety.  I have to work really hard to get myself back to where I was… my happy place.  If I am really stuck, I will grab my Wild Orange essential oil and place a drop in my hand… rub them together and find my way back to happy.  Once I calm, I regain my focus.  I search for the positive things and the logical, rational woman that I prefer to be returns!

Recently, I have noticed that my 14 year old son reacts the exact same way as I do.  His raw emotions explode just like mine do and react in the exact same way.  It makes me sad because I know he learned this behavior by watching me… and plus, he is freakishly just like me even though I did not birth him.  Nurture wins!  Or in this case, could lose.  I have realized that I truly need to get a grip, not just for myself, but for the sake of my son’s emotions.  I have to change, but how?

I am a raw piece of material.  We all are.  My change will not happen overnight.  No change ever does. It will come one step at a time, but change can happen if we want it.  It will have to be small and it will have to follow a plan.  Here it goes:

  1. Recognize that you are raw material.  You will need to pieced together slowly and possibly need help.
  2. Take your focus off the negative and turn it to the positive. Think happy thoughts!
  3. Recognize what you can and can’t control.  Let got of what you can’t control… it’s not your battle.
  4. Always be thankful for something.  Find one thing every day to be thankful for.
  5. Realize your reactions can change your environment.  A happy Mom is a happy home.  🙂

None of these will happen overnight or all at once.  You’ll have to soak for a while, then saute your focus until positive, add the positivity to your emotions, and release unnecessary control.  While releasing, find something to be thankful for.  Smile and relax because you just changed your emotions.  🙂

Image