Sunday, December 14, 2014

Planning Ahead: The Secret to Cultivating Rest and Play

Like everyone this time of year, we've got a hectic schedule. This coming week, we're only able to be home on Monday evening. The rest of them will be spent at the Holland Center downtown for Symphony Rehearsals or performances for Allison. It can get a little nuts and (surprise!) I do my fair share of whining about it, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity she's been given to do this. It's a professional performance except for the inclusion of the Omaha Children's Choir and the Anne Nagosky Violin School. So, in an effort to quit complaining, to "let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth" - as Brene Brown so eloquently puts it, I have just planned ahead to make this week a little easier for everyone. 

Yesterday, I made a crock pot full of chili and used the 10 lbs. of potatoes I overbought for Thanksgiving to make a bunch of mashed potatoes. We made sugar cookie cut-outs because it's our last week-end before Christmas to get it done. I peeled, cored and sliced a dozen apples no-one was eating and made pie filling to freeze. I put some aside to make this recipe I first wrote about back in May 2014 for breakfast this morning. I don't have any left-over like I did back then, though, because Rich ate the second one:

Dutch Apple Pancakes

Today, I'm making a lasagna and two kinds of Rich's favorite Christmas Cookies - $350 Cookies and Anise Cookies. I have stuff for salads ready in the fridge. We should be prepped with food for the week!

Now, about that final project for laptop will just be spending some time at the Holland Center with me this week! 


Friday, November 7, 2014

Live All The Way

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

My great-grandmother, Minnie Emilina Siverhus, made me a patchwork quilt for my fifth birthday. I have only snapshot memories of her because that’s also the year she died. That quilt has been on my bed ever since. That was forty-one years ago, so the quilt has been worn through a few times and reworked by my grandmother and my mother – who have both said, “It’s time to throw the quilt away.” Throw. The. Quilt. Away? Are you kidding me? It’s the perfect quilt. It keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer – it is well-loved and magical. I hope she would be honored (if also shocked) that I have used it for this many years.

Rather than using these treasures throughout your life, is there anything you’re just storing in the basement, the garage or the attic?
  • Fine china
  • Grandma’s Quilt
  • Great Aunt’s Crocheted throw
  • Anything that’s stored away in a box

You have noble reasons for keeping these things “nice” for generations to come. But will your children or grandchildren appreciate them as much as you do? If you chip a gravy boat, will it be the end of the world or will it turn into a tale of who-dun-it you can tell again and again?

Which reminds me of a funny story…my Dad and I had ONE pillow fight (about 30 years ago). It was in the living room and somehow one of Mom’s hurricane lamps was broken. We’ll say it was Dad who did it. I think that story comes up once or twice a year and we laugh…well, Mom scowls (over her hidden grin)…the rest of us laugh. These weren’t heirlooms but we’re reminded that she hasn’t been able to find replacements since. But look at this great story we have!

This doesn’t just apply to things – it also applies to living. What are you waiting for? Is there anything in your life you’re waiting to do?
  • when you lose weight
  • when the kids graduate
  • when you retire
  • when you make more money
  • when you get a better job

In an effort to rid my life of perfectionistic tendencies, I have started to just do things – jump in, eyes closed, feet first – because once I do that there’s no choice but to keep on going! Nothing’s ever perfect but I’ve been better for every jump.

Use the things in your home – or give them to someone who will, otherwise they’re just clutter. Jump into something you’ve always wanted to do even if the timing isn’t perfect. Your ancestors and mine would advise us to live (and love) all the way while we're here!

The quilt of many colors my grandma made for me

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Critics and Chaos

You may have noticed distinct silence around here…crickets, echoes and such. There have been spaces like that in the past – months at a time – where I’ve let the chaos silence me and allowed others’ needs to come before my own. You do that when you’re a mother and grandmother, a wife and a daughter, a sister and a friend (even with the great joy born of these relationships) not to mention an employee and a student.

The largest contributor to the chaos right now is work. I’m in the early stages (the Pilot, actually) of starting a Wellness Program and for the first time in many years, I’m way out of my comfort zone. I proposed the program. I’ve been allowed to develop it. I’m going to school for a post-master’s certificate in Wellness and Health Promotion. I got myself exactly where I am – on purpose – and it’s exhilaratingly terrifying!

The foundation for the program was easy because I believe whole-heartedly that fixing this country’s health problems starts with prescribing the Mediterranean Diet (or something reasonably close to it), getting people purposefully exercising 150 minutes a week (or working toward it) and adapting some sort of meditation/prayer practice along with a gratitude practice daily. They need some coaching or a way to check in along the way with questions and or problems that come up.

I also believe that to be healthy, you have to use your creativity – if you can’t find time for it daily – then at least once or twice a week. Using your creativity, in whatever way you choose, allows you to recharge your batteries. It makes everything else easier. It allows you to bring your light to the world. Writing and decorating my home are the lights I bring, so I have to make time for them, fit them in with everything else, show up here – chaos or not. So do you, with yours.

I didn’t think these things up myself. I wasn’t hit by a lightning bolt of truth one day. I believe them because I’ve done the research, I’ve listened to the experts and I’ve seen their results. Nevertheless, there seem to be naysayers and nonbelievers lurking at every corner. It has helped me in my new position at work – with writing and just with life itself, to read Brené Brown’s book , Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, in particular, a speech she references that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

I hope his words inspire you as well, as you go about the work you love and the creativity you need while daring greatly- no matter what! I imagine us, “faces marred by dust and sweat…” and tears (I’m too delicate for blood) – high-fiving one another, breathless, but smiling while doing whatever it is we love.

Quote from Brene Brown - one of my favorites!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Treating Myself

"People who love to eat are always the best people." ~ Julia Child

There was a time, not so long ago, that I wouldn’t have made breakfast or any other meal for that matter – just for me. That has changed! For the last 3 years, I have been counting calories and for the last 2 years, I have been gluten-free. That means, some of the time, I eat differently than my family. I love food...that's been established. So, if I have to stay below 1500 calories/day…I’m going to be pretty particular about what I eat. Nothing mediocre, bland or food that’s just a ‘filler’ (like rice which has never been a favorite of mine).

I make myself things like pepperoni chips, gluten-free berry scones, Big Sky oatmeal, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free biscuits and chocolate chip cookies, and flourless peanut butter cookies. Most of what I make is better and more flavorful than that made with gluten.

The latest week-end treat I’ve been making for myself is Dutch Apple Pancakes. We had them on our trip out East last year at a beautiful Bed & Breakfast in Henniker, NH called Henniker House. The Innkeepers were interesting, fun and engaging. The breakfasts were delicious! This has more calories than my usual breakfast, but I eat it later in the morning so it all works out…I push lunch back a bit, eat a little less throughout the day. They’re very satisfying and filling. I cover the second one with foil and it rewarms the next day perfectly!

Dutch Apple Pancakes
Makes 2 pancakes in 10 oz individual soufflé (ramekins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Core, peel & slice 2 apples, sauté in butter & liberal quantities of cinnamon for about 8 minutes.
Whirl in a blender (or immersion blender):
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour (I used Pamela’s Gluten-free baking mix)
½ cup milk
Dash salt

Spray 2 oven safe dishes with nonstick cooking spray & put them on a cookie sheet so you can pull the dishes in and out of the oven without slopping. Put apples in the bottom of each dish, pour batter over top.

Bake for 25 minutes – have a look at them – are they puffy and starting to brown? Might go as long as another 25 minutes (mine is usually 10 min more) depending on your oven. Put a pad of butter and some cinnamon/sugar on the top. Put them back in the oven for 5 min and they’ll puff up come more.

Serve quickly so they don’t fall – with warmed New Hampshire maple syrup (only requires about a tsp)

Nutrition Facts for one Dutch Apple Pancake:
Calories: 347.5
Fat: 11.9
Add s: 39.2
Fiber 5.8
Protein: 13.5
Add calories for the amount of syrup you use.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

You Have To Be Where You Are...

“In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.” Hannah Arendt

I’ve been trying to escape perfectionism for some time. Whether it’s with work, finances, marriage, parenting, diet or exercise…I’ve had destructive all-or-nothing thinking for some time. If the budget spreadsheet isn’t filled out correctly, why even keep track? If I’ve overeaten in any way, why not just blow the rest of the day and eat what I want?

As you can see, this is not a very productive way to think and live. But, it’s how a lot of us try to navigate life. Little did I (or any of us) know, it makes everything more complicated than it needs to be. It keeps us disconnected from ourselves and from other people.

Rich and I had a conversation with good friends last month about relationships and how being open to one another and making one another a priority can improve their marriage. They listened but we could tell they didn’t want to hear about it. They were still so hurt by years of living disconnected from one another they couldn’t see the benefit of spending time rebuilding. When I thought about it later, I realized that Rich and I wouldn’t have listened to anyone years ago either. You have to come from the experience you’ve have to be where you are and move on from there at your own pace, in your own good time.

Chris Freytag, a fitness expert advises:  “Live fully and you’ll build the confidence you need to make positive change. Plus, we should all accept ourselves and our flaws. Life is about learning, right?”

That’s what I’m striving to be okay with now in all aspects of my life…just doing better than I’ve done before and learning as I go. Learning ourselves and walking through whatever individual pain and fear we harbor, for whatever reason, is all a part of the process. A process that includes disconnecting from that judgy voice in your head that feeds you full of inaccurate information, like, “you’re not good (thin, smart, rich) enough.” Start telling yourself a more positive story and live fully, building confidence as you go. Practice being okay where you are…wherever that is.

Sanibel Island, 2014 
I was perfectly happy being where I was...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Do You Hear That Whooshing Sound?

It’s the beginning of February 2014 already. This is how fast time whooshes by us and if unchecked we find ourselves back at New Year’s 2015 with the same old resolutions…and no progress for a year. One month into this year, if you made resolutions, have you at least made some forward progress in the last month? I’m not asking if you’ve been perfect, I’m just asking if you’d made progress. I haven’t been anywhere near perfect and I'm learning to lean into that – these are “practices” I would like to continue for my lifetime. There are times when, for whatever reason, I will falter and times when I will have breakthroughs – but most of the time I’ll struggle to get it all done every day; just like all of you.

My first three resolutions are the rules for the program I’ve been doing the last three years:

1.    Eat my allotted calories for the day and no more.

2.    Exercise with measurable improvement daily.

3.    Drink 8 glasses of water/day.

I keep track of my food and exercise in a journal but since January 1, I also have a calendar in the front of that journal where I make an “X” through a perfect day. Not-so-perfect days, this can include days I didn’t exercise or days I went over my calories (even by one measly calorie or by an unmentionable amount!), get a “O.” I have five “O” days in the last month. It’s a good visual reminder to see at-a-glance how I’ve done. However, those days, good and bad, are done. I’m working on this day now.

The remainder of the resolutions were mostly new this year:

4.    Learn how to do yoga and meditate.

5.    Journal one happy memory daily.

6.    Perform random acts of kindness daily.

I have been doing yoga (3-4 times/week) for the last two weeks. I’m in love with it. I miss it on the days I don’t do it and I wish I had started years ago! I knew the barrier to doing it would be getting somewhere to get it done, even 3-4 times a week, so I elected to start with a video. The one I started with can be found at Yoga for Runners. It stretches all of the areas of my body that need lengthening – even the soles of my feet and my toes! It’s rejuvenating and strengthening. Did I already say I’m in love with it? ‘Cause I am. Journaling one happy memory daily has not been an issue, though I’ve missed a few days of that too – I got most days. I’m having trouble with random acts of kindness. I will think of something and wrestle with myself about whether or not that was really random and/or kind…was it just the usual run-of-the-mill “nice?” I have some work to do there yet!
7.    Sleep 7-8 hours per night

I really, really like closer to 8 hours of sleep per night. If I can get that AND get up at around 5:30 am to workout, I’d be in business! It would be so much less of a struggle to get everything accomplished every day. More to come on this…

8.    Spend more time being creative: write, draw, craft, cook and photograph.
9.  Organize as a hobby: one room at a time, weekly meals, finances, work office, photo albums.
10. Make and keep preventative medical and dental appointments.

I’ve done more blogging in the last month that I’d done in the last quarter of 2013. That’s something! The rest still need work. Organization will come soon – the boys have a move-out date of March 1. For over a year, we’ve had too many people and too much stuff for one house. There are so many things to organize, plan and make overall improvement on in #9…<sigh> that’s a big one. More on that one later, too. I’ve had my annual exam/mammogram in January. Next month is the dentist.

11. Spend more time looking at the people I love with my undivided attention.

12. Elicit the help of others when I feel like I'm on overload.

13. List 3 new things I'm grateful for every day.

I’ve made a conscious effort to put the phone, tablet or computer down when I’m talking to my family. I could do more, better. I’m asking for help when I need it before I’m to the point of implosion. And I’ve documented three new gratitudes nearly every day. 

14. Reward myself for small goals I've achieved in order to keep the momentum

15. And, the personal mantra I developed in the class I just took: I will
      carry courage, compassion (including self-compassion) and connection with me
      in my heart on the journey of this one life...even when things get scary.

I lost 10 lbs in January! That’s my first small goal and I’ve got a spray tan to schedule right before our Florida trip as my reward! I got a pedicure gift card for my birthday (thanks, Heather!) or that would have been my first reward choice. I’m getting better at this personal mantra – I’m showing more self-compassion and allowing less negative self-talk to get through the filter. I’m consciously making the effort to stay connected and engaged, no matter what. There is no escape hatch to emotionally check-out – the way out is through – in every situation. How are your resolutions coming? Do you hear that whooshing sound? It’s life flying right past us. Do. Something.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

...but I Need My Space

Empathy is a good thing. From my work as a nurse then a nurse practitioner to being a wife to the raising of my kids– it has served me well. Issues arise – I’ve described it before as feeling like the canary in a mine, too fragile for this world – when I haven’t taken care of myself like I need to. I get overwhelmed with life in this family and in this society as a whole; again, too much of a good thing, too much empathy. .

I ran across an article recently titled, “How to Love an Empath.” Before I read that, I knew that I had exceptional intuition and overactive empathy. I just didn’t know they went together and I certainly didn’t know anyone needed strategies for how to love someone like me

Dr. Judith Orloff explains what an emotional empath is:

           Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes

to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are

less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which

they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually

attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it.

Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.

The trademark of empaths is that they know where you’re coming from.

Some can do this without taking on people’s feelings. However, for better

or worse, others, like myself and many of my patients, can become angst-

sucking sponges. This often overrides the sublime capacity to absorb

positive emotions and all that is beautiful. If empaths are around peace

and love, their bodies assimilate these and flourish. Negativity, though,

often feels assaultive, exhausting. Thus, they’re particularly easy marks

for emotional vampires, whose fear or rage can ravage empaths. As a

subconscious defense, they may gain weight as a buffer.
How many of you can identify the emotional vampires you’ve known by name? Raise your hand! Me too! I’ve called them “joy-sucking vortexes” – same diff.

I wrote about this a little bit in Grave Injustices last year. I didn’t know what to call it then, but it showed that I’d started listening to my internal angst some and limiting things like T.V. (particularly news). But I need to do more – listen to my body, mind and soul when I need a break, some alone time to recharge and distance myself from negativity – both online and in person that can suck my energy dry.

Over the years, I have had to (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) step back, breathe and decide, “Is this my fight?” A lot of times this has been at the urging of my husband after he’s witnessed how certain things can emotionally ravage me; most of the time it’s not my fight. The practice of letting go is ongoing…

Dr. Orloff’s quiz to see if you’re an empath will be eye-opening, especially for my nurse friends:


Ask yourself:

·         Have I been labeled as “too emotional” or overly sensitive?

·         If a friend is distraught, do I start feeling it too?

·         Are my feelings easily hurt?

·         Am I emotionally drained by crowds, require time alone to revive?

·         Do my nerves get frayed by noise, smells, or excessive talk?

·         Do I prefer taking my own car places so that I can leave when I please?

·         Do I overeat to cope with emotional stress?

·         Am I afraid of becoming engulfed by intimate relationships?

If you answer “yes” to 1-3 of these questions, you’re at least part empath. Responding “yes” to more than 3 indicates that you’ve found your emotional type.

Recognizing that you’re an empath is the first step in taking charge of your

emotions instead of constantly drowning in them. Staying on top of empathy will

improve your self-care and relationships.
It may be a little uncomfortable to admit but it’s also a step in the right direction – discovering what to name these feelings and knowing you’re not broken because you react this way. Knowing, as Dr. Orloff says, “No.” is a one word sentence – use it when you need to. You don’t need permission from anyone to do what you need to live comfortably in your own skin. You don’t even have to explain, except to those people who love you and they will understand and embrace you after you’ve had time to rejuvenate with some silence and solitude.

My favorite meditation focus - solitude.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Great Misbehavers

My brother-in-law, Danny, is writing a book. He’s been working on it for at least 22 years and we all anxiously await its publishing. It’s a parenting book. The first of his nieces and nephews were born in 1989, so he probably started to voice his opinions on parenting in 1991 or so with the typical, “MY kid is never going act like that!” in response to my toddling sons misbehavior. This went on for some time and through many more children on both sides of the family before his first child was born in the year 2000.

That’s when he realized, no doubt, like the rest of us parents that these kids aren’t moldable clay to fashion any way we choose. They are real live human beings with real live opinions, wants, needs and preferences of their own and a surprising WILL to express them at the most inopportune times – like the time my boys were staying with my sister Kristi and Danny (my free babysitting when I was a single mom) while I worked nights. Alex elected to use one of these times to let my sister know she wasn’t the boss of him. When she argued back, he said she wasn’t the boss of that room (in her house). She countered again and his final attempt was, “Well…you’re not the boss of the world!”

Our job, as parents, even of these particularly obstinate little guys is to guide them through the early part of their lives; showing them how to navigate safely while keeping in mind their way may look a bit different than ours or the one we would prefer or have planned for them.

This has become even more evident in my new role as grandma to Miss Abby. In helping Alex through these first few months, I’ve explained to him that he needs to learn her – her preferences, what calms her, what she thinks is funny. On a particularly frustrating evening, she wouldn’t take her bottle from him while she was lying down. It’s because she prefers to sit straight up with her back against your chest while she eats. He tried this and sent me a text later: “OMG, that was SO much easier.” Even at 6 months old, she is exerting her independence, expressing her individuality.

I was considering myself all wise and grandmotherly the next morning – the lesson of learning your child had been passed on. Until, at the bus stop, Allison saw a T.V. flickering in someone’s bedroom window. She lamented, “I wish I had a T.V. in my room.” I said I didn’t because I think those people might have trouble sleeping at night because when they go into their room, their brain is saying (in my goofy voice), “It’s time to watch T.V.! We better stay awake!” and when people who don’t have a T.V. go in their room at night their brain is saying (another goofy voice), “Ah, it’s time to be calm and get ready to sleep. I can’t wait to sleep.” She looked at me and said, “I don’t like it when you use voices like that because it makes me think you’re possessed and that something bad is going to happen.” I’m continuing to learn as I go…each child so different than the one before.

As far as the older children go, I have found that Harry S. Truman had it right: “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Danny might find that out for himself, someday…and put that quote in his book.

                                                          The Great Misbehavers -
                                                 Michaela, Alex, Adam and Emily

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Good Clean Food

My favorite place to eat for the past year has been Chipotle, specifically, their chicken bowl sans rice: pinto beans, chicken, mild salsa, sour cream and cheese. It’s bursting with flavor and feels good on my belly. Since I quit gluten, I don’t typically have the boggy gut feeling after I eat anything – even the gluten-free pasta sits well. Chipotle gives an even better feeling – a good clean food feeling – you know the one. A bonus to this great feeling is they have a nutrition calculator on their website under MENU at Chipotle – so you can figure out your calories before you go! The website also discusses the vision of the restaurant and the integrity of the food.

I’ve made my version of chipotle at home using the recipes on this site: Chipotle Copycat Recipes It was good and very close to the restaurant version but it took some time. What I like to make more often, that gives me that same good-clean-food feeling is fajitas. I have a countertop Cuisinart Griddle/Grill. I grill all the ingredients for the fajitas on it. I prefer the texture of flour fajita wraps, but I’ve found some white corn ones that are also pretty soft and not so gritty.

Chicken Fajitas

4 Green Peppers, cleaned and sliced

2 Large Onions, sliced

4 Chicken breasts, sliced

Fajita spice of your choice – we use Market Pantry’s version

Sour Cream

Shredded Cheese

Slice vegetables on a cutting board first and sprinkle with fajita spice, tossing gently to distribute. I usually have to do two grill-full’s of each ingredient. You can cut the meat ahead of time and keep in the fridge with the fajita spice on it but I usually don’t – slice it on the cutting board and toss with fajita spice as well. I keep each ingredient covered as it gets done (8 min on the grill is usually enough for everything), so everything is warm when served. Assemble by placing 1 tbsp sour cream on one side of a fajita wrap, top with 1 oz chicken and as many veggies as you can fit, followed by 0.5 oz cheese – wrap up and enjoy! I serve with refried beans, chips and salsa.

Nutrition facts for 2 fajitas (2 wraps, 2oz chicken, 1 tbsp sour cream, 1 oz cheese):
*I don’t count the calories in the veggies as there’s not that many you can fit

Calories: 457
Fat: 24.2
Carbs: 15
Fiber: 0
Protein: 25.4

This picture is a left-over fajita because I forgot to get a picture on the first day!
They look so much better than this the first time...really...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

This is Your Life...

It seems like just last week I wrote about turning 45. It wasn’t…it was a whole year ago and here I am – 46. Life is speeding by at a breakneck pace and I have so much I want to do, personally and professionally. Heck, I don’t know if I have enough time left (even if I live another half-century) to read all the books on my list!

I can’t help but think that part of the reason life flies by so fast is that I’m spending so much time worrying about what’s coming next, planning for this or that, and preparing for the other shoe to drop. Experts estimate that 85% of those things we worry about never happen. I’m wasting a lot of time.

This need to slow down and enjoy life a little more, is the reason for these particular New Year’s resolutions of mine:

#4. Learn how to do yoga and meditate

Last year I wrote about my love of running and the prospect of running my first half-marathon at 45…that was the last race I completed - February 2013. I still love running but there hasn’t been much of it for the last 6 months, since I slipped and fell on wet concrete stairs. Instead my time has been taken up visiting a chiropractor and working out on the gentler elliptical machine. There will be running again. In fact, Allison starts the Girls on the Run program in March and we plan to run a couple of races together this summer. Running is hard but the benefits of it, which spill over into all other areas of my life, outweigh my whininess and in the end, I love it for what it does for me.

Unfortunately, I now have the tailbone injury added to a tendency toward tendonitis, plantar faciitis and almost every other musculoskeletal-itis there is. My hope is that yoga will replace the chiropractor by keeping my muscles long and more flexible and my body properly aligned. I’m in the process of finding a great place to go that fits in my schedule. I’d like to take a private class…we’ll see what I find. Eventually, I’d prefer to do it at home but I know I need some instruction first.

I’ve tried meditating before. It’s a little like trying to read right beside a NASCAR track. My mind is the NASCAR track and every thought is a different car. It can get a little discouraging. The instructions I’ve read say to start slowly with just a minute or two and don’t fight the thoughts, just try to lengthen spaces between the thoughts. I will certainly try with the goal of slowing the racing thoughts, creating space to breathe, to relax and face the day open and calm.

To that end, this article by Lissa Rankin, MD really struck a chord with me. Grace, I guess, is what I’m striving for in all of my relationships; a way to be less reactive and look at the perspective of others; especially those closest to me. I’m practicing offering grace…and space to my adult children, in particular, to let them succeed or fail on their own and live lives entirely of their choosing.

#8. Spend more time being creative: write, draw, craft, cook and photograph

Brene Brown says that if we stifle creativity, it doesn’t just go away. Unused creativity expresses itself in anxiety, tension and uneasiness. This is astonishing to me! I’m often so busy with my lists of things to get done that I feel like I’m wasting time if I sit down to read or write…let alone craft or photograph. Cooking is something I do anyway and finding new recipes is always fun for me. I’m excited to play more and use more of my time to be creative this year.

#11. Spend more time looking at the people I love with my undivided attention

“The eyes are the window to the soul.” – William Shakespeare

Is there anything better than really connecting with those we love? Connecting on Facebook has been so much fun for me. I love seeing pictures of family and friends and their children and grandchildren as well as reading interesting articles. I also have quite of few games of Words with Friends going. But, it’s time for me to put the phone or tablet down when it’s interfering with communication and connection that’s happening right in front of me.

I’m hoping to seal more memories in my mind and slow time down a bit by focusing on the moment, the loved one, the conversation – by making eye contact, then and there. Whether I’m putting Abby to sleep, or discussing any of the kids’ days, or having a conversation with Rich, I will pay attention in that moment – not worrying about what needs to be done next or what’s going on in the electronic world.

I try to keep Switchfoot’s lyric, “This is your life, are you who you want to be?” foremost in my mind as I decide what changes to make and what things to leave in place; when to say “no” and when to shout “yes!” I hope, in so doing, that this year of being 46-years-old will bring with it a life more tailored to me and those I love the most.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oh Reuben, How I've Missed You!

I enjoy a good Reuben Sandwich. This is what Wikipedia has to say about its’ creation:

One account holds that Reuben Kulakofsky (sometimes spelled Reubin, or the last name shortened to Kay), a Lithuanian-born grocer from Omaha, Nebraska, was the inventor, perhaps as part of a group effort by members of Kulakofsky's weekly poker game held in the Blackstone Hotel from around 1920 through 1935. The participants, who nicknamed themselves "the committee", included the hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel. The sandwich first gained local fame when Schimmel put it on the Blackstone's lunch menu, and its fame spread when a former employee of the hotel won a national contest with the recipe.[1]

Other accounts hold that the Reuben's creator was Arnold Reuben, the German owner of the once-famous, now defunct Reuben's Delicatessen in New York City,[3] who, according to an interview with Craig Claiborne, invented the "Reuben special" around 1914.[4] The earliest references in print to the sandwich are New York–based but that is not conclusive evidence, though the fact that the earliest, from a 1926 edition of Theatre Magazine, references a "Reuben special", does seem to take its cue from Arnold Reuben's menu.

I prefer to use the Reuben from Omaha history because, let’s face it, New York really has enough attributed to it.

When we were first married, we lived in Crestview, Florida. We were stationed at Eglin AFB. We discovered the Reuben Sandwich at Mia’s Restaurant there shortly after we arrived. We ate there weekly (I think on Mondays) for the 18 months we were there.

When we were transferred to Bellevue, NE we didn’t find a place close to home where we could get a good Reuben. We did find a great Mom & Pop Mexican restaurant (Lil Burro) that became our regular place to eat out. Then, 8 years later, we moved to Gretna. We had a 3-year-old and you know how fun they are to take out to eat! Besides, it’s pretty far from our house to any good restaurants so we just got out of the habit of eating out. Add to that, 2 ½ years ago I went gluten-free and by then the prospect of ever having a Reuben Sandwich again seemed all but impossible.

Enter my reinvigorated self this New Year! I’m dedicated to eating REALLY good, fun food. I enjoy food…A LOT…so when food gets boring, I can rebel a bit and not want to adhere to a well-balance diet. I want flavor and variety – something to look forward to, that makes my eyes light up. This is not a low calorie meal, so it will require some planning for the rest of the day, but it’s so worth it!

I used marble rye bread for the family and for mine I used my Udi’s Flax and Fiber bread. This bread is not fabulous but it’s good toasted and with a sandwich as flavorful as a Reuben, it’s perfect. I buttered both sides of the bread and toasted them on the griddle. They turned out so great! I hope you have time to try one soon!


Udi’s Flax and Fiber bread                          2 slices, buttered and grilled

Land O Lakes light butter w/ canola oil        1 tablespoon

Thousand Island Dressing                           1 tablespoon

Corned beef, deli                                         2 oz

Sauerkraut                                                  4 tablespoons (or whatever you can get to fit)

Swiss Cheese                                             1 ounce slice

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 482
Fat: 32.7
Carbs: 26.3
Fiber: 6
Protein: 21.3

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Accidental Humility

I wrote this back in December. It's been hiding in my notebook since then. I have been reluctant to publish it because it doesn't shed a very favorable light on me. I have wrestled with it for a month or so and decided, so what - life happens. My perspective has been altered because of it. Maybe someone elses will be too.

I don't think I had road rage. I had road entitlement. I was frequently exasperated by people but I was also friendly, saying things like, "thanks guy!" and waving if someone let me in. I still continually judge driving ability - like the people - I saw one just today who swerve to exit the interstate at the last minute scarcely missing the short poles that mark the exit. As if the risk of that is worth it when you can just go to the next exit and turn around or go the long way through town. 

My road entitlement first became evident in the mid-90's. Even then I was trying to keep it at bay. One day, a driver in front of me did something I can't even remember and all I did was sigh heavily. Alex, then about 4 years-old, said, "That guy's an idiot, right Mom?" He'd heard that somewhere before. I know. I'm sure the Mother of Year Award went to me that year.

In early 2013, I was explaining to Rich how when particular drivers (in construction or on one particular overpass I take to work) speed to the front of the closed lane and then put on a blinker, it really drives me crazy. My reasoning was that they have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and think what they're going to do is more important that what the rest of us, who have been patiently waiting in line, have to do. He looked at me, puzzled, and said, "I don't think it's that. I think they're just going about their day, worried about what they have to get done at home and work." He's often right about these things.

My accidental humility came, as I said, in early December when I was a tish late for a hair appointment. I was waiting to turn right out of my neighborhood. A car was coming in the right lane of the four lane highway. No one was in the left lane. After she passed by and it was clear for me to pull out, she changed to the left lane. I irritatedly thought to myself (and may have actually said out loud), "Now you change lanes!"

As I got closer to her, I saw that she had the Nebraska license plate with one star that read, "Fallen Hero," then, on a yellow ribbon I recognized Matthew's name - a fallen hero from the war in Iraq who has a street in our town named for him...

This as I was listening to Josh Groban's Christmas CD, "Truly he taught us to love one another..." I had let my tendency to rush cause me to be irritated by a few seconds delay without thinking of the real human in that vehicle: a mother who has experienced unfathomable grief and given the greatest sacrifice.

This made me wonder - how many other people with less obvious pain I've been irritated with for no reason? There was a lesson here for me - and maybe for all of us - that we get out of our own heads and consider that other people may actually have more important things going on than being late for a haircut...or simply that a few seconds either way doesn't matter.

It's one of the reasons New Year's Resolution #15 is so important to me: I will carry courage, compassion (including self-compassion) and connection with me in my heart on the journey of this one life...even when things get scary (or frustrating).

Who knows, it's possible the person in that other vehicle is carrying precious cargo like this: