Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Back in college I had the most incredible literature professor.  I trudged through the snow in the middle of winter every Wednesday to take a 3-hour night class on 20th Century American Literature - just because she was teaching it.  I sat through an entire semester of British Romantic Poets even though I had no interest in British Romantic Poets.  She was just amazing.

I think about her every once in a while.  I wonder what she's doing, what she's reading, what she thinks about the latest world events.  Well, today I remember something she once said.  It wasn't one of her more profound statements.  In fact, she sort of said it in passing.  But it resonated with me then, 16 years ago, and continues to speak to me today.  Here's the gist of it:  

There will be things in your life that you excel at, do them and be excellent.  
There will be other things that you're just okay at, do them and just be average.  
Then there will be things that you love to do that you just don't do well at all.  
Do them anyway.  Do them for love, for fun, for adventure.  Do it just because you can.  

Why has this statement stayed with me over the years?  I think it's because it gives me permission.  Permission to be great.  Permission to be okay.  Permission to suck at something but do it anyway. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't want to be better at something. Believe me, I would love to play my guitar better, surf better, do a lot of things better.  The point is - we don't have to be great in order to do what we love.  Give yourself permission to just do.   

Seven months ago I started this blog.  I didn't have the time or energy to make it look pretty. All I had were words - lots of words.  So I thought of a name, began to write my story and voila - here we are.  I've done my best with what I know and I'm glad for that.  I'm glad I didn't wait for the perfect words, the perfect look.  I didn't need to be great. I just needed to write. And I've done that - for 96 posts.

This has been a healing outlet for me.  A place to process, sift and unravel the millions of thoughts and emotions that would otherwise be silenced.  Because sometimes it's easier - to be silent, to not dig, question, proclaim.  I'd rather not talk. I have no words, but those that form, black and white, on my screen.  And little did I know - how much I needed them, these words. They have walked me through my fears, forcing me to stop every now and then - to face them, understand them, put them in their place.  They have allowed my heart to soften, open, connect with old friends, make new ones.  And I have learned, we all have a story to tell.  Words, waiting to be written.  Don't be afraid of them.  Don't wait until they are perfect, eloquent, articulate.  Just write.  Tell.  Begin.  Because your story, my story, just might change somebody else's.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I sit at my kitchen table, watching the golden leaves dance, tossing and turning until they hit the ground.  The fall winds strip the trees bare, prepare for winter's arrival.


It accepts, doesn't resist, knows how to be ready.


I sit and observe.  See if I can learn something.  How to prepare:  for seasons, change, the days to come.  What do I strip myself of?  What must I do to survive - thrive - through the inevitable? Seasons come, go, change, ready or not.

I am not


I stare out the window.  Voices drown out my thoughts.  I strain to hear, sift through the noise, listen.

It'll be okay. One thing at a time. Just focus on what needs to be done. To be done. My list. Where is my list? I have more things to add. Let me just write these things down and then I'll stop. Wait? No, not yet. If only I had more time. Then... then I would rest. Or maybe write. It wouldn't be wrong, would it? Not if I were writing about resting, being still. Too many things racing through my mind, my heart.  Passions to pursue, challenges to meet, calls to make, girls to tuck in. The girls. I have to remember to make that doctor's appointment. And she needs new shoes. Her toes just won't squeeze in anymore.  She's growing so quickly. And gloves. She needs gloves. Because the cold is coming, seasons changing. I'm not ready. Too much to do. To do. I forgot to do my exercises. Again. Not enough time. My body aches. From the inside out, bone chilling ache. But I don't want to take this medicine anymore. Shooting myself to slow this disease down, only to speed up another. Enough. Not enough. Time. I should start dinner. It's getting late.  Too late.  


She breaks my silence, my noisy attempt to quiet myself.

I lift her out of her crib, draw open the curtains.  She points.  Watches the leaves dance outside her window.  She laughs, excited, like the show is just for her.

I squeeze her.  Because it is - just for her, just for us.  This moment. That's all I've got, all I'm sure of.

This is life.  These are the moments.  Now is my season.

So I smile, laugh, spin her around and watch the dimples form as she throws her head back and giggles.

And instantly

I am stilled.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully

And so it begins... the season of Advent.

A time to celebrate 

the birth of a King

the hope of a Savior.


amazing grace.

The tangible gift 

of intangible mercy.


for the lonely,

the sick, 

the hurting.

Tis' the season

for worship.

Hearts quiet

eyes lifted

hands raised.

I enter into this season

with eyes on Him

and suddenly

I am 


Moved to mercy.

Healed by hope.

With childlike faith 

I begin with


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Planning for Success (again)

It's a little ironic that I started the month talking about wellness and prevention and then spent half of the month sick.  Well...all I can say is I can't imagine what life would be like if I wasn't putting the time and effort into trying to be healthy.  My situation is a bit unique; most people aren't on immunosuppressive drugs.  I will admit, there are times when it is very frustrating.  I can do everything "right" and still end up with an infection that lasts way too long.

The focus today though is back on prevention and now that I almost feel like my "normal" self again, it's time to re-group and move forward.  Rest, exercise, eating and drinking a whole food diet - we can't live without it.   It's so important to plan for success, especially during the busyness of the holidays.

Here's a bit of my game plan (in no particular order):
*  Chop fresh fruits and veggies for quick and easy snacking.
*  Pre-package/pre-portion snacks (ie: almonds and dried fruit in snack size ziploc bags).
*  Double (or triple) recipes so there is enough to freeze.  It's great to have a nutritious meal ready to be warmed up in minutes.
*  Cheers to health:  Hold the eggnog, juice and blend up those veggies.
*  Sleep:  I'm guilty (as you can tell by what time I'm writing this post).  I need to put sleep higher on my wellness priority list.  In fact, sleep deserves a post all on it's own.
*  Exercise:   I've got a long list of exercises from my physical therapist.  This week, we're incorporating a little walking on the elliptical.   No offense, "yoga for arthritis" class - I absolutely adore you, but sometimes a girl just needs to break a sweat.
*  Pray/Meditate:  This sets the stage for all of the above.

What are you doing to stay well this holiday season?

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shop Small - Small Business Saturday

Today is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.   By supporting a local small business, you are supporting your community, a neighbor, a friend.  So take your shopping list and head on over to a small business near you.  Together, we can make a huge difference.  


Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Grateful

I'm joining up with Lisa-Jo, The Gypsy Mama, for Five Minute Friday - a time to stop, drop and write.  Today, she asks us to give our best five minutes on:




She's watching me, listening.  Every step, every word.  Waiting to see how I respond.  Ready to take her queue, ready to imitate my every word, every action.  

What does she hear?  Does she hear her mommy giving thanks?  Does she hear me speaking words of love, life, gratitude, appreciation?  More importantly, does she see it?  Do my actions reflect my thanks, my attitude of gratitude?   Am I showing her how to be grateful?  Am I teaching her one of the most important lessons of life?  

More than words thrown around in November. More than a catch phrase on a Hallmark card. I'm talking about gratitude that runs through your veins, changes your vision, creates your perspective.  Does she know what it looks like? sounds like?  feels like?  To be grateful.  

Kids, they see through everything. They may not know the definition of sincerity but they can smell it from a mile away. I can talk about it, write post after post about it, but really she is my measuring stick, my litmus test.  Ultimately, her ability to be grateful will be the purest reflection of my own.  


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Connecting the Dots

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; 
you can only connect them looking backward." 
~ Steve Jobs.  

Two years ago, my husband, daughter and I got on a plane.  We said goodbye.  From our window seat, we watched our island home get smaller and smaller until it was just a speck in a sea of blue.  From 35,000 feet we looked at each other, no words necessary.  We were on our way - about to begin a new chapter, a new journey.  We traded our swimsuits for sweatsuits, our slippers for snow shoes, the sunshine for, well... lots of rain.  We knew what we were getting into (or so we thought).  A change of scenery, a chance to slow down, four seasons, mountains, snow, the ability to get in the car and drive - forever, new friends, new memories.

We had no idea what the next two years would hold.  No idea.  But somehow, as I look back, I see how every decision has led us right to where we needed to be - for such a time as this.  It is amazing how life sometimes makes more sense in retrospect. 

Two years.  Twenty four months.  Seven hundred thirty days.  This time has been some of the best of our lives, but also some of the worst.  Another amazing little girl, new friends and new adventures.  We have slowed down.  We have enjoyed the seasons.  We have gotten in the car and driven to amazing new places.  We have played in the snow in the winter and gone camping in the summer.  We have felt pain.  We have danced with fear. We have thought the worst. We have cried too many tears.  But most important, we have become a family.

Every moment of our lives - the bitter, the sweet - it all somehow shapes who we are.  And that's why I can give thanks for it all.  For the joy - that gives me strength.  For the pain - that gives me purpose.  For today and the dots to come, I have nothing but thanks.

With Love,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Plan B

Well, it looks like we'll be having a low key Thanksgiving at home tomorrow.  Thanks to a cold/sinus infection/cough/fever/weird eye thing, I'm on 3 medications and have been told to stay in bed.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but that's the way it goes.

As I've mentioned before, the shot that I give myself every week basically suppresses my immune system so the littlest sniffle or sore throat ends up turning into some infection that can last for weeks.  It's very frustrating, especially since I've always been pretty healthy and rarely sick.  Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it.  What's worse:  Letting the disease progress or having a weak immune system?  Dealing with greater pain and a fused spine or the serious possible side effects of the drug?  The answers aren't so easy.

But for now, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for a caring team of doctors, for medication that allows me to live a normal life, for health insurance and the fact that I even have choices.  I am mindful that there are millions of Americans without adequate health insurance these days.  The choices are made for them.

So while I won't be cooking a large feast, dressing up for a fun party or eating to my heart's content, I will still be giving thanks, and that's what it's all about.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Menu to Be Thankful For

I love a good ole' traditional Thanksgiving meal:  turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, pumpkin this and apple that.  Well, maybe I should say I loved that good ole' Thanksgiving meal. This is my first vegetarian Thanksgiving and I must admit, I was not looking forward to it.  I couldn't bring myself to buy a tofurky.  No offense to those that eat it, I just couldn't do it.  Still, I wanted a beautiful and delicious meal for my family and me so I sat down with a stack of my favorite recipe books.  I didn't even have to go through the whole stack. Power Foods had everything I wanted and more. If you don't already own this book, I highly recommend it.  It is fabulous.  Hands down my favorite recipe book.  Click on the link below to get one for yourself or one for a friend.

Without further adieu, here's my contribution to our Thanksgiving dinner.  Move over Tofurky, here comes a Thanksgiving meal from vegetarian heaven.

Sweet Potato Hummus:

I've made this before and could not believe how easy and yummy it was.  Seriously, if you like hummus, you have to try this recipe.  Oh, and if you don't like hummus, you have to try this recipe.  It just might change your mind.

photo by: 

Quinoa and Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's hard to beat protein-packed quinoa with sweet corn and salty pumpkin seeds.  This went on the menu real quick.  Plus, just look at the picture.  Talk about eating a rainbow.

photo by:

Roasted Vegetables

I love roasted vegetables.   I roast them all year.  But really, there's nothing like seasonal fall veggies.

photo by:

This recipe sealed the deal and made me realize that not only am I not missing out on anything by having a vegetarian Thanksgiving, I am actually going to feast and feel fabulous while doing so.  Check out these beauties.  I cannot wait to make them, let alone eat them.  

photo by:

Spiced Pomegranate Sparkler

A party isn't a party without a fun and fancy drink.  This spiced pomegranate sparkler is just what the doctor ordered.

photo by:

Happy Cooking!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Conspiring for Good

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and besides a grateful heart, an eating frenzy, parades and a day of football, the next thing on people's minds is probably what comes next:  Black Friday. Oh, the infamous black Friday, where retailers go from being in the red to being in the black, where consumers dive further into the red because the deals are just too good to pass up.  I understand.  I love a good deal.  I love buying the perfect gift for family and friends (or even myself).  Believe me, I am no scrooge.  But I'd like to take a step back for a second and talk about something.

I realize that we don't all share the same faith, beliefs or ideas about Christmas.  Some celebrate it as the birth of a Savior, others see it as a time for peace and goodwill, for some it's all about eggnog and the Carpenters Christmas album (my all time favorite, by the way).  And then there are those that don't celebrate Christmas whatsoever.  Whoever you are, whatever you believe, would you consider for a moment what it would be like if we all changed our perspective on Christmas.  If we gave time, created memories, spread love, created hope, maybe even changed the world.  Yes, the whole world - a lofty Christmas goal, but why not?  Advent Conspiracy is a movement to do just that.  The concept is simple:  worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. Please take a couple minutes to watch the video below.  

What do you think?  Powerful, isn't it?  That's the kind of Christmas I want.  One of presence, lasting memories, love and hope.  One that changes hearts, lives, communities, continents.  One that doesn't leave me in debt, but leaves me in awe. I want in.

Next week I'll be starting a short series on how to worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. I would love it if you would join me.  Ashley at The World So Sweet is also doing a more in depth series so please check her out as well.

There will be time to talk about this in the days and weeks to come. For now, let's all enjoy this week of Thanksgiving.  One holiday at a time.  One moment at a time.  


Sunday, November 20, 2011


I think I broke a personal record today.  Thanks to fever, chills, sore throat, and a stuffed up head I managed to sleep/lay down/rest for 14 whole hours.  Fourteen hours!  Too bad I felt so miserable I didn't really get to enjoy it.  Anyway, once I stumbled out of bed around noon I went on a "fight the sickness" rampage:  hot tea, lemons, vegetable soup, oranges, tons and tons of water, vitamins and of course, a green smoothie.

Normally, Sundays are my day to get ready for the rest of the week.  I try to cook a meal or two, prep my veggies for juicing, do the laundry, ironing, etc.  I feel so much better when I go to bed Sunday night knowing that all this is done.  I am way less stressed when I'm ahead of the ball instead of sprinting after it.

Needless to say, this is how I spent my Sunday - when I wasn't sleeping.

I have a few go-to recipes that I usually always have the ingredients for and everyone loves it. Whole Food's Vegetarian Chili is a quick, hearty and healthy meal that makes me happy every time.  And here's my philosophy:  If you're going to take the time to cook a healthy meal, make it last.  Double (or even triple) the recipe.  Then you'll have enough for dinner and leftovers and freeze for the future.  There's nothing like opening up the freezer and seeing a delicious meal just waiting to be warmed up.  If you get tired of eating it as plain chili, you can spread the chili on a tortilla and have a yummy burrito.

Sprinkle on some cheese and you're good to go.

And of course, if you're having chili, there needs to be cornbread.  This is when you call in the troops (aka:  3-year old with amazing stirring power).  


Okay, so while the cornbread is baking and the chili is simmering (45 minutes) I whipped up a little something for the crock pot.  I found this Italian Lentil and Barley Soup recipe on  I've never tried it before but it sure looks yummy.  I'll let you know in about 12 hours how it tastes.

 If my crock pot was bigger I would have doubled this recipe too.  I am fan of chopping all at once.

Twelve hours on low.  Slow cooking while I sleep.  How can you beat that?  

Believe it or not, I was still feeling pretty sick.  I had no sense of smell or taste and my head was pounding.  But hey, I was on a roll.  Thus, the pumpkin cookies!  A friend gave me this recipe last year and I have made it several times, but I have never it made it the same way twice.  I have become a little obsessed with substitutions.  I usually cook or bake the recipe the "real" way first so I know how it's supposed to taste.  Then I go crazy subbing this for that and that for this.  

Here's the original recipe:
Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin 
1 cup chocolate chips, nuts or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter and gradually add in the sugars.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in nuts, chocolate chips and/or raisins.

Drop cookie dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.  Cook on racks.  Yield:  about 3 dozen.

Here's some of the changes I've made:

For the 2 cups flour, you can do 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour, or 2 cups whole wheat flour.
For white sugar, I've used maple syrup or honey as a replacement.
For butter, I've used applesauce as a substitute.  Note: using applesauce in place of butter will make your baked good a lot denser.
For the extra goodies, I have used chocolate chips, dried cranberries, walnuts, raisins, and pecans.  It all depends on what I have in the cabinet and what kind of mood I'm in.

The bottom line is recipes are not written in stone. You can tweak your old favorites to make it a little healthier and still enjoy.

I can't smell but I bet they smell delicious!!

Here's to a healthy, happy week!  

Good night, 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to Basics - Part 2

Last week I went to the second and final session of "Six Efficient Movement Principles" with a physical therapist.  Once again, it was amazing.  She taught me how to:

- Get in and out of bed (Who would have thought there is an efficient way of getting in and out of bed. And who would have thought it would take me 20 tries before I got it right.)

- Sit at a desk (She would not be pleased if she saw me at this very moment.  I'm sitting "in neutral" on my exercise ball but my arms and shoulders are all wrong.  Laptops are not conducive to proper form that's for sure.)

- Vacuum (Yes, she actually wheeled a vacuum into the room. Who knew my form was all wrong.)

- Sway (Moms, you know what I'm talking about.  You know that sway we do when we're holding our babies.  And we continue to do standing in line at the market even when we're not holding our babies.  Yup, that's the sway.  Once again, all wrong.  Sway from the ankles, not the waist - bad for the sacroiliac joints.)

- Drive (Okay, well she didn't teach me how to drive but she did show me something that would help while I drive.  She walked me out to my car and had me try this back support made especially for driving.  HO.LEE.SMOKES.  I am a new woman!!  I could seriously drive all day.  It is heaven in a lumbar support.  I want to do commercials for them because it has seriously changed my life.  Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but still - it is fabulous!)

I hugged her when our session was over and told her that she gave me such an incredible gift.  I think it should be required for anyone going through chronic pain/illness to learn these skills. And really, I want to teach my girls how to do things right from the start.  Why create unnecessary damage if it can be avoided.

When I was diagnosed with AS back in June, my rheumatologist handed me a 4-page pamphlet and a prescription for a potent TNF blocker. After all, there is no known cause and therefore no cure.  All we can do is slow things down and treat the disease.  He is a wonderful doctor, kind and intelligent.  He did his job, but I needed more.  I needed to learn how to live with AS (maybe even how to fight it).  I didn't know what that meant at the time.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  But the last few weeks have taught me so much.  I needed to re-learn how to do everything:  sleep, stand, sit, clean, drive, type, you name it.  I needed to learn how to live in my new body.   Now, there is a sense of peace, a calm running through my joints and muscles because slowly, we're figuring each other out.

It's funny how much there is to learn when we go back to the basics.

Love and Healing,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Grow

It's that time of week again.  Joining up with Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.  Time to stop, drop and write.  Today she asks for our best five minutes on:


Ready?  GO!

At this very moment, something is growing.
Right here, right now.
In you
and me.

or hate

or resentment

or fear

or disease

or doubt

or complacency

It grows
nurtured or neglected
an untamed weed
or prolific garden.

We feed it
fuel it
for better or worse.

What are you growing?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Moment at a Time

Well... so much for my November blogging streak.  I feel like I'm coming into the confessional booth:  Forgive me readers, for it has been 4 days since my last post.  But really, I have a feeling nobody even noticed so I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  It was a busy week.  Last weekend my sister was in town visiting, then I got some lovely food poisoning, then I was out of town for the last 4 days.  I probably could have written a post at some point, but I decided giving my kids my undivided attention and catching up on some much needed sleep was going to have to come first.  Anyway, it's good to be back.   Here's a post I wrote earlier this week.

If you've been to Nordstrom recently, it's likely you have seen this poster:

Even though I saw this posted on facebook a couple weeks ago, when I saw this plastered all over Nordstrom's windows and doors this week, it really made me stop and think.

First I thought about it from a business perspective.  It's a great marketing campaign.  Ultimately businesses want people to buy whatever they're selling.  In order to do that, you need people to be talking about you, wanting what you have and walking through your door.  So why would one of America's largest department stores choose to hold off on the Christmas cheer (and make a point of telling you about it)?

I don't know.

I'm sure there are numbers behind it (like the amount of sales that will be generated on November 25th and the weeks to follow).  Or maybe they are capitalizing on something else. While others are decking their halls earlier and earlier each year, they are choosing to go the opposite direction. There's something to be said for that.  A sort of reverse psychology.

Then I started thinking about the line, "We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time."

Celebrating one holiday at a time.

One season at a time.

One day at a time.

One moment at a time.

It's genius.

I've spent most of my life looking ahead.  Doing a, b and c because it was going to lead to d. There's nothing wrong with "d", nothing wrong with looking ahead. In fact, it's a good idea. But here's the goal:  look ahead, plan ahead, be excited for what's to come, but don't ignore the here and now.  I'm getting better at this whole "enjoy the moment" thing.  It's amazing what you see when you're actually present.  I think in this fast-paced, everything is at the touch of our fingertips life that we live, there's a lot to be said about taking things one "holiday" at a time.

Slow down.

Look around.

Enjoy today.


One moment at a time.

Happy Thursday,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

From Cold Sweats to Hot Tea

Good news.  Bad news.

The bad news is that I broke my November blogging streak yesterday.  Lesson:  Don't put off writing your blog post because food poisoning will throw the rest of the night for a loop.  Oh I don't even want to think about what caused it.  Please don't say it was from my all-time favorite Portobello mushroom sandwich that I ate while watching the football game last night.  Was it the hot pear and cinnamon cider I drank too much of?  I know it can't be my sisters to-die-for vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  I think I ate 3... or maybe 7 (hey, they were little, and by far the best vegan baked good I ever ate).  Whatever the culprit, I was in no mood to write.  Let's just say it was a longgggg night.  Ugh.

The good news is this morning my sister rushed to the market and bought old faithful:  ginger root.  She grated that thing with love and whipped up the most potent cure-all tea ever.  It burns like crazy going down and you just know it means business.  And that brings me to today's post: I heart ginger.

This morning I was reminded what an incredible friend we have in ginger.  I mean, hello, the Chinese have been using it for thousands of years (and they know medicine).  I did a little Googling and was quickly reminded how much I need to incorporate ginger into my diet on a regular basis.  Besides its commonly known use for nausea and morning sickness, ginger may also help to relieve arthritis pain, ulcerative colitis, menstrual cramps, fevers from colds and flu, headaches and sore throats.  The list goes on and on.  It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent which seals the deal for me.

There are so many ways to incorporate ginger into our diets.  Even if you can't stomach freshly grated ginger tea, I highly recommend giving ginger a try in your cooking.  I found some great ginger recipes from the Whole Living website.  Check it out and tell me what you think.

Who would have thought a night of cold sweats would rekindle an old love.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Unexpected

Joining Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.  Time to stop, drop and write.  No editing, no overthinking or second guessing.    

Today she asks for five minutes on...


Ready? GO!

It's natural - 

to make plans

to set goals

to envision the future.  

I made them, set them, envisioned it.  

And yet...

in a moment

just one phone call

and it's all moot.

One word, or two

and everything changes.  

Life is forced to


This was not my plan.  

But here I am.  Here I am.  

Sitting.  Listening.  

Believing that this is not something to "make the most of."

No, this is bigger than that. 

Bigger than what I can cram into this 5-minute post.  

I'll consider for a minute:  what if the unexpected is what I'm intended for.  

My purpose.



Beyond my expectation, filled to overflowing kind of purpose.

Could it be?  


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A New Day

Last night I went to bed feeling overwhelmed.  Frustrated by the ups an downs of AS, annoyed by the pain that won't seem to go away, anxious about the future and decisions that need to be made.  I tossed and turned throughout the night, counting down the hours til little ones would need my full attention and worry would have to take the backseat.  At 3 a.m. I realized that if I didn't do something to get out of my "slump" it may just decide to stick around.  So, I did what I normally never do.  I set my alarm so I would wake up before my girls. 

I rolled out of bed while it was still dark, still quiet, determined to start the day focused on promise, not pain. I curled up with Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts.  Ann is an incredibly gifted, poetic writer that challenges you to live a life of radical gratitude.  It was just what I needed.  Once again, perspective changes everything.    

And then I decided to write.  Not on my keyboard, not for the world to read, but the good old fashioned way, with paper and pen - just for me, just for God, just because.  It was healing.

And in perfect timing, the quiet broke.  One by one, I heard, "Mama."  Beautiful.  Music to my ears.  "Mama." I was ready for them.  I was ready for the day.

We headed to the kitchen and big sister helped make our morning green smoothies.  

Fresh spinach and kale...

Almond milk, banana, flax seed and greek yogurt.  I'm currently on an almond milk kick.  It is high in Vitamin D and Riboflavin and tastes delicious.  I haven't gone completely dairy free, but I choose my dairy sources carefully.  Right now, I opt for plain greek yogurt in my smoothies. High in protein and calcium and low in sugar = winner.  I also add 1 tablespoon of flax seed which provides additional fiber and an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids.  

Delicious.  Seriously delicious.  Big sister kept asking me if it was a green "vanilla milkshake." Baby girl cried when her glass was empty.  

Morning Green Smoothie:
- crushed ice
- 1 cup almond milk
- hand full of spinach
- hand full of kale
- 1 banana 
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt

Blend and enjoy!

Before rushing out the door, stopped for a minute to appreciate the mid-November sunshine.

Sometimes we just need to stop, make some adjustments and chose how we want to move forward.  There is still pain, still decisions to be made, still ups and down, but my body, mind and spirit are ready to take on a new day - and that makes all the difference.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back to Basics

So...last week I learned how to sit.  And stand. And sleep and squat and lift and carry.  Yup, I got play by play instructions and a handout to study.

I'm not joking.

Tomorrow I go to part 2 of "Six Efficient Movement Principles" with a physical therapist.  I wish I could roll my eyes and tell you what a waste of time it us.   I mean, come on, I know how to sit.  But actually, it was an amazing hour and I learned a lot.  And for some reason I was holding back tears the whole time.  I'm not exactly sure why I was so emotional. Maybe it has something to do with the following:

*  Let's be honest, AS's goal is to fuse my spine together (thus the nickname "bamboo spine").  I guess I'm trying to fight what they say is inevitable.

*  I appreciate black and white practical tips.  I like having concrete things that I can do, things that can make me stronger. It helps me not feel so powerless.  Still, I didn't think tips on "how to get up out of a chair" would mean so much to me.

*  I think of myself as strong - physically, mentally, spiritually. Recently though, I've had to redefine "strong."

*  Sometimes I sit at the doctor's office, lay on the table at physical therapy, and think "Is this really me?"

*  Keeping a straight posture has become harder to do these days.  I'm not sure if I'm just inflamed or if something else is happening.

*  I'm learning how to modify everything - from the way I type to the way I play with my kids to the way I grab something off the top shelf.   A part of me embraces the "new normal" but the rest of me just wants "normal" back.

For someone who used to go 100 mph and juggle too many balls at once, this whole slowing down thing has not been easy.  I guess I have a lot to learn.  Thankfully, there's time.  And I'll just take things one step at a time - literally.

Standing Tall,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When 5 = 35 (turning wristbands into opportunity)

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I wanted to share this clip of Starbucks President and CEO, Howard Schultz.  I think it is a fine example of businesses and corporations taking a step toward social consciousness.  Hopefully others will follow suit.  In the meantime, the next time you go for your morning latte, pick up a $5 Indivisible wristband. Let's help create meaningful jobs that pay a living wage.  

Until tomorrow,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Create Jobs for USA

You don't have to look hard to find it:  "for lease" signs on the windows of once flourishing businesses, parks and squares occupied by frustrated citizens, foreclosure notices on your neighbor's front door - signs of a wounded economy, signs that something needs to happen.

I have no interest in a political debate.  I have no interest in pointing fingers, finding fault and placing blame.  I am more interested in solutions and being part of them.

The truth is, regardless of how you have been affected, the economy remains top of mind for most Americans.   For me, mounting medical bills (with the majority being covered by insurance) and $2400/month medication (also covered by insurance) keeps me thankful, yet vigilant.  

Recently I joined the BlogHer Publishing Network, a community of women bloggers who write on topics from politics to parenting in an atmosphere of integrity and respect.  Last week, BlogHer announced that they are partnering with Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) to get the word out on an amazing initiative:  Create Jobs for USA.

Starbucks and OFN recognize that small businesses are still the backbone of America.  Yet, the spiraling economy and credit crisis has stifled the growth of these businesses.  As long as small businesses remain at a standstill, so will our nation's economy.  Create Jobs for USA is not waiting for Washington.  They are not wasting time complaining and pointing fingers.

OFN is a network of lending institutions that invest in community businesses, focusing on opportunities that benefit low-income, low-wealth and other disadvantaged communities across the U.S.

And regardless of what you think about Starbucks (their coffee or their corporate presence) they have contributed 5 million dollars to seed the Create Jobs for USA fund.  Five million dollars that will provide loans to underserved community businesses, including small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate and affordable housing.  The goal is to create and sustain jobs throughout the U.S.  Now how can you argue with that?

To learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved, check out Create Jobs for USA.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finding Beauty

"Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child."  
~ Ron Wild 

The other day, my girls and I went for a walk.  I brought my camera so my 3-year old could take pictures along the way.  It always amazes me.  She stops and appreciates the smallest things, sees things I don't see, teaches me how to slow down and notice the world around me.  I love seeing things through her eyes.  There is beauty and wonder and wisdom at every turn.  I hope you enjoy her pictures.  

She loved the way the sun was shining through the leaves.

Up close.

Loving the fall colors.

"Mommy, remember this tree was green just a few weeks ago.  Isn't that cool?"  

"Hey mom, hold this leaf so I can get a close-up."  

"Can you believe how tall these trees are?  I wonder when they'll stop growing."

Trying to get the perfect angle.

"I love the shape of these guys."  

"These look yummy but I don't think I should eat them."  

"Look!!  The sky is all blue. Perfect blue."  

"I want to live in this beautiful garden."

Handing over my camera is probably one of the best things I've done.  A simple walk around the block will never be the same.  I'm learning to stop, crouch down, look up, be aware, take it all in and see the world through the eyes of a child.  And I must say, the view from here is amazing.

Finding beauty,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup

I held on as long as I could, but I can no longer pretend.  

Summer is long gone and the cold is officially here.      

So what's a girl to do on a chilly November evening besides watch the leaves fall and the sun set way too early?  Well, in the spirit of embracing fall, you make butternut squash soup of course.  Now doesn't the sound of that just make you want to throw on a sweater and listen to the Carpenter's Christmas album. 

Well, queue Pandora radio and a quick and easy recipe from Crazy Sexy Life and we're in business.  

I started with one butternut squash. Isn't she a beauty?

Scooped out the seeds and set aside (I'll roast the seeds later).

Chopped into cubes.  Note:  The recipe says to peel the squash first. For me, it's easier to leave the peel on and scoop the flesh out with a spoon after it's been cooked.  It's just a personal preference.  Plus, too much peeling hurts my hands.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork.  Remember:  the smaller you make your cubes, the quicker it'll cook.

Scooped all the flesh out.  Be sure you wait for it to cool so you don't burn your hands.

Put squash in blender.  Oh, poor Oster blender, I know you're on your last leg but you have to hang in there for me.  I don't think the vita-mix fairies are visiting anytime soon so please quit smoking and making all that noise.  Thanks.

Add 1/2 cup water and blend.  You can add more water to get the right consistency, but don't overdo it or you'll have baby food.  Add 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, cinnamon and sea salt, to taste.  Blend again.  

I transferred to a pot and simmered on the stove.

Garnish with a little paprika and serve.

Find this, and other fabulously healthy recipes, here.

Happy November!