Welcome! This is a way for me to share about my experiences as they relate to myself, family, health, compassionate cooking, baking and yoga. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Transformation Through Celery Juice?

*(10 minute or less read)

In my opinion, I would say I am pretty healthy, actually way healthier than I was 20 years ago that's for sure!  The last decade has been riddled with lifestyle adjustments for me.  One of the biggest changes health-wise was when my family and I decided to become plant-based.  I won't go into all the reasons in this post why we chose this.  Anyway, I thought I ate fairly healthy before that, you know, several servings of produce a day, only organic animal products, and I limited refined sugar.

Oh lordy, the first 3 months of being completely plant-based was horrible.  I seriously felt like I had a flu that would never end, but I had done my research and had mentors that prepared me for that.  So I stuck it out.  I mean, why the heck not?  I was putting good stuff in my body, unless I had an allergy, how in the world could it not be good for me?  I knew my body felt awful because it was literally pulling out all the garage from three decades worth of choices and toxin exposure.  Did I honestly think that I was going to feel amazing overnight?

Fast forward eight years, since then, over time, we've eliminated chemicals and processed items that make us feel like the stuff in a baby's diaper if ya' know what I mean (chemical cleaners and body care items, white sugar, white flour, gluten, highly processed, highly fried, zero nutrient foods).  I really feel so much better in my 40's than I ever did in my 20's or 30's. With all these changes I've managed to quiet my system from not so pleasant symptoms of Lupus, RA, Celiac and Sjogrens.  Believe me, this doesn't mean we are deprived, or that we only eat things that taste like cardboard.  Far from that, in fact, I think what we consume now has even more flavor because my taste buds can actually taste the food, spices and herbs since they are no longer being duped by all the chemicals that manipulate our taste buds.  Crazy, right?

I honestly feel so much better now, this doesn't mean we don't get the occasional cold, or have emergency room visits (broken bones, wasp stings, etc, you know, life), but we can generally recover much quicker. With this being said, there was one auto-immune disorder that, although better, was still hanging around like an annoying swarm of gnats.  Also, I've had this lump on my head for a really long time, like over a decade.

No, I don't know what it is, no, I don't plan on knowing what it is.  Why? Because I have no intention of taking medications or having surgery at this point, that's just my choice and preference.  Even those that choose allopathic means, adding in alternative methods can be a complimentary healing protocol.  I'm not a doctor, but I do highly recommend allowing the two methods to walk hand in hand if choosing traditional medicine.

Through the several life-style changes I've made over the past eight years I did manage to keep this mystery lump from growing for many years.  But, alas, life and stress creep in.  No matter how much yoga, meditation, or fruits and veggeis I ate, the stress trumped the positives and started creating havoc... the lump started to grow.

Okay, so I got a tad nervous.  I thought what else can I do?  Here's the thing, even though I'd been doing healthy things which helped, I learned that stress can trigger all sorts of ickiness in the body and mind.  I don't care what others think about this, stress impacts every part of your life, no matter how healthy you try to be.  We can stick our heads in a hole and pretend it doesn't, we can convince ourselves that people who think it does are cuckoo cuckoo, but what good is that?  It only makes the naysayers feel better for their choice not to put the work into dealing with life in a healthy way.  By making fun of those who continue to learn, grow and use tools to try and better themselves I guess maybe if offers the naysayers a false sense of security behind their walls?

If we choose to let ourselves experience stress without numbing through unhealthy means, there still is the question of how do we heal it?  While it's true we share similar stories and experiences, we are also different, come from different backgrounds, and have different situations and relationships. This is why there are literally hundreds of tools available for us to try!!! How amazing is that!  But back to the stress and what it was doing to my health.  I was at a conundrum.  I already ate pretty healthy, exercised, and dabbled in meditation.  What was this stress triggering in me, and more important, what else could I do about it?

Well, this is where Anthony William, Medical Medium, comes in.  A few years ago, thankfully, somehow I came across his information (and I have no qualms about saying I'm certain the Angels or Spirit had something to do with it).  Again, this is a whole other post, but lets just say at this point, even after being educated in the catholic system, I really wasn't all woohoo about Angels, God and Spirit.  Nevertheless, I got his first book and began reading, and I decided I would gingerly ask my ego to step aside while I read.  I was blown away.  So many things made sense, especially the part about heavy metals, I mean we're talking about fighting sjogrens for 20 years now, my mouth was full of mercury.  Not to mention all the other exposure to metals through environment - air pollution, soil pollution, food pollution, etc.

Okay, so now what?  The most incredible thing happened, he gave me hope.  Instead of living in a world of fear, of dead ends, of no cures, of no healing, he gave me a glimmer of hope.  How?  One of the ways was to have even more awareness of my food choices.  No this doesn't mean that NOW I have to eat everything that tastes like cardboard.  What it means is that yes, fruits and veggies are healthy, but there are specific ones that can dig deep into the layers and grooves of our body to pull out the crud, and there are foods that can heal, repair and fill in those spaces.  Crazy?  Does it matter?  If I or others choose to do things that are healthy, AND if I or others begin to see and feel the difference in OUR bodies - again, I ask, does it matter if you or someone else thinks it's crazy?  In the words of Rhett Butler - "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

Fine and dandy, but what's all this have to do with a celery juice transformation right? Among other things I've added, the celery juice protocol comes from Anthony William.  Now I like celery, but juicing with straight celery juice doesn't especially get me looking forward to my morning.  Celery juice has what I can only describe as a mouth feel (similar to the post I did on Sole).  The natural salts in celery, which are incredibly healing by the way, give it a sort of heaviness in the mouth, which may or may not equate to a gag reflex for some (myself included 😜).  But you know what?  You have sjogrens destroying your teeth, drying your eyes out so that they look like your high as kite most days, and a lump growing on the back of your head, and we'll see what you're ready to give a go at.  I figured, at least this is healthy, so I'll try it for at least a month.

Now, Anthony suggests 16 oz. at least once, if not twice, a day.  Listen Anthony, baby steps here, baby steps.  If I didn't want this juice coming back up to say good morning, I'll be starting with 8 oz, once per day.  I don't know him personally, but I'm going to guess he would say it's better than nothing.  So on March 7th, I began my celery juice experiment.  My mom and one of my daughters did it with me (I'm grateful to have such loving support💖).  The thing is, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. This helps it get to work ASAP, clearing out the junk and creating homeostasis.  We would wait about 30 minutes, taking care of the pups, preparing our coffee, and/or getting our breakfast ready.  Day one?  My daughter thought she was going to vomit, my mom and I drank ours like we were in a beer chugging competition, all the while not breathing through our noses.  All in all, not too bad.

We kept this up, day after day.  My mom travels so she had to continue on her own when she could.  My daughter and I kept going, with me sneakily increasing the amount - she called me out on it.  One month down and I was feeling lighter - literally and figuratively.  The lump?  The same, but not bigger.  We had travel plans coming up and I did not want to stop because who knew where this may go if I continue?  We made sure we would be able to continue even during our travels.  Worked like a charm, and now my sister is doing it too!

I won't lie, there are some mornings the child in me comes out and says "I don't wanna".  Sometimes I just want to take the dogs out, feed them and then have my cup of coffee.  Why?  It's not a lot of work, and now that I'm doing the blender method, it's even quicker.  I figure on those mornings it's the instant gratification part of me wanting my old ways back.  I still get to have my cup of coffee, it's just after I have my celery juice.  To make it even easier for myself, I've adopted a practice my mom taught me, which is to chop the celery (organic is the best option), put it in a [glass] bowl, cover with a lid and place it in the fridge for the morning.  This way it's even easier in the morning, quite helpful in the days "I don't wanna" kicks in.

After two months of celery juice every single morning where do I stand?  I feel good, physically, mentally and emotionally.  I actually feel like I'm handling stressful situations waaaaaay better.  And what about the lump?  It has decreased!!!!!! It's now a smaller, smooth bump, and just to be sure I wasn't trying to convince myself, I had my girls feel it to see what they thought - definitely smaller!  Woohoo!  Anthony William I could kiss you!

Going into month three I am proud of my persistence.  I am proud of my determination.  Are there still days of "I don't wanna"?  Yes, but now my hand instinctively goes to the back of my head, and you know what? That's all the reminder I need.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Do You Supplement?

Supplements or no supplements? This is one of the MANY topics we debate about. Who's right? Who determines who is right? And maybe more importantly, why does there have to be a right or wrong? *Note - if taking things as fact it's a good idea to begin learning who funds/backs "research" or articles that are disparaging towards certain products or companies.  
Although I'm talking about supplements here, I think it's safe to say these questions could be applied to just about everything. So long as we aren't harming ourselves or others, why can't we just have a difference of opinion without someone needing to be right or wrong, winner or loser?  
Why do I feel this way? Because in most cases there is no one size fits all to anything - supplements, religion, spirituality, politics, diet, etc. What works for one person may not work for another - and that's okay. What works one day for someone may not work another day - and that's okay too.  
So back to the original question - supplements or no supplements? For me, my answer is some days I don't take any supplements, but some days I add supplements. Why? Lots of reasons - just to be safe, to bridge any gaps I may have missed recently, to boost all the nutrients I already get through my food choices, to boost my immune system, to stay ahead of my auto-immune disorders. The list goes on and on.  
Of course eating a variety of whole foods is best, and for those who do choose to add supplements, the next question would be which supplements? My goodness the barrage of health crazes, not to mention the companies that jump on the band wagon to create more "miracles" is utterly confusing. Which supplements is a good question, and again, one that won't have a one size fits all answer because it will depend on lots of things - what is wrong in the body, what are we lacking, how do we react to certain supplements, are there side effects, how is the product made, is the product ethically sources, are there unnecessarily added ingredients, what's our budget, how many supplements are too many? 
Personally I believe that we shouldn't rely solely on a supplement(s) for our wellness. We need to be active in our health. From my own journey I've learned that I can't sit back and put unhealthy things into or onto my body day in and day out, not be physically active, and then pop some supplements/medications and think all is well.  
Our bodies are incredible machines, they try like heck to keep us balanced. When we notice things going astray, they didn't just happen overnight - this was years, probably even decades, in the making. This is why it only stands to reason that getting well will take some time, patience and persistence.

So once again, I'm back to the question - to supplement or not? If your answer right now is not - then you're done, but don't think you can't ever come back to this question in the future if you want. For those of us who decide to supplement, with so much confusing information and competing brands we need to go back to the bottom line of... what am I looking to help (fatigue, inflammation, headaches, etc)? Okay, next? Asking ourselves some simple questions may help in leading us to what we are looking for, without wanting to rip our hair out in frustration:
1. What monthly budget am I comfortable with?
2. What am I physically comfortable with (swallowing pills, using sublingual - under the tongue, adding powders to smoothie or other drink)?
3. How many do I want to keep track of?
4. How often do I want to take them (daily, twice a week, monthly, etc.)?
5. What do I want in a brand?
Let's take an example case here of a narrowed down list...
Bottom line = I want to reduce inflammation
1. My monthly budget = $40
2. I am physically comfortable with = sublingual or power added to smoothie
3. I am okay with keeping track of = up to three supplements
4. I am good with = daily, otherwise I'll forget
5. I want = simple ingredients, free of added chemicals, ethically sourced 
Products I love that fit my list and combat inflammation and, as a bonus, fatigue...
A.) Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Powder - 16 oz. bottle lasts about 5 months (based on one person)/average cost is $30.99 = $6.20 per month
B.) Spectrums Vegan Omega - 60 ct. bottle lasts about two months (for one person)/average cost is $19.99 = $10 per month (*if interested in why not fish oil you can email me - brightfromtheheart@gmail.com)
C.) Gaia's Mushrooms + Herbs Everyday Immune - 60 ct. bottle lasts about two months (for one person)/average cost is $20.89 = $10.50 per month (I open the capsule, add the powder to my smoothie and discard the capsule)
Considering the serving size of these three supplements that I consider my go-to's, they fit well within my monthly budget. Some days I don't add any supplements, and sometimes I'll throw in other supplements here and there if I've gotten them on sale or had a coupon, but these are my favorites that I find help to support me.  
The important thing to remember when doing anything new is to pay attention to YOU! Do you notice something is offering healing to you in a positive way physically, mentally and emotionally? We don't want to take something that hides symptoms because the symptoms are our body's way of saying "hey! something is wrong here!" When we mask symptoms with medications the problem is still there, we need to focus on getting to the source of the symptom(s) and healing it. The other factor to consider is that we don't want to take something that makes one symptom better, while making something else worse (that's the revolving door of taking endless amounts of medicines, whether they be conventional or holistic).
I know it's hard not to feel overwhelmed with information out there. I know it's scary to decide where to begin. So just begin with your bottom line question... what am I looking to help in my body today? In addition to increasing the daily amount of whole foods, and being active, supplements can have a place in your life to help get to the root of what you want to heal.  
As always, good luck in whatever you decide is right for you.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Jack What?

When our family was transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, almost a decade ago, the options were just beginning to expand.  As more and more people are recognizing the importance of food, and how 80% of our health is directly linked to how and what we are eating, the exploration of plant-based meals has exploded.  People are getting more creative in finding ways to make, not just delicious, but healthy, meals that remind us of foods we had growing up.

For me, with all of the auto-immune disorders impacting us it's important to feed my family and myself things that will heal us from the inside out.  This isn't to say we don't have treats or some grab-n-go items.  What it means is that it is done in moderation, and with healthier ingredients.  We've learned along the way that just because someone looks fit on the outside, that is no guarantee as to what is happening inside.

I completely understand how overwhelming incorporating more plant-based meals can seem, especially when we are bombarded with myths, commercials, and well intentioned - but often greatly uneducated when it comes to nutrition - family, friends, or family doctors.  So what is someone to do who is considering transitioning from an omnivore lifestyle to a more herbivore lifestyle?

Well, let's start with just a few...
  • You do not have to do it all at once, take it one step at a time.  
  • You do not have to "give things up".  Instead, think of it as swapping things out.  Like yogurt?  Great, keep eating yogurt, only swap out the cow or goat based for coconut, almond, cashew or soy based brands.  Like ice cream?  Me too!  Swap out your favorite Breyer's cow based flavor for the almond milk based Breyer's Oreo or vanilla peanut butter flavors.  *There are lots of substitutions for just about everything, so if you don't like the first one you try, try another brand.  
  • You do not have to do it alone.  Find a Certified Health Coach that specialized in plant-based health (like me!) to support, encourage, hold you accountable, and give you recommendations.  
  • You do not have to eat faux meats that are so processed it's just as unhealthy as eating a TV dinner.  Try using more brands that use whole ingredients such as Dr. Praeger's or Carla Lee's, or create your own "meats" using a mixture of lentils, nuts, seeds, veggies, beans, etc.  And this leads me to my latest experiment... jackfruit.  
Jack what?  Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that when young has the ability to shred, much like pork.  It doesn't really have much flavor on it's own, but then again, meats don't either ;).  Just as is done with most meals, spices or sauces come in to assist in adding wonderful flavors to the textures we're creating.

I've used pre-made bbq jackfruit in the past, but it was too spicy for me (because I'm a wimp when it comes to spice).   I was super excited to see Trader Joe's had green jackfruit in brine.  Yay!  Now I could experiment without the hassle of buying the ginormous jackfruit from the grocery store.  Maybe one day I'll experiment with a whole jackfruit, but that day isn't today, so I'll stick to the young green jackfruit in a can.  

I wasn't really sure what to do, and I thought I would just wing it and see what the family thinks.  I also wanted to amp up the filling factor so I decided I would add beans to the experiment as well.  The result = happy faces, tastebuds and bellies.  

30 Minutes or less BBQ Jackfruit

3 c. (approximately) veggie broth (I like Imagine or Rapunzel brand)
1 small onion, chopped
1 organic yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 - 14 oz. cans green jackfruit in brine (not in syrup) (BPA free can - my favorite is Native Forest)
16 oz. can organic tri-colored beans  (BPA free can - I used Kroger's Simple Truth Brand)
12 oz. jar Annie's Naturals Organic Original BBQ sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

1.  Preheat large skillet over medium high heat.
2.  Drain bean, rinse, place in bowl and coarsely mash - set aside.
3.  Drain jackfruit, rinse, cut into smaller pieces length wise - set aside.
4.  Add 1/2 c. broth to skillet then add onion, pepper and garlic, saute about 5 minutes, or until tender - add another 1/2 c. broth if needed.
5.  Add jackfruit and remaining broth, cover, cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until jackfruit is becoming very tender.
6.  Add beans, using a potato masher, mash mixture so jackfruit starts to shred.
7.  Once all jackfruit is shredded, add BBQ sauce, turn burner to medium or medium low, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes - making sure the sauce doesn't start to burn.

*Serve on a bun, as a dip, in a wrap, or mixed with noodles - the possibilities are endless, and delicious!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Peachy Pink Smoothie

I really enjoy green smoothies, but I also like to play with color so sometimes I'll create purple, cream, or orange smoothies.  This day I decided on my favorite color...pink.

Now I don't always use supplements in my smoothies, but they are such an easy way to boost the nutrition value of a smoothie, so if I have them on hand I use them.  It's important to note that I do not in any way recommend using supplements in place of whole foods, but rather as way to compliment all the healthy foods and things already in place.

mise en place = everything in place
My favorite supplements are Spirulina Powder by Pure Hawaiian (Spirulina greatly boosts the overall vitamin, mineral and amino acid intake to the body, seriously - it contains so many you'll need to look it up), but since I was aiming for pink this one got left out today, Chaga by Mushroom Science (Chaga is an immune booster and one of the highest anti-oxidant containing foods, BIG cancer fighter), Astragalus by Solaray (Astragalus is an adaptogen, meaning it adapts to support the body wherever it is needed, slows tumor growth, supports heart health, boosts immune system, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, regulates/prevents diabetes), and Maca Powder by Navitas (Maca is a butterscotch tasting root that increases physical and mental endurance, increases libido, improves skin health, balances hormones, helps mood).  *The chaga and astragalus come in capsules so I just pull it apart, pour in the powder and throw away the capsule.  

A great prep step to create thick, creamy, and beautifully colored smoothies anytime you like is to make fresh juice ice cubes.  Pick a day to set up the juicer.  Have several ice cube trays with lids ready (or use plastic wrap and freezer bags to put them in once full).  You can use one cup and rinse out between colors, or use several small jars to catch the fresh juice in.  Pick vibrant fruit and veggies, doing one whole batch at a time.  Once the jar is full, pour liquid into ice cube trays, cover tightly and place into the freezer until you're ready to use them.  *This also makes for great natural dyes when baking.  If using for baking you would allow an ice cube to thaw - voila! - you have your pretty dyes ready to color frostings, cakes, muffins or cookies.  Some of my favorite juice cubes to have on hand for making colorful creations are beets = reds and pink, blueberries or red cabbage = purples, carrots = orange,  etc.  This really doesn't take much time, it all depends on how much produce you want to juice, and how many different colors you're doing.  

I also like to keep homemade almond milk on hand for smoothies, overnight oats, chia pudding, etc.  This is not necessary, I just prefer the taste so much more than store bought milks.  If interested you can find the recipe here.  

On to the recipe...

Peachy Pink Smoothie: (Serves 1, approx. 16-20 oz.)


1 cup homemade almond milk (or any nondairy regular or unsweetened milk of choice)
1 astragalus capsule (discard capsule)
2 chaga capsules (discard capsule)
1 tsp. maca powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
Pinch of ground vanilla (or dash of pure vanilla extract)
1 Tbsp. organic peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter of choice)
1-2 beet juice cubes (keep frozen, do not thaw)
1 frozen banana (should already have been peeled prior to freezing)
1 cup organic peach slices

1.  Place ingredients into high speed blender in order listed.  
2.  Blend until smooth and creamy (depending on blender strength, you may have to stop and scrape down sides, then blend again).  
3.  Place in nice glass, bowl or jar to serve.  
Optional - sprinkle with extra cinnamon, hemp seeds, chopped nuts, etc.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

108 Sun Salutations... My Way

For years I have seen events pop up around New Years or the change of season for "New You" events, in particular - 108 Sun Salutations, honestly the thought of it has always intriqued me.  I am in fairly good health, but I am in my 40's, and through being more aware of my body notice when I may have overdone things.  It's for this very reason why I have never actually attempted it.  I know, I'm sure these events most likely allow people to go at their own pace, do their own salutation version, and even suggest people stop when needed, but I still just wasn't ready to give it a go.

This year was no different, as New Years rolled around I was getting all kinds of notifications for "New You" kind of events, I think I may even have used that wording myself in the past.  While I, and others, who may have used the "New You" language meant no harm or judgement, that wording got me thinking.  I have taken a long time, utilized many tools, and am still learning to love...me, as I am.  Sure, there are adjustments that I can make to improve my health and relationships, but the me I am is good, and I don't want to be new, I'll save new for my next life ;).   Just because I've come to the realization that I like me, doesn't mean I should sit back and not be an active participant in my life, that just doesn't feel healthy or positive for where I am in my life.  Alright, so what can I do to keep working on creating a more positive me?  You know, pushing myself when needed, but also being wise enough to know when that is enough.

Well, this brings me back to the idea of 108 Sun Salutations.  First, let me say that salutations can just simply be a way to move the body.  Getting the heart pumping, blood flowing, lymph moving, muscles awakening is urgently important to do on a consistent basis.   Personally, I use salutations on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.  For me, the sun should be honored, not as a god, but as the energetic entity that it is. When I think about how important the sun is for my and my family's health, happiness, and the planet, how can I not feel immense gratitude towards it?  Sun and/or moon salutations are a movement of action that conveys connection between that energy and myself.  Reaching my arms up towards the sky is liberating for my soul, it's like reaching out to another and saying hi, or giving them a hug.  By allowing my body to then flow downwards doesn't mean I'm worshipping, rather it's a way to show a tremendous amount of gratitude.  Let's face it, if the sun and moon didn't exist, neither would we.  Life is sustained on this planet because of them, so I don't want to belittle their significance.

The thought of doing so many salutations in a row is also appealing to me because it means that I am committing to something.  Commitment, and the follow through of commitment, can be powerful driving forces in personal shifts.  However, that same thought of doing that many in a row left me wondering - would I feel bad if I didn't finish? would I force myself to the end in spite of what my body might be saying?  would I cause physical suffering in order to avoid mental/emotional suffering?  While I contemplated these thoughts, I knew one thing for sure, that this year I really felt drawn to committing to 108 Sun Salutations.  The more I thought about, and how I have been working so hard at being authentic to myself and others, I knew my 108 Sun Salutations weren't going to be like I've seen on social media.  And I felt super okay with this, the problem was that I still wasn't quiet sure what it would look like.

At times I like to push myself, as this is helpful in my growth, but I knew darn well that if I attempted 108 at once there was no way I would be getting out of bed for the next few days.  I didn't want that, I didn't want to feel such an accomplishment to then only feel horrible afterwards, my body didn't deserve that!  So, Tiffany, what was the plan?  And why 108?  The number 108 has a ton of references, from astrology to physiology to religion/faith (Hindu, Buddhism, Christian) to subtle anatomy, and I can't remember exactly where I read this version, but it's by far my favorite...
1 = Higher Power, something greater than ourselves
0 = Unity, connection to all things
8 = Infinity, we are eternal

Now that we have the significance of 108 mentally noted, what did my 108 Sun Salutations look like?  I came up with a plan that allowed me to make a commitment AND honor my physical body.  Here's what it looked like...

  • Beginning on a Sunday, I started my 108 Sun Salutation journey.
  • Each day, for six days, I did 18 rounds of Sun Salutation A.  
  • Each day, before I began, I would center and warm up/stretch.
  • Each day, while I was practicing my 18 rounds, I would stay present in each movement.
  • Each day, after I completed my 18 rounds, I would pause/center/meditate, gently stretch.
  • Each day, after I was done, I would rub, or soak, my body in rosemary essential oil.  
By the end of the sixth day, I felt thrilled that I reached my goal, got to practice something I had been thinking about for awhile, and that I took care of myself doing it.  This was my plan, there are many options for how to accomplish 108 Sun Salutations if it's something you might want to try, and there are many versions of salutations that can be utilized.  If doing 108 at once works for you then go for it, but if it doesn't, allow the opportunity to still experience it, just going about it a different way.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

So What The $#%& Am I?

I feel like I've always been someone who asks lots of questions, deep in thought provoking ideas - just ask those close to me, they are all too familiar with my relentlessness in questioning things.  As the years keep ticking by I find myself continuously veering this way and that in many areas, but I hear that's good, it's okay, and part of "the process".  What does that even mean?

Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed with all of the areas I have to be concerned with throughout my life.  I mean, physical health, emotional health, mental health, and spiritual health.  Geesh!  And if that isn't enough, then I have to worry about offending someone if my way isn't their way, I find this particularly true in the spiritual health arena.  Then there are moments where I may have been living one way, decide to re-adjust that, and choose another way instead.  Stop the presses when that happens, those that were on "your side" in one set of views will throw you to the wolves if you decide to change.

Again, here come my questions.  Why?  For example, why care if I was raised Catholic, then followed Buddhism, then Wicca, but still reference the bibles teachings?

Wait, pause, let's rewind.  I was raised Catholic since infancy, baptized in the Catholic church, went to private catholic schools my entire life (up until college that is, then I opted for public education), continuing - married in the Catholic church, all our children also baptized Catholic, went to service every single Sunday, and on all those special holidays, even once married we hulled the kiddos with us each weekend. This continued well into my 30's.  Then, for some reason, I get an epiphany.  Somehow, I get a glimpse of something else, another way of thinking.  I start observing my own life, and those around me.  I see how we all go to church each weekend, but then live abhorrently throughout the week, as if that one day in church magically removes all the bad behavoir the other six days?!  Uh oh, I feel walls being built, anger building, resentment towards the church, and those who played the part only one day a week.  No more uttering the word God, or Angels, I opted for a more general term - Universe.  Oh my stars, I don't know what I believe anymore!

So, I started exploring Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism.  Whoa!  This is different, but has some familiar grounds.  Like, we should treat each other with respect, dispense more love and compassion, realize there is something greater than ourselves, etc.  Huh!  There are other beliefs that may align with how I feel.  Then walks in this Wicca thing.  What?! I thought all that was devil, and evilness, we better not talk about this in public or people will think we're Satan worshippers.  Oh, Wicca is about using nature to heal?  What the ---, but I was sure I was taught to fear other ways.  Here we go again, why?  Why twist things into something they're not?  Why does it matter if I want to use essential oils, like the ancient "witches", to heal myself and my family?  Doesn't everything essentially come back to having origins from nature?  I mean, where does everything we eat, drink, wear, etc. come from - thin air?  I don't understand....

See, my mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.  How can I process all of this, and what the hell do I put on those damn papers as to what my religious belief is?  Goodness gracious, the pressure!  I decided that I would continue learning, in all areas, trying to keep an open mind and heart, particularly if it was something unfamiliar.  

What I now understand is that I don't have to box myself into one way of anything.  I now see that I don't have to try to please everyone, and at times I will certainly disappoint some, myself included.  However, I no longer have to fear what others may think, that's their own process.  Oh, and about that... I get it, process really equals journey.  Our journey in this life is never-ending and I'm okay with that because it means I'm still here! And, as long as I am here, I'll keep exploring, learning, and hopefully positively growing.  As I journey you can be darn sure that I will share what I'm learning, because that's how it works - we share, sharing = opening the door for others who may not have known that door existed, or who were too fearful to try and open it.  Sharing doesn't mean you have to follow what I do, just as I don't have to follow what you share or do, but it means putting down the walls we build around our safe little worlds, and truly opening ourselves to new possibilities of growth.  

It was through my own shift that I was able to release those walls, anger and resentment towards others that I felt weren't "living the talk".  All those walls, anger and resentment did was cause me to act like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, and I was taking it out on God and the Angels, when I was really angered by the people around me, and with myself.  I went years without saying those two very important words - God and Angels.  Thankfully, through my determination to continue learning, I crossed paths with information about Anthony William (Medical Medium). With an open mind and heart I ordered his first book, more curious than anything to see what he was about.  I mean, he's only trying to offer positive things, so what do I have to lose?  Wow!  I was blown away, and since I already recognized how healing or harmful foods can be, I knew there was something to this Anthony William.  At first some things felt uncomfortable, like talking to specific Angels, you know those walls can feel deceivingly comfortable at times.  The thing is, the more I did it, the more it just felt right.  Not trying to sound cliche, but there was this warmth, like a hug.  I am truly grateful for Antony's sharing, but for me it's not just about the words that Anthony, or anyone for that matter, say.  It's more about how things make me feel, and I mean how I feel on every level - physically, mentally, emotionally, and definitely spiritually.  

I completely get it now, that spirituality doesn't have to be linked to any one religion, or any religion at all.  I know this because words don't define spirituality, it's something that has to be experienced, and that has to happen within, and it's a unique occurrence for everyone.  Spirituality belongs to each and every one of us, how we go about it doesn't need to be the focus.   I also have grown to see that spirituality can be linked to everything, from the foods we eat to the thoughts we think, therefore affecting our physical, mental, and emotional journey as well.  Through this past decade of my life it has become clear that my learning will never stop. I will continue to grow, shift, and change.  I may not believe in what you believe or follow, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends, or that we can't learn from each other, or that we can't respect and love one another.   

So, the real question now is - what will I mark on papers that ask for religious preference?  I guess it would have to be ALL, because there are bits from each that have taught me valuable lessons.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tiny Living Experiment Update

Just how tiny can a family go?  I guess that's an individual question, with lots of factors that could determine numerous answers.  For our family + several animals (and I mean MANY), after 44 days of our tiny living experiment, we now have a better understanding of how much downsizing works for us at this time.

Where we stood at the 30 day mark...

  • Ken - never actually moved into the studio space with all of us, he would come visit us daily though - I guess we knew where he stood with it from the beginning.   
  • Our middle child - lasted about 21 days, then she decided 500 sq. ft. is just too small for this many bodies, and moved back into the main house with her dad.  
  • Our eldest - has her own place (and thanking her lucky starts for that!), visited seldom, and would pretty much start to have an anxiety attack when in the small studio space.
  • Our youngest - content with the whole process, and mad at big sis for moving back into the main house.  
  • Me - fine with continuing the experiment with our youngest.  
  • Kitties - still loving it!
  • Pups - still wanted more space.
My younger two and I were leaving soon to visit family, so I made the executive decision to move all three pups back over to the main house. The cats were even more thrilled with the pups gone, and loved having my little one and I all to themselves to cuddle with.   I may have shell shocked my husband though, because I'm pretty sure he was getting quite comfortable with his quiet house and ample leg room in the bed.  With wide eyes he asked what was going on, I assured him it was best and would make it easier for him to care for the pups while we were out of town ;).  After 21 years of marriage, I don't think he was buying it.  

This left just my youngest, three cats, and myself at the studio.  During the day we were all at the main house (minus the cats), and in the evening our youngest and I slept at the studio.  The time came for our trip, while we were gone Ken and our oldest cared for all the fur babies.  Our middle decided to stay with family for a month (homeschooling perks), and it was back home for Gigi and I.  Once we returned home, I felt we needed to be back in the main house with the pups, who are generally glued to me 24/7.  

Where we stand today...

  • The pups - absolutely happier in more space.
  • Kitties  - love tiny living, but want to be where we are.  
  • Ken - wishing we would all move back over to the studio, particularly when Ohio State is on TV :).  
  • Me - realize tiny living has its positives and negatives, and that 500 sq. ft. is challenging when there is more than 2 beings involved.  
  • The girls - in general I think they're happy we tried it, and now understand there's more to tiny living to consider if you want to remain sane.  
  • Our oldest - since being back from our trip, has already been over more than she was during the entire experiment.  
In conclusion...
  • Our house is still for sale (hint, hint).  
  • We are willing to downsize to about 1600 sq. ft.
  • We MUST have outdoor living space.  
  • The kitties will be moved back to the main house after Thanksgiving.