Are you a River or a Pond? Why I Decided to Blog

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I will never forget the day I heard the parable, as I call it, of the river and the pond. It changed my approach to life. Have you heard it?

A pond is stagnant. No inlet or outlet. It sits, still and pretty. And can become a pit of pond scum and bacteria, rendering it unsafe to consume or be in.

A river flows. It has a beginning and an end…a destination. It moves constantly over rocks and branches and its bed, weaving its way to an endpoint to join a larger body of water. That keeps it churning, fresh, and healthier than a pond.

I thought about my life as the parable asked me to do. What was I doing with all I was learning as a stay-at-homeschooling-mama? I taught Bible studies or Sunday School occasionally. I even preached once a year or so (because my husband has an engaging smile and demeanor and I can’t say no to him, haha). But I love learning so I  read a lot and wrote, and studied and kept most of that to myself. I spent years seeking out information on living a full, abundant life as a woman of God in the 2000s.

So along came this blog. I’ve graduated two children and they’re off in college and the work world. I think they’re great and they still want to be around me and ask my advice from time to time. 😉 And I have one at home for two more years who is light years ahead of me in most of his work. But hey, he’s great at tech support and making me laugh and teaching me about higher math and making me think. So I decided I had time to share my life with the “blog world.”

I have no idea if anything I share helps. You’ll find lots of different types of information along the way in my eclectic blogging. But it’s all geared to share and learn and not become stagnant. And the focus is to be women who, at the end of our lives, look back and say, “That was a life well-lived.”

So that’s why I have a hobby blog. No affiliate links as I’m not making any money off of things I share. If that ever changes, you’ll be the first to know. I do add links to other blogs and websites I think you might enjoy and who I give credit to for things but that’s about it. The rest of the information is my “thinking out loud” and hoping you can learn from my life. And as you comment and share with me,  I can learn from yours.

And you take anything you learn from me, as I will, and share it. Let’s give one another rivers of encouragement throughout the ebb and flow of our lives. And channel hope to others.

Thanks for reading, fellow river woman. Go live life well.

My Top Tip for Summer Body Confidence

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Summer time! Shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits…and lots of photoshopped images of body perfection. Well, forget that. I’m all about whole-body health, and that starts in the mind!

Or does it? There is tons of information out there these days about “positive self-talk,” “loving yourself,”  and “embracing your flaws.” But this isn’t easy to do and takes lots of time. In the meantime, life goes by and we realize we’ve been too uncomfortable to put on the bathing suit, put on the shorts, and enjoy life outdoors.

So today, I’m giving you my very best tip. It is easy, quick, and doesn’t take any type of thinking or mind-blowing change. It’s self-tanner!

Seriously, this was a game-changer. I have tried tons of them and will tell you, from a 52-year-old’s persepective, that it really does improve the appearance of any cellulite. spider veins, bumps or lumps. And that in itself helps you to be more confident.

Okay, ladies here is my current favorite. There are many that last a long time and are much more expensive. But this is my budget-friendly tanning confidence in a nutshell.

Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizerdownload

I seriously love this stuff! I didn’t believe that it would work. You take a bath or shower, put some on and rub it in, pat yourself dry with a towel and get dressed. That’s it. It doesn’t have tons of that nasty self-tanner smell and is gradual and natural. I have used it daily or every other day all summer long. My husband even asked if I’d been out in the sun tanning myself (as a melanoma survivor my answer was a resounding no, as he hoped).

Clients|AlmayAlmay Healthy Glow Makeup plus Self Tanner with SPF 20

This stuff is really good. It looks natural and gives me more of a CC cream type coverage. Not too thick, not too little. Goldilocks perfection here. 😉 It is thick and can be a bit difficult to deal with since it ALSO contains sunscreen. I love multitasking products. I use an inexpensive foundation brush and also prepare my skin with a few drops of Rosehip oil (which is a favorite moisturizer of mine~a tip I learned from my friend Lisa Pentony of Pilates by Lisa. I put it on daily and my skin looks like it has a nice, subtle tan.

downloadSt Tropez Gradual Self Tanner with Bronze Tint

This stuff is fantastic. It works overnight, dries quickly, and contains self-tint that helps you not have streaks. It also lasts several days, meaning you don’t have to reapply as often as the Jergens. That said, it’s pricey at around $30 a bottle. I ‘ve not bought it yet but would DEFINITELY do so. It would be fabulous to use before a big event or vacation so you don’t have to deal with daily maintenance.

 

And, shout out to Ipsy! My $10 a month Glam Bag subscription contained the Wet Moisturizer Sample and the St Tropez so it was a great way to try those out.  If you’re interested in checking out Ipsy, here is the link: Ipsy. 

Do you use self-tanner? What are your quick and easy tips to feel good about yourself during the summer? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

Overnight Oats Meet Smoothie Bowl

Okay, true confession: I want to be an oatmeal girl. I pin overnight oats recipes and I try them. I search for steel cut oats recipes you make in the in the slow cooker overnight. I add in all kinds of fruits or spices and scour recipes…but I just love smoothies and smoothie bowls. Oatmeal isn’t my thing.

Until now. The other day I saw a recipe on Pinterest for an oat smoothie bowl. The bowl itself was simple (the recipe was more about the homemade granola topping), so I took it, tweaked it, tried it, and LOVED it. It starts with an overnight oat base and is a game changer. Overnight Oats and a smoothie bowl? Yes, please!

So I am sharing my recipe. Feel free to play around with it. And be sure to tell me how it goes if you try it out.

Overnight Oats Green Goodness Smoothie Bowl

Overnight Oats:

  1. 1/3 cup rolled oats 
  2. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  3. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  5. Pinch of salt

Combine and let sit overnight.

Smoothie Bowl

  1. Overnight oats mixture 
  2. 1 or 2 frozen bananas
  3. 1 tablespoon peanut butter or nut butter
  4. 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional. My favorite is Designer Whey Vanilla Almond)
  5. 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  6. Large handful of greens(I used a mixture of spinach and kale)

      Ice as needed, depending on the texture you prefer.

Whirl away and top with fruit, granola, etc. Mine had fresh Rainer cherries and Bear Naked granola. I often make my own granola but haven’t since we moved.
Do you like overnight oats? Share your favorite recipes with me.

No, Mary, I Didn’t Know! The Need to Slow Down and Think

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Hang with me today if you’re not a Jesus person. I am, and a total Bible Study nerd, so that colors my perspective and my worldview. But tucked away in the Bible, in a book called Luke, there are a couple of verses that have the power to help women live life well. I promise not to get preachy, so let’s dig in!

The story is about the birth of Jesus. Mary has been really pregnant, riding on a donkey for days (for which she deserves heaps of credit. Trust me, as a woman who has  given birth three times, when I say that I could not have done that!) She had the baby in a cave and no one was there to help except her husband. But, a group of shepherds showed up and told her angels appeared announcing Jesus’ birth. They were so excited that they ran to see this baby and his mother.

Right after that is the little sentence I want to think about: “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.”

Treasured all these things. Always thought about them. Some Bibles say “Pondered” them. It’s sort of like a cow, ruminating with it’s food. Digesting, re-digesting. Pulling all the nutrition it can out of that food. This is what Mary did.

Today is so fast paced and busy. Life is complex and we’re told to multitask, think fast, eat fast, go, go, go. We often have no time to breathe, let alone think or take care of ourselves. But, what if that’s not the way to live? What if we as women are hardwired with a need to think, treasure, reflect? What if we really can live the type of life we want by DOING less and PONDERING more?

For me, this translates into doing something I don’t like: Going to bed earlier. A total night owl, I still go to bed earlier (this took training) so I can get up and begin my day in quiet. I roll out my Pilates mat and move, I make a smoothie or smoothie bowl,  I drink my water, and I slow down and study my Bible. I journal. I think.

What could pondering look like for you? Would it be a “first thing?” Or, would your pondering be better when the baby sleeps, or at night, when everyone is in bed?

So today, I’m thankful for the story of Mary. Of the reminder to BREATHE deeply, think deeply, and treasure my life in my heart. And I want to encourage you to carve out some time to do the same for yourself.

The Nike Slogan, or “Just Do It”

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When it comes to exercise, we all have excuses. I don’t know how, what will I do, what if I get hurt, I don’t have time…I’ve heard them all and honestly it perplexed me for years. Exercise is like brushing my teeth. I feel so much better and it is just one of the most pleasant parts of my day that I couldn’t relate to these thoughts.

Now mind you, I never SAID that to anyone. I just smiled, listened, and nodded sympathetically. Following my husband in his pastoral ministry for 22 years means that I’ve learned the sympathetic ear, nod, and diplomacy pretty well. 😉 Okay, those are actually pretty much parts of my personality too. 😀

Then things changed for me. My husband transitioned out of full-time ministry MUCH earlier than we expected. And not as we had hoped. It was one of those “thank you for your service here are your options” type of situations. I have a daughter going into her sophomore year of college, a son who is pretty much independent from us (but who we help with things occasionally), and another son who is 17 and has two years of high school left. HOMESCHOOL, people.Which means a mom at home, right?

My husband and I made the decision for me to seek part-time employment to supplement things while he decides what he will do next. So now I’ve been looking for jobs with a 23 year gap in my employment history on my resume.

So what does all this have to do with exercise? Fear. What if I can’t find work, how do I start, where do I look, what if I get rejected, fail, etc? Suddenly, I get the fear of exercise! All the things I feel about job hunting are what you may feel about moving your body.

So what have I done? The Nike slogan has been mine lately: Just Do It. I have had rejections, yes. Some leads, yes. Some opportunities, yes. Some I don’t like, others I do. But nothing would have happened if I hadn’t first reached out to people, told them my situation, asked for advice and then done something.

So today, do something to change things. Lace up your shoes and take a walk for 10 minutes. Research a type of exercise you’ve always wanted to try. Ask a friend to go to a class with you. Admit the fear, and feel it.

Then be brave and do it anyway.

 

Fast Food 101

Work  has run late. The kids are cranky…or you are cranky, even though you have no kids! You just want to go home and eat, but there is no energy left to fix a thing. So you hit the fast food trail and consume your Big Mac with a huge sense of guilt.

Well, there is another way. I have few items that are always on hand for me so that I can have food ready in a flash. (I also have an obsession with my Slow Cooker and Instant Pot, but that will have to be another post sometime).

Items to always have on hand:

  1. Canned Beans
  2. Rice or Quinoa
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Lettuce
  5. Crushed tomatoes
  6. Produce
  7. Eggs

I promise you that you can throw together a quick meal if you have these items on hand.  Here are a few of my favorite “fast food” alternatives.

Beans and Rice-can it get any simpler? There is even microwaveable rice ready in 90 seconds. I like to make a batch on the weekend to have on hand. I add in beans, salsa, any leftover meat, etc. Ready in a flash.

Eggs or Omelets-bear with me as it gets a bit odd, but I love having a scrambled egg on a bed of lettuce with other veggies thrown in. It sounds strange but try it and let me know what you think.

Food Bowl~food bowls are all the rage now. You throw in some protein, some complex carbohydrates, and some veggies and you have a quick, complete meal. I will steam broccoli, cook a white potato or sweet potato in the microwave (or throw vegetables in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, for about 20-30 minutes), and add in beans or any other leftover meat that is in my fridge. I sometimes top with a sauce(being a southern USA gal BBQ is a favorite, although I like tahini dressings, too) and sometimes just drizzle with a bit of lemon juice. So good.

Pasta-I don’t eat much pasta as I’m gluten free (mostly) due to a mild wheat reaction(I get a stuffy nose, go figure). But I love spiralizing zucchini and pouring a bit of pasta sauce over it! I also put pasta sauce on my baked potato or brown rice. The quickest pasta sauce in the world is opening a can of crushed tomatoes and adding some Italian seasoning and a bit of olive oil and heating it. My kids say it needs a bit of sugar as they are used to pasta sauces with added sugar, but I like it as is. Heck, they even sell crushed tomatoes with the Italian seasoning already in there.

Kitchen Sink Salad-pretty self-explanatory. You get some greens and clean out your fridge, adding in any protein, fruit, veggies, and a complex carb(yes, I add in rice or quinoa sometimes to my salads) and have a great, quick meal.

Those are a few of my go-to quick and easy recipes for nights when life gets in the way of cooking. What are some of your favorite meals, tips, and tricks for crazy evenings?  Let me know.

 

 

 

Digging Out


It’s real. Moving Day was two days ago and chaos still reigns. So I wanted to share a few tips for digging out of the boxes before leaving the moving posts behind.

  1. The bedroom is priority number one. Make sure you know where your sheets are and your bed is set up. Sleep trumps everything else.
  2. The bathroom comes next. This trip was pretty funny because our house had no shower rods! (We are renting before buying). So at 10 pm we were buying shower rods. Taking a shower felt amazing after a long day.
  3. The kitchen is important. Unless you want to spend a lot of money and eat tons of unhealthy fast food, rip open your kitchen boxes and get the pans out! Even if you end up moving things around later, eating well will help you power through busy days of unboxing, re-arranging, and settling in.

Coming later this week: Some of my favorite healthy “fast food” you can make when you are short on time.

Moving On: Re-setting Your Course

Recently my husband came home in a panic: his iPhone would not turn on. It had 68 percent battery life and even plugging it into a charger didn’t work. Since the phone is only about two years old, he did not want to buy a new one. My daughter took his phone and did a “hard reset” by holding the on/off button and home button together for ten seconds. The phone came on and has been working fine since. 

After a move, you will need a re-set. You can expect to be out of sorts,  lost, and frazzled. Longing for the familiar while excited about the new. I have found there are three things that I have to do each time I experience a transition.

  1. EXPERIENCE  You will have feelings of sadness, regret, nostalgia, or anger-and probably all of the above-about your old home or town. This will be true even if this move is for the happiest of reasons. You need to let yourself be present and feel all the emotions. One thing that helps me is walking through my empty house, room by room, and saying goodbye. I remember events, laughter, good and bad times, and shed a few tears. I let myself cry and laugh as needed after the move, too.  Feelings are powerful so work through them.
  2. EXPLORE  By all means, explore the new town, but my real meaning here is all the possibilities for a new beginning for yourself. Are there new rituals you would like to establish?  A new exercise you want to try(hmm, maybe Pilates)? 😉 New type work, a different hobby(hey, why not blog!), foods, etc? The possibilities are endless. Make a list and get started. Moving creates a perfect opportunity for newness.
  3. ENGAGE  Reach out and meet new people. Try new restaurants or foods, and new experiences. My favorite places to meet people are church, homeschool groups, and fitness centers, but there are many places you can do this. And don’t forget to engage with your friends from former home. With email, cell phones, and social media, keeping in touch is easier than ever. 

I hope my moving series has given you some ideas. Even if you are “moving on” from a job, relationship, etc. these tips can help. One resource I highly recommend is After the Boxes Are Unpacked  by Susan Miller. Though written from a Christian perspective, this is the single best resource I have found on women and moving. It’s still helpful if you don’t subscribe to the Christian religion. 

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. And I would love your feedback on my blog or suggestions for things you  would like to see me write about or feature. 

Moving On: Reaching out

I looked around at the mess before me. No matter that I had three children  aged 13, 11, 9 at the time. No matter that my husband was working over fifty hours a week, and packing his office, and going out of town for his ministry job.And forget the fact that I had no family within 100 miles. Oh-and throw in two dogs and three cats and I was pushed to my limit trying to pack and clean the house on my own. 

Just then my phone rang and my friend Rene simply said,” I am on my way over with food, packing tape, and cleaning supplies.” And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

We can’t move well without help. We need one another! If you neglect relationships , you will be carrying far more than furniture and clothes to your next home. You will carry anger, resentment, pain, and other unwanted stowaways. 

Here are a few things I have learned along the way that have helped me. I hope you find something useful for dealing with your move.

  1. Keep a list  A list of things that you need help with, items needed, etc. If a friend or family member asks how they can help, look at your list and let them.
  2. Reach out to others  Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you or recommend someone to you. During one move, I found a fabulous woman who professionally cleaned my house for $50 simply by asking others for  suggestions. That was worth its weight in gold. 
  3. Have a friend or two you can call on for emotional support  This is a toughie for me because of moving so much. But I have a few friends I have known for  many years from online homeschool and exercise groups. We email and text and lift one another up. It’s a true blessing.
  4. Communicate  If we aren’t honest with friends and family, things build up and we end up yelling over running out of bubble wrap. 😉 Talk and listen…a lot. 
  5. Accept invitations or issue some yourself  It’s so easy to think you are too busy to go to dinner, a party, etc. Saying goodbye is vital to moving on after you have moved out

The last of the Moving On  series will look at what to do after you move and the dust settles. In the meantime, leave me you comments and suggestions for keeping your relationships strong during moving and stressful times. 

Moving On Part 2: Recharging Your Batteries

I love the word rejuvenation. It’s a fancy way of saying, “make sure you refresh and recharge yourself.” I think of this like a rechargeable battery. When the batteries get low in something, especially if that something is a TV remote, crankiness ensues. 😉 So you take the batteries out, place them in the charger, and let them get fill back up to optimum level.  The same is true for people, especially when the stress of life and moving is added in.
I discussed rest first because it is the foundation for recharging in many ways. That’s because keeping up your energy for moving tasks means you must care for your body mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

I want to highlight two parts of recharging yourself physically: Food and Fitness.

Hear me out. Being super busy often means putting your personal care in last place. We often end up running out for fast food, grabbing snacks from vending machines, going out for goodbye meals or parties, and drinking lots of sugary drinks for energy and caffeine. But doing that leads to big crashes.  Then you end up being someone who is more of a HARM than a HELP to your family and friends who are trying to help. Trust me on this one.

Which do you want to be: HARM-ful (Hungry, Angry, Resentful, Melancholy) or HELPful(Hopeful, Energetic, Long-lasting, Prepared)? Yeah, me too!

So here are a few quick tips regarding food and fitness I’ve learned the hard way that are now non-negotiable during a move. I hope they help you in dealing with stress, moves, or just living a busy life.

FOOD

  1. Water  Go ahead and get a bottle out and make sure you are drinking regularly. During the day prior to the move and the few days after, I splurge on store-bought water bottles so there are no excuses and no one gets dehydrated and cranky.
  2. Snacks  Make sure you have plenty of healthy things to grab on hand. Moving can cause you to put off eating and then get ravenous. Fruit, nuts, nut butters, veggies, and yogurt are easy to pack and save you from grabbing a candy bar or wasting time running out to the Golden Arches.  On moving day have a cooler of food handy at all times.
  3. Rule of Three  I make sure every meal or snack I put in my mouth contains a mix of carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein. An apple with almond butter will sustain you far longer than an apple alone.  It’s a good rule to practice in daily life and makes food and food preparation simple and tasty.
  4. Limit Caffeine  This is a toughie but in the long run, one coffee per day is far better than sucking down tons of soda and coffee. Plus, the extra sugar will make you feel really tired. I have been there and done that.

 

FITNESS

Here is my 10-10-10 exercise plan that is non-negotiable for stressful, busy times. I promise you that if you expend some energy exercising, you will actually gain more energy.  It doesn’t make sense but just try it and see.

  1. Ten Minute Walk   Get out of the house! Go outside and walk. Vent, cry, express gratitude, or just be silent. This change of pace, scenery, and energy will make you feel so much better and your focus to tasks at hand will be sharper.
  2. Ten Minutes of Pilates  There is a reason I practice Pilates: it moves the body as it’s supposed to move and keeps me from excessive injury and strain. If it’s not your thing fine…but commit to ten minutes of your favorite movement.
  3. Ten Minutes of Stretching  While unwinding before bed, in front of the TV, or some other time, stretch your muscles. They will feel better and the stretching will bring you energy as you take the time to focus and breathe.
  4. Bonus: Ten Minute Break  Every hour, refocus for ten minutes or so. Stretch, walk, read, chat, etc. You need to change what you’re doing so you can come back to if feeling re-energized.

 

What are your tips and tricks to deal with a move, busyness, and stress? Let me know as I’d love to learn from you. If you try any of my tips be sure to tell me how they work for you.