Believe In Fresh Starts And New Beginnings

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Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

– George Bernard Shaw

Only two days after arriving in Georgia, I was giddy with excitement. We found ourselves walking around in amazement at Avalon in Alpharetta. Honey child!! I was flippin’ happier than a pig in… Well, you know the saying.

Avalon is a “luxury” residential community built in the heart of an eclectic outdoor shopping plaza. Resting atop Gap and other stores are brick and modern stucco condos with wrought iron enclosed balconies. At a different stage in my life, I could see myself living here.

Public shopping areas are litter free and have the ambiance of urban living but without the hassles of city life.

Plenty of diverse eateries offer indoor and outdoor dining and are conveniently located throughout the shopping center. I feel like an advertisement for the plaza, but I’m trying to give you a sense of what the place feels like.

Anyways, the need for a change of address stationery motivated me to visit Paper Source. PS, a small, cute, and fun store specializes in stationery but also sells cards, wedding invitations, inspirational books, customized items, DIY supplies, and more.

Habitually I am attracted to books, mainly positive, self-help, and inspirational reads. I’m always working on myself, so if someone has gems to share, I want in!

So here’s the interesting piece and the purpose for this post. A force leads me to the store. Then my eyes lock in on the book, believe.

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I have to tell you, with a title like believe, there’s no way in hell that I’m not going to snatch the book up and take a peek.

Although I did not look at the first page, I quickly scan and immediately recognize that the book was placed right there for me.

I realized that at that very moment, I stood exactly where I was supposed to be. I am 100% satisfied.  How did I know?

Whelp. Read the first page that I turned to?

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See! I told you!!

As I said to you in an earlier post, we have to LISTEN very carefully to the voice of the spirit. Messages from the universe and (God) is always timely.

Over the past year, I made a myriad of changes in my life and, in the newness of my current situation, God wanted me to know that I am on track, rest easy, and to continue to move forward.

Becoming more transparent in my writing is a goal, so to keep it 100% with you, I’m telling you straight up that I rarely attend Sunday services. However, I believe in the spirit of God and a higher universal power.

If you feel stuck in adversity, consider the fact that, you are reading this post at this precise moment, and this is no accident.  Today you were intentionally guided to reading this post.

Believe in fresh starts and new beginnings and understand that only you can launch the change in your personal and/or professional life that you desire. The day I started this post, my cousin’s facebook status read,

“If you want your life changed, you have to change your lifestyle.” CS

You initiate the change by working only on YOU not by working those around you. My advice is the following:

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit alone, even if it is only for 10-15 minutes. Do this every day. Your designated quiet time can be in the morning, afternoon, or bedtime. What is important is that the time works for you.
  • Withdrawing from all of the external noises frequently will provide an opportunity for you to clear your mind.


Image courtesy of Project Happiness

  • Familiarize yourself with meditation. Meditation requires no major tools or supplies. Some find that certain items such as a blanket, a block, a pillow, candles, or incense are helpful.  Nora Anderson describes meditation as a process as a “concept to stop the mental dialogue so that you can be without thought.”
    • Why meditation? Meditation can relieve stress, calm the mind, reduce anxiety, burnout, improve productivity, and more. Be open-minded and try it. Like everything, it takes practice. At first, your mind will wander all over.  Thoughts of the day’s task will come to mind, and you will have thoughts about your pets, your kids, work, dinner or something else. Just know that all of your random thoughts are normal.
    • There are also many guided meditations apps to assist you.
      • My two favorites are:
    • I have been using the Relax & Rest app for a while. It may cost $1.99 or something similar. The Calm app is new to me, but I love the variety of audio and visuals.
      • I like the apps because once downloaded on your Smartphone, you can discreetly use them anywhere at anytime. Keep a set of earbuds handy.
      • Stressed before a meeting… Got your feathers ruffled at work or you’re stuck in a traffic jam…. tap on the app and do a quick 10-minute session. It is an ideal way to gain clarity and to refocus your thoughts.   No matter who you are, everyone experiences moments of frustration, disgruntlement or irritability but the trick is to have a plan/routine/system to get you back on track.
  • Once you begin to create a space of solitude for yourself, you will start to gain clarity and can focus on setting new goals. To monitor your thoughts, keep a small journal or notebook nearby.   You will have many, and you’ll want to capture them all on paper. Of course, you can always use an app to organize your thoughts. I recently starting using Trello and I love it. If you are confused about the app, go to YouTube, and you will find all the help you need. I use Trello for personal and professional purposes.

Okay! I have gotten a little off track but felt like I needed to give you that information. I hope that it helps you to grow and to continue to work toward becoming the absolute best version of yourself.

Thanks for passing through!

Peace!

Here Is What I Found In My Bottled Water!

This tall glass of water looks refreshing, right?

Well, it’s not.  Pardon my language but it’s bullshit!   Don’t be hoodwinked by the appearance of anything.

If I come across as annoyed.  I am.

One sip and I knew I screwed up.  Big time!  Sweeter than fruit juice.  Like really disgusting.   The artificial sweetener left a repugnant after taste. It was late in the evening and I was upstairs in the bedroom all ready to chill, but that didn’t stop me from racing downstairs half naked to examine the label.

If you are new to Lexa’s Journal, about two months ago, I moved over 700 miles away from what has been home to me for 50 years.  I’m becoming acquainted with the grocery stores in my new home town. Successfully finding my favorite brands is tricky. The store didn’t have my favorite brand, so I settled (too quickly) on the store brand.

I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses.  Too quickly scanning the label resulted in a major faux pas.  I mistakenly saw all zeros under the Nutritional Facts, so I missed the 10mg of sodium (per serving).

Four (4) servings per bottle are 40mg of sodium!

Water should NOT contain sodium. But that’s not what literally irked me.  Keep reading.


What freaked me out was the list of ingredients.   The content is supposed to be water!! Ha!!

Nine ingredients in a bottle of flavored water is unacceptable!!

Gimmie a break!  By the way, it’s peach flavored.  Do you see peaches anywhere in the ingredient list?  Nope!  Ugh!!

  1. Carbonated Water
  2. Citric Acid
  3. Malic Acid
  4. Potassium Citrate
  5. Potassium Benzoate (Preservative)
  6. Sucralose
  7. Acesulfame Potassium
  8. Natural Flavor
  9. Neotame

Most of the ingredients are additives that enhance the flavor.  It’s the flavor of Sucralose that set off my taste buds’ bells and whistles!!   Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. Search the net and you will find plenty of articles debating the facts and opinions about the safety and risk of artificial sweeteners. I’m not interested.

I don’t want any forms of artificial sweeteners in anything I consume, especially my water.  So if I can’t find my receipts to return the muck, I’ll take the loss and trash the remaining three bottles.

Sometimes late evening (after dinner), I enjoy sipping sparkling water from a large wine glass.  It’s a mental thing (substitute for wine) but it works for me.

Below is the label from the brand of sparkling water that I usually drink. Look at the difference in the labels. There are only two ingredients and… there is no sodium in the water. Of course, the “natural flavor” isn’t defined but I’ll still take this over nasty muck with nine ingredients.

The point of this post is to encourage you to stay diligent; read the both the nutritional and ingredient labels.  Oh and, if you wear reading glasses, carry them with you.

When you eliminate specific elements from your diet and you unknowingly consume it, in most cases, you will know.  You will either taste it or, if you pay close attention, you will notice that your body will adversely respond.  You may experience bloating, an upset stomach, a headache or something else.  In my situation, the strong and phony taste of sugar captured my attention.

To anyone in the path of a hurricane or who have already been impacted by one, I’m praying for you all.  Stay safe.

Peace and love.

 

 

 

How To Cook Two Meals In Two Hours

Today, between 3 O’clock this afternoon and 5 p.m., I danced around to my favorite tunes.

While dancing, I took to the kitchen and cooked two meals.  One for my family (hubby, our 14-year-old son, and G’mom Dynamite) and one for me.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that cooking doesn’t have to boring, laborious, or time-consuming.  The hardest task is deciding what to cook and how much time you want to spend cooking.

Cooking is fun but I don’t like complicated recipes that require major prepping and using expensive and exotic ingredients that I probably won’t use on a regular basis.

So what’s the deal for dinner?   …something for them that included meat and a meatless dinner for me.

I decided on mozzarella chicken sausage for them.  I’m not crazy about buying the pre-cooked stuff so to balance the meal out, I decided to add an abundance of colorful and nutritious veggies to the dish.

 

 

I sautéed one red and one orange pepper, one jalapeno pepper and one large sweet onion in olive oil.  To be honest with you, I really wanted to hog the veggies for myself but I know I needed to add them to the meat.  The meat by itself…  was not an option.

In another pan, I sautéed the chopped chicken sausage, then added the veggie blend, chopped tomatoes, and finally the fresh baby-leaf spinach.

After adding the spinach, I stirred the ingredients together for about five minutes; then turned the heat off.  Oh my gosh!  Look how beautiful this dish is.

So, what else was cooking?  Since I wanted a meatless meal, I cooked brown rice with turmeric for me.  Earlier in the day, I tossed one onion, two jalapeno peppers, ginger, black-eyed peas, and vegetable broth in the crock pot.  I also seasoned the peas with garlic powder, Himalayan salt, and black pepper. I cooked the BEP on high for five hours.

My cousin stopped by and sampled the… I’ll call it…  Mozzarella chicken sausage and veggie dish.  Instead of eating the bow tie pasta that I made for my family, she tried a little of it over the rice and gave it two thumbs up.

This plate is G’mom Dynamite’s plate.  She enjoyed the kale (yay, more veggies) with the sausage over the bow-tie pasta.  She also sampled the black-eyed peas.  🙂

 

My son and hubby enjoyed the dish without the black-eyed peas.

 

Leftover black-eyed peas

 

Finally!  Here’s my meatless meal.  Home made black-eyed peas over brown rick with turmeric and a side of kale.

Dinner is served and everyone is happy!!  Except for the crock pot dish, everything was cooked in under two hours and… I also burned more calories while dancing and cooking.

For the readers who don’t like cooking, trust me, you can do this!

Thanks for stopping by and remember…. Keep it moving!

Smooches!

 

 

…Moving Mom To Georgia

Man I have to tell you guys, today is the mother of all days!!  It’s monumental!  For real!  

As I write this post, I’m ridding in the front seat of a rental with two very special passengers in the back seat.

My mother.  

My aunt Miriam.  

What makes this day super duper special is that we’re headed to the Ronald Regan International Airport in DC with these two loves.  

And… drum roll…. Ba bam!!   We’re flying to our new home in Grayson, GA!   Yes child!!  My mother is leaving South Jersey to become a Georgia Peach. This is another one of those pinch me moments.  My aunt and God-Mother decided to accompany my mother with the big move and also to hang out with us for a bit.  Auntie will also have the opportunity to see another sister, who moved to Georgia two months ago. 🙂 We’ve got a little reunion going on. Heeey!  They’re all in their 80’s!  Lord knows, our family has been blessed. 

I’m going to do my best to show auntie the best time ever. For selfish reasons, I also want her to make the move permanently.  She’s retired, is gracefully aging, so living closer to family and a warmer climate will be an added perk. She can spend more time having fun and less time managing the demands of a home.  

When hubby and I decided to move, we gave my mother the option to move with us now or to move later.  She pondered for a brief time and opted to move sooner. NEVER in a million years did I think she would leave the garden state, especially with two of her sisters still living there.  

I think the deciding factor was losing her sister and partner and crime, Annie last year.  My mother, aunts Annie, Miriam and Barbara did everything together and I mean everything. Last July Annie suddenly died.  The family was heart-broken.  The spunkiest of the crew, often thought of as the Golden Girls, left us and we didn’t get to say good-bye.  

Thankfully we have a plethora and a lifetime of fond memories to keep our hearts full of joy and laughter.

Anyways, I think Annie’s passing made mother’s decision easier. 

If you follow my blog, you know that last month hubby and I, along with our son made the big move to Georgia. We waited to move mom because we wanted to get her bedroom and the guest room in order.

Later tonight we arrive home. They are in for a nice surprise!  :). I can’t wait for them to see their rooms. Mom’s room, which is more like a suite, has a small walk-in closet and her own bathroom, is located on the first floor. No more steps for her!! Her bed, which we moved from Jersey, is croweded with all of her favorite stuffed animals and dolls.  Yay!  She no longer has to wait for her teenaged grandson to finish primping in the bathroom. Heeey!!  I’m snappin’ my fingers on this one!  

Auntie’s room also has a private bathroom and a small walk-in closet.  We bought a beautiful new bed and decorated the room with soft-gray’s and cream colors. Hanging word art reads, You are loved, and a lucky succulent plant gives her private bathroom a spa-like feeling.  My heart.  We hope that she loves it so much, that she will want to move permanently.   Cross your fingers for us. Pretty please!!  

I don’t make light of this move for my mother because changing environments is difficult for most people. However, moving in your 80’s to an unfamiliar place has to be more difficult and that is why we let her make the choice.  

She is not a people person nor does she like traveling or eating in restaurants, all of which makes this move significant. But– she’s going willinging, so we’re trying to make the move as pleasaureable as possible.  Although her tough exterior and stern disposition won’t permit her to admit that she is nervous, we know that flying with her sister makes the transition less taxing.  

The last time the sisters boarded an airplane was about five years ago for a siblings going home service.  I’m delighted that this trip is for more plesaureable reasons.  

We are a little over two hours from the airport and the chatter front the backseat is all good.  :).  I want to join in on the conversation, so I’ll end this post now and focus on this rare occasion.  :). 

Smooches!!

Try this quick and healthy dish

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Now that I am retired, and although I am not quite settled,  you can expect to hear more from me more than you ever did in the past. Yay!

I want to share my lessons with you and to improve my writing. One way to get better is to write more frequently.

Sleeping past 4:30 a.m., my old morning ritual, is doing my mind, body, and spirit well.

After the gym, I felt a strong urge to whip up a nutritious meal in the kitchen.  Of course, my new kitchen is fabulous and enhances my cooking experience. I thank God every day.

If you keep vegetables in the fridge, you can always put together a fast meal.  Even if you think you can’t cook, I betcha that you can do this!! 

When I opened the fridge, I did not know what I was going to cook.  That said, check this out…

Mushrooms, sweet onions, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, crushed red peppers, and olive oil sautéed in a pan.


My new and simple toy. A George Foreman grill.


Unseasoned natural turkey patties. I buy them when they are on sale and keep them in the freezer.

Since I am shopping in a new community and at new grocery stores– Kroger and Publix, I am feeling my way through the aisles, looking for healthy food items at the best prices.


I recommend buying meat unseasoned because you can control the amount of sodium and other ingredients.  Here I sprinkled freshly ground pepper, a dash of sea salt and a little Cheyenne pepper.


I planned to make a kale salad, so I had a bunch of kale already cleaned in the fridge. I grabbed two handfuls and tossed them in a pan with onions. Sprinkled with the same seasoning, except the Cheyenne pepper, they cooked for less than 10 minutes.


Finished product- two turkey patties smothered with mushrooms and Vidalia onions (no gravy, sauce or additional condiments needed), next to freshly sautéed kale.

There is no way possible that you can convince me that you can’t cook this. Give it a try and please tell me how you made out.

Besides this dish is an ideal post-workout meal, it’s an easy meal prep idea, as well as dinner.  I could take this turkey patty to a new level but the idea was to be simple.

If you don’t eat turkey, sub with beef or seafood. If you’re a vegan, have the mushrooms over quinoa.  There are always options, the main idea is to put your creative hat on and have fun.  Cooking shouldn’t be serious.

After lunch, I unpacked more boxes.

As I write this from my cell phone, I’m getting a much-needed pedicure. My feet are tired.

I worked legs this morning at the gym and the hardwood floors at home make the bottom of my feet and ankles hurt.  I recovered a few years ago from a severe case of plantar fasciitis. I should not be walking barefoot on hard surfaces but I am a woman with island roots so I love to walk barefoot!  Hahah! But no more. Tomorrow I’m buying footwear that is it strictly to wear at home.

To Hear, To Heed, and To Act

It was one week ago Saturday that I moved about 650 miles from the Jersey Shore to North East Georgia. The Jersey Shore is located in Atlantic County, New Jersey.  I lived in Atlantic County my entire life!  This move is huge!!  Bona-fide big! Bigger than any move in my lifetime.

Some family, a few friends, and many colleagues are asking, what the????  Lol!!  For many, the move was unexpected.

Last year this time, we did not think that in 2017, we would be living in Georgia.

I am spiritual. I believe that God, the Universe, or whomever you may believe in, speaks to us, but we must exist in a state of being, to hear, to heed, and to act on the messages.

For about a year, hubby and I talked about the possibility of selling our beautiful home of 14 years.  Our lovely home hosted dozens of holiday dinners, super bowl parties, New Years Eve parties, and other special events. Nicknamed, The Resort, by my friends because of the fantastic “get-away” feel, no one ever expected us to sell.

Due to the slow real estate market, we assumed our home would take close to a year to sell.  We listened to a nagging impulse (God’s message) to put the house on the market.

We did.  

And it sold.

Quickly!

Our home was placed on the market later in afternoon on a Tuesday.  We weren’t in a hurry to put a For Sale sign out front but the house was listed online.  The following day a buyer looked at our home at around 11 a.m.

They loved our home!

Placed a full offer.

The rest is history!

Nine months later and after a rewarding 29-year career in public safety, hubby reluctantly and abruptly retired. Long story short, the state gave him and others little choice.  Another unplanned change. Lol!

About a year and a half prior, we looked at post retirement homes in different states but honestly, we didn’t make or foresee any changes in the near future.

One state, in particular, felt like home. Georgia. Although hundreds of miles away, it had the feel of the Garden State.  An abundance of blooming trees and flowers; just like home.

On one visit, we fell in love with a home and decided to place an offer.  Our offer was accepted and we were stunned…but elated!!   Lol!

We believed and understood that a higher power was at work and acceptance of the offer (by the builder) meant that the house was designated for us by God.

Although hubby retired, my intentions were to continue working for the school district. But then something happened.

Somewhere and somehow a conversation started about me retiring and us just packing up and getting the he** out of NJ.  It was divine intervention. While I had 15 years in with the board of education, I thought I’d be there longer.

Oh well.  Our son was finishing eighth grade.  Ideally, this was the perfect time to move. The best time to move a teenager is before they start high school.  

Tomorrow isn’t promised.  Last year several family members died.  Four years from now could look different and the opportunity to make the move may not exist. Life is too short to delay distinct opportunities. 

All of the energy, God’s voice, the whispers, and the signs said to move.  So we did.  🙂
Now here’s where you really need to pay attention.

“They” fall into the category of naysayers, haters, frienemies, jealous types, etc…  they started throwing questions and negative comments at me.  “Can you afford to retire?”  “How old are you?”  “Are you old enough to retire and collect?”  “Where will you find a job?”  “Do you know what you’re doing?” “You’re leaving a good paying job.”  “They don’t pay well down south!”

OMG!!  The dumb shit that people say to you when you’re doing what they wish they had the courage to do is amazing!!!

Only YOU know what is best for YOU.  Don’t allow people who don’t have your best interest at heart to dissuade you from making important life decisions. 

All the cliche sounding quotes about change and fear are true.  And there are many….

For me, this move was about shifting to a slower gear and to simplify my life.  

Have less.

Do more.

Live purposefully.

Live authentically.

Live happily.

This process of moving to a new state has taught me to continue to trust in myself, trust my husband, and more importantly, trust in God, for he has the master plan and he knows best.

If you do not believe in God, it’s okay, I don’t judge.  🙂  There is energy in our universe.  If you listen to the whispers in your ear or the voices in your head they will guide you to precisely where you are supposed to be.

The ancient proverb that things happen for a reason is true.  At 52 years-old, I have dozens of personal stories to prove this doctrine.  

Move forward with flexibility and be open to change. A future post will provide helpful moving tips… stay tuned.

“Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” (AMP)    –Proverbs 19:20

My move hasn’t gone 100% as planned but it has come pretty darn close to it as possible. The other day I was asked, how am I adjusting.

Well.  

I feel at home. I’m living in a new home with a new zeal, which was intentional.

I didn’t want to try and recreate my Jersey Shore vibe in the Peach state.  Instead, I’m starting with a clean slate and with amenity.  None knows me and I love it!  

The Cherry Blossom and Crape Myrtle trees are plentiful.

The southern hospitality is a refreshing change.  

Many of the same stores are here but I do miss Wawa.  

I no longer have a rigid schedule and wake up without an alarm clock.

It’s hot as hell and I love it! I despise the cold and had to tolerate it for nearly 52 years.  

My 14-year-old is wearing the biggest damn smile that I’ve seen in a long time.

Life is good.  I am overflowing with gratitude because I am fabulously blessed.  

Most days, I say, “pinch me!”  I’m loving life!! 

What’s next?  To enjoy each day, to give back to the community, and to allow God’s wisdom to guide me in this next chapter.

Smooches and thanks for stopping by!

Have a fabulous day!  🙂