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!

Singing… “It’s Our Anniversary!”

Books of all genres are published yearly and in various sizes.  Some books are small with a few chapters while other novels are written with over 700 pages. Novels can be captivating, heartfelt, insightful, emotional, adventurous, and enchanting; the list is endless. I can use many of the same words to describe the many chapters of our 34 year relationship.

anniver1Today we celebrate 29 years of being best friends, husband, and wife.  I don’t take the years lightly because when marrying at a young age, the odds for a happy and long-lasting marriage are stacked against you. I purposely use the word “happy” because a lot of couples are married and even for long periods of time, but they are unhappy.  Think about it.  How many times have you heard of marriages of 20 years long, ending in divorce?

Two years ago, I wrote Happily Hitched For 27 Years.  I listed 27 lessons that I learned from our marriage.  Last year, I added to the list and blogged Happy 28th Anniversary Us.   Yet I continue to learn new lessons. If you are in a relationship, married or have intentions of marrying, you should read my posts and share my lessons with your family and friends. I wish somebody had a told me these things beforehand.  Sure, we all make mistakes but some lessons can be learned from the mistakes of others.

As we celebrate our 29th anniversary, we are humbled and grateful that we are merely here to celebrate as one.

This time last year, I could have never predicted where we are today. 🙂

This month, we begin a new and exciting chapter of our life.  Hubby retired and I am on his heels– less than two weeks but who’s counting?  Lol! We put our beautiful home, our friends called “The Resort,” up for sale and it sold within 24 hours. Yikes!!A later post will provide more details.

My point now is to say that the strength of any relationship comes from having faith in one another and commitment to the values established the relationship.  Mutually Inclusive in the values are trust and honesty; which are the makings of any good relationship.

I’m told how “lucky” I am because I have a “good man.”  Well, he’s lucky too, because he has a “good woman.”  ☺

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.” -Dave Ramsey

Outsiders only see the fruits of the labor in the garden.  They never witnessed the sowing of the soil or the grueling work of kneeling in dirt pulling weeds for extended periods of time in the blazing heat.

In our case, some folk only see the homes, the cars, the vacations, and other stuff that really doesn’t matter. We are rich in health, love, family and loyal friends, but not one of those have anything to do with money.  We work like everyone else.

For 11 years and while working a full-time job,  I worked on my undergraduate degree. Hubby was supportive, encouraging, and picked up the slack at home.  Back then, vacations weren’t in our vocabulary. Someone once told me that I was “crazy for stressing myself out trying to get my degree.”   But… this same person didn’t hesitate to enjoy a margarita in the jacuzzi.  Smh…   They are no longer in my life.

Much earlier in our relationship, when hubby did not rank high enough on the fire department’s civil service list and wasn’t hired, he was crushed.  I stood behind him and pushed him to train and to study harder.  He may have doubted himself but I believed in his childhood dream of a career as a firefighter.  We wanted our own place but realized that we couldn’t afford it, so I lived at home and he lived with his sister.

When we decided to buy our first home (early 90’s), we needed to save a lot of money. We both worked full-time jobs and part-time jobs.  We never ate out.  We stopped buying snacks at Wawa (convenient stores in Jersey).  We only bought necessities. I remember wearing a nice pair of black pumps to work. The bottom sole was worn and there was a small hole in the bottom of the shoe.

I put cardboard inside my shoe so my foot wouldn’t be exposed to the ground.

Our jobs weren’t high paying but we sacrificed and worked our asses off.  In one year’s time, we exceed our goal of saving $7,000 and saved just over $10,000!

These are only a few of many examples of the sacrifices we’ve made and examples of how hard we worked for our family.

I didn’t sit back and expect him to do for me and he didn’t sit back and wait for me do everything.

Let me tell you, the grass always looks greener on the other side but you don’t know what folks are doing to keep that green and plush grass.  So as one of my favorite podcasters says, Keep your eyes on your own paper!”

We’ve both dealt with colleagues and/or so-called friends trying to entice us to cheat and that becomes messy.  Some couples rebound from infidelity while others do not.  It’s just not worth the agony that comes with it.

Marriage is a full time job.  Add kids to the mix and the job is even harder but we made it thus far!  🙂

We’re busy as hell right now but will reap the benefits of our labor later this month and as the year progresses.

Today we’ll celebrate by going out to dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, reflect on the past 29 years and pray for 29 more happy and healthy years.

Happy Anniversary to us!!

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Early 90’s

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Hubby’s 20th High School Reunion

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When Procrastination Is Good

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in
the field ofyour bliss, and they open the doors to you.  I say,
follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t
have opened for anyone else.

-Joseph Campbell

I assessed the pros and cons of my decision.  Before making the critical determination, I carefully scrutinized the advantages, the disadvantages, the expected and unexpected, and everything in between.  I made a choice, but emotionally my heart uttered that I was mistaken.

The tug of war between logic and emotion is a compelling and dynamic relationship.  Logic has its validity but so does emotion.  Sometimes I think feelings are underrated. Some research suggests that “individuals who experienced more intense feelings achieved higher decision-making performance.”  Hmm..

You’re probably wondering what I’m rambling about and where am I going with this.

Whelp, I’ll tell you exactly what this post is all about…  My chatter is about grad school.  To take the next class or not.

The last semester was no doubt the most challenging ever. Working full-time, caring for the home, partaking in our son’s activities, and being present in our marriage was laborious.

During the eight-week course, I second-guessed myself daily.  Self-sabotage!!   Did I belong in the class? Did I have what it took to pass the class?  Was I smart enough? Suffocating in doubt and uncertainty, I agonized but pushed through it.  The final exam was the breaking point.  I thought… no, I knew for certain that I’d bomb the course, but I did not. I received a 90 on my final and passed the course with a B-.  Whew!!

In the fall, I registered for the Spring 2017 semester but later realized that due to unexpected events, I should probably drop the course(s) until summer ’17.  I was trying to think realistically about handling a heavy workload.

I prolonged dropping the course until the final day of drop/add. Who’d believe that procrastination can be good?

On the final day to drop without a financial obligation, I logged in to my school’s site, pulled up the classes, placed an “X” in the boxes, and reached to set my pinky on the enter button and froze.

I couldn’t bring myself to finish the withdrawl and press the enter button.

Questioning myself again, I pondered, will this class be as challenging and time-consuming?  With new undertakings, will I have too much on my plate? I still could not bring myself to drop any of the classes.  I texted four people who are close to me.  Three of the four, including my husband responded.  Their feedback helped.

I have momentum and drive; it is not the time to ease off the gas and delay progress.

My hunger and thirst for this program make my heart flutter. Simply talking about the program sends goose bumps along my arms.

The work is demanding and challenging, but that’s where the growth emerges.  Finally, I’ve become quite comfortable with the sentiment of feeling uncomfortable.  In strength training, you lift to failure; then you lift again.  It is only through the discomfort of breaking down (tearing) the muscles and feeling sore, along with proper nutrition that we become stronger and develop muscle growth.

On the other side of this struggle awaits unexplored ventures and unknown opportunities.

Because I procrastinated, I did NOT drop my spring classes!!  Hallelujah!!

This post is a friendly reminder for me and for you to stay encouraged in whatever it is we set out to do.  Self-doubt is normal but pushing through the doubt is the exception.  Many people succumb to fear and to doubt and give up on their dreams.  They spend their life wondering, what if?  Please don’t give up. Keep pushing and keep it moving. Failure means success and beats the what if’s any day.  I’m delighted that I procrastinate!  I know that I made the best decision as I continue to follow my bliss. 🙂

Here’s to a new semester, to new challenges,  and to new opportunities in 2017! By the way, if you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe to Lexa’s Journal. Thank you!

Happy New Year!

Smooches!

 

 

Slow Your Roll


In our busy lives, we often race from one activity to another. I too am guilty of that; however, I make it a habit on my work days to get up early- before sunrise, before anyone is up in my home.  When the house is quite, I have the pleasure of  enjoying the amazing sounds of the birds singing.

Getting up early allows me to move slowly and freely throughout the house but also to take the time to observe the beauty of sunrise, birds flying and singing, and other amazing insects and creatures moving about. 

Earlier this morning, I found this cutie (baby frog) sleeping on the window pane next to the front door.  It’s such an odd place–up off the ground and by the front door handle– I just had to capture him sleeping. 🙂


Please slow down and take the time to enjoy the beauty of each day!

Happy Monday!  

Smooches! 🙂 

Why I Stopped Eating Poultry: It’s Not What You Think

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Jason Silva

 

One insignificant decision, good or bad, can alter the course of one’s life forever. The changes occur like a domino effect. One domino tilts forward causing a forward motion and for as long at another lie ahead, the movement is continuous.

 The “domino effect” is a great metaphor for how we choose to live. I say “choose” because the action is voluntary. Throughout our life, we can opt to remain unchanged and hold on to our conceptual beliefs, moral convictions, and unwavering attitudes or we can decide to open our mind and open our heart to the unknown.  For me, the later is working its magic!

Four days remain for me to finish reading, The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons.  A goal for 2016 was to seek more education, so I chose (there’s that word again) to work on a Master’s degree.  Monday ended my first class and the second course starts in four days.  Simmons book is a quick read.  I enjoy his style of writing. He is practical and deliberate and precise.

I am reading the book because I need clarity on what it means to be a vegetarian.

My domino effect goes like this.

In 2014, I competed in my first figure competition. The training took my already wholesome diet to a more sophisticated level of eating clean (insert link). Building muscle mass requires more than throwing up weights.  Depending on your fitness goal, increasing muscle mass requires eating significant amounts of protein.  Because I don’t eat red meat (since 1994), my go to was poultry and seafood.

Toward the later part of 2015, I was getting tired of eating chicken and turkey.  Thoughts about giving up both on a regular basis occasionally plagued my brain, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up the likes of homemade turkey burgers and turkey chili.

January 2016 rolls around, and without doing much research, I take the plunge.  I decide to give up the chicken and turkey and go with more seafood and more plant-based protein.

I was consistent until February 7th, SuperBowl 2016.  The weekend was busy and for the first time in a month, I failed to plan— I was stuck for meal prep.  In a haste and, in spite of my goal, I bought chicken breast.  For the next two weeks, I ate chicken.  Then something happened.

The unexpected.

The hot flashes returned!

HOTFLASH

HOT FLASH!

 

For most of 2015, I experienced hot flashes from hell!  From deep within, an insane and intense radiating heat ignited then spread to every part of my body extending to my scalp. I’d look like someone threw a pot of water in my face.  By 8:30 in the morning my clothes were sweat-stained. As sad as it was, I don’t believe in hormone replacement therapy or any types of medication.

I was just going to adjust my wardrobe and deal with shit.  Since the summer was only a few months away, I could dress half-naked when needed.

By the end of January, I noticed less frequency-almost no hot flashes, but I did not make an immediate connection.  The ah-ha moment was after Superbowl weekend when I started eating chicken breast again.  The hot flashes returned with venom.  They increased in frequency and in intensity.

How on earth could chicken breast affect my hot flashes??  I searched online for a connection between chicken and hot flashes.  Nada!  Zilch!  I could not find a connection.  Furthermore, I was buying Lancaster County Poultry from a nearby Farmers Market. “Lancaster County has the highest density of organic farms in Pennsylvania and one of the highest in the country.” Their chickens are said to be all natural, free of growth hormones, pesticides, and fed a vegetarian diet.

The effects may be a coincidence, my body is rejecting the meat, or perhaps something that is in the chicken.  I don’t know.  The fact is that currently and since I stopped eating poultry, the only time I sweat profusely is during a workout. When the intense summer heat arrives, I will see what happens.

Also, when I get more time, I plan to read, Eat Right 4 Your Type. The premise of the book is that not all foods are suitable for all blood types and based on one’s “genetic code” and “characteristics,” they are predisposed to certain illnesses. It is an interesting theory that I will certainly explore.

Okay I know, I got off track.

After two weeks (February 21, 2016), I returned to plant based, and seafood as my protein source and the intense and unbearable hot flashes have almost entirely disappeared.  I no longer walk around looking like someone threw a bucket of water in my face.

Is this a coincidence?  I don’t know.  Only time will tell, so for now, I chose to stay away from poultry.

More of the domino effect.

Two and half months have passed. Since I stopped eating chicken, turkey, and pork, which I never ate much of, I decided to continue eating hard-boiled eggs, omelets and scrambled eggs.

One problem!

At work one day, while eating my hard-boiled eggs, I started gagging and was so confused. I managed to eat three but tossed the fourth egg and have not eaten a hard-boiled egg since.

After the boiled egg incident, I tried an omelet but added about one and a half cups of Tuscan kale.  I was okay with that and wolfed it down.

So for now, no more hard boiled eggs.

All of the diet changes have led me to consider eliminating all animal-based foods from my diet but I need clarity.

Does that mean I will be a vegan, vegetarian, or something else?  Hmmm… Heck at this point, I don’t even know what to call myself. Not that I need a label, I am just curious.

Low and behold I found http://www.vegsoc.org.    The Vegetarian Society, who defines a vegetarian as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses (what’s that?), nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

Pulses are beans and lentils. 🙂

This definition may be debatable for some; I was curious from hearing people declare themselves as “vegan” or “vegetarian.”  At this point, rather than get hung up on a label; I am proceeding slowly. As I sort through the particulars of plant-based protein sources and diets, I will continue my diet without the poultry and eat seafood as needed and continue to educate myself on meatless meals.  Plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein.

My fitness plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein. I need to continue researching and find out what will work for me.  I believe there is no cookie-cutter approach to diet (lifestyle) and nutrition.  What works for one does not work for all; therefore, I have lots of tweaking to do.

Are you vegan? Are you a vegetarian or another identify with another label?  Are you a bodybuilder or gym rat who lives on a plant-based diet?  If so, I need you.  Please comment and share your experience or advice.

Thanks for stopping by and make it a great day!

Adjust Or Go A Bust

“Remain flexible and teachable so that you can make necessary
adjustments in life.”
Mz Liz

Adjust 

[uhjuhst]

  1. to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate
  2. to put in good working order; regulate; bring to a proper state or position

 

Today marks the end of my third week of grad school. Whew!!  Adding reading assignments, papers, and projects to my already busy schedule is a challenge– challenging but not impossible.

This weekend is about adjusting.  I am making the new addition to my routine fit.  I am adapting my weekly routine.  I am accommodating new tasks.  I am deleting some things from routine (less social networking time) and putting others (my son’s tutoring, basketball, etc..) in order.

Accomplishing anything good in life required adjustment.

If you can’t adjust, you will certainly a bust!    -tfc

Sunday is my meal prep but last week did not work too well, so I had to adjust my routine.

I moved the majority of my shopping day on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to Friday evening. The change frees me up for Sunday.

The second major adjustment is my cooking day. To free up more time to read and to write, I moved cooking from Sunday to Saturday afternoon… umm… I just looked at the clock.  The “afternoon?”  I started cooking at around 5:30 p.m…. the current time is 8:33 p.m., but it is done.  In between cleaning up the kitchen, letting the food cool down, and putting items away, I’m snapping pictures.  🙂

What’s cooking?  A hodgepodge of quick dishes for me and my peeps. The only menu items left to cook are veggies and I’m working on those.   I don’t have enough time to write recipes and all, but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s happening in my kitchen.

 

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash… it is quick and easy to prepare.


mexican quinoa

Mexican Quinoa is a hit with hubby, is loaded with protein, so it works.


black rice

This black rice will pair nicely with the black-eyed peas.


black eyed peas

My first attempt ever at meatless black-eyed peas.  I add extra goodies like garlic, jalapenos, and substituted water with vegetable broth, so the peas should have a nice 


sweet potatoes

I can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes.


sausage dish

Mom will love this!  Sweet hot sausage and turkey kielbasa cooked in a fire roasted tomato sauce.  Whoever want to indulge can enjoy it over whatever style of pasta they choose, just don’t touch my black rice.  🙂


crock pot

I would be lost without my crockpots!  The third crockpot is full of steel cut oats in the fridge. 

 

The point of this post is to remind you that when trying something new, you have to be flexible.  What works for me may not work for you.  Also, what worked for me yesterday isn’t working for me today.  So no worries.  Take in a deep breath–slowly release the air and keep it moving.  I have a ton of work to do and must go. See Yah!

Happy day to you!! Smooches!