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!

…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!!

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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What Food Labels Really Say

Earlier today on my Instagram page, I shared a picture of a product label.


I tell everyone to read the label on everything you consume.

My mom enjoy’s grapes and she eats a lot of them. The purpose of this update isn’t to throw any particular company under a bus.  Instead, my intentions are to educate you (and me) on why we have to stay diligent in reading labels and doing research on any product we consume (internal or topical).

The more research I do, the more I realize how confusing the lingo and the process is. I am certain this is all by design.  So let’s try to dissect this mess!

Nature’s Partner, a self-proclaimed, family business who grows fruits and vegetables.

The label says: Grown & Packed By VIDEXPORT S.A. DE C.V. * Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico


VIDEXPORT is a produce marketing company and is a partner of Nature’s Partner.


The grapes are a “product of Mexico” and are distributed by Giumarra in Los Angelos, CA.

A closer look at Giumarra reveals that the Black Seedless Table Grapes are grown and exported from Mexico, so I think the mention of Los Angelos on the label is for consumers who think they are buying from the US (a marketing tactic).  At a glance, the label will trick you. Sidebar:  If you wear reading glasses, when you shop for food, start taking your specs with you.

Check out this out!  Some of Giumarra’s produce is USDA Certified Organic while others are not.  😦


Hot peppers, cucumbers, honeydew melons, and grapes are the only products that are NOT USDA Certified Organic.  This makes me nervous and should do the same for you.

Lastly and according to the label, the grapes are

“treated with Sulfur Dioxide for fungicide use”

I am not a science person but I researched Sulfur Dioxide or (SO2) and learned the following about Sulfur Dioxide:

  • It is a chemical compound that is a toxic gas found in the atmosphere.
  • The largest source of production in the air is from the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
  • Short-term health exposure and affect the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult.
  • Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2.
  • Environmentally it can harm trees and plants by damaging foliage and decreasing growth and contribute to acid rain which can harm sensitive ecosystems.

So what’s the bottom line?  Do your best (as I do) to buy locally grown produce and freeze them for later usage. If you are more adventurous and like the idea of playing in some dirt, try growing some of your own produce.

Try to buy produce that is grown and distributed in the US.  Produce grown in other countries are difficult for our government agencies to regulate.  They can pretty much do and say anything they want.

Read food and beverage labels.  If you don’t like what you’re read about a product, write the company and/or stop buying the item.

Follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on twitter and facebook. The agency posts updates on their pages.  You will be surprised by what the information posted on their web page.  The facts are published but consumers rarely make time to read it.

Acquire knowledge, apply it to your life and share with everyone that you know.  Us consumers have to stick together.  When we stick together we have a voice that makes a difference.

Although I grew up helping my mother in our large garden, I haven’t gardened in years. I still have fond memories of picking fresh green beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and more from our garden.

Although, it’s been many years I am happy to share with you that this summer, I will start my first vertical garden as well as, a vegetable container garden. I think this a simpler approach to gardening that will work for me and my elderly mother will enjoy helping out. The enormous amount of chemicals used to grown fruits and vegetables have inspired me to return to my roots.

Additional Reading

Organic Standard

Sulfur Dioxide

When to plant

Another Case of Why You Need to Read Food Labels

While I was steaming a half dozen apples that had gone soft, I noticed an apple pie on the kitchen counter.  Mother bought the pie.  Now you know I had to examine the label.

All I can say is damn! Even this label surprised me.  I counted the number of ingredients in this supermarket (who shall remain nameless) freshly baked apple pie and I am floored!!

While the first ingredient is apples, what follows ought to be a crime. Also, notice that sugar isn’t far from the top.  Come on now!  A good apple is naturally sweet and requires NO sugar.   Other UN-NATURAL ingredients include:

While the pie does have “milk,” Eggs,” and “apples,” the bad far outweighs the good. Preservatives digested in the body converts to dangerous carcinogens that studies have shown can cause certain cancers, tumors, and other major illnesses.

I know.  Realistically, to 100% avoid harmful chemicals, one would have to live in a bubble.  However, if you care about your body and your overall wellness, try to minimize the number of toxic chemicals you put in your body or on your skin and hair, as much as possible.  I am not perfect but I continue to educate myself and make smarter choices about the products I consume.


Instead of consuming a preservative filled store bought pie with over two dozen ingredients opt for a cleaner and a healthier version by cooking your own at home.  I cooked my organic Fuji apples on low and I added only TWO ingredients; cinnamon and nutmeg.  My “chunky applesauce” was naturally sweet with NO preservatives and delightfully appealing. 🙂

 

How To Eat Well While Traveling 

Who’s says you have to eat junk when taking road trips or quick getaways?  Seriously if you have time-  wait. My bad.  I mean, if you make time to prep before traveling, you won’t get stuck eating sh** then feeling like sh**.  


Instead of relying on horrible and packaged rest stop or airport food that ultimately leave you feeling sluggish, lethargic, and Sleepy, take control with a trip to the market before leaving. 


Slice your food if necessary, then wash and dry them. 


Yeah, you’ll need to invest a little time, but I promise, you’ll be glad that you did. 🙂


Pick your favorite fruits and veggies and have fun with packing. I forgot the carrots and celery but I have plenty of natural sugar and vitamins.  Slice and peel the oranges so there’s no mess in the car, train, bus, airplane, or even the beach. 


A great way to monitor your portions is to pick up a box of portion pack snack bags from Walmart.  Mmm- blueberries! 

Don’t forget to wash the appples too. Put them in sandwich bags or gallon size freezer bags. Again, all the hard work is done in advance. 

For a refreshing treat, mix the blueberries or strawberries with some granola. Yummy! 

 

Then enjoy your trip! 🙂

Enjoy your holiday weekend.