A Change in Location: A Change in Mind

I have lived in Georgia for a little over a year now and have visited more parks than I did in my entire life in the Garden State for over 50 years.  How does that happen? A friend said it best,

“A Change in location can equal a change in mind.” -NCH

Never did I believe that breathing the fresh outdoor warm summer air while walking miles and observing the beauty in a wooded park would spark so many delightful thoughts.

This post is inspired by a trail in Tribble Park. When your mind is quiet, static, and at peace to wander, you will view the world around you differently.

Walking through the park, my intentions were to get a few miles in while taking in the natural beauty of the parkland. What took place surprised me. As I strolled along the trail, objects like the shapes of the trees, the colors of the leaves, and the brokenness of tree branches, triggered random but inspiring thoughts.

New Paths and Journey’s

Reflections: We set personal and professional goals. In spite of well thought out plans (or so we think), we truly don’t know where the path will lead us. Some paths are more familiar than others. The roads are narrow, wide, straight, covered with debris, and even lead to dead ends. We think we know precisely where we are going. But amiss, we end up in a new place.

At times, the surprising destination is wonderful. On the other hand, the landing-place is unanticipated. At that moment, we have a choice to give up and to end the journey or chose receive and accept God’s lesson and beget further growth.

What is important is that, on our journey, we pay attention to all of the elements. On this walk, I observed many beautiful components of nature, such as this magnificent and variegated leaf.

The vivid spotted decaying leaf was the brightest leaf in a pile. If I were daydreaming and not focusing on the details along the path, I would have missed it. Squatting and eyeballing the leaf,  four ladies walked up. “What did you find? A snake?” Now that’s funny and boy did I laugh. I told them I don’t photograph snakes, I run from them. I pointed out the leaf to the women. They stopped to look and were also stunned by its beauty. Think about it. I walked over four miles in an extraordinarily wooded park and was able to find this beauty.

Here’s a closer look!

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The leaf is beautiful right? The image is also a reminder of the beauty in so-called defects and of the charm in aging.

Obstacles

Underneath this oversized tree with split roots is a pathway for water to flow through. The day I took this picture, the area was dry; however, once it rains, water freely flows through the park along to this tree and under its thick and twisted roots.

Reflections: In life, we must learn when to plow forward, under or around, and when to break off in a different direction. The canal is natural. Created by nature… and by God. The tree made a bridge for which the water runs under. Allowing ourselves quiet moments to reflect on any given situation, will help us to make the best choices.

Trash

Reflections: Get rid of the baggage! Learn and unlearn. Not all learned behavior is good; even if you learned the behavior as a child and from an adult. It’s like money. Not all money is good money. Recognize what helps you. Recognize what harms your mental health and well-being. Then do something about it. Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”

Don’t be afraid to remove trappings, and people from your life and do so without all the fanfare. If someone in your life doesn’t support your goals, or perhaps they bring negative energy to your life, eliminate them from your life.  There’s no need to call a soon-to-be former friend to make a formal declaration, just stop calling and responding. Eventually, they may call to ask why you stop calling. Be honest but not mean and tell them why but don’t negotiate.

The same goes for bad habits. Smoking, alcohol or substance abuse and, if needed, seek professional help. National Helpline Hotline (free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service, in English & Spanish, for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance abuse disorders).

Failure

Reflection: The dried pieces of tree trunks look like they have been precisely cut. Probably to protect park guests from falling dead trees. The stump remains. The stump can represent a distinct period in our life that may resonate feelings of failure, pain, anger, or joy and happiness. The stub within us is there for us to do what we choose. We can live with resentment, regret, remorse, hate, compassion, love, happiness, peace, faith, or with forgiveness in our hearts; we determine the method of reconciliation. 

I read from termite-control.com, that termites in trees can create real hazards. Since termites eat wood from the inside, they can make a tree so unstable that it cannot support itself. If that happens, the tree dies. We are no different.  Allowing emotions to internally harbor and fester is no different and can cause damage to our bodies, including our mental health. 

According to the World Health Organization, poor mental health is also associated with rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, physical ill-health, and human rights violations.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Perspective & Attitude

Reflections: Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is your glass-half-empty or half-full?  Like most, I can focus on what wrong and what I don’t like. However, I have so much more to be grateful for and so do you.  I make a conscious decision to look up–not down, and to thank God every day for the tremendous volume of greatness in my life.

Whatever your situation, if you need to cry, pout, or complain, do that then come to grips with the fact that your situation could be worse. Someone else’s life is ALWAYS worse off than yours.  See the good in your present spot and assess how you can make it better.

Fear

Reflections: Them damn fears! Ugh! This bridge right here is about overcoming fears and transcending to the other side. I fear heights. Even with my feet being just a tiny bit off the ground sends my heart into a triple beat. This unexplainable and horrible feeling creeps up my calves and travels to hamstrings into my rear gluts. I feel sick and jittery.

You know where you need to get to. An obstacle (fear) confronts you. Maybe you plan to obtain your GED, start or complete college, audition for a part, read your work at a Spoken Word event, or something else. Do you give up or confront your fear?  I’ve confronted some of mine but I still have a few more to tackle. Since first sprinting across this bridge, I can now walk slower and alone. Each time I cross the bridge, it gets a little easier for me. Don’t give up!

Your Village

Reflections:  The base of this tree is one solid trunk. But as the tree grew, seven strong limbs sprouted. The cluster of limbs remind me of the ancient proverb that I heard often growing up, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a child that means, everyone in the community, family, and non takes interest in the child.  The strength of the village reinforced the values taught in the home. When you were caught in the streets doing good, your neighbor reported it to your parents. When you were seen behaving inappropriately, whoever witnessed your transgression, corrected you and told your parents. Ultimately, you were disciplined at home too.

NJ Senator, Cory Book said,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Strength lies in numbers. While working on my Bachelors of Arts Degree in English, I worked a full-time job and had the responsibility of a young child, managing home life, including my relationship with my husband. I had my village of supporters and without their advice, wisdom, child-care services, love, and patience, I would have never had the opportunity to walk across the stage at Rowan University. Don’t go it alone; find your supportive network or your village and ask for help.

Downtime

Reflections: Tribble Mill Park is a 700-acre park that has two lakes and one large meadow. The park has nearly 3 1/2 miles of paved and unpaved trails. When I first set out on the trail, I was unfamiliar with the path and, at times, felt uncertain.  Since then, I have walked both the paved and un-paved surfaced trails. The non-paved was more challenging and it was easy to wander off the trail and to get lost. What I did notice on the trails were the benches.

The benches are a reminder to stop and to take a break. How often do you take breaks from your weekly routine of obligations? Unless you are literally running a marathon, you must set aside time to catch your breath and fully divert your attention away from your project. Find a quiet place that brings you solitude. Doing so will de-clutter your mind. You will think clearer and you will find solutions to some of your dilemmas.

Below are a few more of my favorite pictures from my walk.  Since this writing, my husband and I have returned to the park only to discover new paths and I love it!

My son deep in his thoughts.

..undisturbed and unbothered by people.

Other cool pics. 🙂

 

I love how this tree is bent and ends atop the paved trail.  But notice a few branches growing from the top of it.

Never grow too old to swing!

Pausing…. taking in the beauty.

The above video is unedited. The fantastic sparkles that you see are from the sun rays hitting the lake. The beauty of this video is also a reminder to sparkle to stay alive, to live intentionally, and to sparkle through as many days as possible.

 

 

 

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Environmental Wellness: How Fit Is Your Home?

img_8951The recent purchase of a gorgeous fern got me to thinking about the environmental wellness in my home.

Environmental wellness (EW) supports and promotes healthy living. It is the quality of the habitat at home, school, the community, and pretty much every space you encounter.

The way you interact with nature and the personal environment can either create harmony with the earth and the environment or do harm to both.

Consider the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food and the beverages you consume. Environmental Wellness bolsters wellness by striving to limit our exposure to hazards that are physical, chemical, and biological in our environment.

Your home is sacred. If you have children in your home, studies and research show that your child’s development can be impacted by daily exposure to harmful elements.  Adults and children exposed to lead-based, which was banned in the U.S. in 1978 (but is still around), can result in lead poisoning. However,  it’s not limited to paint.  Lead sometimes can also be found in:

Soil. Lead particles from leaded gasoline or paint settle on soil and can last years. Lead-contaminated soil is still a major problem around highways and in some urban settings. Some soil close to walls of older houses contains lead.

Household dust. Household dust can contain lead from lead paint chips or from contaminated soil brought in from outside.

Pottery. Glazes found on some ceramics, china and porcelain can contain lead that can leach into food served or stored in the pottery.

Toys. Lead is sometimes found in toys and other products produced abroad.
Cosmetics. Tiro, an eye cosmetic from Nigeria, has been linked to lead poisoning.

Herbal or folk remedies. Lead poisoning has been linked to greta and azarcon, traditional Hispanic medicines, as well as some from India, China and other countries.

Mexican candy. Tamarind, an ingredient used in some candies made in Mexico, might contain lead.

Lead bullets. Time spent at firing ranges can lead to exposure.

Occupations. People are exposed to lead and can bring it home on their clothes when they work in auto repair, mining, pipe fitting, battery manufacturing, painting, construction and certain other fields.

Source:  Mayo Clinic

You can eat organic food, do yoga, practice meditation, manage your stress, exercise, get plenty of sleep, drink water, complete all your annual doctor visits, but the environment in your home or even work can still damage you and your family’s health.

I am not paranoid and don’t want to get you there either. I’m merely pointing out factors that you may not have considered in your home that can impact your well-being.

So.  With that said, other common environmental contaminants that can railroad your health and wellness in your home are:

*Invisible Killers!  They are tasteless, colorless, and odorless.

What’s the takeaway?

As you would do maintenance on your body, you should do the same for your home.  Here are few ideas:

  • Wood burning fireplaces – Two words: 1. wood quality 2. cleaning  Here’s a link with excellent tips. 
  • With regards to Bedbugs, personally, I NEVER sit on my bed or bedroom furniture with street clothes, but here’s an official list from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on how to protect your home from those nasty critters.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide detector(s).  If it operates on batteries, make sure you replace the batteries yearly, as with your smoke detectors.
  • To minimize the concentration of VOC’s, try to use non-toxic products for your home such as the 27 recipes on this list.
  • Replace the air filters in your home.  Depending on variables such as pets, home location (city vs. suburban), the number of residents, smokers, non-smokers, primary home versus vacation home, etc… the vents may need to be changed more frequently.
  • Take note of where your fresh produce is coming from.  Try to buy produce grown in the U.S. To combat costs, try to tailor your use to seasonal fruit and vegetables.  You can also start your own garden, which is a great way to prevent ingesting pesticides. If space is limited, check out vertical gardens; they are very cool. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas too!
  • I once was heavily into burning incense and candles but, for the past 5 years or so, I’ve fallen in love using essential oils with a diffuser. The quality of incense varies, and the dust from them got on my nerves.  Also forgetting to blow out candles was dangerous.
    • The diffuser is cleaner (if you clean them) and is ideal for meditation, sleeping, the office, and even older kids’ rooms.  No flame. No smoke. No dust. I enjoy the flexibility of combining oils to help to relieve congestion and to relax at bedtimes.

When I purchased this fern, I was awed by its beauty and was undecided about where to place it, but I knew I wanted it.  My initial plan was to try out the fern in different areas.  The first test was the entryway foyer, where the plant sat overnight.

The next morning when I walked downstairs, I was tired and sleepy eyed but the vibrant beauty of the plant breathed life, joy, and love into my heart and soul, which brings me to the final point of this post.  Protect your wellness at home by giving thoughtful consideration to what you value.  Instead of filling your home with a lot of meaningless clutter, find a select few objects that absolutely warm your heart.

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Peace and light!

🙂

 

 

 


In The Name of Wellness: Why Your Words Matter

The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word and behavior affects our greater health and well-being.  And we, in turn are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.  -Greg Anderson

While ironing a shirt for work (do people still iron?) you mentally drift. The tip of the iron touches your left hand. Ouch! It burned your skin. There is strong possibility that the burn will leave a permanent mark. Years later, you can recount the story of your injury.

Words leave scars too. >>>>>>>>

While visiting my bestie in Texas, I bought an authentic pair of cowboy boots. I wore them for the first time today. As I slid them on, I was reminded why I purchased them–good quality leather, comfort, and stylish. Looking in the mirror, I thought, Damn girl, you’ve got big feet. ‘Dem boots look big as hell!

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Sipping on a green smoothie and reflecting on the boots.

Mentally, I traveled back to my awkward and gawky pre-teen years when my lanky arms and boney legs were disproportioned. My family would remind me daily that I had BIG feet. Mom would make me wear specific shoes that were orthopedically sound but ugly as hell.

Double time to today. My mom’s words have clung to the inner parts of my psyche, resurfacing without solicitation at the opportune time and trying to steal my joy.

Yup, the red boots look super-sized! I could have got them in black. Black looks smaller. Women with big feet probably shouldn’t wear bright colors…right? The truth is, does anyone really give a damn? Even if they do care, what does it matter?  My personality is vibrant, and so are my color choices in clothes, sometimes shoes, and everything else. I bought the red because they are me and I loved them. I adore them just as much today.

When I wear the boots today, someone might glance at my feet and think, damn, she’s got some big ass feet!! And if they do believe that, what changes? Nothing! The world continues to evolve. I look the same….fabulous! I feel the same…marvelous! Worse case scenario, someone thinks I have big feet, and it’s true. Hehe!

The truth; the reality is that someone will always have an opinion about you.  You do not have power over the thoughts of others.

You do, however; have the POWER to govern your own thoughts and it is YOUR thoughts that matter most.  Incessant chatter is the term Michael A. Singer uses in, the untethered soul. You have the choice to become crippled by your thoughts, but you also have the option to acknowledge the notions and to move on.   Once you are paralyzed, you start to miss out on the abundance of pleasures life has to offer you.

If I had listened to the inimical chatter in my head this morning, I wouldn’t have worn my boots.  I would have missed out on the joy of high stepping with my eclectic Jersey swag through the streets of Gwinnett County. Although I wasn’t dressed up, I felt special wearing my Ariat cowboy boots.

I don’t know if anyone took note of my boots, but if they did, it might have been because it seems stilettos are more popular than cowboy boots in Georgia or merely because they thought my footwear was cool.

Anyways, I have to points here. First, to remind you that words matter. When speaking to children, know that everything you say is heard by them. Repeated messages hang around and take up mental space and can influence the child’s behavior well into adulthood.

And second, to encourage you to try something that you’ve wanted to but are afraid to do. It can be something small like wearing a brighter color nail polish, applying for the next promotion at work, taking a dance class, getting your first tattoo, or something else.  Just do it!

 

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I couldn’t resist jumping around in my boots. 🙂

Wellness is more than exercising and eating well.  If you search wellness, you will find many definitions.  My favorite definition of wellness is:

…the experience of living life with  high levels of awareness, conscious choice, self-acceptance, interconnectedness, love, meaning, and purpose… living consciously in ways that improve your health and well-being.    – Michael Arloski

Make each day count!

Smooches!


Why My Son Wants To Help His Grandmother

“Grandchildren complete life’s circle of love.”

 

For the fall semester, my 14-year-old has a freshman health class.  Tailor’s class is learning about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes.  Nothing is more convincing than graphic images that show the deterioration of the human body.

fullsizeoutput_2354After dinner today he knocked on his grandmom’s bedroom door.

“Grandmom, can I show you something?”

She agreed.

The Top 40: Scariest Anti-Smoking Commercials [Part three] video undoubtedly left an unshakeable impression on Tailor. So much that he shared it with his grandmother.

Last week, he shared the video with me.  I sat and watched Part two and three. The video is striking and disturbing.  If you are a parent, watch the video and show it to your children. If you know a smoker, share it with them too.

My son is concerend about his grandmother’s health. She is 84 years-old.

For 68 lasting years, tobacco has infiltrated every aspect of her body.

He hears her deep and continuous cough… the loud rattling echoing from her lungs. My son notices her shortness of breath after only a few steps.  He wants to extend her life.

She quietly sat and watched the seven and half minute video. Below is their post-viewing chat.

My Mom:  Thank you for letting me look at the video Tailor.

Tailor:  Do you think the video will change the way you feel about smoking?

My Mom:  It’s not that easy to quit.  You have cravings…

She said goodnight to everyone and went to her room.

Tailor sat on the computer to look up strategies on how to help a smoker quit.  Monday, he’ll try one approach:  asking her to walk with him after dinner.

He knows there is a good possibility that she will shoot him down, but hubby and I encouraged him to try anyway.

In the shadow of observing the two, I realized how badly my son wants to convince his grandmother to quit smoking.  Just maybe he can do something that no one else has been able to do.

When the world says, “Give up.”

HOPE whispers, “Try one more time.”

 

Additional Reading

Smoking Facts

Youth Product Tobacco Use

How Cigarettes Damage Your Body

Tobacco Threatens Us All

 

 


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!