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!

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!

 

 

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!  🙂

 

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.