Confessions From A Vegan

There once was a time when I was relentless in my pursuit of perfection. A sparkling and stain free stove, a crumbless kitchen counter, clean bathroom mirrors, and bare floors that left no dust or particles on the foots’ bottom.

Impeccability on this level was too much to maintain, but it took me years to learn what and who was really important. The approach was stupid, and I am still trying to determine why “perfection” was such a priority for me.

I have felt for many years that in high school, I underachieved at everything I did.  I was an okay teenager but never really pushed myself hard at anything.  For most of my life, I blamed the adults (teachers, coaches, and advisors) for not seeing something in me that I did not see in myself. They should have pushed me, but they did not. I blended in a predominately white school with only two black teachers, neither of which I had as a teacher.

My guidance counselor never hid her lack of interest in my academic progress or achievement. I’m confident that Mrs. C.  had distorted views about the potential of most of the students who looked like me. How do I know? We talked. Like an over-copied handout, the sentiments were regularly used, and the similarities in stories align perfectly.

My parents got a free pass. Mother, one of 13 was dirt poor. She and other siblings quit school to work. During my high school years, she returned to school to obtain her GED. Watching her study was motivating. She encouraged me to do my best and to finish school.

“Get your diploma because you won’t be able to get a decent job without it.”

My dad came here on a boat from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although he never earned his diploma, he was a teacher of hard work. “Doing my best” was excellent advice but I needed a more detailed narrative on what it looked like and how to do this…especially when my teachers had little expectations from me.

In my early 20’s when I thought that immediately after high school, I should have gone to college and believed that I should be further along in my career. When I was overlooked for a promotion because I did not have a college degree, I felt inadequate.

Perhaps the idea of perfection as an adult offset my underperformance as a teenager.  Every task that I completed would be perfect or as close to perfection as possible. I was always the model employee. I was the front desk clerk who never had a drawer shortage. The VIP Agent who never messed up a customers’ accommodations. At home, the linen was correctly folded and stacked. The list goes on.

Today, I’m the happy imperfect vegan.

Yesterday (Sunday) we celebrated a milestone birthday of my cousin. We enjoyed brunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Hmm mmm.

The night before brunch, my final thoughts before going to sleep was The Cheesecake Factory’s menu!!  Now ain’t that some ish? I didn’t toss and turn. I wasn’t stressing or anything. Ahem… I was planning!

Well, peeps, all the planning didn’t make a difference.

I read through the menu. I contemplated an old favorite.

I even thought about this blog, my Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook pages. What am I gonna say? The truth! I am human! That I decided to do me.

Without guilt or shame, I ordered a Cajun Shrimp and pasta dish. It was delicious!!!

I came to terms with ordering and eating the fantastic dish with this thinking:

I am not a perfect Vegan.

Life is short, don’t deny myself of a dish that I really want.

This is my second cheat and the world has not stopped revolving.

I am a human being.

We falter.

Why does eating shrimp & pasta have to be a falter?

Change takes time.

I am a Vegan student.

Only eight months have passed.

I need the protein.

Looking at the plate made me grin. My face should’ve cracked! I was doing the right thing.

I live authentically.

My experience may help others.

The study of health behavior includes research on numerous behavioral change theories. Some of the contributing factors to successful changes in our behavior include our environment, community, family, work, knowledge, support, and finances.

Even if you have all the factors aligned, change occurs in stages, and it takes time. Change is hard, but you should keep trying.

Your goal may be to quit smoking, to learn to meditate, lose weight, start exercising or like me become Vegan, regardless the change in our behavior will not happen overnight. Having an understanding of this process can alleviate some of the stress. James Prochaska’s Readiness for Change Model is used widely in the field of wellness. His concept may help you to achieve goals related to modifying your behavior.  Below are the stages:

Six Readiness for Change Stages.

  1. Pre-contemplation – Lack of awareness; unconcerned; a person has no thought of changing. Ex: A cigarette smokes who has no desire to quit.
  2. Contemplation – The Person, begins to consider change; ambivalence. Ex: Cigarette smoker thinks about quitting but has not taken any action.
  3. Preparation – Person begins to explore change possibilities. We get ready for a change by gathering information about the subject and gathering resources. Ex: Cigarette smoker talks to their doctor about methods to quit smoking, talks and seeks support from family and friends or obtains medical assistance such as a patch.
  4. Action – Person takes action. Ex: The day the person chooses not to smoke a cigarette
  5. Maintenance – Person works at maintaining change. This is me. Lapse and relapse occur at this stage. Ex: Smoker experiences a relapse and takes a few puffs or smokes an entire cigarette.
  6. Termination – The new behavior is now part of your life. My goal! We engage in the new practice with little effort and without much thought. In other words, the new behavior occurs naturally.

If you are in the process of some type of behavioral change, can you identify which stage you are in? Being aware of your current stage may help you to understand your actions.  Working with a wellness coach will help you to move through and complete the steps.

My point here is to support you in the change(s) you are trying to make in your life. I relapsed and wanted to share this with you.  You might also relapse, and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it.

Continue to surround yourself with people who encourage you; that’s why I’m here. Stay on your wellness train, it may be hard but please don’t give up.  If you’d like to talk, email me at tanyafcain@gmail.com

Happy Day!


12 Steps to Replace Fast Track Promises

Promises, promises, and more promises. Assurances that you will become a better you are the claims made by companies who shall remain nameless. But you know who they are.

Pay us “X” amount of dollars monthly and we’ll do the work for you!

I read three different plans on one company’s site.

  • Basic daily plan of $10.18 per day… that’s $3,715.70 annually
  • Core daily program of $11.07 per day… that’s $4,040.55 yearly
  • Uniquely yours daily plan of $ 12.50… that’s 4, 562.50 per year

I searched another business. If you join “today,” the one-time enrollment fee is slashed from $99 to $49. You then pay a $19 monthly meal plan. After that, you’re hooked for about $20 per day, which amounts to “around” $7,300 annually! Get the heck out of here!

From a monetary standpoint, my question to you is, are you financially stable enough to afford the fees for the rest of your life? Does the diet plan align with your financial goals?

I get it. It’s tempting because it appears to be more straightforward than the “other” route.

The lure to unpack the product of a poor diet, lack of physical exercise or the side effects of medication or a physical condition is tantalizing. You want it off and off now.

Marketers play on your frustration and eagerness to find results with catchphrases:

“Rapid weight loss.”

“Fast track to weight loss.”

I decided to write this piece because, in addition to seeing a family member’s kitchen full of this stuff, I’ve also had several people ask my opinion about these type of programs. Taking photos of the packaged food was something I could not resist doing.

Can you imagine buying these products for the rest of your life? You’d probably get tired of eating this stuff anyway. The person who was on this particular plan lost 25 pounds in six months. Eventually, she went off the plan and attempted to maintain on her own. She was unsuccessful, gained the 25 pounds back and then some. She is not alone. I am not saying it’s the same for everyone but what I am getting at is that if you don’t do the work, no program is going to work or last.

 

Marketers know you want it badly. The truth is NOTHING fast, quick or rapid will sustain you for a healthy lifestyle.

My problem with these programs is that, as long as you buy the meal plans, you lose weight. But when you discontinue the plan and try to do it on your own, you fall short.

You fall short because you relied on someone else to do work for you that you needed to do for yourself.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sure, you see big-name celebrities with deep behind pockets endorsing the brand, but with each ad, their pockets get deeper. Cha-Ching! $$$$$. Most celebs can afford the long-term financial commitment. Can you? I’m just sayin’… Evening setting the money spent aside, how healthy is pre-packaged food? Perhaps you might supplement with fruit, but it’s still packaged. IJS.

I encourage you to invest your time and your money into educating yourself on how to adopt a restorative life by making informed decisions that improve your overall health and wellness.

  1. Gauge your physical health. Make your annual doctor appointments (Dentist, General Practioner, OBGYN, etc..) and discuss your blood work and exam results. What’s right and what’s pressing that needs your immediate attention?
  2. Assess your mental health. Problems such as Depression, Anxiety & Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, etc..) can keep you from living your best life. Your mental health deserves the same attention as your physical health.  Don’t be afraid of seeking help.
  3. Size up your support network. Who are the people in your life? Do they encourage you? Who puts you down or laughs at your ideas? Commit to making the necessary changes by letting go of the toxic people in your life.
  4. Set goals. (SMART) – Not a new concept nor is it my idea, but it works.
    1. S – Specific
    2. M – Measurable
    3. A – Attainable (Action-Oriented)
    4. R – Relevant or Rewarding
    5. T – Time-Bound or Trackable.
  5. Learn how to read food labels. The internet has endless resources. How many servings are in that bag of chips or cookies you enjoy?
  6. Research the ingredients in your food. Again, hop on the net. Educate yourself and understand more about the food (or chemicals) you eat.
  7. SLOWLY modify your diet. Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (if you eat meat). SLOWLY reduce your sugar intake. Drink more water and fewer sodas, juices, and alcohol. Purchase less processed foods and eat cleaner. If you want apple pie, bake your own, and you control the ingredients instead of buying processed food full of preservatives, sugar and other chemicals.
  8. Evaluate your physical fitness regiment. Do you exercise? If so, what do you do and how frequently? Are you getting the results you desire? Why or why not? If you do not exercise, why not? How can you change this? What are your fitness goals? Whatever you do, add strength training/weight training to your program. With a solid nutrition plan and a consistent strength training program, you will get maximum results.
  9. Engage in self-care. Do something for YOU such as a massage, a short or long getaway, skydiving, Floatation Therapy, or something else you’ve been dying to try.
  10. Survey your finances. If you’re overwhelmed with debt, seek financial counseling. The problem won’t go away on its own. Take action to stop nagging phone calls from bill collectors.
  11. If you have a significant other, take a measure of your relationship. Are you happy? If so, fantastic! If not, it’s time to explore why. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Is counseling the answer? Get the ball rolling.
  12. Explore your career. Are you happy or satisfied? If so, awesome! If not, set fear aside. Consider your interests and explore your options.

The idea is to unmask the root of your issue(s). Quite often, the problem isn’t what we think it is. If you take a 360 approach to your life and visit all aspects, you will uncover underlying issues that have kept you bogged down and going in circles.

This post is longer than planned but it is also an excellent roadmap to jump-start you on your road to wholeness. There is NEVER a quick fix to ANYTHING.

Consider high performing athletes. They don’t arrive at the top of their game overnight. Years of training, overcoming injuries, self-doubt, and naysayers pass before they reach the top of their game.

Our journey is no different.


Thanksgiving Day: From The Inside Out

“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

-Richard Carlson

To prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to…

Stop trying to make everything perfect!!

Hubby and I have been hosting holiday dinners for over 20 years.  I use to stress and beat myself up over making sure that every little detail was perfect.

Crisp table linen, a visually pleasing spread of desserts, a spotless home, plenty of food, a beautifully set dining table, and then some.

Although I’ve always adored decorating my home for each occasion, cooking ridiculous amounts of food, and having the over-night house guests, sometimes I stressed and fussed over details that no one even noticed… stuff that didn’t matter.  So I did what I could and focused on what mattered most; the meal.

From the time I got up on Thanksgiving Day, I reminded myself to stay present. To be aware of every moment…  my invigorating morning shower… the warm water clashing on my back…. the scent of lavender…Mmm.. a reflection of the sun and the odd-shaped shadow on the bathroom wall.

Being mindful and present supports a lifestyle of wellness. When we exert energy anticipating possibilities that we cannot control, we miss out on the daily pleasures of interacting with people around us. Our loved ones smile, kind gestures, affection, or a call for help.

Routinely focusing on the present takes practice and mental muscle. The more we practice, the better we become at it.  One way to focus is to try to concentrate and engage one or more of your five senses:

  1. What do you smell?
  2. What can you taste?
  3. What do you hear? What kinds of sounds (i.e., leaves crackling under your feet, the sound of running water, a child’s laughter, the distant echoing of an ambulance siren, or in silence the sound of your breath).
  4. What do you see?  Notice the details of colors, shapes, the sky, or a person’s eyes.
  5. What can you feel?  Textures that are hot, cold, soft, hard, etc..

Being comfortable with doing my best, accepting my best and staying current allowed me to make the most of my day with my family. I think I listened more than usual and captured more intimate moments throughout the day.

Our home was packed! Bodies were everywhere.  I concerned myself less with crumbs on the floors and coasters on the table and more on getting to know my little cousins and catching up with the adults I haven’t seen in years.  The noise from the 11 kids running through the house shooting nerf guns, screaming and laughing personified quality family time. I laughed all day.

Vegan Challenge Update

This was my first Vegan Thanksgiving.  Except for four family members, everyone came from at least four or more hours away.  Which meant I did most of the cooking.

The day was undoubtedly a mental test for me. Was I ready to bypass the 5 pounds of baked mac & cheese and the two deep fried turkeys?  My plan to cook additional vegetables for myself and five other Vegans worked well. My two favorite veggies were prepared by my cousin’s husband; roasted brussels sprouts with sweet onions and olive oil and roasted cauliflower and carrots with olive oil, Vidalia onions, and turmeric!!

In addition to the above tasty vegetables, Thanksgiving dinner included, two-deep fried turkeys, honey-ham, baked chicken, broiled salmon, shrimp cocktail, kale/collards with smoked turkey, vegan kale/collards, hot stuffing, mild stuffing, potato salad, baked mac & cheese, black-eyed peas, roasted butternut squash, spaghetti squash, traditional candied sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes (with cinnamon & nutmeg only) , and plain white sweet potatoes with coconut oil.   The list of desserts is too long, but there were plenty.

Here’s my plate!!  Everyone was surprised that I did not cave into the mac & cheese, but I was cool with not eating it and consciously enjoyed every bite of the food on my plate.  It really is amazing what we can do when we set our mind to something.

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It has been over one month since I started my Vegan challenge.  My major hiccup occurred last Saturday on a quick visit to Jersey.  We ate at a fantastic seafood restaurant, Doc’s Oyster House in Atlantic City.  Majority of the menu options is seafood.  The offerings for a salad were of little interest to me… probably because I was beyond starving and I’ve eaten at Doc’s before.  This would probably be the last time I visit this restaurant in a long time, so I ordered the special, which scallops.  The servings are large portions, and I could only eat half my dish.  I took the other half home, and my girlfriend ended up eating it. Although the food was delicious, the entire time, I kept thinking, “I’m eating seafood.”

I did, however, learn a valuable lesson.  Before dining out at specialty restaurants, I should carefully read the menu online and make my selection beforehand.  While writing this post, I went to their website and re-read the menu.  I saw options that I missed when I was in the restaurant.  I don’t know if I missed the items because of the ambiance and the dimmed light or because I got caught up in the moment or I just wasn’t paying attention.  Either case, I know that mistakes happen and I learned from the error so, all is good.

Below are some photos with brief captions from Thanksgiving Day.

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Quiche… pre-Thanksgiving Breakfast from the best bakery,  Sweet Brown Suga!

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These two beauties are my cousins.  They are also Vegan.

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Thanksgiving morning… help from my cousin in the kitchen.

Aunt Miriam & Aunt Clara

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Breakfast and school work.

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Even my little cousins enjoy a variety of fruit.

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An early text from another cousin.  He deep fried two 15 pound turkeys.

Holiday punch in the making…  designated bartender.

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Thank God for relatives who like to cook. She was a big help.

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Every woman can appreciate a man who can cook (healthy) in the kitchen.

Seconds, please!!

Loc inspiration from my favorite cuz! He’s also the Deep Fried Turkey expert.

The buffet line.

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Dining room. Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

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Dining room Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Punch without the punch (alcohol). Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Cousins!!  Some met for the first time.

Trying to get everyone to pose was a bit challenging.

This munchkin  Loved my mom’s doll baby and wasn’t trying to give her back.  

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Runway ready!

One of many attempts to get a good pic!  Lol!

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Seriously focused!

LOVE!

Two car fanatics!

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Love, Love, Love!  My daughter and our 84-year-old aunt haven’t seen each other in over 15 years!

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My nephew, his son, and auntie!

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Delivery of the ham and two turkeys in style!

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A toast to family, friendship, and a splendid day!

I hope that you found gratitude in your Thanksgiving Day!

Smooches!


Thanksgiving Shenanigans: 31 And Counting!

I sustain myself with the love of family.
– Maya Angelou

Some relationships in families are complicated. We’d like to handpick our family members, but we cannot. But even if we could choose our peeps, we probably wouldn’t get it right anyway.  Think about it.  Over your lifetime, how many of your friendships have come and gone?   Some were short-lived and a few continued for decades.

Thanksgiving is less than one week away.  And let us remember that the holiday is a celebration of unity and gratitude.  If you have a warm place to sleep, food on the table, and are alive, stop and give thanks.  You are blessed. Churches, community centers, food banks, and other generous souls cook, deliver, and serve thousands of meals for less fortunate and homeless individuals. Those of us who have options and do not have to rely on others for the holiday feast need to recognize and not take it for granted.

That said, I ask you to consider your Thanksgiving plans. How so?  If you are prosperous enough to enjoy a meal, then think about a family member who you have not spoken to for some time. Maybe it’s time for you to reconnect. Perhaps it is time to bury the hatchet. You don’t have to become best friends with them.  Enjoy a meal together while giving thanks for being alive and for the opportunity to make amends. Or, at the least, pick up your phone and start a conversation with them.

Each year, I look forward to hosting our family holiday dinner, but 2017 is, generating, even more, excitement for me.

For the first time in my life, I am celebrating
AND hosting Thanksgiving dinner in a new home, outside of NJ….
In Georgia!

As soon as we settled on our home and prepared for our move, we told the  family, “We are still hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so start making travel plans!”

For the last 20+ years, we’ve hosted holiday dinners at our home and although 700+ miles away, I didn’t want that to change.

I wasn’t sure how many would make the trip, but hubby and I put it out there.

Whelp!  As of this writing, there will be 31 of us!!!

Six generations coming together! Oooomygooooodness!  How cool is that?

Our peeps are coming from New Jersey, Washington, DC, Tennessee, Michigan, and from other parts of Georgia.  How friggin awesome!!

Now, with that said. Chile… like most families, we have an assortment of temperaments and personalities!  We are a loving family and, like most, folks butt heads, have conflicts, kiss, and makeup.

However…sadly some folks hold on to grudges have issues and carry their baggage around like it has value and be cashed in for dollars!  So, on Thanksgiving, a few folks with strained relationships are dining under one roof.  The forgiveness conversation with my mom is an ongoing project; however, I remind her, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”  She is a tough cookie, but that’s the rule in our home.

Sibling conflicts, parental conflicts and more. But you know what, I’m determined to make the occasion positive and memorable and encourage you to do the same.  All relatives deal with conflicts and fallouts, and typically the issue is over dumb sh**.

The pitfall is that some folks cannot get past their pride, their anger, their hurt, and the resentment they feel toward the other person.  Like an Olympic torch, they pass the burden on from one generation to the next. In my family, I continue to do what I can to stop this foolishness.  I’m not having generations of cousins, nieces, nephews disliking each other for nonsense.

Memories lapse, stories change,
but the animosity continues.

If we are to achieve optimum wellness,
we must open our hearts to forgiveness.

By not forgiving others, we are weighed down with trappings that grow heavier by the year.  The baggage inhibits our ability to experience complete joy and happiness.

Consider trying an exercise in writing a forgiveness letter.  Write the letter to the person who hurt and whom you have not forgiven.  Do not give it to them.  Address precisely what they did to you but also why you forgive them.  Set grammar and sentence structure aside, the point is to put your raw feelings on paper.  Pour our your emotions.  Cry if necessary.  Read what you wrote every day for a week.

Forgiving does not right a wrong.  To forgive someone allows you to move on to a place where the anger eventually vanishes. It grants the opportunity for growth and for more positive energy to flow through you.  If you cannot surpass the tension, seek counseling to help you work through it.

Mentally I am prepping harder than usual for Thanksgiving because this is my first Vegan Thanksgiving!  We have always had vegan family members for holiday dinners, but I was eating meat then.

This is the fifth week that I’ve sustained life without chicken, turkey, dairy, or seafood.  I’m singing and dancing around the house to Cool & The Gang’s, Celebration!

Lately, I’ve had a bit of a sweet tooth.  I’m not sure why that is, but I fixed the craving with some bruised apples in a bag.

I washed and peeled six apples.  Add them to a pot with a little water (about a half-cup) and added cinnamon and nutmeg.  NO SUGAR!  I cooked them on low until they softened.  The result is intoxicating!!  If I hadn’t prepared them myself, I would swear that the cook added sugar.  Restraint was in full effect.  I wanted to eat the whole pot in one sitting.

One morning, I had to eat on-the-road, so I went to Starbucks for Oats. They came with nuts and dried fruit. For protein, I added nuts but passed on the dry fruit with 22 grams of sugar.

After eating the darn oats, I realized they probably had dairy in them.  Ugh!! The thought didn’t occur to me to ask for coconut or almond milk and until the cup was empty.  Lol!
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One of my favorite meals of the week is this bowl of red quinoa, black-eyed peas, sautéed mushrooms, and onions.

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Each week my strategy is to cook one to two cups of quinoa, a crock pot of legumes or beans, bunches of kale, and to try something new. This week, I was just too busy preparing for Thanksgiving to do that, but still did just fine.   Later in the week, I can always add additional roasted veggies, which will add a variation to my meals.

I’m working on ideas for next week… hoping to make a few savory vegan dishes so I won’t be tempted by the baked mac & cheese and deep fried turkey.

Since taking on the Vegan challenged, I’ve noticed a few changes.

  1. I feel lighter.  Not like I have lost a bunch of weight but somehow brighter.  Putting into words is hard.
  2. Late afternoon, I no longer feel sluggish and crave power naps. It’s odd because I am not getting any more or less sleep but I have more energy.
  3. I haven’t felt the need for my afternoon cup of java.
  4. Although I’ve been working out intensely pretty much five days a week, in the past week I lost 5 pounds!
  5. I’m feeling a bit more energized.  This is funny because I’m already high energy….when I’m supposed to be resting between sets at the gym, I’m pacing around looking for some cardio sh** to do!  Hubby thinks I’m nuts and can’t figure it out.

This post is longer than planned but, the bottom line is that any change takes times. 

Diet, mindset, attitude— any change in behavior involve a process.  Neither occurs overnight, but YOU must want to make the transition.  You can’t do it for anyone but yourself.  I suggest merely starting today.  Then try again tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that…   Eventually, you will achieve what you seek.

“Everything is hard before it is easy.”

-Goethe J.W

In preparing for the holiday, the upcoming week is going to be hectic… traveling, cooking, making plans for house guests, squeezing in gym time, writing, and more.  But with that said, my goal is not to stress about any of my plans and worry about everything being perfect but to remain mindful, present, and to enjoy the process and the time with my family.  I hope you do the same! I can’t wait to share pics!!

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable.
It would be wise to use that time adoring our families,
cherishing our friendships, and living our lives.

– Maya Angelou

 

Forgiveness Support

How To Forgive Someone Who Hurt You

Forgive Someone

The Untethered Soul

The Language of Letting Go