Chains

marcia   August 25, 2016   No Comments on Chains

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We all have chains of some kind, if we’re willing to admit it.  For some of us, the chains are visible, but for most they are only visible by our actions or by the way we view ourselves.

I was watching a video done by Propaganda yesterday and it really spoke to me.  If you get a chance, you should watch it too.  https://youtu.be/yqAS2lPISa8  I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says in this video, but it really got me thinking.

I am a 48 year old white female.  I did not get to choose my race or my gender, it was chosen for me.  I believe in God, so I believe that what was chosen for me was right, regardless of the struggles I have had in accepting my gender over the years.  I was not raised during the time of slavery and I thank God for that.  I have enough guilt to live with without having the added guilt of possibly owning another human being.  I was raised mostly by my mother and grandparents in upstate NY.  We did not know prejudice, but we also did not know a lot of people of color.  We had one black friend in middle school and I had one in college, but that was pretty much the only experience I had with people that were not white other than my Aunt from the Dominican Republic.

Personally, I have always been intrigued by people of other nationalities and colors.  I find it very interesting to learn about other ethnic groups and I believe as humans we all have something different and important to add to the world around us.

I was talking with my sisters the other day and I was telling them how I was uncomfortable with something that a group of people that I occasionally spend time with were doing.  Because of my upbringing in a very strict legalistic environment, I tend to be over sensitive when it comes to certain things.  Here is what my oldest sister said to me, “Everyone is different. In these kinds of things (not black & white), you can both be right! It took me a long time to realize that there is no “formula” for a personal relationship (with God OR people). It’s organic and unique because every person is unique.”  Of course, she was talking about relationships in the church, but it really applies in other areas, too.

My first experience with a black person as an adult was when I was working as an electrician’s helper in Hamilton, Ohio in 1990.  I was newly married to a surveyor and when he got a job in Ohio, I decided I wanted to work, too.  It was boring sitting in a hotel all day by myself.  The company put me to work with a black, female journeyman electrician.  I thought it was going to be awesome working with another woman, I was a little nervous about going into a male dominant field already knowing right off the bat I was going to have to prove myself.  I was so wrong.  The first couple of days weren’t too bad, but once she figured out I could do the work, she started disappearing.  She would be gone for hours at a time, and I had no idea where she was going.  One day the foreman came by looking for my journeyman and I told him I had no idea where she was.  He gave me a look that told me he knew where she was, but he didn’t say anything.  We were working in a paper mill, and it was hot all the time.  Most of the time where we worked it was over 100 degrees all day long.  It could be pretty physically hard work, but mostly you were on your feet all day on hot cement.  It just so happened that I needed to use the restroom one afternoon and I figured out where my journeyman had been going all those times.  One bathroom on the upper level was air conditioned and had a lounge when you first walked in.  There were couches and lockers and it was really one of the nicest bathrooms I had ever been in.  I walked in to that restroom and my journeyman was sprawled out on one of those couches just relaxing.  I said, “This is where you’ve been disappearing to?!?!”  She said, “Heck yeah, I’m not going to sweat my tail off all day everyday!”  I asked her if she wasn’t worried about losing her job and she responded, “I’m black and I’m a woman, they can’t do nothing to me.”  I could not believe those words came out of her mouth.  I was working so hard just to prove that I was capable and able to do the job that they could have given to a man, and that I deserved to get paid the same as a man, and she was using her race and her gender to do the exact opposite.  I was literally sick about it.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.

I totally get it that black people have had a hard time getting past the prejudice.  There are too many white people who just hate black people solely on the color of their skin.  My first husband was a Native American from the South who was very dark skinned, and even the Native American’s did not want to be considered black.  There is a video circulating where a white woman asks the crowd of white people if they believe that black people are being treated right to stand up if they would want to be treated the same way….not very many people stood up.  I don’t think I would have stood up, even though I do think that we all have a lot of opportunities here in America that we just wouldn’t have anywhere else.

Sometimes I am really grateful that I was born white, even though we were poor.  We didn’t have a lot, but my mom worked really hard to give us what we needed.  We had a home, an education and she built in each of us a strong work ethic.  I have rarely been grateful that I was born a woman.  Just being honest, I believe that in many religions women are considered subservient to men.  I have even seen that in black culture.  Black people often feel that white people think they are less than them, and I believe there are some that do.  I am NOT one of those people.  But some black men, as well as some white men, quite often will treat their wives as someone who is lesser than them, and for me that is a problem.

Something I heard recently really stuck with me.  Treat other people the way you want to be treated.  I know its an old saying, but it really is true.  If you want respect, treat other people with respect.  If you want love, show love.  If you want to be treated as an equal, treat others as equals.  This can be applied in so many relationships.  We all want to be heard, seen, respected, loved.  It should not be so hard for us to be those things to other people, especially if that is what we want from them.

I guess I am saying all this to say that I understand that black people feel hurt by white people.  They still struggle in many ways to overcome the issues that have plagued them for years.  My son Isaac has a Lecrae song on his phone that we often listen to while we are driving called Dirty Water.  One line says, “You call ’em devil, he fighting for self esteem”.  I guess not everyone can relate to that concept.  I can relate to that, because I have spent many years learning that I am enough as a woman, that I don’t have to prove myself anymore.   In Propaganda’s 20 Years, he talks about a relationship that was really bad for twenty years, the man abused the woman, but she stayed.  Then the second twenty years was good, but the scars were still there.  On their 40th anniversary the husband said, “Let’s not talk about the bad twenty years, lets just focus on the last twenty years that were good.”  At first I thought, well that makes sense, if he’s changed, let’s forgive him and move on.  But then he said something that I just can’t shake.  He said, “How can I forgive you if you’re not willing to admit you were wrong?”  I know what the Bible says about forgiving, and I know that quite often we need to forgive in order to free ourselves, but not everyone is even close to being at that point yet.  The truth is, it’s a lot easier to forgive someone when they have asked you for forgiveness and you know they are truly sorry.  It’s a lot harder to forgive someone who is arrogantly refusing to even admit that they hurt you.  Maybe what we really need to do is talk about it.  Maybe it’s already being talked about in a positive way, I think with the way things are out there today, we need to talk about it just a little more.

I did not choose to be white, and I did not choose to be a woman, but this is who I am.  I was not alive when slavery was accepted and practiced.  I cannot change what was done years ago, and I cannot discern whether it was black people who sold their own into slavery or whether it was white people.  I cannot discern whether they thought what they were doing was right or wrong based on their own heritage or social classes.  The only thing I can do is say that I believe it was wrong.  I believe today that it is wrong to own a human being as property and it was wrong then.  I believe that we are all created in God’s image and that we all are equally valued in God’s eyes.  I believe if we are truly followers of Jesus that we will equally value each other no matter what race, color, gender or any other distinction.  I believe that is takes everyone, all groups of people with different gifts and interests and abilities to really make this world beautiful.  I wish there was something I could do to change the past and make it different, but I can’t.  The only thing I can do is to stand up as a white female and say, “I’m sorry.”  I’m sorry that we as a race of white people owned black slaves because we thought we were better in some way.  I’m sorry that there are still white people who believe that black people are inferior in some way.  And I am sorry that for some reason there are people of both colors out there that continually want to provoke and instigate this negative relationship between black and white people, because it is benefiting them in some way that I can simply not comprehend.  I’m truly sorry, and if there is anything I can do to help change the way we perceive each other I will gladly do it.

We all have chains.  I want to be a part of something that starts breaking those chains.

 

Tower Garden Update

marcia   August 20, 2016   No Comments on Tower Garden Update

You know, I really consider myself to be fairly intelligent, definitely not dumb,but when it comes to websites and downloading/uploading pictures and getting them to work right, it can make even the smartest person feel a little dumb.  Several days ago I took pictures with my phone, thinking I could just upload them to my website right from there and it would be so simple.  Not simple at all.  I ended up taking the pictures again with my camera and loading them on to my computer so I could attempt to get them uploaded without such a struggle.  So this is the resulting update. 🙂

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We had a few pretty dry weeks, so my dirt garden is looking a little rough.  Actually, everything except the peppers are pretty well done for.  I did water a little bit here and there, but for the most part, I kind of let nature have it’s way.  I have gotten a total of about 2 1/2  dozen tomatoes from the tomato plants in my dirt garden.

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My tower garden on the other hand, is still flourishing.

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These pictures were taken last week.  I had so much trouble with my website uploading pictures that I couldn’t get things to work right until now.  Having faster internet has certainly helped!

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I had to trim off some dead leaves, etc. so these are pictures I took today.

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The following pictures are of my traditional dirt garden.  It is looking pretty sad.

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So far I only have two new flowers on my dirt garden tomatoes, at least most of the leaves are still green.  I’ve trimmed back all the dead leaves, so there’s not much left.  As you can see, I’ve kind of let the weeds grow up again, too.  It has been way too hot to be out there weeding the garden.   On my tower garden I have dozens of flowers and I counted 17 tomatoes and 7 peppers so far.

The peppers were my most successful plants in my traditional garden.  I harvested a bunch of hot banana peppers and a new pepper that I tried this year called a Cajun Bell.  They are pretty spicy, but really good.  The bell peppers have not done very well, I think I’ve harvested two and I have about four out there now.  I’m counting on my tower garden to come through on those.

In all I harvested about 3 dozen tomatoes from my traditional garden, and I had about twenty plants.  I have harvested nearly a dozen from the tower garden and I have seventeen more growing.  The only thing I’ve noticed is that it seems the growing time for the tower garden is longer than the traditional garden.  I did put the tower garden under my step daughters arch from her wedding since it was here and I didn’t want the hot Southern Virginia sun beating down on my tomatoes in the heat of the day.  Oh, I almost forgot!  My basil in the tower garden is still doing great as well.  I have to say my herbs that I grew in dirt this year have done very well.  Next year I plan to grow even more herbs since I have figured out how to grow them now.

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I am really happy with my tower garden so far.  It has really been very little physical work at all.  I check it just about every day, mainly because I sit at the table right next to it every chance I get.  I check to make sure the water level is right, and I check the pH fairly regularly as well.  The tomatoes seem to like the higher pH but the peppers not so much.  It really is quite simple, even when I have to trim the roots back.  The only thing I’m wondering is how am I going to move this inside in the fall?  I’m tempted to build a screened porch that I can close up in the winter just to keep my tower garden growing all year!

 

 

 

 

My Mission

marcia   August 17, 2016   No Comments on My Mission

 

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I think I have known most of my life what my mission is supposed to be, but for some reason I have struggled against it from day one.  It’s hard for me to admit that, but it’s true.  Maybe, I’ve known what my mission was, but I wasn’t prepared to do anything about it until now.  I have to believe there can be easier ways to learn to help other people, but one way is to go through some things yourself and survive.  More than just surviving though, I think it’s important to actually come out of the struggles with more knowledge, more understanding, more wisdom and most importantly more compassion for other people.  I think I may have finally found my way to that place.

I am a woman, but I cannot say I have always been happy about that.  In fact, I still feel frustrated by it at times, but I think I have finally accepted it.  I know, it sounds a little crazy to say that I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a woman, but it has been a struggle for me my whole life.  I have often looked at being a woman as a curse, like I was given an unfair disadvantage right from birth.  Maybe you can relate to that?  I imagine that people of color would agree that sometimes they feel the same way.  We have no choice as to what gender we are born, what color, what ethnic group and some of us even what size we will be; we are just handed who we are and given the choice to accept it or try to change it.  I have spent a good portion of my life trying to change what I was given instead of learning to accept it as a gift.

I know how hard it is to try to prove to people that you are worthy.  I know what it’s like to try to get people to look at you as a person instead of as “just” a woman, with all the stereotypes and judgements that often come along with that.  I worked in construction as an electrician’s helper when men were still saying women should be home “barefoot and pregnant”.  It was not easy proving to those men that I was not that woman, and some were determined not to be convinced.

This morning I was looking at a magazine while I was having my coffee and reading about extraordinary women.  I thought to myself, “I want to be like that.  I want to be making a difference in the lives of other women, showing them that they CAN be whatever they want to be.”  I have tried to strategically talk about how we need to accept ourselves the way we are when I write, but I think I need to be more purposeful.

There are a lot of programs out there that help people lose weight, build muscle and even get healthier.  You might ask, “What is different about you as a health coach in the sea of people out there trying to sell something or even just sell themselves?”  Maybe I’m not all that different.  I know several people who are in the business to help other people lose weight and just feel better about themselves overall.  For instance, there is my friend Charity Talbott who is an ItWorks! representative,  Elizabeth Durden who is a Beach Body health coach, Beth Pulliam who is a ViSalus representative and myself a Juice Plus distributor.  We all have the same basic goal, just different avenues to achieving that goal.  We want women, and men, to learn to accept themselves, love themselves and even facilitate changes that they need to make to get to that point.  I know it is unconventional to advertise for people who you think might be my “competition”, but they are women trying to make a living and trying to make a difference.  Everyone has different goals and not everyone wants to get to their goal the way that I can guide you, so why not share the other options out there?

I can’t speak for my friends, but when I found Juice Plus I was not looking for a way to make money.  I started taking classes to be a health coach in October of 2015, because I wanted to take something I loved and help other people, and I was certainly hoping I would be able to eventually make a living at it.  When I found Juice Plus I fell in love with the idea of whole nutrition in a capsule, because I know I don’t eat enough and my sons don’t eat healthy enough.  Now, as a health coach I also want to share the things that I have learned that can help other people to eat and live healthier.  I have always loved the fitness and health field, ever since I was in high school.  I thought about becoming a coach or gym teacher when I was going to SUNY at Oswego, but I decided I did NOT want to be a teacher!  Now, I find myself in a position where I think I could be a teacher, I just don’t think I was ready back then.  I think it takes a little more time for some of us to figure out where we fit.  Sometimes not fitting is the answer.

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So what does all this have to do with my mission?  I think I’ve finally figured out why I don’t quite fit in anywhere.  I’ve been living my whole life trying to fight a stereotype.  I am a woman, but I’m not the type to wear makeup, or dresses or do my nails.  I like to wear jeans, or lately I’ve found that I love running shorts, they are so comfortable!  I love zumba, but I also like to do a lot of things outdoors like stacking wood or working in my garden.  My true love though is sharing what I’ve learned over the years with other people.  Not just about health and wellness and exercise, although I do love that, but also about who we are as women and how valuable we are just as we are.  Don’t misunderstand.  I am not going to tell you if you are extremely overweight that you should not try to do something to change that.  I do believe we need to accept who we are today in order to be able to decide what changes need to be made for our health and wellness in the future.   We need to learn to care for ourselves completely; not just try to find a way to make the outside look better, although that is one way to care for ourselves.  We need to learn to care for our souls, our hearts and our bodies.  And we need to learn that just because we don’t fit in a mold that other people may fit into, it doesn’t mean that we are less.  We are all amazing, in all shapes, sizes and styles!

My mission has gone from raising my boys to be strong, healthy, compassionate men who will care for the women that will be in their lives to helping women learn how to care for themselves and not expect a man to do that for them.  If we learn to care for ourselves, we will attract the kind of people who will also want to care for us, not in a condescending way, but in an affirming way.  If you are interested in learning more, you can contact me at lifestylemuse@yahoo.com.

Being a woman is not a curse, and we have to work together to change how we view ourselves and how the world views us.  We do not have to work against each other as women to become successful…in fact, working together will make us stronger and healthier and more equipped to share our experiences with others. 

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Paradigm Shift

marcia   August 7, 2016   No Comments on Paradigm Shift

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After a night of arguing/discussing with my husband, and a lot of soul searching, I got up this morning and continued reading.  The book that I’ve been reading is The New Codependency by Melody Beattie.  Two weeks ago I read Co-dependent No More also by Melody Beattie.  To say that these books have had a profound affect on my life would be an understatement.  The word that came to my mind today while I was walking was “paradigm shift”.  I often do some of my best thinking, praying, and listening while I’m walking, especially when I’m walking outdoors.  According to the Cambridge Dictionary a paradigm shift is “A time where the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something change completely.”

Have you ever finally “got” something to the extent that it feels like you just woke up?  Like you’ve been in this weird pseudo life that you didn’t really like, but you didn’t know how to change?  Then suddenly, you know how to change it!  That’s where I am right now.

It is not easy to change the way you think about something, or many things.  Sometimes, most of the time in fact, it takes years even though it seems like it happened “all of a sudden”.  I’m not sure how many years it has taken to get to this point that I am today, maybe all of my forty-eight years.  Maybe the reason I struggled so much when I was in school was because deep down inside I could sense that things were not right.  Maybe deep down I knew I needed to fight against what I was learning, but that was considered wrong, even rebellion.  I had no idea how to talk to people about things that I didn’t understand or agree with, so eventually I adapted, found a way to survive.  The term I have learned for it today is “codependency”.

I would never have labeled myself as a codependent several years ago.  I called it loving, caring, taking care of, helping and supporting the people I love.  Around five or six years ago I started learning about grace and that was a huge revelation for me.  I learned that God loves me no matter what.  He really meant it when He said He would NEVER leave me, and that I didn’t have to DO anything to deserve His love.  Even though I was very happy to learn this, I didn’t instantly change, especially how my thought processes were.  I was listening to Lecrae “Tell the World” while I was walking today.  This song was partly the inspiration for my tattoo on my left upper arm.  Part of the chorus goes “Tell the world you ought to know, I’m Brand New.”  I think the prevailing idea in Christian churches today is that when you get saved, ask Jesus into your heart, you become a new creation.

 

I believe that is true in a sense.  You don’t get a new body, or a new mind though, you do get a new path, a new friend and the ability to start changing your way of thinking.  I wish it was automatic.  Just think of all the kids out there who get saved when they’re five, their parents would never have to really work at anything if they could just get their kids to ask Jesus into their hearts.  It would be awesome if as soon as you recognize your need for a savior and accept Him as such, all the old crap from your past just disappears and you start all over from scratch with all the new mindset, understanding and wisdom to go out and change the world, including your own.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  No one truly changes overnight.  I know there are people out there who were drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. who quit immediately.  Maybe they even quit for good with no relapses, but I am willing to bet that is not the case.  I believe if those people were truly honest they would tell you that they struggled daily and were afraid to tell anyone because they didn’t want to make it seem as thought they were not truly changed.  I’m not saying any of this to put anyone down or to take away from anyone’s testimony.  I just know from personal experience how hard it is to change your way of thinking, processing and believing about yourself.

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Another song I was listening to has been a favorite of mine for a while now, “Need you Now” by Plumb.  This song really expresses how I’ve felt for much of my life.  It starts out, “Everybody’s got  a story to tell, and everybody’s got a wound to be healed…I get so tired of holding on.  I can’t let go I can’t move on.  I wanna believe there’s meaning here.  How many times have you heard me cry out “God please take this”? How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing?”  You know what hit me?  We are always asking God to take the hard things away.  Heal me so I don’t have to be sick, bless me financially so I don’t have to struggle and figure out how to live on less, fix my spouse, brother, sister, friend, etc. so I don’t have to hurt, work through things or learn how to cooperate or compromise.  What if when God is giving us the “strength to just keep breathing” he’s really giving us the strength to learn something?

It may seem silly, but it seems as though we are asking God to make our life perfect, a utopia.  Many religious denominations teach that this is possible; to be completely healed, financially well off, and able to get along in every situation; crisis and conflict free.  We want to be healed of certain diseases while still eating food that is complicating or even causing those diseases.  We want to be able to live the way we want, but still be well.  We want to have financial blessings even though we are terrible with money, we want to be able to spend more than we have, but still have plenty.  We want to express ourselves and our beliefs without any disagreement or conflict from anyone else.  But if we stop and think with a new vision of the world around us, we will realize that it is in the conflicts, crises, and confrontations that we have learned.  We have learned how to set boundaries for ourselves, we have learned how to love and how to be loved (or how not to be loved), we have learned how to empathize with other people and some of us learned how to stuff our feelings, how to ignore our own needs and how to pretend we are fine when our world is collapsing around us.

Many of us try to use this philosophy that we learned from religion on our kids.  We try to shield them from things that might hurt them, we try to control outcomes of certain circumstances, we police them, helicopter parent them and we give in to them so they won’t feel any lack in their lives.  I say “we” because I am guilty of all of this and more.  I didn’t want my sons to feel the pangs of hunger, or the feeling of being the only kid with no new shoes on the first day of school, or what its like not to have enough money.  So I gave too much, helped too much, involved myself too much in what should have been their choices, and taught them that they couldn’t trust themselves.  What that ends up creating is a person who is dependent on you unnecessarily and in an unhealthy way.

Sometimes it’s good to be hungry; it helps you to appreciate good food when you have it.  Sometimes it’s good to not have enough money; it makes you evaluate your wants vs. your needs, or helps you decide what you need to do to improve your situation.  Sometimes it’s even good to be sick, because it helps you appreciate your good health and just maybe evaluate some of your habits as well.  Sometimes sickness is a consequence of our bad choices.

My oldest son, Paul, called me while I was walking and we talked about things going on in our life, the book I’m reading and the changes he is making in his own life.  One thing that I said to him really spoke, even to me.  I told him I can tell him all day every day that he needs to change his habits, whatever they may be.  But if all I ever do is nag him about changing, but never tell him how to change, or at least provide him with some suggestions to work with, what am I really accomplishing?  My husband would say, “He’s old enough, he should know how to change.”  Really?  Because I’m almost 50 and I’m just learning myself.

So, what is the answer?  How do we change?  That answer may be different for you than it is for me, but I will tell you what I need to do.  I need to learn to trust myself first.  I need to believe that I have a good mind and that I can make good decisions on my own.  Not that friends or family can’t be helpful, but I have to learn not to be dependent on someone else affirming what I believe.  This is something that many religions teach, possibly intentionally, that we have to ask for advice from leaders, elders, or someone “more spiritual” than we are  to confirm what we are doing is right.  This is how we become dependent on someone else for what we believe, and that just doesn’t work.

The second thing I have to do is believe that I am complete.  I am whole,  and I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.  This doesn’t mean that I am supposed to stay where I am necessarily, just that it is where I am supposed to be this moment.  I have to learn to listen to my heart as well as my body to know if changes need to be made and then find the resources to help me make that change.

I need to learn to accept that everything really can work out for my good.  There is a Bible verse that says, “And we know that all things work together for good….” I need to get to a place where I can find the good, the lesson learned, the experiences gained in everything in my life.  Not everything that happens in our lives can be classified as “good”, but if we look hard enough we can find the good that has come out of it.

Just to clarify, I know nobody wakes up one morning to a paradigm shift and everything is rosy from then on.  What can happen and what I hope will happen, is that I can go on starting today, looking at my life as a long string of learning experiences.  Some will be pleasant, some will be painful, but I plan to learn what I can from all of them.  I also plan on feeling everything.  No more being numb, pretending or acting like things are fine when they’re not.  The emotions God gave us were meant to alert us to good, danger, or things that need to change.  We need to learn this, recognize our feelings and accept them; use them for what they are meant for and then move on.  Melody calls this the “catch and release system” for our emotions.  Feel them, then let them go.

I have learned a lot in the last few years.  I thought that grace meant you just love everyone, forgive everyone, and let them learn by you loving them no matter what, basically affirming my codependent lifestyle.  I thought that we are supposed to love like Jesus loves, but he showed us love as only he can love.  He is the only one who can hold us through the consequences, and perfectly love us while we are learning without removing the consequences from us.  I am learning that Grace is there to help us get through the hard things, to help us stand up for ourselves and others if need be, to give us the strength to step back and allow others to go through the hard stuff too, so they can experience grace themselves.  The grace I receive is for me, I can’t give it to someone else, they have to experience it or it will not be of any value to them.  The truth is, if nothing was ever hard, if we never got sick, if we never had a crisis or conflict, what would we need Grace for?

 

 

Serious about my health

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I am pretty serious about my health, I always have been.  When I was young, maybe even as early as 5 years old, I started having headaches.  Back then there wasn’t a lot of information in our circle about migraines, but as I’ve gotten older I believe they were migraine headaches.  My mother has said that I would come inside from playing and lay on the couch and cry because my head would hurt so bad.  She would try to get me to stop crying because it only made it worse, but as a small child you can’t always understand how that works.  My mother and grandmother tried to research and find out what could be causing the headaches, they thought maybe allergies, but my grandmother passed away when I was 13 before really finding out what was causing my headaches.  We didn’t go to the doctor all the time, which I’m thankful for today, so we didn’t have a lot of tests done or take any prescriptions.  I remember taking Tylenol to school with me as early as 10 or 11 years old, just so I could get through the day.

When I was around 21 or 22, maybe even when I gave birth to my oldest son, my headaches seemed to lessen.  I had spent a good share of my teen years starving myself so that I could lose weight, so it’s very likely that nutrition had a part in causing the headaches.  As I got older, I noticed that certain times of the month the headaches would appear for a few days and it was my father who introduced me to Excedrin for Migraines.  I literally lived on that stuff for a while.  Fortunately for me, if I caught the headache early, the Excedrin would usually kick in (especially if I drank a cup of coffee with it) after about 30 minutes and I could feel sort of human.

I also struggled with joint pain from a very young age.  My paternal grandmother had crippling arthritis, so I guess I just assumed I was going to have arthritis as well, so I just accepted it.  I started taking ibuprofen on a pretty regular basis starting in my late teens.

Even though I was experiencing quite a bit of pain, I never liked the idea of taking prescription medication.  When I gave birth to my first son I planned to have him naturally, without any medication.  Unfortunately we had to have an emergency C-section so natural didn’t happen, but even when I came home from the hospital and they wanted to prescribe me something for pain I didn’t want to take it.  When I had both of my bunions removed at the same time they gave me some sort of pain prescription which I took the very first day.  It made me sleep so much I decided to stop taking it.  I have a hard time understanding how people can get addicted to something that just makes them sleep all the time.  I totally understand being so depressed that you would rather sleep, but I am just way too active for that.  Exercise definitely does more for me than sleeping does.

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My point in all this is that I really hate prescription medicine for anything.  There are too many adverse side effects and most of the time you’re only masking the symptoms.  So, about a year ago I began researching a diet that would help with inflammation and pain so that I could live a life that reflected how young I feel, even if I’m not really that young. 🙂  The very best diet for inflammation, pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and many other ailments and diseases is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lean meats (preferably poultry and fish), nuts, grains and beans.  The Mediterranean diet is a great example of this type of diet.  I started trying to implement the Mediterranean diet as soon as possible, but I found it was really difficult to get enough fruits and vegetables in my diet.  I love fruits and vegetables, but I just couldn’t eat enough of them.

After I started eating more fruits and vegetables I noticed a change in my headaches.  I was getting them much less frequently.  Then I found Juice Plus.  Juice Plus is a capsule or a gummy that you take every day.  It is not a vitamin.  It is whole fruits and vegetables, including the skin and seeds.  This is a quote from an article I read today:

Research shows that 90% of a fruit’s or vegetable’s antioxidant power is in the peel or just below the skin. Does your supplement contain the peel, skin and pulp? More importantly, is it safe to take these isolated supplements in a pill rather than as part of the food they naturally occur in? Or could there be side effects from taking them in a way that is not natural to our body?

The naturally occurring compounds in whole foods allow the body to identify the nutrients, thus the body can use what it needs and discard or store any excess of the nutrients.

Since I started taking Juice Plus in April of this year, I can count on one hand how many migraines I’ve had.  The few headaches that I’ve had have been very mild and I think I have only taken Excedrin twice.  I have not taken any ibuprofen for pain in over 6 months.  For those who don’t know me very well, this might not seem like a very big deal, but I was taking ibuprofen every 4 hours while I was awake pretty much daily.  I no longer struggle with sciatica pain, I have minimal (almost non-existent) migraines, and very little joint pain.  I do occasionally have muscle pain related to zumba, walking or other exercise that I have implemented into my life to reduce the amount of time I am sitting at my desk.

I share all this with you because I believe in Juice Plus.  I believe in a healthy diet with exercise, and I believe that people can and should be healthy.  We can all take control of our own health if we really want to. It isn’t always easy.  I know trying to change our diets in the world of fast food and eating out more than we eat at home can be difficult.  If I had the money to open a fresh fast food restaurant I would do it in a minute.  We need more healthy options out there!  For now, I am going to keep telling people about Juice Plus and I’m going to keep buying it for my family, because I know it works!

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If you want more information about the health benefits of Juice Plus, including helping with symptoms from chemo therapy and other cancer related side effects, check out my website at m-t4.juiceplus.com or email me at lifestylemuse.net with any questions you may have.

Today

marcia   July 27, 2016   No Comments on Today

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It seems to be a common theme lately in the things I’ve been reading that we just have to learn to live in today.  I think all of our lives we’re taught to plan for the future in one way or another.  From the time we are born our parents are thinking way ahead so they can help us figure out what we’re supposed to do with the rest or our lives.  When we are in school, we wish time would go by faster so we can get home and play, watch tv, play video games, or talk to our friends.  When we are at work, unless we really love our jobs, we’re wishing we could get home to do all those things we want to do at home.

Looking back I have found that most stages of my life I have wished I could be at a different stage.  Especially when I’m going through something really difficult, I wish it would pass, I wish for better days, hope for things to improve.  The problem with that view of life is that we are always looking for something else, something other than what we have right now.  The truth is, all we have is right now.  There is no guarantee that tomorrow will even come, but we wish for things, hope for things and dream about what could be.  Obviously, dreaming, hoping and believing are a very necessary and important part of life.  The problem comes in when we don’t take care of today, because we’re too busy worrying about, or planning for tomorrow.

I can remember when my first husband and I were struggling financially.  I had a budget figured out that would help us get out of debt and hopefully save some money.  Each week I would look at the bills that needed to be paid and figure out how much of the paycheck had to go to each bill.  All week long I waited for that paycheck so I could pay those bills and mark one more thing of my list.  Then payday would come, I would go to the bank, pay the bills and get a few groceries and then I would start waiting for the next paycheck.  It was a sad routine, not one I would wish on anyone.

Its easy to tell someone to stop trying to live in the future and live in today, but its a little harder to actually do it.  We need to make some plans, have some goals and dream about the future, we just can’t live there.  If you have kids, you know how hard it is not to be thinking way into the future and trying to figure out how to help them get where they (or maybe just we) want to go.

I’ll be honest with you.  I haven’t mastered this living in today yet.  I’m still working on it, and I have to keep reminding myself to do it.  I like making lists and marking things off, I like setting goals and reaching them, and I like having a plan, but more than that I want to actually enjoy the little unplanned things that happen.  Like selling my car yesterday after trying for over a year with no success.  Now I have to find another car a little quicker than I anticipated, but I am looking forward to enjoying the experience and trying not to rush it by.  Hopefully I will even find a car that I really like, so I don’t keep wishing for a different one.

My youngest son will be a junior in high school this fall and I distinctly remember wishing he would get out of the terrible twos!  Now I find myself wishing he would slow down a little.  I think as we get older, we all wish things would slow down a little.  My best advice is, try to enjoy today.  Try not to numb yourself to the problems, or the pain or the difficulties.  Try to learn from them the best you can and experience everything life has for you.  The more you learn to accept that today is all you really have, the easier it will be to actually enjoy it and the easier it will be to let other people enjoy it, too. Let your kids be kids today, learn to laugh at the silly things that they find funny.    Let yourself live and feel and experience every moment that comes to you.  If you don’t like how things are going, figure out how to change it.  If you do like how your life is going right now, find a way to keep things that way.

Most of all, take care of yourself today.  Do the things today that will help make you healthier, stronger, happier and wiser.  Read that book you’ve been meaning to read.  Take that walk, or go buy that kayak you’ve been talking about.  Call that person you really want to talk to, but haven’t had the nerve to contact yet.  Do the very best thing you can for yourself today, and then tomorrow you can do it all again.

 

Iced Coffee & Relationships

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Some days I just wish things were easy.  Well, let’s be honest, most days I wish things were easy, but they rarely are easy.  It would have been easier to stop at Sheetz or McDonald’s (yuk) on my way home from work today instead of buying a bag of ice and coming home and making my own iced coffee.  I have figured out though, that I really prefer my own iced coffee and it’s much less expensive than most places.  I know it seems like a silly reference, but I love coffee, and especially iced coffee on a hot afternoon, so coffee it is.

My life right now is very mixed up.  I’m trying to learn as much as I can so I can help people learn how to live more healthy.  I’m trying to share about Juice Plus as often as I can so I can help as many people as I can to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet.  I’m trying to exercise myself, as well as teach other people how to get active and move more.  Even more than all that, in the last several years I have been trying to figure out who I am.  And now, in the midst of all this (and more), my marriage is seriously on the rocks.  My family is hurting and my husband and I are trying to figure out where we go from here, but more importantly, HOW we go from here.

I was talking to my sister yesterday and she said something that really stuck with me.  She said if you don’t know how, you can learn.  Seems so simple, but it’s true.   And to learn, sometimes you have to find someone smarter, or maybe just more experienced than you and be willing to learn from them. It’s hard to admit when you’ve allowed things to get so bad that you just don’t want to deal with them anymore.  It’s even harder to admit that you’ve known things were bad for a long time and you just weren’t willing to do what you needed to in order to make things right.  We all get that way sometimes.

Really everything in life can be related to our relationships and iced coffee.  When you let things go in a relationship, it starts to get unhealthy, but you don’t always get it taken care of right away.  Then eventually, things get so unhealthy that you wonder if you shouldn’t just scrap it and start over.  Lots of people have allowed their bodies to get to a point that they are unhealthy and they either don’t know how to get better or they’re not willing to make the changes it will take to get healthy again.  So, they go for the quick fix and get a prescription, hoping it will make them feel better, and for a while it does.  But eventually they realize they are spending a lot of money on medications that really aren’t fixing the problem, they are really only masking the symptoms.  Most people realize, even if they don’t want to admit it, that unless you get to the core problem, you’ll never really be healthy.  It’s true of your physical health and its true in the health or your relationships.  In both cases, it takes a lot of determination and dedication to make the changes that are necessary for healing.  In the case of relationships, all of the people involved really have to be committed to making changes or the relationship(s) will not survive.  Fortunately, when it comes to our bodies, we are the only ones who really have to be committed to making the changes.

How does all this relate to iced coffee?  Well, if I stop on my way home from work and get iced coffee from somewhere, nine times out of ten I’m going to be disappointed.  It takes a little more time and effort on my part to come home and make it myself, but it is so much better.  I am rarely ever disappointed in my own iced coffee.

Even at my age, I realize that I have a lot to learn about relationships.  I am still learning about myself, who I am, who I want to be, and where I’m going.  I am willing to take the time to learn more about how I can improve, what I need to do to have better relationships, and what it’s going to take for my marriage to survive what seems to be a major shipwreck.  I am also willing to learn what it’s going to take to be healthy, both physically and emotionally, and I’m willing to commit to doing what it takes.  I know it won’t be easy.  Sometimes I will probably feel like giving up, scrapping it and starting over, and I’ll probably feel like running away sometimes.  The truth is, there are lots of times in life that I have run away, scrapped it and started over and even quit, but the best results come from sticking with it, working hard, and seeing things through. It takes more work, but it really is better in the long run.

I know this is really kind of personal, but I think that sometimes we have to share who we really are with each other.  I don’t have it all together.  Sometimes I don’t eat right, some days I just don’t feel like exercising, and some days I’m not as nice as I wish I was, but I keep at it.  Sometimes it just helps to know that we are all in this together, and we can help encourage each other and try to be positive, even when things don’t look all that positive.  There is a writer that I follow, Glennon Doyle Melton, who says, “We can do hard things” and it’s true.  We CAN do hard things, especially if we do them together.

My Juice Plus Story

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I would like to share my “Juice Plus story” with you.

I wish I could say that I have had a dramatic, life changing experience since starting to take Juice Plus, but I have to be honest and say the changes are not miraculous…yet.  The truth is, I’ve always been really obsessed about my weight and my health, so taking Juice Plus for me was a no-brainer.  I mean, I love vegetables, but I just don’t eat a lot, so I know I don’t get my 9-13 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  On top of that, my teeth are extremely sensitive to fruit for some reason.  I used to tell my mom that my teeth felt “squeaky” after I ate grapes, “squeaky” doesn’t really cover how it feels, I just couldn’t come up with any other way to describe it.  Fingernails on a chalkboard is more how I would describe it today.

My journey to finding Juice Plus is a little more interesting maybe.  A little over a year ago, I was struggling with sciatica pain.  I had been accustomed to working a very physical job for about 8 years and then I got a promotion which required me to sit at a desk for most of the day.  I am not ashamed to admit to you that I have never liked sitting, I have always been very active and busy (just ask my mom).  Needless to say, after a couple of years of sitting for most of my work days, and not getting the exercise I was previously used to, I started experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms.  I was taking ibuprofen like my life depended on it and when that wasn’t working I was adding acetaminophen to the mix.  I was taking vitamins, all kinds of herbs and trying to eat right, but none of that seemed to be helping much.

My husband and I took a trip to Alabama for some training related to his job and stopped off to see my oldest sister (the clothing designer: see mjcreates) and I was in so much pain I was in tears.  She suggested that I find an herbal solution that would treat internal hemorrhoids.  I was like, “I don’t have hemorrhoids”.   But I was in pain and I had tried everything else, so why not?  Well, I will tell you it worked.  I found some great herbal anti-inflammatory capsules (Hem-B-Gone) and after taking two rounds of them, I have not had sciatica pain since.  This revelation caused me to really start searching out the influence of inflammation on my body.  I started researching diets that dealt specifically with reducing inflammation, and guess what?  All of the diets I found that help reduce inflammation focus on consuming more fruit and vegetables, more seafood, and less meat (specifically pork and fatty beef).  This in turn got me interested in becoming a health coach.  I mean, people need this, right?

In my quest to become a health coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, I became familiar with Juice Plus.  Dr. Sears himself takes it and recommends it as one of the only supplements he takes (he is a colon cancer survivor as well).  So through the process of becoming a health coach, researching a diet that would help me reduce inflammation in my body and coming across Juice Plus, I found that I was no longer taking ibuprofen, at all!  It wasn’t that I just reduced the amount of ibuprofen I was taking, I had stopped needing it at all, ever.  As of today, I really cannot remember the last time I took it, but it has been several months!  Now, in fairness, I had stopped taking the ibuprofen before I started taking Juice Plus, but I had changed my eating habits drastically already and I had started going to zumba at least twice a week and I was going to the gym.

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The important thing I want to share with you about all this is that I have taken ibuprofen for years.  Not just for my sciatica pain, which only started a few years ago, but for joint pain that I have experienced for much of my adult life.  I thought it was just something I was going to have to learn to live with.  Most people will tell you, once you turn 40 everything starts to fall apart.  I just don’t believe that anymore.  I believe you can stay healthy for your entire life, you don’t have to get sick and broken down, or you don’t have to stay that way if you already are.

Some people don’t like vegetables and fruits, like my sixteen year old son, Isaac.  My husband can’t stand most green vegetables, and my oldest son is pretty choosy as to what vegetables he will eat, too.  And unfortunately, all of my family loves fast food, except me.  So, I make sure I have Juice Plus for them to take every day, because I believe it will help by providing nutrition where they are definitely lacking.  Our bodies need the nutrients that fruit and vegetables provide and they just don’t operate optimally without them.  It has always been difficult to get my son, Isaac, to take any type of vitamin or supplement at all, but since I have been buying Juice Plus, he takes them every day religiously (you can get them in capsules or gummies).

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One reason is because we are doing the Juice Plus Children’s Health Study.  I buy my Juice Plus and get his free, so I have to fill out some information about once every three months to document the changes I’m noticing.  He has asthma and allergies and has had trouble with having to have tubes in his ears since he was 9, so I’m hoping to see definite changes in those areas.  They say it takes about four months to notice a difference, so we’re about half way there.

One thing I will tell you for sure I’ve noticed since I started taking Juice Plus is that my hot flashes have nearly stopped altogether.  I was having hot flashes during the day, at night, it was incessant. Within only a month after starting Juice Plus I noticed all of a sudden that I was not getting hot flashes anymore.  If you are a woman going through menopause and have experienced hot flashes, you know that it is worth almost anything to get them to stop.  I can’t say this will work for anyone else, but it has for me.  I feel a lot more energetic since starting the Juice Plus as well.  I used to feel like I was going to fall asleep at my computer every day after lunch, but I haven’t had that happen in a while.

It’s true, I was pretty healthy already when I started taking Juice Plus, but I also really love to eat vegetables and chicken and healthy foods. I don’t eat a lot of sweets and I try to get my exercise.  Juice Plus is not a magic pill that makes it so you can eat whatever you want and not have to get up and move, but it is an asset to an already improving lifestyle. I sincerely recommend it!

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Since I wrote this post my oldest son has decided to start taking Juice Plus as well.  He told me yesterday morning that he noticed a difference almost immediately.  He said he felt the energy that he used to get from drinking an energy drink, only without the crash.  He is also trying to quit smoking, so I will keep you updated on his progress.

My tower garden

marcia   July 13, 2016   No Comments on My tower garden

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This is my new Tower Garden!  I got it last week and I decided to document my progress in putting it together, planting the seeds and growing my own fresh vegetables.  When it comes, it’s in a very large box, but it’s not terribly heavy so you can move it around pretty well where you want it.

tower on table

This is everything that was in the Tower Garden box.  It looks like a lot, but it’s really pretty simple to put together.  I did it all in about 30 minutes or so.

tower set up

I will say it is a little bigger than I pictured, but still easy enough to move around and light enough to pick up and move myself if I need to.  I took it to a vendor fair last weekend and it wasn’t all that difficult to transport.

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This is right after I planted the seeds.  I have them in the house to start with, after they get big enough I will put them in the tower garden and hopefully put them out on my front porch.

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After only a few days, I already have sprouts!  Mostly the lettuces have sprouted, but I’m sure in just a few days my tomatoes and eggplant and peppers will be coming up as well!   As soon as they are big enough to transplant into the tower garden, I will post more pictures!!!

This past weekend, May 13, 2016, I worked on setting up my tower garden with the plants in it and got my raised garden weeded out and planted.

tower garden set up

It took me about an hour to get the water in the base, add the proper amount of minerals, and then test the ph and get it set up correctly.  Then just a few minutes to put the plants in the mesh pots and turn it on.  I tried to choose a spot in my front yard where it will get sun, but not too much of the hot afternoon sun.  Then, last night the temps got down to 34 degrees.  I’m hoping when I get home today my plants are still alive.  Also on Friday, I spent several hours getting the weeds out of my raised garden and then finally planting my raised garden.

full garden weeds

garden partially weeded

garden weeded

garden planted

For anyone who has ever prepared and planted a garden, you know just how much work it is.  It takes time and a lot of effort to get all the weeds out and then run the tiller one more time.  My husband usually does the tilling, but this time I really wanted to get the garden in on Friday, so I did it myself.  He makes it look a lot easier than it is, I can tell you that much.  The end result is that I have 36 plants in my raised garden.  I have 2 zucchini squash plants, 4 yellow squash, 3 different types of peppers (6 plants in all), one mini eggplant and the rest are tomatoes.  All of this is planted in approximately 160 square feet  of dirt.  I also have 20 plants in my tower garden (if they survived the cold last night) including eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and basil and the tower garden only takes up about 2 square feet.

I really enjoy getting out and working in the yard, I welcome the exercise, but I know there are some people who cannot get out and work in a garden.  And there are people who don’t have the space to grow a garden as well.  People in some states really struggle with being able to water their gardens, so quite often they don’t even try to grow their own food.  These situations are where the tower garden is so helpful.  The initial investment in water is only 20 gallons, and over time you will  need to add more a little at a time.  The investment in the tower garden itself may seem a little pricey at first, but when you can harvest all year it really does pay for itself.  I am looking forward to having fresh tomatoes growing in my house all year long, so I don’t have to buy those bland, flavorless tomatoes you get in the grocery store anymore. To find out more information about the tower garden, you can visit my website at m-t4.towergarden.com.

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This is how my plants look today.  I did lose the original seedlings to the very cold night we had unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago.  I bought new plants at the farm market and washed all the dirt off the roots and planted them in the tower garden.  They are growing very well and I actually already have a tiny tomato growing already.  I can’t wait to see how quickly they grow.  My dirt garden is doing very well also! (May 30, 2016)

I thought it may be time for an update on the tower garden.  I spent a couple of hours the last two nights weeding my dirt garden and staking up my tomatoes.  I will say they have gotten a little out of hand.  Here in Southern Virginia it has been a little cooler the last two days so I was thankful for that, but it was still pretty hot.  I thought it would be funny to share that I spent several hours working on my dirt garden and then I spent about 10 minutes checking the ph on my tower garden (which was perfect, by the way) and looking over my plants.  The tower garden plants are not as thick as the ones in the garden, but they look very healthy and I have a few tomatoes already.

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I’m really looking forward to comparing the harvest when I start getting tomatoes and peppers.  My basil on the tower garden is looking really great!  I will have to discipline myself to count how many I get each time or I’ll forget to compare!  (updated 6/10/2016)

Ready for the weekend!

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I am really looking forward to the 4th of July weekend!  We don’t usually have or go to big cookouts or parties, but I know a lot of people do.  It’s really difficult to stay on track around the holidays!  Even if I am just home for a much needed day off, I have to be careful not to forget all about the habits I’ve begun to form.  I have some holiday weekend advice for you!  Don’t stress about it!

I know you’re probably thinking, “Don’t stress about it!?! I’ll gain five pounds if I don’t stress about it!”  I’m not saying don’t be mindful of what you’re eating, I’m just saying don’t make it the focal point of your weekend.

I think in so many areas of our lives we sabotage our own plans by focusing so much on the things we want to change.  For people who want to quit drinking, all they think about is NOT drinking. People who want to cut back, diet, start eating better, all they think about is food.  If you’re trying to quit smoking, what is always on your mind???  DON’T smoke!  Am I right?

So what if this weekend, instead of focusing on what you’re not supposed to eat, you try focusing on spending time with people you love.  Try making a more conscious effort to talk to people, and enjoy every bit of what you experience.  Savor the foods that you do eat, don’t just mindlessly eat them.  Try to spend more time in face to face conversation with the people in the room instead of looking at your phone to see who said what on facebook, twitter or instagram.  I honestly think that we eat and drink too much when we are not paying attention to what we are doing.

Take the time this weekend to really enjoy everything.  Experience everything you can, and be intentional about what you experience.  I think you will find that if you just focus on having a good time and stop focusing on all the things you shouldn’t eat, drink, do, you will do the right things naturally.  You’ve been working hard to make new habits, just have faith in yourself that you will keep on the right track!  Have a great 4th of July and try to relax and have fun!