livelonglove

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thanks-being

what better month to reflect on our blessings than November ~ the month of Thanksgiving.
I’ve even noticed a recent trend online of people posting what they’re thankful for daily.
they call it “A month of Thanks”; publicly declaring their gratitude and sharing sentiments with friends.

I definitely admire this idea but wonder how we would all benefit from living in an attitude of gratitude.
not just a particular day, or even month, but a year-long mental posture.

I’ve tried to initiate this in my life, myself. I realized that the longer I dwelled on my unfortunate circumstances, or those of the world (however temporary or permanent), the worse I felt. its like conscientiously choosing to sit in a tub of poisonous liquid- making the choice to marinate in what harms you.

instead, we have the power to choose thoughts which uplift us.
purposely conjuring thoughts of the little things in life that make you smile can radically change your perspective.
I think of a man who I heard speak of the incredible joy he felt when greeting his family after a long day of hard work– even though he lived in poverty and desolate conditions. regardless of the unfair hand dealt to him, he chose to live in happiness when reflecting on the things in life he felt grateful for.

so here we examine the interesting nature of the human mind.
despite physical stress, a person can fight through and endure if they simply alter their mental outlook.
how encouraging! if people can triumph over severe illness, financial setbacks, and heartbreak, just imagine what daily stresses we can easily blow away.

better yet, imagine the nirvana, the gentle inner peace, that awaits you on the other side of eternal thankfulness.
remaining unscathed by the rough elements swirling around you, you stand calm, serene, and smile.

remember: the way you view your world, your circumstances, is the way you view God… the way you view the universe. are experiences aligning only to plot your demise or are they random yet purposeful opportunities available to your benefit? as you step back and give thanks for these events, you are blessed with the opportunity to give back to the world around you, continuing the cycle.

let go and trust.

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the art of retraction

In the midst of what appears to be a mild, seasonal cold and accompanying pre-winter blues, I realized I was overdue for retraction. No, nothing major or surgical, just a minor modification I let slip by for quite some time.

Down at the bottom of my self-dug pit, I felt utterly frustrated and increasingly alone. Yes, things truly weren’t that bad: I had sniffles and missed 2 days at work. Yes, in all reality, my temporary sickness was merely a speck in the grand rotation of our world. Yet I had manipulated these events to somehow represent a death in my life; I allowed my emotions to slope downwards and magnify this insignificance into something much greater.

The end result? Catapulting myself -just me- to a platform far higher than anyone else.
I really could have cared less for anyone else in those moments; I was only looking out for #1.
And therein lies the problem.

On reflection, I began to discover a trend of further and further isolation from people and communities around me. Even if I did attend events or occasions with the ones I loved, I noted my stinging, silent resentment towards my presence there. I felt more concerned with selfish desires; more focused on items, consumption, and gluttony. More concerned with pouring into myself than those around me.

And the more I gave into that childish voice, the less connected I felt to my universe.
While I could occasionally satisfy my endless list of wants, I was never truly satisfied.
So hand-in-hand as always, my emotional and physical energies dwindled.

I am officially retracting myself… from myself.
While it’s important to know and love yourself as much as possible, one should never lose sight of beaming light and love into the lives of those around them. How important this is to the progression of life! We are all equal members of an eternally cycling universe; you give as much as you take. Or in the Beatles’ eloquent words, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

The minor modifications are as follows:
– Less time on digital devices (obviously excluded for the viewing/sharing of an uplifting documentary: “Happy” and of course, writing this…)
+ More time outside of the home, basking in gorgeous sunbeams
+ More personal time with the ones I love
+ More effort into conversation, eye contact, and warm embraces
– Less focus on the things I don’t have
+ More gratitude for the splendor I do have
+ More communal outreaches (tonight’s “Trunk-or-treat” for the kids and this weekend’s visit to a homeless shelter, for example)

Sweet, simple gestures that absolutely result in flourishing joy.
I am so, so grateful for Love and the world around me.
(and you!)

balance

in line with my previous post, I’ve been attempting to select what I eat carefully to achieve optimum health: choosing nourishing over harmful (or of no benefit).

while I’ve succeeded at this in some areas, I’m nowhere near expert in healthy living.
I definitely still fall prey to carb comas: bread, cheese, creams, you name it (I love it).
for example: give me a grilled cheese sandwhich paired with fries smothered in sour cream and I’ll be your best friend. (though I’m not sure these are the type of friends I need…)

a “cheat day” here and there isn’t terrible -and actually provides an essential kickstart to the metabolism- but I really need to get back to where I used to be, healthwise. I really miss the days where I’d run 7-9 miles every other day and nosh on healthy but satisfying meals. I felt clean, vibrant, and truly happy.

you know why? its all about balance.
our universe provides an intriguing mix of ups and downs, predictable and absolute curveballs, good times and bad, all to illustrate the hidden network of both fate and choice. while some things prove inevitable, we still possess the enviable power to pick and choose the majority of our reactions and futher actions to these circumstances. therefore, persuing balance in all areas of life brings ultimate contentment.

I have already begun my journey to spiritual rejuvenation so now its time I address the physical.
I tend to reap the best results by creating concrete goals and mapping them out to myself; in other words, if I don’t clearly see it, black-and-white, I probably won’t remember to do it… or feel motivated to.

I’ve decided to start journaling my daily meals and snacks (no matter how awful) and planning out workouts/cardio, too. being able to review these actions both mentally and in print will usher in a sense of accountability to me.

since I began yesterday, September the 4th, I will have to do my best at guessing what I had these past few days. here goes:

Saturday, Sep. 1:
Breakfast: cereal (Smart Start) with plain soy milk, banana, and 12oz coffee w/creamer.
Lunch: Pluckers ;x oy vey. I had fried mushrooms, fried pickles, lemon-garlic wings, fries, and a drink. oops!
Dinner: home-made skillet potatoes & beef/cheese crescent rolls. this was my attempt at “Saturday football” food, haha.
Workout: 1 hour of yoga 🙂 love it!

Sunday, Sep. 2:
Breakfast: cereal, soy milk, banana, 12oz coffee w/creamer.
Snack: 2 small pieces of chocolate.
Lunch: Joe’s Crab Shack :p I had a steampot (crab, mussels, scallops with potatoes & corn) and a drink. this wasn’t too bad until we decided to get dessert: death by chocolate ;x
Dinner: pan-fried salmon with potatoes and fruit… dipped in cream.
Workout: yep… none. though I personally feel like a day of rest should be observed on Sundays.

Monday, Sep. 3: this was a hectic day because I had to work then go to 2 meetings…
Breakfast: egg roll, potatoes, boiled egg.
Lunch: 2 chicken strips, small fries, small salad, water.
Snack: Mate (Argentian tea) and 2 small pastries.
Later snack (LOL): 1/2 avocado filled w/tuna.
Dinner: 1/4 fried pickles, 1/4 smothered fries, 1/2 burger, 1/2 milkshake (hey, there was a lot of sharing at this time- heh).
Workout: none ;x should have, though!

Tuesday, Sep. 4:
Breakfast: 8 z coffee w/creamer, potatoes, 3 strips bacon, 12oz water.
Lunch: small (kid’s size) cheese pizza, 1/2 cup fruit, 12oz chocolate milk, 12 oz cup of water.
Snack: 1/2 cup fruit.
Dinner: broiled chicken, brown rice w/soy sauce, salad, and chopped banana in ice cream for dessert.
Workout: ran 2 miles in 90 degree heat 🙂 it was tough but I’m just glad I did it.

on top of scheduling a workout everyday (either cardio, weights, or yoga) I’m going to go ahead and finish my bottle of Oxyelite Pro. might as well, right?

cheers to living your best life!

nourishing your temple

ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? I’m sure most, if not all, of us have.
a phrase often drilled into our head to methodically avoid infamous ‘bad’ food (i.e.: fast food), the notion can ironically drive us to actually indulging these not-so-healthy meals as we eventually view them as ‘treats’.
you know what I’m talking about; I worked hard~ I deserve a big mealI had a rough day!~ I’m going to down a pint of ice creamIts my birthday~ fried-food-city here I come!

I’m certainly not innocent of this. last week, upon the conclusion of my week of clinicals, I splurged on a huge grilled cheese sandwich, french fries, and frappucino for lunch. whoa. though it was mighty delicious at the time, I came home and absolutely crashed on the couch. I found myself utterly depleted of energy and concern for the day– I bombed. turns out that meal wasn’t exactly the fuel my body needed to charge up and keep going.

though the art of enjoying fine food and drinks in celebration greatly adds to life’s pleasure, caution should be practiced to avoid eating as a mindless ritual of sorts; one where you simply eat to get full or temporarily entertain the taste buds (but harm the body overall). furthermore, we should remember to view what we put into our bodies as a step in the continuation of the circle of our existence. in other words, it helps to visualize the entire, beautiful process: you pick a carrot, you chew it (which strengthens your teeth), it dissolves in your stomach which adds essential nutrients to your body, and once expelled (hey, this is a natural process) the process starts all over again, somewhere off in another part of the planet.

now, think of the junk we tend to fill our bodies with.
over-processed, fake, gluttonous foods- things which not only serve no nutritional value but actually deteriorate our health at an alarming rate. the proof is in the pudding (no pun intended): eat a fattening meal and you will eventually feel drained- and crash. your body cries out for, absolutely craves, real energy; real food.

Sarah Beyer, of Flowmotion Yoga, says this:
“When we feel great, we act great and look great! As simple as it may sound; I have learned from personal experience that when we fuel our bodies with whole, natural food sources, the difference is unbelievable.”
and how much so! when I stock our kitchen with whole grains, tons of fresh (locally grown) fruits and veggies, and farm-raised meats, my body responds in tune. I feel energized, happy, clean, and revitalized.

I certainly do not support the martyr approach of denying yourself but definitely recognize the difference; it is significant. perhaps it takes an ounce of additional effort, but seek out nutritional, delicious foods. think Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market, etc. healthy does not have to translate to “not-yummy” 😉 its all about planning– if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. use some creativity in the kitchen! there are tons of resources, both online and through television, offering tasty, healthy recipes. art carries over into this arena.

we are blessed with one body per person; it is all we have and it is our responsibility to care for it. this is our sacred temple and we should nourish it accordingly. so the phrase carries truth; we really are what we eat. I want to shine, to glow, to live vibrantly.

speaking light

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Funny how the old adage rings true in most of life’s occasions. The words we speak carry such weight that with age and wisdom, most people learn to pursue a held tongue over a constant stream of negativity. Of course, in today’s society, this admirable ability is often easier said than done (no pun intended).

As technology and scientific breakthrough soars leaps and bounds, the human race assumes an insatiable “here-and-now” mentality; if someone or something fails to meet this criterion, prepare for the backlash. Word-of-mouth travels quickly and it seems that gossiping and criticizing resonates in numbers. If utilized for the practical task of properly informing others of a faulty business or warn of questionable character, these constructive criticisms serve their purpose. Flying off at the handle, however, only creates an atmosphere of negativity and division- no true production.

On the flip side, words of encouragement always garner growth. Plant a seed in someone and watch it grow into something great and beautiful, time and time again. In times of distress, these few and simple words truly touch the soul of another. These words light something internal, something beyond our basic range of vision.

Hence the term ‘speaking light’- allowing thoughts of pure love and enlightenment to flow from your lips and into the spirit of another. Whether uplifting a total stranger, deciding to hold back hastily chosen words, or pouring into the lives of those around you, these words carry so much potential. I often marvel at the way we (myself included) follow the tendency to occasionally knick at our loved ones by casually criticizing or harping on their inconsistencies instead of showing gratitude for their presence with daily praise and support. What a shame! You reap what you sow: the daily nagging only creates an environment of resentment while continual appreciation strengthens a relationship. Imagine how much more beautiful our friendships, families, marriages, and workplaces would be if we could agree to practice this as much as possible.

So where do you start? Hard-wired habits seem difficult to break; if even possible.
Below are some of my personal tips to kicking the ‘negative Nancy’ speech:
– before criticizing the people I love, I carefully consider what I’m about to say, if it’s truly necessary, and all the good about that person
– I try to tell the people I’ve been blessed with that I love them, daily
– in group settings, I think before speaking on anything negative or condescending (i.e.: needless complaining)
– I attempt to smile and offer a simple ‘hello’ to strangers and entertain conversation if possible (random conversation teaches me so much about our wonderful world)

And as silly as this may sound to some, I even seek a daily conversation of uplifting with myself. Its far too easy to tumble into self-defeating thoughts like, “I can’t do this” or “That’s just too difficult for me” when life gets tough. Ironically, we are the only and only person who can ever hold us back– if we choose to. We have the power to believe in ourselves, propelling us to incredible heights and success. It all boils down to believing in ourselves. I remind myself that I am truly beautiful -inside and out-, I’m intelligent, I’m worthy of love, I’m kind, I’m destined to a brilliant life, and I am a masterpiece of our great Creator (as we all are). The trick is simply realizing that conviction and living on it!

To whoever may be reading this, I just want you to know that you too are an incredible person, no matter what you may have done or believe about yourself, and with every new day comes new opportunities. As the sun rises, you get another chance to give yourself all the love you deserve– and foster it in other people. We are all equal parts of this universe; beautiful, vibrant, and brimming with potential.

magnificent seas

tune out to tune in

I seem to be doing a lot of realigning these days.

one thing I’m grateful for, a trait of mine I am thankful to myself for, is the ability to sense when I’m off-center and how to get back on track; how to get back to a place of peace.

when my mind starts spinning in chaos, when poisonous thoughts of anger and jealousy consume my mind, when my joints ache and a general fatigue claims my body– I know its time. mind and body agree; they thirst for a spiritual rejuvenation.

so I begin a course of spiritual nourishment.
praying, studying, and meditating are all fantastic tools but will inevitably fall short if foolishly thrown into a wall of distractions; of noise. this is what I refer to in terms of ‘tuning out’: recognizing the fruitless, white noise around you and choosing to push past it, to something deeper. to tune into the universe around you, to nirvana, to an instinctual vibration we all can hear (if we truly try to).

these aren’t flowery words of pure concept; this is something attainable to all.
how can you hear this beautiful music? stop where you are– in that moment. breathe.
let everything go– everything, everyone, everything. let it go.
breathe.
train your thoughts to feel vibrantly, to reflect on the threads intertwining yourself and the elements of the universe (human, animal, plant) together. imagine God dwelling within us all. see how beautiful we are! see how the source feeds us all the same.
see past the hurt, the man-made differences, the hastily chosen words, the circumstances of that day.

can’t you see that time keeps flowing on? like a river, she gently pushes past every pebble beneath.
you can choose to flow along with her, or you can stubbornly stay put; drowning in the white noise, the pain, the poison.

peace is incredible gratitude in the reality of eternal being; universal connection for all, at your reach!
the world inevitably pulls us off course now and then; that’s alright, our innately human mind is childish in ease to distract. forgive yourself, forgive others. breathe in and let it go out. tune back in and center yourself.

I’m so grateful for the sun to rise another time, for clean, clear water, for smooth-moving breaths, for carefully crafted conversation with friends, for warm embraces, for flavors to entertain the palate, for……. you! 🙂

too busy for people?

just the other day I was breezing through the aisles of our local grocery store, searching for ingredients to make burgers and lumpia. my husband and I entertained friends at our home last night so I wanted to cook something special for them 🙂

as I walked around, I noticed an elderly man slowly and patiently pacing the aisles, alone and somewhat distraught.
my heart ached as I began to think about all the older men and women who carry on with their daily activities without help or even simple companionship. though we may take the presence of loved ones for granted in our youth, observing those without brings this all to glaring light. truth is, there are so many (countless) people out there who really crave the additional aid and conversation of another human being as they go about their day. oh, how we take this for granted as we occasionally grieve the petty idiosyncrasies of our loved ones (family, friends, co-workers, etc).

I also thought about the way I too am fooled into thinking I’m “too busy” for the people around me.
too busy to slow down, honestly listen to them, and share that sweet, precious time.
we create elaborate lies to ourself concerning imaginary time constraints, deadlines, and tasks that absolutely “must” be completed. often, these tasks only allude to simple cold, hard, object worship– ie: wax the car, get a haircut, and so on. not that these things cannot be done; no, they too serve their purpose. the issue here is prioritizing between choosing that time for your friend on the verge of tears or tending to your car.

sometimes, it may not even be a woeful friend, but a stranger on the street.
you ask yourself if its worth running a few minutes late to an appointment or if you truly should stop and lend a hand.

a few weeks back I had to delay my car’s yearly inspection to park in the middle of the road and pick up a wounded dog. she had been lying in the street, left paw run over, and writhing on the ground in pain. for a brief moment I thought about driving past her like everyone else had, but I simply couldn’t. my car came to a screeching halt right in front of her (to block our area) and I scooped her bloody, small body into my arms. luckily for us, a kind man pulled up beside me and helped block the road– sweet souls are everywhere, even when you least expect it. I was able to get her to an emergency vet in time; thank God.

and even though taking time out to help an injured animal is nice, I know that I need major work on investing into those around me; the amazing company I’ve been blessed with. to me, they offer individual, unique life stories, knowledge, and wisdom on a daily basis. the very least I can do is show them gratitude through loving gestures and personally alotted time. that, in and of itself, is such a precious gift that could never be bought or replaced.

of all the advanced technologies society offers today in a feeble effort to ‘connect’ us, it really seems we are more disconnected than ever. ironically (and tragically) we spend more time on mediums like Facebook and text messaging than actually basking in the presence of real human beings. we live these eerie, alternate, digital lives instead of those we’ve been blessed with.

of course, I write this to you (my lovely readers) from a blog, yes. I recognize and respect the convienience of technology, but still feel as if it should never replace face-to-face interaction. furthermore, the art of crafting time for people (through conversation, a helping hand, or even an open ear) should never be underestimated. hopefully I can work more on simply being “available”. what a shame it would be to move throughout life, first day to last, without making continued efforts to touch the lives of those around you.
I’m working on this.

keep on flowing

sidenote: I really need to hook up internet at my new home; I miss writing so badly. at times I get desperate and start scribbling away at a notepad, but my hand can only process so many thoughts at once- it can’t keep up with my mind. ah, soon enough.

anyhow, I’ve been reflecting on the general journey of life as of late.
the daily choices we make and the repercussions that follow suit greatly shape our future.
in some strange, subtle way, they also affect the future of others; to our relief and sometimes, our dismay.

I enjoy taking time to reflect on the events on the past year (or month… or day…) and how I chose to react.
needless to say, things haven’t always turned out as planned; most notably, my intention of completing nursing school has been temporarily deferred for the sake of pouring into the lives of those I love (ie: family and husband). in addition, I made the purposeful decision to not let my spiritual life slip in place of extra devoted time to my studies.
which is not to say that with college its “one way or the other”, but a safe balance between the two can be difficult to obtain honestly, so I fully acknowledge my stumblings in this area.

yet with every misplaced step, I also acknowledge my desire to dust myself off, stand up, and try again (with new tactics). quitting is not in my DNA; its just not how I’m wired. I’m not into the self-beating gig, either.
you live and you learn– and you better change. for what is growth without humility and the power to evolve?

I may require an extra dose of patience and perseverance as I await a place back into the nursing program but until then, I am blessed with the opportunity to shower love on those around me (the precious few who I actually do consider close) while nourishing my spirit, mind, and body.

and what an incredible blessing that is.
I have a close-knit family, loving husband, a creative and emotionally-rewarding career, the freedom to pursue my passions through education, roof over my head, food on the table, and so much more.
so I choose to greet each day with gratitude and a genuine desire to give back in a similar light.

who knows what events, what leaps of wisdom, could develop in place of the program.
I already feel the reassuring warmth of peace with where I am with life now; and that definitely makes up for all the past heartache. I’m already on my way, flowing to the beat of my own drummer (me).

commitment

so I’ve decided to try my hardest at writing everyday. keyword: trying.
this may not actually take place but I will definitely put forth the effort… even if I have to make my browser’s homepage the WordPress login site (hey, it could work).

today has been quite lovely and I really do enjoy looking back on a day’s events near its end.

my 8 hours of Pediatric Advanced Life Support training were incredibly informative, to say the least. I honestly originally thought I was heading into just another BLS course (ie: CPR) but it turned out to be much, much more.
I’m talking shoving tubes down throats, pulling kids of out shock, and drilling holes into bones to establish a line for fluids…. yeah, that crazy saving lives business. I mean, we were even taught the “12 ways leading to pediatric death” (and concurrently, how to avoid them), for Pete’s sake. that’s some heavy stuff.

after that, I headed home to do some work at the gym (helllllllllllo legs!) then off to Cadre, my church’s young adult small group 🙂 always a good time there. we were discussing the importance of seeking an honest, earnest relationship with God through dedicated daily time, devotion, study, and prayer. these elements seem obvious on the outside but when life and all of its ‘noise’ (ie: work stress, family obligations, etc) pop up, our faith seems to be the first thing to slide on the back-burner. I felt a stinging conviction, personally, as I recalled the way I let my time with Him decline as nursing school and work required more of me last spring; I kept justifying and rationalizing, falling deeper and deeper into the lies. eventually, I definitely suffered from the lonely feelings of fear and chaos in my life. confusion consumed me and I felt so distant from Him; which of course, was simply a gentle reminder that it was time to fall back into His arms and trust Him again.

as expected, when I did finally hand over the reigns of control and invest my time into my spiritual growth, everything else nestled perfectly back into place. amusingly, so did my grades. the more I anxiously attempted to manipulate every detail of my life so neurotically, the more things spun out of control. I will admit that this is clearly a personality trait I must continue to work on internally (and pray for guidance/growth with, too) but this whole school scenario definitely served as a huge eye-opener. gotta love those.

take a step back, breathe, pray and praise. (no matter what the circumstance)
I am blessed beyond belief and so grateful for these golden nuggets of realization.

regarding my commitment to God (like any other commitment- work, school, marriage, even this blog) sometimes you have to allot specific times or reminders for yourself. you know, scheduling time for whatever it may be. in my case, it may not seem romantic, but sometimes I find it necessary to find time to read, pray, and meditate. for even though the idea of it seems cold, its really quite intimate that someone would intentionally set aside all the craziness of that day (which for me, includes a 12 hour work shift, gym time, shower, cooking dinner, etc) just to spend time with you. that’s actually pretty darn sweet.

warm and fuzzy time, y’all.