Another Beautiful Breakfast

Yesterday, my friend and neighbor, Jeremy, went out mushroom picking.  I felt so grateful when he gave me a heaping helping of these beautiful Chanterells!  They are my favorite kind of mushrooms…subtle and rich at once, and so beautiful to behold!

shrroms from jeremy

Then, this morning, my organic produce delivery came.  Mind you, these vegetables are the most delicious I have ever had!  This is week #3, and I couldn’t be happier.  I get them from Organics 2 You, here in Portland.  Everything is locally grown.  The staff is friendly.  The company is very personalized and competent.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  In addition to their delectable produce, they also offer a few extras, so I ordered some cheese, eggs, coffee and yoghurt this week.  It has been a long time since I’ve eaten dairy and since I just ran out of my calcium supplements, I thought I’d eat some.  I rarely do that.

produce

This photo doesn’t even begin to show you everything that was in it.  There are fresh carrots, more peppers, fruit galore and beets underneath what you see here.  I added the chanterelles to the nice bag of shiitaki mushrooms that I got in the delivery, and am trying a new kind of coffee as I type this.  Delicous! Received another package of kiwi berries, too, which I really love.

veg

So…..for breakfast this morning, I chopped up both kinds of shrooms, a de-seeded habanero pepper and some Tuscan kale and tossed it very lightly with a little EVOO.  (extra virgin olive oil)  I cooked that for about a minute and a half, and then added an egg.

egg on veg

I let that cook through for about 20 seconds and then scrambled it together with the vegetables.  Then I added some high quality, raw, sharp cheddar cheese….just a little sprinkle, and a tablespoon of my homemade artichoke/pepper bruschetta and stirred that all around and let it cook for another minute or so.  Added sea salt…pepper….

1breakfast done

Served it up with a cup of hot, black coffee and some riper-than-ripe organic pears with a light dusting of fresh ground cinnamon.  I practically inhaled this breakfast!  It was one of the best I’d eaten in a long time! Made me feel like dancin’ a little jig!

 

Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging? You bet it does!

This is reason enough for every single person who sees this to meditate.  Really.  EVERYONE can benefit from meditating only 12 minutes a day.  This link goes to an important video:

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-meditation-affect-cellular-aging/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=does-meditation-affect-cellular-aging&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=does-meditation-affect-cellular-aging

 

Here is the transcript from Dr. Michael Greger’s site nutritionfacts.org:

Transcript: Does Meditation Affect Cellular Aging?

In my Research Into Reversing Aging, I highlighted Dean Ornish’s landmark study showing that low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, along with walking, stress management, and support could not only reverse heart disease, open up arteries without drugs and surgery, and potentially reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer, but was the first intervention ever shown to increase telomerase activity, the enzyme that builds and maintains these caps at the tips of our chromosomes called telomeres which appear to slow the aging of our cells. Yes, this new finding was exciting and should encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age-related diseases, but was it the diet, the exercise, or the stress management? That’s what researchers have been trying to tease out in the five years since this study was published.

Let’s look at stress first. In the film The Holiday, Cameron Diaz, exclaimed “Severe stress … causes the DNA in our cells to shrink until they can no longer replicate.” Did Hollywood get the science right? Do people who are stressed have shorter telomeres? To answer that question, researchers measured the telomere lengths in mothers of chronically ill children—what could be more stressful than that? The longer a woman had spent being the main carer of her ill child, the shorter were her telomeres. The extra telomere shortening in the most stressed mothers was equivalent to that caused by at least a decade of aging.

We see the same thing in caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and those suffering severe work related exhaustion. Even those abused as children may grow up with shorter telomeres. Not much we can do about our past, but if we manage our stress can we grow some of telomeres back?

Well if you go off to on a meditation retreat and meditate for 500 hours you can indeed boost your telomerase activity. 600 hours of meditation may be beneficial as well, but come on, there’s got to be a quicker fix, and this exciting new study delivers.

Caregivers of family members with dementia randomized to just 12 minutes of daily meditation for 8 weeks, just about 10 hours in total experienced significant benefit. Better mental and psychological function accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.

I highly recommend signing up for Dr. Greger’s videos.  http://www.nutritionfacts.org

 

Right out of Portlandia!

I bought some eggs online through my organic produce delivery service which will deliver everything tomorrow. What they wrote on the receipt made me laugh and think of a Portlandia episode:

“Eggs: One Dozen 1 Eggs: One Dozen Large Grade: From free-roaming range hens, raised by the DeHart family of Cedar Ridge Ranch in nearby Banks, Oregon. The hens’ organic diet is supplemented with organic fruits and vegetables (supplied by Organics to You) with local choice grains. $5.00″

 

 

Portland…..ya gotta love it.  (With each new day, I love it even more…)

Tough times

Last week was tough, both personally and academically.  The personal issues revolve around a close relative who is ill.  It is hard to deal with other things in one’s life when someone you know and love dearly is physically suffering. A close friend is sharing a similar issue.  In many respects, we are holding one another up, but I also have my family, including my wholly supportive husband, for whom I am ever grateful.

Thankfully, toward the end of the week, things began to turn around for me in surprising ways, and in terms of school,  yesterday, I completed the last of my assignments for the week and was able to actually take a nap for the first time in months and months.    I.  was.  exhausted!  I also went to bed early last night and awoke this morning, ready to tackle the world, feeling stronger and more joyful than I have felt in ages, very thankful for my supportive family and friends, all of us being more keenly aware of things that none of us had fully realized before….and I apologize for sounding like one of those Facebook people that write cryptic messages that beg for more explanation.  I simply refuse to make it public.

This week’s mountain of school work looks equally as challenging as last.  However, as I chisel my way through each obstacle, one rock at a time, I find myself gaining more and more inner strength and determination.  More than ever, I am beginning to realize that this education is not only imparting new information and skills.  It is also changing my brain as I go through the process. The process itself, in fact, is the most beneficial aspect.

I am learning an economy of order that I have never experienced before.  I find it easier to sort through information and to hone in on exactly what I need, not just in school, but in my personal life as well.  My focus is sharper.  I am gaining self confidence in all areas of life as I face difficulties that just aren’t that difficult any longer.  My problem solving skills are better. I am becoming amazingly organized.  I am thinking more clearly, putting up with less B.S.  I am moving forward with inner strength summoned up from a Source that makes me feel strong and mighty.

I just read over my assignments.  I have to write an 8 page review of empirical literature about Individualism and Collectivism theories.  I have to learn about Type I. and Type II. errors in research design using inferential statistics and I have to analyze a second set of data using a software with which I am not yet familiar.  This time 6 months ago, I would have looked at these assignments and probably cried.  Today, I’m thinking, “I’ve got this.  I can do this.”  because I know I can. I do not yet have any knowledge of how to tackle these assignments, but I am confident that I now possess the problem solving skills that will allow me to arrive at the solutions.  By this time next week, I will have completed every assignment, and I will know more than I know right now.  This much I do know.

So….off I go….but first, it is time for a walk with my puppy, and a hot cup of coffee, and a smile as I feel gratitude for every day that I can walk this earth, love and be loved in return. I am a lucky woman.

 

 

1breakfast

Breakfast as Meditation

Food prepared lovingly, mindfully and with positive energy,  has the optimal ability to nourish us both spiritually and physically.  This is my new mantra .  Whereas I used to begin the day with sitting in a meditative state for a prolonged period, I now practice by mindfully preparing nourishment, carefully preparing the chopping board and contemplating each slice of my blade as it finds its way through the vegetables and fruits and ends at the wood with a practiced *thunk!  I think about each tiny square or rectangle that I make,each semicircle or circle, each random shape.  I think  about the colors and textures of the food.  I focus on its transformation as I cook it and feel thankful as I slowly enjoy every morsel, while I give thanks.

This practice is changing me in ways that I cannot describe.  It not only empowers me and fuels my body and mind. It makes me calm and teaches me lessons each time I cook.

Today’s breakfast was chopped cyklon peppers, Yukon gold potatoes, Tuscan kale, tofu, sweet Hawaiian onion, crimini mushrooms and garlic cooked with a spicy, fragrant black bean sauce with slices of sweet, crispy Asian pear slices on the side.  I ate every bite very slowly and appreciated the honor of having food at all.  I appreciated the complexities of the flavors and noticed every crunch and smooth texture of the bountiful feast.

As I ate, I thought about how fortunate I am on so many levels and for so many things…my family, my friends, and in particular, my best friend. I thought of an ailing family member who is getting better each day, and how events have unfolded around her to reveal the truth to other members of my family.I thought of my husband’s voice over the phone, and of my best friend’s infectious grin.  I thought of the way my grandchild squeezes my hand when we walk and of how my little puppy loves to snuggle with me when she naps. I thought of my other granddaughter, now far away working her first real job.  I thought  of my tiny grandson who is observing the world every day through innocent eyes, and I thought of the ripe figs on the two trees outside my window.

This type of meditation is the best way to begin the day.  It centers me and orders my brain to prepare it for the arduous tasks at hand, the ones that mount daily as I progress through school with my eye on the prize.  It gives me strength and energy and helps me understand the world much better as I sort through the different events that are transpiring in my life at the moment with, perhaps, more confidence than I have ever had before.

I am at peace.

koi

Koi
Watercolor on paper
© Stacy Alexander – All Rights Reserved – 2014

A Most Excellent Day…..except….

This is a most excellent day in so many ways.  It  began with a phone call, the nature of which I cannot disclose….but with a smile of relief, I got out of bed and went through my morning routine.  I made the bed, cooked myself a good breakfast.  Had coffee.  Chatted with some friends online.  Walked the dog. Had an outstanding talk with a close relative.

And then I started knocking out my final two papers.  I did all of my research during the past week, so today, I begin using that research to compose.  The dataset that I am working with is about eyewitness testimony.  The topics are fascinating and the process of working on these particular papers is, by far, some of the best learning experiences I’ve had in my entire college career.   However…….and this is the “except”…..Just LOOK at that innocent face!

beatrixshy

My naughty puppy has suddenly become a BRAT!  I think she has just discovered her own voice, and is using it like never before.  AND she has become HYPER!!!  The good part about this is that I am walking a whole lot more than I was. Since I got her, I’ve taken her on 3 good walks a day.  Now, that has doubled.   When she starts barking and carrying on, I immediately know that the best thing I can do is to simply put her harness on her and take her for a long walk.  This tires her out and makes her sleep for hours.

Beatrix is full grown now, and weighs in at 4.3 pounds.  Everywhere I take her, people remark, “LOOK how TINY she is!”  but I assure you, her voice is NOT tiny!  She has a huge personality.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without her at this point.  She wins hearts wherever she goes, just as my friend assured me she would when he urged me to get a long haired chi.  I’m so glad that I listened.  She lights up my life.

 

Juggling

Although I genuinely love spending time alone, one of the hardest parts of being in grad school is the isolation.  I am quite disciplined and diligent when it comes to my studies and I work long hours to complete each task.  Therefore, sometimes I just forget to do things with my friends….or when I think of it, it will be 3 a.m. just as I’m finishing up a school project.

Right now, I am studying the psychology of leadership and learning all kinds of new theories, and I am working on the ethics section of my advanced research class.  These things are quite time and labor intensive, to say the least.   This week has been particularly arduous, plus, someone very near and dear to me is in the hospital far away, so it is difficult for me to concentrate.  I am feeling a lot of stress right now,  and my friends and family are concerned that I am working too hard, so tonight, my friend, T, a professor from the school where I did my undergrad work,  stopped by for dinner, which forced me to take a break.

1dinner

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, it is my goal to eat only things that I already have on hand in my pantry and the organic produce that is delivered to my door each week.  This is week #2 for produce delivery.  It can sometimes be hard to prepare whole meals every day, but I am committed to doing it. I eat a helping and then freeze any leftovers so I can thaw and eat them when I am running short of time.  However,  there is a zen quality about the routine of taking an interest in what goes into one’s body.  The mindful practice of preparing a meal from fresh, healthful ingredients, along with the act of eating it imbues one to be mindful in other areas of life as well.  When I don’t readily know what to do with a particular vegetable that comes in the order, I invent something.  So far, so good.

Tonight’s meal was entirely made from scratch.  I used the white potatoes that I normally do not eat with much frequency, to make homemade gnocchi.  I used the fresh basil and Brazil nuts to make a delicious pesto, and sauteed some small shiitake shrooms to go with. I chopped some Tuscan kale and steamed it, then drizzled a balsamic vinegar reduction over it and sprinkled on some dried garlic, parsley and sea salt.  I also sliced some of the sweetest, most delectable nectarines and served those to balance out the bitterness of the kale.  Very simple meal, but it was delicious.

T. brought a bottle of my favorite Argyle Pinot Noir from our own Williamette Valley and I had a very tiny glass of it…not even half a glass, because I have to go right back to work and I was afraid it would make me drowsy…but, as always, it was delicious, and it paired nicely with the gnocchi and kale.  It is a very light, dry wine with a nice complexity of flavors. Wasn’t crazy about it the first time I had it, but now it is a preferred selection.  This is the wine we drank at La Vecchia in Reno when we were there last March.

1berries

For dessert, we had fresh blueberries and raspberries, bruised, and served atop some delicious vanilla coconut  milk ice cream.  Cold….refreshing…lots of nice textures and sensations on the tongue.  The berries were every bit as sweet as the nectarines.  Quite good!

After dinner, we took Beatrix for a long walk to see all the changes that are going on in the hood.  Division Street, which is a block away, is being transformed into a hip, cosmopolitan watering hole with restaurant-after-restaurant, some cool bars, a few shops, but not as many as I would like to see.  I think the object is to turn it into Restaurant Row.  It won’t be finished for awhile now, but people from all over the city are flocking here.  In a way, I miss the sweet charm of the way it was before, but I find these changes rather exciting.  Honestly, I doubt if I drive my car more than twice a month now, other than to go see my daughter or go to my studio.  I can walk to anywhere I would possibly want to go…..to a restaurant, a wine bar, a park, to the many trendy-indie shops on Hawthorne or beyond that to Belmont street.  I have become a walkaholic.  It is just so pleasant to walk here, and I love walking in populated areas.  It makes me feel safe and I find it fun to people watch.

Buscars have become popular in this neighborhood, too.  There were several out tonight, and we stopped to speak with one of the guitarists that stands outside of Salt ‘n Straw, the gourmet ice cream shop nearby.  T. casually asked him how much money he made during a given week.  He said just on tips alone, he can make anywhere from $500 to $1200 a day!  Amazing…but not surprising, given the fact that this shop seems to have a line a block long at any given time of day or night.  I wonder how that will change when the rains come?    Anyway, St. Honoré Boulangerie, on the same block, had a jazz trio with an upright base, jazz guitarist and a vocalist, so we stopped in there for coffee and listened to a few tunes.  Sadly, I had to cut the evening short so I could get back to writing these papers.  It is my fondest hope to finish them by tomorrow night so I can actually have a free weekend, but we’ll see how it goes.

Tonight, I feel contented, centered &  joyful. I have just received news that an ailing relative is much better .  My worry about this person has kept me awake night after night and I am physically and emotionally exhausted, but feel selfish even saying that.  The patient is my main concern, not myself.   This has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind.

Even with the good news that I received much of my good mood comes from the afterglow of having such a nice evening with my friend.   I feel energized by the visit.  She is super-high energy, intelligent and funny as all get out.  In addition to her teaching, she is a published poet and an amazing ceramicist. She makes these huge busts of women…highly stylized and when she has shows, she often combines her ceramics and poetry.  Her work reminds me a lot of Allyson Saars’ work.   John and I went to one of T’s  readings last winter and she blew us away.  She’s really good!    We shared stories and had a  good laugh.  It felt great  to be able to converse with someone  intelligent who knows art.  However, the best part was the laughter.  This woman could make a hammer laugh.  She is so funny!   Amazingly high quality visit for just a couple of hours.  Good day and good night.  I’m good to go now.

studying

All Consuming

This week has probably been the most trying in my entire academic career because it includes 5 papers on wholly unfamiliar topics and a lot of new and overwhelming information to absorb.  Additionally, I was assigned two very lengthy discussion questions that require tons of research and that nasty APA formatting that is graded so diligently, and by midnight tonight, I am required to respond a minimum of four times to other students’ discussions, and to do so with substantiation and citations. It is a lot.  I have been getting up at around 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and working long into the night.

In all the difficulty surrounding this challenge, I reflect on how I felt entering this term.  I knew it was going to be tough and I lay away night-after-night dreading (fearing) it, as the term approached. I simply didn’t think I could do it.  Each day,  I have slowly picked away at this week’s assignments, and feel as though I have read a mountain of research.  I still have much more to go before midnight on Sunday.  However, I am making progress and I know that barring an earthquake or major news event, I will finish.

The thing that has me so excited is that by the end of next week, I will be just past the halfway point for the term.  Whereas I originally doubted I would be able to do this work at all, I am almost half way finished, have maintained my 4.0 GPA and sometimes, have even had a day off….not frequently enough, mind you, but still…I just need to keep my nose to the grindstone and continue at this pace.   If I can accomplish this, I can accomplish anything.

So…books?  Here I come!

 

A Different Order

My  friend, Tom, recently said, “When your life falls apart, it’s an ideal time to put the pieces back in a different order,” which is true…but what about when your life isn’t falling apart?  Is it still ok to reassess and do things differently?  My life is not falling apart in the least. Negative aspects of it are falling away…and that part is good.    No one can deny that  I am certainly doing a good deal of rearranging. I should have done this years ago.

I look at it like sorting socks or organizing a kitchen drawer.   I am rearranging  things as I go….my priorities, my habits, my choices and making things smoother and more functional than they have been in 40-something  years.  I am accepting what is and am continually taking inventory, letting go of that which does not serve my higher purpose, and moving forward.  That is what I have done in a big way this week. I have taken huge steps emotionally, legally, familial-y, and am steaming forward on the path I have forged for myself and those whom I  truly love.

A week or two ago, I posted an amazing  quote by Meryl Streep that characterizes exactly how I feel . It remarkably seemed to  fall out of the sky for me the day I needed it most, and it keeps cropping up, even as I go through research papers to complete this week’s school assignments.  It’s almost as though God or the universe is sending it to me, over and again.  Today, it means more to me than ever before…so I am going to post it again…because this is really how I feel.  I have never been as resolved as I am today, and I have never been stronger.  I know I’m right about this, and I will never again, walk the painful path of eggshells that I used to be on, not ever.

I will never deprive my loving daughter, Sarah and her daughter, Ingrid another ounce of my energy that used to be directed toward ungrateful, manipulative people. My granddaughter, Maya, will have a better, stronger grandmother and will know my devotion in new ways and my husband will have a wife that is more determined than ever to make our remaining years together everything good they can possibly be.    I am strong in my friendships, (one more than others) in my school work and on the path to a fantastic adventure.

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to show love toward those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” _ Meryl Streep

 

monolit

An Incredible Art Concept

I am excited to share this with my readers today and hope you will enjoy it as much as I.

Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll came up with the concept for a paint sculpture that tracks the emotions  of people in Oslo through their posts to various social media outlets. Every time an individual tweets that they are happy, angry, sad, thrilled, et al,  a program created by Lauritzsen Murvoll assigns a color to it. As  the video portrays, happy is a pink , anger is black, and  other colors are left undefined. This project serves an interesting purpose and leaves many possibilities for further exploration.

Holton Rower, the artist who uses the paint pouring technique, inspired the format for this particular project.  They tried having each  mood tweet release a color, but also averaged a mood over a period of tweets. According to the artists, latter was more aesthetically pleasing,  because the data was simpler and more easily defined.   However,  the former appeared to be a more accurate representation  of how the city was experiencing emotions. (Via I Heart My Art and Wired)

The post A Sculpture That Tracks The Moods Of A City Through Social Media Posts appeared first on Beautiful/Decay Artist & Design.

 

 

jobcareer

Ah…the writing career….

During the time in which I have been a student, I have had a job as a writer. On those rare occasions when I actually  have time to write something other than school papers,   I write for online agencies that pay per piece.  This kind of work is not career writing.  It is a job.

Prior to  grad school, I owned a content company and contracted work out to workers in foreign countries and the USA.  This was a career.  It was a business.  It was a pain in the ass,and I hated it…. but I could have done it forever.  I  opened this business where I kept books, paid taxes and had employees.  Career. Not job.

On July 6th, when I graduate, I will begin my new career, one that integrates psychology, art, writing and that has a focus on empowerment.  Thus far, however, my career is that of an artist.

I started making art as a child, studied art extensively in college and beyond and supported myself doing this.  To this day, I continually supplement my education as an artist, go to exhibits, museums and visit other artists’ studios in order to stay abreast of what is current in the industry.    This is a career.  It is a career in which I spend long hours into the night, go into production, cut my fingers, lose sleep, get filthy, sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. It isn’t glamorous.  Sometimes it can be the most frustrating, non-gratifying  endeavor in the universe.  Sometimes I make virtually no money at it, but when I do…man-o-man-o-man!  It feels great.

See the difference?  Job vs. Career

Edit this comparison chart

Career

Job

What is it? A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals. Job is an activity through which an individual can earn money. It is a regular activity in exchange of payment.
Requirements Usually requires special learning that includes individualized components that develop abilities beyond that which training is capable of. Education or Special training may or may not be required
Risk taking A career may not mean stability of work as it encourages one to take risks. The risks are often internal and therefore planned. A job is “safe”, as stability of work and income is there. However shifting priorities, especially in resource jobs, can abruptly change the demand and require relocation which is an unstable factor. Risks may be completely external.
Time Long term Indefinite term but sometimes full time
Income Varies depending on value to society or to some other entity. Non-monetary benefits may be higher. Salary is more common. Varies by demand. More likely to be wage.  Can be per piece or per project or per task. Zero contributions to society.  Zero non-monetary benefits.
Contribution to society May have high value as social change/progress may be possible. May actually have a negative impact when counterproductive social practices are continued in the name of protecting jobs.
sarah-Ingrid

Happy Birthday to my Precious Daughter, Sarah.

sushi

I went to my daughter’s house this evening for what her 5 year old daughter termed a “veggie sushi extravaganza.”  My son-in-law, his brother and  his girlfriend and another friend whipped up a ton of sushi, sashimi and tempura for dinner tonight.  It was a casual affair with friends and family and kids, and we had a delightful time.  The food was delicious!

On this day, 37 years ago, I almost named my daughter  after this song:

However, on the afternoon that I went into labor I played a record of Lauren Bacall reading a story called, “The Clock with 13 Faces.”  And when she introduced the main character by saying, “….and her name was Sarahlinda!” in that deep, husky Lauren Bacall voice, I knew that this was to be my baby’s name.

Last night, Sarah came to my house and the two of us  spoke long into the night.  We talked about our family dynamic and its history. We spoke about the future, and our plans to move forward through life and to continue on the path we are currently on, a simple, happy one. Sarah feels the same as I do about letting go of negative people and influences,  and about cleaving to that which is good in life…the positive.  Our  talk was pithy, and  probably the best one we have ever had, and I came away from it knowing that what I have with this remarkable young woman is what many parents could only hope for.

She told me that she was grateful to have received a nice card from her father with happy birthday wishes, and I noted  how little it takes to make her happy.  Her dad and I  could not have asked for a better daughter.  She is a true gift and always was.  Never caused anyone an ounce of trouble.

Since it is her birthday, I will exercise a mother’s right to brag…..My daughter  is a perfectly beautiful spirit residing in a truly  sane existence.    With her, there is never any drama.  Never any meanness.  Never an unkind word…but she isn’t a pushover by any stretch of the imagination.  She is strong.  Smart.  Funny.  A GREAT mother.  Productive. Creative. Accomplished .  She isn’t the type to pit one person against the other, and she is honest.  She isn’t boastful and has nothing to prove to anyone.

sanity

Her  quiet, unassuming manner conveys that she is secure within herself.  She is never phoney, never pretentious and is comfortable in her own skin. Oh, and she is not in the least materialistic, and I am very proud of her for that.  In fact,  I am proud of her in every possible way.

It is an honor to be her mother.

Sarah is the voice of sanity.  She  is an inspiration to me.  She is an inspiration to a lot of people.  I am so grateful that she is a part of my life.

Happy birthday, Sarah.  I love you for a million new reasons every day.  I deeply appreciate you and thank you for being who you are.  You are the absolute best.

 

Love,

Ma

 

Some Words of Wisdom

Zenhabits.org is a favorite website for me to read in the mornings before I get busy with my school work.  I found this article this morning about how your mind tries to trick you into believing you cannot accomplish that things that you wish to accomplish.  I will post them below, with credit to the website and author, but might add that a note of positivity should also be added.  Trying to accomplish something negative or that is harmful to others doesn’t fly.

Enjoy!

mind

The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes

By Leo Babauta

The mind is a wonderful thing. It’s also a complete liar that constantly tries to convince us not to take actions we know are good for us, and stops many great changes in our lives.

Scumbag mind.

I’ve had to learn to watch these rationalizations and excuses very carefully, in order to make the changes I’ve made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, minimalism, writing daily, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, and so on.

If I hadn’t learned these excuses, and how to counter them, I would never have stuck to these changes. In fact, I failed many times before 2005 (when I started changing my life), because these excuses had complete power over me.

Let’s expose the cowardly mind’s excuses and rationalizations once and for all.

First, the main principle: the mind wants comfort, and is afraid of discomfort and change. The mind is used to its comfort cocoon, and anytime we try to push beyond that comfort zone very far or for very long, the mind tries desperately to get back into the cocoon. At any cost, including our long-term health and happiness.

OK, with that in mind, let’s go into the excuses:

cant

  1. I can’t do it. It seems too hard, so we think we can’t stick to the change. We don’t believe in ourselves. This can be countered from the fact that many other people no more capable than us have done it. For example, Oprah ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and so I told myself, “If Oprah can do it, so can I!” I was right.

 

apply

  1. He/she can do it, but that doesn’t apply to me. Just because someone else can do it, doesn’t mean we can, right? We look for reasons they can do it but we can’t — maybe he can be a minimalist because he has no kids, or is a freelancer rather than someone with a real job. Maybe she’s way, way fitter than I am, so she can run a marathon. Maybe she doesn’t have all the obligations I have, or has a supportive spouse, or doesn’t have a crippling health condition. OK, fine, it’s easy to find excuses: but look at all the other people who have worse obstacles than you who’ve done it. I have 6 kids and still managed to change a lot of things in my life. Stories abound of people with disabilities or illnesses who overcame their obstacles to achieve amazing things. Your obstacles can be overcome.

monster

  1. I need my ___. Fill in the blank: I need my coffee, my cheese, my soda, my TV shows, my car, my shoe collection … these are things we convince ourselves we can’t live without, so we can’t make a change like becoming vegan or eating healthier or unschooling our kids or simplifying our lives or going car-free. And I’ve made these excuses myself, but they all turned out to be lies. I didn’t need any of that. The only things you really need are basic food, water, clothing, shelter, and other people for social needs. Everything else is not a real need.

enjoy

  1. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, I agree with this statement (as many of us would) but the problem is this is used to justify all kinds of crappy behavior. Might as well scarf down those Doritos and Twinkies, because hey, life is meant to be enjoyed, right? No. You can do without junk food and still enjoy life. You can exercise and enjoy it. You can give up pretty much anything and still enjoy life, if you learn to see almost any activity as enjoyable.

comfort

  1. I need comfort. This might also be true, but we can push ourselves into more discomfort than we let ourselves believe. We can be a bit cold, instead of needing to be at the perfect comfortable temperature. We can do hard exercise, instead of needing to lay around on the couch. We can write that thing we’ve been procrastinating on — it might be hard, but we can push through that. When our minds seek comfort, don’t let them run — push a little bit outside the comfort zone, and begin to be OK with a bit of discomfort.

dontknowhow

  1. I don’t know how. This is also true, but you can learn. Start with a little at a time, and learn how to deal with this new change. Do some research online. Watch some videos. Ask people online how they dealt with it. This is easily overcome with a little effort and practice. In fact, if you do it now, and learn a little at a time, then you’ll be able to do away with this pesky excuse.

later

  1. I can do it later. Sure, you can always do it later … but your later self will also feel the same way. Why should the later self be more disciplined than your current self? In fact, because you’re allowing yourself to slide now, you’re building a habit of procrastination and actually making is less likely that your future self will be more disciplined. Instead, do it now, unless there’s something more important that you need to do … don’t let yourself slide just because you don’t feel like it.

one time

  1. One time won’t hurt. This is so tempting, because it’s kind of true — one time won’t hurt. Assuming, that is, that it’s only one time. One bite of chocolate cake, one missed workout, one time procrastinating instead of writing. Unfortunately, it’s never actually just one time. One time means your brain now knows it can get away with this excuse, and the next “one time” leads to another, until you’re not actually sticking to something. Make a rule: never ever believe the “one time” excuse. I did this with smoking (“Not One Puff Ever”) and it worked. If you’re going to allow yourself a bite or two of chocolate cake, decide beforehand and build it into your plan (“I will allow myself a fist-sized serving of sweets once every weekend”) and stick to that plan, rather than deciding on the fly, when your resistance is weak.

dont feel

  1. I don’t feel like it. Well, true. You don’t feel like working hard. Who does? Letting the rule of “I’ll do it when feel like it” dictate your life means you’ll never write that book, never build that business, never create anything great, never have healthy habits. Create a plan that’s doable, and execute it. When the rationalizations like this come up, don’t believe them. Everyone is capable of doing a hard workout even when they’re not in the mood. Everyone can overcome their internal resistance.

tootired

  1. I’m tired. Yep, me too. I still did my heavy squat workout today. There is truth to needing rest, and resting when you need it (listen to your body) but this is usually the mind trying to weasel out of something uncomfortable. There’s a difference between being exhausted and needing some rest, and being the little tired we all feel every afternoon. Push through the latter.

deserve

  1. I deserve a reward/break. We all deserve that tasty treat, or a day off. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give yourself a reward or break. But if you make this rationalization your rule, you’ll always be on a break. You’ll always be giving yourself rewards, and never sticking to the original plan. Here’s what I do instead: I see sticking to my plan as the reward itself. Going on a run isn’t the thing I have to get through to get a reward — the run is the reward.

nice

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop? This again is our mind wanting to run from discomfort, and of course it’s true — it would be nice to stop if you’re pushing into a discomfort zone for too long. The thing is, the implication is that it would be better to stop, because it would be nice … but that’s a lie. It would be easier to stop, but often it’s better to continue pushing. This excuse almost beat me when I tried to run my 50-mile ultramarathon last December, because honestly it would have been much nicer to stop and not finish the race, especially in the last 10 miles or so. I pushed through, and found out I was tougher than I thought.

results

  1. The result you’re going for isn’t important. If you’re trying to run a marathon, this is phrased like, “It’s not that important that I finish this”. I’ve used this excuse for learning languages (it doesn’t matter if I learn this) or programming or any number of things I wanted to learn. I’ve used it for writing and exercise and eating healthy food. And while the result might not be that important, the truth is that the process is very important. If you stick with a process that will be better for you in the long run, then you will be better off. But if you let yourself go just because you are uncomfortable and at this moment care more for your comfort than the goal you set out for, you’ll have lots of problems. The goal isn’t important, but learning to stick to things when you’re uncomfortable is extremely important.

afraid

  1. I’m afraid. Now, this is the most honest excuse there is — most of us don’t want to admit we’re afraid to pursue something difficult. But it’s also a weaselly way out of discomfort — just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean you can’t do something. You can. I’ve done tons of things I’m afraid of — mostly creating things that I was worried I’d fail at. And while the fear sometimes came true — I didn’t do too well sometimes — the act of pushing through the fear was incredibly important and I learned a lot each time.

I’ve used all of these excuses hundreds of times each, so don’t think I’ve overcome them all. And you can use them in the future too. There’s nothing wrong with giving in sometimes.          Rene Best musician

The key is to learn whether they’re true, and see your pattern. Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Notice the excuse. It has way more power if it works on you in the background.
  2. Try to have an answer for the excuse beforehand — anticipate it.
  3. If you give in, that’s OK, but recognize that you’re giving in to a lame excuse. Be aware of what you’re doing.
  4. After giving in, see what the results are. Are you happier? Is your life better? Was it worth it giving in to discomfort?
  5. Learn from those results. If you pushed through and are happy about it, remember that. If you gave in to excuses, and didn’t like the result, remember that.

If you consciously practice this process, you’ll get better at recognizing and not believing these lies. And then, bam, you’ve got your mind working for you instead of against you. Oh, and smile.  Never forget to smile.

smiling stacy

Artisan….yup.

 

Custom Keirsey Temperament Report for: Stacy A.

“Artisan’s  believe that variety is the spice of life, and that doing things that aren’t fun or exciting is a waste of time.” 

 

Stacy, your Keirsey Temperament Sorter Results indicates that your personality type is that of the
Artisan

Artisans are the temperament with a natural ability to excel in any of the arts, not only the fine arts such as painting and sculpting, or the performing arts such as music, theater, and dance, but also the athletic, political, mechanical, and industrial arts, as well as the “art of the deal” in business.  Money making skills come easily, but  contain elements of unique creativity.

Artisans are not big on fantasy and feel most at home in the real world of solid objects that can be made and manipulated, and of real-life events that can be experienced in the here and now. Artisans have exceptionally keen senses. They seem right at home with tools, instruments, and vehicles of all kinds, but also as comfortable in high powered business environments.   Their actions are usually aimed at getting them where they want to go, and as quickly as possible. Thus Artisans will strike off boldly down roads that others might consider risky or impossible, doing whatever it takes, rules or no rules, to accomplish their goals. This devil-may-care attitude also gives the Artisans a winning way with people, and they are often irresistibly charming with family, friends, and co-workers.

Artisans want to be where the action is; they seek out adventure and show a constant hunger for pleasure and stimulation. They believe that variety is the spice of life, and that doing things that aren’t fun or exciting is a waste of time. Artisans are impulsive, remarkably adaptable, competitive, and believe the next throw of the dice will be the lucky one. They can also be generous to a fault, always ready to share with their friends from the bounty of life. Above all, Artisans need to be free to do what they wish, when they wish. They resist being tied or bound or confined or obligated; they would rather not wait, or save, or store, or live for tomorrow. In the Artisan view, today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow may never come.

There are many Artisans, perhaps 30 to 35 percent of the population, which is good, because they create much of the beauty, grace, fun, and excitement the rest of us enjoy in life.

Your heightened aesthetic sense can lead you to craft and perfect whatever work you take on. As a result, in your ideal job you would likely have the freedom to gather observations, collections of facts, and sets of skills in order to do your work. You can be thrilled when you slip through a window of strategic opportunity that colleagues or the competition haven’t yet seen.