This. is Me.

Becky ziplining

This. is Me.

I ain’t necessarily skinny, or perfect, or predictable.

I have my flaws, and  Oh! they are many, and I can name them all.

I am a survivor of terrible things, but also a thriver –

I want new, different, and scary, all outside these walls.

I offer myself, unreservedly, to those who will care to listen,

Whether tiny, or medium, or tall tall tall.

My hero is Joan of Arc, because tho’ she did end on a burning stake,

She didn’t go quietly, or actually – at all.

Her energy was transformed to spirit and became legend and large,

And she forged a path and answered His call.

So when I am a ghost and my visage is faded from your view,

I want my legacy to be “CANNON BALLLLLLL!”

 

 

 

Life in Action

life and loveLife is about taking action, about weeding out and winnowing down that which corrupts us. Whether we are paralyzed by fear or pain, bad memories or relationships, anger or disappointment, the #1 person you damage by sitting in those (rust) spots is yourself.

Life in action. Take some time today, and then once a week, to look into the spiritual mirror and ask yourself, what should I get rid of? And to whom have I given the power to “make” me feel small, meaningless, belittled, invisible, scarred, less-than?

John 19:11:  “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Think about that: people who have come in and out of your life and left you more scarred, bear the brunt of responsibility for that.

What you, yourself, bear the responsibility for, is letting go. For forgiving.

John 20:22-23: “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ ”

Tomorrow – or on the day that I die – I want to know that I released anyone who has ever hurt me, that I have forgiven them. That doesn’t mean that they will be spared of the spiritual consequences of their actions, but it means that if I am successful in this, I will travel this road lighter – and cleaner! – then I would have, had I held onto that pain.

I love the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

 

May you be blessed with Serenity, this day and forevermore!

 

 

30 Lbs. Later / Food Love

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Friends and family have asked how I have lost so much weight in a short amount of time – I’m now down THIRTY POUNDS – Yay!  (I’m celebrating, not bragging.)

The short answer is: finding a food plan that works for my body chemistry, and then being self-disciplined about it. That meant 21 weeks of saying “no, thank you!” to pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, anything white-flour based, packaged and processed.

But it also meant replacing those products with healthy and delicious foods:

* items made from potato or rice flour, or plantains

* walnuts, pecans, almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds without added salt (“naked”)

* brown, jasmine, or basmati rice

* spinach pasta or quinoa

* Toufayan low carb/low sodium wraps in place of bread

* cheese cake or oatmeal crumble instead of cake

* Crunchmaster Multi Grain crisps (found at Rite Aid)

* crunchy granola bars or other (homemade) oatmeal snacks without corn syrup

* fresh chicken, pork, beef, or turkey (cook with skin and fat on, trim off before eating)

* ALL types of beans, canned or bagged (rinse first to lower sodium); legumes; lentils

* wild-caught salmon (preferably from your own country)

* cheeses: the older, the better! ; olives, pickles

* sweet potatoes: wash, poke, and put in microwave for five minutes

* fresh veggies and fruits (google the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list), esp. greens like spinach, and squashes

* snacks: mix nuts with dried berries and chocolate chips, cheesecake squares, squares of dark chocolate, pudding or sherbet without corn syrup

Do I think that my approach will work for everyone? Probably not.  But the foods I listed are in any Aldi’s grocery store, so no luxury food source is needed. That’s good, right?

What I do know is that food that is closest to the source is best, and homemade is best.  Our American fast-food, pre-packaged lifestyle isn’t working.  Diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer, are epidemic in my country.  The amount of fake sugar, soy and corn products and fillers in our grocery foods are suspect in these diseases.

Have to start somewhere, right?

Revamping your food list means revamping your body!

dirty dozen clean fifteen

In the last fifteen years, I became more and more aware of the current scientific and nutritional information as it applies to health and wellness.  I’m not sure what year the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list was originally released, but it is one of the guidelines that I have used for the last five years.  You may ask, why did I wait ten years to apply the guidelines to my life, if I found them so compelling?

I had myself convinced that healthy eating was much more expensive than a family of six could handle.  We have been a one-salary household (besides occasional babysitting gigs) since I left my job in residential mental health services in early 2003; I am incredibly money-conscious and am in charge of our household budget.

Okay, I am cheap.  But all for a good cause.  I think?

When you factor in the added healthcare cost of higher blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and other issues associated with eating “on the cheap” (which could mean eating healthy foods, but not in the right amounts; eating too much boxed or drive-through foods; not being organized and so buying impulse items at the store; or not having a balanced diet), you are actually not saving any money.

It’s best to think longer-term: make sure you KNOW what a serving size is, plan your shopping to fit prepared menus, and resolve to eliminate one unhealthy food from your shopping list every month.  You can start from the list above, which notates which foods are healthy to eat from other countries or that travel long distances (keep in mind, that only Canada and specific E.U. countries have anything equivalent to an FDA or USDA-type guidelines), and which are best avoided unless you know that they are local, or are labeled non-GMO or organic.  Add to that some additional rules, if you’d like: avoid fake sugars, anything that has as its first or second ingredient high-fructose corn syrup, and find lists of companies online that employ GMO corn or soy in their products.  The first few times you will have to spend more time, especially in the dairy and produce aisles, but the effort will be well worth it.

It’s a lot to take in and think about, but your body, your health and – eventually! – your wallet will thank you.  Mine did: I only spend about $30 more per month for our whole family, which is an average of $5 per person, per month.  I’ve lost 23 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol have both gone down, and I have avoided medications for both conditions. Totally worth it!  Happy eating!

 

 

Why I Quit Smoking (and other random Thoughts)

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Mother Thoughts

I sound like laughing and reprimands, 

                Cajoling and orders. 

I smell like cinnamon and coffee, 

                Tiredness and tears. 

I look like spring morning, seven days of hard road, 

                Something about to happen. 

I feel like good advice well-taken, 

                Sorrows advanced 

                And yesterday’s rain-soaked paper sitting on the lawn. 

I think like Oprah, Freud and Socrates combined, 

                And also 

                Blank mind. 

I am

                Fierce mama.

 

       I wrote this poem a few years ago, right around the time that I quit smoking (again).  I started smoking the first month of my first year in college, right around September of 1990.  I was so stressed and everyone else drank on the weekends, but was not (and still am not!) a partying drinker; coming from a background of extended family alcoholism, I thought it best to drastically limit any alcohol intake; but had few coping skills when it came to stress.  Some random girl was smoking outside of the student union on Pitt Campus and I thought – “Wow!  She looks so relaxed!” and asked her for a smoke. 

     And for twenty years (except for when pregnant and nursing), that was my main stress reliever. 

     Am I smart girl?  Sure.  I knew that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, bladder cancer, mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, tongue cancer, breast cancer, and wrinkles.  I knew that smoking causes social separation (especially at parties where you are the only person doing it), family conflict, marital discord, anxiety in your spouse, and bronchitis in the winter.  I knew that I hated getting bundled up during winter to smoke on the back porch; furtiveness (because who wants their kids knowing that they smoke?? what a bad example); sneaky behavior that can be misinterpreted as something else; and disappointment in the people who love you, and really root for you every time you quit.

     Quit.

     That’s such a final word.  But for most smokers, it takes an average of EIGHT TIMES before they are successful.  EIGHT TIMES.  Not even 15 years ago, it was four times. 

     What has happened in the meantime??  Well, cigarette producers have gotten crafty.  They have bred tobacco plants specifically to increase the level of addiction in consumers (which is what you do to cigarettes, you CONSUME them.  What’s left of a cigarette when you are done?  just the filter.)  They have changed the additives that they put in their product in order to make them more appealing, tasty, increase their shelf life, pleasant to inhale.  They spend millions of dollars a year to keep you hooked.

     To keep me hooked.

     So when I had decided to change my tact, to really create a quit-successful internal atmosphere (in my brain.  in my SOUL), I went whole-hog.  I recruited two lifelong friends to be my accountability partners (thanks Su and Lisa!) – aka BABYSITTERS – who I knew would consistently and usefully guilt me.  I threw away all lighters.  I changed up the back porch furniture configuration to make it an environment hostile to smoking (removed my “favorite” chair, threw away the coffee can under the bush so that I wouldn’t have a safe place to hide butts, and I set a date for final quit.  New Year’s Day. 

     I also “came out” on facebook. 

     Now, normally I am not a fan of shaming.  But when it is for a good cause…. 🙂

     And it worked!  IT WORKED.  Knowing that all the people that I loved (or even casual friends) could hold me accountable for my actions; that my best friend, my husband, was quietly and cautiously rooting for me – he had watched me quit SO MANY TIMES BEFORE and was very gentle and nonjudgmental; reading all the research on how you increase your health, lifespan, and quality of life, and decrease your chances for every type of cancer and other horrible diseases; and actually watching online videos and looking at photos of people who had whole parts of their bodies cut away in order to remove cancers that smoking had caused; IT WORKED.

     How does this connect to my children, my motherhood? 

     I couldn’t sit by and continue to do something that I would smack my teenager for if I caught him doing it. 

     I couldn’t sit by and do something that contributed to my maternal grandmother’s death at the young age of 42 (one year older than I am right now!)

     I couldn’t sit by and continue to justify the selfish act of lighting up every time, and saying to myself, “Well, this is my ME time.  I am a hard-working mother and I deserve it!” 

     I couldn’t let myself continue to do something that might kill me before my parents passed away; leave my children motherless; leave my husband wife-less (is that even a word); leave a legacy of people tsk-tsking “She was so young” at my funeral.

     Or even bear the thought – the imaginative thought – of having to face my God, trying to justify my passive suicide by cigarette, and saying to him:

     “Well, this is my ME time.”

When you are a mother.  There. Is. No. Such. Thing.