Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Most Important Thing

"Is your faith important to you?" The man at worked asked me.

"Yes, I replied."

"Is it the most important thing?" He queried.

Fumbling for a minute, I replied, "Yes, I guess it is."

I'd just never thought of my faith that way. I'd thought of my faith as innate, as vital to my identity, as important, but I guess I'd never thought of it as the "most important." I guess I'd never pondered what was "the most important thing" in my life. I'd just lived.

But now that I've had my co-worker's prompt, I've begun to examine why my faith is the most important thing in my life. It's my foundation, the reason I exist, the reason I have hope. It's the reason I can do the work I do, how I cope. I believe someone bigger (GOD) is in control. 

My is internal through the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. But it's also external, and should be visible in how I live my life, in how I practice my profession, in the way I interact with others. And that should show.

Is my faith perfect? Is my expression of it perfect? No, but I want to work at it. And that's also part of why my faith is most important, because it motivates me to become better, not to earn my salvation or eternal life, but to be more like Jesus. Because HE is the most important person that died for my sins to save my soul and give me this faith. And He lived a life that showed His most important faith by his actions.



What about you? What's the most important thing in your life? Please share below.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Chocolate Cinnamon Cantaloupe Oatmeal

You might have noticed that chocolate oatmeal is one of my favorite things. With the heat of summer, I've still been craving it, but well, it's hot, so not as enjoyable. This lovely combo is the best of both worlds, though. Sweet, spicy, warm oats topped with cooling cantaloupe:


I included cinnamon in this recipe (to sweeten the oats), plus a little ginger. Eating each bite of cantaloupe with a bite of chocolate yields just the right ratio of cold and hot, sweet, and not. Enjoy!


Ingredients:



1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 1/2 c water
3 t dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger

1/2 c (or more) diced cantaloupe


Directions:



1. Bring oats and water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cocoa, cinnamon, and ginger.
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, and top with diced cantaloupe.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What's Helping Me Get Through

Work's a little busy. Life's a little crazy. How am I getting through? These five self-care practices help:

1) Slow breakfasts: Giving myself 45 minutes to sit and eat and scroll through my phone. Admittedly, I can get overly caught up in negative research on my phone, or fall into the comparison trap of social media, but overall, it's a good habit.

2) Sleep: I can't get enough of it, and weekend naps are key! I sometimes give up other social engagements or activities to get in my time. Sleep is just so important right now.

3) Podcasts: Filling my mind with positive thoughts helps fight the negative ones. External noise also helps quiet the internal noise. Right now, I'm a major fan of The Chasing Joy Podcast with Georgie Morley. It's positive content and helpful tips for living a life of overall wellness. Double win!

4) Eating more protein: Days are long and being hungry/having low blood sugar just isn't good. So even though I'd like to be vegetarian, I've started eating more meat. I've also started supplementing my diet with and protein powder and protein bars. Right now, I just need that little "extra."

5) Moving: I still haven't quite figured out the right rest and exercise balance, but moving feels good, especially when I sit at a desk or ride in a car all day. Sometimes movement is walking, sometimes slowly running (or trotting, as I prefer to call it), sometimes yoga, and sometimes weightlifting and/or HIIT. Movement just makes the day go better, and sometime being sore gives me something to focus on other than ruminating about the craziness of life
These are the current ways I'm practicing self-care, but what about you? What's getting you through right now?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Afghan 53

I've been crocheting three rows a day, almost every day, since I started my new job. It's a self-care practice, a way to de-stress, time to listen to podcasts and get in "the flow." Completing crochet projects is also a reminder to me that life isn't perfect, that things can be beautiful even if flawed, and that sometimes finishing is all it takes.

Take for instance, the afghan below. The pattern confused me a bit and I improvised to make it work. The afghan turned out smaller than I would have liked. (I also omitted the fringe since I didn't think that would be good for a baby.) In all honestly, I'm a little bit embarrassed to show it, but here it is:



I pray that this afghan will bless some baby somewhere, even if it's just in the form of covering a baby carrier or being drug around as "blankie."

This pattern is another from my friend's great pattern compilation: The Southwest Afghan by Katherine Eng. I completed it using my favorite size J Boye ergonomic crochet hook (the only one I use anymore) and Red Heart soft navy yarn.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Date with Dad

Today marks my second annual date with Dad to the Watson Lake Car Show. I'd argue that it's one of the largest car shows in our area, and it happens every summer about this time. Dad like cars and I like spending time with Dad, so it works for us.

Our date started with breakfast at Panera, my suggestion since it is kind of on the way to the car show. Dad had suggested a local breakfast place in our town, but I countered, and he agreed.

We then continued on to the car show. Thankfully Dad drove the pickup truck as the parking was in a field and a bit dicey. And there was mud. My little old four-door car wouldn't have liked that so much.

Dad usually starts at the front of the car show and works back. That's okay, except that the front part is the small engine section in the shade while the back part is the actual car show in the sunny field. Dad also likes to talk to the guys at the front which is fine, but sometimes results in it getting late and us not making it to the back of the show. So this time, I asked Dad if we could start at the back to see the cars first and we did! (We also saw some interesting swap meet items.)

There were some pretty fancy cars in the back, like a wheelie truck and an Opel and a Jaguar. Some of the coolest cars are at the front of the show with the small engines, though, like this old sheep herder's truck:

And this shiny red truck (I'd have to ask Dad what it is):


It was a good morning spent out in the sun with good company, but I think the key thing that made this date with Dad enjoyable was compromise. I used my voice to speak up and ask Dad for things that would make the time more enjoyable for me, and Dad compromised. Sure, I might not have stayed so long at certain booths or talked so long to certain people, but that was my compromise. I don't know about Dad, but I came away satisfied and content, which is the ultimate goal in any compromise. I also got to spend time with Dad which is rare, due to our work schedules, and something we're trying to work on since I didn't get along that well with Dad that well in high school and then moved away for ten years.

End of story? Second annual date with Dad to the Watson Lake Car Show = Double win!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pursuing Rest via Yoga


I started a more intensive yoga practice last fall while working at a school that offered after-school vinyasa classes for staff. Our teacher was a wonderful woman that knew just how far to push and challenge us. I'd come out of each hour class feeling sweaty, tired, and at peace. I thought that was how yoga was supposed to.

I couldn't go to yoga classes in January, so I committed to Do Yoga With Me's 30 Day Yoga Challenge. I realized that not all yoga classes were an hour in length, and I had to accept the fact that sometimes yoga didn't stretch me and energize me like the vinyasa classes. Sometimes it just rested me.

Fast forward to March and another yoga challenge that involved way too much lying on the ground and philosophizing, and I was pretty set in my yoga ways. I wanted the classes to be long and tired.


But then life got in the way of yoga, our yoga teacher left, and I didn't find time to fit in my weekly hour of yoga. I put yoga off or just did it occasionally. I toyed around with a new video yoga instructor, Lesley Fightmaster, and did a few short classes. But I wasn't committed.

After reading HummusSapien's Love Letter to Anxiety last week, however, I think I'm ready to recommit to a more regular yoga practice. Though building strength to survive those hour yoga classes is cool, what I really need from yoga are the components of muscle stretching and brain rest. Lesley Fightmaster's classes have just enough chatarungas to keep me moving and she always ends with an inspiring quote, so for now, I think I'll still with her classes. So long, hard, sweaty vinyasa. Hello, rest, because right now, that's what I need more of to moderate my life. 


*And if you're like me, living a busy lifestyle but in need of  the rest of yoga, I recommend Lesley's Fightmaster's "10 Minute 'Emergency' Yoga Sequence." As said in the video, some yoga is better than no yoga.*

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Self-Improvement

I recently completed Paige Schmidt's 10-day Authentically You course. (I'm kind of a self-improvement junkie and jump on courses that are free and not gimmicky-which Paige's aren't.) In completing the course, I kept coming back to the idea of approaching self-improvement from a stance of worthlessness versus from a place of worthiness. Let me explain.

When I try to improve myself to gain worth, I fail. I can never do enough to please my perfectionist self. I can never do enough to please my judgmental peers. I can never do enough to gain complete, unmerited favor with my family. Simply put, I am not enough to please people 100% of the time. So improving myself to gain approval isn't going to work.
On the other hand, if I operate from a place of worthiness, I work to improve myself because I love myself and want my life to be better. When I learn to love myself more, I get out of the head space of trying to earn worth. When my life is better, I have more energy to attend to the needs of other people and serve them well. So operating from a place of worthiness is not necessarily selfish or self-centered. How do you operate from a place of worthiness? That is probably another post for another time.

For now, I encourage you to stop trying to improve yourself from a place of worthlessness. Stop saying:

"I'll be beautiful when I lose X pounds." 
"I'll be strong when I gain X pounds of muscle."
 I'll be happy when I get a promotion at work."
"I'll be content when I find a person to marry."
"My life will be worth something when I make a difference."

Don't stop working towards self-improvement and healthy goals. Just approach them differently. Approach them from a place of worthiness:

"I'm trying to improve my nutrition so that I'll have more energy to play with the dog I love."
"Weight-lifting is a good habit to have for relieving stress."
"I know I am capable of moving up the ladder at work and am working toward it."
"I love myself and can't wait to find a person to share love with for the rest of my life."
"I believe I have something to give to the world, so I work with integrity and hope."
Changing our self talk requires work. But I think that work with be worth it, and actually contribute to more success with our self-improvement projects.

Thoughts? Comments? I'd love to hear you motivate yourself to work towards self-improvement. Which strategies work, and which don't?