Happy New Year: wrapping up 2015 and focusing on 2016

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Well, happy 2016 to everyone! This is the last official day off I have before school starts back on Monday and I thought I would take time to reflect on 2015 and look ahead to 2016.

I realized that I have not blogged at all since August! I did not even get to write about some of my resolutions that I was really excited about, like Live Simply and Dream Big. Maybe I will get to come back to those – I am sad that I did not keep up with my blogging and goals for the year, though coincidentally (ha!), school started August 24th, and as you may have noticed, after that absolutely NO blogging took place at all!

Despite falling off the bandwagon, I really have been thinking about 2016 and what I want to achieve and all that it is going to bring. And I realized I wanted to write about it! So, here I am, back at the old blog to do one last post. Not sure if I’ll start another blog after this or just keep using this one as a place to organize my thoughts… of course, school is starting again January 4th, so perhaps no posting will happen again until about June 2016!

2016 and All that it Brings!

There are a lot of things I am excited about for this year. To start, I only have half a year left before I’ll have one year of being a 6th grade teacher under my belt! (And I will be able to say, “I survived!”)

I have been asked to be a part of the preacher search committee at my church, so that will bring a lot of new challenges and experiences for me this year. I feel very excited to be a part of this team and know I will learn a lot from it (and hopefully be able to bring something to the table as well!)

Probably the biggest change 2016 will bring with it is the arrival of Baby Pye – due July 9th! Obviously Dean and I are already anticipating the huge changes that will be taking place this summer as we start our adventure as parents. (Maybe that can be an idea for a new blog series! Hope you guys don’t mind too many baby pictures!) I have found myself already wanting to get the house in order and just prepare for this new little person, and I imagine that desire will only get stronger as time draws nearer!

Another thing I am excited about for 2016 is the chance to work on my marriage. Dean and I have started going to counseling recently, and I really believe the timing is perfect for us, especially with the new baby on the way. This is the first time we have gone to counseling where I really feel like we both are desiring to change and work together on issues we have. And we really love our counselor, she is great, which makes a HUGE difference in the counseling experience! (If you don’t like or connect with your counselor, you probably are not going to gain a whole lot from the experience.) I would highly recommend to every couple to go to counseling at one point or another – and to find a counselor that incorporates God into their thinking and practice – because God is a necessary part of any marriage working out, I really believe that! (This is definitely another topic I could do an entire post on, but I’ll stop here before I fall off my soap box…)

 

2016 Resolutions

I don’t plan on doing another Happiness Project for 2016 – or having quite so many goals and resolutions for this year. But I have one resolution that has been sticking in my mind for the past few weeks:

NO COMPLAINING

Yeah, like… ever.

Wait, what? Not possible.

I did a post back in July about being positive, with one of my tangible goals being No Complaining. Here’s a link back to that post if you are interested in reading it:

https://ericapye.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/july-be-positive/

That month was my hardest challenge of all the challenges I undertook. Every other month when I had a specific focus, I at least felt I could keep it up for one month while it was my main focus. But this one, even with it being my main goal for that month, I failed at it over and over again. Maybe that’s why God has put it on my heart again – he knows where I struggle!

I still have my notecards up by my bathroom mirror from July with a few encouraging words and verses about being positive – one of them being Philippians 2:14-15

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Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…

I guess the thought occurred to me the other day that it says “Do EVERYTHING without complaining,” and I thought “Really? Everything?” What would that even look like to never complain about anything? What is this verse trying to tell us here? Does this mean we can never express frustration at anything? Or say things like “I am really upset about __________ .”? Does that count as complaining?

I am still trying to hash this out, but to me it seems like if we are really filled with the Spirit, (Galatians 5), then we will be so filled with things like love and compassion and patience that we won’t find it so easy to spout off about everything bad in our lives, or the minuscule things that didn’t go our way that day. Maybe we will even start treating others better and find that it’s easier to make friends and develop real relationships with people – which could lead to countless other opportunities we can’t even imagine! (Just maybe….)  

Am I going to fail at this goal? Yes. Many times? Yes.

Am I still going to try? YES!

Have a happy and positive 2016!!!

 

 

August: Make Time For People

Stay connected with family

Maintain close friendships

Make new friendships

Forgive easily

Talk to random strangers

August 11, 2015

Originally, this goal was titled “Make Time For People That Matter,” but as I was typing it I realized, I guess I should make time for people that don’t matter too… 

In all seriousness though, I wanted this goal to be about taking time to really develop relationships with people I think are important. It’s too easy to lose touch with people you really wish you hadn’t. And I know that I don’t want to look back later in life and regret not getting to spend more time with the people I love – even if they may drive me crazy at times. 

I feel like God has really been sending me the message to focus on FAMILY this month. Originally my goal for the month of August was going to be “Living Simply” – a goal I am actually really pumped about and want to share with you all. But so many things have taken place that I felt very certain I needed to change the focus for this month. 

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My mother-in-law and me at White Sands Monument

Dean and I just got back from a 5 day trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico, where we spent time with his aunt and uncle at their cabin. Dean’s mom drove to Abilene and then all 3 of us (4 if you include Oliver, which we do!) drove up together to Ruidoso. I was a little hesitant to go on this trip for many reasons – the main one was that school is starting for me soon, and I knew giving up 5 days of my time would be hard to do when I still have a lot that needs to be done before the first day of school. The second reason is that Dean’s uncle is a little, oh, let’s just say rough around the edges. 

But, I decided it would be worth it to go – and ultimately I am glad I did. The trip had its ups and downs (that could be a whole other blog post!) but we definitely made some good memories on the trip and I think Dean’s family really enjoyed having us there. Did I lose some precious time I could have been working on my classroom or doing lesson plans? Yes. But 10 years from now I think going on this trip will be worth more to me than being a bit more prepared for school. (What teacher is really ever completely prepared anyways?) 

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Dean and Kathy in the river in Ruidoso

Today I had another experience that really solidified in my mind that God wanted this month to be about family for me: today I found out that my uncle David had kind of a serious accident that put him in the hospital. My mom called me around 11am or so, and for the entire rest of the day I have been getting updates. Because of this situation, I got to talk to two of my cousins that I don’t regularly talk to (they were wanting updates on the situation). It just made me think – why do we only get in touch with family when things like this happen? Why do we have to wait for illnesses or funerals? It was nice to touch bases with them and I know it made me realize that I want to be better about keeping up with family, ALL my family. 

I don’t really come from a huge family anyways – and Dean doesn’t either. At least not huge compared to those people who have like 50 family members at every holiday event. Recently I have been around some friends who do have big families and it kind of made me miss having big family get-togethers. Some of my best memories are of times at my Grandma’s house when my family and my cousins’ families were there and we all just had fun together. (Always involving food of some kind!) I know I’m probably remembering through rose-colored glasses a bit, but I still say those were some of my best times. It’s a bit harder to have these times when my extended family is living in 3 different states. Maybe we can work on a family reunion sometime??? (Probably occurring at some sort of Disney-themed park or something…)

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My Dad visiting us – April 2015

 

It also makes me think that I would want to give that experience to my kids if Dean and I do start a family someday. A bit tricky with my parents in Arizona and Dean’s family in Houston, but I guess we will figure it out somehow. At the very least we can be more purposeful about getting together, even if it means spending money on airfare to do it. Both of my parents have come out to visit us in Abilene recently, and I was just so grateful they did. I only get to go to Arizona 2-3 times a year because of the time and money it takes to get there. So that means not really seeing my family too much – but this year has been a lot of fun having people come out to see us more often.  And I know years down the road from now we will be so glad we took the time (and yes, money… though I’ll be honest it was a lot more of my parent’s money… thanks Mom and Dad!) to do it too.

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My Mom came into town to see Gone With the Wind at the Paramount

Don’t Miss the Opportunity!

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July 25, 2015

Okay, so usually whatever resolution I am focused on for the month I do semi-okay at. When the next month comes and a new resolution is here, sometimes I forget to go back and make sure I’m still maintaining my goals from past months, like for example, Connecting With God or Being a Good Wifey. So first of all, I’m admitting I need to work harder at not giving up on my previous goals. Secondly – I will admit that I think this has been the hardest goal so far!

I definitely had some really negative moments this month, and even when it occurred to me that this was “Be Positive” month, many times I still decided to be in a bad mood and say mean and sometimes hurtful things. It’s been a humbling realization that I really need to improve greatly in this area – I’m thankful for God’s grace and patience with me and will pray that his Spirit fills me with joy and love and warm fuzzies.

That being said, I want to focus on one of my tangible goals for this month: Find the Opportunity. I think if we’re not purposeful about being positive and looking for opportunities, it’s easy to miss them. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and what’s happening in our life that we can forget to think about other people. We get frustrated when things don’t go according to our plan – we refuse to be flexible. Think about it – have you ever had to stand in a long line at say, Walmart or Target? It makes us angry – and a lot of what I observe is that people take it out on the poor cashier at the front. Why is it that taking just 10 or 15 minutes extra of our time causes us to become enraged? That could be a whole other blog post in itself, but this is just one instance where we can look for an opportunity. We have an opportunity to be a smiling face for that poor cashier, an opportunity to show love like Jesus would. 

I went to the mall last week to shop for shoes (didn’t find any I liked, at my price range) and while I was there I had in mind this idea of “finding opportunities.” So, when inevitably one of those people at those infamous booths in between the stores asked me if I wanted a free sample, and then asked if they could show me their products – I decided to say yes. It was strange, normally I avoid those people (you know, walk on the other side of the walkway, don’t make eye contact) but I just had this thought that, you know, they are people too and maybe they needed to see a smiling face today. Maybe somehow I could be Jesus to this person.  

So, I had this young girl show me these flat irons, she tried it out on my hair and showed me how it could also curl my hair. I knew that her end goal was a sale, and she was really working hard to sell me on it. In the midst of her spiel, she would ask me questions like where I was from and if I was married, so I got to reciprocate. I learned she was 18, had plans to go to college in a month or so. I smiled while she told me she would throw in 2 free full-size samples of shampoo and conditioner after I bought this amazing flat iron from her. I finally told her that I wasn’t going to be making a purchase that day (at which point she threw in the once-in-a-lifetime really special deal that she doesn’t do for everyone). I still declined, but told her I would keep her products in mind and that it was nice meeting her. 

After that, I then walked into Journeys to look at some shoes (not really to buy, because I didn’t want to spend that much on shoes, just to look, they have some cute Disney shoes!) One of the guys working there said “hello” and asked me if I needed help. I told him I was just browsing. At this point, I expected him to say something like, “okay, well let me know if you need anything.” But instead, he started asking me questions like, “what did I do for a living?” and “how did I like teaching?” and “how long did it take me to get my degree?” So again, I took an opportunity. I stood and talked with this guy for about 5-10 minutes, about nothing related to shoes. I learned he was in college, had plans to become a radiologist, his family was from the Philippines but he wanted to keep living in the states… and then I told him it was nice talking to him and left the store.

Now I know that I can’t tell you for sure that me stopping and talking to these 2 people really made that big of a difference in either of their days. There’s no way for me to know. But the point is that maybe it did. And even if it didn’t, it definitely made me more mindful of stopping to care about the people I run into as I go about my day. These people are both people that Jesus loves, and that should be enough to make me stop and treat them as such.

Finding opportunities definitely takes purposeful thought, and obviously it can take a bit more time out of your day. But I am looking forward to seeing what opportunities God will present me with if I keep looking for them – I think if we’re willing, God will put us in just the right places at the right times to really make a difference in people’s lives.    

 

July: Be Positive

No complaining

Only say encouraging words

Choose to be happy

Be grateful

Find the opportunity

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July 6, 2015

It’s 7:00am on a Monday morning, and for the first time in my whole life, I got stung by a wasp. It was slightly traumatic, not really the getting stung part, though that did hurt – but the terror of running away from wasps chasing you, thinking you are safe, and then realizing a few of them made it in the house as you were running inside. Those wasps had it in for me and were playing mind games with me, waiting until I was lulled into a false sense of security before they struck again!

Okay… so maybe I was adding to the mind games a bit myself. (But honestly, I really was scared and kind of had a breakdown.) So – not a great start to my week. But I thought it would be a great, if not slightly ironic, story to kick off my new resolution for the month of July: Be Positive. Is there a way to reframe a wasp sting into something positive?

I choose to say yes – even this can be turned positive! I’ll give you an example. I called Dean after I got stung and told him what happened – he usually gets coffee with a few friends on Monday mornings so he had already left for the day. (At this point I didn’t know there were 2 wasps in the house.) He was sympathetic, told me to look up how to treat wasp stings and let him know if I had any bad reactions. So I went on with my morning, when all of a sudden I heard it – that noise, that buzzing wasp noise. I screamed and ran and locked myself in our bedroom. I texted Dean at this point “There is a wasp in the house. Help.” Without me asking him to, Dean texts me back “Ok, I’m headed over.” For some reason at this point, the tears started coming. I can’t explain it, I just had been so scared but at the same time so relieved that Dean was coming to save me. And he did – took care of the 2 wasps and then left again to go to work.

So, my positive for today: I am grateful to have a husband who is willing to be interrupted from his day to come take care of me. I know it probably sounds silly that I was that scared to face these wasps, but I was – and maybe Dean even thought it was silly, but he came anyway.

On Sunday in bible class, we talked about the approachability of Jesus – specifically how he handled interruptions in his day and how he had compassion on the people who asked him for help. We looked at Mark chapter 2, the story of the paralytic man who was lowered down to Jesus through the roof. It had never really occurred to me before that this was an interruption – it says Jesus was teaching the Word, and right in the middle of it this man literally drops in. Now Jesus could have gotten upset or even angry at the men who did this, but he doesn’t. He takes the time to not only heal the man, but forgive his sins. And he commends the men for their bold faith.

What a positive reframe! Is this the way we normally act when things don’t go our way or how we expect them to? I know for me it definitely isn’t. I think it takes purposeful thought to be the kind of person who can go with the flow and make the most of every opportunity. That’s why I added my last tangible goal of “Find the opportunity” to the list. Even when things don’t go my way, there’s still an opportunity I have to make the most of it.

So, as I begin this month trying to be a more positive and upbeat person, I want to keep in mind two verses:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…
-Philippians 2:14-15
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
-Ephesians 4:29

 

Mrs. Pye’s Food Rules

June 25, 2015
I’m sitting here writing this post while listening to “Non Stop Best Songs of Backstreet Boys” on YouTube – it’s 1 hour and 54 minutes long. I know many of you are dying for the link to this, so just message me and I’ll send it to you! I know I’ve got some closet BSB fans among my readers!
Even thought it’s summer, I’ve been doing a lot of work for the upcoming year when I start teaching 6th grade. I just went up to my classroom today to drop off some things and so I’m kind of in teacher mode again for the day. Therefore, I’ll be sharing my food rules with you as “Mrs.Pye” today. 
I said that I thought there were a few rules that I thought everyone would be better off following – and these are rules I mostly stick to myself (especially this month, since I’m focusing on health… and yes I am still drinking my lemon water and green drinks daily and exercising still!)

Mrs. Pye’s Food Rules

1. Eat more veggies!
2. less processed food = better for you
3. sugar is basically poison
4. buy organic when possible
5. walk or exercise daily
I don’t think these rules are that extreme or surprising – but I’ll go ahead and dive into each one for those of you interested in why I picked these 5.

1. EAT MORE VEGGIES – I think this is one thing most people and doctors/scientists/nutritionists can agree on – everyone should be eating a lot of vegetables! If you aren’t purposeful about it, sometimes it’s easy to miss out on veggies for the whole day. For example, maybe you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a ham and cheese sandwich with chips for lunch, and spaghetti and meatballs for dinner… not a single vegetable in sight! I try to find ways to incorporate veggies into every meal, even breakfast. If you are a smoothie person, blend some leafy greens in with your fruit – or have an omelet jam-packed with veggies first thing in the morning. My favorite go-to meal is just a stir-fry of vegetables, maybe with some meat, over quinoa or rice. Stir-frying is great because you just throw in a bunch of stuff, season it or make a sauce and then you are eating all kinds of vegetables in one sitting! Look up recipes featuring vegetables, figure out how to prepare ones you have never tried before, FoodBabe.com has a lot of great ideas, as does sites like Pinterest!

2. LESS PROCESSED FOOD = BETTER FOR YOU – If most of your meals come from a box or from a drive-thru, you are seriously missing out on nutrients your body need. In general, when you buy food, the less ingredients listed on the package, the better. And if there are ingredients you can’t pronounce or spell, that is not a good sign. Try making food at home instead of buying it. I know my mom started making her own vanilla ice cream at home instead of buying it – so she can decide exactly which ingredients she is putting in it and leave out any unnecessary junk. In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollen suggests that you shouldn’t buy anything with more than 5 listed ingredients. Start paying attention to ingredient labels when you go shopping – if this is not a normal habit, it may be very eye-opening. For example, so many processed foods have hidden added sugars in them, like whole wheat bread and ketchup – in my opinion this is just to make them more addictive, the body craves sugar and can easily get hooked on it. Which leads me to my next point…

3. SUGAR IS BASICALLY POISON – A strong statement, but thinking in this way really helps me to avoid sugar when I get cravings. Refined sugar will do NOTHING good for your body – there is no nutritional value to it and honestly no reason to eat it ever. I’m not talking about natural sugars like in fruit or carbs, I mean that stuff in Snicker’s bars and cookies and ice cream. If you really want to be healthy, in my opinion, you’ll need to seriously cut back on this stuff. I’m not saying you have to go cold turkey right away, but start making changes to not needing dessert after every meal, and again, pay attention to see if the foods you are eating have hidden added sugar. You might be getting in more sugar each day than you realize. And don’t even get me started on sugar in sodas (another worthless substance to put in your body!)

4. BUY ORGANIC WHEN POSSIBLE – This is the one rule I feel like people might debate with me about, or at least roll their eyes at me about. I started transitioning to buying organic foods after watching “Food Inc.” and realizing what conventional meat has in it. The ways food is processed these days is scary. With so many added preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, and hormones you just kind of are taking a gamble if you don’t buy organic (or from a trusted farmer or farmer’s market). The thing is, the food you eat becomes part of you. You are absorbing and using nutrients from your food, and if your food is bathed in a bunch of chemicals, those chemicals are going to become a part of you too. And from the sources I have looked at, there have not really been very many studies on the long-term effects of consuming so many chemicals to the degree that it is being done these days. I prefer to know I am eating clean, pure food – which is why I’m careful about the sources I get my food from. Yes, organic and pure food is more expensive – make an investment in your health!

5. WALK OR EXERCISE DAILY – Okay, I know this one is not about food, but still important! Obviously we all know we are supposed to exercise, again, no one’s arguing against that. You decide how often and long and hard you can do it – each person is different. My tip for exercising more: get a dog – they will definitely encourage you to get out and go walking more!

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Oliver and I at ACU fountain on an early morning walk

Here’s the Story, of a Lovely Lady…

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June 18, 2015

No, not that lady! I said in my last post I would share my story (not Carol Brady’s) of how I got so passionate about healthy eating. Lucky for me, I used to be an avid journaler (at least before I became a school teacher) and I could really look back and see the journey unfold in my writing.

So, let’s take a trip back in time to say about 2006 or so, back when I was a freshman in college. I remember going to Ryan’s (one of those all you can eat homestyle buffet places) with Dean and his mom. When I came back with my plate of food they laughed – mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, a roll, some white rice… I remember I couldn’t figure out why they were laughing. Then they were like “it’s all carbs!” I didn’t have a single fruit/vegetable on my plate. This was a normal meal for me up to that point in my life.

I was always skinny, so I never really thought about what I ate because I didn’t gain weight and thought that was fine. I did however, have other problems. I had really bad skin in high school – like so bad I had to go on Accutane. This is a high-powered antibiotic that is so intense it can cause birth defects, and you have to get blood work done every month to make sure your liver is still functioning properly. I remember I had to sign a form saying I would use 2 forms of birth control because the birth defects were so severe – granted at this time I was not married and was not having sex, it didn’t matter, if you took Accutane, you had to be on 2 kinds of birth control – I put down my #1 form of birth control as “Abstinence” and was still required to put down something for the #2 spot. (Just in case #1 fell through???)

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Accutane did make a huge difference – but my skin was still far from perfect afterwards. So a few years later in college, maybe like 2007? I was looking in a used bookstore and found the book “The Clear Skin Prescription.” This book was the first book I had read that claimed that what you ate had a huge impact on your skin health. This was a totally new idea for me. I had read hundreds of articles in Teen Magazines claiming that chocolate and pizza did NOT cause acne. This diet is basically a low-glycemic diet, so you can’t eat things like bread, rice, sweets, anything that turns to sugar in your body. Even things like bananas and mangoes were not allowed because their glycemic index was deemed “too high.” I did get some results following this diet – but thought it was too hard because I had to cut out bread and all desserts, so I stopped.

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Fast forward a few more years, in 2010 I watched the documentary “Food Inc.” on Netflix and was pretty much forever changed. After really learning about how meat is processed in this country, I decided that if I was going to eat meat, I should probably buy organic meat. I won’t go into all the specifics, watch the documentary if you’re curious.

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Another documentary on Netflix I watched in July of 2011 was “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” This one is about a guy who goes on a 60 day green juice cleanse to see if he can overcome health problems. I was so inspired by this documentary that for Christmas that year I bought myself my Omega juicer. And then in January of 2012 I decided to go on a Raw Diet. *This was probably the most extreme diet I ever went on. Look up “raw vegan” diet and you will see what I am talking about. I ate only uncooked food, mostly fruits and veggies with some raw nuts here and there. I lasted a little over 2 months, lost a ton of weight, but ultimately decided this could not be a long-term diet for me.

As is common after going on extremely strict diets, after I got off of it I went through a phase of extremely unhealthy eating – eating all the foods I had deprived myself of for 2 months. (Anyone else familiar with this cycle?) I gained a lot of weight back, probably a bit too much, and still had not solved my skin problems.

I was still a believer that eating the right diet could have profound effects on my health and skin. I had seen a difference when I followed the “Clear Skin Prescription,” so I kept on researching. This led me to look into the Paleo diet and the Weston A. Price Foundation Diet. This is where I kind of sit today, although I do not stick 100% to either diet. I try to limit breads and grains (staying away from gluten as much as possible). I really believe in eating foods that support digestive health, so eating things like fermented foods (ex. sauerkraut) and eating homemade bone broth (very good for gut health!) This type of diet seems to work the best for me, especially now that I have added in my lemon water and green drink every day – my skin is actually looking pretty good! I think eating smaller portions helps too, which is also a new thing for me. Whenever I overeat, I can usually expect a new breakout to happen.

So that’s basically my story – I think it’s helpful to remember that this was a process that happened for me over a period of YEARS – slowly changing my habits and being willing to try new foods and diets led me to figure out what works best for me. I definitely don’t regret trying out being a raw vegan, or that one week where I went on a juice fast… I may never do those things again, but now I can say I tried them and I know better what is healthiest for me. And I’m still continuing to figure it out!

NEXT POST: I’ll share with you a few rules about food I think everyone should follow (yes, everyone! Is that too bold to say? Find out next week…)

 

June: Be Healthy

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Exercise daily

Eat mindfully

Lemon water 1st thing in morning

A green drink every day

Small portions

June 9, 2015

Summer is here in full swing! And all the school teachers are collectively rejoicing! It has been so wonderful to take it easy, catch up on some reading, and just get to relax… I’m gonna soak it all in before August 24th gets here!

I thought this month would be a good time to refocus on being healthy – I don’t currently have the excuse of not having enough time, so I’m hoping to get started on cultivating some new (or long lost) habits this month.

As many of you already know, being healthy is not a new interest for me – I feel like I eat pretty good most of the time, I now cook most of my meals at home…

But things were not always this way – I can recall many a morning before school eating Dreyer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream for breakfast. I LOVED eating out – going to restaurants was a favorite pastime of my family. Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Taco Bell were just a regular part of my childhood. And eating vegetables? You could forget it – not unless you counted french fries as a potato and ketchup as a tomato.

So how (and maybe more importantly, WHY?) did I go from eating like that to where I am now? (Currently one of my go-to dinners is quinoa and stir-fried veggies, just ask Dean, he will vouch for me.) I’d love to share the full story of how and why my eating habits changed, but it’s a long one – so I’ll save it for my next post. Stay tuned, folks!
What I’d like to do for the rest of this post is talk about my main health goals for this month and why I have chosen to focus on them. These goals are not the full extent of my healthy habits, but are ones I would like to focus on for this month to help them turn into real habits.

So… my goals for this month are:

  • Exercise daily this means either taking a walk or doing strength exercises at home, no gym membership required!
  • Eat mindfullybe more purposeful about what I am eating, if I’m not hungry, I don’t need to eat. I want to enjoy my meals and savor the food as I’m eating it.
  • Lemon water 1st thing in the morning – a brand new habit I started after reading Vani Hari’s Book, The Food Babe Way. She goes into WAY more detail about why she recommends this habit, but basically it’s a good way to replenish fluids first thing in the morning, and the lemon acts as a detoxifier for your liver – which will help you process all the foods you eat the rest of the day. It’s recommended to have this drink warm, and before any other food or drink. I use the juice from about half a lemon and then about 8-12 ounces of water.
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A typical green juice from my Omega juicer

  • A green drink every day – also another habit recommended by the Food Babe. I already own a pretty nice juicer – an Omega 8004 – I bought it after watching the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and have since gone on and off of using it. Green drinks are made up of mostly green veggies, including lots of leafy greens. A typical green juice for me is 2-3 leaves of kale, 4 leaves of romaine lettuce, half a cucumber, 2 stalks of celery, and half an apple for added sweetness. When I can’t be at home with my juicer I plan on using a green powder, the brand I am using right now is Amazing Grass. What are the benefits to a daily green drink? It helps you get in your vegetables for the day and also helps to detox the body – which in turn is supposed to lead to all kinds of good things like more energy, clearer skin, and better digestion.
  • Small portions – This is a habit I’ve really been working hard at so far. Did you know you don’t have to eat until you’re stuffed? You can stop eating long before that point. Also, you don’t have to eat all the food on your plate just because it’s there – you can save half for a meal the next day or ask for a to-go box at restaurants. Maybe this is not new information for anyone, but it certainly is a new practice for me. I grew up with the habit of eating as much as I wanted, when I wanted it – and that sort of worked because I did not gain weight easily, so I thought that meant it was okay. 
Alice-facepalmFacepalm!

Working against years of ingrained bad habits, I’m working at eating smaller portions and stopping before that “I’m stuffed” feeling. This also means I’m eating a lot more small meals or snacks throughout the day instead of a standard 3 meals a day. So far I am liking it and don’t miss feeling bloated or sick after eating. Benefits to eating smaller portions? Weight management, easier digestion, steady blood sugar throughout the day (which equals more steady energy throughout the day)

In my next post, when I share how I started my journey into healthy eating, I’ll tell you about many habits and rules I follow that are not specific goals for this month, but are some I have committed to following for a long time now. *Disclaimer: These are the goals and rules I have set for myself, and I believe everyone’s health journey is different, so you’ll have to figure out what works for you. I am hopeful that some of my ideas will be helpful to you – which is why I am really excited to share them with you soon!
I’ll try to stay off the soapbox as much as possible – healthy eating is a subject I’m very passionate about and have done a lot of personal research into. I’d love to talk more about it with any of you – just send me a message and we’ll chat!


A Wife of Noble Character Who Can Find?

May 26, 2015

How is it possible that May is almost over? This month has been full of things happening and I realize that I did not get to post much about my theme for this month: BE A GOOD WIFEY.

My last day of school was May 16 (on a Saturday, yes… Saturday!) and the last few weeks leading up to it were crazy! I felt like I was running around ragged the first half of the month. And even after school was over, I was in the process of moving all my things out of my classroom, which was also an exhausting task. Needless to say, I did NOT successfully keep all of my resolutions for this month. In fact, if I’m gonna be honest with all of you, I think I did pretty miserably!

Two things that just did not get done nearly as much as I was hoping were praying with Dean every day and doing the dishes. There were just some days I was so tired that I forgot or decided it could wait another day. And one particular day I remember telling Dean I was just so tired and overwhelmed, but that I would try to do the dishes later – and he just went over there and did all the dishes without me asking him to. And I remember thinking “this is going to look bad on my next blog post!” Haha – not that I am complaining!

There were a few successes though – I asked Dean this month if he could think of a video game that we could play together. Normally I don’t want to play video games and lecture Dean about how much time he already spends playing video games. So this was kind of a big change for us. He chose a game, called Trine 2, for the PS4. It’s kind of a fantasy game, with wizards, knights and quests, etc. Honestly, it has been kind of fun. I usually play as the character Zoya the Thief. She has a bow and arrow for a weapon and also a grappling hook that she can use to easily get to higher ground, so basically she’s the best character! I’m getting better at navigating her controls, though I am certainly not an expert!

Zoya, the Thief

I think one of the coolest things that happened this month was that one night Dean opted to play video games with me instead of playing his normal game, Battlefield, with the guys. He probably plays about once a week online with his friends, and I thought for sure he would not want to give that up to play Trine 2 with me, but he did! (Sorry guys, you know who you are!) One big point of contention with me and video games is that sometimes I feel like I am competing for Dean’s time and attention. So this was nice to feel validated, but at the same time I was agreeing to do something that he liked… so maybe a bit of a compromise?

Another success this month had to do with my goal of “Being my husband’s biggest fan.” What this goal meant for me was to say more encouraging words and be supportive of goals and dreams that Dean has for himself. Dean for a while has been a bit unsure of where he wants to go next in his career path. He has even brought up going back to school before, which I usually immediately follow that up with questions about how we are going to afford to pay for it. (Not the most supportive, I know.) This month, Dean had an opportunity for a promotion at work, but he ended up not getting it. I was really disappointed and frustrated at first, but honestly I believe God has something better planned. Ever since then, Dean has been ultra-motivated to job hunt here in Abilene, even looking at career possibilities he normally would have overlooked before. Dean also has been telling me that he would like to take some courses in IT – and going along with my goal for this month, instead of complaining about the cost, I told him that if he wanted to do it, he should do it. It has been so nice to see Dean getting excited about his job (or I guess I should say future job). And it has been nice to feel like maybe in a small way I have helped encourage that excitement instead of stamping it out. I’m really looking forward to seeing where God leads him next – I know he will do great wherever he ends up!

Although I did not come close to keeping all my resolutions this month, I feel like it was valuable and I learned a lot. One thing I learned is that I really do not want to have a job that keeps me too exhausted to feel like I can be the wife I am supposed to be. I am so excited about summer because I feel like I will have time to really be present with Dean and do the things for him I always plan on doing. And maybe with my new job next school year, things will be easier too – at least that’s my hope! The nice thing about this resolution is that it is not just a one-month kind of thing. Even though I didn’t accomplish all the things I wanted to, I can try again next month. (And the next, and the next! I can just keep growing in this area and that is exciting to think about!)

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And doesn’t this guy deserve it??? Love you, Dean!

Proverbs 31:10-31 
 The Wife of Noble Character
10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

May: Be A Good Wifey

Be my husband’s biggest fan

Honor my husband to others

Like what Dean likes – have fun together

Show Dean’s family more love

Pray with Dean every day

Do the dishes

May 1, 2015

This month is dedicated to being a better wife to this man right here:

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Gretchen Rubin in her book, also dedicated a month to her spouse. I thought it was a great idea, and a great way to really focus on ways to strengthen our relationship and just be an encourager this month.

Ideally, Dean won’t read these posts until after the month is over – I don’t want to spoil any surprises! Usually I have to remind him to read my blog, and maybe (as those of you who know him can attest to) since he hardly checks Facebook, he won’t see that I’ve put up any new posts for a while. *Dean – if you are reading this, close it out and come back in June! 🙂

Before I go into any specific resolutions for this month, let me just tell you that in the almost 10 years I have known Dean, he has immensely blessed my life in so many ways! If I were to describe our relationship to you in one word, it would be the word: FUN. Thinking back on all we have done over the years, I just am remembering so many fun adventures we have shared!

Obviously there are so many great memories from Harding University, where we met. 

207949_510234793931_5424_nThe first picture taken of us together (2005)
870_534524537091_5615_nAt a XEA formal – 2008
10398793_518485354741_3633_nRainy evening at Harding – 2008

I had the privilege of taking Dean on his first trip to Disneyland in 2006. And we have gone back to Disney many times since!

1927725_511506305811_4561_nFirst trip ever! – 2006
1923547_515230123251_7709_n2nd Trip – Christmastime 2007
254857_666288830391_3873088_nAt the tiki room – 2011 
10378911_10100235351211791_6176759266723379783_nDisneyworld for our 5th Anniversary – 2014 

A favorite pastime of ours is taking pictures together – usually not serious ones!

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Well that was a trip down memory lane! It was SO hard to narrow down the pictures, I wanted to share them all with you! As you can tell from the pictures, a huge part of our relationship has always been about fun and laughter together.

Even though we have had a lot of great memories, we’ve still had our share of things to overcome and work through. (Mostly probably due to my stubbornness or lack of maturity – God is continuing to work on me!) Even in the not so fun times, there’s no other person I’d rather be fighting with than Dean. Dean forgives so easily and is so patient. Dean has overlooked so many things it’s just really amazing. He loves me unconditionally and doesn’t hold a grudge. He has taught me (mostly by example) so many things about relationships, not only in our marriage but also just relating to others. He is a leader in our family and I know will be a devoted and caring father to some lucky children some day.

I know you probably think I’m biased and am exaggerating, but seriously, that is Dean! So, what does a man like this deserve from his wife? More than can be done in one month, but I’ll take it one step at a time. I’ve listed some of my goals for this month at the top of my post. Here they are again:

Be my husband’s biggest fan: I want Dean to know I believe in him – I want to be a person who is showering him with encouraging and positive words. I want to support him in his crazy dreams and ideas – I want him to be able to dream big and realize his dreams are not so crazy after all.  

Honor my husband to others: Mostly this one is about when Dean is not around and how I talk about him to others. There are so many good things to be said and I want to only be saying what is lifting him up to others.

Like what Dean likes – have fun together: This one means taking time to appreciate the things Dean likes and spend time doing them together. We have very different interests most of the time, but I’m hoping to foster more of an appreciation for what Dean likes to do. (video games, anyone?)

Show Dean’s family more love: One thing Dean has said is that he wishes we lived closer to his family so he could spend more time with them. I know it means a lot to Dean when I take time to appreciate and remember his family. Even if we aren’t going to be moving closer to them at this time, I can find ways to connect and show love to his family, who is really MY family, too.

Pray with Dean every day: As I feel myself being drawn more to God, I want to bring Dean along with me in that journey. I want to be more purposeful about praying together – every day.

Do the dishes: Probably the most important one of all… okay, maybe not. But this is truly a real goal for this month – no stacked up dishes in the sink! This is probably Dean’s biggest pet peeve, and I am going to try my hardest to do some dishes every day so we don’t have mountains of them all over the place. I’ll let you know how this one goes!

Don’t Go Changing…

April 18, 2015

I’ve been talking a lot about embracing and accepting yourself for you who are this month. And I’m so glad I have taken a month to reflect on this! There is so much to be said for being comfortable and confident in yourself, and everyone should be able to experience that. Just like Billy Joel says:

tumblr_mloioqqNxL1qzy7u8o1_1280              I know, it's a strange picture...

That being said, ever since I chose to write about this topic, there has been part of me that wanted to talk about the need for CHANGE. I know this may seem odd since we have just been thinking about how to accept who we are – but as with everything, there’s a balance. And sometimes you come across parts of yourself that you need to change.

 *This is very different than a dissatisfaction with life in general! The change I’m talking about is not about longing to be someone else or look like someone else. It’s not about making a list of everything you hate about yourself and vowing to change all of those things.

When I talk about change, I’m talking about personal and spiritual growth – there’s a very different motivation behind this kind of change. I think when you feel called to change in this way, that you should embrace that change in yourself.

What does this kind of change look like? Romans 12 starts off by saying:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

(Romans 12:1-2, MSG)

I was reading this passage the other day and loved how The Message put it – and what’s cool is that it talks about embracing the things in your life that you see God leading you to (acceptance) and yet at the same time being ready to respond to what God may need you to do differently (change!) And if you have a relationship with God and have dedicated your life to Him, He will show you the areas you need to change. And not only that, God does the changing! He transforms us from the inside out!

This kind of change is really the whole reason I started my personal Happiness Project. Each month as I focus on different goals, I’m hoping for a little bit of change. Change that will affect myself and others positively and lead to a better quality of life.

I’ve already identified some areas in my life I’m looking to change – (look back at my first post!) but maybe you haven’t done that yet. Or maybe you do know something about yourself that needs to change, but you haven’t taken steps to do it yet.

I actually have found myself in this very situation this week – knowing there is something I need to do, but getting too discouraged to even start the journey. And in the past, I tried to just not think about it and hoped it would go away. Well, it didn’t. And now I am having to start all over to work on it again. In situations like this it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and give up.

But this time as I’m starting over again, I really feel like things will be different – maybe because I’m approaching it differently. This time, it feels very God-led. I feel God leading me and helping me to make this change (think back to Romans 12 – God does the changing!) I’m praying about it more and keeping optimistic about it because I have faith that God will get me through it. Not only that, but I am talking to more people about it and getting more help from others. Last time I tried to change, I wanted to do it all by myself and not let anyone know I was even struggling with anything. I didn’t even want to share much of my experience with my own husband – so sad because he is my number one supporter and I missed out on getting his help!

Wherever you are being led to change, I hope you will take the necessary steps to get there. And know that you don’t have to do it alone (and you probably can’t do it alone anyways!) Maybe you have some health issues and know you need to be making healthier choices – maybe you have a broken relationship with a friend, family member, or spouse that feels like it will never be mended – maybe you feel stuck in a job that leaves you feeling stressed and exhausted at the end of each day… whatever it is, don’t just ignore it. 

I do think that you can be content with your life, yet be able to embrace change at the same time. They go hand in hand. I’ll leave you with one more scripture that I read the other day that really encouraged me in this matter:

I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

(Philipians 4:10-13, MSG)