Easy Birthday Get Together

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Today we gathered to celebrate the fall birthdays in our family. With a little planning, we were able to go to church and get back in time for everyone to have chili and of course, cake and ice cream for dessert.  It was our first family celebration together in our new house.  We all headed out to the backyard to eat.  I had saved a rug so we could lay it down for the children (and grandma).  The weather was beautiful and Maisie explored geckos and flowers with Aunt Rhiannon, Uncle Evan taught Caden how to use the bubble gun, and laughter and gentle conversation were lovely background noise – all moments I cherish.  Let me talk about the fun an inexpensive bubble gun can create with small children and keep the adults hands bubble liquid free.  Here is one similar to what we have.   The food was simple – the people were precious and the time together was priceless.

Here is how it all came about.  The weekend before I combined the the ingredients for Pumpkin Turkey Chili.  I made 2 batches and froze each batch in a ziplock bag which was placed in a bowl and frozen.  I did this so it can be placed in my Instant Pot.  However, it could be cooked on top of the stove after it was thawed.  This saved me a lot of time.  On Saturday, I set out on the counter for a few hours to thaw and then placed in refrigerator.  In the morning I placed both ziplock bags in the Instant Pot and placed on Saute for 5 minutes.  This will heat up any of the contents that may be still be frozen.  I then locked the lid down and placed on Manual for 11 minutes.  Then I headed off to church.  When I got home I opened the lid and it was perfect.  I put the lid back on and kept on warm until we were ready to eat at 11:30 a.m.  On our kitchen island were all kind of toppings:  cheddar cheese, diced green onions, diced cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and chips.

While I was putting the chili together for the freezer the week before, I also made up a Banana Cake.  It was cooled on the counter, covered with foil and placed in the freezer.  Last night I took it out and placed on the counter to thaw.  This morning before church I made up the vanilla buttercream frosting, made up the birthday banner from Lemonade Moments 

By the time I got home from church, I diced the onions and cilantro and got all the fixings ready to go.  The plastic bowls and spoons were put out and we were ready to enjoy each other’s company rather than being in the kitchen.

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Gratitude

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This morning I am sitting outside in my backyard sipping organic Chocolate Roobus tea, with 3 drops of caramel stevia and a splash of almond-coconut milk.  The blue sky is waking up, birds are singing and I can hear my neighbors pool pump humming.  The greens that clothe the plants and trees around the perimeter of our yard are vibrant.  I notice the details.   It is easy in these quiet moments to find gratitude.  These are moments I practice to build into my life for this is where life becomes manageable and I can find perspective.  Truly I don’t know where this blog post is going but I feel a need to write about quiet, not missing the sweet details in life, and about growing a heart of gratitude and kindness.

 A month or so ago I was sitting outside on a deck in 63 degree weather.  Living in Phoenix, AZ, 63 degrees is a gift on an early October day but I wasn’t in Phoenix.   I was in Show Low, AZ., a three hour drive from home.  This is my writing from that day:

 I will do my best to describe the moment.  There are birds chirping, the sound of a distant road with occasional cars, the trees near me are fluttering from an unseen breath.  A wind chime dances and sings reminding me of whispering church bells.  The blue sky with fluffy marshmallow cream clouds peek through the trees.  There is something up here that can be hard to find in the valley – a quiet that invites me to be still, reflect  and enjoy the quiet.

Funny how only a few days before the opportunity came to come up to the mountains, I was reluctant – it seemed too much work to pack, so many things on my to do list and I was engaged in an internal wrestling match.  One of the nice things of being 58 is I have enough past experience to question these struggles to rest and I’ve learned to fight those thoughts.  How easily I can miss out on the gift God is trying to give me….rest, peace, time to slow down from all the chores at home, tasks at work, etc.

I recently finished a book about a king that was imprisioned in a dark cell for almost a year.  He went in prideful and came out seeing the free things we have been given in this world in a new and appreciative way.  Imagine seeing nothing but darkness day after day and then coming out and seeing the sky with clouds in varying colored of white, grays and lavenders, of all shapes that continually move and transform.  It’s better than any movie we could watch.  The greens of the trees, each leaf different, the shadows of birds flying in and out of the branches.  The sounds of quaking aspens that gently sing in the breeze.  Go outside, close your eyes – study the darkness before your eyes.  Then open your eyes as if for the first time – it’s pretty amazing and can easily drive a heart to thankfulness.

This will be one of the last times I sit on this deck and it is with gratitude I say goodbye.  We didn’t do anything to deserve having time here during the past decade.  The property isn’t ours but is owned by a friend of my husband’s, who had graciously extended hospitality to us but recently decided to sell.  This beautiful home has been a retreat to us, providing a quick getaway when we walked through challenging times (financial, health, losing loved ones).  It has been an unexpected act of kindness towards our family.

Some moments mold you into something better than you were.   Sometimes people come into your life that help you take the next step in your journey.  These people are going about their day and have no idea they are going to step into someone else’s lives and make a difference.  

When my daughter, Tamara, was in high school she was challenged with throwing up month after month – we would watch her crawl to the bathroom and most times her body would need an iv to replenish her fluids.  Back and forth we went to the dr but answers were slow in coming. Then one time her doctor was out and we saw someone who was filling in.  For some reason this dr couldn’t let go of what was happening to Tamara.  He called us at home asking for more information.  The next day he asked for her to be brought back into the office and soon we had an appointment for a CAT Scan at 11 a.m. in an area of town I wasn’t familiar with.  I was out of my comfort zone:   I wanted to fix this for my daughter, I wanted to remain calm – I wanted to know this would all be ok – I prayed.  On the outside, I was keeping it together.  But I don’t like not knowing where I’m going and when we finally found the imaging area, I pulled into a parking spot with 5 minutes to spare.  I noticed I parked crooked and backed up to straighten up only to bump into a car that was also backing up.  I got out of the car and noticed the woman was not happy.  What happened next is a memory I have held dear and still clouds my eyes with tears.  I began to explain I was sorry and that my daughter was ill and we had an 11 am appointment for a test.  My rambling sounded incoherent to my own ears.  But I watched a face that had been angry start to melt.  She then opened her arms to me (the mom who is supposed to be brave) and I didn’t hesitate to walk into this stranger’s embrace and cry.  She whispered in my ear “The car doesn’t matter.  It is only a bump to a fender.  Your job is to get to that appointment and take care of your child.  Be brave.  You can do this.”  She released me and I said thank you as I got my daughter out of the car and checked into the appointment.  After the test, we were asked to stay in the waiting room.  Ten minutes later, I was handed a large envelope with the test film and told to get Tamara to Banner where a bed was waiting and surgery was being scheduled for an appendectomy.  This doctor, that woman were a big part of journey.  

 What does God say about kindness?  

Proverbs 3:3 – Do not let kindness and truth leave you.  Bind them around your neck and write them on tablet of your heart.

Acts 14:17 (NIV):  He (God) has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy.” 

Romans 11:22 (NIV):  “Consider therefore the kindness and sternest of God:  sternest to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.”

Galatians 5:22 (NIV):  “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Ephesians 2:7 (NIV):  “..in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:7 – 1:3-8 (NIV)”  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to go godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Why I Stepped Away From Beachbody Workouts

IMG_2019It’s been a year and half since I started to take care of myself on a consistent basis.  The key word being “consistent.”  Definition of consistent:  continuing to happen or develop in the same way.  I like the word “develop” because to me it means continued growth.  When I started in February 2015 I was traveling through a time of taking care of others better than taking care of myself and I knew I needed a sustainable plan.   I started with Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix and then BodyBeast.  I will forever be grateful for the people who came into my life during this time.  Encouragement was given, habits were modified, personal systems were put into place and I became healthier and more confident. I discovered what did and didn’t work for me.  I learned I liked to workout at home (time saver – no travel time), go at my own pace and didn’t try to keep up with others, could pause if I needed to, wasn’t dependent on the weather, I worked out when it was best for my schedule, and I like lifting – who knew?

This July, I decided to shake out of my comfort zone with the programs mentioned about and began a 3 1/2 month weight lifting program called STS by Cathe Friedrich.  STS stands for Shock Training System.  Each of the 36 workouts are different which helps decrease boredom but also keeps the body constantly challenged thus maximizing muscle confusion.  The workouts were a bit longer than I was used to (45-65 minutes) but were only done on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  After each 4-week meso session, there is 1 week of active rest (walk, yoga, etc.)

I liked the pace of these workouts; there is a lot of instruction on correct form. I liked that they weren’t repetitive.   I didn’t know what the instructor was going to say or what exercise was coming next.  I floundered at first lifting 5 or 8 lb weights – there were many exercises I was doing for the first time.   But by end of my fourth week, I could see progress.

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When I finished the program in October, I was lifting 12 and 15 lbs consistently. I had doubled my lifting power and this 58-year-old woman felt good about that. It is very important for women to lift.  Read more.  I know this is a program I will repeat.  

It is my goal to live the days I have to the best of my ability and I know that in order to do that, it is my responsibility to make movement and nutrition a priority.  I don’t do it perfectly but I do it much better than I used to.  I used to think I didn’t have time to exercise because I was toooooo busy or I felt too ill  – now I know that non-impact exercise helps keep me away from more visits to doctors, helps my pain level from chronic conditions (Interstitial Cystitis and Postherpetic Neuralgia, my thoughts are clearer, gives me more energy, puts me in a better mood, and so much more.  It truly is one of the best non-pill medication we can give ourselves.  Being real – I will tell you I had several weeks during this program where I struggled with consistent Interstitial Cystitis pain.  But I persevered and found back with my own consistency and didn’t miss a single workout.

Listing links of programs I’ve used and found success with.  They range in type of program length and cost:

Cathe On Demand – stream workouts to your computer, phone, iPad

Cathe Friedrich STS Program

For more information – Here

Cathe Friedrich Low Impact HITT

Cathe Friedrich Low Impact Series – Yoga Max

Beachbody 21 Day Fix and Body Beast – Angie Rivera – contact: angiegirlfitness@gmail.com

Leslie Sansone 5 Day Ultimate Walk Plan

Leslie Sansone 5-Mile Mega Walk

Some at-home exercise equipment I have found useful

Weights in Varying Sizes –  (This should be based on what you need) 3 lb, 5 lb, 8 lb, 10 lb, 12 lb, 15 lb, 20 lb

Weight Rack

Sliders

Exercise Bands

Peanut Ball

Step

Anke and Wrist Weights

Mat

Other

Hydroflask – This is my favorite water bottle – Read Why Here

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hydro flask

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