Love, Love, Love

There’s a song from the 90’s that was in the movie, Night at the Roxbury, entitled “What is Love?”, the theme of the movie. The characters are brothers who are very close, have a falling out, eventually reconcile and everyone lives happily ever after.

The movie was a flop and there wasn’t much depth. Probably the only thing that became a success was the popularity of the song, “What is Love?”

So, what is love??? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

love is “an intense feeling of deep affection for a person.”

If we look at the Bible and see what Paul wrote about love, it encompasses many things like patience, kindness, hope and trust.

There a numerous references to love. It seems this has been the most discussed and researched topic since the beginning of time. From philosophers to poets, love has been a subject of intangible curiosity.

Recently we said our final goodbyes to my beloved uncle, who not only was loved very much, but was also the pillar of the family. He was an intelligent and kind person who was passionate about his family. He wrote and reflected on life and would share those thoughts with us. During the services, his spirit was strong and we felt a power of love so fierce that we couldn’t help but feel deeply connected to one another.

The energy of grief, though prevalent, was overshadowed by the fortitude of love our entire family expressed towards each other. The priest highlighted the fact that the only thing that is of ultimate value is LOVE. In his Italian accent and jovial expressions, he emphasized love threes each time he spoke about it.

This had me thinking more about the power of love, particularly when families unite during circumstances like a funeral. We rejoice in reuniting with one another and reminisce on our past. It’s a strange thing if you think about it. Why is it that it takes something like death to bring family together??

Since the pandemic, we have become creative in connecting with our loved ones. There really isn’t much excuse to be in touch, even for a few moments. Technology enables us to speak or see each other across the world. Staying in touch has never been easier. Yet, we fall into a trap of our own busyness and forget about those that mean the most to us…those whose roots are our life force.

We get caught up in our own lives and don’t take the time to plan get togethers with our families. Life happens. The key is to purposely set time to keep connected with our family. It isn’t always that easy, which is why we need to be intentional in putting our families and loved ones a priority. Annual family reunions is certainly one way to stay connected.

What else defines love?

Love means feeling compassion and empathy towards others. No judgement. When we judge, we set up a barrier and separate ourselves from others. When we are separated, how can we truly love?

Even after much time that passes, families can find themselves back to a place of love, despite all the heartaches from the past.

Love means acceptance and understanding.

Love has a partner that can’t be forgotten. Forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we are trapped in our own pain. We cannot move on and we hold hardness against others. When we forgive, we become free.

And who doesn’t want to feel free from our negative feelings? I don’t want to be weighed down with hatred or ill will. I realize that even if we all share different philosophies about life, we still share a common bond. After experiencing this loss in my family, it is more obvious how short and precious life truly is and we must not take our families, our friends or ourselves for granted.

All we need is to Love, Love, Love.

My family, May 2021

‘The beautiful things in life are not just things. They’re the people and places, memories and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter.” -author unknown

Wellness Journey – Week 5

Last week was probably my worst week so far. I did not feel well physically or emotionally. I have lower back pain due to a combination of a bad hip and arthritis. Despite the constant pain, I push through and do what I can. However, the pain was pretty bad and I didn’t workout but maybe two times. Emotionally, I was sad and frustrated. I felt that everything I was doing was not getting me anywhere because the weight is not coming off as much as I thought it would.

Not only was I upset over the weight, I had other things happening that affected my feelings. I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness and being down most of the week. I lost my drive.

When Saturday afternoon rolled around, I was finally feeling more like myself and started reflecting on the week. Yes, it was a difficult week. Yes, I was in pain. Yes, I was sad for multiple reasons. Why wasn’t I cutting myself some slack? After all, not every week is going to be fantastic.

So what if I didn’t get in all my workouts? It’s not the worst thing that could have happened. I suppose I felt betrayed by my own body. I was discouraged I couldn’t do what I have been doing for the past several weeks.

It was challenging to get out of my own head and give myself grace to just be ok with the situation. I am grateful for my support and accountability group. I knew if I told them what was happening, they would help me. I wasn’t wrong. They gave me tips and tools on how to get out of my funk. They also emphasized that I need to be gentle with myself. I found I was receving the advice I normally give to others!

It is completely ok to take a break, as long as that break doesn’t last too long. I compare it to a parking space. I can park in it but I can’t stay in it forever.

Eventually I have to move.

Wellness Journey – Week 4

You can’t have growth without some failure and setbacks along the way.

found quote on Pinterest @mollyhostudio

This was an interesting week to say the least. I have continued to do my workouts, balancing between walking and strength training by high intensity workouts and I am feeling good. I can now hold plank for a minute, which is a big accomplishment for me!

However, when I weighed myself this past Wednesday as part of the 21 day challenge, I was disappointed I had not lost much of anything. In fact, I couldn’t resist looking at the scale later in the week, only to be met with higher numbers.

I have to admit I might have gone a bit overboard on the weekend by having a more than sufficient BBQ meal with friends on Saturday. I hadn’t eaten a lot that entire day, aside from one protein shake and half a protein muffin I shared with my husband. We had gone to watch our son play in his first high school game and we didn’t plan accordingly.

What is that saying, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” Perhaps that isn’t exactly what happened because I don’t consider this a failure, but a lesson and reminder to always carry provisions when out and about. Not having any healthy snacks and water was definitely not thinking ahead.

Both my husband and I were famished by the time we went out with our friends. I never want to be in that position where I don’t have something to tide me over until the next meal, including water!

I said to myself that I will have a case of water on hand for those “emergencies” and will keep on hand a few protein-enriched snacks, like a protein bar, almond butter, or something easy to carry that won’t perish for moments like I had on Saturday.

I may have had a bit of a setback in my progress of losing weight, but I have also gained some insight into my behaviors and how I can be better for the upcoming week.

My attitude and steadfast determination to be healthy and do right by my body is my primary focus at this time. The weight will come off. I need to stop fixating on that and keep my eyes on the bigger prize of being healthy, strong and feeling good.

Me after Saturday’s morning fit camp

Wellness Progress – Week 2

I love this quote because it speaks about our mindset and how crucial it is for our success.

I feel stronger. My body seems to be able to handle a little more and the weight loss, though minimal, is still happening. I am focused and determined to continue this journey of getting my body in shape, my health in check and my mind open to all possibilities. My mood has changed. I am not as depressed and my positive attitude is starting to shine through more each day.

This past Saturday, I attended another fit camp and boy did my butt get kicked! I left feeling tired, but strong. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t able to keep up a full pace, and in this short time, my endurance has greatly improved. It’s all about putting the work into it to get the results. I don’t go to a gym. I work out at home, walk at least 4 times a week and do the weekly fit camp at the nutrition club.

The beginning stages are always exciting. You see results fairly quickly and this is where I have gone lax in the past. So what is different this time around?

I WANT it more than ever. I NEED to feel good both inside and out. I SEE myself accomplishing my goals this time.

I no longer want to be the spectator on the sidelines, but an active player on the field. Not to mention, I am putting myself out here in the public for all to witness to keep me accountable.

All of this is helping me keep my eye on the prize…a healthy person who will be a better version of my current self.

What is Your WHY?

Please leave your comments and let me know your thoughts. I would love to engage with you in a conversation or learn what keeps you going.

Wellness Journey – Weekly Update

It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.

Since starting my health and wellness journey, I have made it my mission to remain determined and persistent in exercising and watching what I eat. I also have made my journey for the public so I remain accountable. It helps me to remain focused on my goals.

I have lost a total of 7 pounds so far in 3 1/2 weeks. Not too shabby. For the most part, I have been doing well, not missing the foods I know aren’t good for me. The key is to stop and think, “Is it worth it? Do I really need this?”

I posted a video on Tik Tok last week sharing a weak moment I had. I woke up feeling a bit sad and frustrated, but couldn’t pinpoint my feelings. It was St. Patrick’s Day and my mother-in-law brought over fresh loaf of Irish Soda bread the night before.

I usually have given into my feelings and emotions and convinced myself that it’s ok to treat myself. Of course, that is self-sabotage because that’s just the mind being weak and giving in to temptation. I remained strong and said to myself I did not need to eat the bread to console my feelings.

I was proud of myself and realized then and there, that I CAN do this. That I AM strong enough to fight those emotional feelings when it comes to eating. For me, this has to do with retraining my brain to understand the what’s and why’s of my behavior. Once I change my thinking and my attitude, then results will happen.

I am not saying I may slip, but I know I can get right back on track because I want it that badly. I don’t want to feel sore or in pain all the time. I want to be able to do activities without struggling. I may not be able to do some things like I did in my youth, but I know I can get stronger and build my stamina while losing weight.

And for today, that is enough.

Crossroads

Life doesn’t have a roadmap outlined in front of you.

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I always found that to be comical and didn’t pay much mind to the message until recently. Take what? What does that mean? Which direction am I supposed to go? Am I supposed to go straight through the fork? There aren’t clear signs to show me the way!

I don’t think Yogi was trying to be very deep about this statement, but it certainly resonates with me in my current state of life. We make several choices every day. Some are not even conscious choices but just routine. Others demand more thinking power and consideration. Choices direct our day, our week or even our year.

Why is it hard to make a decision? One reason that stands out to me is FEAR. Fear is what holds us back from moving forward. Being afraid to make mistakes. Being afraid you will hurt someone’s feelings, even if it is in your best interest. The fear of the unknown, less traveled path. How many obstacles are in the way? The fear of getting lost and not finding your way back. Fear can paralyze a person from making a decision. It can hinder you and make you feel inadequate. Until we take a look at our fears and overcome them, we may never move forward.

I have never considered myself a fearful person. I always was curious and adventurous. I wasn’t afraid to try new things. I even didn’t care if I got lost because I knew I could always find a way out or turn around from where I started. However, there is a fear within me that until recently, I didn’t know existed.

I am now standing in front of that fork, unsure which direction to head. I am afraid if I choose one path, it might be the wrong one and I will be lost or confused. More importantly, I am afraid I may hurt others in the process by that one decision I make. Do I stay where I am, not move forward and continue to live status quo? Do I take that path of an unknown future because I know in my heart, it will be the best decision I will make in my life; that may possibly be the road to my inner peace and well being?

I am paralyzed. I am stuck. I am fearful of the after effects it may cause to those around me. What can I do? How can I get myself to decide which direction I should go at this crossroad?

TIME. Since I know this fork is a new obstacle in my life, I am not willing to be careless in my decisions. However, I cannot take too much time to think because by doing that, I am not making choices to progress. I do not want to remain stagnant forever.

GRACE/KINDNESS. Life has been quite a journey so far and by beating myself up over my past mistakes or decisions isn’t going to help build my confidence to make important decisions. I need to believe in myself that no matter what, the choices I make will be the right ones. I need to allow myself the grace to keep going without being my worst critic.

TRUST/FAITH. I must trust that I AM capable of just about anything I put my mind to if I only give myself a chance to try and take that leap of faith. Over the years, my confidence has been slowly been chipped away, so I need to remember that I am stronger than I think. I have many talents that I need to be proud of and not downplay them because I am humble. I wasn’t raised to toot my own horn because it comes off as arrogant. But in reality, humility isn’t about remaining quiet about your accomplishments. Take a look at this quote:

Humility isn’t denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.

Rick Warren

TIME, GRACE, TRUST. That seems to be a good start. If I keep these things in mind, I will be more apt to make a decision. Now it is a matter of putting this into practice so that I can be at peace with the choices I make in my future.

What’s holding you back from making life altering changes?

I’d love to hear your perspective. Please leave a comment and share this post with others.

This is one of my favorite quotes that is funny, yet so true!

Sometimes it isn’t Rainbows and Cupcakes

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed most of my posts are uplifting and hopefully inspiring to you. I try hard not to discuss negative topics or draw out unpleasant things without some message of hope.

Unfortunately today, I let all that negativity consume me. In fact, I thought I would stay in that place of hopelessness longer than it did. I was gently reminded by many people in my life that no matter what, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, that what I do is directing me in the right path and most importantly, I have God at my side. It’s really strange that all my overwhelming feelings also were showered by an abundance of love and compassion. I suppose the universe is telling me something and I need to pay attention and listen.

Photo by Harvey Reed on Pexels.com

The morning started out pretty positive and I was enjoying the sunshine and observing the birds that were feeding on my deck. I happen to take a picture of a single cardinal and shared with a friend. He told me the meaning behind when we see a cardinal and the symbolism of that. At first, I may have come off dismissive, but as my morning progressed and it got more and more out of my control, I kept going back to that image and statement. I kept it tucked in the back of my mind, at least.

Another friend reminded me not to be so hard on myself over things that really aren’t in my direct control and to give myself, in essence, grace to feel my feels and be gentle with myself.

As my emotions continued to pour out in the morning, I kept receiving various messages that now I believe is God or the universe telling me something. A friend from church just so happened to email me an excerpt and prayer from an online site and when I read it, it completely spoke to me and everything I was feeling at that particular moment.

I spoke to my dad, who is always a source of compassion, especially when I feel hopeless.

I may have cried and felt frustrated, but one thing remained and that was my desire to let it be and allow my mind to calm down. I spent time taking deep breaths, I prayed, I watched the birds outside and I also fed my body the healthy nourishment it probably was lacking for awhile.

I share this so that others can understand that we all have bad moments, times when we feel like the world is crashing down on us. Even the most positive, uplifting people you know have their bad times. The point to remember is that it is completely okay and as long as we can get back on our feet, we can take on the day with even more strength.

I wrote something in my journal that I would like to share. This may seem like I am exposing myself to the world, but I strongly believe we not only show our strong, positive side, but share how even the best of us are vulnerable human beings.

Quicksand

I feel overwhelmed. I feel sad. I feel frustrated and angry. I feel like all the work I’ve been doing to have a better mindset has been in vain. It’s as if I am defeated and can’t get out of the corner of a boxing ring. I am disappointed I don’t follow my own advice at times like this. I try so hard to look at the good things and be grateful for what I have in my life. Yet, I can’t seem to sustain that feeling. I lose patience. I lose my composure. I fall apart. I almost feel like I am stuck in quicksand which is trying to bring me down. Yet, I am grasping onto a branch so that I don’t perish. I start to remember that I do have a lot to live for and that I am worthy of happiness and love. I CAN prevail and shove these negative feelings aside and say to them, NOT TODAY! And then, like that, I am back on my feet.

my own poetic piece, if you will, written 1/25/21

So, there you have it. life may not be filled with rainbows and cupcakes, but life is definitely sweet if we learn to overcome our thoughts and take in the moments that calm us and brings us a smile.

Reflections, Goals and Mental Health

image from internet

It’s a new year and some of us are still working out our plans or goals for 2021. I personally didn’t set specific goals as I have been in what I consider a survival mode over the last couple months. I haven’t given myself the time to sit down long enough to thoroughly examine what I want to achieve this year. I carry on each day as I do the next and find that I am a bit lost. Yet, I never give up. Each day brings an opportunity to work on myself.

REFLECTION:

Rewind back to mid October 2020. This is when I brought my mom to the hospital because she wasn’t well. She was quite sick, actually. I didn’t know what was happening to her at the time. All I know is that I never saw her so “small” and weak. She looked old, worn out and honestly, I thought she might die. Turns out after her being admitted, the doctor informed me she was experiencing lithium toxicity. Her body was beginning to show signs of shutting down. It was very upsetting and scary to learn what was happening to my mom. So many emotions started pouring out of me that I had a hard time calming myself. I knew what I needed to do; it was a matter of being able to follow through.

Lithium is a medicine that is used to treat bipolar disorder. My mom was diagnosed back in the early 80’s. I can remember many of the details of the day when she had her first nervous breakdown. It was frightening to witness as a young 12 year old child. I realize now that things were never going to be quite the same again. I spent the rest of my adolescent years learning to understand what happened to my mom and living with a parent who was not mentally stable. I did my best to carry on, living what some consider the best days of my youth. Unfortunately, there was always something different in my home. Looking back, the energy in our house was somewhat muddled. Despite the fact my mom recovered from her nervous breakdown and was under psychiatric care, things were always a bit off.

Mom was pretty stubborn back then as she is even today. She disliked her psychiatrist to the point she would argue with him incessantly. She didn’t want to face the truth. She refused to see the positives and thought the world was against her, including her doctor. I remember one time I was concerned for her and called him to ask for help. When my mom found out, she was extremely angry. That was when she cut the cord with the only person that could medically treat her mental disorder. I didn’t know what else to do but to live my teen life and do my best to ignore (subconsciously) my mom’s well being.

In my mid teens, my mom started drinking. She did it as a result of loneliness. My father traveled a lot and would leave for 1-2 weeks every couple months for his job. To an extent, mom and I were each others companions. We’d actually be excited when my dad left because that meant we had this distorted sense of freedom. The old adage, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play”, was definitely the way it was during those years. Although I was a teenager, discovering life, love and everything in between, I always was by my mother’s side, making sure she was ok. Little did I realize that this began my life of caregiving. My father would always say, “look out for your mom”, when he would leave for his trips. Eventually that statement would be one I would loathe and fight against the rest of the days I lived at home.

GOALS:

Fast forward to 1996. This was the year I finally moved out of my house. I was elated and couldn’t wait to burn rubber out of my parent’s driveway so I could start my life without them. I was 26 years old. Throughout the rest of my teen life and early adulthood, I watched as my parent’s marriage deteriorate. I remember wanting to get away from them because I saw the writing on the walls before my parents did. I was a co-dependent. I was the 3rd leg of the tripod. As long as I continued to live in my childhood home, I would never be able to live my life the way I wanted. I had to sever the cord and say goodbye.

Within 2 years, my parents divorced. My mom had found someone that gave her the attention she so desperately sought over the years. My father was blind sided. He had no idea at the time the impact of his travels had on our family. And even though I saw this coming, I had a lot of anger. I was particularly angry with my mom. I hated that she couldn’t stop her drinking. I hated that she left my dad. I hated that my father was clueless. Being the third party of this dysfunctional family, it infuriated me that my parents couldn’t sort things out. However, it was their lives, not mine. If I needed to take care of my own well being, I needed to get out of dodge and never look back.

Easier said than done. Despite my desperation, I never truly escaped my ties to my parent’s lives. I supported both of them in different ways over the next several years. I developed a love/hate relationship with my mom. Today, I may not have as much animosity towards her, but I struggle. I have been in and out of therapy since my early 20’s. And the sessions have always circled back to my mom, our relationship and how to cope.

Mental Health:

I have been married for 19 years and have 2 teenagers. I have been doing my best to live my life with my family. However, since having my kids, I have been diagnosed and treated for anxiety, depression, and ADHD. I’ve had a few medical problems occur, including thyroid cancer and sleep apnea. These issues are not terrible. In fact, I have been doing pretty well on the medical side. It’s my mental well being that has been the biggest challenge. It has affected my marriage and most likely has impacted my children’s lives to some extent.

Enter 2020. The year of the pandemic and unrest in our world. Many of us have had challenges, struggles, or obstacles to overcome. Last year was a year of testing our resilience as human beings. It was a year to slow down and do a lot of self reflection. I have been on a journey over the last few years to be a better version of myself. 2020 helped me see where I need to be and what I need in order to be happy. I am still working out the kinks so I can map out my life. But at least I have more resources and tools under my belt to help support my continued trek.

Although I still struggle with my mom and her mental issues, I can say we are probably closer now than ever. Since her recent hospitalization, I have noticed she is more open to seeking the help she fought against so many years before. She is finally wiling to go to counseling and be under psychiatric care. My mom is finally finding her voice. We may not agree on many things and I know that my patience is tested all the time. Yet, the one thing we do agree on is that we have a strong love for each other. We will never abandon one another. We are on our own road to healing. And that is all anyone can ever hope to have in their lifetime.

For more information on mental illness, visit National Alliance on Mental Illness https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions.

Hindsight is 2020

Before saying goodbye to 2020, let’s look back at the good things it brought us. Image from web Jan_Blog_2020

There are a lot of negative things that occurred, but this post is not about that because that sentiment has been exhausted. I want to focus on the GOOD, the POSITIVE, and the small HOPES that 2020 brought to our world.

I know everyone cannot wait to kick 2020 to the curb and get on with 2021, but we need to remember that even though 2020 may have been one of the worst years in our contemporary lives, it wasn’t completely awful.

Yes, there were natural disasters, a global pandemic, racial turmoil and political unrest. Yet, here we are, about to ring in the new year and say goodbye to the old one. We prevailed! We didn’t allow the negatives to take over our lives 100%. We ARE SURVIVORS!!!

Despite everything, it was one of the best years, too. You may say to yourself, how is that? The world came together to help out our friends and speak our minds openly and loudly. First it was the wildfires in Australia. Then it was the unity when racial tensions increased. When the pandemic hit us, we did our best to be safe and keep our loved ones healthy. Despite the unknown, many communities pulled together to help one another. The outpour of charitable work was prevalent. Strangers helping other strangers. A true test of our humanity.

In 2020, families got closer. We connected with people online and made new friends. We were forced to slow down. Our busyness practically came to a halt. In the beginning of the pandemic, it seems many relished the reprieve. We were happy to stay home for a change…to not have to run from one place to the next. For some, the stress of our daily lives reduced.

Other things to highlight:

  • Many of us reconnected with nature, taking more walks or hikes with their families.
  • Several of us finally got projects completed in our homes that were otherwise put off.
  • A lot of us picked up new hobbies or interests were rekindled.
  • Others explored alternative ways of keeping their small businesses afloat.
  • Virtual learning became a status quo not only for school systems, but for other instructional opportunities.
  • Churches took advantage of Zoom, Facebook and YouTube to hold their services and continue the fellowship each week. Our spirits were lifted by everyone praying for each other or giving back in simple, yet meaningful ways.

Our definition of normal changed. We started to embrace the “new normal” so that we could live our lives in a positive light. We became resilient. We appreciated life more. We started to recognize what was truly important.

If we reflect on this past year, the best part of 2020 was that we did not give up and we did all we could to remain optimistic. Sure, people look at the negatives first, but the greatest part of our human nature is that we also seek positivity and hope.

As we enter 2021, we must not forget all we conquered. We need to carry those things forward and keep them as reminders that even in the worst of times, we can enjoy the little things in life.

Please take a look at this short video from Time. It summarizes the essence of our humanity among the chaos. https://time.com/5919837/2020-year-in-review/