Stretching for Sanity

It’s my latest love. It feels good from my head to my toes. It relaxes my body and settles my mind. My muscles flex and stretch. Stretching is pretty much a part of my exercise routine everyday. The Pilates on dvd, my athletic weights work- out on dvd all include sessions of stretching as a warm- up and cool down.

Everyday I challenge myself how I can incorporate more stretching my body into the day. Here are some ways I stretch while doing tasks:

While brushing my teeth I squat up and down squeezing my thighs, inner thighs and buttocks. It feels good to stand on my tippy toes and go up and down.

When I’m doing cooking pots and pans ( that I don’t put in the dishwasher) I stretch one leg at a time, kicking out.

In the morning when I’m blow drying my hair I stretch one leg at a time on the window sill and feel the muscle burn. It’s a great feeling!

You can simply stretch with the use of a chair!

The more I breathe deeply and stretch…the more I feel alive! It does my body good as well as my emotional well being. By working all my muscles, I’m investing in my health. After all I’m 50 now and it’s my obligation to myself to use what I’ve got. Want to know what’s crazy? I am moving more than I ever did in my twenties! I didn’t eat healthy in those days nor did I take care of my emotional well being. I would say I feel the best I’ve ever felt, simply because I’m doing the hard work!

My collection of exercise dvds

I’m thankful that I browsed through different exercise dvds such as Denise Austin’s Pilates and Ageless with Kathy Smith. I’ve also checked out Jillian Michaels on YouTube. I think variety is key to staying true to routine. Otherwise boredom kicks in and hearing and seeing an exercise routine for years gets old. I’m sick of one exercise dvd I’ve practiced on and off for fifteen years. It’s like playing a broken record…too much predictability, I know what the instructor is about to say and honestly I’m ready to move on. That’s okay…as I’ve found other dvds and videos to challenge myself.

If you’re craving a body stretch, start small. Try stretching while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Stretch before you go to bed or just after you wake up. Moving your body will make you feel flexible and so much better. Go to a yoga class or look up a video on YouTube. Trust me, it works and gets addicting as you increase it. It’s great for your emotional well- being as well.

Own Your Story

Presently I’m reading Michelle O’Bama’s autobiography Becoming. It’s on my Kindle, not my favorite way to read but it’s convenient. My old fashioned nature loves the crinkle of the paper pages and the hard binding as I read. But I’ll go with the times and sometimes read on my i-pad.

In the first few chapters O’Bama pens that we should all own our story. For you’ll always have it and no one can take it away. I know I’ve heard this before in different words and by someone else. Reading this recently was a great reminder to me that I am proud of my story, whatever has happened to me from the time I was a child to now is totally mine. I believe that everything that has transpired in my life has been for good reasons.

Let me ask you this…are you proud of your story? Has it molded you into the person you are today? Probably. If you’re not happy with what has happened in your life or who you really are you can change your narrative. You are the author, the person who can control how it goes.

I’m enjoying this autobiography. So far it describes her childhood and family as she grew up on the south side of Chicago. I look forward to hearing about her married life and of her daughters. I would recommend this book for a fresh look at Michelle O’Bama’s life.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Spending More Time With Family & Friends

Okay let’s be honest here! How many of you truly keep your New Year’s resolution and honor it throughout the whole year? I’ve never kept my intention, not from not caring about it but life gets busy with work and commitments and it gets pushed to the wayside. With that….it’s lost and forgotten replaced with to do lists, bills to pay, etc.

My interest in setting a new year goal for 2020 was sparked by my daughter- in-law Lexy. She shared that she and her best friend were getting together to set New Years goals. I liked the idea of sharing with a friend for accountability sake but it can also turn into a fascinating conversation. Sharing your positive intentions for the new year opens up channels of new ideas and thoughts fostered through friendship. I have always kept my resolutions private and perhaps that’s why I’ve failed at them. Maybe I’ll start shouting from the rooftops of my goal, with a true desire to reach it.

This year I honestly intend to spend more time with friends and family, especially since I’m feeling better. I may go to lunch more often, make a few more phone calls, write quick sweet notes and send them in the mail. I want to see my mom and dad more, making the trips to their homes. I’m blessed to still have them and their spouses alive, in their seventies and early eighties. They mean the world to me and I want them to know how fortunate and happy I feel to have them.

When our Florida family comes in the summer I wish to connect through down to earth talks, nice country walks or by lounging on our deck in the sunshine. I want to hear stories of how their life is going down there and have Tom reminisce of old times growing up and of relatives passed but not forgotten.

This year I vow that I’ll try to keep this goal alive and not hidden. I wish to connect more, talk more, laugh more and let my friends and family know how precious they are to me. 2020 will be an amazing year of wonderful possibilities to carry my resolution through. I pray to God for me to carry it through and reach out to people even more than I have!

What’s your New Year’s resolution and what is your strategy for keeping it alive and going all year?

All My Best for the new year,

Mary🎉🥰

Baking and Hiding Treats!

Featuring Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies made with banana

Lately I have a problem. A sweet problem, that is. I want desperately to bake sweets to please my family and co- workers, yet the temptation that goes with having goodies in the house is too much for me. ( especially around the holidays) I make my husband hide the air tight cookie container but then he forgets where he has hidden it! Sounds like something I would do!

 

Once it gets frigid here with a blanket of snow everywhere there is a comfort of an oven baking. It warms the whole kitchen with a nesting glow and the scent of fresh baked goodies wafts throughout the house. I tend to bake with candles lit and my music playing in the background. I’m an old school baker as I wear my apron, use wooden spoons yet with a modern twist with the use of my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer.

 

Here is a list of cookies and bars I enjoy to make.

  • M&M cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Blossoms ( with a Hershey’s kiss)
  • Lunch Lady Brownies
  • Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

Here is my favorite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies recipe that I make often. They are delicious and are hard to eat just one! This isn’t the recipe made with banana but I’ll try to share that soon. 

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • You will need :
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats, not instant
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional
  • 1 cup heaping semi- sweet chocolate chips

Combine egg,butter,sugars and vanilla in mixer. Beat on medium speed for four minutes until creamed and combined. Stop and scrape the sides of the mixer. Add oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, optional salt until just combined, about a minute.

Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add chocolate chips and beat until combined.

Using a large cookie scoop form equal sized balls and flatten slightly on cookie pan, about two inches apart. If you wish strategically place a few choc chips on each mound. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 11 minutes or until edges and top are set. Don’t overtake as cookies firm up as they cool. Cool on rack. Can be kept in airtight container for a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

I hope you will try this recipe. You can make it gluten free by using gluten free flour like oat flour. It may change the consistency but they will be amazing!Happy baking, my friends.

As I close this post I want to focus on positive thinking and faith. If you are going through troubles right now, please remember turning your thoughts ( and praying too if you practice that) to positive and uplifting ones, it will help. When I experienced health troubles for a few months I prayed for strength but acceptance as well. Any bad experience in your life is meant for a lesson. It’s power can build you up, to a stronger person with a new appreciation of all the wonders in life. Have faith that crooked roads lead to beautiful peaceful pastures! 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😘

Highlights of the Year in Photos

As another year closes and I excitedly look forward to a new year, I think it’s imperative to briefly look back on where I’ve traveled ( spiritually not just physically). For in order to know where you are going, you must dwell and learn from the paths you’ve tread on . Don’t you think? This past year held fun new places we explored as well as a few surprises in the mix. I also grew more spiritually and my self esteem boosted as I maneuvered through the year. I invested in myself a little bit more and I think it shows.

In January Branden’s girlfriend Jojo came to visit and we all made our own pizza!

I learned that planting inside in dark New Hampshire isn’t a good idea starting in February! Bahaha!

In April Tom and I visited Las Vegas and stayed at Harrah’s a few nights. We explored the strip and rented a convertible to explore Hoover Dam. It was a magical trip for me and I appreciate that Tom humored me by going. It was my way of welcoming and celebrating my 50th birthday!

In May mom and I traveled to Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas to see my nephew Spencer graduate from TCU. It was a wonderful trip with family!

My dad gifted me a greenhouse in the spring and I was fortunate enough to use it the whole growing season.

My daughter in law Lexy and I attended a beautiful bridal shower for my niece.

In June I hosted my own birthday party. It was filled with friends, family, music and laughter.

My paternal cousins and I met one afternoon to eat yummy food and connect. We all looked at old photos of our dads and moms. It was lovely and I hope we do it every year!

Over the summer my handy husband Tom built a gorgeous deck off of our kitchen. It’s a magical place to be! I can’t wait for spring and nice weather to sit out there again!

My mother in law Theo came to stay over the summer. Despite a nasty fall and visit to the local emergency room, we made the best of it. My sister in law Bev stayed with us during this time. We had a lovely dinner with my nieces Michele and Sheryl and Sheryl’s new husband John. We all sat on the deck and magically a Pilated woodpecker flew in a nearby tree and blessed us.

Michele and Sheryl
My sister in law Bev and my mother in law Theo
John, Bev, myself, Sheryl, Michele and Theo
Theo and I

2019, what a year it was! I started feeling better about myself and investing in my weight and health even more. I exercised five to six days a week, drank more water and ate healthy portions. I did experience a health scare for several months with bladder troubles. After an ultrasound, several pelvic exams and a cat- scan nothing showed anything abnormal despite the painful symptoms I was having. My urologist said it could be institial cysitis, a condition that certain foods irritate the bladder and cause pain and urgency. I have adjusted my diet a bit and started taking an antihistimine. It’s 100 percent better! Boy did I take my health for granted! Never again! This trial brought me closer to God and his peace. He carried me through and I am eternally grateful for that!

I wish you happy and peaceful moments in the new year! Cherish your family, friends and your good health.

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🎊

Celebrate Where You Are

From Livelifehappy.com

Do you remember when you envisioned what your adult life would be like? Is your story playing out the same way? Probably not. That’s okay! Life has its way of throwing surprises at us and sweet presents that are so unexpected.

As a young girl I aspired to be a teacher and would line up all my dolls and my little sister and proceed to teach them. Somewhere along the way I lost my dream and self confidence. I thought I wasn’t good enough to teach, to actually inspire children. Then as a 35 year old mom, my son’s preschool director asked me if I’d be interested in volunteering and helping out. After a few months that led to a full time job with children. From there I took early childhood education classes and landed a job as a reading paraeducator at a local school.

Fourteen years later I continue to teach young children every day. Yet I’m not a certified teacher but a paraeducator. I could continue college to complete it but I’m tired and I love what I’m doing now. So maybe I’m not living my childhood dream but that’s okay. For dreams change and take different forms as we age.

I am content where I’m at now…living and celebrating my life as it is. I’m not wallowing in lost dreams or questioning of what ifs. What’s the point of doing that? If I really think about it, my life and how it’s played out have far exceeded my expectations. I’m blessed beyond measure. My husband and I have raised two wonderful boys ( young men now), they both have met gems for girls, we hold steady jobs and we share our own haven we call home. That’s a blessed life I would say!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Being Gutsy…

My nephew Lucas and my dad, who everyone calls Top Shelf

Being gutsy is staying true to your beliefs and values

even when someone challenges you

Being gutsy is staying strong in any situation

easy or difficult, either way being on top is the

positive outlook ( a few years ago my dad lay in a hospital bed

sick but told the nurse he was on the “ top shelf”)

Being gutsy is fighting cancer everyday but laughing

anyway and finding the joys in every day( my niece is doing this, fighting

but mostly importantly LIVING)

Being gutsy is working hard day in and day out

having a strong work ethic and taking pride in every action

( my husband Tom practices this and it’s one of the many reasons

that I love him and I’m proud of him)

I know many souls that are gutsy

they’re living with extreme strength

and faith

with a quiet and steadfast perseverance

Rest In Peace Mrs. Geneen

Maybe you live gutsy

Plowing forward through your troubles

Making the best of it

Praying to God

and having eternal faith that all will be well.

Here’s to all the gutsy people in my life,

they have taught me strength

Persistence, confidence, and faith.

My cousins and I. Carmen in the middle

Anita, Sherrie, Dad, Tom, Laura ( Rest In Peace), Mrs. Geneen for your strength and example ( Rest In Peace) ,Theo for her strength through her trials, my cousin Carmen who has battled back from a horrific attack and tours now to teach others , my stepfather Gary and many more.

Theo on the right front, a woman who smiles no matter what
My niece Ella and my stepfather Gary who has had recent health challenges but still on top

All My Best,

Mary 💜🌈

My Gluten Free Journey

Okay friends I need to share with you what’s going on with me. For awhile now ( just over a year and a half) I have noticed that certain foods irritate my stomach and I’ve experienced significant changes, which led me to the doctor. Of course he had no answers for me. In the past I’ve had trouble and had to solve my own problem by taking note of what I ate and the reactions the food caused. In a few weeks I learned that eating dairy products and drinking milk made my stomach sick and upset my stools. Now I know I’m lactose intolerant.

I’ve figured out that breads, ( I only eat oat bran bakery bread but it’s not gluten free) cereals, oats that aren’t gluten free, dressings with gluten and rice pilaf mixes are all not agreeing with me. It’s been a challenge to change our eating habits and it’s more expensive at the grocery store! ( I ask you why do the healthiest foods cost more?) Every time I eat any of these foods I have gas and some bloating and undesirable stools.

Two months later and I think I’ve figured out how to eat so my body is happy and calm. I mostly avoid granolas unless they are gluten free, most breads, salad dressings and sauces such as rice pilaf mixes. I’ve learned to shop the gluten free section at the grocery store and on Amazon Prime. I eat more fruit in the morning, skip cereals and breads and if I do have toast it’s gluten free. Canyon Bakehouse gluten free bread is my choice for now. I put it in the freezer and take out a slice when I wish to.

I used to think the gluten free idea was crazy but now that it affects me, I know well that it’s a real thing affecting many people. It takes much planning, shopping, searching and patience to maintain my path to wellness. Sometimes I cheat and eat something with gluten or dairy and soon after pay for it. Even if the food tastes good I try to remember the ending result and how my body doesn’t accept it. I think I’ve done well in a short time and feel healthier and balanced. The last challenge is finding gluten free foods at restaurants. That’s where searching the web pays off, you can look at menus ahead and see the healthy gf options.

This is my personal journey, one that I’ve had to rack my brain over without a doctor’s help. Sometimes I wonder why this food intolerance has plagued me but asking this question doesn’t change anything. So I accept it and deal. Move on and focus on eating that makes my body whole and healthy. If you are also on this path, I wish you the power to accept and learn all you can about it.

Until next time be well, my friends. It’s October here with a colorful array of foliage. Probably the next post I write will share fall moments with you.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🍁

Change Your Perspective

If you always think the worse then probably terrible things will occur! But if you foster pure positive thoughts and train your subconscious mind to dwell on uplifting peaceful ideas, that’s what you’ll get in life.

I’m going this route now, thinking positive and focusing on abundance coupled with my daily prayers and faith in God.

I’ll tell you briefly that since I started reading The Power of the Subconscious Mind, magical things are happening. The reason is I’m focusing on what can be instead of this can’t happen. I’ve applied it to several issues in my life and seen great results. A few Saturdays ago I went to a flea market with my friends with an intention to possibly find an old wheel and water pump for our gardens. I focused on both with the mindset that positive things would happen. Not only did I discover both items but I knew the lady who was selling them! She gave me a great deal for both and now they adorn my yard. Secondly I started healing my feelings towards others that I’ve had hard feelings about. Since focusing on love and letting go of resentments, I’ve seen fabulous results out of the blue. Lastly something that bothered me at work has come full circle, possibly changing my work environment. What goes around comes around they always say. How true is that!

Change your thinking.

Change your perspective.

Check out The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

My new Black Eyed Susans garden with my wheel. See a future post about this process.

All My Best,

Mary😉