Who Decided This?

Life is hard.

I’m trying to eat healthier, and it’s not only expensive, it’s also confusing and hard.

Add in food allergies, and it’s pretty much impossible to do it right 100% of the time.

Still I’m trying.

So the other day I was going to fix me some roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch.  It’s the craziest thing, but I didn’t like the things when I was growing up.  Mama didn’t fix them often, probably because of how I (we?) acted when she cooked them.  But in recent months, I’ve discovered that I really don’t like them.  I LOVE THEM.  There are all kinds of things I could think of as possible reasons why, but I think it just boils down to–tastes change.  I don’t eat sweets very often at all anymore, and I have learned to like black coffee–something I never thought I could do.  I think the bitter, strong taste of the sprouts that used to turn my tastebuds off is now the very thing I like the most.

When I was putting some in my toaster oven on broil the other day, I wondered how many to fix.  I usually eat them with something else, but this was pretty much all I wanted.  Is there such a thing as too many Brussels sprouts?  Curious, I checked the bag they came in from the frozen foods department.  I ran my finger down the nutrition information.  Ummmmm, calories, protein, etc etc etc…..ahhhh, yes.  Serving size.  Five.

Wait. What?!  Five sprouts is a serving size?

In what world and for whom?

They aren’t even all uniform size, so that’s just misleading.

But seriously. Five?

I can eat these things like popcorn, y’all.  Five is not going to cut it.  That’s like an appetizer.

For a toddler.

But I mean, we do have to wonder, right?  Who decided that five sprouts is a good amount for one person to eat at any one meal?  Or that this size of that is perfect for one person?  Is there a room somewhere where folks sit around eating different portions and hit a thumbs up when the amount they intake is the “Baby Bear” just right amount to fill them without making them feel stuffed?

If so, I want to go there.

Because we need to talk.

How is one serving of this cereal one cup and one serving of that only one-half cup?

How is one slice of this kind of bread one serving, but it takes two slices of that loaf to get there?

And how in the world is five sprouts a serving and so is a big ol’ Whopper?

I need to know this, y’all.  Because I really don’t like feeling like I’m pigging out when I eat a dozen (give or take) Brussels sprouts.

I can’t handle the guilt.  And I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t.

Aren’t they like good for you or something?

Leastways that’s what Mama always said when she put them on my plate way back when.  (Like that’s ever been what convinced a child to eat something. “Okay, you don’t like it, but it’s good for you.”  “Good for me, you say?  Well, why didn’t you say so before?  Of course I’ll eat it.” Ahem.)

Tonight I’m thankful for the food we eat and the choices we have.  I’m thankful for the good information that is out there that can help us make wiser choices.  I really appreciate my changing taste buds that have me learning to love new foods even at my age. Most of all, I’m thankful that I have a mind, and I know when to throw out bad information and go with what I think is best.

Five?

I think not.

Wishing you all a healthy serving (whatever that looks like to you) of a food you never thought you’d love but do.

Love to all.

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That looks to be about a serving, right?

redemption story

the truth is, we are all living a redemption story–
in any given moment we can change direction
make choices that take us on another path completely
rewrite our story
change up the cast of characters
have a set change and cull the props

at any point on our path
we can chart another course
and turn this life around
such that what was born of the dark times
can shine such beautiful light
eventually,
one day

and what was broken and caused all the pain
can lead others to the light, to beauty
and towards their own redemption story

all of us have that chance
for atonement and healing hearts,
as long we are on this journey
and putting one foot in front of the other
it is not too late

there always exists the choice
for small, great things
that can leave an imprint on the hearts and minds
of history
changing the course for all of us
if only we are strong and speak in truth
with courage
celebrating joy and leaving beauty marks in our wake

we are all living out our stories
it is for us to make it a good one

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be strong, true, joy / Walk in the Light / the story is always redemption

Note:  As I was making this picture with the Latin words, I used an on-line translator, as it’s been just a few years since my last Latin class.  To double check my translation, I reversed the process and learned the truest interpretation of the words here.  The one that made my the most joy-filled, the most hopeful is the last one.  Instead of saying “The redemption story is always possible,” it interpreted it to read, “The story is always redemption.”  So much hope there.  For all of us.  Love to all.  

There Are Better Things To Talk About

Genetics being what they are, I have three children all different shapes and sizes.  Just as my Mama had four children who, while similarities could be seen, have grown to be four very different looking people.

It happens.

The one thing that all of mine have in common, according to my sweet Cousin, is their eyes.  She says they all have my eyes.

I love that she thinks so.

However, my oldest is average in height and has an attractive build.  My middle one, our Princess, is tall for her age.  She wears a shoe size bigger than mine and she’s ten.  She is of a thin athletic build.  My little guy, bless him, inherited my height–so he’s shorter than his cousin who is younger than he is.  I try to soothe his frustrations by imagining with him all the wonderful things he can do–like spying–if he stays on the shorter side.

It’s a hard road to walk, and it requires a sensitive heart and carefully thought out words to parent each one of them.  To help them to feel good about themselves.  Because I want that so much for each one of them–for him or her to be able to look in a mirror and say, “Hey, all right!  Looking good!”  No matter what.

Because I can tell you–each one of them is beautiful, inside and out, in his or her own way.

And it’s not just because I’m their Mama.  Or maybe it is.  But that shouldn’t matter.

I grew up worrying over weight.  I remember counting calories as a young teen.  WHY DID I DO THAT?  I am sad for myself thinking back on that.  I wish I had loved ME more.  It’s not something I let go of easily either.  I’ve tried to put the scales away, but sometimes they call my name.  Usually frustration follows, so because those scales do not bring out the best in me, I need to choose my company wisely and kick those scales to the curb.

Because our Princess is built differently–tall and slender, I guess we’ve always assumed she wouldn’t have body issues.  People look at her and see a tall, thin girl, something that is lauded in our society.  No problem, right?

Wrong.

We got to swim practice early, so she had been playing on the playground with her brother for a few minutes.  When she came up to get ready, she climbed up on the bleachers where I was sitting, and slipped off her playclothes that she was wearing over her swimsuit.  An acquaintance sitting close by called her name and said, “You are getting so tall.  And too thin.”  And she laughed amiably.

I teach my children to speak when spoken to.  To reply when asked a question.  To say thank you in response to praise or a compliment.

Y’all, I got no idea how I should have prompted my girl to respond to that.

Apparently she didn’t either because she gave the woman a long look with question in her eyes, and then went on about her business of putting on her swim cap and goggles.  She hopped down and flitted (she’s a butterfly in a people body I’m convinced) to the pool.

She loves to swim.  I doubt that the comment stayed in her mind or heart for any time after it was released into being.

But for me, I was in the shower when it hit me.  That’s where I do my best thinking sometimes, and as the water poured so did the tears.  I don’t want her to suffer body issues.  Bless her, she will wind up with body issues because of folks telling her they’re jealous because she has no reason to have body issues.

I can’t even.

I don’t want her to be self-conscious about her body just like I don’t want that for her brother or her older sister.  If I could prevent it, I would, but I’m afraid I have our culture, our values, and folks sitting on the bleachers working against me.

Can we all just sit down right now and agree that we need to stop talking about bodies–our bodies, other people’s bodies, all the bodies?  Can we agree that there are much better things to talk about–good food, old stories, the best bargain we’ve ever come across, or how to join yarn when creating an afghan?  Seriously, there are so many better things to spent our time with others talking about, don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for all the variety there is in Creation–color, shapes, sizes…..and I’m thankful for each one of my beautiful, healthy children.  I’ll be dog if I want any one of them counting calories as a teenager.  It’s not okay.  I want them to look at the world and shine like the stars that they are, not stare in a mirror woefully wishing things were different–that they were different.

Just for this day let’s let go of the old standards of beauty, and let’s focus on the things we can control about ourselves–kindness, wisdom, compassion, honesty, fidelity, persistence.  Let’s be our best selves, and my hope is that the next time we look in the mirror, that’s who we see–our best selves.  It’s time to put a stop to holding ourselves up to a glossy page in a magazine and hold ourselves up to a higher standard.  One of the heart.  To be beautiful from the inside out.

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Now go be your beautiful best self, and sparkle on.

Love to all.

No Frowning in the Mirror

We were driving up the main road to campus to see our college girl when I saw a sign in front of a restaurant that had me doing a double take just to confirm that my eyes did not deceive me.

I was driving so I wasn’t able to take a picture.  But trust me on this, you can’t make this stuff up.  The sign said,

“Our Salads Will Make You Skinny”

 

Are you kidding me?

This makes me angry on so many levels.

First, is this what our society is coming to?

Never mind, don’t answer that.  I know that it is.  The skinnier the better, right?  Frankly, that really ticks me off.

Second, what about “our salads will make you healthy”?  Wouldn’t that be a better selling point?  A better thing to focus on?  Health?

Right, I know.  Skinny is equated with healthy.  But that’s not always the case.

Skinny does NOT equal healthy.

Third, this sign is less than a mile from the all women’s college campus where my daughter lives and is attending school.

Yeah, this restaurant knows exactly what it’s doing and who its market is.

Wrong.  On.  So. Many. Levels.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many law shows, but as my blood started boiling, I thought about what lawsuits I could throw at them and what I’d say to them in court.  False advertising, emotional distress, child endangerment (some of those young women aren’t quite 18), and just plain out indecency.

Signs like this, businesses like this, and the people who run them and choose to advertise this way are playing on our insecurities. In that one moment that business owner is saying, “Hey, you, the one driving over there…..yeah, you.  You are not perfect or beautiful or well-proportioned.  Your body is not all that it can be.  But hey, if you eat our salads, you will become skinny, and since this is something everyone wants to be, you should come here and eat our salads.  And then the world will be yours.”

I’m calling them out on this.  This is nothing but blowing hot air.  No, it’s worse than that.  It’s made up of the stuff I used to walk around and avoid stepping in when I was following my Daddy through the cow pasture.

And I say No More.

It is time that we all stand up and say that there is no perfect body shape or size and turn away from those who would have us believe otherwise.  My friend Lisa who writes over at My So Called Glamorous Life asked a great question: “How many people make money off of our insecurities?”

Exactly.

So to my daughter and her friends:  You are beautiful.  You are young and you are learning, and there is so much to life that is hard.  Don’t make looking in the mirror a part of the hard stuff.  Love who is there.  If you feel healthy, that is wonderful.  Keep on keeping on.  But if you don’t feel healthy, do something about that.  Find a friend to join you and make wise choices–in all areas of your life, including eating and moving your body and keeping good company.  If you feel like eating a salad, go for it.  But please don’t do it because of a promise to “make you skinny.”  Just.  No.  Salads can’t do that.  At least not alone.  And sometimes not at all.  Look in your mirror.  Smile.  That woman in front of you is beautiful and deserves to be smiled at and loved.  So love her, and go do you.  As a friend once told me, ‘You are the best you there is.’  A salad’s not going to make you more awesome.  Loving yourself and then those around you–now that can fine tune and amplify all that is wonderful about you.  

Ain’t nobody got time for false advertising and empty promises.  Or frowning in the mirror.  Life’s too short for all of that.

Love to all.

 

Fringe Hours

I am laughing as I recall my Joyful friend and I talking so many years ago about the books we had in stacks beside our beds.

“They read like the self-help shelves at the bookstore.”

Yeah.  They did.

You know those books where an author proclaims they can tell you how to become a better person in 5 days or how to lose 25 pounds in a month or how to parent the perfect child……by a week from Saturday, just in time for the family picnic?

Been there, started to read that, rarely finished a single one of them.

Until now.

Fringe Hours

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the launch team for this book.  Which means I got a copy (ooohhhh, a new book–y’all know how much I love books!) of the book in advance back in January.  I was excited to read it and share my thoughts.

So here goes.

First of all, I haven’t been reading it alone.

This has been my reading companion.

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My reading companion–so many thoughts have resonated with me that I’ve been underlining and starring all over the place.

 

I have been underlining and starring all through this book.  (And toss in a few “Yes!” and “Amen”‘s for good measure.)  This is not your ordinary “expert tells all the have nots how to get it”  book.  This is like a conversation with your friend.  She laughs, she confesses, she shares, and she cares.  I don’t know how she does it, but in this book, as I’ve been reading, I had this sense that she really, truly cares about me and how I carve out time for me. To be. Me.

Much like a dear friend would.

She’s also not just sharing her own stories.  Ms. Turner surveyed over 2000 women from all 50 states and over 30 countries around the world.  She asked questions and she took time to hear their stories, many of which are shared in the book.

And that’s why this book won’t leave my shelves.  Because of the message I got as I read page after page about women, like me, who crave some time to express themselves but feel guilty taking away that time from the family.

The message that I am not alone.

As I read story after story, I kept thinking, “Me too.”  “I hear you.”  “Oh my land, I thought I was the only one.”

Have you ever wondered if you were the only one who felt the way you did and then found out you weren’t?  That feeling.  That grace.  This book is full of it.

In one chapter, she remembers reading under the covers with a flashlight as a child–oh the joy of that memory for me!  And when Ms. Turner admits to leaving supper dishes in the sink until the next morning, I laughed with gratitude.  When she talked about her fabric “stash,” I knew we could be sisterfriends for life.  I live that.  (well, okay, with yarn instead of fabric, but still)

Here are just a few of the quotes from the book that resonated with me:

“Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.”  Chapter on Pursuing Balance

relationships currency

“In the end, I just had to let it go and not worry about the state of my home.  She knew I was on a book deadline, and she wasn’t coming to see my house–she was coming to see me.  Relationships are the currency that matters, not the conditions of our homes.”  Chapter on Letting Go of Self-Imposed Pressures     (oh AMEN!)

“Self-care needs to be included in what you should be doing.  It is not a privilege.  It is a necessity…..Choosing yourself is not wrong.”  Chapter on Eliminating Guilt and Comparison

“…..I have learned that while I sometimes regret saying yes, I never regret saying no.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Yes is so often the expected response that a no can be difficult to both give and receive.  We get emails asking for volunteers, and if the slots don’t fill up fast enough, more emails come pressuring us to respond because not enough people have signed up.   If we still don’t volunteer to help, we’re looked at as ‘uncommitted……’ Women need to be kinder to themselves and one another…..What I am telling you is that if someone says they cannot help, do not judge her.  Instead, ask if you can help her.  Ask if she needs anything.  Or just say, ‘It’s really great that you know your limits and said no. I respect that.’ And mean it.”  Chapter on Prioritizing Your Activities

“Maybe we don’t need so many apps.”  Chapter on Using Your Time Efficiently

“Asking for help can feel very vulnerable. I sometimes feel like if I ask for help, I am not being a good wife.  This is a lie.  Who I am as a wife is not defined by whether I can get all the laundry done.”  Chapter on Embracing Help

“Sometimes we have to let go of self-imposed have-tos and settle for good enough.” Chapter on Overcoming Obstacles

“You can feed your passions by running a hundred miles or sewing a dozen dresses, but if you don’t take time to be still and rest, you will eventually suffer.”  Chapter on Finding Rest

 

Something tells me she might need a nap sometimes too.

We all do really, just as we all need to read this book.  It is empowering and encouraging.  The list of gracious ways to say no presented in Chapter 7 makes it worth the time spent reading it all by itself.  I think one of my favorite “guides” for knowing when to say no to was also in that chapter.  Ms. Turner shared the story of Mandy, who said “she says no to things that will make her yell at her kids.”

That right there.  My new rule of thumb.  We’ll all be better off, really, to be rushing to the car and to the “next” thing on the agenda a little less often I think.

This book is one I will thumb back through a lot.  For the funny stories, for the wisdom, for that list in Chapter 7 when I get asked to do something.  🙂  I want all of the folks I care about to read this book.  And be encouraged.  And to chase their passions.  To find what feeds their souls.

While I can’t send everyone a copy of this book, I am going to share a copy with one of you.  The book is being released today, February 17.  You can enter by sharing a dream that you’d like to pursue or one that you are making happen in the comment thread here or on the post on the I Might Need a Nap Facebook page.  Be sure to like the page and sign up to follow the blog, so you won’t miss anything.  One winner will be randomly selected from all entries.  Entry deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on February 18.

If you are eager to get your own copy or twelve, you can head over to http://www.fringehours.com or any of the major booksellers to order now.  You can read the first chapter free on the website.  There are other resources also available.

 

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to read this book.  I am thankful for the woman who wrote it and for the women who were brave enough to share their stories too.  Most of all, I am thankful for being reminded of the grace we can and should offer each other, encouraging and empowering each of us to be joyful and better at living and sharing the journey with peace-filled hearts.

 

Wishing you all the surprise of finding some Fringe Hours in your week.

Love to all.

Reading Between the Aisles

We are in trouble.

It might be obvious to all of you, but it hit me in the head like a brick the other day, and instead of seeing stars, a light bulb came on.

I get it now.

We just think we run our own lives.

Our lives are actually being run by the grocery stores.

Oh, but you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

I shop at the same few stores each time I go.  I know that the five pound bag of frozen broccoli florets can only be found at this store, where I also buy our favorite rice, because it’s cheapest there.  Another store has the best produce, and I prefer to purchase frozen vegetables at another.  It’s the third one that I am most familiar with.  It’s on the main drag to and from just about anywhere else I go, so I shop there the most.  I used to know it almost as well as the back of my hand.

Until they moved everything around a month or so back.  I’m still learning where some things are.  No, they didn’t bring in anything new, not sure what all the moving around was about.

So perhaps it’s the fact I’m having to watch things more carefully so I don’t miss something on my list the first time around, but I found myself paying closer attention when I was there last Friday. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m having to change my eating habits almost completely, and I find myself searching for non-processed foods that I can eat and stay within the confines of this new diet.

Either way.  I saw the light.

It started in the produce section.  Lovely apples, bananas, carrots, lettuce, and so on.  But there right in the midst of it?

A slushy machine.  I kid you not.

It’s so bright and colorful that it never fails to capture the attention of my littles.  I always say no, and they are always disappointed.  I just wonder at the wisdom of placing that there.  Maybe they–the powers that be–figure we’ll all be feeling so good and healthy about the fresh fruits and veggies we’re buying that we’ll figure we deserve a sweet treat?

I have no idea.

About a fifth of the back aisles in the store are reserved for cookware, utensils, aprons, towels, etc.  All this is saying is you don’t have enough, you are ill prepared, what are you thinking, just assuming you still have that dish to cook in tonight?  Buy ME. I really do wonder at why so much space is devoted to things that could not represent a significant portion of their sales.  Could it?

I love that the red meat is on display on shelves, but the chicken I have to practically stand on my head to get it out of the refrigerated bins in the middle.  Wait.  No I don’t.

But the real discovery was in the freezer section. I was looking for some berries and some vegetables, and yes, they’ve moved stuff around in the freezer cases as well.  As I walked down the aisle with the “Vegetables” sign hanging overhead, I realized at least 2/3 of it was variation on frozen potatoes and bread.  The last 1/3 toward the back of the store did have small bags of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, peas, okra, and so on.  I was blown away.  Imagine how much healthier we could be eating if they increased their vegetable selection to at least 50% of the space or more!  Instead, it looked as if the healthier choices had been thrown in as an afterthought.  And those of us who don’t know any better could happily throw in the fries, tater tots, and hash browns and pat ourselves on the back for filling up our cart with vegetables.

As I searched for the frozen fruit, I walked up and down the aisle more than once until I found them.  One little pitiful section of frozen berries.  At the end of the ice cream aisle.  Subliminal messaging, anyone?

And speaking of which, what about the checkout lanes?  It’s like a conference for sugar and dyes and salts and fats all in one place, have you noticed?  They’re looking for a place to party, and most of the time, I would love to oblige them.  (But most of the time I don’t.)

It makes me sad.  It took me having to change how and what I eat for me to step outside the comfort zone of what I cook and shop for.  And when I did, I became aware of how much the grocery stores affect how and what we eat by what they offer, how they offer it, and the ease with which we can find it.  I was searching for something called Arrowroot powder.  I looked for a few minutes in the organic section and then in the baking section.  I didn’t know where else to look, and I didn’t make the time to ask someone at the customer service counter.  And so I left not being able to make a new recipe that would be a healthy dessert for us.  And that is just one example.

It seems that the grocery stores are offering us their “opinions” in the form of their options.  And we, as consumers, must do our thinking for ourselves–much as we do when we read the policies and beliefs of politicians before voting.  Only in this case we vote with our shopping dollar.  If we refuse to purchase the sugar-laden, full of dye, and unreadable ingredient products, maybe one day they will take them off the shelves.

And fill them with healthier choices.

I’m not trying to tell you how to shop or what to eat.  Just because I’ve been told to cut out all sugars and wheat and dairy, and just because all of this can make me more than a little grumpy, it doesn’t mean that I think everyone should have to join me in this new way of eating.  (Although misery does love company. But alas, there are no cookies.)  However, I do think we need to get real and recognize the power these businesses have in affecting our choices–if they spend much of their store space offering processed, high in unhealthy ingredients foods, then what other choice do we have?  Health food stores are not readily available or affordable to everyone everywhere.  Most folks have to make do with what is right there in their immediate area.

Which is another thing that makes me sad about my friends who are in need in Macon.  Many of them live closer to a “Food Mart” than they do a grocery store.  Without the transportation to get to and from a real grocery store with somewhat healthier options, it’s just not going to happen.  But that’s another soapbox I’ll step off of.  For now.

I’m just one person.  Maybe it doesn’t matter to anyone else.  But if it does–if you would rather have more healthy choices in your local grocery store, don’t be afraid to speak up.  Let them know what your preferences are.  (I once got Red Diamond Decaffeinated tea bags restocked in a store many years ago.  Long story, but suffice to say, your voice does count. And yes, they are the best.)

Our health is a very precarious and sometimes seemingly fickle thing.  We have to protect it and guard it at all costs.  Don’t listen to what the stores are trying to tell you.  What they give the most space to is not necessarily the best for you.  Neither are the things that are easiest to grab.  Step up and educate yourself, and then vote with your shopping dollars.  One day your body will thank you.