I am me for a reason

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I am a very different person from the young girl I was many years ago.  Some people have the good fortune of knowing who they are from an early age but I was not one of those people.  I lived a life I thought I wanted but I had not been honest with myself.  The path I was following was carved by what others needed from me but not from what I needed for myself.  It wasn’t until many years later that I gave myself permission to be me.

As I shifted through the years, the things I used to tolerate have become intolerable.  Where once I held my tongue, my voice is now louder than ever and I feel confident in my opinion.  I now value my voice and am no longer willing to remain silent.  This part of me always existed but never had the courage to be present.  This strength of character finally gave itself permission to exist and defined the person I always knew I was meant to be.

I recently saw a meme on Facebook and that innocuous comment turned into this blog post.  Life changes.  Sometimes we stick to the original plan, but sometimes we realize that the path we were meant to follow went in a different direction and it just took us a while to catch up.

I spent many years catching up to the person I am today and I am very happy with who I have become.  I have finally embraced the change in myself and recognized it as a strength and not a weakness.  Of all of the dreams I had for myself as a teenager, I could not be more proud of the person I am now and can only hope I have the courage to continue to live by the beliefs that I currently have.   Now, more than ever, I believe I am me for a reason.

 

 

 

Old words with the same message

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I am doing something I don’t usually do by copying and pasting a post I wrote back in February of this year.  The words I wrote then have a hauntingly familiar refrain and I want to share them again because I think they should be read.

 

“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on, it takes a lot of strength to let go.” ~ J.C. Watts

~~

I was born a “fixer” and, until a few years ago, I had spent a great deal of my time taking on other people’s burdens as my own.  But something shifted in the paradigm of my reality when I got divorced in 2012.  I realized I was spending too much of my time trying to change a life that was not mine to change.  I was hanging on to problems that irrevocably had impact on my life but I had no power to solve.  I needed to let go.  But I was so stuck in the pattern of my life that I didn’t know how to let go.  I wanted so desperately for things to work out in my life that I honestly thought that this was the syllabus of my future.

It takes a monumental amount of courage to walk away from a relationship that you have put your heart and soul into, but a relationship has to give you what you need for it to be successful.  By its very definition, a relationship is a form of communication.  Wants and needs are expressed and, in a healthy relationship, are reciprocated without condition.  Such was not the case for me and I knew it.  I felt it deep within myself but it took me a long time to admit it because to do that would have made me feel like I had failed.  But I had only failed myself by not seeing the signs sooner and listening to that nagging inner voice.

I finally found the nerve to put my needs first and, in finally letting go, I gave myself permission to define myself according to my needs and not the needs of anyone else.  The strength to hang on was easy, it was my comfort zone, but finding the strength to let go made me feel eviscerated, vulnerable, and it was not something I was accustomed to.

I wanted to write this post because I have friends now in the situation in which I found myself years ago.  I want them to know that letting go is not always the easy choice, but it may be the right choice, for them.   It may be hard to listen to that petulant voice in your head, but that voice is the most sincerely honest advice you will ever get.

let it go

(image credit)

Don’t give up easily.  If it is worth the fight, than fight, fight like your life depends on it.  But if you know in your heart that nothing will ever change, let go, let go like your life depends on it.

Just sit back and listen

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Some days are much more poignant than others.  For me, yesterday was one of those days.  I didn’t start the day knowing that my heart would be pummeled by a barrage of emotion but the result of my escapades resulted in a tidal pool of understanding and empathy.

In the rare moments between talk and react lies the innate ability to just listen.  The urge to respond is overwhelming but a silent voice in the deep reaches tells us to remain silent and, for those of us who can harness this wisdom and do nothing but pay attention, we let others feel comfortable to speak their truth.  We give them an asylum to breathe deeply and exhale their reality.  We give them an opportunity to be raw and completely honest.

Sometimes the most important gift we can give is our silence and I was reminded of this yesterday.  If somebody wants your opinion, be honest.  But if that somebody just wants you to listen, be silent.  Really hear what it is that they want to say and wait until they ask for your thoughts.  That gift of quietude can express your support in a way that words will never be able to achieve.

Sometimes the best advice you can give is no advice.  Just be willing to sit back, truly hear what they are saying and let your friends know that they have the freedom to speak without interruption.  Silence speaks louder than words.

 

 

 

 

Warrior

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Woman of strength,

the pain never shows through your smile

but I know it is there.

My affection for you began immediately

and, as we grew closer,

my love for your spirit and sarcasm

earned you a spot deep in my heart

where you will stay, always.

Your illness will never dampen your spirit,

because you are fire,

and with that fire comes light and energy.

You show courage in your time of uncertainty

and you wear your suffering with grace.

You have an air of strength

in spite of the weakness you feel,

 and you inspire me with your determination.

Woman of strength,

may you continue to bless my life

for many years to come.

I love you.

 

Tofu or not tofu……that is the question

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I always had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  I avoided it like the plague and since I have been enjoying my plant-based/Vegan eating, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would cave and try it for the sake of trying it.  And although my foray into Tofu may have done it a great injustice, it was just as horrible as I thought it would be.

On my day off this past Monday, I stopped into our local health food store to pick up some things to bring home for dinner.  The Polenta Bake was delicious and the Falafel, while tasty, was a bit dry.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought a few pieces of marinated Tofu.  The woman behind the counter assured me that, when it was heated up, it would taste like a chicken nugget.  That should have been my first hint that it would be something that was meant to taste like food, but wasn’t real food.

(my home-cooked dinner…..without tofu)

In my quest to eat better and feel better, I have drastically changed the way I eat.  I have not, in over seven weeks, craved any of the processed food or meats that I used to eat before I embarked on this journey.  I have been truly surprised that I have not had any moments where I deviated from eating food that is essentially good for me and is in its purest form.

I get my protein from beans, nuts and oats, among several other foods, and I feel better than I have in a long time.  My quality of sleep is better, my energy is better and I have no physical symptoms of the stomach upsets that I had before I cut out all of the processed crap that I once forced my body to ingest.

I am not going to preach about plant-based eating but I will say it is a dietary change that made a world of difference for me.  And in that brave new world that includes foods that I could not have imagined enjoying the way I do, Tofu will never be one of those foods.

 

 

They had me at bacon

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I have two words for you – carrot bacon.  Coming from a professed meat lover, I know these two words will shock and amaze you but I have just made my first batch today and will continue to do so.  It was delicious!

My foray into more of a vegetable and plant-based world has been encouraged by a friend who has recently decided to eat a Vegan diet.  I am supportive of his decision and I am hoping that his food choices will help him alleviate some of his medical anomalies.

In his quest to research his new eating style, he has sent me several videos on the topic and they have been very interesting, to say the least.  For a woman somewhat shy of fifty, I have noticed my body does not react well to the foods that were once digested without a second thought.  Bloating is a common complaint so I decided to investigate a plant-based diet and give it a try.  I am not confessing to becoming a Vegan but I am going to give this new lifestyle a fair shot and see how I feel after a couple of weeks.

Food plays a huge role in our lives.  In our twenties, we could eat whatever we wanted.  In our thirties, we became a little more conscientious and made better choices.  In our forties and fifties, we become sadly aware that we are no longer in our twenties and thirties and our lifestyles have to evolve.  I am excited to venture into this new chapter of healthy eating and thankful that the internet is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to recipe ideas.

The carrot bacon is done.  The pistachios, walnuts and almonds are toasted.  The breakfasts and lunches are prepared for the next few days and I am eager to find out how this journey evolves and how my body adapts to the changes.  My first two plant-based dinners were a huge success and I felt full without feeling sluggish.  That to me is a huge step in the right direction.

I am not committing 100% to the Vegan diet.   I may have the odd meal that may not be entirely plant-based but  I am willing to commit to taking this new journey one day at a time.  If it improves my health and well-being, I’m willing to give it a try.

 

 

Pick your battles

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I was first introduced to this phrase years ago when I lived with my ex boyfriend and his three children.  At the time when I became a major part of their lives, they were a mere 6, 8 and 11 years old and were dealing with the divorce of their parents.   I had the fortune of knowing them for years before their father and I were involved so I did not take on the role of “step-monster”.  I instead had a solid foundation for a relationship with all of them.  But that did not mean the transition was easy for any of us.

There were certainly days that I found more frustrating than others, as I’m sure they did as well, and inevitably arguments ensued.  It wasn’t until their father and I were having a chat one night over a much-needed glass of wine that he bestowed a little gem on me.  He pointed out the glaringly obvious problem – I was trying too hard to win the battles and not every war in that house was going to be won – by anyone.  That stunning revelation was a game changer.  Pick your battles – such a simple phrase with epic results.

It’s hard to take a step backwards and give yourself a “time out” to realize what the audible scrimmage is really about.  You have to decide if the fight is worth the effort you are putting forth to win.   It could be an argument that, at the end of the day, really has no great effect on the bigger picture but the negative energy from the conflict just may.  You must go in with a strategy but be willing to change tactics and maneuver away from the barrage of verbal banter.

If it’s not a life changing situation, give a little.  You’ll spend countless minutes and hours trying to be right when it isn’t going to change the rotation of your world.  Sometimes all of the smaller problems can become compounded and the war you face can seem extremely overwhelming.  You must learn to choose your crusades wisely.  Learn to cloak your emotions until you can see ahead of the problem that burdens your path.

The age-old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the same gift in different wrapping.  I have carried this ideal with me throughout the years and it has served me well.  Pick your battles – be proud of the scars of war but make sure the ones you earned were worth the fight.