Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back to Basics

I just ate a sandwich. Sandwiches, when made at home, are usually really good for you and full of nutrients. Yet, lately - because I've been watching so many shows about being health conscious and reading the labels on food - I have become more aware. Unfortunately, I didn't look at the label until after I had consumed the manufactured turkey. Needless to say, I'm shocked. The turkey meat that I just ate included the following ingredients:
  1. White turkey (phew)
  2. Water
  3. Modified corn starch (SO BAD)
  4. Less than 2% of salt
  5. Sugar
  6. Carrageenan (WTF)
  7. Sodium lactate
  8. Sodium phosphates
  9. Sodium erythorbate
  10. Flavorings (as if the turkey alone wasn't tasty enough)
  11. Sodium nitrate. The fact that it listed "less than 2% salt" and then went on with about 4 other ingredients that had "sodium" in their title was amusing. When you read the sodium grams on the nutritional label it says, "740mg" in just 6 slices (thin slices) of this turkey product. It leads me to believe that if they would have just let the turkey stand alone, they wouldn't have needed to add so much salt to flavor it up. I'm a little freaked out by this. I remember walking down the aisle of the grocery store and thinking I want to be more healthy at lunchtime, a nice sandwich gives you a well rounded meal. Veggies, dairy, grains, & meat. Well, what I thought was meat - at least it's partly meat. Shouldn't we have higher standards for our food?
This really wakes me up to what we put in our bodies. I was already on the verge of change, these past few months. Buying organic wherever possible and watching what I eat calorie wise. Now I'm completely 100% awake. As soon as I read the label on the lunch meat, I opened our pantry to find out that even the Whole Grain Toasted Oats Cereal from Trader Joe's has corn syrup and enriched flour on its ingredients list. What a disappointment - the way I was starting my day wasn't as healthy as I thought. It's really time to start paying attention to every detail. I'm lucky to have had this enlightenment now, this year I turn 30. I have a chance to live out the rest of my life getting only the nutrients I need. Imagine those who won't open their eyes or have lived every day eating the same thing for the last 30, 40, 50, 60 years. No wonder the obesity level has become so high in this country.

When watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution the other night I was appalled by what I saw still being fed in school cafeterias, it was mind boggling. Now knowing all that we know,we are still feeding chicken nuggets, pizza, mashed potatoes made from instant powder and milk with chocolate or strawberry flavorings. Shocking. When I saw the potatoes they plopped out on the cafeteria tray I thought of what my Weight Watchers group leader once said. She was so inspiring and VERY health and organic conscious. She used to say, "Just watch what your food does to your plate or pan and realize that it does the same thing to your body." What an "A-Ha!" Moment!!!! Those kids were eating paste and processed chicken. Disgusting. Amazing what they try to pull just to meet the USDA guidelines and cook food for 400+ FAST! Convenience over quality = the way of the world these scary days...

I'm ready to embark on a "From Scratch" life... I'll be starting another blog to document recipes and ways to enjoy real ingredients and what food used to taste like before the freezer was introduced. It'll be a hard transition and I'm sure I'll have some setbacks, but I'm excited to live organic and green. Also, on this quest to be healthier and happier, my Mom and I will be planting an extensive vegetable garden in her back yard. She has so much space which is just waiting to be growing abundantly with delicious vegetables. We'll take pictures and show you our progress!

In honor of Earth Day lets all just stop and think of this beautiful planet. If you can, go see Avatar in 3D, because the underlying message of the movie is "respect nature." Such a beautiful and breathtaking movie, I've seen it twice now and honestly could watch it over and over. I love the line, "I see you,"- so deep. To see someone is huge. Think about it - when you look at someone you make assumptions about who they are. When you know someone, I mean truly know who they are then you see into their soul. At least that's how I interpret it. I believe it means more to "see" someone than to love them. To know who they are, to have their trust to show you into their entire being. So amazing. The number of people I love would be far more than the number of people I can honestly say "I see."

Human connection is so important in this world as well as having a connection with nature. To be giving, kind, and thoughtful not only gives joy to others, but you reap the benefits too. I think in this day and age with technology at the forefront of everyone's minds, we lose out on personal contact. You know where you meet up for dinner and leave cellphones in your pocket and just talk. It's a dying art. People still go out, but so often I see them each chatting on their phones or texting. Paying attention to what is right in front of us is so important. I remember when I was in Customer Service, you would put the phone on hold if someone was standing at your counter. It should be that way in life. If someone is there in front of you, Listen, Talk, Be There. LTB! There's no way to "see" each other when we're behind a cellphone or computer screen. Technology is wonderful for sharing and keeping in touch, but when that becomes the ONLY outlet for staying connected, you've gone astray.

Remember handwritten letters? Getting mail and stopping your day to open it and read what was going on in someone else's life? Yes, you can get emails, but it seems that when we sit at the computer there are distractions. Instant messages pop up, other emails come in, the side bar shows you something you have to buy and all of a sudden your attention is not on the email. I still send letters to my childhood friend and it is so special. To see handwriting instead of printed words is so refreshing.

Today I realize that as simple as I am, I can be even simpler. I can eat less processed ingredients, plant my own vegetables, spend more time outside in nature, connect more (with those willing to connect of course - two way street), and write more snail mail. Yes, technology is grand. So many beautiful things have come from it, but it's not the only avenue of happiness. Back to basics, here I go? You wanna come?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sideline Watching

We have two choices in life, to get up and persevere or to sit back and let the world fly by us. Me, I've always been the one who watches from the sidelines, scared to get in the game. Getting in the game means being that person who will take it from another because the desire is so great. I'm the girl who will give you the win because she cares, maybe too much. I sit and muddle through because I don't need the spotlight or the acclaim. I know there are people in the world who need it more than I - I'd rather they have it. When will I wake up from this cycle of self neglecting?

I really have had some time to think these past few weeks. To reflect on life and what it all means and where it's all going and it can be scary. I'm going on thirty years old - no big deal. Yet, there were so many things I thought I wanted for myself that I've not yet achieved. But then again, did I really want those things or was it all just what others wanted and I mixed and meshed it all into my plan?

By 27, I said I'd have a home and a family. I would have had an ornate wedding in a garden. I would be an established singer/songwriter who is helping change the world by 30. Now looking back at those predictions, I laugh hysterically. I am engaged to my very best friend and am in no rush to get down the aisle. I would rather run to Vegas with my prince to be wed. I don't want a lavish wedding, I'd rather spend that money on a European vacation than a party. I can't imagine having kids yet, my kitty Dobbie is my most precious baby at the moment. I am not an aspiring singer/songwriter. I sing every chance I get and write lyrics, but could never formulate a real song. Have I tried, oh yes, many times I've sat down and made a rambling attempt and it's just not in me. I'm no musician. I can play a nice tune on the ebony & ivory, but I fear I may never create my own music. I believe that my poetic words of kindness do touch my inner world and that is so satisfying. To see an instant smile is the greatest gift I could ever receive.

The staples of life are so unimportant to me and yes I get judgemental looks because I don't care that my credit is shot, that I don't have a home, that my car won't run, and that I buy my shoes at Payless shoes. Yes, I get my haircut at Supercuts and I love Wally World. Things, material things matter so little to me. They are just that, THINGS. If there were a fire, I would cry at losing my words on paper before I cried over my DVDs and works of art. I am thrilled to keep it modest. Those who know me, know I love to have things around me that make me smile and "simple is sweet" is my perspective.

I call myself "The Simple Girl Inspired," because everything makes me feel. Yes I'm a big cry baby. I watch a happy movie and yet the happy ending makes me cry. I feel so fully and so provocatively. It's not cute to cry all the time... I realize this, but still don't care. There was a time when I'd suppress my feelings because of the way others perceived me. Pardon my french, but screw 'em. This is my life. I'm realizing more and more that I need to take the reigns and not worry so much about what others say or do in reaction to it. For so long I've been scared to be myself and finally I'm aware that I'm pretty powerful, even if being kind and helping out makes me seem selfless. It's actually how I have the power. I have the respect and love because of who I am. It is very rare to find a selfless loving soul these days and I'm happy to be that girl.

I let all my caring clutter up my mind and get me worried. I think about everything and sometimes I get worked up about it and let it control my mind and heart. Even when there's nothing to worry about, I'll hear a song or watch a movie and my mind starts going... like tonight:
  • I'm worried about my baby Brother who is far away from me. I know he's doing wonderfully, but he's not in my eyesight and I just want to be there for him in every way I possibly can. He's my biggest source of inspiration. He's been with me through EVERYTHING and means the world to me and makes me want to be something bigger and better. He's achieved so much already at 23 and I couldn't be more proud of him.
  • I think about my Mom who's dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis every day of her life. She's so amazing, publishing a magazine and taking care of my Grandma full time. She's had so many struggles in her life and she's never let ANYTHING knock her down. Her strength is something that I admire and her compassion is amazing. She's always there to help out anyone sick or in need no matter what they may have said or done to her in the past. She lives in the NOW. Such a wonderful woman. I've also never laughed as hard with anyone else.
  • I think about my Papi, so dignified and intelligent. I thank the heavens that he and I are okay. We've come to an understanding that we will just go from here. How amazing it is to have him back in my life. He's a really brilliant man. So full of amazing stories and insight and he's been so wonderfully supportive lately and I love him for having my back and not judging me. What a man!
  • I think of my Grandma who has had a really rough three or four years. It's not easy when your greatest friends in life are leaving this world and I so feel for her. She is miraculously kind and forgiving of everyone. She remembers everyone's birthdays and the momentous occasions in people's lives and she makes every single family member feel so special. She's so spiritual and when she prays, oh how it helps. What a heart.
  • I think about my second Mom Barbie, I know it's not been easy. I've not made it easy on her, that's for sure, but it's all about learning and growing. She's brought light back into my Papi's eyes and made him happy again. I could never thank her enough for that. This past year through this February has been hard on her and she just smiles and says, "I get back up and get going..." She's one tough cookie, but full of heart and love. There is no one more sentimental and I appreciate her love. She is bold love.
  • I think about my Aunties who have all been ill within the last couple months. It's scary. Not only are they my angels here on earth, they are my blood. My kin and ties that bind. When someone in your family is sick, it feels like a ripple effect. You feel their pain. Such love and light from these ladies, you know who you are, and to hear you're down for the count - it hurts. So glad you are all on your paths to betterness. Remember to take care of your emotional selves. It's not all about being healthy in a exercise, eating, and sleeping sense. You've also got to keep the stress down and enjoy this life. All the money in the world made by slaving away won't buy you happiness. BALANCE and always know you have a family who loves you and wants to have fun with you!
  • My dear sweet man Paul has been my first mate. Through the rocky waters, he never waivers. When I'm sitting here crying for no reason, my goodness is he ever present and reassuring. I know why I said, "Yes, I'll marry you!" - No doubts. When there are a million doubts in my life - he's what I trust. He never judges, always encourages, and always tries to find a solution. He's been the greatest source of acceptance, hope, and love I've ever had in my life. He's so supportive of my dreams and I can't wait to start a family with him, someday!No other friend like him and he's just one of those amazing people. A shy guy so it takes a while to see it, but once you do, it's like WOW! Plus everyone knows I LOVE SHY GUYS!
Ever have a night filled with such emotion and no one to share it with? It's a really inspiring experience of thought and reflection. You feel and cry. It's therapy. My day to day has been a struggle, trying to find my purpose and thinking about this grand structure of life. We are born and someday we die. That whole "Die" thing has never been something I've dealt with very well. When I was five years old I came to the side of my parent's bed in the middle of the night crying because I was scared to die. Don't really know what brought that fear on initially, but my Papi would have me sleep next to his bed and he'd hold my hand till I fell into my dreams and forgot all about death. Strangely, I had those episodes on and off again until I reached the fifth grade or so. Then Junior High, High School, and College came and kept me so busy, I had no time to think of death. When my heart was broken the first time, I started to think of the whole scope of life again because this person I thought I'd marry was out of my life forever. That finality was scary and in turn brought me back to the finality of this life. It's not forever. Since then, 2000 or so, I have thought of death at great length probably once or twice a month. Most say it's healthy, but I don't think my thoughts are healthy. I often picture how I'll go and often cry over the thought of losing those I love so much.

Religion has never been a part of my life and being that I'm almost 30, it's really hard to wrap my head around any of it. To go to a church seems archaic and my perspective has me so closed minded. Paul has a deep catholic background and such faith. I so admire him and wish I had such peace in the wheel of the world. I just have walls built that won't let faith in. Yes, I believe that there is something spiritually out there because of the wonderful souls that reside in each of us, but I just find it eerie to read a book that was written by man. Hopefully, someday in the future I'll have a window open in my mind and some of God's light will cast a light where shadows have kept me a non-believer. For now, I just have a hard time when it comes to the grand picture. Sometimes, I do find myself saying, "What's the point?" Seems so sad that we all build these wonderful lives, buy homes and cars, make careers that all just get left behind in the end. Sweet Paul tells me, "That's because you need to find something that gives you purpose." And so I sit here writing, which gives me such purpose. I feel an outlet open when my words fall into ears who may benefit or have light bulb moments because of something I said.

I have a head full of wonder, thoughts, feelings, emotion and creativity. I believe that my purpose will come. I just need to remove the cobwebs which have me feeling, not only my feelings, but everyone else's feelings. When you have too many feelings already, how do you expect to function with everyone else's baggage on your shoulders too? And it's not like they put it there. I try and take it off their shoulders and it's just not mine to carry.

I love my life so much, I fear losing it.
I ache for a purpose, but have trouble choosing it.
I want everyone to be happy, full of smiles.
I wish everyone a high road with easy miles.
I feel so much because I care about every little thing.
With all these minutes spent on life pondering... A hundred songs I could sing.