NEW YEAR'S PRESENT

LASDI©

LASDI©

Happy New Year! What a wonderful celebration of life we have in each New Year. We put so much stock into it being a chance to make peace with the year of old and look forward with hope to the year to come. That’s why we make resolutions. We resolve to do things better; to make things right.

For some of us, that means removing the toxic things from our life. Those toxic things could be anything from food to our relationships with certain people. I have done this very thing in my own life; in both areas, in fact. I often wonder about that, though. In looking back, I don’t think I waited until the New Year to do so. Can you imagine if I had? If there is something toxic presently in your life, do you say to yourself, “I know New Year’s is six months away, but I think I’ll wait to remove it until then!” If it is toxic, that means it is somehow making you sick. If you have the power to remove what is making you sick immediately, why would you wait?

Most of us use the New Year to eat healthier and / or work out. Right on! If waiting until then is what drives you to be successful at it, then that’s what you should do, as long as it works! But statistics say that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. 80%?!?

That is not to say I have not done the very same thing myself, of course. In fact, this last January 2nd, I re-started SHEsTox – The Inside-Out Detox & Cleanse. I am the creator, and I have many clients that do it and that also have re-started it, or new clients for the New Year starting it for the first time. I try very hard to live well and eat right during the year. If I didn’t, I am one of those people that would weigh 300 pounds! (It’s happened before!) But like most people, I tend to indulge during the holidays. My week to do so in particular is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We have so many traditions that are wrapped around food! Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve, Pajamas and PannyCakes on Christmas morning, a smoked goose and brisket with potato kugel for Christmas dinner, any leftover cookies or bread from the neighbors’ Christmas baskets we make (can’t let any go to waste, of course!), traditional vera bizzi (pronounce ‘vedda-beet-see’), full of pasta, for New Year’s Eve, and a greasy, cheesy, double burger with fries on New Year’s Day! Yes. Every single one of those things is tradition. So, given that week of my life, I have no choice but to re-start healthy living!

But that does not mean I don’t try really hard the rest of my year challenging myself to be healthy from the inside-out – in mind, body, and spirit. I don’t wait until each New Year to make a conscious decision to live well. It’s not easy, but absolutely NOTHING good comes easy.

I reflect on the past. If I didn’t, I would have nothing to learn from and no growth in my life. And I always look toward the future. If I didn’t, I would not have goals to meet or success to focus on. But more than either of those things, I try very hard to live in the present. The present is the truth of where we are. And if you cannot find the truth where you are, where else can you expect to find it?

In my experience, I have learned that the continuous search for happiness will cause you to be unhappy, and that the greater part of happiness depends on our outlook and not our circumstances. If you train yourself to live in the present moment and see the blessings for what they are, the things that make you unhappy will be seen as an opportunity for growth. This is not to say bad things don’t or won’t happen, or that we won’t make decisions that aren’t the best, but it is to say there will always be joy to be had if we will only see it and receive it. And that doesn’t have to be set aside for one day of the year! Life’s far too short for that!

So I say again to you, Happy New Year! I pray that every day within it, you try really hard to detoxify yourself from the inside-out in mind, body, and spirit, and look toward your future of success with determination. But mostly, I pray you are able to unwrap the present blessings that surround you!

For the purpose of New Year’s present, I am adding some of my traditions from the week I spoke of above, but with a healthier twist! Enjoy them. They’re my New Year’s present to YOU!

TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR’S VERA BIZZI:

Farfalle Pasta – Farfalle means ‘butterfly’ in Italian, which represents transformation for the New Year

(For healthier version, you can use organic whole grain pasta, or substitute tofu shirataki noodles of any shape)

Kielbasa Sausage – Represents hearty provision for the New Year

(For healthier version, you can use turkey or chicken, or leave it out for Meatless Monday!)

Cabbage – The vegetable leaves represent good health and nutrition for the New Year

Black-Eyed Peas – This lowly pea represents humility throughout the New Year (I use dried, but feel welcome to use two cans, drained, instead)

Onions – Represents the sprouting of growth and rebirth in your New Year

Garlic – This odorous bulb represents continued breath of life throughout the New Year

Carrots – Represents great vision in your life for the New Year

(additional ingredients for this recipe: extra virgin olive oil (evoo), sea salt & black pepper to taste, 1 tbs garlic powder, chicken, beef, or vegetable stock)

If using dried beans, clean and cook according to instructions, sprinkling with sea salt and pepper to taste as you go. Remember, when it comes to salt, you can always add but you can’t take away, so be careful!

Cook pasta according to instructions but using stock of your choice in place of water. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Add cooked or canned black-eyed peas and stir.

Heat a large pan, dry, on medium-high heat for two minutes, then add enough evoo to barely cover the bottom and let heat for another two minutes. Add one small chopped onion and four finely chopped cloves of garlic and stir. Peel and chop three carrots and add to the pan. Cook until barely caramelized, about five minutes, stirring only once in between.

While this is cooking, slice your kielbasa sausage. Add to the pan and cook another ten minutes, stirring only once or twice in between. While the pan mixture cooks, rough chop half a head of cabbage. Toss with ¼ cup evoo, sea salt and pepper to taste, and garlic powder. Broil for ten-to-fifteen minutes, until desired consistency, stirring about twice in between cooking time.

Add sausage mixture and cooked cabbage to your beans and pasta and toss well. Good luck! (Get it??)

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PANNY-CAKES

(this recipe can also be found on my SHE Sure Can Cook Blog HERE!)

2 cups butternut squash

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup almond flour

4 eggs

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp baking soda

coconut oil

For my butternut squash, I bought pre-peeled and cubed at the grocery store. It’s just easier and faster. I tossed them with a little bit of evoo and placed them on a baking sheet. I broiled them for about ten minutes until they were cooked through, and then put them into a standing mixer bowl. If you don’t have a standing mixer, a hand mixer will do just fine! Place all other ingredients up to coconut oil into mixing bowl and mix until blended into a loose batter consistency.

Heat heavy pan (I use my cast-iron griddle, flat side!) without oil for about two minutes. Add about a tablespoon of coconut oil before each panny-cake prior to cooking and adjust heat with each one accordingly. Ladle or pour desired amount onto pan and cook over medium heat until browned. Just like a regular panny-cake, when you see the bubbles on the upside, flip it carefully and cook the other side until brown.

NOTES: This is a great low-carb substitute for bread, which is what I intended for a breakfast sandwich for The Hubster; however, if you would like a sweeter panny-cake, add 1 teaspoon of (organic) sugar to the batter and add your favorite (organic or fully natural) syrup after cooking and prior to eating! I just squashed the bacon, egg, and cheese right between two huge pieces and watched it disappear with a smile on The Hubster’s face!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH KUGEL

2 16-oz store-prepped butternut squash cubes

1 small onion, chopped finely

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg

1 cup heavy cream

½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp garlic powder

Toss butternut squash, onion, and cheddar cheese together in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour over the squash / onion / cheese mixture. Add seasonings and carefully fold together until well mixed. Pat down a bit so that it’s a somewhat flat on top. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Let sit for a minimum of five minutes before serving!

NOTES: This is FANTASTIC for all you low-carbers like me! (Year-round!)

SEASONS CHANGE

LASDI©

LASDI©

For the sake of this blog post, I did a quick (un-sanctioned, non-governmental) poll.  The poll consisted of fifty people.  Some I knew, some I did not.  Some lived in my region and some lived in other parts of the country.

I simply asked them what their favorite time of year (or season) was.  Out of fifty people, they all had the same answer: Autumn!  So, fifty-out-of-fifty people all prefer this time of year! That’s some reputation for a season!

I am among those people.  This is the time of year for The Fam when we have our Annual Fall Family Day (NOT Family Fall Day, which means something different entirely!), my birthday, and two of The Kiddo’s birthdays are celebrated, and of course, the holy grail of holidays for my family comes into the Autumnal category: THANKSGIVING!

Some people like it because the leaves turn jewel-tone colors; others simply love the cooler weather.  The pumpkin spice smells, and the chili cooking in everyone’s biggest pot in the kitchen doesn’t hurt, either!  Is it the overcast, melancholy days that make us want to curl up in the quiet with a good book?  There is something special about the energy in the air, regardless of the reason so many people choose it as their favorite.

So why did I want to know in the first place, you ask?  Well, it seems that the energy in people changes a bit as well.  Though it starts to be a very busy season for all, people somehow seem more nostalgic and even a bit more subdued to me.  I notice more grace; more ‘warm fuzzies’.  What is it about a season that can make this change in us?

When I think about that question, I think about seasons in our life.  Not the kind that comes with a solstice, but rather the seasons that come with growth.  I think I can explain it better by sharing an excerpt out of my eBook, ‘Extra Ingredients to A Life of Flavor’:

 **********

The seasons of people that have affected me negatively have engrained in me to be positive.

The seasons of people that have affected me positively have instilled a sense of community and love within me.

We have all had the relationship or relationships that have placed fear or mistrust in us at least once. We have seen seasons of loss and of life. Such is this broken-but-beautiful world.

But the main point from all of it that I have learned and desire to pass on is that every single one of them are valuable and crucial to who we allow ourselves to become.

There are many different circumstances that cause season changes – some of them good and tasty; some of them not-so-good that leave a sour taste in our mouth. Either way, seasons come and go, and they consistently change us.

I have had so many seasonings sprinkled throughout my time here that have shaped me and helped create both my living legacy and the one I leave behind. I can tell you that not all of those seasonings have been ones that I care to recall, though it’s important to my heart and as part of my faith that I do, so that they don’t steal my joy.

Is there a friendship you used to count on daily that has fizzled out and you’re not sure why?

Or perhaps there is a family member you confided in that shared your vulnerability with someone else. Maybe it’s just as simple as someone you love and admire moving to a different place.

And then there’s the accountability factor: what if you are the person that doesn’t feel the same toward a friend, or who abandoned a trust somehow – whether knowingly or not – or had to move away from a loved-one? These seasonings of life happen to all of us – no one is immune.

What do we do with that? We cannot allow these times to make us bitter, but rather to make us better. Making our tiny life mighty depends on that.

Whenever I refer to certain people or times or memories from my own past, I almost always call those seasons ‘seasonings’ because they craft the life of flavor we choose to live. Whether it’s salty or sweet, they’re important to the recipe that creates you.

 **********

So, whether you’re one of the fifty-out-of-fifty people that loves Autumn as your favorite season, or you happen to be a beach lover in the hottest months of the year, know that what you do with the seasons of life that come your way is the most important way to grow.  Make your tiny life mighty – with every single season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill {defend}, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; ...” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~Genesis 8:22

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

WHEN THE KUCHEN HITS THE FAN

SHE2016

SHE2016

I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine.  Okay.  Let's get this out of the way - some people read gossip mags, some like the cerebral-sciency type of mags.  If you're like The Hubster, perhaps you like fishing magazines.  Personally, I find it extremely provocative to carefully peruse the free quarterly magazine sent to our home that houses all the gorgeous spices and seasonings, and all the published recipes sent in by "others" like me.  

So I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine, and I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a warm photo showing layers of sliced apple, caramelized and formed into some sort of delicacy unlike any I had ever seen.  I did one of those things we do to get an even closer look - you know, like when you fold the magazine in half and then hold it right up to your face, or tilt it from side-to-side as if to see around the item in the picture?  I looked to the left of the photo and saw the title of the recipe: "Grandma's Apple Kuchen".  (pronounced koo-ken)

I knew this recipe was meant for me and I knew I had to conquer it.  I wasn't sure why, but I just knew.  I made my shopping list right away.  There were a few obstacles to overcome in order to make this happen.  Hey, nothing good comes easy, right?  It called for a very specific-sized glass pan I didn't have, nor had I ever heard of, and a few ingredients that were not easily found in a regular grocery store.

As fate would have it, I was in my local Goodwill spot and heard something calling my name.  "I'm over here, She!"  There, with what seemed to be a rainbow with confetti streaming down over it, was the odd-sized glass pan.  $2.99??  I think I can handle that.  Check.  I perused Amazon to find the specific ingredients needed and found them.  CHECK!!  Sunday Supper was looking like the perfect time to make Grandma's Kuchen.  In my mind, I could see the proud faces of my family and hear all the accolades I would be receiving.  Oh yea.  Meant to be.  This was going to be PERFECT.

I carefully did exactly as the recipe said.  I painstakingly sliced the apples so that they were uniform and lovely.  I whisked with fury, and stirred with passion.  I slowly placed each apple slice in layers to be ever-so-exact.  And into the oven it went.  And THE AROMA!!  The smell of the vanilla, the cinnamon, the apples!!  I cleaned the mess that is usually left on the path behind you when you work so hard to achieve greatness.  The kitchen.  But I wasn't bitter.  Oh, no.  Not with what was waiting on the other side of that oven door.

The timer went off.  The potholders came out.  The oven door was opened.  And there, Ladies and Gentlemen, was THE KUCHEN.

I took it out of the oven with tears in my eyes.  I breathed in the hard work I had seen come to fruition, and set it down on my granite counter.  I stepped to the doorway and proudly announced, "The kuchen ...... is cooling."  And the smiles of anticipation spread across the faces of The ManChild and The Hubster.  I was in the clear.  My artwork was complete.  Now all we need do was eat it.

I walked back over to it to rest on my laurels.  Of course I did.  I couldn't help but stare at this incredible beauty as it cooled and brought us all closer to being one with its tasty morsels.  And then, BOOM!

You may find what I'm about to say hard to believe.  But every word is true.  Out of nowhere, the kuchen exploded.  I mean EX.  PLO.  DED.  Glass hit my arms, my neck, my face, luckily missing my eyes.  Kuchen hit the walls, the floor, the ceiling.  The sound of it was deafening.  Cameron and Adrian came running into the kitchen, only to see me standing there, eyes wide with shock and arms out in the air to my sides, as if I were attempting to fly.  "WHAT HAPPENED?!?"  I just stared at them.  "WHAT HAPPENED, She?!?"  And the tears began to flow.  "Are you okay??  What happened?"  I looked up at them, giant tears streaming now, and screamed at the top of my lungs (get ready for it)" "MY KUCHEN EXPLODED!!"  

I wish you could have seen the pity-slash-comical-slash-confused looks on their faces.  The "awwwwwwww"s coming out of their mouths, rolling from deep inside their souls for me as they both put their arms around me to console my broken spirit were so sincere.  All that hard work.  All that mountain climbing to get to the top, only to slide back down.  Everything I had worked SO HARD FOR.  Ruined.

Or was it?  Those two went into action.  They cautiously cleaned me up, and led me to the couch with a tall glass of wine.  They cleaned up the kitchen.  They loved on me.  They offered me kuchen condolences all night.  And I was reminded that life was good, even and especially in the moments we think it isn't.

I changed that recipe to morph it into my own and chose simple ingredients and more practical tools to do so.  I make it often and think of that day every single time I do.  I know it grew me and helped me stretch and climb.  I know it taught me that there is almost always a mess left behind you when you work hard, not to rest on my laurels, and to understand that in all toil there is profit.  I know it helped me see what's really important.  All that because the kuchen hit the fan.

Sometimes the most beautiful things can explode in your face, even if you think you've conquered something after a long, arduous process, and it turns out incredible ...... you feel proud and think you're in the clear.  And then, BOOM.  What was once lovely artwork is in pieces everywhere, reminding you how truly delicate life can be.

Be careful and practical as you stretch and climb, but climb just the same.  Know that when something goes wrong  after you've worked so hard, it is only to show you what's really important so that you don't lose sight of it.  And NEVER put a hot kuchen in a glass pan on a granite counter. 

SHE'S CONDOLENCE KUCHEN

Kuchen:
1 1/4 cups  flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut up
2 egg yolks
2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium-sized green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
 
Streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs butter, cold and cut
 
Combine all streusel ingredients into small mixing bowl and blend with your fingers until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter. Use your fingers to blend all the kuchen ingredients to large-crumb consistency. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks then add the vanilla extract and milk. Pour milk mixture into the crumbled dry ingredients and mix until it is just blended. Press this dough into the bottom and up the sides of a prepared baking dish.

Arrange the apple slices in three lengthwise rows on top of the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples look glazed and caramelized.

EAT SLOWLY.

www.lucidbooks.net/affiliate

 

PRICELESS

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Have you ever thought about the birth process, and how priceless it is?  A lot of people think of the blood, sweat, and tears as gory and the thought may even make them nauseous, and I totally get that.  But the process itself – gory or not – well, it’s what got us all here, right?
 

I am, of course, writing this because very recently I became (dare I say it?) a GRANDMOTHER.  It’s not the precious little bundle of joy that makes me cringe when I hear that name.  It’s the name itself.  I have always pictured a sweet little old blue-haired lady with a cane and thick glasses who says things like, “Wait for Granny, Dears!  You know my dentures fall out when I try to keep up with you whipper-snappers!”  And let me tell you, Folks, if you don’t know already:  That is NOT me.  Well, sometimes I have blue hair, but it is often in streaks and under some kind of turbi, hat, or ‘do-rag, and accompanied by a new Jesus tattoo and cute-but-crazy-accessories.  GRANNY SHE IS NOT FOR ME.  Nope.  My name is She.  So The Daughts decided SheShe would be appropriate and quite suiting.  And I agree with her. 
 

But I digress.  Back to birthing.  I sat in a different place altogether when Sage Ellie was born a little under a month ago as opposed to when my own children were born: not only a place where I could see the brilliance of a baby being born, but a different perspective.  My baby was having a baby.  And she had fought a long, hard battle of the game called life to get where she landed, and I knew she was going to make a wonderful mommy.  
 

But what about me as a mommy; as a parent to my own children?  Had I done enough?  Did I show enough love?  Did I discipline enough?  Was there a balance?  Had I given it my best shot?  I knew I had made my fair share of mistakes, but were they mistakes that could not be undone or even forgiven?  Would they scar my children enough to sully the joy of being a parent themselves?  Believe it or not, as she labored, I saw my life with them flash before my eyes and was truly pondering those thoughts and at least a thousand more.
 

And then came a different moment.  The moment The Daughts handed me comfort and hope that I had done well thus far: she gave me a hand-written letter from-her-to-me.  The nurse had asked us all to step out – “all” meaning The Son-In-Law, The Hubster (now referred to as PoPo by The Grand Daughts), and me.  Just before piling out of the room for a few minutes, she handed one to each of us.  It helped me to muster up an ounce of faith even before I looked at it. We sat in silence in the waiting area, privately reading the words she had thoughtfully penned.  
 

As I read through my tears, in the back of my memory bank, thoughts of hand-made helicopter-sized hair bows in her fine, wavy locks as a two-year-old came to mind.  I thought of laying her little head down in my lap when she was five after her bath to floss her teeth for her and how absolutely sweet and lavender-like she smelled.  I thought of the time she had chicken pox and I put mittens on her hands so she wouldn’t scratch.  The thoughts of singing together each and every Thanksgiving in front of friends and family and hearing her sweet, natural harmonies pierced my heart with joy.  Standing outside the kindergarten door the entire day where she couldn’t see me but I could see her to make sure she was all right on the first day of school reached out to me.  I remembered her telling me she wanted Jesus in her heart.
 

But coupled with those thoughts were the times I cried myself to sleep because we had screamed at each other for an entire afternoon.  I felt a strong hurt at remembering the time I lost my temper to a sincere breaking point, and thought if I could go back how differently I would handle that moment.  I was brought back to a time of desperation because I could not connect with my teenage daughter, no matter how hard I tried, and thinking what a failure I was as a parent.  It shattered me, as I was almost positive it had her, as well.
 

And then this (don’t worry, Readers.  I checked with her first to make sure she didn’t mind if I share):
 

“Mom, you have always been there for me and through the years have become my best friend.  I’m so excited to make you a SheShe today!  
 

You have taught me to love without ceasing and without fear.  My whole life you have been preparing me for motherhood by the example you have set for my life.  I just didn’t know it until I started thinking about the mom I wanted to be to Sage.  
 

Thank you for loving me like you do.  I cannot wait to watch your relationship with Sage grow through the years.  I am so thankful to know that I will lean on you as I set my own examples for Sage.  <3
 

I love you, Mom, and I’m so thankful for you.
 

XOXO – Chelsea”
 

That, to me……was PRICELESS.
 

So perhaps at the end of the day, you are second-guessing if your best is even good enough.  Or maybe you feel like a failure at something and that shatters you.  In this one life we have been given, nestled amongst the good will always be the bad.  Without those times, we will not grow; we will not learn to love without ceasing and without fear.  So we MUST value those times as well and know that life is good, even when it isn’t.  If we have truly given it our best and have had even an ounce of faith, the reward will be the way you see it returned to you…..and that – IS PRICELESS.  

 

JIVE TURKEY

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

To me: How do you make him do it??  What kind of bribery do you use?  Did you strike some sort of bargain?? 

To The Hubster: How did She manage to make you do it??  Did She bribe you?  You must hate your life.

These are questions and comments we get every time we dress in costume (which, by the way, is more often than any other adults - and MAYBE even kids - I’ve ever known). 

It could be a theme night.  We’ve done French (berets and tiny moustaches are just fun), Winter Wonderland (we were the Snow King & Queen, of course), UK (that was fun because I got to see Adrian in a kilt – hubba, hubba), or even Japanese (because Geisha makeup is a MUST).  It could be the ever-regular-reason, Halloween.  We’ve been Peace & Quiet, Gomez and Morticia Addams, Sick & Tired, and Mummy & Deaddy.  It could be for a party.  We’ve been mega-trends from every era from the 20s to the 90s, and literally everything in between.  We’ve been Wonder Woman and Captain America (both circa 1940s and circa 1980s), and we’ve been Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix.  We’ve even been Thomas Jefferson and his wife, Martha.  I’m telling you:  the list goes on and ON.

Just a sidebar:  He especially loves keeping the costume boxes (yes, PLURAL) very organized.  He recently catalogued our wigs.  Yep.  Now we have a wig library. 

I’m telling you, WE COSTUME UP.  But therein lay the key word: “we”.  I’m never alone in it.  Adrian suits up no matter what, and never complains and never declines. 

The Hubster knows life is fleeting and very short.  He knows we are partners.  He knows it is not threatening to his manhood, but rather a fun way to be present and in-the-moment.  And he knows me.  And he loves life.  And he loves life with me.  And he loves me.

We jive.

This particular costume (yes, that’s him in the picture), I simply said, “Turkey Costume”.   And he donned it as though he were a proud peacock instead of a turkey.  He danced around with kids, and he pretended to peck at people’s heads.  And, as most rock-star turkeys do, he wore sunglasses and drank trendy coffee.

I’m not saying costumes are for everyone.  But I am saying all the things that make The Hubster jive with me and with life ARE.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to be sure you know life is fleeting and very short.  I want to make sure you are present and in-the-moment.  Do you love life?  Even when it is not going perfectly?  PS -  it never will (go perfectly, that it is).  If you don't already, learn to love it and give thanks for it.  Embrace the costume moments.  And I promise you – it WILL jive.

 

I AM FLAWED. NOW PASS THE BUTTER.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

I am flawed.  On the inside and on-the-out.  And not just for me - but for women everywhere since the dawn of time - weight loss has been one of those flaws.  Well, I'm not sure weight LOSS is the struggle so much as weight GAIN. And loss.  And gain.

This is something I have struggled with my entire life.  Even when I was in high school and built like a brick poop-house and had the tiniest little waist, I had those thunder thighs.  And believe me, I know I did because those 'helpful peers' in school would tell me so.  "Hey, Thunder Thighs!  Where'd ya get those thunder thighs??"  Clever.  Very clever.

When I got pregnant with Chelsea, the time bomb kept ticking.  I gained 120 pounds.  I literally gained an entire person in nine months.  And I don't mean the 7-pound little person I was carrying.  And I had 'those' family members that liked to have fun at my expense and thought nothing of bestowing upon me my new nickname, Eclipse.  Nine months later, I got pregnant with Cameron and the weight gain continued, as did the new (and oh-so-funny) nicknames.

And let us not forget the people that dubbed me the Butter Body.  What's that, you ask?  Well you've heard of a butter face?  Where they say everything looks good on her but-her-face?  I was the opposite.  The people (I know you meant well, Y'all) who said, "You have such a pretty FACE!"  Which meant everything else was either not note-worthy, or it would be a shame to mention.  But-her-body.  Get it?

I am in the present.  I have since lost the weight, and it took hard work.  And it continues to be a struggle on a daily basis.  But so much of it (besides the eating right and exercise, obviously!) is about the heart of the story.  It is about living healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Those people that called me names, whether it was all in good fun, out of mean-ness, or their own insecurities; those people had no idea that no one is exempt from allowing that to define a person, and it indeed worked on me and made me unhealthy - on the inside and on-the-out - for a very long time.

I am in my 40s.  And I LOVE IT.  There is abundant power in the age that allows you to feel your sexiest, even though your body is not the same; or feel your best, even though you're so much older.  But it is not all about the age of wisdom and experience that has helped me learn to love and respect who I was, who I am and who I have become.  

I am a woman of faith.  There is a quiet and serene humbling that happens as you grow and develop in the life of having the Creator lead you that allows you to understand all are created, and a very large respect happens for all bodies that house the souls that are people - no matter what they look like.  You have more of a respect for the wrinkles and lines in a person's face that are proof that none of us are immune to life-and-death.  You have more of a respect for scars on a person that are proof of the battles they have fought.  You have more of a respect for every body-type that are proof that we are all different, yet created equal.  But it is not all about the strong foundation of faith I have that has helped me to learn to love and respect who I was, who I am,  and who I have become.

I have a husband.  He is also my friend.  And he is also at that age of wisdom and experience, and is also a person of faith, and continues to grow and develop in that.  And he loves me.  For who I've been, who I am, and who I have YET to become.  On the inside and on-the-out.

Example:  I am washing dishes.  The Hubster comes up behind me and grabs me around my mid-section playfully.  I, being coy (and a bit embarrassed about my mid-section, if we're being honest), say, "Hey!  Don't grab my rolls!"  And his retort?  He closes his eyes like he is picturing a smooth whiskey with a nice cigar, or a juicy steak wrapped in bacon, and says, "Mmmmmm.  Get me some BUTTER for dem rolls!"  I guess that makes me a Butter Body FOR REAL. 

I am grateful.  I am blessed to have that kind of love and friendship, and I allow it to have power over me and give me confidence.  He calls me beautiful every day, whether I've got my eyebrows and lips on, or if my hair is in a knot and I'm bra-less and in my loungy pants for the second day in a row.  And he knows I'm flawed on the inside and on-the-out.  And he doesn't care.  He loves me.  He lifts me up, edifies me, and encourages me.  He celebrates me.  

So who are you surrounding yourself with and what kind of power do you allow them to have over you?  Who do you allow to be relevant in your life?  Are you judging people for their outsides, yet never wanting to be judged for your own outsides?  Or do you allow yourself to see people as beautiful; flaws and all?  

Lift up, edify, and encourage people.  Celebrate them.  Celebrate you.  On the inside and on-the-out.  Do your best to live healthy in mind, body, and spirit - and pass that around.

And do me a favor:  PASS THE BUTTER.

Designed: A Guest Blog

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through The Durham Family

Please do not copy this photo - all rights (reservedly) reserved through The Durham Family

Well, this month's Guest Blogger is very special to me.  You can rest assured you're in for something wonderful when you read her words.  She will tell you where to find her other work in the post, but I like that I can find her by my side whenever I need her.  Carly Durham is a woman of rare quality and substance and I admire and adore her.  You can look for a large dedication to her in my upcoming book - and an even larger one in my heart of hearts.  Love you, Car.  Readers:  READ ON.

Writing a guest blog for a woman who I consider to be nailing it when it comes to being a woman who can do it all (which she herself admits, she does not and we do not have to do it all- be it all, she just wants to encourage us to do what we do overflowing with passion and love) surprisingly brought up some shoved away insecurities.  I guest blog from time to time for random internet blog buddies and write occasionally over at adoption.com but a post for Life-As-She-Does-It felt daunting. And then she had to go and get the witty Katy Livingston to go first, leaving me the follow up post. I stand little chance. It’s like signing up for a meal train to bring my store-bought chicken or grilled cheese sandwiches the night after your foodie friend has listed she is making lambs with chimi-churi sauce and homemade buttered-pecan ice-cream. The "look-ahead" is a real technique to make sure you are not setting up your people for disappointment. Now here I offer you my boxed mac n’cheese with added hotdogs weenies after you just ate homemade beef bourguignon.  Go ahead a lower your expectations my people. 

While I no longer fear that I will be childless, my lack of fertility is a theme that runs deep in my life.  Insecurity attached to infertility molds my thoughts and shapes my worldview.
What does it say about me? About God? About who I am suppose to be?
Honestly, I give it way to much power. Why do I let it take root so deeply?
Here is where we are at: We have never stopped trying. Really, how can I stop? After 5 years of charting, peeing, calculating, I know this stuff down cold and am constantly aware of where I am at in my cycle. Woman was created to bear children. Go forth and multiply. Labor and Birth.
What does that say about me that I do not join my fellow woman in this path?
In a moment of doubt and insecurity, I sought counsel and comfort in a friend after a month of disappointment and grief.

"It's not so much that I ache for pregnancy so much anymore, I just feel flawed to my very core.  My body….. It's just I……… How come I don't do what I was designed to do! I hate my ovaries. UGH!"

Speaking TRUTH over me, she replied:

"I hear you what you are saying, on a whole, as a woman, what you feel women were designed to do. BUT YOU. YOU.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made and designed. There is great purpose in that."

Designed.

Can I hold on to that promise? Can I uproot the belief that I am failing in my "role" as a woman and rather plant the conviction that I was designed? That I was indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13).

And further, when I question this truth, what am I saying about God?

Then I really dig in a little more, when I question this truth, what am I saying about my uniquely designed son?

I firmly believe he is fearfully and wonderfully made with this incredible extra chromosome. I would not for one-second question his design. Every inch! Every chromosome! (ohhh goodness- have you heard that he is the cutest baby in the world - because word is spreading fast!!!)

Designed.


Thankfully, God, He is not afraid of the dark places my doubts and insecurities take me sometimes and He finds me there. 

He would also be pretty cool about it if you wanted him to go ahead and shine some light on your dark places of doubt and disbelief if you want to ask him. Because while we cannot all rock turbans on hair and giant rings on our fingers like She does, we all have been designed to rock our own unique self.  Sometimes we start to doubt that.

Life-As-She-Does-It friends, you are women so unique. If you stumbled here to read about a legit recipe to prepare with hopes to razzle-dazzle your people for a meal train, or you have come seeking encouragement on how to make the magnificent mundane, know that life as You do it has great purpose and significance. Perhaps you are fashioned to be the mom that wears yoga pants every day and puts on make-up once a year for your husbands work Christmas party but you read books to your kids in the best character voices and make a slammin-good lasagna. Or maybe you are the woman who does not leave the house without her lashes on and lips drawn, who started her own business and is not looking to start a family as she is diving into the calling God put on her heart. Either way. Every way.
 
Designed.

Own it. You are a created woman. You've nailed it.

If You Build It, They Will Come

*Photo credit  HERE

*Photo credit HERE

Lord knows (as do I) - I haven't always made good decisions.  Or right decisions.  Or righteous decisions.  In fact, looking back I would venture to say a lot of the decisions I've made were quite the opposite.  I would venture to say it took me a long time to understand what learning from my mistakes meant.  I say that because perhaps I made the same mistake more than once.  Or twice.  Or more than twice.

Don't get me wrong.  I mean, I've definitely done some good things in my life.  Take a look at my children and you will know that's true.  (I do good work, Y'all.)  But the lovely and well-grounded human beings they have become came through trial-and-error, not through making all the right decisions.

What I have learned over the course of my life - whether good or bad decisions were made - is the power of the legacy you build.  The very children I speak of are positive proof of that.  And so are their spouses.  

"What do you mean by that, She?"  "How could you possibly have had anything to do with the people your children married?"  I'm glad you asked those questions!

When my children were small, I never knew the power of a praying parent.  I did all the things to take care of them physically: I brushed their teeth, helped them with their homework, bathed them, fed them, put giant helicopter bows in their hair.  (Well, not the boys.  Well, sometimes the boys.  But just for fun - perhaps that can go into the bad decision pile.)

Thinking about how fantastic my son-in-law and daughter-in-law are obviously makes me grateful for their parents - because just like me, right or wrong they did their best - and it happened to work!  But for me, personally, I now know it's about building your legacy; building an example, building tradition.  Children THRIVE on it.  They watch you.  Ohhhhh BOY, do they watch you!  And they remember EVERYTHING.  And they carry on traditions.  And they really don't want to disappoint you as parents.  (Even if you're not a parent, you're someone's child, and you know exactly what I mean.  And even if you are not close with your parents, you STILL know what I mean through that loss.)

By the time I learned the value of building these things and building my children up in prayer, I thought it may be too late.  But it wasn't.  I got started immediately after I came to realize that something like praying for your child's spouse, even when they are young and long before their True Loves come along, is valuable to the legacy they themselves build as they grow - and also who they choose to do life with.

I learned that if you build it, they will come.

I know, I know.  There are some of you that just can't believe that building prayer up for your children in their lives is truth; that it's worth the effort.  There are some of you that are believers but still don't understand you can be building your legacy and that of your child's through every decision you make and the consequences that stem from them.  There are also some of you that simply think I stole this idea from an old (but classic and awesome) baseball (and legacy!) movie and I'm just crazy.  But I have proof.  I believed it.  I built it.  AND THEY CAME.  And they have been beautifully built into our family and our traditions and our prayers as well!

Do I want to choke my kids out sometimes to this day?  YOU BET.  Do I know they sometimes imagine doing the same to Adrian and me?  Uhhhhh, YES.  Is life easier now?  No.  Can I go back and undo the poor decisions?  Nope.  But I can find joy in just about anything now.  And I can look upon my children and their (hand-picked, prayed-for) spouses with a grateful heart.  And I know that life is good, even when it isn't.  

And I know that if you build it, they WILL come.  It's never too late to get started.  

So?  BUILD IT.

“The past is a pebble in my shoe.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe  (Past failures remind us of the importance of the choices we make today.)

"Outlive your life!" ~ Max Lucado

"The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance" ~Proverbs 1:1-33