The Story of the Green Cast

Once upon a time there was a young (yep, I said young…stop snickering) woman who loved to ride her bike. Actually she loved to be outside, period. She ran outside, worked in the yard, hung out in the pool, took her dog for walks, and planted flowers. A sun bunny to the max (with sunscreen and a hat, of course). This woman enjoyed being active, getting stuff done, and marking tasks off her to-do list. She walked fast, talked fast, drove fast, made decisions fast…I’m sure you get it. The bruises on her shins made the point clear that moving quickly was a priority over moving carefully.

While enjoying her bike ride one beautiful morning in May a battle between bike and sidewalk ensued with the sidewalk emerging as the clear winner. After checking to ensure her teeth were in their appropriate spots and holding pressure on her busted lip, she was able to ride home. I’ll clear a couple of things up right off the bat for you: No she was not on a mountain. No there was not a mountain lion chasing her. No she was not rushing to perform CPR on a choking child. She was just moving…fast. Bicycle fail. User error. #nooneelsetoblame

IMG_2187Cue green cast. After three rounds of negative x-rays and no perceived improvement of left wrist, the MRI finally showed the fractured wrist bones. A crack so hard to see had gotten this fast girl a place on the bench.  As the cast was applied, the reality of the doctor’s words pierced my heart, “expect a 3 month recovery”.  “Expect a 3 month recovery”.  He repeated it at least three times, my face must have shown my disbelief.  I’d love to say my attitude was great from the start. I wish I could report a positive mindset and trust in God to use this time to produce good things in my life, but I’d be lying. Instead, I stewed, felt guilty, denied my situation, and stomped my feet around a bit. I pouted and stressed. I felt anxious and disappointed. I felt bored and useless. I felt stupid. I felt sad. For a couple of weeks, not hours.

My response to the situation led to some introspection that was overdue. God didn’t judge me or tell me I was stupid for having an accident, and He didn’t want me to dwell on those emotions. He didn’t get frustrated with my pouting and struggling as I tried to resolve the feelings I was experiencing on my own, He was just there. I love God. He is my Father. I am a long time committed follower of Jesus who enjoys a precious, personal, and saving relationship with Him. I knew He was there, I just wasn’t ready to sit still with just Him. But He didn’t leave. Mentally I really struggled with being still, not accomplishing. I wanted to “do”. I would wake up and think, “What am I going to do today?” “What can I accomplish today?” “How can I fill this time?” I was a broken record. I knew I needed to be still with God, but I had forgotten how. It sounds simple, but just stopping and physically sitting still does not necessarily mean that you are emotionally or mentally still…do you get what I’m saying? Being truly still and receptive to His voice is a discipline that I had allowed to fade away.

It has taken several weeks, but I am getting the hang of it. The perks include peace, joy, and rest. Nice replacements for stress, guilt, and anxiety! As I stopped talking and trying to “do” the right thing, I was able to listen. I was surprised to realize the focus of my life had become my two-day a week nursing position. Two 12-hour shifts had become king. Not having them created a void that shocked and dumb-founded me, I was used to having 5 days off every week, why was this such a jolt? I didn’t think I was defining my life by my job until my job wasn’t part of the equation anymore. My job provided my purpose, my social outlet, my mental challenge, and my excuse to be a hermit when I wasn’t at work. My job is a blessing and I realize that so much more now than ever before! I miss my job, my friends, and my patients, but I needed to get my priorities back their appropriate places in order to serve them best. I am grateful for my broken wrist. Not because it is so fun to wear a cast in June in AZ, but because I am excited about this time to reset my daily living. Work will be a part of my life, not the hub. Christ is the center, the cornerstone of my foundation. When I tried to put other things there, I felt the instability and relationships suffered. God didn’t push me off my bike, as much as I’d like to blame someone other than admit my own error. But He creates beauty out of every situation I give to him, He promises to do that for all His kids. “For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

If we set our pace by the world around us, we are not encouraged to be still or quiet. Rather, a hectic schedule and fast pace is equated with success and importance. Technology reigns and connects us to devices rather than people. It is so easy to get lost in the tasks and the “doing” and slip into auto-pilot mode. That lonely, empty place where we just function without much thought. A healthy lifestyle involves creating space for inactivity and rest. We all need space in our days to unplug and slow our roll. It has to be intentional or it won’t happen. We need time to process emotions and events in our lives. We need a time to slow our pace and hear about the people we share life with. We need to slow down to take care of ourselves and model this practice in front our kids. It is hard to carry on a conversation while you are sprinting…you know?

Here are some things I’ve been reminded of as I’ve been re-kindling my relationship with God and learning to be thankful for stillness and quiet. Be sill for just a moment and consider these thoughts:

  • We benefit from coming to grips with enjoying free time and not feeling guilty. We need hobbies and ways to unplug and decompress, they are not a waste of time.
  • We are not as important as we think we are. (Surprisingly, the staff at work continues to function even when I’m not able to be there…crazy, right?)
  • We can relax and learn when we stop taking ourselves so seriously.
  • Perfection is not the goal…pursuing it is a waste of time and energy. Choose to pursue realistic goals.
  • Relationships are what life is about. Accomplishing tasks, mastering skills, making money…all good things, but relationships are most important. Relationships require a time investment and a mental presence to grow.
  • A solid foundation is critical for resilience. A reset is possible when our foundation is solid. Pursuing a lifestyle that promotes mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health is a great place to begin.
  • We are going to fall. Getting up is optional. Get up.

Movement is a Gift

“Verbing”

Here is a quick activity to prepare you to read this post. Read through this list of verbs picturing a 3-year old child doing each one: jump, run, skip, hop, walk, crawl, bend, sway, swing, shake, twist, gallop, leap, roll, twirl, kick, tip-toe, stamp, grab, punch, pull, push, wiggle, catch, throw, dig, wave, climb, shuffle, creep, march, turn, dive, skate, dance, jog, and stomp.

As I did this exercise myself, by the end of the list I was giggling. I especially like wiggle and creep.  Little kids are so adorable and watching them move in almost any way is cute.

We were created to move. Expectant moms celebrate the movement of their children before they are even born. As babies develop into toddlers, movement is eagerly anticipated and even documented in baby books: first time to roll-over, crawling, pulling up on furniture, first step…and on and on. Movement is miraculous and wonderful. It is awe-inspiring to consider all that occurs, beginning from the cellular level and spreading throughout our body systems, just for us to be able to get up to answer the door!

jumpropeMovement, then, should not be taken for granted! We want to do all we can to protect this ability, strengthen our bodies, and live life to the fullest…right? Now picture yourself doing all the verbs in the above list! When was the last time you shuffled, twirled, or galloped?

Re-framing Exercise

I love and am inspired by hearing about all the various types of physical activity that you guys are involved in! Hiking, half-marathons, boot camps, walks for charities, running, biking, weight lifting, cross-fit…I could go on and on. So wonderful! If you are regularly out there making it happen just take a moment and tell yourself “good job, self!” You are celebrating your ability to move and giving yourself a much better shot at being able to keep moving!

It takes a lot of determination and lifestyle changing to create a dedicated work-out routine. If you are watching from the side-lines and wish you could get a routine going, it is time to make it happen! Every person that regularly works out, at some point had to start and then keep going.

Re-framing exercise in our minds can motivate us to get started or continue to challenge ourselves. Our perspective holds a lot of power. For instance, when I don’t feel like exercising, I think of someone that can’t. We all know of people that struggle with chronic pain or other health issues that limit their mobility. We know of those with acute disease processes or medical treatments that make physical exertion impossible. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but it is important to think about how blessed we are to be able to move around!

Over the past 3 years my Dad has gone through two back surgeries in an effort to alleviate intense and chronic back and leg pain and weakness. It has been a difficult journey for him physically but also emotionally and mentally. Traveling this road with him has changed my perspective on the ability to move and exercise. During this time, if I didn’t feel like running one day, I would do it for my dad. While I ran, I’d pray for him and text him when I got home to tell him “we” had been for a run. When I hurt and ache from exercise, I am motivated to stretch and keep working so that those aches don’t become debilitating. Yes, I want to look good, but my perspective has shifted away from that desire to a more big-picture point of view. Being healthy, fit, and strong are my goals for whatever circumstance I may find myself in.

Maybe you need to re-frame your views of exercise. If you make it a “should” it can cause you to feel pressure and that can give birth to rebellion. If you put unrealistic expectations on yourself, they can be discouraging and lead to destructive behaviors. Instead of looking at someone else and wishing you were them, create the life you want. My dad is back on the tennis courts 3 times a week now. He and my mom are working out at a gym a couple times a week. I am so very proud of them! He still has a lot of pain, but he has re-framed his attitude about exercise and decided what kind of life he wants! He is making forward strides in improving his mobility and decreasing his need for pain medication. He is being active with my mom which is an important show of commitment to her and a time of bonding for them.

Exercise is not just a “should”. Being able to be physically active is a gift. A gift that comes with a lot of perks: better sleep, improved memory, cognitive sharpness, stress relief, increased self-confidence, better time management, higher productivity, improved mood, reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure,  & stroke! On top of all that: strong muscles, endurance, less fat, and less stress on our joints and spine. Feel better, play hard, get moving. I think a big twirl and some marching might just be in order.

Pace Yourselves for Peace

AuntJodi

Are You Missing Today?

We live in an environment of pushing forward, making gains, striving for perfection, hectic schedules, and getting ahead. Just where are we trying to go? And, will it be worth the sacrifices we are making today trying to get there?  These are questions worth answering.

Goals are wonderful and important. Looking forward to a vacation adds the freshness of anticipation to our lives. But, do we really live the day we are in or are we just going through the motions determined to arrive at some destination in time that we have deemed is worthy of enjoying?

What are you waiting for, striving for, or pushing towards so that you can enjoy your life? A number on the scale so you can finally feel good about yourself? A trip that is going to be the best time of your life? A relationship that will save you from loneliness? A job that will prove that you are acceptable? Unrealistic expectations can rob you of the enjoyment of life around you today.

Today is a chance to enjoy the small things that only today will bring. Moments that will never come again. Opportunities to learn and share and grow that we miss if we are only focused on where we are going instead of where we are. All the rushing creates tension, stress, and loss of focus which over time dulls our senses to the wonderful things about today.

Pacing

Having a mindset that promotes wellness includes learning how to pace ourselves. Words like balance, mindfulness, and time management all describe part of what I’m talking about. These are ways of living that take time and practice to embrace and live consistently. The beginning of this process is learning to pace. When we pace, we take life in smaller portions so that we aren’t overwhelmed. The best place to begin is to focus on just taking one day at a time. Something that sounds so simple is deceptively difficult.

Sometimes I think about this when I’m feeding a premature baby in the nursery at work that is struggling to learn how to eat. We have to pace them, slow the flow and give them time to breathe so that they don’t choke because they don’t do it for themselves. Over time they learn how to suck, swallow, and breath and to be able to take the whole feeding without wearing themselves out…but it is a process. This analogy seems to correlate pretty well with what we need to do for ourselves so that we don’t “choke”. Life can come at us pretty fast sometimes, like trying to drink water out of a fire hose. So let’s talk about pacing in an environment that seems out of our control; what can we do?

There are things in your life you can control and things that you cannot. Begin by understanding which ones are which and accepting that. Pacing involves laying aside emotions that are not helpful, but rather tiresome and distracting, to lighten our load. No need to carry around extra baggage, dump it and you have one less thing to juggle.

When we face times that include immovable circumstances, we can help ourselves by pacing in other areas of our lives so that we have the energy and strength to handle what we cannot change. For instance, if you are tapped out after your twelve-hour shift, don’t promise your kids that you’ll make them homemade pasta when you get home! Pace yourself by setting realistic expectations for yourself. A lot of good times can happen over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grapes that won’t happen if you are stressed trying to pull off unrealistic feats.

Pacing requires you to understand what you value and what your priorities are. You can’t know what to eliminate if you don’t know what is essential. To go back to the baby analogy, the priorities for the infant are to reduce calorie expenditure so that energy is reserved for feeding. This helps them to gain weight and go home with their families. Because of our experience, we understand that passing the baby around between family members, giving it a bath, and then changing its clothes three times for pictures right before feeding time does not fit with the needs of the infant. However, how many times do we sabotage ourselves and prolong difficult circumstances in our lives because we do not do what is needed to meet our own needs? Pacing means understanding your needs and protecting them, valuing your own sanity and health enough to set boundaries in other areas of your life. Constantly putting everyone else in front of your own needs is not heroic, it is destructive. Give others the gift only you can give by being your best self, you are the only one that can do that.

Lessons from Jury Duty

The Big PictureAuntJodi

Over and over I chant that a healthy lifestyle is about so much more than just diet and exercise. It is so much more than just maintaining a healthy weight or logging in time with a heartrate above 150. A healthy lifestyle includes healthy habits in every area of your life: mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Sometimes life is insane and there is no time to go to the gym…maybe that is your reality. Sometimes physical ailments or conditions limit your diet or your ability to lose weight. Sometimes your circumstances make stress inevitable and emotionally you are wrung out.

This is life and we all understand!

But this is why a healthy lifestyle is so important.

When you zoom out and take in the big picture of your life, you need to know what you are standing on when everything else is crumbles. What is your foundation? For me, my personal relationship with Christ is first and my healthy lifestyle that is a scaffolding of healthy coping skills, solid and trustworthy relationships, and physical endurance and stamina are the second line of defense.  It takes time and effort to build a solid defense! Zoom out on your life for a moment…how’s your line of defense looking? Are there areas that need support and attention?  Today is the day to begin!

What I learned from Jury Duty

I usually wait until I get inspired to write a blog. Inspiration was not coming and I was tired and struggling to feel qualified to discuss healthy living! But then yesterday inspiration came in a form I did not expect…jury duty.

For me, situations that are unfamiliar are uncomfortable and stressful. So, I attempted to help myself in every way that I could to relax: prayer, packed snacks, detailed driving instructions and plenty of time, and a good night’s sleep. So off I went. Bumper to bumper traffic for 60 minutes is not a fun way to begin a day…just saying. *perspective* I arrived at 9 am, checked in as a prospective juror and began what I thought would be a day filled with reading and waiting to be released. After viewing 40 minutes of required videos about our legal system and all the moving pieces, *perspective* I settled in…only to be called in the very first group to the staging area. 60 of us were herded like cattle through many winding hallways and elevators leading to more hallways. Instructions were rapid and hard to hear with “don’t” being a repetitive theme. Then we waited. Standing in single file, numerical order lines, we waited. I was #30. People of all different ages, races, socioeconomic levels, and physical ability waiting obediently to find out if we would be assigned to the jury for a trial we now knew would be 6-7 days! *perspective* To make a long story short, hours and hours went by in a small court room listening to people’s lives and situations as the jury selection process unfolded. All the while watching the defendant, and the group of lawyers examine each one of us and take notes if we spoke. *perspective* I finally was dismissed at 5:15pm, understanding that a large group of jurors were required to return the next day to complete the process. *perspective* Upon exiting the shuttle that took me back to the parking garage and finding my car, I began the trek home…you guessed it, bumper to bumper traffic for 60 minutes (in my car that is a clutch no less). Arriving at 6:30 pm the couch and quiet were welcome friends!

So, what inspiration came from all of that?  Perspective is important and needs to continually be challenged. We tend to get so involved in our own lives that we neglect to consider that other people have very different lives. But how is this related to healthy living? Well, attitude is a big player in how we deal with stress and how we respond to our circumstances. Pity parties and victim mentalities are destructive and paralyzing. Perspective is one way to ensure your attitude is appropriate, helpful, and healthy. As I stood and waiting for hours yesterday, my head pounded and my mind struggled with the idea of the potential time commitment this trial would require if I was selected. The inspiration came as I evaluated my own life with new perspective. As I type, there are people in the court room again today and there will be tomorrow too. Each life impacted by what is required to keep our justice system as fair as possible. Each judge, lawyer, clerk, security guard, and janitor working to promote the process that protects the freedoms we are blessed to enjoy. Zoom out a bit today my friends and take in the bigger picture around you. Find things to be thankful for and embrace the challenges you face with new energy and understanding. Find small things that bring you joy and hug the people you love. Challenge your perspective today…we are blessed!

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Beautiful Maui…Beautiful world

IMG_0603 (2)When we vacationed in Maui in  for our 25th wedding anniversary this Summer, it was perfect.  Perfect for us anyway!  Weather like we ordered it, no schedule or responsibilities, and plenty of time to play and relax.  I found that I didn’t actually take that many pictures, I just wanted to experience each moment to the fullest free of distractions or encumbrances.  I was completely in awe of the incredible display of beauty I could see, hear, smell, and feel.  As I looked back through the pictures I did take, I was amazed yet again at our creator.  So creative!  So detailed!  So much variety! His power and control of the universe evident from every view and every crashing wave.  Isaiah 6:3 comes to mind: “…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”(NIV)

A while ago when I was going through a difficult season the Lord reminded me that he creates beauty.  He takes nothing and creates Maui!  He takes dust and creates man/woman.  He takes brokenness and creates hearts that reflect his image and love…beauty.  Each day the sunrise proclaims the dawning of a new day with color and grandeur whether we notice or not.  There are over 325 species of hummingbirds…why?  Because He is God.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and tired, maybe trust Him today.  He can manage the universe and keep track of the number of hairs on your head at the same time.  (“…but not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it. And the very hairs on your head are numbered.” Matt. 10: 29-30 NLT)  He loves details and doesn’t ever get weary.

Enjoy the pictures, breathe deeply and relax.  Take good care of yourselves peeps!

IMG_0546 (2) IMG_0552 IMG_0572 IMG_0583 (2) IMG_0595 IMG_0611 IMG_0612 (2) IMG_0613 IMG_0615 IMG_0616 IMG_0640 (2)

I’d like to introduce…Quiet

flowers  Today I am blessed with an extra day.  How did that happen?  Not needed at work and put on-call, I now have time at home that was not expected.  An “extra  day”.  After I got the call, I laid in bed and was thankful to the Lord.  The past two weeks have been very busy and stressful and I gladly welcome unexpected  time to be quiet and at home.  My mind started to form a to-do list and organize all the tasks I could now accomplish…clean bathrooms, mop, dust, bathe the  dog…you know super fun stuff.  Then the voice  in my heart stopped me.  Quiet is what I told God I needed.  Quiet and time to be still is what I prayed for.  Time to recover physically and emotionally from the stress of the past couple weeks.  I faced a choice: carry on with the whole to-do list, task-oriented plan or accept the gift of refreshment from the Lord that came packaged in time to be still and quiet.

 “Be still and know that I am God”.  Psalms 46:10

Perhaps that seems ridiculous to you.  Maybe you are not familiar with the idea of a quiet day at home.  Maybe your life is crazy every waking moment.  Maybe you feel like you only can react and put out fires all day long. Maybe you believe that you don’t have time to plan or make choices.  Maybe the idea of having time without tasks frightens you.  Maybe you aren’t so good with “quiet”; maybe it makes you uncomfortable.  I can relate to all of those things.  This life can get packed full and be really hard.

So, let me introduce you to being still and quiet.  It isn’t so much about physically not moving as it is about mental quietness and environmental calm.  I am making choices today that provide my mind and spirit with rest and calm.  It isn’t about being lazy, it is about being intentional.  It isn’t about being irresponsible, it is about being present with each activity and doing one thing at a time.  It is about taking care of myself and doing what I know I need instead of just surviving the day.  It certainly isn’t about some new age thing or finding power within myself, it is about being in tune with my creator and leaning into his loving care.

Being outside is one way I still my mind and heart.  As I look around and see all that has been created without my input or control (or yours I might add) it is a great reminder that I am a small part of a huge story!  That brings peace and perspective. I began today by buying and planting flowers in my flower bed.  As I placed each one in the dirt, I was sure to notice the sunshine on my skin and the cool breeze.  God had brought another day without any help from me…and he wanted me to just enjoy it.   When we make decisions and face emotions from a quiet and still heart clarity and healing can come.  The enemy wants us to be frazzled and bombards us with distractions.  God offers us peace and rest.

So, at this point if you are a mom to small children you would probably like to ring my neck.  You may be thinking, “Of course you can have quiet and stillness, your kids are in college!” Here’s what I want you to hear.  Just as you can have mental unrest and chaos even if you have nothing on your to-do list; you can have a quiet and still mind and heart even when the day is busy.  I’ve experienced many a day off that was riddled with anxiety and unrest because my mind was not quiet.  Maybe you don’t have time to sit and journal for 30 minutes, but you do have time to take a deep breath, slow your brain down, and thank God for your day as you brush your teeth.  Be intentional…you have time.  Instead of listening to the radio in the car on the way to school, remind your kids of a family vacation and ask them to share what their favorite memory is from the trip.  Be intentional…you have time.  It doesn’t take very long to connect, still your heart, and remember  what you priorities are and in the process.

 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalms 23:2-3

I love to write.  I process emotions and thoughts as I share them with you.  This is calming to me.  The idea that maybe one of you will be encouraged as you read thrills my heart.  That blesses me.  I have learned over the years that my entire family benefits from me taking time to be still and quiet.  My husband fiercely protects my alone time, he has learned over the years how important it is for me and for us!  I am a much better help-mate to him when I take time to be still by the “quiet waters”.  I am much better prepared to respond to challenging circumstances when I am refreshed.  I have more energy to give at work and it is easier to serve the families at the hospital when I am peaceful and rested emotionally.  These things don’t just happen, we must be intentional.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ok, here is a fun and easy dinner idea your kids will like too!  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adapted for family very easily.   Just making dinner for two?  Absolutely easy-peasy.  Someone doesn’t like onions?  Fine, their pizza doesn’t get onions.  Someone just wants cheese?  No worries, they can just have cheese.  Don’t eat meat?  Ok, no chicken for you.  Add all the vegetables you want!  You put them on a cookie sheet and cook them all at the same time, and dinner is served.   If you are in a hurry and need to eat this quick, just cut in half and fold it over to make a “pizzawich”!   Healthy food, filling and quick, hot and delish.  Pair this pizza with a big, fresh, tossed salad…win/win!

BBQ Chicken Tortilla Pizza

Ingredients: (makes one pizza)

  • 100% whole wheat tortilla (I used Mission brand, medium size)
  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. onion, diced
  • 2 oz. baked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 tsp. EVOO

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spread EVOO on one side of tortilla and place it, oil side down, on a cookie sheet
  3. Spread BBQ sauce on tortilla then top with onion, chicken, and cheese
  4. Bake for 10 min until cheese is melted and tortilla is crisp

1 pizza:  295 calories/23 grams protein/3 grams fiber

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