What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly healthy or unhealthy person. Just middle of the road, good days and bad days. My upbringing, body type, and temperament keep me fairly moderated in this culture of excess. Then I married a guy with a gluten intolerance. That kind of changes the way you think about food and health. When it causes migraines, aches and fatigue, and can be found in so many foods, food becomes the enemy. Health becomes a conscious choice and struggle instead of a natural byproduct of life.

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The thing I am always learning, the choice I always have to make is to listen to my body, and by the nature of marriage, my husband’s as well. Healthy choices mean different things for different people. My husband is very thin, gluten intolerant, gets sick when he doesn’t sleep enough, and introverted. That means I feed him protein and good fats whenever I can, weigh the risk of buying foods that may or may not be exposed to gluten, try not to stay out late with friends so he gets sleep, and help him say no to some social engagements so he doesn’t get mentally drained.

I, on the other hand, try not to eat quite as much fat and protein, don’t have to worry about the foods with gluten but do have to think about lactose, and can go without sleep and spend more time with people. I am always learning that this person I married is different from me, needs different things, and that’s ok.

So healthy choices I learned in 2015 and continue to learn in 2016, because let’s face it, just because you make a choice once doesn’t mean you’ve learned it. You’ve got to make it over and over and over again for it to become something you have learned.

What I Learned About Life, Love and Health in 2015

Listen to Your Body

Your body is unique and only you know what is normal and abnormal (if you pay attention). I can eat some dairy and be ok, but I can’t eat a ton. Josh can have something with a very small amount of gluten, but he can’t eat a slice a bread. When you’re tired, go to sleep. When my body starts to feel tense and tight, I know it’s time to do yoga. When you’re thirsty, drink water. Your body knows what it needs. Listen to it.

Educate Yourself

I am always learning what Josh can and cannot eat. Food isn’t the enemy anymore because I know my enemy, gluten, not food in general. Ignorance leads us to make decisions based on superstition and whims and makes us feel like it isn’t within our control. But you can learn what it is to be healthy for you. I’ve struggled with bouts of anxiety and nausea at odd times without understanding the cause for years. Turns out my blood sugar can drop causing those symptoms and I just need to get some sugar into my system/ To avoid it happening, I have to watch when and how I eat sugar. Ask questions. Get answers. Educate yourself.

Take Breaks

I really struggle with taking breaks from work, projects, errands, anything. I’m learning to get up, take a walk, get some space and come back with a full stomach and fresh eyes. If you don’t take breaks, you burn out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Say No

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve said yes to ice cream at someone’s house because i can’t resist the temptation and don’t want to be considered rude? A million. And how many times I’ve paid for it? Every time. I finally gathered the guts this year to just to say no to ice cream. no. matter. what. This goes for so much more than food. Josh and I are always struggling how and who to say no to of all the people and activities in our lives so that we aren’t constantly exhausted. Don’t be afraid to draw boundaries. You’re worth it (and I’m preaching to myself as much as you).

Challenge Yourself

Early this year, a friend of ours challenged Josh to not eat ANY gluten for as long as he could. She promised him prizes and I joined in. We kept track for about two months and now we don’t have to anymore. He thought it would be impossible but instead he found his body felt so much better that it wasn’t really a temptation anymore. Doesn’t mean he never eats gluten, but the habit was broken. I picked up rock climbing again with some friends and we continue to challenge each other to be active. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Just remember, because you made the choice once, doesn’t mean you learned it. And just because you don’t always make the best choice doesn’t mean you aren’t learning. It’s all part of the process. Who knows what choices I’ll be making in 2016, but I will be learning. So here’s to learning how to be healthier, choice by choice in 2016!

 

Space, Thought, Time and Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about space lately. All kinds of space, but mental space especially.

Josh and I took on cleaning out his parents’ basement recently in preparation for a garage sale. You would not believe the number of VHS tapes we recycled. Or the number of times we heard from his dad about how each item is definitely going to sell, it’ll be worth a lot of money. just you wait.

space time thought

Spending a weekend in a small dingy unfinished basement full of stuff, some worth the effort, most rotting away, it’s enough to make you want to go home and throw everything you own away. Especially when you live in a small one bedroom like we do, constantly running out of space as we work on projects, have company, or just clutter the space up with everyday life. Continue reading “Space, Thought, Time and Purpose”

Pinterest: Death of the Designer

I wear a lot of hats. My creativity compels me to always be learning and figuring things out so when someone asks me, “will you,” and I say, “yes.” Even if I don’t exactly know how. It’s a challenge. I’ve gotta figure it out.

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Flower arranging happens to be one of those ‘things’. Somebody said, “will you,” and I said, “yes.” And I’ve said yes now over 20 times, including my own wedding. I absolutely love arranging flowers. I’ve always loved the outdoors but I have been obsessed with flowers ever since I studied Georgia O’Keeffe in high school. I am inexplicably drawn to the organic beauty, color and uniqueness of each bloom.

I buy books on them.

I cut them out of magazines.

I paint them.

I dry them.

I plant them.

I arrange them.

Even as a child, I would grow them for the school flower show.

I’m telling you, flowers and I, we are meant for each other.

But here’s the kicker. Arranging flowers is not like painting. I paint whatever I want to and keep showing it til someone decides to buy it. But I can’t arrange flowers whenever I want to and hope someone will buy it because they are temporal. And that’s something that I love about fresh cut flowers. Their beauty is brief, like a mist, a reminder of our own life and mortality.

So in order to feed my obsession, I am forced into a client-designer relationship with brides. A wedding is the perfect time to express all that pent up flower creativity. Except for the bride and that damn Pinterest. Pinterest kills of my creativity.

Believe it or not, I actually started arranging flowers BEFORE Pinterest. I know, crazy right? I didn’t have pictures upon pictures UPON PICTURES to tell me how to do it. I figured it out on my own. Turns out I’m pretty good at it. I’ve done it for over 20 weddings and had professional florists compliment me. But now Pinterest makes EVERYONE think they can DIY their way to a perfect wedding. I end up being told exactly what to buy and how to arrange it because every bride now has a hundred pictures of bouquets that she is in love with and wants it to look like. And my opportunity for creativity is lost.

This isn’t just happening with flowers and weddings. It is happening with all forms of creativity, every possible opportunity for the designer to express oneself. Anything and everything is now at the fingertips of anyone and everyone via the internet. So when a client approaches a designer about designing something, they already have a million ideas in their head with no room left for the creative to be creative. It leaves the designer as nothing more than a puppet in the client’s hands. Then what is the point of being creative??

I don’t design things for people because I think they have great ideas and they just need me to actually make it. No creative person does. We design things because we think we have something to offer besides our mere technical skills– our creativity. We all live for those moments when the client says, “I love your idea,” or, “you communicated that a lot better than I ever could.” So give us the chance. Here’s a tip: the next time you are paying someone to design something for you, whether it be a logo, a website, your house, or a bouquet, don’t look on Pinterest before you hear and see what the designer has to offer. You might just be surprised. And your designer will be very grateful.

How to Build Positive Relationships

I’m sitting on an airplane, drinking a gin and tonic, contemplating what makes for a healthy relationship. My husband, whiskey in hand, looks over my shoulder, raises his glass and chimes in with, “lying, sarcasm and alcohol. You’re welcome.” You wouldn’t know it by his suggestions, but he is actually pretty good at relationships.

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There are a million and one things to read on healthy relationships – so many so that contributing without being trite or formulaic is a struggle. We’re in relationships with people every day. From our coworkers and neighbors to our family and friends – everyone we encounter on a consistent basis. Everyone is different; what works for some does not work for others. All too often, we know what we don’t want in relationships with friends and family because we recognize what unhealthy looks like, especially in relationships outside our own. Unfortunately, too often in our own lives, even if we know we are practicing unhealthy relationships (which a lot of times we aren’t even aware), we don’t know how to do otherwise. Continue reading “How to Build Positive Relationships”

Let’s Be Free

Money, money, money.

We need it to survive. Everyone always wants more of it. As many lives are destroyed by it as those that are saved. It is the root of all kinds of evil and yet, can do enormous amounts of good too. We try to control it and yet, all too often it ends up controlling us no matter how little or much we have. We love it and we hate it.

So what does a healthy relationship with money look like? Cutting up credit cards, budgeting and getting rid of debt are great places to start. But I think those only get rid of the symptoms. They don’t cure the heart.

My parents are a great example of this. They are absolutely exemplary with their finances. My mother is an accountant, how could she not be? They’ve always bought used cars paid in cash, paid off their mortgage in less than half the time, and even stopped using ATMs because they weren’t able to track their spending as well. They gave faithfully to our church and lived well within their means. Because of this I have always been very conscious of the value and power of money.

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Source

My favorite story is that of my freshman year of college. My parents managed to pay my full year of college tuition and my sister’s full year of private high school education without having to use their savings. How crazy is that? To say my mother was frugal would be an understatement.

Despite their best efforts though, they’ve still lost money on bad investments, had to sell a house and buy a condo in the economic downturn and I’m sure other things I have been sheltered from knowing. My mother, in particular, can be incredibly hard on herself for these things, because you see, even though she followed all the rules money still controlled her. She was enslaved to it despite her best efforts to master it. Her heart hadn’t changed and she definitely wasn’t free.

But recently I’ve noticed in her comments a change of tone. She’s learning to see how her treatment of money was only a symptom of her need to control. She’s learning to let go.

I use her as an example because she is the exact opposite of most Americans financially. Her contrast shows the root of the issue instead of just the symptoms. Yes, our society is based on consumerism and many Americans live with out-of-control debt. Yes, people often don’t know how to handle their money and live within their means. But I think even those who do control it and handle it well need to acknowledge the obsession we make of it here in America. We can teach how to budget and pay off debt, but we don’t know how to teach contentment despite all of our abundance. And we definitely don’t know how to live free of money’s control.

We are in bondage to our cash. I’ve seen this most clearly when I’ve travelled to places like China and Uganda. They live with so much less and yet are so much more content. Our love of money breeds discontent, strife, competition, and greed. Until we address the complex relationships we have with our money whether we have a lot or a little, we will never be free. We must realize whether we ignore our finances irresponsibly or control them down to the last penny, that cash is but a means to an end. It cannot cure-all our ills, save us from death, or make us happy. It can only pay the bills. But pay the bills we must.

So the next time you’re bemoaning your budget, contemplating a spending spree, planning your retirement fund or struggling to pay off a loan, ask yourself what am I trying to accomplish in this? What’s my motivation? Address the fears or discontent. Acknowledge the unknowns. Put money in its place! Let go of the obsession and break those bonds of slavery. Let’s be free.

Class of 2008

As a graduate in the middle of the Great Recession with a graphic design and fine art degree, my experience of the job market and career opportunities is greatly skewed. I didn’t fully realize this until my interview for the job I currently have. It went something like this:

The owner of the company, now my boss, takes the samples I’ve brought to show my design ability (mostly my wedding invitations, programs, save the dates, etc), looks at them for maybe 20 seconds and says, “Why haven’t you been doing this (meaning graphic design) all along?”

Deep sigh, “Well I graduated in 2008…”

“Ah, that explains it.”

It was not until this statement was spoken into my life that I realized how frustrated I was as an artist and a young professional. I was stunned and grateful.

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Source

To say I was a good student in school would be an understatement. Overachiever would be more appropriate. But when I graduated, I couldn’t even get a job at a coffee shop, let alone a job in my field. And I had coffee shop experience! This was not the world I was expecting. I was told from kindergarten on that if you work hard, do your best in school and graduate from college, you’ll get a good job. I wasn’t expecting a design job, but I was expecting to at least be able to pay my bills. Little did I know the world had drastically shifted. Continue reading “Class of 2008”

The Oppression Inside of Me

I collect experiences, my own and others. My worldview is an infinite puzzle, built piece by piece from my collection of experiences, the good, the bad, the ugly. Some pieces are big, some small. Some have to be moved to the edge to make space for more pressing, present issues, but none are forgotten. Old ones may change in shape and color. It all depends on what else they surrounds them. The last few weeks’ experiences layered upon the last few years have painted a picture I just have to share.

It began over a month ago, sitting around a friend’s dining room table, sharing a meal and honest conversation. She spoke candidly Continue reading “The Oppression Inside of Me”

I’m a Walking Contradiction

I have this problem. I am a walking contradiction. My personality type is INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging). That means I am a control freak and an artist. I am incredibly systematic and yet, I lose my cell phone on a regular basis. I thrive on bringing order out of chaos, yet rely heavily on my intuition without concrete reason. And I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. It makes me an unlikely, but I believe successful manager. At least for other people.

Being You

Friday was the day of great revelries with costumes, candies, and corpses. The one day of the year when you are allowed to be what you are not. Or is it?

husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony
Husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony

In today’s society of electronic media and online social networking, we can be whomever we want to be at any time. Everyone has the tools to be a celebrity – perfect selfies, enlightening foodie shots, posting statuses perfectly crafted to make every moment as dramatic as possible. That is what people see. That is what we want people to see. But it isn’t everything. Continue reading “Being You”

Giving Hope another Fly

I started a new job recently, abandoning a hard-earned dream that someone else owned. I picked up one abandoned long ago. Dusty, faint and never fully realized. Like pulling your fall sweater from the depths of your closet where you threw it in celebration of spring. The sweater feels a bit like a long-lost friend, a hope you had forgotten. 

Building your dream through someone else’s money does a funny thing to you. It splits you in two. One part working his ass off to build this picture inside your head. The other part kicking and screaming, “it’ll never be yours, so why do you care?” The struggle between the two was exhausting. Creating my vision in someone else’s head, well, it killed me.

Survival of the business far more pressing than my own, the division snuck up on me. It came gently, drowned out by the immediacy of the daily tasks at hand. My visions, my hopes were always getting trampled in confusion and muddled with coffee. My heart was being pulled in two very different directions. My vision conflicting with money. My reasonableness conflicting with ideals. Til one day I woke up and my heart was on the floor, clean ripped in two. Hope totally rung out to dry. 

So I laid that dream to bed, leaving no regrets. Thankful for the opportunity to try and I am very glad to have been forged in the fire. Stitching my heart back together, rediscovering pleasures I’d lost time to enjoy. Giving hope another fly. Who knows if this dream, long forgotten in the back of the closet will prove any better than the last. But I’m a dreamer, a painter, a vision maker and I know no other way to live. So I’ll lay my heart on the line and bend my back to the plow at least one more time, not knowing what lies at the finish line. For who really does? But by God I will not give up trying. To cease trying is true death from which one does not rise.

NeverStopDreaming

For we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

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