Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Questions to End the Year

This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year. Reflection of this sort should be all about YOU. Think of it as a self-analysis review. I’m not always successful in writing thoughts in a journal so my calendar helps greatly during this time. I am able to see what I have been doing in a quick overview. Your checkbook or budget might even give you a bit of insight as to what you have been up to! You may already have a pretty good idea as to what has taken up more time than you would have liked, and what you rather would have spent more time doing.

10 questions to help move you on your way…

Did you spend more time fighting fires?
How much time did you give to YOU?
Have you preened lately?
Did you pursue happiness?
Did you overdo-do-do it somewhere along the line?
Did you allow space for awareness?
Did you do those things you wanted to do?
Did you laugh often?
Did you give time to the people you wanted to give time to?
Are you wondering where all the time has gone?

3 thoughts to end the year on...

Instead of wasting time with television, texting, emails, surfing the net or whatever, turn it all off and allow yourself to just breathe and find the space within⎯the key to you is in that space. Don’t fill the space with debris!

This is not the time to feel regrets for what has past; after all, it is what it ismove on or get over it!

And last, but not least: 
Be grateful and consider gratitude as your closing statement for the year.

As the year comes to a close, know where you have been even if you do not know where you want to go. We all have the chance to make our lives better. Be grateful and know⎯your opportunities are endless…

What moves you along the way this time of the year?

Thank you for following my posts this year. It just gets better...see you in the new year...

Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan
© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Ultimate Gift ⎯ Is YOU!

Instead of presents this holiday season, let your focus be on your presence. I have found giving time to someone or a group of someone’s to be the best gift of all. It’s not merely the fact you are in attendance, but participating in what is going on around you. Before you get together with anyone⎯listen up…

3 simple tips to getting the most out of giving time to others:

If you are usually just taking up spacestart listening!
Okay, so you showed up for whatever you are attending. Instead of just sitting over in the corner counting the minutes until you leave, start listening to what people are saying⎯ whether you are interested or not. While attending functions where I knew very few people, I found if I listened to what was being said I would relax more and found an easy path into conversation. Listening is an art and takes time to learn to do it properly. So start by simply following the conversation and listening with an open mind and open heart. You just may learn something about the person you are listening to; moreover, you just may learn something about yourself.

If you are usually the talker⎯start listening!
Many people have a tendency to say too much. If you are getting together with others, make it a point to say less and listen more. People have the tendency to give more information than needed. This causes many to lose interest in what is being said. Be more concise and to the point⎯you may find folks more interested in what you have to say. If your gums aren’t flapping so much, you will have more time to listen to the conversation. And remember, not all silence needs to be filled with conversation⎯just simply listen to the silence between the words. It can really be quite calming depending on who you are with. Before my Dad died, we talked a lot; but moreover, I learned silence and the peace created between two people in that silence is a precious gift. Anyone you can sit and just be with without saying anything is someone you have a great comfort in.

If you are usually the listener ⎯ good for you, but start talking!
The next time you around other people, share in the conversation by making a comment once in awhile. When friends or family pick themselves up off the floor from shock, you may find you actually enjoy sharing in the conversation. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally say anything to or share something about yourself with someone you know. You may find you have more in common with others than you thought. I have actually been quite surprised to learn more about the people in my life by sharing a part of me.

3 things listening is teaching me about myself and others:

Tolerance gives me an open-minded perspective and acceptance of others.

Patience fills me with a sense of serenity and calm, which carries into all aspects of my life.

Focus provides the space to make better decisions.

Don’t just pass time with people you are around, give time⎯not just this holiday season, but carry the giving into the next year. If you are unable to see someone you haven’t talked to in awhile⎯pick up the phone! Mark your calendar and once a month call someone you haven’t talked to. It will open the door and allow you to reconnect. And never forget⎯the ultimate gift any time of the year is YOU⎯just bring your presence!

My wish for you this holiday season:

Light – vision to see what is best for you
Tranquility – stillness to recognize what is in your best interest
Peace of Mind – in the face of discord or distress

Be Well!
© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just What the Doctor Ordered...Giggles and Belly Laughs

The other day my husband, Dennis, replaced our broken toilet seat. Every time anyone lifted the lid on the new seat it squeaked. Neither of us had mentioned this fact to the other. After a week of squeaks, I decided I would fix it. I grabbed the WD-40 lubricant spray, hesitated slightly and sprayed away. When I lifted the seat to work the spray into the hinge the squeak was gone. It was now an even more irritating haunted house door opening kind of sound. I couldn’t believe it⎯so then I just started laughing. Each time I lifted or closed the seat I laughed that much more until the tears began streaming down my face and my belly hurt. With each lift of the seat the sound grew more irritating and I laughed even louder. I decided I would not say anything about it because sooner or later Dennis would know what was going on. Besides, I don’t think I could have said a thing without cracking up. You know the feeling when you try to tell someone something funny but can’t keep a straight face, and pretty soon the person can’t even figure out what you are saying because you are laughing so hard. So, I waited…

That night as we were heading to bed, I heard the loud screeching. Of course I am smiling and giggling but trying to not be heard. As Dennis was coming out of the bathroom he looked right at me and said, “You’ve had the WD-40 out again!” Yes, I have a previous history with WD. That is why I hesitated momentarily before I sprayed the seat hinge. I have two go-to things when it comes to repairs⎯WD-40 and duct tape. Since this wasn’t a duct tape kind of job, of course I’m going to grab the good old WD. You see we still have a door that will not stay open because I WD’d the hinge pin. Dennis just shook his head as he headed for the bed. By this time, I’m at full giggle mode and pretty soon a knowing smile spread across his face.

The next morning, as I lifted the screeching seat, I just started laughing all over again. Now, anytime I pass the bathroom I am compelled to see if the screech has improved, and yes, I start to get the giggles. Maybe we will just leave it as is for now.

Giggles and belly laughs are just plain good for you. I am sure Dennis and I will share this giggle as time passes like we have with many other moments of our lives. Even just recalling an occurrence when you are lost in giggles and belly laughs makes you smile. We need more of those moments so we may recall them when we are in a belly laugh deficit⎯and that I think is just what the doctor ordered.

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010
Picture - viewed on many websites, Original Source Unknown

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Poorly

A comment from Renee Quistorf on the November 22 post, Holiday Attitude Shakeup, got me thinking. She mentioned something she was told by a therapist, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” Initially, I tried to grasp what the therapist was really saying, or what it might mean to me. In some circles, I am probably known as a perfectionist⎯yes it’s true! Now, perfectionism is another topic for another time, but hold on to that thought. Let’s just say I am aware of this particular issue and work hard at accepting what is⎯as in it is what it is. Nice how I worked that in, huh! Continuing on…

So, considering doing anything poorly was not on my radar. Poorly brings up words like badly, inadequately and unsatisfactorily. Those are not words a perfectionist brings to the table. Then it hit me, are you good enough? Now, that is a question I have asked myself many times over the years, and my answer has always been⎯YES, damn right I’m good enough!

I’ve always loved participating in various sports. As a kid I knew I wasn’t the best, but I was good enough. The teams I participated in didn’t always win and I didn’t necessarily cross the finish line in first place, but I was good enough. I was reminded of this as an adult when asked to compete in team triathlons when I was in my thirties. I swim laps in a pool⎯I’m a swimmer. Put me in the water and I just go. The owner of the gym I worked-out at was putting together a team for a local triathlon competition, and asked if I would be interested in the swim leg. I had never done anything like that and wasn’t really sure about swimming in a sea of people. The distance was not a problem for me so I told him, “I’m not fast, but I’m steady. I won’t necessarily be in the first group, but I won’t be in the last group.” As I stood in a mass of humanity at the edge of the lake I heard myself saying, “What was I thinking?” As the gun fired, off we went. I was slapped, kicked and swam-over. I lifted my head to get my bearings and saw that most people were not really swimming at all. So I stuck my face back down in the water and slapped, kicked and swam over as many people as possible. When I finally made it out of the lake, there were a lot of people left behind me. In the end, the team I was on finished in first place! Not too shabby for “good enough,” or perhaps I felt it was something worth doing whether I did poorly or not.

Renee’s comment reminded me how far I have come since my triathlon days. I am accepting who I am and whatever I do⎯even if perfect doesn’t enter into it. I still hear the sound of fingernails on a blackboard when considering the word poorly, but good enough works for me. Being good enough has allowed me to try the unknown, swim through a mass of humanity and step off that cliff and fly. In the end, at least I tried. It is in the trying where we get out of our ruts, it is in the trying where we learn more about our potential and ourselves. Being good enough allows me to simply be. How about you, are you good enough? If it is worth doing, is it worth doing poorly? Think about this…one man’s poorly may just be another’s infusion of light. Thank you Renee for reminding us of this.

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Relief for the Eyes-Wide-Shut-Syndrome!

Just exactly what is the eyes-wide-shut-syndrome? I would describe this as not seeing what is right in front of you. We are all so busy with everything and anything⎯we do not realize we have fallen into this blind pattern of living. We do not take the time to be more aware of what we may be seeing or even feeling. We have forgotten how to bring awareness into our lives.

I define awareness as a state of consciousness. Something many of us seem to have little of these days⎯we do not make space for awareness. I know, who has time to make space, right? But if you are not aware, it is like going through life with your eyes closed⎯thus, eyes-wide-shut-syndrome. Anyone in this condition would be missing a lot and probably making some bad decisions along the way. I am making a point to allow space for awareness in my life and finding it is not all that difficult to do.

In dealing with health issues and life issues over the past few years, I am discovering a sense of peace amidst the storm of everyday living by creating more awareness in my life. The one common element to creating awareness is simply making a point to pay attention to what I am feeling, doing, thinking and saying. This one simple step has changed how I go about living my life. It slows me down and helps me focus. I am finding I can be a better person to others and myself by being more aware. Putting emphasis on paying attention doesn’t cost a thing and takes a split second to do. So now you don’t need to worry about scheduling awareness into your day⎯just do it.

Creating awareness takes practice. It seems the more focus you give it, the easier it gets. Although, when you take away the focus, it is just as easy to slip back to your old eyes-wide-shut ways. And that is going to happen, but you can quickly remedy the blindness you create. Make space⎯create awareness⎯find peace!

Here are three ideas to get you started:
  1. If you are trying to do a number of things at the same time⎯stop⎯focus on one thing. You will find you not only get more done, you do a better job!
  2. You are sitting in traffic and fuming⎯stop⎯pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking then ask yourself if it’s worth the fuming.
  3. You are about to say something you probably shouldn’t even think about saying⎯stop⎯by bringing awareness to what you are about to say, you will find yourself choosing your words a bit more carefully or not saying anything at all.
Feel free to share a few of your own thoughts on this topic…

 Copyright 2010 Michelle Clark
Special thanks to Andrew Bossi for the eyes picture

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Attitude Shake-Up

I am already hearing people bemoan the fact Christmas is upon us. My friend, Anita, said she would just like to fast-forward and get it over with! Sound familiar? I understand those sentiments, but no longer feel so utterly negative about the whole thing. I am now able to focus on the concept of “less is more” and not get caught up in the stress of the season. I have found I am able to enjoy what I do and appreciate those people I spend time with even more so. Over the years, I have shared with others how I approach the holidays, and now I’ll share a few insights and ideas with you.

First ⎯It all boils down to expectations. Who do we have to blame for those outrageous expectations? Could you be thinking of Norman Rockwell’s, Freedom from Want picture (Thanksgiving Dinner), published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943? Or perhaps you have been looking at all the magazines with the lovely holiday settings. Just stop that right now! If anyone is going to take the blame it should be YOU. You can’t do anything about anyone else’s expectations, but you can about your own.

Second⎯Before you become holi-dazed, sit down and make a list of everything you think you need to do throughout the holiday season by category, then fill in the details under each category. Before you start getting a headache, move on quickly...

Third⎯Cross at least one detail off the list under each category, and yes you can! Heck, go ahead and cross off a whole category if you are feeling really empowered. I know you want to, so I’m going to give you permission to cross off an entire category. There, you have no one to blame but me⎯you’ll thank me for it! Remember, the idea is doing less of everything. Here are a few general thoughts to set you on your way:

Holiday Cards⎯If you are sending cards to everyone you ever knew or had a conversation with, listen up. Try sending cards to only those people you rarely see. If you still want to touch base with others, send an e-card. Or send only e-cards and sometime in the next month or so call those people you rarely see⎯they would love it! Lastly, you are not obligated to send holiday cards just because you receive them!

Gifting⎯My, oh my, has this one gotten out of hand over the years. You still have time to contact people and stop the insanity. Here are a few ideas: pick names and set a spending limit, one gift per family, gift to only children under a particular age, request donations be sent to a favorite charity or simply⎯no gifting.

Baking⎯You know this only packs on calories and gives everyone a sugar high, so just cut back.

Decorating⎯Your home does not need to look like a magazine spread. It takes an entire design staff to fill those pages.

Parties⎯You do not need to attend everything you are invited to.

Basically, focus on what is really important to you and your loved ones and forget the rest. It is just not worth it to you, or anyone coming in contact with you, to do otherwise! Treat the holidays as a state of mind that may need an attitude adjustment. Your loved ones may not understand the new changes, but in the end⎯they will come around, and just possibly embrace them. Don’t focus on the traditions of the past if they are the ones driving you crazy. There are no laws stating traditions must remain the same. Set yourself free and before you know it you will have created new traditions.

As you go through your holiday to-do list this year, make notes on what you might want to change next year. Every year you can work just a little harder at making changes and doing less until you have turned your holiday negativity into holiday magic⎯something you look forward to. The important thing here is to just BE and let the joy of the season set you a new path. It is up to YOU to shake things up a bit.

Feel free to share your ideas by selecting the comments box. In case you are not familiar with commenting on this blog, I receive all comments for review prior to posting. If you want to just comment to me, ask me not to share and it won’t be posted. So, let’s get the party started and help my friend Anita shake things up a bit with an attitude adjustment. How have you simplified your holidays or what do you most like to do? I am going to list a few more ideas to contemplate:
  • Pick one thing you would really love to do and put your heart into it.
  • When you have finished deleting items on your to-do list, think about adding something you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time.
  • Leave town and the holidays behind.
  • You could always celebrate the holidays when the weather and traffic are better. How about Christmas in July?

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010
Special thanks to Ben McLeod for the broken ornaments picture

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pursuing Happiness

Just what is happiness? A few words that come to my mind are contentment, joy and bliss. The mere thought of those words fills me with instant peace. You can’t fake any of those feelings like you might when you merely slap a smile on your face. Remember, smiles are only skin-deep unless happiness is truly felt from within. I used to be an expert at slapping a smile on my face. It was easy, I’m basically one of those naturally smiley types, so it was very easy for me to fake it and get away with it. Does the faking it ring a bell for you?

While working in an office a number of years ago, I was essentially smacked in the head by the realization of what a smile means. I preferred getting to work a few minutes early to have a bit of quiet time to organize my thoughts. I didn’t appreciate any conversation before my workday began. It was how I would “get in the zone” for the day ahead. As I walked down the hall passing Jim, my boss, I made eye contact with him, mumbled a quick, “Good morning,” and proceeded on my way. He stopped, turned around and said, “Where is that smile of yours?” I turned around and snapped, “Who crowned me Miss Perky and why do I have to smile constantly?” A sad smile instantly spread out across his face as he said, “Sometimes that smile is the only thing that gets me through the day around here.” I immediately melted into a heartfelt smile and apologized to him. You see, we were both unhappy with our jobs at the time, and I understood where he was coming from. I’ve never forgotten that moment. You just never know where happiness grows. It made me look at happiness and smiling in a whole new light. After that exchange, I made an effort to feel happiness whenever I flashed that smile of mine; although, it took me a few more years to understand what true happiness can mean.

By paying more attention to my life and my needs, I’ve been swept away with a tide of happiness. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve been crowned Miss Perky at all. That would be one heavy crown to wear! Happiness has become a feeling that pervades my entire life. It surfaces in everything I feel and in everything I do. No, you can’t fake it. Besides, you may be fooling some people, but you cannot fool yourself. Thinking you are happy and being happy may just be two different realities, and there is only one reality that is genuine. I am choosing to BE happy.

Is pursuing happiness even on your “to-do” list? If it is and you are still not happy then perhaps you only think you are pursuing happiness and you need new direction. Take note the next time you feel amazingly happy and ask yourself why, then do the same thing when you are not so happy. When I started doing this I learned more about what made me happy in the first place. I started to examine what made me unhappy and was determined to make changes. I was paying more attention to my needs and started to ask the right questions.

Begin with a heartfelt smile and remember⎯happiness will grow on its own if you start asking the right questions. This is actually a baby step in creating awareness in your life. Create the space in your life to just be and let the happiness overcome you like a wave on the ocean. I’m happy to report that neither Jim nor I work for that company anymore. We have found contentment, joy and bliss in the new directions of our lives, and you can’t fake that!

 Copyright 2010 Michelle Clark
Special thanks to Duncan Rawlins for wave picture

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Joys of MiraLAX®

I’ve been busy this week with a two-day colonoscopy prep and subsequent colonoscopy. I have been having difficulties with constipation over the last two years, and more noticeably since December of last year when I had a rather bad Crohn’s episode. Since this is not about Crohn’s episodes, let’s just say it was a major gut-cramping event where I end up in bed and take medication to relax the muscles and knock me out. After that point, I had increasing problems with constipation. This seemed to come to a head mid-June of this year when I had yet another Crohn’s episode. This one left me unable to move anything through my bowels without drinking a ton of prune juice.

It usually takes my gut a couple of weeks to recover from an episode and get the eating and bowel movements somewhat in sync. After three weeks then four, I began trying all sorts of things to get on top of the horrible gas buildup in my gut. I liken it to the beast in the movie Alien attempting to burst out of the body of one of the characters. After contacting my gastroenterologist, he suggested using MiraLAX®. He mentioned this when I saw him in the spring, but I have tried to stay away from anything in the laxative family and had not used it to date. Yes laxatives work in a bind, but you can become dependent on them if you use them over an extended amount of time. Since I was starting to turn brown from all the prune juice I was drinking, or maybe I was just full of…well, you figure it out! I tried the MiraLAX®. Laaaaaaaaa, happy days! It was amazing. Thus began months of trying to figure out just how much of this miracle powder I would need to keep my bowels moving.

Now that you have a little background, and perhaps more information than you really wanted to know, fast forward to the present. Months of working with the MiraLAX®, like a mad scientist, had not brought me any closer to coming up with a solution to the ratio of MiraLAX® to pooping. It had been over four years since my last colonoscopy and I was due, so my poop doc took a look. The results of the test were not surprising. Other than the fact I have Crohn’s, I had a benign polyp removed and have found I have a “tortuous colon.” Due to the fact I do not eat enough fiber, my colon has lengthened and twisted a bit. This condition can lead to intestinal blockage, which is never a good thing. I’ve always had problems moving fiber through my digestive system, and have been concerned with causing a blockage. MiraLAX® is an osmotic-type of laxative, which holds more water in your digestive system allowing the stool to soften, and is neither a stimulant nor bulk-forming laxative. It may pave the way for a number of IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) sufferers. It is now available over the counter and in generic form at most drug stores, including by the barrel at Costco! So now I am suppose to not only add more fiber, but also add more MiraLAX® than I had been taking. After every meal, I’m to have what I am calling my MiraLAX® digestif. Interestingly, digestifs are served at the end of the meal to aid digestion⎯usually a liqueur, brandy or fortified wine, but in my case MiraLAX®. So now I can begin to enjoy eating more fiber and know that somewhere in my gut everything is moving smoothly, and I have put the Alien to rest. My dear soapbox-carrying acupuncturist will be happy to know this. I’m on my way to Costco. Cheers!

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Ducky

I was talking with my friend Connie awhile back and she was telling me how difficult work had been for her. The infighting in her office had become unbearable which left morale rather low. I told her there was nothing she could do about anyone else and she needed to focus on herself. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Only you can set the dial on your attitude. So, you start there.

I told Connie she needed to think like a duck, be the duck, because ducks have waterproof feathers. Using the preen gland near their tails, ducks pick up oil in the gland with their head and bill and spread it all over their bodies. Without this oil and constant preening they would be left with no protective barrier. Now picture a duck floating on the water…as it reaches the shore, it drops its little webbed feet, spreads and flaps its wings spraying water in every direction. As it folds its wings inward, you can see the duck vibrate from bill to tail spraying water, yet again, in every direction. And that’s just what Connie needed to do. You see nothing sticks to a duck, so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining cats and dogs because it makes no difference. It’s all just water running off their backs. It just doesn’t matter!

I keep a supply of rubber duck’s on hand at all times. I have given out quite a few ducks over the years. By the way, I made sure I mentioned this to my husband recently in case something ever happened to me and he ran across my duck stash. I thought I should make sure he knew what the story was. Although, now that I think about it, it might have been kind of fun to leave that for him to figure out! Anyway, after the conversation with Connie, I mailed her one of my ducks. I told her to display it proudly on her desk. Then when the yammering starts in, focus on the duck and preen to her hearts content. If necessary, walk out of the room and tell the yammerer, “Talk to the duck.”

I’m happy to report that Connie has made quite a flap. Her duck has empowered her to even leave her office while squawking, “Quack…quack…quack.” No, I’m not making this up. Connie has made sure to continue the preening on a regular basis. She doesn’t want to be caught off guard and find her feathers soaked. It’s important to note here, even if you haven’t preened lately, it’s never too late to start letting everything just roll off your back. It’s all about attitude, and you’ve got to start someplace, so think like a duck!

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010
Special thanks to for the ducky pic

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Status

I finished writing my book, It Is What It Is, last fall. Since that time, it has been reviewed and edited by a variety of people including a doctor, someone who doesn't know me, people who read self help and inspirational type books and people who don't. All comments have been very positive. I have read and edited more times than I can remember. Quite frequently I am asked about the editing process and just what it is I am doing. I'm looking for consistency, misspellings, grammar and punctuation to name a few. Plus, sometimes I just find a better way of saying something. The thing is, when you make a change, you may read the paragraph the change was made in but not the complete chapter or essay. So by the time you get around to reading the whole document again, you hopefully can see that the changes you have made are consistent with the rest of the document. It's actually interesting what you and others miss. I found I had gotten too close to the words and wasn't seeing what I needed to. I worked extensively with a dear friend of mine who has also probably lost count of the number of times she has reviewed this book, and has admitted that she is now too close and doesn't see what she needs to see.

I'm currently finishing an edit and will read my book yet again. Each time I read I try not to focus on everything. When I was focusing on punctuation, it just about drove me crazy. After awhile, I felt as if I didn't know anything anymore. While reading other books or articles, I found myself concentrating on the author's punctuation style. That is not something I've ever given a whole lot of thought to when reading. It quite definitely takes away from the reading enjoyment. This whole process has been frustrating at times but enlightening and I know it will help improve my writing in the future.

Getting out from under all the editing will give me more time to work on this blog and organize all my notes and scribblings for the next three books that are screaming to get out of my head. I have looked into traditional publishing as well as self-publishing, such as print on demand. I understand the traditional publishing world is in a bit of a turmoil with all the new self-publishing avenues. What I know for sure is...I just want to write and speak to groups and not have to concern myself with everything else that goes along with publishing my writing. I can see the future is bright and my books will be published. I just don't know what the in-between looks like at this point. I am confidant and I will find my way, one word at a time.

Photo courtesy of Zitona

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beware of Little Chinese Lady Carrying Big Soapbox

A couple of weeks ago I went to my seasonal acupuncture appointment. I had been having some new disturbances in my gut along with the regular ache here and pain there kind of thing. The acupuncturist happened to ask me something about breakfast and I mentioned that I had a protein drink, something I quite frequently have. As a matter of fact, I have been having a protein drink for breakfast off and on since I was in junior-high. She immediately gave me the “evil eye” and started to say something about protein drinks. I interrupted her and said this was not something in a can or that I picked up on the way, and that I make wonderful, healthy concoctions at home. She asked if I add any type of protein powder to the mix. These days I do use a protein powder because raw eggs are not advised. She asked me if I eat a lot of processed foods. I really think I eat fairly healthy. I generally don’t eat at fast-food type places and I don’t drink soft drinks. I read all ingredient labels. I’m a “from scratch” kind of cook and I do consider every ingredient used. So I don’t think I eat a lot of processed foods. WRONG!

Out came the soapbox and this little Chinese lady proudly gave me a talking to. I wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise to get clarification on something she was talking about or ask a simple question. She was on a rant about the use of protein powders not being a “good thing” and the importance of eating natural, fresh foods.

Now, I can appreciate what she was saying. I do respect anyone who can eat this way. Walking through the grocery store after the natural, fresh foods lecture, I realized just how much processed food I do eat. Anything in a can or bottle is “processed” – even if there is no sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, m.s.g., food coloring or preservatives. Even if no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics were used. Even if the product is labeled organic. As I’m walking down the aisles, the types of foods I buy were shouting at me, “Hey, over here, I’m the ketchup you buy,” “Look this way, I’m the mayonnaise you buy.” I’ve had homemade mayo and ketchup. Both are fairly easy to make and very good. BUT, who has time to make EVERYTHING from natural, fresh scratch? My acupuncturist makes her own bread after grinding her own wheat. She even grinds her own meats. Trying to grocery shop after this lecture was a bit discouraging, but I gained a better understanding to what “processed” foods encompass.

With my gut issues, due to Crohn’s disease, at times I am significantly limited to what I can take in through my digestive system. When the Crohn’s is acting up, I must stay away from fiber because it just doesn’t move through. I know, we’re all told we need to add more fiber. I wish I could. I would love to eat a raw apple, but that won’t work for me. When doing well, I am able to eat cooked apples without the peel. There are many fruits and vegetables I can only eat well cooked. You can appreciate how important it is for me to pay attention to what goes in as well as what’s moving through.

Walking through the grocery store, I was trying to determine how one would go about eating natural, eating fresh. I wondered if my acupuncturist made her own butter. She probably doesn’t use butter. I use olive oil in most of my cooking, but I am from the Julia Child’s school of thought. Butter is a good thing. You just don’t need to eat the whole stick. I think Julia mentioned something about moderation.

It hurt my head to think about all the changes I would need to make. From my viewpoint, it seemed to be a very limited way to eat. And I already know what that’s entails. I am sure, like most things, you figure it out a step at a time. I could use Crohn’s as my excuse but that’s exactly what it would be – an excuse. It comes down to this, right now, I just don’t want to head down that road. It’s not practical for me. Maybe someday it will be something I am ready to try, but not today. I’m going to continue eating healthfully, processed or not. Lifestyle changes are very difficult to make. So, no matter what it is you should change or want to change, in order to make changes, one must be in sync with the changes you are making in order for them to stick!

Thirty minutes after my well-meaning acupuncturist started her rant, she got down off her soapbox, I told her I would see what I could do and then she stuck me full of needles – not good timing on my end!

Photo courtesy of MonsieruLui

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Found Friend

There’s someone I’d like you to meet … guess who? … It’s YOU! Are you feeling slightly let down right now? Hmm, we’ll have to get back to that.

So exactly how would you introduce yourself? Hi, (insert your name), I’d like you to meet a good friend of mine, (insert your name). Okay, now that the formalities are over, what next? I suppose you could talk about your family or work, but let’s just skip the small talk here. What I want to know is whether or not you would even want to meet this person? What would your first impressions be? Perhaps you will decide you have a lot in common and elect to spend more time with you. As you learn more about you, would you really want to spend more time or were you just being nice?

Think of someone you honestly adore spending time with. What are the qualities that make up this person? Are any of these qualities lacking in you? Time spending is quite a luxury and a gift, so why spend the time with this particular individual? One may never really understand why we enjoy being with a person. Perhaps it is someone who helps us feel good, happy or on the other end of things, someone we can commiserate with. I, for one, don’t really like the whole commiserating scenario. How can anyone move beyond the commiserating? Sounds like a downer to me.

How much time do you spend with just YOU? Do you enjoy your own company? Many may say, “Sure, why not, I’m with me all the time!” Not necessarily true though. Most people I know take little if any time for themselves. Schedules are tight and we all seem to be engaged in something all the time. How many of us take the time to just be. Taking the time to just be has taught me so much more than all the doing in the world. I am learning to appreciate more fully the good about me and work on those “things” that perhaps aren’t so good. Being guides me to accentuate the positive. Giving time to simply be, with what should be your favorite person you honestly adore spending time with, guides you to be-ing a better individual. That better individual can then be more engaged with what is actually unfolding in their lives. That person can actually be a better person for all.

Now, let’s try this again. There’s someone I’d like you to meet … guess who? … It’s YOU! Feeling a bit better about the possibilities I hope!

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Compass Points

I sometimes feel like I’m the center-point on a compass. There are so many directions I want to head, so many directions I need to head. There are times in my life when I have trouble figuring out just what to do because I feel I should be doing it all. I want to do it all. In writing my book, It Is What It Is, I found all I really want to do is write and have someone else take care of everything else that needs to be done. Alas, I can’t afford to do that. So I work at prioritizing. As an office worker in an industry setting many years ago, I learned to fight fires. Whether it was from work deadlines or personal health issues, I learned to deal with whatever the priority of the moment was. It was really a forced focus, but I think that is how many of us go about living our lives—fire to fire.

I sometimes get stuck in this compass scenario. I see all the different directions but freeze at center point. When doing this, I just go about doing those day to day living things one does and ignore the compass points swirling about my head thus ignoring the issues. At least I think I’m ignoring them. Actually, they are there on the periphery of my life.

Something I remember from my kidlet days—when you are lost in the woods, find what side of the tree the moss is growing on. Or if you live in the Pacific Northwest like me, see what side of the roof the moss grows on. That will be north. Now you can determine where south, east and west are. Okay great—now what?

All I know is that I am trying to find a way, my way. It may not be the direction everyone else heads, but I know in my heart it is right for me. At this moment I am stuck at center-point. I know I will not be here long. I’ll do what I usually do, examine the compass points swirling about and just—do it—just move off center point and—do it. I may end up with moss on my feet and back side as I slip along finding my way, but I will have moved off center-point and chosen my way before I need to fight fires once again.

Photo courtesy of Steve Snodgrass
© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Get The Show On The Road

I feel as though I'm dropping into the middle of something as I've already been writing now for the last 5 years. My book is not published yet, but I'm weeding my way through the various avenues available. I've held back the blogging thing up until this moment in order to concentrate more fully on my book. Blogging will now allow my voice to be heard. Lucky you! With this blog, you will get to know me as I share my thoughts and the ups and downs of growing into my Self. You will also become a part of my quest to inspire others through blogging, public speaking, publishing my current book and continuing to work on the other books currently floating in my head.