Thursday, December 10, 2020

Finding Peace of Mind Amid Turbulent Times

In October I spoke at an outdoor, socially distanced, masked-up book club meeting. This club read my book, It Is What It Is, back in March and I was scheduled to speak in April at their next meeting, but we all know what happened last March. At the October meeting, book club members commented on the timing of reading my inspirational words as our day-to-day lives changed drastically and quarantining became the norm thanks to Covid-19.

I read It Is What It Is about once a year. Every time I read it, I’m reminded of observations, mindsets, or thoughts I explored at one time or another that brought me peace of mind. Observations, mindsets, and thoughts I might not be considering depending on what’s going on in my life. After all my readings, it never disappoints and always speaks to me differently depending what truths I am living and what my general mood is. I no longer read it as the author but solely as a reader. So, while the book club read along in March, I, too, read It Is What It Is again, and I’m glad I did. Many of the concepts outlined refreshed my day to day approach to life, and yes, brought me peace of mind as the world we all knew fell away from us. If you have read It Is What It Is, perhaps it's time for you to revisit my observations, mindsets, and thoughts and refresh your day to day approach to life while finding some peace of mind along the way.

I’ve given hundreds of copies of It Is What It Is away and hope that those readers inspired by my words will pay it forward and buy someone they know this book. All of the earnings to date have gone toward the purchase of more books to give to others. Add It Is What It Is to your holiday shopping list and have Amazon print up a fresh copy and ship it directly to those special people on your list. A book such as this keeps on giving every time you turn the pages. I have a link in the right sidebar to take you directly to Amazon. And thank YOU for your ongoing support.

If you are looking for lovely piano music to listen to while you read, my cousin, Joe Carolus, has just released his latest solo album. His inspiration will definitely bring a sense of peace during these turbulent times. Joe’s albums are available to play through your favorite music sites.

Be safe, stay safe, take care,

asa-yoga-meditating photo courtesy of Minoru Nitta

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Keeping It Simple

I am a detailed oriented person. But when too much information is being thrown my way, I have a tendency to back off and shut out or shut down. It’s a form of self-preservation to remove myself from whatever it is and allow my mind to consider, sort out, and take action - or not. I find that information overload clouds my mind, and quite frankly, can set up unwanted frustration.

*Definition of consider: think about, contemplate, give thought to, reflect on, examine, appraise, review; study, mull over, ponder, deliberate over, cogitate about, chew over, meditate on/over, ruminate over, turn over in one's mind; assess, evaluate, compare.

I have utilized every one of those defining words in trying to make one decision. It’s madness, and most of the time does not help me whatsoever. I have used a keep it simple philosophy for many things, but it’s particularly helpful with decision making - even when making big life decisions. It’s easy to overthink things, but it’s refreshing to just simply STOP and keep it simple.

Keeping it simple is a choice I make. It helps me maintain balance in my life, triggers more awareness and thus guides me in making more mindful decisions. That’s it! Keeping it simple leads to mindful decision making. It’s as simple as that.

Stay safe and take care,

Simple photo courtesy of Charlie Wales
*Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Heart of My Home


It all started after unpacking my waffle iron and cookbooks.  I decided it was about time to get back to Sunday morning breakfasts and make some waffles – something I hadn’t been able to do since before we hit the road traveling. I grabbed one of my favorite cookbooks, The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham published in 1987. As if by magic, the book opened to the one and only waffle recipe I make. This is a well-loved, well-worn cookbook of mine, so it comes as no surprise that it should open to this particular page where the Classic Waffle recipe lives.

I fondly glanced through the pages of Cunningham’s ode to what breakfast used to be, and took note of the many notations I have made along the margins and within the recipes. I found myself smiling as I paged through remembering baking up a storm between the pages, as it were. Having traveled full time for nearly four years, plus another year or so added to that packing up our old home and settling into our new one, it had been way too long for this girl to be away from these old friends of hers. This is when I realized that these cooking and baking guides were like long lost friends. It brought tears to my eyes just contemplating this. While I mostly cooked wherever we were traveling, I knew I missed having a fully stocked kitchen with my own tools of the trade. But I had no idea what an emotional impact my cookbooks and files of recipes would have on me.

Having a kitchen of my own again with my tools and my cookbooks is finding the heart of my new home. And I'm finding that old sense of peace and focus as I craft wonderful food. There’s been a bit of a learning curve with our new appliances as I’m not used to convection or cooking with gas, but I’ve been in learning mode before and remain undaunted. Plus, I have the opportunity to have old cookbook friends drop in from time to time and guide me to creating good food and memories once again. One never knows where an old friend may turn up, or where old memories can be found, but I will not soon forget the overwhelming feeling of joy I felt the day I re-opened the old friend of mine that helped me find the heart of my new home.
Stay safe and take care,
Waffle photos courtesy of damclark photos
You may be interested to know the photos above show my 1929 waffle iron. It was my Grandma Mary’s and she knew the year she bought it because that was the year her first son, my Uncle Roy, was born. He and my waffle iron celebrated their 91st birthday this year. I wrote a post on my awful waffle history back in 2012. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Navigating the Current Rollercoaster

With the uncertain times we are living, we’re experiencing extensive lifestyle changes. I’ve found my emotional balance has been more like navigating a roller coaster. Like many of you, my husband and I have been in this somewhat isolated bubble over eight weeks now. For someone who strives to find balance in each day, it’s been best for me to stick to a routine, remind myself that it is my choice to follow or not follow the news, find better ways of doing things I find stressful, focus on whatever it is I am doing, and surprise myself along the way.

I am at my best following a routine of waking, sleeping, eating, and exercising. And quite frankly, that goes for most people. It keeps me on track and helps me prepare for the ups, downs ahead.

I’ve been doing my due diligence and checking in with news items once in awhile. This keeps me up on what I need to know. Otherwise, too much information leads to information overload, stress, and feeling as if I had the weight of the entire world on my back while going through a loop-de-loop. I know what’s happening, I’m not ignoring that, but I don’t need to know EVERYTHING!

There’s got to be a better way!
The whole grocery shopping thing has really been an issue for everyone. What’s available, what’s not available, and doing everything we can to not bring home this damn virus. It’s very stressful! A few weeks ago, I found myself saying rather loudly, there’s got to be a better way! So, we are now shopping at our local grocery stores on-line and picking up our order a few days later. This one thing has relieved a whole lot of stress and craziness and keeps me on a straighter track.

Focus, Focus, Focus
Mindfulness with full focus on whatever I am doing keeps me calm and centered and ready for the curves ahead. I’ve tackled spring cleaning and once again embraced feng shui thinking now that I’m no longer traveling full time. Cleaning and organizing creates a welcome sense of calm when mindfulness is considered. These are things I should do at some point anyway, and there’s no time like the present.

Even within a routine oriented world, I change things up regularly. It’s never same old, same old for me. And that’s become very important these last two months because it is a definite bright spot to what could be an endless series of loops. I may run, walk, lift weights, do my yoga/pilates. I may cook up or bake something I haven’t had in years. I may call friends or family instead of emailing or texting just to have that good-old real voice connection. It’s not only a break in my routine, it’s a surprise for them. Here’s the thing, surprise may be planned or spur of the moment, but right now it’s more important than ever to have that bright spot in my day.

And one more thing - a little something I remind myself when I need an extra lift...
During the hard times of my life I have learned more about myself and become stronger.
Stay safe and take care!


Rollercoaster photo - no copyright infringement is intended 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

COVID-19 Timeout

There are many things at work here on a global front like we’ve not seen. One might consider COVID-19 to be a world at war with a giant learning curve for everyone. We are all scrambling to figure out how to handle, well, everything. With all the media chiming in on what’s going on, I’d venture to say this is only the tip of the iceberg and that there’s more going on here than anyone knows at this time. With health concerns, potential food and drug shortages, and plummeting financial global markets it can be difficult to understand your place in all of this. Following the CDC’s guidelines while trying to put food on the table and locate toilet paper can seem daunting when the community around you seems to be shutting down. What I can tell you is that we should not panic. We need to think clearly, and we can’t do that when we are in fear mode.

While many of us are following 2-week social distancing guidelines or sheltering in place restrictions, I think this forced timeout is a good time to care for yourself. Healthy individuals are able to fight this virus. So, limit the toxic news, eat healthy and boost antioxidants in your diet, drink plenty of water, get out and get some fresh air if you can, and consider the possibilities (my word for the year). Rather than binging on movies and television, what can you do during this time to be productive?

Hopefully, this period we are living in right now will help us all be more aware of the responsibilities we have to each other.

Stay safe and take care,

Timeout photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann and Pixabay

Monday, January 20, 2020

One Hellish Bitch of a Stinker

We’re well into January and it’s about time I get back to writing my posts with more regularity. In my last post I mentioned our move from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona, and now I can honestly say we’re feeling more at home in the last two months. While the building craziness has settled down for us, there continues to be a bit of chaos as we approach the end of a backyard project – from sand to hardscape. Some days have been a bit trying through the whole move and build process, but I have glimpses of a more settled existence. I had to laugh when I checked the word trying in the Apple computer thesaurus...
Trying: stressful, difficult, taxing, demanding, tough, hard, heavy; pressured, testing, frustrating, fraught traumatic, arduous, grueling; tiring, fatiguing, exhausting, wearing; informal hellish, a bitch of a, a stinker.
All of the thesaurus words describe what I felt at one time or another over the last 7 months, but I particularly like the informal - hellish bitch of a stinker. I removed the commas and that about summoned up the entire experience.

As for me, I’m always glad to put a wrap on one year and begin a new year. I love the feeling of closure even if I’ve had an amazing year, and an amazing mixed bag of a year it was. I experienced the northern lights in a bucket list worthy way on the water along the coast of Norway. I took on a move of 1,500 miles to a completely different state and climate. With the build of a house I made more decisions than a person should have to make in a short period of time. I met new people, rekindled old relationships, made new friends, and lost my mother along with a few other people who had touched my life at one time or another. And you know what? I’m still here focusing on what's positive because with all the ups and downs this was a huge growth year for me.

And now, a new year is guiding me to the possibilities, prospects, and opportunities ahead. These positive words are speaking to me these days and I feel I now have space in my life to welcome them rather than setting them aside for another time. The time is now. Welcome to my year of new possibilities. What will they be? What will your possibilities, prospects, and opportunities be? Don’t set them aside for another time! Join me as we begin a new decade and leave the hellish bitch of a stinker behind!

Be well, Michelle
Possibilities photo courtesy of Damian Godal