Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekly Motivational #5

"Only You"

A day late, a dollar short. Seems to be the story of my life this week.

I'll keep this short. I have not moved since my last blog. I have not gone to the gym once, and I definitely haven't changed my eating habits. I haven't made any real excellent food choices, and I also don't feel any regret. I know that change begins with me.

Only You can decide when to start.

Only You can make you happy. 

Only You can make the changes you should.

Only You can decide not to give up.

It's up to me. My lack of motivation is no longer an excuse. A new semester of school has started, and with it I hope to start back on the bandwagon of the gym. If I can last 21 days, I can make it a habit. That's my plan.

I have set up mini goals for this week:
Immediate/Next couple of days - Get all of the "new semester" attendance verifications out of the way.
Soon/This week - Plan out my gym schedule for days I am on campus for class. Stick to that plan.
Make it happen/This month - Lose 5lbs before September begins.

So.... Only You can make the changes you need. What else are you waiting for?!?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suicide, Cancer, and the Ultimate Question...

What a week it has been. Robin Williams, comedian extraordinaire, is dead. Current reports say he hung himself, and it is ruled a suicide. Having battled depression, he decided that he could no longer hold the pressures he felt, the black emptiness, the depression became too great.

I've said it on Facebook, I'll say it here. Suicide is not glamorous. It is not a glorified end to a sad life. Suicide is messy, it is devastating, and it leaves a whole lotta mess and shitstorms behind for your family and loved ones.

I am only in the beginning stages of my mental health career, and already I know there is so much I want to do when I am able to. I already have an idea on what to write my thesis on, if I want to pursue my doctorate.

Please, if you or someone you know is battling depression, don't treat them like a stigma. Depression is a disease, like anything else. Depression and other mental health issues don't affect one person, or any specific class, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or economic or social status. It does not discriminate, and neither should you. Depression does not make someone weak or soft, it does not discount who they are as a person, it does not make them any less valuable as a person. Depression ripples among the sufferer's friends, family, loved ones; you can hear it if you listen closely. So, if someone you know ever says anything about killing themselves, or the world being better off without them, or anything of that nature, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

It is toll-free, and confidential. You don't have to say your name, you don't have to say anything you don't want to. Just call. You might be the voice someone needs to speak up for them, to help them get the help they need.

Now.... the next item on my agenda. Cancer. Cancer sucks. It does. EXACTLY like mental illness and depression, cancer does not care who it affects. The ripples felt by cancer spread far and wide, through family, friends, and loved ones. It does not care if you are a mother, a devout Christian, it does not matter if you have been healthy all your life, or if you have a grandchild whom you won't get to see grow up. It ravages your body and mind, might make you question your faith and shake your foundation of life. 

That has been event #2 in my life this week. One of my aunts, who is all of those qualities above, went into the hospital super-sick, and was found to have an advanced breast cancer that has spread to her bones, liver, many lymph nodes, and possibly spread further. She goes into surgery tomorrow (Thursday), for what exactly I am unsure, as she is states away.

As someone who is Agnostic (look it up if you don't know what that means), I have long battled with the idea of a God who could let something like this happen. What angers me further... No, let me rephrase.... What PISSES ME OFF is that this God could let someone who is so devout find a lump in her breast MONTHS ago, but believed that the power of PRAY would make this go away. Well, Science-1, God-0. As expected, cancer left untreated very rarely goes away. When it does, it is hailed by both the medical and religious communities as a "miracle".

Science and religion share more qualities than you think. They are both based on history. Faith is based in a long history of belief systems that have been traditionalized and passed on for generations and hundreds of years. Science is much the same; it is based on a long history of tried and tested methods and hypotheses, tried and revised until they have found a system that works. Either way, they can fail you in the darkest of times. Science can fail the doctor to cure the cancer the rages on the inside if a body. Faith can fail the family who thought they were healthy and that prayer could make cancer disappear, but faith can also fail and make that family question their very faith. For the family of my Aunt, they are very devout and believe that God will perform miracles. And even if He doesn't, and my Aunt dies younger than she should have, I know that her family will continue to pray and be devout to God, because now she is with Him and her pain has been eased.

And here I am. Hundreds of miles away, and very pissed off. See, I do not know if I believe in God. Moreover, I do not know how so many can believe in some higher power who can let things like this happen, especially to a family who has never done harm to anyone. I don't understand how someone can keep their faith in time where science (to me) is their only answer and solution. I may never understand it. I was just telling my husband that I find it funny (not "ha-ha" funny, but ironic-funny) that so many people believe that God will cure her of cancer simply because they are praying for Him to do so. I want to reply to their posts with blasphemous scientific ramblings that shoots down the statistical probability of a "miracle", but that would mean condemning my Aunt to the cancer, and also interrupting their freedoms to believe in whatever they choose... So I keep my tongue in check. Obviously, I do not want to offend anyone. I know we all feel helpless to this, and I suppose the prayers are at least bringing comfort and showing my family that they are not alone, and that they are loved even from afar and in this time of need. 

No matter what you believe, no matter what craziness is going on in your life, no matter what your age, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, orientation, creed, or whatever, do not ignore a bump or foreign feeling in your body. Get that shit checked out. And don't just rely on the power of prayer or your God. Science was put here on this Earth to help everyone. Let it.

Do monthly self breast exams. Keep an eye on your freckles and birthmarks. If you suddenly find you are tired, or irritable, or something about your attitude has changed, go see your doctor. It could very well be stress, or situational, temporary.... but it could also be something else. If your family has a higher risk for any types of cancers or diseases, keep that shit in check. Know the risks. Get the tests. Trust the medicine.

That leaves one last item of business... the Ultimate Question.

I suppose it ties in with the cancer issue, and also the issue of depression and mental health.

Does God exist?

Everybody is entitled to an answer, and no one's answer is wrong, even if it is "no". And God is being used as a general term, whether it be the Christian God, Pagan Gods and Goddesses, Vishnu, Shiva, or any other applicable "Supreme Being(s)" that a religion worships.

My answer is that I don't have an answer. I don't know. I find it hard to trust that God would let people suffer the way they do, that He would take our faith and shake it up and cause someone to turn away. But I also find it hard to believe that there is nothing beyond life. I suppose on the Eleventh Hour I will find out. I just hope my going is quick, or at least painless, and that by the time my number is called, physician-assisted suicide is legal and normal, because who wants to suffer for no reason other than to prolong life?

It's a lot to take in. It is a heavy fog that we are all in, and each of us has to have it within ourselves to find the strength, or call upon the strength, to continue on.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekly Motivational #4

Do you ever have that "A-HA!" moment in your life where something that you did that NEVER made sense, finally makes sense?

I think I had a revelation like that over this past weekend. I have, for so long, been hiding behind time as an excuse for EVERYTHING, that I think it is finally working against me now. Time, that is.

"I work too many hours."

"I go to school AND work. I never have time for anything else."

"When I have a day off I have house-chores to do!"

"I don't get hardly any ME time, so my days off are for that!"

"There just isn't TIME to go to the gym!"

"I worked a long day YESTERDAY..... TODAY I am tired!"

.... I think I contradict myself many times, but the message is always the same: I'm not making the time because my priorities are not in line with what I think they are. I feel that fitness is a very high priority for me. But in reality... it's near the bottom. Food habits and determination to eat better seems like it's high on my list, but yet I have found myself reaching for the snack-sized Milky Ways in the pantry instead of the arm-length carrots.

And of course, week after week, I feel like a failure and a slob. I know what I did wrong, but yet I don't take responsibility for it. What the hell is wrong with me?

This Carl Jung quote hit home with me. I am lonely. I feel lonely. And it's because I have managed to push most of my friends away, or they have themselves moved on with the passing of time. Don't get me wrong. I love my besties to death, and in an instant I would drop what I am doing to help them with whatever they need.... but I am lonely in my day-to-day life. My besties are miles, and countries away. They do not call me at 5:15am to go running. They do not run on the treadmill next to me at the gym. They do not help me cook dinner and sit and eat a proper meal with me. Do you see what I am getting at? I am standing in a room full of people who love me and whom I love, and I'm screaming, yet I am not heard.

This feels less like a motivational post and is reading more like a pity party. For that I am sorry. My motivation this week is to curb the loneliness. Ask for the attention I want. Plead for the support I need. I am worthy of it all, and so are each one of my friends and loved ones. This week, I will not sit idly by and watch the world spin, I will go out and help make it spin faster and the sun burn brighter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Deliciously Simple! Guacamole!

So, I had the munchies. John and I bought avocados last night at a buck a piece, and they were ripe and ready to go!

So, the only logical step for 6 avocados was a delicious guacamole dip!!

This delicious dip is simple to make, full of good fats, and is FREAKING WONDERFUL!

First up, half your avocados. Use a sharp blade and slice all the way around.
Twist each half away from each other and pull them apart. Using the base of the knife blade,
hit the pit, turn right and pull the pit up. It should come out easily.

Next, take your knife and slice the green goodness in cubes. Slice longways,
then slice again. Use a spoon to get the pulp out and into your bowl.

Delicious spices added to our dip. I used sea salt, black pepper,
garlic powder, and garlic sea salt. Sounds like overkill, yes, but the 
spices all meld together. One thing I forgot to take a pic of was the lime juice.
I used a whole lime, slightly smaller than my fist. (A trick: roll the lime before
cutting into it like clay. It loosens the juice!)

An action shot of my spices!

Chop the onion! I used about a half of a white onion.
I diced it up pretty good. I do not usually like large pieces of 
onion, so I dice it up nicely to about the size of a pinky nail.

Time to SMASHY SMASHY! If you are doing a small batch, use a large fork
and smash the chunks of avocado. In this case, with 6 avocados... I used a potato masher!
I like my dip a little chunkier than some, but you can smash it to whatever consistency you desire!
The finished product! Delicious and wonderful!

My secret weapon! Oregano! A tablespoon or a little less will do ya!

I am going to eat the crap outta this dip! I had some thyme/herb chips and I snacked a little bit before lunch!!! YUMMMMYYYY!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekly Motivational #3

Happy Friday to everyone! How was your week? I hope it was filled with little triumphs and met goals, sweat, fun, and some relaxation in there, too!

My husband was away again this week to Orlando. I spent the week watching Grey's Anatomy reruns on Netflix, watched half of the most recent season of Supernatural, watched a few movies, played some video games, and had landscapers come out and revamp my planters and start a weekly lawn-mowing service which we needed pretty badly.

Notice anything missing? Yup. I did not once hit the gym. Again. Another week, another failed attempt at getting myself back on that horse.

But I'm not going to be upset. No; I was upset last night after having a shitty day and while talking to my husband on the phone he said something that hurt my feelings. I was upset that I got my annual performance review and even though (on a 5-point scale) getting any 5's is impossible (and I'd have to walk on water), I was pissed that I deserved at least one 5 and did not get it. I don't toot my own horn often (not seriously anyway... I put on a pretty egotistical front just because) but I know I deserved a 5 on my people skills. The criteria for a 5 is to "consistently EXCEED expectations while also increasing productivity/profit of the store's performance". That's what I do. All the time. Not some of the time, not when I feel like it. But when I clock in, my gameface is on and I LIVE that description. Anyway, thinking about it makes me all pissed off again and will lead to more crying.... so let's move on.

It is the end of the month. Amy and I have a monthly recap to get to, and that might take a few days. The lucky lady is off camping and enjoying some quality family time and although she's around the web, I am letting her off the hook to get her update up until she gets back! :-)

So, I want to leave some words of wisdom for you to take in.

Practice it, every day. Take the time and do one thing you love to do. Take a walk, read a chapter in a book. Do a crossword puzzle. Call a loved one. Write a letter and MAIL it. Self love leads to loving others, and leads to brighter futures, and leads to success.

Isn't this the truth! In life, you will never learn the lesson before being given the test. Take what you can from the test, take the knowledge you gain, the high of success, or the humble of the defeat, and apply it to life. Make mistakes and learn from them, take in the lessons that life has to offer.

This week I want you all to take a look at a test your life recently put you through. Find the lesson to be learned, and apply it somewhere else in your life.

Have a good week everyone.