40th Birthdays and Balance Go Hand In Hand

interstate 40
en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Interstate_40

Just a few days ago I had the pleasure of celebrating my 40th birthday amongst my beloved family and friends.  I don’t know why, but I have no problem celebrating anyone else’s birthday, but when it comes to my own,  I would much rather pretend like it was just another ordinary day.  Could it be that I’m in denial about getting another year older? No, I don’t think so. Is it that my life is not what I imagined it to be by the time I turned 40? No, it’s actually full of more richness than I ever could have imagined.  It’s not full of richness in money, but in meaning which is the true fabric of happiness! So why do I not want to celebrate glorious, wonderful me on my birthday? I think it has to do with my perspective. For me, birthdays at this age are more of a time to give thanks rather than be showered with gifts and attention! However, those around me see it as both, and I guess I can’t blame them since I love to celebrate others too, just not myself!

I have no problem turning 40. In fact, there is something about it that I absolutely love! There is a certain unstated eloquence about a woman turning 40 that I’m not sure exists quite as strongly with any other age. There is something about 40 that is tailored in class! I believe it’s all of that lovely “beautiful mess” that I went through for 39 years that has brought me to a new and more accurate awareness of the importance of being grateful, graceful and meaningful in life!

Not everyone wears their age well. To wear it well, you have to be willing to embrace your life and all of the calamities within; yes, your calamities and everyone elses! Take time to share a smile, to laugh and to love especially when you are not in the mood to do so! Forcing peace to prevail and loving others in unexpected ways is what it is all about.  I love how Arthur Katz puts it in the book, Ben Israel:

God knows that what may be ultimately right to do is beyond the reach of my wisdom. Every prayer is filled with requests for His guidance and direction. In the months to come I will be alert for His voice. I am learning to make mine not so strident that it would drown His should it come.

And, indeed, His voice has always been present, but now at the age of 40, I am a much better listener when He speaks!  Children have a better ability to focus as they grow older and their ears become trained to listen! The same holds true with us! Welcoming God’s voice in my life has liberated me to finally be the woman I have always chased after and never quite knew how to become! Now, I can finally say that I have acquired greater wisdom, and it is truly the best birthday gift that I could ever ask for!!

My soul is stretched out in space, in personal commitments, in concepts and ideals, in faith and unbelief, in moral passion and animal hunger and in many other ways. In the process of being drawn taut, I am also being made.

Allowing my entry into the forties to forge me into a new and more fruitful design is where you’ll find me these days! I don’t know how much more living I’ll get to do; but, one thing is for sure, the days won’t be wasted on pleasing and pitying myself. They will be ripened days full of improved balance and increasing bountiful promise!

A great Dr. Seuss book from Amazon.com to try out or put a smile on the face of a dear friend:

Pedicure, Painted Nails and Rosy Lipstick Rules!

English: red nails
English: red nails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve decided on my own that I’m in the mood for a modern day makeover from the past year’s baggage! However, I’m not going to wait for Project Runway’s Tim Gunn to call and invite me over to the show, nor will I wait for my husband to tell me to pack my bags for a weekend at the spa. I simply marked my calendar and informed all those who need to know that it is my self-proclaimed spa day off. Coffee in one hand, keys in the other, I am off to the mall for starters to claim some good deals on the New Year’s sales and clearance events going on and maybe spice up my wardrobe for half the price. Why let the young and childless have all of the spoils? Moms, it’s time to move in on some fun and excitement of your own making before you go any further into this new year! We have to get the year started off right don’t we?

Even if I wear worn sweats and matching worn tennis shoes 6 out of 7 days of the week because I work from home, today’s where it ends, and I treat myself to luxury by doing something that I know that I will love, giving myself the gift of a little “me time”! After spending the last month loving everyone else and keeping the kids busy and entertained while home on vacation, I think I can spend one day out of the month following the Pedicure, Painted Nails, and Rosy Lipstick Rules, so let’s go for it!

Before I slither back into that custom-made routine of babies, bobos and business as usual, I’m going to bring a sparkle of sunshine into the routine, and I invite you to do the same! If you can’t afford to go out for a pedicure, treat yourself to one at home! Do I wait for my husband to buy me roses? No, not anymore. When I need a pick me up boost before going into the kitchen for the millionth time to make a meal, I simply gaze at the fresh bouquet that I treated myself to; then, I look down to admire my painted piggies, and life is good again. I simply carry on having a merry day!

So let’s not wait for anyone else to make us feel beautiful, brilliant and adored, you know you are anyway! Therefore, lavish yourself today and spend a little “me time” whenever you can, enforcing the Pedicure, Painted Nails and Rosy Lipstick Rules for yourself and you’ll soon discover, it beats hanging around on the shelf waiting to get noticed!!!

Love Never Fails

So much has happened this past week that it’s hard to focus on any one thought for more than a moment.   I lost a parent just days ago, my step-father to be exact. His health had been poor for quite some time. Part of the sadness comes from the fact that a decision had to be made on whether to keep him on life support or remove it and allow him to decline at will. It was a unanimous decision that he be removed from life support because no one wanted to see him go on suffering with no quality of life.

The thing that was the most amazing about all of this was not the fact that we were all in agreement on something,  but what was amazing was the healing that would soon transpire among the family members present that day.  Some of us had not spoken in years; however, because of the love we shared for my step-father, along with the shared desire to see him no longer suffering, a peace that surpasses all understanding was present as we took turns talking, praying and bringing comfort and love to his bed side during his last hours.  This was unquestionably, one of the most trying experiences one could ever have, yet we all parted with a new found love and awareness of the wounds that were miraculously healing because each of us surrendered our resentment to let love find it’s ways and bring peace to a barren and broken place.

The love and compassion that we often show our relatives because a family member is dying should not only be shown for the moment, it should be an engrained part of the fabric that makes up each day of our lives together. The odds for most families in our shoes are high that we will fall back into the same patterns and never speak again.  It will be only by the determination of our hearts and the love that we allow ourselves to release that we will continue to see that same healing power at work in our lives continuously. There is always a greater purpose than just ourselves to band together without allowing our own pride and self-indignation to get in the way. That greater purpose is L-O-V-E. We invest so much time preparing the next generation to have successful careers, but invest little to nothing teaching them how to love, value, and preserve the root of their family so that the strength of the family tree will live on. This would be why, sadly, so many families are broken apart.

It was like my father was sending a love letter straight to our hearts as he departed from this earth in the hopes of bringing about the joy and peace among his family that, for so long was missing.  I’m just glad that we each had the ears to hear his letter, and I only hope that we will have the hearts to continue carrying it out.

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

~ Mother Teresa

Best Teen Daughter Dating Tip

Though neither of my two daughters are even close to being in their teens, I gasp at the thought of them bringing home a character better suited to attend a year or two of Gentlemen Training than to spend any time in the company of either of my daughters. So here is my advice:

“If he falls short in any way, don’t stay, simply…..

RUN THE OTHER WAY!”

Now, that’s good advice, simple and straight forward.  A  no nonsense approach to dating right from the start is great training for those years when they become serious about finding their mate for life.  Let’s face it moms, the variations in options that exist in the dating pool for our daughters is cause to stop, think, and shutter!!!  There are far too many beautiful young ladies out here with songs of suffering to share rather than bursting with tunes of joy, harmony, and glee! The last thing we want to see these precious gems doing is settling for anything less than the best!

Don’t worry girls,
about everyone else
or about being alone.
First learn that your life is your own.

Travel, learn, thrive and grow.
First educate your mind,
and then you will better know
who is deserving of your love of a lifetime.

The beautiful uniqueness of a young girl will grow to be of great appeal to the man who will some day call her his wife. No, it’s not too much to expect a man to behave gentlemanly at all times and in all things.  In fact, it needs to be a requirement! A decision to end a relationship should be respected without fear of having to be justified. So let’s teach our young ladies to love their own bodies and minds.  Love themselves enough to know that they don’t have to reveal too much of themselves on the outside for them to be loved on the inside.  Young ladies need to love themselves enough to wait for Valiant Victor rather than settling for Easy Eddy because they are entitled to their happily ever after, and we as moms are entitled to peace of mind after all the hard work we put into raising them. Please lets not forget to constantly remind them where to draw the line!

Cece

8 Ways to Journal Your Way to Healing

If you read my post about fall journaling and you are ready to begin, here are 8 helpful pointers to get your pen motivated and moving with fresh new discoveries awaiting you!

1. Decide what you want to write about. What has inspired you lately? In what area has your life taken a dramatic change, or in what area would you like to see dramatic change occur? When you’ve found your answer, then, you’ve found your subject.

2. Try to make an entry at least once a week. In the beginning when starting something new, it’s good to train yourself for the new routine by doing it often. After one month, you can keep it the same, or give yourself a break and only do an entry bi-monthly or monthly.

3. Give some background on this current time in your life. If you are writing about the new addition to the family, first discuss the anticipation of everyone in the house and how everyone did his or her part to welcome this new life. Giving supporting details will help to highlight why this event is so worth documenting.

4. Be sure to include both ups and downs. When journaling about a difficult subject, it’s easy to only vent about the dark side and forget to mention the lifesavers (those people or things that got you through a rough period when all else failed.)

5. Keep it private. Journaling is very therapeutic. The more honest and open you are about your feelings, the more helpful the process will be. However, remember that this is your own personal project, and if you are going to write about things that you have not shared with others, it is of absolute importance that you keep private information exactly that, private! It is not a good practice either to confront others by leaving your journal out for someone to read and discover information that could be very devastating. So, taking extra effort to keep your journal in a safe private place at ALL times.

6. Maintain organization in your journal(s) by dating each entry and dividing topics. If you uncover a desire to journal about several different topics such as: self-esteem, children, spirituality, diet, career changes, hobbies, a new business or invention, it will be easier to refer back if you separate them. You can do this by recording your thoughts and discoveries in different journals, or in different sections of the same journal, and just separate each section by using small, colored sticky tabs.

7. Review 1 or 2 of your last entries regularly before adding a new one. The reason for review is to help give you perspective about your last entry and to make sure that you are not repeating the same thoughts but, instead, you are moving forward.

8. Finally, we can not leave out affirmations! Affirmations are the meat of journaling your way to a more enlightened you! Losing those 10 lbs of post baby weight that you thought would never come off is a great victory, so affirm yourself by writing it down in words: “I’m a more healthier me and I’m worth a trillion bucks no matter what!” Don’t be afraid to say it loud and say it proud when you accomplish something great!

I’ve been journaling for several years now and love peeking back in time and witnessing first hand the many victories I have won by overcoming fears, limitations, and weaknesses. I’m very encouraged by how far I have come and hope that, you too, will be uplifted by your journaling journey! Today’s a great day to start!

Cece

Fall Journey To Journaling

It seems like only yesterday when summer began and I published my very first post on this site! Now, as the cool crispness of fall closes in and the days grow shorter and the summer sun gently says it’s good-byes, I am reminded, once again, of how quickly time presses on! There are just too many things that I want to hold onto and savor each day and not enough hours to make this happen. This brings me to talk to you about a wonderful way for you and I to make time stand still! It’s “elementary my dear Watson!” It’s also, the art of journaling! Yes, putting pen to paper and journaling those days in which life gives us a clear glimpse of its true meaning. Allowing that, “uh huh moment” to live forever by storing it in the pages of your very own diary to be revisited and refreshed with the turn of a page!

Like a photograph of the heart, journaling allows us to capture a moment and keep it forever. We all experience things in different ways, and recording those experiences in our very own words allows us to reflect on the impact of such moments as your child’s first day of kindergarten, or your memorable summer vacation of 2012. Photographs only scratch the surface, but words, they tell the entire story from our own unique perspective!

Journaling is especially beneficial when we are battling obstacles in our lives, and who doesn’t have obstacles? Last years challenge for me was making the decision to home school my children. I had no idea what to expect, but what I did know was that I was entering unexplored territory, the birthplace of challenges. So, I started journaling my experiences in order to track my progress and also so that I would not miss out on the many valuable lessons that I was learning about education and my teaching strengths and weaknesses as well as that of my children.

If you don’t have much time to dedicate to this, just remember that journaling is time well spent. For me it’s a reminder of why I have decided not to complain. Life’s payout is much more worthwhile when we choose to make lemon meringue pie out of life’s overflowing lemon basket. So, this fall, as the kiddies go back to school and the leaves begin to change, think about how your life has changed course too. Whether it has changed course for the better or worse, when we reflect on the journey that brought us here by writing it down, it is an investment in time that you will someday, literally, look back on and be amazed at the road you have traveled and the discoveries you have benefited from along the way!

Cece

Best Broccoli Salad Recipe

My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe several years ago. It actually helped to enlighten my taste buds on how good broccoli is not to mention how good for you it is. This is the first of many recipe posts that I will be sharing.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the recipes that I, Cece post will always be gluten-free. Having said that, I also want to add that most dishes can be transformed into gluten-free meals with a little knowledge, G-F pantry items and creativity.

Since it’s mid-summer and the thought of turning on the oven is unimaginable, simple salads like this one are a great alternative to cooking on the stove. Now, onto the recipe!

Broccoli Salad
Ingredients:
1 head of broccoli
1 red onion, minced
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 to 1 lb real crumbled bacon

Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP white vinegar

Directions: Mix dressing well and add it to the main ingredients and mix well again. You can also add 1 cup of grated cheese of your choice. I prefer cheddar or mozzarella. Enjoy!

One Woman’s Nightmare on Aging!

I had a most dreaded dream or shall I say nightmare last night. I dreamt that overnight I had literally turned into this horrid, despicable goblin like something out of Lord of the Rings.  It was not a dream that I want to revisit again. However, it served as a reminder that I’m not getting any younger, and if I want to preserve what youth I still have, I must take active steps for that to happen.  I love listening to my young cousins and nieces sharing their beauty secrets and discussing their latest YouTube videos on which shampoos leave your hair bouncy and full of body and which eyeshadow they love best.

I’m aging, don’t look!

Ha!! I’m lucky to have washed or combed my hair on most days. Instead, I just throw on a cap and as for make up, my tube of Chap Stick goes a long way on hot blistering days!

On those rare occasions when I do go out without kids or on a “date night” with my husband, I do pride myself on a well put together me.  And, everyone is absolutely amazed at how well I can clean myself up!  Well, it’s not only during our going out occasions that we should apply some sort of beauty regiment, it’s every day that goes by that we need to pay attention to our appearance.

But, one thing you moms of young ones must remember is that, “it’s okay if yesterday doesn’t look like today.” Just lay out a basic plan such as a daily facial regiment of:  cleansing, exfoliating, and nourishing the skin.  I can’t always get to exfoliating, so I often skip this part until evening (or I skip it all together), but I always try to nourish my face and the sensitive eye area by applying a moisturizer and eye cream each day. It’s essential to fighting wrinkles and keeping dark rings from forming under your eyes.

Also, don’t forget about diet and exercise. Sad to say, but yes we are what we eat. I found that out the hard way when I discovered 2 months ago that I had a gluten intolerance.  However, since elimating greasy fattening fast foods, and saying so long to wheat, I’ve never felt more fit and focused. I also save my exercise time for the evening after the kids are in bed. Just 30 minutes 4 nights a week is good for me, plus all the exercise I get cleaning up crumbs, clothes and kids each day.

Finally, dive into those long-lost lotions and creams filling the bathroom cabinet. Pamper yourself and actually use the bathtub yourself instead of just for cleaning the sour milk out of onesis, and sudsing up dirty children. Pour in some bubbles. Put on some relaxing music, LOCK the door, and soak your troubles and callouses away!  We’ve got to get paid somehow from all the hard work put in at home! Treat your body good ladies so that it will treat you good in return now and well into your golden years!

Cece

Related Links:

http://mak3upstudio.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/glamorous-smoky-eyes/

http://marriageandmedicine.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/adventures-in-makeup-14/

Moms Need Playtime Too!

Moms’ Night Out!

It’s amazing all the time we as parents spend trying to make our children happy. We sign them up for everything under the sun, we buy them everything but the sun, and then, we invite our friends’ children over for play dates out in the sun; yet, we completely overlook the cream of the crop, yes us the parent! We’re lucky to get past our driveway without a toddler hanging on our heels. Yes, this I know. However, having “me time” is an essential part of being a good parent!

We constantly talk about it and complain that it isn’t happening, but until we make that simple conscious effort, the opportunities will continue to be missed as our children and families suffer needlessly because we deny ourselves of such healing treasures as spending quality adult time with our friends. Though, I must say, men, in my opinion, seem to do a better job of getting out to “hang with the guys” than we do with female bonding. There has to be some trustworthy sitter, friend or family member that you can leave the kids with for a few hours if Dad happens to not be around. So, think long and hard, or call a friend who may be able to refer someone.

When we simply won’t break away from our mundane routine no matter how much we yearn for that taste of freedom, we often pay the price in loneliness, burnout, and not enjoying life nor friendships to the fullest! To have that desire to get away doesn’t make us bad parents.  The children may actually look forward to a change too by having someone else in charge. It drives me crazy to hear friends complain about how overwhelmed they are; yet, when they are invited to  getaway, they refuse the invitation! And, why, so they can go another day sulking in a sea of dirty laundry and smelly diapers galore?

Well, here’s the story of how this post transpired. My dear friend Beth had been up to her normal boohooing about her hard life with her boys, and I had been long overdue for an outting of my own. So, I set up a day and time, and told her to meet me at my house in 1800 hours, and I was going to take her to paint the town and not return until the kids were safely nestled in their beds, and we had at least a million laughs! And, guess what? This strange thing happened, the plan actually worked!

It turns out that the Regatta was the perfect place to freshen up our perspectives on life, and since it was 4th of July Eve and there were lots of festivities going on, we decided to make a night of it. First, we ate dinner at a charming little Thai Restaurant (since I am now eating gluten-free, this was a great choice). Then, we took in the culture as we strolled down the buzzing city streets passing street vendors, broadway plays, and amazing art displays on the way down to the Three Rivers and the home of the 35th Annual Pittsburgh Regatta. These are sights that homebound moms don’t get to enjoy very often. Furthermore, we were amazed at the ‘Founding Fatherssand sculpture that was on display! Watch the amazing video footage below! There was also a great band putting on an outdoor concert. So, we spread out a blanket and enjoyed the music along side a mellow audience of both young and old alike. The evening was topped by sharing a funnel cake along with our millionth laugh of the night!

Cece

Four sculptors worked on this two-week project to create a sculpture out of 160 tons of sand depicting the Founding Fathers gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Sandsational Sand Sculpting is out of Melbourne, Florida.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/founding-fathers-emerging-from-160-tons-of-sand-at-point-state-park-642163/#ixzz1zeftcNF7

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