Tag Archives: simple pleasures

Reminder: I DO Have a Life

I’ve had a life for a long time. And it doesn’t only revolve around the kids or even Jerry. As all of them are less home-centered and stretching to new places, I am reminded of two things: 1) It’s okay to cry 2)I DO have a life outside of my family.

Part of a BENew journey is embracing changes. In the last year I’ve processed lifestyle changes, thinking differently about food and movement. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) the changes that comes with having a different body. As my homeschooling family is growing up by leaps and bounds, I process change again. I hope to transition well, to give my loved ones wings to soar solo and to stretch new wings myself.

Today’s pictures are a celebration of this other part of my life, the world of writers, where I find community and stretch for new heights. Colorado has a lot of wonderful opportunities for writers. As Colorado Coordinator, I’m most involved with ACFW Colorado, but there’s a wonderful spirit of cooperation in our area with other writers groups, including Words for the Journey. A few weeks ago a bunch of writers, both WFTJ and ACFW members, gathered at the invitation of WFTJ to a “write-out” at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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My thoughtful friend and fellow author, Megan DiMaria, makes sure I know about this event each summer and invites me to share it with her and the others.

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Megan used to be teased at her work because she brought a beautiful tablecloth to enjoy her sack lunch upon. She’s one of those rare people who truly savors beauty, and the Broadmoor is is a Megan kind of place.

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My Broadmoor day was so filled with magic, that I just had to dance in the empty ballroom.

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I pray I can dance into and through this latest transition of celebrating kids who do crazy things like get married and go to college.

And, because this blog started to process weight loss, I’ll admit it. I also pray I can ignore comfort food and seek comfort that makes a difference. This latest test of my new lifestyle is fierce and with it comes cravings I really should ignore. They only mask the real need, for me to recognize the passing season and give permission for mourning.

When Stephen drove away for his first day of “real” school away from me, I curled up in my old blue recliner and had a little talk with the Lord. I cried some, not sobs, but big bubbles of tears that slid silent and wet down my cheeks. But they are not just sad tears, they are proud tears, too.

This is how it should be, this transition, this quiet house. And I must remember to let the tears fall, take a walk, listen to music, or read a little, instead of reaching for some big cheesy mess.

How about you? What tempts you to run to the arms of comfort food? What do you do instead?

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Comfort or crash?

Extraordinary Ordinary

Life’s simple pleasures come in the ordinary, especially when someone is intentional about eking extra good out of what’s in front of them. (After my¬†sniffling momma post on Wednesday, I’m thinking I need to embrace the joys of the good days, not just wallow in “those” days.)

Extraordinary happened for me the end of July when Sam played a double-header. Jerry didn’t have to work until later in the day and got to come to the first game.

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While the boys warmed up, he took my hand and led me on an adventure.

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The games were played at Chatfield High, which is in the greater SW Denver area, close to the foothills. Just a few steps behind the school lay a golf course, tennis courts, and a soccer field. But best of all was an untamed area, wilder than my treks through the neighborhood with foliage more desert plain than what I’d enjoyed in the mountains.

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It sung its own song, and despite prickly flowers and dry earth, we found much beauty (and a tennis ball and two golf balls, but that’s another story.)

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As usual, I was especially drawn to the yellows,

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pinks, and purples.

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But even the dry browns held a unique artistry.

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Our walk was brief, but the long, repeated flights of stairs back to the ball field made me feel I’d earned my lunch.

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Working movement into our day was only part of the importance of this snapshot of living. It was really about grabbing hold of a little bit of life, a fleeting moment that could just as easily have been lost as I sat bored, waiting for the next game to start.

Instead my hubby invited me on a mini-date. We admired God’s creation. We held hands. We were together. We saw something new.

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Eking extraordinary from ordinary

Summer Joy

rhubarbEmbracing life’s simple pleasures brings joy. One of summer’s gifts in Colorado is rhubarb. Though incredibly tart, when mixed with a sugar, honey, or strawberries, it is delightful!

It’s also a gorgeous plant, hardy, and resilient. I’ve given mine very little care, but it comes back, year after year. It does require a lot of water if you want it to bear repeatedly throughout the summer, and over-harvesting can ruin your return. Only a third of the plant should be harvested at time. Also, the plant should not be allowed to flower. When blooms start to form, remove the stalk where they grow. Allowing the plant to flower reduces return.

My favorite rhubarb dish is homemade pie. My husband loves rhubarb sauce. He makes a steaming hot loaf of homemade wholewheat bread, covers it in real cream, then covers that in rhubarb. Sarah thinks rhubarb is best when mixed with strawberries. Stephen rates Miss Monique’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam at the top.

One of my favorite rhubarb stories includes our foreign exchange student from Spain. Before coming to my house he’d never been introduced to pie or to rhubarb. His first few days here he was tenuous about trying such things, IMAG2030even apple pie during our Fourth of July celebration. But after he was here a few weeks he grew bolder–and rhubarb pie became a favorite. He even admitted to getting up in the middle of the night and having a piece! Before returning to his homeland we’d convinced him that pie is one of the USA’s best pleasures.

Part of sustaining my BeNew journey is giving myself permission to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like rhubarb pie. I can’t eat heavy calorie treats like this at every meal or even every day, but enjoyed in balance with good fresh fruits and vegetables and a mile or two walk through the neighborhood, enjoying life’s good stuff keeps me happy and able to maintain my weight loss goals.

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Rhubarb: a simple pleasure

Lifestyle Change and Companionship

neighborhood walk 17Mindful eating. Intentional movement. They DO make a difference.

With the support of BeNew, the changes I’ve made resulted in a body I’m comfortable in. But with contentment comes complacency if I’m not careful! When even the new clothes hang a bit big it is easier to take that extra slice of pizza like I did while watching a movie Sunday night.

But being obese for several years taught me that I can’t let that kind of thing go unchecked and maintain a healthy body. So I ate smart the Monday after and followed it up with a wonderful 5 mile walk with my hubby.

neighborhood walk 12Walking is such a simple pleasure. When Jerry joins me it’s like a date only with no calories or $$ spent! We roam the neighborhood together, and the conversation goes deeper. Everything looks brighter. We’re tapping into those love languages of quality time and companionship even as we get healthier.

Often we talk about the stuff that really matters, the kinds of things that just don’t come out over the dinner table. Investing in time together reminds us that after 24 years of marriage, we’re still best friends.

Even though we usually cover familiar territory, we often discover patches of beauty we haven’t noticed before. The bright yellow flowers next to a wooden fence take me back to my small town, turned country upbringing.

I was surprised when right night to a busy road we discovered grapes growing!

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I often see foliage I’d love to add to my yard, like these creeping flowers.

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The other day we walked right beneath a tree with something berry-like growing in the leaves. I have no idea what they are, but it was a fun discovery, seen only because we were at exactly the right angle to spot them.

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Starting a BeNew journey can feel overwhelming. Cutting back on unhealthy, high-calorie food can feel like deprivation. But it is truly worth the life-change when you get your body back, enjoy a walk, and smell the roses.

How can you embrace life’s simple pleasures, pouring into a new healthier you instead of giving into feeling deprived?

Many times on my BENew journey the answer was to simply take a walk and invite my best friend.

An Idea from the Veggie Challeged

salsa peanutsYup. Been on the health journey since October 24th. Nope. Still don’t love vegetables. I have improved slightly. I now eat cucumber. I had a slice of zucchini (but I’m not sure it counts because it was baked with cheese on top.) And I eat actually like cantaloupe. (Yes, I know it isn’t a veggie, but it’s healthy, okay?)

So here’s my latest tip for getting a salad down when you don’t like veggies. It wasn’t quite as good as last week’s green grape and cashews, but it’ll do in a pinch. It’s also a tip for digging around your house when you don’t want to go to the grocery store and just trying something a little different based on what you find. (Consider that a money saving tip, too. It’s amazing what you can come up with by saving your $$ and shopping your cupboards.)

This fabulous salad is spinach, honey roasted peanuts, and raisins. (The other serving on the plate is ¬†lasagna. And that’s a praise report ’cause I was super stressed the day we had this, and a friend “happened” to hand me a lasagna so I wouldn’t have to cook that night. I got so much done with the “what to make for dinner” issue solved with no effort!)

I’m enjoying the simple pleasures–like not cooking or a salad with honey roasted peanuts–one day at a time. How about you? What is your simple pleasure today?

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A salad idea from the veggie challenged

Another Sidewalk . . . Uh Road

Who would’ve thought a simple neighborhood walk could be a slice of heaven?

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Then again, when the neighborhood is in Breckenridge, CO, maybe you’d expect it. Since one of my new life pursuits is seeing the world one sidewalk at a time, I couldn’t wait to pound the pavement near the cabin where I stayed with my girl friends a few weeks ago. The trek didn’t disappoint. It was a road, not a sidewalk, but the views were incredible.

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After 25 years in Colorado I can honestly say there is only one other time I’ve seen wildflowers as prolific as they were that week. And these pictures are in town, not even on the mountains trails.

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Of course even in Breckenridge some yards are more cultivated.

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Seeing the world on foot has many benefits. Your skin drinks in the sunshine, which includes vitamin D and helps fight depression. Your body is moving, burning calories and releasing endorphins. Your heart and lungs get a great workout–especially at elevation! And there’s plenty of time to chat with a good friend. The cars whiz by in a hurry, but you are enjoying life, breathing deeply, enjoying the little things.

You also never know when you might bump into someone else’s creativity.

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The great thing about mountain living is a home worth several million can be right next to one where a man can park his dinosaur AND his tractor right by the front door.

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My friends and I walked this route several times. Each one revealed something new. Only once did I return wet and cold. So cold, in fact, I couldn’t move my fingers.

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I don’t know where the sidewalk might take you today, but I hope you slip away on your lunch hour or stroll your neighborhood as the sun is sinking. I hope you see something you haven’t noticed before– cool shadows from a skyscraper, a child selling lemonade, a beautiful flower, or the sunlight on leaves. As you walk, take a snapshot with your mind or with your phone. Then tell me about it. I’d love to hear what YOU discover as you burn calories one sidewalk at a time.

Burning calories one sidewalk at a time

If you’re considering walking, check out my friend Marie’s blog. She is the queen of exploring her world on foot and a real inspiration for me.