Self Care is an Afternoon Nap

12 steps

Yesterday I worked very hard on a Soulful Sunday post, but didn’t like it so decided to scrap it.  Because I had such a frustrating day I thought I’d treat myself to a bacon cheeseburger.  I made some homemade bread, put half a slice of cheese with bacon in the middle of the hamburger, and grilled it perfectly, added fried onions to the bread, another slice of cheese and catsup for a tasty burger.  It was delicious- and gave me the worst heartburn and stomach ache EVER!  I was up all night with horrible stomach cramps and strange dreams because of the stomach pain. Needless to say I didn’t sleep most of the night, but with a PTSD service dog- sleeping in isn’t much of an option.

I woke up early, as usual.  Got a lot of work done for the website I work for and watched some amazing TED Talks that have inspired Work Through it Wednesday’s post.  You all can look forward to an amazing New Year’s Resolution post, I promise.  But today was pretty much a wash.  So… I did the ultimate in self-care.

I TOOK A NAP!

Because some days the best thing you can do for yourself is go back to bed.  But if you are interested in the TED Talks, here is the link!

http://www.ted.com/playlists/8/a_better_you.html

 

 

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Eggs Benedict

my first attempt at Eggs Benedict- Dec. 24th

my first attempt at Eggs Benedict- Dec. 24th

You can’t get a body like mine if you hate food- so I obviously love food.  One of my favorite dishes is Eggs Benedict.  If it’s on the menu at a restaurant I usually order it.  I have never made it at home.  There is something about poaching eggs that seemed daunting, so I avoided it. I finally got the courage Christmas Eve to try making it myself.  Here is the recipe; http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/hollandaise-sauce-recipe/index.html

Hollandaise Sauce
2000 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:10 minInactive Prep Time: — Cook Time:10 min

Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Pinch cayenne
Pinch salt
Directions
Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

EGGS BENEDICT
8 slices Canadian bacon
4 English muffins, split
2 teaspoons white vinegar
8 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hollandaise sauce, recipe above
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Brown the bacon in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.

Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break 1 of the eggs into the water taking care not to break it. Repeat with remaining eggs. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. To assemble: Lay a slice of Canadian bacon on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings

Here is a video of how to poach eggs that I found very helpful-

Wednesday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go.
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

I’m not actually sure I was born on a Wednesday, but considering that 2013 has been a balance between great accomplishments and stunning defeats- I can say for sure that 2013 must have started on a Wednesday!  I’m going to dedicate Wednesdays to dealing with the things that bring me the most woe.  Each Wednesday will be about goals, either short term or long term, and reporting my progress weekly.  My main goal is not to turn every Wednesday into a woe is me, pity party for one, blog- although there is nothing wrong with those.  But my goal is to remain positive.  I’ll set a goal, I’ll keep you all updated, and I’ll be grateful for advice, encouragment and even a swift kick in the butt if I need it. So starting today- Wednesday is about working through it.

Because today is Christmas, it would be very easy for me to “woe is me” about being away from family, not having any gifts to open or being single during the holidays, while my unfaithful ex is celebrating with his fiancé before we’ve even filed for divorce.  Believe me I have plenty of reasons to feel sorry for myself today and everyday.  But I don’t- and I won’t.  On the surface, my life looks like a mess.  I’m getting a divorce, I’m unemployed, I’ll be homeless soon, and I have issues that seem to prevent me from “finding love”.  I could easily succumb to all of the stress, guilt and tragedies that life has handed me… or I could, one day at a time, one step at a time, make the most of what I do have.  Because under the surface, I have a lot!

If I take a moment to appreciate what I have, I can accomplish what may seem impossible.  I am getting a divorce, and that’s sad.  But the joy in it is that I won’t have to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate or support me.  I am unemployed, and that’s scary.  But the joy in that is that I’ve just graduated from college and am free to move anywhere in the world to pursue my dreams… MY DREAMS! I will be homeless soon and that sucks.  But the joy in that is that for now I have a beautiful house, food on the table and a closet full of clothes, and more importantly the ability to find a place that is just right for me and those dreams I’m pursuing. I am dealing with a lot of issues concerning relationships; trust, abuse, sex, and self-esteem to name a few. But the joy in that is that I’m learning that I can make better choices.

Obviously I have a lot to work through and there is no better time or place to start than right now, right here. My very first and most important goal is to find a full-time job.  I am planning on returning to my home state, to be near family and friends.  So I need a job as a writer, photographer or marketing manager.  I need an affordable place to live with a yard to accomodate my two dogs.  I also need an equitable divorce settlement, to be free from the past.  Once I have accomplished those goals, or even while I’m working toward them I can work on the other stuff too.

One of the projects I’m contemplating involves photography-

I’ve finally joined the 21st century and gotten on Instagram.  What I would like to do is spend the month of January photographing things along a theme.  I think that the theme should reflect something I want more of in my life.  So if you’re reading this, leave me a comment/vote about which theme you would like to see me photograph.  And if you are so inclined, feel free to take the challenge with me!

Possible themes;

Love

Kindness

 Peace

Happiness

Abundance

Blessings

Creativity

Beauty

Once the theme is set, I’ll begin photographing things daily along the lines of the theme.  You’ll be able to see them on my Instagram  acherry67@Instagram.com or you can wait until Friday, when I’ll post them all here.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that what you desire, what you focus your attention on begins to grow. Energy isn’t static or limited, you can’t use it all up.  If you focus your energy on something, you can make it happen, almost by magic.   It’s kind of like thinking about red cars and the only thing you begin to see on the road is red cars.  It doesn’t mean that green, blue, silver or black cars aren’t on the road- but because you’re focused on red cars, they magically seem to multiply.  Change isn’t really about magic or rocket science, it’s simply about seeing things differently.

I may not get everything I ask for, I might not get everything I deserve in life.  But if I focus my energy, my time and my skills on something I can achieve it.  One of my very favorite quotes is from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”, I love it so much I’ve created a tattoo around the idea of it.  The character of Catherine talks about searching and searching for something and not being able to find it, because sometimes we’re just focused to narrowly.  Sometimes when we stop looking for that one thing, we can see all the things we already have-

 

Good morning- what can I do for me today?

nurtureWhen I woke up this morning, I looked at my reflection and asked- “What can I do for me today?”

I can hear the excuses now; I don’t have time to pamper myself, I have responsibilities.  I have kids, I have a spouse, I have a full-time job, I have school, I have deadlines, it’s the holidays, etc.  And if you want me to agree that all of your excuses are valid, you won’t get an argument from me. I’m not advocating for the total abandonment of your responsibilities… obviously that’s not realistic.  What I am advocating is that instead of putting your self-care at the bottom of that list of priorities,you instead move it up to the top- just for one day a week.  Maybe you can’t manage a whole day, maybe it’s just an hour, just a few minutes- you do what you feel is enough for you and you won’t hear me argue.  

The priority of Meaningful Monday is to do something meaningful for yourself- so that you can relax, renew, and recharge.  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in service to others as an EMT is that you have to be healthy to care for those who are sick or injured.  Think about the last time you were really, really sick- did you push yourself to hard?  Did you try to achieve the same goals while you were sick as you would when you were healthy?  Did you notice a difference?  Weren’t things much more difficult because you were sick?  And did the world end if you stopped andasked someone else to do it for you, until you felt better?  Did you let yourself have time to heal up-and discover that given a little time off you healed faster vs. trying to continue your normal schedule with the burden of illness?  How many of us push through an illness or injury, only to make it much worse, which causes more delays in getting back to “normal”?  *raises hand*

I’m really stubborn when it comes to being sick- I try to fool myself into believing that if I’m not there to do it all, it won’t get done, or won’t get done well without me.  The truth, if we’re living our lives connected with others, someone shares our priorities and will make sure they’re fulfilled, we deserve a break and should consider it preventative medicine.  So instead of thinking of Meaningful Monday as a selfish indulgence, think of it as taking a mental health vitamin!

So what am I going to do for me today?

I’ve actually been giving this a lot of thought today.  Mostly because the usual indulgences are too expensive or not feasible during this holiday week.  I would normally get a massage, or maybe get my nails done, something I haven’t done in years!  The other alternative is to treat myself to a home spa treatment, take a long bubble bath, with candles, wine  and break open that box of chocolates I’ve been saving for a special day. All very good choices for a Meaningful Monday.  But I’m considering something even more indulgent.

As I begin this journey of healing, I’ve begun examining my past.  I’m resurecting old holiday memories, analyzing, sifting and examining. Aside from the usual tragedies of life, I had a great childhood.  Christmas was one of my favorite holidays, not because of the presents, but because of the happy family memories. Making cookies with my mom and grandmothers.  Holding the life-size baby Jesus statue as my grandfather, father and uncle set up the Church’s manger. Setting out cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, not being able to sleep hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Driving through town to see all the beautiful Christmas lights on our way to church. Watching those cheesy Christmas TV shows like “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Listening to Perry Como or Andy Williams sing Christmas carols.  What I have always loved about Christmas was the traditions, I’ve always been facinated by traditions of other cultures.  I’ve even adopted a few from the places around the world I’ve lived or visited.    So as I ask myself what can I do for me, traditions come to mind.

I’ve been resurecting memories trying to remember where certain traditions came from or why others ended.  Memories are tricky, the balance between what actually happened and what we remember can be weighted. Traditions change because we change. The first Christmas without my grandfather meant we stopped setting up the life size manger at church.  When both my grandmothers died, making the cookies they taught me to make became a painful reminder of their absence.  Getting married and moving away meant I wasn’t able to drive through town to see the lights with my family.  Even though I adopted new traditions to accomodate my new life, somehow it’s never given me as much joy, the expectations were never as fulfilling as the reality.

I’m not crazy enough to think that I can go back and correct the wrongs of my past.  It’s over, and I’m over it.  But what if today, just for today I indulged my five year old self?  At five I was still innocent enough to believe in Santa, my grandparents were all still alive, and Christmas was a wonderful time to be a kid.  So for today I’m going to imagine that my five year old self just knocked on my front door.  I’m going to spend the day entertaining her and indulging her- just like I would one of my nieces if they lived nearby.

We’ll make cookies.  We’ll watch those cheesy Christmas specials.  We’ll go for a drive later and look at all the pretty lights.  We’ll listen to Perry Como and Andy Williams sing Christmas carols.  We might even go shopping for a special Christmas treat just for us.

What will you do for you today?

What does prayer mean to you?

Prayer

So I should ask…what does prayer mean to you?

For some people prayer means asking God for something, thanking God for something or maybe acknowledging something in someone else.  We all have different versions of prayers, prayer means different things to different people.  For me there are four ways I pray, and I do it every single day!

Prayer One; Meditation

In 2012 I learned a form of Vedic meditation that has literally saved my life.  Everyday, twice a day for 20 minutes a day I sit in meditation.  I repeat a mantra, selected specifically for me and allow the deep peace of meditation to cleanse me of my stresses.  I have noticed a significant difference between myself before and after meditation.  Before meditation I was struggling with my PTSD symptoms, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed by crowds and strange places.  After mediation I have found a lessening of those symptoms.  They’re not gone completely, but they’re much more managable now.  With meditation I can balance the daily stresses of life.  Without meditation, those days when I forget or skip a session, I feel it.  I feel angry, weepy or tired.  Meditation works for me and I’m blessed to have it in my life.

Prayer Two; Thank You

It may seem simplistic to say thank you and call it a prayer, but there is more to it than just being grateful or accepting a compliment.  Thank you to me is being grateful for every moment and seeing it as an opportunity for growth.  I’m not just thankful for the good things, but the bad things as well.  Deepak Chopra talks about using the acronym STOP- Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed with love and kindness.  Thank you is my STOP moment, it’s me thanking the Universe or God or Spirit for giving me a moment to do better.  Rather than getting caught up in the moment and merely reacting, the Thank You prayer gives me a chance to really choose a better way.  Thank You for bringing this anger to my attention- how can I do better?  Thank you for bringing this sadness to my attention- how can I change this?  Thank you for bringing this happiness to my life- how can I share it with others?  Thank you is an important prayer that reminds me to be in the moment- thank you!

Prayer Three; Please?

Some people treat the Please prayer as their personal bargainning chip with God, the Universe or Spirit.  Dear God, please give me this or that and I’ll do this or that for you. I’ve always believed that God is within us- so bargainning with God is kind of like promising yourself you’ll do something when you give yourself something you need.  For me the Please prayer is more about asking for a truth to be revealed to you, and that truth may be that you don’t need what you’re asking for in the first place.

Here is my example of how the Please prayer works.  I’m often late.  I don’t mean to be, but I get absorbed in activities and forget to give myself more time to get places.  So I’m often asking for no traffic delays, freedom from speeding tickets, or a good parking place when I get there. When I ask for these favors, they’re often granted- but on occasion they aren’t.  When the answer to the Please prayer is no or not right now, there is always a good reason.  I’ve come to learn that when the answer is no or not now, it’s because something better is in my path if I just look for it.  So I didn’t get that really close parking place-maybe it’s because I’m meant to walk a few blocks so I can run into an old friend or smile at someone who really needs to see a friendly face, something I would have missed if I had been on time or parked close.  The Please prayer for me is about learning it for myself, learning about what is inside me and recognizing that although I think I need this one thing to happen, it might be different from what I’m expecting.  One of my favorite lines from the “Wizard of Oz” is from Glinda the Good Witch;

“Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

Dorothy: I have?

Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”

Prayer Four; Namaste

This is a prayer I’m working on manifesting daily.  The definition of Namaste is-the divine in me recognizes and honors the divine in you. This really resonates with me as writer.  I firmly believe that we all have a story-and if someone is willing to listen we can recognize that our stories are all the same.  There are different players and different circumstances to each of our individual stories, but the underlying struggle and emotions are similar.  We’re all connected, it’s that simple.  Feeling, seeing and believing in that connection is what love is meant to be, and it’s something I struggle to believe in.  Namaste is about accepting your worth, your divine presence and your mission in life, along with realizing that we all struggle in this journey.

I can blame others for hurting me, or I can recognize that the hurt I feel wasn’t their fault.  Not to say that I’ll become a doormat, lying down to be trampled over by anyone with an axe to grind, unaware of their own divinity.  But the prayer Namaste for me means forgiveness…forgiving myself, forgiving others and forgiving the past mistakes by acknowledging how they’ve served me. I am who I am because of my past.  I won’t forget the wrongs, but dwelling on them is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Likewise if someone hurts me I don’t have to allow them to repeat the hurt.  You don’t have to participate in every argument you’re invited to, NO is an acceptable answer.  So for me Namaste is recognizing the divine, and being aware that some people can’t recognize the divine and I don’t have to invite them to my divine party until they can recognize the divine.

Those are my prayers… how do you pray? Do you pray? What power does prayer have in your life?

Defying Gravity

ELPHABA: I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!

I started this blog awhile ago, and then left it.  I felt as though it had to be perfect, one part Jane Austen and one part Nora Ephron.  Until I realized those two women were really great at being Jane and Nora, but neither was very good at being Amanda.  For a good portion of my life I lived in the shadow of self-doubt, believing I was meant for something great but convinced I was somehow unworthy of it.  I became an expert on making everyone else good while I was trapped in this wicked circle of limitations.
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’ve faced my fair share of tornados, the kind that rip your soul from it’s foundations.  As a woman of my age, I have loved and been loved in return, both given and lost.  I’m currently facing a major life change.  After being married for 16 years to someone with a mental illness, I’ve decided to stop being a caretaker, and become someone who cares for herself.

I’d sooner try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down.

Like many women before and after my time, I have experienced the violence of being a woman in a man’s world.  I found myself struggling to prove my worth by standards designed to disprove my value.  I’ve sometimes been accused of riding the broomstick of bitterness in the wake of tragedy.  I’ve lived through personal tragedy like sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence as well as serving in the military and as an Emergency Medical Technician, all of which have contributed to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor and I have a story to tell to anyone who’s willing to listen.

 So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”

This isn’t a blog about tragedy or dwelling on my past mistakes, I’ve shed enough tears. And it isn’t to say that my life wasn’t filled with grand adventures or major accomplishments, there were those too.  As someone said of me recently, when I set my mind to something it happens, almost as if by magic! But for those who are privileged to peer behind the curtain, nothing in my life happened by magic- blood. sweat and tears were shed. But if you knew me, you’d know that my strength, my determination, and my passion is what helps me defy gravity.

And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity

Lyrics from “Defying Gravity” by Stephen Schwartz 2003 Wicked the Musical

So the structure of this blog will be simple.  I’ve promised myself I’d write at least every other day.  I want to absorb what I’ve learned, hear from you about your take on issues we all face, and hopefully share a few laughs! Here is how it will look, although it could change.

Soulful Sunday- I’m a gatherer or a spiritual seeker.  Every Sunday I want to have a conversation about how you and I feed our souls.  Maybe it’s through an organized religion, maybe it’s through a connection with nature, maybe it’s by doing something creative.  However you feed your soul- I hope you’ll share in mine.

Mindful Monday- I’ve spent a long time doing for others above and beyond what I do for myself.  That’s not healthy! So on Mondays I’m going to find a way to do something just for me.  I learned years ago as an EMT never to run to the scene of an accident… not that helping others isn’t an urgent priority, but if you get hurt you can’t help others. So by giving to myself I can better give to others.

Work through it Wednesday- I’m in the midst of some major life changes.  I’ve recently graduated from college at age 46, going through a divorce, and potentially moving out of state. Plus I suffer from PTSD, which is a daily struggle to overcome.  Life is not always easy, and sometimes I need to document the struggle.  Not for the purposes of succumbing to the negativity or depression, but to find a way to work through it.  I might start a diet, exercise routine, or new project and need advice or support. You might find inspiration or give some advice to help me through it.  Only light can dispell the darkness, but the darkness has to be known.

Food and Fun Friday- Fridays are going to be dedicated to fun.  I’m always having to push myself out of the house to overcome my PTSD urge to isolate.  It may be something big like going to a concert, photographing a special event or seeing a play.  Or it might be something small like cooking myself a special meal. If you are one of those people who are annoyed by Facebook or Instagram photos of people’s meals… avoid Fridays on this blog!  Okay, I have to confess that I love to cook almost as much as I love photography.  So Fridays may be the time that I post photos of really great meals! Sorry if it makes anyone hungry! I think Fridays will be heavy on the photography as it is my passion!

So that’s where this blog is headed.  I hope you’ll join me for the journey.  I want to bring abundance, positivity, love and success into my life.  I plan on defying gravity as often as possible.