Impressionable Future

So much of the person we are today was taught to us and molded from our childhoods. From our values to our self-esteem, we start picking up on ques at a young age. Being an adult now, I have started to think about the affect that what I say and do will have on the children around me.

I remember being an impressionable young woman and looking up to other females around me. Hearing the critiques that adults had about themselves made me, in some respects, more critical of myself. It was hard to be confident in myself when women who I thought were beautiful would talk  about their “flaws” frequently. Weight was a big factor in these discussions. I want to premise this by saying that I have been 5′ 6″ and curvy since I was in the sixth grade. It was frustrating for me to hear women who were smaller in stature than me to negatively comment on their weight.

If and when I have children, I want to try my hardest to refrain from using negative self-talk around them. Weight can be such a dangerous topic and I don’t want my daughter (or son) to feel like their worth is correlated to the number on a scale. It can be incredibly easy to become obsessed with weight, weight-loss, diet, and food consumption which is a slippery slope to begin at any age, let alone as young person.

The things we say often affect the people around us more than we realize. We should focus on positive self-talk and influencing those around us to think more positively.  We should be molding our future leaders into strong and independent individuals instead of instilling our own self-doubt into the children growing around us.

Live radiantly for yourself and your loved ones.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

One Last Breath

I have been thinking about death a lot in the past few weeks. How does it feel to have death’s door opening for you? What happens after death? Why do we, as the loved ones of death’s tenants, grieve the way that we do? There is so much that is unknown about death to the average layman. I have been thinking about my death too. I don’t want that day to approach anytime soon, but when it is my time to pass, what are my wishes? It may never be the “perfect” time to have these conversations, but I do think that now is as good of a time as any.

As I wrote previously, my step-grandmother passed away on December Thirty-First. Just last week we said our goodbyes at the viewing and funeral. But death doesn’t give anyone reprieve. Today, January Thirteenth, my great-grandmother took her final breath and drifted into the unknown.

I feel sad, but I feel okay. Death was a drawn-out process for her – like I said with my step-grandma, Dementia is a brutal disease that strips away a person’s identity. I have so many great memories with my grandma. She is the grandparent that I spent the most time with as a child. My great-grandparents have lived on the same property as my dad for over twenty years. Every Sunday was a family dinner at their house. Every holiday was spent together. Half of my summers were spent with my great-grandma for years. The world has lost a great teacher/wife/grandmother/friend/mother… and she has finally found peace.

Everyone’s death is treated differently depending on religion, culture, the departed one’s wishes, family beliefs… In English class last semester, we read quite a bit about not only the process of preparing a body after death, but also about how differently death can be celebrated.

That got me thinking…why, in my experience, do we wear all black? Why is it such a solemn occasion? This is where my ideas stemmed from about how I want my death (and life) to be celebrated. Death and grieving is already such a sad and painful experience without the services. I want my funeral to be a celebration of my life here on Earth. I want my loved ones to know that, regardless of how long my journey has been (will be), it has been magnificent. I don’t want everyone dressed in black – I want them to wear what makes them feel beautiful regardless of color or pattern. I want them to share the stories that remind them of the kind of person I was (am). I want them to laugh and I want them to be together. There will be no somber music or preaching. I want this to be a time that they can reminisce on the happy moments that we shared instead of mourning my death. I want them to know that I appreciate and love them all dearly and that I am okay.

Life is such a beautiful thing and deserves to be celebrated.

I love you and miss you, grandma. I am glad you found peace.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Low-Sodium Diet

Today I want to talk with you about how a change in diet can improve your health. But first, I want to announce that I am going to be posting 3 times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) instead of every day. Live has been so incredibly hectic and I want to focus on quality instead of quantity.

So, let’s talk about food. I feel like society treats food as a reward when really it’s fuel for our bodies. Think about it this way: we go out for meals with friends to socialize, holidays revolve around food, and people often use food for comfort. When I was focused on diet culture, it was hard to break away from the idea of treating my progress with food. I had to retrain my brain to look at food as a fuel source instead of a reward for a job-well-done. There are so many other great (and healthier) ways to treat ourselves including reading a new book, renting a movie, relaxing in the tub with a bath-bomb, painting my nails, face masking, or really anything else that I enjoy. Learning how to intuitively eat has been a game-changer for me.

Working in healthcare, I get the opportunity to meet a lot of people suffering from chronic conditions. Since switching from pediatrics to adult care, I realized that a huge epidemic in our country is hypertension (high blood pressure). I see entirely too many people each day that either have untreated high blood pressure or are on medications to help manage the condition. Some people will even need to be transferred to the hospital from our office because of hypertensive crisis. High blood pressure can lead to headaches, epistaxis (bloody noses), heart disease, stroke, and even death. If you have high blood pressure or think you might, I strongly suggest talking with your PCP (primary care physician) about diet changes that could help your condition.

Before we became vegetarian, my husband started to have pre-hypertension. We were monitoring his blood pressure (BP) regularly because of symptoms he was having and lo and behold, his BP was consistently elevated. This is when we finally made the change to become vegetarians and more health-conscious beings.

Not only did we stop eating meat, but we started reading the labels on foods we were buying. It was amazing (disgusting) to see how much unnecessary salt was added to the foods we were eating.

We decided to eat less pre-packaged foods. Salt is used to elongate the shelf life of products and, although it does a great job keeping foods preserved, it has a huge impact on people’s blood pressure. Making products homemade instead of purchasing from a store can help you limit your salt intake tremendously.

My cousin always added salt to every food he ate, but if you are trying to work on lowering your BP, ex-nay on the added salt-ay.

If you are craving a salty flavor, try salt-alternatives such as Bragg’s liquid aminos instead of soy sauce or vinegar instead of salad dressings. These are great options for a salty kick without a lot of sodium (if there is any at all).

After changing our diet to plant-based, my husband stopped having dizziness and headaches. His blood pressure decreased and it has been well controlled. Not everyone will have these results, but it is a great idea to talk with your doctor about controlling your hypertension with diet.

Take care of yourself.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Recenter Yourself

This year has started off as a whirlwind of emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger…anything you could think of have been packed into this first week.

We are in the process of closing on our very first home which comes with financial restrictions, stress, anxiety, excitement,… There are two things you should know about me: 1) I am not a patient person – I like things with instant gratification 2) I am a planner – I don’t like when a lot of variables are up in the air.

With that being said, My entire life has been flipped upside down for the last week or so.

I need to find my center in the chaos. I need to refocus my energy into peace and positivity.

Things are tough right now, but I need to focus on the big picture – this will all be worth it when we are living in a home that we own with my husband working as an RN and our financial situation being more comfortable. We just need to push through these next couple of years. We have been through some really tough things and we passed through it all; this will be no different.

My body has been yearning for exercise. I have been sick most of the past month, but I am feeling stronger and healthier now. I hope that running and exercising will help me to relieve some built-up stress and frustration.

Hydration is a huge focus for me right now too. It is something I have been doing quite well at and I am excited to continue treating my body to what it needs most.

It’s time for some deep breathing, meditation, and hope. Every little thing is gonna be alright.

How has your new year started? If things haven’t been as glamorous as you’d hoped, what are you going to do to change that?

You got this.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Conflicted Feelings

Yesterday was an incredibly emotional day for me.

It all started with us house-hunting. We finally got to see the home in-person that we have been looking at online and we fell in love. We put an offer on it and eventually, after some discussion, we agreed on a price. It was a very exciting moment.

On our way home, my brother called. Our great-grandma (dad’s grandma) is actively dying from pneumonia. The doctor called and said she won’t last another two days with us on Earth. When I got home, my brother picked me up and we went to the nursing home. We met my dad (whom I have not seen in years) and great-grandfather in the parking lot and walked in together. It broke my heart to see how painful this was for my grandpa. She doesn’t remember him anymore and she only moved her arms to move his hand away. Dementia is a horrible disease. It not only hurts the patient, but the family too. They watch their loved one die long before their heart stops beating.

My dad’s father is at the same nursing home, so we went to visit him too. When we got there, a woman (I’m assuming another resident) was sitting in her wheelchair beside his bed and holding his hand. Oh, and he had the nerve to talk about my grandma (his wife) calling and talking with her. All while holding this woman’s hand. It was one of the most infuriating and uncomfortable moments of the week.

Then I had to rush home, change, and go to my Grandma Pat’s viewing. She looked beautiful – the funeral home did a great job. The floral arrangements were gorgeous. The slideshow of photos that I helped my mom with shown on a screen in the back of the room. The photo collages we put together the night before were displayed throughout the room. It was a good way to commemorate a great woman.

When the viewing was finished, my brother took my husband and I out to one of our favorite local Indian restaurants. It was nice to have time with two of my favorite people.

At this point, I felt sick and tired. My nose is running, I’m sneezing, my throat hurts – my whole body hurts, and I have started to cough. My brain feels like it’s in a fog. I think stress has affected my immune system and a virus took advantage of this opportunity.

Some days are more emotional than others. Some days will be great and others will be horrible. Honestly, some moments will be wonderful and others will be horrifying. It was such a conflicting day for me. It’s okay to be stressed out, but do what you can to take care of yourself. Don’t let one bad moment take over your whole day – don’t let one bad day take over your whole week. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with the things that are happening. They too shall pass. Be in the moment, but also allow yourself to take a step back and observe a situation. No matter how impossible it may seem, things will get better.

Live one moment at a time. Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. Keep pushing yourself and keep moving forward. We all have our own struggles to get past, but we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Emergency Preparedness

There are countless post-apocalyptic movies available to stream or purchase these days. We have watched our fair share of these films and it got me thinking – what would we do if a terrible misfortune occurred in our home town? Are we prepared to get up and go at any moment? The answer: I don’t know and no. I don’t think zombies are going to come out of the woodwork, but I do think that travesties can occur anywhere. Floods ruin cities, fires ruin forests, tornadoes ruin homes, and it’s naive to think that we are untouchable.

So how do we begin preparing if we don’t know what we are preparing for? Well, having meet-up spots is a good start. Sit down with your family and figure out exact locations for you all to meet up at if there is an emergency. Maybe you decide to meet across the street if there is a house fire. Maybe you decide to meet down the street at a local restaurant if there is a robbery. Maybe you decide to meet at specific parking lot if there is a necessary evacuation before relocating to a safer location together. Whatever it is that you decide, make a plan for possible situations.

Bug-out bags are an awesome second step for preparedness. These are backpacks full of supplies that you can just grab-and-go with if an emergency arises. Make a bag for each person in your family with their own supplies to survive if you are split up. Personalize your bug-out bag to fit your family’s needs including things such as:

  • a water filter
  • poncho
  • non-perishable food
  • fishing line
  • a bobber
  • canteen
  • small boiling set
  • non-battery operated flashlight(s)
  • walkie talkies
  • water
  • flint
  • knives
  • extra socks
  • a watch
  • survival book
  • first-aid kit

Research as much as you can about survival and bug-out bags while putting together your own kits. Store them by your front door or bring them with you in your car when you are out-and-about.

No matter what you decide, plan ahead so you are ready when something occurs. Don’t obsess, just be prepared.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Simply Delicious Slow Cooker Meals

Crockpot recipes are the quintessential week day meals for busy families.  We have been stricter with meal prepping and the crock pot has helped tremendously. Not only are they easy and simple, but they often contain enough food for leftovers to be enjoyed the next day.

Here are some recipes that we have recently enjoyed:

  • This Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo is deliciously simple. We will definitely be making this meal again with a side salad. My advice is to not mix the cream cheese until instructed to do so and to add a bit of extra broth after a couple hours of cooking. Feel free to add spice to the dish if you like a little extra kick. It heats up decently well for lunch the next day too.
  • I love this hearty Slow Cooker Tomato, Kale, and Quinoa Soup. The kale wilts beautifully and the quinoa soaks up all of the flavors of this super simple and yummy soup. It’s a great addition to any chilly day.
  • If you are craving comfort food, you have to try this Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes recipe. Sloppy Joes are a meal that I grew up with and recently I have been wanting my childhood favorites – this is an awesome vegan alternative. My brother even loved them! I ate mine as an open-faced sandwich and we had plenty for leftovers.

 

There are so many amazing options for easy vegan dinner recipes online. Do some research and got cooking! It’s Veganuary (Vegan January) and there has never been a better time to join a healthier and cruelty-free lifestyle.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Personal Journey to Mourning

I have written about grief before, but it now seems much more relevant than it had previously. So here we go down the rabbit hole.

2018 was a rough year for my family. It started with the death of my great-grandmother, “Grandma Rosey”, (my mother’s grandma). There was a lot of drama surrounding her declining health after she had a stroke several years ago which lead to my grandmother, “Grandma Ginny” (mom’s mom) not attending her own mother’s funeral. We all tried to convince her to go because we know she will regret it, but it was to no avail. I had just arrived to work when I received a message that Grandma Rosey had passed. I was set to go to the funeral, but at the last minute, I stayed home because a nurse I worked with made me feel full of guilt for planning to be out of work. This wasn’t one of my proudest moments.

Next my father’s dad, “Grandpa Fink”, was in the I.C.U. In my family’s fashion, I received a call at work telling me that he was on life support and that they were letting him die the following morning. I was a mess of guilt and sorrow. My dad’s family hasn’t been a part of my life for a long time because of an argument my father and I had ten years ago. When I went to visit him in the hospital, he was unable to communicate and seemed confused. He wasn’t actually on life support (confusion runs in the family I suppose), but he was in bad condition. He’s now in a nursing home instead of being at home taking care of my grandmother (his wife) who is unable to care for herself properly.

Then my Grandpa Pauly (mom’s dad) was admitted to the hospital for organ failure. An infection was taking over his body and he was dying. Luckily, after dozens of tests, procedures, and treatments (and a week in the hospital), he was discharged in stable condition. My Grandpa Pauly is someone I have always connected with and that was a really scary time for me.

After that, my Great-Grandma Burns (Dad’s grandmother) got sick while in the nursing home with Dementia. She is refusing medication treatments and is not well.

Her husband, my Great-Grandpa Burns, can no longer walk independently and uses a wheelchair often. My dad thinks that his time with us is limited too.

Lastly, my Step-Grandma Pat (my mom’s mother-in-law), passed away on the last day of the year. In her last days, she was but a hollow shell of the woman she once was.

This year has taught me so much about myself, but it has also taught me a lot about the people around me. How we perceive things and how we grieve are both very personal experiences. Some people grow stronger in times of stress. They throw aside their fears and do their best to hold up those around them. They take charge of the situation and work diligently to make those around them comforted. Others watch in silence. They disconnect themselves from the situation and view things from the outside – they shut down. Some people use humor as a coping mechanism. They will find comfort in making the people around them smile in the darkest moments. Others become angry at the world around them. They refuse to accept the situation that has been set in front of them.

There is no one “right way” to deal with death and dying. Over the past year I have felt strength, silence, humor, and anger in vulnerable situations. And that is okay.

Allow yourself and those around you to mourn in their own way. We each have our own path to take in the journey of healing.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Writer’s Block

Yesterday I posted about building your skills as a writer. Today I want to talk about writer’s block. Like I said previously, I am not at all a professional author, but I do enjoy writing. It can be incredibly frustrating when you sit down to write and nothing out. You just stare at the blank screen or piece of paper hoping that inspiration will find you. I have found a few things in the last couple years that help me when I am in a slump and I want to share them with you.

  • List ideas in your phone. I sometime find myself inspired at the most mundane moments in my life. This means that an idea could come to me while I am in the car, taking a shower, or at work. I don’t know about you, but my phone goes with me everywhere. When these moment happen, I type a quick statement in my notepad on my phone. I just write a sentence or string of words that will remind me later about my idea. When I am sitting down to write and don’t have any ideas that make me excited, I refer to the list.
  • Take a walk. Sometimes it’s best to just get up and walk away for a moment. Take your dog for a walk or go for a jog. While you are out, look around you and truly experience the area. You will be surprised at what can remind you of a memory or inspire you. When your walk is finished, write your ideas on the list mentioned above and get back to writing.
  • Accomplish tasks. Is there something that is stressing you out that may be leading to writer’s block? Maybe knowing that there is laundry to be done and dishes to be washed is subconsciously prohibiting your brain to focus on the task at hand. Take a 15 minute break to take care of what is bothering you and then return to writing with a clearer mind.
  • Reflect on life. Is there something going on in your life that is overwhelming your thoughts? Is this something that you could write about? Are there things that you recently (or not-so-recently) learned that others could benefit from? Maybe this is a place that you could start to brainstorm from.
  • Flow Chart. These are great if you have an idea, but aren’t sure how to construct it into an actual story. Start with the central word or idea and branch out into topics and subtopics within that idea to build the story. You don’t need to write paragraphs at this point, just words or phrases that signify a different piece of the puzzle. When you are done, you will probably have a better understanding of the topic. This can help you decide which avenue(s) you would like to take the writing piece.
  • Prompts. You can find online prompts or prompt books that ask questions or have you write about things that you wouldn’t normally think of. Some of them can be silly, but others are quite insightful and constructive. Regardless, it is one way to get your creative juices flowing. I posted on my Instagram “love.always.elizabeth” a few weeks ago about the prompt book I picked up at a local discount shop. It has been a helpful tool when I am not motivated to write or feeling uninspired.

 

It’s okay to take a deep breath and refocus your attempts. Just like everyone has their own style of writing, everyone has their own process too. Find what works for you and continue expressing yourself.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Growing Your Skills: Writing

I’ve always loved to write. I started with writing songs and then transitioned into poetry. Later in life I enjoyed writing short stories and journal entries. I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing a book,  but that’s a project for the future.

My writing style has changed over the years. Sure, my blog posts are informal, but my personal works are more dramatic and dynamic. Writing is a way to paint a picture in someone else’s head through descriptive language. It’s a way to create a new world and bring others along with you to explore it.

There are many ways to develop or hone in your writing skills.

  • Read more frequently. Reading descriptive novels will grow your vocabulary, help with sentence structure, and recognition of how language “flows”.  After high school I stopped reading for a while and I could absolutely tell the difference in my writing.
  • Practice your writing. Even if it’s not a big project you’re working on, practicing your writing will help you to find your style and figure out what works (and doesn’t work) for you.
  • Step out of your comfort zone. If you enjoy writing short stories, try your hand at poetry. If you normally write blog-styled entries, try writing a descriptive essay. Learning to appreciate other forms of writing will help you to integrate pieces of those styles into your own projects.
  • Read what you write out-loud. When you are reading in your head, you may unintentionally skim over parts that need some TLC. Take your time and read what you wrote out-loud to yourself, a friend, or your pet. When you hear how it flows, you might decide that a sentence or two could use some adjustments. This also helps when you are working on punctuation. If, when reading out loud, you naturally pause in the sentence, it may be a spot that needs punctuation.
  • Copy and Paste. Whenever I decide to delete a sentence or try to reconstruct it, I always copy the original phrase beforehand just in case I want to go back to the previous way I wrote it. Another tactic I use is to not delete the sentence at all until I have figured out how to reword it. Instead, I will rewrite the phrase in front of the original sentence. This helps me to compare things that I liked about the first sentence to the final phrase that I will use. Once I have decided on a rewriting, I will delete the original phrase.

 

These are just a few of the things that I feel have helped me to grow as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I am no professional author, but I do enjoy the art of writing.

What are some tips and tricks that you have used to develop your sense of style and writing ability?

Love Always,

Elizabeth