Greatness

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“Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.” Job 8:7, ESV

Have you ever thought that you were created for greatness? Not the pompous kind, but the one that reflects God’s one-of-a-kind design for you, your Destiny. Greatness and perfectionism are quite different when you look at achieving from the angle of pleasing your Creator, not yourself or others.

What has been prohibiting you from achieving something very special, something you know deep in your heart you were created to do? Are you afraid you’re not good enough, that you don’t measure up? Do you question your strength? Are you concerned what others might think? Are you busy surviving?

Striving for greatness can be tricky. What does it mean to you, to achieve your life’s purpose? What are the dreams you had as a child? Do you think they are silly and there is nothing to them, that the life is tough and the reality has no room for dreaming?

Do you know how to discern God’s purpose for you? Do you have a habit of constant communication with your Creator, The God of the Universe?

By praying and asking God for guidance you will be encouraged on your journey. Pray for Divine appointments along the way. Make a decision to move in the direction of your dreams and desires, take action and keep going forward. You can tap into ultimate source of power, the one that created you for the purpose only you can fulfill.

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True friends

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“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

 

Embracing Imperfection

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Embracing imperfection is a center of Japanese art form/technique of kintsugi.
Kintsugi stands for “golden repair”. A few hundred years ago when a valuable bowl or a vessel was broken it was sent to be repaired. An artist mixed resin or lacquer with gold and used it as glue. The result of such restoration? A “new” piece of art with unexpected and intricate veins of gold running through it.

You may feel like a broken vessel, pieces scattered everywhere. You are not whole anymore. You may be hiding this brokenness in shame, afraid to admit this imperfection.

God can restore our imperfections and brokenness just the same. He has the power to reshape our lives and make them beautiful again.

When our lives are repaired our stories become examples of God’s handiwork. You can be masterfully restored to a joyous, full life. Our “cracks” filled with pure gold of wisdom and understanding, beautiful in its imperfection.

Now not only we can be used again, we become true masterpieces.

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8, ‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Practical approach to a healthier life style

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Do you wonder how come you can be diligent with your Bible studies and other aspects of your life but come evening all you can think of is a box of chocolates you are ready to devour? How can you conquer the demon of overheating? Good question, but only you really know the answer. What are the patterns in your life that lead to overindulgence? Have you ask your doctor for advice? Did she check your hormone levels and other important elements? What kind of health plans worked for you in the past? How can you implement healthier eating? What is your exercise routine? Can it be improved? Can you come up with a plan and stick to it? Do you need an accountability partner/ workout buddy?
If you tried to answer the above listed questions may I make a few suggestions?
Set a goal and visualize yourself achieving it. Envision yourself vibrant, energetic, and healthy. Find pictures that inspire you: a plate of healthy food, a nice workout outfit, a person doing your favorite activity. Create a plan of implementing changes. For some people lifestyle changes need to be very small to be manageable. Many rush into totally changing lifestyle full-speed only to be burned-out very soon. Drastic changes in diet and workout routines can be dangerous and cause unnecessary stress to the body. They are possible yet needed to be done under a supervision of a specialist, a dietician, nutritionist, trainer, or a doctor.

My approach is gradual changes and moderation. For me there are days when I work out more, but usually I try to be persistent in incorporating some kind of movement daily. It may even be 5-15 minutes a day.

It is not a good idea to all of a sudden start hitting a gym every day for two-hour workouts. Even if it does not harm you you may burn out fast and go back to your comfort zone, which very likely is your couch…

Many of us love food and it’s comforting effects. I try to make my comfort winter foods healthier. I cook a lot of soups and stews, using lean protein and veggies, avoiding too many fats and dairy.

Today I made a shake with spinach, broccoli, blueberries, an apple and protein powder, as well as some soup. For the soup I boiled some turkey for stock, added sweet potato, onion, carrot, peas, quinoa, and brussels sprouts. Added salt, pepper and basil and ended up with a delicious comfort dish for a rainy day. Bon appetite!

Are you in a weight-loss information overload?

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Recently I went to a bookstore. Not surprisingly there was a big section of books and videos devoted to weight- loss. People keep writing about it, various titles show up each year, but are we getting any healthier? How many of you bought a few books on healthy lifestyle just to promptly put them on a shelf and… never actually read most of them to the end? I tried to find statistics on what percentage of people actually read past the first chapter of self-help books they purchase. I was not able to find it today, but I am sure it is very low.

Regardless of how much information is out there it is hard to find time to learn something in depth. I often read a dozen non-fiction books simultaneously and switch between them. It usually depends on what I work on and what extra information I need for myself and my clients. I read magazine and internet articles, listen to audio tapes, peruse library books as well as take classes on subjects of interest. Healthy lifestyle, fitness and relationship with food have long been on my radar and I did study it, but how about everyone else? Do you have time to study it in depth? Do you need to?
I begun to think: may be short articles and posts are actually more useful for most of us? Following short workout videos on YouTube may be a much better tool for many than buying a workout program just to put it on a shelf or use it only once or twice. After all it takes effort to take a DVD out of the box and put it in the DVR, you know… Actually there is a psychological factor:  It is easier to buy a book or a DVD and pretend that the action is already taken!
There are numerous programs available, backed up by studies and testimonies with great results. I can choose one and stick to it or peruse numerous advice and come up with my own, that fits my needs and schedule. One rule- I have to be committed and disciplined. I need to eat less calories and burn more than I consume. Bottom line- I need to be committed to my health. After all being able to fit in a smaller pair of jeans is only a visual, the real reason is to be healthy and have more energy, to be ready for what God has in store for me. I must eat better and move more. Drink plenty of water. Have a good attitude. Rejoice, pray and be grateful.

Challenge of a Caterpillar Metamorphosis

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A friend of mine shared a joke:
It’s good to be a caterpillar: all you do is eat, eat, EAT, EAT, than roll yourself up, sleep, sleep, sleep, than wake up as a beauty!
Don’t we wish it was a case for all of us?
I want to share methods I successfully used in the past. All lead to weight loss. I love to eat, so as many I often gained quite a few extra pounds in winter. I accumulated a few go-to strategies when I need to loose some weight and stay healthy for the future. Now I would like to put them on a list. I did that for my anxiety remedies and I am glad I did. Over time I have tendency to forget things I used in the past. When someone reminds me I am very grateful. Many of my friends who love food and are not blessed with super-fast metabolism have tried many of these methods. Please remind me if there is something I missed but you like. Here is what I remember I successfully tried in the past:
– Calorie counting. It was a good approach to realize how much I was actually eating. It helped to learn calorie contents of my favorite foods and I still remember some of them. I have a book with lists of food and calories and there are apps for it. Some restaurants provide calorie contents, but I try to avoid eating out when I diet- too much temptation. When I first tried to count calories I realized how Much I underestimated the amounts I ate! I need to consume no more than 1500 calories in order to loose weight and 2000 calories a day to maintain healthy weight. This method is very time consuming and a few people told me it causes them anxiety. We don’t want that! But for others it was a very good tool.
– Food and exercise log/ journal. I pulled it out to look at my old notes and see what I did and how it worked. Even if not journaling every day making entries now and then are beneficial. For a few days now I have been writing what I ate, keeping an exercise log as well. I am also back to weighing myself every morning. I thought I will not do it this time, but it was a habit for so long- I think I’ll keep it- I like numbers after all.
– Cleanse/fasting. This method worked, but I don’t want to do it again now- it is too harsh, I think. I may go on a liquid diet one day a week or at least for half a day- I’ll see. I like juicing and drinking water with lemon or apple cider vinegar. Or I mix powder of dried vegetables into a drink (green powder). I am back to rotating between a green drink, water with lemon or apple cider vinegar in the morning. Sometimes I sip it throughout a day. They are alkaline and because my stomach is very acidic I try to counteract that.
There is also different kind of fasting for spiritual purpose, but I will write about it some other time.
– Juicing. Various juices are beneficial but some can be harmful in large quantities. Actually any dieting can be harmful- I did consult my Naturopathic doctor in the past. I like to juice fresh organic fruit and vegetables but not every day. I remember my mother saying to be very careful with beet juice- I’ll need to look up why. There are numerous books on juicing and receipts on the internet to choose from.
– Smoothies and shakes. I like them only need not add too much fruit, protein powder or nuts- it all adds calories event though healthy overall. I’ll make them richer in the main tangency phase, but not yet.
– Green powder- a good substitute for juicing when I don’t have time.
– Adding more vegetables to my diet in all forms: raw and cooked is a great way to healthier eating. My favorite comfort food ingredient is potato, but I mix it with plenty of non- starchy veggies and some meat in a stew or soup with lots of spices-yum! I often share recipes on Facebook, as many of you know. Please share your healthy recipes.
– Psyllium husk. On occasion I add it to water for a filling drink with basically no calories. It also is a good way to eliminate toxins. To avoid constipation I use a tea spoon of powder in a glass of water no more than once a day. Some detoxifying kits are sold with laxatives in them but I am not a big fan, even though I used them in the past.
– Desserts. Apples, blueberries and oranges is what I switched to last week. Good-bye chocolate candy, I’ll miss you! But I still crave chocolate. Dark chocolate is better, but now I am not going to have even that. Today I mixed cocoa powder with some hot water with stevia ( I also used a little honey in the past). The mixture was quite bitter and some would not like it, but it was a good enough substitute for me.

Fundamental for success is self-discipline. It is also good to have accountability.
Joining Weight Watchers or another group is a great option because it gives support, accountability and the feel of the community. I have not tried it personally but heard good things about them. A few times I joined my friends in weight-loss competition and it was fun and got competitive.

Good luck on your quest for health and vitality. I am praying for my friends and readers.

Weight-loss challenges

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I belong to a group of people who likes variety. Sticking to just one weight-loss strategy, even a well-proven one, would not work for for me long- time. I like variety otherwise I get extremely bored. Some people prepare and portion their meals for a week in advance. I’m sure it’s a very good strategy and will produce great results. I may try to do that for one week but after a while I will need to switch to something else.
My friend Stephanie Boyer went on her annual master cleanse a few days ago. The way I remember it is basically drinking lemon water for a number of days in order to detoxify. I did cleanses before but this time I really wanted to take it easy on myself in a beginning…
Diet-wise one of my favorite ways to eat right is having home-made healthy soups. I don’t use any cream or butter/oil, but I do use broth for most of them. I don’t follow recipes most of the time as I like to be creative with my cooking. When my concoction is not particularly to my taste- c’mon, it’s often only boiled veggies!- I blend it and than soup goes down easier. Today I made beef bone broth, than chopped celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I added some spices that were on hand: thyme, ginger powder, basil, salt, pepper and a mix of dry seasoning. I used my handy-dandy immersion blender to whip it up in a purée. If you want to try it but don’t like the texture of a blended soup just leave your vegetables intact.
For next few days I think I will stick with just soups and maybe raw veggies blends.
I haven’t stepped on my scales for months – big mistake. When I finally did this morning and saw a number it scared me. I gained about ten pounds in two months! I’m going to lose weight not only for vanity but for health reasons as well.
I know how to develop a strategy and produce desired results. I’m going to apply it to this particular problem. I know my girlfriends will keep me accountable, as well as my life coach, Kathleen Brooks. Ladies, I need you! Yesterday I went to a party and cheated… It was very difficult to pass on an amazing cake (and usually I am quite picky with my desserts) and blintzes with caviar- c’mon I’m only human! It always have been easier to eat right when I ate my meals at home. Starting a new eating plan is always a challenge for me. I often slip into old eating habits easier in the beginning, before I develop new eating habits.
Anyone wants to join me? Share your strategies for this challenge?
If you would like to make a comment- comment button is on a very bottom of this post in a right-hand corner.

New Year Resolutions

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We love to make New Year Resolutions, don’t we- new year, new hope, new beginnings, fresh start…

Every time I can barely squeeze into my jeans after the holidays my first resolution is, you’ve guessed it, to loose weight. I’ve been there before, numerous times. I can be disciplined until I get sick. I had a cold that would not completely go away for over a month. I could not work out much and my eating habits were slipping- when I am not feeling well I need comfort food. In the past stress at work and at home in December took its tall and I would roll into a new year much heavier than I was in, let’s say, September. I need to do something, and I need to start now.

I know what works and what does not. I remember the hardest thing for me always was to actually start the program and stick to it. I often tried to apply many drastic changes all at once: go on a strict diet or cleanses and excersise a lot. It did work and I did see results in 2-3 weeks, but the first couple weeks were brutal, with muscle pains and that horrible feeling of hunger after cutting out sugar and all refined carbohidraes from my diet and not eating much.  Drastically adding huge amounts of vegetables left me bloated. I also think when I was younger my system was less susceptible to such stress of major detox, but now that I am older I am not looking forward to pushing my body to the limits rapidly.
This time I am going to implement small changes in the beginning to ease into it- especially because I was sick. But by the end of the month I expect to get on with a health program.

I know I need to completely cut out sugar and all sweets and breads and pasta right now. I become addicted to them and I know I’ll feel much better if I clean my system from this stuff. I will allow myself a little honey as a sweetener with sprouted bread, but only after a few weeks.

Ultimately I would go back to working out half an hour daily. I like to peruse various videos on YouTube- there I can find anything and have a workout I feel like doing on a particular day. But if I jump into it full force I’ll be in pain, so for a couple of weeks I’ll take it easy. I have been walking daily and doing only a few exercises at a time for about a week now and I feel some changes. I feel my muscles, but they are not aching as they would if I had begun full- blast workouts. I am coming back, but slowly.

It is usually difficult to get back on truck after overindulging in sweet, greasy, yummy holiday foods. Often I can stay clear of that or eat a little at parties over the holidays, but because I was sick on and off for over a month I medicated myself with food…

When I was not able to comfortably fit into my largest jeans- yes, the ” muffin top” and all- it was a major wake-up call. And to think that in November I was doing so well that I was shopping for smaller clothes… Yesterday I was dressing for a party and realized that my choices were quite slim as only a couple outfits fit right. But I can’t just stop eating for a week and work out for an hour every day- not this time.

I am not doing it just for vanity but for my health as well. I don’t want to go with hopping on scale every morning this time, my goal will be to fit in my smallest jeans. This particular pair is waiting to be put on in March. Lets say March 30. It seems realistic. In order to do it I need to:
Walk every day for at least 20 minutes. Having a dog helps to make this part a reality, I only have to make sure I don’t delegate. I’ll put on my walking clothes as soon as I wake up and get out of bed- robe and fuzzy slippers are allowed in the morning no more! I will start doing YouTube videos tomorrow for 15 and then 20 min a day, a week later going for 30 min a day.

I am done eating sugar and white bread (refined carbs) as of right now. I will cut down on dairy products, especially cheese. I will not deprive myself of food but gradually eat more vegetables. I know I can not be hungry as it may raise anxiety and I don’t want that. So my plan is small steps but steady progress.
There are other changes I would like to implement this year, but I’ll talk about it some other time. One thing at a time is good enough.
I would love to hear from my friends about their New Year Resolutions and have partners on this journey. For many of us small steps are the best approach. Also, if your usual New Years Resolutions list of 25 items has a tendency to never materialize you may want to consider only 2-3 things to focus on. Good luck and God Bless.

Laundry Room as a Spiritual Retreat

 

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Two days after I posted my previous blog entry Spiritual Desert of a Laundry Room I had a breakfast with a couple of girlfriends. As we were having a great time catching up one of the ladies mentioned a beautiful red lamp she recently purchased for her laundry room. Laundry room? Did I hear her correctly? I was not the only one surprised. We were curious why she decided to decorate her laundry room in a special way.

The answer was unexpected as well as eye opening. For this woman her laundry room has become her spiritual retreat. She loves coming there at night not only to wash clothes for her family of five, but also to enjoy some solitude and prayer time. She decorated it with splashes of color and items she likes to make it cozy and inviting.

Listening to her I thought how a change of perspective could completely switch one’s attitude. Decorating a place you spend a lot of time at and leaving negativity at the door can be revolutionary in a sense how you perceive any task you complete in that space and possibly affect your overall satisfaction with life.

I remember praying for my loved ones on numerous occasions as I did household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry. My least favorite was ironing. I disliked it since childhood. We did not have a dryer when I was growing up, clothes came out wrinkled after being line dried and it was my responsibility to iron piles of clothes week after week. I became an expert at ironing, but I hated it. Later on even with a dryer there were still things that needed to be pressed. I used to set my ironing board in front of a TV and watch spiritual shows because not even sitcoms worked to sweeten a pill of this task… I also learned to pray more for my husband as I was pressing creases out of his dress shirts. Can you imagine my huge sigh of relief when I was able to send stuff to the cleaners where someone was doing laundry for me? Halleluiah!

Most people I know can easily identify their most and least favorite house chores. For me ironing tops the list of least favorite and it took a lot of prayer not to spiral down into resentment and self-pity when I was doing it.

What I do like is washing dishes by hand. There is something soothing about warm soapy water running through my fingers. It brings me to an almost meditative state of mind and it feels like a mini-retreat. I think that is what my friend experiences when she does laundry in a quiet room at night. Nobody interrupts her thoughts there and she can just be. Often this is as much “me” time as she allows herself.

Having downtime to unwind is necessary for everyone and there are many ways to do it. Often we think it is necessary to allot special time and find a place. But it can be as unorthodox as one’s laundry room or a quiet time by a kitchen sink.

It is funny how house chores can become uplifting spiritual experiences regardless if you like them or not. It’s all in a mindset.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14-15 ESV

Spiritual desert of a laundry room

 

 

 

 

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It has been a long day and you are very tired. You cooked and fed dinner to your family, cleaned up the dishes and checked kid’s homework. All you want is go to bed.

You spend your days working, taking care of a family, cooking and cleaning, checking homework and running errands. It is the evening now, almost everything is done and the house is quiet. You are in your laundry room, pairing the socks. Somehow there always a few loose ones… Resentment is building up inside of you, you feel angry, helpless and sad all at once. There you are, in a quiet house, feeling so sorry for yourself. It is late at night and you are exhausted. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually spent…

Does it sound at all familiar? At times like this you may just want to sit down and cry, feeling sorry for yourself. Or you may get angry, harboring resentment towards ungrateful or innocent members of the household. You may begin questioning: ‘Lord, why do I have to do it all by myself? Why there is no help? I know, nobody can do this job better than I can… If I decide to ask someone to help me with laundry or house cleaning, they probably will mess things up! Very likely my sweaters and delicates will be shrunk and my carefully sorted whites will end up being washed with a red t-shirt. Whatever someone else puts away will take me hours to find… That is why I don’t delegate… Yes, I do feel resentful for doing everything by myself and I can’t help it!”

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Do you see any contradiction here? What do you think can help you to begin enjoying your life?

Is it possible you can you get help by delegating the chores? Can you learn to be patient with other people’s mistakes when they are trying to help and contribute? Unfortunately, a common reaction for most of women is to negatively react and unleash anger at the person, usually a loved one or spouse, who was trying to help.

When a person who was sincerely trying to help gets scolded for doing things in a wrong way, he may not offer to help for a long time. This in turn can make you even more resentful and feeling sorry for yourself.

It is never too late to re-focus and get out of this downward spiral of misery. Do you punish a baby when she is making her first steps and falls again and again? My guess is, you just lift her up, encouraging and praising her with smiles and cheering. Why don’t you do it with older children and grown-ups in our lives? Why don’t you smile when looking at a burned dinner someone tried to help you to make and simply say: “Thank you”. It may be worth it to bite your tongue and silence any mocking comments.

Why don’t we allow others to help us even if we know they are not going to do a “perfect” job? Why don’t we kindly ask for help when no one volunteers? Can we communicate love instead of hurt and resentment? How can we accomplish this? How can we become happier and cultivate loving and caring relationships? We should realize achieving positive changes takes work and continuous effort. Sometimes we should ask ourselves are we just generally lazy? Even worse, are we tempted to leave everything as is and resort to unleashing anger at times to the people we love. Is that the kind of life we should be living?

Changes happened when we get to the point where we want them to occur. You can be happy if you use the right approach. Change your perspective. Don’t attempt to change others or make their lives miserable. Establish a new habit of gratitude that leads to happiness. Focus on love. When you feel resentment and anger towards someone try to remember what you appreciate about this person. Focus on what you like about him or her. Meditate on love.

It takes time and effort to build a mutual loving and caring relationship. For a garden to flourish it not only needs to be planted, but fertilized, watered, weeded and pruned. It is our choice to be together with someone. It is our choice to work on connection and partnership. It is our choice to sow kindness and love with generosity of heart to reap joy and peace.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 

 

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