When Intolerance is Misguided!

 
Picture From CNN Religious Blog

Picture From CNN Religious Blog

 

 

I don’t know about you but I have some serious opinions about life, love, death and everything in between, i.e. family, politics, school. Sometimes my opinion causes unnecessary drama, especially when people don’t like what I have to say about them or their cause; sometimes people agree whole-heartedly with what I have to say and sometimes people take a neutral stand seemingly understanding both sides of the argument. I am sure what I am about to write will strike a nerve with many people, yet I am going to write it anyway.

I like eating at Chick-Fil-A {period}.

I am appalled that somebody would tell me that I hate gay people because I eat at Chick-Fil-A. Just like I am equally disgusted when somebody tries to say I am racist because I don’t like where Barack Obama stands on so many policies.

I am sorry, what? Racist? Bigotry? All of this name calling simply because one doesn’t support the President or likes to eat a chicken sandwich? 

Listen, Chick-Fil-A is not prohibiting people of the same sex from getting married. In fact, I don’t think they are discriminating against gay people in any way. They take your money, just like they take my money. They serve me food, just like they serve you food. Most of the people who work there handle our business with calmness and usually with a big smile. And I’d argue they pay the salaries of many gay people without disgust, without argument, without contempt and without much thought about it.

I think that people are failing to realize that a fast food chain is not barring you from marriage. No, in fact, I would argue the policies in this country are preventing equal marriage. Protest some place else. Demand justice and equality from those people who are actually denying you equality and justice; BUT do not attack the religious liberty that is preserved within our Constitution.

Your intolerance of religious freedom proves the ignorance and arrogance of your movement is just as stymied as that of what you claim your opponent’s argument to be. Rise above it. Fight against it. Do not fall into a superficial trap… a trap that has led you to protest a chicken joint.

I am sure many of you will sling words at me like prejudice, intolerant, a religious zealot, a polarized conservative, or anti-gay and anti-equality.

Shame on you.

I live with a gift to see both sides of the argument. I understand the argument that you are proposing. I believe that everybody of every race, creed, origin and sexual orientation should have the same rights.  However, I believe that marriage should be religiously streamlined and political authority should be striped from the equation. I don’t care who marries whom. Yes, I understand there are legal advantages to being married. And, yes, I believe that gay people should be awarded those same advantages. I think it is an injustice to restrict whose marriage is “real” or “legally authorized” and whose is not. I think it is an injustice to build a country where there is inequality. But I do believe that it is important to remember that everybody has their own opinion and we do have a constitutional right to religious liberty. It is as much of an injustice to be intolerant towards religious perspectives as it is to be intolerant toward any other institution or person.

I say eat more chicken. In fact, go to Chick-Fil-A and celebrate tolerance.

Take a stand against the people actually denying you your rights. 

Family, Drama, Misunderstandings

Sometimes in life it is important to stand back and listen to what somebody else is saying to you {or trying to say}. Even if that person is delivering the information in a way that is condescending and demeaning. Two days ago I wrote a blog post that caused drama beyond that which could be found in an episode of The Hills. I was mortified that it was received so horribly. I’ve since redacted most of text from that post, but still feel scorned.

Let me explain, this is my website. I have coddled this little online universe of mine since I started it in October 2010. I have invested hours, calories, hard work and money to keep this little online baby of mine growing. There have been moments where I wanted to throw in the towel and just stop; especially recently. However, I have continued on.

When I first started this venture I promised my readers {who did not exist then} that this would be a forum where I would talk about life, love, food and human experience and I have remained true to that commitment the past 18 months. I am proud of the vow I made to my {then} elusive audience and myself.

Two days ago I was caught off-guard. While I take responsibility for being harsh in my delivery in that blog post, I find it sometimes necessary to be direct and uninhibited about conveying information. However, I felt personally attacked at the end of the day. While this is my website, I do express feelings that go beyond my own. Nick was very upset about how the weekend ended with his family and it made my life sort of touchy. It was not the easiest couple of days and I was upset that nobody seemed to understand our frustrations. 

For some reason my blog post turned into a personal reproach of my happiness, my ego, and my ability to work well with others. I was beyond appalled. Everybody assumed that the issue was mine and mine alone; nobody considered my words were compounded by Nick and his rants. That irritated me.

By nature I analyze situations, conversations and encounters to a level that goes beyond typical expectations. It bothered me that the email I received seemed to be a direct assault on me, without considering Nick. It offended me that the assumption was that I caused a problem because I have an ego, a sharing problem and am unhappy inside. My simple analysis led me to two clear conclusions: (1) Nick’s family thinks that I am fundamentally the cause behind this drama and am assumed to be the strong hand generating the drama; and (2) I have some internal disposition that is making me sad and unhappy much of the time.

That did not sit well with me. So I countered:

Just to address the last part of your email, about “feeling good inside,” I do. My mother raised me to be strong minded, opinionated and to stand up for myself. While I may wear my heart on my sleeves and be emotional, do not misinterpret that as being sad or miserable on the inside. I am not; in fact I am far from it. Do I struggle with certain things in my life? Absolutely. However, you would be hard pressed to find somebody in this world that does not have some sort of internal struggle. Do I get frustrated? Absolutely. Do I feel hurt and sad sometimes? You bet I do. However, like you said, emotions are legitimate feelings usually as response to or result of an event or sequence of events. I don’t want you to confuse my disappointment and frustration over this situation as not feeling good inside. That could not be farther from reality. 

I think it is important to remember that we all have a voice. Stand up for yourself in a constructive way; make sure people hear what you have to say. I was raised to do just that. It is unfortunate at times that I wear my heart on my sleeves because it gives people the impression that I am weak or continuously sad. That is not the truth and I refuse to allow people to believe that.

I stand by what I said; however, that does not mean I do not like his family because I do. I like each of the people in his family for difference reasons. His mom and dad have been nothing but gracious and hospitable for the past 4 years; I will be forever grateful that they invited me into their hearts and home.

I feel sad that they think of me in this way and know it is because they misinterpret my emotions and my intentions. It is also because Nick is not open with his family about what he’s feeling a lot of the time. That leads people to believe that the frustration I express in my blog is mine, not his. I don’t understand that. If I have a problem with my mom I tell her.

At the end of the day this is my website. I will continue in the same way with or without criticism. I am not ashamed about how I feel and I refuse to mute my voice because somebody is offended about legitimate emotions. It is important that we all stand firm in our beliefs and convictions. Do not allow people to slant a situation in a way that is negative or personally insulting toward you. Stand your ground; but do not be disrespectful. 

I love my life. I have hard days. I have days where I feel sad or frustrated. There are days that I wish my situation was different, that I had made different decisions and there are moments where I think I was guided in the wrong way and now face very stressful days. However, this is my life. In those moments I remember that I have a boyfriend that loves me. I remember that I have a mother who has dedicated her life and love to support me. And, I remember that I have two little fur babies that are the cutest things in the world and will cuddle me when I feel sad.

We all have bad days. However, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Life's Unexpected Curveballs & Divine Intervention

There are a few instances in life that are significant to people. Off of the top of my head I would say that short list includes graduation from college, marriage, death, birth and buying your first house.

In each of those situations life becomes slightly more complicated or complex. When you graduate from college there is an assumption by most that you become a bona fide adult, you now must live on your own, start a career and pay your own bills.

That’s a big deal.

So it is for the other things on that short ordered list. While it may be a good complication, in most cases marriage, birth, death and home ownership is stressful, complicated and complex in different ways {good and bad}.

Many conversations ago Nick and I concluded that we did not want to have children. While I sometimes struggle with that choice, not because I want kids but because I think that’s what is expected of me, I know that our decision to be parents to fur babies is a better fit for our lives.

I feel blessed to be in a relationship with somebody that has the same expectations in that department as I do; many times people believe they can get their partner to change their minds later. Changing somebody is never the answer.

Nick and I will never have to worry about that {hopefully}.

So what other things make an incredible impact on life? Marriage.

Ah, marriage.

Well, I would officially like to announce that…

Nick and I…

ARE…

NOT ENGAGED!

Nope, he did not pop the question and I don’t have a diamond the size of Pippy’s head on my finger, yet. Though that definitely is something Nick should think about, in a very serious way.

*Wink, Wink*  {I hope he reads this.}

Okay, Okay, I will stop beating around the bush – Nick and I are going to buy a house… our first house!

We have been tossing around the idea since we moved here last year. When we made the move to the D.C. metro we figured this would be where we plant some roots and stay awhile. At the beginning of this year we started looking at a bunch of houses online just to get a sense of what we like and if what we liked was affordable. Originally I wanted to live in a single-family home and Nick wanted to live in a condo. In an attempt to make him happy, I agreed to take a look a couple of condo communities being built north of us.

I instantly fell in love with the first property we saw.

Seriously. It was an instant love affair.

It was roomy, it was designed to the nines, it had {well offered} everything we had ever dreamed in a home. I wanted to put an offer in on it immediately.

Yes, I lost track of reality.

If you could see the property you likely would not blame me.

It was reasonable and close to the price point that I had hoped we would consider our max. However, something deep inside of me thought I should continue to look around.

It didn’t hurt that Nick was telling me out loud that we had to continue to look. Plus, there was another builder/developer that he favored in the same community building condos down the street. I appeased him {thinking he would see things my way later} and we went to see the other condo.

Nick fell instantly in love with this property.

And, like the good girlfriend that I am, I instantly despised everything. So I went room to room picking out exactly what I hated about it. I made a pretty significant mental list of my complaints so that when the conversation happened {and I knew it was going to happen} I would be able to specifically explain to him why I hated the property.

First, it was decorated for my grandmother.

Second, it was almost $100k more than the property that I loved.

Third, and that’s when it happened, I drew a blank.

So I did what any reasonable person does, I started to use his points against him.

Fourth, ‘oh, you like that it’s almost 3000 sq ft? But you said you want a smaller property. Point for me!

Really, we went back and forth for months about these two properties. And as we debated each of the new buildings were going up in price. So that now Nick’s believed property was beyond our price point, yet he was still considering it. He wanted to make it work. There was no talking him out of it. And it was driving me crazy.

How does somebody not recognize a property that is beyond his or her financial means? It’s like going out and buying a car that has a payment larger than your monthly salary. That doesn’t work. Ever.

I was hard pressed and going crazy, so I suggested getting a realtor. When Nick finally caved and saw the utility in having a realtor, I felt a weight lifted off of my chest.

Enter: Robert.

Almost instantly Robert became a useful asset to me. After viewing the condo Nick loved, he told Nick that it was overpriced for what you were getting and likely beyond our financial ability.

Whew. I thought I was safe.

Yet we still talked about it. And, much to my chagrin, we still continued to visit it. Even this weekend, with Nick’s parents visiting, we took another trip to our beloved community. Though to give Nick some credit we always planned to show our parents the first two places we believed to be the bottom of our threshold.

Meaning, we did not want to pay any money for a house that we were not going to like. I mean, we live in a fabulous place right now. We are renting a fabulous apartment. Realistically speaking if the property owners would allow us to tare down the wall separating the two apartments we would buy the property that we rent today. Combined the two apartments would be 2200 sq. ft., 6 bedrooms {if we wanted} and four bathrooms. However, that was not an option. So we agreed that we would look for a house that is the equivalent to our apartment style living we are used to. If we could not find something, we would continue to rent.

More and more it seemed we would continue to rent. There was nothing out that that we fancied and it was slightly depressing.

Anyway, let’s come back to this weekend. So we took Nick’s mom and dad to the two original condos. Nick believed they would each love his property and not be impressed with my original selection.

Boy was he wrong.

They really liked the property that I fell in love with, pretty much for the same reasons that I had. He had to admit defeat. {To be fair, his parents thought his property was equally as beautiful.}

Condos are a funny thing. You get your square feet in vertically, which means there are a LOT of steps. I was huffing and puffing each time I had to climb the stairs. However, for us, we thought that we could accommodate that small thing. But when we start to think of our families, our daily lives and the possibility of getting hurt, the steps are not easily dismissed.

Condos were becoming less of an option.

So on Sunday, without our realtor because he cancelled on us, Nick, his parents & I went real-estating. We found properties we were interested in. We looked, we called, we reconsidered and continued to look for hours and hours.

We happened upon a set of condos that were being built. They had less steps and felt more like a regular home. It was the style that Nick and I really love. We fell instantly in love with the idea of these buildings but there were a few red flags that made all of us slightly uncomfortable. However, one thing really stood out and that was the location.

In an attempt to understand what these homes would be worth in a few years, Nick and his dad asked about the comps in the area. The agent for this developer did something that is probably frowned upon in the field – he answered the question… truthfully. Sort of.

Nick was persistent and the agent knew he could not dismiss the fact that his buildings were located strangely. So, in an attempt to make his property appear more lucrative, he told us about a property a couple of miles away that were essentially comparable. But he told us they were going to be wildly more expensive.

We went there.

Even though I complained that it was late, I was hungry and slightly bored.

We went to this property. Exactly 5 minutes before they were expecting to close up shop and enjoy the rest of their Sunday afternoons, this property was visited by the four of us.

I will thank GOD for the rest of my life that we went to this property. I will thank GOD for the rest of my life that Nick’s dad wanted to go check this place out. I will count my blessings forever that we happened upon this amazing place.

Nick and I found an amazing new construction.

It’s a home.

It’s a place that we can live for the rest of our lives it we wanted to.

It has EVERYTHING and a million more things.

After an hour we knew walking away from this property would be a critical error in our lives. The lot that we wanted would likely not be there 12 hours later. It was perfect. And somebody else was going to recognize that, too.

We gave them a check to hold our dream home, the lot that we wanted and the style that we liked.

 

Nothing made sense. Really. None of it made sense.

It was not a condo. It was not an end unit. It was not in the location that we once expected to call home. Everything about this place was wrong.

But Divine Intervention cannot be fought.

And, yes, I believe this had everything to do with Divine Intervention. This place is absolutely perfect. Nick and I don’t even have to consider selling and finding something better for us in 10 years.

I will share some of the details about our beautiful new chapter in later posts. I feel like everything is too new and I don’t want to jinx anything.

However, there is a moral of the story: don’t give up and don’t settle. Oh, and listen to the experts. I am talking about Nick’s Dad and the people upstairs that helped guide us to this place. It was nothing less than a miracle.

It’s important to know what YOU want. It is important to know what YOU can afford and it’s important you take your time when making life-changing decisions. We knew that we didn’t want to be stuck living in a place that would not make us happy. We knew that we wanted to live in a nice area, with nice amenities and that offered a lot in the way of community and safety.

In the next weeks we will be making more decisions about our home, our lives and our futures. Because Life is Complicated Enough… it is important that you find a match in your life that makes sense. That means find a person you love for who they are, not who they could be or who you want them to be, find a home that fits your lifestyle, your tastes and does not break the bank. Do not settle for anything less than you deserve. Fight hard for what you want, but don’t fight against the opinions and suggestions of others. It is important to consider others and their experiences. Sometimes the unexpected choices in life can you lead to happily ever after.

Ask me, I can tell you.

Until Next Time,

Be Happy. 

 

Life Everlasting

The circle of life is a remarkable journey.

I am sitting here trying to find words to articulate how I am feeling, but instead my head is filled with emotions and not words.

I am sitting here thinking about life and death. I just deep fried a turkey, made stuffing and a pie. My life should be filled with aromatic Thanksgiving scents and joy, but it is not.

I have a lot going on. And my life is going to get a little more complicated in about a month. I keep asking myself why I made the decisions I have made. Why did I have to go to college? Why did I think getting a Master’s Degree and going to law school were pertinent to my life? Why did I feel like I made the right decisions with education only to be stopped at the door of opportunity because our government squanders away our money and, because of that, our opportunities for success?

I think these things every single day of my life.

I am thinking these things right now. But death is permeating through my body and mind. Life continues when somebody dies.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, is going to die. The doctor’s believe it will be any moment now. They forget about faith. However, with faith comes a responsibility to be reasonable – it’s a delicate balancing act that must exist so you do not lose touch with reality and reason.

Many people will say my grandmother was a great woman.

Many people will mourn her death until the day they die.

Many people will question whether she had guilt before she died. Did she feel remorse, sorrow, empathy for the bad decisions she made.

I have no idea how to feel.

I grew up protected from my grandmother. You see, as soon as my mom had the chance she ran away to start her life in a fresh environment. So at 19 years old, after exhaustive hours working her job, my mom saved up enough money to move away. She followed the path of the tip of a pencil to Central Pennsylvania where she has remained since that fateful trip all of those years ago. She has lived with the pain from a childhood not protected. And because she never wanted me to feel that pain, she protected me from everybody who could cause me pain; she protected me from those people who caused her pain.

I will forever be indebted to my mom for her courage and love for a child not yet born. I will forever be grateful that my mom had the strength to stand on her own. She saved my life before she even knew I was hers.

So I mourn for my mom in these critical days. I cry with my mom because I feel her pain. But mourning the death of my grandmother is a different story.

I was never close to her. Thankful for my mother’s protection, I have never had regrets about not having a relationship with my grandparents. However, I am sad. I am sad that the life that is ending is causing such pain for the people that I love.

The circle of life is a funny thing. One day you’re born. One day you die. The most powerful decisions, situations, and choices all happen in the middle. It is all of those situations and choices that determine the type of person you become; the type of person you are.

I cannot speak about all of the decisions my grandmother has made during her life, but she failed catastrophically and that is how I will remember her. And I hate myself for it.

In the end she is surrounded by everybody she hurt. Those people are a testament of faith, of courage, of overcoming pain; they authenticate my belief in God every single day. Because how could He not exist when all of these amazing people are uniting to mourn the death of a person that they love, that they care for, that they call family despite the horrific decisions she made?

I will spare the bad decisions my grandmother has made because this post is not about tarnishing anybody’s name or reputation. I mean, I care about my grandmother. I love her for what she is to me. But I have a hard time marrying the love I have for a grandmother that I never had a chance to know intimately with the mother that raised my mom.

Because life is complicated enough when you feel alone and full of emotion, I needed to write something down. I already have all of this other weight on my shoulders, and I know it’s not going to stop because a life is ending, I thought I would reach out to the world wide universe. I thought if I put all of my emotions and thoughts, regrets and feelings out there in the world maybe the world can take on some of these pressures so that I can be strong for my family during this horrible time.

I know that I cannot be the only one out there that has a difficult time marrying who the person once was with who the person became in the moments before they died. I don’t know if it’s normal, if it’s allowed, if it’s damaging, disrespectful or unfaithful to be feeling such a disconnect but I know the next couple of days are going to be hard and exhausting. I want to be there for my mom the best that I can without losing myself in a situation that I’m trying to keep a distance from.

I need your prayers. Not for me, but for my mom and family.

God our Father, 
Your power brings us to birth, 
Your providence guides our lives, 
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence, 
their lives change but do not end. 
I pray in hope for my family, 
relatives and friends, 
and for all the dead known to You alone. 

In company with Christ, 
Who died and now lives, 
may they rejoice in Your kingdom, 
where all our tears are wiped away. 
Unite us together again in one family, 
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
Amen. 

 

I want you each to know that I appreciate and love you all! Your support means the world to me. Thank you for choosing to be part of my journey in life. 

Much love,

Mel

First Blogiversary Countdown. Many Thanks. Big Expectations

Hi Foodies. It’s Wednesday afternoon on the day before September begins and I feel like I am on the verge of some profound revelation, but the universe is messing with me. I cannot find the words to talk about anything right now. I have tried to create a ‘Because Life is Complicated Enough…’ and I have even considered typing up a new food blog, but every time I start typing nothing profound comes out. In fact, at this very moment, I have typed more than I have all morning.

Seriously? I am at a loss for words right now. What the heck is wrong with me?

In other news, I had a pretty tough night last night. There is no need for me to get into the details of the night, but I will tell you that I really did not sleep last night and I started recreating my blog. I am still in the middle of it all and hope that there will be more incredible changes in the days and weeks to come. I am learning it all on my own because I do not want to pay for a company to do it for me. I do not want to irritate my foodies, so I will likely not be announcing all of my updates until everything is complete and set in stone; and, most importantly, when I am satisfied with the final outcome.

I do have a small announcement to make. As some of you may have noticed, I have an anniversary coming up. I have a little counter at the top left hand of my blog counting down the days. I put it up, hoping that it would remind me that I have to step up my game in the next month and get something together to celebrate. It is a huge milestone – like when you make it through your first year of marriage or something? I mean, that’s a pretty big deal. This blog has become my little virtual baby; I have coddled it, spent countless hours feeding and building it and relentlessly promoting it. I want it to grow, I want it to blossom and strengthen and I want it to grow into a beautiful bubbly virtual hotspot.

How do I do it?

Well, currently I am giving my virtual baby a makeover; I hope it gives her some more character. Second, in the weeks leading up to my first Blogiversary, which occurs on October 19, I want to try to hit the 2000 followers mark. I want to do an AWESOME giveaway and I have some mighty plans, but I am hoping that I can hit the 2000 follower mark by October 19. What do you all think? Am I dreaming too big?? Do you think that I can gain 500 followers in six weeks?

I hope to make my blogiversary week something as special for all of you as it will be for me.

To close out this post, I want to take a minute to thank you all for your continued support. I love you all.

I love all of my followers – those people who come by daily to talk and share with me, to encourage and support me. This entire adventure would be boring without you all. I appreciate that you take the time out of your busy lives to talk with me each day. Thank you!

I love all of my fellow foodie pages/blogs. I feel honored to be considered among such inspiring and talented people. You all inspire, encourage, and strengthen me each day. When I read some of your blogs, I smile with joy to even know a glimpse of your lives and I feel unbelievably privileged that you open parts of your lives up to me. Without you, I do not know where I would be. I fell among some of the greatest foodies that I could have ever imagined existed and have met so many incredible people.

I never thought that I would make friends doing this. I was hopefully optimistic that I would run into some people, but never the caliber of people that I have. You all are amazing. You all are inspiring. You all are talented. You all are beautiful, thoughtful and encouraging. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your journey and I hope you continue to come along for mine.

Until Next Time,

Happy Blogiversary Countdown! 

Dieting is Deprivation. Deprivation does not work. Dieting must DIE!

Hi. My name is Melissa and I am addicted to food.

I am also a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers.

Who cares, right? Well, I care. And, honestly, I think more people should care, too. Weight is becoming has become an epidemic in this country across the spectrum; it is NOT isolated to a certain age group, gender or race. Nay, today toddlers to the elderly are dealing with being overweight or obese.

I deal with it every day.  And as I sit here listening to Adele belt out ‘Don’t you Remember,’ it is hard to forget that my weight is a struggle every day. Now, I realize Adele is not singing about weight in that song, but it seems like a perfect song for this particular moment when I am thinking about my past. I remember. In fact, I will always remember.

I was 175lbs in the fourth grade. I remember that. 

I remember kids making fun of me when I was growing up because I was obese. That is something you never forget.

I remember trying to eat better. I even remember joining weight watchers when I was in middle school to try to lose weight. I did. Then I gained it all back because my peers started noticing and asking about my weight loss. When that happened, I was even more aware that people knew I was overweight.

However, 21 years later something hit me. At almost 300 pounds I knew something had to change. Even now I am unaware of what actually hit me; but something did. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted something else.

I attempted Weight Watchers again, as an adult. It worked. I dedicated every ounce of my soul to losing the weight and meeting my milestones.

And my life changed forever.

Today I am a cool 120 pounds. I weigh substantially less today than I did when I was in elementary school.

Think about that. Right now, as I sit on my bar stool, listening to music, I weigh 55 pounds LESS than I did when I was in the 4th grade.

I want to cry. I want to scream. I NEVER want to forget how it feels to be fat and what it feels like to be skinny. It’s a delicate balancing act that I play with myself every single day; because if I forget how it feels to be either one of those things, chaos could ensue. What does that mean? Well, I will tell you. Forgetting that I was beyond obese growing up and how I felt deep down inside could allow me to become complacent. I never want to be overweight again.

Besides being an emotional drag about my life, what am I trying to say in this post? Well, if you are thinking that, I am glad. I do have more of a point. Let’s transition into that.

Obesity. Read it again. O B E S I T Y. It’s a horrid word. Now, put something more delicate in front of that word and watch it transform into something worse –

C H I L D H O O D         O B E S I T Y

That reads even worse, right? The children in this country are our future. We should be protecting them. We should be treating them correctly. We should be educating them. They should be healthy. I am ashamed sad that such a large percentage of children in this country are obese.

It is an easy disease to control; more importantly, it is an easy disease to prevent. Did you read that: PREVENT. Childhood obesity can be PREVENTED.

How? Well, I will give you some examples of just how easy it can be to prevent childhood obesity.

First, cook your own meals at home. And, no, I am not talking about deep fried fish sticks, chicken wings, popcorn shrimp, french fries and onion rings. Care enough about your children to cook them pasta, vegetables, wholesome meals.

Second, teach them why it is important to eat healthier foods. Explain to them why it is important to be healthy and active, to participate in social gatherings and to eat better foods.

Third, while you’re teaching them about all of the great nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, pasta, etc., teach them that they do not have to deprive their bodies of the fun foods. They can enjoy pizza and wings, french fries and onion rings; it important not to deprive them of ‘normal’ kid foods. Like I mentioned above, it is a delicate balancing act, but it is a critical balance.

Fourth, be active and involved with your kids. Make sure you lead by example because if you don’t, you are more likely to become complacent and your kids will too. Not only that, if your kids see you not following through with your advice, they will begin to question whether you know what you’re talking about.

Fifth, talk to the teachers, administrators, anybody in the school districts that will listen. Make sure they are serving your kids in the right way. It is important that you know what is going into your kids’ bodies; so, make sure that teachers are not ‘rewarding’ students with sweets. Do you think that is out of the question and absurd? Well consider this, my fourth grade teacher used to reward us every Friday with a big, delicious piece of sugar filled bubbalicious bubble gum. Now, that did not make me fat, but it makes a different to know what’s happening at school. In fact, my third grade teacher use to ‘reward’ helpful students with candy and treats. Again, that did not make me obese, but it is important to know what your child may be eating in school.

It is important to provide healthy alternatives in school, especially for school lunches. Now, once your drop your kiddo off at school, fate comes into play. You may very well send your child to school with a lunch packed full of delicious and healthy foods that will keep him/her alert and full for the remainder of the day. But that does not matter if your kid makes a deal with his/her friend about swapping lunches. There is a hope that another parent would have packed the same kind of things or that the cafeteria provides healthier lunches, but the reality is that not everybody is cognizant of health.

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to obesity in this country.

Therefore, it is important to be as active as your school will tolerate when it comes to introducing new kinds of food for cafeteria lunches, talking with teachers to make sure they are cognizant of lunch swaps, etc. Somebody is going to have to be the BAD guy. And, yes, kids are going to see you as a bad guy. WHO CARES?! But with adequate oversight, life becomes less of a struggle.

Now, I am fully aware that the school day only lasts for so long and the majority of children are not coming from healthy households; there is only so much you can do without crossing the line of being too controlling and overprotective. Remember, this process is a very delicate balancing act.

That is important for two main reasons:

  1. Remember, a happy meal every so often is not going to cause obesity. So, I think it is a little excessive to freak out about things like that.
  2. If you are too controlling and obsessive, your kids will likely lash out in not so good ways.
    1. For example, a parent that is too controlling could make a child, when he/she is old enough to make his/her own decision, do a beeline right for all of the fast food restaurants and be a glutton. You do not want to deprive your kids of anything; you must teach them about that balancing act of healthy and not so healthy options.
    2. Second, if you are too obsessive over your child’s weight, he/she could develop a not so nice eating disorder. So, the malicious disease you so desperately tried to prevent reared its ugly face in a different way. Having an eating disorder is no joke. Believe me. Having eaten too much my entire life, I know how horrible it can be. So, I can imagine how difficult the other end of the eating disorder spectrum is also.

While there is so much chatter right now over the high percentages of overweight and obese people in this country, there seems to be the same amount of chatter about how to deal with it, especially among children. But nobody is doing anything on a large scale. That needs to change.

Here is what I can tell you on a personal level when it comes to dealing with weight at such an early point in life, especially when it comes to a child who is already overweight.

Nothing that you say to an obese child is going to feel good to him/her. That’s the simple and real fact of the matter. Believe me. And, I will tell you why.

We live in a skinny world. We, obese people, live in a country that is dominated by skinny people. It’s weird to think about when we hear that one-third of this country is obese. But we rarely see those people on television, in magazines and in other media situations. Everything that we see around us screams skinny. And, we know that we’re overweight. We know that we’re obese. We know that something has got to give, but we don’t want to give ourselves. We don’t want to give up on who we are to become part of the mold. We are so set in our ways and nothing else matters.

Being obese is scary; but, letting go of that obesity is even more frightening. It is our identity. It is who we are. And the longer we stay that way, the longer we identify with that body, that image, those excuses, our foods. Therefore, the longer we stay that way and tell ourselves that we are happy in that body, leading that path in life, the more comforted we are with our routine.

Believe me. I lived my entire life being overweight obese. When I moved beyond those mean people and into the arms of my mom who told me that I was beautiful and kind hearted, compassionate and brilliant; that I was a person who deserved love and deserved to love myself, I believed that. I believed every word that my mom said to me. My mom was there for me in moments of true personal disaster and insecurity; she was there to pick up the pieces and tell me to feel good about who I was. And, for a long time I hid behind those lies I told myself.

See? Even in moments of severe personal distress about being obese and being made fun of, I still stuck with my old habits. I turned to food. Food NEVER FAILED me. At least that’s what I thought.

But, food was failing me. Food was taking over my body; it was seizing my life. And, I deserved to have my life back.

I tell everybody that I have no idea what made me want to lose weight. Honestly, I think God pulled me from a very dark point of my life and put me on the right path. It is the only thing that makes sense to me, even as I sit here today. I know that the decision was made by me, but I have no idea why.

However, I was an adult when I finally decided to take back my life.

Enter: delicate balancing act.

A lot of these kids today may not have the time I did to make the decision; it is important that they take control of their lives back today, before it is too late.

How? How do you tell a young girl she has to lose weight? That is part of this vicious cycle of obesity. It is controversial on every level. But, I do not care about controversy. I would rather be controversial at a pivotal point in life and help change the lives of children than follow the status quo. Screw the status quo.

If people are serious about fighting this epidemic there are simple solutions that can be implemented right away:

  1. Educate teachers, school boards/districts, principals, etc.
  2. Implementation of healthy lifestyle, structure, learning tools in every grade level
  3. Healthy options must be introduced at all levels in every school
    1. And I’m not talking about just lettuce leaves and carrot sticks. Let’s be more creative and make it fun. President Obama is spending trillions of dollars? Write to him, write to your representatives, tell them your kids deserve better. TELL THEM YOUR KIDS schools deserve some money. Let’s stop talking about obesity. Let’s start doing something about it.

TELL THEM.

DEMAND IT.

YOU ELECTED THEM.

THEY WORK FOR YOU!

REMIND THEM THAT YOU’RE IMPORTANT!

Okay, let’s move passed the politicians in Washington, obviously my blood started to boil just thinking about them. How do we deal with the children that are already obese? How do you get them on a diet? How do you talk to them about their weight? All of these questions are very important and there are tons more, I know.

Let me tell you that the solution should NEVER be a DIET. Let’s think about the verb here in this sentence: I’m going on a diet. In its basic stage, it implies that you’re going to restrict yourself to eating less food to lose weight. I personally think the strategy of DIETING is WRONG!

I cannot remember ever dieting in my life. When I decided I wanted to lose weight, I joined Weight Watchers. The basic foundation of this AMAZING Corporation is eating for your body. There is no dieting involved with WW and that is why it works.

I think the idea of a diet is sending the wrong message to kids. If you’re going on a diet, you’re likely going to come back from it, too. Right? Instead of dieting, there has to be a fundamental change in one’s eating patterns and ways of thinking about food in order for there to be long term success. That is why nobody should ever approach this sensitive topic with the idea of dieting. It should be proposed and discussed as a lifestyle, a different mentality, a new path. It is something that must always be on. And, if that is the case, if the path is permanent, then deprivation cannot be a member of the process. Deprivation coincides with dieting. If dieting is not part of our future, then deprivation must die too.

Yep. Eat a cheeseburger.

I say EAT A PIECE OF PIZZA

Go out and enjoy some onion rings and wings.

But do it in a healthy way. That’s what we need to teach kids. Eat what you want in moderation. And if you introduce exercise and activity into your life as well, then HOT DAMN you’re going to be unstoppable and healthy.

That’s how you present the delicate subject of weight to kids. You don’t give them a book about how to diet and why you have to diet. That may only reinforce the insecurity the child has with weight already. It is important to sit down with kids and talk to them on an individual level to understand how they feel and what their fears are while also coming up with a mutual plan of encouragement, acceptance and change with regard to healthy eating.

It is important that kids know they do not have to give up their favorite foods to be healthy; while also telling them that other foods are important too. Having a conversation with a child is not as hard as so many people make it. They are people. You help them understand. You talk to them the way the deserved to be talked to. You let them ask questions and have concerns,  you let them freak out and then you bring them back to reality with comforting words, advice and ideas that will help encourage them.

REMEMBER, it is important not to tell kids they have to go on a diet. There is such negatively associated with diets, as there should be. Diets are no good. Diets don’t help the cause. In fact, they cause more stress on your body and mind. Diets should die. I think this is a critical piece of the puzzle: making sure kids know they are not dieting and do not need to diet. They need to know that pizza is coming along for the journey and they are going to be able to enjoy their favorite foods, but they are going to be eating it in a different way.

It’s the first day of the rest of your life.

I AM TALKING TO YOU AND YOUR KIDS.

It’s the FIRST day of the REST of your life.

DO NOT START IT BY DIETING.

Throw out the dieting books, magazines and internet printed guides.

Our lives are a delicate balancing act and weight is no different.

Balance it the right way with an actual life change.

Balance it the right way for your kids by getting involved, talking to those people who can help, demanding the time, money and effort of those people who have the responsibility of serving you and your family; do it by changing your food course for the rest of your life.

If people can balance it the right way, they will not have to struggle everyday. Believe me, once you have an issue with weight, it is ALWAYS an issue. Even after losing all of my weight and maintaining it for 6 years, I still struggle every single day. Let's do right by the kids in the country and help them not have to struggle every day like so many of us do. 

Because Life is Complicated Enough... I do not want you to feel alone in any of your struggles, especially this one. 

You do not have to struggle for as long as I did

The Art of Networking. The Art of Being Genuine. The Art of Not Burning Bridges.



Because Life is Complicated Enough was created for a couple of reasons. First, I have a lot to say and am very opinionated and while I think many of my foodies can appreciate that about me, I am not certain all of my opinions and advice should be mixed in with my recipes. Second, somebody really infuriated me in the food blogging world and I needed an outlet to write about it.

That brings me to why I am writing today. Last February a pretentious foodie demanded I follow her orders… or else. Or else? She obviously had no idea who she was dealing with because I do not take idle threats lightly and I will put anybody on blast if I think they are out of order. Like I have said before, it is in my blood. However, something more happened in her moment of pure pretentiousness.

She instantly lost her ability to network with me. Networking is a critical piece to many puzzles, especially in the professional world. I am by no means a professional epicure or a professional blogger, but I do know a lot of incredible foodies who have blogs and, at one point or another, we have all helped generate support, attention and notoriety for each other.

She missed out.

What is this post all about? Well, it really boils down to networking. Networking is simply another term for developing and maintaining contacts and personal connections with a bunch of different people who have the potential of helping you further your career. Now, for most of us, the foodie and blogging world is far from a career, but this standard of communication can really come in handy when trying to expand your circle of followers and page friends.

It is important to remember that every page you encounter and every person that takes a minute out of their day to follow you is an actual person. Be nice to them.

Plenty of people will give you the networking rundown if you ask them; and, believe me, it can become very overwhelming and that is because so many people have their own views of important networking tips that worked for them.

Here are some very basic networking essentials:

  • First, meet people who can actually help you attain your goal [whatever goal that may be]
  • Second, collect and update contact and personal information about these people
  • Third, keep in regular contact with these people. It is important they remember who you are and also that you have the stamina to maintain a relationship with him/her
  • Fourth, remember to thank people for their help. Never let help from other people go unnoticed; thank them personally and remember to help them if they need help!
  • Finally, do not EVER expect your contacts to do the work for you; do not EVER demand them to do something for you; and, NEVER guilt people into doing the networking for you either!

Bingo! It’s the last one. You got me. That’s why I am writing this post today. I am a woman scorned and I will not be messed with.

It is incomprehensible to me that anybody would ever demand or guilt somebody else into networking for them. Are you kidding me?

Alas, human kind has failed me again. Yes, that means exactly what you think it means. Somebody actually had the audacity to guilt people into networking for them. I witnessed it with my own two eyes and I was appalled for half of the night last night. I was beyond appalled; and, I have no idea what that even is.

I will tell you it was not in a professional setting; but that does not make a difference to me. I have worked for EVERYTHING I have [and don’t have, for that matter] in life, including my blog, and so have most of the people I know.

Don’t get me wrong, I have asked for a lot of help through the years, and even recently with my blog. Asking for help is IMPERATIVE in a world where a clogged toilet can be confusing. It is imperative to ask questions and ask for help. Simply imperative. However, for me, there is a line in networking and in seeking help that you should not cross. And if I sound pompous, I apologize, but if you cross that line and I am witness to that line being crossed, you are no longer credible to me as a professional [or a food blogger].

Yes, it is a hard decision to make, but unfortunately I made that decision last night.

For me networking and communicating with all of my friends in my virtual foodie world puts a smile on my face every single day. It is fun. It is exciting. Every day I know I am going to run into somebody new or a new recipe. I know it. And I think when you are having fun with what you are doing, when you are treating your friends, partners, competition, fellow foodies with respect and admiration, then good things will follow – new followers, new shouts, increased numbers, etc or a new job, new professional opportunities, etc. Whether it is in your virtual life or your professional life the way you treat people and how you conduct yourself is imperative to success, even if your success is slow and steady and does not take off like a wild fire.

Ever heard the story of the tortuous and the hare?

Life –professional or virtual - is not a popularity contest. For instance, instead of worrying about the amount of followers you may have on your website, worry about communicating and creating a bond with the people you have now. If you are successful with that, you are bound to increase your activity, no matter what!

The importance of networking is not to create a bunch of superficial connections only to use them to your benefit, or call in a favor when you need it or guilt people into doing what you want them to. No, networking is about boosting your relationships with other people knowing that if you are sincere in your pursuit, they will be sincere in their will to help you. Superficiality will always yield a disastrous outcome.

So, as I sit here with one person in mind I cannot help but to reflect on the moment this person appalled me. I had a few choice words and more than a few choice thoughts, which led me here today. While I may instantly put a person on blast when they are abusing their position, in some instances I will bite my tongue. In this particular instance, I will not approach the person, I will not tell you who the person is and I will not treat the person any differently. Wondering why, huh?

I will tell you. In some instances a person’s actions, as vile as they may be, create an outlet for something greater. How can something great come out of something vile? Well, take this post for instance. When this person crossed the line from trying to network to guilting & demanding others to help him/her in his/her networking endeavors it lit a fire under me. And that fire compelled me to think about the situation and write about the importance of networking and the importance of doing it right and not abusing the relationships you build [whether professionally or otherwise]. See, that’s a good thing, right?

Remember,

Networking is important;

Networking the right way is imperative;

Do not cross the line from networking to demanding your connections do something for you; and

Life is not a popularity contest, so have fun!

Because Life is Complicated Enough… without having to worry who is going to like you or hate you for not falling into their demands, I wrote this post to help you remember that life is not a popularity contest and you should not take people who do this to you so seriously!

Until Next Time,

Happy Networking

Lost Moments; Lost Hope; New Change

I want every minute and year back that I wished away as a child. What about you? Remember when the world was a kid to us? I remember being young and resentful that I could not access all that the world had to offer; so as any child I began wishing I was older. I can still hear my mom telling me not to wish time away because one day I would want it all back. Yeah right, mom I used to think. Yes, my mom was right. Incredible how this whole ‘adults know more than kids do’ scenario keeps creeping back into my life.

The problem with wishing all of that time away is that we can never get it back. Once time is gone, it is gone. There is no tapping into the past to relive it.  I guess the question becomes would I relive the past if I had the chance? Hell yes, why not? Now the more important question is would I change the past? While there are plenty of moments that I would like to change from my past, I know everything I have experienced as led me to my one true love – Nick – and I may lose him if I changed anything. Therefore, I would go through my life in the same manner so that I could find him again.

Now, would I like to change the past? That’s a horse of a different color. Sure, there are plenty of decisions I would like to do over. For instance, I had an incredible network of friends when I was younger. I want them back. However, the circumstances of life got the best of us so we all parted ways. They are all doing incredible things in life and I know this because of the wonders of social media. But I want more than that, I want them back. That is one of my biggest regrets as I trotted off to college – not fighting harder to trudge through the petty drama that sometimes trapped us. Pure circumstance of the time – we were young and everything was a big deal.

Not everything is a big deal. Period.

As I ventured off to college I was still wishing time away. I was foolish. I only wanted to get through the semester. I want all of those moments back, too! Each semester presented new difficulties and, academically speaking, I wanted each semester to end quickly; finals are not a joy to experience, obviously. I wished to survive an expedited finals period so that I could go home and relax. Home was never relaxing. But that is a post for another day.  

Are you wondering if I would change anything about my college life? The only thing I would change is the fact that I never asked for help when I needed it. I am talking far beyond particular classes, because when I needed help I did communicate with the professor. I am talking about with advisors that could have helped me better handle the rigors of academic life and studying techniques. I am sure if I would have started learning new studying techniques my life would not have been filled with such anxiety and countless nights awake studying when my friends were fast asleep. I would change that, if I could.

Graduate School and Law School will not be discussed because I am confident you all understand what I am saying.

Enter present day life. 

Remember, not everything is a big deal. But some things are HUGE! 

I’m sitting here drinking my purple Gatorade in hopes of stopping the possibility of another kidney stone, fuming over the affairs of this country and world. Our administration is failing us. That is all I keep thinking. The highest position in this country only talks to us. I could care less about hearing what you want to do. Stop talking to us; roll up your sleeves and get down to business – do it!

We elect people based on promises. Have we forgotten that people break promises every day? We put our economy, political, and social livelihoods in the hands of people who continuously break promises to us. It is like a bad marriage or friendship; we depend on these people to work for the good of our country and EVERY person and they continuously break their promises to us. And because we depend on them we keep going back; we believe they will keep their word to us. We are foolish.

I want my votes back. I want that time spent listening and reading about our representative’s back.

I am sick of hearing about how we must go to college to advance ourselves professionally. I say it’s BULLSHIT! I went to college. I went to graduate school. I even went to Law School and all I have is a pile of debt that no organization or agency in this country is willing to see it, in fact, as a personal or professional asset.

I want my money back.

However, I would be willing to negotiate. You keep my money but in return I want you to create jobs, provide insurance and economic, political and social stability in this country. I want you to take care of your citizens. And, no I am no talking about blanket governmental regulations that apply to all individuals. Reading between those lines – read this: no socialism.

I want our administration and our political leaders to go back to the basics; remembering why they hold such a special office and place in this country: the people. You serve us, not the other way around. Stop battling on the floor of congress; stop playing the blame game; stop talking about what you want to do; stop it all. Just stop. What you need to do is go back to the basics of office – focusing on the people. Too many of us are in over our heads with student loans, too many of us are unemployed, too many of us are uninsured – do something about it.

Help your constituents. Stop spending our money. Stop freezing jobs. Start acting like adults. Do better at the job you were elected to; that we elected you to. 

As I sit here stewing over my current predicament I cannot help wishing to change the past; demanding, in my head, all of those moments I wished away. I know it will never happen; therefore, I need to push on and continue with life. But I need this country to make it a little less difficult for good people to do good things in this country and world; it is virtually impossible for people like me to find “hope” with a stand-still economy and the on-going bureaucratic tape binding the minds of our politicians.

I want my hope back.

YOU have stolen it from me.

I need a different kind of change... Because Life is [already] Complicated Enough 

Bolts of Verbal Lightning and Your Advice

Several months ago, probably before most of you knew of me, I was virtually confronted by another food-blog person. Let me take you back to the story. It was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to create a couple of treats for Nick and his friends at work. I decided on three separate treats. They can be found here! One of those treats was chocolate covered cherries. I noticed that this other food blog person had recently posted a chocolate covered cherries recipe and I thought I would give hers a try. Let’s fast-forward to when I posted my blog filled with my Valentine’s treats. When I posted the Chocolate Covered Cherries recipe I gave a shout out to the person I adapted the recipe from and linked back to her blog. Nice of me, right? I mean, it was the right thing to do all around. However, she did not approve. In a message sent to me over FB she tried to scold me and demand I ask her permission to use ANY of her recipes. On top of that demand she added a little “I work very hard at creating my own recipes” statement. I was immediately irate and slightly amused all at the same time. How dare she demand I ask her permission even though I did my due diligence by citing her blog! The funny part was how up-in-arms she was about the simple chocolate covered cherries recipe. She really worked hard on creating that? Come on, really?

I have a hard time biting my tongue. It’s really all of my training. I whip back like a fierce bolt of lightning that refuses to be contained. I try to restrain my words so everything comes out coherent and more dignified than my initial thoughts. In those moments after I read her arrogant message I was furious and would not go away without some sort of response. That’s where the next post came along, Blogger’s Fury. Honestly, Blogger’s Fury guided me to creating a separate part of my blog that would allow me to write about world affairs, difficult situations, struggles, pretentious people stepping on my turf and everything else that causes us to feel any morsel of emotion in life; enter Because Life is Complicated Enough…

So here I am today maximizing this part of my blog on that same person that months ago pretentiously demanded me do as she told me. I am going to be as objectively sincere as I can be right now because I need your support and advice! I do not like her blog. I do not like the types of food she posts about and I think the quality of her blog wanes in comparison to most of my favorite foodie friends. In fact, I stopped checking her blog months ago when she decided to create a facebook page right after she noticed I created one. For a long time she stayed off my radar for several reasons; first, I was working hard on creating a better blog; second, I was getting down and dirty learning how to cook; third, I was battling a darn kidney stone; fourth, I realized her style and my style were so different that I became uninterested; fifth, no longer was whatever  bloggie relationship I thought I could develop with her viable; I realized it was now some sort of angry competition filled with jealous rivalry and I wanted no part in it; and, finally I was working hard on creating new relationships.

For all I know she was doing the same thing. So for months she has stayed out in the periphery. That is until recently. I feel like I am slowly but surely meeting great people, networking with positive foodies and incredible cooks. I value each of you and, in some way, you have all impacted my foodie life. With these connections and my consistent networking endeavors I have witnessed my facebook page grow steadily as well as my blog! I am amazed and honored that so many people have an interest in checking me out and I am amazed that you all keep checking back with me! I will do anything to help any one of you and I know each of you would do the same for me! What an awesome feeling to have such a great group of virtual friends!

However, unfortunately, that relationship does not exist between me and my foodie archenemy.  And it was not for my lack of trying. Recently, I’ve noticed she has been using some of the same recipes I am using. They are pretty simple recipes, but I cannot help but to think back about the chocolate covered cherries incident of February 2011. It seems like the circle is coming back around, yet I will NEVER tell her to cite me for something as simple as a WW recipe, pudding or even Sweet Tea. Even though that is a recipe that is all over the internet, in cookbooks, on blogs, etc., I found a great version of it and wanted to give all of the credit to my friend S&B earlier this month. See, that’s what I think this whole foodie world is all about – working together, giving credit to each other, suggesting, laughing, communicating and just having fun. It is NOT a competition and she made it that, at least in my eyes!

It would not be such a horrible situation if it was only something small like Sweet Tea. No, now it seems as though she is intruding on my wonderful group of food friends. I love bringing new people into our circle, suggesting people to visit your pages and recommending people take a look at your blogs. I love that aspect of my relationship with all of my foodie friends. However, when I think of her trying to step on MY turf I feel the bolt of lightning about to strike its mighty blow. I have had a couple of days to think about what to say and what to do. The best thing I could think is to use my words and utilize the Because Life is Complicated Enough… section of my blog. This is, after all, what I created this section for – to talk about those things that affect me [and others] in life. The difference with this situation is I have no idea what to do and I need some advice. I need YOUR advice, foodie favs! What am I to do? I do not want this negative person to penetrate the relationships I have created with you all. I do not want any part of that negativity that she created months ago to seep back into my blogging life.

Usually it is me giving you all advice that I have utilized or learned in situations but today I plead to you, what shall I do?

Until Next Time,

Don’t waste time on another’s toxic character! 

The Low-Down Dirty Dog Moving Blues

Moving stinks! I’ve had to do it twice in less than a year. I am not pointing any fingers, but I will tell you this was not my idea [and my 9 pound killer Yorkshire Terrier did not make the decision, either!]. There is tons of advice I could give to everybody reading this right now, but I do not have enough time. You see, I still have tons of unpacking to do. You know what that means? It means another night of take-out and another night out of the kitchen. I guess I don’t really mind it. Nick feels a little guilty that I have to do all of the unpacking and arranging that he lets me choose the food we order. That’s the only real perk.

I will give you my Readers Digest version of advice for moving.

First: Do not EVER move, if you have to. You’re probably thinking that is unrealistic advice and sighing in disbelief. Well do not worry, I’ve got more advice.

Second: Do your research and do it extensively. Like I mentioned above we have moved twice in less than a year. The first time we did not have much time at all so we went with a moving company that Nick’s family had prior experience with. That turned out to be an EPIC fail. The second time around we had a little extra wiggle room and started doing our research weeks in advance. We decided on Mayflower because they are reputable and seemed to have their business together. One big lesson learned: not all big named companies can pull it together professionally to get the job done. We have had nothing but a headache as a result of poor management, poor communication and poor business by Mayflower. It started with the associate that was supposed to assess our belongings and give us a quote never showing up. YES HE NEVER SHOWED UP! Nick took some time off of work that day, but do you think that Mayflower considered that when they told us it was not their fault? Not your fault? Are you kidding me? We contacted you. We scheduled an appointment for you to come out. YOU gave us a date and time and YOU never showed up. And it’s not your fault? Yeah, and the sun does not rise in the East and set in the West. Give me a break! I won’t go through all of the gritty details – and they are gritty – but I will tell you as poorly as our experience started with Mayflower it still continues. Our most recent problem was the fact that more than half of our belongings [expensive I might add] arrived damaged, broken, scraped and smelling horribly. Oh and all of those things arrived with a self-loathing and complaining truck driver that also told us nothing was his fault. No really, the sun does not rise in the East & set in the West?

Third: Check in frequently with whoever is your moving coordinator. This was critical for us. Had we not tried to find out what was going on, we would have been sitting in our apartment for 5 days without our stuff. Yep, we were told that getting our stuff delivered on May 16 would not be a problem. Turns out our truck did not leave until after May 13 and arrived on May 20.

Fourth: Get everything in writing. We stupidly believed these morons because along the rocky road our contact continued to reinsure us that our stuff would be delivered by May 16. Never trust anybody!

Fifth: Document everything that goes wrong. You want to include days, dates, times, people, etc. You want to make sure all of your ducks are in a row.

Sixth: Stand up for yourself. We called every chance we could – particularly because nobody would call us with updates. It’s a matter of principle. WE paid them thousands of dollars to move us across the country. We TRUSTED that they would handle our belongings with care and respect. And for the money we were paying them we expected diligent communication from the company. That never happened. For us this whole experience has been a Charlie Foxtrot. It got to the point that so many things continued to go wrong and we would call for clarification or to complain that our “moving coordinator” stopped returning our calls, stopped taking our calls and started screening our calls so that she did not have to talk to us. I would like to thank you Kirsten, from Mayflower from the Sierra Vista/Tucson branch, for being so dynamically unqualified and rude to us. It SURE has made us feel like valued customers. YEAH RIGHT!

I guess that is all I have to say right now. I know you’re probably thinking, “you promised the Reader’s Digest version of your move.” Well, I will tell you unfortunately that is the Readers Digest version. There is an intricate and long list of problems encountered along the way. I would suggest not going with Mayflower when you have to move, but I do have hope that the Sierra Vista/Tucson branch does not reflect the entire company’s qualifications. So do your good faith research and if you have time have several companies come out and assess your belongings and get quotes from them all. If something seems wrong or somebody is mistreating or disrespecting you, your time and your belongings trust your gut and remove that company from the running!

Because Life is Complicated Enough... when you have to move, I thought it would be nice to have small tips to prepare you for your next move! 

Until Next Time,

Be Happy You Are Not Moving!

One of the main reasons we were both able to keep our cool is because of our little puppy:

pippy sleeping.jpg

How could you not smile when looking at that puppy? He's even super cute when he's kicking back in the car & fast asleep!!! :)

Osama Bin Laden and Politically Polarized People

Today is a historical day. Today the United States of America and her allies can officially celebrate the taking of a man who viciously attacked our country, celebrated his role in that destruction and had successfully eluded our country, our soldiers, our allies and our intelligence mechanisms for almost ten years. Today, I say THANK YOU again to all of those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending the most amazing country in this world. I say THANK YOU to all of those men and women who have committed their time to securing this free and sovereign nation. Today, I say THANK YOU to the families of military and intelligence personnel. It is because of YOUR unwavering support and dedication to this amazing nation that we can stand strong and united against a foreign enemy. We stand taller today. We stand prouder today. We stand more united in our mission to secure our borders, or nation and our people against all enemies both foreign and domestic. This is a day of jubilation and I refuse to let anybody take that from me.

However, somebody did try to take it from me. Somebody tried to turn a simple statement of mine into a dramatic social media spectacle. I do not take things like that lightly. I also do not take people like her lightly and I will tell you why. She is politically polarized. My simple statement about giving all credit to our servicemen and women and not giving it to Obama was stretched into me being an ultra-conservative who cannot see past my GOP affiliation. Really? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Did I just read that right? I could not believe it. I was perplexed and angered because this person does not know me. She was a casual acquaintance that I happened upon during a part of my life where nothing really mattered except re-finding my path in life. More importantly she is collecting information about me via Facebook. Again, is this really happening? She thinks I am an ultra conservative because I do not like some of Obama’s policy & his inadequate implementation of policy. How can she know my political views just because I do not like one politician? It is preposterous!

Of course I fired back because that it what I do. All of my years in political classes, security classes and legal classes equipped me with a concrete will to defend myself no matter what. I kindly informed her she did not know me, she did not know my political affiliation and how could she? She was stealing random tidbits of information from my facebook page and making it into a story to fuel her already polarized liberal views. I despise actions and verbiage like that! There is no getting through to somebody so far gone that a simple comment about crediting our troops suddenly sees it as a platform to spew left or right wing party politics without understanding how arrogant and foolish they look. I was unimpressed. I was uncomfortable. And, I felt embarrassed for her; just like I feel embarrassed for every other polarized person. Where does somebody get off trying to tell me what I believe? To tell me what my motivations  and intentions are? Nobody, nobody tells me who I am or what I believe, especially somebody who does not know me. Oh no, I do not take people like that lightly. And, neither should any of you!

You know the age old saying, “When you assume, you only make an ass out of you and me?” Well I always understood that statement on the surface, but I never completely understood how I could be an ass when somebody else is making the assumptions. Today it hit me. It was a bit of an AH-HA moment after all of these years. Of course I begin to look like a fool because I am actually taking precious time away from my life to argue with somebody who is not equipped with the requisite facts to legitimize this attack. It dawned on me in the wee hours of the morning that this whole conversation was foolish and was a waste of my time. At the end of the day this person knows NOTHING about me. I love the United States of America. I love my Soldier with every ounce of my heart! I am proud that he fought against terrorism and defended this nation. I respect George Bush for making a difficult decision to take our men and women into two countries to find Osama bin Laden and quell terrorism and I am thankful that Obama told our Special Forces to act on their intelligence so they could take the target.

Many of us encounter people like this in daily life. Some of us are at a junction in life where you may have to decide to walk away from superficial scrutiny like I encountered this morning. This is my advice – think about who this person is to you in your life. Is this person special? Is this personal meaningful? Has this person impacted my life in an acceptable way? Is this person pushing me to think harder, analyze better and understand the world outside of the box? If you can answer in the affirmative then talk with this person and tell them how they are making you feel. For instance, Nick, my boyfriend, has the tendency to be a polarized conservative. I don’t like this about him. However, he pushes me to think, to research, and to analyze. He helps to make my opinion well rounded, more substantiated and less polarized. How amazing is that? His ultra conservative tendencies help balance my understanding of the grey matter that exists between the bleeding heart liberal end and the off - the - scale GOP end. To me, that is irreplaceable. Therefore, he gets to stay in my life.

However, even if you answer in the affirmative it is important to know that your feelings of frustration and anxiety or anger are valid. When somebody is so polarized that it is impossible for them to see the other side [and you’re not like that] it may make your blood boil. It is okay to feel that way, but do not bottle it up because at some point it will come out in a not so constructive manner. Talk to those types of people that matter to you in life and tell them how you feel about their polarized views. More often than not, if they are somebody who respects you, encourages you and loves you, they will listen to you like you listen to them. And they may begin to widen their perspective. If they do not, who cares? That just means you will never run out of things to talk about.

Even though there are people who involve themselves in constructive debates there are, nevertheless, those people who do not. If you consider the questions above and you find yourself answering with negatives then you should consider the source from which this information is coming. Many people who are politically polarized are disrespectful and insulting because they are ill equipped with knowledge, stamina and class. When a statement turns into political banter and accusations, ask yourself if the person spewing the skewed ideas is somebody who is constructively supporting you in life. Ask yourself, “What does this person bring to my life?” More importantly ask yourself, “Where is this person getting his or her information [particularly about you]?” If you have a difficult time answering or know this person does not have specific and valid information straight from your mouth, then I think you might want to make the decision to cut the fat from your life.

What I have learned in life is that people who do not have constructive criticism and those people who believe they know you based on random information on social media sites really have less self-esteem, less of a life and tons of insecurity, which is why they are trying to transition that negativity onto you. I learned a long time ago not to take people like this seriously. In fact, I usually laugh out loud when somebody attacks me without knowing me. I think it’s marvelous. It becomes an analytical process for me. People never cease to amaze me. However, it took a very long time for me to understand that people who push their absurd views on me lack a certain esteem to peacefully coexist with people who believe beyond what they believe.

Like most things in life, you must find the balance with politics and politically polarized people in your life. It is not easy because along with religion, politics seems to swell up from the underbelly of society and is dispersed in extreme ways. That is because so many people believe so enthusiastically in what they deem to be important. I urge you to walk away from foolish people who make only assumptions about you and use those assumptions to expound an argument against you. It is not worth it. However, I advocate constructive criticism, differing opinions and valid arguments based on substantiated evidence and factual knowledge. Decide what people are best for your life. Laugh out loud when those people who do not build you up with constructive criticism attempt to invalidate your opinion; laughing is a great mechanism to get you through and may even diffuse the situation!

So let me get back to our wonderful military and this wonderful country! I do not care if you are liberal, conservative, unknown, not understood, or independent this is a great day to celebrate being an American. Go – talk to your friends, your colleagues, thank a soldier, do whatever it is you have to do to support this country and our special forces team that when in there and took the target! This is a day in history that should not be taken lightly and it should NOT be overshadowed by politics. This is not a political victory, but this is a victory for our country, our citizens, our soldiers, our allies and all of those in the intelligence community. If you have polarized and non informed people in your life forget about them right now. Remember these days! Be proud of these days! Some people may argue that all this talk only expands upon the hatred Osama Bin Laden expounded toward the United States and her allies. That’s ridiculous. Talking about the end of that symbolic reign should unify us. This is no time to retreat. We have to be united in our resolve to protect this nation and continue with our other missions.

Until Next Time,

Happy Victory! 

The Honorable Allies of Our Country

Do any of you watch the television show Coming Home? You know, it’s a show that has a similar premise to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This dude brings you to tears in the first 30 seconds of the episode by showing you clips of servicemen and women surprising their loved ones by coming home early and other similar types of situations. Sometimes, however, he presents to us a story about the ultimate sacrifice for our country – a story about a soldier who returns home with an American flag draped over his or her body.

I have to admit, I have watched the show only once. It is not necessarily because I do not like the show, though I wish the production team would piece it together in a different way, but, instead, I cannot even get through the commercials plugging the show without my hair standing up and my eyes starting to well up with tears. You’re probably thinking, “Man, this chick cries a lot!” You may be right, but I challenge anybody to sit down to watch this show and not feel one ounce of emotion for these families.

I am an American. I am proud to be an American; despite joking around about my ultimate dream of becoming a citizen of Israel in order to be a member of Mossad. That dream will likely only be achieved in my actual dreams. However, from a very early age I remember getting excited and proud when I saw soldiers. I had an innate understanding of what these men and women were doing for my friends and I that no one person ever had to explain to me. I just knew.

If somebody told me 10 years ago that I would be in love with one of those servicemen I probably would have laughed it off. When I think about seeing Nick in his uniform it makes me feel a ton of emotions from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes. Mostly the emotions are concentrated around my heart and in the form of tears streaming down my cheeks [yeah, yeah, she’s crying again. I hear you!]. Being in love with a soldier has many different and equally difficult implications.

While the implications are endless, there are important things we must understand. These men and women are serving our country and at any moment, when our country needs them, they have to go. While mobilization is not that fast, it is that easy. When they receive orders, stamped with the seal of our Executive Office, there is no turning off the alarm and rolling over in bed. Instead, their boots hit the ground, their patches go on and they walk away into the great unknown. The only certainty they have in their lives, and ours, is they are defending this great country and honoring their commitment to do so.

I was lucky to watch Nick go off to Iraq and come home without any injuries; emphasis on lucky. While these men and women have hours and weeks, months and years of training for entering an active combat zone, a lot can go wrong in a very short time and no amount of training may be able to stop it. For instance, on one of the episodes of Coming Home [yes, I attempted to watch it for a second time] a Marine pilot told the story of honoring one of his fallen comrades whose life was taken suddenly and abruptly; a man he never met but only spoke to over a radio. The show tends to talk to both sides: the family members affected and the soldier.  

I am not writing about this show because I want people to watch it; I am writing about it because one of the fallen soldiers’ friends said something that could bring anybody to tears, and obviously brought me to a blubbering mess. He simply had this to say about one of his dearest friends, “America lost a son; an honorable son, an honorable brother, an honorable friend and an ally for God, our country and family. He carried all of that on his back.”  What a powerful statement!! This is a statement that can be used to describe so many of our soldiers protecting this country.

When I think about Nick being a soldier, I smile wide with pride. I don’t always let him see that or know how proud I am of him. I don’t know if all soldiers are like this, but he has a slight macho complex. He thinks he is a big-bad-military machine sometimes and goes on these dorky rants about having a warrior gene. I usually roll my eyes and laugh at him. While I do not think HE has a warrior gene, I think being in an active combat zone becomes addicting and a thrill. It bothers me that people glorify it in movies and make us believe that the story always ends with a happy ending. It does not. War is serious and it scares me. Secretly I am glad he is home to stay indefinitely, but he loves this country and will do anything to defend it… even if that means going back into an active war zone.

I know a lot of people out there who may follow my blog or come across it are connected to a soldier; they have watched their son or daughter deploy; they have cried into the chest of their loved one as they dropped them off at the airport; or who have squeezed them so tight because they did not know when the next hug would come. That is why I am writing this entry. I know what it feels like. It will get better. While there are a ton of negative things attached to deployments, remember why these men and women are doing it. Our soldiers have dedicated their lives and time to protecting and defending this country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. You have to support them; love them; listen to them; honor them; help them; and encourage them, but don’t let it all go to their heads, either! 

The next time you see a person in uniform, I challenge you to thank them for what they are doing for us. Living in this town, I see innocent children who are unafraid and not embarrassed to do just that when they see a member of our armed forces in the grocery store. Hearing a child yelling Thank You for Serving in the middle of a crowded store will make anybody smile and proud, but not many adults will do the same thing. Do it! I challenge you!  

Until Next Time,

Stay Strong!! 

Losing, Creating and Following your Dreams

Sometimes life gets the best of me. What about you? I have followed my dreams down the wrong road, dead ends and back to school all over again. After a process like that it is hard to even know what one's dreams are anymore. My dream was to change the world. How you may ask? From a young age I thought that I would be an International legal powerhouse. I was going to focus on working with and for people everywhere whose voices were muted by the world. I followed that dream right into my first class of law school. I followed the dream into a law office as a clerk. And, I watched that dream pass me by when I realized how much I hated the law, the politics of small town [and big town] lawyering and the thick red tape that bound me from the muted voices. I was lost. But, I was skinny.

What does being skinny have to do with anything? Well, I will tell you. When I was following my dream into my first law school class, I was also bringing with me another important struggle; the struggle to be healthy. On my long journey to South Florida, I had already been on a tremendous journey in my personal life - I had managed to lose all of the weight that I carried around my entire life. Shedding the pounds was more emotional than I could have ever imagined; even today, as I sit here thinking about that journey and where I am today, I am fighting back streams of tears. 

The journey away from the law is the same feeling. I followed a dream I thought was MY dream, but in turned out to be wrong and I was lost. In the deepest moments of personal joy at finally losing weight and keeping it off, I was facing unmatched personal fear and uncertainty for the first time in my young life. Most people graduate law school around 25. We were young and the world was at our fingertips, but 3 years later I am lost and have a faint idea of the direction I want to go. 

I listen to my friends talk about how amazing their careers are and how they would not change anything and I see other friends transitioning into their dream world. I cannot begin to explain what it feels like to watch your dreams change without an idea of what your new dreams have become. 

In the midst of losing myself and my dreams, I met a wonderful man. No, not my handsome boyfriend but one of our mutual best friends. He does not know this, but he really helped keep me afloat for a long time. The moment I needed him, God sent him to me. To this day, this wonderful guy remains one of my closest friends and somebody I am very proud of and indebted to. Now, I just have the small task of finding him an equally amazing girlfriend. As I was regrouping, and with my new friend by my side, I was introduced to my boyfriend. Nick is amazing. He is patient. He is kind. He is supportive. He is brilliant. He is handsome. He is a soldier. He is my hero. I could never have asked for a better half. As I was trying to refind my path, I found love. And while love is no substitute for personal goals and dreams, love does help you survive. We have survived a lot of things - deployment, school, family, moves, and dreams. He is my soul mate and I will fight for our love because he is part of my new dream. 

I don't know how my story ends and where my dreams start to take off. I can tell you without a dream life is more of a struggle. Part of my heart will always be attached to the law, but it was not for me. I think about those years as such a waste of time, but in reality it was not. I learned a lot. I was challenged and I met those challenges the best I could. 

I guess that's the only advice I can give, face your goals, your dreams or even your demons the best you can. Facing these things will never be a mistake or a waste of time because you are conquering little pieces of life that make you who you are. As life turns, we all can grow from these things. 

Life is Complicated Enough without having somebody to relate to so keep checking back for more stories, life's lessons and other things found along my way in life. 

If you have anything you want to share, please email me at: cooking.with.mel.p@gmail.com and I will feature your story on this part of my blog. Don't feel bashful, we are all struggling each day with so many things, telling your story may help somebody else. Or share with us some awesome restauarant or recipe or anything! Just share!!

See you soon!

Mel

Stress! STRESS!! I'm NOT Stressed!! .... well, maybe I am. How do I manage it?

So many of us have become accustomed to being stressed; so much so that we believe it is normal. If we believe it to be true, then it will likely become true. In reality, most of us deal with stress each day and on many different levels, so maybe a certain amount of stress is normal but how can we manage it?


I am the queen of stress. I work myself up into a frenzy over stupid things. Gosh, I was a tornado of panic in college and in my graduate career. I wanted to learn everything down to the periods and regurgitate it. While it does not help with mentally retaining all of that information, I somehow came out on top. People were constantly giving me advice and often times it was the same basic information over and over again.

Some of the basic signs that you are stressed can include:

feeling sad, frustrated, or helpless

having difficulty falling and staying asleep

avoiding social events

having no desire to eat or eating as a response of your emotions

having difficulty concentrating

feeling on the edge

feeling irritable and crying easily

 

So how do we quell these feelings and let the stress wash away?


First, there MUST be a balance between work, school, home and play. I was notorious for not playing or going home, I was always working too hard on all of my school work that I am amazed I did not lose all of my hair.

Second, turn to friends and family for support, making sure you are selective with those people you associate it with so you are sure to walk away feeling refreshed and uplifted. It is important to surround yourself with good people and to make sure you are as good a person you can be to those people you love and respect. While you may be having a difficult time, try your best not to bring your loves down to the dumps either!

Third, take time to relax! It is imperative that you breath in and out as often as you can. Relaxing can be anything that brings peace and stability to your life; it can be watching television, taking a walk, working out, reading a good book, listening to music or sitting in silence.Whatever it is, make sure your chi is back before you go back into the big bad world of potential stress. Not having it together before going back into the world can only compound the stress you feel!

Fourth, do your best to STAY POSITIVE! I can be a negative Nancy or a pessimistic Polly. I do not always see the glass half full, which can compound the stress in my life. Remember not everything has to be a troubling issue in life; embrace the uncertainty, seize the day and respect the moments in life. Sooner or later a positive attitude will yield positive results!

Fifth, GET ENOUGH SLEEP! I used to pride myself on being able to function on 3 hours of sleep a night and a couple of red bulls for breakfast the next morning during law school. While many of my peers were double fisting with beers and mixed drinks, I was the 22 year old double fisting energy drinks while making outlines and reading cases in each of my fifty pound casebooks. I was not sleeping but it is important to know when enough is enough. Getting enough sleep is important for information retention, for energy and concentration; it is important that we are able to concentrate on the important stuff in life!

Sixth, eat healthy and stay active! Working out and eating right keep your body in balance and help concentration, motivation and stamina! Believe me! Sometimes people think eating a light breakfast is the best thing for you, but in reality you might want to consider eating something heavier and heartier in the morning, especially if you are not going to have time to eat until much later in the day. Even though it may not seem appetizing, try a bowl of whole grain pasta in the morning. Because whole grain pasta contains more fiber, it will keep you feeling full and give you energy for a longer period of time!

Finally, do not be afraid to talk to a professional. Most college campuses offer free services for students because everybody knows that being a student in a professional school can be demanding. In fact, most universities offer that service for undergraduates, also! Talking to a counselor should not be intimidating and you should not worry that people are judging you. And, if people are talking about you because you want to talk about your stressful life then let them! They likely are suffering the same fate and are not able to stand up and take control back! It is important to do what is best for you outside the scope of judgmental people!!

I am  notorious for dishing out advice but failing to take it myself. I'm a sucker for equipping myself with good, positive and successful tips but becoming so overwhelmed in the moments in life that all of that good advice flies right out of my brain and I stomp all over it!! Most of this is easily controllable and could change the whole dynamic of your life if you can stay positive and healthy most days of the week!

What tips do you all have?

Until Next Time,
Stay Stress-Free!

Toxic People and Life's Lessons

I think life is a funny little roller coaster that goes faster the more people scream and squirm to get off and traps us on the ride until it is completely over. Roller coasters are dramatic, big and demand respect and attention. If engineers did not analyze, did not build and did not create with clear precision, the ride would fly off its tracks and become dangerous; sometimes life is the same way. So many times people forget that words hurt and actions hurt more. 


Many of us are struggling, like me, in different ways everyday. Some of us are struggling with school, with our jobs, with our weight, with relationships [all kinds], with money or with parents [or parental figures]. Really, the list is never ending and some struggles permeate through many of these at the same time. I know I'm struggling with several of these things and more. In the last six months I have had a tremendous amount of inner turmoil because of certain people in my life and it is affecting my relationship on many levels. I am not comfortable talking about intimate details of these struggles with the blogger world, but I think it is important to talk about it on a generic level because I know somebody out there will be able to relate. 


Everyday I wake up with doubts that are a result of conscious human decisions to do something or not do something. For instance, people choose to be manipulative, controlling, liars, etc. Unfortunately, I have been on the receiving end of all of these things for some time and at different times throughout my life. And while it is heart-breaking and emotional, because often times these behaviors exist only in the context of ones you love, I have learned that "when we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant or demeaning manner towards others, their behavior almost always is a symptom of their lack of self - esteem [and they] need to put someone else down to feel good about themselves" (A quote from Momma Curry).


I do not have an instruction manual to get off of this roller coaster of a life successfully and I am not certified to give professional advice, but I have learned some important things along the way. 


First, do not EVER deflate or devalue your opinion and feelings for anybody! In most instances your gut and your heart will guide you in the right direction and will not lead your feelings astray. 


Second, toxic people are not worth your energy or an emotional collapse. Toxic people, like quoted above, likely lack self-esteem, self - respect, respect for others, and exist only to bring people down to their level. DO NOT DO IT!


Third, it is okay to be upset and grieve; be angry and hateful but do not be vengeful! When you cross the line from feeling because you're hurt to acting against somebody because they hurt you, you only feed the toxic person with the negativity he or she needs to survive. DO NOT DO IT! You do not EVER want to stoop to his or her level. Feel, think, scream, cry, talk, but do not act on your emotion... do not sink to a level beneath yourself because it only feeds the beast!


Fourth, move on. Now, moving on for everybody is a different reality and a different process. So, if moving on for you is forgiving and forgetting - do that! If moving on is forgiving and not forgetting - then do that! If moving on happens to be bottling it up, writing it down, tallying all of the negative things this person [or these people] have done to you, then do that... but remember if you continue to associate with these people, they will continue to do what they are bred to do - BRING. YOU. DOWN! In a best case scenario, I always encourage myself to think about that relationship - is it worth it? what positives does this person bring to life? do these things outweigh all of the negativity? in most instances it's better to cut the cords than 
to continue with the toxic behavior the person has to dish out. I am at a point in my life where I do not need anything to bring me down.


Fifth, when you make your decision to move on [in whatever way you choose] you must stick with your decision. If you decide to cut this person, or these people, out of your life it must be an absolute. You cannot be on the fence with your decision because this can be viewed as a potential weakness, which many will prey on and use to continue to manipulate and control you. 


I have a problem with manipulative and controlling people. As a result of my experiences, I promised myself that I would never, ever continue in a relationship/friendship with anybody who tried or had the potential to manipulate and control me. I have successfully managed to eliminate and keep at bay many of those people. Sometimes, though, life thrusts you around that turn on the roller coaster and makes you unable to completely cut those toxic people out. In instances like this - where I currently find myself - I suggest doing the best you can with removing yourself from any environment where you do not feel safe and comfortable. 


I am sure many of you are asking: "well, what about confronting the person?; why not tell them how you feel? tell them what they are doing to you?" I would encourage anybody to have a grown up discussion with those people who are causing their inner turmoil, but prepare yourself for the conversation and problem to be about them and not what they are doing to you. I have had much experience with this. I give people the benefit of the doubt; I give all I have to people and I want the same in return. But sometimes that cannot happen and it is okay! 


Each situation is different and sometimes toxic attitudes in people are a manifestation of a horrible situation and if you confront that person they may be willing to make a change. That would be the most wonderful situation. However, in some instances the person will continue their wrath of negativity and manipulation until you refuse to allow them to affect you! Do not take as long as I did to realize that not everybody is worth your time and energy. Realize that you are WORTH much more than those people are willing to admit and respect yourself and your feelings to take back your control in life!


Because Life is Complicated Enough... without having people to relate to, I've decided to open up about these kinds of relationships and how somebody is causing me great personal stress. I hope that reading this somebody will decide to take a stand against any negative people in their life and demand the respect they deserve! 


Finally, remember - ALWAYS REMEMBER - there is somebody who loves you, respects you and will support you in your endeavors. Life is not about the quantity of people you have and associate with, it is about the quality of those people close to you. Surround yourself with the best and you will always be the best!!!




Until next time,
Stay Strong

Five Easy Rules that Helped Me Lose Weight

When I first started on my weight-loss journey, I was used to eating until I felt like stopping, not when I was full. As a result, I knew that I had to find foods that I could eat a ton of without too many calories; the idea of cutting down my food volume all of a sudden frightened me and I knew it would be detrimental to the beginning of my journey. So what did I do?

First, I realized that often times I felt hungry I was actually thirsty. So I would drink a glass or more of water and then I would decide if I was actually hungry. If I was, then I would eat something. This is a great trick to cutting calories and feeling hungry.


Second, I found foods that had few calories so that I could eat a ton of it! Most any vegetable packs little calories - we can all eat as many vegetables we want each day and it will likely NEVER cause you to gain weight. The problem is, I do not like many vegetables, so I turned to fruits. While fruits have more calories than vegetables [because of the natural sugars], they are still very healthy. Most fruit servings contain between 50 and 90 calories, with the exception of regular sized bananas - that is because bananas contain more fat than other fruits. So I survived on eating lots of fruits in the early stages of my weight loss.

Third, I found low calorie, high fiber [if possible] substitutes for my favorite meals and foods. For instance, I substituted regular bread for light english muffins, each one containing less than 50 calories - that was AWESOME  because I was able to make sandwiches for less calories. Instead of eating regular deli meat, I started to purchase the selects because the packaging plainly told me how many calories were in the container. In most instances, because the meat was sliced so thin, there were far fewer calories than regular lunch meats from the deli. As a result of my english muffins and meat selects, I was able to get away with making two english muffin sandwiches for the caloric intake of just over one! 

Fourth,I started eating the 97% fat free popcorn. Once popped, most 97% fat free popcorn tallies in at about 50 to 90 calories. This is such a good thing. I was able to each a bunch of popcorn, which saved me in moments when I felt like I was really hungry! 

Fifth, I cut out drinking all regular soda. This was very critical in my weight loss endeavors. I was able to drink a lot of liquid back then without it phasing me much and I was drinking a lot of regular soda. I first started introducing diet soda into my eating habits when I joined Weight Watchers. It helped me lose a lot of weight; I did not realize how many calories I was actually consuming. Many critics of soda now tell you that diet soda is unhealthy for you and, in fact, may contribute to weight gain. I am not sure I believe it, but I am also not drinking much soda nowadays!

I hope these few tips help anybody reading this who is struggling to lose weight. These little tips might not seem like a big deal, but they are! Remember, it's not about starving yourself so go ahead and eat as many vegetables and popcorn you want but make sure you're hydrating yourself, too!

 

Meet you all back here soon with some new tips!! Keep Checking!!

Struggles with Weight

First, I should say my mom is the best mom in the entire world! She gave me anything and everything I ever wanted or dreamed of with little exception! But most important, she spoiled me with all of the love in the world! With that being said, I always overindulged myself with food and drinks growing up and even into adulthood. I was very overweight for most of my life. I never thought much of it because I was lucky enough to have wonderful friends! I cannot even begin to tell you all how wonderful this group of people was [and are, by the way], the only wish I have now is that they all remain healthy and happy and I wish we could all be close again!

Of course, I was self conscious about my weight and the way I looked but it was a fleeting thought and I never did anything about it. Thinking back about it, I remember being constantly uncomfortable and always thinking I was able to hide behind my clothes. That was a big negative! I fooled myself into thinking people did not look at me differently and I brushed off those mean individuals that made fun of my weight. My mom also overindulged me with self-respect and dignity. These two things were very important for me in getting through a lot of potential misery. Even though my feelings were often hurt, I stood proud of who I was and what I was accomplishing! 

I think things started to hit me hard in college. I went away to a beautiful school with a great academic reputation that was sure to put me on the right path. I was the typical student - adjusting to living away from home and having a bunch of freedom, meeting new friends and hating my freshman roommate; who incidentally did not turn out to be such an awful person after all. However, I started to recognize my insecurity with my weight on a much grander scale. 

I always had crushes on boys, but I was never the girl those guys wanted to date. Of course I was bummed out, but in reality I think there was one turning point for me and that was when the guy, whom I thought was the love of my life, rejected me. I was devastated and did not know what to do. In spite of that, I finished my semester very strong and I went home for the summer. I occupied my time with work but something inside of me changed. I wanted to get healthy and lose weight. Even to this day, I do not know what made me approach weight loss, but the important part is that I did.

I joined Weight Watchers and started gradually to be active. Weight Watchers (WW) helped me see the other side and, honestly, the grass was much greener on the other side. I learned how to eat better and more importantly I learned that I could eat ANYTHING I wanted. That's right, ANYTHING! It is all about moderation. So as I was losing weight I was still able to have my special vices like pizza.

As I entered my Senior year at W&J the transformation had already started. I started working out - very gradually, not like Jillian Michaels would want or like the trainers on I Used to Be Fat. I introduced work-out machines into my life gradually, but I did it consistently and it WORKED!!

I don't know about any of you, but I thrive on results. So each week I weighed in at my local WW meeting and watched the pounds shed, I was more driven to do better, work harder and be more active and healthy. My friends and professors saw a transformation during my senior year that pushed them to approach me and talk to me, give me encouragement and ask how I was doing it! Everybody was so supportive and I was feeling great! In a matter of a year I lost more than 100 pounds!! That's right ONE-HUNDRED POUNDS!! Most people that I know now in my life [not from my past] cannot believe this little person could have been larger at any point. By the end of summer - the summer before Law School - I was able to shed an additional 30 pounds and at the end of my first semester of Law School I was successfully able to lose an additional 30 pounds! I've lost a total of One-Hundred and Sixty pounds! 

I did it all with the help of Weight Watchers, great gyms and wonderful family and friends that encouraged me along the way! It is by far one of the largest success stories I have under my belt, but it is also one of the hardest success stories to maintain. After losing the weight, I realized quickly that I never wanted to go back to my old way of life being over weight. Maintenance with weight loss is key and I have successfully met the big thresholds - maintaining it for 1 year and then 5 years. However, it is a daily struggle!

I hope that this post inspires at least one of you struggling with weight! It is very hard but VERY WORTH IT!  Now that I have introduced you to my struggle with weight, I am going to start blogging about healthy tips I have learned along the way and great tricks and secrets, too! I hope you all check back, leave comments, share stories. I would love to read about all of you! :)

Until Next Time,

Happy Eating Healthy! 

 

Acapulco 2010

 

Junior Year of High School

 

Capitol Diner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

I spent a lot of time in and around Harrisburg because Nick's family lives in the area; that is how I was introduced to a wonderful diner. One thing you should know is there are a ton of diners in the area, but only a couple stick out to me. The Capitol Diner holds a special place in my heart because I first ate at the Diner when Nick was leaving for his deployment training. As you can imagine I was a total wreck and I smothered my sorrow in the rich flavors of syrup and pancakes, bacon and coffee. I ate far too much that day, but it was well worth it after I realized how wonderful the food was.

The diner offers very generous portions and a wide ranging menu, which means even the picky eaters can find something tasty on this menu and walk away with a full stomach! In my opinion, however, I think this place is ideal for the breakfast seekers!! The service was great and the people are very friendly. We generally have a fairly large party when we go there and the service is always fast!

This place is made for any person - the young and old! The atmosphere is very laid back and pleasant to spend time in. Usually I like to sit and talk when I go out to eat and the managers and waiters do not pressure you to leave immediately. However, it may become more difficult to get the never-ending coffee fill after you pay for the bill. If you are okay with waiting, so that the servers can take care of other customers, then this place is right for you!!

Unfortunately, the diner does not have a website, but here is some important information:

800 Eisenhower Blvd

Harrisburg, PA17111

(717) 939-2279

I hope anybody living in the area or driving through the area will give this place a try. I guarantee you will not leave unhappy!

Until next time, 

Happy Exploring! 

Picture adapted from Yelp.com

 

 

 

Antelope Island in Salt Lake City, Utah

Nick had to spend some time in Utah before he deployed to Iraq, which is the reason I found myself spending some time there. One weekend he decided to take me to Antelope Island, which is a great way to see the Great Salt Lake. Utah has some beautiful scenery, but entering Antelope Island is so cool. 

When you enter, you drive on this very long stretch of road directly over the Great Salt Lake. It is such a great experience! Once you enter you can roam around in your car or on foot. Nick and I elected to do it mainly in the car. The twists and turns lead you to never-ending picture worthy moments and backgrounds.

The island offers much more than the possibility of beautiful pictures. There are tons of recreational opportunities, like tanning at the white sandy beaches or picnicking around the salty waters. If you are a lover or water, the Island has a sailboat marina. For those people that want to be direct and actively involved with their surroundings, the Island offers a kind of park and hike system; where people can feel free to hike or bike the terrain and the trails.

In addition to beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the Island has many other opportunities like camping. Nick and I did not do any camping, but it would be relatively easy for those people who have a recreational vehicle. In addition, those people camping will have an access pass to all of those hiking and biking trails. I could imagine that it would be cool to camp out on the Island. There are tons of Buffalo roaming around with Antelope. Although, the antelope were quite evasive, Nick and I were able to find some in the brush and around some of the small homes located on the property.

If any of you end up out in Salt Lake City you should visit Antelope Island, even in for a couple of hours.

Greenville, Maine

It has been almost three years since Nick and I began dating! Among the deep conversation that unfolded during our first date, Nick mentioned that he was thinking about taking a trip to Vermont to go skiing for part of Spring Break. I was surprised when he asked if I would be interested. I should tell you, I had never skied before but I was really interested in Nick, so I told him I was interested. About a week later Nick picked me up and we started our journey into New England, with Nick having giving me one new caveat to the trip: If there is no snow in Vermont, he would continue driving until he found snow. I agreed that I was okay with that and off we went. About 8 hours into the trip we realized quickly it was only raining in Vermont, New Hampshire, etc. and as promised Nick continued driving North. About 12 [or 14, who knows now] hours later we were in the middle of nowhere Maine, in the midst of snow piles easily 15 feet high and looking for a place to stay at one in the morning. We were very lucky and found Pleasant Street Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast! If you check out the website, take a look at the tours of the rooms. Nick and I stayed in Room 8!

Our Bed and Breakfast had a wonderful house manager who took great care of us, especially that first night we showed up on her door step in the middle of a cold night. Each morning we were offered breakfast and advice about what we should see and where to go during the day. One of the things I wanted to see was a Moose. One afternoon Nick and I drove around for a while looking for Melvin the Moose, but without success. The almighty Moose still evades me; it's very upsetting. I suggest anybody up in Maine to take a look around for Moose! If you don't see one, you still get to see the beautiful landscape!!

This little bed and breakfast is walking distance from what was two very awesome establishments. The first was a great little snowmobile rental, ski and snowboard and gear store called Northern Outfitters. It was located right around the corner from our B&B, which was great for this first time skier [and shopping addict]. I was able to pick up some pretty great gear, while Nick shopped for new skies. Yep, he bought skies! Since we arrived so late the first night, we decided to take it easy and stay around the area, so our little ski shop rented us a snowmobile and we went out and around Moosehead Lake! It was such great fun! We spent half a day exploring the Greenville area on our snowmobile. One very awesome thing about Maine is it has an intrastate for snowmobiles [in the winter] and four-wheelers [in the summer]. It is awesome to be able to travel all around Maine on something like a snowmobile, but remember to dress in layers and take a rest because your butt will begin to hurt!!

After a half day of exploring the area we worked up an awful big appetite! So very near our ski shop and bed and breakfast was The Black Frog, an awesome restaurant that has dining that overlooks the lake. It had a great atmosphere and was very laid back. I remember stuffing my face with all of the great food they had.

Finally, we did go there to ski. So we ended up skiing on Saddleback Mountain. While we were there the weather conditions were pretty harsh. The first night we arrived it was snowing like crazy, when we woke up the next morning [our first full day] an additional 12 inches fell and the next day an additional 6 to 12 inches fell. It was WONDERFUL for people who love snow, like Nick and I! However, with the snow came lots of wind, which made conditions on one of the local mountains very dangerous. We were only able to get out there one full day. I had a great time learning how to ski, but I was very scared! The mountain had a nice program for beginners - there was a 1/2 day training course by an expert skier so I was in great hands! I psyched myself out well before I got in my skis so I was a little tense most of the day!

I would recommend this adventure to ANYBODY! It was a great experience with my very new man and it is something we talk about frequently! In fact, we were so inspired during this trip that we went up again during another Spring Break, but we traveled to a different location [which I will be blogging about soon!]

Until next time,
Happy Adventuring!!