Saturday, May 10, 2014

A2Z: Getting There Without Turning Around Along the Way

This is the message that is drilled into our heads in today's instant gratification focused world, but I have a problem with it.  There are words missing.  Important words that as a result of being omitted cause many people to lose hope, stop believing and eventually give up on their dream.  This quote should read:
Think big, dream big, believe big and the results
(after a lot of hard work, many failures and
countless small victories)
will be big.
Don't get me wrong, there are many people who have the extreme drive or simply the luck to leap from point A to point Z in a single bound.  That is not me.  How many ideas have I had that I have taken the time to sit down and write out that have never made it off the paper?  How many times was a new diet "the one" that would melt away my extra pounds?    How many times have I cleaned off my kitchen counter proclaiming that it will never be piled with junk again?  (OK - that one may not seem too "big" to you, but it is a big dream in my house.)
Why is it that I have the dream or the idea, but as soon as it doesn't happen right away or the way I thought it would, I give up?
1) I FEEL like a failure.  I have the image in my mind of victory and happiness - a big celebration!  When something doesn't turn out the way I've imagined it in my head, my excitement is deflated.  Instead of the bubbly happy feeling, I feel like I have a rock in the pit of my stomach.  I don't like that feeling, so I'm not going to try again.
2) I'm too IMPATIENT.  I'm starting at Point A and am aiming for Point Z.  I don't want to travel through Point G or Point N or stop at Point T.  I want to get to Point Z and I want to get there now. That's why when I'm craving French fries I'm not going to go to the grocery store, buy a 10lb bag of potatoes, come home, wash them, slice them, season them and then wait while they bake in the oven.  No - I'm heading to the drive-thru! 
I find it so sad that many people are missing out on their BIG dreams because they give up. It IS possible to dream BIG and achieve BIG results.  We simply need to recognize that the path to accomplishing them is not one HUGE leap, but rather one filled with many SMALL steps.  For me, making two changes helped me find joy and achievement in taking many SMALL steps to find BIG results:
1) Celebrate every victory regardless of how small.  When I'm running and I get to the point that I don't think I can go any further, I'll set a small specific goal.  I will say to myself - "Lisa, run to that red mailbox" or "Lisa, finish this lap."  When I reach that mailbox or complete that lap, I'll raise my arms in victory or shout out "YES!"  (Yes, I do literally shout out loud.  Yes, I do get some strange looks.  No, I don't care.)  That small physical action of celebration pushes me to run to the next red mailbox or complete another lap.  I FEEL victorious!  That is a good feeling.  I celebrate every partial pound lost on the scale, every item crossed off my To Do List, every goal accomplished whether it is with a mental hi-five, a victory dance in my kitchen or a trip out for Fro-Yo with my family.  Celebrating helps me maintain a positive outlook.  It keeps me motivated to take the next small step needed to reach my ultimate goal.
2) Enjoy the journey.  I'm starting at Point A.  I want to get to Point Z.  I'm ready to hit the road and get this journey started.  Hey - wait a minute, I've never been to Point G.  This is a nice place!  Let's pause here and see what it's all about before we continue on.  If we are solely focused on the end result, we miss out on everything along the way.  One of my lifelong dreams has been to be a published author.  Last year I was presented with the opportunity to achieve that dream.  I honestly thought that I would hand in my manuscript and the next week be handed a shiny sweet-smelling hot-off-the-press book.  It doesn't work that way.  Publishing a book is a journey.  A couple of weeks ago as I sat around a table with my fellow authors laughing, sharing life experiences and building friendships, my breath was taken away.  What an AMAZING afternoon.  I was at Point G and I was soaking up every minute of it!  Had I given up when I realized that I wasn't jumping from Point A directly to Point Z, I would have missed out on this wonderful experience.   

My point is not that we should stop dreaming big.  I do believe that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.  It simply took me some time to figure out the best way for me to get there. 
We each have our own journey.  My path from Point A to Point Z is probably different from your path.  Though our paths have obviously crossed here.  If you are feeling a bit lost on your journey I invite you to join with me for a bit.  Try what worked for me to keep myself focused and moving forward - those two SMALL steps may be just what you need to find your BIG results! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Life-Threatening or Life-Changing?

I was recently at lunch with a group of girlfriends.  A newer group of friends, we spent the afternoon excitedly sharing bits and pieces of our life stories.  One friend, talking about her work with families living with autism, shared a sentence that has really stuck with me . . .
The diagnosis is not life-threatening, but it is life-changing.
When my husband first began to experience the chronic pain that now engulfs his body 24 hours a day, we searched for the magic pill, magic injection, magic procedure that would take it away.  On the outside, a majority of aspects of our lives changed - He could no longer work.  I could no longer be a stay-at-home-mom.  We could no longer handle life on our own so we moved closer to family.  I had to learn new things like how to start the lawnmower, put air in my car tires (so silly, but it took me forever to figure that one out!) and throw a pitch.  On the inside, I continued to hold a tight grip to the thought that this would all be over soon and life would return to "normal."   
I kept waiting for life to go back to the way it was - back to the way that I had always dreamed it would be.  That is where I got stuck.
          That is where I got sad.
                    That is where I gained weight.
                              That is where I developed high blood pressure and anxiety.
                                        That is where I missed out on a lot of fun adventures.
                                                  That is where I let go of several friendships.
                                                             That is where I lost out on five years of my life.
                                                                        That is where I got really angry at God.
I had to come to realization that life was never going back to the way it was.  My husband's diagnosis was not life-threatening, but it was life-changing so I was going to have to change.  Why did no one ever mention that to me? 
Hope is important.  I won't lose the hope that someday God will heal my husband 100% - physically and mentally.  But I also can't sit around staring at him waiting for that moment to arrive.  My hope is now firmly placed on the knowledge that God has created me to be a strong intelligent woman who can handle this crazy life that He has designed for me. 
I finally discovered the need to shift my perspective four years ago.  It took time, lots of purposeful practice and encouraging self-talk, but life is now filled with unexpected gifts and adventures that I could never have dreamed up!  I am no longer mourning dreams lost, but celebrating the ones I never knew existed.  (Life is not perfect - I still have plenty of Boo-Hoo Moments, but that is ok.)
There are so many life events that can cause us to get "stuck."  Sometimes we can be stuck for a few days, weeks, months or -like me - years.  In those moments, I encourage you to ask yourself this simple question
Is this situation life-threatening or life-changing?
The answer will shift your perspective and take you in a direction you never dreamed of!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Google and Go Cooking Day Five: Forgotten Jambalaya

I have always wanted to try Jambalaya just because it looked like such a cool dish.  As you can imagine, I was very excited to see this recipe make my list.  Even though I knew my family would not like it, I had told myself I was making the first five recipes to appear on the screen regardless of what they were so my hands were tied . . . I was making Jambalaya. 

I wish that I could type all of these wonderful words letting you know how much I LOVED this dish, but I can't.  I didn't like it!  However, I can honestly tell you that I think it was simply my taste buds and not the dish.  I'm just not that into too many spices.  We can blame my mother (Sorry Mom!) who rarely even uses salt in her cooking. 

Don't let the fact that I didn't like it stop you from trying it . . .

Forgotten Jambalaya

1 lb smoked sausage, cut into slices
1 lb chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), cut into pieces
1/2 lb shrimp, medium
2 tsp basil, dried
3 celery ribs, chopped
5 garlic cloves
2 green peppers, medium, chopped
1 onion, medium, chopped
1-1/2 tsp oregano
3 tsp parsley flakes, dried
1 can tomatoes, diced
1 can beef or chicken broth
1 can tomato paste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-1/4 tsp salt
Hot cooked rice

* Combine the tomatoes. broth and tomato paste.  Stir in the celery, green peppers, onion, garlic and seasonings.  Stir in chicken and sausage.

* Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.  Stir in shrimp.  Cover and cook 15-30 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink.  Serve over rice.

When I first checked out this recipe, I was thinking that it was going to be very expensive.  However, when I looked in my freezer I had some shrimp and sausage that were both left over from previous recipes.  That was perfect!  Knowing that my family was most likely not going to like this, I cut the recipe in half. 

Crockpot week is officially over!  This week, I am trying to eat as much of the food that is already in my fridge and freezer as possible.  After over four months . . . I am finally getting a new oven!  YAY!  My oven stopped working on Christmas Eve.  I've been cooking solely on my stove top and crockpot.  I cannot wait to bake a batch of oatmeal cookies and fudge brownies and lasagna and honey mustard chicken!

I hope I shared at least one recipe that you will want to try! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Google and Go Cooking Day Four: Chicken and Red Potatoes

I am back on track with my crockpot today!  This dish was a success with my family - after much complaining ("I don't like mushrooms!" "I don't like rice!").

Chicken and Red Potatoes

4 boneless chicken breasts
2 cups baby carrots
4 red potatoes cut into wedges
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 can cream of onion soup (I used cream of mushroom)
3 T flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (4 oz.)

* Place flour in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add chicken, one piece at a time; shake to coat.  In a large skillet, brown chicken in oil on both sides.

* Meanwhile, place the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms in a greased 5-quart slow cooker.  In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients.  Pour half the mixture over the vegetables.

* Transfer chicken to slow cooker; top with remaining soup mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours (Mine cooked on low for 9 hours.).

Day Five will be interesting . . .