Bravery

Today’s gratitude challenge is about Bravery. I began to think of all the common definitions of this term such as valor, courage, and fearlessness. I briefly recalled images of 15th Century Knights in battle. Why? I’m guessing this is the sort of thing we are taught as children. We read epic stories of the hero who must face some sort of danger, or we’ve watched too much television to make a clear determination for the definition. And then I asked myself if the average person can express bravery. I am certain of it; although I’m not exactly sure that some type of fear is not involved; for instance, when I was about to enter the hospital to allow a surgeon to deliver my daughter through cesarean section. I’m sure I wasn’t expressing the courage I hoped to have. Going under the knife was and is a scary prospect for any woman about to birth her first child. Anything can happen. Fortunately, for me, my doctor delivered her without any problems.

If I think back to that day, I was met with all sorts of procedures that would have left anyone frightened. At one point, I had to hold as still as possible, so that the spinal injection was completed accurately. Okay, but I couldn’t control the one performing the action. I’m sure my mind was conjecturing all sorts of woes had I moved or the needle suddenly slipped.

Later, as a mother, I faced many possible dangers. Raising a child is terrifying. Does that make me a brave person? I’m not so sure. What is brave is stepping up and fulfilling the role of a mother – working tirelessly to keep the child comfortable and secure. These are strategies that we are not taught. I fumbled my way through it all. Bravery is like that. We expand ourselves to do what is needed.

I’m not necessarily only speaking of motherhood. Many people face different types of demons every day – usually internal ones. We surmise what others might think of us. This fear can be paralyzing. Some of us would rather expire than to plunge into the fear that our thoughts create and keep us weak. Talk to people in sales who will explain the hours wasted because they could not pick up a telephone to call a prospective client. That fear of rejection runs deep.

Most don’t even think about the dangers around us. Starting a motor vehicle and driving in rush hour traffic takes bravery. What about beginning a new job? It takes a certain type of bravery to overcome new tasks and learn new names. Natural disasters seem commonplace these days. The news broadcasts are quick to show the devastating live footage.

How does one go about mustering up courage in times like these? Adrenaline might be one answer. Try these ideas instead:

* Aim to build up confidence by doing things that make you uncomfortable without any immediate danger
* Hone your skills in certain areas to help you do something you like, and do it well
* Believe in yourself – an area where we tend to demonstrate a deep, cavernous lack

And mostly, believe in yourself. Chances are, others believe in you and your abilities. It’s not hype.
Negative self-talk is detrimental to your well-being in all cases. Thank goodness we are not our thoughts.

Have faith; bravery is not elusive. You might surprise yourself someday. When you do, write it down. Tell some friends, and pat yourself on the back while you get ready to do more. Reward yourself if you need to.

These tactics will help build some resilient muscles.

My wish is that you become the best version of you.

Joy,

Cheryl


Benevolence.

Something wonderful happens when we give from the heart. True monetary philanthropists give freely in exchange for an experience in helping others achieve their financial goals. But not everyone has extra money lying around. Even so, we can give freely what we do possess: A smile will warm someone’s heart. A good thought or an offer of blessings helps the giver feel a gratitude that seems to transcend throughout the universe. A hug can be received and given since human touch is a necessity for each of us. Share a laugh by telling a good joke. Perhaps you can offer a service of some kind like walking a dog or providing a nutritious meal to an ill neighbor. A merciful act toward someone in debt to you for a favor or monetary transaction releases the bondage debt creates.

Whatever we can do without looking for reward is benevolence. Aren’t you grateful for people like this in your life? Sometimes, even a random act of kindness to a stranger will brighten the giver’s and the receiver’s day.

Pay it forward with random actions of kindness. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line, or offer to pay for someone’s groceries. You never know who might need your offering that day. Have you ever been the recipient of such a kind, unexpected gift? I hope you have. The experience can be most humbling, yet inspiring. Gifts come in all types of packages; they don’t have to cost much at all, they just need to come from the heart. Make someone’s day by showing some gratitude for the things you possess and sharing them with another.

Joy,

Cheryl


Interestingly, this Earth Day’s post is about beauty. Take a look around. Beauty is everywhere – in trees, in dirt, in animals, in the sky, and in reflections in the water. It can sometimes be easy to overlook natural beauty when we are caught up in the stresses of everyday life. Leaves on the trees are miraculous things each with its own shape and color. Even evergreen needles are interesting to look at when viewed up-close. Lately, the spring weeds dominate the yard, yet the colors of their flowers are spectacular. It’s lovely to find these in the desert. Our yard has a lot of wild life as well – jack rabbits, cottontails, squirrels, wild horses, and plenty of birds. Our sky never disappoints for its crisp blue color and lenticular clouds. As far as I am concerned, all bodies of water are beautiful; when was the last time you explored a puddle? All this talk of beauty reminds me of an earlier post regarding beauty.

While it is wonderful to see the external beauty of nature in our surroundings, how often do we think of internal beauty? Outward appearances aren’t everything – especially when all we see is the surface. Today, I am also grateful for the the inner beauty of my friends and family. I challenge you to look beyond the surface. Authenticity is pure beauty, often expressed in laughter, or outwardly through caring and giving. This is where we find the depth within a person’s heart.

Let us all aim to express love in our spirits with our inner beauty.

Joy,
Cheryl

Accountability_wordle
Accountability.

Today’s Virtue is Accountability. For any challenge or self-improvement one undertakes, it is best to be held accountable to stay on track. Yesterday’s first post for my Gratitude Challenge: Using the Virtues started with Acceptance. When we are held accountable, we achieve much more than we expected. It forces us to drum up our essence, the excellence within, that we might pay less attention to when we think no one is watching. Many challenges I’ve participated in require a partner to ensure my goals are met. Much of the time, the community built around the challenges provide an equal push. I am grateful for all who share the same path during the challenges, especially the accountability partners. To ensure actions are completed, each of us must admit whether or not we have done the work. No fudging the truth; sometimes I must explain my actions, or lack of action during the challenges.

Each of us is accountable for what we do in life – it’s one of the more strict virtues in the list. It suggests that we are weak and tend to shirk responsibility. Ouch. I’ll admit to having let a goal or two dissolve during my lifetime. I don’t always fill the shoes I intend to fill. This blog might be one of them. Sometimes we can justify it by calling it choice. When I choose to write, I will. Or I might say that I need some inspiration to write. Well, where does that inspiration come from? It depends on what I want to achieve. What about setting goals to lose weight or write that book? It might be difficult to be inspired to live out a dream.

I am reminded of a poem by Langston Hughes, called “Harlem.” The first line asks the very question many of us ask, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Because this line is so famous, most people think the title should match. Without a community built around the same goals, we end up in the same place we started – with a dream without action.

For major goals in life, seeking out someone to partner with is extremely helpful. I’ve gone through some strict detoxes over the past couple of years. Without others who inspire me to make sure I’m drinking my green smoothie or walking 10,000 steps each day, the tasks seem too hard to accomplish on my own. A cheerleader on my side is a blessing. I feel stronger than ever to maintain my convictions for healthy living.

Does this mean that we cannot be accountable on our own? No. Not at all. Sometimes the goal is enough. Many people are certain that as long as we know why we want to achieve some major change, we will do it based on a strong will and determination. Thank goodness, perseverance is instilled in all of us at birth. We have heard about the many who have achieved great things. We are no different.

I am thankful to find the wonderful people in my networks who help me to be my best even when I don’t feel up to it. Be accountable; practice making it a habit. Find an accountability partner to ensure you meet your goals. In return, be an accountability partner who helps another achieve a goal.

Joy,
Cheryl

Boldly get on with your life.

Assertiveness is the virtue I am grateful for today. Do you know people who display a bold confidence in their behaviors or when they speak? They exude a confidence that is strikingly different than some of us. This virtue has a sister; it’s called ambition. When we are assertive, we possess a strong desire to accomplish our goals. No self-defeating actions exist for an assertive person.

Sometimes we need assertiveness in sales. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about product sales; we often need to sell ourselves first, especially if we are looking for work, being careful not to sound pushy. When I applied as a transfer student to D’Youville college, I showed my ambitious and assertive self. I knew what I wanted and had the audacity to tell the department chair my plans to withdraw my application if the college did not accept all my credits without condition. I was not unpleasant toward the person behind the desk; I just knew that my GPA was high enough to qualify, and felt much confidence in my accomplishments. Instead of complying to their conditions, I indicated my own. Needless to say, other professors heard about my interview and knew who I was before I attended any classes. One of these fine professionals was Bob Nielsen, whom I dedicated this blog.

Confidence is what makes the difference. If I had not asserted myself and my intentions, I might not have met all the wonderful people who later became my mentors. Confidence changes circumstances. Confidence changes us. Quite often, I look back and think that exuberance is needed in every aspect of life. It helps us to push boundaries and to step out of our comfort zones.
We cannot allow the negative stories in our minds, or our fears, to keep us from doing what we want – whether it be applying for a new job, talking to someone attractive, or asking for what we need or want out of life. So many times, we think things won’t work for us. How would we know until we try? Of course, my interview might not have gone the way I’d hoped it would, but I had to be less concerned about the outcome. I had to be myself. Sometimes I miss being a young girl when I had less fears. Perhaps, back then, I thought less of what people might think of me than I do now. When did my attitude change? When did I let this virtue escape me?

I think it’s time to recapture some of that confidence and assertiveness.

• Define the fear that holds you back
• Determine your desires
• Demonstrate your willingness to forget what others might think of you

I am grateful that assertiveness is never lost; they act quite like muscles. You’d need to work on them to build them up; but they never disappear, even after years of neglect.
Find and build your confidence today.

Joy,
Cheryl

A = Acceptance – okay, it stands for apple, but I’m having some fun.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been learning about how to manage my inner game and found that my attitude greatly impacts my gratitude toward the things in my life. I wake up less grumpy if the first words or thoughts are ‘thank you.’ I’m a firm believer in sending my intentions into the universe without any type of plan or expectation for the outcome. And sometimes, I must accept how I behave and my current circumstances in order to change.

I decided to challenge myself by posting about one Virtue a day. It seems a daunting task, as there are many virtues which promote moral excellence. I thought about using the A – Z method, but some letters would be missing. Bear with me while I aim to capture the essence of as many virtues as possible into posts that add usefulness and beauty to the world.

Today begins with the virtue, Acceptance.

A while back, I posted about acceptance when I spoke of the lessons I learned from my dog. More recently, conversations with my friends have revealed even more about what acceptance really does for us and others.

Acceptance

● Helps us recognize the talent in other people and builds tolerance: When we recognize the talents in other people, we accept them without challenge. Having tolerance frees us from judgment, especially when we place our beliefs and expectations on others. Chances are, people will not live up, so we must not allow ourselves to push people away for their differences.

● Allows us to love one another at the deepest levels. All of us are searching for love in some form or another: love of our country, our fellow man, or in intimate relationships. Acceptance means to be completely willing to wonder at and breathe in another’s existence. Forgive the petty faults we tend to find in others. They are of no matter. If we can do this for everyone we meet, imagine the reciprocity.

● Defaults to self-love. Acceptance lets me love myself and who I have become over the years despite my perceived failures or imperfections. I must recognize my differences as assets, not faults. Without a doubt, self-love is the ultimate achievement.

Let’s aim to accept and love ourselves, so we can love others with complete acceptance.

Joy,
Cheryl

People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy. ~Anton Chekhov

IMG_20160901_163002.jpgNew Year, new you. What’s the hype about the new diet alternative?

Getting healthy should be a main concern for all of us if we are to live lives that are happy and full of energy. I want to address the recent conversation regarding a new alternative to dieting. Folks, there’s nothing new here, just common sense. Our brains need fat for optimal functionality. That’s no secret. But most people think that gorging on bacon is healthy because they try to follow a Paleo diet. A meat and veggies approach seems more plausible than a high protein / high fat diet with much of its fat derived strictly from meat sources.

Here is what could be deemed as a way of eating that most are now calling alternative.  I avoid using the term diet as much as possible because the word has such negative connotations.

The alternative is to add more healthy fats to your diet. Coconut oil, avocado, olives and olive oil. Because the old rule of less calories, more exercise doesn’t work, more people are finding that all calories are not created equally. I have first-hand experience as I’ve been loading up on organic veggies, adding the good fats for extremely high calorie meals and losing weight as a bonus. No longer do we want to burn sugars as our main source of energy. Low-glycemic fruits such as berries help sustain a balance. Foregoing grains as much as possible also helps. I eliminate sugar as a rule, so no baked goods for me. Free range eggs are an excellent source of protein as are free range chicken, turkey and wild caught fish. Lowering the amount of red meat is helpful too, but I will occasionally indulge in grassfed beef.

Dairy products are questionable. For some of you, try eliminating cheese or ice cream for a few days to see if your body has issues with them. Add them back in to notice any changes. I find that dairy can cause my body to create more mucus than desired, and the salt content in cheese can be extremely high and will cause bloating and weight gain. Check it out for yourself. Some people who are lactose intolerant understand some of the side effects. It’s best that you determine for yourself if dairy is a good option for you.

I also add in raw nuts and seeds in my eating plan to stay happy. I keep a small amount in my purse for use in situations when I need a snack and a healthy choice is not readily available. In this way my need to crunch is satisfied, and I don’t reach for potato chips. I’ll add nuts and seeds to green drinks or smoothies. Keep in mind that most smoothie recipes or ones you’re likely to find in commercial arenas are filled with sugar. I don’t know about you, but I find that sugar is hard to eliminate because it is added to most foods. I find it in the most unexpected places. Take a look at a commercial tomato sauce ingredient label sometime. Better yet, look at all food labels. That’s a great habit to get into. Swap out rice for quinoa, a seed that adds a protein punch and compliments many meals.

Keep in mind, the closer your food is to its original state is best. The alternative way of eating does not allow for those processed items placed into colorful boxes on grocery shelves. Remember, there is no such thing as junk food. You can either eat Junk or you can eat Food. Pick food. Eat clean.

Try incorporating some of these suggestions this year. You’ll be happier! Smiles, and good luck to you in the new year and new you!
Feel free to ask questions in the comment area.

Joy,
Cheryl

For many, a new year means resolutions: Lose weight, make more money, or something else that screams ‘needs improvement.’ Loads of self-help and goal-setting materials are abound to establish the feeling of inadequacy.

I decided to be me this year. It might be a better version of me by the end of 2017, but nevertheless, it will be me despite a new job, my weight, my relationships, my haircut, or how much money I have in the bank.

Why? Because manifesting anything comes from allowing the universe to do what it does best. I’m tired of pushing for what I desire when I know the universe has an abundance of those things in store. Often, I need to look back and see what each year brings. And more often if I want to recognize all the blessings around me.

Reflection, not Resolution should remain our focus. Be grateful for what has come to fruition during the past year. An attitude of gratefulness sets the universe in action so we can receive the new things we desire in the future. Put intentions out there. Speak of them loud and clear. Aim for concise thoughts and allow the cosmos to work.

May 2017 be the year of manifestation in your life. Happy New Year! 🍾

Cheryl

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2017

Berries

I recently found out that Bob Nielsen, a dear professor from my undergraduate years, and part of the reason I started this blog, passed away. He had struggled with prostate cancer for years, as well as diabetes. I remember watching as he checked his sugar during our independent study session that followed the lunch hour. One of the things he mentioned that his wife allowed him to eat for a snack or dessert was “graham crackers and cream cheese; oh boy”, he would say as he tried to drum up some enthusiasm. Prostate cancer is an inflammatory disease. A study done by Sfanos and DeMarzo (2012) provides some evidence that inflammation is to blame. “There are multiple different lines of evidence suggesting that inflammation is very common within the adult prostate” (para 4). One can imagine that inflammation has its hand in other diseases too, including diabetes. We have all had injuries when inflammation took over and helped us heal. Chronic inflammation moves in when the body’s immune system overloads because it cannot rid the cause of the initial swelling. Sometimes stress is a major factor in the inability to overcome inflammation. Known as the fight or flight response from our parasympathetic nervous system, our bodies gear up to escape from that bear or lion. These days, the bear or lion is replaced by sitting in the hot-seat of an office desk with loads of work, though it is not an immediate threat. If the perceived threat has no relief, the body has trouble eliminating the adrenaline and translates it into stress. That stress creates inflammation in the body.

Chronic stress is a terrible condition because when there is no outlet for the build-up, the body cannot help but create inflammation as its response to stress, whether real or imagined. The body only understands feelings. It cannot determine if the pressure is real or something we see on television as we sit in a theater watching gory or horror films. However, some adrenaline is good. We need it to get out of the way in traffic, for instance. But everyday stress from a job is detrimental to health.

Let’s look at some of the ways we can help our bodies cope with stress overload. Sometimes the help of a medical professional is needed; but you may want to try some of these remedies first.

Anti-inflammatory Foods:
Harvard studies indicate that certain foods will help fight inflammation. Certain foods should also be avoided. And if you have been paying attention to good health, that food list will not come as a surprise. Think about what your grandmother and grandmother’s mother would have eaten and follow those rules.

Foods that fight for you are:

* Green leafy vegetables
* Some fruits – berries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
* Nuts and seeds
* Fatty fish
* Olive oil
* Tomatoes

While Harvard lists tomatoes as anti-inflammatory, it’s one of those foods considered a night shade – think eggplant, potatoes, peppers – which may cause inflammation in some people. I react differently when eating them; I notice right away when my knee begins to ache. I feel better both in my joints and in my mood when I stick to these types of foods. Another thing that Harvard has left out is the importance of fermented foods. Improving the health of the gut can combat chronic inflammatory diseases with proven results. Gut health enables the body to eliminate toxins like pesticides common in commercially produced food today.

Herbs and Spices:
One of my favorite public figures, Dr. Mercola, has a terrific website with great deal of information regarding health. He lists clove, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric (curcumin) as the best herbs to use. Starting out slowly with these as a daily regime is a good way to start.

I take turmeric supplement for my aching knee. It has been one of the most beneficial herbs for me. It’s actually a root, similar to the ginger family. Check out your local grocer. You might find it there in its original form now that it has become popular. Funny how that happens.

Spices to use include:

* Cinnamon (ceylon)
* Jamaican Allspice
* Apple pie spice mixture
* Oregano
* Pumpkin pie spice mixture
* Marjoram
* Sage
* Thyme
* Gourmet Italian spice

Dr. Mercola lists these specifically to help us boost our resistance to inflammation by adding these to our own recipes. When it’s easy to do, people will do it. Start with one or two today.

Essential Oils:
Essential oils are also recognized to help combat inflammation. In a study of lab rats, rosemary, eucalyptus, and ginger essential oils reduced episodes of edema; the latter two reduced effects from the ingestion of carrageenan, a common ingredient in commercial yogurts and ice cream. You might want to scout out this ingredient and remove it from your diet. I found too many tests in my search that aim to fight its inflammatory side effects.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine comments that essential oils are used as therapies because the nose first detects the scents. The sensors recognize the chemical compounds of the oil, then work on the limbic system as effectively as a drug (PDQ, 2014). Certain combinations from fragrant plants demonstrate relief from stress and improve the quality of life. Two of my favorites are Stress Away and lavender from Young Living essential oils. Lavender is one of the most popular scents, often found in baby products since its affect is almost immediate. You can create your own uplifting scents like the combination of cinnamon bark, peppermint, and cedarwood that I use when I need to stay calm yet alert while driving in heavy traffic. You can breathe away the stress in your life too.

Grounding:
While not commonly known as grounding, using the effects of the earth on our bodies is an amazing way to de-stress. Countless studies and feedback are addressed in the book Earthing. The subtitle says it all. Is Earthing really a new heath discovery? Hardly. People have walked barefoot on the earth for thousands of years. But lately we have disconnected, so to speak. Our high-rise buildings and the invention of the rubber sole shoe promote the separation between us and the earth. The text demonstrates the electrical effects and relationship between humans and the earth, provides a list of the benefits of getting our feet back on the earth, and provides compelling thermal imagery after grounding. Page 63 shows a list of diseases caused by inflammation. It’s not surprising that other chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, lupus, and MS are on this list. Pain is listed too.

We all have pain of some sort. Think of it… just coming in contact with the earth on a regular basis can help us. You see, lowering the EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) is imperative. We are surrounded by constant waves of energy; over time, people who do not ground with the earth are susceptible to “infection, stress, and degenerative diseases” (Ober, Sinatra, & Zucker, 2010, p. 79). Earthing helps to move that EMF off of us.

Think of the last time you were at the beach and played in the ocean or other body of water. Recall the feelings of peace, relaxation, and regeneration. What about the last time you walked in the yard to feel the grass under your feet? Doing so is completely free, but so few of us do it. At the very least, Ober has invented a way to gain similar effects from placing a ground in the earth. Your kitchen and bathroom electrical outlets have a ground to the earth. By using this part of the plug, Ober created grounding mats, mattresses, pillowcases, and the like to help you absorb the earth’s ground as you work and sleep. The grounding mat is great when the air becomes dry in the winter months. Static electricity can wreak havoc when doing laundry or just walking on a carpet. I am using a grounding mat as I type. The sweat from the bottoms of my bare feet help create the ground and move the EMF off of me when I work. Aside from the turmeric I use, grounding has helped when my knee was so inflamed I had trouble walking.

BeachBest

Being pain free is something we all desire. Consider these methods to reduce the stress and inflammation in your life. Tell a friend.

Joy,
Cheryl

References

Ober, C., Sinatra, S. T., & Zucker M. (2010). Earthing:The most important health discovery ever? Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. (2014). PDQ Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. [PMID: 26389261]. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/aromatherapy-pdq.

Sfanos, K. S. & DeMarzo, A. M. (2012). Prostate cancer and inflammation: The evidence. Histopathology 60(1), 199-215. doi 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.04033.x