The World of Crayola

The World of Crayola

Sometimes there is a smell of something in the air as you walk by that can instantly take you back 30 years!  It happens to me about once a year–when I go back to school shopping.

Now in my empty nest, my children no longer need school supplies–at least not the kind we purchased each year.  Notebook paper, rulers, Elmer’s glue are not on their list. College requires more sophisticated apparatus and techniques, of the electronic variety.

But I do go school supply shopping every year–for my classroom. My other kids.  And no matter what store I choose to go shopping in–when I get a whiff of brand new Crayola Crayons I am positive that I get a goofy smile on my face.

The smell of a new box of crayons takes me back to my first classrooms as a child. The excitement of a new year, the desire to impress and live up to my teacher’s expectations and knowing that most of the time, I did.

There were a few years–2nd and 4th grades–that perhaps were not my best, but using my crayons surely helped get me through the rough patches.

As I got older I made sure every year, whether I needed them or not–especially in high school–I would still put a new box in the cart.

And now–even though I don’t require them of my students in the secondary classroom–I buy a box for myself and put it in the top drawer of my desk–every year.

Somehow the box always disappears during the year sometime–it is quite the mystery since I never know where it goes.  I imagine however, that someone comes across it and also has a memory flash that brings them warm and fuzzy feelings.

Nonetheless, a new box is on the list, it gets purchased and goes back in the drawer–my own crayola talisman for good luck, good days and good lessons for the school year to come.

It is so important to tie positive experiences from our past to our present and future–and to hopefully pass down some of the wisdom that we acquire along the way–to those in our care.

If only life were always as simple as buying a new box of crayons each year–things would be so much clearer, happier and yes–more colorful.

Here’s to back to school shopping!  Enjoy every minute of it!  It only comes once a year!  And don’t forget the crayons!

 

Road Trip

Road Trip

I love taking road trips! There is nothing more relaxing to me than driving on U.S. highways.

Especially in a state like Texas you can drive for two days and still be in the state… but the areas are so varied that the drives are beautiful.

One of my favorite part of these drives are the cows. The ranches on both sides of the highway are home to these magnificent animals.

I love these cows and over the course of many years I have come to know them by name–hereford, santa gertrudis, angus, jersey and of course the beloved longhorn.

I love watching them go by as we speed along–at the speed limit, of course–and they go about their business grazing and ignoring the noisy vehicles.

Sometimes a whole family of cows is sitting and standing under a big oak tree–at their leisure living this southern life.

I have–more than once–pulled over to watch them and sometimes take pictures of them.

On rare occasions one will look right at me. And I have to admit that for a moment it stops my heart. It is a form of communication in that one look.

It’s as if the cow is trying to understand my species as much as I would like to understand hers.

There are times, when driving as the sun is going down, when you can see them line up and follow each other over a ridge.

In silent agreement they head home to where they will rest after a long day in the sun. It is truly amazing.

Some people have commented to me how badly they feel for the cows on these farms–that they are being raised just to be killed.

And I couldn’t disagree more. These beautiful animals are living out their purpose and they do so with grace and dignity.

So I will continue to enjoy these road trips every chance I get and to admire the beautiful cows along the way.

Of Weddings and Funerals

Of Weddings and Funerals

Nothing seems to mark the passage of time more than the weddings and funerals in our lives.

The weddings are always happy occasions when we have the chance to get together with family and friends to celebrate the beginning of a couple’s life together. At least for me.

It doesn’t matter what age the happy couple is or if this is their first or second (or third) marriage. It is a beginning, a fresh start with the expectation and promise that it holds. It is a celebration of life.

It is the clock of life that ticks off to these moments. We often think of our own lives at weddings–sometimes remembering our own weddings or those of others. The life lived before and after such events. The choices we have made and how that defines us–in reference to time passed and time yet to come.

As we get older, funerals also give us an opportunity to see friends and family although for a more somber occasion. This too is a celebration of life.

This is a time when again we hope for that new beginning with the promise of everlasting life in heaven.

But it is also a reminder of our mortality, of the fact that our time on earth is limited.

When a friend or family member passes away, regardless of their age, we think about the impact they had in our lives–sometimes big and sometimes small–but an impact nonetheless.

And we think of our lives at funerals, before that moment, and what it will be after that moment. It is a time to be grateful, to appreciate and to take advantage of the time we have left.

So always remember to celebrate life–those of others–and your own! These milestones, weddings and funerals, help us remember to slow down from our hurry up run around life and enjoy everything we can.

I hope your life is full of joy and rich memories!

Meal Prepping Lessons For Life

Meal Prepping Lessons For Life

If you have been reading my blog for a while or if you know me personally you know that planning things (everything) is definitely my thing. So in an effort to eat healthier and maximize my grocery shopping I have begun meal prepping.

This has become a very popular trend in many households. And it is imperative for people and families that are trying to live a healthier lifestyle as a new way of life.

Beyond that there are many lessons to be learned from this process.

First you will have to plan for 5 meals a day for 7 or 14 days times the number of people you are responsible for feeding.

What does that teach us? How important our resources are…time, food, imagination, and the freezer.

In your life you are going to want to maximize your time, be grateful for all the things we have (like unlimited foods and freezer technology) and have fun-use your imagination!

Second you have to be able to think out of the box.

Meal prepping has to be varied. You can’t pick 4 meals and rotate them through your meal plan…you will get so tired of your routine that you will slip and quit this newly found and positive habit.

So learning tip, find at least 14 recipes that you can rework in quantity and nutritional value that you can use to add variety to your cooking and eating.

Don’t try to cook all 14 at a time! That’s just crazy–and exhausting–think out of the box, but don’t throw the box out!

Learning to be forward thinking, numbers oriented and how to use strategic skills are very good things to know in this ever changing world of ours.

Third we need flexibility in our lives–especially in our eating habits.

There was a time and place for cooking a big meal and the family ate together–at a table–every night. Children were expected to eat was was made or not eat at all.

While I don’t think we should be short order cooks, in this very busy life we have created prepping meals ahead of time means we can still eat together without having to eat the same things.

This small change teaches us we can meet the likes of all the eaters in our lives and still provide them healthy meals…save time and money…and avoid the fast food line!

This also teaches us that what is important is not the quantity of a food that is important but the quality of the nutrition we are providing those we love.

And fourth, especially in households with kids, we should involve all the family members in the process of meal prepping.

Each person can have an age appropriate chore to be done as part of the meal prepping process. Someone can do all the cutting and chopping, while another mixes and cooks and yet another can keep the area and tools clean.  Dishes won’t do themselves you know!

This teaches us the best lesson of all–with teamwork much more can get accomplished than just challenging the world alone!

The family who preps together–stays together!

Happy Monday! Leave a comment below and let me know if you are a meal prepper!  What is your favorite go to recipe?

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

I went into a craft mega store yesterday that I love because it is jam packed with crafts, ideas, decorations, themes, colors and smells.  I can spend hours in there.  In fact, I have.

I was especially excited on this visit when I started seeing 80% off signs on summer stuff.  So I was really in my shopping groove when I turned the corner and I saw it….

The reason for the big sale was the cleaning out of several aisles of goods in order to put out all the Christmas decorations, trees, wreaths, nativities and all the other Christmas decorations that make the season so great!

As you can tell, I love Christmas!

And I appreciate that the ideas are out in July.  Some people may be dismayed to see Christmas out before Halloween and Thanksgiving–but I think it’s brilliant.

The free enterprise system is telling us how wonderful our economy is this year! The optimism is amazing.  The idea that we are all doing so well that we can plan ahead to these upcoming holidays is heartening.

And I am all in!

When I got home–I sat down to make my Christmas list.  Not the gifts I want to receive–that list is a hard one–but the people I want to find the perfect gifts for.

I love looking for things for others that they may love and are not expecting.  Each year that is getting harder and harder to do. There is so much available so quickly to everyone that finding the perfect gift for the people that mean the most to us is quite the challenge.

That is probably why so many people dread the holidays!  They procrastinate and wait until the last minute to get inspired on what to get their friends and family and then run around crazy looking for the perfect gift.

Of course, as hokey as it sounds–there is also nothing like a home made gift.  At the very least it is original, customized to the person receiving the gift and can not be found on Amazon.

So my excitement aside–and the great craft mega store addiction–let’s remember how magical Christmas can be–even when the feelings come in July!

It’s a wonderful life!

How do you feel about Christmas?  Drop me a comment! And have fun!

 

Calories In and Calories Out

Calories In and Calories Out

The hardest part in trying to create a nutritional plan that works is keeping the proper count of calories. Why is this important?  Well because just like you cannot run a car without gasoline a body cannot run without calories. And running the body is what we are all about.

Although some diets and nutritional gurus may say that counting calories does not matter when trying to lose and maintain a healthy weight–they are relying on other processes of the body–like manipulating the way a person’s metabolism works to reach their weight losing goals.

The biggest problem is that these diets do work–at least for a while.  They work as long as you keep to the parameters of the diet strictly. The minute you change anything in these diets the weight comes back–with often a few extra pounds–that the body will save for the next time the body experiences these manipulations.

We forget that we are not meant to be on a the roller coaster of diets–we were made to follow a nutritional plan that provides the needed calories for the energy of living.

So scientifically, if you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight–you need to know what is going in and what is going out. And more complicated yet…you need to understand what calories you should be eating for optimum nutrition.

The way I see it there are two major challenges:  accurately counting the calories we are taking in and accurately counting the calories we are burning.  When we eat, we usually think we are eating less calories than we are actually eating–and we are usually not burning as many calories as we think we are burning.

Regardless of the challenges–it is important to note that becoming a healthier you is so important that the counting frustration should not stop us.  This is a learning process.

The best way to measure the amount of food in your servings is to use measuring cups and a food weight scale.  Most solid foods should be weighed while more liquid foods can be measured. Being consistent in weighing  and measuring your foods will help you in keeping an accurate count of the calories.

Once we get “used” to the meals that work best for us nutritionally we tend to stop measuring and weighing.  A chicken breast is a chicken breast right?  No. They come in all sizes and when we stop measuring–the calories creep in.

As with everything that is important in your life–I’m afraid to say–you are going to have to write it down. Keeping a food diary is the best way to know what calories are going into your body. (If you are not a fan of writing things down, I’m sure there is an app for that.)

On the counting calories out side–the same applies.  Every activity burns calories–but each person burns calories differently based on their weight.  The more you weigh the more calories you will burn during any given activity.

There are online calculators that will help you track the number of calories you are burning in any given activity or work out.  Keep in mind that to get an accurate count you have to be diligent about entering the accurate time an activity took place and also the level of intensity that you completed the activity.

Walking a mile slowly does not burn as many calories as walking a mile quickly while swinging your arms. And you can’t count walking for 60 minutes if you stopped and spoke to a neighbor for 10 minutes–you can only count 50 minutes.

Ultimately, though, the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to know what comes in and what comes out. There is no scientific way around it. Creating this type of lifestyle when it comes to nourishing your body and keeping fit is much more sustainable.

Count your calories and your blessings! We live in the greatest time of nutritional knowledge–embrace it!

Have a great day today!  Leave me a comment or send me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com…I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surround Yourself with People Who Appreciate You

Surround Yourself with People Who Appreciate You

Finding myself this year has been quite a journey and an eye opening experience.

The last 7 months have been, thankfully, uneventful.

I have simply followed my heart.  These are things in my heart:  my faith, my family, my health.  And in my heart, is also my life exactly as it is:  my love of reading and writing and history and politics.  My interest in health and healthcare. My joy in teaching.  My desire for fairness, honesty, and loyalty.

It seems that if I was on a journey to find myself and a “new” life that I am pleasantly surprised to find that I was not lost–that my old life is my new life–as life continues to evolve all on its own.

What I have found surprising, at times, over the last few months is how others around me that do not hold my values have not fallen away from my life. In fact, while I have become healthier, happier, at peace and have enjoyed myself–others have expressed disdain, criticism and shock at my calm.

That is the most interesting thing about this journey–I have been able to easily find the fake friends around me.

Here is how to identify the 4 kinds of fake friends and the lessons to learn from them:

The Gossiper.  This is the friend that you cannot trust with a secret.  They will promptly find some willing ears to hear your secret, but will also embellish any story to meet her needs–and to increase her credibility over yours.

The lesson: This person values other people’s mistakes–Live your life without secrets–do what is right and you never have to worry about a gossiper’s story.

The One-Upper.  No matter what you tell this person, they have also experienced the same situation but in a better, worse, more frequent or more pronounced way.  They can never let you have anything they have not also experienced.

The lesson:  This person needs attention–to remove them from your life, simply ignore them.

The Bully.  Often a strong personality, the bully, treats you with kindness while being condescending and treating you as if you are not capable of making decisions on your own. They also have no regard for the things that are important to you.

The lesson: This person is insecure of their own worth.  You will never win over a friend that only sees her own vulnerabilities in your successes. Smile and continue on your way.

The Pretender.  This person in your circle pretends to be your ally but has no real loyalty to you.  They will look you in the face with a smile as they pretend to be your friend or to deny your friendship if they feel it would advance their favor with others.

The lesson:  This person does not understand loyalty–be kind but do not trust them with anything that is important to you.

Life is a wonderful journey.  Surround yourself with people that appreciate you for who you are, who respects you and loves you even with your failings. But that will never use you to cover their own.

Enjoy your journey!  Leave a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts at emptynestsaavy@gmail.com