For the Love of Peace

For the Love of Peace

If I have learned anything in these first 50 years of my life is that you cannot have peace when you are at war–war with ourselves or war with others.

My dad’s favorite thing on his Christmas list each year when I was growing up–and well into my adulthood–was Peace.

We’d say: “What do you want for Christmas dad?”

And he would always say “Peace”.

It took me a long time to understand what he meant–but I did get it about 10 years ago. And from the moment I finally figured out what my dad meant, I wanted the same thing.

Our world today is filled with strife, anger and hatred.

There is no peace globally or politically or even among religious groups that you would think would be all about peace.

Yet there are people, families and community units that are peaceful. And peace is achievable.

Let me tell you how to achieve some peace in your life but first, let me define what I see as peace.

Peace means that you separate yourself (and your family) from negativity, chaos, worry, and deception.

That doesn’t mean these things are not all around us–but that you do not allow them to effect you.

Here’s how:

  1. Wake up each day and embrace the opportunities the day has for you. Be positive. If today is a difficult day, know that your contribution to the world is felt through the ripple effects you leave in your wake. Smile at someone today, thank someone today, go out of your way for someone else–it does have an impact.
    Remove toxic people from your life. I’ve written about this before because I believe it is so important. You do not have to associate with people who are toxic to you. Wish them well, block their phone number, remove them from your Social Media and stop, when possible, from spending unnecessary time with them.
  1. Mind your own business. Take care of yourself and those closest to you. Avoid getting involved in petty arguments or hard feelings with people that don’t matter in your life. Those people are “peace busters”. Don’t stir the pot, as my dad would say, it only brings the stink out of what is in the pot.
  1. Live with integrity and honesty. Do your job, pay your bills on time, be truthful and honest in your dealings with others, take care of your responsibilities. These things will keep a positive and protective aura around you.

Peace is achievable. Peace lets you sleep well at night, keeps you safe from harm in an uncertain world and can spread to those you love.

The choice is ours to make, peace is always there but each person must want it badly enough to turn away from the chaos.

For the love of peace–give yourself and those you love this gift. Thanks dad!

Stand Up

Stand Up

I have always been an advocate of the underdog.  I have never liked situations that are unfair, or unequal or that are set up to do harm to others deliberately.  Name calling, bullying, unfair treatment of those that don’t have the resources to stand up for themselves.

By “resources”, I am not just talking about money. Some people do no have the physical resources, the intellectual resources, the political resources, or the emotional resources to deal with the life circumstances they find themselves in.

And they are being taken advantage of by the exploitation of countries, politicians, education systems, societal pressures and economic threats that push them to make decisions that are not in their best interests–just to serve the wants of the current power structure.

For those who do not know me, let me describe myself a little.  I am a woman, 4′ 11, 124 lbs.  Not large by any means.  As an empty nester, I have reached the beautiful age of 50, so I am not young, but also not old or infirm.  I am a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, and wife.  I am a teacher, a life long learner, an advocate of others. I am a very proud American of hispanic descent.

Those attributes make me stronger not weaker.  I have been attacked and bullied, mostly verbally, at times, because I do not conform to the waves of thought that go through this country from time to time in regards to women’s rights, education, work place politics, gender and ethnicity roles and the larger rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

What people fail to see in me and more importantly, in themselves, is the power they have in their own opinions.  No one has to believe what they are told if they can see something different with their own eyes.  No one has to take at face value that things are right if they feel in their gut that things are wrong. Yet they do, every day, and then are sorry whey they are manipulated, bullied, and taken advantage of.

Here is a list of examples we should all take a hard look at in our own lives and stand up for what we truly believe–whether you are right or wrong.  Find your compass, listen to your gut–not to the thousands of screaming heads we encounter in our daily lives:

  1. The “me too” mentality–we all encounter some sort of sexism in the world during our lives. All of us, at one time or another, men as well as women.  Pick a side, once and for all.  It is up to you–not to the person using sexism as a weapon or to the people around you that have an opinion about it–you. Decide if you want to be a victim and wallow in self pity, never moving forward in your life or decide if you want to stand up for yourself, own it and put it behind you.
  2. Our education system–our education system is broken, it has been for a long time but at the same time forms the backbone for developing our children’s ability to question, study, research and learn.  We cannot blame the system itself if people–you and me–do not stand up and either change it, or if we cannot, then use it for good.  As parents we have the responsibility and the right to teach our children MORE than what they are learning from their books and curriculums in school.  Decide if you want the current powers that be mold the minds of your children or if you want to take the responsibility of building the minds of your children to be critical thinkers.
  3. The wage disparity among men and women.  It may exist.  I don’t really know because I have been able to find and read research on both sides of this argument that sound credible.  Here is what I know.  We live in a wonderful country that lets us choose our line of work.  If you accept a job at a certain amount of compensation for certain duties then that is your choice.  If you feel that you are not being compensated fairly for your work because of your gender–then you have the choice to CHANGE YOUR JOB.  Decide what you want to do with your life and work hard at it, the money will come.
  4. The immigration issue.  I believe in the rights of the underdog.  I always have and I have often stood up for others that cannot stand up for themselves. But I have also always said and lived the fact that “if you are going to do something, do it right.”  There is always a right and wrong way of doing things.  The current immigration situation in our country is a problem of our own making.  We must take care of ourselves–our citizens–FIRST, before we attempt to help citizens of other countries that want to come here. It is the responsibility of other countries to take care of their people FIRST, if they are not doing that–IT IS NOT OUR FAULT or OUR RESPONSIBILITY to make up for their failures. Decide which side of the issue you are on.  If we ruin this country, we will no longer have the power to help the people of other countries.
  5. Our ethnicity and our responsibilities as Americans.  I am proud to be of hispanic descent. I am proud that I am bilingual.  But I am more proud that I am American–that I live in a country in which many cultures can live together and work towards a common goal:  keeping America a free, safe and prosperous nation. That comes first–ALWAYS–before any other consideration of cultural celebrations and traditions, language rights, or family loyalties from other countries. Decide if you really want to be American, and if you are willing to live up to the responsibilities of what that requires.  We all have a choice here.  Decide if you want to not just live in this country but be a PART of it–if not then decide where you would be happier and go there.

It is time to stand up! It is time to decide what you want for you and your family. There is no right or wrong in this decision. There is power in your thoughts and in how you want to live your life.  It is your choice.  Make it!

Don’t be the underdog, stand up for your convictions. Don’t play the victim, the only person that allows victimhood is yourself.  Don’t stop learning because someone told you this is all there is, there is always more. Don’t accept that others are telling you you don’t get paid what you deserve–work harder, Don’t allow others to call you names because you want to protect your country from the problems of the world, take care of your country and let others take care of theirs. Don’t let people view you as a part of a minority when you are in the majority as an American, you give them your POWER when you let them. The world is a beautiful place–Stand up and find your place in it.

The Search For Happy

The Search For Happy

Througout this journey I have been searching for the meaning of Happy.  Not what happy is but what exactly I want to have in my life that makes me happy.

I have to say that all this introspection has been kind of a roller coaster ride.

As I mentioned in a post early on–Freaky Friday–being happy and finding the happy life for yourself is not an easy proposition.  First of all, because no one is an island and our decisions effect others.

Secondly because many times when we set out to find our happiness, to live our happiness and to express that happiness–many people will call us selfish.

There it is.  And while I thought everyone in my life was on board with my happiness like I am on board with theirs, I found I was wrong–oh so wrong!

Wow–eye opening!  And a little heart breaking.

Luckily, I have given myself the time to journal about it and to think about it and have spoken to my husband about what makes me happy and what doesn’t make me happy in my life.  Even luckier–he supports me in all my feelings, asks good questions to help me think some more and I know he always has my back.

One thing I always knew about myself is that I am happy when others are happy and when good things happen to them.  Whether they be family, life-long friends or acquaintances.

For example–recently an ex-coworker of mine posted on Facebook a beautiful picture of herself at her wedding with her new husband. She looked radiant and both looked happy!  I sent her a very heartfelt Congratulations! and she later responded with an equally happy Thank You!

She is not a good friend, but from the few interactions I had with her at a previous employer I knew her to be honest, hard working, cheerful, dedicated and kind. Why wouldn’t I be happy for a person being happy and in love?

Conversely–two lifelong friends really surprised me this year. One accused me of not keeping in touch often enough and that I “have changed”.  She was hurt I had not kept her up to date on my life–even though in my opinion, nothing noteworthy had really happened that I needed to check in with her about.

I spoke to her and caught her up and she was fine.  I also reminded her that the cell phones, text messages and emails of today work both ways.  She did not get it, but was happy to hear all the mundane details of my life, my craft projects and my blog–which she said she “really needs to make time to read someday.”  She cracks me up!

And so, that was a little over a month ago and you’ve guessed it she has not contacted me with an update on HER life.  Hmmmm.  Does that take away from my happy? No!  She’s probably busy!  I know that we will connect again somewhere down the line–it is the way of a steady friendship.

Another lifelong friend, however, is not a happy person and seems to be very bothered by people who are happy.  Not good–for her–because that is not going to take away from my happy either!  I can’t let it.  While none of us is an island, I fully believe it is not selfish to choose the people that will be in our lives.

Now that I am in the Empty Nest, Over 50 club I don’t have time to indulge folks that just want to bring others down, are envious, or that can just not be happy for other people.  I may still have to associate with them, I may still have conversations with people like this but I don’t let it bother me and I don’t give what they say, believe or do much importance.

In my search for happy I have found that I already am happy. I have had a wonderful life so far–even my bad times in life have not been as bad as others have had it.  I can always find the silver lining, I can always fight the good fight, stand for what I believe in and enjoy the happiness of others.

I encourage you to do the same.  Find your happy.  Journal about what you think might make you happy, eliminate (as much as you can) the things that don’t make you happy and keep fighting the good fight.

Reach for your dreams or redefine them so that you can reach them step by step–this is your life, and we are only given one.  The search for happy is important–indulge yourself!

If you’d like to see some of the other things that make me happy check out my Pinterest Page–Empty Nest Saavy!  Have a great week and have fun!

Your Circle

Your Circle

Your circle of friends should want to see you win.

Your circle of friends should not be joyful when you are struggling.

Your circle should be quietly supporting and not critical of your life decisions.

Your circle should not spend their time trying to change you to be more like them.

Your circle of friends should recognize that you are unique and that in reality they are better for knowing you.

Those that are part of your circle should be helping build you up and not constantly breaking you down.

Who is in your circle?

Your circle belongs to you. You don’t have to let everyone in–you don’t have to let ANYONE in–that does not fit in with your goals, your lifestyle, your values and your priorities.

Life is challenging enough without having to surround ourselves with people who are not going in the same direction.

Others will define you based on who you surround yourself with.

And it is never too late to create your circle, modify your circle or remove yourself from a circle that is not aligned to your true self.

For those that don’t belong in your circle, that use their energy to being you down, or that only want to use you, wish them well and let them go.

No hard feelings are necessary, they just don’t belong with you.

Create your circle with people that will encourage you to be your best as you encourage them to be their best–those are the people that belong in your circle.

24 Hours a Day

24 Hours a Day

Each one of us is blessed to have the same amount of time each day–24 hours.

Yet some of us get so much more done in the same amount of time than others. And I am noticing that people who can accomplish more in the same amount of time that we are all given are happier people.

It all comes down to organization, focus and work ethic.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your day.

1. Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day.

Some people say this is boring. Ok then I am boring. I go to bed by 8:30pm, 9:00pm at the latest, everyday. I wake up at 5:00 am every “workday” and 6:00am on weekends.

As a teacher, even on my holidays off, I follow the same schedule. If my husband and I are traveling we do so also.

This helps our body have the sufficient energy levels each day for whatever is planned.

If we stay up late for a special occasion we still keep to the same schedule and in a few days our bodies have “caught up” the hours of rest needed to continue whatever our lifestyle dictates.

2. Be organized in everything you do.

Being organized is a tremendous time saver. If you know me or have been reading my blog for even a short time you will know I am a planner.

I plan everything from the chores of the day–and the days of the week certain chores get done– to our meals, our workdays, family activities and events.

For example, grocery shopping happens once a week, we follow a list and we don’t go back to the grocery store that week. If we forget something we just work around it until the next time.

If you are organized in everything, less time is wasted and more is accomplished.

3. Keep your focus.

It is great to have lots and lots of dreams of what you want to do with your life and how you want to spend your days–but without focus you will spend days and years going from one thing to the next and never accomplishing anything.

Keeping your focus on beginning and finishing your tasks–whether it is an obligation (like your career)–or something recreational like a hobby or project–is the only way things get done.

Think of all the things you began but have not finished yet…you have lost your focus for those things.

If you feel you have lost your focus because you don’t have enough time see tip # 2.

4. A strong work ethic will help you accomplish anything.

If you want to live a full life with days packed with accomplishments and successes a strong work ethic will get you there.

Whether it is washing dishes, or building a successful company, raising intelligent resourceful children, or being the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do, you have to have a stick-with-it-ness that only comes from a good work ethic.

Here’s the good news–if you don’t already have a work ethic you can get one–they are free!

4 easy steps to a happy and productive life…remember we are all given the same 24 hours a day–how are you choosing to take advantage of them?

Going Organic

Going Organic

Every Sunday I go to the grocery store to buy our groceries for the week. As we are trying to eat healthy and get back to basics-we buy a lot of fruits and vegetables, both raw and frozen.

It never fails to amaze me how much more the organic varieties are compared to the “regular” fruits and vegetables.

I used to ask myself if it was worth it and I answered myself that of course it was not!

We do not buy organic-I don’t think it’s worth it! And although I have been criticized for it–It is MY CHOICE.  Here are my reasons why:

 

How do I really know that the organically labeled produce was actually grown organically? I don’t! I’m taking the word of the company that created the labels.

And the definition of “organically grown” only means “USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines, addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives.” (USDA.com)

What? Exactly what does that mean? In my mind it means some families have their own farms and they grow their crops the best they know how without the help of modern science.

I’m good with that and I think it is a noble profession. Congratulations to those families and the love they have of their way of life. I celebrate them for it, because that is their choice.

But in our wonderful capitalist society we have competition and I also have a choice and for me the choice is to pay less for my produce so I can buy more of it.

 

In order to grow food organically–by federal guidelines–you must use more land, more water and “natural” pesticides such as copper sulfate. Copper sulfate is a natural product, so it falls under the “organic” guidelines–but this product when ingested in a certain amounts can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.  No thanks.

Additionally, I also don’t buy organic because it takes more land to grow organic food. In a world that is continually growing (we are over 7.6 billion people now!)  and with so many people worried/arguing/protesting about world hunger it seems like a great waste of resources in a world where so many people go hungry.

Only in America are we so full of ourselves that we feel that we should strive to eat only organically grown foods so we can “be healthier”, so we can “protect and preserve the earth”, so we can “lead the world by an example” by going against the “big corporate world” that is trying to “control what we eat.”

Think about all the other people in the world that are not worried about eating healthy or being socially conscious as they eat–they just want to EAT.

 

But I think the biggest reason I don’t buy organic produce is because it’s a huge marketing scheme to make (primarily) Americans feel that the only way to eat healthier is to eat organically and I know that to be untrue.

Marketers are brilliant people–and they do their job well. They can make multitudes of people believe that regular fruits and vegetables are bad for you and that if you don’t have the money to shell out for organic–then well poor you, at least you can eat a regular apple–that’s better than nothing at all!

A person recently told me that they eat organic strawberries because they had less calories than regular strawberries. I was going to correct her–but she was enjoying those strawberries so much–why burst her bubble?  The marketers certainly did their job on her.

 

It comes down to this–we are so fortunate to have choices.  If you choose to buy organic and you can afford to do so, more power to you.  Do that if that is what you want to do. I am not stopping you or trying to convince you otherwise. And I do not have to believe what the marketers (or movie stars) say, if I don’t want to. So I decide to spend my dollars on good old regular produce. That is my choice.

What are your thoughts about organically grown foods?  Leave a comment below or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.  And enjoy your fruits today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Science Behind Health

The Science Behind Health

I am a strong advocate for eating healthy, for exercise to stay flexible and active and for creating a life that is enjoyable.

There are many ways to go about this especially if we take advantage of the technology and science that is available to us.

If you think about it our health over the last 100 years has improved immensely. It wasn’t that long ago that we came up with antibiotics, blood transfusion and organ transplants.

The world of medicine has grown quickly and we have reaped the benefits of it. People live longer fuller lives than ever before because of the science.

We know more about the structures and functions of the body, and how movements or every kind and help us or hurt us because of the science.

Sciences of all kinds have helped us have better everything from food production and cultivation to prosthetics to medications and procedures to help us live better and feel better.

But you would think that with all these advances we would be farther along the health spectrum than we actually are because along with all the progress always comes some setbacks, you know: people.

It seems to me that most people have embraced the advantages of the sciences to create the monster instead of embracing it to make us stronger, better and healthier. Sorry Dr. Frankenstein, your creation is not working out well.

Even worse, we are now stopping to take notice of the monster we have created and are blaming the science!  

We want to turn back the clock and go back to a “simpler and better time”–where we struggled to have enough food to feed a nation, where we had to walk everywhere, where life was “healthier”.

Well…we can’t go back. And I don’t think we should.

I like the fact that I can have a protein shake in the morning and that it already has all the vitamins and nutrients that my body needs for the next few hours to do its job. Thank you science!

I like that the meat at the market already comes cut, ground and sometimes even tenderized for me with no bacteria, and other problems like rot, thanks to the science.  I like that I can get eggs from a carton and not a coop in a backyard–again science.

I like that walking is a sport I can choose to do on an indoor track and that I can hop in my car to go buy the aforementioned meat and eggs.

I like that we are still learning the best ways to get out nutrients and medications needed to live a full active life.

Our health in this nation has fallen apart–not because of the science–but because of the choices we have made. Just because hot spicy lemon lime extra crunchy cheetos were invented does not mean we should eat them.

I mean the science proves that they are NOT GOOD FOR US…yet day after day we buy them off the shelves and indulge and feed them to our kids.

And while all the time I see people taking on the farmer, the scientists, the pharmaceutical companies and the government over our health I don’t see anyone upset at the people who are choosing to ruin their health by making horrible choices.

I also don’t see anyone complaining or attacking the people who invented the sugary soft, crunchy, spicy invented shaped stuff we eat.

For me, I choose the science.  I choose to learn all I can about the things that affect my life and to make the best choices I can about my health that I can.

I don’t pretend to be a scientist myself, thank goodness that is not my job. But I also don’t pretend to just go with whatever is available in the marketplace and then complain and lament when my health is not where I want it to be.

We cannot have it both ways–we cannot go back in time and pretend all our advances do not exist. We also cannot be healthy without the science.

What we can do is learn all we can, investigate what is best for us that we are willing to live with, ask questions and enjoy our lives. Use the science to our advantage…it is a very powerful thing!

How do you enjoy the benefits of the science behind our health in your life. Send me a comment or write me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!