Ratatouille

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Image by Sergei Belozerov from Pixabay

Whether it be a delicious French country dish made from harvesting late summer vegetables, or the animated film centered around a rodent gourmand who dazzles a restaurant critic with the same dish, ratatouille involves nourishing our soul.

In the Chinese calendar, we are on the verge of the Year of the Metal Rat. These zodiac Rats are know for their industrious nature, and the ability to gather sustenance and prosperity and tuck it away much like the harvesting of late summer vegetables.

I am a Metal Rat and fit that profile quite well. Coincidentally, I am petite and small-boned and quite adept at hiding in corners. You will often find me there, worrying and working myself to the bone, typical behavior of the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac. Although it might not be listed in this lucky sign’s traits, I do love me some metal music.

If you are a fellow Metal Rat, it is our year to shine. Metal is a conductive energy, so whatever we touch will have powerful energy behind it. Be careful and vigilant where you focus your thoughts and tasks, you don’t want to waste that power down the wrong path or in too much worry. I consider it quite auspicious that I am about to retire and making plans to building the next chapter in my life’s story. My efforts have been in the left-brained, logical world for many a year, so I am gearing up to give my right-brain, creative side some release. #Create!!

Even if you are not a fellow – ahem – rodent, it is a potent year for shoring up your resources. Invest wisely, beautify your nest and fill your coffers with that which sustains your life. The little rat is a workaholic worrier, always afraid there is never enough financial abundance, yet loves practical luxury. That little nest will always be stylish and those little feet shod in beautifully made shoes. The task at hand for the rat, is that in order to avoid excessive worry about money is to not overspend. Go green, recycle, upcycle, my little friends, and don’t overlook secondhand and consignment shopping. I have just discovered this market, and have scored some lovely luxury items at minimal cost. Minnie Mouse understands that you can look fabulous and be frugal at the same time.

Don’t neglect the inside, while covering up the outside. An overload of chemicals will keep you feeling off, bloated, itchy and overweight. Chemicals are everywhere and in most everything, and our bodies have difficulty in eliminating them. Think of your intestines and skin as a filtering system, and drink pure filtered water every day. Eat organic, non-GMO food. Rats have thin skin and are susceptible to the “itchies” and you don’t want to look like that. This is going to be a big year and you want to keep your body in as good a condition as possible so you have the energy to give it your best. Not that you shouldn’t do that any other year.

Remember to be a little social too, my fellow Rats, all work and no play is unhealthy. Our workaholic tendencies cause us to put all our duties before play, and usually there isn’t enough time nor energy left for play. Yes, I know you want to put the laundry away before going to the party, but no one has ever died from not having folded towels. A much refreshed you is a much happier you.

Come out of the corners, little Rats, dream big and put those plans into action. Be sure to join those celebratory parties when you meet a milestone. #wineandcheese

PS. I’ve also been told that rats make good pets.

Re-Evolving

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Image by Mira Cosic from Pixabay

Is it just me, or does it feel like Mercury Retrograde? I know it isn’t supposed to start until February 17th, but OMG, things feel crazy.

I have been reading some of the astrology reports and today begins a “collaboration”, if you will, of Pluto and Saturn. Pluto likes to destroy everything in its path, and Saturn loves to build structures. Maybe that’s why it seems like the work of my busy, little planet. I can’t claim to understand all of what this big meet-up means, but it seems pretty simple. Take a bulldozer to everything and rebuild. Not that I am recommending that to anyone.

It seems fitting that this is happening in January, when everyone is hell bent on setting resolutions and reinventing their life in some way. Most resolutions fail within about six weeks, or so I am guessing, so maybe this planetary collusion will help some of those big plans actually stick. Did you make resolutions this year? I didn’t and rarely ever do. You gotta turn something into a habit or way of life instead of just some grand plan.

Do you feel like you are stuck in some dull routine, just because, but it doesn’t really serve you? Perhaps Pluto will help, or maybe force, you into ditching it for something better. For example: do you go to your in-law’s every Sunday for spaghetti dinner even though it gives you heartburn for three days? Maybe you like your in-law’s, so why not suggest they come to your house for pot roast instead? Or maybe you don’t like them, and it’s time to have a chat with your spouse about doing something different for Sunday dinner. Who knows, your spouse might so full of relief at your suggestion that’ll they will make dinner. Winner-winner, chicken dinner!

Whatever the circumstance, it is important to acknowledge that there is some crazy energy going on and to do what you must to stop the panic. Don’t rush out to buy a new refrigerator just because it had a brain fart and displayed an error code. (Like ours did this morning. We have it on notice, but a backup plan with a spare fridge in the garage.) Don’t get a divorce because you hate in-law spaghetti dinners. Don’t quit your job because your boss went all stupid over a report. Breathe, be vigilant if necessary, but let the Universe guide you on the path for your Highest Good.

That is what this Pluto-Saturn thing is all about. The re-emergence of the real you. The ever, evolving journey of your life. The support and resources to make powerful, enduring changes. The Universe has your back and wants you to be happy and evolving into your best you.

A New Decade Rolls In

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Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

Happy 2020 to all! I’m back online, mostly, as I’m still in recovery mode for my wrist. Who knew such a little lump would be such a big deal. I’m back to work tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes.

Not just a new year has begun, but a whole new decade. The time is ripe for a new, or just revised, vision of your life. Resolutions are usually a wasted effort and often abandoned within three weeks. I’m talking about a vision. How do you see yourself? What do you want your life to look like? Have you practiced that?

In February, I am retiring after 18-plus years of government service. It’s been a good run for me. I helped start up a new county and made it a worthwhile career. I set my intention to serve and I feel as though I lived up to that goal. But now it’s time to serve me.

I’ve been in the prep mode of this event for a couple of years. I’ve begun new hobbies, written a-yet-to-be-published book, researched places to visit and practiced activities and interests. The three weeks I have been away from work due to my surgery have been very useful in teaching me what matters. I expect retirement to still have its surprises, but I am ready. I have my vision of what my life will look life. I look forward to this new decade and what it will bring.

How about you? What vision have you imagined for yourself? Have you taken any action steps or practiced your vision? Are you ready for the reality of it?

Many blessings, hopes, dreams and most of all, good times to all of you as we journey forth.

Ever Evolving

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Aging. There is a reason why it is a verb and not a noun. Or a journey rather than a destination. Some days I just blaze through them when I am focused on a task and not even notice that the time has passed.

Other days, I look in the mirror and think: WTF what is going on here?

Lately, I’m a bit obsessed with my wardrobe. I’ve always been a fashionista, with a tendency to make a statement with my clothing. I like edgy with leather moto jackets and studded boots. I like bohemian with flowy prints. I like color, texture and patterns. No one that knows me would call me beige.

What comes with aging, that is so mind-boggling, is the constant state of body change. All you women out there who have gone through menopause, know exactly what I’m talking about. There are a gazillion blog posts written on this very subject. Lots of WTF moments.

Change is inevitable, but I think it is difficult to accept what happens to your body. Your boobs get bigger and they droop. Your ass gets bigger and droops. And then there is this round thing that shows up around your waist like a Monday morning donut. WTF. It is not an easy task to get them corralled and back in shape.

A diet shouldn’t be a diet, but a lifestyle. Learn to love vegetables. Eat hormone free meat. Seriously? If it makes an animal get bigger, what do you think happens to you? Practice intermittent fasting, if nothing but to eliminate the digesting grumbles in the middle of the night. Take supplements because, yes, they really do work. Drink water with a chunk of lemon in it. It makes you pee, but you’ll notice the puffiness goes away.

Exercise. Walk. Take the stairs. Do weight-bearing repetitions several times a week. Even if it doesn’t do much for your shape, your bones and joints will love you. Having muscles will help you get out of bed in the morning, instead of just rolling over and hoping you don’t end up on the floor. Our muscles get weaker as we age, so you can counteract that by lifting weights.

Take care of your hair and skin. Nothing ages you faster than looking like you don’t give a sh*t. Gray hair looks awesome when it is well-cared for. Spending money on good hair products is worth it. Same thing with your skin. If you live in a dry climate, like I do, moisturizers are a must unless you like itching your way through winter. Coconut oil works quite well.

Keep up with your teeth. Brush, floss, see your dentist. Healthy teeth keep you healthier.

Breathe. Meditate. Get out in nature.

It will make it a lot easier to go back into your closet and throw out all the things you bought last year that no longer fit.

The Winners of the World

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Image by AxxLC from Pixabay

It is Sunday, which means football, which means that – once again – I am writing a football inspired article. Why? Well, I like watching the sport, but there is just so much inspiration to be found in such a hard-driven game.

There are, of course, winners and losers in each game and each season. There has to be; that’s why it is a competitive game. No one would watch otherwise.

What makes a Loser? And why would I start with that? Because it is too easy to talk about a Winner. A Loser can happen for various reasons. Not feeling good enough comes to mind first. A Winner can feel that way too, and so pushes themselves that much harder. That isn’t so bad, unless the endless quest pushes you into a nervous breakdown or serious injury. You can have an off day or feel ill, which could make you a Loser for that day. That could make you a Winner if you realize that sometimes you need to rest and recover instead of pushing yourself harder.

You could have a bad rapport with your mentor or coach, so you make a bad decision based upon bad direction. If you can adapt or resolve the situation, you become a Winner. Sometimes choosing to leave the situation altogether can be winning.

A true Winner knows how to change their circumstances through the power of choice. A Loser believes they have no choice. Not choosing at all is still a choice. Even if you are part of a team, and your team is experiencing a loss, you still have a choice to be a Winner. You played your best; you did your best work; you did something that made you feel good about yourself – makes you a Winner.

So get out there and kick some a$s, even if it is just your own.

Festi-fall

IMG_0687Every now and then, my fashionista side says “let’s go play fashion shoot” and off we go to some interesting locale to get my vogue on.

September is nearly at its end, and the leaves are changing colors and floating to the earth. These last few days of warm weather herald a flurry of festivals; whether it is an outdoor concert or a romp through a pumpkin patch. Or for many, a chance to suck down a few gallons of beer at an Oktoberfest.

The beautiful colors of fall had me pulling on some festival worthy garments, such as this gorgeously embroidery tunic from Johnny Was, aptly named “Festival Tunic”. The pants are from Sundance and the 4-inch platform sandals are by Schutz. Although I wouldn’t recommend sauntering through a pumpkin patch in them. The happy hippy hat is from some shop in Estes Park.

IMG_0674Fall is such a lovely season. I think Mother Nature gives us all Her glory as a present before the frigid days of winter. Something to stick in our mind as we hunker down and nurture ourselves while She rebuilds herself for another season. And so should we. Getting out there in all my glory helps to remind me that whatever is hiding beneath those layers of clothes, like it or not, it is me and I can rebuild myself with all the intent and care as Mother Nature. Sometimes She, too, doesn’t look Her best, but with faith and knowingness comes another season to get Her festi-fall on.

And so will I.

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Do Forward

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Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

You’ve heard the term “do over”. Typically it is combined with a lasting feeling of regret. Why would you beat yourself up if you did the best you could, with what you had, at the time you did it?

Whenever we have some goal we want to accomplish, or a continual way of doing something, we study, learn and practice with the intent to become better. Sometimes our goals include a competitive event or testing of some sort to determine our proficiency. And then the self-judgement sets in and we wish for a “do over”.

Why not look at it from a different perspective and consider it a “do forward”? Ditch the regrets, the shame, the sadness, even the anger and focus forward instead of backwards. Looking back keeps you stuck backwards. How can you envision your future if your gaze is on what you should have done? See each new moment as a brand new opportunity to stretch, to grow, to reach beyond what you though you could do. Why would you want to do over if you could do different?

Think about the movie “Ground Hog Day”, in which the character woke up over and over to the same day. Sure, it may have been an opportunity to do something different, but it was THE SAME DAY. The environment was never different and neither were the people. So by doing over, you never get the chance to experience something new.

Maybe the day you had your competitive event was crappy weather. Would you want a do over in that? No, you’d rather have better weather. Maybe you had a mild cold the day you took your test. Would you want a do over with a runny nose, or would you rather have good health?

By doing forward, you open yourself to new possibilities, a new environment, and the ability to bring a new you to your event. Imagine what you could do.

Mediation Meditation

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Yes, you read that correctly. So let’s take a look at the meaning.

Mediation uses a third party to resolve a dispute. Meditation helps you access your subconscious for insight, relaxation and ideas. For this purpose, consider that your conscious mind and body are in dispute about something you would like to accomplish. Your subconscious is the neutral party, because it holds all the skills, brilliant ideas, memories, knowledge and most of all, the neurological wiring to make sh*t happen. This part of your brain can tell your conscious mind and body that they can do this thing, whatever it is.

Let’s say you want to want to improve your golf score. Now, I know nothing about golf so if I don’t explain this correctly, forgive me and make your own mental correction. Every time you tee off, the ball sails off to the right. You’ve changed your stance, your grip and even your – ahem – balls and the damn thing continues to make a perfect arc. (There IS perfection in something.) So why not try meditation to improve your skills?

Find some time and a space where you can sit quietly for a few minutes. No phone, no music, just you and your thoughts. Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly in and out. Feel the tension of your day slowly draining down from your head all the way through your body and out your feet. You will know that you have begun to relax when random thoughts start scrolling through your head. Don’t worry about them; most people think your mind should be clear. Not necessarily true, just don’t fixate on any particular one of them. Keep breathing until you don’t notice any of your surroundings, and your focus is somewhere in your forehead. This is when you can begin to access your subconscious.

Now visualize yourself setting up to tee off. Ask your subconscious how to make the ball go straight. See yourself making the swing and the ball going straight down the fairway. Now say to yourself “my mind and body hit the ball where I want it to go”. Repeat this several times so you train your brain to instruct your body what to do. Make this a practice and watch how your golf game changes. Who knows, you might even make Tiger a little worried.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

You Want to be a Football Hero

quarterback-4363871_1920Football season is upon us and players are vying for first round position. All guts, no glory, as they say and you see many a young quarterback launching the ball for all it’s worth and hoping for the game-winning touchdown. Careers are set or lost on a weekly basis.

What if you had to live your life like the NFL? Sixteen chances to win and move on to the Super Bowl. A moment of glory to be immortalized in a statue and documented permanently. At least it gives former players something to do each week.

It may sound as though I am demeaning football. Not at all, I’m glued to the television each week to see what the Broncos are going to do. I cheer, cuss and throw popcorn at the screen trying to make my own touchdown. And usually not all that successful either. I confess to not knowing a whole lot about the game, but I just love the passion and athleticism. I can tell who is having a bad day and who is focused upon winning.

Winning isn’t everything. I’ve heard that saying too. Oh, but it is! It’s all in the personal view of what it means and the level to which it is taken. The Super Bowl is a huge deal, but so is threading a sewing needle when you can’t see for sh*t. Like me. Writing a page a day for a book is just as important as busting the ribbon when you cross the finish line. Winning at life is another saying, but who really knows what that means?

Our journey here is to grow our spirit, in order to grow Spirit, and experience giving and receiving love. Sounds rather simple, but everyone’s journey is complicated. If you compare it to a single football season, you aren’t totally sure of what you are going to get. You might know ahead of time which teams you are going to play and who is on the roster, but then it is a guessing game. Any single one of the players could be having a bad day due to illness or minor injury, and you know they usually play through most of that. That little bit could throw off the rhythm of the team. Just like at your workplace when the go-to person is out sick. It could also be later in the season and some of the players are sidelined with a more serious injury. Think about that if you are older and had made life plans of traveling or some such and your partner has become permanently disabled. You now have to re-strategize your game plan. Maybe your partner is okay with you traveling with a family member or best friend, while they stay home and enjoy their poker league. Just like in football it is all a matter of attitude and adjustment.

So you can still be a football hero.

Breaking It

keyboard-393838_1920I’ve taken a short break from blogging. It wasn’t intentional, just too many things going on that kept me out of creative thinking. I don’t lament the time lost, because sometimes circumstances work in our favor to give us a break.

Taking a break from anything can be healthy. If it is physical exercise, you give your body a chance to rest and recover. If it is mental activity, such as studying or work logic, you give your brain a chance to reset and balance. Taking a creative break does the same thing from the opposite side.

A break is a temporary, short-time-frame rest. A long-term break may be a sign of something bigger like burnout. Lacking desire or interest in something could be that it truly is no longer relevant in your life, however, if the lack of desire or interest is widespread it can be a sign of depression.

Depression is a treatable disease. There are many resources and methods that are readily available. Don’t allow this to overcome your life when there is help.

A break can be as simple as a short nap. Taking a walk is a nice break when you have been sitting awhile. Reading a book, listening to music, playing with a pet or child, fixing a cup of tea or coffee, having a healthy snack and especially meditation are various forms of relaxation. The important thing is to do the opposite of what you have been doing.

Just don’t break anything.