A Plate Of Herbs

I grew up watching my grandmother cook large batches of food. She would feed multiple families and still have leftovers. The amazing part if it all was her attitude; surprisingly, she wanted to serve. She cooked after working all day, preparing healthy hearty meals. She would say we needed food that would “stick to our bones.” I watched her pour her heart into every dish. After our first bite, she would ask with such a gleam in her eye, “how does it taste?” It was always good, because her secret ingredient was LOVE.

I really believe the example she left was a rich legacy in loving and serving others. Although I do not enjoy cooking as much as she did, I try not to forget the secret ingredient each time I prepare a dish. Freezer cooking is one way that I can manage our resources without sacrificing the joys around meal time. Truthfully it is all about the company around the table  that makes the difference. We must focus on pouring into one another as though we are filling a glass to quench a need.

This week I was not feeling well. The flu has been going around but Mommies do not get a day off. My husband tries to jump in and help, but meal time requires a whole lot more. It was good that I could pull out freezer meals to provide healthy hearty meals.  We are still working with the freezer meals from January.

We try to bag dinner to last 2 days each. We plan our freezer meals as if there will not be any days off in the month. We do this because in case they eat more than I originally planned, the next day we can easily pull out something new. My husband, a former college football player and personal trainer, must feed his muscles. Easily my 2 day prep of his favorite foods usually end up lasting a single day. Now my truth, honestly I must work on showing grace when his appetite mess up my schedule 😉.

Love and Peace

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Eating Royally with Freezer Cooking

For a couple of years, I have been trying my hand at freezer cooking and I love it. I recommend it to everyone, because of the money you save and the ease it offer in eating balanced meals every day. The goal of freezer cooking is to make meal time stress free and enjoyable for everyone. It is a way to provide healthy and delicious options consistently. We can do that when we cook large amounts of food and divide these meals.

I start out with preparation. I take a few days to think about the meals we want to have the following month. I use a scrap piece of paper to brainstorm. From past experience, I realize that 15 main courses will feed us the entire month. I usually try to make 4 of these casseroles for weekend meals. During the prep stage, I look through the freezer and pantry to do an inventory of everything we have. I check to make sure I have freezer bags and other freezer safe containers. During this phase, I begin cleaning out the refrigerator, dumping old food, and wiping things down. I want to make sure that I have nothing to do but cook and store on the days I am freezer cooking.

Day 1, I prepare a menu and shopping list. I take the family calendar out and strategize on what dishes support the schedule. I think about the weather and ways to prepare seasonal foods so that it can be both delicious and nutritious. We make sure the menu include meatless days, but most of our main dinner courses will be meat dishes. I go through my recipes and pull the ones I will be using. I think about the main and side dishes. Is it a simple dish that needs to be accompanied by a fresh salad? What food to schedule on the day I have meetings, piano lessons and homework? I think about the days I can make short trips to pick up fresh fruits snd vegetables. A day filled with activities, would not comfortably fit a trip to the grocery store for fresh produce for the week. I try to section the shopping list by categories and by stores. This will help me to figure out how much time each trip will require and how much of the budget.

Day 2 is shopping for the bulk of the items. We usually shop at a wholesale store because they offer larger portions for a fraction of the cost found in most conventional stores. We prefer wholesale stores because we want to focus our savings in the area of quality meats, grains, organic and non-gmo foods. When I arrive home, I refrigerate the foods I will not start cooking or prepping on this particular day. Most of the frozen items are organic vegetables and fruits that can remain frozen until mealtime. I try to get the hardest, dirtiest, or most perishable things done first. I label the zip lock bags with the name of the item to be stored and date them, making sure to add any notes I would need to remember on the day we eat it. It is good to set out the seasoning and spices needed for today’s dishes.

I begin by first cleaning the large batches chicken. I personally do not like to eat feathers and hair, so this is going to require a lot of energy to get it clean enough for us. I divide the cleaned chicken and place them into their labeled bags. After thoroughly cleaning the area, I wash my hands to finish these first freezer meals. I do not cook the chicken on Day 2 but I bag it with all of its ingedients to finish in the crockpot on the day we eat it. So the final thing before placing the chicken into the freezer is to add the seasons in the bag that goes with the label on the bag. Finally, I steam the 5 large bags of Kale, divide and place them in the freezer. I also put the first batch of beans in the crockpot. I leave the beef in the fridge to prepare the remaining dishes on the following days.

It usually takes me a few days to prepare and store 15 meals. I can go on, but I just want to layout the process for now. I use the crock pot for a lot of the dishes, so I am able to work on portions of the meals even on busy days. I also choose one day for baking large batches of breads to accompany soups and stews. This should be enough to get you started. Please let me know if you found this helpful and want to hear more.

40 Day Finale Living in Dignity and Grace

The 40 Days to Positive Posture was full of hard work. I challenged myself for weeks to walk greater distances. I was determined to smile more and chose to rejoice even in difficult circumstances. My view on life was being transformed. When I welcomed challenges, I realized they were doorways to opportunities. A variety of opportunities but the best was choosing to grow into a better person.

I concluded this personal posture challenge with an “all out” two-part finale. I participated in the 2017 Mrs. Maryland America Pageant on a Saturday. It was not going to cost me anything but efforts in working on my posture. The next day, to add to the fireworks, my family ran in our first 5k. A dream of mine is to participate in Marathons. I ran in high school and college but did not want that to be it for something I enjoyed so much. Since college, life became complicated. My legs gave out and walking became difficult. Last year at this time I was exercising under strict supervision. So this 40 day challenge was my way to share a recovery journey with you.

This challenge encouraged me to reflect on my attitude when facing physical challenges. I conquered some of the tough things with grace when I was determined to do so with positive posture. The way I carried myself garnered positive responses from others versus the times I didn’t care. When I walked in Positive Posture, I actually grew in an understanding of my own personal worth. I did not win the state title, but I was more honored to walk away with the title of Mrs. Bethesda America 2017. I was a winner whether they crowned me or not.

The 5k was its own challenge, and my 5 year old felt it the most out of all of us. This was her first full year of doing various runs, so a run of this distance was definitely a stretch for her. Although I had the experience decades ago, it felt like it was my first race as well. Early in the race, I saw a girl in a wheelchair being pushed by her sister. It was the most beautiful thing and I could not hold back the tears. Living with a disability will carry its own challenges, but it isn’t a limit on how much of life we are able to experience. We can choose to conquer challenges with grace when we choose positive posture.

Positive Posture is a choice. It is more than just physical stature. It is a way of thinking. It affects our personal abilities to overcome challenges and it affects how others see us. It is the decision to finish gracefully.

Help

Day 34

An April 13,2017 entry
I needed some help. I had to go to physical therapy to help relieve the tightness preventing me from holding my back up straight. I have been working on the transverse abdominal to build core muscle and I have been walking to help build overall strength but My body started fighting back. For example, last night I was awaken from sleep by tinnitus, ringing in the ear. It can make you think you are going to loose your mind if it does not stop. I ran into the kitchen for no reason at all (maybe I thought I could outrun it). Then I prayed. I did find some comfort…more like peace. The ringing still lasted for hours. See, I told you I needed some help. Today was my first day back to physical therapy in several months, so after reevaluating things, we did a light massage and light exercises. They instructed me to work on my own doing the various stretches: neck stretches, chest stretches, and slight trapezius back stretches. They were simple but when coupled with massage followed by a heating pad, I walked out feeling so much better.

Physical therapy has become a safe place to be totally honest about how I feel. The chronic pain limits how much I can exercise, but in physical therapy it is understood and they don’t think negatively of me for it. Pain management is very important in preventing other major issues like high blood pressure. The doctor says I can’t take prescription medication for pain because of the side effects experienced when I did try them. Since I’m unable to take the regular prescribed medications, I have to manage it all naturally. No complaints…in fact I’m grateful. Although it is more challenging, it is not impossible. I’m encouraged in knowing that “all things are possible”. I’m not alone in this journey, God is with me.

Honesty

Day 29
Honesty

How many people truly share the truth on how they are doing when asked, how are you? I am NOT saying that is a time to vent. I am saying that is the time to connect. Since most people don’t expect lengthy responses, there is no pressure to make it long. So we are faced with the question, how do you honestly share without overdoing it? Well first, you need time to daily reflect on how you are doing and what you are doing. You may have started a new hobby, but apprehension about your skills may stop you from sharing this exciting new interest. It is not so much about the details of roller coaster emotions but our personal response is what really makes the difference. For example, when how you are doing, you may respond hopeful with a brief description.”Hopeful. I’m learning to play a guitar.” Wouldn’t that act as a great icebreaker? Humor works great, but never at the expense of honesty. If you are grieving or suffering, you may respond with just prayerful. “Prayerful.” In this this case, explanation is only given when asked, but honesty is our intention.
Let’s brainstorm on honest responses for different scenarios.
For days you are in physical pain
For days we are feeling persecuted
For days we have disappointment

You maybe asking, what does this have to do with Positive Posture. Well, honesty is the key that can unlock the doors to miracles. As a person that’s recovering from hurts, hang ups and habits, I realize the first step in healing is acknowledging that I have a problem. This level of honesty with myself first, empowers me to go to God and ask for help. It frees me to share both trials and triumphs with those who walk beside me in the fight. Honesty will strengthen self esteem in how it builds confidence in myself to make good choices. Confidence is the most beautiful thing about an attractive personality.

Day 27
Had such an amazing stretching session with my husband. 45 minutes and I’m feeling so relaxed. Stretching helps with posture. Positive posture is almost impossible with tight chest muscles. It took months in physical therapy before I saw improvements in my posture a year ago. That was the best I ever felt concerning posture. I definitely want to include stretching into my daily routine.

Day 20
Took the walking from my home to the streets. I had a Dr. appointment that was a little over a mile away. We have a trail within our community that makes walking to places nearby a sheer joy. I worked up a sweat but nothing too embarrassing. So glad I took the challenge.

Day 14
I have included walking to my posture routine. I click on YouTube and allow Leslie Sampson to lead me in walking a mile. It is always difficult to start something new. In fact, starting is the HARDEST part. I’m glad to come across this video because she has made walking a mile so much easier. 15 minutes and I’m done!

Being Our Best Moves Us Forward

Day 8
Being Our Very Best Moves Us Forward

A four year old boy raced to write his name, he yells at another little fellow, “I won because I beat you.” I gently responded, “we are not competing against one another. What is important is that YOU do the very best that you possibly can.” Years have passed by and that child may have graduated from high school by now, but that lesson is still true. It is not about beating someone else to the finish.

If we compete, it is to be against ourselves. We are to strive to be and do better than we did the last time we met a challenge. It is important to do our very best not to win but because it is right. Although I taught this to little ones years ago, today it felt good when someone reminded me. My choices are not results of aimless goals but decisions I made to help achieve personal and family goals. Decisions and choices that help me to move forward and that will help build integrity and fortitude in the lives of my children.
Day 7: I Can Do All Things

After running one mile earlier that day, the coach calls me in to run a 4 by 4 relay race.  For months I practiced running distance, but he was desperate and was hoping for a miracle. We all were. The race started and we did our best to gain a big enough lead to buffer my inexperience, but it was not enough. We finished last. Although this was a high school track meet, the hard memory of poor performance still follows me. I always welcome a challenge, but I do so with hopes of winning. At times, I have started out without the promise of a win and I kept the faith knowing that my success is defined by me and not the world. If I finish with integrity and grace, then I have won. If my works failed but I have learned how to love and serve others in a more powerful way, then I have won.

Although this is a great way of facing challenges, there are still so many things yet to learn. I am left to wait patiently when there are no quick answers. My strength at times wanes and often I’m left with a whole lot of desire and very little energy. What do you do when all your strength is gone?  You keep on believing.  A few days ago, I met a friend at the Rayburn Building to attend a panel in Washington, D.C. My friend is a young woman who has a curvature of the spine and one shortened leg that twists. She hides her handicap by wearing beautiful long dresses and skirts as she gracefully tackle everyday challenges. A few years ago, my strength was so low that I stopped business activity and focused my energies on my husband and kids. This friend has a husband and a child, but yet never stops. She is very successful, so I had to ask her how does she do it. She told me, “I am always in pain, but The Lord is my help. Whenever I’m weak, He makes me strong. He gives me the strength.” I was speechless. In fact, I’m still thinking about it now. So, it is true…there is no such thing as the impossible with God. During these 40 days of Positive Posture, even during the hard days, it is necessary to work through it.

What do you do when all your strength is gone?
Day 6: Time To Celebrate

Life can be full of unexpected twists and turns. Each and everyday we dare ourselves to step into new adventures. What I appreciate about maturity is that we accept the outcome.  I count it a victory to live to fight another day. Do you rejoice when you meet a challenge?  Challenges bring lessons of faith, love and life and with each trial, we are faced with making a choice. We can choose to believe or we can choose to cower away out of fear.  I want to believe that I will choose each time to believe…I have that kind of spirit. In the end, I’m only stronger.

Do you believe?

Day 3 Intro to Stretching

I find research very important if you want to build a new self image and change your outlook. When I started physical therapy, I had some major problems with my posture. We did all of the exercises, but found it hard to see real results. One day I complained about my chest feeling tight and they found that my chest muscles were extremely tight.  They pulled and push until the muscles relaxed. A miracle did not happen with my posture but the journey to Positive Posture started to get easier.

Researchs notes

Stretching is physical exercise. A lot of people discount stretching because they don’t always understand it’s benefits. They see it as something passive that can’t possibly help them attain their goals.

It reduces stress. I
It reduces injury. II

Stretching increases physical performance and improves circulation of oxygen throughout the blood. This delivers more energy throughout the body.

There is more to come on stretching and positive posture.