Two Traditions to Take Us Into

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Heading into 2017, I think about what I have to look forward to this year and how I want to receive this year. Since I was a little girl, we always had grapes around in the New Year. My relatives trace back to Spain and Cuba and this is a Spanish tradition. I like red grapes as they are sweeter and I equate that to having a sweet life. I normally have a “mental war” on New Years because I tend to be a person that looks back.  I have worked this year on shifting my idea of beauty- mind, body and soul, so I am actually looking forward to gathering with friends and if I’m lucky enough my children, adults now but always my children. A New Year is a time of renewing commitments.

My resolution this year and every year is to be a better woman- a better mom,wife, branch to my step family ( when possible), friend, aunt, sister, daughter, dog owner, writer and literacy advocate. Our children graduate this year, 2 from high school, 1 from college. My nephew will receive the blessing of confirmation.  My husband and I will continue to grow, with opportunities to grow before us.

A new tradition I started just last year was to keep a separate journal for my daughter and son. Whenever I am having a moment with them , good or bad, I write to them and I may put cut outs of stamps, tickets, pictures throughout. I will also write a bit about their family history, such as my grandfather had a family tree in which he traced our bloodline to Junipero Serra a controversial Saint. There was also a rumor this same grandfather had lunch with Al Capone in Miami Beach once.  I don’t write in them much, but the times I do write are significant. I just want them to know that being a mom to me was a privilege and not a burden. This was brought on by a couple of things: one a dysfunctional upbringing which many people can identify with I’m sure. Two: A woman in my neighborhood passed away in her mid 40’s of breast cancer, leaving 2 middle school ers and 1 high school er behind. I thought to myself, how terrible to loose someone so central to your life at those developing ages. They would not have their mother witness their graduations, successes, and celebrations any longer. Wouldn’t it be somewhat comforting to read on how proud  mom was because they couldn’t hear her voice any longer? Or know their ancestral stories…

So there you have it, a little of everything…two traditions to carry into the New Year and a resolution to be a better woman. I look forward to growing followers for this blog and making new friends, and sharing in the journey of aging with grace and peace. Cheers and Happy New Year to my new friends out there! Don’t forget your grapes… bring them in a cool presentation to a party. Skewers, Mock champagne glasses… I haven’t decided how I will bring mine to the party I was invited to, but I will make it fun and festive .If you have any ideas, send them on over. And hey, for those of us watching our weight, it’s a good way to keep our habits in check.

Day 208 Still hanging on under 147. But I want to eat cake!

 

In Retrospect

Reflecting as a writer is an odd thing to do.  I don’t consider myself a writer, a true writer, but I enjoy it as a lost art and a hobby.  My husband wanted to put a writing piece on our website and I explained to him that while the message he was trying to convey was good, the majority of people just don’t want to read anymore. It requires too much effort in a world of social media madness…they want to be entertained with a video, or a funny picture. That’s why I truly appreciate this site. It’s my mutual hub for all kinds of writers, from novice, like myself, to rich, experienced storytellers. I have 21 followers and that is a little source of happiness for me. My blog is dedicated to inviting women who face the challenge of aging with grace, and share their points of view. At the end of each post I include a post note of my journey to transform in mind, body and soul to a healthier Mom, Wife, Aunt  Daughter. A lot of it is tied to losing weight, but it’s so much more than that. It’s also tied to losing weight- the kinds of things that hold us down in life, like comparing ourselves to others instead of simply embracing who we are. Lightening up.

I guess that’s why when I took a moment for the retrospective challenge, and looked back at my views, the post titled ” Some Mornings Can Greet you with A Little Mischief,” had the most hits. It’s a short post about my dogs and I know a lot of people can relate to that. Dogs are so great because they don’t take, they just give. That’s the beauty I see in them. So perhaps I will write about them a little more in 2017, along with the roles mentioned above.

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Post Note: Day 207 Managed to stay around my goal weight 146.6. I was 144.6 before Christmas, but I’m thankful the derailment was not too bad. Nearly 20 pounds lost and not to be found!  Now I just need to get through New Years!

 

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It’s such an Honor to be a Mom!

 

With So Many Beautiful Places in the World…

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How Do You Know You Are Where You Are Meant to Be?

I grew up in Hialeah, Fl.- a very Cuban dominated community. It was a great place to grow up. Families lived on same blocks, where the smell of Cuban cooking along with happy music constantly wandered around the neighborhood. Holidays meant a pig would be grilled in someone’s back yard, and the old men of the family would gather around domino tables.  My parents came to Miami in 1959, as many Cubans had. They gravitated to the area and had a very strong work ethic. But they migrated here not by choice but necessity. I was proud to have Cuban roots and know that Dade County grew into a prosperous, unique area much in part of the Cuban influx.

After I divorced in 2004, I moved out of Miami to what is now my city- Jupiter, Fl.  I’ve always loved Florida because as a kid and young woman many road trips were taken to Key West, St. Augustine, Disney World and of course Miami Beach. Summer time in Miami Beach meant dad would give me and my siblings a roll of quarters and we’d walk about 4 hotels over to the Shelbourn and relish in the lights and “pings” of the Pinball machines, in a weird basement like setting .  No one worried about bad things happening to us.  We’d be gone, no cell phones, but somehow it worked didn’t it?

I chose to move to Jupiter with my kids because Miami had become well, not a great place to be anymore. Though my roots are there, I know if I were to visit my childhood home it would be so different, it would probably bring on sadness, I guess. So it’s best to leave it right were it is- in a good place in my memory.

  Today all my kids are grown and my husband and I can choose to stay here in Jupiter, or make yet another place our home. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Spain, Italy, France, Curacao, California, Tennessee, South Carolina, New York, Louisiana, Massachusetts and D.C. With most visits, I’ve had that little voice go off inside saying, “Wouldn’t it be neat to live here?” I’ve lived in Florida all my life, and I realize I love my state. There are no mountains here, and no snow ( though it did snow once in 1977 when I was 9 years old- lot’s of excitement that day). What I seem to love is our variety of birds, having dinner by the water across from our lighthouse, our state parks and beaches, our palm trees and the warm weather. I like the quiet of our sunrises and moon rises.  Some part of me knows ” Yes, Nat, I’m home.”  I have the blessing of being happily married, and the blessing of knowing all our kids have grown up to be good people and have something positive to inject into our crazy paced world of today.

 I also have the blessing of aging and choosing ( unlike my parents and many people in the world trying to leave a very bad situation) what place I want to call home now. It’s a good place to be… and that’s what strikes me as knowing I’m in the right “place.” No matter where we may go our family, our faith, memories,  our appreciation and love makes any place we may decide on, the right place to be.

Post Note: Day 175 146 Pounds Holding for the Holidays but have to have the Cookies!!

An Open Mind to the Inner Child

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On the subject of being opened minded I look at a situation I am in right now.  My life coach is also a therapist but one title has a positive connotation to it, signaling self improvement, the other signals something is broken somewhere.  I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly is broken, but she asked me to get in touch with my inner child at our last meeting (not session).  She encouraged me to talk to my inner child, calling her by her childhood name, saying “It’s ok ____, you’re ok” as I gently pat my heart.  I thought “Oh my goodness, this is bad.” I have crossed over from someone sane trying to improve herself and see her self in a “beautiful light as she ages” to reaching deep into my psyche to talk to… well basically to myself.” I’m having a hard time keeping an open mind on this. It’s odd.

A couple of months ago I was watching an old movie where Kevin Klein was talking about his therapist telling him to take his inner child on his knee and gently hold him.  I remember being drawn to that idea but dismissing it as something that was just in a movie. And now my “life coach” is asking me to do the same kind of thing.  Since then I have looked up the concept of the inner child and my mind is opening a bit.  It is quite interesting.

There really is something to the phrase “a kid at heart.” I talk to older people and the common link is that they still feel young inside. I feel that our bodies are  a vessel for “our kid.”  Who we become happens at the earliest stage of our life. This is where our confidence develops or does not depending on the upbringing and surroundings provided.  Even if one parent falls short on the nurturing side, as long as the other parent picks up the slack, you have a good chance of becoming a competent, confident self being. At least that is what I have witnessed with two people I know. I really hate it when they say, ‘ I became successful BECAUSE of how crappy my father, for example, treated me.  I say, No, You became successful IN SPITE of how your parent treated you. Credit your other parent who took the time and love to nurture you, and did the best they could.

I always take in such happiness when children are around me.  Their innocence and happiness is contagious and you just know they have not become marred by life’s disappointments. I saw three boys playing at a sandbar the other day.  They were collecting crabs and making a “living room” for them by digging out a shallow hole and filling their beach buckets with water for the hole. I was taken in by their sense of innocence and brought them a crab to add to their collection. A little action like that made them even brighter with happiness.  What a great place to be I thought to myself.

My early inner child is gentle, shy, quiet, and has a vivid imagination.  On a completely dark canvas, she bubbles up with colors, rising towards the surface, but not quite to the top. She wants to be brave and ask questions and express the curiosity that comes with young inquisitive minds, but she never does. She was graced with the title the “good child” never asking for attention, but really needing it. Thank God she has a dog! ( which explains why she loves dogs so much.) She delights in sweets which will carry into her adult self and become a defense trigger for stress.

So me today is supposed to view myself as a beautiful, smart, loving woman, and I am. But I don’t say it easily.  It comes with hesitation. I am a person of faith.  I hope I did not disservice my children, for I was conscious as I raised them that I needed to spend time with them, play with them and put them in social settings that would encourage self confidence.  That experience also gave me a chance to revisit my inner child though I did not know this was going on.  Active parenting is very important and I do hold a few regrets as my children were growing up. I wish I would have focused more on some areas less on others, but I suppose that comes with the territory.  I can only control what I can control.

Self Care is empowering.  I can count on myself all the time.  I can challenge myself to be more social and to establish healthy boundaries with people who may not have my best interest at play.  I can treat myself to new experiences and push myself to be a better, kinder, positive influence in this crazy world( no offense to my therapist, a compliment to my life coach), to be a better mom and wife. I can be a better listener to my inner child, and take comfort that she is with me.

Post Note- Day 82 152.4

Really love the online support of peers that know the journey of weight loss and achievement.  A man wrote me the other day saying he knows my blog is meant for women going through a similar aging acceptance process as I am, but he enjoys reading my blog.  By all means, I invite men to read it as well and see the amazing, beautiful women in their lives in a new light! Come join the ShiftinBeautyMovement with us!

No Witnesses

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So this is how my life was to end…on the floor of a restaurant bathroom, gagging in front of a toilet, all because I swallowed too large a piece of steak…the irony. “47 year old woman found laying next to toilet in local steakhouse at wine tasting event. She died doing what she loved most- eating out with friends and tasting wine with friends, but she died alone.”

Two of my longtime friends I had not seen in a while invited me to a five course wine tasting event.  It was a great time catching up with each other, but at one point someone came over to our table to sit with us, and I wanted to swallow my food quickly to say hello. Unfortunately it was a thick piece of sirloin. Saying hello quickly turned into a vision of throwing up in front of someone I was just introduced to. I was not gonna have it.  I was able to ” keep it together” and quietly excused myself from the table. I  walked over to the restroom with a great pain in my chest just hoping to make it to the restroom. I walked in relieved to be able to cough, burp, heave, breath deeply and found myself and the mercy of the toilet holding my hair back as clear, thick phlegm protruded out.  Do I call an ambulance? Maybe text my friend at the table? Oh no phone I left it there. So this is how it ends… alone, no witnesses, no help. This is what I get for dreading the aging process, I would die at 47.  But somehow I was able to stop the panic, and was able to breath clearly again.  I made my way to the sink, refreshed myself, and walked out with my head held high and feeling quite lucky AND YOUNG.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my successes, and set backs as I challenge myself to become a healthier woman inside and out. I call for witnesses and support from others going through a similar journey. The bulk of the blogs here are about weight loss and aging with some kind of handle on it though it’s a very slippery grip. Sometimes I wake up and reaffirm my commitment to exercise and eating right, and then other times it will only take a small moment- watching tv and having a supermodel guest appear on morning news program, or have cheerleaders host a car commercial, and I think to myself, “Why am I even trying?” Would I ever feel great about myself and say to myself ” You look good for your age.”? Blogging, jogging, logging it can be very hard to stay motivated. When I eat I’m happy, I gain weight and I’m not happy.  Then I cut food intake which does not make me happy, but I lose weight and that makes me happy. It’s a vicious cycle. But on the very bright side, Hey, I’m alive, I have healthy kids, a loving husband and two great dogs that give me a whole lot of love. So to all those women going through something like I am- let’s lighten up on ourselves. Allow your friends to witness the successes and help you through the setbacks. And most importantly keep your sense of humorand chew your food thoroughly.

Post note: I’ve lost 12.4 pounds though pic reflec

So this is how my life was to end…on the floor of a restaurant bathroom, gagging in front of a toilet, all because I swallowed too large a piece of steak…the irony. “47 year old woman found laying next to toilet in local steakhouse at wine tasting event. She died doing what she loved most- eating out with friends and tasting wine with friends, but she died alone.”

Two of my longtime friends I had not seen in a while invited me to a five course wine tasting event.  It was a great time catching up with each other, but at one point someone came over to our table to sit with us, and I wanted to swallow my food quickly to say hello. Unfortunately it was a thick piece of sirloin. Saying hello quickly turned into a vision of throwing up in front of someone I was just introduced to. I was not gonna have it.  I was able to ” keep it together” and quietly excused myself from the table. I  walked over to the restroom with a great pain in my chest just hoping to make it to the restroom. I walked in relieved to be able to cough, burp, heave, breath deeply and found myself and the mercy of the toilet holding my hair back as clear, thick phlegm protruded out.  Do I call an ambulance? Maybe text my friend at the table? Oh no phone I left it there. So this is how it ends… alone, no witnesses, no help. This is what I get for dreading the aging process, I would die at 47.  But somehow I was able to stop the panic, and was able to breath clearly again.  I made my way to the sink, refreshed myself, and walked out with my head held high and feeling quite lucky AND YOUNG.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my successes, and set backs as I challenge myself to become a healthier woman inside and out. I call for witnesses and support from others going through a similar journey. The bulk of the blogs here are about weight loss and aging with some kind of handle on it though it’s a very slippery grip. Sometimes I wake up and reaffirm my commitment to exercise and eating right, and then other times it will only take a small moment- watching tv and having a supermodel guest appear on morning news program, or have cheerleaders host a car commercial, and I think to myself, “Why am I even trying?” Would I ever feel great about myself and say to myself ” You look good for your age.”? Blogging, jogging, logging it can be very hard to stay motivated. When I eat I’m happy, I gain weight and I’m not happy.  Then I cut food intake which does not make me happy, but I lose weight and that makes me happy. It’s a vicious cycle. But on the very bright side, Hey, I’m alive, I have healthy kids, a loving husband and two great dogs that give me a whole lot of love. So to all those women going through something like I am- let’s lighten up on ourselves. Allow your friends to witness the successes and help you through the setbacks. And most importantly keep your sense of humorand chew your food thoroughly.

Post note: I’ve lost 12.4 pounds though pic reflects less because I started photos later.

progress

Establishing Healthy Habits Takes Time

Here’s My Take- Take Note of What You Can Change and Do It!

Several things got me started on this journey to make a positive change within myself.  One was a stressful event I do not feel comfortable putting out there, but suffice it to say, though I was Large in the sense of weight, it made me feel incredibly SMALL inside- painfully embarrassed.  I made a promise to myself that I would not allow myself to feel that way again.  Though I struggle with the emphasis society puts on how you look, I ironically fall into the quicksand, reaching for any limb I can get my hands on to pull me out. It’s crazy how weight is tied to my self view. And while for 66 days I have made a conscious effort to slim down, this is the first time I have focused on getting stronger.

How did I choose 66 days? I saw a post on Twitter that stated it takes 66 days to establish a healthy habit.  I then did some online research on a study that gave four simple steps on establishing a healthy habit- 1. Announce it which explains my blog site 2. Do it till it becomes automatic.  I have to say, if I miss out on exercising and recording it somehow, my day gets thrown off.  3. Once you get to your 66th day, don’t just say, “Ok, I did it.  It’s over now.” Find a way to keep motivated. Push, push,push!  (That’s why I started my Spark Team, but haven’t had anyone sigh up yet.  Hope you consider it:) 4.Celebrate your accomplishments.

So where’s the Shift in Beauty Movement I started? It seems to be a very small shift right now, but I see little bits of growth as I write. What the 66 day journey has taught me is that there is a big difference between “pretty” and “beautiful.” One deals with temporary dumb luck, the other is proven through actions. Your actions make you angelically beautiful, or utterly ugly. It’s a matter of determining what kind of person you want to be. If you were to die today, what would people remember you like?  Would you be beautiful? Could it be proven?

As I push past 66 days of establishing a good habit, I feel good about the other lifestyle changes I’ve made to confirm my beauty. They are simple habits- pay a small compliment to someone, come up with a positive affirmation to believe in, make charitable actions, even small donations can make a huge difference, invite people into the journey to motivate one another, celebrate the blessings that touch us every day, offer help whenever possible,make a conscious effort to contribute something positive to all the relationships I value (my children, spouse, friends &family).   All these little changes along with the time I have made for self care have helped me move in the direction I wanted to move towards. I continue to set new goals because I think it’s important not to get stagnant.

I think my biggest challenge is adapting to social settings and eating out.  My decisions are very conscious of calorie intake vs activity . Knowing I eat out up to five times a week, I keep my calorie intake low throughout day. I start off with a bagel and honey butter to kick carb craving out and then follow up throughout the day with fruits and lots of water, sometimes a salad.  I exercise to know I can enjoy a light beer or glass of wine with dinner and make wise choices.

If you are in a “heavy” place in your life, lighten your load with the help of others and a plan for self care. It’s worth the effort!

Post Note-   153.8 this am.

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Social Connections

Getting Through Successes and Set Backs

Without connections there are no advancements.  They’re the little bridges that keep us moving forward. Doing things alone can be challenging or even impossible.  I remember the first week of my freshman year in high school.  I was extremely shy and the thought of sitting in a loud, crowded lunch room and courtyard area made me so uncomfortable, I would just go to the library and sit by myself for the half hour.  The second week I thought to myself, “Do you really want to keep doing this all school year?” I got brave, sat in the courtyard and met my best friend through out high school. turns out she ate lunch by herself the first week as well. I quickly found out how important social contact was and is in everything we do.

Even now, that social connection proves to make the challenges presented to me, easier to manage.  Weight loss is one of those challenges. If you connect with other people on the same journey, you will find comfort and support in both your successes AND set backs. If you invite other people to see your personal goals, it tends to keep you focused on achieving success.

Keeping in mind that I am more introverted, I purposely put myself out there, to invite other women approaching 50 on the “Shift in Beauty” journey. It was not easy to do, but I knew I didn’t want to do this, or go through this alone.  There are so many changes going on at this stage- skin, weight, posture, HORMONES, empty nest…  It boils down to how you choose to handle all this.  It can very easily be a depressing time in a woman’s life, but I am working on looking at it as an opportunity for personal growth, a time for re- invention.

Aging doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It just needs to be looked at differently.  Yes, I am realistic in that I don’t like all the changes I see coming on all at once.  However, I am learning the discipline of self care.  I took an assessment of what I don’t like, made a list of what I can control versus what I can’t . What I can’t control, I give to God. What I can control, I nurture through a  nutrition and exercise regiment geared towards helping me with my posture, flexibility, balance, mood, energy level and weight loss to feel as good as I can about myself. More importantly, I am making connections with other men and women that feel the same way and give me the support I seem to need to keep pushing towards success.

Post Note- Day 57

I have tried  many new things outside the traditional “walk for 30 minutes”: Gentle Yoga, pilates and barre classes, always with a boost of 30 minutes of cardio.  I meet with my friends once a week for support and encouragement ( ironically at different restaurants- but have learned to navigate a menu). It’s a commitment to “me” which sounds selfish when it’s spills out on my screen, then I remind myself I’ve taken good care of my kids, my mom, my husband, my dogs- now it’s time for taking care of myself and while it’s a process, I feel a little bit better about myself everyday. And you know what I say… “Aging is a Blessing”