A challenge: The season of greed is upon us

blickpixel / Pixabay

 

This week is Thanksgiving and init seems that instead of pausing to be thankful it is a sign that Christmas is coming.

With Christmas comes commercials, sales, and retailers pushing the latest product and trying to entice you to spend more.

Because what would Christmas be without gift giving?

Gift giving means thinking of others and finding that perfect item.

So we spend weeks stressed about whether the gift will be just right. We worry about whether the recipient will like it.

We start looking at our gifts as a measure of how much the person means to us. The more extravagant and expensive the gift the greater the person’s value. One stop by Pinterest tells me that even our homemade gifts have leaped to new epic levels.

American families add on mountains of credit card debt as a way of proving their love and appreciation. It doesn’t stop with family members. There are office parties, acquaintances, long lost aunts and uncles, pets, and even neighbors that you should buy gifts for.

All to keep up appearances.

It is no wonder that the stores have capitalized on this. They see this as the perfect opportunity to creatively market toward our insecurities. I don’t fault them, they are just seeing an opportunity and leaping.

We can stop it any time. But we don’t.

We go out and spend, we buy, we stress, some even lose sleep. We throw out budgets and responsible spending habits all because we have to give gifts.

Retailers are getting more bold with their marketing. They no longer try to sugar coat the reason for the season. Look no further than this year’s TJ Maxx commercial. In the middle of it they proudly declare to get the “tastiest, biggest, loudest, most coveted…” gift.

Most coveted.

Because Christmas isn’t just about giving a gift to another. It is about finding what they covet the most and giving it to them, right?

If it is the most coveted gift, that means they are measuring your gift to another. They are looking at you and thinking, “nope, not what I wanted” or “not good enough.”

That may not be true, but it is sure what the commercial implies.

Christmas is not here yet but we’re already obsessing about that perfect gift.

This year I’m issuing a challenge.

First we must deal with Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is about being thankful.

But we’ve even twisted that materialistically. A lot of times we list “what” we’re thankful for on our lists.

So as you sit down on Thursday and reflect on what you’re thankful for, I challenge you to add something to your list….who?

Who are you thankful for and why? Have you told them recently? If not, perhaps now is the right time.

Second, as we head into Christmastime look inside yourself and ask three simple questions:

  1. What is your reason for giving? I’m not talking about charity work or donating toys, I’m speaking of the gifts you buy for others. Are you giving a gift because you desire to or out of social obligation?
  2. What would happen if you didn’t give that gift? Giving gifts to everyone and their dog can get very expensive. If you still would like to give the person a gift, would a plate of cookies be adequate. If the person is expecting an extravagant gift and your relationship will change if you don’t follow through, it might be time to rethink that relationship.
  3. When you receive something, what is the first thing that goes through your mind? Are you comparing it to past gifts or weighing its value? Lower your expectations and truly be thankful. I know it is cliche, but it is time we as a society started living out the model, “it is the thought that counts.”

 

So as we go into this very busy season I challenge you to stop. Stop and look inside. Are your thoughts centered around things or people?

I am striving to be more people centered this year and I challenge you to join me.

~Crystal

Fulfilled Fridays 18 Linkup

rikkerst / Pixabay

Winter is so beautiful.

One look out my window at the snow that still blankets the ground a week later reminds me of how beautiful it is.

The freezing cold temperatures set in this week and everything turned white, pure, pristine. The hoarfrost coated the tree branches with crystals every morning. A unique design, changing every day.

It was quiet, peaceful, gentle because most animals were staying inside their homes. Cars were muffled as the snow absorbs road noises.

Life continued all around, but at my house, at the end of our dead-end road, everything stopped for a while.

Brought on by winter.

I’m used to this. It happens every year.

But there was something new in the storm. A few days ago I looked outside and saw silver glitter floating down through the sky. It wasn’t rain, it wasn’t snow, it wasn’t even freezing rain, it was God’s glitter.

Temperatures were so low that any moisture left in the air was freezing. The sun was shining across a fresh blanket of snow and reflecting back into the sky. Those reflections were bouncing off newly formed crystals, giving the illusion of glitter.

It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I stood there staring out my back window mesmerized by the site. It is one of those things I’ll never forget and will watch for next time on a cold day.

And in that moment, I was reminded at the wonders and beauty God gave us. He could have made the world boring, the same thing day after day, but He didn’t. Instead he paints a fresh picture each morning, ever changing the landscape, even if it is just so subtle, and occasionally he throws in a surprise–and makes conditions perfect so it rains glitter.

 

~Crystal

 

 

Now it is your turn!

There are very few rules. You don’t have to follow me on social media or subscribe although I’d love it if you do. Links to where you can find me on social media are off to your right.

If you’re feeling extra generous, tell others where to find this link-up. I’ll make it easy for you if you use twitter!

[Tweet “I linked up at Fulfilled Fridays. Come join me! #linkup #bloggers”]

You don’t even have to link back but it’d be awesome if you did!

Simply share a post, recent or in the past about anything good. Perhaps it is a recipe, craft, a moment in time, something you overcame, something to inspire, or just a journal. Anything goes.

If you don’t have a blog, leave a comment and share below.

Let’s celebrate why our lives are fulfilled!!!!

 

And if you have a few minutes after posting your link, please spread the joy. Take some time and visit some of the other bloggers.

Grab my button:

 

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The Linkup:

The link-up goes live every Friday at 7AM MST and closes the following Thursday at 5 PM MST. By linking up at Fulfilled Fridays you will be added to a weekly link-up reminder email. You can unsubscribe at any time and will not be re-subscribed if you link up in the future.

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The weight yo-yo goes up

Nemo / Pixabay

I have a confession to make.

I am gaining weight again.

Last year food was making me sick. By December 2013 I dropped 45 pounds in a few months. I didn’t exercise or change much about my diet. I simply substituted one ingredient for another until I found the foods that were making me sick.

And as long as I ignored my food issue, I was healthier than I’d been in about 7 years.

Last winter I very few Raynaud’s attacks and circulation problems. My arthritis was at a minimum and I didn’t feel every joint as I rolled over in bed at night or got up in the morning.

Then I figured out exactly what was making me sick.

Slowly I started to enjoy food again. It was no longer the enemy or something that I ate to keep myself from losing too much weight.

As I learned tricks, I found new treats to love.

I discovered healthy snacks like goat cheese, Skinny Pop, and Veggie Straws. I learned how bake with my new restrictions. Slowly chocolate cake, ice cream, and frosting reappeared in new forms. Coconut oil may be healthy for you but when mixed with powdered sugar to make frosting it loses its healthy star.

I had lost my weight in a very unhealthy way. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, in fact at the end I was eating more than when I was pregnant simply to slow the drain. Once I got my diet issues figured out, my body is now readjusting.

So over the last few months my weight has been layering itself back on over my body.

The problem:

My diet is fixed, the weight is back, and so are my other health issues. I have daily circulation problems. My toes are almost always cold. My joints ache. There are times it hurts to roll over in bed. At least once a week I have difficulty sleeping due to arthritis pain. Almost every morning I hurt when I get out of bed.

I cannot do things I could last winter with the girls–when I was physically ill on a daily basis. If I was completely honest, I was never healthy.

I traded one illness for another, ignoring the root cause of my problems.

Over the last month I have come to realize I have a big problem with food. When chocolate was making me sick, I didn’t want it. Now that I have found a way to enjoy chocolate cake, I make it at least once a week. And when I have cake, I don’t have just 1 piece, I will sometimes eat 1/4 of the cake.

I make frosting by melting coconut oil and adding powdered sugar until it is light and fluffy. In moderation and on a single piece of cake it would be fine. Right now I have a bowl of frosting in my fridge. I eat it plain when I have a sweet tooth. Tablespoons of sweetened coconut oil is not low calorie.

And so today I am choosing to be very open about my struggle in a very public way because keeping it inside isn’t working. My internal struggle to battle weight is not working. If I don’t stop this now I will gain my last 10 pounds back and be right back where I was.

Changes are coming:

I don’t like change and it is going to be hard. I must adjust my thinking and process things differently. I must make another diet and lifestyle change. I have to get this weight back off. I need to exercise.

I have never counted calories before and I hate the term “portion control”. I couldn’t tell you how many calories were in the simplest things. I don’t know how to balance a diet while watching what I eat. It feels so regimental. It feels driven by rules.

But I already eat by rules. I have a long list of things I cannot eat. When food is making me feel physically ill it is easy to give it up. It is so much harder to give up something that tastes so good.

I stress eat. Whenever we are having a bad week I make a trip to the grocery store, “because we need to have a lazy weekend and just relax a little.” Those trips are not healthy. They are not teaching my daughters healthy habits. I need to come up with new ways to cope with my stress.

It scares me.

I don’t want to give up the food I just rediscovered. It is a comfort but it is making me sick.

And so as I begin this journey, I wanted to share it with you. It is something that I need to do to get healthy. I cannot keep passing illnesses around inside my body, curing one to cause another.

To put it out there in full disclosure: I was 180 pounds. I dropped down to 135 and am back to 170. I am not obese or fat by most people’s standards. I don’t even think of myself as fat.

The problem is, my weight is still causing me health issues.

At 135, I physically felt good. Those 2 months where I was completely healthy, without food issues or arthritis, were amazing. I could do more than I had in 15 years.

And that is why I need to get this under control. I must take charge of my food and deal with the things that make me gain weight, no matter how difficult they are.

I’m hanging on because this is going to be quite the ride.

~Crystal

Blue Blessings

kikatani / Pixabay

Yesterday I walked an errand. It could have been done today but I thought since the weather was sunny and relatively nice I’d get it done. So I bundled up and headed out the front door in 23 degrees.

The walk was very nice. It was sunny and very warm in my coat. I left the girls at home so I could walk at my pace and not worry about them slipping on the ice.

Oh, the ice, did I mention that we got a total of about 10 inches of snow late last week? And that it was -1 yesterday morning when I got up?

Yeah, the ice isn’t going anywhere.

Thankfully I live in a small town with very few cars on the road. The road is full of dry ruts. I was able to walk most of the way in the middle of the road without having to worry about getting out of the way of cars.

By the time I got onto Main Street, the businesses had done their part and cleared the sidewalks. It was a nice and easy walk.

When I got to the business, I waited my turn, took care of what I needed and zipped up my coat to head home. As I was walking out the door, the woman asked, “Does your family like blueberries?”

Um, yeah.

And she hands me a case of blue blessings.

Not small packages, but a box with 30 lbs of blueberries!

I was surprised. I was thrilled. I was excited to get home and tell the girls about it.

Knowing I had to walk, I said a big thanks and started on my way.

30 pounds is nothing, right?

I was only 1/4 mile away from home. Not too far.

In the ice….oh the ice.

I was not about to turn down the little blue blessing so I set out.

The first half the walk wasn’t too bad. Clear sidewalks and I was working fresh. 30 pounds didn’t seem so heavy and I was in the sun.

Then I hit my neighborhood. The clouds and shade from the trees started to shadow across the road. I stopped to put on my hood. That was a mistake.

My arms felt relief.

Before then, they didn’t know they were working, simply carrying a box home. After my stop, they realized what 30 pounds felt like.

Another 1/8 of a mile and I had to stop for a break. My arms were shaking and my fingers were numb. I didn’t bring gloves because I was planning on doing the walk with my hands in my pockets. I couldn’t feel the box anymore.

I allowed myself 30 seconds to warm up and grabbed the box and started out again. My house was literally 10 houses and around the corner. I was so close.

Then I hit the ice patch…oh the ice.

It was a part that hadn’t thawed at all. 10 inches of packed snow makes for a very slick sheet of ice. Then I had inspiration.

I set the box on the sheet of ice and played a little brown box soccer. I’m sure if my neighbors were looking out the windows they were laughing. Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention. I was too focused on kicking my 30 pound brown rectangular soccer ball down the sheet of ice without falling on my rear end.

It gave my arms a good break too.

4 houses later and my ice patch vanished. I was back on dry pavement again.

I picked up my box and with a final burst of energy I made it home.

It wasn’t until I got inside and my blue blessings put in the chest freezer that I started to feel my arms.

They were shaking. Not from being so cold but from lifting something heavy for too long.

As for my fingers, well, they started to hurt. Apparently my Raynaud’s circulatory disease doesn’t take kindly to walking in 25 degrees carrying a box of frozen food.

A few minutes under warm water and the tips of my fingers no longer looked like the frozen blue blessings that I had carried home.

I am so thankful for the gift. My family will thoroughly enjoy them and I’ll make them last for a few months.

Now what to do with them.

Anybody have some good blueberry recipes?

 

~Crystal

Warm Houses and Fulfilled Fridays 17 Linkup

Hans / Pixabay

 

Winter has arrived where I live.

It seems odd because last week we were in the 50’s. It snowed all day yesterday and we got somewhere between 2 and 3 inches blanketing the ground. I just looked outside, we got another 3-4 overnight.

It is so beautiful. The snow covers everything leaving behind nothing but white.

It is so quiet. People stay indoors so sounds of cars are few and far between. The snow acts as a buffer of sorts, absorbing the sounds of playing children. Even the animals hide and don’t make a peep.

It is so cold.

Every year I cannot help but enjoy the beauty, but my next thought is always of those who do not have a house. I think of those who spent the night huddled under a bridge somewhere, or shivered in a car.

I know the lucky ones were able to cram into a community shelter. Shelters that have more bodies than beds in them tonight. Shelters that do the best they can, but the demand is greater than they are able to provide.

I know that after this snowstorm we’re supposed to drop another 20 degrees. Last night will feel warm compared to this weekend. I feel for the parents who have to tell their children, “I know it is cold, snuggle in a little tighter and it will help,” knowing their is nothing they can do.

So today, on this Fulfilled Friday, I will look out my window and enjoy the beauty that God has surrounded me with while drinking my cup of coffee. I will pray and thank God for my roof and the walls around me. I’m thankful my husband has a job so we can afford to leave the heaters turned a little higher on these cold nights. Oh, I’m thankful, so very thankful for the basic things that surround me.

And I’ll pray for those that don’t have heat, warmth, or even a roof. Things I take for granted, but things that definitely make my life much more fulfilled.

The big talk in my region has been the weather. What is the weather like where you live?

If you’re a blogger, link up. If not, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

~Crystal

 

Now it is your turn!

There are very few rules. You don’t have to follow me on social media or subscribe although I’d love it if you do. Links to where you can find me on social media are off to your right.

If you’re feeling extra generous, tell others where to find this link-up. I’ll make it easy for you if you use twitter!

[Tweet “I linked up at Fulfilled Fridays. Come join me! #linkup #bloggers”]

You don’t even have to link back but it’d be awesome if you did!

Simply share a post, recent or in the past about anything good. Perhaps it is a recipe, craft, a moment in time, something you overcame, something to inspire, or just a journal. Anything goes.

If you don’t have a blog, leave a comment and share below.

Let’s celebrate why our lives are fulfilled!!!!

 

And if you have a few minutes after posting your link, please spread the joy. Take some time and visit some of the other bloggers.

Grab my button:

 

 

Living In Green Grass
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.livingingreengrass.com" title="Living In Green Grass"><img src="http://www.livingingreengrass.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Fulfilled-Fridays-Button.jpg" alt="Living In Green Grass" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

 

The Linkup:

The link-up goes live every Friday at 7AM MST and closes the following Thursday at 5 PM MST. By linking up at Fulfilled Fridays you will be added to a weekly link-up reminder email. You can unsubscribe at any time and will not be re-subscribed if you link up in the future.
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