Summer Beautification Program: Week 5

Happy Monday, beautiful friends!

  For the beginning of the Summer Beautification Program, I tried to make the focus on the energy we generate from within. 

SBP Week 1: We wrote letters to dear friends to bring positivity to others from our own hearts. 

SBP Week 2: We scheduled a date with ourselves to honor the need for self-care. 

SBP Week 3: We began journaling about precious moments in our days so we can appreciate living in the present, not jumping ahead to the next big thing in the week. 

SBP Week 4: Last week, we wrote positive affirmations on the mirrors that we look into and have been practicing self acceptance and love, recognizing our brilliant spirit and believing that we are loved, worthy, and more than enough.

  For the next few weeks, our journey is going to take us looking outward. We are going to begin noticing the energy surrounding us and how it is affecting the way we treat ourselves and those around us.  

  I want to start at one of the most basic and also most important things that we are exposing ourselves to every day: Food. We all need it to live and many of us live to eat it. In spite of my food issues last year, I have always loved food. I like nothing more than going to a restaurant I’ve never been to before and discovering exciting new combinations of food.

  I also love pizza and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. They are two of my favorite things in life and I am convinced I could eat them for at least one meal every day for the rest of my life. The problem is, pizza and chocolate chip cookies don’t love me. While a crunchy crust and a pie covered in generous toppings and melted cheese sends my heart aflutter, and gooey buttery chocolate chip cookies are like a drug to me, I feel bloated and overly full after eating them. I have to remind myself, I am worthy of feeling better about my food choices.

  I think about how I feel after eating a beautiful salad loaded with my favorite veggies, a handful of walnuts or sunflower seeds, and a flavorful vinaigrette dressing. My mouth actually waters just thinking about it. So why is that not just as appealing as a freshly baked pizza to me? Well, let’s think about the mere convenience factor. A pizza involves me picking up the phone and dialing a number and waiting. A salad requires going to the store, picking out the produce I need, waiting in line to buy the groceries, taking it home, washing it, chopping it up and then eating it…So. Much. Work. 

  But, what if we look at it differently. We have to change our way of thinking from, “Well, I worked out today so I deserve four pieces of pizza,” to, “I love my body so much I am going to give it what it needs to be happy.

  “I am going to the store to support my local community. I am buying produce which helps the farmers who grow the food. I am exercising patience by waiting in a line to buy the food. I am going home to wash and prepare the food which I am doing with love and gratitude recognizing that I have food to eat when there so many others in this world who are less privileged. I am loving my body enough to fill it up with healthy nutrients and I am feeding myself that love and positivity that I created in the whole process.”

  I know this may seem a bit extreme, but that is honestly what we are doing when we take the time to feed our bodies with healthy, home cooked food. And while it may seem unlikely that this is the exchange of energy you are creating in your body, I can actually prove that this is completely real:



“Our energy is generated by the food we choose to eat. We want to create the best possible energy so we should choose wisely. Fresh, organic plants, meat and grains will make you feel clean and healthy, whereas eating ready meals full of dead, processed and chemically enhanced food is going to leave you feeling toxic and lacking in essential nutrients. For your mood and body to vibrate at a higher 

Strawberries are in season here in Michigan. the kids and I went and picked these at Spicer’s Orchard last week.

energy frequency, choose fresh food according to the season; fruits, lighter greens and fish in summer and heartier root vegetables and warming stews in winter.

  Our entire universe is made of energy and so is everything in it. You and I are all just blobs of energy—Really! We’re massive clusters of atoms moving at various speeds and vibrations. In order to be functioning on a higher level, we need to respect ourselves enough to honor a higher vibrational frequency. We do that best by loving ourselves and loving those around us. It starts with our thoughts, then is affirmed by the words we say, and then shown by what we practice in our actions. 

  So we will start at the most basic level, feeding ourselves love in the form of food. This week, give yourself the food that you are worthy of. Now, I’m not saying never eat a cookie again, but I am saying, let that only be a small treat once in a while. Your body will thank you for feeding it the food that it’s worthy of more of the time. 

  Here is a fun way to get your healthy eating started:

  1. For at least one meal this week, give yourself enough time to prepare a somethingworthy of you. Choose things that are healthy and will feed your body with goodness and nutrients for a person who loves themself enough to take care of their body. Farmer’s Markets are an amazing way to get some deliciousness into your life while supporting small businesses.
  2. Sit down and enjoy your food. Close your eyes and taste the flavors of what you’re eating. Observe the juiciness of that apple. Pair the apple with a chunk of gouda cheese, or wrap a slice of cantaloupe in prosciutto. Don’t be afraid of new food combinations! Play with your food. 

  Here is another activity to get you started with foods you maybe don’t typically

This was amazing! Well worth the time it took to make it.

incorporate into your diet. Find your first and last initials on the list below and make a salad or charcuterie board using those two ingredients:

A: Apples or artichoke hearts

B: Blackberries or Bulgarian feta cheese

C: Cantaloupe or Cucumbers

D: Dried cherries or dates

E: Eggs 

F: Figs

G: Grapefruit or gorgonzola cheese

H: Heirloom Tomatoes

I: Italian Parsley

J: Jicama

K: Kale

L: Lemon or lime (the juice is great to use in dressings!)

M: Mango or Melon

N: Nectarines

O: Olives or oranges

P: Pine-nuts or pears

Q: Quinoa

R: Radishes or raspberries

S: Strawberries

T: Tomatillo

U: Ugli fruit

V: aVocado

W: Walnuts

X: Xigua (good luck!)

Y: Yellow Pepper

Z: Zucchini

  Above all else, have fun! Savor your creation. Maybe you can even take notes on how it tastes or how it makes you feel eating something good for you and taking time to enjoy it. Please don’t forget to snap a picture of your healthy eats and use the hashtag: #SummerBeautificationProgram. 

Sweet Sea and Life’s Ocean of Emotions

 “Mom has only cried twice before,” Grace told the boys in the car the other day. 

  “Mom has cried more than that!” Noah said.

  “I cry sometimes, Gracie,” I told her looking at her through the rearview mirror.

  “Well, not as much as I have,” Grace muttered. 

  I smiled. “Well, I didn’t just fall off my bike yesterday. I’m sure I would have cried too.” She seemed satisfied with that answer. But as we drove on, it got me thinking.

 It’s interesting how my generation had far less access to technology and yet, in spite of our more frequent interpersonal communications back in the day (passing notes in class was our version of texting), we were much more stigmatized about opening up and sharing our feelings. I remember back in high school, if you cried or flipped out, you were accused of being dramatic or being a “spaz” or “psycho.” Those last two insults have always pushed my buttons. 

  I was talking to my kids about this today. I enjoy having these conversations with them because it fascinates me to see how they are perceiving the world now versus how we did twenty years ago. Talking about feelings is so commonplace to them now and I actually love that. It wasn’t that way when I was a kid.

  For example, if my parents wanted me to clean my room, I was just expected to do it. There was never an explanation. The answer to “Why?” would have been, “Because I said so.” We really didn’t have conversations about our feelings or things that bothered us. We laughed off a lot of the things that made us upset (you didn’t want to “spaz” out about it). 

  I recently told one of my favorite childhood stories of my doll Sweet Sea to a few of my friends. And while I grew up believing this story was wildly hilarious, and my friends also found it funny, they were also slightly horrified by it. So I would love to share it here. It’s one of my favorites meant to equally horrify and entertain you. 

  When I was four, I had a beloved mermaid doll that I received for Christmas one year. She had 80s mermaid hair of wild blonde curls and a cherub-like face. Since she was a mermaid, obviously she needed to go in the bathtub with me. The problem was, when Sweet Sea took her first dip, her synthetic hairstyle was ruined. It no longer looked like the mermaid in the commercials (when I told my kids this story, I had to explain what a commercial was). After my bath, I asked my mom to fix Sweet Sea’s hair. The ponytail she twisted it into was unsatisfactory. So was the next style, and the one after that. Try as she might, she couldn’t get the hairstyle the way it had been. She was getting frustrated. Her lips were getting thinner holding in her fury, as was her patience. My dad heard my mom’s voice raising which rarely happened. So he came into my room and grabbed the doll from my mother’s sweating fingers. Looking at my dad’s vice grip hands, even in my four-year-old mind, I knew where this was going. My dad made the worst attempt yet at styling fair Sweet Sea’s mane. 

   I must have screeched, “No! You’re ruining her!” Or something to that effect, because the next thing I knew, Dad was wrenching Sweet Sea’s entire head from her little defenseless mermaid body, wound up for his hardest fast pitch, and pelted Sweet Sea’s head at my bedroom wall. Then he picked up her head and jammed it back onto her body rendering Sweet Sea neck-less for the rest of her plastic life. I wailed and Dad suppressed fits of laughter handing me back my doll and cackling, “Here’s your precious Sweet Sea.”

  Now you have to admit, if you have children, you know you have been pushed to the point of similar insanity whether over Legos or drawing a picture that “was supposed to have a green cat, not blue.” I’m sure that my dad must have been experiencing something similar in that moment. Maybe you’ve even acted on it—No judgement here people! But you likely were so wracked by guilt (as parents of our generation often are), you later had a conversation with your child and somehow expressed an apology to them, whether in the form of a cookie or actual spoken word, you would have attempted to make things right. 

  My dad took a different approach. He usually did on most things. That infamous story simply became one for the history book in our family. I’ve heard it many times growing up and I did eventually learn to laugh about it, because A. It is hilarious and B. I saw how silly I was being about my toy’s hair. But I still remember the incident. I never got an apology. Such a thing wouldn’t have entered my dad’s mind because he was fully justified in his reaction to my “ridiculousness.”

  People from my parents’ generation may attest to the idea that people are too sensitive now; no one has a sense of humor about themselves. And I do agree with that on some level, we need to lighten up and learn to laugh at ourselves and our hang ups, but I also love how honest people are becoming with their life journeys. Everyone is talking about their feelings and I think that’s a beautiful thing! It’s refreshing to pick up a book and see someone laying out their vulnerabilities bare for all the world to see. I am loving writers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle, Rachel Hollis, and Jen Hatmaker who do it with humor woven into their very personal stories. 

  We have to laugh. We have to stop and look at life sometimes and ask, “How in the hell did I end up here?” When I do, I find myself either laughing or crying, or sometimes both depending on the day. But I know I am learning from everything I’m going through. And oddly enough, I don’t feel as angry anymore. I am making my peace and accepting where I am, where life has brought me to. I am accepting who I am becoming, broken bits and all and in spite of what anyone thinks of me, or what I used to think of myself, I like myself much better being real about who I am. 

Sweet Sea in better times. She was so beautiful…How did everything end so wrong?



Summer Beautification Program: Assignment 4

  About this time last year, I was battling depression and anxiety in a big way. I wasn’t motivated to do anything. I wanted to sleep all day. I had no patience with my kids. I remember buying a potted plant for our porch and laughing at it cynically as I watched it droop and eventually shrivel up and die because I didn’t even want to take care of that. I did everything without joy in my heart. I would then think how ugly and awful I was because I didn’t care about anything anymore. I’d put on about twenty pounds and even though I was working out, I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. My sister was so thin and I asked her what she had been doing to keep her weight down. She said she was doing a portion control diet. She lent me her brightly colored containers and showed me how the process worked. 

  I followed the steps and in about a week, I noticed the weight was coming off rapidly. By the end of the first month, I’d lost ten pounds. By the end of the second month, I was down fifteen. And the more weight I lost, the more determined I became to lose more. I no longer used the containers. I just ate very little. Without realizing it, I had become a train-wreck waiting to happen. I wasn’t anorexic, but I was close. I was eating one large meal a day and snacking in between, basically to keep from passing out. Remember DJ Tanner in Full House when she was eating a carrot stick and then torturing herself on the treadmill to get thin? I was a thirty-six-year-old version of that. I was working out every night at the gym and then running at home after each grueling workout. On the weekends, I was going out and drinking to try to feel something other than empty and hollow.

  I had lost sight of who I was. No one knew how bad it had gotten. I didn’t open up to anyone about this part of me. I was always angry, tired, and lonely. I thought I was in control of my life because I’d finally gotten control of my weight. But I was doing it in an unhealthy way. 

   When I finally realized the path of self-destruction I was on, I woke up terrified and humbled by how far I’d fallen. I had to face many hard truths. The control I’d been seeking was not healthy. I surrendered to the simple fact that I wasn’t going to make it much longer looking for meaning in my life through outside validation. Because the truth is, self-worth doesn’t come from others’ opinions of us, it comes from within. 

  Please listen to me. If you never read another blog post that I share again, I want to make this so clear to you: YOU ARE AN ABUNDANTLY BLESSED AND BEAUTIFUL SOUL. Your beauty doesn’t come from a number on a scale, the flawlessness of your complexion, or how trendy your clothes are. It doesn’t come from how many people love you. You are so much more than what anyone sees on the outside. Your beauty is in your unique and divine energy, your life force. You were created by divinity and whether or not you are religious or even spiritual, I’m telling you, you are living and breathing in this world with a divine purpose that was born in you. It’s something that no other human being can give to you or take away from you; it’s yours alone. 

  Now, that being said, treat your body the way you’d treat something sacred and beautiful because YOU ARE! From the tip of your big toenail to the topmost hair on your head, you are WORTHY.  You are ENOUGH. No matter what you’ve done, or how far off the path you’ve gotten, start treating yourself with kindness, tell yourself every day. I actually took a dry erase marker and wrote it on our bathroom mirrors so that we are all seeing that message every time we look in the mirror.

  And now you probably know where I am going with this. For Assignment 4 of our Summer Beautification Program, take a dry erase marker to your bathroom mirror and write, “I am loved. I am worthy. I am enough.” 

  Read it aloud to yourself every morning. I don’t care if you have hellacious morning breath, puffy sleep eyes, and wild bed-head. You are loved. You are worthy. You are enough. 

This is me after a rigorous morning  sweating and pulling weeds and I haven’t even done a tick-check yet. Flawed and still worthy.