Monday, January 31, 2011

Rut or Routine

I love routine.  In fact, I often feel quite lost without a routine to follow.  The months of December and January completely threw me off my routine and I'm determined to get back on schedule.  I need to know which days I'm supposed to wash clothes, go to my yoga classes, do grocery shopping, pay bills, do volunteer work, etc.  I make sure to schedule morning and evening time:  time to journal, time for showering, time to study, time for recreational reading.  I'm just big on routine.  However, I hate getting into a rut.  Of course, the difference between rut and routine can be a fine line.  I like the structure of a schedule but it can get boring; I like to mix things up but then it throws off equilibrium. 

There are a number of ways to work new experiences into your schedule.   I think having a monthly date night, a weekly movie, a cultural excursion, or a quarterly weekend getaway is a good way to get out of a rut without completely disrupting a schedule or breaking the bank. The author Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist's Way, recommends having artistic dates.  Even trying an out-of-town yoga studio or attending a community lecture at a nearby college or university can add some spark to your life.

This month I'm going to get back on my schedule, but also try to work little changes and treats into it as well.  Please share any rut-busting ideas you might have.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quote for the Day

"It’s better to stay silent and look a fool, rather than speak and remove all doubt.”

~Mark Twain

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Month in Review

This morning I was reflecting on the goals that I set for this quarter and decided a blog entry was in order.  As I put my goals "out there," I realized needed to be accountable.

Tomorrow is my final day of the 21-Day Vegan Challenge.  That has gone very well and I will probably continue to eat vegan about 80% of the time.  There were only a few times that I didn't have pure vegan meals and those times were when I was eating at a restaurant.  One time I ordered ranch dressing on a salad because the sweet onion dressing didn't seem appropriate as I was in close proximity to others that day.  Another time I ordered a vegetable sandwich, knowing it came with mayonnaise, which I felt was a necessary compromise at the time.  However, I didn't realize the sandwich came with cheese melted on it as well.  Yet another violation of my vegan challenge occurred when the sandwich I ordered had cheese mixed in with the hummus.  When I accepted this personal challenge, I knew there would be a few times I would have to compromise and I was pleasantly surprised that these exceptions were few and far between.  So, the challenge has been an overwhelming success.

Not so good with the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels.  I started out with good intentions but due to travel, school, and schedule disruptions, the plan rapidly fell apart.  Two other factors influenced my decision to abandon this plan - the cold and the DVD itself.  I am a summer person; it's just the way I'm wired.  So, I have very little motivation during the cold, dark winter months.  I also didn't find level 1 of the program as challenging as it could have been, for me anyway.  Of course, there was nothing stopping me from progressing to level 2.  So, this goal was a fail.  However, on the brighter side, I did manage to make it to yoga class several times this month, plus I'm going to move this goal to February so I can still accomplish this as a quarterly goal.

My Bible-in-a-Year program is progressing nicely.  I don't always read on a daily basis but when I miss a day or two, I always find time to catch up.  It has been very interesting reading as I have been reading it more as a narrative rather than as a religious text.  All of the adultery, incest, cheating, lying, and murder in the Old Testament has been quite the eye opener.

In reviewing the past month, I have to call it a successful one.  I didn't achieve all that I had hoped but I had several successes.  I'm looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in February.  How did your January go?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blogging Anniversary

Today is the two year anniversary of my blog!  Now I don't have any fancy contest or giveaways to commemorate the event (although I wish I did!), I just wanted to make a note of it and to thank all my regular readers for the comments and encouragement over the last couple of years.  I sometimes think my blog is unfocused and in search of a specific topic, but then I remind myself that it's about my life and my multiple interests and it will probably remain that way.

Again, thanks to all my loyal followers!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I rarely buy bananas, although I do enjoy them and they are a good value food.  Last week I bought a small bunch to have with my breakfast.  My daughter, who just returned from a study abroad program in Costa Rica, started telling me about her visit to a banana plantation.  Turns out, banana plantations can only operate for seven years.  When the seven years are up, operations move to a new location.  The reason:  the banana plantation completely depletes the soil.  Further, the soil is so ruined that nothing else will grow there.  So, the company moves on to another piece of cleared rainforest.  Huh?!  Guess I won't be buying bananas anymore.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quote for the Day

“Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward”.

~George Carlin

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Become a Minimalist

Although I strive to live a more minimalist lifestyle and to reduce my carbon footprint, I do have a sense of humor. I discovered this on The Everyday Minimalist (

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I've just returned from an out of town 2-day grant writing workshop.  I'm excited about all I learned and the resources provided as I plan to use them to help a variety of charitable organizations that I'm involved with.

Today is the 11th day of my 21-day vegan challenge.  So far, it has gone smoothly and I don't feel as if I'm making a sacrifice.  The main thing I had to give up was cheese.  I eat eggs as well but since our chickens have not been producing many eggs this winter, I had pretty much already eliminated them from my diet.  I've been able to maintain pure veganism except for a couple of occasions.  Yesterday I ate a veggie delite sandwich at Subway.  I didn't feel like mustard and didn't want the onion dressing since I was in the middle of my workshop and was interacting with a lot of people.  So instead, I chose the ranch dressing.  Today I had lunch at Panera Bread and realized my mediterranian vegetable sandwich had cheese in it.  Otherwise I've been completely vegan.  While out of town, I stayed with a friend and she so kindly prepared vegan food for our dinner, even though I told her it was not necessary.  What a sweet friend!

My "use it up" plan is moving along well, too.  I went to the grocery store today and stocked up on fresh vegetables and almond milk.  I did slip up a bit when I was at Target earlier today and purchased a couple of bags of "healthy junk food."  I think this little slip up was due to having just returned from out of town and not really thinking about my plans.  

The updates will continue...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. 

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quote for the Day

Whenever people say “We mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add “We must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.

~Brigid Brophy

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Use It Up

For years now I've been on a quest to both simplify and organize my life.  And I'm always looking for new ways to do it.  Just after Thanksgiving this past year, I realized I had accumulated a stash of various napkins from previous holidays and celebrations.  As these napkins take up space in my house, I decided that I was going to use them up rather than keep them in storage where they end up forgotten and new ones purchased for other occasions.  

As I pulled out the napkins to put them in a place where they would be used up, I realized I need to apply the same concept to other areas of my life.  Toiletries and cosmetics, for example.  Years ago I saved travel-sized items for future trips as these sizes were hard to come by.  However, now these products are readily available at drugstores and discount stores.  I also realized I accumulate food items.  Often I discover a recipe, realize I need a new ingredient, purchase that ingredient, and then either lose the recipe or run out of time to make the dish.  I also have stocked up on pantry staples, such as dried beans and rice, that end up being pushed aside in favor of a more convenient alternative. 

So I've begun a "use it up" plan.  I'm going to start using up the odds and ends around my house. My goal is to not purchase an item if I have a suitable product or substitute on hand.  Thus, when my shampoo bottle is empty, I'll start using the "hotel" shampoos.  If we run out of bread, I'll use my bread machine and the ingredients I have on hand to make my own.  Looking in my cupboards, pantry, and freezer, I think that I won't need to do much grocery shopping for the foreseeable future.  Of course, I will make exceptions for the following:  fresh salad ingredients (but not dressing as I have the ingredients to make my own); coffee; milk (for my husband's coffee); tea; and items that my adult children eat when they are home from college.  

This project will help me in a variety of ways.  I will simplify and organize my house as I'll have fewer things to store and care for.  I will also simplify my time as I won't need to dash to the grocery store when I run out of something.  A side benefit of this is that I'll be saving money since I won't be shopping as often.  Once I feel I've depleted everything, I'll then take stock of what we really need and use, and will only buy one backup item for those items in use.  I already do this for a lot of products and I'll extend it to other areas as well.  I'm looking forward to having a little more "room to breathe."

Now the problem is books.  I own a lot of books I haven't read yet.  Does this mean I have to read all the books in my house before I can buy more?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Forks Over Knives - Movie Trailer (New)

Take two minutes to watch this trailer - it may save your life.

Living the Vegan Life

As I blogged on Monday, I'm doing a challenge to eat vegan for 21 days.  As a long-time vegetarian who loves eggs, cheese, and yogurt, I wasn't sure how I would handle this transition.  However, so far it hasn't been very difficult.  The main things I need to make sure to avoid are mayonnaise and butter.  

Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet is best for our health.  By avoiding animal products, we're not as likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and other chronic illnesses.  In fact, the American Dietetic Association recently reported that vegan and vegetarian diets are healthy for all stages of life and are beneficial to our health.  

Yesterday I was listening to some oldies but goodies on my ipod and Barry White started playing.  I knew he had died several years ago but wasn't certain of the cause so I did some research.  Unfortunately, Mr. White died from kidney failure and his death was a direct result of his life-long obesity.  It occurred to me that people in the industrialized world, and especially in the United States, are killing themselves with their wealth.  That's right, with wealth.  Because we can afford to buy and eat expensive food items such as meats and dairy on a daily basis, we do. The problem is just because we're able to do something doesn't mean we should.  Rather, those who do indulge in foods derived from animals should consider such items as treats or condiments.  

One study that revealed the problem with the western diet was published as The China Study.  I discovered that a new movie, based on the book, will be released later this year.  Forks Over Knives, which has already had a limited run in Portland, Oregon, reveals the link between degenerative diseases and consuming an animal-based diet.  I'm hoping that it shows in a theater near me.  

As I continue my vegan challenge, I find myself consuming more fruits and vegetables than I normally do.  I'm making soups and stir fries and having more fruit for breakfast.  I find that rather than suffering I'm actually eating better than usual.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Quarter Goals

A few years ago I abandoned the concept of "New Year's Resolutions" and chose instead to set quarterly goals for myself.  I prefer this way of making positive changes in my life as there is much less pressure and I'm more likely to achieve smaller goals that I set and then break down into doable steps.  Here are the goals I've set for the first quarter of 2011:

1) Go vegan for 21 days (I was inspired by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 21-Day Vegan Kickstart).  I'm not going to be a purist as it is very difficult to eat vegan in restaurants in my community.  In fact, sometimes it's nearly impossible to be a vegetarian here as restaurants tend to think every dish needs some type of meat to make it complete.  However, when I'm at home, as I am most of the time, I'll eat a purely vegan diet and will make every attempt to do the same in restaurant,s although it may not always be possible.

2) Do Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD three times a week for 30 days.  I already do yoga 3 days a week so this will give me a nice balance of aerobic exercise and stretching.

3) Take a class at a nearby women's resource center in February.  The center has some wonderful classes.  I took a networking class there last year (free!) and am looking forward to another of their classes.

4) Begin reading the Bible using a "Bible-in-a-year" book.  I have read through the New Testament in a similar manner and now want to attempt the entire Bible.

These are all simple, achievable goals that I will feel good about completing.


Yesterday I returned from my trip to Haiti.  It feels as if I haven't experienced the New Year as I left home on January 1.  Getting to Haiti is always complicated but it was more so this trip.  Our daughter left for a study abroad program and for convenience sake we decided to begin our trip on the same day, out of the same airport.  That particular airport is about 4 1/2 hours from home and we all had 7 a.m. flights so that meant leaving a day early and getting a hotel room near the airport.  When we go to Haiti we fly into the Dominican Republic as the town we visit, Ouanaminthe, is a border town.  Since we were going to be in the D.R. and since we haven't had a vacation in over six years, we spent a couple of days at a resort before journeying to Haiti.  After a little R and R, we crossed the border, about 3 hours away, and spent 2 1/2 days visiting friends at the two orphanages we work with.  We were able to see old friends, meet new friends, visit with one of the children we sponsor, and even got to see one of the local girls who captured my heart on our last visit.  Returning home meant another day at the resort, then flying back to the States with a plane change in Miami.  It was a very productive and rewarding trip and over the next few weeks I plan to share a bit more.  In the meantime, I'll share a photo of Widlene (on the left), the village girl whom I've befriended thanks to Brittany, a missionary at Danita's Children, and Widlene's sister Magdalene.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Quote for the Day

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.

~A. A. Milne