Friday, November 10, 2017

A Message from Debbie

Hello, dear readers!  Just letting you know that I will be away from the computer for the next week spending some time with my family.  Have a blessed week and I will look forward to being with you all soon!

Until Next Time,

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Facing Reality With Exercise

Coming To Terms

*I am not a member of the medical field or a fitness trainer. My writing, opinions and exercise routines are my own and are not to be construed as advice for others.
Don' t I Look Athletic?!
Today, I'm talking about my life-long battle with trying to exercise. If you are a die-hard exerciser who runs, goes to the gym regularly or can't understand why I would be writing a post about my exercise difficulties, then you may want to move on to another blog today. I'm not being rude. It's just that I've kinda had it with trying to live up to the world's fitness expectations and today I'm going to tell my side of the story. So here goes...

Hiking Down To The River
My love-hate relationship with exercise began in gym class in elementary school. To be honest, prior to elementary school, I loved playing outside and had no problem running around having fun, playing badminton and volleyball with my sisters and using my imagination with outdoor play. But, then came gym class, and my whole image of what exercise meant changed. Suddenly, I discovered that I wasn't "good" at gym. I couldn't run fast enough, jump the hurdles (they scared me to death as I knew I would trip over them and fall) or climb the ropes. I hated tumbling and was scared to put my head down and roll forward on the mat. I figured I might break my neck if I didn't make it all the way over. I was one of those "last choice" kids picked for team sports and was even called a "scaredy cat" by a gym teacher once because I wouldn't straddle the monkey bars and swing myself around like a propeller. (I ask you?!) All of these experiences only served to reinforce the idea I formed in my mind that I wasn't athletic. Gym day at school began to be my least favorite day and I could actually make myself sick worrying about what I would have to do that day in class. My poor mother and oldest sister tried to help me at home by running in the yard with me and even holding broomsticks up in our hallway for me to jump over. Sometimes, I got my courage together and jumped and other times I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And I always came away from these experiences feeling like a failure with exercise.

Walking Around Bear Lake
Somehow, I made it through my public school years of gym classes, graduated from High School and moved on to college. Great, I thought. No more gym classes to deal with now! Au contraire! I arrived at college in the late seventies, just when running as a sport was getting popular. All Freshman had to complete a running course for a gym credit and we were informed by the coach that our "goal" was to run a four minute mile by the end of the course. What?! I had never been a runner, didn't even own a decent pair of running shoes and now I was supposed to be able to run a four minute mile by the end of the semester? What planet did this professor/coach come from anyway? But, being the dutiful, perfectionist student that I have always been I actually bought into this crap and diligently tried to run. We had to keep track of our minutes spent running and turn them in as part of our grade. Well, long story short, I ended up with a really bad shin splint from doing all this running in the wrong kind of shoes. I'll never forget going to the school's health center and explaining to the nurse how my injury felt. She gave me a bit of wisdom that I have never forgotten when she said, "Not everybody is cut out for this type of exercise." think?! But, at the time I was too young and naive to really internalize this truth. So, I just assumed, once again, that I was a big failure when it came to exercise. And, no, Debbie didn't run the four minute mile by the end of the course!

A Short Walk At The Golf Course
You might think that after graduating from college I could put all of this angst about exercise aside. After all, I was an adult now and could pretty much make my own exercise choices, right? Well....yes and no. You see, I fell in love with a guy who was (and is) handsome and loving and a hard worker and......a runner and hiker extraordinaire! The first date we went on, he spent most of the evening talking about his plans to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He waxed poetic about trail info and maps and shelters he would stay in. I wondered if he realized the AT was, ummm, 2,200 miles long and would take him five months to hike? (Which he did understand since he did hike the entire trail from March-August of 1980!) Well, if I was gonna marry this guy I probably needed to be able to hike, right? I tried to like these loooong hikes, I really did, but I would get so tired! If I had a dollar for every time I heard, "our destination is just around the next corner" I would be a very rich woman, indeed! But, I valiantly tried to keep up with him and even joined the local hiking club with him when we first moved to Asheville. And there, just like in gym class in school, I always brought up the rear. I can remember the hiking club "sweep" always hanging back making sure that I was still with the group. To my husband's credit, he tried to match my pace, but it soon became apparent that the hiking club was not for me. 

Sitting And Taking In The Scenery
And so the years passed and I kept trying to find my exercise "niche." Jazzercise was really popular in the 90's and lots of my friends were taking the classes so I decided to give that a try. And I did like the dance part. But, it was always followed up by floor exercises. The whole thing last about an hour and a half and I was so exhausted by the time I got home that I ended up spending the rest of the evening on the sofa recuperating. Same with yoga class, which was supposed to relax and rejuvenate me. I kept hearing about how people would feel so "energized" after exercising. But, for me, these classes just wore me out. And, I was already exhausted after a day of teaching!

Thumbs Up For Short Hikes!
So, now I'm retired. And I figured that, finally, with all the job stress behind me, I would finally be able to find my exercise groove. Surely, each day of retirement would find me spending time in some type of fulfilling exercise adventure. Gym classes are all behind me now. I can do this. I am athletic. Now it's Debbie time, right? Well...... sort of. 

I'm gritting my teeth but happy after a 20 minute hike!

I keep reading about what exercise should consist of as you get older. How important it is to get 150 minutes of exercise per week. How strength training is important and how improved flexibility for older folks can keep them from falls. So, I tried to write my minutes of walking down and keep track of them on my calendar. But, I kept falling short of the 150 each week. So, you know, there goes that failure piece again! And I developed my own little calisthenics routine that I like to do. You know, 10 leg lifts, marching in place, gentle stretches that I can adapt as needed. And, I really liked doing that. But, it only consisted of about 5-10 minutes of exercise, so that's probably not doing anything for me, right? Cause, you know, if you exercise it needs to be for at least 30 minutes right? And you need to sweat! And when you're done your abs should be rock hard and your butt should look like you're 20 years old again, right?! Aarrgh! So, in a last ditch effort to prove to myself that I am athletic and can be an exercise guru, I decided to give yoga one more try. We have several places in town that teach yoga and the one I chose offers donation only classes, plus they offer lots of classes for beginners. I mean, I couldn't go wrong with a Beginning Yoga class, right?  Sigh...

Early Morning at Bear Lake RMNP
You know how lots of people swear that yoga helps them with their back aches? Well....I may be the only person around who gets a back ache from doing a beginners class....yeah, my back hurts. It's that failure thing again. And I think I'm done with yoga class. 

With My Love at Alluvial Falls RMNP
So, I'm coming to terms. It's time to face the facts. And, I'm finding it's not such a terrible thing to admit at all. You see, I'm not athletic. And that's OK. Who cares? My husband still loves me and I still love him. (Even though he still thinks that hikes shouldn't be less than two hours!) But, we have adjusted over the years. He goes on long hikes by himself and we go on walks together. Or shorter hikes. Mostly level. That's the way I like them. My husband calls them,"Debbie approved hikes." Our friends have even started using that phrase! I've also discovered some things about exercise since I retired that work for me. For instance, I like 20 minute walks. I really do feel energized after a 20 minute walk in a way that I wouldn't feel if it turned into an hour long walk. And I really do like my little exercise routine that I do that takes me 5-10 minutes. And I guess I'll just have to live without rock hard abs and a butt that looks like I'm 20. I'm willing to sacrifice that! 

In all seriousness, though, I'm just tired of trying to be something that I'm really not. I think back often to what that college nurse said, "Not everyone is cut out for this type of exercise." I believe she was absolutely correct. I think back to my pre-elementary school days when I took great joy in just being outside, using my imagination and enjoying play. Somehow all of that got ruined and forgotten when I was "socialized" at school into society's idea of what doing exercise meant. I enjoy being in the great outdoors just sitting and watching nature, going for shorter walks and hikes, walking around lakes and doing gentle movement and stretches in short time amounts. And you know what? That's OK. It's OK that I'm not athletic. It's OK that I prefer reading over running, writing over sports and blogging over yoga. I've decided that being a fit fifty-something involves fitness in more ways than just physical. And for that realization, I am very grateful. Better late than never, right? And, you want to be on my team? 

Until Next Time,

Linking With:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Fall Themed Centerpiece

Fall Comes To The Dining Table

I decided to do a little re-arranging of my Fall decor and created this Fall centerpiece for our dining table. 

I had bought two of these chargers at A.C. Moore, thinking I would use them with our dinner plates. After looking at my plates on them, I decided I didn't like the look and went with using a charger for the centerpiece instead. Nothing like "Plan B," right?! I also decided the arrangement needed some height, so I added the gold ball bush sticks in behind the arrangement. The green candle in the midst of the pumpkins was the finishing touch. 

This isn't part of the centerpiece, but I found these cute dessert paper plates at Target and thought they would work well for a Fall dessert. Aren't they pretty?

I'm enjoying Fall decor as much as possible because I know that, very soon, I will be starting to put out Christmas decor. It's such a beautiful time of year, don't you think? 

Until Next Time,

Monday, November 6, 2017

Styling A Favorite Sweatshirt

An Oldie But A Goodie

We all have those favorite pieces in our closets that we return to time and again. These favorites bring the "aahhh" factor when we put them on. They are so comfortable and just easy to wear. Such is the sweatshirt I'm going to share with you today. But, first, let's begin with what I wore underneath. This v-neck blouse was a thrift find I discovered over the summer. Purple is "my" color and I love the ties on the three quarter length sleeves. The ties give this blouse that "something extra" that caused me to give the blouse a second glance at the thrift store. 

As it was a cooler day, I wore my all-time favorite purple sweatshirt over the blouse. This was the first time I had paired this sweatshirt with this particular blouse. I usually wear a t-shirt or turtleneck underneath. It was a great combo that allowed me to pull off the sweatshirt when it got too warm and still have a dressier piece underneath. 

I have had this sweatshirt a very long time and love the embroidered flower design on the shirt. What goes around comes around, right? Embroidered clothing is back in style again so I'm glad this shirt wasn't put in my giveaway piles over the years.  Since I cut out the tags long ago I can't be 100% certain, but I believe it was one of the first Jaclyn Smith pieces that K-Mart sold and when I bought it, it came with a pair of purple stirrup pants which I no longer own. Remember stirrup pants? They are actually coming back into style. I saw some stirrup leggings recently in the "No Nonsense" brand. I always loved stirrups because they tucked into boots so neatly and your pants didn't "blouse" at the knees. So, I may be buying some stirrups to see if they still feel comfortable like they did years ago.  

I realize I don't have links to share with you as this outfit is both thrifted and something that I've owned for years. I do have some new pieces I'll be sharing with you soon. But, for now, go look in your own closet and see what "oldies but goodies" you have that make you say "aahhh" when you wear them. Have fun shopping your closet!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Saturday Scriptures: The Prayer That Never Fails

Thy Will Be Done

Most of you know that one of my favorite authors is Jan Karon, who writes the Mitford Series books. I recently was blessed to be able to meet Jan Karon in person. In her books, the main character, Father Tim, often will pray what he calls the "prayer that never fails." After pondering on that prayer through several books, I realized that this prayer must be, "Thy will be done."  It is a simple set of words that carries huge power. As humans, it is often difficult to know how to pray or what specifically to pray for in a situation. When I give my concerns to God, however, and simply ask that God's will be done, it takes the pressure off. The situation is in God's hands and I know that God will make the right call. Does this mean I always like "the right call?" Not at all. In the past some answers to prayer have meant losing someone I loved dearly through death, not being able to have a baby and moving when I really didn't want to do so. But, other answers have brought great joy to my life, such as choosing to marry my husband, going back to school to pursue new aspects of my career and choosing the right time to retire. In praying the "prayer that never fails" I feel that I am opening my spirit to listen for God's call and timing in my life, realizing that my life is truly in God's hands. 

There are those folks who will likely disagree that in praying the "prayer that never fails," the right thing will happen. And, please understand, I am not saying here that I believe that God makes bad things happen, because I don't believe that. But, as the King of the Universe, I do believe that God sees the big picture in my life and knows the future and all of the ins and outs that I cannot possibly see. I believe that God has power to weave my life, using all the joys and difficulties, into the beautiful tapestry that He has planned for me. And that is why I rely on the "prayer that never fails." 

Tell me, do you pray the prayer that never fails? 

"This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven..."
Matthew 6: 9-13 (NIV)


Monday, October 30, 2017

Flashback Monday and October Snow

Fall style

Hey Friends!  How about a fashion flashback to a look I shared with you a year ago? I really love this off white vest with my red cowl neck sweater, jeans and slouch boots. You can check out the whole post from last year if you click here on Vest Sweater and Boots Fall Styling. I think I need to wear this outfit again soon. 

And, speaking of Fall, we skipped right to Winter yesterday! The Mr. and I could not believe it when we looked out our windows and saw....SNOW coming down! 

snow in autumn
This is what I saw out our front windows. Not a deep snow, but not bad for October! I can't remember the last October snow that actually lay on the ground.
This was the view out the back. Sorry for the screen image, but I shot the pic through the door. It was cold out there!

Since it was so chilly, it was a good day to heat up the oven and create a healthy meal. The Mr. and I are really trying to watch our eating right now so fish and veggies was on the menu for last night.
I thin sliced one potato and one green pepper and spread them out on a baking sheet. I pre-sprayed the foil with cooking spray to prevent sticking and added just a touch of pepper to the potatoes.
I topped three tilapia filets with onion for flavoring. Also pre-sprayed the foil to prevent sticking.
Just baked the fish and veggies for 25 minutes at 425 degrees and enjoyed a complete and healthy meal. Clean up was a breeze due to the foil lined pans. I highly recommend using foil on your baking sheets. And, yes, the meal would have been healthier had I used sweet potato instead of a regular potato, but I didn't have any sweet potatoes and the Mr. doesn't like them anyway. Of course, I forgot to take a photo of the meal on a plate after it was cooked, but the fish was flaky and delicious and the veggies were tender and tasty! I used tilapia from Sam's Club that come individually wrapped. I always hate trying to get the frozen fish out of those wrappers. A friend gave me a great hint: about 30 minutes before baking, take the number of pieces you want out of the freezer and place the wrapped pieces in a pitcher filled with cold water. When you cut the ends of the wrapping the fish will slide right out onto the pan. Love this tip!

How is your week going so far? Have you had any really cold weather or snow yet? Wearing vests, eating fish and veggies? Talk to me, friends! I so enjoy your comments. Feel free to pin my photos for future reference and make sure to recommend to all your friends!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday Scriptures: Praying without Ceasing

Praying With Simplicity
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before. God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." 
Matthew 6:6 (The Message)

Jesus has so much to say about prayer in the sixth chapter of Matthew. This is the chapter where He introduces the disciples to The Lord's Prayer. I love the wording that is used in The Message version of this text. It is clear cut and to the point; don't turn prayer into a theatrical production to impress others. Keep prayer simple. As Jesus says in verse 14, "In prayer there is a connection between what God does-and what you do." 

Last weekend I went on retreat with a wonderful group of women. We do this every year about this time and always stay at the same place. I've done a post about retreats I've been on in past years. This year's retreat theme focused on finding blessings in our brokenness and realizing that even during really tough times, God has a plan for us. Our "spiritual craft" for the weekend was to take broken bits and pieces and other odds and ends and turn them into a beautiful mosaic of some kind. As we worked on this craft, one of the women got her guitar and began to play and sing hymns. One by one, we all joined in with the singing and our voices became a choir of praise as we worked. It was a beautiful, Spirit filled time of prayer and praise through song and creativity. It was simple, and yet, oh so meaningful.

The house we stay in for retreat has a "prayer closet." It is just big enough for a small altar and a chair. There is natural light coming in from high windows and built in shelves that house artifacts that were important to the original creator of the prayer closet. The altar is simple as well; a cross and three glass candles sit on the altar table and a prayer cushion is below on the floor. I found myself drawn to this tiny space during our journaling time. I felt safe in the prayer closet, withdrawn from others with the folding pocket door shut behind me. It was just me and God there and I was able to pour out my heart before the Lord. I remarked to others in the group that I would like to create a prayer closet here at home, but I didn't have a closet for this purpose. I decided to dedicate a corner of our family room for this purpose and even created a little portable "altar" for that space. It's just a shoe box turned sideways with things inside that are meaningful to me; a cross I bought when I began studying to be a Lay Servant, a sign I painted that says "Gratitude", a ceramic dish I made with my women's group that has a leaf imprint on it, a favorite Bible verse in a small frame, a flameless candle and a beautiful lace doily on top of the box.

Now, I know that I don't need a prayer closet or a prayer corner in order to pray. I can pray whenever I want to and wherever I happen to find myself. But, somehow, having this prayer corner has helped me this past week to focus more during my prayer time. I have looked forward to going to this space, shutting myself away from everything else and spending time alone with the Lord. Just God and me, in my secluded and quiet place. 

I have needed this seclusion. A member of our extended family received a cancer diagnosis this past week. There have been tears and worry and concern for the future. It is through prayer that we find strength to cope at times like this. The admonition to "pray without ceasing" becomes especially meaningful as we wait for upcoming surgery and pray for healing. I feel God's presence walking through this difficult time with our family. Your prayers for "L" would be greatly appreciated.


*Have you ever created a prayer space in your home? Where do you like to pray? How has your weekend been? I look forward to hearing from you."