Creating Happiness

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Believe it or not, material possessions and other people do not make us happy.  Sure, buying something new can give you a little “lift” in spirits, if that’s the way you think you should be happy.  However, that lift never lasts, and then you’ve got to go out and get something new again.  It’s a never-ending proposition and one that certainly will not bring you lasting happiness.  The same holds true with collecting new people.  When you look outside yourself for happiness, you will always be disappointed.  Whatever lift you feel initially, will not last, and will often leave you feeling even more empty inside.

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However, when we realize that the only happiness that lasts is the one we make ourselves, that is when we will truly be happy.  Happiness really is an inside event.  Only we can create our own happiness.  How can this be done?  First of all, you have to really know yourself.  You need to spend some quiet time with yourself, and find out what might make you happy.  Many times, unhappiness stems from not pursuing those things that really give meaning to our lives.  If you want to change your life, what’s stopping you?  Can you start small, and build from there?  We have an unlimited capacity to improve our own lives, even in just the tiniest ways, and happiness will stem from there, if only we try.

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By working on ourselves we can create our own happiness, and from there, we can change the world.  How can our own happiness change the world?  By bringing happiness into the world, we bring kindness to others, creating a new compassion for others.  Your changes help transform the world you live in.  It’s a pond with ripples radiating out into the rest of the pond where it eventually hits the shore and continues on from there.

 

Putting it all Together

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As you know, I’ve been in the midst of changing my life for a while now.  Sometimes it seems that for every step forward, I take two steps back.  However, lately I’ve been feeling quite optimistic.  Losing weight has been a great “kick-in-the-pants” for me.  I’ve changed my eating and my exercising, and feel much better both physically and mentally.  Of course, there have been days where I’ve felt besieged by life, but those days are far fewer than they were.

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However, I’ve been having a hard time putting all the changes that I want to make together.  It’s hard to fit everything into one day.  My creative life is suffering a more than I’d like, and I’m not de-cluttering my house the way I thought I would.  It’s hard to get much done with the hot weather (an excuse if I’ve ever heard one), but I also have lost a little motivation in regards to these aspects of change.

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I think that my real issue is with organization.  So, my not-so-new goal is going to be trying organize each day into blocks where I work on different things at specific times of the day.  How do you organize your day in order to fulfill your goals?  Let me know, if could use all the help I can get.

To Accept Yourself

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Self-acceptance seems almost impossible.  However, that is the path to true happiness.  Trying to please others in order to find happiness is doomed to fail.  The only person you absolutely need to be accepted by is yourself.

Other people may only want you to be near them because of what they can “get” from you.  They might only accept you for a variety of things that you offer; your looks, your generous nature or even your love of them.  This is not true acceptance if it’s based upon conditions.

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Accepting yourself can lead to all kinds of fabulous benefits.  Once you become comfortable in your own skin, accepting all that you have to offer, and all your own foibles, your life can literally change.  Love yourself for who you are, faults and all.  It’s what makes you unique and wonderful.  Be yourself!

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How to Stay Positive

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Positivity is a mind-set that is hard to maintain in a negative world.  Every day there are many new injustices to deal with, so how does a person keep themselves positive?  This is a question that I’ve been pondering over for quite some time.  I’m not very good at doing this myself, but here are a few of the things that I feel help.

Number one is that I exercise.  Endorphins are wonderful things.  As a person who is just this side of depressed, I find that doing something physical every single day is a must for my mental health.

Another important thing is that I take St. John’s Wort.  I know that it doesn’t work for everyone, however, I have found benefits to taking it every day.

I have also found that it helps when I try to do yoga every day.  I’m not good at it, I won’t be posting photos of myself doing any positions on social media.  I haven’t ever taken a yoga class.  However, I do Sun Salutation almost every day both as a meditation, and a stretch.  Good stuff and I highly recommend doing it.  If there is one thing we all need to do is stretch and calm down.  This is most helpful.

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And, finally, the last thing that I do is that I try to work on my goals every single day.  I set goals for the week on Sundays, and try to get most of them done by Saturday.  The more goals I accomplish, the more positive I feel.

Share your ideas on remaining positive.  Maybe you’ve  got some wonderful things I could add to my list.

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My Low-fat, Plant-based Diet

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I’ve been following a low-fat (no oil), no prepared foods, plant based diet since the middle of March.  I was over-weight and just couldn’t lose any weight, even though I had been Vegan for 3 years at that point.  I had watched Forks Over Knives and was aware that I needed to decrease my oil and processed foods consumption.  However, it wasn’t until I got the book Seven Day Rescue Diet by Rip Esselstyn that I found a simple and easy diet to follow.  And that was when I started to lose weight.  Was it hard?  Well, cooking without oil can be a little bit difficult, but I quickly adjusted.  Now I use some water instead of oil and I add more herbs and spices to my food then I ever did before.  One of the easy things about this diet change is that I liked all the foods that I was eating.  For the first month, I was completely about cooking my own food.  These days I will get a pizza with no cheese on it from the local take-out, so no, I don’t feel “cheated”.   I will also eat Chinese take-out that has been steamed with no sauce on it.

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So, have I been losing weight?  Yes!  With absolutely no calorie restriction (I actually eat a lot), so far, I’ve lost 23 pounds.  For a moderately over-weight woman of over 50 this is huge.  I don’t exercise every day, but I do eat all I want every day.  Here is a list of my meals for one day:

Breakfast – one shredded wheat biscuit with plain Almond Milk (I eat Post Shredded Wheat), I only eat one because I also have a large glass of water, a banana and a peach or plum.  If I’m not that hungry I’ll save the banana for a snack around 10:00 or so.  I will eat another banana if I’m hungry later on in the morning.

Lunch – a fairly large salad with either homemade oil-free dressing, or bought oil-free dressing with little to no “extra” stuff in it.  I’ll then have a baked potato with a little salt, pepper and garlic on it.  And again, I’ll have a large glass of water.

Snacks – if I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon I’ll eat some fruit.  With it being summer, that could be sweet cherries, a peach or plum, grapes or a banana.  If I’m really hungry I’ll have more than one piece of fruit.  If I’m eating cherries I’ll just have a few (or more) handfuls of them.

Dinner –  usually I’ll have a bowl from Seven Day Rescue Diet.  If I’m not having that, I could be steaming up some veggies and having them with preservative and oil-free soy sauce and some brown rice or quinoa.  I put a ton of spices on my food.  I’ve always used a lot.

Desert – I usually have fruit in the evening.  Right now, since it’s summer and strawberry/blueberry season, I’ve been having that for a treat.  And, even though I normally only eat whole food, I will have the vegan whipped cream on those.  Not every night but one or two nights a week.

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When I started this diet, I didn’t eat a single prepared food.  I made everything from scratch, including hummus.  Homemade hummus is really good.  I now eat some no-oil, no-preservative guacamole, oil-free salad dressing, and I make veggie sandwiches with vegan sandwich thins.  But, I mostly (6 days out of 7) still follow the no-oil, low-fat diet.  I now have added plain peanuts to my diet, so that’s really good if you feel like a nosh.  I’ve also had air-popped popcorn with a small amount of salt on it – one caveat, popcorn without vegan butter can be pretty dry.  I’ve also made potato chips in the microwave – they are really good with some garlic powder on them, but are time consuming to make.

The only issue with eating this way is that you have to actually make your meals.  It can take more time than I’m used to, but it also tastes much better than prepared foods.  If you want some recipes let me know and I’ll share some with you.  The other important thing is that I drink a lot of water.  All the time.

As far as health is concerned, I used to have fairly bad asthma and now I don’t.  We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, but the humidity hasn’t really bothered my breathing as much as before I started this eating plan.  My fibromyalgia also isn’t giving me as much pain as before.  Those were my two health issues, and they seem to be improving.  So, I’m looking forward to losing more weight on my goal to a healthy weight.  If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

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What is Wrong with Education?

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I love to learn.  If I’m curious about anything, from the origin of a word to where a country is on the map, I’ll look it up (my geographic skills are very limited, and I’m always looking at maps).  I have an insatiable curiosity regarding almost anything to everything.  I will ask strangers all kinds of questions in order to get to know them.  I’m not pushy, and I try to do it in a friendly way.  I feel that there is so much going on the world and so many stories out there that are so interesting.  Most people are dealing with all kinds problems and I’ve been told that the very fact I ask them how they are makes them feel special.

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My curiosity includes education – of course.  I decided while I was at college, that I’d get two majors instead of the usual combination of a major and a minor.  I had a few interesting conversations with the Dean of Students over this decision, but due to my high grades they let me persue it.  When my children were in school I asked them to tell me one thing they learned that I didn’t already know.  When I home schooled them, the thing that I liked best about it was how much new information I was learning.  There is nothing like learning new things that gets me so excited.  When I first learned who Rachel Carson was, I wanted to be just like her. Most of my heroes are people who not only are highly intelligent, but also people interested in helping others.  The only way forward into a better and more equal future is through education.  Done right, education creates compassion and understanding.  No one who reads a wide variety of international literature can claim no compassion nor understanding. Once you feel what other cultures have experienced, your mind has been opened to new pathways.

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Of course, the point of all this waxing on about education is that a new study by Pew Research Center has shown that the majority of Republican voters believe that higher education is “bad” for America.  That being said, I wonder if they are prepared to forgo Doctors, Nurses, Engineers and computer experts.  All these people do have degrees from universities.  Indeed, many of them have advanced degrees.  These are the people responsible for many of the “little” things that make life a lot better – such as advancements in communications, infrastructure, safety and health care.  This finding simply flabbergasts me.  Please feel free to leave your comments on this subject.  I’d love to find out what other people think of it.

http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/

http://www.newsweek.com/republicans-believe-college-education-bad-america-donald-trump-media-fake-news-634474

 

Swimming

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I’m back in a bathing suit and swimming again!  I was that kid at swimming lessons who had already completed Jr. Lifesaving at the age of 9, but had to re-take all the other class due to the age restrictions.  While I was never a super-fast swimmer (I was a “pretty” swimmer with little to no splashing), I did a mean dive and was on the local swim team for a few seasons.  If it was summer, I was at the local pool.  My mother had us riding our bikes the mile-and-a-half to the pool from the time I was 6.  This was another time, when kids were much “safer”, or if they weren’t, no one actually heard about it.

So, for years I haven’t gone to the lake that’s just about a mile from my house due to my feeling I was “too fat” to get into a bathing suit.  Yes, I know, vanity captures us all at some point or another.  But, now that I’ve lost weight, I went out and bought myself a black one-piece, and the rest is history.

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I’ve been going early in the morning and swimming laps between the two decks.  The other day I was the only one there at 6 am.  It was quiet, meditative and nice.  And, the lake is too crowded to swim laps at any other time of day.  There is a pair of eagles living at our lake this summer, and I’ve been hoping to catch sight of them.  No luck yet.

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I really missed this and can’t believe that it’s been so long since I went swimming.  I think that in another life I may have been a mermaid; either that, or a narwhal (the unicorn of the sea).  I hope to improve by the end of the summer, and be able to complete more laps.  For the moment though, I’m just loving it!

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This is one of my favorite quotes. Love Dory!