How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Being Broken

Some days I feel totally broken. I look back at my past mistakes  (those I remember) then add the fact I’m living with MS……. all I see are the cracks and imperfections. I’m sure that is what most people see.  Working on my Fourth Step has been a challenge…. dealing with memory issues, remembering pieces of the puzzle and not being able to put it together, and being careful not to beat myself up over the mistakes I have repeated during my relapse.

I noticed something amazing happens when you hold me up to the light…… You may see my broken places…but, you also see what makes me beautiful, because in those cracks are the stories of overcoming and standing strong.  I have weathered many storms over the years.

It is because of those imperfections, I am who I am today…broken pieces and all. My scars tell my story. There was a time when I hid my scars, afraid of what others would think. My first time in recovery, I found my broken pieces were an inspiration to others. I was able to help other struggling addicts which in turn blessed me many times. Relapse made me feel as if those broken pieces should be hidden from the world.  Afraid of what others would think.  Comparing myself to others.  I’m now learning to embrace those repeated mistakes and look at the additional cracks as more blessings.

My MS scars may be invisible to the world, but their effects are made real as I struggle to get through some days. There are days when I can’t walk more than a few steps on my own, changing the sheets on the bed is a fight, holding things in my left hand requires both hands.…but I keep fighting. I push on. I keep going.  On good days, I over do then spend days resting and doing nothing.  There is often a sea of tears, but I keep going.

Each of you have broken places and cracks too. Your mistakes and hurts are real, as well as your disability (if you have one), but so is your beauty.  Let your beauty shine through and let your story inspire others. Just because you have cracks doesn’t mean you are worthless. Even if you are broken, you are a container of life, love, brilliance and beauty. Let those things spill out today.

Your story is in your scars and may be just what someone needs to hear in order to keep going.  So, just for today I will be grateful for my scars and the cracks I have.  I will stop worrying about what others think and let my light shine for all to see.

Have a blessed day!

Tasty Tuesday: All-American Beefy Mac


Thank you Hungry Girl for today’s recipe….

Do you remember Hamburger Helper?  When life was crazy busy – full-time job, active kid and not a lot of time to plan meals, this and macaroni and cheese was a go to meal.  I kind of miss those days so this is a great way to enjoy the same yummy taste in a healthier way.

Whether you call it beefy mac, beefaroni, or American chop suey, a hearty pasta meal full of ground beef and rich tomato sauce rocks. Indulge in our AMAZING recipe without a lick of guilt…

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: 30 minutes     Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups frozen cauliflower florets
  • 4 1/2 oz. (about 1 1/4 cups) high-fiber elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 lb. raw extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tbsp. canned tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • Optional seasoning: crushed red pepper

Directions:

  1. Place cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir. Re-cover and microwave for 2 minutes, or until hot. Drain excess liquid.
  2. Roughly chop cauliflower, return to the bowl, and cover to keep warm.
  3. In a large pot, cook pasta per package instructions, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, and stir into cauliflower. Re-cover to keep warm.
  4. Spray the pot with nonstick spray, and bring to medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook and stir until browned, about 4 minutes.
  5. To the pot, add ground beef, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stir, and crumble until beef is fully cooked and veggies are soft, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients to the pot, and stir well. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low, and stir in cauliflower-pasta mixture. Cook until hot and well mixed, about 2 minutes.

Serving Size: 1/4th of recipe (about 2 1/2 cups):  Calories: 375; Fat: 6g; Sodium: 690mg; Carbs: 50g; Fiber: 10g; Sugars: 13.5g; Protein: 33g     PointsPlus® value 9*

Be sure to pack your leftovers for lunch the next day in Thirty One’s Around the Clock Thermal.  This is one of our most versatile totes.  It is great for lunch or snacks anytime, anywhere—work, school, festivals, road trips, pool, beach, golf course, boating or sporting events. The water-resistant thermal lining keeps contents cool and makes cleanup easier. A removable shoulder strap means you can carry it any number of ways, including crossbody for hands-free movement. An interior mesh pocket and exterior front zipper pocket provide separate storage options when needed. Makes a great gift for friends, neighbors, kids, teachers and everyone else on the go!

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Gratitude

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Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful”…..or I think this one better “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has”.

I will admit this has been a struggle for me.  There have been moments when I have appreciated what I have, not comparing myself to others or wishing for something better or different.  For many years, I never lived in the moment – I was always planning the future or regretting something in the past.  Over the last 18 months, life has become very different.  Recovery is teaching me (again) how to live in the moment and be grateful for what I have.  Do I slip into those moments of comparing myself to others?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Every night as I relax and reflect on the day, I have been thanking God for the blessings he has given me.  Even on my worst days, there is a blessing to be had or a lesson to be learned.  Taking a gratitude walk through my day has helped me to appreciate where I am instead of regretting the past or wishing for the future.  It helps me to not miss out on the special moments of the day.  Have you ever taken a gratitude walk?

November is the kickoff to a season full of gratitude.  Some feel they have nothing to be thankful for.  Others are too busy trying to fit into a role others have set for them to appreciate what they have.  Some are dreading the holidays as this will be their first holiday with out their special someone. Some are just thankful they have lived to see another day. What ever your frame of mind is, I am hoping this video clip from Kid President will make you smile – I know it always brings a smile to my face.

How many of these have you forgotten to say sometimes? As we approach the holiday season and begin to consider our blessings, maybe it is also time to add some of these “words” back into our everyday conversations. It is amazing what a simple “thank you” can do to change a person’s perspective on a day. What was your favorite one?

Have a blessed day!

Feeling Overwhelmed?

So this is where I am today!  Feeling overwhelmed and not sure what direction to go in.

I woke up remembering today was Gram’s birthday.  My grandmother would have celebrated her 106 birthday today…. I know she is celebrating in heaven with all of my other angels; BUT this got me to thinking – scary, right?  My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and on any given day, her memory was shot.  With my MS, on any given day my memory is shot.  I think of what a struggle it is for me and I can’t imagine the pain and frustration she felt for so many years….. Yes, I squirreled but this is all part of me being overwhelmed.

This is the month things get crazy – I have craft shows every weekend from now (okay last weekend) till the second weekend in December.  Some week-ends it is both Saturday and Sunday, some it is just Saturday and then there are a few mid-week events I squeezed in.  WHY?  Yes, tis the season of selling angels and helping people make memories BUT I can’t seem to admit things get to be a struggle.  MS has caused me to walk a little slower, my brain is a little foggier and some days I just can’t seem to move because I am so tired.

In the past, my blogs and my focus have been on my business BUT things are changing yet again.  I’m not sure what direction I want to go in and some days, I’m not even sure if I want to keep blogging.  SHOCKING, right?  I have been blogging since 2013 first on a daily basis and then I cut it back to 4 days a week.  Now, even that seems overwhelming.  I wonder if anyone is still interested.  I know my recipes get a lot of sharing so that is definitely at hit.  The problem is, I struggle with finding new and different recipes to appeal to everyone… even ones I would like. So, today I am thinking of trying some of the things I used to do when I was feeling overwhelmed in my business…..

In the midst of all of this craziness, how do you manage to NOT feel overwhelmed in your business or in your life?  How do you manage to not loose your focus at the busiest time of year?  I found an article in The Self Employed which may have some tips to help you….

1.  Reset:  Before you panic (unless you already have) press the RESET button.  Make a list of things which need to be done and rank them by priority.  At the end of each day, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to relax, reflect on what you did and get ready for a new day.  You can’t change what happened yesterday but you can take control of today.

2.  Eliminate Outside Influence:  Do you have your own business?  Juggling kids and a job?  Juggling a chronic health issue?  Set aside time for it – maybe just a 1/2 hour, or an hour or even several hours.  Finish the most important tasks WITHOUT interruption.  Then focus on your family and enjoy.   Did you know it takes you 20 minutes to get back on track after a distraction.  YIKES!  Definitely time to weed out the distractions!!!

3.  Focus Down One Task – EAT the FROG  – you know the most daunting thing or the thing you hate to do the most.  The quicker you get this done, the easier the rest of the list will be to get done.  Get your productivity snowball rolling down the hill.  That works not only in your business but also in preparation for the holidays. Yup, it is going to be here before you know it!

4.  Ask for Help – alright, I know no one can do it the way you do it BUT they can help.  It doesn’t have to PERFECT but if someone is willing to pitch in, let them.  From helping get ready for the holiday meal to doing the small things in your office.  This is the hardest thing for me to do!

5.  Learn to Say NO!  Novel concept, right but it will not be the end of the world.  Remember you can’t do EVERYTHING.  As John Maxwell says – manage YOU because you can’t manage time, we all get the same 24 hours in a day.

Block time for work THEN enjoy the holiday.  Block off time for family and friends so you can enjoy without the guilt feelings.  What is your best tip for getting through this holiday season or just the every stress of juggling lots of balls without loosing your mind???

Have a blessed day!