An Adult Twist on My Loving Self

Raising children to love and care for themselves, others and the planet has been the focus of My Loving Self and Me for over a year.  Unexpectedly becoming a cancer patient has my focuses in another direction.  When I got past the “Why me?”part of the diagnosis I realized there was so much more to the experience than I ever realized and that surprised me since I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for about 9 years, most of that time focusing on Mission and Advocacy. How could I know so little after all these years?

All experiences through life do come back to perspective and that perspective is based on whether we are coming from our heart or ego.  Perhaps this is a necessary diversion in my writing as all adults need to reflect on the lens through which they view life, especially if they are raising children.  Children cannot bring forth their loving self if they are living in a world of negativity or being treated in a way that is contrary to what is expected of them.

As I write through my personal experiences I intend to give thanks to those who live from their heart and inspire others  readers to come home to their heart.  Although this change in direction was motivated by a cancer diagnosis, it will not be a cancer blog, but one that motivates each adult to live from their heart when it comes to difficulties friends and family members are going through. I encourage readers to leave feedback as all  life lessons are valuable. The role of caregiver is not an easy one. I hope this will support and encourage them as well.  Now I am the patient, but I was a caregiver for my father during his cancer, and my mother through dementia.  The latter was truly difficult. Please join the forum here and participate in this discussion. Thank you.

Believe to Receive

10390078_1446513595630099_3396934485674124174_nPreface: What a gift when important aspects of life overlap!  I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life for nearly a decade.  At the local event a sunrise service is held Sunday morning for those of faith.  This year we didn’t have music, nor anyone to lead the service, although there were enthusiastic women not quite confident enough at first that they could do it themselves.   That feeling didn’t last long as within in a couple of days I had this overwhelming feeling this was a gift for me, whatever it was that was about to happen.  Soon I knew in my heart I was to give the message that morning and am sharing it with you.   The audience was made up of team members, committee members and Boy Scouts who had been there for 24 hours doing what they do best- fundraise and raise awareness to fight cancer. My commitment to  Relay and my personal spiritual growth intersected that Sunday morning in a beautiful way.

Every day is the day the Lord has made! I remember singing this last year while sitting here in the dank, raw cold of the morning.  Today we sit here in the warmth and light of a new day.  Whether it is the day everything goes your way or a day it just doesn’t, each and every day is the Lord’s creation.   Life has ups and downs.  There may seem to be darkness, and there is light. We choose the days we like and label them good and others bad.  So the natural way of life, the ebbs and flows, becomes good or bad for us.

The difference between the days is in our minds.  We choose to be grateful for some and annoyed about others.  You know people who are grateful most of the time and others that always have something to complain about it.  It is a choice. When I was a kid I heard a story about 2 children who were invited to a farm.  One couldn’t stand the smell.  She grumbled and made faces and held her nose, whining to leave immediately.  Another child noticed all the manure and the smell and began running around excitedly looking in all the stalls.  When asked what she was doing she called back gleefully, “ With all this poop, there HAS to be a pony in here somewhere!” 2 Perceptions of 1 situation.

Last year when my cancer journey began, I had a hard time remembering all of this.  I spent a lot of time asking, “Why me?  What did I do wrong?” “Why am I being punished?”  I did get past it and regained the sense that I was in God’s hands and every day was the best day it could be.  I was able to bring light into what I perceived as darkness.   I even embraced being bald!

The second time, less than a month after finishing my treatment for breast cancer, when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t go down that rabbit hole. I was gratefully in the Grace of God.  I didn’t do anything different except that I was open to His abundant gifts every day. Through the biopsies and surgeries, I felt little pain, and worry was not an option.  Whatever the outcome, I knew I was in God’s hands.  What happened for me was glorious spiritual growth.  I let hope blossom into belief.

Hope signifies the possibility of good news, good reports and a good life.  We see messages of hope all over especially about cancer. Hope gives us purpose and a reason to continue with efforts to eliminate cancer through preventative messages and treatment.  It has become a keyword for Relay. Hope elicits a response of “Thank, God!”  too often spoken as a surprise, because there was an inkling of doubt.

Hope grows into belief through faith.  With belief and faith there is no doubt. There is a knowing that what is for the highest good will be attained.  God told his disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14–20).

Like many parables Jesus told, there was some exaggeration to make his point.  They were not to be taken literally but for us to understand the magnitude of our capabilities with our faith in God. Mankind experiences miracles equal to the uprooting of a tree or the moving of a mountain, yet do not recognize it for what it is. Rather than belief in the power of God and prayer it is diminished to luck. Moving of mountains happens all the times when we are open to it. And it has nothing to do with luck.

Faith backed by hope, builds belief and extinguishes fear, anger and doubt brought on by adversity.  Be grateful for it.  Acknowledge the goodness in your life, even if in the beginning you honestly believe that the good you receive is the size of a mustard seed. I used to think I had to work harder at faith and trust like it was one more thing that would get stronger if I could just try hard enough! But you can’t force it, you have to let go and be still, especially in your mind.  Clear your mind so that His words can become your thoughts. I have never heard voices, but I think thoughts of goodness, and peace, and caring and love when it ordinarily would be difficult for me, or come up with solutions that blow my mind, and realize I didn’t come up with them all on my own.  I first realized that when I was writing a book and would go back later and reread it.  I would read and check what I wrote, wondering who wrote this? It couldn’t have been me.  Then it dawned on me that God or one of His angels wrote through me.  This connection is possible for all of us.  You just need to let God in. It is a choice.

Pray with trust and faith.  Asking for something you do not believe you will get, or deserve is not asking in faith.   Prayer with hope is a start, prayer with faith, even the faith the size of a mustard seed is the answer.  Prayer, knowing, believing that whatever is for the highest good- God’s will takes place.  What we want is not always in our best interest or the best interest of the world around us.  Only He knows.  Have faith in that too.

We can see things in our lives as being dark.  God brings the light.  Our challenge is to allow the light to shine in our life at all times and to trust that God has it all under control.  Belief built on hope knows miracles are coming, and responds with a knowing grateful smile and a silent thank you from the heart.  His will be done.  Every day is a day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it and watch your darkness disappear.

May 21, 2017 Relay For Life of the Greater Lake Region

When Teens Need Some Slack

By the teen years young people can have picked up many skills of adults and perform them with skill. Interest levels can take them to the top even at a very early age.  Childhood is the time for them to learn how to care for thimages (4)emselves and perform tasks under supervision that they will need to master in their adult life, increasing their skills year by year.  As these skills increase, their bodies grow and develop, and in many cases their attitudes and mouths  do as well, demonstrating how adult they think they have become.  It is often difficult to stay focused on the fact that they are mentally still developing children.

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, PhD, director of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroimaging at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass, has uncovered data that confirms that as children grow into adults, they use different parts of the brain in decision making than adults do, which causes responses to be more emotional and from the gut than “thinking functions: planning, goal-directed behavior, judgment, insight” of adults.  In a study which showed teens 11-17 and adults pictures related to fear, the adults got it correct 100% of the time while the children did not.  The results were 50%, with the younger teens misjudging it the most and males more than females.  The MRIs used in the study confirmed that the youngsters and the adults were not using the same part of the brain for the decision making. While the adolescents use the emotional region of the brain rather than the executive functioning frontal region that the adults use, in adults the two regions also work together.

Dr. Yurgelun- Todd said, “Our findings suggest that what is coming into the brain, how it’s being organized, and then ultimately the response — all three of those may be different in our adolescents. So that attitude may be part of that, or may be related to that. But it’s not simply a matter of teenagers feeling like they don’t want to do something, or that they’re just going to give you a hard time.”

In addition to making impulsive decisions without thought to consequences, this functioning also affects communication.  They may misinterpret the emotions on any adult’s face and therefore react differently than expected based on their perception.  I remember being asked incredulously, ‘What were you thinking?’ And at the time I was thinking to myself,  ‘What is the problem? I didn’t do anything wrong’, or ‘I don’t know! It made sense at the time!’  Although an adult may think they have absolutely made their instructions clear, adolescents’ brains may receive it differently, add their own timeline to it especially if it was not made clear, and prioritize their to-do list with their own interests at the top.

Teens need the opportunity to take the way they interpreted non verbal messages and reacted to them, and consider other possibilities.  That takes guidance, since as shown by Dr. Yurgelun- Todd they may not be thinking cognitively, but emotionally.   When adults see teens as adults rather than developing children,  they see difficult young people, often believing it is by choice.  They react with frustration and anger, which are more emotions that could be misread.  images (8)In my personal experiences as an educator, parent and grandparent, I have seen this simply read as ‘they don’t like or love me’, and react with ‘I can’t ever do anything right so why bother trying’? or ‘I don’t know what they want from me’ and fail to do anything.   As I write this it occurs to me that I know of adults that react the same way, (including myself for many years), perhaps verifying Dr. Yurgelun- Todd’s belief that these human interactions must be taught.

Communicating with young children through young adulthood is important.  Since adults have the ability to use the thinking functions of their frontal lobe in conjunction with their emotions, where children and teens do not, they are called upon to limit their emotional responses during that communication.

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  • Ascertain what they heard you say and what that meant to them.
  • Be sure you are clear about timelines.
  • Come to an agreement about priorities, acknowledging they have their own.
  • Give them opportunities to excel in areas of strength that do not involve executive functioning of which they are not yet capable.
  • Respond to their actions with patience.  Although often difficult, one of you needs to remain the adult.  Nothing is gained by meeting them at their cognitive and emotional level.
  • LISTEN to what they have to say.  Whether it makes sense to you or not, their feelings are very real and natural.  With guidance they may be able to see other perspectives.

Although they may think they are adults now, they are not and the job of parenting is far from over.  With guidance and patience they can mature into independent, self confident adults able to develop strong healthy relationships for years to come.

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http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/todd.html

PBS Frontline interview with Dr. Deborah Yurgelun- Todd, PhD director of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroimaging at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA

 

Your Feelings Are Natural

 

sad-teen“I can’t help the way I feel!” Remember saying that to yourself?  Remember then apologizing in your mind for feeling the way you were feeling?  But did it make you feel any better? Probably not, because you were judging, you were being critical.  Being judged and criticized is painful, and even more harmful when it comes from yourself.

Feel your feelings, acknowledge them and accept them without judgement or guilt.  They are feelings and feelings are natural.   Accepting them allows you to take a look at why you feel that way.  No one has a right to make you feel badly about yourself and that most importantly includes you.  While feelings are what they are for that moment, they can and do change as you come closer to realizing the real truth behind them.  Insecurities about yourself accept when the feelings are negative, but you have the power to change both the feelings and the insecurities. Feelings are real, but they are often not the truth, whether they come from within or from someone else.

While feelings are not necessarily good or bad, actions guided by them can be.  Feelings may direct you to do harm, as a reaction of that self criticism mentioned before. Often those feelings leave you feeling  “I had no other choice”.   To act in a way that is harmful or hurtful to yourself or others, is making a choice- a choice to cause physical or emotional pain. Feelings have a  direct impact on your life, so analyzing and redirecting them to make your life better is healthy and helpful.

So, how do you feel at this moment?   Just feel a current emotion, but not any actions you may associate with it.  Again remember, feeling and acting on the feeling are very different. “I feel like punching something” or “I feel like hurting myself” is not the feeling.  Why do you want to do that?  Keep asking until you get to the feeling that is causing this want for action.   Take a deep breathe and answer the question to yourself. Even though “I feel sad is a feeling, keep asking why to uncover other related feelings.  Remember, you may be “talking” to your biggest critic.  If you “hear” in your thoughts, that there is something wrong with that feeling, dismiss it.  You don’t need to take abuse from yourself.  Repeat after me, “It is how I feel and for now I accept the feeling.” Once you hear your feelings without criticism, you can begin to accept them without criticism. Continue reading

Gifts From the Heart

Blessed are those who give from their heart for they have found their path. Mother Theresa is the first that comes to mind, but you don’t have to walk the streets of Calcutta to be a lightworker.  Giving from the heart-without expecting reciprocity or thanks can take place anywhere.  Gifts from the heart can be as small as a smile, as that smile may change someone’s day.  It may encourage them to pass it on to someone else like handing off a baton of light through the universe.

Those who watch TV  could be led to believe that there is no light out there.  Whether it is drama or the news, evil gets the most attention.  Sometimes you have to search for the light in the world. If TV disturbs you, limit what you watch.   I believe everyone has a loving self which they may not let show. Encourage those around you to bring forth their light with love and gratitude, but protect yourself from negativity while doing it.  It was once suggested to me to visualize myself covered in a raincoat that protected me from their spew of words.

The most fulfilled lightworkers are those who use their talents to assist others. I have asked many times what my life purpose is.  I kept waiting for an answer!  I think now that it is serving in anyway that makes me happy and comes from my heart. Each of us who serve from our hearts are blessed in God’s eyes.  It matters not what you do for work or play, choose to do it from your heart.

I questioned friends and family about this topic, from the perspective of being in need.  The generalization that came to me was that most people who are having difficulties need connection. Being alone with their thoughts and fears concerning their situation makes it all the more difficult.  Earth Angels become their lifeline by staying in communication throughout their ordeal.  They take the initiative to make contact knowing that overwhelmed, confused or depressed people will not reach out and ask for help. We all agreed that saying, “Call me if you need anything”, is an empty offer even if heartfelt when offered. It may be from the heart, but  the gift is missing.  Your  initial contact is disconnected.  Reconnect. A connection may come with a gift of some sort like a prepared meal ready to heat and eat, or flowers, but it appears to me that the communication is valued as the primary gift.  Communication says,”I am here for you.  You are not alone.”

It is important that you take care of yourself.  It is like being on an airplane in an emergency.  You must put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone  else.  Otherwise once you run out of oxygen, no one will be helped. Allow others to give to you as well.  Don’t teach them that you are unworthy to receive, or that their gift is not good enough for you (Yes! That is what they might believe if you refuse over and over to let them do something nice for you).  Sometimes the best gift is to stand back and let others grow from watching you, learning that everyone’s service is important.   God expects you to love and care for yourself. Even though I used the word selfless in another blog, it is not something to strive for.  Care for yourself at least as well as you care for others.

 

 

 

 

You Are What You Eat

Years ago, “You Are What You Eat”, was frequently remembered in my family  from John A Gambling on his radio show, “Rambling with Gambling”. Although I didn’t find a reference for it, my father repeated it from time to time, and later my husband did as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear it for the seriousness of the words.  My family used it after a great meal, and joked about what we were today. Ah, so many years wasted on a limited perspective.

Over the decades, my relationship with food was more of a bulimic approach in that I binged on what I loved and countered with diets.  Obviously to me now, the diets were not sustainable.  I also now realize that when I countered with a diet, it was always to lose weight, never to be healthy.

I compare my perspective to negative space in art.  In my life the negative was out of sight, not an integral part of my life.

“Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds an object in a image. Just as important as that object itself, negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition.” (creative Bloq Staff from http://www.creativebloq.com)

When I ate, I concentrated on the what I was supposed to eat not on what else I was eating.  For example, I start each day alkalinizing my body with a lemon tea from fresh squeezed organic lemons.  I realize I viewed that as a pill for the other things I ate.  The lemon was my positive and miraculously all else was background.  Of course that is simplistic.  But if someone asked what I did to care for myself I could say, I eat organic whenever I can and I try to keep my body alkaline.  Now I am not lacking in intelligence as it may seem, but when it comes to food, I have been very adept at seeing what I focus on and not in balancing the art that is my body.

I began many health projects in the same way.  Rather than follow the program to the the letter, I researched it.  I found online all the “other” foods they forgot to mention. I was creative!  I have always eaten healthy, except when I didn’t. I focused on the positive of my eating plan, not the negative.  I focused on the good I ate and ignored when I didn’t eat healthy, because it was rarely an unhealthy meal, it was the snacks, or “treats”.  And I was starting my day with lemon water! But those treats- cookies, ice cream, potato chips, bottle of beer, are the negative art to your positive body.  They are immensely important to the balance of what you are creating for yourself.

Included in the limited perspective of my relationship with food, was that food was a comfort, a treat, something to be enjoyed.  Not that it shouldn’t be, but it becomes easy to alter the terrain of your body with too much of one thing.  For me, it was sweets.  And if you are reading this, you probably don’t need me to mention the dangers of sugar.

Whatever is eaten impacts the body. What goes in may physically exit, but the impact remains long after.  What we eat is either healthy or harmful. Making discerning choices in important.  While determining a personal plan, that is important to remember.  Each bite matters, because you are what you eat.

Earth Angels Among Us

There are “rules” of kindness that were instilled in all of us at an early age, while for some,  love for fellow man, compassion, empathy and care are who they are at the soul level.  I first became aware of the difference years ago while traveling.  A man traveling with his wife, seemed to be having difficulty and neither of them seemed to know what was happening.  Young and unsure myself, I just made sure I walked near them in case assistance was needed.  I started up a conversation with them so as to not be too obvious, but so that I could take his other arm, not held by his wife  giving him more support.  When we arrived at an area where he could sit, I returned to my group and was asked annoyingly, ” You just can’t help yourself, can you?” I pondered that for years.

Although it was seen by my companion as a negative thing (something I didn’t understand at the time), I believe compassion and selflessness is available to everyone.  Some accept it in their heart while others accept “The rules” that seem to say, offering to help is as good as giving.  Others go back and forth from “The rules” to true compassion seamlessly. I think I fall in the latter.

While enduring the effects of chemotherapy, I became aware of several of these Earth Angels who began by searching for a way to assist a friend or family member with a cancer experience.  They created through trial and error, a product to ease a specific discomfort.  Some of hese people then began to create more and made them available to others.  Some found funding and donate the products, and others sell them at cost. My own Earth Angel knits me soft, luxurious hats and always sends them with the words, “If  it doesn’t fit or isn’t to your liking, pass it on.” Another of my Angels made herself available to drive me to some of my treatments.  Many offered, saying “Call me if you need me”, but my earth angel called each week and asked what she could do that particular week.  I also discovered that “Call me if you need me”, something I too have offered in the past, is not the offering of the gift I thought it was.  Putting the needy person in a position to call friends until one was available is more inconvenient than I ever realized. Experience. I also realized that with the length of many  treatments, one card, gift, visit etc., are not sufficient to assist in raising spirits.  I have an Earth Angel that sends out inspiriational cards weekly to many people. Now I realize what a wonderful gift that is.  Consistent texts or messages provide a connection that is valuable.

I don’t think Earth Angels see themselves as such. They are being themselves, living from their heart, but they tremendously impact those around them.  In gratitude to Earth Angels who have assisted you during a difficult time, please take just a minute or 2 to explain what someone did for you or a loved one that was a true gift of the heart that made a difference.  A generalization of the kindness may be included in a future blog, “Gratefully Acknowledging Gifts From the Heart”. Their creativity may inspire many others.

You can leave your messages here or email them to me at cbethhoffman@outlook.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting That You Are Not Alone

Accepting that you are not alone is a difficult and yet immensely rewarding accomplishment during difficult times.  Making decisions and dealing with suffering leave many feeling lost and alone and in need of comfort and support.

This weekend in our community was Relay For Life, a time for coming together after months of fundraising to support the American Cancer Society with research, education, advocacy and service.  Team members take turns walking the track  (the concept behind the word Relay) so that someone is always on the track.  A great deal of symbolism is involved in the planning based on what cancer does to its victims.  It is 24 hours of people walking to demonstrate that cancer never sleeps so neither do the walkers.  Survivors and patients and their caregivers are honored and those who have died are remembered.  It is an uplifting, emotional time for participants probably mostly due to the electricity of the participants so dedicated to the elimination of cancer.

The theme of the morning sunrise service, ‘you are not alone’ initiated more faithful thinking on my part. The youth minister spoke of the presence of God with us at all times.  The songs and poems were of His nearness,  reminding us of the gift of life.

‘Remember when you heard the words and your mind went blank you were in another world’

‘Remember in your darkest hours when all that surrounds you is pain and sorrow’

These words written by an unknown cancer survivor  speak of unlimited situations that humans encounter.  They speak of those times when every thought is of the affects the situation causes personally.  They speak of those times that fear controls the thoughts.  The faithful eventually on their own time, regain what they have known, that God is with them.

Last night as I meditated, I expanded on not being alone.  Within me is my higher self, holy spirit; I am not alone.  Surrounding, opening me to the energies of the universe, healing and loving are my guardian angels; I am not alone.  Around me are my family members waiting for cues as to how they can help and support me,  but I have to open up and share my thoughts, concerns and needs so that, I am not alone, as well as accept they have their fears, too.  The same goes for my friends and neighbors; I am only alone, if I choose to be by suffering in silence.  As I was told yesterday, ‘You call me with anything you need, and if you don’t need anything, call me to come have a cup of tea and a chat.’ I am not alone.

Fear is what can keep us deaf to God, His angels, our higher self and intuition, and separate us from our friends, neighbors and community.  Fear keeps us alone.  Aloneness is only the physical situation if you allow it to be.  Open yourself to accept that you are not alone.  Open your heart and let the light in.  Sit physically alone in the quiet and listen and feel the presence around you that is love.  It is there always; let it in. You are not alone.

yurloved

 

Take the Easy Route

How many times a day do you think you make a choice?  Depending on your outlook you may think it is a lot, or none at all, being assured that others make the decisions for you.  We all make choices from an extra  10 minutes of sleep, to grabbing an umbrella, or washing the coffee cup.  The thing is when we think we are taking a short cut, or taking the easy way we often are creating a more time consuming or difficult situation later in the day or somewhere down the road of life.  Not washing your utensils and placing them in the sink throughout the day saved seconds that created a bigger mess at the end of the day.  But washing the cup when finished seems at the time to be wasted time.  Grabbing the umbrella might be something you “don’t have time for” and yet makes life easier when the downpour the weather prediction called for barrels down on  you.

Why does the easier ways seem more difficult at the time we make the choice?   Perhaps we see the future as having no limits on our time.  We won’t be rushed, or pressured in any way. Perhaps there is a rainbow at the end of our thoughts that isn’t there at the time. Perhaps we are just too involved in the moment and not at all thinking of our future.

Most of us have experiences in which we afterwards think to ourselves, “I wish I had done it differently.”  Hopefully they are small situations, but sometimes the consequences take years to develop.

For me it has been nutrition.  I am not overly educated nor ignorant, knowing enough to live a healthy lifestyle, but I didn’t.  I had some interesting stories I told myself as well.  One of the greatest limiting beliefs was that if all this food being offered and advertised was so unhealthy, “they” wouldn’t be allowed to advertise it as they do.  There has been another story in my mind concerning deserving a treat.  How different things would be if that story told me I deserved optimum health.

So now after all the years of assuming that it is ok to be acidic, to drink, eat sugar, not exercise regularly BECAUSE I am really not sick, I am now diseased. My body as  a petri  dish tells the  story.  And simply put, all disease grows in an acid environment.

I take this very seriously now.  I am not looking for sympathy but for others to see that eating processed food daily, sugar daily, ignoring vegetables or only eating the ones high in sugar (yes vegetables have sugar!), and convincing themselves that it is OK because they feel fine, is not taking the easy route.  It is being short sighted because decisions made today can have effects in the future.  Caring for yourself is so much easier than caring for a diseased, injured or weak body later, when you are tired and run down or the “cure” wears your body down to nothing.

Some things that are the easy route to a happy healthy life:

Drink water to keep  hydrated.  Other things like juice, soda, and alcohol  should be limited. Think of them as an occasional treat.

Brush and floss your teeth.  It is not time consuming!

God didn’t invent bras.  Use bras in public and let the girls hang free in private, allowing the lymph system  to do its job.

Move Frequently! Don’t sit for too long for the same reason.

Pack a lunch you make yourself that doesn’t come prewrapped. Think fresh.  No, it doesn’t take forever! Avoid fast food.

Get a water bottle that isn’t plastic or aluminum and take fresh water with you everywhere.

Laugh!

Limit sugar anything to a couple times a week.

Listen to music.

Be mindful, meditate or pray.  Get out of ego state whenever possible.

Be around people you love and who love you.  There is nothing more important. Hug!

Be grateful for everything and feel that gratitude .

Smile! Smile!  Smile!

Sending you blessings for health and happiness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If We were Having Dessert, Now is the Time We Would Have it

I do not remember thinking meals in our house were anything spectacular during childhood.  We ate chicken a lot, always vegetables and usually a salad.  Weekends were pot roast and vegetables and very occasionally a steak.  Mother was good at casseroles as well.  Dessert was rare.  After all, on shopping day a pack of Oreos or Lorna Doones and some vanilla ice cream were purchased to last the week,  for the whole  family. If there happened to be company of any kind, my father would amuse himself and announce, “If we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it!” The grin on his face and the twinkle in his eye is probably why I remember this so fondly.

So when did sugar become a food group for me? Those healthy meals of childhood are the ones I appreciate now, but somewhere in the middle of living, I realized I had missed out on pastas, breads and desserts and gifted myself with their consumption.

For the two weeks before my cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar binge, running an errand daily to the pharmacy for a candy bar.   (The fact that the entire length of the check out counter in a pharmacy is all candy and gum could be another blog, don’t you think?) I thought I was controlling it by not bringing bags of candy into the house and limiting it to one a day.  But now I look back on the early days at home when candy was at Easter, Halloween and Christmas, and a pack of cookies and a half gallon of ice cream was sufficient for the family for a week.   Sugar was not a food group back then.

A dear friend mentioned last night that his mother always said. “Everything in moderation.”  I remember that saying,  too bad it disappeared.  Breakfast anymore can be an entire meal of dessert with sugary cereals, and French toast, or pancakes that are more extravagant than coveted strawberry shortcake during the first week of June in my youth.

I blame advertising, knowing as I am doing it that it isn’t fair, but someone needs to be responsible.  Maybe the food shows are responsible.  It couldn’t be me!  How am I supposed to make good choices with a Dunkin donuts on the corner, two ice cream stands in a mile spread and a supermarket with everything I see on the television?  “Everything in moderation”.

I am thinking that pertains to amounts as well. When was the last time I asked for a small of anything? Whether it is an ice cream cone, or a salad, it doesn’t have to be HUGE.  Sugars and worse yet in my book, artificial sweeteners are in everything.

It has finally sunk in so you get to hear the wisdom that eluded me for so long.  Not caring for yourself by indulging in unhealthy over advertised food is harmful.  It weakens the immune system and leads to other diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes as well as in my case,  cancer.  Even scarier is that this overload on children will take its toll much sooner.  Deep down do parents believe as I did,  that they were in some way deprived of the treats they saw others eating and think they are gifting their children??

Observing those around me as I now refrain, I have things I want to share.  Food should not be your choice of self love.  Enjoy life and eat for nourishment.   Drink water!  IF you must have a soda when away from home, order a small and a water as well.  Drink water until your thirst is quenched, then sip soda and water throughout the meal.  Eat salads at home and get your taste buds accustomed to enjoying the taste of the vegetables. You can use dressing but use a little.  Train yourself to enjoy the FOOD, not the high salt, high sugar dressing.  AND don’t use low calorie so you can use more!  Eat real – in moderation.  Then when you are out, you can order a salad and only use a small portion of the dressing that you told them to put on the side.  A glass of wine while dining out is 5 oz. , it can be the same at home.  Here is a tip I just learned.  Wine glasses in restaurant have a way of measuring either in the position of the lettering or with an engraved dot or square to guide bartenders.  You can do it at home. Measure 5 oz. and pour into your favorite glass.  Mark a dot on the outside of the glass.  You won’t have to measure again and you are controlling your sugar intake!

Time to get back to the olde days of not having so much sugar around. Time to spend less time in fast food and when you need to, choose wisely.  Time to shop real and not packaged.  Time to skip sugared breakfast, lunch and dinner and instead think in the words of my dad, ” IF we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it.”