There was a scone on my desk! A chocolate chip One

I’m so happy its Friday. What working parent doesn’t look forward to the weekends? As perhaps most of my readers know, I’m part of a Body, Mind and Spirit challenge where I have been making really great choices now for four weeks. I have been drinking a ton of water, I exercise at least 30 minutes a day and include time in prayer, meditation and scripture reading, and each week we are given a bonus challenge. This week is was cleaning off a piled space, a cluttered drawer or cupboard. In four weeks I have lost a solid 4 pounds. So far this week nothing has shifted down. I have lost however 10 inches total when I measured myself last weekend. Mainly around the bust and hips area that nice hour-glass figure I maintain is getting just a little smaller in the hourglass. Just a smidgen.

photoGuess what I ate first?  The scone or the peach?

This morning when I got to work there was a scone on my desk. I was like “who put a delicious looking chocolate chip scone on my desk?” I asked everyone except the one person who put it on my desk. It was Mr. Dean our Vice President of Operations. His dear wife and family love this bakery in Huntington Beach, it’s called Lucci’s  and well this scone was delicious! Made at Lucci’s  picked up by Mrs. Dean and delivered to me by Mr. Dean. Of course I ate it. We don’t turn gifts away ever! Besides I get two (free) negative points a week and I don’t really ever use those 2 free points so why not? It was the BEST. Oh it was so good and it’s exactly the kind of scone I would have picked for myself because anything with chocolate chips is always better.

I will be beginning a Fall photo workshop that Tracey Clark  leads. I’m taking it alongside of a new friend of mine Christina who has a beautiful blog called 22 Limes   and what we have planned to do is post each Monday and Friday what our prompts may have been for the week. You will be able to see how our eyes see things differently even though we have been given the same exact prompt. It should be interesting and really lots of fun. I will give you a hint…our prompts involve the blessing in Autumn/Fall and since my fall will be so different than Christina’s fall it should be especially fun to see. I live in Southern California where she resides in South Dakota

See you Monday with my fall surprise! And don’t forgot to look for little miracles over the weekend.

I didn’t like the neighborhood I live in….but I do now

“Yesterday I found her among one of my hydrangeas. I sang the ladybug song to her as Basil watched, wondering what I was doing. Oh and he has hidden his turtle again, so all is well in the world ” CATHY SLY   she held a lady bug as she shared these words.

My friend Cathy always begins her blog post with a really, really great quote and I love how she has this consistency to her blog.  I also happen to love her.  She is one of those people I look up to.  She is very talented with her words and pictures and I love her outlook on life.  So the other day when I blogged about my health challenge I opened up with a quote from another friend of mine Linda and I think I have decided to honor the women in my life by sharing their words which are relevant to the now and I happen to think they have really great words to share.  I can’t wait to begin sharing quotes and other blogs I love in this way.

Yesterday I went for a walk.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The temperature was just right, the breeze was soft, the sun was golden and I tried to keep my eyes wide open while I walked around the school.  The same walk , I walk over and over and it’s not very exciting you see.  But the last two walks I tell myself, maybe I will find a feather because finding my hearts are a given but finding feathers is a rare treasure but the last two walks I have happened upon feathers.  Yesterday in fact I found a feather with a heart.  I have found these kinds of feathers before but not on my walk.  My sort of boring walk I do.  Then I realized after also recently reading an article in Bella Grace about loving were we live.  And it’s so true, we need to love exactly where we are. feather heart

I didn’t choose this house per say.  It was a gift.  It was offered to us at a great price.  We knew it would be a lot of hard word but we also thought we may never own a house had we not taken up this offer that was given to us.  So we took it.  I never wanted to live in this city, I wanted to live in the city I grew up in.  I didn’t want to live in a 1950’s house without a big front porch or fireplace (we put in a fireplace).  I didn’t want a green bath tub (we put in a big white deep one) I didn’t want holes in nearly every wall (so we fixed them) broken doors and windows (all replaced every last one) I didn’t want a house full of dead cockroaches (thankfully that’s no longer the case).  I just didn’t want it.  Although I was grateful I thought I would be gone from here by now.  It was supposed to be a five-year plan and here we are ready to enter our 16th year.  I sure didn’t want power lines and traffic behind my house.  I didn’t want it.  But it’s what I got.  So in the spirit of loving exactly where I am I share our view.  Pictures from last nights sunset and I purposely kept the power lines in the background because guess what?  I truly, truly have learned to love them.  They are my view and they are like art.  They really are, all the lines above me, it’s like just like art and I love it now.  I have also described my traffic noise like crashing waves, its now what I know, it’s what comforts me and I have grown to love it.

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Besides finding a feather on my walk WITH a HEART, the other hi-light was the smiling blond boy in his stroller who widely grinned and told me hello as he waved.  So naturally I smiled wide and said my hello back with a big wave, he was tickled but I think I was tickled more.

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Hope Monday has been good.  I’m about ready to take another walk around my 1950’s neighborhood, which I have honestly grown to love.   I love how time and wisdom can change a mind.

Much love  and may you find feathers and hearts and smiley faces on your walks and the smell fresh-cut grass and laundry and your neighbors cooking dinner, these are the things that make my walks worth while. 

A heartfelt thanks

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The photo above represents a big, big, gigantic thank you for all the support I received yesterday.  It blew my mind and what it really had me realizing is, all my friends and family are beyond amazing and it had me feeling beyond blessed.  Is there such a thing as beyond blessed?  Yes!  No doubt, I felt it yesterday.  This photo also is in honor and memory of my Grandpa Hoff who on this day three days after my 40th birthday left his earthly body. It’s been 4 years today and that just doesn’t seem possible.  I know you know exactly what I mean.  I still hear his laugh, I still hear his greeting and I feel it an honor when he visits me in my dreams.   He loved his roses and when I see mine in bloom, the ones he gave me to plant I always think of him.  He left me his rose memories and also the white egrets, those too.  The roses I cut today from my garden were ones he called “The Abbie Rose”  He said the color reminded him of Abbie’s skin.  (photo credit Dylan)

I want to tell you all and show you some pictures from a garden tour I went on this weekend but I took so many pictures that I will have to spend some time narrowing those down.  I can’t possibly share all 177 of them.  I will pick my favorites and tell you a little about the day later on.  In the meantime I leave you with my new favorite drink. Matcha Green Tea.  It’s a fine green tea powder that’s 10 times more potent than drinking green tea and we all know just how good green tea is for us.  I ordered it first at Starbucks and it’s not on the menu so just ask.  They only charged me 90 cents for a grande and the other day during happy hour I ordered a large for only 30 cents which is crazy talk but I think they don’t seem to have a set price on the drink yet.  It’s cheaper than plain coffee and its way better for you.

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I’m also excited about the quinoa salad I threw together yesterday.  I used red quinoa, celery, carrots, red onion, garbanzo beans, black beans and cucumber.  The dressing I made included olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, a whole lemon, and just a tiny tad of soy sauce the gluten-free kind:) I made such a big batch I was able to fill up three jars to eat as the week goes on. Cause everything is cooler in jars right?

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feeling blessed even when the body is stressed

photo(4)This weekend I had a birthday.  It’s a magic number too.  No, not one of the mile stones, I passed that one up in a blur but this one is number 44.  I like numbers like that, 22, 33, 44. I think 44 will be a good year.  I think my legs will finally heal, I think my mind will be more clear, I think I will get healthy once and for all.  It’s just a feeling I have as I’m entering my fifth year of sore legs that resemble bumpy tree trunks more than anything else.  I will be proud to show my thick legs off in short skirts once the sores go away.  I will!  I will not complain about how thick they are, I will just love them because they will be smooth again and they are good and they get me all the places I wish to go.

8803465257_3e612fbc3b_zI remember once in a SP (self-portrait) class that I took.  I for the first time ever shared in a private group the sores I have on my legs and shared about my OCD and how I can’t leave them alone.  It was a photograph that had a reflection on our hardwood floor.  One very observant woman her name Beth said “I love the way the light is glowing behind you and the way your legs are reflected in the wood. Did you notice that they look flawless in the wood?”  I was first of all terrified to post such a vulnerable photo and I remember when I pushed upload, my stomach got butterflies and my legs went weak.  Yet I knew in the privacy and love within this private group of women, I would get the encouragements and wise words I needed to hear.  I felt it was time.  I shared.  And the words came flooding in, lots of encouraging love filled words and I had not noticed the smooth reflection of my legs.  It made me smile when she pointed that out.  It was the glimmer of hope I needed.  It had been so long since I had seen them flawless and smooth.  It gave me HOPE! I will not give up, I refuse to believe the rest of my days will be spent with sores on my legs, sores I can’t seem to stop scratching causing to bleed and making them even more sore.  It’s such a minor inconvenience yet I feel like there is a lesson for me in this.  I have this “condition” for a reason.  It’s part of my life journey.

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I have tried so many things the most intense for me was when I gave up sugar, I gave up mushrooms, vinegar and even fruit.  I was on such a strict diet that within the 6 weeks I dropped 18 pounds when today on my more realistic life style change I have only managed to drop 10 pounds in four months.  I honestly couldn’t live that way with that intense eating structure and I know it probably would have taken more than 6 weeks but after 6 weeks and seeing the 6th or so doctor who assured me it was eczema combined with OCD and my eating didn’t matter, I quickly hung my hat up on the extreme diet that in no way could be my way living.  I felt as if I wasn’t living to be honest.  I find joy in the flavors and aromas of food.  I believe anything in moderation isn’t so bad.  There are extreme views on this.  This is my personal view based on what I choose to do.

I close with this. I have tried extreme diet, I have tried essential oils, I have tried herbs, I have tried prescription and non prescription medications and ointments, I have tried therapy, I have tried acupuncture, I have tried juice cleanses, I have tried meditation, I have tried detraction therapy, I have tried tanning beds etc.  But what I have learned in all of this, it’s NOT IN MY CONTROL, it’s part of the plan and He has this, He knows.  I just need to trust. I think it’s important that we are brought to places where we can realize, it’s not in our control and we are forced in a sense to let go and let God and then be patient because His timing is perfect. Lessons. We have lessons because if our lives were perfect how could we ever understand to help others, to empathize?  I’m putting it out there today, just in case there are others of you with similar feelings and thoughts.  So we can find comfort in knowing we are in this together.

Scriptures I find great comfort in:  Romans 15:4-5, Romans 8:25 just a few.  Romans is pretty darn good book and if you find some time, these two scripture references are pretty good stuff.

ALMOST FORGOT!!  the reason I began this post was to share the excitement of how I was featured on Mortal Muses blog today 4 in 24!! I was so honored to have been asked to share a few mobile moments and it happened to be the day of my birthday when all the moments were captured.  Then I went off in a totally different direction??  Totally normal.

Guess what today is? Update time.

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as turtle man likes to say “live action” me now…doing what I do! (listening to White Stripes, song Jimmy the Exploder & blogging my heart out) 

Today is the last day of April.  I stayed home from work today because my littlest and only girl had the most terrible migraine headache.  Poor little baby.  No light, no sounds and she just felt horrible.  I feel helpless as she gets through it.  She is on the mend now and things are looking up.  It’s a wonder what a shower will do.  I took one before I picked up soccer player from school today and he agreed to be my photographer.  I decided today was a good day to wear red lipstick.  Why not, it makes me smile an awful lot because it’s completely out of the ordinary for me!  When I began this journey in January I weighed in at 180  and today I’m 170 pounds. I have lost 10 pounds since January.  Although that’s not a speedy weight loss it’s going down and at this rate by the end of the year I should be down at least 20 and that’s pretty awesome.  I mean I’m still quite enjoying myself when it comes to food.  I will eat frozen yogurt WITH toppings, I will have a glass of wine, I will even eat a cupcake.  So not bad for still eating things I like. I also eat a lot of GOOD things and my water intake has increased quite dramatically since I began this journey.  I drink more water than most anything else.  Miss Moonspinner introduced me to heart shaped ice cubes made up strictly of pure lemon and cranberry and this is my new refreshing way to enjoy my water.

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my happy ice cubes

I really, really, really LOVE my fitbit.  It has motivated me way more than I could have ever expected.  I mostly get in my 10,000 steps a day, burn 2,000 calories, get my water quota in, and make it to around just over 4 miles a day and for sure get in 30 minutes of what it calls active minutes in a day, some days even more than that.  Don’t get me wrong though, there are some days I don’t reach my goal and getting in 10,000 steps for someone who sits at a desk half her day is not easy.  It takes quite a lot of intention.  I also have had days of great failure and that’s being harsh.  Like today for instance as I honor my body, it’s tired and my cycle has a way of draining my energy to levels of nearly zero.  All I want to do is lay in my bed or sit in the recliner and do virtually nothing.  Rather than beat myself up over still being in the turquoise and with only 1,500 steps so far today at 3:00, I will say “some days are for rest, today is that day”  “tomorrow will be a new day”  Lasty I upped the protein just a bit.  I had received some great advice not only from my mom but even some friends and so I changed it up a bit and when I did, I began to lose again.

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170 End of April 2014

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174 didn’t lose a single pound in March 2014

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Feb 2014 beginningJanuary 2014 180

I’m half tempted to join a challenge that Prevention is having for the month of May.  This will be my change it up for May.  I’m thinking hard on it, so close to signing the contract;)

10:00 a.m. the hours

I submitted my 10:00 a.m. this past week and since I couldn’t decide I let Kirstin make the choice for me.  This way when Sunday came, I was not only surprised by the new live submissions but my very own as well. She choose the image below.

Tracie West LA 10 am B.jpgYou see I decided that my images would be about what I’m most often doing during that particular hour.  Since I work M-F in an office and part of my day is here, then that is what I choose to share.  I nearly broke my own rules this month because since I’m in accounting and all I was thinking my rules would be in quarters and the first quarter would be black and white and include humans, while the second quarter could be in color and maybe not include humans.  As it turns out….I stuck to my original rule.  Below was option two.

tracie los angeles 10 a.m.Let me remind you that taking images while at work is tricky business.  I don’t have a door just a really big opening and I get nervous when I set my timer and the shutter snaps!  like super nervous.  I’m always looking around before I do this but not always safe, people have walked past while I’m doing this.  Lucky they are glued to cell phones and paperwork and very rarely look my way to even say hello.  The last image is one that I “almost” submitted and I almost shifted my own rules for.  It’s a dogwood so I was told and  I though it was the prettiest tree with the most unusual and delicate flowers.

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The eight P’s

Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.

William Arthur Ward  [1921–1994],
American Author, Thought Leader

 I just stumbled upon this quote by William Arthur Ward and not much is written about him that I could find but he wrote some mighty great quotes. I may sprinkle a few of them in here or there.

So Preparation. I’m going strong on my preparation. Which A) Is not easy B) hard work. And I would like to pat myself on my back for keeping this up for so long. You see on Sunday I made more glo bars for my snacks, I made heart-shaped ice-cubs of lemon and cranberry to spruce up my water. Thank you Miss Moonspinner for the fabulous idea! I rinsed my produce, cut it all up and stuffed my salad jars. I made my smoothie baggies for mornings, this week it’s a smoothie called “morning glory” and I must say, it’s pretty glorious. It’s very simple, just frozen banana’s frozen strawberries, 1/3 cup orange juice, a 1/3 cup coconut water and a dash of vanilla, this recipe is also from the “Oh She Glows” cookbook

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got super excited about this rainbow chard!

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Even this weeks kale was gorgeous

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My salad for the week.  I take Friday’s off to go to lunch with motorcycle man

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The glo bar.  I forgot vanilla in this batch but it still tasted good.  Turned out I had left over pumpkin seeds (a tiny bit) I added more coconut to this batch, she doesn’t do the coconut but I like it.

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My smoothie prep

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The morning glory smoothie.  It makes me smile and I like it better than the one with kale…of course, it’s all fruit!

I have also been walking my butt off, I wish it were that literal but really since I got the fitbit I have walked 10,000 plus steps a day, minus the two days I was working longer hours and out doing some notarizing. I have burned my calorie goals, I have been drinking 84 oz plus of water a day and I added some very light arm weights, sit ups and leg exercises to the mix (the past 3 days) Each day I jump on the scale ( I know, I know the scale is evil but a necessary evil for me) I’m not losing and in fact the past few days I have gone up and don’t give me that crap muscle weighs more than fat, I have only been focusing on my muscles for three days. In my little vent session this morning out loud (bad mommy) the littlest and only girl comes up with some fantastic and very wise advice and her words filled me with encouragement. She says and I quote “It could take you a year mom! So don’t give up” So again. I’m here to say as difficult as it is and as frustrated as I get. I’m not giving up. I just thought I would be much smaller by now and much stronger too but the process is LONG AND HARD…VERY LONG, VERY HARD.

When I do my muscle training, legs and arms I look at the bulletin board above my computer blogging station.  It inspires me!

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Off to WALK to the post office, it’s tax day and when one waits until the last day, well I think we all know what that means.