A Rough Patch

I went from I. AM. SAD to just spinning out in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Mom’s illness progressed much more quickly than any of us thought possible and she passed from this world peacefully on Easter Sunday. She was surrounded by the people she loved the most (and who loved her back) and she really did go out on her own terms. If death can be beautiful, then her’s most certainly was.

She didn’t want a funeral, so we held a Celebration of Life in her honor. I wrote this reflection on my Mom and her greatest (of many) gift to me.

A REFLECTION ON MY MOTHER

(April 14, 2018) During the last two weeks I have been asked countless times by friends, colleagues, and family members “How are you?”  and I guess my answer is that it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve been reflecting on my Mom a lot over the past few months as I’m sure you can imagine… How much I love her… What a special person she is… What an awesome “Ga” she was to Josh, Will, Maggie, and Sabrina… What a wonderful gift she was to all of us. Thinking about it, I believe one of the greatest gifts she ever gave me was the gift of perspective.

The glass was always half-full for Mom – she understood the power of positive thinking intuitively at the soul level. When things happened throughout her life that anyone looking in from the outside would consider to be negative, or obstacles, or even tragic, Mom would always get this thoughtful, far-away look on her face and just smile and say, “Oh well, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.”

She always told me that if I wanted something badly enough and was willing to work for it, I could have it, without question. She never cautioned me to dumb down my dreams or to fashion a “Plan B.” She was my biggest fan and most ardent cheerleader.

Mom was my very first life coach, although I didn’t realize it at the time, and sadly, for much of my adult life I viewed her as somewhat foolish and impractical – a dreamer. But what I failed to notice for a very long time was that my mother – that wishful thinker and pie in the sky dreamer – was actually a very competent “DOER.”

Behind the scenes, without a lot of fanfare she raised two pretty amazing daughters, working multiple jobs to make sure we had everything we needed (and most of what we wanted). Then, once we launched out into the world, 25 years after most of her peers, she reclaimed HER life. The amount of courage she must have had to summon in order to shed the comfortable cloak of a Virginia Tech secretary and go back to college in her 40’s must have been incredible. But she did it and she did it with passion and she created the life that she had only dared to dream for all those years while she was raising her babies.

How many of us do that?

How many of us have the guts and the courage to follow our dreams when EVERYTHING in our outside world tells us that we are being foolish, including the people who are closest to us?

When I ponder the legacy of my mother – my son’s grandmother – I hope that she will be remembered as the eternal optimist who lived by the Quaker creedo – “Pray, but move your feet!” I hope that whenever any of us think of Mom we remember her steadfast belief that we can have ANYTHING we want badly enough if we are willing to have the courage to rise above our circumstances of the moment and go to work for it.

My perspective of my mother’s life has shifted dramatically over the years and I am oh so grateful that God chose her to be my Mom.

So when people ask me how I am or if I’m sad I hope I’m able to muster up that same far-away look and wistful smile and tell them that everything is just as she wanted it to be – just as it’s supposed to be. That we should all be so lucky to live our lives on our own terms all the way to the end.

Before I sit down, I’d like to read a poem I found that really speaks to the gift of perspective – a gift my Mom gave everyone she ever encountered.

 

“She’s Gone” by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind,

be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want:

smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

 

I look out at all of you gathered together in this sanctuary and the common thread that binds us all together is Alice. You call her “friend,” “colleague,” “teacher,” “cousin,” “sister” and even “Ga,” but Anna and I have the happy privilege and honor to be able to call her “Mom.”

On a fun note, my sisters and I got to spend some quality time together and even recreated an old childhood photo. (No Old Mil was consumed in the re-enactment of this photo… blech)

Recipe Share: Crack Slaw

Have you ever had “crack slaw?” Oh my! It is so amazingly delicious and addictive (hence it’s name, I suppose) and EASY. I’ve tried a number of different recipes and some are better than others. I’ve tried versions that incorporate brown rice and others that just use plain old shredded cole slaw mix. This recipe is my own and it has been crowned by my teenage son as his new favorite meal, surpassing his previous fave, honey-soy salmon. I left out the brown rice and replaced the cole slaw mix with broccoli slaw. I’ll warn you though, if you make this, whip up a double batch! 😉

Angie’s Crack Slaw

Ingredients

4 Tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 tsp. ginger root, grated
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 lbs. organic, pastured ground beef
2 12-oz bags of shredded broccoli slaw
4 Tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
4 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
salt/pepper to taste
black sesame seeds
chili oil (optional to add some heat)

Instructions

Heat sesame oil in a large wok or skillet. Stirfry garlic, onion, and ginger root for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent being attentive so that the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add ground beef and break apart with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add cilantro and brown ground beef for 5-10 minutes until no pink remains.

Add broccoli slaw and stirfry with beef mixture for another 5 minutes.

Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and green onions. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes – broccoli slaw should be cooked to the desired tenderness.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with a small amount of chili oil (a little goes a long way) if you want it a little spicier.

Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

I. Am. Sad…

Mom- 1977

I received some news this week… I knew it was coming… I’ve been steeling myself in advance of it… I REALLY thought I was ready for it… And then it came…

I got a text from my sister on Thursday evening (although I didn’t actually see it until 4:15 am on Friday morning)… “Hey. Call me when you have a few minutes to chat. New details to share regarding Mom.”

BACKSTORY:

Our Mom is sick. She’s been very sick since last summer with some mystery respiratory thing. She has a very hard time breathing unless she is sitting still or laying in bed. When she exerts herself in any way – even walking to the kitchen or bathroom – her blood oxygen level bottoms out and she is left breathless and on the verge of passing out. She’s been hospitalized twice for this condition – most recently over Christmas, when I went to Virginia and had my epic fail of a run. The doctors know NOTHING. And even if they did know what was causing it, they admit that there is probably nothing they could do about it. They have diagnosed her with end stage interstitial lung disease – I suppose this is the clinical way of saying “The lady can’t breathe and we have no fucking idea why,” but I digress…

So, my sister, Anna, took Mom up to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center for a followup visit after her extended stay with them in December. The lead doctor on her pulmonary care team laid it out as gently as he could…

Mom is not going to get better… (we knew this)

A more invasive lung biopsy may give more clues as to what is wrong with her – although she would likely not survive the procedure, and knowing more doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to treat her any more effectively.

A lung transplant MIGHT be a viable option to extend her life… but she’s not a candidate for a transplant.

She is currently maxed out on oxygen that can be delivered in-home.

And so it goes…

At the end of the day, it was the first time a doctor has been willing to time-stamp my mom’s life expectancy… 6 months… that’s what they say…

I also know that in my business, diagnoses are mere suggestions and we can accept or reject them. I have told my mom that she has lived her 70+ years on this earth on HER terms and SHE gets to decide when and IF she goes out this time around. She doesn’t have to buy in to a 6 month life projection.

But still… I am sad.

My Mom is the greatest!

She never, EVER told me that I “couldn’t” do something. She encouraged me to spread my wings and fly.

She is my biggest fan and my most loyal supporter.

And she is a terrific Grandmother to Josh, Will, Maggie, and Sabrina… REALLY TERRIFIC!

My goal over the coming months is to do whatever I can to make sure that mom still has the ability to live life on HER terms. She deserves that.

Really, we all deserve that.

I would really consider it a personal favor if you would send love, light, positive intentions, and prayers to my mother… Her name is Alice… and she’s one in a million.

Thanks.

Habit Stacking

I’ve really been trying to get my stuff together from an organizational perspective this year. Here’s a post I wrote for our business blog that discusses what I’ve been doing. It’s called “Habit Stacking” and it’s terrific!

Hello Everyone! Angie Flynn here. I wanted to share a concept I’ve discovered recently that has really helped me get my s&*t together. Deb and I joke about it a lot, but I can get a little squirrelly and scatterbrained at times (I know, SHOCKING, right?). 1,008 more words

via A Behind The Scenes Look At Habit Stacking — Cheslow Achievement Group

My Favorite Vegan Recipe

As you may or may not know, Deb and I adopted a rabidly vegan nutrition philosophy from 2015 through early-2017 when we transitioned back to a more vegetarian diet with some fish and seafood thrown in occasionally. Today, we do eat beef and chicken in small amounts as long as the meat/poultry/eggs/cheese, etc. are organic and from pastured animals. I would guess that we still eat around 90% plant-based.

I found very favorite vegan recipe on Pinterest a couple of years ago and it has had a prominent place in our meal rotation ever since. This Lentil Chili from Katya at the blog, Little Broken, is simply AMAZING!  Rich and hearty, you’ll never miss the meat! I love to serve it over brown rice or cauliflower rice or in baked russet potatoes or baked sweet potatoes – and of course with ample sliced avocado.

If you’re not so concerned about keeping things vegan, you could add shredded cheese and sour cream too.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

Photo from www.littlebroken.com. All rights reserved.

Lentil Chili

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil (my choice)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 lb bag of brown lentils
1 28 oz cans no-salt diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
2 (32 oz.) cartons vegetable stock
⅓ cup fresh chopped cilantro
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and red bell pepper and saute until soft and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in garlic and chili powder; cook until fragrant.
3. Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf, and stock. Season with salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Bring to a
boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until lentils are
tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
4. Transfer 3 cups of the chili into a food processor or a blender and process until pureed; add the pureed chili back
into the remaining chili and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.
5. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Makes 8 servings

Add-in suggestions:

  • spinach or kale
  • black beans

Hypocrite No More!!

Courtesy of 123RF.com

Have you ever been in a space where you gave advice that you had a really hard time following yourself?

That’s where I found myself A LOT over the past 8 years when it came to drinking enough water.

Sometimes I would do better… Once in a while, I would actually get on a roll and do great… But eventually, something would happen to knock me out of my routine and my fledgling habit would wither on the vine. And I would feel like an incredible hypocrite!

Over the Christmas holidays I decided that I was REALLY going to make a PERMANENT change! I mean, I KNOW the importance of drinking the right amount of water and staying well hydrated. However, KNOWING doesn’t always translate to DOING, does it?

I was recovering from broken bones and couldn’t do much else during the holidays, plus we weren’t working so I could really focus on my water intake.

I Googled “water apps” and found a suggested list of apps that could help me track my daily water intake. Some worked better than others, but in the end, I uninstalled them. What ended up working for me was getting a 64 oz. glass container, filling it up each morning, and then using  my Pomodoro Technique breaks to go drink between 8 and 16 oz of water.

I also took a 30-day break from coffee in January and replaced my caffeinated coffee and tea habit with hot water with lemon for those 30 days. It turns out that I REALLY like hot water with lemon, so I kept it up after January was over. So, not only was I able to count the volume that I normally drank in the form of coffee or tea (about 32-48 oz per day) as actual water consumed, but I also didn’t have to replace that volume with more water as I would have to do when I was drinking caffeinated beverages. It was like a double bonus!

I found that I was suddenly and quite effortlessly drinking between 96 and 128 oz of water each and every day!

My energy skyrocketed… My weight loss rebooted… My skin looked better…

It was incredible!

I’m now moving to the three month point of this new baby habit. Sometimes I miss, but most of the time I am very well hydrated. My body will tell me when I’m not drinking enough water (or when I’m drinking too much coffee – yes, I do drink coffee again, but only a fraction of the amount I used to drink).

So, for anyone looking to level up their hydration game, here are my tips:

  1. Buy a large glass container (64 oz is a good size) and fill it up with filtered water each morning.
  2. Try hot water with lemon as a replacement for some of the caffeinated beverages you may be drinking currently.
  3. Get an app or set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. Drink 8 oz of water each time the alarm goes off. Note: If you do this between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, you will drink A GALLON of water during the day. You may or may not need this much, but it’s a painless way to get the water down!

How much water should you be drinking?  Here is the rule of thumb that I follow:  Your current weight/2 + 24 oz from every hour of exercise + equal volume for any caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

So, if I weigh 140 pounds, I exercised for an hour this morning, and I drank a 16 oz cup of coffee, I would need 110 oz of water today:  (140/2) +24 +16 = 110.

So, drink up!  Your body will thank you for it!

________________________________________

Proper hydration is one of the fundamental pillars of my new health and wellness program, UnREALogical Health.

 

I’ve Been Up To Something…

… And it’s AWESOME!!

For the past six months I’ve been working on a project that I’ve kept on the down-low with everyone except those people who have been involved. But now I’m ready to dish about it to the world!

Why so super secret?

Well, to be quite honest, I wanted to make sure it didn’t turn out to be a complete and utter disaster first. When I started this experiment back in mid-August, I honestly had no idea how it was going to go… It had the potential to be wonderful… It also had the potential to be a nightmare and go south in a big way.

So, there’s the backstory…

Last May I started a health coaching certification program. The program started out a little bit slow and I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick it out or not because – well, it was EXPENSIVE and I wasn’t sure I was going to get the ROI I expected. But, after several months, the lectures got very interesting so I stuck with it. I’m glad I did. The program is like the intersection between personal development and nutrition, so it really is kind of my jam!

Then, at the end of June, we held our amazing Breakthrough Summit at The Shores event here in Daytona Beach and during the retreat I had client after client come to me asking for advice on their nutrition – how to get better sleep, how to lose weight, how to just FEEL GOOD. So, at the end of the weekend, we were all sitting around and someone asked when I was going to create a health coaching program. I told them all that I had JUST STARTED the certification program. They persisted, so I asked them if I put together a group program would they all join it?  They all said “Yes,” so I committed to launching something in August.

But I was crystal clear with them all, I had NO IDEA what would happen or how it would all unfold. I told them I couldn’t promise them ANYTHING – they were my guinea pigs. Strangely, they all seemed to like that idea.

Deb and I had been playing with our own dietary philosophies for a while and we had finally hit upon a formula that seemed to work… It seemed to work regardless of whether we ate high carb, low carb, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous, etc. And, unlike so many other programs we had tried, it was simple, sustainable, and didn’t stop working as time went by.

In July, I contacted my guinea pigs and told them we would start on August 14th and that they needed some nominal skin in the game, so they each paid me a stupidly small amount of money and, voila, they were members of my “pilot program.”

Week-by-week, I wrote lessons on nutrition, based on what I already knew and what I was learning…

We sent mindset lessons from Deb…

There were recipes…

Exercise suggestions…

Videos…

Q&A…

It was a BLAST!

His insulin dosages have steadily been reduced since August – TWELVE times!!

But more than that, people started sending me messages that they were feeling better…

Their clothes were getting looser…

Health conditions were turning around…

They were sleeping better…

I was floored!  And humbled! And THRILLED!!

When the pilot program ended, most of the participants wanted to continue on. It was a decision point.

Deb and I knew we were on to something, so we decided to create two new programs:

  1. A 30-day Fundamentals program that focuses on 4 pillars of health and wellness as well as key mindset issues related to weight and illness,  and
  2. An ongoing month-to-month Advanced program that builds on the fundamentals program.

Our Advanced program is going strong and our first Fundamentals program finished up in mid-February. Again, it was terrific!

Now, our next round of UnREALogical Health Fundamentals is kicking off on March 12th and I’m inviting everyone to check it out.

It’s better than I ever imagined and I’m really very proud of it.