Gratitude, making your own happiness, part 1 of 3

My good friend Matthew left formal religion as a non-believer. This was a big problem for his wife, who consequently dumped him, moved away with his kids, and remarried. He counseled me a lot as I was newly divorced.

I sought that out, because his divorce was amicable and he refuses to be miserable. What happened (losing his wife whom he adored, and his very young kids moving to another state) is the kind of thing many people spend a lifetime recovering from.

But he’s made a choice to be happy, make a cool life for himself. He has found meditation and gratitude exercises to be life-savers. He gave me an awesome Tony Robbins Gratitude CD a long time ago. You can’t listen to it and stay in a gloomy place.

Today I just want to write five things I’m thankful for. I hope you’ll do the same.

One, I am so glad I have my four beautiful kids. They all have quality friends and activities they excel at. They have fun, unique personalities and I learn from them every day. I made a goal today to not allow myself to say anything that “corrects” them (i.e. constructive criticism!) unless I’ve said five positive things first. Parenting thoughtfully has taught me creativity. Just now, I said to Ten, “I am going to be SO proud of you when you start putting your Lara Bar wrappers in the trash–I’m excited about that!” instead of “Why did you throw this on the floor again?”

Two, I am thankful for a healthy body that serves me well, never lets me down. It lets me play tennis, run, and my latest fun thing–Zumba dance.

Three, I am thankful I live in the Rocky Mountains, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I have a beautiful view of nature every day. Snowy, green, yellow/orange, depending on the time of year–I love it year-round. Sundance / Provo Canyon are my “happy place” on my skiis, bike, or feet.

Four, I am thankful for beautiful and unique friends who each contribute something valuable to my life, make me laugh, help me see things differently, and teach me stuff as I sit with them in negotiating their life’s trials. That includes my internet friends–every one of you who contributes here. (And even you lurkers–love you, too!)

Five, I am thankful for meaningful work that I love. I get to help people, write, travel, and eat good food, in my job. How could I ask for more? I always have a choice: and I choose to focus on what I have, not what I don’t.

I would love it if you would undertake this exercise–here on my blog or privately. I have a few comments tomorrow about creating your own happiness.

Why you will always be nurtured here on GreenSmoothieGirl.com

On the internet, if you’ve been around a while, you know that many of the comments people make in public forums are angry, negative, and nonproductive. On the rare occasion I read these forums, my stomach ends up tied in knots after a few minutes.

I hate conflict. I grew up in a home with a lot of it. It took me many years to figure out that it’s toxic, and that you can choose not to indulge, encourage, and embrace conflict. That you can defuse it or at least walk away from it. I now choose to minimize it in my life. When I’m exposed to it, I try not to wallow in it and relive it, after the fact.

The best thing is to find unusual ways to neutralize it and move on from it. I interrupt the thought patterns that revisit it, break down conflicts in my head as honestly as possible if they’re bothering my heart, and then when I’m done with it, discipline myself to think about something more productive.

I like when people comment on my blog with views contrary to my own. You can’t grow or learn without other ideas and people pushing back on your own. So bring it on!

I promise not to get offended if your opinion differs from mine.

If you dig deep on this site and blog, you’ll find that I won’t engage in conflict that doesn’t seem productive. If someone is hostile or abusive in a blog comment, I delete it. If someone is a bit contrarian and lively in their disagreement, even if it’s a personal criticism of me–I approve the comment.

But there is precious little anger and hostility even in others’ comments here. Generally GSG readers almost always take the “high road.” I hope that’s because my goal is consistent and comes across clearly: to nurture people on their journey. Not tear them or their choices down. We do enough of that to ourselves to last a lifetime!

It isn’t productive to be negative. And the corollary is this: it’s infinitely valuable to praise good first steps, good efforts, towards a healthier and happier life. I have always appreciated comments that are constructive and helpful.

Ideas and experiences abound in the comments made here on my blog. Those who contribute, thanks for helping me build valuable resources for others!

Dressing Your Truth

Local author Carol Tuttle contacted me several months ago. She’s author of four books, including “Discover Your Personal Beauty Profile” and “Remembering Wholeness.”

She asked me to meet her for lunch. She said she knew exactly what I am in her typing system to help you choose clothes, hair, and makeup to “dress your truth.”

I direct you to this because I believe this program allows you to live more truthfully, more grounded in your energy, personality, and unique way of operating in the world. It’s about far more than shopping-and-makeup (which are NOT generally interests of mine, and I explain why in my interview).

I let Carol’s team do a makeover on me! Check my interview out where I don’t quite seem myself:

Check out Carol’s program and sign up HERE

Not only did I arrive dressed completely as a Type 2 (I’m Type 3), but you won’t know me, I was so nervous! (Losing all control and letting a team of people cut and color my hair, put makeup on me, and dress me–in a word, SCARY!) In the initial interview–not only am I jittery, but I didn’t sleep well in anticipation, so I have bags under my eyes!

And here’s my makeover:

Check out Carol’s program and sign up HERE–I think you’ll enjoy it! In fact, you might get LOST in the web site, watching the transformation of many women “discovering their truth.”

Also, I’ll be on her radio show tonight, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., talking about wholeness in nutrition and health–and wholeness in Carol’s world of truth, beauty, and fashion!

Log in HERE to either listen live (call in to ask me a question, and I’ll give away a few of my books)–or listen to a recording if you’ve missed it by the time you read this.

Does it help to visualize? Hit The Cycle!

GSG reader Alisa sent me her meditation CD for evaluation, and I was listening to it this morning. Over the sound of ocean waves, it says in a million ways, “I am choosing habits to lead me to my slender, healthy body NOW.”

Do you think it makes a difference to imagine positive outcomes in your life?

My son Kincade is a junior in high school. Today against Lehi High School, he hits a single, a double, and a triple. At Kincade’s last at-bat, Scooter Nelson says: “You gonna hit The Cycle, Cade?”

The Cycle is legendary in baseball. It’s happened ONCE this year in MLB. It never happened on the Thunder, the outstanding traveling baseball team Cade played on for 4 years before high school, coached by Dennis Smith, one of the best men to ever walk Planet Earth.

So Cade walks up to the plate with Scooter’s words ringing in his ears. On the first pitch, he smashes the ball 40 feet over the center-field fence.

The Cycle is a single, double, triple, and home run. See our celebratory photo after the game, below.

Every player comes out to body-slam Cade as he rolls into home plate, and Coach Nelson, of 4 state baseball championships, says, “That was psycho stuff,” and gives Cade the game ball.

He is batting 900 in his first three games of the fall, and he had 7 RBI’s tonight, winning a game against a very tough team.

How much does VISUALIZING positive outcomes matter? Imagine yourself healthy, with energy to spare, doing stuff you maybe haven’t done in a decade or more. It can happen. Not magically, but because actions start with thoughts–consistent ones that you nurture.

My 17 y.o. baseball player is the sickly, underweight, chronically wheezing kid taking five courses of steroids in his second year of life. The one whose story I tell on the site and in my latest book. Whose life did a 180 when we started eating whole foods and quit eating dairy, meat, and sugar.

[Oh, and what IS that shirt you’re wearing, you ask? I got grease all over my favorite white t-shirt and ripped a hole in it, extricating it from my bike chain today. So I let my two youngest kids “decorate” me with a bag full of Sharpie markers. Then I went to the gym in a tank top and everyone pointed out the Sharpie bleed-through all over my shoulders. BEING A MOM IS FUN!]

Change is good . . . or at least inevitable (part 2 of 2)

I once gave up another new sport I’d fallen in love with, kickboxing, when I peeled a tendon off my shoulder bone hitting the bag too hard. For 9 months, I couldn’t do the things I loved. Just like now. A friend of mine just invited me to do a 10-hour hike this Saturday and I had to say no, because of the injury.

Change happens. It’s not that it’s good or bad, although I think most change is a crucible that leads to growth. If we let it be.

It helps to quantify the changes and why the differences inspire and enhance my life. From tennis and running, to cycling? I now have different legs than I had before–biker legs instead of tennis legs. I like them. I liked my tennis legs, but the different, evolving muscle shape is awesome now too. I also get to be outside enjoying the most beautiful scenery in the world.

I went biking Saturday with my friend Kristin, and on the downhill she said, “This is like therapy!” I said, “I know! Sometimes when I’m up here, I start laughing, because it’s all so beautiful it blows my mind. And sometimes I pray. I say, ‘God, thank you for this!'”

And I feel thankful that change–something bad, actually–threw me into these discoveries and metamorphoses that feel like they are “meant to be.”

So why do we resist change so much? It’s scary, I know.

I watch so many people making the shift from the standard American diet, to the whole-foods, mostly raw program that I teach. And I see their reluctance, their fears, their excuses, in the beginning. I see their challenges and hurdles, their small successes, their building excitement, their health improvements and weight loss.

Change we have no control over, that seems bad at the outset, often leads us somewhere good.

Through my divorce, I gained or rekindled two new hobbies/skills (tennis and skiing), new friends, a lot of self-awareness, learning and growth–and it frankly made me a better parent. Because of plantar fasciitis, I’m now spending lots of time biking the beautiful Provo and American Fork Canyons in 20- to 50-mile rides.

Through my son’s illness, I changed my entire family’s health, with nutrition, and wrote books and developed this site to share with others.

Change has cost me a LOT of effort and angst, but it’s made me so much better.

So why don’t we make change that we know is going somewhere good, more often? I wish I could convince everyone to eat whole foods with me. I know sick kids whose parents won’t make dietary changes–because they fear change.

“I won’t get to eat foods I like.” “I won’t know what to make.” “I’m sure it’s too expensive.” “My family won’t support me.” Just some of the excuses to avoid change. I’ve heard from hundreds of people with those complaints, who took a leap of faith, and ended up with glow and energy and chronic conditions reversed.

I am learning to be a person who embraces change and sees the challenge and promise in it. Come with me.

Change is Good . . . or at least inevitable (part 1 of 2)

So I’ve been thinking a lot about change.

I took up competitive tennis two years ago and it quickly became really meaningful in my life. I looked forward to workouts twice a week with my team and played three league seasons a year. It was something new and fun to think about and work on, in the hardest year of my life up to that point.

Then an injury came out of nowhere and stopped my running and tennis cold turkey. If I try to do either one, I can barely walk on my right foot all day.

I’ve had to switch sports for the foreseeable future. My tennis team went to districts and I was out. Now I’m sitting out an entire season. I can either whine about it or find something else I love. And I hate whining.

So I got a Cannondale, oh-so-light, carbon-frame road bike from an old college friend who owns bike shops around here. I go into the shop regularly and crow, “Do you guys know how much I love this bike?!” and they say, “Yeah yeah, we know! You want to marry it.”

I’m now decked out with all the accoutrements. Hand tire pump, Camelbak, hitch and bike rack on the car, odometer computer, clip-in cleats. (I haven’t yet succumbed to the cycling fashions–why do the clothes have to be so ugly?!)

I didn’t really WANT to be a biker, and I don’t have any friends who bike, but if I do something, I generally do it in a pretty big and committed way.

The first day I rode around for awhile and took my bike back in to the shop the next day. I asked Brian if I could have the clip-in pedals installed now, which he refused to do the day I left with the bike. NO, he said, you’re not ready. You want to wreck and die?

So I did another ride from my house in Lindon all the way to Vivian Park, up the canyon, where the Bonneville Trail ends. It’s so beautiful, animals and river and trees and breeze and mountains and so much green, and the smell of earth and trees.

Check out the photos of the terrible views I am forced to endure on my bike. Not to mention deer in the path, a flock of wild turkeys (I know where they live), and the extra protein I get from accidentally eating a lot of bugs.

At this point I’m starting to “get” the appeal of this sport. I go in and ask Brian again about the lock-in pedals, and he said “NO YOU CAN’T, give it three weeks!”

Next day, I get to Vivian Park and I call this guy I used to date who is a competitive cyclist about how the trail ends and I don’t know where to go. He said, “Turn right and go four miles up South Fork, great ride.” (See photo below of the turn to go up, with the twisty road sign.)

I said, “Isn’t it really steep? I’m not worried about getting up, but won’t coming down be scary?”

Silence for a minute. “Duh.” he said, “That’s the whole point, coming downhill!”

Great life lesson. Quit living in fear, just go for it. Don’t do all the work and be afraid to capitalize on the rewards. (Don’t think about the guy I met at the top of South Fork one day who had just spent two weeks in the hospital after a bike accident!)

So I did it. Downhill FAST. And O! M! G! I discovered my need for speed. I love it! Every day I don’t cycle now, I’m wishing I could. When you see my busted-up, bloody body on the side of the road when I hit a rock at 35 mph, don’t let your first thought be,

“Fat lot of good all those green smoothies did her.”

(Part 2, the whole point of this, tomorrow.)

Do the Opposite, Take 2

My girlfriends and I went to the Peter Cetera concert (musically bordering on awful, but good times nonetheless) this past weekend.

Apparently we were rather loud.

Do you remember my Do the Opposite story? I don’t know if I attract these people, or what.

Apparently a few of us, I won’t say which, were singing and laughing too much (like many others in the “lawn” crowd). A couple of women in front of us got up and moved. They never asked us to pipe down, or we would have.

A woman in their party, after they moved, came over and stood right in front of us. (See photo below.) Keep in mind we were on the lawn, and 100% of those attending the concert were sitting on the ground. She swayed to the music, blocking our view, and when we didn’t react angrily to her clear provocation, she moved backwards to stand on our blanket. She began to be rather obnoxious.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Tif was there, the only one my friends who was there in Long Beach for the first story. And Jennie reads my blog and knows the story well.

But my other friends Jamie and Lisa, and Jamie’s mom? They don’t know about Frowny and what went down in March in Long Beach.

So I turn to Jenni and Tif, and I say: “Do the opposite.” They totally get it. It’s where you don’t suck into an aggressive person’s negative emotional-energy vortex. You stay clear of it and choose a path far from what that person wants from you, which is to be reactionary and engage in their anger/hostility.

I offer Aggressive Lady some gum from somebody’s purse. She accepts. I ask her if she’d like to sit with us on our blanket. (If she had, I’d have put my arm around her and invited her to join in on the swaying sing-along.) She says no thanks, though she can’t help but respond to the hospitality. She seems to decide that she likes me, while my friends, not so much. She steps back further onto our blanket, onto some of our belongings. Jenni and I amiably move our stuff, scoot over to make room, and continue enjoying ourselves, laughing and joking and singing Chicago songs.

Jamie, Sue, and Lisa, though . . . they begin to confront and then argue with Aggressive Lady. One of them gets a security guard. A big scene ensues. I don’t really know anything about it because Jenni and Tif and I are continuing to have fun and blowing it off. (As you can see, photos below.)

Aggressive Lady succeeds in ruining three of my friends’ night. We explain Do the Opposite to them later. We tell them that by choosing the opposite of instinct, you don’t drain your battery being angry and miss the whole point of the concert–the R&R.

Anyway, this is my philosophy about the Mercola/Campbell debate. It’s an important issue. When I see irresponsible statements made in my field, I will address them and I will be plain. Some will get angry. A handful comments on my blog on both sides of the debate I didn’t accept because they weren’t constructive, just angry and misguided. I’ve often observed that people are more emotional about food than they are about religion or politics.

Now I’m done saying what I felt needed to be explained. I’m not going to give it excess energy. I want my energy for productive things. I believe Dr. Campbell feels the same. We’ve heard from Denise Minger here and I would imagine we’ll eventually hear from Dr. Mercola, and I welcome that. Thanks to everyone who has, and will, weigh in on this complicated but important debate.

If you have ever tried Doing The Opposite, let us know how it went here. I use it with my kids often, always with anywhere from good to great results. Once you start doing it, you never want to go back to allowing people to suck you into negative energy.

more tips and thoughts about feeding kids

So I was just hanging out with my friend Karl, a single dad to a 6-year old adopted son. He said his son has a very strong personality and he can’t “make” him eat anything. So Karl carefully observes what raw fruits and vegetables his sons likes, and leaves them around for him. As if he doesn’t care whether Jayden eats them or not. A bowl of carrot and celery sticks, left on the table–gone! A big bowl of cantaloupe–gone! It’s a great tip from an intuitive dad who watches for ways to help his son be healthy.

On Saturday, I had dinner with my friend Jennie before deciding last-minute to go to the BYU-U of Wash game where I paid a ridiculous sum for scalped tickets, for me and my sons.

I tease Jennie that for a really educated person with an advanced degree, she is surprisingly ignorant about nutrition. (But then, I have this reaction often, probably because I was blessed with a mother and grandmother who taught me well and were good models. Thus the genesis of this site and my books, to help fill that knowledge gap.)

As an example, my son came back from the salad bar and I told him I meant to suggest he get some FRESH pineapple, not CANNED. Jennie asked,

“Why, is the canned not as good for you?”

And so we were talking about her upbringing and how the reason she doesn’t know anything is that she simply does what her mother did. For instance, she asked, “Is Jell-O good for you?” (She really did ask me that.)   I told her it’s just sugar and a little gelatin and chemical food coloring, and she said, “When I make dinner for company, my friends ask why I always include Jell-O, and I have no reason except that my Mom always did. When I think dinner, I think Jell-O.”

This is pretty profound, if you take a minute to consider it. This should get us through those moments of discouragement when our kids complain, because habit and modeling are so powerful well into adulthood.

As for me, I simply can’t serve a dinner that doesn’t have a raw green salad. Even though I didn’t get along with my mom as I was growing up, she absolutely always served a huge green salad. So that is what I know and understand and copied.

Once again, I have this message for you: stay the course, teach them correct principles.

Mid-Life Mojo, part 2 of 2

Since I turned 40, I have done a bunch of stuff on my bucket list, for instance:

  1. Write three books (two published)
  2. Travel in 19 countries
  3. Take up a competitive sport and advance in it
  4. Start skiing again
  5. Do service in a 3rd world country with my kids
  6. Fall in love (that didn’t work out, but now I know it can happen!)

I’m not done, of course. I’M JUST WARMING UP! That’s the thing about shifting some of your unhealthy habits to healthy ones–you get YOUNGER and you tap energy you’d forgotten long ago that you once had. You get to do stuff on your bucket list!

I got on the back of Dixon’s Harley to drive the Alpine Loop and I was enthralled, enamored, blown away. “OMG!” was my out-loud reaction. (My secret reaction was, “Move out of my way and let me drive!”) But I am intimidated because I’m not mechanical and that kick-start thing reminds me of the lawnmower rip cord. I love mowing but hate dislocating my shoulder using the ripcord. I texted Dix and he said, DUH, they start with a button nowadays! Yay!

So, new things for my bucket list for the next 18 months? In no particular order:

  1. Go to Africa
  2. Go to Australia / New Zealand
  3. Write a couple more books
  4. Start a new web site
  5. Hold a GSG retreat
  6. Buy a Harley and learn to ride it

Somebody hold my feet to the fire and ask me how many of these I’ve done, in a year.

Please make a bucket list of what you’re going to do with all your newfound energy. Don’t let your conversations when you’re 65 be about what your cardiologist said about your need for stents and open-heart surgery, and how much your joints hurt, and how you aren’t digesting your food and the Metamucil just isn’t working any more, and how your Prilosec is bothering your stomach, and . . . .

(In case you’re wondering, that’s part of a real live conversation I had with a 65-year old person who is no longer LIVING but rather is SLOWLY DYING and it’s by CHOICE because she is reaping the sad consequences of lifestyle choices. It’s not just depressing to listen to, it’s got to be a nightmare to LIVE that life! And why? So that you can cling to the one pleasure you have left–In ‘N Out Burger?)

I have been accused of having a mid-life crisis. No way! (Where’s the crisis?)

I’m just LIVING in mid-life rather than settling into an armchair and beginning to die. When did this become the standard?! Join me for more Mid-Life Mojo than you ever dreamed possible.

Borrowing Dad’s Mini-Cooper . . . and his attitude

I kinda wrecked my car. Today my dad met me at the auto body shop where the owner and I are now on a first-name basis, since this is the third time this year I’ve had pointless parking-lot fender benders. My dad came so he could lend me his cute yellow Mini-Cooper for a couple of days.

As I was sitting in the front seat re-familiarizing myself with the controls, I could feel him staring at me. Glancing over, I saw a nostalgic look on his face I am very familiar with as a parent myself. “When you’re with me, do you ever,” he asked, “go back to when you were a little girl? Kind of feel like one again?”

I smiled. “Well, I know what you mean because I look at my kids and suddenly see them as a little child again. I was doing that with Kincade the other day, looking at how he’s a year from adulthood but imagining him as the 6-year old boy carrying his pet chameleon around. And suddenly I was shocked: ‘What are you doing with those whiskers on your chin!'”

So I start the car and my dad says, “You don’t need to drive me home. I’m just going to run it.” And he takes off down the highway, miles from his house.

Oh my goodness, this bodes well for my future. I love that dude. He’s so upbeat all the time–you can’t bring a depressed mood or be whiny with my dad. He’ll just ignore it and be all cheery and spunky till you either knock it off or get really annoyed. He has so much energy, always undertaking projects. If he calls me, he starts with, “How ya doin’?!” I find myself saying “Great!” even if I just wrecked my car and broke up with my boyfriend.

You’ve gotta find your lodestar. That person who is way ahead of you in life and has consistently, one day at a time, lived a wholesome life and looks and acts like YOU want to, when you’re that age. I know I write about my dad all the time, but really, he is the living proof that you don’t have to slide into sedentary, substandard, subsistence living as you age.

p.s. Got a few emails about this, immediately–I didn’t just break up with a boyfriend (mostly bc I don’t have one), but thanks for the concern. It was just a hypothetical example of how my dad lightens everything up even if you’re having a rotten day.