Do You Ask Yourself the Tough Questions?

Have you ever felt as though you were living your life for everyone else? Has there ever been a time when you stopped to explore the reasoning behind the decisions you’ve made and who they most benefited? Have you been living for you…or just to please everyone else?
These are the moments when I suddenly feel lost and out of touch with who I am. A moment amidst depression and reflection of how much of my life is already over.

Oh how much I used to dream of a future and now I find myself planning for it instead.
Wondrous dreams have been faded by the reality of time and I find myself feeling hopeless.

No sense living like this…Sad Life.

So, instead…

I ask myself the hard questions! I put myself on the spot just as I fear someone else will.

I ask…

Wait a minute, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Where am I going? When am I going to snap out of it and how come I lost myself again?

I begin to remember after digging through the thick sheet of disappointment I spread upon myself that I used to know who I was and I miss that person!

I mistake confidence for arrogance sometimes and I have to remind myself that it is okay to say you are good at something without being full of yourself or snotty.

It’s a wonderful reminder that you are special, you have a purpose, but you’ll only achieve it if you have confidence in yourself!

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My Journey Back to Raw Food Begins…

When I was in my early twenties, living in Seattle, I was an avid Raw Foodist. It was the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life. I felt amazing, looked amazing and took great pride in the person I had become. Over the years, my life changed and I have taken a massive detour from the path that I was on back then. My boyfriend (at the time) and I had pitched in together on a dehydrator, a juicer and a good quality blender so we were all set in the appliance area. We had a constant rotation of flax-seed crackers, buckwheat crust and variety of raw dips such as humus and guacamole. After we got in to the rhythm of the raw food lifestyle our only challenge was balancing our social events and making sure not to consume too much alcohol. When you are eating strictly raw organic foods, one glass of wine can have the effect of several. Not to mention the after effects it has on your body…talk about a hang-over! Ideally we should not have been drinking at all, but we were young and very social so that was just not going to happen.

When we separated in the Spring of 2008, he took possession of the kitchen accessories, which made it a bit of a challenge for me to keep up the lifestyle. Besides the fact that after moving back to the Midwest we had already ‘fallen off the wagon’ in reference to eating healthy anyway. We slowly started consuming cooked food because it was easier and less expensive. Our drinking also increased after the passing of my grandfather and our eventual break up. We remained vegetarian for quite some time after that, but both of us eventually jumped back on the meat wagon too. In the last few years, I have been living on a steady diet of cheese, beef and beer. After all it is the Wisconsin way!

When I moved to Denver, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life. No more size 5 jeans for me! I had been in the double digits for several years and I was not happy with myself. I knew I needed to do something.

I pulled out all of my material on Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Low-carb food. I knew I would need to make a slow transition and most importantly I knew I needed to be realistic when setting my goals. I am in my thirties now and it is not reasonable to think that I will ever be at the weight I was when I was twenty-two. My body has changed too much. Believe it or not there is a great deal of muscle hiding under all this fat 🙂

At this point in my life I don’t think I will ever go back to being a diehard Raw Vegan, but if I can get myself to being at least 80% Raw Vegan consistantly I will be a happy camper. Although, I remember transitioning before and it becomes much easier the further along you are in the process, so that may change down the road. To start, my main focus was to start eliminating all my unhealthy habits. For example, the amount of soda I would consume was beyond embarrassing. This was the first to go! In place of the soda, I would drink water, something I rarely do. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I am not a big fan of bread, so these were easy things to let go of.

Once I jumped those hurdles, I started researching the many other diets out there to determine their commonalities and took these in to account when planning for my transition back to a mostly raw food diet. Some of the commonalities I have found are:

1. Don’t eat anything at least 3 hours before going to bed.

2. Increase your water intake to help with bloating due to dehydration.

3. Cut out soda and sugary drinks completely

4. Walk or run for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. 15-30 minutes twice a day is the best.

5. Watch your carbohydrate intake.

6. Eat a healthy filling breakfast.

These all seemed easy enough for me not only remember, but to actually execute. I also decided not to jump on the scale every morning. If you do not see what you want to see, this can ruin your entire day! Instead, I decided to weigh myself monthly instead. As women, we can fluctuate between 1-3 pounds daily according to my old nutritionist, so weighing yourself daily doesn’t really give you an accurate account of your progress. I knew I would start to see it in the way that my clothes fit anyway.

I still  have my morning cup of coffee, but instead of 3-4 tablespoons of sugar (naughty!) and creamer, I have it with Stevia and rice milk. I make sure to always eat breakfast. This is something that I have never been good about and it is very, very important. I usually can’t get down more than a banana, but I try to sneak in some yogurt or an additional piece of fruit if I have time. Ideally I should be having a much larger breakfast, but I physically cannot eat more than this or I feel sick.

I have almost eliminated the amount of meat and high level carbohydrate foods that I consume. A typical day for me looks something like this:

Breakfast – Banana, 1 cup of coffee, and maybe an additional piece of fruit or yogurt.

Snack – A handful of raw nuts (I prefer walnuts or almonds) or maybe a small bag of pretzels if I am really feeling munchie.

Lunch – Humus and raw veggies. Once a week I will allow myself a sandwich from the deli or a prepared salad & soup

Snack – Most of the time I skip this snack and just have a flavored water, but if I am still hungry after lunch, this is usually where I will sneak in a piece of cheese or some beef jerky once or twice a week. If you know me once or twice a week is a huge improvement. I have a very strong addiction to beef and cheese 🙂

Dinner – A huge salad or a small salad with a piece of Salmon or Tilapia

On the days when I have a large lunch, I will have a small dinner and skip the afternoon snack. That way I don’t consume too many calories in one day. There are still days when I splurge and have some fries or something like that, but not very often. I walk to and from work every day, which is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, but I have also decided to introduce another challenge in to my routine. I live on the 12th floor of my building and our elevators are really slow. As I was standing there waiting the other day, I thought to myself about the prospect of taking the stairs.

Over the weekend, I made my first attempt. I needed to take the recycling down and I always hate doing that in the elevator anyway. I always feel silly standing there with everyone else holding a large garbage bag filled with recyclables, so I figured this was a better time than any to make my attempt. The way down was easy. The way up as you can imagine was not so easy, but I did it. by the time I reached the 6th floor I was completely out of breath and ready to exit the stairwell and hop on the elevator. I didn’t though. Instead, I walked up two more flights, stopped to catch my breath and then continued the journey up. By the time I reached the 12th floor, I was exhausted, but I was so damn proud of myself!

The next day, my calves were killing me, but I pushed myself to take the steps down one more time. I took the elevator up, because I didn’t want to push myself too much and tear something. I am still feeling it in my calves a little today, but I think by tomorrow I will be ready to try again. I keep reminding myself how great I will feel when I can make both trips without feeling the intense burn I am feeling now; it keeps me motivated.

Since March 1st, I have been following the same routine. I have lost 3-4 lbs as of March 31st. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but what is significant is my pants size! When I started, I was a size 16. Today, I am comfortably wearing a size 12 and have been for several weeks. In my opinion that is an amazing change in such a short period of time. If I continue on this rate, I may be waving goodbye to the double digits in another month or so! I know I will reach a plateau at some point, but hopefully it will be when I reach size 9 🙂

My temp job will be ending on 4/20 and I will be off until June working on marketing the book and adding inventory to my Etsy shop. I have decided this would be a great time to also challenge myself by doing the 28 day Raw Foods on a Budget Bootcamp offered by Brandi Rollins. I will have the free time to really jump back in to it and I am extremely excited. She provides you with everything you need to plan out your method of attack and keeps it as inexpensive as possible. My roomie and I will both be doing it, so we will have one another to lean on, which is great because it really helps to have someone’s support. Between the two of us, we have all the tools we need to be successful. The excitement is building already. I cannot wait to feel healthy again, it has been a very long time 🙂

Cheers to Raw Food!

New Horizons

I have done a lot of thinking and planning since my last post. I have been dealing with some highly emotional issues over the past week or so, which I have been dialoguing in my original blog: Insane Roots.

For those of you who do not follow that blog, basically my biological mother (the subject of my book) has popped back in to my life along with several other strangers who were confused by my last name and believed that I may be their relations. As it turns out I am not related to them, which is actually a good thing because it would have shattered the small amount of truth about my biological father that I have been relying on all these years. Needless to say, it has been a bit of a whirlwind!

I can not tell you how many times I have been in the same situation that I was last week. Several years will pass without any word from my mother (mostly due to her time in prison) and then all of a sudden she will reappear to do a number on my psyche. However this time, I found myself in a much better place mentally to be able to handle the situation. I don’t know if it is because I made the decision years ago to cut ties with her or if it was the realization of how pleasant my time without her has been or maybe it was a combination of both. Either way, I am so thankful to have such a strong grasp on the situation that I was able to do what needed to be done without much indecision. As the years roll on and I become more and more in tune with who I am and what I want, I can see my confidence level begin to rise.

For many years, I have struggled with my self-worth and continued to sell myself short in regards to my abilities. I have always been my worst critic. I would cut myself down regularly and became mentally and physically broken. Getting ready in the mornings, I would remind myself of all the ways I had failed in regards to my physical appearance. I would tell myself I was fat and disgusting pretty much every time I looked in the mirror. It was a very sad existence and I realize now that in addition to the fact that none of this was true, I was setting myself up for failure.

Upon moving to Denver, I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to make a new start. I would no longer set limitations on myself or fill my mind with self-doubt and ridicule. I also decided to begin working through all the painful moments in my past instead of pretending that everything was okay and go on continuing to struggle to keep it all inside.

Over the past few months I have kept my promise and I truly feel like a completely different person. My morning routine is now filled with uplifting mantras rather than insults and I find myself reaching for dreams I didn’t even know I had. I tell myself I am beautiful, powerful and wise. I don’t obsess over the scale or the occasional blemish on my face. I am learning to embrace my true essence.

For so long I have let fear rule my life. I worried constantly about my appearance and the opinion of others. I was afraid to be confident and self-assured, because I didn’t want to appear as though I was arrogant and narcissistic. I understand now that being courageous, hopeful and bold does not mean that you are full of yourself or that you believe you are better than everyone else. It simply means that you are content with your own beliefs and that you believe in yourself against all odds.

Setting goals for yourself that seem to be unreachable does not make you presumptuous or over-confident. Instead, it makes you fearless and daring enough to reach for the stars!

The biggest push for me to gain control over these self-defeating emotions was when I sent in the final manuscript of my book. I knew I needed to get over my worry of coming across vain and over-confident if I was ever going to be successful in promoting it. Self-promotion was not something I was particularly looking forward to, but it is a necessary evil in the publishing world, so I knew I needed to do my best to embrace it.

I have a  conference call with my publisher that is rapidly approaching and I am sure they will be inquiring as to what steps I have taken in regards to marketing. One of the items on the list for me to have completed was to create a fan page on Facebook (for the book). I have been putting this off for months, because of the above mentioned concerns. However, I knew that the procrastination needed to stop if I was ever going to create a successful marketing platform.

After going back and forth with myself several times, I finally mustered up the courage to create the page: Insane.Roots.A.Memoir. In two days time, I had more than 60 likes! I sent requests to everyone in my friends list and I am up to almost 80 likes as of today. The first few days, I had some mixed feelings about who responded to the request and who didn’t. I started to take it as a personal dis from anyone who didn’t respond, but then I reminded myself that it is not about that. We all have people in our lives that are more of an acquaintance than a close friend and many of them exist on our friends list, but we rarely ever interact with them. Is it really feasible to expect them to support you in everything you do? No and it should not be taken personally.

I realize that my book is not everyone’s cup of tea and that is completely fine. I am just so proud of myself for having the courage to stick my neck out and ‘go public’ as I like to say. This in itself is a very big step for me and I am not sure I would have been brave enough to take this step a few months ago. I am blessed to have the support that I do and I am beyond thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life.

Times sure are changing and I look forward to the road ahead as treacherous as it may be!

I know I have said it before, but it is just so fitting, so I will say it again…

Believe in yourself and the rest will follow 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Re-assessing Motivation

This weekend there were several moments when I could feel the funkiness approaching and I had to do my best to avoid the fumes of self ridicule that were seeping in to my happy little world. I had great expectations for this weekend and I barely put a dent in the mounting creativity that I have had to put on the shelf throughout my busy week. I could hear it calling to me each evening and early Saturday morning, but sadly all motivation was lost. I tried giving myself a kick-start by formulating a weekend ‘to do’ list (In case you didn’t know, I love lists!). No joy. Instead, the list had the opposite effect. It served as more of a reminder of all the projects that had escaped me throughout the week and I began to feel overwhelmed.

On Sunday, I tried to push through the dark clouds of laziness and forced myself to work on my photo organizing project. I figured that it was a good place to start, since it didn’t require much brain power to edit and organize my ever-growing collection of photography. I am planning to launch a line of greeting cards displaying my photo images on Esty in the next month or so and all I basically needed to do was organize my portfolio in to various sets (i.e. locations, dates, etc.). Once this is done, I will need to put in a bulk order and work on the listings.  My hope was to have this all completed by the end of the weekend. After about an hour, I stepped away from the computer and decided to take a break and get some reading done.

I am reading the 2nd book in the Day by Day Armageddon series; Beyond Exhile by J.L. Bourne. It’s great!  So, I curled up with my cat and escaped in to the fantasy world of Bourne’s modern-day apocalypse for a few hours until I began to daydream as I read the pages and realized that I was no longer following the story, but further procrastinating the completion of my photo task. I put my book down and went back to editing and organizing.

I managed to finish editing all of the photos from my trip to Guatemala and Belize. To give you an idea of how long I have been putting this off, this trip was in December of 2012. As I was working on organizing my portfolio in to categories, I came up with an idea of starting a feature on this blog to showcase my photos and gather input from my readers. As I mentioned earlier, I am interested in launching a line of greeting cards, but I am not sure which photos will be the most popular. Without this information, I would hate to put a printing order in for photos that are not of interest to anyone and/or end up selling out of the popular photos too soon. I am thinking of making it a weekly post and I have not yet decided as to whether I should have it on a set day or just ensure that it is done weekly. I am not a fan of limitation, so I will most likely just stick with any day of the week as long as it is done weekly. I look forward to getting your input, before delving too far in to the launch!

Having said that, I have been doing some thinking this morning about what fueled my very unmotivated weekend. I am beginning to fall back in to the uneventful 9-5 and I find myself coming home without the motivation to do anything, which means I put it all off until the weekend. Hence, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by all the tasks I have before me. Looking back, I can see that I am again on the same path as before when I began to drift away from my dreams and float further in the direction of non-fulfillment. I cannot let this happen again!

When I first moved to Denver, I took several months off from working to reconnect with myself and finish my manuscript. I thought long and hard about what I would do when the time came for me to start working again and decided that the best thing for me to do would be to work with a staffing agency to fill my schedule with temp jobs, rather than full-time employment. I am a very hard worker, I am dedicated and loyal. These are great qualities, but partnered with my inability to put my needs before those of my employer, this usually results in my life becoming my work. This would be wonderful, if I was doing what I really wanted to do, but I am currently at the cross-roads on my career path and unfortunately I am not yet “qualified” to do what I love yet. My dream (as I have mentioned many times before) would be to make a living writing, editing, or selling antiques and photography. I received my cloak of legitimacy from the University of Washington, but unfortunately there are not many opportunities in these fields for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and very little experience otherwise.

My book will be out soon, but I don’t expect it’s release to secure my financial future. Although, it may help to get my foot in the door in the writing field (fingers crossed). However, in the meantime I will still need to remind myself of the financial and emotional struggles I may face if I do not continue to endure the punching of the clock. It is important to not lose sight of this and it is equally important to remain motivated during the limited free time that I have. My current temporary stint has ended up being twice as long as planned and although the money is nice, I can feel it taking an emotional toll on my psyche. I guess the positive to all of this is that I am now able to recognize what is happening and therefore have a better chance of over coming the obstacles that lie ahead. I just need to keep moving. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I just need to keep my head up and my eyes peeled forward.

I believe in a higher power and I know there is so much more in store for me, I just have to be patient and have faith. This is sometimes easier said than done, but it is a challenge I am anxious to overcome. Patience is not one of my strongest qualities and I strongly believe it is worth the time required to embrace it. I just need to stay focused!

I welcome anyone’s advice and as always thank you for reading!!