New York in the Spring

This past St. Patrick’s Day weekend I found myself walking the streets of New York City just as I did ten years ago to the date. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is the only time I’ve ever been to New York. One day, I hope to be there in the fall and receive a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.
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This trip was different than the last ones. I didn’t go for a journalism conference as I had done in years past. I didn’t go to be a tourist or even for work. I went because God said to go.

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While I am not ready to go into full detail on what New York is and what it means, I did want to post about it to remember. To remember that He is moving. His Kingdom is everywhere. And most importantly for me and in this season of life, obedience includes suffering, joy, celebration, growth, pain, fulfillment, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and relief. It can mean a whole heck of a lot of things that I sometimes forget.

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And I am ever so grateful for His Love and that He has invited and sent me out to follow Him.

5 Books of 2018 (ish) So Far

I set an annual goal to read as many books as I am old. So, this year I am reading 32 books, and I am currently 1/3 on my way to goal. Instead of waiting until December to share my favorites of the year, here’s a post where I share my favorite five so far.

Here’s my favorite 5 (so far)

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The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
Young Adult Fiction

This charming tale shares the semi-whimsical story of adopted sisters who are wrestling with identity and destiny. It’s a delightful fairy tale that I couldn’t help fall in love with. I downloaded it for free on Amazon First Reads, and sometimes it’s hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit. It’s by no means perfect, but this warming story of hope and love is what I needed to read this winter.

Purchase it on Amazon

30133224Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Science Fiction Fantasy

Veronica Roth has returned after writing her Divergent series with her new sophomore series, Carve the Mark. As a writer myself, I am so impressed with her world building detail. This densely rich world draws the reader in — albeit slowly — but once one commits to the first act her characters will take one on an intriguing ride into a world that I myself cannot wait to revisit with the next installment this April.

Purchase it on Amazon

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The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher L. Heuertz
Nonfiction/Spirituality

There are some books that after reading you realize you will probably read it 15 more times throughout the course of your life. It’s a like a required reading for your soul. This is one of the books that falls into that category. As Chris explains, the enneagram is a sacred map to your soul. It’s more than just a personality test you take online. It’s a way to discover how God uniquely made you and how to connect with your Creator through spiritual discernment, healing, and disciplines.

Purchase it on Amazon

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How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Fiction

This charming book was made for someone like me, who dreams of owning a bookshop in a quaint town where each patron’s love story is just as important as the ones in the books I sell. This story follows Emilia as she tries to keep her father’s bookshop from closing, while at the same time, she is discovering that this small Cotswold town has a bookshop full of true love stories!

Purchase it on Amazon

35793266Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz
Nonfiction/Spirituality

There are some books that arrive when you need them. There are some books that you want to slowly read each chapter, digesting each page as if its overwhelming truth would form you into a stronger, more faithful, believer in Christ. This is one of them. I adored this book. Phileena shares her physical and spiritual pilgrimage and offers prayer practices to help one in their own journey. From sleepfulness to wakefulness, her journey has led me into a deeper relationship with God. So yeah, read it.

Purchase it on Amazon

 

What do you think of my list? Share your book recommendations in the comments below and/or follow me on Goodreads.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Listen all of y’all it’s a (self) sabotage

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This is the face of a woman who knows she has set a precedent to take photos but is just not in the mood.

So, after a week of trying to self-sabotage I came out losing weight. How did that happen?

First off,  this week I lost weight and I am now .6 pounds away from 30 pounds of weight loss, which is insane to think. That’s a toddler. I have lost a toddler. Good thing I am not a mom or I would ask someone to report me to the proper authorities.

Anyways! I am getting closer to goal, but my attitude is currently very salty. And somehow, this past week I failed in self-sabotage.

I didn’t track as much. I ate Easter-style candy, cookies, and high in points Starbucks. I even went to the grocery store with the intention of buying no-no foods — a self-sabotage excursion — and yet, none of the foods appealed to me (more on that later).

But, why the self-sabotage?

I am under a lot of stress, my why is not holding up, and it was the week before I started a period. Three potent ingredients for a disaster.

And yet, somehow, through it all, I still lost 1.2 pounds. An unexpected mercy, if I do say so myself.

Why didn’t my self-sabotage work?

As I said before, I went to the grocery store to purchase no-no foods but none of it was appealing enough. What used to call out to me: soda, chips, pastries, etc., didn’t appeal to me. Not only were they not worth the points or the money, they were not worth wasting my taste buds on them. I didn’t desire them anymore.

I realized that my body deserves better and I was instinctively reflecting that truth in my decisions.

And honestly, I couldn’t ask for more personal growth than that.

As I said on this blog before, my goal is not just to lose weight but to make Weight Watchers a lifestyle. I want to live a better, healthier version of me (inside and out). So, choosing not to eat unhealthy foods is a good start, but the next step is focusing on core issues. Sure, I can change behavior, but changing heart and will is much harder. When I have a salty weak, what do I go to? Six months ago I went to foods that destroyed my body, but this week it was different. In my weakness, I still chose foods that were not destroying me. Sure, some were still high in points, but nothing compared to what I would have chosen six months ago.

And I thank God for this foundational change.

My desires have changed.

I have changed.

And my body’s transformation is reflecting my heart’s transformation. 

 

Weight Watchers Wednesday: I am in a new decade of weight!

Processed with VSCO with q5 presetIt’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for another edition of my weekly posts on my Weight Watchers journey.

Today I broke into the 180’s, and as my WW leader says, “I am in a new decade!”

A Huge Milestone

I haven’t been in the 180’s since my senior year of college, which is ten years ago. And that was something that only lasted a month! My body has been a consistent 200+ for quite a long time (except for the random season of 160s after my appendix exploded and nearly killed me my sophomore year). So, this new weight loss (I am 187.4 lb) is a huge milestone for me. It’s something I have been fighting toward since I started WW six months ago.

To my surprise, this week I lost three pounds! (Hence the photo though please ignore my mess of fingers — I am accident prone.)

So, What Did I Learn This Week? How Did I Lose 3 Pounds?

It’s not necessarily, a step 1: do this, step 2: do this, and you will lose three pounds kind of situation. I have learned for my own body I have weeks where I will lose multiple pounds and others that I maintain — though I may have done exactly the same thing for both weeks. So this is some things I learned and discovered this week that helped toward my overall weight loss.

  • I discovered Black Bean Soup is 0 points (here’s the recipe I sort of used) and it’s been the perfect lunch. It’s economical, budget friendly, and delicious.
  • My gym has been closed for repairs and will be closed for another two weeks, so I am learning different ways to exercise and also concentrating more on what I can control — what I put in my mouth.
  • After hitting the 25-pound weight loss, I celebrated a bit too much and ate my weekly points and then some! I could have continued over-eating and “celebrating” but I instead turned to focus on my goal of breaking through the 180’s and it motivated me to keep going.
  • I am a sucker for rewards.

IMG_3390.JPGI like rewards!

As a reward for losing 25 pounds, I purchased some bath bombs from LUSH for a job well done.

And for my next reward, I will be buying a dress from ModCloth.

I have two more pounds to go to hit 30 pounds of weight loss! This is motivating me to keep going, keep eating well, and to keep choosing what is good for me.

 

 

Until next week!

Weight Watchers Wednesday: 25 Pounds Down

So it happened, I have lost 25 pounds since joining Weight Watchers in August 2017. It averages to be about 1 pound per week, which according to WW is healthy weight loss.

So, what is one tip that I can share?

Set yourself up for success

I set myself up for success by bringing snacks, meal planning, and budgeting. I set myself up by going to sleep early and putting my phone outside my room at night. I set myself up by budgeting points that allows me to eat my favorite sweets so that I don’t go into full rebellion mode and EAT ALL OF THE THINGS. I set myself up by giving myself as much grace as possible and thanking my past self for making those good decisions.

The Case of The Eggs

Case in point, I had brought some hard boiled eggs to work and left them in the fridge and forgot about them. Later in the week I was starving and was considering going out and grabbing an unhealthy snack from Starbucks when I saw my eggs in the fridge. I yelled, “Thank you past Tawny!” and ate them instead of Starbucks.

Thanking yourself for good decisions made and giving yourself grace when poor decisions are made sets one up for success.

Cultivate a community

I know I said one tip, but what can I say? I have lots of thoughts!

I wouldn’t be able to do this without my community either.

I have dear friends who have been doing Weight Watchers for years and others who joined after me and they make the difference. Also, going to the weekly meetings are a great encouragement. Writing this weekly blog keeps me accountable and encourages me to keep going. And sharing my progress on Marco Polo with friends spurs me on.

Having a support network is essential and I am ever so grateful to have mine. 

Until week,

cheers!

40 Days of The Centering Prayer

Centering PrayerThis Lenten season I have been incorporating the Centering Prayer in my daily time with God. It’s been nearly a week and I must say, I have a lot to learn. I am so far from being perfect at it, but honestly that’s not the point of this prayer. It’s not to be the best or to do it correctly, but to spend time in the presence of God. To center one’s life on His Presence.

So, what is the Centering Prayer?

The Centering Prayer is essentially a prayer that invites one into the Presence of God. It’s a silent prayer. It’s a prayer that prepares your heart and mind to quietly rest in God. And it’s a rebellious act against this loud, demanding world.

Unlike other prayers, it’s main objective is communion rather than conversation with God.

So, how do you do it?

I have been following the Gravity Center’s instructions:

Instruction

  1. Sit in an upright, attentive posture in a way that allows for an erect spine and open heart. Place hands in your lap.
  2. Gently close your eyes and bring to mind your sacred word, image or breath as your symbol to consent to the presence and action of God within you. Your sacred symbol is intended to be the same every time you pray. It helps to ground you in the present moment, allowing you to give your undivided loving, yielded attention to God. Choose a name for God or a characteristic for God like, Love, Peace, etc.
  3. Silently, with eyes closed, recall your sacred symbol to begin your prayer. As you notice your thoughts, gently return to your sacred word. Do this however many times you notice your thoughts.
  4. When your prayer period is over, transition slowly from your prayer practice to your active life.

It is recommended to pray in this fashion for a minimum of 20 minutes, two times a day. Start out slowly with initial prayer periods of five to ten minutes, working up to the desired length of time.

40 Days of the Centering Prayer

My goal is to spend the remaining years of my life doing this prayer, but this Lenten season I was compelled to have a concentrated effort in learning this prayer.

It’s been nearly a week and I must confess that my 9W1 (see Enneagram) is at odds. I desire the silence and peace that this prayer offers, but I also desire to do it right and perfectly and my inner critic tells me that I am doing it wrong and that I should stop.

Thankfully, I have a God that speaks louder than my own inner critic and He encourages me to continue. He tells me that the point is not to do it right, but to just be with Him. And honestly, that’s what I want most in this world — to spend time in the presence of my Lord and Savior. And I get to do it!

This prayer reminds me how blessed I am to have a God who loves and who desires communion with His Creation. So, why not spend the remaining parts of my life learning to do something that I will get to do for eternity? It’s the already, but not yet.

I am pre-gaming for Eternity, friends.

Are you doing anything for Lent? Let me know in the comments so I can pray for you!

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Ooh La La

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Another week of Weight Watchers. Here are some updates and thoughts.

Non-Scale Victory: I can fit into my Ooh la la sweater! I haven’t been able to wear this sweater in years. And my pants are fitting funky — ooh la la!

What I learned: When I am sick I have no self-control. I spent all last week with the flu and I am finally back to normal as of yesterday. And in that week I did not follow the program. In fact, I said yes to everything my body wanted. “Oh you want a soda?” YES. “Oh you want chips?” BBQ it is!

Surprisingly, I didn’t gain weight. I maintained. And I am okay with that.

We all have our off weeks. And the point of this program is not to quickly lose weight — but to make this a lifestyle. I am doing a marathon here with my health and I will take my time to the finish line. I don’t want to rush because I know how I do — it won’t be sustainable and I want to be healthy for the long haul.

So, I’ll take a week where I maintained my weight. I’ll take a week in which I ate more cookies than I should have (did I mention the cookies? Oh so good!).