Monday, April 27, 2015

Being Validated Feels Pretty Darn Good!

I've been writing this weekly blog since 1999, that's a long time! The reach is not far in terms of numbers of people, but it seems the actual number of people who read my Monday Motivator is not as important as the one person it impacts with light and joy. Last week I wrote about an unhappy mindset, someone who lives not allowing themselves to live in the good that surrounds them. I got an email from someone I've known since high school (a long time ago!) who is one of the relatively few people who read my blog, here is what he had to say and a brief exchange:

*Hi Kathy,
Just wanted to say thanks for sharing gems like this. I've been amazed at how dedicated and persistent you've been in sending out these weekly motivational messages and just how bright a star you really are. Your efforts to reach beyond your immediate circle, beyond family and close friends, to share warmth and inspiration to anyone who wishes to receive it, attest to your superb character.  
You deserve, at the very least, to know the impact you've had on this reader.
I'm very much a private person. I'm meditative and introspective. This works for me, but at times means I suffer from living too much in my own head. It can create a debilitating isolation at times. Your messages are therapy. They break through and allow me to break free.

WOW! I'm not sure what to say, this email made my day. It's super crazy because I was thinking about you this week, just 3 days before getting this email. I was reminded of working for Lucky in RC and was sharing some stories of our time in Orangevale. It got me thinking and wondering how you are and what you look like. I know, what you look like? Yeah, I was wondering. I smiled and headed into class. 

I hope you are well and thank you again for writing to me, I will save this email and if it's okay, I may even post it (without your name, of course). Have a great weekend!
Big smiles! Kathy

*Big smiles back, Kathy. 
Of course you can use my email anyway you like. It's small reciprocation for all you've done. How I look, huh? Well, let's just say I haven't aged as well as you. Judging by your profile pic, you're as stunning as ever. I think it has as much to do with what shines from within as from your physicality. Let me add to my previous sentiments about what impresses me about you... I love the family life you've built and nurtured. Your writings convey just how much you, Dave, and Mason love and support each other, and it's so encouraging to see this kind of family bond, through the good and the not so good. I would say that you're lucky to have such a family, but I think you'd agree that you've created your own luck. 

Pretty cool, huh? I'm humbled and it makes me feel super, crazy good to hear this. To know I make a difference in someones life is pretty much what makes life worth living, wouldn't you say? Today reach out to someone who touches you like I've touched my friend. I guarantee you, it will make their day beyond their wildest dreams!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thank You Barilla Pasta!!

This is a little bonus post, you all know I had a blast being a part of America Cooks with Chefs back in December and January, right? Well, a few weeks back I got a BIG box in the mail and it was chock full of all kinds of fun pasta stuff. Check it out, a Calphalon pasta pot, lots of Barilla pasta including some of their special collections, a lovely pasta serving bowl, wooden utensils, a pasta tin, a cheese grater and a spoon rest. Oh, and lest I forget, a years supply of Barilla pasta! Yes, 52 free boxes of pasta! That's alotta pasta.

Some of the things I learned through my time with America Cooks and Barilla is that pasta will not make you fat, excess calories will. Pasta is a good complex carb food. When you pair pasta with high fiber vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, you get a healthy, filling meal.

Pasta is good for you and the planet. Plant-based foods including pasta have a lower environmental impact. Barilla pasta is non-GMO, I know this is important to many people.

As soon as I opened my box, I immediately decided we were having my favorite pasta recipe for dinner, Mason's Funky spaghetti but I make it a little differently than he does. We used the bucatini which is like a thicker spaghetti noodle and it has a hole in the middle, yes, it's hollow!

The recipe is super simple, lots of color cherry tomatoes, olive oil (just a splash), fresh chopped garlic, basil, salt and pepper. In Mason's version, he crushes all of this together with his hands. My preference is to give it a few whirls in my food processor, I don't like it puree'd, but a more fine, consistent chop. I add my hot al dente pasta right from the water into my tomatoes and mix it all up with a bit of the pasta water - it's SO good! I eat it for dinner hot and then I dream about having lunch the next day and eating it cold.

Finally, our little family of three does not need all this wonderful food so we gave some of the coupons for free pasta to our local food bank and we put together a lovely Barilla Pasta basket for Mason's fifth grade class at what else, his schools annual spaghetti feed fundraiser! The basket brought in almost $80! Thank you Barilla and America Cooks with Chefs! I am just 7 lbs away from my weight loss goal with Weight Watchers and I love that I don't have to eliminate pasta to get there, I do however have to keep my portions in check. It's a small price to pay to be able to eat my favorite comfort food.

You can learn more about America Cooks with Chefs and Barilla Pasta by just clicking on the links. What is your favorite pasta recipe, I would love to know!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happiness, It's a Choice!

Last week I shared that Mason was struggling with a strep infection and some side effects that were not adding up. He's been on antibiotics and feeling so much better! It's tough to see your child sick and this last week I got a taste of what it might be like to have a child who is not well. It was awful! I am not usually one to take for granted the things in my life that are good, things like our health, we have jobs, our family is happy, we love the community we live in, and so much more, but this little scare reaffirmed all that I am thankful for every single day. 

We all have had crap that has made us sad or mad. Life experiences that have in some cases deeply affected who we are, but they are not forever - unless you choose to keep them alive forever. Continuing to focus on that which we don't have, past hurts, and the continual pity party that life is about a shitty job, stupid people, not enough money, blah, blah, blah just breathes new life each day into all those awful things. Be done already! Choose to be happy, and look at all you have that is joyous around you, I assure you, there is SO much to be thankful for if you will just choose to look. Do you struggle with letting go of the negativity in life? 

I made a decision many years ago to not be a victim. I learned what it meant to take full responsibility for my life, and that meant understanding that where I am today is because of something I am doing or not doing. Not because my job sucks. Not because I couldn't catch a break to get my education earlier in life. Not because of any single thing someone else has done. I can recall darn near the exact moment this change happened for me and I was scared, I remember thinking, how can I control what other people do? If someone does this or that to me, it's not my fault. What I discovered is that it just plain does not matter what anyone else does, it only matters what I do - and don't do. I learned to not participate in illegal activity (seriously, that one was a no brainer!), I learned to get clear about what I wanted in life and I took steps to move in that direction. What I really learned is that other people don't really matter at all as long as I am clear about who I am, what I want, and how I want to get there. I found that by taking responsibility I had the power and control to make things happen, stop or start something, and make changes. As long as you live your life saying, "It's not my fault." "I didn't do it." "Not my job." you will never take control of your life, you will always be living your life at the mercy of other's choices. 

On the other side of this are the circumstances of having people in your life who can't let go of all the bad and you simply cannot disconnect from them. Again, I come back to what I know - it is up to me to see the joy, to point it out and revel in it. Ultimately, there is a profound sadness that I feel for those who live like this; heavy, sad, mad, when really there is so much joy and light all around them. Who knows who may be there at the end of their lives, but I suspect they will wish they smiled more, looked to possibilities instead of disappointments, and spent more time with people they love instead of thinking of the things they still don't have and likely never will...not because they can't, but because if they make it happen to have it, they won't have the evidence of the disappointment to fall back on when they need to reference their list of all that's been sucky about their life.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Feeling Under the Weather...

Things are a bit unsettled this week. Mason has been experiencing an odd set of circumstances that we originally thought he was having an allergic reaction to a number of bug bites. We are seeing his doctor again tomorrow and hopefully we can nail this down and get him feeling better.

*That was last Monday and after several more medical visits and blood tests, here is what was determined; It went from the allergic reaction idea to dehydration, to the idea that there was possibly something else going on. He was experiencing headaches, dizziness, joint pain that was moving from one joint to the next with some of them swelling immensely. The long story short is that he had a severe strep infection and his primary care doctor was concerned that #1, the severity of the strep infection showed no other signs, no fever, no lethargy, no pain when swallowing, no loss of appetite, just the high level of infection that his body was having a hard time fighting. #2, an untreated strep infection can lead to rheumatic fever, which I have learned involves joint pain and swelling (his left ankle swelled up so big he couldn't walk for 3 days), headaches, and heart problems. We are following up to be sure all is well, but since he started the antibiotics he is doing so much better. I will be more aware of the signs of arthritis and appreciate what we typically take for granted with healthy kids. 

*Edited with the update 4/12/15

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter Monday!

Mason delivering some Easter Cheer!

Happy Monday after Easter!

Well, I hope it's happy for you, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather, sort of like I might be getting sick, but not really feeling like I am sick at all. I went back to bed and that was good, but I'm still moving more slowly than normal.   

We had a really lovely Easter, Dave has more holiday food traditions than anyone I know! For Easter he has a traditional breakfast of hard boiled eggs and Polish sausage. For dinner, he makes lamb and ham (Mason and I do not like lamb), asparagus and scalloped potatoes. And for dessert, he makes a lamb cake (pound cake in the 3D shape of a lamb) dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberries and whipped cream (or Cool Whip). 

Mason woke up to an egg hunt and his Easter basket, which he loved. After breakfast, Mason and I answered a call from an elderly man, Gerry who lives in a senior complex to bring something Eastery to his neighbors, many of whom have no family and do not get out. We popped over to the Dollar Store and picked up 10 chocolate bunnies and 10 little decorative flower pots and headed over to Auburn Villa to pass out some Easter cheer. Mason is so good about stuff like this, he has no qualms about knocking on a door and saying, "Happy Easter, I'm Mason and I thought you might like a little sunshine today." He has delivered lunches to the homeless in our town and that didn't scare him either, that could be good and it could be bad, a little fear is healthy. I'm sure he is not scared as I am with him and I can hear him saying something like, Mom, I'm bringing them food, why would they want to hurt me? Right? He's a good boy, though he still has a lot to learn in that he is living a very privelidged life and has no idea what it feels like to truly want for something or not have his most basic needs met. This is a huge challenge for me as his mom - finding a way to help him see, while not putting him in such a place none of us want our kids to know. In any case, he made some older folks smile and one lady was so touched she cried. We went back to Gerry's place and he asked Mason if he knew how to throw pizza dough and was totally surprised when Mason told him yes. They both put on chef hats and proceeded to show each other what they could do. We took some photos and left Gerry with some homemade cookies, hard boiled eggs and a chocolate Easter bunny but I think that all paled by comparison to Mason just spending some time with him and making him laugh. 

Mason and Gerry - Happy Easter!

I hope your Easter was as lovely and I would love to hear all about it! Have a great week and do something to brighten someone elses day this week, it can be something as simple as sharing a smile with a stranger.